31st Parliament · 1st Session
Mr SPEAKER (Rt Hon. Sir Billy Snedden) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– Petitions have been lodged for presentation as follows and copies will be referred to the appropriate Ministers:
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth that:
Whereas a fully-accredited degree course in chiropractic has been established at Preston Institute of Technology, and
Whereas three hundred students who pay their own fees are in all five years of the programme, and
Whereas students and the profession can no longer carry the financial burden amounting to over$1, 000,000 per year, and
Whereas a debt of $240,000 is being incurred in 1 980, and
Whereas if funding is not approved by August the course will close and students’ careers placed in grave jeopardy,
Your Petitioners most humbly pray that the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled should ensure that funding of the Preston Institute of Technology Chiropractic Programme by the Tertiary Education Commission be no longer delayed.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Baillieu, Dr Cass, Mr Chapman, Mr Drummond, Mr Ellicott, Mr Giles, Mr Barry Jones, Mr Lloyd, Mr Lynch, Mr Martyr and Mr Yates.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of certain electors of the Division of Ballarat respectfully showeth that:
Whereas a fully-accredited degree course in chiropractic has been established at Preston Institute of Technology, and
Whereas three hundred students who pay their own fees are in all five years of the programme, and
Whereas students and the profession can no longer carry the financial burden amounting to over$1, 000,000 per year, and
Whereas a debt of $240,000 is being incurred in 1980, and
Whereas if funding is not approved by August the course will close and students’ careers placed in grave jeopardy,
Your Petitioners most humbly pray that the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled should ensure that funding of the Preston Institute of Technology Chiropractic Programme by the Tertiary Education Commission be no longer delayed.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Short.
To the Honourable Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
That 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:
Taxation relief for pensioners and others on low incomes by:
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Burns, Mr Ellicott, Mr Holding and Mr Morris.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. We, the undersigned citizens of the Commonwealth, do humbly pray that the Commonwealth Government:
. Note that legislation establishing plant breeders’ rights in other countries has had serious adverse effects, namely:
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Dawkins and Mr Morris.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives of Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth that:
Whereas before Europeans settled in Australia, the Aboriginal peoples of Australia had lived on their traditional lands from time immemorial and had in Aboriginal law and customs a clear title to those lands; and
Whereas Europeans and other Aboriginal people have occupied and used most of the traditional lands of the Aboriginal peoples against their will and without negotiation, compensation or treaty; and
Whereas it has been the practice of nations established in territories previously occupied by indigenous inhabitants to reach a negotiated settlement with those inhabitants, and
Whereas that occupation has seriously damaged the traditional way of life of Aboriginal Australians and has caused poverty and hardship to be the fate of the great majority of their surviving descendants; and
Whereas the surviving descendants of the Aboriginal peoples have expressed a wish to have their rights to land acknowledged, to preserve their link with their Aboriginal ancestors and to maintain their distinctive identity with its own cultural heritage; and
Whereas the people of Australia in 1967 voted overwhelmingly that the Commonwealth Parliament should have responsibility for laws relating to Aboriginal Australians; and
Whereas it is accepted internationally by the United Nations organisation, that each country should work to establish the rights of indigenous peoples to selfdetermination, non-discrimination and the enjoyment of their own culture; and
Whereas the Woodward Commission in 1974 established principles by which Aboriginal rights to land should be acknowledged and realised; and
Whereas the Senate of the Commonwealth Parliament in February 1 97S resolved that Aboriginal Australians should be compensated for the loss of their traditional lands and for the damage to their way of life; and
Whereas the National Aboriginal Conference unanimously resolved in April 1979 in Canberra to ask the Commonwealth Government to negotiate a Treaty with Aboriginal Australians.
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the Commonwealth Government should invite the Aboriginal People of Australia to negotiate a Treaty with the Commonwealth of Australia, and any Treaty should contain provisions relating to the following matters: (i) The protection of Aboriginal identity, languages, law and culture, (ii) The recognition and restoration of rights to land by applying, throughout Australia, the recommendations of the Woodward Commission, (iii) The conditions governing mining and exploitation of other natural resources on Aboriginal land, (iv) Compensation to Aboriginal Australians for the loss of traditional lands and for damage to those lands and to their traditional way of life, (v) The right of Aboriginal Australians to control their own affairs and to establish their own associations for this purpose.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray, by Mr Holding and Mr James.
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 Dr Jenkins and Mr Martyr.
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 continued use of animal ingredients in cosmetic products, and the inhumane use of animals in scientific research for cosmetic products is abhorrent and barbaric.
That the Industries Assistance Commission, because of the Commission’s terms of reference, seems unable to impose any regulation or recommend any regulation which might restrict the activities of Cosmetic Companies which produce cosmetics in which animal ingredients have been used, or for which animals were subjected to research.
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the House of Representatives will:
Legislate to require comprehensive labelling of perfumes, cosmetics and toilet preparations to indicate:
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Humphreys.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives assembled. The petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia, being employees of the Australian Clothing Industry, respectfully showeth:
Your petitioners therefore pray that the parliament recognise the rights of Australian workers in this industry, and that tariff experiments of the kind proposed by the IAC in 1977 and 1979 be rejected.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Humphreys.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
Rosemount Repatriation Hospital (Queensland) had been of inestimable value to eligible Repatriation beneficiaries for many years, and the closure or dispersal of the facilities available at the hospital would be a retrograde step.
The proposed decision to close Rosemount Repatriation Hospital follows a sustained campaign by the Minister and the Department of Veterans’ Affairs to run-down operations at the hospital through active discouragement by Departmental Administrative Officers of any further referrals by Medical Officers of patients for medically prescribed occupational therapy.
Your Petitioners therefore humbly pray that the Government will reverse its announced decision to close the Rosemount Repatriation Hospital.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Humphreys.
To the Honourable Speaker and Honourable Members of the House of Representatives assembled. This petition of concerned citizens:
Earnestly request that the funding of the Women’s Health Centres and Rape Crisis Centre be increased to allow these centres to adequately provide the services vitally needed by the women of New South Wales; Further to this end that funding be granted to allow new greatly needed Women’s Health Centres and Rape Crisis Centres to be established.
We abhor the continued cuts in funding that have occurred over the past three years and which are creating a situation whereby the centres are now facing the likelihood of no longer being able to function.
We submit that the deficit incurred by the cuts be made good by the Federal Government and to this end we submit this petition.
And we your petitioners, as in duty bound, will every pray for the granting of our plea. by Mr Charles Jones.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of Parliament assembled in the House of Representatives and the Senate. The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth that:
Taxpayers who incur child-care expenses in order to earn income should be able to have those expenses exempt from income taxation in the same way as other taxpayers can deduct business expenses from their assessable income.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Charles Jones.
To the Honourable the Speaker and members of the House of Representatives in the Parliament assembled. The petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
That the anti-social activities of certain organisations, in the main purporting to be religious and under foreign control, are causing increasing mental, physical and/or social distress to citizens throughout the Commonwealth of Australia.
Such adverse effects include drastic personality changes, alienation and severance from persons’ families and normal society, dispossession under undue influence of persons’ worldly assets, abandonment of socially useful occupations or career education, mental disorientation, and a common requirement to surrender their labour with little or no pay, working unduly long hours fund-raising for the exclusive benefit of the organisations’ leaderships.
Furthermore, a disturbing number of our country’s youth have died prematurely in unsatisfactorily explained circumstances or have become so mentally or physically debilitated as to require hospitalisation or treatment following their involvement with the subject organisations commonly, but erroneously, described as ‘religious cults’.
All evidence points to the fact that the subject organisations are commercial enterprises which, for the purpose of evading tax and other business obligations, have falsely assumed the status of ‘religions’ in order to take advantage of the blanket protection provided by Section 116 of the Australian Constitution.
It is your petitioners’ sincere belief that proliferation of such organisations unchecked with their personalitydisorientating and family-divisive practices and effects, represents a serious threat to the health, welfare, and peace of the whole community.
Notwithstanding the decision of the combined Australian Attorneys-General at their October 1979 meeting, that no special action should be taken by Government/s to curb undesirable activities of religious cults and that these should be dealt with under existing laws, such laws as would provide protection against the aforementioned malpractices do not appear to exist.
For this reason the Government should proceed with all haste to investigate the widely-alleged malpractices of the subject organisations which include Hare Krishnas, the Unification Church (Moonies) and such other groups as are subject of complaints, preparatory to introducing appropriate legislations to curtail the said malpractices to ensure citizens’ continuing enjoyment of peace and harmony.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Morris.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble Petition of undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
That the existence of a system of double taxation of personal incomes whereby both the Australian Government and State Governments had the power to vary personal income taxes would mean that taxpayers who worked in more than one State in any year would:
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that a system of double income tax on personal incomes be not introduced.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Morris.
– I give notice that, on the next day of sitting, I shall move:
That the use of animal content as ingredients in cosmetic products and the use of animals for research into cosmetic products be referred to the Standing Committee on Environment and Conservation in view of the continuing great public concern in the matter as evidenced by petitions lodged on 19 and 21 August 1980 by the member for Griffith, which bear over 8,000 signatures.
– I give notice that, on the next day of sitting, I shall move:
That this House, taking into account the strategic changes in the balance of power in the near and far east due to the Soviet military occupation of Afghanistan and its military support of forces in Kampuchea, now commends and supports the decision of the Treasurer to increase the Budget appropriation for defence to $3,45 1 m and therefore invites the Minister for Defence to explain how this appropriation will be used in support of the ANZUS Treaty and the defence of Australia.
– I give notice that, on the next day of sitting, I shall move:
That this House, noting the actions of the Deputy Prime Minister to block Trans-Australia Airlines’s purchase of four Airbus aircraft -
1 ) deplores the Government’s action in withholding approval for early delivery of Trans-Australia Airlines’s first Airbus, thus denying air travellers the improved services it will bring; and
condemns the Government for this latest attempt to undermine Trans-Australia Airlines and provide a substantial financial advantage to its competitor.
– 1 give notice that, on the next day of sitting, I shall move:
That this House and the people of Australia pledge their solidarity with and support for the workers of Poland in their fight for their guaranteed rights under International Labour Organisation Convention No. 87 concerning freedom of association and protection of the right to organise, and call upon the Western Powers to unequivocally warn the Soviet Union and the military forces of Poland that any retaliatory action against the workers of Poland will under no circumstances be tolerated.
– You hyprocrite.
– The honourable member for Melbourne will withdraw.
– I withdraw.
– The honourable gentleman will stand and state that he withdraws, so that I can hear him.
– I withdraw.
– My question is directed to the Treasurer. Is it a fact that, if the Government is successful in winning its battle against the central Queensland coal miners on the housing tax issue, the Government will move to tax the housing of all people living in other remote mining locations, and the rented or found housing of people employed in the rural sector and of all public servants serving in remote areas?
– I thank the honourable member for Werriwa for asking that question. It gives me the opportunity to put straight a few things that obviously need to be put straight, certainly in view of some of the comments that have been made by the other side. This is an important issue and I am sure that the Opposition will want to know the facts. The first point I want to make clear is that the Government is not engaged in any particular campaign or crackdown, nor indeed is the Commissioner of Taxation, in respect of subsidised housing or other kinds of benefits which are affected by the operation of section 26 (e) of the Income Tax Assessment Act. One of the more incorrect things that have been alleged on behalf of the miners of central Queensland is that in some way they are being picked on and discriminated against. The fact of the matter is that thousands of Australians who live in various parts of the country occupy subsidised housing. The difference between them and the central Queensland miners is that those other Australians either pay rents which are closer to the market value of the premises they occupy or pay some taxation on the subsidised element of the housing which is provided.
I remind the House that what is involved in the central Queensland mining dispute is an unwillingness by the miners to accept that it is fair to pay some tax in a situation where, in the great majority of cases, they are living in premises which have been occupied since 1 967 at a rental of $5 a week. The effect of what has been offered by the Government is that they will be allowed a 64 per cent discount on a conservative market value of the properties. To suggest in those circumstances, where the average wage of the people involved is $25,000 a year, that in some way the Government is picking on the miners of central Queensland is absolute nonsense.
The solution advocated by the Leader of the Opposition is to lift the section altogether. The net effect of that alternative offered by the Leader of the Opposition would be to open a significant avenue for large scale minimisation of taxation liabilities by people who normally and overwhelmingly are better able to afford to pay tax than is the average wage earner of the Australian community. For a person who claims to be concerned about the real disposable income of the ordinary wage earner of Australia, the remedy and antidote of the Leader of the Opposition is a very strange proposal indeed.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Employment and Youth Affairs. Are government funded job creation schemes an effective means of reducing unemployment? What would be the cost of any such proposals which have been put forward for Australia?
– It has been well documented in Australia and overseas, and notably amongst the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development countries, that government funded job creation schemes are not an effective way of dealing with unemployment. The Opposition learnt that lesson when it was in government.
– You wouldn’t know.
-Order! The honourable member for Port Adelaide continually interjected during the last answer and has now started to interject during this answer. I ask him to cease.
– As I was saying, the Opposition learnt that lesson when it was in government between 1973 and 1975. In 1975 the Leader of the Opposition, when Treasurer of the Whitlam Government, abandoned its job creation scheme - the Regional Employment Development Scheme - which had then cost $185m. So it is strange that the Leader of the Opposition should now be putting to Australia that the effective way of dealing with unemployment is to introduce another RED scheme. I remind him that a RED scheme by any other name would cost as much.
In a debate in this House on 25 March I put the true costing of the Australian Labor Party’s proposals at $ 1,000m- I repeat, 51,000m. That costing was not challenged in that debate, nor was the costing challenged in the debate which we had yesterday. The shadow Minister for Employment and Youth Affairs promoted a matter of public importance, seeking to uphold the effectiveness of a government sponsored- that is, taxpayer financed - job creation scheme. Not once during that debate did he dispute or challenge the costing that I put forward of $ 1 ,000m for the proposals of the Opposition. The Labor Party put forward a costing of $300m. Quite clearly, even at this stage, with our balanced Budget, and with our surplus of S39m on the domestic side, the Labor Party is proposing either to go into debt to the tune of $300m or to increase taxes to finance that $300m. But the Leader of the Opposition knows that he does not have to finance only $300m; he has to finance $ 1,000m. During the weeks or months before the election, I will be very interested to hear how the Opposition proposes to finance this $ 1,000m program. Will the Leader of the Opposition tell the House and the people whether it is by higher taxes or a higher deficit?
– I ask the Minister for Employment and Youth Affairs to state the basis of his costing and the assumptions and to produce the documentation, in view of the fact that the figure he is quoting is vastly inflated on the figure provided to the Government by its advisers which, in turn, is based on wrong assumptions but at least is several hundred million dollars below the figure the Minister is quoting.
Honourable members interjecting ;
-Order! When the House comes to order I will call the Minister.
– Quote the correct figure and stop lying.
– Mr Speaker, the microphone of the Leader of the Opposition is turned on, as honourable gentlemen know. You may not have heard the remark; but, just before you called the Minister, the Leader of the Opposition was still chattering into the microphone and he said to the Minister: ‘Stop lying’. Whenever the truth is stated about the Opposition’s policies and its–
Opposition members interjecting -
-Order! The Leader of the Opposition will remain silent. I ask members of the * Opposition to remain silent while the point of order is being made by the Prime Minister.
– Whenever something is said which the Opposition does not like, the Leader of the Opposition leads his cohorts to make that kind of claim. I suggest that if that tactic is going to be permitted through the rest of this session this Parliament will truly be a shambles until the election.
- Mr Speaker–
– The Leader of the Opposition will resume his seat. The Prime Minister has informed me, as a point of order, that the Leader of the Opposition used an unparliamentary expression directed towards the Minister for Employment and Youth Affairs. I did not hear the expression. The Leader of the Opposition will know whether he made that statement. It has been said by the right honourable gentleman that he did. I accept that and 1 ask the Leader of the Opposition to withdraw.
- Mr Speaker, it is correct that I did say to the Minister that he has been caught out lying, which is unparliamentary.
-Order! The honourable gentleman will withdraw.
– I think he will acknowledge that. Of course I withdraw.
– On several occasions yesterday I asked honourable members whom I heard interjecting to withdraw statements they made which were directed in terms like ‘lying’, ‘tell the truth’, et cetera. The fact is that those are unparliamentary expressions. They cannot be used. I do not propose to continue to ask honourable members to withdraw. If they continue to use that language, then I will have to deal with them under the Standing Orders.
– Mr Speaker, I raise a point of order. I ask for your guidance in relation to what is acceptable in parliamentary terms.
Government members interjecting-
-Order! The Leader of the Opposition will resume his seat. I ask honourable members on the Government benches to remain silent while this point of order is being dealt with.
– Mr Speaker, I ask for your guidance on what is acceptable in parliamentary terms when I know for a fact that the Minister is citing a figure several hundred million dollars greater than the net figure provided for him by Government advisers and that figure–
-Order! The honourable gentleman will resume his seat.
– That figure in turn is based on wrong assumptions according to the calculations.
-Order! The honourable gentleman will resume his seat.
– He has sought to mislead the Parliament.
-I find it quite disturbing that the Leader of the Opposition continues to speak when I ask him to resume his seat. I inform him that he knows very well that unparliamentary language cannot be used. It is not for the Speaker to decide whether an allegation is true or false. I will not permit unparliamentary language. Has the Prime Minister completed his point of order?
– Mr Speaker, I was only seeking to draw to your attention the nature of the Opposition’s behaviour.
-The right honourable gentleman has done that.
– Mr Speaker, I raise a point of order. Is it in order for the honourable member for Robertson to display a large handwritten sign with an unparliamentary word upon it?
-It most certainly is not. I have not noticed it. The honourable member for Robertson sits to my left and I do not have him in my gaze. The honourable member usually is well behaved. I hope that he will continue to be so.
– Mr Speaker, I take a point of order. You have given a ruling this morning that you will deal with honourable members from this side of the House who refer to Government Ministers as liars or as telling lies. Can you tell us what redress we have when Ministers, including the Prime Minister, deliberately come into this place–
-The honourable gentleman will resume his seat.
– Quote misleading figures and tell lies? What is our redress?
-The honourable gentleman will resume his seat. The honourable gentleman has been here, 1 believe, for 20 years. If he has not yet learned that unparliamentary expressions will not be permitted, he must bear the consequences of using them.
– I am not so slow a learner as not to realise that the Ministers do tell lies.
-The honourable member for Newcastle will withdraw.
– But Ministers do tell lies.
-The honourable member for Newcastle will withdraw. I warn the honourable member for Newcastle.
– I will withdraw that, even though it is the truth.
– I warn the honourable gentleman. I call upon him to withdraw unqualifiedly.
– I withdraw.
– I call the Minister.
– I am rather amused at the efforts of the-
– I ask the Minister to answer the question and not to refer to the interjections.
– I make three simple points: On 25 March there was a debate in this House, fully recorded in Hansard, in which I put forward all the costings which justify the figure of $ 1 , 000m that 1 have mentioned. On the same day I answered a question from the Leader of the Opposition also detailing the costings, and the debate followed that. As I said in my preceding answer, the Opposition has not challenged those costings. I remind the Opposition that not once in the debate yesterday were those costings challenged. The second point I make is that the costings that I have given have been on the basis of advice provided to me by my Department, by officers about whose integrity and competence I have no doubt. The third point I make is that, as the Leader of the Opposition, a former Treasurer, knows, when one details the costing of a proposal one details it on the basis of the outlays that will be shown in the Budget and on the basis of the appropriation which will be required to be made to the department concerned.
– Mr Speaker, I raise a point of order.
– I indicate to the Leader of the Opposition that, if his purpose in taking the point of order is merely to contradict what the Minister is saying, it does not represent a point of order.
– Mr Speaker, I ask you for some guidance and I would suggest some defence, if not of the Opposition, then of the dignity of this establishment. Several of us here are aware of the detailed figures which have been supplied to the Minister by his Department and we have to sit here burning, knowing that he is not telling the truth. He is overstating a wrongly concluded figure by some $400m at least.
– The honourable gentleman will resume his seat.
– Why does he not tell the truth? It is the wrong figure.
– The honourable gentleman will resume his seat.
– It is at least $400m lower than he is prepared to-
– The Leader of the Opposition must not persist with points of order which are not in fact points of order.
– Are we supposed to stand here and be clobbered?
– The Standing Orders bind me as well as the Leader of the Opposition, and the Leader of the Opposition must comply with the Standing Orders. I call the Minister for Employment and Youth Affairs.
– I take the opportunity to repeat that the figures that I have provided have been based on advice from my Department, by officers whose integrity and competence I have no reason to doubt at all. Finally, I make the point that I made earlier: Government sponsored- that is, taxpayer financed - job creation proposals of the kind put forward by the Labor Party do not provide employment of the kind that is required within the Australian economy. As the lesson of the Whitlam years demonstrates amply, those kinds of schemes in fact displace people from other jobs. If we go back to the statistics, we will find that between 1 973 and 1 975 jobs were actually destroyed in the private sector at the same time as government jobs increased-
– I ask the honourable gentleman to draw his answer to a close.
– Jobs in the private sector were actually destroyed. That is the lesson of Australian history. It is a lesson that the Australian people know very well indeed.
– Can the Minister for Post and Telecommunications inform the House what arrangements have been made to implement the Government’s undertakings to provide a multicultural broadcasting service? Has the report of the Senate Standing Committee on Education and the Arts threatened this service in any way? Can the Minister also clarify the position of public broadcasters as a result of this report and the intentions of the Government to implement the service? Does he recognise that the implications of the report could be profound for some public broadcasting services, particularly station 2MCE FM at Bathurst in my electorate, which cannot broadcast to the city of Orange without a special translator licence?
– The Senate Committee’s report on this matter was helpful inasmuch as it made it clear that there was widespread support for the concept of multicultural television, and indeed the concept of multicultural television was supported by the Senate Committee. It has been supported by all major ethnic organisations throughout Australia, which also support the basic thrust of the Independent and Multicultural Broadcasting Corporation legislation. The Government’s commitment to begin multicultural television, or the next exciting and experimental phase of multicultural television, on 24 October stands. The service will begin on that date in Melbourne and Sydney on Channel O and in ultra high frequency. It will, of course, proceed under the existing powers of the Special Broadcasting Service legislation, which makes this possible. The IMBC legislation also provides for improvements to the Special Broadcasting Service which are clearly supported by the Public Broadcasters Association of Australia.
The Senate Committee has raised questions for further study, and the Government will immediately put those to study. It is worth noting that in fact the Senate Committee does not say that it is its considered and final view that the Australian Broadcasting Commission should take over the next phase of multicultural television in Australia but says that it wishes the matter to be studied. As I have said, the Government will consider that. I make it quite clear that the other matters raised by the honourable member for Calare, in respect of which he has done so much good work over such a long time, are quite separate from that part of the legislation. Indeed, there are many other matters which, because they are quite separate, I believe will be able to proceed and will gain the support of the Senate. I think they will do a great deal to assist public broadcasters, and indeed all other broadcasters.
– I ask the Prime Minister: Is it a fact that the list of previous apparent breaches of the Broadcasting and Television Act tabled by the Minister for Post and Telecommunications is an entirely different document from the one that both the Prime Minister and the Minister for Post and Telecommunications published to a number of journalists on Wednesday and Thursday of last week? Is the difference that the tabled list omitted to mention any company names or the types of breaches alleged to have occurred? Is it a fact that the reason for the difference is that the list tabled yesterday was provided by the Australian Broadcasting Tribunal, which had ruled that the information requested of it by the Prime Minister and the Minister for Post and Telecommunications would not be provided in the form requested as to do so would be prejudicial in all the circumstances? Is it a fact that the Tribunal’s list was not provided until Friday of last week? Is the Prime Minister concerned that, in publishing the previous list, he and the Minister for Post and Telecommunications may have made false allegations against a number of the companies and persons mentioned in it because of the fact that many of them had committed no breach at all of the Broadcasting and Television Act?
– The Prime Minister–
– I directed my question to the Prime Minister.
– I had better not speak for the Prime Minister, but I am certainly not concerned about the last matter that was raised by the honourable gentleman and I do not believe that the Prime Minister would be so concerned. The fact is that some time ago my office sought information for me. The Prime Minister was also interested in receiving information. We sought information in the normal fashion, and a certain amount of information was provided in the normal fashion by the Secretary of the Tribunal. It was not provided on a confidential basis. That was part of the information to which the honourable member referred. Then we made a formal request for more information, and it was provided in the form which I tabled in the House the other day. It was the Tribunal’s view, in providing that long but not exclusive list of occasions when there had been apparent breaches, that it ought to be provided without the names of particular broadcasters. That was its view of how the Act should be interpreted.
– Will the Prime Minister advise the House of what it would cost to lift pensions and related benefits to 25 per cent of average weekly earnings?
-The total cost of lifting pensions and related benefits to 25 per cent of average weekly earnings would be something over $500m in a full year. Under the policies of this Government, whereby pensions have been indexed on a twice-yearly basis, pensions as a percentage of average weekly earnings are at nearly the highest proportion of average weekly earnings that they have been for a very long while. On average, they are significantly higher than the kind of percentage that prevailed during the period of the previous Labor Administration.
I mentioned yesterday that there had been an additional commitment by the Australian Labor
Party to lift pensions and, one would assume, related benefits to 30 per cent over time - I indicated that it was to be over time; obviously it was not meant as an immediate commitment - as suggested by the Leader of the Opposition on AM yesterday. The costings that were originally worked out were on the basis of earlier levels of average weekly earnings. The total cost of that would now be a little over $2,000m. But, of course, part of that AM commitment was to lift pensions and, again 1 would assume, related benefits- if not, I suppose we could be advised - to 25 per cent of average weekly earnings as the high priority task. That would therefore add an additional $500m, or probably a little more than that, to the already known commitment of the Australian Labor Party of $2,000m. Presumably, if one can take the policy-making of the Leader of the Opposition on AM as a firm commitment of the triumvirate, the firm commitments of the Australian Labor Party now are $2,500m in addition to the present levels of expenditure. In addition to that, of course, there is a large number - well over 100- of other uncosted commitments to which the honourable gentleman and his various shadow Ministers have been committing themselves over recent months as they have wandered around the country. Quite plainly, levels of that kind are just not on in terms of any kind of financial responsibility. It is interesting to note that AM has become one of the principal policy-making vehicles of the Leader of the Opposition.
– Did the Minister for Post and Telecommunications say on 20 May, in answering questions about the contravention of the Broadcasting and Television Act by News Ltd, that ‘nothing will be held back’? Why did the Minister withhold from the House the fact that he had discussed, by telephone with Sir Reginald Ansett, Sir Reginald’s complaints about the breaches of the Act by News Ltd as revealed in the National Times of 1 7 August?
– The fact is that Sir Reginald rang me at that stage to ask whether anything would be done by me and I said that the administration of this Act is a matter for the Australian Broadcasting Tribunal in the normal way, as I say to every broadcaster - and there are many- who rings me from time to time to inquire as to whether I would be prepared to interfere in the normal processes laid down by the Act.
– Is the Prime Minister aware that during the parliamentary recess I was on a three-and-a-half week whirlwind overseas trip, my first since 1975? Is the Prime Minister aware that in Norway, which has the advantage of North Sea oil, petrol sells at 60c Australian a litre? Is he aware of what I saw with my very own eyes- that in Greece, Italy, Ireland and the United Kingdom, petrol sells for 70c to 80c Australian a litre? With this sobering experience behind me, I ask: What is the Australian Government doing to protect this so far extremely lucky country from such devastating prices?
– 1 think the more Australians who follow the example of the honourable gentleman and travel to countries in Europe or visit the United States, taking advantage of the cheap air fares that have been implemented by this Government - so long as they come back before the election - the better. Of course there would not be a Labor seat left in the Parliament if enough people did so, because they would see that this Government has managed the affairs of this nation very well, and particularly so by comparison with what is happening in many other countries.
The honourable gentleman is quite right when he points out that petrol prices in many countries in Europe are approaching 80c a litre, even amongst countries which share in North Sea oil and which are therefore oil producing countries. We have been able to maintain a much lower level of price in this country because of our degree of self-sufficiency, because of the basis of the broad economic policies we have pursued and because we have not been forced on to the spot markets and therefore into paying very high prices in recent periods when oil was in very short supply. It is our intention to maintain the level of independence that Australia has in these areas by pursuing policies that will promote oil search and by pursuing policies that will bring on alternatives, that will encourage the conservation of a scarce resource and that will encourage and promote investments of the kind that we will see at Rundle in Queensland- a great shale oil project- bringing oil on stream, as the objective is, about the time when supplies from Bass Strait will start to run down very dramatically.
I think the honourable gentleman might be interested to know that in some areas of the Australian Labor Party there is a degree of support for our policies, quite apart from the support indicated in Hansard by the honourable member for Blaxland on an earlier occasion. The Tasmanian Minister for Mines, Mr Baldock, said only recently that most of the major exploration areas in Bass Strait between Tasmania and King Island had been taken up. He said that the rise in the price of oil had encouraged mining companies to become more aware of the potential of Bass Strait, as had recent oil and gas discoveries in Victorian waters. He was therefore quite plainly pointing to the fact that this Government’s pricing policies are promoting exploration and development. He was pointing to the fact that this is extending our reserves and was pointing to the fact that this is a very essential part of our policy.
Again I urge as many people as possible to visit overseas countries but to come back before voting day. They will then see very plainly the advantages there are in Australia compared with many other places.
-I draw the attention of the House to the presence in the chamber of the Honourable John Naupa, Minister for Transport, Communications and Public Works in the Government of Vanuatu.
– With some of the tumult in the last couple of days, the Honourable John Naupa may well feel at home. I refer the Treasurer to the measures introduced in the Budget relating to deductions from income of up to $1,200 for taxation purposes for the selfemployed in relation to superannuation. .He will recall the initiative.
– It is a great idea.
– Well, I would be interested to hear whether the honourable member for St George endorses this provision, given the income distribution in his electorate.
-Order! The Leader of the Opposition should direct his question.
– It is a great idea. It is a great Budget measure.
– I am sorry; I did not hear the honourable member for St George.
-The honourable member for St George will not be heard. He will remain silent. I call the Leader of the Opposition.
– I ask the Treasurer: Do these new arrangements mean that the net after-tax cost of the superannuation claim, if the maximum deduction of $ 1 ,200 is claimed, will be $8 1 6 for a taxpayer with an income in the range of $4,000 to $17,000 and $648 for a taxpayer with an income in the range of $ 1 7,200 to $34,500, while for those with incomes above $34,500 the net cost will be only $480, that is, only about half of the net cost to the moderate income earners? How does the Government justify this generous but regressive handout to the high income, self-employed professional in the heartland of the tax avoidance industry compared with the moderate income, self-employed skilled tradesman and farmer?
– I again welcome the interest of the Opposition in this measure. Firstly, I would like to correct the description of the measure by the Leader of the Opposition. It is not just a measure for the self-employed. It is also a measure for employees not presently supported by pension and superannuation schemes.
– It is still a rort for high income earners. All your bankrollers will be making a fortune out of it.
– It applies–
– It is a rort for high income earners, a rort for your people.
– It applies in a totally evenhanded fashion. The Leader of the Opposition by omission has tried–
– When are you introducing the legislation?
-Order! The Treasurer will resume his seat. I do not propose to allow the question to be answered while Opposition members make that noise. I ask honourable members on the Opposition benches to remain silent while the question is being answered.
– The great majority of employees in the community who are unsupported by pension and superannuation arrangements at present are in the lower income ranges. That is why the measure was designed to assist not only the self-employed but also unsupported employees. Of course this taxation deduction is in line with other taxation deductions; because people on higher incomes pay more tax they get a greater benefit from the deductions.
– Is the Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs aware that since oil companies were informed of the Government’s intention in the field of petrol retailing there have been a number of reports of leases being cancelled and retailers being forced to change their operations to company controlled sites? Will the Minister undertake to have pending legislation made retrospective at least to the day of his announcement? Also, will the Minister make it known to oil companies operating in Australia, most of which are foreign based, that the Government wishes them to conform with the spirit of Australian law as well as meeting the minimal legal requirements?
– The Government views with the greatest concern the reports reaching it that some oil companies may be terminating certain existing retail petroleum leases in an attempt to avoid the forthcoming franchise protection legislation. 1 believe that a number of members of parliament have received reports and allegations of such conduct by certain oil companies. If they are true, this conduct is certainly reprehensible and irresponsible, in view of the fact that the Government has spent nearly three years in constant consultation with oil companies and dealer organisations in an attempt to solve the serious problems associated with the retailing of petrol in Australia.
As the House knows, the Government is on the point of introducing legislation to deal with franchising, price discrimination and partial divorcement. In part, the legislation has been the subject of exposure; a draft Bill was exposed. The policy for this and other elements has been the subject of extensive discussion and consultation with oil companies and dealers and the Government has given every opportunity for discussion of voluntary measures designed to provide a reasonable solution; but, I regret to say, without a serious response. I will certainly be studying these complaints and the situation. I will have them examined within the Government to see what further action can be taken, if necessary, to ensure that the Government’s intentions are not circumvented.
– Has the attention of the Minister for Foreign Affairs been drawn to an article in the International Herald Tribune of 14 July which describes how the Australian requirement for prior consent before transfer or reprocessing of uranium is permitted has now been abandoned in favour of an ‘encapsulated area’? I ask the Minister whether he agrees with the International Herald Tribune article which states in part:
Whereas ‘prior consent’ constitutes a real checking point … the idea of an ‘encapsulated area’ would allow . . . a very generous margin of flexibility.
Does this amount to a change of Government policy? Does it also explain why the Government has been so secretive about negotiations with EURATOM?
– The answer to the first part of the question is that my attention has not been drawn to that article. I have not seen it.
– Why not?
– I do not read every publication in the world, but I seek to keep myself fairly well informed and generally I am able to indicate affirmatively that I have read a particular article. On this occasion I have not but I will take steps to look at it. But as the question is not–
– All right; don’t get upset about it.
– I am not upset at all; I am perfectly relaxed about it. I am so relaxed about it that I will remind honourable members of what the Government’s policy is in regard to nuclear safeguards so that, notwithstanding what is in the article, honourable members will know the corner-stones of that most stringent policy that the Government attaches to the export of uranium. There are four corner-stones of Australia’s nuclear safeguards policy. The first one, of course, is the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty which provides a formal legal commitment to non-proliferation. Our policy offers a tangible incentive to non-parties to adhere to the Treaty.
The second corner-stone is the International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards that verify the commitment of countries under the NPT. They provide assurance that the uranium we supply for peaceful purposes is not diverted to make nuclear weapons. The IAEA safeguards–
– Haven’t you read the third recommendation of the Ranger report?
– In answer to the interjection from the honourable member for Reid I will say that the IAEA safeguards provide a sufficiently high probability of timely detection of any significant diversion so as to constitute a real deterrent to any country contemplating developing an illicit weapons program. The third element is the bilateral agreements that we enter into which contain, as I have said, stringent conditions on both the use and control of Australian uranium. Indeed, they are regarded as the most stringent in the world and the agreements require the application of IAEA safeguards as well as additional obligations.
Finally, the fourth corner-stone of the policy is support for international and multilateral improvements in safeguards and the non proliferation regime. The Government’s nuclear safeguards policy, as I have said, will apply to all exports of Australian uranium under new contracts. Agreements concluded under this policy govern all subsequent shipments to the customer country concerned. I look forward to reading the article referred to by the honourable member. If it does not embrace those elements, it is not accurately reporting Australian policy.
– Can the Treasurer advise the Parliament whether taxpayers who work at sugar mills, following the introduction of section 26AAAA of the Income Tax Assessment Act, are now to have their objections for the year ending 30 June 1978 heard on the new basis of housing values and are to have their assessments for the year ending 30 June 1979 issued and payasyouearn taxation reduced in accordance with the new values? When will such objections and assessments be heard and issued?
– I inform the honourable member for Dawson and a number of other honourable members, including the honourable member for Herbert, who have made inquiries of me about the same matter, that the people who are the subject of the question will have the benefits of the liberalising provisions of that section which passed into law in April this year. Those benefits will be retrospective. In other words, they will go back to the beginning of the 1 977-78 taxation year, so that in respect of assessments from then on, the benefit of the new section will operate. This will mean that there will be a lower amount of taxation payable than otherwise would have been the case. Of course, this serves to underline in an indirect fashion, but in a very tangible way so far as these employers are concerned, the reasonableness of the approach that the Government has taken in this area. I take this opportunity of reminding the House that the people who are the subject of the honourable member’s question are in precisely the same position as the coal miners of central Queensland but they have negotiated in a reasonable fashion with the taxation authorities. I can assure the honourable member for Dawson that, taking into account the operation , of the new law, the assessments will issue very shortly.
– Has the Prime Minister met at any time with Dr Guy Pauker of the Rand
Corporation? In particular, did he meet with Dr Pauker in May 1978? In respect of meetings he has had with Dr Pauker, who was present at each meeting and what subjects were discussed?
- Mr Guy Pauker is, in my recollection, a distinguished member of the Rand Corporation operating out of the United States of America. Once when I was in the United States many years ago I visited the Rand Corporation and spoke with many of the officers of that Corporation, including Guy Pauker. I have met him on one or two occasions in Australia, I think, but not for quite some time.
– Did you meet him in May 1978?
– No, I do not think I have met him for a good deal longer than that. If the honourable gentleman has some worry about Guy Pauker and if there is some reason for his question, I will see whether there is any more information I can give him. I have met him over a considerable period. He has given a good deal of attention to research into Indonesia and South East Asia. He is a person with broad interests in strategic concerns. The Rand Corporation, as the honourable member knows, is one of very high repute in the United States.
– Has the Treasurer’s attention been drawn to the Nationwide program interview last night which described the effect of the Budget and the Government’s policies on a single income family with three children? The program showed such a family as paying $70 a week in tax and having only $3 a week left after expenses of $2 1 7? Is the Treasurer able to comment on the accuracy of the figures provided on the program?
– I did not actually see the program.
– You should, lt is a very good program.
– If the honourable gentleman is interested in the average family he will keep quiet and listen to the facts instead of the fiction. My attention has been drawn to the figures that were used. I understand that the claim was made in respect of a family with three children- the implication clearly was that they were dependent children - and an income of $290 a week. It was claimed that the net effect, after making allowance for various living expenses, was a surplus of $3 a week. On examination, the calculations did not include two very important allowances which rather dramatically alter the picture. Firstly, no allowance whatever was made for the spouse rebate, which is worth $800 as from 1 July. Secondly, no allowance was made for family allowances for three children. I think that in a fairly simplistic way the example given was quite wrong. If we make allowance for those two items - in the time available I have not had an opportunity to check any of the other calculations and further revisions could be necessary- we find that instead of the net amount of $3 used in the program we get a net amount of $32.52.
