27th Parliament · 2nd Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Magnus Cormack) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– Mr President, on behalf of Government senators and, I take it, Opposition senators, I wish to say that we are very pleased to see you back here after your brief illness and that we look forward to you adjudicating over the sittings during the remainder of this week and the coming weeks.
– We on the Opposition side of the chamber are pleased to see yow back, Mr President. We also join in what has been said by the Minister for Air.
– I am grateful to the Acting Leader of the Government in the Senate and the Leader of the Opposition for those kind words. They illustrate what I have described from time to time in other places as the collegiality of the Senate. There is an understanding among all of us who live here that we are not only senators who sit on the right or left of the Chair but also senators who serve the institution of the Senate. I am very grateful for the kindness that has been extended to me.
– As an indication of the change in events that takes place from time to time, I have pleasure in drawing to the attention of honourable senators the presence in the Senate galleries of delegates attending the first Australian parliamentary seminar convened by the Commonwealth and State branches of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association. Delegates have come from branches of the Association in the Pacific and South East Asian areas as well as from the States and Territories of Australia. On behalf of honourable senators, I extend a welcome to the delegates. I hope that the seminar they are attending at Parliament House this week will be successful.
I wish to add my personal regret that, owing to an election, the Republic of Singapore was not able to send delegates and, 1 8827/72- iS-  for other reasons, delegates from the British Solomon Islands were unable to attend. Apart from that, I think it is a notable and distinguished occasion that the Australian parliaments - the Commonwealth Parliament being the pivot in this matter - have invited these people to come to Australia and they have done us the honour of accepting the invitation. I regard this event as being a very auspicious one in the life of this Parliament.
Honourable senators - Hear, hear!
– Honourable senators will be interested to know that 1 have kept very much in mind the wellbeing of those honourable senators who have been absent because of illness. I have had telephone discussions from time to time with Lady Anderson, the wife of Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson, the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Sir Kenneth has- asked me, through Lady Anderson, to advise honourable senators that he has been ordered by his doctors to convalesce and has, very wisely, retreated to a quiet spot for a rest. Lady Anderson informs me that the doctors recommend convalescence, to end not earlier than 25th September. I would add this simple explanation: All honourable senators will be. aware that more than a quarter of a century ago the Leader of the Government in the Senate underwent an experience which falls, fortunately, to the lot of few men and he requires this rest. I think that it is my duty to inform all honourable senators of this matter.
Motion (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.
– I ask leave to move a motion in relation to the recent incidents at the Munich Olympic Games.
– Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– I move:
– I support the motion which has been moved by the Acting Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Drake-Brockman). It was a frightful act which was committed at the Olympic Games. It was especially frightful because throughout the long history of man this has been one of the occasions when men have agreed not to commit acts of war against one ‘ another and to hold those Games from ancient times in a spirit of peace and to suspend their hostilities during the period of the Games to permit persons to come and go freely and to participate in them. It was an act which brought discredit upon those who were associated with it. It will go down in history as one of the great atrocities committed by human beings one against the other because those against whom the acts were committed - those who died - were innocent. There was no excuse whatever for that atrocity being committed against those persons and especially in those circumstances.
The State of Israel is recognised by the United Nations. One of our great Australians, Dr Evatt, played a signal part in the recognition of the State of Israel. It is regrettable that the State of Israel has not been accepted by other nations. It is mandatory if we are to have peace that the existence of the State of Israel be accepted. The decisions of the United Nations ought to be accepted by all if we are to have peace and justice. That was a dreadful atrocity. But what I saw on television last night and read in this mornings newspapers is no answer to that atrocity. The slaughter by the State of Israel of innocent women and children as well as others is no answer to the kind of atrocity that was committed against the State of Israel. I think that it is important for us all to state this. I know that there are people who say that nothing must be said. They say that because this atrocity was committed at Munich - it was a terrible atrocity - nothing must be said and that by silence we must allow it to be thought that we accept that the State of Israel is entitled to go out and commit the kind of atrocity which was committed against women and children. I read that children who were picnicking by the side of a river were machine gunned by aircraft sent by the Government of Israel. I do not accept that conduct as the proper kind of conduct in retaliation for a dreadful atrocity. I would like that fact to be understood. I do not agree that one atrocity has to be answered by another atrocity. The sooner nations such as Australia say to all nations involved that they should begin to treat each other like human beings, that they should accept international arbitration, that they should accept the decisions of the United Nations and that they should endeavour to live in peace with each other, the sooner we will get some sense there.
It is important that Israel learn that it needs not only peace but also friendship with its neighbours. It is important for the Arab states to learn that if they are to get anywhere they have to come to terms with Israel and start to build together there. They need each other. If they -cease these dreadful atrocities against’ each other we may get peace, justice, decency and a chance for life for the people- there who are suffering while the persons responsible allow the atrocities to. continue. I accept that on this occasion we should express in the strongest terms - the motion is in the strongest terms - our horror and shock at that violence which was perpetrated at Munich and which will go down in history as infamy.
– The Senate members pf the Democratic Labor Party join with the Acting Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Drake-Brockman) and the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Murphy) in supporting the motion in ‘ connection with the atrocities perpetrated by a number of irresponsible, callous, murderous individuals at the Olympic Games. .Their act is to be deplored by every justice minded person. It shows how careful we in this country have to be, particularly those who are engaged in formenting bitterness against those to whom they are opposed. It shows how wrong it is to introduce politics and national issues into the domain of sport. It is not so very long ago that in Australia there were demonstrations against a visiting sporting team.
– They were violent demonstrations.
– They were bitter and violent demonstrations which could have led to a similar occurrence in Australian cities. In Brisbane, where the Springboks played, the temper and bitterness of the people demonstrating against the visiting team were seen in a demonstration outside the Tower Mill Motel where the demonstrators chanted, screamed and yelled bitterness. They sat on the streets. They even included allegedly responsible members of Parliament. On one occasion during the visit of that football team a knife was taken from the person of one of the demonstrators. This indicates very clearly that he was there to do damage and to destroy or injure some individual.
– That is a misinterpretation of what occurred.
– It is a true report of what occurred. Then there was the protest by some members of the public, and some members of the Press too, against the action taken by the police to protect people and property, and to give the sick people in the Holy Spirit Hospital what they were entitled to - rest and quite - during their period of illness. The demonstrators had been appealed to many times to give consideration to the sick but the appeal fell on deaf ears. I mention this to show that at that time we were fortunate not to have suffered in Australia an incident similar to that which happened in Munich. The responsibility is not entirely with those young people who are engaged to carry out this irresponsible work. The responsibility for all this lies at the feet of those who organise the young people and who urge them into this irresponsible, murderous conduct.
Of course everybody in the world is staggered and shocked by what has happened at. Munich. I share the view expressed by Senator Murphy that to respond to this kind of action by murdering other people is not the solution. At least in this country let some commonsense prevail. Let us have a cessation or a suspension, anyway, of all this pressure of building up the temper of young people and urging them into conflict with the law and with individual members in our community. This is a timely warning for people in this country that they should take stock of the position. I repeat very determinedly that what happened in Munich could have happened in Brisbane where the Springboks were playing football. It needed only some fanatic - and there were plenty of them about - urged to do his worst, to prevent the Springboks from playing. It needed only someone with a rifle to gain admission to the sports ground who would have been able to pick off every member of the Springboks team as it ran on to the field. That is not beyond the imagination and, feasibly, that could have happened. We can see from the interjections of Opposition senators just who are behind the formation of these disturbances and protests. These persons are urging young people to do these things. Young people of 17, 18 and 19 years of age are being influenced and told what to do. They are told to make as much disturbance as they can and to destroy as much property as they can. We find this situation even in the field of trade unionism today. Anyone who does not agree with the left wing members of trade unions is assaulted and knocked about. The building workers destroy property during a period of strike. Where is this young country going? Are we going to follow the performances of people in other countries? Please God that sanity will reign here in this democracy and there will be enough people in this country to suppress this element which is trying to gain control of Australia. Let us all band together, particularly those who claim to be responsible citizens of this country, so that there will be no recurrence of what took place here during the visit by the Springboks and so that we will never have a recurrence of the atrocities perpetrated at Munich during the Olympic Games.
– Mr President-
– Order! Senator Georges, will you resume your seat for a moment, please. Matters which are the subject of such a motion as has been moved by the Acting Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Drake-Brockman) are generally left in the hands of the leaders of the parties and do not become the subject of general debate. Without depriving honourable senators of the opportunity to speak to the motion moved by the Acting Leader of the Government, which is based on a sense of compassion, unless I am forced to do otherwise I propose to put the question that the Senate agree with the motion.
– I seek leave to make a statement. Mr President, answering your plea, might I say that if such action were to be taken it should have been taken at the time when the scope of the debate was extended by Senator Gair. Since the debate has now been extended 1 do not see how, Mr President, leave can possibly be refused to anyone who wishes to participate in the debate.
-I cannot prevent the Senate from granting leave. I am merely putting for the consideration of all honourable senators that this motion should not be the subject of a party political debate.
– I now seek leave to make a statement.
– Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– Let me make it clear-
– He wants to make party politics out of it.
– There sits the mammon of righteousness. The honourable senator who has just spoken is, I would say, an example of what is occurring in this country. He is an example of a person who I have termed before to be a precursor of evil.
– Order! Senator Georges, you will address yourself to the motion. You have used the device of seeking leave to make a statement. The statement should relate to the subject matter of the motion before the Senate. Please confine yourself to the motion.
– I am merely retaliating to the interjection that was made. I will explain what I meant by a precursor of evil, in case it is not clearly understood by all honourable senators present. It is one who anticipates a situation and by anticipating such a situation in fact creates the situation. If a person anticipates that there shall be violence and he defines how that violence shall occur, he in effect creates that very violence. This, I would say, is a description which fits the honourable senator who has just resumed his seat. I will now return the motion.
I abhor violence of all kinds; I abhor the violence that occurred at Munich. I rise to speak now because I do not want the Leader of my Party in the Senate to be isolated in making the statement which he made alone. I support the statement which he has made. I support his clear opposition to the atrocity which occurred at Munich. I support his further statement about the atrocity which followed the one at Munich, because there is no excuse for violence in this world today. Time after time, we have spoken about actions, which have been supported by members of this Parliament and by the Government itself, involving violence that has been perpetrated against innocent people, innocent nations and small nations. In accepting the violence against these small nations, we have conditioned ourselves to accepting, the situations of violence which have occurred in places like Ireland and the Middle East. We have conditioned ourselves to accepting the violence which occurred at Munich, acid it is hypocritical on our part to take a position of abhorrence at what has happened in Munich. .
Let us realise what happened in Munich. Young men, driven by hate, took a suicidal position and died and, in dying, destroyed innocent people. That is . abhorrent to us. But also abhorrent is the retaliation which has taken place. We ought to risk the charge of anti-semitism by declaring that we are against what Israel has done also in retaliating to what happened at Munich. Israel has retaliated against innocent people - the Palestine refugees - and it ought not to be allowed to go without criticism.
What my Leader has done is to level criticism against what has happened at Munich and what has happened subsequently in the Middle East. All 1 am saying in support is that we can no longer tolerate acts of violence by people whether they be our allies or our enemies, whether they be Israelis or Americans or Irish, or whether they be of one religion or another. Violence cannot be tolerated, because it is an infamy. It is an attack upon humanity. No one should level criticism against one who is guilty of an act of violence unless he also levels that criticism against he who retaliates. Let me answer Senator Gair and explain the reason why there was so much opposition to the Springbok tour. Let us make it clear. Senator Greenwood, the Attorney-General, realises why there was opposition. The opposition to the Springbok tour was - this is clear and it should never be mistaken–
– It was violent opposition.
– It was violent opposition-
– Policemen were kicked insensitive-
– It was violent opposition against the violent imposition of the law.
– You have condemned violence.
– -Order! Senator Georges you will confine yourself to the motion before the Senate.
– This was violent opposition against a law imposed by insensitive governments. I must answer this because a charge was made and indirectly it involved me. The charge was clearly made that, there was violence against a particular team. Let me make it clear that that team was selected on the basis of racial discrimination. It was appointed on conditions which did not allow a person who was excluded any redress because he happened to be black. He was not excluded because he happened to be a communist, a liberal, or a fascist; he was excluded because he happened to be black - nothing more or less. This was the base of the opposition and this was the base of the reaction against governments which permitted the entry of such a team into Australia. Such will be the basis of opposition to any team which is selected on a religious or racist criterion. I make it quite clear that the opposition was not based on any other reason. No matter what the Government does to misinterpret this situation and no matter what Senator Gair does to misinterpret it, it is clear that those men who were excluded from the South African Springbok team were excluded for no other reason than the pigment of their skin. They were black. Violence and atrocity are perpetrated–
– Has not the same thing been done against Asians in Uganda?
– Order! The motion before the Senate seeks to express condolence in respect of the incident which occurred at Munich. The honourable senator is extending this debate in a way that I cannot accept. I request you, Senator Georges, to conclude your remarks.
– I will conclude my remarks. 1 have merely exercised my right to take advantage of the extension by Senator Gair of the terms of the debate. Senator Gair has provoked me into making certain statements which I should have made prior to this.
– You cannot deny that some of the protesters had knives.
– Senator Gair-
– Order! Senator Georges, you will be doing the Senate a service by drawing your argument to a conclusion.
– I draw my argument to a close, but I must, as an interjection was made, explain the incident which occurred. A young man at that demonstration
– Order! Senator Georges, there is a question of relevancy in all this-
– All right. I will answer it at another stage. I will take the opportunity to answer Senator Gair’s allegations on the adjournment tonight. But let me return to the matter that is before the Senate. I support emphatically what the Leader of the Opposition has said. The atrocity of Munich cannot be condoned; neither can any retaliation to such atrocity be condoned.
– in reply - I remind the Senate that the motion was directed to the Olympics and what happened in Munich. In the motion the Government is condemning the violence of the Israelis and the Arabs in the Middle East and is urging that there be international co-operation towards a peaceful settlement of this matter. I commend the motion to the Senate.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I present the following petition from 10 citizens of the Commonwealth:
To the Honourable the President and Members of the Senate in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully sheweth:
That the Australian Education Council’s report on the needs of government education services has established serious deficiencies in education, the most important areas being a severe shortage of teachers, inadequate accommodation, and, as a result, oversized classes.
That extra Federal finance is urgently required to save the government school system.
That while the needs of the government schools are being neglected, large amounts of public money is being given, in various and numerous grants, to private schools.
Your petitioners most humbly pray that the Senate in Parliament assembled will take immediate steps to make emergency Federal finance available to the States for State school education, and divert the large sums of public money being spent on private schools, to the government school system for which the government is truly responsible. And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray.
Petition received and read.
– I give notice that on the next day of sitting I shall move:
That, unless otherwise ordered, the days and times of meeting of the Senate for the remainder of the present period of sitting be as follows:
Tuesday: 11 a.m. until 12.45 p.m.; 2.15 p.m. until 6 p.m.; 8 p.m. until 10.30 p.m.
Wednesday: 10.30 a.m. until 12.45 p.m.; 2.15 p.m. until 6 p.m.; 8 p.m. until 11 p.m.
Thursday: 10 a.m. until 12.45 p.m.; 2.15 p.m. until 6 p.m.; 8 p.m. until 10.30 p.m.
– I give notice that on the next day of sitting I shall move:
That leave be given to introduce a Bill for an Act to amend the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918-66 to provide for enrolment and voting at the age of 18 years.
– I am about to call for questions without notice. Already the Acting Leader of the Government has given an indication of the time compression problem in which we are involved. I ask honourable senators when asking questions without notice to bear in mind this problem of time compression in which we are all involved for all sorts of reasons which we all throughly understand.I now call for questions without notice.
– I address a question to the Attorney-General. In the light of the various reported statements of pressure upon the Government not to proceed with its proposal for amendment of the trade practices and monopolies legislation, will the Attorney-General tell the Senate whether the Government is succumbing to this pressure, or whether it intends to endeavour to have its proposals on these matters passed through the Parliament this session?
– In the statement made on 24th May this year the Government indicated the outline of its proposals to amend the trade practices legislation. At that time a request was made that persons who wished to make submissions to the Government after they had read the statement and reacted to it would be welcome to do so and that their submissions would be considered. Also at that time the statement was made that the Government intended to introduce the legislation during this session. I am sure Senator Murphy would agree with me that whether or not the Government can pass legislation through the Parliament does not depend entirely on the Government; it depends on the Parliament. The Government is giving consideration to the submissions which are now being received. I can assure the Senate and those who have forwarded submissions that all representations will be examined. It is the Government’s intention to bring down this legislation during this session; but, as I have said, what then happens to it depends on the Parliament.
– I wish to inform honourable senators that I shall revert to my normal practice during question time, of calling first those honourable senators on my left or on the cross benches. I have checked the last series of questions asked and found that honourable senators on the cross benches should have priority for questions today. I therefore call Senator Byrne.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Prime Minister. Is the Minister aware of growing concern among Service personnel and their wives and families that the delay of the Government in announcing its policy in relation to the report of the Joint Committee on Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Legislation indicates that the Government is not disposed to accept the recommendations of the Committee? Is he further aware that the delay in the declaration of policy in this respect can have a serious effect on the recruitment of personnel and on the re-enlistment of those who are presently serving in the armed forces? Finally, is the Minister in a position to indicate whether the Government is likely to make an early announcement as to the acceptance in whole or in part of the report of the Committee?
– J do not accept as a fact what the honourable senator says is the reaction of some Service personnel and their wives and families to delay by the. Government in this respect. The Jess Committee brought down its report not so long ago and the Service Ministers and their departments immediately studied it as it concerned each Service. The Service departments then put to the Department of Defence a submission outlining their views on the report. Subsequently the Minister for Defence met with the Service Ministers and they added their views on the report. The Minister for Defence then forwarded a submission to the Government. It is my understanding that the Government is presently studying that submission.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Social Services. I preface it by saying that perhaps the Minister has heard comments such as ‘Promises, promises’ and That will be the day’ about the Government’s proposed action to remove the means test over 3 years. Will the Minister put these and similar comments at an end by saying when it is anticipated the legislation to remove the means test over 3 years will be introduced?
– The basis of the honourable senator’s question lies in the statement contained in the Treasurer’s Budget Speech that the Government was committed to removing the means test within 3 years. It will be recalled also that a committee is to be appointed to consider various aspects of that proposition. It is a clear commitment by the Government, and when the Government is returned at the election it will be in a position to give some indication of the date on which the legislation to give effect to that objective can be brought in.
– I direct my question to the Attorney-General. Has the Minister’s attention been drawn to the fact that a gentleman named Mr Barry Johnston, Who is sought by the Commonwealth police, has been endorsed as the Australian Labor Party candidate for the seat of Hotham in Victoria?
– You have asked it 7 times previously.
– The Minister is aware of it.
– Order! That question has been asked before. Is there a second question?
– Then ask the second question.
– I cannot hear because of the noise from the Opposition.
– I can hear you.
– This question lies particularly within the purview of the Minister’s responsibility. Is the Minister aware that the electoral campaign was opened recently at a meeting at which the chief supporters were a Mr R. J. Hawke, Senior Vice-President of the Australian Labor Party, and the Chairman of the Victorian Branch of the Australian Labor Party, Mr George Crawford, who currently is visiting friends in Hanoi? Is the Minister aware that the wanted candidate’s speech was delivered by a tape recorder? Can the Minister say whether this is the first occasion on which a tape recorder has stood for Parliament?
