27th Parliament · 2nd Session
The ACTING PRESIDENT (Senator Wood) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
Senator DOUGLAS MCCLELLANDI present the following petition from 70 citizens of the Commonwealth.
To the President and Members of the Senate in Parliament assembled. The petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
Pre-school and after-school education facilities are an urgent need within the Australian community. The shortage has become more acute as more mothers join the work force.
In advanced countries pre-school and afterschool education are recognised as essential aspects of education for all children. Your petitioners most humbly pray that the Senate and the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled will take immediate steps to provide the necessary finance to enable State education departments and local government authorities to establish:
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray.
Petition received and read.
– 1 ask the Minister representing the Treasurer a question. I refer to the fact that the latest statistical bulletin on the labour force released by the Bureau of Census and Statistics omits a breakdown of migrant unemployment by year of arrival in Australia. Was this information, which appeared in the previous bulletin, meant to be included? Does the blacking out of certain words on the front page of the bulletin relating to this breakdown indicate that the decision to omit these figures was a last minute decision made as a result of outside directions? What was the reason for the omission from the bulletin of the breakdown of migrant unemployment?
– These matters are not known to me because although the bulletin has come into my office, I have not yet opened it to have a look at it. I cannot say whether what the honourable senator says is correct, nor can I in any way give any warrant to his assumptions. However, the honourable senator can expect from me a very quick inquiry into the situation and the reason for a change, if any has been made.
– I ask a question of the Minister representing the Treasurer. I preface my question by saying that there has been a lot of speculation that if the Government is returned to office after the Federal elections a budget may be brought down in February or March - at least before August next year - to remove the recent tax concessions. Can the Minister say that under no circumstances will the tax be re-applied during the period of the Budget?
– Although I only represent the Treasurer, I would have no hesitation in giving a complete and utter denial to that proposition.
– Can the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service say whether farmers and rural workers who have registered under the rural aid scheme are classified as unemployed? If so, can he say how many have applied for aid and what effect their applications have on the percentage figures of unemployment in Australia?
– Farmers and rural workers who obtain employment by reason of the benefits provided in non-metropolitan areas are not classified as unemployed. Of approximately 99,000 unemployed who were registered at the end of July last, about 42,000 were registered in non-metropolitan areas - that is to say, areas generally outside the capital cities. Of those 42,000, on the basis of occupation categories, the number of rural workers was about 2,500.
– Does not the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs think that the attitude of the Greek Government to the military service obligations in that country of Greek born Australian citizens visiting their homeland, coupled with the hard line attitude of the Greek monetary commission in relation to the right of Greek residents in Australia to share in legacies emanating from Greece, justifies an early confrontation between the Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs and his Greek counterpart, particularly as Australia has been very liberal as regards remittances from Australia to Greece?
– Before referring to the particular trend of the honourable senator’s question I think I should say that this morning I was provided with a note as to the obligations of Greek nationals for military service insofar as those obligations apply to people of dual nationality. Greek dual nationals born in Australia or dual nationals born in Greece who departed for Australia before they were 11 years of age may enter Greece and stay for a period of one year less one day without incurring military obligation. Other Greek dual nationals born in Greece may stay for only 3 months less one day without incurring military obligation. Both categories may redeem this military service by payment to the Greek Government of an amount to be determined, provided that they exercise this right before the date on which the first group of conscripts is called up after the date of their arrival in Greece. Other countries which require military service by Australian citizens who hold dual nationality include France and Italy. 1 thought that I should give the Senate that general note, which was provided in the ordinary course of departmental routine, because of the current news about one person being detained in Greece yesterday. Senator Mulvihill suggested that the Australian Government should concern itself in what he referred to as a confrontation but what J, with my characteristic diplomacy, would prefer to call a consultation with the Greek Government. I shall refer that suggestion to the Minister for Foreign Affairs for his personal decision.
– Is the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs aware of the allegation that Jewish academics and professionals in Russia who apply for exit visas to return to Isreal are forced to pay a form of ransom to obtain such visas? Is the Minister further aware of the claim that a fixed scale of ransom exists, varying according to the qualifications of the person; for example, a university graduate, 12,200 roubles, a technical institute graduate, 7,700 roubles and a graduate of an institute of arts, 9,600 roubles? Is there any substance in these allegations which, if correct, are a flagrant breach of article 13 of the Declaration of Human Rights? If the allegations are correct, will the Government use every lawful process to expose this obnoxious practice to the world and to seek its immediate termination?
– Yes, I am aware of the allegations to which the honourable senator refers. The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, though, has published no details of the fees which are allegedly charged although according to Press reports - I emphasise that the basis of this statement is only the Press - the fees range from $A5,000 for the holder of a bachelor degree to $A20,000 for the holder of a doctorate degree. With regard to the other matter to which the honourable senator referred, I am not in a position to confirm the allegations that have been made but the Department of Foreign Affairs is making inquiries. Until they have been confirmed, it would not be appropriate to speculate on what action, if any, the Government might take.
– I direct a. question to the Attorney-General. In view of the mounting public concern about foreign ownership and control of Australian industries and resources, takeovers and dangerously high foreign capital inflow, can he tell the Senate which of the confusing indications given by the Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister, the Treasurer and himself can be taken to be the Government’s course of action in this vital area? Can he give the Senate any indication as to when this confusion will be cleared away and a real statement of Government policy brought down?
– I am sure that we are all gratified to find the interest which members of the Australian Labor Party are taking in having a clear statement as to what is the policy of the Government with regard to this matter. I would suggest only that they might have a look at their own policy to make clear to the Australian public precisely what it is that the ALP suggests. As far as the Government is concerned, any confusion which the honourable senator senses is a confusion in his own mind. I think that the Prime Minister has made the position of the Government perfectly clear. There is a general policy that the approach to foreign investment is one which we exercise with the greatest caution. We believe that as far as possible Australian enterprise and Australian development should be financed from Australian sources. But we recognise that that cannot be always done. The Government has indicated in action it has taken with regard to the MLC Insurance Co., the uranium mining companies and broadcasting and television that in particularly significant areas it has imposed a limit on the amount of overseas ownership. With regard to the whole problem - a problem which has vexed many countries in relation to which, for example, Canada took some 5 years and several reports before she came down with a policy - the Government will proceed on the basis of the closest examination. The Prime Minister has said repeatedly that the Government will make no precise determination until it has received the papers which the Treasurer has assured the Government will be provided and which the Prime Minister has indicated he anticipates receiving very shortly.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Civil Aviation; it might have some relativity to the portfolio of the Minister representing the Minister for Supply. Has Australia yet developed a capacity to design and construct a jet aircraft which could ultimately replace the turbo-prop type currently in use in Australia and which would be capable of using airports now suitable for the Fokker Friendship F27 but not for the larger jets? What encouragement would be given by the Government towards such a project, especially since there is no known medium small jet aircraft anywhere in the world with a capacity of 20 to 30 passengers and, therefore, no known suitable replacement for the F27 which is compatible with the structural standards of airports now capable of taking this aircraft? Finally, would not such a project for which one would expect to find a ready world market be a most worthwhile undertaking for the Australian aircraft industry which in terms of light aircraft design and manufacture might be claimed in some respects to have led the world?
– The Department of Civil Aviation in particular is interested, and always has been, in an aircraft which would more efficiently and more quickly serve the medium load situation which is very common to many country areas. Aircraft have tended to get larger and faster and they are a bit harder to fill in areas where the traffic is not so heavy as it is in others. Therefore we have to look at this situation from both within our own organisation and around the world. We are currently looking at it. I would need to make inquiries from other Government departments which are involved, such as the Department of Supply, before I can answer the balance of the question. However, I would say that this is a matter which will interest the Department and myself.
– My question, which is directed to the Minister for Works, refers to the building of a Commonwealth centre in Adelaide and to the Minister’s own support for this project made in answers to questions some years ago. I ask: Has any progress been made in investigating the early possibility of building such a Commonwealth centre to house the 27 departments which are now in premises leased from private persons? Has any consideration been given to developing with the State Government a joint building which might as a temporary measure accommodate some of those Commonwealth departments and some of the State departments now housed in private buildings?
– I hope that the honourable senator will not resent my saying that the Commonwealth centre in Hobart is proceeding according to plan, within the money, and employment is going up. We have just announced plans for large Commonwealth centres for Melbourne and Sydney. The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works is at present, I think, reporting, or has reported on them.
Adelaide presents more difficulty. This question would be more properly addressed to my colleague the Minister for Civil
Aviation in his capacity as the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior, who has the responsibility for initiating proposals of this character. The Department of Works gives advice as to the cost and the practicability of developing a proposal and then supervises the construction. My colleague would permit me to say that this question about Adelaide has been the subject of continuous consideration, but so far as I know, no definite proposals have been put forward. In regard to the honourable senator’s reference to consultation with the State Government, let me say thatI have no knowledge of that. If there is anything further to be added to the answer that concerns my Department,I will supply it to the honourable senator.
– My question is directed to the Attorney-General. I ask: Is it a fact that an Opposition spokesman, said to be the shadow Minister for Labour, stated last week in the House of Representatives that he believed that striking unionists should be free from the threat of civil action should such strikers break the law during a strike? Would such a proposition clearly indicate that it is the desire of the Australian Labor Party to place striking unionists above and beyond the law? Can it be inferred that a Labor government would seek to pursue–
-I raise a point of order. I suggest that if the honourable senator is quoting a statement by the shadow Minister for Labour he should quote the whole of it, completely in context, and not part of it as he is now doing.
– Mr Acting President, there is some restriction on honourable senators quoting from documents.
The ACTING PRESIDENT-I t is in order for honourable senators to quote from material so long as they give the general synopsis of the matter.I think it would be impossible for everybody to quote in full. Actually copious quotations are not supposed to be made during question time.
– I proceed with my question: Can it be inferred that a Labor government would desire to pursue such exemption for certain law breakers should Labor gain office? Does the attitude of certain members of the Opposition in both Federal and State Parliaments give the Attorney-General concern as to the interests of the community in attempting to uphold the law should Labor ever gain office?
-I have read the debate in the other place andI saw the statements attributed to Mr Clyde Cameron who, I understand, is the shadow Minister for Labour in any future Labor government, if that should occur. I cannot recall precisely what Mr Clyde Cameron said, except that in broad terms he sought to justify by way of historical example the case which is being put up by the Labor Party to give unions and unionists immunity from civil action for certain wrongs they may commit in the course and in furtherance of industrial disputes. I think the significant feature of the attitude of the Labor Party is that it would advance such a proposition. It would be putting unions and unionists above the law because it would be excusing them, when they took certain action in the course of industrial disputes, from the consequences of their wrong doing - consequences that apply to every other citizen in the land. If that is not putting unionists above the law then our understanding of words needs to be reexamined. I can only say generally that the Australian Labor Party in this Senate, when the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill was before the Senate earlier this year, moved an amendment to the Bill which would have put into the Bill precisely the provisions which the Labor Party has as its policy and which would have the consequences that I have already outlined. That, following on what Senator Webster asked me, does have the effect of indicating that a Labor government, if one were ever in office, would be concerned to give privileges to those it favours and those upon whose support it depends. It would put unions above the law and that, I believe, Australian people will not tolerate.
– My question is addressed to the Attorney-General. I draw the attention of the Minister to the report of the Auditor-General for 1970-71 criticising delays in returns from the Commonwealth Superannuation Board. I ask him whether he is aware that in this year’s Auditor-General’s report, in the section dealing with the Commonwealth’s Superannuation Fund, the Auditor-General says:
In my 1970-71 report the view was expressed that the protracted delay in furnishing financial statements was a matter for concern. The further 12 month delay, coupled with the fact that financial statements for 1969-70 and 1970-71 are still outstanding, is evidence of a most unsatisfactory position which calls for effective action to ensure that financial statements are produced for audit examination at the earliest possible date.
As there are funds exceeding $400m under the administration of the Superannuation Board, can the Minister advise the Senate whether the Board should not be called before the Parliament to explain the inordinate delay?
– This is a curious question, because it seeks advice from me as to whether certain persons should be called before the Parliament. If any person at any time is to be subjected to the highly unusual step of being called before the Parliament - it is highly unusual - it would be a decision of the Parliament and not of any one Minister. Insofar as what is implicit in the question might be seeking some legal opinion, 1 know that the honourable senator would not wish me to answer a question contrary to the Standing Orders.
The ACTING PRESIDENT- Before we proceed further with questions I should like to make it clear, in view of the type of question being asked, that questions must seek information or press for action within a Minister’s responsibility. I suggest that if we keep within those bounds we will be in a safe area so far as questions are concerned.
– Is the Minister representing the Minister for Health aware of the concern expressed by the paramedical professions that their patients are unable to attract the Commonwealth benefit under the existing national health scheme? Will the Minister urge the Government to revise the Act so that physiotherapy, dentistry and optometry are included in order that patients seeking treatment from such professions will be able to receive Commonwealth assistance similar to that afforded to patients of the medical profession?
– The honourable senator will be aware that the .medical benefits scheme was introduced to provide financial assistance towards meeting the cost of medical services rendered by qualified medical practitioners to persons who are members of medical benefits organisations. That is the whole core of our health scheme in this area. Commonwealth medical benefits are available only in respect of those professional services which are listed in the various schedules to the National Health Act. Paramedical services such as physiotherapy, dentistry and optometry to which the honourable senator has referred are not included in that list of professional services. The basic reason why the Government has always said that they are not included - I repeat that this is the basic reason - is the cost involved. There would be an enormous extension of costs if they were to be included. There are other considerations as to the difficulties of how a satisfactory scheme under which persons legitimately entitled to have the costs to those services met could be formulated. I give the Senate an example of this. In 1972-73 Commonwealth expenditure on health from the National Welfare Fund is estimated to be $592m - that is the Government’s contribution - which represents an increase of about $65m over the amount expended in 1971-72. It is obviously a very large amount and the question of adding to it by providing benefits for paramedical services would need to be very carefully considered. That consideration has been given from time to time over the years and the question is kept constantly under review. Nevertheless some registered organisations do pay an ancillary benefit towards the cost of paramedical services. Whether such benefits are provided, and the extent to which they are provided, however, is a decision for the managements of the particular organisations.
– My question is addressed to the Acting Leader of the Government in the Senate. In relation to the Government’s belated announcement of an inquiry into poverty, is it a fact that Professor Henderson said today on the AM’ programme on Australian Broadcasting Commission radio that he would be unable to make any interim report before Christmas? If recommendations cannot be made before the election, what guarantee have the people of Australia that the recommendations by Professor Henderson will be carried out? Will the Government give a firm assurance now that the recommendations made by Professor Henderson will be implemented, and that this long-needed inquiry will not be used as an election gimmick by a desperate government on the eve of dismissal?
-BROCKM AN- Surely the honourable senator does not expect Professor Henderson to go into this very wide field of investigation and to make a report within a couple of months, even an interim report. I would have thought that every one of us, both on the Government side and on the Opposition side, would be looking to Professor Henderson to give us a very full and detailed report of his findings.
I did not hear the programme to which the honourable senator has referred, but I did hear Professor Henderson being questioned earlier on radio this morning, and he said he expects 2 years to elapse before he presents his report. I hope that every facility will be afforded to him to carry out the job that we all want him to do.
– My question is directed to the Attorney-General. Has he seen Press reports attributed to Senator Murphy that the Government’s refusal to allow further registration of foreign-owned shares in 2 uranium companies was an excuse for non-action? As the Government has taken a very firm stand regarding overseas shareholdings in uranium companies and in view of the Minister’s recent strong statement, how does such a comment ‘an excuse for non-action’ relate itself to current Government policy?
-I did see a Press report of the comment to which Senator Young has referred and which was attributed to Senator Murphy. I also saw other comments in which the honourable senator suggested that there should be some law and order in this field and that I could give some attention to this. I found both those statements highly curious and difficult to understand. The reason for them was simply the statement made over the weekend that in the administration of the ordinances relating to uranium mining companies, under which there is a limit on the amount of overseas ownership, the experience of the last 6 months is that there has been a drop in the level of overseas ownership in these companies. The statement was made to indicate that that had occurred and also to indicate that notwithstanding the prohibitions of the ordinance there is currently a slight excess above the level of overseas ownership of foreign shareholders. Foreign buyers were still buying these shares and the statement was made to point out to these people that the transactions would not be registered. It was a prudent step, taken to inform the people concerned. Why it should lead to this reaction from Senator Murphy, as reported in the Press - I think an honourable senator from the Opposition side asked me a question along the same lines yesterday - I am unable to understand. I think we can all derive satisfaction from the way in which the administration of the ordinance has achieved its results.
– I ask the Minister representing the Acting Minister for Health whether it is a fact that doctors in 5 country areas of New South Wales are refusing to work under the pensioner medical scheme and carry out government medical officer services. Has the Minister seen a statement attributed to the New South Wales DirectorGeneral of Health that the doctors have achieved medical monopolies in the 5 centres by a loose federation or a more structured arrangement of group practices and that they are also refusing to perform Commonwealth medical duties of examining repatriation patients and applicants for pensions? Can the Minister say which areas of New South Wales are affected by the decision of these medical practitioners? What action is being taken by the Commonwealth Department of Health to ensure that pensioners, repatriation patients and people who are members of family health insurance schemes are not being penalised by this selfish attitude on the part of such medical practitioners?
– I must say that 1 am unaware of any of the matters to which the honourable senator has referred. I suggest that he put his question on the notice paper so that the Minister for Health or, until he returns, the Acting Minister for Health, can examine the matters and give the honourable senator a proper answer. I know from experience during the short time when I was Minister for Health that this situation arose in a New South Wales country area. It was resolved by processes of consultation. I think that if what is alleged is occurring it is reprehensible. It is a matter of which the professional organisations of the doctors themselves should take note, because I think it would be quite wrong for medical practitioners not to make their services available to pensioners in accordance with the terms of the pensioner medical service.
– My question, which is directed to the Attorney-General, concerns the current public discussion as to the responsibilities of the Commissioners of the Australian Broadcasting Commission towards the administration and control of the ABC staff in order to ensure adequate and comprehensive programmes in accordance with the Act. I ask the Minister: Has his attention been drawn to an article headed: ‘ABC censorship move stirs new staff challenge’ which appeared in the Communist Party newspaper ‘Tribune’ of 3rd June 1970? Does this article assert that a significant number of ABC employees have set out to achieve and, in fact, have achieved, what they call workers’ control and self-management of the ABC, free of Commission control, for the purpose - in their words - of using the mass media for left wing ideological purposes towards a radical change in the culture of this country?
– I know that it is the obligation of the Australian Broadcasting Commission - I think that section 59 of the Broadcasting and Television Act covers this - to provide adequate and com prehensive programmes es. This is the obligation which the Par.liament has conferred upon the Commissi in. I have seen the specific article to which Senator Carrick has referred. I have seen also other articles which carry much the same impact. I think that we all should be aware of the alarming implications of this particular article. It appeared in the Communist ‘Tribune’ in June 1970. It sets out a pattern which is being followed today by many employees of the Australian Broadcasting Commission. I do not know why the commentators who make their comments on this current controversy pay no heed to what is clearly an attempt by some employees of the Australian Broadcasting Commission to determine for themselves, without control by management or by the Commission, what shall be seen and shown on Australian Broadcasting Commission stations.
– Do you believe in censorship?
– I say that if the Australian Labor Party wants to score points off the Government and does so by hitting the attempts of the PostmasterGeneral to persuade the Commission to exercise responsibility, it can do so at its peril, because what is happening in the Australian Broadcasting Commission is, in effect, an ideological activity which is designed to ensure that there will be no control of the Australian Broadcasting Commission. (Opposition senators interjecting)-
– Mr Acting President, I take a point of order. For the past few minutes, I have not been able to hear one word of the Minister’s very important answer. I ask that the Minister answer the question again as this is a matter of very grave significance.
– I support that and also rise to order. The Attorney-General should be permitted to repeat his answer in full so that the Australian electorate at large shall be clear as to his strange attitude-
The ACTING PRESIDENT- Order! That is not the basis for a point of order. I wish to make it clear - I have expressed this view before - that it is the right of every honourable senator asking a question to be heard in silence. It is correct too that the person answering a question should be heard in silence. It does not speak very well for honourable senators who will not listen to answers from Ministers. 1 ask for silence during the directing and answering of questions. If we do not get silence, the necessary steps will be taken. I call the Attorney-General.
– For some people, the truth hurts. I was indicating in response to the question that this is a matter which ought to be heeded by everybody in this Parliament and by many people outside the Parliament who are interested in this controversy. May I refer briefly to some excerpts from the article to which Senator Carrick has addressed himself to indicate the character of what is taking place?
– It is a couple of years old.
– What is the date?
– This is an article by a well known Communist in this country.
– What is the date again?
– I said earlier that it was June 1970. In fact it is 3rd June 1970. As I indicated, there is being carried through into 1972 a programme which was evident and being talked about in 1970. lt was stated in the article:
Last week, me 3 main organisations of ABC employees began united steps that could lead to a challenge to the whole present structure of bureaucratic government control of the ABC.
This article also stated:
A powerful body of mass media employees are setting their sights on a struggle, an intervention, aimed at weakening the bureaucratic grip on the ABC and carving out a degree of independence hitherto unknown.
It is therefore essential that every left and democratic organisation and individual gives energetic and public support to the ABC employees.
As I have said, members of the Australian Labor Party support that sort of programme at their peril.
When we consider the meeting which took place on 22nd August this year when a resolution was passed by the ABC employees who attended that meeting to condemn Government Ministers, we find that the ABC employees said that they objected to internal political censorship exercised either by management or by the Commission. That indicates that they themselves want to determine what goes on the ABC programmes. The whole purpose of what Sir Alan Hulme said, as Postmaster-General, during the past fortnight was to urge the Commission to exercise the responsibility and control which Parliament has given to it. That is a view in which he has the 100 per cent support of the Government.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs. Will the Minister, in order to qualify his statement on the Greek Government which he made earlier during question time in answer to a question which was not asked of him, admit that Australian citizens of Greek descent or of Greek origin have been and are being conscripted into the Greek Army if and when they return to Greece? Can he explain the Australian Government’s reluctance to protect Australian citizens against this imposition? Will the Government protest to the Greek Government? Will the Government at least pay the outrageous financial penalty which the Greek Government imposes upon Australian citizens who wish to avoid this army service? Finally, what steps has the Government taken to protect the Canberra citizen who has been conscripted into the Greek Army?
– J. remind Senator Georges that to his colleague Senator Mulvihill I said in regard to a question containing a suggestion of confrontation - I called it consultation - that I would refer the matter for the personal decision of the responsible Minister. Senator Georges has asked me a further question without notice on the wide basis of his responsibility in the Senate Opposition. He expects me to give him an answer on a matter of that sort concerning delicate affairs of relationship between the Government of Australia and the Government of Greece. I suggest that the honourable senator cool off and take a walk in the fresh air.
– Mr Acting President, I rise to a point of order. I object to the way in which the Minister concluded his answer. It was completely derogatory and an insult not only to me and to those people of Greek descent - but also to the Senate. I ask him towithdraw those remarks and to answer the question.
The ACTING PRESIDENT - I do not think there is any point of order.
– I would like to speak on this matter. I think it was a most gratuitous remark.
– Of course it was and he deserved it.
– Now the Minister has compounded the offence and the error by saying: ‘Of course it was and he deserved it’. I do not think Senator Wright should put himself up as God and judge in relation to what people do. Senator Georges asked a question in a very delicate field; because of Senator George’s background, it is more delicate. He asked a question - quite rightly - of Senator Wright and Senator Wright said that he did not accept the question and could not do anything about it. I do not think that Senator Wright’s dignity or the dignity of the Senate would be offended by his merely saying that. But to end his reply in the way he did was quite unnecessary. I think that on reflection Senator Wright would not mind withdrawing the remark. I draw your attention, Mr Acting President, to the fact that it is clearly written in all the journals that we look at in relation to the conduct of this Senate that if there is a doubt, it adds to the dignity of this place for a person, particularly a Minister, to withdraw a remark if it gives personal offence. I do not think Senator Wright would lose anything by it and 1 am certain that the Senate would not lose anything by it.
-Brocknian - While I might go along with some of what the Deputy Leader of the Opposition has said, just before be rose to his feet, Mr Acting President, you said that there was no point of order. I believe you cannot compel the Minister to answer the question in the way the Senate might like him to answer it. If Senator Wright feels inclined to change his answer, it is up to him, but at the time the Deputy Leader of the Opposition rose to his feet you said that there was no point of order to be upheld. I take the point that the Chair cannot compel the Minister to answer the question.
