House of Representatives
21 April 1980

31st Parliament · 1st Session

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

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– I inform the House that the Hon. Sevese Morea, Speaker of the national Parliament of Papua New Guinea, is within the precincts. With the concurrence of honourable members I propose to provide him with a seat on the floor of the House.

Honourable members- Hear, hear!

The Hon. Sevese Morea thereupon entered the chamber, and was seated accordingly.

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The Clerk:

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


To the Right 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 proportion of pensionable people within our community is increasing at a significant rate. The number of people over 65 years old will rise from approximately 8.5 per cent of the population as it was in 1970 to over 10 per cent by 1990 and about 16 per cent by the year 2020.

That technological change is accelerating the trend towards earlier retirement from the workforce.

That the above factors make incentives for selfprovision in retirement years a matter of great urgency if future generations of Australians are to be spared the crippling taxation which would be necessary to fund such provisions from social welfare.

That Australia is in urgent need of locally raised Investment capital for national development and that life insurance and superannuation funds are important mobilisers of such capital.

Your petitioners therefore most humbly pray that the Government will forthwith take the steps necessary to:

  1. Remove contributions paid by the taxpayer to superannuation funds from the rebate system and make them a separate deduction from assessable income.
  2. Allow as such deduction amounts necessary to provide the individual with a reasonable retirement benefit as defined from time to time by the Commissioner of Taxation.
  3. Remove Life insurance premiums paid from the rebate system and make them a separate deduction from assessable income also.
  4. Allow such a deduction to take the form of a flat rebate of 20 per cent of Life Insurance premiums up to a limit of $2,500.

And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Bungey and Mr Carlton.

Petitions received.

Aboriginal Land Rights

To the Honourable Speaker and Honourable Members of the House of Representatives.

This petition of citizens of Australia respectfully showeth that:

  1. Australia’s Aboriginal and islander people have been wrongfully dispossessed of their land and have not received adequate acknowledgement or any compensation wherewith to re-establish and maintain a secure land base and a secure social cultural standard of living for their society.
  2. Despite Federal powers of legislation already existent in government and given in referendum by the majority of us, the Australian citizens, the Federal power has not been invoked to give Aborigines throughout this nation, land rights, compensation, protection and control of sacred sites, self-management, respect, adequate health, housing, education programmes and facilities and an end to State and Federal Government discrimination.

Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that a treaty of commitment signifying Australia’s debt to Aborigines giving justice, compensation and land rights over and above politics is signed.

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

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 showeth:

That there is an urgent need to ensure that the living standard of pensioners will not decline, as indeed the present level of cash benefits in real terms requires upward adjustment beyond indexation related to the movement of the Consumer Price Index. By this and other means your petitioners urge that action be taken to:

  1. Adjust all pensions and benefits quarterly to the Consumer Price Index, including the ‘ fixed ‘ 70 ‘s rate.
  2. Raise all pensions and benefits to at least 30 per cent of the Average Weekly Earnings.
  3. Taxation relief for pensioners and others on low incomes by:

    1. The present static threshold of $75 per week for taxation purposes be increased to $ 100 per week.
    2. A substantial reduction in indirect taxation on consumer goods.

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

Petitions received.

National Women’s Advisory Council

To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of Parliament assembled in the House of Representatives, Canberra. The humble petition of the undersigned members or organisations listed below and citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:

That the thorough nationwide investigations by the Working Party highlighted the need to establish the National Women ‘s Advisory Council.

That we believe the Council consistently and democratically demonstrates its wide representation of the interests of all Australian women, as shown by the Draft Plan of Action for the 1980 National Conference to be held in Canberra in preparation for Australia’s participation in the United Nations Decade for Women World Conference in Denmark, July 1980.

Your petitioners therefore humbly pray:

That the Parliament will continue its support of the National Women’s Advisory Council and its recommendations.

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

Petition received.

Marine Radio Licence Fees

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 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 the 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 Bradfield.

Petition received.

Uranium Mining

To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The petition of the undersigned respectfully showeth that the construction of a uranium enrichment plant and the mining and processing of uranium in Queensland should not be proceeded with on the following grounds:

  1. 1 ) No safe method has yet been devised for the disposal of radioactive waste.
  2. The mining of uranium ore exposes workers to considerable danger from radon gases.
  3. The danger of poisonous and radioactive chemicals seeping into surface and underground water supplies as a result of uranium mining and refining could pose serious health hazards for persons living in the region.

Your petitioners most humbly pray that the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled should take all possible steps to abandon or postpone indefinitely the mining processing and enrichment of uranium in Queensland.

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

Petition received.


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

That the government will act to prohibit the use of all public moneys for the killing of unborn children. That the said use of government moneys is an unacceptable government endorsement of a great national tragedy- the deaths annually of at least 80,000 unborn children.

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

Petition received.

Service Pensions

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

Whereas the Government has recently extended the eligibility for Service Pensions to include members of Allied forces, eligibility for merchant seamen remains excessively restrictive.

Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that: the Government extend eligibility for Service Pensions to all merchant seamen whose service took them into a theatre of war and that the practice of relying exclusively on forms T124X and T 1 24T to establish eligibility be abandoned.

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

Petition received.

Olympic Games

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

This humble petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectively showeth:

  1. That a boycott of the Moscow Olympics places the future of the Olympic movement in jeopardy.
  2. That Olympic athletes have taken years to achieve high standards of performance at great cost to themselves and have a right to compete in the Olympics.
  3. That an Olympic boycott singles out and disadvantages Australian athletes whilst other interests carry on a lucrative trade with the Soviet Union in wool, wheat and minerals.

Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the Federal Government will cease to call for an Olympic boycott and will assist the Australian Olympic team to compete in the 1980 Olympic Games.

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

Petition received.

Aboriginal Land Rights

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 Aboriginal land rights, religion, sacred sites and culture are being threatened and denied by the West Australian Government which is denying the Noonkanbah Community the right to consider and negotiate the Amax mining company’s proposals by bringing in police to intimidate Aboriginal people and by instructing the Western Australian Museum to allow drilling on sacred sites at Noonkanbah.

Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the Commonwealth Government honours its responsibilities to Aboriginal people according to the spirit of the 1 967 Referendum vote giving the Commonwealth Government power to intervene in State affairs where Aboriginal matters are involved; and it takes action to ensure that the Noonkanbah community have the right to engage in full negotiations with the Western Australian Government and Amax Co. without intimidation and with sufficient time and information to consider the proposals and with a Commonwealth Government presence in order to ensure fair-dealing; and that, the Commonwealth Government ensure that the administration of the Aboriginal Heritage Act by the Western Australian Museum is not tampered with by the Western Australian Government for political expediency against the spirit of the Act and the wishes of the Aboriginal people who have entrusted their culture, their religious objects and law to the Museum.

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

Petition received.

Citizen Band Radio

To the Right 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 Citizens Band Radio Service frequencies (27.0 1 5-27.225 MHz.) be retained after 30 June 1982 with expansion to 27.405 MHz.

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

Petition received.

National Women’s Advisory Council

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

The petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:

That the National Women’s Advisory Council has not Been democratically elected by the women of Australia;

That the National Women’s Advisory Council is not representative of the women of Australia;

That the National Women’s Advisory Council is a discriminatory and sexist imposition on Australian women as Australian men do not have a National Men’s Advisory Council imposed on them.

Your petitioners therefore pray:

That the National Women’s Advisory Council be abolished to ensure that Australian women have equal opportunity with Australian men of having issues of concern to them considered, debated and voted on by their Parliamentary representative without intervention and interference by an unrepresentative “Advisory Council “.

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

Petition received.


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

The petition of the undersigned citizens of the Commonwealth of Australia respectfully showeth:

That the high level of total taxation in Australia, $2,542 per head per year, is a major cause of inflation, industrial unrest and social friction;

Your petitioners most humbly pray that the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled, should take action to have total taxation reduced by not less than twenty-five per cent.

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

Petition received.

Olympic Games

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

This humble petition of the sportsmen and women and citizens of Australia respectively showeth that:

Valuing the Olympic movement as an historic expression of all that is worthwhile in human endeavour and conscious of the important role competitive sport plays in maintaining health and the spirit of achievement in everyday life.

Honouring the high principles consistently pursued by the International Games Administration of keeping the movement free from religious, racial and political considerations.

Realising that the Olympic movement owes its resilience and very existence to the citizens of the nations from whom spring the participants in the contests and that the survival of this movement is the cherished hope of all communities.

We the undersigned sportsmen and women and citizens of the Commonwealth of Australia by this humble petition respectively pray that the Australian government do all in its power to ensure the participation of a full Australian contingent in the XXII Olympic Games to be held in Moscow, USSR, from 19 July to 3 August 1980.

And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Bryant, Mr Holding, Mr James and Mr Les Johnson.

Petitions received.


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

The humble petition of the undersigned parents, friends and children at the Goodwood School Community sheweth that:

  1. Slaughtering of dolphins will irreparably damage the ecosystem.
  2. The case for the slaughter of dolphins is unjustified and scientifically unproven.
  3. We oppose any action endangering fauna- specifically dolphins.

Your petitioners therefore pray that your Honourable House will express opposition to practices, such as those exhibited by Japanese fishermen, on Iki Island and generally oppose any action that will endanger dolphins.

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

Petition received.

Export of Live Animals

To the Honourable, the Speaker and members of the House of Representatives in parliament assembed, the petition of certain residents of Victoria respectfully showeth:

That the Australian Government promotes carcass trade and that all future shipments of live animals overseas for slaughter be banned and thereby stop a repetition of the shocking loss of life through burns or drowning as occurred with the incineration or drowning of 40,000 sheep on a ship to abattoirs in the Middle East, or the more recent cruelty to horses being exported for slaughter in Japan.

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

Petition received.


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 schools bear the burden of these cuts, 1 1.2 per cent while non-Government schools will receive an increase of 3.4 percent.

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 1 980 to Government schools.

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

Petition received.

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Prime Minister · Wannon · LP

– I inform the House that the Treasurer (Mr Howard) left Australia today to attend a meeting of the International Monetary Fund in West Germany and to attend further meetings in the Philippines and Switzerland. The Minister for Finance (Mr Eric Robinson) will act as Treasurer until Mr Howard’s return on 3 May. I also inform the House that the Attorney-General (Senator Durack) left Australia last Friday to attend meetings in Barbados, the United States of America and the United Kingdom. The Minister for Home Affairs and Minister for the Capital Territory (Mr Ellicott) will act as AttorneyGeneral until Senator Durack ‘s return.

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Mr Aldred proceeding to give a notice of motion-


-Order! The honourable gentleman will resume his seat. I ask him to reframe the notice so that it will be a proposition rather than a recitation of fact.

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Mr Goodluck proceeding to give a notice of motion-


-Order! The honourable gentleman will resume his seat. I ask him to reframe his notice so that it will be a proposition instead of a statement of fact.

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Notice of Motion


-I give notice that, on the next day of sitting, I shall move:

That this House calls upon the Federal Government to restore traditional Australian Reserve Forces decorations and medals without further delay and, if necessary, to make a formal approach to Her Majesty the Queen to effect such restoration .

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Mr Baillieu proceeding to give a notice of motion-


-Order! The honourable gentleman will resume his seat. He will reframe his notice to put it in terms of a proposition.

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– I inform the House that the Honourable Wilhelm Haferkamp, VicePresident of the Commission of European Communities and Commissioner for External Relations, is present in the House. I welcome him on behalf of the House.

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-Has the attention of the Minister for Health been drawn to the wellresearched articles in the Adelaide Advertiser which detail the inadequate health precautions taken at Maralinga during the nuclear tests conducted there between 1953 and 1957 and which cite evidence of later cancer incidence among Australians who were at Maralinga during that period? What action does the Minister propose to take in response to this evidence?

Minister Assisting the Prime Minister · WARRINGAH, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP

– I have had my attention drawn to the reports in the Adelaide Advertiser. I have also seen reports that the honourable member for Bonython said that I had been complacent about the tests. I have made no response at all to this stage about the testing at Maralinga. Of course, that responsibility rests with Ministers other than me.

I am aware that full details of the program and the investigation carried out by the Australian Ionising Radiation Advisory Council were tabled in the Parliament by my colleague the Minister for Science and the Environment on 30

May 1979. Under the agreement with the United Kingdom Government the Atomic Weapons Test Safety Committee was established. The main burden of its responsibility was the health of the Australian population and safety of property outside the range. I have had my attention drawn to reports in the Adelaide Advertiser and in other newspapers. I will be discussing this matter with my colleagues. The Government will be making a statement in relation to it.

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Sir William McMahon:

– My question which is directed to the Foreign Minister relates to the dangerous growth of military operations and subversion in Afghanistan, the Middle East and other parts of the world, and the real dangers of staggering into a world war again. Is he aware of the recent plea by the West German Chancellor to the Soviet Union and the United States to defuse the growing conflicts? Will he submit a proposal to the Government that approaches should be made to West Germany, Japan, India and France and, possibly, other countries, under the chairmanship of the Secretary-General of the United Nations, to request the Soviet Union and the United States to talk to each other to achieve rapprochement on acceptable terms, to recommence SALT II negotiations, to avoid a new arms race, and to open up discussions along the lines of the Kissinger proposals relating to the containment of Soviet military operations in its foreign policy?

Minister for Foreign Affairs · KOOYONG, VICTORIA · LP

– I am aware of the call made, I think this weekend, by Chancellor Schmidt which was referred to by the right honourable member for Lowe. Of course, I do not have the full details at the moment. The proposal made by the right honourable member flowing from Chancellor Schmidt’s remarks is an interesting one. I can assure the right honourable member that it will be given close attention by me and my Department.

Members will be aware that the Government has always considered that the SALT negotiations offered the best prospects of any international negotiations for the lessening of the risk of nuclear war and for avoiding an arms race. These prospective benefits have been very gravely jeopardised by the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, which has undermined the basis for confidence upon which successful negotiations, of arms control interest at least, must rest. It may well be that the level of tension is as implied in the right honourable member’s question.

All honourable members recognise that the level that has been reached ought to be the impetus for further attempts to be made by the superpowers to avert what could escalate into a global catastrophe. It would be appropriate to have a dialogue between the two superpowers such as has been proposed by the right honourable member. I reiterate that I will give Chancellor Schmidt’s statements very close attention and have them analysed by my Department.

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-The Minister for Post and Telecommunications will be aware of the current Telecom Australia wage dispute in which Commissioner Clarkson indicated on Friday last that he was not satisfied that the conciliation process had been exhausted in a real sense. Has the Minister or either of his colleagues, the Minister assisting the Prime Minister on Public Service Matters or the Minister for Industrial Relations, together or alone had discussions with Telecom Australia concerning the outcome of the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission’s hearing of the Administrative and Clerical Officers’ Association work value case? Have any of the Ministers, either separately or in concert, directed Telecom Australia, or given that organisation to understand, that it is not to negotiate with the Administrative and Clerical Officers’ Association over this case, in particular regarding the figure rejected by the ACOA in the previous hearing in defiance of the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission’s ruling? Has this direction, instruction or call been given to Telecom in writing, as required by section 7 ( 1 ) of the Telecommunications Act 1975? If so, has this direction been laid in writing before each House of Parliament, as required by section 7 (2) of that Act? If not, will the Minister assure the House that Telecom is free and unfettered to negotiate in a real sense above the figure which has already been rejected so as to settle a dispute that might severely disrupt communications in this country?

Minister for Post and Telecommunications · CHISHOLM, VICTORIA · LP

– My colleagues and I constantly discuss Telecom Australia and other major Government authorities. It is natural that we take a lively interest in the approach that they would adopt in relation to vital questions of wages and conditions in the Australian scene. The fact that we discuss these matters and the fact that a co-ordination committee exists in order to advise our major authorities, indeed all our authorities, on these matters do not for one moment mean that the Government is in the business of giving directions under the Telecommunications Act, which it is always open to the Government to do. We would be able, if we faced a situation where an authority was not mindful of the national interest in the face of wage claims, which might cause grave economic problems in .this country, to give a direction. No such matter has been considered and I do not believe that such a matter will need to be considered.

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– I refer the Minister for Foreign Affairs to reports that the Indonesian Government has refused a visa to one of the correspondents from Radio Australia on the ground that this organisation has allegedly been unbalanced in its reporting of events in Indonesia. I “ask the Minister: Can he advise the House whether these reports are correct? If so, does he not agree that this action can be seen as an attempt to undermine the freedom of the Australian Press in reporting events relating to Indonesia? Will the Minister advise the House whether he proposes to raise this matter with the Indonesian Government as a matter of very serious concern, particularly as one newspaper report has suggested that this is the first occasion since the occupation of East Timor by Indonesia on which a replacement for a duly accredited Australian correspondent has sought such a visa. Can the Minister point out to the Indonesian authorities that future actions of a similar nature against duly accredited Australian correspondents will be regarded most gravely?


– I am aware of a statement made by the Indonesian Department of Information that the granting of a visa for a Radio Australia representative to take up his posting in Indonesia had been, as the Department termed it, postponed. According to the Indonesian Department of Information, the reason given is that Radio Australia broadcasts reports of Indonesia in the Indonesian language which are untrue and whose tone, in the Department’s own words, could incite and lead towards subversive acts. Radio Australia is an independent organisation which has built up an enviable reputation for accuracy and integrity throughout the world. I regret that the Department of Information has taken this step. I hope, as the statement seems to me to imply, that the decision will be reviewed in the near future.

The Australian Government is firmly committed to the principle of freedom of expression and believes that it is especially important for near neighbours such as Indonesia and Australia to make every effort to create closer understandings between governments and peoples. There are cultural differences which each must strive to understand. The best way -

Mr Bryant:

– What are you going to do about it?


-I will tell the honourable member in a moment. The best way to achieve greater understanding is through personal contact and wide dissemination via the news media of the values and viewpoints of each culture and government. To this end, I hope that Indonesia will welcome Australian journalists living and working in Indonesia. For our part, Australia certainly encourages Indonesian journalists to come to Australia. I already have asked the Australian Embassy in Jakarta to discuss this statement with the Indonesian Government and to make my views known to it.

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– My question is directed to the Minister for Employment and Youth Affairs. Is it a fact that in the financial year 1978-79 35,000 apprentices were financed under the Commonwealth Rebate for Apprentice Full-time Training Scheme, representing an increase of 7,500 over the previous year? Is it also a fact that the Budget estimate of apprenticeship numbers for that year was 63,000, or 44 per cent above the figure achieved? Can the Minister inform the House how the Government proposes to achieve the Budget target of 85,000 for this financial year- an increase of 50,000 apprentices or 142 per cent? Does the Government intend to make up the shortfall by importing even more skilled tradesmen? I ask the Minister whether he now agrees with the National Training Council assessment published in the January edition of Talkback which states:

The plain facts are that there are not enough tradesmen being trained in Australia.

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

– I will check the figures which the honourable member referred to in the opening to his question. However, with respect to the number of 85,000 which he used, I have to inform the honourable member that he does not understand what that figure means or refers to in respect of the program of assistance under our CRAFT program. It does not refer to 85,000 new apprentices; it refers to the number of apprentices expected to be assisted under the Commonwealth’s CRAFT Scheme. That refers to new apprentices. For the information of the honourable member, that means those starting their indentures as well as those pursuing their apprenticeships through their second and third years and so on. The estimate of the Department was based upon an estimate of 85,000 apprentices being assisted, not 85,000 new apprentices.

As to increasing the number of apprentices taken on, it is because the Government recognised the prospective shortage of tradesmen that it has taken a number of initiatives. I refer firstly to the $1,000 cash bonus for additional apprentices taken on between January and the end of June this year. That is a deliberate financial incentive to employers, both large and small- I emphasise in particular smaller businessmen- to take on more apprentices.

The second major initiative the Government undertook in this regard was in November last year to relate the level of rebate more directly to the level of wages to be paid to apprentices under the different awards for the different trades. The rebate was previously related to the metal trades apprentices, but now it has been broken down so that it relates directly to the trade in which those apprentices are to be employed. We have also embarked upon a campaign to inform employers of the availability of financial incentives offered by the Government, particularly through the CRAFT Scheme.

I consider that all of these things will lead to an increase in the number of apprentices. We have taken particular measures to cope with particular shortages in key areas- for example on the North West Shelf, which is an area of concern to the honourable member for Kalgoorlie. We have mounted a special campaign there with the Western Australian Government to bring in at least 1,000 new apprentices. In Victoria, among sheet metal tradesmen, we have mounted a special campaign in an endeavour to overcome anticipated shortage there. I hope to expand this kind of package deal with various State governments in other areas of major project development.

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– Has the attention of the Minister for Industrial Relations been drawn to reports of statements by the Premier of New South Wales calling for an inquiry into the conciliation and arbitration system? Was a decision made at the Premiers’ Conference in June 1979 to conduct a wide-ranging inquiry into the system? Is that inquiry under way?

Minister for Industrial Relations · CORANGAMITE, VICTORIA · LP

– Yes, I have seen reports of Mr Wran’s call for an inquiry, and I must say that they appear to be nothing more than yet another political gimmick by the Premier of New South Wales. As the honourable member has noted, the Premiers’ Conference in June 1979 decided on a wide-ranging inquiry into Australia ‘s industrial relations systems- whether changes should be made to those systems and, if so, what they should be. The Premier of New South Wales knows full well that this inquiry is being pursued at successive meetings of Commonwealth and State Ministers for Labour and, furthermore, that genuine progress is being made. So, Mr Wran’s rhetoric sounds very empty indeed. He did not even bother to send his Minister for Industrial Relations to the last conference of Commonwealth and State Labour Ministers, at which these matters were raised and were fully considered.

I notice that five weeks ago the Premier wanted a referendum on this subject. He now wants an inquiry into the subject. Mr Wran’s statements illustrate once again that he is prepared to go to any lengths to hide his Government’s shortcomings in industrial relations and the damage he has caused to Australia’s industrial relations systems by aiding and abetting union wage claims in what is now a demonstrably futile attempt to buy industrial peace.

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– My question is directed to the Minister for Home Affairs. Amazingly perhaps, it refers to the Minister’s administration of the Historic Shipwrecks Act. The Minister will understand the importance of marine archaeology in Western Australia and, in particular, the work of the Maritime Museum in Western Australia. He will know that in order to protect the work of that Museum it is vital to have the support and confidence of those who discover wrecks so that those wrecks can be carefully explored and any relics preserved. I refer the Minister to the Point Cloates wreck and his offer of a total and final reward of $17,500 for the recovery of treasure valued at a minimum of $150,000, but probably worth twice that amount. Will the Minister consider increasing the reward, especially in light of his acknowledgment of the unselfishness of the discoverers? Does he agree that if he does not do so, the future of marine archaeology will be in considerable jeopardy? Will the Minister also indicate when he will gazette regulations pursuant to section 1 7 of the Historic Shipwrecks Act so that the discoverers of wrecks will be encouraged to comply with the Act and not plunder wrecks for their personal gain, as some unscrupulous people have done in the past?

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

-I recall the matter the honourable member refers to. He is quite right in saying that the Historic Shipwrecks Act is very important in encouraging those who are engaged in searching for wrecks to reveal their discoveries to the government involved- in this instance, the Government of Western Australia- and to the Federal Government. That is the policy of the Historic Shipwrecks Act. As I said, I recall the case the honourable member mentions and I recall the reward of $ 1 7,500. That amount was calculated after discussions which took place between my Department and the Department of Finance. It is not very easy to apply any specific rules to the determination of a reward in a particular case. A lot depends, of course, on the effort which the people have gone to or whether, on the other hand, they have just come across the wreck in the course of swimming or diving in some remote place. In other words, some regard must be paid, on the one hand, to Consolidated Revenue and making handouts to people and, on the other, to encouraging exploration. If the honourable member feels that the people concerned have not been sufficiently rewarded, needless to say I am open to a further submission in relation to the matter; I will study it again. But I did find it a matter of considerable interest and reviewed it personally. I felt that the amount granted was appropriate in the circumstances. The subject of regulations is being studied. I do not have a precise answer to the honourable gentleman’s question but will give him the details when I have checked them with the Department.

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– I ask the Minister for Primary Industry whether he is aware of an announcement made last Thursday by the New South Wales Premier, Mr Wran, concerning a $40m drought relief program for New South Wales? If so, can the Minister inform the House how much of the $40m will be provided by the Commonwealth and what new initiatives are to be undertaken by the State and the Commonwealth in this regard? Has the Commonwealth agreed to all of the reported requests by the Premier of New South Wales?

Minister for Primary Industry · GIPPSLAND, VICTORIA · NCP/NP

– I did see the announcement that was made by the Premier of New South Wales. I must say that I was rather surprised when I read the details because, having been provided with information on it, I find that it is a classic example of what my colleague, the Minister for Industrial Relations, described a moment ago as an example of empty rhetoric. Even worse, it is grandstanding.

Mr Young:

– You don’t want the farmers to be helped.


– If the honourable member would like to wait I will give him the information. He should not be so impatient. I repeat that it is grandstanding, at a time when the farmers of New South Wales are in perhaps an even worse plight than those in most other parts of Australia.

I turn now to the details. The Premier announced that it would cost the State and the Commonwealth $40m, of which $22.5m would be spent by the Commonwealth and $ 17.5m by the State. He then belaboured the Commonwealth by saying that we ought to do better than is possible under the present formula. If we take an expenditure of, say, $70m, it is of interest to note that the cost to the State would increase from $ 17.5m to $25m only, but that the cost to the Commonwealth would increase to $45m. That is a hypothetical example. I am advised that State Government officials believe that in reality the cost to the State this year will be less than $10m. So the $40m figure means nothing. New South Wales to date has spent about $2.8m and expenditure is unlikely to reach $ 10m before the end of the financial year. Therefore, on that basis, we have said no to the proposal that the Commonwealth ought to pick up every dollar beyond $10m. We will stick to the formula to which all States must stick. We will pay $3 for every $ 1 expended by the State.

Turning to the details of the proposals that were the subject of the massive Press announcement, one finds that the Premier of New South Wales is to make arrangements with the Australian Wheat Board to supply wheat at a reduced price of $2 a tonne. That relief has been available for a very long time to States with drought areas. Again, the Premier says that the New South Wales Water Resources Commission will undertake the construction of country water supplies by the digging of bores, et cetera. I make the point quite calmly that that provision was brought in by an earlier government of New South Wales and is a standing provision; there is nothing new in it.

Certain matters in respect of which the Premier has sought change have been agreed to by the Commonwealth. The first is the proposal to increase the maximum amount available for carry-on loans from $5,000 to $10,000. We were happy to agree to that proposal almost instantly upon receiving it. We are always prepared to meet a reasonable request of that nature, which will assist individual farmers. The Premier says also that he would like to see road transport concessions for the carriage of fodder and stock, for distances exceeding 30 kilometres, to be made payable at 50 per cent of approved standard rates for total distance travelled, or 50 percent of the actual cost. That proposal was presented as a great new form of additional support in time of drought but, in fact, it merely replaces the formula under which already payment is made on a tonne-kilometre basis. There is nothing in that at all except a rationalisation of the provision. He then picked up the Prime Minister’s announcement of last week when he came to the detail of subsidies for primary producers to assist them to meet special costs incurred in the transport of emergency water. We have agreed that 50 per cent is a reasonable figure in that regard. That came out of the Prime Minister’s announcement last week.


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


– This is very important, Mr Speaker. Dozens of farmers in New South Wales are concerned about this matter.

Honourable members:

Honourable members interjecting-


-The House will come to order. I indicate to the Minister that I recognise only too well the importance of the matter, but I ask him to draw his answer to a conclusion.


-I will, Mr Speaker, but two or three points need to be made. We have also agreed that the grant payable for the slaughter of helpless and unsaleable stock will be increased from $10 to $15. That was another provision sought by Mr Wran. There is nothing earthshattering about that. We have also agreed that where it is established by a State that a primary producer has no suitable vehicle for water cartage, a contractor may be engaged and a subsidy payable equivalent to 50 per cent of the approved standard charges. That came out of the Prime Minister’s announcement last week. I must express keen disappointment at the way in which the Premier of New South Wales has been handling this drought affair. He knows as well as anybody in this House knows that the State is primarily responsible for drought moneys. Any moneys or subsidies are primarily the reponsibility of the State Government.


– Why do honourable members opposite not listen to what I am saying? Let me repeat it: The Premier of the State is responsible for the payment of drought moneys. Do not make any mistake about that. The Commonwealth will pay its share. For the Premier to continue grandstanding like that is absolutely disgraceful.

page 1971




– Does the Prime Minister believe that the modern Olympic Games, perhaps more than any other single event, epitomise mankind ‘s desire for peace and friendship? Does he believe that the Olympic ideal is demonstrably one of the most noble of all human aspirations? Does he believe that the purpose of the Olympic Games is to let the great athletes of the world vie with each other in the spirit of peace and friendship? Does he believe that Olympic athletes agree to participate as amateurs for the honour of the country and the glory of the sport and that individualsnot nations- compete against each other? Does he believe that the dedication and pursuit -


-I suggest that the honourable gentleman get to the point where he asks for specific information.


– I am concluding. Does the Prime Minister recall having signed a statement supporting these sentiments before the Australian team left for the 1976 Olympics? Does he now reject these beliefs?


– I support those ideals very strongly and I hope very much that all honourable gentlemen in this House will do so. I hope that they will not only support those ideals verbally but also at the same time give practical effect to them. One of the great tragedies over a long period- not just over recent months- is the extent to which the great Olympic ideals have not been pursued in practice. We have come to know quite well during recent events- this House has debated this on many occasions- that the Soviet Union laughs at those who try to say that sport and politics should be separate. It is no longer possible to keep sport and politics separate.

For the Soviet Union to say that the awarding of the Games to Moscow is a mark of approval of the correctness of the Soviet Union’s policies is in itself a breach of the Olympic ideal. Some Soviet athletes who are meant to compete as amateurs in the Olympic Games are full time members of the Soviet Army, but the only thing they do in the Army is to play whatever sport they are entered for. They are hardly amateurs in the sense in which Australians would regard the term. When Lord Killanin says, on one count, that politics and sport should be kept separate in relation to the Moscow Olympics but that on political grounds countries such as South Africa and others should be ejected from the Olympic movement, there seems to be some questioning of the standards involved and the application of those standards in a universal manner.

It is the Government’s firm conviction that there will be, for very proper reasons, an effective international boycott of the Olympic Games. It is also the Government’s belief that Australians will very properly join in that boycott for reasons that have been enunciated on many occasions. I recognise the difficulty of the decision before Olympic officials last Friday and Saturday. But I am also pleased that to this point they have shown quite plainly that their wider obligations to this nation and to the security interests of this nation have in fact been placed first.

After the matters of the Moscow boycott have been put aside, after the time for the Games, all those nations which are truly prepared to support the Olympic ideal should consult together to see how it can be supported free from politics for all time in the future, but free from politics in a proper and appropriate way. This Government has indicated that giving the Games a permanent home in Greece might well be one way in which the nationalism of this Olympics and other Olympics could be set aside and the true ideals of the Olympics could become more evident than perhaps they have ever been in the Olympic Games.

page 1972




-Can the Minister for Industry and Commerce provide any information about the present level of passenger motor vehicle registrations and the proportion of total registrations held by four-cylinder cars? Do these figures provide any indication as to the present state of the passenger motor vehicle market?

Minister for Industry and Commerce · FLINDERS, VICTORIA · LP

– The honourable gentleman pays very close and continuing attention to the interests of the automotive industry in Australia. I certainly welcome the question that he has posed. The recent registration figures for passenger motor vehicles do suggest some recovery from the softening which was evident in the industry during the latter months of 1979. The March 1980 registrations were up some 2 per cent on February and total registrations for the 1980 March quarter were in fact the highest for any March quarter since 1 976.

I might say that this industry- the largest engineering concern in the country- is at present undergoing a position of very significant adjustment. Market conditions in the industry continue to be influenced by a range of factors which include a continuing shift towards smaller, more fuel-efficient cars- I might say that four-cylinder cars now occupy some 65 per cent of the market, a trend which has been evident throughout the 1970s- a disturbed used car market because of the surplus of larger vehicles, the general energy situation around the world, some recent vehicle recalls and basic changes in consumer preferences which seem to be making new cars less important in comparison with holidays and other recreational activities.

These developments have affected individual producers in the industry in different ways and movements in market shares and production levels for individual firms do in fact reflect the normal working of these competitive forces. The Government is in very active consultation with all sections of the industry. We continue to monitor the figures which are produced as and when they become available. As I mentioned in the House quite some time ago, any short term suggestion of stimulus is certainly not a response to the type of situation which has emerged in the industry.

page 1972




– I direct my question to the Minister for Health. I refer to the recent assertion of the Minister that the withdrawal rate from health insurance funds was, to quote him, ‘relatively small’. Is the Minister aware that, as a consequence of the withdrawal rate from private health insurance organisations since the beginning of 1979, the number of persons covered by medical funds has been reduced by nearly 250,000 and the number of people covered by hospitals funds has been reduced by some 500,000? Does he realise that on an annualised basis the withdrawal rate from medical insurance funds alone in the first two months of this year is in excess of 1 1 per cent, and, if sustained for the year, would cause a further reduction of about 750,000 in the number covered by such funds? Does the Minister still stand by his claim that this clear, substantial and dramatic collapse of community health insurance cover is relatively small? If so, will he define at what level it becomes a matter of relative concern for him? Finally, will he take urgent steps to reduce the considerable cost burden of private health insurance on Australian families- the single most important cause for such massive withdrawals from the system?


-The Leader of the Opposition yet again falls into the trap of annualising figures from a very small base. He would know from the time that he was in government that one cannot generalise from a very small base of this nature. In fact, the movement both into and out of the funds- there has been movement both ways- from month to month varies very greatly. So to extrapolate from that and say because such and such a movement took place in one or two months the result on an annualised basis would be such and such, is a load of nonsense. The Leader of the Opposition consistently tries to encourage- in fact force- people out of the health funds. In all his public statements, which have been reiterated by the new shadow Minister for Health, he has tried to bring about a situation in which people will be encouraged to leave the funds so that he can say: ‘Look how many people are leaving the funds’.

He and members of his party, to the best of their ability- everybody acknowledges that it is a limited ability- have endeavoured to encourage people to leave the funds. His ‘kiddybank’ proposal takes no account of the people in this society in real need- the elderly and the pensioners. It concentrates on the young people. His statements proposing the introduction of ‘kiddybank’ also encourage people to leave the funds. The Government is closely assessing what is happening to the numbers of people belonging to the funds. At this stage there is no definitive evidence to support emotive statements similar to those made by the Leader of the Opposition.

page 1973




-Can the Minister for Industry and Commerce advise the House on the current level of overseas visitors arriving in Australia and the number of Australian tourists leaving Australia? What contribution are incoming tourists making to the Australian economy? Does the Minister consider this to be concrete evidence of the success of the Government ‘s tourism promotion policies?


-The general outlook for the tourist industry is one of optimism and growth, and quite rightly so. The results of a survey of international visitors undertaken by the Australian Tourist Commission, which I released recently, indicate that overseas visitors spent more than $650m in this country in 1 979. There is a tremendous surge of tourists coming to Australia. In 1978, Australia received some 630,000 overseas visitors, an increase of 1 1 .9 per cent on 1 977. The early estimate by the Australian Bureau of Statistics of visitor arrivals for the period January to November 1979 is 675,000. That is an increase of 25 per cent on the same period in 1978. For the full year of 1 979 the Australian Tourist Commission estimates that the number of visitors to Australia will be over 750,000.

Based on those trends and on information available to me both from my Department and from the Australian Tourist Commission I would be confident in saying that this year over 900,000 visitors will come to Australia and that more than one million will come to Australia in 1 98 1. 1 need hardly say that Australia is a unique country with a number of very significant attractions for the international tourist. Because of the significant Budget initiatives giving assistance to tourist operators in Australia, and a greatly increased vote to the Australian Tourist Commission, I have every confidence in saying that this industry will be one of the most significant growth industries of the 1980s.

page 1973




– My question, which is addressed to the Prime Minister, refers to the ban on a Radio Australia correspondent by Indonesia, which I regard as a national insult. Will the Prime Minister advise the Indonesians that unless they lift the ban we will take retaliatory action? If not, why not?


-I have already indicated the Government’s action. I think I did so in reasoned terms. I indicated that I had instructed the Australian Embassy to convey to the Indonesian Government the views that I had indicated in this Parliament. The House will recall that those views embraced elements such as the independence, the enviable reputation, the accuracy and the integrity of Radio Australia. I asked that action be taken.

Mr Bryant:

– That is just stalling.


-We do not stall. Honourable members opposite were the ones who stalled in regard to Indonesia. The record is there. I took note of the remarks made in the House time and again by the honourable member for Reid in not wanting to cover this ground. The honourable member for Wills, as a former Minister, should not talk about stalling in regard to Indonesia.

page 1973




-I direct my question to the Minister for Home Affairs. I refer to a submission which was presented to the Government by the

Confederation of Australian Sport. Has the Minister been able to assess this submission? Does he consider that it would be of advantage to the Government and to Australian sporting groups to speak with one voice in the interests of promoting and financing their activities?


– The report referred to by the honourable member was presented to me personally by the executive of the Confederation of Australian Sport at a meeting that I attended in Melbourne. The report is a comprehensive survey. It is at present under study by my Department. The Confederation represents many sports beyond those that are involved in the Olympic Games. I think some 80 or 100 sports are involved. The idea that there be a confederation is a good one. The present Confederation enjoys a very healthy relationship with the Government, through me. I appreciate very much the work that the Confederation has done and is doing. I have addressed its annual meeting. I think the Confederation also appreciates what the Government has been doing through its sports development program and is very interested in the Government’s announcement that next year it will be setting up a national sports training institute.

page 1974




-Has the attention of the Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs been drawn to an article in last Saturday’s Advertiser which reported that 450 service stations are to close for half a day next month in protest against the lack of legislation by his Government on petrol retailing? Is it a fact that oil companies are using unfair tactics such as price discrimination to drive service station proprietors out of business and are installing company commission agents in their place? Is it a fact that the draft petrol franchise legislation which has been proposed by the Minister does not provide for financial penalties against oil companies which unjustifiably terminate franchise agreements? Has the Chamber of Automotive Industries advised him that there will be no small businessmen left in the industry- I have said for two years that this will happen- unless the Government prevents the oil companies from having direct involvement in the retail market within the next three to four months? Will he introduce the original package of measures announced by his predecessor in October 1978 and will he honour the promise to make the operation of these measures retrospective to that date?

Minister Assisting the Minister for Industry and Commerce · CURTIN, WESTERN AUSTRALIA · LP

– My attention has not been drawn to that particular article. From representations made by honourable members on both sides of the House, I am aware of a considerable concern about this matter. The position of the Government, which has been stated on a number of occasions, is that the three elements which were put forward as a package- or four elements, depending on how one defines one of them- will be considered by the Government. None of them has been put forward by the Government for positive action but, equally, none of them has been rejected. The Government has these three elements very actively under consideration.

Mr Jacobi:

– If you don’t move you will have none left.


– Perhaps the honourable member for Hawker will hear me out. The Government has under active consideration for examination and comment, what has been put forward so far as a draft Bill on the franchisee and franchisor question. As I said to the House last week, most of the comments were received on the last date, which was 3 1 March. They are being examined. I hope to be able to take the whole matter to Cabinet very soon, so that it can be examined. I do not want anyone to think, that no work is proceeding on the matter. Quite to the contrary; the Government is concerned about the matter. I will be having discussions. A meeting will be arranged very soon, at which we can start to come to the last phase of our decisionmaking process.

page 1974


Minister for Trade and Resources · Richmond · NCP/NP

– For the information of honourable members I present the minutes of the twenty-second meeting of the Australian Water Resources Council.

page 1974




- Mr Speaker, I seek your indulgence to give further information to a question I answered last week.


-The honourable gentleman may proceed.


– In answer to a question asked by the honourable member for Grey (Mr Wallis) on Thursday, 17 April 1980 in connection with the audit inspection of Asia Dairy Industries (Hong Kong) Ltd, I indicated that I was awaiting completion of an inquiry by the Auditor-General. The position is that the Auditor-General has completed his inquiries and has submitted his reports. Further inquiries are in train following discussions with Crown law officers and are being undertaken by the Australian Dairy Corporation. At my request the Corporation is investigating the appropriateness of certain past expenditure which was commented on by the Auditor-General in his reports.

page 1975


Ministerial Statement

Minister for Trade and Resources · Richmond · NCP/NP

– by leave- I am taking this opportunity to report to honourable members on my recent visit to four countries on the Arabian peninsula. This visit, like the one I made a year ago, was a further stage in the Government’s efforts to strengthen Australia ‘s political and economic relations with the nations of the Middle East. I am sure there is no need for me to remind honourable members of the very great importance of the Middle East in the world community. Before I move on to the trade and economic aspects of my discussions, I want to take a few moments to inform the House of some of the political matters raised during my talks with heads of state and ministers in the four countries I visited- the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the Sultanate of Oman and the United Arab Emirates. In addition to my meetings with senior Ministers in each country, I had the honour- and I took it as an honour to Australia- to be received in audience by His Majesty the King of Saudi Arabia; by the Crown Prince and by Prince Abdullah; by the Emir of Qatar; by the Sultan of Oman; and by the President and Vice-President of the United Arab Emirates, who are respectively the rulers of Abu Dhabi and Dubai. In all these meetings I was impressed by the warmth of the welcome extended to me, by the regard in which Australia is held- both for its stance on a number of political issues which the Arabian peninsula countries regard as of great importance and for our good trading reputation- and by the obvious desire for increased trade and economic and technical cooperation with Australia. There was, however, one dominating political theme running through all the views put to me by the heads of state I met and it was put with great clarity and force in every case. It is this: that the Soviet Union is engaged in a premeditated plan of action which has as its objective the extension of Soviet influence over, access to and ultimately even control of, the vital oil supplies of the Arabian Gulf.

