House of Representatives
11 September 1979

31st Parliament · 1st Session

Mr SPEAKER (Rt Hon. Sir Billy Snedden) took the chair at 2. 1 5 p.m., and read prayers.

page 897



-I have received a telegram from the solicitors acting on behalf of John Fairfax and Sons Ltd in relation to a petition presented to this House on 28 August 1979 which the House referred to the Committee of Privileges on 30 August 1979 for consideration and advice. The telegram reads as follows:

The defamation proceedings between Mr Tom Uren and John Fairfax and Sons Limited our client were settled by order made by consent of the parties by His Honour Mr Justice Nagel after the case commenced yesterday.

In the circumstances no further steps with respect to the petition need to be taken. A formal letter follows.

Stephen, Jacques and Stephen

Leader of the House · New England · NCP/NP

- Mr Speaker, following the presentation of the telegram to which you have just adverted, I seek leave to move a motion to rescind the reference of the petition to the Privileges Committee. In so doing, I indicate to the House that it is my understanding that the honourable member for Burke (Mr Keith Johnson) intends to raise as a matter of privilege an order issued in that case by His Honour Mr Justice Begg. I intend thereafter to move a motion for a further reference to the Privileges Committee.

Leave granted.

Motion (by Mr Sinclair) agreed to:

That the resolution of the House of Representatives of 30 August 1979, referring to the Committee of Privileges the petition of John Fairfax and Sons Limited presented to the House on 28 August 1 979, be rescinded.

Mr Keith Johnson:

– I raise a matter of privilege. It has come to my notice that in the Supreme Court of New South Wales on 23 August 1979 Mr Justice Begg issued an order in the case of Uren v. John Fairfax and Sons Ltd. The effect of the order, as I understand it, was to permit the use in court for a limited purpose of certain records of the proceedings of this House. It is well known that, by the 9th Article of the Bill of Rights, it was declared:

That the freedom of speech, and debates or proceedings in Parliament, ought not to be impeached or questioned in any court or place out of Parliament.

That is a direct quote from page 77 of the 19th Edition of May’s Parliamentary Practice. It seems to me Mr Speaker, that the action of Mr Justice Begg may have infringed the privileges of this House. I ask for your ruling whether this is an appropriate matter to be referred to the Committee of Privileges.


-I have had the opportunity of seeing the order of Mr Justice Begg. I have had the opportunity also of consultations with the Leader of the House. A motion which I understand the right honourable gentleman is about to move has my concurrence. I think that that motion, if passed by the House, will encompass the matter raised by the honourable gentleman without identifying it as the sole issue. It is a broader issue. I therefore will call upon the Leader of the House to move his motion. I am quite sure the honourable member for Burke will be satisfied that the matter will be incorporated within that motion if it is passed by the House.

Leader of the House · New England · NCP/NP

– I move:

This motion, in its wider compass, picks up part of the purpose for the earlier reference to the Privileges Committee. In this chamber there is obviously a concern as to the extent to which proceedings should be made available to the courts in future instances. Whilst the honourable member for Burke (Mr Keith Johnson) has raised a specific matter, the Government feels that there would be more benefit for the consideration of this chamber if the Privileges Committee were to look at the matter in the broad rather than in the particular. I would therefore commend this broader motion for acceptance by members of the chamber.


-My case with John Fairfax and Sons Ltd has been settled. An apology was tendered today on the editorial page of the Sydney Morning Herald.

Smith · Kingsford

– Without quibbling with the words in the motion, in an effort to expedite the matter and to agree that something should be decided by the Privileges Committee, I wish to state that in the case in question the idea behind the petition was to use the Hansard of this House to crossexamine a member. I think that is an infringement of privilege. I do not think any petition, no matter which side of the House it comes from, should ever be granted unless the House is unanimous that the course of justice would be furthered. One cannot have the cause of justice furthered by a majority of the House. The rights of the House belong to each member and should not be transgressed by a government or by anybody getting the numbers and saying: ‘I am going to make certain that what you said in the House is going to be the subject of crossexamination in a court’. I think the rule is clear, as referred to by the honourable member for Burke (Mr Keith Johnson). The Bill of Rights gives certain freedom of expression in this chamber. If what each of us says in the course of that expression is going to be the subject of crossexamination in the witness box, we lose that freedom. I do not think it is a matter for any court to determine.

I make this point: This House is a court in itself- a supreme court- to try to regulate the conduct of members. If a member transgresses the rights of individuals, we, as a parliament, can deal with that member and can expel him. There is a sanction on our behaviour here. But to inhibit us on the basis that perhaps we are not allowed to say something, because if we do we can be the subject of legal action which will be the subject of cross-examination, I think, is an inhibition of our rights. Whilst everyone is anxious to facilitate the cause of justice, I do not think the motion ought to be on that basis. I do not want to alter it now, but I want to say that if and when it goes to the Privileges Committee, members of the Committee ought to look at the rights of each and every one of us in this chamber on the basis that those rights are in no way interfered with unless the House unanimously agrees that such action can take place.


-I will ensure that the point made by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition goes to the Privileges Committee if, as I anticipate, the House approves the motion. The Privileges Committee will have to consider this matter in detail. I am sure it is the will of the House to facilitate the courts to the extent possible without derogation from the privileges of the House.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

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The Clerk:

– 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, of the Australian Parliament assembled. The petition of certain citizens of N.S.W respectfully showeth:

Dismay at the reduction in the total expenditure on education proposed for 1980 and in particular to Government Schools.

Government School bear the burden of these cuts, 11.2 per cent while non-Government school will receive an increase of 3.4 per cent.

We call on the Government to again examine the proposals as set out in the guidelines for Education expenditure 1980 and to immediately restore and increase substantially in real terms the allocation of funds for education expenditure in 1980 to Government schools.

And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Anthony, Mr Baume, Mr Lionel Bowen, Mr Cadman, Mr Cohen, Mr Dobie, Dr Edwards, Mr Gillard, Mr Howard, Mr Hunt, Mr Les Johnson, Mr Charles Jones, Mr Lusher, Mr MacKenzie, Mr Martin, Mr Morris, Mr O’Keefe, Mr Sainsbury, Mr Sinclair and Mr West.

Petitions received.

Commonwealth Employees (Employment Provisions) Act

To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of electors of the State /Territory of N.S.W. respectfully showeth:

That the Commonwealth Employees (Employment Provisions) Act 1977 should immediately be repealed because:

It provides unfettered power to Ministers to suspend, stand-down and dismiss Commonwealth Government employees and places them in a markedly disadvantageous position as compared with all other Australian workers.

Its use places Commonwealth Government employees in direct conflict with the Government as it circumvents the arbitration tribunals and denies appeal rights.

Its use will exacerbate industrial disputes and inflame industrial relations in the Commonwealth area of employment.

The International Labour Organisation has condemned the Provisions of the Act as being incompatible with the rights of organised labour in a free society.

And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Baume, Mr Lionel Bowen, Mr Dobie, Mr Fife, Mr Gillard, Mr Hunt, Mr Martin, Mr Ian Robinson and Mr Sinclair.

Petitions received.

Commonwealth Employees (Employment Provisions) Act

To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of electors of the State/Territory of Qld respectfully showeth:

That the Commonwealth Employees (Employment Provisions) Act 1977 should immediately be repealed because:

It provides unfettered power to Ministers to suspend, stand-down and dismiss Commonwealth Government employees and places them in a markedly disadvantageous position as compared with all other Australian workers.

Its use places Commonwealth Government employees in direct conflict with the Government as it circumvents the arbitration tribunals and denies appeal rights.

Its use will exacerbate industrial disputes and inflame industrial relations in the Commonwealth area of employment.

The International Labour Organisation has condemned the Provisions of the Act as being incompatible with the rights of organised labour in a free society.

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

Petition received.

Pornographic Publications

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

That we the undersigned, having great concern at the way in which children are now being used in the production of pornography call upon the Government to introduce immediate legislation-

  1. . To prevent the sexual exploitation of children by way of photography for commercial purposes;
  2. To penalise parents/guardians who knowingly allow their children to be used in the production of such pornographic or obscene material depicting children;
  3. To make specifically illegal the importation, publication, distribution and sale of such pornographic child-abuse material in any form whatsoever such as magazines, novels, papers or films;
  4. To take immediate police action to confiscate and destroy all child pornography in Australia and urgent appropriate legal action against all those involved or profiting from this sordid exploitation of children.

Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that your honourable House will protect all children and immediately prohibit pornographic child-abuse materials, publications or films.

And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Adermann, MrDrummond and Mr Martyr.

Petitions received.


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

That a grave threat to the life of refugees from the various States of Indo-China arises from the policies of the Government of Vietnam.

That, as a result of these policies, many thousands of refugees are fleeing their homes and risking starvation and drowning. Because of the failure of the rich nations of the world to provide more than token assistance, the resources of the nations of first refuge, especially Malaysia and Thailand, are being stretched beyond reasonable limits.

As a wealthy nation within the region most affected, Australia is able to play a major part in the rescue as well as resettlement of these refugees.

It should be possible for Australia to: establish and maintain on the Australian mainland basic transit camps for the housing and processing of 200,000 refugees each year; mobilise the Defence Force to search for, rescue and transport to Australia those refugees who have been able to leave the Indo-China States; accept the offer of those church groups which propose to resettle some thousands of refugees in Australia.

The adoption of such a humane policy would have a marked effect on Australia ‘s standing within the region.

And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Malcolm Fraser, Mr Clyde Cameron and Mr Lloyd.

Petitions received.

Marine Radio Licence Fees

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

That we oppose the increase in marine radio licence fees for the following reasons-

  1. 1 ) Radios are an essential part of safety equipment.
  2. Marine radio users save government millions of dollars in search and rescue.
  3. Increased licences will deter the boating fraternity from purchasing and using radios for their own safety.

Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the government will reconsider the increased licence fee and also consider a reduction for pensioners.

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

Petitions received.


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, as it is clear that unemployment is a long term problem in Australia, the Government should extend to the unemployed the same assistance as is given to any other disadvantaged member of the community. There is an urgent need to alleviate the financial hardship and emotional stress that the unemployed are suffering.

Your petitioners therefore pray:

  1. . That the Government adopt positive policies to reduce unemployment,
  2. That the basic Unemployment Benefit be raised to a least the level of the poverty line as calculated by Professor Henderson,
  3. In line with other Social Service additional income awards, and in order to encourage work creation schemes and the fostering of initiative and self respect, that the $6 per week additional income limit be raised to at least $20 per week,
  4. That the financial penalties above the earning of $20 per week, assessed on a monthly basis, be calculated at the same rate as other Social Security benefits.
  5. That the Commonwealth grant subsidies to state governments so that the unemployed can be granted transport concessions in order that they are not penalised in job seeking.
  6. That pharmaceutical and medical concessions be granted to the unemployed equivalent to those received by other Social Service beneficiaries.

And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Lionel Bowen and Dr Everingham.

Petitions received.

Aid to Vietnam

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

  1. That the social, economic and environmental effects of over thirty years of war in Vietnam were considerable.
  2. That the effects of the war have been exacerbated by a succession of major natural disasters and by the refusal of the United States of America to fulfill their aid obligations.
  3. That the Australian Government and the Australian people have, because of their involvement in the war against the Vietnamese people a strong responsibility to grant maximum possible aid to the Government of and people of Vietnam.
  4. That actions by other nations to fulfill their reconstruction aid obligations to Vietnam will greatly assist the rebuilding the living standards of the Vietnamese people thus assisting in alleviating the refugee problem.

Your petitioners most humbly pray that the Australian Government will undertake to

  1. reverse its decision to suspend all reconstruction aid to and cultural exchanges with the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.
  2. develop in conjunction with the Government of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, a reconstruction aid programme so as to fulfill our moral obligations to the people of Vietnam.

And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Holding and Mr Howe.

Petitions received.

Metric System

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 the plan to obliterate the traditional weights and measures of this country does not have the support of the people;

That the change is causing and will continue to cause, widespread, serious and costly problems; .

That the compulsory tactics being used to force the change are a violation of all democratic principles.

Your petitioners therefore pray:

That the Metric Conversion Act be repealed to ensure that the people are free to utilize whichever system they prefer and so enable the return to imperial weights and measures wherever the people so desire;

That weather reporting be as it was prior to the passing of the Metric Conversion Act;

That the Australian Government take urgent steps to cause the traditional mile units to be restored to our highways;

That the Australian Government request the State Governments to procure that the imperial and metric systems be taught together in schools.

And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Howe and Mr Jarman.

Petitions received.


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

  1. In South Australia Pre-School services are becoming increasingly inadequate.
  2. The development of adequate services has been curtailed by reduced Federal Budget allocations to Pre-Schools in the last two years.
  3. Projected cuts for 1979-80 will cause further deterioration of the quality of services offered.

Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the Federal Government increase its allocation for Pre-School education immediately to enable the provision of adequate pre-school services in S.A

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

Petitions received.


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 restoration of provisions of the Social Security Act that applied prior to the 1978-79 Budget is of vital concern to offset the rising cost of goods and services.

The reason advanced by the Government for yearly payments ‘that the lower level of inflation made twice-yearly payments inappropriate ‘ is not valid.

Great injury will be caused to 920,000 aged, invalid, widows and supporting parents, who rely solely on the pension or whose income, other than the pension, is $6 or less per week. Once-a-year payments strike a cruel blow to their expectation and make a mockery of a solemn election pledge.

Accordingly, your petitioners call upon their legislators to:

  1. Restore twice-yearly pension adjustments in the Autumn session.
  2. Raise pensions and unemployed benefits above the poverty level to 30 per cent of average weekly earnings.

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

Petitions received.

Citizen Forces: Long Service and Good Conduct Medals

To the Honourable 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 sheweth:

  1. On 14 February 1975, the then Australian Government deprived the Officers and men of the Australian Citizen Naval, Military and Air Forces of the distinctive and historic Decorations and Medals for long service and good conduct, namely the Reserve Decoration, the Efficiency Decoration, the Air Efficiency Award, the Efficiency Medal and Long

Service and Good Conduct Medals, awarded for long and meritorious voluntary service in the citizen forces:

  1. The proposed substitution of the National Medal for these Decorations and Medals varies the principle of selective recognition of efficient voluntary service in the citizen forces in that it recognises the period of service only and embraces also full time service as well in the defence forces as in the police, fire brigade and ambulance services:
  2. This deprivation caused and is continuing to cause serious discontent amongst personnel of the Citizens Forces who willingly and cheerfully give of their spare time outside their normal full time civilian careers, to serve Her Majesty and Australia:
  3. The Reserve Forces of Australia have been recognised by the present Government as a valuable- and costeffective component of the Defence Forces. Anomalously, whilst the Government is actually supporting recruiting for these Forces it has imposed and continued this deprivation which as foresaid has depressed the morale of the Citizen Forces:
  4. Her Majesty has not cancelled the said Decorations and Medals.

Your petitioners therefore humbly pray:

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 (CMF) and the RAAF Citizens Air force. by Mr Aldred.

Petition received.

Metric System

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 objection to the Metric system, and request the Government to restore the Imperial system.

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

Petition received.


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


This petition of teachers, students, parents, and users of the Inner City Education Centre of 37 Cavendish Street, Stanmore in the State of New South Wales respectfully showeth that:

We protest against funds for the Services and Development Program, the Education Centres Program, and Special Projects Program being cut.

The Inner City Education Centre would be forced to restrict its services which contribute in such a valuable way to inner city education.

Your petitioners humbly pray that your Honourable House will take steps to ensure that these funds are not cut.

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

Petition received.

Sydney (Kingsford-Smith) Airport

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

  1. We call upon the Commonwealth and State Governments to select a site for Sydney’s second Airport now and to protect it by immediate development.
  2. We do not agree to the expansion of the Sydney (Kingsford-Smith) Airport.
  3. We support the Marrickville Municipal Council’s opposition to the Airport extension proposals.
  4. We do not agree that nuisances from aircraft noises are reducing.
  5. We oppose any shorter evening ‘curfew ‘ hours.

Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that there be no extension of Kingsford-Smith Airport, Sydney.

And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Lionel Bowen.

Petition received.

Clayfield Child Care Centre

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

The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth that it is with alarm that we observe, quarter by quarter, the reduction in our Government grant. The Clayfield Child Care Centre is a non profit making organization and it is difficult to increase fees continually, to correspond with the reduction in the grant.

Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the Government halt any further reduction in the grant as the families in the community find the ever increasing fees a strain financially. As we have a number of single parent families and disadvantaged children at the Centre, we are most concerned that especially these families should suffer.

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

Petition received.

Commemorative Stamp

To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned electors of the Division of the Northern Territory respectfully showeth: that we are distressed and concerned by the refusal by Australia Post to issue a Commemorative Stamp upon the 50th Anniversary of the Association of Apex Clubs.

Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that your Honourable House will do all within its power to have the Commonwealth Government take immediate action to guarantee the reconsideration of the application.

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

Petition received.

Universal Disarmament

To the Speaker and the House of Representatives in Parliament Assembled.

The petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia in Parkes, N.S.W. respectfully showeth that taking note that the very survival of mankind is at stake, with the stockpile of nuclear weapons able to kill every person on Earth 24 times over; and this at the inflation causing cost of $1,000 million per day for the World, $7 million per day for Australia; and noting that the energies released by lifting the burden of armaments could solve such problems as:

World hunger The cost of one nuclear missile could feed the entire population of Bangladesh for 2 months; and1 per cent of military budgets could finance the World Food Conference plans for increased food production and emergency reserves.

Malaria, smallpox, even cancer: The total cost of W.H.O. ‘s campaign for the eradiction of Smallpox was $83m- the cost of one bomber; with $450m-½ day’s spending for military purposes, W.H.O. could completely eradicate Malaria; similarly with Cancer.

Education: At present, there are as many soldiers as teachers.

Unemployment: $49m- one week’s worth- 1/52 of Australia ‘s defence spending- could create 3,000 jobs.

And noting that the Prime Minister, in his speech to the U.N. Special Session, said that “conscience and reason demand that this waste of resources cease “and” that disarmament is a matter of political leadership. “

Call upon the Australian Government, as a matter of the highest priority, in the interests of the Australian people no less than those of other peoples, to give this political leadership by acting promptly and effectively to further the disarmament which is the desire and determined will of the vast majority of the people of every nation in the World.

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

Petition received.

Pensioners: Home Maintenance Loans

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 the 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 the 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 1 975 under the Chairmanship of the Reverend K. Seaman (now 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 1976-77 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.

Petition received.


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 further cutbacks in Commonwealth funding to State Schools and transferral of funds to wealthy independent schools as required under the guidelines to the Schools Commission announced by the Minister for Education in early June are of vital concern in that they mitigate against the interests of the great majority of Australian Children in State Schools.

That Queensland State Schools have not reached the Resource Usage Targets set by the Schools Commission, and even at those financial levels will fall well short of actual provision standards envisaged by the Commission.

That Queensland’s effort in respect of Capital works is particularly of concern being less than half the per capita effort of other States.

Your petitioners therefore call on their legislators to ensure-

  1. That Federal funding to State Schools is restored to at least 1974-75 levels;
  2. the independence of the Schools Commission to recommend the allocation of funds to schools on the basis of need, unhindered by Government directive; and
  3. that sufficient funds are provided to Queensland, appropriately tied, to ensure achievement of National standards in this State.

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

Petition received.

Private Charles Edward Cruwys

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 circumstances surrounding the illegal absence of Private Charles Edward Cruwys (NX58506) from the Army in 1945 would indicate that the resultant dishonourable discharge was too harsh a penalty.

Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that a pardon be granted to former Private Charles Edward Cruwys.

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

Petition received.

Employment Opportunities

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

  1. Those of us who are unemployed want jobs. In Northcote, more than 1000 adults are unemployed but there are only 65 job vacancies. We reject the continuing government suggestions that we are somehow to blame for our own unemployment. Many factories have closed down or moved to S.E. Asia. Jobs in offices and shops are being threatened by technology.
  2. Those of us who are parents want decent job prospects for our children. In Northcote, there are more than 500 unemployed teenagers, but only 25 junior job vacancies. A quarter of last years school leavers are still unemployed. Many others, even with good qualifications, have had to accept unsatisfactory employment, often abandoning their chosen career.
  3. Those of us who have jobs reject the government’s attacks upon our unions and our working conditions. Abolition of penalty rates may raise company profits, but will not create jobs for the unemployed.
  4. Those of us not in the labour force- students, housewives and the retired, want to have realistic job opportunities available to us if we wish to work full-time or parttime. Hundreds of people like us are deterred from registering as unemployed because we know that jobs simply do not exist
  5. Those of us who are on the dole ask to be treated like human beings. We are not to blame for our own unemployment. Many of us have applied for scores, even hundreds, of jobs. Our unemployment benefits are well below the poverty line, which is especially harsh for those of us with families.

Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the house will start to do something realistic about job creation, and will cease attempting to divert effort and attention towards ameliorative and virtually useless window-dressing schemes.

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

Petition received.

Telephone Subscribers

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

That the changes to the system of telephone charging announced by the Minister for Posts and Telecommunications on Tuesday, 5 June 1979, fail to meet the needs of the people of the Division of Macquarie in the following respects-

  1. . The bulk of the City of Blue Mountains will fail to gain any significant concession through the new arrangements, despite the fact that the City qualifies as a near-Metropolitan area; and
  2. The failure to grant local call access to Sydney to the residents of the City of Penrith is a clear repudiation of a promise made to those residents by the Government in 1977.

Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the House take action to give all necessary directions to have those subscribers presently in the 047 Zone included in the Sydney Telephone District.

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

Petition received.

Television Programs

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

That because television and radio

  1. affect our social and moral environment,
  2. are family media watched and heard by many children at all times, and
  3. present too much explicit violence and sex, they therefore need stronger control than other media and the existing standards need stricter enforcement in both national ABC, and commercial sectors.

Your petitioners therefore humbly pray:

That the Australian Government will amend the Broadcasting and Television Act, in relation to both national and commercial broadcasters, to legislate

  1. for adequate and comprehensive programs in the best interests of the general public,
  2. for a ‘Dual System of Regulation’ enforced by the Australian Broadcasting Tribunal by internal regulation and external control,
  3. for an independent consumer body to represent the best interests of the general public, and
  4. for immediate and effective penalties to be imposed for breaches of program and advertising standards.

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

Petition received.

Sales Tax on Handcrafted Articles

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

The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth that the sales tax as applied to articles handmade by artisans is unfair.

An artisan is a handcraftsman, or a handcraftswoman, who exercises a non agricultural activity, revolving around the transformation of materials with his own handwork or that of his family. On craft, above all, the accent must be on design, practicability and quality, where the craftsman must perforce pay highly for his raw materials and time must not be a conditioning factor in the making of an article.

This petition seeks the objective examination of the existing Sales Tax Acts in respect to persons seeking to earn their living by the labour of their hands alone.

Every day, skilled artisans are being forced out of their livelihood, not by the competition of machine made goods, not by high prices of materials, but by the injustice of antiquated Sales Tax Laws. The artisan, thus taxed out of his living, will then go onto unemployment benefits, or worse still, to prostituting his craft by sacrificing his professional integrity, forcing him to lower his standards of workmanship in order to conform to existing laws.

We therefore request that a Sales Tax exemption be created immediately for all hand crafted articles.

We also request that the current exemption limit of $ 1 , 400 and $1,000 respectively referred to in items100-(1) and 100-(2) of the Sales Tax (Exemption and Classifications) Act 1935-1967, be immediately raised to a realistic figure, in line with current living standards, and from then on to be periodically reviewed so as to keep pace with the Australian standard of living.

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

Petition received.

National Health Scheme

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

  1. . It is our belief that at the next sittings of the Parliaments it is the intention of the Government to increase the $2.50 NHS patient contribution.
  2. We the undersigned strongly object to the Government taking this action.

We therefore do ask the Government of Australia not to take the action that is believed intended.

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

Petition received.

Sale of Government Enterprises

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:

There is a definite limit to the quantity of Australia’s mineral resources.

Accordingly our resources should be managed and developed under Australian ownership and control.

Publicly owned trading enterprises and corporations have been established and operated for the benefit of Australians since Federation.

The Commonwealth Banking Corporation, Trans Australia Airlines, Housing Loans Insurance Corporation, Australian Meat and Livestock Corporation, Australian Wheat Board, were all designed to operate to the benefit of our Nation as a whole under public ownership.

The Fraser government ‘s irresponsible proposals to sell off our Nation’s interest in the Ranger Uranium Mine, the Housing Loans Insurance Corporation, and to dispose of other successful statutory corporations such as Trans Australia Airlines, would be contrary to the Nation’s interests.

Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the House of Representatives will reject outright proposals of the Fraser government to sell the Ranger Uranium Mine, the Housing Loans Insurance Corporation, Trans Australia Airlines, and other publicly owned enterprises.

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

Petition received.

Youth Shelter: Launceston

To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. We the undersigned citizens of Australia request that:

A suitable youth shelter be provided for the homeless youth of Launceston.

We consider that this shelter should be established within the city of Launceston boundaries.

We your humble petitioners therefore pray that this need be attended to as a priority need.

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

Petition received.


The Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives assembled:

The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of Gippsland of the State of Victoria, respectfully sheweth, that many Gippsland television viewers enjoy excellent reception of Melbourne based television stations, such reception of programs in the area has been of mutual benefit to both Melbourne and country commercial interests and country citizens generally. This good reception has been of particular benefit to many viewers in the central and western end of Gippsland who have experienced difficulty in having receivers pick up a clear signal from GLV 10. Most Gippsland TV viewers who receive Melbourne station signals have gone to considerable expense to provide special antennas and booster equipment.

Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that, no action be taken which would prejudice the signal of Channels 7 and 9 being received in the Gippsland Region.

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

Petition received.

Australian Broadcasting Tribunal

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 say we are concerned about the lack of public participation allowed in the decision making of the Broadcasting Tribunal.

Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that Parliament take immediate steps to dismiss the present members of the tribunal, replacing them with:

  1. Janet Strickland Chairperson

    1. One elected representative from Federation of Australian Commercial Television Stations ( FACTS )
    2. One Elected Representative from all public lobby groups who are requesting improved television standards
    3. One elected representative from organisations whose members work in the television industry.

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

Petition received.

page 904



page 904




– I ask the Minister for National Development: Is it a fact that an energy Green Paper prepared by his Department in relation to the dramatic price flow-ons from decisions of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries, said that ‘in the interests of economic stability the Australian Government could decide not to immediately flow through such an increase to the price of indigenous crude oil’? Did the same Green Paper also state that a policy of phasing OPEC oil prices into the Australian price ‘would not necessarily conflict with the objective of world parity pricing for indigenous crude oil”? Did the Minister support his Department and the policy advocated by his Department? If not, why not?

Minister for National Development · BASS, TASMANIA · LP

– In answering the question let me point out one fundamental thing: There is a world of difference between a discussion paper and policy. This Government has a clear policy on parity pricing and that stands in sharp contrast with the confusion on the Opposition side of the House on the matter. Parity pricing is absolutely key to any energy policy that any government around the world may pursue. Why is this so? Let me remind the Opposition once again. Mr Mulock, the New South Wales Minister for Mineral Resources and Development understands and even Senator Walsh understands. Later in debating the matter of public importance on this subject I will be quite willing to expose the honourable member to what Senator Walsh has to say about it. Let me repeat it again for the benefit of those on the other side of the House who are ignorant about parity pricing. Parity pricing means the encouragement of fuel conservation. Let us make no mistake about that. It means the substitution of alternative fuels that this country has- fuels such as coal, natural gas and electricity. It means that people can make rational decisions about the production of alternative fuels- synthetic fuels, methanol, ethanol, oil from coal and oil from shale. Finally, and not least, it encourages exploration and development of oil and gas fields in this country.

page 905




-I direct my question to the Prime Minister. I refer to the constitutional conference taking place in London at the present time on the future of Zimbabwe-Rhodesia. Does the Prime Minister share the view expressed that this is ‘the last chance for negotiated peace in that country’?

Prime Minister · WANNON, VICTORIA · LP

– Whether it is the last chance or not, clearly time is running out for a negotiated peace in Zimbabwe-Rhodesia. An opportunity has been provided as a result of the Lusaka agreement. I think we must all hope that that opportunity is built upon at the constitutional conference that is now being held. An opportunity has been presented to all the parties by the conference called by the United Kingdom. We must hope very much that they have the good sense and the wisdom to seize the opportunities that are opened up. The fact that the parties to the dispute- parties which have been engaged in a bloody warfare against each other- are now sitting at the conference table with Great Britain is a tremendous achievement by itself; an achievement for Britain principally, but also for the front-line states and all those who have promoted and fostered the cause of a peaceful settlement in Zimbabwe-Rhodesia. Again, we must hope that that achievement is built upon by good sense at the conference.

There are many vital issues to be discussed and settled before anyone can be sure that there will be a final peaceful outcome. They relate not only to the constitution but also, if there is agreement on it, to the difficult issues in relation to the transition arrangements and the disposition of the forces of different elements- different parties. But it must be our great hope- and I am quite sure that all members of this House would share it- in acknowledging what has been achieved so far, that good sense and a willingness to work together for a peaceful outcome will characterise the progress of this most important conference.

A continuation of the fighting, or a continuation of the bitterness, has the high likelihood of involving more of southern Africa and doing more damage to more economies, with more people paying a high price in poverty, in difficulty, or in death, and the high possibility also of outside powers gaining a greater sway and influence within Africa because countries that supply arms or guns tend to have a political influence flowing from that and as a result of it. I do not believe that anyone in southern Africa wants that kind of conclusion. Therefore, we must hope and pray that the opportunity that has been opened up by this London conference is seized and built upon.

page 905


Mr John Brown:

– The Minister for National Development is no doubt aware of the contents of the Green Paper on energy produced by his own Department.

Honourable members interjecting

Mr John Brown:

-Well, maybe he is not. Is he aware of the changes wrought to his Green Paper by other departments, particularly the Treasury and the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet? Did the Minister agree with the policies and attitudes put forward by those two departments? If so, why? If not, why not?


-The honourable member asks me whether I am aware of the changes that were wrought, I think he said, in the Green Paper of the Department of National Development. Yes, I am very aware of the changes that were wrought in that Green Paper. The changes were that we translated it into a vital, comprehensive energy policy for this country.

Mr Keating:

– You mean that statement that Fraser made?


-That is what happened to that discussion paper, and we make no bones about it.


-Order! The Minister will resume his seat. The honourable member for Blaxland well knows the forms of the House which are that a member must be referred to by his title or his electorate.


– It is quite clear what the Government did with the various drafts of the discussion paper that was being worked on by the Department of National Development in consultation with other departments, which is perfectly normal. As I was saying, that discussion paper was turned into a vital, comprehensive energy policy for this country. It is an energy policy that encompasses a wide spectrum of policy initiatives. It covers a proper, realistic pricing policy which I have dealt with already, in answer to an earlier question. It deals with a proper, rational, co-ordinated energy research and development program for this country. It encompasses the best incentives for exploration that this country has ever seen. In fact, they are probably equal to any in the world. I give only some examples of what happened to that Green Paper, and I hope that that satisfies the honourable member.

page 906




-Is the Minister for Health aware of concern expressed by administrators of women’s refuges in New South Wales that Federal Government funding of existing refuges would be cut to enable new refuges to be established? Can he assure the House that the Government has no intention of reducing the funding of existing women ‘s refuges in New South Wales?

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

– I give the honourable member an assurance that the Government is maintaining very substantial funding for women’s refuges throughout Australia, and particularly in New South Wales. Out of this year’s allocation of over $3m, no less than $1,055,000 will be going to New South Wales. That is 12 per cent up on the allocation that was made to that State last year. The amount that has been allocated to the New South Wales Government, in spite of the bleating of the Minister, Mr Jackson, happens to be in accordance with the amount that was sought by the New South Wales Government to maintain services at existing levels. However, I think he may have been somewhat overcome by the fact that the Minister for Social Security, my colleague in the other place, made available $300,000 to child care workers in those refuges. The New South Wales Government could well have undertaken this job since it has a responsibility for children in its own State.

Under the funding arrangements that we have specially established for women’s refuges, they are favoured to this extent: Community health programs, other than those for ethnic health workers, and interpreters and translators in the ethnic communities, are receiving 50 per cent of the capital requirements. The State is being asked to meet a similar portion. We are meeting dollar for dollar the operating costs of all other projects. But for women’s refuges we are meeting 75 per cent of all the capital costs and 50 per cent of the operating costs. So, we are giving special emphasis to them. I will give an undertaking, as I have already done to the women’s refuges in New South Wales, that we will investigate the problem to see what is going on. It is just my hope that the New South Wales Government is not in some way diverting funds that we are making available to the States to other than women’s refuges. We will make sure that those funds go to women’s refuges. I cannot understand why Mr Jackson should be engaging in such a campaign, because he has shown a very poor initiative in this area.

page 906




-The Treasurer is no doubt aware that a number of professional organisations use the pretence of overseas conferences as a method of obtaining holidays largely paid for by Treasury. Is he aware that the Australian Association of Surgeons in co-operation with Ansett Airlines of Australia is doing this in Fiji next month for, as it puts it, up to 20 days and 19 nights? Does he approve of the fact that two attractions apart from tax deductibility being featured for this conference are a talk on ‘Practice Management for Surgeons and their Wives’ and the appearance of the Minister for Finance? Who will pay for the Minister’s trip to Fiji? May I add that the Premier of Queensland did not supply me with this information?


– I am not aware of the specific conference to which the honourable member for Prospect has referred. He has of course once again raised an issue which illustrates that members of the Labor Party are past masters at getting keen on an idea once they have seen that somebody else is doing it. As the honourable gentleman’s question has suggested, the Labor Party is now starting to get interested in alleged abuses of the taxation system. It has taken a long time for the Labor Party to do that. I say to the honourable member for Prospect that, as far as I am concerned, the taxation laws of this country ought to contain provision for the deduction of reasonable expenses incurred in connection with conferences which involve professional and educational activities involved in a person’s business or profession. There is no reason in the world why the taxation laws of this country ought not to include reasonable provision for matters of that nature. All that the honourable member for Prospect and other members of the Opposition do by raising these types of matters is to illustrate again and again how sensitive they are to the fact that when they were in government they did nothing about the real abuses of the taxation system.

page 907




– I direct my question to the Treasurer. Has his attention been drawn to an article published in the Sunday newspaper in Sydney quoting Mr Eric Risstrom as saying that the Government intends to take advantage of the families of dead people’? Is he aware that Mr Risstrom implies that any inheritance from a deceased estate will be taxed at a rate of 47.5c in the dollar. Is Mr Risstrom correct in advising families that they should make sure that estates are kept in trust and not distributed if this level of tax is to be avoided? Finally, can the Treasurer confirm whether any of these claims made by Mr Risstrom have any validity at all?


– My attention has been drawn to the article to which the honourable member for Calare referred. I can tell the honourable member that it is wrong. The statement that I made on 26 July made it quite clear that income from deceased estates would not be included. I make it clear to the honourable member for Calare also that when the legislation is presented to the Parliament it will likewise ensure that circumstances erroneously referred to by Mr Risstrom are not caught by the changes.

page 907




– I ask a question of the Treasurer. Is it a fact that the price index for materials used in the manufacturing industry recorded an increase of 40.5 per cent in the year to May, representing the highest increase ever recorded for this index? Further, did the price index for goods produced by the manufacturing industry increase by 15.9 per cent in the year to July, and was this the largest increase for the last four years? Have these record rates of inflation been boosted by deliberate government policy, such as import parity pricing for oil, the12½ per cent tariff on quota imports, the 2 per cent duty on non-tariff imports, and a steady devaluation of the Australian dollar? Finally, does the Treasurer recognise that these statistics, in conjunction with other price indices, make it clear that the Government’s high unemployment antiinflationary policies are notably inflationary?


– I have seen the price index to which the Leader of the Opposition has referred. The figures that he mentioned are substantially correct. While I am on the subject of price indices, perhaps I should inform the Leader of the Opposition of some other figures which have come out fairly recently and which are relevant to the international competitiveness of Australia. They illustrate that for the 12 months to July 1979 Australia’s rate of inflation as measured by the consumer price index- the Leader of the Opposition was referring to the consumer price index in his question- was 8.8 per cent, whereas the average for the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development countries was 10 per cent. The interesting point is that over the last six months regrettably -

Mr Hayden:

– They are going down while you are coming up.


-That is just where the Leader of the Opposition is wrong, because over the last six months the gap between Australia ‘s rate and the rate of the OECD countries has broadened. Over the six months to July 1979 the rate in Australia was 9 per cent, whereas the average for OECD countries was 12.9 per cent. The Leader of the Opposition said: ‘While they are coming down, we are going up’. The fact of the matter as I said in the Budget Speech and as members of the Government have not tried to disguise, is that there are inflationary pressures around the world. What really matters is the effect of domestic economic policy in containing those inflationary pressures in Australia. It is in that regard that the Government differs from the Opposition.

We have an effective policy to contain domestic inflation, whereas the Opposition does not.

The Leader of the Opposition talks about energy. He has an Alice in Wonderland energy policy which he says will achieve three things. Firstly, the Opposition’s policy is to continue to encourage exploration and development; secondly, to reduce the price of petrol; and, thirdly, to increase revenue from the crude oil levy. They are the three mutually contradictory things which the Leader of the Opposition says that his energy policy will produce. The truth of the matter is that over the last two weeks since the Budget was brought down neither he nor his colleague, the honourable member for Blaxland, has had the courage to spell out anywhere in Australia what the Opposition’s energy policy really is. The Opposition does not have an effective policy because it is mutually contradictory.

Mr Keating:

– I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. The Minister’s answer was word for word with an article which was written by Peter Bowers and which appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald two weeks ago.


-There is no point of order.

page 908



Mr Ewen Cameron:

-Can the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations inform the House of the effect on the Australian work force if the Australian Council of Trade Unions wages policy were to be implemented?

Minister for Industrial Relations · CORANGAMITE, VICTORIA · LP

-Of course I have seen references, as I am sure every member of this House has, to the wages policy coming from the Australian Council of Trade Union Congress which is currently being held in Melbourne. What seems to be emerging re-emphasises the problem identified by the Full Bench of the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission when in handing down its latest decision it referred to one side wanting indexation without restraint. What the ACTU policy means and spells out- the ACTU is not keeping it secret- is that in addition to national wage case increases, the union movement must have complete freedom to negotiate whatever it can over and above those increases. As we well know, all too often ‘negotiation’ is a euphemism for ‘extort by industrial blackmail’.