– I arn aware that a Mr Barry Johnston is reported to have been endorsed by the Australian Labor Party as one of its candidates at the forthcoming federal election. I understand that the same Mr Johnston is a person who is wanted by the police and that he is not prepared to give himself up to the police in order to ensure that the lawful processes are observed; nor apparently is the Australian Labor Party prepared to encourage him to do so. I am not aware of any other occasion upon which a candidate has addressed himself to his electorate by a tape recorder because he is frightened that if he shows bis face the Commonwealth Police may arrest him. I hope it is the last time that any such farce will be perpetrated upon the people of Australia. It is very interesting to note that the Leader of the Australian Labor Party, Mr Whitlam, did not speak at the meeting which was addressed by Mr Hawke and Mr Crawford. It is also interesting to note that recently Mr Whitlam expressed himself as being of the opinion that Mr Johnston should give himself up. The fact that Mr Johnston is not prepared to do so and the fact that the. Victorian Branch of the Australian Labor Party is not prepared to support Mr Whitlam is striking evidence of the division and disunity in the Australian Labor Party.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Civil Aviation. I ask: When the Government was conducting its recent extensive review of Australia’s competitive 2-airline system were the respective State governments invited to make a submission as to whether TransAustralia Airlines should be allowed to operate intrastate services?
– No, they were not; nor was it necessary for them to do so. If they had wished that to happen they could have communicated quite simply and sensibly on this matter, as they do on many other matters.
– My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Education and Science. I ask: Has the Minister’s attention been drawn to a recent article in the ‘Australian’ news paper which claimed that universities will be forced in the next 3 years to turn away a considerable number of students and that students will be required to turn to colleges of advanced education for their tertiary education? Does the Minister know whether this statement is accurate? Will the Government’s substantial scholarship programme, as announced in the Budget, influence this situation? Further, has the Minister noted the statement in the article that colleges neglect practically all the humanities for the sciences? If so, will he seek a response from the Department of Education and Science to meet the upsurge in student interest in these subjects and fields?
– I have seen the article to which reference has been made. There is a pattern of growth in the number of applicants seeking university education. This is a matter which is under continuous consideration by the Minister for Education and Science. It should be noted, of course, that the proportion of the student age group eligible for university education that has entered universities over the last 10 years has grown remarkably with the increased university facilities that have been made available by the Government. It is natural that those who cannot gain admission to universities should turn to colleges of advanced education. I noted the honourable senator’s statement that those colleges predominate in their interest in the technological subjects as against the humanities. That is a development which may be either intensified or corrected as the colleges determine their growth. These colleges have still to map out their course of development. Therefore I would not like to indicate whether the humanities will be added to by the colleges in the foreseeable future.
– My question, which is directed to the Minister for Civil Aviation, refers to the congestion and delay which took place at the Sydney international airport last Sunday as a result of the arrival of 4 Jumbo jets within 60 minutes of each other. Is it a fact that the problem was caused mainly by the failure of the authorities concerned to roster sufficient staff? If so, what action is proposed to overcome similar occurrences in the future? Was the delay attributable in any way to the actions of the Department of Civil Aviation?
– When I came in from Papua New Guinea fairly late last night I naturally sought some information on this matter. As the honourable senator says, substantial delays were experienced by passengers arriving at Sydney airport on Sunday, 10th September. The circumstances were quite unusual. Eight aircraft, including four B747 jumbo jets, arrived over a period of 67 minutes carrying a total of 1,634 passengers. Several aircraft had been delayed en route for operational and technical reasons causing them all to come in at the one time. It should be made perfectly clear that the delays were not the result of any fault in the terminal design or facilities. Both Sydney and Melbourne termimals are designed to handle mass flows of passengers and new processing techniques have been adopted with excellent results and with the full cooperation of customs, health and immigration authorities. However, when there are large and unexpected inflows of passengers it can strain the resources of any airport in the world. One of the problems is to bring quickly to the airport the trained personnel on very short notice. The Department of Civil Aviation in conjunction with the other authorities - customs, health, immigration and the airlines - is reviewing the problems shown up last Sunday in an endeavour to ensure that if this happens again passengers will move through the terminal without so much delay. I have rather a great problem because I speak for myself as Minister for Civil Aviation and I also respond on behalf of the Minister for Customs and Excise and Qantas Airways Ltd. There is some difference of view. But I assure the honourable senator that the matter is being taken up. The facilitation committee will be looking at it as it has in the past and it is hoped that we will learn something out of this to help on future occasions.
– Can the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs afford the Senate any information on the claim given publicity today that a naturalised Australian citizen who was not born in Yugoslavia on a visit to Yugoslavia has been deprived of his liberty on the plea that he owes military service to that country?
– I have noticed the news that was published today but I have not any facts with regard to the individual case. We discussed only a week or two ago a similar case with regard to another European country. No doubt, it involves the obligations which European countries impose upon their citizens, even though they have become naturalised abroad, to undergo military service. But I could not give the particulars of this case until I have referred it to the Department.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs. Is the Minister aware of a Press report by Mr Denis Warner, the well known political correspondent, that Singapore wants the Australian forces to remain in the region and has made this clear to its partners? Does this not show clearly that it is hoped Australia will continue to accept its responsibility in this region?
– Yes, I have noticed the article by Mr Denis Warner. I remind the Senate that when the Prime Minister visited Singapore in June last the importance of the S-power arrangements to that area was emphasised both by him and the Prime Minister of Singapore. Those arrangements are working very well and Australia regards their continuance to be of real importance. Of course, Australia will honour her obligations with regard to them. Australia sees them as significant, not only because of the present disposition of troops there, aiding the country at the present time, but also because they indicate a long term contribution to peace in the area.
– Is the Minister representing the Minister for Education and Science aware of a statement made by the Deputy Prime Minister, Mr Anthony, that as the Australian Broadcasting Commission uses public moneys it must accept public responsibility and scrutiny? Has he noted the annual report of the Department of Education and Science, issued by the Authority of the Minister, Mr Malcolm Fraser, which reveals that during 1971 $24m was paid by the Commonwealth to independent schools? Can the Senate be informed whether the same public scrutiny that is applied to the ABC is given to those funds? Is the Minister able to assure the Senate that the money expended by the Commonwealth has been used solely in the furtherance of education and is based on the needs of education?
– I take up the trend of the honourable senator’s argument. I would have thought that it was fairly clear that the expenditure of public money by a public authority such as the Australian Broadcasting Commission was at all times subject to the processes of the Audit Act, which means a demanding security of every detail of the expenditure. The Senate can be assured that the arrangements made by the Minister for Education and Science with regard to expenditure on aid to independent schools, although not invoking the provisions of the Audit Act of the Commonwealth, are such that the moneys paid to independent schools are faithfully paid for the purpose of school buildings and education.
– I ask a question of the Minister for Civil Aviation, Referring to the Minister’s statement on 29th August last that Trans-Australia Airlines will get the right to operate on more routes, can the Minister inform the Senate when TAA will commence its air services on the Cairns-Weipa-Thursday Island route?
– I cannot inform the Senate when Trans-Australia Airlines will commence that service but I hope that it is as soon as possible. The general policy statement ‘contemplated, as the honourable senator understood* the renewal of the 2- airline agreements. These agreements are a sanctification of separate letters of intent between the Government and Ansett Transport Industries Ltd and between the Government and the Australian National Airlines Commission. This negotiating process is continuing.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Acting Minister for Health. Will the Department of Health assure the Senate that it will resist any attempt to lift the permissible level of mercury contamination in fish or other foodstuffs? Will the Department give the necessary information to those who seek to lift the permissible level so that they may be impressed with the threat that is posed to the health of the community? Will the Department carry out an educational programme in this respect to make the public fully aware of the extreme danger of excess mercury contamination to the nervous system of a human being?
– The permissible limit of mercury in flake, which is the fish to which the honourable senator’s question refers, is a matter which comes within the legislation of the States, except to the extent that the Commonwealth has a particular responsibility for the Territories. I have read in the newspapers that problems have arisen in some States and that a request has been made, I understand by the Australian Fisheries Council to the National Health and Medical Research Council, for the latter Council to reconsider the permissible limit which exists at present. The request was made to that Council because the State legislation seeks to give effect to the recommendations of a body which for almost 40 years has accepted in relation to the public health of this country a role whereby the States defer to it in relation to the type of public health legislation which, generally speaking, they enact. Whether the National Health and Medical Research Council will reconsider the matter in the way which the Australian Fisheries Council has asked depends upon the consideration of the many distinguished people who comprise that Council. Until that decision has been made any answer I give would be purely hypothetical and add to unnecessary speculation.
My question is directed to the AttorneyGeneral. Since we in this Parliament are responsible for giving a bonanza to the legal profession with so many Bills which pass through this chamber, will the AttorneyGeneral consider initiating a voluntary legal insurance scheme similar to the voluntary health insurance scheme so that traditional
British justice may be available to every citizen of Australia at a cost which he can afford?
– I am sure that Parliament does as much as it can do to ensure that there is no bonanza - to use the honourable senator’s expression - for the legal profession by ensuring that the legislation which is passed is as free from doubt as to its legal construction and constitutionality as possible. On the other aspect of her question, I think she has raised a novel concept. I am not aware of any general legal insurance scheme which has been enacted by parliaments or governments throughout the world. Rather the emphasis has been on ensuring that legal aid is available. Of course legal aid is designed to be made available to those who cannot afford the services of a legal practitioner. As the honourable senator asks, I shall give consideration to the proposal which she has put forward. I think I should state that a pattern is already evolving in the States of quite comprehensive legal assistance schemes.
– Can the Acting Leader of the Government in the Senate advise on the outcome of representations made by the Australian High Commissioner in London to the British Home Office on apparent inconsistencies in the British Government’s policy towards Australians seeking United Kingdom work permits?
– On 31st August last the honourable senator made certain representations to me during the debate on the motion for the adjournment of the Senate. I have sought some information from the Prime Minister’s Department which I have in front of me now. If that will suit the honourable senator I shall give it to him. The honourable senator said that State Agents-General in London had bypassed the High Commissioner’s office in relation to this matter. I am informed that the Agents-General have advised the High Commissioner that they have not gone direct to the British Home Office at any time. At all times they have made representations through the High Commissioner. The High Commissioner and the previous Home Secretary, Mr Maudling, have had several talks during the last 2 years about Australians entering the United Kingdom, particularly when the British Government’s immigration legislation was being drawn up. On 12th May 1972, on behalf of the 6 AgentsGeneral, the High Commissioner wrote to Mr Maudling about the treatment accorded-
– He is no longer there; he has resigned.
– I am telling the honourable senator what happened. The High Commissioner wrote to Mr Maudling about the treatment accorded to various Australians by immigration officers at the port of entry. A reply was received on 21st June. The High Commissioner has deliberately waited until the new Home Secretary, Mr Robert Carr, has had time to settle into his new department before taking these matters up with him. Some 155,000 Australians visit the United Kingdom annually, and it is understood that there are approximately 30 million visitors to the United Kingdom annually. In these circumstances some complaints might be expected. But it is our understanding that the people who complain constitute a very small proportion of the total number of visitors. The British authorities have indicated their readiness to investigate complaints when sufficient details are available to permit this to be done. I am informed that there is no question of British airports abolishing separate control gates for the use of Commonwealth citizens.
– For a reply to a question without notice, that is pretty good.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry: Which Australian-produced vegetable oil is at this time acceptable as a mix with butter oil to produce a product which is acceptable as an item of food suitable for human consumption? Can the Minister inform the Senate whether there is an Australian-produced vegetable oil which is acceptable as a mix with butter oil for export to Japan?
– I am in the same boat here. This question was asked during the last session. I have the information here and I can give it to the honourable senator should you, Mr President, permit it. But after my last answer you passed a comment.
– I did, too. I admit that. If you have the information readily available you may answer the question.
– It is my understanding that butter oil can be mixed with a variety of vegetable oils that are produced in Australia, such as maize oil, sunflower seed oil and soya bean oil. Cotton seed oil and safflower seed oil can also be used in small quantities in combination with the other vegetable oils I have mentioned. However, their acceptability in a mixture would depend on the nature of the market, the price, the end use of the product and the availability of alternative products. I am informed that sufficient research has net been carried out by the Northfield research station, which comes under the jurisdiction of the South Australian Department of Agriculture, to provide a satisfactory answer in this respect. The Australian Dairy Produce board has advised that to date the demand from Japanese importers has been for a mix containing palm oil, which is not an Australian product.
– Order! I should like to remind honourable senators of what the learned Clerk of the Senate has said, in the third edition of ‘Australian Senate Practice’, about questions seeking information. I agree with what he has said and I think it is proper that I should read it to honourable senators:
Questions may be put to a Minister of the Crown relating to the public affairs with which he is officially connected, to proceedings pending in Parliament, or to any matter of administration for which the Minister is responsible. This is an overriding rule. … lt is an overriding rule that I intend to apply.
– Is the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Industry aware that substantial and increasing quantities of manufactured carpets and floor coverings are being imported into Australia from New Zealand as a result of the operation of the New ZealandAustralia Free Trade Agreement and that these imports are posing a threat to the financial stability of Australian carpet manufacturing industries and to employment in those industries? Have the protective provisions of this Agreement ever been invoked in the interests of any Australian industry, either primary or secondary, where the level of imports has threatened a locally based industry?
– I know that the New Zealand-Australia Free Trade Agreement provides that, if hardship is shown to be occasioned to an industry in either country, consultation can take place and remedies can be sought under the terms of the Agreement. The Agreement is designed also to further trade between both countries and to enlarge the opportunities of people in both countries. If there is a specific case where harm has been said to be done and information is given to me after question time I shall take it up with the responsible Minister.
– I ask the Minister for Civil Aviation a question and I refer to the recent joint statement by the Chief Minister of Papua New Guinea, the Minister for Civil Aviation and the Minister for External Territories with regard to the future civil aviation policy in Papua New Guinea. It was stated that it is proposed to offer shareholdings in a single national airline in Papua New Guinea to Ansett Airlines of Papua New Guinea, Trans-Australia Airlines and Qantas Airways Ltd. Is the involvement of Papua New Guinea in the new airline to be totally a government contribution or are shareholdings also to be offered for private investment?
– This matter has not long been concluded. It is my intention to make a fairly short statement on it to the Senate. I will try to do this tomorrow, if I can; if not, I will do so before the week ends. The details of how this consortium of what might be called ability and resources will be put together have yet to be worked out. Therefore, I cannot at the moment answer the question that the honourable senator has put to me. But the proposal initially was that the people of
Papua New Guinea would share in the operation through the Government of their country taking a responsible portion of it.
My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Industry. Is the Minister aware that snap frozen cauliflower, broccoli and brussel sprouts are being imported into Australia from South Africa and are being sold in Australia under a number of well-known Australian brand names? Will the Minister investigate this matter and ensure that accurate labelling of all primary products is insisted upon, especially of those being imported from foreign countries for sale in Australia and in competition with Australian primary products?
– I thank the honourable senator for drawing my attention to this matter. If he will give me any details which he has additional to those that he has already mentioned, I will give the information to the responsible Minister.
– The Minister for Civil Aviation no doubt will recall that many months ago he promised me a detailed report on the establishment of a noise abatement committee at Townsville. I ask the Minister whether he can now inform the Parliament what has happened to the report and to the committee?
– I would need to refer to the Regional Director of Civil Aviation in Queensland, to whom I talked about this matter some few months ago, and see what the state of preparation of the work is. I know that plans are being made for the development of the Townsville Airport. I cannot tell the honourable senator any more than that, but T shall find out the details for him.
– Has the AttorneyGeneral now been advised that Mr Johnny Golden Brown, an Aboriginal, won his case before the Full Bench of the Supreme Court of the Australian Capital Territory concerning the ordinance removing Aborigines from the precincts of Parlia ment House and that the judgment was that this ordinance never took effect? In view of the Supreme Court’s decision, will the Attorney-General now apologise lo Mr Johnny Golden Brown for the Government’s bungling in relation to this matter?
Murphy asked me a question allied to the matters about which Senator O’Byrne has now asked me. I had not at the time completed reading the judgment of the Supreme Court of the Austraiian Capital Territory, which was delivered this afternoon, and Senator Murphy was asked to place his question on notice. I have, now completed the reading of that judgment. I would simply say that it is a fact that the Supreme Court of the Australian Capital Territory found in favour of the applicants for an injunction to the extent that it declared the ordinance not invalid but inoperative and it declined to grant an injunction tq the persons who had sought an injunction. Indeed, Mr Justice Fox who delivered the leading judgment concluded the latter part of his judgment with these words:
In these circumstances, the ‘plaintiffs have no right to go on the land or remain there for the purposes mentioned.
That indicates that although the Court took the view that there were sufficient grounds for it to declare the ordinance inoperative but not invalid, the Court nevertheless was not prepared to acknowledge any right on the part of the persons who sought the injunction to remain on the land. In those circumstances, the basis upon which Senator Murphy’s question and Senator O’Byrne’s question were directed to mie is false.
– I do not. want to involve the Attorney-General or any other eminent barrister or lawyer in a wrangle, but I can see that Senator Murphy wishes to ask a supplementary question in relation to the question just asked by Senator O’Byrne. Therefore, I shall allow the question.
– I do wish to ask a supplementary question because the Attorney-General related his answer to something I had suggested. I ask the Attorney-General again, now that he has read the judgment of the Full Court of the
Australian Capital Territory: Is it not correct that Aborigines and other persons outside Parliament House were arrested by the police and were removed from outside this building by the police under colour of the amendments to the Trespass on Commonwealth Lands Ordinance? That is what they were told by the police. The police told them that the amendments had been enacted that morning and had taken effect. Is not the clear legal position that what the police told them was wrong and that the police were not entitled to act under that amendment to the Ordinance which had taken no effect whatever? The Attorney-General is passing that by and saying: ‘Nevertheless, there was some other reason.’ Those people were told that a certain law had taken effect, but the Supreme Court of the Australian Capital Territory has ruled that it never took effect. Will the Attorney-General state plainly to the Senate that that is the position and that it was for some other reason, not that which the Aborigines were told was the basis on which they were arrested, that they were being dealt with, that in fact it was a huge bungle-
– Order! The honourable senator must ask his question.
– Will the AttorneyGeneral admit plainly and frankly to the Senate that in this instance the Government has bungled the procedure and misled the Aborigines who were outside Parliament House?
– Before I call the Attorney-General to answer the question if he so chooses I inform honourable senators that any further steps to explore this matter must be taken under other forms of the Senate.
– I acknowledge that, as is implicit in what you have just said, Mr President, this is a question seeking a legal opinion, such as that of which earlier today you ruled out of order. I respectfully submit, however, that it would be unfair to allow the assertions which have been made to go unanswered. I must say, having read the judgment, that the political case which Senator Murphy wishes to make is not a case which had the acceptance of the Court. 1 shall, because the honourable senator asked me to speak clearly and plainly, read out the paragraph of the Court’s judgment so that he may be informed, the Senate may be informed and others who are listening may also be informed. The Court said:
The case for an injunction is based on an allegation that the plaintiffs’ fear that the police, acting under the Ordinance, will either prevent reerection of the tents or remove them if they are re-erected. Section 8a (2) of the Ordinance forbids the erection of tents by the plaintiffs on the land in question. Under section 5, if the necessary preliminary steps are taken, police officers can remove any tent erected, and the contents thereof.
I am of the view, however, that the plaintiffs have failed to establish any case for an injunction. They do not claim simply to be on the land-
– It is not answered.
– Will you please allow me to finish? The judgment continued:
They do not claim simply to be on the land, as pedestrians, or for some casual recreational purposes, or even as members of an assembly, as that term is ordinarily understood. They claim a right to erect and maintain a number of tents and live therein for an indefinite period. Whatever the position may be if the Commonwealth consented to such a course, it is apparent that the Commonwealth does not consent but on the contrary actively opposes it. In these circumstances, the plaintiffs have no right to go on the land, or remain thereon, for the purposes mentioned.
That is a clear statement from the judgment of Mr Justice Fox. So, the whole assertion which Senator Murphy put to me by way of a question lacks foundation. There is no right on the part of these people to succeed in a claim for an injunction. That was what they asked the Court to give them, and the Court refused to give it to them. In those circumstances, why it should now be sought, for some political purpose, to suggest that the Commonwealth has been acting wrongly with regard to these Aboriginal people, I do not know - but I have my suspicions.