The governments of the peninsula states expressed to me their very deep concern about the implications of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, which they see as something that is not unrelated to an overall plan to which the Soviet Union is committed. They express puzzlement at what they see as the complacency of so many other nations about the Soviet Union’s actions, motives, further plans and ultimate objectives. As I said a moment ago, this was the dominant political theme that was put to me, and I believe that the House and indeed all Australians should give very careful consideration to it. A conviction I brought with me out of my discussions in the Arabian peninsula is that Australia’s oil pricing policy is correct and absolutely necessary in the interests of ensuring our future fuel supply security.

I had the benefit of a number of meetings at which the oil supply and price situation was discussed, including a meeting with the Saudi oil Minister, Sheikh Yamani. We have to accept the fact that further rises in the price of Middle East oil are inevitable. I believe these rises will tend to be more moderate, but more frequent, than has been the case in recent years. These price rises will be designed not simply to keep pace with inflation but to provide real increases in returns to producers. Australia and all other oil importing countries must take account of this in their own approaches to their fuel supply situation. Oil demand and supply are roughly in balance at the moment, and the assessment I formed after my discussions was that this balance, uneasy as it may be, is likely to be maintained for at least another two or three years. After two or three years, it can be expected that demand will begin to outstrip production. I say that for several reasons.

Firstly, a number of the oil producing nations have said they intend to reduce or put a ceiling on their production levels. In fact they have already done it. Secondly, we do not know how successful the big oil consuming countries will be in achieving economies in their oil use. The unknown in the equation, of course, is the future rate of growth of the industrialised countries and the level of their consequent demand for oil. What is clear is that the developed countries, including Australia, must make every possible effort to conserve oil. In the supply situation I have outlined, it must be obvious that profligate use of oil can only lead to shortages and shortages would bring with them serious consequences. What is also very clear- and this is the conviction I referred to a moment ago- is that Australia, with other nations, must follow oil pricing policies that will equip us to cope with a tightening demand situation and the inevitable increases in the cost of oil. It would be shortsighted in the extreme to fail now to discipline ourselves- to prepare ourselves- to follow policies that will stimulate oil search and production and the development of the alternative fuels that will be needed in the future.

I now refer to some of the major aspects of my discussions on trade matters. At the outset I wish to express my appreciation to the senior representatives of Australian business and industry who accompanied me on my visit to the Arabian peninsula. My delegation included representatives from a number of the commodity boards and the manufacturing, mining, banking and education sectors as well as businessmen experienced in dealing with project work in the region. In Saudi Arabia I was also accompanied by agriculturalists and a team of hospital management experts. These people gave generously of their time and represented Australia with distinction. The fact of their presence as members of my mission emphasised the importance Australia attaches to its trade and economic relations with the countries we visited. But it was not simply their presence but their long experience and their expertise in the matters we were discussing that made their efforts and their contribution so valuable.

For many years Australian businessmen- in particular those engaged in selling foodstuffshave been displaying the greatest enterprise and diligence in establishing themselves, and Australia, as substantial, reliable and respected suppliers to the countries of the Middle East. In particular, the Australian Wheat Board, the Australian Meat and Livestock Corporation and the Australian Dairy Corporation, together with private traders, have been active and most effective in the Middle East market for many years. As a result of their efforts, Australia has become either the sole or the major supplier of these commodities to the countries I visited. Our commodity marketing organisations have established a record and a reputation that provides an excellent foundation for the further development of our trade and economic relations.

I believe there is significant scope for expansion of trade in the manufacturing and service sectors. I am confident that trade in foodstuffs, which in the four countries I visited has grown from $30m in 1972-73 to $ 195m in 1978-79, will continue to increase rapidly. But I would urge Australian manufacturers and providers of services in many fields to make every possible effort to build on the strong foundations already established and to expand their trade and activities in the Arabian peninsula. A number of Australian manufacturers of course have been trading with these countries for many years and I recognise and commend them on their efforts. But I am sure there are many other opportunities awaiting us.

The country which is experiencing the most spectacular growth is Saudi Arabia. Two-way trade between Saudi Arabia and Australia is now approaching $500m a year and I believe this trade could easily reach $ 1 billion a year within five years. A major element of this trade is, of course, our purchase of oil from Saudi Arabia- as is the case with other Gulf states- but there can also be a significant growth in the other direction.

I think the success of the trade display arranged by my Department and held in Jeddah at the same time as my visit lends weight to the point I am making. The 56 Australian firms or organisations represented at the display have reported excellent results, with more than 1,800 key businessmen from Saudi Arabia and North Yemen visiting the display. Almost $3m worth of business was written on the spot, with a further $4.5m worth under negotiation. Exhibitors are confident that their participation in the display will lead to sales of more than $2 lm in the next 12 months. A most significant aspect of the display was that almost 1,500 sales and agency inquiries were received, with 17 agents being appointed to handle Australian products and a further 10 under negotiation. At least one joint venture arrangement- involving the manufacture of furniture- was concluded, and I am advised that 15 other joint venture possibilities have been discussed. This demonstrates that there are many opportunities open to us, and I hope the Australian business community will actively pursue them.

The strategy I have adopted in my efforts to strengthen our trade and co-operation with the countries of the Middle East is based on the establishment of a network of agreements on trade, economic and technical co-operation with the countries of the region. During my visit to the kingdom of Saudi Arabia, His Excellency the Minister for Commerce and Industry, Dr Solaim, and I signed an agreement on economic and technical co-operation between our two countries. A few weeks ago in Canberra, I signed a similar agreement between Australia and Iraq. An agreement was signed last year with Bahrain. During my recent visit I initialled with the commerce ministers similar agreements with the

Sultanate of Oman and the United Arab Emirates and I expect that, given the necessary approvals, these agreements will be signed when those ministers visit Australia. Agreements with Kuwait and Qatar are under negotiation.

These agreements establish the formal government-to-government understandings and frameworks within which trade and other activities by the private sector can be encouraged, facilitated and expanded. They provide for the consultative arrangements which allow the development of trade to be fostered and any problems that might arise to be discussed and where possible resolved. I believe these agreements are necessary, but we must remember that they do not and cannot in any way replace the activities of the private sector. Agreements establish a framework, an environment, in which I hope trade and economic and technical co-operation will be fostered. I assure Australian business and industry that their continuing efforts and the greatly expanded activities in which I hope and believe they will engage, will have the fullest support of myself, my Department and the Government .

I now turn to some of the specific areas in which there are opportunities for increased trade and economic and technical co-operation. A field in which I can see substantial scope is the training of Arabian students and technicians in Australia. I intend to sponsor discussions with the relevant education authorities in Australia to explore the scope for Australia to provide education and training in the same way that other developed countries are doing, particularly in those areas where we have special expertise. There is scope for the application of Australian experience and expertise in many fields in the peninsula states, especially in agriculture, mineral exploration, water resources development, education and health services. The Australian Overseas Projects Corporation, whose Chairman accompanied me, could have an important role in marshalling the transfer of Australian experience and technology. The heavy emphasis about to be placed on agricultural development opens up obvious avenues for the application of Australian skills, technology and experience, especially in dryland farming and irrigation. To help in the assessment of the possibilities for Australian investment in agricultural development, I had with me a group of four agricultural experts, who in fact remained in the area to continue their examination after I left. They will be reporting to me and to Australian industry in the near future.

There is a number of specific projects in which there could be worthwhile opportunities for Australian participation. The Saudi Arabian Meteorological Service, in which Australia is already significantly involved, is to be expanded to encompass climatology and environmental control, and there will be proposals put forward by Australia for increased participation in this development. The establishment of a network of road vehicle servicing stations and accommodation units in Saudi Arabia at a cost of about $300m is under consideration, and a firm decision on the project should be made this month. If the project proceeds, the Australian Automobile Association will carry out the feasibility studies and design of the system, sending an expert team to Saudi Arabia to begin work within weeks of the decision being taken. A proposed ‘flying doctor’ service in Saudi Arabia offers scope for Australia to bid for the sale of a substantial number of Nomad aircraft, and for the design and implementation of the service. There is scope in the region for Australia to become involved in the provision of general medical services and hospital management. The medical team which accompanied my mission held discussions on these matters, and detailed proposals will be submitted shortly by the Australian Overseas Projects Corporation, covering Saudi Arabia and Qatar. The AOPC has been invited to submit proposals for a water resources development study in Qatar, and to advise on the provision of personnel to help in water resources development in Oman.

Mr Deputy Speaker, the countries of the Arabian peninsula are going through a process of rapid development and modernisation. The pace and scale of this development is extraordinary and is a graphic illustration of the recycling of oil revenues into the world economy. It means that these countries represent a very large market for virtually every kind of primary or manufactured product, and for services of all kinds. It does not mean, however, that trade can be opened up without effort, and without attention to reliability of supply, to quality and to price. This is well understood by those who have already developed trading links with the peninsula countries. Businessmen must personally visit the countries with which they want to trade, and they must invite their Arabian counterparts to come to Australia. This second visit to the Arabian peninsula has reinforced my view that the development and maintenance of Australia’s political and trading relationships with the countries of the peninsula are matters of great importance, and matters which, in our interests as well as the interests of the wider world community, we should pursue.

On my way back to Australia I made a brief visit to Malaysia in response to an invitation extended to me by the Malaysian Foreign Minister earlier this year. I had discussions with the Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Trade and Industry, the Foreign Minister and the Minister for Primary Industries. In each case, the meetings were held in the most cordial atmosphere, and they reflected the great importance which both countries attach to the trading and political relationship between them. The Government believes it is most important that closer understandings be developed with Malaysia and all our Association of South East Asian Nations neighbours- not just on trade but in relation to a range of matters. I was very pleased, therefore, to have the advantage of a quite detailed exposition by the Prime Minister of Malaysia of his thinking on and his efforts towards achieving a resolution of the tormenting situation in Kampuchea. For my part, I was able to give the Prime Minister, and other Ministers, an account of my impressions of the situation in the Middle East. What was notable was the remarkable coincidence of views and attitudes between Australia and Malaysia. Malaysia certainly shares our deep concern over the actions and intentions of the Soviet Union, and is very worried by the prospect that the fighting in Kampuchea could continue for a considerable time. The Prime Minister of Malaysia is taking a leading part in seeking to devise an approach that might hold out some hope of achieving a resolution of the Kampuchean problem.

As to trade between Australia and Malaysia, I believe my discussions strengthened the basis on which we can talk together and work together to build up our trading relationship. It is true that there have been some areas of concern on the part of the Malaysians, centered mainly on the imbalance in trade between them and us. As I pointed out to the Ministers I met- and I am sure this is understood and accepted- such bilateral imbalances are inevitable when trade is carried on between two countries, one of which is a major supplier of foodstuffs and bulk raw materials. Nevertheless Australia recognises ASEAN ‘s desire to increase its trade with us. I am confident that my discussions in Kuala Lumpur, following those held there recently by my colleague Senator Scott, have helped establish even more firmly, and certainly on a more personal basis, the links between us that are so important. I present the following paper:

Visit to Arabian Peninsula and Malaysia- Ministerial Statement, 21 April 1980

Motion (by Mr Adermann) proposed:

That the House take note of the paper.

Suspension of Standing Orders

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

That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the Deputy Leader of the Opposition speaking for a period not exceeding 20 minutes.

Smith · Kingsford

– Although this statement is somewhat brief- seven pages- it is an important statement which covers a number of issues. I commend the Minister for Trade and Resources (Mr Anthony) for making visits to the Middle East. I remind the Minister that on 5 September 1978- at which time he had not made a visit to the Middle East- I was critical of the Government for suggesting that the Middle East was perhaps not as important as the European Economic Community. For some time we have been badgered in this Parliament with statements about how the European Community is doing us an injustice, which it is. But to have been beating on closed doors at that time, and for a time since, was to have been ignoring the markets in the Middle East. On 5 September 1978 I was urging that we take notice of the potential in the Middle East. I quote myself in saying:

The oil-producing countries of the Middle East have large and expanding incomes.

Great opportunities exist in these countries. For example, the United Arab Emirates have a per capita income of $18,000, which is pretty substantial. I went on to make the point:

We will not get a major footing in the Middle East, however, without major governmental and corporate commitment.

I then said:

The present tendency -

That was in 1978- to regard the Middle East as a surplus market rather than a key market damages our prospects.

Accordingly, it is gratifying that the Government is now recognising the situation.

Another matter which immediately comes to mind is the suggestion now made in this statement that the oil pricing policy of the Government- that is, world parity pricing- is something to be commended. It is far from it. I make the point already made in colourful terms by my colleague, the honourable member for Blaxland (Mr Keating). He said that the Government’s POliCY was a dog’s breakfast. In economic terms, it comes down to something like this: The present world parity price for a barrel of oil is $30. The Government is charging $24.77. It has not even passed on the full world parity, high as it is. The Government has dropped the parity arrangements on liquefied petroleum gas for industry by some $47 per tonne. My colleague, the honourable member for Blaxland, has made the point that if the Government is going to create some false disparity between the price for petroleum and the price for LPG, it is not really achieving what it intends. For example, if the margin between the two is so small, of course people will not utilise alternative fuel. So, the Government is failing to pass on the world price for petroleum thereby guaranteeing that the price remains closer to the LPG price.

A few other factors are relevant to Australia’s inflationary spiral resulting from the Government’s oil pricing policy. For example, I am told that the average extra cost per week of running a car is now $4.36, even though the price under the parity policy has not reached the heights that the Government pretends it has. In the present year, income from the oil levy will be $3,500m. This is equivalent to an income tax increase of 23 per cent.

One of the matters that must obviously concern the Minister is the way in which this sort of price increase affects people in Australia- the country poor, for example. The latest Australian Bureau of Statistics figures show that the poorest rural households spent 9.3 per cent of their income on petrol and oil last year compared with less than 4 per cent previously. Employment also is affected. For example, the Pilbara pellet plant, which employed 250 workers, is not now able to continue in operation because of soaring fuel costs. The Cooper Basin producers are now writing to the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) and the Minister for Trade and Resources registering concern about the announcement on 8 April of the revision of government policy in relation to LPG. They claim that the revision will hinder endeavours to ensure the earliest possible delivery of the Cooper Basin liquids to the market.

All this is happening, yet the Government claims there is some merit in the statement today about its oil parity pricing policy. It is a Treasury policy based on the belief that we should charge world parity prices for everything, including gas and coal. But there is an argument against it, and it is a very valid one indeed. There is some argument for it based on conservation and the use of alternative identifiable resources.

But the present oil policy is purely a revenue raising measure. As has been said, every petrol pump has become a tax-gathering office. So much for the oil parity pricing and what it has done. Might I just add one figure. The index of materials used in manufacturing has risen by 37. 1 per cent in the last year, largely as the result of the Government’s oil parity pricing. This is typical of the inflationary effects.

The Minister’s statement referred to trade and foreign affairs. I would have thought that when the Minister was dealing with matters to our north and the Association of South East Asian Nations complex, he would have addressed his mind to other matters such as civil aviation, which is also of some concern to us, and the way in which the Government has failed to get its act together in trading with our neighbours and treating them fairly.

Mr Anthony:

– There is no problem there now.


-There may be no problem now, but when I was in the area recently there were a lot of problems. Every Minister in the ASEAN countries to whom I spoke felt that he had been slighted. We would like to see some consistency. With questions of trade, we can not ignore questions of foreign policy. The Minister is very anxious to indicate that the heads of state of the Middle East countries have expressed concern about the Soviet invasion of Afghanistanand so have we all. But what the Minister has failed to address his mind to is this question: What if the Arab attitudes towards Afghanistan are not to the necessary benefit of the West? In this regard, I suggest that the Minister would do well to keep track of what some of his colleagues are saying. For example, the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr Peacock) has made this observation:

In terms of some Western perceptions, the invasion, and the consequent threat Middle East countries perceived to their own security, might have been expected to turn them (the Arabs) towards the United States and the West. Quite clearly this has not happened- instead a kind of negative neutrality towards both the superpowers is developing.

Today, from the statement of the Minister for Trade and Resources to the House one would assume that there was no question of negative neutrality. But that is not what the Minister for Foreign Affairs has said. The Minister for Foreign Affairs has also expressed his view that one of the major reasons for this situation is that the Arab countries of the Middle East have one foreign policy preoccupation- the Palestinian problem and how to involve the Palestinians in a comprehensive Middle East settlement. It is interesting that the Minister does not see a need to burden us with the attitude of the Arab

States- as he heard it on his recent visit- on this vexed question. It is perhaps even more interesting that he does not care to tell us what his own reponse has been when he has been questioned on this issue and that he does not tell this House how this difficult question might be of relevance to Australian trade in the Middle East. When the Minister for Foreign Affairs tells us that the Palestinian problem is the central preoccupation of Arab foreign policy, it is difficult to see how it cannot be of relevance to trade.

The Minister for Trade and Resources also failed to advert to the question of instability in the Middle East. He seemed to imply that this problem is one that we should not worry about. Yet since the Minister’s return from the Middle East numerous assessments have been made in the press of the instability of Saudi Arabia. Again, I remind the Minister of the speech of the Minister for Foreign Affairs wherein he said that the whole area could have a potential for instability. We also have the benefit of the expertise of Mr Ian Haig, Australia’s first Ambassador to Saudi Arabia. He is an expert on the Middle East and speaks fluent Arabic. I do not believe he votes Labor. Mr Haig was quoted last Friday as saying:

The community -

That is, the Saudi community- at large is as unhappy as I have ever seen it. It’s not vastly better off than it was 10 years ago yet it is much more disturbed than it was 10 years ago and there is an inevitable feeling that people who get to that situation go backwards.

That is hardly a prescription for stability. Moreover, the incident at the Great Mosque certainly suggested that the Saudi regime has problems. What I am saying is that we should do all we can to improve our trading relations with the Middle East, but we should do it with our eyes open. We should be careful that, to the greatest extent possible, we plan in such a way as to minimise any damage that could be caused through instability.

The Minister seems to think that what he has told us vindicates the Government’s action in a number of matters. I have already dealt with oil pricing, but one of the most interesting things has been oil purchases. Honourable members will know that there was a report in the Press as far back as 24 July last year that the Government was taking soundings as to how it could arrange oil purchases on a government-to-government basis. The Government seems to have failed on that basis, but I understand that other countries, France for example, have had much greater success. I suggest that the achievement of government-to-government agreements or arrangements on the supply of oil should be a major Australian priority. But of course, the Minister burnt his bridges on that matter many years ago. When the Labor Government was trying to introduce a government trading corporation the Minister said that it was a socialist enterprise and should be vigorously opposed. Socialism had nothing to do with it. Of course, we miss the benefit of such a set-up now. The very object of such a body was to accommodate Middle East countries on how they prefer to trade with other nations. In fact, they would much rather trade on a government-to-government basis. Our trading figures are improving dramatically because we are spending so much more on buying oil. Luckily for us, the Middle East countries are buying food. But the issue would be so much more simple if we could get involvement, stability and support on a government-to-government basis. It does not mean socialism; it just means giving adequate guidance and support to our private sector. But the Minister lost us that opportunity. The Minister suggested that we will become short of oil. We could well run short for the possible reason that we have not been able to grasp the nettle as other nations such as France appear to have done. On this question of oil purchases Professor Stuart Harris has said:

  1. . compared with 60 per cent of the total Western world ‘s oil in 1 969, in 1 979 the majors -

The reference is to the major oil companies: . . handled only 40 per cent and the proportion is declining. This not only reduces the major’s scope for profitmaximising but also reduces their potential for determining the direction of oil distribution … It also means more bilateral trading at government-to-government level. Even Saudi Arabia, the remaining Middle East producer . . . through the majors, has been looking increasingly outside Aramco for customers and looking for links with investment by oil companies . . . and . . market outlets.

The point again is that Professor Harris gives support to government-to-government operations. This is a classic example of the Government’s having an opportunity to correct its mistakes of the past.

Trade also involves shipments of meat to the Middle East. I have had constituents who have had no end of trouble in this regard. They have had plenty of contracts but no end of trouble in trying to get shipment of their products again because of Australia’s problems in transporting freight cargoes. Under Islamic law meat must be consumed within 72 hours of slaughter. This puts Australia in the difficult situation of having to get the meat there in time. It can be done by way of air transport but Qantas has not always been able to undertake it and other people who could have done so have been denied the opportunity on the basis of what is called a transport policy. I can understand Qantas feeling that it ought not to have to accept the uneconomic prospect of having to carry passengers in certain circumstances and freight in others and of not being able to cope with the demand. Surely it is important that Qantas be given greater access to funds with which to obtain the appropriate aircraft to carry freight. If the market is expanding, Qantas should be as competitive in it as anybody else. It should be permitted to service the market. At the present time it is not able to do so.

Although the potential for trade with Saudi Arabia would appear to be great, we have to approach it on a basis of intent. This statement is one of intent. Indeed, virtually all trade agreements are only statements of intent. Most of the matters mentioned today are still at the drawing board stage. It is important to understand that Australia can do much better. But we must be able to translate these statements of intent into action. I am always dismayed to find, when we are speaking, for example, about such matters as solar energy, that we have missed the market in the Middle East. That market went to West Germany. When I discuss it with the staff of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation and university people in Victoria they say: ‘We were leading the world on one occasion but did not get enough resources for research and dropped back’. The Middle East market in solar energy has virtually gone to someone else, so it is important to deliver.

The assertion that we must not upset the Middle East is emphasised strongly. The Minister for Trade and Resources has referred to the film entitled Death of a Princess and has argued that it might adversely affect trade. We must be very clear about our attitude in such situations. If we are to say, ‘On this particular issue we should not be complaining’, what are we now to say to the Indonesians when they complain about how they have been treated in the Australian Press over Timor. One must be clear and open on these matters and guarantee in this country full, free and open discussion. Although the Government might claim to be appeasing the Saudi Arabians on a sensitive issue, one can imagine what the Indonesians, for example, will now think about their treatment in the media, anyone coming to their defence- nor should they- over what allegedly happened in East Timor. The Government adopts the attitude of opportunism: It will be all right on this occasion to attempt censorship because that might assist in promoting .trade. That attitude will only create problems for us. Let us be open and frank and allow the Australian people to exercise their judgment.

The Minister spoke briefly of his visit to Malaysia and the question of trade opportunities there also. I have visited Malaysia also. Unfortunately, we seem to have created, by design or otherwise, the conviction among the members of the Association of South East Asian Nations that Australia is far too protectionist. The members of ASEAN believe that Australia is doing them an injustice. On a per capita income basis our effort is head and shoulders above that of the European Economic Community, Japan and the United States. For the life of me, I cannot understand why our Foreign Affairs Department always paints a picture of our being too harsh on this issue. That does nothing for our standing in the area.

The Minister also referred to the situation in Kampuchea about which I am very concerned. Apart from what the Minister believes is the solution, my view is that Australia ought not to recognise the genocidal Pol Pot regime, which murdered 3.5 million people. The Minister is a member of a government that, despite this, recognises that regime. There will be no peace or stability in that region -

Mr Anthony:

-So do all of the ASEAN countries.


-But not the United States or Great Britain. The members of ASEAN have been encouraged to recognise it because our Foreign Minister has been visiting them and urging them to do so.

Mr Yates:

– No, that is wrong.


-The honourable member can speak later. I met the Foreign Minister for Singapore two days after he had met Ieng Sary, the official representative of so-called Democratic Kampuchea and one of those who was responsible for the genocide of 3.5 million Kampucheans. If one looks at the visitor’s book in Rajaratnam’s office one will find our Foreign Minister’s signature on the same page as that of Ieng Sary. There may be no point in objecting to that, but the best hope for stability in that region is to come to a realisation of the essentials of the problem. There is big power rivalry between China and Russia. I say that this Government is adopting a stupid and hostile attitude towards Vietnam and I say so advisedly. That attitude is driving Vietnam towards the Soviet bloc. China is, of course, anxious to see a maintenance of friction if the Soviet Union is involved. The proper course of action for the Government to adopt- I am certain that the Minister would have realised this if he had spoken to the people in the region- is to realise that Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia especially are anxious for a settlement of the Kampuchean situation, not on the basis that they wish to continue to recognise the Pol Pot regime but rather because they fear instability in the region, which affects not only trade but also the region’s future, including that of this nation.

The prospect of getting another flood of refugees, numbering perhaps two or three million should be regarded as a most important consideration in our foreign policy. It is in that respect that the Government has failed. It has tried to hoodwink the Australian people into believing that the major issue is Afghanistan as a result of which a world war could have resulted in three days. It is ridiculous to suggest that we will solve the problems of Iran by imposing a boycott which is limited to removing our trade commissioner but not our trade. Such a policy is hypocritical. These are the questions to which the Australian people want answers. In the last seven months we have sold Iran $44m worth of wheat. In the preceding four years we sold that country no wheat at all. I do not think it helps, from the point of view of saying that we are assisting the hostages in Iran -

Mr Anthony:

– This was all contracted before the hostage situation arose.


-Not really; the hostages have been there for seven months. I would think that there would be very little time difference involved. Yesterday I asked the Minister about the future of the renegotiation of contracts and do not believe I got a straightforward answer. The question of trade does involve a number of matters, to which the Minister has adverted. The Opposition does not agree with his approach and hopes that on the next occasion it will be given a much more objective statement.


-Mr Deputy Speaker -

Mr Bourchier:

– I move:


-The honourable member for Holt had the call. I am not at all sure what his intentions were.


– My intentions were to assist the Whip by congratulating the Minister for Trade and Resources (Mr Anthony) on his speech and moving that the question be now put, but apparently the Whip does not want to congratulate the Minister.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Original question resolved in the affirmative.

page 1982


Defence Force Academy


-I present the report of the Public Works Committee, which comments on an analysis produced by the Department of Defence and presented to the House by the Minister for Defence on 1 April 1980. The analysis dealt with the Public Works Committee’s report on the Defence Force Academy.

Ordered that the report be printed.

Motion (by Mr Adermann)- by leaveproposed:

That the House take note of the paper.

Debate (on motion by Mr Scholes) adjourned.

page 1982


Discussion of Matter of Public Importance


-Mr Speaker has received a letter from the honourable member for Gellibrand (Mr Willis) proposing that a definite matter of public importance be submitted to the House for discussion, namely:

The decline in living standards and the level of economic activity being brought about by rising interest rates.

I call upon those members who approve of the proposed discussion to rise in their places.

More than the number of members required by the Standing Orders having risen in their places-


-The Opposition brings this matter of public importance before the House because clearly rising interest rates are a matter of great concern to the vast majority of the Australian people. They are affected adversely in two ways: Firstly, by a direct reduction in their living standards through a reduction in their real disposable income and, secondly, by the contractionary impact on the level of economic activity generally. I believe the impact on living standards is particularly serious, given the fact that there are so many imposts on the living standards of the Australian people at present as a result of the various policies being followed by this Government. As I have mentioned in previous debates, these cover reductions in real wages, increases in the income tax burden, vast increases in petrol taxation, large increases in the cost of health insurance, the freezing of family allowances and various other measures. Now increasing interest rates are an added factor in reducing the living standards of the Australian people.

Of course, it is indisputable that there has been a substantial rise in the level of interest rates. So far this year we have had almost a continuous stream of announcements about rising levels of interest rates. The announcements began in the middle of January when the Bank of New South Wales increased interest rates on overdrafts over $100,000 by 0.5 per cent. From there on almost every few days we have heard an announcement of another rise in interest rates. By 15 February, one month after the original announcement of the increase in interest rates on large overdrafts, we heard the first announcement of an increase in interest rates on overdrafts under $ 100,000. Of course, that spread right through the banking system so that by the end of March all the banks had increased their rates of interest on all small and large overdrafts by 0.5 per cent. That process took about 2Vi months from the middle of January until the end of March.

Of course, that was bad enough in itself, but now it is a matter for even greater concern that we seem to have embarked on a second round of interest rate increases. Only a few days after round one ended on 3 1 March, round two began apparently with the announcement on 9 April by the Australian and New Zealand Banking Group Ltd that it would lift interest rates on large overdrafts by another 0.5 per cent. Since then the National Bank of Australasia Ltd has announced that it would increase its rates on such overdrafts by one per cent. The other banks have all followed so that now all the trading banks are charging another one per cent or another 0.5 per cent on their large overdraft interest rates on top of the rates established by the first round of increases.

This means that a substantial movement towards a higher level of interest rates seems to have been set in train. I understand that the banks, on top of the second round effect in regard to large overdrafts, have an application before the Reserve Bank of Australia for an increase of one per cent in interest rates on overdrafts under $100,000. Perhaps the Minister for Finance (Mr Eric Robinson) can inform us, when he replies to me, whether that is the case. If so, perhaps he would like to make an announcement as to what is going to happen to it! I am quite serious in asking him to confirm whether such an application has been made. It has certainly been reported in the Press as having been made and certainly the trading banks have been calling in the Press for such an increase. One can only assume, therefore, that a formal application has been made. Of course, if that were granted there would be great pressure for an increase in the interest rates for mortgage payments and the second round would be complete with another one per cent rise all round.

That would be bad enough if we were to have only this second round of interest rate increases, but there seems to be some concern that it would go beyond that. The Chairman of the Commercial Bank of Australia Ltd, Mr Stephen Kimpton, was reported in the Press three weeks ago to have forecasted a possible rise of another one per cent to 2 per cent on top of the first round rise of 0.5 per cent. I quote from the Melbourne Age of 28 March. It stated:

Top bankers are predicting further interest rate rises this year of at least one per cent and possibly as much as two per cent.

In Sydney yesterday the chairman of the Commercial Bank of Australia, Mr Stephen Kimpton, indicated that rates could rise by as much as two per cent before the end of the year.

He did not make a specific prediction but said he would be personally disappointed’ if rates rose by more than two per cent above present levels in the next six months.

There we have the Chairman of a very significant bank suggesting that we could have rises of up to 2 per cent on top of the original 0.5 per cent in the course of this year. That would be extremely disturbing news if it were to eventuate. Quite clearly we have had one completed round of interest rate rises, we are well on the way to a second round and there is a possibility of a third round or even further rounds occurring later this year according to the people who are most involved; that is, people such as the Chairman of the Commercial Bank of Australia.

All of this contrasts markedly with the promises that were made to the Australian people at the time of the last election. I am sure that almost every Australian recalls the promises of the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) at that time to reduce interest rates by 2 per cent over the next 12 months. He said that that was a target which could and would be achieved. Of course, it was never achieved. In fact we now have the opposite- substantial rises in interest rates and levels of interest rates higher than when he made the promise to reduce them by 2 per cent. As I said, this is extremely serious for the people of Australia. It means that individuals’ interest payments will be increased and that their disposable income will be reduced. On a housing loan of $30,000 over 25 years a rise of 0.5 per cent in interest rates represents an increase in payments of about $12.50 a month. That is an important amount, but a further rise of one per cent or 2 per cent would represent a very serious reduction in disposable income of Australian people who are in the process of buying their homes. It also means, of course, that people who want to buy a home but who have not yet purchased one might find it much more difficult to do so because of the additional cost involved in meeting interest payments.

I believe it is very significant that the Housing Industry Association, when it made its submission to the Australian Government in March of this year in relation to policies for this year’s Budget, addressed itself to the effect of increased interest rates on first home buyers. It had this to say at page 4 of its written submission:

Our conservative estimate is that a half percentage point increase in housing interest rates could displace some 4,000 first-time home-seekers who are on the threshold of buying.

That is a very significant statement. It contains some quantification of the impact of a half percentage point increase in interest rates on potential home buyers. About 4,000 would be displaced from the market by that increase in rates because they would not be able to meet the additional payments necessary, given the general limit that applies of about 25 per cent of income being the maximum amount allowed by lending authorities for repayment of mortgage loans. That amount of 4,000 people might not seem enormous, but it is certainly tremendously important to the people involved. Of course, if there are further interest rate rises, additional groups of 4,000 people will be involved for each rise of half a percentage point. The numbers could become very significant indeed. The level of activity in the housing construction industry in this country picked up slightly in the early part of this year, but is still far below that of a few years ago. Given that poor state of activity, I believe it is serious that housing interest rate increases could have this impact on demand for housing.

Of course, there is also an impact on the economy generally. The increased cost of borrowing means that it is more difficult and more expensive for businesses to borrow. They tend to borrow less and to invest less and, therefore, we get less economic activity. With less economic activity comes more unemployment. That, of course, is a very serious development. It also means that more businesses are likely to go bankrupt. We have had a large increase in the number of bankruptcies over the last few years. In 1978-79 the number of bankruptcies was 35 per cent higher than it was in 1975-76. There is no doubt whatever that increasing interest rates would bring about a higher number of bankruptcies in the future both in the business and non business area.

Why have we had these substantial rises in interest rates? There are three basic reasons. The first is inflation. There is no doubt that, if inflation increases, lenders are less willing to lend money than they were at previous rates of inflation. So there is then pressure for increases in interest rates to attract funds. If one looks at what has happened in other countries one can see quite clearly that there is a relationship between the level of inflation and the level of interest rates. In America at the present time the prime lending rates- the rate at which trading banks lend to their most favoured corporate customers- is 15V4 per cent and the inflation rate is 13’/2 per cent. In Britain the prime lending rate is 18 per cent and the inflation rate is 14V4 per cent. At the other end of the spectrum, in Switzerland the prime lending rate is 5V4 per cent and the inflation rate is 2.1 per cent. In Japan the prime lending rate is 4Vi per cent and the inflation rate is 5.4 per cent. So, quite clearly, looking at the two ends of the spectrum, one can see the very tight relationships between interest rates and the level of inflation. In Australia, of course, we have a prime lending rate of 2Vi per cent and an inflation rate of 10 per cent. So we are in the middle of the two extremes that I have described.

I believe that is a very important study because, if we look at what has happened in Australia in the last year, we can see that there has been a considerable increase in the level of inflation. Inflation in 1978 was 8 per cent; in 1 979, it went up to 10 per cent. That increase was directly attributable to government policy, particularly the increases in petrol prices and health insurance costs. Those two factors alone added more than 2Vi per cent to the consumer price index in 1979. If we look at the period December 1978 to December 1979 we can see that petrol price rises, because of the import parity pricing policy, added 1.2 per cent to the consumer price index directly and about another 0.8 1 per cent indirectly. Thus there was a 2 per cent increase because of the import parity pricing policy for crude oil which flowed on to petrol prices.

In regard to health insurance, it is our estimate that about 0.7 per cent was added to the CPI by the abolition of the 40 per cent medical subsidy in the last Budget. So these two factors have added about 2.7 per cent to the consumer price index. The reason, therefore, for the increase in inflation is government policy and that increase in inflation brings in its train substantial pressures for higher interest rates because, as I have shown, there is a close link between the levels of inflation and the levels of interest rates.

Also important in this area is the Government’s money supply growth targets. The Government has become strongly persuaded by monetarist doctrine. It believes that the way to beat inflation is by continuing to reduce the rate of growth of the money supply. So it has kept a tight money supply target every year and it has reduced the target rate every year it has been in office. This year that target rate of growth is 10 per cent. This is still a very tight rate of growth. The target is less than the rate of inflation and leaves little room for growth. It means that we are on the constant verge of a credit squeeze. Every slight pick-up in activity, as in the second half of 1979 because of the rural boom, leads to increased interest rate pressure as demand for money increases. As interest rates rise, the rise in economic activity is choked off. This is clearly what is happening now. So there is reason to be highly dubious as to the validity of the monetarist assumption. There is no guarantee that inflation will fall with reduced money supply growth. It is more likely to be economic activity that declines instead.

There is empirical evidence to support that proposition. First, let us look at what has happened under the Fraser Government. In the four years of its tight money policies we have seen inflation continue in double figures. It is still at 10 per cent and rising. That is only a fall of 4 per cent from the levels that operated in 1975 when the Labor Government was last in office. So, despite that tight money supply policy, we still have a substantial rate of inflation. Also, a study carried out by Davis and Lewis, two Adelaide economists, has been produced in a book entitled: The Australian Monetary System in the 1970s. In the chapter: ‘Money and Income; Evidence from Simple Models’ they say:

Perhaps our most interesting finding is the apparent existence of a closer relationship between money and output measures than between money and prices . . . This finding is itself of interest for the policy debates surrounding the use of monetary policy to control inflation, for it is at variance with the weighting in monetarist policy prescriptions.

They go on to say that this shows the Liberal Party policy of pitching the monetary growth rate target well below the rate of inflation is likely to have a more reliable impact on output than prices. That is an extraordinarily significant conclusion to have reached. They are saying that, if we look at what has happened in the past, if we reduce the rate of growth of the money supply, we are much more likely to reduce the level of output than we are to reduce the level of prices. Yet this Government goes on assuming that it will be inflation which we will control through its policies.

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

Mr Eric Robinson:

– I am surprised that the Labor Opposition would waste the time of the Parliament by proposing for discussion a matter of public importance such as this. When we talk about -

Mr Willis:

– Aren’t you worried about interest rate increases?

Mr Eric Robinson:

– Let me explain why I think members of the Labor Party ought to be ashamed of bringing up this matter. When we talk about living standards or activity, we not only have to take into account interest rates but also have to take into account inflation and taxation. We ought not to forget that in three years of office the then Labor Government brought this nation to the brink of economic disaster. Inheriting -

Mr John Brown:

– What a load of crap!


-Order! The honourable member for Parramatta will withdraw.

Mr John Brown:

– I withdraw.


-I remind honourable gentlemen on my left that the honourable member for Gellibrand was heard without interruption. The Minister has a similar entitlement.

Mr Eric Robinson:

-Inheriting a strong economy, the Labor Government managed almost to wreck it inside three years. This was largely due to the profligate spending which was funded by an increase in personal income tax of the order of 90 per cent. That was Labor’s record in three years. During Labor’s term of office the rate of inflation moved to a peak of close to 17 per cent. It averaged off towards the end of its term to around about 14 per cent. I wonder whether the honourable member for Gellibrand has forgotten that interest rates during that 3-year period also increased by more than 3 percentage points. Let me say something about activity. We saw during that period a tremendous loss of markets. When we lose markets we obviously lose activity. We lose jobs. We have a lowering of the living standards of all Australians. That is just what happened- and a lot more- in the three years of the Labor Government.

Back in office, this Government started the economy on the way back. There was discipline. Discipline was implemented with regard to spending. There was a pulling back of the rate of growth of government spending. There was discipline as to the money supply and that has been referred to by the Opposition spokesman. As a result the rate of inflation was reduced from about 14 per cent at the end of the Whitlam Government era to about 10 per cent now. It ought not be overlooked that in the four and a half years that we have been back in office there has been substantial taxation reform. There has been a reduction in personal income tax rates. Had the scales which operated in 1975 been continued almost an extra $4 billion in personal income tax would have been collected. The present Government has eliminated death duties. That action has helped every person and every section of the Australian community. In other areas we have improved the tax system which has been designed not only to assist activity but also to generate activity, growth and development. In the personal tax area there has been earlier in our period of office a restructuring and simplification of the tax scales with a reduction, particularly for the low income earners. Recently, the Treasurer (Mr Howard) announced that half indexation would commence on 1 July this year. This will provide substantial assistance to families by way of the spouse rebate. This is improving the living standards of Australians; it is adding to activity.

The honourable member for Gellibrand mentioned family allowances. They were an initiative of this Government, and one of which we are very proud. They have greatly assisted families and family life, for which this Government stands in philosophical terms. During this Government’s early period in office interest rates moderated. Confidence, which was almost entirely eliminated by the end of 1975, emerged once again throughout the Australian community both in the corporate area and among individual Australians.

There have been recent rises in interest rates. Nobody likes them; nobody welcomes them. I ask Opposition members to be fair and to see this matter in perspective. We cannot isolate ourselves from what is happening in the rest of the world. We do not live in a vacuum. We cannot isolate ourselves from what has happened to oil prices. Increases have affected the whole world. There is a re-emergence of inflationary forces right across the world scene.

When we look at interest rates in Australia today we ought to be aware that the prime rate in the United States is of the order of 1 9 per cent. In Britain and Canada it is 15 per cent or higher; indeed in the United Kingdom it is closer to 18 per cent. Even in West Germany and Japan- two countries which had previously recorded substantial success against inflation and rising interest rates- we have seen an increase in inflation and interest rates. When confronted with inflationary pressures the Whitlam Government adopted policies which only aggravated the position. This Government has adopted a policy which is designed to mitigate it, to help insulate Australia from overseas pressures. It ought not to be overlooked that for small businesses in this country the interest rate on amounts of less than $100,000 is still lO’/i per cent despite some requests by the banks for consideration of a higher rate. The prime rate is still 1 1 Vi per cent to 12 per cent. We have done very well indeed. The honourable member for Gellibrand would make a greater contribution to the Parliament if he were prepared to acknowledge that compared with what has happened overseas our record is very commendable.

I wonder whether we could spend a moment or two imagining what would happen in this country if the Australian Labor Party were back in office. One thing is certain. We would have a return of the great spending spree, the profligate spending that we saw during the three years when the Labor Party was in government.

Mr Neil:

– It nearly wrecked the economy then, and it will never learn.

Mr Eric Robinson:

-As my honourable friend interjects, the regrettable part is that it has learnt nothing in Opposition. In the three areas of housing, employment and health, the Labor Party has announced policies which would increase spending by the order of $ 1,500m. There are another 20 or so areas of government to which it has yet to address its mind and finalise its policies. How would a Labor Government finance its great spending proposals? Obviously it would do so through higher taxation. The Labor Party is a high tax party. The Opposition says: ‘When in government we will introduce a wealth tax. We will have a resource rental tax’. I suppose it would bring back death duties. To be fair to the honourable member for Gellibrand I must say that he has been very honest about this matter. In June 1978, in a speech to Labor economists, he said:

If Labor does not gain office at the next election, then by 1983 … we would face a mammoth task in rebuilding the public sector- and maybe an equally mammoth task in convincing the electorate that it should pay a higher level of tax to enable us to do so.

There we have the same old policy- more government spending, higher taxation, higher inflation and higher interest rates. It is a tragedy that we do not get more responsible comments from the Opposition on economic policies. As I said, at least the honourable member for Gellibrand is honest. He said: ‘Put us back into government and we will make certain the tax burden is a lot higher because we want to spend more of your money’. At least that is perfectly clear. The economic spokesman for the Opposition has spelt out the policy of the Australian Labor Party in clear terms.

