27th Parliament · 2nd Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMuIlin) took the chair at 9.55 a.m., and read prayers.
Senator WITHERS presented from 36 electors of the Divisions of Mackellar, North Sydney and Phillip a petition showing that in the national interest it is essential that there be an effective and respected Commonwealth conciliation and arbitration system; that the decision given by the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission in the professional engineers’ case on 3rd December 1969, which has followed to the letter in both magnitude and date of operation the salary increases for engineers employed in the Commonwealth Public Service which were announced before the arbitration hearing had concluded, has given rise to utter dismay and has indicated a lack of independent assessment; that recent statements made at the Australian Workers Union Conference and by the President of the Australian Council of Trade Unions have indicated disillusionment with the federal arbitration system and have particularly referred to the professional engineers’ case; and that an unacceptable arbitration system must inevitably lead to industrial unrest throughout Australia.
The petitioners pray that the Australian Government take positive action as soon as possible to re-establish confidence in the Commonwealth arbitration system.
Petition received and read.
– I give contingent notice of motion as follows:
That contingent on the President proceeding to the placing of business on any day I shall move that so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent mc moving a motion relating to the order of business on the notice paper.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service.
On 10th March I asked the Minister a question about American legislation for military selective service and whether the order of the draft drawing was published in the national newspapers so that not only the birth dates but the order in which they were drawn were available freely for all citizens to see. Does the Minister recall that 1 gave him photostat copies of parts of the New York Times’ of 2nd and 3rd December 1969 for him to see the dates of birth set out in those newspapers? I remind the Minister that he told me that he would take the earliest opportunity to verify the prescribed methods and procedures adopted in America. In view of that undertaking, I now ask him why the Australian Government refuses to publish the birth dates and keeps them a secret from the people.
– The Leader of the Opposition’s question refers to a previous question which I have forwarded to the Minister for a considered reply. 1 shall take the opportunity today of reminding the Minister that the Leader of the Opposition has again drawn attention to this matter and that an early reply would be appreciated. The Leader of the Opposition asks why the Australian Government continues to take the view that the birth dates which are drawn in the ballot should not be published. I have explained previously that it is a matter which affects the individuals concerned. It is thought that the publication of the birth dates would facilitate defaulters varying their attitudes because of knowledge of the dates. I shall refer the matter to the Minister in anticipation of his wishing to give a more deliberate and a fuller answer than T have given at this stage.
– I wish to ask a question of the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry. Can the Minister give the Senate- any information about the reported loss of the export licences of 5 Australian meat works, including the names of those works, the reason for the loss of their export licences and the likely duration of time that they will be without their licences?
– I understand that recently a number of meat works lost their licences to export meat to the market in the United States of America. I understand the reason is that United States inspectors walked into these works - which they have a right to do, and which they do from time to time - and found that certain facilities within these meat works were not up to the standards required for the market in the United States. The Minister for Primary Industry was then requested to cease the exporting of meat to the United States from these works until the complaints had been rectified. 1 understand that this is a temporary measure and that as soon as the complaints are rectified the works concerned will be quite free to go on exporting meat to the United States market. I should point out that about 20% of Australia’s export mutton sales is exported to the United States. So although these works may temporarily lose their licences to export to the United States market there is no reason why they should not be able to go on exporting to other markets.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Treasurer. Has the Minister’s attention been drawn to the fact that the S2,000m a year Australian finance industry will soon increase the consumer and credit rates it charges to the public and industry, thus adding to the financial difficulties which are being experienced by those sectors of the community? Does the Minister agree with a statement by the finance industry that these increases are due to the fact that the Commonwealth Government has deliberately pushed up interest rates to try to slow down the Australian economy? If the Minister denies the truth of that statement will be publicly denounce the finance industry and take the necesary steps to prevent the proposed steep increases in interest charges being imposed?
– There is no doubt at all that interest rates have been increased. This matter has been discussed in this chamber and the Treasurer has made statements in relation to it. He has made statements in relation to the implications of increased interest rates for the overall economy and he has made statements in relation to the necessity for Australia to be able to borrow long term finance. The finance industry, as the honourable senator describes it, is entitled to express its own views, and the views it has expressed are its own. I do not believe that we should necessarily accept completely or in part its views on what should or should not be done. However, I do not think that we should ignore them. I think that the finance industry is entitled to express its views and it is the responsibility of the Government to consider what it says. But I would not want to be going to the barricades on the basis of what representatives of the finance industry have said or what they are reported in the newspapers to have said. One would need to get the full text of their comments, and I have no doubt that the Treasurer and the Government will examine those comments. They must be examined and weighed against the long term effect on the security and prosperity of this nation. That is the final test in any issues wc may be considering in relation to the interest rate.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Postmaster-General and it relates to the proposed television station to be built at Ceduna, South Australia. I ask whether the Minister can give any indication of the area it is proposed to cover. Does the Department envisage that included in the area will be the centre of Streaky Bay? Can the Minister give any indication of the nature of the station in terms of its output and when it is proposed that it will commence transmitting?
– Because of the interest the honourable senator has shown in this matter I have obtained some information from the PostmasterGeneral. Due to the limited coverage of even a high powered television transmitter virtually limited to no more than 1 line of sight for a good quality picture, it has not proved possible to develop sound technical and economic plans for the general coverage of the thinly populated districts of Australia. In the recently approved development plans which include Ceduna it has proved possible to allow for only a low powered transmitter in each approved centre intended to serve viewers at each point. This has meant a very costly overall approach in terms of population coverage and this is a most expensive development so far. As there is no elevated range at Ceduna on which to establish the station, I understand the distance of Streaky Bay from Ceduna would be beyond the range of even a high powered television transmitter. The Australian Broadcasting Control Board is continuously examining ways and means of extending television coverage to further centres and districts but the Postmaster-General informs me that he is unable to forecast when Streaky Bay may reasonably expect a television service. The cost involved would be even greater than the approved costs.
– My question is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. It refers to the French nuclear tests which are to be held in the Pacific area. I ask the Minister what special precautions against fall-out or what programme for recording fall-out over Australia have been recommended by the Government during this week. I also ask the Minister which of the committees have responsibily in this matter. Is it the National Radiation Advisory Committee or the Atomic Weapons Tests Safety Committee? Have only these 2 committees been asked to make the survey or has the Government taken some other action to ensure the safety of the Australian people?
– There are elements of this question about which I would need to make inquiries. I do recall that there is a committee which is constantly vigilant and whose purpose it is to discover the order of magnitude of fall-out as affecting the Australian continent. I recall putting clown in this place a report which sets out the facts and implications of these matters. There are other elements of the question about which I would need to make inquiries and [ hope to be able to give the honourable senator a reply by next Tuesday. I think it was yesterday that a question was asked of mc about what representations had been made by the Government. I am also in the process of getting a reply to that question.
– Will the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport provide information as to what special action is being taken to help solve the problem of getting the known increasing quantities of cargo from Tasmanian ports to the central container port of Melbourne? If there is a move to authorise the Australian National Line to obtain a fast roll-on roll-off type cargo ship for this purpose, can it be stated whether urgent action is being taken?
– 1 will direct this question to the Minister for Shipping and Transport and in view of the urgency of the problem for Tasmania ask him to get us an answer as soon as possible.
– My question is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. In view of the arbitrary action of the United States authorities in banning the import of certain Australian beef, veal and mutton on technical grounds, the motive for which could be open to grave doubt, will the Government give consideration to refusing the import of United States automobiles, crude oil and other commodities in which there are technical faults, particularly the Fill?
– Australia is a trading nation, lt will prosper or perish in terms of its capacity to be a trading nation and I could not think of anything more calculated to destroy our trading capacity than the type of philosophy which the honourable senator propounds. Already in question time this morning the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry has explained the present situation in relation to the export of mutton and I would suggest that that explanation given by him covers completely the current position. Senator O’Byrne makes his own judgment that there is something sinister in this and therefore we should start cutting off our trade with the United States. This is a form of fantasy which is completely incredible.
– My question is addressed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Does the Government’s continued avoidance of bringing on the debate on the defence statement which appears as Order of the Day No. 13 indicate an unwillingness to enter into such debate because of the present inadequate state of the nation’s defence system? When will the Senate get an opportunity to debate defence?
– There has been no avoidance on the part of the Government of bringing on this debate. I thought that the Senate, by mutual understanding, was working very hard on the problems of government and our responsibility as a Senate. If the honourable senator likes to sit here Government senators do not mind if we do not have any winter recess at all. We are prepared to sit here and deal with all the matters on the business paper, which include the defence statement.
– Can the Minister for Air indicate how active are the active reserve of the Royal Australian Air Force and also the Citizen Air Force? Are any steps taken by the RAAF to keep in contact with the members of the reserve and to encourage their continued interest in the RAAF?
– The Royal Australian Air Force consists of 3 parts, namely the permanent Air Force, the Citizen Air Force and the Air Force emergency force. The Citizen Air Force comprises 2 active elements, namely, the Citizen Air Force auxiliary squadrons and the RAAF university squadrons. The Citizen Air Force auxiliary squadrons are stationed in Perth, Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane, that is, in each State capital city, and their job is to train a proportion of men for ground crew duties in the event of war. As to the details of these various squadrons, I do not have them at my fingertips but I will make it my job to find out and let the honourable senator know.
– The Minister for
Air will recall that some time ago I. asked whether changes had been made in the conditions governing the use of VIP planes and, as I remember, he replied that the matter was under consideration and we would hear of the proposed changes later. It appears obvious that the proposed changes are already operating because I have seen a Press statement to the effect that the Leader of the Opposition was permitted to take a member of his family-
– The Leader of the Opposition where?
– In the other House.It seems to be a very tender point-
– No. It is reasonable to ask that the honourable senator specify which Leader of the Opposition he means.
– I agree and withdraw that. The Leader ofthe Opposition in another place, according to this Press statement, was permitted to take a member of his family on a visit to New Guinea. I simply say to the Minister that the changes have been made. Apparently they are operating. Why cannot members of the Senate know what are now the provisions governing the use of VIP aircraft by members of all parties?
– In my portfolio as Minister for Air it is my responsibility to operate, on behalf of the Prime Minister, the VIP Flight. I operate the Flight according to regulations that have been set down. In the case of the particular member to whom the honourable senator referred, he approached me-
– You refer to the Leader of the Opposition?
– I mean Mr Whitlam. He approached me in the normal way for permission to go to New Guinea and to take certain passengers. That was outside my responsibility and I asked Mr Whitlam to write to the Prime Minister setting out his case and seeking the Prime Minister’s permission. Mr Whitlam did that and later the Prime Minister wrote to me saying that he had given Mr Whitlam permission to go to New Guinea and to take certain passengers.
– What is the position about the changes?
– In regard to the changes in the regulations governing use of the VIP Flight, both my predecessor and I have made submissions to the Prime Minister. My submissions are still under consideration. When they are finalised I will inform the Senate.
– My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Postmaster-General. Is there any truth in the report that the Australian Broadcasting Commission is negotiating to dispose of its publication “TV Times’, which has a circulation of about 250,000 copies a week, to the Consolidated Press group in Sydney? Are some 40 people employed on the production of ‘TV Times’, 23 of whom are journalists and 5 professional artists? If the ABC disposes of its interest in this publication does that mean that the Commission will have no publication available to it for the promotion of its own programmes because ‘TV Week’, which is owned and controlled by the Murdoch group, does not give publicity to the ABC? Does the publication of ‘TV Times’ net to the Commission some $3,000 a week? Will the Government ensure that this publication is not disposed of to any outside commercial competitor?
– The honourable senator has asked me a series of detailed questions concerning ‘TV Times’. I am not able to give him the information that he requires, but I will place the matter before the Postmaster-General and obtain a reply for him.
– In the interests of the general efficiency of our taxing system will the Minister representing the Treasurer ask his colleague to consider requesting the Commissioner of Taxation to continue the issue of the periodic public information bulletin containing the Commissioner’s rulings and directions in taxation matters?
– I will refer the matter to the Treasurer.
– By way of preface to my question to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry I mention that in the course of the inquiry into the Canberra Abattoir it was my privilege to examine the standards of a number of abattoirs and I and my colleagues were very deeply impressed with their performance and intentions. I now ask the Minister: Is it not a quite unusual and, in fact, brutal action to take away the export licences of meat works, which hitherto have met all the standards required for export, without giving the managements of the meat works a reasonable opportunity to meet the new requirements, despite the fact that they have done so as expeditiously as is possible on all previous such occasions? Are not these procedures, which are so foreign to Australian business practices, another and, in fact, snide form of import control without the odium that is thought to attach to import controls in the particular circumstances of this case?
– I will accept the proposition that very many meat works are endeavouring to bring their facilities up to a very high standard of hygiene. Whilst not all meat works are able to do this, I believe that an effort is being made by most of them. In regard to the practices of those meat works that are exporting to the American market, I believe that the American inspectors have an obligation to walk in and see whether the hygiene standard required by the American market is being observed. Where an abattoir does not come up to the standard the Department of Primary Industry is asked to cease temporarily exports from that abattoir until the trouble - it may be only a small matter - is rectified. The works may be off the export market for only a matter of a day or some weeks. As I pointed out earlier, the American export market for mutton represents only 20% of the total export mutton market. So, despite the fact that an abattoir ceases to export to America there is no reason why it cannot export to other markets that it may have.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Treasurer. As local government performs a very important and necessary function in our society and as councillors, in carrying out their responsibilities, incur certain expenses, will the Treasurer give consideration to the introduction of an income tax deduction or allowance for councillors to offset to some extent the financial contribution that they make for the benefit of the community in their areas?
– The honourable senator is entering a field that I know to be one of great controversy in the realm of local government, namely, whether councillors should receive an emolument for their services. During my term in local government, apart from the mayor, who received a mayoral allowance which was not taxable because it was an allowance, no councillors received emoluments. We are now living in a world in which, I gather, councillors receive sitting allowances.
– Not all of them.
– Some do. I was not aware that that income was taxable. I would need to make some inquiries in relation to that But one matter on which I believe we are all on common ground is our recognition of the magnificent work that the third tier of government does in the local government field. I would not make a comment on whether it is wise for councillors to receive allowances; but I certainly will have some inquiries made as to whether what they receive is taxable.
– Yesterday Senator
Greenwood asked me the following question, without notice:
My question is directed to you, Mr President. It relates to the Hansard record and the importance of Hansard being an authentic record of what occurs in the national Parliament. To what extent is a senator entitled to alter the Hansard proof of what he said in the Senate? To what extent has a senator any right to object to an alteration made by another senator to what that other senator has said? Has a senator any right to check his recollection of what another senator has said in order to varify the accuracy of what appears in the printed Hansard?
I replied that I would look into the matter and inform him today of the position. The Principal Parliamentary Reporter has furnished the following memorandum:
The aim of Hansard reporters in the preparation of copy is to produce a rational verbatim report - a report which, in the definition given in May, . . . though not strictly verbatim is substantially the verbatim report, with repetitions and redundancies omitted and with obvious mistakes corrected, but which on the other hand leaves out nothing that adds to the meaning of the speech or illustrates the argument.’
Necessary corrections may be made, but alterations of sense or the introduction of new matter are not permissible.
The Principal Parliamentary Reporter, if he considers that a correction suggested by an honourable senator infringes any of these conditions, may disallow it. The final decision in such an event rests with the Presiding Officer.
A senator has every right to object to what he believes to be an alteration made by another senator in the Hansard report of his speech.
He may raise the matter in the Senate, or with the Presiding Officer, the senator concerned or the Principal Parliamentary Reporter.
Senator Greenwood also asked whether a senator has any right to check his recollection of what another senator has said in order to verify the accuracy of what appears in Hansard. On the rare occasions the Principal Parliamentary Reporter has not been able to satisfy the inquiring senator, the section of the taped record containing the passage has been played to him.
-I address my question to the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration. I have no doubt that the Minister will remember that the day before yesterday I asked a question concerning the refusal of an entry visa to the Belgian scholar Dr Ernest Mandel. That question now appears as question No. 342 on the notice paper. As I understand that an answer has been given in another place by the Minister for Immigration advising of a Cabinet decision to refuse Dr Mandel permission to speak in Australia, can the Minister now inform the Senate, in view of the urgency of this matter, when the Senate may expect to get an answer to my question, which was asked earlier than a similar question was asked in the House of Representatives?
-I will have to ask for a ruling from you, Mr President, on this matter. As the honourable senator has said, his question does appear on the notice paper. I have not yet received a formal answer to that question but I could, with the consent of the Senate, give an answer to the honourable senator.
– There being no objection, leave is granted.
– The refusal of a visa to Dr Mandel represents no inconsistency with the Government’s flexibility in considering visa applications for temporary entry. It has long been a general rule in immigration cases that the specific reasons for refusal of an individual’s entry should not be disclosed. This is based partly on the fact that applications are confidential as between an applicant and the Department, but in certain circumstances the national interest also demands that the facts be not stated however clearly they may be established.
This is true in Dr Mandel’s case. I would add that the decision not to grant a visa to Dr Mandel was taken only after the most careful consultation and complete study of the facts by the Ministers concerned.
– Has the attention of the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry been drawn to a Press report headed ‘Abattoir Inspectors are Blamed for Meat Ban’? Will the Minister take action to protect Commonwealth meat inspectors from being blamed for the results of an American tactic to use health measures to erect a barrier against United States imports of Australian mutton?
– I will ask the Minister for Primary Industry to examine the matter to which the honourable senator has drawn my attention. I will pass on the reply to the honourable senator.
– On 9th April I placed on the notice paper a question concerning over-border trading in wheat, addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry. As this is a very important matter I ask the Minister: How long does he anticipate that I will have to wait before I receive a reply?
– I will take the matter up with the Minister for Primary Industry and obtain an answer for the honourable senator as soon as I can.
– I direct my question to Senator Wright in his dual capacity as Minister for Works and MinisterinCharge of Tourist Activities. As a preface 1 refer to a statement by Mr Nicholas Kearns, a member of the New South Wales Legislative Assembly, that he conferred with Mr Davis Hughes. New South Wales Minister for Public Works, on the need for work to combat erosion at Greenwell Point, in the channel linking the Shoalhaven and Crookhaven Rivers in New South Wales. I ask: Since the New South Wales Minister for Public Works contends that he has no authority to spend Commonwealth money for the purpose 1 have mentioned, does not Senator Wright think in his dual capacity as Minister for Works and MinisterinCharge of Tourist Activities that erosion in this tourist area should not be allowed to continue simply because of the protocol governing financial relations between the Commonwealth and the States?
– I am afraid that this question is peculiarly within the responsibilities of the various Ministers of the New South Wales Government. I would be very reluctant to pass even a comment upon such matters at this stage.
– I address a question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Is the Minister aware that the Liberal Party Rural Industries Committee is recommending to the Government the establishment by statute of a rural industries board to advise the Government on rural matters? ls this an indication that the Liberal Party is endeavouring to capitalise on the disaffection that exists between members of the Australian Country Party and rural producers?
– The honourable senator obviously has become so engrossed with his own Party problems that he has failed to understand the situation of the coalition. The Liberal Party is a national party which finds ils members in this place and in another place not only from the metropolitan and urban areas but also from country constituencies. If one picks up a list of names of honourable senators and honourable members in the Government Parties one will find that the Liberal part of the coalition has quite a representation of members and senators from country areas. The Liberal Party, as part of the coalition, has always had and will continue to have a very real responsibility in its philosophy in relation to the primary industries and matters associated with primary industries in country areas. In all the circumstances it would be a perfectly normal, natural and healthy thing to do for a party organisation to express views in relation to country matters. 1 hope that it will continue to tlo so, and 1 am sure that it will continue to do so, just as I hope, expect and am sure that the coalition parties will continue in coalition.
– Does the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry know, or has he any means of verifying, whether reports that I have read are correct when they say that the slaughtering and inspection facilities in the United States do not reach the standards laid down by the United States authorities for Australia?
– 1 do not know about knowing or verifying as correct all the reports that Senator Lillico has read, but I shall certainly take the matter up with the Minister for Primary Industry and seek some information from him.
– Does the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs recall my question yesterday in which I called upon the Australian Government to take immediate steps through every available channel to bring to the peace table the warring factions of the Middle East? In view of the renewed turmoil and further threat of hostilities in this area, can the Minister say whether he has any advice, as he promised to secure yesterday, as to what action the Australian Government has taken and, in turn, what plans the Government has in mind to attempt, in co-operation with other countries, to bring to an end this conflict which could affect world peace?
– I do not know that I have anything further to add to what I said yesterday. I promised to have the honourable senator’s question referred to the Minister for External Affairs. I drew attention to the impending talks, in Indonesia, on Cambodia which our Minister for External Affairs will attend and which have been initiated by the Indonesian Foreign Minister. I spoke yesterday about Australia’s participation as a member of the United Nations. I said that there was the normal plenary session which is held towards the end of the year and at which Australia will be represented. I indicated yesterday that we have a fully accredited Australian ambassador at the United Nations. Until I receive a reply to the question asked yesterday I do not believe that I can add anything to what I said then.
– Has the Minister for Air seen recently in a Queensland newspaper an advertisement calling for tenders for the supply of victuals for Royal Australian Air Force bases? Is he aware that in that advertisement calling for tenders no mention was made of butter? Could he indicate whether butter is used at RAAF bases?
– It is quite likely that the honourable senator did not see butter mentioned in the particular advertisement to which he refers because butter is usually included in a combined tender schedule for dairy produce, comprising eggs, butter, meat and so on. But 1 can allay any fears that the honourable senator may have by informing him that it is the policy of the RAAF to use butter on mess tables at bases at all times. Margarine is used only for cooking cakes, sweets, sauces and so on, or for training in cooking. I know that Senator Wheeldon, who is trying to interject, addressed a question to me some weeks ago about this matter. To allay his fears, 1 made very sure that the Air Force did use butter. I had a look at the total quantity which it used. The statistics show that in the last 12 months the Air Force used 263,657 lb of butter at all mainland bases, as against only 61,821 lb of margarine.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry. Will the Government take advantage of the impending visit of the Prime Minister of Canada, Mr Trudeau, to obtain his advice, based on Canadian experience, on the best methods of avoiding wheat surpluses and of selling wheat?
– I am quite sure that the Canadian Prime Minister has his own problems with the present wheat situation, because Canada has some 900 million bushels of wheat in store. But no doubt the Australian Prime Minister and the Minister for Primary Industry, together with the Minister for Trade and Industry, will be talking to the Canadian Prime Minister.
– Will the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry consider a request that, immediately the Estate Duty Assessment Bill, under which the estates of rural primary producers will be allowed certain concessions and rebates of estate duty not generally available to other sectors of the community, becomes law, in the community interest a booklet be published giving details of the Bill’s provisions, or that the publication entitled ‘Income Tax for Primary Producers’, which is made available by the Minister for Primary Industry jointly with the Treasurer, be re-edited in order to incorporate the general provisions of the amendment to the Estate Duty Assessment Act?
– I think that this question more rightly should have been addressed to the Minister representing the Treasurer, but I shall take up the matter raised by the honourable senator with the Minister for Primary Industry, and no doubt he will consult the Treasurer on it.
– I wish to direct a question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. In view of the claims that have been made by the Government, that one of the primary reasons for our sending troops to Vietnam was to raise the estimation of this country in the eyes of the United States, does the Government consider that the refusal by the United States Administration to admit Australian mutton to America is an indication that the insurance policy which we were allegedly taking with the United States is paying off? Will the Government consider making representations to the United States Administration, suggesting that in view of the sacrifices that we have made in Vietnam in order to obtain American friendship, the least the United States can do is to import our mutton?
– The question is so woolly that it is almost beyond understanding. The honourable senator began by trying to put words into my mouth. He suggested that his interpretation of the reason for Australia’s presence in Vietnam is my interpretation or the Government’s interpretation. Then he introduced into the question the topic of mutton. The question, as presented to me, really does not rate an answer. Senator Murphy had a question on notice about Australia’s participation in Vietnam. I gave a reply to that question and it appears in Hansard. The initial part of Senator Wheeldon’s question is completely unrelated to the final part which refers to the import of Australian mutton into the United States of America.
– I preface my question, which is directed to the Minister representing the Treasurer, by saying that on 23rd April I asked a question about certain bound volumes of Hansard not being yet available to members of Parliament and to the public. My original question had 3 ingredients - the reason for the delay, whether there was a shortage of staff and. if there was shortage of staff, whether the Minister would indicate in which departments the shortage existed so that the difficulty could be overcome. Yesterday I received a reply from the Minister but it does not answer the question. It gives some excuse for the late delivery of bound volumes of Hansard, but most certainly the second and third ingredients of my question have not been answered. Therefore, I ask: Will the Minister undertake to supply a complete answer to the question I asked of him on 23rd April about the reasons for the delay in the delivery of bound volumes of Hansard?
– As the honourable senator knows, I am not responsible for the answer. I act as the Treasurer’s representative in this place. I had the question processed to get an answer for the honourable senator. I regret that he does not consider that the answer supplied is an adequate answer to his question. I will have it resubmitted and will point out that he does not consider the answer is an adequate one to his original question. I hope that if possible a supplementary answer will be provided which will satisfy him on the issues he has raised.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Air. Is it a fact that, in the event of the Phantom aircraft being accepted by the Government, further extensions at the Amberley airstrip and also at a number of other operational airstrips throughout the country will be necessary? Is the Minister able to advise to what extent this statement is true? What other works or equipment will be required in addition to the extensions to the airstrips?
– If the Phantoms were accepted they could land at most operational airstrips in Australia at present. Certain ground equipment would be needed to facilitate their operations. At present an evaluation team is in America seeking details of how much it would cost to accept the Phantoms. When that team returns the information will be put before the Government.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the AttorneyGeneral. In view of the Government’s claim that it upholds the laws of the land without political bias, will officers of the Attorney-General’s Department examine the origin of an ultra-right wing document emanating from South Australia which smears our Canadian visitor, Prime Minister Trudeau?
– I shall refer the question to the Attorney-General to see whether consideration is necessary.
– Does the Leader of the Government in the Senate recognise the growing concern among financial leaders, building society spokesmen and the great mass of ordinary people in this land at the current and likely cost increases apparently flowing from recent adjustments in the interest rates and the consequential steps flowing from this? If so, will he consult with the Prime Minister to see whether the Prime Minister will make a statement on national television to explain why these adjustments in the interest rates were made, how they are working out in practice and what beneficial results are ultimately expected?
– This matter comes within the portfolio of the Treasurer. I would have thought that the Treasurer has accepted the responsibility, of explaining the reasons for the recent increases in interest rates. I shall put the honourable senator’s question to the Prime Minister, but my personal judgment is that the Treasurer has, by way of statements in the Parliament, in the Press and in public during more recent times, explained the reasons for the increased interest rates. I repeat that the increases are fundamentally built around the economic security and prosperity of Australia. I believe that this fact has been made abundantly clear. It is a normal, healthy process to have people commenting about the fact that certain side effects are stemming from these increases. This is in accordance with the way in which we live and the way our democratic processes operate. However, I shall bring to the attention of the Prime Minister that part of the honourable senator’s question concerning whether further publicity should be given to the reasons for the increased interest rates and, if so, whether that publicity should be given by the Prime Minister himself.
– My question is also directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate, who represents both the Prime Minister and the Treasurer in this chamber. At the same time as he asks the Prime Minister whether the beneficial results of the increased interest charges should be explained to the people of Australia will he also ask whether the appropriate Government spokesman could explain in clear terms to the people of Australia how it can possibly advance the economic wellbeing of Australia to have hundred of thousands of families forced to pay higher interest rates on mortgages on their homes and how it advances the economic prosperity of this country to have hundreds of thousands of people unable to obtain loans at present in order to acquire homes?
– I do not know the basis for the statistics of the Leader of the Opposition. The expression ‘hundreds of thousands’ is a nice round one. However, it does not register with me. I shall treat the question asked by the Leader of the Opposition as being supplementary to the question asked by Senator Greenwood concerning the need for a more detailed explanation of the economic theories involved in the recent increase in interest rates in Australia. No doubt the points whi ch the Leader of the Opposition made will receive consideration if the Government decides to make a further public statement.
(Question No. 7)
asked the Minister representing the Attorney-General, upon notice:
Will the Attorney-General examine reports appearing in the ultra-rightist Croatian newspaper Spremnost’ that recordings of World War II Fascist Anton Pavelic have been played at functions at Leederville, Western Australia.
– The AttorneyGeneral has supplied the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
I have examined a translation of the report appearing in the January issue of ‘Spremnost’. I have no reason to believe that any offence was committed at the function mentioned in the report.
(Question No. 339)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for National Development the following question, upon notice:
Will the Minister have laid upon the Table of the Senate correspondence between the Minister for National Development and Slate Mines Ministers regarding offshore minerals, other than petroleum, together with the transcript of proceedings of meetings of the Australian Minerals Council in 1969.
– The Minister for National Development has provided the following answer to the hoiourable senator’s question:
Yes. Documents containing correspondence between the Minister for National Development and the State Ministers for Mines relating to offshore minerals, other than petroleum, between 26th February 1969 and 9th December 1969, together with the transcript of proceedings of meetings of the Australian Minerals Council held on 3rd March 1969 and 26th September 1969, referring to off-shore minerals, other than petroleum, will be tabled today immediately after question time.
– I have an answer to a question without notice which was asked by Senator McClelland on 12th March. The question was in these terms:
My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry. Has the Minister seen a report attributable to the senior lecturer in Biology at the University of Sydney that it is believed powerful insecticide sprays, superphosphates or weedicides caused the death of hundreds of fish in a creek near Ballina in northern New South Wales, that a similar mass killing had taken place in the Tweed River in northern New South Wales and that if the present situation continues pollution by insecticides, detergents and washings from dairying and other country industries will evenutally foul up our rivers and seriously affect the future of the Australian fishing industry? Has the Minister also seen a report that a research team from the University of New South Wales was forced to abandon its investigation into this matter because of lack of funds? Because so many people are completely dependent on the fishing industry for their livelihood and so many country towns in northern New South Wales rely to a very great extent on a reasonably prosperous fishing industry for their existence and development, will the Minister investigate this matter urgently and request his officers to contact the research team from the University of New South Wales and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Organisation to see what steps can now be taken to preserve this very vital industry?
The Minister for Primary Industry has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
The report referred to in your question of 12th March, 1970, has been thoroughly investigated. The conclusion reached is that there is no definite evidence that agricultural chemicals or fertilizers were responsible for the death of the fish in the Tweed and Richmond Rivers and associated creeks.
Research being conducted by the University of Queensland shows that fish from the Brisbane, Mary, and Tweed Rivers contain minute traces of residues of a number of pesticides. This however, is. more a measure of the sensitivity of analytical techniques than an indication of potential danger to fish. It is possible that the low residues in these fish could come from industrial or domestic sewerage effluent as well as from agricultural pest control activities.
The levels of residues delected are considerably below those known to be safe to wildlife, including fish.
Unfortunately, it is not possible for diagnoses to be made to determine the factors responsible for the death of the fish in the estuaries of the Tweed and Richmond Rivers. To make a correct diagnosis the scientists must be able to visit the area where and when mortality is occurring.
Advice has been received that the University of New South Wales has no plans for the reported investigations. It is understood that there was a suggestion by a lecturer in micro-biology at the Sydney University that funds be provided foran investigation on herbicide residues, but this has no connectionwith fish because herbicides are not dangerous to fish. State legislation provides for the control of testing and the sale of herbicides.
Test have been carried out over a number of years by the State Departments of Fisheries and Wildlife and it is understood that these are being extended as staff and facilities make such possible.
Can the Minister representingthe PostmasterGeneral say when a television station will be built in the Upper Eyre Peninsula to serve those areas of South Australia.
The Postmaster-General has now furnished me withthe following information in reply:
The national and commercial television stations ABNS and GTS Spencer Gulf North have provided a service tothe north eastern parts of Eyre Peninsula since early 1968 and the coverage was recently extended through associated translator stations near Cowell which commenced operation in March this year. The programmes of both stations will shortly be available to Port Lincoln and surrounding areas when further translator stations in the Tumby Bay region are placed into service. The seventh stage of television development makes provision for low powered stations to extend the national television service to a Further 38 remote areas, including Ceduna and Woomera. The establishment of these thirty-eight stations is to be completed over a four year period.
It will be evident that provision of television service to areas on Eyre Peninsula has received a good deal of attention. There is no present proposal for the establishment of any additional stations to bring television service to other parts of the area; whilst the Australian Broadcasting Control Board is continuously examining ways and means wherebythe television service might be further extended, there are difficult problems both technical and as to costs in respect of relatively distant areas of sparse population.
(Question No. 215)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Social Services, upon notice:
Does it cost:
– The Minister for Social Services has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
Higher cost levels, on the other hand, may be due to such factors as: an unfavourable tendering climate atthe time; a high land component; construction of larger units suitable for either single people or married couples; use of superior materials and finishes; scarcity of materials, or high transport costs, in some areas.
In many cases combinations of the abovementioned factors compensate for each other and most organisations are foundto be able to provide accommodation within the upper cost limits imposed for subsidy purposes, which at present are $6,600 for a single unit and $9,000 for a double unit.
It is not considered necessaryor desirable to enforce a uniform standard of accommodation, but where the cost-per-head exceeds the aforementioned figures, the excess cost must be borne entirely by the organisation.
It is regretted that a clerical error occurred in the February publication. The project at Port Augusta, costing $12,900, comprised two units not one and the figure quoted by the honourable senator should therefore be halved.
(Question No. 282)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Social Services, upon notice:
What is the total number of children on whose behalf child endowment is paid in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea.
– The Minister for Social Services has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
Payments equal to child endowment are at present being paid in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea in respect of 459 children, all of them children of members of the Defence Forces.
These payments are made on an Act of Grace basis as child endowment is not payable in an external Territory.
– In accordance with my undertaking giving during question time I now lay On the table correspondence, between 26lh February 1969 and 9th December 1969, between the Minister for National Development (Mr Swartz) and the State Ministers for Mines relating to off-shore minerals other than petroleum, together with the transcript of proceedings of meetings of the Australian Minerals Council held on 3rd March 1969 and 26th September 1969 referring to off-shore minerals other than petroleum.
– Will that statement be available to all honourable senators? Can they have a copy of it?
– The statement consists of approximately 150 pages, lt is proposed to have copies laid on the table and delivered to the leaders of the various Parties in this Senate chamber. I would hope extra copies will be available for those who require them.
– Where do we get a copy? Through our leader?
– You can’ apply to my office staff.
– I understand that the Minister for Works (Senator Wright) who in this chamber represents the Minister for External Territories (Mr Barnes) desires to make a statement in connection with the notice of motion standing in my name on the notice paper.
– I would ask leave to make a statement to assist the discussion of the notice of motion standing in the name of Senator Wood.
– There being no objection leave is granted.
– The Regulations and Ordinances Committee of the Senate in its thirtieth report drew attention to the fact that the regulation under the Norfolk Island Health Ordinance 1969 gave powers to a health inspector with regard to equipment in hairdressers’ shops not provided with appropriate safeguards for the civil liberties of the hairdresser and his property. Immediately the Minister for External Territories (Mr Barnes) took the matter up with the Committee. 1 am pleased to say that this week regulations amending the ordinance to which the Committee took exception have, after submission to the Committee, been gazetted and signed by the GovernorGeneral. These regulations now give power to the health inspector in relation only to implements that appear to have been used in connection with the establishment and afford evidence, and where an examination and testing of an article is likely to produce evidence, and where the examination of the liquid or substance being used is likely to contain evidence. The regulation makes appropriate provision that after examination and having been removed the implement shall be returned as soon as a prosecution in connection with the matter has been concluded or, in any other case, within 14 days after its removal.
– They are now removed only on reasonable grounds.
– Yes. The opinion that it is likely to afford evidence is held as being a reasonable ground. This is an incident which shows the vigilance of the Committee with regard to matters which although of detail and in a remote territory illustrate a principle of real importance to our system of government. I would ike to acknowledge the Department’s indebtedness to the Committee for bringing attention to a matter where the regulation required amendment in the public interest.
– I withdraw notice of motion No. 1, Business of the Senate, standing in my name on today’s notice paper which reads as follows:
That sub-paragraph (i) of paragraph (c) of sub-section (2.), and sub-section (4.), of proposed new section 24 of the Norfolk Island Health Ordinance, as contained in section (4.), of the Health Ordinance 1969 and made under the Norfolk Island Act 1957-1969, be disallowed.
In doing so 1 would like, as Chairman of the Senate Standing Committee on Regulations and Ordinances, to express on behalf of the Committee our appreciation of the co-operation of both the Minister in this place, Senator Wright, and the Minister for External Territories (Mr Barnes) in relation to the amendment of this Ordinance as a result of which the Committee’s objections have been overcome.