I remind the House of what the Commission said when the indexation package was introduced. It said that the Austraiian economy just could not afford increases over and above that. But the ACTU wages policy does not even stop there. I notice the latest thing is that the

ACTU wants national productivity increases for the last six years to be added to current wage claims. The ACTU wages policy is now exposed as the most selfish ever put forward by an organisation in this country. It completely ignores the interests of those in less secure employment and completely ignores the interests of the unemployed. If it ever came to pass the inevitable, inescapable result must be fewer jobs. I reiterate that this represents a new peak in selfishness, and the people responsible for it will be judged accordingly by the Australian community.

page 908




-I ask a question of the Treasurer which relates to the last question that I asked of him. He will recall stating in his answer that the rate of inflation in Australia was 8.8 per cent as against an average of 10 per cent for the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development countries. Is it a fact, however, that the rate of inflation for Australia for the period the Treasurer referred to was understated by some 1.5 per cent as a result of the ‘judicious’and I put the word ‘judicious’ in inverted commas out of kindness- rigging of health insurance arrangements by the Government in its previous Budget? Is it a fact that if that is allowed for, the inflation rate for Australia for the year just completed is of the order of 1 0.3 per cent, or considerably higher than the average for the OECD countries?

Does the Treasurer deny that inflation is now increasing? If he does deny that inflation is now increasing, and markedly, will he tell the House what has changed between the time of the assumptions and conclusions which led to the forecast explicitly detailed in papers attached to the Budget three weeks ago and now? Why does he present this changed assessment?


-The Leader of the Opposition is getting deeper and deeper into fairyland on this subject. The fact of the matter is that I said in my answer that I was using figures that compared consumer price increases as measured by comparable means in all the OECD countries. The Leader of the Opposition reckons that the consumer price index for the end of July was rigged. If he wants to apply that double standard, the figure of 14 per cent that I used in the Budget Speech as being the rate of inflation in Australia for the 12 months to December 1975 would be closer to 1 6 per cent or 1 7 per cent. The Leader of the Opposition knows as well as I do that, as Treasurer, he had an artificially low figure of 0.9 per cent in the September quarter of 1975 through the rigging of the system with the introduction of Medibank.

page 909




– Is the Minister for the Capital Territory aware of articles which have appeared in the Canberra Times speculating that the Australian Gas Light Co. would offer to invest up to $30m in Canberra and Queanbeyan to reticulate natural gas in this area? Are such reports correct? Would such a project assist in the conservation of scarce oil reserves? Would considerable local employment be created? Is the Minister able to inform the House of other expressions of confidence in the future of Canberra by private enterprise which give the lie to the statements of doom and gloom emanating from the other side of the House?

Minister for Home Affairs · WENTWORTH, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP

-I thank the honourable gentleman for the opportunity to answer a question. Members of the Opposition do not seem to be too interested in asking me questions, particularly about Canberra, for the simple reason that they know the Government is doing a good job in Canberra. As the Minister responsible for the Territory, consistent with the policies that the Government has been introducing, I have been looking at the question of energy. The fact is that the question of linking Canberra to the main natural gas pipeline has been under study. I would like to confirm that I have received a submission from the Australian Gas Light Company. Consistent with the Government’s far-reaching policies on energy which we have heard about from the Minister for National Development-

Mr Scholes:

– They reach right down to the bottom of the Treasury.


-You can laugh about the Government’s policies on energy but the fact is that, except for policies of restriction, bans and limitations, authorities and prohibitions, you do not have any policies at all. That is your energy policy and the people of South Australia, what is more-


– Order!


-Will let you know next Saturday-


– Order! Minister-


– What they think about your energy policies.


– Order! I indicate to the Minister that when I call for him to come to order he should cease speaking. I ask him to remain relevant to the question. I also ask him to address his remarks through the Chair and not directly to the other side of the House. Apart from that, he is doing well.


-I naturally have a very quiet temperament and when the Opposition rouses me you must give me some indulgence.


-No, I will not.


– But if I can go back to the question -


-That is an excellent idea.


– The fact is that I have received a submission from the Australian Gas Light Company and in conjunction with the Minister for National Development I hope to take a submission to the Government. It would be of significance to the national capital to be connected to the natural gas line. Needless to say, as I said before, that is completely consistent with what I, as the Minister for the Capital Territory, have been trying to do in relation to the development of Canberra.

Mr Innes:

– He has done nothing else.


-Order! The honourable member for Melbourne has continually interjected throughout Question Time. I ask him to cease interjecting.


– It is estimated that over the next 20 years some one million tonnes of fuel oil will be used in the national capital by institutional, commercial and industrial bodies and, of course, domestic users. So the connection of natural gas to the city obviously would be of some significance. The honourable member also asked me, Mr Speaker- I shall be quickwhether recently any other things which would show private enterprise confidence in the city had been done. Last week when Parliament was not sitting I announced a tourist complex development project on the Jolimont site, which will involve if it goes ahead- it is a serious proposition- an expenditure of $48m. If anything, that is an extreme indication by private enterprise of its confidence in the national capital. I hope that that project will go ahead next year. I hope that we will soon hear of other measures that would indicate the confidence of private enterprise in the national capital.

page 909




-Did the Minister for Trade and Resources say in a statement on 7 September that he had failed in efforts to prevent the United States of America adopting countercyclical legislation which would permit the ceiling of beef imports by the United States to fall below 1.3 billion lb? On the other hand, did he secure United States agreement that if imports fell below that level the balance of concessions achieved in the Multilateral Trade Negotiations between Australia and the United States could be affected? What is the ‘balance of concessions’ made by Australia and why has the Minister failed to table in the Parliament the document he signed in Washington in March 1979, bearing in mind that members of the United States Congress have already seen the document?

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

– In relation to the latter part of the honourable member’s question, the Government will not be tabling the final outcome of the MTN round until the whole of Australia’s negotiations have been concluded and that conclusion will be upon the presentation of the most recently considered package to the United States Government, which has not yet occurred.

It is true that some readjustments have been made to the settlement that was reached between Australia and the United States concerning the global allocation by America on beef imports. Under the MTN round, Australia achieved a firm floor quota of 1.2 billion lb of meat. That quota is registered with the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade and it is absolutely final. It is a binding arrangement between Australia and the United States. But, over and above that quota, we sought a quota of 1.3 billion lb should countercyclical legislation be brought into being. At the time of the negotiations that was only talked of. Since the completion of the negotiations, the American Congress has agreed to introducing countercyclical legislation. The Administration has agreed to imports of 1.25 billion lb of meat which is a decline of 50m lbs on what it had assured us it would try to obtain from the Congress. It was not final. It was merely an assurance to the Australian Government that the Administration would aim to agree on the level we sought. The Australian allocation of beef into the United States will drop by about 4 per cent should the countercyclical legislation come into being.

I am pleased to say that, as a result of the discussions that have taken place, there have been some adjustments of concessions which are of benefit to the dairy industry and also affecting paper exports from the United States. Furthermore, we have an assurance from the United States Government that should the countercyclical legislation result in imports below 1.3 billion lb there will be room for further adjustments in the future. All told, we have a very satisfactory arrangement. I do not think that people realise how important the binding arrangement that we have with the United States is. For the first time in the history of this country, we have assured access to the United States markets. Until the MTN round was concluded there was never any certainty or security for the Australian beef industry. This arrangement is a wonderful addition to our quota and it provides for the Australian meat industry a security which it has never previously achieved.

page 910



Mr Peter Johnson proceeding to address a question to the Minister for Industrial Relations-


-Order! I cannot permit this question. It is a hypothetical question.

page 910




– My question to the Treasurer refers to his announcement in the Budget Speech concerning the limitation on the value of motor cars for depreciation and leasing purposes. In view of the widespread use of leasing arrangements to generate tax-free capital gains in other areas such as expensive office furniture, paintings, exotic breeds of cattle, nut plantations, et cetera, will the Treasurer give consideration to extending his announced Budget measures to cover tax avoidance under all forms of leasing arrangements?


– No.

page 910




– I direct a question to the Minister for Employment and Youth Affairs. Is there a crisis of business and consumer confidence in South Australia? What is the present unemployment situation in that State? What is required to improve the prospects for job seekers in South Australia?

Minister for Employment and Youth Affairs · STIRLING, WESTERN AUSTRALIA · LP

-The honourable gentleman is spot on about what is being suffered in South Australia at the moment, and that is a crisis of confidence. Not only is investment fleeing from South Australia but also it will not return to South Australia until it has a government which produces policies which will attract investment to that State. If there is one thing that we have learned in Australia in the last three years it is that we need investment and development to produce economic growth and, through that, employment growth.

Unfortunately, in South Australia the unemployment situation at the moment is disastrous. It is the worst in Australia at 40,400 persons or 8.2 per cent of the work force. Last month unemployment in South Australia rose by 5,100 when throughout the rest of Australia it decreased by 4,600. That increase is against the record throughout Australia since January this year, which is that unemployment has dropped by 76,200.

The honourable gentleman asked what can be done about it. There is one very simple message to the people of South Australia. I give an example of how jobs can be created by investment. There are great copper, gold and uranium deposits at Roxby Downs in the electorate of Grey, an electorate held by a Labor member of parliament. I wonder what he thinks about them. What does the honourable member for Bonython say about those deposits? What does the honourable member for Port Adelaide say about them? If those deposits are developed they are capable of producing 55,000 jobs.

Mr Young:

– You tell lies too.


-The honourable member for Port Adelaide will withdraw that statement.

Mr Young:

– I withdraw it and I ask the Minister to stipulate where those jobs will be created. He is telling untruths. He should tell us about the job vacancies in Western Australia, in particular in his electorate, which has the highest unemployment figure in Australia.


-I warn the honourable member for Port Adelaide. He knows that he is not entitled to act as he has. He is demeaning the dignity of Parliament. I ask him to cease doing so and to withdraw unqualifiedly.

Mr Young:

– I withdraw.


– Let me simply spell out not only to the people of South Australia but also to the honourable member for Port Adelaide the potential of the Roxby Downs deposits. A capital investment of $2,000m will involve 2,000 to 3,000 construction jobs, 5,000 permanent jobs and 50,000 additional jobs from the multiplier effects of that one development through industry in South Australia.

Mr Young:

– I am glad you told us.


– If the honourable gentleman will wait a moment -


-Until honourable gentlemen on my left remain silent the House will not proceed.

Mr Neil:

-If the honourable member for St George continues to interject I will deal with him. I ask honourable gentlemen to listen to the answer in silence.

Mr Scholes:

– I take a point of order. It is an offence against the Standing Orders for a Minister to mislead Parliament. This is the second Minister who has done so on a similar matter.


-The honourable gentleman will resume his seat. There is no point of order.

Mr Scholes:

– The Minister has to be wrong. The Deputy Prime Minister said that half a million jobs would be created if we mined at Nabarlek.


-The honourable member for Corio well knows that he should not continue talking when I ask him to resume his seat. If he does so I will discipline him.


– The development of Roxby Downs has, quite properly, been compared with the development of the great Mount Isa deposits. Mount Isa Mines Ltd employs 4,800 people. In Mount Isa itself 10,000 people are employed. The population of Mount Isa is 28,000. This indicates the magnitude of the prospects for development of the great Roxby Downs deposit. If the honourable members of the Opposition are not prepared to accept that, let me quote the words of the former Premier of South Australia, the Hon. Don Dunstan. According to a report to the Australian of 2 1 January this year, Mr Dunstan said:

Supposing I can get it off the ground Roxby Downs is potentially one of the biggest mines in the world. More than 45 per cent of the value in the ore is in uranium. lt is potentially a mine decidedly larger than Mount Isa. It would create jobs directly and spin off thousands of others-

I simply ask the honourable member for Port Adelaide whether he agrees -


-The Minister will not ask the honourable member for Port Adelaide any question. I ask the Minister to draw his answer to a conclusion.

Mr Hurford:

– I am feeling left out. I wonder whether the Minister would ask me. I would like to answer the question.


-The honourable member for Adelaide will resume his seat.


– If Mr Dunstan was interested in getting Roxby Downs off the ground, as he clearly was, then equally clearly the Premier, Mr Corcoran, is not interested in getting the project off the ground, and neither is any member -


-I ask the Minister to draw his answer to a conclusion.


-Quite clearly, with the policies of the present South Australian Government, investment will not flow into South Australia. Jobs of a kind which will come from the development of Roxby Downs or any other mineral potential will not be created; nor will jobs be created in the manufacturing area. There is a simple answer to the honourable member’s question -


– I ask the Minister to draw his answer to a conclusion.


– As I was about to say, there is a simple answer to the honourable gentleman’s question. It is that South Australia requires a change of government on Saturday.

Mr Morris:

– I raise a point of order. Under Standing Order 321 I require the Minister to table the document from which he has been quoting.


-Was the Minister reading from a document?


-I will be quite happy to table it. In fact, I seek leave to have it incorporated in Hansard. It happens to comprise my notes.

Leave granted.

The document read as follows-

South Australia- Answer

South Australia is suffering a crisis of confidence and as a result is losing prospects for 55,000 jobs. Investment and development are the key to the creation of real jobs in South Australia. Investment is being lost to other States and development is at a standstill.

Also a government which knows what is needed to create jobs.

The present South Australian Government is stupidly dogmatic in pursuing policies which: refuse to allow great mineral resources to be developed, and frighten investment away from manufacturing as well as mining.

South Australian unemployment at the moment is disastrous- the worst in Australia- 40,400 persons- 8.2 per cent, a rise of 5,100 last month when across Australia unemployment fell by 4,600 and is 18,000 less than in August last year. (South Australia 600 more). Unemployment dropped 76.2 percent since January.

What can be done?

One startling example- the great copper/gold/uranium development at Roxby Downs in the electorate of Grey. Bonython? Hawker?

WMC must choose between South Australia and another copper development in Victoria-Benamba- Gippsland. WMC can’t develop Roxby because present South Australian Labor Government flatly refuses to give approval.

Potential of Roxby Downs: $2,000m capital investment 2,000-3,000 construction jobs 5,000 permanent jobs 50,000 additional jobs from the multiplier effect into other industries.

Compare Mt Isa with which Roxby Downs has been compared: 4,800 company employment 10,000 people employed in the town 28,000 population in Mt Isa supported by the mine.

This comparison is not fanciful.

Quote Dunstan- the Australian, 2 1 January.

If Don Dunstan was interested in getting it off the ground to create jobs, Premier Corcoran certainly is not- neither are the Member for Port Adelaide or the Member for Grey.

When South Australian industrial development is at a standstill, this is political stupidity by the left-wing of the Labor Party, led by the Duncan forces which control the Premier, Port Adelaide and Grey.

The cost to South Australia is jobs today and a future tomorrow when the rest of Australia is facing massive resource development in the 1980s.

Mr Morris:

– I raise a further point of order. Standing Order 321 refers to ‘document’. The word ‘document’ is denned in the Concise Oxoford Dictionary as referring to anything that furnishes evidence. In those circumstances, under Standing Order 321 the word ‘document’ would include the notes from which the Minister was quoting. I ask that those documents also be incorporated in Hansard.


– Was the Minister quoting from documents other than those which he tabled?


– The only other document was a photocopy of a report in the Australian of 2 1 January. I am quite happy to table the whole of that from which I quoted.

page 912




-Has the Minister for National Development advised the governments of Queensland and Victoria that the areas of Gold Coast and Geelong have been removed from the list of areas eligible to apply for funding under the decentralisation assistance programs? Has either government responded or made any protest in respect of that advice? Is the Minister aware that outside the capital cities these urban areas constitute the areas of greatest unemployment in Australia? Does the Government policy indicate that Gold Coast and Geelong are noman’sland and are no longer entitled to any forms of government assistance? Have the State governments concurred in the Minister’s decision?


-There is no question of the Government discounting Geelong, for example, and treating it as a no-man’s-land. It would be absurd to put that proposition. I am glad that the honourable member acknowledges what an important program the regional development or decentralisation program is. The amounts of money that this Government has spent on assisting enterprises outside the capital cities or metropolitan areas have been significant both in capital investment and jobs created. Many hundreds of jobs have been created through this program.

The honourable member asked me whether I have excluded Geelong from the program. The answer is yes. That was done because the Decentralisation Advisory Board advised me that it considered that the amount of support that would flow to Geelong, which is very close to the Melbourne metropolitan area, was reason enough for it to be excluded, therefore diverting more of the decentralisation funds to other nonmetropolitan areas. I cannot tell the honourable gentleman whether I have had any response from the Victorian Government but I will check and let him know.

page 913




– My question is directed to the Minister for National Development. Is it a fact that the oil crisis triggered off by Iran has created problems for the Japanese power and gas utilities? Has this had the effect of directing Japanese requirements towards North West Shelf liquid natural gas? Can the Minister inform the House of the present trend in relation to this important natural resource?


– I thank the honourable gentleman for that question. In view of the current interest in energy policy it is appropriate that that sort of question be asked. All honourable members will recall that the North West Shelf project is one project that stopped dead under the last Labor administration. A $50m project definition study now under way is the result of the energy policies that have been introduced by this Government. That is a clear example of our policies working. It is very sad to see the sick looks on the faces of some honourable members opposite. If they acknowledged some of the things that are happening in this country to get it back on its feet after the events of the period 1972-75 we would all be better off. The honourable member asked about the present position of the North West Shelf venture. I am pleased to be able to advise him from the information I have that it is true that there has been renewed interest by possible buyers around the world of our liquid natural gas. Particularly keen interest has been shown by Japan, the United States and, I am informed, South Korea. In fact, I am informed that the Japanese will require an extra 10 million tonnes a year of liquid natural gas. The joint venturers have been in Japan in recent weeks negotiating with the Japanese and I am told that they will be moving on to the United States very soon.

It is often forgotten that one of the potential spin-offs of this project is the condensate expected from the production stream. I am told that the potential volume is equal to that of Barrow Island. Condensate is an excellent feed stock for refineries. The additional condensate for feed stock for our refineries will provide a very important increment to our oil self sufficiency in the 1980s. The Government is very happy that the world markets are showing such an interest in that project and that it is generating such keen customer interest in that we are actually getting letters of intent to buy off the ground. This project is not only going to mean very important foreign earnings for Australia, but also is going to create an awful lot of jobs.

page 913



Mr Barry Jones:

-I direct my question to you, Mr Speaker. Are you aware that universities and scientific bodies in many countries throughout the world have commemorated the 80th birthday on 3 September 1979 of the person who by general consent is regarded as the greatest living Australian- Sir Macfarlane Burnet? What action, if any, is to be taken by the Parliament of Australia to mark this event.


-It so happens that on the Sunday before last I met, by chance, Sir Gustav Nossal who succeeded Sir Macfarlane Burnet as Director of the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute. At that meeting I also met Dr Gajdusek who is a Nobel laureate and who has been working in the Soviet Union. He came to Australia especially for the celebration of the birthday of Sir Macfarlane Burnet which was to be the next day, that is, Monday of last week. At that time I wondered what the Parliament might do to congratulate Sir Macfarlane Burnet on reaching his eightieth birthday. I thought I would contact the President of the Senate to see whether the Senate might join with the House of Representatives on behalf of the Parliament to express our congratulations to this very eminent Australian. I shall consult with the President of the Senate.

page 913



Mr N A Brown:

– My question is directed to the Minister for Industrial Relations. Are wages and incomes in Australia fixed on occasion by direct action in the market-place after a claim has been unsuccessful in the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission? If that is the case, what have been the consequences of such a series of events? Is there any likelihood of that practice being widened in Australia?


-I have seen reports of an address which shortly preceded the cruelly selfish Australian Council of Trade Unions wages policy to which I referred a moment or two ago. I find it incredible that the President of the Australian Council of Trade Unions should direct the trade union movement to ignore the proper industrial relations processes. By advocating this policy, Mr Hawke has grossly misused, for political purposes, his own position as leader of the Australian trade union movement. What in fact has happened is that the President of the ACTU has threatened the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission, the business community and the public that unless trade union demands are met industrial disruption will be used and, indeed, encouraged to damage our economy. The people who would suffer most from this damage are the unemployed. Once again, the trade union movement has made it quite clear that it offers nothing to the unemployed. In fact, it offers them less than nothing. What, in effect, Mr Hawke and trade union leaders have done is to tell members of the trade union movement that lining their own pockets comes before the interests of the community and of the unemployed. Any pretence to reason or responsibility has been thrown aside.

I notice that Mr Hawke has also said that while, in his words, the unions have offered consultation, the Government has offered nothing but confrontation. I make the point that such allegations are totally and demonstrably untrue. Since this Government came to power we have established on a statutory basis, the National Labour Consultative Council. By an interesting contrast, the Labor Party when in power never even called together what was then the National Labour Advisory Council. I would be more impressed with Mr Hawke ‘s allegations about lack of consultation if the union movement had not twice walked out from the body established to provide the proper processes for consultation. The fact is that the ACTU has now demonstrably embarked on a policy of confrontation not just with the Government but also with the Australian community. In this respect it has far overstepped the mark. The direction to the unions to increase industrial disruption shows just how far the leadership of the trade union movement is from community thinking. As far as the trade unions are concerned, wage increases are apparently to come before economic recovery, the interests of the unemployed and the commercial and social life of this nation. If that is not a policy of confrontation, I do not know what is.

page 914


Minister for Primary Industry · New England · NCP/NP

– Pursuant to section 16 of the Chicken Meat Research Act 1969, 1 present the report of the Chicken Meat Research Committee for the year ended 30 June 1979.

page 914


Minister for Primary Industry · New England · NCP/NP

– Pursuant to section 18 of the Wheat Research Act 1957, 1 present the annual report on the operations of that Act during the year ended 31 December 1978.

page 914


Mr HOWARD (BennelongTreasurer)Pursuant to section 18 of the National Debt Sinking Act 1966-1967, 1 present the annual report of the National Debt Commission for the year ended 30 June 1979.

page 914


Mr Robinson:
Minister for Finance · MCPHERSON, QUEENSLAND · LP

– Pursuant to section 34 of the Services Trust Funds Act 1 947, 1 present the annual report by the trustees for the Services Canteens Trust Fund for the year ended 31 December 1978, together with the report of the AuditorGeneral required under section 25 of the above Act.

page 914


Minister for Employment and Youth Affairs · Stirling · LP

– For the information of honourable members, I present a report on the current position in respect of each of the recommendations of the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs Report on the Alcohol Problems of Aboriginals.

page 914


Minister for Health · Gwydir · NCP/NP

For the information of honourable members, I present a report entitled Promoting HealthProspects of Better Health Throughout Australia. This report was distributed to honourable members recently.

page 915



Minister for Health · Gwydir · NCP/NP

-I wish to make a correction of a minor detail to an answer that I gave during Question Time. In reply to a question on women’s refuges, I indicated that Commonwealth funding was 75 per cent of capital costs and 50 per cent of operating costs. It was the other way round. I made a mistake. It is 50 per cent of capital costs and 75 per cent of the operating costs.

page 915


Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs · Farrer · LP

– For the information of honourable members, I present the reports of the Industries Assistance Commission on gearboxes, gears and shaft coupling temporary assistance, and tanned and finished leather, dressed furshort term assistance.

page 915


Port Adelaide

-I wish to make a personal explanation.


-Does the honourable member claim to have been misrepresented?


– Yes. Twice during Question Time, the Minister for Employment and Youth Affairs (Mr Street) singled me out and said that I was not concerned about employment in South Australia and that that was evidenced perhaps by my interjections about the future of Roxby Downs. Firstly, no member of this House has spoken on the question of unemployment inside or outside this House more than I have. In fact, quite recently, an article printed in a newspaper expressed the wish that I talk about something else. I put it to you, Mr Speaker, that the Minister’s reference to the problem of unemployment in his answer demonstrates quite an irrational way of looking at the matter. The charge -


-Order! The honourable gentleman is now debating the matter.


-The charge against me that I am not concerned about unemployment in South Australia is quite wrong. The unemployment rate in South Australia is unacceptable to me. But the unemployment rate in terms of vacancies that are available for young people in South Australia is not nearly as bad as the problem faced by the people of Western Australia. Indeed, it is not nearly as bad as are the conditions faced by young people in -


-Order! The honourable gentleman is now debating the matter. I ask the honourable gentleman to resume his seat.


– I will conclude on this point. The feasibility study on Roxby Downs will take another three years. It is futile to argue the employment opportunities that may be available from that proposal now when the people who owned Roxby Downs will not know for another three years whether it is feasible. To follow this matter to its logical conclusion, from the views put forward by the Minister for Employment and Youth Affairs and, perhaps, his colleague in South Australia, Dr Tonkin, there is no doubt that the Liberal Party in South Australia intends to build a nuclear power station in Adelaide in the hope of carrying through its policy of uranium mining. That nuclear power station is going to be sited right in the heart of Adelaide if the Liberal Party wins the State election.

page 915


Minister for Trade and Resources · Richmond · NCP/NP

– I wish to make a personal explanation.


-Does the honourable gentleman claim to have been misrepresented?


– Yes. During Question Time, the honourable member for Corio (Mr Scholes) interjected and accused me of saying that half a million jobs would be created out of Nabarlek. No such statement has ever been made by me regarding employment at Nabarlek. What he is confusing this claim with, I think, is the fact that the South Australian Government under the then Premier, Mr Don Dunstan, did issue a report on an enrichment program for South Australia in which he said that, if there could be an enrichment program for South Australia, it could both directly and indirectly lead to something like half a million jobs. Of course, in South Australia the Labor Party is in utter and sheer confusion at the moment because it does not want to accept the report of its own Government.


-Order! The right honourable gentleman is now arguing the issue. I will be glad when the State election is over.

page 915


Mr McLeay:
Minister for Administrative Services · BOOTHBY, SOUTH AUSTRALIA · LP

– The Distribution Commissioners for Western Australia published their preliminary redistribution proposals on 27 August 1979. In accordance with the procedure that I outlined to this House on 3 April 1979, I present for the information of honourable members a paper prepared by the Australian Electoral Office which reconstructs the results of the 1974, 1975 and 1977 House of Representatives elections in terms of the Commissioner’s preliminary proposals.

page 916



– I inform the House that I have received a copy of a resolution agreed to by the Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory on the occasion of the presentation of a mace by and on behalf of the Commonwealth Parliament by direction of Her Majesty the Queen. The resolution reads:

We, the members of the Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory of Australia express our sincere thanks to the Senate and the House of Representatives of the Commonwealth Parliament for the Mace which, by direction of Her Majesty the Queen, they have presented to this Assembly. We accept this generous gift from the Parliament which conferred self-government upon the Northern Territory as a tangible link with all the other legislatures throughout the world which adhere to the traditions of parliamentary government symbolised by the Mace.

page 916


Assent to the following Bills reported:

Northern Territory Supreme Court ( Repeal ) Bill 1 979.

Judiciary Amendment Bill 1979.

Federal Court of Australia Amendment Bill 1 979.

Judges’ Pensions Amendment Bill 1979.

High Court Justices (Long Leave Payments) Bill 1979.

Judges (Long Leave Payments) Bill 1979.

National Health Amendment Bill (No. 2) 1979.

page 916


Motions (by Mr Sinclair) agreed to:

That leave of absence for three weeks be given to the honourable member for Denison (Mr Hodgman) on the ground of parliamentary business overseas.

That leave of absence for 13 weeks be given to the honourable member for Murray (Mr Lloyd ) on the ground of public business overseas.

Motions ( by Mr Hayden) agreed to:

That leave of absence for 13 weeks be given to the honourable member for Scullin (Dr Jenkins) on the ground of public business overseas.

That leave of absence for three weeks be given to the honourable member for Newcastle (Mr Charles Jones) on the grounds of parliamentary business overseas.

page 916




-I ask leave of the House to move a motion to amend the resolution of appointment of the Joint Committee on the Family Law Act to extend the time for the bringing up of the report of the Committee.

Leave granted.


-I move:

  1. 1 ) That paragraph (12) of the resolution of appointment of the Joint Committee on the Family Law Act be omitted and that the following paragraph be substituted:
  2. 12) That the Committee report by 31 May 1980 and any member of the Committee have power to add a protestor dissent to any report. ‘.
  3. That a message be sent to the Senate requesting its concurrence.

The motion establishing the Joint Committee on the Family Law Act was moved by the AttorneyGeneral (Senator Durack) in the Senate on 17 August. Paragraph 12 provided that the Committee report to the Parliament by 3 1 December 1979. It was reasonable, at that stage, for the Attorney-General to expect that the Committee should be able to report by the end of 1979 although honourable members were no doubt aware that it was extremely unlikely that the Parliament would be sitting on New Year’s Eve. However, the passage of the motion through Parliament was not as rapid as might have been expected by the Attorney when he moved it. Amendments were made to the resolution in the House, requiring the concurrence of the Senate. Because of the interest of members in the inquiry, the matter of nominations of members to sit on the Committee was not finalised until 12 October 1978. The first meeting of the Committee took place on 18 October 1978. Submissions were called for by 31 December 1978. The inquiry did not really get under way until February of this year, when public hearings commenced. Nor could the Parliament or the Committee have been expected to anticipate the tremendous public interest in the inquiry, which has resulted in the Committee receiving 485 written submissions.

The Committee has worked extremely hard and has pursued the inquiry relentlessly since its first public hearing on 8 February. It has conducted public hearings in all State capitals, except Brisbane, where it will meet for a public hearing on 24 September. The transcript it has taken now comprises some 5,500 pages of evidence. Since its appointment the Committee has accumulated a substantial body of information, both local and international, bearing on the inquiry. In that regard, I have recently returned from a study tour of Europe and North America, during which I gathered substantial data on family law systems in other countries with comparable jurisdictions. The Committee has accumulated a wealth of facts and knowledge and will require time to assess and process this information. A series of private meetings with selected experts is being undertaken to examine particular issues. Consultation on this basis is a comparatively new technique in parliamentary committee work. These meetings will cover topics where difficulties have been identified, such as the position of children under the Act, custody, maintenance, property and the organisation of the Family Court.

As all honourable members are aware, the issues for inquiry by the Committee are complex and diverse in their implications and it is considered that more time to finish the inquiry is needed. In these circumstances, the Committee has agreed that it would not be able to do justice to the inquiry if it attempted to rush through a report simply to meet the deadline contained in the resolution of appointment. The Committee believes that a more considered and substantial report on the many issues that this reference has raised will be possible only if an extension of time for the report is obtained. The Committee believes that it could report to the Parliament by the middle of the Autumn sittings in 1980, and will direct its efforts to presenting its report to both Houses shortly after Easter next year and certainly by the end of the Autumn sittings.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

page 917


Discussion of Matter of Public Importance


-I have received letters from both the honourable member for Blaxland (Mr Keating) and the honourable member for St George (Mr Neil) proposing that definite matters of public importance be submitted to the House for discussion today. As required by Standing Order 107 I have selected one matter, that is, that proposed by the honourable member for Blaxland, namely:

The Government’s energy policy confusion and the incapacity of the Minister for National Development to produce and articulate a coherent energy policy. 1 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-


-The Government’s energy policy is in a shambles; but, more accurately, it does not exist. What passes for an energy policy in Australia is a mishmash of ad hoc policy statements more accurately described as Press releases. The Government’s energy policy is just a giant jigsaw puzzle with every department sitting upon one piece. It is represented in the House and to the public by the Minister for National Development (Mr Newman)- a tragic, incompetent ministerial figure excluded from Cabinet, torpedoed in his own policy initiatives by the major economic departments of the Government, and served by a department that has not the strength to beat off the Treasury and the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. This Government has a Minister articulating energy policy; but that Minister has a department which fails to agree with the Government’s policy, and he articulates a policy for which he has no departmental support.

Yesterday we were informed that he was abused in the Cabinet by the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) for failing in the energy policy area. Indeed, the whole general thrust of energy policy and support and confidence by the public, by consumers and by producers of energy are languishing under the lack of any direction by this Government. The Treasury is again preeminent in policy configuration and formulation within the Commonwealth structure. For four full years this Department has failed. No department in the Western world has had such a rein on economic policy, with a more compliant Cabinet, than the Treasury in this country has had for four years. Despite its four years it has doubled the unemployment level in Australia, has failed to contain inflation and has dragged Australia deeper into recession. Now it is running an energy policy for Australia. It has wiped out the Department of National Development. That Department cannot even produce a discussion paper on energy without its being snuffed out by the Treasury and by the inter-departmental committee run by Mr Visbord in the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. The gurus of everything else in the bureaucracy- the Treasury officials- are now the energy gurus of Australia.

At Question Time today we had the Treasurer (Mr Howard) and the Minister for the Capital Territory (Mr Ellicott) talking about energy. All of a sudden they are all energy experts. Of course, they realise that the public now has no confidence in them. They have had four full years in office and they have not even tabled a discussion paper on energy. During Question Time today I interjected to say that that had been the case and the Minister for National Development said: ‘We tabled a comprehensive policy’. This is the statement made by the Prime Minister just a couple of months ago. It was a statement made for some political cover against shortages of petroleum products when the Government was scared stiff that there would be protracted shortages, as in fact there have been in the case of avgas, dieseline and other commodities in the third and fourth quarters of the year. When one has a look at the comprehensive energy policy announced by the Prime Minister, one sees that half of it was devoted to a short term- that is the next two months- economic policy which the Government could no longer affect or have any influence upon, and that there was only a smattering of references- minor and incidental ones at that- to anything in the long term area.

The truth is that the Treasury is suffocating every alternative area of advice to the Government, and this includes advice in the very important area of energy. The unimpeded, uninhibited market-place philosophy is supreme. The high petrol price policy of the Government is a Fraser-cum-Treasury invention, which is essentially based on the simple notion: Flog the motorists, make them pay, and hide behind the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries. The truth is that the Arabs increased the price of their oil and the Prime Minister of this country increases the price of Australian oil. This Government has put in the link there to put up the price of Australian oil and then try to blame it upon the Arab states. That has not curtailed consumption as the Treasury and the Prime Minister believed it would. In fact, consumption has risen quite markedly even though higher prices have been prevailing.

At the moment consumption of petroleum products in this country is at an unprecedented high. The Government’s Budget estimate of a 5 per cent increase in revenue from the excise on refined petroleum products- that is the pump tax excise which was not increased- means that the Government expects an increase of 5 per cent in the consumption of petroleum products. If we contrast that 5 per cent projection with the 2.7 per cent projected by the Minister’s Department last year, what we clearly see is evidence of the argument that petroleum products are largely price inelastic. People must pay for the product; they must keep their cars running and their industries moving; and farmers must keep their machinery moving. In this regard they are caught and just have to pay the tax at the pump, in the same way as they pay tax through income tax or in any other way. The Fraser high petrol price tax is a policy which is geared essentially to raising Commonwealth revenue and is just taxation by stealth, by moving the emphasis of taxation off direct taxation and on to indirect taxation. That is all the policy is.

The Minister for National Development tries to put across the furphy that the high petrol price tax is the right energy policy, and he castigates the Opposition for opposing this policy. Let me just take him to task. Every time he mouths these slogans he says that this policy will encourage exploration. Let me analyse that statement The truth of the matter is that in the tenement areas on the North West Shelf, which is the most likely prospect for oil exploration in Australia, the mature drillable structures off the Exmouth plateau- the deep water ones where a lot of money is being spent- are structures in respect of which there was an atmosphere of competition for the awarding of those tenement areas mainly by companies that do not produce oil in Australia.

If the Minister’s contention is right, that one must pay big money to oil producing companies presently operating and producing in Australia, why did a gaggle of exploration companies, which do not produce in Australia, bid competitively for tenement areas on the North West Shelf? They did so because of the ruling price regime which the Australian Labor Party implemented in September 1 975 which was that the Commonwealth should pay the import parity price for new discoveries of oil made after 14 September 1975. That is the price regime which is now common to the Opposition and to the Government of this country, introduced by Prime Minister Whitlam, reaffirmed by Treasurer Lynch, by Treasurer Howard and by me. That is the policy which governs exploration. Even in regard to Bass Strait, the Esso-BHP consortium has now gone to the Government and argued that the Fortescue Field in Bass Strait was a field that was found after 14 September 1975 and hence should be awarded full import parity. So, the Minister’s contention that the rising of the price for old oil helps exploration, is nonsense. All it is doing -

Mr Newman:

– And development.


– You have said it, you have said it and you have said it. You said it again at Question Time and I am pinning you down.

Mr Newman:

– And development.


– Oh, and development. What is the development? It is a couple of marginal pools in Bass Strait. You could have done that just by increasing the price per pool and you know it. Instead of that you have given this largess to companies only producing in Australia. It is fair enough gradually to move up the price for Barrow Island and Wapet which have small reservoirs and which are coming to the end of their lives, but to argue as you are arguing that you must take the price for old oil to import parity for new exploration, is nonsense and you know it.

Let me get onto the conservation effect. You have said that your policy will conserve petrol.

The price of oil went up in 1973-74 throughout the Western world and consumption of petroleum products rose dramatically in all the years since. The United States of America is far more dependent on the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries now than it was before 1973-74. Even with the one year of high petrol prices operating in Australia there has been no consumption effect whatsoever. In fact, demand has gone up. If you read the National Times this week, you will find that consumption of avgas, dieselene and petroleum products generally has risen far beyond the capacity of the refining industry in Australia to handle it. If you talk to Shell and BP as I have, ask them for their market projections for petroleum consumption and production. They are all above estimate. They are all above a high estimate. So, your conservation line is essentially rubbish as well.

Now, your final one is substitution. You say that this introduces substitutes. What is the difference between the Government and the Opposition on that? Certainly, a high price of fuel does allow for a substitution effect.

Mr Newman:

– Say that again?


– It does allow for a substitution effect, but the Opposition’s policy was to stay with the 1977 gradual increase in the price. Because there was a one-third complement from imports of oil which was priced at the world price- that is the price you have to buy it at- with the one-third complement going up and the twothirds domestic production gradually rising over time there would be a slow rise in the price. That is what we on this side of the House supported. In the presence of a slow rise the substitutes which were possible under a higher price could have been brought on. As it is now, the price has skyrocketed and there are no substitutes because the price went up before the infrastructure for the substitutes could be developed.

Mr Newman:

– Nonsense. Absolute nonsense.


– You know there are no LPG outlets in New South Wales.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr MillarOrder! I ask the Minister to refrain from interjecting. I remind the honourable member for Blaxland that he must refer to the Minister as the Minister ‘ and not ‘ you ‘ directly.