What is the outlook for Australia? It is not one of dismal concern, which is what the honourable member for Gellibrand wants to talk about. Indeed, substantial growth and development is occurring. Activity is moving ahead very well in the private sector, which the Labor Opposition does not like. It likes activity in the Government sector. It likes spending the private taxpayers’ funds. Not just foreign but domestic investment as well is looking very healthy. Only today I had lunch with a group of American investors who are spending considerable time in this country visiting all the States because they wish to invest in Australia. They like what is going on. They like the possibility of adding to the development of our resources. They are seeking and earning rewards. They like the stability and predictability of government here. Of course, that was missing for three years.

It is worth making the point that at the same time as the Government has brought stability back to the economy it has substantially improved many areas in social welfare payments. Our policies have not affected social welfare payments. We have been very fair to those who need assistance. I invite honourable members to look at our record of assistance to the aged, the ill and the handicapped. We have a very worthwhile record. All this is adding to standards of living. That is what it is all about. I am not referring to just the standards of living for those people who are presently employed but to standards for those who need assistance. This Government has managed to improve living standards. It has a desirable record- which I assure honourable members they will hear more about as the years go by- with regard to standards of living generally. Not only do we have stability and predictability in government- they are two elements which people like both in individuals and in governments- but we also have the respect of the world; we have the respect of our trading partners, which was substantially eroded and almost disappeared in the three years of the previous Administration.

I well recall that when I came into this Parliament at the end of 1972 the Budget under which the Parliament was then operating was introduced by Treasurer Snedden of the McMahon Government. After seventy-two years as a federation of States, as a Commonwealth, we needed $10 billion of the taxpayers’ funds to fund national expenditure. Three years later and, as it happened, three Labor Treasurers later, we needed $21 billion. Is that not a wonderful record? In three years the cost to the nation doubled and personal income tax increased by about 90 per cent. The Labor Party ought to consider the matters very carefully before it brings forward such a matter of public importance. The Labor Party’s record on interest rates while in Government is bad. Its record on inflation is bad.

To get the situation in perspective we should compare Australia’s position with what is happening in other countries. In Germany and Japan there have been substantial increases in interest rates. In Canada there has been an increase of S.S per cent and in the United States of America there has been an increase of 8.5 per cent in the prime rate. Australia has done very well indeed. We have seen an improvement in the housing sector. I was surprised to hear the honourable member for Gellibrand trying to create a dismal picture of the housing field. There has been an increase of more than 10 per cent in housing commencements in Australia over the last year. It is much to this Government’s credit that it has been able to get inflation more under control and do well when compared with member countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and our trading partners and competitors and yet has managed to give taxation relief and give encouragement to industries. We have also seen confidence emerging in the housing industry, which is so important for the future.

One of the big decisions the Australian people will have to make as we move towards the end of the year is whether they want to see a continuation of those sorts of policies which have restored confidence and Government credibility in the eyes of the public, which are making people feel secure in the development of the country and which encourage overseas investors to come to Australia to take part in the development of the country, not only in the improvement of the manufacturing industry but also in the supplying of energy to the world and in increasing

Australia’s capacity to be a net exporter of energy. Whilst we are going through a difficult period for interest rates we can claim a great deal of credit. In fact, any objective observer would say to the honourable member for Gellibrand what objective observers say to me. They say: You have done very well in this country. Your record since you have been in government is one of the better records throughout the world’. There is no doubt that not only do they recognise that fact but also, as members of the Labor Party know, the Australian community recognises it. That attitude will be reflected at the appropriate time in the ballot box. The Government rejects the matter of public importance raised by the Opposition.

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


-We have heard quite a lot from the Minister for Finance (Mr Eric Robinson), mainly propaganda about the past and fantasies about the future. He has told us very little about the present. He spoke mainly in terms of diverting us from the matter which is before the House. For example, he talked about taxation. All I can equate with the views of the Fraser Government on taxation is a whole series of broken promises. We have had on-again, off-again indexation. We have had promises of tax reductions. We have the greatest taxing Government in Australia’s history. We have record indirect taxation, if we want to talk about records. The Minister talked about interest rates and the business community. In the small business sector we have at present record bankruptcies. The matter of public importance before the House is in these terms:

The decline in living standards and the level of economic activity being brought about by rising interest rates.

I regard that as being almost self-evident. That is what is happening. When interest rates rise and when people ‘s rates of income do not rise- that is the Government’s policy also- of course, living standards drop. Of course we will not have increased economic activity if interest rates rise as they are rising. That is straightforward common sense. The last time the honourable member for Gellibrand (Mr Willis) and I raised these matters we were accused by an honourable member from the Government side who followed us in the debate of engaging in a negative tirade, unsubstantiated smears, innuendoes and deliberate mistruths. Of course, interest rates rose due to economic conditions. The same economic conditions have prevailed throughout the time of this Government.

I am now a full-blown member of the mortgage belt. I am paying off two houses. I am doing so because I cannot sell a house in Canberra due to the Fraser Government’s policies in the Australian Capital Territory. So I have a personal interest in this matter. Putting that aside, the repayments on a $25,000 home, with the latest increase in interest rates of 0.5 per cent, will rise from $ 198 a month to $208 a month. I cannot go through all the permutations of what the rise really means for each person because the amount that individuals are paying off is different. By implication, what we are saying is that the Government is at fault; it has delayed for too long. The Government, of course, has been arguing hypothetically about what would have happened had Labor been in power, et cetera. What the honourable member for Gellibrand and I wish to point out is simply that economic forces, economic indicators, have been acting for some time to ensure that interest rates would rise. Yet the Government has been denying that they would rise. It has been compounding the situation by holding interest rates down in some instances. In other words, it has been making foolish promises and statements. It has been very coy. For some time bank interest rates were politically suppressed and under tension. The interest rates leapfrog from 0.5 per cent to one per cent on overdrafts and the rise by 0.5 per cent on other bank loans over the past two months are understandable and were perceivable. The Government delayed in making the adjustments to the inevitable.

I do not know why the Treasurer (Mr Howard), the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) and the Leader of the National Country Party, the Minister for Trade and Resources (Mr Anthony) keep on playing King Canute in regard to interest rates. The domestic and international pressures are known and understood. The economic trade-offs and compromises that compose and confuse economic policy-making by this Government are seen by all informed observers. The Government’s position of not saying anything which is of potential embarrassment to itself is on a par with the tactics it used in the 1977 election campaign. The Minister for Trade and Resources was going to eat his hat if interest rates did not drop by 2.0 per cent in the following 12 months and the Prime Minister made a very firm promise. I will not go over that, it is simply another broken promise. But worse than that, it reflects fundamental economic dishonesty in trying to convince the Australian electorate that interest rates would do anything but rise.

The economic fact is that for some time the Government has been faced with a choice between a higher interest rate structure or a tighter anti-inflationary policy. The Government itself has argued, for example, that by keeping the money supply at 10 per cent and by keeping inflation in check with the Budget deficit it has been able to some degree to keep interest rates below what they might otherwise have been. The Government complicates its own argument with its petrol pricing policy which, although it helps with the deficit, adds to inflation. A similar situation applies to health insurance. Whichever way we go there are trade-offs in this area. The Opposition is trying to argue economically and not simply to bandy around political slogans. The fact is that most economic forces are acting for higher interest rates.

If the money supply is tightened by the end of this financial year, the professional bond market will lose confidence and will demand an interest rate structure around a new medium to long term bond rate which will drift as high as 1 1 per cent. Pressure is exerted on the Australian economy at present by the United States’ economy. In that country overdraft rates are now up to 20 per cent. The point needs to be made that unless the Government is prepared to vary the exchange rate up and down in a flexible manner we will be tied to the moves in the world economy generally and in the United States economy particularly. If we have a fixed exchange rate, the money supply and interest rates are particularly susceptible to international forces. The Government is prepared to devalue but it is not prepared to revalue due to the National Country Party’s tying the Government’s arm behind its back. We can go back to the McMahon Government in 1 972 and what followed for an example of that.

The Australian economy is basically strong. There is no reason why we must follow the world rates. We should maximise on our energy rich national advantage. If we allowed a revaluation to take place, capital inflow would fund development expenditures at home. That would be the reverse of what is occurring now. I am not necessarily advocating revaluation; I am pointing out the trade-offs that are involved and what option the Government has gone for. It has gone for the option of holding the money supply at 10 per cent and of using all this petrol money to hold the deficit down. No doubt all the resource projects will be trotted out at the next election and jobs will flow from this. But we should realise that with interest rates as high as 20 per cent in the United States and rising quickly in Japan, many of these resource projects will not get off the ground. If the Government is not prepared to do anything about exchange rates, is not prepared to expand the deficit and is also taxing heavily, it simply follows that interest rates will rise. The Government is taxing heavily. As has been said before, every petrol bowser is a branch of the Australian Taxation Office. The Government is taxing heavily through indirect tax. Income tax was not reduced in a minipackagethere is to be some juggling of figures on 1 July- again because of the deficit, because of the trade-offs, because of the option that the Government has taken.

To get on to a side issue, we need more openness on behalf of the Reserve Bank of Australia. There should be more details in the weekly Reserve Bank balance sheet. I think we need much more information on the long term views of the monetary sector. The Bank was rather reticent when it appeared before the Campbell Committee. I think that was a bad thing. What I am saying is that the Government, the monetary authorities or whatever have made a decision to try to keep the money supply at 10 per cent and to allow interest rates to rise. They should face squarely that decision and the effects that will flow from it. What the Government is doing buttresses the long term situation but complicates the shorter term situation. Credit and capital markets are in a paradoxical maze during these periods of shifts in interest rates. We can obtain bank credit at 10.5 per cent at present and put that money into Commonwealth securities at 11.8 per cent. We have these paradoxes at any time. Even worse, it is far from certain that interest rate rises have stopped. It is futile for the Government to deny that the choice it has made does not predicate higher rates. I can point to plenty of predictions by informed observers. For example, the Chairman of the Commercial Bank of Australia, Mr Stephen Kimpton, indicated that rates could rise by as much as 2 per cent before the end of the year. The same has been said in articles in Syntec and articles by other informed observers of the capital market.

What is the effect of the Government’s choice? There is concern in the rural sector over the financing of the stocks that it has acquired over the past months, and now there is a drought and the resultant lower cattle prices. There is the concern with respect to development projects, about which I have already spoken. There is a concern on the part of small businesses. The situation in relation to small overdrafts and the record bankruptcies will affect small businesses. There is the effect on local government. Rates have gone up substantially. Interest rates on borrowings for periods less than 10 years have increased from 10 per cent in November 1977 to 1 1.6 per cent in March 1980. Interest rates on borrowings for over 10 years have increased from 10.3 per cent to 11.7 per cent over the same period. That means less works and less employment.

Of course, the most important effect is that on housing. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr Hayden) on 20 February last year and throughout last year predicted that interest rises would seep through into the housing sector. He was pooh-poohed but he has been right again. It has already gone up by 0.5 per cent and will probably go up by one per cent. It is not just the repayments that affect the housing sector, it is also the borrowing ability. For example, for a family on average weekly earnings, a one per cent rise will reduce the borrowing capacity by $2,000.

The Housing Industry Association has already pointed out to the Government that for every 0.5 per cent increase in interest rates, some 4,000 first time home seekers will be displaced. The deposit gap for many would be borrowers is going to increase by up to $3,000. That is why the Labor Party’s policy is to put funds into the housing industry so that these borrowers can increase the amount that they can put on deposit and bridge the deposit gap. By doing this in the housing area and in so many other areas we can add to the building that is going on in this country; we can keep down the amount of repayments; and we can add to the employment figure in this country in this most important industry, the housing industry.


Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.

Mr Bryant:

– I raise a point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker. I draw your attention to a recent ruling of the Speaker of the House of Commons about the courtesy due to members who are speaking by those who have spoken in a debate remaining in the House during that debate. I wonder whether you would bring this matter to the notice of the Minister for Finance who seems to lack the sense of courtesy to stay and listen to the debate.


-The honourable member’s remarks will stand.


-This matter of public importance gives the Government another opportunity to debate its economic policies as opposed to the Australian Labor Party’s record over the period 1972-75-not only that but also what the Government proposes for the future. It always amazes me the limits to which the Opposition will go to spread gloom and despair throughout this country where, in actual fact, no such gloom or despair is warranted nor do the figures show it. If we just take a step back in history we come to the period when Labor was in office. It undermined the security of every family through its economic incompetence and runaway inflation, it reduced the value of payments to disadvantaged family units and it taxed Australian families to despair. Yet it still wishes to debate these matters.

If the Opposition is not debating interest rates it is something else that the Opposition can tack a flag to and fly. For instance, last week or the week before it might have been taxation that influenced the standards of living and the levels of economic growth or overseas investment. That was the subject of a recent debate. It might also have been trade, unemployment, wages, oil prices, which it has raised recently, health costs and things like that. Now the Opposition has raised this matter on interest rates.

However, I think it is fair enough that we just debate this matter of public importance by itself and compare the results at the moment with what happened in the decade just past. I have the figures for interest rates that were taken as the standard for Australia’s borrowing policy for the years from January 1972 up to the present time. If we say interest rates have a direct relationship to standards of living, this means that between January 1973 and January 1975, the period when the Labor Party was in office, the standards of living in Australia halved because that is basically the rate at which interest rates rose in that time; they doubled. So it is a nonsense to suggest that the standards of living are affected only by interest rates.

The most important matter that is being debated here today is interest rates in relation to housing. Interest rates rose from 7 per cent in 1973 to 10 per cent in 1975, which is the same 10 per cent that we are debating today. On that basis, according to the Opposition, a drop or a change in the economy indicators shows the drop or change in standards of living. It is just a fiction and, as I said before, a nonsense. Let us also look at the comparative situations that apply overseas at this time. Many figures have been mentioned, but I would like to indicate that Australia ‘s rate stands very well in comparison with interest rates on amounts under $100,000- which I believe is 10.5 per cent- which apply throughout the world. The prime borrowing rate in Great Britain is 18 per cent, in France 15 per cent and in Holland 14 per cent. The United States figure is fluctuating and has nearly reached a figure of 20 per cent. Australia’s interest rates will continue to be far lower than those in the rest of the world as long as we continue to follow the economic policies which have kept our inflation rate below that of the rest of the world. I have just indicated how bad the interest rates are overseas.

During the past 12 months, the Australian prime borrowing bank lending rate has gone up by 1.5 per cent. The Government has been strongly criticised, not only in this debate but also in other debates, for this. This rise of 1.5 per cent compares favourably with the 2.25 per cent increase in Germany which has, for a long time, been held up as the world ‘s best economy. It also compares favourably with the 3 per cent rise over the same period in the United Kingdom, the 4.7 per cent rise in Japan, that great manufacturing nation and the 5.5 per cent rise in Canada. The jump of 8.5 per cent in interest rates in the United States is almost six times the increase Australia has suffered. Despite all the Labor Party’s bombast in this debate and others that Party has not been able to come up with any positive policies that would reduce interest rates; let alone keep the rate of increase so far below the rest of the world. Its record whilst in government would indicate that it is no master of that. On the contrary, Labor’s policies would inevitably mean a sudden and dramatic worsening of the Australian interest rates by creating a massive shortage of money for the private enterprise sector. One matter that was raised in this debate was that relating to the increase in the money supply. Figures that I have here indicate that at one stage in 1973 the volume of money increased by 2 1.3 per cent, in 1975 by 20.6 per cent and in 1 979 under this Government by 1 1 .6 per cent. So this debate is a pure mischief and a nonsense.

Let us look at other things which affect standards of living and which have not been mentioned here to any great extent. Indexation of pensions was something that was denied to pensioners by the Labor Party. It would not have a bar of indexation. This Government has introduced half-yearly indexation which ensures that the same real value of the pension is retained in spite of the fact that it is indexed on a figure that does not affect the pensioners themselves. The health insurance costs and the oil prices on the admission of the Labor Party in this afternoon’s debate, have meant an increase of some 2.5 per cent in that inflation rate. So 13 per cent of Australia’s population, the pensioners, is protected. In relation to employment, within the last 12 months an additional 150,000 to 160,000 job vacancies have been made available to Australians. That is the figure that I seem to remember. If that does not improve standards of living and does not indicate an economic recovery, I would like to know what does.

Savings are up to record heights at the moment. In fact, one of the problems in Australia is that savings are so high. If savings were put to work in fields of development and expansion within the energy, resource areas these funds would be unlocked and would do very well for the Australian economy recovery pattern. In relation to interest rates in respect of housing under this Government, as I have indicated, there has been no change over the period that it has been in office. In fact, interest rates did reduce slightly during that time. This Government has introduced a home savings grant that is welcome. That means something in comparison with the pittance that the Labor .Party was prepared to give. The building industry is now experiencing not a boom condition, but a quite satisfactory condition. A statement in this House this afternoon indicated that people from overseas are prepared to visit Australia and to spend money here to get away from their own economies and the high costs that exist in their countries. While we have a wage policy and an economic policy, the whole economy will be better served. We can compete more actively” with the rest of the world. This I believe is one of the good records of this Government.

The comparative, inflation rate already indicated by the honourable member for Gellibrand (Mr Willis) is an important factor in the standards of living. Do we have to remind the Opposition that the inflation rate rose from under 5 per cent in 1972 “to a high of 17 per cent during the term of office of that Labor Government? The figure of 10 per cent which applied until last December compares exceptionally well with that of the rest of the world. Again if we consider the inflation rate of the United Kingdom and the United States of America, our inflation rate is well below the inflation rates of those countries. This is an indication of a sound economy. Our overseas rural exports are estimated to be up by 40 per cent this year, as also are farm incomes. That is another indication in another sector of the economy that the Australian people will have improved standards of living. Only a prolonged drought will prevent that happening. Surely the Australian Labor Party will not propose for discussion a matter of public importance suggesting that that is our fault.

The petrol policy of the Labor Party, once again, will reduce the standard of living. If we do not come to grips with the requirements of a sound oil policy now, our children and grandchildren will suffer the greatest reduction in the standard of living and Australia will suffer an economic downturn that will be without parallel. Members of the Labor Party come into the House to complain, but what is their alternative policy? It is exactly the same as the Government’s policy except that the Labor Party would put a resource tax on companies active in resource related fields. Oil exploration has tripled in the last three years. I think that record vindicates whatever might be additional policies adopted by the Government. To ensure an enconomic revival and to maintain our standard of living Australia needs increased productivity in every aspect including resources and labour. The Australian Labor Party would assist itself and this nation by looking at the real Australian scene and not that of the gloom and despair that it is always prepared to dig up. It would, as a party, become more productive if it was to accept the situation as we see it throughout the nation and the world today. Labor would then be more acceptable as a political party to the public.

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

page 1992



Motion ( by Mr Viner )- by leave- proposed:

The the following Orders of the Day, Government Business, be discharged:

No. 18 Company Take-overs Bill 1979: Second Reading- Resumption of debate.

No. 19 Company Take-overs (Fees) Bill 1979: Second Reading- Resumption of debate.

No. 20 Advance to the Minister for Finance 1977-78- Statement of Expenditure: Consideration in Committee.

No. 21 Advance to the Minister for Finance 1978-79 - Statement of Expenditure: Consideration in Committee.


-I rise to express my concern at the removal from the Notice Paper of two items. The first is:

Advance to the Minister for Finance 1977-78- Statement of Expenditure: Consideration in Committee.

The matter was placed on the Notice Paper on 22 August 1978 but it was not called on for discussion. The second item is:

Advance to the Minister for Finance 1978-79- Statement of Expenditure: Consideration in Committee.

Debate was adjourned on 30 August 1 979. 1 wish to express my concern at the practice which has always been existent in this House and in the other place- but which has continued to increase- never to discuss the Advance to the Minister for Finance.

It has been the practice for many years for this matter to be referred to the Joint Committee of Public Accounts for consideration. I refer to some information which appeared in the 1 73rd report of the Joint Committee of Public Accounts which was presented to the Parliament on 21 November 1 978 on the subject of the Advance to the Minister for Finance for the year ended 30 June 1978. 1 wish to quote a bit of the history of the Advance to the Treasurer, as it then was- it is now known as the Advance to the Minister for Finance- to illustrate why I consider the matter should be debated in this House and not merely passed or, as is now proposed, discharged from the Notice Paper. It may be of interest to members of this House to know that in the 1977-78 financial year the amount which was appropriated under Appropriation Act (No. 1) was $118m. Under Appropriation Act (No. 2) the sum was $108m. That is a total of $226m. This matter has, I would say, been dealt with cursorily by this Parliament. I include the Senate also in that comment. In the 1978-79 financial year, the amount advanced in the Appropriation Act (No. 1) was $125m. The amount advanced under the Appropriation Act (No. 2) was $100m. That is a total of $225m. It appears to me that that appropriation also was cursorily dealt with by this Parliament.

For the benefit of honourable members, I will give some information on this matter. I feel quite deeply about the fact that matters of such moment involving sums of such magnitude are cursorily dealt with by the House of Representatives and the Senate. The Advance to the Minister for Finance, which was formerly called the Advance to the Treasurer, is authorised by the annual appropriation Acts and is made available to the Minister for issue in accordance with the terms of the appropriation and section 36A of the Audit Act. Two such appropriations are included both in the supply Bills which are introduced during the autumn sittings and in the appropriation Bills which are introduced during the Budget sittings. Further appropriations for additional advances have on occasions been made in previous years by additional supply Bills or appropriation Bills. I quote a couple of examples. The report of the Joint Committee of Public Accounts states:

Supply Bill (No. 3) 1971-72 included a further $5 million for the No. 1 Advance; following the December 1972 election and the re-arrangement of departmental functions, which made it necessary to supplement the Advance that was provided in Appropriation Act (No. 1) 1972-73, an additional Appropriation Bill included a further $ 1 5 million for the No. 1 Advance.

For the financial year 1977-78 -

We are at the present time debating whether this item should be wiped from the Notice Paper- an amount of $118 million was provided under Division 310/1- Advance to the Minister for Finance in Appropriation Act (No. 1 ) to enable the Minister for Finance-

  1. to make advances that will be recovered during the financial year, in respect of expenditure that is expenditure for the ordinary annual services of the Government; and
  2. to make moneys available for expenditure, being expenditure for the ordinary annual services of the Government-

    1. particulars of which will afterwards be submitted to the Parliament; or
    2. pending the issue of a warrant of the Governor-General specifically applicable to the expenditure. ‘ 1.5. An amount of $108 million was provided under Division 850- Advance to the Minister for Finance in Appropriation Act (No. 2) 1977-78 to enable the Minister for Finance-
  3. to make advances that will be recovered during the financial year;
  4. to make moneys available for expenditure, particulars of which will afterwards be submitted to the Parliament, including payments by way of financial assistance to a State on such terms and conditions, if any, as the Minister for Finance determines; and
  5. to make moneys available for expenditure pending the issue of a warrant of the Governor-General specifically applicable to the expenditure. ‘

There is a legal background as to what goes on in regard to the way in which the Advance to the Minister for Finance- or as it was then, to the Treasurer- was dealt with. For the benefit of members of the Parliament I think that the legal background and the manner in which it is dealt with should be included in Hansard. The information reads: 1.6. Apart from the Appropriation and Supply Acts which provide the appropriations and define their purposes, section 36a of the Audit Act 1901 authorises the Minister for Finance to charge expenditure in excess of specific appropriation or not specifically provided for by appropriation to such heads as he may direct provided that the Advance appropriations are not exceeded.

Until 1955-56 the practice was to include in Supplementary Estimates funds issued from the Advances that were not taken up in Additional Estimates. Supplementary Estimates were considered and passed by Parliament after the close of the financial year. In accordance with recommendations by the Joint Committee of Public Accounts in its Thirty-First Report . . .

Which was published in May 1 957- that practice ceased and was replaced by a requirement for particulars of amounts remaining a charge to the Advances at 30 June to be included in a statement tabled in the Parliament.

That was done in regard to the Advance to the Minister for Finance in 1977-78 and 1978-79. The report adds:

The Department of Finance has issued Directions pursuant to section 7 1 (2) (a) of the Audit Act Finance Regulation 127a, amplifying those provisions and setting out the processes to be followed in applying for funds and accounting for expenditure chargeable to the Advances.

Certain delegations are allowed. I will inform the House of some of the delegations which apply. The report states:

The power to issue funds from the Advances is delegated by the Minister to the Secretary and certain other officers of the Department of Finance. This is a practice of very long standing and enables many applications for funds of a straight-forward nature to be dealt with departmentally. The delegated power is not exercised in circumstances where special considerations are involved or there is a need to ration ‘ the use of the Ad vances.

I might add that the acquisition of the two Boeing 707 VIP aircraft in the 1978-79 expenditure came from the Advance to the Minister for Finance, which is a somewhat unusual way of dealing with somewhat weighty expenditure of this nature. The report continues:

The use of the Advances falls broadly into four categories: “(a) to funds payments pending the issue of the Governor-General’s Warrants;

to make advances which will be repaid within the financial year;

to make moneys available during the Supply period pending the passing of the Appropriation Bills and later in the financial year pending the passing of the additional Appropriation Bills; and

to make moneys available in supplementation of existing appropriations for specified purposes or to finance new services the need for which arises, or about which a decision is reached, after the Government has determined what provisions are to be included for specified purposes in Appropriation Bills.”

In general, until a Governor-General’s Warrant is available issues of funds are made for short-term bridging purposes. For example, Parliament may pass a Bill containing a special appropriation but before the processes of obtaining a Governor-General ‘s Warrant for expenditure from that appropriation can be completed, (e.g. because of the Governor-General’s absence from Canberra) it may become necessary to make a payment under the Act; such a payment can then be funded temporarily from the Advance.

This has been done on many occasions, which is within the knowledge of members of Parliament. The report continues:

Many issues are made in this way, being cancelled when the Governor-General’s Warrant under the special appropriations is obtained. Although such issues are only short-term they can be very large in amount, e.g. there were issues of $52 million in this way in December 1976.

I previously mentioned the issue of the amount for the acquisition of the 707 aircraft commonly known as the Prime Minister’s VIP planes. The report also states:

Advances which are repaid within the financial year do not require an extensive call on the Advance Appropriations. For example, the advances made to -

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Millar)Order! I suggest to the honourable member for Banks that he is extending his argument beyond the parameters required for the purpose of this motion. I have listened to his speech to establish the point as to why the matters should not be discharged.


– I was trying to inform the House as to the reasons why we should not cursorily deal with matters of this nature by just discharging them from the Notice Paper. I was relating my remarks to the manner in which we deal with Advances to the Minister for Finance. I will curtail my argument, in deference to your comments, and merely say that I feel that matters of this nature should not be just wiped off the Notice Paper. The slate should not be wiped clean. To my knowledge it has never been the practice of this Parliament, either in the House of Representatives or in the Senate, to debate what was commonly called the Advance to the Treasurer, or as it is now known, the Advance to the Minister for Finance. What I was seeking to do- I hope I have achieved it- was to inform the House of the procedures that do, in fact, take place so that in future the Government, irrespective of which government is in power, will not attempt to by-pass the correct procedures in this House. The Parliament is the final decider of what money should be advanced.

We should not just cursorily wipe off the Notice Paper, as we are doing today, discussion on the Advance to the Minister for Finance. As I said earlier, one motion on this subject has been allowed to remain on the Notice Paper of this House since 22 August 1978. The other motion on the Advance to the Minister for Finance has been on the Notice Paper for only a short timeseven or eight months, from 30 August 1979. It is about time that this Parliament exercised the prerogative, which it should exercise, of being the controller of the purse strings. The role of the Parliament is to oversight the expenditure, be it under the ordinary appropriation Bills, the Advance to the Minister for Finance or, as it was previously called, the Advance to the Treasurer. Quite frankly, I am not certain whether it is a good way of dealing with the finances of our country even to have an account called the Advance to the Minister for Finance. It is referred to as a petty cash account. It is a fair amount of petty cash to play around with. In the 1978-79 financial year the ‘petty cash’ amounted to $225m and in the 1977-78 financial year it amounted to $226m. If such matters were dealt with in such a cursory fashion in a company subject to audit, not only would the auditors come in but also they would probably shoot the managing director. I would hate to think that anyone would shoot the Treasurer of the day, or the Minister for Finance. I merely say that matters of this nature should not be cursorily dealt with by this Parliament; they should be considered in the proper fashion. I hope that they will be in the future.


– I support the remarks of the honourable member for Banks (Mr Martin) and make it clear that I think it is a sign of some sort of incompetence that this matter is being dealt with in this way. I refer particularly to the takeover of companies legislation which has been left on the. Notice Paper after other legislation has passed through the House and has gone to the Senate. The interesting thing about the document which is being superseded is that there are some 85 pages of it. An enormous amount of drafting went into it. There were lengthy explanations in the House about it. Meanwhile the new warlords who are running the economy and the takeover system are able to carry on in their predatory way. The interesting thing to me is that this Government, which has claimed so often to be the model of competence and to handle the companies affairs both financially and administratively in an exemplary fashion, continues to make mistake after mistake either through dilatoriness, incompetence or just a failure to care.

Only last week the Minister for Employment and Youth Affairs (Mr Viner) took a number of issues off the Notice Paper. Why was this action not taken then? As I look at the Notice Paper, I feel- and the Minister ought to start to feel this way- that it is quite obvious that there will be no machinery in this Parliament to deal with the great multitude of matters on the Notice Paper unless we start to take active steps toward reform of the parliamentary procedures. It is quite nonsensical to have up to 35 notices on the Notice Paper, as there are now. There were 70-odd last week. If I remember correctly, last week a report about Australia’s relations with the Third World and a few defence statements were wiped off the Notice Paper after cursory discussions in this place. I appeal to the Minister to take the question to the Standing Orders Committee or to have another look at the whole situation to try to revamp parliamentary procedures. As I say, one of the most lasting impressions of the last four or five years that I will take from this place is the extraordinary incompetence that is being shown to the management of the Parliament. That is of serious concern to the people of Australia.

I do not know whether it is ihe Leader of the House (Mr Viner) who is principally to blame, but he is in charge of Government Business and he carries the burden. But surely he can see that it is ludicrous to have a Notice Paper containing 35 subjects, of which, I would suspect, by the end of the year not more than 10 or 15 will have been discussed, and of which perhaps, only two or three will have been discussed properly. We must ensure that the legislative committees and other kinds of systems we have established and the points made about the usage of Public Accounts Committees and such statutory and standing committees and so on are examined properly. We talk about this matter continuously but we never do anything about it. I appeal to the Minister to apply himself to the job of running the Parliament, to try to bring it into order, because if we cannot bring the Parliament into order, the country will remain in disorder.

Leader of the House · Stirling · LP

– in reply- I simply take the opportunity to close this debate by making a few remarks in case it should have been thought from the comments by the honourable member for Banks (Mr Martin) and the honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant), that there was something untoward in the motion to discharge certain Orders of the Day. I should firstly point out that the discharge occurs with the agreement of the Manager of Opposition Business, the honourable member for Adelaide (Mr Hurford). In dealing with the matters referred to by the honourable member for Wills- that is, the two company take-over Bills- I invite him to look at Hansard of 16 April, that being the day when I moved to discharge a number of other Orders of the Day. I did not include in that discharge the notices with respect to those Bills. I am sure that the honourable member appreciates that I could not seek their discharge then because the debate on other companies and securities legislation had not been concluded. I invite the honourable member to look further at the Hansard of 16 April.

The reason for the discharge of those two Orders of the Day is that those Bills were introduced in November 1979 to enable public consideration of important legislation for the regulation of company share transactions. It was following that public consideration that my colleague, the Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs (Mr Garland), introduced a comprehensive package of legislation which superseded those two Bills- the Company Take-overs Bill and the Company Take-overs (Fees) Bill. That whole package of legislation having been passed by this House, it is now appropriate, when it was not before, to seek the discharge from the Notice Paper of the two earlier Bills.

I think the honourable member for Banks, from his long experience in the House, would know there is nothing untoward in seeking to discharge the notices with respect to the Advances to the Minister for Finance for 1977-78 and for 1978-79 for this reason: They were each the subject of reports to the House by the Public Accounts Committee, of which I believe the honourable member is a member, on 21 November 1978 and on 13 November 1979 respectively. It is the normal practice of the House to discharge such notices following the presentation of the Public Accounts Committee reports- and I see that the honourable member for Banks acknowledges what I say. In the past that discharge has occurred at the end of a period of sittings. It was thought appropriate that along with the discharge of other business from the Notice Paper so as to present an up-do-date Notice Paper I should discharge those two matters now. As I pointed out earlier, the Manager of Opposition Business agreed with me. I am quite sure that with that kind of co-operation and the way in which the business of the House is being managed, we will have a tidy, efficient management of business, both of the Government and of the Parliament.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

page 1995


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

Second Reading

Minister for Transport · Gwydir · NCP/NP

That the Bill be now read a second time.

The purpose of this Bill is to amend the overseas cargo shipping provisions contained in Part X of the Trade Practices Act 1974. These amendments will provide more effective safeguards for Australia’s shippers in the negotiation of the terms and conditions of our outwards liner shipping services. More efficient services will facilitate our efforts to increase the level of our primary and manufactured exports.

In March 1977, the then Minister for Transport announced a major review of Part X. The legislation had been in force for over a decade, during which significant changes in technology and in international shipping policies had occurred. A number of deficiencies with the existing Part X provisions had become apparent, and there was a need to look at the role of the Australian Shippers Council. In addition, increasing concern had been expressed by shipowners regarding the activities of foreign governmentcontrolled shipping lines.

Extensive consultations were held with shippers and shipowners, both during the review and after the report was tabled in Parliament in 1 977. The report has been the subject of considerable interest and discussion, both in Australia and overseas. Because of the importance of overseas liner shipping to the responsibilities of many of my colleagues, an interdepartmental committee was established to report to the Government on the review. In May last year, the Government announced its intention concerning the review report, and since then further discussions have been held with interested shippers and shipowners.

Australia, as a major trading nation, depends upon efficient liner cargo shipping services to remain competitive in overseas markets. The essential characteristics of liner shipping are, firstly, the provision of scheduled carrier services to and from specified ports at predictable rates of freight; and secondly, the lifting, within reasonable limits, of most types of cargo offered.

Most of Australia’s overseas liner cargoes are lifted by vessels operating within the framework of shipping conferences. A shipping conference may be defined as a group of two or more vessel operators who provide international liner services for the carriage of cargo on a particular route or routes and who agree to charge the same freight rates. There are 17 conferences operating from Australia to such areas as the United Kingdom-Europe, Japan-Korea-East Asia, the Middle East and North America. Liner conferences have operated on all major trade routes of the world for over a hundred years, and have operated in Australia’s trades since the 1880s. Successive Australian governments have accepted that liner conferences can operate to the benefit of Australian trade provided there are suitable safeguards for shippers to prevent any possible abuse of their cartel-type powers.

Part X of the Act provides for the exemption of liner shipping from the general provisions in Part IV in exchange for certain obligations. P./1 t X requires shipping lines to register wilh the Government details of outwards conference agreements and to give and observe certain undertakings. Among the undertakings which shipping lines can be required to give the Minister is an undertaking to negotiate the terms and conditions of the carriage of liner cargoes with the designated shipper body, the Australian Shippers Council. In the event that the provisions of Part X are not complied with, the GovernorGeneralinCouncil may disapprove a conference agreement or declare an individual shipowner who is not a party to a conference agreement.

The provisions of Part X apply only to the outwards liner trades from Australia. In view of international legal implications and practical difficulties, the Government has concluded that it should not attempt to regulate inwards shipping. The review report reached the general conclusion that shippers wished to maintain the present approach, that is, the continuation of the conference system but with some strengthening of the legislative framework. The report also concluded that the best way to strengthen the Australian Shippers’ Council was to make the responsibilities of government with respect to shipper protection more explicit. The Government accepted these general conclusions. This Bill is intended, therefore, to reaffirm the Government’s policy with respect to the shipment of our liner exports and imports and to provide the legislative framework for shippershipowners negotiations in the 1980s.

The Government’s prime concern is that our shippers have access to efficient liner shipping to maintain or expand their present markets, and to develop new markets as the opportunity arises. For this purpose we will continue to support the liner conference system for the provision of a major part of our liner shipping services. The conference system has served Australia well in the past. I am sure that it will continue to do so in the future.

We support the Australian Shippers’ Council, as the designated body, to negotiate with shipowners the terms and conditions of the carriage of our liner cargoes. The Council plays a particularly important role in looking after the interests of our smaller shippers. Our major commodity organisations have the right to negotiate directly with shipowners. We support this approach because they are the experts with regard to their own commodity. However, major commodity organisations can also lend their commercial muscle anil support to the Australian Shippers’ Council. 1 :>ee this support as important. The Council will only operate as well as its members will allow it to function. I would like to see all of our shippers give their support to ensure that the Council operates as efficiently and effectively as possible.

Part X of the Trade Practices Act provides the legislative framework to enable snippers and shipowners to hold meaninful negotiations. I say framework quite deliberately, because the Government believes in minimum regulation. We believe that the market place should be allowed to operate as freely as possible. Some controls are often necessary, and Part X provides this in relation to our overseas liner cargoes.

In any business the commercial process relies on the good will, common sense, and willingness of the parties concerned to negotiate and compromise. This is equally important in the liner shipping industry. I have been particularly interested, therefore, to have received a number of representations from both shippers and shipowners which suggest that the good will which is fundamental to orderly shipping arrangements is breaking down. Therefore one hopes that the two parties will in the near future freely discuss their respective difficulties. I hope that agreement is reached on the ways and means to make the framework work to the mutual advantage of both parties and to the advantage of the national interest.

It is vitally important that the philosophy underlying the legislative framework is observed. For example, although the legislation does not provide for it, I would expect that when shipowners decide to change their services, including the formation of a new conference, they would give prior notice to the Australian Shippers’ Council to enable informal discussions and negotiations to take place before these changes come into operation. We do not legislate to cover such issues because we expect common sense to apply. We assume shipowners wish to retain an orderly system.

In this Bill the negotiating position of shippers will be strengthened by increasing the obligations on outwards liner conferences and by allowing the Government to act quickly should problems not be susceptible to commercial resolution. However I would hope that Government intervention will not be needed. We look for commercial solutions not government imposed solutions.

New provisions are being introduced to permit the disallowance of loyalty practices in certain circumstances. There are a number of measures designed to give the Government more information and also to give increased incentives to shipowners to file the particulars of their agreements. To counter the potential threat of foreign government controlled shipping from disrupting our overseas trades, measures will be introduced to enable action to be taken should the need arise.

I now turn to the details of the amendments. An explanatory document relating to the clauses of the Bill has been circulated for the benefit of honourable members. The Trade Practices Tribunal hearing under Part X in 1975 noted that the meaning of ‘economic and adequate’ could be encompassed by the meaning of ‘efficient’. The phrase ‘adequate economic and efficient’ in existing legislation is therefore replaced by the word ‘efficient’. In the event that the Government is required to exercise its powers under Part X, it is obviously important that the yardstick to be used, that is, the concept of efficiency, is reasonably understood. The Bill does not attempt to define ‘efficiency’. In the unlikely event that the Government is required to exercise powers under this part, it would certainly want to have regard to:

  1. the adequacy of the outward cargo shipping concerned to meet the needs of shippers, for example, the scope and frequency of the services, the suitability of the ships used, and their management;
  2. the reasonableness of the freight and other charges payable for the shipping services; in particular the value to shippers of the services, the need to maintain continuity of service and the possible alternatives to such services.

Clause 3 is the interpretation section of the Bill and the most important definition is that related to loyalty agreements. I shall refer later to the need to control loyalty arrangements.

Clause 4 clarifies the extent of the exemption of shipowners from Part IV. All shipowners engage in the business of overseas cargo shipping, whether in the outwards or inwards trades, will be exempt, with two exceptions. The exemption does not extend to land based activities which are severable from the business of overseas cargo shipping engaged in by a shipowner, for example, trucking business owned by shipowners. The exemption does not extend to section 45d on boycotts. Honourable members will be aware that it is the Government’s view that the anti-boycott provision, as far as possible, should be applicable to both businesses and employees. The fact that shipowners are not exempt from section 45D is not intended to interfere with normal loyalty practice arrangements.

Although the provisions of Part X apply to outwards liner shipping only, the general interdependence of inwards and outwards shipping means that there will be some degree of influence over some aspects of inwards shipping.

Clause 5 provides for a penalty in the case of a person or corporation that advertises or promotes the business of a shipowner who fails to comply with the requirements of section 114, namely, to be represented by an agent in Australia and to provide an address for legal services. This is necessary because most shipowners are owned overseas. Prior to instituting proceedings under clause 5, the Government’s intention is to advise anyone affected by this provision of a shipowner’s failure to comply with section 114. Clauses 6 to 1 1 are of an administrative nature, but I would ask honourable members to note the increased penalties for breaches of the Act.

Clause 12 relates to access by the Trade Practices Commission to filed conference agreements. The Trade Practices Commission will have access to newly filed agreements, if it has reason to believe that examination of these documents would assist its enforcement functions in relation to a shipowner’s land based activities severable from his overseas cargo shipping business or in relation to section 45D. Nevertheless, the Government considers that filed conference agreements should continue to remain confidential because they contain commercially private information. Therefore, confidentiality pro* visions, similar to those applying to the Director of Shipping Agreements, will apply to the Trade Practices Commission and its staff in relation to its access to filed conference agreements.

Clause 13 refers to undertakings that the Minister may seek from conference lines, and clause 17 refers to similar undertakings that the Minister may seek from single operators. New requirements include the furnishing of an annual report to the Minister on the state of liner capacity in the past year and expectations for the coming year. Furthermore the Minister is to be advised of the intention to negotiate with shippers outside the designated shipper body, if the commodity concerned amounts to a significant proportion of the trade, in the order of 5 per cent or more by weight or volume. It also provides that the Minister ‘s representatives have access to all documents made available to the designated shipper body by a shipowner. These requirements are aimed at providing the Government with sufficient information on developments in the industry to ensure that the national interests are being met.

