27th Parliament · 2nd Session
The PRESIDENT (Senatorthe Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) took the chair at 2.15 p.m., and read prayers.
– I present from 115 citizens of the Commonwealth of Australia the following petition:
To the Honourable the President and Members of the Senate in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully sheweth:
That they are gravely concerned at the apparent appalling increase in crime in Australia, particularly in densely populated areas.
That they fear the police forces of the various States and Territories are undermanned and underequipped to handle the increase in crime.
That their concern is aggravated by the apparent number of unsolved crimes, particularly those involving violence to the individual, including murder.
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the Honourable Members of the Senate will seek to ensure that the Comonwealth Government will seek the co-operation of the States and supply extra finance to the Stales to enable:
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray.
Petition received and read.
– I present from 48 electors of New South Wales the following petition:
To the Honourable the President and Members of the Senate in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the electors of New South Wales respectfully sheweth:
That the decision of the Government to lift the 40-year ban on the export of merino rams will do irreparable harm to the present and future merino wool industry of Australia.
That the initial quota of 300 rams will be sufficient to make any future protest worthless.
That the production of fine-medium quality merino wool in cheap labour countries will put the Australian merino woolgrower and all connected with this industry out of business.
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the Government will -
Review its policy and cause to be held a referendum ofwoolgrowers to determine this issue. And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray.
Petition received and read.
-I present from 274 citizens of the State of South Australia the following petition:
To the Honourable the President and Members of the Senate in Parliament assembled. The petition of the undersigned citizens of South Australia respectfully sheweth:
That due to the higher living com, persons on social service pensions are finding it extremely difficulty to live in even the most frugal way.
We therefore call upon the Commonwealth Government to increase the base pension rate to 30 per cent of the average weekly male earnings for all States, as ascertained by the Commonwealth Statistician, plus supplementary assistance and allowances in accordance with A.C.T.U. policy and adopted as the policy of the Australian Commonwealth Pensioners Federation, and by doing so give a reasonably moderate pension.
Your petitioners most humbly pray that the Senate and the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled will take immediate steps to bring about the wishes expressed in our petition so that our citizens receiving the social service pensions may live their lives in dignity.
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray.
Petition received and read.
– I present from 419 citizens of the Commonwealth the following petition:
To the Honourable the President and Members of the Senate in Parliament assembled. The Petition of the undersigned respectfully showeth:
That they are gravely concerned at what they consider to be the adverse effect on moral standards in the Australian community of the increasing portrayal and description of obscenity, sexual licence, promiscuity and violence in films, books, magazines, plays and, to a lesser extent, television and radio programmes;
That their concern arises partly from the fact that historians such as J. D. Unwin and Arnold Toynbee have shown that nearly all nations which have perished have done so because of internal moral decay; and partly because obscenity and indecency are contrary to the teachings of Christianity which is the acknowledged religion of more than 80 per cent of Australians, besides being ‘part and parcel of the law of the land’ (Quick and Garran in “Commentaries on the Australian Constitution,’ Page 951); and
That, in accordance with the findings of the Australian Gallup Poll, published in the Melbourne Herald 14th November 1969, the majority of Australian citizens want censorship either maintained or increased -
Your Petitioners most humbly pray that the Senate, in Parliament assembled, should seek to ensure that Commonwealth legislation bearing on censorship of films. literature and radio and television programmes is so framed and so administered as to preserve sound moral standards in the community.
And your Petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray.
Pettit ion received and read.
– 1 present from 532 citizens of the Commonwealth the following petition:
To the Honourable the President and Members of the Senate in Parliament assembled. The petition of the undersigned respectfully showeth:
That they are gravely concerned at what they consider to be the adverse effect on moral standards in the Australian community of the increasing portrayal and description of obscenity, sexual licence, promiscuity and violence in films, books, magazines, plays and, to a lesser extent, television and radio programmes.
That their concern arises partly from the fact that historians such as J. D. Unwin and Arnold Toynbee have shown that nearly all nations which have perished have done so because of internal moral decay; and partly because obscenity and indecency arc contrary to the teachings of Christianity which is the acknowledged religion of more than 80 per cent of Australians, besides being ‘part and parcel of the law of the land’ (Quick and Garran in ‘Commentaries on the Australian Constitution’, page 951); and
That, in accordance with the findings of the Australian gallup poll, published in the Melbourne Herald’ 14th November, 1969, the majority of Australian citizens want censorship either maintained or increased.
Your petitioners most humbly pray that the Senate, in Parliament assembled, should seek to ensure that Commonwealth legislation bearing on censorship of films, literature and radio and television programmes is so framed and so administered as to preserve sound moral standards in the community.
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray.
– 1 present from 58 residents of Norfolk Island the following petition:
To the Honourable the President and Members of the Senate in Parliament assembled. This Petition of the undersigned residents of Norfolk Island respectfully showeth:
Concern at the possible loss of the special character of a unique island being opened up by a jet strip and the consequent over development and side effects of a large tourist influx.
We would request answers to the following questions:
Has a decision been made on the size and type of aircraft required.
If a decision has been made, on what information and facts was this type chosen, and in particular what tourist numbers wen anticipated.
Has consideration been given to a smaller aircraft type based on Norfolk Island’s present airstrip, population, unique char cater, size and conservation.
Your petitioners pray that the Senate du all in itspower to prevent the destruction of the special character of Norfolk Island by unplanned ove development.
Petition received and read.
– I present from 254 citizens crf the State of South Australia the following petition:
To the. Honourable the President and Members of the Senate in Parliament assembled. Thi Petition of the undersigned respectfully sheweth
That they are gravely concerned at what they consider to be the adverse effect on moral star dards in the Australian comunity of the increasing portrayal and description of obscenity, sexual licence, promiscuity and violence in films, books,, magazines, plays and, to a lesser extent, television and radio programmes:
That their concern arises partly from the fac! that historians such as i. D. Unwin and Arnold Toynbee have shown that nearly all nations which have perished have done so because of interna! moral decay; and partly because obscenity and indecency are contrary to the teachings oi Christianity which is the acknowledged religion of more than 80 per cent of Australians, beside.being ‘part and parcel of the law of the land (Quick and Garran in ‘Commentaries on the Australian Constitution,’ Page 951); and
That, in accordance with the findings of iti? Australian Gallup Poll, published in the Mel bourne Herald 14th November 1969, the majority of Australian citizens want censorship either maintained or increased -
Your Petitioners most humbly pray that the Senate, in Parliament assembled, should seek to ensure that Commonwealth legislation bearing on censorship of films, literature and radio and television programmes is so framed and so administered as to preserve sound moral standards in the community.
And your Petitioners, as in duty bound, will eve pray.
– I present from 35 citizens of the State of Tasmania the following petition:
To the Honourable the President and Members of the Senate in Parliament assembled. The Petition of the undersigned respectfully showeth:
That they are gravely concerned at what they consider to be the adverse effect of moral standards in the Australian community of the increasing portrayal and description of obscenity, sexual licence, promiscuity and violence in films, books, magazines, plays and, to a lesser extent, television and radio programmes;
That their concern arises partly from the fact thai historians such as J. D. Unwin and Arnold Toynbee have shown that nearly all nations which have perished have done so because of internal moral decay; and partly because obscenity and indecency are contrary to the teachings of Christianity which is the acknowledged religion of more than 80 per cent of Australians, besides being ‘part and parcel of the law of the land’ (Quick and Garran in Commentaries on the Australian Constitution.’ page 951); and
That, in accordance with the findings of the Australian Gallup Poll, published in the Melbourne Herald 14th November, 1969, the majority of Australian citizens want censorship cither maintained or increased -
Your Petitionere most humbly pray that the Senate, in Parliament assembled, should seek to ensure that Commonwealth legislation bearing on censorship Rims, literature and radio and television programmes is so framed and so administered as to preserve sound moral standards in the community. And your Petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray.
– I give notice that on the next day of sitting I will move:
That the Petition presented to the Senate this day by Senator Cavanagh, relating to crime in Australia, be referred to the Standing Committee on Health and Welfare for inquiry and report.
– Will the Minister for Civil Aviation supply to the Senate some answer to the questions raised in the petition from the residents of Norfolk Island which I have just presented? If he is able to supply some of the information now, it will be appreciated; otherwise will he bring a statement on those matters into the Senate before it rises?
– I have not been to Norfolk Island for about 24 years but I remember it quite well. When I was there last it was a most beautiful place and quite unique in many ways. The airstrip was then - I imagine that it still is - on fairly high ground. I am not aware of the problem that is referred to in the petition. We are not the only people using the airstrip on Norfolk Island. There is quite a common pattern of flying from New Zealand through Norfolk Island to both Noumea and Fiji. I will endeavour to obtain information for Senator Murphy prior to the Senate rising, so that he may have some of the questions in the petition answered. Also, 1 imagine, this has something to do with the commercial needs of the operators, of which we are one only, flying to Norfolk Island. Equally there are requirements of the tourist industry to be served. I would want to satisfy myself as to the total base of the objection and to know whether il was from some people only or from the community as a whole. The honourable senator has my assurance that I shall do what I can to find out as much as I can for him.
– Has the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry noted in at least one Tasmanian newspaper allegations of instances of corruption among Department of Primary Industry inspectors engaged in the inspection of meat for export? Will the Minister have these charges investigated and, in particular, call upon the persons making them to substantiate them?
– This matter was drawn to my attention this morning. I referred it to the Department of Primary Industry which at present is investigating the allegations. I cannot say more than that.
– I address a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration. Does yesterday’s deportation of Mr Ho Kum Weng pinpoint the present complex situation existing in Sydney as regards competent Chinese chefs for the expanding Chinese restaurant circuit? Does the Department of Immigration make surveys of such restaurant requirements and balance them against applications lodged in Hong Kong for replacements? What are the mechanics of such vetting by
Australian Immigration officers in Hong Kong? If applications from Hong Kong are limited, what attitude does the Department adopt towards Chinese chefs from Malaysia?
– I have quite a deal of information on this subject and I think it advisable that I give all this information to the honourable senator. Mr Ho, a Malaysian citizen, was admitted in May 1969 under temporary entry permit as a visitor for a 4-month stay. He was not admitted for employment as a chef. His continued stay was the subject of repeated representations to the Minister who considered the matter carefully on no less than 5 occasions. Mr Ho was given, first a 6 months extension of his visit until March 1970, and then a final 3 months extension until June 1970. Upon the expiration of this extension he became a prohibited immigrant. Despite repeated requests to Mr Ho to leave Australia he failed to do so. He was informed that continued refusal to leave would result in deportation. This had no result. The Minister then ordered his deportation, and he was detained yesterday for the purpose of early deportation to Malaysia.
Mr Ho’s brother, Mr Hoppy Hoo, a former student allowed to settle here after marriage to an Australian, had opened a restaurant in 1969 and wanted Mr Ho to remain permanently to assist him. Mr Ho does not have the level of qualifications required for settlement in Australia under immigration policy as reviewed in 1966. Policy permits the entry for 2 years of chefs for employment in restaurants providing authentic Asian meals requiring preparation by highly-trained chefs. This is in line with policy concerning the entry of specialist workers generally and cannot be extended to allow the large and growing number of Chinese restaurants in Australia to bring in staff to prepare less difficult meals. Mr Hoppy Hoo’s restaurant did not meet the requirements of the policy in question.
The Department does not make surveys of these very numerous restaurants to ascertain their labour requirements. Each application by a restaurant is considered individually. If the restaurant itself qualifies to have an overseas chef for 2 years, the proprietor names the particular chef whom he wants to introduce, whether from Hong Kong, Malaysia or elsewhere, and the overseas post in the country concerned checks that particular person’s experience as a chef.
– Has the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry seen a report that the British Government is to place duties and quotas on some exports of primary products from Australia to the United Kingdom? What effect is this decision likely to have on our export trade to the United Kingdom and on some of our primary industries?
– I believe that the speech on this subject was made by the Chancellor of the British Exchequer. I am not aware of the details contained in the report or in the speech. 1 point out to the honourable senator that quotas exist on the British market at the present time in regard to butter and cheese. I am not aware of whether these quotas will be increased, but I do understand that the Minister for Trade and Industry, and probably his representative in this place, will be making a statement on this matter later today.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior whether his attention has been drawn to an article in today’s Press, and attributed to the Minister for the Interior, which states that reassessments of properties in the Australian Capital Territory henceforth will be done at 3-year intervals. Was this information available on Monday night last? If so, why was it not made known at the time of the debate which was then taking place on this subject? If it was not then known but has been decided since, does this not indicate that details of the proposed new land tenure system are being worked out from day to day and justify the strongly held view in the Canberra community that the plan is by no means clear cut and its consequences therefore not precisely predictable, despite the many assurances we have been given to tha contrary?
– I would have thought that Monday night’s debate had cleared up all the matters that Senator
Devitt was concerned about in relation to this issue. It was very thoroughly canvassed indeed. The statement given to me by the Minister to pass on to the Senate was quite exhaustively prepared. Also, the Minister’s officers gave out a great deal of information. I am surprised to learn from today’s Press and Senator Devitt that there is still some dissatisfaction. All I can do in these circumstances is to ask the Minister what is the position, and I shall do that.
– My question, which is supplementary to one I asked yesterday, is addressed to the Minister representing the Postmaster-General. Advertisements appear in Australian news papers today stating that a parliamentary Party leader will have his Senate election campaign policy speech broadcast over all Australian Broadcasting Commission stations tonight. Can the Minister give any information as to whether these advertisements are statements of fact? Would it not be a breach of the law regarding the broadcasting of the proceedings of the Parliament - the proceedings of the Senate should be broadcast tonight - if all ABC stations broadcast a Party political policy speech? Is it known whether the broadcast has been prerecorded? Or will Mr Whitlam be absent from his place as leader of the Australian Labor Party in the House of Representatives tonight?
– I rise on a point of order. I ask you, Mr President, to reject the last part of the question on the ground that the Senate should not be dealing in any way with the conduct of an eminent member of the other House as related to his presence in or absence from tha*. House.
– J uphold that point of view. That is quite right. The actions of the Leader of the Opposition in the other place should not be questioned. The Minister may answer only the first part of the question.
– The honourable senator asked me a question concerning this matter yesterday. The information I have is that tonight the Australian Broadcasting Commission will broadcast the proceedings of the Parliament on the first network and the policy speech of the Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives on the second and third networks. I am unable to inform the senator of any details of the broadcast.
– Has the Minister for Civil Aviation, his Department or Qantas Airways Ltd investigated the current controversy in the United States of America over the fact that Boeing jumbo jet engines are subject to overheating? Has his Department or Qantas had cause to note that on three occasions recently the engines of this type of aircraft have caught fire? If information is available, will the Minister make it available to the Senate?
– Yes, we have watched this matter very closely indeed. The Department of Civil Aviation’ has permanently located in Washington an Air Attache whose job it is to be on the ball all the time in relation to these matters. Anything of this kind is taken up immediately. We have been watching this very closely, as indeed I am quite sure Qantas has. Although Qantas has not reported on this matter to me, I know that that airline would be watching the position. I will endeavour to obtain the current information for the honourable senator. I may not obtain it before the Senate lifts. If I cannot I will have a letter written to him abou! it.
– Has the Minister for Air seen an inaccurate report in the ‘Australian’ newspaper of today’s date that he will not be a candidate for the coming Senate elections on 2 1 st November? Will he make his position clear so that the electors of Western Australia will be assured that they are to have the advantage of retaining an honourable senator experienced in the administration of Government?
– I assure the honourable senator that I will not be retiring from the Senate. I think everyone in this place realises that because of the complex system of Senate elections under which only half of the Senate representatives retire every 3 years, a lot of people, including apparently the editor of the article in today’s ‘Australian’, are unaware that the terms of service of half of the sitting senators expire on 30th June next. I point out that those same senators who retire are eligible for re-election. I assure the honourable senator that the people of Western Australia will have the advantage of retaining an experienced senator. Furthermore I point out that I am the only Government senator from Western Australia who is seeking re-election and I am the only Federal Minister representing Western Australia.
– Does the Minister who just spoke and who represents the Minister for Primary Industry recall that in April of this year he brought into this chamber by way of amendment a proposal in which he stated on behalf of the Government that the most appropriate way to deal wilh the problems of the rural industries was to set up industry sponsored committees of inquiry into those problems? Will the Minister tell us how many industry sponsored committees of inquiry have been set up since he proposed them to the Senate in April of this year?
– The honourable senator was quick on his feet after I had sat down to try to get in some propaganda on this matter. I point out to him that a number of industry sponsored committees have been set up. “They are going on all the time. I think the best example is the recent wool inquiry. I point out that the dried fruits industry is presently having an inquiry.
– lt is a simple question. Can the honourable senator not answer it?
– I will not answer it if the honourable senator keeps on interjecting all the time.
– Is not the Leader of the Opposition out of order?
– I would have thought so. I shall start again. I point out to the Leader of the Opposition that the wool industry has just had a very good inquiry. The advisory committee of the Australian Wool Board conducted an inquiry together with the leaders of the industry. The Minister has appointed a first class man with long experience, Sir John Crawford, to assist the industry. The Australian Apple and Pear Board which is holding its federal conference in Tasmania tomorrow has conducted a thorough inquiry into the industry with representatives of the Department of Primary Industry. The dried fruits industry Ls still going through a long inquiry following the rejection of the stabilisation scheme last March. Those are 3 examples for the honourable senator.
– I direct my question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Would a 35-hour week add considerably to the cost structure of Australia adding greatly to the cost of living and adversely affecting primary industry and other sections of industry, particularly those which are developing an export trade? Does the Minister know whether the Australian Labor Party supports the policy of the President of the Australian Council of Trade Unions, Mr Hawke, for the introduction of a 35-hour week?
I believe - and I do not think it is arguable on an economic basis - that a 35-hour week, which would have a profound effect upon productivity, would have a disastrous effect on the economy unless there were a corresponding buildup of productivity. I do not think that is arguable. In view of the fact that shortly a matter of urgency will be debated, I have no doubt that I will have an opportunity to expand that argument. I also have some information as to where the Australian Labor Party stands on the introduction of a 35-hour week. I will bring that out at a later hour of the day. I will be able to produce documented evidence about where the Labor Party stands.
– Can the Minister representing the Minister for Health advise whether the Government is making any attempt to extend the pensioner health services to cover all injuries and illnesses affecting pensioners? ls the Minister aware that the present health services for pensioners do not include specialist treatment, treatment for numerous complaints, general anaesthetics operations and the setting of fractures? Is it a fact that a pensioner who is treated by a doctor who is not a member of the hospital scheme has to pay for such services as well as the hospital charges? Would not the Minister agree that sudden illness and accidents happen to pensioners and that they should not be burdened financially because of such difficulties? Will she do everything in her power to broaden the pensioner health services to overcome such extenuating circumstances?
– The honorable senator has asked a very important question. I shall get a detailed reply about the particular services.
– Can the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior inform the Senate whether the police officer at Wave Hill in the Northern Territory has established a trading post? If the answer is in the affirmative, does the establishment of a trading post under such circumstances have the approval of the Department of the Interior?
– I certainly would not know whether that was an accurate comment. I shall have to obtain information. I offer the observation that a number of similar propositions which have been advanced previously have, on inquiry, been found not to he correct.
– I ask a question of the Minister representing the Minister for Customs and Excise. Does the Dangerous Drugs Act of South Australia make illegal the possession of drugs to which the Act applies and which are named in section 4 of the Act? Is the only drug named in section 4 as a derivative of the cannabis sativa plant an extract or tincture of Indian hemp? As marihuana, smoked as pot in Australia, is the leaves of the cannabis plant and not an extract or tincture, how does it become an offence in South Australia to be in possession of Australiangrown marihuana, as stated in the Minister’s reply to question No. 704 asked by Senator Poyser?
– I am not a South Australian, although I am very fond of that State. My forebears came from it. I have a great admiration for practically all its people. I am not a member of the South Australian Parliament. Therefore, I am not familiar with its Acts. I remember reading, on behalf of the Minister for Cus toms and Excise, the appropriate answer. 1 remember it contained some reference to marihuana. I am indebted to Senator Cavanagh for supplying extra information, but I shall have to ask the responsible Minister whether he can supply Senator Cavanagh with information as to what the South Australian Act means and as to its intentions. Again I will try to get this information before the Senate lifts.
– My question is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. It refers to the answer that he gave to Senator Young about the 35-hour week. ls the Minister aware that a tripartite body appointed by the National Labour Advisory Council, which is a body set up by the Government, has recently sent out a study of the effects of automation and technological changes on workers? The study lists a number of changes which automation would bring to highly productive industries. They would perform the job of production much quicker than heretofore. The study recommends certain conferences between employers and employees in connection with these changes. If the Leader of the Government is aware of the changes, why did he not mention the fact that studies conducted by the Department of Labour and National Service indicate that mechanisation and automation necessitate consideration of a shorter working week?
The honourable senator’s question has no relationship to the question I was asked by Senator Young. Senator Bishop is trying to justify a 35-hour week. It is an interesting exercise in that context. However, the fact of the matter is that I was asked a question by Senator Young on a particular subject and I replied to it. I suggest to Senator Bishop that he be a little patient because more will be said on this subject later in the day.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior. In reply to my last question the Minister said that complaints which had been raised by me in previous questions concerning the treatment of Aboriginals in the Northern Territory had proved on investigation to be without substance. I ask the Minister whether he will cite the cases and the questions involved.
– It will be my pleasure to look up this matter and inform Senator Keeffe. I distinctly remember a reply to a question he asked a little while ago which in effect said that the allegations he had made were incorrect.
No Act of Parliament of the United Kingdom passed after the commencement of this Act shall extend, or be deemed to extend, to a Dominion as part of the law of that Dominion, unless it is expressly declared in that Act that that Dominion has requested, and consented to, the enactment thereof.
(Question No. 567)
asked the Minister repre senting the Minister for National Development, upon notice:
– The Minister for National Development has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
(Question No. 462)
asked the Minister representing the Attorney-General, upon notice:
What, if anything, is being done by the Attorney-General to ensure that full facilities are provided for civil marriages during reasonable hours at night and week-ends, and at places additional to registry offices.
– The AttorneyGeneral has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
Under present administrative arrangements all civil marriages except those in remote areas are solemnised by appropriate State or Territory officers. I think that these arrangements should continue. The times when the officers of a State are available to solemnise marriages is a matter of concern to the State. All States, except Queensland, are now providing extended facilities cor civil marriage ceremonies, at least in the capital city registry offices, on Saturdays and. in the case of one State, on occasional week day evenings. I am informed that in the case of Queensland, there are practical difficulties in the way of opening the Brisbane registry office on Saturdays. The matter is however, being further pursued with that State.
(Question No. 552)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Industry, upon notice:
What methods are proposed to be employed against the importation of such sub-standard articles as certain plastic footwear presently being imported, in order that the Australian public may be protected.
– The Minister for Trade and Industry has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
There are requirements under the Commerce (Imports) Regulations that imported non-rubber footwear be indelibly branded, on the outer surface of each sole, stating the material of which the soles are composed. The regulation was imposed by the Government to protect the interests of the consumers.
A large proportion of the non-leather footwear sold in Australia is manufactured locally. Local consumers are therefore able to make a choice between the purchase of locally made or imported footwear. No doubt, the brand showing the material of construction of the soles would assist buyers to assess the quality and durability of imported footwear.
The Tariff Board has recently made a report on the non-leather footwear industry which dealt in some detail with imports of plastic footwear. During the inquiry the Board received evidence on behalf of Australian manufacturers, overseas suppliers and local users. The Board’s report, which was released on 4th August 1970, contained no reference to imports of sub-standard articles of footwear.
(Question No. 737)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Navy upon notice:
– The Minister for the Navy has provided the following answers tothe honourable senator’s questions:
(Question No. 739)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Customs and Excise, upon notice:
In view of the recent serious thefts which have transferred a vast quantity of dangerous drugs from the legal market to the illegal market and having in mind the danger to the community, especially young people, of the illicit trafficking in drugs and the fact that large surpluses of drugs have been accumulated because of recent State legislation, will the Department of Customs and Excise take urgent action to have these surpluses destroyed in order to avoid the possibility of further thefts.
– The Minister for Customs and Excise has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
The Department of Customs and Excise has no powers that would enable it to destroy surplus stocks of drugs legally held in the possession of wholesalers and retailers againstthe wishes of the owners of the goods.
The recent State legislation referred to by the honourable senator relates to the placing of restrictions on the prescribing by doctors of amphetamine, dexamphetamine, methylamphetamine and, in some States, phenmetrazine.
Because of these restrictions retailers have been returning their surplus stocks to the wholesalers. In this regard it is known that the State Health Departments are receiving the full co-operation of the wholesalers in reducing their stocks of these drugs to an acceptable level. Large quantities have been re-exported and further quantities have been destroyed under the supervision of officers of the State Health Departments.
I understand that stocks of these drugs are not now excessive.
(Question No. 618)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice:
– The Minister for Shipping and Transport has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
At the request of Interlaine and the British Wool Federation, the principals of the owners of Australian wool at shipment from Australia, negotiations were entered into with the Conference in Paris following the talks between AESA and OSRA in Australia. At the Paris meeting both AWGC and the Australian woolbuyers were represented and it appears that without the disagreement of these representatives the freight increase of 4 per cent for wool was settled.
The increase was stated to be subject to ratification by the AESA, but it has not been so ratified.
Representatives of Interlaine and the British Wool Federation in Europe at a meeting with Conference during the last week in August, agreed to instruct the Australian woolbuyers to sign contracts for shipment on the basis of the 4 per cent increase in freights for wool.
While the Government cannot be happy at the settlement of freight rates outside Australia for Australia’s principal export commodity, it must be recognised that Australian woolgrowers, who do not own wool at time of shipment, have only very restricted rights to negotiate freight rates.
Under the Act shipowners are obliged to negotiate with the shipper body, and to make available information which is reasonably necessary for the conduct of the negotiations. They must also permit an officer of the Department of Trade and
Industry to be present at these negotiations. In the present case such an officer was present and kept me, in my then capacity as Acting Minister for Trade and Industry, informed.
While AESA has maintained its posture for standstill, the Government cannot impose a standstill when the owners of the commodity have accepted the freight increase of 4 per cent and Australian commodity representatives have apparently not opposed it when negotiated in Paris.
(Question No. 681)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for National Development, upon notice:
What has been the volume and value of (a) oil, and (b) natural gas, produced in (i) Australia, and (ii) Queensland in each year since 1963?
– The Minister for National Development has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
(Question No. 695)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice:
– The Minister for Shipping and Transport has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
Not all the excess is to be repaid as a system of carry forward exists until there is a final settlement of this pool agreement which expires in December 1973. Furthermore, following strong representations by the Line, further adjustments, some retrospective, are expected for the carriage of certain cargoes since the Eastern Searoad Service was commenced.
In the northbound pool, which relates only to wool, the monetary extent of any excess by the
Line will not be known until later this year.However, it is expected to be marginal only.
(Question No. 702)
asked the Minister representingthe Minister for Immigration, upon notice:
– The Minister for Immigration has provided the following answer to the honourable senators question:
The following table shows the number of nonEuropean aliens granted Australian citizenship by naturalisation in each of the years 1960-1969, inclusive:
Total figures only of British non-Europeans granted Australian citizenship by registration are available for the years 1962 to 1964 inclusive, as follows:
The following are the statistics for 1965 to 1969 inclusive:_
The number of non-European students present in Australia during each of the past 10 academic years is as follows:
It is not possible to state precise statistics of the number of short term visitors in Australia at any given time. (31 Apart from the nationality breakdown shown under (1) above, the information sought is not recorded in statistical form.
The Posmaster-General has now furnished the following information in reply:
The revised conditions outlined by the Postmaster-General in his second reading speech on the 18th August 1970, concerning the provision of country telephone services provided that the Post Office will in future meet the construction costs for all telephone exchange line services within a 15 mile radius of the appropriate exchange. In addition these conditions will apply to subscribers who have provided or upgraded their lines to Departmental specifications under the privately constructed plant policy which became operative from the 1st January 1969.
Subscribers located within the IS mile radius who paid for their lines to be constructed by the Department will be refunded the full amount paid. Those whose lines were constructed by other contractors will receive a negotiated figure up to the estimated Departmental cost Subscribers located beyond the 15 mile radius will be entitled to similar reimbursement less a charge of $40 for each quarter mile in excess of 15 miles.