– He is interjecting, so it is fair game. If he wants to interject he will get it back. I make the point that LPG is one of the substitutes. There are hardly any LPG outlets at all in New South Wales or in any other State bar Victoria. There are other substitutes like ethanols which are now being looked at, but they are not presently available because the price of petrol rose too quickly. If industry could have planned on a gradual price increase an infrastructure for substitutes could have been made available four or five years down the track. As it is now, the government put the price up overnight to grab revenue for itself and the substitutes are just not there. If they were there we would not have any shortages. On the substitution angle its policy is phony. On the conservation angle its policy is phony, but more particularly its exploration policy is just an outright untruth, a deception and a distortion. I nail that once and for all. Let us be clear on that. The Opposition stands for gradualism. Under the 1977 policy the government took it all to import parity and collected $2,050m for itself plus $950m under the crude oil excise. It has slugged the motorist an extra $3 billion. Let us get that clear.

Let me get to the question ofthe Green Paper which has never appeared. One of the memorable quotes which I quoted at Question Time is this:

  1. . in the interests of economic stability the Australian Government could decide not to immediately flow through such an increase to the price of indigenous crude oil.

The Green Paper went on to say:

A phasing of the price of indigenous crude oil towards the new world parity levels may be needed.

A phasing. That is precisely the position of the Opposition.

Mr Newman:

– Maybe- could be.


– Why would it be put in the Green Paper if it was useless?

Mr Newman:

– A discussion paper- options.


– Admittedly it is an option, but why was it not an option that the Government pursued? Why did the Government not pursue the option? It did not because it had the Treasury breathing down its neck trying to grab $2,000m on the way through. The Minister went on to say that his Department also questioned the adequacy of the market in solving Australia’s energy problems. The paper went on to say:

The policy of adhering to world price levels could result in economic hardship for lower income groups and suggested relief for low income earners living on the fringes of cities.

Has the Minister or the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) ever conceded that lower income groups, particularly people who rely on motor cars in suburbs designed exclusively for motor cars, should in any way be compensated for the slug of petrol prices? The Minister has never made any such suggestion. He has just made them pay through their pockets at the petrol pumps. Whether a man is on $100,000 a year or $5,000 a year he still pays 29.5c per litre for petrol in the capital cities without any attempt by the Government to distinguish his capacity to pay. In other words, the Minister has not in any way heeded the advice of his Department. The advice of his Department has been snuffed out by the free enterprise lunatics in the Treasury and the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. If the Minister is silly enough to let them run energy policy he does not deserve to be the Minister.

Let me dwell on this, Mr Deputy Speaker. I do not speak in this debate on a negative basis. I have outlined the Opposition’s attitude on crude oil prices. I produced, without a bureaucracy, a 60-page Green Paper on Australian energy and minerals policy. I will read some of the headings. They include: The ‘Energy Crisis’; The Problem of Liquid Fuels- Exploration, Windfall Gains, Fuel Substitution, Conservation; A Natural Gas Policy For Australia- Demand and Supply, Gas Pricing, End Use Allocation of Gas; The Contribution of Coal- Reserves, Coal Uses; and The Australian Mineral Industry. The greatest demand for this paper, of which I produced 600 copies, was from the Commonwealth bureaucracy including the Minister’s own Department and the Treasury. It is the first major policy statement by a major party about energy in this country. It was not produced with a massive bureaucracy. It was produced by the Opposition because it has planned for energy policy. At the Federal Conference of the Labor Party in Adelaide we established a mechanism for policy development with a national fuel and energy commission for long-term policy development and, as an operator, an Australian hydrocarbons corporation.

I am pleased to say that even some of the people who write for the National Times are reading Labor Party policy these days. They advocated on the weekend a national oil company as an instrument of long-term policy development. That is a marvellous recognition of a policy which we have had for two years, particularly for a national fuel and energy commission. So, right across the board- on energy pricing, on substitutes, on conservation, on exploration, on long-term policy development, on bringing the States, plus producers and consumers of energy into a policy development body, plus an operator- we have covered all of the fields and left the Government without a leg to stand on.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr MillarOrder! The honourable member’s time has expired.

Minister for National Development · Bass · LP

– I think we had better be clear about two things in this debate. Two things should be clear in the minds of everybody- what the honourable member for Blaxland (Mr Keating) based 15 minutes of bluster, rhetoric and some abuse on. He based his speech on two things. One was that a discussion paper constitutes policy advice. As I demonstrated at Question Time, I hope, that is demonstrably untrue. A discussion paper presents certain options and, of course, it argues various cases. But that did not constitute final advice; it did not constitute policy. Perhaps I can disabuse the honourable member for Blaxland, his colleagues opposite and those other people who engage in tittle-tattle in the corridors of Parliament House. The policy statement that is now in front of the people of Australia contains practically every major option that finally was put to the Government by me and my Department. So do not let us confuse discussion with policy.

The second point on which the honourable member’s 15 minute contribution was based was pricing. We have had a remarkable admission from the honourable member for Blaxland today. He actually does agree with pricing for substitution; he does agree with pricing for conservation; he does agree with pricing for the long term effects that it has. But he says that the introduction of a pricing policy has to be gradual. It should be noted that he gives absolutely no definition of what ‘gradual’ means. Is his proposal that the price should be a couple of cents below our price for oil? Does he propose that it should be $3 or $4 beneath our price?

Mr Keating:

– I rise on a point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker. The Minister has misrepresented what I said. I said that the Opposition supported the 1977 Budget policy for a resources tax.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr MillarOrder! There is no point of order.


– In case there is any doubt about what are the real feelings of the honourable member for Blaxland, I should point out that I know that deep down inside- I have a great respect for him, I must say- he agrees with what we are doing.

Mr Keating:

– Yes, I do.


– He does. In case he needs any reminding- it was important that he quoted from his so-called Green Paper- let me remind him what he said. This is not my inclination or my feeling about what he really thinks; it is what he actually espoused in that paper. He stated:

Opportunity cost pricing is the most rational pricing policy that is effective over the long term. Oil pricing need not necessarily be at the import parity level, but it is desirable that it should at least be import parity related. The opportunity cost concept is conducive to correct resource allocation and minimises market place distortions, but few would argue that the increase in the price of oil will have a dramatic impact upon aggregate petroleum demand.

I do not agree that few people would argue that price is unrelated to demand, as the honourable member for Blaxland suggested in his speech. I recognise that few people in the Labor Party would hold that view- I admit that- but there is absolutely no doubt that pricing is a key element. That is a sound proposition and the honourable member for Blaxland agrees with it.

The only two points that the honourable member for Blaxland made in his IS minute speech were that somehow our discussion paper was policy advice, which it was not, and that pricing is the only matter with which he disagrees. Let us have a look at the facts about the Government’s energy policy. One central fact is that the policy is comprehensive, that it is coherent. The very fact that Ministers of this Government support it at Question Time rather than criticise it is something to applaud. That comprehensive policy covers a full spectrum of initiatives, ranging from a substantial energy research and development program to incentives for oil exploration, which are the equal to any offered by any other country.

I think it is important to repeat what pricing does. It encourages the conservation of scarce oil and it helps to correct waste which results in the maintenance of artificially low prices of petroleum products. When there is a tight supply in Australia and some people are having difficulty in getting petroleum products, nobody would seriously suggest that we should start to reduce the price of oil. It is absolute tommy-rot to make such a suggestion, and the honourable member for Blaxland knows it. Secondly, pricing encourages the substitution of other fuels for liquid fuels. Examples are natural gas and coal. The honourable member did not mention those; he had to concentrate on liquified petroleum gas. I will have a little more to say about that later if I have the time. Those energy resources are already replacing liquid fuels. Thirdly, pricing provides an incentive for the development of alternative energy projects. The relative economies of coal liquefaction, oil from oil-shale, power alcohols- ethanol and methanol- and solar power can be seen in an accurate perspective, which allows more realistic decisions to be made about financing their development. That is what pricing does. Let us look at exploration. Expenditure on exploration in current dollar terms peaked in 1972 at $ 108m.

Mr Keating:

– That has nothing to do with old oil prices.


-Order! The Minister will resume his seat. The honourable member for Blaxland has had an opportunity to address the House. His consistent interjections are strictly out of order. I ask him to remain silent.


– I thank you for making that ruling, Mr Deputy Speaker. Actually I enjoy the honourable member’s interjection because it demonstrates the total ignorance of the man who pretends to be the Opposition spokesman on energy matters. By 1975-76 that $ 108m had fallen considerably. However, petroleum exploration expenditure in 1977-78 was $116m, and it has been estimated to be $160m to $170m in 1978- 79. Minimum expenditure commitments for off-shore exploration over the five years 1979- 83 are estimated at over $4000m, with expected on-shore expenditure in the same period about $ 100m. That gives the lie to the sort of garbage which was served up a moment ago to the effect that our exploration programs were not having an effect on exploration.

Mr Keating:

– I take a point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker. I have just been misrepresented again. That is on the basis of the new fields policy. It is simply that; not old oil.


-That is not a point of order; it is a point for debate.

Mr Keating:

-Answer it.


– I will answer it. The honourable member for Blaxland keeps talking about old oil. The effect of old oil is that it will produce over $700m worth of extra development in Bass Strait. That figure will probably increase to about $ 1 billion. That extra development would not have taken place without that pricing being in effect. That is one example. If the honourable member wants another example he should look at what is happening on Barrow Island. Capital expenditure which is to be put into the Barrow Island fields is substantial. That would not have occurred had the old oil pricing policy not been in place.

Mr Keating:

-What about the North West Shelf? That is where the exploration is.


– I have said that the honourable member does not understand what he is talking about. If he would just stop interjecting for a moment, firstly, he would let me get on with my speech and, secondly, he would not continue to expose his ignorance.

To support energy research and development, the Australian Government made available almost $ 15.5m for commitment in 1978-79, additional to that provided through normal funding for such activity to the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, the Australian Atomic Energy Commission and other bodies. In 1978-79 180 projects were approved. Support included $4.5m for production of synthetic fuels from coal, biomass, oil-shale and wastes, and $3.1m for studies aimed at improving the efficiency of coal mining, handling and transportation. In this year’s Budget the Government has made provision for expenditure on energy research and development of $9m, and that compares with $4m in 1978-79. Expenditure from the Coal Research Trust Account in 1979-80 is estimated to be about $5m, making a total of $14m for overall expenditure. In addition, $6m is being provided for forward expenditure in the year following the one in front of us and $3m for the year after that. That makes $23m in all. That program is one which did not exist before. It is one that has been running for just over a year. It is a substantial one and a good one.

I turn now to energy conservation. Realistic pricing of oil is basic to any approach to petroleum conservation. In the past petroleum products have been priced at levels which have encouraged wasteful and inefficient use of this premium transport fuel and discouraged its substitution by more plentiful alternatives. Pricing on its own, however, is not enough to bring about prompt changes in consumption habits or to develop improved social responsibility towards energy use in the community at large. But the Opposition spokesman on energy matters said a moment ago that the implementation of a pricing policy must be regulated, kept quiet, and done slowly. The substitution effects that we are now seeing would not have occurred but for our policy. It is sheer nonsense for the honourable member to come up with his sort of airy-fairy, breezy generalisation, which is unsubstantiated by facts. The fact is that because of that pricing policy, substitution is taking place, and taking place at a very impressive rate. The honourable member for Blaxland knows that in the very Sydney metropolitan area in which he lives the demand for natural gas has risen by 80 per cent this year. That is a saving of furnace oils and industrial diesel oils, and it constitutes a one per cent increase in the available oils that can be used for other purposes. That is the effect of energy conservation and interfuel substitution. I have described in brief what the Government’s energy policies are. They are important policies, they are comprehensive policies, and they are working. If I had another 20 minutes or so I could demonstrate how they are working. I have given only some examples today.

The hypocrisy of the Labor Opposition to come in here and talk about confusion and energy policies is the height of folly in the first case and absurd in the second case. If ever we had an illustration of confusion, it was exhibited by the Labor Party in Question Time today. Members of the Labor Party here in the Parliament say Don’t mine uranium’ and Labor Party supporters say ‘Don’t mine uranium’, yet we have it very clearly on the record that the Australian Council of Trade Unions disagrees with that policy. Here we have a fundamental issue: Whether to mine uranium to meet the demands for energy around the world, to gain earnings for this country through exports. The Labor Party has no policy on this issue at all. Its policy is a shamble.

Central to any policy is pricing; it is absolutely key. I have demonstrated during the course of this speech that there is utter confusion in the mind of the honourable member for Blaxland, but it goes much further than that. As I illustrated during the last sitting week at Question Time, Mr Mulock, the New South Wales Minister for Mineral Resources, sees proper pricing as leading to increased exploration. I remind the honourable member of what Mr Mulock said. He said:

The higher the price of imported oil, the greater the incentive for exploration at home.

What he means is that parity pricing means greater incentive for exploration at home.

Senator Walsh, who is one of the great critics of the policy, let the cat out of the bag in Tasmania, of all places, a couple of weeks ago. Senator Walsh sees proper pricing as leading to the substitution for oil of alternative fuels- one of the things that we have been arguing for over and over again. Recently Senator Walsh said, and I could quote him to some large degree except that time is against me:

At present oil prices, an ethanol extender is close to breaking even . . .

Mr Baillieu:

-Who said that?


– It was Senator Walsh. The only reason why it is close to breaking even is that we are now setting the proper, realistic price of a barrel of oil against what it costs to produce a barrel of ethanol. When a barrel of oil starts to get more expensive, Senator Walsh gladly recognises- he recognised this, I might add, at an ALP seminar, which is even more significantthat parity pricing is at last starting to have the effect of encouraging people to experiment with synthetic fuels.

I just finish on this note: I would have thought that everyone’s recollection of the problems with which the nation had to contend in 1972-75 would be still fresh, still raw and still painful. Quite frankly, a number of important development propects just did not get under way because of the way in which people adopted rather dogmatic attitudes. The programs were held up. That is bad for the country and politically it is bad too. Whom am I quoting? I am quoting the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Hayden) at the Adelaide conference. The nation would do well to remember his words.


– Whenever I hear the Minister for National Development ( Mr Newman) in these interminable debates where he defends himself or attempts to defend himself on these most important energy matters I get a remarkable sense of deja vu because all he does is repeat himself ad nauseam and attempt to bluster his way through with 15 minutes of nonsense. It is no wonder that the Australian Financial Review and other responsible elements of the media refer to him as a junior Minister heading a junior department. One can better understand that comment when one looks at the situation. Who in this Government is responsible for this vital energy policy? The Department of National Development is responsible for oil pricing and supply. The Department of Trade and Resources is responsible for the issue of export licences, the pricing of such vital energy components as coal and uranium and for setting pricing parameters on the export of coal. The Department of the Treasury attempts to perform its usual overseeing role. Above and overriding them all is the heavy hand of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. That Department always insists on having the final say. As far as an energy policy is concerned, the Minister for National Development, the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) and the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr Anthony) are bogged down in a quagmire of their own making and their own ineptitude.

What about the Green Paper, the much vaunted Green Paper that was promised one year ago for March this year? There has been no appearance of that Green Paper yet. Of course, now we know why there has been no Green

Paper. It has been shunted around the departments like a kids’ game of pass the parcel. No one really wanted to open up the parcel and show the people of Australia what was in it. It is little wonder when one looks at the revelations in a report in yesterday’s Australian Financial Review. According to that report the Green Paper states:

In the interests of economic stability the Australian Government could decide not to immediately flow through such an increase to the price of indigenous crude oil.

A phasing ofthe price of indigenous crude oil towards the new world parity levels may be needed.

Such a phasing also, would not necessarily conflict with the objective of world parity pricing for indigenous crude oil.

The article comments:

This stated position is much closer to Labor policy than government policy.

It is no wonder that the so-called Green Paper was suppressed. So at this stage, the Prime Minister, as he is sometimes wont to do, took over. He released an energy Press statement instead of the Green Paper. It took the Prime Minister three months to produce that Paper, and in June it took him three minutes to deliver it. When one looks at the Green Paper, one can understand why. It contains such futilities as:

Expects oil companies to obtain imported oil supplies, as necessary, to meet Australian requirements. It will ensure that the PJT will permit oil companies to pass on to users the higher costs associated with spot purchases and will provide an assurance to this effect to the companies. The companies will be required to satisfy the PJT that spot purchases are bona fide and at arm’s length. The Government will ask NSW and South Australia to take similar action.

In another section of the so-called energy statement the Prime Minister said that the Government:

Will formally ask the oil companies to provide complete data on the supply, consumption, stocks and exports of petroleum products in order to improve its monitoring of the oil situation.

So on the one hand the Prime Minister is saying in that latter paragraph that the Government does not trust the oil companies to supply full data on costs and shipping and so on; yet on the other hand, in a naive way, he gives them full control and instructs them to import oil at spot prices, expecting the Prices Justification Tribunal to pass on to the Australian public the effects of buying under that spot purchasing system.

I make the point that the Prices Justification Tribunal on the federal scene has been seen to be inadequate in monitoring costs in the oil industry. It has been so inadequate that the New South Wales Prices Commission has issued a questionnaire of 36 pages to all the oil companies. They are required to complete it in full detail before the Commission will allow any more increases in the price of petrol in New South Wales. It covers such areas as f.o.b. prices on imported oil, shipping costs, the actual purchase of local crude oil and so on. So the Government will not take action to monitor the industry through the PJT, and the New South Wales Prices Commission, if it wants to do the job, is required to step in to fill the gap.

I invite honourable members to compare this mishmash with the policy of the next Federal Labor government. We have made it perfectly clear in a constructive way what we intend to do. The federal conference in Adelaide spelt out very clearly that we will set up a separate department of energy and minerals and establish a fuel and energy commission. We will place under one umbrella responsibility for administering all policy regarding energy. We will set up a fuel and energy commission to draft long-term energy policy. With regard to petroleum, we have made it abundantly clear that there will not be any automatic flow-on of Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries prices to the price of Australian indigenous crude. We have made it clear that, because the oil companies are not spending a proper proportion of their windfall profits on oil exploration, we will set up an oil and gas corporation to explore, produce, refine and market oil. What could be clearer than that?

I note that my colleagues in Western Australia take the situation seriously enough to call a special conference in Perth for next weekend to hear what the mining and energy industry in Western Australia has to say and to explain our policies to it. There is no question that we need a separate energy department. We are the only Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development nation of any size that does not have one. Even tiny Norway has its own department of fuel and energy. Here we have a Minister for National Development who has a junior ranking in the Ministry. The Department of” National Development covers oil pricing policy and four other departments have a finger in the pie covering the highly technical area of energy. One single department should administer such areas as pricing policies on oil, coal and gas, research and production of alternative liquid fuels, gas pipelines, the rationalisation of coal production, an oil and gas corporation, the buying of oil on a government to government basis and liaising with the States on their power generation needs.

I make this point with regard to not passing on automatically OPEC prices to Australian petrol prices: It is OPEC which makes the decision on the price of its own oil; it is the Australian

Government that makes the decision on what the price of Australian oil will be. In Australia, we produce 90 per cent of our petrol requirements from the 70 per cent of oil produced from domestic wells. We can charge the full OPEC price if we wish, but that is our decision. That is what the Government has done. It has chosen to make it a revenue raising enterprise and has raised $2000m from the import parity pricing and another $956m from a direct tax on petrol at the pump. If the Government wants to do this, it can do so; but it should clearly explain the negative effects of its actions. The effects of decisions taken in the 1977-78 and 1978-79 Budgets have been to double petrol prices to 30c a litre in the last two years, to increase the consumer price index by 2.5 per cent this year, to double the price of aviation gas since 1 975 and to increase the operating cost of the average farm by $ 1,000 a year.

There are alternatives to this inflationary nonsense. We need to replace the present shambles with the Labor policy that I have just enunciated. That means three things, and we can afford the luxury of our own pricing policy if we do these things: We need to explore for oil ourselves, using the expertise of the oil and gas corporation; we need to step up our research and production program on liquid fuels such as methanol, ethanol and oil produced from shale and coal; and we need to produce an overall rational energy program and policy.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr MartinOrder! The honourable member’s time has expired.


-The honourable member for Cunningham (Mr West) who has just resumed his seat said that the Australian Labor Party has a rational policy on energy. I wonder whether he supported that policy. In Labor Party councils, he promoted the left wing line on energy policy. He had to be brought into line by the leading spokesman for the Labor Party in this debate this afternoon the honourable member for Blaxland (Mr Keating). I wonder whether the leading spokesman wrote that speech for his colleague to deliver this afternoon to make sure that he had him on the record espousing a policy that was different from those views that the honourable member holds himself.

Mr Uren:

- Mr Deputy Speaker, I take a point of order. The honourable member knows that our Party is a democratic party and we have a right to put our points of view.


-That is not a point of order.

Mr Uren:

– The point that I am bringing forward is that, having argued the matter out at the Australian Labor Party conference, we came together now with a united policy and our united policy is being expressed today.


– That is not a point of order.


– We are told that a united policy is being expressed today but I read in the newspapers at the weekend that the Australian Council of Trade Unions has some different views about what Australia’s energy policy should be with regard to uranium exploitation in this country. I point out that we live in a federation. Over a period this Government has announced a dynamic, sensible and forwardlooking energy policy. The Government knows that we have to live in a real world, in a world that is short of energy and, in particular, short of oil. As a result of the events that have occurred in other parts of the world, the Government has taken resolute action to ensure that Australia’s availability of oil resources is guaranteed. When the Labor Party was in office, oil exploration in this country stopped and, as a result, today to a large extent we are paying some of the price of that. We are not, as the previous speaker said, able to boast that we have 90 per cent selfsufficiency in oil. At best we have something in the order of 70 per cent self-sufficiency. There are many indications that but for the initiatives of the present Government, that percentage would have begun to fall and fall very rapidly. When we talk about energy, we need not only be concerned about petroleum and oil products. Also we need to be concerned about other sources of energy that we can sell overseas to buy energy types that are more suited to our needs.

Mr Deputy Speaker, as you would know, I come from South Australia. If we want to see whether the Labor Party has a coherent energy policy, let us look at the present situation in South Australia where there is an economy that is in decline. As I said at Question Time today, in South Australia there is a crisis of confidence in the economy. Businessmen across the whole scene of the South Australian economy lack confidence. Consumers lack confidence. The public lacks confidence in its future. That loss of confidence has come about because of the 10 years of Labor government within that State.

Mr Keating:

- Mr Deputy Speaker, I raise a point of order. I realise that the Government is trying to discredit the South Australian Labor

Government in an election week. This is a specific matter of public importance and the honourable member who is speaking should be bound to speak precisely to it. ‘


-As long as the honourable member for Sturt remains relevant, he is in order.


– I am speaking precisely to the point of the Government’s energy policies and I am saying that they are coherent policies. But it is very difficult for a nation to have coherent energy policies, particularly for a federation, if some parts of that federation are negligent in the way in which they handle the situation within their own States. Some discussion has taken place this afternoon about the pricing of petroleum. We heard the honourable member for Blaxland say that he believes that the price of petroleum had to be gradually brought up to world parity prices but not all in one jump. That appeared to be the gist of what he had to say. He is opposed to the bold, determined policy of this Government to ensure that our -

Mr Keating:

- Mr Deputy Speaker -


-Is the honourable member for Blaxland raising a point of order?

Mr Keating:

– I will reply by making a personal explanation after the honourable member has finished.


– The honourable member for Blaxland was complaining about the price of petrol to the Australian petrol user. I draw the attention of the House to what will happen as a result of a Labor Party decision in South Australia. The price of petrol in South Australia will be raised on 1 October by lc a litre because the State Labor Government has imposed an additional petrol tax. It has done so, it says, to pay for the lost revenue resulting from its forgoing of the road tax. It is raising the tax to compensate for some rather mean concessions that it has given to South Australian motorists in terms of licence fees. But in the South Australian Parliament legislation which proposed a growth tax would have imposed a tax burden on South Australian motorists far in excess of the replacement cost of the taxes it was substituting. The Labor Party in South Australia is willing to impose taxes on petrol in the way in which the honourable member for Blaxland is complaining that the Commonwealth Government is doing in respect of a far more coherent energy policy.

I want to turn again to the question of uranium. The honourable member for Hawker (Mr Jacobi) would know well that there are two major divisions within the Labor Party in South Australia. In the election campaign the Labor Party is being led -

Mr Keating:

– I raise a point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker. There are no nuclear power stations in Australia. This debate is about Australian energy. It is not about minerals; it is about energy. Uranium is not used domestically in Australia for nuclear power. The honourable member is again alluding to issues in the South Australian election. I believe that you should rule any contribution on this basis out of order.


-It is a fairly wide ranging debate. I think the honourable member is in order.


– In an energy debate, surely we must look at the situation in the world context. Uranium must be regarded as one of the world’s major energy sources. Many countries are dependent upon uranium for energy. In Australia we must be prepared to develop the uranium industry -

Mr Keating:

– I raise a point of order. This is not a debate on international energy sources. It is a discussion on the Government’s energy policy, that is, its domestic energy policy insofar as it relates to Australia. There are no nuclear power stations in Australia; hence uranium is not required for them and it should not be raised in this debate.


-Order! I rule against the point of order.


– Uranium is not required for power generating plants, but it is required to enable Australia to obtain overseas currency with which we can then, when the need arises, purchase other energy sources. In looking at energy, it is important that the available resources in this country should be developed. In South Australia the Labor Party is led by Premier Corcoran. Many South Australians are asking themselves whether he is really the leader of the Labor Party in that State who, if the election -


-Order! I have allowed the honourable member for Sturt some latitude, but he is deviating slightly from the subject of the debate. I would like him to refer to the matter under discussion.


– I want to explain to the House the fact that earlier this year the Labor Party attempted to pass a motion in South Australia that would have prevented the development of Roxby Downs at any time in the future. As a result of the work-statesmanlike work- of the honourable member for Hawker who, through his research assistant, was able to persuade two delegates, that conference voted the amendment out. In South Australia the Labor Party has resolved to develop Roxby Downs when it is satisfied that the safeguards are sufficient. But no one knows who is to determine when it is satisfied. The Liberal Opposition in South Australia wants to see Roxby Downs developed. Its development would be a catalyst that would turn South Australia’s economy around. It is a goldmine that would enable the State’s economy to take off and employment to rise.

Mr Keating:

– I raise a point of order. There is a four-year feasibility study on Roxby Downs. At this stage nobody, not even the companies, knows whether it will be developed or not.


-Order! That is not a point of order. It is a matter for debate.


-A part of that development could be producing ore within 12 months. It is near Lake Frome.


-Order! The honourable member’s time has expired. The debate is now concluded.

page 926



-Mr Deputy Speaker, I claim to have been misrepresented. When the pressure is put on the Government on this question of the old oil pricing -

Mr Roger Johnston:

- Mr Deputy Speaker, I wish to take a point of order. It is based on Standing Orders 85 and 86 which provide that a member shall not persist in irrelevance or abuse the orders or forms of the House for the purpose of obstructing business. The honourable member for Blaxland is constantly breaking the Standing Orders and should be disciplined by this House.


-It is a matter which is not open for debate. I think that if the person in the chair were to apply that Standing Order rigidly there would be very few members in the House to carry on the business of the House.

Mr Baillieu:

– There are not many now.


-As the honourable member remarked, there are very few in the House now. I rule against the point of order.


– Whenever there is a debate in this House on oil pricing -


-The honourable member is seeking to make a personal explanation, is that so?


– Yes, I claim to have been misrepresented by both the Minister for

National Development (Mr Newman) and the honourable member for Sturt (Mr Wilson). Whenever, in a debate in this House about oil pricing, anybody on the Opposition side says that he supports any increase in the price of oil, it is then assumed and charged that -

Mr Roger Johnston:

– On a point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker.


-Order! I am trying to ascertain the point of the personal explanation.

Mr Roger Johnston:

– I also am trying to ascertain it. What is his personal explanation?


– Order! I call the honourable member for Blaxland who claims to have been misrepresented.


– I will explain the way in which I have been misrepresented. It is alleged that in some way the Opposition supports the lunatic policies of the present Government in terms of oil pricing.


-Order! Will the honourable member kindly come to the point on which he claims to have been misrepresented?


– I will come to it. I said in the debate- and I repeat- that the one-third imported segment of Australian oil is priced at the world price because that is what other countries have to pay. In respect of the other twothirds, the Labor Party supported the 1977 government policy of gradual increases in the price -


-Order! Unless the honourable member can establish and allude to a matter in respect of which he claims to have been personally misrepresented -


– The honourable member for Sturt said that I supported the Government’s oil pricing policy.


-As long as you keep on that track you will be all right.


– I am saying what I have already said. I said that the Opposition supported the 1977 pricing policy for a gradual movement to 50 per cent of import parity in company with a resources tax. That should be the full net increase of the old oil price, and that is that. That is the simple fact. There can be no distortions of it and any distortions by the Government parties will be corrected by us.

page 927


Second Reading (Budget Debate)

Debate resumed from 30 August, on motion by Mr Howard:

That the Bill be now read a second time. ( Quorum formed).

Mr Peter Johnson:

– When the debate on the Budget was adjourned on 30 August I was two minutes short of finishing my speech. Today I am delighted to announce a significant event which has transpired since then.

Mr Les Johnson:

- Mr Deputy Speaker, I seek your ruling as to the time the honourable member has to speak in this debate. I understand that he has already spoken but the clock has not been adjusted accordingly.


-The honourable member now has one minute and 35 seconds left.

Mr Peter Johnson:

-I was aware of that as you were, Mr Deputy Speaker. Today the result of the by-election in Redcliffe was announced. The Queensland Parliament has a new Liberal member, Mr Terry White, M.L.A. I am delighted to be part of the team that demonstrated a significant approach and a positive manner in that by-election, unlike members of the Australian Labor Party. The Federal Leader of the Opposition and the State Leader of the Opposition campaigned fearlessly on the Federal Budget of 1979. I say to Opposition members that the people of Redcliffe have spoken. The Labor Party has lost again. Mr White has now been elected to the Queensland Parliament for the very first time. On the day the election in Redcliffe was held there was also a by-election in Gympie. In case the Labor Party has taken heart from the figures that came out of that by-election I remind the House and the Opposition that there was a swing to Labor of 1.8 per cent. The Labor Party may think a swing of 1.8 per cent is an indication that it will come to power in a general election, but I am afraid it has a long way further to go.

I am looking forward to the results of the South Australian election, which will be announced on Sunday. The Labor Party in South Australia also is campaigning on the 1979 Federal Budget. I know that what the present Ministry and this side of the House put to the people of Australia in August 1979 in a fair and responsible Budget will be reflected in the way people vote next Saturday. I am delighted to be part of a team that has given a responsible Budget to the

Australian people in 1979. 1 look forward to the fulfilment of those policies. They have already started to have dramatic effect, as reflected in the increase in trading on all stock exchanges around Australia.

Mr Keith Johnson:

-In the closing moments of a speech interrupted by a week’s adjournment the honourable member for Brisbane (Mr Peter Johnson) left no doubt in the minds of members of the Australian Labor Party that the rift between the once great Liberal Party and the once powerful National Country Party is wider than it has ever been before. From the comments of ‘hear, hear’ that supported the honourable member’s remarks it seems that the rift is not only in Victoria and Queensland but is general throughout the Commonwealth of Australia. Frankly, I cannot think of a nicer bunch of people to suffer such a fate.

The House is considering the 1978-79 Budget. There can be no doubt that it is a big business Budget. All its provisions are aimed at enlarging those businesses that are already large, such as the oil companies and the mining companies. It is generally believed in the community, although not by myself, that they make hefty donations to the coffers of the Liberal Party. The Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) has never denied the direction of the Budget. He justifies it on the basis that as long as business is big there will be employment opportunities in the community. He makes that bald statement with no justification. In fact most of the statements that trip off the tongues of the Prime Minister and members of his Ministry have no justification. The Prime Minister cannot point to any company in the world which has become larger or has increased its profits and as a consequence increased its work force. That does not work. The Treasurer (Mr Howard) and the Prime Minister know that it does not work, as does the Liberal Party; but it sounds plausible. For this reason, the Government is able to rip off funds from the taxpayers, the wage earners in the community, and make them available to the very large companies.

This Budget is definitely an anti-family Budget. It has been so described by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Hayden). This description has been repeated in the Press throughout the country. That is not surprising. The Liberal Party has never shown any great propensity to care for the family, the integral unit in our whole society. In this Budget the Government went overboard in making sure that that was understood. There has been no adjustment to the family allowance, which is a very important payment. It is a compensation made to people on the lower income scale, those who have families and who are suffering more than any other section of the community because of their responsibilities and their willingness to face up to them. The House has just concluded a debate on energy policy and petrol prices. I thought that the honourable member for Blaxland (Mr Keating) and the honourable member for Cunningham (Mr West ) absolutely wiped the floor with the Minister for National Development (Mr Newman) and his supporter in that debate. They put the lie to the proposition that all the subsidies paid to oil companies are necessary in order to bring about more exploration for oil. I would like to explode that myth. It has always seemed to me- it has yet to be proved differently to me- that oil companies will drill for oil where they believe that they will make a profit from finding it and where they believe oil to be. It does not matter how much money they are paid or how much or how little they are likely to obtain for a gallon of oil. They will continue to explore for oil, as they have since time immemorial.

The Government has done two things. It has given the oil companies a higher margin of profit than they had before. It has justified that on the basis that they would explore more diligently. They have not done so. The Government has also gained a windfall tax to which it is not entitled. It has levied this tax on one section of the community only, the purchasers of petrol. It is well known that a year ago it cost $9 to fill the tank of an average car in Australia with fuel. It is also well known that now it costs $17 to fill the same tank with fuel. The difference of $8, which is almost a 100 per cent increase, is not attributable entirely to price rises that have been granted by the various authorities. Most of it is attributable to a government rip-off in the form of another tax.

The Prime Minister glibly comments that people will be paying less tax by the end of this year. Nobody believes him. I do not think he even believes himself. Even the Treasurer is starting to become a victim of his own propaganda. He is almost starting to sound sincere when he alleges that people will be paying less tax by the end of the year. But what is he talking about? Where does tax start and finish? If he is talking only about personal income tax he is wrong. When a government takes action to raise revenue, it is in effect levying a tax. The Government took action to raise more revenue from crude oil produced in Australia. So an additional tax is being paid by the motorist. Because the public transport systems in Australia by and large are fairly poor most people are driven to the point of using motor cars. In any case most of the goods that they buy have been carried on the back of a motor vehicle so that everyone is paying the extra tax.

The Government has taken action to increase health insurance payments. It has made health insurance more costly. This is also a tax. It was brought about by government action. Through changes to the health insurance system the Government has made it more costly for the delivery of health services. Again, because this has resulted from government action it is a tax. I could go on and on. This Government claims to be a low tax government. It will go down in the annals of history as the highest tax government Australia has ever seen. That includes all the excesses of the Menzies era and the high taxation paid by the Australian people during that time because of the extraordinary inflation that took place during the 1950s.

Mr Ruddock:

– You have never been a low tax Party. Look at your promises.

Mr Keith Johnson:

-The honourable member was still in three-cornered pants at that time. If he cares to speak to his parents about it they will remind him. It was during the 1950s that Australia suffered its greatest inflation and taxes rose to their highest level. This Government tries to explain its own inadequacies, inabilities inefficiencies and dereliction of duty by going back beyond more than four years of uninterrupted Liberal-Country Party government and blaming what happened during the time of the Labor Government. The people of Australia will not fall for that argument. At all turns of the wheel there is talk about a need for confidence. Of course there is a need for confidence. Our fine economists will never make anything work unless there is confidence in the community about the future. The Prime Minister has the lowest popularity rating of any Prime Minister that this country has ever had at any time in its history. He has had the lowest credibility rating and the widest credibility gap of any person in Australia. He tells us that there is a need for confidence. I would go so far as to say that because of the Prime Minister’s actions and those of his Government the people of this country have as much confidence in him and his Government as housewives had in door-to-door salesmen during the time of the Boston Strangler. There is just no way they can have confidence in a government which twists and turns like a snake on a red hot plate. One never knows where it is going next. That is the sort of thing that has upset the people of Australia and made them afraid.

People are not prepared to exude the confidence they did during the time of the Whitlam Government. They are squirrelling their money away to make sure that when the axe drops on them they will have some money in the bank to sustain themselves. So for the Prime Minister of Australia to be talking in that vein is absolute and arrant nonsense. So long as he and his Government remain in office there will never be confidence, lt is all very well to talk about foreign capital coming into the country- one wonders about that, too- but unless the ordinary people have confidence, pull their dollars out of the bank and start buying, then all the confidence in the world will come to no good. When I opened the mail today and finally sorted through it I came across a very interesting document called Building Comment, Number 4 of 31 August 1979. It is compiled and distributed by the Master Builders Association of Victoria and edited by Oscar Fabian. It is too long to quote in full but in part, under the heading ‘Economic Factors Dampen Building Demand ‘, it states:

The 1979 Budget reaffirmed the Federal Government’s economic policy stance of contractionary fiscal and monetary policy, a firm monetarist commitment to restraining money supply growth and the Treasury-inspired conviction that the level of real wages must be reduced as a pre-condition to reducing the level of unemployment.

I will have something to say about that in a moment. It continues:

The Government ‘s economic strategy relies on private sector recovery. The basic premise is that reducing the inflation rate will inspire business confidence, and hence investment, and will boost overseas confidence to the extent that the resultant capital inflow will alleviate balance of payments problems and prevent deterioration in the international standing of the Australian dollar.

The problem is that with economic growth, in terms of Gross Domestic Product, expected to be 2-2’A per cent in 1979-80, (a rate which Treasury admits is hardly sufficient to absorb the growth in the workforce let alone help to reduce unemployment), and an inflation rate of at least 10 percent, the prospects for business and consumer confidence are not good.

This is not taken from some radical left wing journal. It continues:

Given the expected rate of inflation and the estimated 9 percent growth in average weekly earnings (which some economists have estimated will reduce real after tax disposable incomes by 3 percent) the level of industrial disputation can be expected to remain high in 1 979-80. The Building industry is particularly vulnerable to industrial disputes.

Let me analyse what is said there. On two occasions in that passage acknowledgement is given that there will be less after-tax disposable income available to people in a year’s time. This is in complete contradiction of what the Prime Minister and the Treasurer keep telling us. I repeat again that this is not some mad radical left wing rag; it is compiled by the Master Builders

Association of Victoria, a very respectable body. It gives a warning which this Government should heed, that unless disposable income either remains the same or improves then the Government can expect the people to take what they want, to use every method at their disposal to get what they want, namely, a reasonable disposable income. The Treasurer used a new expression this morning. He called it a cruelly selfish wages policy of the Australian Council of Trade Unions. The Government is walking around with its eyes closed if it ignores the factor I just referred to. Working class people of Australia are not going to stand by and see their purchasing power eroded by the action of this Government. The article continues:

The incentive for businesses to invest in building projects.

especially large ones, is as much affected by industrial relations realities as by the prospects for the inflation rate.