Clause 14 provides that before an order may be made to disapprove a conference agreement, or declare an individual shipowner, the Minister or his representative is required to hold consultations with shipowners and other interested parties, which could include foreign governments and the Australian Shippers Council. Such consultations aim at having the parties to a conference agreement undertake such action that will ensure the matter giving rise to the consultations does not recur. The necessity to refer the matter to .the trade Practices Tribunal for a report prior to an order of disapproval by the GovernorGeneralinCouncil is removed. Clauses 14 and 18 amend the power of the GovernorGeneralinCouncil to disapprove Conference agreements or declare shipowners, to take account of the prerequisite for consultations provided in these clauses. Clauses 15 and 16 are of an administrative nature.

The remaining major clause is clause 20 which incorporates new divisions relating to loyalty arrangements, requirements for annual reports by the designated shipper body and control over vessels operated by overseas governments or their instrumentalities. Under loyalty agreements a shipper is given contract freight rates which are lower than non-contract freight rates, in return for shipping all his goods with the contracting shipowners. Such loyalty arrangements give conferences assurance of availability of cargo and therefore enable them to schedule sailings and capacity to meet shippers’ demands. There is a need, however, to ensure that in the negotiation of loyalty agreements shipowners take account of the legitimate interests of shippers.

The Bill empowers the Governor-General to disallow a loyalty practice if:

  1. a shipowner fails, without reasonable excuse, to comply with the Minister’s request for information in relation to the loyalty practice,
  2. ) a shipowner discriminates against a similarly situated shipper in terms of offering an agreement,
  3. the agreement contravenes certain generally accepted principles with which loyalty practices should be compatible, and
  4. services outlines in the loyalty agreement have not been provided in accordance with the terms of that agreement.

There are also provisions requiring compulsory consultations prior to the disallowance of any loyalty arrangements by the Governor-General, similar to the consultation provisions provided for under clause 14. It is intended that there be considerable flexibility in the application of these provisions relating to loyalty agreements and the views of the Australian Shippers Council would be sought before any action was contemplated.

This new division enables loyalty agreements to be dealt with separately from Conference agreements. Clause 20 also provides for the insertion of new Division 4B requiring the provision to the Minister of annual reports by designated shipper bodies, complementary to the annual reports required to be provided by conferences or individual shipowners under clause 13.

Honourable members will be aware of the Government’s approach to competition by foreign government owned shipping. A number of major maritime nations consider that such competition is not fair because of the different economic principles which apply to their operation, and have expressed concern at the expansion of the Eastern bloc shipping in competition with conferences. The Australian Government believes such shipping can be a useful competitive element for our shippers, being an alternative to conference services. This is provided that it does not result in the disruption of such conference services leading to a loss of markets; for example, if such foreign government owned shipping was suddenly withdrawn from service, leaving a vacuum.

In this Bill there are provisions which will allow the Government to take countervailing action if it becomes necessary. The GovernorGeneralinCouncil will have the power to prohibit the carriage of goods from Australia on such vessels if he is satisfied that the Government of an overseas country has adopted or proposes to adopt measures concerning the carriage of goods by sea on ships operated by it that have caused or are likely to cause damage to Australia’s trading interests. This prohibition will remain effective unless the Minister has determined the conditions strictly regulating the operation of these vessels. The types of cargoes that can be carried, the allowable frequency of port calls and the freight rates that can be charged are included in this regime of regulation.

The Governor-General will decide whether an agency or corporation belongs to the Government of an overseas country. Given that the Minister would be strictly regulating the trade, it is appropriate that an appeal be allowed in respect to the Minister’s determinations. This is provided for as well as a requirement to hold prior consultations with interested parties. I wish to make it quite clear that the Government only intends to use these powers as a last resort. The Australian Shippers Council would, of course, be included in the interested parties consulted before any action was taken. Furthermore, it is not intended that any action would be taken against lines owned or controlled by foreign governments which adhere to the economic principles of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

The remaining clauses of the Bill are mainly administrative. Because of the importance of this legislation to both shipper and ship owner interests, it has been decided to give time to interested parties to examine the legislation and to discuss any matters relating to it with me or my Department. Overall the Bill will strengthen the ability of Australian exporters to negotiate improved terms and conditions for the sea carriage of their goods and enhance their prospects for increased sales overseas. This is consistent with the Government’s objectives inherent in the Export Now’ campaign. I commend the Bill to the House.

Debate (on motion by Mr Morris) adjourned.

page 1999



Minister for Health · Warringah · LP

– I move:

That the circumstances surrounding the question of ‘excess payments’ made under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme as set out in the statement of the Minister for Health to the House of Representatives on 2 April 1980 and under the Repatriation Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, and the question of whether the relevant administrative processes should be altered in the light of the situation described in the statement be referred to the Joint Committee of Public Accounts for inquiry and report.

As honourable members will recall, in my statement of 2 April last I set out the details of the circumstances surrounding this matter. As I stated at that time, this matter arose because of the following factors: An error which occurred in 1974 in the translation of certain statistical specifications to be used for allocating pharmacy labour costs when determining the formula for calculating the size of the fee for dispensing items under the pharmaceutical benefits scheme and the method of updating the fee.

Honourable members will recall that in my statement I noted that my inquiries suggested that by far the greater share of the blame for why this situation has occurred can be attributed to the error which occurred in 1974. As I noted at that time, the whole question of the appropriate fee to pay to chemists for dispensing items under the pharmaceutical benefits scheme is an extremely technical and complex one and the problems involved were exacerbated by severe staffing shortages during the latter part of 1974 and early 1975.

The administration of the pharmaceutical benefits scheme has caused successive governments for some IS years significant difficulties which have had to be borne because of the importance of the scheme to all Australians, particularly pensioners. These difficulties led to the situation that I described in my earlier statement which existed under successive governments from 1973-74.

On learning of this situation, the Government acted swiftly to discover the reasons why it occurred and to instigate appropriate action to ensure that every step will be taken in future to prevent the recurrence of this or similar errors. As part of this action, the Government called for a report from the Public Service Board on the matter. The Board in turn set up a team of senior officers to investigate the matter, which reported promptly to the Government. The Public Service Board team has made a number of suggestions as to what action should be instigated to ensure that everything possible is done in future to prevent the recurrence of this or similar errors in other areas of government. A summary of those suggestions was contained in my statement of 2 April last.

As I also stated at that time the Government believes that there would be particular advantage if this matter was referred to the Joint Committee of Public Accounts for examination and report. The Government considers that the Committee ‘s examination of the Public Service Board’s mandata computer scheme has afforded its members with a particularly high expertise in computer matters. As I also stated on 2 April last, in referring the matter to the Committee, the Government invites it to make recommendations on how administrative processes can be tightened up beyond those changes suggested in the report of the Public Service Board team.

Honourable members should be aware that when making my statement on this matter on 2 April I did so because of the Government’s firm belief that the full facts surrounding this matter should be laid before Parliament and the people of Australia. The Government has, in the same spirit, decided to refer this matter to the Public Accounts Committee- a committee on which members from both sides of Parliament are represented- for examination and report. The wide terms of reference decided upon similarly reflect this view of the Government. I am sure the Committee’s report on this matter will fully meet the Government’s expectations.

Minister for Veterans’ Affairs · Fisher · NCP/NP

– I support the initiative of my colleague the Minister for Health (Mr MacKellar) in proposing that the Joint Committee of Public Accounts be asked to inquire into and report on all the circumstances surrounding the question of payments made under both the pharmaceutical benefits scheme and under the repatriation pharmaceutical benefits scheme.

A complex problem has emerged; it is capable of varying interpretations. This is an important matter not only involving a great deal of money, but also with implications for the means of delivery of a vital component of the Australian health care system. Because the Government would want the Parliament to be informed, both in relation to the fact of the payment and how it was arrived at, and because there are difficulties in specifying a simple quantum, it will be of considerable benefit to the Parliament, to the Ministers involved and to the departments to have the Joint Committee of Public Accounts search out the detailed, relevant facts in an objective manner.

The Joint Committee of Public Accounts has proved itself over very many years to be a very responsible and searching body, and is ideally placed to examine this complex problem in detail and to establish not only how the present dilemma occurred but also whether the current administrative processes are at fault and whether or not they ought to be altered. In fact I have previously had the privilege of serving on the Joint Committee of Public Accounts and I would be confident of the Committee’s ability to present this Parliament with a full and even-handed report. This is not to withdraw in any way from the advice already provided to this Parliament by my colleague the Minister for Health or me. When a problem of this magnitude arises, it must be dealt with urgently and brought to notice with all honesty. That is exactly what the Minister for Health and I have done.

I take this opportunity to update the information available to the House in regard to the application of the chemist’s remuneration formula to the Department of Veterans’ Affairs. In answer to a question by the honourable member for Scullin (Dr Jenkins) on 17 April, I acknowledged that the situation described by the Minister for Health in his statement to this House on 2 April had an application to payments to chemists under the repatriation pharmaceutical benefits scheme, and indicated that I hoped to be in a position very soon to make a quantification of such application.

My Department has now provided me with its best possible estimate of the ‘excess payment’ which can be considered to have been incurred in payments to pharmacists under the repatriation pharmaceutical benefits scheme. Before announcing these figures to the House, there are some general comments I should like to make. In the first place, I make it clear that, as Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, I became aware that a situation of some concern relating to payments to chemists under the NHS formula had arisen in relation to the national health scheme when this was reported to Ministers by the Minister for Health during February, and that I was advised by my Department at I think about the same time that there was a flow-on effect in relation to the repatriation prescribing. At that stage, the amount of any excess payment under the national health arrangements had not been finally quantified, and there was no basis upon which the impact on repatriation prescribing could be accurately determined. As I mentioned in the House last week, I was not prepared to provide speculative estimates until I was more confident that these figures were as accurate as possible. Such figures have become available to me only within about the last 48 hours or, more specifically, over the weekend.

I should reiterate the point that I made in my answer last week to the question by the honourable member for Scullin. The same dispending fees as are fixed from time to time under the National Health Act are also applied to similar services provided under repatriation prescribing arrangements. It has been a matter of Government policy for many years that determinations made under the National Health Act in relation to dispensing fees should be applied automatically to pharmaceutical benefits dispensed under my Department’s scheme.

My colleague the Minister for Health, in his statement to this House, emphasised the complexity of this matter of payment of pharmaceutical dispensing fees. The application of these complexities to the repatriation prescribing arrangements, which differ significantly in some respects from the national health scheme, has not been straight forward and some time has necessarily been taken departmentally in making the necessary adjustments to reflect the differences between the two schemes.

Repatriation local medical officers are encouraged, when prescribing for eligible repatriation beneficiaries, to confine such prescribing to the drugs listed in the national health scheme schedule of benefits. They also have a discretion to prescribe drugs outside this range where, in their clinical opinion, there is no therapeutic alternative available within the national health list. The fact that quite a high proportion of such items are prescribed, and that some attract a dispensing fee while others do not, is the first factor complicating somewhat the extraction of the figures in relation to veterans’ affairs. A further factor has been the availability of detailed data and the speed with which it can be drawn. Payments to chemists for benefits dispensed under the repatriation prescribing arrangements have been made by computer only since 1 May 1979, in the case of Victoria, and 1 July 1979, in all other States. Some of the data required for the compilation of the estimates provided to me by the Department of Veterans’ Affairs I have been advised had to be drawn and adjusted manually.

I turn now to the quantum of the figures provided to me by the Department of Veterans’ Affairs. I understand that these have been assessed on exactly the same basis as were quoted by my colleague, subject only to necessary adjustments because of differences between the two schemes. I shall therefore draw the same distinction as did my colleague in presenting figures on the one hand on the basis of what would be an appropriate level of remuneration for an ‘average ‘ pharmacy and on the other of an economic’ pharmacy.

If the Chairman of the Joint Committee on Pharmaceutical Benefits Pricing Arrangements had made a determination solely on the basis of information flowing from the 1977-78 inquiry, the excess payments which would have accrued between 1 July 1976 and 31 December 1979 under repatriation arrangements would be either $7.54m or $ 14. 1 3m, depending on the method of assessment, and that which would have occurred between 1973-74 and 1975-76 on this same basis, again depending on the method of assessment, would be $790,000, or $4. 12m. Thus the advice provided to me, summing those figures, is that based on an average pharmacy the amount is estimated at $8. 33m. Based on an economic pharmacy the estimate is $ 1 8.25m.

I should like to reiterate several points made in the statement by my colleague the Minister for Health on April 2. Firstly, in arriving at a decision on the level of chemists’ remuneration based on the 1977-78 inquiry data, the Chairman of the Joint Committee obviously considered other factors put before him in joint committee which were relevant to the outcome of the inquiry. These excess payments figures can, therefore, be seen to be notional only. Secondly, these sums of money, according to advice tendered to Ministers, are not overpayments which are recoverable at law. Just as amounts determined by the Minister for Health prior to January 1977 and by the Chairman of the Joint Committee since then in relation to dispensing under national health arrangement have been legally made, so the application of such amounts to repatriation prescribing arrangements have similarly been legally made. I have no doubt that this aspect of this whole question will be considered in depth by the Joint Committee of Public Accounts.

In conclusion, I commend to the House the proposal to refer to the Joint Committee of Public Accounts for inquiry and report the circumstances surrounding the question of the payments made under the pharmaceutical benefits scheme and under the repatriation pharmaceutical benefits scheme and the question of whether the relevant administrative processes should be altered in the light of the situation described in the statement of the Minister for Health to this House on 2 April. As Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, I welcome the inquiry and can assure the Committee of both my own and my Department ‘s full co-operation.


-In speaking to this motion perhaps I could draw the attention of the House to the fact that an hour ago the Minister for Finance (Mr Eric Robinson) rambled on about the tightfisted attitude to the spending of public money displayed by this Government. It is perhaps a fitting commentary on that speech that now, an hour later, we are discussing an excess payment of some $250m of taxpayers’ money. At the moment we live in a kind of wonderland of technological excuses about this matter. We are told that the original error in payments of pharmaceutical benefits to pharmacists arose from a mistake in the computer program in relation to the payment of pharmaceutical benefits. Last week, when we were trying to get some information out of the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs (Mr Adermann), he told us:

The main difficulty we have is that data relating to my Department is available on computer only since 1979. We have a big job of collating, extracting and calculating manually the information prior to that date.

So in one case the computer is at fault, in the other case we are slow to get information simply because the material is not on computer. Given the experience of this situation, perhaps in some ways it is a good thing that that information was not on the computer.

From the two statements that have been made this afternoon we have learnt very little, if anything, that is new about this particular problem. I suppose that it is too much to expect to learn anything new from this Government. The Minister for Health (Mr MacKellar) simply reiterated, in a rather simplified form, the statement he made on 2 April. The rather vacuous speech by the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs has three features. Firstly, there was praise for the Joint Committee of Public Accounts which is echoed by the Opposition. Secondly, there was one marvellous platitude to which I will return. He said:

When a problem of this magnitude arises, it must be dealt with urgently and brought to notice with all honesty.

On this matter urgency has been conspicuous by its absence. I make no reflections on honesty but certainly urgency does not seem to have been characteristic of the Government’s behaviour in this matter. The third aspect of the Minister’s statement is that it gives us firmly one new fact; that is, $18m has been added to the ‘excess payments’ with which we have already been presented. Even in discussing that issue the Minister introduces again the kind of obfuscatory question of whether it should be based on the economic pharmacy principle or on the average pharmacy principle. Three weeks ago I said that as all these payments have been made on the economic pharmacy basis surely the calculations about overpayments must relate to the principle which was used in making the payments- the economic pharmacy basis- and not the average pharmacy basis. In the case of the Department of Veterans’ Affairs this gives us a calculation of $ 18m in excess payments. I am very glad to see that the Press was not put off by the Minister for Health three weeks ago. It has resolutely gone on talking about the appropriate figure of $235m or the basis of the principles that have been used to make these payments.

I have said before, and I say it again, that in many ways the Minister’s statement remains an unsatisfactory explanation of certain features of this debacle. Moreover, the opportunities for debate in this House on this issue before the matter went to the Public Accounts Committee have been rather unsatisfactory. Honourable members will remember that the statement was slipped in late on the Wednesday evening before Easter. Tactically I suppose it was a good idea to try to do it at that time when comment was rather difficult. Very little time for debate was provided then and there was no further debate on the statement of the Minister. I feel sorry particularly for the back benchers on the Government side, who have been given no chance to comment on this spectacular achievement by their own Government. I see the honourable member for Petrie (Mr Hodges) presently in the chamber. He is one of the most vocal spokesmen on pharmaceutical issues in this House.

Mr Hodges:

– And a good chemist too.


-And a good chemist no doubt. I would have been delighted for him and a number of other back benchers to be given an opportunity to contribute on this issue. Indeed,much could have been done in this House to help set the agenda for discussion of the Public Accounts Committee if those opportunities had been provided.

Mr Lloyd:

– Such as reminding the Parliament that it was a Labor government mistake.

Hon. J. D. M. Dobie

– Order! The Minister was heard in silence. The present speaker will be heard in silence.


-The honourable member for Murray (Mr Lloyd) has been very active in this House with speeches on health matters. I have considerable respect for the honourable member but I feel disappointed that he too has had no opportunity to comment on this matter other than to interject. When the honourable member for Murray has talked about the provision of health services in this country he has devoted an enormous amount of time in his speeches- one can go through them- not particularly to the problems of health but to the problems of cost containment in the health area. Many of his speeches have been devoted almost entirely to the problems of cost containment. I would have liked to hear the honourable member on this particular problem of cost containment, not just when the error first occurred but in the four or five years during which the excess payments were made by this Government. I would be very interested to have the comments of the honourable member for Murray and other back benchers on record.

Mr Burns:

– Yes, but are you saying that chemists are crooks?


– I have never made that suggestion. I believe that the mistakes have been made within the bureaucracy and within the ministerial and Executive supervision of this matter. In a moment the Opposition will move an amendment to focus on that point.

Of course, in many ways this is on a par with the general management of health provision in this country. Those honourable members who have followed the debates will know that the way in which health services have been administered in this country in the last five years has been contradictory and inconsistent, producing mess and muddle. I have said before that under this Government we have actually gone backwards in the provision of health services. The Minister himself recognises that very soon we will need to begin again. So it does not surprise me that out of our rather ramshackle health structure we have now been given this extra problem. For some six years there has been a continuous drain on pharmaceutical benefits remuneration, at least in relation to the formula, of an excess payment.

I do not believe that the Minister’s statement of 2 April gave an adequate explanation of this matter. Let me say in which ways I think it was satisfactory and in which ways it was not satisfactory. First of all, there were too many lacunae, too many gaps. Indeed, in some ways one might say that the statement was as ramshackle as the system from which it emerged. Even critical facts were not given. I asked then and I ask again: What was the average overpayment on each prescription? It is critical to the assessment of the whole problem to be given some indication of this figure. Why should members of the Opposition and journalists have to provide this critical variable, given the resources of the Department of Health? In that long statement by the Minister there is no mention of this quite critical variable. Of course, it is important for us to make some assessment of the 4c reduction which has been adjudicated in payments to pharmacists. We cannot make a proper judgment about that unless we have this quite vital figure. I believe that the Public Accounts Committee will not be able to make the appropriate judgments without this critical figure. Thus a critical fact is missing in the explanation.

What about the explanation itself, apart from the facts? I think the explanation of the origin of the error is satisfactory. I think we can understand it, although we might not be able to forgive it. It draws our attention to the important features of the failure of the spot-checking system and to the fact that there was no check against the sample manual calculations. I think that part is now adequately explained. What the House has not had is an adequate explanation from the Minister for a delay of four to five years in discovering this error. Why did it take four to five years and some $200m of taxpayers dollars before the error was sourced and estimated? In March 1979 the previous Minister for Health was informed of the situation. The statement of the present Minister reads:

On 17 March 1979 … my predecessor was informed by his Department of the excess payment situation existing.

This information was sufficient to lead to opposition to all further increases in remuneration to pharmacists, but it was not sufficient to give any inkling whatsoever to this Parliament. The Minister for Veterans* Affairs said a few moments ago:

When a problem of this magnitude arises, it must be dealt with urgently and brought to notice with all honesty.

Yet we have waited for over 12 months from the time that the fact was recognised in the Department and action was taken there for the matter to be brought before the Parliament. Therefore, in order to help the Public Accounts Committee focus on the problem, we wish to move an amendment to the motion moved by the Minister for Health. I move:

The reason for moving this amendment is, in addition, the concern that we have about that inordinate delay, which is heightened when one reads the Minister’s statement of 2 April. For instance, in February 1976 there was uneasiness among Health Department officials about excess payments which led to the discovery of some errors in the calculation. One can ask: Why was the original program and the factual basis of the formula not examined at that point when disquiet was evident? In 1977 Health Department officials were canvassing in what they admitted to be ‘an initial bargaining position’ an excess payment to pharmacists of 23c an item. If such assumptions were loose in the Health Department why did they not lead to questioning of the original computer program and its factual basis? Again, we learn from the Minister’s statement of 2 April what happened in September 1978. He stated:

Government officials stated that they were unable to agree to a further increase and that there was a need for the Committee to approach the question of further increases with considerable caution because of the possibility of an excess payment.

I emphasise the words:

  1. . because of the possibility of an excess payment.

Again, why was the original program and its factual basis not examined in September 1978? We have a series of points of disquiet about the very problem which is now identified. Yet the overpayments went on and on.

A key issue for the Public Accounts Committee . is: Why was there not an earlier discovery? Why were there not adequate mechanisms for checking the original program, given the sorts of suspicions that evidently existed in the Department? Of course, just as importantly, how can regular and effective oversight be provided in the future? Indeed, in many ways what we must increasingly concentrate on now are the solutions to be provided to these types of problems which are likely to occur throughout the bureaucracy. We need- I am sure that the Public Accounts Committee will make a contribution in this regard- general control and checking procedures. We need to recognise that computers are no better than the persons who feed them the original information. Departments need to be able to have access to the original material. Problems of retrieval seem to be important in this particular case. Indeed, the inadequacy of the retrieval mechanism seems to be a major problem. Again, I support the suggestion that there be more regular surveys to assess the assumptions of expenditure programs. Finally, and again to reiterate a point, the programs should be so designed as to be capable of responding to official disquiet and anxiety.

I appreciate this opportunity for this issue to be referred to the Joint Committee of Public Accounts. I am disappointed that this Parliament has not been given greater opportunity to discuss this matter. I hope and believe that that view is shared by many honourable members on the Government benches. In any case, I hope that the contributions that we have been able to make will help set the agenda for the inquiry by the Public Accounts Committee.

Sitting suspended from 6.2 to 8 p.m.


-Prior to the suspension of the sitting for dinner the Minister for Health had moved that a matter relating to pharmaceutical benefits be referred to the Joint Committee of Public Accounts for inquiry and report. To this motion the honourable member for Bonython has moved, as an amendment, that certain words be added to the motion. Is the amendment seconded?

Dr Everingham:

– I second the amendment and reserve my right to speak.


-This is indeed an important debate, for two reasons.

Firstly, it is the first time, to the best of my knowledge, that the Government, through the Parliament, has referred a matter to the Joint Committee of Public Accounts. In that sense, therefore, it is historic. As Chairman of the Committee I would like to assure the House and all its members, regardless of political affiliation, that the Committee will enter into this review with every intention of returning to this Parliament with the best report it can possibly achieve on the basis of evidence which we will take on oath from all persons involved in this situation. The honourable member for Bonython (Dr Blewett), who spoke before the suspension of the sitting for dinner, asked a number of questions relevant to this issue. Before answering him I would like to say that, as one of the judges and, in a sense, the jury on this case, I am in a sense in a rather awkward position. It is therefore not my intention, in any way, to pre-empt the recommendations which my Committee may, in due course, make.

There are a number of factual matters which are the essence of the report tabled in this Parliament by the Minister for Health (Mr MacKellar) and, earlier this afternoon, also by the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs (Mr Adermann) which I believe deserve to be emphasised. I would like to place on record my belief that both Ministers have acted in an exemplary manner in the way they have brought forward into this Parliament all the known facts of what can only be called an unfortunate and very complex affair. It is perhaps extraordinary that since there are so many computers in the Australian Public Service this is the first time that we have found a major difficulty arise with regard to expenditure in that area. I seek the indulgence of the House to have incorporated in Hansard a section of the Public Service Board’s annual report of 1979 which refers to the automatic data processing applications and installations in the Public Service.

Leave granted.

The document read as follows-

Large and medium scale digital computers installed in departments: March 1979

The details below exclude computers installed by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation and most statutory authorities and those used for defence purposes of a classified nature or as part of communications systems. Details of small scale computer installations appear in a separate table.

Small scale computers installed in departments: March 1979(a)

This table includes small scale computers used predominantly for general data processing functions, i.e. input, storage, file access, processing and output, and those computers which are part of communications networks and which perform both general data processing and communications functions.

The table excludes those computers used for defence purposes of a classified nature, and those used for dedicated laboratory, process control or similar usage within specialised systems. The table also excludes those devices used purely for data entry, those in a data communications network performing communications functions only and office machines, such as word processors.

In previous years this table has included data entry and certain communications processors.

  1. The machines listed in the above table of small scale computers were manufactured by the following companies:

-I thank the House. I wish to emphasise that in the applications area alone there are something like 42 individual computer installations. In other words, virtually every department of state, most statutory corporations and many smaller bodies are, in fact, using computer technology today. The point which the Public Accounts Committee has been emphasising in the last 12 months, in the two reports which it has tabled in this House relevant to both the Mandata project of the Public Service Board and to difficulties regarding the purchase and installation of computers we have emphasised the point that the computer is simply a tool of management. If I can use that rather basic expression, in relation to the computer it is simply a case of rubbish in and rubbish out’. What we see in this situation is regrettably that a mistake was made in l he input data preparation for a computer programme in the early stages and information went in erroneously. From that time onwards the mistake has been compounded.

Why did it take so long to be discovered? This is one of the matters we will be examining but, we are assured by the Ministers, that the first real suspicions regarding this error were found in February 1 979. 1 think it is only fair to say that both Ministers have acted with most commendable haste in the manner in which they have brought this difficulty to the Parliament at the first available opportunity.

The honourable member for Bonython made a number of remarks which I would like to refer to briefly. He questioned the actual size of the overpayments on the basis of each pharmacy. On the basis of the record tabled here, in the period 1973-74 to 31 December 1979, it is estimated that some $46,000 was in fact an overpayment to the average pharmacy in Australia. The next question he asked was why there was a delay of some four or five years in finding this error. I would like to broaden some of my earlier remarks in this respect. As I said, the error only became apparent when comparing the results of the 1977-78 inquiry with the 1972-73 inquiry. The labour costs for example from the early inquiry, when updated, were found not to agree. In fact, there was no relevance whatsoever between the labour cost element of both those inquiries.

The information from the 1977-78 inquiry was available in final form in November 1979. Investigations eventually showed in 1979 an error in the computer program- that is, a specification from which the program was written had been found to be incorrectly translated from the statistical specifications on which it was meant to be based. Therefore, the allocation of pharmacy labour costs was found to be fundamentally in error.

Why was not the program examined earlier? Again that is a fundamental question and one upon which the Public Accounts Committee will obviously take evidence. We are told in the Minister’s statement that the cost of goods surveyed is only one of three major parts of the inquiry and upon which incidentally the Joint Committee on Pharmaceutical Benefits Pricing Arrangements headed now by Mr Justice Ludeke makes determinations upon what elements of subsidy payment will be made by the Government to the pharmacies. The error found was not an error in the computer program or any of the specifications leading to the program but an error of inputting data. In other words, the error was found in data relating to discounts received by chemists in the purchase of drugs. There was no reason therefore to examine the program for error, or so we are told. In 1977 government representatives canvassed at the Joint Committee a possible overpayment of 23c a prescription.

The next question asked by the honourable member for Bonython was: Why was the program not examined for error? This is a fair question. The answer which is supplied I think also emphasises the difficulties in this case. During 1977 the Pharmacy Guild of Australia did put forward several proposals to the Joint Committee for an increase in remuneration. The level of increase as suggested ranged from 30c to 60c a prescription for ambit claims. The government representatives’ response was to show that equally the base year figures, that is 1972-73, might be able to be interpreted to show an overpayment of some 23c a prescription. Again this is an ambit claim to counter an earlier ambit claim from the representatives of the Guild. So honourable members will see that the position is this: The Joint Committee, made up of representatives of the Government and of the Pharmacy Guild and chaired by Mr Justice Ludeke, in many respects had certain elements of the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. Therefore, a decision had to be made by the judge on the basis of the conflicting claims put to him by both sides. But such an agreement therefore requires a very close analysis of the input data upon which the original determinations were meant to be made.

The program was not examined earlier because there had been no change in the government representatives’ attitude from the position they took in 1977 when it put forward the earlier ambit claim. The 23c ambit claim was derived by making different assumptions on the allocation of costs from those assumptions used by the Joint Committee in processing 1972-73 inquiry data. Therefore it had no basis in the computer program or any relationship to it. Similarly the overpayment continued to exist throughout that period. So why was it not examined earlier? Again one has to see this problem in terms of the then available information which, at that time, related to preliminary processing of one section of the 1977-78 inquiry. The random activity sampling which showed how the time of stall in a pharmacy was used in relation to dispensing and retail activities was obviously of great importance. There was a strong indication that the time taken to dispense a prescription was significantly lower than that shown by the same random activity sampling carried out for the 1972-73 inquiry. At that time it was believed that any overpayment was due to more efficient dispensing techniques. But there is no reason apparently, so we are told, to suspect an error in the 1972-73 inquiry. Therefore, it is to be stressed that the results of the 1977-78 inquiry were essential to allow a comparison with the 1972-73 data, which was prepared for that inquiry, to ensure that the information obtained from both inquiries showed a compatible situation. That such a situation was not shown in fact was in respect to the labour costs and led to the investigation in December 1979 which uncovered the error.

The historical fact of this very complex situation is this: The earlier errors were made during the period from 1972 to 1974. It was a very complex area in terms of the introduction of computerisation in the Department of Health. People may well remember that the Medibank program was introduced at that stage. Undoubtedly that Department, during the period of the previous Administration, was faced by very serious problems in terms of the implementation as well as the introduction of computerisation in an area where many thousands of millions of dollars would be handled. The question that must be asked in retrospect- it will certainly be asked in terms of the inquiry by the Public Accounts Committee- relates to the procedures that were adopted during that period to ensure that an adequate ADP internal audit mechanism was in place. Perhaps the present Minister for Transport (Mr Hunt) who was the Minister for Health at that stage may care to tell us something about that period when he was responsible.

The facts have been emphasised by the Public Accounts Committee on many occasions and by the Auditor-General in his numerous reports to Parliament that internal audit remains unsatisfactory. I wish to emphasise a few of the points which he has made in terms of the problems of internal audit. He found a diversion of internal audit staff to other duties thus reducing the effectiveness of the internal audit function. He found arrears of work resulting in inadequate coverage by internal audit; audit methodology not geared to a systems based approach; emphasis on error detection rather than evaluating the adequacy of control systems resulting in fragmention and inadequate coverage of operations; working papers were not providing adequate documentation on the scope and quality of the audits in a manner necessary for audit management and, above all, and so relevant to this inquiry, inadequate knowledge of ADP for auditing effectively computerised systems.

Therein I believe is one of the main errors and problems in this situation. The criticism of the present standard of internal audit throughout all these years has not been confined to the AuditorGeneral nor has it been confined to the Public Accounts Committee. In 1977 the Public Service Board received an efficiency review on internal audit conducted by Coopers and Lybrand Services. In summary, that company’s findings were that internal audit arrangements were most unsatisfactory. Coopers and Lybrand stated that in the Australian Public Service there were more than 600 staff employed in the internal audit function and the total salary bill was over $7m a year. In terms of value for money Coopers and Lybrand stated that they were ‘unable to identify sufficient tangible benefits arising from the present internal audit effort which would justify staffing and expenditure of this magnitude’.

As I said earlier, it is perhaps remarkable that despite the significant number of computers and their application to the Public Service we have not yet found more problems such as this. All members of this Parliament should be aware as should all Ministers that we have found one error and I fear that we may well find more because the mistake which was made in this case was essentially simple in its intent. There is no evidence, of which I am aware, of fraud or intent to deceive in this case. It appears to have been a straight error of interpretation. It was a mistake that can be made by any program operator dealing with ADP equipment. I fear that, if we are going to use outside personnel, as we did in this case, to do this type of work- because at that time the Public Service did not have sufficient personnel available- we must be absolutely sure that we are giving the Public Service sufficient resources of manpower and that we are going to pay and train those people properly to make sure that with the implementation of these new techniques the Public Service can do a complex job better and faster. We must also assure ourselves, through the departments which report to this Parliament, that the resources will be made available to ensure especially adequate internal ADP audit procedures so that this error will not occur again.


-In supporting the Opposition’s amendment, I wish to acknowledge that the honourable member for Bradfield (Mr Connolly) has said that obviously the Joint Committee of Public Accounts will be taking evidence as to why there has been such a long delay in detecting the errors in the overpayment of pharmaceutical benefits to pharmacists. He gave some of the reasons that were given to him. I take it that he has no objection to our amendment and that it will be passed without opposition. The honourable member mentioned, among his reasons for the long delay, that a number of other programs were being initiated and undertaken by the Department of Health. He cited Medibank. I remind him that Medibank was not implemented by that Department, but by the Department of Social Security. The Medibank computers did not take away the attention of the Department of Health although one or two very highly qualified members of staff from the Department of Health were transferred to the Department of Social Security. That may have had some impact. Certainly a number of innovative programs were brought forward by the Department of Health which did increase the Department’s work load.

When the Australian Labor Party was in office, it launched such projects as a school dental scheme, community health services and other programs which did need auditing, assessing and monitoring at various stages. We introduced public hospital services in the Australian Capital Territory which until that time were not provided without qualification by means test. I have no complaint about the claim that a number of demands which existed on the Department at the time may have led to some difficulties. The Minister for Veterans’ Affairs (Mr Adermann) mentioned staff shortages in late 1974 and early 1975. 1 submit that, if there were staff shortages then, there should not have been once those shortages became apparent. If it had not been for the application by the present Government of staff ceilings, those staff shortages and the problem may have been overcome. I emphasise that the ideology of the present Government, which is that the more it can cut government spending in this year’s Budget, the better it is for the country, is short sighted, undemocratic, poor management, and would not be tolerated in any large scale private enterprise which, according to the philosophy of the Government, is the test of efficiency.

The honourable member for Bradfield said towards the end of his speech that when the Public Service engages outside personnel it has to be very careful. In engaging outside firms, as was done in this case in the initial assessment, because of this staff shortage, the Public Service Board has to be careful of private enterprise.

Mr Connolly:

– I did not say that.


– The honourable member did not say ‘private enterprise’. I am saying that. The Public Service has to be very careful of all private enterprise when it engages people to fill gaps in the public enterprise system. Was not the honourable member warning us of that when he said that the Public Service should be careful in the engagement of outside personnel? He said that we should have the pay and the training proposals for our Public Service system to ensure that it can work efficiently. It cannot succeed if it is to be done on the basis of spending ceilings and staff ceilings.

Mr Connolly:

– You have had your own.


– We had staff ceilings and spending ceilings. Nevertheless it is not the way to get efficiency in these areas. Even though a little bit of spending may be manipulated within the Public Service system to bring in outside personnel it does not get around staff ceilings. That does not solve the problem. The Department of Health has stated that there could have been a 23 cents overpayment which the honourable member said is an ambit claim. This is a suggestion put forward to counter claims of the Pharmacy Guild of Australia which was claiming perhaps that there was underpayment. At this stage it was not considered necessary to go into the realities of whether it was an overpayment. At a later stage it was considered that because labour costs came out so much lower per prescription this was due to increased efficiency. We still do not know exactly what changed this attitude of the Health Department, when it decided it was not due to increased dispensing efficiency but that it was due to something in the nature of a computer error.

The Minister for Finance (Mr Eric Robinson) was quoted by the honourable member for Bonython (Dr Blewett) in this Parliament today as saying that the Government had taken a tightfisted attitude to public spending. The same sort of message has been repeated more than once a week, on average, whenever Parliament has sat. The obverse of this argument is that the Labor Party spent money ‘like a drunken sailor’ and that it was Medibank that caused the enormous rates of increase in health care costs.

I commend to the Government that it look at the facts, as people have started to do, with the finding of the computer error. It will find that those increased health care costs were not due to Medibank but that they were due to such things as very high increases in nurse ‘s pay which were long overdue and which had been shamefully ignored, as most journalists and specialists in the area had been arguing for years. It was due to things such as the granting of equal pay for females and the establishment of community health programs which all the experts and commonsense people in the community knew had been long neglected. The increases required the putting up of hospital costs.

When one looks at the fundamental needs of the health service one sees that one has to start to spend money before one can save it. Even to this day pruning is going on in the health area which has no relation to the ultimate cost to the community but has relation to the Treasurer (Mr Howard) reducing his deficit and balancing his Budget this year. This is a shortsighted policy which is accelerating the increase of health costs. I will cite one small example, an organisation called GROW. It fosters mutual self-help amongst people with mental hygiene problems. If one reads its annual reports one finds anecdotal evidence of instances of people who have been in and out of mental hospitals and neurological clinics like yo-yos, costing the nation quite a bit by way of bills for tranquillisers and psychotropic drugs of one kind or another. Once these people became involved in the GROW organisation they started to unravel their problems in a sensible, reasonable way which had not been possible with the help of psychiatrists, psychologists, pharmacists, mental hospitals and psychiatric clinics. This is a prime example of the value of community health. This organisation is having its funding cut at a time when it should be expanding and increasing the impact of preventive health in the mental health field which is one of the most expensive fields. The Government has adopted this shortsighted approach to funding. I suspect that this investigation will show that there has been a shortsighted approach to the employment of expertise in the data processing area also.

The honourable member for Bradfield said that the first real suspicion arose in February 1979. We do not know as yet, until more details come out in the course of the inquiry, what a real suspicion means. Degrees of suspicion have been recorded since 1976. One would have thought, knowing that computers make colossal mistakes, that the alarm bell should have sounded some time before February 1979. Even so, if that was a real suspicion in February 1979, surely some notice should have been taken and public attention should have been drawn to this fact. That is the reason for moving our amendment. It reads:

  1. That the House is of the opinion that the Joint Committee of Public Accounts should pay particular attention to and report on:

    1. the inordinate delay by the Executive in discovering the ‘excess payments’, and
    2. the delay of over a year between the recognition of the existence of an ‘excess payment’ situation by the Department of Health and the conveying of that recognition to the Parliament’.

Surely that is the crunch. Why was it that the Minister found any knowledge of these things only this year? Why did he not find this out a year ago? We have been told that the excess cost between 1973-74 and 1979 is estimated at $46,000 per pharmacy. We are not told how much it was per prescription or whether there is a great variation among different kinds of prescriptions. I believe that the Minister should have explained a little more in that line. If the data have been discovered that sort of information should be starting to appear.

Finally, I refer to a point that was made in the Minister’s statement this afternoon. He referred to alternative estimates of the so-called ‘excess payment’ as being- according to one method of calculation- at a lower figure; that is, a lower figure if it is on the basis of taking average pharmacy costs, and a higher figure if it is based on an economic pharmacy cost. My understanding, and clear recollection, is that never at any stage in the years I was Minister did the Government or the Cabinet consider average pharmacy costs. We decided that these costs ought to be estimated on the basis of economic pharmacies, that we were not in the business of subsidising those pharmacies that were not economic. I consider it to be a red herring which should not be put forward as an alternative that we should assess the imputed or assumed excess payments on the basis of average pharmacies. Let us stick to the economic pharmacy when we are considering what these excess payments are and then let us be frank, as the Minister has been in every other respect. The Minister has been prompt, we have been told. If he has been prompt, we believe that someone in the Executive structure has not been prompt. This information should not have emerged so late when the suspicion had been there for so long. I commend the amendment to the House.

Question put:

That the words proposed to be added (Dr Blewett’s amendment) be added.

The House divided. (Mr Deputy Speaker-Mr P. C. Millar)

AYES: 31

NOES: 60

Majority…… 29



Question so resolved in the negative.

Original question resolved in the affirmative.

page 2014


Second Reading

Debate resumed from 2 April, on motion by Mr Street:

That the Bill be now read a second time.

Port Adelaide

-The Conciliation and Arbitration Amendment Bill is a rare example of this Government’s being prepared to place the interests of the citizens of the largest State of our nation above the petty, sectional interests which are the usual beneficiaries of the Federal Government’s industrial relations actions. But it was touch and go because the Ministerfor Industrial Relations (Mr Street) had a real fight in getting this Bill into the Parliament. For two days prior to Easter we witnessed the embarrassing spectacle of the Minister’s having to defend his action to an assorted collection of Government back benchers. Even on the morning of the day the Bill was introduced into Parliament, at the very time when the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission was sitting in Melbourne to hear an application for a further suspension of the Federal awards in dispute in the New South Wales oil industry, the Minister was still trying to placate his back benchers.

What prompted this extraordinary display of back bench muscle? Was it the result of long examination of and careful deliberation about the proposed legislation by the Government’s back bench Committee on Industrial Relations? Was it because those back benchers had formulated an alternative proposal to extract the oil refinery industry in Sydney from the serious industrial mess in which it has resided for almost four years now? Why did we not hear anything from those back benchers until the day before the Bill was introduced? After all, the report of the joint working party established to investigate the provision of a tribunal to regulate conditions of employment in the oil industry in New South Wales was made public in October last year and the agreement between the New South Wales Government and the Federal Government on the present approach was publicly announced in November last year. But why have we not heard a peep from Government back benchers until now? I suggest that it was not a coincidence that on the day on which we first heard from themappropriately enough it was April Fools’ Day- an article by Malcolm Colless appeared in the Australian under the dramatic, if misleading, headline: ‘States to get more power in industrial law ‘. Amongst other things, the article stated:

The Federal Government is preparing to introduce legislation which cuts sharply across the policy of the Prime Minister, Mr Fraser, for a streamlined national industrial relations system.