– I direct my question to the Treasurer. How is it possible for the Government to raise the house value limit under the Home Savings Grants Scheme by $10,000 in relation to the maximum grant and at the same time cut the scheme’s allocation in the Budget by $20m? Is this another Government thimble and pea trick–
-Order! The honourable gentleman can ask for information but not make those comments.
– In relation to the housing problem? Will it further extend the waiting period from the present nine months?
– There are two obvious reasons for the amount allocated this financial year being less than that allocated in the previous financial year. The basic reason is that there is a ninemonth waiting period for the payment of home savings grants. We are now into the second month of this financial year. That means that the greater cost to revenue will occur in the next financial year and not in this financial year. Also in his Budget Speech last year the Treasurer indicated that the high amount of $75m provided last financial year was partly because of a buildup of grants from the previous financial year. That was spelt out in the Budget Speech of last year.
The Government certainly supports the Home Savings Grants Scheme. We see it as an important scheme. It provides incentives to those who work hard and save money and it encourages home ownership. Honourable members will recall that in 1975 the Australian Labor Party decided to abolish the scheme. So there is some hypocrisy in any criticism of the decisions made by the Government.
– Is the Minister for Employment and Youth Affairs aware of fears being expressed in Victoria that the allocation of funds for the Community Youth Support Scheme will be $3.6m this financial year and not the $4. 2m calculated as the basic need by the Victorian State CYSS Committee, which could result in a cutback of up to 15 projects in Victoria? Are these fears well founded? If so, will the Minister immediately review the position to ensure that no existing projects are abandoned?
– I thank the honourable gentleman for his question. It enables me to allay any fear that there might be in Victoria or, indeed, any other State or the Northern Territory concerning the continuation of the Community Youth Support Scheme. During the last financial year the Government increased the money available for CYSS by $1.6m- that is, from $10m to $1 1.6m. This financial year $ 11.6m has been allocated again. I made it clear in the statements that I issued concerning the details of the allocations that it is estimated that 52,000 young people will be assisted under CYSS this financial year. At 30 June 1980, 275 projects were being assisted. I emphasise that this level of activity will continue to be supported by that allocation of $1 1 .6m. That is the first point on which the honourable member should inform the Victorian State Committee. More than that, it is expected that 10 additional projects can be provided during this financial year. If a proportion of that $ 11.6m has been based on the proposition that the same number of projects can be continued in Victoria, there will be–
-Order! Out of deference, no doubt, to the questioner, the Minister turned away from the microphone. As a consequence people on the Opposition benches could not hear the end of the answer. I ask the Minister to repeat just that part.
– The point I was making to the honourable gentleman was that the proportion of the $1 1.6m which will be allocated to Victoria is intended to allow the same level of projects this financial year as was in existence in Victoria last financial year and that, depending upon the valuation of existing projects, there may be room for increased projects in Victoria.
– I refer the Treasurer to the following statement in his Budget Speech:
The Government again desires a high priority for housing finance to be maintained consistent with overall monetary policy.
In view of the recognition in Budget Statement No. 2 that ‘saving bank deposits slowed in 1 979-80’ and that there was ‘a marked decline in the growth of trading bank housing loans’ resulting in a more significant use of finance services outside the major mortgage lenders, does the
Treasurer’s statement imply that some finance institutions will be directed to set aside a fixed proportion of funds for housing loans?
– The statement in the Budget Speech is an expression of the broad priority of the Government. I remind the honourable member that the level of lending for housing by the major institutions, that is the savings banks and building societies, during 1979-80 was at record levels. I am aware, as is the honourable member, that the capacity of savings banks to lend money for housing is related, as it is with any other lending institution, to deposit inflows. I also remind the honourable gentleman that the provision of housing funds by the permanent building societies has been growing at a very steady rate. I can only repeat what was in the Budget Speech, namely, that this Government retains and will continue to retain a very high priority for housing lending. I believe the changes that have taken place over the past few years so far as ratios are concerned have enabled a large provision for housing and that will remain a significant priority. The situation must always be governed by overall monetary policy considerations and must always be fully consistent with the commercial judgment of the individual lending institutions concerned.
– My question is addressed to the Prime Minister. I refer to the further report of the New South Wales Royal Commission of Inquiry into Drug Trafficking prepared by Mr Justice Woodward and debated in the New South Wales Parliament last week. Has the Government examined this report and considered its implications from the Federal viewpoint?
-The Government has received a copy of the report and obviously is concerned at some of the implications in it. There is a relevance of much of the material in the report to the findings of the Australian Royal Commission of Inquiry into Drugs conducted on behalf of the Commonwealth by Mr Justice Williams. As a result of that the Government has established an interdepartmental committee to determine whether any of the findings of the further report by Mr Justice Woodward affect in any way the Government’s response to the Williams report, or whether there are any matters in the Woodward report which ought to be pursued because they cut across areas of very particular Commonwealth responsibility. Therefore we will see whether any further action needs to be taken. As soon as we have the report from our own interdepartmental committee the Government will be examining the matter. From an early examination of the second Woodward report it is clear that His Honour has expressed concern over criminal activities in relation to drug trafficking covering a wide range of areas not only of State but also of Federal jurisdiction. Within the Federal sphere there are references to areas such as the illegal importation of drugs, the possible use of Australian National Line ships and containers in drug trafficking, breaches of currency regulations, failure to pay income or company tax, breaches of airline ticketing regulations, and breaches of immigration and citizenship laws. These are serious matters, especially when they are related to the general subject of the Woodward inquiry. In all areas of Commonwealth responsibility I will be asking Ministers to co-operate with their State counterparts and the State and Federal police forces in carrying out the lines of inquiry suggested by Mr Justice Woodward and as may be recommended by the departmental committee report that we have examined. If there are areas that we feel we ought to be pursuing there will be the fullest possible co-operation in relation to them. I think that all members of this House will be pleased to know that Mr Justice Woodward has noted that co-operation between the Federal and State police forces has improved greatly since the publication of his first report. Certainly the Commonwealth Government, through its Police Commissioner, Sir Colin Woods, will be doing everything it can to make sure that continuing improvements are made in co-operative efforts to combat illegal drug trafficking.
There is one aspect of our relationship with the New South Wales Government over which we have some reservations and concern. The New South Wales Minister, with possibly the most extensive responsibility for following up the investigations arising out of the Woodward report in that State, is clearly the Attorney-General, Mr Frank Walker. From our past experience of Mr Walker we have good reason to doubt his objectivity when there is an opportunity of political advantage. We also note with real concern that he maintains the responsibility for New South Wales Government investigations into the Nugan Hand banking group even though one of the matters under investigation is a serious allegation concerning himself. I do not wish to elevate that allegation beyond its probable significance.
– Mr Speaker, I raise a point of order. The material now being introduced into this Parliament by the Prime Minister should be done by way of substantive motion.
– There is no point of order. The right honourable gentleman is entitled, under the Standing Orders, to say what he is saying. The honourable member for Port Adelaide is not correct.
– Mr Speaker, I raise a point of order. This House is now being used to slander an office-holder in another Parliament.
Government members interjecting -
-Order! The honourable gentleman will resume his seat. I ask honourable members on the Government benches to remain silent while I hear the point of order.
– The Prime Minister of this country is now slandering another office holder in another Parliament. I think that it is out of order for this reason: In that other Parliament the right honourable gentleman has colleagues or partners who are able to ask questions and take substantive action. The only reference mentioned here today is that the Attorney-General of New South Wales failed in some objectivity aspect. That can easily be refuted. If the right honourable gentleman wants to encourage- -
-The honourable gentleman is now arguing the issue of substance. I heard the point of order.
– The objectivity, or the lack of it, has not been proved. It can be substantiated here in debate if the right honourable gentleman wishes to do so. This is a snide attack on the character of–
-Order! The honourable gentleman is not entitled to argue the issue. He will make his point of order.
– In the latter part of what the right honourable gentleman is saying there is a serious suggestion of criminal action by the AttorneyGenera1 .
– The honourable gentleman is now arguing the issue. The point of order which he has made–
– Mr Speaker, I have to argue the issue to make you address your mind to the fact of whether it is in order for this Parliament to be abused in this way by slandering another person who cannot defend himself. You have said previously that anybody who is to be the subject of a substantive attack should be the subject of a substantive motion. We would welcome it. If you, Mr Speaker, have read the Press reports you will know that the Attorney-General says that he has been framed by people in the New South Wales arena, not the least of whom–
– The honourable gentleman will resume his seat. I must point out to the honourable gentleman that he is entitled to take a point of order, and I have allowed him to do so. I am ready to rule on the point of order. I have not been able to do so because I have given the honourable gentleman very considerable latitude to explain, but he has gone beyond that. The Standing Orders bind him and me. Under them an attack upon a member of this House, the judiciary or the Royal Family can be done only by substantive motion. That does not cover a member of another Parliament. Therefore what the right honourable gentleman is saying is within the Standing Orders. The honourable gentleman can seek recourse to the Standing Orders to rebut, if he chooses, and the Standing Orders permit him to do that. The fact is that there is no point of order. I must overrule the honourable gentleman.
– I do not want to elevate that allegation beyond its probable significance but the principle of separation- I hope that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition is concerned about this - of those conducting an inquiry from those against whom allegations have been made is an important one and Mr Walker has not followed that principle. Nonetheless, we will do our best to co-operate with State authorities in this matter. We would expect the New South Wales Premier, Mr Wran, to intervene in any area where we believe the fight against organised crime has been jeopardised by considerations other than those of the proper administration of justice.
– Mr Speaker, with your indulgence I would like to add to an answer I gave to the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. In stating the general policy on nuclear safeguards I omitted - and I apologise - to address the specific question near the end of his question to me which dealt with an allegation that the Government was being secretive concerning nuclear safeguards negotiations with EURATOM. As the negotiations are still under way, it would be inappropriate for me to go into specific details on this matter at present. But I can say, and should have added at that time, that three rounds of negotiations on an Australia-EURATOM nuclear safeguards agreement have been held so far. The third round was held in Canberra in June of this year. The dates for the next round of negotiations, to the best of my knowledge and recall, have not yet been finalised, but satisfactory progress is unquestionably being made to date in the negotiations. We attach considerable importance to the conclusion of a nuclear safeguards agreement with EURATOM which will open the way for the export of Australian uranium to meet the energy needs of the member states of the European Community.
-Mr Speaker, with your permission, could I ask the Minister to say quickly what is the encapsulated area?
– I think I have covered enough.
-The honourable member for Corio has indicated to me that he wishes to ask for information.
– Arising out of the Budget debate, and ignoring unofficial comments on it, I point out that the Budget Speech in the printed form was made available to honourable senators at 8 o’clock on Budget night. I ask you, Mr Speaker, whether you will discuss with the Treasurer (Mr Howard) or a future Treasurer why senators are given copies of the Budget Speech prior to the delivery of the Speech but it is withheld from members of this House until the conclusion of the Speech.
– I will make inquiries and let the honourable gentleman know.
- Mr Speaker, I seek your indulgence to make a personal statement.
-Does the honourable gentleman claim to have been misrepresented? ‘
– In essence, yes, Mr Speaker.
-I will put the question to the honourable gentleman again. Does he claim to have been misrepresented?
– I do, Mr Speaker.
– He may proceed.
– Thank you, Mr Speaker. I advised the Leader of the Opposition that I would be raising this matter, and it is in the following form: Shortly after 3 p.m. on Tuesday, 19 August last, I gave notice of a motion in this House in the following terms:
That this House expresses its grave concern that even though the date for the Federal election has not yet been officially announced, the Leader of the Opposition has made promises all around Australia relating to five Federal departments and involving a total additional cost to the taxpayers of Australia of $2,000m a year.
The reference is page 17 of Hansard for 19 August. Yesterday afternoon I raised in this House the fact that immediately after I completed giving my notice of motion with the words, and I quote - involving a total additional cost to the taxpayers of Australia of $2,000m a year - close quotes - the Leader of the Opposition was clearly heard to say- quote - Make it four - close quotes; that is, $4,000m. Yesterday afternoon I asked you, Mr Speaker, to listen to the official Hansard tape recording.
- Mr Speaker, I take a point of order. The honourable member for Denison raised this question yesterday and it was not a matter of personal explanation because he was raising whether an interjection by the Leader of the Opposition had been included in Hansard. I did not believe it was a matter of personal explanation yesterday. 1 am sure it is not a matter of personal explanation. It has nothing at all to do with the way in which the honourable member for Denison may have been misrepresented in what he said. What he said has been included in Hansard verbatim. There is no correction to what he has said. He is trying to re-arrange the Hansard in respect of what the Leader of the Opposition may or may not have said.
– Yesterday the honourable member for Denison raised with me a point as to whether an interjection by the Leader of the Opposition should or should not appear in Hansard. The Hansard was not then available, as I remember it. That is why he raised with me whether it would or would not appear. What the honourable gentleman has done so far is to recapitulate what he said yesterday. I ask the honourable gentleman to come to the point of the misrepresentation quickly.
– Yes, Mr Speaker. As I said yesterday afternoon, I asked you whether you would be prepared to listen to the official Hansard tape recording to confirm that the Leader of the Opposition had in fact said - quote- Make it four- close quotes- and to have those very important words incorporated in the Hansard. The Leader of the Opposition immediately rose in his place yesterday afternoon–
– Mr Speaker, I take a point of order. The honourable member for Denison is constantly repeating a part quotation. The matter was dealt with yesterday and what he is repeating to the House over and over again is not what was related to you by the Leader of the Opposition yesterday afternoon when the matter was resolved, This honourable member is the one who is supporting $3.5 billion with promises on transport alone.
– The honourable gentleman will resume his seat.
– He does not want cheaper air fares for Tasmania.
-I call the honourable member for Denison.
– Thank you, Mr Speaker. The Leader of the Opposition immediately rose in his place yesterday afternoon and said- and I quote him verbatim - quote- Make it four. You have never been restrained by a want of responsibility and honesty before - close quotes.
– You would be one of the best liars in this place.
– Because of the Leader of the Opposition’s assertion, I sought–
-The honourable member for Denison will resume his seat. The honourable member for Newcastle will withdraw.
– I withdraw that, Mr Speaker.
-I warn the honourable member for Newcastle that the next time he addresses any member of this House as a liar, 1 will warn him immediately. 1 call the honourable member for Denison.
– If I am allowed to finish, I will finish in about one minute. Because of the Leader of the Opposition’s assertion, I sought and obtained the official Hansard tape of Tuesday afternoon. I have it in my hand and I would dearly love to play it to this House, but I am told that that is not possible. The tape discloses clearly that as I completed giving my notice of motion the Leader of the Opposition called out- quoteMake it four- close quotes.
– That is all.
– That is all. I repeatquote - Make it four - close quotes. No more, no less.
- Mr Speaker, I take a point of order. How can a tape recording possibly have on it ‘quote, close quote’? It is just a ridiculous proposition he is putting across.
-The honourable gentleman will resume his seat. The point of order is equally ridiculous. I call the honourable member for Denison.
– Mr Speaker, I take a point of order.
– I call the honourable member for Corio.
– I want to be heard. When the mouth from Bendigo shuts up I will–
-The honourable member for Corio will make his point of order.
– Before the honourable member is entitled to make an allegation that the Leader of the Opposition misled the House, which is in fact what he is saying, he is also required to prove to the House that the tape recording contains all that is said in this chamber which in fact is not technically possible. All interjections are not picked up by the tapes. It depends on which microphones are turned on, for what period they are turned on and on whether persons have spoken over the interjector from other areas where better access to microphones exists.
– There is no point of order. I call the honourable member for Denison.
- Mr Speaker, I take a point pf order. Can we have an adjournment so we can all listen to the tape?
– No. The honourable gentleman will resume his seat. I call the honourable member for Denison.
– Mr Speaker, 1 take a point of order.
-I will not hear a point of order. I call the honourable member for Denison.
– As I said, on playing the tape the words ‘Make it four’ are clearly heard.
– That is all.
– That is all,
-The honourable gentleman has already told the House that. He will go to the next point or resume his seat.
– The other words claimed to have been said by the Leader of the Opposition simply do not appear on the official Hansard tape.
-The honourable gentleman will resume his seat.
– They are not there. He has misled the House.
-The honourable gentleman will resume his seat.
– He has misled the House.
-The honourable member for Denison will remain silent.
- Mr Speaker, I seek your indulgence to make a point about this episode. You have allowed the honourable member to go on with what is clearly a most irresponsible intervention in this Parliament, taking time from the grievance debate and so on. He is notorious for being irresponsible and seeking publicity in this way.
-The honourable member for Adelaide will resume his seat.
– I ask you to put him in his place.
-The honourable member for Adelaide will resume his seat.
- Mr Speaker–
– The honourable member for Denison will resume his seat. What the honourable member for Adelaide said is not correct. It is a reflection on the Chair, in fact, but I will ignore that. Until the honourable member for Denison has stated his point I must assume that there is a misrepresentation. I remind the honourable member for Adelaide that I extend great indulgence to anybody in this House who feels that he has been misrepresented. It has been my practice to do so in respect of both sides of the House. The misuse of personal explanations is as widespread on the honourable member’s side of the House as it is on the side of the House on which the honourable member for Denison sits. I think the matter ought to be at an end, unless the honourable member for Denison wishes to move some sort of substantive motion in relation to it. If he wishes to move some sort of substantive motion, he will have to do so either by notice delivered to the Clerk or next week when notices of motion are called on. The question of whether the motion will be debated will then be a matter for the Leader of the House.
– Mr Speaker–
-Order! The honourable member will resume his seat.
– I seek to table the tape.
-Order! The honourable member for Denison will remain silent. I will not hear more from him. I have asked him to remain silent. If he does not remain silent I will deal with him.
– Honourable members will recall that on 20 February last Mr President and I announced that Logica Pty Limited had been commissioned to undertake a planning study for the information systems and information services of the Parliament. The study, which commenced on 3 March and concluded at the end of May, culminated in the formulation of an overall plan which was presented to Mr President and me in the form of a two-volume report late in June. It was, of course, vital that the project team ascertain at first hand the needs of senators and members, and to achieve this all parliamentarians were offered the opportunity of an interview. I am pleased that by the conclusion of the exercise 29 senators and members had been interviewed personally. In addition, 51 had completed a detailed questionnaire on their information needs.
As part of the continuing commitment to keep the Parliament fully informed of progress in this area, I now present a copy of volume 1 of the report, which summarises the major features of the overall plan envisaged by the consultants. Volume 2 contains a great deal of detail on a number of activities which may be of academic interest only to members. I emphasise that it foreshadows a wide range of options and that at this stage there is no commitment at all to any of the possible systems. The report is at present being carefully examined and evaluated by the parliamentary departments in accordance with the program outlined in the February statement. Copies of volume 1 will be distributed to members. A reference copy of volume 2 is available in my office should any member wish to examine it. If, as a result of the evaluation of the initial report, Mr President and I decide that the consultancy project will proceed, the second major part of the study would be the preparation of detailed design for information systems.
– Pursuant to section 41 of the Export Market Development Grants Act 1974 and section 20 of the Export Expansion Grants Act 1 978 I present the fifth annual report 1979-80 of the Export Development Grants Board.
– For the information of honourable members I present the sixth annual report 1978-79 of the National Committee on Discrimination in Employment and Occupation.
– For the information of honourable members I present the National Training Council annual report 1979.
– For the information of honourable members I present a report prepared by the Department of Employment and Youth Affairs entitled ‘Employment Prospects by Industry and Occupation’.
– For the information of honourable members I present the report by the Trade Practices Commission on price discrimination in the petroleum retailing industry.
– For the information of honourable members I present the report of the Industries Assistance Commission on asbestos.
– For the information of honourable members I present the report of the Industries Assistance Commission on coated papers for use in the production of carbonless copying paper (by-law).
– For the information of honourable members I present the report of the Industries Assistance Commission on polymeric plasticisers and certain polyester polyols.
– In response to the Government’s guidelines, which I announced to the Parliament on 22 May 1980, I present reports from the two Commonwealth education commissions which make recommendations for the allocation of Commonwealth specific purpose education grants in the States and the Northern Territory in 1981. The report of the Tertiary Education Commission makes recommendations for the allocation of funds to universities, colleges of advanced education, and technical and further education institutions. The tabling of the report also satisfies the requirements of sections 4 and 31 of the States Grants (Tertiary Education Assistance) Act 1978.
The Government is consulting the States and the Northern Territory on the recommendations in the reports of both commissions for the allocation of funds in 1 98 1 . In accordance with established practice, the Government will be considering the recommendations shortly and will then be introducing States grants legislation during the Budget sittings to implement approved education funding programs for 1981.
That grievances be noted.
– The matter I wish to raise relates to the automotive industry and the failure of Government policy to meet the problems of that industry. Yesterday the General Motors-Holden’s Ltd automotive plant at Pagewood closed down and over 1,200 workers began losing their jobs. We have a government that has no policy at all that at least gives those people some hope for the future. It is very important when talking about a government having a policy in these areas to emphasise what has happened at Pagewood. Going back to 1939, the then Mr Menzies opened the plant with the famous words that Pagewood was a symbol of the growth of the Australian motor industry. It is now closed, so it can be said that it is a symbol of the death of the Australian motor industry.
– The honourable member might say no, but he should look at the facts. When workers at the plant sought Government assistance the only comment made by a Minister of this Government was that the Government takes the view that commercial decisions are matters for companies themselves. This was no commercial decision. It was the equivalent of an atomic bomb hitting the area. Some 1 , 200 people who have given many years of service to a company have been removed from effective employment.
A government that has encouraged a policy of restructure or change in the automotive industry has deliberately brought about the present situation, lt can be said, of course, that the Government does not have a policy in this area, and that would be an accurate comment. The policy the Government is implementing is the policy of General Motors-Holden’s. It is a policy that was drawn up in Detroit. It is a policy which says that the Australian share of the Australian car will be reduced to a point where there will be no real effective Australian content at all. We want to make that point. How is it that a Minister can say: Well, it is not my responsibility; I have nothing to do with the matter; it is a commercial consideration’?
I remind the Government that while General Motors-Holden’s has been here it has remitted profits of $A370m to the United States. It should also be borne in mind that it was Australian money that started off the company in Australia and that it was Australian support for the product that gave the company its profits. Now we have the beginning of the end of the automotive industry, lt is Pagewood today; it will be Woodville in South Australia tomorrow. The domino theory poses massive problems for the people involved in the motor vehicle industry. When one talks about 1 ,200 people losing their jobs one has also to look at the multiplying effect of that and what it means to the local community. For example, the local high school will lose perhaps 100 pupils. That will affect the future of that school. Small businesses in the area will expire if there are no customers. That enterprise was paying in wages some $1 2m a year. The displaced workers will now seek from the taxpayers $1.5m by way of unemployment benefit.
When looking at the history of foreign ownership and control it is important to note that 96 per cent of the Australian automative industry is foreign owned and controlled. In looking at the situation highlighted by the Pagewood disaster we should ask ourselves: How did it happen? Can we trust the submission of General Motors-Holden’s as to what it sees for the future? I submit not. When that company appeared before an Industries Assistance Commission inquiry in March of this year and was asked whether rationalisation or centralisation would make it more efficient, the answer was that it would not. So we have this dreadful problem just beginning to surface in this country of great unemployment occurring in the manufacturing base.
General Motors has set out to manufacture a world car, basically off-shore, particularly in lower wage countries, and to import the components for assembly here. That will mean more profits for General Motors-Holden’s and less employment for Australia. What will happen to our automotive skills, to our skilled tradesmen, to our engineers, to our steel plants and to all those effective components that are required to make an Australian car? Are they to go by the board? What will it mean for our defence structure if we do not have that expertise? How silly it is that we will not even have the expertise to make a car of our own because General Motors, Ford or the Japanese manufacturers decide that it can be done better overseas. Sure, they can do it better overseas in their own interest but what about the Australian interest, the national interest? What about the fact that an Australian industry should be owned and controlled by Australians who are interested in their own resources, inventiveness and technical skills? lt is a farce to think that we have universities and tertiary education institutions turning out good automotive design engineers and tradesmen who have no job opportunities.
One might ask where is the evidence for what I am saying. One can look at it in two areas. Firstly, the Government has no policy for the future of the automotive industry in Australia and, secondly, it is incompetent and inefficient because it fails to grapple with this area. The people who have been retrenched have not been dealt with fairly; they were not given adequate notice. There is legislation in a number of countries to force companies to give employees 12 months notice if they are to be sacked in a situation like this. Negotiations are entered into on the basis of their future, equity, entitlement, redundancy pay and retraining schemes and what will happen to their families. That is all part of the negotiation. There is appropriate legislation in Sweden, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and West Germany - anywhere one likes to nominate - which can take effect in this situation, but we do not have it here. Unfortunatly, it is not in the awards either. If a government has no policy for the future of the automotive industry in Australia, it is important that it has an industrial policy for the workers comparable to those overseas.
I decided to do a survey of the employees in my electorate who were involved in the Pagewood plant. About a quarter of those who worked at the plant are in my electorate. They shall remain anonymous. Sixty per cent of those workers had been at the plant for over 10 years; 40 per cent of them had been there for more than 20 years. Seventy per cent of them felt that they had been unfairly treated; 75 per cent of them have not been offered another job; 85 per cent of them feel that their chances of finding another job are bad; 90 per cent of them are unhappy with the retrenchment payments offered by General MotorsHolden’s; two-thirds of them support a family, which raises the question of the welfare of their children, and 30 per cent of them believe that they will not be able to remain in their present accommodation. One third of those who have children believe that their children will not be able to remain in the school they presently attend. Twentythree per cent of the respondents have spouses who also work and none of them think that their spouses will be able to get a similar job if they move interstate. Two-thirds of them are workers of non-English ethnic backgrounds. Thirty-one per cent of them believe that they will be unable to meet their mortgage payments, 38 per cent of them believe that they will be unable to meet their hire purchase payments, and 24 per cent of them believe that they will be unable to cope with the cost of school fees and 36 per cent of them believe that they will be unable to meet their food and clothing commitments. That is a disaster from a social point of view and highlights the failures of a government.
– You must be talking about the New South Wales Government.
– It is a Federal responsibility. It is amazing that the Minister for Home Affairs, who hated the young Australians going to Moscow, should walk in and say that we ought to be talking about the New South Wales Government. This Government is responsible for the matter.
– I take a point of order.
– The Minister is very sensitive today.
– I am not sensitive today. The point of order is that the honourable gentleman is casting aspersions on my attitude to people going to Moscow and he knows that that is quite untrue.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Millar)Order! There is no point of order.
-I suggest that the Minister look at the gallup poll to see how much the Government slipped in July. That will show whether it is untrue. The Government’s popularity dropped 6 percent.
– You stick to the facts.
-I am sticking to the facts. It has nothing to do with the New South Wales Government. At least its representatives went to the plant. Not one Minister of this Government went there. The Government has acted as an agent for General Motors-Holden’s in destroying these people. I am providing evidence of what the employees think of the Government.
– They knew about it weeks ahead and they did nothing.
– They did nothing of the sort. The Minister who is now putting up a defence is the member of a government which has a Minister who knew about this 12 months ago when he was in Detroit. The argument put forward by the employees is that the Government should have made an effort to protect those employed by the automotive industry from such actions by General Motors-Holden’s. That is their claim. A worker has stated:
If the automotive industry is to survive in Australia it will need a lot of future planning and changes, not afterthoughts. Employment prospects in this industry are nil.
The person who stated that had worked at the plant for 16 years and was married with two children. Another said that he was 51 years of age, that he had worked at the plant for 31 years, that he was told that he was too old for that position and that he could not get another job. He said that he felt he had been treated very poorly. A worker who had worked at the plant for eight years stated:
Today it is GMH, tomorrow it will be the Ford, VW, Renault or other factories. At the pace Australia is going not only the vehicle industry is going to end but many more industries.
Those are the sorts of statements that are being made. Another said that he was due to retire in about six years.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Millar)Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– General Motors-Holden’s Ltd in Adelaide would not share the view of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Lionel Bowen) and Chrysler Australia Ltd in Adelaide certainly would not do so. So much depends on the quality of the article produced, the efficiency of the plant and the dedication of the workers. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition has said nothing that touches on the interests of the consumer. He has tunnel vision.
In September 1979 the Australian Meat and Livestock Corporation took action- properly, within powers provided to it by this Parliament - and in its wisdom did not redesignate Refrigerated Express Lines as a conventional carrier of Australian meat to the East Coast of the United States of America. It does not give me much pleasure to criticise a statutory authority that has been very successful but I think that in this case it is necessary to do so. 1 wish today as I grieve to question the wisdom of the decision by the Corporation, which I believe was ill advised. I believe that of much greater importance is the danger of excluding competition rather than letting market forces apply in any matter, particularly in the freight rates game as that affects this exporting country.
In regard to the first point, it is fair to state that as a concept containers have not proved to be as cost saving as once anticipated. In fact in a document circulated, I believe, on Monday to all members of Parliament and senators, Refrigerated Express Lines states that, as the only remaining conventional shipping line member of the East Coast of the United States conference, it can currently cut shipping costs by at least 1 1.5 per cent and that, in fact, when it was operating prior to this outrageous decision it was cutting costs by nearly as much as that.
REL, of course, cannot prove its point on that until it is redesignated and, in the interests of exporters and beef producers, it should be. Let me demonstrate that point.
On Wednesday of this week, the Australian Financial Review published an article headed Atlanttrafik losing on Wyndham run’. I should point out that these ports were upgraded quite recently to include container facilities and Atlanttrafik was given the right by AMLC to conduct that trade. In years gone by REL conducted this trade by conventional means with a subsidy of approximately $25 a ton to do so. When the port was containerised, the container firm I have mentioned applied for and was awarded a subsidy of $90 a tonne to conduct that trade by containerised means. The Australian Financial Review article to which I have referred says that that firm is now finding that trade uneconomic and that it has made the statement that a subsidy of $147 a tonne is necessary to break even - and, I imagine, a lot more to be profitable.
Who pays this subsidy? lt is paid by the other companies which make up that conference and so comes from their own operating charges. In other words, the freight charges around Australia have to bear the finance for that subsidy. If this does not occur it will be taken from the price for cattle paid to Australian producers, or both. At the break even point of $147, on my estimation the subsidy could be in excess of $ 1 ,300,000. In other words, if 320,000 tonnes are exported to the United States of America and 85 per cent of that trade goes to the eastern seaboard, the increase in freight around Australia would be $4.80 a tonne. The producer of beef would surely have to bear this increase as a downward pressure on prices so offered.
Many small ports in Australia have already lost the services of this conventional shipping line and shippers’ councils throughout Australia are angered by the AMLC decision. On the back of the document circularised to all honourable members of this House there is a series of letters supporting REL and commenting unfavourably on the AMLC decision. Honourable members will note on page 1 1 of that document that it is stated that in the past five years European freight prices have risen by 74.84 per cent or, in round terms, by 75 per cent. On the east coast to America run prices have risen during that period by 37.6 per cent. It does not take a genius to realise that the difference so demonstrated was due to the presence of REL as a shipping line of Australian meat on that USA conference line to the eastern seaboard. In fact, if honourable members analyse the figures on the submission sent to them they will find that the European trade was at a lower freight rate than the American rate five years ago and is now higher. I think it will be obvious to this House that the great difference in those freight levels is due to the presence of REL on the east coast USA trade and to the fact that it is fighting back very hard to try to get redesignated onto that route. I believe that is holding the current level of freight prices on that particular run. One could argue, and I have heard it argued, that now that the container concept has come into being, there is a better distribution of meat from the ports of Broome and Wyndham to elsewhere in the world because containers can be shipped to, say, Singapore, be recontainerised and so redesignated. That may have been the case up to a week ago, although my information from shippers in that area does not substantiate that, but it will certainly not be so in the future given the extra subsidy that that particular container firm will now have to demand to remain economic. So where are we? We are left with container firms servicing this country which was meant to contain costs, but they are having to increase their freight rates thereby affecting producers and shippers of this nation. It is time that those in authority in the AMLC realised that market forces should be allowed to apply and that the levels of freight rates, under free competition, apply to the benefit of Australian industry, in particular the beef industry. 1 conclude my remarks by just adding that frankly, I think it is an absurd situation that has arisen. The AMLC has taken action properly using powers vested in it by this Parliament. But the argument goes much further. The argument quite clearly is whether this country can afford to do without firms that transport our goods economically. If anybody, whether it be the AMLC or anybody else, takes such action, then I believe we will destroy, perhaps not this year or next year but at some stage, the very negotiating point that is so badly needed by an island continent. I hope the AMLC can be prevailed upon to remove its objection and to redesignate REL on that trade route.
– I want to pursue some of the remarks made by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Lionel Bowen) when he pointed out the human plight and tragedy of workers dismissed at the Pagewood motor vehicle plant. The point I want to make and which I think has been ignored is that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition was pointing out in simple human terms that the decision to close the Pagewood plant was not a decision which was necessarily supported by this Parliament or by this Government and certainly was not a decision supported by the Government or the Parliament of New South Wales. It was a decision made by General Motors-Holden’s Ltd. It was a decision made in a board room in Detroit. It was a decision which can substantially affect the lives of thousands of decent Australian citizens. It is that aspect which I think ought to be of real concern to this Parliament.
The reality is that the future of our motor car industry in Australia will not be determined by this Parliament or by this Liberal Government or by a Labor Government, and it will not be determined by a State Government. It will be determined in board rooms overseas by large multinational corporations which in fact control the effective future of the motor car industry in Australia. That is not only true of the motor car industry but also of very significant sectors of the Australian economy. It is that aspect of the matter that I want to develop.
In this Parliament, the Treasurer (Mr Howard) and the Government continually postulate a doctrine of economic recovery by asserting support for the freedom of the market place on the one hand, with cutbacks in the public sector on the other. When talking of freedom of the market place, Government propositions vary between traditional Keynesian and Friedmanite concepts, neither of which in fact apply in Australia today. If one looks at the Australian economy and at those who make effective economic decisions within the framework of that economy it is obvious that Australia has now become quite clearly a client state of large transnational corporations. The development of those corporations over the last 25 years has profoundly affected the whole basis of most Western capitalist-based economies. Many of these large global corporations have more economic power than the nation states within which they operate. Some 400 transnational corporations control half the agricultural products of Western trade. About half of America’s imports and exports, 30 per cent of British exports and one-third of Australia’s imports and exports are effectively controlled in this way. Canada is the country most penetrated by these large corporations. Australia is now second on the list. About 40 per cent of basic economic resources in Australia are now foreign controlled. In some sections of the economy the figure is as high as 100 per cent. Every Australian is affected by the price of petrol. My own State at the moment has the largest discoverable reserves. They are in Bass Strait. Does anybody seriously believe that the rate at which those oil fields will be developed, and the way in which those oil supplies will be made to meet the needs of Australian motorists, will be decided by this Government or, indeed, by the Hamer Government? Of course not. The reality is that the decisions on the use of oil resources will be determined in New Jersey by the Esso company.
– What about BHP?
– Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd has a very minute say in that.
– I will be happy to discuss that aspect with the honourable gentleman. The history of Esso-BHP shows that when natural gas was discovered in Victoria the company tried to sell it to the Victorian Government at a price exactly double the price it ultimately received and the Government of Victoria paid.The first duty of any global corporation, and indeed of BHP, is to maximise profits. In terms of the way in which global corporations work, the Pagewood situation is only the beginning. General Motors-Holden’s Ltd is concerned with the question of its own profitability, not merely in Australia, but in a global sense. That is the point I wish to make.
It is extraordinary that this Government at present is so locked into its own economic rhetoric that the Bureau of Statistics was directed to terminate in 1976-77 the collection and publication of statistical material relating to the extent of transnational intervention in our economy. This occurred despite the fact that the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development found it necessary to establish guide lines, for transitional corporations. The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development has been continually, for some years, monitoring transnational operations in Third World countries. In 1973 in the United States- the home of private enterprise - the Senate found it imperative to conduct a very wide ranging inquiry into the effect of its own transnational corporations on its own labour force and its own economy. Evidence was given to the Congress by George Meany on behalf of the American trade unions which pointed out that American multinational corporations had exported over 900,000 jobs which previously had been performed in America by American workers to the low wage countries of Asia such as South Korea, Taiwan and Indonesia. I suppose something is to be said about the naivety of all of us when American multinational companies can deskill their own work force and ship manufacturing skills out of the United States. This has occurred in the United States with the television manufacturing industry and other sectors of the manufacturing industry.
The very nature of a global corporation operation is to look at situations globally. If a worker can be employed for 14c an hour in Taiwan or South Korea why pay wage rates such as those received in the United States and Australia? That is the pattern. If that is the evidence given to an American congressional committee, why should we expect these corporations to act any differently when dealing with Australian workers within the Australian economy.
The reason that the American Senate, the United Nations and the OECD are monitoring these activities, conducting inquiries and endeavouring to establish codes of conduct is that they understand that when any nation state allows a large segment of its economy to be dominated by transnational corporations the consequences for that state are that its government loses many economic options available to it to make economic determinations and judgments relevant to the way its own community ought to be developed and in the way in which it perceives its own economic interests.
– Just like Poland.
– I am worried about Australia. I suggest that the honourable member for Holt would be well advised to worry about what is occurring in Australian society rather than what is occurring in Poland. His first duty is to the electors who put him here. The foreign penetration of Australia has become a matter of increasing concern. I seek leave to incorporate in Hansard a document containing details of that foreign penetration. I have already shown it to the
Minister for Education (Mr Fife) who has approved of its incorporation.
The document read as follows -
FOREIGN PENETRATION OF THE AUSTRALIAN ECONOMY
Over the period 1971-72 to 1974-75 foreign ownership of the mining industry increased from 49 per cent to 52 per cent and foreign control from 54 per cent to 60 per cent.
Over the period 1966-67 to 1972-73 foreign ownership of manufacturing industry increased from 25 per cent to 31 per cent and foreign control from 29 per cent to 34 per cent. Of the 200 largest enterprises 87, amounting to 45 per cent of production, were classified as foreign-controlled. Particular industries may have a much higher figure for both ownership and control. The figure for foreign control in the pharmaceutical industry is 78 per cent, in cosmetics 91 per cent, in nonferrous metals 79 per cent, and in automobiles 99.8 per cent.
On 1973 figures foreign ownership of finance companies was 48 per cent and foreign control 42 per cent.
On 1973 figures foreign ownership of life insurance companies was 37 per cent and foreign control 1 9 per cent.