The ACTING PRESIDENT- Before Senator Wright rises: In case there is any suggestion of personal reflection on Senator Georges, I think the matter can be left in the hands of Senator Wright to make clear.
– By your leave, Mr Acting President, I simply make this statement: Senator Georges made reflections on the Government and imputed to it improper attitudes. He repeated a question that had been answered already for his colleague.I simply said at the close of a fairly careful reply to his question that he might accept the suggestion to cool off and take a walk in the fresh air. I repeat that suggestion.
– And I repeat my objection. I rise to another point of order, Mr Acting President, and say that the Minister has compounded his insolence. I ask him to withdraw the remark.
The ACTING PRESIDENT-I have given a ruling already that I do not think there is any point of order. Having listened to the Ministers reply, I do not think the Minister was out of order. Before we proceed any further I want to say that in the heat of politics in Parliament very often things are said that, in a quieter moment outside the political world, people might not consider saying. But in politics in Parliament very often things are said in a more heated way. It has to be realised that people who ask questions often ask them in such a way as to draw a certain type of answer. If you are prepared to fire a shot from one side you have to accept a similar shot in reply. However, having listened to the reply of the Minister I do not think he was out of order.
– Has the attention of the Attorney-General been drawn to information given by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the New South Wales Parliament that Lever and Kitchen Pty Limited and Colgate-Palmolive Pty Limited announced similar higher prices for soap powders on the same day and that neither of these companies is Australian owned, nor have they any Australian equity? Also is the Minister aware that 3 companies making vitreous china - R. Fowler Limited, Doulton Potteries Pty Limited and Armitage Ware Limited - each made similar price rises on the same day on 3 occasions since early last year resulting in price increases in these articles of approximately 36 per cent in that time? Will the AttorneyGeneral act to investigate fully the serious charges which would seem to show how continuing price collusion adds greatly to inflation despite the restrictive trade practices laws?
– I must confess that I found the honourable senator’s question very difficult to follow. I suggest that he put it on the notice paper so that I can examine it, and I will endeavour to get him an answer to it as soon as I can.
– Has the Acting Minister for Health seen a report of a speech made yesterday in the New South Wales Parliament claiming that most breakfast foods have no nutritional value whatsoever and that the manufacturers were engaged in what was described as artificial advertising? I ask the Minister, firstly, whether there is any truth in the nutritional reference. If so, will he take the matter up with the manufacturers? Will he also look into the claims made that artificial advertising has been employed? Finally, will the Minister confirm to the Senate that the breakfast food known as oatmeal porridge, on which you, Mr Acting President, and I have been reared, is full of nutritional value and requires no advertising whatsoever?
– I do not like porridge. I am not prepared or able to say whether it has nutritional value. I understand that a reference was made to this matter in the Parliament of New South Wales yesterday. I have not seen the details of it, but I understand the reference to be along the general lines that Senator Davidson has mentioned. I understand that, in the opinion of officers of the Department of Health, it would not be correct to say that most breakfast foods have no nutritional value whatever. The advertising aspect is entirely within the province of the State governments.
– Has the attention of the Minster representing the Minister for the Interior been drawn to a statement made by Mr Edmund Vestey in a recent radio interview in London, which was broadcast in Australia, in which Mr Vestey claimed that Aboriginal families were burning the new homes which his company had constructed for them in the Northern Territory? As these serious allegations have been refuted by 2 Northern Territory Aborigines, Mr Samuel McDonald and Mr Frank Webb, who have worked for Vesteys and who have many relations living on Vesteys properties, will the Minister have an inquiry made to ascertain how many new homes have been constructed for Aborigines in the last 5 years by Vesteys, what types of homes have been constructed, what has been the cost of each home and how many of these homes have been deliberately burnt down by Aborigines?
– When this question began some time ago I was asked whether my attention had been directed to a comment made in London. No, it had not been so directed by anybody until today. 1 shall direct the honourable senator’s question to the responsible Minister.
– Is the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service able to give me any further information about the Australian Labor Party’s claim for special privilege of union officers during industrial disputes, to which I referred in a question recently?
– The Senate will recall that on Tuesday of this week, I think, the honourable senator asked me whether at Townsville the Australian Labor Party had made a resolution with regard to immunity from civil action during industrial disputes. I was reminded by the answer of my colleague Senator Greenwood earlier today of a more authentic source of expression of attitude of the Labor Party upon this important matter than the resolution at the Townsville conference. In this chamber on 31st May all members of the Australian Labor Party Opposition voted for this amendment:
No action in the nature of conspiracy, breach of contract, inducing a breach of contract or other action shall lie against any person or organisation . . .
Organisation’ is the word which is used in the Conciliation and Arbitration Act to mean a trade union - . . which arises in any way in or in connection with an industrial dispute.
The use of the phrase ‘no action in the nature of breach of contract or other action’ is a wholesale declaration for the enthronement of trade unions completely free from responsibility or liability for anything arising in any way in the course of an industrial dispute. That is the degree of privilege which the Labor Party is prepared to advocate in this chamber. As Prime Minister Heath-
– Watch your blood pressure.
The ACTING PRESIDENT - Order! I ask Opposition senators to give Government speakers the same hearing as Opposition senators are given by senators on the Government side. It is quite apparent to me, as Acting President, that the barrage of interjections is coming from the Opposition. I think this is a very silly way to carry on in the Senate. I ask honourable senators to behave themselves as honourable senators should. If they do not behave I will not hesitate to take action.
– I was only going to add that this is a remarkable privilege to be claimed by a Party claiming to be a democratic party, to give to one class in our community - organisations, trade unions - freedom from any responsibility whatever in law or any action for anything in any way done in the course of an industrial dispute. That is the claim of privilege by the modern dictators of industry.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation. Is he aware of the comment reported yesterday by the National Secretary of the Returned Services League, Mr A. G. Keys, that the League would be violently opposed to any proposal like that put forward by Dr Robert Hecker in relation to the repatriation system? Without entering into the controversy aroused by
Dr Hecker’s comments, would the Government state that, as it opposes violence, it would be opposed to the RSL’s expressing or carrying out violent opposition to any proposal?
– I have seen a number of expressions in the daily newspapers in recent days by people who have either criticised or defended the Returned Services League and repatriation cases. There are 2 committees at the present time investigating this matter and I will not be drawn into any of the arguments.
– Will the AttorneyGeneral issue a warning to the public in relation to the inherent dangers in the use of the so-called do-it-yourself divorce kit being promoted by the Queensland Law Reform Association? If so, will he warn people that by its use they may fail to obtain the full rights and advantages for themselves and their children which are intended and provided by the Commonwealth Matrimonial Causes Act?
– I think that what Senator Rae has said ought to be pondered carefully because I have seen the do-it-yourself divorce kit which this Association has put out. I think that there are many pitfalls which a person will experience if he or she seeks to rely upon it and so avoid the expense - which I think would be the only reason why one would rely upon it - of engaging legally qualified practitioners to act on his or her behalf. In the first place, it is a document which requires quite a deal of interpretation even by the intelligent layman. It is a document which is related only to the ordinary, simple, straightforward divorce case and while there are indications, I understand, that more complicated divorce kits will be produced, the problems are still very considerable. The point which Senator Rae makes, that by relying upon this do-it-yourself kit people may deny themselves the rights which they and those who are dependent upon them are entitled to if their matter is properly adjudicated by the court, is a very real one. Whilst it is of concern to me and, I know, to a number of people engaged in the law that the costs of divorce actions are becoming very high,I believe that there are legal aid schemes in each of the States which provide very real assistance to those people who are faced with divorce costs. I hope that a false economy will not lead to people prejudicing themselves or those dependent upon them by believing that they are able to achieve the results they want by using one of these kits instead of going to legal practitioners. They may possibly succeed but I must say that they take a risk.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry. Is it a fact that Government officials believe that Australia’s chances of re-entering the Chinese wheat market could be destroyed by a domestic shortage and the Government’s failure to recognise the People’s Republic of China, and that China is now prepared to buy Australia’s wheat despite past political differences? Also, is it a fact that Australia has no wheat to sell and that officials are worried that by the time stocks become available China will have bought elsewhere? Is it also a fact that past quotas have placed Australia in this position? When will the Government consider lifting or raising the quotas because of this serious situation?
– It is not a fact, as the honourable member has said, and that applies right across the board to all his questions. The honourable senator will recall that in the 1968-69 season Australia faced a huge surplus after that harvest. Because of this the wheat growing industry itself in this country came to the Government with the proposition that quotas be introduced. The Government, for its part, said that it ‘will make an announcement much earlier than usual, that it is prepared to pay a first advance of $1. 10’.
In the period 1969-70 there was a quota of 357 million bushels of which growers delivered 358 million bushels. In 1970-71 the quota was 318 million bushels and growers delivered 255 million bushels. Therefore wheat harvests were very much below the quota that year. In 1971-72 the quota was 339 million bushels and growers delivered 281 million bushels. Therefore what the honourable senator surmised in this regard is not correct. This year there is a quota of 407 million bushels and it is not expected that Australia will produce anywhere near that amount.
It is my belief that the Chinese people are very shrewd bargainers. In the past they have always bought wheat at the time most suitable to them. This would be when there is a surplus about and when they have been able to fix the price of shipping. At present the Chinese are buying in the northern hemisphere from Canada. They are paying slightly more for a much higher protein wheat. However, they are in the position of getting a freight reduction in that area. In the past they have found it. a much cheaper proposition to buy wheat on the world market and to produce and sell their rice on the world market at a much higher price. I believe that rural production in China in recent times has not been as good as in past years. Therefore it is quite likely that China will be forced on the world market to purchase more wheat and then Australia stands a good chance of selling wheat to that country.
I point out to the honourable senator that by the time November is reached, when we generally look at the carryover of wheat, it is expected that Australia will have a carryover of about only 46 million bushels. This is getting down to a fairly low quantity. But I say that the sale of wheat to China is not a consideration at all as far as politics are concerned. If the Chinese believe it is good business to come into the market and buy Australian wheat they will do so whether we recognise them or not. They have done just that with alumina and sugar.
– I direct my question to the Minister representing the Treasurer. Has the Minister noticed a reported statement attributed to the Leader of the Opposition in another place in which it was stated that a Labor government would amend the tax laws to encourage Australian insurance companies to invest in approved basic insurances and developmental projects? Can the Minister say whether Australian insurance companies have invested in such enterprises? Is not the statement of the Leader of the Opposition contrary to federal Australian Labor Party policy which suggests that under a Labor government insurance companies could be nationalised?
– There is certainly some confusion in Australian Labor Party policy in this area. But that is not uncommon because there is confusion right across the board in Australian Labor Party policy. What I think that the honourable senator would like to get from me through the Treasurer is a selected pattern of investment by insurance companies in some of the great growth industries, particularly mining, in Australia. This information is available. There are one or two cases that one oan quote out of one’s head. I think I am correct in saying that the Australian Mutual Provident Society, for example, is involved in the Nabalco-Gove project. I think that this company also is involved in Mount Newman. I think that the Colonial Mutual Life Assurance Society Ltd is involved in some of these enterprises, as are the National Mutual Life Association of Australia Ltd and the Mutual Life and Citizens Assurance Co. Ltd. I think the honourable senator is referring to life insurance companies in respect of which I shall obtain information for him. These companies operate under what is called the 30/20 rule by which they are called upon to invest a proportion of the accumulated savings of the people - that is what their funds are - in enterprises that have a general government blessing. I shall obtain details for the honourable senator.
– I address a question to the Attorney-General. In view of the Minister’s reply to Senator Carrick in which he claimed that a communist plan to increase its influence over the Australian Broadcasting Commission had met with success since 1970, will he state which areas of the ABC are currently under communist influence? Is it the Government’s intention to identify the persons concerned and, if so, will they be permitted to remain in their present positions?
– The honourable senator has either misunderstood my answer or he has chosen to put the word communist’ in places where I did not. If it was done advisedly I think it is a smear on which he ought to have some reflection. I said there was an ideological group and that the reference to this ideological group and the indication of what they were doing was to be found in the Communist Party Tribune’ of June 1970. If what I then said is properly to be regarded, as Senator Wriedt said it was, as an allegation by me of communist influence, I think he is putting words where he wants to put them, possibly for some advantage which politically thereafter can be made. I stand by what I said. It can be looked at in the record and it does not need an appellation of ‘communist’ alongside it to make the damage which can be done quite clear to anybody who is concerned about the situation. I know, or I believe I know, of some of the persons who constitute this group. It is a very significant group if the numbers of persons who attend the mass meetings of employees are any indication. The policies which have been expressed by these meetings are in accord generally with the views which I expressed from this article. That makes it a matter of major concern. The Government has constantly said that the Australian Broadcasting Commission is responsible for its own affairs. Sir Alan Hulme’s dedication to the principle of autonomy of the Australian Broadcasting Commission can be verified over all the years that he has been Postmaster-General. His words have been directed towards urging the Commission to exercise control within its own domain. That is what I have said and that, as 1 said earlier, is a view to which the Government wholeheartedly subscribes.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs. Has the Minister’s attention been drawn to recent reported extracts of the speech of Cardinal Mindszenty, the Roman Catholic Primate of Hungary, in Brussels, upon the occasion of the 1,000th anniversary of the birth of St Stephen, the first Christian king of Hungary? Has the Minister noted in particular the Cardinal’s statement that ‘the years since the 1956 Hungarian uprising have been among the most tragic in modern Hungarian history’? Recognising the unique knowledge and experience of Cardinal Mindszenty to report on the postwar tragedy of Hungary, will the Minister seek to obtain the full text of the Cardinal’s address and have it made available to this Parliament, the people of Australia and, particularly, to the thousands of Hungarian and other migrants in Australia who were forced to flee from behind the Iron Curtain, so that this country shall have a further and timely reminder of the tyranny of the communist military machine?
– I have seen the report of the Cardinal’s address. With regard to bringing it to the Parliament, I shall ask the Department of Foreign Affairs to see whether we can obtain a copy and make it available in the Parliamentary Library for members of the Parliament. With regard to making it available to migrants and other sections of the public, I would encourage the greatest possible publicity to be given to this speech, having regard to the trend of it and particularly in the context of the opposite version of the Hungarian revolution which was portrayed last night in the Australian Broadcasting Commission programme ‘Khrushchev Remembers’. I would like to see the Cardinal’s version of the years that followed the Hungarian revolution brought to the attention of the Australian public so that they might consider it in the light of last night’s ABC segment of ‘Khruschev Remembers’ on the Hungarian revolution.
– My question is directed to the Acting Leader of the Government in the Senate. I understand from the answer the Minister gave to my earlier question about the inquiry into poverty that he believes that no report can be expected until after the election. Will the Minister explain how the Prime Minister was able to say on the ‘AM’ programme this morning that an interim report on the basic issues of poverty was expected before the election? Is the Minister revealing to the Senate that the Prime Minister has been misleading the Australian public in relation to the timing of the release of the interim report by Professor Henderson?
– I am doing no such thing. The honourable senator asked me whether there would be an interim report. The Prime Minister in the House of Representatives and I in this place made the announcement last night at 8.30. Therefore 1 do not see why I should presume that there will be an interim report. I will not say anything further. I will seek some information, and if any is available, I will pass it to the honourable senator.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for the Navy. I preface it by referring to the recent statement by the Minister for the Navy about new DDL destroyers and also to a Press release about prolonging the life of the aircraft carrier HMAS ‘Melbourne’ longer than had been anticipated. Is it a fact that last week, or perhaps the week before, Britain announced that it had decided, to. scrap a front line carrier - I think it is the ‘Eagle’ - which is considerably more modern than HMAS ‘Melbourne’ and whether in fact this front line carrier has been sent to the ship breakers? In the event of Australia needing an additional or a replacement carrier for HMAS ‘Melbourne’, will the Minister investigate the availability and suitability of this British front line carrier for our purposes? If this carrier should prove unsuitable for our purposes, will the Minister inquire about the availability and the suitability for our purposes of either the USS ‘Bennington’ or the USS Kearsarge’, both of which I understand may conceivably be available for acquisition?
– 1 believe that the Australian armed Services are the best of all similar sized armed Services in the world. This situation has been brought about only as a result of the high standard of men and women in those Services and the equipment which the Government seeks for the use of the Services. A close and detailed study is made of all equipment available throughout the world that would be suitable for purchase by the armed forces of Australia. When a piece of equipment is purchased, an end of life standard is placed on it and the Services try as far as possible to utilise it until that end of life standard is reached. Before the end of life standard of a particular piece of equipment is reached, however, a detailed study is made of how long the life of that piece of equipment may be prolonged as a result of renewal of parts and so on, and whether it would be economic to prolong it for some years. AllI can say to the honourable senator is that the Navy is keeping a close and detailed watch on its equipment. No doubt it is fully aware of the available equipment in the world at the present time but it would have to be a matter of whether the Navy could replace or purchase the aircraft carriers about which the honourable senator is talking and whether this fits into the 5-year rolling programme.
– I wish to ask a question of the Attorney-General concerning a matter on which he gave an answer earlier. Will the Minister say whether it is within his knowledge that the Postmaster-General was aware of the article in the ‘Tribune’ which appeared in 1970 and from which he quoted in answer to an earlier question? If the Postmaster-General was aware of the article and its implications, what course did he adopt to meet the threatened situation? Does the Australian Broadcasting Control Board or the PostmasterGeneral agree with the views expressed today by the Attorney-General? Is it now claimed that the avowed objectives as set forth in the article quoted have been achieved, substantially achieved or partly achieved or that they have been averted by a course of action adopted by the Australian Broadcasting Control Board or the Postmaster-General to meet the threat? What are the present views of the PostmasterGeneral of the situation? What does he propose to do about it?
– That was really a very long question. So far as the references to the Australian Broadcasting Control Board are concerned, presumably the honourable senator meant the Australian Broadcasting Commission. Whether the objectives of the people concerned as revealed in the article to which I have referred will or will not be achieved depends, I believe, upon the strength with which the Commission and management within the ABC face the problem and the extent to which there is general public recognition of what is taking place. As to the manyquestions asked about what the Postmaster-General knew, believes or proposes to do, I shall ask the PostmasterGeneral.
– I direct a further question to the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs. In view of his earlier concern about the political situation existing in Hungary, how would he explain to the venerable Cardinal whom he quoted how Australia justifies widening commercial interests with Hungary in view of the fears regarding the political situation existing in that country? Does it not reek of expediency?
-In all charity, I think most people would regard it as immature today to suggest that Australia should not conduct trade with communist countries.
– That is a double standard, Senator.
– In fact,I am reminded as I hear the interjection, that the Australian Labor Party is seeking to make a great feature out of the fact that it would go so far as to sacrifice friends in the Pacific - Taiwan and others - to obtain recognition from the People’s Republic of China. The Labor Party would have most of the Australian electorate believe that one of the large benefits that would come from that course is trade. I suggest to the honourable senator that we have passed the stage where Australia is so immature as not to conduct trading relations on a commercial basis with communist countries.
– I ask the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral what particular ideology he asserts is involved in the ideological group within the Australian Broadcasting Commission to which he referred in his answers to Senator Carrick and Senator Wriedt.
– There is an ideological viewpoint of which Senator Douglas McClelland is well aware. It goes under the names of Marcusian and new leftism. It finds expression in a host of bodies in this country of which, for example, the Workers’ Students Alliance is one and the Communist Party is another. A host of groups express this ideology in varying ways. In short, it is the ideology which would seek to pull down what we have at the present time and leave for the future what would be put in its place.
– My question which is addressed to either the Attorney-General or the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service follows on the answer to the question asked by Senator Webster in relation to the trade union organisation. I ask: Does the Minister believe that trade unionists should not receive the protection afforded by most modern democratic states in regard- to legitimate acts in pursuance of their registered aims as trade unionists? Is he aware that the codes of the International Labour Organisation affirm such protection in various conventions and recommendations, and that this Government is a party to that Organisation? I also ask the Minister: In his opinion should a unionist member of a registered organisation be liable for action under the civil law and also for penalties provided in. the Acts relating to arbitration in the various States of the Commonwealth? Should he, in short, be subject to 2 penalties for legitimate activity as a trade unionist?
– With the concurrence of my colleague, the AttorneyGeneral, I take the opportunity to answer the honourable senator’s question. You will have noticed, Mr Acting President, if you listened carefully to the first part of the question, that the whole verbiage which surrounded the question had as its kernel legitimate acts of trade unionists in an industrial dispute. Our adherence to the rule of law affirms protection for the legitimate acts of any person. Any act in accordance with law attracts no civil liability or penalty. So much for that point.
– But, senator, may I-
– If the honourable senator will pardon me, I will continue my answer. Senator Bishop returns to the proposition, which we now have the Labor Party on record as affirming, that no legal action shall lie against any organisation for anything which arises in any way in or in connection with an industrial dispute. This has been a contention since the Taff Vale case in 1890, vehemently propounded in the United Kingdom until, by a despicable political compromise in 1906, England gave a partial immunity in this field which Heath’s Government modified and almost abrogated - certainly abrogated last year in respect of all unregistered trade unions. At the same time, though, we erected a system of law and order. That enables me to answer the third part of the honourable senator’s question.
Our system of law and order was by means of a court, as we called it then, in the arbitration field, with arbitral jurisdiction and also law enforcement jurisdiction. By means of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission and the Commonwealth Industrial. Court we maintain today an improved system. As to whether it is proper for an action to give rise to 2 remedies, one civil compensation and the other pecuniary penalty, if I today were to strike Senator Bishop on the nose I could be prosecuted and for the offence have either a penalty inflicted or imprisonment imposed. That would not prevent Senator Bishop suing me in the civil courts tomorrow for compensation for the wrong done. There is nothing inconsistent with the ordinary law of England or of Australia to say that 2 remedies, one penal and the other compensatory, shall exist at the same time.
With regard to the reference to the International Labour Organisation, I have spoken too long. I will take an occasion later to reply to that point.
– Has the attention of the Minister representing the Treasurer been drawn to reports that many Australian companies have set up offices in Vila, New Hebrides? Has the Minister any knowledge indicating that these developments are true? What practical steps have been taken by the Reserve Bank of Australia to stop any Australian company shifting funds or its operations to any other place not under Commonwealth jurisdiction in order to avoid taxation?
– I think the honourable senator would have read, as I read, the report stating that some overseas people, not necessarily Australians - Americans were mentioned - were setting up what could be called a tax haven arrangement in Vila in the New Hebrides. It is said that there are some named accountant firms there and that these firms have practices in Australia. I do not know the view of the Reserve Bank of Australia about the transfer of funds to and from Vila. I imagine that the objective is to try to secure tax advantage and 1 know that the Treasury has been directing attention to this matter. To the extent that it is possible to get information for the honourable senator which does not breach a position which ought to be kept confidential, I shall get it for him.
– 1 direct a further question to the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration. What positive action emerged from the recent conference of State and private education directors which discussed the possibility of European and other overseas teachers being co-opted to assist Australian teachers in instructing some migrant children in inner capital city suburbs?
– The honourable senator is aware, of course, that teaching qualifications from a number of other countries, including Britain and the United States of America, already are accepted in Australia. I assume that his question refers to the national seminar on the evaluation of overseas qualifications which was arranged by the Committee on Overseas Professional Qualifications and which was held in Canberra about the middle of July this year. A number of persons came together at that seminar and all approached the evaluation of teaching qualifications on a national basis. I might mention some of the persons or organisations in attendance. There were representatives of State Education Departments, the Commonwealth Department of Education and Science, the Catholic Education Offices of Melbourne and Sydney, the Commonwealth Teaching Service, teacher registration authorities in Queensland, Tasmania and Victoria, the National Council of Independent Schools and, of course, the Department of Immigration. As a result of the evaluations made during the seminar it is being recommended to the various assessing and employing authorities that selected qualifications from the following countries could be regarded as acceptable in Australia: Chile, Denmark, Finland, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, the Philippines, Sweden and Yugoslavia.
– I ask the Acting Leader of the Government in the Senate: Is the Government aware that the United States Government has ended conscription in America and that no more young men will be called up after 30th June next year? In view of the fact that the nation which we followed so disastrously into the Vietnam conflict has ended conscription, will the Australian Government now follow the same course?
– This is a matter of policy and I cannot answer such a question during question time.
– For the information of honourable senators I present the annual report of the Commonwealth Bureau of Meteorology for the year ended 30th June 1972.