The basis upon which the Court made its decision will receive urgent attention, because it has been suggested that the manner of notifying Ordinances and, I would assume, regulations in the ‘Gazette’, in accordance with the requirements of the Seat of Government (Administration) Act ought to be examined. I will go no further than that. I do say, however, that the whole question of the Aboriginal embassy outside Parliament House has been the subject of political motivation by members of the Opposition and others who have sought to create a confrontation for purposes of their own. The fact that the Court has acknowledged that these Aboriginal people had no right to be on this land is, in my opinion, a very satisfactory outcome and a position which the vast majority of people in Australia believe should be the case.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry. Is the Minister aware of a recent survey conducted by the Farmers and Graziers Co-operative Limited which shows that this season’s Australian wheat crop is expected to be the lowest for 10 years and could be as low as 250 million bushels compared with the fixed quota of 407 million bushels? Can wheat growers expect the Government to make an early announcement on the abolition of wheat quotas for the 1973- 74 season so as to ensure that production is not further curtailed at a time when our wheat stocks are at a dangerously low level?
– The quota system was introduced after the Wheatgrowers Federation had discussed the problem with delegates from the State wheat industry organisations. The Federation then came to the Government and suggested that a quota should be fixed. The quota usually is fixed in the early part of the year. This year a quota of 407 million bushels was recommended by the industry and accepted by the Government. The Government agreed to pay $1.10 a bushel as the first advance on the quota of 407 million bushels. As the honourable senator has indicated, as a result of the late start to the season and the poor rains in a number of States it is unlikely that this quota will be reached. This is so particularly in New South Wales where it is estimated that the wheat crop will be as low as 60 million bushels. I will convey to the Minister for Primary Industry the sentiments expressed in the honourable senator’s question, and if the Minister can provide me with further information I will give it to the honourable senator.
– My question is directed tto the Attorney-General and arises from the one asked by Senator Murphy.
– Order! I have said that I will not allow a judicial decision to be discussed through the process of question time. There are other forms of the Senate by which this may be done. If the honourable senator wishes to ask a question which the Attorney-General can answer without involvement in the judicial process, I will allow it. The honourable senator heard me apply the stricture to Senator Murphy, and I now apply that stricture to him.
– At jio time did I seek to canvass the judgment.
– Then, I would like to know what it is you wish to canvass.
– As a result of the judgment there are some things which the Attorney-General should make known to the Parliament, including the attitude of the Government. Will- the Attorney-General examine other ordinances and regulations to ascertain whether they may be inoperative for the same reason that this particular Ordinance was found in that judgment to be inoperative? Did the Commonwealth police, when removing the Aboriginal embassy’, purport to be acting under the ordinance relating to unleased lands? Will the Commonwealth Government compensate the Aborigines for any loss incurred as a result of police action which was taken under an .inoperative ordinance?
– I shall examine whether there are other ordinances or regulations which may be affected by the rationale of the Court’s judgment to which the honourable senator referred. As to his question about the Commonwealth police, I do not think that there is any occasion to answer it because the Commonwealth police took no part in the apprehension and arrest of persons connected with the Aboriginal ‘embassy’ erected outside Parliament House. As to whether any compensation may be payable, I feel that the Government’s attitude would be that if people considered that their rights had been infringed they, like everyone else, have access to the courts of law to assert those rights.
– Is the Minister representing the Minister for Education and Science now in a position to state whether it is correct that the Government has accepted and is implementing in their entirety the recommendations of the Australian Universities Commission in relation to funds for Australian universities for the next 3- year period? I asked the Minister about this matter some days ago and now pursue it by asking a further question.
– It is a fact that the report of the Australian Universities Commission has been accepted in its entirety by the Government. The associated report relating to colleges of advanced education has been accepted in the main with a few reservations, 2 of which come to mind. The first is that since the report was made the Western Australian authorities decided that they did not wish to have a vote of $42m. The vote was reduced bv the Commission, with the concurrence of the Western Australian authorities, to $40m. The second point that comes to mind is that the Commission recommended a reserve appropriation of $5m which was to be used for afterthoughts. That recommendation was refused.
– My question, addressed to the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, follows complaints to me from the Flinders Shire Council in north western Queensland about poor television reception. Before the Government undertakes t© spend massive funds on the introduction of colour television in Australia, will it take action to improve television reception in north and north western parts of Queensland so that people in those areas will have the advantage of black and white television before anything is done about providing colour television for people in the more populated areas?
– I shall convey the honourable senator’s question to the Postmaster-General because 1 am sure that he will be concerned to do what he can to improve television reception in those areas where television facilities are available and where there has been complaint about the quality of what is being provided. As to whether this can be made dependent upon the introduction of colour television, I am unable to say because the Government has indicated the time slot within which colour television may be introduced into this country. The question of improving the standard of television services and reception is a matter of constant concern to the Postmaster-General. 1 will convey to him the request that he look at the situation in the Flinders Shire Council area in Queensland.
– I wish to ask a further question of the Attorney-General on the subject of the amendments which were made early this year to the Trespass on Commonwealth Lands Ordinance. Will the Attorney-General now correct what he said to the Senate and admit in plain terms that the police purported to act-
– I rise on a point of order. Mr President. You ruled a little while ago that this type of questioning should not be pursued.
– That is correct.
– Will you enforce that ruling Mr President?
– Order! I wanted to hear what Senator Murphy was going to say before determining whether he was beginning to debate the matter in the form of a question. Until such time as 1 am able to come to that conclusion, I cannot do any more. But Senator Murphy should not anticipate that I will allow his question after he has asked it. I call Senator Murphy.
– Particularly, if I may add, Mr President, as it was suggested by the Attorney-General that 1 have in some way misrepresented a judgment.
– If you claim to have been misrepresented, Senator Murphy, I shall give you an opportunity at the conclusion of question time to state the grounds on which you have been misrepresented.
– I ask the AttorneyGeneral: Now that he has read the judgment of the Court will he, as the chief law officer of the Commonwealth, not admit - 1 do not ask him to give a legal opinion; I ask him to admit - that Mr Justice Fox of the Supreme Court of the Australian Capital Territory has ruled that when the Ordinance was purported to have been notified this was not done in accordance with the provisions of the Act and therefore the Ordinance was not operative at the time the police purported to act under ‘t or at the time of the hearing before the Court: and that in the judgment of the other judges of the Court the notice which was given was defective and the Ordinance had not taken effect? Is not the consequence of the Court’s judgment that the Government’s failure to act in accordance with the Act in question may have affected other legislation vital to the proper administration of this Territory and other Territories?
– Order! The AttorneyGeneral may or may not answer that question, as his inclination directs.
– Mr President, I feel that we could go on ad nauseum in the way in which Senator Murphy is broaching these matters. I read the key part of the judgment in response to his earlier question. Tt is a fact, to come to the first part of his last question, that the Supreme Court has ruled that the Ordinance is inoperative but not invalid. The Court refused the injunction of the persons who took this action claiming relief. That was the point I made before. That is the complete answer to the initial point which Senator Murphy raised.
– Order! Senator Greenwood, I have just received information which indicates to me that the series of questions without notice on this subject have another relationship altogether. You may conclude your answer. Senator Green wood, and then I shall absolutely, finally and definitively refused to allow any further question on this subject. Will you conclude your answer, Senator Greenwood?
– Yes, Mr President. All I wish to say, simply, is that the matter of examining regulations and ordinances which may be effected by this decision will be looked at, as 1 indicated to Senator Cavanagh in answer to his question. The balance of what Senator Murphy said has been covered by the answer I gave earlier.
(Senator Cavanagh having addressed a question to the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior.)
– Order! It has become clear to me, as the Presiding Officer of this chamber, that all the questions of this nature are being directed to obtain information in the context of a specific matter of which I am aware. I believe the forms of the Senate are being improperly used. I order that question to bc put on notice. Any further questions relating to this matter also will be ordered by me to be put on notice.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Civil Aviation. In view of the Minister’s statement earlier today that the State governments were not invited to make a submission to the Commonwealth Government during the recent review of the 2-airline policy and that it was the responsibility of the States themselves to make an approach to the Commonwealth Government about Trans-Australia Airlines operating intrastate services, I ask: Were the States advised that such a review was in fact taking place? If not, how could the States be in a position to make such a submission? Further, will the Minister- give, consideration to a submission from the South Australian Government to allow Trans-Australia Airlines to operate intrastate in South Australia under the new agreement?
– lt is presumed that, like everybody else, the State governments and Premiers read the newspapers. They would have been able to gather from doing so that a review had been undertaken. Many answers have been given in this Parliament over the last 12 months that reviews were being conducted. If the South Australian Government wants this matter to be considered by the Commonwealth
Department of Civil Aviation it is most welcome to write to the Department about it.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Civil Aviation. What is the policy of the Department of Civil Aviation with regard to searching for lost aircraft and in what circumstances is the Royal Australian Air Force asked to assist in a search such as the one that is going on at present in Tasmania?
– I think the honourable senator is referring to the search that is going on for a Tiger Moth aircraft. We would be actively engaged in such a search. We always draw help from the Department of Air and the Department of Shipping and Transport if we feel their help will be of assistance and they always do the same with us. The problem with the present search is that the weather in the search area is extremely bad and the visibility very low. The search has had to be restricted because of that. The normal practice is to give every possible assistance to any search that is conducted. If at any time the honourable senator would like to see a search room where the whole planning of a search is carried out I would be quite happy to show him one.
– I have received from His Excellency, the GovernorGeneral, the following message:
To the President of the Senate: Further to my letter of 30th August 1972 I convey to the Senate the following message received this morning from Her Majesty the Queen:
I am most grateful to members of the Senate and the members of the House of Representatives for their kind message of sympathy on [he death Of Prince William. Signed Elizabeth R.
Assent to the following Bills reported:
Consular Privileges and Immunities Bill 1972. Customs Tariff Bill (No. 3) 1972. Excise Tariff Bill (No. 2) 1972. Income Tax Assessment Bill (No. 4) 1972. Pay Roll Tax (Territories) Assessment Bill 1972. Sales Tax (Exemptions and Classifications) Bill 1972.
Australian Capital Territory Stamp Duty Bill 1972.
Diplomatic Privileges and Immunities Bill 1972. Victoria Grant (Millewa Pipelines) Bill 1972.
Asian Development Bank (Additional Subscription) Bill 1972.
Lighthouses Bill 1972.
Agricultural Tractors Bounty Bill 1972.
States Grants (Pre-School Teachers Colleges) Bill 1972
New Guinea Timber Agreement Act (Repeal)
Papua New Guinea Bill 1972.
– For the information of honourable senators I present the interim report of the Australian Wool Commission for the period ending 30th June 1972. When the final report is available I shall table it in accordance with statutory requirements.
– For the information of honourable senators, 1 present the interim annual report of the Australian Honey Board for the year ended 30th June 1972. When the final report is available I shall present it in accordance with statutory requirements.
– Pursuant to section 148 of the Social Services Act 1947-1972 I present the thirty-first annual report of the Director-General of Social Services for the year ended 30th June 1972.
Motion (by Senator Drake-Brockman) proposed:
That Business of the Senate notices of motion Nos 1 to 4 be postponed until the next day of sitting.
– I wish to raise a matter relating to the motion. I ask the Acting Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator DrakeBrockman) to consider it. Will the Senate be held up to ridicule if notice of motion No. 4 is further adjourned? The notice relates to the disallowance of an ordinance. That ordinance has been found to be invalid. I believe that Aborigines are at present re-erecting their embassy on the lawns outside Parliament House. I believe that his excellency, the ambassador, Mr Alexander–
– Order! To whom is the honourable senator referring when he is speaking of ‘his excellency’?
– Mr Alexander.
– I do not acknowledge him as ‘his excellency’.
– He is the high commissioner.
– I do not acknowledge him as that either. Please refer to him as Mr Alexander.
- Mr Alexander is supervising the erection of an embassy there.
– He is not supervising the erection of an embassy. He may be supervising the erection of huts or tents. He is not supervising the erection of an embassy. I do not acknowledge these terms.
– That depends on whose interpretation it is.
– As occupant of the chair I am placing an interpretation on it.
– I accept that in your interpretation they are not erecting an embassy.In the interpretation of indigenous Australians they are erecting an embassy outside Parliament House. The ordinance was considered to be a legal ordinance. Notice of motion No. 4 is for the disallowance of that ordinance, which was found by the Supreme Court of the Australian Capital Territory to be inoperative. It would seem to me that the natural thing to do, in view of a judgment given today, would be to dispose of the matter by agreeing to the disallowance of the ordinance until such time as the Attorney-General (Senator Greenwood) finds a method of making the ordinance operative.
– The motion is for the postponement of notices of motion Nos 1 to 4. Either move an amendment or the matter will be put to a vote.
– Notice of motion No. 4, to which Senator Cavanagh has drawn attention, stands in my name. There may be a good deal of force in what has been said by Senator Cavanagh. Never theless it is probably fair that honourable senators be given an opportunity to study the judgment of the Australian Capital Territory Supreme Court. The Senate may wish to give consideration to that judgment. I think it is right and proper to accept the motion moved by the Acting Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator DrakeBrockman) that notices of motion Nos 1 to 4 be stood over to the next day of sitting.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I ask for leave to make a statement relating to the 35-hour week.
– Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– I make this statement on behalf of the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon). Honourable senators will understand that where the statement is in the first person it refers to the Prime Minister. I make a statement about the 35-hour week because it is a matter of national importance about which the facts should be made clear, and because the campaign for its widespread introduction throughout industry threatens to damage confidence in the economy and in the Government’s programme to secure full employment, industrial stability, economic growth and price stability and a better quality of life for all people. The Government is opposed to any extension of a 35-hour week at this stage of Australia’s development, either on an industry-by-industry basis or as a maximum working week to replace the standard 40-hour week of the past 2 decades for the whole of the national work force. The Government has already demonstratedits opposition by its intervention in wage cases which include claims for a reduction in hours to 35 a week, and by frequent ministerial statements designed to warn the community of the price it would have to pay if the Labor Party and the trade unions had their way. The Government wishes to have this matter freely debated in this Parliament now so that the people of Australia will be alert to what is happening, and so that the reason for the Government’s attitude are better understood.
At the outset I want to state that the Government is not opposed to the concept of more real leisure for the Australian working man any more than it is in any way opposed to the concept of increased real wages for the work force of this country. It applauds both concepts, and by its progressive policies over many years it has worked steadily to achieve both objectives. But it also believes that in moving towards them the gains made must be genuine and can be supported by the resources of the country without undue strain on the economy. If they cannot, there will be an inevitable wastage of those benefits through crippling costs, runaway inflation and economic instability. Then full employment will be a myth and more leisure a mirage.
This is not the time for a 35-hour week. I repeat that we are opposed to it at this stage of the country’s development. I stress that point - at this stage of the country’s development. The country cannot afford it now or in the immediate future. Before I tell you why, let us look at the facts as they are known. The present position is that a 40-hour week is worked generally in industry throughout Australia although a shorter week applies in some areas of employment. These include: Some Commonwealth, State and local government employees, some white collar workers in private industry, certain mining industries, and stevedoring and container depots associated with the waterfront. However, it is sufficient for me to say, in this context, that a standard working week of 40 hours applies widely throughout the country for most of the work force. And on that standard the nation’s business, industrial and commercial activity has been based. It would be folly to upset it now. As a point of history, the movement over the last half century or so has been from 48 hours to 44 hours, and then to 40 hours in 1948 at which point it stabilised until recently. Obviously, there cannot be a continuing downward progression in hours because theoretically we would be moving towards the absurd position of no work at all. A whole complex of factors has dictated the level of the standard working week over the years but today the over-riding consideration has to be the capacity of the economy to bear the cost - in truth, the capacity of the citizen himself to bear the cost of new concessions. That is the position we are facing now.
The campaign for a 35-hour week has been stepped up in the last two or three years. The Australian Council of Trade Unions Congress declared for it in 1969 and again in 1971, and the official policy of the Labor Party lays it down and it was confirmed at the Launceston Conference of the ALP last year. Spokesmen for both organisations have stated the case for it, in a variety of forms, on many recent occasions. In some industries trade unions have succeeded in their claims before the Arbitration Commission, the most recent being in certain container depot unions. In other industries, claims have yet to be resolved and strikes, stoppages and limitations on work have taken place in an effort to apply duress on governments and employers. The Government cannot stand aside idly while such a build-up is taking place, especially when new pressures on the economy have to be avoided, and when there is abundant evidence from recent polls that a majority, a sizeable majority of Australians, is opposed to a 35-hour week at this stage.
I have noted that in recent public statements Labor Party and union spokesmen have sought to justify claims for a 35-hour working week on the grounds that it would increase job opportunities, and give more leisure to the work force as a whole. Both are assumptions without any basis in fact and both, in real terms, are far more likely to be wrong than right. So far as job opportunities are concerned, a shorter working week would be more likely to involve overtime at penalty rates. This would inevitably mean more wage-cost pressure and more inflation. Increased leisure, for the minority who might want it and get it would mean a costly personal sacrifice in material benefits. The simple fact, Mr President, is that as a nation, we cannot have it all ways. We cannot expect and get increased social welfare benefits, reduced taxes and other concessions - be paid more and then work less.
In the national context, a shorter working week must be set against the wishes of most people for improvements in social services, housing, education, health, and other services of a practical kind affecting the individual and the community. The national acclaim given to last month’s Budget which concentrated on these matters, while the polls said no to a 35-hour week, shows where the public preference lies. The cost of a 35-hour week, whether it comes piecemeal or as a whole, would be staggering. It is more than the economy could bear at this stage as it is emerging from a sluggish period with inflationary pressures still at work. Let us look briefly at some of the effects if a shorter working week were introduced.
The critical factor is the impact on unit labour costs and prices. What would the effect of a 35-honr week be to the national wage bill and to inflation? The increase in the wage bill would be something of the order of $2,500m to $2,600m and, in some circumstances, could exceed $3,000m a year. Add these figures to the known effect of recent wage increases on our inflationary problem and all the danger signals start flashing. The ramifications of such a huge increase in the national wage bill would be felt right through the economy. The surge in labour costs would force prices up, compromise employment prospects in some areas, create inequalities in income distribution and add new burdens to our manufacturing and rural industries, our transport services and our trade.
My colleagues directly concerned with various aspects of the economy will have more to say about all these problems later. The sum of lt all would be a serious assault on our standard of living, lt would mean a cutback in real purchasing power; that is in oar capacity to buy material goods and services. This capacity is, of course, fundamental to achieving a desired standard of living.
Honourable senators may fairly ask: Will not increased productivity help to absorb the increase in unit labour costs? Will not the incentive of more leisure improve work performance?’ There is no evidence at all that it will. It is appropriate here to look at figures relating to wage increases and productivity. In the decade or so prior to 1971, the trend of average earnings showed an annual increase of 5.4 per cent. Productivity, in the same period, showed a growth rate of 2.6 per cent. But in the year to the December quarter 1971, average earnings went up 113 per cent. In the year to the March quarter 1972, they went up 9 per cent. That is roughly double the rate for many years prior to 1971.
Producitivity in 1970-71 was down to 1.4 per cent, almost half what it had been for many preceding years. So what we have been tackling in the last year has been an abnormal rise in wages and a downturn in productivity. Are we going to compound that problem just at a time when we are turning the corner and getting the trends on the right track again? Everything the Government has done has been directed to keeping the economy on an even kee! and to getting it moving forward in an orderly way. A 35-hour week would punch a hole in the ship at a critical time. There is little evidence, as I have said, to suggest that a shorter working week would have any real influence on productivity. The evidence in other countries on the effect of reduced working hours on productivity shows that any gains in productivity from a 35-hour week are not likely to offset to any substantial extent the inevitable decline in output from the shorter week.