The next table gives some idea of the size of specific subsidiaries of transnational corporations operating in Australia and the close proprietorial hold kept over them by their foreign parents.
The third set of figures suggests the concentration of economic power in Australia:1
Manufacturing Industry: 200 corporations produce 31 per cent of goods and 30,000 small and medium sized companies produce the remainder.
Mining Industry: 79 concerns account for 72 per cent of turnover and over 1 ,300 for the remaining 28 per cent.
Retail Sales: 6 firms are responsible for 22 per cent of sales out of approximately 1 27, 000 establishments.
Life Insurance: 4 corporations possess 81 per cent of the industry’s total assets.
Finance: 1 3 finance companies account for 80 per cent of all advances.
Banking: 7 banks are responsible for 87 per cent of all loans.
Media: 3 groups effectively control 94 per cent of all metropolitan daily newspapers and 4 groups 47 per cent of all metropolitan television stations.
The Operation of the Regulatory System
The table below indicates the consideration of foreign takeovers from the period 1 976 to 1 979. (Source: Foreign Investment Review Board Reports, 1977 to 1979, as quoted in ‘Labor and the Transnational Economy: Strategies for Control’, by Michael Sexton, Law School, University of New South Wales):
These figures do not take account of proposals that were notified but found not to fall under the FTA, or proposals notified but later withdrawn.
Out of the 1976-79 total the following figures are significant: almost 40 per cent involved the transfer of equity and/or control from one foreign interest to another 30 per cent involved some loss of Australian control.
Over the period 1976 to 1979 there was also consideration of projects entailing the establishment of a new business by foreign investors in Australia and the following table details that consideration:
These figures do not take account of proposals notified but later withdrawn.
The majority of this proposed investment was in either the minerals or the manufacturing sector. Thus in 1978-79 almost 90 per cent of the new investment was expected to be in these two sectors. Japanese and United States investors predominated with 27 per cent each in 1978-79. Ninety per cent of all Japanese investment was directed into new businesses as opposed to 42 per cent of United States investment and only 1 5 per cent of United Kingdom investment.
– I make the point that unless the Government and the Parliament examines this question with the same approach as has been shown by the United States Congress, by the OECD countries and by the United Nations this Government and any future government will lose its capacity to make major economic decisions which will affect the welfare of the Australian people. I do not believe that many people in Australia want to be placed in a position where their economic future will be determined overseas by multinational corporations whose only concern with Australia is to maximise profits.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Millar)Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– The reaction of governments and countries throughout the world to the energy crisis has been varied. Generally, they have developed policies with four essential parts and current indications are that they are proving to be effective. The four main aims of any energy policy must be to conserve existing petroleum resources, to stimulate industrial and domestic consumers to switch to other fuels such as coal, gas or electricity, to encourage oil exploration and development and to stimulate the production of synthetic and substitute fuels.
The initiation of such policies, of course, requires a deep sense of commitment and responsibility. Because central and imperative to these goals is fuel pricing the full force of market prices will operate to produce the necessary structural and conservation changes. This has taken a large measure of political courage particularly in a country like Australia where the availability of liquid fuels is basic to normal social and commercial activities. Our Government has shown that courage.
It is recognised that while price is a significant factor supply also is a critical element to a nation that relies so heavily on competing successfully on world export markets. We know that without further discoveries our own production and our own present position of 68 per cent selfsufficiency will fall away rapidly. It has been estimated that by 1 985 this will be only some 50 per cent to 55 per cent; that by 1990 it will be 40 per cent; and that by the year 2000 only 10 to 20 per cent of our needs could be supplied from indigenous fuel. Therefore, we cannot allow ourselves to become dependent on increased imports to make up the difference. There can be no guarantee in a destablising Middle East that additional or existing quantities of oil will be available. Even if oil were available it would be at excessive spot prices well in excess of present import parity prices.
The major difficulty with relying on imported crude would be the disastrous and prohibitive drain on our export earnings. Today, the annual cost of oil is close to $ 1,500m. On a 25 per cent self-sufficiency rate we would need almost $9,000m to supply our oil. This would create an impossible burden on our balance of payments. Therefore, it is satisfying, despite the admitted cost to our inflation rate, that our policies are working.
With the lead times involved in exploration and the production of substitutes it is, of course, imperative that the policies work. The sad situation in Australia today is that the Australian Labor Party has opted to forsake the long term wellbeing of Australians in the energy area. I believe that this has been simply an effort to achieve short term political advantage. Throughout most of the Western and industrialised world there has been a bipartisan approach to the real energy crisis of the 1980s.
The ALP therefore stands condemned, not just for this, but also for compounding its irresponsibility and abandoning all semblance of a realistic energy policy. What has the Labor Party said it would do? It has said it would price old indigenous oil at the prevailing price and adjust the price every six months, either in line with consumer price index or import parity price increases. It would subject all oil to a resources rent tax, probably of 75 per cent, which would yield more than the existing oil levy. It would socialise the industry by establishing an Australian hydrocarbon corporation. This would be a government body with powers to explore, develop, refine and market petroleum products.
This socialist program, of course, would be financed from taxation. These policies will be radically opposed to the basic goals of any energy policy which is to conserve, explore and encourage alternative and synthetic fuels. Labor’s policies would be a serious disincentive in ensuring that Australians are guaranteed adequate energy supplies in the future. Labor’s policies would mean dearer and scarcer petroleum products. It would place us infinitely under the influence of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries and would see the cessation of major exploration and development projects under way.
The debate and discussion of our attempts to ensure a long term availability of energy must therefore be carried on in an atmosphere free of emotion, recognising that changes and adjustments to the Government’s policy may be and perhaps should be made from time to time. Presently an additional goal needs to be included in our energy program. This is to ensure that the discrimination that country consumers face in paying higher fuel costs is removed. This morning I checked with some of the service stations in Victoria. I found that in Victoria, petrol prices range from a little over 29c a litre for super fuel to 31c, 32c, 36c, 38.5c and to as high as 39.9c a litre. I believe therefore, that all governments- State and Federal - and oil companies have a role to play to correct this unfair situation.
The Government has implemented the fuel freight subsidy equalisation scheme at a cost of $123m. It is aimed at ensuring that the freight component is no more than 0.44c a litre greater for country centres than it is for metropolitan areas. But this major initiative is not appearing to be effective because of other factors, particularly inefficiencies in distribution and other costs. Oil companies have a responsibility to distribute fuel in specific regionalised areas, instead of competing in the smaller and costly country and remote districts. Economies of distribution to the rural communities can surely be devised by arrangements that are already functioning in other commercial activities.
Of course, there are additional costs involved in servicing rural communities. Depots are required in country regions, whereas in the metropolitan areas deliveries can be made direct from the refinery to retail outlets. Throughput is also a significant factor. Many large outlets retail up to one million litres of petrol a month and can operate on a lc to He a litre margin. Some remote retailers sell only 1,500 litres of fuel a month and obviously require much higher margins to service their clients. Dealers also have different views on the importance of petrol sales to their businesses. Many, of course, rely on workshop income and the retailing of petroleum products is secondary.
The Federal Government also has recently announced its intention to legislate for marketing reforms aimed at bringing stability to Australia’s retail petroleum industry. The new policies will provide a sound and secure basis for fairer competition and security for small businesses. We plan to introduce legislation to protect lessee and licensee dealers. Dealers will have a nine-year security of tenure with a three year basic term and two rights of renewal. They will be subject to termination and non-renewal clauses - for example, for a serious breach of contract. We will also be adopting measures to reduce substantially the total number of retail outlets directly owned and operated by the oil companies.
It has been announced that our object is to reduce the number of such petrol retailing outlets owned by oil companies by about 50 per cent. We also intend to legislate to prohibit price discrimination by oil companies in sales to their lessee dealers. The Government has also asked the Prices Justification Tribunal to inquire into whether the maximum wholesale price of petrol now includes a component compensating oil companies for investment in service stations. By doing this we should be able to establish the amount of any such component and also to advise on the implications of removing it from wholesale price calculations.
I grieve today for the situation in which country consumers are being asked to pay more for their fuel simply because they live in a particular geographic location. I think we have to devise policies that are clearly aimed at rationalising and removing some of the complications and discriminations from the present system. An adequate distribution system is equally as important as an adequate crude oil storage and refining capacity. The Commonwealth does not have the power to regulate retail prices or to apply uniform wholesale prices among a range of different oil companies. The States must become involved in and meet some of their constitutional responsibilities. New South Wales has set maximum retail margins but this in itself raises the opportunity for companies to recover lost revenue by raising the price of petroleum products to other unprotected groups of consumers in other States. These, of course, would include rural people - including primary producers and transport operators. Present approaches to remove such discrimination, despite good intentions, are clearly confusing and haphazard. We must have a bipartisan consultation between governments and oppositions. Cooperation between all levels of government is essential.
– Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
Motion (by Mr Ellicott) - by leave - agreed to:
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the consideration of Order of the Day No. 1, Government Business, grievance debate, being continued until I p.m.
– If ever a government deserved to be condemned, it is this Government for its open slather approach to foreign ownership. Unquestionably the world today faces a hydrocarbon crisis and beyond question it is the most critical issue facing all governments. This country is richly endowed with natural resources, particularly those resources which are to play a crucial role in the world’s energy supply. Our vast energy and mineral resources ought to be our strength, our bargaining power. The benefit and the return to our people will hinge on how national governments structure policies in three basic areas, namely, the level of exploration, the degree and rate of exploitation and the economic return. Under this Government’s policies, our resources are being plundered at an alarming rate; the level of foreign ownership is deplorable; the degree of exploitation a scandal and the rate of economic return a pittance.
Why has the Government ceased to collect, to monitor and to collate statistics in relation to foreign ownership in Australia? The answer is quite simple. If the statistics were available they would be a damning indictment of this Government’s bankrupt policies. The Foreign Investment Review Board has shown no ability to distinguish between worthwhile and undesirable foreign investments. What do the figures available for last year reveal? Over the last 12 months the Foreign Investment Review Board considered 1,725 applications or proposals; it rejected twelve. That represents 0.07 per cent and it is an indictment of the Government’s attitude. The huge overseas energy companies are swallowing up alternative energy resources that this country is well endowed with. In the process, the Government is cancelling out this country’s independence to determine what is to be done with its energy resources. We ought to take stock of the fact that Australia and the United States of America, will be the world’s bread basket in the next 10 to 20 years.
Recently an International Energy Agency report in Europe clearly indicated that the world will have to rely ultimately on coal. Australia will have to lift its potential from 45 million tonnes to around 195 million tonnes if the world is to have sufficient energy sources. That accounts for the scenario in this country for increased Australian coal exports and increased penetration by overseas corporations. In effect, overseas corporations are becoming the de facto energy policy makers in this country, as they are in the United States. The biggest oil companies own most of the oil reserves in the United States. They control the natural gas supplies, as they control the oil shale, coal and uranium reserves.I suggest that there is absolutely no excuse for allowing the self-proclaimed energy companies to control the alternative energy resources upon which this country’s future will depend. An effective energy policy can never materialise while energy conglomerates control every alternative energy source.
In June last year I placed on the Notice Paper my first question on Rundle oil shale. I asked:
What steps does the Government intend to take to ensure Australian control of this important deposit is protected.
The answer I received stated simply:
Any proposal for the development of the Rundle deposit will be considered in the context of the Government’s foreign investment policy.
The answer is simple. It went to Exxon in the United States. Why is oil shale so important? Let me put it this way. This country has to look to its alternative synthetic energy resources, that is, oil shale and coal. We can obtain oil from both, but the important factor with oil shale is that we will be short of heavy crude oil. So the concentration and penetration has to be in the alternative sector, which is oil shale. Oil companies know well that this country is going to rely ultimately on its heavy crude oil, and that crude oil can be extracted only from oil shale. That accounts for the oil companies’ penetration into this area.
One needs to look at the track record in the United States on the question of oil shale. It is a national scandal. Let me quote from Harper’s magazine of 1 968. lt states in relation to oil shale:
It pumped in $ 17m of public funds. Following debate in the United States Senate the plant was shut down. Senator Kefauver put it bluntly in an angry speech in the House, when he said:
It is difficult to conceive of a more clear-cut case of oilcompany domination of the policy of the United States government.
Nonetheless, in 1 956 Anvil Points was closed. The Harper’s article points out that the oil companies proceeded to hire most of the government shale engineers. The Government later allowed Anvil Points to be re-opened by a consortium of six large oil companies for, as one oilman put it, some cheap research just in case. While the oil industry’s attempts to dominate shale research in the United States are more than well documented, the article clearly points out that the United States Government, in dubious circumstances, allowed oil companies and land speculators to gain ownership of thousands of acres of rich oil land, and readily acquiesced to the oil industry’s concept of a prudent federal oil shale policy.
Let me conclude by referring to what Senator Hart of the United States Senate had to say. He said that oil shale development in the United States ought to be a means of reducing the monopolistic power of the oil industry, but it has failed to do so. The whole of the oil shale deposits in the United States are owned by overseas corporations, and particularly by Exxon. In the United States and Canada today we find that whether the deposits be coal, oil sands, tar sands or oil shale, they are all owned by overseas corporations. Professor Lance Endersbee, who is the Dean of Monash University’s Faculty of Engineering, raised a couple of very important points in dealing with the question of oil shale in Queensland. One point he made was that the Government had an obligation to ensure that manufacturing industry in Australia was exploited to the full and that overseas corporations, particularly Exxon, ought not to have a monopoly on manufacturing industry in Australia.
I think that this Government and this House have an obligation to study the oil industry before it is too late. Let us consider the last 70 years in the oil industry throughout the world. In the early years there was a struggle between the oil corporations. Today there is a struggle between governments. If one considers the Chinese and Mexican markets, and the Rockefeller Trust when it was first set up, the struggle was not between producers but was to control the marketing, distribution and refining factors. It is ironic that today, now that the large oil corporations have lost the production factor in the Middle East, their struggle in Australia, the United States and Canada is to maintain and control the marketing, distribution and refining sectors of the economy. The tragedy for Australia under this Government can be summed up in a few very simple words: The root problem of the energy policy in this country is that it is made for the wrong reasons by the wrong people. The sooner this country and this Parliament set up a proper parliamentary committee of inquiry the better. Otherwise the nation will never get the return from its resources to which it is entitled.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Hon. J. D. M. Dobie) - Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– I bring before the Parliament this morning the concern of the north Queensland community in particular about the state of roads in that area of the nation. They are roads, of course, for which there is a shared responsibility, a responsibility shared in part by local government, in part by the State Government and in part by the national Government.
The first thing I should bring forward as a matter of concern is the condition of the Bruce Highway in north Queensland. The Bruce Highway forms part of the national highway system and therefore qualifies under the appropriate legislation for 100 per cent Commonwealth funding of approved projects.
The concern of the north is that not only is not enough money being spent on the Bruce Highway but also that what money is being spent is not being spent where it ought to be spent. In other words, there is concern about a tendency to look after the southern part of the State rather than the northern part of the State. In part, the fault for that would lie with the State authorities. After all, it is the State Main Roads Department which plans the projects and proposes those projects to the Commonwealth for funding. Nevertheless, under the legislation the Commonwealth Minister for Transport does have the power to be concerned about where money might be spent, and I hope that he might watch that point a little more closely in the future.
Certainly if one is a north Queenslander nothing makes one angrier than to head south from Cairns or from my city of Townsville, as many people do, and to note from, say, Rockhampton southwards the steady improvement in the state of the roads. Nothing makes us angrier than to wonder why we do not have similar standards of roads in the north. Nothing makes us angrier than to be driving in the wet season and be flooded out by a snap downpour - something we cannot necessarily foresee or plan on - only to find ourselves sitting on the edge of a creek, sometimes for days. A couple of years ago there was a period during the northern wet season when the Bruce Highway was cut by floods for 30 consecutive days or more. As far as movement on the highway is concerned, everything just stopped during that period.
Of course, when it comes to allocating funding and sharing out that funding some regard has to be paid to usage, lt is equally clear that considerable usage is made of the Bruce Highway and the national highways system more towards the southern part of the State than in the north. After all, that is where more of the people live. Nevertheless, it has been a long-established principle that usage is not the only criterion upon which road funding and the allocation of road funding is based. As a starting point, I refer to a statement made in 1972 by the Commonwealth Bureau of Roads, as it then was. That statement reads:
It is concluded that the roads of most concern, which might be called a National Roads system, are the roads which:
encourage and contribute, to a major extent, to trade and commerce, overseas and among the States;
assist industry located in major centres of population to be complementary to industry located in neighbouring major centres;
reduce, significantly, transport costs of the products of rural and/or secondary industry, between points of production and points of export or consumption;
provide for long distance movement associated with recreation and tourism; and which
improve movement between defence production centres, defence supply and storage locations, and defence establishments generally.
My electorate can point to a number of those criteria for which it aptly fits the bill when it comes to the allocation of road funds. In my home city of Townsville in north Queensland there is a major Army barracks. Therefore, such defence needs as might be provided by the national highways system - the Bruce Highway in north Queensland - cannot be overlooked.
It is an area of growing domestic and international tourism, as is evidenced by the decision in the Budget a couple of nights ago. I divert slightly and refer to the final report of the House of Representatives Select Committee on Tourism, where the following point is made very clear:
The Committee concludes that the future of motor tourism in Australia requires a co-ordinated approach to the development of Australia’s road network with due recognition being given to the requirements of tourists to an area, as well as those of the local residents. Particular highways of concern are the Stuart Highway, the Bruce Highway and the Alpine Way.
North Queensland has a growing domestic tourist market. More private cars, caravans and coaches are coming into the area. When roads are in a poor state, as they are there, they are certainly a great disincentive to that growing market. I am sure that the market will increase as we improve the roads.
One of the criteria I referred to earlier of the then Commonwealth Bureau of Roads made reference to assisting industry located in major centres of population. Along the whole of the Queensland coast, which is a remarkably decentralised strip of Australia, there is a string of quite large cities, many of which have their own developing industries and their own transport requirements by virtue of those industries. One can make reference in Townsville to the copper refineries, the nickel refinery and the meatworks. One can make reference to the city of Rockhampton with its rural industries or a town like Bundaberg or Maryborough where there are long established engineering works of national importance. One could go on. Going further north, Cairns is increasingly important in terms of industry, particularly when one bears in mind that North Queensland Engineers and Agents Pty Ltd has a multi-million dollar contract for the construction there of 14 naval patrol boats.
I have mentioned mainly the national highway system partly because that is the one for which the Commonwealth Government accepts 100 per cent responsibility for the funding of projects and partly because in many ways that seems to be the most important thing to do.
In the concluding moment or two I want to make it clear that I certainly do not neglect the other road needs of the north. I certainly do not neglect the arterial and urban roads. I certainly do not neglect the concept that the State Government, which has a responsibility to make a contribution here, is probably not doing anything more than just giving out the bare minimum in order to attract Commonwealth funds on those sorts of roads. There is a responsibility here for the State Government to look at ways of improving what it does. Arterial roads, urban roads, rural arterial roads and so on all have a need for upgrading. They are the lifeline or, if honourable members would prefer, the blood vessels of a vast number of people who have to travel long distances just for reasons of communication. One cannot afford to see that sort of area neglected for too long.
Local government also has a responsibility to bear. In some ways local government has the easy way out. It can complain that the reason why more money is not being spent on roads is the neglect of the State or Commonwealth government. At the same time the local governments have their own financing arrangements. At the moment they get generous financing grants from the Commonwealth Government under the tax sharing arrangements. They also have the capacity to make a really fair contribution towards the development of roads within their cities and shires.
I return to the main thesis, that is, my grievance about the state of the Bruce Highway, particularly in north Queensland. There is great need for the quick upgrading of the road from Marlborough to Sarena so as to end the current flood delays, and there is great need more generally along the north Queensland strip, to build up the road so that it can handle industrial development, tourism and defence requirements, as I have outlined.
– The theme I wish to follow is along the same lines as the themes followed by previous speakers, that is, the grievance of Australian people generally - those who work for salaries and wages - that they have lost control of their destiny. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Lionel Bowen), the honourable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr Holding) and other honourable members have brought to light the way in which corporations not based in Australia and going under the general title of multinational or transnational corporations are able to take decisions in board rooms thousands of miles from Australia that affect the livelihood and lifestyle of people who rely on those corporations for employment in Australia. lt seems to me that conservative governments in general, and this Government in particular, ought to be condemned for allowing such a situation to arise.
The cry from the conservatives, who believe strongly in a free enterprise system, is that we must have overseas capital to develop our resources. To some extent there is some truth and wisdom in that belief. But they do not go as far as a Labor government has gone in the past and would go in the future and which even the Government of the United States of America is comtemplating and impose certain restrictions on capital coming into the country. The conservatives will always argue that if one starts to impose restrictions on it one will frighten off those who wish to invest. History does not show that at all; in fact, it shows quite the reverse. The conservatives would know, as believers in a free enterprise system, that the incentive to do these things lies in the rewards, not in the conditions of entry. To give an example of the power of these people, which is a matter of public record, the International Harvester company, which is the only manufacturer of motor trucks in Australia and which, incidentally, is based in Dandenong in the Federal division of Holt, said quite clearly to a committee that unless it received extra government assistance for its operations it would have to reduce its work force in Australia. That is a clear threat in anybody’s language. The Government capitulated to that threat. It can be argued that if that was not done people would be thrown out of work. But if a decision is taken somewhere else to close a factory, irrespective of the level of assistance people will be thrown out of work. It must be a matter of concern to those who look at the contenders for the high office of President of the country with the strongest economy in the world - that is, the United States of America - that power lies not in the White House but in the board rooms of the transnational and multinational corporations.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Sitting suspended from 1 to 2.15 p.m.
– I move:
I move this suspension-
Motion (by Mr Sinclair) proposed:
That the honourable member be not further heard.
– This is an outrage.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Millar)Order! The honourable member for Cunningham will resume his seat.
– Let it be clearly heard that this Government is not interested in the Aboriginals at Noonkanbah.
-Order! The honourable member for Cunningham will resume his seat.
That the honourable member be not further heard.
The House divided. (Mr Deputy Speaker- Mr P. C. Millar)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
-Yes, Mr Deputy Speaker. I find it unbelievable that this Government is using-
Motion (by Mr Sinclair) put:
That the honourable member be not further heard.
The House divided. (Mr Deputy Speaker Mr P. C. Millar)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Original question put:
That the motion (Mr West’s) be agreed to.
The House divided. (Mr Deputy Speaker- Mr P. C. Millar)
Question so resolved in the negative.
- Mr Speaker has received a letter from the honourable member for Lilley (Mr Kevin Cairns) proposing that a definite matter of public importance be submitted to the House for discussion, namely:
The tragedy for Australia in the event of the formation of the proposed Australian Hydrocarbon Corporation.
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 -
– I take a point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker. It is my understanding that Mr Speaker received two letters. It is usual to refer to that fact.
– The Chair is not presently in possession of that knowledge. The remarks of the honourable member for Corio are noted. The matter of public importance selected by Mr Speaker is consistent with that which the Chair read to the House.
– Election times are often occasions when frauds are attempted to be perpetrated. They are also occasions when those frauds deserve to be exposed. The proposal for an Australian hydrocarbon corporation is a fraud, and it needs to be exposed. The alternative energy policy for this country has as its centre and linchpin a proposal for an Australian hydrocarbon corporation. It is proposed that it be developed using four overseas models - the corporations in Great Britain, Norway and Canada, and the AGIP in Italy. I wish to read two quotations from the last Federal Conference of the Australian Labor Party to indicate the Labor Party’s attitude. I am delighted that the honourable member for Cunningham (Mr West) is present because page 333 of the transcript of 1 8 July 1979 records the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Lionel Bowen) as saying:
I have just come back from Norway and I know Stewart West was there and not one of us would disagree with Statoil, not one of us-
The honourable member was referring to the Norwegian hydrocarbon corporation. The honourable member for Blaxland (Mr Keating), for whom I have very great respect, said this at the Conference:
That is, the proposed Australian hydrocarbon corporation - is similar to the British National Oil Corporation, the Norwegian Statoil Corporation, Petro-Canada or AGIP in Italy.
To substantiate those promises, or threats, the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Hayden) has said over and over again that the first plank in the Labor Party’s oil policy is the setting up of the Australian hydrocarbon corporation as a principal explorer for oil in Australia and the off-shore areas. Unfortunately this is a fraud, and it deserves to be exposed.
Each of the models which has been cited disputes the very aim that the Labor Party says the corporation is to accomplish. Let me give an example. There is one vital difference between the British National Oil Corporation and the proposed Australian hydrocarbon corporation. The British set up their Corporation in 1975, but they had already discovered and proven the North Sea province. They already had in place about 20,000 million barrels of oil. Australia has 2,000 million barrels of oil. When the Norwegians set up the Norwegian Statoil Corporation they knew that the North Sea was a bonanza for them. They now have 50 to 100 years supply of oil, and are producing several times the amount of oil that is being produced in Australia. They are cutting back production according to their economic requirements and not according to the oil that is available. The Norwegians set up the Statoil Corporation only after oil had been discovered and proven. The Canadians did the same thing. They set up their corporation in the middle 1 970s. They have produced oil for themselves and, in the first oil crisis, for the world. The oil province was proven. The Canadians have 10 barrels in place for every one in Australia. One point has to be understood: State oil corporations are not discoverers of oil provinces.
– Who says so?
– I ask the honourable member to listen to the data. Of the 50,000 billion to 60,000 billion barrels of oil in place in those countries, the corporations have been responsible for finding less than 2 per cent. I say to the House and to the country that if a state oil corporation using these models is to be set up, at least we should use some of the sense shown by them and not be foolish. It is similar to a boxer going into a ring and saying: ‘I do not know what my opponent is like. I will throw all my tough punches in the first round and then take it easy’. That shows the stupidity of the proposition for a state oil corporation for Australia, which is one of the world’s great oil-deficient countries. Less than 2 per cent of oil has been discovered by those means.
The Opposition should think again. It should think about the timing of its proposal. The models it has chosen disprove the proposition it has brought forward. Even if the Labor Party is against private enterprise- this is the .other stupidity - why manifest that opposition before private enterprise discovers the oil? The Norwegians, the Canadians and the British have not done so. They have far more intelligence. I wish to refer to something Mr Harold Norvik, the Under Secretary for Minerals and Energy in Norway, said about spending public money on oil exploration. He said to me:
We do not take risks with public money. Private money is best for risks.
In other words, there is nothing riskier than oil exploration. The Norwegians give us the example. I quote again the words used by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition with the honourable member for Cunningham at his side: ‘We find nothing wrong with Statoil’. But there is another aspect which needs to be explored. It is a fair question to ask: If you are going to set up a corporation, how much will it cost? How much of taxpayers’ money will be involved? How much are you going to spend? On the three examples given- I leave out the Italian example because Labor has much more to answer for in copying that example than the three I have cited - and on conservative estimates, taking into account exchange rates and rates of inflation, to set up such a corporation this country would have to put aside between 800 million and 1,400 million to 1,500 million 1980 Australian dollars. That is quite true. In 1975, the British allocated £600m sterling but not all of that money has been used. They got away with it easily in one sense because the Burmah Oil Co. effectively went into liquidation. It was saved by the Bank of England and after being saved, it was offered to the British National Oil Corporation. Even so, the British still had to spend - the money was not to be repaid - the equivalent of 800 million to 900 million 1980 Australian dollars. The Norwegians are another example. The Norwegians make it quite clear that their corporation was not set up to search for or to discover oil.
– What was it set up for?
– Just let me continue. They make it quite clear that they will come in once a field is proven to commerciality; once the field is proved to be there; once it is known to contain oil and once the oil is able to be brought up. That is when the Norwegians come in and that has been their policy until this year. This year they gave themselves the best field in the area. It was a certainty. They have Esso to manage the field. But Labor’s policy is at the very least out of date. In terms of economics it is foolishness and in terms of Australia’s interests, it is a downright fraud.
Canada’s policy is quite different. Canada is substantially an oil sufficient country. I give an example. Canada says that even in oil sands alone it has up to nearly one million million barrels of oil - not an American billion; I am talking about a British billion. Even in one little province of
Canada, in Alberta, there is three or four times as much oil as there is in Australia, and that is leaving 60 per cent in the ground in order to be recovered by other means. By what extent of imagination, therefore, do people in Australia say: We are going to use those countries as our models’? On what basis could we use those countries as our models? I ask honourable members to examine the accounts. Even the Canadians, in terms of their subventions by various share issues on which equity does not have to be paid and which do not attract dividends and so on, have subvented from public funds up to $Can 1,000m. A lot of that money was allocated four or five years ago. In terms of inflation rates one is talking about the equivalent of $Can 1,300m in today’s money. I ask the Opposition to come square, to come clean and to indicate whether it is going to adopt the oil discovery policies of the models it has cited. It must also adopt the financing policies of the models it has cited. When I say that these are the costs of those corporations, I put aside the proposition that those corporations have obtained big loans from overseas banks, chartered banks and so on, sometimes at concessional interest rates. So when I make the charge - it is quite a specific charge - that we are dealing with $A900m to $ A 1,400m, I am not inflating the values. If anything I am being quite conservative as to the values. I say that the Australian people need to be told what is involved in this business. Election time may be a time for frauds but we intend to make this election time an occasion to expose a fraud.
I turn now to pricing policies. These are fascinating. The pricing policies of these state corporations give the Opposition no solace whatsoever. The pricing policy of the British National Oil Corporation is to take what it can get out of the market. lt is not a price leader. Its prices are dictated by effective world prices - often Nigerian prices - but nonetheless world prices. We know that at the heart of the pricing argument is this proposition that the oil from old wells can be made available more cheaply than the oil from new wells. That is about as sensible a proposition as saying that it would be just as logical to charge cheaper rates for water from an old dam than from a new dam. It is totally stupid. But even the left wing Ministers for energy in the British Labour Government did not accede to that policy. They did not accede to a different price for old oil as opposed to new oil. I am referring here to Anthony Wedgwood Benn. I quote again the general manager of the British National Oil Corporation, Mr Evans, on the pricing policy and the difference between old and new oil. He said:
It’s not really a subject of serious debate here.
What do the Norwegians have to say about it? Let us look at what the Minister for Minerals and Energy in Norway, Mr Bjartmar A. Gjerde had to say in Norway in February of this year, remembering that Norway can bring the oil up to the well head for $3 to $10 a barrel and that these are the models which the honourable member for Cunningham has been quoted as supporting. He said:
After the start-up of petroleum production on our Continental Shelf in 1 97 1 , we have maintained our basic principle of pricing gasoline and other petroleum products at world market levels.
Even the Canadians have a pricing policy which is somewhat below Australia’s, but they are in a distinct position. Canada regards itself as an oilsufficient nation. Its domestic pricing, it says, is similar to that of Mexico and Venezuela and those of Middle East countries. It has no relationship whatever to Australia. Whilst the United States, which is next door to Canada, has an oil pricing policy which is cheaper, the Canadians cannot run in isolation from it. Furthermore, their oil pricing policy is bedevilled by their provincial state relationship which means that most of an increase in price would go to states. Even so, Canada is considering moves which would result in an escalation of price of 25 per cent a year.
As my time is running out, I simply ask the honourable member for Cunningham to answer three questions. He should tell us, in terms of the oil corporation, three things: What is Labor’s discovery policy on the models it has chosen? What is the cost involved in setting up this corporation on the models chosen? What is the pricing policy on the models chosen? On each of those questions the models dispute the very propositions which the Labor Party is putting forward to the Australian people. The Australian people should not be asked to support a fraud. They have the right to ask for the truth. They have the right to ask where this $900m to $ 1,400m is coming from. Above all, I would say that Labor’s policy is hung forever on the models it has chosen.
– I inform the House that we have present in the gallery this afternoon a parliamentary delegation from the People’s Assembly of the Arab Republic of Egypt led by Dr Soufi Abou Taleb the Speaker of the Assembly. On behalf of the House I extend a very warm welcome to the members of the delegation.
– Hear, hear!
– Australia needs a national oil corporation and Labor will fulfil that need by setting up an Australian hydrocarbon corporation. Not only will it set up an Australian hydrocarbon corporation but it will also terminate this present Government’s nonsensical, inflationary petrol parity pricing policy. I want to tell the people of Australia that only a Federal Labor government will implement both of these policies because this present Government has made it perfectly clear that it has no intention of doing so. Both initiatives will complement each other. We could afford to peg the price of Australian oil for at least a year if we set up a national corporation to increase our exploration effort.
I ask honourable members to look at the history of the Government’s petrol and oil pricing policies. In 1977 the Government moved to implement a staged increase to full parity pricing and then, because of greed for more revenue, it moved in 1978 to immediate full parity, with the increase over and above the staged percentages going immediately to the Government. The end result of the Government’s oil pricing policy is that oil from Bass Strait which costs 94c a barrel to produce is being sold to Australian refineries for $27.50. That has caused the price of petrol to go from 71c a gallon in 1975 to $1.60, undiscounted, in August 1980. Why has the Government done this? It says that it has done so in the name of oil exploration. I want to put it on record that there has been no increase in oil exploration; on the contrary.
We need to do four things. Firstly, we need to cease to apply the parity pricing policy; secondly, we need to explore for oil ourselves; thirdly, we need to increase the Federal funds available for research into alternative liquid fuels - I ask the people of Australia to note that the Government allocated a lousy $13m in the Budget for this - and, fourthly, we need to devise a proper and adequate taxation system for the oil industry that will replace the levy system. The purpose of the formation of an Austraiian hydrocarbon corporation is to increase exploration. That increase is badly needed. The Government refuses to spend on exploration any of its revenue of $4,000m from oil and petrol taxes. Not one dollar of this revenue is spent on oil search.
If Australia’s level of energy self-sufficiency is to be maintained, something must be done. The Australian Labor Party would do that with the formation of a hydrocarbon corporation. At present, 60 wells a year are being drilled in Australia, compared with more than 3,000 in Canada and a quarter of a million in the United States of America. This Government has done little to increase the effort. One needs only to look at the record. In the three years of office of the
Labor Government 146 wells were drilled at a cost of $263m at 1 974-75 prices.
– Send for Paul.
– I am telling the honourable member what the record shows. During the first three years of office of this Government only 94 wells were drilled at a cost of $193m at 1974-75 prices. Under the Labor Government 52 more wells were drilled. Last year, only 59 wells were drilled. This is the best figure that the present Government has been able to achieve. It is still less than half the number drilled in 1970. When drilling did decline in the mid-1970s it was as a result of a wrangle over off-shore sovereignty, and it was a wrangle caused by the State Premiers who hold the same views as this Government. One can see the sort of incentive that this Government has given to exploration by looking at what has happened to the oil rigs. Of the four Australian owned medium depth drilling rigs, two have been forced to leave Australia because of a lack of work. The Ocean Endeavour was forced to leave at the beginning of the year and now the same thing has happened to the Ocean Digger. That vessel is 25 per cent owned by the Government through the Australian Industry Development Corporation.
With the exception of the United States, every major oil exporting country and every importing country of consequence has a government owned oil company. In most cases the interest includes activity in refining and includes members of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries, Third World countries and advanced Western communist countries. Those countries include Uraguay, the United Kingdom, Egypt, Malaysia, Sweden, the Philippines, Norway, Italy, Iraq, Turkey, Libya, Costa Rica, Iran, Mexico, Brazil, Indonesia, Venezuela, Tunisia and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. All of those countries have national oil companies, so what is the Government talking about? Australia and the United States are the only countries that do not have their own national oil corporations. Even Maggie Thatcher, the ‘iron maiden’ from the United Kingdom, sees the value of a governmentowned oil company. She came to power on a promise to sell off the British National Oil Corporation, and then backed off. The only thing this Government has relied on to increase exploration is a massive increase in petrol prices.
The increases in prices have nothing to do with exploration but they have a lot to do with increased revenue. The Government has received over $4,000m from that this year - a 39 per cent increase. The Government argues that these higher prices are necessary to encourage exploration. I have just demonstrated that that is not true. The companies exploring for oil in Australia get nothing from this policy. The Hudson Bay, Mount Isa Mines, Shell and BP companies, for example, do not get anything from this policy. So it cannot be encouraging exploration. The price paid for old oil is not relevant; it is the price offered for new oil discoveries that gives the relevant stimulation. A Labor government would give import parity to any new discoveries - any proper, fair-dinkum new discoveries. That is a bipartisan policy. We could have the benefit of cheaper oil from Bass Strait without affecting the level of exploration.
The difference between the Opposition and the Government in regard to new oil is that the Opposition would ensure that Australian consumers received some benefit from this by making it subject to a resource rent tax. I will come back to that later. The only ‘new’ oil to date is from the Fortescue field. However, there is a great deal of argument about whether it was discovered after or before 1975. At current prices the 280 million barrels to be produced from that field are worth about $7.7 billion and under this Government’s policy, by acquiescing to its declaration as new oil, quite incorrectly, the producers will get all of this with the exception of normal company tax. That will give them a windfall profit of $4 billion from Fortescue.
– Did you learn anything when you went overseas that time?
– I got more out of that than the honourable member who interjects. I repeat that instead of having high petrol prices, low exploration levels and no national oil company, we need to suspend national parity pricing, to set up a national oil company, and to increase the revenue going into research into alternative liquid fuels. This Government treats oil and petrol policies purely as revenue raisers. Every petrol bowser in Australia is now a branch of the Taxation Office. We will keep saying that all the way to the election, because the Government knows that it is true. Probably one of the smartest commercial cartoons I have seen in a long time was in the Australian Financial Review of a little while ago. It was put in by a Japanese light car company and it showed a man at a petrol pump with the hose of the bowser slowly wound around him, strangling him. The caption said: ‘Are you, too, being strangled by rising petrol prices?’ I suggest that every low and middle income earner in Australia is being slowly throttled by rising petrol prices, all to raise revenue for this Government.
In 1977-78 the Government’s revenue totalled $469m and in 1980-81 the expected revenue will be $3.1 billion. It will have risen from 2 percent of total government receipts to 9.2 per cent. If one includes the petrol tax, the amount becomes $ 1,336m in 1977-78 and over $4 billion in 1980-81. In 1980-81 petrol taxes will make up 12 per cent of all government revenue. They will be more than double the company tax. For every $1 increase in the price of oil, petrol will go up 4c a gallon and the Government will collect another $135m of revenue. What is more, as the true OPEC price is now $32 a barrel instead of $27.50 a barrel a $4.50 price increase is in the pipeline in the unlikely event of the Government getting back into power after the election. If the Government sticks with its policy, as it says it will, the price of petrol will go up on 1 January by another 1 8c a gallon. I would like the people of Australia to hear that loud and clear. If this Government gets back into office and sticks with its petrol pricing policy, as it says it will, petrol will go up on 1 January by 18c to 20c a gallon. It has already gone up from 71c a gallon in 1975 to $1.60 a gallon in 1980.