There are cases where primary producers have expended considerable sums in providing telephone line plant since the 1st January 1969.
Subscribers who installed equipment under the privately constructed plant scheme will be notified, and it is not expected that there will be any delay in effecting settlements.
As the current contract for printing the Queensland section of telephone books expires in 1972, have tenders been invited for the printing of books for subsequent years? If so, have applications closed and which firm was the successful tenderer?
The Postmaster-General has now furnished the following information in reply:
Tenders for the printing of Quensland telephone directories after the present contract expires in 1972 will not be invited until early in 1971.
Senator Dame ANNABELLE RANKIN
On 15th October 1970 Senator Fitzgerald asked me the following question:
Can the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration advise when the immigration agreement discussed by the Australian Minister for Immigration and the Maltese Government some months ago will bc made available to this Parliament? Can she also advise whether the agreement with Malta will embrace the reciprocal social service benefits that are now granted to people from Brimin and Kew Zealand who intend to reside permanently in Australia as they, like Maltese citizens, are members of the British Commonwealth? The Minister will recall that I have asked this question many limes in the last 3 years since the visit of Mr Mintoff, the former Prime Minister of Malta, who came to Australia for the purpose of having discussions wilh the Australian Government on this matter.
The Minister for Immigration- has now furnished me with the following information:
He expects the new migration agreement with Malta to be available to Parliament as soon as mutually convenient arrangements for the formal signing can be made.
He has informed me also that the reciprocal social service agreements wilh Britain and New Zealand to which the honourable senator referred were not negotiated within the framework of migration agreements.
However, the proposed agreement with Malta expresses the intention of both Governments to study the possibility of reaching an agreement on social service reciprocity in the future.
Formal Motion for Adjournment
– I have received the following letter from Senator Murphy:
In accordance with Standing Order No. 64 I intend to move today for the purpose of discussing a matter of urgency:
That the Senate at its rising adjourn until tomorrow at 9.55 a.m.’
STATEMENT OF MATTER OF URGENCY
The neglect and refusal of the Government to take effective action to protect the public from unjustified price increases caused by price rigging and other harmful practices.’
Is the motion supported? (More than the number of senators required by the Standing Orders having risen in their places)
– I move:
I do so for the purpose of debating a matter of urgency, namely:
The neglect and refusal of the Government to lake effective action to protect the public from unjustified price increases caused by price rigging and other harmful practices.
One of the greatest problems facing the Australian public, our rural industries and people engaged in trade and commerce in this country is the unjustified price increase system operating throughout the community. What is the cause of the price increases? There may be a number of causes, some of which may be avoidable and some of which may not. When one looks at what are unjustified increases and what can be done to prevent them, one comes to something which is agreed on all sides - that one of the main factors in bringing about unjustified price increases in the community is the existence of price rigging, collusive arrangements of many kinds and other harmful practices.
– What are they?
– If the honourable senator studies the list of them in the trade practices documents he will find the answer to his question. They are arrangements such as monopolisation, persistent price cutting to drive a competitor out of business followed by price increases, and other practices which have been given fancy names. They are vertical arrangements, horizontal arrangements and all sorts of other arrangements. The object of all of them is much the same - that is, to gain control of a market or part of a market and then to engage in a particular kind of price fixing not supervised by any public authority, with no responsibility to anybody but the person engaged in the practice, and to force up prices to the highest level that the market will bear.
As T understand it, there is no contest in this chamber or amongst the political parties as to the existence of those practices. Early in 1960, about 10 years ago, a royal commission conducted an investigation in
Tasmania. It found that the practices 10 which I have referred were rife and extended to all sorts of commodities. The list dealt with by the Tasmanian royal commission was found to include electric lights, beer, bread, tyres and tubes, automotive parts, books, sporting goods, hot water systems, paint, cement, steel pipes, hardboard and plywood, most hardware, cigarettes and tobacco, pharmaceutical goods, footwear, much clothing and drapery and many other goods comprising a large part of the wholesale and retail trade.
This situation was confirmed by inquiries made under the direction of Sir Garfield Barwick, who was then the AttorneyGeneral and is now Chief Justice of the High Court. It was said that these practices were rife. There was hardly a commodity not affected by the existence of these harmful practices. It was agreed on all hands in this Parliament that something ought to be done and that effective laws should be made to protect the people against the operation of these practices, lt was agreed that it would be in the interests of the consumer in general, in the interests of trade and commerce and in the interests of Australia that these practices be dealt with effectively. That was common ground. The Liberal Party, the Australian Country Party, and for that matter the Australian Democratic Labor Party-
– Why say ‘for that matter?
– Because the other two are the major parties in this Parliament. The Democratic Labor Party is represented by a few senators but on occasions they are a very significant few in this chamber. I mean no slight by using the phrase ‘for that matter’. Perhaps I should have said that for that matter, as I recall the situation, this was supported by the Independent senator in this chamber. Everybody recognises the existence of these practices and knew that they were rife. Everybody agreed that there should be firm laws and firm administration to deal with them.
All of us know what these practices do. It was quite a common experience for people who had anything to do with local government to find collusive tenders submitted for petrol, oil and electrical gear.
Councils would call for tenders and tenders would be put in. But all tenders would be for, say, £57,000, which was our currency at that time - indeed right down to the very penny. Tenders from up to a dozen different firms would be the same. The council concerned would have no option but to accept one of those tenders. Sometimes the tenders varied a little bit. Some firm would put in a tender which was £1 less than the others. In other words the 12 firms involved had decided that this time it was a certain firm’s turn and next time it would be some other firm’s turn. Councils were held to ransom. The same practice operated in the government sphere, State and Federal. The Federal Government attempted to do something about this but there was no doubt that these practices were operating throughout the community against public bodies. The ordinary consumer, the average citizen, had no hope at all. Prices of the commodities which he was buying were fixed. No matter where he bought them he paid the price fixed by these private price fixing authorities for their own benefit. The poor little shop keeper with the corner store was not driving around in a Rolls Royce. He was caught in the system and was trying to survive. Prices were not being fixed by him but by large cartels and monopolies, and they are operating at large today.
These cartels and monopolies have also operated in other countries. Those countries soon realised that they needed strict laws to deal with them. In the United States of America and Canada in the last century, firm laws were introduced to deal with these kinds of practices. There has been some curbing of them but even now the benefits are so great that cartels, syndicates and great corporations in the United States have broken those laws despite the severe penalties. They have been prepared to go to all sorts of fantastic schemes. Some of them are like what you would read in a James Bond story. They communicated with one another in coded words and so forth. These firms have been exposed and penalised.
This shows the profits which are to be made and the incentives there are for people to make great profits by indulging in harmful practices which are extremely injurious to the community and force up the prices of commodities elsewhere. It is clear that action ought to be taken to protect the people. It is the duty of every government to protect the people of the country. Beyond any question, that is its first duty, is it not?
– You agree that defence is important, do you not?
– The honourable senator attempts to divert us by talking about defence. Let us talk about that on another occasion. Here is something that is concerned with a specific matter. We will deal with other matters on another occasion. There is no doubt - this is what the people of Australia as well as the Senate ought to know - that everyone agrees that these practices are going on. Everyone agrees that there ought to be laws against them, lt is the duty of the Government to take action in regard to them. That is why this matter of urgency - the Government’s neglect and refusal to take effective action to deal with unjustified price increases brought about by price rigging and other harmful practices - is raised.
What has been done? Sir Garfield Barwick brought in proposals 10 years ago. When he did that there was an outcry from those who were indulging in restricted practices and making the great profits. For about 5 years nothing was done. At the beginning of 1965 proposals were brought in which were a watered down version of what Sir Garfield Barwick had suggested. As honourable senators know, Sir Garfield Barwick went off to the High Court and became Chief Justice of Australia. Some say that the 2 matters are not connected. At the end of 1965 those watered down proposals came into the Parliament and were dealt with by the House of Representatives. Even then, at the last minute, amendments were moved on behalf of the Government which would have destroyed the legislation entirely; there would have been no benefit at all. When the legislation came into the Senate we were able to delete those last minute amendments and to have at least some kind of legislation passed, although we recognised that it was feeble legislation. We were able to do so with the assistance of the Australian Democratic Labor Party and one of the Government senators who could not stomach what was being done to the legislation. What we did then corrected the law.
What happened after that? The Government bad the Bill, but it said at the time that because of the constitutional doubts about the measure it was necessary for the State parliaments to pass complementary legislation; that is, it was necessary to have similar legislation by the States. One would think: ‘Why should not the States pass such legislation if they are asked to? Here are the representatives of all the parties agreeing that laws are necessary. The Federal Liberal Party and the Federal Country Party say that it is necessary for the States to pass these laws’. The people of Australia would think: ‘There should be no problem about it. Surely the governments and the parliamentarians - State and Federal - will act so as to protect the people’.
But what happened? Only in the States in which the Labor Party was in government was any attempt made to pass that complementary legislation. In Tasmania the Parliament passed the legislation introduced by the then Labor Government. In South Australia, under the Labor Government, the House of Assembly passed the legislation, but it was rejected by the undemocratic Upper House, which is controlled by the Liberal and Country League. Each of the other States, where the Liberal and Country Parties were in control of the government, refused to pass the legislation that they were requested to pass. In Victoria some kind of Bill was passed, but the Victorian Parliament would not pass what was asked of it.
How can there be any justification for the attitude that has been taken? Members of the Liberal and Country Parties cannot divide themselves. It is no use members of the Liberal and Country Parties here saying: ‘We wanted it. We did the right thing. lt was our colleagues in the States who would not do it’. That kind of confidence trick will not deceive the people. Federal and State members of the Liberal and Country Parties are all in the same Parties. They go to the same conferences. They should have taken action there. Are the Federal members going to say that their State colleagues and the State governments that represent the same Parties are injuring the interests of the people against their wishes?
What happened after that? This Government waited until 1967 before it even proclaimed the operative parts of the legislation. The Government would not obtain staff: it would not do anything about the legislation but eventually, after much pushing, it proclaimed the operative parts. Then, as was predicted by me in 1965, we saw the spectacle that one of these companies which was affected by the legislation commenced an action in the High Court. That was the Tasmanian breweries case. Action of this kind was to be expected. The case went on for the major part of a year before one thing was decided, that the tribunal was valid. T have no doubt at all that there will be more test cases which will linger on like the Ansett case did some years ago. Meanwhile, the people’s interests are being injured. The proof of the pudding is, I suppose, really in the eating. We have no effective laws in this regard.
The unjustified price increases go on all over the place. The people are suffering, but the Government tries to divert attention from the matter. The Leader of the Government (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) said that he is going to talk about a 35-hour week. By all means let us talk about that at some stage - Government supporters have their own views on that - but we will not solve that problem in this place. One thing is clear: The Government can do something about the price rigging which is going on. It has a duty to do but it will not do it. It will not deceive the people of Australia by trying to divert the discussion to other matters. In an endeavour to do something about this, from time to time I have pressed members of the Government and asked what they are doing about trying to persuade their colleagues in the States to pass complementary legislation. I have asked about this in this chamber, even in the last few weeks. On 29th September of this year I asked Senator Wright, who represents the AttorneyGeneral in this chamber: 1 refer to the announcement made by the Attorney-General of South Australia that we would be introducing legislation complementary to the Commonwealth Trade Practices Act in order to remove any doubts or difficulties about the application of the Act in the State of South Australia.
If I might interpolate, that was for the second time because as soon as the Labor
Party was returned to office in South Australia it tried to do this. I wonder whether the Liberal and Country League in the Upper House in South Australia again will prevent from being passed these laws which are necessary for the protection of the people. My question continued:
I remind the Minister that when the Trade Practices Bill was passed the then AttorneyGeneral of the Commonwealth indicated that it was highly desirable that the States pass such complementary legislation. In view of this, if the Government really desires to combat rising prices and inflation, will the Minister take up with the Attorney-General of the Commonwealth the question of pressing the Liberal and Country Party Governments in the States of Western Australia, Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland to introduce such complementary legislation in order to deal with those restrictive trade practices which, on ail hands, are acknowledged as being a factor in the increase of prices and a cause of intiation?
To his credit, the Minister for Works (Senator Wright) said:
The occasion of the announcement to which the honourable senator referred may be an appropriate lime to renew representations to the other Slate governments to introduce complementary legislation. I am obliged to the honourable senator for the suggestion. I shall convey it to the AttorneyGeneral for his consideration.
I asked another time or two and there was no answer forthcoming. This was not the fault of the Minister in this place. Then Senator Rae, who is on the Minister’s side of the chamber, asked only a few days ago on 20th October-
– Who was this?
– Senator Rae. He asked the same Minister, Senator Wright, who represents the Attorney-General in this place:
My question is directed to the Minister representing the Attorney-General. Can the Minister state now, or will he ascertain and inform the Senate whether the question of State government acceptance of the principles of the trade practices legislation is still on the agenda of the Standing Committee of Commonwealth and State AttorneysGeneral for further discussion? Can the Minister indicate whether any progress is being made in getting governments other than the Tasmanian and South Australian Governments to refer power to enable the Commonwealth legislation to be more effective?
Mr Deputy President, I ask you to listen and to absorb this answer. Senator Wright replied: lt will be recalled that this matter was the subject of a question asked by the Leader of the Opposition on 2 occasions in recent weeks. As recently as yesterday 1 told the honourable senator that I would consult with the AttorneyGeneral and see what the present state of conversations between him and the State AttorneysGeneral was. I had that interview with the Attorney-General last night. All I can tell honourable senators is that this sort of interchange of viewpoint is one which is rather disposed to take an indefinite time. We are not in a position to expect that a definite announcement can be made before the Senate rises.
It is 10 years since Sir Garfield Barwick showed the people of Australia that these practices were harming them. Members of the Government parties agree that this is happening. They agree that the laws should be made to deal with it. I note that the Minister for Works (Senator Wright) has just entered the chamber. I assure him that nothing was said to his discredit during his absence. The attack on this occasion is not directed towards him. He smiles. I think that in his heart he agrees with every word I am saying. I recall, to his credit, that he was the only senator to cross the floor to vote with us on this matter previously. Of course he cannot be independent now and speak as he did then.
How can we justify the fact that for 10 years this Government has just fooled around and has brought in watered down legislation? The legislation is full of secrecy. Some attempt has been made by the Trade Practices Commissioner to say that something is being done. It is all very secret. He says: ‘We cannot really tell you, but we have been looking at some things.’ We know that this legislation was not really designed and not really intended to work. Otherwise why did the Government delay its introduction for years? Why did the Government delay proclaiming the Act? Why has it allowed the situation to continue in which its colleagues in the States will not pass laws which have been asked for for the protection of the people? The Government stands condemned, because it knows that these laws should be put into effective operation. It knows there should be amending legislation to stamp out such practices as resale price maintenance, which is one of the worst features of price rigging. It is not even covered by the legislation, because the Government cannot interfere with those who are providing its financial support. It is as simple as that. That is why it does not do these things.
During this debate the Government will try to talk about anything except this matter. It will talk about a 35-hour week; it will talk about defence; it will talk about anything but its failure to take effective action against price rigging. Everyone is being hurt by it. It has forced up prices to those engaged in rural industry. It is forcing up the costs to the little manufacturers and others. They have to pay more for the commodities they need to convert into other goods. It affects those who use motor vehicles for transport because of the price of petrol, oil and spare parts. This situation is inflating the cost structure.
If the Government would do something about the situation there would not be any problem about a 35-hour week; we all would say that it could easily be afforded. But let us not divert our attention, to these things. We will facilitate a debate on a 35-hour week; we are more concerned about the Government’s failure to protect the people against the price rigging which is rife in this community. Why does the Government allow it to go on when it says in this Parliament that there should be effective administration against it? As between the Federal Government and the State governments there is such inaction, neglect and refusal to act that the public is left wide open to be got at. Members of the public all over Australia are screaming, because they can see what is happening. And they ought to know. If the Government had the will it could do something about it. There are many ways of doing something about it, but something will not be done because this Government will not do it.
(3.24) - We have just heard the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Murphy) make a contribution which is really the next day’s hash of the previous day’s meal in the other place. A proposal was submitted in the other place yesterday which was almost identical in terms to the one submitted here today. Certainly the debate there was a little wider. That proposal having been rubbished a little in the other place, Senator Murphy was very careful to narrow down the proposal he submitted here. I invite honourable senators to analyse what he said. This Parliament has debated the problem and has made a contribution to its solution in the form of trade practices legislation. Senator Murphy’s speech was an assault on the States for not having passed complementary legislation. Having regard to the profession to which Senator Murphy belongs he would know that in a debate of this kind he first needs to prove his case in terms of his actual resolution.
He talked in glib terms, smacked the table and made a lot of noise about price rigging and other harmful practices. But in fact not one single case did he bring before us. lt was melodrama. For a moment I almost thought he was a candidate for the next Senate election. Perhaps I am being a bit cynical in making that comment. I withdraw it because, after all, he is the Leader of the Opposition and he is entitled to make his case. The truth of the matter is that this is an example of a motion which was debated in another place. Now it comes up here the second time around. 1 invite anybody here and anybody who is listening in to analyse what was said. Senator Murphy presented an emotional case. He would know even better than I that because of constitutional difficulties there is a need for complementary legislation to be passed by the States. Most of the States have not been prepared to provide that legislation because of cases taken to court such as the Cascade Brewery case in Tasmania which was an appeal against the law. Senator Murphy blames this Government for some sinister delay. We are accused of being part of a machiavellian plot not to persist with this legislation. He therefore suggests that we are terrible people.
Reference was made to the fact that we are members of the Liberal-Country Party coalition and it was said that the LiberalCountry Party coalitions in the States must come out of the same pot. lt is not unknown for the Australian Labor Party to have a couple of differences about coming out of the same pot. I refer to Victoria. It is a pretty shallow argument when the chicken comes home to roost in Victoria to talk about ‘once a Liberal always a Liberal’, whether it be in the Commonwealth or the State sphere. I think the principle goes a bit deeper in Victoria where ‘once a Labor man’ is obviously not a case of ‘always a Labor man’. I think the Leader of the Opposition put forward a pretty thin argument. Since Senator Murphy did not give us any particularity about the unjustified price increases except by referring to price rigging and other harmful practices perhaps I should look at what he might have said. We have had some information about price increases and in more recent times questions have been asked about the increases in terms of the inflation problem. None of us would deny that there have been some inflationary tendencies and that this Government has taken action to steady the economy. The Labor Party does not agree with the procedures which were taken to steady the economy in the budgetary sense.
– They cannot deny that this Government has the best inflationary record of any country.
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSONI ask the honourable senator not to anticipate me because I am about to demonstrate that point. I notice that the more honourable senators on the other side are hurt the more they start to yap. Courtesy demands that I should be heard, just as Senator Murphy was heard. The lynch pin for the motion was price increases. Leaving aside trade practices, the Government has taken legislative and Executive action to stem what it recognised as an inflationary trend. The first action it took was in relation to liquidity. Everybody knows - the Australian Labor Party knows as well as we do, but it is not political for its members to recognise it - that liquidity has a vital influence on an economy. The action taken in relation to the bank rate clearly was intended to slow down the liquidity and to cool down the economy to some extent because it was getting overheated. I do not have to state this to demonstrate that inflationary trends in Australia have tended to slacken.
This motion would have had a lot more validity, if it had any at all, if it were not introduced in the atmosphere of a coming Senate election and if the Senate were not 3 or 4 days away from the time of lifting, perhaps - who knows - but 12 months ago. Statistics published recently by the Commonwealth Bureau of Census and Statistics disclosed a drop in the price spiral. I quote from the Bureau’s report which was released in the Press on 20th October 1970, which is not so long ago. It was reported that the rate of increase in retail prices had slowed in the September quarter. The September rise for the 6 State capitals was 0.6 per cent against rises in the previous quarters of 1.3 per cent, 1 per cent and 0.8 per cent. The Sydney increase was 0.9 per cent against 1.4 per cent in the previous quarter and 1.6 per cent in the quarter previous to that.
– That does not show that prices have dropped, lt only shows that the rise has slowed.
– It shows that the rise has slowed by comparison to the rise in previous quarters. There can be no doubt that the economy has been stabilised, quite contrary to what Senator Murphy said. This has happened in a climate of full employment. We have achieved this result in a most difficult climate. The unemployment problem is world wide. The number of Australians unemployed is less than 1 per cent of our work force. Australia is a primary producing country and the population moves because of seasonal employment. Australia, a primary producing country, has that enviable employment record, whereas other countries in the free world have unemployment figures as high as 4 per cent and 5 per cent and even higher. The rate of increase in the price of commodities in those countries is much higher than the rate of increase in the price of commodities in Australia. One does not walk away from the problem. We recognise that it is a problem and the Government has not defaulted in relation to these issues. The Budget, which the Australian Labor Party has opposed so vigorously and is continuing to oppose, was calculated to have a steadying influence on the economy. There has been no validity in some of the arguments that have been put. Incorporated in the Budget was a tremendous taxation concession of about $240m for this year or about $280m in a full year. That concession was to be given to no less than 5 million people. What did the Labor Party do? It moved to have the relevant Bill withdrawn. The effect of having the Bill withdrawn would have been to defeat it.
– That is not so. The Minister knows better than that.
– The honourable senator cannot walk away from his responsibilities in this place. The
Opposition voted against the Bill, if it bad succeeded, the Bill would have been defeated.
– We did not vote against the Bill at all.
The Opposition voted against the second reading of the Bill. If 1 am wrong in that statement, I will withdraw it. The Opposition moved an amendment that the Bill be withdrawn. If that amendment had been carried, the Bill would have disappeared. Honourable senators opposite should not kid themselves that the amendment meant anything else. The Budget was calculated to have a steadying influence on the economy. The Opposition has moved amendments to almost every consequential Bill. The amendments, if carried, would have had the effect of stopping the Bills or of referring them to committees. In some instances, they cast judgments against the proposals.
I do not believe that a case has been made by Senator Murphy. He would have been far better off if he had made a straight out attack on the Trade Practices Act. Senator Murphy would have a fairly good understanding of the legal implications of that Act. He would know that our federal system made the application of the legislation very difficult. Nobody would deny that the Act has been challenged in the courts. I think it was only in very recent times that a decision was given in the Tasmanian case. About 80 per cent or 90 per cent of Senator Murphy’s case was a criticism of the States for not passing complementary legislation. That is a decision for the States. To tie to that handle a criticism that the Government has done nothing to curb inflation is to deny and not to recognise what has been done by the Budget, by Executive action in relation to interest rates and a whole scries of proposals, by the very careful examination of expenditure and by the direction of assistance particularly to rural industries. All these matters have been calculated to steady any inflationary trends.
I think that Opposition senators, in their hearts, recognise that action has been taken. I think they recognise the problem. I believe that they accept that the Commonwealth has done a far better job than has any other country to solve this world wide problem. If that statement hurts them, I am sorry, but it is a fact of life. Not only this country but the whole world has to face the problem of falling prices for primary products. We are a young country still. We take over 120,000 migrants a year. We find full and gainful employment for our people. Our employment rate is better than that of any other country. That is the achievement which we have to consider. Added to that, we have been able to contain and hold the price factor. As I said in my speech on the Budget, whilst it is true that the consumer price index has risen, it is also true that average weekly incomes have risen by a far greater percentage. I shall not quote my speech at length because honourable senators have heard it before. I appreciate that some honourable senators do not agree with what I had to say. Nevertheless, 1 shall refer to my speech to establish a point. [ had incorporated in Hansard a table showing the consumer price index and average weekly earnings in various years. I refer to page 615 of the Senate Hansard of Wednesday, 1. 6th September 1970. The consumer price index was 106 in 1968-69, which represented a percentage increase on the previous year of 2.6. The average weekly earnings in the same year were $68.90, which represented a percentage increase on the previous year of 7.2. Let us examine the figures for the next year. In 1969-70 the consumer price index was 109.4, which represented a percentage increase on the previous year of 3.2. The average weekly earnings were $75, which represented a percentage increase on the previous year of 8.9. 1 have the statistics in front of me. I challenge honourable senators opposite to nominate a year and I will give the figures for it. We all recognise that there has been an increase in the cost of living. The fact of the matter is that in 1969-70 the average weekly earnings increased by 8.9 per cent but the consumer price index increased by only 3.2 per cent.
– What has been the increase in the profit ratio?
– The honourable senator would be aware that profit ratios vary. I suppose it would be a different matter if there was price control. 1 have been asked a lot of questions on price control. In his contribution to the debate Senator Murphy did not suggest price control would be the answer, although some of his colleagues in the Senate have referred to it before. I suspect that before this debate goes much further it will be raised again. All I would say is that price control is not the answer to the problem. It has been demonstrated throughout the world that price control is not the answer to the problem.
A few moments ago Senator Murphy made some reference to the actions of Labor governments. It is significant that the Labor governments which have been in office in the States in recent years have not suggested price control as the solution to the problem. Being blood brothers, these Labor governments would have had the same philosophy as Senator Murphy. The fact of the matter is that price control has not been introduced because it has been demonstrated that if it is to be effective it is necessary to have absolute price control over not only commodities but also wages and everything else. The classic or ideal time to impose price control was during the war years when the country was in a state of national emergency and the Commonwealth Government had far greater powers without legal and constitutional barriers to overcome. However, it would not work even under those conditions. A good many of us were not in Australia during the war years; we were somewhere else, but those who were here - our friends, parents and loved ones - have told us of the farce which went on in relation to price control. Those of us who came back after the war will recall the farce in the early post-war years. Everything one wanted was under the counter or behind the curtain.
Price control is not the answer. The answer is along the lines of the actions of the Government. The Government is striving for productivity, which is the answer to the problem. Increased wages and, indeed, reduced hours would be quite acceptable if matched by increased productivity, but if YOU do not have increased productivity they spell disaster. This is where the Government parts from the Opposition. The Opposition does not have the capacity to understand that you have to be able to produce. If wages are increased without a corresponding increase in productivity inflation will occur. A reduction of 5 hours in the working week, which the Australian Labor Party is pledged to support, without increased productivity and everything which goes with it, would be the greatest contribution possible to galloping inflation.
Senator Murphy’s case was built around criticism of the application of the Trade Practices Act. Almost the whole of his speech was based on the fact that the States have not passed complementary legislation and, as a result, they have tended to stultify the application of the provisions of this Act. I do not think Senator Murphy has told the complete story. An Act of Parliament which deals with certain aspects of trade has been passed and is in force. I think honourable senators will agree with me that those who are responsible for administering the Trade Practices Act have demonstrated that the existence of the Act has had a salutary effect on some - it would be silly to suggest all - restrictive trade practices, f believe that collusive tendering will be almost a thing of the past as a result of this Act. I know that collusive tendering has occurred. We have seen examples of it. I conclude by saying that the case which has been put up by Senator Murphy is. not valid.
– I rise to participate in this debate with a little bit of sorrow because I have just listened to the most fatuous lot of drivel I have ever heard from a senior Minister of the Government. The Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) said that price control is not the answer. He spoke knowing full well that a form of price control is in operation in the community today, but the Government will not attempt to relieve that price control in any way in favour of the housewives of Australia. The Leader of the Government criticised Senator Murphy for not producing an example. To give one T intend to quote from the annual report of the Commissioner of Trade Practices for the year ended 30th June 1970. At page 10 paragraph 2. IS it states:
The depression of the 1930s, and war time price control, led to many of the price fixing agreements still current and to the pre-disposition of many businessmen to agree prices with their competitors. Common criticisms of price control by governments are that it constitutes undue interference with business freedom, and tends to produce uniformity and to damp down competition. These may be valid criticisms, if the comparison is between government price control and competition. 1 emphasise the word ‘competition’. The report continues:
Often, however, it is not competition, but industry agreement on prices, that has replaced government price control, which was at least known to the public.
So that we do in fact have price control. Mr Bannerman, the Commissioner of Trade Practices, has drawn attention to it. Therefore, it is no good saying that we do not have price control. I do not say that a fair method of price control would be the answer to all of our problems but it would be the answer to a lot of them. The Leader of the Government said that no Labor government in the States has introduced price control. This is true. But a State Labor government would not do so because price control needs to be introduced at a national level and not within an individual State, otherwise it creates problems in that State, particularly in regard to section 92 of the Constitution. No State will introduce price control on its own. The Government knew before it passed the restrictive trade practices legislation that the States would not agree to pass complementary legislation. Sir Henry Bolte warned the Commonwealth that he would not do it, and if one State stands out that means the end of price control.
Earlier this year a survey of prices was made in Western Australia by Professor Drane who said: $69 puts you on the breadline in Perth.