– 1 ask for leave to make a statement.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Bull) - ls leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– I am not fully informed of all the circumstances but it does seem that the objections of the Senate Standing Committee on Regulations and Ordinances have been met in some way. It may have been said, but I did not apprehend it very well, that some new ordinance has been made. Is that so?
– Yes, the original ordinance has been amended.
– The original ordinance has been amended by some other amending ordinance. That has achieved a result which is now satisfactory, which means that the legislation is now in a satisfactory form. It now meets those criteria on which the Committee acts. I do not want to let this occasion go by without saying that we should be very careful as to how these matters are dealt with. Once a regulation or ordinance is made, and especially once a notice of motion has been given in this Senate for disallowance, it should not always be regarded as a proper practice that there should be an amendment to that regulation or ordinance before the Senate has dealt with the motion. In fact, I have a recollection that on some earlier occasion this arose. One could have a defeating of the powers of the chambers given under the Acts Interpretation Act if this method were adopted that when some objection was taken to a regulation or ordinance instead of the Senate being able to proceed on its notice a simple amendment were made to an ordinance or regulation. One could conceive that by a series of such amendments we would never be able to exercise the power. Indeed, I think it was expressed on an earlier occasion that on the face of it this could be regarded as tending to undermine the powers of the Senate. I do not suggest that in this case at all. It seems to be quite clear that what has happened has happened with the approval of the Committee. All I do is caution the Senate that this procedure should not be regarded as such a precedent and that in the future if this method of simply amending the ordinance were adopted by the Government the Senate would be left without any complaint because it had itself agreed on occasions to this being done.
There are important implications in how these matters are resolved. The Acts Interpretation Act sets out a certain procedure and, without trying to propose the proper course or setting out the principles, I suggest that perhaps those on the Committee who are deeply conscious of the responsibilities of the Senate under the legislation might give some attention to this matter
– by leave - I rise as a member of the Regulations and Ordinances Committee to respond - I think that is an accurate expression - to what Senator Murphy has said. I would agree with him that the Senate must always be careful of the procedures which are adopted, but in this case I feel that there is expressed the way in which a pattern of activity has emerged which, I would hope, is to the Senate’s approval and certainly likely to achieve the objectives which the Senate has in mind in the appointment of ils Regulations and Ordinances Committee.
The circumstances in which this particular regulation was regarded by the Committee as one which ought to be scrutinised by the Senate, and disallowed by the Senate as it originally stood, were set out in the thirtieth report of the Committee which has been presented to the Senate. I think it speaks well for the opinion of the Committee which is held outside this chamber that the Department of External Territories, and the Minister in particular, recognised that it was likely that the Senate would accept the motion for disallowance moved by Senator Wood on behalf of the Committee. I say that because the Minister for External Territories (Mr Barnes) at a very early stage indicated that he was prepared to acknowledge the points which were contained in the Committee’s thirtieth report, and he set in motion steps which indicate a considerable degree of expedition and reflect, as I have said, the recognition of the Committee’s work. What Senator Wright referred to this morning as an amendment of an ordinance has been promulgated, within the space of some 4 weeks, by the Legislative Council of Norfolk Island and has been made an appropriate ordinance. In those circumstances whilst the motion for disallowance was before the Senate the position was rectified, so the Senate would be engaging on a fruitless exercise if it were now to consider this motion for disallowance.
I am conscious that Senator Murphy was not aware of all of those facts but 1 would think that, as a pattern of proceedings, this is a method which should commend itself to the Senate. After all, the Regulations and Ordinances Committee is in existence to ensure that regulations made are in accordance with the statute; that they do not trespass unduly on individual rights; that they do not make rights dependent unduly on administrative rather than judicial acts, and that they do not introduce matters which, because of their, substantial innovatory character, ought to be legislative rather than regulatory. The Senate in a sense discharges that function through its Committee. If the Committee is active in maintaining those standards and, at the same time, always responsive to the Senate, I would have thought that that should commend itself to the Senate as an appropriate discharge of its duties.
Under the Acts Interpretation Act there is a very effective provision which enables a regulation either to be debated or to be disallowed, after the expiration of 15 sitting days, once the notice of motion has been given to the Senate. If in the intervening period before the 15 sitting days elapse, or the motion is debated, there is a rectification of the mischief, the wrong, the error, which appears in the regulation, then I think the objectives of the Committee and of the Senate are secured. That is what has happened in this case. It appears to the Committee that this is a procedure that is occurring with regard to a number of other notices of motion for disallowance which Senator Wood has given. If this is the way in which there is a resolution of the particular problem and if the Senate accepts that it is an appropriate way of going about the matter, I am sure that the functioning of the Senate and the functioning of the Committee will only be enhanced.
In conclusion I point out that the Senate at all times, once notice of motion for disallowance has been given, has control of the proceedings. What happened today happened only because not one senator objected to leave being granted to Senator Wood for the notice of motion to be withdrawn. Had there been objection, of course, the matter would have had to be debated. In my opinion that is the safeguard that the Senate has.
Senator WOOD (Queensland) - by leave - I listened to the speech made by Senator Murphy in connection with the withdrawal of this notice of motion. I know that he has a very great interest in the Regulations and Ordinances Committee and places great importance on its work. It is interesting and satisfying to know that he, as Leader of the Opposition, and other honourable senators take that view of the Committee’s work. In this case Senator Wright, who gave extraordinarily fine service to the Committee for many years before he became a Minister, was dealing with the matter on behalf of the Minister for External Territories (Mr Barnes). As a consequence, matters were facilitated greatly in order to overcome the Committee’s objection to this ordinance.
Senator Greenwood mentioned that no objection was raised when I asked for leave to withdraw the notice of motion. I point out that there was no request for leave to withdraw it because of the circumstances that had arisen. I just withdrew the notice of motion. It was on a different basis from what usually takes place. Therefore, no leave was asked for and the matter of any objection being raised did not arise in this case. I want to assure Senator Murphy that, whilst the Committee felt that in this case there was a reason why the notice of motion should be withdrawn, the remarks he has made today represent another caution to alert the Committee to make sure that it does not easily give way on matters on which it should properly continue to make a stand.
– A notice of motion relating to the question of sitting times appears on the notice paper in my name. It is in 2 parts. The first part is a proposal that, commencing from next week, we should sit on Fridays. The second part proposes that, commencing next week and for the remainder of the present period of sittings, Government Businesstakes precedence of General Business after 8 p.m. on Thursdays.
Following discussions that were held in this place yesterday and questions that were asked, I indicated that the leaders - the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Murphy), the Leader of the Australian Democratic Labor Party (Senator Gair) and I - and the Whips would be having discussions about times of sitting. We had discussions this morning. The Whips will be taking the matter up with the various members of the parties, with some regard to the work load that we expect to some forward. It has been put to me that I should deal with the notice of motion in 2 parts. I am perfectly happy to do that, but I will need the leave of the Senate.I therefore ask for leave to deal with the notice of motion forthwith in 2 parts.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Bull) - Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
I propose to speak to that motion, but most of what I say in relation to it will have pertinence to the second part of the notice of motion. We have not been sitting on Fridays up to the present time. We certainly will not sit tomorrow. Because the Senate receives its business from another place and it is not the initiating House in the normal sense, our work programme is governed largely by the amount of work that comes to us from the other place. Although a number of matters appear on the business paper, a fair and long term appreciation of those items is that until now they have been within our compass without sitting on a Friday. However I think it is necessary also to study the business paper of the other place and to make an assessment of the Bills that are to come to us. Bearing in mind the suggested date in June for the end of this session, it seems abundantly clear that by the time we resume on Tuesday next we will have a significant work load on our business paper.
At present the Health Bill is being debated in the other place. I understand that debute is expected to end tonight. It is a fairly big Bill. 1 anticipate that smaller Bills will also be on our business paper by way of message by Tuesday next. For that reason 1 believe as Leader of the Government in the Senate that we should, commencing next week, sit on Friday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. I am informed that because of the requirements of members of the other place who travel to the southern States, notably Tasmania, aircraft timetables have been adjusted to accommodate a parliamentary rising time of 4 p.m. on Fridays. If the schedule proves to be a little tight I believe that the Party Whips could arrange that honourable senators who wish to catch an aircraft departing at 4.25 p.m. would be allowed to do so.
I do not wish to make a long speech aboutthi s matter. Everybody is familiar with the problem. We have reached a stage where the work load requires that we sit on Fridays during the hours I have indicated, commencing not tomorrowbut on the following Friday and continuing that practice for the remainder of the autumn session.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I move:
I thank the Senate for its co-operation in dealing with my previous motion. Much of whatI said in relation to that motion is applicable, or I anticipate will be applicable, to this motion. As I have indicated, I have had discussions with Party Leaders. They have expressed reservations about this motion and I would be prepared to defer it until next Tuesday, at which time I am completely confident that what I have said will reveal itself on the business paper. On the other hand I think it is essential that Government business should take precedence commencing next week if we are to get through the work load.
In the spirit in which we operate in the Senate, if it is thought that there is. some doubt about what I have said, I am prepared to defer putting my motion to the vote until next Tuesday. I would not want again to give notice of motion because 1 want all honourable senators to appreciate that it is the Government’s intention that Government business should take precedence on tha coming Thursday nights. Senators prepare speeches in anticipation of debates when General Business is conducted on a Thursday night. The type of argument I have used in relation to future Friday sittings will apply with equal force to our sittings next week when the work load of Government Business will justify its taking precedence on a Thursday night.
– 1 oppose this motion. The reason given by the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Anderson) in support of the last motion was that Government Business is not getting along very well; in substance, that we are not getting it from the other House and that the backlog is building up over there. As the business is not coming over here, we are dealing with other matters and really not getting very far at all. But there is no pressure. We can cope with our present load. Because the Government is tardy the solution offered by Senator Anderson is to say: Let us take away General Business.’ 1 do not think that is right. General Business is a significant part of the work of this Parliament. lt occupies only about 21 hours each week and it ought to be retained.
We are prepared to co-operate. We agreed on the hours of sitting suggested in the previous motion, with some modifications in which Senator Anderson concurred. We have indicated that we are prepared to co-operate in various ways in handling the business expeditiously. We believe that by using businesslike methods we can get through the legislation when it comes to us. Because the Government has failed to organise its business properly why should we say: ‘Let us get rid of General Business’? We are prepared to take steps wilh that also and to streamline it. It is an important part of our work and it ought to be preserved. Every time there is a backlog the first thing the Government wants to do is to wipe off General Business. We ought not to do that. If the occasion arises when we think it is reasonable, in the situation in which we are placed, to da away with General Business, the matter can be looked at again. We oppose the motion.
– I agree with the opposition to this motion expressed by the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate (Senator Murphy). We do not agree to cut out General Business merely to catch up with a backlog or to eliminate a bottleneck over which we have no control.
– The bottleneck has not occurred here yet.
– That is so. At least there is an argument for deferring the motion for another week or two. When we get the business from the other House we might be able to determine the position with more clarity. But as Senator Murphy has said, in any event it is not a good thing to abolish General Business, particularly in the present circumstances. Sentaor Murphy has indicated that the Opposition is prepared to streamline procedures, probably to curtail debates by having members speak for a shorter period than their entitlement. In that way we might achieve the result sought by the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Anderson).
– I am quite willing to have the motion deferred and left on the business paper on the understanding that 1 will not again give notice of motion. 1 am prepared to defer it until I have an argument sufficiently strong to prevail in the Senate.
– I have perused the business paper of the other place. I have found that 17 Bills were introduced there during March. We have not yet received those Bills. Some of them are controversial, some are not. Because of the brawls that are going on within the Government Parties over controversial Bills relating to the proposed Industry Development Corporation, territorial waters and the national health scheme, the business is not flowing through to us. I cannot accept that as a valid reason for suspending the opportunities that honourable senators have to place General Business on the notice paper and to have it debated. I appreciate that there are other ways and means of dealing with business, but General Business covers matters with which the Parties are particularly concerned. They hope to obtain resolutions of the Senate on those matters and I do not think it is right that at this time we should suspend debates on General Business.
We have been sitting in this session for 8 weeks and we have not dealt with any really affective business (o date. If the Government Parties are unable to resolve their differences as to what the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) wants to do and the Parties want to do on some of these controversial Bills, that is no reason why the privileges of the Senate should be ceded in favour of Government Business. I remind the Senate that this is something that happens every year. We get into this bottleneck because Bills, are held over in the other place. They have no consideration for the times at which we might be required to sis. What might be called the pot boiler Bills which come into the Other p/ace are held up there instead of being sen: on to us in this place. 1 do not know how long we will have to sit in June. We have only 1 week more to sit in May and we have yet to deal with the whole of the programme which is at present on the notice paper in the House of Representatives, in addition to which there are very important ministerial statements which have been made and which we of the Opposition will want to debate fairly extensively. I should say that these things will have to be dealt with before the Senate rises.
It is of little use people saying that because a debate is based on a ministerial statement it can stand over until the Budget session. We find quite frequently in this place that we are debating ministerial statements that are completely out of context in time. If a Minister makes a statement it should be debated within a few days of it being made. I have seen ministerial statements on the notice paper for as long as 2 years, standing over and waiting until there is no other business to be dealt with in this place, at which time they are brought on. Circumstances might have changed completely in that time. When ministerial statements are made and the Opposition indicates that it wants to debate them they should be brought on fairly quickly. Despite all the business in front of us we have 1 week only in May and whatever time we sit in June to be able to complete the business. It is not a fair thing to ask us to give up our general business day because of the laxity of the Government in bringing forward business.
Debate (on motion by Senator Anderson) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 12th May (vide page 1303), on motion by Senator Anderson:
That the Bill be now read a first time.
– I intervene in this debate, but I do not intend to speak for a very lengthy period. I feel, in view of correspondence and other representations that I have been receiving, that it is necessary to draw the attention ot the Government to what is a serious position in our rural industries. I know that there are some who say that we face a crisis - I am one of them - and there are others who are more optimistic and say that there could be a crisis unless we take effective action to deal with the situation. They believe that such effective action can be taken. But the knowledge that something is going to be done is poor consolation to a number of people who at present inform me thai they are faced with Foreclosure and the loss of their farms. I want to draw attention to some of the letters which I have received. I have received one from an elector at Kootingal who said:
If yon could advertise and ask for information regarding the plight of people on the land you and all the Government members would probably receive a shock at the information supplied lo you.
Many have left their places. 1 believe nol far from here the position of apple producers alone is disastrous and some arc bankrupt. We will certainly lose our farm. Alternatively, if you could procure from the Rural Reconstruction Board the figures and information concerning those who have applied for last ditch relief you would also get some idea of rural conditions
Wheal places cannot be sold because of the quotas . . . Even large pastoral holdings including merino studs are now advertised for sale and are being sold.
The letter goes on in the same vein. The day after the farmers’ march in Melbourne I had a deputation from a number of dairy farmers who told me that they were in a most serious situation. Two of them told me that they expected to lose their farms. They mentioned that when they were in a desperate position and thought that perhaps they could get money to tide them over for a while, a certain firm had lent them money at 14% but was now threatening to take over their farms. I have heard from one of the men since that he has received notice of action being taken.
– Do you know which firm was asking 14%?
– 1 do not want to mention the name of the firm until I have definitely checked the facts. 1 do not think it would be fair to do that until 1 have checked the facts.
– It would be a good thing to mention later on.
– Yes. I received another letter this morning from a Victorian elector at Wangaratta who said:
As you are well aware a lol of farmers when they purchase livestock are financed by stock selling firms. One of these, Younghusbands, has informed all its clients that they must pay up by June 30th 1970. It appears that Younghusband: is being taken over by the British Australian Tobacco Co. …
This move of calling in finance will force a lot of farmers to sell their stock before they are fu to be sold and will mean more hardship to many farmers. In some cases it will mean the end.
I might add that 1 owe Younghusbands some money and that I received notice today to pay up by June 30th.
I have spoken to potato growers in recent weeks. 1 went up to Ballarat and met a number of them. They informed me that many of their people are in a desperate position. As a result of my visit 1 am receiving letters and communications from farmers who simply say: ‘What can 1 do? Where can I go? Is there somewhere that I can get assistance?’ 1 wrote to the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Anthony) with regard to their dilemma in the hope that there would be an avenue open to them. The Minister replied as follows:
I refer to your letter of 26th March concerning the problems being faced by dairy farmers with regard to rising costs, depressed returns and the availability of finance. 1 do not know of any existing Commonwealth Government organisation that is able to provide a moratorium on interest and capital payments. However, the marginal dairy farm reconstruction scheme, which is at present being negotiated with the State Governments, is designed specifically to assist those farmers at the lower end of the income scale to adjust to changing economic circumstances.
That is a little surprising because I had understood that these fellows were hoping that they would be able by some means to keep their farms and that the scheme would mean that many of them would be assisted to get off their properties. I wrote also to the Treasurer (Mr Bury) and asked whether there is any place to which a farmer in this situation could have recourse. The Treasurer replied on 7th May in these terms:
Although current monetary policy is for some restraint on bank lending, banks have been specifically asked, and have agreed, to continue (heir long-standing favourable treatment of rural producers. Banks could not, however, be expected to assist in propositions that are not judged to be commercially viable. Indeed, it is possible that in some cases provision of further credit would not be in the best interests of farmers.
That is a rather remarkable statement. He continued: 1 am not aware of any institution to which dairy farmers can resort for special examination of their situation. You would no doubt bc aware, however, that the Victorian Rural Finance and Settlement Commission gives special attention to last resort assistance in cases of individual hardships, i might add that debt moratorium is primarily a matter for the Stale Government.
Finally, I should like to say that the Commonwealth has made an offer to provide up to $25 m over a period of 4 years to the States for purposes nf a marginal dairy farms reconstruction scheme. The main object of the scheme is to assist producers on dairy farms, which have insufficient potential lo become viable economic units while based on the sale of milk or cream for manufacturing purposes. The scheme will enable these producers voluntarily to dispose of their land and improvements to the State al a fair market value. After allowing for redundant improvements on the land the State may then dispose of the land and useful improvements on the basis of the most practicable and economic land use wilh the object of building up other rural properties lo economic levels and so permitting reasonable living standards. The details of the proposed arrangement have been the subject of negotiations with the Slate Governments over an extended period of time but so far only Western Australia has accepted the Commonwealth oiler.
From reading that letter it appears that nothing much can be done for the ordinary farmer who is in debt, who faces a serious situation and who is looking around for someone who can help him overcome his present difficulties. In most cases it is not the farmer who is at fault. We have been told ad nauseam that governments have called on farmers to be efficient and they have become efficient. But what has happened is that farmers’ costs have increased and the prices of their produce have decreased over an extended period, and a number of them, particularly those who are buying farms and who have to pay interest on loans and so on, face an extremely difficult situation. So they have asked me as a parliamentarian: ‘What can be done?’ We are told by the Commonwealth authorities that very little can be done. The only suggestion is that in some cases farmers will be assisted to get off their farms, which is not what they want. I realise that one can use all the arguments in the world to suggest that things can be rationalised, and that it is the easiest thing in the world to sit down and draw up a blueprint which is designed to enable these people to get off their farms. But in most cases they are people who have the land in their blood and who want to stay there. They are hoping that something can be done.
I have had a look at this matter, and I recall that in the depression years the Government held a moratorium on farmers’ debts for a time and then they went before a farmers’ debt adjustment board which tried to see whether it would be possible, for example, to lump their liabilities together and to arrange for repayment over a period of years. At that time there was at least a kind of tribunal to which these people could refer and which could examine their case. There does not seem to be anything like that at the present time. It appears to be a hopeless situation. Perhaps the current situation will improve. There are always people who say: ‘Things may get better. We may be lucky enough to have droughts overseas’. There are always people who say that the situation may improve, but as it is at present, these people are getting panicky about it. It is an extremely serious position.
People arc coming to members of Parliament and saying: ‘I am getting notice that I either pay up by such a date or else’. I do not think we can ignore these representations because older members of the Senate will recall that the great depressions in Australia’s history always began with a crisis in the rural industries. This was the first indication of the coming storm. So I appeal to the Government to take cognisance of the very serious situation which faces these farmers. Reference is made in the letter which I quoted to the fact that it is a matter for the States. If it is a matter for the States, there can be collaboration between the Commonwealth and the States. But action definitely ought to be taken through the Australian Agricultural Council or other relevant bodies to set up some form of tribunal to which these people can have recourse to see whether they can be helped or to see what the final determination of their cases is. I do not think that they should be left, as some of them are being left, practically in a state of hopeless despair.
– 1 do not wish to take up the time of the Senate unduly on the first reading of the Appropriation Bill, but I also want to deal with some aspects of primary production. As Senator McManus has said, there is no doubt that today all sections of primary industry are in a very parlous situation, and they are in that position principally because of the abject failure of this Government, and particularly of the Australian Country Party and the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Anthony) to deal adequately, effectively and expeditiously with the problems confronting rural producers. We all know and have heard from time to time from honourable senators on both sides of the chamber about the problems confronting wheat and wool growers and, perhaps to a lesser extent, dairy farmers.
Earlier this year I attended a meeting of farmers at Jerilderie in the south western portion of New South Wales - and 1 know that Senator McManus was also there - at which there was an overflow audience of wheat and wool growers in the area. There we learned from the farmers’ first hand knowledge the problems confronting these people and their genuine concern for their own future and for the welfare of their families. At this stage I do not intend to dwell on the wheat and wool industries because I hope, if we are allowed to debate General Business, to be able to say something on a motion that is presently before the Senate. But I want to refer now to 2 facets of primary industry which do not involve as many people as do the wheat and wool industries but which nonetheless affect a great number of people on the north coast of New South Wales. I refer to the fishing industry and to the banana industry.
I had hoped that when the Minister for Primary Industry, who represents the electorate of Richmond on the far north coast of New South Wales, look over his present portfolio things in these areas would commence to flourish. But I say quite definitely that but for the tourist industry, the economic activity of some towns on the far north coast of New South Wales would be virtually at a standstill because of lack of assistance given to the fishing and banana industries by the Minister and by the Australian Country Party. First of all, let me refer to the fishing industry. A great number of people depend completely on this industry for their living. A great number of towns on the north coast of New South Wales depend on the fishing industry for their survival. Yet there seems to be a callous indifference on the part of the Minister and the Government on the problemes confronting theese people.
Shortly after the last election I took up with the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr Sinclair) a matter concerning problems which fishermen on the north coast of New South Wales were facing, with the destruction of valuable nets and equipment by trading vessels hugging the coast in their movements. These vessels were ploughing through the fishermen’s nets. The Minister sent officers of his Department to the north coast of New South Wales to have some discussions with some of the fishermen, one of whom, incidentally, had told me that last year he had lost some $2,000 to $3,000 worth of gear and equipment as a result of destruction caused by coastal vessels.
Apparently the only solution which the Department could find was to inform fishermen that they should more effectively mark the marker buoys on their nets. The Department has not attempted to ask the shipping interests to keep their vessels out a little further from the coast in order to protect the valuable gear of these ordinary working people. As I say, the solution reached by the Department was not that there should be discussions between the shipping interests and fishermen concerned, but that the fishermen should more effectively mark their marker buoys. One of the fishermen told me that he puts on his marker buoys not only an undercoat of paint but also luminous paint. He has even reached the stage of importing expensive buoys from Japan in order to protect the equipment from which he earns his livelihood. But he still loses his gear. The
Government appears to ..be- showing a callous indifference to the problems of these people.
On 12th March I asked a question of the Minister for Air (Senator DrakeBrockman) who represents in this chamber the Minister for Primary Industry. My question dealt with the great mass killings of fish on a creek near Ballina and in the Tweed River in northern New South Wales - an area that depends on the banana industry, the dairy industry, the tourist industry and the fishing industry. I drew the attention of the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry to a report by a senior lecturer in biology at the Sydney University which stated that it was believed that powerful insecticide sprays, superphosphates or weedicides had caused the death of hundreds of fish at Ballina and also in the Tweed River. Pollution of the streams had been brought about by insecticides, detergents and washings from the dairying industry and other industries. If allowed to continue, this could have fouled up completely the rivers and estuaries and could have affected seriously the future of the Australian fishing industry and those who depend upon it for their livelihood.
I also asked the Minister to take up the matter principally with the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation but also the University of New South Wales which, [ understood, was conducting investigations into the matter, to see what steps could be taken to protect this vital industry. Only this morning I received from the Minister for Primary Industry, through his representative in this place, an answer which I consider to be completely unsatisfactory and which obviously shows that the attitude of the Government is that it does not give a tinker’s cuss about the problems of these people. The Minister, in his answer to me, said that the report to which I referred in my question of 12th March had been investigated thoroughly. He continued:
The conclusion reached is that there is no definite evidence that agricultural chemicals or fertilisers were responsible for the death of the fish in the Tweed and Richmond Rivers and associated creeks.
There might not be any definite evidence, but I suggest that there certainly is some evidence that their death could have been caused by the weedicides, the pesticides and the insecticides that have been flowing into these streams. The Minister continued:
Research being conducted by the University of Queensland shows that fish from the Brisbane, Mary and Tweed Rivers contain minute traces of residues of a number of pesticides.
The Tweed River was one of the rivers I named in my question. The Minister made, to my mind, the incredible statement that this is more a measure of the sensitivity of analytical techniques than an indication of potential danger to fish. Here we have a situation in which there have been mass killings of fish in the rivers of northern New South Wales and it is admitted that traces of residues of a number of pesticides have been found in their bodies, but the Minister says that this is more a measure of the sensitivity of analytical techniques than an indication of potential danger to fish. I am not concerned so much about the fish as about the livelihood of the men who depend upon the fishing industry for their incomes and for the maintenance of their families. The Minister said further:
It is possible that the low residues in these fish could come from industrial or domestic sewerage effluent as well as from agricultural pest control activities.
Apparently a number of circumstances arising from industrialisation of the area or farming activities in the area could have been responsible for the death of these fish, but apparently the Government is prepared to say that this is one of the facts of life and that very little, if anything, can be done about it. The Minister went on to say:
Unfortunately, it is not possible for diagnoses to be made to determine the factors responsible for the death of the fish in the estuaries of the Tweed and Richmond Rivers. To make a correct diagnosis the scientists must be able to visit the area where and when mortality is occurring.
This area is in the electorate of the Minister for Primary Industry. Doubtless those employed in the fishing industry would have complained to him, as they have complained to me as a senator representing the State of New South Wales, when these mass killings of fish took place. If the Minister had been an effective and responsible Minister surely he would have insisted that at the very time when the mass killings were taking place a governmental scientist or scientists should be sent to the area to determine at the time of death the cause of death. The Minister further said:
Advice has been received that the University of New South Wales has no plans for the reported investigations. It is understood that there was a suggestion by a lecturer at the Sydney University that funds be provided for an investigation on herbicide residues, but this has no connection wilh fish because herbicides are not dangerous lo fish.
The Minister’s answer contains no indication whatever that this problem will be looked at in any way by the Federal Government and particularly by the Department of Primary Industry or the CSIRO. On behalf of a great number of people who rely completely on this industry for their economic welfare and for the future of their families, I protest.
Changing from that subject, but still referring to the fishing industry, I come to the pollution of streams in and around the metropolis of Sydney. People engaged in the oyster growing industry have complained to me that the pollution of these streams is making it difficult for them to maintain clean and pure oyster production. As the Minister for Supply (Senator Anderson), who is at the table, and the Minister for Primary Industry will know the oyster growing industry is becoming an effective export industry. A great number of our oysters are exported to Singapore and to certain other places in South East Asia. Earlier this year I asked the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry:
In view of the increasing pollution of coastal rivers, particularly the Georges River in New South Wales, and bearing in mind the importance of the oyster industry to Australia, what investigational work, if any, is being undertaken in Australia on oyster diseases?
The Minister reported back:
Oysters are cultivated extensively in the estuarine systems no;ably in Georges River, Port Stephens, Wallis Lake and Hawkesbury River in New South Wales, and lo a lesser extent in estuarine areas in Queensland and Tasmania. As such, the fisheries are the responsibility of the States and I suggest you direct your inquiries to the authorities concerned.
– That was a complete brush-off.
– Quite obviously that was a complete brush-off as Senator Mulvihill has said, of the problems confronting these people. If the pollution of these streams continues at the rate at which it has been maintained over the past 5 or 6 years, there will be no fishing industry left in this country. To callously disregard the problems confronting these people is a shocking indictment of the Minister for Primary Industry, in whose electorate a large number of fishermen live. I take advantage of the debate on the Appropriation Bill to ask the Department of Primary Industry to have another look at these matters I have raised and to see what investigations can be conducted and what assistance can be given to overcome the problems effectively. That is all I wish to say about the fishing at this stage.
However, I wish to refer to another primary industry which is very vital to the electorate of the Minister for Primary Industry, namely, the banana industry. It is an industry about which I have spoken in this chamber from time to time. Great economic problems are being experienced in this industry, particularly in relation to marketing arrangements. The Bureau of Agricultural Economics last conducted an economic survey of the banana industry in 1963. Whilst the results of the survey are not immediately available to me, I recall that they showed that some thousands of banana growers who, together with their families, were working their properties were receiving an income which was less than the basic wage. Since that time there has been a decline in the number of banana plantations in New South Wales, there has been an increase in the average size of the plantations and there has been an increase in the yields. However, at the same time there has not been any information made available on productivity, costs or returns which is comparable with the information obtained as a result of the survey which was conducted by the Bureau of Agricultural Economics as far back as 7 years ago.
When I visited the north coast of New South Wales only last week the banana growers told me that, whereas bananas are retailing in Sydney and the other great metropolises for 20c to 25c per lb, they are receiving a mere 2c per lb for their products. One grower has set up a retailing outlet in Armidale. In an endeavour to ensure a reasonable return for his labour and efforts he is taking his bananas from Coffs Harbour to Armidale, When I asked the Minister for Air, who represents the Minister for Primary Industry in this chamber, whether, in view of the great difficulties experienced by growers in the banana industry because of the small return availableto them, he would request the Bureau of Agricultural Economics to again conduct an economic survey, he said, among other things: . . an economic survey of the situation which obtained over the last few years, and which could not take account of these changed circumstances, may not provide a very good guide to the future. In view of this, and in the absence of any request for such a survey from the industry itself, I would not consider it appropriate to direct the Bureau to divert scarce resources from other important work to undertake a further survey of the banana industry at this time.
Whilst banana growers on the north coast of New South Wales are getting peon returns for the work and the great effort which they are putting into producing bananas for the Australian market - as I said, the bananas are retailing on the Australian market for some 20c to 25c per lb but the growers are getting a mere 2c per lb for their bananas - bananas were recently imported from Singapore for the Perth market. I repeat that it is about time the problems of the banana growers as well as the problems of the fishermen on the north coast of New South Wales were heeded by this Government and something was done by it - particularly the Minister for Primary Industry, who represents a far north coast of New South Wales constituency - which will ameliorate the conditionsabout which I have complained on behalf of the people who are vitally affected..
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a first time.
– I move: That the Bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this Bill is to obtain parliamentary authority for expenditure for which provision was not made in the Appropriation Act (No. 1) 1969-70. The total appropriations sought in this Bill amount to $90,053,000. The various items included in this Bill can be considered in detail in Committee and I propose at this stage to refer only to some of the major provisions.
The additional requirement for departmental salaries is $22m and includes provision for increases in salaries arising from the 1969 national wage case and other arbitration determinations, reclassification of offices and additional staff. Further approriations totalling $13. 5m are required for departmental administrative expenses including$2.1m for overseas representation, $1.6m for rents, real estate management and surveys and $lm for additional capital for The Papua and New Guinea Development Bank. Additional appropriations amounting to $23.7m for departmental other services include$1. 5 m for the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, $4.4m for embarkation and passage costs for migrants, $2. 2m for the Australian Broadcasting Commission, $1.6m for war and service pensions and allowances, $1.4m for other repatriation benefits,$5m for the shipbuilding division of the Department of Shipping and Transport, $1.3m for grants under the Aged Persons Homes Act and$1.1m for remission of taxes and fines under special circumstances.
Additional appropriations totalling $30.8m are sought for defence Services, including approximately $20m for increases in Service pay and allowances and increases in salaries of civilian staff. However it is expected that there will be equivalent savings in other appropriations due mainly to rephasing of equipment orders, lags in delivery of stores and equipment, delays in the construction of naval ships and in the construction of storage accommodation and other facilities. It is therefore expected that total expenditure from the Consolidated Revenue Fund and Loan Fund on defence Services in 1969-70 will not exceed the Budget estimate. The additional appropriations being sought in this Bill are not to be taken as an indication that actual expenditure will exceed the appropriations in Appropriation Act (No. 1) 1969-1970 to the extent of the full $90,053,000 as it is expected that there will be an offset of approximately$42m because of savings in expenditure under other appropriations in that Act. I commend the Bill to honourable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator Wilkinson) adjourned.
– I suggest to the Senate that it might be appropriate if the Supply Bill (No. 1) 1970-71, which is at present in the first reading stage, were brought up to the second reading stage. Therefore I move:
I think it would be a far more orderly way of dealing with our business to take this Bill to the second reading stage.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Debate resumed from 13 May (vide page 1430), on motion by Senator Anderson:
That the Bill be now read a first time.
– I wish to take part in the debate. My remarks will be brief. During the last 2 days the Senate has been debating the Moratorium demonstration under the device of the debate on the first reading of this Bill, which enables us to speak on any subject. I have listened with some concern to the arguments which have been put forward, particularly on the Government side of the chamber, without any substantiation of fact. These statements are based on the fact that certain things have happened in the past. Because honourable senators opposite keep on saying the same thing some people are inclined to agree with them without looking back to see what the actual facts were. I am not going to say that the conclusions which honourable senators on the Government side of the chamber reached on their reading of (he facts as presented are necessarily incorrect. It is possible to read another interpretation into the facts which have been presented. I think, for the record, it is advisable to submit some of these facts and the conclusions which other people have drawn from them in their support of the Moratorium Campaign. I draw attention to the Geneva Accords and read part of Article 1 which states:
A provisional military demarcation line shall be fixed, on either side of which the forces of the two parties shall be regrouped after their withdrawal, the forces of the People’s Army of Vietnam to the north of the line and the forces of the French Union to the south.
It is obvious that this Accord was an agreement reached between the forces of Vietnam and the forces of the French Republic. No other people were involved. North and South Vietnam which we now consider 2 separate entities were not considered as such at that time. The Accords did nol consider them as 2. The forces of Vietnam were opposing the forces of the French Republic.
I turn now to the Final Declaration of the Geneva Conference which was held on 21st July 1954. The Kingdom of Cambodia, the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, France, the Kingdom of Laos, the People’s Republic of China, the State of Vietnam, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, the United Kingdom and the United States were represented at that conference. They all agreed, by voice vote as no actual showing of hands or signatories was required - and I am reading from clause 7 of the Final Declaration:
In order to ensure that sufficient progress in the restoration of peace has been made, and that all the necessary conditions obtain for free expression of the national will, general elections shall be held in July, 1956, under the supervision of an international commission . . .
Clause 7 then goes on to give the details of the international commission. This was an agreement reached by the Geneva Conference. The United States which did not sign the Accords produced a statement of its own, a unilateral declaration, in which it said:
I now come to the point of America and Australia being involved in the situation in Vietnam. A number of reasons for this involvement has been given over the past years. One by one these reasons have been discontinued as evidence for our right to be there. One reason was given by our then Minister for External Affairs who is now our Governor-General. He claimed that Australia was there under the provisions of the South-East Asia Treaty Organisation. This reason was abandoned when someone drew attention to the effect of the SEATO agreement. Article IV of the schedule attached to the South-East Asia Collective Defence Treaty, which was ratified by an
Act of this Parliament assented to on 18th November 1954, states:
I want to emphasise 2 points here. Firstly, the agreement had to be unanimous, and, secondly, any measures taken had to be referred immediately to the Security Council of the United Nations.
There was no unanimous agreement. The only countries which have agreed are the United States, Australia, New Zealand and the Philippines. South Korea has now come in, although it was not a signatory. I go further to clause 2 df Article IV in the Schedule to the Act. We find, again, that when there is a threat of armed attack the parties shall consult immediately and the member nations of the South East Asia Collective Defence Treaty shall come together immediately in order to agree. Again there must be agreement on the action that should be taken. Sub-clause 3 of Article IV states:
I have read these Articles to show both sides of the subject. I have put my interpretation on them, and I think my opinion is every bit as Valid as the opinions held by the Government supporters. I think the reasons I have given are valid because I have provided documentary foundation for them.