One of the most comprehensive studies available is that carried out by an American research scholar, Dr F. J. Poper of New York University. Dr Poper made a critical evaluation of the empirical evidence underlying the relationship between hours of work and labour productivity. He concluded that at a level of about a 48- hour week, a 1 per cent decline in hours tended to be offset by an 0.33 per cent increase in productivity, but he also expressed the view that at around 40 hours per week decreases in hours are not likely to bring significant hourly productivity gains.
There is also evidence that once the working week is reduced generally below 40 hours, the factors on which a campaign for reduced hours was based ceased to apply. In other words, the pressures for increased leisure ceased and were replaced by the financial attraction of taking a second job. Mr President, let me summarise briefly what the effects on the nation would be if the 35-hour week came about, bringing with it the extra leisure which its advocates claim as a primary objective. Presumably they would set their faces against increased overtime, and presumably they would expect industry to engage more labour, irrespective of its fitness for the work to be done and whether it was qualified. If this happened - that is a reduction in hours, no overtime and more leisure - then there would be a drop in material standards, no matter what money there was in the pay-packet. That money just would not go so far. Prices would be higher because labour costs would be greater and all sorts of inequalities would arise. There would be no benefit from increased leisure for the persons on fixed incomes and on superannuation. There would be disturbance in industries, costly readjustments to make and a general disinclination to plan for growth and expansion.
Mr President, it is an act of responsible government to warn against the dangers of a 35-hour week at this stage of Australia’s development. I am satisfied that the Australian people are not ‘time-servers*, concerned only with the pursuit of leisure. Nor do they include idleness in their aspirations for higher standards of living and a genuine improvement in the quality of life. They do not want to pursue a 35-hour week when they know it is only there to be bought at a price which the community as a whole has to pay. This is a time of great opportunity for all Australians and we should use it well. It is not the way to a better life to sit back and say: ‘Let us do less and ask for more’. Let us be practical. Let us be realistic. Let us not put the brake on progress just when we are moving forward to a period of growth and increasing prosperity for all people in the community. I move:
That the Senate take note of the statement.
– We would like an opportunity to debate this statement. Had the Acting Leader of the Government in the Senate not moved that the Senate take note of the statement, I would have done so because I think that the statement deals with a very important matter that ought to be debated. Unfortunately, we were not given notice that this statement was to be made, and because of the major nature of the matter dealt with in the statement and because it may be necessary to refer to other material, it is inconvenient to debate the statement now. Therefore, I indicate that we would like the debate adjourned in order that we might have an opportunity to deal with this matter as it should be dealt with.
Debate (on motion by Senator Murphy) adjourned.
– On behalf of the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr Anthony), I wish to make a statement dealing with tariff arrangements on knitted shirts, outergarments and woven shirts, etc. The statement is not very long, and, as most honourable senators seem to be wearing reasonable shirts at the present time, I ask for leave to incorporate it in Hansard.
– Order! I have given consideration to the question of giving leave to incorporate statements in Hansard, and I now make the following ruling: Before I put a motion relating to the incorporation of papers in Hansard, those papers have to be delivered to the table and I will have a look at them. After I have had a look at them I shall put the question that the motion relating to the incorporation of the papers be agreed to. Is leave granted for trie incorporation of the statement made on behalf of the Minister for Trade and Industry? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The document read .as follows) -
Honourable members will recall that on 7th September 1971, I tabled the Tariff Board reports on knitted shirts and outergarments and woven shirts, etc. At that time I announced that the Government had decided to continue the quantitative restrictions and temporary additional duties on these goods for a further period of up to 18 months, during which period negotiations for voluntary restraint arrangements would be initiated with the principal supplying countries.
The Government has conducted negotiations with countries which are major suppliers of the products covered by the Board’s reports. The objective of these negotiations was to arrive at mutually acceptable arrangements which would allow these countries both reasonable access and growth prospects and also to enable the more efficient sectors of the Australian industries concerned to continue to operate on a viable basis.
Discussions with the countries concerned have been co-operative and constructive but for various reasons it has not been feasible to conclude arrangements uniformly acceptable both to the countries concerned and to Australia, despite the acknowledged reasonable nature of Australia’s offers. I might mention that the increasing significance of other supplying countries has emerged as a factor which could impair the stability of the proposed restraint arrangements. However, the Government remains willing to examine with countries concerned mutually acceptable arrangements as an alternative to the action now proposed.
The Government has examined alternative arrangements to voluntary restraints and has decided to introduce tariff quotas on knitted shirts and outergarments and woven shirts for a period up to 30th June 1974. The tariff quotas will be established on the basis of the value of imports during 1971- 72, and will provide for growth in 1972- 73 of 20 per cent in the case of knitted goods and21/2 per cent in the case of woven shirts. Part of the growth will be set aside for new importers. Tariff quotas in 1973- 74 will be increased again by 71/2 per cent in the caseof knitwear and21/2 per cent in the case of woven shirts. Imports above the quotas will be subject to additional duties of $7 per kilogram on both knitted goods and woven shirts. The range of knitted goods covered by the tariff quotas will be extended to include knitted blouses.
The Government has also decided to implement the General rates of duties recommended in the Tariff Board’s reports.
These rates are:
Until 31st December 1973 - 45 per cent or, if higher $1.30 per lb From 1st January 1974 - 45 per cent
Woven Shirts -
Until 3 1st December 1973 - 40 per cent plus $1.50 per dozen From 1st January 1974 - 40 per cent.
These are the long term rates recommended by the Tariff Board and which the Gov ernment accepted in the expectation that satisfactory voluntary restraints would be achieved.
The Government reiterates its firm intention that the more efficient sectors of the Australian knitwear and woven shirts industries should continue to operate on a viable basis. The present action reflects the Government’s policy that, if tariff action is to lead to any phasing out of any segment of an industry firms would not be expected to adjust overnight and that special care will be taken relating to changes that might have the effect of putting job opportunities for Australians at risk.
The Government is taking an active part in current international moves that could affect the long-term position of the textile industry. There is considerable uncertainty in the international trade situation in textiles, and a study group under the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade is preparing a report which is scheduled to be completed by the end of December 1972. In addition multilateral negotiations have been suggested under the GATT in 1973. Both of these developments could have an important bearing on the future situation of the textile industry both in Australia and overseas, and the Government will maintain close liaison with the Australian industry on the implications of these developments for the industry. The Government has decided to look at the situation again during 1974, in the light of developments within the Australian industry and overseas.
Debate resumed from 31 August (vide page 640), 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 capital cities and regional centres’.
– Mr President, previously when I was speaking on the Budget I bad discussed the various political and economic points of the Budget. But I must say that this verbose and repetitive document on the 35-hour week, which has just been handed to us, confirms what I had said.
– Someone is going senile.
– No, I do not agree with that. The man has already gone senile. What I am trying to point out is that I have already discussed this matter in my speech on the Budget. I do not agree with the 35-hour week, but I also disagree with the hypocrisy of the Government in bringing forward this emetic document. Every reason given in the document is a reason why the Public Service should work a 40-hour week. As I have said previously, if the Government is sincere in its attitude that there should be no 35-hour week, why should it allow 25 per cent of the work force to have a 36£-hour week? There is little difference between the 2. The fact that $58m was paid in overtime in the Public Service is a reason why the Public Service should work a 40-hour week. It is also another reason why we should not have a 35-hour week. If we have a 35- hour week what will happen is that there will be more overtime. When one visits other countries one finds that people work a 6-day week, if not a 7-day week, and if we want to keep up with other countries eventually we will have to work a bit harder, too. That is all I want to say about the statement that has just been delivered. It is an absurdity to present such a document in this chamber and in the other place when the Government is hypocritical in its attitude to the Public Service working a 40-hour week.
I now revert to the subject which I was discussing when I was rudely interrupted previously. I was talking about our paranoic Department of Health which has only one factor in mind - how to make more regulations and how to impede general practitioners. The unfortunate thing is that most of the doctors in the Department of Health have a chip on their shoulders about general practitioners. They think that general practitioners make far too much money and therefore they have to be pulled down. Therefore, the departmental doctors say: ‘Let us hinder them in every possible way we can’.
I had already discussed some of these points. I was dealing with the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee. Again I do not want to be told that there are eminent people on the Committee. I know that they are eminent people but. as I have said previously, once they work for the Government they become rather constipated mentally in the same way as do the public servants who work in the Department of Health. I have pointed out the number of errors they make in regard to pharmaceutical drugs, but I want to raise this question again because when the Senate was debating the National Health Bill it insisted that the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee should make known its reasons for refusing to place a drug on the pharmaceutical benefits list. When the Department of Health is asked to do this it says: ‘It cannot be done’.
This is exactly what the Department said in regard to the naming of the Committee; it said: ‘It cannot be done’. But after all the kerfuffle about this matter, the Department, without any necessity to do so, went ahead and did it. The same thing applies to the question of drugs not being placed on the pharmaceutical benefits list. Many drugs that have been placed on the list have been taken ofl! it and other drugs have been placed on it. It is completely unfair not to inform drug companies of the reason why a drug is not on the pharmaceutical benefits list. When this question was raised previously the Department of Health had the stupidity - I am sorry to say that is the only word for it - to say: Oh, you cannot make them give the reason because one of the competitors might find out what it is all about’. The competitors know what it is all about anyhow. Probably they already have a drug on the list, or if they want a drug to be placed on the list, they would be only too happy to know the reason; they would want to know the reason - everybody wants to know. The Attorney-General (Senator Greenwood) who, in this chamber, represents the Acting Minister for Health (Dr Forbes) is not present in the chamber, but I hope that somebody will raise this matter with the Acting Minister for Health. Let us have some clarity of the position and let us hear some commonsense about this matter instead of the nonsensical utterances that we hear from the Department of Health.
Now I want to refer to 2 other matters which concern the Department of Health and then 1 might let the Department off the hook. I have referred previously to the rather nonsensical and ludicrous exhibition concerning preventative medicine which occurs every time an aircraft lands in Australia. Those honourable senators who have been abroad and have returned to Australia by air know that the door of the aircraft is opened and that all the flies inside the aircraft sec a notice which says: ‘Flies, do not go out the door until we spray you’. Then 2 men come on board the aircraft with canisters in each hand and they walk up the plane spraying and all the insects drop dead.
– It gives you hay fever into the bargain.
– Yes. lt does noi matter about the passengers sitting there who are hot and anxious to get off the aircraft. They just sit there and wait while this exhibition of autocracy is shown to the world. The Department says: ‘We are looking after the health of the Australian people, so we will spray the aircraft’. If this spraying has to be done - and it is not done by many countries-
– There are other countries which do it.
– I know there are, but in many of them the hostesses on the aircraft do it. When it has been suggested to the Department of Health that the hostesses could do it in Australia the Department has said: ‘No, they cannot be trusted to do it’. The captain of an aircraft is paid even more than a head of a department, so I presume that he is a responsible person.
It could be put on one of his lists that this has to bc done. It is simple. It could be done while the aircraft was in motion and it would save this unnecessary delay when the aircraft lands. Also it would overcome this ludicrous position which makes every person entering Australia laugh at our customs.
– And when the sprayer comes in he opens the door and lets the insects out.
– That is right. But there is a notice which tells all flies to stay in; that has been attended to beforehand.
– The plane would be under pressure while it is in motion. Would not the spray go out with the out draught?
– -No. The spray could be put into the air circuit.
– That would leave sufficient time to kill the flies.
– Yes. Sometimes passengers need stay one minute or 2 minutes only, depending on the officiousness of the sprayer. Hie point is that this action is needless. The Department of Health waves the big stick and says: ‘We are protecting your health. Therefore, what we say is right.’ But the Department’s officials have not been in practice. Half the time, they do not know what they are talking about. I turn to the matter of vaccinations. Do not get me wrong; I believe that every person should be vaccinated.
– Against smallpox?
– Yes. But Great Britain and many European countries do not demand vaccination certificates for entry now. When this question is raised with the Australian Department of Health, hands are raised in horror. But the Department’s officials do not know what they are talking about. Honourable senators may have read a statement in the Press the other day - it is one which the Department of Health backs - that an increase has taken place in the level of smallpox in the world. That statement lacked the qualification from Geneva where the statistics are kept that the only reason why the level has increased is that medical teams have been sent into Ethiopia and it is there that cases of smallpox which have not been reported previously have been discovered. These teams working through that country now have discovered so many cases that these additional findings have caused a marked increase in the world figures for the incidence of smallpox. In every other part of the world the incidence of smallpox has decreased. There are only 2 other centres where smallpox is still found. These are Indonesia and an enclave somewhere in India.
Let us accept that we should be vaccinated. But why do we carry this precaution to such extreme lengths with respect to children suffering from eczema and pregnant woman, who cannot be vaccinated? Whilst it is not impossible to vaccinate such cases, it is harmful. Yet the Department of Health requires those in these categories to enter quarantine for 10 days. The absurdity of this situation is demonstrated in this way: If these people come from the 3 countries where smallpox is to be found, certainly they should be required to enter quarantine, but if they come from any other country, they should be admitted. The Department of Health admits directly that it will accept a person who has come from America-
– What is the period of incubation? They may have been within the period of incubation?
– No. The period is up to 3. weeks.
– What if a person came from America but in the preceding 3 weeks that person seeking entry had been to an infected, country?
– The likelihood of infection is extremely rare. As is pointed out in England and Geneva, these people can be traced and in a special case such as the one mentioned by the honourable senator the person concerned could be asked to report each day to an officer of the Department of Health. The Australian Department of Health releases people from the need to be vaccinated for smallpox if they come from America. The Department has accepted that standard. But a person who comes from anywhere else, including Europe, must have a vaccination certificate. In 2 cases recently pregnant women were placed in a quarantine station in New South Wales because they were not and could not be vaccinated. This is an absolutely monstrous absurdity. Nothing is being done about it. If it was the wife of an honourable senator who was affected, that honourable senator would be the first to raise his voice in protest. But the Minister for Health listens to the stupid people in the Department of Health who say this cannot be done. It can be done. It is done everwhere in the world. It is time it was done here. I wish to move now from the subject of the Department of Health lest I be accused of a paranoia about that Department.
I turn to the question of the VIP aircraft. I suppose T will need to be very careful in what I say. No doubt exists that, although we now accept the use of VIP aircraft, this form of transport is being abused, and perhaps to the greatest extent by none other than the Governor-General himself. Every time a request is made for the use of a VIP aircraft, the reason why that aircraft is needed should be given. So, I ask the Minister for Air (Senator DrakeBrockman): What are the 15 official reasons why the Governor-General had to travel to Perth in a VIP aircraft? If the GovernorGeneral abuses the use of these aircraft, his right to order a VIP aircraft should be taken from him and the right to grant the use of a VIP aircraft should remain with the Prime Minister and the Minister for Air. There is no doubt that this man has abused the system completely. No explanation has been given of the reasons for his abuse of VIP aircraft. That is all that I want to say about the matter at present. I have read the documents that have been tabled. What we should do is have the manifest setting out VIP aircraft usage tabled every month in the Senate, instead of every 6 months, so that we then can keep up with VIP aircraft usage and find out what is going on.
When one sees the whole entourage of the Governor-General being moved from Canberra to Sydney for a luncheon, a dinner or a cocktail party, one is moved to say that the situation is monstrous. If I may say so, it is an insult to the efficiency of the Public Service. Would it not be possible to maintain a staff at Admiralty
House which could be used also at Kirribilli House? The staff could be interchangeable.
– lt might be cheaper to use the VIP aircraft.
– It might.
– But the honourable senator would complain about the extravagance of 2 staffs.
– I do not know. There must be a staff at this place. Could not the needs of both residences be combined and met by this staff? It would be very rare for functions to be held at both places on the same day. But everywhere we look in these documents we see that the whole entourage, including the clogs and the cats, must go to Sydney or wherever else the Governor-General goes, and then they are returned to Canberra. This may be cheaper; I do not know. But surely there must be some simpler way of entertaining in Sydney than doing this.
I wish to raise another matter now concerning vice-royalty. Is it not time that we in Australia realised the need to remove ali our State Governors? Once upon a time there were colonies here. Apparently the States are living in the belief that they are still colonies. So, for purely snobbish purposes, we have a Governor in each State. I believe that the Governor-General should be appointed by the Queen. I do not believe it should be a political appointment.
– But you do not believe in giving the GovernorGeneral any privileges?
– Yes, 1 do. I did not say that. 1 said that he was abusing his privileges. There is no reason why he should not have the use of a VIP aircraft. I am all for it.
– You think he may be; you have no evidence that he has.
– There is a vast difference.
– The proof of the pudding will come when the reasons why the Governor-General travelled by VIP aircraft to Perth on 15 occasions are given to the Senate. What the honourable senator is saying is that he is an honest man and he did this properly. We will hear the answers eventually from the appropriate Minister.
– If he satisfies you. will you apologise?
– Yes, I certainly will. I have done that in this chamber before. If 1 am wrong I will apologise.
– Why should he apologise if he raises a question of this type?
– I am not taking away his privileges.
-s - Why should he apologise?
– Why should the-
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator DAVIDSON)- Order! Senator Georges, you are out of your place. You will cease interjecting across the Senate chamber.
– Because, of our associations with Great Britain. I believe that we should maintain the office of Governor-General. But 1 believe that the Governor-General should be appointed by the Queen and not by whoever is Prime Minister. The position of GovernorGeneral has been prostituted by the appointment of politicians to get rid of them. I do not mind politicians being appointed to the office but it is different when the appointment is made to get rid of a politician. That was the reason why the present Governor-General was put in that office. This shows again how we regard the office. It is just another vacant position to which we appoint someone we wish to get rid of. I return to the 6 State Governors. Looking at the State Governors that we have had, we see that very few of them were worth having. We have Sir Charles Gardner, who is an admirable man, Sir Mark Oliphant and Sir Roden Cutler in New South Wales.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Davidson) - Order! I trust that the honourable senator will not reflect on Her Majesty’s representatives. He is entitled to a free discussion, but I suggest that he should watch this line.
– I am reflecting not on Her Majesty’s representatives but on the people who appoint them. We now find, right throughout Australia, retired Navy or Army people occupying these positions because they do not know what else to do. Their pension is not enough for them so they ask for these jobs. Anyone who has been in government knows that they ask someone to submit their names and suggest that they would be useful in that position, but when they are appointed they pontificate. Suddenly they become governors and suddenly they know all - even more so than Ministers.
– The honourable senator is not reflecting on them?
– No, I am not reflecting on them; I am merely pointing out what is happening with them.
– Are you looking for such a position?
– No, I have not submitted my name for State governor.
– What about being a governor on Cocos Island?
– I could go there because that seems to be a pretty good spot.
– Have you submitted your name for a knighthood?
– What, with Willie? To be serious about the subject, it is time that we got rid of our State governors. I think it is essential that we do so. If the State governments will not do so the Commonwealth should deduct from its grants to the States the cost of maintaining their governors. Senator Negus is interjecting to introduce another matter which 1 do not propose to discuss.
I propose now to tackle the question of the Australian Broadcasting Commission. Here we have a commission set up by the present Government. Nearly all the commissioners are members of the Liberal Party or are supporters ot that Party. Because the Government cannot attack the Commission we find that it attacks some unknown, undefined group in the Commission. Iti this very chamber we have cries from all sides: You can’t take it.’ We hear that all the time. Whenever someone makes a point the other side chips back with *You can’t take it.’ I say to the Government: ‘You can’t take it.’ I know that it appears that the ABC is biased. It may appear that way because it offers so many criticisms that we could all make of the
Government. The Government is always more vulnerable than the Opposition in regard to criticism; that is just the way it is. It is the Government and it must accept criticism.
– Anyhow, most people think that the ABC is biased.
– J would probably agree that, if anything, there is a bias to the left.