– Pursuant to section 18 of the National Debt Sinking Fund Act 1966-1967, I present the 49th annual report on the operations of the National Debt Commission for the year ended 30th June 1972. 1 seek leave to make a brief statement in connection therewith.
The ACTING PRESIDENT- Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– The National Debt Commission which was established in 1923 has general control of the National Debt Sinking Fund of the Commonwealth and States. Its operations are governed by the National Debt Sinking Fund Act 1966-67 and the financial agreement between the Commonwealth and the States. Within the National Debt Sinking Fund separate accounts are maintained for the Commonwealth and for each State. Income of the fund is derived largely from statutory contributions from revenue by the Commonwealth for the Commonwealth sinking fund and by the Commonwealth and States for the States’ sinking funds. Payments out of the Fund are made in accordance with decisions of the Commission.
The Commission’s report for 1971-72 shows that receipts of the National Debt Sinking Fund in that year amounted to $300m. Expenditure of the Fund during the year also totalled $300m, of which $178m was on behalf of the Commonwealth and $122m on behalf of the States. The cash balance of the Fund at 30th June 1972 was $51m, approximately the same as at 30th June 1971. Expenditure of the Fund in Australia amounted to $244m and expenditure overseas to $56m. In Australia some $139m was applied to redemption of Treasury notes, $89m to redemption of maturing securities, $8 to market repurchase and $7m to redemption of miscellaneous securities. Expenditure on redemption and repurchases of debt overseas included $13m in London, $28m in New York and $lm in Canada and the Netherlands. In addition, there were repayments of $13m to the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development. Total expenditure of the Sinking Fund in respect of Commonwealth debt since the inception of the Fund in August 1923 has amounted to $2,867m. Expenditure from the Fund in relation to States’ debts up to 30th June 1972 amounted to $l,709m.
Motions (by Senator Drake-Brockman) - by leave - agreed to:
That Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson be granted leave of absence for 2 weeks on account of ill health.
That Senator Sir Magnus Cormack be granted leave of absence for 2 weeks on account of ill health.
Debate resumed from 29th August (vide page 509), on motion by Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson:
That the Senate take note of the following papers:
Civil Works Programme 1972-73. Commonwealth Payments to or for the States, 1972-73.
Estimates of Receipts and Summary of Estimated Expenditure for the year ending 30 June 1973.
Particulars of Proposed Expenditure for the Service of the year ending 30 June 1973. Particulars of Proposed Provision for Certain Expenditure in respect of the year ending 30 June 1973.
Government Securities on Issue at 30 June 1972.
Commonwealth Income Tax Statistics for Income Year 1969-70. National Income and Expenditure, 1971-72
Upon which Senator Wriedt had moved by way of amendment:
At end of motion add - but the Senate condemns the Budget because it fails to define adequate economic and social goals for Australia; and in particular because it provides no programme for restoring full employment, no means of checking the costs and prices of goods and land, no framework for improving the standards of education, health, welfare and public transport and no national plan for our capita] cities and regional centres’.
– When the debate was interrupted last night I had been reminded by my colleague Senator Webster that perhaps the muteness of the Australian Labor Party over the Budget was because its supporters really believe the claim that it is a rich man’s Budget and therefore so many of them stand to gain from it. However, I cannot accept this proposition. Despite Senator Poke reading from the Budget Speech of the Treasurer (Mr Snedden) to try to prove the contrary, it sets out quite clearly the reductions in taxation over a wide range of incomes, and it proves quite clearly that the income tax concessions are aimed to benefit the lower income workers and those with families. I do not intend to go right through this document, but I propose to look at 2 or 3 examples. If we look at the percentage decreases in taxation - after all, it is the percentage decreases that are important - we find that a taxpayer with a dependent wife and 2 dependent children and earning a formerly taxable income of $2,808 will now pay tax on only $2,652.
The percentage decrease in his tax payment will be 22.3.
The taxable income of a man with a dependent wife and 2 dependent children of $5,124 now drops to $4,968. The percentage decrease in his tax payment will be 15.3. The percentage decrease for a taxpayer with the same taxable income but with a dependent wife and 4 dependent children will be 19.2. In the higher brackets of taxable income - there would be very few, if any, honourable senators on this side of the chamber in these brackets - the percentage decrease on a taxable income of $18,000 for a man with a dependent wife and 4 dependent children will be only 9.1. If we take those figures as meaning anything, they show quite clearly that the objective of the taxation decrease is to help those people on lower incomes and not those people on higher incomes. Therefore it would be very difficult to sustain the argument put forward by Mr Whitlam, and he made no attempt to sustain it.
I deal now with 2 or 3 matters in the Budget which gave me particular pleasure. One was the substantial increase in social service benefits, coupled with the further easing of the means test with the ultimate objective of abolishing it within 3 years. In fairness I should say that honourable senators on all sides of the chamber have been advocating this for some time. No-one advocated it with greater force in recent times than the Minister for Social Services (Mr Wentworth). The other matter to which I make reference is the new rates of estate duty coupled with the increased exemptions in the field of gift duty. I think those 2 matters should be coupled. For years many honourable senators on this side of the chamber have been advocating such a step. Prior to my election to the Senate I was urging on various committees 2 things. One was a reduction in estate duty by both Commonwealth and State. In recent times I have shown by my vote that I believe that the Commonwealth should vacate the field of estate duty. This move is in the right direction and is a move towards, I would hope, an ultimate decision by the Commonwealth to vacate the field. The move certainly will be of great benefit to a large number of people, particularly in the rural industries.
I suppose that the great question posed by the Budget is whether people will accept the increased purchasing power and will spend to get the economy moving and not continue to save. This is a matter of confidence. I believe that the Budget should provide the confidence for the community to start spending again. The only matter that worries me is the continued threat of inflation. The Treasurer noted that there had been a modest abatement. Inflation will at all times require very careful watching. We do not want to see the increased purchasing power being eroded by ever increasing prices.
Having spoken on matters relating to the Budget, I am provoked to refer now to the economic situation in Western Australia. I am provoked to do so by the efforts of Opposition members in another place who have been attacking the Commonwealth Government and claiming that it is responsible for the present rather difficult economic situation in Western Australia and the relatively high rate, by Australian standards, of unemployment. This unemployment situation is a terribly interesting one because under Labor governments the States of Western Australia, South Australia and Tasmania have the highest levels of unemployment in Australia. Western Australia has the highest level at 2.99 per cent, South Australia has the second highest level at 2.39 per cent and Tasmania has the third highest level at 2.38 per cent. If my arithmetic is correct, the average for the 3 Labor governed States is 2.59 per cent. Let me be fair and say that in Western Australia there are local conditions which provide some cause for concern, but they do not provide the cause of the exceedingly high rate of unemployment. The slow-down in the mining areas has created some economic problems in the State. In the States governed by non-Labor governments there is a different story. In Queensland the percentage of unemployment is 1.39, in New South Wales it is 1.66 and in Victoria it is 1.65. The average for the 3 non-Labor governed States is 1.57 per cent. So, there is a 1 per cent difference between the unemployment figures for Labor governed States and those for non-Labor governed States.
I would imagine that if Commonwealth policy were responsible for the high level of unemployment in the Labor governed
States that policy would affect the whole of the Commonwealth. If not, anybody who makes the allegation that the high level of unemployment is due to Commonwealth policy should substantiate his case by producing evidence. I suggest that the evidence shows quite clearly that the high levels of unemployment are in those States which are governed by Labor governments. There is some explanation for that. I would go even further and say that this fact should be a horrible lesson for the people of Australia. If they want unemployment they should elect Labor governments. Those people who wish to contradict these figures should try to do so. Let them produce the evidence to show the reasons why there is a lower rate of unemployment in Liberal governed States and how the Commonwealth Government is able to achieve this result in those States but is not able to achieve it in Labor governed States.
– Certain States were affected by the 1971 Budget more than others were affected by it.
– That is an interesting theory. I suggest that instead of making a bland statement such as that Senator Cavanagh should, when the opportunity offers, produce the evidence to substantiate it. Perhaps the situation is due to policies that he is not game to admit. Let us examine the situation in Western Australia. Let us not make statements. Let us look at the facts of Commonwealth assistance to Western Australia.
– And to South Australia.
– And to South Australia. I am quite happy to look at that also. Mr Whitlam recently rushed in to help his colleague in Western Australia, Mr Tonkin, who needs it. Mr Whitlam was reported in the Perth ‘Dally News’ of Thursday, 17th August, as saying:
WA was penalised more than any other State by the blunders of the McMahon Government’s 1971 Budget.
No proof, just a bald statement. He was also reported as saying:
WA was neglected more than any other State by the 1972 Budget.
The article contained an astounding statement by him, as honourable senators will see. The article continued:
Outlining Labor’s 6-point plan to solve WA’s unemployment crisis Mr Whitlam said that WA needed the most national help, but was getting the least. 1 will examine that statement in a moment. I did not know that Budgets were aimed at assisting particular States. Budgets provide for national goals and national objectives. They provide the policies to achieve those goals and objectives. The States are assisted through Premiers Conferences and Loan Council meetings.
– What about when Mr Hawke was Premier of Western Australia?
– 1 am reminded of what happened a few years ago. I made the statement that under Labor governments there is a higher rate of unemployment. I remind the Senate that in the 1950s Western Australia had a Labor government led by Mr Hawke. This was a time of over-full employment. But in Western Australia there was the highest rate of unemployment in Australia. Mr Hawke had to appeal to the Commonwealth Government, as Mr Tonkin has now done, for special funds to assist.
– That is not Mr Bob Hawke.
– No, his uncle, and just about as disastrous. He had to appeal for $4m from the Commonwealth as a special grant to assist unemployment in Western Australia. I recall that he received $2m and that not one penny of it went to relieve unemployment. Then the people of Western Australia got fed up and elected another government. Within 12 months Western Australia had the lowest rate of unemployment in Autralia. The people had elected a government of enterprise and initiative that got the State moving again. History is repeating itself. It will be interesting to see after the next election how Western Australia starts to get on the move once again. Indeed, the Leader of the Opposition, Sir Charles Court, has already issued a challenge to the Labor Government to get out and to let a decent government get in. He undertakes that unemployment will be reduced in a matter of months. After the performance in 1959- 60 no-one can doubt that.
Mr Whitlam and Mr Tonkin have said that Western Australia is receiving the least help. I am reminded that when returning from the Premiers Conference and the meeting of the Australian Loan Council, Mr Tonkin expressed himself as being completely satisfied with the good deal that Western Australia had received. He said: 1 have done a lot better than I expected’. Now we have a complete change of face. One must wonder and ask the question: Why a change of face? As is the case with Mr Whitlam, he so easily and cheaply puts all the blame on the Commonwealth for all of the ills suffered by Western Australia. But when we look at the facts - they are worth looking at - we will see that they support Mr Tonkin’s original claim that Western Australia had been treated well. Incidentally, it is worth mentioning that perhaps Mr Tonkin does not take the unemployment situation as seriously as do some of his colleagues in the eastern States because on a television interview recently after he advocated that Australia should take a number of Ugandan Asians he was asked about the unemployment situation in Western Australia. The transcript shows that he said:
It is true that all States have an unemployment problem and it is difficult at the present time to put these people to work but this is not going to last forever; this is a temporary stage through which countries have passed through before and which we have passed through before.
So according to that statement he was not particularly worried. He said that it was just a temporary stage and that it would soon be over. I wish to examine the facts. The facts are that through direct Commonwealth capital expenditure in Western Australia and through shares of the borrowing programme approved by the Australian Loan Council of non-unemployment relief grants Western Australia comes out far better than any other State except Tasmania. Western Australia receives a greater per capita share of both revenue and capital funds than any other State except Tasmania. It will receive special additional general revenue grants of $3.5m in 1972- 73, Senator Wright gave some of these figures the other day. I think that they are worth repeating in view of what has gone on in the other place and that Australians and particularly Western Australians should be reminded of this. It has Loan Council approval for a special addition of $3m to its share of the larger authority borrowing programmes for 1972-73. It will continue to benefit from the arrangements whereby the special assistance grant of Si 5.5m paid to the State in 1968-69 and 1969-70 is being progressively transferred to the State’s larger authority borrowing programmes. The amount of additional borrowing authority for 1972-73 is $6m. The State will continue to benefit from special permanent additions to the programme for previous years totalling $5m. It is receiving $450,000 a month as grants under the non-metropolitan unemployment relief scheme.
Commonwealth direct capital expenditure in Western Australia in 1972-73 is estimated to increase by 12 per cent on expenditure in 1971-72. So in simple terms no-one can complain that Western Australia is not doing pretty well. I repeat that it will receive in 1972-73 more general revenue assistance per head of population than any other State except Tasmania. Of course, this has been the case for many years. If we are to understand this quite clearly we must look at some of the tables which set out the Commonwealth payments to the States. I shall not read right through them; I shall pick put a couple. New South Wales is the largest State. In general revenue assistance on a per capita basis, in 1971-72 New South Wales received $107.42. This year it will receive $111.50. In South Australia, which also has the second highest level of unemployment in Australia, the amount of per capita assistance has increased from $144.93 to $169.42. In Western Australia, the figure has risen from $169.53 to $185.40. The Australian average of per capita assistance is $131.76. So Western Australia is $50 on a per capita basis above the Australian average.
In regard to specific purpose revenue payments, we have the same types of figures. If we turn to the total revenue assistance we find that in 1971-72 the per capita grant to New South Wales was $126.07. This year, the figure is $136.99 which, in round figures, represents an increase of $10. In South Australia, the figure increased from $164.68 to $195.42, an increase of about $31. In Western Australia, the figure increased from $189.79 to $213.39, an increase of about $24. The average increase throughout Australia was $17. Here again, Western Australia is receiving special assistance. In addition to this, the Commonwealth also supported a borrowing programme for the larger State local and semi-government authorities such as the metropolitan water, sewerage and drainage boards, to a total of $48 8m. Western Australia’s share of this programme was $33m which was $8m more than it was last year. This includes a special temporary allocation of $3m sought by the Premier in view of the relatively high level of unemployment in the Perth metropolitan area.
If we look at the attached tables we find that the same type of picture emerges as that which emerged in the case of the general revenue grant. Let us look at the loan State works and housing programme and the capital funds available from the Loan Council. Without going through them in detail, we find that in regard to the semigovernment and local authority borrowing which is money spent in the State, the funds provided to New South Wales increased on a per capita basis by $4. In South Australia, the amount increased by $1.50 and in Western Australia by $8. So we find that over the total borrowing programmes and specific purpose capital grants on a per capita basis the amount granted to Western Australia increased by $15 and in New South Wales by $14. On these figures there is no justification for Mr Whitlam’s statement. In fact, it is rather careless of the truth to say that Western Australia has received the least help. The record clearly shows that, with the exception of Tasmania which has its own peculiar problems, Western Australia receives more help on a per capita basis from the Commonwealth than any other State, not only this year but every year. South Australia - this other Labor Government State - is pretty well next in every other case.
So we have to find reasons other than blaming the Commonwealth, which is the easy way out and not the honest way out. I will be interested to hear if anybody - particularly Mr Tonkin - can contradict what. I am saying. I suggest that on the evidence it is not a lack of funds; it is the maladministration in the State Government that is causing the problem. All that is lacking, I suggest, is the competence to employ the funds that are available.
The problem that faces Western Australia lies clearly with the State Government. That Government has proved to be a government of monumental inefficiency and incompetence because in 18 months Western Australia has gone from a State brimming with confidence - a State that was really on the move - to one which has a confidence crisis. A confidence crisis is caused only by a crisis in leadership, by muddled, weak thinking and by muddled, weak leadership. This is the clear issue that faces Western Australia where private enterprise and private initiative are being restricted and where the Government does not know where it is going. I believe it is fair to say that the Government of Western Australia does not know where it has been and does not know where it wants to go. Indeed, I doubt whether it even knows today where it is.
What I have outlined is a simple proposition of facts that face Western Australia. Those who wish to place all the blame on the Commonwealth had better look at the facts because no matter how they might try to spread this propaganda the truth will come out in the end. The truth is coming out in Western Australia more and more. We hear more and more that what is wrong is a question of confidence, a question of leadership and a question of good government. When Western Australia returns to good government, as it will after the next State election, we will then have the same type of situation that we had in 1959 where in a period of 12 months Western Australia went from a State on the verge of bankruptcy and a State that had made no progress whatever to a situation which resulted in the greatest progress in any period of its history. Indeed, I suppose that Western Australia became the envy of most other States. Western Australia was in this position only because of the presence of a government that created a feeling of confidence and gave enterprise and initiative full rein. This is all that is needed in Western Australia today.
I want to conclude my remarks by referring to a matter that has been referred to before. It is necessary that I say something about this subject. I noted today that the President, of the Chamber of Commerce said that we should stop talking about the revaluation problem. I think that there is something in this. I want to make three comments about this matter. I think it is quite correct for the Reserve Bank of Australia to express some opinion - an independent opinion. The Bank is within its rights, and indeed may well have a responsibility, to express an opinion on the state of. the Australian currency. Also it is correct for other sections of the community to make some judgments. The responsibility of a government is different. A government’s responsibility is to make clear thai it does not intend to revalue the currency if it is not its intention to do so. To do anything else would be irresponsible and crazy. The Government has made its attitude crystal clear. There can always be differences of opinion on such matters as this, particularly in a world today which is going through currency and trading crises. In my view it would be foolish for any of us, or certain financial sections of the community, to take inflexible stances on this. We could well be faced with another currency crisis in the world in which world currencies would be realigned. There may be overnight a change of view.
– Even members of the Labor Party have differences of opinion, do they not?
– We will come to that in a moment. The position I have been describing is not the problem of the Government. The Government’s problem and responsibility are clear. The Government has made its attitude quite clear.
I am bound to say that we have to take into consideration the attitude of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) because I believe that what he has to say is a matter of great importance if we are to look at the Australian Labor Party as an alternative government. The attitude of the Leader of the Opposition must be accepted overseas as the attitude of an alternative Prime Minister. When he speaks on such matters people overseas are entitled to accept what he says as an authoritative view of what he in fact would do.
– He has an actual charisma. We cannot-
– I will just put one question to Senator Mulvihill because the honourable senator has to make up his mind as to whose side he is on.
– There is no doubt about where I stand.
– I want to know whether the honourable senator is on Mr Whitlam’s side or Mr Crean’s side because he cannot have 2 bob each way. He must make up his mind.
– How does the honourable senator’s Country Party and Liberal Party-
– Do not try to get me off the subject. I will not be put off. I will stay on it for the next couple of minutes. This is a matter which is of the greatest importance to Australia because the dangers of the alternative Prime Minister making statements in the categorical terms in which he made them must be evident to all, if not evident to him.
I do not think there has been a single case in recent times upon which the Press throughout Australia has agreed. I said last night that I was not an avid reader of the leading articles in newspapers. As a matter of fact, I do not always take much notice of them. But our friends opposite read them with great glee when it suits them. Therefore I must be excused if sometimes I respond with great glee. Only the other day I noticed that the ‘West Australian’ newspaper of 26th August said much the same as I have just said about the responsibility of the Government and the responsibility of the Leader of the Opposition. The article stated:
The world is entitled to think that the leader of Australia’s alternative government is committed to a course.
The article went on to be bitterly critical. The article also stated:
Mr Whitlam has issued an open invitation to international speculators to pour hot money into Australia on a bet that a change of government will result in an alteration to the currency.
I will not get into an argument as to whether some sections would benefit or some would not if the currency was revalued. This is a matter which I am not discussing here. What I am discussing is the irresponsibility of statements such as these which are, of course, damaging to the national interest. I find no greater condemnation of Mr Whitlam’s statement than a statement made by Mr Crean, the shadow Treasurer whom we all accept as being a man of talents and responsibility. A report of an interview of Mr Crean by Mr Kenneth Davidson appeared in the ‘Australian’ of 25th August. Mr Crean had this to say about the Australian currency:
The Australian dollar is definitely not overvalued, however it would be irresponsible for an alternative government to say they intended to appreciate the currency which could spark off a speculative inflow of hot money.
– That is Mr Crean as reported in the ‘Australian’ last Friday?
– That is right. This is the issue on which I am concentrating my comments.
– He is the shadow Treasurer for a Labor government?
– That Ls our understanding. Senator Wright. That is his view. All I want to say to members of the Opposition who yesterday, when Senator Maunsell was speaking on this subject, became rather hot under the collar - and with good cause T might add - ls that they have to make up their minds individually because they will be asked on whose side they are in this matter, particularly in rural areas in regard to primary producers.
– The Treasurer has to declare himself, too.
– The honourable senator should make up his mind and tell us on whose side he is. I will pause while Senator Mulvihill tells me whose side he is on.
– You have to tell me whether you stand for Mr Snedden or the Prime Minister.
– No, 1 am asking you. The honourable senator should not try to dodge my question. He is interjecting.
– I have made my speech.
– It is not the honourable senators silence that is golden but his lack of acceptance of my challenge. This is most significant because certainly not only the rural areas and primary producers may suffer but also the economy will suffer if hot money starts to flow into Australia, lt would be against our national interest for a decision of this sort to be made.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Laucke) - Order! The honourable senator’s time has expired.
– From the Opposition’s point of view this is obviously an election Budget. The first thing to which I invite the attention of the Senate is that on this occasion, for the first time for many years, the Government has budgeted for a deficit - in this instance, a deficit of about $630m. On previous occasions the Government has budgeted for a domestic surplus. In 1969- 70 the Government budgeted for a domestic surplus of $5 18m and in 1970-71 it budgeted for a domestic surplus of $458m. In 1971-72, when we saw the most disastrous Budget of all, it budgeted for an estimated domestic surplus of more than $600m. We all know, and Government supporters know it only too well, that halfway through the financial year the Government panicked, pressed all emergency buttons and called ‘Action stations’ to grant concessions which finally enabled it to budget for a domestic surplus in the vicinity of $387m. That brings us to the present. We now have an all’ time record high of $630m as an estimated deficit.
Another interesting aspect to which I invite honourable senators’ attention is that in 1969-70, when the Government budgeted for a domestic surplus the unemployment figure in Australia stood at 49,000. At the time of the 1972-73 Budget the unemployment figure stands at close to 100,000. This is an increase of over 100 per cent in unemployment during the lifetime of this Parliament. This is the record of our present Government. In the lifetime of this Parliament unemployment has increased 100 per cent from 49,000 in 1969 to approximately 100,000 today. We on this side of the chamber and the members who occupy the Opposition benches in the other place know only too well that the only device that the Government has for explaining the situation is to blame the wicked trade unions. On every hand, whether in reference to inflation, spiralling prices, unemployment or any other ill from which the economy is suffering, we hear the cry from the Government, in a monotonous repetition, that these things have been caused by the wicked trade unions through their persuasion for increased wages. If the trade unions are not being blamed it is suggested that high wage increases are the cause. As late as last week the Treasurer (Mr Snedden) was supported in the other place by the Minister for Supply and Minister assisting the Treasurer (Mr Garland) who said, as recorded at page 532 of Hansard: . . it is time, too, for the trade union movement to play its part by recognising the need for a moratorium on wage increases and restraint or even opposition to excessive wage rises as a matter of its policy.
I did not thinkI would ever live to see the day when a responsible Minister of the Crown in the national Parliament would make such a ludicrous statement as to appeal to the trade union movement to throw overboard one of its main objectives, that is, to seek wage increases for the workers that the unions represent. Yet that was the tone of the defence put forward by Government supporters in the other place. The same defence was taken up in this place last night when Senator Maunsell, time and again, blamed high wages for the unemployment position in Australia. He was echoing the view which had been expressed by the Country Party and by other supporters of the Liberal and Country Party coalition Government. I accept the challenge offered last night by Senator Maunsell and claim that higher wages are not the cause of unemployment. I make the claim specifically that higher wages are not the cause of unemployment.
To support what I say I propose to quote the remarks of an accepted authority, Mr Victor Feather, General Secretary of the British Trades Union Congress, who did research and carried out a survey on this subject. He unearthed figures which substantiate the claim that I have just made that higher wages are not the cause of unemployment. Allow me to relate some of the factors that were unearthed by his research In respect of the most recent financial year. In Germany wages increased by 12.1 per cent but unemployment went down by 2.8 per cent. In Japan wages went up by 17,9 per cent but unemployment went down by 2.8 per cent. In Italy wages went up 22.6 per cent but unemployment went down 2.2 per cent. In Denmark wages went up 9.8 per cent and unemployment went down 22.6 per cent. In Belgium wages went up 11.2 per cent and unemployment went down 9.1 per cent. In the Netherlands wages went up 12.3 per cent but unemployment went down 9.8 per cent. The point I am making is that in those 6 major developed countries there was a significant upward movement in wages but an equally significant downward trend in unemployment.