The draft industrial legislation also conflicts with Mr Fraser ‘s repeated claims in the heat of the present unrest, that trade union power must be contained by the law.

The article continued:

  1. . But instead of strengthening the federal industrial jurisdiction, the . . . legislation will significantly weaken it because it amounts to a handover of federal powers to a State.

Just in case anyone was dense enough to miss the point of the article, the newspaper on the same day also carried an editorial headed: ‘Cave-in to pressure’. Government back benchers might be a bit slow on the uptake but once they have things spelt out for them- leaving aside for the moment that the article and editorial were slanted- they move very quickly. Once again one heard those insidious mutterings: ‘The Minister is a nice bloke but is far too soft’. They were being peddled around Parliament House, and the radio reports of that day were carrying the message around Australia. All that day and well into the night we were treated to the galling spectacle of the Minister’s having to defend his legislation. Even the next morning, on Wednesday, the day the Bill was introduced, the Minister was still trying to persuade the back bench. On the following

Monday, even after the Bill had been introduced, the back bench rumblings continued. But now the blame had been shifted. According to an article by Andrew Kruger in the Sydney Morning Herald of Monday, 7 April, the blame is now being put on the hapless Minister for Employment and Youth Affairs (Mr Viner), who happened to be Acting Minister for Industrial Relations at the time of the petrol strike in New South Wales in June of last year. Of course, by inference this meant shifting the blame onto the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) because, as we all know, the Minister for Employment and Youth Affairs is incapable of any independent action.

As the Minister indicated in his second reading speech this legislation and the complementary legislation that has already been passed by the New South Wales Parliament had its origins in a report by a joint working party of Commonwealth and New South Wales officials which was established by agreement between the two governments as a means of settling a strike which threatened to paralyse New South Wales in June of last year. It has been estimated that if the strike had continued for a day longer than it did, more than half a million people would have been put out of work. The strike had its genesis in a dispute over industrial jurisdiction which commenced back in 1976. It is relevant to point out that until that year refinery operators at the Kurnell and Matraville oil refineries had been regulated by industrial agreements made under the auspices of the Industrial Commission of New South Wales and that that arrangement had proven particularly successful. During a period of more than 20 years refinery operators had lost only five working days as a result of industrial disputes. By all standards, it was a perfectly successful and satisfactory industrial agreement.

In September 1976, following complicated procedures involving the negotiation of new industrial agreements, the operators at these refineries found themselves the subject of two interim Federal awards, one covering the Kurnell refineries and one covering the Matraville refinery. The operators have since steadfastly refused to accept Federal award coverage and have been determined to return to State industrial jurisdiction. The oil companies, particularly Australian Oil Refining Pty Ltd and Australian Lubricating Oil Refinery Ltd, subsidiaries of Caltex Oil (Australia) Pty Ltd, have been equally adamant that the interim Federal awards should continue to apply to these operators.

It must be pointed out that at no time have these Federal awards effectively covered refinery operators at these refineries. In a legal sense, the awards are binding upon employers only, not upon employees. In practice, the awards have been effectively bypassed by means, firstly, of an unregistered agreement negotiated between the employees and the companies and, since June of last year, the Federal awards have been- in suspension. Since then the wages and working conditions of refinery operators at these refineries have been regulated by orders of the New South Wales Minister for Energy, acting under the State’s Energy Authority Act. Therefore, it is patently absurd to describe the present legislation, as Malcolm Colless did in his article, as the handing over of Federal industrial laws to the State. In hindsight, those Federal awards were wrongly applied in the first place and have since been demonstrated to be inoperable.

As I have mentioned, the Joint Commonwealth-State working party was established to ascertain whether there was a way out of this industrial mess. That working party heard submissions from all parties involved in this dispute and proposed a number of feasible options, three in all, which seemed to provide some resolution of the dispute in a manner satisfactory to all parties. I emphasise that the recommendations of this working party were unanimous. The legislation before us gives effect to one of those options, identified by the working party as CI. That, in essence, provides for a joint approach to industrial regulation of the oil refineries in dispute.

The arrangements provide that the Industrial Commission of New South Wales will have jurisdiction in respect of industrial matters concerning employees at Kurnell and Matraville who are, or are entitled to be, members of the Oil Industry Branch of the New South Wales registered Australian Workers’ Union and their employer, Australian Oil Refining Pty Ltd, Australian Lubricating Oil Refinery Ltd and Total Refineries (Australia) Ltd. However, there are restrictions in relation to the Industrial Commission of New South Wales dealing with industrial matters. The Industrial Commission is prohibited form dealing with a claim when the subject matter thereof is the subject of common negotiations. These are defined by the New South Wales legislation as negotiations that take place betwen the parties to a Federal award for the oil industry in anticipation of the expiration of the award or in consequence of the service of the employer respondent to the award of a log of claims by the employee respondent. However, when the common negotiations are completed or the Australian Conciliation and Arbitration Commission makes a decision about the subject matter or matters, the Industrial Commission of New South Wales can determine the matter in respect of the Australian Workers Union members at the three refineries.

In addition, the new arrangements confer on all of the parties to the five major Federal awards covering the oil industry the right to intervene, if they so desire, in proceedings before the Industrial Commission of New South Wales to make submissions that the matter or matters before the Commission should not proceed because it or they are the subject of common negotiations; also to make submissions where a joint sitting is hearing an application concerning these employees. A joint sitting is a sitting in which both a member of the Industrial Commission of New South Wales and a presidential member of the Australian Conciliation and Arbitration Commission may sit together in dealing with an application brought in the State jurisdiction in relation to an industrial matter affecting the employees at the three refineries. Such a sitting may be held only where the industrial matter being dealt with by the Industrial Commission of New South Wales was the subject of common negotiations and has been agreed on between the parties, has been decided by the Australian Commission, or is a matter that affects or is likely to affect oil industry standards.

In these circumstances, the new arrangements will enable a joint sitting to be held if the two members of the respective tribunals so agree but, whether or not there is a joint sitting held in respect of the determination of that industrial matter, the decision is made by the member of the New South Wales Industrial Commission and his order or award is made under the State jurisdiction. There is the usual right of appeal to a Full Bench of the Industrial Commission of New South Wales. When it is decided that there shall not be a joint sitting, the complementary New South Wales legislation requires the member of the Industrial Commission of New South Wales to consult and confer with the Deputy President of the Australian Commission prior to making a final determination of the application. In the event of joint sittings procedural arrangements are to be determined between the prospective members of the two jurisdictions. In respect of industrial matters that are not the subject of common negotiations or do not affect or are not likely to affect industry standards, the usual provisions of the New South Wales Industrial Arbitration Act apply and these new arrangements have no effect on those matters.

Certainly this legislation and the complementary New South Wales legislation are unique, but the principle behind these arrangements is by no means unusual in industrial relations today. As the working party commented in its report, there have been several examples of joint sittings of Federal and State industrial tribunals in recent years. A member of the Industrial Commission of New South Wales and a member of the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission sat together in relation to matters concerning the Department of Motor Transport in New South Wales. Last year we had an example of a joint sitting of the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission and the Industrial Commission of Western Australia in an attempt to resolve a dispute which arose on the waterfront in that State. More frequent joint sittings of Commonwealth and State industrial tribunals have also been supported by the heads of those various tribunals. The President of the Industrial Commission of New South Wales, Sir Alexander Beattie, pointed out in his annual report for 1978 that at the regular heads of tribunals conference organised by Sir John Moore in October 1978 there was agreement that joint sittings had been successful and should be continued. Sir Alexander Beattie also pointed out that the conference had recorded its view that the legislation of the Commonwealth and the States should make provision for holding of joint sittings on a proper legal basis.

More recently a special meeting of Commonwealth and State labour Ministers held in Canberra supported the concept of joint sittings and argued that there should be legislative amendments to enable this to be achieved. None of these facts was reported in the article in the Australian which I referred to earlier and which galvanised the back bench of the Liberal Party into action on this matter. I doubt very much that any of these back benchers would be aware of these facts. I believe it is time for the Minister to be given credit for the way in which he has got this legislation here on the basis of the work done by the working party. The Opposition supports this Bill and believes that, with goodwill on both sides, the passage of this Bill and the complementary legislation passed by the New South Wales Government will bring an end to the protracted industrial disputation which has existed at these refineries since 1976 and will enable them to return to a state of peace such as existed prior to the making of the Federal awards in 1976. .


– I listened with a great deal of pleasure to the speech just delivered by the honourable member for Port Adelaide (Mr Young). It was surprising to hear the remarkable degree of similarity which it bore to the speech of the Minister for Industrial Relations in the New South Wales Parliament. No doubt the honourable member would like us to know the extent to which that is so, and I invite honourable members to look at that speech for the purpose of comparison. The honourable member also made some comments about the role of the Government members back bench committee and of government back bench members generally on this question. I would have to say, as one who has taken an interest in this subject, that his comments were far more fanciful than real, but I dare say that honourable members will not be surprised that that is the case. Of course, in any healthy political party there is an interest in important legislation of this sort and, as one would expect, there are discussions. Legislation results from those discussions and this positive legislation is supported by the Government and by Government members. They include back bench members, if one has to make some sort of distinction.

The legislation is important because it proposes certain amendments to the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. The legislation is complementary to legislation which has been introduced in New South Wales. It is to give effect to the agreement which the honourable member for Port Adelaide mentioned and which finalises some complex legal and jurisdictional industrial relations problems that arose in relation to the Caltex and Total oil refineries in New South Wales. Of course, we all know that, as a result of certain disputes, oil refineries in New South Wales were closed for a certain period and that this caused great inconvenience and difficulty to the people of New South Wales.

The working party which was established to investigate this matter has come up with a solution which is to be attempted. The agreed arrangements which the Minister for Industrial Relations (Mr Street) noted in his second reading speech to the Parliament has these features: They will ensure that the legislation applies to operators and their employees, particularly at the Caltex and Total oil refineries in New South Wales. Procedures for common negotiations for handling claims in other parts of Australia are to be left untouched as a result of these agreed arrangements. Mechanism is provided which will enable matters involving disputes in New South Wales to be dealt with within a unique New South Wales forum established under this legislation. There are procedures for joint sittings. There will be appeals from those joint sittings to the New South Wales jurisdiction.

These are new and unique procedures and there is no doubt that they have been developed to deal with a particular and difficult situation. I will cover that in a little more detail in a moment, but I wish to draw the attention of honourable members to some statements in the speech of the Minister because I believe they put this matter in perspective. The Minister has spelt out that these arrangements have to work and that we, as a government which has been given certain rights by the courts to legislate in this area, have agreed to a co-operative arrangement involving the trade union movement in New South Wales and the New South Wales State Government. This is a significant compromise. I will quote from the Minister’s speech to show the importance that he and I attach to this. The Minister stated:

It can work and serve the community well, but no party touched by it can say that it meets their every requirement. Without goodwill by all concerned it can founder; without vigilance it can be misused. It therefore places responsibilities and obligations squarely on unions and workers, companies and the tribunals.

For our part, we are within the arrangements, doing everything possible both to encourage such goodwill and to ensure the necessary vigilance. The stakes are so high that the Government must and will closely oversight all aspects of the introduction and operation of these arrangements. Let no-one misunderstand our position. While we will support them and help to make them work our fundamental commitment is to ensure that all those who rely on this vital industry can do so without the unpredictable turmoil which has all too often disrupted its operations. I therefore give notice that we will review our position if the opportunity to make the scheme work is not genuinely taken up. Our prime responsibility, to safeguard the community interest, demands we reserve the right to do this.

That was a very important statement by the Minister in relation to the operation of this legislation. It is clearly an attempt to make a cooperative arrangement work, but if it does not work, if the parties to it are not prepared to take the effort to make it work, there can be no assurance that this arrangement will continue. That has to be said in light of the situation revealed in the report of the working party. I refer honourable members to the history that was outlined in the schedule because it is not a very pretty picture of industrial relations in our community.

Mr Innes:

– Don ‘t swoon.


– I note that the honourable member has endeavoured to interject upon me in relation to this matter and I assume that by doing so he is indicating in some way his approval of those who do not want the situation to work.

Mr Innes:

– I do not approve of your Minister intervening in the Telecom dispute.


-Order! The honourable member for Melbourne will have a chance to debate this matter anon.

Mr Innes:

– There have been interjections from the left.

Mr Innes:

– Why don ‘t you be fair about it?


-If the honourable member does not behave himself, he will be warned. He is not entitled to interject. All members of this House are protected by Standing Orders. They are allowed to express their own opinion according to Standing Orders. The honourable member is not abiding by them.


-Mr Deputy Speaker, I will obey your injunction and endeavour to ignore the honourable member. Appendix A of the report of the Joint Commonwealth/New South Wales Working Party contains a history of the events that led to this situation. There has been internal dissension in the AWU in New South Wales during the late 1960s and the 1970s. The report recounts that the AWU members employed at the two oil refineries at Kurnell and the Total refinery at Matraville formed a new union known as the Petroleum Refiners Operatives Association. The report goes on to recount the way in which the Petroleum Refiners Operatives Association sought registration in New South Wales. The Association was challenged by many other unions that were concerned. These included the Federated Engine Drivers and Firemen’s Association of Australia (NSW) and the ‘AWU (NSW). Subsequently in 1971 arrangements were reached between the then State Secretary, Mr Oliver, and the PROA representatives. The group known as the PROA was to be permitted to set up and to organise its own autonomous branch within the AWU (NSW). This became known as the Oil Industry Branchthe branch that has caused considerable difficulties in relation to these negotiations. The report details the attempts to overcome the problems concerned with the fragmentation that arose in New South Wales. There were attempts to reach agreements over the standard hours of work and there developed the concept of common negotiations which were important to achieve uniform conditions in hours of work, annual sick leave, the major conditions of overtime, meal allowances, shift work and so on. But the people in New South Wales were still separate from these arrangements.

I think it is important to note that right through the period up to 1976 different logs of claims were drafted and served on employers and these caused considerable difficulty in achieving a situation in which we had other than peace in the oil industry throughout Australia. We had leap-frogging by people wanting to achieve the same conditions that were achieved in another section. Quite marked differences developed in the conditions that were available for employees in the New South Wales industry and those that were in the industry generally throughout Australia.

For the purpose of comparison I quote the fairly recent rates of pay for head operators in New South Wales. Such a person receives $282.60 a week. The weekly rate of pay for operators at a grade 1 level in other oil refineries was $248.70. A head operator grade 5 receives $267.20. So, clearly there were differences in salaries and conditions which pertained in the New South Wales situation and that which pertained throughout Australia. These differences had to be dealt with. As a result attempts were made in the courts to overcome these difficulties. Ultimately, after a number of legal decisions, the Full Bench of the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission decided in 1976 that employment in the oil industry should be covered by Federal awards because of the nature of the industry. The people in New South Wales still continued to resist this situation.

It was remarkable to hear the spokesman for the Opposition indicate a degree of acceptance of this situation. But that has not always been the case. It is clear that there was a considerable degree of concern amongst the Federal unionsthose other unions that I have mentioned already. There was concern amongst the oil companies. There was also concern expressed by the Arbitration Commission itself at the fragmentation which was occurring. One can understand this. Federal unions are likely to be concerned at the establishment of a precedent for other groups of workers to detach themselves from the Federal body. The oil companies are likely to view with dismay the possibilities that would open up for competitive rounds of claims as Federal unions seek to obtain conditions granted for New South Wales oil workers. Of course, the very authority of the Arbitration Commission itself may have been weakened by the existence of a special tribunal especially as the right of appeal from decisions of joint sittings lies in New South Wales to the New South Wales jurisdiction.

I direct honourable members’ attention to some of the background that has been reported in the Press in relation to these disputes because it is quite clear there were personality differences of a significant nature involved in the reasons for the persistence of the New South Wales people in these oil refineries to seek to separate themselves from conditions applying in the rest of Australia. According to an article in the Australian Financial Review of 8 June 1979, much of this problem arose from a bitter factional dispute between the Federal and State branches of the AWU and particularly between their respective secretaries, Mr Frank Mitchell and Mr Charlie Oliver. The article went on to state:

Neither loses an opportunity to attack the other’s honesty, ability or industrial know-how.

When Mr Oliver challenged Mr Mitchell’s leadership of the federal union in an election two years ago, Mr Mitchell engineered Mr Oliver’s dismissal as a member of the federal branch of the union, thus disqualifying him from the election.

It was against this background that these sort of personalities were involved and some form of agreement had to be achieved, and it is more credit to the Minister for Industrial Relations (Mr Street) that, in this sort of situation and faced with these sort of personalities, some element of compromise has been arrived at, as difficult as it might be. These people, in pursuit of their own objectives, brought New South Wales into a most difficult industrial situation.

Today I happened to pick up a copy of the National Times of 30 June 1979. This newspaper contains an article by David Hickie which recounts some of the events. It is worth while to remember what we went through in New South Wales at that time. He had this to say:

Saturday, June 1 6: His Minister for Energy and Industrial Relations, Pat Hills, being overseas, NSW Premier . . arranged a last-minute meeting between -

Various union representatives. The article continued:

After the hour-long meeting Addison said his men were fed up with legal manoeuvring by Caltex over the dispute’. This was the same charge levelled by Caltex at the New South Wales AMU during the last three years . . .

Sunday, June 17: The men voted 248 to 2 to stop work at Caltex ‘s two Kurnell refineries and at the Total refinery at Matraville . . .

It went on to advise that the unions would not meet again until Monday, 25 June- eight days later. The article continued:

Monday, June 1 8: Panic buying began at dawn, and police were called to several long queues in the Sydney metropolitan area as violence, traffic accidents ana queue-jumping broke out. Maroubra police arrived at -a scuffle at Kensington, while incidents occurred outside stations at Sans Souci, Brighton and Lane Cove . . .

Oliver launched a blistering attack on the whole system of legal regulation of industrial matters. It sounded a little hollow, particularly as his State branch had used the legal loopholes to cop out of the Federal system when the decision went against them in the 1 976 hearing.

Tuesday, June 19: Granville man Ivan Banavac had his jaw broken in a brawl among motorists at a station on the Great Western Highway at Westmead . . .

At 6.30 p.m. the NSW Government announced its rationing plans.

Wednesday, June 20: The petrol rationing scheme was in chaos . . . with fewer than 100 of Sydney’s 1,500 stations opening … at 7 a.m.

This was the situation that we are faced with in New South Wales. It does us well to recall the hardship and difficulty that was caused in New South Wales as a result of this dispute, one which all the reports indicated arose from personalities - personalities in the labour movement, who were not prepared to compromise, and who wanted to have their own way at any cost.

I think it is pertinent to look at what has been going on in New South Wales. On 2 1 May, before this strike which denied New South Wales fuel arose, a very interesting article appeared in the Australian Financial Review. It is relevant to quote from that article because of the emphasis placed by the honourable member for Port Adelaide (Mr Young) on the speech of the New South Wales Minister for Industrial Relations and Minister for Energy. By quoting from that speech it is quite clear that the honourable member supported the New South Wales Government in its efforts to bring about this particular result. In the article Ian Davis had this to say:

The votes the NSW branch of the Australian Workers Union will control at next month’s NSW Labor Party annual conference have become a key behind-the-scenes element in the NSW oil industry dispute.

In a complicated piece of horse trading one of the most astute political scrappers of the trade-unions and the Labor Party, NSW AWU Secretary Mr Charlie Oliver has insured himself of the full backing of the NSW Government and its Minister for Energy and Industrial Relations in his . . dispute with Caltex over whether AWU members at the Caltex Kurnell oil refinery will be subject to State or Federal industrial jurisdiction.

Mr Oliver is understood to have offered Mr Hills the 2 1 voted his union commands at the annual ALP State conference at the June long weekend.

That was in relation to the dispute that had arisen over the attempts by the powerful officers group in the New South Wales Labor Party to change the rules of membership of the State Australian Labor Party Caucus. Those allegations were made at that time. They were not refuted. It is clear the extent to which the New South Wales Government was prepared to capitulate in that matter and the extent to which the New South Wales Government has been prepared to capitulate in other matters. For the purposes of the record I would indicate that the Minister for Industrial Relations detailed some of those matters in New South Wales in his speech on Saturday, 22 March 1980, at the official opening of the New South Wales State Council in Bathurst. It is clear that the New South Wales Government has been prepared to capitulate on many matters in the industrial relations arena. It has been prepared to take this approach which had led to a fragmented system of industrial relations because of the wheeler-dealing of the Australian Workers Union in New South Wales. It is important to look at those words of the Minister for Industrial Relations which I quoted at the beginning of my address tonight. What he says to those people who are involved in New South Wales is this: ‘Here is the scheme that you have sought. It has to work, but the working of it is up to you. If it does not work then you will be responsible for us, the Commonwealth, having to reassert our position as it is clear under the law’.

Mr Les McMahon:

– I will answer a few questions asked by the honourable member for Dundas (Mr Ruddock). Firstly, however, I want to outline the purpose of the Conciliation and Arbitration Amendment Bill. I spoke to the Minister for Industrial Relations (Mr Street), who is sitting at the table, and he has agreed to the incorporation in Hansard of a document relating to the Bill after I quote from a few relevant paragraphs. The document sets out the purpose of the Bill as follows:

To provide, in accordance with an agreement reached with the New South Wales Government, for joint sittings for the Australian Conciliation and Arbitration Commission and the Industrial Commission of New South Wales to deal with certain oil industry matters.


The Full Bench of the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission decided in 1976 that employment in the oil industry should be covered by federal awards because of the national nature of the industry.

The operators at Australian Lubricating Oil Refinery Ltd (ALOR), Australia Oil Refining Pty Ltd (AOR), and Total Refinery Australia Ltd (TRAL) refused to accept federal coverage because they received better wages and conditions under the State award. Industrial disputation over a period of three years culminated in a strike and petrol rationing in June 1979, following which the Federal Arbitration Commission suspended the operation of its awards for three months to allow a solution to be worked out. This was later extended to 31 March 1980.

That is the main text of the document and I ask leave for it to be incorporated in Hansard.

Mr Street:

- Mr Deputy Speaker, as I understand it, it is the text not of the Bill but of the second reading speech of the Minister for Industrial Relations which the honourable member is seeking to incorporate.

Mr Les McMahon:

– No, it is a short digest of the Bill prepared by the Parliamentary Library.

Leave granted.

The document read as follows-



Date Introduced: 2 April 1 980

House: House of Representatives

Presented by: Hon. A. A. Street, Minister for Industrial Relations

Short Digest of Bill


To provide, in accordance with an agreement reached with the New South Wales Government, for joint sittings of the Australian Conciliation and Arbitration Commission and the Industrial Commission of New South Wales to deal with certain oil industry matters.


The Full Bench of the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission decided in 1 976 that employment in the oil industry should be covered by federal awards because of the national nature of the industry.

The operators at Australian Lubricating Oil Refinery Ltd. (ALOR), Australian Oil Refining Pty Ltd (AOR), and Total Refineries Australia Ltd (TRAL) refused to accept federal coverage because they received better wages and conditions under the State award. Industrial disputation over a period of three years culminated in a strike and petrol rationing in June 1979, following which the Federal Arbitration Commission suspended the operation of its awards for three months to allow a solution to be worked out. This was later extended to 3 1 March 1980.

A joint Commonwealth/State working party was established to investigate proposals for the settlement of the jurisdictional problems in the oil industry of NSW. During the period of suspension of Federal award coverage, industrial relations at the refinery were regulated by State Government directives and then by emergency legislation passed in the NSW Parliament in November 1979 which enabled the appointment of a judge from the NSW Industrial Commission to deal with disputes in the NSW oil industry.

In a joint Stale/Commonwealth statement issued on 20 December 1979, it was announced that an agreement had been reached to provide for joint sittings of the Australian Conciliation and Arbitration Commission and the Industrial Commission of NSW to deal with certain industrial matters in the NSW oil industry. It was agreed that this approach would apply only to the operators at the AOR, ALOR and TRAL refineries in NSW; that common negotiations- the established process for handling federal claims by the federal parties within the federal jurisdiction- would proceed as they have always done; that a mechanism would be provided including the right of intervention within the NSW jurisdiction for determining which matters should be the subject of a joint sitting; that appeals from decisions of joint sittings would lie in the NSW jurisdiction. This solution requires legislation to be passed by both the State and the Commonwealth Parliaments. An amendment to the NSW Industrial Arbitration Act 1 940 to incorporate this agreement has been passed and is expected to receive the Royal Assent in the near future. This Bill seeks to fulfil the Commonwealth’s part of the agreement.

Main Provisions

Clause 3 inserts s. 4A after s. 4 of the Principal Act. Proposed sub-section 4A ( 1) defines ‘oil industry industrial matter’, ‘prescribed employee’, ‘prescribed employer’ and prescribed New South Wales Act’. Proposed sub-section 4A (2) limits the application of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act 1904 over oil industry matters to this section; proposed sub-section 4A (3) allows for the concurrent operation of the NSW Industrial Arbitration Act insofar as that Act makes provisions with respect to oil industry industrial matters; proposed sub-section 4A (4) allows for the appointment of a Presidential Member who shall exercise powers that are conferred by the prescribed NSW Act for the purposes of this section (proposed sub-section 4A (5 )).

Finance, Industries, Trade &

Development Group

Legislative Research Service 16 April 1980

Mr Les McMahon:

– The principles embodied in the New South Wales legislation and the complementary Federal legislation are novel, but by no means unheard of in industrial relations. Section 67 of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act provides that the President of the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission may arrange for a deputy president to confer with a State industrial authority with a view to securing co-ordination between any awards made or to be made under Part III of the Act or any order, awards, decisions or determinations made or given or to be made by that authority.

As has been pointed out by the joint working party established to investigate the provision of a tribunal to regulate conditions of employment in the oil industry in New South Wales, there have been several examples of joint sittings of Federal and State industrial tribunals in recent years. A member of the Industrial Commission of New South Wales and a member of the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission sat together in relation to matters concerning the Department of Motor Transport in New South Wales. Last year, a joint sitting of the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission and the Industrial Commission in Western Australia was held in an attempt to resolve a dispute which arose on the waterfront in that State. The President of the Industrial Commission of New South Wales, Sir Alexander Beattie, stated in his annual report in 1978 that a conference of heads of tribunals of the various Federal and State industrial tribunals in October 1978 recorded the view that the legislation of the Commonwealth and States should make provision for the holding of a joint sitting on a proper legal basis. That is to be found at page 36 of the President’s report.

More recently, the conference of Ministers for Labour who are examining the future of the Australian industrial relations system- a working party which was established by the Premiers Conference in June 1979- has also reached agreement that joint sittings of the various Federal and State tribunals would be a significant advance in overcoming many of the jurisdictional problems in industrial relations today.

The legislation under discussion is a concrete expression of the desires and wishes which have been expressed by these various conferences of industrial tribunals and Ministers for Labour. It presents the opportunity of providing a permanent solution to this complex industrial dispute by satisfying the demands of oil industry operators and the demands of oil companies, while not disturbing the existing arrangements of other unions and companies in the oil industry.

I say this to indicate that the Opposition agrees with the Bill as it is outlined. However I take umbrage at some issues mentioned by the honourable member for Dundas in his attack on the trade union movement. For the last five years since this Government came to power the Liberal and National Country parties have played a very significant role in causing arguments amongst the people of Australia involved in the trade union movement in this dispute, if it were not for the New South Wales Government and people of the calibre of the New South Wales Premier, Neville Wran, and the New South Wales member for Phillip and Minister for Industrial Relations, Pat Hills, part of whose electorate falls within the Federal electorate of Sydney, and a man who is worried about the people, agreement on how to deal with the problems of the New South Wales oil industry would not have been reached. I was disgusted to hear the honourable member for Dundas condemning the New South Wales Government for the work it had done and giving the credit to the Federal Government.

For some reason the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) has some reason in the back of his mind to divide the country. This is not the view of the Minister for Industrial Relations (Mr Street) who is sitting at the table. He is a person whom I respect.

Mr Ruddock:

– We will work with any reasonable people

Mr Les McMahon:

– Yes, I agree with the honourable member. The point I was making is that he is a person I respect but the Prime Minister seems bent on causing arguments, disruption and hatred between States. The Premier of New South Wales is respected. The honourable member for Dundas is from New South Wales. He is very lucky that he is a member of the Federal Parliament and not the State Parliament. If he were a member of the State Parliament he would be in jeopardy of losing his seat. He has attacked his own State and what the New South Wales Government is trying to do in looking after the people of New South Wales in industrial matters. I have spoken to the Minister for Industrial Relations, who is sitting at the table, about incorporating in Hansard a statement made by Mr Pat Hills, and I now seek leave to do so.

Leave granted.

The document read as follows:



Motion ( by Mr Hills) agreed to:

That leave be given to bring in a Bill for an Act to amend the Industrial Arbitration Act, 1 940, to provide for the hearing and determination of industrial matters affecting certain employees in the oil industry.

Bill presented and read a first dme.

Second Reading

Mr HILLS [Phillip], Minister for Industrial Relations and Minister for Energy [11.58]; I move;

That this bill be now read a second time.

The oil operators and their employers, the major oil companies, have been at loggerheads for so long that the people of New South Wales- and the operators and the companies themselves- must have begun to despair of any lasting solution being reached in this protracted and disastrous dispute. Honourable members know that, due to this dispute, at midday on Tuesday, 19th June last, refinery operators proceeded to commence shutting down production at three of the four oil refineries in New South Wales, precipitating a critical shortage of refined petroleum products in most of the State. The refineries to be closed down were the Australian Lubricating Oil Refinery Limited and Australian Oil Refining Pty Limited at Kurnell and Total Refineries Australia Limited at Matraville. The operators of these refineries were members of the Australian Workers’ Union, a union registered in New South Wales.

The effect of the stoppage at that time was aggravated by the fact that the only remaining refinery, the Shell Company of Australia at Clyde, was operating at reduced capacity because of essential repair and maintenance work being undertaken. I am sure honourable members know that the reason for the operators ‘ action was their objection to being covered by two federal awards. These had been the subject of legal wrangling between the operators and the companies since 1976 because the operators were determined that they should work under the State jurisdiction to which their union was subjected for twenty-three years with only five days loss of work during that period. The oil companies employing the operators were unequivocal in their stance that the interim federal awards which had already pertained should continue to apply. This deadlock of views virtually brought the State to a standstill while all parties concerned wrestled with a recalcitrant industrial problem that defied immediate solution. As a consequence of this dispute and to ensure a reasonable flow of petrol into the community, on 14th November last I introduced into the House the Energy Authority (Further Amendment) Bill and spoke at some length, giving details of the confrontation between the parties. Also, I emphasized to the House that the Government had been willing at all times and on all occasions to initiate or support any moves that would bring permanent peace to this troubled industry.

I pointed out that the Government had suggested setting up a working party to examine the whole intricate situation in the hope that it could, with the co-operation of all concerned, bring us nearer to a solution of the problem. In the ultimate, the establishment of such a party, the joint Commonwealth and New South Wales working party to examine the nature and feasibility of a tribunal to regulate conditions of employment in the oil industry in New South Wales, became an integral part of the subsequent agreement that kept petrol flowing in this State. The proposed measure gives effect to one of several recommendations made by that working party. It is the one most acceptable to all the parties concerned.

In relation to oil operators employed at Australian Oil Refinery and Australian Oil Refining at Kurnell and Total Refineries Australia at Matraville, the bill provides that the Industrial Commission of New South Wales will have jurisdication in respect of industrial matters concerning employees at Kurnell and Matraville who are, or are entitled to be, members of the oil industry branch of the State registered Australian Workers Union and their employer Australian Oil Refinery Limited, Australian Oil Refining Limited and Total Refineries Australia.

This agreement was reached following many conferences between the Commonwealth Minister for Industrial Relations, the Hon. A. Street, and me, and also with all parties to oil industry awards, and will be achieved when the Commonwealth Government passes a complementary bill to the one before the House, removing from the Australian Conciliation and Arbitration Commission jurisdiction to deal with industrial matters affecting members of the Australian Workers Union. Yesterday the Hon. A. Street informed me that he intends to bring the Commonwealth bill before the federal Parliament next Wednesday.

As I have said, this bill will enable the Industrial Commission of New South Wales to exercise industrial jurisdication in respect of the employees who are members of the Australian Workers Union employed at the Kurnell and Matraville refineries, subject to the concurrent Commonwealth legislation, but it does impose some restrictions in relation to dealing with industrial matters. First, the Industrial Commission is prohibited from dealing with a claim when the subject matter of that claim is the subject of common negotiations. Common negotiations are negotiations that take place between the parties to a federal award for the oil industry in anticipation of the expiration of the award or in consequence of the service of the employer respondent to the award of a log of claims by the employee respondent to the award. However, when the common negotiations are completed or when the Australian Concilation and Arbitration Commission makes a decision about the subject matter or matters, the Industrial Commission of New South Wales can then determine the matter in respect of the Australian Workers Union members at the three refineries.

Second, the bill confers on all the parties to the five major federal awards covering the oil industry the right to intervene, if they so desire, in proceedings before the Industrial Commission of New South Wales to make submissions that the matter or matters before the Industrial Commission should not proceed because it or they are the subject of common negotiations, and also to make submissions where a joint sitting is hearing an application concerning these employees. A joint sitting is a sitting where both a member of the Industrial Commission of New South Wales and a presidential member of the Australian Conciliation and Arbitration Commission may sit together in dealing with an application brought in the State jurisdiction in relation to an industrial matter affecting the employees at the three refineries. Such a sitting may be held only where the industrial matter being dealt with by the Industrial Commission of New South Wales was the subject of common negotiations and has been agreed upon between the parties or has been decided by the Australian commission, or is a matter that affects or is likely to affect oil industry standard’s.

In these circumstances the bill will enable a joint sitting to be held if the two members of the respective tribunals so agree but, whether or not there is a joint sitting held in respect of the determination of that industrial matter, the decision is made by the member of the New South Wales Industrial Commission and his order or award is an order or award made under the State jurisdiction and there is the usual right of appeal to a full bench of the Industrial Commission of New South Wales. Where it is decided that there shall not be a joint sitting the bill requires the member of the Industrial Commission of New South Wales to consult and confer with the deputy president of the Australian commission prior to making a final determination of the application. In the event of a joint sitting, the procedural arrangements are left to be determined between the respective members of the two jurisdictions. In respect of industrial matters that are not the subject of common negotiations, or do not affect or are not likely to affect industry standards, the usual provisions of the Industrial Arbitration Act apply, and this bill has no effect on those matters.

The Government acknowledges that the bill is unique and stresses that it has become necessary because of a unique industrial situation well known to all members of Parliament. Both the federal Minister for Industrial Relations, the Hon. A. A. Street, and I have gone on record as acknowledging the unique situation associated with the bill and the concurrent Commonwealth legislation. We have both stated that our respective legislation will be confined only to the employees the subject of this bill at the three refineries specified and that the legislation was not and would not be used as a precedent for similar legislation in respect of other persons.

I am delighted to bring this bill before the House as I am confident that its passage will bring an end to the industrial disputation that has existed at these three refineries since the interim federal awards in 1976. Because of the urgency and importance of this measure I have given in my second reading speech the details that would ordinarily be included in the information tabled at the conclusion of that speech. I commend the bill to the House.

Debate adjourned on motion by Mr Schipp.

Mr Les McMahon:

– Let me deal with one point in the Minister’s second reading speech which was mentioned by the honourable member for Dundas. The Minister stated:

It should not go unsaid that if in June last year the Premier of New South Wales had been willing to acknowledge that it would be in the best interests of all Australians to support a national, rather than a sectional approach to industrial relations, then this whole tortuous exercise may not have been necessary. It is. unfortunate that his recognition of this enlightened approach emerged so long after he had in fact associated himself with sectional interests.

What sectional interests’ are they? All the Minister is worried about is trying to have a disputation in New South Wales. Many thousands of people will be unemployed or have already been dismissed. The Minister is worrying about trying to look after New South’ Wales and, in this part of his second reading speech, he comes up with a point about the sectional interests of Neville Wran, who is Premier of New South Wales, and Pat Hills, who is looking after the industrial relations side of the ministry. I cannot understand, if the Government is looking for industrial peace, why it should have come out with this heavyhanded attitude of blaming other people in other States. The New South Wales Premier has the work to do, he has got the State going, he is trying to rectify the unemployment situation; and we have the Minister for Industrial Relations coming out with this point at this time. I do not know why he came out with it. He is a person who has commanded a lot of respect from this side of the House and from the Australian community. Further on in his second reading speech he said about this Bill:

It can work and serve the community well, but no party touched by it can say that it meets their every requirement. Without goodwill by all concerned it can founder; without vigilance it can be misused. It therefore places responsibilities and obligations squarely on unions and workers, companies and the tribunals.

But what about the Government? What is the responsibility of the Government? The people, the trade union movement and the housewives are looking to the Government for leadership. Government members are the ones who have to give leadership; they are the ones who make the laws. They are the ones who have the numbers. Leadership cannot come from below. This is where the injustice lies. Injustice is with the trade union movement all the time. We have to understand how the trade union movement works. The Australian Council of Trade Unions communicate with the labour councils; the labour councils communicate with the trade union movement; the trade union movement communicates with the shop committee; and the shop committee communicates with the workers.

Communication goes from the Government to the employer. Let us look at the organisation. We have the Government, which is sympathetic with management- the multinational corporationsand we have the rank and file. We can discuss legislation all day and all night. In other words, one has to be a lawyer- a legal person- to understand the implications of all that is happening in the trade union movement and what is happening in government. What about the common workers, the five million people who are trying to rear families? What about the person who is trying to get together enough money to pay his debts? Does he understand government and employer organisations? They do not have that common touch of the man or woman on the shop floor.

We can argue all day and all night about legislation if we do not get back to the fundamentals of making legislation that the people can understand. We will come to the stage at which people will not be able to understand what we are saying in Parliament in relation to the legal aspects of a Bill. The grass roots of the trade union movement is the worker, to whom the employer has to pay the wages. We have the employers with their education on one side and the workers with their education on the other side; there is no in between. One would not think one would have to say that in the Australian Parliament. The communication between employer and employees is so far apart. Communication is hard to come by. The union movement goes from the ACTU down to those at the grass roots level.

As I have said to this Parliament many times, many employers look after their management. They send their management staff to university and to special schools on industrial relations. Here we have the work force from which productivity comes- a little part that has no communication. The trade union movement has to communicate in its way with its members. We are talking about looking after Australia, but how are we to look after Australia when its administration is one-sided? We have the rich and the poor. I say this honestly because I believe that in 1980, and with the changes that will come in the future, we have to come together on issues. We all agree on industrial peace. This year we are to have an election. Prime Minister Fraser has said that industrial peace will be the biggest issue that he will use in 1980 from July perhaps until the end of December. We do not know when the election will take place. Industrial relations will be the main theme of this election. An article appeared in today’s Daily Mirror headed: Secret Strike Ballot Law Soon’. It states:

Street moves on unions.

Legislation allowing unionists to demand a secret ballot on strike votes is being drafted by the Federal Government.

Union members are often forced to vote for strikes under the present show-of-hands method, the Government claims.

The right to apply for a secret ballot would remove that threat of coercion or intimidation.

A call for a secret ballot now.

So the article goes on. In what way are we interfering with this proposed legislation. The Minister would understand that, rumour or not, we have to tell the people in the labour force, the trade union movement, that it is not before the Parliament now. The article states that the Minister for Industrial Relations supports it. A Press statement put out by the New South Wales Department of Industrial Relations and Employment stated:

ACTU vice president Cliff Dolan today attacked the Federal Government over proposed legislation empowering rank and file unionists to demand secret strike ballots.

He said he was greatly concerned that the Government had seen fit to consider the legislation without first consulting the union movement.

How are we to get organisation, how are we to get unity when there is no-co-ordination between the Government and the ACTU? It might be a rumour; it might not be but it was the subject of an article written today by Rex Jory in Canberra for the Daily Mirror. The Press release continued:

Mr Dolan said that the proposed legislation was more likely to prolong disputes than prevent them.

He said that apart from the time consumed in the balloting process, unionists would be likely to respond negatively to any further Government intrusion in their affairs.

But Mr Dolan said he does not believe the legislation would constitute much more than a nuisance should it become law.

He said he did not envisage the sort of militant response provoked by actions taken against unions under statutes like the Trade Practices Act.

How are we to get unity, how are we to get productivity; how are we to get the trade union movement and the employers to work as a team when there are such leaks of information? This is to be one of the most important issues in the next election. I shall conclude by dealing with what the New South Wales Premier, Neville Wran, said on Sunday at the South Australian Industrial Relations Society convention. He stated certain facts. I shall say only a few words on this matter because I said that I would speak for only a certain time. An article in the Daily Telegraph of Monday, 21 April 1980 states:

The Premier, Mr Wran, has called for a full and independent inquiry into Australia’s industrial laws, which, he said, have become a ‘hotch-potch ‘of political amendments.

Mr Wran said yesterday that trade unions, employers and the community have lost confidence in industrial relations.

The present Conciliation and Arbitration Act is a hotchpotch of amendments made over many years,’ Mr Wran said.

Many of the amendments were made by governments for political reasons rather than a genuine desire to establish a rational industrial relations system.’

Mr Wran’s statement has been reported in many other newspapers such as the Australian, the Sydney Morning Herald and the Melbourne Sun. So he had very good coverage on this matter. All I am trying to convey to the Minister and to the House is that we should try to work as a team on industrial relations matters. In the future, in the 1980s, we should not bring in only one part of legislation relating to industrial relations. The honourable member for Port Adelaide (Mr Young), the shadow Minister for Industrial Relations, has said that we agree with this legislation, but we need more than this one Bill to get unity. We have to work as a team. The ACTU, management, the Government and all sections of the Australian community have to work together to make this a success in the 1980s.