– Where? You cannot justify that. You cannot say that.
– I am saying it. I am an Independent and 1 am prepared to say exactly what I want to say. The point is that when the ABC criticises any Government supporter we hear cries that it is unfair and that it is biased. If 1 had to be interviewed on television and the interviewer were biased I hope I would have enough brains to pull him down. But Government supporters are so stupid - the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) especially. He cannot face up to any interview because he knows he just cannot cope with it.
– That is not what David Frost said.
– David Frost showed him up as a lovely old granddaddy and that is how he came over on television. I think David Frost did a remarkable job to get that impression of him, but politically it did not inspire anyone to believe that he was a Prime Minister or of Prime Minister material.
– Have you ever been interviewed on television?
– Yes, I have.
– How did you come off?
– Very well. If people attack a person and he has any intelligence or IQ, or if he believes that there is bias, he should attack them. This can be done on television and that is what Government supporters should do. Instead, all they do is get up and cry: ‘You can’t take it.’ It is sickening for the 3 Independents in this chamber to hear this cry from all sides. All parties do it.
– Not us.
– Yes, you all do it. When somebody scores a point there is always the cry. ‘You can’t take it.’ Sometimes I have noted and commented that the person who says: ‘You can’t take it’ is the one least able to take it. So I say to the Government: ‘Do not try to alter the ABC. If you do so you will have facism in this country. That is what it will amount to.’ If there is any thought of the ABC being biased it is up to the Commission to do something about it. It is not a matter for Ministers who are trying to have their images refurbished so that they will appear better and win a few votes.
I end my speech on the Budget by saying, as I said before, that it does not matter what happens in the Budget, it does not matter one iota what has been given to everyone, what bonuses have been issued or anything else. These things do not matter in the least unless there is increased productivity. But there is nothing in the Budget to suggest any means of achieving increased productivity. If the Government really wants to improve the situation, as I said in respect of the semantic document which has just been handed out, it should raise the working hours for everyone to 40 hours a week.
Senator Dame NANCY BUTTFIELD (South Australia) (5.35) - I have a mixture of emotions after hearing Senator Turnbull. He has said that we on each side of the chamber cannot take it. He can certainly dish it out. He amuses us. It is very nice to hear him speak because he is entertaining, but he is always entertaining at someone else’s expense. The whole of his speech that I have heard this evening has been a denigration of, first, the Department of Health, then the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) and then one thing after another. His remarks do not leave me with much of a positive nature on which to comment.
– He even criticised the Governor-General.
Yes, and I thought that was rather disgraceful - especially the suggestion that he was pushed out of politics. Even if that were true, he has made a jolly good job of being Governor-General. Certainly I do not begrudge him the small privilege of being allowed to have a special aircraft to fly him somewhere. He is away from his home and has a lonely existence. I, for one, would be thoroughly in favour of his having that privilege without interference from this Parliament.
It is common knowledge that the Senate Standing Committee on Health and Welfare has for the last 2 years been diligent in examining both particular and general aspects of social welfare in Australia. This is not the time to discuss the operations of the Committee, but I want to refer to one common thread in the Committee’s work which is relevant to the debate on the 1972-73 Budget. I refer to the nature and extent of human, needs and the way in which this Budget shows that the Government has been and is aware of human needs and has introduced courageous and compassionate proposals for meeting some of those needs. Behavioural scientists often remind us that human needs fall basically into 2 main groups. On the one hand there are needs of a physical kind;’ on the other there are needs of a non-physical or psychological kind. The former include the needs of people of all ages and types - old and young, weak and strong, urbanised and nomadic - for food, clothing, housing and relief from disease, pain and the crippling and disabling effects pf physical handicaps. The latter broad group of needs - ‘those roughly termed psychological - concern the things of minds - peace, happiness, self-expression, knowledge and satisfying human relationships.
The first call on any modern government is to adopt policies and programmes which meet the physical and psychological needs of its citizens. It is never possible to know all human needs; neither is it possible for any government to meet every known need; but a Government which shows its awareness of human needs and its determination to do its utmost to meet those needs is a government which is up to dale in its strategies and which has the best interests of the country at heart. This Budget manifests that type of awareness and thinking and makes provision for both the physical and psychological needs of Australians. In particular it is a Budget which, as the Treasurer, the right honourable Billy Snedden said when he introduced it, is geared to the social goals. of families. I intend to expand on those aspects of this Budget which have relevance to human needs and especially to the social goals of families - Budget aspects which clearly demonstrate that this Government is aware of its responsibilities and is best fitted to lead the country in the 1970s.
Amongst the innovations in this Budget are 2 proposals which are particularly related to breadwinners in the family. They concern employment and, as such, are related to both physical and psycho.ogical needs - the need for the material support which flows from regular and satisfactory earning levels and the need for psychological support which flows from the sense of wellbeing and confidence which comes from doing a worthwhile task in the best possible environment. Much has been said in recent times about the effects of modern scientific and technological developments on the workforce. Australia has had a significant pattern of social mobility from the earliest days of its history, but this workforce movement has been accelerated in recent times by the rural-urban migration and also by the necessity to learn new skills. There is an inevitability about automation, for instance, which means that all workers, including those traditionally distinguished by blue or white collars, must accept change and adjust to it. Because of change there is a need for improvement in the types and quality of industrial training and in the movement of workers from one place to another as required by employment needs.
The Budget introduces a cash subsidy scheme to promote the modern and efficient training of apprentices. It also extends training assistance to persons made redundant by technological change. In putting forward this proposal for industrial training promotion the Government has been quite realistic in recognising that there are some individuals in the 1.77 per cent of the work force who are unemployed who have had a history of such unemployment quite apart from exceptional circumstances. The needs of these individuals are for skills which can find employment in industry. These new industrial training provisions make provision for such people. Special circumstances also pertain to the employment of Aborigines, and the Government proposes to meet this special need by increasing the level of subsidy to those employers who participate in a work training scheme for Aborigines.
No plans for the expansion of industrial training can meet with success unless there are sufficient training specialists. This need also has been recognised by the Government in its plans to encourage the employment and training of such people. For some time past the Government of Sweden has had a scheme to provide fares and resettlement allowances for workers who must seek employment and re-establish themselves in new areas because of the changes in demand for their services. The Australian Government has not yet reached the comprehensive programme developed in Sweden, but this Budget makes a decided advance in that direction. With the co-operation of the State governments it envisages the development of a viable scheme of employment settlement with responsibility for the cost of fares representing a claim on the public purse.
The Government’s policies towards housing in this Budget indicate a clear appreciation of the needs and desires of all age groups for satisfactory housing as their chief need. The proposals for an increase in grants under the Home Savings Grant Act from $500 to $750 and the raising of the maximum value of a home which may attract a grant from $17,500 to $22,500 both reflect a realistic appraisal of housing costs and the needs of young families in particular. It is worth noting that Australia has one of the highest rates of home ownership as well as one of the highest rates of housing construction in the world. About 70.8 per cent of dwellings are owner-occupied - a figure which rose by 15 per cent between 1947 and 1966 census. This rate of increase is entirely due to this Government’s Commonwealth-State Housing Agreements. Under the Housing Agreements, which operated for 15 years to 30th June 1971, the Commonwealth made substantial long term loans totalling more than $ 1,509m to the States for the provision of housing.
– Are home units included?
– I think that more recently they have been included, particularly since strata titles became available. These loans were repayable to the Commonwealth over a period of 53 years and attracted interest at a concessional rate of 1 per cent below the long term Commonwealth bond rate applying at the time each advance was made. Each State was required to provide the advances it received each financial year into 2 parts. One part was for the erection of dwellings by the State housing authority and the other part, not less than 30 per cent of the advances, was for the provision of loans to persons wishing to buy or build a home privately through building societies and certain other approved institutions. Each State maintains a Home Builders Account for this purpose. Of the $ 1,509m advanced to the States over the 15 years to 30th June 1971, $ 1,024m was allocated to the State housing authorities, which up to 30th June 1971 built with these moneys some 145,000 dwellings for rental or sale to families and other persons of low or moderate means. The remaining $485m was channelled through the Home Builders Accounts in which additional moneys amounting to approximately $147m became available for lending due to the revolving nature of the accounts. The purchase or construction of some 91,000 homes was financed for Home Builders Account moneys up to 30th June 1971.
Sitting suspended from 5.45 to 8 p.m.
– Mr President, prior to the suspension of the sitting I had been developing the fact that the Government, in presenting this Budget, has met so many of the human needs of the Australian community. I had been talking in particular about the overriding need of housing for our people. I had mentioned also the number of houses which had been built and the amount of money which had been granted by the Commonwealth Government to the States for both State housing projects and the home builders fund which makes money available through building societies and which has worked magnificently in that 145,000 dwellings have been built in the
States sphere and 91,000 have been built through building societies. The important thing to be realised is how much is due to the assistance given to building societies through the home builders fund, and the degree to which building societies have grown in Australia in the last few years.
When one looks at the figures it is significant that in 1969-70 the savings banks were the greater lenders for housing, in that year lending money for about 61,000 homes to a value of $46 lm whereas the permanent building societies loaned money for just on 34,000 homes to a value of $36Sm. However, when one studies the figures for last year one finds that the situation has been reversed. The savings banks loaned money for 73,000 homes - 12,000 more than they did 3 years before - to a value of $656m, whereas the permanent building societies loaned money for about 52,000 homes, which was an increase of 20,000 homes, to a value of $666m. Building societies are now doing more lending than are the savings banks. The outstanding feature of this is the way that this rapid growth of permanent building societies has come about. It is a most admirable movement which should be encouraged. 1 am pleased to know that the Government, under the new CommonwealthState Housing Agreement, ‘ is to make 30 per cent of the allocation for housing available to building societies and other approved lending institutions.
Another housing grant for people in need is the rental assistance grant of $1.25m a year for each of the 5 years from 1971-72 to 1975-76. This is a general Commonwealth contribution towards the cost to State housing authorities of charging reduced rents to families that they consider need this assistance. This certainly is an area of need which has been mci to a large extent.
This Government’s immigration,, policies and programmes have been of great, assistance in the building of houses. Indeed, immigration has assisted Australia’s development in many ways. Australia’s broad immigration policy has been supported by all political parties in Australia. Between October 1945 and June 1971 the total number of permanent and long term arrivals was 3,630,000. Of these, 1,700,000, or almost half, received some financial assistance from the Australian Government towards the cost of passage. It would be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to assess the migrant contribution to the gross national product. One guess is that it has been more than $70,000m over the past 20 years. No migrant programme of the magnitude of Australia’s could hope to’ flow without some problems. These problems have included the much greater distances involved m travel to and within Australia by comparison with Europe. Such distances have heightened feelings of loneliness and separation - feelings which can be more acute, particularly for wives and mothers, when ignorance of the English language prevents communication with neighbours, school teachers, shop assistants and others with whom discussions often could result in more efficient and happier family life. But it also adds strains on parental relationships by reversing normal patterns, and makes mothers dependent upon their children for interpretation, explanation and communication.
In this respect the Budget’s immigration proposals take note of the extent to which migrant supported population growth serves some of the country’s physical needs. They also pay attention to the psychological and spiritual needs of those newcomers to our country who are contributing to its growth and progress. An amount of $3.2m is to be appropriated specifically for migrant counselling and selection, and for English language training and migrant welfare services. This expansion of support measures for migrant families should do much to break communication barriers and to help new Australians adjust to aa environment which cannot but be alien to them at first but which can offer them exceptional opportunities for security, prosperity and happiness. Whilst congratulating the Government for its humane approach to the personal needs of migrant families, I would like to refer to the way in which our migration policies go so far towards meeting so many of the basic needs of the entire nation.
As was made plain in the Budget, the steady growth of Australia’s population continues to be a major goal of economic policy. The need for economic development and growth as a nation during the past quarter century has been met very much by our success in attracting migrants. Since 1950 Australia’s population has increased from 8 million to 13 million. More than half this increase in our population has resulted from migration and the Australian born children of migrants. The need to increase the work force - it has increased from 3.4 million to 5.6 million - has been met by migrants, over half this increase being attributable to migrant workers. We need to keep a youthful population. As a great Australian economist, Sir Douglas Copland, pointed out, immigration has resulted in a ‘younging’ of our population. The reason for this is that the average age of settlers arriving here is appreciably less than the average age of the Australian population. The average age of migrants when they arrive is 24.5 years compared with 31.4 years for the overall Australian population. Immigration has helped to provide both impetus and means for the continued sound growth of the Australian economy in the face of widely varying and often adverse events in the world markets so important to us.
Migrants have played a major role in servicing key industries. The latest census figures available show that more than onehalf of the men engaged on electric power works and transmission lines are migrants; that one-third of the men engaged on water supply and sewerage are migrants, and that from one-third to one-half of those engaged in building and building materials industries are migrants. Many other similarly impressive examples could be cited. Migrants have strongly reinforced our educational facilities, particularly at tertiary levels. One third of the university staff is migrants. It is a further measure of the contributions of migrants to little publicised but vital areas of our national activity that almost one half of the members of the Australian Academy of Science were born overseas. There are other fields where migrants have helped significantly. For example, they have added proportionately more to the work* force which finances our social services than they have added to the population supported by these social services. In addition, the majority has received all or most of its educational and vocational training overseas. This has meant a significant saving to Australia. At the same time it has enabled migrants to make an immediate and positive contribution to the national economy.
It is in the knowledge of this that the Government has again emphasised its intention to continue the active migration policies which have served us so well. The immigration programme for 1972-73 takes full account both of our immediate needs and our longer term national interests. It is in harmony with the realities of the present situation. We can be confident that, as in the past, the flow of migrant worker arrivals will be related, in numbers and types, to the changing patterns of our labour needs. At the same time this programme will ensure the continued viability of our migration activities in migrant source countries important to us. It will therefore mean that, as and when the need arises. further migrants from these countries will be forthcoming for Australia, which is very important as so much iri the field of migrant availability depends on goodwill and trust between governments, countries and people. The decisions for the current financial year have been taken within the framework of a far reaching series of measures by the Government.
So often we hear - particularly from Opposition senators - of the need to plan ahead in the field of migration. We have evidence of the Government’s policy with regard to such planning. Australia is one of the few countries in the world to have commissioned far reaching population studies on which its future policies as a nation can be based. At no time during the past quarter of a century has immigration been regarded as an end in itself. It has always been recognised to be an essential instrument of broader policies. Initially these policies were expressed in terms of a desirable population growth rate of 2 per cent per annum. To achieve this overall rate of growth an immigration target of one per cent was set. It was never a rigid commitment but, in fact, our overall population growth rate has been around this level for most of the time. We have reached the stage where Australia has a range of population options now open to it. Because of this, a re-examination of our objectives is both feasible and timely.
The population studies foreshadowed by the then Minister for Immigration in July 1970 are now well under way. They are on such a scale as to require a 3-year programme of research spread over the years 1971 to 1973. The terms of reference for this research take into account not only desirable population levels at different points between now and the end of the century but also the desirable patterns of distribution of those population levels. Both economic and non-economic considerations - for example, environmental factors and resource utilisation - are being studied. The situation in countries with which Australia has particularly close associations by reason of migration, trade, political affairs or geographical juxtaposition are other factors which are being taken into account. The Government has also commissioned a cost-benefit analysis of immigration under current Australian conditions. This, too, is in progress. A major study into the actual experiences of migrants in Australia is being developed by the Department of Immigration in conjunction with the Bureau of Census and Statistics.
In other fields of migration, significant studies and investigations are also in progress. In the Immigration Advisory Council, for example, we are deeply involved in work relating to migrant integration. The Council has 3 standing committees, namely, the Committee on Social Patterns under the chairmanship of Professor George Zubrzycki, the Committee on Migrant Education under the chairmanship of Dr Sam Richardson, and the Committee on Citizenship under the chairmanship of Mr George Hastie. The work of the Advisory Council and its committees has provided much of the information on which the Government has based its immigration policies and programmes. Directly and indirectly, the Government has sponsored and initiated a considerable breadth of research into all aspects of immigration and population policies. For example, the Department of immigration, in addition to undertaking its own research has subsidised studies of the Australian Council of Educational Research and the Academy of Social Sciences in Australia. This has been done in clear recognition of the need to look far beyond the present to the Australia of the future. Yet in doing so the Government has not ignored the exigent present. Australia’s immigration programme for 1972- 73 is, therefore, in harmony both with our present needs and our future aspirations.
The Government recognises the prime importance to migrants of the need for suitable housing and accommodation on arrival. In 1967 a broad plan to improve the standard of transitory accommodation for migrants was introduced. The Commonwealth’s objective has been to make available flats that are broadly comparable in standard and rental with flats being provided to the community at large by State housing authorities. Since most families do not have their own personal household effects with them on arrival not only are the flats fully furnished but also all necessary household equipment, including linen and cutlery, is provided. The rent charged includes an element to cover the furniture and equipment. Flats are dispersed throughout the community. Their locations are chosen carefully for convenient access to shops, schools and transport services and to provide reasonable proximity to centres of employment. It is significant to point out that since the introduction of this scheme in 1967 a total of 2,453 units have been built and 10,494 persons from 33 nations have been housed in them. The average stay in these flats is 19 weeks.
I cannot leave the Budget without some recognition of the Government’s splendid record in moving ever forward towards meeting the needs of those dependent on social welfare. Basic pension rates have been raised, special provisions have been made for the ailing aged and still more steps have been taken to eliminate the means test within 3 years. The Government has been mindful of the obligations of society to the aged and it has encouraged and subsidised those institutions and organisations which have undertaken programmes of assistance for the aged. My own State of South Australia, under the Playford Government, was a pioneer in assessing the need for aged persons homes and in making those needs known to the Commonwealth Government. Some bold experiments in providing homes for the aged in South Australia have attracted attention from welfare workers at home and overseas. Since 1954 the Commonwealth Government has provided gen erous assistance towards the provision of homes for aged persons. More recently it has taken steps to improve both nursing home and domiciliary facilities for the frail aged. Proposals in the 1972-73 Budget anticipate further new integrated measures for chronically ill patients in nursing homes and the assistance of aged infirm people who can be looked after in a home environment. This, to my mind, is the most important step forward in the entire field of social welfare. No amount of money or beds can replace the need of aged people to be loved and wanted within the family circle. The provision of $14 a week to families which maintain their senior members in the home is indeed praiseworthy and should provide added incentive to family responsibility. In passing I wish also to praise the Government for having raised the $2 a week special supplementary assistance for rental to single pensioners to $4 a week and extending it to married people.
Before completing my speech 1 wish to make reference to a question that I asked of the ‘: Attorney-General (Senator Greenwood) today about the need for British justice to be available to every Australian citizen regardless of social or economic status or age. He indicated to me that the legislation which has been passed by this Parliament endeavours to minimise the necessity for legal opinion to make it clear. That was not my main reason for asking the question. So often people are called upon to protect their innocence or their legal rights and the cost of obtaining legal opinion and representation in the courts is quite beyond the means of so many people. It is for that reason that I make the suggestion that perhaps some sort of insurance scheme would make it possible for people to feel that British justice is within their reach.
There are many other areas of need which have been given generous attention in the Budget that will both stimulate the economy, inculcate confidence and reduce disparities and differences in the community. These ‘other areas’ include much better personal income tax concessions and rate reductions, easing of estate and gift duties, sizable grants for a wide range of education services and provisions for non-profit , child care centres, about which I offer a ‘ warning to plan and administer well and with great care and wisdom for grave dangers lie therein. The 70 per cent increase in aggregate expenditure on Aboriginal advancement, forms of assistance to road safety, tourist attractions and generous grants to many organisations serving the Australian community all add up to a determined attempt to Use available Australian resources to meet human needs in ways and means consistent with the times in which we live and consistent with the broad national approach of my Party, the invincible Liberal Party of Australia.
– Well read.