– Over what period?
– It was 1970-71. Those figures prove quite conclusively to all who are prepared to accept the situation and who apply commonsense to it that high wages are not the cause of unemployment. Let us consider another comparable country - Great Britain. In Great Britain wages went up 14.7 per cent, but unemployment also went up 5.6 per cent. This illustrates the point that I have been making. The reason for the situation in Great Britain being different from the pattern that I have shown for the other 6 nations must obviously be something other than high wages. Research into this situation has shown conclusively that the rate of growth in Great Britain is much lower than it is in the other 6 countries that I named. Therefore the conclusion is that a low growth rate rather than high wages is the cause of unemployment.
Let us come closer to home and consider the situation in Australia. Recent statistics show that wage increases in Australia have been in the vicinity of 10 per cent and that unemployment has increased by 0.6 per cent. In 2 countries only of the 8 I have named where wages have increased significantly has there been an increase in the unemployment figures. Those countries are Britain and Australia. I have pointed out previously that in Britain the growth rate is lower than it is in the other 6 developed countries. What is the position in Australia? I do not need to tell honourable senators opposite, nor do I need to tell honourable senators on this side of the chamber, that the growth rate in Australia is a miserable 3 per cent - the lowest that it has been for many years.. Australia has been accustomed to experiencing and enjoying a growth rate of 5 per cent. It is many years since it has been the miserably low figure of 3 per cent. It must be obvious to all now that no-one but the Government is to blame for the unemployment situation. The Government has failed to wage war on unemployment. It has failed to plan; it has failed to communicate with either the Parliament or the electorate; it has failed to restore confidence in the community; it has failed to restore confidence in the economy. Is it any wonder that we of the Opposition are forced to move an amendment in this Budget debate? The amendment is warranted and justified and will be enthusiastically supported by all honourable senators on the Opposition side. I read the amendment: . . ‘the Senate condemns the Budget because it fails to define adequate economic and social goals for Australia; and in particular because it provides no programming for restoring full employment, no means of checking the costs, the prices of goods and land, no framework for improving the standards of education, health, welfare and public transport and no national plan for our capita] cities and regional centres’.
I claim that the Government has deliberately held back output. It has deliberately restricted the volume of goods which the country could produce. This restriction makes everything more expensive than it ought to be. This restriction forces up costs which in turn force up prices and culminates in what economists call today cost inflation. I submit all that I have said to the Government for its earnest consideration. 1 hope it will stimulate some interest and that the Government will cease to blame the wicked trade unions and increasing wages for the unemployment position that exists in Australia today. The unemployment position exists as a result of lack of planning by the Government and failure to correct the ills that plague the economy.
The second point I would like to pass to is the failure of the Government to do anything for the tourist industry by providing assistance through the Budget. Firstly, I accept the challenge issued many times last evening by Senator Sim to Senator Poke. I do not know what the significance of that challenge was but Senator Sim continued to ask: ‘When will somebody on the Labor side tell me the definition of a worker?’ He continually interjected while Senator Poke was speaking with the request: ‘Is there anybody on the Labor side who can tell me the definition of a worker?’ I am not a walking Webster’s dictionary but I can tell Senator Sim that a worker is a person who works with his brains or works with his hands. A worker may belong to any political party. If that is the definition Senator Sim is looking for, I repeat it - a worker is a person who works with his brains or works with his hands.
Reverting to the question of tourism, I recall that recently the Queensland Minister for Tourism, the Hon. John Herbert, forecast that by 1980 the tourist industry would rival the mining industry in Queensland as the major industry in that State. As a senator from Queensland I naturally have a vested interest in the welfare of that State and in the welfare of the people of that State. I believe that I can justifiably claim in this chamber that Queensland is the leading tourist State in the Commonwealth, possessing among other attractions the Great Barrier Reef and a 23-mile stretch of beach on the Gold Coast. I do not think anybody would challenge my statement that the Gold Coast is the tourist capital of Australia and indeed the tourist capital of the Southern Hemisphere. The point I am particularly interested in emphasising this evening arises from the very pertinent statement by the Queensland Minister for Tourism that by 1980 the tourist industry will be the major industry in Queensland. His optimism is shared by the Australian Tourist Commission. In its annual report for 1971-72 the Commission revealed that 416,000 overseas tourists entered Australia during that period and earned for Australia in foreign exchange $135m. The Commission predicts that by 1980 the number of overseas visitors entering Australia will be 1.7 million and that they will earn in foreign exchange for Australia $574m.
These figures show the importance of tourism and the vast expansion of the tourist industry in Australia. These are very exciting predictions by both the Queensland Minister for Tourism and the Australian Tourist Commission. But unless we are geared to meet this rapid increase in the number of overseas tourists who will enter this country, we shall miss out. Planning, research and surveys must be applied to this question. The Accommodation Owners Association has forecast that if the tourist industry in Australia is to cope with the expected 1.7 million overseas visitors in 1980, we will require 37,594 rooms of international standard. At present capital cities in the eastern States can provide 13,413 rooms of international standard. A quick lesson in mathematics will show that to increase room availability from 13,413 to 37,594 requires an increase of 180 per cent in the 10 years ahead or, to calculate it in another way, an increase of 18 per cent a year. One would think that a country which is going through such development as Australia is could cope easily with this increase. Under normal circumstances, we could do so. But the frightening facts are that accommodation owners and developers who intended previously to construct hotels and motels of international standard have recently announced that it would not be economic or profitable for them to go ahead with such constructions. Indeed, they have announced that 4,000 of the 8,000 international standard hotel and motel rooms which were on the drawing board in preparation for construction have been cancelled, and that the other 4,000 are in the process of being cancelled. These cancellations have been brought about by an economic situation. If this accommodation is not to be available in Australia to house the tourists, they will go elsewhere. Therefore, if the forecast by the Queensland Minister for Tourism is correct and if the forecast by the Australian Tourist Commission is correct - that the tourist industry will be a major industry in this country in the next decade - this Government will stand condemned if it fails to give financial assistance to accommodation owners in tourist areas so that they may continue with developmental building.
I suggest, to the Government that there are 3 ways by which it can give assistance to the tourist industry. The Government’s acceptance of any one of the 3 would be helpful, but I think it would be better still if it gave consideration to all 3. The first proposition that I submit to the Government for consideration is that it should grant special assistance by way of a subsidy to local government authorities which provide tourist facilities and amenities so that the costs of those facilities and amenities are not borne fully by local ratepayers. The second proposition is that the Government should allow depreciation on new buildings, and the cost of maintenance and renovation of buildings as tax deductions. Such deductions are allowed to accommodation owners in tourist areas in other countries, particularly the Pacific Ocean countries - our strongest competitors.
The third suggestion which I offer is that the Government establish a tourist development loan fund similar to that operating in New Zealand. The Government has been able to do this with other industries but it has fallen short of doing anything to assist the tourist industry. Yet the tourist industry is in the top bracket of the major industries of this country. The Treasurer (Mr Snedden) gave figures in the Budget which was presented in the Parliament last week in relation to Commonwealth assistance and payments to industry. These figures show that rural industries received $233m; the manufacturing industries $121m; the mining industry $12m; and the transport industry $2m; making a total of $368m. These figures do not include assistance through taxation concessions. If I had time to research and add the taxation concessions to the $368m we would find that the figure would be nearer $500m. What is the reason for the Government continuing to refuse to give any financial assistance to an industry so important as the tourist industry?
I live on the Gold Coast. I have taken part in representations which have been made to many tourism Ministers. There have been many changes since 1967. I exclude the Minister for Works (Senator Wright) from having made any assurance that he would give assistance because I do not recall representations being made to him in this area during the time when he was Minister-in-Charge of Tourist Activities. I recall the visits that the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr Anthony) and the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) have made to the Gold Coast. They have all said that they have been impressed by representations from tourist authorities. They have all promised that they would go back to Canberra and place for the consideration of Cabinet financial assistance to the tourist industry. But possibly the strongest and the most persuasive in his interest was the Deputy Prime Minister who in this Parliament represents Richmond the neighbouring electorate to McPherson. Campaigning in support of the endorsed Australian Country Party candidate for McPherson, Mr Richter, the Deputy Prime Minister said that he was impressed and that he was convinced of the need for financial assistance to the tourist industry, particularly depreciation being allowed as a taxation concession. He said that he would go back to Canberra and that he hoped that in the Budget some concession would be given to the tourist industry. But of course the Budget has come and gone and there is nothing that substantiates the promise made by the Deputy Prime Minister.
In view of the millions of dollars that have been allocated for assistance to other industries I am sincerely at a loss as to why the Government repeatedly refuses to assist the tourist industry. I have probed and looked everywhere for a reason why. The nearest approach to a reason that I can come up with is a report that appeared in the ‘Daily Telegraph’ of 30th January 1972. Reporting on the tourist industry and the failure of the Government to give assistance the article states:
These remarks are from the International Tourism Quarterly, published by. the Economist Intelligence Unit.
They follow an Economist survey of the Australian and New Zealand tourist industries.
Significantly, the report says New Zealand is not likely to miss the opportunities, as it seems much better prepared than Australia for a big influx of tourists.
The remarks caught the eye of Mr Alan Greenway, the energetic motel businessman who is chairman of the Federal Government’s Australian Tourist Commission.
In a brief Press statement last week he said Australian travel industry leaders had been expressing the same sentiments for sometime.
He said the commission believed the kind of tourist development needed here would not be automatic ‘but must be made to happen’.
Mr Greenway said he hoped for a positive response from the Federal Government to proposals io encourage tourist development here.
This week Mr Greenway expanded his views by, saying the Australian tourist industry had fallen behind in the race to be internationally competitive.
Just what IS wrong with our lon l ist industry?
In a word, travel authorities say, it’s politics.
They say the tourist industry is suffering because of political trading between Country and Liberal Parties.
Another prominent industry spokesman said: The trouble is that Mr Howson, who handles tourist activities, is only an Assistant Minister to the Trade Department.
Any important decision of his has to be approved by the Trade Minister, Mr Anthony’.
Mr Anthony cannot successfully wear 2 ministerial hats, and when the money is being handed out the rural industry gets first crack. la the trading that goes on between the Country and Liberal Parties, Mr Anthony can only win so many, battles and so far tourism is being neglected’.
Australia is losing tourists to neighboring countries. Because of our poor facilities they are cutting short holidays here to spend more lime in places like New Zealand and Fiji.
That is the nearest 1 have had to an explanation as to why, over a period of years despite numerous representations, this Government has continually refused to give financial assistance to the tourist industry which all the experts, including those from government departments, claim will become within the next decade one of the major industries in this country. This evening I was prompted to speak on those 2 points only because I feci that the more practical issues such as social services that are contained in the Budget have been adequately canvassed by honourable senators from this side of the chamber. No doubt these matters will be further progressed by speakers who are to follow mc. I feel that in our contribution we have given an effective answer to the continual blaming of the trade unions and high wages for the cause of unemployment. That is the only device that has been used by the Government to put the blame on someone else. Under this Government, since 1969-70, we have seen unemployment increase from 49.000 to almost 100,000 at the present time - an increase of 100 per cent. The Government has been inactive. It has been unable to cope with the situation, yet in this chamber and in the other place it has kept up a continual attack, blaming the trade unions, wages and everything connected with the working class. I feel that we have proved to the Government that the blame rests at its own feet. I hope that it will do the right thing and correct the position. If it does nol want to do that I suggest that it move out and make way for an alternative Labor government that will be able to handle the affairs of this country.
Sitting suspended from 5.39 to 8 p.m.
– I rise to support the Budget. Really, it is a unique occasion for me to rise to support a Budget without having a great deal of criticism to submit in connection with it. This is the best Budget that the
Government has submitted in the period that I have been a member of the Senate, and it is probably the best Budget that has been submitted to this Parliament for many years.
– Well, the rest must have been poor.
– That is true; they were, and not only from governments of one shade of politics. Commonwealth budgets have been poor for a long time. I could not help saying to a colleague of mine at the time when the Budget was read, and subsequently when Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson detailed a lengthy document in connection with the provisions that will be made for subsidising old people’s homes and convalescent homes for the aged and the sick: ‘Have we not come a long way in the field of social services in the last 25 years?’ One could not but be impressed by the enormous fields of social services into which the Commonwealth Government has entered and at the extent of its assistance in those fields.
It is easy to be cynical and to fail to recognise just what has been done. A number of the provisions in the field of social services today were unknown in past years. Those who were in need of that aid and those services were not catered for unless they were able to obtain this assistance from some charitable organisation or a denominational church body which would go out of its way to give these people the assistance that they sought.
I have been very close to the people for 40 years or more. I know the difficulties that people suffer through sickness and want, their need for hospitalisation and ophthalmic treatment, schools for the blind and the deaf, and creches and kindergartens. I challenge any honourable senator to mention a field of social need that has not been catered for in some way or other in this Budget. Some of those fields may not have been catered for to the extent that you and I might wish them to be; nevertheless, it is gratifying to see that the Government is facing up to these demands and requirements.
There is a number of small matters about which I will have something to say in the course of my speech which will be limited. I have a very heavy cold, and whether my voice tonight will stand the strain of the long vigorous speech that I am accustomed to making in the Budget debate remains to be seen. But there is not the same necessity to be as critical of this Budget as I have been in the past. A great deal has been said to the effect that the Budget is good merely because this is an election year. Let us be realistic. We would not have much appreciation or much regard for a government that did not have enough sense to bring in a good Budget in an election year. That would be realistic. It is not that the Government probably did not want to do things before. I am sure that it had reasons for not doing certain things. We are grateful that, even if this is an election year, a number of people has been given something of which they are in need and which they will appreciate. I believe that this Budget will gain considerable public support for the Government when the election is held. This is not the main basis on which the Budget should be judged.
The Budget is the most important document that is presented to this or any Parliament. It is deserving of the closest scrutiny and consideration by the people’s representatives in Parliament. It must be evaluated against the background of Australia’s welfare in its widest sense. This includes the economic well being of her people and the requirements of national security. My general reaction to this Budget was expressed in a public statement that I issued on Budget night. I then commended the Budget because it contained long overdue welfare reforms and was clearly aimed at securing a more equitable distribution of the nation’s wealth.
The Australian Democratic Labor Party has severely criticised past Liberal Country Party budgets for the lack of concern and practical assistance shown to social service recipients generally. I welcome the pension increase of $1.75 per week for single pensioners. Surely this was the minimum that the Government could possibly have granted. However, it is a great improvement on the 50c per week that the Gorton Government offered to pensioners. This pension increase represents a rise of approximately 10 per cent, which is not very much more than the current rate of price increases which stands at 7 per cent.
As I have done repeatedly in previous speeches on budgets. I express my continuing surprise at the discrepancy between the rate of pension for a single pensioner and for a married pensioner couple. Once again, the Budget continues this anomaly. A single pensioner enjoys a pension increase of $1.75 per week, while a husband and wife will receive a pension increase of only $1.25 per week each. On a fortnightly basis, the single pensioner will receive $40 while the married pensioner couple will receive only $34.50 each. This is a difference of $5.50 a fortnight.
I know that it is argued that 2 people live cheaper than one person. I suppose that in many instances that would be realistic and true. Against that argument can be put the example of the combined pension of single pensioners living together who could be spinster sisters, bachelor brothers or any 2 people receiving single pensions and living under the one roof. Their combined pensions total $5.50 per week more than that received by a married pensioner couple. I know that this is one pf those problems that is difficult to solve. But I know also of many cases in which that is the position. It is to the disadvantage of the elderly married couple.
I turn to the anomaly that arises in connection with rent allowances. The Government gives single people a rent allowance and in this Budget it is giving a rent allowance to couples in a rented house. Provided they pay rent they get this rent allowance. It has been increased by 100 per cent or thereabouts. That is good. I am glad that that is happening. But the old couple who have paid off their home and do not pay rent still have to meet rates and the cost of repairs. They have gone unnoticed and it is a pity. When travelling around the city in which I live, and its suburbs, I frequently see, as other honourable senators would see in their respective districts, many substantial homes which are deteriorating for want of paint, a bit of attention by a handy man or a carpenter or a plumber. I have said to the people with whom I have been travelling: ‘I will bet you that if we had time to make a survey we would find that the occupants of that substantially built place are age pensioners who cannot afford to have it painted or to have a plumber repair the spouts and guttering. It is in a state of disrepair because of that.’ It is something to be regretted because such substantial buildings represent good capital value. They have been allowed to deteriorate because of a lack of financial capacity on the part of the occupants to carry out repairs. Perhaps the Department of Social Services would consider doing something in that connection and assist such people to keep their properties in good repair.
I believe that the real advance for the aged came in a variety of supplementary improvements. The means test limitations were increased to double their previous levels and this should give immediate benefit to thousands of pensioners. This gives my colleagues and I a lot of joy because I have said here year after year that the means test is an iniquitous thing. It is the penalty of thrift and providence. It has been an encouragement to people to waste their money during their active lives and not to think of their future. There are many people who are borderline cases. They are good, provident people. While they are paying taxes they were contributing to superannuation funds and similar funds such as retiring allowances - call them what you will - making provision for their old age, but under existing circumstances they cannot get a pension. They cannot get any recognition. They cannot get even the medical services or the pharmaceutical services. Yet somebody who has contributed to the minimum number of units that a superannuation scheme may lay down can get a pension. They also get the medical benefits and the pharmaceutical benefits because they said: ‘Well, why should I make further sacrifice? Let the taxpayers keep me or help to keep me in my retirement.’ This has a tendency to breed mendicancy which is not a good thing in a society such as ours. I welcome the indication from the Government that it is prepared to do something about the abolition of the means test over a period. It should be encouraged in this aim because it is very important to a big section of our people, not only financially but also psychologically.
The fact that the committee of inquiry that the Government has appointed also will have the question of national superannuation referred to it is a second move which I strongly advocated in my Budget speech last year. The Government’s doubling of the supplementary assistance to the really hard-up pensioners and the subsidy to nursing homes are practical and humanitarian steps which were absent in so many recent budgets. Despite the increase in pensions and supplementary assistance now available, there is one problem I would like to point out. This lies in the fact, which recent inquiries revealed, that 80 per cent of people eligible for some of these welfare services do not even know about them or how to receive the benefits. That is not an exaggeration. This 80 per cent failure has been demonstrated in relation to the subsidised health benefits scheme for low income earners. There is little doubt that it applies also to many other social services. Often the people who most need help are the people who are least able to find out the services for which they are eligible. They are the aged and the invalid and others in that category. Unless they have a relative or friend who can inform them of the benefits to which they are entitled they remain ignorant of what is available to them.
A national superannuation scheme is the only solution to our social service problem. Honourable senators have heard me say this frequently and I do not want to dwell on the subject for too long. This is a big thing. It is something which should have been tackled yeaTs ago but there has not been that resolution in government which ls necessary to face up to a big problem. The Government was not prepared to grasp the nettle. The problem has grown and grown tremendously and has become a bigger problem. Do not let us defer it and delay it any longer. Let our people have the opportunity of subscribing to a national superannuation scheme. Let us all be contributors and let us all be beneficiaries under a scheme of a national character. That is the solution to the growing social services problem.
We have been reading in the last few days of this poverty inquiry about which we received notice from the Government. It is very timely. I think the Government is very fortunate to obtain the services of Professor Henderson who already has done an immense amount of work on this question of poverty and the fields in which poverty exists. We hope that the inquiry will be a big success and I am sure that Professor Henderson will bring a realistic approach to the question. I know that when he is examining poverty and the pockets of poverty he will not miss the reasons for it. We have to look for the cause of the disease as well as the cure. We have to find out what evil influence is contributing to the lack of provision of a lot of things that people expect in life at this time and in our age. We have to ask ourselves whether we have provided excessive gambling facilities in our community; whether we have encouraged people to gamble on our TAB’s and our poker machines; and whether we are inviting the misguided, the weak willed and the improvident in our community to spend on these things money which they can ill afford.
We have to approach these things in a proper and complete way. People from all walks of life have to appreciate that they must learn to live within their means. I am not a kill-joy - anyone who knows me would concede that I am not - but it irks me a little when I see people, who I know are not in a position to do so, wasting money on things from which they cannot expect to make any gain. They are putting their hard earned money, in the case of the workers and the pensioners, into things that will not return them anything but will only have the effect of leaving them short and adding to their misery. I express tha hope that Professor Henderson will examine very thoroughly the merits of any scheme the Democratic Labor Party puts forward if we are given the opportunity to express our point of view.
In dealing with this question of poverty the Government was wise to select Professor Henderson, and it was wise to make the terms of reference of the inquiry as wide as it did, because one can wager dollars to peanuts that had the Government not done so it would have been subjected to a lot of criticism. Those in Opposition have been bard pressed today to find any criticism at all. Professor Henderson often has been cited by the critics of the Government as an authority in this field, so they could scarcely offer any criticism about his appointment. I hope Professor Henderson will be able to overcome the problem of the growing complexity of welfare services by substituting one simple cash payment to the too many recipients of the incomprehensible maze of different subsidies, handouts, free services and other kinds of social welfare. Before finally leaving the question of pensions might I once again urge the Government to establish an independent tribunal of experts to determine pension rates. This proposal is not new to the Senate because from the time the DLP took a place in this Senate as an independent party it has been advocating the establishment of an independent tribunal of competent officers to determine pension rates and to take the question of pension rates out of the auction market so that it ceases to be a political football, which inevitably brings humiliation to recipients of the pension.
Unfortunately, the really big welfare deficiency in this Budget - this has been the case in most of the recent LiberalCountry Party budgets - was the failure to increase the rate of child endowment or to do anything about child endowment. That is the weakness and that is the vacant spot in what is otherwise a very good Budget. A lot has been said about the need to help the family man. The only effective way in which to help the family man is through child endowment. He is in need of that additional assistance, and the DLP has always advocated that child endowment should be increased. Let us look at the position of a married man who has a wife and 4 or 5 children in relation to a single man who is receiving the same pay. We now can include in this, since we have equal pay for the sexes, the unmarried woman who has neither chick nor child to keep but who receives the same wage. I am not opposed to that. Is the married man who has a wife and 4 or 5 children to keep not entitled to something more than the single man or the single woman who have no obligations? Why are we so slow to recognise the worth of the family man to society? Why do we not give him a hand in the maintenance of his f amily?
– The little ones are our best migrants.
– Yes, they are. They are Australia’s best assets. Surely the Government does not need to hold an inquiry to discover that in practical terms thousands of families are obliged to live close to the poverty line. I refer to those families in which there are 4 or 5 children or more and the father is earning a low income. I refer also to widows who are struggling to raise their children. These are the families which are particularly in need of government concern and assistance. Perhaps the Government can remedy this serious Budget omission by making a firm commitment in its election programme to increase substantially in the next budget child endowment payments. 1 find it curious that a Budget which professes to help the family - in fact it takes important steps to do so - should in another instance discriminate against the family. 1 refer to the provision of $5m for child care centres. It is a very good move and one which surely seems designed to attract married women into the work force. I have no objection to mothers being free to work if they want to do so, but by failing to increase child endowment the Government has positively disadvantaged those mothers who wish to give full time care to their families, and particularly to their children. Those mothers receive no subsidy. Those mothers who elect to stay at home and look after their children are conducting child welfare centres of their own. There is no subsidy for them. The Government will subsidise child care centres^ - a good thing, too - ‘when both parents go to work.
I suggest that the inquiry into the taxation system, which is to be conducted by Mr Justice Asprey, might consider the possibility of abolishing the present system of concessional tax deductions, except for those deductions which directly benefit families. There is a great deal more that I would like to say in connection with the Budget, but tonight I am obviously disadvantaged by my heavy cold. Had it not been for the fact that the debate on the Budget has not been very lively, I would not have spoken tonight. (Extension of time granted). I will not take the full extension, but I want to conclude in an orderly fashion. I have limited my speech because my larynx is not the best.
– The honourable senator’s thorax is not the best.
– Senator Mulvihill says that my thorax is not the best. His knowledge of the body is about as good as his knowledge of politics.
– The honourable senator does not know his first aid, because Senator Townley nodded in agreement with me.
– That does not make Senator Mulvihill right. If 1 want a plumber I send for a plumber. If I want a doctor I send for a doctor. Inflation, which raises the level of tax being paid by continually shifting people into higher tax brackets, is felt by all taxpayers under our existing tax system. Therefore I welcome the Budget’s major tax cuts, which will average 10 per cent, and the associated increase in dependant deductions. The Budget’s associated proposal to lift the minimum taxable income to $1,041. per annum is a good step and one that is long overdue.