At the time Professor Drane was making this survey the minimum wage in Western Australia was $42.30. The report of his remarks continued:
Families need a take home pay of $69 a week to maintain average living standards.
If he is correct, most of our one breadwinner families might be better off scrambling for handout crusts in Djakarta.
To take home $69, a married man with 2 children must earn just over $80 and claim family allowances week by week . . . The basic wage of $36.45 for men and $27.88 for women should be regarded as fatuous.
That is what Professor Drane said. Now let us see what Professor Wheelwright of the University of Sydney had to say. He has been reported in this way:
Australians were ‘better off in 1960 than they are today in the distribution of wealth, according to a Sydney economist.
In almost every category, wage earners in the lower groups have not kepi up with the others. says Professor E. Wheelwright of Sydney University’s Faculty of Economics. He made the point in. Sydney this week after completing an Australiawide survey on costs of living.
One of the important aspects emerging from his research is a distinguishing line between living standards and living costs.
It can be seen that for some time there has been concern with rising prices, not only by ordinary people but also by those who take an interest in things of this kind and are able to conduct surveys. While workers are trying to get some industrial justice the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton), addressing a dinner at which the President of the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission was present, warned the Commission that the economy could not stand wage rises. A couple of weeks later the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Snedden) on the eve of the hearing of the national wage case made an attack upon rising wages. Mr Bury, the Treasurer, also warned about wage inflation. But not one of those gentlemen referred to profit inflation, which is what we have in this country today.
If you look at the returns of the various companies in Australia von will see that the profits of all of them are increasing. This applies particularly to hire purchase finance companies, the blood suckers who are on the people all of the time. They are the ones who are making the big profits. In his Budget Speech the Treasurer admitted that the cost of living had increased by 5 per cent, that wages had increased by 7 per cent and that profits had increased by 14 per cent. Yet no attempt has been made to control profits.
The Minister said that there was an attempt to control liquidity within the economy, and he mentioned interest rates which were increased in the final quarter of the last fiscal year. What is the use of applying brakes to an economy which can immediately pass on any increases in interest rates? What happened with regard to land values? The increased interest rates were absorbed immediately in the price of land. What happened to the young people who were paying interest on long term loans to enable them to get a home of their own? The interest rates were increased immediately on loans which had been made some years before. They had budgeted to meet certain commitments over the year but the increase in interest rates forced them to adjust their budgets. How can they adjust their budgets except by reducing their standard of living? Yet that is the kind of control which the Government claims it is imposing. Who got the benefit of the increase in interest rates? None other than the estate agents and the land merchants. They collected the increase by shifting it on to the price of land, and they earned a profit on top of that as well. That is the kind of business practice for which this Government stands.
The Minister chided the Australian Labor Party for voting against a tax measure which purported to reduce the taxation burden on the community to the extent of $228m. A survey of the reduction in income tax and a survey of the increase in indirect tax reveals that the community will benefit to the extent of only about $30m, not $22Sm. This is another one of the confidence tricks that the Government attempts to put over the people. At any rate, who got the greatest benefit of the change in the tax scale by applying an across the board reduction in tax of 10 per cent on incomes up to Si 6,000 a year? That is the so-called middle income group which the Government set out to assist. The lower income group did not get the benefit because those on the minimum wage had their tax reduced by 50c a week while those on the so-called average wage - I do not know who gets the average wage because there is no average worker - had their tax reduced by $1.50 a week. However the man receiving a salary of $16,000 a year had his tax reduced by $9.61 a week. That is the way in which the Government claims that it is assisting the people of this country. In fact it is doing nothing to assist them.
– The 10 per cent reduction applied to salaries up to S 10.000, not SI 6,000.
– The maximum reduction on salaries up to $16,000 is $500 and then it starts to fall off up to S32.000. Senator Rae should have another look at the scale, and if he cannot read it I will read it for him. The Minister said that wages have increased more than prices have. Of course wages will increase more than prices because wages are always lagging behind prices. They have to catch up all the time. There is no question of the chicken and the egg in this, as those who want to examine it will know. Wages have to chase prices all along the line.
– Do you not believe in margins?
– It is all right for Senator Young to interject but he can have his say later. If anyone examines this matter in an impartial way he must know that wages have to chase prices. Prices must go up before workers can lodge claims for increased wages. A meeting of consumers concerned with increased prices was held in Melbourne earlier this year. It is reported that the meeting called for an immediate price freeze. There has not been any price freeze, and there will not be while this Government purports to support free enterprise. Where is free enterprise? There is not any free enterprise. Is the worker allowed to sell his labour at the price that he can get for it? Of course he is not. The Government has controlled wages but it will not control prices. Elimination of income tax on the minimum wage was proposed when it was $42.30 a week. Uniform legislation is required to eliminate false packaging and deceptive advertising. Has the Government done anything useful to solve those problems which face the community? No. They are all part of free enterprise. Television is used to put over false advertising, to hoodwink people into believing that they are getting more for their money than they actually receive. The cost of television advertising, which is very expensive, is added to the selling price of the goods that the people have to buy. If the advertising of cigarettes, oil and detergents on television was stopped, the television stations would all go broke. The people are forced to pay these costs.
It is a disgrace that this Government has allowed the economy to get into its present state. In the last quarter of the fiscal year, when the economy was putting on its own brakes, the Government found it necessary to introduce measures which it claimed would break down liquidity. This is the false and inflationary process to which the Government subscribes. I support the motion moved by Senator Murphy.
– The Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) referred to the melodrama of Senator Murphy’s speech. Senator Murphy reminded me of a sham actor. He hoped to substitute for logic and fact in his speech a lot of sound and fury, banging his fist on the table, throwing his papers about and waving his arms around. I suggest that that behaviour is no proper substitute for logic, and less of a substitute for facts. Senator Murphy’s speech, which lasted for about 15 or 20 minutes, contained a series of sweeping allegations completely unsupported by one fact. At one stage, in a moment of high drama, he shouted: ‘Why do you not take action?’
– Why do you not?
– On what? On a series of sweeping and wild allegations, completely unsupported by facts? Senator Murphy did not produce one figure which showed that all his allegations of price rigging, collusive tendering and so forth had had an impact upon the Australian cost structure.
– Has it or has it not?
– Perhaps it has. Senator Devitt will have his opportunity to produce facts and figures to support that claim, because his Leader could not. He did not produce one supporting fact or figure. What is the position in Australia? As the Leader of the Government in the Senate said, increases in weekly earnings over a long period have been very much greater than price increases. For example, over the last 4 years weekly earnings have averaged annually an increase of 7 per cent, whereas the average annual price increase was 3 per cent. What part of that 3 per cent increase has been caused by price rigging and such practices? If honourable senators opposite wish to claim that those practices are the major cause of price increases - and I presume that they do, because it is the only factor to which Senator Murphy and Senator Cant have referred, except for some vague academic argument* by Senator Cant - they should be prepared to present supporting figures to the Senate. What part of the 3 per cent annual increase in prices has resulted from such practices?
Senator Cant said that wages are continually lagging behind prices. I do not think the figures I have cited would support that argument. Indeed, price increases are inclined to follow wage increases, rather than wage increases to follow price increases. Listening to honourable senators opposite one could be led to believe that price increases are a problem which is peculiar to Australia. In fact, it is a world wide problem. No matter how good is the management of our country we cannot escape the consequences of a world wide inflationary trend. The Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research at the University of Melbourne - an independent body - recently produced a report. The Australian Financial Review’ of 26th October quoted from that report, as follows:
In recent years, however, our rate of price increase has been moderate in comparison with other advanced countries and, in particular, with the countries with which we do most of our trade.
That is evidence from an independent research body which supports the view I have put. Figures produced by the United Nations support the view that Australia’s rate of inflation has been amongst the lowest in the world. France, which is normally considered to be a well managed country, had a .9 per cent greater rate of inflation than Australia, while the rate of inflation in the Netherlands was 1.7 per cent greater. They are figures produced over the past few years, I understand. Figures produced by the International Monetary Fund show that Australia over a considerable period has had one of the lowest average rates of inflation of any advanced country in the world.
– France has had more economic instability than any other country in the world.
– That may be so. Australia has had one of the lowest rates of inflation and price increases in the world. It is of no good asking why or why not. I am giving the simple facts.
– Japan’s percentage rate of inflation is double that of Australia.
– That is so. It is a world wide phenomenon and does not apply only to Australia. By world standards our record has been good. Honourable senators opposite refer to price control, although Senator Murphy did not mention it today and Senator Cant referred to it only vaguely. I suggest to honourable senators opposite that they cannot name any nontotalitarian country in the world that has managed to control inflation by either wage or price control. I invite them to name one that has managed to control inflation in that way. It is the responsibility of honourable senators opposite to do so, not mine, because 1 am not arguing that price control is the answer. I again invite any honourable senator opposite to name a country that has succeeded in that respect. Under an Australian Labor Government and price control, prices rose at an average annual rate of 10 per cent, so it is clear that price control did not control inflation.
– The people of Australia knocked it back at a referendum.
– The Federal Government has no constitutional power to impose price control. To impose price control would require an amendment to the Constitution.
– The people of Australia denied a Labor Government that power.
– That is so, and they will deny it again because the Australian people do not want Socialist control. When prices were rising rapidly under a Labor Government, the unemployment rate was between 4 per cent and 5 per cent. Today the unemployment rate is between 1.5 per cent and 1.8 per cent. If I have enough time I will quote a statement on that subject from the report of the Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research. When honourable senators opposite attack the Government we are entitled to ask them what is their policy. Their policy has been - and we can understand it - for unrestrained wage increases and encouragement and support for industrial lawlessness. We now gather that they are supporting claims for a 35-hour week. Senator Murphy said that that has nothing to do with this debate. He made his speech and I will make mine. I believe it is hypocritical for members of the Labor Party to attack the Government on increased prices when that Party is advocating a 35-hour week. The Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr McEwen), in reply to a question asked recently, said that the introduction of a 35-hour week would cost Australia between $2, 000m and $2, 700m a year. What irresponsibility it is for members of the Labor Party to criticise the Government and then to advocate a measure that would result in a cost increase of that magnitude. They are weeping crocodile tears over the economic condition of primary producers in Australia, but let them tell the primary producers what a 35-hour week would mean to them. I believe it would be disastrous to Australia’s primary industries. It would sound the death knell for the great majority of them. The parliamentary Leader of the Labor Party (Mr Whitlam) should tell primary producers about the 35-hour week plan when he is stumping around rural areas. Let him justify it to the farmers of Australia.
– You denied them a 40-hour week.
– I do not deny shorter hours when they can be economically justified. They cannot be economically justified now. The Labor Party is criticising the rate of cost increase but proposes to load those costs with a 35-hour week which would cost the Australian community between $2,000m and $2,700m annually. The Labor Party is approaching this matter in a completely irresponsible manner. Where did its members stand in this place when the Australian Workers Union applied for a 35-hour week for the pastoral industry? That application was rejected by the courts, and the union ordered all its members to work only a 35 hour week in complete disregard-
– Good on them.
– There is an example of industrial lawlessness. Never mind the pastoral industry. The union ordered its members to work 35 hours a week and resorted to blackmailing graziers who refused to accept that condition. That is the type of tactic which the Labor Party engages in. Let us nail this policy on the Labor Party. The Leader of the Opposition did not want to discuss it, but let us nail it. Honourable senators opposite show complete irresponsibility in relation to price increases. I make no apology for raising this matter. The Labor Party has made many promises. No doubt tonight there will flow from the lips of Mr Whitlam promises about urban development, regional development, more water and more sewerage. Name it and they will promise it without regard to how these things are to be financed and without telling the people that they will mean cost increases or deficit financing. The people will not be told. The Labor Party will name these things and will guarantee to provide them. This is the type of irresponsibility we expect from the Opposition as against the responsible government we have had for a number of years in Australia.
I think it is again worth referring to the quotations 1 have taken from the report prepared by the Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research. It is rather interesting to note that not once in its discussion of the economy and inflation did the Institute mention price rigging and restrictive trade practices as being a factor. It pointed out that the high rate of employment is one of the factors which we have to accept, and with it a rate of inflation of between 2.5 per cent and 3.5 per cent a year. I repeat that this is an independent organisation which has made an assessment of the Australian economy. It dealt with the question of wages and price increases, according to a report in the ‘Australian Financial Review’ which stated:
Some observers claim that there is in evidence a new aggressiveness behind wage demands, backed up by increased willingness to resort to strikes in order to enforce these claims . . .’ lt remains our view nevertheless that an important reason for the quickening that has occurred in the pace of inflation must be attributed to the maintenance in the economy of stronger pressures of demand for products.’
This is the report of a responsible body which analysed the situation in a responsible economic manner. Not one mention is made throughout this report of price rigging or collusive tendering as being a factor. The Institute dealt objectively and subjectively with the factors of the economy and the factors outside Australia which are having an inflationary effect upon our economy.
This further observation was made in the report in the ‘Australian Financial Review’:
At the same time, we would argue that the real needs of the economy-
I ask honourable senators to note this - have been better served in these last 5 years of strong demand, and consequently faster inflation, than they were in either of the two earlier 5-year periods which contained longer periods of stagnation and recession.
Not all of us might agree with this statement but it is a view put forward by a responsible organisation. The Institute also makes the point that the new generation of people in business, in trade unions and elsewhere are not in awe of inflation. I conclude by quoting a remark made some 2 3’ears ago by a Labor member of Parliament, the honourable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr Crean), when speaking in a Budget debate. He said:
I suggest that there is in Australia an undue obsession with inflation.
I suggest to honourable members opposite that they should speak to the honourable member for Melbourne Ports about this.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Laucke) - Order! The honourable senator’s time has expired.
– The Australian Democratic Labor Party has examined the proposal submitted by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Murphy). We would have preferred a broader and far more responsible approach to such a subject. However, we feel that there is room to criticise the Government for its failure to prevent some unjustified price increases. Senator Murphy placed a certain construction upon his proposal and suggested that it referred in some way to the Commonwealth Trade Practices Act and the States’ co-operation or lack of co-operation in that field. However there is nothing in the proposal itself Vo suggest this, lt is an argument that he produced to substantiate his motion. In our opinion he failed to draw attention to the much more responsible approach that there should be to increased prices. Far more importantly to the Australian community, he did not mention the increased costs which lead to price increases.
We cannot accept the argument presented by the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson). This matter has nothing at all to do with the recent income tax remissions contained in the Budget. How those remissions could be claimed, in any shape or form, to have anything to do with controlling prices or costs is beyond our understanding. We believe that the people injured by the inflating cost structure and the inflating price structure in Australia are those who are not referred to in the tables quoted by the Minister. He referred to the average earners and so on. I am referring to the pensioners and superannuitants who are on fixed incomes. Then there is a large section of our community engaged in rural industries who are not earners at the moment; many of them are losing money. They are engaged in running farms in which all their capital is tied up, probably at inflated prices. These people were ignored completely in the Minister’s defence, almost as though their problems do not exist.
The Democratic Labor Party, being a responsible political organisation, is not just frying to make political capital out of the situation that exists at the moment. It is trying to get to the grass roots of the problem and to find out what can be done to assist the people in those sections of the community most damaged by the present situation. I do not know that a rigorous implementation by the States of complementary legislation to the Commonwealth legislation on restrictive trade practices would alter greatly the circumstances of the pensioners or the people in primary industry - the 2 sections of our community that are suffering most today.
The reduction of taxation mentioned by the Minister could bc construed by anybody who studies economics at all as being a slightly inflationary measure, as it places into the hands of the people who already have money - if they were not reasonably prosperous people with reasonable spending opportunities they would not be paying the taxation rates prescribed for middle income groups - more money to compete for the commodities that are on offer on the market with the people on restricted incomes, whether it be because they are on pensions or because they are losing money, on their primary production units. Therefore, the reduction of taxation cannot be construed as an anti-inflationary move at all.
Time and again the Government - fallaciously, in my view - has accepted an economic concept that a persistent increase in interest rates offers in some way a long range solution to the inflationary tendency in the community. It is true that most economists would agree that some immediate increase in interest rates at a particular time may curtail the desire to borrow temporarily, until the community adjusts to the Increase. But, to my knowledge, no economist has ever agreed that over a period of time, such as that during which this Government apparently has been accepting advice from its financial advisers that it should consistently and persistently increase interest rates, such increases will have a restrictive effect upon inflation in any way all. On the contrary, such increases have the opposite effect because they in themselves are inflationary. They increase costs and they increase prices.
– The experience of the last 6 months is against you.
– The experience of the last six months takes account of the short range prospect. The honourable senator will recall that I interjected during the Minister’s speech. First of all the Minister said that there had been a drop in prices. Then, when he read the figures, all he could prove from the statistics produced was that the rate of increase in prices had been temporarily not stopped completely but reduced slightly.
Senator Greenwood will find, if he studies what has happened the last 5 or 6 times the Government has allowed interest rates to increase until they have gone from less than 4 per cent to 8 per cent, that after the initial period of slowing clown the increase takes up again at the original rate; in fact, it goes higher because it is working on a higher interest rate basis. Surely Senator Greenwood must know that a person cannot have the same costs when his capital, borrowings and everything of a financial nature in relation to production are based on an interest rate of 8 per cent whereas once they were based on an interest rate of 4 per cent.
Let Senator Greenwood look at the stock market index if he disbelieves this is an economic argument. Today the capital value of shares, particularly industrial shares, is depressed because industrial enterprises are finding it difficult to produce a profit rate even comparable with the rates of interest that are being offered on capital for ordinary lending purposes where an 8 per cent return is absolutely guaranteed. Most industrial enterprises do not produce a rate of return on capital invested of more than 7 per cent. Today it is easy for a person to sell his shares in an industrial enterprise and go into the busi ness of lending money at 8 per cent. Yet the increase in interest rates is supposed to be some deterrent to the inflationary tendency in the community.
I suggest that those who accept that proposition are not thinking about economics themselves but are taking a prescription from somebody else. Those who know the banking industry of this country recognise that with the interest rate at 8 per cent they are in a position to make vastly greater profits than they were able to make when 4 per cent was the general rate of interest. If Government senators can answer that argument, i will be very pleased to learn. We members of the Democratic Labor Party believe that these problems are tremendous problems that require the application of the minds of all members of our community and that some prearranged prescription from somebody, which is supposed to be a cure-all, should be examined very carefully before it is accepted by any of us.
We reject the idea which the Government has put forward and which Senator Sim mentioned, namely, that the sole reasons for inflation are the stronger pressure of demand for products and the higher ratio of employment, lt is suggested that they are the 2 major causes of inflation. 1 know that it is conceded by economists that those factors can have an inflationary effect. But there is no reason why we as sensible people should accept that as inevitable any more than in the field of medicine we should accept the idea that bad air is the cause of typhoid fever or any of the other ideas that once were accepted without question by mankind as to the causes of his physical complaints. Our economic complaints need noi necessarily be caused by a high ratio of employment in the community. That must be the objective of every decent minded Australian, whatever his politics may be, if he wants to see a better Australia and to give a better life to all members of this community.
That brings me to the limitations of the matter of urgency when it refers to unjustified price increases caused by price rigging and other harmful practices’, forgetting all about costs, lt does not set out at all to say what the harmful factors are or can be. lt is true that the ones mentioned by Senator Murphy can have an effect. I do not propose to reiterate them. But what we must decide if we are sincere and responsible is: Are they any more harmful in the cost structure or in the price structure than the unauthorised forsaking of work, which is advocated by Senator Murphy and his colleagues in the Australian Labor Party, for the purposes of moratoriums and unauthorised strikes in a community in which we have an industrial arbitration system and in which strikes should be a rarity and not an every day occurrence?
I, as an industrialist and a former trade union official, appreciate that there are times and circumstances in which labour may be forced to deny management its services in order to obtain justice. But is it and was it a principle of trade unionism that a person should deny management his services for a political reason in a politically inspired strike or a stoppage when, before he stops, he announces that the stoppage will last for only 24 hours or 2 days, so that it becomes merely a terrorist activity in the industrial world? That is the very thing against which people are fighting for their liberty and freedom in many countries today and the sort of activity that everybody condemns when it is applied to international airlines and somebody wants to hijack an aircraft and use it as a terrorist gesture against the rest of the community in order to gain his ends no matter what happens.
What difference in principle is there between that ami the unauthorised stoppage of industry for half a day or a day for the purpose of labour blackmailing by terrorist activities the rest of the community into conceding a demand, whether or not it can prove that the demand is justified? Very often the demand by a union is not of an industrial nature but is of a political character, a matter sponsored by the trade union officials rather than by union members who give loyalty to their organisation and find often that that loyalty is prostituted in the interests of international politics.
We believe that these things should be considered when thought is given to harmful factors which can cause costs and prices to increase. We, like other responsible people in the community today, are trying our utmost, exercising our political knowledge and experience, to gain knowledge throughout the country so that we may offer to people in primary industry some help in solving the problems which affect them so tremendously. Nobody has an easy solution of these problems. If anyone has a real interest in the base problems confronting the farmers, let him talk to them, other than politically, and he will find that most of them do not have an answer. Experts throughout the world do not seem to know why at this stage when we have tremendous surpluses of primary products we are unable to find markets for those products among the people who obviously need them but have not the international purchasing power to be able to buy them. The Democratic Labor Party has proposed in this place that a royal commission be set up to find a solution to some of these basic problems as part of a long range programme to help primary industries. We hope that our proposal will be considered far more seriously and responsibly by all honourable senators, and not merely in a political context. We are among those who recognise that because of advanced technology a reduction of hours could perhaps soon be justified.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Laucke) - Order! The honourable senator’s time has expired.
– 1 welcome the opportunity that Senator Murphy and the Opposition have given to us this afternoon to speak on this subject. There are many aspects of the subject which could well bear discussion and perhaps a little investigation. I was sorry that Senator Murphy did not see fit to endeavour in any way to substantiate his claims and his arguments with facts and figures. That matter has already been commented upon by the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator- Sir Kenneth Anderson) and also by Senator Sim, so I shall not dwell on that, other than to make one or two remarks. My first comment is that Senator Murphy saw fit to draw on 2 examples only, one being a Tasmanian survey which he said was conducted some 10 years ago, and the other being an allegation of collusive tendering in relation to councils and semi-government organisations. Both those examples were matters referred to at considerable length and on a number of occasions by the 2 former
Attorneys-General, Sir Garfield Barwick and Mr Snedden. Both of them referred to those matters in speeches supporting the introduction of the trade practices legislation.
Apparently Senator Murphy is not able to find anything that has happened since the trade practices legislation was introduced; otherwise, presumably, he would have made some reference to it. Perhaps one can gather then, if he is unable to find examples, that the trade practices legislation has been effective, at least to some degree, in reducing the incidence of that type of activity which it was intended to overcome. But in discussing this problem we really get down to the question of price increases. As has. been stated by Senator Sim and by the Leader of the Government, this is a world trend. It is not a question of what Australia can do. Australia is now inextricably bound up in the total financial and economic world. It cannot sit out by itself and say that it will act in a way which will enable it to be completely unaffected by anything that happens in other parts of the world. In the short time available on an occasion like this it is not possible to develop that at length, but J should like to make some comparisons with Australia’s situation and see how true are the allegations which have been made by a number of honourable senators opposite. lt is important to bear in mind that Australia has been able, during the last 15 years, to have an average unemployment rate of 1.5 per cent for the last 5 years, 2.1 per cent for the 5 years preceding that and 1.6 per cent for the 5 years preceding that. The net result is that during the last 5 years the unemployment rate has been brought down - I suggest by good government - to the lowest that it has been in the last 15 years, taking the average over the 5-year periods. We find that now it is down again, far below the average for the last 5 years. That is the basic context in which we look at the problem of price increases. How bad have been the price increases? Again if we look at the figures we find that between 1955 and 1960 the average price increase was 3 per cent and between 1960 and 1965 it was 1.9 per cent. That can be directly related to the fact that unemployment was much higher during that period. The 2 things appear to be inextricably woven together. In other words, the higher the unemployment the lower the likelihood of price increases.
During the past 5 years there has been an average price increase of 3.1 per cent. As has been stated already in this debate, for the September quarter of this year the price increase is down to an average of 2.4 per cent, which is an extraordinarily low figure for any government to be able to achieve in its control of an economy in which at the same time there is an extremely low unemployment rate. The words of the ‘Economic Survey’ produced this month by the Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research in Melbourne are worth repeating for the benefit of those who perhaps do not understand this topic. The article states:
Given a continuation of the 1954 to 1966 average rate of increase of award wages at about 3.2 per cent a year, Professor Nevile-
I pause to say that on the next page of the survey the writers say: ‘Our view broadly agrees with Professor Nevile’s’, so they are supporting what he said. The article continues: believes that with 2 per cent unemployment we can expect prices to rise by 2 to 2.2 per “Cent a year; and with 1.5 per cent unemployment, prices can be expected to rise by about 3 per cent a year. These expectations are confirmed by our experiences in the 3 5-year periods since 1955-56 . . .
This is a reference to the figures which I have cited already. The article continues:
With unemployment around 1 per cent, prices might rise by 3.5 to 3.7 per cent a year. 1 pause there to say that this Government has achieved a situation now of less than 1 per cent unemployment and has been able to bring down the price rises for the last quarter to an average of 2.4 per cent per annum. The article goes on:
Prices might remain stable only if unemployment was as high as 5 per cent which would fairly clearly, however, be a level politically and socially unacceptable in Australia.
The costs of unemployment are to be measured in terms of the economic and social suffering of the individual workers affected; and the loss of output, particularly affecting investment goods and consequently future productivity, and the unease of social conscience suffered by the community as a whole.
It is quite clear that the view of those very well known and well qualified economists is that these 2 matters are inextricably bound up and that only by the very best of good government are we likely to be able to keep prices down to a low rate of increase while we have a high percentage of employment. If that is the situation it is unreal to suggest, as a number of speakers have, that Australia is in a position where it not only can stop inflation but also can actually reverse the process. Apparently it is suggested by some speakers that by some magical means the application of the trade practices legislation in a tougher form would bring about a permanent deflationary effect. This seems to me to be quite incredible. What will be the effect of preventing price maintenance, which is aimed at by the trade practices legislation - where the maintenance is at too high a level, and the forces of free competition within the market cannot have free play? What is aimed at by the legislation is to keep free competition. If industry and commerce endeavour to prevent that free competition, then I agree wholeheartedly that steps should be taken to ensure that there is freedom of competition.
What would be the position if prices were maintained at a fraction above what they should be? lt does not matter, for the purpose of the argument, what the fraction is; we will say it is 10 per cent. If there was free competition and if this boosting of prices was cut out, all that would happen would be that the price would be reduced by 10 per cent in one go. But the effect of inflation would still continue to push prices up in every other year. The trade practices legislation alone cannot have an effect on inflation. It can have an effect only on the quantity of goods which can be purchased out of the income of the person who is purchasing them. It does not have any effect and it has not any real relationship to inflation. Almost every indication is that Australia is doing extremely well in the world field in relation to inflation. A survey conducted by the Associated Industrial Consultants Ltd, which is a member of the Imbucon Group of the United Kingdom, shows that in the period from 1963 to 1969 the rise in the cost of living index in Australia was 20 per cent, compared with Japan, for example, where it was 39 per cent, and the United Kingdom where it was 29 per cent.
– Look at the low wage level which Japan started with. I think that has to be taken into consideration.
– I will cite some other examples. I just picked om Japan as one of several examaples
– Some start on a more equal basis.
– 1 will leave Japan aside and take the United Kingdom where the rise was 29 per cent. In the United States of America the rise was 22 per cent. Turning to more recent times, we find that Australia is at the head of the list of countries quoted by the Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research in relation to increases in retail prices. In 1969 the increase in Australia was 2.9 per cent, as opposed to New Zealand where it was 4.9 per cent, the United States where it was 5.4 per cent, and Canada where it was 4.5 per cent.
– What are these figures?
– These are rates of increase in retail prices. I have quoted the percentage increase in the cost of living index. I showed that in relation to other comparable countries, other than West Germany. Australia’s record since 1963 in keeping down inflation has been better.
– They work 44 hours a week in West Germany, do not forget.
– Do you want 44 hours here?