When the Treasurer announced that the targeted budget deficit in 1979-80 will be $2,193m, a $l,285m reduction on the actual deficit in 1978-79, the Federal Government again rejected the notion that the solution to our economic problems is to stimulate aggregate demand and bring about a reduction in unemployment by allowing an expansion of the budget deficit and by cuts in indirect taxation.

Sound advice. The Labor Party has been giving it for some time. Now the tycoons of business in this world have finally found out that the socialists know what they are talking about. The cost of housing is very important to families. I wish to incorporate in Hansard a table which is included in this document.

Leave granted.

The table read as follows-

Mr Keith Johnson:

-The table shows the high transaction costs for a house and land package costing $30,000 financed on a first mortgage of $20,000, It is very interesting to note that the highest costs in Australia are in Victoria. Government charges are highest in Victoria, yet there is a Liberal Government in Victoria that boasts about the fact that people want to own their own home. That Government is doing a hell of a lot to help them if it is charging people more than any other State government! Solicitors’ fees in Victoria are the highest in Australia. Financial institution charges are marginally the same as they are in other States. The table highlights quite clearly the costs for young people in purchasing their own homes in Australia and how it is absolutely beyond the pale.

Probably I will not have time to raise the way in which this Government has cut back on its funding for all sorts of training programs- the National Employment and Training scheme and the rest for young people in Australia, but when the Opposition speaks about unemployed people it is speaking about young people in our community between the ages of 18 and 25. They are the people who are not finding employment. They are the people who have never had any work experience. They are the people who, at 20 years of age, go for jobs calling for applicants of around 20 years of age with 15 years experience in that type of job. Those people have no hope of getting a job and this Government is doing nothing to help them.

The industrial relations that were mentioned in that article by the Master Builders Association is a very important matter. I have statistics from the Department of Employment and Industrial Relations in 1976. In any given year these percentages seldom change. A break-up of the causes of disputes in 1976 shows that wage disputes were responsible for 26 per cent of industrial disputes, management behaviour was responsible for 23.5 per cent of industrial disputes, inter-union rivalries and demarcation disputes of one kind or another constituted 1 5 per cent of the disputes, and working conditions and safety matters constituted 12 per cent of disputes. Even to the casual listener it is obvious that most strikes in Australia are not caused by wage demands but are caused by matters such as management behaviour, inter-union rivalries- this Government does not support the amalgamation of unions and so stands in the way of union amalgamation which would cut out demarcation disputes- and safety matters. Safety issues are the cause of oneeighth of all disputes. Surely nobody is going to be critical of working men and women not wanting to work in situations that are not considered safe. Yet this Government, for its own domestic and political purposes, likes to promote the line that all of the difficulties in Australia are brought about by the industrial action of these militant trade unions.

A contrary view to that has been expressed by Professor Cifford Donn, an economist at Macquarie University in New South Wales. In the Melbourne Herald of 14 February 1977 he wrote:

It is probably safe to conclude that Australia is among a group of the most strike-prone Western countries. That group includes Britain, Canada, Finland, Ireland, Italy and the USA. More specific statements about Australia’s strike rating cannot be justified on the basis of existing data.

That is very interesting. It was stated by a professor of economics. He continued:

In the area of costs, the ILO data vastly exaggerates Australia’s strike losses in the strike-prone industries of mining, manufacturing, construction and transport. A more valid measure of the overall economic impact of strikes would include all employees in all of our industries. When this measure is used, the ILO figure of 1,390 strike days per 1,000 employees is cut by roughly half. If we compare this with the average work year, we can show that approximately one-third of 1 per cent of all potential work-times was lost because of industrial disputation in 1975. Thus, less time is lost through strikes than through industrial accidents, a single national holiday, or the common cold. Even this onethird of 1 per cent of work-time lost exaggerates the economic cost of strikes to society. Lost production is often made up out of overtime or out of inventories maintained for such purposes. Competitors may fill the gap. Often, production dosen’t even slow down during a dispute. On occasion, strikes may be precipated at times of slack economic activity when output is unwanted by the employer, i.e. strikes may substitute for temporary retrenchments.

It is a bit sad that those truisms- nobody can dispute them- are not taken into account by this Government which, I repeat, for purely domestic purposes tries to give to the world and has been successful in giving to the world the impression that industrial disputes are ruining Australia. The good professor went on to say:

Australia is not peculiarly strike-prone. Strikes are not a great economic burden and are not a major drag on productivity when management is competent and creative. Finally, the strike often remains the only effective way for employees to resist the unilateral will of employers. Thus, the right to strike constitutes a fundamental freedom in a democratic society.

Having said that, I shall quote Henry Lawson who said in a poem:

So we must fly a rebel flag

As others did before us

And we must sing a rebel song

And join in rebel chorus.

We’ll make the tyrants

Feel the sting

Of those that they would throttle.

They needn’t say the fault is ours

If blood should stain the wattle.


-I suspect that I will be making the briefest speech in the Budget debate this session. The orders of the House require me to complete my speech in three minutes, which will be easily done, as the Government has presented on this occasion a superb Budget. After three and a half years of intensive work and hard decision-making, the Government has at last been able to ease some of the restrictions that it has found necessary to place on the whole of the Australian community. This Budget follows a program that has introduced tight control of inflation, a commitment to reduce the deficit and a balancing of the national accounts. This is something which the previous Government could not cope with and which the present Government has coped with. In this Budget, all sections of the community receive benefits. It does not matter whether they are pensioners, small businessmen, taxpayers or those engaged in energy exploration; every section of the community receives some benefit. Furthermore, no increases in charges are made. No section of the community will bear additional costs because of this Budget.

The only aspect that I am concerned about for Australia’s future is whether the wave of industrial unrest and the wage push can be moderated to such an extent that all Australians will be able to gain true benefit from the Budget. It is clear from the economic surveys conducted in Australia by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, which were published in August that the Australian community, the Australian people and the Australian economy will benefit from this Budget, and that we are once again on the road to recovery.


-The Budget is some three weeks old and clearly has already gone sour. There was a temporary euphoria, the first response to the Budget, but very quickly both in this House and in the country this particular Budget has gone sour. One can see that it has gone sour in the House simply by examining the comments of the speakers in its defence.

One of the advantages of coming into the debate somewhat late is that one can make an analysis of the speeches of those who have got up to defend the Budget. Apart from the Treasurer (Mr Howard), only three Liberal speakers have attempted either a comprehensive defence of the Budget or a defence of its major provisions against the charges that have been brought against them. Those three were New South Welshmen- the honourable member for Bradfield (Mr Connolly), the honourable member for Berowra (Dr Edwards) and the honourable member for Macarthur (Mr Baume). The honourable member for Mitchell (Mr Cadman) who has just spoken also made that effort in his three minute speech. But those members are the only members on the Government side who in the weeks of this debate have made any real attempt to defend the Budget. I think the adequacy of their defence leaves much to be desired- I will examine it in due coursebut at least they made an effort to defend the Budget.

The remainder of the members who have spoken from the Government side, having decided that the Budget was either indefensible or perhaps incomprehensible, opted for one of three courses. Let me examine the kinds of defence that they have presented. First of all we heard what is now typical in this House- a ranting on about the Whitlam years and a savaging of the speech of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Hayden). Apparently these speakers were mostly oblivious to the fact that their Government has been in charge of the economy of this country for four years. We have now had four years of Liberal economics. It is no defence of this Liberal Budget simply to go back to the period 1972-75. We have had four years of Liberal economics, four years of a stagnating economy, four years of depressed demand and four years of rising unemployment. It is on the Goverment^ economic policy that the Australian people will deliver their verdict in the next 18 months.

The tactic of simply bringing up the years 1972-75 or of simply savaging the speech of the Leader of the Opposition was led, needless to say, by that merchant of froth and bubble, the Minister for Defence (Mr Killen). The Deputy Prime Minister (Mr Anthony), the chief parliamentary blatherer, abetted him. Another eagerbeaver in the cause- I am sorry that he has just left the House- was the honourable member for Mackellar (Mr Carlton). He has pursued the Leader of the Opposition assiduously. He said: ‘I have kept a copy of every speech that he has made*. One can only wish that for his sake and for the sake of the New South Wales Liberal

Party he had pursued Mr Lyenko Urbanchich with the same assiduity as he has pursued the Leader of the Opposition.

Nearly all of those speeches referred, of course, to the donkey-walloping incident. Indeed, the speech of the honourable member for Denison (Mr Hodgman) would have been more than usually vacuous if he had not had an opportunity to orate for some paragraphs on donkey-walloping. I think I can characterise this whole performance by the Government on the donkey-walloping theme. What we had was simply a cacophony of asses braying a bout their own mistreatment. Indeed, one only has to consider the Government benches in this House to realise that all members of the Opposition are inevitably donkey-wallopers, at least metaphorically speaking. That was the first response. It was simply either to attack the Leader of the Opposition or to talk about the Whitlam years. There was no defence of the Budget.

A second response from the Government benches was what I call the parochial response, that is, to abandon any defence of the broad economic policies of the Budget and to talk about the particular themes of the Budget in a parochial context. Needless to say, that was a very popular approach with the National Country Party members. We heard what I can only call a rural lament from the honourable member for Murray (Mr Lloyd). He lamented over telephone charges, fuel costs and the rural inadequacies of the Tertiary Education Assistance Scheme.

Then, from the honourable member for Kennedy (Mr Katter) we heard complaints about the costs and inadequacy of rural fuel supplies and worries about the television coverage in rural areas of test matches. He included for good measure in his speech a castigation of Broadband. He described that program as ‘garbage’. I can only say personally that any program castigated by the honourable member for Kennedy would ipso facto be worth listening to. Then we had the extraordinary exhibition of the honourable member for Hume (Mr Lusher). His speech sounded like a left-over from some transport debate. For 20 minutes the virtues of the southern railway were compared with the virtues of the Hume Highway. Let me say that all these things were, no doubt, worthy causes but none of them constituted a defence of the third Howard Budget.

Finally, there were quite idiosyncratic responses by Government members. I think the classic example of the idiosyncratic response was made by the honourable member for Forrest (Mr Drummond) who devoted almost entirely the whole of his speech to California’s Proposition 1 3 with scarcely a reference to this Budget or, indeed, to this country. Of course, as Proposition 13 was concerned with a drastic cut in California’s taxation, I can assume only that the honourable member was using this approach to attack his own Government because it is now clear that whatever else this Government might be it is certainly not a government devoted to taxation cuts.

Let us look at those few members- very few indeed- on the Government side who have attempted any real defence of this Budget. The honourable member for Berowra said:

The performance ofthe economy over the past 12 months has been pretty good.

I like the word ‘pretty’. I think one could say equally well that the performance of the Australian economy over the last 12 months has been pretty bad. Let us give the Government a couple of points. It is true that there has been an improvement in the balance of payments position, partly the result of the export growth and also the private capital inflow. Let us recognise that there has been an improvement there, but it is a pity that that improvement is not being used because it gives expansionary possibilities that this economy may not have had in recent years. Again, one also admits that there has been some improvements in business fixed investment and in business profits. One can collect a few facts like that. The honourable member for Berowra did his best with newspaper headlines to put together enough facts to suggest that somehow, over the last 12 months as a result of this Government’s policy, the economy has been pretty good.

Let us look at the overwhelming evidence that over the last 12 months the economy has been pretty bad. For the third year running the economic policies of the Government have failed to work. As in 1976-77 and again in 1977-78, so in 1 978-79 the economy had just not responded to the economic medicine prescribed by this Government. I think it should be now clear to the Australian people that it is impossible for them to go on having faith, either in the economic policies advanced by this Government or in the Treasury gremlins that guide them. One could examine what the Government promised in each of the Budget Speeches and then examine what happened to those promises. Perhaps ‘promises’ is the wrong word. I am told that the word promises’ is not used now by the Government. The word we should use is ‘projections’. Let us examine the projections made by the Treasurer last year, the indices he suggested we should watch in order to judge the health or otherwise of the economy. I want to suggest that if we examine the things that the Treasurer suggested we should emphasise then we will discover that, in fact, on his own measures and on his own indices, in the last 12 months it is truer to say of the Australian economy that it went pretty badly rather than pretty well.

Let me deal with each of these indices advanced by the Treasurer in his Budget Speech last year to see how they have worked. First of all an obvious one is, of course, the deficit miscalculation. In the Budget projection of last year a deficit of $2,8 1 3m was promised which, we were told by the Treasurer, would be a reduction of $52 lm over 1977-78, that is, the Government was bringing down the deficit. Of course, what we actually got was a deficit of $3,478m, an increase in fact of $145m over the Budget deficit for the previous year. I am not a Budget fetishist as the Government is, but if we accept the arguments advanced by the Government of the importance of the deficit to the control of inflation in this country, that kind of failure, that kind of miscalculation- and for the second year running- undoubtedly has inflationary implications. That is the argument of Treasury. If, in fact, there are these serious deficit miscalculations then, on the Government’s own argument, that failure injects inflationary elements into the Australian economy.

Let me take the second of the indices used by the Treasurer in 1978 to suggest how we should make a measurement of the economy in the past 12 months. He said:

The firm control of the monetary aggregates which the Government has put in place since early in 1976 has contributed much to the subsequent wind-down in inflation.

He also said:

In this regard- and despite the acknowledged uncertainties in such projections-

I want to be fair to the Treasurer; 1 want to put in the qualifications he made. He stated:

I now state that this Budget is consistent with an outlook for financial conditions indicated by growth in the broadly defined volume of money (M3) in the range of 6-8 per cent over the course of 1 978-79.

What was, in fact, the growth in the money supply as measured through M3 in 1978-79? The growth rate was 1 1.8 per cent. That is nearly double the lower figure suggested. I know the Treasurer abandoned this projection in April 1979 as inappropriate. I recognise that certain economic developments led to a reconsideration of the money supply position. The Budget

Papers, for instance, provide a whole host of excuses for the blowing out of money supply. There were Reserve Bank advances to finance the wheat crop, there was a turn-around in the private sector foreign exchange transactions and there was a reduction in demand for government securities. All of these excuses are advanced and, no doubt, contain some elements of truth. What the Treasury Papers, of course, do not mention is that there was, in the latter part of 1978 and the early part of 1979, monetary mismanagement in this country; that, in fact, the blowing out of the money supply was partly the result of a mishandling of the monetary position in the latter months of 1978 and the early months of 1979. 1 do not know of any leading economic commentator who has not brought that kind of criticism against the Government about its monetary management in the latter part of the year. If this is true then what happens to the statement made by the Treasurer that the firm control of the monetary aggregates have had much to do with the subsequent wind-down in inflation? If, in fact, the infirm control of the monetary aggregates which took place in the latter part of 1978 and early 1979- if it was infirmed, as I clearly would suggest- then it has had some contribution to the accelerating pattern of inflation in this country. The Treasurer cannot escape, on his own argument, some responsibility through monetary mismanagement for what is again becoming the great problem for this economy, the acceleration of inflation.

We then come to another of the indices suggested by the Treasurer. He said that the Government promises a ‘further sustainable reduction in interest rates’. Indeed, that promise, which was inappropriate in the monetary conditions of the time, was partly responsible for the monetary mismanagement at the end of the year. Of course, the effort to bring down interest rates in that period contributed to the blowing out of the money supply but it also had the effect of compelling interest rates back up. What we have now is that the downward trend in interest rates, in 1 978, which were inappropriate for the market conditions at the time, was reversed in early 1 979. That is certainly true of the official rates. So another of the kinds of projections made by the Treasurer for the health of the economy in the period 1978-79 was not met. Then we were told by the Treasurer in 1978:

The personal saving ratio is likely to continue to decline and private consumption expenditure can be expected to grow at a healthy pace.

That did not occur. The personal savings ratio increased over the year and all the signs are that it is likely to go on increasing. The depressed demand situation of this economy ran through 1978- 79 and looks as though it will be more threatening to economic development in the coming year.

Mr Cotter:

-Are you talking about 1978-79 or

1979- 80?


– I am saying that we should make a judgment on the accuracy of the Treasurer’s projections by looking at what he said last year and at what has happened in the past 12 months. If the honourable member is prepared to do that, then any faith that he could have in the economic management of his own party would rapidly dissipate. This was another promise made in the Treasurer’s statement a year ago:

Overall, gross non-farm product is projected to grow by around 4 per cent in real terms in 1 978-79.

In 1978-79 that growth was distinctly below that figure; it was 2.8 per cent. We usually consider that that measurement is the most effective measurement of growth in the economy. It fell well below the Treasurer’s prediction. One of the interesting things is the response of the Treasury gremlins when they have problems like this. They know that the failure of that growth projection undermines much of the economic argument of last year’s Budget. If one reads the Budget Papers for this year one will discover that the Treasury gremlins have, at enormous length, tried to explain why these predictions go wrong. Indeed, I suggest that, when we read the Budget Papers in the future, and the Government has long and involved statistical explanations that is a sure sign of a Treasury cover-up of a failed projection.

Last year the Treasurer said in his Budget Speech:

With even reasonably sensible outcomes for wage determination, inflation is expected to be running at an annual rate down towards 5 per cent by mid- 1 979.

He knows that that has been completely falsified. If one reads the 1979-80 Budget Papers, one sees that the explanation is that overseas factors are the chief reason for this failure. To be fair to the Treasurer, there are certain overseas factors which have affected the failure of his inflation projections. But, the failure of those inflation projections is as much the fault of the Government in terms of the way in which it developed indirect taxes over the last 12 months. The fact that we now have an inflation rate running at about 9 per cent is due to the deficit fetish in pursuance of which the Government said: ‘We will put on indirect taxes to solve our deficit problem’. Therefore, the Government directly puts into the economy the inflationary factors of indirect taxes. For instance, the health changes which are now being made will have an inflationary effect in the coming year. The petrol taxes which were introduced last year had an inflationary impact last year and will have an increasingly inflationary impact in the coming year. The changes in other indirect taxes in the last Budget fed into the inflationary spiral. By trying to cut the deficit with the introduction of indirect taxes the Government is even more directly fuelling inflation in this country. If there is one major criticism to be made of last year’s Budget and this Budget in terms of the total management of this economy, it is that in pursuit of a cut in the deficit, in adherence to a deficit fetish, the Government through indirect taxespetrol taxes, increased health charges and other indirect taxes- is directly fuelling the accelerating inflation in this economy.

Suspension of Standing Orders

Motion (by Mr John McLeay)- by leaveagreed to:

That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the Prime Minister speaking without limitation of time.

Prime Minister · Wannon · LP

– The member of the Opposition who has just spoken, the honourable member for Bonython (Dr Blewett), indicated once again the complete misunderstanding of what Budget policy is all about. The substance of his remarks meant that a deficit does not matter; that all that is important is for the Government to spend money on programs that it thinks are good and that there is no need to have a responsible funding of a deficit. That was the plain implication in the remarks made by the honourable gentleman. If he does not like it, it is too bad, because that is what he was saying and that is quite plainly the reason why under the Labor Party there was a mammoth inflation and under the Labor Party again there would be a massive inflation.

This Budget maintains and reinforces the ongoing strategy that we have pursued. It presents with candour and detail- warts and all- the shape of things in 1979-80 as we see them. It is not a question of expediency or of short term popularity. It is a question of consolidating and strengthening Australia’s economic recovery so that we can have a firm foundation for the 1 980s. We still have some major economic problems to confront. These reflect partly some international developments and partly distortions which we inherited and which, 3Vi years later, still in part beset the economy. The world economy is troubled and, as the Treasurer (Mr Howard) has made plain, inflation is accelerating quite rapidly- too rapidly- in a number of Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development countries. In many of those countries economic growth has slowed down. As a result, world trade is likely to remain sluggish. In the United States output is actually declining. That means that there is an even greater need for Australia to conduct her own affairs in a realistic and clearheaded manner. The tighter we can run our economy, the better we can run our ship, the better we can get through a difficult international economic environment so that we can advance in a hostile external environment. We are establishing the circumstances in which we can do that because of the strategy that has been applied over the past 3V4 years. As a result, we are much better equipped to do so than might otherwise have been the case.

The strategy that we followed has already been vindicated. In the year to June 1979, compared with the figure a year ago, civilian employment is up by more than 64,000, and it is worth noting that the number of full time unemployed is 18,000 fewer than it was a year ago. How many people out in the countryside are aware of that? So often, people have reported that unemployment is rising and continues to rise; but, on the figures issued by the Bureau of Statistics, unemployment is 18,000 fewer than it was a year ago. Unemployment has been reduced from 6.2 per cent to 5.8 per cent. Whilst we cannot make too much of that, it is an encouraging trend and one which, through our policies, we intend to build upon.

Profitability is up, but it can be improved even more. Inflation is down substantially from the 1 7 per cent of Labor’s years to around 9 per cent. This figure is higher than we would like and higher than we believed at this time last year it would be; but we all know what has happened since. We can understand that those inflationary pressures that have put a hiccup into the downward movement of inflation in Australia have had the same effect or a worse effect in many countries overseas. On an annualised basis, inflation in the United States is now running at around 14 per cent. On the latest figures, inflation in the United Kingdom is around 22 per cent. For the OECD area as a whole the figure is 12.9 per cent and for Australia it is around 9 per cent. The margin in favour of Australia is increasing, which means that our industries become more competitive, that our exporters can do better and that the Australian economy is strengthened, and that is good for Australian employment.

I remember that about two years ago my colleague, the Minister for Defence (Mr Killen), brought to the Government a proposal to buy a major replenishment ship for the Navy at a cost of $70m or $80m. The tender was to go to an overseas firm and the best overseas tender was from a French tenderer. We, as a government, said: ‘We would like to give Australian contractors a last chance. Go back to the Australian contractors. See how much subsidy might be involved to get that ship built in Australia’. Our colleague was able to come back and only a short while ago announce that the contract had gone to an Australian tenderer, Vickers Cockatoo Dockyard Pty Ltd. No subsidy at all was required because the Australian firms undercut the best overseas tender available to the Australia Defence Forces. That is the kind of result we want from our policies- Australian industry being able, to go out and compete and get into business which some time ago we thought was beyond our reach.

We are exporting again. In the 12 months to June of this year exports were over 20 per cent up on the same period in the previous year. Australia is again recognised internationally as a good place in which to invest. Private foreign investment in the last financial year was the best for almost a decade. That again is a result of the policies that have been applied rigorously by this Government over three and a half years. A large number of major mining and manufacturing projects now exist in Australia. Over $13 billion is firmly committed or the projects are in the final feasibility stage. In the alumina and aluminium smelting industry alone, projects total $4 billion, and that means jobs right around Australia. In the coal industry, $2 billion-worth of projects mean more jobs around this country. There has been international praise for Australia’s steadfastness and success. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development compliments Australia on its economic policy. We are one of the few countries that over the last few years has been able steadily to improve international competitiveness. That again is as a result of our policies.

But we cannot hide the fact that there are some undesirable aspects, some dangers in this year ahead of us. The downward trend in prices has been interrupted, as we know, and for reasons that we understand. New dangers are produced by international developments- upward pressures on oil prices, on beef prices and on some metal prices. But we do not sit back, we do not blame adverse overseas developments. They are a fact of life and we have to meet them. We face them and devise a strategy to minimise the damage, and to improve Australia’s competitive advantage compared with other countries. That is just what we have done. Compare that with the attitude of our predecessors in office. They inherited an economy with inflation running at about 5 per cent- that was below the OECD average. During their term in office they increased inflation to 17 per cent, five points above the OECD average. That was as a result of their policies over three years. In the last six months, Australia’s inflation rate is significantly below the average rate of advanced countries overseas. We intend to keep it that way.

I think we need to remember that Labor compounded the world inflationary problem for Australia by quite deliberate policies of its own. Commonwealth outlays increased successively by 20 per cent, 46 per cent and 23 per cent. Let us look at health, the area under the control and charge, first of all, of the present Leader of the Opposition (Mr Hayden). Presumably he kept a fatherly eye on it when he was Treasurer. But the escalation of costs in that area, which was under his control in one form or another, was 2 1 per cent in 1973-74, 37 per cent in 1974-75 and 1 14 per cent under the Budget of the Leader of the Opposition. I think that shows that his area of direct interest was one of those areas that contributed most to inflation, most to an increase in outlays in a quite exorbitant and unreasonable fashion. We need to understand that in the area allegedly under his control costs were quite patently out of his control. Over the last three years my colleague, the Minister for Health (Mr Hunt), has re-established control over health finances in a very praiseworthy way.

It is worth noting that the Leader of the Opposition would do it all again, because he said he would restore Medibank as it was. That would cost $600m and the cost escalation would be off again. He would have no concern for the deficit and no concern for its consequences on the Australian economy. Look at what happened through Labor’s wages policy. It also compounded the world inflationary pressures. In the year to March 1975 wages went up by 38 per cent- in one year alone. Was it any wonder that Australian industry had some difficulty in employing people, any wonder that it had some difficulty in producing and selling and providing jobs for Australians? Our Budget builds on the achievements of the last two to three years. It responds to emerging dangers in the world economy. It is anti-inflationary. It maintains and enhances the competitive gains for Australian industry. It establishes rigid controls over government spending for the forthcoming year, which will increase by about 9 per cent, about the same as inflation. I think it is worth noting that since 1975-76 total government expenditure has basically been held constant in real termsunder 1 per cent a year in any case. In the three years before that, expenditure grew by 10.5 per cent per year in real terms and in the years before that by nearly 5 per cent per year in real terms. So, in a sense our Government is the first for a very long while, maybe the first in the post-war years, that has maintained the kind of rigid control over expenditure that we have established. Despite that, we have met major commitments in defence, in social welfare and in the development and support of Australian industry.

How many people understand, Mr Deputy Speaker, that in 1969 there were 179 pensioners for every 1,000 people in the labour force, but in 1979 there are 284 pensioners for every 1,000 people in the labour force? Is it any wonder that the welfare bill has grown as a result of those figures? I do not think that anyone has advocated cutting back income support to needy individuals. Because inflation is now higher than we envisaged at the time of the last Budget a year ago, pensions and benefits are again indexed twice-yearly. We have gone beyond that. The income limits for pensioners who may receive fringe benefits have been extended, and supporting parent beneficiaries have become eligible for pensioner health benefit cards, as is only fair and just. Repatriation benefits have been improved and extended, as this Government and I believe they should have been, to allied ex-service personnel. So, we have met obligations in that area.

In defence we are providing an extra $28 lm, nearly 1 1 per cent more than last year in money terms. That has enabled us to lift the percentage of the defence vote going on capital equipment from Labour’s average 7 per cent to over 15 per cent this year. We can start to rebuild the infrastructure and weaponry of the armed forces, and that is a very welcome and necessary improvement. In industry, export expansion grants have increased from $20m allocated in 1978-79 to $170m in 1979-80, partly because there is a backlog in the bills owed, but also very significantly because that program has been very much more effective than we originally thought and because Australian manufacturing industry is being much more effective in exporting and getting out into markets right around the world than had been thought possible two or three years ago. That again is a commitment that this Government has met. So, we are providing for national goals in areas of social welfare, in defence and in support of industry. Despite that we have been able to contain expenditure overall in the most rigid way and reduce the deficit very substantially indeed.

The deficit is now coming down to 1 .9 per cent of the gross domestic product, to under $2.2 billion, a very substantial reduction indeed. The domestic deficit is coming down to under $900m, less than half that of last year. I think we need to understand the implications of this for the Australian economy. It provides more scope in the private sector, it greatly assists in the management of monetary policy and it will make it easier to find adequate private funds for investment and housing. It keeps a downward pressure on inflation and strengthens the Australian dollar and very greatly builds private sector confidence. People have only to go round Australia and to the business and financial areas to see how, over the last two or three weeks, in the time since the Budget, this Budget has built and extended confidence right throughout Australia. We intend that that be continued.

In addition, we have been able to reduce taxes. Whatever the semantic arguments might be about whether or not people should pay more tax when they have a higher income, the fact remains that on every dollar earned from 1 December taxes will be lower. If additional dollars are earned less tax will be paid on those additional dollars than would otherwise have been the case. I think it is worth noting that in this year alone tax paid will be $4,000m less than would have been paid had the famous Hayden scales still been in force- $4,000m less. Let us look at somebody on an income of $12,000 a year. Under the Hayden scales he was on 45c in the dollar. He will be on a shade over 33c in the dollar through this year. Under the Hayden scales a man on $20,000 a year was paying 60c in the dollar tax. He will be on a shade over 47c in the dollar this year.

It is worth noting that after 1 December a taxpayer on average earnings, and having a wife and two children, will be $20 a week better off as a result of our reforms and as a result of family allowances than he would have been under Labor. In the case of family allowances alone, we have provided $4 billion over four years. That represents massive support for Australian families and a major social welfare innovation introduced by this Government. One can compare that with taxes going up by 125 per cent under Labor. Labor has promised additional taxes on capital, on wealth and on national resources, increased oil levies and a marginal income tax rate of 75c to 80c in the dollar. One can see which is the party of high taxes and which is the party of low taxes.

It is worth noting that the September issue of Syntec noted that in 1980-81 we will have the unusual spectacle of investment inflow picking up in this country in the midst of international recession. That is a remarkable statement. It is also a remarkable commentary on the Australian economy and the way in which it has been managed. That publication is virtually saying that because of the management of the Australian economy we are attracting investments to this country when other countries are not doing so; because we are keeping this country under economic control Australia will have more activity than will many other countries. We know that the world is in trouble because inflation is too high and growth in economies is too low.

But if Australia is to come through it well, the strength and the heart of our policies must be to keep a downward thrust on inflation, to improve Australia’s competitive advantage over other countries, and to build opportunities in the private sector so that lasting real jobs can and will be created and we can get this country moving again- I believe we are- in the major resource areas, that will provide a substantial number of jobs. Creating a climate for private investment will also create a substantial number of jobs throughout this country. I have already mentioned $2 billion worth of investments in the coal industry and $4 billion worth of investments in the bauxite, alumina and aluminium industry. In the June quarter private foreign investments of $ 1,400m was approved. That represents prospective expenditure and people from overseas, voting with their dollars and their pounds, demonstrating their confidence in the Australian economy. No other country has that kind of reputation at this time.

What is Labor’s alternative? I think we should look at it. It is worth noting that the honourable member for Gellibrand (Mr Willis) said at the National Press Club:

None of the media took any notice of last year’s alternative Budget, and that is why there isn’t one this year.

What a wonderful reason for the Labor Party abnegating its responsibility. Labor’s economic responsibility is equivalent to the number of square inches it gets in the newspapersabsolutely none at all. It has no economic policy and no recognition of the central importance of anti-inflationary policies. The recent economic experience of the whole industrialised world drives homes the lesson that policies which do not attack inflation cannot achieve a return to sustained economic growth and the enhanced living standards which only that growth can bring.

Let me quote for a moment from comments made by William Miller, Secretary of the United States Treasury and designated by President Carter as the Chief Economic Spokesman for the United States. He said:

Inflation is a clear and present danger. It has struck at our nation’s vitality. If it is not checked, then it will threaten our democratic system itself . . . We must attack the root causes and totally eradicate the basic sources of the malady …. What is needed is a comprehensive, sustained and total war against inflation.

I only wish that that war were more fully undertaken by a number of other countries. In 1975 the present Leader of the Opposition said:

Today it is inflation itself which is the central policy problem. More inflation simply leads to more unemployment.

That statement was true at the time it was made. Unfortunately in opposition he seems to have forgotten that momentary exhibition of good sense. Now in opposition he seeks to ignore these realities, to place no coherent alternatives before the Australian people and to sell Australians short. But some Labor leaders have criticised economic policies. Mr Wran called them a hotchpotch. Mr Hawke called them a gutless sell-out to the Left.

What would Labor’s deficit be? It is worth asking ourselves this question and analysing some of Labor’s propositions. The Leader of the Opposition said:

We would support a larger deficit.

He makes no apology for that. What about the proposals that came out of the Adelaide conference? I am talking about that nice, modest, calm conference which seemed to go so well and which reaffirmed all the extremism of Labor in the Whitlam years. One could mention such proposals as a national investment fund, national superannuation, national no-fault compensation, the establishment of a national newspaper to print those things which Labor would like to see, subsidies for political parties and the abolition of staff ceilings. How much would all those proposals cost? Are the members of the Labor Party modest people? Would the cost be $200m, $500m or perhaps $ 1,000m? We could take our pick.

Mr Baillieu:

-Even $2,000m.


– It might even be $2,000m, but we know that it certainly would not be a modest amount. But in the alternative Budget that has not been presented there was a proposal in relation to capital works. How much were they going to cost-$200m, $300m? The Leader of the Opposition is silent about it. He has given some figures in relation to the establishment of a community services corps, which is his own discredited Regional Employment Development scheme, a scheme which he abandoned in his 1975 Budget. On the basis of 50,000 people being involved in the new scheme, it would cost $600m in a full year and not $ 100m, or $40 a week per person, as he tried to suggest. It is another example of opportunism; it would not create jobs.

Let us look at the consequences experienced in a Labor State which has pursued this kind of policy. In South Australia, 8.2 per cent of the work force is looking for full time work. The national rate is 5.8 per cent. That is the kind of result one gets in a Labor State pursuing Labor policies. There is an argument going on about it at the moment. Again in South Australia in the month of August the number of unemployed increased by over 5,000 people, whereas overall in Australia the number of unemployed fell quite usefully during that month. If people want more of the stagnation which is occurring in South Australia, they have only to vote for Labor policies for the whole of the country. However, I am certain that people have more sense than to do that.

The Leader of the Opposition made another gentle remark about an employer subsidy scheme. It is something which has not really been analysed. He hopes that it will sound good. It is meant to create sympathy for the unemployed when in fact it is a policy which will provide no help at all. He has proposed that a subsidy be paid to employers equal to the rate of the unemployment benefit or net additions to the work force. Such a proposal can be taken only on a firm or company basis. Even if employment were static, there would be many companies expanding their employment base and many others that would be losing because they just were not doing so well. On some estimates the increase in employment in a number of companies and corporations would be not less than a quarter of a million right around Australia. This scheme would cost about $ 1,000m a year but would produce no real increase in employment at all. It is a hyprocritical scheme and one which seeks to delude the Australian public.

In view of all of this, what would the deficit be under Labor? I do not think it could be less than $4 billion and it might well be substantially more than that. Even if it were $4 billion, matching those commitments would still depend upon very greatly increased taxation in a number of areas. I refer to such things as wealth taxes, the oil levy and the resources tax- taxes designed to destroy initiative and enterprise right throughout Australia and to bring this country to a halt, just as Labor so successfully did once before.

It is worth noting that these expenditure proposals have come from somebody who was regarded- I do not know why- as a responsible Treasurer. But what would things be like after a bunch of Labor Ministers got around a Cabinet table? Expenditure would go up two or three times. Labor has no policy to control inflation; it has a policy only for disaster. That seems to me to be like Mr Whitlam all over again. Labor has no wages policy; it has no recognition of wages and their relationship with inflation. It is quite plain that Labor sold out to the Left at the Adelaide conference. Honourable members do not have to take my word for that; they just have to take Bob Hawke ‘s word for it. One sentence which came out of the Adelaide conference states:

With the understanding and co-operation of the trade union movement -

What a wonderful thing- develop and implement a policy which would encompass wages, incomes, non-wages incomes, the social wage, taxation reform and the elimination of tax avoidance and which will achieve a more equitable distribution of our national wealth and income with a commitment to the maintenance of real wages by quarterly adjustment and the passing on of the benefits of the increases in productivity.

That is the policy. Who is going to interpret it?

Mr Young:

– I will interpret it for you in a minute.


-Ah! Here is somebody who will interpret it. But I think we would also have the union movement interpreting it as it wants. The union movement interpreted it in the last day or two by way of a most irresponsible wages policy of all time, one which would add to the numbers of unemployed. It is a totally selfish policy. That is the interpretation and it is the interpretation that members on the opposite side of the House would be bound to. We have Mr Hawke ‘s word for it that the Leader of the Opposition had a gutless sell-out to the Left. We had confirmation of that just a day or two ago. The confirmation comes from that great advocate of morality and moderation in Victoria, Mr Bill Hartley.

How does Mr Hartley come into it? He has attacked Mr Hawke and defended Mr Hayden in a journal called, I think, the Lone Star- or something like that. Therein he reveals the reason for the sudden wisdom of the Leader of the Labor Party, the reason for the sudden insight into the needs of the union movement and the reason for the sudden sell-out to the Left. Mr Hartley has made it perfectly plain that the Leader of the Opposition is listening to Mr Roulston of the Amalgamated Metal Workers and Shipwrights Union and his economic advice. The Leader of the Opposition is being sensible, says Mr Hartley, because he is accepting the advice of Jim Roulston of the AMSWU I do not know that anyone wants the AMSWU running anyone in this Parliament. I think that the first act of decency that Mr Hartley has ever performed might be bis advising us of the secret adviser to the Leader of the Opposition in economic policy. Is it any wonder that Mr Hawke called it gutless? Is it any wonder that Mr Hawke called it a sell-out to the Left? But, in this respect, we are reminded of one factor. I refer to the great bond in common between Mr Whitiam and Mr Hayden- their capacity to fight with Mr Hawke.

Quite plainly, Labor’s policies are also against foreign investment. A Labor Government would take action to prevent a continuance of activities of transnational corporations which are against the interests of the Australian public. But which activities, which companies are they? Is it going to hold a sword over the heads of all of them? How many people would invest in or undertake new enterprises against that kind of threat? The Labor Party wants an institution to spy on transnational, to provide the information to unions here and overseas. Again, that would just send investment out of this country.

Mr Holding:

– Ah, what a terrible thing.


-Ah, what a terrible thing! The honourable member wants investment to go out of this country. He does not believe in jobs for Australians; he does not want partnership with overseas concerns; and he does not want to be able to provide markets for the export of our resources and primary products. It is good to have interjections and occasionally to have the truth out of the Australian Labor Party. But now what does that Party say about uranium? I do not want to say very much about this matter because others have said it all, but it is again Mr Hawke who said that the Federal Government, this Government, appears to have done all that it could to obtain non-proliferation guarantees from customer countries. But still South Australia and the Australian Labor Party hold up the development of one of the greatest mines that could be established anywhere in the world because they are wedded to an archaic and stupid policy which is going to inhibit Australia’s development and which is going to prevent Australia playing the role that she should as an energy supplier.