– I was surprised at some of the statements made by the honourable member for Sydney (Mr Les McMahon) during his speech. In the mid part of the honourable member’s speech it seemed to me that he was implying that in some way the Government was conducting a vendetta against the poor downtrodden underpaid workers of Australia and their union organisations. I think I should put to rest some of the inaccuracies in those inferences in the speech of the honourable member for Sydney. The Minister for Industrial Relations (Mr Street) in his second reading speech on this Bill, and on many other occasions, has said that the Government’s prime responsibility in industrial relations is to safeguard the community. That is what the Minister has said in this second reading speech. I have heard him say the same thing on many other occasions. But the honourable member for Sydney, in the course of his speech, seemed to imply that the trade union movement is, in some way, immune from its responsibilities to the community and certainly is above the law. It cannot be said to this house that such a situation should apply. That statement must be countered.

Let us face the situation that we had in this dispute and which has led to the present legislation. We are talking about a minority of workers in oil refineries in New South Wales. Those workers, in the main, average in the order of $20,000 a year. I wonder whether the honourable member for Sydney would call those people underpaid workers. They are highly paid workers in our community by any stretch of the imagination. Yet, it was these people who, for the most obscure reasons, were prepared to close the oil refineries of New South Wales, leave that State without petroleum fuels and, as a flow-on effect of that, leave New South Wales without petroleum products and put industries and people out of work. Is that a responsible act by any people in our community? Is it irresponsible of the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Nixon) to introduce legislation in an attempt to protect the community against that sort of irresponsible action? Yet, the honourable member for Sydney in his speech would have us believe that the Government and the Minister are, in some way, conducting a vendetta against these people. Surely it is responsible of this Government to bring in legislation to protect the community against people who are prepared to use such blackmail tactics against the community.

The honourable member for Dundas (Mr Ruddock), in the course of his speech, gave us a detailed history of the personality clashes in the various unions involved in the oil industry in New South Wales. Those clashes are partly to blame for the dispute that occurred in June of last year. I think most people in the community would not understand and, quite frankly, would have little interest in personality disputes between various union leaders. True, it may be important to those people who are directly involved, but to the community generally, it has no interest at all. Quite frankly it is of no consequence at all. It is this personality clash that has led to people being thrown out of work and a whole State being left without any petroleum products. What is the result of this legislation? I do not think that anybody on either side of this House would agree that this legislation is either necessary or desirable. It has been introduced only to pacify a very small minority of people in New South Wales who are prepared to use blackmail tactics again if they are not, in some way, pacified by this or similar legislation. Nobody on either side of the House would agree that this legislation is or should be necessary.

What is happening as a result of this legislation is that effectively we are setting up another industrial tribunal to hear and to settle disputes. Anyone who has an interest in industrial relations- either the employers, the workers or the governments of this country- would agree that there are already too many industrial tribunals in Australia. Already, those industrial tribunals at State and Federal level overlap and cause dissension between themselves in the particular awards and provisions that they make. The honourable member for Sydney said that during the weekend the Premier of New South Wales, Mr Wran, described the industrial relations organisations in Australia at the moment as a hotchpotch. I think most people would agree with that. There are too many industrial tribunals; there is overlapping legislation between the Commonwealth and the States. This matter does need very careful consideration. But this legislation, instead of correcting that situation, simply compounds the situation. I am surprised that Mr Wran, having come to the conclusion that this proliferation of industrial tribunals is already a hotchpotch, would suggest that there should be, in fact, another tribunal to hear disputes. I think Mr Wran perhaps has got confused about what his true beliefs are and where his relationship lies with the heavy-handed people in the trade union movement in New South Wales.

Those views are held not only by Mr Wran but also by others who have an interest in industrial relations. The Australian Council of Trade Unions, in fact, strongly supports a national approach to the oil industry in Australia. That fact was emphasised by the working party from both the Commonwealth and the State which looked into this matter. The ACTU, the supreme body of the trade union movement in Australia, agrees that there should be a national approach to the oil industry and to the provisions that are made for workers in the oil industry. Yet, we have a small minority of workers in the refineries in New South Wales who, by using blackmail tactics, have been prepared to leave New South Wales without petroleum products. They insist that they must have a special tribunal. Because they are in a sensitive industrial area in which they are able to use those blackmail tactics, both the Commonwealth and the New South Wales governments are forced to accede to that demand despite the recommendations that are made by a working party to investigate this matter and despite the fact that the ACTU disagrees that is a proper and responsible approach. This is the sort of thing that is happening in industrial relations in Australia at the moment.

It must also be emphasised that the working party which investigated this matter for the governments made the point that what was being suggested in its report was not a satisfactory solution to this problem. The report states:

The Working Party recognises the national character of the oil industry. The key acknowledgment that the validity of the interim federal awards has been upheld in the High Court and the undesirability of any solution which would establish or enhance the possibility of ‘leap-frogging’ within the industry.

I believe this is what the oil industry workers in New South Wales are looking to do. They want to establish another body to determine special provisions for themselves so that those provisions can then be used as a basis for leapfrogging by other workers. I do not think that anybody could agree that that is a responsible approach for the community as a whole. It is this possibility against which the Minister is keen to guard the Australian community. I have to point out to the House that the Minister, being mindful of this possibility, gave notice in his second reading speech that the Government is watching this matter very closely and, despite any arrangements that may have been entered into, is prepared if necessary to change those arrangements. In his second reading speech, the Minister said:

I therefore give notice that we will review our position if the opportunity to make this scheme work is not genuinely taken up. Our prime responsibility, to safeguard the community interest, demands we reserve the right to do this.

So the Government will be watching very closely what happens with these arrangements between the two industrial tribunals. It will be watching the reaction to those tribunals of the union movement. It will also be watching what happens as a result of decisions that come from that tribunal. Very responsibly, the Minister and the Government reserve the right to make alternative arrangements if there is not a genuine desire by all of the parties to those hearings to make the new arrangements work. That is a responsible approach. It must be done in order to protect the community against the heavy-handed approach that is often adopted by certain arrogant trade union organisations.

I wonder what the real motivation has been for the oil industry workers in New South Wales to demand that they have their own special tribunal body. It is very obvious in my mind that they are keen not to be bound by Commonweath legislation and determinations. I cannot remove from my mind some of the provisions that were passed at the Australian Labor Party conference which was held in Adelaide last year. I do not know whether there is a relationship between the motions passed at that conference and the decisions that were taken or demanded by the oil industry workers but I cannot eliminate that possibility from my thoughts. One of the motions passed at the conference in Adelaide last year stated:

The new ALP Platform provides for the right of workers to ‘organise in democratic trade unions and to collectively bargain and to exercise the right to strike in the course of such activities immune from any pains and penalties directed against unions and unionists ‘.

I cannot remove from my mind the relationships that may exist between that motion and the actions that have subsequently been taken by a number of very powerful trade unions in

Australia. The Government has passed amendments to the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act which were primarily designed to protect the community against the heavyhanded and blackmail tactics that are from time to time used by trade union organisations. We must be mindful at all times that the Australian Labor Party has made very clear that given the opportunity of government it would be compelled, by its own conference, to put forward legislation that does not impose any pains and penalties at all on the trade union organisations. In other words, it would make those organisations above and beyond the law. This Government believes that such an approach would be irresponsible and would not fulfil our commitments and responsibilities to the community as a whole. It would not provide the protection that ordinary citizens of Australia need to have against such tactics. It would not be responsible. Certainly this Government will not embark on such activities.

I support this legislation, I admit, with some reservation. I do not believe that there should be a further proliferation of unnecessary tribunals in this community. I do not think that any government should have to put forward special provisions for a small minority group in the community, as is being forced on the Federal Government and the New South Wales Government on this occasion. The Minister for Industrial Relations has done a magnificent job in trying to resolve a very difficult situation. I give him full credit for what he has done in a most difficult situation to bring these people together and to try to bring about a peaceful situation in the oil industry in New South Wales and, in so doing, keep the industries and the community of New South Wales operating with petroleum fuels. I support the legislation with reservation. I congratulate the Minister on the job that he has done.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read a second time.

Third Reading

Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.

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

page 2027


Second Reading

Debate resumed from 17 April, on motion by Mr Fife:

That the Bill be now read a second time.


-The purpose of the Pipeline Construction (Dalton to Canberra) Bill is to authorise the Pipeline Authority to construct a natural gas lateral from Dalton in New South Wales, on the Moomba to Sydney pipeline, to Canberra. The estimated cost of the construction is about $7.5m and supply is expected to commence in 1981. This measure is supported by the Opposition. The Opposition believes that natural gas can go a long way towards supplying Australia’s energy needs, particularly as a substitute for liquid fuels. In Canberra natural gas will provide a valuable substitute for existing fuels, as has been the case in Sydney. It is estimated that the supply of natural gas in Sydney has saved between $200m and $300m a year in oil imports. In Canberra the main fuels are electricity, heating oil, distillates and liquefied petroleum gas.

In the second reading speech of the Minister for Education (Mr Fife) he pointed out that natural gas in Canberra is expected to replace over 250,000 barrels of oil by 1982 and over 400,000 by 1987. This, of course, is a significant saving. It will also provide relief for users of LPG who have suffered under the Government’s high pricing policy as LPG has increased by about 350 per cent in the last 18 months. Natural gas in Canberra will also help alleviate the possibility of electricity shortages in New South Wales with what has been the picture recently of increasing levels of demand placed by the Australian Capital Territory upon the New South Wales electricity grid. Importantly, it will provide a stimulus to employment in Canberra which has languished under the Fraser Government. One of the most critical reductions in public sector spending has been in this city. The city has virtually died in the years since the Fraser Government came to power. Yet this measure will in some way stimulate employment in Canberra. It is estimated that about 200 people would be employed directly in the construction phase of the pipeline and upon completion about 60 to 70 people in permanent positions would be required to operate it.

As with previous pipeline constructions, this pipeline would be built by the Commonwealth Pipeline Authority. One would believe that the pipeline would be built in terms of the specification and completed on time within the budget, as was the case with the Pipeline Authority construction of the main Moomba to Sydney line, which was started in 1973. I think it is appropriate here to pay tribute to the Pipeline Authority- a public authority- which was created by the Labor Government in 1973 to develop the capacity to build pipelines throughout Australia. The job has been done with great efficiency. For instance, during the first two years of operation of the pipeline between Moomba and Sydney the pipeline carried the equivalent of one million tonnes of fuel oil. Last year this much again was carried. The Government emphasises the role that the Pipeline Authority has played in extending the supply of natural gas and takes credit for the work of the Pipeline Authority.

It must be remembered that the existing Government when in Opposition challenged the establishment of the Pipeline Authority in the High Court. It now sees the value of the Pipeline Authority and the value of increasing the supply of natural gas throughout Australia. The penetration of natural gas into the Australian energy scene has been quite dramatic since the period of the Labor Government and the dream which was outlined by the former Minister for Minerals and Energy in that Government, Mr Rex Connor is, of course, coming to fruition. We are now seeing not only the development of the Moomba to Sydney line but also a number of lateral pipelines off that line which will supply most of the major metropolitan centres of New South Wales and most of the major non-metropolitan areas of the State. In New South Wales gas is already being delivered not only to Sydney but also to Wollongong, Port Kembla and the Bowral area. Within the next 18 months supplies of natural gas should be made available in Newcastle, Cootamundra, Wagga Wagga and Goulburn, but cities such as Bathurst, Cowra, Lithgow and Orange are still no closer to having natural gas than they were in 1973 when the commitment was made.

As part of the original agreement between the Pipeline Authority and the Australian Gas Light Co., the Pipeline Authority undertook to construct lateral pipelines to these towns. But in 1975 the Fraser Government deferred construction and that construction is still deferred. Despite repeated requests from local councils and the Pipeline Authority’s willingness to build these lines, no action has been forthcoming from the Government. No indication has yet been given as to when these areas will be supplied with natural gas. On behalf of the Federal Opposition, at the time of the last election campaign in 1977 1 indicated that, if elected, a Labor government would build lateral pipelines to the centres of Bathurst, Orange, Lithgow and Cowra. I reiterate that pledge. At the moment these towns are hooked up to a reticulation system which supplies liquefied petroleum gas and they have been caught in the squeeze of the Government’s high petrol and oil pricing policies.

As I have said earlier, liquid petroleum gas prices have moved up by about 350 per cent in 18 months. If one is running a household in Sydney or Melbourne, one can buy natural gas at an oil equivalent price of somewhere between $3 and $4 a barrel, but if one is living in any of the towns of Bathurst, Lithgow, Orange or Cowra one is paying about $25 a barrel equivalent for the gas. So if one ‘s family home is hooked up to natural gas, methane, through a pipeline energy is available very cheaply. If, however, one is in the unfortunate position of being hooked up to liquefied petroleum gas it is a very high impost upon one’s family.

The Government says it wants to see a swath cut through the demand for liquefied petroleum gas. The only way that that will happen will be to extend the lateral systems with a much more ambitious program so that natural gas is provided to residential areas within these towns as well as to towns in Victoria and, where possible, in Queensland. A great job is still to be done by the national Government, particularly through the Pipeline Authority, in extending the reticulation system of natural gas throughout Australia. Natural gas could provide a significant contribution to Australia’s energy independence, but it needs a co-ordinated, well planned approach. We need a national natural gas policy and we have never had it. With the present Government we do not have an energy policy at all, let alone a natural gas policy. All we have from the present Government is a high price for petrol and differing prices for every other commodity. We do not see any co-ordination or rational plan for the development of our natural resources.

At the moment Australia’s natural gas provides about 10 per cent of our primary energy requirement and this will rise to about 15 per cent by 1985. It ought to be at 15 or 20 per cent now. In the United States and Western Europe the level of natural gas supplies as a proportion of primary energy demand runs between 20 and 25 per cent. Yet in Australia we have had the gas for many years and we are still dragging our feet in reticulating it throughout Australia for the benefit of Australians. The prospects of finding more gas are very high. At the moment gas reserves in Australia account for about 28 trillion cubic feet, yet we have seen estimates of recoverable gas reserves of around about 100 trillion cubic feet. That is quite substantial, bearing in mind that the North West Shelf has gas reserves of about 12 trillion cubic feet.

There are substantial reserves of gas in Australia but the exploration activity for gas, as for oil, has been very poor. It has been even poorer than for oil, mainly because gas exploration has really been- rather than a direct effort, to search for gas- an incidental discovery in the search for oil. As an incidental discovery, particularly in Bass Strait, we have found substantial reserves of gas which can supply our major east coast cities where the major demand is. This gas has diminished our dependence upon fuel oil coming from not only Australian reserves but also from overseas. So the savings to Australia in foreign exchange have been quite dramatic. We also have the amenity of the use of natural gas, which is a clean burning, non-pollutant fuel, not only in homes but also in industry- petrochemical and other industries as well. We are now considering extending its use into automotive uses in such things as taxi fleets, municipal bus fleets, government bus fleets and fleets of trucks, et cetera. Natural gas can provide a very important complement to the other fuels which Australia uses.

Exploration for natural gas must be increased. Part of the reason why natural gas exploration has not been pursued with vigour is the existence of long-term contracts written at comparatively low prices which have been a disincentive to the further search for gas, particularly the identification of reserves. It is a very luxurious position to contemplate that Australia’s metropolitan areas can look forward to a 30-year supply of gas between now and about the year 2010. Melbourne and Victoria have a supply of natural gas which would take them up to the year 2006, with options for gas after that year. Sydney is in approximately the same position with gas supplied from the Cooper Basin in South Australia. This applies also to the towns which are supplied with gas from the laterals built from the Moomba to Sydney pipeline, such as Canberra, and we hope Bathurst, Orange, Cowra, Port Kembla, Newcastle and Wollongong. We hope that all those towns and cities will be supplied with natural gas through to a period beyond the turn of the century. Brisbane is supplied with gas from the Surat Basin. Recently we have seen encouraging shows of gas there which would lead us to believe that even with the modest demand of Brisbane there would be enough gas to take it past the turn of the century also.

Western Australia is in the fortunate position of having a fairly large gas field on the North West Shelf off the coast of Dampier and natural gas will be supplied from Dampier by about 1983 or 1984 to Perth’s residential as well ns its commercial business areas. The only major cityapart from Hobart, Launceston and Devonport in Tasmania- to have a shortfall, will be Adelaide, which will have a 2 trillion cubic feet shortfall of gas between the years 1983 and 2000. That has to be overcome because most of the gas in the South Australian portion of the Cooper Basin has been contracted to be supplied to Sydney. So one looks forward to the identification of incremental reserves of gas in the Cooper Basin to be committed to Adelaide. I am quite confident that this will happen and, if we can find another 2 trillion cubic feet in the south-eastern portion of the continent, Adelaide also could have a gas supply which will meet its requirements until 2000 or 20 10.

If the major areas of the mainland are Supplied with gas for 30 years, the aim of national natural gas policy ought to be to keep a rolling reserve of 30 years for our major cities and to step up gas exploration to the point where we can accommodate that kind of demand. Tasmania is not in that happy position. I am especially interested in the Tasmanian problem. The problem there is that the cumulative demand for gas in Tasmania has led commercial explorers and developers of gas to believe that the Tasmanian market is not of sufficient magnitude to warrant that accommodation. There has been a show of gas in the Pelican field in Bass Strait, and one would hope that with improvements in the development of industrial infrastructure in Tasmania, there would be enough cumulative demand to develop that gas field or to take gas from other areas of Bass Strait to develop industrial gas usage in Tasmania as well.

It would be a very happy position for Australia to find itself in if, in days when liquid fuels become scarce, when we move towards the late 1980s and mid-1990s and production in traditional areas of reserves and supplies of hydrocarbons, such as the Middle East, is not growing sufficiently to meet aggregate world demand, Australia’s major industries and its residential areas were able to be supplied with energy from natural gas fields in Australia. We in the Opposition believe that natural gas may bc the saving grace of Australia in energy terms. The continent is more gas prone than it is oil prone and an ambitious exploration program will prove that this is the case. It is not always a commercial proposition for oil companies to search for gas and to identify reserves and not develop them. But it may be in the national strategic interest for Australia to identify gus reserves and to leave t lie ii i as reserves to service our cities in the future.

A proposition which the Labor Party has developed towards that end is the establishment of a government-owned oil exploration company to be known as the Australian Hydrocarbon Corporation. One of the conditions of the charter of such a corporation would be that it search for gas- lift the level of exploration for gas; not just oil, but oil and gas and especially gas- in areas which have some proximity to our cities. Gas may be found, identified and left in reserve for a time in the future when that gas can be assimilated and used in the demand picture of energy in Australia.

The Opposition supports the legislation to build a pipeline from Dalton in New South Wales to supply natural gas to the market in Canberra. But even more importantly, it supports the continuing reticulation of natural gas throughout New South Wales, Victoria and other mainland States and we hope to see the development of a gas reticulation system in Tasmania. Certainly in New South Wales, from the Moomba-Sydney pipeline one would hope to see natural gas reticulation extended to Bathurst, Lithgow and Cowra and to see that the people there are no longer disadvantaged by high liquefied petroleum gas prices; that they, too, enjoy some of the benefits of having natural gas in this country. We support the legislation. We urge the Government to step up its program of building natural gas laterals off the main pipeline systems to other towns, not only in New South Wales but also in Victoria to ensure that Australia’s dependence upon natural gas is lifted. That will indeed give us a level of energy and independence which, over time, could be the envy of the world.


– The purpose of the Bill before the House is to authorise the Pipeline Authority to construct a natural gas pipeline from Dalton on the main Moomba to Sydney pipeline to Canberra. The Bill provides for the construction of a 273 millimetre pipeline- just over 10 inches- at an estimated cost of $7.5m. Previously, natural gas pipelines were constructed under the Pipeline Authority Act 1973. The Authority set up under that Act was given a vast range of functions and powers typical of a socialist, centralist government. A year ago, this Government amended that Act to vary the functions of the Pipeline Authority and to take away the unlimited power it was given originally. The Bill brought the Pipeline Authority into line with other statutory authorities, particularly in the areas of finance and the relationship of the Authority with the

Public Service Board. It also required separate Acts for each new pipeline.

Previous annual reports of the Pipeline Authority refer to proposals for the construction of lateral pipelines from the Moomba-Sydney pipeline. Briefly, the position was that as part of the agreement with the Australian Gas Light Co., under which the Authority assumed responsibility for the Moomba-Sydney project, the Authority undertook to construct lateral pipelines to enable AGL to meet its obligations to the New South Wales Government to supply natural gas to those country towns and cities. With the agreement of the then New South Wales Government in 1975 the Authority had started preparatory work on the laterals mentioned. The AGL decided that construction of the laterals should be deferred. This is in contrast to what the honourable member for Blaxland (Mr Keating) said. The AGL formally notified the Authority to this effect and, as reported in the Authority’s third annual report, the Commonwealth Government decided to defer a decision on the provision of funds to the Pipeline Authority. After careful study of a joint proposal that was presented in 1978, the Authority reported favourably to the then Minister for National Development on a lateral to Cootamundra and Wagga Wagga and an Act was passed by this Government to allow construction. The Bill presently under consideration is a further demonstration of the Government’s intention to do what it can to assist with the spread of natural gas.

Towards the end of 1979 the Government announced that it proposed to have natural gas reticulated in Canberra. It called for applications from parties interested in being involved in this enterprise. The Australian Gas Light Co. made a bid for the franchise and, in fact, has now been offered the contract to supply this line. For a city with a population reaching a quarter of a million people it would mean the supply of an energy source that it does not have. The introduction of natural gas to Canberra will aid the Government’s liquid fuel conservation program by providing further opportunities for significant liquid fuel substitution. The changeover to natural gas would replace over 250,000 barrels of oil usage by 1982- the first full year that natural gas becomes available in Canberra- increasing to over 400,000 barrels by 1987. The Government, as the major user of oil in Canberra, can set an example to the private sector by a rapid changeover of its facilities to natural gas where this is shown to be economic- and that is expected to be in most areas. According to the Australian Gas Light Co., a natural gas supply to Canberra would save at least one million tonnes of fuel oils which the city’s institutional, commercial and industrial consumers would otherwise burn during the next 20 years. Of course we should add to that figure the thousands more tonnes that would otherwise be burned during that period by the residential population. Sydney and Melbourne have already shown a sharp downturn in the consumption of fuel and heating oils since the reticulation of natural gas began.

A study by the Australian Gas Light Co. points out other advantages to Canberra in having a natural gas supply. Natural gas is a reliable source of supply. Industry is likely to be attracted to the city because of natural gas dependability and its relative cheapness compared with other fuels- and I will talk about price in a few moments. Rising electricity costs can be checked by using natural gas for heating and thus lowering electricity peak loads. Natural gas charges are likely to rise at a much lower rate than other energy sources.

Studies based upon the company’s 140 years in the gas industry show that AGL, upon completion of the proposed spur line from the Moomba-Sydney trunk pipeline, at a point just north of Canberra and proceeding to the gate at Watson, could immediately supply natural gas to many institutional, commercial and industrial users in Belconnen, north and south Canberra, Woden, Fyshwick, Tuggeranong and Queanbeyan. AGL says that if construction of the spur line were begun quickly it could be supplying natural gas to Canberra by the winter of 1981. AGL has already taken natural gas to a number of non-metropolitan areas in New South Wales, including the Wollongong-Port Kembla and Bowral areas. As I mentioned earlier, it is planning to connect within the next 18 months Newcastle, Goulburn, Cootamundra and Wagga Wagga. It expects that Goulburn will be connected to the natural gas supply this year.

In Canberra, the use of natural gas would not only avoid the consumption of expensive and valuable fuel oils but also supplement electricity supply. Studies show that although for many years the Australian Capital Territory Electricity Authority has provided a reliable and efficient electricity service to Canberra and the surrounding area the growing demand in the district for electric power will force up prices if customers are obliged to switch to electricity rather than natural gas for heating. That will be caused by the peak loads. Reticulation of Canberra would involve AGL in a capital expenditure of some $30m spread over 10 years. Funding would be arranged by AGL through the private sector, thus giving a boost to the local economy. Establishing an organisation to reticulate the region and service local customers would also involve a substantial investment.

Natural gas pricing is essentially determined within the States. It poses more problems than does crude oil and has to be approached more flexibly. Not only are there difficulties in determining an appropriate price to producers but also, because of its particular attributes and different applications, it has significantly different values to different customers. Natural gas is also in competition with electricity, and its prices, in the residential and commercial markets especially, are influenced by prevailing electricity tariffs. The prices of all energy forms, though fairly stable until mid- 1973, have since shown an increasing trend. Between June 1973 and the end of April 1979, the average retail price of motor spirit has increased by about 120 per cent. Over the five years ending 1977-78 the average price of electricity to residential consumers has increased by about 84 per cent.

The price of gas in Melbourne is noteworthy in that it has decreased significantly since the introduction of natural gas in 1969. In recent years a steadily increasing price trend has developed. However, in real terms the prices of all energy forms have been maintained or have fallensome significantly so.

Unit revenue from all electricity sales fell by about 14 per cent in the five-year period to June 1978 and 29 per cent in the 10-year period to that date. Unit revenue from all gas sold in Melbourne fell by about 42 per cent and 80 per cent in the same periods. By comparison, real household capital income increased by 15 per cent and 43 per cent respectively.

I could give many figures concerning relativity with other countries but it is particularly notable that Australia compares well with all countries, including the United States. There is a great variation between States in gas prices, with Sydney’s city gas price being the highest. Brisbane’s is slightly less than Sydney’s and Adelaide’s price only two-thirds that of Sydney. The price in Perth is one-half and in Melbourne one-third that of Sydney. Canberra’s price looks Uke being somewhat similar to that of Sydney, with different levels obtaining for domestic and commercial users. However, in the long term, natural gas prices must rise to more realistic levels. There have been a number of suggestions in the Press that natural gas is priced at far too low a level. There will be changes, and many other aspects must be taken into account. On the world sceneperhaps this is the way in which we should be looking at it- at the beginning of 1980 one may predict with confidence that in the coming years we will witness a steep rise in the price of natural gas. That result will not be brought about by decree of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries, although the cartel’s latest boost in oil prices will naturally affect gas, and other fuels as well. The price of gas on the world market will rise as the growing pressure of demand drives home the lesson that this high grade fuel is being sold in many countries at well below the long term supply price. Natural gas has traditionally been a cheap fuel in many producing countries, despite its high quality, for the simple reason that so much of it has been available as a by-product of crude oil production. Much of the cost has been loaded upon that of liquid fuel. In this sense, users of gas have been subsidised by oil consumers.

Throughout Europe we see neither the price control nor the abundance of associated gas that existed in the 1960s and 1970s when the market was characterised by low gas prices. The main reason that the enterprise of international oil companies has uncovered huge local deposits of natural gas in the Netherlands and, later, in the North Sea which could be brought relatively cheaply to local markets. In the United Kingdom market the North Sea producers were forced to sell to a monopoly buyer, namely, Britain’s nationalised gas industry. In terms of Britain’s old currency, the Gas Council, which had since 1964 been paying about 8 1/2d a therm for LNG from Algeria- far below the cost of coal gasforced the producing companies to accept less than 3d a therm for North Sea gas.

Thus, in the United States of America and Western Europe alike natural gas is being marketed at well below the cost of competing fuels, including coal and oil products. Yet gas is rightly regarded as a premium fuel. It is clean burning, easy to handle, versatile and flexible in use. In many applications it is worth more to the consumer than liquid fuels that it can replacenaphtha, Number 2 fuel oil, gas oil and low sulphur fuel oil. American and European planners are looking to imported gas, that is, largely to LNG, to satisfy the balance of their rapidly growing demand. The Japanese, with their extremely meagre home resources, are of course always looking to imports for virtually the whole of their energy requirements. Any attempt by potential buyers lo arrange long term contracts for supplies immediately brings them Ace to face willi the economic realities til” the international gas trade. The basic consideration is the extremely high cost of long distance trading in natural gas. Transport costs are high for LPG and much higher for LNG, the form in which most of the international gas trade will have to be conducted. Apart from pipelines and gathering facilities, the LNG trade requires an expensive gas liquefaction, and subsequently gasification, plant. For example, the cost of Nigeria’s Bonny liquefaction plant, with an ultimate capacity of 1,600m cubic feet a day, was estimated last year as about $5 billion. Then there are the highly specialised tankers that are needed for ocean transport. However reluctantly, importing countries are beginning to bow to the inevitable. The realistic Japanese long since agreed to relate the price to be paid for Indonesian LNG to that of oil.

Users of gas are naturally reluctant to accept the need for more realistic prices, as President Carter is painfully aware. But experience teaches all consumers that shortages of energy, food, housing, or whatever, are even more painful than high prices. Given the choice, they will opt for realistic prices provided that this carries some assurance that they will get the supplies they need. One certainty is that low prices now will make shortages in future years all the more likely. The LNG imports needed to keep pace with the inexorable growth of gas demand are sure to be expensive. A gradual rise towards the long term supply price will penalise waste, encourage efficient consumption and stimulate investment in exploration and development.

A conservation of existing resources and the vigorous search for new supplies will certainly earn the gratitude of the next generation of consumers. What they may find difficult to condone is the present complacency about a situation which, six years after the oil price explosion of 1973-74, still allows half of the gas production of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries to be flared to waste. What I am saying in essence is that world conditions will have their effect on our price of natural gas as the North West Shelf development gets under way and that we will have to make some hard decisions. It is unfortunate that the honourable member for Blaxland was not prepared to get to the heart of the matter and to talk about pricing. On many occasions he has made attempts to put forward an energy policy for the Opposition. He has failed miserably because he will not face the facts and be realistic. In the meanwhile we will supply natural gas to Canberra and help to make the best use of our energy supplies.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read a second time.

Third Reading

Leave granted for the third reading to be moved forthwith.

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

page 2033


Historic Shipwrecks Act- Moscow Olympic Games- Radio Australia: Indonesian Correspondent- Roadworks for Coal Ports- Alcoholism in the Public Service

Motion (by Mr Macphee) proposed:

That the House do now adjourn.


-This morning at Question Time I asked the Minister for Home Affairs (Mr Ellicott) about his administration of the Historic Shipwrecks Act. The Historic Shipwrecks Act became the law of the Commonwealth in December 1976. Its purpose was to protect wrecks, particularly those found off the coast of Western Australia; but it has application throughout Australia. Whilst a Western Australian Act, the Maritime Archaeology Act 1973, sought to protect wrecks off the coast of Western Australia, the constitutional validity of that Act was under challenge in the High Court. So the Government, the responsible Minister at the time being Senator Withers, introduced the Historic Shipwrecks Bill, which subsequently became an Act, to ensure that such wrecks could be protected if it was found, as it subsequently was, that the State Act was inoperative in regard to certain waters off the coast of Western Australia. I put it to the Minister that his total and final offer of $ 1 7,500 to the discoverers of the Point Cloates wreck was quite inadequate. It is hard to value the coins which have been recovered from that wreck, but their value is estimated at $150,000 at least, and probably twice that amount. The question one really has to consider is: What is the point of offering a reward in these circumstances? Senator Withers, in his second reading speech on 20 October 1976, said that the purpose of the reward was to reduce the temptation while at the same time to encourage exploration. He stated: . . the Bill provides for the payment of a reward for the discovery of hitherto unlocated historic shipwrecks. The amount of the reward will not be contained in the legislation, but will be determined from time to time, according to the relative money values of the day and the importance of the discovery. The aim of this reward provision is to encourage exploration and discovery without offering incentives to pillaging. By way of illustration, the money value of the coins found on the Dutch shipwreck off the Western Australian coast amount to many hundreds of thousands of dollars. It would be unfair and unreal to deny totally any prospective discoverer some reward for his effort.

The Minister relied totally on the idea of the effort which was put into the discovery in determining the amount of the reward which should be offered. I suggest that that is not wholly what Senator Withers meant. In fact it is quite inimical to the purposes of the Act. The real reason for having a reward is not to encourage people to find shipwrecks, because by and large those shipwrecks are found by accident, but to provide a disincentive to people to plunder treasure which might be discovered in a wreck. That is the really important part of the legal provision.

It is not enough just to have a provision to ensure that wrecks will be registered once they are discovered. It is important that all the treasure and the relics of those wrecks be available to maritime museums for proper investigation and preservation. I think the Minister has been somewhat negligent in not providing appropriate regulations for the determination of the reward. As I said, this Act came into force in December 1976 and there are still no regulations determining how the reward should be established. I will indicate simply the way in which the reward was determined under the now inoperative State Act. The reward was made up of two parts. There was an interim reward of $5,000 maximum as a reward for notification. The other component of the reward was half the metal value of the coins discovered. If that formula had been used in this instance the reward would have been not $17,500 but close to $100,000. 1 think that is the sort of realistic reward required if we are to prevent people who find wrecks from plundering any treasure or relics which they may find in association with those wrecks.

St George

-Tonight I would like to congratulate the delegates of the Australian Olympic Federation for the decisions to which they collectively agreed at the weekend. As I understand the position, they have selected a team to compete at Moscow, but a final decision has not been made. It is now open to the Federation to review events continually and to make its final decision before 2 1 May. I believe, in coming to this decision, the Federation has set a landmark in Australian social maturity. For many years now we have tended to say that on aU issues the Government knows best and what the Government says must necessarily be right, or to take the view that on all issues that what the Government says is ridiculous and wrong.

For a long time in our community we have had a very serious polarisation which at times has prevented the development of the country. We had great debates over the Vietnam war. At one stage the bulk of the Australian community was strongly in favour of Australia’s participation in that undertaking. In 1966 an election was fought on the issue and the Government was strongly supported. Subsequently Australian public opinion changed, I believe because of the issue of conscription for overseas service. But we have had a bitter time in the recent past. I think much of the reason has been that we tended to anticipate and to put extraordinarily high hopes in government without often the community or community groups themselves being prepared to take decisions on issues that they saw as being not part of their business. What members of the AOF have done has been to say: ‘We, as members of the AOF, are not solely confining ourselves to the narrow area of sport as such’. They have decided in a realistic way to look at the whole question, to look at the whole world scene and to look at whether as a matter of both practicality and principle they ought to conclude their deliberations on factors not solely related to sport. I congratulate them because, as I said last week in this House, all members of our society have a duty to take notice of brutality and oppression wherever it may exist in the world.

One of the great advances of the twentieth century amidst all the horror I believe started with President Woodrow Wilson. He was criticised for being an idealist because he wanted to take the message of popular opinion about world horrors that he saw to the world at large. He wanted to set up a League of Nations that would use the collective wisdom at least to speak out on serious issues. But of course, at that time, American isolationism would not allow his dream to go ahead and the League of Nations failed. The United Nations, despite all its criticism, has had value in some areas. Even today I believe we see a valuable contribution from the United Nations peacekeeping forces in Lebanon. Of course, the United Nations made a most valuable contribution in Korea. World movements today are demanding that the world spotlight of opinion be put on problems of denial of human rights and aggression.

I believe that our whole society, including members of the AOF as a group where politics have unfortunately become intermeshed with sport has a duty to look at the whole issue. I congratulate the AOF for looking at the whole issue. The members of the AOF have made a decision to wait and to see how the matter develops. I believe that if the Labor Party joins with the Government in working towards an effective boycott there will be one. As other countries join the boycott- and nearly 50 nations on present indications are likely to do so- so too will the AOF. I congratulate the delegates for a courageous decision at the weekend.


-Fancy one of the honourable members opposite talking about principle in foreign affairs. Fancy asking us to cooperate with the Government on the kinds of policies, if they can be defined as policies, that it is presently following. Whilst the honourable member for St George (Mr Neil) might think that the decision by the Australian Olympic Federation was a landmark of some sort I want to draw the attention of the House to what I call a landmark in governmental pusillanimity. I refer to the question of the ban by Jakarta on a Radio Australia correspondent. This was one of the most shameful and miserable acts that any of our neighbours has carried out for a long time. But what does this Government do? It lies down to be kicked. We heard the Foreign Minister (Mr Peacock) today making an apology about it. He is going to write to the Indonesians or he will drop them a note or he will point out to them that he is gravely concerned. What is he going to do about it?

The Radio Australia people carry our banner onto the world’s airwaves. They do it with commendable integrity. They are highly regarded in this part of the world and throughout the world as a whole. The first thing we ought to say is this: If you do that we will retaliate by the only means at our disposal’. I am not in favour of throwing people out of this country. But what is the only answer that we have when it comes to questions of what one might call diplomatic difficulties? All one can say is this: ‘Well, your correspondent will not be allowed to stay here or come back until such time as we have cleared that person’. We have a duty to the people who work for us to take such action. How would anybody feel if he worked for an organisation which operates around the clock in a multitude of languages carrying the message of whatever Australia stands for and putting Australia’s view on world affairs with basic accuracy and integrity and his Government did not stand by him? Action in this matter is already two or three days overdue. Something ought to have been done instantly. I think our attitude is most miserable and unworthy of us. I think it should be made clear to the Indonesians that we will not stand for what has happened.

I wish to comment on some of the remarks made by the honourable member for St George (Mr Neil). I do not think St George deals with dragons any more; he deals basically with paper tigers. But how does he relate his principles to Indonesia’s relationship with East Timor and Russia’s relationship with Afghanistan? A major act of aggression carried out by the Russians has outraged everyone in the world. Why are we silent about what has happened in East Timor? I know that the honourable members opposite will try to bring up something about what was alleged to have happened during Labor’s term in office. But the facts are that the military aggression was finally launched during the interregnum between 11 November and 13 December, or whatever date it was, in 1975. So if there is anybody guilty I suppose the situation that put Australia into the position of having nothing to do about it is guilty. But that is no excuse for us to allow this matter to pass unnoticed in the world forums. At the United Nations, we voted against the demand for selfdetermination for the people of East Timor. I think that is unforgiveable. Anything that the Government says about the Olympic Games and about Afghanistan is prejudiced in my view. As I said to some American visitors a week or so ago, how can we take seriously any Government that is outraged about Afghanistan and silent about East Timor?

With regard to the Olympic Games, I do not know how the Government can equate its attitude to trade, to money and to roubles with its attitude to runners. I think it is a disgrace. I would be one of those who would say: ‘If it is one out, it is all out’. In other words, we should stop everything; break off diplomatic relations and so on. If everybody in the world took this position on aggression I think that we would probably soon put a stop to such behaviour. But the world is not going to do it. Other countries are just as miserable about it as we are. I just do not see how the Government can possibly ask the young people of Australia not to go to the Olympic Games and let the graziers go on selling their wool to the Soviet Union. It is the same situation that happened in Vietnam. It was business as usual for the business people of Australia and a handful of young Australians had to pay the penalty. It is the same now with regard to unemployment. The young take the rap.


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


– I am moved to speak about the Olympic Games. I have not spoken before in a debate on this subject although I have made some passing comments from time to time on the question. I do not think that anybody who is concerned about our country and what it means to us is happy when our country cannot for quite proper and legitimate reasons be represented at an important international occasion such as the Olympic Games. I believe that everybody would want the Olympic Games to go on were it not for the involvement of the Soviet Union in Afghanistan.

The important point that I believe has to be remembered at all times is that it is the host country, not one country that might wish to participate in an Olympic Games, that says: ‘We are fit and proper to invite the rest of the world to come and to enjoy our hospitality and to participate with us in games because we have been especially chosen as being a country that is suitable to be such a host’. I do not know how anybody could seek to compare that situation with a whole lot of other situations where participants in Olympic Games may have been guilty of some breach. We should compare it with the situation where the host country clearly is guilty of a breach of international law and is guilty of a breach of what is moral, proper and right. Of course, I am concerned, as I think all honourable members are concerned, that young people who have been trained to participate in an Olympic Games might be denied the opportunity to fulfil their ambition and desire. I share their disappointment. But it is forgotten too readily that when countries are at war and when the national interests of a country are involved one has to respond in some way or another. On this occasion we are responding, in concert with our allies, with action involving the Olympic Games.

In other situations where a nation’s integrity and national interests are involved and it goes to war, who serves his country? Who is chosen, or invited to participate and to represent his country and to pay a sacrifice? In the First World War and in the Second World War it was the young people who were involved. They served because our nation was involved. Recently I have had to participate in ceremonies where people remember what was involved, and what was the sacrifice. Nobody puts up the argument: ‘It was unfair to go to war because only the young were chosen. They were the only ones who had to make the sacrifice; therefore, let us not bother going. Let us not bother being involved in defending ourselves. Let us not put our national interest to the fore as a nation’. It has been said that because somehow there is inequality of sacrifice- I recognise that sacrifice is involved- in some way that is different. That is nonsense. It is an argument to which it is not really worth replying except that it is raised so frequently. We recognise that a sacrifice has to be made. We respect those who make the sacrifice and who have frequently acknowledged that a sacrifice will be involved. But because it is for their country and it is in their country’s interests they are prepared to make that sacrifice. There are many young people who have spoken out in that way.

The matter of trade has been mentioned. It is clear that a sacrifice has already been made. We as Australians have been prepared to make a sacrifice which other countries have not been prepared to make. In the wheat trade with the Soviet Union there has been an element of sacrifice already. Argentina is filling the gap. We know it is clear that other countries are prepared to step in and take up the opportunity quite unfairly and improperly. That is why it is so important to work in concert with our allies and reach agreement as to where we can properly effect trade.

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

Mr Leo McLeay:

– I want to raise the question of alcoholism as it affects public servants and, in particular, how it relates to a case that was brought to my notice recently. In February of this year Mr Pierre Stolz, the Executive Director of the Australian Foundation on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence said:

  1. . alcoholism was ranked as the fourth major public health problem in Australia, after heart disease, cancer and mental illness.

Mr Stolz said also that there are approximately 300,000 persons in Australia who suffer from alcoholism. Honourable members might be interested to know that the Australian Foundation on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence was set up in 1973 by the Federal Government, the Australian Council of Trade Unions and the Confederation of Australian Industry. In setting up that organisation the three bodies agreed to support industrial programs whereby people whose work performance had diminished because of an alcohol problem would be given the opportunity to seek help without prejudice to their future employment.