– I will make the speech, if I. may. The honourable senator may talk to Senator Withers outside. I suggest that Australia’s record in keeping down to the minimum the percentage increase in retail prices is a very enviable one. In 1969 the rate of increase in the United Kingdom was 5.4 per cent, in France it was 6.4 per cent, in the Netherlands it was 7.4 per cent, and in Japan in 1970 it was 7.7 per cent. In 1969 the rate of increase in Australia was 2.9 per cent, and for the current September quarter it is 2.4 per cent. I think Australia has something to be proud of rather than something to be condemned for. I am sure that I can get some encouragement from the fact that Senator Milliner indicates his agreement with the propositions that I put forward by nodding. I am delighted that that is so.
In the brief time still available to me 1 would like to refute some statements made by honourable senators opposite. Senator Cant stated that the reduction of income tax as outlined in the Budget was 10 per cent on incomes up to $16,000. Despite my interjection informing the honourable senator that he was wrong, he still insisted that I was wrong. To put the situation right, I quote from page 17 of the Treasurer’s Budget Speech:
On taxable incomes up to $10,000 there will be a reduction of some 10 per cent in tax payable. Above $10,000 the percentage reduction in tax will taper off, reaching 4.4 per cent at $20,000 and cutting out altogether at $32,000.
As has been evident in a number of speeches from the other side of the chamber this afternoon, it is a pity the facts were not checked before Senator Cant made his statement.
To deal with one or two other matters covered in the review given by the Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research in Melbourne, it is quite interesting to look at actual rates of growth from 1962 to 1968. Australia has been able to achieve a gross national product increase at constant prices of 5.6 per cent. Other figures given are West Germany, which is always known to have a booming economy, 4.3 per cent; the United States, 4.9 per cent; New Zealand, 3.9 per cent; and France, 5.3 per cent. Australia again is at the head of the list of countries quoted as being comparable in relation to the growth in gross national product.
– Over what period is that?
– From 1962 to 1968.
– Did you look at the period from 1968 to 1969?
– I do not have that figure in front of me but I have no doubt we had a continuation of that trend, because the Treasurer in his Budget Speech referred to it as 5.5 per cent, 1 think.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Laucke) - Order! The honourable senator’s time has expired.
– I believe that Government senators have not faced the facts of life. We have heard them trying to justify the present position. 1 repeat that they have not faced the facts of life. The fact is that inflation is with us and prices are going up to a dangerous extent, ft is useless talking about a 35-hour week. It is useless to talk about what is happening in other countries. What we have to do is face the present situation here. Senator Rae said that inflation is not with us today and that he was quite proud of the fact that when compared with other countries Australia is not suffering from inflation. If that is his belief, he disagrees with the Treasurer (Mr Bury). The Treasurer said that we cannot give an increase of more than 50c to pensioners because of inflationary trends. If on the one hand Senator Rae says that we have a proud record of non-inflation in Australia and on the other hand the Treasurer of this country says that all we can give the pensioners is 50c a week, Senator Rae’s argument falls to the ground.
– I am sorry I did not get through to you.
– The honourable senator is not ‘with’ us. His only contribution was on the score that the Australian Labor Party and the workers of Australia were advocating a 35-hour week. What has happened since the introduction of the 40-hour week? Has there not been greater productivity? The Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) said that all we need is greater productivity. We have had greater productivity but we have also had increased prices. That is the worry in Australia today. I submit that the matter of public importance raised for discussion is appropriate because it draws attention to this matter.
Sentaor Gair - lt is badly drafted.
– Irrespective of the draftsmanship the fact remains that people in Australia today are saying that there should be price control and that prices should not rise to a point which makes it most difficult for a lot of people to live under the present circumstances. Consequently there should be price control. My friends on the Government side say that that is not correct. I suggest that they have a look at the situation. One of the biggest combines in Australia has recently indicated that it will not increase the retail prices of goods until such time as it is satisfied that the firms from which it is buying the goods have legitimate reasons for increasing the wholesale price. That is an indication that commerce is looking in the direction of price control. In Melbourne another firm has publicly announced that it will not increase the retail price of its goods until such time as an appropriate trade union approves of the increase. This is a further indication of the worry amongst all sections of the community in this direction. Consequently I repeat that it is timely that an urgency motion of this nature was debated.
I am sorry that the Australian Country Party representatives are not on their feet supporting this proposition. How often do we hear from them the cry that the country people are at the end of the price squeeze and something must be done to protect them? Now the Australian Country Party representatives have an opportunity to say what they believe should be done for the country people. 1 look to their benches and I find that not one member of that Party is in the chamber at the present time. That indicates their regard for the welfare of the people they are supposed to represent. I suppose when and if a vote is taken they will vote against the urgency motion. The Government says that it is its philosophy and policy that one does not need any control over prices because competition will fix all these things. I accept that they are entitled to espouse their policy. But does it have the appropriate effect? I suggest it does not. Nearly every day one sees that prices on commodities are increasing notwithstanding the alleged competition which is supposed to exist among firms. For instance there is competition between the airlines. Have we seen an increase in the air fares to the people of Australia?
– As Senator Bishop indicates we have seen such an increase twice, ls there competition in the building industry? Of course there is. But has that kept the price of building down? 1 do not know about any other State but I suggest that in Queensland one could not build a wooden home under $1,000 a square. How can one suggest that competition will keep prices down when the fact of life is that there is competition but prices are going up? Honourable senators cannot have it both ways. Do not honourable senators think that the price of every day commodities will increase because of the 1970 Budget? Do they not think that local authorities will increase their prices? Who will pay these increased prices? The people of Australia will pay them. Until such time as we recognise that there are difficulties in Australia today we are just hiding our heads in the sand and refusing to acknowledge the facts of life.
– What is the position in other countries?
– I notice a member of the Austraiian Country Party has turned up. As there is a demand for these commodities private industry has carried on. But the prices of these commodities have increased. Some supporters of the Government Parties almost faint when one talks about price control. Goodness me, our whole life is controlled from the moment we wake in the morning until we go to bed at night. We are controlled all the way through. Wages are controlled.
– So is the
- Senator DrakeBrockman mentions the Labor Party. In the interests of this country 1 wish the Labor Party were controlling Australia today because people would have a far better standard of living. But that apart, the fact remains that if one requires transport one is controlled to the point that one has to pay a certain sum of money in order to reach one’s destination. Wages are controlled. 1 ask honourable senators not to tell me that wages are not controlled today. They are controlled to the point where the workers’ representatives have to go to the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission each 12 months for that tribunal to determine whether workers will receive a wage increase, ls that not control? Are the workers representatives allowed to go to the Commission for a wage increase in between the annual periods of review? Of course they are not. Members of the Government say that that principle is correct. If it is correct, surely it is equally correct that prices of essential commodities should be controlled. Is it any wonder that workers become discontented with their lot in life when they see the prices of commodities increasing?
I wonder whether any of the Government supporters appreciate the plight of a housewife who is endeavouring to budget on the wage she is receiving when there is an increase in the price of several commodities which will increase the cost of her husbandry by anything up to S2 a week. Her immediate reaction is to turn to her husband, the worker, who says: ‘Well, I am going to sell my commodity.’ lt is all right for Senator Little to talk about political disputes in industry. For every political dispute there are 99 genuine industrial disputes which will continue to be genuine unless the Government does what the Opposition is advocating today. It is no use honourable senators opposite trying to gloss over these serious government omissions by attacking the movement for a 35-hour week.
– Why bring a 35-hour week into a cost debate? Does the honourable senator think it will increase costs or not?
– The paucity of the representation of the Country Party today was demonstrated when Senator Webster asked me why a 35-hour week should be introduced. Senator Sim spoke about nothing but a 35-hour week. I am merely replying to him. Senator Webster might have had other business outside the Senate and did not want to listen to Senator Sim. 1 listened to him. I know what he said about the 35-hour week, about workers generally and about rural workers in Western Australia not wanting a 40-hour week. Senator Little spoke of unjustified political strikes. I repeat that for every political strike there are 99 genuine industrial disputes. In this direction I support the workers. The motion is a timely and important one. The Government chooses to disregard the seriousness of the situation in Australia, the statements made by its members in the past - such as those of the Treasurer (Mr Bury) when he referred to inflationary trends - and the Speech of the Governor-General when he opened this Parliament. On pages 4 and 5 of his Speech, he said:
Turning now to internal matters my Government believes that economic growth in Australia has continued strongly.
Thus in the year to the September quarter 1969 gross national product increased by 11.7 per cent and the indications are that this strong growth rate is continuing.
Full employment has been maintained and considerable expansion has taken place. Commerce and industry - apart from some rural industries - is prosperous. Pressures on costs and prices, though strong and persistent and requiring close attention, have for the most part been kept reasonably under control.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Davidson) - Order! The honourable senator’s time has expired.
– The Australian Labor Party has used, obviously for election purposes, a vehicle by which it can give vent to a number of thoughts which have been plaguing it for the last few weeks. On this occasion the vehicle that has been used is a discussion of what’ is called by the Labor Party unjustified price increases caused by price rigging and other harmful practices’. One would have thought that if the Labor Party really meant what it alleged it would have provided some evidence of what it complains about. Yet we listened for approximately half an hour to an emotive, ranting speech by Senator Murphy. He spoke in generalities but gave not one example of what he meant by ‘price rigging and other harmful practices’ leading to unjustified price increases. I think it is prudent for the Senate to reflect on the factors which cause or contribute to price increases.
From every day observation, it is quite obvious that price increases are taking place. The mere fact that price increases occur does not carry with it any necessary consequence that the price increases are unjustified. Obviously the company which has a commodity to sell incurs costs in introducing it and desires a return on its investment. When it sees, as the whole community sees, that the largest single item in costs - that is, wages - is being increased constantly, it follows inevitably that there will be some increase in prices.
Wages for labour represent the most significant item in any entrepreneur’s costs. When wages are increasing at the rate at which they have been increasing, it is inevitable that there will be price increases. It cannot be ignored thai the price increases that have occurred are in large measure caused or contributed to by wage increases.
If I could give some figures to the Senate, they would illustrate the point I am making. The consumer price index figures from 1959-60 to 1968-69 disclose a 23.7 per cent increase, in constant figures, in prices in that 11-year period. During the same period average weekly earnings have risen by 56.9 per cent. A comparison of the rise in the average weekly earnings and the rise in the consumer price index shows a positive increase in the standard of living of Australians over that period. Figures from the same source - that is, the Bureau of Census and Statistics - for the last 12 months disclose that from 1968-69 to 1969-70 prices have increased by 3.4 per cent and that the average weekly earnings have risen by 8.9 per cent. When wages increase at more than twice the rate at which prices increase it is justifiable for a person to say that price increases are due in no small measure to wage increases. While we have the Australian Labor Party constantly urging that wages should bc increased, which means that the cost of production should be increased, it is inevitable that prices will increase. The Labor Party claims to dislike price increases. For that reason it seeks to make some political capital of them.
What is the Labor Party’s attitude on these matters? I took the trouble to look at the Australian Labor Party’s platform which is laid down by its Federal Conference. Not one member of the Federal ALP can think or do anything contrary to what the Federal Conference of the ALP directs. The ALP has some very curious statements of policy in its platform. In the first place it recognises that, in an expanding economy, there may be inflation. It also asserts that full employment and economic growth cannot be maintained without some inflation. Today we have heard some criticism of and some comments contrary to the Australian Labor Party’s policy on general inflationary tendencies. Those spokesmen are denying that which the Federal Conference acknowledges and on that aspect acknowledges one must say, with justice. 1 will quote a section of the Australian Labor Party platform because 1 think it is very significant at present. It appears under the heading ‘Industrial’, lt states:
A working week to consist of not more than 5 consecutive days, with a maximum of 35 hours and with a progressive reduction to 30 hours.
Wage standards to be progressively increased as industrial productivity expands.
– Some farmers would like to have those hours, would they not?
– 1 appreciate what Senator Little said. The effect of a 35-hour working week, with the same wage rates being paid and with the prospect of wage rates being increased, would have the inevitable consequence of hitting hardest the person who is being squeezed by costs at the moment, and that is the man on the land. The effect of a 35-hour working week would be that, for the same cost, approximately one-eighth less work would be done. That is something which, in the parlous condition in which Australia’s primary industries are, no man on the land can cheerfully contemplate. Yet that is the policy of the Australian Labor Party, ft is the policy laid down in its platform, lt is the policy which is espoused by Mr Hawke, who is a very favoured representative of the Federal Executive of the Labor Party, having been given the job of attempting to clean up the Victorian Branch. When the Leader of the Australian Labor Party and Mr Hawke are linked, one can appreciate that there is some concerted action to give effect to Labor’s policy. I think it is up to the Labor Party to indicate quite clearly to the people of Australia whether it repudiates what is in its platform. If it believes in a 35-hour week it cannot be honest in its protestations that it can do something for the man on the land.
When one matches the Australian Labor Party’s platform with the pattern of its activities over the past week one has further evidence of what is clearly a policy of financial irresponsibility. Members of the Labor Party have said that there should be a general increase of expenditure in numerous fields. It appears almost as though whenever Mr Whitlam speaks, wherever it may be, he promises expenditure in a field of activity. But where is the money to come from to meet these promises of increased expenditure in rural centres and on urban redevelopment, higher pensions, better education and so on? The Australian Labor Party criticised the recent reductions in income tax. It did so because the reductions were not as it would have liked them to be. The Australian Labor Party has voted against every revenue gathering measure which the Government has introduced, lt has indicated that it wants a slackening in the taxation of the community. This is a policy of financial irresponsibility. Yet the Australian Labor Party has no policy concerning prices except increased wages and a shorter working week.
What did Senator Murphy say in support of his motion? As I said earlier, in regard to price increases he made a generalised statement that there was price rigging and monopolisation and that persistent price cutting was resorted to with a view to securing markets. He said that this represented some omission on the part of the Government. But he did not, as I said earlier, give one example. He referred in general terms to what the Trade Practices Commissioner had failed to do. Senator Murphy also indicated - I think an examination of the record will disclose that he was quite wrong - that monopolisation and persistent price cutting were evident everywhere. The Office of the Commissioner of Trade Practices was established with a view to promoting competition in Australia, lt is one of the tenets of the Liberal and Country Parties which make up the Government that where competition can be stimulated the consumer will receive the benefits of the price reductions which must flow from it.
I think it was Senator Cant who referred earlier to a section of the last annual report of the Commissioner of Trade Practices in which it is indicated that many of the restrictive agreements which exist at the moment stem from price control in wartime and the unwillingness of many people to depart from the practices which a price control environment created. If one looks at the annual report of the Commissioner of Trade Practices which was recently presented to the Parliament one will see that the record of achievements of the Office in the short time in which it has been in existence include activities in the fields of gypsum plaster and plasterboard, tyres and tubes, furniture, builders’ hardware, welding electrodes, rubber footwear, sporting ammunition, nails, paint, engineers’ cutting tools, greeting cards, metal control valves and ham and bacon. The Commissioner has been able to secure the removal of restrictive clauses in agreements made between the people supply or producing these commodities. He has been able to do this simply because a spotlight has been shone upon these areas of agreement. These results have been achieved as a result of consultation or the imminence of consultation.
The Commissioner of Trade Practices also indicated in his report that the existence of various supposed collusive practices is not as prevalent as Senator Murphy has suggested. He referred in his report to the collusive practice of inducing discriminatory terms of supply by threat or promise. Discriminatory terms of supply is one area in respect of which the Commissioner reported that his Office has had no complaints from suppliers about threats or promises of a powerful buyer. He also instanced in his report the collusive practice which is known as forcing another person’s goods, which means requiring, eis a condition of the supply of goods or services, that the business being supplied take goods or services of another class that it needs directly or indirectly from a particular third person. Apparently there were no complaints of this practice either. Indeed, in the area of monopolisation, the Commissioner reported that there had been 15 complaints, but that most of these complaints did not come within the concept of monopolisation. lt should be appreciated that it will be a considerable time before the impact of the Trade Practices Act is realised. The Commissioner has a requirement that persons who have agreements which may fall within the scope of the legislation should tender them for examination. He has in excess of 12,000 agreements to examine to see whether they contain restrictive clauses which are contrary to the public interest. It is inevitable that this will take time. It was, I think, 9 or 10 years before the restrictive trade practices legislation in Great Britain could be operated in such a way that the content and the effect of agreements upon the public interest were open to examination because the early part of that period was taken up with considering whether agreements were or were not properly required to be lodged.
I think I should stress in conclusion that the Australian Labor Party, after having initiated this debate, has shown singularly little interest in it. At present there are 3 members of the Party in the Senate. This has been the pattern for a greater part of the afternoon. I think this reflects the hollowness with which the Australian Labor Party put up this proposition initially.
– I rise to support the motion which was moved by Senator Murphy. Before doing so I would like to take up with Senator Greenwood the last barb of his criticism. I assure him that for the last hour I have been listening to 4 members of the recent Wallaby tour of South Africa explaining the shortcomings of apartheid. In doing so I was not being disrespectful to the Senate. 1 returned to this chamber fully armed with the viewpoints which had been propounded by Senator Murphy. At least I condescended to hear the latter remarks of Senator Greenwood. Therefore, I think I am fitted to follow him in this debate.
I wish to deal first of all with the main point which was made by Senator Greenwood about wages being the be all and end all of everything as far as costs are concerned. In this respect I can do no better than quote from a Treasury document entitled ‘The Australian Economy 1970’, and in particular the following pregnant paragraph which appears at page 12:
Wages are the largest element in costs, but by no means the only one. Profit margins, interest rates, taxes and charges all have a direct part in determining cost levels within the economy and, proportionately, can do as much to raise costs as wage movements.
Senator Little is trying to interject. I shall be dealing at a later stage with the aspect which I think is in Senator Little’s mind at the moment, but first I wish to deal with the point on which I disagree with Senator Greenwood. I challenge honourable senators opposite who follow me in this debate to take up this point. Senator Greenwood referred to the continual applications for wage increases. Let us have a look at the ritual which is followed when applications are made for wage increases. Firstly, the Australian Council of Trade Unions has to go . through the long process of proving how much industry can afford to pay. ft does so either in the national wage case or a subsidiary case. After this has been determined a wage is fixed. I put it to Senator Greenwood that if the people in the industry are to be expected to accept over a period of 3 years the wage scale which is determined it is only reasonable for them to assume that the commodity which they produce will remain at a static price because the industrial tribunal has determined that the industry can live off ils economic fat. However, the position is that no sooner is a wage increase granted than prices begin to spiral. I guarantee that if a wage increase is granted in May it will be found by the following November that most of the industries affected by the wage increases will have increased their prices, lt is a crazy situation. It takes months to prove that industry can absorb a certain wage increase and what happens? We find that prices skyrocket.
I wish to offer a few comments as to the fate of the trade union movement in regard to the present wage fixing system. 1 refer to the situation in industry in the 1950s. Perhaps my remarks are more pertinent to the State level, but they apply also to the Federal level. At the time of the abolition of cost of living adjustments in the basic wage it was said that quarterly adjustments were the bane of industry. So they were jettisoned. However, I do not think that it can be proved to me by way of figures that costs or prices remained static. An argument could be advanced that in some rare instances an overseas commodity is associated in the production. I am not saying that the trade union movement was conned at that point of time but it had to accept a jettisoning of the cost of living adjustments. However, this has not resulted in a stabilising of prices. Reference has been made to the dog chasing its tail and so on. The point I wish to make is that if the Government wishes to justify the present wage system it should ensure that industry does not increase its prices for at least 6 or 8 months after a wage increase has been granted. The main objection which the Opposition has at the moment is that the Government does not attempt to do this.
In sponsoring this motion Senator Murphy has not said that we must have price control or nothing. The point which the Opposition wishes to make is that there are numerous alternatives. As a matter of fact, Federal agencies in the United Slates of America and Canada have in recent times begun to play a much more effective role insofar as the quality of goods is concerned. Perhaps I can disgress again because 1 speaker on the Government side asked what instances we could cite. I will tell 2 stories relating to the liquor industry in New South Wales. During the war years when obviously there were genuine shortages there was 1 famous Christmas - I am sure this applied in other States as well as Sydney - when there was a beer shortage. The Minister for Trade and Customs of the day implemented an obscure section of legislation and had his officials examine every beer cellar in metropolitan Sydney, and the beer suddenly appeared.
If the present Minister for Customs and Excise (Mr Chipp) had sent his departmental inspectors into Cahills restaurants and into other places in Sydney they would have seen that, following the imposition of excise on wine, the price of a goblet of wine had been boosted by 5c. Multiply that by the number of goblets in a gallon and we will sec the snide middleman profiteering that went on. Those are the kinds of things that the Government did not investigate. I raised this matter in the Budget debate and in another debate the other night but nothing has happened. I draw a comparison between the war time Minister for Trade and Customs getting tough with liquor interests and the present Government’s inability to control the middlemen, the restaurants which are raking off greatly increased profits.
Let me take this a little further and refer to quality protection. Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin would be aware that a few days ago I raised the matter of sun glasses, an essential commodity in an Australian summer, and asked what controls were exercised federally over the quality of the product. The Minister admitted that after 2 years nothing had been done other than the Standards Association of Australia having a look at the matter. I am not suggesting that price control in a peace time economy is the be all and end all but I do say that some subsidy could be granted to certain basic commodities. However the big question is this: Are we getting a dollar’s value for every dollar we spend? Federal agencies could do a lot more than they are doing. I need mention only some of the tilings with which the people are confronted. AH transport fares have increased, air fares have increased twice and the cost of cars, lyres, petrol, diesel fuel and kerosine has increased as have interest rates. I assert that many of these elements in the community should be made to live off their economic fat. There is no question about that.
I shall give an illustration of what I mean. Recently I spoke with some prominent oil industry executives who told me what they were doing about environmental control. It was very good. One of them, a very nice gentleman, said that $Xm was being spent and I said: ‘That is good, but do not forget that Australia does not whack a big capital gains tax on you. We do not do what Latin American countries do. You are still better off than you ever were.’ That is the point. 1 would have no quarrel if the Government slugged all overseas interests, the big oil companies and so on, and got more money into the Treasury. They would not be frightened out of this country. 1 defy the Government to name any British or American investor in Latin America who has abdicated, whether their investments be in Bolivia, Chile or any of those countries which exist in an extremely militant political situation. I am not suggesting that the Government should go even that far but I am sure that it knows that the Christian Democrats in Latin America - 1 mention this for Senator Little’s benefit - have gone a lot further than parties which are left of the Labor Party have gone because a climate of fear was created.
I turn to another matter. Honourable senators on the Government side have raised the question of the 35-hour or the 374-hour working week. Let us be honest. Who is kidding whom? Senator Greenwood, who is trying to interject, is sitting on his bottom on a nice soft seat and so is every senator here. Yet he has the temerity to say that no-one in heavy industry should work fewer hours than does a person in an air conditioned office. Despite the films we have seen of a man with the sweat pouring out of him working with a jack hammer in northern Australia, or a welder on a hot job, the honourable senator has the effrontery to tell the Senate that there should not be a reduction in their working hours.
– Does the honourable senator believe in it?
– Does Senator Greenwood suggest that a welder in northern Australia or a diver going into the deep sea should not work fewer hours than does a person in a clerical calling? I link that with a person in a laboratory. The honourable senator has the effrontery to sit here as judge and jury and decide that a person doing arduous work should not have fewer working hours, at least for the next 5 years.
Senator Young referred to the people in rural areas. Containerisation has been in operation for some time yet the shipping companies are still squeezing the farmers with increased freight rates. They are the greatest exploiters but the Government does not do anything about them. Apart from uttering a few pious platitudes the Minister for Shipping and Transport, Mr Sinclair, has never endeavoured to combat them. They are the greatest blood suckers on the farmers today. The Government knows that but does not have the courage to do anything about it. I have here a news release from Mr Snedden, the Minister for Labour and National Service, in regard to raising productivity through improved materials handling. Let me refer to the port of Mackay. Some time ago 400 men were working on the waterfront there. Today there are 40. Where have the savings in wages gone? If Senator Lawrie were here he would say that the sugar farmers have not got it. Who has got it? The consumers did not get it. I put those questions to the Government which is surrounded by a lot of Treasury experts and which talks about credibility. The person who has only his labour to sell is not getting the benefit of increased productivity.
One will see from a reading of the enlightened speech made by the honourable member for Hindmarsh (Mr Clyde Cameron) in another place that the Department of Labour and National Service has never attempted to implement here the productivity methods which are in use in West Germany and the Scandina vian countries where there is a much higher degree of industrial harmony because the trade union movement has been convinced that there are no lurk men taking the profits. That is what Senator Murphy had in mind.
– I decided to enter this debate because I was so interested in the way in which Senator Murphy framed his motion relating to the discussion of a matter of urgency. He referred to:
The neglect and refusal of the Government to take effective action to protect the public from unjustified price increases caused by price rigging and other harmful practices.
The last 4 words of the motion interest me. Perhaps the wording of the motion is the normal sloppy drafting to which we have become accustomed in this place, but one would have thought that a person trained as Senator Murphy has been trained would have said ‘and other like harmful practices’. Since his motion includes the words ‘and other harmful practices’ I believe that we are entitled to examine all of the harmful practices which operate within this community. One of the most harmful practices which is causing the public to suffer from inflation is that over recent years it has become usual for the trade union movement to indulge in stoppages or strikes - call them what you may - in support of political campaigns. Senator Little raised this matter in his speech.
I refer to the 2 moratorium campaigns which took place this year - both admittedly fiascos so far as the trade union movement was concerned - in which the Labor Party was allied with all kinds of peculiar people whom Senator Mulvihill would describe as being on the left of the Labor Party. That is doubtful because I do not think one could get much further to the left than the Labor Party. Nevertheless, these people were allied in running the moratorium campaigns and in urging members of trade unions to take a day off to participate in them. No doubt that contributed somewhat to inflation. Then there is the other harmful practice of demarcation strikes. They are futile strikes. Do the trade union members strike against the big wicked employer, the blood sucker about whom Senator Mulvihill has been jumping up and down? Or are the strikes caused because unions are body snatching? What about that harmful practice? What does that contribute towards the inflationary trend in Australia? Of course, honourable senators opposite have not referred to the harmful practice of feather-bedding in unions. Anyone who knows much about the transport unions is familiar with the bus driver and conductor situation. Feather-bedding is rife.
– Would you like to drive a bus at peak times without a conductor to help?
– We have had all sorts of feather-bedding, ft is of no use for Senator Mulvihill to get excited. There is feather-bedding in the unions and honourable senators opposite know it. Honourable senators opposite have said that the Trade Practices Act has no teeth. I agree with them to this extent: The greatest tragedy of the Trade Practices Act is that the trade union movement was deliberately excluded from it by legislation. One would imagine that if the trade union movement is the beautiful lily white organisation that members of the Opposition would have us believe it is, it would be only too anxious to have the Commissioner of Trade Practices investigate whether the unions are engaged in restrictive trade practices. Such practices run right throughout the community.
Honourable senators opposite have refused to learn the lessons of history. They refer to the glories of price control. At the election held last June, I think, in Great Britain the Labour Government which had advocated a prices and income policy was destroyed by the trade union movement because it refused to accept that policy, in spite of the pleadings of Mr Harold Wilson. I give him full credit because he was sufficient of a patriot and interested enough in the welfare of his own country to try to do the right thing by the economy. He looked for support to the trade union movement but it said, if I may say so: ‘To blazes with the nation and to blazes with the economy. We just want to fulfil our own selfish interests and we are not prepared in the Government’s interest to go along with its prices and income policy.’ That is how the trade union movement reacted.
I have read Press reports of the recent British Labour Party conference held, I think, at Blackpool in England. They said that pleas were made by responsible members of the former Labour Government - Mr Callaghan in particular - to the trade union movement, or to the British Labour Party which is controlled by the trade union movement. It was said that the workers of that country would never get a fair share of its productivity unless the trade union movement was prepared to impose restraints on its members in respect of wildcat strikes and such actions.
How did members of the trade union movement react to that proposal? They thumbed it down. Again they were prepared to pursue their own selfish interest, no matter how it affected the community. It is somewhat hypocritical of members of the Opposition to propound the nonsense we have heard here this afternoon. My colleague Senator Sim commented on the act put on by Senator Murphy. I suppose it was a fairly good act. He had to do something to straighten out his members after last night’s near debacle when we were discussing the sitting hours of the Senate. I suppose it was a fairly good performance. Senator Greenwood provoked some comment when he referred to the fact that whilst he was speaking members of the Opposition were so interested in the subject that only two or three of them were in the chamber. The position is better now - there are 4 of them here. I have been in the chamber almost continuously since 1 minute past 3. The highest number of honourable senators opposite I have counted during this debate has been 6.