When this basis for our right to be in Vietnam under SEATO was abandoned the next claim which was made was that Australia had been invited by the Government of South Vietnam to come to its assistance. This claim was generally considered to be reasonable until doubts were raised in the minds of members of the United States Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. Senator Fulbright, the Chairman of the Committee, wrote to the Secretary of State on 12th May 1969 asking what were the terms of the request which was made by South Vietnam to come to- its assistance. I quote part of the letter which Senator
Fulbright wrote to the United Stales Secretary of State:
Dear Mr Secretary: As you know, questions have been raised, from time to time, concerning the circumstances under which United States combat forces were first sent to Vietnam. In the recently released ‘Report on the War in Vietnam’, General Westmoreland -
It was as a result of this report by General Westmoreland that the Committee questioned the legality of the claim that we had been invited into the conflict by the Government of South Vietnam. Senator Fulbright in his letter then quoted part of the report. I will not quote it because there is nothing in it. The Senator concluded:
I was unable to find any reference in General Westmoreland’s account of a formal request from the South Vietnamese government for US intervention wilh combat troops. For the Committee’s record, would you please provide copies of any such request received from that government.
That letter was sent on 12th May and it took until 2nd September, which is practically 4 months later, for a reply to come from the Department of State. The reply, which is a much longer letter, dissembles with regard to the question and comes down with the information that there was no actual request by South Vietnam. We pick this point up where the letter states:
The continuing analysis to which I have referred, and the series of decisions resulting from it, were made in close and constant consultation with the Government of Vietnam. The process of analysing the situation by the 2 governments, and the consultation and agreement thereon, were such as to be regarded by our government as constituting a request from the Government of South Vietnam.
The Department of State could find no actual request that American forces should be there. The next thing that disturbs me - these are points that have been brought forward in the debate - is the question of the legality of being there. A lot of this assumption of legality in the American Senate was based on the fact that there was an incident which came be known as the Gulf of Tonkin incident which occurred in 1964. This incident was reported almost instantaneously to the Senate. It resulted in a joint meeting of the Senate and the House of Representatives in which the President was practically given unlimited funds to conduct the war in Vietnam. It was not for 4 years that some doubts arose as to whether the recording of the events which had occurred in 1964 was accurate. So the
Senate Committee on Foreign Relations went into this matter and then reported its findings to the Senate.
We find on page SI 589 of the Senate Congressional Record Senator Morse establishing a case with regard to the Tonkin incident in reply to some statements that were made by Mr McNamara who, of course, was not a member of Congress. He had made the statements and Senator Morse was taking exception to them because he was involved. I note here that substantial evidence is given in this report by Senator Morse that the Gulf of Tonkin incident did not occur as was reported. There was considerable doubt about its having occurred in the way in which it was reported to have occurred. It was blown up for the sake of getting the United States House of Representatives and the Seriate to approve this mighty expenditure which actually brought the United States so heavily into the campaign. These records are available for anybody to read. They are in our Library. I will not quote from them but they are contained in pages S159I, 1592 and 1593 of the Congressional Record of the Senate and I submit that these should be looked at when anybody is trying to find out the facts of the situation with regard to the American involvement and our involvement in Vietnam. Now, I just have a word to say about Cambodia. I bring Cambodia into the debate because Senator Cotton mentioned yesterday or the day before that he had been there at about the same time last year as I was there and he drew different conclusions from the ones that I drew. I have here a White Paper issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Cambodia. It is written in French so I cannot incorporate it in Hansard but I will translate the statements that 1 want honourable senators to hear.
– How is your French?
– It is not bad. The point that I want to bring up here is that this White Paper claims that there were American and South Vietnamese - it does not distinguish between the two but refers to both - action on the border and over the border into Cambodia which had resulted over some years in considerable damage and loss of life as well as woundings. I am prepared to table this document in the Senate. There is photographic evidence as well as the claims that are made in respect of each of the provinces. I would point out that the claims that were made and substantiated - by photographs, by captured prisoners, by evidence of a helicopter being shot down, by shells that had American markings on them and so on - were, in the view of the Cambodian Government, sufficient proof that this damage had been caused by the American and South Vietnamese forces involved in these actions. ‘The first photographs were taken at Svay Rieng which, as honourable senators know, is just north of the Parrot’s Beak area where most of the conflict is at the present time. They go back to 16th June 1962 and 25th October of the same year. In 1963 there were 2 more incidents, on 9th April and 19th August. In 1964 there were 6 incidents on 4th February, 19th March, 7th May, 11th June, 5th September and 20th October, all in that area which borders the provinces of Svay Rieng and Kampong Cham which we have been reading about in the newspapers. In 1965 there were 3, on 2 1 st March, 28th April, and 15th October in approximately the same area, although one of them was at Kampot In 1966 there were 6 incidents on 3 1st July, 7th September, 20th September, 22nd November and 30th December. These translations are easy to make. In 1967 there were 11, all in the same area. In 1968 there were, I think. 14 and in 1969 there were 2, on 11th March and 23rd May. Then there was the defoliant aggression in April and May. It was about that time that I was in Cambodia and went into this area to have a look. I am prepared to table this document if honourable senators wish.
– Is that a Cambodian White Paper?
– Yes. I would think the Department of External Affairs would have a copy of it.
– Did you have a look at the Vietcong headquarters while you were there?
– I was just coming to that. I am very interested in all that has been going on about the Vietcong headquarters and the mighty communications centre which was in this area. This document was not produced, of course, until I came back to Australia but I knew something of the complaints that had been made by Prince Norodom Sihanouk to America through the Australian Embassy of infringements of the border and the destruction which had occurred, so I went and saw General Lon Nol - I think it was on 23 rd May - and I spent three-quarters of an hour with him. I asked permission to go down into this area and see for myself what had taken place instead of reading what was in the newspapers. General Lon Nol was very co-operative but he said: ‘It is not much use going down there because there is nothing there.’ General Lon Nol, the present President of Cambodia, said that. He also said: ‘All you will find will be graves. They do not mean anything. You will find destruction. That does not mean anything. The evidence of shells has been collected and has been removed. It would not mean anything.’ Those photographs were taken at the time. There was nothing to be seen when I would have been able to go there. He said: ‘You can have a look at footprints which have been kept, but what do they mean? It would be much more valuable for you to look at the defoliation’.
It will be remembered that following my return I raised this subject under a subterfuge during the debate on another Bill. I saw the defoliation which had occurred in the Fish Hook area which is just north of the Parrot’s Beak area. I flew over 250,000 acres of the area. You could see everything because the defoliation treatment had removed all the leaves from the trees. There was no difficulty in seeing the ground. I went to Kampot, Krek and to Snuol which has now been wiped out. I saw the people there and was convinced that they were honest friendly Buddhists who wanted peace and were not interested in the war. Incidentally, they were all Vietnamese. [ asked Prince Norodom Sihanouk before I went there what nationality the people were. He told mc that there were some half a million Vietnamese in Cambodia, loyal Cambodians but of Vietnamese descent. They were people who were devoted to Prince Norodom. This is a problem with which we will be faced because those people are in Cambodia. I am very disturbed at what is happening in Cambodia. I am very proud to have been friends with many of the people there. I still am their friend.
I recommend to honourable senators that they read a book entitled ‘Sarkhan’ written by a man named Lederer who is one of the foreign affairs editors of. ‘Readers Digest’ and therefore not by any means left wing. In the book he is trying to disturb the American people into a recognition of the facts in relation to the countries concerned. He believes that they are being hoodwinked by incorrect statements and by propaganda. I would recommend this book as reading for all honourable senators because it contains most valuable information. I have tried today to indicate that from the facts that I have read - I take it that they are similar to the facts which have been read by members of the Government - I have come to other conclusions in a quite honest approach to the situation. I feel that they should be put on record not, as has been said in the past couple of days, by a lot of rhetoric which has not been substantiated by the presentation of any facts. I have brought these things forward by the same subterfuge as has been adopted by every other honourable senator who has participated in the debates in the past 2 days in order to record my idea of why I, and many others in the Labor Party, have been supporting the Moratorium Campaign.
– I enter this debate after having listened very intently to the contributions of honourable senators on the Government side. I noticed that not one of them referred at any stage to any aspect of the Bill.
– This debate is on the motion for the first reading of the Bill and the Bil] is not the issue.
– I am well aware that under the Standing Orders honourable senators can discuss, in these circumstances, any issue other than the subject of the Bill. It was noticeable that no honourable senator availed himself of the opportunity to advise the chamber on anything that is in the Bill. There were the usual Communist smear tactics which Government senators adopt in an attempt to resurrect or hold a postmortem on the Vietnam Moratorium Campaign which, to their dissatisfaction, was a resounding success. It has been estimated by the Press that in the States where the demonstrations were held against our involvement in the war in Vietnam over 100,000 Australian people participated.
– And 12i million who did not.
– Babies cannot lake part in demonstrations. They are like Senator Young. The fact is that over 100,000 people in Australia took part in the demonstrations against our involvement in the war in Vietnam. In addition, the demonstrations were covered by television and the 12 million people who Senator Young said did not take part at least saw on television a great mass of people demonstrating in an orderly way against our continued involvement in Vietnam. The people of Australia also demonstrated their opposition by their vote in October last year.
This debate relating to the Moratorium was initiated, quite rightly, by Senator Cavanagh who directed the attention of the Senate to something that he had overheard soldiers say in one of the hotels in Adelaide. I think it is to his credit that he did so. He asked one of the soldiers whether in Vietnam Australian soldiers were participating in massacres similar to that at My Lai. The soldier answered that they were but he would not state the place or the time or give any other information relating to it. Senator Cavanagh has asked that an inquiry be conducted into what was said. Surely every honourable senator oh the Government side would agree that an inquiry should be held. Australian soldiers who are conscripts are being forced to fight in Vietnam. After all, they are fighting in a war which has not been declared and in which we have not been invited to participate. Despite the fact that many honourable senators on this side of the chamber have asked repeatedly, even during the short time that I have been here, for conclusive evidence that there was a request for Australian intervention in Vietnam, to this stage not one honourable senator on the Government side has produced any evidence whatsoever to that effect.
– I put down an answer to Senator Murphy about 3 days ago. You are not up to date.
– 1 have never seen tabled any documentary evidence that Australia was ever invited to participate in the war in Vietnam. We know, of course, that we are there at the request of the United States. That brings me to the point which Senator Cavanagh was criticised for raising. The statement he made is factual. 1 will refer to it because he repeated it. The facts will show that what he said is correct, namely, that more people in the world have greater respect for the Vietcong flag than they have for the American flag. That is factual, whether we (ike it or not, because the people of the Communist countries represent one-third of the world’s population of 3,500 million and they prefer the Vietcong flag to the American flag. Let me tell the Senate what a very eminent historian by the name of Arnold Toynbee said in reply to questions asked by a journalist of the New York ‘Times’. This is what he had to say:
To most Europeans. I guess, America now looks like the most dangerous country in the world. Since America is unquestionably the most powerful country, the transformation of America’s image within the past 30 years is very frightening for Europeans.
It is probably still more frightening for the great majority of the human race who are neither Europeans nor North Americans, but are Latin Americans, Asians and Africans. They, I imagine, feel even more insecure than we feel.
They feel that, at any moment, America may intervene in their internal affairs with the same appalling consequences as have followed from American intervention in South East Asia.
For the world as a whole, the CIA has now become the bogy that Communism has been for America. Wherever there is trouble, violence, suffering, tragedy, the rest of us are now quick to suspect the CIA has a hand in it.
Our phobia about the CIA is, no doubt, as fantastically excessive as America’s phobia about world Communism but, in this case, too, there is just enough convincing evidence to make the phobia genuine.
In fact, the roles of America and Russia have been reversed in the world’s eyes. Today America has become the world’s nightmare.
Like Communist Russia, America has committed atrocities in the cause of truth and justice, as she sees them. We believe that American fanaticism, too, is sincere. This makes it all the more alarming.
In terms of the number of lives taken and of lands laid waste, America’s score is, unhappily, far higher than any other country’s since the end of World War II.
In the newspaper article he then answered a question which would be an interesting one to ask Senator Greenwood and some of the other Government senators. The question was:
Would I rather be a Vietnamese who was being saved’ by the American army, or be a Czech who was being ‘saved’ by the Russian army?
His answer to that question was:
Of course I would rather be the Czech. The number of lives taken and the amount of devastation caused by the 1968 Russian military intervention in Czechoslovakia were small, measured by the standards of America’s record in Vietnam.
There we have a very eminent historian showing that not only the people of Asia, Europe and America are concerned about America’s intervention in the affairs of other countries. That justifies what Senator Cavanagh said, namely, that the bigger percentage of the people of the world today would rather see the Vietcong flag flown than see the United States flag flown.
– They have a higher respect for it.
– Yes, they have a higher respect for it. So Senator Cavanagh was quite right. Of course, it hurts Government senators to hear this because they have been supporting the United States, which is undeniably the most violent country in the world.
– And the most warlike.
– Yes, More murders are committed in America than in any other country. There are more pack rapes in America than in any other country. The degree of drug addition in America is higher than in any other country, and it is becoming worse. Unemployment in America is more per capita than in any other country. America also has a higher percentage of millionaires than any other country. As a matter of fact, it has more millionaires than all the rest of the world put together.
Let me return to the demonstration and the Government allegation that the purpose of the demonstration was to create violence and to take over the streets of Melbourne and other places. I wish to refer the Senate to other demonstrations that have taken place throughout Australia for many years. What about the Labor Day demonstration in which the trade union movement in Australia demonstrates the winning of an 8- hour day. That has been going on since 1855. But we hear no objection to that, and there should not be any objection to it. People are demonstrating a cause in which they proudly believe. We also have the Anzac Day demonstration in which on 25th April every year many soldiers demonstrate and remember the gallantry of Australian soldiers at Gallipoli in the First World War.
– I would call that a commemoration, not a demonstration.
Senator DONALD CAMERONAccording to the Oxford dictionary, a demonstration is a manifestation of public opinion. There is no doubt that it is public opinion when people are prepared to participate in any demonstration of that nature. I refer also to another demonstration which has not been referred to whileI have been in this chamber and which takes place every year 3 or 4 weeks prior to Christmas. This demonstration is conducted by John Martin’s. We have heard much talk ofthe alleged audacity and effrontery of Dr Cairns in expressing the hope that the demonstrators would take over the streets in Melbourne and other cities. Have not they a perfect right to take over the streets? Are the streets owned by the big capitalist monopolies which have 10-storey and 15- storey buildings along the streets? Of course they are not. The people have a right to take over the streets. I noticed that during the demonstration in Adelaide last Friday the traffic continued through all the streets throughout the time the demonstration was on and also that pedestrians continued to go about their normal business as on any other day. But in the John Martin’s demonstration they cannot do that.
– What is the John Martin’s demonstration?
– The John Martin’s demonstration is-
– It is a Christmas pageant; it is not a demonstration.
– It is a demonstration. Senator Young has not read the dictionary definition. The definition of the word ‘demonstration’ in the Oxford dictionary says that it can be a procession. In this instance the demonstration is in the form of a procession. What happens in this demonstration that we see every year? What happens is that the whole of the commercial activity of Adelaide is brought to a standstill because every street leading to the centre of the city is barricaded off. People cannot even drive into the city. They cannot even walk along King William Street, which is the main street of Adelaide, while this demonstration goes through the city. Surely if a big department store, such as John Martin’s, is allowed to do this for the purpose of selling toys to parents when Christmas is not far off-
– What about when the store gives over the whole morning to the children of South Australia?
– It is a public relations operation.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Davidson) - Order!
– The point I am making is that Government senators do not object when that demonstration has an effect on commercial activity. In fact, it has a greater effect than did the demonstration that took place last Friday.
The purpose of the Moratorium demonstration has been dealt with adequately by many honourable senators on this side of the chamber. We know that the fact that it was a success is disappointing to honourable senators opposite. I maintain that even if the Moratorium brings the war in Vietnam to a halt only1 day earlier it will have achieved its purpose, or if it saves the life of1 Australian soldier or 1 innocent citizen of Vietnam it will also have achieved its purpose. There is no doubt that it is having its effect not only on the Government in Australia but also on the Government in the United States. There have been reports that the United States Senate is considering discontinuing the finance necessary for the United States to participate in the war in Vietnam.
Over 1 million people have been killed in Vietnam since the intervention there of the United States. We were told in the early stages by the United States general in charge of Allied forces in South Vietnam that if the United States increased its military commitment by another 50,000 troops the war would be over very quickly. Another 50,000 United States troops were committed. The story then was that another 50,000 troops were necessary. Then it was said that another 10,000 troops were necessary to bring the war to an end very quickly. The United States increased the number of its troops in South Vietnam to about 500,000 but the war continues without any end in sight. But worse than that, the American people were then told that the war in Vietnam could be brought to a standstill very quickly by bombing North Vietnam. So United States planes bombed North Vietnam. The Australian Government supported that bombing, and probably still does support the bombing of North
Vietnam. What happened then? The war continued just the same, with no end to hostilities in sight.
It is now obvious that the escalation of the conflict by the invasion of Cambodia by United States troops, supported by South Vietnamese forces, will not bring the confrontation to a close any more quickly. It simply means that the war will last longer than it would have lasted had the invasion not taken place. Honourable senators opposite have claimed that if United States and Australian troops leave Vietnam there will be a bloodbath. In that connection I refer to an article, written by Tran Van Dinh, that appeared in the ‘Austraiian’ of 19th December last year. Tran Van Dinh’. last post in the South Vietnamese diplomatic service was that of charge d’affaires in Washington in 1963. In 1960 he was a member of the South Vietnamese Cabinet, holding the portfolio of Director-General of Information, and was also a member of the National Security Council. He now lives in the United States. The article is headed: Will there be a bloodbath when the Allies go home?’ In reply to that question Tran Van Dinh wrote:
The possibility of a ‘bloodbath’ in South Vietnam if US troops were to swiftly withdraw has been worrying both ‘hawks’ and ‘doves’. But the Vietnamese likely to be the most affected by a change of regime in Saigon, or by a Communist takeover - the wealthy and powerful - do not talk much about it. They have been getting ready ever since the Tet offensive of 1968, which brought the war into their cities and their air-conditioned living rooms.
A quiet exodus began, mostly to France. The price of exodus is not cheap. An exit visa costs as much as $5,000, a ‘certificate of French citizenship’ costs about $2,000, illegal border crossing into Cambodia costs anywhere from $800 to $4,000.
Money has been deposited in European banks. According to Allessandro Cassells of Dic We itwoche of Zurich, a total of between SI, 5 00m and $2,000m has left Vietnam in this way. According to the same journalist. President Nguyen Van Thieu has found a home for his children in Rome (where his brother is ambassador) and his wife has just bought a house in Europe. He estimates that of 1,600 Vietnamese who are legally leaving South Vietnam each month, half do not return, which means that about 10,000 have emigrated since the negotiations began in Paris. My own estimates are a bit higher. Those who cannot afford or do not wish to leave have gone through a well planned process of accommodation with the ‘other side’, an accommodation that reaches the highest echelons of the Government.
Huynh Van Trong, special assistant to President Thieu, was arrested in July this year with 42 others on charges of having contact with the Vietcong. (This month Trong and the other defendants were sentenced to life imprisonment with hard labour.) On the provincial level, as Henry Kissinger noted in Foreign Affairs (January 1969): ‘Tacit accommodations are not unusual in many areas such as the Mekong Delta.’ One wonders who will be left among the prospective victims.
The here and now bloodbath is real, however. For the majority of Vietnamese, poor peasants in the defoliated countryside and destitute workers in the city slums, it is what they have been witnessing for a long time: the search and destroy missions; the ‘free zone’ strikes; the BS2 saturation bombings; the Phoenix operation which from December 1967 to December 1968 killed 18,393 civilian Vietcong cadres; the Song My (‘Pinkville’) type of breakfast massacre in which an American infantry unit allegedly shot down some hundreds of men, women and children in a captured village in the early morning of 16th March 1968; the atrocities regularly described in national United States magazines. To talk about a future massacre against this present background is ironic, to say the least. Nonetheless, the question needs to be discussed, if only because it is raised by many Americans whose compassion for the Vietnamese people and whose opposition to the war I do not doubt. But in doing so we must examine two underlying myths: the first is that the Orientals put little value on life and take killing very lightly”; the second is that reprisals are the monopoly of the Communists, whereas antiCommunists are less vengeful. The first is easily dispelled by a reading of Western history; the religious wars, the Inquisition, the lynchings, the world wars, the American Indian and Civil wars, Hitler’s ‘final settlement’.
Anyone who has spent time in Vietnam realises that the peasant esteems life very highly. The Oriental is no more brutal, no more casual about death than is the Occidental, irrespective of politics. Many Americans believe that the Vietnamese Catholics will bc the sure victims of future reprisals. Thus President Nixon in his address on 3rd November mentioned the million-and-a-half Catholic refugees who fled to South Vietnam when the Communists took over the North.’ The President’s statistics were inflated. According to Vietnam Past and Present, published in Saigon in 1956 under the patronage of the South Vietnam Department of Education and the National Commission for UNESCO and written by Mr Thai Van Kiem a Vietnamese diplomat and scholar, the total number of refugees was 887,895 of whom 85% or 754,710 were Catholics. Also some 100,000 Vietnamese left the South for the North in 1954, several thousands of whom were Catholic There are now about 800,000 Catholics in North Vietnam. There are Catholics in the leadership of the National Liberation Front.
Those who predict the wholesale murder of Catholics by Communists sound more Catholic and more anti-Communist than the most antiCommunist Catholic leader in South Vietnam, Father Hoang Quynh. During the first IndoChinese war, Father Hoang Quynh led a guerilla army against the Viet Minh, and in 1954 he moved south with his faithful. Recently he said: ‘If the communists come, we will try and live and adapt here.’
That was a quotation from ‘Newsweek’ of 24th November 1969. The report in the Australian’ continues:
In the past 3 years, he has worked out a close relationship with Thien Tri Quang, the militant Buddhist leader whom some of the US consider pro-communist. Father Hoang Quynh knows Very well that security lies in close association with your own people, not with a foreign army.
In a communique on January 8, 1969, the Conference of Bishops in Vietnam appealed to the goodwill of the government of both South and North Vietnam to build peace together: in the name of the Lord, we cry Stop.’
In early November this year, 93 prominent Vietnamese Catholics from France, West Germany, Canada and in Vietnam called for the immediate withdrawal of US troops.
In recent months Saigon has given wide publicity to ‘mass executions and mass graves’ in Hue, digging up bodies for the Press and photographers. Yet, Colonel Ton That Khien, chief of the Quang Ngai province (‘Pinkville’), where the March 16, 1969, massacre of Vietnamese women and children took place, refused to dig up the bodies of the victims, saying that ‘they are old bodies’.
Why are the Hue bodies new and Quang Ngai old, when they were . buried at the same time?
President Nixon said: *we saw the prelude of what would happen in South Vietnam when the communists entered the city last year. During their brief rule there, there was a bloody reign of terror in which 3,000 civilians were clubbed, shot to death and buried in mass graves.
I was touched by the President’s mention of Hue, my home town.
This is what Mr Tran Van Dinh was saying. He had lived in this town and knew all about it. He Was refuting what was said by President Nixon. He continued:
The 1968 Tet offensive took 2 victims in my own family: my younger brother, a non-commissioned officer in the ARVN and a published poet, and my nephew. They were both killed not by the Vietcong but by American bombings.
So it can be seen that the majority of deaths caused during the supposed massacre, the taking of reprisals and killings following the Tet offensive in 1968 were caused not by the Vietcong National Liberation Front armies but by American bombing.
– They do not appreciate the Americans saving them.
– No. The report continues:
They were buried in a temporary grave for the reason that Hue was under seige; nobody could get out of the area to buy a coffin for a decent burial.
The first news I received from an official Saigon source was that my relatives were killed by the Vietcong. Only much’ later, when I got word from my own family, did I learn that they had been killed by the bombings.
What happened in Hue is told in an account that appeared in the Christian Century of November 5, 1969.
He then refers to the author. The report continues:
He wrote: “When on the first day of the attack, about 20 Vietcong entered Gia Hoi (a precinct of 25,000 residents in Hue) in order to secure the area, they carried with them a list of those who were to be killed immediately as “enemies of the people.”
The article continues in the same vein right throughout. There are another 3 columns in the article which I shall not be able to read, but one paragraph says:
I do not sit in the inner councils of the inner left. 1 do not know the number of Vietnamese who may be victimised once US forces are withdrawn. But I am not persuaded that a bloodbath would take place if there were no US troops in Vietnam, or if the Vietcong took over.
That is the expert advice of a person who was previously a resident of South Vietnam. It is advice which I would be more inclined to accept as being accurate than statements from honourable senators opposite who have never been to Vietnam.
In concluding I would say that the Moratorium held throughout Australia last week was successful in achieving the objectives which the sponsors sought to achieve. It was a tremendous success and there is no doubt that it will have an effect on the Government and on future elections in Australia. People in Australia are beginning to realise that they have been fooled for too long into believing that Australia’s participation in the war in Vietnam would stop or prevent a Communist invasion of Australia. Early in the war the Government tried to influence the people of Australia to believe that if we did not stop the Communists over there they would come over here. But even the Government does not now expound that theory. It says that we have to get out of Vietnam, that we must have an honourable settlement of the dispute. It does not care for how long the fighting goes on or how many civilians are massacred, nor does it care to what extent their land is devastated, how many of their women are turned into prostitutes and how many of the children have been turned into beggars. This does not worry the governments of Australia or America.
The United States has had a very violent record over the years. The massacres at My Lai were only part of the pattern of massacres in which the United States has been involved for many years. There was the massacre of thousands of red indians by the United States and the massacre of thousands of negroes by the United States. That is still going on. We are trying to pretend that we are in Vietnam at the request of the United States, but our only purpose in being there is to save face with America. At the time when the United States intervened in Vietnam it was the only country which invaded Vietnam. It had to have some friends. It did not care where it got them. It knew that the Government of Australia did not care very much about the young men of this country, that it was more concerned about private enterprise and the profits of the big combines than about our youth, so it asked the Australian Government if it would put forces into Vietnam. Our Government agreed and our troops have been there since.
We are supporting a country which is recognised as being and whose history shows that it is the most violent country in the world. Massacres are not uncommon in the United States. There have been massacres there ever since the Americans took over the country from the defenceless people centuries ago. They are still doing it. They have built up their country by importing slaves from South Africa, and now that the slaves have served their purpose they are no longer wanted. They would like to exterminate them, and they are doing a reasonably good pb at this - especially the national guardsmen who are fairly accurate with their shots. When they fire apparently they do not miss. I believe that our participation in Vietnam should draw to an end. The objectives of the Moratorium were commendable. Surely it has proved to the people of Australia that all foreign forces in Vietnam should be withdrawn and also that the conscription of Australian troops should cease.
Sitting suspended from 1 to 2 p.m.
– I take the opportunity in this debate to comment on the matter of defence. I do so because it would appear that we will not have an opportunity to enter into a debate on defence during the remaining period of this session, and there are some comments that I wish to make concerning the Royal Australian Navy. But before doing so, I should like to comment on some of the debates which have taken place in the Senate in the last day or two. Before I came to the Senate I never believed that 1 should hear words such as ‘traitor’, subversive’ or ‘treachery’ being used against members of this national Parliament. Of course, the subject matter of the debate at the time those words were used was Vietnam, which has engendered a great deal of emotion during the past few years. But I should have thought that every honourable senator on the Government side would avoid making any accusations of this nature against members of the Opposition.
No matter how much we may disagree with each other about Vietnam, 1 think it is a sad day when we hear direct or implied accusations of disloyalty in this country. If I were to speak on this subject now I believe that 1 could develop a very strong case to suggest that what we have done in Vietnam has, in fact, assisted the cause of Communism in South East Asia. But even assuming that I could prove the point, the last thing I would do is to suggest that any honourable senator opposite was wilfully guilty of promoting the cause of Communism in that part of the world. I would have a little more faith in the Australian people who elected them to the Senate.
I have risen mainly to talk about the present position of the Royal Australian Navy. We have had 20 years of Liberal Government in this country, and in those 20 years we have been told repeatedly - and possibly the Australian Democratic Labor Party would also take this view - that it is only the Liberal-Country Party coalition Government that really knows anything about the defence of this country, that it is only this Government which is competent to make decisions on what ought to be done about defence and that any other person of another political colour who suggests that the Government’s policies might be wrong is obviously misguided. In order to assess the validity of that claim, I want to have a look at the present position of the Navy. In doing so, I want to refer back to last year’s Budget session when a document known as the ‘Defence Report’ was submitted to this Parliament. The document contained a report to this Parliament on the activities of the Royal Australian Navy over the preceding 12 months. The report was of no more than 10 pages. I suggest that any department which is responsible for the expenditure of approximately $230m should be able to give a better account of itself than that which is contained in those 10 pages. Half of the report contained photographs of ships and the other half comprised some sort of diluted public relations effort. I would not suggest for a moment that classified material should be made available to the public, but, of course, one can go into the Parliamentary Library and read innumerable overseas publications to find out more about the Navy’s technology and its capabilities than was contained in the report submitted to this Parliament last year.
Between 1954-55 and 1968-69, the total amount of money expended by the Department of the Navy was $ 1,942m - nearly $2 billion, which is a lot of money - but what have we seen for it? Do we see a Royal Australian Navy which is technically as good as any other Navy in the world? Can we say that its fleet is composed of efficient and up to date fighting units? Obviously we do not. If we look at the principal vessel of the Navy, the HMAS Melbourne’, we find that it is an outdated vessel on which $28m has been spent in the last 2 years in reconditioning it and in the purchase of Skyhawk aircraft for a ship which today is still second rate, at best. These are the sorts of things which the Australian Government has allowed to happen.
Only recently I read a report of a hearing of the Special Sub-Committee on Sea Power of the Committee on Armed Services of the United States House of Representatives, in which reference was made to the tendency, even in the United States, continually to recondition old vessels. It has reached the stage at which the United States authorities are extremely concerned about the fact that they have a Navy which is essentially an old Navy, and that the expenditure of vast sums of money on so many of their old units simply has not paid off. Admiral Harlfinger, who was one of the members of the United States Navy who appeared before the Committee, commented on this fact. The Chairman said, in respect of so many of the ships: . . we have FRAM’d and FRAM’d and FRAM’d until you can’t FRAM any more.
That is a term that they use for this process of continually reconditioning vessels. This is one of the tendencies which this Government over the years has allowed to develop in the Royal Australian Navy.
Recently, according to the ‘Australian’ of 7th April, a decision was taken to expend $16m, I think it was, on a facelift for 2 of the Navy’s destroyers, the HMAS Vendetta’ and the HMAS ‘Vampire’. By the time the work is completed it will probably cost approximately $26m, and we will still have a couple of second rate units. Certain factors have been paramount in the design of naval vessels in recent years. I want to put to the Senate that these factors have been largely overlooked by the Australian Government. The first of these has been the tremendous increase in the unit cost of a naval vessel. For example, prior to the last world war a Nelson class battleship was built for £Stg7m. The last of the Charles F. Adams class destroyers, which was purchased for the Royal Australian Navy, cost nearly $50m, and these destroyers are vessels of only 5,000 tons.
Ali of these matters have to be considered in the context of what we can spend on vessels. Australia has only limited resources in this respect. The appropriation provided for reconditioning the ships of our Navy this year is approximately $45 ni to S50m. The question has to be asked: Can all of this expenditure in 1 year be invested in 1 unit? We have to realise the enormous destructive power of naval weaponry which has been developed overseas, particularly in the Russian Navy. None of my comments is in the context of the politics of the situation. I am not concerned, in making these comments, about the so-called Russian Naval threat in the Indian Ocean. I am concerned only about ships and their technology. 1 doubt very much that this Government and its advisers have in fact grasped the significance of the point I am making. If we look at the report which was submitted to the Swedish Parliament by the Swedish Naval Board - and I am quoting from the ‘International Defence Review’ of
August 1967 - we see that the following comments are made:
It has been realised, however, that proper utilisation of new technologies can provide Sweden with a small but highly effective naval fleet capable of competing with the larger units of other more powerful nations. the primary concept is the distribution of surface force striking power amongst a greater number of smaller ships; the reasoning being that the chances of survival of the smaller units are greater, since il is more difficult to knock out all ships comprising the unit.
This is the vitally important point. The article continued:
Moreover, the smaller unit concept gives maximum flexibility in regard to anticipated and unexpected technological advances which may occur. lt would be a brave man indeed who would try to predict what the position in this field will be in 5 or 6 years time. I think 1 can say that on reasonably good authority which 1 would not be able to quote here. The Voyager look’ 9 years to build in ibis country. One of the reasons why it took so long to build was that in that time many changes had to be made to the design of the vessel. Changes in technology and design were taking place and it was imperative that they be incorporated in this ship. Consequently there was this extremely extended period of construction, one of the very things about which the Navy itself is so concerned. The present plans of the Department of the Navy for the design of the new patrol destroyers, of which I will have more to say later, mean that from the time the design concept or contract is accepted something like 6 or 7 years will elapse before the vessels are actually in service. By tha lime probably at least in part they will be outdated. That is the first point that 1 want to emphasise. I do not believe that a small power like Australia, with restricted financial abilities to finance the construction of these ships, is in a position to invest what amounts to 100% of its entire annual expenditure in one unit.
The second matter with which I wish to deal is the development of missiles in naval warfare. Again I believe that the Royal Australian Navy or the Australian Government has not appreciated fully the significance of this. The Russians most certainly appreciated the significance of missiles in the mid-1950s. Obviously they looked at the various technologies and the factors influencing the design of ships much more efficiently that did anybody else, including the Americans. Today, ship for ship, the Russians have the best navy in the world. I quote from the English journal, the Defence Quarterly’. In an issue in 1969, Vice-Admiral Schofield, writing in the section on maritime affairs, said:
The Egyptian use of Russian-supplied, missilearmed patrol craft to sink the Israeli destroyer Elath’ (formerly HMS ‘Zealous’) . . . using missiles known as ‘Styx’ caused something of a stir . . . because it was the first occasion on which these missiles had been used offensively against a surface ship, and with unquestioned success.
Later in the journal, when he was reviewing the 1968-69 edition of Janes ‘Fighting Ships’, vice-Admiral Schofield said:
In his foreword, the Editor, Mr R. V. B. Blackman, points to 3 events which have occurred during the previous 12 months and which in bis opinion give cause for considerable reflection.
The second of these events is the one about which I am concerned mainly. Mr Blackman asked how a tiny missile craft of the MTB type so quickly and so easily could destroy a destroyer. Admiral Schofield continued:
The second point raised by Mr Blackman is the most important from a naval point of view, and it is really surprising that Western reaction to this threat has been so feeble.
This is true. Western reaction, including that of the Australian Government, was incredibly feeble. The Department of Supply has a number of employees with quite a remarkable knowledge of technology in this field, which knowledge has not been developed. The Department of Supply designed and built the Ikara antisubmarine weapon some years ago. In its particular field it was something new and something unique. There was no lack of ability in this country to develop missiles of this nature, but there was a lack of will and a lack of foresight. Today not one ship of the fleet is equipped with this surfacetosurface capability which gives a tremendous amount of fire power to small ships. If we are to discuss matters concerning the Navy and what the Navy is doing, we ought to realise the significance of this development. 1 shall read from an article in the October 1969 edition of the ‘United States Naval Institute Proceedings’, which describes in some detail the sinking of the Israeli destroyer ‘Elath’ by the Russianbuilt missile boats. The article states :
The sinking of the ‘Elath’ was no fluke, even though the patrol boats fired their missiles from within the harbour of Port Said. The ‘Elath’ was on a war patrol, manned for battle, superbly trained, and, considering her age of 23 years, well equipped. The crew was alert and actually sighted the incoming missiles at a range of 5 or 6 miles, which allowed sufficient lime lo manoeuvre the ship, to begin increasing speed, and lo bring antiaircraft guns to bear on the missiles. When first observed, the missiles appeared to be off course, but sshortly after the sighting, they altered course directly for the ‘Elath’. Striking the superstructure, the first missile destroyed the ship’s radio antennae, and moments later the second missile hit the engine room, leaving the destroyer dead in the water, on fire, and listing heavily. The Israelis attempted to save their ship and, indeed, had made excellent progress when, an hour and a half later, a third missile was sighted heading for the ship. It exploded on the stern; and as the ‘Elath’ capsized and sank, a fourth missile exploded on the fiery scene. Regardless of who fired the missiles or who maintained them, the evidence is unmistakingly clear: Four missiles, 4 hits.
That was probably the most significant event in naval history in recent years. Not only the Americans and the British but also the Australian Government completely overlooked that event. Consequently our men are now manning ships which are inferior to those of other countries. We hope that one day our ships do not have the misfortune to be confronted by them. We hope that situation will never arise.