– I must draw the attention of honourable senators to sending order 406. There must be no reading of speeches. I am sure that Senator Dame Nancy Buttfield was not reading her speech.
– The first thing that 1 want to do this evening in relation to the Budget is once again to draw the attention of the Senate to the amendments moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) in another place and by my colleague. Senator Wriedt, in the Senate chamber. Just to refresh the memory of honourable senators who are present, I want to read the amendment moved by Senator Wriedt: 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 capital cities and regional centres.
In my contribution to the Budget debate tonight I will endeavour not to offend the standing order to which you have drawn attention, Mr President. I have been pulled up on several occasions and I have been accused of offending that standing order.
– I did it once and the honourable senator has never offended since then.
– In referring to the amendment which our Party has moved in relation to the Budget, I want to draw the attention of the Senate to the first few lines of the Budget Speech and the impact that this amendment has had on the Gov ernment. We know full well that this amendment will not be carried. But we are very happy that at least by moving it we have drawn some action from the Government. We feel that, when the Leader of the Parliamentary Labor Party moved his amendment on 22nd August, particularly in regard to the Government’s failure to define adequate economic and social goals for Australia, we forced the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) to make a statement on 29th August telling the people of Australia that he was going to set up an inquiry, under the auspices of Professor Henderson, into poverty in Australia. The ALP can claim that it has achieved results there even if the amendment is not carried. We hope that when this poverty inquiry is carried out it will deal with all aspects of the poverty which faces at least one million people in Australia today. Those were the words used by Professor Henderson when he conducted a private inquiry into poverty.
I was very disturbed tonight when I picked up a copy of the ‘Melbourne Herald’ to see a photograph of a young child. I have never seen a worse photograph come out of the Belsen camp. We are told that we live in a country which is under good government and is a land of plenty. I think that it is a discredit to the Government of this country when we can pick up a newspaper printed in the second biggest capital city in Australia and see photographs of a child with his backbone and ribs sticking out. We must realise that we have had a federal Liberal Government for 23 years and a Liberal Government in Victoria, where this is taking place, for longer than most of us in the ALP care to remember. I certainly hope that when this inquiry is conducted some action will be taken to see that things like this do not happen. I think that it is a blot on the people of Australia and the 2 governments concerned that things like this should take place.
In speaking to the Budget, Government members have made great play on what a wonderful Budget it is. Also, they have made play on the fact that members of the ALP have not criticised it. We have criticised it in very many ways. I want to draw the attention of the Senate now to the opening remarks of the Treasurer (Mr
Snedden) when he brought down the 197 1- 72 Budget. Dealing with the economy, he said this:
Even more than usually the Government has this year found it necessary to shape its Budget to serve an overriding economic purpose. Australia is in the grip of inflationary pressures. The rate of increase in costs and prices is already fast and has tended to become faster. This is a serious condition. If allowed to develop unchecked it will cause increasing economic and social hardship to many people, add to the burdens of rural industries already depressed, disrupt developmental plans of great promise and undermine the rich possibilities of growth which our future unquestionably holds. So far as lies in our power as a government wc are determined to combat this pernicious trend, slow it down and hobble it.
What have been the results of that Budget which was brought down in August of last year by the same Treasurer who brought down the Budget in August of this year? The only people that he has hobbled have been the workforce of Australia. We have now over 100.000 registered unemployed - I think that the figure is 112,000 - in this great country of Australia. The Government certainly achieved what it set out to do - to create this great pool of unemployment. It reminds me of when I was a lad-
– In what State are the unemployed?
– The honourable senator might like to say, as he has said previously, that it is Western Australia and South Australia. But I want to point out to him that in South Australia when there is a recession-
– Under a Labor Government.
– The honourable senator says: ‘Under a Labor Government’. But I want to point out to Senator Sim that in South Australia we have a manufacturing industry manufacturing consumer durables which depends on markets in other States. When there is a recession in other States and people are out of work and have not a dollar in their pockets to buy those commodities which we manufacture, we suffer in South Australia. I am reminded, particularly in this year, of a situation which existed when I left school and came on to a depressed labour market. We were in the throes of a depression. I heard the then Mr Robert Menzies say with great gusto that the greatest foreman any employer could get was a line of men waiting at the gate for another man’s job. He implied that you did not need a foreman when you had other men waiting for a job. This is one of the reasons why this pool of unemployment was created. I have heard interjections from members of the Australian Democratic Labor Party about strikes. Of course, one way of combating strikes is to have a lot of people waiting at the gate for another man’s job.
I think that there is a far more democratic way of combating strikes than by doing that. Of course, I refer to conciliation and artibration and sitting around in discussion. That is one thing that this Government does not want to do. This was proved when the oil industry strike took place some weeks ago. The Prime Minister and the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Lynch) advised the oil companies not to sit down in conciliation with the unions. What are the reasons for the reduced taxes and increased pensions about which Government supporters have made such a big song and dance? We have only to look back-
– Are you against this?
– I am not against it. But I will point out to the honourable senator why it came about. We have only to go back to that previous Budget which I have just mentioned. We found in August 1971 that the locks were put on the cupboard. It was closed in order to store up something so that when the Budget came along in this election year - of course, this is good politics but it does not keep people in work and it did not keep pensioners with food in their larders - the Government was able to take off the locks with this Budget and come up with something which it hoped would appeal to the electors at large. That promise was good politics. The Prime Minister said that he could not believe the public opinion polls which have been published, but they show that his popularity and the Government’s popularity have increased by the tune of only 1 per cent.
– It has not gone backwards.
– We will see about that when the election results are known.
– The popularity of the ALP has fallen.
– It may have fallen. We are not criticising that poll. At least we did not introduce a budget in the hope that our popularity would increase by 10 per cent. The Government’s popularity has increased by only 1 per cent. This slight increase is causing a lot of heartburning, particularly among Government members now that they have had a week back in their electorates and have ascertained how the people whom they are supposed to represent feel.I have been criticised for making the remarks that I have made as though they were mine.
– Are they?
– They are not. I heard one of the leading aspirants for Cabinet rank if the Government is returned at the next election–
– To whom is the honourable senator referring?
– Senator Carrick. It is no secret. He used the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ as his Bible. I did not criticise him for using that paper. I quote now from the Melbourne ‘Age’ of 16th August, the day after Mr Snedden introduced the Budget. Allan Barnes, the chief political correspondent of the ‘Age’ in Canberra, a man who has his finger right on the pulse, in an article stated:
In political terms the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) has gone for a king hit in his 1972 Budget.
With an election probably hingeing on public reaction to the document which the Treasurer (Mr Snedden) delivered last night, the Government has placed all its eggs in two baskets: income taxes and pensions.
That is what I mentioned a while ago. The article continued:
I suspect Mr McMahon will try to capitalise on the impact of his ‘king hit’ and test the reaction at the polls by the end of October.
Members of the Labor Party are anxiously waiting for him to go to the polls. We would like to go to the polls at the end of October. The Prime Minister has said that only 3 people know when the poll will be. He identified 2 of those people, but he did not tell us who the other person was. We are well aware that, to use his own words, he will resort to prayer to see that this Government is re-elected. In the ‘Australian’ of 5th September there was an article by
Alan Ramsey on politics. His article was in much the same vein as Mr Barnes’s article. Mr Ramsey’s article stated:
What’s the value of a politician’s word in an election year? Consider the means test.
Those of us who are old enough to remember know that in 1949 Mr Menzies came out with a wonderful prophecy. He said that he would abolish abolish the means test.
– When was that?
– That was in 1949. That was in his policy speech. The honourable senator can read that in the library. We have waited since 1949. There was no further mention of the abolition of the means test until Mr Whitlam mentioned it in his policy speech in 1969.
– What year was that?
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Byrne) - Order!
-I do not mind the interjections.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT - It is a question of whether the Chair minds them.
– Do not try to protect me. I am not worried about them. Mr Menzies made that promise in 1949. As yet we have not seen it carried out. About 8 weeks ago there was an argument among members of the Government parties about the abolition of the means test. The Treasurer said that it could not be done. But when he introduced his Budget he said that he would do it within 3 years. Why did he change his mind? Because it is election year. While making mention of the abolition of the means test in his Budget he made no provision to abolish it.
– Is the honourable senator against the abolition of the means test?
– I am not. That is our policy.
– What is the honourable senator complaining about?
– I am not complaining. I am asking whether this promise is another gimmick similar to the one in 1949. When in our policy speech in 1969 we mentioned abolition of the means test the cry was, as Senator Gair said a minute ago: Where is the money coming from?’ Where is it coming from now? When we made the promise in 1969 the present Minister for Social Services (Mr Wentworth) made the statement that it would cost $400m to abolish the means test and that for every $1 by which the pension was increased the cost of abolition of the means test would rise by $1 per pensioner. Now he has costed it at $200m. Tn the meantime the pension has risen $3.75. What a wonderful effort. There is a conflict of figures by the Minister for Social Services in 3 years. It is good politics, but will the electors swallow it.
– Stop complaining.
– I am not complaining. If the Government is returned to office-
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Byrne) - Order! Senator McLaren, would you kindly address the Chair? I know that the interjection invited direct response, but kindly address the Chair.
– If the Government is returned to office I hope the promise is put into effect because if we are elected it will be put into effect.
– It’s time.
– That is right. It’s time. Since the Budget we have heard a lot about what is in the Budget that will help people, but we have not heard much about what is not in the Budget. I am surprised that not one of the South Australian senators who has spoken in the debate so far has mentioned the imposition of the wine excise. We know that in 1970 the Government saw fit to impose an excise. It has been said that the excise was imposed because of pressure from the breweries which had to pay an excise while the wine industry was getting off scot free. It was said that the Government should impose a levy on the wine industry and pull it into line with the breweries. There was an imposition of 50c a gallon on wine. The Labor Party opposed the principle. It has voted against the principle on each occasion that it has had the chance, but the imposition is still there. Due to pressure from grape growers, particularly in South Australia, where they held large meetings and where the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Sinclair) addressed them, and particularly pressure in the other place from people such as Mr Grassby, the honourable member for Riverina, and Mr
Foster, the honourable member for Sturt, the Government in its mini Budget early this year gave the wine industry a wonderful lift by knocking off 25c of the wine excise - that is, 50 per cent of the wine excise. When the wine excise was imposed the Government expected it to return to the Treasury over $12m, but because of the vast drop in wine sales due to the imposition of the wine excise the income to the Treasury was a little over $9m. When the Government decreased the excise by 50 per cent, the income dropped to a little over $4. 5m. The Government made no effort lo ensure that the price of wine in restaurants, hotels and retail outlets was reduced, with the result that the reduction was not passed on. Consumers paid the same price or a little more than the price applicable when the excise was at its highest level. The $4.5m is a very minute amount.
– Would the honourable senator mind retracing his steps on that wine analysis because 6 months ago Senator Withers ridiculed what I said on this matter?
– T do not doubt that he ridiculed what the honourable senator said. If one peruses the records of the Parliament one can see who supported the imposition of the wine excise, who opposed it and who voted against it. It is said that the numbers count, but people can read who supported it and who opposed it. The amount now being derived from the imposition of the wine excise is a little over $4. 5m. When the Treasurer introduced his Budget he boasted about a Budget of over $ 1 ,000m. Why did he not abolish the wine tax in the Budget and give some relief to wine growers, particularly those growers in the Mumimbidgee Irrigation Area and in the up river districts of South Australia? They should be given some benefit.
– What about the consumer getting the benefit of the reduction?
– I pointed out to the Senate that the Government made no effort to ensure that the reduction was passed on to the consumers. It made no effort at all. It was good enough to put it on.
– The honourable senator just said that.
– I did not say that at all. Many people in the upper river area have come to me and said: ‘What is the
Government saving this other 50 per cent of the wine excise for? Is it being saved to be used as another election gimmick so that the Government can come along, like Santa Claus, in the policy speech and say: “Yes, we are going to abolish the wine tax”?’ The wine grape growers will be like the pensioners. They are not going to swallow that bait because there is not enough chocolate on it.
– What is the price of eggs? Are they going up or down?
– Senator Gair has just mentioned the price of eggs. It is very good of him to mention that because I was just about to remark on the price of eggs and the poultry industry. I am an ex-poultry farmer and proud of it although Senator Gair and other honourable senators of the Australian Democratic Labor Party and some of the honourable senators on the Government side, each time I rise in this chamber and mention the poultry industry, like to make fun and games and ridicule what I have to say. But they do not fool the poultry farmers who are going broke right, left and centre. They can go back and talk to these people about the problems they are facing in going off their farms. If the Democratic Labor Party wants to make jokes about the way these people are suffering let it go out and talk to poultry farmers and they will hear a different story.
In this Budget the Government has come forward with a magnificent sum of $750,000 to help the poultry industry. The industry produces 209 million dozen eggs a year with a surplus for export of 50 million dozen. If one divides that $750,000 by the surplus for export, the result is 1.5c a dozen. If one takes this over the whole spread of production in Australia one gets down to3/8c a dozen. What in the name of goodness is that worth to the poultry industry? Of course this Government has done something now which it should have done 6 years ago. It should have held this bait out to Victoria which has been holding up controlled production legislation. The people in the industry would have had some equity in their poultry farms. We in the industry have battled for years to get the Victorian Government to agree. All the other States have agreed.I give credits to the then Liberal Government of Western
Australia which legislated for control of production. The next State which followed in line was the New South Wales Government, also a Liberal Government. I give the other States credit for this. But what about the Victorian Government? I do not give it any credit for the way it has held up the industry. The Federal Government should have come to the party and held out the same bait as it is holding out now. It is a once and for all grant with the proviso that the States accept control of production. But the States have not done this. They have fought one another tooth and nail.
– There would have been enough bad eggs for the election campaign.
– Senator Little’s supporters might throw bad eggs at Australian Labor Party meetings. But the Labor Party does not do that at his meetings. The poultry industry is not very happy. In the ‘Australian’ of 9th September an article was headed:
Leaders ‘insulted’ by policies. The article stated:
The Federal Government was accused of insulting behaviour by Mr L. Libreri, of Bonnyrig, near Sydney, who is president of the Associated Poultry Farmers of Australia. ‘The offer by the Federal Government of $750,000 to subsidise the industry is an insult to egg producers,’ Mr Libreri said. “Producers should unite more and demand that justice be done.’
AsI have pointed out, all that the subsidy amounts to - it is a once and for all grant - if it is spread over the whole egg production in Australia is3/8c a dozen. We know that it costs in the vicinity of 32c to produce a dozen eggs. Today the net return to producers is about one-tenth of a cent below 28c. So eggs are being produced at a shade over 4c a dozen below the cost of production and yet the Government comes along and offers3/8c.
– Can you tell us what a Labor Government would do?
– Had the Labor Party been in Government it would have seen this position arising. It would have stopped the big overseas combines taking over the egg industry of this country. We would have brought in controlled production. We would have safeguarded our local producers which is something this Government has not done.
– How are you going to get your price out of it?
– The price of eggs today is lower than it was IS years ago, so that is all that Senator Withers knows about the poultry industry.
– Are you going to make the housewives pay more?
– The housewives will not have to pay more because the biggest cost being incurred by egg boards in Australia today is the storage cost of surplus production. We have to unload eggs on the overseas markets and the poultry industry gets the net return. I am not a poultry farmer now because I believe in the principle of one man, one job. When I was elected to the Senate 1 closed up my poultry farm and now I have it sitting idle. I do not believe in 2 jobs. I am being paid to do this job. I am not like a lot of honourable senators on the Government side who have to have 2 jobs.
– And not only on the Government side.
– Possibly on Senator Little’s side too. It is always very nice in this Senate when 1 talk about eggs to hear the cackles coming. It reminds me of when I was a poultry farmer and I feel quite at home. The only thing is that the people making the cackles do not have as much common sense as the good old fowls. I shall refer to a speech which was made by an honourable senator from South Australia.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Byrne) - Order! There is altogether too much cross-fire across the chamber. I ask honourable senators to observe the Standing Orders.
– Thank you, Mr Acting Deputy President. If I was being a bit provocative I could understand the interjections but tonight I am only telling the Senate the facts of life which are facing people in the poultry industry. I am sure that when I send Hansard to the poultry organisations and they read the comments which have been made by certain honourable senators a different vote might be cast in those poultry producing areas, particularly in New South Wales where people are suffering most. I refer to the opening remarks made by Senator Jessop when he addressed the Senate on 24th August. He stated:
It is because the Budget has effectively plucked the tail feathers from Senator McLaren, Senator Keeffe . . .
Honourable senators on the Government side think they have plucked the tail feathers.
– Who said that?
– The honourable senator can read Hansard and he will see. Senator Jessop, who followed my colleague from Queensland, Senator Keeffe, went on to say:
The honourable senator has made casual reference to defence, but of course the Labor Party is not interested in defence.
What a rash statement that was.
– Your speaker’s notes do not even refer to defence.
– Senator Hannan, I am talking about what Senator Jessop said. You should go outside from where you have just come.
– You would defend the country with feathers.
– Senator Webster has said that the Labor Party would defend the country with feathers. For the information of Senator Webster I point out that the Labor Party was in office during the last World War. No-one can criticise the way this country was run and the war effort which was carried out by a Labor Government under John Curtin. Senator Jessop criticised Senator Keeffe and he said he was not interested in defence. I point out that Senator Keeffe enlisted in the Services in 1939 and he was discharged with the rank of sergeant in 1945. That is a far better effort than Senator Jessop has made. I well remember that at the height of the Vietnam war in 1969 Senator Jessop and a couple of his colleagues in the other place lost their seats at the election because of their policy on defence. Not one of them went to Vietnam when they lost their seats. They might have been able to use the argument that when they were in Parliament they could not go but they could not use that argument when they lost their seats. I commend Senator Keeffe for what he did. He cannot be criticised by Senator Jessop for the actions of the Labor
Party during a world conflict or for his own actions, because he served his country with distinction. When honourable senators opposite have done the same they will be able to get up-
– Tell Barry Johnston about that.
– Senator McManus says that I can tell Barry Johnston about that, but if I wanted to get personal I could refer to other people who have had no war service and are in the same position as Barry Johnston.
– Fair enough.
– That is fair enough. Be careful or I might name you, Senator McManus. Now I want to refer to the amount which has been provided in the Budget for the sealing of the Eyre Highway. Senator Jessop said the Government was charitable in providing some money for the Eyre Highway. How many representations have been made to this Federal Government over the years, going back as far as 1967, requesting it to do something about sealing the Eyre Highway? The first approach was made on 13th January 1967, jointly by the Western Australian and South Australian Premiers. There was a Liberal Premier in Western Australia and a Labor Premier in South Australia at that time. The second approach was made on 20th December 1967, again supported by the Western Australia Premier and the Labor Government in South Australia. The third approach was made on 23rd September 1968 by the Hall Government - not a Labor government - supported by the Western Australia Government.
– What about in 1966 when the honourable member for Grey made some representations.
– I am talking about approaches by government’s. Senator Jessop, by way of interjection, refers to how often he has made approaches, but the electors rejected him because of his weak efforts as the honourable member for Grey.
– Stick to the railways.
– 1 will talk about the railways shortly. The fifth approach was made by the South Australian Labor
Government on 6th July 1970. Incidentally, only a formal acknowledgment of that letter was received by the Premier’s Department. On 22nd December 1970 the sixth approach was made to this Government by the South Australia Labor Government. The seventh approach was made on 18th February 1971, again by the South Australia Labor Government.
– Where did you get this information?
– I got this information from the Minister for Roads and Transport and Minister for Local Government in the South Australian Parliament, Mr Geoff Virgo. It is quite authentic; there is no doubt about it. As I said, the seventh approach was made on 18th February 1 971 in a telegram which was sent by the South Australian Premier to the Prime Minister. He asked whether, in view of the rising death toll on the unsealed section of the Highway, the Commonwealth would reconsider its earlier decisions not to help out financially. The Premier indicated that South Australia would be prepared to contribute one-third of the cost which at that time was estimated to be $9m. Because of the work that had since been carried out, the estimated cost of sealing the remaining section, at at 18th February 1971, was $7,500,000. The South Australia Labor Government made the decision to contribute one-third of the cost of the work. Such a decision was not taken by the Liberal Government during all the years when Playford was in office.