Let us look at fuel oil. From January 1976 its price rose from $72 a ton to $200 a ton today. Industrial diesel oil has gone up from $93 a ton to $300 a ton in that short period. The Government is continually attacking our resources tax and attempting to mislead the Australian public into believing that petrol prices will increase because of a resources tax. That is not true. It will simply replace the Government’s hotchpotch crude oil levies. It will be a tax on producers and not on consumers. Under a Labor government, petrol prices will be lower than under a Fraser government. What Labor wants to see is the revenue from its oil shared equitably between producers and consumers and a resources tax will do this.
Over the last three years, the Government’s import parity pricing policy has returned large windfall revenues to oil producers. Let us look at what they amount to. The revenue to Esso-BHP alone will amount to $800m. As a result of the Government’s policy, $800m will go to Esso-BHP this financial year. That is the area from which the extra revenue will come to the Government under a resources tax. As the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) so readily points out, Labor will collect more from this tax, but petrol prices will still be lower. We will collect more because we will impose the tax on other products as well as oil, including liquefied petroleum gas. I want to make it perfectly clear that if we collect as much tax from a resources tax on the oil industry as this
Government collects from its levies, it will be because we are taxing not the motorist but the windfall profits to Esso-BHP from Bass Strait production which amount to $800m this financial year. I notice that the Minister for Trade and Resources (Mr Anthony) is in the chamber. I want to quote something that he said not so long ago. He said:
The new arrangements . . . will result in very substantial increases in the profits of each of the current producers. For this reason the Government is considering the application of a resources tax on these profits.
That is what the honourable member said. He continued:
Accordingly the Government will be seeking early discussions with the-
– What are you quoting from?
– I am quoting what the Minister said in August 1977. He went on to say:
Accordingly the Government will be seeking early discussions with the relevant oil producing companies in these matters. Any decision on the future of the crude oil levy will be taken in the light of discussions on the resources tax.
The Minister considered a resources tax for a long time. He knew it would be better, but he wanted to stick with the old levy. When it finally came to the crunch between collecting a little more money from the windfall profits of oil companies and allowing them to collect the full profits, the Government went the companies’ way. That is where the money will come from under a Labor government - from a resources tax on the companies, not from the motorists of Australia.
– Order! The honourable member’s time has expired. The discussion is concluded.
Variations to the Plan of Layout
– On behalf of the Joint Committee on the Australian Capital Territory, I bring up the Committee’s report on proposals for variations to the plan of layout of the city of Canberra and its environs, seventieth series, together with extracts of minutes of proceedings.
Ordered that the report be printed.
– by leave- The report on the seventieth series is the first of three report on changes to the city plan which the Committee expects to present during this session of the Parliament. There are four items contained in this series and all but one provoked a public response. The first variation deals with the re-alignment of the extension of Ellenborough Street in Kaleen to the Barton Highway. The proposal before the Committee was for the re-alignment of part of the proposed extension. The Committee has recommended approval of the variation to improve the intersection with the Barton Highway so that extension of Ellenborough Street could in fact proceed. In doing so the Committee has commented on the effects of the increased traffic on certain residential streets which will be generated by the link with the Barton Highway. According to the National Capital Development Commission an estimated 9,500 vehicles will use the Ellenborough Street link each day.
A number of measures were suggested to reduce the adverse effects of the increased traffic, including the closure of one street, Spigl Street, which links Kaleen and Giralang. The Committee has acknowledged the problems that could arise but does not feel that at this time the closure of Spigl Street is justified. This should be subject to reconsideration and assessment after the Ellenborough Street extension has been in use for some time and traffic flows have been established. The Committee has also suggested that residents and others who are likely to be affected by the closure should have an opportunity to express their views on the future of Spigl Street. A further suggestion is that when Ellenborough Street is connected to the Barton Highway, traffic control measures be introduced where necessary to ensure that the resulting traffic flows do not unduly inconvenience residents adjacent to the affected streets.
The other variation which provoked public interest was that for a road to provide access to 45 medium density units to be contructed in Yarralumla. The proposed units will form the first stage of the residential development adjacent to the Old Canberra Brickworks. A number of Yarralumla residents expressed concern about the effect of the increased traffic on the residential streets. The traffic to the proposed residential development would use the same street, Bentham Street, as the visitors to the Royal Canberra Golf Club. The Committee has approved the variation since it will bring new development to one of the older suburbs of Canberra. The Committee has also referred to the proposed construction of stage 1 of the Yarralumla ‘tourist road’ which, if constructed, could be the access road to the Royal Canberra Golf Club, thus diverting the Golf Club traffic from the residential streets. However, there is as yet no firm decision on the construction of this tourist road.
The Committee has also approved a variation relating to the High Court of Australia building. It involves the modification of an existing alignment by adding to the city plan an access road to the High Court carpark as well as adjusting the road reservation to provide a property boundary. The adjustment of the High Court boundary will overcome an encroachment by the High Court building onto the existing road reservation. However, this does raise questions as to leases for such national institutions, and the use of public footpaths. The Committee has sought further advice from the Minister for the Capital Territory (Mr Ellicott) on these matters. The final variation involved the deletion of a lane in Civic to make the site available for possible future commercial development. The Committee also approved this variation.
- Mr Deputy Speaker, I wish to raise with you a matter which I would have preferred to raise with Mr Speaker while he was in the Chair but I think that the time and consequence require that Mr Speaker be asked to take some action in respect of it. This morning we had an incident in the House in which what was purported to be a tape-recording of the radio broadcast of the proceedings of this Parliament, as it is conveyed to Hansard, had been copied. Such a procedure contravenes the Parliamentary Proceedings Broadcasting Act and I understand such tapes cannot be utilised outside or inside this Parliament, either in an official or non-official way. The proceedings are recorded only for the assistance of Hansard in preparing an accurate record of the proceedings of this Parliament. I ask you, Mr Deputy Speaker, to convey to Mr Speaker a request that he prepare and present to this House, as a matter of some urgency, a clear statement on the rights of members of Parliament and the public with regard to the recording, access to privileged recordings and the distribution and copying of such recordings of the proceedings of this Parliament.
– I will certainly do so. I thank the honourable member for Corio for the moderate way in which he introduced the topic. I will relay his views to Mr Speaker.
Bill presented by Mr Anthony, and read a first time.
– I move:
The purpose of this Bill is to amend section 41 of the Atomic Energy Act 1953, which relates to the mining of prescribed substances on behalf of or in association with the Commonwealth; and to amend the Australian Atomic Energy Commission’s borrowing powers under section 30 of the Act. Honourable members will recall that on 18 December 1979 I announced that the Government had decided to divest its interests in the Ranger uranium project and that it wished to accept the offer submitted by Peko-Wallsend to acquire those interests through a new companyEnergy Resources of Australia - ERA. The proposal envisaged that the new company would acquire Peko’s interests in the project as well as the interests of the Government. It was subsequently announced that the Electrolytic Zinc Company had reached agreement with Peko to join ERA. ERA will thus acquire the interests of each of the present joint venturers in the project and the rights to all the production at Ranger. The authority issued under section 41 of the Atomic Energy Act under which the joint venturers carry on operations in the Ranger project area will be assigned to ERA.
The Government will assign its interests in the project to ERA for a premium of $ 1 25m. Furthermore, ERA will reimburse all past expenditure on the project incurred by the Australian Atomic Energy Commission. ERA will meet all future expenditure on the project, including reimbursement of payments to the Northern Land Council and to the Aboriginals Benefit Trust Account, payments to the Ranger Rehabilitation Trust Fund for rehabilitation of the Ranger project area upon the cessation of mining operations, and reimbursement of payments which the Commonwealth has undertaken to make to the Northern Territory Government in lieu of uranium royalties. In reaching its decision last year to sell its interests in Ranger, the Government recognised its obligation to the Australian public to receive a fair commercial price for a valuable public asset. The price obtained by the Government is a good price for the Australian public.
In restructuring the arrangements to provide for ERA to take up the interests of each of the present joint venturers in the Ranger project, the obligations which the Government undertook in its agreement with the Northern Land Council pursuant to section 44 of the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976 will not be affected in any way. The Commonwealth Government negotiated that agreement with the Northern Land Council, not as one of the Ranger joint venturers but as a principal on whose behalf mining is being undertaken in the Ranger project area. The Commonwealth’s position as principal to that agreement with the Northern Land Council will be retained following divestment. Assignment of the authority under section 41 of the Atomic Energy Act to ERA carries with it assignment of the conditions and restrictions set out in Schedule 2 of the authority, which relate to environmental requirements. Environmental requirements relating to the project therefore remain unchanged.
Additionally, as part of the assignment, ERA under its agreements with the Commonwealth will be required to observe the obligations that relate to environmental and Aboriginal matters binding upon the present joint venturers under the existing Government agreement of 9 January 1979. In short, the terms of settlement between ERA and the Commonwealth do not compromise in any way the Government’s responsibilities to the Aboriginal people and to the environment.
The necessary documentation to assign the Government’s interests in the project has been settled. It is my intention to formally sign the documents immediately upon the amendments of the Atomic Energy Act proposed in this Bill coming into effect. This divestment documentation will be tabled in Parliament at that time. Foreign equity participation in ERA is currently under examination by the Foreign Investment Review Board in terms of the Government’s foreign investment policy, the objective of which is 75 per cent Australian equity and Australian control of uranium mining ventures. The companies propose that the Australian public companies, Peko and EZ, will hold approximately 61 per cent of the issued share capital of ERA and a further 14 per cent will be offered to the Australian public. In announcing on 18 December 1979 the Government’s wish to accept Peko’s offer for the Government’s interests in the Ranger uranium project, I said that a maximum of 25 per cent of the equity capital of the new company would be taken up by major overseas companies, which, as a condition of their participation, would bring with them sufficient sales contracts to ensure the immediate viability of the project. I am pleased to be able to inform honourable members that this has been achieved and that the result will be of significant benefit to Australia’s export earnings.
Contracts have been negotiated by ERA pursuant to the Government’s uranium export policy with West German and Japanese equity holders. They provide for the sale of approximately 34,000 short tons of U30s for delivery over the 1 5-year period 1 982 to 1 996. The value of the contracts, at average market prices, prevailing to date during 1980, is in excess of A$2000m and I believe could considerably exceed this figure over the life of the contracts. Contracts with the three German companies, Saarberg-Interplan, Urangesellschaft and RWE, were signed in Canberra on 18 August 1980. The contracts with the Japanese companies, Kyushu, Shikoku and Kansai electric power companies and C. Itoh and Co., have been settled and await formal signing. The contracts provide, as required by the Government and explained in my statement of 1 February 1979, that deliveries are conditional on bilateral safeguards agreements being in force which provide for safeguards to be applied in customer countries and which meet the Government’s 1977 requirements. Negotiations on bilateral nuclear safeguards agreements between Australia and EURATOM, of which the Federal Republic of Germany is a member state, and Australia and Japan are well advanced.
In my statement to Parliament on 25 August 1977, when the Government’s decision to proceed with the development of our uranium resources was announced, I noted that the previous Labor Government recognised the interdependence between Australia and other countries and our responsibilities as a nation rich in energy resources to supply these resources to others. The equity relationship and associated sales contracts represent a milestone in relationships between Australia and two of its most important trading partners, both of whom are heavily dependent on imports of energy resources. The very large tonnages involved demonstrate the importance of nuclear power in electricity generating programs.
As honourable members are aware, ownership of uranium in the Northern Territory was retained by the Commonwealth on the granting of self-government to the Territory. Operations at Ranger are carried out on behalf of the Commonwealth under an authority issued pursuant to section 41 of the Atomic Energy Act. As I have already mentioned it is proposed that the authority will be assigned to ERA upon assignment of the Government’s interests in the project. In the course of finalising some aspects of the commercial documentation, legal counsel, acting for some of the Australian commercial parties involved, queried whether the arrangements envisaged between the Commonwealth and ERA would be on behalf of the Commonwealth within the meaning of section 41 of the Atomic Energy Act and the authority which it is proposed to assign to ERA. Subsequently, representatives of Peko and EZ indicated to the Government the reluctance of some of the commercial parties to finance their involvement in ERA unless there is no doubt that operations to be carried on after assignment are authorised by the authority. In these circumstances, the Government decided to proceed with the amendment to section 41 of the Atomic Energy Act which is contained in clause 5 of the Bill. Then they will not have anything to worry about. The purpose of this amendment is to ensure that the proposed arrangements between the Government and ERA cannot be held to be other than on behalf of the Commonwealth within the meaning of section 41 of the Act and the authority which is proposed to be assigned to ERA.
The amendments relating to the borrowing powers of the Australian Atomic Energy Commission are necessary in order to enable the Commission to raise funds through the issue of bills of exchange and promissory notes in order to continue to finance its contributions to the Ranger uranium project until assignment of the Government’s interests in the project is effected. The necessary amendments to the Act to achieve this objective are contained in clauses 3 and 4 of the proposed Bill. They are similar in character to amendments passed by this Parliament in 1979 and 1980 to widen the borrowing powers of the National Railways Commission and the Australian Shipping Commission. Certain of the State Premiers and the Northern Territory Chief Minister have, on occasions, expressed to the Commonwealth views about the wide range of powers available to the Commonwealth under the Atomic Energy Act. Certain sections of the Act were amended in 1979 to take account of some of these views. Following further consideration of these views the Prime Minister has informed State Premiers and the Northern Territory Chief Minister - I now wish to inform this House - that the Government has decided to undertake a wide ranging review of the Atomic Energy Act and related matters. I hope that pleases the honourable member for Reid.
– It’s time you did something about it.
– Order! The honourable member for Reid will stop interrupting.
– He started it. Why don’t you listen to him?
-It started long before anything the Minister said. I bring the House to order and ask the Deputy Prime Minister to continue with his speech.
– This legislation will bring–
-I warn the honourable member for Reid.
– He becomes Ukrainium active in these matters.
-I advise the Deputy Prime Minister to proceed with his speech.
– The review, which will be undertaken in consultation with the State and Northern Territory governments, will review the functions and purposes of the Atomic Energy Act 19S3 and other Commonwealth legislation relevant to nuclear issues. The review will assess the Act and other relevant Commonwealth legislation as an appropriate legislative basis for the promotion, regulation and control of nuclear activities and the development of an Australian nuclear industry. It will also consider possible alternative legislative frameworks. I seek leave to incorporate the full terms of reference of the review of the Act in Hansard.
The document read as follows -
REVIEW OF THE ATOMIC ENERGY ACT AND RELATED MATTERS TERMS OF REFERENCE
To review the functions and purposes of the Atomic Energy Act 1953 and other Commonwealth legislation relevant to nuclear issues (for example - the Environment Protection (Nuclear Codes) Act 1978, the Environment Protection (Alligator Rivers Region) Act 1978, the Environment Protection (Impact of Proposals) Act 1974, the Customs Act 1901, the Crimes Act 1914, and Regulations thereunder).
To assess the Atomic Energy Act 1 953 and other relevant Commonwealth legislation as an appropriate legislative basis for the promotion, regulation and control of nuclear activities and the development of an Australian nuclear industry, and to consider possible alternative legislative frameworks.
Without limiting the generality of the foregoing, the review will take into account:
international obligations including those under the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty, the Australia/IAEA Nuclear Safeguards Agreement, the IAEA Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material (subject to signature and ratification) and Australia’s bi-lateral safeguards agreements with other countries;
the appropriateness of the present legislative basis for the exercise of Commonwealth responsibilities in relation to the commercial development of an Australian uranium industry and related industries;
the requirements for the regulation, licensing and development of a nuclear industry in Australia;
the implications for national defence and security;
the Government’s decisions on the NERDDC report on the Australian Atomic Energy Commission Research Establishment;
liability and compensation for nuclear damage;
intergovernmental arrangements relating to the transfer of classified technical information; and
implications of the laws of other countries.
To consult as necessary with the States and the Northern Territory on matters relating to the Commonwealth’s responsibilities and obligations which may have implications for them or may require their co-operation, including the possibility of complementary legislation.
To report to Ministers on matters encompassed by the review by 31 December 1980.
The amendments now proposed to the Act in the Bill before this House, relate to existing activities under the Act and flow from the Government’s decision to divest its interests in the Ranger uranium project. These amendments can proceed without in any way affecting the scope of the general review to which I have referred. The involvement of the Government in mining projects is contrary to the political philosophy of this Government. The sale of the Government’s interests in Ranger to ERA- whose major shareholders are the original partners in the project before the Labor Government became involved- is consistent with our philosophy. This divestment is particularly pleasing as it also involves one of the largest export sales ever recorded at one time for a single commodity by an Australian company. It marks the advent of Australia as a major supplier of uranium to the world market. It also represents a very tangible and positive expression of confidence in Australia by two of our major trading partners. I commend the Bill to the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr Uren) adjourned.
Bill presented by Mr Nixon, and read a first time.
– I move:
The purpose of this Bill is to provide the machinery necessary for the collection of the levy imposed by the Barley Research Levy Bill 1980, to set up a barley research trust account for the funding of a research scheme, and to establish both a National Barley Industry Research Council and State committees. This Bill, which should be read as one with the Barley Research Levy Bill 1 980, provides for the Act to become operative on the same date on which the Barley Research Levy Act 1980 comes into operation. It is the Government’s established policy to foster research into the needs of our rural industries. The national barley scheme is a logical extension of those research programs already operating successfully for other industries.
Whilst there are significant quantities of barley produced in all mainland States, the Commonwealth at present contributes annually to barley research in only three States. The Commonwealth has contributed to the barley improvement plan in South Australia and Victoria since 1956 when these two States together produced the bulk of the national barley output. A separate program with financial support provided by the Commonwealth commenced in Western Australia in 1963. Since the Government confirmed its policy on matching grower levies in 1977, there have been requests for additional Commonwealth funds for barley research and an equitable distribution of those funds among the States. There is general agreement among Australian barley producers and all State governments that a need exists for increased research through an Australia-wide scheme. Since 1956 barley production has expanded rapidly in all States, and from 1972 a statutory marketing authority has been operating in every mainland State, exporting a substantial proportion of the production of each of those States. The proposed scheme will afford an equitable basis for the allocation of Commonwealth assistance to barley research and will be consistent with statutory research schemes for other rural industries.
The Bill provides for the establishment of an Australia-wide barley research scheme to which the Commonwealth will contribute. The levy collected on barley produced in a State will be used to finance research programs in that State, and the Commonwealth will contribute funds, not exceeding the total levy collections, for a national research program. There is also provision for contributions from sources other than producer levies. Expenditure of any such funds would be on an unmatched basis. In these respects the barley research scheme will be similar to the wheat research scheme which has operated since 1957. Under the cognate Barley Research Levy Bill, levy is payable when the grower delivers barley to another person. For practical reasons that receiver, under the present Bill, is liable to pay the levy and may deduct the amount from the purchase price or recover in another way from the grower any levy paid on his behalf.
The Bill establishes a barley research trust account into which will be paid the funds raised by way of the levy and the Commonwealth’s contribution. Barley industry research committees, with a producer majority membership, are to be established in each mainland State. It will be a function of each committee to approve expenditure from that State’s share of the account on research to be conducted in the State. In the case of Tasmania, where production of barley is relatively small, the amount of levy collected is expected to be correspondingly small and it is not considered necessary to establish a State research committee. Instead, the Tasmanian Minister for Primary Industry will approve expenditure of funds collected by levy in that State.
A Barley Industry Research Council will be established to make recommendations to the Minister for Primary Industry on a national research program funded by the Commonwealth’s contribution. The Council will consist of 1 0 members, five to represent State departments responsible for agriculture in the mainland barley producing States, two to represent producers, and one each to represent the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, Australian universities and the Department of Primary Industry. The committees and Council will consult with each other to avoid duplication in the financing of research. Purposes for which moneys from the trust account may be expended broadly follow the precedent of other joint Commonwealthindustry schemes, and will be used for scientific, technical or economic research in connection with the barley industry, lt is intended that the research program under the national scheme will begin in the financial year 1981-82, funded by the levy on the coming harvest supplemented by the Commonwealth contribution.
Barley is the most important coarse grain produced in Australia. The gross value of barley production in 1979-80 was estimated at $446m. In that year, barley accounted for three-quarters of the value of Australia’s coarse grain exports. Research undertaken through the new program Australia-wide will help this significant industry to meet the problems and challenges of the future. Those challenges include the development of new varieties, yield improvement, and the combating of pests and diseases. For the first time, the scheme will enable a concerted effort to be made for a national ordering of priorities in barley research. I commend the Bill to honourable members.
Debate (on motion by Mr Uren) adjourned.
Bill presented by Mr Nixon, and read a first time.
– I move:
The purpose of this Bill is to provide for the imposition of a levy on the production of barley in Australia. The moneys raised by the levy will be used to finance a research scheme for the Australian barley industry. Provisions for the research scheme are contained in the related Barley Research Bill 1980. The Act will come into operation on royal assent and will apply to barley produced in Australia and harvested on or after 1 September 1980. This date has been chosen to coincide with the seasonal pattern of production.
The legislation specifies an initial levy of 15c per tonne, with provision for the rate to be varied up to a maximum of 20c per tonne. Any subsequent alterations to the operative rate of levy will be prescribed by regulation. The Bill provides that any action to change the operative rate of levy shall take into consideration any relevant recommendation of the Australian Wheatgrowers Federation, which incorporates within its organisational structure a Barley committee representing Australian barley growers. The levy is imposed on the production of barley, and growers are liable to pay the levy. Levy is not payable, however, unless the grower delivers the barley to another person. For convenience, provision is made in the cognate Barley Research Bill for levy to be collected from the receivers of the barley. It is expected that, given normal seasonal conditions, the levy will raise around $380,000 annually. I commend the Bill to honourable members.
Debate (on motion by Mr Uren) adjourned.
Bill presented by Mr Nixon, and read a first time.
– I move:
Under the Dairy Produce Sales Promotion Act 1958 the Australian Dairy Corporation has been given the charter of promoting the sale of all dairy products, including market milk, cream and fresh milk products, in Australia. Funds for this purpose are derived from a levy on the production of all wholemilk and butterfat imposed under the Dairying Industry Research and Promotion Levy Act 1 972. The purpose of this Bill is to amend the Dairying Industry Research and Promotion Levy Act 1 972 in order to increase the maximum rates of levy which can be applied, for domestic promotion purposes, to wholemilk and butterfat production under sections 7 (B) and 1 1 (B) of the Act. Under the present provisions of the Act the maximum rates of levy which can be applied, for domestic promotional purposes, are 6c per 100 litres of wholemilk and $ 1 .50 per 1 00 kilograms of butterfat. These maximums have also been the operative rates since 1 July 1978.
Falling milk production in Australia has resulted in a decline in the funds collected from the levy in recent years. This reduced level of income is threatening the Australian Dairy Corporation’s ability to continue to finance the rising cost of its established domestic promotion programs, which are aimed at maintaining and improving current levels of consumption of dairy products in Australia, on behalf of the dairy industry. The Australian Dairy Farmers Federation, the major producer body, sought amendment of the Act to provide for increased maximum rates of levy with a view to enabling the Corporation to obtain the necessary level of funds required to mount effective promotion programs. The Bill provides for an increase in the maximum rates of levy which can be applied to 12c per 100 litres of wholemilk and $3 per 100 kilograms of butterfat produced.
It is pleasing to the Government that the dairy industry supports the activities of the Australian Dairy Corporation and is prepared to meet the costs involved in sustaining an effective domestic promotion campaign. I commend the Bill.
Debate (on motion by Mr Uren) adjourned.
Bill presented by Mr Nixon, and read a first time.
– I move:
The purpose of this Bill is to amend the Australian Meat and Live-stock Corporation Act 1977. Honourable members will recall that the Corporation commenced operation on 1 December 1977 and that it replaced the Australian Meat Board. The Government is satisfied that the Corporation has proved to be a very effective body in fostering the interests of the Australian meat and live-stock industries. Experience has shown, however, that the Corporation’s effectiveness can be further enhanced and some of its operations streamlined by certain amendments to its authorising Act. The main amendments proposed to be made to the Act provide for increased membership of the Corporation, the creation of a live-stock exporters consultative group for the Corporation, and the discontinuance of the requirement for the Corporation to convene an annual meat industry conference. In place of the conference the Bill will provide the Corporation with a general authority to disseminate information about its policies and decisions in ways which it considers will best suit the industry’s requirements. I propose to deal with each of these three matters in turn, and then to move on to the other amendments the Bill seeks to make.
The Corporation’s membership will be increased from 9 to 1 1 . There will be an additional member to represent livestock producers; this will increase the number of such members to 5. There will be an additional member to represent meat processors and exporters; this will increase the number of such members to two. These additional members will enable the load currently placed on the 9 Corporation members to be spread more evenly. This will be of advantage to both producer and exporter representatives, but it will be of particular advantage to the meat exporting section of the industry.
This amendment will make it possible for two processors and exporter representatives to divide between them the heavy load of participation in committee work at present being carried by the single representative. The additional producer representative will result in an even better geographic spread of cattle and sheep interests being available to the Corporation. The Bill also proposes the creation of a separate live-stock exporters consultative group to the corporation. The Australian Meat and Live-stock Corporation Act provided for livestock exporter and meat exporter interests both to be represented in a single consultative group. This proved unsatisfactory because of divergent interests of the two classes of exporters. It is now proposed to formalise the arrangements which have been followed in practice whereby livestock exporters have consulted separately with the Corporations.
Clause 1 5 of the Bill seeks to amend the Act to provide for the establishment of two separate consultative groups. One will represent livestock exporters; the other will represent abattoir proprietors, meat exporters and processors. These groups will replace the present single composite group. The decision to replace the Australian Meat Industry Conference with authority for the Corporation to conduct such smaller conferences and meetings as it considers necessary is supported by relevant industry groups. The conference undoubtedly served a useful purpose, but an analysis of its total effectiveness led the Corporation to the conclusion that a number of separate responses, each tailored to meet particular needs, would be more effective.
A number of other amendments are proposed in the Bill. I will refer to some of them very briefly. Clause 4 seeks to amend section 10 of the Act which enables the Corporation to exercise controls over the export of meat and livestock through the issue of licences. These amendments are mainly of a formal nature. They will provide that export licences are issued for a definite rather than an indefinite period, and that regulations may be made concerning licence application procedures. The period for the Corporation’s consideration of an application will be extended from one month to two months because the Corporation does not meet in every month.
Clause 5 amends section 1 1 of the Act which makes licences subject to certain conditions, and enables the Corporation to issue directions to licensees in respect of those conditions. The Bill amends this section to put beyond doubt that the listing in the Act of the kind of directions which may be issued is not exhaustive. One amendment to the examples listed in the section will make it clear that the Corporation may require that its prior approval is obtained before particular export transactions occur. Another amendment provides that the Corporation may seek information on prospective export transactions as well as on transactions that have occurred. Other amendments will remove licensees’ obligations to exercise controls over exports after they have arrived at their destinations overseas.
The Bill will amend section 14 of the Act which relates to shipping contracts. It provides that a licensee entering into a contract for the sea carriage of meat or livestock in contravention of conditions approved under the section by the Minister may have his licence suspended or cancelled. This section as it stands at present voids such a contract. This is considered to be an inappropriate sanction which may affect parties other than the licensee. The references to contracts of insurance presently in section 14 serve no useful purpose and are a potential source of difficulty. The Bill proposes that they be deleted.
Clause 10 of the Bill seeks to amend section 22 of the Act to provide that the term of office of the Chairman of the Corporation be five years rather than three years as at present. I believe such an amendment is necessary because it will enable the Chairman to remain in office for a longer period than other Corporation members to direct and control its complex operations free from the distractions that are invariably associated with appointments which have a shorter duration.
Of more than passing interest, it will be seen that a new section 29a has been included in the Act to revise the existing provision regarding the obligation of a member to declare at Corporation meetings whether he has a pecuniary interest in a matter to be considered at the meeting. The revision accords with the conclusions and recommendations of the Committee of Inquiry on Public Duty and Private Interest. I also point out that the Bill provides that the Minister shall terminate the appointment of a member should he fail to comply with the requirements of the new section 29A.
I believe all these amendments, and others I have not referred to specifically, will improve the Corporation’s administration and enable it further to enhance its already significant record of achievement. World markets for meat, and livestock, are fiercely competitive. The difficulty of seeking out new markets, and consolidating existing markets for Australia’s high quality meat and livestock, increases daily. I believe this Bill will so amend the Act that the Corporation will be strengthened in its endeavours to achieve the best possible results for the Australian meat and livestock industries. At the same time, I am confident that the interests of individual producers and exporters will continue to be protected adequately. I commend the Bill to honourable members.
Debate (on motion by Mr Uren) adjourned.
Bill presented by Mr Viner, and read a first time.
– I move:
In June last year the Government of Western Samoa asked the Australian Government for help in finding a successor to the retiring Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Western Samoa. Our two governments subsequently agreed that Mr Justice St John, a judge of the Federal Court of Australia, would with his concurrence be made available for appointment by Western Samoa as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Western Samoa. Mr Justice St John was sworn into that office for a period of two years on 7 July 1980. The purpose of the present Bill is to give statutory approval to that appointment and to ensure that Mr Justice St John’s service as Chief Justice of Western Samoa counts for the purposes of his rights and entitlements as an Australian judge.
Mr Justice St John is well qualified for this appointment. He has been a Federal judge for over five years, is a Master of Laws and, before being appointed to the Bench, was a Queen’s Counsel with an extensive practice at the New South Wales Bar. Mr Justice St John was actively associated with the Council of Civil Liberties in New South Wales, being a member of the Committee of the Council since 1963 and President of the Council at the time of his appointment to the Bench. In addition to his appointments to the
Federal Court of Australia and the Australian Industrial Court, he is a judge of the Supreme Court of the Australian Capital Territory and of the Supreme Court of Norfolk Island. I am sure that honourable members will welcome the opportunity that Australia has been afforded, through the initiative of the Government of Western Samoa, to assist a Pacific neighbour with which Australia has a close association. This appointment follows in a sense the precedent set by the appointment some years ago of Sir John Nimmo as Chief Justice of Fiji.
The Bill before the House approves, in clause 4, the acceptance by Mr Justice St John of the appointment as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Western Samoa. This provision is included to place it beyond doubt that acceptance of the appointment will not create any inconsistency with his Australian appointments. His entitlements as an Australian judge are to be preserved. The Government of Western Samoa will pay Mr Justice St John’s salary for the period of his appointment and His Honour has agreed to waive any Australian salary which would be payable during that period. Clause 5 of the Bill provides that that waiver does not affect his entitlements under the Judges Pensions Act 1968 and the Judges (Long Leave Payments) Act 1 979. I commend the Bill to the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr Uren) adjourned.
Bill presented by Mr John McLeay, and read a first time.
– I move:
The Bill provides for an increase in the financial limit for the sum payable out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund for the salaries of Ministers of State, pursuant to section 66 of the Constitution. The amendment is consequent on the Government’s decision to accept the recommendations in the 1980 Review by the Remuneration Tribunal. The increases to ministerial salaries represent nothing more than the flow-on of national wage case decisions handed down by the Australian Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. I commend the Bill to the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr Uren) adjourned.
Bill presented by Mr Hunt, and read a first time.
– I move:
Mr Deputy Speaker, the purpose of this Bill is to approve the agreement which has been concluded with South Australia for the construction of a standard gauge railway line between Adelaide and Crystal Brook. The Bill repeals the Adelaide to Crystal Brook Railway Act 1974, and provides for reimbursement to South Australia of payments made by that State under the earlier agreement. The Bill also empowers the Australian National Railways Commission to construct and operate the new standard gauge railway. This project represents a milestone in Australian railway history in that, on its completion, all mainland State capital cities will be linked to the national standard gauge rail network.
The new line will provide important benefits to South Australia, the nation and the railways. Substantial reductions in freight transit times will result, mainly through the elimination of bogie exchanging, with average transit times falling by about 27 hours on the Adelaide-Perth and Adelaide-Sydney routes. The completion of the project will result in considerable operational cost savings to ANR and is expected to lead to significant increases in rail traffic. It will make a substantial contribution towards reducing ANR operating losses in future years. The project will contribute to the development of mineral resources, agriculture and industry in South Australia and the Northern Territory. Proposed mineral development projects such as oil at Mereenie, and copper and uranium at Roxby Downs will have access to this railway for reliable and economic freight movement. The livestock industry will benefit as reduced transit times and elimination of transfer will avoid spelling, reduce bruising of animals and permit the movement of greater stock numbers through increased wagon turnaround.
The project will involve the conversion of the existing broad gauge line between Salisbury and Merriton to standard gauge. New standard gauge connections will be constructed from Merriton to Crystal Brook and from Salisbury to Keswick. Connections will also be provided to Port Adelaide and Pooraka. New passenger facilities will be established at Keswick. Present scheduling of the project envisages commencement of some standard gauge services by mid 1982, with all works being completed by mid 1 984.
The agreement between the Commonwealth and South Australia, signed on 1 1 August 1980, is incorporated as a Schedule to the Bill. This agreement terminates the previous Adelaide to Crystal Brook agreement of 1974 and as far as practicable restores the parties to their ‘original positions’ by adjustments of property and finance. The agreement also specifies the terms and conditions for the construction and operation of the new railway by ANR. The project described in the new agreement differs significantly from the much more costly works defined in the 1974 agreement. The project now to be carried out was developed by ANR after detailed analysis of the financial and commercial prospects for the line. Completion of the project will make a substantial contribution towards improving the profitability of ANR operations.
Accordingly, funds for the project will be raised on the commercial market under the infrastructure borrowing program. The bulk of the funds required will be raised through the sale of public securities by ANR. In June 1980 the Loan Council approved a total indicative program for the project of $62m at September 1 979 prices, including $22m to be borrowed during 1980-81. Finally, I should also point out that provision has been made in the agreement to cover the possible construction of a standard gauge connection to the container terminal at Outer Harbor in Adelaide, subject to such a proposal being approved by the Commonwealth and South Australian Transport Ministers.
I would now like to turn to some specific provisions of the Bill. Certain metropolitan land required for railway works is to be transferred from South Australia to ANR. Clause 6 of the Bill provides for the details of survey and delineation of such land to be incorporated into a certificate, which when signed by Commonwealth and State Transport Ministers vests the land in ANR. The Bill also provides for liabilities and obligations arising under the previous agreement to transfer from South Australia to ANR.
In accordance with established practice capital expenditure limits for the project have been specified. Clause 7 of the Bill, for instance, provides for a maximum cost of $82m, and if the scope of the project is later extended to allow construction of the Outer Harbor connection, the maximum cost is set at $92m. These figures include allowances for escalation and contingency factors. The Bill provides for reimbursement to South Australia for payments made by that State under the 1974 agreement. This will involve a payment of $862,577 in 1980-81. 1 commend this Bill to the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr Uren) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 22 May, on motion by Mr Ellicott:
That the Bill be read a second time.
– The Opposition supports the Australia Council Amendment Bill, which contains three major changes. Firstly, the Bill changes the composition of the Australia Council; secondly, it gives the Government the option to appoint a full time chairman, and if it exercises this option the effect will be to change the status of the full time general manager; and thirdly, it removes the public lending right from the authority of the Australia Council. Let me declare an interest. I am the only member of either House who has served as a member of the Australia Council or its predecessor, the Australian Council for the Arts. I became a foundation member of the Australian Council for the Arts in 1968, under John Gorton. I was elevated to vice-chairman in 1969, and stayed there until 1973.
The Australian Council for the Arts originally had ten members, and it was set up by administrative fiat. There was no legislation until 1975. Originally members were appointed on a regional basis. In addition to the Chairman, there were two members from New South Wales and Victoria, and one each from Queensland, Western Australia, South Australia, Tasmania and the Australian Capital Territory. The “1975 Bill enlarged the size of the Australia Council to between 1 8 and 24 and this was reduced to between 15 and 19 in 1976. The present Bill will reduce this to between 10 and 14 members. It also ends the provision whereby the chairmen of the seven existing specialised boards are ex-officio members of the Council. Proposed new section 9 (2) (b) provides that not less than two board chairmen shall be appointed to the Council by the Governor-General.
The 1975 Act provided that a certain number of ‘persons appointed to the Council were to be persons who practise the arts or are otherwise associated with the arts’. This rubric is qualified by the amendments proposed to the Act, in section 6 (f) which categorise three types of person, that is, persons who practise the arts, have practised the arts, or are otherwise associated with the arts. This amendment further provides that at least one of these persons must come from each of four categories- craft, literature, the performing arts, and the visual arts. In theory this sounds unexceptionable, even meritorious, but its meaning is not altogether clear. It sounds as though it is intended to mean professionals in the arts, but it does not actually say so. It could mean somebody who had learnt the violin in childhood and then given it up. Is an arts administrator or a critic someone who practises the arts?
The first two chairmen of the Arts Council of Great Britain were J. M. Keynes, later Lord Keynes, the economist - he was married to a ballerina and I suppose it could be said on that basis that he was associated with the arts - and Kenneth Clark, later Lord Clark of Civilisation, who was a critic, writer, administrator and connoisseur. I am not absolutely sure if they would have qualified under our Act. The three chairmen of the Australia Council so far have been Dr H. C. Coombs, an economist and banker, Professor Peter Karmel, an economist and educational bureaucrat, and Professor Geoffrey Blainey, an economic historian. There has been a greater weighting towards economics than towards the arts. If the rumourmongers are correct, as they generally are, the new full time chairman to be appointed in 1981, on the retirement of Professor Blainey, will be Dr Timothy Pascoe, the National Director of Arts Research, Training and Support Ltd and an influential former Liberal Party apparatchik.
I suspect that the real reason for wanting a large contingent of practitioners of the arts on the Council is to strengthen the role of the administration. The main requirement, in my opinion, for service on the Australia Council is to have a broad range of interests in the arts, capacity for personal judgment, and ability to determine relativities. A painter is not necessarily disqualified by virtue of his training from expressing an opinion about the proportion of money to be allocated to the Australian Ballet vis-a-vis the Australian Opera, but he is not necessarily qualified either. A singer’s professional qualifications do not necessarily extend to the development of a philosophy of funding. In fact, specialisation and fragmentation of skills may weaken the effectiveness of the decision-making process. I agree that this effectiveness depends in large part on the precise mix of individuals chosen for membership. But judgment, which involves breadth and skill at measuring relativities, and intensity of involvement in a particular expertise, are not the same thing.