Let me say something for a moment about policy on oil. Mr Hayden would abandon our oil policy. But what would he replace it withsuggestions or innuendoes? He has not said. The Opposition’s opportunism and deception are nowhere more apparent than in its attitude to crude oil pricing. It tries to suggest that the motorist should get his petrol for less, but at the same time it tries to suggest that the levy should be higher. The Opposition cannot have it both ways. There is no getting away from the fact that oil supplies are scarce. I am certain that the Australian public understands that. Prices must reflect that scarcity and I am sure that people accept that, even if they do not like it. We cannot delude ourselves that Australia can enjoy artificially low oil prices simply because at present we are 70 per cent selfsufficient. Beyond the very short term that 70 per cent self-sufficiency would fall very dramatically and an artificially low price would be a recipe for disastrous shortages a short while into the future.

Almost every industrialised country in the world has recognised that the days of cheap oil are over. Indeed Australia still has lower petrol prices than, for example, Britain, France, Germany, Italy and many other countries. It is worth recalling, I think, the words of the Leader of the Opposition when as Treasurer, he announced the introduction of the crude oil levy in the 1975 Budget. He said:

The low domestic price is not conducive to rational resource usage. Yet it does not necessarily follow that increases in the domestic price should be reflected fully in corresponding increases in prices to Australian producers . . .

I would have thought that that is exactly the attitude which underlies this Government’s policy. It is in fact the policy that has been pursued. It is an attitude which has been endorsed by Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development countries, by the International Energy Agency and by the governments of most industrialised countries.

Labor’s current approach would mean the end of oil search and development. World parity pricing for oil, is an essential part of conservation. It is an essential part of the use of alternative fuels and it is an essential part of the exploration and development of new fields. We intend to stay with that policy because it is the right policy for Australia.

When we look at the Labor Party’s economic policies, or rather the lack of them, its policies against foreign investment, against development- the policies that would lead to inflation running ahead once again- it is plain that the Labor Party would increase unemployment, and end development and investment. I do not really think that we should have any reason to doubt this. Labor did it once before to a greater extent and more effectively than anyone could have believed possible. Is there any reason, therefore, to doubt Labor’s capacity to do just that once again? That would be reminiscent of Mr Whitlam all over again.

In marked contrast to the Opposition’s fantasies, the 1979-80 Budget, which the Treasurer introduced, is a simple and direct document. It is in marked contrast to the Opposition’s blithe disregard for the inflationary consequences of its alternative policies. The 1979-80 Budget does not pretend that inflation can be solved by schemes that ignore the basic cause of inflation or be devices which manipulate price levels at the expense of intensifying underlying inflationary forces. Let no one forget that one of the major dislocations of the mid-1970s, one which to some extent is still with us, was the huge increase in the share of income going to wages and the huge fall in the share going to business. Let no one forget that that catastrophe flowed directly from the policies of the Labor Government. Let no one forget Labor’s massive spending splurge. Let no one forget Labor’s catastrophic inflation and let no one forget that the Labor Party is the party that began high unemployment in this country. Let no one forget Labor’s destruction of this economy. We are repairing that economy, recovering from the disaster of Labor. This is a Budget for the future. It is a Budget for strength; it is a Budget for all Australians. We agree with Mr Wran when he says that the 1980s will be the boom decade for Australia. Occasionally he speaks a little economic sense.

This is a Budget which will steer Australia through the difficult international economic scene. Because we are running the economy well, because our inflation is lower than that of many of our trading partners and because we are therefore becoming more competitive, even if world trade is low and even if there is not much growth in the United States or in Europe, we will be able to get Australia through a difficult world scene much better than most other countries. We will be able to get more than our normal share of world investment. We will be able to get more activity in this country because we can attract that investment and we will get more activity in this country because our industries are becoming more competitive and reaching out to more markets in many different countries. We can do those things only if this economy is well run and inflation is kept under control. The Budget is confidently pointing the way to the 1 980s. Under our policies, it will be a decade of achievement, of stability, of social progress and a better life for all Australians.

Suspension of Standing Orders

Motion (by Mr Fife)- by leave- agreed to:

That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the honourable member for Port Adelaide speaking fora period not exceeding 35 minutes.


-I think it might suit the convenience of the House to suspend the sitting. Does the honourable member wish to proceed?

Port Adelaide

-Mr Deputy Speaker, normally one would agree to the suspension of the sitting in such circumstances but the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) always seeks to be able to speak right to the limit so that nobody has the opportunity to reply. When one looks at the pained faces of those honourable members who are forced to come into the chamber and to sit and listen to him, it is easy to understand why fewer than three out of ten people in this country approve of the way the Prime Minister is doing his job. Seven out of ten people disapprove of the way the Prime Minister is doing his job. After listening to his speech on the Budget I think that only two out of ten people will approve of the way he is doing his job. He spent a great deal of his time telling us what the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Hayden) said in 1975. Let me remind the Prime Minister of what he said in 1 975. 1 do not need newspapers, Budget Speeches or policy speeches to remind me of what you said because everybody in Australia recalls what you said. You talked tonight about there being no wages policy. In your December -


-Order! The honourable member for Port Adelaide will refer to the Prime Minister as such.


-When the Prime Minister talks about a wages policy he should remember that in November and December of 1975, when the race was on to be Prime Minister of this country, he told the people of Australia that he would abide by indexation. That was to be the Government’s wages policy, which he dispensed with immediately he came to power. In the last seven of eight national wage cases he has asked the wage and salary earners of this country to take no wage increases at all. This is one example of the things that the Prime Minister told us in 1975.

If we are to have a debate on what was said in those days- if it is still relevant today- the Prime Minister also told us that it would be terrible to have the original Medibank scheme back because it would cost $600m. The Minister for Health (Mr Hunt) told us last month that reintroduction of the original Medibank scheme would cost $400m. Obviously, they have different people in their departments who are doing the arithmetic. But in November 1975 the Prime Minister of this country found it convenient to tell all the voters: ‘We will maintain Medibank’. That was a promise to the electorate to win the support of the majority of the people. He said: ‘We will abide by indexation, we will support indexation and we will maintain Medibank’. Where are those promises? It is not relevant to talk about what the present Leader of the Opposition said in 1975 and what he could have done.

Let us consider something else that the Prime Minister told the people of Australia. He said: Only under the Liberals will everybody get a job’. There were 230,000 people unemployed when he became Prime Minister. Today 390,000 people are unemployed. Where are the promises? How do they stand up when one compares what was said in 1975 with what is really occurring in 1979? I think people in Australia are entitled to be reminded about the promises that were made by this Government and the futility of its economic policies as they have been evolving from the last four Budgets of the Fraser Government. All the Budgets promised an economic miracle.

When we had the land broker as Treasurer, the Minister for Industry and Commerce (Mr Lynch), he told us that the Budget being introduced would solve all the economic problems of Australia. This is the fourth Budget of this Government. It is still promising the same thing. But now we have this unique economic situation in which we have rising inflation, rising interest rates and far higher unemployment. Where is the miracle evolving from any of the Liberal Party Budgets? Would someone please explain to the people of Australia when the miracle will occur?

I give this warning: It will do no good for this Prime Minister to go to the next election campaign with promises. No one in Australia believes him. It will be no good saying at the next election campaign: ‘Unemployment will drop, inflation will drop and interest rates will drop by 2 per cent over the next year’. Even the three out often people who approve of the way he is doing his job at the moment do not believe him. They are just died in the wool Liberal voters hoping to hell that something will occur in Australia that will enable them to sustain their support for the Liberal-Country Party coalition. The performance of this Government has been miserable.

Let us have a look at some of the things the Prime Minister said tonight in his speech on the Budget. The shape of things to come in 1979-80 is in the Budget. The shape of things to come is a minimum of 10 per cent inflation. That figure is incorporated in the Budget predictions and I will have more to say about that at 8 o’clock.

Sitting suspended from 6 to 8 p.m.


-Prior to the suspension of the sitting I was referring to some of the statements made by the present Prime Minister prior to and leading up to the 1975 and the 1977 elections and also to what he has said subsequently in relation to the Australian economy. The Prime Minister prided himself on being able to quote the present Leader of the Opposition in what he had said as the Treasurer of this country way back in 1975. When one looks at some of the things that the Prime Minister has said about indexation, Medibank, inflation and interest rates it is no wonder that just a few months ago a journalist wrote:

The Prime Minister has never allowed his commitment to the truth to become obsessive.

I think that is correct. People throughout Australia no longer believe anything that the Prime Minister says because so many of the things which he has said have proved to be futile and just political rhetoric.

I want to refer to some of the things he said this afternoon because they also are questionable in relation to the 1979-80 Budget. He said that the shape of things to come in this financial year are inherent in this Budget and in the Budget Speech of the Treasurer (Mr Howard). It is evident from that speech that Australia will have a worse economic condition during 1 979-80 than it had in 1978-79. Unemployment will be much higher in Australia next year than it was last year. The Prime Minister said that Labor’s plans to create jobs in Australia would cost a billion dollars. As I said, he has no commitment to the truth. But be that as it may, Australians should be asked whether they are prepared to spend a billion dollars on creating jobs, or do they want, as this Government is doing in this financial year, to spend $998m on unemployment benefits. We have the choice. We can do what is done in Sweden, Belgium, West Germany or in the United States of America. Alternatively, we can continue to throw the young people of this country on to the scrap heap. The Government by its own figures in the Budget expects that in the forthcoming year at least 325,000 people will be receiving the unemployment benefit. Just imagine, $ 1 billion is to be spent on unemployment benefits but no additional money, services or resources are to be put toward job creation.

The Prime Minister has made his position quite clear. He says that things cannot get better this financial year because of all the international factors; that he hopes that other governments throughout the Western world will do more to get inflation down; and that perhaps they could follow his lead. I remind the House that this Prime Minister is the very same person who said of the Labor Government in 1974 that international reasons had nothing to do with the condition of the Australian economy in that year. He is the very same person who said that our inflation problems, our unemployment problems of that period- the international recession- had nothing to do with the condition in which we found ourselves in 1973-74. All of a sudden, international reasons have something to do with inflation going back up to 10 per cent in Australia, with unemployment going back to over 500,000 early next year. The Prime Minister of the country will say anything for any reason and hope that some of the people in Australia will believe him.

As I said at the outset of this speech, three out of every 10 Australians approve of the way in which the Prime Minister is doing his job. He takes pride in the figures announced by the Australian Bureau of Statistics last Friday, which showed that there had been a slight fall in the unemployment figure for August. I remind the House that the unemployment figure for people between the ages of 15 and 19 went up by 7,000 and that 1 13,000 young people between the ages of 15 and 19 are registered as out of work. No rhetoric from the Prime Minister can disguise that fact. On average, those young people are out of work for 27 weeks. That is the duration of their unemployment as they search for work, and I will have much more to say about that later in my speech.

As we all know, the Government has no policy on wages. Its attitude to wages is that everybody in Australia is being paid too much and the only way to overcome our economic problems is for wage earners who have no other form of income to be prepared to tighten their belts. But in relation to profitability, this Prime Minister has an open-skies policy. He told us in his speech this afternoon he was quite happy with the level of profitability of some of the major companies but it could go up even more. I ask you, Mr Deputy Speaker: Who in the Australian electorate will be prepared, after reading the financial pages of our newspapers outlining the skyrocketing profits of our major companies, to accept the Government’s suggestion that there ought to be a cut in real wages? It is an unrealistic suggestion to put to wage and salary earners. It already has been rejected by the 700 delegates who assembled at the Dallas Brooks Hall in Melbourne yesterday and today at the Australian Council of Trade Unions Congress.

The Prime Minister said- and he prided himself on this-that our competitiveness had improved so substantially that we were able to build naval craft in Australia, but he neglected to tell this House the sorry story about this Government closing down the Newcastle and Whyalla shipyards. The reason there are 50 young people for every job vacancy at Whyalla in South Australia is directly attributable to the decision by this Government to close down the Whyalla shipyard. That is why there is such high unemployment at Whyalla, but Mr Fraser made no mention -

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Millar)Order! I am reluctant to interrupt the honourable member. I am sure he does not intend any mischief but he is required by the Standing Orders to refer to the Prime Minister as such. Whilst we can perhaps tolerate references to the Fraser Government or the Whitlam Government as a method of identification, when the honourable member refers to the Prime Minister as an individual he should refer to him as the Prime Minister.


-The Prime Minister could have told us the truth about Newcastle and Whyalla. He found it convenient not to tell us. I do not blame him. His decision has allowed those cities to fall into a sick and sorry state. He said- and he prided himself on this-that we were able to attract more foreign investment than some other countries. No other country in the Western world is prepared to allow foreign investors to rape their country like this Government is prepared to let them rape Australia. There is no better example of this than the overriding of the Labor Government decision that 50 per cent of the ownership of the Ranger uranium mine should remain in Australian hands. This Government has now decided that that should be sold overseas. For $300m this Government will sell an asset worth in the vicinity of $8 billion. Why would a foreign investor not want to purchase it? The Deputy Prime Minister (Mr Anthony) says that Australia has had 57 submissions from people who would like to buy our share of the Ranger mine. The Japanese want to buy it, the Americans want to buy it, the French want to buy it, and the British want to buy it. But this Government has no pride. This Government should say that the share in Ranger should belong to Australia. There is no pride in this Government in saying: ‘What could we do with the assets from a site such as Ranger? What could we do with Australian ownership?’ Of course this Government will attract some foreign investors if it can reduce wages sufficiently, if it has very loose guidelines on the operation of foreign investment in this country and if it looks as though Australia is down on its knees- as this Government portrays its appearance to foreign investors. Of course it will attract more foreign investment than some other countries.

The Prime Minister had the audacity to blame some of our inflation problems on oil prices. Who in this country is responsible for the price of motor spirit in Australia? It is not the Arab states. It is not the members of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries. It is not any other group of countries. The decision was made directly by this Government. Australia produces over 90 per cent of its own requirements of motor spirit. In order to cook the books this Government decided on world parity for motor spirit. Everybody in Australia knows that it takes 60 per cent more fuel to fill up a car each week now than it did 14 months ago. It is no good the Prime Minister’s coming into the House and saying that international reasons are to blame for that. The decision was taken in Australia by the Fraser Administration to raise funds to try to get down the deficit and Australians should reject it as a superficial policy. I am sure that they will do so.

The Prime Minister then told us that the Leader of the Opposition is irresponsible in talking about the return of some form of Medibank. He said that in 1975 Medibank cost $600m. Why did Medibank cost so much in 1 975? Again, the Prime Minister found it convenient not to tell the people of Australia that his direction to his members in the Senate was to reject the Medibank levy. The original Bill establishing the Health Insurance Commission provided that every wage and salary earner would pay a levy of 1 !6 per cent of his salary or wage in order to maintain his health insurance. At the direction of the present Prime Minister the Senate rejected the clause incorporating the levy in the hope that it would destroy Medibank. We did not introduce Medibank in order that the Governent could raise funds. We did not introduce it because we wanted to be bigger in the health insurance field than some of the private insurers. We introduced Medibank because 1.25 million Australians had no health insurance. We were not going to allow the present Prime Minister and his cohorts in the Senate to destroy Medibank by taking the levy provision out of the Bill. The ultimate removal of the levy cost $600m or in the vicinity thereof and it was directly attributable to the actions of the Prime Minister.

The Prime Minister talked tonight of a 9 per cent inflation rate. He has great flexibility in his descriptions of inflation rates in Australia. Three weeks ago the Budget Papers told us that the inflation rate next year would be 1 0 per cent. The Prime Minister without any explanation has already reduced that rate by 1 per cent since the Budget Speech of the Treasurer just three weeks ago. It is less than a year since the Prime Minister of Australia told everybody in Australia that by the time in 1979 when the Budget was brought down the inflation rate would be 5 per cent. He told the Australian people that they could expect that inflation in the middle of 1979 would be 5 per cent. Where is the Prime Minister’s explanation of what happened to that promise? Where is his commitment to the truth in telling the people of Australia last year about the inflation rate? As I said, he has great flexibility in telling us about the inflation rate.

The Prime Minister said tonight that the Opposition ‘s arguments against the Budget were not real, that they were semantic. We have said that wage and salary earners should not be hoodwinked by the surcharge on taxation being taken off from 1 December. The Prime Minister tells us that there will be a great drop in income tax, that people will appreciate it and that we should not be so semantic. Neither the Prime Minister, the Treasurer nor anybody else sitting on the front bench of the government side of the Parliament can deny what both Mr Eric Risstrom and the economic spokesman for the Labor Party, the honourable member for Gellibrand (Mr Willis) have said. If a person on a salary of about $8,000 a year- that is what the majority of wage earners in this country receivegets the 9 per cent wage increase anticipated in the Budget he will be paying 28 per cent more tax in 1979-80. A massive increase in personal taxation is what comes out of this Budget. What a farce it is to go through all the Prime Minister’s rhetoric to get at the kernel of his argument about a drop in personal taxation. There is no drop. If the tax surcharge is taken off the taxation rates will only return to the rates that were applicable before this Government imposed the tax surcharge. There is no drop in the tax which is being paid by Australians. What the Prime Minister is doing to a certain extent is taking off the massive fine on wage and salary earners which he imposed 12 months ago. It was a temporary surcharge to be imposed for a few months. It has lasted 18 months. It will return to this Government about $900m from wage and salary earners. This is not a semantic argument. It is just that we on this side of the House like to speak the truth because we find it refreshing. I am sure that people outside the House also find it refreshing.

The Prime Minister talked as though we would have a competitive edge on all our competitors throughout the world because we have been able to reduce wages. There is no doubt- I will say more about this later- that the real wages of Australian workers have been reduced substantially, both by decisions of the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission and the application of indirect taxation. Be that as it may, how ridiculous it is to hear the rhetoric of the Prime Minister trying to persuade Australians that we will be able to compete with all the industries being established throughout South East Asia. How ridiculous it is even to believe that we know what decisions are being made by multinational companies as they set up their subsidiaries throughout the Asian region to compete with their sister companies operating in Australia. Multinational companies do not make decisions on the basis of what is in the best interests of Australia. They make decisions on what is in the best interests of their companies. If it happens to suit a company to set up in Taiwan, South Korea, the Philippines or anywhere else where it can persecute labour and get it as cheap as it possibly can it will do it and throw thousands of Australian workers on to the street. We need some honest statements from this Government about the problems we will face in the 1980s in a variety of industries. It is no good listening to the rhetoric of both the Prime Minister and the Minister for Industry and Commerce (Mr Lynch). We have to know what is achievable in Australia and what lies ahead.

The Prime Minister then referred to the decisions that the Labor Party made at its national conference. He said what a dreadful thing it was that the Labor Party was committed to two things. He said that the Labor Party was in favour of national superannuation. One would hardly be sent to the gas chambers for being in favour of national superannuation because the majority of people whom we represent do not have superannuation. We think it unfair that a substantial number of Australian people do not have superannuation. When they retire from employment they receive the old age pension, a payment which is in no way related to their standard of living when they were at work. The futility of this Government in not looking seriously at the question of national superannuation is being exploited by individual trade unions who are saying to their employers that one of the ways in which they will involve themselves in productivity gains is by setting up company trade union superannuation funds. I have said before and I will keep saying that there is no substitute for a national superannuation scheme. If it is good enough for the majority of white collar workers, if it is good enough for politicians and if it is good enough for the majority of Australians to have superannuation, it is good enough for everybody to have it. I would have been ashamed if the Labor Party at its conference in Adelaide had not adopted such a program as national superannuation. The sooner it is introduced the more justice we will have for all the people of this country.

The other thing about the Adelaide conference that disturbed the Prime Minister was the decision to establish a national newspaper. For a person like the Prime Minister who visits the Fairfax organisation, the Murdoch organisation and the Herald and Weekly Times organisation so regularly I can understand that he finds that disturbing. But we do not find it disturbing. We believe that the service already given on radio and television by the Australian Broadcasting Commission is basically acceptable to all Australians. If this service is given in the visual or audio form of radio and television why would not the Australian people be prepared to see an independent objective newspaper produced to rival and compete with the newspapers put out by private interests in this country. We can see during any political campaign how the proprietors of the newspapers in this country line up in support of their conservative counterparts in the Parliament. An American journalist once said of America that it has a two-party system and a one-party Press. The same situation is true of Australia. I think many people in Australia are fed up with the situation. It would be well worth exploring whether, in conjunction with the operations of the Australian Broadcasting Commission, we ought to have a national newspaper to do the same job and so compete with the newspapers of the private proprietors. If this was done, it would keep the private proprietors a lot more honest than they are at the moment.

The Prime Minister of course talked a lot about wages policy and said that the Opposition had no wage policy. Let me state quite categorically in relation to wages in this country, as the Prime Minister wants a very simple explanation, that since 1953 the Australian Labor Party and the Australian Council of Trade Unions have supported cost of living flow on or indexation, if honourable members like to call it that. There has been no break in our policy since 1 953. At the 1979 conference of the Labor Party, we reaffirmed our policy by saying that, if one wants to come to terms with the work force of this country, if one wants to minimise industrial disputation, the government’s position on wages must be clear. The Opposition’s position on wages is clear. We would go to the Arbitration Commission and say that we support the flow on of the cost of living increases which have taken place in the preceding quarter. That is not difficult to explain. One would think that someone even as thick as the Prime Minister would understand it. But he wants it another way; he wants quite the opposite.

Not only did he say in 1975 that his Party would support indexation but also did he send a couple of his Ministers to the indexation inquiry a fortnight ago- and what a package they took to the inquiry. What a lot of dopes the wage earners of Australia would have to be to accept such a proposition. The Prime Minister said that, if the wage earners of Australia are prepared to discount all government charges as they exist in the cost of living, the Government would support six-monthly flow ons of the cost of living and a productivity case in 1980. There has been no productivity case since 1973-74, so any increase in production in Australia- it has been quite substantial in that period- has not been shared by wage and salary earners. That was the Government’s first argument.

As its second argument, fancy the Government having the audacity to go to the indexation inquiry and to say to the trade union movement of this country that it can have the cost of living increases passed on every six months but not including health insurance charges or the increases in petrol. In this financial year those two issues are likely to make up approximately 4 per cent of the total cost of living increases. For the trade union movement to accept that argument it would have to say: ‘Inflation is going up by 10 per cent, but if you give us something like a 5.5 per cent increase in wages we will be really happy. Congratulations to the Prime Minister for thinking up such a splendid idea’. That is totally unacceptable to the wage and salary earners of this country. The Government ought to have realised this fact before it put that futile proposition to the wage and salary earners of this country at the indexation inquiry.

I now refer to the Prime Minister’s comments about South Australia. He told us that South Australia is looking down the barrel because we are not going to exploit Roxby Downs. As I said in a personal explanation after Question Time today, the feasibility study on Roxby Downs will be completed in 1982 by Western Mining Corporation Ltd. That company is not sure what is involved in Roxby Downs. But be that as it may, the whole furore over Roxby Downs is perhaps that we will not mine uranium. The people of South Australia are not in accord with the views being expressed by Sir Charles Court in his talks with the Prime Minister, or with Joh BjelkePetersen in his talks with the Prime Minister about the establishment of enrichment plants and as a probable follow-up the establishment of nuclear power stations in Australia. The Opposition does not believe international safeguards are there for us to say responsibly that those sorts of things can occur. The Corcoran Government stands by that decision.

What a ridiculous argument the Prime Minister uses in terms of what should happen and what is not happening in South Australia. We have the unfortunate feature of the work force in Australia that for every job vacancy there are 25 people out of work. Under this Government, we have seen unemployment grow by 150,000. Next to Italy, Australia has the highest youth unemployment. Last Sunday, the Minister for Employment and Youth Affairs (Mr Viner) and the Prime Minister put out statements saying that things were dreadful in South Australia. Let me remind members opposite that there are more young people out of work in the Minister’s electorate of Stirling for every job vacancy than in South Australia. His home State of Western Australia, which he never seems to comment upon, has double the national average of numbers unemployed to every job vacancy. The problem of unemployment is not a South Australian problem; the unemployment problem is one for all Australia. I quote from an excellent document which has been prepared by the Catholic bishops, because if I said it, the idiot son of the Establishment, Mr Baillieu, would say that it was not true -

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr MillarOrder! I think the honourable member for Port Adelaide should withdraw that reflection.


– I withdraw it. This is an excellent document entitled Beyond Unemployment which I recommend to every member of this Parliament. It is a statement on human labour prepared by the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace for the Catholic bishops of Australia. I do not think the Catholic bishops of Australia could be described as a gang of radicals trying to upset equilibrium in the Australian economy. They now tell us- perhaps if we had had more brains we could have thought of the comment ourselves- that if all the unemployed people of Australia were put in one spot it would be the sixth largest city in Australia. The sixth largest city in Australia would be the place whose population would equate the number of unemployed. That is something for this Government to be really proud of. When this Government came to power, there were 230,000 people out of work. In May 1979, 394,000 people were out of work according to the figures being used. In the ratio of vacancies to unemployed, there were 1 8 people out of work for every job vacancy. That figure is now even higher.

The work done by the bishops and the Catholic Church goes further. It shows that the burden of unemployment is not being shared equally by people throughout Australia. If one looks at the suburbs of high unemployment, one finds that the working people are carrying the greatest share of the burden. In the Sydney area in Hornsby, the unemployment rate per job vacancy is 1.69 per cent. In Mount Druitt the figure is 1 3.46 per cent. In Melbourne, in the suburb of Waverley, the figure is 2.45 per cent. In the suburb of Sunshine the figure is 9.37 per cent. In the Brisbane suburbs, the figure is 12.63 per cent at Inala and at Indooroopilly the figure is 4.64 per cent. In the Adelaide suburbs the figure is 13.7 per cent at Elizabeth and 5.3 per cent at Unley. In the Perth suburb of Girrawheen the figure is 13.3 per cent and in Claremont the figure is 6.6 per cent. From the figures we can see that the problem of unemployment is one that is spreading all over Australia. Yet this miserable government, in the hope that it might attract a few votes in South Australia next Saturday, says that the problem of South Australia is within the borders of South Australia.

How ridiculous that statement is because in this document the bishops also point out that the indiscriminate use of the investment allowance, which costs this Government hundreds of millions of dollars, has put people out of work because it has allowed companies to introduce new technology which they did not need for years. New technology bought with taxpayers money, might have helped these companies make more profits, but it has put thousands of people out of work in Australia. Yet the Prime Minister said that unemployment dropped 12,000 last month. We have 400,000 unemployed. Try with a row boat to save 400,000 people from drowning. That is what the Prime Minister is trying to do. It is an absolutely disgraceful situation. The blame can be laid at only one door; that of the Prime Minister of Australia. In this Budget the biggest cut in any program was the 69 per cent cut in the Special Youth Employment Training Program. By the Government’s own figures, 45,000 young people under 24 years of age are to be denied employment because of this 69 per cent, or over $50m, cut in the Special Youth Employment Training Program. This Budget is a hoax. We are going to have higher inflation and higher unemployment. The sooner the Government goes to the polls so that the people of Australia can kick it out, the better. We need a government that is concerned about people, not profits.


-The Budget presented by the Treasurer (Mr Howard) on 2 1 August is an economically responsible document. It continues the Government’s uncompromising attack on inflation and is designed to overcome the difficulties which have bedevilled the Australian economy for so long. I agree with the Treasurer that the Budget debate is an occasion not only to review the course of the economy but also to assess prospects and problems for the year ahead. Today I wish to draw to the attention of the House and the Government a serious problem which has faced us for some time and yet has remained unresolved. It is a problem that the Treasurer should understand. It is the problem of how to make ends meet when you are taxed unfairly and provided with precious little assistance towards the cost of maintaining those dependent upon us. Many of the questions I have asked in this House and many of the speeches I have made have demonstrated my deep concern for the well-being of Australia’s families and of the children in their care. I have called for a national family policy; I have urged the use of family impact statements; I have called for increased family allowances; and I have advocated tax reform in the interests of families. Members will therefore not be surprised that I am using this opportunity tonight to call upon the Government to relieve the desperate plight of many hundreds of thousands of families with dependent children, especially those with only a single income.

Canberra government is remote. To the majority of people it seems, and often is, removed from the day-to-day problems of Australian families. The unique responsibility of a back bench member of this Parliament is, according to the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser), to bring to Canberra the concerns, hopes and aspirations of our fellow Australians. In a recent electorate talk he reaffirmed, firstly, his view that the Cabinet has no mortgage on wisdom and, secondly, his insistence on the need for an effective government members’ committee system. He said: ‘It is through this system that all those who support the Government are able to contribute to the central decision-making process of government’. I have been chairman of a working party set up by one of these committees. The task we were given was to examine proposals for the reform of income tax and income support schemes now operating in this country. Our work has been comprehensive and thorough. We have identified the principles we have thought should be followed and we have formulated very detailed proposals for the consideration of the Government. My colleagues and I were pleased recently to receive the assurance of the Treasurer- a public assurance- that the proposals of the working party for overcoming the tax disadvantage of single income families would continue to receive very close study by the Government. I hope that it will give similar attention to a number of other important proposals including those which, if accepted, will result in increased family allowances and the abolition of the pension income test.

Tonight I want to concentrate on a matter that the Treasurer is studying. In summary, it is the proposal that spouses should be allowed, if they wish, to split their incomes for tax purposes and be taxed as if they were in a partnership under which the income is shared equally. It is a proposal which has wide support. When its general concept was reported in the Press I received letters of support from all parts of Australia. There is a steady stream of favourable comment on radio talkback programs and in letters to the editors of newspapers. A recent gallup poll showed that 64 per cent of the Australian community favoured the proposal. Over recent months I have often been asked: How can it be achieved without costing the Government more than it can afford and without increased taxation for many? Tonight I will explain how it can be done without raising anyone’s tax, or by increasing only the tax payable by those on high incomes who are now paying less than their fair share. So that concerned members of the public can analyse the proposal I must give some technical details. I therefore apologise to those who enjoy the more entertaining type of speech on the Budget.

This proposal was formulated because of our concern for Australia’s families. The problem of family income support for children should not be confused with the relief of absolute poverty. Although there has been an undeniable increase in living standards for every Australian, a disproportionate part of that increase has accrued to households without children. The relative position of families with children, especially those with only one income, compared with other households, is worse today than it has been for a long time. The introduction of the family allowances and the tax changes in 1 975-76 were positive steps in the right direction. But except for these moves the erosion of public support for families has continued for at least two decades. Their position is continuing to deteriorate rapidly. As a country we lag behind many others in family policies and family income support. The financial pressures facing families are insufficiently recognised. For many the situation is now desperate. The need for action is urgent. Reform is a necessity. If we are to give families the support they need we must establish the goals we wish to pursue. Then we must take bold, imaginative and inovative steps to achieve them.

Welfare politics in Australia today is currently dominated by powerful lobby groups representing the interests of the aged, the invalid and the veteran. Likewise, tax politics is dominated by powerful groups which seem to care more for general tax reduction than the attainment of a fairer and more equitable tax system. This insensitivity to fairness and equity is perhaps due to the fact that many of their supporters are able to minimise their tax liability under the present system. Family lobby groups must become more influential and press more strongly the interests of the family, so that tax and social security policies are reformed. The aim of these policies should be to ensure that the standard of living of a family with children compares favourably, or at least not intolerably badly with a family with no dependent children or with that of a single income man or woman. Until now, the Australian system of taxation and social security has had comparatively little effect on levelling out the fluctuations in income requirements associated with an individual ‘s family life cycle. For some time the principle of social justice has not been explicitly recognised in the Australian wage system. In 1 974, the President of the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission made it quite clear that the Commission does not see itself as a social welfare agency. He also declared that it was the Commission’s view that ‘the care of family needs is principally a task for governments’. Notwithstanding this clear statement, governments, both Liberal and Labor, have gone on pretending to themselves and to the public that a breadwinner’s wage is adequate, firstly, to keep a family with children above some ill-defined poverty line and, secondly, to enable it to cope with the increasingly expensive task of giving children a fair start in life.

Our tax and social security systems must not be used only to safeguard individuals and families against unpredictable and catastrophic loss of income or to enable the chronically disadvantaged to maintain a decent standard of living; they must also be used to assist individuals and families to redistribute their lifetime income from the peaks of relative affluence to those periods of relative poverty which are today putting families under so much stress. It is only by considering the systems of taxation and social security together that rational and equitable results can be achieved. So long as the two systems are separate and one is based on the individual and the other on the family unit, no patching up will be successful and our income support arrangements will be more costly than they should be and our taxation system will remain unfair.

The present tax and social security system contains many serious inequities and mean anomalies. They are too numerous for me to mention tonight. To overcome them we must harmonise and where possible integrate the two systems. The first essential step is to use a common unit of assessment for determining tax liability and entitlement to cash payments. The unit we adopt should be one which takes into account the situation of those who pay, those who receive and many who do both, not only as individuals but also as members of families or households. This we should do because the welfare of any individual is a function not so much of his own income but of the combined income of the family or household of which he or she is a member.

The major problem of our present system of taxation is that families of the same composition and total income are required to pay substantially different amounts in tax. At present, a family’s tax liability is not assessed according to taxable capacity. It is largely determined by the proportions in which each spouse earns the family income. Two-income families pay much less tax than the family in which one spouse is the only breadwinner. For example, single-income families with incomes under $16,608 pay $707 a year or $13.60 a week more in tax than twoincome families with the same family income. Where the household income rises that tax advantage in favour of the two-income family rises to $60 a week. Families paying the top rate of tax, if they can split their income, can save up to $7,500 a year. The present tax system is one of the chief causes of relative poverty and even hardship experienced by the majority of families with children. It takes insufficient account of family commitments. It regards most expenditure of a dependent spouse and dependent children as a way in which taxpayers choose to enjoy their after-tax income and not as a measure of the increased needs of the family or its reduced taxable capacity. It does not treat families alike. Surely the taxation system should be neutral, unless special tax incentives are intentionally being used to influence people in the way they behave. A family should be taxed according to its ability to pay. The proportion in which the income is received by one or both of its breadwinners should be largely irrelevant.

The Treasurer himself has stated publicly that the present taxation system falls far short of the objectives of equity. Although I know he would like to, apart from a few band-aid cures, economic conditions so far have not yet enabled him to tackle the major causes of taxpayer revolt. It is wrong that tax cuts should be available to those who can arrange their affairs so that they can split their family income but denied to those who cannot or choose not to do so. In spite of the glaring inequities of the present system there are many defenders of the status quo. They may press for tax cuts across the board, thinking that that will help. Tax cuts given in this way will not provide the answer to the problem facing family taxpayers. It is essential that any future reductions in the community’s income tax burden should be the result of tax reform rather than across-the-board tax cuts. In this year’s Budget the Government decided to reduce rates of tax by abolishing the 1.5 per cent surcharge from 1 December. Whether to abolish the surcharge or to restore indexation or to reform the tax structure involved a political decision.

I must say that had it been my decision I would have made the bold, imaginative, and in some respects tough decision to bring equity back into the tax system. The Budget outcome would have been the same. The deficit would have been as proposed by the Treasurer but the structure of the tax system would have been altered. Spouses would have been allowed, if they wished, to split their incomes for tax purposes. The desired overall level of income tax collections would have been achieved by sensibly reviewing and appropriately adjusting tax thresholds and tax rates. The special position of taxpayers who live alone and that of sole parents would have been recognised.

Had such a reformed taxation system operated from 1 December, the standard rate of tax could have been reduced to the level proposed in the Budget and the tax-free income available to taxpayers with dependent spouses and those living alone could have been raised to the level that would have applied had those levels been indexed. Substantial tax cuts would have benefited those taxpayers whose needs are greatest and those whose taxpaying capacity is now heavily overburdened. Some taxpayers, mainly those in the higher income brackets, would have been liable for increased taxation. This would have been necessary on grounds of fairness and would have resulted in two-income families paying the same proportion of their incomes in tax as singleincome families.

Because there are many who are reluctant to embrace a reform which has an adverse paypacket effects on some taxpayers even though it would give substantial tax cuts to the deserving, consideration of the proposed reform was deferred. In view of this reluctance there appears little chance of these far-reaching and just reforms being introduced in one move. But optional family income splitting could be phased in. This must now be done and it must be done before general indexation is restored, lt should be well known to all that I am a strong advocate of the principle of tax indexation. It imposes a valuable discipline on governments. It keeps them honest, it requires them to legislate for tax increases and prevents them from using inflation as a substitute. But the introduction of indexation in 1976 was premature and it was an outmoded and inequitable tax system inherited from the previous government, that was indexed. As a result, reform has been retarded; but now that indexation has been suspended, let us keep it that way until we have a tax system that is fair to all taxpayers and seen to be fair by them all; otherwise, tax minimisation will and should become the proper concern of every family. There are no grounds on which those who put their family’s interests first in this way can be called tax avoiders, except perhaps by those who are blind to the inequities of the present tax system.

In phasing in reform, we should have two aims: Firstly to reform the tax scales in such a way that no taxpayer pays more tax on the same money income that he does under the present tax scales, and secondly to reduce progressively the proportion of income paid by single-income families by way of tax until it matches the proportion which is now paid by two-income families with the same household income. These two objectives can be achieved by the selective reintroduction of indexation. At first, indexation should be applied only to the assessment of tax payable by families who are disadvantaged by the present tax law, sole parents and taxpayers living alone. Selective indexation should continue for a new optional family tax scale until it places single-income families in the same position as two-income households who split their incomes under the present arrangements. Taxpayers living alone should have a tax free income 20 per cent higher than that which is now the standard tax threshold and sole parents should have a threshold 40 per cent higher than the standard threshold.

The phasing in of these reforms would be facilitated by the introduction of a new optional family tax scale. Under it, spouses, if they consider it to be to their advantage, would be given the option of being taxed on a notional partnership basis. At the present time, the per capita income of a taxpayer and his dependent spouse which is tax-free, is $2,837 compared with $3,893 per capita for members of a family splitting their income. At current inflation rates, indexation on the optional family tax scale without interruption since the last adjustment would mean that, within three years, the amount of taxfree income available to all families would be unaffected by the proportions in which the spouses earn the family income.

Within this period also, those living alone and those who are sole parents would have a tax-free income in the correct relationship. As the thresholds in the new family income tax scale rose as a consequence of indexation, at first 1 V4 million single income households would receive substantial tax cuts and later more would do so. The benefit would go first to those who are low income families and their gain would be proportionately greatest. However, if the Government were to index the tax scales it could accelerate the rate at which the new family tax system was brought into operation, or it could use that revenue to increase substantially and maintain the real value of family allowances. Only when reforms of this kind have been adopted will families be given a chance of having a fair go.