– How many of your members are here?
– But we did not initiate the debate. We did not all stand up with a big/ rush when the President asked whether Senator Murphy’s motion was supported. Honourable senators opposite jumped up to support it in a way that would lead one to think that they would sit here continuously during the debate, listening to the words of wisdom and rushing to speak as much as possible. But the fact is they are so disinterested in the debate that they have not even been in here to listen to it. Strangely enough, more honourable senators opposite are listening to me speak now than were prepared to listen to their colleagues. 1 am grateful that that is so. I think it is hypocrisy for members of the Labor Party to attempt to take the Government to task this afternoon through this so-called urgency motion. One could think that if we were to protect the public from unjustified ‘increases’ we would be told what they are. Instead we heard a series of broad sweeping generalisations. I suppose it is rather unfair to ask honourable senators opposite to produce facts because they do not operate on facts.
– What about Cahill’s Restaurants?
– That is a beauty. That is the sort of rude interjection that comes from honourable senators opposite. Who is Carl? Carl who? 1 do not know who Carl is. Did Senator Mulvihill give us facts and figures about that restaurant? Did he produce a menu showing the prices and the food offered, or a break-down of the costing of Mr Cahill? No. It is so easy to ask: ‘What about Cahill’s Restaurant?’
– We give you a case but you will not move on it.
– But it is an empty case. There is nothing in it. I want a case with some facts in it. It is of no use to walk around with a case full of nothing. That is fairly typical of the advice we get thrown at us from the other side of the chamber. I fail to see how anybody with any sense of realism could support the motion of urgency moved this afternoon by the Leader of the Opposition.
– It is quite true, as the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Murphy) said, that the greatest single problem facing this country at present is the seeming inability of the Government, for the many reasons which are involved, to control costs and prices of goods and services. I am amazed - really intrigued - by the fact that honourable senators opposite who have spoken in this debate have singularly failed to deal with the question before the Senate at present. They just did not debate the question of rising prices in Australia. That is the question which faces us at the moment. They have run away from the principal question involved. In fact, they have tended to make a joke of it. I say to them now, before I deal with the more serious aspects of this matter, that I agree completely that the most important single issue for the great majority of the people of Australia is rising prices.
All that honourable senators opposite have done, in my judgment, is to attempt to justify the present trend in the economy. The trend has been apparent for 20 years, but honourable senators opposite offered no solutions and no hope of solutions to the problems which flow from that situation. The impact of the Government’s neglect to face up to its responsibility in this regard is felt in a great many places throughout Australia. The impact has varied on different sections of the community. I will attempt in the course of my remarks to deal with them.
The Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) attempted in this debate to debunk the arguments put forward by Senator Murphy in raising this matter. I was intrigued to hear him say in leading for the Government that we must strive for increased productivity. That was his answer to the problem. 1 pose to him these very simple questions: How do you achieve this result? What are its effects? I have very distinct recollections of learning in this chamber of the effect of increased productivity in the dairying industry, and I have seen evidence of it throughout Australia. The Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Anthony) - the Deputy Prime Minister elect, if I may put it that way; I suggest he will be the Deputy Prime Minister if Australia is unfortunate enough to have another LiberalCountry Party Government after the next election - has been telling the dairying industry that it has to cut back production. But what has been going on in the States all these years? The States have been conducting agricultural extenson services involving the expenditure of considerable sums of money. We have reached a stage of productivity where we are now faced with a crisis in certain sections of the dairying industry. So much for productivity.
I do not want to hear from the Leader of the Government these platitudes and vague generalisations which we have come to expect from the Government. I want some positive indication about the consequences of increased productivity. These consequences are evident not only in primary industry but in the industrial world as well. All the information which has come to me in the past few years seems to indicate that the man-hour production of the labour force in Australia is rising. I know that this is a consequence of the marriage of labour and the technological and scientific developments that have taken place in industry. New machinery has been brought into operation and as a consequence there has been greater output.
Let us look at this in terms of the most important thing that happens in the country - the multiplication of the productivity of the hands, minds and bodies of the work force of Australia. The statistics indicate that the man-hour production has gone up. This is another area of increased productivity, but where has the benefit been conferred on the community? Has this stopped an increase in the cost of goods and services? Has this in any way limited the impoverishment of the pensioner group, the people on fixed incomes, and the superannuitants who are attempting to live on money that came te them, as a consequence of their life’s labour, from the funds that were built up? The income of these people is now being eroded at a rapid and alarming rate because of the neglect of the Government to exercise its proper function and jurisdiction in the control of the national economy. These people are in a very difficult state. What is the position of the war pensioners and service pensioners who are suffering from the disabilities they received as a consequence of their service for their country? The incomes and living standards of all these people are being eroded day by day. Has the Government no consideration for them? Great consequences flow from neglect or disinclination on the part of the elected government to apply the necessary restraints and limitations upon the insidious forces which run in the nation’s economy.
There are many areas of the community which feel the effect of the disinclination of the Government to exercise its proper jurisdiction. I have spoken many times in the 5 years that I have been here about this Government’s implicit belief in controlling the wages and conditions of the Australian work force. About 80 per cent nf the people of Australia, as wage and salary earners, obtain their livelihood as a consequence of their labour in one form or another, and their incomes are subject to control. We know - I think the Australian community knows - that when d case goes before the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission the Commission makes a determination on the justification for a claim for a better return to the work force of the productivity of the nation. The Commission delivers a judgment as to the wage levels to be paid for the ensuing period. Judgments have stated this. The Commission has used almost those precise words.
– Wages cannot fall below those set.
– That is so. J have read in a judgment on at least one occasion - the situation has not changed since - the statement that wages are in pursuit of costs and prices, that they do not set them. If you accept that proposition, then how on earth can you claim that wages are bedevilling the national economy? ft is completely fatuous to argue in that way. The fact is that it is the cost of goods and services which the court takes into account in its judgment when determining what is a fair, just and reasonable return to the work force of Australia for its labour.
There has been a steady erosion of the standards of a very large section of the Australian populace. I refer again to the impoverished pensioners and the sad situation which arose just recently when the Government announced in its Budget the only concession it could make to these unfortunate people at the latter stages of their lives, beyond the days of their active working life. This Government adopted the cynical attitude of giving them an increase of 50c. I suggest that that would hardly compensate them for the increased sales tax announced in the same Budget. The Government took no account whatsoever of the erosion of their standards since the previous increase was given to them. There has been a decline in the income of pensioners, in their standard of living and in their status. There is a consequent decline in their health and this ought to be a matter of very great concern to any man or woman with a sense of responsibility.
What has happened in the rural industries? Goodness gracious mc! Do you, Mr
President, remember the great promise made in 1949 by the then Prime Minister to put value back into the £1? We have waited patiently for 20 years to see some evidence of this. All we have seen has been a gradual increase in the cost of goods and services. Perhaps this may not be so terribly bad in a country which has a big enough population to use up most of its production. But we rely to such an extent on the availability of overseas markets that it is a matter of some concern to us to keep down the cost of producing goods that we sell overseas. We must keep the price down to a level which will enable us to compete on overseas markets.
What is the situation in this regard? In the first instance we are faced with increased shipping rates. What did the Government do for Tasmania in an attempt to stop this situation arising? I have been waiting fairly patiently for 2 months for an answer to a question I asked about a provision in the Act which controls the National Shipping Line.I asked whether section 1.8 (1.) of the Australian Coastal Shipping Commission Act was in conflict with section 92 of the Constitution. The situation in Tasmania is very serious indeed.I notice. Mr President, that I have only a short time left in which to speak. I wanted to refer to the problem of our having absolutely no control over the cost of shipping freights. An instance arose in this respect a day or so ago. There are so many instances of neglect on the part of this Government to carry out its normal function that I suggest the time has come to test the Senate. Accordingly. I move:
Question put. The Senate divided. (The President - Senator Sir Alister McMullin)
Majority . . 2
Question so resolved in the negative.
– Unfortunately, a lot of the time available to me has been taken up by the Opposition trying to apply the gag. Members of the Opposition should be censured on 2 counts of hypocrisy. Firstly, they have screamed and said: ‘We do not believe in the gag’, and then they have tried to apply the gag this afternoon in a debate initiated by them on a matter that they considered was one of urgency. Secondly, they have takenthe time of the Senate today to debate something that was debated in the House of Representatives yesterday. It was debated there yesterday because that House was on the air then; it has been debated in this chamber today because this chamber is now on the air even though the Senate has a lot of work ahead of it at the end of a session. Members of the Opposition have tried to get some political capital out of it. Then, right at the death knock, whenI was about to stand up and take part in this debate, they tried to apply the gag. But, thanks to the application of the principles of democracy by Government senators and members of the Democratic Labor Party, the debate has been kept alive.
I have mentioned 2 areas of hypocrisy. How many more areas are there? We have heard members of the Australian Labor Party expressing great concern about the price squeeze, etc. Let me ask: What is the Labor Party doing about it? For a start, we know that one of the biggest factors in the whole of the cost structure is the wage structure and, combined with that, the weekly working hours structure and strikes. Do members of the Opposition support Mr Hawke in his contentions as President of the Australian Council of Trade Unions. with his militant approach to increases in wages, going beyond the realms of the arbitration system and even using the method of striking if necessary? We know what strikes cost the country.
Do members of the Opposition support Mr Hawke when he is pressing for a 35-hour working week? He has already made the statement that after the Senate election he will start a campaign, supported if necessary by militant methods, to have a 35-hour working week introduced in Australia. Is it not amazing how members of the Opposition squeal when they are touched on a tender spot? We know from figures that have been given by the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr Mc Ewen) that if a 35-hour working week were introduced in this country it would cost between $2,000m and S2,700m. Who will pay that? Firstly, the consumer will have to pay a lot.
Then let us move away from the local scene to the potential of our country. As we develop more on a secondary basis we will have to move into the export field. We see members of the Opposition crying crocodile tears about the plight of primary industry. What would a 35-hour working week mean to primary industry? What would it mean to the cost structure and our ability as an exporting nation - something that we are trying to develop? 1 ask members of the Opposition again whether they support the concept of introducing a 35-hour working week in Australia at the present stage.
There has been much criticism of the Government on the basis of what it allegedly has not done, it is alleged that the cost structure is getting away from us. Australia today has one of the lowest rates of inflation in the world. Our rate of inflation is equal to that of West Germany, as one of the lowest in the world. Members of the Opposition have been talking about real incomes and the ability to purchase of the average working man in this country. Over the last 4 years we have seen average weekly earnings increase by about 7 per cent a year. At the same time prices have increased by only 3 per cent annually. This means in real terms that on an annual basis there has been an increase of 4 per cent in the standard of living. This is equal to the best that has been achieved by any country.
There were many things that I would have liked to mention during this debate, but because of the gag moved by the Opposition 1 have been unable to do so. Members of the Australian Labor Party appear to love compulsion, but 1 can assure them that the average Australian likes his freedom and intends to have his freedom. Although honourable senators opposite scream about trying to help primary industry, a South Australian newspaper which came out today reported that a trade union has declared as black a farm on Kangaroo Island because the farmer will not employ union shearers.
– Order! The time allowed for this debate has expired. The business of the day will be proceeded with.
Sitting suspended from 6.1 to 8 p.m.
For the information of honourable senators, I table the text of the following documents:
The Agreement establishing the Economic Co-operation Centre for the Asian and Pacific Region.
The Joint Communique issued by the Fifth Ministerial Meeting of the Asian and Pacific Council.
– I present the following report of the Tariff Board:
Nitrogenous Fertilisers, an interim report under the review inquiry on Industrial Chemicals, and Nitrogenous Fertilisers (Dumping and Subsidies) Act.
– Pursuant to section 36 of the Canned Fruit:
Export Marketing Act 1963-1968, 1 present the forty-fourth annual report of the Australian Canned Fruits Board for the year ended 31st December 1969, together with financial statements and the report of the Auditor-General on those statements.
– Pursuant to section 29 of the Wine Overseas Marketing Act 1929-1966 I present the forty-second annual report of the Australian Wine Board for the year ended 30th June 1970.
– Pursuant to section 84 of the Wool Industry Act 1962-1967 I present the annual report of the Australian Wool Board for the year ended 30th June 1970, together with financial statements and the Auditor-General’s report on those statements. An interim report of the Board was presented to the Senate on 1st September 1970.
– Pursuant to clause 8 of the Sugar Agreement 1969, I present the report on the operation of the Fruit Industry Sugar Concession Committee for the period ended 30th June 1970, together with the Committee’s financial statements and the Auditor-General’s report on those statements.
Senator Sir MAGNUS CORMACK (Victoria) (8.5) - I present the report, together with the minutes of the proceedings, of Estimates Committee A. I also table the Hansard record of the proceedings of the Committee. I move:
That the report be printed. 1 take the opportunity to record my thanks and the thanks of the Committee to the Principal Parliamentary Reporter, Mr Bridgman, and his staff for their tremendous effort in making available a daily Hansard report of the proceedings of the Committee. This is the first occasion on which a record of the proceedings of a Senate committee has been published in this form. Also on behalf of the Committee 1 wish to thank the Commonwealth Government Printer, Mr W. G. Murray, for his efforts and co-operation in the printing and distribution of the Hansard record. I am sure that all members of Estimates Committee A have a sense of history in being associated with this Committee and its establishment by this Parliament. I look forward, with them, to its continued operation in the years to come.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I present the report of Estimates Committee B, together with the minutes of the proceedings. I move:
I would like to support the remarks of Senator Sir Magnus Cormack and to place on record appreciation of the work done by Mr Bridgman and the officers of the Parliamentary Reporting Staff, and Mr Murray and the staff of the Government Printing Office, in producing the daily Hansard often under considerable difficulties. Their efforts contributed in no small way to the success of these Estimates Committees. I would like to record my personal appreciation of this new procedure for the consideration of proposed expenditure. The information which was made available to the Committee by the Minister for Housing (Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin) and her advisers was of great assistance to my own understanding of the functioning of the departments with which our Committee was concerned. In our opinion a thorough examination of the Estimates was held.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I present the report from Estimates Committee C. together with the minutes of the proceedings. I also table the Hansard report of the evidence taken. I move:
– I may be transgressing the Standing Orders, but I will be guided by you, Mr Deputy President. I endorse all of the remarks of the chairmen of these three Estimates Committees. I am wondering whether this is an opportune time to make constructive suggestions in relation to this committee system. I support the remarks of Senator Davidson, who is the Chairman of the Committee of which I am a member. I do not know whether I will have an opportunity at a later stage to make some constructive suggestions in relation to the procedure. I seek your guidance, Mr Deputy President.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Bull) - The honourable senator will have an opportunity to speak later.
– 1 wish to join with my honourable colleagues, Senator Sir Magnus Cormack and Senator Davidson, in expressing appreciation of the efforts made by the Parliamentary Reporting Staff and the staff of the Government Printing Office to produce a daily Hansard report of the proceedings of the Committee. This has been a very fine effort, especially as new procedures involving the installation of direct- tape recording lines from Committee rooms to the Printing Office had to be organised. I also make particular reference to the effective response which Estimates Committee C received to questions asked of the Minister for Works (Senator Wright) and the officers of the relative departments who appeared before it.
– In the light of your earlier ruling, Mr Deputy President, I would like to make a few general observations. I assume I am not transgressing the Standing Orders. I, like my colleagues, approached the innovation of Estimates Committees with an open mind. I think I am speaking for Senator McClelland and Senator Fitzgerald when I say that the officers of the various departments - there was probably one exception, but 1 will not go into that because it did not concern my Committee - answered our questions very freely. Speaking purely as an individual senator I have not been backward, nor has Senator McClelland, in transmitting to interested parties much of the material supplied. I think the Parliament enjoys a higher status as a consequence. If organisations outside get specific answers to their questions it is to the advantage of the Parliament. In deference to you, Mr Deputy President, we all know that there are certain ground rules that can be transgressed. In these Estimates Committees we were able to bowl up some fairly curly questions and, in the main, we received fair answers. That is the positive side. 1 endorse Senator Davidson’s remarks about the co-operation of the officers. I would also like to thank one or two of the chairmen of other Estimates Committees who were very co-operative in allowing senators who were not members of their Committee but who had a specific interest to take part in the proceedings. There was a certain amount of liaison and these people were able to ask questions. But I still think that with all the co-operation in the world - 1 know Senator McClelland would endorse this to the hilt - it was not possible to go around like a kelpie dog rounding up the flock hither and thither. I do not say that in a disrespectful way. If only two committees met at the one time, with a little cooperation it would be possible for senators to make some contribution in relation to a topic in which they were interested. But when three committees were meeting at once it was not quite so easy. I believe this system is a step forward. However, there were certain facets that I believe we were not able to deal with adequately. Speaking for myself I would be the last to indulge in repetition when an avenue of inquiry had been available in the committees. I say that as a member of a committee. An honourable senator who is not a member of a committee has every right - in fact he has a bounden duty - to raise a matter on which he wants an answer. I believe that we might have a hard look at this situation. Perhaps we may have a new system of rostering which would not make it as difficult as it has been for senators to attend the committees. Honourable senators might be able to meet 2 assignments. It is not humanly possible to attend 3 committees over a spread of 2 or 3 hours. That is the message I leave with the Senate.
– In substance, I agree with the sentiments expressed by Senator Mulvihill. I think the committee system as an experiment in dealing with the Estimates has given satisfaction to those honourable senators who participated in it. The committee system has enabled a probing, a seeking and an obtaining of information which the old system did not give. Yet J appreciate there is a problem when 3 committees sit at the same time. Honourable senators who feel they have a primary obligation to the committee of which they are a member are not able to move around to the other committees. I hope that the committees will continue next year. Possibly next year we can limit the number of sittings at any one time to 2 committees and rotate the committees which are sitting at any one time.
The committee system as it has operated requires the co-operation of the whole Senate, lt represents an opportunity for honourable senators to obtain information which they otherwise would not obtain. Some comments have been made in this direction over the past few weeks. 1 think it ought to be noted that some honourable senators opposite have stubbornly refused to accept the committee system. I think that fact ought to be acknowledged. If the system is to operate the co-operation of the whole Senate is required. It should not be an occasion on which a few honourable senators opposite say they are not going to co-operate and that at some later stage they will seek to go through the whole process in the Committee of the Whole.
– I think those remarks were provoking. I regret that they were ever made. I opposed the committee system for the Estimates from the time the proposal came from the Standing Orders Committee. But at all times I was prepared to assist in making them function effectively if possible. Honourable senators know of the occasion of the first afternoon of the sitting of the committees when I had the indignity of being classed as a second grade senator and I and others were locked out of a particular committee. The Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) in all sincerity apologised for the oversight. Apparently the stupidity of someone in the committee was such that he did not carry out the directions he had received the previous day.
But at no time was there an apology from the chairman of that committee - whoever he may have been - for the mishandling of that committee. Nor was there any suggestion that anything I wanted to discuss that afternoon would be re-committed for the purpose of consideration. I felt aggrieved. I expressed my intention that I would not go to the committees. I was reinforced in my intention by a statement from the Leader of the Government that an opportunity would be afforded me to discuss matters when the Estimates came before the Committee of the Whole. I shall seek to exercise that opportunity when that happens. On no occasion have 1 criticised the committees. I simply felt that I could not attend them. I wish them well. It is an impossibility to read all the Hansard reports of the Estimates Committees as every time they sit 3 Hansard reports of their proceedings are published on the one day. I have read some of those reports and I think a good job has been done by members of the committees who have questioned officers of the departments. I offer no criticism. I only insist on preserving my rights as a senator and equal rights with Senator Greenwood. That is all T ask.
– I think the committee system which operated in connection with the Estimates has proved a real success. It gave those of us who sat on those committees an opportunity to question in a way we have not been able to do before. In this chamber we have only 5 Ministers. They do a terrific job in coping with all the other portfolios as well as their own. I am sure in the past it has been a difficult matter for them to obtain answers to questions from the officers at the side of the chamber. But in the committees the officers have sat with them. Honourable senators have been able to direct questions to the Minister and directly to the officers through the Minister.
I think we obtained much more information than would be humanly possible under the old system. That was of real benefit and it gave honourable senators a much closer understanding of the workings of the departments, their aims and what they were trying to do with the various items of expenditure. It gave us an opportunity to question in detail the expenditure and the workings of the departments. I feel the system has been a success. I hope that success will generate further action in this Senate which may lead to legislative aspects of the committee system. This is a new departure for the Senate. It is a fresh break in the history of the Commonwealth Parliament. I hope it will continue because
I believe that properly handled it will help to make this Parliament much better than it has been in the past. Success depends upon honourable senators themselves and the opportunity given to them. 1 think if that opportunity is availed of by honourable senators we will reach the aim which each and every one of us clearly hope will be achieved from the workings of these committees.
– I would not have entered this debate except for the provocative altitude of Senator Greenwood in regard to this matter. The renegade senators whom Senator Greenwood referred to have made their position quite clear in relation to the Estimates Committees. I support the committee systems as they operate, particularly the select committees and the standing committees. Over the years I think the Senate will enhance its role in federal government on this basis. But 1 do not believe that this Parliament as yet has the facilities to conduct 4 Estimates Committees at the one time.
– The honourable senator did not bother to come and see for himself.
– The first time 1 went to see a committee operating the chairman of the committee instructed that we be not admitted. The Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) apologised in this House for that action. 1 think it is inept at this stage for Senator Young to raise this matter. If the committee system is to work it has to work in relation to the decision which has been made in this Senate. There has to be completely free access by all persons who desire to go to those committee meetings including the public. It is quite obvious that visitors to Parliament House have no opportunity under the circumstances and system which operates now to observe how these Committees work. The committee rooms, small as they are - some of them arc no larger than a normal office - have to accommodate quite a number of public servants, honourable senators, people from the Press if they desire to attend and Hansard. It is obvious that members of the public will not have the opportunity to attend the hearings of the Committees as is outlined in the decision of this House. I had 21 school lads come to see the sitting of the Senate on an afternoon when the Committees were in session, lt was suggested that some 5 lads go to each committee room but it was obvious that this C0t id not be done because there was no room even for 5 students to attend. This would have been a breakthrough for this school because it would have been the first school in Australia to observe the committee system operating.
– Were they from Geelong?
– They were from Geelong Grammar. They could not attend the meetings of the Committees because there were no facilities to enable them to observe the system in operation. I think it is important that people who are interested in the operations of parliament have the right to enter a committee room, in the same way that they can enter the galleries of this chamber, to watch the operations of those committees. This is not possible under the present system. I hope that next year, if a decision is again made to set up a system of Estimates Committees, fewer will meet at the one time. On this occasion I agree with Senator Greenwood. No more than 2 should meet at the one time. I hope that facilities are available so that when the 2 committees are sitting people off the street can enter and in comfort observe the operations of those committees.
It is quite obvious now, at this late stage of the sittings of the Senate, that the opportunities which were promised us by the Leader of the Government in the Senate will not be available to us. We were told that we would have ample opportunity to discuss the Estimates, in the Committee of the Whole. If we were given that opportunity the Senate would sit for at least another fortnight. The Estimates debates in the Committee of the Whole have taken from a fortnight to 3 weeks in the past. I repeat that it is a physical impossibility for any honourable senator to be in even 2 places at the one time. If an honourable senator accepts the responsibility of being on one committee, I believe it is his responsibility to attend the meetings of that committee. This denies him the right to attend the meetings of at least 2 other committees and, on occasions, 3 other committees that are sitting simultaneously.
I wish the committee system well. I was aggrieved because I was denied the right of entry into a committee, but I did not take my bat home and sulk. 1 made a deliberate decision that ] would not be a member of any committee because I wanted the freedom to move from committee to committee. If I had accepted the responsibility of being a member of a committee, I would have attended religiously its meetings andwould not have moved from committee to committee. I believe the obligation is on any senator who accepts the responsibility of being on any committee of the Senate, irrespective of whether it is an Estimates Committee, a standing committee or a select committee, to attend the meetings of that committee on every occasion that it is possible for him so to do. I believe that this is the only way in which the committee system will work. We do not want a system of committee meetings in which 3 is a quorum and only 3 attend because the whole system will fail if that is the case. I think the present method has to be streamlined to the extent that, as far as is practicable, every honourable senator is able to attend and to participate in the hearings of the Estimates Committees. I hope that the Government will consider providing better facilities for next year, if these committees operate, and will make absolutely certain that all persons who would like to see how Parliament operates can participate.
(8.23) - I intercede very briefly to make a couple of observations. The first observation deals with a statement that I made earlier this year. I repeat it because Senator Cavanagh adverted to an unfortunate incident that happened on the first occasion that the Estimates Committees sat. In one committee there was some misunderstanding. As the Leader of the Government in the Senate and because I had some responsibility, although it was not the committee with which I was involved, I expressed regrets to Senator Cavanagh for what happened. I would have thought that that was where the matter should have ended. As I said before and as I say again, anybody who attempts to do something different or any organisation that embarks on a new concept or plan inevitably has problems at the outset. It would be a strange world if we had perfection from the start. The
Chairmen of the Committees have said that the Committees worked well. 1 believe that everybody worked well. It is regrettable that some senators did not attend meetings of the Committees. I think that, if they had, they would have been able to make a very real contribution to our studies. It would have been of value not only to them but collectively to all of us. Perhaps next time we deal with Estimates Committees at this level they will attend.
The final matter to which 1 wish to refer - and I think it is significant - is that normally when we deal with the Estimates as a Committee of the Whole we take between 42 and 46 hours. Already, before the Estimates are dealt with by the Committee of the Whole., the Estimates Committees have sat for 74i hours. In that time a tremendous amount of probing has been done and a tremendous amount of valuable information has been gleaned. As a result I think all of us will be better for it and able to do a better job. If the 74$ hours that has been taken on the Estimates is added to the time that will be spent by the Committee of the Whole, that will give a fair idea of the amount of work that senators are doing, as is our responsibility, in an examination of the Estimates. I think we can be very proud of the work that has been done so far by the Estimates Committees.
– It is common ground that the commencement period of the Estimates Committees is one of experimentation. It was anticipated that there would be difficulties accompanying the embarkation on the project of Estimates Committees. Honourable senators will recall the circumstances in which this proposal was put and in which it was adopted. There were 3 proposals for the establishment of committees. The official Opposition presented a proposal for the creation of 7 standing committees, to which the Democratic Labor Party moved an amendment that 2 should be established immediately and that after a period of experimentation a report should be made as to the staffing necessary, the administrative structure, the mode of operations and the demands on the time of senators. At that stage the Government presented the proposal for the creation of the Estimates Committees. That was adopted by the Senate, the other 2 proposals having been rejected. The comments and the criticisms which have been offered about the functioning of the Estimates Committees rather highlight the wisdom of the gradual approach which was projected by the Democratic Labor Party in relation to the standing committees. In other words, it was obvious that it would be difficult to determine what structure would be necessary and how senators would be able to accommodate their time to the demands of committees. That fact has been amply exemplified and demonstrated by the criticisms which are now offered of the Estimates Committees. However, I think that in time these difficulties will be ironed out and that these committees will be able to function efficiently and effectively.
One point I make in this very short presentation is this: I think one of the difficulties - and it is probably the common source of all the criticism - was that the time into which the sittings of the Committees was telescoped was probably too short a period. 1 refer to the period over which they sat, not the aggregate time that they sat. I understand that that was due to the fact that in the Senate it is the practice that the Estimates are not considered until the motion dealing with the Budget Papers is disposed of. That, as we know, is a very long and protracted debate. The Estimates are not considered until that matter is resolved by the Senate. If that is the case, there may well be a good reason to bring forward the consideration of the Estimates more quickly, even if it coincides in part with the discussion in that debate, so that the period for the consideration of the Estimates can be over a longer time. The difficulties mentioned by Senators Poyser and Cavanagh could be eliminated. Over a longer period of time honourable senators would be able to attend the sittings of the various committees, whereas at the moment, due to the restricted and narrow limitations of time, many senators are denied that opportunity. We could undertake this type of experiment. Consideration could be given to this aspect by the Standing Orders Committee. Generally I think we should be very happy about the way in which the Estimates Committees have functioned so far. I hope - I think it is common ground - that they will continue to function in the future.
– I wish to contribute a few words to the debate on the Estimates Committees. I feel that if we bad been asked to express our views on the Estimates Committees early in the debate honourable senators on this side of the chamber would have been charitable enough to say: ‘Let us give them another try next year and see what happens’. But Senator Greenwood, the ambitious man on the Government benches who hopes to be the President of the Senate, who hopes to be the Leader of the Government in the Senate and who hopes to hold every portfolio in the Senate, has seen fit to provoke the Opposition.