The third matter to which I refer is the development of the gas turbine for marine propulsion. It is interesting and comforting to know that finally the authorities in this country have realised the significance of this development. I believe that gas turbines will be used in the new patrol destroyers. I wish to say something more about the ships to which I referred earlier. In my opening remarks on this subject I made a comment about the limitation of size which I believe is something that should be looked at before any final decision is made. During the comments of the Minister for Defence (Mr Malcolm Fraser) in the other place some weeks ago, he made reference to the development of indigenous industries for the purpose of developing Australian defence technology. At present the main contenders for the feasibility design or preliminary design of the destroyer have been submitted by overseas companies or companies that are based overseas. The companies include: Western Sea Services, which is wholly owned by Lytton Industries of America; Y - -ARD, a combined organisation or consortia of the Yarrow people in Great Britain and the Admiralty Research and Development; Vosper Australia Pty Ltd, which is a wholly owned subsidiary of Vosper; Thornycroft
Australia Pty Ltd, which in turn in wholly owned by the David Brown group; Hawkerde Havilland (Australia), which is a wholly owned subsidiary of Hawker-Siddeley in the United Kingdom; Vickers Australia Ltd, which is wholly owned by Vickers in the United Kingdom; and Fleet Forge Pty Ltd, in Melbourne, agents for the New York based naval architects, McCullin and Co. I do not know whether the Minister for Air (Senator Drake-Brockman) who represents in this chamber the Minister for the Navy (Mr Killen) intends to make any comments on what I have said.
But I would like to know what efforts have been made by this Government to co-ordinate the activities and the knowledge of not only government naval architects but also private architects in this country so that collectively we could look at the design of a new concept of a naval vessel for the Australian fleet. Why should we be hamstrung by an old World War II concept, which is what is happening with our new ships? We are building a rehashed version, with a few modifications, of the conventional destroyers which were built 20 or 25 years ago. We are not adopting a new concept. We are not taking into account the factors which have influenced the design of naval vessels in recent years.
I would say without much hesitation - I have discussed this matter with naval officers and I think I have some authority to say these things - that there is a great deal of concern within the Royal Australian Navy about the matters I have raised. We should not pull the wool over our eyes about how good we are and how wonderful a defence job we have done in recent years. We have to keep abreast of other countries. We might be confronted one day. If this happens we do not want to see the same situation that we saw 30 years ago of men flying in aeroplanes and sailing in ships which were outdated. Let us look at these things objectively. Let us reconsider some of the decisions which have been taken or are about to be taken. Let us reconsider what we are building because the decision which is made is virtually going to determine the naval construction programme in this country in the next 10 or 15 years - certainly until 1980 - yet apparently we are going to absorb all the finance which is available to us in vessels which I believe are not suited for what we want in this country. I do not know whether any Minister intends to comment on what 1 have said, but J would say to the Government that it should reconsider the decision which is apparently close to being made.
– 1 take the opportunity of the debate on this Bill to raise an important matter which 1 believe is not only vital to South Australia but also to Australia as a whole. 1 refer to the portion of the Eyre Highway which is yet to be sealed - about 300 miles in length - on the South Australian side of the border between South Australia and Western Australia. The Eyre Highway is a very important road. Its importance was recognised by the Commonwealth during World War II when it financed the construction of this road and contributed to its maintenance. However, the Commonwealth will not accept any financial responsibility for sealing this road. The Eyre Highway is important not only from a tourism point of view but also from a defence point of view because it could play a major role in a future defence system in Australia.
The Eyre Highway stretches from Adelaide to Perth, which is a distance of about 1,700 miles. As I have mentioned, the only portion which is yet to be sealed is a stretch of 300 miles on the South Australian side of the border between South Australia and Western Australia. Prom time to time the South Australian Government has made requests to the Commonwealth Government for financial assistance to complete the sealing of- this stretch of road. On one occasion the Commonwealth Government was asked for a sum of $6m over a 6-year period to complete the sealing of this section. This request was supported not only by the Western Australian Government but also by a conference of State Ministers for Tourism. According to answers which have been given by the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr Sinclair) in the other place it is the responsibility of the South Australian Government to find the necessary funds to seal this road. The South Australian Government has been told that any expenditure on the road in the future will have to be made from its own funds at a rate determined according to the number of motor vehicles registered in the State. I believe that this view is a very narrow one because not only do cars from South
Australia use this road but also cars from the other States. Although I have no figures on the number of ears which actually use the road, I believe that the number of interstate cars which use it would be greater than the number of South Australian cars which use it.
If the sealing of the road is to be completed by South Australia without any assistance from the Commonwealth, I believe - and this is also the belief of most honourable senators from South Australia - that it will be many years before it can be completed. During this period, of course, money will have to be found for the maintenance of the sealed portion of the road, which will place a further financial burden on the State. Questions have been asked not only in this chamber but also in the other place on this subject. I wish to quote part of a question which was asked by Senator Bishop on 30th May 1969 in this chamber. The question appears at page 1834 of Hansard. Senator Bishop said:
I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport whether it is a fact that successive South Australian governments have requested financial aid from the Commonwealth in order to seal the last section of the great national road between Ceduna and the Western Australian border-
The question goes on to point out that, as I have already indicated, those requests were supported by the Western Australian Government and the conference of. State Ministers for Tourism. I shall quote only part of the answer which was given by Senator Scott, who was at the time Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport. He said: 1 understand that because of lack of finance, approaches have been made by the South Australian Government to the Commonwealth for financial assistance. 1 would think that at this moment that request is being considered. I have not heard that it has been refused. Because of the generous treatment of all States by the Commonwealth under the new aid roads programme, no doubt there will be sufficient funds, to carry out extensive road works. If this assistance is not sufficient, no doubt the Minister for Shipping and Transport, on behalf of the Commonwealth, will be looking at ways and means of assisting South Australia to complete is programme.
The answer to this question would appear to indicate that the Commonwealth Government might give some assistance to South Australia in the way of a special grant for. the completion of this road because the sealing of it is a very important matter to South
Australia, but evidently the Commonwealth Government has not come to the party, as this finance has not been made available up to this point of time. I urge the Government to consider the request that it make available to South Australia the necessary funds to complete the sealing of this section. I ask it to do so as quickly as possible because, as I have said, this is a very important highway. It is vital not only to South Australia but also to Western Australia. The standard rail link between Adelaide and Perth has been almost completed. Only a matter of a few miles between Port Pirie and Adelaide have to be completed. When this section of the railway line is completed South Australia will have a complete rail connection with Western Australia and the eastern States. I feel that the completion of the scaling of this road will add a vital highway to the Australian highway system. It could then be used, as I have said previously, not only as a means of enabling people in one State to visit another State but also, if an emergency were to arise in the future, it could play a very important part in our defence system.
Mr Webb, the honourable member for Stirling, has also asked questions regarding the sealing of the Eyre Highway. He received an answer from the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr Sinclair) which appears in the Hansard report of another place of 18th March 1969. It is question No. 1128. I will not quote all the question. It is in 3 parts. I will quote the third part of the question, but the other 2 parts are questions which I have already dealt with. It reads:
The answer to that part of the question was as follows: t 3. Although the Commonwealth provides substantial financial assistance to the States for roads in the Commo’nwealth Aid Roads Act and also provides a special and distinct grant for the main- tenance of this highway the responsibility for the construction and maintenance of roads is constitutionally a responsibility of the State. j.This may be so as far as the Constitution is concerned but I feel the Commonwealth j[ Government should make the necessary [ finance available to complete this section of the highway by special grant to the State Governments, as it has done in the past in respect of other projects. Mr Wallis, the honourable member for Grey, has also asked questions about this highway. Honourable senators can understand that this is a very important subject not only from the point of view of South Australia but from the point of view of Western Australia as well. Mr Wallis asked a number of questions. I will not quote them because I feel it would take too long. The Minister’s answer is a lengthy one.
– You have plenty of time.
– I do not know about that.
– We will give you the afternoon.
– I am just as anxious as anybody else to get away from this Parliament. It is not very often that I waste the time of the Parliament.
– That is what I am saying. You deserve all the time you want.
- Mr Wallis, as reported on page 277 of the Hansard report of another place on 11th March 1970, directed a question to the Minister for Shipping and Transport. He asked:
Following the meeting in February of the Australian Transport Advisory Council, was the question of the sealing of the Eyre Highway from Ceduna to the Western Australian border discussed with the South Australian Minister for Roads If so, were any undertakings given by the Federal Minister to assist the South Australian Government in the sealing of this vital road to the West?
The Minister in answer said:
As honourable members will recall, last year the Commonwealth Aid Roads Agreement was renegotiated between the Commonwealth and the States. During the Course of the preparation of this legislation there were, of course, discussions between the States and the Commonwealth on the whole ambit of required avenues of expenditure for the funds envisaged under the new S-year agreement.
It is a lengthy answer. I do not feel it is necessary to quote any more of it. In conclusion I would ask the Government to do all it possibly can to make this finance available so that this very important section of the Eyre Highway linking Adelaide and Perth can be completed. I would ask the Government to grant any moneys it can find to the States for this purpose.
– Mr Acting Deputy President-
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Wood) - Senator Keeffe, have you spoken on this Bill previously?
– I spoke on the first one.
– This is the same one. You have already spoken on it, I am afraid.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a first time.
-I may be permitted to interpose. The Clerk should be able to establish whether Senator Keeffe has spoken.I have been informed that he has spoken on the Bill. I should not think there is any doubt about it, but if there is it is up to the Clerk to discover whether the honourable senator has spoken.
– I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this Bill is to appropriate moneys to carry on the necessary normal services of the Government during the first 5 months of the financial year 1970-71. The total amount sought in this Bill is $1,113,002,000 comprising:
The amounts provided represent the estimated requirements for the first 5 months of the financial year ana m respect of most services generally represent approximately five-twelfths of the 1969-70 appropriation. No provision is made for new services.
An amount of $20,000,000 is sought to enable the Treasurer to make advances which will be recovered within the financial year and to make moneys available to meet expenditure on services of the Government, particulars of which will afterwards be submitted to Parliament. I commend the bill to honourable senators.
Motion (by Senator Wilkinson) proposed:
That the debate be now adjourned.
– May I speak to that motion? I have had discussions with the Leader of the Australian Labor Party (Senator Murphy). It is suggested that the Senate might dispose of the second reading stage of the 2 Supply Bills and then it would be ready to go into Committee. It is not normal to speak on the second reading motion, but I understand 1 Government speaker wants to speak on the second reading of the second Supply Bill. Because supply may be an urgent matter on Tuesday and as Tuesday is a very difficult day I have canvassed with Senator Murphy whether we might go through the second reading phase of the 2 Supply Bills.In that case I would suggest that Senator Wilkinson should not move the adjournment of the second reading. I suggest that we bring the second Supply Bill on and let someone speak to it.
– in reply - The Opposition has no objection to that procedure. I am quite prepared to support the Bill, as presented, on behalf of the Opposition.
Motion - by leave - withdrawn.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill reada second time.
Debate resumed from 13 May (vide page 1399), on motion by Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– I wish to say a few words with regard to the material submitted to the Senate in relation to the Appropriation and Supply Bills. My particular concern is with regard to the $5m repayable advance to the Administration of Papua and New Guinea for the construction of the township at Arawa in connection with the Bougainville copper project. It is, of course, contained also in the Appropriation Bill (No. 4). I take it that when the document presented to the Senate by the Minister for Supply (Senator Anderson) mentioned that the major requirement is $2m for a repayable advance that related to part of the supply of $5m. The principle involved in this amount of money being made available for the construction of a township at Arawa in relation to the mining project at Bougainville interests me greatly. I think it would also interest people throughout the Commonwealth because we have seen mining ventures of various sorts being required to provide capital for the whole of their infrastructure. The mining industry in Western Australia has been required to find the capital for the development of Kambalda and towns in the north west such as Tom Price and Dampier. These towns have had to be provided by the mining ventures which have gone into that area. lt seems to me that the Commonwealth Government, in finding this amount of money for the provision of a township on Bougainville, is acknowledging that there is some merit in the proposition that mining ventures and other undertakings that go into the far flung regions of Australia should not be required to find the whole of the capital for the housing needs of the people. This principle has too long hindered the development and the redistribution of Australian enterprises. We have seen, with regard to the farming industry, the same principle involved. Agriculture is required to find all the money for the housing needs of its people, not only those engaged on an ownership basis but also those employed in the industry. This is one of the factors, I believe, that have produced a tremendous degree of centralisation within our economy. If an industry proposes to set up some enterprise that can conveniently be situated in the big cities or near to them that enterprise is not asked or not expected to provide the capital needs of that industry in relation to housing, but if it be mining or agriculture or anything else outside the cities the industry is expected to finance the housing needs of the people employed in that industry. I am pleased that the Commonwealth, in providing this money - certainly as a repayable advance - to the Administration of Papua and New Guinea is recognising this principle. I only hope that it will carry the recognition of the principle a little further so that the development of the hinterland of Australia, whether it be through mining, secondary industry or agriculture, will be assisted. There should be recognition of the fact that the people engaged in those industries have housing needs equal to those of people who choose to live within the city areas. I hope sincerely that we will see this principle of granting moneys for the building of townships in association with industry extended to the other States of Australia.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Debate resumed from 7 May (vide page 1248), on motion by Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Upon which Senator Wilkinson had moved by way of amendment:
At end of motion add, ‘but, whilst realising that some estate planning may already have been effected following the promise of this legislation on 24th September 1969 and that this limited Bill offers some measure of relief from death duties in the rural sector, the Senate is of opinion:
That the Bill is inadequate as it fails to recognise -
the extension of liability for and the burden of Federal and State death duties resulting from the pressure of inflation,
the particularly critical situation of -
the relatively small farm in the rural sector, and
the small business unit in the industrial and commercial sector, where in both cases a large part of the estate is in a non-liquid form, the dismemberment of which to meet the tax liability destroys the basis of efficient operation, and
that difficulties are aggravated by the joint operations in this field of the Commonwealth and the States; and
That these matters should be fully examined with a view to early relief being afforded by further amendments of the Act’.
– The Senate may or may not recall that I last spoke on this measure on Thursday, 7th May, and when the sitting was suspended at 5.45 p.m., for the dinner adjournment, I was arguing that one of the fundamental differences in the approach to death duties or estate duties - call them what you wish - between honourable senators who sit on this side of the chamber and the members of the Australian Labor Party who sit on the other is their approach to whether or not a man, through thrift and initiative in his own lifetime, should be able to acquire an estate or to acquire assets and to pass them on to his beneficiaries, be they his wife or his children. 1, as a Liberal, have always believed that this is something which should be encouraged. 1 know that it has been part of Socialist philosophy for years that it is a good thing to break up estates by the use of succession duties. I am particularly interested that something is being done in this field related directly to primary producers. As I said earlier, 1 believe that the Commonwealth should get out of this field altogether. Perhaps this is but the first part of such a movement. After all, estate duties bear just as heavily on all sectors of the community as they do on primary producers. It is just as hard for the widow of the butcher or the banker in a country town to find the estate duty that has to be paid on her late husband’s estate as it is for someone who lives on a farming property. 1 have been interested in reading the speeches of Opposition members in another place and in listening to the speeches of Opposition senators here to note that they have referred to the various problems wl) -cb are facing the primary producer through lack of income due to falling prices and the various cost squeezes. They have used that as a stick with which to beat the Government. I wonder how many members of the Opposition in both places have realised that, when referring to the problems of the primary producers, the greatest spectre which hangs over primary producers is the expectation of estate duty. I have spent quite a deal of my professional life, as mentioned earlier, advising primary producers on estate planning. If the primary producer has any real or substantial worry it is not so much the problem of income, but how to preserve his estate intact for his children.
What has been overlooked in this situation is that in many cases the farmer’s son, in effect, gets the estate as deferred payment of income which he has foregone during the lifetime of his father. 1 think many a farmer’s son has worked almost for nothing. He has had the use of a house and has been supplied with provisions but he has not received much income in the expectation that on the death of his father he will inherit the property. This happens not only with primary producers but also in many family concerns. It is one pf the reasons why I am philosophically opposed to the imposition of death duties especially where they bear heavily on the children who have worked for often very little reward in their lifetime in the expectation of inheriting the estate. In effect it is deferred income.
I should like to advert to another matter. I understand that the Commonwealth Government intends to bring in legislation to prevent the Australian Capital, Territory being used as an estate duty or succession duty haven for those attempting to avoid State probate or succession duties. I regret that this is being done without’ some quid pro quo being given by the States. I have always felt that if there were any basis for imposing estate duty it should not be a tax additional to the income tax paid in one’s lifetime. 1 believe that it is reasonable that estate duty should be paid as a kind of capital gains tax on those assets which have accrued as a result of tax concessions.
I have never believed that there should be any estate duty on assets passing between spouses. I do not think there is a person in this Senate who would not believe that any man who acquires assets in his lifetime has acquired them basically through the efforts and sacrifices of his spouse, lt is wrong that a wife, particularly, who . has made great sacrifices in her lifetime to help build up a family business, be it a farm or anything else, should see some of it taken away on the death of her husband. Therefore, as I have said, I have always been a firm believer that assets passing between spouses should be completely free of estate duty until the death of the next spouse. For the same reason I believe that assets passing to dependent children - not ordinary children - should come within that category. For duty purposes an upper limit should be placed on assets passing to children, be they children over 21 years of. age or those who are not strictly dependent children. 1 would hope - perhaps it is only a pious hope - that should the Commonwealth decide to go ahead and prevent the Australian Capital Territory used as a tax haven it would take into consideration what I have said about spouses and, in spite of the fact that this might be deemed by some Premiers lo be centralism, say to the States: ‘We are prepared to prevent the Australian Capital Territory being used as an estate duty haven provided that the States cease to levy property passing between spouses until the death of the second spouse’. I think that is a reasonable attitude to take and I hope that even those who call themselves State righters will adopt the same attitude on this as I do.
– Very often widows have to sell their homes.
– As Senator Dame Ivy Wedgwood quite rightly interposes, the widow is often in a dreadful position in these circumstances. I know that in my own State of Western Australia there are methods by which the duty may be deferred, but that is not the solution.
– Interest has to be paid then.
– Irrespective of whether interest should be paid, I do not think the duty should be imposed on assets passing between spouses. I suppose it is an old-fashioned concept but I still believe that a husband and wife are one and should be treated as one, not as 2 separate people to be taxed. The other matter to which I wish to advert - perhaps the Minister might care to deal with this in reply - is, firstly, the fact of the Commonwealth being in the field of gift duty which has a large effect upon estate duty in the ultimate, and secondly, whether the limit of gift duty should be raised if the Commonwealth remains in this field. As with estate duty, I believe that the Commonwealth should get out of the field of gift duty. Gift duty was imposed as a wartime measure, as was Commonwealth estate duty, in 1914.
If my memory serves me correctly, when gift duty was first imposed the value of the gift had to be £1,500 before duty became payable. At that stage estate duty was not payable unless the value of the estate exceeded a certain amount. The limit in relation to gift duty has been lifted to $4,000 but that in respect of estate duty has been lifted, from memory, to $20,000. I believe that there is a relationship between the point at which gift duty is imposed and the point at which estate duty is imposed. If the limit in respect of estate duty is $20,000, there is a complete exemption for assets passing between spouses and certain children-
– It is to be $24,000. It is being lifted by this Bill.
– I thank the Minister. If gift duty is to continue to be imposed the limit should be raised to the same amount, namely, $24,000. This would give people an opportunity for better estate planning. I believe that the original intention in setting gift duty at the level at which it was set had a relationship to the level at which estate duty was set. I should be pleased if the Minister would correct me if I am wrong. This is a matter that I hope the Government will examine.
As I said before, I welcome this slight Bill, which starts to move the Commonwealth out of this field even if only in respect of a limited class. My first regret is that the Commonwealth has not got out of this field completely. My second regret is that it has not got out of this field in respect of all classes to the same degree. My 2 hopes are, firstly, that if there is to be any legislation regarding the Australian Capital Territory as a tax haven some conditions will be imposed on the States as to assets passing between spouses and, secondly, that the limit for the imposition of gift duty will be lifted to the same amount as that provided in respect of estate duty. I support the Bill and oppose the amendment.
– This Bill is one of a series of pieces of legislation of this type which have particular application to the rural community. Although it is in a particularly limited and somewhat technical field, its very presentation highlights again the difficulties that are continuously occurring and reoccurring in the rural sector of the economy. The Bill deals with the problem that faces the primary producer as a result of the incidence not only of Federal estate duty but also of State duty imposed for the same purpose on death, namely, the duplication of debt and the consequences to capital assets that have been laboriously built up, more particularly in the light of declining prices and the inability to find the necessary money for payment of duty when it becomes due.
It is to be regretted that this type of legislation has to be presented at all. It seems to highlight the fact, as may well be mentioned at a later hour’ today in another context, that the whole of the rural economy must be looked at and that whether- it is to be supported by this prop in this area, by a subsidy in some other area or by another prop in one industry and a longer and stronger prop in another part of the rural economy, surely, should be part of the one concept and should be considered as such. However, for the. benefit of primary producers, who have gone through and are going through a particularly difficult experience for a period that seems to have no immediate prospect of early termination, the Government has seen fit to protect the assets of the man on the land from the necessity of sale and departure from the hands that created them in order to enable him to pay Federal estate duty.
There may be some thought that the Commonwealth Government could vacate this field altogether. It seems most unfortunate that this is another illustration of a duplication of power under which duties or imposts are presented by the Commonwealth and State governments in the same field. Undoubtedly, with each trying to exact its share and what it is able to obtain, the exaction falls all the more seriously on the poor person who has to pay. Undoubtedly, it would be better if the Commonwealth could find it possible to vacate this field and leave it to the States, in their wisdom, to impose such taxes if they elect to - if this type of tax is desirable at all.
– Let us get rid of it.
- Senator Prowse suggests by interjection that a tax of this nature is not desirable - if any tax is desirable - and that it is indefensible not only in Commonwealth hands but also in State hands. However, faced with the position that we accept the principle incorporated in the Bill - that we should try to preserve rural assets in the hands of those who created them and not require them to be sold on a falling market for the payment of duty which is in respect of assets built up in times of greater prosperity but which becomes payable in times of depreciated prosperity and is required to be paid when money is no longer available except by the sale of assets - and that we accept that that principle should be applied at least at this time in the rural economy, then it is a matter of examining whether these principles as carried into operation in this Bill are adequate and whether they really perform the task that the legislation purports to perform.
The first concept, as I see the position, is. to preserve the/small rural estate. If that is given priority in this legislation, I believe that it is highly desirable. We live in a community in which there is a gradual flight from the land and in which the old and very satisfactory type of rural settlement - that is, the small family farm with the diversified rural economy - is disappearing. We have noticed rather alarming developments in Australia over the last few years. My colleague Senator McManus, on occasions, has highlighted the situation in relation to the wheat industry, in which people who are not historical or traditional farmers, who have no intention of becoming historical or traditional farmers but who use money accumulated in industrial activities because of benefits that are immediately available really for the support of those genuinely and traditionally engaged in wheat production or other forms of agriculture, buy land and then apply to it all the resources of modern engineering and attract all the benefits that were intended to go to quite a different type of producer.
That in turn will endanger the future and the existence of the small farmer, because ultimately the subsidies will become heavier and heavier and there will be a reluctance on the part of the taxpayers to pay and a reluctance on the part of any government to accept the political responsibility of constantly voting those subsidies. This’ is a very bad position in a country of our size. Our people .are fleeing to the cities and more and more condensing on the littoral around the Australian coast. If this Bill has some effect in the direction of remedying that position and preserving the small farm, it has a great deal to be said for it. However, the mere injection of this principle at this stage and at this level may not, in all justice to the farmer, remedy the situation very considerably.
I know that various farmer groups, more particularly in Victoria, have sought a restoration of the position that existed in 1948 or thereabouts. If there was to be a restoration of the rebates and exemptions that were then available in the rural sector, or perhaps generally, the provisions would have to be very much more generous than those made in this Bill. In relation to small rural properties the level of exemption from duty is being lifted from S20.000 to $24,000 or, when the estate does not go to a spouse, from $10,000 to $12,000. Candidly, that seems to be a quite insignificant increase.
I have not asked the Minister for Supply (Senator Anderson), who represents the Treasurer (Mr Bury), for the assistance of his officers in taking out figures on what that increase represents in terms of expected diminution in revenue. But I could not imagine that the diminution in revenue would be so great as to offset the great and corresponding benefits that would accrue to the small rural producers who would be embraced if the exemption were extended from $24,000 to $30,000 or, speaking in overall terms, from the present level of $20,000 to $30,000.
The other night the Minister very kindly put the services of an officer at my disposal. A quick calculation was made on a suggested figure of $40,000. I must say that the amount involved was quite considerable. It was $6m, or something of that nature. I have not asked for other figures to be taken out. In fairness to the officer concerned, I must say that the calculation was made in a short time.
– What amount did the honourable senator say $40,000 would involve?
– I think, on a rough calculation, it involved $6m or something like that. I would not like to be quoted on that figure. Whether there would be a proportionate diminution in revenue if the figure was $30,000 I do not know. I understand from an honourable senator that the taxation revenue derived from this source is about $69m in a financial year. So a reduction by $6m would not be considerable. The reduction that would be brought about by an increase in the level of exemption to $30,000 or even less than that might well warrant embarkation upon that generosity so that more small primary producers could be brought within this provision. In other words, if we are to do this, let us do it with some measure of effectiveness and not merely as a gesture which will not be of measurable value. Let us do something that can be measured in terms of the number of small properties that will be saved from the auctioneer’s hammer, from being sold merely to pay federal estate duties.
In view of the buoyant condition of the national revenue I believe that this type of tax, and the exaction of this type of tax to the very limit, are possibly one of the most undesirable courses that a revenue producing authority could pursue. In times of national stringency or for other purposes we might properly embark upon a tax of this nature. I am not speaking only in relation to primary producers but of the incidence of this tax generally. In times of national economic buoyancy, particularly when the revenues from direct taxation on incomes feeling the consequences of inflation are rising considerably and by percentages every year, when there is an area of conflict between the Commonwealth and the States and when the States are gradually being driven back to more and more unpalatable and undesirable forms of taxation, I believe that the States at least should not be deprived, u it is considered to be a fair tax in this field, of their opportunity to impose it if they accept the responsibility for the continuance of the imposition of a tax of this kind. It does seem in this situation that for the Commonwealth to persist in this field is not only ungenerous, but in the context of the Commonwealth’s position and the financial situation of the States it is also highly undesirable and to some extent almost indefensible.
In the more particular aspects of this matter, the conditions precedent to the advantage that may be taken of the provisions of this Bill that relieve the primary producer require certain things; for example over the period of the year of the death and the 4 years preceding the death, at least 50% of income must have been produced from rural sources. Again, that is an extension of some concession to primary producers. But again we look at the reality of the provision. If the object of the provision is to help people who have been affected by drought we might well consider the position in Queensland. In some areas of Queensland for a period of 5 years or more some primary producers have had virtually no income at all from their properties. Originally some income may have been obtained from the sale of stock and that may have been averaged over a period of 5 years, but apart from that some primary producers have had no income at all. Graziers and farmers have been obliged to gain their income from other sources. In the preponderance of cases, for 5 years such people could not have complied with this condition because they have had little or no income from primary production. To those people this provision will be of no value at all.
Another case worth considering is that of a man who goes on to a property and dies within a period of less than 5 years. He may be killed on the property through an unfortunate accident. In such a case his estate would be disentitled to the provisions of the amendment. In those circumstances it might have been preferable not to include in the Bill anything as specific as a time period of that character. It may have been preferable to include a general provision that if a person was substantially or predominantly engaged in rural production in the preceding 5 years or some such period, he would be eligible. Perhaps that would give a discretion to the administering authority who might in the particular circumstances allow eligibility to a person to whom, while it is technically available and looks encouraging, it would in fact otherwise be denied. Merely to write the principle of this Bill into legislation but not to give it the effectiveness which would make it particularly welcome to primary producers is, I think, an opportunity lost by the Government to do better what at least has been done quite well in the Bill.
Other matters could well have been, the subject of minor amendments. I refer, for example, to the cost of the voluntary winding up of a private company, which is not to be added in. Such a provision might well have been included because very often it is a costly exercise. I make the plea that it is very difficult to keep selective one sector of the economy for special treatment in relation to taxation measures. It is not at all easy. It is regrettable that a sector of the community is in such a position as is the farming community that this particular solicitude has to be extended to it. I have said that this form of taxation is not particularly good or defensible. The idea of giving it selective operation for certain people is not wholly defensible, justifiable as it may be in the circumstances. We have particular solicitude for primary producers in this difficult period through which they are passing.
The Commonwealth might well take into account the general situation and seriously consider the abandonment of this field of taxation. If that were to be done and if the revenue could permit it, I would hope that the result would not be an equal exaction on the part of the States. It would be unfortunate if the purpose of that abandonment of that field of taxation by the Commonwealth was defeated by the imposition of equal taxation in that field by the States. Nevertheless I am sure that the States recognise that there are desirable limits to the imposition of this type of tax by the States. If the States were the only taxing authority in that field I am sure they would not bring the level of taxation up to the level attained by the present duplication of the tax by the States and the Commonwealth.
I turn now to the amendment proposed by Senator Wilkinson on behalf of the Australian Labor Party. It seems to indicate that there is nothing in the Bill that in any way ameliorates the present conditions. Obviously that is not quite correct and I think that the word ‘adequately’ might profitably be inserted in the proposed amendment. I think much of the purport of this Bill is that if does recognise, if not expressly at least by implication, some of the effects of inflation, the duplication of estate duties and such things. They are by implication mentioned in the provisions of the Bill.
The amendment states that the Bill is inadequate as it fails to recognise certain matters. I suggest that that is not quite correct because in many respects it recognises and accepts some of the concerns which are expressed in the proposed amendment. I suggest to the Opposition that it might well think of moving that the Bill is inadequate as it fails adequately to recognise those matters set out in the proposed amendment. I commend that thought to the Opposition, because the Bill certainly does attempt to do something to ameliorate present conditions. I commend to the Government, perhaps for consideration on another occasion, the other points I have raised.
– I support the Bill. Before passing any other comment I commend the Treasurer (Mr Bury) for setting out so clearly details of the Bill in the memorandum that accompanied it. I hope that this practice will be continued in the future. It has been of great assistance in assessing all the details associated with the Bill. I congratulate the Government in continuing its move to make some concessions available in respect of the estates of deceased primary producers. As Senator Byrne said a few moments ago, it is unfortunate that primary industry has the problems that it is experiencing at present. The Government has found it necessary to make these concessions. I commend the Government for giving consideration to this area which has been a great problem for so long for those who are dependent on primary industry. The two main conditions attached to the Bill are that a deceased person’s estate must have shown that at least 50% of the deceased person’s income had been earned from primary industry and, secondly, that in excess of 50% of his estate consisted of property associated with rural industry. These are two very good points. They would exclude many investors who, over the years, had taken advantage of the general taxation provisions by entering the field of primary industry and development.
In making concessions for primary industry the Government has endeavoured to define ‘primary producer’ to ensure that these concessions go to the area intended by the Government. At the same time the provision relating to a 5-year average with regard to primary producers incomes does create problems. As Senator Byrne has said - I agree with him - the dependants of a young person who might have been on the land for 2 or 3 years only would find it very difficult to claim that he was a primary producer who would qualify under the 5-year average provision. Alternatively, a person who perhaps had been developing a property and who had another source of income until he was on his feet might not qualify as a primary producer if he had happened to die at the wrong time. I believe that consideration should be given to that period of 5 years. Nevertheless, I repeat that it is pleasing to see that the Government has endeavoured to give a clear definition of a primary producer.
One of the areas of relief is the 20% increase in the level of total exemption from $20,000 to $24,000 where the estate goes directly to a widow. This will give great assistance to families with small rural estates. But at the same time I wonder how many properties would come within this limit of $24,000. With today’s values, if we consider the property, the stock and plant, on many occasions it would be a very small property to come within the $24,000 limit. I wonder how great an area will receive assistance from this provision. However, there is an additional area where there is partial rebate. The Treasurer said in his second reading speech:
An outright exemption for eligible estates which pass wholly to the widow, children or grandchildren of the deceased person will apply where the value of the estate is $24,000 or less. For eligible estates which do not pass to such relatives, outright exemption will apply up to a value of $12,000. The present statutory exemptions are $20,000 and $10,000 respectively. For eligible estates of a value in excess of $24,000 passing wholly to the close relatives I have mentioned, the statutory exemption is to be reduced by $2 for each $8 by which the value is greater than $24,000, and thus will cut out completely at a value of $120,000.
I think one of the major areas of relief is the partial rebate of duty which will apply to properties up to the value of $250,000. This provision will cover quite a large area. For an estate up to $140,000 there will be a rebate of 50% on that part of the duty which is attributable to the rural property, and where the value of an estate is greater than $140,000 but less than $250,000 the 50% rebate will be reduced by one-tenth of 1% for each $220 by which the value of the estate exceeds $140,000. This is a big reduction; it is 50% up to $140,000 and then there is the partial rebate which finally cuts out at a value of $250,000. There may be some who would question whether the ceiling of $250,000 is perhaps excessive. Speaking of the wheat and sheep combination type properties, of the high density properties in high rainfall areas and quite a few areas of general agriculture, the capital value of many properties would exceed $250,000 for stock and plant, but at the same time the return on capital and the actual income would be very small in comparison with that received in so many other areas of industry where $250,000 has been invested. Again I commend the Government for giving assistance to this area of the rural sector. This is a move in the right direction and I hope that as time goes on further concessions will be made. I say that hopefully.
I want to say that I would support any type of abolition of death duties. I feel that they are one of the most iniquitous and unfair types of taxation which have ever been burdened on all sections of the community. One must realise that this duty was brought in as a wartime measure in 1914 in a time of emergency, presumably with the intention of it being on a temporary basis. Since then it has continued and the tax imposed by the Federal and State governments has been increased. This creates many injustices for many people in many sectors of the community. As was mentioned today by Senator Byrne, the revenue from Federal estate duties is something in the vicinity of $69m, which is marginally less than 1% of our total revenue. On a monetary basis I would suggest that the return from estate duty is not very great when one considers the problems caused and the costs to so many families in the community. I would prefer to see some type of equitable tax introduced instead of this regressive tax which affects many unfortunate people.
If we consider primary industries we see that many properties have been handed from father to son and have gone down through 3 generations - in some cases more. These people might not have bought any more land, but because of an increase in land values, because other people have seen fit to have an escalation of land values or because 2 or 3 neighbours have bought another property so that they each have a little more and are able to pay more, eventually when a person dies his estate is assessed on inflated values over which he has no control and which he has had no part in causing. Yet his dependants are burdened with this increase in value. I hope that as time goes on we will see decreases in land values. One of the great problems for primary industry has been the inflated values of property and the problem that a primary producer has in trying to give some protection to his family so that his dependants will have security when he is deceased. I have known cases where families have had to sell part of their property to meet their commitments for estate duties. I know that it is said that a person can take out insurance. I agree that a person can take out insurance to ease this situation. But at the same time we cannot overlook the fact that State governments also have their eye on this area of taxation. It is very difficult - and I am speaking as a South Australian - to avoid some form of death duties, either at the State or Federal level.
– The insurance goes into the estate.
– That is right. So it boils down to this: Either you pay throughout your lifetime or you pay in one lump sum afterwards. Whichever way you pay, you are being penalised for an asset that in most cases has been created by money on which tax has already been paid. By thrift and hard work you have developed an asset and provided some security and in many cases a means of livelihood for your dependants. I believe that one of the tragedies of the situation is that having paid tax throughout your lifetime and having created an asset for your family, estate duty is imposed when you die. It is a burden for which your family should not be responsible.
The other important question concerning estate duties, as I see them at the present time, is that a lot depends upon when a person dies. None of us wants to leave this world before he has to, but none of us has any control over this aspect. An example is a property owner with cattle in a drought frequency area. There were some years of drought, then there were 2 or 3 good seasons and the owner of the property built up his stock, but he happened to die while the property was at peak production. His family experienced 2 or 3 years of drought after he died. The value of the property was assessed on the year in which there was a good carrying of stock on the property. With a drought, the numbers of stock were depleted and the family’s income was down. It takes that family a long time to develop the property again to the stage of good earning capacity. But the family is penalised because the father happened to die at the time when the property was in full bloom of production. But it could be quite a few years after the father’s death before the property will again reach this peak of production. The case to which I have referred is not a hypothetical one. It is a true case.
– This can happen in the world of business.
– That is right, it caa happen in the world of business, but we are dealing with estate duty levelled on those engaged in primary industry. As I have said, I am opposed to all types of death duties because they affect all of us across the board. But this has happened. The economic policy of this country today - and I refer particularly to primary industry - is directed towards the aggregation of property, to increase the size of properties so that they become economic units. Whatever the interpretation of an economic unit is, I am not one who would try to define it. It depends upon the reliability of the seasons, the type of soil, the type of production and so on. So one cannot clearly say, in general, what is an economic unit, but one can do so with regard to a particular area. I think there are some districts in which all of us could perhaps say there are what we consider to be economic units. But I want to leave this question in the broad.