In my own five year term on the Australian Council for the Arts I came to admire the skill of the Council’s administration, first for its dedication and energy, and second for the assured mastery that it had in guiding the Council, placing the ready-made decisions in its hands and allowing Council members to have the warm feeling that they were actually contributing to the decision-making process. In a council with a large contingent of generalists, the administration would make real decisions in 90 per cent of the cases. In a council heavily loaded with practitioners in the arts, the administration would make the decisions in 98 per cent of the cases. I realise that the situation I am describing would be very familiar to members of this House, lt has a striking resemblance to what happens here.
When I was on the Council it was standard practice, if the meeting was on a Monday, for example, for the papers to be delivered by taxi to my doorstep at 10.30 on Sunday night. The papers generally ran to 100 or ISO pages and sometimes to more than 200 pages. It was unrealistic to hope that all ten members of the Council, would have read the papers before they arrived at the meeting. It was with gratitude and relief that we accepted the tactful suggestion or guidance of the administration as to what we should do. Another major problem which arose in the Australian Council for the Arts and later in the Australia Council was the failure to evolve any coherent philosophy for funding the arts. When sporadic attempts were made to have time set aside for general discussion and for evolving broad principles, we were courteously but persistently reminded that we had 40 applications before us, that they all had to be dealt with that day and could not wait, and that sometime would be found, if not at the next meeting then at least at the one after that or, if not then, the one after that, when we would really sit down and seriously consider what kind of funding philosophy we were to adopt.
Australians have a great gift for mucking around rather than sitting down and trying to work out, comprehensively and coherently, where they are going and how they are planning to get there. This quality is exhibited clearly in the administration of policies concerned with government support for the arts. We tend to ‘back’ into policies in a spirit of enthusiastic ad hockery or we begin to dole out significant lumps of money from the public purse and then, lo and behold, after some years we look back and find that a whole series of precedents has been set. We find that the pattern of funding has been determined and tends to be unchanged simply because of those precedents.
After the Industries Assistance Commission had conducted its inquiry into the performing arts, although I did not agree with a great number of the recommendations it made I was disturbed by the incoherence of the reaction to its criticisms. Instead of having a coherent answer and being able to fall back and say: ‘We disagree with what you are saying; here are the justifications for what we are doing’, we heard cries of injured innocence from the subsidised companies and claims that the Commission did not understand what it was doing. There was never any attempt to try to explain the basis on which funding was to be allocated.
A whole number of very important questionsunfortunately I will not have time to develop them in full- need to be determined in Australia about funding for the arts, particularly now that the States and local governments are involved. First, is the relationship of the Commonwealth and the States in arts funding meant to be complementary or identical? Do the States have any responsibility to fund national companies or should we say: ‘No, the national companies are to be the responsibility of the Commonwealth. The regional companies and artistic activity in country areas should be funded by the States’. That problem has never really been looked at but it deserves examination. Second, is the purpose of the government subsidy to raise standards or spread access? Is there to be a greater priority in the raising of standards, say to put on an absolutely first class Der Rosenkavalier or Wagner’s Ring, if we ever get around to putting on the series? Or is there a greater need to spread access to the arts, particularly to areas that do not see them. There has been an enormous emphasis in the last few years on raising standards. I think that is very important. But it is also important to ensure that access to the arts is spread much more widely. There has been an enormous concentration on expenditure of funds for the arts in the four largest capital cities. But comparatively little money has been spent to support touring companies. The Australian Opera has been increasingly reluctant to leave Sydney. The Australian Ballet has been increasingly reluctant to leave Melbourne. This matter needs to be examined very carefully.
Third, should the Commonwealth undertake responsibility for supporting flesh and blood enterprises as against bricks and mortar? It might be a sensible dichotomy to ensure that the Commonwealth confined itself to providing running costs for companies and that the States were made responsible for providing the places where companies can perform. Fourth, another point that needs to be looked at very carefully–
– What was that point you were just making?
– I was saying that there should be a dichotomy between where State responsibilities begin and where Commonwealth responsibilities begin.
– That was your first point?
– No, actually it was the third point. Fourth, we have not tackled the question of how we are going to provide funds for metropolitan activities vis-a-vis non-metropolitan activities. Even within the cities themselves it is obvious that there are class and regional differences. In the city of Melbourne- this is certainly true in Sydney as well - there is an enormous access to and confidence in responding to the arts in middle class areas. In working class areas such as my electorate there is very little direct contact with the arts. People, perhaps because of cultural or social background or conditioning within their school experience, are resistant to involvement in the arts. That is very serious. Fifth, we also need to consider how much money is to be spent on promoting the training of future practitioners in the arts as against the people who are actually doing the performing now. Obviously, all arts disappear without adequate training but it is essential that we understand what are the responsibilities of the States vis-a-vis the Commonwealth in assisting training and making sure that that training is of the highest standard.
Sixth, there is no clear cut differentiation between the responsibility of supporting adult performances as against performances for children and young people. Children’s theatre, for example, has been a very poor relation. There must be much more work on the arts in the schools. Children’s theatre is expensive. It requires a large input of creativity. But there is a large captive audience and the secret, surely, of disseminating the arts equitably throughout the Commonwealth lies in developing children’s tastes. Seventh, is consideration of the role of State education departments vis-a-vis the Commonwealth. There is a tremendous need for adequate cultural input in the media. State education departments have not made as significant a contribution as they might have in promoting the arts except for the visual arts. Eighth, is the relative role of the Commonwealth vis-a-vis the State governments in fostering talent, in finding it, training it and creating an appropriate milieu for it? We must not exaggerate the significance of the problem but we must not underrate it either.
Ninth, we need to consider the relativities involved in funding external and internal touring. Is it better for us, for example, to spend money to send the Australian Ballet to Moscow and/or to bring the Bolshoi Ballet here or is it better to spend this money to raise the standards of the ballet or the opera in our own country? I am not opposed to sending people overseas. It is very important. But we have no clearly set out artistic philosophy for funding. Tenth, how far should we emphasise the conservation of the past as against the encouragement of experimentation? This is not clearly understood in the community.
One of the valuable points that were made by the Industries Assistance Commission report on the performing arts was that we ought to be putting more emphasis on recording and making performances generally available. There can be a splendid performance of Verdi’s Falstaff but seen only by a comparatively few thousand people with subscription tickets who go to theatres in Melbourne and Sydney. Then only a fraction of the population sees the work. If it were available in recorded form, on cassette, to be seen on television and in schools it could be seen by the community as a whole.
The new Bill provides that the Government can appoint a full time chairman. Whilst the option to have a full time chairman could be valuable, it needs to be exercised wilh some caution. If a full time chairman is appointed then the general manager goes off the Council. That appears to downgrade the prestige within the organisation of its existing administration. It will be difficult to appoint somebody in mid-career to a full time position for a few years without much security of tenure. Although the name of Dr Pascoe has been mentioned as a prospective full time chairman, I think there would be some anxiety about people taking on the job in mid-career. As it is, the previous chairmen have had other posts and have divided their time in very busy schedules to serve the community faithfully. The present chairman and his two predecessors have performed valuable work for the Commonwealth.
The arts must not be regarded as the icing on the cake; that access to and participation in the arts are and ought to be essential parts of human experience. We ought to recognise that access to and participation in crafts and active leisure- the arts generally- are essential parts of human development. While consumption is the standard measurement of outer life on which we put so much emphasis, creativity and expression remain the key to inner life. The increasing tendency towards division of labour and fragmentation of knowledge forces many people to seek fulfilment outside work, by active participation in sport, gardening, hobbies or the arts or, alternatively, to suppress self-expression through increased dependence on alcohol, drugs, spectator sports and television. As James Coleman argued, life used to be experience rich and stimulus poor; now it is experience poor and stimulus rich.
As I said before, culture is often perceived as an optional extra reserved for the highly educated - the icing on the cake. Four thousand years of human history before the Industrial Revolution demonstrate how creativity and work were integrated and that the urge to make appears to be universal. Some nations have had very long traditions of intensive personal participation in specific cultural forms; for example, caligraphy and writing poetry in Japan, music in Hungary and soccer in Latin America. In addition, creativity has often been associated with a happy and vigorous old age. People should be encouraged to recognise the personal value of time in their own lives and to work out individual priorities for time usage. People, in or out of the work force, should assert their own freedom of choice in evolving appropriate personal time use patterns to preserve their own sense of individuality against mounting external social pressures to conform and to see leisure as an opportunity to fulfil their own potential. Schools will need to teach the value of time use.
In a very important Canadian report, ‘The Selective Conserver Society’ that was published in Montreal in 1976, the psychologist William Lambert Gardiner argued that modern society conditions people to over-value extrinsic worth, measured by employment and the acquisition of material possessions, and to under-value intrinsic worth. He wrote:
We are confronted with our own emptiness. Extrinsic motivation has destroyed intrinsic motivation … A disproportionate number of people die shortly after retirement. They are so conditioned to see themselves as an interchangeable part of a system that, when declared obsolete, they selfdestruct. You can’t use your spare time to gain intrinsic worth but you can use your spare money to gain extrinsic worth. You are compensated for your lifetime with money and you use that money in a vain effort to buy it back.
There are two short matters that I want to raise before I conclude. Firstly, I would like to see the Australia Council more actively involved in publishing reports. The most important area it can look into is the provision of access to areas of the arts that currently are not available. It is a difficult problem to overcome, but in terms of social cohesion in Australia it should rank as a very important subject. I do not know whether the Minister for Home Affairs (Mr Ellicott) likes mystery stories, but there is one mystery he might look into on the subject of reports. I refer to ‘The State of Music in Australia’, a report which was worked on with great enthusiasm over a long time by Sir Bernard Heinze, John Hopkins, Roger Covell and myself. That report then mysteriously disappeared, falling down a memory hole whence it has yet to be extracted. It was a valuable report. Its lessons could be useful, particularly if the report were adopted and sold to the State education departments. As with so many other problems concerning the dissemination of culture, the State educational departments play an essential role.
I know that the Minister will say something at the Committee stage about the final point that I want to make. I refer to the removal of the Public Lending Rights Scheme. I am concerned about that at a couple of levels. In 1976 a new section 5a was put into the Australia Council Amendment Act. It provided for the payment of public lending rights to authors whose books are lent out by public libraries. Originally, the authors did not receive directly any royalties from library borrowers because they did not buy the book, but went to a public library and borrowed it. I discussed this matter with the Minister for Home Affairs last night, so I know approximately what he will say. Section 5A is being deleted by the Bill now before the House. Clause 4 simply states ‘Section 5a of the Principal Act is repealed’. Normally, if something is abolished by legislation, one normally assumes that is the finish of it. In this case, it is not the end of it at all; it simply becomes an administrative procedure.
This is a deplorable precedent. I am sure it is not an orphan; there would be many similar cases around. It is deplorable that we go through the exercise of putting something into a piece of legislation, leaving it there for a while and then pulling it out, being told that it does not really make any difference if it was there or not and that it will all carry on administratively. This is a perfect illustration of the maxim plus ce change, le plus le meme chose; in other words, out it goes, but it is still there all the same. It would not matter whether we pulled it out of the Act or left it in; there would still be the same result. That is an unfortunate precedent. I would much prefer to have seen clause 4 amended by a reference which said it was disappearing but that it would appear in another form; that the public lending right is going to a happier life in the Department of Home Affairs and it will be administered not by the Australia Council but by the Ministry of Home Affairs. I hope that the Minister will give some assurance about that.
As I have said, the Opposition is critical of the Bill. We hope that, on the whole, the provision for a full time Chairman will not be used. However, it would be unfeeling of me to finish without saying a few rousing things in support of the Australia Council. The important thing about the Australia Council is that it does things, that it takes risks. Obviously, the arts involve lots of risks and lots of failures. I think the number of successes of the Australia Council is very high and, relatively speaking, the failures have been quite small. It deserves every cent that it gets. There have been increases in funding over the years. When the Council began in 1968 I think it had the modest budget for the year of Sim and now it is the best part of $30m. Nevertheless, it is only skimming the top of the need for cultural facilities in Australia. Much more needs to be done by the States as well, but funds need to be spread much more equitably. We must give very serious consideration to the whole philosophy of funding to make sure that that access to the arts is made meaningful. At the moment it is highly theoretical. Honourable members will remember the old adage about rich and poor being free to go into the Ritz Hotel in Paris. But merely to state the proposition is to recognise its absurdity. It is essential that electorates like mine, working class suburbs, country areas, and electorates with very large numbers of people of ethnic origin be given some real equity in the provision of access to the arts.
-In debating the Australia Council Amendment Bill 1980 I wish to say only a few words on the reasons behind the setting up of the Australia Council and the intentions that I thought the Labor Government had when it established it. I do not want to talk about the details of the Bill because the Opposition is not opposing the changes. In a way it almost feels that it is practically irrelevant. What worries me and the Opposition is that the concentration of effort appears to be too much on support for the already established art or cultural forms. I want to elaborate a little on the remarks of the honourable member for Lalor (Mr Barry Jones) on that. I am not saying that governments should not in any way support or subsidise ballet, opera, classical music, drama and soon. Of course they should, because rarely do we find that those enterprises can survive without public support. They represent the flower of civilisation. They are not indigenous to Australia. We are talking about world culture and we certainly ought to be able to have access to it. So I am not deploring that. Obviously that is a very important function of the Australia Council. The reality is that the support provided for the opera, the ballet and so on still does not ensure that they are within the reach of the ordinary person.
One could argue that even if one made admission to these performances much cheaper - so that theoretically the poor could afford to pay for them- one still may not get much of an audience from that socio-economic section of the community. These people also suffer the disadvantage of not having been educated to understand or appreciate this culture. They are the poorer for that. So whilst it is important to provide funding for our prestigious and established theatrical companies, there ought to be some mechanism whereby we can also provide funding to help spread the understanding of these art forms amongst other sections of the community that are not otherwise able to get a taste of those fruits of civilisation. That is one side of the matter. I fear that our support is too limited. We need to be more adventurous to see that, for example, school kids out in the western suburbs of Sydney, who probably never see great theatre, can in fact have it brought to them in some way and be taught to appreciate and understand it.
That brings me to the second part of the purpose of an Australia Council. Whilst what I have just talked about is bringing to the disadvantaged the culture of the world, the indigenous culture of a country will arise from all levels of that society, including the back blocks. We have done, I fear, nowhere near enough to encourage Australian indigenous art and cultural forms. I do not mean just the Aborigines, though, of course, I include them. I also include the various ethnic communities that need a lot more help and support, not just because in a way they are transplanting their cultures from their homelands, but also because by being here many of these people are in the lower income brackets. They are forced to adapt to Australian ways of life and will be modifying and changing their old cultures. They will be adapting to the new and evolving something which will be Australian. We need to find ways to support that. If we are to ensure that all of these people can be given the basic skills and facilities to enable them to make choices and take part in these sorts of activities, much more needs to be done for school children.
I think this Council should also look at ways of getting into the school system so that we can again help to encourage the whole Australian community to appreciate the culture of all mankind and help develop Australian indigenous culture. The weakness in the changes we are making to the legislation that strikes me most is that it seems to be diminishing, even further, the very modest input to the Council’s activities that was coming from the boards which were supposed to comprise basically the people involved out there where the action is happening. I am referring to the creative edge - not to businessmen, not to great managers, not to people who know how to make sure that we do not lose money, but to the people who are actually creating the art. They had some imput and that is now, in essence, largely being excluded, but not completely. Even under our Government it was not much. In my view it was a deficiency in our original legislation and the changes that the Government is making are not increasing that input but rather diminishing it.
I fear the sort of over-concentration and concept of making sure that the Council is run properly. ‘Properly’ too often means an accountant’s approach to properly, a profit and loss approach rather than what may well be a wasteful approach, but the one that ultimately gives rise to the creativity that will be recognised as something that can, must and should survive, and in fact does survive. The scientist involved in research work wastes 99 per cent of his time, no doubt, for the one breakthrough that will eventually prove to be of value.
I guess that in the sorts of areas we are talking about much of the effort proves to be not worth while. But we cannot tell this beforehand. When we are giving funds to film makers we cannot pick from an interview of a prospective film producer whether the film will really be a success. A person may have a bright idea but not know how to bring it all together. Some film producers, for instance - I can even think of some painters - are the most unimpressive characters to talk to. I do not know how a person would ever think, if he were sitting on a committee trying to assess what he thought the film producer would do. But one must take the risk. The person wants to do it and has the drive. We have to take risks by providing the funds. The most unlikely characters come up with the goods; they come up with a creation which stirs people and seizes their imagination.
I fear that the changes we are making are diminishing that possibility. I think we are overloading the Council with people who will have too much of a business eye. They will make sure that the opera, the ballet or God knows what really pays. The Council has to be prepared to waste money - waste in the sense that it is distributed and given to people - not being sure that it will get a return because there is no way of telling beforehand. I said that I did not want to talk for long. I want to emphasise that I think that sort of problem was not faced up to adequately under the Labor government and it strikes me that this Government is getting even further away from it in the changes it is making. If the Australia Council is really going to grapple with the tasks of nurturing an indigenous Australian culture, creating a heritage for Australia as a country - a culture of its own - and at the same time ensure that we are all able to appreciate and enjoy world culture, then a decidedly different approach is necessary. It is just not good enough to support the prestigious organisations. We have to get at the grassroots - 1 hate using that word - the ignorant, the unaware in the community and open doors for them. I do not think we are doing it with these, changes to this legislation.
– in reply- I thank honourable members opposite who have spoken in the debate for their contributions. With very great respect to the honourable member for Maribyrnong (Dr Cass), he has not understood the purport of these amendments. 1 have been the Minister for Home Affairs for over two and a half years. During that time I have had to assess the work of the Australia Council. These amendments represent the views I have formed in order to make the Australia Council a more creative body. I firmly believe that these amendments, if the right people are appointed to the Council, will enable it to operate in terms of creativity much more effectively in the future. I will endeavour to explain to honourable members why I think that.
It is fair to say that in Australia we live in one of the most dynamic societies in the world. There is no doubt about that. Since I have become the Minister I have had the great privilege of travelling around the world and have had to communicate with people connected with the arts in other countries. I can find nothing but praise for the creative artists of Australia. The fact is, of course, that we politicians sometimes think that we are the ones who give vent to this creativity. Actually we do not. It is those people out there who are creative. We may be a vehicle, we may give them opportunities, but in the end our society is intensely dynamic, and we can identify reasons for this. Some of them may relate to our environment, to the character of our country, to the character of our population, and to the aspirations generally of the Australian people, the feeling that they are young and they are growing. Right around this country there is an intensely dynamic and creative feeling in the world of the arts. I think that the task of politicians at a national level is to provide appropriate vehicles by which this creativity can be expressed. Perhaps that is putting it in a mechanistic way, but I think honourable members will understand what I mean.
One of the problems I have felt in relation to the present composition of the Australia Council is that the presence on it of all the chairmen of boards has tended to dampen experiment and changes in policy. By that I mean simply that, particularly in a time when it is not possible, with all the good will in the world, to expand the moneys available to the arts, there is a tendency for the boards to stick to programs they have adopted and not change them, and only see the changes coming if additional funds are provided. Sometimes very substantial funds are needed to meet those changes of policy directions. Because of this, chairmen of boards, needless to say, are jealous of their own programs, their own policies, their own funds. It is my view, and it is the Government’s view also, that we should release the Council from the necessity to have on it so many chairmen of boards. We have provided therefore that in future there should be at least two chairmen. That is only one factor. The other factor is that a council of 19 members, I believe, is too large. I think it was Aldous Huxley who said that 1 3 was a group and more than that was a mob. I believe that is true. It is true to say that once we have more than 1 2 or 1 3 people acting on a problem we may get into a state of confusion.
– How many are there in the cabinet.
– Actually, it is about Huxley’s ideal of 13 or 14. I ask the honourable member for Lalor (Mr Barry Jones) how many Ministers were in the Labor cabinet? There were 26 or 27, if I recollect rightly. If the honourable member talks to his former Prime Minister, one of the reasons he will give for his problems was that he had too many in Cabinet. He might have done better had he had fewer. But let us not become political! The fact is that one tends to find that if more than 13 or 14 people are looking at a problem there is not the same efficiency of operation. I feel that it is necessary to bring those two factors to bear on the composition of the Australia Council.
In the amendments that have been projected, and a further amendment is being proposed today, we suggest that there shall be, in effect, a majority of members who either have practised or do practise the arts.
– Or who are associated with the arts.
– No, that is different. We want everybody on the Council to be associated with the arts, but we want a majority of them to be people who practise or have practised the arts. In other words, we want the practitioners there in a majority. We have expressed through the legislation that the membership of the Council should include a reasonable balance of persons who practise or have practised the various arts so that there is a cross-section. These are the creative people that the honourable member for Maribyrnong was talking about. We are putting them on the Council so that it will not be bound down by the views of the boards and sometimes the possible - I only say possible - intransigence of the boards. It is my view that in that way the Australia Council will become a more efficient body in terms of being able to respond to the creativity and the dynamic forces within our society. There has to be experiment within the arts. It is no good the Australia Council settling into policies about which it becomes intransigent. It must be prepared to change course. It must not become the prisoner of particular attitudes or, for that matter, particular art forms.
Honourable members will notice that in this year’s Budget the increases for the ballet, the opera and the orchestras are in the order of 7 per cent or 8 per cent, but the amount which has been added for the general support of the arts is approximately 12 per cent or 13 per cent. That marks a view on the part of the Government, which obviously I share, that the general support should get an increase this year. Honourable members will also notice that there is an emphasis on small theatre. In the course of my term as Minister I have gone to small theatres and noticed the need they have for additional funds. I believe that the Australia Council, through this extra half million dollars, will be able to do a lot for small theatre around the country. It is designed precisely to meet the sort of purpose about which the honourable member for Maribyrnong was speaking.
The honourable member for Lalor mentioned State and Commonwealth responsibility. He may be aware that last year we started a ministerial council on the arts, and that council will meet annually. It will meet here in Canberra in September, and all sorts of issues relating to the arts will be discussed. The meeting is designed to work out some views about where State and Commonwealth responsibilities begin and end. There are differing views about devolution in relation to the arts. I must say that when I became Minister I asked myself: ‘Why are we administering some of these funds? Why can they not be devolved to bodies within the Stales, for instance, to a State authority that was designed to administer funds at, what we might call a community level?’ In the United Kingdom my investigations revealed that they have the opposite view, that although they have devolved they do not think the arts are necessarily best administered in this form. They do not agree necessarily that because of that the administration expenses fall. We have kept down the costs of administration in the Australia Council over the last two years. The Council has responded to the Government’s desire to keep down the costs so that more money goes out to the artists.
The issue of devolution between State and Federal arts bodies is a very important one. The States tend to say: ‘Give us the money’. On the other hand, the Australia Council, not simply for protective purposes, but I think in the interests of the arts, says: ‘No, that is not the correct way to do it. There ought to be a choice of funding bodies. A particular artist ought to be able to come to the Community Arts Board or go off to the New South Wales arts branch of the Premiers Department, for example, and seek a grant from it, too.’ That is a very important issue, and it is one that has to be worked out. I have a feeling that it will not be worked out by any precise formula. It is more a matter of working out the relationships on particular issues.
There is one matter that I think is important to the arts, if I may have honourable members’ leave to mention it. Although it is something not strictly in reply it relates to what the honourable member for Lalor mentioned. It concerns the questions of buildings. There is no doubt that in relation to opera, ballet and musical theatre there is a great need for the companies involved to have the benefit of economies of scale. I have said publicly that I believe that the Sydney Opera House is too small - whether it is the Opera Theatre or the Concert Hall. Although it is a very unfortunate statement to have to make, honourable members will understand me when I say that. The Opera House does not give either the opera or the ballet the economies of scale needed in these times of high costs. Theatre, ballet or opera could be operated more efficiently if they had larger venues in which to play. For instance, a city like Sydney needs a theatre of at least 2,500 seats, and probably 3,000 to 3,500 seats, in order to get economies of scale.
Neither the Minister for Finance (Mr Eric Robinson) nor the Treasurer (Mr Howard) will thank me for the comments I am about to make. I notice the Minister Assisting the Treasurer (Mr Macphee) is here. Something which I believe will become apparent by the end of this decade is that governments, whether State or Federal, will have to be prepared to provide venues for the theatre - whether it be opera, ballet or musical theatre - at no expense to the theatre companies themselves in order to enable them to continue to play to audiences. I do not believe that it will be possible for people to absorb rising costs, as the Industries Assistance Commission report suggested, by simply paying more for seats. I think it will become more expensive. One of the roles of government in the future will be to provide venues of a substantial character for the performing arts to enable theatre companies to operate at an efficient level. If this is done I believe that the overall cost to government in subsidies will be much less. I have no need to tell the House that if the ballet was able to perform in Sydney to an audience of 2,500 to 3,000 it could cut down its performances in that city from 95, or thereabouts, to about 60 per annum. One of two things would result: Either the ballet subsidies would be less or, alternatively, the ballet would be more available for performances in other parts of Australia. I share the view, which I suspect the honourable member for Lalor expressed, that buildings in which the arts are performed will become more significant in the future in relation to governments.
Much was said about education and the arts. A report was produced by a Senate committee and of course, the Australia Council participated with the Schools Commission in that inquiry. It was very clear in their minds what could be done, but it is very difficult for Federal Government bodies to become involved in the educational curricula of State education departments. The difficulty exists not only in relation to the arts but also in relation to sport. Many of us would think that there ought to be a greater part of the curricula in schools apportioned to sport. Indeed, those of us who are a little older, like the honourable member for Maribyrnong and myself, will recall that when we went to school sport was a very significant part of the curriculum. Sport is not an important part today- it has changed. In the arts there is clearly a need to do this.
In Canberra we have a subsidised theatre company- the Jigsaw Theatre Company that is part of the Reid House complex. This company visits schools and is subsidised to put on plays. Some honourable members may not like the plays put on but the fact is that the company is performing in the schools and educating and encouraging young people in the arts. Some mention was made of the public lending right. I wish to draw honourable members’ attention to clause 9 of Appropriation Bill (No. 1) which states:
Obviously, that provision is there to guide the moneys away from the Australia Council into the disposition of the Department of Home Affairs. In future, the Department will administer the Public Lending Rights Scheme. As honourable members may know, there is a committee. They will notice that the amounts payable to authors were increased this year by 20 per cent. I am sure authors will be very thankful for that although, on the other hand, I think some of them will feel that that increase should have been greater. The Government has done its best in that respect.
The Public Lending Rights Scheme has been transferred because it was felt and the Australia Council takes this view - that it is not appropriately placed with that body. Certainly, in the immediate future it will be administered through the Department of Home Affairs. I know that the Committee takes the view that it should be a separate statutory authority, but this Parliament seems to have certain views about statutory authorities. I do not apprehend that that idea will be embraced with any great affection for the time being. The honourable member for Lalor mentioned a report in relation to music.
– ‘The State of Music in Australia’.
– I will make some inquiries about that and if the report can be published and made available to the honourable member I will certainly see whether that can be done. With those comments I again commend this Bill to the House.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
– Mr Deputy Speaker, with your indulgence I wish very briefly to correct an answer I gave the House at Question Time on Tuesday. I notice the error has been recorded in Hansard. I mentioned that approximately 50 per cent of Western Europe’s uranium was enriched in the Soviet Union. That 50 per cent figure actually refers to West Germany. The actual figure for Western Europe should only be 30 per cent. I want to have that statement corrected in the record.
– by leave- I move:
– Not conservative. It is a different thing from that. Possessive.
– I was getting to that. The words that the Minister used were ‘jealous of their own areas’, and ‘reluctant to accept any change’. As I understand it the chairmen of those boards were selected by the Government, not by members of the boards.
– What I am talking about is not something which is personal to the people. It is just a fact of life.
– I realise that. I still think that it may be felt by the sorts of people we inadvertently appoint- I say ‘we’ because the Labor Government was in the same position as the Government- that they are not able to go beyond what they perceive as their immediate territorial area.
– I see it as the functioning of the system. That is what I want to make clear. It is no criticism of the person or the capacity of the chairmen.
– The system being that these chairmen, representing the boards, felt that they had to fight like hell to maintain what they thought were the rights, the privileges or the funds of their individual boards and they were not prepared to go beyond that to other things.
– You would if you were chairman of a board, too.
– I would like to think that that point is not well taken. I would like to think that I would be able to see beyond that. The only worry I have is whether we can be sure that the alternatives will be better. I accept the point that if these chairmen are not tied to a board there probably is marginally more chance that they will not have such a blinkered view of things. That is all I want to say in that regard.
The next point the Minister made was that the system of appointment of members of the Council is being changed to ensure that the majority of members have been or are practising in the arts. That is a very good point. I hope that the emphasis will be on those who are actively practising rather than the venerated ones who have proved that they have been able to do so in the past. The reason for that is that I think the arts are dynamic, not static, and in order to be better able to cope with and understand the needs of society and how best to reflect these needs one has to be involved in the creative or cutting edge of science and so on. It is no good expecting someone who did brilliant work 20 or 30 years ago to be the best person to know what should be done today.
I offer a word of caution. I hope the emphasis will be on selecting people actively engaged in the arts, not the has-beens, no matter how brilliant or prestigious they may have been. I know that that presents problems. Often one finds that people actively engaged in the arts are terribly difficult individuals. They are idiosyncratic and often seemingly quite unreasonable but they have the brilliance or the spark that makes them the creative artists that people appreciate. As difficult as they may be, I still think they would be more valuable to the Council than people who have retired from the scene and who have acquired a reputation from previous activity but are not at this stage actively engaged in a dynamic area of endeavour.
– There is a need for a mixture of people on the Australia Council, including those who are young, vibrant and full of change. On the other hand there is a lot to be said for the view that once a person is a creative artist he remains a creative artist and it is very difficult for him to say: ‘I have ceased to be an artist’. They tend to be like that for the rest of their lives even though they may have had to give up their singing or whatever it may have been. My experience of artistic people is that they tend to be that way. It is not something of which they divest themselves. The experience that older artists can bring to bear can be just as great. I hesitate to refer to any of the members of the Australia Council- those appointed during my ministry - as older artists as they might take offence, but I certainly believe that there are on the Council at the moment artists of considerable experience who are older than many other artists but who are able to be vibrant and to bring a sense of creativity to what the Council is doing. They are the sorts of people who I think ought to be in the mix of the Council’s numbers.
Amendments agreed to.
Bill, as amended, agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments; report - by leave - adopted.
Bill (on motion by Mr Ellicott)- by leaveread a third time.
Bill presented by Mr Macphee, and read a first time.
The purpose of this brief and simple Bill is to allow Australia to consent to an increase in its quota’ in the International Monetary Fund, and to make the consequent payment. A country’s quota in the IMF determines its subscription to the Fund, its rights to draw from the Fund, its voting power in the Fund, and its share in allocations of special drawing rights - SDRs- by the Fund. From time to time the Fund reviews the levels of quotas in the light of developments in particular economies, the world economy and the international monetary system. The seventh general review of quotas was approved by the Fund’s Board of Governors in December 1978 and provided for a 50 per cent increase in the quotas of all
Fund members and additional increases for eleven rapidly growing member countries. This followed a period when Fund quota increases had lagged behind growth in world trade and international reserves and Australia voted in favour of the resolution which provided for the increase. The increase will come into effect when members accounting for 75 per cent of existing quotas have consented to the increase. As at 12 August 1980 members holding 40.33 per cent of total Fund quotas had consented to the increase, which is expected to become effective by early 1981. Once the increase does come into effect, members will have a limited period in which to consent to the increases in their quotas and to pay the additional amount to the Fund. It is thus appropriate for Parliament to consider the matter now.
The increase in Australia’s quota proposed under the review is from SDR790 million to SDR 1,1 85 million, an increase of 50 per cent, and section 4 of the Bill approves consent to this increase. Section 5 allows part of the quota subscription to be paid in the form of a non-negotiable, non-interest bearing security as provided in section 7 of the principal Act. As provided for in the Fund’s articles of agreement, the additional quota subscription will be paid 25 per cent in SDRs and 75 per cent in the form of a non-interest bearing, non-negotiable promissory note. The SDRs will be purchased from the Reserve Bank under the standing appropriation of section 5 (6) of the principal Act. Provision for this purchase has been made in the Budget Estimates, but it is a below-the-line’ transaction and does not affect the Budget deficit. The issue of the promissory note has no effect on the Consolidated Revenue Fund until such time as the Fund’s use of Australian dollars exceeds its current holdings of Australian dollars.
The increase under the seventh general review of quotas will augment the financial resources available to the fund to carry out its functions - basically, the provision of temporary assistance to countries facing balance of payments difficulties and promoting a stable international monetary system. From Australia’s point of view, it will increase our drawing rights and our entitlement to allocations of SDRs, as well as sustaining our voting power in the fund. I commend the Bill to honourable members.
Debate (on motion by Mr West) adjourned.
Bill presented by Mr Macphee, and read a first time.
– I move:
The purpose of this Bill is to authorise the payment of capital grants totalling $435,750,000 to the States in 1980-81 . This amount represents the grant component of the Loan Council program for State governments in 1980-81 and is one-third of the total program of $ 1,307.25m agreed at the June 1980 Loan Council meeting. The Bill also provides for the payment of capital grants in the first six months of 1981-82 up to an amount equal to one-half of the 1980-81 amount, pending passage of legislation to authorise grants in 1981-82. Consistent with past practice, payments authorised under this Bill may be made from the Consolidated Revenue Fund or from the Loan Fund, and appropriate borrowing authority is included.
These proposed grants represent a continuation of arrangements initiated by the Liberal-Country Party Government in June 1970, which provide that portion of the State governments’ Loan Council program should take the form of interestfree non-repayable grants in lieu of what would otherwise be interest-bearing borrowings by the States. The effect of the grants is to relieve the States of debt charges - interest payments and sinking fund contributions - which they would otherwise have to pay, and the grants accordingly have a substantial beneficial effect on the States’ financial positions. The States are entirely free to apply these grants as they choose and no terms or conditions are attached to them.
I turn now to the general context in which this Bill is being introduced. As I have mentioned, the grants which are subject to this Bill comprise onethird of the States’ Loan Council borrowing programs in 1980-81. That program has been increased by 5 per cent - or some $63m- on the program for 1979-80. Funds to the States from the Commonwealth Budget are estimated to total $ 12,265m in 1980-81, an increase of 10.3 per cent. This represents about one-third of estimated Commonwealth Budget outlays this year. Although they are not included in Commonwealth Budget outlays, a full consideration of State financing should also take account of the State authorities’ borrowings. If these are added, the estimated total figure is $14,7 17m, an increase of 10.8 percent.
The general revenue assistance component of payments to the States, essentially comprising the tax sharing entitlements, is estimated at $6,027m this year, an increase of 1 1 per cent. These funds may, of course, be spent by the States however they see fit, including on capital works projects. Overall Commonwealth general purpose payments to the States, which can be allocated by the States themselves between recurrent and capital expenditure, and of which the grants proposed in this Bill form a part, are estimated to increase by 9.9 per cent to $7,334m. The other major payments to the States, specific purpose payments, are estimated to increase by about 1 1 per cent in 1980-81 compared with last year. Some critics of our decisions on individual specific purpose programs seem to assume that the funds the Commonwealth provides are all that are available for expenditure on the particular programs and projects. Let me remind honourable members that States are at liberty to supplement spending on these purposes from their own resources, including from general purpose payments from the Commonwealth.
One particular specific purpose payment of relevance is the local government tax sharing entitlement which is passed on to local authorities as general purpose funds. As in the case of States’ tax sharing entitlements these funds may be spent as local governments see fit. The local government share of the previous year’s net personal income tax collections has been increased to 2 per cent as from 1 980-8 1 . The States will receive some $300m for this purpose, a dramatic increase of about 35 per cent.
State authorities’ borrowings are a further important source of funds for the States and their level has implications for the market for Commonwealth bonds and the extent of Commonwealth support needed for the State Government borrowing programs, which are underwritten by the Commonwealth. A prime element of these borrowings is the special increases to State authorities’ programs in the form of infrastructure financing for selected major developmental projects. First supported in the Loan Council by the Commonwealth in 1978, the infrastructure category of borrowings was very considerably increased by the Loan Council at its June 1980 meeting. In all, the indicative borrowing programs for State authorities under the infrastructure arrangements are of the order of $4.8 billion over ten years, with some $632m approved for 1980-81 - an increase of no less than 58 per cent on 1979-80.
It is significant to bear in mind that in recent years the States generally have been able to achieve balanced budgets - some have maintained budget surpluses - despite the fact that at the same time they have been reducing or abolishing certain State taxes. This is hardly evidence of
State governments suffering unduly from repressive financial constraints. The package of funds to the States in 1980-81, including their Loan Council programs, has been designed carefully with a view to giving the States flexibility in managing their own affairs within the constraints of the Commonwealth’s continuing policy of responsible containment of public sector spending. This Bill provides one-third of the State governments’ loan council programs by way of an interest-free grant. It is an important measure in the overall arrangements for Commonwealth assistance to the States. I commend the Bill to honourable members.
Debate (on motion by Mr Lionel Bowen) adjourned.
Bill received from the Senate, and read a first time.
– I move:
The purpose of this Bill is to amend the Administrative Decisions (Judicial Review) Act 1977, to enable that Act to be put into operation. That Act, which has not yet been brought into force for reasons which I shall explain, constitutes one of the principal elements of the reform of administrative law which has been undertaken by this Parliament in recent years. The Act embodies three principal features. These are:
At the same time, the Act embodied a parliamentary recognition that a detailed examination of how these principles would operate in practice might reveal circumstances in which it would not be appropriate for them to apply. It provided for regulations to be made to exclude classes of decisions from the operation of the Act. Thus it was always intended that the Act should not be brought into operation until a detailed study had been made, against the background of the principles enacted by the Parliament, of the appropriateness of its application to all classes of administrative decisions. The question of what exclusions, if any, should be made from the operation of the Act was referred to the Administrative Review Council for examination and report. The Council conducted, in consultation with Commonwealth departments and authorities, an intensive investigation of the matter. It reported to the AttorneyGeneral in October 1 978. That report was tabled in the Senate on 21 May 1 980. The greater part of the substance of the report was reproduced in the third annual report of the Council which was tabled last year.