I have had brought to my attention the situation of a Mr Tony Gleeson, who until recently was employed as a storeman with the Department of Defence at Garden Island Dockyard. Mr Gleeson was a person with an alcohol problem. He recognised his problem. His fellow workers also recognised his problem. Indeed, they tried to do something to help him. Unfortunately, on 16 March 1979 Mr Gleeson was suspended by his supervisor for drinking on the job. The same day, after he was taken to task by a number of the people with whom he worked, including Mr Fred White, the delegate for the Storemen and Packers Union, he admitted himself to the Salvation Army rehabilitation centre at Booth House in Sydney. He spent nearly 12 months being rehabilitated in that centre. I would like to incorporate in Hansard a reference from Major Lingard, who is the Administrator of the William Booth Institute, and a reference from Dr Alice Halmagyi, who was a doctor with the William Booth Institute: They both attest to the fact that Mr Gleeson submitted himself on 16 March. They attest to the fact that since entering the Institute he has demonstrated a complete change of lifestyle and spiritual change. I ask the leave of the House to incorporate those two references in Hansard.

Leave granted.

The documents read as follows-

Reference from Major Lingard


William Booth Institute

Australian Eastern Territory 56 Albion Street, Darlinghurst, N.S.W. 2010 Telephone: 212-2322

December 12, 1979


This will serve to certify that we have known Anthony J. Gleeson since 16th March, 1979.

Tony was born on 28th March 1 933.

He is of quiet disposition and his programmed rehabilitation has been very real, without fuss.

He has demonstrated a complete change of life style and spiritual awareness.

We commend him to a prospective employer.

Your faithfully,


Reference from Dr Halmagyi




56 Albion Street,

Darlinghurst, N.S.W. 2010 TELEPHONE: 212-2322


This is to certify that Mr Anthony Gleeson of 56 Albion Street (Surry Hills) has been taking part in the Salvation

Army’s Rehabilitation Programme since the 16th of March 1979. He has been sober since that date and doing useful works on the premises. (Signed) Alice Halmagyi Medical Superintendent


Mr Leo McLeay:

– I thank the House. The decision taken by the administrators of the Garden Island dockyard was quite inconsistent with the guidelines laid down by the Australian Public Service Board in dealing with Commonwealth employees affected by alcohol problems. Public Service Board Circular No. 1978 31 relating to this matter was sent to all departments and statutory organisations. It was signed by the Secretary of the Public Service Board and stated:

The guidelines … are intended to encourage a common approach to the sympathetic and effective handling of cases consistent with the need to permit flexibility of approach to particular problems.

I would suggest that ‘flexibility of approach’ should not have led to dismissal of the employee. The guidelines went on to say: participation in a rehabilitative program should not in itself affect a staff member’s employment and career prospects;

I feel that Mr Gleeson has been dealt with unjustly by the people in his Department. I feel that the Department of Defence should consider re-employing him. The Minister Assisting the Minister for Defence (Mr John McLeay) said recently that the Department would not consider re-employing Mr Gleeson. This evening I ask the Minister to reconsider Mr Gleeson ‘s case sympathetically in the light of the evidence that has been presented, in the light of the Public Service Board’s guidelines, and in the light of what I believe is the incorrect approach of the Department to Mr Gleeson ‘s problem. I finish by quoting from what Mr Gleeson ‘s shop steward, Mr White, said in a letter to me:

When one person spends 12 months or more trying to make a new life only to be told that they are not wanted it is enough to break their heart and put them back where they came from.

Mr Gleeson has demonstrated an ability to rehabilitate himself: The Commonwealth should try and do its bit to help him by re-engaging him.


-Today, with the Minister for Transport (Mr Hunt), I attended the opening of the new Maldon Bridge in my electorate on which $9.8m of Federal funding under the national commerce road program was expended in order to improve the facility for trucks to take coal from the mines to the Port Kembla coal loader. There is no doubt that there is a great need to improve and increase the capacity of the road and rail services in my electorate to take coal from the mines to points for loading on ships. There is a major need also for an increased coal loading capacity. Unfortunately that need has been recognised so slowly by the State Government that something like only 75 per cent of the contracted tonnage that should have been available from New South Wales last year was in fact exported. It is most unfortunate that the delays that have resulted from the change in government in New South Wales in 1 976 have meant that as yet there has been only a minimal increase in the capacity of New South Wales coal loaders in relation to their handling of exports.

The important thing about the Maldon bridge is that it nonetheless represents a degree of cooperation between the Federal and State governments in this area and I believe it should be noted by this House. The Federal Government provided all the money but the State Government provided the expertise. The Department of Main Roads handled this project very satisfactorily. 1 must say that I am very glad about one aspect of the matter. That is, when the new Government of New South Wales decided to block the development of Botany Bay immediately it was elected by appointing an environmental committee under the late Mr Simblist, Q.C., it in fact meant that export road money that was to have been made available for the development of Botany Bay suddenly became available for diversion elsewhere. At that time I approached the then Minister for Transport, the present Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Nixon) and put to him -

Mr Neil:

– You pinched $6m of his money.


– As the honourable member for St George says, I pinched $6m of his money. I put to him the proposition that this money should be diverted out of the Botany Bay area and into my electorate where it was so sorely needed to improve the coal roads in that area. The Minister for Transport was sensible enough to agree with that proposition. As a result he raised it with the State Government, which agreed. I was very glad to have had the opportunity of attending the opening of that bridge today to see the results of that pressure being applied.

Mr McLean:

– And your representations.


– And my representations, as the honourable member for Perth says. It was also, I might say, a tribute to the truck drivers in my area who had been pressing me very strongly indeed on this matter and on the need to improve coal roads.

One matter raises its head as a result of this clear and sensible co-operation between the Federal and State governments. It relates to the major national highway which is going through my electorate and on which $2 5 m is being spent this year- made up entirely of Federal funds, of course. The important thing is that that road should be opened this year. I was very glad indeed to hear the State Minister, Mr Henry Jensen, say that this project, which will cost $75m in total and which will link Campbelltown with Yanderra, will be available for use by traffic at Christmas time this year. I am overjoyed to hear this. There have been some unfortunate delays in this major project. All we have been seeking from the State Government is assiduous attention to its duty. We are not asking for money from it because all of the money is being provided by the Federal Government under its national highways program. The fact is that this road will be opened, one hopes, in time for the Christmas traffic. Let us face it- we have many deaths, many serious accidents on this section of the Hume Highway. After this section is completed the next stage will be to by-pass Berrima and Mittagong. I certainly look forward to pressing the case that these developments should be expedited as fast as possible. I hope that the State Government will show the same degree of co-operation in proceeding fast with this matter, as I am certain it will, to ensure that the next stage of our national highway is completed on time.


Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.


– I wish to raise a matter which was raised by the honourable member for Parramatta (Mr John Brown); that is, the question of the Olympic Games. The Government has pressured the Australian Olympic Federation into making a certain decision. I do not think that members of this House or anyone else should suggest otherwise. The situation is that that decision was not a voluntary one. Certain matters were placed upon the Olympic Federation which were both unfair and untrue, one of which was a statement by the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) that Australia’s national security was involved. That statement was blatantly false. It was designed for no other reason than to place members of the Australian Olympic Federation in a position of having to repudiate a statement of that nature by the Prime Minister and of accepting the label, which was clearly being placed on them, of being traitors to their nation if they wished to pursue what they saw as their rights as citizens of a supposedly free country, where civil liberties are supposed to be guaranteed. But, as far as this Government is concerned, its political needs outweigh all of those considerations. The honourable member for Parramatta made an interesting speech.


Order! I feel that the honourable member for Corio is referring to the speech made by the honourable member for Dundas.


– I apologise to the honourable member for Parramatta. Whilst he is not here, I feel sure that he would not have made that type of speech.

Mr Baume:

– Because he is in favour of an effective boycott.


-I thought that the honourable member had just spoken in this debate.

Mr Baume:

– We are talking about whether there will be an effective boycott. You said there should be.


– I have not even mentioned boycotts. If there is a matter of national security in a democratic society it is encumbent on the government of the day to accept some of the responsibilities of that matter of national security. To play the game of sacrifice when the Government itself is not prepared to make a sacrifice is phoney in the extreme. To play that game for political effect is even worse. If a question of national security is involved and if, as the Prime Minister has said, the athletes can resolve that question of national security, it is not a very important question of national security.

If such a situation is involved, it is not the athletes of this country that the Government should be calling on; it is the whole of the citizenry of Australia, including the Prime Minister and those people who benefit and profit from trade with countries which we have now said are a threat to our national security. The honourable member for Dundas (Mr Ruddock) made points about the sacrifices always being made by the young. I do not recall us trading in goods during the Second World War with what we considered to be the enemy, and persons, both members of the Government and outside, making profits from selling goods to what the Prime Minister has said was a nation which was a threat to national security. It is possible that that sort of hypocrisy is acceptable to some members of this Parliament and to some members of our community. It is not acceptable to the Australian community at large because it is just that- hypocrisy.

The facts of this matter are that we are in a situation in which the Olympic Games offer a convenient and present means by which a loud noise can be made by persons who do not want to pay any cost themselves for the actions they are asking others to take.

Mr Neil:

– Are you in favour of a trade boycott?


– If Australia’s national security is involved, there are sacrifices which have to be made by all sections of our community. That is not the case at the moment. The honourable member might like to know that recently the Minister for Trade and Resources (Mr Anthony) had to interview trade officers of the Soviet Union and seek from them guarantees that they would continue to purchase Australian wool. Hypocrisy is the word to describe that.

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


-In my brief speech earlier about the expenditure of Commonwealth funds on roads in my electorate I failed to mention that there has never been so much Federal money spent on those roads. That tends to deny the proposition put by various State members of Parliament that there has been some kind of cut in road funds. That is selfevident nonsense, certainly as far as the electorate of Marcarthur is concerned. However, the major problem we now face is that of shipping coal out of the ports. I stress once again to this House that the failure of the State Government to proceed is matched only by its determined refusal to allow the building of a major access road by which coal could be transported down the escarpment to Port Kembla. At the moment it goes down the Mt Ousley road, which, of course, is a death trap. There is no chance of making it anything else. I suggest to the State Government that the same spirit of co-operation it extended to the Federal Government in regard to the construction of the Maldon bridge should be extended to make a new access road into Wollongong a part of the national commerce road project when it submits its proposals for the current year.


-Order! It being 1 1 p.m., the debate is interrupted. The House stands adjourned until 2. 1 5 p.m. tomorrow.

page 2039


The following notices were given:

Mr Macphee to present at the next sitting a Bill for an Act to amend sections 5 and 1 1C of the Migration Act 1958.

Mr Uren to move on general business day No. 14:

That the Australian Government restore the allocation of Commonwealth funds to the States for public housing to the 1974-75 financial year level which was 3.9 per cent of the Australian Government Budget funds.

Mr Burns to move:

That this House:

1 ) Recommends that the Australian Broadcasting Commission encourages the use by TV stations of visual print-outs on news and documentary television programmes as assistance to viewers who are hard of hearing;

notes that the British Broadcasting Corporation has for many years, used sub-titles on its news and documentary programmes.

Mr Scholes to move on general business day No. 15:

1 ) That a joint select committee be established to examine

the constitutional arrangement for the term of each Parliament and that of Members and Senators, and

b ) the timing of elections:

That the committee be required to report to Parliament within 90 days of its appointment, and

That a message be sent to the Senate acquainting it of this resolution.

page 2039


The following papers were deemed to have been presented on 21 April 1980, pursuant to statute:

Remuneration Tribunals Act- Remuneration TribunalDetermination 1980/2- Holders of public offices on the Film Censorship Board.

Seat of Government (Administration) Act- Variation of plan of lay-out of City of Canberra and its environs, dated 2 1 April 1980.

House adjourned at 11 p.m.

page 2040


The following answers to questions were circulated:

Per Capita Use of Medical Services (Question No. 4900)

Mr Hayden:

asked the Minister for Health, upon notice, on 1 6 October 1 979:

  1. 1 ) What is Australia’s per capita use of (a) general practitioner, (b) specialist, (c) operations/anaesthetist, (d) pathology, (e) radiology, (f) other medical and (g) total medical services for each year since 1 960-6 1 .
  2. 2 ) What is the rate of increase for each year over the previous year for each of the categories.
Mr MacKellar:

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

  1. and (2) The table below shows the particulars requested for total medical services for each year since 1960-61. As there is a break in the series of statistics available, the two series have been supplied for the years for which each is available. Both series are available for the years 1969-70 to 1974-75. The technical differences are outlined in the Footnotes on Series (1 ) and Series ( 2 ).
  1. Both series are based on the year of processing, and the coverage estimated as at 30 June in each year. It is emphasised that changes to Schemes, changes to eligibility and consequent changes in claims and processing patterns are likely to have an effect on base statistics for both Series, for any particular year, with possible distortions to the statistics presented above.

Statistics by speciality group are not available for years prior to 1975-76. From 1975-76, statistics are either incomplete or would require the diversion of substantial resources to provide the detailed analysis for the periods for which information is available. However, estimates on a full year basis derived from a preliminary analysis of medical benefits claims processed in the March Quarter 1979 by the major medical benefits organisations and the direct billing payment system administered by my Department are as follows:

Pensioner Health Benefits (Question No. 4980)

Dr Klugman:

asked the Minister for Health, upon notice, on 23 October 1 979:

  1. 1 ) How many dependent children and students were eligible for pensioner health benefits as at 30 June 1 979.
  2. What is the estimated number for 31 December 1979.
  3. What is the estimated extra cost for a full year for (a) medical services and (b) pharmaceutical benefits for these persons.
Mr MacKellar:

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

  1. 230,579.
  2. 343,700.
  3. The extra net cost for a full year for the estimated increase of 113,000 dependent children and students at 31 December 1979 over the number at 30 June, 1979 is estimated as (a)$10 million for medical services, and (b) $3.9 million for pharmaceutical services.

High Court Building (Question No.5032)

Mr Neil:

asked the Minister for the Capital Territory, upon notice, on 6 November 1979:

In the proposed High Court building, what are the costs of- (a) each of the Judge’s Chambers, (b) the Chief Justice’s balcony and any other Judge’s balconies and (c) the Judges’, (i) dining room, (ii) kitchen, (iii) common room, (iv) reception room, (v) roof sun garden, (vi) libraries and (vii) lifts.

Mr Ellicott:

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

I am advised by the National Capital Development Commission that the High Court of Australia building is being constructed under a lump sum contract and that it would be a significant exercise to separately identify the costs of the disparate pans of the building in the way the honourable member has requested. The exercise would involve a detailed apportioning of costs, on a somewhat arbitrary basis, and I am not prepared to ask that the necessary resources be directed to such an exercise, since the question of the costs of this building have been canvassed in detail by the Parliament on several previous occasions.

High Court Building (Question No. 5122)

Mr Cadman:

asked the Minister for the Capital Territory, upon notice, on 20 November 1979:

  1. What is the estimated completed cost of the new High Court building in Canberra.
  2. What was the original estimated cost.
  3. When is the building expected to be completed.
  4. How does the estimated completed price compare with the cost of other public buildings in Canberra on a per square metre basis.
Mr Ellicott:

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

I am informed by the National Capital Development Commission as follows:

1 ) $49. 1 m as at 3 1 March 1 980.

$ 1 8.54 1 m at project commencement date April 1 975.

30 April 1980.

The cost of the High Court building at current rates is $1,840 per square metre. The only other comparable public building in Canberra is the Australian National Gallery the average cost per square metre of which is $ 1 , 776.

Housing and Construction: Official Openings of Projects (Question No. 5206)

Mr Les Johnson:

asked the Minister for Housing and Construction, upon notice, on 22 November 1979:

  1. In respect of official openings of projects which received Federal Government funding which (a) local Federal Government Member, (b) local Federal Opposition Member, (c) Government Senator or (d) Opposition Senator officially represented him since December 1975.
  2. On which occasions were Government cheques handed over.
Mr Groom:
Minister for Housing and Construction · BRADDON, TASMANIA · LP

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

  1. 1 ) The Minister for Housing and Construction has not been so represented on any such occasion.
  2. See answer to ( 1 ).

Twice-yearly Pension Increases (Question No. 5259)

Mr Kerin:

asked the Treasurer, upon notice, on 22 November 1979:

  1. 1 ) What would have been the cost to consolidated revenue if twice yearly pension increases had been granted for the period following the decision to grant only annual increases.
  2. What was the cost to pensioners of the decision not to increase pensions twice yearly for a single aged and a married aged pensioner couple.
  3. Was the 1978-79 decision based on the belief that inflation would continue to go down; if so, is there any intention to pay pensioners retrospectively due to the fact that inflation increased.
Mr Howard:

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

  1. 1 ) If social security pension and benefit rates had been indexed in May 1979 by the increase in the Consumer Price Index from June to December quarters 1978, there would have been additional expenditure of about $95 million in the period May to October 1979.
  2. Pension rates would have increased by $2.25 a week (single) and $3.70 a week (married couple) in May 1979 if they had been increased by the rise in the Consumer Price Index between June and December quarters 1978. The higher rates would have been applicable for 13 fortnightly pay periods.
  3. The 1978-79 Budget decision to make annual indexation adjustments of social security and repatriation pensions and benefits was taken in the light of the significant reduction in inflation which this Government had achieved since its return to office. At that time the Consumer Price Index was estimated to increase by about 6 per cent in 1978-79. In the event this was not realised; the Consumer Price Index increased by 8.2 per cent in 1978-79. However, this compares with an increase of 9.5 per cent in 1977-78 and thus, contrary to the honourable member’s assertion, the rate of inflation as measured by the CPI continued to decline in 1978-79.

There is no question of retrospective payments for any higher rate of increase than expected in the Consumer Price Index. The pension increase in November 1979 fully compensated for the percentage increase in the Consumer Price Index between the June 1 978 and June 1979 quarters.

Tertiary Education Assistance Scheme (Question No. 5269)

Mr Connolly:

asked the Minister for Education, upon notice, on 19 February 1980:

  1. 1 ) Do conditions governing the payment of Tertiary Education Assistance Scheme allowances preclude the recipients being eligible for supporting parents benefits.
  2. If not, how many recipients of the allowance are receiving supporting parents benefits.
  3. What consideration has the Government given to the elimination of this situation.
  4. What would be the estimated annual saving if this duplication of support payments was eliminated.
Mr Fife:
Minister for Education · FARRER, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP

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

  1. Recipients of supporting parents benefits are not precluded from receiving benefits under the Tertiary Education Assistance Scheme (TEAS). Supporting parents benefits are regarded as income and means-tested under TEAS on the same basis as income from other sources such as employment.

During 1979 approximately 1,600 TEAS beneficiaries were entitled to supporting parents benefit.

  1. and (3) During 1979 the Government reviewed the situation and decided that recipients of supporting parents benefit should continue to be eligible for means-tested benefits under student assistance schemes. This decision took into consideration the generally disadvantaged situation of single parents and the additional costs they necessarily incur in undertaking full-time study. For the reason mentioned in ( 1 ) it is not considered that any duplication of benefits is involved.

I also refer the honourable gentleman to the reply to Question No. 4865, Hansard, 22 November 1979, page 3498.

Service Personnel in Japan: Radiation (Question No. 5288)

Dr Klugman:

asked the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, upon notice, on 1 9 February 1 980:

  1. 1 ) How many Australian service personnel served in the Hiroshima or Nagasaki areas of Japan in 1945-46 with the British Commonwealth Occupation Forces.
  2. Has his attention been drawn to claims by some of these ex-members that they were adversely affected by radiation.
  3. Has his Department carried out any statistical survey comparing the incidence of carcinomas, sarcomas, leukaemias and other blood dyscrasias amongst these men and women and the general population; if so, what were the results; if not, will he arrange for this to be carried out immediately.
Mr Adermann:

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

  1. 1 ) Records as to the number of Australian servicemen who served with the British Commonwealth Occupation Forces in the Hiroshima and Nagasaki areas of Japan are not kept by the Department of Veterans’ Affairs, but the following information bears on this matter.

The first of the British Commonwealth Occupation Forces assembled in Japan in February 1946, some 6 months after the atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and consisted of 1 1,340 Australian Army and Air Force personnel. In addition, the Royal Australian Navy provided two ships for service with the British Pacific Fleet in Japanese waters. Thus, allowing for some change in personnel to the end of 1946, approximately 15,000 members from all arms of the Australian Forces were involved. (See History of the Australian Occupation in Japan 1946-50 by MajorGeneral R. N. L. Hopkins in the Royal Australian Historical Journal, Volume 40, 1954). How many of these went into Hiroshima or Nagasaki is impossible to estimate, as there were no actual bases in these cities. It could be assumed, however, that quite a few visited Hiroshima either on duty or leave as the Headquarters of these Forces was in the Hiroshima prefecture, and a primary aim was to assist in the re-construction of the city.

  1. Yes.
  2. No. Authoritative opinion has been obtained on the need to carry out a statistical survey on Australian servicemen serving in the Hiroshima or Nagasaki areas of Japan in 1945-46 with the British Commonwealth Occupation Forces. That opinion indicates that radiation was received by 24 Australian prisoners of war directly as a result of the atomic bomb explosion at Nagasaki. The POW camp was approximately 1600 metres from the hypocentre and about 55 rads were calculated as the unshielded air dose. Thirty years after the bombing, the blood of 18 of these prisoners of war was examined for chromosome abnormalities and the observed remaining radiation damage considered as a group was barely discernible compared with the damage to be expected from IN VITRO determinations. As individuals, the remaining radiation damage from the atomic bomb assessed in this manner merged into the appearance of chromosome abnormalities present as background chromosomes changes within the population. Because of the small size of the sample, no comment could be made concerning the amount of cancer seen in the group when the prisoners of war were examined in 1975, but certainly no excess was encountered at that time.

By contrast, residual radiation from induced radioactivity as opposed to the immediate radiation received by the prisoners of war, for someone at the hypocentre in receipt of residual radiation immediately after the bomb to infinity has been calculated to be 24, 72 or 1 83 rads depending upon the method of calculation. Residual radiation has another component due to fall-out. Fall-out was limited to the KoiTakasu area of Hiroshima and the Nishiyama area of Nagasaki with negligible fall-out in the hypocentre areas. An upper limit of a few rads from fall-out in Hiroshima and 30 rads in Nagasaki has been given but a more realistic value has been put at a fourth of these values. Allowing for the decline in radioactivity with distance from the hypocentre, the combined induced and fall-out activity in the fall-out areas would not have been greater than the induced activity in the hypocentre areas. Thus, the worse case relates to radioactivity in the hypocentre areas, accounted for solely from neutron induced radioactive isotopes. The maximum dose to entrants into either city calculated as 24 rads agrees with measured values made by the combined Japan-United States team within the first isodose contour lines.

It should be remembered that the dues were engulfed in flames and this precluded entry into the hypocentre areas for many hours after the atomic bombing. Thus allowing for the rapid decay of radiation, ‘very few individuals, if any. received significant amounts of residual radiation from external sources’.*

From samples of soil and roof tile of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, it is seen that the most prominent isotopes produced were24Na,56Mn,46Sc and60Co. By the time the first Australian Servicemen in the occupation forces had reached Japan in February 1946,24Na and56Mn would have decayed to negligible levels so that account need only be taken of46Stand60Co. From the date of their arrival in Japan, if Australian servicemen had stayed at the hypocentre areas from then to infinity the radiation dose would have amounted to 726 rad. For this type of radiation the rad and the rem are equatable. 5 rem is the annual dose-equivalent limit for radiation workers set by the International Commission on Radiological Protection with a figure of 5 mSv(0.5 rem) annually for members of the general public. For the purposes of radiation protection involving individuals, the Commission concludes that the mortality risks for radiationinduced cancers is about 10-2 Sv-1 implying the restriction of the lifetime dose to the individual member of the public to a value corresponding to 1 mSv per year of life-long whole body exposure.1 mSv equals 0.1 rem so that the postulated 726 rad (rad equatable in the circumstances with rem) figure, which is, of course, a maximum and not a reasonable figure, is to be compared with 7 rem which could be accumulated during a lifetime.

In the light of such information, it has been concluded that a survey of the type sought by the Honourable member is not warranted.

Teaching of Deaf Children (Question No. 5297)

Mr Barry Jones:

asked the Minister for Education, upon notice, on 19 February 1980:

  1. What Commonwealth funds are available for the teaching of deaf children in Victoria.
  2. ) Which organisations are these funds given to.
  3. How do these organisations represent the children and their parents (i.e. are they elected or appointed and if so, by whom).
  4. How many children are assisted through each organisation.
  5. What is the value of assistance given through each organisation.
  6. What control is exercised by the Commonwealth over the use of the funds provided to each of these organisations.
Mr Fife:

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

From the point of view of my portfolio the answers to the questions are given below. I understand that funds are also made available by the Department of Social Security. 1. (a) Schools Commission Special Education ProgramThe Commonwealth Government provides support for special education principally through the Schools Commission’s Special Education Program. This program aims to improve the quality and coverage of educational services for handicapped children in the States by supplementing the funding of government and non-government special schools, units and centres, special classes in regular schools, visiting services and services to children in hospital. In 1980, the allocation (in June 1979 prices) for recurrent grants in Victoria for government special schools is $3,154,500 and for nongovernment special schools it is $ 1 , 327,500.

Sources of Support through other Schools Commission Programs- In addition to this major source of Commonwealth funding for special education, assistance for deaf education may also be made available through other specific purpose and general’ resources programs of the Schools Commission, including the Children in Residential Institutions segment of the Special Education Program; the Special Projects (Innovations) Program; the Capital Grants Program; and the General Recurrent Grants Program. 2. (a) Schools Commission Special Education ProgramFunds for government schools declared special by State Education Ministers are paid to Education Departments which determine priorities for the expenditure of those funds. Funds for non-government schools declared special by State Education Ministers are paid to the schools concerned through State Education Departments which recommend allocations to those schools for the approval of the Commonwealth Education Minister. In the case of Victoria, those recommendations are made on the advice of a representative committee.

Victorian schools providing education for hearing impaired students and receiving funds under the Schools Commission ‘s Special Education Program are as follows:

Government schools- Ewing House School for Deaf Children, 1448 Gregory Street, Wendouree, Victoria 3355. Glendonald School for Deaf Children, 25 Marshall Avenue, Kew, Victoria 3101. Monnington School for Deaf Children, 15 Adeney Avenue, Kew, Victoria 3101. Princess Elizabeth Kindergarten for Deaf Children, 90 Elgar Road, Burwood, Victoria 3125. Victorian School for Deaf Children, 597 St Kilda Road, Melbourne, Victoria 3004. Visiting Teacher Services, 25 Marshall Avenue, Kew, Victoria 3101.

Non-Government Schools- St Mary’s School for the Deaf- Portsea, Yarra Valley Church of England School (Deaf Unit)- Ringwood.

b) Sources of Support through other Schools Commission Programs- Under the Children in Residential Institutions program, which is a joint government and non-government program, funds are available to residential institutions which provide care of a medical, welfare or correctional nature. These funds are available to declared institutions for projects designed to improve the educational prospects and broaden the general experience of children living in residential institutions. Some of the projects which have been funded are directly concerned with deaf children.

Grants available under the Schools Commission’s Special Projects (Innovations) Program, which may also be made for projects applying directly to deaf children, are paid to individual grantees, groups and organisations.

Schools Commission Special Education ProgramGovernment schools are responsible to State Education Departments, although parent bodies or community bodies such as school councils, are increasingly involved in schools management. With regard to the way in which organisations represent the children and their parents in non-government special schools the position is as follows:

St Mary ‘s School for the Deaf at Portsea is conducted by the Dominican Sisters.

The Yarra Valley Church of England School is a registered non-government school. Its Deaf Unit is assisted by the Advisory Council for Children with Impaired Hearing, a body responsible for Taralye Pre-School, Blackburn.

Schools Commission Special Education ProgramConcerning children assisted through each organisation, enrolments at government special schools in February 1980 were as follows:

Ewing House School for Deaf Children- 28.

Glendonald School for Deaf Children-146.

Monnington School for Deaf Children- sessional enrolment.

Princess Elizabeth Kindergarten for Deaf Children-72.

v) Victorian School for Deaf Children- 176.

Visiting Teacher Services- 823 students visiting on a sessional basis.

Enrolments at non-government special schools in October 1979 were as follows:

St Mary’s School for the Deaf-52.

Yarra Valley Church of England School (Deaf Unit)- 16. 5. (a) Schools Commission Special Education ProgramThe value of assistance given is as follows:

Grants to government special schools (Recurrent Grants Program).

The Schools Commission has no detailed knowledge of these grants since priorities for the expenditure of funds available to government special schools are determined by State Education Departments.

Grants to non-government special schools (Recurrent Grants Program ).

Of the $1,320,500 (in June quarter 1979 prices) allocated to non-government special schools in Victoria for 1979, the following payments have been made:

St Mary’s School for the Deaf-$2 1 , 470.

Yarra Valley Church of England School (Deaf Unit)- $5,61 1.

Sources of Support through other Schools Commission Programs:

Projects funded under the Children in Residential Institutions.


In 1977 a grant of $2,466 to the Armadale HostelSpastic Society, Armadale, for a project entitled: social Interaction for Deaf Children ‘.

In 1978 a grant of $200 to Ewing House Hostel for Deaf Children, Ballarat for a small library.

In 1978 a grant of $1,566 to St Mary’s School for the Deaf, Portsea for a project entitled: ‘Development of Skills for Leisure-Time Pursuits ‘.

Projects funded under the Special Projects (Innovations) Program between 1974 and 1979.

Film Making for Deaf Children ‘-$ 1 , 730.

Business Studies for Deaf Children’-$4,800.

Video Tape Library-$3,439.

Toy Library for Handicapped Children- $3,000.

Program in Business Studies and Career Education- $45,524.

Joint Deaf/Hearing Outdoor Education Program-$5,805.

School-Based Language Materials Development for Hearing Impaired Children- $7, 151.

School-Based Literacy Project for Hearing Impaired Students-$5,329.

CUED Speech Instruction to assist Hearing Impaired Children- $1,461.

Grants under the Schools Commission’s NonGovernment Capital Grants Program.

In 1979 a libraries grant of $1,000 to St Mary’s School for the Deaf.

In 1976 a libraries grant of $1,575 to Yarra Valley Church of England School.

In 1979 a grant of up to $168,000 for building, including provision for a withdrawal area for the use of the Hearing Unit, to Yarra Valley Church of England School.

All Schools Commission Programs- Control by the Commonwealth Government over the use of funds is exercised through the accountability requirements of the States Grants (Schools Assistance) Acts. In terms appropriate to each of the programs mentioned these requirements involve certification by a qualified accountant to the effect that the funds have been used for the purposes for which they were granted when made available by the Commonwealth.

Rail Link Between Sandy Hollow and Ulan (Question No. 5304)

Mr Holding:

asked the Minister for Industry and Commerce, upon notice, on 19 February 1980:

  1. 1 ) Did the booklet, Major Manufacturing and Mining Investment Projects, released by him on 26 October 1979, contain a reference on page 4 to the White Industries/ Mitsubishi Development joint venture for the expansion of a coal mine and upgrading of existing railtrack between Sandy Hollow and Ulan, NSW, and a note to that reference to the effect that further mine expansion is dependent on rail link construction.
  2. If so, what are the places proposed to be linked by that rail link construction.
  3. What will be (a) the total length, (b) the estimated cost (in 1979-80), (c) the amount of Federal funding (including 1979-80 estimates), (d) the employment estimates for both construction and operational phases and (e) any current estimated timetable of and for the proposed rail link construction.
Mr Lynch:

– The answer to the honourable members ‘s question is as follows:

  1. Yes, my Department’s publication Major Manufacturing and Mining Investment Projects did include a reference to the White Industries/Mitsubishie Development project at Ulan NSW.
  2. On the basis of information supplied by White Industries to my Department the proposed new railway line will link Sandy Hollow, near Muswellbrook to Ulan. An upgrading of an existing line between Sandy Hollow and Muswellbrook is also planned.
  3. (a) The proposed rail link will be some 148 km long being 105 km of new line and 43 km of up-graded line.

    1. The currently estimated cost is in excess of $40m. It is of interest that during the 1930s depression site preparation was done along the route, including tunnels and bridges, but no track was laid.
    2. No Federal funding is involved.
    3. The company expects the total work force associated with this project to increase from a current level of 75 to near 300 with a further increase to more than 500 on completion of the mine expansion program.
    4. The company expects the rail link to be completed by early 1982.

Coal Prices (Question No. 5305)

Mr Holding:

asked the Minister representing the Minister for National Development and Energy, upon notice, on 19 February 1980:

  1. 1 ) Has the Minister’s attention been drawn to a letter published by the Age on 1 1 January 1980, from D. G. Hill, Acting Director, Australian Conservation Foundation, which was entitled Aluminium power price puts too low a value on our coal supplies.
  2. If so, will the Minister explain the current Commonwealth Government coal pricing policy and mineral export guidelines and how that policy would be affected by the proposals raised by Mr Hill’s letter.
Mr Anthony:

– The Minister for National Development and Energy has provided the following answer to the honourable member’s question:

  1. Yes.
  2. The Commonwealth Government’s export policy for coal has as a prime objective the achievement of prices that are fair and reasonable in relation to world markets. The Government is, however, guided by genuine commercial negotiations between buyers and sellers and the export control power is held in reserve to ensure protection of the national interest.

Policies relating to the pricing of coal used for electricity generation purposes in Australian States are the responsibility of State Governments.

Community Youth Support Scheme (Question No. 5312)

Mr Holding:

asked the Minister for Employment and Youth Affairs, upon notice, on 19 February 1980:

  1. 1 ) What has been the allocation, by State, Territory and national totals for the Community Youth Support Scheme in each financial year since its inception.
  2. How many individual scheme units, by State and Territory, were in operation on 1 November 1979.
  3. What were the programs being run by each of those individual units on that date.
  4. What individual units were (a) disbanded and (b) scaled down by Government changes to funding in late November 1979, and in what electoral divisions are those units located.
  5. What statements have been made by (a) himself and (b) senior scheme administrators during 1979-80 regarding reduced Federal funding for the Scheme, when and where were those statements made and what was their content.
Mr Viner:

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

  1. 1 ) The allocation for the Community Youth Support Scheme in each financial year since its inception on 1 November 1976, by State, Territory and national totals is as follows:
  1. CYSS projects in operation on 1 November 1979, by State and Territory, were as follows: Australian Capital Territory, 4; New South Wales, 87; Victoria, 92; Queensland, 36; South Australia, 32; Western Australia, 39; Tasmania, 18; Northern Territory, 1.
  2. Individual projects conduct a range of programs and activities in accordance with the Community Youth Support Scheme Guidelines. However, the precise activities vary enormously from project to project and it is not possible or practicable to provide descriptive information for each project.
  3. Due to the rapid expansion of the Community Youth Support Scheme since its inception, the Government decided to review critically the overall operations of the Scheme during the 1979-80 financial year. This review allowed for the consolidation and rationalisation of the program while ensuring that fully viable and cost effective projects continued to receive funding under the Scheme. The review was undertaken nationally, without regard to electoral divisions, and any changes to the level of funding enjoyed by projects have eventuated from this process of review and consolidation.
  4. (a) I have made two public statements concerning Federal funding for the Community Youth Support Scheme. On 21 August 1979,I announced the allocation of $139.3m for manpower and training programs and affirmed the maintenance of the Community Youth Support Scheme.

On 2 January 1980,I announced the additional appropriation of $ 1. 6m for CYSS in 1979-80 and the issue of revised Guidelines for the Scheme.

  1. While no formal public statements have been made by Senior Administrators, advice provided from time to time by such administrators to CYSS projects and other interested parties have reflected the policies expressed in the CYSS Guidelines and in my own public announcements.

Law Reform Commission (Question No. 5321)

Mr Holding:

asked the Minister representing the Attorney-General, upon notice, on 19 February 1980:

  1. Has the Attorney-General’s attention been drawn to an Article Annual Report Time Again in the Reform, journal of the Australian Law Reform Commisison, No. 1 7, January 1980, pages 22 to 24 and the statement in that article that disappointingly the 1978-79 annual report of the AttorneyGeneral ‘s Department does not detail the steps taken by the Department to initiate Federal action on Commission reports and that so far, the fact remains that there has been much more implementation of the Commission proposals at a State level than in the Commonwealth.
  2. If so, what steps has his Department taken in all outstanding matters referred to the Government by the Australian Law Reform Commission.
  3. If not, how many of these matters are outstanding and what areas do they cover.
Mr Viner:

– The Attorney-General has supplied the following answers to the honourable member’s questions: (1)I have seen the article in the publication of the Australian Law Reform Commission referred to in the question.

  1. and (3) The Reports received by the Government from the Australian Law Reform Commission and the action taken on each report are set out below:

Herbicides (Question No. 5328)

Mr Holding:

asked the Minister for Health, upon notice, on 19 February 1980:

  1. 1 ) Has his attention been drawn to an article entitled ‘A New Evil Word: Dibenzofurans ‘ in the National Times of 1 9 January 1980.
  2. ) If so, what dioxins other than TCDD are present in herbicides used in Australia.
  3. What quantities of these other dioxins are present in herbicides used in Australia and what quality controls are applied during manufacture to regulate the levels of these dioxins.
  4. Are any dibenzofurans present in herbicides used in Australia; if so, what monitoring procedures are carried out, and by whom, either during or after manufacture.
Mr MacKellar:

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

  1. Yes.
  2. It is known that dioxins other than TCDD can occur as manufacturing contaminants in the production of herbicides such as 2,4-D and 2,4,5-T which are derived from chlorophenols. The only other dioxins which have been reported are the di-, hexa- and octachlorodibenzopdioxins. Toxicological assessments of available data on these compounds indicate that the hexa- compounds are far less toxic than TCDD while octa- and di-chlorodioxins exhibit an even lower order of toxicity. In view of this, and because only trace amounts if any are present, it is considered that these other dioxins present no undue hazard to human health.
  3. Apart from the TCDD content, no estimation can be given as to the quantities of other dioxins which may occur in herbicides used in Australia. Their concentrations are normally so small as to be below the limit of detection by available methodology. However, measures taken to ensure that TCDD levels are kept within legal limits would minimise the formation of other dioxins. In this regard, strict attention is paid to the temperature at which the chemical reactions are performed. 2,4,5-T is produced at a temperature of 160°C and should the temperature be allowed to rise to in excess of 180°C, then reaction conditions become favourable for the formation of TCDD and other dioxins. Strict control is also exercised over the purity of starting materials to ensure that chemical contaminants especially dioxins are kept to a minimum.
  4. I am not aware of any reports or research which suggest that dibenzofurans are present in herbicides used in Australia. The International Agency for Research on Cancer has reported finding trace amounts of polychlorinated dibenzofurans in samples of 2,4,5-T: however as dibenzofurans are chemically similar to dioxins and may be formed in an analogous manner during manufacture of 2,4,5-T, their absence is effected by strict temperature control as I have already described.

Victorian Housing Statistics (Question No. 5337)

Mr Holding:

asked the Minister for Housing and Construction, upon notice, on 19 February 1980:

  1. 1 ) Is he able to state how many Victorian residents are living permanently in caravan parks.
  2. Is he also able to state how many caravan parks in Victoria have residents whose stay is longer than 3 months.
  3. How many building commencements of houses and flats by (a) public housing authorities and (b) private enterprise occurred in Victoria in each year from 1970 to 1979.
Mr Groom:

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

  1. 1 ) The most recent official figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics show there were 10,932 persons at the 1976 Census who stated that the caravan park was their usual place of residence. These figures exclude owners of caravan parks, mem bers of their families and employees.
  2. There are no official statistics on the number of caravan parks in Victoria classified according to length of stay of residents.
  3. Dwelling Commencements- Victoria.

Disarmament Research (Question No. 5413)

Mr Les McMahon:

asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice, on 20 February 1980:

Has any sum been allocated for research into disarmament by his Department; if so, what is this sum.

Mr Killen:
Minister for Defence · MORETON, QUEENSLAND · LP

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

Much defence research has at least a potential relevance to disarmament- especially insofar as this embraces the development of limitations on the nature or use of military weaponry. No specific allocation is made to disarmament as a separate field of research.

I refer the honourable member also to my reply to Question 45 14 (Hansard, 20 September 1979, p. 1447).

Tertiary Education Assistance Scheme (Question No. 5416)

Mr Les McMahon:

asked the Minister for Education, upon notice, on 20 February, 1980:

  1. 1 ) How many men and women, previously on unemployment benefits, have transferred to Tertiary Education Assistance Scheme benefits during (a) 1978and(b) 1979.
  2. How many applications for TEAS benefits, from men and women previously on unemployment benefits, have been processed as at 20 February 1 980.
Mr Fife:

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

  1. and (2) Procedures exist whereby the Department of Education advises the Department of Social Security whenever applicants declare that they have been, or are in receipt of Unemployment Benefit in the calendar year for which they have qualified to receive educational assistance. The Department of Social Security takes action to terminate payment of Unemployment Benefit.

Detailed statistics are not available. It is estimated however, that approximately 1000 applicants for TEAS benefits in 1979 indicated that they were or had been in receipt of Unemployment Benefit.

Defence Force: Overseas Briefings and Courses (Question No. 5420)

Mr Les Johnson:

asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice, on 20 February 1980:

How many defence force personnel have attended briefings or courses at the instigation of Australian foreign affairs and defence authorities or the authorities of recipient nations in ( 1 ) the United States of America, (2 ) the United Kingdom, and (3) other countries during (a) each year since 1970, and (b) the period 1 January 1980 to date.