The economic policy today is not to have great masses of aggregation of property, but to have an aggregation of property so that it becomes an economic unit. The fiscal policies associated with death duties and like taxes result in the fragmentation of properties, because in so many instances a part of a property has to be sold to meet the liabilities of death duties. We should go further than this. Again a man’s dependants may find it necessary to buy a bit more property, to increase the size of the existing property so that it becomes an economic unit, but because of the financial commitments, such as the liability of estate duties, they are unable to purchase any additional property and so they do not have an economic unit. There are also other problems associated with these commitments. In so many instances we find that people try to cut corners and economise, with the result that efficiency is cut. Today we are encouraging greater efficiency, both in aggregation of property and in the operation of the property, yet the imposition of estate duty tends to have exactly the reverse effect. Hence I say again that I am completely opposed to any form of death duties, both at the Federal and State levels.
I mentioned earlier that a lot depends upon when the owner of the property dies. I can use another example of a property which has been handed down through the generations. The family of the deceased property owner has not done anything to cause an increase in land values, but it is penalised because of the high commercial values applying in the district. If 3 or 4 properties have been sold in a district, the prices which were paid for those properties form the basis of the assessment of the value of the deceased’s property in order to calculate the amount of death duties. So in many instances today we have the position, particularly with a downturn in income and a downturn in land values, where, because a man died 2 years ago - prior to the imposition of wheat quotas, to use an example - his family is paying death duties which are based on the inflated price of land. The deceased’s family may not have been the cause of the inflation in land prices because it may not have bought any land, but 3 or 4 properties in a district may have been sold at big prices. The family is penalised for this. At the same time, there has been a great reduction in land values. The death duties in this instance are based on high land values which applied 2 or 3 years ago, but the tragedy is that the father died then and not now when land values have dropped. Death duties are based on the capital value of properties and not on the earning capacity of properties.
So I suggest that if we have to continue with this type of iniquitous taxation, instead of estate duties being based on the capital value of a property, serious consideration should be given to making this assessment upon the earning capacity of the property. If this were done I believe that it would give greater opportunity to the dependants of the deceased eventually to meet their commitments for death duties and return the property to an effective and efficient economic unit. Perhaps this would pose many problems. There could be certain complexities with companies, but I cannot see any difficulty in obtaining figures which would show the gross return of a property and from there relating them to an assessment of estate duty. The assessment could be based on a 3 to 5 year term. This would give a far more realistic assessment of the potential of a property, and would divorce the property from any inflated land values in a district which could be caused by people who may wish to move in to a district because of investment reasons or because of competition between 2 neighbours who are determined to buy a property. Honourable senators have seen this happen.
My suggestion would alleviate the problem of getting back to the reality of determining what a property is really worth. Any property is worth only as much as it can earn. I believe that this is an area which should be given serious consideration. It may have been given consideration in the past, but if it has not I hope that it will be given consideration in the future. There could be problems, but I would hope that the problems could be overcome, because I think that the assessment of estate duties based on the earning capacity of a property would be a far more realistic approach than the one we adopt at the present time. I support the Bill. I should have liked to see a Bill that went further and dealt with other areas of estate duty because, as I said earlier, estate duty does not affect only the area of primary industry; it affects all the citizens of this country, and I would hope that one of these days Australian citizens will not be burdened with the fear that some time in the future they will become the subject of estate duties which will place a very heavy burden upon their dependants.
– Nearly 3 years ago I took the opportunity during discussion of an Appropriation Bill to speak on the subject of estate duties or, as I would prefer to call them, death taxes. Senator Young indicated that he was in favour of the complete abolition of death taxes. I assure the .Senate that I share that opinion. Death duties are perhaps one of the most indefensible of all taxes. None of us likes paying taxes. We do not pay taxes after we die, but the people whom we leave behind have to pay them. To most of us this is of greater concern than if we ourselves paid them. I favour the abolition of death taxes not only on primary producers but also on all members of the community. I think a special case can be made out for primary producers. If one looks at the figures -and I will quote them later-
– Would you exempt all people from the payment of estate duties?
– I favour the complete abolition of death taxes imposed by both Federal and States authorities. The total amount raised in this way by both State and Federal authorities is less than 3% of the total amount of State and Federal taxes combined. In the Federal sphere the amount collected represents 1.4% of revenues raised by the Taxation Branch. In relation to the total Commonwealth revenue in the Budget, the amount collected in this way is less than 1% of the amount raised. The percentage is an insignificant one, but it could have a disastrous effect upon individuals. I believe that to take from capital assets in the community and to use that money for current expenditure is a bad taxation principle. In any business, to extract something from capital assets for current expenditure is an unsound proposition. In effect, that is what death taxes do. Above all, they discourage saving and investment. As a man accumulates assets, he becomes reluctant to involve himself in taking measures to protect his estate by way of insurance against death taxes. With increasing age, the rate of insurance increases. It is very difficult for him not to involve himself in a situation in which the insurance adds to the value of his estate. I can find no economic basis for the imposition of a tax of this nature.
If we were to look at the net benefit of the tax by deducting from the gross return from death duties, allowances and losses of income tax through concessional insurance rates we would find that the figure was much smaller than it is now. On the other hand, if an insurance provision of this kind is not made, interest and repayments on capital results in a decreased return to the recipients. That should be a deduction from the net value of the tax.
– It affects the future capacity of the recipients to pay tax.
– Their earnings are lessened. Above all, it destroys the enshrined principle of the pay-as-you-earn system of taxation. The Commonwealth has paid great attention to this system of taxation. Tax is paid on wages. The taxpayer has a form of painless extraction because his employer deducts the tax from his income. Self employed persons have a system of provisional taxation to ensure that tax is paid out of current revenue. In regard to probate or death duties, this principle is forgotten. An accumulation of income on which tax has been paid over the years is required, on the death of the earner, to be assessed at a figure completely out of relationship with the time in which the money was earned and attracts an escalated rate of taxation. This has had a disastrous effect on primary industry. 1 do not think the general public has any idea of the effect of probate tax on primary industry.
If we look at the figures contained in the Taxation Statistics 1967-68’ and if we look particularly at the assessments issued from 1st July 1967 to 30th June 1968, we find that in relation to the net duty assessed - for anybody who is interested, this is Estate Duty Schedule 9.6 (b) - the primary production assessment of duty is $21. 901m. The total for all estates assessed in Australia is $57.71 lm. Primary industry is paying 38% of the total probate tax. The reason why this legislation is before us today is that the Government realises that primary industry is paying the great bulk of probate taxation. I shall take only one class of primary producer, those with an estate of a net value of $200,000 or more. Many of our wheat farms today are in that category. The farms may be earning for the owner not much more than the basic wage, but the farms have a capital value of that nature. That one section of primary industry is paying $8.792m in assessed duty. No other single section of taxpayers pays that amount. That is the total for all States. The nearest to it is the wholesale and retail trade which pays $6.4 19m. Estates in the category of wholesale and retail trade do not pay as much probate tax as farm estates of $200,000 and over. This points to a gross inequality of taxation in the present structure of the death duties system.
Death duty, apart from its inefficiency as a method of taxation, contains many repugnant anomalies. The Commissioner oil Taxation takes over the bones of an estate and queries every cheque of $200 or over. A widow is asked to delve into her late husband’s estate and explain why a cheque for $200 or more was drawn. Perhaps the woman had never needed to be involved in the family affairs. I can see no justification for the imposition of any form of probate taxation on any Australian citizen. The Government certainly needs revenue to meet its current commitments, but the time to collect this revenue is when the income is earned. The Government should not allow a liability to accumulate, because that can have disastrous effects in the future. The imposition of an estate duty is, of course, tremendously damaging to the whole structure of primary industry.
A man is very largely motivated into primary industry because it is a way of life which he likes. But his heirs and dependants find on his death that his property is subjected to a tremendous impost and they have a long grind to meet their death duty obligations. Death duty is a debt which they have to meet without having any more productive assets; it is simply a debt to be paid to the state. I can assure the Senate that there is a tremendous feeling of revulsion in Australia at present against death taxes. In this connection I need refer only to the fact that a Mr Negus in Western Australia is conducting a campaign against probate duty and so far he has collected some 57,000 signatures in protest against the duty. I believe he is getting letters at the rate of 1,000 a day in support of his campaign. I am only too happy to add my voice in this chamber to those who have spoken in opposition to the imposition of death taxes.
– The Senate is debating the Estate Duty Assessment Bill. I rise to congratulate the Government and the Treasurer (Mr Bury) for bringing this matter forward at this time. At the same time I think I should be critical of the fact that it has taken until 1970 for the Commonwealth Government, which has been basically anti-Socialist for 20 years, to introduce a measure which will bring some alleviation to a certain sector of industry. I add my weight in support of the large number of honourable senators in this chamber and honourable members in the other place who have advocated the complete abolition of estate duty. Senator Prowse, who has just made a contribution to this debate, has been a constant advocate of this proposition during the years in which I have been a member of this chamber.
One should reflect on the fact that estate duty is imposed on an asset which has been built up over a number of years. The individual who has built up this asset has had to pay State taxes, income tax and the other taxes which are imposed. Perhaps he has been a thrifty individual too. This duty is imposed regardless of whether the estate is the asset of a primary producer or a person in any other category of earning. But the greatest incidence of taxation is against his estate. I remember well the words of our present Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) when he took office. He said that it would be his objective to ensure that people were assisted in line with their attempts to save. At that stage one read into his remarks that, in relation to pensions, he intended to ensure that the individual who attempted to save during his or her working life was assisted to the same extent as the individual who was perhaps frivolous and spent earnings and savings in what could be regarded as riotous living.
Being associated with primary industry for the whole of my life I have noticed that as a citizen who is involved in primary industry enters the latter years of his life he gives attention to the question of whether he should divest himself of his assets. The basic principle behind his doing so is, of course, that much as he may have worked quite assiduously over the years to build up an asset for his dependants this will prove of limited benefit if heavy probate duty will be imposed upon his estate on his death by the State, as well as Commonwealth taxation. This seems to him to be a complete breaking down of what he has worked for during his lifetime. I support the proposition that probate duty, estate duty or death tax - whatever one may call it - should be eliminated.
Perhaps it is correct to say that the Australian Country Party has, over the years, some special obligations in regard to primary industry. Much dedicated debate has taken place within my Party to determine some procedure whereby estate duty can be eliminated. The incidence of estate duty brings about the breaking up of economic rural holdings. The Country Party has been devoted to the cause of the elimination of estate duty for some years. One individual who played a great part in the thinking of my Party on this subject was the former honourable member for Riverina, Mr Bill Armstrong who, 3 years ago, headed a committee within the Country Party which perhaps formed some of the basis for this discussion.. Certainly this Bill would not have been brought about without the full support of the Government Parties. I pay tribute to honourable senators on both sides of the chamber who support the view that the provisions of this Bill which apply purely to the rural community are acceptable to the Senate.
It is interesting to note that the benefits apply in broad terms only to primary producers, which means in actual fact rural primary producers. It is becoming more and more obvious that the term ‘primary producer’, as used in this chamber, is becoming too general. The Bill states that an estate will be eligible for the benefits contained in the Bill provided 50% of the dutiable assets of the estate are primary production assets. I note that the Bill provides that the term primary production’ as it is used in the Bill relates purely to production directly resulting from the cultivation of land, the planting or tending in a plantation or forest of trees intended for felling or the maintenance of animals for the purpose of selling them or their bodily produce, including natural increase. In other words, the Bill does not apply in general terms to primary production, but in specific terms. Incidentally, I notice that the term ‘animals or their bodily produce’ includes, in this instance, birds, that is to say, poultry.
Two criteria apply in relation to this Bill. Firstly, the primary producer who has divested himself to a large extent of his interest in rural primary production will be prohibited from receiving the benefits of this legislation. Indeed, people who have taken advantage of the taxation deductions which are available to rural producers by entering into some form of primary production will be excluded from the provisions of this Bill unless 50% of their dutiable assets are held in rural primary production assets. The Bill goes on to provide that if more than 50% of the gross income of the deceased for the 5 years preceding death was derived from carrying on a business in primary production then the estate will have the benefits available under this Bill. This provision will exclude a number of individuals who today see themselves as primary producers. I think the Government has aimed its sights very correctly at the principle which was originally spelt out; that is, the purpose of these proposed reliefs is to provide assistance to discourage the breaking up of rural economic holdings, particularly family holdings.
As was stated by a previous speaker, this death duty represented an income of $60m for the Commonwealth in the last financial year. That figure represents approximately 1% of the total Commonwealth income. I believe that a government in control of a purse which is, apparently, increasing by some hundreds of millions of dollars a year without the rate of income tax being altered in any way could well look to the complete elimination of this tax. To the Minister in charge of this Bill, the Minister for Supply (Senator Anderson) who in this chamber represents the Treasurer, I would suggest, as would so many honourable senators from every party in this Senate, the elimination of estate duty from all sectors of the community. I believe this should be given urgent consideration by this Government. It may be said that if the Government vacates this field of duty the States will still be left. As I understand it the States levy probate duty at a higher rate than the rate of Commonwealth estate duty and it may be said that the States would quickly fill the field. I suggest that in this time of modern federalism-
– Creative federalism, that is the ‘in’ word.
– I do not know that it is creative federalism.
– Try the word cooperative.
– I think the phrase co-operative federalism’ could be applied. In discussion with the various State Treasurers, I think the Commonwealth could perhaps express a view that this type of duty should be eliminated in the Cornwealth sphere. I would be very surprised if the political policies and platforms of every political party did not contain the provision that death duty should be eliminated. I know this policy is contained in my own party’s philosophy. Here we find all political parties agreeing that this duty should be eliminated, but this has not happened. I mentioned that the tax represented an income of $60m for the Commonwealth. This amount represents about 1% of total Commonwealth income. While this $60m may appear a particularly high figure it is interesting to note that the rate of taxation has remained constant in the Commonwealth sphere for nearly 30 years. But the volumes of tax which have been levied on estates have grown continually. I note that 10 years ago the income to the Commonwealth from estate duty was less than half the amount it is today. In the case of primary production this is due to the depreciating values of money and the supposed increasing value of estates. This has brought greater volumes of money to the Commonwealth.
This Estate Duty Assessment Act is considered of great importance to the rural community. Three provisions in the Act are of great importance. Firstly, genuine rural producers are allowed to obtain an outright exemption on the value of an estate. This is some 20% higher than the exemption allowed to other sectors of the community. A rebate of duty also applies. It is quite sizeable. The then Treasurer, Mr McMahon, in a ministerial statement on estate duty relief for primary producers delivered in the House of Representatives on 24th September 1969 incorporated in the Hansard report a table which showed the effect of proposed estate duty reliefs for primary producers. That table demonstrated that where two-thirds of the net value of the estate represented the net value of primary production assets there would be a significant relief to individuals who had primary production estates. This should suggest to all primary producers, if they take notice of this particularly important measure, that they should immediately look to the rescheduling of the areas of assets in which they hold their funds.
Primary producers finding that the return on their estates is not as great as it should be from genuine primary production activities over the years have sought to invest money in other pursuits. This type of measure should suggest to them that they bring their estates within the ambit of genuine rural primary production. It is of credit to the Government that it has looked to the position of proprietary companies which are genuinely held by primary producers. The proportion of assets which can be represented by rural holdings within genuine family proprietary companies comes under the benefit of this Bill.
An important matter which has not been mentioned up to date is that there has been a mandatory requirement on the Commissioner of Taxation to demand payment of estate duty within a particular time. This caused the breaking up of rural holdings. The family which held assets in a deceased estate was faced within 2 years with a demand by both State and Federal authorities for a sizeable amount of cash to pay the duty. This forced the family to place on the market assets which, perhaps under other circumstances, it would have been wise for the family to hold. Indeed, we saw the necessity for selling off some part of a farm to pay the duty. The Commissioner of Taxation is now given the right to grant an extension of time where he sees that this is in the interests of the estate. I congratulate the Government for these 3 measures which are of great benefit.
It is of interest to note that early in the debate on amendments to this Bill reference was made to the problems of quick succession. I refer to the succession of several individuals involved in an estate. The father may have died and left his estate to the mother, who may in turn have died within a short time. In such a case there would be a sizeable impost by way of duty. Amendments have been moved in thisBill to provide for a 5 year period so that the impact of the duty would be more evenly distributed. This is mentioned in clause 4 of this particular Bill. Adjustments may be made in the duty where gift duty has been paid in the 5 years prior to the death of the donor. I congratulate the Government on this measure. I would suggest to the Minister that he take note of the suggestion I made during question time today, that is, that on the passing of this Act something should be done to alert the community or that section of it which is most involved in this measure. I suggest that something should be printed and made available either for members of this Parliament to distribute or perhaps for primary industry associations to distribute. This will alert the primary producing community to the benefits which this Government has made available through this legislation. If that is not possible I would suggest to the Treasurer (Mr Bury) and the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Anthony) that consideration should be given to including these provisions in the booklet which they have revised and put out within the last month and which relates to taxation concessions for farmers and graziers. This will make the real purpose and benefit of the measure readily readable by primary producers.
I have great pleasure in supporting the comments of other honourable senators who have spoken on this matter. I congratulate the Government on the step it has taken. It is worthy of note that this measure applies retrospectively to 24th September 1969. That will be a benefit in itself. I suggest that this is a commencement from which a further breaking down of that duty which is applied through the Estate Duty Assessment Act will follow. Indeed I ask the Minister to see that the demands of honourable senators and members for the elimination of this impost be given firm consideration.
– I thank the Senate for the passage of this Bill through its second reading stage and for the contributions that have been made. Senator Wilkinson, leading for the Opposition, said that his Party supported the Bill but nevertheless believed that it should put down an amendment which expressed concern in relation to the limitations of the proposals and the problems that still remain, the Bill notwithstanding. I think that would probably be a fair summing up of the amendment. I will refer to it again only very briefly in a moment because I believe that the Senate is of a will to pass this legislation. The overwhelming burden of the debate is that nobody is in favour of death duties and I do not suppose that I would be any different from anybody else. I was intrigued to hear Senator Prowse say that a certain gentleman had so many signatures in a certain time in support of the abolition of death duties. The moment of truth comes to us all and there would not be much difficulty in getting signatures on a petition of that nature.
– Income tax, too.
– That is right. But it is a fact of life that the Government gets its revenue and it has commitments. If it does not get its revenue from one field of taxation it has of necessity to get it in another. There is nothing historically new about death duties. One can go to the Bible and see passages which could almost be interpreted as references to death duties. I am informed that we have had them in our legislation since 1914 so this is not some new form of tax that we are imposing. But I accept the message that I should convey to the Government, and I am sure that the Government hardly needs me to convey the message that nobody really is happy at the obligation to pay death duties.
– If I recall correctly the Bible states ‘Death cancels all debts’ and that would be a much better principle.
– It all depends on whether one reads the Old Testament or the New Testament. I am not a very good biblical student. Somebody said: ‘You always have to be careful of the devil quoting Scripture’. The main burden of the debate has been, of course, that whilst everybody welcomes the Bill so far as it goes everybody would say: ‘Good so far, but really we want it to be done in a greater degree in the future if possible’. Senator Webster suggested that we should ensure that when the Bill becomes law it will get the widest possible publicity. I think this is right. It is desirable that wherever possible where a new variation of the law applies it is the duty and the responsibility of the Taxation Branch to see that the application of it is effective and that nobody who is entitled to a benefit is denied it. I think this applies and has always applied in the past. Senator Byrne suggested that the Opposition’s amendment might be varied but with or without that variation the Government does not accept the amendment. The amendment alludes to the effect of Federal and State death duties, and as we all live by the Federal system we understand that the existence of State duties is not a matter which comes within the responsibility of the Commonwealth.
It is a fact, of course, that the application of the duty is not so heavy at the Commonwealth level as at the State level. It is true that there may be difficulties and the Bill goes some distance towards meeting them. There is a problem of providing funds to meet liabilities on death and I think the Bill goes a certain distance in relation to that. The amendment does refer, of course, to the difficulties inherent when the duty is imposed by the States as well as the Commonwealth. Incidentally, the revenue is of the order of $62m and this variation in exemption from $20,000 to $24,000 is a variation of 20%. Senator Byrne talked in terms of a 50% variation in the exemption rate. But the $62m is collected from right across the community - from businessmen, farmers and primary producers. This concession will cost revenue an amount of the order of $5m which, when related to the amount of $62m, is about 8% if my mathematics are correct. So the rural industries in this instance will get a tax concession because everybody will receive the concession. It will be of the order of 8% of the totality of death duties which in one piece of legislation is a quite a concession.
Senator Prowse referred to the incidence on people in primary industry as a section of the community. I really believe that this piece of legislation which incidentally will take effect from September 1969, in the variation from $20,000 to $24,000 and in the additional concessions being given is quite a significant contribution to a solution to the problems of rural industry. Honourable senators have used the forms of this place to advocate some necessary concessions in this field. Senator Prowse is one that I recall. The Bill sets out to give a special concession to primary industry, having regard to and in recognition of the problems of primary industry, in terms of a variation from $20,000 to $24,000. That is a significant variation in relation to other estates in the community on which probate has to be assessed. I do not want to develop the matter any further because, apart from the amendment which may be varied and on which we probably will have a vote, and irrespective of the outcome of that vote, I believe that we are all as one in saying: ‘This is a good Bill’. Some may say that it does not go far enough but it is a good Bill and should enjoy the support of the Senate.
– As mentioned by the Leader of the Government (Senator Anderson) when speaking to the amendment, Senator Byrne pointed out during the course of his remarks that our proposed amendment uses the word inadequate’ which really does not fit in with the rest of the amendment. It denotes something harsher than we intended. I have discussed this with Senator Wilkinson who has been handling the Bill, and I ask the Senate to support the request that I now make that we be permitted to add the one word ‘sufficiently’ to the opening line of our amendment which at present reads:
That the Bill is inadequate as it fails to recognise . . .
It now will read:
That the Bill is inadequate as it fails to recognise sufficiently . . .
This breaks down the harshness to which Senator Byrne referred.
– I accept that as an alteration to the amendment.
That the words proposed to be added (Senator Wilkinson’s amendment as amended) be added.
The Senate divided. (The President - Senator Sir Alister McMullin)
Majority.. . . . . 6
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Original question, as amended, resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and reported from Committee without amendment; report adopted.
Motion (by Senator Anderson) proposed: That the Bill be now read a third time.
– I intimated to the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Anderson) that I proposed to move an amendment to the motion for the third reading in these terms:
At end of motion add the words:’but the Senate expresses the view that the Government should consider as soon as possible the complete elimination of Federal estate duty’.
I do not wish to speak at any great length. This amendment has been prompted by views expressed in the course of the second reading debate, in which it was agreed that the amendments in the Bill provided for an amelioration of the situation but there was an expression of opinion that the tax should be eliminated altogether. I believe that it is good for the Senate, as a States House, to put on formal record its views on this matter. We have duplication in this tax. It is levied by the States and the Commonwealth. Apart from the intrinsic merit of the matter itself, I believe that the Senate should express a view against the continued imposition of Federal estate duty when it is also being imposed by the States. For that reason I commend to the Senate the amendment to the motion for the third reading, which I will now move.
– Order! Senator Byrne, I am afraid that your amendment is not in order.
– May I ask why?
– It would be necessary for you to obtain leave.
– Then I ask - not with great expectations - for leave to move the amendment.
– Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– I am very much indebted to the Leader of the Government for his attitude, which is one I would expect him to adopt. Pursuant to leave, I move the amendment to which I have spoken in the last few moments, namely:
At end of motion add the words: ‘but the Senate expresses the view that the Government should consider as soon as possible the complete elimination of Federal estate duty’.
– Is there a seconder for the amendment? It needs a seconder.
– I second it.
Senator MURPHY (New South WalesLeader of the Opposition) (4.32] - This is a very serious matter and not one to be entered into lightly like some other activities in life. The amendment, if I can decipher Senator Byrne’s handwriting, reads:
At end of motion add the words: ‘but the Senate expresses the view that the Government should consider as soon as possible the complete elimination of Federal estate duty’.
This is an extremely important matter. It is concerned with the allocation of the revenues to be derived from the Australian community as between the Commonwealth and the States. It is a matter not merely for the Government but for the Parliament itself. Now, at the third reading stage, as a result of some suggestions being made during the second reading debate, this amendment has been moved by Senator Byrne. With all respect to him, I put to the Senate the view that this amendment has been conceived hastily and that this is not the way to deal with the matter, especially as there is on the notice paper of the Senate a notice of motion in the name of Senator Willesee in this form:
That the Senate considers that the Government has failed to make reasonable financial arrangements with the States for carrying out the activities of the States, local government and semigovernmental authorities.
– That has nothing to do with it.
– Even more importantly, there is on the notice paper of the Senate an adjourned debate on the following motion moved by Senator Little:
If Federal estate duty is not the raising of revenue, I do not know what is. That motion, which was put forward by Senator Little of the Australian Democratic Labor Party, suggests that a joint select committee be appointed to discuss the whole matter of the raising of revenue so that both the Commonwealth and the States will be able to discharge their functions properly. Yet now, before that motion has even been dealt with by the Senate and before a decision has been made on whether a joint select committee should investigate that matter, an amendment has been moved at the third reading stage of this Bill which would commit us to a certain view on it. Whatever the merits of the amendment are - it may be that in the ultimate this may be the right course; who knows? - it is important-
– Would not the same argument apply to your amendment?
– I suggest that, whatever the rights or wrongs of this matter may be, it is important that a serious question such as this be entered upon deliberately. Why should members of parties here be expected to express their view without even having had the opportunity to give the amendment 1 minute’s consideration, let alone to discuss it with their colleagues and to consider what emanates from their party discussions? I would wager that many honourable senators would not know what was in their party policy or platform on this matter. They have had no opportunity to look at it. Yet we are expected instantaneously to deal with this matter. In those circumstances, whatever the view might be after mature consideration of the matter and whether or not that consideration is to be preceded by a committee of some kind - whether as proposed by Senator Little or appointed in some other manner to assist the deliberations of the chambers - I suggest again with due respect to Senator Byrne that this is not the way - on the third reading of a Bill - in which such a serious matter should be dealt with.
– I suppose that it would be rare for the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Murphy) and I to be tending to speak in the same direction in relation to an amendment of this nature. I want to make it clear that I hold views on the amendment which, in the ultimate, approximate his, but I hold them probably for different reasons. In my reply to the second reading debate I brought out the fact that the whole burden of the debate related to the question of death duties. I probably failed to say in response to representations put to me that after legislation has been put into operation the Government looks at it and has regard to the application of it. The Government has to look constantly at the possible need in the fullness of time, for extension of the application of a Bill. Having regard to the debate in this place, the Treasury, as the representative of the Government in this instance, very properly will be looking at the points of view expressed by various honourable senators. That is one thing.
But let me put this to the mover of this amendment, Senator Byrne: I would not like to see this statement tagged on as part of the motion for the third reading of the Bill.
– Of course you would not. That is normal.
– That is right. I believe that it would tend to take away some of the value of the Bill which we are passing and to which, to either a limited or maximum degree, we are giving support.
– The Bill has gone only so far.
– The Bill has gone so far, but the honourable senator proposes to add to the motion for the third reading a statement that it has not gone far enough.
– The Senate has already carried that as a proposition.
– The Senate has carried that by resolution. This proposed amendment will have to go to a vote. I oppose the amendment moved by the Opposition at the second reading stage, which has now been carried. I oppose this proposal in a different context because I believe that it tends to detract from the merit of the Bill and to move into another area.
– I think it is an improvement to the Bill.
– That is fanenough. That is your judgment. But I am expressing the view that I would not want to see it carried and I would not want the point to be pressed. I would also be reluctant to be forced to resist it, but I believe that it would not be right in this context to make this addition at the third reading stage. I think that the forms of the House can be used in another way on this issue. I do not think that Senator Byrne would have any difficulty in getting overwhelming support, even from Ministers if the question was taken in isolation, but to make an addition to this Bill which is granting large concessions is I think inclined to weaken the character and construction of the Bill.
Senator McMANUS (Victoria) (4.41] - Frankly, I. am astounded at the flurry that seems to have occurred over a simple proposition which we have asked the Government to examine in relation to federal estate duty. Surely Government supporters are not such timid, shrinking violets that they will be upset in doing so. The Constitution will not be upset. Surely members of the Australian Labor Party are not such timid, shrinking violets that they will suddenly be upset by our saying to the Government: We have already carried an amendment in regard to this matter and we think you ought to have a look at the whole field.’ That is what a government is for. If people in either House feel that the Government ought to have a look at a particular field of legislation, what is wrong with making that request, particularly in view of some of the statements that I have heard from both sides of the chamber about the present unsatisfactory situation?
– Does not your proposed amendment express a definite opinion?
– No. It states that the Government should have a look at the question. It does not say that the tax should be abolished. It asks whether that would be desirable. I do not think that that procedure would upset anybody terribly or overthrow the Constitution. If the position is that we cannot properly deal with this proposal because of the motion on the notice paper moved by Senator Little in regard to Commonwealth and State financial relations, we ought to stop dealing with anything at all that is related to taxation. I have never heard such a far fetched or strained argument in all my life as the suggestion that the Senate cannot ask the Government to examine the question of federal estate duty because there is on the notice paper a proposal for a commission to examine the question of Commonwealth and State financial relations.
I am surprised that Senator Murphy should rebuke Senator Byrne by saying that he heard about the proposition only at the last minute. In the brief period that Senator Gair was overseas and I was Acting Leader of my Party, at one stage it seemed to be par for the course for amendments to be proposed on this side of the chamber without my knowing anything about them. There were occasions when proposed amendments were produced out of a hat and I was not given a copy. Some people were told of the proposals, but it appeared to me that I was never told. I received some very nice apologies. On each occasion I was overlooked I received a most polite apology, but after Senator Murphy has offended 4 or 5 times within the last couple of weeks I think it is a little tough for him to turn on us and ask why we do not observe the proprieties.
– The Senate has carried the second reading of a Bill dealing with estate duty, with an addendum that expressed an opinion. The motion now before the Senate on the third reading of the Bill is an indication that some senators are of the opinion that the opinion expressed in the addendum does not go far enough. As I clearly indicated when I previously spoke on this Bill I favour the complete abolition of death taxes and I therefore intend to support the proposed amendment to the motion for the third reading of the Bill.
– The Leader of the Opposition in the Senate (Senator Murphy) in opposing this measure has certainly shown to the Senate, if I may say so with due respect, a very two faced attitude. He suggests that the amendment proposed by Senator Byrne has no application, when in fact the Senate has just carried the second reading of the Bill with an amendment moved by the Opposition. That amendment is quite stringent in its terms. It states that the Bill is inadequate as it fails to recognise certain things. Following that situation the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate has argued that the amendment proposed by the Australian Democratic Labor Party is not acceptable for a variety of reasons which the Labor Party itself included in the amendment to the motion for the second reading that has been carried by the Senate.
– They have one rule book for themselves and another one for everyone else.
– I have a particular rule book, too. I say to the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Anderson) that I am somewhat concerned. I have just expressed when speaking on this Bill the view that I hold firmly to the principles that my Party embodied in its platform, one of which is that there should be a progressive lessening of death duties towards their abolition.
All honourable senators might benefit by my reading to them the principles upon which the Australian Country Party bases its attitude towards taxation generally. I believe those principles are well expressed. Our policy states:
The Australian Country Party supports the application of taxation at the lowest level compatible with the financing of national obligations and the maintenance of private initiative and borne equitably by all sections of the community but with minimal use of indirect taxation where the effect is to increase the cost of production.
Our philosophy, which embraces the basic objectives of our national policy, is then stated as follows:
The use of taxation -
to assist the development of Australia’s natural resources;
to encourage an even distribution of Australia’s population throughout the continent.
Taxation incentives, including concessions, rebates and depreciation allowances to enable efficient expansion in rural and export industries.
The application of taxation so as to encourage individual initiative, enterprise and stimulate private capital investment.
The provision of maximum relief for the tax payer with family responsibilities.
The encouragement of improved productivity through concessional allowances and taxation rebates on the acquisition of new plant and machinery and on money spent on research and development
The application of taxation concessions -
To minimise the cost of education and medical and hospital expenses to persons living in isolated country areas;
To offset the dissolution of stud properties and family rural estates to meet probate duties;
To minimise the incidence of death duties so as to avoid the necessity for the forced sale of family property where the estate is left to the wife and children of the testator.
Undoubtedly honourable senators would agree that much has been achieved in line with those principles. Our policy goes on:
There are only 3 other points. They are:
The last one, in respect of which I feel that I must support the move of members of the Democratic Labor Party in this instance, as undoubtedly they have taken this policy from the Country Party, reads:
How can one within my Party fail to support the move put forward by the DLP on this occasion?
– For reasons which I think have not been advanced by any person who has spoken in the debate, I welcome this opportunity to express a view which I think ought to commend itself to the Senate. I shall certainly support this amendment. Not only do I think that the Government should consider it but also I hope the Government will act upon it. I do not share .the view which has been expressed by my Country Party colleagues that a case has been made out for the abolition of all death duties. However, I certainly feel that a case is well made out for the abolition of federal estate duties. The time has long passed since death duties, succession duties and estate duties were a means whereby the wealthy people of the community could contribute in some way to the maintenance of State services because in that form it represented some redistribution of the wealth of the community.
For many years death duties, succession duties and estate duties have been used by all governments as a means of raising revenue and I think that in the Commonwealth of Australia we have reached the stage where we find the State governments endeavouring to utilise to the utmost all the revenue raising techniques open to them. They have raised the probate duties or succession duties to an onerous level. On top of that we find the federal estate duty, which is raised on the higher incomes, adding particularly to the burden of the higher income earners - the wealthier people. Because there has been a development, for a variety of reasons, of the wealth of country people, through valuations of their properties increasing the primary producers have been hit particularly hard. But these are not the only people who have been hit hard. In the Commonwealth of Australia ‘Gazette’ I notice that Commonwealth revenue from estate duty has amounted to $62m in the year 1 968-69, and it is estimated to produce $61m in the year 1969-70.
– Do you notice the incidence of primary producers contributing to that figure?
– I understand that primary producers pay approximately $21m of the $60m, so whilst the primary producer pays a significant part, let it not be forgotten that approximately $40m is paid by other members of the community.
– But what is the proportion of numbers?
– I am proposing to indicate my agreement with the amendment in the same way as Senator Webster. I merely indicate that I am doing it for a different reason. When one considers what could be the outcome if the Commonwealth were to repeal all its federal estate duties one realises that there would be a sum of approximately $60m which would be a vacuum, a gap, able to be filled by State governments. I believe that they would not take up the whole of that gap. They would have the opportunity to do 2 things: Firstly, to increase their own State revenues; secondly, to abolish probate duties, succession duties and death duties in a way which took account of the realities of the existing situation, which they are not able to do at the moment.
If I may refer only to my own State of Victoria, out of a Budget income of revenue of $709m in the current financial year, the State receives $48m - approximately 6% - by way of probate duty. I feel that if there were access to the proportion of the Commonwealth estate duty which is paid from Victoria - speaking from recollection, I think it is in the vicinity of $ 12m or $ 13m in each financial year - that would give an opportunity which would be welcomed by the Government of Victoria to increase its revenue. For those reasons, what has been suggested has for me considerable appeal. I think it is appropriate that when the opportunity arises one should express what one’s view is in regard to this matter. I propose to do so.
– Firstly, I do not want to add to the heat which was brought unnecessarily into this debate. Senator McManus asked in a general way: Are we timid, shrinking violets? I have been called most things in the course of my political career, but I do not think that until this time I have been called a timid, shrinking violet. The other thing is that Senator Webster says we are taking a two-faced attitude to this.
– ‘Hear, hear!
– The honourable senator says ‘Hear, hear!’ I find it difficult to understand people who are now going to offer to the Commonwealth Government a very strong expression of opinion that it should consider stepping out of this field, in other words, abolishing the Commonwealth section of estate duty, but at the same time would not vote for the proposal that difficulties were aggravated by the joint operation in this field of the Commonwealth and States and that these matters should be fully examined with a view to early relief being afforded by early amendment of the Act. Where are the timid, shrinking violets?
– It did not go far enough.
– The honourable senator voted for it so he is not in the particular category that I am talking about.
– I cannot understand why they did not.
– Perhaps the honourable senator will allow me to continue. This is not a thing that we should be getting very excited about. It is a pretty serious thing, as Senator Murphy has pointed out, and I think it should be approached fairly seriously. Far from being shrinking and timid about it, I hope that the day does not come when on the third reading of Bills we have to consider giving virtually a pretty strong indication to the Government to abolish $62m or to move out of that field without giving the matter more serious consideration. I think the amendment that has been carried is one which does give an indication to the Government. I do not want to read it again, but it points out that there are difficulties.