The Council’s report has been subject to close study by the Government. The Government came to certain conclusions as a consequence of that study. In the first place, it was clear as a result of the Council’s investigation of the matter that there are some circumstances in which it would not be appropriate to lay on decision-makers the obligation to give full written reasons for their decisions, but equally it would not be proper to withdraw their decisions, but equally it would not be proper to withdraw the decisions concerned from review by the Federal Court. The inappropriateness of requiring written reasons to be given will generally arise by reason of the nature of the decision in question. As the Act stands, there is no provision to exclude classes of decisions only from the obligation to give reasons. Exclusion must be from the whole Act. It therefore became clear that the Act ought to be amended to allow some classes of decisions to be excluded from the obligation to give reasons without, at the same time, excluding those decisions from review by the Federal Court. The second conclusion to which the Government came was that those matters proposed for exclusion, before the Act is brought into operation, either from the Act as a whole or from the requirement to give reasons, should be subject to full parliamentary debate. That is, the initial exclusions should be contained in the Act itself, and not left to regulations made under the Act.
Thirdly, it has become clear in the period since the Act was passed, partly as a consequence of judicial decisions and partly as a result of other consideration of the issues involved, that there is a real danger that the obligation to give reasons for decision as presently contained in the Act might lead to the disclosure of confidential information of a personal or business kind. There is a real concern that legislation primarily directed to the accountability of Government for its actions should not be allowed to become a conduit for the disclosure of information of this kind. The issues were explored in some detail by the Senate Standing Committee on Constitutional and Legal Affairs in its examination of the Freedom of Information Bill. Whatever might be the final position under that Bill the Government considers that it would not be proper to bring the Administrative Decisions (Judicial Review) Act into force without some amendment which would provide adequate protection for confidential information. The proposals are contained in new section 1 3A. Because the provisions of that section would constitute a limitation on the entitlement to information provided by the Act as originally passed, it is the Government’s intention that the operation of the section should be kept under close scrutiny. It is contemplated that the Administrative Review Council might be asked to report on it after the Act has been in operation for, say, 12 months.
I turn now to a brief description of the detailed provisions of the Bill. The substantive changes are to be found in clauses 6, 7 and 10 of the Bill. One effect of clause 6 of the Bill is that the obligation to give reasons for decision under section 1 3 of the principal Act will not extend to all decisions which are subject to review by the Federal Court. It will extend only to those decisions subject to review by the Federal Court under the Act which are not excluded from the operation of section 1 3 either by proposed Schedule 2 or by regulations made under this Act. In addition, clause 6 would effect a further alteration to section 13. As that section now stands, it is arguable that a decisionmaker may refuse to supply reasons to a person whom he believes not to be entitled to make a request for reasons for a decision only if he obtains an order of the Federal Court to that effect. If that were the effect of the section, it would mean that, no matter how clear the case for refusing reasons to a particular person on the ground that he had no standing, the decision-maker could not refuse to supply a statement without an order of the Federal Court. Accordingly, clause 6 of the Bill will also amend section 13 to put beyond doubt that a decision-maker may refuse a statement of reasons to a person he believes to have no standing without the need for a court order in his favour. At the same time, it obliges the decisionmaker, if he wishes to rely on that power, to inform the applicant for reasons, of his reason for refusing to supply a statement. Further, provision is made for a person who is refused a statement of reasons on that ground to apply to the Federal Court for an order that he is entitled to such a statement.
Clause 7 of the Bill would insert the new section 13A, to which I have already referred. The effect of the new section will be to entitle a decisionmaker to withhold from a statement of reasons certain information relating to the personal affairs or business affairs of a person other than the person requesting the statement of reasons. This may be done if the information was supplied in confidence, if the publication of the information would reveal a trade secret, if the information had been furnished to the department or agency concerned in compliance with a duty imposed by an enactment or if the furnishing of the information would be in contravention of a secrecy provision contained in some other statute. I want to emphasise that the fact that information might be withheld on the grounds that 1 have mentioned does not mean that a statement of reasons may be denied. Only in the case where the omission from a statement of the information in question would render that statement false or misleading would the decision-maker be entitled to withhold a statement of reasons. This is likely to be a rare and exceptional case. In all other cases, the statement must be given but the sensitive information may be omitted. Furthermore, the person who receives the statement must be told that information has been omitted and why it has been omitted. In addition, new section 1 3A is expressed not to affect in any way the power of the Federal Court to make an order for the discovery of documents or to require the giving of evidence or the production of documents to the court if review proceedings are brought under the Act. That is, if proceedings are instituted in the court for the review of a decision, the ordinary rules of discovery and of evidence will apply. The provisions of new section 1 3a should set at rest the genuine fears of those who have thought that the obligation to give a statement of reasons might lead to an unnecessary disclosure of confidential information. At the same time, I would emphasise that any decision to withhold information from a statement of reasons remains subject to review by the Federal Court.
Clause 10 of the Bill would insert two Schedules into the principal Act. Schedule 1 lists those classes of decisions which are to be excluded from the operation of the Act as a whole and which will therefore not be subject to review by the Federal Court. These decisions remain subject to review by the High Court under its constitutional jurisdiction. Schedule 2 lists those classes of decisions which are to be excluded from the obligation to give a statement of reasons. It would unduly lengthen this speech to go through the Schedules in detail. I emphasise, however, that decisions as to what would be excluded have been reached by the Government only after the most careful consideration and with a full recognition of the fact that some persons affected by an excluded decision will be deprived of the benefits of the reforms enacted by the principal Act. Whilst the Act as amended would enable further classes of decisions to be excluded, either from the operation of the Act as a whole or from the obligation to give reasons for decisions, it is not expected that this regulation-making power would be used in respect of decisions under existing statutes unless practical experience clearly demonstrates that the application of the Act to those decisions is quite inappropriate. It is, however, envisaged that there may be from time to time classes of decisions made under future laws which would need to be excluded either from the operation of that Act as a whole or from the obligation to give reasons for decisions.
The remaining provisions of the Bill are substantially of a consequential or machinery character. The Attorney-General had invited the Administrative Review Council to consider the Bill and report to him on its views. The Council made a number of recommendations for relatively minor changes. It also recommended that departments be asked to keep records which would be necessary to enable the operation of the legislation to be monitored. This further report of the Council was tabled in the Senate on 20 August, and copies of the report are available in the Parliamentary Library. I have a limited number of copies in my office.
In the circumstances, the Government has thought it expedient to proceed immediately with the Bill as introduced. The changes proposed by the Administrative Review Council will, however, be kept in mind for future revision of the Act. I assure the House that it would be the Government’s intention that the operation of the legislation will be closely supervised and that the Administrative Review Council should be asked to report from time to time on the legislation. I commend the Bill to the House.
Leave granted for debate to continue forthwith.
– I appreciate that the Government wants to pass this legislation, but it has not given us much time to consider it. This is one of the few occasions when we must debate a matter without having the opportunity to consider adequately what has happened in the Senate. I am in much the same position as my colleagues in the Senate found themselves when a report from the Administrative Review Council relating to the Administrative Decisions (Judicial Review) Amendment
Bill was tabled just prior to the resumption of the debate on that Bill. I have not had much of a chance to look at the report. The Opposition is very disappointed, from the point of view of what the original legislation set out to achieve. The original Act was passed in 1 977 but was never proclaimed. We now have an amendment to an Act which still has not been proclaimed. When we look for the reasons for the amendment, we can see that it has become virtually a victory for the bureaucrats and the decision-makers and a defeat for law reform, for civil liberties and, most importantly, for the people affected by the decisions of government. We supported the 1977 legislation because it was a most important piece of law reform, but I repeat that it was never proclaimed into law.
That Act revised both the procedure and the substantive law relating to administrative law. It was the third part of a package of administrative law reform. Honourable members may recall that the first part of the package concerned the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, which reviews the merits of administrative decisions. That legislation was passed in 1975 by the then Labor Government. The second part of the package was the Ombudsman Act, which was passed in 1976 and protects individual citizens from maladministration in government departments. In 1977 the Government introduced the Administrative Decisions (Judicial Review) Act to allow a review of questions of law concerning administrative decisions by the Federal Court. It is a matter of regret that after three years that legislation has not been proclaimed. The Government has attempted to gain kudos from the reforms, which were supported across party lines.
In 1977 we commended the then AttorneyGeneral, now the Minister for Home Affairs (Mr Ellicott), for introducing the legislation. It was an important and major piece of law reform. Apart from the matters to which I have already referred, it removed the common law rule that the only remedy for an error of law within jurisdiction was the prerogative writ of certiorari, which lay for an error of law only on the face of the record. The prerogative writs which lie in relation to prohibition and mandamus in the High Court’s original jurisdiction under section 75 (v) of the Constitution have long been considered to be unsatisfactory. The importance of the 1977 legislation was that it allowed judicial review of administrative decisions under a much more simple and flexible procedure.
In our view, this Bill goes a long way towards destroying the 1977 legislation. It has been introduced for the same reason that the 1977 legislation was not proclaimed, that is, that the bureaucrats did not want to operate under its provisions. The losers in all this are the people affected by the decisions of Federal instrumentalities. Our main objections to the legislation relate to Schedule 1 and Schedule 2, which are to be added at the end of the principal Act. As a general principle, we believe that it is better to have matters of substance such as this spelt out in legislation rather than left to regulations. We consider that Schedule 1 is too wide and that Schedule 2 should not be in the Bill at all. The placing of these matters in the Bill is also deceptive because a list can continue to be added to by regulation. There is no reason in principle nor is there any recommendation of the Administrative Review Council which justifies the inclusion of Schedule 2 in the Bill. I make the point that the Administrative Review Council sees no justification for the inclusion of Schedule 2.
Schedule 2 takes away the right of an applicant to get reasons for a particular decision. Without reasons, the person who is the subject of a decision has no real right to have the decision reviewed. Schedule 2 is an extremely long list, and while in purely technical terms it does not have the same automatic exclusory effect of Schedule 1 the practical effect will be the same. The matters listed in Schedule 2 will not normally be able to be reviewed. At the Committee stage we will be moving for the deletion of Schedule 2 and we will also be suggesting the removal of some of the provisions in Schedule 1, particularly those relating to foreign takeovers, foreign exchange regulations, and the National Labour Consultative Council. None of these exclusions from the Bill was recommended by the Administrative Review Council, and it seems that the Treasury has again snowed the Government into moving for the exemptions.
Clause 5 of the Bill, together with clause 6, which is consequent on it, is also opposed. These provisions totally reverse the position under the 1977 legislation. Whereas previously the official or the department had to apply to the Federal Court for authorisation for refusing to give a statement of reasons, the onus is now reversed; the onus will now be on the applicant. The time in which the decision-maker must supply reasons to the applicant has been doubled from 14 days to 28 days. Clearly, that is consistent with the Government’s attitude on freedom of information. Under the proposed freedom of information legislation, the time involved makes a mockery of any suggestion of a timely review. We also oppose clause 7, which seeks to insert new section 13A into the
Act. We are not entirely opposed to the withholding of information on the grounds of personal privacy, and even to some extent the security of business information, but the proposed section as drafted is far too wide. The most puzzling part of this whole exercise is why the Government has allowed itself to be dictated to by bureaucrats and not taken the advice of its own body, the Administrative Review Council, whose members include, among others, Sir Clarrie Harders, a former head of the Attorney-General’s Department, and Mr Justice Michael Kirby of the Australian Law Reform Commission.
Section 14 of the Act contains provisions which allow the non-disclosure of information on grounds such as security, Cabinet solidarity and Crown privilege. Section 1 4 is already objectionable on two grounds. Firstly, it allows the Attorney-General to conclusively certify that information is not to be disclosed. That does not appear to be subject to any review. Secondly, the provision in section 14(1) (c) opens up the whole question of Crown or Executive privilege, which is an ill-defined common law concept, although it has been considerably narrowed by the High Court decision in Sankey v. Whitlam.
We have some reservations about recommendations of the Administrative Review Council such as the total exclusion of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation and the telecommunication interception legislation. It is our view that as far as is reasonable, this Parliament ought to support the recommendations of that body. We will therefore be moving amendments to Schedule 1 and moving for the deletion of the completely new animal called Schedule 2. It is a matter of great regret that a piece of legislation passed by this Parliament in 1977 with unanimous support is now emasculated in this way. The praise we were able to give must now be replaced by vigorous condemnation. When the Bill was introduced into the House in 1 977 by the then Attorney-General he made these comments:
No longer will it be possible for the decision maker to hide behind silence.
That statement now rings hollow. This Bill gives every opportunity for the bureaucrat to hide behind silence. For those reasons the Opposition does not support the legislation and will be moving amendments at the Committee stage. We will deal with them as and when it is necessary.
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The House divided. (Mr Deputy Speaker - Mr P. H. Drummond)
Majority…… : 36
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Drummond)I present the report and financial statements of the Reserve Bank of Australia for the year 1979-80, together with the Auditor-General’s report thereon. This action is required of me pursuant to the Reserve Bank Act. Copies are being released to the media by the Bank.
– During the second reading debate the Opposition indicated that it objected to a number of clauses and that it would be moving amendments to the Schedule. As we are taking the Bill as a whole, let me advert to the clauses to which the Opposition objects. We object basically to clauses 5 and 6 which we consider constitute a complete reversal of the thrust of the 1977 legislation. These clauses virtually mean that where a person now seeks reasons for a decision he has to make application to the court whereas, under the earlier Act, if there were a refusal of reasons, the decision-maker had to go to the court to justify the refusal. So honourable members can see how difficult it is when a person who requests reasons is deemed not to be entitled to them. This matter is dealt with in particular in clause 6 (a) (3) which states:
Where a person to whom a request is made under subsection ( 1 ) is of the opinion -
I emphasise that; the decision-maker is of the opinion -
That the person who made the request was not entitled to make the request . . .
Then delaying procedures follow. There is a sort of delay virtually because of the 28-day period in which there has to be some opportunity to consider the position. There is a further delay of 28 days following the court’s decision and then the delay of waiting for the court hearing. So honourable members can see that a request to review a decision would involve a period of some three or four months. I do not think that that is in accordance with what one would call speedy justice, particularly when we are talking about administrative decisions. The whole thrust of the idea of reform was to get alternative avenues of review. The Opposition has made the point that judicial review is a basic remedy for an administrative review because it is a means of ensuring that administrative action is in accordance with the rule of law. If there were provisions which enable someone to say: We will not give you reasons, so if you want to seek reasons you will have to go to the court to get such approval, one can imagine the difficulties that would ensue. That relates to clauses 5 and 6.
Clause 7 seeks to insert proposed new section 13A. This clause is far too wide. It gives the grounds why reasons should not be given. It relates to the business affairs of a person. The onus is wide when one is talking about the business affairs of a person. Again, there is the test as to the basis of a particular decision. We are trying to make a law whereby information is available to a citizen as freely as possible. Honourable members should keep in mind that the citizen has to bear the brunt of the administrative decision. It seems incredible that legislation can be amended to say that because the business affairs of a person can be affected no information will be disclosed. We are not talking about privacy; we recognise that situation. One has to look at what is reasonable from the point of view of definition. Again, there is the question of opinion. If there is an abuse of this procedure, which there readily could be, people can be forced into extraordinary litigation to try to achieve their rights.
With regard to confidential information, the decision-maker has been given a new and additional procedure. It is an invention of the Government, it was not a recommendation of the Administrative Review Council. The Opposition is somewhat puzzled as to why it has been inserted into the legislation. We are not trying to alter the situation, but we want to make it clear that the decision-maker’s opinion would seem to be the factor which determines when this matter can come into play, and the decision not to provide a statement of reasons on the ground that the statement without the confidential information would be false or misleading lies in the hands of the decision-maker. Presumably this decision could be challenged under the 1977 Act but the challenger would be in a difficult position. Similarly, he would be in a difficult position if he wished to challenge the Attorney-General’s certificate under section 14. The challenger may be able to obtain further information by means of discovery but, apart from that, a challenge entails a catch-22 sort of operation. A Federal court would find it difficult to know whether the decision to exclude information was lawfully made if the only reason given is that the information is confidential. Not knowing what the information was certainly would prevent the court from assessing whether it is in fact legitimately within the area of prohibited information, whether all the excluded information is confidential, or whether the statement would be false or misleading without the confidential information. Ultimately the decision to exclude information is left to the decision maker. The only safeguard against abuse of this type of power is the confidence that public servants and other decision-makers will not abuse the power - a confidence which is undermined by the obsession with secrecy and the very need for the 1977 legislation.
Sitting suspended from 6 to 8 p.m.
– Prior to the suspension of the sitting, I indicated that the Opposition regards this Bill as one that repudiates the intention of the original Bill, the Administrative Decisions (Judicial Review) Act. It has never been promulgated. The intention was to have laws that were flexible and could be the subject of discussion to see whether proper administrative decisions had been made. Those discussions and debates could take place not only in the Parliament to ascertain what was meant but also, from the point of view of a legal decision, give some discipline - as it was put - to the findings of people and would certainly educate them.
Many of us who have had associations with other committees of the Parliament are well aware of administrative decisions that were quite outrageous. Nobody in the Parliament would have thought that the decisions would have been made in that way.
The summary of the situation is that under the original Bill, for example, a person was entitled to apply for a review of a decision. That provision still stands in the present Bill. He could also obtain reasons for the decision. That provision does not stand. The onus is now reversed. It is felt that a person should not get the reasons. He is to be put to all the trouble, difficulty and delay of having to go to court. I have made the point that the delay can run into months. So it is a bureaucratic obstruction which has been introduced unwisely by the Government. For that reason we are opposing clauses 5 and 6 of the amending Bill. Clause 7 is a new addition in respect of certain information not required to be disclosed. We think this provision is far too wide. It gives further excuses not to give reasons on a basis that I think will be interpreted against the people who were entitled to them.
I now come to the other question. Schedule 1 relates to classes of decisions which are not decisions to which this Bill applies. We say that the classes of decision to which the legislation should apply are in particular decisions referred to in paragraph (h) which covers decisions made under the Foreign Takeovers Act, paragraph (j) which covers decisions made under the Banking (Foreign Exchange) Regulations and paragraph ( 1 ) which covers decisions of the National Labour Consultative Council. I seek leave to move together the amendments circulated in my name.
– Every piece of legislation is important.
– Yes, and every part of every piece of legislation is important. It is unfortunate that the Australian Labor Party has seen fit to oppose part of this legislation. Not only does the Labor Party oppose it but also the other party represented in the Senate, speaking through its leader last night, said that the legislation was very boring. That is the view of the Australian Democrats.
– Who said that?
– The leader of the Australian Democrats said last night in the Senate that this legislation was boring. We on the Government side happen to find this legislation exciting and important. The reason why it is exciting and important, and to adopt the words of my colleague, the honourable member for Denison (Mr Hodgman), stimulating, is that it seeks to provide an answer to one of the great quandaries of modern society. If honourable members pause for a moment to think about it, they will agree that one of the great crises of the modern world is the domination of the individual by large sections of power groups within the society, of which big government is a major one. The individual is dominated by big government and this Government has attempted to find a way in which the individual can challenge the decisions of government - decisions which affect the individual. In general terms, this legislation, in the first case provides, as the Attorney-General (Senator Durack) said in the Senate, a modern, convenient and all embracing way of having decisions of bureaucrats and of government at large brought before the courts for review. Secondly, it obliges the government, the bureaucrat or whatever other instrumentality of government it may be, to give reasons for the decision which the bureaucrat or the other government instrumentality has reached. That is important and it is exciting because this is the first general attempt that has been made in Australia to provide some relief for the individual against the dominating and overbearing government that makes decisions that affect the lives of people. Until the introduction of this legislation, the individual had no way of challenging such decisions. Basically, that is the reason why the legislation is important.
What has happened in the particular case and the circumstances that lead the legislation to be reconsidered again tonight are as follows: When the legislation was passed in 1 977 it was expressed in general terms, but although it was expressed in general terms it was always considered that there would be exceptions to those decisions which would be subject to review by the courts. The matter was referred to the Administrative Review Council and after some 19 months the Administrative Review Council came back with its recommendations. The Government, of course, is not obliged to follow the recommendations of that Council, but rather to consider the advice that that Council has given to the Government. The Government, having considered that advice, has now reached conclusions with respect to some amendments that should be made to the Administrative Decisions (Judicial Review) Act.
The amendments are twofold. In the first place in the case of some decisions, reasons will not have to be given by the administrative body, the bureaucrat or government instrumentality concerned. In other cases, and this is the second exception, there are some decisions which are taken out of the purview of the Federal Court of Australia, out of the structure which is created by this Act. But the important point to understand- it is the basic point that should be made in this debate - is this: Although exceptions have been made to the legislation, although there are some decisions which are now not subject to the procedure set out and created by this Act, nevertheless in general terms there is still a facility provided for the citizen to challenge the decisions of government. There is still a facility for the citizen to go to the court and say, ‘I have been wronged; an injustice has been done to me by this decision of government’. As I have said, that is a very great step forward in this attempt to redress the balance between the citizen on the one hand and the government on the other. That is the reason why the legislation is of such tremendous importance.
The Attorney-General pointed out as recently as yesterday in the Senate that there is still a wide range of decisions coming within the Commonwealth Government’s area of responsibility which will still be subject to review by the court. As I have said some decisions are taken out of the structure of this system established by the Act, but there is still a very wide range of decisions where the citizen will be able to use this modern, convenient and all-embracing machinery set up under the Act to obtain some redress for the injustice which the citizen maintains has been done to him by government. It is to some extent experimental legislation. What I would like the Government to do, and what I am confident the Government will do, seeing that it has taken this decision of principle, is to watch very closely the way this legislation works. I hope that the Government will look in detail at the workings of the legislation to see whether it is achieving its purpose, to see whether perhaps there is still too much protection given to government and whether perhaps not enough protection is given to the individual, not enough scope for the individual to challenge decisions made by governments. I am confident that if the Government finds that the system is not working it will amend the system.
The sole significant point that needs to be made in this debate is that the Government has set up machinery which is far more modern and effective than the ancient system used to review government decisions in the court. It has set up what promises to be a challenging, exciting and workable system under which the individual can obtain some redress from the courts against governments, against bureaucrats, and against government instrumentalities where the citizen claims that an injustice has been done to him. The Government, without any exception whatsoever, should be congratulated on taking this very significant step in the reform of government and the reform of law in Australia.
– I now address my remarks to the amendment I have moved to Schedule 1 , seeking to omit paragraphs (h), (j) and (1), bearing in mind that these are not decisions to which the Act applies. Following the remarks of the last speaker, very clearly the unfortunate citizen will not be able to do anything about these matters. I think most members of parliament feel that a citizen should have some rights of review. Let me deal with paragraph (h) of Schedule 1 , which refers to decisions under the Foreign Takeovers Act. That is a very important piece of legislation which affects people in any number of ways. As honourable members know, a fair amount of debate is engendered when there are difficulties about foreign takeovers. I ask: What about Australian rights and sovereignty, and the people here? Will the rights be denied? Will the people become minority shareholders? Will they be obliterated from the point of view of being effective in the decisionmaking process?
Wide powers are exercised by the Treasurer (Mr Howard) in relation to monitoring and controlling takeovers of companies. The most significant thing about this provision, and I think it must interest members of the Government, is that the Administrative Review Council recommended that such decisions should not be excluded from the Act. A person aggrieved by a decision of the Treasurer could be a company affected by the decision or a person, for example, a shareholder. These people are now in a situation where the only way in which they can appeal against such a decision, which might well be lawful, is by going to the High Court of Australia. I do not think that is within the spirit of this legislation. Paragraph (j) of Schedule 1 relates to decisions, or decisions included in a class of decisions, under the Banking (Foreign Exchange) Regulations. Foreign exchange seems to fall within Government policy. The Administrative Review Council did not think policy decisions should be excluded. The 1977 Act is concerned only with the lawfulness of administrative decisions. If Government policy gives rise to unlawful administrative decisions, then they should be reviewable. On the other hand, the Council recognises that some decisions which could be called policy decisions, such as those made by the Commonwealth Grants Commission relating to the allocation of funds, might be inappropriate. However, I make the point that foreign exchange can relate to a number of matters.
The final part of the amendment I have moved relates to paragraph ( 1 ) , of Schedule 1 , that is, decisions of the National Labor Consultative Council, which were not specifically the subject of any submission in the Administrative Review Council’s report. However, the Council did consider whether consultative and advisory bodies and authorities not dealing directly with the general public ought to be exempted. It recommended that such bodies should not be exempted. If such bodies do make decisions of an administrative character which adversely affect a particular individual and such decision is made unlawfully, then the changes effected by the 1977 Act, that is this change, do not make judicial review any less desirable. We have a particular problem here. There is some doubt as to whether one could go to the High Court. We are not dealing with the parameters of section 75 (v) of the Constitution, under which a person might be seeking a writ against an officer of the Commonwealth, because it would appear that people in the National Labour Consultative Council do not fit into that category. We have an area there where we could not really do anything about it. On that basis we object to a provision that we regard as being contrary to the spirit of the Act, and I would like to think that the Government will reconsider it.
Schedule 2 relates to classes of decisions that are not decisions to which section 1 3 applies, and the problem here is the difficulty of having to get reasons. We made the point before that we think it would be far better to omit that Schedule and deal with it on the basis that these decisions should not be so exempt. I will not delay the Committee any further in that regard, except to point out again that the Act was designed to create a simple and flexible procedure. It was introduced to help citizens obtain a judicial review. It was also introduced to help decision-makers make decisions in a proper way, on a proper basis and in a disciplined manner, so that there would be some uniformity and regularity in the procedures. Lawyers can tell us that when we have that sort of discipline we get precedent, we get some understanding, and the administration of law is helped considerably. It is for those reasons that I have moved the amendments. The Opposition will not be dividing on this matter because of the other difficulties in the chamber this evening, but I would like the Committee to note our objections.
– I am somewhat puzzled by the approach of the Opposition to this legislation. My colleague the honourable member for Diamond Valley (Mr N. A. Brown) I think put it very well when he expressed disappointment at the Opposition’s lack of enthusiasm in spirit for the legislation, notwithstanding its token support. A lot of the comments made by–
– I raise a point of order, Mr Chairman. In fairness to the honourable member for Diamond Valley, I think he expressed those views about the Australian Democrats, not the Opposition.
– There is no point of order.
– There is a point of order, if we are going to have to correct the situation all of the time.
– No, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition was distracted. He said that the attitude of the Democratic Labor Party to the Bill was that it was boring.
– The Australian Democrats?
– Yes, the Australian Democrats. He said that that party considered the Bill to be boring. I thought, with respect, that the Opposition gave the Bill the kiss of death. Whilst the Deputy Leader of the Opposition said that the
Opposition was supporting it, he spent a considerable amount of time criticising clauses 5 and 7. However, he did not move any amendments in relation to them. Now he has come up with an amendment to a schedule which deals with, of all things, foreign takeovers, the National Labour Consultative Council, and the Banking (Foreign Exchange) Regulations. They are three very interesting subjects for the Australian Labor Party to be showing an interest in.
– But we cannot get any interest in them.
– I am very surprised at the rationale of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. I am almost coming to the conclusion that he protesteth too much, that there is some ulterior motive in his wishing to have foreign takeovers subject to judicial scrutiny, and that he has some desire to obtain the advantage of judicial review of confidential information under the Banking (Foreign Exchange) Regulations. Why on earth the Deputy Leader of the Opposition wants to see the decisions of the National Labor Consultative Council subject to judicial review is beyond me, unless he wants to find out what Mr Hawke is saying behind closed doors. That is the only reason I can think of for supporting that proposition.
– You will never win Denison doing this.
– The only proposition I can think of is that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition is trying to find out what Bob Hawke is saying behind closed doors. There is no other basis that I can find. The National Labour Consultative Council is surely not the sort of body whose decisions the Labor Party genuinely wants to have taken into court to be subject to judicial review. It is a Council whose establishment I thought the Opposition opposed and a Council to which I thought that officially the Opposition did not give very great pre-eminence. Yet we find that the Opposition is seeking to have its decisions reviewed, decisions of employers, trade union leaders, and the Government of this country, taken behind closed doors after decent private discussions, for the settlement of industrial disputes. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition says that we should bring the decisions of the NLCC before a court of law and have them judicially reviewed. I really query the motives behind the Opposition’s amendment. I cannot concede that they are a genuine desire to find out the reasons for the decisions. I repeat: One should find out the basis on which Mr Hawke is saying one thing in one place and another thing in another place. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition was a senior Minister of the Whitlam Government from 1972 to 1975 and it was in 1975 that the Foreign Takeovers Act was brought in by a government of which he was a member. If the honourable member thinks that the decisions made under that Act should be subject to a judicial review I have to ask why that was not provided for in the Act itself. What has happened between 1975 and 1980 to change the honourable member’s legal assessment of the need for a judicial review of decisions unless it is the fact that he is now in Opposition and we are in government.
My last point refers to that very involved, sensitive and technical area of the banking and foreign exchange regulations. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition as a former senior Minister in the Whitlam Government knows how sensitive these issues are. The very validity, true value and international standing of our currency are at stake. I would have thought that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition as a former senior minister would concede that to drag that information into a court of law might well not be in the national interest. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition knows full well, notwithstanding his statements in relation to section 75 of the Judiciary Act, that the Constitution itself protects in perpetuity the Queen’s prerogative writ and that any person in this country aggrieved by any administrative decision and quite independently of this legislation - which the Government has brought in and which the Opposition did not bring in even though it had three years - can go to the highest court of the land on a prerogative writ and seek a judicial determination of the manner in which he had been treated.
Apart from puzzling honourable members on this side as to what the real motives are, will the Deputy Leader of the Opposition and his party state once and for all whether they are in favour of a judicial review of administrative decisions and whether they are prepared to support the liberal principle that the individual citizen has the right to find out why a decision has been made and what the reasons are? Or does the Opposition stand for big government and big bureaucracy, described as long ago as 1927 by Lord Hewart as the growing despotism, in respect of which the citizen can find out nothing? I think this demonstrates the philosophical gap between this side of the House and the Opposition side. The Government stands for the right of the individual. We have established the Administrative Appeals Tribunal. We have appointed a Commonwealth Ombudsman. We have extended the application of the Administrative Decisions (Judicial Review) Act because we believe the citizens of this country are entitled to open government, to know what is done about them and why it is done. We believe they should be given the reasons for the decisions. I suggest that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition reveals ulterior motives and I think the whole basis of his brief speech, in relation to the amendments to the Schedule, is that he and other members of the Labor Party want to find out what it really is that Bob Hawke says behind their backs, behind closed doors, at NLCC meetings.
– I take this opportunity to defend myself. The honourable member for Denison (Mr Hodgman) always has a full quota of words but not a full quota of sense. In fairness to him, I point out that we made the point that we supported the 1977 legislation but the Government never even promulgated the Bill. That was three years ago. The honourable member talks about justice for the little man! We made the further point that this Bill is reversing the onus of proof which the honourable member, as a lawyer, knows makes it very difficult. We also opposed this Bill by calling a division before 6 o’clock this evening. I thought the honourable member would have thought that that at least demonstrated that we were taking an interest. We certainly do not find the Bill boring and we found it stimulating enough to call a division. If the honourable member wishes to stimulate me a bit further we could be here until 10 o’clock but there is other business.
Let us place it on record - the honourable gentleman seems to have a suspicious mind, I suppose it is election fever - that when we talked about the matter that we objected to, that is foreign takeovers, we were acting in accordance with the decision of the Administrative Review Council. It recommended that they not be excluded. So, what is the honourable gentleman complaining about? Finally, I am not trying to teach the honourable gentleman his law because he is an expert, but section 75 (v) of the Constitution does not necessarily give those prerogative writs against people who are not officers of the Commonwealth. I am not worried about Mr Hawke or anybody else. It was recommended also by the Administrative Review Council that these issues should be the subject of judicial review.
- Mr Millar, I wish shortly to indicate the Government’s attitude towards the amendments. We cannot accept them. The same amendments were moved in the Senate by the Opposition and they were answered there by the Attorney-General (Senator Durack). No new arguments have been advanced by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Lionel
Bowen) to cause the Government to change its mind. Therefore, the amendments will not be accepted.
Bill agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill (on motion by Mr Viner) - by leave - read a third time.
Debate resumed from 22 May, on motion by Mr John McLeay:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– The purpose of the Preference to Australian Goods (Commonwealth Authorities) Bill is to require Commonwealth authorities to give preference to Australian made goods in respect of their procurements. The Opposition welcomes this legislation. The members of the Opposition believe that Australian manufacturing industries must be given an opportunity to participate in the growth of the Australian economy which should, if the appropriate policies are pursued, result from a generous endowment of human and natural resources. There are two important means of achieving this. One concerns preferences in Commonwealth procurement for Australian made goods; and the other the related policy of securing offset arrangements for Australian producers when major items of equipment are purchased from overseas.
Before discussing these policies in more detail I must indicate that although we in the Opposition welcome the legislation we consider that it is at least three years late. I can substantiate this by pointing out that the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) promised a new procurement preference policy in his notorious 1977 election policy speech. It was notorious for the number of broken promises that it contained. The litany of soon-to-be-broken promises in that speech included the undertaking that an effective Commonwealth procurement policy giving preference to Australian made goods would be introduced. It has taken almost three years for any such legislation of lasting note to come before the Parliament. I know that there has been legislation relating to other government procurement, but when I say legislation of lasting note I mean legislation of comprehensive note. It is enormously important, as I shall show again in a moment, that Commonwealth authorities be included in that decision of general preference to Australian made goods. As the notorious 1977 election campaign continued the Prime Minister fell over himself with enthusiasm on this subject. On 29 November 1977, in the program This Day Tonight, he said:
Now we have adopted a policy of buying Australian for all Government purchases, unless it just isn’t something made in this country, or some other overriding reason why we have to buy overseas.
Frankly, this promise proved little better than the grammar of the sentence I have just read. Nearly three years later we find ourselves debating proposed legislation for a more comprehensive procurement policy. The Government sought to introduce its guidelines after the last election, but only now is it introducing the legislation needed to enforce those guidelines. Much water has flowed under the bridge since then. The many opportunities that would have arisen for Australian industry if the legislation had been brought in earlier have been lost forever. The Prime Minister’s premature and, I allege, misleading claims about this policy were not isolated ones because in the This Day Tonight program to which I have just referred, he promised inflation of 6 per cent and a sustained reduction in unemployment ‘once the summer hump is over’. There have been many summer humps since then. Each one has been bigger than the one before. Last night’s Budget promises us yet another summer hump.
This Government is becoming famous for summer humps, which really means that it has presided over and caused the most tragic level of unemployment experienced in this country since the Depression. One of the reasons is that the Government has been slow to develop an effective program of procurement preference for Australian goods. In the words of the Minister for Administrative Services (Mr John McLeay): . . it has become apparent that there is some unevenness in compliance by the various Commonwealth Authorities.
The Government has been similarly tardy in its efforts to develop effective offset programs. Offsets are agreements which provide for parts or other products to be produced in Australia when major equipment items are procured overseas. This policy instrument is closely related to local procurement preference. Both policies allow Australian manufacturers to increase their participation in the supply of goods to the Commonwealth, including higher technology items, such as computers and defence and telecommunications equipment.
The importance of government procurements to Australian industry cannot be overstated. These are presently valued in the order of $5 billion a year, which is a very significant proportion of the total demand for the products of our industries. This close relationship between government spending and the level of economic activity in the private sector has never been understood nor given appropriate recognition by this Government. Instead this Government has peddled what I consider to be the phoney view that if the public sector is cut the private sector is miraculously encouraged to increase its level of activity. This is a view which is completely nonsensical and one which costs Australia dearly. Needlessly it has cost Australia dearly for the past five years. By reducing demand in the public sector and by failing to ensure that this demand is increasingly met by local production all that is achieved is further damage to Australian industry. We have seen that continuously over the five years that this Government has been in office.
It is possible that in one area at least - namely, defence - government procurements will increase in the future even in the unlikely event that the Fraser Government is returned to office for a further term. In this area it is of utmost importance that the supply of goods and materials from local sources be maximised. In the defence area pioneering technologies often are involved. These include advanced electronics, simulators and computers. Unless Australia seeks to develop its capability in these areas it will lose out not only in terms of lost opportunities in its manufacturing industries but also in terms of its defence force effectiveness. Reliance on foreign sources for our defence equipment, parts and material is clearly foolish in these uncertain times.
Since preparing the speech I am delivering today I have learnt of yet another example of how the sell-out of Australian technology, of an Australian industry, has forced us into foreign hands. I am referring to technology relating to the aluminium industry. Members of this House will be aware that there used to be Australian Government ownership of the aluminium industry at Bell Bay in Tasmania. It was sold out by the Menzies Government. In the days when we had that enterprise it led the world in aluminium technology. Sadly - sadly only from the point of view that the technology is not ours but gladly in many other ways- as we move into an era in which there will be enormous new enterprises in the technology field we find that we have to import that new technology. We have to do so because we sold out to overseas concerns something which was Australian. I am reminded by the honourable member for Lalor (Mr Barry Jones) that what we are advocating here applies also to solar equipment. We have had to sell a 50 per cent interest in the Solahart company to the Shell organisation. This has been done more recently. It could have remained an Australian organisation and many new jobs could have been built on this Australian technology and inventiveness. There are more examples of this Government’s opposition to the attitudes of the Australian Labor Party. The Government from which we in this country have suffered so long does not have the national feeling of the Australian Labor Party. With governments of that complexion we have seen Australian inventiveness and Australian research and development decline. Technological developments and jobs have gone overseas. In many cases the Australians who have been going overseas to work for those companies would have been far happier to stay in Australia and pursue their inventiveness in their own country. The Bill indicates that there are no simple solutions to many of the issues of ensuring the help of government purchasing in this area.
We concede that application of an acrosstheboard offset rule to defence purchases would be of limited value, particularly if the whole of the offset occurs in low technology areas of limited strategic and industry development value. We do not have the economies of scale in this country to be able to compete. Similarly, it is of little use our having offset rules or procurement preference rules if Australian manufacturers are not given adequate time to develop proposals which will enable them to participate fully. I am not pretending in any way that it is an easy problem to solve. Even though this problem has been tackled belatedly, I sympathise with the Minister about some of the complex problems he had to overcome before the legislation was drawn up. I repeat that I believe that the decisions have been tackled belatedly.
It is no good saying: ‘Why did this not happen in the early 1 970s or, indeed, back in the 1 960s when a government of the same complexion as this Government was in office?’ In the three years in the early 1970s during which the Labor Government was in office we were for most of that time in a full employment situation. There was not the same need for us in this Parliament to apply our thoughts to industry policy. I repeat that we had full employment during that time and indeed the international economic downturn which came in 1974 and continued through 1975 and is still with us, due to Government policies since then, has forced this Parliament and the people of this country to turn their minds to other means in order to ensure that there is greater restraint in production. This is one means of ensuring just that.