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

Melbourne Ports

– This Budget is a practical extension of the politics of deceit which has been traditionally practised by this Government. Nobody in Australia believes that this Budget will lead to economic recovery or that it will solve the problems of inflation or unemployment in either the short term or the long term. We do know, and it is clearly demonstrable from the Budget documents of the Treasurer (Mr Howard) and his supplementary statements, that he expects inflation to get worse. He will not deny the probability that interest rates will rise before Christmas, and even the most stern apologists for this Government admit that currently within Australia some 410,000 people are registered with the Commonwealth Employment Service as seeking jobs. If one adds the figure indicated in the Norgard reportnamely, that 30 per cent of the unemployed do not register with the CES- then hidden unemployment in Australia means that as a result of four years of occupation of the treasury benches by this Government we are now looking at more Australians out of work than the peak of 477,000 which was reached during the Great Depression in 1933.

The fact that the unemployed receive their benefits through the post has eliminated the dole queue, but it has not eliminated the anguish and the suffering of hundreds of thousands of decent Australians who simply want a job, or the plight of those thousands of families whose breadwinners are unemployed, who live below the poverty line and whose suffering prompted a significant and important statement by the Catholic bishops of Australia. The compassion which was shown in that statement was certainly not echoed, or even acknowledged, by the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) in his statement to the House today. The fact is that the Prime Minister and his colleagues, who told the people of Australia over four years ago that running the economy was really as simple as turning on the lights, now find themselves, after four years in government and with a majority in both Houses- the longest uninterrupted period in office of any government since the Menzies Government- with the greatest level of unemployment since the Depression. This cowboy Prime Minister, with his penchant for fast cars and his very own jet aeroplane, is leading Australia into the great depression of the 1980s. Whilst it is undoubtedly true that unemployment is currently a world-wide phenomenon bedevilling all Western based capitalist economies, on world standards Australia’s unemployment level is amongst the highest of those countries with our level of wealth and industrial development.

In his Budget statement today the Prime Minister not only failed to provide the answers but also indicated a monumental incapacity even to ask the right questions. He just reeled out the same tired old rhetoric. All that has changed in this, his fourth year in office, is the major argument. On the occasion of this Budget, whom do we blame? We do not blame this Government! We blame the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries and the declining state of the world economy! I am bound to say that the Prime Minister did not abandon altogether all of his past arguments. It is at least a step forward to see that not even the Prime Minister, or any other member of the Government, so far has tried to advance the dole bludger myth, which of course was part of the general level of propaganda under which they came into office- the view that if people are unemployed it is their own fault. Not even members of this Government are prepared to argue, in the face of existing statistics, that that is the case. However, in the Treasurer’s statement we did see the other proposition not completely abandoned by this Government; that is, that wage increases and union demands are the cause of unemployment, or, to put it simply, one man’s wage increase is another man’s job. This argument ignores the fact that most of the wage claims of 1974 were to catch up to prices that had already risen If this thesis had any merit, how is it that by mid- 1978, when real wage overhand had almost entirely disappeared, the labour market continued to deteriorate?

Then, of course, there is the Fraser thesis that it is really the private sector versus the public sector. In 1975 the Prime Minister promised that he would restore full employment by the simple process of cutting back on government spending which he claimed would release resources to the private sector, which in turn would use them to create employment opportunities. Since 1975 private sector unemployment has grown more than that of the public sector. Manufacturing, which is conducted almost entirely by the private sector, saw 155,200 become jobless between 1974 and February 1977.

Finally, when all else has failed we still have the exercise which continues on a daily basis in this Parliament- that of rigging the statistics. This Government has continually tried to juggle the figures on unemployment and to time the release of statistics so as to minimise community awareness of the extent and nature of unemployment. With all the resources that are available to this Parliament and this Government, it is incredible to see from the debates that have taken place thus far that honourable members on both sides of the House are still arguing about the figures. I would have thought that any government which was concerned about unemployment could at least produce a set of statistics which was beyond argument. This Government has not been concerned to do that. This Government has been concerned to minimise and stack the figures so that the people of Australia will not realise the true dimension of unemployment.

I think that it is true, and that this Parliament has to face the fact, that the great world boom period of the 1 960s is finished and that it is true that Australia is not merely into a period of cyclic recession. The great advance in technology- the computer revolution- means that whole areas of traditional training in white collar employment are rapidly becoming redundant. This is occurring at “a time when no meaningful policy of manpower training, or even significant worker education, is emerging from within the ranks of this Government. Equally it is occurring at a time when Australia’s economic development is increasingly being dominated by the operation of transnational companies whose size, economic strength, ownership of technology and resources give them more naked economic power than that of many nation states, with a capacity not merely to dominate the market place but also to destroy the myth of the freedom of the market place- a myth much beloved by this Prime Minister and this Treasurer.

There is increasing evidence that these companies, which are forming such a large and significant factor in determining the fate of the Australian economy, are involved in transferring manufacturing capacity from high wage countries to low wage areas in Asia, not merely with a subsequent loss of employment opportunities but more importantly with a sacrifice of work experience and traditional skills. This process is only beginning in Australia, but it has played a significant part in unemployment statistics in the United States. I found it to be something almost bordering on the unbelievable that the Prime Minister of Australia could get up in this Parliament today and seek to belittle a decision of a Labor Party conference which adopted the policy that the Labor Party in office would monitor, check and make available to the government of the day, information about the nature, extent and control of our economy by transnational corporations. To the Prime Minister that was an incomprehensible suggestion. What is incomprehensible is that the Prime Minister who does have some responsibilities in this matter is unaware that the OECD countries after two years of very substantial negotiations, research, monitoring and information gathering, have in the course of only the last few weeks reached agreement and produced a code of conduct to monitor the activities of transnational companies operating in Europe.

It is extraordinary that the Prime Minister in belittling and demeaning Labor Party policy that these activities ought to be investigated and subject to report, should have made the statements that he did. He did so in ignorance of the fact that in 1973, in the home of private enterprise, the United States of America, the Congressional Senate Finance Committee examined this problem: The implications of the multinational firm for world trade and investment for United States trade and labour.

Mr Baillieu:

-What did they find?


-Well, they found some very interesting facts.

Mr Baillieu:

– Tell us.


– I shall. It might enlighten the honourable gentleman. Testimony was given to that Committee and I will give the honourable gentleman the reference. The American Federation of Labour-Congress of Industrial Organisations testified that between 1966 and 1971 American-based multinationals transferred over 900,000 jobs based on union wage rates in the United States to low wage areas in Asia. No one can say that that would not have a significant impact on a country the size of the United States. If American-based companies are prepared to do that in their own community, then we in Australia ought to be having some regard to the impact that they may have in our own community. This was part of the evidence given by George Meany. No one could accuse Meany of being a young radical. As a spokesman for the AFL-CIO he said:

The transfer of production overseas is making the United States a nation of hamburger stands- a country stripped of industrial capacity and meaningful work … a service economy … a nation of citizens busily buying and selling cheeseburgers and root beer floats.

On behalf of the AFL-CIO he went on to name the companies. He went on to name the jobs and the technology that was being exported from the United States to low wage areas in Asia. Confronted with that evidence, plus the fact that the United Nations itself has had for some years, as part of its permanent operations, a standing committee examining and reporting on proper codes of conduct in the operation of transnational corporations, is it not an action of political and industrial responsibility for any political party to say that any government that cares about the future control of its own economy ought to be monitoring those actions? That is all that the Labor Party did and it was the subject of very strong condemnation from the Prime Minister with his narrow, Tory-tunnel vision. The Prime Minister and the Government would reject that proposition out of hand.

The Government has chosen to play the role of the economic Quisling in the Australian society. As far as it is concerned, any transnational company that is prepared to wave a fistfull of dollars in the face of this Prime Minister can buy whatever it wants. It can develop and abuse the resources of this country in any way it likes. I believe that it is time that the Governments role in our economy, and the capacity not only of the Government but also of this Parliament to play some meaningful role in the future development of our economy, were closely assessed.

Like other members of the Opposition, I reject this Budget. We are talking about this nation’s most important resource. I have heard the Prime Minister talk about our mineral and agricultural resources, but I want to place on record that in my view our most important resource is the Australian people. The present Prime Minister not only accepts the highest unemployment figure in the history of this country, but also is prepared to make that a permanent feature of the Australian society whether one likes it or not. If one looks at the Budget documents and what the Budget is doing to Australian society one can reach the conclusion only that this Budget lays the foundation for the great depression of the 1980s. A generation of young Australians are to be sacrificed to meet the odd economic theories of the Prime Minister.

The community must ask itself and we in this Parliament must ask ourselves whether any nation can survive with the human wastage that is involved in over 500,000 people being unemployed. That is the one issue that the Prime Minister and the Government have not faced up to in this Budget debate. One may talk about tax dodgers and unions, but the real question has not been answered: What is this Government’s policy to tackle and reduce the problem of unemployment? To take it further, I say that the community must ask itself and we in this Parliament must ask ourselves very seriously whether we have to try to mould our people to meet the needs of the economic system or whether, with the great resources and wealth of this nation, we are prepared to restructure the economic system to develop this nation’s most precious resourceits people.

Given the problems of the cyclic recession, given the downturn right throughout the western world, given the advent of technology and given the increasing domination of our own economy by transnational corporations which have shown that their major duty is to multiply their profitsthey do not operate with any sense of national duty to this Government or to this nation and this has been the experience that has been monitored and on which there is a pile of evidence- I do not believe that this Budget or this Government can wrestle with the problem of unemployment and can look at getting our people back to meaningful and useful jobs unless there is by government a massive intervention in the economy. The view that the economy will regulate itself by leaving it to the free play of market forces in this day and age is economic nonsense. I say to this House that we ought to reject this Budget. We ought to reject the permanent dole mentality which is the underlying thesis of the Budget and we ought to reject the politics of deceit which has been perpetrated on the people of this country and on this Parliament by the Prime Minister.

Northern Territory

– I rise to support the Budget and to support it strongly. In doing so might I quote from the Australian Financial Review of the day after the Budget. It said:

The thrust of the Budget is to keep maximum downward pressure on inflation, without depressing economic growth. Business is being given a chance so that it, not centrally directed Government spending -

As people in the Labor Party would have it- can decide priorities and deliver performance.

It was stated by that newspaper to be a ‘businessman’s Budget’. We have heard the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Hayden) and some of his running dogs, as one might call them, call the Budget a shocker. They have mouthed such phrases continually. The Leader of the Opposition has produced no alternative overall policy. He has continued his attack on the economy, which he has been trying to talk down consistently as have his colleagues. Why should this Budget not be a businessman’s Budget? Where do the jobs come from? They do not come from the social services field; they are false jobs. People want proper employment. Where does the strength of the economy come from? It comes from business, both small and large. Why would we not have a businessman’s Budget? Current Labor economic policy appears to be similar to its disastrous policies of 1973, 1974 and 1975 which brought Australia to its knees financially. We have been trying to recover the situation ever since. The Labor Government more than doubled employment in two years.

Mr Baillieu:

– Unemployment.


-Unemployment; I thank the honourable member. Labor certainly has never done anything about employment. Yet the Leader of the Opposition is proposing blatantly to increase the domestic deficit, with all that that entails. That is his proposal, despite the fine words he uttered in 1975. He said:

On the economic front, inflation is this nation ‘s most menacing enemy. We -

That is, the Labor Party in those days- aim to curb it. Unless this aim is achieved, the nation’s productive capacity will diminish. Our present level of unemployment -

The Labor Government doubled unemployment in two years- is too high. If we fail to control inflation, unemployment will get worse.

Labor’s policies today are aimed at increasing inflation. Therefore, they will increase unemployment. Despite these words uttered by the then Treasurer, the present Leader of the Opposition, he says that he will increase the deficit. So he proposes once again to embark on those disastrous policies which I mentioned earlier and which would bring Australia to its knees. Labor’s policy is for ‘an expanded interventionist role by government and a responsible development of the public sector to satisfy social needs and to provide employment’. Here we have mention of this false employment once again.

I wish now to refer to a few of the comments made by the former United Kingdom Chancellor of the Exchequer, Mr Denis Healey. In 1978, he stated:

  1. . it remains as true as ever that inflation is the main enemy of full employment.

What are the President of the Australian Council of Trade Unions and Labor Party policy saying today? They are completely opposed to this Government’s policies which are aimed at reducing inflation. The former Chancellor of the Exchequer of the Labour Government in England went on to say:

But we cannot expect to see the rate of unemployment moving down at an acceptable speed unless we can create new jobs particularly in profitable firms in manufacturing industry and so strengthen the industrial base on which our whole economy depends.

He went on to make a comment which is contrary to the attitude of the Labor Party in this country. He said:

I have no doubt that for us in Britain, as for most of our partners, the defeat of inflation must remain the highest priority if we wish to reduce unemployment.

Yet this Government is criticised again and again by the screaming howlers on the Labor side about our having a policy which is aimed at reducing inflation. But the two matters are tied together. So it seems that they have missed the bus and that they will continue to do so in the vain hope of picking up votes.

We are all very much aware these days of the word ‘employment’ and we are certainly aware that some people cannot find jobs. But we have seen implemented before today Labor’s public sector employment policy. Why does the Labor Party still have that policy? It is because the aim of the Labor Party, the socialists, is to stifle private enterprise. That is whence real employment flows. Constant cries have been heard from Labor Party Speakers and from their leaders in an endeavour to convince the public that the economy is not on the road to recovery. That is dead wrong. We are constantly hammered by cries of ‘lies’, ‘broken promises’ and the like. I hope that all Australians realise that that is a conscious campaign mainly of vilification by the Labor Party of Ministers and of the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser). The Labor Party has engaged in that campaign of vilification because it has no policy of its own and it sees that the only way in which it can try to pull down this Government is by means of personal abuse and its hollow cries of ‘broken promises’ and ‘lies’. We promised to reduce inflation.

Mr Bryant:

– Have you done that?


-We have reduced it from 17 per cent, which is the level it reached under the Labor Government, to less than 9 per cent at the present time. This policy of reducing inflation in Australia has given this country an edge in overseas markets. Only the other day we heard the Minister for Trade and Resources (Mr Anthony) speak about aluminium smelter projects which will employ some 5,000 people and increase the income from that industry from $80m to approximately $ 1 ,000m.

Mr Bryant:

– Who is going to get the $ 1 ,000m? Not the workers, I bet.


– Of course the workers will benefit, but the point is that they will benefit only if they work. We see in the Budget Papers that a contract worth $70m has been let to Vickers

Cockatoo Dockyard Pty Ltd to build a replacement vessel for the Royal Australian Navy. Competitive costs enabled that Australian firm to win the contract. I would like the honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant) to note that I am commending the unions concerned for their assurance of support in maintaining good industrial relations at Vickers Cockatoo Dockyard and their offer to assist the company in recruiting expert staff in order that that naval vessel can be completed at the earliest opportunity. That is the sort of attitude that should be espoused by the Labor Party and by the ACTU, as well as all the cockatoos and screamers who are trying to talk down the economy and to give the lie to the fact that Australia is well on the way to recovering economically. This Budget sets the stage for giving Australia a lead in world economic recovery. In a recent edition of the Christian Science Monitor this comment appeared:

It is hard to be pessimistic about Australia’s economic future.

Of course, it is hard to be pessimistic about Australia’s economic future. It must be getting increasingly hard for the Leader of the Labor Party and its supporters to keep on talking down Australia, talking down the economy and talking down the development of this great nation. That is particularly so in view of what the Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr Anthony) have told us in this House. Only today the Prime Minister said that the expansion of aluminium projects would involve the expenditure of $4 billion, while expansion in the coal industry would involve the expenditure of $2 billion.

Therefore, I ask the question: Where is Australia going? The Opposition is crying out that the national economy is failing. Its cry has been parroted by some of the media. Why are they not interested in the future of this great land, this well endowed nation? I just do not know the answer to that question. What are they trying to do? Why do they not live somewhere else? Why do they not live in the countries which they praise? If Australia is worth living in, it certainly is worth fighting for in every way. In the light of these constant and often quite erroneous attacks the future of the nation could be viewed with unease by overseas companies which are willing to invest in developmental projects of the size and type which I have mentioned.

I come back to a matter about which we have heard all day and, for that matter, for some days. Why does not the Labor Government in South Australia get on with the Olympic Lake project? It has dogmatically refused to have anything to do with uranium and, although a mint of copper and gold happens to be tied up in the Roxby Downs project, it is not to go ahead. The South Australian Labor Government says that the project is being looked at and so on, but that is just one instance of where Labor could get in behind private enterprise and help employment and help the whole economic situation. Apparently Roxby Downs is one of the major mineral deposits in the world.

It is time for a strengthening of Australia’s national spirit. We as a nation should be taking stock and deciding where we are going. Are the people, from top to bottom, prepared to snap out of it, to decide whether this country is what it was in days gone by; whether it is what we fought for- the honourable member for Wills, who is just leaving, would know what I am talking about- and whether it is the place that we would all hope it would be? We have the assets. An era of prosperity is about to begin for all Australians. The honourable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr Holding) said that an era of depression is about to descend upon us. I do not think that he is correct. But such an era of prosperity requires an awareness by us and a willingness for us all to be in it. For those who sit back and reckon that Australia and the world in general owe them a living it is time to start rethinking, to start considering employment.

Why do we continually have a rush of figures being produced to mislead everyone as to Australia’s future? I do not know. But it certainly is worth picking up the ball and running with it because we certainly have the ball right at our feet now. So why do the Labor leaders and others continue on this course? Why do we have consistent leaks of policy matters and other important affairs? Surely all those people who do those things are working against their own country. They should be trying to make this country, our country, a leader, a strong nation financially so that we can serve ourselves and all the people whom the Labor Party screams about- the aged, the unemployed or whomever. We would also be able to serve those in our own area, our Association of South East Asian Nations neighbours, for instance and those people in distress overseas. But we cannot do all these things that we should be doing unless our economy is in a very sound and strong condition. Of course we should also be strong militarily. The youth of Australia should realise that they have to do something about their own country. I do not mean that they should shoulder arms and go marching into the desert or the swamps or whatever, but they should realise that they have to serve their country, whether they serve in the Forces or whether they serve their next door neighbour. That is what they should be all about and that is why I am saying we should now be looking to see which way we are going.

As I said before, Australia should be able to assist our near neighbours. This Budget leads the way with its incentives and with its attack on inflation, which is the key to unemployment. But this approach needs national team work. The Australian Council of Trade Unions made a statement regarding the construction of the Durance class naval vessel at the Vickers Cockatoo dockyard. I applaud that action and I only hope that the ACTU sticks with it. I urge Australia and all Australians to decide where they are going, where this nation is. It is becoming more and more obvious, with the way things are heading around the world right now, especially across the Indian Ocean, that we may be on our own before many years have passed. We should realise this and grasp the opportunities which now, at this time, are ours. They may not be ours in a few years to come.

I support this Budget. Before I resume my seat, I would like to say something about the remarks of Labor members. I point out to the honourable member for Port Adelaide (Mr Young), who was screaming about unemployment, that unemployment more than doubled in just over two years, between 1973 and 1975. What happened to inflation during the Labor Party’s term of office? As I said before, inflation rose from just under 5 per cent to 17 per cent. As we heard from Mr Denis Healey, inflation is the great enemy of employment. During Labor’s nationally criminal reign, 1973-75, that is how inflation rose. From 1976 to 1979 inflation was reduced from 17 per cent to less than 9 per cent. Instead of inflation being 5 per cent over the OECD figure, the Government reduced inflation to about 3Vi per cent under that figure, which is where it is now.

The honourable member for Port Adelaide made the outrageous statement that the Government was going to sell its share in Ranger overseas. I cannot remember whether the honourable member said that the figure was $300m or $600m, but it was an amount such as that. He went on to say that if the Government’s share were to be sold, it should be sold for a billion or more. That is a ridiculous statement for a party which only last week totally opposed and still totally opposes the mining and selling of uranium. The Labor Party now castigates the Government regarding its Ranger ownership policy. Labor bought 50 per cent of the Ranger take in exchange for a payment of 72.5 per cent of the capital expenditure, which would be at public expense. So the Government’s presence in the Ranger set up has certainly assisted the selling strategy. But by way of the ill-informed land rights Act the development has been frustrated. However, I will say more on that at some other time.

It is the Government’s duty to check the demand for that continued expenditure of public funds- the 72.5 per cent of the capital, as I said before. The honourable member for Port Adelaide stands in this House and reels off these figures; but they are wrong. The Government has made no decision on the Ranger uranium deal. Forty-odd firms, including many Australian firms, have signified a willingness to purchase the Government’s share. If the Government does sell any part or all of its interest I urge it to do so to an Australian concern. With those remarks that I have mentioned, can one believe Labor’s misrepresentations? The honourable member for Port Adelaide said that the Australian Labor Party speaks the truth. That is utter rubbish! In saying that, I support the Budget.


-The Budget reeks of deception. Let me say to the honourable member for the Northern Territory (Mr Calder) that the sale of the Ranger deposit is a sell-out of the people’s assets. I just make the observation that on world parity prices of $40 per lb for uranium, this asset is worth about $6,000m to $7,000m.

Mr Calder:

-He said $300m or $600m.


– He is wrong, I must confess. The value of the asset at $40 per lb is between $6,000m and $7,000m. The Government wants to sell out the people’s asset. We on this side of the House are not prepared to concede that.

This Budget is a clear confession of failure. On the question of unemployment, like many of the promises this Government has made since 1 974, it has a track record about as barren as the Sahara desert. This Budget clearly reflects the Government’s total lack of initiative. Nowhere is this Government’s incompetence and bankruptcy more evident than in the field of energy. The Government’s mismanagement of the energy policy over the past Vh years has been a disaster. The answer is simple. The Government abdicated its responsibility in the critical area by leaving all major energy decisions to the oil companies. Let us be frank about this: This Government’s sole interest in the oil industry has been to rip off as much money as it can to finance its ballooning deficit. In the current financial year Australian refineries will pay over $3,000m for crude oil which is produced in this country. Of this the Government will get about $2,223m. Consumers throughout the length and breadth of this country will carry that burden of the cost.

One of the Government’s first acts in 1976 after it came into office was to reject out of hand the major recommendations of the Royal Commission on Petroleum. Perhaps its most important recommendation was the establishment of an agency to regulate the oil industry. Apart from leaving major decisions to the oil companies the Government deliberately downgraded what little oil expertise it had within the Bureau of Mineral Resources and Government departments. It also deliberately reduced the monitoring of oil company activities. It massively slashed public spending on public transport. It was predictable after the events in Iran and the oil squeeze that international oil companies would play every trick in the book to maximise profits. They have done that for 130 years. The primary role of all corporations is to produce profits, not oil. Their responsibility is to their shareholders, not to the Australian Government. For instance, if a tanker of crude oil originally destined for Australia can be diverted to the United States of America or Europe for a much larger profit on the spot market why should oil companies overlook a windfall profit and supply Australia instead? What loyalty do companies owe to Australian governments, indeed to any government?

While the rest of the industrialised world has been building its stocks of oil as a buffer against future dislocation of oil supply, in Australia oil stocks have fallen to a virtually non-existent level. The Government has no idea of exactly what our storage capacity is, what our stocks of each product held are. It is obliged to ask the oil companies. In March 1978 I asked the Minister for National Development (Mr Newman) for details of sales of fuel oil outside the capital cities of Australia. The following September he replied:

Detailed information concerning individual companies is not available to the Government.

Not only is this information unavailable to the Government but also the Government has deliberately endeavoured to keep itself ignorant of vital information about the oil industry. The need for an adequate stockpile of fuel oil is critical. As a trading nation we are almost completely dependent on imported fuel oil for the shipping of our minerals and rural products. Much of industry depends on fuel oil. Hundreds of thousands of jobs in every section of industry depend on oil. Why should oil companies maintain an extensive stockpile of oil when their interests are economic and not strategic? In November 1977 the Deputy Prime Minister, the Minister for Trade and Resources (Mr Anthony), stated the position in one of his very few statements. He said:

Prevailing forecasts indicate that a desirable timing for stockpile establishment, if this is necessary, would probably be the early to mid- 1 980s.

As with everything else, this Government is determined to do too little too late. Another option repeatedly rejected by the Government, yet taken by many overseas countries, to secure oil supplies has been direct governmenttogovernment negotiations with the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries. This action circumvents profiteering by oil companies and is, as expected, bitterly opposed by them. Two years ago, when it was already clear that security of oil supply would be critical, I asked the Deputy Prime Minister whether the Government would take action to diversify future sources of imported crude oil for Australia. His pious reply in September was as follows:

Australia already imports crude oil from a number of countries. It is not the Government’s policy to become directly involved in commercial import or export transactions or to give any direction to Australian commercial interests as to where they should source imports.


– When was that question asked?


-In 1977. The Government deliberately ignored the possibility of trade deals with both Iraq and China although I noted recently that the Government is wavering on the issue of government-to-government negotiations, no doubt stung by the urgent realities of the situation facing Australia. I noted the recent response to this proposition by Mr Froggart, General Manager of the Shell company. He warned this Government, indeed any government, what would happen if attempts were made to deny oil companies their privileged role as sole marketing negotiators. Let me make a number of observations on that report. Firstly, many years ago in 1920 one of the most rewarding books on crude oil that I have ever read was published. It was entitled The World Struggle for Oil and was written by a Frenchman called Pierre de la Trameyre. He passed this very simple observation:

The struggle for oil is no longer a rivalry between Trusts: it is a struggle between nations.

For almost eight decades we have failed to grasp what is a very simple fact. The second observation I make is this: OPEC has repeatedly warned consuming governments to police multinational oil companies’ marketing and distribution rake-offs. They need to be more effective and efficient to regulate and monitor, particularly the profits made by oil companies. My third observation is that we ought to have noted that Mexico has already entered into negotiations to trade off between West Germany and Canada oil for nuclear technology. Not three weeks ago the Australian Financial Review stated:

A reduction in the proportion of crude sold to the big oil companies, which buy nearly three-fifths of Venezuela’s exports, and a search for new markets, with attempts to sell more oil directly to consumers . . .

Efforts to sell directly to consumers such as North American power companies will be intensified, possibly involving taking equity stakes in such companies in exchange for oil.

I make a fourth observation: The Japanese Government is becoming increasingly involved with OPEC to ensure continuity of supply. My fifth observation is that governments now are and will increasingly become, involved in international commodity price negotiations- they might not like it but it is inevitable- for minerals, rural products and, inevitably, energy. Such policies can be co-ordinated and integrated only if governments elect to provide the leadership necessary to make them effective, efficient and successful in the nation’s interests. If this Government runs away from such a planned approach, I regret to say that crisis will be the order of the day in this country for a long time to come. The high water mark of the failure of energy policy was the statement by the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) in June of this year. Little was new, much was overdue. The statement was precisely what one would expect from a government that has shed itself of responsibility for energy matters only to be caught with its pants well and truly down. On the question of oil supply the Prime Minister said:

The Government expects oil companies to obtain imported oil supplies as necessary, to meet Australian requirements.

Presumably that was a plea to oil companies, not a threat, because he went on to promise the companies virtually an open go on what price they charge for petroleum. In other words, the new initiative is to allow oil companies even more scope to rip off Australian motorists.

Let us consider an issue that I have raised in this place repeatedly- octane ratings. Another so-called new initiative is to vary the octane rating of super grade petrol. Three years ago the Royal Commission on Petroleum and later the Government’s own National Energy Advisory Committee recommended that the octane rating of standard grade petrol be raised from 89 to 92 and that there be a larger price differential between standard and super grade petrol. In a Press release in June 1978 the Minister for National Development supported the recommendation. The Caltex company recently adopted the recommendation. But the more powerful oil companies such as Shell opposed it because it did not suit their marketing structure and instead opted for lowering the rating of super grade petrol from 98 to 97. The Prime Minister, predictably enough, capitulated to the large oil companies, again against the national interest.

Let us consider the question of monitoring the oil companies’ activities. Another of the Prime Minister’s new initiatives is for the Minister for National Development to write to oil companies requesting that they provide data on supply, consumption, stocks and export of petroleum products. I suggest that it is a disgrace that an Australian Government has not closely monitored this information before. It is a disgrace that a government has to rely on oil companies to provide the information. No matter how unpalatable it may be, the Australian Government sooner or later will have to establish its own organisation to regulate and monitor oil company activities, as suggested by the Royal Commission on Petroleum and as practised in many Western countries. The Government refuses to face the fact which was set out so well by the Royal Commission in its fourth report in the following terms:

In its socio-economic context motor spirit, as a staple consumer product, resembles electricity town gas, water supply, postal and communication services, meat, milk and bread supplies. All these areas have acquired distinctive forms of regulation.

Yet another of the Prime Minister’s so-called new’ initiatives concerns rationing and on this point he said:

The Government will also ensure that any allocation schemes implemented by companies follow sensible and fair practices across the industry and are co-ordinated with State and Territory Government emergency schemes.

For y/i years the Government has bowed to oil company pressure to stall proposals to reform unfair practices in the oil industry. The present shortage has allowed oil companies to axe competition in the retail side of the industry. They are using this opportunity to the fullest and we cannot blame them. They have 1 30 years experience behind them. In spite of anything that this Government might say about the fairness of allocation, the record shows that the will of the oil companies is always allowed to prevail. If it really wanted to inject fair play into the industry it ought to have introduced the Maryland-based legislation which was promised last year by the Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs (Mr Fife). I received an answer today from the Minister stating that the Government may finally act on that promise.

I have referred to the use of liquefied petroleum gas as a motor fuel on over, I think, 14 occasions in this House. A statement by this Government exhorted motorists to use LPG as a motor fuel which obviously impressed many people who were unaware of the Government’s track record. However, they soon discovered that this Government was as ill-prepared on this aspect of energy policy as it was on all others. There is a lack of distribution outlets for LPG, especially in the city. There is a long waiting list for LPG conversions- up to two years in South Australia- and problems with safety in the absence of a supervisory body and appropriate standards. The Government has no excuse for not being prepared. Rex Connor’s royal commission provided this Government with a comprehensive 250-page report on LPG three years ago and it was supported by the Government’s National Energy Advisory Committee. In March 1 977 1 asked the Minister for National Resources about the use of LPG and its problems. On the question of standards, I specifically asked whether the Government would consider the adoption of propane specifications along the lines of the United States Natural Gas Processors Association specification HD5. He replied merely that the contents of the royal commission report were under consideration. A year later I ask the same question. The reply was that the report of the interdepartmental committee which was studying the royal commission report was expected to be considered by the Government in the near future. A year later the Prime Minister stated:

The Minister Tor Transport will initiate discussions with the State and Territory Ministers to ensure that proper safeguards are instituted . . .

Might I suggest that the issue is still unresolved.

Another ‘new’ initiative of the Prime Minister was that the Government would give the Bureau of Mineral Resources a new and upgraded role. The facts are that the Government has so squeezed the BMR in the last 36* years that at one stage its professional staff were almost in revolt. The NEAC noted that the assessment of petroleum resources by the BMR was being severely retarded by a lack of expertise, statistical data and methodology. The Government’s response was to slash the BMR funds, and we can now only speculate on what benefits

Australia might have gained from an expanded petroleum survey.

In relation to exploration, about which the people opposite like to talk, this Government still continues to perpetuate the myth that its oil pricing policies are revitalising oil exploration. The figures on the number of wells drilled in Australia show that this is not so because only 52 exploration wells v/ere drilled in 1978 and fewer than 60 are expected to be drilled this year. In 1978, over 7,000 wells were drilled in Canada and 48,000 in the United States. The present problem with the Government’s policies is simply that the oil companies are making considerable profits from oil production in Australia and they stand to make much more in the near future under this Government’s policies. The Government’s policy is to hope that oil companies will spend some of the money on exploration. Companies cannot be criticised for making what is for them the best investment. It is the Government, not the companies, which has the responsibility to ensure that profits are spent on oil exploration. The Government must introduce fiscal measures to ensure that oil companies plough sufficient of their profits into oil exploration. In Canada the level of taxation on oil company profits accruing from any price rises is adjusted so that the more a company ploughs back into exploration the fewer cents in the dollar it pays in tax. It has long been obvious that such a powerful incentive for oil companies to use their profits on oil exploration is essential for Australia. Summing up the situation far more effectively than I could ever do, Alastair Cooke three weeks ago on the Australian Broadcasting Commission in the Voice from America program, said:

Well, the first question the people of Barketown, Kentucky, put to Mr Carter was right on the button. Mr President, why don’t you try to do something about the big oil companies that are making so much profit. Mr Carter said, ‘ 1 don’t want to mislead you all just to get a round of applause. I believe that the profit motive is the best incentive to provide the services we need, but we’ve also seen the oil companies misuse the profits they have made. If they take the profits and invest them back in the exploration and. production of additional oil and gas in our country, then I Ve no objection to their profits being made. But what they have done is to buy restaurants and motel chains, they tried to buy circuses, they bought department stores, they’ve taken profits from oil and gasoline and not put them back into the ground.

He finishes up with this telling indictment:

Why hasn’t he said this before. In all the wordy hassle over whether a windfall profit tax means a profits tax or an excise tax on revenues nobody in the Government has put it on the line as simply and forcefully as that. The people cheered. No wonder.

This Government- as we would if we were in government- has to accept that painful decisions are inevitable and that the sooner they are taken the less discomfort they will cause in the long run. If democratic countries such as Australia are to cope with these problems they must take the people into their confidence. So far, this Government ‘s energy policies have attempted to deceive and to buy time before the next electionnothing more nor less. The tragedy for the Australian nation is that sooner or later delayed action will have to be paid back with interest. This country has to face up to some very severe problems in the years ahead and there is nothing more important than the energy question. Since 1975 I have repeatedly said in this House that what is needed is not a bipartisan approach to energy but for this House to set up its own committee of inquiry on energy.


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

Mr Donald Cameron:

– The honourable member for Hawker (Mr Jacobi) commands considerable respect from this side of the House even when he proposes a mixture of sound and quaint attitudes, ideas and suggestions. He sounds almost like a prophet when he presents himself as one who forecast present day difficulties in terms of the world energy crisis. One would almost think that he had had dialogue with the Ayatollah Khomeyni in Paris. But when he compared the number of exploration wells drilled in Australia with the number being drilled in Canada and the United States he completely dismissed and made no mention of what happened during the Labor Government’s Administration between 1972 and 1975. Opposition members turned off the pumps and drills. The downward slide happened so quickly that, when we came back into power, not a drill was left searching for oil, from one side of Australia to the other. The same attitude which pervaded the latter sentences of the speech of the honourable member for Hawker existed then- kill, kill, kill. If somebody was about to make a quid, the Labor Party wanted to jump on him and destroy him. How do Opposition members think that Esso Australia Ltd found the Bass Strait oil? It was as a result of encouragement from previous Liberal-Country Party governments prior to the advent of the 1972 regime. There is no escaping the fact that some of our problems today are a direct result of the policies practiced by the Labor Government in 1972 to 1975. The honourable member condemned the Government of today. No one in his right mind could have predicted the overthrow of the Government of Iran. Nobody could have predicted the shortages of oil. Despite that, this

Government has been following progressive policies.

It is not my intention to get bogged down in talking on the matter which has been alluded to by the previous speaker. It is my job tonight- it is something which I willingly do- to speak in support of this Budget. Australia was like a ship that had been torpedoed from forward to aft and aft to forward again and again. The people changed the crew in 1 975. For the first couple of years, all the crew could do was to man the bilge pumps and work like crazy to save the vessel. The ship is now afloat and its recovery has been sufficient under the new crew to allow the crippled vessel to sail forward once again. Australia is going forward again. There is no way in the world that a majority of the Australian people will fall for believing that, because the Australian Labor Party has changed captains, the crew will behave any differently than the reckless, destructive way in which it manned the vessel between 1972 and 1975. The first mate for much of that period was the honourable member for Oxley (Mr Hayden). He is now captain but neither he nor his crew has shown that they have learned anything about seamanship. This speech will not be an exercise in ALP bashing but I believe that almost every speech made this year by Opposition members indicates that they would do it all over again. While some of the Labor Government’s changes were to the country’s advantage Australians will continue to pay dearly for a long time for that disastrous era of 1972 to 1975.

It is my intention to speak of the positive aspects of the Budget which will ensure the completion of the recovery of this nation. However, before I do so I wish to turn my attention to a matter of policy which causes me concern. Let no Opposition member say ‘Hear, hear’! That which causes me concern is the possibility that my Party might be adopting the Labor Party’s policy in killing off the incentive of the better off and slightly better off in our community to care and to provide for themselves in the future. After my reference to the question of policy, I will allude to the Tax Commissioner’s blunder of the century. I refer specifically to the upper limit of $1,200 on the taxation deduction for people who contribute to superannuation and insurance schemes. I recall with much pleasure that the Liberal Party’s founder and father, the late Sir Robert Menzies, and his protege, Harold Holt, were meticulous in keeping the taxation deduction figure for insurance and superannuation contributions updated in accordance with inflation.

The insurance and superannuation deduction figure of $ 1 ,200 was set in 1 967. Since then inflation has devalued that figure to the point where a deduction far in excess of $3,000 would be needed even to equal the value which was set in 1967. We changed the Public Service superannuation scheme in 1977. In so doing, we probably gladdened the hearts of almost a quarter of a million Commonwealth public servants. They now contribute only 5 per cent of their salaries to superannuation. The scheme receives a massive injection from the taxpayers to make it workable. The only public servants who would feel this provision would be those who earn in excess of $24,000 a year. Private or self-employed citizens and non-government superannuation funds have no access to the subsidy that the taxpayer contributes to the Commonwealth superannuation scheme. The non-government employee contributor has to contribute far in excess of 5 per cent of his income to have even a remote sense of security in old age. Therefore, 10 per cent of salary would be a normal contribution to superannuation. Anyone earning in excess of $12,000 a year comes within the group that I have broadly described as the more fortunate and the slightly more fortunate. Today, with an average income of over $200 per week, that involves many Australians.

Unconsciously we are, like the Australian Labor Party when in office, destroying the ability and, more importantly, the will of the successful and moderately successful to care for themselves in their retirement years. Lest I be accused of caring only for the wealthy, let me say this: The competition for the available funds directed to welfare each year is well known in this place. If we are to kill the will, the incentive and the ability of the more fortunate in our community, in the future they will be putting their hands out to share in the restricted availability of welfare funds. I passionately believe that a government of my Party’s persuasion has a very deep obligation to ensure that the stage is set not to allow people to dodge tax obligations but to ensure that the better off look after themselves so that when they reach old age their investments are caring for them and they do not become competitors for the restricted amount of money available for welfare.