Senator Greenwood has touched on the question of 2 governments being in the same field. He indicated also that there would be no certainty of the State governments entering the field vacated by the Commonwealth. He said that he did not think it would happen. There is no certainty that if we stepped out of this field it would not be an invitation for State governments to move further into the field. These are the sorts of things that we have indicated through our amendment should be examined. Surely there has been a fairly general feeling of agreement on this. This is a field of taxation and, therefore, as with all the taxation systems that we have and all the segments of taxation schemes that we have, I do not think it is one that can be approached on this level. All that we tried to do in our amendment, which has been accepted already, was to indicate to the Government that this is a field which should be looked at carefully. Perhaps the Commonwealth could get some indication from State governments as to how far they would want to go and how far public opinion would allow them to move into this area if they had the opportunity to do so. Senator Anderson dealt with this as being $62m across the board and said that the Government had tried to do something for the primary industries in which Senator Webster is so interested, but Senator Webster himself says that he stands for the abolition of this duty across the whole board as applied to everybody.
– It has nothing to do with primary industry and is not relevant to the Bill.
– This is true and I wondered at the validity of the amendment, although I did not raise this question. But the question whether we should be in this field does not come into this debate. The Government itself has talked at election time and under pressure about a reduction in taxation in different areas for the living - not necessarily for the dead. One wonders whether this is a field of taxation where we should begin an elimination. The Government obviously does not think so because although it has talked about it, so far it has not come around to some form of lowering of the taxation of those in the middle income group. If the Commonwealth is to forego $62m, or $69m as Senator Greenwood indicated would be the amount next year, we must consider whether people in the community who have not been able to accumulate money would be given any relief. I do not think we can seriously ask the Senate to make hasty decisions such as that and to come forward on the third reading of a Bill with a suggestion to the Government that it should think seriously of moving out of a field which yields almost $70m.
– Surely the Government ought to think seriously-
– I am sorry, but I cannot hear the honourable senator. I am not castigating him because he moved the amendment at this time, and I am not castigating him because it is in his own handwriting and is difficult to read. I believe that amendments should be moved on the floor of this chamber because I think this is what the Senate is for. I am not greatly disturbed if the honourable senator moving an amendment does not give me a copy of it in oils by Rembrandt. But 1 am saying that he is being hasty in moving an amendment on the third reading of the Bill when the substance of the amendment was canvassed in only an offhand way during the second reading debate. 1 return to the point that I do not think an amendment should be moved on the third reading of a Bill without giving all the parties a chance to consider adequately the amendment and to obtain the benefit of the knowledge of those who speak on the amendment. Therefore, I agree with Senator Murphy that we ought not to support the amendment at this stage.
– Having for so many years expressed the view very freely and frankly that I support the abolition of any type of death duties, I would be going back on my principles if at this stage I did not rise and express this view again. I have already expressed it this afternoon when I spoke during the second reading debate. When I look at the amendment which was moved by the Australian Labor Party I find that it states:
That the Bill is inadequate as it fails to recognise -
I repeat the words ‘the burden of Federal and State death duties’. Here the Labor Party’s amendment is giving thought to the great problem of this area of death and estate duties. The amendment continues:
the particularly critical situation -
Here again we find that the Labor Party is expressing a view which Senator Byrne has suggested the Government should consider.
– Why did you not vote for our amendment?
– Because I am prepared to go further, and I am asking honourable senators opposite whether they are prepared to go further. Then the amendment states:
– Senator Young, are you not canvassing the amendment with which we have already dealt?
– I am in your hands, Mr President, but I am trying to point out in argument that there is very little difference between the thoughts behind the proposals in the Opposition’s amendment and the thoughts behind the proposal in Senator Byrne’s amendment. That is my reason for referring to the Labor Party’s amendment, but if you direct that I should not do so, then I shall not continue with it. But I want to say this: Ever since I have been here we have listened continually to members of the Opposition saying: ‘We are going to help primary industry. Why does not the Government do this?’ There are so many areas in which the Government has assisted the rural sector of the community by providing subsidies, long term loans and so on. Here is an opportunity to carry that assistance a great deal further, by asking the Government to consider, not immediately, but to consider the abolition of estate duties, and we find that the Opposition is bucking and ducking. I now ask honourable senators opposite: Where is their sincerity when they stand up and say: We will toe the benefactors of primary industry. We want to help the little man. We want to do this. Give us a chance and we will show you just what good we can do for primary industry.’?
Here is an opportunity to give no more than an indication of where we would like to assist primary industry, but honourable senators opposite are ducking and weaving and are saying that they have had no notice of the amendment. If there is any sincerity in the thoughts of honourable senators opposite, they would not have needed any notification of Senator Byrne’s amendment, because their direction would be very clear for them. The first I heard of the amendment was when Senator Byrne moved it. But my convictions are such that
I have always been opposed to this area of taxation not only for the rural sector but for every sector of the community. I know where 1 am going. Senator Byrne’s amendment has not worried me in any way at all. It has given me an opportunity to go further with my expression of view which I have always conveyed both outside and inside this Parliament. Finally, the next time Opposition senators rise and commence to speak about what they want to do for primary industry, I hope they will not mind if a few of us smile smugly and wonder what depth there is behind the words which they express.
– I take it that I will close the debate if I speak now?
– I am staggered at the response of the Australian Labor Party-
– Order! You have no right of reply.
– I am sorry.
That the words proposed to be added (Senator Byrne’s amendment) be added.
The Senate divided. (The President - Senator Sir Alister McMullin)
Majority . . 20
Question so resolved in the negative.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a third time.
Debate resumed from 5 May (vide page 1 1 17), on motion by Senator Anderson: That the Bill be now read a second time.
Senator McCLELLAND (New South Wales) (5.12] - For 6 long years the legislation now before the Senate has been overdue. The fact that since the Senate Select Committee on the Encouragement of Australian Productions for Television presented its report to the Parliament in 1964 over $130m worth of film and television programmes have been imported whilst Australian actors, writers, producers and technicians have been battling against the economic winds for a living is one of the greatest indictments of this Government. The legislation is an apt illustration of the old adage: ‘Better late than never’. I have been a strong advocate of the establishment of an Australian Film Development Corporation. Whilst in my opinion and in the opinion of the Opposition this Bill does not go far enough - and in many respects some of us can be quite critical of it - at least it does go part of the way towards the development of an effective film and television industry in Australia. It is for that reason that we do not oppose the Bill, although we intend to move an amendment in the Committee stage. We say that the amendment will give more strength to the Bill.
I think it is fair to say that this idea now presented to the Parliament in the form of legislation was first conceived in Australia in 1963 when the Senate Select Committee on the Encouragement of Australian Productions for Television made its report to the Parliament. In those days, when money was worth much more than it is now, that Committee, generally referred to as the Vincent Committee, recommended that an amount of $2m be set aside for the purpose of encouraging the production of Australian films and television programmes, quite apart from the distribution aspect which is now brought into the Bill. The fact that only $lm has been allocated to this Corporation today is somewhat of a disappointment, but at least the intention of the legislation is to establish the Corporation. We trust that, once having been established, the Corporation will grow to such an extent that it will become a great influence in the cultural and artistic life of Australia. I do not say, nor do I intend to convey, that the legislation is considered by the Opposition to be perfect; indeed, far from it. But at least it has arrived at long last. I trust that the Corporation will grow into a very sturdy, healthy and effective framework.
It is a great pity that the late Senator Seddon Vincent and the late Senator Sam Cohen could not have been here today because by this legislation they would have seen some fulfilment of the enormous amount of work that they put into the Senate Select Committee that was appointed in 1962 and which sat through all of 1963. The late Senator Vincent was the Chairman of that Committee. Although very seriously ill during the time that the Committee sat, he left no stone unturned to ensure that a report was presented to Parliament which, if implemented in toto, would lay the foundations for Australia to have a viable and effective film and television industry. The late Senator Sam Cohen also was a member of that Committee. He too contributed an enormous amount of work in the presentation and in the drafting of the Committee’s report. Senator Wright and Senator Drake-Brockman, both of whom are now Ministers, also were members of the Committee. I suppose that they have obtained some satisfaction, because of the work that they did in connection with the Committee, in seeing this legislation come before us. My colleague, Senator Cant, and I were members of the Opposition elected to the Committee. Another member of the Committee is now a member of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board.
– He was a senator. He is now Mr George Hannan. It is rather interesting to note that the Senate Select Committee made 92 recommendations. 1 think this is only the second recommendation that in part has been implemented by the Government, The first recommendation implemented was when the Government enlarged the membership of the Australian Broadcasting Commission from 7 to 9. If the other 90 recommendations made to the Senate in 1964 by that Committee had been implemented, today there would be a flourishing Australian indigenous film and television industry. Unfortunately, for a great number of years very few people, except those connected with the film industry and the cultural life of Australia, seemed to take any notice of the Vincent Committee’s report. Practically on a weekly basis I or others interested in the subject have asked in Parliament that action be taken. Certainly the battle has been waged upon a number of fronts.
In 1968 the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation brought Lord Willis, a very famous British playwright, script writer and producer - I might say that he is a personal friend of mine - to Australia to attend a seminar which was held at the University of New South Wales between 11th and 15th November of that year. He made an. excellent report after a study of the future of a film industry in Australia. His report covered a multitude of subjects connected with the establishment of a film industry in Australia. Among other things, he said at page 16 of the report which he presented to UNESCO:
Throughout this report I have stressed (he need for urgency. This is not an academic point Australia has a long way to go if it is to catch an, in film and television terms, with other developed countries. Valuable time has already been lost, time which has cost the country dear, not OnlY in terms of money. The competition in the ana of film and television production will become fiercer as the opportunities expand, and Australia will only be able to compete with success if it can produce programmes and films of a high quality.
– I do not deny the application of that statement to the film industry generally, but I think it is only fair to say that it appears in the first part of the report, which deals with the need for training. The second part deals with marketing and production.
– Is the Minister referring to the report of Lord Willis?
– I appreciate what the Minister says. I am coming to another section now. I quoted that portion of the report to show that there was an urgent need for action in 1968.
– I do not deny its application in relation to the part dealing with training.
– What I am saying is that at that stage - November 1968 - -it was obviously the view of Lord Willis that very little if anything had been done despite the fact that the report of the Vincent Committee had been tabled in the Parliament in 1964.
– But training schools were provided for in the very next Budget.
– Exactly- the Budget brought down in 1969. But Lord Willis had pointed out to the Organisation and to the Government in 1968 that urgent action was required. At page 34 of his report under the heading ‘Development of Television Production’ he said in his concluding remarks:
What gives them a new urgency and sharpness now is that Australia does have a great opportunity within her grasp. Given quick and resolute action, it is certain that she could create what will virtually be a new industry. In television and film production Australia has the best chance yet to build a television and film production industry which could supply a considerable proportion of her own needs in entertainment and education, and win a profitable place in world markets.
Not the least benefit from this would be that television and films would at last be able to give full expression to the unique Australian spirit, through the fullest use of its great wealth of talent.
The Opposition has been saying the same thing in this Parliament for a number of years, but because the Government has been lethargic in introducing a measure of this nature a great number of our actors, writers and technicians have been denied continuity of work in this industry. I would suggest that when the Corporation is established and gets under way its members should study closely the report which Lord Willis tendered to the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation and, where possible, the recommendations I have enumerated should be implemented. By the time the report of Lord Willis was received the Australian Council for the Arts bad established a film committee. On 27th May last year it brought down a number of recommendations to the Government. I wish to quote from page 1 of a document published by the Producers and Directors Guild of Australia, which sets out the recommendations submitted in the interim report of the film committee of the Australian Council for the Arts to the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) on 27th May 1969. The document states:
In the committee’s view there is need for an agency of national policy to stimulate and develop the Australian film and television industry. To this end it recommends that the Government establish an Australian film and television development corporation consisting of 5 or 6 members with pecuniary interest in commercial film and television production. This corporation should be the main instrument of Government support for the industry’ in its commercial aspects, and to this end should be responsible for, inter aiia, the administration of a film and television fund which could invest in or make loans to film and television programme makers for the production of quality films and programmes with a significant Australian content and also the making of grants and awards for films and television programmes of high quality.
I note that the Bill prohibits members appointed to the Corporation from having a pecuniary interest in the industry, whereas it would appear from a citing of these comments by the Producers and Directors Guild of Australia that the film committee of the Australian Council for the Arts suggested to the Government that the Corporation should consist of 5 or 6 members with a pecuniary interest in commercial film and television production.
I have already said that legislation of this nature should have been introduced earlier. In the last 6 years nearly $140m has been spent by Australia on the importation of programmes. Indeed, according to an answer given to me in this chamber on 18th March of this year, $86.6m has been spent on the importation of programmes for television and $53. lm on the importation of films for other exhibition purposes. With the concurrence of honourable senators I incorporate in Hansard a question I placed on notice and the answer given on 18th March this year by the Minister for Supply (Senator Anderson) on behalf of the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr McEwen).
(Question No. 29)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Industry, upon notice:
How much has been spent by Australia, and in what countries, on the purchase of (a) television films and (b) feature or cinema films, from foreign countries, in each of the years since 1962.
– The Minister for Trade and Industry has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
The following table shows allocations of overseas exchange which I am informed have been authorised since 1962-63 for the purchase of films for television programme material and for other exhibition purposes. Statistics are not available for payments to individual countries. However, the undermentioned payments to the sterling area and non-sterling area would be predominantly for material of United Kingdom and United States of America origin respectively.
The answer shows that of the $86.6m spent abroad for the purchase of films for use on television $ 17.6m worth came from the sterling area and $69m worth came from the non-sterling areas between the fiscal years 1962-63 and 1968-69. Of the $53. lm spent on films for other exhibition purposes films costing $2. 8m came from the sterling area and films costing $50. 3m came from the non-sterling areas. I do not say all this money would have been saved had the Government taken action earlier, but certainly a great proportion of it would have been saved. Certainly a lot of Australian talent would not have had to go abroad to make their skills known to the world and a lot 15360/70 - S. - (6il more talent would have been developed in this country much earlier.
I intend raising one or two matters about the Bill in the Committee stage. Despite very little assistance from governments a film industry exists in Australia because of the determination and dedication of a number of Australians. The Australian Film Council which is established in Sydney set out in its newsletter published in February this year a number of films which have been made or which are, as it were, on the drawing board. The newsletter says this:
Whilst it is sad to report at the beginning of 1970 there is no indigenous feature film production, one local co-production is now before the cameras, NLT-Group Wy ‘Wake in Fright’, but alas, nothing to follow. However, several features made here in the last year will be released within weeks of each other. NLT’s ‘Squeeze a Flower’ is premiered this month, with Warner Bros-Seven Arts ‘Adam’s Woman’ (‘Return of the Boomerang’) having its world premiere here in March. Goldsworthy’s ‘Colour me Dead’ and That Lady from Peking’ are ready and Mawson Continental’s ‘The Set’ opens this month too whilst Tony Richardson’s ‘Ned Kelly’ is eagerly awaited this June. Meanwhile, ‘Age of Consent’ and Skippy and the Intruders’ are keeping summer audiences happy right round Australia. It is interesting to note that ‘Age of Consent’ is rated thirteenth most popular film screened in Sydney during 1969.
I mention these matters to show that there are people in this industry or connected with it who have had faith in their own ability to make films of a reasonably high quality.
– ls it not a fact that in both Sydney and Melbourne at the present time the highest rated film is produced by an Australian?
– I think you are speaking of television films?
– 1 am speaking of feature films as distinct from films on television. I appreciate the point the honourable senator has made.
– I thought you mentioned ‘Skippy’.
– Yes, but that has been sold abroad. What I am saying is that a great number of Australians have been employed on these productions, but had there been continuity of work available to those who were employed their skills would have been greater today and the productions they are embarking upon now would have had much easier access to world markets. The Prime Minister in introducing this Bill in another place said:
A flourishing film industry in Australia will employ talented Australian writers, artists, directors, actors, musicians and technicians.
I certainly agree with those remarks, but the mere passage of this legislation and the successful functioning of the Australian Film Development Corporation will not make the film industry in Australia a flourishing one. Other things have to be done quickly if there is to be a successful, continual production industry in Australia. As I said earlier, $lm is niggardly enough when compared with amounts made available by other countries. For instance, the British Film Finance Corporation which was established as far back as 1948 was funded with an amount of £5m sterling. Canada founded its corporation in the early 1960s with an amount of about $Can10m. In addition to making substantial sums of money available at the foundation stages of the corporations those 2 governments did something else which will also have to be done in Australia so far as television and film importations are concerned. Those government*; not only established a strict indigenous quota, they also imposed a foreign quota. In Great Britain the foreign quota was 14%. I think in Canada at that time it was about 30% or 40%. By taking such action both countries were able to say to those who were wanting to sell programmes in Great Britain and Canada for both television and film purposes: ‘Well, you can sell 10 to us if you take 2 of ours.’ It was with this imported foreign quota arrangement that these countries were able to get their Canadian films and British films effectively on to the world markets, particularly in the United States and Japan. This is how Great Britain and Canada have built up their industries. I certainly believe this has to be done here.
Let me refer to paragraph 100 of the report from the Senate Select Committee on the Encouragement of Australian Productions for Television which was tendered to the Senate in 1964. I quote in full the paragraph dealing with the early history of the Australian film industry because it is interesting, lt states: 100. The rise and fall of the Australian film industry is a melancholy spectacle for contemplation by Australians. One often hears it said that
Australia can never make films’, and that the business of film making is- ‘best left to those countries (meaning the United States of America who can do it better than we can”. The Committee rejects the sentiments so expressed, lt is not generally known that Australia produced the world’s first motion picture (‘Soldiers of the Cross’ in 1901), that from the beginning of the century until the immediate post-World War I years Australia was one of the leading producers in the world of full length (‘feature’) films, that no less than 198 full-length ‘feature’ films were made in and exported by Australia during that period and that these films were made by Australian artists, directors and producers.
– What period was that?
– That was between 1901 and the immediate postWorld War I year. In a period of roughly 20 years Australia made 198 full-length feature films. From recollection, between 1900 and 1930 Australia produced about 250 feature films.
– As Hollywood advanced Australia went back.
– Exactly. As the big business distributors got on to the Australian market our production activities receded. The report goes on:
Wilh the advent of sound and the ‘takeover’ of Australian cinemas . . .
This is the point that I just referred to in answer to the Senator Mulvihills interjection - . . by American interests, the industry virtually collapsed, lt has remained in » state of near extinction ever since. In recent years. Australian studios have produced less than one feature film per year. They still produce some of the best documentary films in the world; but if it were nol for the directive issued by the Government in I9f>0 whereby the importation of advertising commercials was virtually prohibited, the film industry would now be extinct. This directive has virtually the effect of a quota. These facts are mentioned lo emphasise the point that this country has already demonstrated that it can make world quality films and export them and the only reason why it did noi continue to do so is that the industry was left unprotected and squeezed out of business by an overseas industry which was heavily protected in its own country.
Just recently I have been in correspondence with an internationally famous film producer who now resides in Western Australia, namely Mr Sydney Box, whose productions could be seen practically every day of the week in the 1940s and 1950s in any cinema that one went to throughout the world. Since the advent of television he has had a great number of successes in this medium.
He is the man who produced- by way of illustration - ‘Diary of a Drop Out’, ‘The Seventh Veil’. ‘The Prisoner’, ‘Astonished Heart’ and a number of others. As I say, he is now living in retirement in Western Australia. In correspondence he has exchanged with me he has suggested that to be able to run a viable film industry Australia should have a home production of not less than 10 feature films per annum and that these should all be produced in colour because the eventual residual rights for television programmes, particularly in the United States, demand the use of colour and are too valuable to ignore here.
He suggested that an amount of Si 5m should be made available to a corporation of the type envisaged by the Government, $7. 5m to be provided by film distributors, S4.5m by the Film Development Corporation and S3m by the producers of the pictures and their associates. But he has set out for me the steps that are taken in Britain so far as the National Film Finance Corporation and those who are making approaches to the Corporation are concerned and the manner in which the British Film Corporation has been successful. In the realisation that these matters will be of interest to the proposed corporation when it is established I intend to place these matters on the record. He states:
The producer goes to a distributor who agrees to distribute the film world wide for a commission, which varies from 20% to 25% of the gross receipts in the home market to higher figures overseas. In exchange for this the distributor provides 50% (occasionally more) of the budget in the form of a guarantee, necessarily discountable, that the takings of the film will reach that figure (50% of budget) within 18 months of release, or that he will make up the short fall if there should be one. This guarantee is discounted by a bank, which expects interest normally at 1% lo 2% over the current bank rate. The distributor, in addition to his commission, receives 20% to 25% of the net profits of the film in return for his contribution to the financing.
Once these financial arrangements have been negotiated step 2 comes into play. He says in this regard:
The producer goes to the National Film Finance Corporation - in Australia this would be ideally the Australian Film Development Corporation - who, subject to the approval of the script etc., provide 30% of the budget by way of a secured loan (in second position behind the distributor, who has the first charge on receipts) and expect to receive 30% to 35% of the profits for so doing.
The producer (or production company) provides the remaining 20% of the budget either i’n cash, or partly in cash and partly in deferment or reinvestment of a proportion of the fees of the producer, director and actors working on the picture. Since the production group is taking the greatest risk, it also takes the highest share of the profit, 40% to 50%.
He states that on a visualised 3-year programme of 30 films one would therefore need an amount of roughly S15m per annum to get Australian films effectively onto the world market. At the moment - I now come to the point raised by Senator Webster by way of interjection - there is supposed to be a revolution going on in television in Australia. Mr Bruce Gyngell, a senior executive with Channel 7 in Sydney, and who was with Channel 9 at one time, has been engaging himself and the station for which he works in what is known as a television revolution. One station is outdoing the other, but principally by the purchase of overseas programmes. One station, of course, starts the rat race and another station has to join. I am told that Channel 7 has set aside some millions of dollars this financial year for the purchase of overseas programmes, and if that is so for one station how much is it going to be all told?
When one bears in mind that in the last 6 years Australia has spent $140m abroad on the purchase of programmes for film and television distribution I suggest that the $lm now being made available by this Government for the establishment of an Australian Film Development Corporation is niggardly enough. But let us face it. The greater the number of Australian shows that there are on television the greater are the numbers of writers, actors, artists and technicians employed and if our people’s talents are to be developed continuity of production, continuity of writing and continuity of performance are required for them most of all. Therefore I urge the Government, in conjunction with the legislation which is now introduced, to put stringent quotas on imported programmes so that more Australian programmes produced in Australia, and which will be assisted to be produced as a result of this legislation, can get onto commercial television stations or into the Australian cinemas.
Certainly the Government should also legislate to prohibit the package deals that go on in connection with the purchase of films from abroad. 1 am told by those connected with the industry that if one wants a very good production to be shown in Australia - say, a film like ‘Gone with the Wind’ - one cannot purchase only that film but must purchase 5 or 6 others in a whole package at an inflated price, the result being that costs rise astronomically. Those films in the package that were nol wanted in the first instance are offloaded onto less effective commercial stations - probably, in the main, country commercial stations. Because of the inflated price - certainly stations are business enterprises having to work within a budget - they have available less lime and money for Australian productions.
The Australian public as well as Australian writers and performers have been getting the rough end for a long lime. I suggest that the most important role the Corporation can play is as a distributor because, to be successful, it will have to break through the international cartel which has been developed and to which I referred in part when I read from the report of the Senate Select Committee. 1 hope too that as time goes on and more money becomes available, the Corporation will engage itself in obtaining adequate studio facilities and equipment which it will own and hire to producers iti the industry.
There are 2 other matters to which 1 should like to refer briefly. One is that the Corporation, in determining whether :t shall make ;i loan, should not consider itself or set itself up to be a censorship authority by refusing assistance to a production on the grounds of bias politically, religiously or racially. Provided that a production is of high quality and the corporation is satisfied that the production can .sell effectively in Australia and abroad, and money is available for the production of the film, the money should be made available by the Corporation. In my opinion, and in the opinion of the Opposition, the Corporation should be composed of men who know the industry and what appeals to the general public. We want people of expertise who are anxious to do something for Australia. They will have to be fair to those who seek assistance because I am sure that the Sim will not be enough to meet all the demands which will be made upon the Corporation. The task ahead of t. hose who are appointed is a great and responsible one. While we remain in Opposition we of the Labor movement will continue to watch their activities with an encouraging but nonetheless critical scrutiny because, in the interests of Australia, the film and television industry must get oil the ground.
I have indicated already that in the Committee stage [ will be moving an amendment in the same terms as that which was moved in another place. It will provide that persons who have a pecuniary interest in the business of making, distributing or exhibiting films will not necessarily be precluded from appointment to the Corporation. I shall be dealing with a number of other matters in the Committee stage of the Bill. I indicate now that we do not propose it. We say. however, that it is a case of better late than never. We would have hoped that the amount made available to the Corporation would have been larger than it is, but at least at long last the foundation stone has been laid and we sincerely trust that, as a result of the activities of the Corporalion, there will be continuity of work for Australian artists, writers, producers and technicians.
– I rise to support this Bill and to say how pleased I am that the step is being taken to assist the film and television industry. Over the years prior to the publication of the Vincent report I was one who said that I believed that Australia at that time was not quite ready for an assisted film industry. 1 considered that we were suffering, if that is the right word, from the fact that we are an English speaking country and that both the United Kingdom and the United States of America have nourishing film industries in the English language and that, therefore, a country with u population the size of ours and with the need to develop in so many directions could not possibly afford to develop this industry in competition with either the United Kingdom or the United States of America. However at that time I did say too that I thought that with the introduction and spread of television the Australian film industry had an opportunity to develop within the framework of the television industry.
The television industry . has taken the opportunity afforded by that less expensive medium to engage in-, film production, lt has done remarkably well. Australia has won awards in many countries in international competitions. That indicates that the quality of production of Australian television films, at any rate, is second to none. Only very recently an Australian television commercial won awards in a worldwide competition. It is a great credit to the industry that in the face of competition from more powerful and more wealthy nations it has been able to come to the fore so gratifyingly. I do not agree with Senator McClelland that our writers, actors, technicians and so on were made to go abroad in the sense that he implied because they could not do here what they wanted to do. I believe that they gain by going overseas. That is why I think this is the right time to start assisting the industry. Many of our competent artists, writers and so on who have gone overseas and have gained valuable experience now are anxious and willing to come back and play their part in the industry as it develops in Australia.
I do not know whether we will ever be able to compete in the big feature film field. There has been a complete revolution in what is called the feature film. Extremely expensive films are being produced by America and England, and I do not think that Australia could possibly afford to produce such expensive films. Some of them cost many millions of dollars. The proposed Corporation with its allocation of Sim is not set up to enter into that part of the industry. However we have shown in Australia that we can produce good feature films of a lesser quality on a less grandiose scale. Great artistry has been developed because people have had to do things on the smell of an oil rag. We have seen many
Artists in many fields of artistry develop getter because they have had to struggle to develop. That is the stage at which I think Australia is at present. There is great initiative and creativeness in Australians. We have seen that in many directions and now we wait with great interest to see Australian films, maybe produced in conjunction with some overseas companies but nevertheless assisted and produced in Australia.
It is very interesting to note that the Government is considering starting a television training school. I do not think that the film industry can progress without a training school. Therefore I hope that the training school will be a complementary side to the Corporation. I hope that the proposed film and television training school will be set up in Adelaide because 1 can think of no better part of Australia for such a school. The climate is ideal. After all, such schools exist in such places as Spain where the climate is similar to that in Adelaide. It is an ideal part of Australia in which to set up the training school.
Sitting suspended from 6 to 8 p.m.
Genera! Business Taking Precedence of Government Business
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn till Tuesday next at 2.4S p.m.
That is 45 minutes later than the hour appointed by the present sessional orders. This will enable us to pay proper courtesy to the Prime Minister of Canada.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Debate resumed from 9 April (vide page 733), on motion by Senator Sir Magnus Cormack:
That the Senate take note of the statement.
– I take this opportunity to round off the remarks that I made when this statement was debated previously. I merely ask the Minister for External Territories (Mr Barnes) to consider the proposition that I put forward then, namely, that greater facilities should be provided for members of the Parliament to visit New Guinea because the dramatic changes that are taking place there make it necessary for every member of the Parliament to be fully informed. I point out that the matter of cost should not be a limitation because members of the Parliament now have the opportunity to travel to Thursday Island at will and, as I think I indicated on the last occasion, the cost of air travel to Thursday Island, to which we can travel at any time on a warrant, is greater than the cost of air travel to New Guinea. So the matter of cost should not be a consideration. But entry procedures should be eased to enable members of the Parliament to enter at will. 1 ask the Minister to consider that proposition.
– Acknowledging what Senator Georges has just said, all I wish to say is that the greatest contribution that senators and members of the House of Representatives could make to persuading the Government to the point of view he has put would be the exercise of complete responsibility in visits to New Guinea, having regard to the national objective that Australia has, namely, to induce the Territory to a proper stage for independence to be given at the time of its own choosing. The other observations that have fallen from honourable senators during the debate have been noted. The Minister for External Territories (Mr Barnes) will give expression to any comments that he sees fit to make with regard to them at the time appropriate for his next statement.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Debate resumed from 19 March (vide page 456), on motion by Senator Cavanagh:
That the Senate take note of the statement.
– This matter is somewhat old now. Being an item of General Business, it takes some time to come before the Senate. So it will be necessary to refresh the memories of honourable senators on what this matter was all about. This debate arises from a ministerial statement that was made to the Senate on 19th March. On that occasion I moved ‘That the Senate take note of the statement’. The ministerial statement was made by Senator Cotton as Minister representing the Minister for the Interior (Mr Nixon). He detailed somewhat the allegations that I made against the administration at the Yuendumu Aboriginal Settlement, which is about 150 miles out of Alice Springs. The Minister said in his statement:
Senator Cavanagh first made these charges on 23rd September 1969 in the Senate. He was answered 2 days later.
That was when 1 first raised the charge of bad administration at Yuendumu and the sensational charge that orders were given to 6 male Aboriginals to round up 3 Aboriginal girls and take them out into the bush for a fortnight to be continually raped as a penalty for some misdemeanour or some behaviour in the camp.
The Minister replied 2 days after 23rd September - on the 25th - denying those allegations. He supported his denial by a statement by officers of the Department of the Interior in the Northern Territory and a statement by Rev. T. J. Fleming, a Baptist minister in whom the Minister had the greatest confidence, who had been at Yuendumu for 20 years and who was well respected by the natives. I repeated these charges in correspondence. Shortly after 25th September the Parliament was adjourned until the new Parliament assembled. So in December I wrote a series of letters to the Minister on this question because I was not satisfied with his reply. He supplied me with replies in which he provided the records of the happenings given by Rev. Fleming and 13 men who were Aboriginal councillors at Yuendumu.
On 5th and 10th March t raised the matter again in the Senate during the Address-in-Reply debate. I expressed dissatisfaction. On the basis of Rev. Fleming’s statement, I expressed the belief that he supported my argument that in fact the superintendent had agreed to this muss rape of 3 girls at Yuendumu. I used Rev. Fleming’s report of the incident for 2 reasons. Whilst the 13 councillors named the girls and 3 of the men involved in the incident, I was not prepared to submit their names to the Senate. I said that as the Minister had put so much confidence in Rev. Fleming he could accept Rev. Fleming’s report on this happening as somewhat authentic. I endeavoured to show on that occasion that even Rev. Fleming’s account of the affair would justify the accusation that rape did occur.
My efforts must have been somewhat successful because the Minister took seriously the statement that this might have happened. But he appears to claim that I was unfair in using that method in that I’ did not read out the account given by the 13 councillors, which showed a different position in that the parents of 2 of the girls were sent out bush with the girls. The Minister recognised the justification for not mentioning names. In the statement that we are now debating he submitted the statement of the 13 councillors from Yuendumu, omitting that portion that included the names of those involved in the incident. But it still had the marks or signatures of the 13 councillors. In the Minister’s opinion, that was complete justification for saying that there was no foundation for my accusation.
The surprising feature is that we have travelled a long way in order to get a denial of my accusation, but no-one has been prepared to bring along here a statement from the girls involved or the men involved, which I think would be conclusive. We have travelled right through the Department of the Interior, getting statements from anyone we can; but we have never sought a statement from those who could tell us the actual position.
The Senate will remember that this matter arose out of a request that I made. I said: ‘1 do nol want to say that this did happen. Let me go to Yuendumu and ask these people. To show that I do not want to put anything across the Department, send someone from the Department with me for the purpose of finding out whether this did happen’. 1 was refused the necessary permission to journey to Yuendumu to make an investigation. I did not wish to make the trip on my own.
When I first raised this matter I said that there would be a complete denial from the administration at Yuendumu and the Department, and the guilty men in the affair, if information about it was sought from people under the control or jurisdiction of the administration of the Yuendumu settlement. The Minister, in reaching the conclusion that there was no credence in my accusation, relied solely upon the statement of 13 councillors. That statement was obtained under very peculiar circumstances, as I have previously recited to the Senate, However, I think it is worth repeating them to show that the Minister did not attempt to obtain impartial evidence. A description of the method used to obtain the statement from the 13 councillors or former councillors was conveyed to me by the Minister in his letter of 4th February. The Minister wrote:
The following is an extract from the report of the Senior Welfare Officer who was at Yuendumu when the statement was obtained.
The Senior Welfare Officer gives details of how he obtained the statement. He states:
The method of obtaining the statement of the Aboriginals may be important to demonstrate that this is a statement which is fully understood and has the full support of all who signed it. At the suggestion of Harry Nelson-
He is one of the Aboriginal councillors -
I consulted with himself, Tim Jabangardi, Jimidja Jungarai and Kenny Wayne and made notes of the story as they told it.
This is the statement of the Senior Welfare Officer who selected the people he would interview. He made notes as the councillors told him their stories. His statement goes on:
I then typed the draft statement for presentation and discussion with all those who eventually signed it. I point out that I did not select those who wished to participate. These people were selected by the group themselves. The draft statement was corrected by the group and the last paragraph was added at their specific request as they had gone away and had a further discussion during the time I was drafting the statement.
Therefore it seems that the Senior Welfare Officer selected 4 people to discuss the matter. In the opinion of the Senior Welfare Officer they were trusted men. They decided amongst themselves on the other people to join in the discussion and to sign the statement.
– That is an assumption you make about the Senior Welfare Officer.
– No. It is the only conclusion to be drawn from the correspondence. The task was not given to the President of the Council or to the one who should be designated to handle communications between the Senior Welfare Officer and the settlement. The Senior Welfare Officer went to Harry Nelson and to two or three others for the purposes of getting the statement. The Senior Welfare Officer’s report goes on:
When the corrections to the draft were finally agreed to I retyped the statement for signature.
At no time did the Aboriginals contribute in writing to the statement. It was written by the Senior Welfare Officer from what they told him. Then he made the corrections and prepared it for their signature. The report goes on:
The final statement was read to the group by myself and read’ personally by Harry Nelson who assured the group of the contents of the documents.
Whether the group understood it is not clear. It was read by the Senior Welfare Officer. Harry Nelson read it. The report goes on:
They then signed the statement in each other’s presence and asked Mr Juttner and myself- 1 believe that Mr Juttner is another official of the Department - to be witnesses to their signature or mark and I would point out that among the signatures of this document are a number of men who gave Nichols their support when he was about to be dismissed-
That describes how the statement relied upon by the Minister was obtained. A selected group which was under the influence of the Welfare Officer told the story. The Welfare Officer typed it. He corrected it where the Aboriginals thought it necessary and in the presence of the man who had the controlling influence over the statement they signed it or put their mark on it. lt seems that Senator Sir Magnus Cormack thinks that I may be putting an unfair construction upon this statement, but whatever value is put on it, I have described the circumstances under which it was obtained, lt might be as well for me now to read what the Minister said in his statement to the Senate on 1 9th March. He began with a condensation of my allegations. The statement reads:
The first main allegation is that in August or September 1967, 6 Aboriginal males were directed with the approval of the Superintendent of the Yuendumu Settlement to round up 3 girls, throw them into a truck and as punishment for an offence lake them into the bush to be continually raped.
That is the Minister’s condensation of my allegations. I do not criticise it. 1 think it is a fair resume of what I said, but for the fact that I alleged that one of the males who rounded up the girls was armed with a rifle. The Minister went on to read the statement obtained from the persons who were councillors at Yuendumu in 1966-67. That statement of the councillors said: . . there were 3 young girls who were causing a lot of trouble breaking into staff houses and the Government store and causing trouble with young men at Yuendumu. The Superintendent was worried about what was going on and so were we councillors and we discussed these troubles with the Superintendent. The Superintendent said that the parents and Aboriginal people should’ accept some responsibility for their behaviour and should make some suggestions about how to stop this bad behaviour.