The eighth approach was made on 7th April 1971 by the South Australia Premier alone. The ninth approach was made on 9th Febuary of this year when the South Australian Premier advised the Prime Minister that South Australia had reexamined the position and was prepared to bear two-thirds of the total cost by diverting moneys which would otherwise have been spent by a public authority. This offer was conditional on the Commonwealth allowing the public authority concerned to be repaid the amount of moneys borrowed, plus interest, from the Commonwealth moneys allocated under the provisions of the Commonwealth Aid Roads Act. The Commonwealth did not respond to that offer. The South Australian plan provided for the sealing of the Highway to be completed within 5 years, but an infusion of Commonwealh assistance would reduce that time to 4 years. Then at the Premiers Conference in Canberra in June of this year the South Australian Premier made another plea, but it fell on deaf ears. Then he announced that the South Australian Government would go it along and seal the Highway which, incidentally, is used by only 20 per cent of the residents of South Australia; 80 per cent of the people who use the highway live in the other States. The South Australian Government, out of sheer frustration over all those years, announced that it would seal the road itself. Of course, the same thing happened there as happened-
– That has not happened with roads in Victoria.
– You do not have an Eyre Highway in Victoria. You could write Victoria on to a postage stamp.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Byrne) - Order! Senator McLaren, would you kindly address the Chair?
– Do not forget that you have some candidates in Victoria; do not offend the Victorians too much.
– I am not ridiculing the people in Victoria. I am referring to the size of Victoria and to the fact that it is more closely settled than those thousands of miles of land in South Australia stretching not only from east to west but also from north to south. Those roads in South Australia are vital to our communications. When 1 was rudely interrupted by Senator Little 1 was referring to the fact that only the South Australia Premier’s announcement that South Australia would go it alone and seal the Eyre Highway forced the Federal Government to provide approximately $2. 25m to assist in the sealing of the Eyre Highway. Of course, as J said when I opened my remarks tonight, we forced this present Federal Government to instigate an inquiry into poverty. So even though we are in Opposition, by continually hammering away we have eventually achieved some results. Earlier Senator Davidson interjected and said that 1 ought to talk about railways.
– I really meant the highway.
– I will retract that remark. 1 will now talk about the transcontinental railway. The Government is very belated in its attempt to provide financial assistance to construct the railway from Tarcoola to Alice Springs because some months ago I did a little bit of research in the Parliamentary Library and the Library came up with a copy of the Northern Territory Acceptance Act which was assented to on 16th November 1910. In that Act there is a paragraph, wilh the side heading To construct Transcontinental Railway’, which states:
Construct or cause to be constructed a railway line from Port Darwin southwards to a point on the northern boundary of South Australia proper (which railway wilh a railway from a point on the Port Augusta Railway to connect therewith is hereinafter referred to as The Transcontinental Railway).
Legislation to provide for the construction of this railway was passed in 1910. Apart from the war years when there was a Federal Labor government, what has been done about this railway by the present Federal Government or by governments of the same political colour? Some 62 years later the Government announced in the Budget that it is expected that it will spend this amount of money on the railway; it does not say that it will spend the money. No guarantee is given that this money will be spent on the railway, yet it is 62 years after the agreement to construct the railway was signed. Of course, we recall that when Ben Chifley was Prime Minister legislation was passed and an agreement was reached for the construction of a standard gauge railway from Port Pirie to Adelaide, but we still have not got it. After all these years it has not been constructed.
– What is the State Government doing about it? Mucking around, arguing about it.
– Senator Jessop asks what the State Government is doing about it. lt is not mucking around, arguing about it. I suppose that when Senator Jessop refers to the State Government mucking around, arguing about it, he is referring to the agreement which the Hall Government drew up but which was not ratified by Mr Fitch, the Railways Commissioner in South Australia, because it did not give access to any of the manufacturing industries in South Australia. All that the Hall Government was concerned about was passenger traffic. As I pointed out earlier, South Australia is a manufacturing State. Of course, what Mr Hall wanted to do was to get his friends in road transport to transport all of the motor cars, refrigerators and washing machines from the point of manufacture to the rail head. He did not have the foresight to insist that that railway should have spur lines right into the loading and unloading doors of the manufacturing industries. The State Government mucked around until agreement was reached to provide facilities to those people who are the. backbone of the economy of South Australia.
I said it was only expected that this money would bc spent on the railway. On 25th August in the South Australian Parliament the Minister of Roads and Transport, Mr Geoff Virgo, said:
The Federal Government’s plan announced in the Budget to build a railway Une from Tarcoola to Alice Springs is in a state of flux.
He went on to say:
Only this morning I asked that steps be taken to prod the Prime Minister, Mr McMahon, to reply to the letter that was sent by the Premier, Mr Dunstan, 2 months ago in an endeavour to safeguard the interests of South Australia.
These are the things which we run up against. When a Labor government is in office in a State it finds that the LiberalCountry Party Government which has been in office for 23 years tries to palm it off all the time. If any progress takes place in that State the State Labor government will not get credit for that progress.
– Get out. The Commonwealth is falling over backwards to help State governments.
– It has not proved that yet. Federal Labor governments have been the only Federal governments which have concerned themselves with the upgrading of Australia’s transport system.
– How do you recall that?
– I can recall right back to the Fisher Government.
– You have a pretty good memory if you can recall that.
– I read also, Senator Webster. If the honourable senator read, he would see that it was under the
Fisher Government that the transcontinental Railway from Port Augusta to Parkeston was built. It was under a Labor government that the bitumen road from Alice Springs to Darwin was put down through the advent of the Allied Works Council. SO, all of Australia’s major construction work linking the north, the south, the east and the west was carried out as project works under Labor governments in the few short years that Labor governments have been in office.
– They were built by conscripts.
– Well, we had no-
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Lawrie) - Order! Senator McLaren, you will address the Chair.
– Well, I heard an interjection that the road was built by conscripts. The Labor government . had no objection to conscripting people into the work force when this country was fighting a declared war. But the Vietnam war is not a declared war. I could tell this Parliament of a great deal of the hardship and suffering that are being exprienced now by young fellows who have returned home from Vietnam and who, because this Government uses the argument that the Vietnam conflict was not a declared war, have no entitlement to any repatriation benefits. I recall an instance with respect to the soldier settlement scheme in the up river areas of my State. After the last World War, under a Labor government, we set about settling returned soldiers on the land. Some of the Victorian senators who are trying to interject would see, if they took a drive through the western district of Victoria, the wonderful results of that work. Big pastoral properties were cut up. Previously where one family had been raking in income and little country towns were unknown, as a result of the soldier settlement scheme under the Cain Labor Government of the time in Victoria, those properties were cut up and many, many families were placed on them to develop these areas. I say to those honourable senators who are trying to interject that I am talking now about the Vietnam war and I am quoting an instance that is taking place at the present moment in the Loxton irrigation area.
– We are not putting them on farms now because farms do not pay at present the way they used to.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Lawrie) - Order! Honourable senators will cease interjecting.
– Thank you, sir. 1 refer now to the case of a young man who had 10 years’ service in the Permanent Army and who has serviced in Malaya and Vietnam. I am fighting his case now. He wished to apply for a dispossessed irrigation block in South Australia. When 1 went into the fact of the matter I found that no provision was made to settle these people. If a returned soldier from the last World War who was entitled to a block had not made an application for that block, it was immediately put on the open market and any person could tender for it. No provision was made for preference to the returned serviceman from the Vietnam conflict or for the ex-Permanent Army man to tender. No consideration whatsoever was given to them. The block was placed on the open market. Why are these people not given preference? This Government has neglected them completely. Yet we hear Senator McManus interject that the Labor Party conscripted men. Of course we did. As 1 said earlier, there was a declared war. The war in Vietnam was not declared. 1 defy Senator McManus to say that it was. I wish that it had been declared so that we could get justice for some of these young men who have returned from it.
– I thought that the policy of no conscription was a matter of principle with you. It is not a matter of principle.
– They took them at 18.
– They sent me overseas at 17.
– And that was a Labor government.
– Senator Webster would not have any idea because I do not think Senator Webster has ever pulled on a pair of military boots or a pair of gaiters. So, he could not comment on the matter at all. If he was so concerned about the conflict in Vietnam and that the communists were coming down to take over Australia he should have been one of the first to volunteer to fight in that area. But he was not. So, he has no room for comment whatseover on the Vietnam issue. 1 have no time for people who have stood up in this Parliament and have had the gall to support the sending of 20-year old boys to Vietnam when they are not prepared to go themselves. The Labor Party has never done this.
I wish to refer now the Kimba pipeline. I was very disturbed to hear the remarks of Senator Jessop in the speech that he made on the Budget. He criticised the South Australian Labor Government for making an incomplete submission to the Federal Government for finance. What the honourable senator did not know was that he was reflecting on the most experienced officers in the engineering and water supply fields in South Australia who drew up that submission. In making those remarks he was reflecting on the ability of people such as Mr Beaney and Mr Bicknell. who lives on the west coast, together with one or two other consultants whose advice was sought on this matter. He has criticised these people by saying that an incorrect submission has been made.
Let us go a little farther than that. We find that Senator Jessop had an article published in the ‘Eyre Peninsula Tribune’ on 1 5th June. The article read:
It was regrettable that to date l4ie South Australian Government had not made a further submission on the Polda-Kimba pipeline, Senator D. Jessop said in Federal Parliament last week.
But Senator Jessop did not check his facts. The honourable member for Grey (Mr Wallis) had to remind him of the fact that on 17th May these submission were sent in to the Commonwealth Parliament. Yet Senator Jessop rose in this Parliament and directed a Press release to the people in that area trying to gain political kudos by criticising the South Australian Government for not doing its job. It remained for the honourable member for Grey to point this fact. out. When Senator Jessop returns to the Eyre Peninsula he will know why people criticise him and tell him that he ought to check his facts. The purpose for which the Budget has been used, particularly by Senator Jessop, is to criticise the South Australian Government on the basis that, he says, it has not been carrying out ils duty to the people who elected it. I have proved here tonight that the South
Australian Government has carried out its duty and so has the parliamentary Labor Party.
– You have not given the true facts and the full story about the Kimba pipeline.
– The true facts are that when the. first submission was presented, the answer came back from the then Minister for Primary Industry that the wool industry was so much in the doldrums that the Commonwealth could not see it way clear to make any finance available as it did not want to produce any more wool. That was the answer on that occasion and it is on record in Hansard.
– How does that line up with what you said about eggs?
– Wool is a different matter.
– You are against the controlled production of eggs. Are you not interested in wool because you are not engaged in it?
– We find that no consideration was given to what would have been the effect on these people in South Australia if the financial assistance which was sought not only by the present Labor Government but also by previous Liberal governments had been provided. These people, on Eyre Peninsula could have diversified and obtained other sources of income from their farms. But what do we find? We find that the assistance was not given because wool was over-produced.
– And underconsumed.
– Well, it could be under-consumed but it is like wheat. If we are not prepared to go out and be friendly with our best customers, how can we sell our commodities to them? This is one oi the problems that we face today when our farmers are suffering from this disavantage of wheat quotas. Had the present Commonwealth Government not been using the communist bogey as an election issue year after year and created bad relations with Communist China, as it termed that country in those days-
– What a load of rubbish.
– It is on the record. If the Commonwealth Government had not done that, the wheat market from that country would not have been lost to Canada. And it is no use Senator Webster saying that that is not the fact.
I propose to refer now to another matter which is involved in our amendment. The present Government has no national plan for our capital cities and regional centres. I remind the Senate that on 19th and 20th August last year a 2-day seminar was held in Canberra with delegates attending from all over Australia. It was known as the National Development Conference, from which was derived the Australian Council for Balanced Development. I attended that conference. Senator Cotton was there so I was in good company. One of the basic resolutions which came out of that conference was in these terms:
That the National Development Conference calls upon the National Parliament and National Government to recognise and act upon a duty to give leadership and substantially to finance decentralisation and a better balance of population and employment so as to ease the pressures on capital cities and to accelerate development of country areas. Further, Conference requests that the Commonwealth Government proceed forthwith to promote the creation of the first major nonmetropolitan growth centre. It Li recommended that a unit be set up within an appropriate Commonwealth department to implement these proposals and to co-operate with the State governments.
What has been the outcome of that resolution which was contained in an urgent telegram to the Prime Minister, to the Leader of the Democratic Labor Party (Senator Gair) and to the Leader of the Parliamentary Labor Party (Mr Whitlam)? I have asked quite a few questions in this Parliament during the last 12 months to find out what has been the outcome of that approach. Only the other day I received an answer from the Prime Minister that as he had already indicated the Commonwealth was agreeable to the publication of the report. He was referring to a report, for which I had asked, from the Committee of State and Commonwealth officials which had been formed to look into decentralisation. Although this committee was set up many years ago, because of the laxity of the Government in calling it together and in getting on with the job of decentralisation it has met only each pancake day and has shown no interest at all. This is one of the reasons why we have incorporated that requirement in our amendment to the Budget. When I asked about the report the Prime Minister stated that on his instructions the report was being printed in anticipation of the States’ agreement but that he had been advised that the printing would take some time. Why has it taken well over 12 months to come up with a decision and for the committee to table its report when the committee has been in operation for many years. This Government again has turned its back on a seminar that was held here in Canberra. The only reason for its being held was that people from all over Australia were frustrated by the drift of people to the cities and the stagnation of country areas.
In the submission made to the Commonwealth Government the conference called also for the Commonwealth to assist the States in decentralisation. I am happy that the State Labor Government under the premiership of Don Dunstan in South Australia recently passed legislation freezing land within a 30-mile radius of a town near where I live in order to set up a decentralised city which will take some of the surplus people who are congregating in the city of Adelaide.
– Haw are you going to send them out - compulsorily?
– We do not have to send them out. When we talk about decentralisation the old story always crops tip from members of the Country Party. They do not want people to go to the country because, particularly in States like Queensland and New South Wales, if working people went out into the country members of the Country Party would lose their seats and their power. This all boils down to what I suggested at the conference, that the Country Party merely mouths words about decentralisation and does not back up those words in any way. It is not interested in decentralisation.
– How are you going to get them out there?
– Senator Withers has asked whether we intend to force the people into the country. A Labor Government will not force people to do anything. It will encourage them to go into the country. We will give them cheap land and we will not allow the land sharks to exploit people as they are doing in those States which at present have a Liberal government. The average price of a block of land in Sydney today is $9,000, yet the Government boasts about the amount of money that it gives as home savings grants. Of the amount provided in housing finance to a young couple in Sydney, $9,000 is swallowed up in the price of a block of land, leaving about $11,000 with which to build a house. What sort of house can anyone build for $11,000? Yet the Government boasts about increasing the home savings grant from $500 to $750. This Government has not done one thing to aid decentralisation in this great country. When we become the government and as soon as the election has been held this will be one of the first things that we will look to, because we believe in getting the people out of the cities to where they can have a decent living without having to travel for li hours each day in order to get to work.
We have heard criticism today of the 35-hour week. What Government supporters do not realise is that when a man works a 35-hour week he spends many additional hours each week travelling to and from his job. He works just as many hours as do many primary producers.
– As many as you.
– Senator Gair has never done a hard day’s work in his life, so he should not interject. He would not know.
– It is really hard work listening to you, senator.
– I have noted often in this Parliament that when a member brings home a few cold hard facts Government supporters say that it is hard to listen to. Honourable senators opposite do not have to listen to me; they may leave the chamber, as I do when some of them are speaking. They have that right.
Another matter that I have mentioned before in this place is the facilities available in the Fanny Bay gaol in Darwin. No provision has been made in the Budget for the construction of a new gaol in Darwin. I have inspected the gaol and I am full of praise for the people who have to work there and cope with the prisoners who have been committed to that place because of some misdemeanour. However, I am really concerned about the fact that the place is like a concentration camp. It is little better than a-
– Chicken coop?
– At home I have chicken coops that are better than that gaol is in places. It is very hard for people working in the gaol to do the job that they are paid to do. I make a plea tonight for some consideration to be given to the construction of a new gaol in Darwin to replace the old one at Fanny Bay. Only last Saturday an article appeared in the Northern Territory ‘News’ stating that a special magistrate had refused to commit a young woman to the gaol because of conditions there. Because there was no way to rehabilitate her, he let her out on a bond although in view of the crime she had committed he felt that she should be given some term of detention. Because of the conditions at that gaol he felt that he could not commit her to imprisonment there.
– I do not suppose she is complaining. Is she?
– No doubt she is not complaining, but she has committed a crime and I believe that all decent thinking people would agree that when a person commits a crime against society such as this woman did she should serve the sentence which is imposed.
– Such as the crime Barry Johnston committed, or that some others have committed in knocking over a policeman. These are all crimes, are they not?
– Once again we have the old parrot here on my right interjecting about Barry Johnston. I remind the honourable senator that’ Barry Johnston has not been convicted yet. When Senator Little helps the Attorney-General (Senator Greenwood) to catch him and convict him he will serve his sentence too, unless there, is a change of government.
– You would let him out.
– Of course we would. This is our policy. I thank the honourable senator for reminding me because I now want to tell the Senate that immediately on the election of a federal Labor government we are going to release all pol itical prisoners who have committed a breach of the so-called National Service Act. What is more, we will wipe from the record any convictions recorded against them because of their actions. I say here and now that these men who are in gaol have more guts than have some of the people in this place who are criticising them for their actions. I will say that to anyone, and I say it particularly to Senator Gair and Senator Little who have criticised Barry Johnston. He has more courage and guts than these 2 honourable senators will ever have, yet repeatedly in this Parliament they have criticised that man.
– Why does he hide if he has that much stomach?
– There is very little difference in what he is doing and what the honourable senator has done. Senator Webster could have gone to Vietnam, just as he is expecting Barry Johnston to do.
– Why does he hide? I am not hiding.
– He will not need to hide for very much longer. I have made a plea for better facilities in the Darwin gaol. I notice that in the Estimates for this year some money has been allocated for the partial construction of a new police station and new police cells at Darwin; but, as I said earlier, I am disappointed that no provision has been made for the improvement of the gaol at Darwin.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Lawrie) - Order! The honourable senator’s time has expired.
– I gather that Senator McLaren, who has just resumed his seat, is opposed to the Budget and therefore is opposed to the increased allocation for payments to the States, opposed to the development of the Eyre Highway and the north-south railway line, opposed to the development of a defence programme, opposed to assistance to rural workers, prepared to drive people off their farms because he is opposed to relief from estate duty, opposed to pensions, opposed to other social service benefits and opposed to the abolition of the means test. He has delivered a tirade of abuse, line after line, minute after minute, for the last intolerable 60 minutes, in condemning the whole
Budget when he knows perfectly well that the whole of the Press, the people and the public opinion of Australia have responded enthusiastically to it.
Sandwiched in the middle of Senator McLaren’s speech on the Budget - I presume that somehow or other this was strategically designed so that it became the filling in the sandwich - he referred in one way or another to some of my colleagues and their references to the defence policy of the Government. But he did he tell us anything about the defence policy of his own organisation? Did he tell us, for example, that it is the policy of the Australian Labor Party to abandon our friends in the South East Asia Treaty Organisation? Did he tell us that members of the Labor Party are committed to the weakening of the ANZUS Treaty? Did he tell us that it is their policy to withdraw from the 5-power pact? Did he tell us that they would refuse the United States of America the opportunity to assist in and strengthen the defence programme of this country? He did not tell us a word about those things. Let me remind him and the Senate in general that the policies my colleagues have been propounding in this Budget debate are designed to achieve the creation of modern and mobile defence forces and sound alliances for the strength and security of this country. Unless we have a secure economy and a secure country in the world situation we cannot progress with anything else. Because we have had those things, over the last 23 years that this Government has been in office we have been able to produce the best quality of life our people have ever known and to provide for Australia a position of high regard in all facets of national development and international affairs.