– We will give you another bucket to cry in. You have already filled one.
- Senator Young will never become Minister for Primary Industry because the Chinese wheat market has been lost. I believe that Senator Greenwood directed his remarks at members of the Opposition in order to provoke an argument. If that is the way Senator Greenwood and one or two of his colleagues on the Government benches feel about the matter 1 will give them an argument.
I approve of the principle of the Senate setting up all types of committees. Of course, the Senate should have been abolished many years ago. However, while it exists it must be made to work. Some of the Senate select committees which have been set up have operated very effectively indeed. Even if the reports which they have brought down are filed away in pigeon holes which have not been dusted for several years, the tremendous amount of work which has been done in the preparation of these reports is useful. These reports are available for political research scholars and diligent members of the Parliament to study. They are also available for use in the future in an argument on things which ought to be done in certain spheres. We do not know yet how the standing committees which have been established are going to work. I hope that they are a success.
I believe that the Estimates Committees were set up as a sort of political smokescreen. They were thrown into the ring to draw attention in some way from the Australian Labor Party’s attitude to committees. The Government has been able to establish these Estimates Committees by making deals under the counter. They were conceived in a hurry. Unfortunately, some of them were stillborn. This is where the problem lies. If more time had been available and more planning and organisation had gone into the matter none of these growing pains would have been apparent.
I wish to make reference to a couple of points which I think are pertinent to the argument. I nominated for and was elected to 2 of the Estimates Committees. On the first occasion on which the Estimates Committees sat I was directed to the wrong room. After having found this room I was physically manhandled into a seat as I was not a member of the Estimates Committee meeting in it
– Who would know you?
– Senator Greenwood would have objected if the same thing had happened to him. The position is that the people who were trying to organise these committees were frustrated. They were overworked. They themselves did not know what was going on. I left the room when I found out that it was not an Estimate Committee of which I was a member. I then attempted to get into another committee room. It was the right committee, but I was excluded from it. Tt was no fault of the people who were trying to organise the committee; it was the fault of the people who had planned the Estimates Committee system. I believe that these incidents ought to be exposed. A few days later - at the time of the next Estimates Committee meetings - I wanted to sit in on a committee meeting and listen although 1 was no longer a member of an Estimates Committee.
– You resigned.
– Of course I resigned. I think it is the best thing I have ever done. It highlighted some of the weaknesses of the system under which the committees were trying to operate.
– You gave up easily.
– No, I never give up easily. I am not finished yet. On the next occasion when I tried to sit in on a committee meeting 1 was told that no seats were available but that if I liked to come back in half an hour I might be able to get in. What sort of organisation was this? What sort of chairman was in charge of that committee? What sort of government set up the Estimates Committees in the first place?
One thing with which I was most impressed was the large public notices at the front of Parliament House indicating the time and place of the sittings of these Estimates Committees. This was the only concession which the Government ever made. However, I regret to say that an instruction was never given to have these notices printed and displayed. No instruction was given because the Government did not want members of the public to come in and see what was happening. On another occasion I happened to be over on the other side of Parliament House and 1 found a fairly senior public servant, whose name I will not mention - no names, no pack-drill - near one of the members’ toilets looking for room L so and so. He was a senior adviser. This is where the Government fell down in its organisation. These people ought to have been told by those who were in control of the committee sittings, where the committees were sitting and how to find them. Who would be able to find room in the dungeons of this House?
– 1 thought you said that the rooms were all full and there were no seats available. Somebody must have found them.
– The poor unfortunate public servants, the Hansard reporters and the officials who were handling the committees were present. There was no room for anybody else. There was no room for members of the public. Senator Poyser said a moment ago that he could not get high school students from his own State into a committee room to look at a committee in operation. Things of this sort ought to be corrected. If there had been proper organisation half of these problems would never have occurred. And what about the public servants? They have to work under difficult circumstances at any time, but in this instance they had to work under particularly difficult circumstances. They were not seated at a proper desk where they could pull out their papers and examine them. The rooms were overcrowded. Consequently, they too, were not given a fair go. If some honourable senator was not given a proper answer it is probably because the poor unfortunate public servant answering his question could not find the necessary document due to the difficult circumstances under which he had to operate.
I hope that the committee system works. I hope that if the Estimates Committees are reconstituted next year proper consideration will be given not only to their organisation but also to the manner in which they sit. I do not speak on a very wide range of subjects in this chamber, but I do specialise in 4 or 5 subjects. I think the same situation applies to honourable senators equally on both sides of the chamber. There are very few honourable senators who claim to be a Jack of all trades.
– Senator Greenwood does.
– Excluding Senator Greenwood. I thought it was significant that on one occasion 3 Estimates Committees were discussing 3 of the subjects in which I am interested. This is entirely unfair. I know what will happen when the reports of the Estimates Committees are put down in this chamber. I know what will happen to the various heads under which the Estimates are considered. There will not be sufficient time to debate the major points which ought to be debated. It would not happen under ordinary circumstances, apart from the fact that a Senate election is almost on our doorstep, because the Whip of the Australian Democratic Labor Party said the other night: Oh, you are not going to bring them all back in here, are you?’ It is obvious that the Government has reached agreement on this matter with the group in the corner of the chamber which provides it with a majority in the Senate, not to debate these things. I will be absolutely amazed if we are still here on Friday of next week, as we ought to be, talking about the affairs of this country.
– We will all be amazed if we are still here on Friday of next week.
– A few people will be worried, too. However, not one of them is sitting on the Opposition benches at the moment. The Opposition believes that it is here to do a job and it is prepared to stay here until Friday of next week if necessary to do this job or, if it is absolutely essential, until the day before the Senate election.
– I shall be quite brief. I would ask the Senate to examine some of the recommendations which have been included in the reports of the Estimates Committees. For instance, the Estimates Committee of which I was a member reported in the first paragraph of its recommendations that during the course of taking evidence it was concerned about the lack of clarity and appropriate information in the Budget papers in the presentation of figures relating to programmes and expenditure of departments. Certain of the matters which have been criticised tonight have been discussed already by the Estimates Committee of which I was a member. I trust that this matter is something which the responsible Ministers will take up with their departments for the future edification of the Estimates Committees.
The thing that impressed me most was probably our greatest defeat. It is referred to on page 2 of the report of Committee C. We were making inquiries about things which had interested us over the years and the public servant concerned finally said to us: ‘I think you are doing all right the way you are going now.’ It was not the reply we wanted but I appreciated his frankness, and at least it brought a confrontation between the senators present and the public servant who was handling the matter. For many years we have tried to get this via the Minister but some difficulty always seemed to arise. The pipeline seemed to get clogged somewhere along the way. Public servants are always reticent about being frank because of the nature of the peculiar occupation that they have chosen - I know something of that, having been a public servant for 19 years - and it is refreshing for everyone if they get the opportunity to be frank and if we get the direct answer that we require.
In the closing paragraph of its report Committee C had this 10 say:
The Committee felt that consideration should be given in future to the number of committees which meet simultaneously-
That has been mentioned tonight, and I do not think there is any argument about it. It was a fault in our initial thinking- to the rotation of committees sitting simultaneously, and to the general accommodation which is available for committee meetings.
Senator Poyser was right when he said that the 21 school children whom he was showing through Parliament House - I do not know what grades they were-
– They were of matriculation standard.
– If they were of matriculation standard Senator Poyser has a genuine complaint in that the accommodation available did nol allow him to introduce those school children to this new and very detailed aspect, of parliamentary work. The reference that we have made to that has been underlined by what Senator Poyser has said. The report went on:
Consideration should also be given to increasing the time available for the sittings of the committees.
If there is one thing which is in short supply here it is lime. The quarter of an hour which was allowed us to move to the commitee room to conduct a very detailed examination of the Estimates was inadequate because time was not available to do the research that one needs to do on the subjects under examination.
From our experience here extending over a number of years we all know that it is most difficult to get co-operation in committees where the situation which applies in the House, where one speaks to a Bill or a motion and then has no further right to speak unless he happens to be the mover does not apply. There one can butt in and engage in cross-fire. On a number of occasions I said to two of my colleagues who are in the chamber now: ‘Do you mind if I listen to your private conversation across the table?’
Two people in each Committee bear an extra responsibility and must exercise a lot of self-discipline. One is the chairman and the other is the Minister. The chairman has to attune himself to the feeling of the committee. Of all the committees of which
I have ever been a member only one had a very efficient chairman. He was the late Eddie Ward. Whatever else is said about Eddie, he was tremendously efficient in committee work. It requires a very special skill to be chairman of a committee, and the chairmen and Ministers here will have to develop it. For instance - I made this comment to the Committee the other day - at one stage of our proceedings 1 noticed the Minister was contradicting something that had been said in the Senate in the debate on a Bill. I appreciate that when a Minister believes that his Department is being misrepresented he takes the first opportunity to try to correct the position, but if every Minister is to go through all the debates recorded in Hansard and use the committee system to reply to them, one does not need very much imagination to realise where we will finish. There is no umbrage in this. I merely say that the chairmen and the Ministers have a very special responsibility.
I do not think there is any doubt that the Estimates were subjected to very close examination. Despite any heat that might have been engendered and any personal clashes that might have occurred - I address these remarks particularly lo Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson who, as the Leader of the Government in the Senate, moved for the setting up of the Committees - I would not disregard any of the criticisms that were made because ultimately they are the rock on which these things will stand or fall. We have not reached the end of this matter yet because the Appropriation Bill still has to be passed, but when we reach that stage we will be able to see the extent to which we have been attuned, the amount of time (hat will be saved and die amendments which should be moved. I mention these things in the most constructive manner. The criticisms that have been made have been genuine. Although we may disagree with them we should not reject them because the committee system is in the. embryonic stage and even the critics have wished it well. Unless we approach this matter in the right spirit we will not make a success of it.
– I have no wish to take up the time of the Senate unnecessarily but I must say that I regard the committee system as of paramount importance, not only because it will better inform members of the Senate on administrative matters relating to the various departments but more importantly because it will maintain and assert the authority of the Parliament over the Executive and bureaucracy. We experimented with the committee system. It was submitted to the acid test and I think the experiment was worthwhile. I hope that, as a result of the questions that were asked and the answers which were provided by senior public servants, Ministers who may have been somewhat concerned about the administration of their respective departments will now look closely at some of the aspects which were raised. The committee system, as I see it, asserts the authority of the Parliament over the Executive and the bureaucracy. Not only should it be maintained, indeed it should be extended and strengthened considerably.
Admittedly there were some teething problems and I sincerely trust that in the interests of both the committee system and the Parliament those teething problems will be investigated closely and ironed out. Certainly the remarks made by my colleagues Senator Cavanagh, Senator Keeffe and Senator Poyser should be considered carefully by the Government and by those responsible for the administration of the committee system. This Senate cannot do without the presence of honourable senators of their capacity and analytical mind on the committees.
I agree with my colleagues about the inadequacy of the accommodation. Any fair minded person, notwithstanding what Senator Withers may be saying now, must agree that the accommodation is inadequate. If the committee system is to succeed and be effective in the interests of the Parliament and of the people, that is the first thing which must be investigated. This applies not only to the accommodation for the committees but also to the facilities provided for the many senior public servants who seemed to be waiting in Parliament House for days on end for their respective departments to be considered by the committees. Surely with such a lengthy delay involved the public servants at least should be able to get a cup of tea. However, because of the inadequacy of facilities that amenity was not available to them.
– That proves that this Parliament House is inadequate.
– Completely inadequate. That is what I am saying. If the committee system is to be effective I suggest that the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) and Ministers should consider, firstly, the accommodation arrangements and, secondly, the timetable to which the committees work. Better timetables should be provided so that the expense involved in senior public servants waiting to be called may be reduced. I endorse the remarks of my colleague Senator Mulvihill, and also of Senator Greenwood, that no more than 2 committees should be sitting at one time. I served on Committee A and Committee B and at times I found myself running from pillar to post, not only trying to fit in with the hearings of those 2 committees but also with1 or 2 other committees the evidence before which interested me.
I suggest that 1 important point should be given close consideration. It is found in the recommendations of Committee A; that is, after each department has been dealt with, a deliberative session of the committee should take place so that the matters relating to that department can then be considered for subsequent reporting to the Committee of the Whole. At that time the points elicited by questioning of committee members will be fresh in the minds of individual senators. I believe that the committee system has to be examined constructively. I hope that the matters that have been raised in a constructive way in order to assist the development of the committee system will receive the closest attention of the Government.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I present the report of Estimates Committee D together with minutes of proceedings and the Hansard report of the evidence. I do not desire to be either repetitive or provocative. I have said in my report what I want to say. I move:
– I wish to speak briefly to the report presented by Senator Marriott and to refer to a section of one of the reports, Estimates Committee C, which impinges upon matters raised by honourable senators tonight. Paragraph 4 on page 3 of the report states:
The Committee felt that consideration should be give in future to the number of committees which meet simultaneously, to the rotation of committees sitting simultaneously and to the general accommodation which is available for committee meetings. Consideration should also be given to increasing the time available for the sittings of the committees.
Two indicators clearly emerge from the present experiment with the committee system. One* which has been discussed by senators, is that the present parliamentary accommodation is not satisfactory for the committee system, lt seems to me that in that situation we must give consideration to extensions of Parliament House if we are to adopt properly the committee system. I believe a study of the reports of the other Estimates Committees will contain similar comments. It is clear that extensions must be carried out if the experiment is to- be persevered with. Such extensions should include provision for the proper working of the committee system.
The second indicator to be clearly observed is that the committee system that we have now embarked on contains a great many advantages. Most of the committees were able expertly to examine not only the Ministers but also the permanent heads of departments. All the information gained is now contained in the Hansard reports. That information is more thorough and detailed than the information we were able to get under the previous arrangement of the debate on the Estimates in the Committee of the Whole. That is a great advantage, but we have met with a certain amount of cramming which should not exist in ordinary circumstances. I notice that the Leader of the Government in the Senate, (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) is noting some of these points.
I suggest that 2 or 3 days should be available for discussion of the Estimates by the Committee of the Whole. That time will be neceseary to examine the information obtained- from the Estimates Committees. We are now getting a lot of special information .which we did not get previously. The Estimates Committees are conducting the type of examination which has become a part of the United States Senate special committees. To some extent it involves the expert and specialised knowledge of senators who take part in discussions, and of the Ministers who supervise or correlate the Government’s point of view. For that reason it seems to me that the time which will be available for consideration of this information by the Committee of the Whole will not be sufficient.
Al) honourable senators are aware of the reason for that situation. 1 put it to the Leader of the Government in the Senate that when the Estimates Committees meet again next Budget session clear provision must be made by the Government for the committees to meet in freer conditions. Three or 4 committees should not meet at the same time. J hope we will have an opportunity when the Estimates come back to the Committee of the Whole properly to examine records and information obtained by the Estimates Committees and thus to be armed with extra information and details we have not had before. I support the report presented by Senator Marriott. I have outlined the indicators which have emerged and the reasons why I am a supporter of the committee system. But I strongly believe that provision has to be made for extension of the accommodation and of the time available for the Committee of the Whole to examine the information obtained by the Estimates Committees.
– Tonight the Senate has had the advantage of hearing quite a lot from honourable senators who have spoken in this debate. The discussion has revealed the teething troubles through which the Estimates Committees are passing. One would have expected teething troubles. I am a little regretful that those troubles were not rectified a little earlier. The whole business was rushed. One of the things that concerns me is that this year we are having a very short Budget session because of the approaching Senate election. Next year we will have a clear run, without elections. The following year the Budget session will again be short because a House of Representatives election will be conducted in that year if the Government survives for that length of time.
The difficulty referred to by Senator Bishop in getting the information back before the Committee of the Whole for further examination by senators who were not able to take part in the hearings of the committees will be apparent in 1972 and again in 1973, as it was this year. The difficulty will arise again in 1973 because another Senate election will be held in that year.
Therefore 1 think the Government has to study the timetable of sittings of the Senate to determine whether we should start earlier or sit later, or whether elections should be held at another time of the year. One of the teething troubles that should have been drawn to the attention of the Government relates to the fact that the whole of the estimates of expenditure of a department should be under examination by an Estimates Committee. Documents A and B were the only documents before the committees. Honourable senators will appreciate that departments incur quite large expenditures that did not come up for examination by the committees in those documents.
I suggest to the Leader of the Government in the Senate that he should consider the suggestion that all the financial matters associated with a department should come before the Estimates Committee dealing with that Department. If the system adopted this year is continued it will be found that while the estimates of a department are being considered by an Estimates Committee, the major expenditure associated with that department is being considered in another committee room. I refer particularly to the civil works programme. This involves huge expenditure and honourable senators may want to know why certain works are being carried out and why others are not. We cannot attend two Committees which are sitting at the same time. None of us can be in two places at once. My colleague Senator Bishop raised the question of rents paid by the Department of the Interior on behalf of all departments. He thought also that these rents should be related to the particular department being examined by that Committee.
I am regarded as being a dissentient from the final sentence in the last paragraph of the report presented by Senator Marriott. Mv reasons for dissenting from the inclusion of those words are quite simple.
– What are those words? We do not have a copy of the report.
– I expect that a copy will be placed in your box. I do not think the matter dealt with has anything to do with the Committee of which I was a member. The simple fact is that the resolution was for all the affairs of the department to be brought before the one committee. It is a matter for the Government to decide whether the works estimates, for example, should be examined with the estimates of a Department as set out in Document A and Document B. It is for the Government to decide whether this is practicable or not. It may be that they should be examined by the Public Works Committee. Another question is whether they should be examined in this chamber when the Appropriation Bill (No. 1) is being considered. These matters are for the Government to decide and not for the Committee.
The division of expenditures of a department was one of the teething troubles - and a very important one - faced by the Committee of which I was a member. I endorse all the remarks made relating to accommodation, particularly so far as public servants and the public are concerned. Parliament House is a public place. Meetings of this Parliament are supposed to be public and the public should have access to its proceedings. Under the system by which we worked the public was unable to get access to the Parliament. This is no fault of the committee system. The Government should get on with building a new Parliament House or at least build a wing onto this one to provide for committees. After all, the Estimates Committee system is the brain child of the Government, not the Opposition. If the Government wants to pursue this brain child it should be doing something about accommodation. Having made those remarks, Mr Acting Deputy President, I endorse the report brought down by Senator Marriott.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Assent to the following Bills reported:
Income Tax Assessment Bill 1970 Income Tax Bill 1970
Income Tax (Partnerships and Trusts) Bill 1970.
– -In accordance with the provisions of the Public Works Committee Act 1969, I present the reports relating to the following proposed works:
Development of the Port of Darwin, Northern Territory.
Point Peron - Garden Island Causeway (Naval Support Facility, Cockburn Sound), Western Australia.
– by leave - The statement 1 am about to make was made by the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr McEwen) in the House of Representatives. Honourable senators will understand that when I use the first person personal pronoun it refers to the Minister for Trade and Industry. The statement h as follows: Last night the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced the intention of the British Government to introduce a system of levies on the imports of a number of agricultural commodities. I received advance notice of this late on Monday. The products concerned are beef and veal, mutton and lamb, cereals and milk powders, condensed milk and cream. These products now all enter the United Kingdom free of duty as a right under our trade agreement with Britain. The trade agreement is terminable by 6 months notice by either side.
The British say that the main objective in imposing a levy system on imports is to reduce the claims on public expenditure caused by their present subsidy system for supporting their agricultural industry, lt is clear to me that this is a deliberate move to adapt their arrangements in view of their prospective membership of the European Economic Community when they would be adopting the Common Agricultural Policy of the EEC. Indeed the British have said that this is one of the reasons for the introduction of the system of levies.
I need not remind the House of my views on the variable levy system of CAP as a disruptive element in international trade. The British have asked us to join with them in talks on the commodities of interest to Australia. I have arranged for a Deputy Secretary of the Department of Trade and Industry, suitably supported, to go to London immediately to attend these talks.
The British Government will introduce the new measures when its discussions with overseas suppliers have been completed. In any case the objective is to bring them into operation at least by 1st April 1971. The British proposals have very important implications for our future trade and trading relations; so I will briefly describe them as I understand them.
The British Government proposes to impose variable levies on imports of fresh, frozen and chilled beef and veal. In the case of mutton and lamb, it is the British intention to impose a specific rate of duty. The final impact of these new levies on trade will, of course, not be known until the details of the British proposals have been worked out and are in operation.
In the case of cereals, initially it is proposed that the present minimum import prices will be raised as soon as possible by some 25 per cent. Under the present arrangements, any individual country which supplies wheat below the specified minimum prices attracts a levy. However, it is also now proposed by the British that on 1st July next their cereals system will be brought into line with the variable levy mechanism of the EEC Common Agricultural Policy. This will mean that all wheat landed in Britain after that date will attract a levy based on the lowest price cm offer for sale in that market irrespective of country of origin. In Other words, our wheat could attract a levy as a result of the marketing policies of countries such as the eastern Europeans or other minor producers who come into the market only periodically to dispose of surplus production.
In the case of the powdered and condensed milks and creams, the British intend to set up minimum import prices supported by variable levies. Our present trade in these products is small but the British proposal represents a further restriction on the already difficult dairy product market.
There is one thing which stands out starkly when looking at the British proposals. This is that for the first time the Australian products concerned will be faced with real barriers to trade in this traditional market outlet. The British action will cut across the trade agreement that Australia has with Britain. This agreement is the very basis of the trade relations between us. Under this agreement, first negotiated in 1932 and reviewed in 1957. the British Government undertakes to give free entry to imports from Australia for these and most other products. As soon as a duty - be it fixed, as will be the case of mutton and lamb, or variable, as will be the case for the other products - is struck against imports from Australia this will be a breach of this undertaking for free entry.
The Australian Government will be carefully studying the implications of the British proposals as we now understand them and as they are elaborated during the forthcoming talks in London. We will, of course, be taking a hard look at the balance of benefits under our trade agreement with Britain. We will assess at the appropriate time what adjustment to Australia’s obligations under the agreement is required to restore the balance of advantage.
– by leave - The Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) gave me the benefit of looking at this statement only 5 or 6 minutes ago. Therefore, it is not possible to have a debate or to make any long statement on it now. But, in anybody’s language, this is a very tough statement. I was only able to underline passages in the statement as the Minister was reading it because 1 did not have a copy of it in front of me before that. It says, for example:
As soon as a duty - be it fixed, as will be the case of mutton and lamb, or variable, as will be the case for the other products - is struck against imports from Australia this will be a breach of this undertaking for free entry.
The British action will cut across the trade agreement that Australia has with Britain.
I do not suppose that this could come at a very much worse time for primary production in Australia. It underlines the toughness of foreign relations with any country, even allowing for the traditional ties that we have with Britain. It also underlines one other thing: About 5 or 6 years ago we had debates here on the question of Britain entering the European Economic Community. I suppose that we should be thankful for small mercies and be grateful that we have had this period of time to develop our Asian trade and our great mineral exports. I make no further comment on the matter. I merely emphasise the seriousness of the statement that has been put down by the Government tonight. It is like the arrival of something one has been long awaiting. The entry of Britain into the European Economic Community has now come much closer, and this is one of the first warning shots across our bow.
– by leave - I am astounded that on a tremendously important statement such as this the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson), in presenting it, did not move for the Senate to take note of the paper.
– I will do so in due course.
– Ministers normally do it straight away. I intended to ask that the Minister do that so that the debate could then be adjourned. He has now signified that he will move that motion.
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSON (New South Wales - Minister for Supply) - by leave - As it appears to be the wish of the Opposition, I move:
– This is a statement of very great significance to Australia. It seems that the advice of what was being done by Great Britain was received late on Monday. It is now Wednesday. The advice is to the effect that levies will be placed on imports - certainly on imports from Australia.
– The statement was put down by the Minister for Trade and Industry in the other place this afternoon.
– Yes. Anyway, this is the first notice we have had. The Government has had notice of it for some days. I suppose that the Government was caught by surprise by the matter even if it has had notice of it for a few days. We certainly are. We have not been able to formulate any clear attitude in regard to it. I suppose that our attitude is one of astonishment.
For donkey’s years we have been sending agricultural products to Great Britain. This country was developed partly as a place, on which to unload convicts. Later it was developed as an economic colony of Great Britain as well as a political one. It, as well as other places in the world, was looked upon as a source of raw materials to keep Great Britain going while it was controlling the world and while Britannia ruled the waves. Now all of that has been swept aside. We now find that Great Britain, for its own purposes, seeks to enter the European Economic Community. It is quite entitled to do so if it wants to. to abrogate arrangements that have been made and to set up barriers against agricultural commodities. Of course, this will create very great difficulties for those countries, such as Australia and New Zealand, which, in great measure, have built their economies upon the continuance of British buying.
Over the last ‘ few years we have seen many changes in our relationship with Britain. We have seen our trading pattern alter so that Britain, which was our greatest trading partner, has ceased to be that. We have formed better trading links with other countries - Japan, the Soviet Union. China and so on. In fact, if one looks at the balance on current account one sees that our economy is really kept afloat by our trading with Asian countries, lt is they who give us the pluses in our balance on current account. Russia - if I may call ii an Asian country - China, Japan and so on are importing great amounts of our raw materials or primary products. With the European countries, for the most part, we have broken even. With Great Britain we have traded at a loss, as I understand the position. Certainly with the United States of America we have traded at a permanent loss. This matter is another indication of the great changes that have been occurring.
One of the concerns that we on the Opposition side have is that our Government has been very lacking in its commercial intelligence, lt does not know what is going on in the world until it is hit on the jaw as Jerry Quarry was hit on the jaw by Cassius Clay the other night. In comes a piece of intelligence like this and suddenly the Australian Government finds that some of our most important products are to be subjected to duties and penalised in their entry to Great Britain. This will send a great Shockwave through the economic system here in Australia. This situation is not good enough. I suspect that a thing such as this does not happen suddenly. It ought to have been on the cards. Surely somebody was in Great Britain, applying himself to what was happening in the negotiations. He ought to have known that this kind of thing was happening. We ought to have been apprised of it and to have taken some steps to protect ourselves or at least to inform ourselves so that we would not be hit suddenly with this kind of information. 1 suggest that this is an extremely important matter, lt is so regarded by the Government. 1 believe that the motion for the Senate to take note of the paper ought to be dealt with by the Senate in some depth. I have no doubt that it will be dealt with elsewhere. So, we ought to have the opportunity to absorb this statement and to discuss it. We have reached the stage where the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) has moved; ‘That the Senate take note of the paper’ and 1 have made some remarks. If anyone else wants to speak tonight, I certainly do not want to cut him off. I would like the matter to be dealt with on the basis that we set some time aside. I suggest to the Minister that, as we have before us a motion to take note of the paper, if any other senators want to speak now they should be able to do so. and I hen we could bring forward on another occasion a substantive motion to enable us to deal with this matter in more depth
May I conclude ray remarks on the basis that there is much that my Party would like to say on this matter once we have had a chance to consider it. 1 shall not ask for leave to continue my remarks because that would deprive others of an opportunity to contribute to the debate. 1 shall end by suggesting that there be another motion before the Senate gets up so that we may deal with this matter which, in its implications-
– You are not suggesting that we deal tonight with the statement that I put down on behalf of another Minister? I am not competent to deal with it tonight.
– No, the very reverse. I have spoken shortly on this subject. I do not want to make a full statement on it at this stage. However, others may want to contribute shortly to what has been said. If I ask that the debate be adjourned that would cut off the debate and deprive others of the opportunity to contribute.
– When do you suggest that the mailer might be dealt with in depth?
– 1 am suggesting it be dealt wilh in depth, but not tonight.
– I suggest that the matter be dealt with in depth before the Senate adjourns at the end of this sessional period. If no-one else wants to speak on the matter at this stage 1 shall move that the debate be adjourned, but I shall not do that now in case someone does wish to speak to it. Short though the notice has been, other honourable senators may wish to make some comment. I shall simply ask the Government - I should think this would be the general feeling of the Senate - that an opportunity be provided to debate the statement. If the Government does not provide the opportunity 1 am sure that others will take steps to see that the matter is discussed in some depth.
– It is not my intention to take up much time. 1 agree exactly with what Senator Murphy has said. I would be quite happy at this juncture if the Leader of the Government (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) would assure the Senate that we will have an opportunity to discuss this paper at a later date. I recognise what has to be done.
– Do you mean to discuss it this session?