I now refer to what I believe to be the Tax Commissioner’s blunder of the century. It is not often that politicians or parliamentarians have the opportunity to examine closely the fine print. This year’s tax return Schedule ‘A’ is very much the same as Schedule ‘B’. Tax returns have prob ably been filled in already by some 5 million Australians. The grave error which I have discovered occurred not just last year, 12 months ago, but also the year before. It was in that year, 1976-77, that the Commissioner- this is his responsibility completely; we cannot blame poor Mr Howard for this one- changed the format of the form. He inserted a concessional expenditure rebate section in the middle of the tax return. I seek leave to incorporate a section of the tax return in Hansard. I have the permission of the honourable member for Capricornia (Dr Everingham) who is at the table.

Leave granted.

The document read ass follows

Life insurance premiums and superannuation- Life, sickness and accident insurance premiums and payments to a friendly society (excluding medical or hospital benefits fund payments) or to a superannuation, sustentation, widows’ or orphans’ fund are subject to rebate (maximum $1,200) if made for the benefit of yourself, your wife or husband or your children, with the exception of:

  1. life insurance premiums where the first premium under the policy was paid on or after 1 January 1973 and benefits, other than death benefits, are payable within ten years; or
  2. contributions to a superannuation fund where the fund ‘s income is not wholly or partly exempt from tax.

Do not claim for fire, household or motor vehicle insurance under this item.

The maximum amount which is rebatable in respect of life insurance premiums and superannuation fund payments is $ 1 ,200. If the total of your payments exceeds $ 1 ,200, the full payments made should be shown in the space provided for details of your expenses but only the $1,200 which can be claimed should be shown in the ‘Amount Claimed ‘ column. If you have paid both insurance and superannuation, you should reduce your claim for superannuation by the amount of the excess over $ 1 ,200. If the excess is more than your payments for superannuation, you should simply claim $1,200 for life insurance in the ‘Amount Claimed ‘ column.

It is important that you show full details of payments made, particularly where they exceed $1,200. Should any portion of the excess relate to payment for a superannuation pension or an annuity, the Taxation Office will keep a record of such excess amounts (known as the ‘Undeducted Purchase Price’). When the pension or annuity becomes payable, a part of the pension or annuity, calculated by reference to the excess amounts, may be free of tax. (This aspect is further dealt with under the heading ‘ Undeducted Purchase Price’ on Page 5

Where you have claimed a deduction or rebate in your income tax return for this year or any previous year for premiums paid on a life insurance policy under which the benefits would have become payable after the expiration of a period in excess of 10 years and the first premium was paid on or after 1 January 1973 but the policy was not in force at 30 June 1979, a statement should be attached explaining the circumstances in which benefits became payable or the policy matured, or was forfeited or surrendered.

Mr Donald Cameron:

-In that section the Tax Commissioner tells people in a nutshell that, if their superannuation or insurance contributions exceed $1,200, not a cent above that amount will be considered as a tax deduction. Of course, that is a matter of government policy to which I alluded a moment ago. The instruction form tells people to disclose full details of payments made, particularly where they exceed $1,200. When they retire and become superannuated, the Tax Commissioner will look at the amount that they have paid in excess of their deductible contribution and offset that overpayment against the taxation that will be applied to their superannuation. Superannuitants are taxed. A person receiving $10,000 from a superannuation scheme would pay the same tax as any other individual who earned $ 10,000. But in this case the Commissioner of Taxation says: ‘Okay, if you put in thousands and thousands of dollars in excess over the years I will work out how many years you are expected to live and then I will reduce the figure upon which I actually apply tax’. That gives that person an advantage in terms of his not paying tax on the money that he never received a reduction or a concession for in the earlier years. That is what that form says.

I hold up the form to show it has eight pages of very close print. By comparison, it makes an insurance policy look like a daily newspaper. I take the form itself that every taxpayer would look at. On the top line there are the words ‘Complete this page ONLY’- the word ‘only’ is in capital letters- ‘if your total expenditure on items Al to A13 exceeded $1,590’. This is the ‘A’ return. I have worked it out that people not employed in the Public Service and who are lucky enough to have access to a superannuation scheme have to pay, as I said before, about 10 per cent to 12 per cent of their income to be in a scheme that is even remotely worth while. Therefore, those people receiving in excess of $12,000 per year who are healthy, who have not adopted a child, who have incurred no education expenses or who live in rented accommodation, will be ripped off when they need the money the most, in their retirement years. This happens because the form that the Taxation Commissioner gives people to fill out is totally misleading and is in total conflict with what is actually required.

I do not know what the Government is going to do about this matter, but considering that this practice has been going on for over the past three years, I believe there is probably a real obligation on the Taxation Commisioner to get out all those returns of people who have not sent in that middle page in the last three years and write to them informing them of this very grave error. It is a poor reflection on the Taxation Office officers and on those people who make their living out of preparing income tax returns professionally that they did not pick up this mistake. If I had not picked up this discrepancy and it had been allowed to go on, Australians from one side of the country to the other would have been going on merrily, unaware of the fact that their entitlement was going down the drain because of the misleading advice given by the Taxation Commissioner.

Whilst on this subject, I want to make one further point in relation to policy. It is a pity the Treasurer (Mr Howard) is not here, but I notice the Minister for Home Affairs (Mr Ellicott) is here. I am quite sure he will relate what I say to the Treasurer. If the Government is going to regard as non-deductible for taxation purposes an amount in excess of $1,200 and people are contributing, say $2,000 or $1,500 and therefore paying an excess of $800 or $300, which is being put in reserve, then when that person who is now 30 years of age reaches 60 years of age the Taxation Commissioner will say to him: ‘In 1977-78, 1978-79 and 1979-80 you contributed $1,500 in excess. I will give you a reduction or offset this in your retirement years’. With inflation- it is expected to continue at 10 per cent, as we have been told-the value of that $1,500 will be like a peanut. I strongly advocate that the Government has an obligation to ensure- if it is not going to correct a $1,200 upper limit figure for life assurance and superannuation- that this money is indexed to retain its value. What the Government is doing at present is sitting on a stockpile of money contributed by taxpayers and being held in reserve. Because of the effect of inflation, the value of money is diminishing and the people of Australia will not be really getting the return that should be due to them in today’s values as a result of the contribution they are making.

In my remaining two or three minutes I want to refer to a couple of the good aspects of the Budget, particularly the increase in the amount the Government is making available for the Commonwealth Rebate for Apprenticeship Fulltime Training. There has been an increase of $26m. This will have the effect of increasing the number of eligible apprentices from 56,500 to 85,000. It surprises me that no previous speaker in the Budget debate has alluded to this point. Here we have this tremendous increase in the number of young people who will be assisted to become apprentices. The actual increase in the subsidy to employers will be from 1 January next year when it will rise from $6.50 per day to $13 per day for apprentices receiving off-the-job training in the first year of training.

I refer also to some of the allocations made in the Budget. Almost $9,000m is being set aside for social welfare. That is an increase of 9.6 per cent and represents a total outlay of 28.2 per cent of the Budget. Health has an allocation of well over $3, 000m, representing 10 per cent of the Budget. Without trying to cover too many more subjects, I conclude with the observation that here we have well over 38 per cent of the nation ‘s Budget spent on social welfare and health. When people clamour for more and more expenditure in other arenas, they must realise that whilst the Government recognises their case, there is only so much money available. The only alternative to saying no at times is to follow the Australian Labor Party’s policy of 1972-75 which would jack up taxes. If a Labor Government were ever returned I am positive we would see such a policy implemented because the only way it would ever finance some of the hairbrained schemes it proposes in this Parliament would be to hit the working man in the pocket by taking more taxation from him. I advise the Opposition to get its feet on the ground and recognise the fact that the working man wants to take home as much of what he earns as possible while at the same time recognising he does have to make a contribution to the welfare of the nation.


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


– I am very pleased to have the opportunity to speak about the Budget tonight because I was rather appalled today when the honourable member for Canberra (Mr Haslem) asked a Dorothy Dixer of the Minister for the Capital Territory (Mr Ellicott). The honourable member said what wonderful things the Minister was going to do for Canberra and then, pointing the finger across to the Opposition, said that we- I think he was pointing at me personally- were responsible for undermining consumer confidence in Canberra. It is the height of audacity to say we undermined consumer confidence in Canberra. This Government has presided over the greatest bashing of a particular community. It has presided over the complete demoralisation of the Public Service, the greatest escalation of unemployment in any part of Australia, and a record number of liquidations and bankruptcies in the small business world. It has presided over the gutting of the building industry, cutting it in half. The building force is now down to 50 per cent of what it was. It has sold off government enterprises, the property of the people of Canberra- the brickworks, the government sawmill. Above all, it has brought down a record low vote for the National Capital

Development Commission for new capital works. A mere $ 13.7m has been allocated for new capital works in the 1979-80 Budget year. This is an all time low by a long way in the whole history ofthe NCDC.

Mr Ellicott:

– It is nowhere near an all time low.


– The figures are there. It is no good denying it.

Mr Ellicott:

– Ask me a question tomorrow and I will give you the figures.


– Certainly. I do not have to ask the Minister that question. The answer is in the Budget Papers. The figure mentioned in the Budget Papers for new capital works this year is $ 13.7m. It is an appalling performance. Then the Government has the hide to point the finger at the Opposition and say that we are undermining consumer confidence. The Government has undermined my confidence. It has undermined not only the confidence of the consumers but also the confidence of the business people, the building industry and, of course, the unemployed. It has done nothing for the unemployed. It has done nothing in this Budget to hold out any hope for them.

The honourable member for Canberra has panicked. I do not blame him. If I were in his position I would panic too. He has pressed the panic button, as has the Government senator representing the Australian Capital Territory in the other place. They have both panicked and of course they have put the pressure on the Minister. The Minister for the Capital Territory (Mr Ellicott) has panicked too. He is now trying to pull some goodies out of the hat. He pulled some real beauties out of the hat today about things that are going to happen in the bright rosy future for Canberra. He is talking about casinoscasinos that he would have nothing to do with a couple of years ago and which the Government rejected. He is talking about a tourist centre for which he had available, I think, $3. 6m in the Budget last year, which he let go by default because he could not make up his mind where the tourist centre was to be built. He is now talking about a convention centre. He is sitting back and waiting for private enterprise to come in and build all these wonderful things and solve all our problems. These are very commendable projects. I support them. I support the proposals for the casino, the tourist centre and the convention centre. They are wonderful things, but we all know that if they happen at all they will not happen for two or three years and in the meantime many more people in Canberra will go out of business, particularly in the building industry.

There were a few pluses in the Budget. I give credit to the Minister for the money that has been made available to build a new library in Belconnen and an in-door sporting pavilion- a very limited facility- at the Bruce Stadium and for the provision of a little more money for Commissioner for Housing loans. I understand that the Commissioner will be able to lend to another 160-odd people. There are 750 names on the waiting list, so in 12 months time instead of having 750 names on the waiting list we will have about only 600. No money at all is provided for government housing, of course. There is no need for it because there is no growth here. Against those few pluses, which I concede are good, although not enough, we have this tremendous cutback in the NCDC budget. For a number of years it was spending over $200m. I know that it cannot keep on doing that but to cut funding for new capital works back to $ 13.7m in one year is inexcusable. The Minister says: ‘We do not want any more land, we do not want any more houses; there is no growth’. I agree with that; there is no argument about it. But there are plenty of capital works programs which the Minister could have got underway and I believe should be got underway in the NCDC budget. The national museum has been talked about for years. We have a site for it. We do not have to wait for private enterprise to make a decision about building a national museum. All the Minister had to do was to convince the Cabinet that we wanted some funds injected into Canberra, not for the people of Canberra but for national projects.

Of course, a great deal of the NCDC budget over the years has been devoted to national capital projects. They are not domestic projects at all. The High Court building and the National Gallery are not there to serve the local people; they are national capital projects. I think it is a very appropriate time for the Government to start some more national capital projects such as the construction of the national museum. The new coast road has been talked about for years. There is not a penny to get that underway. The convention centre could have been built by the Government. It did not have to wait another three years for private enterprise to come in with all sorts of projects. We could have had a full indoor recreation centre. It has been talked about for years. Instead of that we are to have a pavilion where people can play tennis or cricket or something.

Against a few pluses we have a very imposing list of minuses and a deplorable record by a government in Canberra, the worst in history and one which the Canberra people will remember for a long time. It is not only the Minister for the Capital Territory who has let the Territory down. I do not believe that our present Minister is a Canberra basher at heart. I think he has a great regard for Canberra, but the fact is that he was not able to overcome the Canberra-bashing syndrome of the present Government. It has a very strong anti-Canberra lobby and he was not able to overcome it and get some funds to put Canberra on its feet. He has presided over a devastating demoralisation of Canberra. He is not the only one at whom we can point the finger.

The other Minister who is very culpable in relation to Canberra is of course the Minister for Health (Mr Hunt). There has been some very bad administration, and some very bad decisions have been made which have caused tremendous difficulty in the health services in Canberra. The opening of the Calvary Hospital, without adequate funding, has been disastrous. That hospital was allowed to open only on the basis of taking money and resources from two existing hospitals. This has had a very demoralising and devastating effect on the whole of our health services. Of course, the Minister will say that we are spending so much and have spent so much on health, that Canberra is well off and all that sort of nonsense. There are spare resources only because Canberra has stopped growing. It has come to a standstill; therefore there is a surplus of resources. It is not due to bad planning; it is due to bad government.

The performance of the Minister for Health has been deplorable. In Canberra we have unused resources. We have clients waiting to use those resources but we cannot use them because of staff ceilings. We have a hostel at Watson in which there are 20 vacant beds and we are not allowed to put on the staff, giving jobs to the unemployed nurses in Canberra, to service those beds. We have clients willing to pay for that service and to go into those beds. Do honourable members know where they are? They are in New South Wales. They are not in Canberra at all. They are sent away from their relatives and friends.

Mr Martyr:

– Kenmore.


– They are sent to places such as Kenmore, yes. The Capital Territory Health Commission is paying $800,000 a year for services to Australian Capital Territory residents who are in various medical institutions in New South Wales. At the same time we have empty beds in the hostels in Canberra. There is no excuse for that. This is one of the distortions which come about from this crazy pattern of across-the-board staff ceilings which does not give due consideration to the resources that are being wasted. I have written to the Minister about this. He has not even responded yet. Those beds are sitting there empty. Unemployed nurses are waiting to do the job. Clients are ready to go into the beds, but they are in New South Wales and we are paying out a lot of money while our resources are wasted here.

I was rather surprised at the Minister’s making a little speech recently saying that he wanted Canberra to be more like any other town in New South Wales. I do not quite know what he meant. I do not know whether it is a cult of mediocrity. Perhaps he does not want to acknowledge that there should be any great advantage in a wellplanned city, but believes that Canberra should be downgraded to the level of any other town or city in New South Wales. I do not think that he really believes that. I do not think any honourable members opposite would believe that. I think we all acknowledge that Canberra is a government town. There is no doubt about that. I do not think anybody should pretend that it will be anything but a government town. Certainly, we want private enterprise, and as much as we can get; but I think that is complementary to the growth of government and the growth of Canberra in an orderly fashion rather than in the fits and starts that we have had in recent years. Not only has it stopped growing in the last few years but also there is a possibility of negative population growth with people moving out because of the lack of employment prospects in Canberra. I think that it is a nonsense to say that Canberra should be more like other cities. I do not think that private enterprise is going to rush into Canberra if there is no prospect that it will have some growth as a government town. I would net support the idea of a rapid growth in the Public Service, but there should be some prospect of growth. Public servants should have some prospect of normal promotion and increased opportunity. I am sure that all this will come about when there is a change of government.

We have seen this Government introduce all sorts of repressive legislation against the public servants and their unions in Canberra and this has further demoralised them. There was a deplorable attack a couple of weeks ago by a member of the Government on people being invalided out of the Public Service and on the government medical officers. He said that there was a racket because people were being invalided out of the Public Service. What is he saying? Is he saying that the Commonwealth medical officers are corrupt and that they are getting a back-hander or that the people who are getting out are obtaining false medical records? Under the protection of the House he makes these deplorable accusations against people who have served this country and the Public Service well for many years. What he does not realise, of course, is that many of these people are in poor health precisely because of the unreal staff ceilings that have been imposed on departments and because of overwork in various sections of the Public Service. The health of these people has deteriorated physically and mentally to the stage where they have to be invalided out. Is this member saying that all these people are telling lies or that they are . bribing a medical officer to get out? If so, why does he not get up and say that instead of casting aspersions on people who have served this country well?

It is no wonder that the honourable member for Canberra is panicking. If I were in his position I would be panicking too. He is so concerned about it that he has given up very profitable businesses so that he can concentrate on retaining the electorate. I think that was a very wise move. He did not sell them, of course; he is leasing them in case he might need them later and I think that this too is a wise move.

Mr Ruddock:

– He must be working pretty well.


– He is. He has a very difficult job to survive against the Government’s onslaught on Canberra. The Government has alienated every section of the community but it is asking him to do the impossible.

A government committee is considering the transfer to Tasmania of the Division of Forest Research in the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation. I have not heard of a more ridiculous proposal in all my life. The Government has done some crazy things but this is about the craziest. Here is a very expert professional research body which is world renowned and leads the world in many aspects of forest research, particularly in bushfire prevention and control and genetic breeding of new strains of softwoods for Australia. Nearly all of this division’s research projects are based in Canberra. They are carried out in the Australian Capital Territory forests. Forest research projects take many years to bear fruit and to be completed, but here is the Government talking about transferring to Tasmania all of the 200 people in this Division. I wonder why it wants to send them to Tasmania, of all places. Not one of these officers wants to go to Tasmania. Does the Government want to close the whole place down? Why not move the Parliament to Tasmania and be done with it or move it overseas?

Mr Baillieu:

– Why do you hate Tasmania?


– I love it but the forest research people do not love it. Their work is here, their families are here and their children are at school here. There is no way that those people will want to go to Tasmania.

Small business, of course, is in a terrible mess. There has been a record number of bankruptcies and people going into liquidation. I have business people coming into my office day after day. I have had dozens and dozens of them come in. Some are in critical circumstances indeed. I see people losing their homes and life savings and having no prospects at all because of the Canberra-bashing that has gone on and the way in which the growth rate has virtually stopped. Some of these people have been successful in business for many years. They are not amateurs who do not know what they are doing. They are proven business people, and yet they have run into a patch through which they cannot survive. We hear promises about what might happen in two or three years time- it is a bit like the new and permanent Parliament House- but many more of these people will be out of business before then. Many of the builders will be out of business and seeking sustenance further afield or some other way of maintaining their situation. But the damage will have been done.

The tragedy of this Budget is that the Minister for the Capital Territory did not realise the damage that was being done until too late. All those things that could have been done in the Budget just were not done. Canberra got an extremely bad deal indeed, even in some of the existing industries. Canberra has its own egg industry here, Parkwood Eggs Pty Ltd, a very fine production unit which set out to supply eggs for Canberra and it was doing this. What happened? The Victorian Egg Board came in and started cutting prices. A Board, set up to stabilise the marketing of eggs, comes into the Australian Capital Territory and starts undermining our own industry by selling eggs at a loss or at a much lower price than the price in Victoria. In other words, that Board is dumping on the Canberra market, eggs which normally would have been exported. This has been going on for a couple of years and the

Minister has done nothing effective about it. He has not stopped it. The Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Sinclair), who has some responsibility in the Australian Agricultural Council, has done nothing about it. It has been allowed to go on. This industry represents the jobs of 60 or 70 people in Canberra. If this practice is allowed to continue these people will not be able to carry on and there will then be a few more added to the unemployment list. So, it is no wonder that the honourable member for Canberra is panicking.

I am pleased to see that the Minister has come to life at last and has started to talk about the wonderful things that are going to happen in Canberra, but I am afraid that he has left the run a bit late. The damage has been done and has cut very deeply into the people of Canberra. They will not forget about it tomorrow or next month or next year and the honourable member for Canberra will have to bear the brunt of what this Government has done to Canberra. I have a lot of sympathy for him. He has tried but he has a hopeless task in the face of the Canberra-bashing that has been allowed to go on. I do not believe the Minister to be a Canberra-basher at heart but I am afraid we must admit that he has been ineffective in resisting the Canbeira-bashing that has gone on since this Government came to office. I am afraid we are going to feel the effects of that for many years to come. It is no good trying to pull something out of the hat at short notice. It just will not succeed. It will take several years for any project to get under way and in the meantime a lot more people will go to the wall. There were projects that the Minister could have got under way very quickly, projects which would not have taken two or three years to mature. Plans are already in existence for a lot of those projects. He had only to extract the money from the Treasurer, but the Treasurer and the Government were very tight-fisted in relation to Canberra. Unfortunately, the Minister failed to break through that Canberra-bashing syndrome and the people of Canberra have been asked to carry the can. I am sure the seed has been sown and the honourable member for Canberra is -

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr MillarOrder! The honourable member’s time has expired.

Debate (on motion by Mr Martyr) adjourned.

House adjourned at 10.30 p.m.

page 967


The following answers to questions were circulated:

Immigration and Ethnic Affairs: Overseas Accommodation Costs (Question No. 3179)

Mr Les Johnson:

asked the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs, upon notice, on 21 February 1979:

What sums were paid for (a) hotel or other accommodation for him and his staff on official overseas trips and (b) the rent overseas of (i) official offices and (ii) domestic premises used by any member of his Department during the periods (A) 11 November 1975 to 30 June 1976, (B) 1976-77,(C) 1977-78 and (D) 1 July 1978 to date.

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

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

I refer the honourable member to the Prime Minister’s answer to Question No. 3 1 72 in Weekly Hansard of 4-7 June 1979(page3143).

Mr Harry M. Miller (Question No. 3366)

Mr Armitage:

asked the Minister for Administrative Services, upon notice, on 7 March 1979:

  1. What are the full details of funds provided to Mr Harry M. Miller by the Federal Government to date, specifically including funds for (a) accommodation, (b) staff, (c) use of cars, (d) use of aircraft, (e) telephones, (f) telex facilities and (g) other facilities.
  2. Who authorised the provision of all the facilities and did they have the approval of the relevant Minister at the time they were authorised.
Mr John McLeay:

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

  1. 1 ) An analysis of the accounting records of the Department of Administrative Services indicates that the total expenditure on services and facilities made available to Mr Miller in his capacities as Chairman of the Silver Jubilee Commemorative Organisation and Special Adviser for the Australian Bicentennial Celebrations was $585,580. The expenditure was incurred as follows:
  1. The facilities were provided and authorised in accordance with decisions by the Government:

    1. To establish the Silver Jubilee Commemorative Organisation with Mr Miller as Chairman, and
    2. That a major program with international participation be developed in conjunction with the States to celebrate the Australian Bicentenary in 1 988 and that Mr Miller be engaged as Special Adviser: to present Australia’s case for a 1988 exposition at the July 1978 meeting of the Bureau of International Expositions, and for work preparatory to the setting up of a National Organisation to develop the Australian Bicentenary Celebrations.

Legal Aid: Mr J. Howard (Question No. 3410)

Mr Humphreys:

asked the Minister representing the Attorney-General, upon notice, on 8 March 1979:

Will the Attorney-General inquire into the rejection of an application for legal aid in Brisbane from Mr John Howard, 50 Wellington Street, Petrie Terrace, and indicate what were the reasons for rejection.

Mr Viner:

– The Attorney-General has provided the following answer to the honourable member’s question:

I have written to Mr Humphreys in connection with the matters raised by him in Question No. 34 10.

Motor Vehicle Engines (Question No. 3580)

Mr Hayden:

asked the Minister for Industry and Commerce, upon notice, on 28 March 1 979:

  1. 1 ) Has any action been taken by the Government

    1. to encourage the manufacture of motor vehicle engines in Australia designed for 92 RON motor spirit, and
    2. to ensure that any higher octane engine designs have a maximum, rather than an average, RON requirement of 98.
  2. If so, what action has been taken, and with what effect.

Mr Lynch:
Minister for Industry and Commerce · FLINDERS, VICTORIA · LP

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

  1. ) (a) The Government has not sought to encourage the production of engines optimised to use a particular grade of motor spirit. However, on 27 June 1 979, the Government announced a variation in the octane ratings of motor spirit sold in Australia. It was considered that the changes in octane ratings could be implemented within a month and could save up to one per cent of Australia’s crude oil requirements.

The announcement noted that one major company would introduce a new grade of motor spirit of 92 RON. This grade of motor spirit is being introduced because most vehicles in use in Australia require a higher octane fuel than the present 89 octane regular grade but of these, including many imported cars, some do not need 97 or 98 octane premium grade. A 92 octane fuel will cater for many of these and, because of the lesser degree of refining needed to produce 92 octane than higher octanes, fuel savings can be made in refineries.

  1. It was also announced that the octane rating of super grade motor spirit would be reduced from 98 to 97 RON.

Motor spirit with a 98 RON rating was the highest octane rating motor spirit commercially available in Australia. Most vehicles are designed in Australia or imported with this in mind. I understand that the decrease in the octane rating of premium grade will affect relatively few motor vehicles. (2)See(l) above.

Demand for Aviation Fuel (Question No. 3745)

Mr Morris:

asked the Minister for Transport, upon notice, on 2 May 1 979:

  1. 1 ) Is he able to say by what amount the demand for aviation fuel in Australia for international airliners has increased or decreased since 1 February 1979.
  2. ) What percentage does the alteration in demand constitute of the usual uplift of aviation fuel.
Mr Nixon:
Minister for Transport · GIPPSLAND, VICTORIA · LP

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

  1. and (2). International airliners and the major interstate domestic carriers use aviation turbine fuel. Statistics on the consumption of this fuel are collected by the Department of National Development. Due to commercial-in-confidence reasons I understand that a breakdown by domestic airliner and international airliner usage is not available.

Figures on the level of total aviation turbine fuel consumption measured in kilolitres and the percentage change in consumption over the same month in the previous year (obtained from the Department of National Development) are shown below.

Radioactive Waste (Question No. 3781)

Mr Les Johnson:

asked the Minister for National Development, upon notice, on 2 May 1979:

Will he give an undertaking that radioactive waste or related contaminants in Australia will not be dumped in ocean waters off Australia.

Mr Newman:

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

The Commonwealth has no plans to undertake any disposal of radioactive waste in ocean waters off Australia.

Australia signed the Convention on the Prevention of Marine Pollution by Dumping of Wastes and Other Matter in 1 973 but has not yet ratified the Convention. Accordingly, the Government would be required to refrain from action that would defeat the object and purpose of the Convention in the event of any disposal of radioactive waste in ocean waters off Australia.

Immigration (Question No. 3802)

Dr Cass:

asked the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs upon notice, on 3 May 1979:

  1. How many applications for migration to Australia have been received from (a) Italy, (b) Great Britain, (c) Greece, (d) Rhodesia, (e) Yugoslavia, (0 South Africa, (g) Lebanon, (h) Hong Kong, (j) Turkey, (k) Singapore, (I) Pakistan, (m) Taiwan, (n) the Philippines, (o) Malaysia and (p) Egypt during the period 1 January to 30 April 1979.
  2. How many persons from each of the same countries were approved for permanent residence in Australia in the same period.
  3. 3 ) In each case, how many of the applicants were ( a ) professionally trained, (b) skilled, (c) semi-skilled or (d) unskilled and what were the qualifications in the same categories of those granted permanent residence visas.
  4. What was the increase/decrease of applications (expressed in percentage and numbers) for 1977 and 1978, and how many of those applicants were granted permanent resident visas.
Mr MacKellar:

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows: (l)and(2)-

  1. The term ‘applications’ means the number of people covered by formal applications lodged at overseas posts. The statistics do not include enquiries.
  2. The number of persons approved in the period does not necessarily relate to applications received in the same period.
  3. The Australian Government is not represented in Taiwan. Applications from residents of Taiwan are dealt with at other posts, mainly Hong Kong, and are not separately identified in their reports.

    1. As approximately two-thirds of all applications are refused, statistics on occupational characteristics of migrants are not compiled until the arrival stage, in order to minimise workload costs in accord with current contraints on staff resources.

Energy Research, Development and Demonstration Projects (Question No. 3818)

Mr Hayden:

asked the Minister for National Development, upon notice, on 3 May 1979:

  1. Which energy research, development and demonstration projects concerned with (i) solar energy, (ii) other renewable energy sources, (iii) energy conservation, at present being conducted in Australia, are being funded either fully or in part from overseas.
  2. 2 ) What level of funds are involved in each case.
  3. For which projects was funding sought from the Commonwealth and what level of funding was sought in each case.
  4. In which cases, and for what reasons, was funding denied by the Commonwealth.
Mr Newman:

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows: (1 ), (2), (3) and (4) I am not in possession of information concerning the source of funds for all energy research, development and demonstration projects concerned with solar energy, other renewable energy sources and energy conservation being undertaken in Australia. However, I am aware that some are being undertaken with the assistance of overseas funding.

Applications for support grants under the National Energy Research, Development and Demonstration Program include details of other sources of funds. The level of funding from these sources is taken into account by the National Energy Research, Development and Demonstration Council (NERDDC) in recommending the level of Commonwealth support. I do not consider that it is appropriate for details of non-Commonwealth Government funding to be made available by the Commonwealth, regardless of whether the application for support is successful or not. I also do not consider it appropriate to release details of unsuccessful applications which are confidential to the Department and the applicants. Unsuccessful applicants may discuss their applications with my Department. This occurs frequently.

On 2 May 1 979 I issued a list of 1 77 projects included in the 1978-79 National Energy Research, Development and

Demonstration Program. 52 of these are concerned with solar energy, other renewable energy sources and energy conservation. In 16 of the 52 additional support is being received from sources other than Commonwealth and of those 4 receiving funds from overseas.

Applications for support grants to NERDDC are carefully considered by the Technical Standing committees established under the council. The assessment takes into account the merit of the proposal, the priority accorded to the particular research area and the total funds available. Assessments are reviewed by the full council and the resulting recommendations are submitted for my consideration.

Medical Practitioner Advertising (Question No. 3878)

Dr Klugman:

asked the Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs, upon notice, on 8 May 1979:

  1. 1 ) Has his attention been drawn to a ruling by a judge of the United States of America Federal Trade Commission that the American Medical Association’s restriction on medical practitioner advertising had caused substantial injury to the public, served to deprive consumers of the free flow of information about the availability of health care services, deterred the offering of innovative forms of health care and stifled the rise of almost every type of health care delivery that would potentially pose a threat to the incomes of feeforservice physicians in private practice.
  2. If so, will he ask the Trade Practices Commission to look into similar restrictions applied in Australia.
Mr Fife:

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

  1. Yes.
  2. While it is Government policy that the Trade Practices Act should make no distinction between professions and other persons engaged in trade or commerce, the Act does not apply to many professional bodies because of limitations on the Commonwealth’s legislative power under the Constitution. The restrictive trade practices provisions apply only to the activities of corporations and to the activities of persons engaged in inter-State, international or territorial trade or commerce or transactions involving the Commonwealth, its instrumentalities or authorities.

Accordingly it may be doubtful whether the Act would apply to conduct of the kind referred to by the honourable member. I have, however, asked that the ruling of the Federal Trade Commission be forwarded to the Commission for its information and any action it considers appropriate.

Liquor and Tobacco Advertising (Question No. 3909)

Dr Everingham:

asked the Minister for Health, upon notice, on 9 May 1979:

  1. 1 ) Has his attention been drawn to a report on page 1 3 of the Australian of 8 May 1979 of a marketing seminar address by Seagram’s president wherein he (a) chided other liquor marketers for relying on trade discounts, (b) advocated (i) marketing to increase profits not market share, (ii) continually raising prices and (iri) reinvesting the profits in advertising, and (c) described as a creative strategy the determining of consumer desires rather than consumer preferences, relying on data pools and international communications.
  2. Will he initiate a comparable international counter-strategy.
  3. Can he say whether Seagram’s aim and success as the 5th biggest United States of America advertiser refutes claims of liquor and tobacco interests that their advertising aims to shift brand loyalties but not to increase consumption.
Mr Hunt:

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

  1. 1 ) (a), (b) and (c) Yes. Having obtained a copy of the address given by Mr F. S. Berger, former president of Seagram, which he delivered in April this year, I must say that it concerned itself fundamentally with the importance of marketing and with methods used by Seagram to promote the sales of certain brands of products. These included alcoholic beverages which were cited as examples of Mr Berger’s advertising approach.
  2. Given the basic purpose of the seminar address, I am unable to support the request for an international counter-strategy.
  3. No, not on the basis of the seminar address referred to.

Australian Antarctic Territory: Marine Science (Question No. 3974)

Mr Cohen:

asked the Minister representing the Minister for Science and the Environment, upon notice, on 23 May 1979:

  1. 1 ) What long term ecological studies are being carried out at the present time on the terrestrial and marine ecosystems in Austalian Antarctic Territory.
  2. What Federal funds have been given to research projects studying the effects of oil pollution on coral reefs and their associated ecosystem and could a breakdown of the sums for each project be provided.
  3. 3 ) In light of the need for research to be carried out on the Great Barrier Reef, when will the Government lift staff ceilings at the Australian Institute of Marine Science so that the staff numbers can be raised to 1 30 as originally planned.
  4. What is the present number of permanent staff at the institute.
Mr Groom:
Minister for Housing and Construction · BRADDON, TASMANIA · LP

-The Minister for Science and the Environment has provided the following answer:

  1. 1 ) The Antarctic Division is engaged in a program of ecological studies in the Vestfold Hills near Davis Station. This program has been in progress since 1 972. It has concentrated on the ecology of several saline and freshwater lakes, which occur in greater abundance and diversity in the Vestfold Hills than anywhere else in Antarctica. Currently, studies are being extended to the terrestrial biota, with emphasis on lichens, mosses, algae and soil invertebrates. The University of Melbourne and Macquarie University are co-operating in this long term program. Minor projects are also undertaken on related aspects of the neighbouring inshore marine ecosystem. Long term marine studies are confined to measurements of the phytoplankton population of the Southern Ocean, made during resupply voyages.
  2. The Government has, through various channels, funded a number of research projects into the Great Barrier Reef ecosystems and associated topics. Through the Australian Research Grant Scheme and the Queen’s Fellowship scheme, both of which are under my Ministerial responsibility, the Government has funded a number of research projects in this important area. For example, research projects bearing the following titles have been funded: ‘Comparative Studies on Coral Reef Ecosystems: Coral Taxonomy, Ecology and Analysis of Reef Community Structures’ and ‘The Species Composition and Ecological Significance of near-reef Zooplankton on the Capricorn Reef, Queensland’.

The Government has decided that, in addition to existing funding arrangements for marine scientific research, $400,000 will be provided in 1979-80 and the two succeeding financial years for grants in this field to be allocated by the Minister for Science and the Environment on the advice of the Marine Research Allocations Panel (MARAP) $300,000 of this amount will be devoted specifically to research on the Great Barrier Reef environment which had been suggested by the Chairman of the Royal Commission into Exploratory and Production Drilling for Petroleum.

  1. The Government has in March 1979 approved a further eight positions for the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) enabling the R/V Lady Basten to be fully crewed, and bringing the number of permanent staff of the Institute to 73.

In addition to this, however, the Government has agreed to provide additional scientific staff positions with suitable support funding for 1979-80 and the two succeeding years with the specific objective of accelerating research in the Great Barrier Reef. The Government will review the staff situation of the AIMS from time to time.

  1. Sixty-five plus the eight recently approved positions which will be filled as soon as possible.

Commonwealth and State Properties (Question No. 3984)

Mr Les McMahon:

asked the Minister for Administrative Services, upon notice, on 23 May 1979:

  1. 1 ) Which properties in the States are owned (a) by the Commonwealth Government and (b) jointly by the Commonwealth Government and the respective State Governments.
  2. Which properties were occupied (a) by the Commonwealth Government and (b) jointly by the Commonwealth Government and the respective State Governments during (i) 1976-77, (ii) 1977-78 and (iii) the period 1 July 1978 to date.
  3. What properties owned (a) by the Commonwealth Government and (b) jointly by the Commonwealth Government and the respective State Governments were either vacant or occupied by tenants during (i) 1976-77, (ii) 1 977-78 and (iii) the period 1 July 1 978 to date.
Mr John McLeay:

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

  1. to (3) The information sought on the thousands of properties concerned in the reply to this question is not readily available from the Department’s card records and I am not prepared at this time to direct staff resources away from important day to day work to assemble this detailed information.

A computer record system is being developed but it will be a year or more before the type of detail requested could be readily provided.

However, if the honourable member has a particular interest in any specific property I would be pleased to try and provide a response.

Vietnamese Refugees (Question No. 4067)

Mr Kerin:

asked the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs, upon notice, on 3 1 May 1 979:

  1. 1 ) Is he able to state whether there is any information available as to the wealth or poverty of Vietnamese refugees; if so, could this be tabulated.
  2. Is it a fact, as is widely held publicly, that Vietnamese refugees pay the equivalent of $ US 1000 per head to escape Vietnam.
Mr MacKellar:

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

  1. 1 ) While a small number of Vietnamese refugees arrive in Australia with significant assets, many are destitute and most have very few assets. Although officers of my Department overseas seek information about the assets of prospective settlers, including refugees, this information is not recorded in a way which can be presented in tabulated form.
  2. There is evidence to suggest that many people wishing to leave Vietnam are required to pay substantial sums in order to secure their departure and that property which they leave behind is confiscated by the Vietnamese Government. I understand that the amount demanded for authority to leave Vietnam is normally higher than $US 1000 per head.

Defence Expenditure (Question No. 4073)

Mr Hayden:

asked the Prime Minister, upon notice, on 30 May 1979:

  1. 1 ) Did he say in his address to the United Nations General Assembly Special Session on Disarmament on S June 1978 that his Government had recently informed the Secretary-General that it was willing to submit its defence budget for analysis as part of a pilot project on military budgets.
  2. Did the Australian Government submit, or offer to submit, its 1978-79 defence budget to the United Nations for analysis.
  3. Ifnot, why not
Mr Malcolm Fraser:

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

  1. and (3) Just before the United Nations Special Session on Disarmament Australia indicated to the SecretaryGeneral of the United Nations that it was prepared to provide information for the pilot study in the form of past and currently approved budgetary data as published in appropriate bills and the Annual Report of the Department of Defence.

No invitations have yet been extended to any United Nations member state to submit military budgets for analysis.