We welcome the announcement with regard to estate duties because, as honourable senators know, we have pioneered the matter in this chamber from the time my colleague Senator Byrne moved an amendment to an amending estate duties Bill, which amendment was defeated because the ALP and a large section of the Government parties voted against it. Since then we have carried on the campaign. We are glad to welcome to our ranks Senator Negus who is interested in this matter. He is a new recruit to the DLP’s anti-estate duty party.
– Is he a DLP member?
– There is nothing wrong with him. He is of good character. The Budget has raised the exemption level for primary producers, and this step is only just. It has always been unfair that primary producers, because they are running a family business rather than a company, have to pay off their property during their lifetime and, when they have paid it off, all too often the Commonwealth and State estate duties take a large proportion of these hard earned productive assets. The home savings grant has been increased from $500 to $750. This increase also is in conformity with DLP policy. The acknowledgment of credit union savings is something for which we have barracked here. Honourable senators will recollect that Senator Little played a very important part in getting the Government to recognise this factor.
I deal now with the proposal to establish a national rural bank, something for which the DLP can claim some credit. Nothing gladdened my heart more than to hear Mr Sinclair, the Minister for Primary Industry, announce that it was the Government’s intention to establish a national rural bank with the particular purpose of providing long term loans.
– Because the private banking system has failed the primary producers.
– I suppose it has. This bank will be something special. It will be established by the Government to aid primary producers and to keep on the land people who have been there all their lives and who have run into debt because of circumstances beyond their control.
– The riches opening the door.
– I can see no fault in it. We have lived off the back of the sheep and off the back of the primary producer for a long time. Surely we will not allow this country, which is basically a primary producing country, to drift away from primary production because of the Government’s failure to recognise what is an essential requirement of the maintenance and furtherance of this great country. The bank will be established to deal with specific cases, as distinct from everything else, I take it. That is our idea of how it will operate. It will provide long term loans at a minimum rate of interest. Deductions will be made for administrative costs, but the remainder of the money will be made available. The money is available.
I listened with interest to the speech made last night by Senator Gietzelt. I listened to it intently. Having been a Premier and Treasurer of a State, I commend him for the great industry and the gre it research that he put into his study of the financial relationship between the Commonwealth and the States. While I do not agree with all his contentions, I commend him for his industry and research. The position today is no different from what it was in Chifley’s time or in Curtin’s time. There were no great signs of generosity in Menzies’ time or in Fadden’s time.
– Do not people expect more from local government now than they did 10 years ago?
– That could be true. People expect more from State governments, too. I think they are getting more. The States are getting a lot more from the Commonwealth than they got when I was Premier. The manner in which the States use their money is the important thing. Wc are very happy about this proposal to establish a national rural bank. It is just another example of the DLP leading and others following. We will continue to lead in the important and essential matters concerning this nation. We will not be bogged down by a lot of trivia. We put matters in their proper order of priorities. That is why we have advocated, since the formation of our Party, that defence should be high in the order of priorities. I am glad that the Government recognises the necessity to provide adequate defence - to build up our Navy and our Air Force. To keep ourselves prepared for any attack that might take place is nothing more or less than insurance for the defence of our people. Other speakers from my Party will contribute to the debate later.
Even though I have been hard to listen to tonight because of my repeated interruptions by coughing I believe that I have covered most of the ground that 1 wanted to cover. I conclude by saying that the DLP is pleased with the main effects of the Budget, namely, to extend social welfare reforms and to attempt a more equitable distribution of Australia’s wealth. We hope that the failure to increase child endowment will be remedied before the coming election. We are concerned that the Budget fails to recognise or provide sufficient weapons to combat inflation. But it avoids the error made by many past Treasurers of spreading its benefits so widely that no one notices them. Lastly, its emphasis is placed on the family man and it seeks to alleviate his more pressing economic problems. The DLP hopes that this emphasis will continue in following Budgets because in our view the family man is the basis of a sound and healthy Australia. Let us help him in every practical and possible way. I. believe that in addition to making it a contribution to his existence we will be making a very valuable one to Australia’s continuance.
– It is gratifying indeed to note Senate Gairs substantial approval of the Budget. I share his disappointment that his larynx may have affected his eloquence. I wish him a speedy recovery from his indisposition and assure him that despite his ailment he has put a very sound view to the Senate tonight.
– Are you, too, joining the DLP?
– I am often accused of it - without truth, of course. Like the whole population of Australia, I support this Budget. Lt is a Budget which has made major advances in social services, major reductions in taxation and it has entered into many fields of Australian life wherein governments have in the past rarely moved. It is not my intention to traverse in detail all the benefits which the Budget confers. But I shall make reference to a few of the matters. I think that the substantial increase in old age pensions of $1.75 coupled with the promise to abolish the means test within 3 years is a real breakthrough. How serious is this breakthrough is shown by the fact that Mr Whitlam, probably without the authority of his Federal Executive, has felt compelled to slash 3 years off the 6 years in which he had promised to abolish the means test.
One very important aspect of this matter is the fact that the Minister for Social Services (Mr Wentworth) has said that it will be abolished within 3 years. Of course, that does not mean that it will take 3 years to do it. If, as I would assume, we are successful at the forthcoming election I would not be at all surprised to see the means test go by the board very smartly. I approve of the increase in home savings grants, the new home nursing care scheme, the child care scheme, repatriation and general taxation remissions. Defence and immigration are to be maintained at their present high level. The immigration decision is particularly significant as being diametrically opposed to the ALP policy on population. The Government realises that to have a secure nation we need more people. This country of 13 million people has been estimated by various authorities to be capable of carrying between 50 million and 1 00 million people.
– Do you say that in the face of mechanisation and automation?
– I will deal with the honourable senator in a minute. I just want to explain this point. We are to assist to increase our population by a sane, intelligent immigration policy which will maintain in essence the homogeneity of our population. At the discredited ALP Federal Conference at Launceston last year the Labor Premier of South Australia, Mr Mr Dunstan, recommended an Asian intake of approximately 27,000 a year. I do not know what some of the trade unions think of this figure or, for that matter, what the Australian electorate thinks. At the same time, the ALP Federal Conference resolved that it should persuade Australian women not to have more than 2 children - that it was selfish to do so. What arrant nonsense. The members of the ALP want to open the floodgates to foreign immigration and at the same time restrict our natural increase in population. They are talking drivelling nonsense about zero population growth, abortion on demand and so forth. I say that Labor’s philosophy is the philosophy of a decadent and moribund political party, the policy which destroyed ancient Rome and if adopted would destroy modern Australia.
Of course, this leads quite naturally to the Labor Party’s current preoccupation, that is, tinkering with the currency or revaluation. Mr Whitlam has announced that a Labor government would appreciate the dollar and at the same time implement reductions in tariffs. This is simply a formula for reducing the income of the man on the land, for reducing our receipts from exports from mining companies and - what is not generally appreciated by honourable senators opposite - for increasing unemployment in the factories in our cities. I note that Mr Wiltshire, President of the Australian Industries Development Association, said last week:
An upward revaluation of the dollar would largely negate the economic stimulation which the Budget is designed to provide . . .
Mr Wiltshire went on to say:
The proponents for revaluation appear to overlook that the present level of unemployment is largely due to falling employment in manufacturing industry and a complementary falling off in employment growth in industries servicing manufacturing industry. The main purpose of the Budget is to step up demand, increasing the market for Australian production, and thus take up idle capacity and increase employment. This is the only way in which the present level of unemployment can be substantially reduced.
It is of very great significance and most important that we make known that the effect of revaluation will be felt not only in the primary industry sector of our economy. Mr Wiltshire continued:
Any Australian Government which in the present circumstances is misguided enough to revalue the Australian dollar and/or arbitrarily apply substantial tariff cuts will not see the steady reduction in unemployment that the Budget aims for . . .
I turn now to a matter of great significance in relation to the taxpayers’ television service, namely, the Australian Broadcasting Commission. The ABC, more than the commercial channels, puts out wide ranging public affairs programmes. They are made possible by generous funds from the Australian taxpayers’ pockets. It would be a most serious fault in this service if the programmes were unfair, biased or unbalanced. There is no doubt in my mind that ABC public and current affairs programmes are biased and unfair. I. hope to explain that statement to the Senate before I finish. I quote from portion of the Sydney Morning Herald’ of 26th August. Even my friend, Senator Mulvihill, will concede that the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ is not exactly in the pocket of the Government. Under the heading ‘Not a Sacred Cow’ the editorial states:
Once again, the Australian Broadcasting Commission is under fire, from political quarters, for its treatment of current affairs, particularly on television . . . The latest hue and cry has been raised by Sir Alan Hulme. His suggestion that members of the Commission should preview programme material is hardly practical. That is the function of management.
I interpolate here to say that the management of the ABC is merely the executive to carry out the will of the Commissioners and I want to make it abundantly clear that my complaint is not directed at the top management of the ABC. The newspaper editorial continues:
He is, however, perfectly justified in complaining of bias, political and otherwise, on programmes such as ‘This Day Tonight’. Here he has been joined by Mr McMahon . . .
– Your Prime Minister refuses to go on.
The ACTING PRESIDENT- Order!
-I do not know why this should disturb the honourable senator so much. I continue: . . and, more tentatively, by Mr Anthony. Sir Charles Moses, who as a former ABC general manager can speak with authority, freely concedes the danger of’young people with missionary zeal finding it difficult to resist pushing their particular barrow*. It is more than a danger; it has happened repeatedly over a long period. Not for nothing, and not altogether unfairly, has ‘This Day Tonight’ been rechristened ‘Hawke’s Half Hour’ or Today’s Distortion Tonight’.
Too often, with the use of bullying tactics in interviews, it has been grossly partisan and biased. It should be made plain to these ‘young people’ that they are paid out of taxpayers’ pockets and that (hey are not being paid to air their own callow prejudices.
The paper continues -
One commissioner feels that the constant criticism is having a’pretty devastating effect on the morale of oar people’. For this they deserve no sympathy at all. Some of them should stop behaving like hysterical ninnies and treating all criticism as self evident heresy. If they are such sensitive plants that they cannot take criticism as well as handit out they should get out of the current affairs’ field. The ABC is not a sacred cow and should never be treated as one’.
I thinkit is important in this context to point out some answers given by Sir Robert Madgwick, the Chairman of the Australian Broadcasting Commission, during a hearing of the Senate Standing Committee on Education, Science and the Arts on 6th June 1972. The evidence taken is contained in the Hansard report. I would like to read to the Senate from the Hansard report some of the questions I asked Sir Robert and the answers that he gave. They are as follows:
– Did I understand you to say, Sir Robert, that there was no parliamentary control of programme content?
Sir Robert Madgwick ; This is right.
– So you have an entirely free band in all public affairs matters which you transmit?
Sir Robert Madgwick ; That is right , yes.
– You are under no direction from the Government or the Opposition?
Sir Robert Madgwick ; No
– Pressure from either side?
Sir Robert Madgwick ; No
– I take it from your introductory statement that you are a strong protaganist of the independence of the ABC?
Sir Robert Madgwick; That is right.
– You would agree perhaps with Sir James Darling who was a distinguished predecessor of yours when he said that the ABC has only the right to independence if it is impartial?
Sir Robert Madgwick; I think so , yes. But I would go further than that.
Later on the same occasion Sir Robert - and I want honourable senators opposite to take particular note of this - said:
I have never said that the ABC programmes have always in my opinion been impartial. What 1 have said and what I believe to be true is that they never set out consciously not to be. When I say that I have never claimed that in my opinion they are always unbiased or impartial I do underline, if I may, the interpolation of the 3 words ‘in my opinion’ because these judgments are and must be subjective.
We have here an admission on oath - I repeat on oath - from Sir Robert Madgwick that for whatever reason, he does not claim that his programmes are always impartial or free from bias. This is a claim which has been made even by my distinguished friend opposite, Senator Douglas McClelland, who is one of my favourite television performers.
– I never said that.
– Oh, yes you did senator. I can recall your discussion with the honourable member for La Trobe (Mr Jess) in another place. Whilst Mr Jess pointed out that there was distinct bias in the Yugoslav programme which has preceded his segment you yourself felt that the whole thing was free from bias and impartial. So here we have the situation. For some reason which completely escapes me, honourable senators opposite seem to object to the American fairness doctrine.
– But you do not understand - -
– I think that when it comes to broadcasting and television that I understand a little more than the honourable senator.
It is no wonder that the PostmasterGeneral complained. He would have been lacking in his duty to the nation if he had not. On 4th June 1971 - over a year ago - that distinguished democrat, Mr Whitlam, spoke to the ABC Staff Association. As reported in the ‘Canberra Times’ of the following day Mr Whitlam said inter alia - and I will not quote the whole article because it was a long speech:
I confess there is an authoritarian streak in my party as strong as exists among my opponents. I know better than anybody, because if you examine it, all my battles within the Party have been against authoritarianism and intolerance.
Just to show how tolerant he was, Mr Whitlam is reported as follows:
He strongly disputed the requirement put on the ABC that it should attempt to provide ‘balance’ in its programmes.
In my view it is not surprising that Mr Whitlam’s disciples in the ABC have taken their master at his word. Balance is obviously the last thing they worry about.
One of the interesting aspects of discussions over the last fortnight has been the fact that whereas certain newspapers were making the claim that the ABC’s public affairs programmes were as pure as the driven snow, they have now discovered that they contain not only a modicum of bias but substantial slant. They have now decided - that is, those organs to which I have referred - that it was inevitable, that the Government just had to be criticised. Whilst I object strongly to political censorship from either side, all that I argue for is a fair go.
– Did you ever worry when-
– That may be contrary to the political philosophy of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board.
– Who is the democrat now?
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Byrne) - Order! Senator Mulvihill, kindly let Senator Hannan continue.
– This, Mr Acting Deputy President, is consonant with Senator Mulvihill’s philosophy since obviously he does not believe in the freedom of speech. He does not believe that we should get a fair go on the ABC. He believes that the present slanted, biased and distorted programmes pedalling his wretched political philosophy should be continued.
I want to return to the fact that even one of the ABC Commissioners - Commissioner Richardson - who rushed in to defend his brood had to concede:
It does not surprise me that current affairs staff producing programmes 5 days a week under constant pressure are sometimes a little off balance.
This must rank as the understatement of the century. This matter could well perhaps have failed to receive the examination which it has received if it had not been for the courage of one of the ABC Commissioners. I refer to a report of Mr James Tehan which appeared in the ‘Sun’ on 18th August 1972. In part the report stated:
A Victorian member in the Australian Broadcasting Commission yesterday criticised a small minority of the ABC current affairs staff.
Mr James Tehan, 66, a commissioner since last year, said this minority pushed a consistent idealogical line on their programmes.
In a statement Mr Tehan, a grazier near Mansfield, said it was with great reluctance that he entered the dispute.
I do so because the chairman and one other member of the commission may by their published statements have created the impression that their views represent the majority opinion of the commission.
So much so, that should I remain silent my own position could be seriously misrepresented.’ (Quorum formed.) 1 return to my quotation from Mr Tehan:
Let me make this clear: No one has called into question the policy being implemented by the senior management of the ABC, in particular by the general manager.
The issue, I fear, has been clouded. “The Minister has not criticised the general manager, rather has he criticised those employees who should be subject to the general manager but who have attempted to supersede his rights.
Let me emphasise that the vast majority of our employees are perfectly loyal and understand both the rights and responsibilities which flow from the autonomy of the ABC
A small minority in current affairs have by their actions caused great criticism of the commission and have been unfair to their own colleagues through their persistent ideological line.
It is misleading for any member of the commission to create an impression that there is unanimous support for these people.
All that the Government has ever asked for is a fair go, an application of what the Americans call, under the Federal Communications Commission, the implementation of the fairness doctrine. This simply means that where one side of a public controversy has been put the other side must also be put. This is not always easy. I concede that there are difficulties. It does not mean that the balance must be achieved on the same session, but it should be within a reasonable time. It certainly does not mean what one of the sillier columnists of the Melbourne ‘Age’, a certain Pinkney, put recently, that every controversial statement has immediately to be rebutted.
In support of my proposition that the ABC is running a particular line in its current affairs programmes, I turn to an address given by Mr Gerald Stone, senior reporter of the ABC’s programme ‘This Day Tonight’, when addressing a seminar of the Australian Association for Cultural Freedom on 27th May 1971. I do not propose to quote his remarks in toto because his address was longer than one of Senator Mulvihill’s adjournment speeches. I propose to pick out sentences from his address. I am quite prepared to table the document, but because of its length I can refer only to particular paragraphs in the course of my remarks. He said:
In that time, the programme has had a considerable Impact on Australian society.
That is true. It has an excellent format and it is well produced. It is the bias to which 1 take exception. With the same modesty which characterises journalists everywhere Mr Stone went on to say while talking about the success of the programme: we have working for us some of the most talented, intelligent journalists in any news organisation in the country. Not the so called pretty boys of previous years in broadcasting - the ones with the big, dramatic voices and the empty minds - but experienced professional journalists
A little later in his address, referring to Mr Ormsby Wilkins, a well known Melbourne commentator, he said:
Mr Ormsby Wilkins, for example, has said that our programme is cleverly produced to push a left-wing line . . . We are broadcasting over a publicly owned network-
That is the burden of my song, that he has no right to editorialise - in a highly sensitive area of communications. We have the potential to do a great deal of damage, as well as a great deal of good. People of a set political or moral persuasion have a right - and perhaps even a duty - to look at us closely to judge whether we are giving a fair portrayal of causes and events.
That is just what I am asking the Senate to do tonight in respect of the programme This Day Tonight’. Mr Stone continued: . . one of the main requirements of a TDT reporter is that he not only be competent at his on-camera work, but that he be able to contribute ideas and criticism.
Translating this into action, it means that he must be able to think up some knocking ideas. Mr Stone continued:
The standards we use for selecting our material are basically the same as in any editorial unit. Our judgments are made within the framework of 3 broad values: First, our concept of the mandate handed to us by the ABC management in setting up the programme; secondly, our concept of our audience, its tastes and range of interests; third, our concept of journalistic integrity - of the duty to report matters of public importance and urgency regardless of any apparent conflict with the other 2 factors 1 have just mentioned.
In other words, Stone is going to tun and show exactly as he likes. Later in the same speech he said:
A little while ago I assured you that This Day Tonight does not set out to propagandise for any political party or movement. I’m afraid I can’t be as emphatic in talking about our approach to particular causes or issues. Anyone who has viewed our programme over the years will know that we have tended to emphasise certain stories: censorship, the treatment of Aborigines and attitudes towards colour, deficiencies of social welfare, dissent and the conflict between civil liberties and the needs of the state.
I do not think it is necessary to pursue Stone’s address very much further because what 1 have quoted is a complete admission that the programme editorialises. Towards the end of his speech he said:
Trying to look as objectively as possible at myself and my colleagues, I would say that any individual bias we might have influencing our programme decisions shows itself in 3 basic assumptions.
I ask the Senate to note these extraordinary assumptions, and why a Canadian should make them I do not know. He said:
We, as Australians, are not as free as we should be. We are not as well off as we think we are. We are not as good to each other and to outsiders as we claim to be.
This strikes me as being a pretty rotten philosophy on which to base a programme on current affairs.
My time is running out, but I do want to make a passing reference to the work of Mr George Shipp, a lecturer in the School of Political Science at the University of New South Wales. The circumstances in which he prepared the article from which I propose to quote included the fact that he was the first speaker to comment on the address made by Mr Gerald Stone. I have not time to read the whole article which appeared in the May- June 1971 issue of Quadrant’. Shipp announced that he proposed scientifically to analyse a continuous series of segments of the TDT programme to ascertain whether there was any observable bias. He did not say whether there was any, but it was his purpose to find out whether there was any. Later in this chamber I hope to deal with Shipp’s points in detail, but for the time being I propose to refer with precision and accuracy to the things that happened to Shipp once he announced that he intended to make this inquiry. Shipp said at page 33 of the issue of ‘Quadrant’ to which I have referred:
The attempts to dissuade me from proceeding wilh the project made before I gave the talk on which this article is based are mild when compared to what followed. The attacks then made displayed a degree of fury, malice, unscrupulousness and disregard for the truth which allow only one interpretation: they were designed to intimidate me -
What do honourable senators opposite say about that? He continued: into abandoning the project, to destroy my reputation and fitness as an academic, to question my competence and personal integrity, and to prepare the way for attacking the findings of the research should they, as the attackers knew or feared, be harmful to their ideological and political interests. An incidental consequence (if not purpose) of the viciousness of the reaction was to dissuade those who may have been aware of the falseness of the charges from entering the controversy . . .
This is the point that I want to make: Shipp is a scientific university investigator. He announced no bias. He did not know whether there was any bias in the programme, but when he set out to ascertain by scientific investigation whether there was any he received this stream of abuse and there was an attempt to prevent him from carrying out his investigation. Why would anyone want to try to stop Shipp from making that observation? I think the Postmaster-General’s complaints were completely and thoroughly justified. J revert to my original remarks for a moment to say that I think this is a thoroughly good Budget.
– I do not think anyone would be surprised at the speech made by Senator Hannan who has just resumed his seat. During the honourable senator’s term in the Senate most of us have observed that he takes a very hard line. He is against reform and when he becomes concerned about the threat of progressive ideas many of his comments can be likened to those of Senator McCarthy in the United States.
This is what has happened tonight. 1 propose to refer only to 2 points made by Senator Hannan. The honourable senator dealt with 2 questions which are not related directly to the Budget Speech or the strategy of the Budget.
– That is his right.
– -Of course it is. The honourable senator talked about the Australian Broadcasting Commission and concentrated most of his remarks on that organisation. It is rather significant that in this election year Senator Hannan and other Liberal senators, including Senator Greenwood, have concentrated their attack on the Australian Broadcasting Commission. Most people in the community believe that the ABC is carrying out an independent role and most will agree that it must be independent.
– I agree with that.
– I want to draw Senator Hannan’s attention to the fact that as late as February this year the PostmasterGeneral (Sir Alan Hulme) defended the ABC. He said that the ABC was in fact producing balanced programmes.
– Including This Day Tonight’.
– Of course. But recently there has been a change in his attitude. What is happening of course is that this Government which has been in office for 23 years is, as always, conscious of what the electorate thinks. The McMahon Government knows at this stage that it is very much suspected by the electorate, and it wants to raise issues which will create the illusion that some force in the community is persuading people against their will to do certain things or is subverting their opinions. But no Government senator said anything about Packer when he claimed that he got rid of John Gorton. There were no complaints then.
– Packer does nol run This Day Tonight’.
– The honourable senator made no complaints. I have never heard him complain in the Senate about Packer slating that he had got rid of Mr Gorton when he was Prime Minister. It seems to me that Senator Hannan’s role in this place is fairly well established. He is not a progressive senator. Most people seem to reconcile his views with reactionary views -I think the honourable senator’s views are reactionary. The honourable senator said nothing about the Budget. Permit me to comment on the honourable senator’s references.
-I have never objected to you calling me reactionary.
– Of course you are reactionary.
– I have never objected to you callingthe reactionary.
– Of course Senator Hannan is reactionary. May I refer to the second question raised by Senator Hannan. He talked about the debate on revaluation between the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr Anthony) and the Leader of the Opposition in the other place. Of course nobody has reminded the Deputy Prime Minister of what he has said about tariffs and protectionsin speeches he made before this debate. Permit me to read to the Senate what the Deputy Prime Minister said to the Australian Institute of Management in Victoria on 25th March 1971. This was his serious contribution to the question of tariffs and protection. I shall quote from a copy ofhis speech which was circulated to all members of this Parliament. The Deputy Prime Minister said:
MayI offer some general observations. It seems to me that too much attention has been paid to the tariffs’ role in Australian industrial development. It is as if the only thing that mattered toindustry was the protection afforded it against overseas competition.
Who said that? The Deputy Prime Minister. Under the sub-title ‘Excessive Protection Must be Avoided’ he went on to say:
The sixth fact is that protection brings with it costs as well as advantages to the nation. So we must avoid excessive protection. We must be discriminating. We cannot afford any feather-bedding of industries. Nor can we afford the luxury of giving protection, as of right, to any firm which wants it. We are not in the situation of needing industry at any price.