– Yes. I am prepared to resume my seat immediately if the Leader of the Government will assure us that we will have an opportunity to discuss this statement prior to the adjournment of the Senate at the end of this ses sion. I hope that we will be given that assurance.
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSON (New South Wales - Minister for Supply) - by leave - I should like to intercede, without closing the debate, to make just one point. It is very difficult for me to give an assurance in relation to a ministerial statement made on behalf of another Minister. Senator Murphy has made a valid point. I appreciate that he does not want to stifle anybody who wants to comment at this time, but as a matter of procedure I think that at some point we will have to take the adjournment of the debate. I shall be in a situation then where 1 will have to confer with the Minister on whose behalf the statement has been made to ascertain what the situation is. lt may be that because of the negotiations implicit in what the statement says it will not be felt appropriate to have a continuation of the debate for some time. That is a decision that we will have to reach ultimately. At this point I have put down a statement on behalf of the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr McEwen). It is not my statement. The statement is now a document of the Senate. If we had a short debate now and then had an adjournment of the debate f would be in a position to acquaint the Minister for Trade and Industry with the views of the Senate. Where we went from there would be a matter on which he would have give me some advice.
– This is an important statement. It is one of the most important statements that have been made to this Parliament for many years - certainly in this session and perhaps during the life of this Parliament, lt involves the future of the rural industries of Australia, to a major degree. Rural industries already ate under very severe challenge and some are faced with virtual disaster. We anticipated that such a position might arise over the years, but when it comes upon us we are nevertheless dismayed. Some time ago I put questions on the notice paper asking the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr McEwen) whether he was in a position to indicate what would be the implications for Australia and our primary industries in the event of Britain joining the European Economic Community. The Minister intimated at that stage, on 2 occasions, that it was premature to attempt to answer that question as the implications were not known. I accepted that and no doubt that was the position. But the Parliament is now gravely concerned with this matter, as Australia must be.
The Minister for Supply (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) has intimated that a delegation will be going to London to discuss with our British counterparts certain aspects in relation to affecting the trade of certain Australian primary industries with Great Britain. I think it is important that such a delegation should be fortified, not merely by the view or attitude of the Government but also by the feeling that it is sustained by the view of the Parliament, as reflecting the view of the Australian nation. In other words, I think there must be a strong intimation by the Australian nation to Great Britain as to how we feel on this matter. I agree with Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson that tonight is perhaps not the opportune time to discuss the statement, but I think our reaction should be prompt. I think it should be very severe and I think it should be articulate. For those reasons I move the following amendment to the motion that the Senate take note of the paper:
At the end of the’ motion add: ‘and express its immediate concern and intimates to the Government that the members of the Australian delegation will have the full support of all parties in securing a proper recognition of Australia’s trading relations with Great Britain as a member of the British Commonwealth of Nations in the forthcoming negotiations.’
I move that immediately as a response to this proposition . in order to express the concern that we feel immediately.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Davidson) - Is the amendment seconded?
– I second the amendment.
– The statement which has just been presented to the Senate transcends most other issues that have faced Australia in recent times. I would go so far as to say that it transcends most other issues in Australia’s history during the twentieth century. The tradition of Australia’s relations with Great Britain has been that, of a family. It has been a tradition in which we have had a trust with our mother country, that as part of the British Commonwealth, and previously part of the British Empire, we would be given a preference, as we have given a preference to the United Kingdom over the years. Now, in a short curt way, we have been advised that some of our basic export commodities are to be treated in a cavalier fashion. I believe this calls for a very strong protest not only from the Senate but also from the whole Parliament and the people of Australia.
In my view this situation reflects very badly on the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr McEwen) who was closely associated during the negotiations with the previous British Government in its expectation of joining the European Economic Community. Yet the Minister for Trade and Industry has kept Australia in the dark. We have been badly informed of the implications of Britain’s entry to the European Economic Community in relation to the basic commodities referred to in the statement. Whether the commodity is beef, lamb, veal, milk, cream, cereals or any other basic commodity, practically every section of our rural economy will be affected. We have experienced already bitter blows from the United Slates of America through its discrimination against the Australian beef industry. The United States authorities have applied conditions to the slaughtering and processing of beef that, in my view and in the view of many people in the industry, have been far beyond reason. This action, which has resulted from lobbying by meat interests in the United States, has been a bitter blow aimed at our beef industry. Now, on top of that, we have this action by the United Kingdom.
I believe that we should have been given an opportunity over the last 5 years to phase out our exports to the United Kingdom. Honourable senators will recall that Prime Minister Menzies sacked the present Treasurer (Mr Bury) for having the temerity to open his mouth to warn the Australian people of what might be the consequences of Britain’s entry into the European Common Market. The truth of the situation which was developing was never divulged. We have been kept in the dark until tonight. Now, in the dying stages of the Parliament, the matter has suddenly been thrust at us without our having an opportunity to debate it. 1 hope that this matter will be made the subject of a full debate tonight. It is the most serious thing that faces the stability of our economy. The financial position of many engaged in primary industry is involved in the ultimate. I believe that we have been sold short, in spite of our long association with the United Kingdom.
The whole pattern of our economy, the value of our money, the concessions we have made in keeping up this relationship between Great Britain and Australia over the past century, and more, have been put aside. We have bad a relationship that is hard to put down in writing or to express. It has been one of mutual trust.I believe that this sudden change of policy by the Heath Government should be deplored by the people of this country. It is -I have to repeat the term, but it is an international one - a perfidious Albion. This has been a part of our foreign policy over the years. We have been badly let down. I believe the Senate should express its disapproval that suddenly we should be confronted with such a serious issue. I believe we should send a special delegation to the United Kingdom to ask for time to readjust our economy, to allow our farmers to diversify, if possible, away from the commodities which are affected. I will repeat them. They include beef, veal, mutton, milk, cereals, milk, powder and cream.
– What about sugar?
– Yes, sugar can be included too. We have been supplying sugar to the United Kingdom at a subsidised price for years. The Australian consumer has been paying freely to help the British consumers of sugar. The same situation applies in regard to butter. We have been making alt these concessions as a member of a family, and now we find we have been slapped in the face. It is disgraceful that the British Government should treat us in such a cavalier way. I want to place on record my disappointment that after a long period of fraternity with the British people Australia has been let down very badly. I am sure the British people are not responsible; I believe only the narrow minded Conservative Government in England would be capable of conceiving anything like this.
– In order that the motion proposed by the Leader of the Government and the amendment moved by Senator Byrne may be considered, I move:
That the debate be now adjourned.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Motion (by Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) proposed:
That the Bill be now read a first time.
– I forewarned the Minister for Air (Senator Drake-Brockman), who represents the Minister for the Navy (Mr Killen) in this place, that I intended to speak at the first reading stage of the Appropriation Bill (No.1). I take advantage of this occasion to raise a matter which 1 consider is of importance, not only to me as a member of this Parliament - it should be important to all members of the Parliament - but alsoto citizens of our respective States who choose to seek the assistance of a member of Parliament on matters that concern them personally when they feel an injustice is being perpetrated and that all other avenues have been explored unsuccessfully.
The matter I raise concerns what I regard as an arrogant, haughty letter that I received from the Minister for the Navy in reply to representations that I made to him on behalf of one of my constituents whose husband is a serving member of the Royal Australian Navy. In this letter the Minister states, amongst other things, that the only effective way of obtaining improved working conditions is for the individual concerned to make prompt representations through normal Service channels. To many people the matter that I am raising might seem to be a trivial one but to me it is important because it concerns the right of members of the community to raise matters with Ministers and to ask members of Parliament to raise matters on their behalf with members of the Executive.
Firstly, let me say that I cannot help but compare the attitude of the Minister for the Navy in regard to this matter with the attitude recently adopted by the Minister for the Army (Mr Peacock) in connection with another matter that I raised with him. Recently I complained to the Minister for the Army about the shocking condition of the guard house at Kapooka military, camp as the result of a complaint that 1 had received from the father of a national serviceman. After I had sought and obtained permission to visit the camp and had satisfied myself that the conditions at the guard house were abhorrent from the point of view of human habitation, I raised the matter with the Minister for the Army. He immediately proceeded to Kapooka, made an inspection of the guard house and ordered that, immediate renovations be affected. I compare the reasonable attitude of the Minister for the Army with that of the Minister for the Navy in relation to a case which concerns not prison conditions but working conditions.
I suggest that in one week in every three the gates of hell must open for cooks who work at HMAS ‘Penguin*. They are expected to work 13 hours a day, and one is on call for 24 hours a day over a period from Friday morning to Monday morning. I understand that the normal duty cook finishes work at 8 a.m. on Monday and returns the next day at 7.50 a.m., but for some reason or other the man whose case 1 have taken up with the Minister had his leave stopped until 1 p.m. My constituent’s husband, a serving member of the Royal Australian Navy, complained to the divisional officer at HMAS ‘Penguin’. He said to her husband: ‘It is no use complaining to me about such things’. She asserts that her husband then asked for an application form for discharge. He was told: ‘That won’t get you far. You had best improve yourself over the next 2 weeks or you will be sent elsewhere.’
I interviewed the woman concerned. Despite the Minister’s statement in the reply which I received from him last night that much that the lady has said was based on emotion rather than factual information available to her, at the time of my interview with her I found her to be quite a rational person who was concerned about her husband and the effect that the alleged treatment being meted out to him was having on their personal relations. But let me briefly relate the historical situation.
The woman came to my office and sought my assistance. After she had raised the matter with me I wrote to the Minister for the Navy on 5th May. He replied on 11th June. I in turn transmitted his reply to my constituent who then replied to me on 21st July. As a result of my further representations I received a final reply from the Minister last night. Let me look at some aspects of the Minister’s reply. Firstly, in his reply the Minister confirms that in 1 week of every 3 a cook at HMAS ‘Penguin’ works 63 hours. The Minister excused this by saying that in the other 2 weeks a man works 26 hours in 1 week and 42 hours in the other. Therefore over 3 weeks the man’s average period of work is 43 i hours a week. But I am concerned about the week in which the man is required to work 63 hours.
After having worked these long hours it is said he is not up to scratch with the performance of his task and he is detained for another 7 hours at the naval establishment. In 1 week he is kept on duty for 70 hours. If this were in an industrial establishment any trade union that was representing that person would immediately call a stoppage of work. When conditions like this exist in the Royal Australian Navy is it any wonder that recently there was a mutiny at Garden Island? The Minister idly brushes off this situation by saying: Yes, true it is that the man is there for 63 hours and that he was detained for another 7 hours making a total of 70 hours in the 1 week, but nontheless the next week he works only 26 hours and in the next week only 42 hours so the average over the 3 weeks is 43i hours.’ Frankly I think it is inhuman and callous to expect any man to work such long hours in 1 week.
I thought the days about which Dickens wrote so much were well and truly over so far as this country and modern society were concerned. But apparently this does not apply to cooks at HMAS ‘Penguin’. The Minister goes on to say that despite the fact that this sailor was on duty for 63 hours and was detained for another 7 hours in the 1 week it is considered probable - I emphasise those words - that :his man would have performed a maximum of 50 hours actually at work. In civilian life that was the sort of situation which existed in pre-depression days. If conditions like this still exist in the Services and in the Royal Australian Navy It is no wonder to me that people are dissatisfied with Service conditions. This person aired his grievances with a superior officer and asked for an application form for discharge. The second paragraph on the second page of the Minister’s letter reads:
It has been established that-
I will not name the superior officer -
So the man’s wife came to me as a member of this Parliament. The Minister in the course of his letter admits that my constituent’s husband was given extra responsibilities and the opportunity to show his initiative. Me was detained on several occasions because of his inability to achieve minimum standards of cooking and associated hygiene. I suggest that anyone working 63 hours a week and being detained for another 7 hours would have had it and would not care what happened. But what particularly concerns me is the last paragraph of the Minister’s letter wherein he states:
Thank you for your letters, and I would be most grateful if you could impress upon . . . the name of the lady is mentioned -
. that improvements in working conditions can only be effective if prompt representations are made by the individual concerned through normal service channels.
– She is disfranchised because she is a serviceman’s wife.
– She is disfranchised. My interpretation of the Minister’s statement is that she has not the right to approach a member of Parliament nor to ask the Minister to look at the case after the serviceman has complained and received a curt reply from one of his superior officers. In other words the interpretation I place on the Minister’s reply to me is that despite any grievance anyone has in the Royal Australian Navy or any of the Services they should not bother complaining to the Minister. They should not complain to a member of Parliament because it is not going to get them anywhere. The only way open to this woman is to suggest to her husband who is a serving member of the Navy that he should make representations through normal Service channels. One might complain to a member of Parliament but despite anything he might say or do in presenting the case to the Minister it is not going to get anyone anywhere.
I regard the sort of statement in the last paragraph of the Minister’s reply as arrogance on the part of the Minister. He asks me to impress upon the lady concerned, that improvements in working conditions can only be effective if prompt representations are made by the individual concerned through normal Service channels. So far as I am concerned, I will tell this lady and everyone else who might have similar complaints to complain to their Federal members and to continue to complain notwithstanding the Ministers statement. Obviously the Minister and the Naval Board want the Navy to remain the silent Service in relation to the conditions of service in the Navy, certainly for some members of the Service. ‘
If I. think a person has a legitimate grievance and if the Minister is not prepared to listen to it I will raise in the Senate during the debate on the motion for the adjournment of the Senate each matter concerning the department that is brought to my attention in order to highlight the matters to the Parliament and to the Australian people. I certainly view the last paragraph of the Minister’s letter, as I would hope all members of Parliament would view it, ‘ with alarm because obviously the Minister is not prepared to be bothered with grievances which -rightly or wrongly people in the Service hold. I suggest that the last paragraph of the Minister’s letter is typical of the Government. It could not care less about little people. Not only is it incompetent but also, as indicated in this letter, certainly some of its Ministers are overbearing and pompous. As an individual member of Parliament I take umbrage at the manner in which the Minister has brushed off the rights of a citizen to approach a member of the national Parliament.
-I speak on a matter of some importance. On many occasions in the past 6 months I have put questions on notice about this matter. Following personal investigations, 1 alerted those who are responsible for ensuring that pure foods are delivered to the public that undesirable practices exist in relation to the handling of by-products from abattoirs. To date I have had little success. Apparently little attention has been paid to this matter, which I consider is quite a problem. The standard of hygiene in Australian meat handling methods has been much in the news of late. I am informed that the authorities in the United States of America have shut off supplies from at least 27 Australian meatworks until they comply with United States health standards. While in some quarters this has been interpreted as an attempt by the United States to limit meat supplies from Australia and thus protect producers in that country - and indeed there may be some justification for this interpretation - I think there is ample evidence to support the United States action as a health precaution.
– Not in all cases, no
– In the other place the Minister for the Interior (Mr Nixon), when speaking for the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Anthony), admitted this, I believe when he said that the Australian housewife should not be asked to accept a lower standard of hygiene than her American counterpart. He added that the American action would contribute materially to setting a higher standard in Australia. Recently there has been further strong evidence of this in Queensland. On 15th October of this year the Queensland Meat Industry Council issued a statement in which it strongly criticised hygiene standards in the States’ 300 slaughter houses.
It stated that major changes in hygiene were essential and higher minimum standards were imperative. The report, which was tabled in the Queensland State House, by the Queensland Minister for Primary Industry, Mr Row, said that measures to overcome the problem would involve quite long term considerations.
It is in this topical context that I believe attention should be drawn to the health hazards inherent in our lack of supervision of the production of tallow for use in Australia in the manufacture of foodstuffs prepared for human consumption in Australia. The almost unbelievable fact is that, while edible tallow for export is supervised stricly, there is no supervision of tallow which finds its end use in the manufacture of products for human consumption in Australia. It is also a fact that tallow rendered partly from diseased sections of animals is finding its way into the manufacture of edible products. Much of this tallow comes from abattoirs. The practice of including raw materials which have been condemned for human consumption in tallow described and sold as edible can be described only as revolting, I believe. The material can be cancerous - either malignant or benign. If a carcass has a malignant cancer the whole carcass is condemned, as it certainly should be. If a carcass has a benign cancer the quarter that is affected is condemned and the balance of the meat is used. I shall give an example of this. The head of an animal which had a cancerous growth on it - a lump on its jaw - would be condemned, but the remainder of the carcass would be passed as fit for human consumption. To me, this appears to be a very important matter. The condemned head would be put with other condemned materials as well as other edible fats, in the production of edible tallow. I hope that some attention is being given to this very important matter. Likewise certain parts of the viscera may be condemned for tuberculosis and livers are not. inspected for fluke and slinks are not inspected at all and certainly some percentage of these would be diseased.
Tallow used in the manufacture of foodstuffs for local consumption is also obtained from boiling down works which produce meat-meal and fertilisers. Those companies buy offcuts from butcher shops and boning rooms. That meat is carried in open trucks to the boiling rooms of certain works. During transit it is quite possible for the material in the open trucks to become flyblown in hot weather. I have no doubt that honourable senators have often seen this, ft is not an unusual sight. These collected materials are absolutely unsuitable for the production of edible tallow. In shops and boning rooms it is not uncommon for material to be thrown on the floor and swept up into old bags or drums, and it is subject to contamination at all points. In view of the unhygienic collection methods it is essential that the tallow raw material should be approved and that the tallow should be certified. I believe that this is an important matter.
Basically, the hazard to the system has been recognised by the Australian Agricultural Council, the members of which are State Ministers of Agriculture. In the Senate prior to today I have referred to this matter at question time. At its meeting in February of this year the Agricultural Council discussed at length the lack of supervision over the production of tallow for use by Australian foodstuff manufacturers. A Press statement made by the Minister for Primary Industry read in part:
In the case of abattoirs, both edible and inedible materials are rendered down for tallow. Although some establishments treat edible and inedible materials separately, others combine both types in their product . . . the practice >s nevertheless objectionable.
The Press statement continued:
In October 1968 the Food Standards Committee of the National Health and Medical Research Council recommended a new standard for dripping and edible tallows designed to ensure that the product is derived only from wholesome materials from healthy animals.
Standards have been accepted by the National Health and Medical Research Council. The Minister reported that that is so. It was agreed at the Agricultural Council meeting that all States should introduce legislation to prevent diseased parts of animals being used, but not one State has yet done this. Earlier this year the Commonwealth Department of Primary Industry drafted regulations which were designed to prevent condemned meat or offal being used in pet food. It called for this meat or offal to be denatured by being soaked in kerosene. This meant that the meat works could sell only the treated meat and the offal for use in fertiliser at about O.Sc a lb as against up to 12c a lb which they had been receiving for -it from the pet food manufacturers. It was stated then that 70 per cent of the offal contains cysts but that it had been the practice to cut them out.
The Chief Executive of the Graziers Association of New South Wales, Mr IckHewins, said in August of this year ‘hat one matter of concern which was put to his Association was the fact that under the present regulations condemned offal from abattoirs could find its way into fresh pet foods shops and also back into human consumption markets as tallow, in other words, while an attempt is being made to protect pets from the dangers of cysts and so on in this product nothing is being done to protect humans from the same risk. A major source of the tallow used in the manufacture of edible products in Australia from the boiling down works which also manufacture meat meal and fertiliser from the same basic material, that is, off-cuts which are collected from butcher shops in open trucks, In a letter to the Hobart ‘Mercury’ in July of this year Mr R. J. Hinze, a Country Party member of the Queensland Parliament, pointed out another angle to this tallow hazard. He said:
The public should be reminded that processing methods of tallow have changed. In the past, processing methods such as high temperature rendering ensured that the passing df disease was minimised. However, newer methods such as centrifugal extraction are carried out at much lower temperatures. There must be considerable doubt in the minds of health authorities because of the new methods.
Recently in the Queensland Parliament the Minister for Primary Industry in that State, Mr Row, in reply to a question by a Mr Ahern, said:
Mr Ahern has raised the question of the supply of tallow from meat works which have only one source of supply. This, of course, is subject to a health doubt because of the fact that residues, including condemned material, are included in the tallow source of supply.
I have raised this matter because we are drawing to the end of this session and I have not received an answer to a question which I put on the notice paper on 17th September of this year. I refer to Question No. 692, which I asked of the Minister representing the Minister for Health. It relates to inspection standards in the Commonwealth Territories. In reply to earlier questions which I have asked on inspection standards I have been informed that it is basically a State problem. I believe that the Commonwealth has a substantial responsibility in this matter. 1 am confident that some investigation is under way because it has been so long since I asked the question and I have not yet received a reply. However, I would draw the attention of the Senate to this important matter. I feel that both the State and Federal authorities should be prodded into taking immediate action in relation to this most important matter.
– 1 take advantage of the first reading of this money Bill to raise matters which I may not have an opportunity to raise otherwise. One of the issues which I wish to raise could be dealt with in the Estimates debate, but in view of the probable time limitation on that debate and the doubtful relevancy of the subject I am taking this opportunity to speak.
My plea is for some extension of the money that is made available to the Commonwealth Literary Fund. I refer to Division 431 - ‘Assistance for the Arts, in the estimates of the Prime Minister’s Department. I refer in particular to sub-division 2, item 03, which relates to payments to the Commonwealth Literary Fund Trust Account. I have read the Hansard report of the consideration of Division 431 by the appropriate estimates committee and I have found that although Senator McClelland examined the whole question of assistance to the arts, no examination was made of the literary scholarships which are awarded each year to writers to whom the grants will give sufficient independence to enable them to develop a work of merit which will result in credit and possibly profit to themselves as well as credit to Australia. The payment to the Commonwealth Literary Fund Trust Account has increased by some 524,000 this year to $171,000. I make a plea for consideration to be given to increasing this amount further. I will show the value of a literary scholarship to one particular individual. It permitted him to write a book which is now being printed and will soon be available for sale. It was possible for him to write the book only because of the assistance which was given to him. The indications are that the book, which’ was written by an Australian, could be of merit to Australia and of profit to the author.
The person whose case I cite had suffered extreme hardship. The publication of his work has been made possible only by scholarship grants. I raised this matter originally because, due to his personal history, this person had found difficulty in obtaining assistance. He is still being persecuted to some extent. I have raised this matter in order to determine whether the present scholarship system can be extended to provide further assistance to this author and to other authors who are entitled to it. I make the plea in the hope that those over whom we have some control will, in all decency, assist this man and his family while he is struggling along this road of life.
The Senate will recall that early last year I raised the case of a Mr Ward McNally, who had on 3 occasions unsuccessfully made application for a scholarship. I claimed that he had written many books of an international standard which had been published overseas. I said that, although he had had some success in the sales of his books, he had been ignored by the Commonwealth Literary Fund. I pointed out at that time the Fund was giving as many as 4 scholarships to certain individuals and had nearly made them full time employees of the Trust. I do not know whether it was as a result of my bringing this matter before the notice of the Senate - I do not think so - but the fact of the matter is that last year Mr McNally was able to convince the body which decides to whom scholarships shall be granted that there was some justification for him receiving one. Last year he was granted a scholarship amounting to $3,000 for 6 months. It permitted him to work on a book for 6 months. This book has been completed and is now in the hands of his publisher, Hodder and Stoughton Ltd. He hopes that it will be available for sale by the end of this year.
I have already told Mr McNally’s history to the Senate. I do not want to go over it again. He described himself in his book entitled ‘Cry of a Man Running’ as a person who had a criminal history in New Zealand. His criminal days are now 20 years behind him. He has completely rehabilitated himself in society and has been struggling to make a living since and to keep his wife and 4 children on the royalties from his book. When I brought his case before the Parliament he was in a pretty bad financial position with a number of debts outstanding and with court orders and warrants of execution against him because, as I have said, he was getting very little income from his royalties.
Unbeknown to me he had obtained employment as public relations officer for the Liberal and Country League of South Australia, but I do not think it would have made any difference to my advocacy of his claim for assistance had I known that. Some time had elapsed since he had asked me to state his case and he thought that he should advise me that he had since commenced work for the opposing political party. His appointment came after he had answered an advertisement inserted in the Adelaide ‘Advertiser’ by John P. Young and Associates, Management Consultants, of Wayville, South Australia. He had an interview with that firm, not knowing for whom he would be working if he were successful. Of the 65 applicants 10 were selected for interview with the client firm. He then found that the position was with the Liberal and Country League in South Australia. He attended with the 9 other applicants for a final interview with the General Secretary of the Liberal and Country League, Mr R. Y. Wilson; the President, Mr Hurtle Morphett; the Past President, Mr Jeffrey Cooper; Mr McLaughlin and the Chairman of the Publicity Committee, Dr Springett. He put to them that he normally voted Labor, that he was somewhat opposed to the war in Vietnam and that he had had experience in journalism and public relations. He put his cards on the table, told them his past history, mentioned the books that he had written and that, despite the way in which he voted, he needed the job and if they decided to appoint him he was prepared to work and to give satisfaction to the best of his ability. He told me that he said to them:
I -shall work according to the appointment you give me. and I shall vote according to my conscience.
This apparently was satisfactory to the interviewing committee and he was appointed, commencing duty on 1st June last year. His appointment to that position was regarded as somewhat important and, without telling any secrets, I should like to read a report of his conversation with Mr Morphett which was published in ‘On Dit the newspaper of the University of Adelaide. It states:
When he told me of my appointment in late May last year, Mr Morphett said: ‘Your ability to handle the job stood out above the other finalists. The battle you have put up to push your past behind you impressed us but did not influence our decision in your favour’.
Mr McNally told me:
Although I had told the members of the quorum that I had always been a Labor voter I believed, as I am convinced they did, that this would not prove a barrier to my effectiveness as LCL public relations officer.
After all, most working journalists have, at some time or another, had to write about a subject from an angle opposite to their own viewpoint. And after all, the LCL had shown me tolerance and given me a well-paid job. Why should I be anything but ready to prove my appreciation to the organisation?
I entered into the spirit of my new job with gratitude and determination to prove my value to my employers. However, the hope singing in my heart was doomed to a short life.
As I have said, he commenced duty on the first Monday of June last year. On 9th June a meeting was called at which the then Premier of South Australia, Mr Steele Hall, complained about Mr McNally’s appointment and moved a motion of no confidence in the appointment. Amongst other things Mr Steele Hall said that he was in possession of a police report which would indicate that McNally’s criminal history was worse than McNally had presented it to the committee. I wrote to Mr McKinna, the Commissioner of Police, who denied having supplied a report to anyone on Mr McNally. I am informed that Mr Steele Hall’s motion of no confidence in the appointment was defeated by 13 votes to 3.
On 10th June Mr Morphett told Mr McNally that he was disgusted and disturbed by the force of the Premier’s attack. He warned McNally that he could expect all sorts of barbs for a while, and asked that he carry on with the job. Then’ there followed a direction from the Premier that his Ministers were not to give any information to the public relations officer of the Liberal and Country League. The motion of no confidence was moved on 9th June. On that day Mr McNally had” arranged through Mr A. G. Tanner, General Manager in South Australia of the United Insurance Company, to pay his creditors a sum of money each week as he now had this job, in return for the creditors withholding any further action on the summonses against him, on the unsatisfied judgments and on the warrants of execution. Amongst those was one from Cox Bros of Adelaide of which Mr Gair was the manager. At 10.40 p.m. on the night following the defeat of the no confidence motion and after having made the arrangements with his creditors, a policeman from Holden Hill police station called on Mr McNally at home and, in the presence of Mr McNally’s wife, his elder son and another adult, said that he had come to arrest Mr McNally for the non-payment of an amount owing to Cox Bros. Mr McNally describes the incident in this way:
That night, at approximately 10.40, . a bailiff from the Holden Hill police station called at my home and told me in the presence of my wife, my elder son. and one other person, that he had been given specific instructions late that afternoon to come and execute the warrants of committal at all costs*.
When I protested that my debts were now under control the bailiff replied: ‘Look, Mr McNally. 1 sympathise with you. I don’t enjoy executing warrants of committal on people. But my instructions today came to me at about 4.30 p.m. and from the Attorney-General. When he takes an interest in a case, as he has in yours, and sends specific instructions, J jump to it.’
It will be seen that following the defeat of the no-confidence motion the AttorneyGeneral of the Liberal and Country League Government in South Australia issued instructions to the police that same afternoon to arrest Mr McNally.
– Was that, the Hon. E. Millhouse?
– That was the Hon. E. Millhouse. Mr McNally describes the incident as follows:
My wife urged the bailiff to phone Mr Tanner and also gave him the home phone number of the spokesman for my creditors, asking him to phone him also. The bailiff agreed to do this and when he had he left without executing the warrants.