So it is clear that what arose among the councillors and the Aboriginal parents followed a suggestion of the Superintendent. He did not accept the responsibility of permitting a trial and awarding penalties if necessary. He handed the matter over to someone else. If unfortunate consequences followed, the Superintendent must take full responsibility for that. The statement of the councillors went on:
We, the councillors, talked about this problem by ourselves for a long time and we decided to suggest to the Superintendent that these girls should be taken by their parents and promised husbands away from the Settlement for a while.
They could nol enforce the laws. They had to make suggestions to the Superintendent and this was their suggestion:
We thought that this would slop their bad behaviour because they would be away from the place where it could’ most easily take place-
Obviously a good way to stop them breaking into stores was to take them out into the bush where there are no stores to break into. If they were misbehaving with young men and wanted to associate with them, they could not do so if they were taken out into the bush with older men. The statement went on: they would be under the close supervision of their parents and would have to live hurd in the bush for a while-
Under Aboriginal custom, if a girl is promised to someone it is the parent’s duty to enforce the tribal law. At Gove Peninsula the Commonwealth authorities launched a prosecution to protect a girl who would not live with her promised husband, who wanted a young man of her choice and who was disowned by the tribe and by her parents for seeking the white man’s protection. The older generation is stricter about tribal law being applied than the younger generation is. So the purpose of the parents going with the girls was not to protect the girls but lo force them to accept their promised husbands rather than allow them to have husbands of their choice. The statement continues: they would he under the close supervision of their parents and would have to live hard in the bush for a while, and they would start to come tinder the influence of the men to whom they were promised as wives and these men would begin to lake some responsibility for their future behaviour.
This is a male world where the brutality of the male is such that when he gets a young girl in the bush she does what she is told. This is what the Minister is upholding on this occasion. It continues:
We thought also that while they were away they might get married and become the responsibility of their husbands. We made this suggestion to the Superintendent and asked him for the loan of the truck to take these people out to Old Mount Doreen which is about 39 miles from Yuendumu. This was granted.
There was the Superintendent’s approval for this abduction of girls from Yuendumu to Old Mount Doreen, which is some 39 miles out in the bush from Yuendumu. No-one can say that it was a decision of the council. It was done with the approval of the Superintendent.
– Am I to presume from your comments that if I wanted to take my teenage daughter with me and she did not want to come andI forced her to do so I would be abducting her?
– We will deal with that. I think you will find that covered. It is not a question of teenage daughters. There is a time when a daughter has some say and responsibility. The girl who is referred to in this instance is aged 20 years - the age of responsibility - and she did not go freely. If the honourable senator’s daughter had reached the age of 20 years and he was so repugnant to her that she did not want to go with him, does he think that he would be justified in forcing her to go? That is the whole question involved in this. If the honourable senator’s daughter is forced to go the intention being to get her to accept the man that he has decided she should marry, under tribal law that might be acceptable, but he cannot justify it under white man’s law.I have said that permission to borrow the truck was granted. The statement continues:
The girls were taken out to Old Mount Doreen late in the afternoon with the mothers and fathers of 2 of the girls. . . .
Only 2 of the girls had their parents’ protection, if this was protection. It continues: andthe promised husbands of 2 of the girls.
But when we see the names - the Minister omitted the names from the statement that he read in the Senate, but he has supplied me with a copy of the statement by the 13 councillors, together with the names - we see that the parents of 2 of the girls went and also the promised husbands of 2 of the girls accompanied them, but 1 girl was without her parents. Her promised husband was with them on the trip. So there was 1 girl without protection who, with her promised husband, accompanied them on the trip. One girl simply went with her parents and she did not have her promised husband with her. So how can it be said that there was protection for that girl? The statement continues:
The girls did not want to go to Old Mount Doreen but they were made to go by us.
As I shall show a little later, one of them was 20 years of age. If this is not abduction, what is abduction? Whatever the purpose in taking them, they were forced to go against their will. That is a breach of Commonwealth law which should be dealt with by the Attorney-General’s Department and proceedings should be taken. At Gove Peninsula where a mining company was involved action was taken, but because this is at Yuendumu where the man responsible was a Government official the Government protects him in every way that it possibly can. The report of the 13 councillors continues:
There were a number of other men on the truck, some of them Councillors and some of them were men who worked on the truck.
I do not know how many there would be on the small truck. The report continues:
These men went out and back on the same day. One of the men was Harry Nelson. . . .
So Harry Nelson made this journey reported on but went out and back on the same day. The report states:
One of the men was Harry Nelson who was a councillor and who has made the statementthat no rape took place and everyone behaved properly.
He is able to give an account of what happened on a number of days whenthe girls were out in the bush, yet he merely went out and back on the truck. He is the one whom the Minister is relying on to protect the Department from a charge of rape. He is one who simply drove out in the truck and came back in the truck, but he is the one cited as an authority that rape did not take place for the whole time the girls were out in the bush. This is the Minister’s thin defence and it is under challenge. The question can easily be cleared up if the Minister will allow us to visit the settlement or will give some impartial authority the right to visit these girls and ask them what happened. A little later the statement, which is available to honourable senators, states:
The family groups were supposed to stay away from Yuendumu for 2 weeks but the girls ran away after 2 days and we went out and got the other people a day later.
So the other people were in the bush for 3 days and the girls for 2 days, but Harry Nelson knows that no rape took place in that time because he went out in the truck and came back in the truck. A little later in the Minister’s statement he refers to the councillors. He said:
We know of no time when ‘six Aboriginal males were directed with the approval of the Superintendent to round up three girls as punishment for an offence take them out to the bush to be continually raped’ and we do not believe that such a thing or anything like it happened here. There are many other Aboriginal witnesses here who can prove that no harm came to these girls.
How they know that when they were at Yuendumu I do not know. We hear what they have said but we do not hear from one of the girls. The Minister mentions further charges of this kind. He said that there is an allegation of activation of rape taking place in 1967 but that there was no mention to the authorities publicly or privately until September 1969, 2 years after the most serious events are alleged to have taken place. I take some responsibility for that not coming to light earlier. One of the earliest reports that I received from Mr Nicholls was this report and I was not prepared to bring it up until I had an assurance on such a serious accusation. When eventually I did bring it up I was somewhat dismayed to find that saying it was not reported earlier did not present the true picture. Mr Nicholls was prepared to make a complaint whenever he could get a chance to make the complaint from the time when the event actually happened. From information received from Mr Nicholls I asked a question which was listed as No. 209 on the Notice Paper. I asked:
This was not long after September or November when the event occurred: . . to the Deputy Secretary, Department of the Interior, seeking an interview to discuss conditions at Yuendumu?
There is an indication of Mr Nicholls’ anxiety to convey this information to the head of the Department in order to get the matter clarified. The answer which I received from the Minister was as follows:
In answer to question (2) concerning Mr Nicholls’ complaint about wrongful punishment of Aboriginal girls, the reply stated:
Therefore, Mr Nicholls mentioned these matters in the correspondence, but they never incited the Secretary of the Department to grant an interview to Mr Nicholls in order to question him about his discontent over the treatment of the Aboriginal girls and the running of the social club. In answer to question (3), as to whether the Secretary of the Department had refused to see Mr Nicholls, the reply stated:
Mr Nicholls was refused the right to an interview when he would have detailed his complaint about the bad treatment given to the Aboriginal girls. The Department was not sufficiently interested.
Now I turn to the allegations of Mr Nicholls. Let us look at the bona fides of the people who make the allegations. I made the allegation that Mr Nicholls, who was dismissed from the Department when he was a motor mechanic at Yuendumu, possibly was suffering under some belief that he had received bad treatment at Yuendumu. That has to be taken into consideration when we consider what Mr Nicholls said. We then have the account of the affair which was given by Reverend Fleming. Previously the Minister had full confidence in Reverend Fleming, but now he seems to reply more on the statement of the 13 councillors. I cast some doubt on Reverend Fleming’s impartiality because his wife worked in the canteen and he had an airline agency up there, and there was a possibility that he had some personal interest. But, nevertheless, although I cast some doubt on Reverend Fleming’s impartiality the Minister has every confidence in him. Then we have the statement of the 13 councillors, which is the Minister’s last defence that this thing never happened.
Let us look at Mr Nicholls’ allegations and at the other matters concerning Mr Nicholls about which I have asked questions. Mr Nicholls has been considered a somewhat reliable informant on these questions. The Minister has summarised my first and main allegation, and I agree with him: I say this incident happened in August or September 1967. We have decided on the date, because the councillors and Mr Nicholls all agree that that is the approximate time. Mr Nicholls said that there were 6 Aboriginal males. Let us see what the various statements say. Mr Nicholls still maintains that there were 6 Aboriginal males. Not only did he witness the event, but he also recounted how the Superintendent had boasted around the Reserve that he had sent 6 males out to rape these girls. As I say, Mr Nicholls said that there were 6 Aboriginal males. The Reverend Fleming, in his statement which has been put before the Senate, says that the 3 husbands assisted by 4 young men in the native village took the girls out. There is a discrepancy between those 2 statements amounting to 1 man. The councillors say that there were the mothers and fathers of 2 of the girls and the promised husbands of 2 of the girls. They say that other men went out on the truck but that they returned the same day. The councillors say that there were 2 fathers, 2 promised husbands and 2 mothers.
The Minister said that the first allegation was that 6 males were directed, with the approval of the Superintendent of the Yuendumu Settlement, to round up 3 girls. That is the claim I made on behalf of Mr Nicholls. The Reverend Fleming says that members of the village council asked the settlement Superintendent for approval to take the girls 39 miles from the settlement and that permission was given. Here both Reverend Fleming and Mr Nicholls agree that approval was given by the Superintendent. The 13 councillors stated that the Superintendent said that the parents and Aboriginal people should accept some responsibility for the girls’ behaviour. They said they suggested to the Superintendent that the three girls should be taken by their parents and promised husbands away from the settlement for a while. They said that they asked the Superintendent for a loan of a truck to take the girls into the bush, and that the Superintendent agreed to the request. All through there is no difference in the statements about approval being given by the Superintendent. All agree that there were 3 girls involved. All reports agree that the approval of the Superintendent at the Yuendumu settlement was given to round up 3 girls.
The Minister interpreted what I had said as being that the Superintendent said to throw them into a truck and as punishment for an offence take them into the bush’, that this happened against their will. Obviously this indicates that the girls did not voluntarily go into this. The Reverend Fleming says that they loaded the girls on to a small truck but not without some protest. Is there much difference between what Mr Nicholls and Reverend Fleming say there? The councillors said that the girls did not want to go but that they were made to go by others. Where is there any disagreement in these statements? I said that the girls were to be taken out into the bush as punishment for committing an offence, which is what Mr Nicholls alleged. The Reverend Fleming said that the 3 young women were causing considerable trouble in the camp by refusing to go to the mcn to whom they were promised and were instead prostituting themselves with the young men in the village.
Were these girls not sent out into the bush as punishment for an offence? I think in my speech on a previous occasion I referred to some evidence concerning breaking and entering by the girls. But the Reverend Fleming says that the girls were prostituting themselves with young men in the village. The councillors said that 3 young girls were causing a lot of trouble breaking into staff houses and the government store and causing trouble with young men at Yuendumu. In the opinion of the authorities there, there was some misbehaviour and anything that happened as a result was because of the misbehaviour and the punishment was for the offence.
Repeating what Mr Nichoiis said, I said that the girls were taken into the bush. The Reverend Fleming said that they were taken 35 miles from the settlement. I think that description is a very apt one if one knows Alice Springs. The councillors said that the girls were taken to Old Mount Doreen which is 39 miles from Yuendumu. I said that they were taken to be continually raped. The Reverend Fleming said that they were taken with their 3 promised husbands. The councillors said that they were taken with 2 of the promised husbands. They do not agree. They said that Harry Nelson went out with them and returned and said that no rape took place.
My accusation is that one of the men carried a rifle. This does not appear in the Minister’s statement. Mr Nicholls said that one of the men rounding up the girls carried a rifle. The Reverend Fleming said that a rifle was carried in the. vehicle but the purpose was to shoot any kangaroos which they might have seen. Rifles which can shoot kangaroos are capable of shooting reluctant girls. The councillors said that some of the men had rifles as they often had when there was a hunting trip of this kind. I hope that there are not too many hunting trips of this kind on Aboriginal settlements. The councillors said that whenever there were hunting trips of this kind the natives had a habit of taking a rifle, but the rifle was not used as a threat to the girls.
Another matter which is not in the statement we are discussing is that I am informed by Mr Nicholls - and I have stated in the Senate - that the manager of the reserve, not the Superintendent, after 4 days feared for the welfare of the girls and sent out a truck to return the party to the camp. The Reverend Fleming makes no mention of the return of the girls. The 13 councillors said that the girls ran away after 2 days and that the councillors went out and got the other people the following day. Mr R. D. Nicholls said that afterwards the girls selected husbands of their own choice. They did not accept their promised husbands. The Reverend Fleming said that they have since married young men of their own choice. The Minister, in his statement, said that one of the girls has since married the promised husband. Obviously there is some confusion there as to what happened.
The whole matter is not cleared up by the statement of the selected councillors from Yuendumu. This justifies a full inquiry. The Minister is responsible for the setting up of an inquiry and cannot evade it by selecting people to give answers that will not involve him or his Department in the affair. If an injustice has been done to these Aboriginals, it has to be rectified. To bring the other injustices to the Senate’s attention, on 7th April I put on the notice paper 15 questions dealing with happenings at Yuendumu. I have not yet received a reply to them. On 11th March I asked a question of the Minister for Works (Senator Wright) who represents in this chamber the AttorneyGeneral (Mr Hughes). 1 received a reply on 22nd April. I asked:
I should have thought that that was a job for the Attorney-General’s Department. The reply I received was:
I think that was put in the answer as a result of a complaint made by myself. The answer continued: . . 1 did not understand the honourable senator to be seeking merely a formal reply to his question. Treating the question as one raising an issue of substance, I have examined the documents referred to and made further inquiries into the matter. Applying the ordinary principles that are relevant in the consideration of the question of prosecuting for criminal offences, I do not think that these are cases in which proceedings should be brought.
I had questioned the Minister about ordinary procedures. From memory, I got some reply about whether a prosecution could succeed or whether evidence was there. The Attorney-General examined the documents to which I referred him. In his opinion, which is different from mine, those documents did not contain information which, applying the ordinary considerations, could result in a successful prosecution. I accept that the Attorney-General’s legal knowledge is greater than mine. I asked whether the Department had questioned the girls. If 1 make a complaint that someone has raped a girl down the street, surely the Department does not decide on my say-so whether to prosecute, lt should ask the girl involved or make some inquiry. From memory, I believe thai the Minister representing the Attorney-General was of the belief that that would not be a job for the Attorney-General’s Department but possibly it might be one for the police in the area.
– Would you mind not putting words into my mouth? You cun us: your own words. 1 can construe my own understanding.
– I was not saying anything about the Minister for Civil Aviation. I was referring to the Minister representing the Attorney-General. He is capable of looking after himself and is nol as sensitive about the things I say. I know that the junior Minister has limitations on his capabilities and I will be doubly careful not to involve him in anything that is untrue. An attempt has been made to hide the happenings of the past. No-one wants to rake up what happened 3 years ago. If we let this incident pass, it will establish a pattern for the ill-treatment of native.; at Yuendumu. I am trying to solve the problem. If I could get an assurance that the position there bad been cleaned up somewhat, 1 would desist from this present agitation. Publicity must be given to this incident because we are on the eve, I believe, of some legal prosecutions because of some statements made. That could result in this case being ventilated in a public forum. I would like to sec the injustices at Yuendumu rectified.
My information is that since a settlement has been established at Yuendumu the number of deaths of children and adults has risen alarmingly. Scarlet fever and enteritis have carried off as many as 26 children in one year. Mr Howard, who was the first officer in charge of Yuendumu, was allegedly dismissed because of a disagreement with a nurse at (he hospital, but according to my information he was dismissed because he condemned the health conditions at Yuendumu. I believe the health officer at the Darwin hospital supported his condemnation and said that they were the worst conditions he had ever witnessed. A recommendation by the school committee that attendance at the school be reduced to 20 a day because of the lavatory and sanitary conditions was accepted by the Department, but no attempt was made to rectify the position. Questions in relation to these matters have been placed on the notice paper. In January of this year I child was flown from Yuendumu to the Alice Springs hospital because of illness.
The Superintendent at Yuendumu is trying to protect himself. When allegations of the type I have made arise he writes to his stuff about them. I have a copy of one of the circulars he wrote on 25th March 1969 concerning an Aboriginal leader who complained about nothing being done for the Aboriginals at Yuendumu! Mr W. Frazier, the Superintendent, forwarded a circular to his staff concerning this Aboriginal leader in these terms:
Hu belongs lo a group of people who arc becoming known as ‘knockers’. Generally speaking they come from all walks of life. They are prevalent in the universities, the pulpit and in Federal and Slate parliaments on both sides of the House and in the front a’nd back benches.
I do nol know whether he regards the Minister for the Interior as being one of these knockers. The circular continues:
Their main habitat is the big city, not loo far away from the comforts of air conditioning, the theatre, television, pubs and night clubs, but they occasionally make fleeting visits to remote areas. You rarely find them in a remote settlement and never attempting to quieten a mob of skirmishing Aboriginals, stitching a broken head al midnight or up to their elbows in a stinking epidemic of infantile diarrhoea. Despite their comments about aboriginal housing and education, you won’t find them engaged in the difficult task of trying lo educate these children who live in an environment nol conducive to rapid education, or attempting the frustrating task of training Aboriginals to occupy accommodation quite foreign to them. In fact their habitat is not the habitat and their endeavours not the endeavours of the people whom they ‘rubbish’ despite the inference that they have the answers to all these problems. In the Held of Aboriginal welfare, they arc particularly generous with hot air but conservative of elbow grease.
Here we have Mr Frazier expressing his opinion. I suppose his knowledge of what happens on the front benches of the Parliament is his knowledge of the Minister for the Interior. This is the attitude of the person who controls these unfortunate people. This is the man of whom Mr Nicholls fell foul. Mr Nicholls was dismissed because he said that the Aboriginals were not being treated fairly. The Aboriginals were on strike at the time. An attempt is now being made to belittle Mr Nicholls. Allegations have been made about his administration. All I have asked for from the beginning is an impartial inquiry into my allegations, but the Minister for the Interior ignores my request. Is my request unreasonable because I am a knocker who lives with the comforts of the city, where I am close to the theatre and pubs? I have placed a question on the notice paper asking whether the Minister will inform Mr Frazier that 1 have not visited Yuendumu because I cannot get ministerial approval and not because I cannot spare a night away from the comforts of the city. I would go to Yuendumu if the Minister would permit me to do so. How much longer are we going to permit this type of domination of individuals?
The welfare officer at Darwin was requested lo come down here regarding the allegations of cruelty and maladministration. He made an appointment to do so, but he did not turn up for the appointment. Is it too much to ask for an impartial inquiry into my allegations? ls it unreasonable of me to seek permission to go to Yuendumu, accompanied by a departmental officer, in order to investigate the allegations which have been made. 1 have the responsibility of trying to rectify some of the wrongs which occur in our community. Therefore, I should have the right to go to Yuendumu, but I am refused permission to do so. The Minister has not exonerated himself or his Department in the statement which he made. Further action should be taken. I hope I have the opportunity to see that it is taken.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Debate resumed from 16 April (vide page 892), on motion by Senator McManus:
That the Senate is of opinion that a Royal Commission should be appointed to inquire into the present condition and future prospects of primary industry in Australia.
Upon which Senator Drake-Brockman had moved by way of amendment:
Leave out all words after “That”, insert “the Senate, being aware of the economic position of primary producers and the problems associated therewith, knowing of the immediate need for analysis of industry problems to determine requirements of policy as affecting the different industries and believing that a Royal Commission would not meet such an immediate need, as it would involve too lengthy a period for investigation and report, is of the opinion that -
the most appropriate way of investigating the present problems of the primary industries would be to establish industrysponsored committees of enquiry, backed by the available resources of the Bureau of Agricultural Economics and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, to establish lines of action in the light of a world-wide situation; and
these committees should be required to analyse the factors affecting the individual industries and report to the Government upon short-term policies to alleviate present difficulties and long-term policies for the guidance of both primary producers and the Government.”
– When the debate on this motion was adjourned a few weeks ago 1 was discussing the importation of primary products into this country. I had pointed out that this is a world wide problem. Only last week I read where, by action of the governments of certain countries which form the European Economic Community, some primary producers are being paid to get off the land. That move, according to the report I read, seemed to be fairly final in that there was no provision for any other class of primary production on the land vacated except beef production. Overproduction of primary products is occurring in the European Economic Community, the United States of America, Canada and in most other areas in the world. The result is that the overseas markets for Australian primary products have in some cases disappeared and in other cases have been seriously reduced. This must have some effect upon our economy. In point of fact, Australia’s economic position would have been much more serious but for the fact that minerals have to some extent filled up the gap caused by the inability of our primary products to attract export income. Minerals have made it possible for Australia to continue on an even keel economically.
There is certainly no short cut to remedial measures for the primary industries of this country. The position is extremely difficult of solution, lt is quite true that the position of farmers ali over the world is desperate. In my part of the State of Tasmania farmers are desperate. Not long ago I attended the largest meeting of farmers which I have ever attended. Many hundreds of farmers were present. In my view they chased a fantasy because the object of the meeting was to form a farmers union and affiliate with the Australian Council of Trade Unions.
– They would do a lot better than they have been doing.
– Would they?
– Of course they would.
– The object was to conjointly bring pressure to bear in various directions so that the position of the primary producers, by force, would be made better economically.
Not very long ago the President of the ACTU, Mr Hawke, had some very astringent things to say about primary producers. He entirely discounted their claim to be caught up in a cost-price squeeze. His comments which were reported in the Press, were so astringent that the shadow Minister for Primary Industry in another place. Dr Patterson, took Mr Hawke severely to task in regard to them. If these farmers did affiliate with the ACTU it would be a case of the lion and the lamb lying down together, but in this case the lion would swallow the lamb up holus-bolus.
– Would it not be the hawk and the lamb?
– That is right, it could be the hawk and the lamb. That meeting of the farmers was called out of the desperation which is felt by primary producers everywhere for the simple reason that at a time when most people are demanding and receiving more for what they produce the income of the primary producers is going down. Dr Patterson in his reply to Mr Hawke spoke about the primary producers’ costs trebling over the past 3 years whereas the price received by the primary producer for his produce had remained at about the same level.
– You are not blaming trade unions entirely for that, are you?
– No, not entirely, because, as I said a few moments ago - you would have heard had you been listening - there has been a shrinkage of markets the world over. Some of them have disappeared altogether. Until the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission takes into account the economic effect of its findings on the whole community then costs are going to go on increasing. If Mr Hawke had his way they would increase to a higher level than they are today. As I said, there is no short cut to remedial action.
– Yes there is. a change of Government.
– After what happened on 7 th May, if the Australian Labor Party has not dug its grave so far as any chance of winning an election in this country in the near future is concerned then there is something wrong with the Australian people.
What has happened in the European Economic Community, in my view, has cast a different light upon the subsidisation of products because the European Economic Community has subsidised the primary producers to an extent seldom if ever attempted anywhere else in the world. The result of this subsidisation is that producers are being paid to get out of primary production, except in the case of the beef industry. Some classes of primary production are being destroyed. In addition to that the position of the producers themselves is so disturbed and they are so discontented that they are demonstrating in some fashion to draw attention to the plight in which they feel they are placed, as Senator McManus pointed out here some weeks ago. Criticism has been levelled at this Government for not doing what some people think it should do for primary producers. I look askance at subsidisation as the remedy necessary for the present position. In a Bureau of Agricultural Economics publication which I have here it is pointed out that in 1 964-65 the overall subsidisation cost $57.9m. In 1969-70 it cost $193m. Subsidisation more than trebled over those few years. It is perfectly obvious that this has in no way remedied the position.
I have in this place on many occasions referred to the plight of the pea growers, particularly in my part of Tasmania. The production of edible peas including canning peas reached 120 million lb this year. The average annual consumption of peas in Australia is 80 million lb. It is perfectly obvious that under those conditions there must be distress for the producers. One matter which has distressed everybody so much and which was unavoidable was the reduction of 60% in acreage for this coming year. I am not foolish enough to believe that with a production of 120 million lb of peas balanced against a consumption of 80 million lb, and with the importation from New Zealand making a total of 125 million lb balanced against the consumption of 80 million lb, very much difference will be made to the problem. As Mr McEwen has pointed out the trouble in the pea industry has been generated in this country. It is folly to import primary products of any description on to an already glutted market.
– He was just complaining about the markets.
– You would not know anything about it so you may as well keep quiet. You would not know the first thing about it. I was interested to read an Australian Industries Development Association publication. The Association consists of people who have gained some prominence in this country. They held various conferences and I think they have been right on the ball so far as the development of Australian industries is concerned. I was interested to see that they devote a chapter in their March publication to this New Zealand-Australia Free Trade Agreement. It reads in part:
Another company pointed out that Article 3 (7) was more weighted in New Zealand’s favour than was revealed by the proportional import licences granted by New Zealand in return for duty free entry. New trade is stimulated under Article 3 (7) by New Zealand swapping an import licence in return for duty free entry of specified goods to the Australian market. New Zealand issues an import licence for the import of Australian goods equivalent to 90% of the f.o.b. value of the New Zealand content of the goods exported . . . The disparity of 90% as opposed to 100% is obviously in New Zealand’s favour. However, there is also the fact that New Zealand’s 3 (7) import licences are based on the c.i.f. value of Australia’s reciprocal exports to New Zealand.
New Zealand works this out to its own satisfaction. The passage continues.
The formula results in Australia paying for the freight both ways, instead of only one way . . On the other hand the New Zealand
Government’s attitude seems to be that, even though duty free entry from Australia is not proposed, it will not agree to any additional import licences for goods if there is any production in New Zealand of the goods for which additional licences only are being sought.
That means, of course, what it says. New Zealand will not accept any goods from this country if such goods are produced in New Zealand. They are denied entry. They are kept out altogether. Just how different is the case in this country where we have been compelled under this Agreement to accept Iamb, peas, cheese and other New Zealand primary products when the markets concerned are in a glut condition. This survey goes on further and has something to say about cheese imports from New Zealand. I think it was today that we heard that 20% to 25% of the cheese consumed in Australia was imported, not only from New Zealand but from everywhere. The report reads: . . cheese imports from New Zealand were affecting the Australian cheese industry from both the domestic and international trade point of view. It was pointed out that imports of New Zealand cheese would displace the same quantity of Australian made cheese.
Of course they would:
For the industry as a whole to lose sales on the local market lo the extent of 1,000 ions per year is most serious, particularly in view of the current over-supply position. Because of quotas operating in the United Kingdom and the United States of America anil shrinking markets in other parts of the world, the prospects of selling this surplus are remote. It is estimated that at 30th June 1970 there will be surplus above normal stocks of 15,000 tons of cheese for which no market is available. The importation of duty free cheese under NAFTA is seriously affecting the Australian cheese industry and manufacturers and dairy farmers throughout Australia are very concerned about the situation.’
It goes on to deal with .timber and several other commodities that are imported into this country. The association comes down with the firm opinion that the Agreement is loaded entirely against the Australian producer. I do not like having to say these things, but 1 repeat that it is complete folly to import primary products into this country to any extent under the conditions that exist in Australia in primary production.
– Why do you not take it up in the Party room?
– I have done that. It is of no use to say: ‘These imports amount to only 1%, 2% or 3% of our consumption.
They are so small as not to matter! If we have a sufficiency of a given commodity on the local market and we import 1% then immediately we have a surplus. I say that that 1%, 2%, 3% or whatever it is does infinitely more harm to the price received by the producer than the percentage figures indicate. I do not think there is any doubt about that whatever and I say that the damage is just as apparent and just as harmful if we import these things onto a market that is already glutted. I support the amendment which has been moved by the Minister for Air (Senator Drake-Brockman) but I have some misgivings in regard to it. It entails the setting up of committees and my fear would be that not a lot of notice might be taken of these committees. There was a pea committee in existence and it was told this:
You are aware, 1 believe, that an important member of the industry is strongly opposed to your Association’s proposals. In these circumstances and because the Government would wish to reserve flexibility in its approach to any subsequent negotiations with the New Zealand Government I cannot give you the assurances regarding government to government negotiations in the specific terms which you seek.
That was in regard to the quantity of peas to be imported under the Agreement. 1 believe that the important member of the industry is a processing company which has works in both New Zealand and Australia. In my view, under no circumstances should it have had any say in the quantity to be imported into this country from New Zealand, particularly as the company made no secret of the fact that it thought it might pay it better to produce in New Zealand and export to Australia rather than to produce in Australia and do the processing here. The telegram goes on:
It is most important that prior to any discussions with New Zealand the Australian industry reach general agreement.
Of course that means general agreement with this company which has a leg in both camps. The telegram continues:
In the absence of such a general agreement the New Zealanders will undoubtedly place great emphasis on the fact that a significant section of the Australian industry does not believe limits on imports are desirable or necessary.
That means that unless this processing company, operating both here and in New Zealand, is in agreement then the New Zealanders will accept that the Australian industry does riot believe that limits on imports are desirable or necessary. It goes further:
A large figure for base year imports from New Zealand with a modest growth rate is more likely to lead to an acceptable understanding with New Zealand.
Of course it is. 1 stress the words ‘a large figure for base year imports from New Zealand’. That is one of the worst views on this situation that it has ever been my privilege to read after many years in Parliament. I believe, as I said before, that there is ample scope for a close perusal of imports of primary products into Australia on to a market which is already glutted, not that it would have any very great effect but at least it would be a gesture and it would help somewhat.
I read on one occasion of conventions in 1898 or 1900. The first 2 conventions were attended by representatives from New Zealand. Then they pulled out and gave as their reason that a central government in Australia was too remote to be responsive to local conditions. It was too far away for the New Zealanders to have any control over it. 1 have never forgotten those words. When I think of the plight which faces the growers of peas on the north west coast of Tasmania, and when I try to bring some influence to bear, I tell the Senate that those words recur to me repeatedly and I think just how true they are.
I support the motion to set up the committees. I have heard, and we have traversed, arguments relating to a royal commission. I think it may well be that the scope of a royal commission would be so wide and the time taken would be so long that the quickest course would be to set up the committees. But again I emphasise the complete and absolute futility of any inquiry unless some notice is taken of the producers. If some consideration is given to them and if the Government puts in the forefront of its mind the consideration that its duty lies towards Australia’s primary producers first and foremost, and that regard for producers in other parts of the world is secondary, we may get somewhere. I do not know of anything which has caused more distress and more heartburn amongst the farmers in my area than has the New Zealand-Australia Free Trade Agreement. I conclude by saying that never under any circumstances should any sector of primary production have been placed on the auction block and bartered away, partly at least, in return for some concessions which, according to this survey, cause only illusory benefits to accrue to the Commonwealth of Australia.
– This is the second occasion on which the motion presented by Senator McManus on behalf of the Australian Democratic Labor Party has been discussed in the period set aside for general business. In view of the fact that Senator McManus has addressed himself to this at some length, that it is so important, that there are other honourable senators who desire an opportunity to address themselves to the substance of the motion and as we have at this stage only a few minutes more than I hour to discuss it, I do not think it would be appropriate for me to speak unduly long and occupy time when others, particularly members of the Australian Country Party, would wish to express their views on a matter so important as this. Nevertheless there are some considerations which T think I should place before the Senate. More particularly I wish to deal with the alternate propositions to that presented by the DLP which emanated from the Government and from the Australian Labor Party Opposition.
As we approach the question of the whole pattern of rural industry in Australia and go through the more important segments of the industry, we are struck immediately by one consideration - there is virtually a crisis or a developing crisis or a sporadic crisis in every segment of rural production. If we consider, in the first place, the wheal industry we find from day to day and from week to week developing crises which are dampened down in one way or another, by the introduction of quotas at one point and then by production subsidies at another point. As a particular crisis is dampened down in whole or in part with only a limited degree of effectiveness, we find a crisis then develops in some other area of the rural economy. We find a crisis developing in the wool industry, and the marketing situation and the propriety and wisdom of the present marketing system or some alternate marketing system then becomes a matter of critical importance.
Then we find that attempts are made over the whole spectrum of the rural economy to try to give some relief in one way or another, whether by the provision of differential interest rates or by some other means. Only this afternoon we saw a further recognition, by the passage through the Senate of the Estate Duty Assessment Bill, of the critical position in rural industries and a desire to handle situations which require the sale of rural properties to pay assessed federal estate duties. All these things are symptomatic of the continuing crisis which ripples through the rural economy, developing at crisis points from one moment to another, and to which temporary and sporadic remedies are applied, lt is in view of this situation and because of the prospect that there may be no immediate method of doing anything to remedy it that Senator McManus has put this motion before the Senate.
We are of the opinion that the temporary palliatives have obviously had their day, that no success has been achieved, and that the problem is so extensive and so deep that it is impossible to consider any part of it in isolation and that it must be considered in expanse and in depth over the whole of the rural sector of the economy. Let us look at the situation as it exists in various segments of rural industry. I do not wish to rely excessively on statistics or analyses; but I feel that in order to justify my propositions 1 should present some evidence, first of all, of the expanded production that is causing a situation of concern and, secondly, of the prospects of this expanded production being economically sold with returns to the nation and returns to the farmer. Beyond that I hope not to rely unduly upon statistics which will underline and stress the fact.
In 1964-65 wheat was produced from 17.9 million acres. In 1969-70 that figure is expected lo rise to 25.2 million acres. All the information that I will quote and all the figures that I will cite are from the Quarterly Review of Agricultural Economies’, which is produced by the Bureau of Agricultural Economics. In the area of wool, the average annual production from 1956-57 to 1958-59 was 1,530 million lb and the estimated production for 1969-70 is 2,023 million lb. The production of wheat has increased from an average annual production from 1956-57 to 1958-59 of 149 million bushels to an estimated production for 1969-70 of 396 million bushels.
The production of beef and veal has risen from an average annual- production from 1956-57 to 1958-59 of 838,000 tons to an estimated production for 1969-70 of 1, 010,000 tons.
Those are tremendous increases in production. Good as they are, they are completely useless unless an adequate market can be found for them and unless an assurance of consumption can be given to the primary producers who have committed their capital and their own physical efforts to the development of their farms and the production of rural products of this nature. It is against the background of this extraordinary increase in production that we must now make some assessment of the market prospects for its disposal. Again I quote from this paper-
– Are those figures from a Bureau of Agricultural Economics report published this year?
– Yes, it is the ‘Quarterly Review of Agricultural Economics’ for this year, according to my recollection. I will check that, but I am pretty certain of it.
– Have you examined the base year that you used in relation to the production over the 10 years previous to that?
– I cannot say that I have. The figures that I gave were average productions in the period from 1956-57 to 1958-59. That is given as the base in this paper. If we take the figures for the period from 1966-67 to 1968-69, wool production was 1,828 million lb and is expected to rise to 2,023 million lb in 1969-70; wheat production was 429 million bushels and is expected to go down to 396 million bushels in 1969-70. Nevertheless, this staggering increase in production is causing the problem of surpluses, is attracting the concern of the Government and is becoming the concern of the taxpayers as they are asked to underpin the tremendous surpluses by the provision of subsidies or in some other way.
As I was saying, it is against the background of this tremendous production that we must now assess the market prospects and whether there is likely to be any change in world demand or in domestic demand which can in some way absorb this increased production and in some way justify its continuance and the dedication of people to the production of these enormous quantities from these increasing acreages. This paper states:
Since rural output has increased by around 3i% a year over the past decade or so, and since domestic consumption of rural products has risen by little more than 2% a year over the same period, it follows that a growing proportion of rural production has become available for marketing overseas.
Then reference is made to a graph, and the paper goes on to say:
This shows that in the 10 years up to 1963-64, exports rose faster than production but since that year the rate of increase in exports has slackened while production has continued to rise. Much of the higher production has been in the form of wheat and the shrinking of world trade in wheat in the past 2 years has resulted in substantial increases in stocks. Thus the immediate prospect is for a greater growth in the relative importance of the home market for wheat and some other products.
The paper goes on to discuss the relative importance of domestic and export markets. Then there is a table setting out Australian rural exports as a proportion of production over certain years. I do not propose to read that. The paper then states:
As in other countries with relatively high living standards, aggregate consumption of farm products per person has been rising in Australia only very slowly, the increase over the past 10 years or so averaging 0.1% a year. The expansion in the domestic market for farm products has thus been almost entirely due to an increase in population of just over 2% a year over the past decade, and there is little prospect for a greater rate of change in the immediate future. . . .