What is going on today is that the Government, knowing that the electorate is sick and tired of it, is raising both in the House of Representatives and in the Senate every contentious issue that it can. It is raising every gimmick it can which it thinks will gain a response from some section of the community. I am sure that the voters are getting sick and tired of hearing Ministers of this Government referring to what the unions want, such as the 35-hour-week and civil rights.
– And no work between meals.
– There was no surprise in what Senator Gair did tonight. He applauded the Government.
– Hear, hear!
– Of course. Who is surprised by that? Senator Gair has been doing it all the time. Senator Gair is on record as leader of a splinter party which can dictate the policy of the Government. The simple conclusion to arrive at in these matters is that on every test the DLP supports the Government. That is no surprise to anybody; it is no surprise to the electorate. When Senator Gair or any other DLP senator speaks in this chamber we see smiles on the faces of the Ministers on the other side of the chamber because they know that the DLP senators will say the right things. It is unfortunate that people like ourselves, who have come up through the ranks of the Labor movement and who have spent many years of their lives advancing the cause of Labor and have sought reforms, should at this late stage decide to support a Government which is on its way out.
– It is a sinking ship.
– It is a sinking ship. Very soon Senator Gair will have to accommodate himself to a new climate in this place, for then it will not be the Liberal Party which is making the decisions.
– Is that a threat?
– No, it is not a threat.
– This is democracy at work.
– No, it is not a threat. What I said about the DLP was certainly not a threat. Rather, it was an inducement. I simply say to Senator Gair and to the other DLP senators that before long they will have to accommodate themselves to a Labor government and that I hope they will. I hope that the traditions they knew in their early days will be respected and that they will assist the Labor government to govern this country. Senator Gair will have the option to do this. In commenting on the issues of the election, because these arc election issues, I would say that most people in the community realise that the Budget which has been brought down by this Government is an election Budget. They realise that in offering what are in fact improvements to the community - social welfare improvements - the Government is offering a pant of policies which the Labor Party has been advocating for many years. As often happens in an electoral contest, the party in government, which is afraid of its position in the community, pinches the policies of the Opposition. That is exactly what the Liberal Party has done on this occasion.
But I would remind honourable senators that in previous years this was not the position. If honourable senators will look at the strategy of the Budget they will see that on every occasion of an evaluation of what the Government should do, the Government finds very elaborate words to decide what it should do. In the years that have preceded this election the Government has generally put the brakes on the economy. Honourable senators must remember that the Federal Government has complete control over the economy of Australia and that whatever targets it sets for the economy are the targets which State governments have to match; that is its role. The Federal Government says ‘We do it’, and if unemployment increases as a result, it tries to pass the buck to the State governments. But if one challenges the Government it will deny that it is its responsibility to ensure that the economy will work and that there is a satisfactory decrease in unemployment. 1 remind honourable senators of what happened as a result of the last Budget brought down by the Gorton Government. It was a depressive one. It placed sales tax and other heavy increases on the community because it claimed that there was a need to depress the economy in order to reduce consumer spending. That situation was like the situation which earlier Liberal governments had occasioned when they had stop-go policies. We do not believe in stop-go policies. The Australian Labor Party says that the economy ought to be geared to make sure that there is proper economic growth each year. There should be a plan. In the past a number of Liberal governments have decided in a haphazard way how the economy should work. We had the Gorton
Government applying pressures against demand. It increased sales tax on motor cars. It increased all the things which make up-
– Is the honourable senator’s party going to reduce sales fa* when it gets in?
– That is a silly question, as the honourable senator ought to know. This is the funny thing: There is a strange method of logic about the Australian Democratic Labor Party senators and Liberal Party senators because as soon as we talk about unemployment or sales tax or the Government stopping consumer demand they say: ‘What would you do if you were in government?’ I say to the Senate that this Liberal-Country Party Government has been in power for 23 years. If it believes in the sorts of things it is putting up at this election such as social welfare, the need to control overseas investment and the need to plan the economy, why has it not done these things during those 23 years? All of a sudden it discovers thai the things it did in earlier years are wrong. I told honourable senators in 1970-71 that the Budget was depressive; it stopped the industries in every State, but particularly in my State of South Australia where a quarter of the manufacturing potential is vested in consumer production, motor cars, refrigerators and consumer goods, lt stopped these industries by placing heavy imposts on them. We have not recovered from that.
Last year the Treasurer (Mr Snedden) came along and said: ‘Things are still bad. There is wage-induced inflation which has to stop. The unions have to be told not to make extravagant wage claims. We are going to put the brakes on again.’ That has been the Government’s continuity of thought. Its actions have been centred largely against the trade unions and workers. Honourable senators may ask why. Of course this year the Government has changed its tune, lt has said that it is time to increase consumer spending. In doing that it has not vindicated its stand of previous years because it has gone against its activities over all those years when it has charged that the trade union movement and the workers have been making extravagant claims and that their role in the community has produced wage-induced inflation. I remind the Senate that we have been used to this sort of tactic for many months. Not only did the Government make these claims, as honourable senators know, but also the Ministers said: ‘We will go before the arbitration tribunals on every occasion and resist excessive wage claims.’ Of course they did not only do that. This comes back to what they are doing now. Now they are saying that people have to spend more. If we stop workers from obtaining wage increases and if we stop economic activity workers will not spend more.
– They do not have it to spend.
– Of course they do not have it to spend. So we have the sort of recession which produces the 112,000 unemployed which we have. The Government attacks the trade union movement even though it has changed the law of the Land. I want to refer to the changes in the law of the land. On 2 occasions this Government has introduced extraordinary laws against unions, not only against the traditional unions such as the metal workers and the railway workers but also against its own public servants. Everybody remembers that the Commonwealth Public Service Act was amended early this year. It was a thrust, a tryout for legislation against the union. The Government introduced a law which provided that its own Commonwealth servants could be stood down, put off from gainful employment, if there was a dispute outside Commonwealth departments. That was the first try-on. We resisted that amendment. We were the only Party in the Parliament which said that this was not right. We asked: ‘Why should you put heavy imposts on people in the Commonwealth Public Service, particularly when they are not involved in disputes? Why should you book them off?’ But Parliament carried the law. The Act was amended following repeated petitions by the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Lynch), the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) and many other Ministers who attacked the unions for their wage claims. They attacked the waterside workers and the stevedores in the maritime industry for settling a 35-hour week with the stevedoring authorities. While the Government was doing that it said: ‘We are going to bring in a new law in relation to conciliation and arbitration.’ What have we had? In recent months by Acts which this Party opposed this Government has brought in more restrictions against the workers than have ever been introduced in the life of the Australian Constitution. It has introduced more laws to stop the workers from obtaining increases. The Government, to defend its position, has tried to relate union activity on every occasion to communists or militants.
– They learnt their tricks from Chifley.
– Senator Gair is living in the past except that in relation to the present day he is supporting the wrong Party. We have said that the Labor Party believes in settling disputes between employers and unions across the board, around the table. We are satisfied that in the Australian community today most of the organised employers are in favour of that process. That is the process that we ought to use.
– They sometimes make higher profits out of it. The honourable senator would not expect them to be opposed to it?
– Yes, but when we bring up the matter of price control the Government says: ‘Look; the threat of inflation is because the workers are getting too much in salary increases by arrangement or through the courts.’ When we ask about price control honourable senators opposite say that the Liberal Government does not believe in price control, that it is a free enterprise party. The Government says: ‘We cannot do anything about this because the Commonwealth Government does not have the power. It cannot work with the States.’ But it does not even try to work with the States. The Commonwealth Government does not believe in price control.
– I know something about price control.
– You might, senator.
– I was a Minister for price control.
– Yes, I know. Why do you not support–
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Byrne) - Order! Senator Bishop, you will address the Chair.
– Yes, Mr Acting Deputy President. In this day and age, everybody knows that prices are settled between the managers and other people in the community. They are set by arrangement. This is done in secret deals? They are settled like the price controls which were introduced in February by Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd. Nobody says anything about that. The Government says: ‘We cannot do anything about it’. Of course the correct policy, the Labor Party policy, is to have a prices justification committee of some sort. We have also pointed out that in the States where the Labor Party reigns at least there is some semblance of price control. Mr Acting Deputy President, I put it to you that this Government believes that action should be taken against workers who want to increase their wages. The Government says that on every occasion it will go before the tribunals of the land and resist excessive wage increases. We know that it has done this. We know that it has carried on a campaign in relation to the issues confronting the waterfront industry. What happened in relation to the waterfront industry is that we had a situation where the employers, the unions and the court finally said to the Government: ‘Mind your own business, because the matter has been settled. They have received near enough to a 35-hour week but in return an arrangement has been made ‘between the bosses and the workers to ensure that there will be no unnecessary loss of work because of disputes.’ That is the sort of situation that ought to obtain. We find the same situation in relation to the oil industry dispute. There was a proposition by the President of the Australian Council of Trade Unions, Mr Hawke, who now becomes infamous from the point of view of the Government. In previous years the ACTU was always the respected brother of government activity. The Government always used to talk to the ACTU-
– It is now, Senator Webster. Despite what the Government says in this chamber, often Ministers telephone Bob Hawke or Harold Souter and say: ‘What about this dispute? What can you do to shorten it?’ The ACTU does what it has always done. It says: ‘Yes, we will help you settle the dispute.’ But in the oil industry dispute the Government made up its mind about the rates of pay that might be awarded in relation to maintenance workers and people in the industry. That is the Government’s fixation and that is the point of view it adopts so the Government made no efforts to solve the dispute. In fact, it resisted what the ACTU sought to do, namely to supply fuel to the community. The Government said that it was not possible to allow any outside body to solve this problem by arranging to supply petrol to the community. What was more, the Government said that the workers should return to work.
I point out to the Senate that the oil dispute was settled by negotiation. What this community needs is the relationship between the unions, the employers and the Government which existed years ago when any dispute which arose was instantly the subject of investigation. Past governments did not carry on with the sort of nonsense which this Government has carried on with for many years.
I could give honourable senators a great many examples of this fact. The evidence is on the record. For many months now, every member of the Parliament has been plagued by statements on industrial matters from Ministers. Almost every week members receive Letters from Ministers, particularly from the Minister for Labour and National Service in relation to industrial matters, propagandising the Government’s position and trying to persuade people that the Government’s point of view which is designed to stop increases in wage rates is correct. What has happened? Despite the attention currently being given to this matter and despite the amendments to the conciliation and arbitration law, the Government has suddenly changed its mind, lt has said in its Budget: ‘Now we must increase consumer spending’. If consumer spending was increased - we advocate this, it is true - industries would be geared again for production and the rate of growth would increase.
Some references have been made in this Senate to the unemployment position in States controlled by Labor governments where the unemployment ratio to a small extent is proportionately higher than the national average. Let us not be unfair in this respect. The Commonwealth Government obviously must accept responsibility for unemployment levels, lt has stated in the past - the Treasurer is on record in this respect - that unemployment will not increase to the extent that 100,000 workers will be registered for employment. The facts have disproved that statement. In February of this year, Mr Snedden said:
The fullness of these facts has not been picked up by some observers. But the facts are as I have stated them; and those facts make nonsense of some irresponsible predictions 1 have seen reported. For example, one earlier this month was to the effect that another 50,000 people could be out of work within 2 or 3 months.
He went on to say that unemployment would not reach the level which it did reach later in the year. The Leader of the Government in the Senate, Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson, said that the Opposition was plucking a figure out of the air when we suggested that by the end of June this year 100,000 workers would be out of work. In fact, by the end of June, 1 12,000 workers were out of work.
– Not all registered either.
– No, not all unemployed were registered.
– The Minister admitted that.
– And there are other incidental matters, too. In fact, there are a great many of them. Another glaring point to consider is that the unemployment benefits paid presently to unemployed workers are below the level of poverty determined by the person who has been selected by the Government to conduct the survey into poverty. Yet, on 2 occasions in this chamber Senator Wright has said that the amounts for unemployed registrants were not only satisfactory but also gracious. But these payments are below the poverty line. How can anyone do business with a government which believes that a payment below an established poverty line is fair for people who are kept out of work? What is more important is the loss of production resulting from unemployment.
– This year, $46m in wages has been lost through industrial disputes.
– That is right. There are losses through strikes and through accidents on the job. Losses occur in production but the reasons for these losses can be corrected. I have said often in this place - I have drawn the attention of Senator Wright to this fact - that the Commonwealth Government has not yet, in cooperation with the States, demanded the establishment of a uniform system of keeping industrial accident statistics. The loss of production last year through unemployment totalled 20 million man days whereas the loss of production resulting from strikes was only 3 million man days.
– Senator Wright missed those statistics. He is not listening.
– Yes. Loss of production resulting from accidents on the job amounted to 4 million man days. This loss can be corrected through the use of properly kept statistics and proper organisation. The Government can correct problems arising from 2 matters that I have mentioned. It can introduce policies to correct the loss of time caused through industrial accidents. It can take decisions, too, to reduce unemployment because unemployment stops the production of essential materials. It wastes wealth and manpower. Estimates based on the current economic situation show that the loss of production caused by unemployment will run at approximately 24 million man days this year.
What I have tried to point out to the Senate is that the Commonwealth Government, being the arbiter on how the economy should work, has responsibility for the manner in which the States operate. If the States are able to gear their industries to the economy, the necessary consumer demand will eventuate. For instance, in South Australia people in the motor vehicle industry and people engaged in producing refrigerators and washing machines will enjoy full employment and full production. They will ensure that other workers in industry spend their money and create demand. I turn to Western Australia. If the Labor Government of Western Australia found it possible to gear economy to what it desired, the problems caused by the decline in the mineral industry, for instance, which was no fault of the Labor Government, could be adjusted by some other type of work being undertaken. There is no reason why the Federal Government should not assist in this respect. lt always seems odd to mc that the Commonwealth Government in trying to defend the growth in unemployment talks about the fractional rate of unemployment in the various States. I have pointed out to the Senate that in my own State much of the downturn in the past has been caused by the policies of the Commonwealth Government. This is not contested today because, as we know petitions are presented to the Parliament day after day showing that each State Government, be it Labor or Liberal faces great problems in running its economy. On most occasions when the Federal Government gives handouts to the States, the States must increase taxes on their citizens. This means that greater burdens are imposed within the States.
As everybody knows the Stale governments and local government authorities have written to the Government and to honourable senators and have asked for example, for changes in departmental arrangements. I refer, of course, to what the Postmaster-General’s Department decided with respect to regrouping ils various offices and associated industries. The Postmaster-General’s Department is not the only department involved. Many workers have been taken from country areas - Mount Gambier is an example - and shifted to positions closer to metropolitan areas. In doing so, these departments have placed additional burdens on local authorities. But, in addition-
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Withers) - Order! The honourable senator’s time has expired.
– lt gives me great pleasure to speak in this Budget debate. I say that for a number of reasons. The first is that this is a Budget to be welcomed by the Senate, and it is a Budget that from my observations has been welcomed and well received already by the Australian people. The second is that this is a very wide ranging debate and it gives me the chance to talk about some of the problems of the State of Queensland which I have the honour to represent. I might add in passing that I believe I will be representing that State for many years to come.
Firstly, I want to say something about the Budget. You may recall, Mr Acting Deputy President, that when I came here last year I confessed that 1 was not fortunate enough to have had a very high academic education. I said at that time that I had attended the school of hard knocks. I have listened very carefully to some of the socalled academics on the Opposition side of this chamber and 1 have come to the conclusion, repeatedly, that perhaps the school of hard knocks is far more useful when one tries to make a contribution to matters that affect this nation as a whole, lt follows that I am not able to engage in an economic discussion on the Budget. 1 would say that like the great majority of Australians I can consider the Budget only in the context of what it will do for our people - and by that I mean all the people in this nation and the nation as a whole. After all, the Budget affects everybody - the taxpayers, the pensioners, the sick, the suffering, the children in our schools, the industrialists, the farmers; in fact, all people in this wonderful country in which we live.
If anyone doubts the value of this Budget or the fact that it has been well accepted by the Australian people he should study more closely the speech made by the main Opposition speaker in this debate. After studying that speech I think he could find very little to complain about. That is because this Budget will go town in history as one of the best budgets ever presented to the Australian Parliament. As I said before, the Commonwealth Budget affects everyone in this nation. In some years it has affected some people more than others. In other years it has imposed additional taxes on people and on sections of our industry. This year, I believe, for the first time for many years this Budget affects everyone in a very beneficial way. I believe that many people will benefit from it. Taxes are not going to increase; in fact, they are going to be reduced for all general taxpayers. As I understand it - and I have been a working man for many years - this Budget will put more money into the pockets of the working man. It will increase spending in our community. It will benefit business people and our country as a whole, lt may seem strange that from, a Budget in which taxes are reduced many sections of our community will gain additional and, in some cases, many new benefits. In that regard it probably is a unique Budget and that is one of the reasons why I believe the people of Australia have accepted it so readily.
I am particularly impressed with the new social welfare provisions. I am sure that the people of Australia are impressed also. I believe that the Parliament and the people are indebted to the Minister for Social Services (Mr Wentworth) for the achievements in the social welfare field which were announced in this Budget. I believe that this is an outstanding mark and the beginning of a new era in social welfare services in this wonderful country in which we are so fortunate to live. I believe that the increase in pensions has been welcomed throughout the nation. It follows increases brought in earlier this year and in the last Budget. In the relatively short period of 18 months in which the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) has been in office there have been 4 increases in basic pension rates. From what I can gather, never before in the history of Australia have there been 4 pension rises in such a short period.
– And they were all needed.
– Despite the noise that seems to be coming from the Opposition side of the chamber, this is a record of which I am very proud. I believe it is a record of which this Government also can be proud. Not only have pensions been increased but also the eligibility for pension benefits has been increased considerably. A promise has been given that the means test will be abolished in 3 years - perhaps even less. The Government also has decided to set up an inquiry into the introduction of a national superannuation scheme in this country and into poverty. Surely these are positive proposals in a social welfare field and surely they deserve the support not only of the Senate but also of all people in this nation.
I want to refer in some detail to the inquiry into poverty which was promised some weeks ago by the Prime Minister. I understand that the terms of reference for this inquiry will be determined on the recommendations of the Minister for Social Services. I think we can feel confident that the inquiry will be carried out in depth and very thoroughly. I have had dealings with the Minister for Social Services for many years and he has 2 very fine qualities which should be recognised not only by members of this Parliament but by ail people. The 2 qualities to which 1 refer are compassion and understanding. He has displayed these things by the tenacity he has shown in bringing about the changes in social welfare that we see today.
No one would doubt that poverty exists in this country and we have to ensure that it is eradicated. We must do everything possible to bring this about. However, while doing so we must know the extent of poverty in Australia and the reasons for it. I believe that the best way to determine these facts is by an inquiry into all aspects of poverty. I hope that this inquiry will not be restricted to the capital cities but that it will include also towns and country areas. I believe that poverty exists in all parts of this country. Perhaps it exists to a greater degree in country areas than most people realise. I believe that this inquiry is a step in the right direction. I am certain that the authority chosen by the Government to conduct the inquiry will be able to present a report to the Government which will form the basis for a war on poverty in this country.
There is no doubt that by world standards we live in an affluent society, but there are still areas in this nation that are in need of attention. In my opinion there are still people who are in need of real assistance because of the position in which they find themselves. All too often - perhaps far too often - they get themselves into great difficulties through no fault of their own - through a death in the family, illness, accident, or unemployment caused by retrenchment and automation. I. believe that all Government authorities have a responsibility to assist these people. By means of this Budget and by means of the proposed inquiry into the levels of poverty, I believe that the Federal Liberal-Country Party Government is taking a very positive step and making a useful contribution towards assisting those who face hardship and problems in this nation. As one who is proud to be a member of the Government earn and as one who I firmly believe will be contesting an election in the next few months,I proudly support the measures that have been promised and that I know most surely will be implemented in a short space of time.
– How about giving us something off the cuff now; you have plenty of time.
-I will come to that in time. I am quite sure–
– You have been here long enough to observe the rules.
– Mr Acting Deputy President, last night we restrained ourselves from commenting on the fact that a senator on the side of the chamber on which Senator Georges sits read the whole of his speech. Could we be spared the indignity of one of our senators not being treated similarly?
– Could I point out that you were not asked to be restrained.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Withers) - Senator Georges, are you raising a point of order?
– No, I am not.
– The Budget also makes provision for greatly improved assistance to those who are in need of nursing attention, both through assistance to nursing homes and through the medical programme to assist financially those who are in need of nursing attention in their own homes. The Minister for Health, Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson, gave the Senate some 2 weeks ago a very detailed explanation of the new arrangements. I am certain that these new arrangements will be warmly welcomed by the operators of nursing homes and by the people who are in need of home nursing care. At the present time this problem poses a great burden not only on the sick themselves but also on their relatives and the people who are trying to assist them. The new measures, I believe, will help to relieve this problem quite considerably.
I have spoken for some time about the Budget and the matters associated with it. Now I turn my attention to my own State of Queensland. Perhaps the honourable senator who saw fit to interject a moment ago at least will have the common courtesy to bear with me while I mention some of the matters that affect my own State. To me, unemployment at any level or to any degree is bad and quite unnecessary. But it is a fact of life that unemployment exists in every country. By world standards Australia has a low level of unemployment, yet by our standards it is far too high. I hope that it will be reduced in the near future.
– A 100 per cent increase in the life of this Parliament.
– I am quite certain that the budgetary measures willhelp considerably to achieve this reduction even though Senator McAuliffe may not agree with me. I believe that Queensland can take some consolation from one aspect of the level of unemployment in Australia at this moment, because the level of unemployment in Queensland is lower than that in the other States and, 1 am given to understand, it is even well below the national level. In fact, the level of unemployment is highest, as I understand it, in those States which are at present under the control of Labor governments. Western Australia is a very noticeable example. As I understand it, unemployment in that State is almost double, in percentage terms, the level of unemployment in my State.
I wonder - I hope that many of the Australian people will wonder with me - what would be the level of unemployment in Queensland were it not for the development that has taken place in recent years throughout the State. Of course, much of this development has been made possible only through the use of foreign capital. While I believe firmly it is quite essential that the inflow of foreign capital be watched very carefully, I think it is very timely also to stress that without foreign capital Queensland would be a Cinderella State and certainly there would be a very high level - I stress the words ‘very high level’ - of unemployment. There are always 2 sides to the story of overseas investment. We in Queensland should never forget the real benefits and the tremendous growth that it has helped to bring to the sunshine State. But, as I said, there are 2 sides to the story. 1 have tried to bring before the Senate that side which has been most beneficial to my State. That is one of the reasons - it is only one of the many reasons - why my State would suffer were a Labor government to be elected to office later this year. A Labor government would end Queensland’s free hospital system; it would drastically reduce the size of our armed forces in Queensland; and it certainly would impede the growth of Queensland. These are facts which cannot be disputed, and I am quite sure they will be revealed further during the coming Federal election campaign in my State as well as perhaps throughout the nation.
I spoke earlier of some areas of need that I had come across during my brief term of office. I would like now to elaborate on some of these. I have been in this Parliament for a little more than 12 months. During that time I have had the opportunity of moving around my State quite considerably.
– You went through Mount Isa pretty quickly.
– Despite the noise that seems to be coming from the so called academic side of the chamber, I would like to tell honourable senators something of the problems that 1 have found during my tours around my State. I would like to point to some of the difficulties and some of the problems that are being faced by many people living in the outlying areas of Queensland. As honourable senators will probably know, Queensland is quite a big State. The people of that State have faced many problems.
One of the problems on which I would like to touch relates to a question I asked about 2 weeks ago regarding the provision of economy class air travel for people in outback areas of Queensland. Let me quote an instance. Persons living in places such as Winton, Blackall or Charleville who have to travel by air can travel only first class because that is all the airlines provide. On flights between more populated areas such as Brisbane and Rockhampton or similar cities, passengers have the choice of either first class or economy class. A person living in Blackall can fly only first class; A person living in Blackall who is in need - of specialist medical attention or whose child needs specialist medical attention has to travel to Brisbane to receive that attention. The first class fare from
Blackall to Brisbane and return is $94.80. On top of that, such a person would have to pay for two, three or even four days accommodation in Brisbane. The accommodation and air travel could set him back about $200. That is what it would cost him to receive the same kind of medical attention as people in the more populated areas receive for probably $5 or $6. These people are not asking the Government to pay their fares. All that they are asking is that they be allowed to claim this kind of expenditure as a tax deduction in their tax returns at the end of the financial year. At the moment all they can claim is the cost of the actual medical attention. They receive the same attention as people in the larger cities receive for a minimum amount of money, but they are out of pocket quite a deal of money. That is one of the problems.