The present Government, I believe, has deferred decisions on many equipment items in the defence area so that we are now faced, over the next few years, with a massive and sudden increase in procurements of about $4 billion. The uneven flow of work due to the succession of delays and now mass orders seriously damages the capacity of local firms to participate in tenders for procurements and offsets. For example, the poor planning in the election-geared delays in replacement aircraft orders has put our capacity for meaningful participation in engine production at considerable risk. The best offer on the fighter replacement appears merely to be assembly in this country. Having stressed the need for offset and procurement policies which are effective and implemented within a more planned environment I now turn to the detail of this Bill.
In essence the Bill aims to enforce the Government’s policy for procurement preference in respect of Commonwealth statutory authorities. There are two elements of this policy. Firstly, it calls for preference to be given to goods of Australian origin or of relatively greater Australian content unless there are substantial reasons for the contrary. Secondly, it requires tender specifications to be drawn up so as not to exclude Australian suppliers - which are suitable or reasonably adaptable. The problem has been that many statutory authorities have not complied with this policy. That is why the legislation is needed. In large measure this was the result of legal advice obtained by these authorities which told them that they could side-step the guidelines and which indicated that a best-buy approach, therefore, was required in their charters and that their charters should take precedence over the announced government policy. That was the advice they got and the side-stepping that they carried out.
It has therefore become necessary to pass enabling legislation to ensure that statutory authorities conform to government policy on preference to Australian manufacture. Since statutory authorities are responsible for more than twothirds of total government procurement, this was a very substantial problem that had to be overcome. Given that the statutory authorities were able to get this legal advice and to act on it, I must say that it raises in my mind how remarkable it is that the Government was unaware of the problem at the time the guidelines were formulated three years ago. Those statutory authorities which have not complied are by no means the smaller ones.
Telecom Australia was among them. This involves one of the most important and fast growing industries in both the service and manufacturing sectors. I recognise that Telecom has given strong support in other ways to Australian industry, but its rejection of the procurement preference policy was nevertheless a significant weakening of the effectiveness of this policy.
I am glad that the Minister is here tonight. I have heard rumours that one of the problems at the late stage of this legislation has been the attitude of Telecom. I would be glad if the Minister, in replying to this debate, could tell me whether that problem did arise at a late stage and, if so, whether it has been overcome. There has been a lot of to-ing and fro-ing about this legislation. He, I and others in this Parliament know that it was to be debated yesterday, then today. Then it was off, but now it is on again. I believe that may not have been just due to problems of the timetable. It may have been due to problems that the Minister was having with certain statutory authorities. It would be good if he could come clean with us- if I may use that term- and tell us some of the difficulties he has had because I believe in open government and 1 am sure that he does too.
Under the legislation that we are debating the procurement policy is intended to take precedence over the charter of statutory authorities. Clauses 4 to 7 deal with the tendering provisions. Both the open tender and list tender systems are provided for. The latter system is open to possible abuse and it is to be hoped that the Minister for Administrative Services will, in accordance with his powers under clause 7, exercise a close monitoring role over this system. This power given to the Minister under clause 7 is very broad. Its intention, as I understand it and as I see it set out in the explanatory memorandum of the Bill - which I was glad to receive - is to allow the Minister to defer or reject tenders if he forms the impression that purchase procedures in relation to a particular procurement have not been conducted in accordance with the policy. The clause in the Bill does not set out any such specific guidelines which should govern the Minister. At the same time it provides for intervention only before the tender is accepted. This is a broad power with a short time span for oversight.
It is to be hoped that the Minister will provide adequate departmental resources to ensure that such a provision is effective. It would be very useful, once again in the spirit of open government, if there could be some means of our knowing about some of these ministerial decisions and what difficulty the Minister is having in complying with the general spirit of this Act because of the administrative difficulties with which he and his Department will have to contend. In all charity I would hope that very soon it will be a different Minister who administers this Act and, of course, a Minister from this side of the House. 1 want to make it clear, in case it is I who is doing so, that I am aware of the difficulties that I will have to contend with.
Clauses 8 to 1 3 provide for the other half of the procurement policy, the preference to goods of Australian origin. 1 understand that the amendments which the Minister is to move at the Committee stage - I thank him for his courtesy in letting me have an advance copy of those amendments and offering help with my understanding them - quantify this preference which is to be implemented through a 20 per cent reduction in the tender price in respect of the Australian content in a tender. The Opposition supports these provisions and the level of assistance which is proposed.
There has been some debate in the manufacturing community regarding the method of calculation of Australian content. It is of some concern that in some quarters there is scope for firms to, for instance, overstate the level of Australian content by inflating the price of Australian content and perhaps then compensating when it comes to the total price by understating the price for any import content. So clause 1 S provides some check on this by providing for unsuccessful tenderers to be given information on the Australian content claimed by successful tenderers. However, we in the Opposition believe that this area of the policy should be closely monitored and if necessary a change in the legislation should be made to provide greater disincentives to any firm abusing the benefits afforded by the policy.
I come finally to this point: The Bill provides for almost unlimited powers to be given to the Minister to exempt either authorities or specific procurements from the provisions of the legislation if commercial viability or functions are affected. The procurement preference policy is a form of industry protection and any such policy of course has a cost. This cost is borne by the purchasers of the goods concerned while the benefits accrue to the firms and employees in the supplying industries. Such a policy does have some effect inevitably on the commercial viability and functions of a statutory authority. Under clause 1 6, therefore, the Minister’s exemption powers are very broad indeed. The Opposition hopes that such exemption provisions are not used unless circumstances are exceptional. We would prefer that the Government got close to the firms concerned and made sure to the greatest extent possible that we were able to achieve greater productivity, scale economies, lower prices and so on so that we could have our cake and eat it too. In other words, we should achieve the objective of making sure that we are stimulating Australian jobs for Australian production and for Australian needs, but at the same time not penalising Australian consumers by allowing ourselves to buy Australian at a cost which is greater than the imported price.
– We have an identical view there.
– It is nice to hear that we hold that identical view. As honourable members know and as I stated earlier, the Opposition is not opposing this legislation. I just hope that some of the ideas that we have arrived at after studying this legislation, as of course is our duty, will be helpful for its general administration. Indeed, it is difficult to envisage circumstances in which such a provision as the one 1 have just referred to would be needed, since the 20 per cent level of preference in choice of tender systems seems a very reasonable and flexible parameter for the policy. We hope that these clauses will not have to be used by the Government to weaken what is already long overdue legislation.
In summary, the Opposition firmly believes that effective procurement preference and offset policies are an essential component of a package of policies for Australian industry. Accordingly, the Opposition supports this Bill which seeks to overcome some of the major weaknesses which have existed in the policy up until now. However, as honourable members would have gathered from what I have said to date, a number of concerns remaining in the areas specifically dealt with by this Bill do worry us. We urge that these areas which I have outlined be monitored closely in the early stages of the implementation of the new legislation.
I have one final thought. When the Australian Labor Party takes over the responsibility of national government - I have stated that I hope for the vast majority of people, as we have noticed from the polls, it will be this year- and if I have the role in this area, I shall be seeking to persuade all State governments to think Australian and to adopt parallel legislation and guidelines in relation to procurement not only by government departments but also by their statutory authorities. It is in the national interest. In fact, it is in the interests of efficiency and of increased productivity and competitiveness that all those State governments should think not just traditionally or regionally, and in terms of buying just their local
State products, but in terms of buying Australian so that each State can specialise in its own area and so that we can get those scale economies, the lowest possible prices and the greatest productivity for the benefit of Australian consumers. I repeat: The Opposition supports this Bill.
– We are debating the Preference to Australian Goods (Commonwealth Authorities) Bill. I stress that because the honourable member for Adelaide (Mr Hurford), who preceded me in this debate seemed very vague about it. The purpose of this Bill is to provide a measure of preference to producers of Australian goods and services and to their employees. I will come back to the word measure’ later. Let me assure honourable members that it is not about offset policies, as the Opposition would have us believe. In 1976, in definite contradiction to what the honourable member for Adelaide said, the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) announced a policy of preference to Australian goods, a policy traditionally based on giving selective assistance in special circumstances; and this was acted upon.
In 1977 the Prime Minister announced in his election policy speech a different approach, a more positive approach, to such preference; that is, there would be preference to Australian goods unless there were substantial reasons to the contrary. This had the extra effect of motivating companies to examine the possibility of increasing the use of Australian goods. This sounded good, and was good, but this Government found that in practice it was not as effective as had been hoped. There were many reasons for that, and I am sure that honourable members received as many complaints from tenderers as I did. While the intent was there, in practice things differed to some extent. This Government, acting in a responsible manner and ever conscious of the real life position, decided to introduce overriding legislation to facilitate and to ensure compliance by Commonwealth authorities with the preference policy, except where specific exemptions were granted.
To some extent this Bill puts existing policy and practice into legislation. However, there is a very real problem with the States and their parochial interests. This is because some States have initiated their own purchasing preference schemes to favour their own manufacturers. This reduces the efficiency of Australian industry overall by encouraging a greater degree of industry fragmentation and significantly distorts the trade position. However, it is the practical implementation of any policy that really counts. This Government is due to make available a long promised booklet entitled How to do Business with the
Commonwealth Government. I sincerely hope that it picks up a vast range of practical problems for the many tenderers for government projects. This is really big business, for the Government has a total purchase approaching $5 billion, of which $1.5 billion is by the authorities and $3.5 billion by Commonwealth departments. The very number of projects and tenderers and the total value of those tenders are in themselves cause for a close look at the whole tendering arrangement and, beyond this, at our duty to Australia as a whole, and at our attitude to the protection of industries as such and the protection of the jobs they represent.
I was involved for many years with tendering around the world and in my present position as a member of parliament I have been made very aware of Commonwealth tendering. Every time rules are laid down, I have seen those rules produce less than the best outcome. In private enterprise the successful tenderer is the one who will be providing the most advantages to that company buying his goods or services. This advantage covers a huge range of considerations such as design, experience, quality, service, financial backing - the list goes on and on. Therefore, I was pleased to see in the second reading speech of the Minister for Administrative Services (Mr John McLeay) talk of ‘flexibility to cope with special cases’. In line with that, Australia, as a buyer of goods or services, is right to give preference to Australian-made goods. But we must make some rules to ensure that everyone gets a fair go; that is, everyone must know the ground rules.
There are a number of situations associated with this Bill. I will briefly mention some of them in the hope that the actual implementation of the legislation will make the necessary allowances. Clause 2 states:
This Act shall come into operation on a date to be fixed by Proclamation.
The Minister, in his second reading speech, talked about a 20 per cent preference margin, and there will be an amendment to incorporate this margin in legislation. I see we already have a copy of that. But as this Bill is about this one figure basically, I am glad that the amendment will be introduced during the Committee stage.
Clause 4 is based on the fact that many tenders, if not most, are drawn up with a popular make, brand or style of product in mind. This is done in this way mainly for ease in drawing up a tender, sometimes because one manufacturer has involved himself essentially as a consultant and sometimes because that manufacturer is the standard or the ultimate in the market. This leads, of course, to many hassles in tendering. Therefore, clause 4 is inserted so that goods of Australian origin are not excluded by this specification.
However, this clause should really be extended, and I hope it is covered in the booklet on government tendering. It should be extended so that no suitable goods, Australian or otherwise, are excluded. As an example, a tender may call not for a casting but for a forging, the equipment for which is not available in Australia. This precludes an Australian tender, and often for no good technical reason. On the other side, an item may require a certain tolerance as part of its specification. One tenderer will buy from overseas because he knows that that is the only way to obtain that tolerance. Another tenderer from Australia knows that he cannot meet that tolerance but tenders anyway and gets the contract on Australian preference only. Later, when this tenderer cannot produce, the tolerance is waived to the detriment of performance and of other tenderers. I know that that has happened. Perhaps proposed new section 5 (3) covers this in some circumstances, but it seems to do so in a back to front way.
Clause 6, which deals with the list of registered tenderers, may be innocent enough. One of the possible problems is the ability of the authority to assess the financial status of the supplier. In marginal cases the decision has to be made whether to support the Australian supplier with minimum financial backing ahead of an overseas company with good and acceptable backing. Will the authority decide that it will not make waves and go by the preference rules, crying ‘shame’ when the Australian tenderer goes broke? Eventually, in some areas overseas companies will be driven from the scene as they fail to be awarded tenders. However, I know that they are still being asked by departments to continue tendering, at a large cost to themselves, so that the Australian monopoly company will be kept honest, as one department put it recently.
Further to this, though covered by another ministry, is the by-law exemption arrangement whereby a company obtains by-law exemption for importing an item if that item cannot be made in Australia. Many examples exist of departments taking the ‘yes’ of an Australian manufacturer when there is no way he could ever manufacture a certain item. It is a selfish approach for no good reason. A department may ask for a yes or no with no thought of size of order, tooling arrangement, whether it is part of another order, delivery, et cetera. I know one manufacturer who now deliberately says that there is no way in which an item can be made in Australia- it does not matter whether it can or not - because he believes that that will help some businesses in Australia.
Clause 7, which deals with the postponement of tenders, should include something on the validity period of tenders because some problems have come to light. Generally the tenderer places a date for the validity of tender or accepts the validity date nominated under the conditions of contract. After this date the tender is no longer valid. If the tenders have not been assessed by this date the tenderers are usually contacted regarding a new date for validity. When this is accepted, assessment of tenders continues. If the situation has changed by the end of the first validity period the tenderer can increase his price or keep it the same, and this price will be the tender price until the end of the new validity period. In effect, it is a new tender, and this is acceptable to both parties. However, another situation exists whereby the changing conditions at the end of the first validity period result in a lower price. This could be caused by new manufacturing equipment becoming available, lower tariffs, overseas purchases, restructuring of the tenderer’s company, and so on. It would seem that such lower price with the second validity period is just as acceptable a new tender as the first situation. Departments do not generally see it that way.
Let me now return to the measure of preference mentioned earlier. Customs tariff is protection for Australian producers against overseas competition. Adding the Australian preference is saying essentially that the protection is not high enough. These protection rates can become very high. I take as an example a contract which has the same costs, say $100,000, whether supplied from overseas or Australia. If we take a customs tariff figure of 30 per cent, which is certainly not the highest rate, the tender price of the overseas product would then be $130,000, but with the 20 per cent Australian preference the Australian tender would be counted as $80,000. This would mean that the overseas price would be 63 per cent higher than the Australian price, which will almost invariably lead to selection of Australian products. But will it lead to Australian products becoming more competitive or will we end up with monopoly situations, with Australian manufacturers charging more and more as all existing overseas competitors give up in disgust? Will it stop the transfer of technology, and the other advantages of having some overseas competition? I am glad that the Minister for Administrative Services (Mr John McLeay) explained the clause 16 exemptions. In his second reading speech he said:
These exemption provisions are designed to allow the necessary flexibility to deal with special cases whilst not detracting from the overall impact of the policy.
I hope that proposed new section 16 (1) (b), which talks about authorities performing their functions, includes the function of doing the best for Australia overall. I hope that the departments and authorities will not rigidly apply the rules but will use flexibility to ensure the best for Australia, considering all aspects. To ensure this flexibility there must be much more discussion with tenderers. This will require some change in the general procedures as these discussions must take place - I stress this point - during the evaluation of tenders. All too often we see cases of a tender being awarded and its soft spots then being pointed out by the losing tenderers. The department becomes defensive, in spite of appreciating the criticism, and feels that it has to maintain its stand, unfortunately to the detriment of Australia. To implement the flexibility called for by the Minister in this Bill, there will need to be changes within the departments and the authorities. This Bill, which gives preference to Australian goods, tidies up some of the policies and directions with which departments and authorities were working. A flexibility is written into the Bill which should allow many aspects of tenders to be assessed for the overall good of Australia. I commend the Bill to the House.
– I think we ought to swab the honourable member for Hotham (Mr Roger Johnston). His comments were a most left-handed way of supporting a Bill that carries with it a responsibility not only to look at the method of tendering but also to ensure that what flows from it gives the advantage of looking at a broader direction of employment. The Australian Labor Party supports thoroughly the attempt of the Preference to Australian Goods (Commonwealth Authorities) Bill to increase the Australian content of purchases by Commonwealth authorities. It is an excellent principle which can only bolster the prospect of providing increased employment in Australia and boost the economy if pursued with appropriate determination. I have some reservations about those areas of the Bill which appear to lack that resolve and determination.
The aims of the Bill are commendable. There are guidelines for responding to tenders, for allowing for percentages of Australian content, for duty to be added to imported goods if that is not included in the tender price, and for authorities to be more conscious of the need to prefer Australian made and maximum Australian content. But there are a number of matters which concern us. These are fourfold. Firstly, I ask myself: If the Government is so concerned about this problem why has it taken four years to bring this legislation forward from the time the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) first announced the Australian preference policy in September 1976? Secondly, a survey by the Department of Administrative Services revealed a group of statutory authorities which qualified its response to adhering to the Australian preference policy. Thirdly, another group of authorities indicated that it was unable to comply with the policy. Fourthly, I am disturbed at the exemptions clause of the Bill which allows the Minister to grant exemptions to authorities under certain circumstances. I am not suggesting for one moment that there ought to be restrictions in terms of envisaging a possibility whereby Commonwealth departments or other instrumentalities might well be in a tendering position. I would like the Minister to explain to me whether that exemption is available to those bodies and whether they would be restricted in their participation.
– I think that is spelt out in clause 1 6 of the Bill.
– I am indebted to the Minister. I did read that clause. Perhaps the Minister will be good enough to elaborate on that aspect during his reply. The first area of concern reflects on the Government’s sincerity in introducing this legislation. The Minister, in his second reading speech, said:
The Prime Minister announced a policy of giving preference to Australian-made goods in September 1976. This policy was based on the traditional approach of giving selective assistance in special circumstances. Over the succeeding year, however, it become clear that the policy was not sufficiently effective Accordingly, in October 1977, the Government decided to adopt a more positive preference policy, and this was announced by the Prime Minister in his election policy speech in 1 977. In accordance with this, government departments and authorities were instructed to:
give preference in Commonwealth procurement to goods of Australian origin or of relatively greater Australian content unless there were substantial reasons to the contrary; and
to draw up tender specifications so as not to exclude Australian supplies suitable for or reasonably adaptable to their needs.
The Minister then went on to say that it had since been discovered that the guidelines spelt out as policy and not in legislation were not operating effectively with several Commonwealth authorities.
Let me underline the fact that the Labor Party regards this legislation as vital and the spirit of it as paramount. But this sequence of government inactivity casts doubt about the motivation of this Government to the principle of preference for
Australian-made content. This legislation has come forward four years after the Prime Minister first expressed his policy and three years after it was promised in an election policy speech. Surely it has not taken three years for a caring government, monitoring the effects of this important policy, to discover that the policy is not working in certain areas and requires specific legislation. Is it in fact just a coincidence that the last time action was taken in this area and promises were made was at the last Federal election? No points for guessing what season we are in at the moment. One would be excused for being rather cynical about the fact that this legislation has arrived at the appropriate time. This sequence of events also reflects the Government’s inefficient preference for policy pronouncements in place of legislation. Had there been legislation earlier, certain Commonwealth authorities would not have been able to continue their practice of ignoring Australian content. So I believe the Opposition has every right to be cynical of the Government’s motives in bringing this legislation forward now. I argue that a caring, vigilant government would have discovered in much less than three years that some authorities could not or would not comply with the policy guidelines. The commitment to Australian content and Australian made and the broader questions of an offset policy which also applies within this legislation are too important to allow three year gaps to occur before loopholes and difficulties are closed and overcome. Indeed, this legislation is and will remain impotent unless action is taken in other areas to ensure that it can be and will be observed.
This touches on the second and third areas of concern which I expressed - the departmental survey which revealed that a group of authorities qualified its resources to adhering to the policy and that another group were unable to comply with the policy at all. This is a most serious matter yet the reasons why these problems occurred have not been spelt out by the Minister or the Government. Therefore we are left to speculate. Why did a group of authorities qualify its resources? I believe it is the Minister’s responsibility to outline the reasons to the House, to the Parliament and to the people of Australia. With unemployment at record levels, it is the proper responsibility of government to take all measures possible to increase employment opportunities. If some authorities were having difficulties meeting the policy guidelines, what new guidelines are included in this legislation to overcome those difficulties? The young people of this country are entitled to know why they are not going to have the opportunity of employment in the future. The announcement made by Telecom Australia in the last few days shows that if there is a determined policy and that policy is carried forward to its logical conclusion to ensure that there is maximum Australian participation then there will be a future for young people coming out of the universities and the education areas that cover the development of technologies which are vital to the defence and security of this country. As I see it, this legislation, albeit commendable in principle, simply legislates the guidelines into law. It spells out further detail but there is nothing in that detail or in anything the Minister has told the House to indicate whether the difficulties some authorities are experiencing have been covered and overcome. At face value they do not appear to be. The authorities who qualified their responses also concern me. I do not see where the problems have been overcome either. Is the difficulty the problem that Australian companies face in these days of uncontrolled growth from transnational companies? It should be clear to all by now that transnationals are treated with cotton-wool love by this Government. The irony is that the cottonwool love is applied to tender, defenceless babies, and transnational corporations could never be described as ‘tender’, ‘defenceless’ or ‘babies’. We heard the honourable member for Hotham (Mr Roger Johnston) talking about Australian industries possibly having a further advantage. He spoke tongue in cheek about Australian participation and Australian made and what might be the feather-bedding of Australian industries. Let us face it: If we are not going to go out positively in this way then it becomes a joke, just as the offset policy is a joke at present. The ‘babies’ in this case are the Australian Government Ministers. The pandering to that section of the business world could be one reason why there was a guarded, qualified response from some authorities and a reluctance by the Minister to outline the reasons behind that response. The purpose of this legislation does not appear to have been served by the legislation itself because if there are serious reasons why those responses were given they do not, at face value, appear to have been covered in the Bill. I put it to the Minister that if they have been so covered, he should spell out how, so that authorities can understand clearly their responsibilities in the matter. This measure has not been overdone because this Government is either serious or it is not serious about the important need to provide the facilities for local contract offsetting and for Australian industry to plan for future needs and projected procurements. This 1980-81 Budget again demonstrates the point: Support by the Government to maintain essential industries as a defence measure has been cut by 5.5 per cent in real terms to only $63.5m. This Government and the small percentage of the Australian community it represents have always scoffed at the concept of economic planning as socialist drivel. At the same time, we have seen business turn more and more to government for planning guidelines and the development of a network that provides that sort of organisation. It is essential to the security and development of industries involved in defence. The honourable member for St George (Mr Neil) was a member of the sub-committee of the Joint Parliamentary Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence that went through a great range of inquiries. It produced a very good report, but not one thing has been done about it.
– This is the Bill.
– Not one thing has been done since the report hit the light of day. I commend the work of the sub-committee of which the honourable member for St George was a member but, let us not kid ourselves, unless its recommendations are put into practical effect the questions asked and the recommendations made will fall to the ground. The irony of this situation is that it has probably escaped the minds of those who sit on the Government benches that their masters in big business, including the transnational companies, will be wanting to take them for a ride again. If there is to be a preference, the Minister for Administrative Services, for whom I have the utmost respect, will have to take a stand and ensure that we will not give effect to the principles outlined by the honourable member for Hotham. The Minister stated:
A further group indicated that they were unable to comply with the Government’s policy.
I wonder whom he is talking about. In that statement we have a classic example of the social consequences of the Government’s myopic policy. Central economic planning is essential if the ends are to be tied and if the economy is to work for the benefit of the total society and not simply for the selfish greed of a few. The examples I have spelled out typify that. We are talking of purchases of about $3, 300m a year by government authorities. Certainly it is not peanuts. It is scandalous that this spending cannot be restricted to Austraiian produced goods because the Government has not had the foresight to ensure that Australian industry is geared to meet the needs. There has been a running down over many years in a whole range of areas, particularly in regard to the technology that is fundamental and vital to defence requirements, including the items of defence procurement foreshadowed over the next five years.
Australia has untapped potential for implementing this policy in government establishments - in the defence, Telecom and Department of Transport workshops to name a few. For instance, the Department of Transport, along with the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, developed the world renowned InterScan air navigation system. The failure of this Government to give that development a proper marketing program is another story, but the development itself highlights the potential for innovation in this country. Telecom workshops have modified international telephone exchange systems for this country but, unfortunately, the modification is becoming the patented property of L. M. Ericsson, a transnational electronics company which will make billions of dollars profit internationally thanks to the Australian taxpayer and the technologists who are trained in this country. It is scandalous that this is allowed to go on.
There is enormous untapped potential in the workshops and in the technicians out in the field, as I have pointed out. For example, the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology and similar institutions are training people who have the potential to participate competitively in industrial research and development and to be able to lead the world in initiatives in those areas. Why should the young people of this country not participate in the natural growth in that way and have some resources channelled back into their fields? Many defence establishments work at nowhere near their potential capacity or else produce goods of little social value. In regard to the offset work that we talk about, at one time the munitions factory in Victoria produced lipstick cases as an offset against other areas and to keep people employed. That is a ridiculous state of affairs.
The potential to boost Australian production is being wasted because of the Government’s commitment to private enterprise and its refusal to allow industry to have the opportunity to develop and compete in a proper way. If that opportunity could be taken, much of the problem in my third area of concern would be overcome. Indeed, we would see much of the $3,300m circulating within the public sector and not being lost to the few overseas who benefit from private profits. Proper planning involves the pinpointing of the future needs of private industry and the involvement of industry in the overall planning program.
Private enterprise in the electronics industry, with participation from Telecom, has produced a magnificent report that lays out the scenario for the development by us of a technological base for ourselves for the future, instead of our being dragged along by the ears and playing second fiddle to overseas transnational organisations which are moving so quickly to control and own the manufacturing base of this country that it is not funny. I hope that we will finish up reversing the situation. Something like 50 per cent of the manufacturing industry in this country is owned by transnational companies or major foreign investors. I ask honourable members to consider the Japanese and American situations. In both cases, foreign investors control only 4 per cent of industry. The situation in Australia is a joke. We have allowed it to get out of hand. But I believe there is a way to retrieve the situation.
My fourth area is concerned more with interpretation than with principle. In itself, the principle of ministerial exemption under extraordinary circumstances is not indefensible. What concerns the Opposition in this case is how the Minister and the Government will interpret the legislation in the short time that they will have to administer it. I hope that either the honourable member for Adelaide (Mr Hurford) or 1 will be doing precisely that in a couple of months. Given the doubts I have raised - the four-year gap between promises and legislation, the silence about the reasons the government guidelines have failed in certain circumstances and the apparent failure of the legislation to wrestle with these problems - the Opposition believes that nothing will change. lt is the Government’s real intent that worries us. We do not trust it. We have become too accustomed to seeing this Government capitulate when the interests of the nation clash with the interests of transnational or local investors. In these circumstances I believe that it is reasonable for the Opposition to be concerned at the introduction of provisions which may make the legislation a toothless tiger and unworkable. We would feel much more comfortable if the circumstances under which ministerial exemptions can be granted were spelled out clearly, allowing no room for philosophical manipulation.
Put simply, the Opposition believes that in those circumstances, this legislation probably does not go far enough. However, many of the questions I have raised this evening can be answered by the Minister for Administrative Services. I hope, as I have said before, that we will have an opportunity in the field of Australian tendering to ensure that no restriction is placed on organisations such as Telecom or other statutory authorities, government departments and the like to participate to this end. If that is to be the case, the Opposition commends the legislation in principle. I hope that the honourable member for St George will express some of the views that were expressed by the sub-committee when looking at this question. The Opposition agrees with the general principles of the legislation and certainly does not oppose it, but it has some reservations, to which I have directed my attention. I hope that the Minister will be able to answer the questions I have raised.
– The Preference to Australian Goods (Commonwealth Authorities) Bill is one of the most important Bills to come before the House in many years. It is designed to assist in the development of the Australian nation, in particular as we move into the high technology areas. I am pleased that the Opposition supports the Bill. Surprisingly, the honourable member for Melbourne (Mr Innes) made some degree of sense in his remarks. I join the Opposition in adopting a bipartisan approach to the matter, particularly as it affects our defence industries significantly. I can assure the Opposition that honourable members on this side of the House take this legislation extremely seriously, that the Minister for Administrative Services (Mr John McLeay) and the Government view it as an extremely important piece of legislation. There can be no doubt about the real intent of this Government. The real intent of this Government is to assist Australian industry to move forward, to become more competitive and to have the opportunity to develop its industrial base in high technology areas in particular. The scheme will provide a preference of 20 per cent of the value of the Australian content in addition to duty. I appreciate that some honourable members and people in the community might say that if the duty is insufficient protection then it is a false approach to provide additional assistance. However, we must look at the overall state of Australian industry. Australia is an isolated country, a very important developing and developed country, that will move forward and must have a strong and vibrant manufacturing industry. We cannot rely upon overseas techniques and technology. We must be able to develop as much as possible a selfreliance in these fields. If it is necessary to provide a degree of preference, we will have to do this in the national interest.
I am not a complete, open, free trade proponent or a complete protectionist. I think most honourable members would look at each set of circumstances and try to adopt a reasonable middle course. The prime argument, of course, in favour of freer trade is world peace- the need to avoid economic conflicts between nations which might overflow into war-like activities. The prime argument in favour of protection of our industries is the need in our strategic interest to build up a balanced industrial base and to provide employment for our people. In the middle of this we have to find a proper balance of interests. Unfortunately, Australian industry, particularly in the high technology area, has been in a downward trend for some years. It is not uniform.
There are bright spots. Let us look at the bright spots at the outset and acknowledge them. In certain special areas we have developed very fine new ideas. The InterScan invention leads the world. The Mulloka system and the Barra sonar buoy led the world in their respective fields. We have in a small way developed some significant digital techniques. We have significant developments in the fibre optics area and in sonar and microwave techniques. But these have been in special areas where we have been able to research and develop to a degree. We are very limited in our capacity to transfer those developments into full engineering and full-scale production. We are limited in our ability to go out into world markets and promote those inventions in volume.
One of the problems is that we have small production runs in Australia. We suffer from competition from low wage countries in our vicinity, countries which employ workers in circumstances that would never be tolerated by the Australian trade unions. Therefore, we have to try to develop our industries fairly and reasonably, give them a reasonable level of protection without featherbedding them in such a way that they come to rely, in effect, on handouts and to become inefficient. I believe that the 20 per cent rule that the Government has adopted is a very proper rule and in all the circumstances is one that ought to be applied with success.
I will deal with a few points raised by Opposition members before moving on to matters directly related to the Bill. It is unfortunately necessary to criticise portions of the speeches of Opposition members because they attack the Government’s economic policy. They compared our economic policy with the policy of the Australian Labor Party. They claim that our economic policy is not providing sufficient development of industry and employment. Let us be aware of the fact that under the Labor Government our industries took such a nosedive that it appeared unlikely some of them could recover.
In particular, the electronics industry which is absolutely vital to any modern society was all but destroyed during the period the Labor Government was in office. The reasons for that are well known. There was massive inflation which made the industry completely uneconomic. It could not compete. There was an horrendous acrosstheboard 25 per cent tariff cut and overnight the components manufacturers in Australia went out of business. We have almost no indigenous electronic component industry left in this country. This produced massive unemployment with a consequent lack of confidence in those industries. They were not able to invest. They did not have the profit or the capability to reinvest. Therefore their machinery and equipment became older. They were not able to compete with the more modern techniques being introduced in Europe, America and Japan.
The currency fluctuations under the Labor Government caused havoc for both exporters and importers. Of course, the wages explosion in this country was such that those factories that employed large numbers of workers, particularly when combined with equal pay provisions, simply found that they could not compete. As I said before, equal pay was a desirable objective and the community demanded it. However, it was introduced too fast and when combined with all the other aspects of the tremendous economic crash of 1974 or thereabouts, the electronics industry in particular almost went to the wall. In order to resurrect that industry, we have had to take very important steps and we are a long way from seeing the final results. The Sub-Committee of the Joint Parliamentary Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence on which I had the privilege to serve, is composed of members of the Labor Party, Liberal Party and National Country Party. In the Sub-Committee’s report in October 1977, it stated:
The industry in Australia -
I refer to the electronics industry - was now more heavily dependent on overseas sources for the supply of its defence electronic and electromechanical equipment and of the supporting spares than at any time before or since World War fi.
In fact, during the war we had developed an extraordinary capacity, relative to the rest of the world. We developed quickly off a fair base before the Second World War, but since the War we have had a downturn and in particular during the Labor years there was a serious crash. That matter, which I will refer to again in a moment, was repeated in other industries. Not the least reason was that many other industries rely upon the electronics industry for their major componentary today.
A modern defence aircraft is at least 40 per cent electronics. It is incapable of competing in high intensity environments without appropriate radar, without all forms of detection devices, without jamming equipment, electronic counter measures, radar and laser or other forms of directional equipment for its weaponry. Therefore, the electronics industry has become vital to that air capability. Equally, it has become vital to the modern navy. The capability of one of our modern destroyers far exceeds that of a World War II battleship. Its potential for offensive capability is many times that of a World War II battleship, but it will have far fewer crew members than a World War II destroyer. The reason is that there is much more sophisticated equipment on the ship, enabling the use of fewer crew members, but in the main that equipment has to be provided from overseas sources. Fortunately, today we are able to develop more of our indigenous capacity. However, unless that capacity continues to grow we will find that we are totally reliant upon overseas supply for those extremely important components.
A number of matters were raised by the honourable member for Port Adelaide (Mr Hurford). He spoke about the present Government not being serious and not purchasing sufficient Australian equipment. Let me give just one example of what the Labor Government did to knock the pillars ou* from under Australian industry. It was the Labor Government that cancelled the DDL destroyer project, a magnificent potential project in which we were to design and build in Australia our own destroyers. Then in about 1974, when the Labor Government was in all sorts of economic trouble, because of its low priority for defence matters it cancelled the project outright. This caused despair in the shipbuilding industry. It set that industry back years. It accounted for many of the difficult problems this Government faced, and it prevented the industry from obtaining new equipment. Of course, a few years ago there was a very serious crash in the shipbuilding industry. Equally, it created tremendous tremors in the electronics and other systems areas. The Labor Government then ordered American ships - the FFG patrol frigates. This Government was faced with carrying on those orders. When the Government under the present Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) came into office there was no alternative. I cast no reflection on those American ships - they are good ships - but obviously it would have been preferable to have had our own ships built in Australia, providing work for our own people and developing our own indigenous capacity. So much for the Labor Party’s argument.
This Government is intent on trying to resurrect Australian industries and return Australia to full employment. Indeed, in the St George electorate, in the Commonwealth Employment Service offices at Campsie and Hurstville and the sub-office at Rockdale there have been very substantial reductions in the unemployment figures in the last three years. Unemployment is down by an average of 22 per cent, and the number of people on unemployment benefit in the St George electorate has dropped by about 30 per cent in the last three years. The variations in the figures, of course, are brought about because there are two sets of figures and we check one against the other to see the trend. The trend is one of very substantial reductions in unemployment, and the reason for that is that medium industry is getting on its feet again in that area. Indeed, one firm that came to me in 1976 seeking some assistance because it was almost broke is an electronics component manufacturer. It came to me only recently to say that it had got out of its problems and was expanding and looking for another factory. The firm had just entered into a contract to purchase another factory and would take on more employees. It was hopeful of starting an enterprise in Singapore, not to manufacture off-shore and export back to Australia but to develop into the Asian market. I am sure the honourable member for Melbourne (Mr Innes) would welcome that. Other industries in the area are doing exactly the same thing.
Only recently, as a result of the Government’s policies, I was informed of a very valuable potential development. It is possible that we could develop an indigenous hybrid industry in this country. Hybrids, of course, are microcircuits; they are different from microchips. They are essential to the new small-scale, high performance technology equipment. The potential for a hybrid industry has come about directly because of the Government’s insistence on a strong Australian industry participation program in the tactical fighter force arrangements.
The honourable member for Melbourne raised four points in his speech, and I will deal with them briefly. Firstly, he asked why there had been some delay. The reason for the delay is set out in the Minister’s second reading speech. The Government assessed the situation and found that there was inconsistency in the activities of various statutory corporations. We are eliminating that inconsistency, and I commend the Minister for that. Those comments answer arguments two and three put forward by the honourable member. He talked about exemptions, and we should be clear about this. I believe that there should be very limited exemptions from this Bill. I can see the point of exempting corporations that are under State law, I can see the point of exempting corporations that have to compete, but I do not see any great reason for exempting monopoly corporations.
The honourable member for Port Adelaide raised the question of Telecom Australia, and it is a disturbing matter. If Telecom should seek an exemption, I think it would have to discharge a very strong onus to obtain an exemption. I cannot imagine why Telecom, having a monopoly, should be entitled to an exemption. In broad terms, Telecom purchases about the same amount in value per year as the Department of Defence purchases. It purchases massive amounts of equipment. There should be no reason at all why Telecom would be entitled to an exemption. It is, I think, our largest purchasing statutory corporation. Indeed, one of the great virtues of this legislation is that, under the amendments, Telecom will have to refer any purchases above $100,000 if preference is an issue. At the moment, it has to refer only purchases above $500,000. There have been regrettable examples of Telecom purchasing overseas instead of within Australia. That does not assist us to build the vital electronics capacity in this country, not only so necessary to the civil side of our activities but also so absolutely vital to Australia’s defence capabilities, as I have outlined.
I wish to finish with a brief reference to the Committee to which the honourable member for Melbourne referred, the sub-committee of the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence. It is a sub-committee that has a good record. The Chairman is the honourable member for Kennedy (Mr Katter), and in fact the sub-committee is known as the Katter Committee. He is a very industrious Chairman. The honourable member for Corio (Mr Scholes), who is in the House, is also a member of that Committee. In the two reports presented in 1977 and 1979 the Committee emphasised the need for extra assistance to Australian industry so that the long term investment in upgrading facilities and manufacturing techniques could go ahead with confidence. We pointed out that the electronics industry needed greater exposure to update defence electronics and avionic-type equipment. We reaffirmed that in 1979. I remind the House that the Committee recommended a buy-Australian policy, and this legislation is a direct result of that recommendation. I support the legislation. It is very much in the interests of Australia and the Australian people. I congratulate the Opposition for supporting the Bill.