Mr Killen:

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

The numbers of members of the defence forces who have attended scheduled training courses overseas are set out below:

Tuberculosis Pensioners (Question No. 5448)

Dr Klugman:

asked the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, upon notice, on 20 February 1 980:

  1. Has his Department completed the reassessment ratings of tuberculosis pensioners, previously rated 100 per cent.
  2. How many pensioners were assessed (a) in excess of 1 00 per cent and ( b ) at less than 1 00 per cent.
  3. What was the new average assessment of those previously assessed at 100 percent.
Mr Adermann:

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

  1. 1 ) The Pulmonary Tuberculosis Review is close to completion with only 280 cases still undetermined. It is expected that these cases will be finalised during the next month or two.
  2. ) The most recent figures available, for the period ended 29 February 1980, show that, of the 5,623 cases determined. 937 have been assessed at the 100 per cent rate or above and 4,686 cases have been assessed below the 1 00 per cent rate. These assessments are:
  1. The new average assessment of those previously assessed at 1 00 per cent is approximately 40 per cent.

Nuclear Fuel (Question No. 5450)

Dr Everingham:

asked the Minister representing the Minister for National Development and Energy, upon notice, on 20 February 1 980:

  1. 1 ) Is the Minister able to state whether virtually all nuclear fuel for the United States of America Navy is derived from commercial reactors?
  2. Is this fuel processed entirely by Fuel Services Incorporated?
  3. Has approximately 423 kg of highly enriched uranium disappeared from FSI’s book-keeping system in about the past decade, or sufficient for 24 nuclear bombs?
  4. Is the NRC of the opinion that such discrepancies are unavoidable due to the chemical enrichment process used?
  5. Are these discrepancies consistent with Government assurances to the Australian people that adequate strict monitoring of Australia ‘s uranium exports is now possible?
Mr Anthony:

– The Minister for National Development and Energy has provided the following answer to the honourable member’s question: (1)I understand that only highly enriched uranium fuel is used in the United States Navy reactors and that this material is not a product of commercial reactors.

  1. Nuclear Fuel Services Incorporated manufacture all of the fuel for the United States Navy reactors.
  2. 1 am unaware of any statement by the Company or the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission that approximately 423 kg of highly enriched uranium has disappeared from the company’s book-keeping system in about the past decade.
  3. I understand that Nuclear Fuel Services Incorporated does not operate any uranium enrichment plants. The company fabricates enriched uranium into reactor fuel elements.
  4. Under Australia’s comprehensive nuclear safeguards policy, announced by the Prime Minister on 24 May 1977, nuclear material of Australian origin is supplied only for peaceful purposes and, in customer countries, is covered by stringent international safeguards applied by the International Atomic Energy Agency against diversion to nonpeaceful purposes. The material is also subject to strict physical security measures.

United States Nuclear Power Industry (Question No. 5453)

Dr Everingham:

asked the Minister representing the Minister for National Development and Energy, upon notice, on 1 9 February 1 980:

  1. 1 ) Has the Minister’s attention been drawn to a United Press report for New York of 20 January 1980 to the effect that in Erwin, Tennessee, a plant which during the last 12 years has lost more than 1 12 kg of uranium and which was closed during 1979 will probably reopen next week because the United States of America Navy needs fuel for its atomic submarines.
  2. If so. is the Minister able to state whether (a) the level of usage of atomic power in the United States is not related to its real cost as compared with coal-derived electricity but reflects military demands for atomic fuel and explosives and (b) much of the costs of research and development, waste disposal, decommissioning, monitoring and public risk were or are provided, borne or promised explicitly or implicitly by the United States Government for nuclear but not for alternative types of power plants.
  3. Is the Minister also able to say what is the value of public contribution to the nuclear power industry in the United States and what proportion is this of the known cost of the electricity so far produced.
  4. How does the cost of electricity from nuclear plants compare with that from coal fired plants subject to similar load peaks and total outputs under similar production authorities.
Mr Anthony:

– The Minister for National Development and Energy has provided the following answer to the honourable member’s question:

  1. 1 ) Yes.
  2. (a) The level of usage of atomic power in the United States reflects criteria such as reliability and assurance of fuel supply, relative costs of alternative methods of power generation, system characteristics and demands and environmental considerations. Commercial nuclear power programs in the United States are operated by private utilities and do not contribute to the United States Government’s military programs.

    1. Much of the costs of nuclear research and development arc borne by the United States Government. Similarly, the United States Government provides extensive funding for research and development of other forms of energy conversion.

I understand that waste disposal, decommissioning, monitoring and public risk are all items which are allowed for in the base rate of the United States electricity utilities and so the consumer pays for them in electricity charges in the same way as those items are paid for in alternative means of power generation.

  1. I am not aware of any public contribution to the United States nuclear power industry other than contributions by the United States Government to nuclear power research and development.
  2. Figures released in April 1978 by the United States Atomic Industrial Forum list the United States national average cost of nuclear power at 1.5c/kWh and of coal based power at2.0c/kWh.

Bliss Symbols (Question No. 5456)

Dr Everingham:

asked the Minister for Education, upon notice, on 20 February 1980:

  1. Was his predecessor’s reply of 16 October, 1979, (Hansard, page 208 1 ) in error in that Bliss Symbols and Blissymbolics are alternative terms for symbols devised by C. K.. Bliss and his logical system for combining and relating them to transcribe virtually all meanings.
  2. ) What steps will he take to accept the long standing offer of Mr Bliss to give Australian Capital Territory teachers a sound grounding in the authentic use of his system.
Mr Fife:

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

  1. 1 ) The reply of 16 October, 1979, made a distinction between the symbol system devised by Mr C. Bliss, A.M. and a version of this system developed for teaching handicapped students by the Blissymbolics Communication Institute in Toronto, Canada. At the time that reply was given it was thought that the term “Bliss Symbols” could be used to describe the original work of Mr Bliss and “Blissymbolics” to describe the teaching system developed by the Institute in Toronto. Mr Bliss has recently pointed out that both the terms should be used to describe the symbol system he devised, as this has been customary in the past.
  2. Mr Bliss was given the opportunity to explain his system to interested A.C.T. teachers some years ago. Following further requests from Mr Bliss, officers of the A.C.T. Schools Authority have recently again approached teachers working in special schools to arrange a training seminar at which Mr Bliss would have the opportunity to explain the use of his symbol system. They encountered some initial difficulty in making arrangements for this as very few teachers were interested in using this system or in participating in a seminar. A further approach which included a direct appeal by Mr Bliss to the special schools in the A.C.T. led to a seminar being arranged. It was conducted on 24 March, 1980, with six teachers participating.

General Aviation Maintenance (Question No. 5463)

Mr Morris:

asked the Minister for Transport, upon notice, on 20 February 1980:

  1. 1 ) What is the name of each person or organisation referred to in part (3) of his answer to question No. 5098 (Hansard, 22 November 1 979, page 3529).
  2. What specific action was taken in respect of each and on what date was the action taken.
  3. Have licences or approvals been reissued to any of the persons or organisations concerned; if so, on what date and in what circumstances.
Mr Hunt:

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows: ( 1 ), (2) and (3) Since 1976 the following persons and organisations are listed by my Department as having a licence or certificate varied, suspended or cancelled under Air Navigation Regulations 200A, 256 or 258, or as having prosecution action instituted because of inadequate standards of maintenance. The date of initiation of the action and subsequent action on the licence or certificate is also listed.

Hertz Rent-A-Car (Question No. 5479)

Mr Morris:

asked the Minister for Transport, upon notice, on 2 1 February 1980:

  1. Is he able to state whether the Trans Australia Airlines-Mayne Nickless consortium has purchased the 22.5 per cent shareholding in Hertz Rent-A-Car held by Mr D. Wooton and Mr J. Murphy.
  2. Is he further able to state whether Mr Wooton and Mr Murphy provided the expertise on the Hertz Rent-A-Car airport hire-drive contract.
  3. Do the airport hire-drive car contracts granted by his Department provide for Government approval to be obtained before a major change in ownership of shareholdings; if not, why not.
  4. Was he informed of the transaction referred to in part ( 1 ) either by (a) T.A.A. as a wholly owned government instrumentality or (b) Hertz Rent-A-Car under the terms of its airport hire-drive contract with the Government; if so, when was his approval given.
Mr Hunt:

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

  1. I am advised that the shares were transferred on 1 1 February 1980.
  2. No.
  3. (i) There is no requirement for concessionaires to obtain prior approval for such transactions in the sense that failure to do so would constitute a breach of contract. The contracts do, however, provide that they may be terminated if there is a substantial change in ownership or control. In this case it was considered that the change did not warrant such action.

    1. The existing condition provides sufficient protection.
  4. (a) As I understand it, the transfer is in favour of T.A.A./Mayne Travel Industries Pty Ltd. There is no requirement under the Australian National Airlines Commission Act requiring T.A.A. to inform me of such a transaction.

    1. The Department of Transport was advised.

Quail Island Bombing Range (Question No. 5482)

Mr Holding:

asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice, on 2 1 February 1 980:

  1. 1 ) How many protests have been received by the RAAF from Darwin residents regarding the RAAF’s use of Quail Island as a bombing range.
  2. When were those protests received and by whom were they submitted.
  3. Have any of those protests referred to the importance of Quail Island to the Aboriginal people of the Darwin area and to the existence of secret Aboriginal sacred sites on the Island.
  4. When did the RAAF first use Quail Island as a bombing range.
  5. Is Quail Island still being used as a bombing range by the RAAF; if not, when did its use cease.
  6. Did 4 Aborigines stage a sit-down protest against RAAF bombing on Quail Island during the early 1970 ‘s; if so, what was the date and duration of that protest.
Mr Killen:

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

  1. 1 ) Two. The Prime Minister has also received representations on this matter from the Chief Minister of the Northern Territory.
  2. One, which was brought to the notice of the RAAF on 25 May 1977 was made by a member of the Wagait tribe. The other, received in my office on 25 June 1979, was from a resident of the Darwin suburb of Nightcliff.
  3. The second protest referred to the importance of Quail Island to the dreamtime myths of the aboriginal tribes but neither protest referred to secret aboriginal sacred sites. Investigation has not confirmed the existence of such sites on Quail Island.
  4. Quail Island was formally established as a bombing range in 1956. It is believed, however, that the island was used informally as a bombing target by Australian and United Slates Forces during World War 11.
  5. Yes. Quail Island is currently the only live bombing range available for the RAAF in the Darwin area. A live bombing range is an essential requirement for the RAAF to maintain operational efficiency and defence preparedness.
  6. No. Four aboriginal people were taken to Quail Island by a person believed to be white, on Monday 12 November 1973 as a protest against a bombing exercise which was about to start. The understanding was that they would be picked up later that day. However, their friend ‘dumped’ them and did not return. They remained on the island until located by RAAF personnel and rescued by local law enforcement officers prior to the commencement of bombing on Thursday 15 November 1973.

Transition from School to Work (Question No. 5512)

Mr Humphreys:

asked the Minister for Education, upon notice, on 26 February 1980:

  1. 1 ) Further to the answer to question No. 4790 (Hansard, 22 November 1979, page 3490), what is meant by students being at risk in the transition from school to work.
  2. ) How are these students identified.
  3. 3 ) Are they notified that they are considered at risk.
Mr Fife:

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

  1. 1 ) Students ‘at risk ‘ in the context of the Transition from School to Work Program are essentially those who have strong prospects of becoming members of the group of school leavers experiencing significant difficulties in making a satisfactory transition to employment or further study. The extent of this group is reflected in the numbers of 15 to 19 year olds still registered for employment with the Commonwealth Employment Service by the middle of each year, in the rapid turnover of employment among young people, and in the significant numbers of unemployed youth who do not register for employment with the CES.

The number of school students ‘at risk’ is of course much larger than the number who actually experience significant problems in the transition to work when they leave school. While the focus under the Transition Program is on transition to work, the Commonwealth would not wish action by education authorities to be restricted to severely work oriented approaches. A successful transition to other aspects of adult life should also be of concern to education authorities.

  1. It is not a simple matter to identify ‘at risk’ students: there are a number of characteristics which clearly arc associated with groups more prone to transition difficulties. For example, Aborigines, children with non-English speaking background, handicapped children, children in isolated rural areas, early school leavers, particularly girls, and those with serious deficiencies in literacy and numeracy are often at a greater risk of experiencing significant transition difficulties than other young people. In the early stages of the Transition Program identification ‘at risk’ students by education authorities is likely to be in terms of such characteristics as these. However, many young people who have one or more of these characteristics do make a successful transition from school to work and it is hoped that one result of the Transition Program will be a better understanding of the problems of identification and the nature of the factors which place students ‘ at risk ‘.
  2. While characteristics of educational disadvantage help determine the ‘at risk’ group as a whole, it is considered undesirable to label individual students in terms of disadvantage or risk. Care will need to be taken in handling problems of assisting students to undertake courses best suited to their needs. The guidelines for the Transition Program specifically take account of this question by stating:

While improvement of techniques for indentifying students ‘at risk’ is an element of the Program, projects which by a process of singling out, categorising or defining students in ways which allow or encourage people to assume that those students have negative personal characteristics or poor abilities, should not be supported ‘. 2,4,5-Tand 2,4-D (Question No. 5516)

Mr Humphreys:

asked the Minister for Health, upon notice, on 26 February 1980:

  1. 1 ) Has his attention been drawn to recent statements concerning the chemicals 2,4,5-T and 2,4-D and their possible link to birth defects.
  2. If so, will he initiate an Australia-wide inquiry into the uses of these chemicals and their effects on humans.
Mr MacKellar:

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

  1. 1 ) I am aware of the numerous statements made recently concerning the possible link between birth defects and the use of the chemicals 2,4-D and 2,4,5-T.
  2. During the last ten years a vast amount of data on these chemicals has been examined by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NH & MRC). To date the Council has found no substantiated evidence to support suggestions of a casual link between the use of these chemicals and human birth defects when used according to responsible agricultural and forest management practice.

My Department and the NH & MRC maintain a continual surveillance on all developments in this field and all new data are evaluated promptly.

More recently the Department of Veterans’ Affairs requested the School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine (now the Commonwealth Institute of Health) at the University of Sydney to investigate whether Vietnam veterans, or their children, might nave been affected by the herbicides used in Vietnam. A study along these lines will be funded by the Government and the preliminary investigations have commenced.

You can be assured that appropriate action will be taken in the event of any substantiated scientific evidence contrary to the continued safe use of these chemicals being produced. In view of this, an additional Australia-wide inquiry into the uses of these chemicals and their effects on humans is not considered necessary.

Australian Fishing Zone (Question No. 5570)

Mr Humphreys:

asked the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice, on 5 March 1 980:

  1. Did his predecessor state on 25 September 1979 (Hansard, page 1464) that, in concluding arrangements in pursuance of Australia ‘s jurisdiction over the resources of the Australian Fishing Zone (AFZ), the Government would be acting to ensure maximum benefits for Australia and the protection of the interests of Australian fishermen.
  2. What is the cost of surveillance of Japanese and other foreign-interest fishing vessels operating in the AFZ.
  3. What sum is received in licence fees from these operators.
  4. Did Australia and Japan agree that the fees for Japanese access to the AFZ should be $ 1 , 400,000; if so, how was the figure calculated.
  5. What are the net sums (a) received and (b) contributed by Australia for the use of these resources.
  6. Are these sums consistent with his predecessor’s undertaking to ensure maximum benefits for Australia.
Mr Nixon:

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

  1. Yes.
  2. Primary and secondary surveillance efforts are directed to covering the requirements of a number of departments and are co-ordinated through a centralised surveillance unit in the Department of Transport, the Australian Coastal Survillance Centre. It has not been practicable to apportion costs, to any one department or to any specific incident, in this case the detection of foreign fishing vessels.
  3. The agreement on Japanese tuna longlining provides for an access fee of $ 1.4m whilst the agreements governing access by Taiwanese vessels provide for a payment of $984,600.
  4. The access fee of $ 1.4m in respect of the tuna longline agreement is a negotiated figure based on an assessment of likely catches in the Australian fishery zone and market prices. The figure must be considered in the context of all aspects of the fishery negotiations and compares favourably with fees charged by other countries for access to their 200 mile fishing zones.
  5. See answers (2) and (3) above. Costs incurred by Commonwealth and State Governments for fisheries management, including monitoring and controlling foreign fishing activities, can not be directly related to licence and access fees. The benefits from fisheries management are to the community as a whole.
  6. Yes. In considering the benefits generated by the operations of foreign fishing vessels in the Australian fishing zone, the secondary income (including multiplier effects) generated through land based activities associated with servicing the vessel, and expenditure by crew whilst in port, must also be taken into account. The Government has also to bear in mind the international obligation to allow foreign fishermen access to surplus fisheries resources and to the conditions established by other countries for access to their fishing zones.

Commonwealth Employment Service: Consultant Review (Question No.5578)

Mr Humphreys:

asked the Minister for Employment and Youth Affairs, upon notice, on 5 March 1980:

  1. 1 ) Was Urwick International Pty Ltd engaged to review the operations of the Commonwealth Employment Service (CES) in Queensland; if so, (a) was expertise for the review available within his Department, (b) were tenders called for the review, (c) why was Urwick International Pty Ltd selected, (d) what was the cost of the study and (e) was a private firm engaged to remove responsibility for any proposed changes from the Government.
  2. Were recommendations made by Urwick International Pty Ltd modified by his Department; if so, (a) what recommendations were modified and (b) were they made because of changes in (i) CES operations or (ii) the nature of demand for CES services, following the report.
  3. Will a new works program be introduced as a result of the review; if so, are the following staff reductions in Brisbane CES offices proposed: (i) Alderley, 2; (ii) Annerley, 2; (iii) Chermside, 2; (iv) Fortitude Valley, 1; (v) Mt Gravatt, 3; (vi) Nundah, 1; (vii) Redcliffe, 3; (viii) Woolloongabba, 4, and (ix) Wynnum, 2.
Mr Viner:

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

  1. 1 ) Urwick International Pty Ltd was engaged to review the Works Programme System which is the staffing formula used for the Commonwealth Employment Service (CES). The review covered the operations of the CES througout Australia.

    1. No. (b) Yes. (c) It was considered, that Urwick International Pty Ltd was the most suitable tenderer, (d ) $4 1 , 904. (e)No.
  2. (a) and (b) The consultants recommendations were modified to a limited extent to accord with current program activities and to reflect current client services and procedures for handling general business levels in the offices of the CES.
  3. Yes. It is not known at this stage what the changes in staffing will be for individual offices as the staffing levels for the CES for 1 980-8 1 have not yet been finalised.

National Railway Network Projects (Question No. 5595)

Mr Morris:

asked the Minister for Transport, upon notice, on 5 March 1980:

  1. 1 ) What projects have been approved in each State for funding under the National Railway Network (Financial Assistance) Act 1979.
  2. 2 ) What is the expected cost ofeach project.
  3. What is the level of assistance to be provided by the Australian Government in each case.
  4. When is each project to be (a) commenced and (b) completed.
Mr Hunt:

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

  1. 1 ) See my answer to Question No. 5 146.
  2. ) The expected cost ofeach project is set out below:
  1. The Commonwealth Government has undertaken to meet 100 per cent of the above expected costs of each project.
  2. The program provides for the Commonwealth to fund expenditure on these projects up to a total of $70m over the five year period 1978-79 to 1982-83. Under arrangements agreed with the States, work on three projects- Goulburn Signalling, South Dynon and Acacia Ridge- was carried out in 1978-79. With the exception of the Western Australian project, which is scheduled to begin in 198 1-82, work on the other projects commenced during the current financial year. As indicated in my answer to Question No. 5146 work on projects approved for inclusion in the program is expected to be carried out prior to the conclusion of the agreements.

Building and Construction Industry: Government Sector (Question No. 5614)

Mr Les McMahon:

asked the Minister for Housing and Construction, upon notice, on 5 March 1980:

What was the percentage rate of change in employment in the Government sector of the building and construction industry between 1975 and 1979.

Mr Groom:

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

The Australian Statistician advises that government employment statistics are not compiled on an industry basis. Consequently information is not available on percentage changes in employment for the total Government sector of the building and construction industry.

Housing Industry: Apprenticeships (Question No. 5617)

Mr Les McMahon:

asked the Minister for Housing and Construction, upon notice, on 6 March 1980:

  1. 1 ) How many apprenticeships are expected to be completed in the housing construction industry in 1 980.
  2. How many apprenticeships were completed in the housing construction industry in 1 979.
  3. How many apprenticeships are currently being undertaken in the housing construction industry in New South Wales.
Mr Groom:

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

Separate details of apprenticeships in the housing construction industry are not available and so the following information therefore covers apprentices in both the housing and non-residential building industries.

It is based on provisional statistics of building trade apprenticeships taken from ‘Apprenticeship Statistics 1969/70- 1 978/79 ‘prepared by the Department of Employment and Youth Affairs for the Commonwealth/State Apprenticeship Committee. This statistical bulletin is to be released shortly.

Based on recent trends in indenturesregistered and cancelled my Department estimates that between 6,500 and 7.250 building trade apprenticeships will be completed in 1979/80.

For Australia as a whole 6,1 15 building trade apprentices completed their training in 1978/79.

As at 30 June 1979 there were 6,969 building trade apprentices in training in New South Wales.

Korean Guest Labour (Question No. 5671)

Mr Holding:

asked the Minister for Trade and Resources, upon notice, on 1 9 March 1 980:

  1. 1 ) Has his attention been drawn to the article entitled Australia weighing Korean guest labour’ on page 3 of the Australian Financial Review of 1 7 March 1980.
  2. ) Are there any (a) industry or (b) Korean Government proposals to employ any Korean skilled or semi-skilled workers in Australia in (i) the uranium industry, (ii) the bauxite/alumina/aluminium industry and (iii) the iron and steel industry.
  3. If there are any proposals to employ Korean workers in any of these industries, can he state whether there has been any consultation with (a) the Australian Council of Trade Unions and ( b) individual unions.
  4. If consultations have taken place (a) when and where were they held and (b) who represented each of the parties involved.
Mr Nixon:

– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:

  1. Yes.
  2. 2 ) I am not aware of any industry or Korean Government proposals to the Australian Government relating to the employment of Korean workers in Australia. 1 understand that the general question of employment of Korean workers in development and exploration projects in Australia was discussed during the Joint Meeting in Seoul in September 1979 between the Australian and Korean Business Co-operation Committees. Nothing arising out of that discussion by the Business Co-operation Committees has been brought to the attention of the Australian Government.
  3. See (2).
  4. See (2).

Fire Tenders (Question No. 5686)

Mr Morris:

asked the Minister for Transport, upon notice, on 20 March 1980:

  1. 1) To whom, and (a) on what dates and (b) for what purposes, have paymentsbeen made in respect of the purchase by his Department of the 16 Walter Ultra Large (6,800 litre capacity) fire tenders.
  2. Are any sums outstanding to the suppliers relating to the purchase of these units; ifso, (a) what are the sums and ( b ) when is it expected they will be paid.
Mr Hunt:

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

  1. 1 ) Sixteen 6,800 litre ultra large fire tenders were purchased direct from Walter Motor Truck Company, Voorheesville, New York, USA. Payments to that company for each completed vehicle were authorised through the Australian Consulate-General, New York, on the following dates:
  1. No.

Surface to Air Missiles (Question No. 5722)

Mr Scholes:

asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice, on 26 March 1980:

What was the position of planning for the provision of medium range Surface to Air Missiles (SAMs) for the RAAF which was announced in the Australian Defence White Paper (page 24, para 92) presented to the House on 4 November 1 976, as at 26 March 1 980.

Mr Killen:

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

The Defence White Paper of November 1976 announced only that consideration was being given to the acquisition of medium range surface-to-air missiles. This consideration led to the judgment that, as the lead times for acquisition of a medium range surface-to-air missile (SAM) capability is relatively short compared with the warning time of contingencies in whch that particular capability would become important, it did not attract sufficient priority in competition with other items in the Defence Program. This assessment remains valid.

Basic Trainer Aircraft (Question No. 5725)

Mr Scholes:

asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice, on 26 March 1980:

  1. 1 ) Has the $340,000 allocated for development of replacement options for a basic trainer aircraft for the defence force, announced on 13 June 1979, been used; if so, what have been the results.
  2. Is the announcement by the Prime Minister on 19 February 1980 (Hansard, page 25) a further phase in this program or is the reference to development and production of a basic trainer a reiteration of the previous announcement.
Mr Killen:

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

  1. 1 ) On 13 June 1979 I announced that the Government would provide $340,000 for an exploratory industry study to assess trainer aircraft replacement options for current CT4 and Macchi MB 236-H trainers. This study, which was estimated to take twelve months, is not yet complete and final results are not expected until the end of June 1980.
  2. The Prime Minister’s announcement expressed the Government’s desire to move forward as rapidly as possible with further steps towards the production of a new basic trainer aircraft once the results of the study mentioned above and other work being completed within my Department had been evaluated and recommendations developed.

Air-to-air Refuelling (Question No. 5728)

Mr Scholes:

asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice, on 26 March 1 980:

What has been done to provide training capability in airtoair refuelling as announced on page 18, paragraph 31 of the Australian Defence White Paper presented to the House on 4 November 1976.

Mr Killen:

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

The honourable member will recall that in my Statement to Parliament on 25 March 1980 I said that an aerial refuelling capability was one of the capabilities we judged last year could be left until later. The Government made that decision in the light of the then prevailing strategic circumstances, the relatively short lead time for acquiring aerial refuelling equipment and associated training skills and national conditions of financial stringency which required a re-ordering of capability acquisition priorities. An aerial refuelling capability has now entered the Defence Program for decision in the coming five year period where it will compete for priority with the wide range of other capabilities bid for by the Defence Forces.

In the meantime, F111 crews will continue to undertake training in aerial refuelling techniques on joint exercises with the USAF, such as the KANGAROO and RIMPAC series. RAN aircrews exercise air-to-air refuelling skills regularly using the A4 Skyhawk air refuelling system. The Mirage fighters are not fitted for aerial refuelling. The type of new tactical fighter to be acquired to replace the Mirage will have some bearing on air refuelling needs. Each of the contenders employs a different system.

Surveillance Aircraft (Question No. 5729)

Mr Scholes:

asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice, on 26 March 1 980:

  1. 1 ) Does the Government intend to proceed with acquisition of the short to medium range surveillance aircraft announced in the Australian Defence White Paper presented to the House on 4 November 1976.
  2. If so, when is it anticipated that a decision will be made on a choice of aircraft.
Mr Killen:

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

  1. 1 ) This question carries the incorrect implication that the Government has announced a decision to acquire short to medium range surveillance aircraft. The 1976 Defence White Paper stated only that the Government had directed thatconsideration be given to acquiring ‘such aircraft.

In 1978, following a comprehensive examination of civil surveillance arrangements by a special Committee of Permanent Heads of Commonwealth Departments, the Government announced that it would undertake an extensive review of Australian coastal surveillance requirements based on experience gained in using defence and civil assets to protect the 200m Australian Fishing Zone. The results of this review, to be carried out in 1981, will assist the Government in decisions on appropriate equipment to meet identified national defence and civil surveillance requirements. Options are likely to include Service operated aircraft.

  1. A decision whether to acquire short to medium range surveillance aircraft for the Defence Force will be taken following completion of the above mentioned review.

F111 Aircraft (Question No. 5730)

Mr Scholes:

asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice, on 26 March 1980:

What is the current position with regard to the acquisition of precision guided weapons, improved targeting and ECM equipment for the RAAF’s F111 aircraft as announced on page 18, paragraph 30 of the Australian Defence White Paper presented to the House on 4 November 1 976.

Mr Killen:

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

Targeting systems are an integral part of precision guided weapons. The current position regarding acquisition of these capabilities is given in answer (2) to the honourable member’s question 5732. With respect to ECM equipment, the Government approved in 1978 a program to update the F111 Radar Homing and Warning System (RHAWS). Present expectations are that the improved system will be installed and operating by the end of 1 982. The requirement for additional ECM capabilities is under regular review.

F111 Aircraft (Question No. 5732)

Mr Scholes:

asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice, on 26 March 1 980:

  1. 1 ) Did the Government, in the Prime Minister’s policy speech for the 1975 general election and in the Australian Defence White Paper presented to the House on 4 November 1976, announce that precision guided weapons would be fitted to the RAAF’s F111 aircraft.
  2. Does the Prime Minister’s statement of 19 February 1980 (Hansard, pages 17 to 28) indicate that a final decision on this program has been made.
  3. If so, (a) what weapons have been chosen and (b) what is their estimated cost.
  4. Will any work or any part of the work be performed by Australian industry.
Mr Killen:

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

  1. 1 ) Yes: In the Defence White Paper. The Prime Minister’s Policy Speech of 27 November 1975 made no mention ofFl 1 1 aircraft.
  2. ) No. Acquisition of precision guided missile capabilities for the RAAF F111s was being planned in conjunction with a similar program being undertaken by the USAF. However in October, 1979 the USAF cancelled that program for the weapons systems update for its F111s. Other options are being examined both in conjunction with the USAF and separately and it would be imprudent for Australia to proceed independently if it emerges that there remain good prospects for a common solution. It continues to be the Government’s intention to acquire PGMs for the F111s, but the cost and logistic support implications of an Australia-only program require close examination against this background.
  3. 3 ) See answer ( 2 ) above.
  4. As with any major equipment acquisition, opportunities for Australian industry participation in production will be actively sought.

Orion Aircraft (Question No. 5734)

Mr Scholes:

asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice, on 26 March 1 980:

  1. 1 ) When was the decision announced by the Prime Minister of 19 February 1980 (Hansard, page 25) to fit P3B Orion aircraft with Harpoon missiles made.
  2. Does the announcement alter the previous announcement in the Australian Defence White Paper presented to the House on 4 November 1 976.
  3. What is the estimated additional cost of modifications required to enable the P3Bs electronics to be fitted with Harpoon missiles, compared with the cost which will apply to Orion P3Cs.
  4. What is the estimated future operational life of the P3Bs.
  5. What is the estimated date of (a) commencement and (b) completion of a conversion program for the P3Bs.
  6. Is the cost of conversion of P3Bs an appropriate long term investment.
Mr Killen:

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

  1. Early February 1980.
  2. Not applicable. There was no reference made in the Defence White Paper 1976 to fitting P3B aircraft with a capability to launch Harpoon missiles.
  3. Evaluation studies in preparation for the P3B modernisation program are currently underway. The estimated incremental cost of fitting the P3B with a capability to launch the Harpoon missile will be influenced by the scope of the total modernisation finally determined and cannot be fully defined before these studies have been completed. The P3C aircraft has the capability to launch the Harpoon missile in the basic aircraft model supplied.
  4. Studies in Australia and the United States indicate that P3B aircraft can be confidently expected to remain operational into the late 1990s.
  5. The dates for commencement and completion of the modernisation of the P3B aircraft will not be known until the completion of the studies mentioned in (3) above.
  6. Yes.

Government Printing Office: Printing of Telephone Directories (Question No. 5738)

Mr Innes:

asked the Minister for Administrative Services, upon notice, on 26 March 1980:

Are any expansions or innovations necessary to provide the Government Printing Office with staff and equipment capable of printing the annual requirements of Telecom Australia for telephone directories; if so, what are they.

Mr John McLeay:

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

The Commonwealth Government Printing Office does not currently have the resources to produce the annual requirements for Telecom Australia telephone directories which are currently produced by a number of large printing establishments in various States.

I am informed that British telephone directories are produced in England by Her Majesty’s Stationery Office in two factories dedicated to this work. These factories have a total floor area of 697,000 sq ft, employ about 1,000 staff and use approximately 50,000 tonnes of paper for one year’s production.

If the Commonwealth Government Printing Office were to be required to produce Australia ‘s telephone directories, it is estimated by officers of the Department that it would require additional accommodation, a staff increase of about 400 and a heavy investment in computers, computerised phototypesetting, web offset printing presses and bindery finishing equipment.

Incidents at Sydney Airport (Question No. 5749)

Mr Lusher:

asked the Minister for Transport, upon notice, on 27 March 1 980:

  1. 1 ) Did incidents occur at Kingsford-Smith Airport, Sydney, involving the following Qantas flights: (a) QF2 at approximately 6. 15 a.m. on 26 July 1979 (reported aborted approach in final stages requiring additional circuit); (b) QF6 at approximately 4.05 a.m. on 19 February 1980 (reported diverted landing, by-passing Melbourne for no apparent reason); and (c) QF2 at approximately 6.30 a.m. on 20 February 1980 (reported aborted approach in final stages requiring additional circuit).
  2. If so, (a) what official reasons were given for each incident and (b) was an investigation or report made by the Air Safety Branch of his Department in each case.
Mr Hunt:

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

  1. 1 ) and (2 ) The occurrences mentioned in the first part of the question do not in themselves constitute incidents within the terms of the Air Navigation Regulations and, as such, were not required to be reported. None of the three quoted cases appears in the records of the Air Safety Investigation Branch.

A check of other Departmental records indicates that at 0632 hours EST on 26 July 1979 Qantas Flight 2 went around from its landing approach. No reason is given in the record for this procedure and, as no reporting action followed, it is evident that the go around was necessary as a result of normal traffic requirements in the terminal airspace.

On 19 February 1980 Qantas Flight 6 from Bangkok to Melbourne diverted to Sydney after being advised in flight that the weather in Melbourne dictated the need to provide for diversion to an alternate destination.

There is no record held in the Department of any occurrence relative to the operation of Qantas Flight 2 at 0630 hours on 20 February 1980. However, at about 1050 hours on that date, Qantas Flight 4 was instructed to go around from final approach to ensure that separation with another aircraft was preserved at an acceptable level. This was a perfectly normal, safe procedure made in the course of normal air traffic operations. Nevertheless, it became the subject of several colourful and highly inaccurate press reports. Perhaps this event was the source of the honourable member’s question.

Turning to pan two of the question, there was no reported incident in any of the cases queried. The Air Safety Investigation Branch did not investigate any of the matters questioned but did make enquiries concerning the occurrence to Qantas Flight 4, which I have mentioned. Those enquiries have not yet been completed.

Natural Disasters: Defence Force Personnel (Question No. 5754)

Mr Scholes:

asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice, on 27 March 1980:

  1. 1 ) Are persons, including members of the Defence Force Reserve, who participate in activities relating to the Natural Disasters Organisation covered by (a) the Compensation (Commonwealth Government Employees) Act or (b) other forms of accident or injury insurance; if so, what is the (i) nature and (ii) duration of this cover.
  2. What criteria are used to determine the (a) circumstances in which coverage is available and (b) duration of compensation payments for (i) loss of income or (ii) disability.
Mr Killen:

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

  1. 1 ) (a) Persons including members of the Defence Force Reserve, who participate in activities relating to the Natural Disaster Organisation are covered by the Compensation (Commonwealth Government Employees) Act 1971, as amended.

    1. The nature of compensation benefits payable under the said Act are as follows: weekly payments, including payments for dependants, in respect of incapacity for civil employment, all medical expenses reasonably incurred, artificial aids and appliances, assistance in the cost of alterations to house and vehicle, constant attendant allowance, lump sum redemption in lieu of partial incapacity payments, lump sums in respect of specified losses, i.e., limb or faculty, lump sum payment to widow plus weekly payments to dependent children in cases where death is due to the compensable condition, funeral expenses ( maximum of$730).
    2. Weekly payments in respect of incapacity for civil employment and medical expenses are payable indefinitely provided such incapacity is supported by an appropriate medical certificate and that medical expenses are in respect of the compensable condition. Weekly payments in respect of a spouse are payable during such periods of incapacity provided she is wholly or mainly dependent on the claimant. Weekly payments to dependent children are payable until the age of sixteen years, however, payments are extended to the age of twenty-five years provided they are receiving full time education at a school, college or university.
  2. (a) Members of the Defence Force Reserve have cover under the Compensation (Commonwealth Government Employees) Act1 97 1 , as amended, whilst participating in activities relating to the Natural Disaster Organisation or of a State Emergency Service provided they are ‘called out’ as a unit etc. Cover for members in this situation, with or without remuneration, is contained in Section 7 (2) of the Act. Section 7 (5) of the Compensation (Commonwealth Government Employees) Act 1971. as amended and Section 1 1 (1) of the

Regulations thereto (Statutory Rule 1971 No. 1 12 dated 19 August 1971) also prescribes that any person who, under the control or direction of a prescribed Commonwealth Officer, takes part, without receiving any remuneration, in activities relating to civil defence carried out in the Australian Capital Territory or the Northern Territory is covered for compensation under that Act. This would include individual members of the Reserve who volunteer their services as private citizens. (Note: Civil defence activities in the States are controlled and directed by their own State Emergency Services ).

  1. Weekly payments of compensation are payable in respect of periods of incapacity for civil employment resulting from a compensable condition provided such incapacity is supported by an appropriate medical certificate. (Sections 45 and 46 of the Act refer). Lump sum payments in respect of specified losses are payable once the condition has been certified as being permanent and static. (Section 39 of the Act refers).

Defence Force Reserve: Compensation (Question No. 5755)

Mr Scholes:

asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice, on 27 March 1 980:

  1. 1 ) Is eligibility for compensation for injuries, illnesses or disabilities resulting from service in the Defence Force Reserve confined to a limited period; if so (a) what is the period and (b) why is the limit applied.
  2. Do any provisions exist for reservists who (a) suffer loss of employment or ( b) are incapacitated as a direct result of reserve activities to be compensated whether that condition is (i) suffered for an extended period or (ii) permanent.
Mr Killen:

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

  1. 1 ) There is no time limit for the payment of weekly compensation under the Compensation (Commonwealth Government Employees) Act 1 97 1 , as amended.
  2. Provisions exist for the payment of compensation under the Compensation (Commonwealth Government Employees) Act 1971, as amended for an unlimited period in respect of incapacity for civil employment provided such incapacity is supported by appropriate medical certificates.

Naval Movements in Indian and Pacific Oceans (Question No. 5778)

Mr Jacobi:

asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice, on 1 April 1980:

  1. 1 ) Will he bring up to date the information he gave on 28 May 1979 (Hansard, pages 2497-8) on the movement of naval ships in the Indian Ocean.
  2. ) Is he able to provide information on the movements of Russian naval ships in the North, West and South Pacific; if so, will he also provide this information.
Mr Killen:

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

  1. 1 ) Monthly class/day figures of Soviet naval and naval associated ships which operated in the Indian Ocean during the period of 1 April 1979 to 30 March 1980 are shown in the following table:

There have been 40 transits by 30 ships through the Suez Canal from 1 April 1979 to31 March 1980.

Indian Ocean ship day figures for the USSR, USA, UK and France are shown in the following tables:

  1. The great majority of Soviet naval activity in the Pacific takes place in the far North West areas based on Vladivostok and includes the Sea of Okhotsk and the Sea of Japan. This is outside Australia’s immediate area of strategic concern and detailed information on Soviet naval activity in this area cannot be provided. Subsequent to the Vietnam/China conflict of February/March 1979, several large surface warships, submarines and supporting vessels have been deployed to the China Sea area with some visits to Vietnamese ports. Activity in the Western Pacific is usually associated with deployments to the Indian Ocean via the Straits of Malacca. There is very little activity in the South Pacific, such as there is, usually is carried out by research vessels. A typical example was the visit of the research vessel Professor Bogorov to Cairns in December, 1 978 and Newcastle in January 1980.

Aboriginal Housing (Question No. 5790)

Dr Everingham:

asked the Minister representing the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, upon notice, on 1 April 1980:

  1. 1 ) Did the Minister initiate a recent review of Aboriginal housing.
  2. If so, (a) was the review completed in February 1980 less than 2 months after initiation and ( b ) is it to be the basis for consultation with Aboriginal housing interests before being used as a basis for policy formulation.
  3. Were these interests (a) informed of the review and (b) invited to submit suggestions.
  4. Will Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island people be allowed to have the major say in planning and providing their houses; if so, when.
Mr Viner:

– The Minister for Aboriginal Affairs has provided the following answer to the honourable member’s question: ( 1), (2) and (3) At a meeting with Regional Directors of my Department on 14 December 1979 it was agreed that it would be useful to have a meeting to discuss in greater depth a number of issues relating to the Department’s housing program. Accordingly, a further meeting was convened on 5-7 March. The discussions at that meeting will contribute to the shaping of programs and determination of priorities but were an internal Departmental exercise only.

  1. The Aboriginal Housing Agreements, signed recently by all States except Queensland, provide for Aboriginal participation in policy formulation and management matters relating to Aboriginal housing. The Department’s programs generally are based on consultation with Aboriginal communities throughout Australia. .

Employment Discrimination Committees (Question No. 5864)

Mr Barry Jones:

asked the Minister for Employment and Youth Affairs, upon notice, on 2 April 1980:

  1. 1 ) Did he, in answer to question No. 89 (Hansard, 20 October 1977, page 2289), say that he was examining the desirability of discussions with the States, as well as with the national employers’ organisations and the trade union movement through the National Labour Consultative Council (NLCC), on the possibility of providing a legislative basis for the National and State Employment Discrimination Committees.
  2. Did he, in answer to question No. 94, (Hansard, 12 April 1978, pages 1475-6) say that as his first step in examining the possiblity of providing a legislative basis for the National and State Employment Discrimination Committees, he was arranging for consultations, in the near future, with the employers and trade unions, through the NLCC.
  3. Did he, in answer to question No. 4403 (Hansard, 25 March 1980, page 1 193) say that (a) the NLCC has been advised that it was the Government’s view that the Committees on Discrimination and Occupation were the appropriate bodies to deal with employment discrimination matters and (b) advice had been sought from the NLCC of the Council’s views on the appropriate form for legislation to establish the Committees on a statutory basis; if so, on what date (i) was the NLCC advised of the Government’s view and (ii) is the NLCC expected to give its advice.
Mr Viner:

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

  1. and (2) No. This answer was provided by the then Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations.
  2. (a) and (b) Yes.

    1. The National Labour Consultative Council (NLCC) has been advised of the Government’s view on several occasions, that the Employment Discrimination Committees are the appropriate bodies to deal with employment discrimination matters; the most recent occasion being at the last meeting of the NLCC on 13 February 1980.
    2. The NLCC has decided to reconvene its committee on Discrimination in Employment to provide a means of consultation and its advice is expected in the near future.

Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 21 April 1980, viewed 22 October 2017, <>.