While food consumption in the aggregate has not been very responsive to changes in income or in the general level of food prices, changes in relative prices of various products together with changes in tastes and the rise in average real disposable income have produced changes in the composition of aggregate consumption with increases in some products being more or less balanced by decreases in others. . . .
In general, as living standards in a country rise there is a shift in consumption away from cereals, fats and oils to foods of greater protein value. Further, increases in disposable income lead to demands for better quality foods and more packaging and other services incorporated in food products at the retail level.
The point that is being made is that increased consumption in the developed countries will not mean a massive increase in quantum. It will mean merely a change in the pattern of consumption to different types of rural products. It will mean not necessarily an aggregate change in the volume of price but a change in the type of food that will be consumed. We cannot expect that Australian consumption will rise greatly and. as the standard of living rises in the developed countries which have been our main areas of overseas consumption, according to this paper that will not lead to a tremendous increase in the quantum of consumption: it will lead only to a change in the pattern of. consumption. Therefore, from the point of view of an increase in the consumption of our total production there may be no substantial alteration. The paper goes on to say:
Apart from the rather encouraging Japanese market potential, it appears from this brief survey of factors affecting demand in world markets that Australia cannot expect any immediate improvement in export prospects for the majority of her export products, although prospects are rather better for a greater demand for beef and coarse grains. At the same lime Australia’s export performance depends not only on total international demand but also on the share which she is able to achieve; moreover even a small proportional rise in demand in the more populous countries, if unmatched by increased local production, may represent a quantity very large relative to Australian exports and probably large relative to total world trade in that product.
– Do you think there is very much depth in that statement?
– I would say that it has considerable depth because it is now a very prominent feature of developing countries that, with the green revolution and the selfsufficiency now being striven for and obtained in many countries, there is not the demand for our primary products that we were expecting or hoping for. In other words, there has been an air of: disappointment following tremendous expectation, lt seemed on the ordinary application of a rather simple economic principle that we had a supply and they had a demand, lt was unlikely that the developing countries could quickly reach a level of self-sufficiency and that there lay our great potential market. Unfortunately, history has not proved that anticipation to be valid and today we have to look elsewhere. Apart from such rural products as we sell to Japan and some underdeveloped countries, or give away under atd programmes, the main market is still the developed countries. But that market is subject to the very limitation that even population increases in those countries result only in changed patterns of consumption and not in a changed quantum of consumption. The review goes on to examine the export markets. It states:
Even though there has been little growth in the aggregate volume of rural exports for 5 or 6 years, export markets still absorb rather more than half Australia’s rural output, and almost 60% of all exports are of rural origin. The prospects for rural industries thus depend to a large extent on trends in existing and potential export outlets.
In assessing export prospects, it seems appropriate to classify the markets into 2 broad groups of countries - developed and developing. The developed countries, which take at least 70% of Australian rural exports, are characterised by high standards of living and of food consumption. Additional increases in income induce relatively little expansion in consumption of food, even though, as in Australia, changes occur in consumption patterns. Thus total consumption tends to rise only slightly faster than population, and in most of these countries the rate nf population increase is relatively low.
We have established the position by a simple recitation, without ils being unduly long, from that authoritative analysis, that we have these tremendous increases in production, that our traditional markets are no longer able to give us the expanded consumption that our production would warrant and hope for, and that we may be forced into the position of changing our patterns and types of production: to expand some areas and to shrink some others in order to meet the demand logically and economically. In those circumstances the Democratic Labor Party has produced its proposition in these terms, as moved by Senator McManus in his motion:
That the Senate is of opinion that a Royal Commission should be appointed to inquire into the present condition and future prospects of primary industry in Australia.
It is obvious that any attempt to isolate one primary industry, to consider it in isolation, and to attempt to diagnose its troubles and to prescribe a remedy - to do all that successfully in the whole spectrum of the rural economy - is fated to failure, lt just cannot be done. That is why we of the DLP say that we must have a complete analysis of the rural sector in the Australian economy.
– Would you develop, if you feel you would like to. why a separate investigation of individual industries must be doomed to failure?
– I will develop it in this way: If we take a particular industry - for instance, the dairy industry - we find that it has certain problems, lt has problems associated with a diminishing market, particularly on the British market. It has prospects of uneconomic production at the present cost level in certain areas of Australia that may not be considered particularly appropriate for dairying as against other areas. It already is the recipient of price support. Already a dairy farm conversion scheme is proposed under which primary producers in the dairy industry are being invited to abandon that industry and to divert their resources and interests to alternative agricultural pursuits - perhaps to raise vealers or something of that character - with financial assistance.
The scheme envisages the amalgamation of dairy farms into a unit that may produce different rural products; again vealers or something of that kind. But the economic condition of the dairy industry cannot be investigated within that industry. For example, it is tied up with the whole question of the Australian cost structure, because whatever is the cost level, that is the input of cost, into the dairy industry, every other industry also has its input of cost, and these things must be considered together. It is quite possible, whether you consider the dairy industry, the wheat industry or the wool industry, that you ought to consider the tariff proposals of the Australian Commonwealth in relation to all those industries and not those peculiar to the dairy industry, or to the wheat industry, but over the totality of the rural sector.
We must remember that the whole pattern and significance of the rural sector in the Australian economy has changed vastly in the last 20 or 30 years. Those of us who have been here for some years will from time to time have been called upon to deal with problems in relation to the rural sector, particularly in the period when it was the most significant export sector of Australian production. It was the basis on which the whole balance of our accounts rested in the international monetary field. We know that. But we also know that in more recent years because of all these problems and the discovery of minerals the scene has changed. Our mineral production is not in the rural sector, but it is primary production. Our mineral exports now provide a great deal of our export income. We also know that in relation to the balance of payments the import of capital has been responsible in large measure for allowing us to establish and maintain our international credits. The rural industry has lost in Australian thinking a certain degree of significance, and because that is so it is quite possible that its real difficulties may not be properly appreciated as it ceases to be of such critical and fundamental importance to the stability of the Australian economy. It can no longer be given the regard which it enjoyed in the past.
I feel that in some measure that is the position which is developing. But whether my speculation is correct or not, it may at least be said that the rural industries no longer occupy the place in the Australian scene that they did. To try now to present them as if they do and to support them in a sporadic and from time to time ad hoc manner as we do - plugging a hole in this industry, applying a plaster in that industry, adopting a temporary remedy in another - obviously is not going to be the solution.
I do not wish to occupy the time of the Senate for too long. Other honourable senators wish to speak in this debate. Amendments have been moved from various quarters and I think 1 should make some observations about them. The whole thinking of the Democratic Labor Party is that whether our propositions are correct does not depend merely on assessing the condition of one industry, but on really assessing the condition of that industry in relation to the whole rural sector, the tariff and taxation policies of Australia, and all those other things which influence the economy of any part of Australian life. More particularly in this context, it is an exercise that can be undertaken only by the most thorough and most embracing investigation by an appropriate body.
asked by interjection why I would feel that such an investigation should not be carried out by single industries which are concerned. The effect and purport of the amendment proposed by the Government is that the individual industries should come forward with their own solutions and suggestions. I would approach such an attitude to a particular industry with the greatest goodwill, allowing of course that an industry would put forth measures for taxation protection within its own isolation. After all, the interests of dried fruit growers would not necessarily be those of wheat growers or wool growers. One would not expect them to canvass all the problems. Yet their problems cannot be studied in isolation. It is essential to the Government’s proposition that it is possible to get industries to come forward with an integrated approach. Recent history has shown in the rural industries that that has been difficult, if not impossible, to achieve. We have noticed recently in the wool industry, more particularly in relation to the export of merino rams, on the question of the floor selling price for wool and on the stabilisation scheme, that the industry has not successfully over the years been able to come forward with a proposition for its own betterment. We would be rather naive to think that any other industries could do so where the wool industry has failed, or that any other industry could find a representative body, a unified approach or a single policy which might reflect the attitude of the industry.
– Is that possible of attainment? You could get a majority view, but would it be possible to get a unanimous view?
– Perhaps not. Unfortunately, in the rural industries, majority views are not always accepted by the industry concerned. As they say, a majority has no virtue except that of effectiveness, and in the rural industries it often does not have even that virtue. I have noticed that. As a matter of fact one of the difficulties is to find how to determine the majority view. Where is the electoral roll for the industry? Who are those who are going to express an opinion or be entitled to express an opinion? That being the case, it seems impossible that individual industries can be expected to or will succeed in getting a policy which they can present as a solution for their own industry. Even if any other industry were able to do it, I do not think that would answer the question.
– There are industry committees now and they have not a single policy.
– That is right. It occurs to me that an industry is most likely to discover a solution to its immediate problem. An industry is not likely to embark on a deep investigation as to the ultimate solution of the problems of that industry against a background of all rural industries in this country. That is why, when, the Minister for Air (Senator Drake-Brockman), with some fond hope, presents his Government amendment he is rather trespassing upon the course of history and is. hoping that history may reverse itself and that what has been found to be impossible in the past may, by some miracle, be achieved on this occasion.
– Do you not think that the Minister is right in saying that a royal commission would involve too lengthy a period for investigation and report?
– I was coming to that. That is one of the arguments. I notice that in our resolution we referred to 2 aspects, the long range and the short range view of the rural industries. That argument could have some minor validity on a short range assessment of the rural industries. I suppose that Senator Greenwood speaks with some measure of cynicism, because of the area of the profession in which he operates. But surely, even allowing that perhaps a royal commission, so far as it might embark on these investigations, might find it difficult to give a short range solution, nevertheless under the terms of reference some temporary alleviation might be recommended as an intermediate proposal. We say that what is required in Australia is an investigation of the total structure of the rural industries. I am disappointed that the Minister in presenting this view on behalf of the Government is still not prepared to accept that the whole of the rural sector requires an investigation in depth and that all industries are asking for something of that character. I am disappointed that we are proceeding on this path along which we buttress up one industry and then, finding another industry drunkenly leaning to its side, we try to buttress that up. Ultimately the taxpayer who is required to find the money will not stand for that. It is going to continue to create this tremendous area of uncertainty in the rural industries, which is grossly unfair to the farmer, which is leading to a situation of frustration, disappointment and concern, quite apart from which it involves a tremendous waste of the physical and financial resources of this country.
In the proposition that we present we are not dealing with this in isolation, as if this were some magnificent concept which has been conceived by us as something unique. We would not be the first country in the world which has seen the need for this and has attempted to embark on some sort of investigation. I refer to what has been done iri at least one other country. Before doing sb I should like to refer to the other amendment which has been moved on behalf of the Australian Labor Party. This amendment contemplates a reference to the Australian Agricultural Council. I cannot believe that this could be really a serious proposition coming from the official Opposition. I cannot believe that in any sense the Opposition would seek in this Council a body that would find a solution to this tremendous problem. The Australian Agricultural Council, as we know, consists of State Ministers for Agriculture and the Commonwealth Minister for Primary Industry. We know that this body meets twice a year and that its functions are limited. I quote now from an official document which delineates its functions. After mentioning that it has a standing committee, the document states:
The Australian Agricultural Council has no powers vested in it but it provides a forum for the States and the Commonwealth on all matters pertaining to agriculture. It may and does make recommendations to governments on policy issues. Usually, but not invariably, such recommendations are accepted. Despite its lack of formal authority, the Australian Agricultural Council serves a useful purpose i’n co-ordinating State and Commonwealth activities in agriculture, particularly in administrative matters such as plant quarantine, and in securing agreement on marketing schemes that require Commonwealth and State collaboration.
Is this the body to undertake this investigation?
– You mentioned the Council meeting twice a year. We envisage a special meeting.
– I realise that. Is this the body that you are prepared to endow with this tremendous investigation, a body that obviously is only in a minor degree a co-ordinating agricultural activity between the Commonwealth and the States. There are 2 other documents to which I want to refer. I refer to the proposition which came from the Federal Rural Committee of the Libera! Party. It is completely dissatisfied with the proposal which came from the Minister and the Government that it should bc left to industries themselves to initiate these investigations. In that part of the report which deals with the role of government the document states:
In view of the current situation in rural industries where there is evidence of a steady decline of confidence, it is essential for government to assume a positive role of leadership.
It should not be left to the industries. The document continues:
In exercising its role, government must be aware that it has 2 problems; the first being of an agricultural and economic ‘nature, and the second a sociological problem relating to those who have to change from their present form of rural enterprise.
In dealing with the first of these problems, it is essential that Government has before it the best possible information and advice. This can come in part from industry organisations, but there is a need for an independent body to provide such information and advice. To this end consideration should be given to the establishment of a Rural Industries Board.
Very well; that may be an alternative to a royal commission. It may have some of the strength that a royal commission lacks. It may have weaknesses that a royal commission does not attract. But at least the Committee of the Liberal Party is sure of 2 things: That you cannot leave it to industry to initiate these things and that Government must take an initiating and positive role; and secondly, that there must be an independent body to make an investigation over the whole spectrum. An honourable senator says that we want lawyers for this purpose. There are all sorts of technical observers to assist a commission, such as we see with the sugar industry commission in Queensland and in other commissions. But that is the attitude of the Liberal Party. I would expect that our resolution might well attract the support of members of the Liberal Party if this matter is put to a vote, as well it might be, because obviously the views of the Government do not satisfy them. They are diametrically opposed to the approach of the Government and are in consonance with the principles embodied in our resolution.
Finally I refer to this investigation of the whole structure of the rural economy. In doing so I refer to what is called the New Mansholt Plan. The report states:
On 10 December last, Dr Sicco Mansholt, the Vice-President of the European Commission in charge of agriculture, presented to the Council of Ministers a new plan for the future of European agriculture under the provocative title ‘Agriculture 1980’. This new Mansholt plan is one of the most far-reaching initiatives of the Commission since the Common Market was set up in 1958. Its consequences go far beyond agricultural policy; social and fiscal policies, the principals of proprietary rights, relations between developing countries and rich countries, and regional and industrial policies of the EEC countries are also involved.
The short reference states:
The conclusion that one can draw from these figures is, according to Dr Mansholt, that the main element of European agricultural policy, i.e., the guaranteed minimum prices for nearly all agricultural products produced within the Community, has been introduced for social and not for economic reasons. Only a complete reform of the structure of the farms themselves can solve the problem of very intensive production by the farmer to get a minimum income from the guaranteed prices, while, at the same time, consumption lags far behind production, so that the Community has to pay for enormous surplus stocks.
There is in the European Economic Community the type of problem that is facing the Australian agricultural economy. It is a problem that Dr Mansholt says has to be handled by a total investigation at the very base level of what is now, in the modern cliche, called the infrastructure of the rural economy. Until we do that and face that proposition in Australia we will have these spasmodic attempts to plug a hole in this industry and a hole in that industry, causing frustration and concern, tremendous political differences, great concern and worry among the agricultural community and even greater concern to economists and to those in charge of the Australian Treasury. For these reasons I commend the proposal of the Democratic Labor Party to the Senate. I think that the amendment moved by the Australian Labor Party is completely useless in the modern context and can do nothing to overcome the problem. Obviously the proposition presented by the Minister for Air may attract the consensus of opinion particularly among those who support Country Party policies, but obviously the proposition does not find any attraction among the Liberal members of the coalition Government who see the necessity for a proposition such as that in the terms which we have enunciated. For that reason, with confidence I commend our proposal to the Senate.
– I should imagine that Senator Byrne has the greatest respect of every honourable senator in this chamber, but it was rather difficult to follow some of the propositions that he advanced tonight. He may believe that the problems in the European Economic Community, to which Dr Mansholt referred, and Dr Mansholt’s suggestion that a complete review of agriculture was needed in that part of the world, are appropriate to the Australian position and in line with the royal commission proposed by Senator McManus on behalf of the Australian Democratic Labor Party. Perhaps Senator Byrne is correct, that a royal commission is needed in Europe, because the position facing Australia at the present time is caused by world-wide problems. If the honourable senator believes that a royal commission is suitable for some European countries and that a royal commission would be suitable for Australia, I suggest that the findings of those royal commissions would be completely frustrated by the trading and agricultural policies of all the countries concerned. Those policies are causing the basic problem which is confronting Australian agriculture today. The cause of the problem is not so much our own internal difficulties as the agricultural policies which have been decided by other countries. Indeed, references to these policies are presented to the Senate week by week.
The motion moved by Senator McManus was in the following terms:
That the Senate is of opinion that a Royal Commission should be appointed to inquire into the present condition and future prospects of primary industry in Australia.
I think that Senator Byrne may have shifted a little ground on that proposition because it would be very difficult for any honourable senator to accept the motion in those terms. It has been stated that a royal commission would take a great deal of time to reach any conclusions. That is understood. I think that Senator Byrne suggested that perhaps something along the lines of a royal commission would be acceptable.
– That is the decision of the Liberal Party.
– Senator Byrne mentioned one Party’s philosophy in this regard. Senator McManus’s motion stated:
Here again I think one must realise that rural primary industry, in itself, consists of a number of industries which from year to year, in the Australian context, are uncertain as to the outcome of the year’s activities. There are very few areas of primary production within Australia - and indeed in the world - where an individual, at the beginning of the year, can say. The outcome of my year’s activities will be as follows.’ So it would be pure speculation to look into the future prospects of any particular industry today. I doubt that we in this Senate should indulge in pure speculation. For instance, we find today that because of high prices overseas and a good market in Australia, many farmers are attracted to the beef industry, lt would be pure speculation for a farmer entering into the beef industry today to anticipate the outcome of his activities in 3 years, particularly when we consider that there has been such a great increase in the volume of beef production in Australia at the present time, compared with 12 months ago, and the prospect that with the increase in beef production in various areas, in 3 years there could very easily be over-production of beef.
– Economic conditions are not pure speculation. There are the market analyses trends which the experts do. They give you some guide.
– The more expert they are the more dangerous they are.
- Senator Prowse is right in what be says. J think that when you are closely associated with the land you look rather sceptically at some of those who would pronounce themselves as experts in primary production. I instance the problem concerning beef and the possibilities within the American market. America could change her attitude towards the purchase of certain grades of beef from Australia which could cause a complete depression in the Australian market. At the same time I am advised that in the developing countries, such as Japan and some of the near east countries, there is definitely a bright prospect that they will purchase more beef as the people in these countries gradually acquire a taste for this particularly palatable type of food.
Finally, Senator McManus suggested:
When it was suggested that this really meant rural primary industry, Senator McManus said: ‘Well, you know what we mean.’ 1 think that we know what he means, but it must be accepted that the Senate must act on the wording of a particular motion. So, perhaps, honourable senators who have spoken in the debate have not concerned themselves with the mining industry or the quarrying industry or some particular primary industry which at the present time does not require an investigation. There are certain rural primary industries which at the present time do not require an investigation, but there are many primary industries which face a critical period. Perhaps if Senator McManus’s motion had read ‘prospects of rural primary industry’ it might have been better received. Indeed, the official opposition, the Australian Labor Party, came in behind Senator McManus’s motion and Senator Willesee moved an amendment, the terms of which I understand the Labor Party wishes to change. Whilst the Labor Party’s amendment includes the words rural industry’, it suggests that an emergency meeting of the Australian Agricultural Council to review the present crisis in rural industry may be a wise move. 1 do not doubt that that proposition could be supported. An emergency meeting of the Australian Agricultural Council to review in this interim period some of the things it reviewed within the last 4 months could be quite wise, lt met and it received reports from the various States. The States have a great deal to do with overproduction and with the development of farming propositions in various areas in which we, in the Federal sphere, believe that overproduction is being created. The various States must look at this matter as well.
– Can you tell us what is wrong with the industries?
– The honourable senator from Queensland has asked a brilliant question. He has asked whether I could say what is wrong with the industries. I do not doubt that he would not know. If he wanted me to answer that question he would have lo specify an industry. That would lead to a discourse which would last much longer than the few minutes that I have available to me.
– Take another minute and choose any industry.
– The honourable senator can play with that question. I wish to put forward one or two points in supporting the amendment which the Minister for Air (Senator Drake-Brockman), my leader in this place, has proposed. The amendment states that the most appropriate way of investigating the present problems facing primary industries is to establish industry-sponsored committees of inquiry backed by the available resources of the Commonwealth. The Minister in his amendment spelt out how the committees should be required to analyse the factors affecting the individual industries. He suggested that they report to the Government upon short term policies to alleviate present difficulties and upon long term policies which the industries think would be guidelines to primary producers and to the Government. I do not doubt that most honourable senators will see wisdom in that amendment. Rural industries certainly are an integral part of the Australian economic structure. I do not imagine that anybody in the Senate would attempt to overlook the importance of the rural industries. This debate has brought contributions from both sides of the Senate. Honourable senators have put their points of view - politically, I do not doubt, in the case of the Labor Opposition. Not only at meetings of farmers that I have attended but also at the march that occurred in Melbourne, the Opposition attempted to play a very political part by criticising the Federal Government and by saying that Labor, with its Socialist policies, would do something better for the farmer today. The Australian Labor Party policy is not necessarily directed towards earning the goodwill of the primary producing sectors of the community. I think honourable senators opposite would agree that their philosophies and their main reasons for being in existence do not reflect enormous goodwill towards the rural sectors of the community.
Rural industries provide nearly 10% of the gross nationl product. They provide employment for 10% of our male work force. Almost 1 million of our population of 12.5 million live on farms. A very large number of people within the non-rural sectors of the community depend on rural Industries either directly or indirectly for their existence. The only way that decentralisation of population or decentralisation of industry can mean anything is by having a soundly based rural industry. That is the only way in which we will achieve the objective of decentralisation. Honourable senators must see the need for great support to be given to the rural industries if we are to cater for our own domestic food supplies. Rural industries supply 90% of our domestic food needs and our domestic fibre needs. Most importantly at this moment, whilst declining in its total percentage of export earnings, primary industries provide between 50% and 60% of our export earnings which are necessary to serve the demand for the growing needs of this community. I do not believe that we should be critical of our primary industries. Their performance over the years has been magnificent. During the past decade the rate of growth in our output has been nearly 2i times that of North America and H times that of western Europe.
– What is the good of it if we cannot sell it?
– That is quite an important question. Does the honourable senator suggest that because New Zealand butter can be bought for 30c per lb the dairying industry, which asks the Australian public to pay more than 50c per lb, should be eliminated altogether?
– Not altogether.
– The honourable senator says: ‘Not altogether’. Undoubtedly his philosophy would bring us to our knees and put us at the mercy of overseas countries with which we would be forced to trade. The honourable senator’s philosophy is that we should not keep producing a product that is in oversupply on the market if we can buy it from some other country at a cheaper price. Twelve months ago the dairying industry thought it had no possibility of selling powdered milk anywhere in the world. There was a surplus on world markets. Today every company in Australia which produces powdered milk can sell any quantity it likes throughout the world. In fact, the companies cannot supply the markets. The problem we face is that too many vocal people in the community do not understand the production of rural industries and rural primary production because we have such a changing market. The demand is there this year but not next year. Over the years the primary producer has had to contend with this problem which has faced him. At present we should look at the important industries which face a problem. Would Senator Turnbull suggest that we should stop producing wool because at the moment it is bringing 39c per lb?
– No, but we should not overproduce.
– We are not over.producing wool. We will not overproduce if we are willing te do what the European Economic Community is doing. It is paying 85c per lb to its own farmers for butter and is selling that butter on the Hong Kong market at 15c per lb. There is no overproduction where a government is willing to cast its production onto the market to ensure that its industries are so heavily supported that the industries of other countries cannot compete. One could suggest that that should be done in relation to wool, which is bringing such a low price. There certainly is no problem in getting rid of the wool at that price. Something must be done by the Government to further tighten the efficiency and to improve the selling ability of that industry. Senator Turnbull has caused me to speak of a particular industry when I did not intend to do so, because each major industry requires lengthy discussion in the Senate.
– Will you talk about the subject of whole milk?
– I have not discussed the subject of whole milk. I have a great deal to say about the efficiency of the dairying industry and I should like to have sufficient time to speak about it. The experts and the economists in the community who point to the inefficiency of the dairy industry on one page of a newspaper and on the next page refer to the inefficiency of the wool industry or of one of the other primary producing industries seem to forget about the efficiency of the rural industries. They are willing to criticise. Australia has one of the most efficient primary producing communities in the world. On the figures 1 have quoted production per person within the community has been boosted greatly.
– If they are that good why do they need propping up all the time?
– Senator Gair asks why the primary industries need support policies. 1 suppose I could spell out to him what other countries do in relation to the provision of support I suppose I could advise him of the importance those countries place upon having a fully developed food production industry to supply the domestic market to the greatest degree possible and a fully developed fibre industry to cater for domestic consumption. I suppose I could advise him of the great emphasis which is placed upon the importance of producing goods which gain export income. 1 suppose I should point out to him that most other countries and most statesmen feel that it is imperative that their governments devote themselves to ensuring that the primary industries within their communities are supported.
I wish to point out one or two of the things which have been done by this Government in relation to the provision of support for our rural industries. Indeed, we had an example of this today when the Senate firmly and unitedly supported the provision of certain benefits to our rural community in relation to estate duty in order to prevent the breaking up of family estates. In this instance the whole Senate placed importance upon the measure which was introduced.
– The whole Senate or part of the Senate?
– No, the view of the Senate on this matter was a united one. Recently we had the example of the Government earnestly coming to the assistance of the rural community when it was beset by the problem of servicing a $ 1 ,900m debt which had been incurred because of the inflation which is occurring not. only in Australia but abroad. I should point out that the Government is to be congratulated on the fact that the inflation rate in Australia is far less than it is in any other country which has a comparable standard of living. It is of benefit to rural industries to have a lower rate of interest applied on their loans. So we bad that instance of the whole of the Senate supporting the proposal. I think it can be said that every political party in Australia appreciates the necessity to give wholehearted support to the demands of the rural industries at this stage.
I am anxious to allow Senator Prowse to commence his contribution to this debate before the Senate adjourns for the evening. Therefore I do not think I should quote at length the benefits which the Government has provided m past years by way of assistance to the rural industries. The Government has taken up with both hands and enthusiastically adopted all genuine propositions for assistance to rural industry. It has done so by way of, among other things, granting rural credits, providing taxation concessions and granting bounties and subsidies, such as the fertiliser subsidy, the petrol price equalisation scheme and the bounty on the production of Australian goods.
I think we all realise that the LiberalCountry Party coalition which forms the Government is devoted to ensuring that our primary industries receive the greatest benefits which can be provided. But one thing which I think the Commonwealth Government must do is give very close attention to the general escalation in costs, which it has not done in the past. If in its last Budget the Commonwealth Government had given sufficient attention to putting a brake on expenditure in the private and government sectors we would be in a better position now. I pointed out on 3 occasions during the Budget debate in this chamber that a 10% increase in the expenditure of the various Commonwealth departments and the increased demand for labour and materials within the private and government Sectors had created escalation in costs - the escalation which we are now trying to damp down. I think the Government is taking a belated step in this field, but at least it is attempting to do something and we all support this philosophy.
– I think it is very proper that the Senate should be engaged in examining this proposal which has been brought to its attention by Senator McManus on behalf of the Australian Democratic Labor Party. In its contribution to the debate the Australian Labor Party has put its point of view. Supporters of the Government have also contributed to the debate, which is an examination of what is surely one of the most urgent problems facing not only the Australian community today but virtually every country in the world. Almost every country is faced with the same problem of the future of the people who earn a living in the field of agriculture. The difference between the return obtained by any other person in the community and the return obtained by an agriculturalist for his labour and the capital he has devoted to his industry is causing serious concern. Many suggestions have been made about how to solve the problem, and I think they all have merits. Certainly I think that the proposal for a royal commission has merit. But I believe that the holding of a royal commission would take too long. It would not solve the immediate problems facing primary industry.
In my own State of Western Australia we have a terrific problem in relation to the immediate future of those people who have gone out and developed new land in a particular part of the State. Carefully considered programmes were devised by farm consultants. These programmes were put to the Development Bank and in all good faith they were accepted as a viable proposition. But they were accepted in the light of the knowledge of the situation at that time. We find today that the proposals have fallen through because the farmers, who are dependent primarily on wheat growing and to a certain extent on wool growing, can no longer finance the development programme in which they have been engaged. I have seen budgets which were drawn up for the farmers in the Merredin district. They show that these men cannot possibly meet the capital and interest repayments which were budgeted and planned for by the skilled people who advised them.
There are 2 particular aspects of the problem facing these people which I wish to discuss. There is the social problem of what is going to happen to them in the future and there is the economic problem of whether to allow the land on which they have expended their resources to go back to the bush. Can some of this expenditure be salvaged by bringing into operation credit arrangements which will enable the industry to carry on at a lower rate of production until at least the international marketing situation has improved? I say that we cannot possibly do away with the short term examination of the problem, the immediate problem which these people are required-
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Lawrie) - Order! In conformity with the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate, I formally put the question:
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– I have a matter whichI wish to raise. I apologise for doing this at this point of time but I attempted to raise this matter during the debate on one of the Appropriation Bills. As I had previously spoken it was not possible for me to speak again.I have been disturbed for a long time about accidents in the off-shore oil industry. As honourable senators and members of the Senate Select Committee on Off-shore Petroleum Resources who have examined certain aspects of the legislation in this field know I have raised this matter on previous occasions. The Chairman of the Committee, Senator Greenwood, suggested that if I was not satisfied about industrial conditions prevailing in the industry I should raise the matter in the Parliament. I do that now and protest most emphatically against the slaughter of people engaged in the off-shore oil industry.
I have a specific case which I propose to mention in a couple of moments. When the Petroleum (Submerged Lands) Bill was brought before this chamber some 3 years ago - in 1967 to be precise - honourable senators were told that 2 sections of the Act would cover working conditions of people engaged in the industry, safely standards, health standards, etc. I quote from the 2 relevant sections:
Part II.- APPLICATION OF LAWS
– (1.) Subject to this Act,the provisions of the laws in force in a Stale, whether written or unwritten and as in force from time to time and the provisions of any instrument made under any of those laws, apply in the adjacent area. (2.) The provisions referred to inthe last preceding sub-section applyto and in relation to all acts, matters, circumstances and things touching concerning, arising out of or connected with the exploration of the sea-bed or subsoil of the adjacent area for petroleum and the exploitation of the natural resources, being petroleum, of that sea-bed or subsoil, and not otherwise, and so apply as if that area were part of that State and of the Commonwealth.
Sub-section (3.) follows with its various paragraphs, followed by sub-sections (4.) and (5.). I do not propose to read these but with the concurrence of honourable senators I will have (3.) incorporated in Hansard. (3.) This section does not -
extendtothe provisions of any law or instrument -
We are told from time to time, and we were told by the Government at the time of the introduction of this legislation, that section 97 is the relevant section. It stales:
I quote sub-section (5.): (5.) A person who is the holder of a special prospecting authority or an access authority shall carryout all petroleum exploration operations in the area in respect of which the special prospecting authority or access authority is in force in a proper and workmanlike manner and in accordance with good oil-field practice and shall secure the safety, health and welfare of persons engaged in those operations in or about that area.
Sub-section (6.) states: (6.) It is a defence if a person charged with failing to comply with a provision of this section, or a defendant in an action arising out of a failure by the defendant to comply with a provision of this section, proves that he took all reasonable steps to comply withthat provision.
Good oil field practice is one of the great Australian fairy stories so far as the operators in the off-shore areas of this country are concerned. On 2nd May 1970 a Mr M. Chorinski died in a decompression chamber as a result of a dive he made inthe
Bass Strait . area. Mr Chorinski was employed by Ocean Systems. For the benefit of honourable senators who are not completely aware of the operations which are carried out in this industry, 1 inform them that many of the major companies do all their work on a sub-contracting basis so there is a spread of responsibility, a spread of the type of work which has to be done not only in the search for oil but in the development of oil fields. In this case it is obvious that safe oil field practices, so far as they apply to diving, were not always put into operation. Because of 2 incidents which I now propose to quote it is obvious that proper supervision was not carried out. It is equally obvious that those responsible for seeing that accidents do not happen in this very dangerous field of operation had apparently not done their duty. In Mr Chorinski’s case the air hose was attached to his waist belt. Apparently this is never done in this profession. He was not wearing a bail out bottle. A bail out bottle may not have saved his life but, on the other hand, the fact that he was wearing the air hose attached to his waist belt might have been one of the factors responsible for the loss of his life.
It is difficult to prove that either of these things alone, would have saved his life or was the cause of the loss of his life. There may be other factors of which we are not aware. No doubt at some future date the Victorian Mines Department will carry out an investigation of the events surrounding the death of this diver. Probably at some later date there will be a coroner’s inquest. The reason why I am raising this matter tonight is that the widow of this unfortunate person has not yet received any intimation that she will receive compensation. Until a few hours ago no approach had been made to her even though it is almost a fortnight since she lost her husband. She has 2 young children. I suppose in these days of inflation almost any person in the community faced with the sudden loss of the bread winner would find himself up against the world financially.
Mr Chorinski was diving in an area where the water was at least 200 feet deep. There is evidence that he was largely a shallow water diver. I think this is another thing which ought to be investigated. I propose to make certain suggestions at the end of my contribution to this debate. If a man is basically a shallow water diver he is not an expert in the field of deep water diving. We are not sure at this point of time whether the water was 200 feet deep, or some depth above that, or down to 240 feet.
– Would there not be a case on the ground of negligence?
– Probably there is a case of negligence, but confusion exists in this field as to the application of insurance policies, industrial laws and compensation laws. In a moment I will be able to give instances of some other people who have been waiting many months for a satisfactory settlement of their compensation claims.
A complete air of secrecy surrounds this particular case as surrounds almost every other case where a person has been injured or lost his life in off-shore operations and in the search for oil. In deep diving of this nature a mixture of helium and oxygen is used. I think the percentage goes something like 10% oxygen and 90% helium. In shallower diving pure air is used. When an accident of this nature happens several miles off the coast - as this one did - and in circumstances which are clouded in doubt, attempts to uncover the events surrounding the death of the person are shrouded in secrecy. Why I would not know. I make an appeal to have this case investigated. I believe this is something in which the Minister for National Development (Mr Swartz) should interest himself immediately because a young woman and 2 young children are without subsistence at this moment. I have a list here of 16 cases where people have been injured or have lost their lives in diving accidents off the coast of this country. I will not go through the list. In many instances they have not been satisfactorily investigated. The famous McClean case took place before the introduction of the joint Commonwealth-State legislation but that case is still unresolved. This happened well over 2 years ago and compensation has not yet been paid to the widow of this man although some sort of settlement has been made or is about to be made on behalf of his children. A Committee was set up in this chamber on 8 th November 1967. In a few months’ the Committee will have been in operation for 3 years. I am afraid I must be caustic about it. lt is probably one of the longest sitting and most expensive committees ever set up by the Parliament and. in the results produced to date, probably one of the most useless. The oil companies are able to avoid their responsibilities. Probably the aspect about which I am most caustic so far as the Committee is concerned is that I believe there are 2 terms of reference which say that something must be done about the industrial conditions under which these people who operate in the industry are required to work. Term of reference (a) reads: whether the constitutional conception underlying the legislation is consistent with the proper constitutional responsibilities of the Commonwealth and the Stales.
Term of reference (g) reads: the provisions of the legislation generally.
I believe both of these can be applied. We were told in 1967-
– I rise to order. 1 do not take the point of order in any mimical spirit. I simply wish to draw attention to the fact that these comments are upon a current Committee of the Senate and 1 would think that it is most unfair to the report- of that Committee to make any comment that could be in anticipation of it. I would think that it is distinctly out of order.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Lawrie) - Senator Keeffe, do you want to speak to the point of order?
– If that is the attitude that is going to be adopted by the Minister J would assume that as usual where a worker is employed he has set out to suppress evidence and to suppress anything being exposed to the light of day and if that is the manner in which he wishes to operate 1 shall be happy to make a Press statement and I shall say nothing more in this chamber.
– I heard with quite a lot of concern the remarks made by the honourable senator. I think he will be prepared to agree that at the time I was associated with the work to which he referred we did take an active interest in the application of the law and did try to reach a solution to some of the problems he mentioned. I think he would equally be prepares! lo agree that I having been on the Committee it is not really proper for me to canvass what it does or what it sought to do except to say, purely for myself, that when I was associated with it I. thought that its work was extremely useful and opened up a lot of new areas of thought and it seemed to me that its work was quite highly regarded. But to set that to one side, what he has asked me to do I will do, that is, 1 will communicate the broad text of his remarks and the Hansard report lo the Minister for National Development (Mr Swartz), with a request that as far as possible these matters be looked into, that if satisfaction can be obtained an endeavour be made to obtain it, and that the information that is requested be made available. I do not really think that I can say more than that except to assure the honourable senator again - I think he probably knows - of my very real concern about some of these problems in industry.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned al 10.44 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 14 May 1970, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1970/19700514_senate_27_s44/>.