– I will delay the House only a couple of minutes. I would like to speak longer on this Bill, but there are other matters that the Government and the Opposition have agreed to bring forward. In his remarks the honourable member for St George (Mr Neil) made reference to the DDL program. I do not think that those remarks can be allowed to pass without correction. The DDL program was cancelled because Australia needed surface vessels for its Navy and the DDL program was going nowhere. I think the honourable member is aware of that. Certainly Senator Hamer, the former honourable member for Isaacs, has repeatedly confirmed that the DDL project was one of the most mismanaged projects ever undertaken in Australia and would not have resulted in the Australian Navy obtaining the ships it required in the time span in which they were required. Between 1969, when the project was confirmed by the Government - at that time the present Minister for Defence (Mr Killen) was Minister for the Navy - and 1972, when the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) was Minister for Defence, the cost of that project increased by 600 per cent. The design of the vessel was altered on no fewer than six occasions. It was no longer even comparable with the vessel which was originally planned and set down as a requirement. The costs and delays were of such a measure that the Government had to make a decision on whether it would proceed with the project. Because of total incompetence in management during the period of its planning, because cost escalations on figures given by Ministers in this House were of the order of 600 per cent without one rivet being driven at–
– They would still cost less than the FFG’s by miles.
– That statement is a projection which does not stand up to any form of examination and could only be made by a person seeking political capital out of the defence area and showing some degree of irresponsibility. When the Government came to office its first action was to order another FFG, not to restore or recommence a follow-on destroyer program, lt has subsequently ordered a second FFG.
– And a follow-on program.
– In the Minister’s most recent statement in the House the follow-on program has been deferred by five years to 1990 commencement. I suggest that the honourable member might look at that and that it might serve to indicate to people who have heard the remarks of the honourable member just how serious the Government is when this type of criticism is made in the House.
I also point out that it was this Government which decided not to fit the Mulloka system to the
FFG. It was pulled out because of delays caused by prime contractors who are also involved in the system which is now being fitted. The third and fourth ones subsequently ordered could have been fitted but the Government decided not to fit the Mulloka system. It might be a good system but it does not have any support from this Government.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
– by leave - I move:
I would like to place on record the fact that the Prime Minister has written to the States and asked them to support a particular philosophy. I commend it to the Opposition. I am pleased to see that the honourable member for Adelaide is nodding his head in agreement. If we can persuade the State governments to support the Commonwealth Government in its preference policies it would be a great blow in support of Australian industries. There may be honourable members opposite who are able to influence State Labor governments in that regard. I commend the amendments to the Committee.
– I thank the Minister for Administrative Services (Mr John McLeay) for his courteous response to the debate, even though he stretched the Standing Orders a little by doing so in the Committee stage. The Opposition has no difficulties with the amendments. We studied them all closely as we received an advance copy of them. The main changes probable weaken the main objective of the Bill. Nevertheless we recognise that there are good reasons for those changes. At the same time, we recognise that there have to be exemptions for some corporations, particularly where they compete with private enterprise. I am not sure that the Minister mentioned Trans-Australia Airlines but I imagine–
– That is one, it is true.
– It is one which, being in a very competitive situation, would have to be exempt. We understand that. In summary, the Opposition has no difficulties with these amendments and understands why they have been moved.
Amendments agreed to.
Bill, as amended, agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments; report - by leave - adopted.
Bill (on motion by Mr John McLeay)- by leave - read a third time.
- Mr Speaker has received the following messages from the Senate:
That in accordance with the provisions of section 8 of the Parliament House Construction Authority Act 1979, the Senate -
declares the preparation and excavation of the site of Parliament House to be a declared stage in the construction of Parliament House for the purposes of that section.
That, for the purpose of sub-section 8 (2) of the Parliament House Construction Authority Act 1979, the Senate-
– I present the final report of the assessors for the Parliament House Design Competition, dated 25 June 1980. The report was distributed to all honourable members during the winter adjournment. The documents relating to the first and second stages of the Design Competition have been tabled previously and this report will complete the parliamentary record.
(10.8)- I move:
That, for the purpose of sub-section 8 (2) of the Parliament House Construction Authority Act 1979, the House of Representatives -
That a message be sent to the Senate acquainting it of the resolution agreed to by the House of Representatives.
I indicate to the House that after the completion of the debate on this item I will be moving:
That, in accordance with section S of the Parliament Act 1974, the House of Representatives approves the proposal contained in the report of the Parliament House Construction
Authority presented to the House on 19 August 1980 for the construction on Capital Hill of a New and Permanent Parliament House.
I suggest that honourable members, in the course of their consideration of the motion which I have just moved, also take into account that this will be the final occasion when they can determine whether we are to have a Parliament House on the hill or by the lake. Those honourable members who have been in this House over the course of time will recall successive occasions when there has been fairly vigorous debate in the chamber concerning three sites - the top of the hill, the shore of the lake, if not the foot of the lake and the Camp Hill site, which is immediately behind the site of the present Parliament House.
I would suggest that when honourable members consider the principal part of the motion they take into account that we are on this occasion finally declaring that Capital Hill is to be it. Almost 80 years ago the Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia was constituted. There are a number of opportunities in this chamber when each of us participates in events which are significantly part of the history of this continent. To my mind this is one of those occasions. It has taken nearly that 80 years for the Parliament of Australia, as a nation, to find a permanent home. The motion that I have just moved will, I am sure, be a forerunner to the establishment of that permanent home.
When the Parliament was first convened on 9 May 1901 it met in the Exhibition Building in Melbourne and subsequently in the parliamentary buildings there. It was recognised that that was a temporary arrangement and that the Parliament should meet in its own building in a territory which at that stage was still to be acquired for the purpose of providing the seat of government for the colonies which had amalgamated in their State identities to form the Commonwealth of Australia through the Constitution which was adopted in 1901. In 1921 the Federal Capital Advisory Commission was established with a view to setting up as soon as possible a Federal parliamentary building in Canberra. An international competition for the design of a permanent parliament house was launched in 1914 but it was deferred with the outbreak of war.
Between 1914 and 1916a number of attempts were made to re-establish the competition. It was during this period that a Mr J. S. Murdoch was appointed Chief Commonwealth Architect and it is to Mr Murdoch that credit is given for the design of the provisional Parliament House, the building of course in which we are now in this chamber presently sitting. The original building was largely completed by 1927. Its opening marked 26 years to the day the opening of the first Commonwealth Parliament in Melbourne and the first occasion in the provisional Parliament House. The task of building a permanent parliament house was still left to posterity. The provisional building has required numerous extensions to fulfil the objective of housing the Federal Parliament.
In 1965 a joint select committee of Parliament was appointed to consider the need for a new parliament house. In its report to Parliament in 1970 the committee recommended that the project should proceed. Over eighteen months ago by a unanimous vote of this House a Parliament House Construction Authority was created. The principal function of the Authority is to control the design and construction of a new parliament house. This House also agreed that at each major stage in the design and construction of the new building the Parliament itself would be the authority to approve successive works - and that is the purpose of this motion today. The design competition for the new and permanent parliament house was the focus of the international architectural community; 961 architects from 28 countries registered for the competition; 329 of them submitted entries. It was recognised by the competition organisers that the design of the new Parliament House on Capital Hill is one of the most challenging and complex design tasks to have confronted architects in Australia in recent times. The use of the competitive process as a means of selecting a design or designer is, of course, not new to Australia and the Australian Capital Territory. Canberra itself was the subject of a design competition in the early 1900s.
In consultation with the Joint Standing Committee on the New and Permanent Parliament House, the Construction Authority appointed a panel of six assessors under the chairmanship of Sir John Overall to advise on the conduct of the competition and ultimately to select the competition winner. This Parliament is indebted to all of those groups and individuals for the fine work and dedication shown in the performance of their task, particularly the two parliamentary representatives, the Labor senator for Victoria, Senator Gareth Evans, and the honourable member for McMillan, Mr Simon, the Liberal member, who were members of the panel of assessors. The assessors chose as the winning design the entry submitted by Mitchell, Guirgola and Thorp. Mr Thorp, the nominated architect, is an Australian who, following his graduation as an architect from the University of Melbourne, has had extensive architectural experience in both Europe and
North America. It is pleasing to see that an Australian has had such a large part to play in this particular design project.
The design itself has been enthusiastically received throughout the Australian community. I believe it will have a very wide acceptance, if not unanimous support, of members and senators in this Parliament. The Government is also of the view that the design represents an excellent solution to a most difficult architectural problem, although we recognise that there will be some modifications made as the final sketch work proceeds. The external appearance of the building will make it a fitting Australian landmark in the national capital. Internally it provides accommodation not only for Ministers, members and senators and all the others who help make this Parliament work, but also just as importantly, provides a number of facilities for the public to come and see their Parliament in operation.
The Government believes that it would be most appropriate for both Houses of the Parliament to agree to proceed with the construction of this particular design. In fact in the Appropriation Bill for this financial year the Government is seeking $7. 7m to enable the Construction Authority to commence work on the project. Parliamentary approval today of the design will enable work to proceed immediately on the construction of this most significant building. Before I conclude there are two personal comments that I would like to make. The first is that as I intimated a moment ago in foreshadowing a motion that will be moved at the conclusion of the debate on this motion, there have been a number of us over the years who have looked at various sites and favoured one or other of them. During the time that I have been in the Parliament I have seen the parliamentary mood move from each one of those three sites. Of course, on each occasion there have been strong groups of members who have particularly favoured one or other sites.
To a very large degree I think that we need to recognise that once the Parliamentary Triangle was established and once a number of the sites on the foreshores of Lake Burley Griffin were determined for construction and subsequent occupation by other authorities and significant bodies within the Commonwealth, the opportunities of deciding where this new Parliament should be have largely and successively been determined for us although in part we have had a say in the siting of those successive buildings. In my view, if we envisage the Burley Griffin concept and look at the development of the Parliament, the lakeside setting is no longer a goer. I do not believe that it would be possible, without significantly prejudicing the concept of the Burley Griffin Parliamentary Triangle, to consider any longer the construction of the Parliament beside the lake. Of course it is possible that we could demolish this building.
– I had a lot of trouble with you.
– Well, you did. I was very much in favour of it and that is one of the reasons why I speak on it now. Sir Robert Menzies was one of those in the past who was also very much in favour of the lakeside site. I suspect that was because as much as anything he could see the House of Commons there with the Thames flowing by and he could see some similarity between the lake and the River Thames, and between the House of Commons and the prospective new Parliament site. In my view there are still two sites that are favourable. One is Camp Hill, which is immediately behind this building and which extends down to this building. The other is Capital Hill. To my mind the design that has been submitted to the Parliament and which we are now considering consolidates the prospects of the final determination of this Parliament on Capital Hill. As one of those who on successive occasions voted for other sites I would now like to say that I very strongly support both the design and siting on Capital Hill. The second thing I mention is that there are many people in the community who look at our Parliament and wonder whether the facilities that are about to be constructed are really necessary. Anybody who has worked in this Parliament, particularly as a parliamentarian, would know how extraordinarily difficult it is to function effectively with the added responsibilities that members in this place now are expected to deal with in the circumstances under which we now profess to practice our political art.
I think, importantly, people are now recognising Canberra as a national capital. Groups of people, constituents and others, come to Canberra and to this Parliament to discuss matters of significance to them and to this country. Unless there is adequate opportunity, not just for the Ministry but also for every member of this Parliament, to entertain, discuss and determine matters of importance to those people in circumstances adequate for the purposes, I do not believe members can adequately fulfil the responsibility with which they are charged. I trust that members of the community will recognise that we are not constructing a building to last just for the next few years. To my mind this new building is of tremendous importance to this country, lt is important not for the bricks, for the mortar, for the concrete or for whatever are its surrounds, but for the ability of members of all political persuasions to function more effectively in circumstances which will enable them to consider adequately the representations that undoubtedly will be made to them over the next few centuries. The new parliament house will undoubtedly serve as the principal site for the consideration of matters political in this nation.
Therefore, I very sincerely endorse the proposition that has been submitted to us for consideration tonight. I believe it is important and that it is supported not only by members of this Parliament but also by the people of Australia. I believe the design is imaginative and practical. I believe that, in its concept, it is able to fulfil those objectives which each of us holds dear, albeit in our different political persuasions, and the degree to which we can capably perform the tasks with which, when elected, we are charged. Therefore, I commend this motion to this House.
-.! wish to support strongly the motion which has been moved by the Leader of the House (Mr Sinclair) and to follow up the remarks he has made. Whenever a building is planned, the first thing which must be determined, of course, is the need for it. In this case the need has been very carefully canvassed. The Leader of the House spoke about parliamentarians having difficulty working in this place. After 1 1 years experience, I agree with that. But even more important than that is the fact that there are a large number of people who work in this place who are not parliamentarians. They are required by parliamentarians to be here to provide them with the services they need. I refer to people who supply information from libraries, typists, people who print papers and who supply all the services which support parliamentarians. Also a very large group of people is needed to support the Parliament and its committees. As far as I can determine, about 1,200 people work in this place, apart from the 200-odd parliamentarians who work here. Those people deserve consideration.
This building is quite inadequate because the people who support the Parliament, its committees and all those things that go with the Parliament are not all housed in this building. They are scattered across the countryside, some to the Hotel Canberra and some to the Hotel Kurrajong. As a consequence, the whole operation is starting to become fragmented. I think it is important that all the staff members associated with the Parliament be housed, as far as practicable, in the building where the Parliament meets so that we can have ready access to them. That in itself is one of the real needs for the building.
As one of the foundation members of the Joint Committee on the New and Permanent Parliament House the thought that exercised my mind throughout the long debates the Committee had was whether we should make provision for a very large chamber to accommodate a large number of parliamentarians. I held the view that that would be unwise. I very much doubted whether the members of the Australian community would ever reverse the view they expressed very forcibly some years ago that they did not want the parliamentary nexus broken. It seems to me that we will have to live for ever with the number of members of the House of Representatives being, as nearly as practical, twice that of the Senate. If that situation were to be changed and if there were any significant increase in the number of members of this House, this would necessitate an increase in the number of honourable senators. If we care to think about that, we will realise that we are talking about a 50 per cent increase in the number of Federal parliamentarians in Australia. I do not think the Australian community is so tolerant that it would cheerfully accept a 50 per cent increase in the number of parliamentarians.
I do not think our population will decline; I think it will increase, principally from immigration. So putting those two things togetheraccepting that there will not be any significant increase in the number of parliamentarians and acknowledging that there will be an increase in the population - the obvious solution is that each parliamentarian - will need to represent more people. At the moment the quota per electorate is between 67,000 and 70,000 people. It will probably go higher than that, possibly to 100,000 or 1 50,000 people. To service the electors, those very important people whom this Parliament is supposed to serve, and not just once every three years, parliamentarians will probably require some assistance other than the pool service that exists now. The staff will require adequate accommodation and working conditions.
All in all, the need can be readily established. This place is a fire trap. God help the people who work in it if it ever catches fire. It is an old building. The Leader of the House pointed out that it was designed in a fairly stereotyped way. It is a difficult building to modify and its facade always reminds me of something out of Gone with the Wind. That aside, the building is not capable of extension to make it what it ought to be - a functional building. The people who inhabit it perform a very important task and are being impeded in the performance of that task by the impracticability of the building. The obvious answer is a new building. That has been determined by this Parliament and by the Committee, and I think it has been generally accepted by the community. There has been no adverse reaction from the community. In fact, there has been only commendation for the design which was finally chosen.
I would like to deal with that design now. Before I do so I would like to express my gratitude to the Leader of the House. Everybody knows that he has always been a man of some wisdom. He has finally displayed the ultimate wisdom and settled for the appropriate site for Parliament House, where it always should have been - the top of Capital Hill. The Leader of the House talked about the Burley Griffin concept - the parliamentary triangle concept. I had occasion to do some research in this respect. In 1922 there was a Public Works Committee meeting in Melbourne concerning this Parliament House. One of the witnesses before that Committee was Mr Walter Burley Griffin. When he was asked about this building he strongly urged the Committee to reject the proposal and not to build it. He said that it was not in the proper place and that his concept was for the Parliament House to be located on Camp Hill, the small knoll behind this building. He said that there were sufficient materials and workmen in Canberra at that time, that they should take their time and that they should build the nucleus of a Parliament House and not a provisional Parliament House. He said that if a provisional Parliament House were to be proceeded with it ought to be placed somewhere else and that this area, which he saw as the land axis of his concept of Canberra, should not be defiled.
He went a step further and said that Parliament House should be a building that is prominent but not dominant. He did not want Parliament House to overshadow the people who elected representatives to come to it. That is why he chose Camp Hill. He said that on top of Capital Hill - he called it Kurrajong Hill - there should be a capitol building, a ceremonial building. He said that that building should occupy the top of that hill to show that the Parliament, the Executive and everything that goes with them are not dominant and that there are people above even the Parliament itself. They can be physically elevated above it.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Millar)Order! It being 10.30 p.m., I propose the question:
That the House do now adjourn.
Question resolved in the negative.
– Walter Burley Griffin wanted the Governor-General’s house and the Prime Minister’s house located on either side of the hill. That indicates the way he wanted to use the land mass and the symbolism he envisaged. Once the decision was made to erect the building on its present site, Camp Hill was immediately ruled out. That is why Walter Burley Griffin did not want the House sited where it is now. As the Leader of the House (Mr Sinclair) pointed out, the debate on the site ranged back and forth, from the bottom of the lake to the shores of the lake and to Capital Hill. I still hold the view that everything is in the wrong place and that Parliament House would have been better situated either in Sydney or Melbourne. That argument was lost 80 or 90 years ago so I will not resurrect it.
Let us look at what this bright young Australian architect, Mr Richard Thorp, has given us. If honourable members have taken note of what I have been saying they will realise that, in effect, he has given us what Burley Griffin wanted. The design of the new building shows that it is extraordinarily practical and that it will work very well. There is no doubt in my mind about that. There will be none of the impedance to people working in that building that exists in this building, lt also has within its curved walls a fairly large public area. Public cafeterias and lecture theatres will be located in the building. The public will have very good access to it. The building also has great ceremonial symbolism. I do not profess to be a conservative but I recognise the importance of buildings providing this symbolism on occasions. The building will provide the two things that Burley Griffin wanted. Firstly, it will be a functional Parliament House, and secondly, it will be a ceremonial building of which the people of Australia can be proud.
I turn now to the construction of the building. No technique that is not already known will be used. No material that is not already available will be used. People who would decry this project by comparing it, for example, with the Sydney Opera House or the cultural centre in Melbourne are quite wrong. The problems that arose with the parabolic curves on the roof of the Opera House in Sydney will not arise in this building. Previously unknown techniques were required to construct the roof of the Sydney Opera House. They had to be devised, and that became extraordinarily costly. This building will use conventional construction techniques, and will be constructed of steel, concrete and glass. No exotic materials or unknown techniques will be used. Traditional construction methods and materials which are all readily available will be used.
Some people will say that the estimated cost of $220m will multiply by 10 per cent each year, and then another 10 per cent will be added,.and that will go on for 8 years. Anybody who tries to pull that one is being completely and utterly dishonest. Money will be spent on the project from the moment it starts. Every dollar a day or million dollars a week that is spent on the project now will not incur that 10 per cent increase for eight years. Expenditure will follow the usual ‘S’ graph, and in five years about three-quarters of the money will have been spent. Escalating building costs are not incurred on money already spent.
All sorts of tricks will be pulled out of the box to try to denigrate the new building, but that will be done by a small minority of people. I think the bulk of people in Australia recognise the need for Australia to have a prestigious Parliament House. In my view, nothing could suit the Australian atmosphere better than the proposed building. It will be what Burley Griffin wanted. It will be impressive but not dominant. Rather than having a great heap of buildings on top of the hill, the whole area will be landscaped. The top of the hill will be removed, the building erected, and the hill reinstated. It is an extraordinarily good concept.
In the closing moments of my speech I should like to pay some tributes. One must go to the advisers to the Joint Committee on the New and Permanent Parliament House who assisted in the preparation of the brief. In all my years of experience with the building industry I have never seen a brief as comprehensive or as well-researched as the brief made available to the architects for the design of the building. Honourable members will have seen the brief; I believe that every member received a copy. It was not the sort of thing to take away for a weekend of light reading. It contained thousands of pages and, on the advice only of the proposed users, it described in minute detail what was required. Areas, doorways, natural light, ventilation, and so on were included in the brief. Because a competition was being held, the brief did not presume to suggest any shape, but it said in so many words what was required. Mr Richard Thorp, the architect, followed it fairly faithfully. Nobody could have followed that brief precisely and come up with anything other than a Weeties’ box. We did not want something that looked like a Weeties box. We wanted a building that would be distinctive and unique, and we have got it. The design also stands very strongly with the brief. It does not deviate in any great degree from the brief, but it is unique. I commend the motion to the House. The Senate has agreed to it and I trust that this House will agree to it unanimously. I do not know who will have the task of driving the bulldozer onto the site. I hope that by the middle of next week fuel will be available for the bulldozer and it will be on top of the hill.
-. Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
Debate (on motion by Mr Simon) adjourned.
– I table a proposed sitting pattern for Estimates Committees A, B, C and D.
Motion (by Mr Sinclair) proposed:
That the House do now adjourn.
– I claim the attention of the House in order to pay tribute to the memory of a great man who was a very splendid and loyal Australian- James Daniel Brosnan. Jim Brosnan died two weeks ago and was mourned at his funeral service by a vast assemblage of people from all walks of life. Jim Brosnan was the federal president of a very important and influential political party- the Democratic Labor Party. When Jim Brosnan started work with the Victorian Railways and became a springmaker, little did he dream that one day he would be the Victorian secretary of a political party and its federal president at the same time.
Jim was an active member of his union when working in the railways and was strongly opposed to the radical policies of the officials who controlled the affairs of the union. Very soon many of his fellow workers began to take notice of the newcomer who was ever advocating improvement of working conditions and opposition to the socialist trends of the union hierarchy. He refused to let up in his fight to improve the conditions of his fellow workers and convincingly expressed his views and beliefs in the Labor Party branch of which he was a member. Jim Brosnan maintained that no matter what a man’s job was he was still a worker and if favoured by fortune to be in a position to help his mates along the road he should count it a privilege. His advice to young Laborites was to take an active part in their union activities, always remembering that the Labor movement was something to be proud of and if dissatisfied with its progress to do their best to improve it. He believed that the Labor movement was the hope of humanity.
Jim Brosnan was an ardent member of the industrial group within his union. The Australian Labor Party industrial groups had been set up to combat communist influence in the unions and Jim was one of the many stalwarts who devoted themselves to the task of protecting the union movement and its members from subversive infiltration. The split was a time of travail for Jim Brosnan but he made the choice because he knew that he must stand firmly by his principles and the beliefs which he so strongly held. For Jim, the die was now cast. He had passed the Rubicon; swim or sink, live or die, survive or perish, complete dedication to the Democratic Labor Party was his unalterable determination. Jim Brosnan had been a candidate for parliament on a number of occasions but it is the misfortune of this Parliament that a man of Jim’s ability, integrity and patriotism was not elected to it. Jim was a man of the people and firmly believed as Cicero did that the administration of government, like the office of a trustee, must be conducted for the benefit of those entrusted to one’s care, not of those to whom it is entrusted.
Jim was a devoted family man and a splendid father. His deeply held views on the importance of family life were spiritually uplifting and particularly refreshing in this age of permissiveness. Jim had high moral principles and was convinced that the family must be protected at all costs because it was God’s concept of properly regulated society and the basis and hope of a united, happy Australian nation. To quote Edmund Burke, Jim believed that ‘all persons possessing any portion of power ought to be strongly and awfully impressed with an idea that they act in trust, and that they are to account for their conduct in that trust to the one great master, author, and founder of society’. Jim Brosnan believed that a greater understanding of the importance of the family should be shown by this Parliament and assistance should be provided for the needs of the family by those in power.
Jim Brosnan was my friend as he was the friend of many people. A number of honourable members here, I know, will acknowledge in their hearts that they are indebted to this splendid man for the help and Christian fellowship which he so willingly and generously gave. Australia is the poorer for the loss of Jim Brosnan. He was a
Christian gentleman and I wish to record here my deep sympathy to his wife Mary and their wonderful, family. I know that I speak for many honourable members of this House who will be saddened by Jim’s death, lt can be said of Jim what was said of Lincoln:
Here was a man to hold against the world. A man to match the mountains and the sea.
Mr Deputy Speaker, thank you for giving me the opportunity of saying hail and farewell to a great Australian, Jim Brosnan.
– In 1950 the Polish Association was formed in Tasmania and on Saturday next hundreds will gather at a commemorative dinner to celebrate the thirtieth anniversary of the establishment of that Association. That will be followed on Sunday morning with a solemn Mass at St Theresa’s Church in Moonah which has become the home of the Polish community in Hobart. A week of celebrations had been planned with dances, music and entertainment. But I regret to say that tonight in Hobart and throughout Australia and indeed around the world, millions and millions of Polish expatriates are worried about and indeed are praying about what is happening in their country at present. I fear that we are on the brink of seeing in Poland a repetition of the brutal and callous military intervention into Czechoslovakia 1 2 years ago, in 1 968. Only 24 hours ago 14 Polish dissidents, members of the self-defence committee- KOR- which was established in 1 976, were arrested. Amongst them were the leaders, Lacek Kuron and Adam Michnik. That committee was doing no more than exercising its rights under International Labour Organisation Convention No. 87 to which the Soviet Union and Poland are signatories. I said that many people throughout the world were praying tonight about what is happening in Poland. One particularly distinguished son of Poland in the Vatican is no doubt as concerned, if not more concerned than anybody else about the situation. A newspaper carried this report:
At the Vatican, Pope John Paul, in his first public reference to the situation in Poland, today asked for prayers for his country and his countrymen.
The Polish-born Pontiff told 900 Polish pilgrims: ‘Regarding the news reaching us from Poland I want now to read to you two prayers’. He made no comment on the specific developments of the strike movement.
The prayers, traditionally recited in Poland during masses in honour of the Virgin Mary, ask God to help the Polish people and protect the country’s independence.
It was the current Pope John Paul II when he was simply Mr Wojtyla who, back in 1941 wrote the poem Ode to a Factory Worker. Two lines from that poem, I believe, are apposite in the current international situation. He said this:
My soul is free, all I want to know
Is who am I fighting and for whom do I live?
The spirit of Poland is strong and notwithstanding the Soviet occupation since World War II we have heard from time to time of the people themselves wishing to rise up against the authoritarian, totalitarian regime which is imposed upon them by military force. Only this evening reports were received that Soviet troops are being moved into Poland. One hundred thousand Polish workers at Gdansk are currently surrounded by divisions - not battalions or regiments, but divisions - of Polish armed forces. What do we see in the Press of the world? Here in this newspaper is a photograph of some of the workers outside a factory in Gdansk. What are they doing? They are kneeling in prayer. If Australia has any claim to being a Christian nation and if the Western powers have any claim to standing up for what is right in the name of humanity and in the name of God, we should pray for them too, and we should make it clear to the Soviet Union, the butchers of Moscow and to the authoritarian forces in Poland that the world will not tolerate a repeat of Czechoslovakia in 1968. 1 am sick and tired of the West wringing its hands as it did with Hungary in 1956, with Czechoslovakia in 1968 and with Afghanistan in 1980. 1 hope that this Parliament will unite to defend the rights of the workers of Poland, their rights of association and their right to decent working conditions. I hope that the Australian people will be united on this, that Government and Opposition will stand up for the people of Poland, and that we will not have a repetition of the disgraceful situation we had earlier this year with the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.
– The announcement yesterday by the Minister for Transport (Mr Hunt) regarding the re-equipment program of Ansett Airlines of Australia was a decision which will subject the residents of my electorate and indeed of all those electorates surrounding the Sydney (Kingsford-Smith) Airport to an unprecedented increase in noise pollution for the next 1 5 years at least. According to the Sydney Morning Herald of Tuesday, the Government, at the insistence of the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr Anthony) and no doubt with the active participation of the National Country Party Minister for Transport, has allowed itself to be blackmailed into withholding approval for TransAustralia Airlines to proceed with the $250m European Airbus purchase. Aviation experts around the world agree that the A300 Airbus is one of the quietest aircraft in the world. Honourable members will recall that the purpose of the
Government’s approval to Ansett Airlines to purchase these 18 old technology jets from the American Boeing company was to replace the obsolete DC9 fleet that Ansett and TAA at present run. The Boeing 737 aircraft which Ansett is purchasing were first introduced in early 1971. They are acknowledged as one of the noisiest aircraft at present flying. Mr Anthony hopes that by delaying a decision on a TAA purchase–
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Millar)Order! The honourable member will use the Deputy Prime Minister’s proper title.
– The Deputy Prime Minister hopes that by delaying a decision on the TAA purchase the Government will be able to influence the European Economic Community to set more liberal trade rules on sheep meat exports. In succumbing to this blatant National Country Party pressure, the Government has shown callous disregard for the public health of the people living in the suburbs surrounding Sydney (Kingsford-Smith) Airport. I am pleased that the honourable member for Barton (Mr Bradfield) and the honourable member for St George (Mr Neil) are in the chamber. I would like to know what they have to say about this decision of the Government. Why have they not spoken up on behalf of their constituents? Once again they have failed the people whom they represent.
On a number of occasions I have pointed out in this Parliament that authoritative people have said and reports have shown conclusively that noise pollution leads to stress and other related illnesses, and it has been shown that that has been a factor in the breakdown of a number of community health problems around Sydney Airport. The people of my electorate and the surrounding electorates have suffered long enough. For years they have been subjected to harassment from low flying noisy aircraft. The Airbus was the only ray of hope that these people had of a reduction in the level of noise and thus the level of stress under which they must conduct their daily lives. The European Airbus is a much quieter aircraft than the Boeing 737 aircraft purchased by Ansett. It is much quieter than both the Boeing 727 and Douglas DC9 aircraft presently operated by both internal airlines. Its use offers some hope of relief from the increasing noise pollution around Sydney Airport.
Forecasts provided by the Bureau of Transport Economics for the Major Airport Needs of Sydney study show that over the next five years there will be an increase of 335 interstate movements per week at Sydney Airport. That is an average of 48 extra movements per day. One has also to take into account the substitution effect, in that some of the aircraft that will be flying then will not be just small single and twin engine aircraft but the larger, noisy aircraft that the Government has allowed Ansett to buy. I seek leave to incorporate in Hansard a table provided by the Bureau of Transport Economics that supports this contention.. I have sought the approval of the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs (Mr Macphee).
The table read as follows -
– While I am on the subject of the MANS report, I point out to honourable members that that report firmly recommended that airlines should be required to employ advances in aircraft technology and design to reduct noise factors. Public meetings of residents around the airport were told that the Government would be doing this and that the increased aircraft movements would be offset by the use of quieter aircraft. That has not occurred. Honourable members will see from the evidence that it is absolutely imperative that TAA proceeds with the purchase of the Airbus aircraft. There must be more appropriate responses by the Government to the EEC restrictions on sheep meat exports than this scandalous stand and deliver tactic adopted by the National Country Party. For the sake of the health of the people of my electorate, I press the Government to go ahead as soon as possible with the purchase of the European Airbus.
– The honourable member for Grayndler (Mr Leo McLeay) just made a very poor contribution on the subject of aircraft noise. He does not seem to have any figures at all of comparisons of the noise levels of the Boeing 767 engines and those of the European Airbus. If there is any difference it is marginal, lt is well known that the Boeing 767 aircraft is a new generation type of aircraft and is designed specifically with noise restrictions in mind. But, whatever the specific figures may be, the fact is that the Boeing 767 and 737 aircraft, if they are imported into Australia and used by Ansett Airlines of Australia, are substantially quieter than the Boeing 727 and DC9 aircraft and comply with the requirements laid down by the Government over the last few years for reduced engine noise. The honourable member ought to know but obviously does not know that the Government has laid down standards whereby 80 per cent of all domestic fleets must conform to the specified noise standards by 1 January 1981 and 100 per cent of all fleets shortly must be either converted or new engines must be purchased for those aircraft.
The honourable member knows nothing about noise control problems in the area of Sydney. He has continually exposed his ignorance since he has been in this Parliament. He also fails to acknowledge the extremely progressive steps of this Government in reducing noise pollution around
Sydney Airport. In late 1979, after very careful consideration and after the urging of myself and the honourable member for Barton (Mr Bradfield), the Government prevented high power ground testing or running of aircraft at Sydney Airport in the early hours of morning. Until then there had been high power testing or running of aircraft sometimes at 4 o’clock in the morning. Complaints were often received.
During the three dark Labor years absolutely nothing was done by the Australian Labor Party to prevent high power ground testing or running of engines in the early morning at Sydney Airport. That was the most disturbing feature about which the whole of the area complained. Hundreds and thousands of people were woken every morning under the three dark Labor years by this tremendous noise. Early in the morning when there was no other noise people would be woken by this tremendous roar of engines which was allowed to go on by the Labor Party. The honourable member for Barton and 1 went to the then Minister for Transport and asked that this be prevented. High power ground running and testing of engines was banned by this Government. There can be none of that during the ordinary hours of the curfew. This Government also sent teams of investigators to the St George electorate and spent large sums of money on two major projects. One project tested the noise and vibration levels in a number of buildings. Those tests were completed and a very expensive report was prepared. That was supplied to all the local councils. Also, height monitoring was carried out. After hundreds of tests, it was shown that not one aircraft was found to be landing below the flight path level. Of course, the Labor Party had been making a big commotion about the flight path level. We found that all the aircraft were landing above that level. Notwithstanding that, the Government ordered that the flight path over the St George electorate be raised.
– You have done nothing–
- Mr Deputy Speaker, I wish to raise a point of order.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Millar)Order! The honourable member for Newcastle will be given the call shortly. Perhaps the honourable member for Grayndler will practise some noise abatement.
- Mr Deputy Speaker, the honourable member for St George was telling absolute and utter lies.
– You withdraw that. You wouldn’t have a clue. You were an incompetent Minister for Transport.
– You are a liar.
– You woke everybody all around Sydney Airport every morning. You were the most hopeless Transport Minister in history. You wouldn’t know what you were talking about.
– You are a dirty, low mongrel liar.
– Order! Honourable members have weathered the week rather admirably. It would be a shame if they ran aground at this late hour. I ask them to conduct themselves like parliamentarians.
– The figures and the facts thatI have stated have been confirmed by the Minister for Transport (Mr Hunt). They are public knowledge and they are well known. If the honourable member is talking about the ground testing of engines, that ground testing was stopped by this Government.
– It was never stopped by you.
– You did nothing about it. This Government has increased the flight path to three degrees visual on an experimental basis as far as instrument landings are concerned.
– Mr Deputy Speaker, I wish to raise a point of order. The honourable member for St George is deliberately misleading this Parliament by what he is saying.
– You are a liar.
– If we were not in Parliament I would use those terms, but the Parliament is too important a place to use them. You are behaving disgracefully.
– You are a liar.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Millar)Order! The honourable member for Newcastle has offended against the Standing Orders on a number of occasions.
– Make him withdraw.
– Order! The Chair is capable of administering the procedures of the House.
– I have not used one unparliamentary expression.
– Order! The honourable member for St George will remain silent. The honourable member for Newcastle will realise that he is required to withdraw unparliamentary terms.
– Mr Deputy Speaker, I withdraw. Anyhow, the honourable member’s time has expired.
– Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– I have only a few moments available to me. We have just listened to a most despicable and untruthful speech by the honourable member for St George.
– Order! The honourable member for Newcastle must withdraw that unparliamentary term.
– I withdraw it. During the term of the Labor Government more was done to curtail noise at Sydney Airport than ever in the history of this Parliament. We did more to force the airlines - Qantas Airways Ltd in particular - to restrict-
– Order! It being 1 1 p.m., the debate is interrupted. The House stands adjourned until 2. 1 5 p.m. Tuesday next.
House adjourned at 1 1 p.m.
The following notices were given:
Mr Garland to present the following Bills ;
A Bill for an Act to amend the National Companies and Securities Commission Act 1979.
A Bill for an Act to amend the Securities Industry Act 1980.
A Bill for an Act to amend the Companies (Acquisition of Shares) Act 1980.
A Bill for an Act to amend the Companies and Securities (Interpretation and Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1980.
A Bill for an Act to make provision for the Government of the Australian Capital Territory in relation to the formation of companies, the regulation of companies formed in the Territory, the registration in that Territory of certain other bodies and certain other matters.
A Bill for an Act relating to fees payable for the purposes of the Companies Act 1980.
A Bill for an Act to enact transitional provisions consequent upon the enactment of the Companies Act 1980.
A Bill for an Act to amend the Companies (Acquisition of Shares) Act 1980.
A Bill for an Act to amend the Securities Industry Act 1 980.
A Bill for an Act to make certain amendments consequent upon the enactment of the Companies Act 1980 and for other purposes.
A Bill for an Act relating to the priority of Crown debts.
A Bill for an Act to amend the Companies and Securities (Interpretation and Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1980.
That the sessional orders relating to Estimates Committees be amended by omitting orders (2), (3), ( 1 3) and ( 1 7) and substituting the following:
There shall be 4 Estimates Committees to be known as Estimates Committees A, B, C and D, which shall not vote on, but shall examine and report upon proposed expenditures for the Parliament, Advance to the Minister for Finance and each Department of
State; such report may contain a resolution or expression of opinion of the committee but shall not vary the amount of a proposed expenditure. “(3) Each Estimates Committee, to consider each proposed expenditure, shall consist of the Minister responsible in the House of Representatives for the proposed expenditure under consideration, together with 10 Members, excluding the Chairman.” “(13) During consideration in the House of the reports from Estimates Committees, the maximum period for which a Member may speak shall be -
Each question before the Chair -
Ministers …. Periods not specified
Any other Member …. 10 minutes.” “(17) Upon the completion of consideration of the re ports of Estimates Committees, the question shall be proposed forthwith- ‘That the remainder of the Bill be agreed to’.”, and
That the proposed expenditures for the departments and services contained in Schedule 2 to the Appropriation Bill (No.1) 1980-81 be referred, as indicated, to Estimates Committees A, B, C and D for examination and report by close of business, 9 September 1980:
The following answers to questions were circulated:
asked the Minister for Transport, upon notice, on 22 April 1980:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for Transport, upon notice, on 22 April 1980:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
These officers are located as at 7 May 1980 as shown in the table below:
All airline and commuter aircraft, irrespective of type, which are operated under instrument flight rules (IFR), must be operated by a pilot holding the appropriate command instrument rating i.e.
The instrument ratings referred to above are identical in all respects except that:
Aircraft engaged on such operations whether operating under an airline or charter licence, are required to carry at least the minimum crew specified by the flight manual: the minimum being determined as being appropriate for the particular type during the certification process.
Generally, propeller-driven aircraft having a MTOW not exceeding 5,700 kg are certificated for operation by only one pilot except that for IFR operations, a serviceable auto pilot must be fitted, or two pilots are required.
asked the Minister for Transport, upon notice, on 22 May 1980:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows: ( 1 ), (2) and (3) There is no such proposal before either the Department or me to offer discounted air fares in Australia.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 21 August 1980, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1980/19800821_reps_31_hor119/>.