There is another problem which I believe has to be looked at very closely by the Government. It relates to children of families who live in very isolated ureas and who are suffering because of the problems associated with their education. I hope that 1 and my colleagues from Queensland - Senator Maunsell, Senator Lawrie and Senator Wood - will be able to approach the appropriate Ministers to do something about this problem. There are other problems in Queensland on which I believe the Budget does not really touch. I hope that I and my colleagues from Queensland will be able to bring these problems to the attention of the appropriate Ministers. The other Queensland senators do not seem to be concerned about those problems. 1 hope that I will be able to do something about those problems in the near future.
– The honourable senator is in a position to talk to the appropriate Ministers.
– Senator Georges will be able to have his say. I am trying to conclude my speech. I hope that all people in this wonderful country will accept the Budget for what it is trying to do for them. 1 am quite happy to support it. I welcome it because 1 believe that it will meet the needs of the people of this nation.
– I commend Senator Bonner on his pretty complete coverage of the Budget. Although he might have read part of his speech from written notes, it is a pity that more honourable senators did not do that. If they did, it might cut out some of the repetition that we get continually in the Senate. I also commend Senator Gair on his speech on the Budget. Obviously, it was made under difficulties.
– He read his speech, too.
– Mr Acting Deputy President, I suggest that you give the floor to someone else.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Withers) - Order! Senator Negus has the floor. I suggest that he ignore the interruptions.
– One of the first things that I was taught was to give a person making a speech a quiet hearing. I ask members of the Australian Labor Party to shut up. I take this opportunity to reply to the mention of my activities in Queensland which was made by Senator Keeffe of the Labor Party, who endeavoured to throw mud in my direction because I addressed a number of meetings in Queensland, on request. If Senator Keeffe and some of his colleagues paid attention to how the people of Australia are affected by death taxes, they might be able to address meetings on death taxes in Queensland or in other States, on request. Senator Keeffe mentioned a particular organisation in Queensland. I have not addressed a meeting of that organisation, but that does not mean to say thatI would not do so if I were asked. If there are in that organisation widows who are affected by death taxes, I would be proud to address them.
– What is the organisation?
– Senator Keeffe mentioned the League of Rights. To my knowledge, I have not addressed a meeting of that organisation; but there is nothing to stop any members of organisations that I have addressed from being members of the League of Rights. I am neglecting my State, where I should be addressing meetings, because I have been requested to address meetings in so many other States on death taxes. I am proud of that fact. It is obvious that as a result of my campaign even the Federal Government finally has woken up. I sincerely trust that the Labor Party will wake up too. Some of these organisations in Queensland have written to various members of Parliament. I can state publicly that each member who has been against any reduction in death taxes has been a member of the Australian Labor Party.
– If the honourable senator does not know anything about the League of Rights, how does he get that confidential information?
– Does Senator McAuliffe want the floor?
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT - Order! Senator Negus has the floor.
– The Treasurer (Mr Snedden) in his Budget Speech said:
It is clear that estate duty is now falling too heavily on modest estates.
In my opinion, the Federal Government has made that statement between 9 and 15 years too late.
– Who brought about the reduction?
– I think I should put my shoulder out for the honourable senator to pat because I think I had something to do with it. In 1940 the exemption level was set at $4,000 for widows and widowers, when houses were valued at $3,500. In 1950 the exemption level was set at $10,000, when houses were valued at $5,000. In both those cases widows or widowers could have some money left in their pockets. In 1963 the exemption level was set at $20,000; when houses were valued at $15,000. Widows and widowers could have about $5,000 in cash at that stage. In 1965 the exemption level was $20,000, when houses were valued at $25,000. Obviously the Federal Government should get down on its hands and knees and apologise to the people from whom it has taken death taxes because it has not revised the exemption levels. They have not kept pace with the increases in valuations of houses. The present terrific move by the Federal Government, although 9 to 15 years too late, is in my opinion only one-fifth of what it should be. The amounts have increased from $20,000 to $40,000 for a widow and dependent children before tax is charged. But I state that that amount should be not a cent less than $100,000 at that time. It is a shocking state of affairs that members of the Parliament - I refer not only to members of the present Government - have let this position go on for so many years without doing what they should have done about it a long time ago. They should have increased the exemptions and abolished death duties where they apply to husband, wife and dependent children. I say ‘abolished’ because I believe that no government has the right to allow charities to get a large portion of an estate without paying tax when the widow and dependent children are hit by that tax. Do not tell me that a charity has more right to get any part of a husband’s estate in preference to a widow or dependent children. 1 consider that the Government did not give sincere thought to the matter of exemptions. My understanding of the Budget proposal is that all statutory exemptions are to be doubled. What right has the Government to lift statutory exemptions for a stranger in blood? Should not the Government first give to widows and children the benefit of any exemption that might go to those strangers in blood? ( do not care if strangers in blood are hit by death taxes all the time. The Government should not give them an exemption or increase an exemption and not give it to the widows and children. Incidentally, I mention that I do appreciate this increased exemption. It has been the first good move for many years and it is only a start. The Government has said that it will cost it about $19m in a full year. That is terrific! I think that the Government should have increased it sufficiently to cost $7 Om in a full year if necessary. If the Government wants to impose the tax on anyone, it should impose it on charities and strangers in blood, not the members of families.
I wish to refer now to gift duties, lt is amazing that the Government has finally decided to lift the amount that can be given without tax in a 3-year period from $4,000 to $10,000. We are 20 years behind the United States of America and probably 50 years behind Canada. In the United States of America a person can give any number of donees $3,000 in any period of 12 months without involving gift tax of any kind. 1 believe that the Government in the United States has done that because lt feels that if a man gives people money during his lifetime, especially to members of his family, they use that money to create employment, perhaps for a deposit on a home or some such purpose. I contrast this to the position in Australia at the present time where, because of the low exemptions before tax, most people of my age, if they have any money, stash it away and do not give it to anyone. This is absolutely ridiculous. I consider that if we keep the money going around in the country we are creating employment. Canada has seen fit to abolish gift duties and estate tax entirely.
– What about Western Australia?
– I am proud to say that Western Australia has moved on to lift the exemption again for a second time. The first time was the day before the Federal Senate elections. Queensland has made a move as have New South Wales and South Australia. So I am very proud to say that my campaign is having its effect throughout Australia. I sincerely trust that the Australian Labor Party will take note of the fact that these taxes are, on the admission of the Government’s own experts and experts who have appeared before the Senate Standing Committee on Finance and Government Operations, affecting the low to middle income group. One of the first organisations I was asked to address in Western Australia was an organisation of pensioners. Honourable senators on the opposition side of the Senate are all the time saying that death taxes affect only the rich. If they care to look at the evidence presented to the Senate Standing Committee at public meetings they will see it has been proved that the rich are practising tax avoidance and the low to middle income group is being hit the hardest. It is time the Government woke up and realised that when a motion for the abolition of death tax as between husband and wife is presented to the Senate there should be a unanimous vote for it.
– When do you expect to bring it in?
– With the help of you gentlemen I may be able to get it through. 1 have before me a document from an accountant in New South Wales. Incidentally, I was asked to address a meeting in Newcastle which, I believe, is a Labor Party stronghold. The hall was overcrowded with only standing room left. The people were 6 abreast coming up the hall. I have very strong support in that district. This accountant has stated that if the Government continues these death taxes all it is doing is reducing its own income. The document proves that by imposing death duties on properties or partnerships the Government reduces the amount of income tax the persons concerned will pay because the business is so far reduced. I do not intend to speak for long tonight. I just wanted to speak on death duties in the way I have done at about 100 meetings throughout Australia. I will continue to do so because I have adopted the whole of Australia as my constituency. If the people want to hear me, I will go to them. The people of Western Australia did their job when they elected me at my first attempt to become an independent senator. This Parliament would be far better off with more independent senators. A short while ago I drew attention to the state of the House. It has been brought to my attention that 12 honourable senators are away ill. I apologise for having done that.
I wish to refer to a few parts of the Budget and, in particular, the section which deals with Aborigines. It appears to me to be quite good. I had occasion in Western Australia to write to the Minister in charge of Aborigines in that State to draw his attention to the fact that it had been stated in the ‘West Australian’ newspaper that 423 Government houses were vacant in various country towns in Western Australia. I suggest to that Minister that he may be able to use some of those vacant houses to house the Aborigines who are calling out for homes, I will bet you anything you like that there are many such homes in other States which are vacant and costing governments money. They could be used, if necessary, to house Aborigines and to find out whether they can look after homes. They should be given an opportunity. Why should the Commonwealth have to grant this money to the States to build homes for Aborigines when there are homes vacant waiting for someone to go into them? I feel sure that if we looked at the matter carefully enough we could–
– A State Labor government with empty houses?
-I am addressing you, Mr Acting Deputy President. I am sure that the Government could do something about the Aborigine issue without costing the country too much money.
I have been asked many times how the country would make up the loss of revenue if death taxes were abolished. I would say that if we looked in our own backyard we might find some millions of dollars to spare that perhaps are not being spent wisely. I have been asked by someone alongside me how much this would cost. I have said previously that the Research Service of the Parliamentary Library has ascertained that if the exemption were lifted to $100,000 throughout Australia- if the Commonwealth gave sufficient to the States in return for lifting the exemption - the cost to us would be only $33m. I think that the figure given was $33m for $50,000 before tax and double, that is $66m, if the exemption line was lifted to $100,000.
Members of the Australian Labor Party have said that they consider that this is an election Budget. As an Independent I think the Labor Party would like to be in the same position, if this is an election Budget, and produce a similar one because in my opinion it is a very good Budget. However, I am rather disappointed that greater provision has not been made for investigating road accidents. I did notice somewhere in this Budget that some financial assistance was given for this purpose. However, I feel that this Government and, indeed, every government in Australia has to look the facts straight in the face and investigate the causes of road accidents. The causes are not the faulty construction of roads, badly designed roads or badly designed motor cars. The cause is purely the fault of the nut behind the wheel.We can put him on the best roads in the country but, if we allow him to drink grog like he is doing today, we will have accidents. The State governments have proved that between 50 and 80 per cent of accidents are caused by people who drive cars when under the influence of alcohol. We will always have accidents which are caused by people driving under the influence until we have the guts to stand up and say: ‘You will not drive a motor car while under the influence!’ We will need to increase the penalties to a stage sufficient to make people realise that they should not drive while under the influence.
– What penalty would you suggest?
– I would suggest that the first time a person is found guilty of driving while under the influence his licence should be taken from him for a period of 3 months. On the second occasion he is found guilty of this charge, his licence should be taken from him for 12 months. On the third occasion we should cut him out for life. I do nol care what is. done. However, road deaths in Australia today are nothing less than a disgrace.
I have said in Western Australia and in other States that the police should be told to man the parking areas of hotels and clubs and to lake the car keys from anyone who has been in those premises. If such action is not taken we are allowing death to get on the roads. In Canada the police do not go around catching people for speeding and prosecuting them. Canadians do not do too much speeding because points are taken from drivers who break the law of the road. People in Canada are not game to speed because they know that if they are convicted a certain number of times they will lose their licences forever. The Australian Capital Territory has some of thu best laid out roads in Australia, yet there are some nits in Canberra who cannot even turn round a bend without running off the side of the road. Their inability to control their cars is a result of the speed at which they are travelling. Until the Government is prepared to stand up and say to the people You are the cause of accidents and we are going to stop you from doing these things’ accidents will continue and we will have a death rate on the roads 13 times the death rale of the Vietnam war.
I have gone further than I intended. However, 1 will say that I am very proud tonight to stand here and speak on the Budget. 1 would like to think that, as a result of my efforts, the level of death duties had been reduced considerably at the end of 12 months. I am very sorry that my wife is not here to hear my speech tonight. She was killed in a road accident by a nit who has not even been charged. This is a disgraceful thing. I discovered, just by the way, that when your wife is killed on the road .she is nol worth one red cent if she has not had any earnings. That is what the people concerned think of the women of Australia, lt is high lime that we changed the law relating to wives who are killed in motor accidents. I told the insurance company that they did not have enough money in their vaults to replace my wife. However, it is shocking to think thai because a housewife and mother is not earning an income she is not worth a cent. In many instances the same thing applies to death taxes. Who gave the Government - or all governments - the right to say that if a husband and wife were killed instantaneously in a road accident it was the husband who died first? Was it said and done because the husband usually had the larger estate and the government could get some taxes from him? I think, gentlemen, that we should give very, very strict - complete - attention to death taxes. lt is obvious that we have not been paying enough attention to them. Too many thousands of people have been hurt by the inability of the Government to face the actual facts of the day - that is. that the Government should keep the exemptions up and in pace with the increase in valuations. lt is shocking to think that I receive letters from members of the rural community who have had death taxes imposed on them because of a death in a family and then the family is offered financial support by way of the rural reconstruction plan. What a ridiculous situation. We take money from a family with one hand and give it back with the other. 1 am asking honourable senators to look straight in the face at the proposition of increasing the exemption for death taxes. I will continue to make this my one platform. I am quite sure that if we adopted the policy of working on one thing at a time in an effort to clear it up properly we would do more good than is the case today. At the moment we are trying to handle 50 or 60 matters and we are getting nowhere with any of them. Before I sit down 1 would just like to say that I think this Budget is an excellent one.
The ACTING PRESIDENT (Senator Wood) - I call Senator Carrick.
– Mr Acting President-
– I rise on a point of order. It has been the practice over the years that the Opposition should have the opportunity to present its case. Since the sitting was resumed tonight a number of honourable senators have spoken in this debate. Senator Gair spoke in favour of the Government. Senator Gair was followed by Senator Hannan and then we had one speaker from this side of the House. He was followed by Senator Bonner. Then we heard a speech by Senator Negus. Now Senator Carrick has received the call. The Opposition is not getting the opportunity to present its case. I would like to see a revision of the practice whereby the whole of the time given to the proceedings of this place on the air can be taken up by proGovernment speakers and the opportunity to speak is not afforded to those on this side of the chamber.
– I am an Independent senator and not a member of any party.
– I listened to what Senator O’Byrne had to say. My understanding is that the call is given alternately to a senator on the Government side and then to a senator on the Opposition side of the chamber. I accept that Independent or Australian Democratic Labor Party speakers are not Government supporters. Therefore the practice is that a Government speaker and then a speaker from the other side of the House is called. It is also my understanding, Mr Acting President, that a list of names determined by arrangement between the Whips of the Government and Opposition parties is placed before you to call as speakers.
– As Government Whip who discussed this matter with the Opposition Whip, Senator O’Byrne, I should like to pass one comment. Quite honestly I did not know what Senator Gair was going to say in his remarks on the Budget. On previous occasions he has criticised many areas of the Budget and on most occasions the Democratic Labor Party has moved amendments. I was not taken into the DLP’s confidence to enable me to know what it intended, nor was I taken into the confidence of Senator Negus, who is an Independent and who tonight declared himself as an Independent.
– But you know now.
– Yes, I know now, but at that stage when we agreed on who would speak I did not know. I can say quite frankly that the order of speeches was not premeditated or arranged; it was a case of speakers from each side being given an opportunity alternately to speak. I can understand the view expressed by Senator O’Byrne. Because we have a good Budget, tonight Senator Gair supported the Budget. I did not know that he would do that. In addition, Senator Negus has been complimentary of certain areas of the Budget. In my view both these honourable senators are not Government supporters and as such I regard them as belonging to the other side of the chamber. They are definitely not on our side. It is up to them to speak freely on the Budget as they see it.
Senator McLaren - The Acting Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Drake-Brockman) has just said that in the past it has been the practice that irrespective of whether an honourable senator who wished to speak in the debate was a member of the Democratic Labor Party or an Independent, speakers have been drawn in order, one from the Government side and then one from the Opposition side. Senator Bonner was the last Government speaker. If Senator Carrick speaks again it will mean that 2 Government speakers will have been called without a Labor Party senator being given the opportunity to speak. I suggest that what the Acting Leader of the Government has said is right and that we should continue with the practice which has been adopted in this chamber in the past.
– I always thought the custom was that the occupant of the chair called the person who first caught his eye. Whatever might be the arrangement between Whips is nobody’s business - it is a matter between the Whips. It has nothing to do with the Chair. The Chair must always be independent and it is customary for the occupant of the Chair to call the person whom he sees first. Mr Acting President, if you saw Senator Carrick as the first person on his feet after Senator
Negus had spoken you would be quite entitled to call him, irrespective of what the leaders of the parties or the Whips might have arranged. If we are going to allow party leaders or Whips in this place to take over the authority of the Chair we might as well abolish the Chair. I am not in favour of that. I believe, Sir, that you should call the person whom you saw first.
– I would not have addressed myself to this point of order had it not been for the remarks which have just been made by Senator Withers. The arrangement made on this side of the chamber last night was that I would follow Senator McAuliffe in the debate, but because Senator Bishop from South Australia had put his name on the Opposition Whip’s list prior to my name being added to the list it was agreed between Senator O’Byrne, Senator Bishop and-
– That is your affair. It has nothing to do with our side. That is your pigeon.
– I agree with Senator Webster that it is our affair, but perhaps I may be allowed to finish the story. Senator O’Byrne, Senator Bishop and I agreed that Senator Bishop would take my place on the list.
– We do not want to hear about that.
– Senator Webster has said that he did not hear about that, but, Mr Acting President, you heard about it. I went to you and told you of the arrangement, and you told me that after Senator Bishop had spoken Senator Gair would speak, to be followed by a Government supporter. Senator Negus, another Government supporter and then myself. It is all very well for Senator Withers to stand up now and say that he understands the position to be that whoever catches the eye of the person occupying the chair is entitled to the call. We all know the practicalities and realities in this game. If the honourable senator tries to hoodwink the Senate with statements of that nature, how can the public trust the Government? How can the public have faith in a government that tries to hoodwink the Parliament? We know what the custom and practice has been in the Senate over the years. Senator Withers has occupied the chair on occasions and he was formerly Government Whip. He knows that the practice has been to call speakers whose names appear on the list that has been provided to the Chair. It is complete eyewash, utter rubbish and poppycock for Senator Withers to say that you should call the person whom you see first. Anyone who believes in fair play must believe that a terrible thing has been done tonight, not only to the Labor Party but also to the Parliament. Honourable senators opposite have been talking at great length today and tonight about bias in another area. It is about time that we were given a fair go in this place.
The ACTING PRESIDENT - On the point of order, what Senator Withers said is the correct procedure for the Chair to follow, that is, that the person who stands first should have the call. However, over a period of years there has been an arrangement between the 2 major parties for the Whips to provide the Chair with a list of proposed speakers so that Government and Opposition senators may alternate. We are able to get through the business in that way. In recent years we have seen the advent of the Democratic Labor Party and a number of Independents. It is necessary to give these people a fair opportunity to speak and to bring them into the debate. Consequently, the principle that operated when 1 first came to this chamber 23 years ago has almost disappeared because of the addition of the Democratic Labour Party and the Independents. I remind honourable senators that it is always the intent of the Chair to do the fair thing.
There has been mention of a list of speakers being submitted to the occupant of the chair. Senator O’Byrne, who is the Opposition Whip and who raised this point of order, earlier this evening handed me a list containing the names of 2 Opposition senators who were to speak. They were Senator McAuliffe and Senator Douglas McClelland. Both honourable senators are listed, Senator Douglas McCleland’s name appearing for late in the evening. I do not know how the list which is now before me came to be here. It was not handed up while T was in the chair. However, the list that is now before me is the one that has been followed in the debate. Since Senator
O’Byrne handed me the list of Labor Party speakers Senator Bishop’s name has been added and he has spoken already. It has been said that Senator Gair and Senator Negus supported the Government in their remarks on the Budget.
– They were the first two outside the major parties to speak on the Budget in the last fortnight.
The ACTING PRESIDENT- That is so. These people have a right to speak. The Chair is not able to know the way in which Independents or members of the Democratic Labor Party will speak. On a number of occasions members of the Democratic Labor Party and Independent senators have opposed the Government. It was mentioned also that on occasions the Democratic Labor Party has moved amendments and sometimes has sought support from the Australian Labor Party. On occasions it has received support but on other occasions it has not been supported. The Chair’s concern is to be fair. It is most unfortunate for the Opposition that the arrangements have turned out this way, but the list is here before me. Apparently the list has been followed until now. In those circumstances I do not think that at this late hour of the night I should start to alter the procedure. I regret that the point of order cannot be upheld.
If there is to be any argument about the order of speakers in future I suggest that it would be far better for the Whips from the Democratic Labor Party, the Opposition and the Government to find out where the Independent senators want to appear in the list of speakers. The smaller groups such as the Democratic Labor Party and the Independents must be given their fair share of time in a debate. It is a matter of trying to be fair to everyone. In those circumstances I shall continue to follow the list which has been followed until now.
- Mr Acting President
– You are the third speaker from that side. You should yield.
– I am quite prepared to yield to a member of the Labor Party if it is the view of my Leader that it is a fair thing to do so. I am not privy to any arrangement that has been made. I speak in the order arranged by the 2
Whips and I have been called. Nevertheless, if it is the view of my Leader that it would be fair to yield, 1 will of course do so. I defer to my Leader.
– He has been called and he speaks.
– I believe that in the history of this Parliament no Budget has contained more enduring or more imaginative social reforms, more practical help for the sick, the aged, the handicapped and the poor, a more comprehensive programme to give effective aid to the rural community, a more effective programme to help students at colleges and universities, to help the people in their own homes, to give a real stimulus to the community, to strengthen employment and at the same time to provide significant tax cuts to increase purchasing power. Against that background of the Budget, which 1 commend fully, I want to draw to the attention of the Senate the fact that in my view this Budget contains 4 remarkable and distinctive features. Firstly, it was almost universally commended upon its presentation by the public, by the Press, by the media and by those who are regarded as expert commentators in the economic and political field. Secondly, the responding speech of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) in another place was equally almost universally condemned by the same people - the public and the media. In the strongest terms a leader of an alternative government has been condemned for his speech on the Budget.
– You cannot support those 2 statements.
– I will proceed without the help of the Opposition to support what I have said by again reminding the Senate of the editorial of the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ in which it was stated:
It would be unrealistic to expect Mr Whitlam in his Budget speech not to look towards the election. What is dismaying in the speech is not this but its low opinion of the intelligence and sophistication of the electorate. It offered little analysis. It offered not the foggiest notion of what Labor’s fiscal alternatives might be. It was brazen in its insincerity. What can be said of the sincerity of a man who attacks the Government’s means test decision as ‘a vague uncosted promise’ (ignoring Mr Wentworth’s well publicised figures) and then immediately matches it with a similar promise from Labor? Such behaviour degrades politics. 1 repeat that almost universally the leader of the Labor Opposition was condemned.
– Yes. The only response in his favour came from some members of his Party, and that only some, and that weakly. The third phenomenon that I want to draw attention to is that the response of the Labor Party in this chamber and in another place in its so-called attack on this Budget has had the animation and the intellectual output of stunned deep sea mullet. 1 have never in my time witnessed a more demoralised approach to a Budget presentation. If 1 may make a very weak pun - I apologise for making it at this time of night - I would draw attention to what is now, along with the flu virus in Canberra, a new medical symptom called the Van Gough syndrome. That arises from Gough’s election van which, having for a year or so careered recklessly all over the community without Ralph Nader’s approval, like the second hand car in the television advertisement, distributing election promises right and left is now falling to pieces as the sheer weight of public opinion focuses upon the stream of policies which now have no legs with which to run, and as the force of the alternative budget and the value of our promises leave it for dead. The Van Gough syndrome is parallel with the old master himself in that it contains the same suicidal and neurotic tendencies, but I am bound to say that in this case its left ear is still intact and still attuned to the Left.
– How did Van Gogh lose his ear?
– He lost it, as indeed your leader will, as a result of neurotic and suicidal tendencies. (Quorum formed.) There is reason for the phenomenon that 1 have diagnosed. It is very clear because the Labor Party is on the horns of a tremendous dilemma on just about all of the great issues of this Budget. Those issues are divided into one of 2 classes, either those that it knows are right and yet are opposed in its own platform and therefore should be opposed - in an election year it will not oppose them but will remain silent - and those that it would want to commend but will not because it is an election year. Let me demonstrate this dilemma of the Labor Party, lt would be a good exercise in this chamber to refer to the issues of the Budget. For instance, on probate this Government has brought forward enlightened and great social reforms aimed at doubling the exemption amount of the smaller property owners, both city and country, and aimed, along with gift duty, to allow in the lifetime of a person the transfer of property. This ought to be enormously commended, lt is particularly valuable to widows and to the farming community which will save subdivision at a time of crisis. I commend it, but the Labor Party of course must remain silent because the Labor Party is opposed in its policy to the serious easing or the abolition of probate because it has an insensate hatred of private property and seeks to destroy it wherever it lies. If the Labor Party in fact favours the abolition of probale duty, let its members stand up and say so. I challenge them to say so.