Airport Fire Tenders (Question No. 4165)

Mr Morris:

asked the Minister for Transport, upon notice, on 5 June 1979:

  1. 1 ) Further to question No. 3736 (Hansard, 4 June 1979, page 2878), is he now able to say on whose specific recommendation within his Department was the decision made to require modifications to the standard design ofthe Walter Ultra Large Fire Tenders.
  2. 2 ) In preparing the specifications for the modified design were the possible costs/advantages of the modified design considered; if so, what were the results of that consideration.
  3. At which American and Canadian airports have the Australian-type Walter Tenders been introduced and when.
  4. Is he now able to say what the difference was in the purchase price of the Walter Tenders acquired by his Department and the standard design (a) when the Australian Specifications were being drawn and (b) when the Australian purchase contract was being signed by his Department.
Mr Nixon:

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

  1. See answer to question No. 3736. The decision to change from the Walter ‘standard design’ to meet the Australian specification, was made by the Walter Motor Truck Co. The Australian specification was authorised by the Senior Assistant Secretary, Airways Engineering Works and Services Branch of the Ground Facilities Division.
  2. The Australian specification was not written around a particular manufacturer’s product. It specifies the essential design parameters and features to meet Australian operational requirements and conditions at lowest cost. It calls for a single engine to minimise overall size, weight and cost.
  3. USA- Grumman Aircraft Aerodrome, Long Island N.Y. Commissioned December 1978.; Canada- Information in answer to question 3736 was premature. The Walter offer to supply I 5 Australian type ULFT’s is still being evaluated.
  4. (a) At the time offender in 1976, the Walter Motor Truck Co. alternatively offered to build and supply 6800 Litre ULFT’s to its ‘standard design’ at $US1,S00 higher cost per unit than for the design to the Australian specification.

    1. Not available. However the Walter Motor Truck Co. recently advised the Department that this price differential would have increased to $US3,000 per unit by 1978.

Airport Fire Tenders (Question No. 4166)

Mr Morris:

asked the Minister for Transport, upon notice, on 5 June 1 979:

  1. I ) On what dates were (a) tenders called and (b) contracts let for the purchase of the Walter Ultra Large Fire Tenders referred to in his answer to question No. 3736 (Hansard, 4 June 1979, page 2878).

    1. What was the value of the contracts.
    2. Who were the unsuccessful tenderers and what was (a) the country of origin of each and (b) the intended country of manufacture of the fire tenders.
    3. How many Walter Tenders were purchased.
Mr Nixon:

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

  1. 1 ) (a) Tenders were called, closing on 27 January 1976.

    1. b ) Order was placed on 29 June 1977.
  2. The value of the contract was US $1,525,840 firm.
  3. The unsuccessful tenderers were:

Wormald Bros (New Zealand)- Top Hamper only- (a) New Zealand, (b) New Zealand;

Mack Australia- Chassis only- (a) Australia, (b) Australia;

Wormald Bros (International)- (a) Australia, (b) Australia;

Presha Engineering- (a) Australia, ( b ) Australia;

Oshkosh Truck Corporation-( a) USA, (b) USA;

HCB Angus-(a) England, (b) England;

Chubb Fire Security Ltd- (a) England, (b) England;

Gloster Sons- (a) England, (b) England;

Carmichael & Sons Ltd- (a) England, (b) England.

  1. Ten 6800 Litre units were purchased.

Airport Fire Tenders (Question No. 4167)

Mr Morris:

asked the Minister for Transport, upon notice, on 5 June 1 979:

  1. How many Walter Ultra Large Fire Tenders have been purchased by the Government.
  2. ) Where are they located.
  3. When did each unit enter service and at what location.
  4. When was each unit made available to the fire line at each location.
  5. For what period has each tender been out of service since acquisition.
  6. For what period has each tender been unavailable (a) for service at their respective fire lines since acquisition and (b) for fire line duty since commissioning.
Mr Nixon:

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

  1. 10 Walter Ultra Large Fire Tenders (6800L capacity) have been purchased.

A further 6 Walter Ultra Large Fire Tenders (6800L capacity) have been ordered. 9 Walter/Wormald Ultra Large Fire Tenders (9100L capacity) have been ordered.

  1. First 10 6800L units- see answer (3) below.

Next 6 6800L units- 2 are in Melbourne en route to South Australia, 3 are in Brisbane awaiting unloading, 1 is in transit from USA due in Melbourne 3 1 August.

First 9100L unit- due to finish construction at Wormalds Port Melbourne works December 1979, balance for delivery during 1980.

  1. , (4), (5) and (6)

Administrative Services: Motor Vehicles (Question No. 4299)

Mr Hayden:

asked the Minister for Administrative Services, upon notice, on 7 June 1979:

  1. How many (a) motor cars and station wagons by make and tare, (b) trucks and other commercial vehicles by make and mass and (c) motor cycles by make, are operated by his Department and statutory authorities and business undertakings under his control.
  2. What is the average fuel consumption (kilometres per litre) of each type and make of motor vehicle referred to in part(1).
Mr John McLeay:

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

The honourable member has asked similar questions of all Ministers and my Department has collated the information provided. A number of departments/authorities which operate large fleets of vehicles have been unable to provide information in the form requested. The structure of departmental fleets is in a continuous state of change owing to the normal disposals and replacements of vehicles. Some departments and authorities have advised that, considering the number of vehicles involved, data concerning the tare and average fuel consumption for each vehicle would be costly to extract from individual records.

The information which has become available relates to vehicles operated within Australia by all Commonwealth departments, statutory authorities and business undertakings.

1 ) (a) Approximately 1 1,400, which includes local and overseas makes. Details of individual makes by number and tare are not readily available.

Approximately 32,000, which includes local and overseas makes. Details of individual makes by number and tare are not readily available.

Approximately 3,900 which includes local and overseas makes. Breakdown of individuals makes by number is not readily available.

The above figures do not include Defence general service (operational) vehicles.

Because more detailed information is not available in respect of ( 1 ), it is not possible to provide all the average fuel consumption figures sought by the honourable member. However, fuel consumption was recently monitored in respect of vehicles owned by my Department. The following fuel consumption figures, expressed in kilometres per litre as requested, were returned:

The above figures are not necessarily typical of the vehicles involved; substantially different figures could be returned according to the manner in which the vehicle is driven, location, driving and weather conditions, etc.

Tasmania!! Freight Services (Question No. 4339)

Mr Morris:

asked the Minister for Transport, upon notice, on 7 June 1979:

  1. 1 ) Is there any substance in reports published in the Daily Commercial News of 5 June 1979 entitled ‘Massive sackings follow Tiger Line’ that up to 750 seamen and watersiders could lose their jobs if Mr Gordon Barton’s Tiger Line commenced operation.
  2. Have both the Australian National Line and Bulkships indicated that services will be withdrawn if the Tiger Line goes into service.
  3. What are the (a) names, (b) owners, (c) pons of registry, (d) age, (e) type and tonnage and (f) crew size of all vessels regularly operating between Tasmanian ports and the mainland.
  4. Do all these vessels conform to the recommendations of the Nimmo Report regarding types of ships serving Tasmania.
  5. Is it a fact that the Tiger Line cargoes from Hobart to the mainland would cross Tasmania by road.
  6. If so, would this require 294 road movements per day and an extra 75 trucks to travel the roads per day.
  7. Could this task be performed by the Australian National Railways Commission.
  8. Will the introduction of Mr Barton ‘s vessels detrimentally affect the Port of Hobart.
  9. How many cargo handling movements are involved between Hobart and Melbourne (a) by the present conventional service and (b) under Mr Barton’s proposals.
  10. 10) What is the present usual depot-to-depot service time for a container, and the comparable time under Mr Barton’s proposals, between Melbourne and Hobart.
  11. What time would be accounted for by ( a ) sea and ( b ) land sectors of Mr Barton’s service betwen Melbourne and Hobart.
Mr Nixon:

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

  1. and (8) The comments of the Combined Maritime Unions Committee reported in the Daily Commercial News on 5 June 1979 have been noted. I am unaware of Mr Barton’s final proposals for the Tiger Line service. It would not be possible to assess the overall effects of these proposals on employment until they are finalised and until the likely market reaction to them has been calculated. The report did not contain any substantiation of the figure quoted.
  2. Both the Australian National Line and Union Bulkships have indicated that the level of their Tasmanian services would need to be reviewed if the Tiger Line proposal came to fruition.
  3. Details of vessels regularly operating between Tasmanian ports and the mainland appear in the following table.
  1. Mr Nimmo (Commission of Inquiry into Transport to and from Tasmania) made no specific recommendation regarding the type of ships serving Tasmania.

The Commission did make observations about the possible efficiencies of pure RO/RO and Rail Ferry services operating out of Westernport. Existing vessels do not provide exactly the same types of service.

  1. and (6) As details of the proposed service have not been finalised it is not possible to make definitive statements on these matters.

Only operational experience, once the Tiger Line service has commenced, will show the extent of additional road movements generated.

  1. Yes.
  2. (a) The average number of cargo handling movements for present services would be:

Melbourne/Hobart (direct)- six movements;

Melbourne/Hobart (through Northern Tasmanian ports)- eight movements.

  1. Under Mr Barton’s proposal I understand there would be eight movements.

    1. The reference to the ‘usual’ time cannot be precisely answered as this will depend upon the delivery time of cargo to the depot, sailing times, port used in Northern Tasmania and other such factors. However, for broad comparative purposes the minimum transit time for Hobart/Melbourne cargoes at present is 22 hours while the Tiger Line proposals could reduce this time by several hours due to the envisaged reduced duration of the sea linehaul segment of the journey.
    2. Although details of Mr Barton ‘s proposal ha ve yet to be finalised I understand it is envisaged the Tiger Line vessels would have a sailing time of nine hours.

Federal Narcotics Bureau (Question No. 4346)

Dr Klugman:

asked the Minister for Administrative Services, upon notice, on 2 1 August 1979:

Who are the persons appointed to investigate the allegations against unknown person(s) in the Commonwealth Narcotics Bureau.

Mr John McLeay:

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

The officers appointed to the Joint Police Group set up to investigate the allegations made against unnamed officer(s) of the Federal Narcotics Bureau are:

Assistant Commissioner J. R. Hall- Victoria Police

Detective Inspector T. Pointing-Queensland Police

Detective Inspector D. J. Keeghan-Commonwealth


Detective Sergeant First Class J. Lucas-New South Wales Police

Herbicides Used in Construction of Roads (Question No. 4371)

Mr Cohen:

asked the Minister for Transport, upon notice, on 2 1 August 1 979:

Are herbicides applied to roadbeds during construction of roads in Australia; if so, what chemicals are used and by which States.

Mr Nixon:

– The answer to the honourable members question is as follows:

The responsibility for construction of roads in Australia rests primarily with the States, and it would therefore be appropriate for the honourable member to direct his inquiry to the State Transport Ministers. With regard to road construction in the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory, I suggest that the honourable member direct his inquiry to the Honourable R. Steele, Minister for Transport and Works, Northern Territory, who is responsible for road construction in the Territory, and to the Hon. R. J. Ellicott, Minister for the Capital Territory, who has responsibility for road construction in the ACT.

Fuel and Energy Needs (Question No. 1690)

Mr Jacobi:

asked the Minister for National Development, upon notice, on15 August 1978:

  1. 1 ) Has his attention been drawn to the recent International Energy Agency report which confirms authoritative predictions of a world liquid fuel crisis at about the year 1985.
  2. ) Is he able to say whether the Parliaments of the United States of America, the European Economic Community and the United Kingdom all have set up parliamentary committees to monitor and report upon their respective countries’ fuel and energy needs.
  3. As the critical problems of fuel and energy will be no less acute in this country, will he follow the example of other advanced Western countries and support the establishment of a Joint Standing Committee of the Parliament to inquire into and report upon Australia’s fuel and energy needs.
Mr Newman:

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows: (1)I have seen recent reports from the International Energy Agency which refer to the outlook for oil in the 1 980s and future oil supplies. The reports I have seen do not forecast that a crisis will occur, as such; rather, they stress the importance of adequate energy supplies for future economic development. The Governing Board of the IEA met at ministerial level in May 1979 and concluded that energy supply and demand problems are serious and could produce major economic constraints in the next few years; if nothing is done to change present trends, available energy supplies will not be sufficient to support even moderate economic growth. Australia and other member countries of the IEA have been working towards policies which will help to reduce demand for oil and to ensure that adequate amounts of essential energy supplies are available.

  1. I am advised that those Parliaments have established Committees on energy which examine, inter alia, matters concerning fuel and energy requirements.
  2. At the Parliamentary level the Senate Standing Committee on National Resources has already completed an examination of solar energy in Australia and is currently undertaking an examination of the replacement of petroleum-based fuels by alternative sources of energy.

Use of Transportation Fuel (Question No. 1864)

Mr Hayden:

asked the Minister for National Development, upon notice, on 23 August 1978:

  1. 1 ) Has the Government taken any action to implement any of the following recommendations made by the Royal Commission on Petroleum in its fourth report: (a) to implement practical programs to discourage the use of vehicles with large engines and vehicle components which require the avoidable use of transportation fuel; (b) alternatively, to encourage the use of small and very small engines; (c) to levy high to punitive sales tax on large sized engines and fuel using components; and (d) to attract the co-operation of the public, State governments, oil companies and vehicle manufacturers and importers in achieving these ends.
  2. ) If so, what action has been taken in each case.
  3. If no action has been taken, has the Government rejected these recommendations of the Royal Commission.
Mr Newman:

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

  1. 1 ) (a) and (b) The Government is pursuing a variety of practical measures which will achieve the objectives inherent in these recommendations of the Royal Commission. The Government has, through its crude oil pricing policy, established realistic prices for transport fuels. This policy approach is promoting, amongst other things, an increase in the sales of smaller engined vehicles at the expense of. larger engined vehicles and thereby improving fuel economy. In his energy policy statement of 27 June 1979, the Prime Minister announced that the Government was introducing a voluntary program of national fuel economy goals for passenger vehicles. This program has been developed in the light of advice received from the National Energy Advisory Committee. Under the fuel economy goals now stated, the weighted average fuel consumption of new passenger cars is to be reduced from the present 1 1 litres/ 100 km to 9 litres/100 km by 1983 and 8 litres/100 km by 1987. This should result in savings of motor spirit of approximately 5 percent in 1 983 and 12 per cent in 1987.
  2. 1 ) (c) The Government has given consideration to proposals of this nature. However, such measures could be difficult to implement and administer and could have a significant adverse impact on the domestic motor vehicle industry. It had therefore been concluded that such action is not warranted in present circumstances.
  3. (d) The Australian Minerals and Energy Council has agreed that a national energy conservation program is essential and that a key element of this program should be a vigorous and sustained national publicity campaign to create better public awareness of the nation’s dependence on nonrenewable liquid fuels and ways of reducing usage of these fuels. This campaign, to be jointly funded by the Commonwealth and the States (except Queensland) is to commence in October this year. The oil companies are cooperating with the Government in this area and have incorporated energy conservation themes in their own publicity campaigns,
  4. See (1)above
  5. See (1) above

OPTACON Device : Sales Tax (Question No. 1907)

Mr Humphreys:

asked the Treasurer, upon notice, on 12 September 1978:

  1. 1 ) Did he in the course of the pre-budget deliberations consider the question of tax exemption for a new reading device for the blind called the OPTACON.
  2. Is the OPTACON device included in the list of items receiving tax exemption; if not, will this omission inflict an added financial burden on blind persons who wish to obtain it.
  3. 3 ) Why is the device not receiving a tax exemption.
Mr Howard:

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

  1. Yes.
  2. and (3) the OPTACON device is among the goods for use by the blind for which exemption from sales tax will be provided by the Sales Tax (Exemptions and Classifications) Amendment Bill (No. 3) 1979 which was introduced on 21 August 1979. The Bill provides that the exemption will be effective from 22 August 1979.

Equipment for the Blind: Sales Tax (Question No. 2764)

Mr Lloyd:

asked the Treasurer, upon notice, on 14 November 1978:

Are investigations continuing into the exemption from sales tax of certain equipment used by the blind; if so, what is the nature of the investigations and when can a decision be expected.

Mr Howard:

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

The Sales Tax (Exemptions and Classifications) Amendment Bill (No. 3) 1979 which was introduced on 2 1 August 1979 will provide for exemption from sales tax for goods designed and manufactured expressly for use by blind persons, being goods of a kind not ordinarily used by persons who are not blind. Under the provisions ofthe Bill the exemption will be effective from 22 August 1979. It will replace an existing, but more limited, exemption for articles used by blind persons.

Oil Pricing Policy (Question No. 3230)

Mr Jacobi:

asked the Minister for National Development, upon notice, on 21 February 1979:

  1. I ) Further to his answer to question No. 2388 (Hansard, 14 November 1978, page2796), what is the justification for the transport cost of bringing imported oil to Australia being included as a component in the price which domestic producers receive for locally produced oil.

    1. Is it a fact that the transport cost of imported oil is now a component determining the price paid for all domestic oil.
    2. If so, and in view of the allegations made in the Royal Commission on Petroleum on transfer pricing, will he order an independent review of the cost of transporting imported oil to Australia.
    3. Is he able to state which companies are involved in shipping oil to Australia and what proportion of their ownership is held by oil companies.
Mr Newman:

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

  1. 1 ) Import parity at the nearest refinery port is the price that the refinery would have to pay to import an equivalent quality crude. One element in this price is the cost of freight to that port. A deduction is made to the import parity price to allow for coastal freight where the nearest refinery port to the producing field cannot absorb all the production.
  2. Yes.
  3. The allowance made for transport in the price of imported crude oil is based on the arms length quotations published by the London Ship Brokers panel in AFRA (Average Freight Rate Assessment) and Worldscale. There is no element of transfer pricing invol ved in this calculation.
  4. All oil refining companies operating in Australia import crude oil in ships which they own or are chartered by them.

Higher Octane Standard Grade Fuel (Question No. 3334)

Mr Humphreys:

asked the Minister for National Development, upon notice, on 1 March 1979:

  1. 1 ) Is it a fact that Ampol and Amoco have refused to join with Caltex in marketing a higher octane standard grade fuel which is cheaper than super grade and that motorists in the area serviced by the Brisbane refineries will not benefit from the introduction of this fuel.
  2. If so, will he take action to enable all Australian motorists to benefit from this fuel’s introduction and, specifically, will he review the refineries-sharing agreement among oil companies.
Mr Newman:

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

Caltex is the only company which has commenced marketing a 92 octane motor spirit. Initially this new grade will be available within the area supplied from the Kurnell refinery. A decision whether to market the new grade motor spirit is a commercial matter to be decided by the companies concerned.

Transport: Opinion Polls or Surveys (Question No. 3754)

Mr Les Johnson:

asked the Minister for Transport, upon notice, on 2 May 1979:

  1. 1 ) How many opinion polls or surveys have been commissioned or carried out by his Department in each year from 1 975 to date and how many have not been completed.
  2. For each of the opinion polls or surveys, (a) which Companies or private individuals were commissioned (b) what was the subject matter and purpose and (c) what was the cost.
Mr Nixon:

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

  1. 1975-0; 1976-2; 1977-3; 1978-6-includes 1 still to be completed and 1979-3-includes 3 still to be completed.

Total 14-includes 4 still to be completed.

Road Safety Surveys ( Restraint Devices )- 3 surveys

  1. 1976-Reark Research Pty Ltd; 1977-Reark Research Pty Ltd and 1 978-Reark Research Pty Ltd.
  2. All related to availability and use of restraint devices in passenger vehicles.

Collect information on fitting rates and wearing rates of both adult and child restraint devices: to assist in evaluation of Australia’s compulsory seat belt wearing legislation to evaluate the introduction of Victoria’s ‘child restraint’ legislation to evaluate a radio and press publicity campaign aimed at increasing the use of restraints by children and evaluation of compliance with legislation requiring retrospective fitting of seat belts to older cars.

  1. $ 1 4,76 1 ; $25,64 1 and $20,460.

Road Safety Survey (Blood Alcohol)

  1. 1979- Road Accident Research Unit of University of Adelaide.
  2. survey levels of blood alcohol in the general driving population: when combined with data from road accidents, relative risk of accident involvement can be calculated.
  3. survey is still in progress but total cost estimated at $48,000.

Caravan Safety Survey

  1. 1979- internal Departmental Survey.
  2. A questionnaire survey to provide information for a study on the safety of caravan towing in Australia.
  3. Nil (other than in normal Departmental expenditure).

Aviation Safety Digest Publication Survey

  1. 1976- internal Departmental survey.
  2. Questionnaire to cross section of the pilot population to survey acceptability and effectiveness of publication ‘Aviation Safety Digest’.
  3. Nil (other than in normal Departmental expenditure).

Deloraine Bypass Survey

  1. 1979- internal Departmental survey.
  2. To assess community attitudes to two alternative road bypass routes around Deloraine, Tasmania.
  3. Nil (other than in normal Departmental expenditure).

Australian Airport Noise Survey

  1. 1978- no companies have been commissioned. The survey is being managed by an interdepartmental working group consisting of representatives from the Department of Transport, Department of Health, Department of Defence and the Australian Bureau of Statistics. Interviews of people residing near airports being carried out by private individuals normally hired by the ABS for taking census information.
  2. The extent of community disturbance by aircraft noise around Australian airports.
  3. To date about $5,000 has been paid to individual interviewers.

Non-urban Travel in Australia Survey

  1. 1977- conducted by Roy Morgan Research Centre Pty Ltd.
  2. To obtain information on non-urban travel undertaken by each selected household during the previous week and on the longest journey undertaken during the previous twelve months. A secondary purpose was to assess the potential of omnibus-type surveys as a source of up-to-date and reliable information for transport planning purposes.
  3. Cost: $15,264.

National Travel Survey, 1 977-78

  1. 1978- conducted by the Bureau of Transport Economics (BTE) with assistance from Beacon Research Company Pty Ltd.
  2. To obtain information on non-urban travel in Australia. Questionnaires were mailed by the BTE to approximately 100,000 households over a twelve-month period. In order to monitor the reliability of results obtained from the mail survey, a separate personal home interview survey was conducted by Beacon Research Company. They conducted interviews with a relatively small sample of nonrespondents and respondents to the mail survey.
  3. Home interview survey cost $42,120 (other expenditure, including the mail survey and computer time paid as normal Departmental expenditure).

Major Airport Needs of Sydney (MANS ) 4 Surveys

  1. 1977- Department of Transport- (carried out by private individuals under contract).
  2. Incidence Survey establishing extent by which identified groups gain or lose by effects of proposed Kingsford Smith Airport ( KSA) development options.
  3. $4,688.
  4. 1978-Planning Workshop Pty Ltd, North Sydney.
  5. Economic and Incidence Analysis of data collected in Incidence Survey showing final impact of economic considerations on elements of the community.
  6. $6,000.
  7. 1978- Centre for Human Services, Marrickville.
  8. Hire of single decker media bus with two operators, public address system, notice boards, pamphlet displays and video equipment to assist in obtaining public reaction to Study during Public Participation Program.
  9. $3,150
  10. 1978-MSJ Keys Young Planners, Surry Hills, N.S.W.
  11. Preparation, administration and report on Study’s Briefing Workshop held on completion of Public Participation Program. Interested parties attended seminars and discussion groups.
  12. $ 16,450.

Trans-Australia Airlines (Question No. 3850)

Mr Morris:

asked the Minister for Finance, upon notice, on 8 May 1979:

  1. 1 ) Has his attention been drawn to a report in the Newcastle Morning Herald of 23 April 1 979 entitled ‘TAA sale under review: Robinson; if so, is there any substance in the report.
  2. Would the sale of (a) TAA and (b) other statutory authorities result in a lessening demand on government spending; if so, what reduction in government spending would result from the sale of each of the various statutory authorities that were being considered for sale.

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

  1. 1 ) My attention has not been drawn to the report referred to.
  2. It is not possible to specify what the effects on government spending of hypothetical transactions might be.

Petrol Retailing Industry (Question No. 3885)

Mr Jacobi:

asked the Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs, upon notice, on 8 May 1979:

  1. 1 ) Is it a fact that it is now six months since petrol retailers expressed support for his package of measures to regulate their industry and it is now two months since 22 February 1979 when he indicated his anxiety to reach a conclusion on his proposals as soon as possible.
  2. 2 ) Has he received a report from his Department on similar United States of America schemes.
  3. Have all states replied to the Commonwealth request for comments on his proposals.
  4. If so, when will legislation be introduced into the Parliament to give statutory effect to his proposals, and to protect retailers and the public from the oil companies.
Mr Fife:

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

  1. ) The package of measures which the Government has under consideration for the Petroleum Retail Industry was announced on 30 October 1 978. Since that time the Government has received views and comments from interested parties from both within and outside the industry and is now carefully examining those views to ensure consideration of all aspects.

It is interesting to note that whilst the majority of petroleum retailers (referred to by Mr Jacobi) have expressed support for the package, there are many who have provided me with reasons why the Government ought not to proceed with it.

  1. ) A Report into developments in the petroleum marketing industry in the U.S.A., prepared for the Australian government by a study group led by the Honourable Sir Robert Cotton, Australian Consul-General New York was tabled in Parliament on 3 May 1979.
  2. Yes.
  3. The Government is anxious to reach a conclusion on the proposals but will not do so until all aspects have been considered.

Australian Capital Territory: Rental Housing (Question No. 3932)

Mr Uren:

asked the Minister for the Capital Territory, upon notice, on 10 May 1979:

  1. What was the rental housing stock in (a) detached houses and (b) flats and home units held within the Australian Capital Territory by each Commonwealth Department and statutory authority as at 30 March 1 979.
  2. What were the comparable figures for each of the last 8 years.
  3. How many dwellings in each category referred to in part ( 1 ) were vacant as at 30 March 1979 and in each of the last 8 years.
  4. Is he able to supply similar figures for the Australian National University and the Canberra College of Advanced Education.
  5. What is the average weekly rental figure, by Department and authority, for (a) houses and (b) flats within the A.C.T. as at 30 March 1 979.
Mr Ellicott:

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

I am informed by my Department that:

  1. (a) Detached houses held within the A.C.T. as at 30 March 1979:
  1. Flats and home units held within the A.C.T. as at 30 March 1979:
  1. Houses within the A.C.T. as at 30 March:
  1. Figures for the Australian National University have been provided. The Canberra College of Advanced Education has a number of student residences but these have communal facilities and are not considered to be flats or houses.
  2. Average weekly rentals as at 30 March 1 979:

Australian Capital Territory: Rental Housing (Question No. 3989)

Mr Innes:

asked the Minister for the Capital Territory, upon notice, on 23 May 1 979:

  1. What was the rental housing stock of (a) detached houses and (b) flats and home units held within the Australian Capital Territory by each Commonwealth Department and statutory authority as at (i) 9 March 1979, (ii) 23 March 1979, (iii) 6 April 1979, (iv) 20 April 1979, (v) 4 May 1979 and (vi) 18 May 1979.
  2. If the figures reveal a sudden drop in available rental stocks, what is the reason for this drop.
Mr Ellicott:

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

I am informed by my Department that:

) (a) Detached houses held within the A.C.T.:

  1. Flats and home units held within the ACT:
  1. There is no sudden drop in available rental stocks.

International Air Services (Question No. 4050)

Mr Morris:

asked the Minister for Transport, upon notice, on’30 May 1979:

  1. 1 ) Has his attention been drawn to an item in the Brisbane Courier Mail of 29 May 1979 entitled ‘No Air Fare Package- Singapore’, relating to the aviation talks in Kuala Lumpur held in May 1979; if so, is there any substance in the report.
  2. Has Singapore’s Permanent Secretary (Communications) stated that he and his ASEAN counterparts have denied that they agreed to recommend a settlement in the aviation dispute to their respective economic ministers.
  3. Have Singapore foreign ministry officials told Australian Government officials privately that no agreement had been reached in Kuala Lumpur.
  4. Are further talks planned with the Singapore Government on the issue; if so, when and where will they be held.
Mr Nixon:

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

  1. 1 have not seen the particular news report to which the honourable member refers.
  2. to (4) As agreed between ASEAN and Australian Ministers in March 1979, ASEAN and Australian officials met (Kuala Lumpur, 2-8 May 1979) to give further consideration to issues arising from Australia’s revised international civil aviation policy. Officials agreed to recommend to ASEAN Economic Ministers and Australian Ministers a settlement on a package basis intended to meet the common objectives ofthe ASEAN countries and of the Australian low fare policy. My understanding is that ASEAN Economic Ministers have yet to consider the package developed between ASEAN and Australian officials.

There have been indications from the Singapore authorities, which have been reported in the media, that some aspects of the package negotiated by officials at Kuala Lumpur do not meet their wishes. It is, however, for ASEAN as a group, rather than for an individual ASEAN country, to advise whether or not ASEAN is willing to accept the package settlement. In the circumstances, no talks are presently planned with ASEAN countries individually, but should Singapore or any other ASEAN country request talks with Australia, such request would receive the Government’s close consideration.

Value of British Pensions (Question No. 4108)

Dr Blewett:

asked the Minister representing the Minister for Social Security, upon notice, on 31 May 1979:

  1. 1 ) How does the Department of Social Security determine the value of British pensions, when making allowance for these pensions in the payment of Australian social security benefits.
  2. How often does the Department of Social Security make determinations on the value of British pensions.
  3. Are there any means to ensure that the determination by the Department will be equivalent to the amounts actually paid at the banks to those with British pensions.
Mr Hunt:

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

  1. to (3) The Department of Social Security monitors variations in exchange rates and adjusts Australian social services pensions when the exchange rate between British and Australian currencies varies by 5 cents Australian or more per pound sterling and appears stabilized.

In the past two years, adjustments to Australian pensions were effected from the pay days 18 August 1977, 2 February 1978, 30 March 1978, 6 July 1978, 18 January 1979 and 10 May 1979.

Motor Vehicle Fuel Consumption (Question No. 4119)

Mr Armitage:

asked the Minister for Transport, upon notice, on 4 June 1 979:

  1. 1 ) Would an increase in the use of lower octane rating petroleum and a corresponding reduction in the level of consumption of the higher octane premium grade petroleum result in a reduction in Australia’s oil consumption.
  2. Which 1979 model motor vehicles generally available in Australia will operate (a) at maximum efficiency, (b) satisfactorily and (c) unsatisfactorily on (i) the present standard grade and (ii) the proposed intermediate grade petroleum.
  3. Can he say which motor vehicle manufacturers propose modifying their products to enable them to operate efficiently on the lower grade petroleum fuels.
Mr Nixon:

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

  1. 1 ) Yes, provided the increased demand for lower octane petrol came from vehicles which are at present being run unnecessarily on high octane petrol.
  2. I am advised that nominally identical motor vehicles in the Australian fleet have substantially different fuel octane requirements. However, in general, vehicles will perform satisfactorily, other factors remaining unchanged, if they are run on a grade of petrol at or above the minimum octane stipulated by a manufacturer. They will perform with maximum efficiency when they are run on a grade of petrol which matches the minimum octane specified by a manufacturer in the sense that they are maximising the use of the available octane quality ofthe fuel. They will perform unsatisfactorily when they are run on a grade of petrol which has an octane rating which is less than the minimum specified by a manufacturer. The energy savings which result from matching octane ratings and engine requirements accrue in the refinery system.

The latest year for which actual data is available on vehicle sales is 1978. While detailed data is not readily available on ail models available in Australia, data from the motor industry in aggregated form is outlined below. This indicates the percentage of new passenger cars and derivatives and new petrol engined commercial vehicles in each category. Vehicles which will not operate satisfactorily on standard grade or the new intermediate grade will require higher octane super grade.

  1. I have no information on plans by individual Australian motor vehicle manufacturers to modify their products, where appropriate, to enable them to operate efficiently on lower octane rating petroleum fuels.

The Committee on Motor Vehicle Emissions (COMVE), a technical advisory group of the Australian Transport Advisory Council (ATAC), is assessing optimum economic octane ratings relating to varying lead levels in petrol. Studies when completed will assist the devleopment of future policies in this important area.

Motor Vehicle Fuel Consumption and Emissions (Question No. 4193)

Mr Morris:

asked the Minister for Transport, upon notice, on 6 June 1 979:

  1. What action will he take to implement those recommendations contained in the Bureau of Transport Economics Occasional Paper Number 26 entitled ‘ Usage Patterns of Urban Cars- Their Effect on Fuel Consumption and Emissions’ which includes (a) studies with the objective of determining the distributions of trip length, trip frequency and annual distance travelled for passenger vehicles in Australian urban areas other than Melbourne, (b) investigations of all aspects of the approaches utilised by overseas regulatory bodies in the design of weighting procedures for cold/hot starts for passenger vehicles to determine their suitability for emissions and fuel consumption measurement in Australian urban areas and (c) investigations of the design of test procedures for fuel consumption measurement to ensure that the effect of mean trip length on fuel consumption is taken into account.
  2. By whom will any investigation be conducted.
  3. When are concrete results expected for these investigations.
  4. Will the results of future investigations be made public and published.
Mr Nixon:

-The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows: ( 1 ), (2), (3) and (4). No action is proposed at this stage to implement the recommendations relating to further studies and investigations as set out in the Bureau of Transport Economics Occasional Paper Number 26 entitled ‘Usage Patterns of Urban Cars-Their Effect on Fuel Consumption and Emissions’.

Industry and Commerce: Motor Vehicles (Question No. 4284)

Mr Hayden:

asked the Minister for Industry and Commerce, upon notice, on 7 June 1979:

  1. How many (a) motor cars and station wagons by make and tare, (b) trucks and other commercial vehicles by make and mass and (c) motor cycles by make, are operated by his Department and statutory authorities and business undertakings under his control.
  2. What is the average fuel consumption (kilometres per litre) of each type and make of motor vehicle referred to in part (1)
Mr Lynch:

– I refer the honourable member to the answer of the Minister for Administrative Services to Question No. 4299.

International Year of the Child Sand Castle Competition (Question No. 4383)


asked the Minister representing the Minister for Social Security, upon notice, on 2 1 August 1979:

  1. 1 ) Did Australia participate in the International Year of the Child sand castle competition in Acapulco, Mexico in 1979.
  2. Can the Minister say which nations took part in the competition.
  3. If so, did Canada, Great Britain and New Zealand decline invitations.
  4. Who recommended Australian participation.
  5. 5 ) How many contestants were sent from Australia.
  6. How were the contestants selected, by whom, and what criteria were used to determine selection.
  7. What was the total cost of Australian participation.
  8. On what day did the Australian contingent leave, on what day did it return and in what cities did it stay overnight during its absence from Australia.
  9. Was there an official evaluation of the success or otherwise of the Australian contingent.
  10. 10) Is it proposed that Australia participate in future sand castle competitions.
Mr Hunt:

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

  1. Yes.
  2. There is no list available, but it is understood that 32 countries took part.
  3. Not known.
  4. There was no single decision which determined Australia’s participation. The invitation from the contest organisers in Mexico was considered by several bodies such as the International Year of the Child Events Task Force on which the Commonwealth and all States were represented, the Department of Foreign Affairs, my Department and several private groups. The general consensus was that Australia should participate.
  5. Four girls and two boys.
  6. Australian contestants were selected from sand sculpture competitions held in each State and in the Northern Territory. The events were organised by TAA, Coca Cola and the Surf Life Saving Association in conjunction with the local IYC committees in the States. The competition was judged on criteria related to the skill the children showed in making their sand sculptures.
  7. 7 ) The cost of air travel to Mexico and accommodation in Mexico for the six selected contestants and an escort was met by the contest organisers. The Australian Government met expenses totalling $950 incurred in the course of the team travelling to and from Mexico.
  8. 8 ) The team departed on 24 April 1 979 and returned on 4 May 1 979. It stayed overnight in San Francisco, Los Angeles and Acapulco.
  9. 9 ) An official report of the trip was prepared.
  10. 10) This was an international competition organised to enable children of many countries to meet during IYC. There are no plans for participation in other international contests.

Used Tyres (Question No. 4390)

Mr Morris:

asked the Minister for Transport, upon notice, on 2 1 August 1 979:

Further to his answer to question No. 1074 (Senate Hansard, 5 October 1976, page 1006) is he now able to provide any more information (a) on the cryogenic treatment of used tyres and (b) the utilisation of used tyres in road construction and surfacing purposes.

Mr Nixon:

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

  1. No. .
  2. No.

Rail Link from Alice Springs to Darwin (Question No. 4391)

Mr Morris:

asked the Minister for Transport, upon notice, on 21 August 1979:

  1. 1 ) What were the findings of the Loder Committee in 1965 in respect of the extension of the rail link from Alice Springs to Darwin.
  2. What studies have been carried out since 1965 of the feasibility of extending the rail link from Alice Springs to Darwin and what was the result of those studies.
  3. 3 ) Does the Government propose to extend the TarcoolaAlice Springs rail link to Darwin; if so, when is construction expected to commence; if not, why not.
Mr Nixon:

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

  1. The findings of the Loder Committee in 1965 were that there was no justification for the construction of a railway from Alice Springs to Tennant Creek or Larrimah unless major mineral development were to occur.
  2. Since then the Darwin and Northern Territory Freight Transport Study was carried out by the Bureau of Transport

Economics in 1977. The study concluded that the least cost method of meeting the Northern Territory’s transport requirements was to upgrade the Stuart Highway and that a rail link between Alice Springs and Darwin could not be justified.

  1. The Government does not propose to extend the Tarcoola-Alice Springs rail link to Darwin at this stage. However, in a joint statement with the Northern Territory Minister for Transport and Works I recently announced that a study would be undertaken into the benefits and costs of a standard gauge rail link between Darwin and Alice Springs, and that in addition to economic aspects, the study would examine defence considerations, social impacts and the overall effects of such a railway on the future development of the Northern Territory.

Agreements on Social Security (Question No. 4414)


asked the Minister representing the Minister for Social Security, upon notice, on 22 August 1979:

Will the Minister bring up to date the answer of the Minister for Foreign Affairs to Question No. 128 concerning reciprocal agreements on social security (Hansard, 8 March 1978, page 571).

Mr Hunt:

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

Australia has not concluded any comprehensive reciprocal agreements on social security since 8 March 1978.

Social Security Agreement with Malta (Question No. 4528)


asked the Minister representing the Minister for Social Security, upon notice, on 29 August 1979:

  1. 1 ) In 1975 did Mr Sellwood of the Department of Social Security visit Malta to negotiate an agreement; if so, what were his terms of reference.
  2. Was any agreement reached in principle; if so, what were the major points of the agreement.
  3. 3 ) What action has been taken to ratify the agreement.
  4. Will the Minister investigate this matter to ensure that action to ratify the agreement is expedited.
Mr Hunt:

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

  1. Mr Sellwood visited Malta in June 1975 mainly for preliminary discussions on general principles on which Australia might enter into reciprocal agreements on Social Security. He had no negotiating status.
  2. ) to (4) Not applicable.

Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 11 September 1979, viewed 22 October 2017, <>.