Nonetheless, my wife phoned Mr Morphett at 11.5 p.m. that night and told him about the bailiffs visit and what he had said about being instructed by the Attorney-General to serve the warrants on roe.
It is recorded that Mr Morphett told my wife he ‘had feared something like this may hap pen . . . but I had hoped it would not have happened . . . it is disgusting. I am shocked to realise it has happened. . . .’
Those are the details of the persecution of a man who was trying to rehabilitate himself. He had given his services on the job to the best of his ability. If he was inefficient on the job, the opportunity to dismiss him was available to the organisation. Mr McNally’s credentials show that he was not inefficient but was doing a good job when given the opportunity. But the ban still existed and no work was to be given to the public relations officer by any of the Liberal Ministers of the South Australian Government. Mr McNally found it very difficult to carry on with his duties. Mr Wilson, who was the Secretary of the Liberal Country League, was very cooperative and tried to channel work to him. Mr McNally reports that he actually worked 3 hours a week. He felt depressed and distressed and that he was not doing his job. He approached Mr Wilson and said: Look. You are paying me for nothing. I cannot do this.’ Mr Wilson’s reply was: Ride it out, Ward. Go for walks. Work on a book for yourself. Time will correct it all and you will be accepted.’
Because of his depression and loss of self respect he approached others. Mr Morphett said: ‘Don’t let the Premier ruffle you. Stick it out. Hall must not be allowed to beat the Executive on this issue. Be prepared to be the meat in the sandwich for a little longer.’ Mr Bede Hartcher, Federal Director of the Liberal Party of Australia, expressed surprise at the Premier’s attitude and hoped that the Premier would come around. Mr Hancher wrote in one of his letters: ‘I encourage you to stay on and keep trying.’
– What is your purpose?
– My purpose is to deal with the problem that this man had and the assistance he received from the people who were pressing him in his occupation. I am referring to the assistance of a grant from a literary trust fund and how perhaps it could be extended to others. Having raised the matter I think I should continue to detail the persecution that individuals may engage in. There is no condemnation of the Liberal Party in South Australia. There is condemnation of a few small-minded vindictive individuals in
South Australia. If the honourable senators who have interjected wish to stop the exposure of such individuals they are going the right way about it by questioning whether I am entitled to raise this matter in the Senate.
– From what newspaper are you quoting?
– ‘On Dit’. I have already stated that.
– But what is the newspaper?
- Mr President, could 1 be spared these repeated interruptions?
– Order! Interjections must cease. Senator Cavanagh does not desire interjections.
– They come repeatedly from the same source but only when there is some embarrassment for the honourable senator’s Party. If the honourable senator wishes to see the newspaper I shall table it when I have finished my speech or I shall give it to him personally.
– Just tell us what it is.
– I have said it 3 times. It is ‘On Dit’, a publication of the University of Adelaide. In another letter written after Mr McNally’s dismissal Mr Hartcher wrote:
Naturally 1 was disturbed at the news for 1 bad hoped that the situation would improve . . . I am sorry we have lost you but I am very glad we had the opportunity to meet and know one another.
The report continues:
And 2 days after my leaving a reference under the letterhead of the LCL and signed by Mr Wilson arrived at my home through the post. This made a point of stressing my willingness to work and my competence as a journalist.
Honourable senators will appreciate that recognition of his ability. Mr McNally was able to leave the place where he was not wanted and to accept a scholarship for a period of 6 months. He received high praise from Mr Allan Perryman, President of the South Australian Young Liberal Movement and Mr Peter Adamson, the editor of ‘Ad Lib’, the Young Liberals’ own magazine. Mr Adamson frequently sought and obtained his help in the preparation of magazine material. On Saturday, 2lst February, the last political commentary Mr McNally was to write for the
Liberal Country League appeared in the Advertiser’. That is the date upon which his services terminated with the Liberal Country League. The report by Mr McNally states:
It was a direct, desperate appeal by me to Premier Hall to extend me some decency and allow me to work and provide for my family. In part I wrote:
Politics, in the hands of the ruling party anywhere, is a sacred trust. Every man ind woman, irrespective of their , political affiliation, is entitled to expect, and should expect, to receive fair dealing and the opportunity to work and live in dignity.’ Later I added:
Even if a man has walked away from a prison background and is working honestly to support his family his right to do this should be protected. To treat him otherwise would be the worst form of bigotry.’
The LCL accepted this commentary as representing truly their own philosophy. Yet it permitted a situation to continue which was oh the point of driving mc from my job!
Incidentally, because of my growing fear of what Premier R S. Hall might attempt against me I informed a number of prominent people of the true situation.
Mr McNally named certain people. Since then he has written a book entitled Branded’. The scholarship permitted him to write a sequel published as ‘Cry of a Man Running’, lt fully reveals his activity as an employee of the Liberal Country League in South Australia and will be published as such. His reports will show the ridiculous nature of that employment and the link with the Commonwealth organisation. On 30th July Mrs Jay, a social worker for the ‘News’, was seeking details of a visit of Mrs Gorton to Adelaide. Mr McNally had to tell her that he did not know Mrs Gorton was coming to Adelaide. Mrs Jay then told him that Mrs Gorton was attending a party at the Hotel Australia organised by the AustralianAmerican Association. The ‘News’ reporters took his position somewhat as a joke. When he applied for membership of the South Australian branch of the Australian Journalists Association his application was held in abeyance for some time, one delegate - Mr Peter Middleton - stating that his position with the Liberal Country League was fragile.
Mr McNally has great praise for such men as Mr Morphett and for Lady Elizabeth Wilson who helped him in his position. His condemnation is of the petty spite of the ex-Premier of South Australia, assisted by his Attorney-General and his Cabinet. He has had to resign his job. He has worked for 6 months on a book which he hopes will be a success and will earn royalties. At this stage he has no job to go to and because of this persecution he is again at the point of desperation. 1 make the plea that we should help a man who has been kicked if we can do so. In a letter to me dated 30th August he wrote: . . the. point has now been reached where I am forced to leave this Slate permanently to seek work elsewhere. I will move my family to wherever I settle as soon as I can. If I remain on here 1 will starve.
When he campaigned against, me, to gel me thrown out of the LCL job. Hall also was writing paid: to any hopes I may have held for another decent job in South Australia.
The literature that this man has written shows that he has great capability. We should seek on all occasions possible to lend a hand to individuals, not kick them. This man is finding it difficult to get a job in South Australia because of the activities of an individual despite the fact that he has good credentials. 1 have here a copy of the ‘Sturt Liberal’. I note that the first article in it was written by Mr Ian Wilson, the former honourable member for Sturt in the other place. An item in the ‘Sturt Liberal’ refers to him in this way:
The LCL certainly chose a winner when they appointed Ward McNally as their Public Relations Officer. Already his influence is seen in the improved ‘LCL News’, and as far as the Young Liberals are concerned, a welcome increase in our publicity. He is definitely the right man to improve our public image.
His ability as a writer is attested too by the books he has already in print and the awards he has won as a journalist and newspaper editor. His latest achievement though is perhaps the most important
Applications were received from 145 persons for the latest Commonwealth Literary Fellowship. These awards, each worth $3,000 are made to enable writers of merit to work on a specific book or similar project. Mr McNally applied for a grant to write a book (whose title he says will make you laugh) ‘Behold a Fool Fighting’.
Now, of course, it has been changed. The article continues: lt will be the sequel to one already published. The project as outlined and his past literary achievements must have been rather outstanding because they secured fur him one of only 16 awards.
For those interested the Committee who selects the winners is chaired by the Prime Minister, while the Advisory Board is chaired by Sir Archibald Grenfell Price.
Our congratulations to Ward McNally on bis latest distinction.
Mr McNally also has a letter of reference from The Liberal and Country League of South Australia Young Liberal Movement signed by Mr A. R. Ferryman, the State President. He wrote:
On behalf of the Young Liberal Movement of South Australia I would like to express our belated congratulations on your appointment as Public Relations Officer of the LCL. your vast experience in journalism will surely be an asset to the League.
We look forward to working closely wilh you in all matters of publicity and public relations.
Your help so far in your short time as Public Relations Officer has been of great assistance to Young Liberals and those responsible for publicity.
There is a letter .from a Liberal Party senator. It states:
This is a short note of appreciation of the support and assistance that you have accorded me over the last 5 months. 1 enjoyed working wilh you very much and I shall do whatever I can to assist you in any problem that arises.
The work that you did for me was more than satisfactory and certainly ou 2 or 3 occasions that I can remember you saved mc from disaster because I certainly would not have anything ready on time for the radio broadcasts.
Thank you again for your help and 1 look forward to seeing you from time to lime at LCL Headquarters.
– I rise to order, Mr President. Is there not some rule by which you can restrict a senator from going on in this way? He is making very tedious and repetitious remarks.
– Order! I do not think I can do anything about it.
– Unfortunately for Senator Webster 1 have some protection from the Standing Orders. 1 am somewhat encouraged for there are people who are not committed to the LCL. Senator Webster forgets the many hours that we listen to him boring everyone and for which we put up with him. 1 am telling a story which involves human dignity. This is the sort of story which hurts the tyrant and the persecutor of an individual. The person involved in the story happens to be a prominent member of the Liberal Party which with the Country Party of which Senator Webster is a member forms the coalition Government. This must hurt; my sympathy goes out to Senator Webster. My human reelings towards McNally are such that if I could spare Senator Webster this indignity I certainly would do so, but the story has to be told.
The General Secretary of The Liberal and Country League of South Australia, Mr Wilson, also wrote a reference. There are many other references but I think I have said enough. Mr Ward McNally is an individual with merit and ability and has succeeded in publication. We have helped him along the road. Because of a past record he has been kicked by a vindictive individual in South Australia who is being supported by his colleagues in the South Australian House of Parliament. I have raised this matter in the hope that by exposing the vindictiveness of the individual concerned we can make the road safer or easier for others who may come under the influence of that individual.
– I have never heard a more horrible diatribe than that which we have experienced in the last half hour. I want to express my utter disgust that a member of this chamber should so demean himself as to use an unfortunate person as the vehicle for an attack on highly honourable people. I know all the people to whom Senator Cavanagh has referred. I am sure he hopes in the process to gain some cheap political advantage. Senator Cavanagh shows a horribly warped attitude to public office in his method of assisting people. Mr President, I have met Mr Ward McNally. I have an admiration for that man and I have done more for him - not in connection with the particular matter referred to this evening but in others - than Senator Cavanagh obviously has ever tried to do. It hurts me deeply, Sir, to think that in this august chamber we should hear’ that which has this night fallen from the lips from Senator Cavanagh. I completely disown association with that sort of attitude in the senior House of Parliament in Australia. I deplore it deeply. That is all I wish to say about this matter.
– Like my colleague Senator McClelland, I want to make a few remarks about something which I believe has gone wrong in the Royal Australian Navy. I refer in par ticular to a Mr Ronald Carr. 1 have full permission to use his name and the details of his particular case. He lives at 29 Prosser Street, Toowoomba. He joined the Royal Australian Navy on 6th August 1946 and was discharged on 12th December 1962 with the rank of Chief Petty Officer. He was discharged because he suffered a coronary occlusion during his period of service. In fact it happened round the beginning of August 1961. After discharge from the Navy he received no help whatsoever. He received no compensation, no repatriation benefits, no medical treatment and no assistance, for all practical purposes, in obtaining employment. In order to prove that this is a perfectly genuine case I shall give a few brief details of this man’s history. He served in the Navy for more than 16 years in the capacity of a very capable musician. He served for 1 year and 8 months as a musician; for 5 years as a leading musician; for 3 years as a petty officer musician and for 6 years and 8 months of a chief petty officer musician. One of his superior officers had this to say about him:
This is to certify that Mr Ronald Carr has served in the Royal Australian Navy for a period of 16 years. During his time in the senior rating, he has been in sole charge of bands and in charge of the ceremonial and programming of massed bands. He is a superior Chief Petty Officer, and has conducted himself with sobriety and diligence at all times.
He is a most likeable man possessing a pleasant personality, intelligence and good power of expression.
During the past years he has proved himself a capable administrator, is loyal and conscientious and a credit to his profession and the Service.
I am sorry to lose him.
That was signed by his lieutenantcommander. I have written to the Minister for the Navy (Mr Killen) on this matter on two or three occasions. The Navy has disclaimed all responsibility for any disadvantages that have been suffered by Mr Carr. The Navy claims officially that his period of service had nothing to do with the disability from which he eventually suffered and which caused his discharge from the Navy. In fact, when he was discharged he was told that he would have no worries; that he could go along and see the local officers of the Department of Labour and National Service and they would fix him up with employment. He certainly was offered a job as a porter at the local railway station, lifting 56 lb boxes of butter. That was after suffering a massive coronary occlusion. So, that was the help that a grateful government and department gave to a man who had given more than 16 years of his life to the service of his country.
I have here a full record of his medical history. In 1946, shortly after his induction to the Navy, he suffered from a cold. In 1952 he had an eye examination. A few days afterwards he put in an application for spectacles.
– When did he meet King Neptune?
– If that is the only feeling of humanity that the honourable senator has, it is symbolic of the Democratic Labor Party. Here is a man who has suffered for his country. Here is a man who has suffered after 16 years of service in the Navy. Yet this belittling representative of the DLP can make only sarcastic remarks. It is not surprising that the DLP is continually sending kids to Vietnam. I am shocked by filthy language. There is a better word that I could use, but I will not do so.
In 1955 Mr Carr again had trouble with his eyes. In 1956 he suffered chest pains but there was no sign of cardiac abnormality. In 1959 he sufferede a foot infection. In 1960 his spectacles were changed. In May 1960 he had a chest X-ray which was the normal X-ray prior to re-engagement. Later that year he had an operation for a hernia. That is the basically good health record of a man who obviously was admitted to the Navy, served for this lengthy period of time and until 196.1 showed no sign of the onset of the disease that eventually brought about his discharge from the Service. Even then a doctor diagnosed the pain as cervical spondylitis. It was not until about 2 weeks afterwards that he suffered the coronary occlusion.
I am making an appeal for this man. Half our trouble in this country is that we claim that we cannot get people to serve in the respective arms of the Services, yet when people do serve we are not prepared to give them the necessary treatment on discharge - to see that they receive war service homes loans and to see that they receive repatriation treatment. This is where we fall down completely. If we were prepared to do these things we would have no need at all to conscript people for the Austraiian Services, particularly the Army, because there would be sufficient volunteers who would be prepared to make a lifetime career of the Services. 1 am sorry that the statement of this man’s disabilities caused cynical and amusing remarks to be made by probably the most indiscreet of the DLP senators - Senator Little of Victoria. It is symbolic that every time the sufferings of people are raised he uses it as a joking tournament instead of adopting a humanitarian approach to those who are less well off than he is. I trust that this matter will be investigated again by the appropriate department and that, even after these years, this man will be given the justice to which he is entitled as a former member of the Services and to which he as an Australian is entitled to receive from an Australian government.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a first time.
(10.46) - I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this Bil! is to appropriate the amounts required for expenditure in 1970-71 from the Consolidated Revenue Fund other than those amounts provided by special appropriations and the Appropriation Bill (No. 2) 1970-71. The amounts sought for each department are shown in detail in the Second Schedule to the Bill, the sum of these amounts being $2,587,171,000. This Bill seeks an appropriation of $1,474,169,000, the balance of §1,113,002,000 having already been granted under the Supply Act (No. 1) 1970-71.
The expenditure proposals of the Government were outlined in the Budget speech and the details included in the Schedule to this Bill have already been examined under the procedure whereby the Senate has taken note of the amounts included in the document ‘Particulars of Proposed Expenditure for the Service of the Year ending 30th lune 1971’ and referred them to the estimates committees for examination and report. I commend the Bill to honourable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator O’Byrne) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) read a first time.
(10.47) - I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this Bill is to provide for expenditure from the Consolidated Revenue Fund in 1970-71 on:
Details of the amounts sought by each department are shown in the Second Schedule to the Bill, the sum of these amounts being $701,470,000. An appropriation of $479,713,000 is sought in this Bill, the balance of $221,757,000 having already been granted under the Supply Act (No. 2) 1970-71. The main points regarding the proposed expenditure were dealt with in the Budget Speech. The Schedule to the Bill is the same as that contained in the document ‘Particulars of Proposed Provision for Certain Expenditure in respect of the year ending 30 June 1971’ which has already been examined in some detail by the Senate estimates committees. I commend the Bill to honourable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator O’Byrne) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Cotton) read a first time.
– I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time. Mr President, this Bill provides for the validation until 30th April 1971 of Customs duties collected in pursuance of Customs Tariff Proposals introduced into the Parliament since 22nd May last. The Tariff Proposals relate to reports by the Tariff Board or Special Advisory Authority tabled in the Senate as follows: In May - factice, screws for wood, centrifuges, weighing machinery and weights, extrusion presses; in June - -alginic acid and its derivatives, artificial christmas trees; in August - sorbitol and mannitol, alloy steel, high carbon steel and electrical steels, calcium carbide, relays, cinematograph projectors, breathing appliances and artificial respiration apparatus, vulcanised rubber sheet, etc., footwear with non-leather uppers, etc.; in September - pencils, crayons and chalks; and in October - vinyl acetate, cellulose acetate flake (Interim Report: Industrial Chemicals and Synthetic Resins - Review); gauze, cloth, grill etc., of copper or copper alloy wire; nitrogenous fertilisers (Interim Report: Industrial Chemicals and Synthetic Resins - Review).
Other changes in the Tariff Proposals related to variations in duty rates on goods coming within the New Zealand and Australia Free Trade Agreement and extensions of the concessions accorded to less developed countries. Honourable senators will appreciate that legislation to enact the Tariff Proposals could not be properly debated before the Senate goes into recess and hence a validation Bill to continue the collection of the new duties is necessary. I would hope that it will be possible for the Bill to enact these and other changes made while the Senate is in recess to be introduced early in the next session. This should enable honourable senators to debate Australia’s tariff policy at length as well as the particular Tariff Board reports on which the tariff amendments are based. I commend the Bill.
– This Bill authorises the collection of Customs duties covering a variety of commodities. The Senate hasbeen given an assurance that next session opportunity will be given for a full debate. This is purely a machinery measure which meets with the approval of the Opposition.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without requests or debate.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Cotton) read a first time.
– I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
At this late hour, with the concurrence of honourable senators I incorporate my second reading speech in Hansard.
This Bill concerns financial grants to the States over the next 3 financial years to accelerate the measurement of the flow of rivers and the investigation and measurement of underground water resources. Honourable senators will know that, as a result of a recommendation by the Australian Water Resources Council, the Commonwealth and State governments in 1964 adopted an accelerated programme of surface and undergound water investigations. The aim of the programme is to achieve a comprehensive basic network of stream gauging stations and to improve knowledge of undergound water resources. Besides implementing its own accelerated programme in the Northern Territory, the Commonwealth has assisted State programmes by making available grants totalling up to $2. 75m over the 3-year period 1964-65 to 1966-67 and up to $4.5m over the 3-year period 1967-68 to 1969-70.
With regard to surface water, during the 3-year period of the States Grants (Water Resources) Act 1964, programmes submit’ ted by the States for stream gauging activities provided for the improvement of 163 existing stations andthe construction of 368 new stations, and annual expenditure increased from less than $lm in 1962-63 to $1.8m in 1966-67. Of the latter figure, the Commonwealth provided over one-third. Total expenditure by Commonwealth and States in the 3-year period was approximately $4.9m. During the next 3-year period 1967-68 to 1969-70, over 470 existing stations were upgraded and about 500 new stations were constructed. Total expenditure during this period increased to approximately $7.4m of which the Commonwealth contributed $2. 5m. There arc now about 2,100 stations operating and useful records are available from a further 460 which have been discontinued since 1960 for a variety of reasons.
With regard to investigation of underground water, annual expenditure increased from approximately $1m to about $2. 2m during the first 3-year period. Of the latter figure, the Commonwealth provided $350,000. Total expenditure in the 3-year period was approximately $5. 8m. Corresponding expenditure for the 3-year period 1967-68 to 1969-70 was approximately $7.9m of which the Commonwealth provided $2m. Rapid progress has been made with the work of underground water assessment, and the value of this was strikingly demonstrated in several regions during recent severe droughts.
The success of the overall programme is exemplified by the fact that the States have in the last few years undertaken programmes considerably in excess of requirements to attract the full Commonwealth subsidy. This has been particularly so in the case of underground water. The Governments involved have reason to be well satisfied with the progress made so far. However, it was apparent to the Water Resources Council that, if the objectives of the programme as envisaged were to be achieved, a further expansion of effort was needed, and this is reflected in the programmes planned by the Slates for this and the next 2 years. The surface water programmes total $8. 5m, which is an increase of Sl.lm on the programmes for the period just completed.
Apart from a general increase in the cost of materials and labonr which has occurred since the original estimates were made, the State authorities are experiencing a rise in the unit cost of establishing and operating each stream gauging station as these activities extend into the more remote areas, and involve the more difficult streams. The underground water programmes total $10.3m which is an increase of S2.4m on the programmes covered by the 1967 Act.
The Government now proposes to make available a total of over $8.2m by way of grants to the States, to assist in achieving the planned programmes in the next 3 years. This figure represents an increase of 80 per cent over the level of Commonwealth aid in the past 3 years and a threefold increase in assistacce from the first 3-year programme. In making this increased contribution, the Commonwealth contemplates that the States will increase their own contributions, in order that the objectives endorsed by the Water Resources Council may be achieved. The current legislation does not of course, cover the Northern Territory. The Minister for the Interior (Mr Nixon) has made appropriate arrangements for the programme of water resources measurement to be continued in the Northern Territory.
The distribution of Commonwealth funds over the 3 years is set out in the schedules of the Bill, but for the convenience of honourable senators I give the figures briefly now. For surface water, the totals are: 1970-71- $1. 17m; 1971-72- $ 1.20m; 1972-73- $ 1.26m. For underground water, the totals are: $ 1.45m, $ 1.54m and $ 1.60m respectively.
I turn now to the Bill itself, the provisions of which are similar to the 1964 Act which it is designed to follow. Provision for grants in respect of expenditure by the States on stream gauging is contained in clause 4. Commonwealth grants will be provided, in accordance with the details specified in the First Schedule, to assist the States to attain the programme of expenditure necessary for the achievement of the aims of the accelerated programme. In respect of each State, the Commonwealth grant will be the amount by which the expenditure exceeds the base year figure, until the base expenditure is doubled, after which the grant is on a $1 for $1 basis up to the ceiling set out in the Schedule.
When the 1967 Act was drafted, the administration of the surface water programme was simplified, compared with the first 3 years, by combining the grants for capital and operational expenditures. In this Act, a further simplification is being made in that the formula for calculation of giants for underground water investigations has been made the same as for surface water as outlined above. The Commonwealth grants have been allocated between the States on the basis of the State’s own proposed programmes for both surface and underground water.
The Bill also contains a number of machinery provisions which remain the same as in the previous Bills relating to this programme. These include provision for approval of the proposed programmes by the Minister, provision for the making of advance payments to the States, and provision for submission of progress reports. Wilh regard to this programme generally, I should mention that, whereas it was originally envisaged as covering a 10-year period, the Government has agreed in principle that it should be extended for a further 3-year period beyond the one covered by this Bill, making a total of 12 years. I would envisage that the whole concept of the programme would be reviewed before the end of that period.
I should also point out that, in accordance with the policy speech of the Prime Minister (Mr- Gorton) in October last year, this programme has been brought within the compass of the national water resources development programme. Thus, the grants provided for in this Bill are part of the total allocation to be made to the States in the national water programme. The provision of works to conserve and use our water resources must be preceded by thorough investigations of the resources involved, so that adequate basic data for rational development are available. The programme of water resources assessment which all Governments are undertaking has been devised with this end in view. I have much pleasure in commending the Bill to the Senate.
Debate (on motion by Senator O’Byrne) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Sir Kenneth
Anderson) read a first time.
(10.58)- I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
This measure together with the Export Payments Insurance Corporation Bill (No. 2), the Snowy Mountains Engineering Corporation Bill (No. 2) and the Stevedoring Industry (Temporary Provisions) Bill (No. 2) all relate to similar matters. I suggest that we might take each Bill separately to the adjournment stage and then debate them as one measure. I do not think we can reach this stage tonight but if the Senate is prepared to sit a few minutes longer we will be able to get to the adjournment stage on each Bill. With the concurrence of honourable senators I incorporate my second reading speech in Hansard.
The purpose of this Bill is to provide for the fixing of remuneration for members of the Australian Film Development Corporation. Honourable senators will recall that during the autumn sittings of the Parliament 7 Bills were amended by this House or in another place. The purpose of the amendments was to provide that salaries or remuneration for the relevant holders of statutory offices would be ‘as the Parliament provides’ rather than by determination of the Governor-General. For 3 of these Bills, it was possible to meet the requirement that Parliament rather than the Government determine the salary by inclusion of provision in the Schedule to the Appropriation Bill, which has recently been before this House. I mention, for example, the remuneration of members of the Metric Conversion Board. However, a provision of this kind was not appropriate for 4 of the Acts amended during passage last May and June. This is because the 4 bodies created by the Acts meet their administrative expenses, including salaries, from funds which under the terms of the legislation are under their own control and are not provided directly or annually from the Consolidated Revenue Fund.
Accordingly, it would not be practicable to fix and appropriate the relevant salaries or remuneration in the Schedule to the annual Appropriation Acts. The Bill now under consideration - the Australian Film Development Corporation Bill - provides that section 8 of the Act is to be amended so as to specify the rates of remuneration for members of the Corporation. This means that the Parliament itself, rather than the Government, is determining the rate for members of the Corporation. The new provision will apply to all payments - payments, that is, of sitting fees - to members of the Corporation, thereby making it unnecessary to promulgate the regulations which were to have provided the remuneration until 1st January next year.
The fees which it is the sole purpose of this Bill to authorise are, for the Chairman of the Film Development Corporation, $40 for a meeting of 3 hours or more and $25 if the meeting lasts less than 3 hours. Other members of the Corporation are to be paid $35 for a meeting of 3 hours or more, $20 if it takes under 3 hours. I add that I propose to introduce immediately following this Bill 3 further Bills which have the same object. In these cases also, the amendments made by the Parliament during May and June are such that the salaries required can only be paid after 1st January next if the Parliament has in some way provided for the payment. The 3 further Bills are the Export Payments Insurance Corporation Bill (No. 2) 1970, the Snowy Mountains Engineering Corporation Bill (No. 2) 1970, and the Stevedoring Industry (Temporary Provisions) Bill (No. 2) 1970.
Debate (on motion by Senator Willesee) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) read a first time.
(1 1.0) - I move:
With the concurrence of honourable senators, 1 incorporate my speech in Hansard. ] have explained the background to this Bill in my second reading speech on the Australian Film Development Corporation Bill. By this Bill the Parliament will fix the salaries for the Commissioner, and any Acting Commissioner, of the Export Payments Insurance Corporation. The salary of the Commissioner is fixed al $16,931 a year. The salary for the Acting Commissioner is the same - $16,931.
Debate (on motion by Senator Willesee) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) read a first time.
(11.1) - I move:
With the concurrence of honourable senators, I incorporate my speech in Hansard. 1 have explained the background to this Bill in my second reading speech on the Australian Film Development Corporation Bill. By this Bill the Parliament will fix a salary for the Assistant Directors of the Snowy Mountains Engineering Corporation at the rate of $15,592 a year, lt is not necessary at this stage to determine the salary for the Director of the Corporation. This is because the duties of the position of Director will for the time being be carried out by the person holding the office of
Commissioner of the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority. The Bill lays down that any salary payable to the Director will be as the Parliament provides. An appropriate further Bill will have to be introduced when the need arises to determine a salary for the Director.
Debate (on motion by Senator Willesee) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) read a first time.
(11.2) - I move:
That the Bm bc now read a second time.
With the concurrence of honourable senators, I incorporate my speech in Hansard. I have explained the background to this Bill in my second reading speech on the Australian Film Development Corporation Bill. By this Bill the Parliament will fix the salary for the Director of the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority. The salary of the Director will be $11,822 a year. This is the same as the salar)’ for officers at Level I in the Second Division of the Public Service.
Debate (on motion by Senator Willesee) adjourned.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Laucke) - Order! It being after M p.m., in conformity with the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate, I formally put the question:
Thai the Senate do now adjourn.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 11.4 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 28 October 1970, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1970/19701028_senate_27_s46/>.