– I take a point of order. A committee of the Senate is at present investigating this question. Therefore I think it is inappropriate for Senator Carrick to raise it at this time. If he wants us to stand up and say what he has suggested, I will do so but I prefer to await whatever recommendation the Senate committee makes to this Parliament.
The ACTING PRESIDENT - Order! An Opposition senator has taken a point of order. If other members of the Opposition will be quiet, they might hear what their colleague is saying. What is the point of order?
– My point of order is that a committee of the Senate is at present examining the question of probate duty. Therefore, it is incorrect, inappropriate and improper for Senator Carrick to taunt members of the Opposition into the situation of having to speak on this question. I have accepted his challenge, but I say it is inappropriate and improper to suggest at this time that the Labor Party has any attitude to this question when, in fact, members of thai Party are combining with other honourable senators in a complete examination of the whole question of probate duty.
The ACTING PRESIDENT- Order! A committee of the Senate may be investigating some subject, but 1 still have not caught the point Senator Devitt was trying to make. What committee it is. I do not know. A question that a committee of the Senate is investigating does not, I think, preclude an individual senator from expressing his opinion.
– I am fully seized of the tactics of delay and humbug which are being-
– 1 must rise in response to that remark. I did not rise in that sense at all. I rose in response to a challenge from the honourable senator and the taunt which he flung in our direction. As a member of that Committee–
The ACTING PRESIDENT- Order! Will honourable senators on the Opposition side please keep quiet while their own senator is trying to explain to this chamber what he meant. If honourable senators do not keep quiet I will take the appropriate action.
– I sincerely suggest that there is a misrepresentation in the statement that the Labor Party is not interested in this matter of probate or in any attitude it may be taking. I think it is quite inappropriate to raise this matter at this time when honourable senators on this side of the chamber, wilh Senator Carrick’s own colleagues, are seriously examining in great depth and with great sincerity this matter of probate duty. The suggestion that I have tried to cut into the honourable senator’s time after having been taunted in that way is a rather improper imputation and I resent it.
– I rise to order. I think the honourable senator’s raising this point is a lot of nonsense.
– How would you know?
– Of course it is. The honourable senator saw no objection to talking about repatriation, and he knows perfectly well that a Senate Committee is inquiring into repatriation. Committees are inquiring into a number of things. Why cannot Senator Carrick nail home the point he has raised? I object to this delaying tactic.
The ACTING PRESIDENT- Order! The point of order is not upheld. I say this to Senator Carrick-
– I did not raise a point of order. It was a matter of misrepresentation.
– If Senator Devitt did not raise a point of order then I take it he claims that he has been misrepresented. If he has been misrepresented the forms of the Senate enable him to rise at the end of Senator Carrick’s speech and claim that he has been misrepresented.
– There can be no doubt in this Senate that whatever matters are before Senate committees are not sub judice. Therefore I made the remarks that I made, lt would be utter nonsense to suggest that for this Senate or for any political party at election time-
– Then why do we not quit?
– The honourable senator who sought an explanation and who is gabbling on so that he cannot hear it gives no sense of decorum to this chamber. The fact of the matter is that this Senate committee may well go on past the time of the election. Is the Labor Party not making its own policy speech, its own policy determination, now? Are its policies going to be sub judice now and after the election if we hold matters in relation to the Senate committee on ice? To the nth degree this is the lunacy in argument. I make no apology for the strength of my remarks at all. 1 repeat that either these interruptions are done in complete ignorance of the forms of the Senate or they are done to delay. On either, all I do is ask the people of Australia to understand that the Labour Party, which over the years has set out to destroy freedom of speech outside and inside this chamber, tonight is using the same techniques, and it will not succeed.
– I raise a point of order, Mr Acting President. 1 would like guidance in relation to Senator Carrick’s remarks. The point was epitomised a few moments ago. An honourable senator who stands up in response to a challenge from the other side of the chamber may be in breach of Standing Orders by not waiting until the honourable senator addressing the chamber has finished his speech. What is the position of the honourable senator who issues the challenge or the taunt? If an honourable senator on the other side of the Chamber issues a taunting challenge to members of the Labor Party to get to their feet how can an honourable senator on this side defend himself or his Party without breaching Standing Orders?
The ACTING PRESIDENT - Order! Opportunity is given to each honourable senator during the debate on the Budget, if he has not spoken - plenty of honourable senators have not - to reply.
– Not on the air.
The ACTING PRESIDENT- I did not know that the air was so important at this hour of the night. The Chair does not take cognisance of the broadcast. There is opportunity in further speeches to take up any argument which has been made by people on either side.
– I repeat my challenge to the Labor Party to tell this Senate–
– And the people.
– And the people of Australia its policy on probate and to deny my assertion that it is thoroughly opposed to the abolition of probate duty. Let me continue to examine the reasons why the Labor Party has run away from the examination of this Budget. I shall take the great social reforms in the Budget in relation to nursing homes whereby not only pensioners but also non-pensioners going into nursing homes will, in further, receive very considerable benefits. The pensioners in nursing homes will be left with money in their pockets. The people who are nonpensioners will be eligible for cover under the hospital benefits scheme. This is an enormous breakthrough, covering in private nursing homes in this country some 38,244 beds. This should have been a subject of acclamation and praise. But let me tell honourable senators why– (Opposition senators interjecting) -
– There is an attempt to shout me down. Let me tell honourable senators why, and why I must raise my voice. The reason is that the stated policy of the Labor Party is to destroy the private nursing homes and private hospitals. These are the official statements of the Labor Party. Indeed, if honourable senators want anything more than that I invite them to turn to the Fabian Society lecture delivered by their Leader - or is he - Mr Whitlam only a few days ago when he said, laying down a blue print of nationalisation that the major act of nationalisation in the traditional sense to be undertaken by a Labor Government in the next term will be the establishment of a single health fund administered by a health insurance commissioner. Traditional, nationalisation is to be carried out immediately and, in Dr Cass’s words:
Private hospitals and private nursing homes are irrelevant to the Labor Parly’s concept of a national health scheme . . .
They will go. Beds will be built in the public sector to take them over, so the Labor Party says. Mr Whitlam says that he will not have duplication. He must have rationalisation. What the Labor Party is hiding is that without replacing a single bed, without building a single new bed, by an act of socialism it is seeking to create a Taj Mahal of socialism. The Labor Party, by its own statement, is to demolish some 52,000 private hospital and private nursing home beds in this country and construct in their stead, in the public sector, without adding one single bed, something that will cost the most modest figure of $661 m. This is on Labor’s own say-so. By abolishing the 81 medical benefit schemes and the 93 hospital benefit schemes the Labor Party is going to build monuments and buildings all over Australia which will cost another $50m or $100m. I make it quite clear that the Labor Party has said categorically that it is out to nationalise the health schemes, it is out to destroy the private nursing homes and private hospitals. I have here a statement by Dr Cass which I will be happy to table. I wonder whether it will be denied? It is reported under the headline: ‘Private wards “don’t count”.’ The report states:
He said: ‘Private hospitals and private nursing homes are irrelevant to the Labor Party’s concept of a national health scheme . . .
Let me make this clear. He said ‘A national health scheme’.
The ACTING PRESIDENT - Order! In accordance with the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate, I formally put the question:
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– It is my intention to speak in the adjournment debate this evening for a limited time only. I wish to express my personal disappointment at the attitude adopted by the Acting Leader of the Government in the Senate, Senator Drake-Brockman, about 20 minutes ago after a point of order had been taken earlier concerning the inability of Labor Party spokesmen in the chamber this evening to obtain air time to put a case for and on behalf of the Labor movement on the Budget, and to answer some of the shocking allegations that have been made against the Australian Broadcasting Commission, its Commissioners, all of whom have been appointed by the Government, and the management and the staff of the Commission, all of whom are subject to the provisions of the Public Service Act and to the Crimes Act. No opportunity was given to members of the Labor movement, while the proceedings of the Senate were being broadcast this evening, to rebut the. serious allegations that were made against those gentlemen.
Senator Carrick offered to defer, subject to the advice of his Acting Leader. I would have thought that the Acting Leader of the Government in the Senate, in all fairness, would have agreed to Senator Carrick’s offer to defer to enable a member of the Australian Labor Party to put the case on behalf of senior public servants, medium range public servants and junior public servants who have been smeared, vilified and castigated today by members of the Government. On their behalf, 1 raise serious objection to the attitude adopted by the Minister for Air who is Acting Leader of the Government in the Senate.
– I wish to say first to the honourable senator that this is a debate on the Budget. My understanding of the Standing Orders is that the occupant of the Chair at the time when senators rise to speak in this place should call upon the senator who first catches his eye.
– He does not.
– Let me finish. Over the years, it has been a custom of those who occupy the Chair to call, firstly, upon a Government member and then a non-Government member or, if honourable senators like, a nonGovernment member and then a Government member. That is a custom which has been followed over the years. Tonight the situation was that the Whips, as is usual, drew up a list of speakers and placed that list before the occupant of the Chair. Apparently some dissension arose because a senator of the Australian Democratic Labor Party and an Independent senator wished to make a contribution tonight as the proceedings of the Senate were being broadcast. I take it that the occupant of the Chair first would call a nonGovernment member and then a Government member. I do not consider that either DLP senators or Independent senators are members of the Government.
– But they are not members of the Opposition either.
– They are non-Government members. I am not claiming anything else. Since I have been Acting Leader of the Government in the Senate, I have noticed that the Democratic tic Labor Party senators and the Independent senators have spoken very little during this session. Tonight has been an opportunity - perhaps the last opportunity that we will have - to speak in the Budget debate while that debate is being broadcast. So they claimed their right to catch the eye of the occupant of the Chair and to rise to make their contributions. I entered the Senate tonight to take over the position of Minister at the table. Apparently, something of a kerfuffle developed. The occupant of the Chair called Senator Carrick. Senator Carrick indicated that he would withdraw in favour of a non-Government speaker.
– He said an Opposition speaker.
– He did not say a Labor speaker. He said a nonGovernment speaker. He said that he would defer if the Acting Leader of the Government in the Senate approved that course. I took the attitude that Senator Carrick, a Government senator, had already been called by the Chair and I indicated that Senator Carrick should continue his remarks. I make no apology for that action.
– I wish to say one or two things about the statement by the Acting Leader of the Government in the Senate, Senator Drake-Brockman. I think that I should commence by saying: ‘Play the game, you cads! Play the game!’ I have not been one who, in our Party room, has thought that there should be the degree of co-operation that has existed between the Government forces and the Opposition forces. Nevertheless, the members of my Party, by a majority, have decided that for the successful carrying out of the functions of this Parliament there should be the cooperation that we have shown in the years that I have been here with respect to arranging lists of speakers and so on. As the Acting Leader of the Government has said, the procedure has been that the Chair has the responsibility to call a senator from the Government side and then a senator, as he described him, from the non-Government side. In the past, this arrangement has operated.
We have been told tonight by Senator Young and Senator Withers that they did not know that Senator Gair or Senator Negus proposed to speak. Senator Young was most embarrassed because both honourable senators supported the Government. Whilst Senator Young may be able to justify the fact that he did not know prior to the event that these honourable senators would speak, and after he had apologised for the let down in the arrangements by which the Opposition has equal time when the proceedings of the Senate are being broadcast, something happened that he did not visualise, namely, that those 2 honourable senators would be counted as supporters of the Budget. The fact has not been denied that in this debate tonight four or five speakers supported the Budget and one speaker opposed it. Mention has been made of the fact that speakers are called in turn from the Opposition side and from the Government side. This is all right. But when we talk about support and opposition, the real factor involved is whether this is support for or opposition to the measure before the Parliament rather than support for or opposition to the Government.
The situation that developed was so embarrassing that Senator Carrick in his usual, polite and courteous way recognised that an injustice had been done to this side. He was prepared to yield. He left the decision on what he should do to the Acting Leader of the Government in the Senate. Obviously the Party is working as a team and I think that his action was proper. But the Acting Leader of the Government shoe his head and said ‘No, Senator Carrick should continue. He has the call’. I said: ‘But he is prepared to forgo the call’. The Acting Leader then shook his head.
I think that the Acting Leader of the Government explained the position in his contribution before I rose. He said that this is the Budget debate. The Government is battling uphill enough now. Every gentleman’s agreement and every proposal for co-operation in the Senate goes by the board. The Government says: ‘There is nothing too low that we will not adopt for the purpose of gaining the ground that we have lost in public prestige. This is the Budget debate. In the valuable broadcast time available for this debate the Opposition will not be allowed to present its case in reply’. As Senator Douglas McClelland has said, the Opposition wished to reply to the damaging indictment of and the accusations made against the Australian Broadcasting Commission.
Any benefits that the Budget might contain which would attract electoral support could achieve their purpose only if they were accepted without criticism. Therefore, the Government adopts the attitude: ‘We must stifle that criticism’. The criticism that would reach the public could take 2 forms. The first is that the ABC might criticise the Budget in its current affairs programmes. So, the ABC must be silenced. Justification for silencing the ABC has been given tonight. The Opposition has not been permitted to reply to those reasons for silencing the ABC. The other point is that the proceedings of the Senate today have been broadcast. Government supporters, who favour the Budget, take the view that they must use up the time when the proceedings are being broadcast in the hope that they will gain support from someone who may be listening. Today we have been engaged in a debate on the Budget and we are facing an election in the near future at a lime when the threat to the Government is the greatest it has ever been. Therefore it is regrettable that men whom we have admired before for honouring arrangements, men whom we looked up to for honouring promises, sank to the degradation that we saw tonight in order to stop members of the Opposition who oppose the Government’s policy.
The ACTING PRESIDENT- I call Senator Devitt.
– I was on ray feet. You must lake a speaker from either side in turn.
The ACTING PRESIDENT- Senator Devitt was on his feet first and 1 called him.
– lt is quite unusual for me to rise to speak on the motion for. the adjournment of the Senate but 1 think that the circumstances which preceded the moving of that motion warrant some explanation from me as to why I took the action 1 took at the time when I look it. Al the outset 1 say that I always have enjoyed the contributions made by Senator Carrick since he has been in this chamber and I also respect them. I regard them as very thoughful contributions and I appreciate the way in which he makes them to the Senate even though in many instances I do not agree, of course, with the points he makes.
My reason for responding in the way I did was the challenge issued in this direction to members of the Opposition by Senator Carrick. He challenged us to rise and make some statement of our position in relation to probate. The reason I took exception as 1 did was as I explained earlier, that in fact a committee of the Senate was set up to examine this very question. I do not mind a challenge. I have been receiving challenges all my life and 1 have stood up to them, or most of them. I have not always won but I have always stood up to them and I will continue doing so for the rest of my life. 1 hope that honourable senators appreciate that point of view. I do not deny to Senator Carrick the right to issue that challenge even though it was somewhat in breach of the Standing Orders. But surely I must be conceded the right to rise in response to it. I have a tremendous regard for the committee system. On every occasion when the subject of the committee system has been raised in this Senate I have spoken in favour of it. I have spelt out in great detail the reasons why I support it so strongly. You, Mr Acting President, and other honourable senators know that I give a tremendous amount of my time to working on these committees.
– Especially the Regulations and Ordinances Committee.
– And quite a number of others. A challenge was issued for us to stand up and state our position. As a sincere member of the Committee looking into the question of probate - I am sure that Senator Carrick will acknowledge that it is an involved question - I believe that I should not state my position in regard to it and so pre-empt the decisions which the Committee ultimately will make and report to the Senate. However, if I have any understanding of the position of Labor Party senators on that Committee a reasonable interpretation of their view is that they are not happy with the present situation. I think all of us would give the full strength of our knowledge and interest in this matter, together with whatever other characteristics are required, to make a proper judgment on this issue. We will play our part, together with other members of that Committee from the Government side of the chamber and from the Democratic Labor Party, so that we will present to this Parliament a report based upon all the evidence available to us and on the keenest judgment of that evidence.
I do not mind a bit of a donnybrook at some stages or a bil of a stoush Sometimes it stirs the blood a bit and does one good. However, I hope that when a challenge is issued one has a reasonable opportunity to respond to it. I concede to Senator Carrick his right to put his points in making his contribution to the Senate in the way that he thinks fit but he must concede to us surely, when a challenge is issued, the right to respond in the way that I responded.
– I wish to refer briefly to the fact that tonight we have heard members of the Opposition claiming that they were badly done by in the debate this afternoon because they did not have the opportunity to have their views broadcast; that they were denied broadcast time when speakers from the Opposition should have been making their views known. The core of this matter is that they wish to deny to members of the Democratic Labor Party and to the independent senators the right to have their speeches broadcast. They wish to have the opportunity to speak while proceedings are being broadcast but wish to deny the same opportunity to minority parties represented here.
A further point was made by Senator Douglas McClelland. He did not want to talk about the Budget; he wanted to argue about the Australian Broadcasting Commission and he claims he should have been given an opportunity to do so. The core of this matter, Mr Acting President, although we do not hear it from members of the Opposition, is this: Last Wednesday night when proceedings of the Senate were broadcast the Australian Labor Party used nearly all of the time. Senator Willesee, Senator Cavanagh and Senator Wriedt had their full allotment of time while the proceedings were being broadcast.
– How much time did the Government have?
– I am dealing with the time used by the Opposition because that is what you are arguing about. Last Wednesday when proceedings were being broadcast the Opposition took most of the time and neither of the 2 minority sectors in this chamber was given any time. Why does the Opposition deny them the opportunity now? This represents the unfair attitude that the ALP always takes.
– In fairness to Senator Young and the arrangements made tonight I must point out that the list of speakers was: Senator Gair, Senator Hannan, Senator Bishop, Senator Bonner, Senator Negus and Senator Douglas McClelland. The arrangement was made on the condition that Senator Bonner elected to speak for 10 minutes and that Senator Negus elected to speak for 10 minutes.
– No, 15 minutes.
– Very well, 15 minutes. Now, what happened? Senator Gair, on the motion of the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Cotton), spoke for 41 minutes, Senator Negus spoke for 35 minutes and Senator Bonner spoke for 25 minutes. Therefore the arrangement fell down. The speakers had indicated to the Government Whip the time that they intended to speak but did not keep their word and Senator Douglas McClelland was excluded. However, another point must be kept in mind. We were engaged in a very important debate which was being broadcast to the public and during the entire evening there was only one speaker from the Opposition. We have to draw the attention of the Chair to this situation when it arises, particularly when there is only one speaker from the Opposition in a period of 3 hours. When arrangements arc made in the future - I hope they will be made - I hope that there will not be this monopoly of time when the proceedings of the Senate are being broadcast, particularly when the air is fairly highly charged with politics as it is at pre-election time and at Budget time.
Since this matter has been raised and discussed in the Senate I want to pay a tribute to Senator Carrick for his gracious gesture in seeking to remedy the situation that developed. I regret that the Acting Leader of the Government (Senator DrakeBrockman) did not see the justice of our claim and of the gesture by Senator Carrick. I hope that we can come to some better arrangement when the proceedings are being broadcast. After all, proceedings here are broadcast only once a week. I think that also is wrong. The Senate should be given equal time with the House of Representatives, but that is another argument. The fact is that an Opposition speaker who was prepared and quite happy to speak in the Budget debate tonight was deprived from doing so because Senator Gair, Senator Negus and Senator Bonner spoke for a period longer than the time arranged by the Whips.
– ‘Anticipated’ would be a better word than ‘arranged’.
– Well, ‘anticipated’. I think that in fairness to Senator Young and in order to justify my own position I should explain about the arrangements that we made. After all, these matters are in the hands of the Chair. We only give to the Chair a guideline of the arrangements we have made. But when it works out that only one Opposition speaker has the right to put the case for the Opposition, it is against the whole idea that the Opposition should have the same time on the air to present its case as does the Government. Tonight we have had 5 senators supporting the Government’s case and only one Opposition speaker presenting the Opposition’s case.
– As an ex-member of the Whips’ union, J think I should take my part of the blame in this. 1 thought it proper to move for an extension of lime for Senator Gair. He is the leader of a political party. This concession was given to me and Senator Willesee. Senator Gair was speaking under difficulties due to the condition of his voice and I thought it was more than fair that the Senate should grant him an extension of time. So J, too, contributed to the problem.
The ACTING PRESIDENT- Order! In view of the fact that the order of speakers and the time allotted to each speaker has been brought into this discussion, I think I should say something from the Chair. First of all, I want to thank Senator O’Byrne for clarifying the matter in relation to the list of speakers and the way in which the arrangements were made. Senator O’Byrne mentioned that certain senators were not expected to speak beyond a certain length of time. Of course, complying with this sort of arrangement rests entirely with the individual speakers. Human nature being what it is, people often say they will speak for only 10 minutes and it turns out that they speak for 20 minutes or half an hour. The arrangements in relation to the list of speakers are made between the Whips. The Whips have in mind that senators should speak for only a certain time, f remind the Senate that the President, the Acting President or whoever might be occupying the Chair, has no authority to tell honourable senators that they must speak for less than half an hour while the Senate proceedings are being broadcast. That is a decision of the Senate. So, from the point of view of the Chair, the senator who is speaking cannot be told: ‘You have made arrangements to speak for only 10 minutes. You have gone over that time limit. I ask you to stop speaking.’ The Chair is powerless to control that aspect of the situation. If arrangements are made between the Whips and the individual members of the Senate, it is up to the individual members to keep to the agreement. I want to make that clear. I think the Senate owes thanks to Senator O’Byrne for clarifying the issue so that we know exactly how the situation arose.
Question resolved in the affirmative. Senate adjourned at 1 1.23 p.m.
The following answers to questions upon notice were circulated.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration, upon notice:
In the case of the cancellation of the passport of an Australian citizen travelling abroad, has that citizen the right to see the allegations made against him and is he given the opportunity to rebut them; if so, to whom should he apply.
Senator GREENWOOD- The Minister for Immigration has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
Section 8 of the Passports Act 1938-1966 prescribes that an Australian passport may be cancelled by the Minister or an officer authorised in that behalf by the Minister. The decision whether to disclose the grounds for cancellation is determined in the light of individual circumstances in each case.
asked the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice:
Senator GREENWOOD- The PostmasterGeneral has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
– The Minister for Customs and Excise has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
(Question No. 2247) Senator MURPHY asked the Minister representing the Minister for Customs and Excise, upon notice:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Customs and Excise, upon notice:
In the light of the recent reduction in excise duty on Australian wines, what action is being taken to ensure that restaurants reduce wine prices, which were substantially increased when the duly was originally imposed.
Senator COTTON - The Minister for Customs and Excise has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
In his statement of 25th May 1972 my colleague the Minister for Primary Industry, commenting on the reduction in wine excise said that he had been given an assurance by leaders of the industry that the full value of the reduction would be immediately passed on by wineries to the benefit of consumers. I would sincerely hope that the industry has honoured this undertaking. However I doubt that that industry has any control over prices charged by restaurants. Certainly the Commonwealth has no power to control prices charged for wine.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice:
Did tests recently conducted by the Fremantle Port authorities and the Swan River Conservation Board prove that the installation ofan aluminium barge with a special pumping unit, produced by Submarine Engineering Pty Ltd, is an effective anti-oil pollution weapon suitable for use by all Australian Harbour Authorities.
Senator COTTON- The Minister for Shipping and Transport has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
The Huskey JuniorH arbour Oil Skimmer was demonstrated in Fremantle fishing boat harbour l on 26th July 1972.
There are no requirements for such units to be approved by my Department, nor would they be of use in clean-up operations in open waters where the Commonwealth has prime responsibility. I am advised, however, that in the opinion ofthe Fremantle Port Authority the operation of the unit appeared to be effective under the conditions tested.
asked the Minis ter representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice:
Senator COTTON- The Minister for Shipping and Transport has provided the following answers to the honourable senator’s question:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice:
Senator COTTON- The Minister for Shipping and Transport has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
asked the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice:
In the year ended 30lh June 1971, which firms received contracts for the supply of telecommunication equipment, and what was the value of each contract.
Senator GREENWOOD- The PostmasterGeneral has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 30 August 1972, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1972/19720830_senate_27_s53/>.