In participating in this Budget debate, let me look at the amendment that has been put forward on behalf of the Opposition, which states in part:
I wish to point out to the Senate the response to this Budget. It is now some weeks since it was brought down and it is not the sort of news that it was when it was brought down. But, without doubt, it has been geared to achieve social and economic goals of particular significance for the Australian people. A government that has been in office for as long as this Liberal-Country Party Government has been in office in this country must expect sometimes to receive fairly stern treatment from the media. But this Budget was acknowledged by the reviewers as one that contributed to Australia’s economic strength and financial wellbeing as well as to the quality of life.
The Budget provides for increased payments to the States, the development of highways, assistance to rural and other industries and subsidies for industrial training and other related matters. The Opposition would condemn the Budget although it provides for one of the largest education programmes we have seen in our time and although the new provisions, not only in the education sphere but also in the social welfare sphere, will relieve personal hardship by increasing pensions, improving the social wellbeing of the people and easing estate duty. It is important to observe that this Budget will provide the greatest benefit for the greatest number of people.
A feature of recent Budgets has been the continuous and rapid growth in their size, complexity and area of distribution. 1 have seen it reported somewhere that the Budget expenditure has increased by as much as 30 per cent in the last 2 or 3 years. I point out with some emphasis that most of this additional amount has been transferred, in one way or another for other people to spend; it is not additional funds for the government of the day and its departments to spend. About 81 per cent of the increase has been transferred to the State governments for them to spend on installations and developments in their various departments, and to the recipients of social service benefits.
Eighty-one per cent is a considerable proportion of any increase, and the fact that 81 per cent of this increase has been distributed among the State governments and the recipients of social service benefits is an indication of the concern the Government shows in its distribution of funds for the total development of Australian services, industry, establishments and people. This trend of increase in expenditure has continued in this Budget, in which payments to the States have increased by 16 per cent, payments for State works and housing by 10 per cent and payments for specific purposes by 24 per cent.
In planning the nation’s Budget the Government inevitably is concerned with the economy of the nation and its growth rate, but costs, prices, incomes, expenditures, exports and imports and all such matters must be taken into account, as must the outlays of both the private sector and the public sector. This has been emphasised during this debate. But a Budget is concerned with very much more than that. I return to the Budget speech which was presented by the Treasurer (Mr Snedden) on the night of 15th August and read in the Senate the same night by the Leader of the Government (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson). It states, among other things:
Our proposals are geared to achieve social and economic goals of significance to all Australians and particularly families.
The Budget is particularly significant at this time because of the attention it gives to these social goals and because of the recognition that economic goals of themselves, however important and significant are not sufficient. The Budget we are debating clearly demonstrates that the Government has an awareness of the changing times and of the need to be flexible in these times. Not only are we changing; we are also going through a time when the rate of change is greater than society has ever known. I have been doing a little thinking about this matter cf the rate of change and the awareness of the social needs of a community, and 1 have been looking at a document from the 16th International Conference on Social Welfare which was held only a few weeks ago in the Netherlands. I take the liberty of referring the Senate to one of the papers from that conference. It had as its theme ‘Developing Social Policy in Conditions of Rapid Change’. There is a condition of rapid change throughout the world and Australia, no less than other countries, is reflecting that condition. It is noteworthy that throughout the world, in both developed countries as we understand that title and developing countries, there is an awareness most of all that social policy must be the prime concern of governments and that rapid change in this social policy is not only common but very widespread.
Honourable senators would know very well the various forces that are affecting our social development and the quality of life of our people. Amongst these, of course, are factors relating to the environ ment and the population increase. People will have heard of the figures that are quoted, such as the fact that the population will double by the year 2000 and double again 20 years thereafter. I do not want to develop that theme. What I want to develop is the theme that by the turn of the century, for the first time in hostory as we understand it, over half of our total population will be in urban settlements. This means that there will be a very serious change in the general attitude, the general responses, the general needs and the social needs of the people.
– Are you referring to Western civilisation or Europe and Asia as well?
– I am referring particularly to Western civilisation living in urban communities. Mankind will have a new form of power and of social responsibility and will be involved in all the changes brought about by increasing technology. These things bring with them an increasing number of benefits, particularly so far as the kind of life in Western civilisation is concerned. But less tangible factors are having an enormous impact. Everywhere people are expecting a better standard of living. In Western civilisation they are getting it. They are getting more material benefits and more services. But they also are experiencing more and more what has been described as an information explosion. In short, they are becoming better informed. They have a better opportunity to fulfil their general search for knowledge. There has been a revolution in communications. All these factors are conditioned and guided by the fact that there is an increasing and a rapid rate of change. If there is a rapid rate of change in civilisation and a rapid rate of change throughout the world, there has to be some form of management of and adjustment to this rate of change. What is significant about a global rate of change also applies to national management as well.
In the Budget we are debating tonight the Australian Government has confronted the demands of people, both as individuals and as groups, and has met the rapid rate of change which we are experiencing in the community and changing society in which we live. The Government, when drawing up the Budget, gave consideration to those social goals which are possible and which, in particular, provide for the best possible redistribution so that the greatest number of people can benefit by the goods that are in this country. The Government, knowing this kind of thing, devised a budget which has a degree of flexibility. It has shown awareness of change and has fixed new goals and new aspirations for the Australian people. Therefore it is not surprising that in this Budget there has been a tremendous emphasis on the general broad social welfare programme. This is part of a comprehensive development which, in addition to the pension situation, introduces new nursing home benefits and new facilities for domiciliary care benefits. It provides for the establishment of child care centres, for increases in homes savings grants, for new facilities for the care of the aged, for travel assistance for unemployed persons, for Aboriginal advancement, for enormous increases in the housing, health and education programmes for Aboriginals, for improvement in the estate duty situation and, of course, for a very widespread education programme.
I have no doubt that every one of the things I mentioned will be the subject of a debate and one could bring forward many arguments about every one of them. I hope that as the various Bills which flow from this Budget come into the Senate we will have the opportunity of developing the various themes and arguments which reflect the Government’s concern to build in the Australian community a social programme which will improve our quality of life and make Australia not only a secure place but a good place in which to live.
I wish to turn to one or two features of the social welfare benefits I mentioned earlier. The Treasurer in his Budget Speech drew attention to the abolition of the means test. He is reported on page 38 of Hansard in this way:
We have decided to abolish the means test within the next 3 years for age pension eligibility for residentiary qualified men and women aged 65 years and over.
In the short run and as a continuing improvement in its social welfare policy, the Government decided to propose an immediate increase in the amount of means which pensioners may enjoy without a reduction of their pensions. That indicates that there will be immediate and considerable relief to persons who previously were disadvantaged because the depreciating effect of the economy changed fixed incomes. This matter has been dealt with in detail in this place and honourable senators have referred to it in a considerable number of speeches.
Another thing which shows the Government’s awareness of this change is the proposal to allow a superannuation pension or annuity which is payable for life to be converted into a property equivalent, and to allow it to be taken into account along with other property when means are being assessed. I think it is understood that this action will alleviate considerably the hardship which many thrifty people have suffered, obviously through no fault of their own but through external pressures which they could not foresee or control.
Reference has been made to the means test. In Australian social history the means test has been a considerable political question but it should be recognised that the promise of the Treasurer represents a firm undertaking. He has undertaken to change the pension philosophy. I use that phrase which up until now has been something which many people have described as typically Australian. For many years successive governments have endeavoured to find a way in which to do justice to the needs of pensioners and at the same time provide a national retiring allowance on a basis which would not discourage prudent saving during a lifetime. Few people would deny that those who contribute to the prosperity and growth of the nation have a right to share in its fruits and its harvests. The difficulty always has been to find a solution which meets the general approval of the community; one which suits Australia’s national needs as well as meeting the social and economic conditions - these matters have been emphasised in the discussion tonight - and, in particular, to take account of the rapid rate of change to which I referred. A highlight of the Budget is the fact that it takes into account the needs of the people of Australia. It provides for an adjustment of our affairs to rapid change and envisages a social programme designed for a form of living that will be acceptable to us all. Indeed it provides for a happy and useful form of life.
The Budget contains many references to education. These have already been discussed in this chamber. I have had the opportunity of taking part in those discussions. This leads me to refer to the fact that, in addition to providing financial assistance for education, the Budget provides for specific payments to the States These payments are estimated at $250m, compared with just over $200m last year. The largest of these grants, which total $138m, are for universities and colleges of advanced education. There is a wide range of other payments including capital grants for school construction, for secondary school science laboratories and libraries and for numerous other education facilities. There are expected to be in the vicinity of $112m, which represents an increase of $30m over last year’s expenditure. From the beginning of next year there will be significant increases in the number of scholarships awarded and a wide range of educational facilities and services will be provided. That is in addition to what I have already said about the increased interest shown in the social welfare of the people of Australia and the decision to take advantage of the many changes that are rapidly taking place. I commend the Budget because it is concerned with immediate social and economic needs and because it recognises that by looking to the future, it will be easier to readjust to the rapid rate of social and economic change that it taking place.
The Budget also contains references to local matters. As a South Australian I was particularly interested in the reference to the Eyre Highway and the proposed northsouth railway line. Naturally, like my South Australian colleagues, I am concerned for the wellbeing of industry in my State. When there is talk about a railway line naturally I am concerned that a subject which has been referred to by my colleagues is taken into consideration in the construction stages. I refer to the use of concrete sleepers. South Australia depends very heavily upon the development of its secondary industry. It has been proved by research and experience that concrete sleepers are technically superior for permanent ways. The cement and concrete industry is an important sector of Australian industry. It is a particularly important sector of the South Australian secondary industry. It is an industry which, from my inspections, I can say is technically well equipped. The industry has been responsible for a number of innovations which have not only brought about major improvements in the field about which I am speaking in Australia but also led to reduced building and construction costs. I take this opportunity not only of commending this section of our secondary industry but also recommending its involvement in the projected northsouth railway line.
I shall conclude my remarks by placing emphasis on the contribution which the Budget will make to the wellbeing of the people. As the opportunity presents itself I will add further argument to the debate on the various Bills which will flow from the Budget. 1 hope the Senate will support the Budget and reject the amendment which has been proposed by the Australian Labor Party.
– Mr Acting Deputy President-
– Point of order!
– Has someone called a point of order, Mr Acting Deputy President? I will yield if there is a point of order, but if it was only an idle interjection 1 will ignore it. 1 am one of those who would seek to expedite the passage of this Budget so that the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) may keep his promise that once the Budget has been passed and all the associated measures debated he will be prepared to go to the people. Nothing would please me more and nothing would please the Australian Labor Party more than for the election to be held forthwith. Nothing would please the people of Australia more than to have a quick election and nothing would serve the nation better than a change of government, which will be the inevitable result of an election. It is inevitable because of the poor leadership that has been the characteristic of this Government for at least the last 3 years. The Government is bereft of the initiatives that are needed by the nation at this time. It has been divided by its internal disputes, by its internal factions, by its infighting, by its intrigue and by its personality clashes.
The sooner there is an end to this the better. But there is now some doubt that there will be an early election. The doubt has been raised by the recent public opinion polls coming from 2 directions which indicate that this Budget, which is supposed to have won widespread acclaim, is a Budget which has had little impact; that this Budget, which is supposed to be so generous - it is generous in certain directions, especially when compared with previous Budgets - has failed to arouse the people of Australia to the point where they will continue to express their support for the Government. It is fairly obvious that the public opinion polls show that the Budget had but a 1 per cent impact. So the Prime Minister is now dilly-dallying He has refused to declare when an election will be held. I fear that the election will be postponed until the latest possible moment because no time is suitable for the Government to hold an election and no time is suitable for the Prime Minister to face the people.
– Is the honourable senator worried about that?
– I am not worried about it. I am merely stating that the sooner an election is held the better.
– But the honourable senator is not worried about the holding of an election?
– No. I believe that Senator Gair, who is about to leave the chamber, should stay to listen to my remarks. The sooner an election is held the better. There is a great need for a change of government if democracy, as we should define it, is to be maintained in this country. No system of government that allows one party to stay in power for 23 years will survive.
– The people will decide that.
– The people, by their vote, have decided in the greatest numbers to support the Austraiian Labor Party, in lesser numbers to support the Liberal Party, in even lesser numbers to support the Australian Country Party and in still lesser numbers to support the Australian Democratic Labor Party. But by mutual arrangements and exchange of policies and support what results is a government that represents an accumulation of ideas and an accumulation of parties. It is a coalition which is opposed to the strongest party - the party with the strongest support in this country. That is the Australian Labor Party.
– What is the point that you are making?
– The point that I am making is that the Government sits on the administrative benches not because of its own record or its support in the electorate but because of the support of the splinter group or the minority group which, as I have said before, is the Australian Democratic Labor Party. There only rests the hope of Government members for a successful result in this coming election. Their only chance in this coming election rests with a maximising of the. Democratic Labor Party vote. It is in that direction that we will find given the support of those people who desire to see the destruction of the Australian Labor Party and the perpetuation of its term on the Opposition benches. But in spite of what the Government had expected from this Budget the people at least have responded with a cynicism which has indicated clearly that they will not support the Government. At the. coming election there will be a change of government. This change of government will break one long line of mislegislation, patronage of supporters and friends and the permitting of abuses.
– Do you think that the DLP will wither on the vine at last?
– The DLP in this coming election will be negated.
– That is what they said during the last Senate election.
– Let us see.
– It was not exactly negated there.
– I am suggesting that the matter be put to the test.
– It has been put to the test for 20 years.
– The honourable senator ought not. to be so vocal because he represents a small sectional party which has submerged its policies and its effectiveness because it supports a party that is supported by the vested interests that exploit the people that the honourable senator is supposed to represent. The Country Party which purports to represent the people who live and earn their incomes by their effort in the vast areas of Australia has denied these people continually by this coalition. This is evidenced in many places. The prices that the primary producer receives for his goods are far less than he ought to receive when one measures the prices for the end products. Senator Little, who is attempting to interject, should confine himself to the distribution of literature which is produced mostly outside this country. Let me return to the Country Party.
– You would revalue the dollar and send the producers broke. There is no answer to that. Dr Patterson says one thing; Al Grassby says that he is the spokesman for rural affairs.
– The honourable senator, because of this coalition support of the Liberal Party, has been responsible for allowing savage margins of profit to be earned on the production of goods in the rural sector of the economy.
– Who has received savage margins of profit?
– The honourable senator knows as well as I that the primary producer receives the minimum for his effort and the distributor of those goods receives the maximum profit. The huge pastoral companies and the huge financial concerns, together with the distributors, reap the reward that should be earned by the primary producer. But the Country Party, over a number of years - in fact, for the whole of the period for which it has been in coalition with the Liberal Party - has let down and betrayed the rural sector. There is no doubt about this and I cannot quite understand why the Country Party continues in coalition except to serve the interests of those who gained political representation and perhaps some administrative or executive position.
On an ad hoc basis the Budget, in a variety of directions, has made available certain moneys to relieve the need of pensioners, and those on fixed incomes and has given, in some measure taxation relief. But these are arrangements which have been made by a Government which faces an election in complete disarray. Senator Davidson suggested that we object to these measures. One does not object to them in any way. We merely object to the fact that they are not in any way connected to some national plan of development and not in any way projected forward to allow for a plan for progress and for improvement of the people generally of this nation. There is no positive plan for national development. There is no positive plan for the development of secondary industry or rural industry. In fact, there is no connected plan in this Budget that would give any hope, guide or incentive to those who produce, construct or manufacture. For this reasons, the Australian Labor Party condemns this Budget.
I am going to take an opportunity while 1 am on my feet to state a few cases which I would normally mention during the adjournment debate. One matter is in connection with a question which I asked and which contained an allegation about the tax affairs of Patrick Partners of New South Wales.
– The honourable senator is not having another go at that firm, is he?
– I am not. At this stage I merely explain the purpose of my question. I wanted to disclose that the Government and its Ministers, in particular one Minister, had shown patronage or privilege to powerful people - to powerful friends. Previously I had asked questions about the sale of certain aircraft by Jetair Australia Ltd to the Department of External Affairs - as it was then called - to enable the Department to fill a requirement in Cambodia. The question was asked quite some time ago. At that stage I indicated that I felt that the Department tailored its requirement to suit the Jetair fleet, which had become redundant. Jetair was in a serious financial position. One of the chief directors of Jetair was Alexander Barton. He had close connections with members of the Government in high places. The Minister for External Affairs at that time was Mr McMahon. The questions sought to discover why the Department, under his leadership, should come to a most unusual arrangement to acquire the aircraft. An arrangement was entered into instead of the purchase going through the necessary channels of tendering through the Department of Supply for the aircraft. I made the statement that there seemed to be evidence of patronage on the part of the Minister to suit a particular friend - a particularly powerful friend, a leading financier and a leading stockbroker.
– That statement is an allegation of corruption.
– It is an allegation of patronage.
– It should not be made under privilege. It should be made outside.
– The purpose of being a senator is to disclose in this place what appears to be-
– No. What is; not what appears to be.
– What appears to be. A senator is given the power to bring forward in this place material which discloses certain information for debate. The purpose of privilege is to allow members and senators to expose certain things without fear of retribution from powerful men. There are in this country powerful men who misuse the forms of government and who through the use of close association and by taking advantage of patronage gain for themselves an advantage. At that time Alexander Barton and Jetair gained an advantage. The then Minister for External Affairs was the present Prime Minister, Mr McMahon.
I now discuss another series of events which I believe should be disclosed. A firm of stockbrokers was able to challenge a taxation assessment by the Deputy Commissioner of Taxation in New South Wales. That was its right to challenge an assessment. It was able to challenge an assessment, appeal against it, have that appeal overruled and go through the necessary procedures and the various stages that are allowed for. It was able to proceed through all these stages in New South Wales and to have the matter transferred to the Commissioner of Taxation in Canberra. One would have expected the matter to have proceeded to a court for determination. The assessment involved about $2.5m. Suddenly, without referral to a court for determination so that previous events could be disclosed and so that we could know why the Commissioner of Taxation changed his mind and withdrew the assessment, the assessment was withdrawn.
– There was representation to the Prime Minister.
– There was representation to the Prime Minister by Mr Dowling of Patrick Partners. An appointment was made. Before it was kept the assessment was withdrawn. The Prime Minister has admitted that fact. I understand that Mr Dowling was able to take advantage of his connections within the Liberal Party to have the assessment withdrawn. I raise the matter again because indirectly in my original question I did an injustice to the Deputy Commissioner in New South Wales.
– The honourable senator has just repeated it.
– I have not.
– Order! I think the time has arrived when I should quote to Senator Georges and to all honourable senators standing order 418. I read it out very carefully so that all honourable senators will understand its wording. It reads:
No Senator shall use offensive words against either House of Parliament or any Member of such House, or of any House of a State Parliament, or against any Statute, unless for the purpose of moving for its repeal, and all imputations of improper motives and all personal reflections on Members shall be considered highly disorderly.
– What were the offensive words?
– I will rule on the offensive words. I warn Senator Georges that under standing order 418 he must not make imputations of improper conduct against members of another place or against members of any State Parliament.
– Mr President, 1 accept what you say with, if I may, some reservations.
– The honourable senator does not accept my rulings with reservations. He accepts them in toto.
– 1 have a small right of retaliation if in another place the Treasurer should describe my questioning of this series of events as despicable. I accept that he has a right to disagree if he so wishes but I also - and I am not sensitive - have a right to respond in the way in which I am responding at the present time. I am exercising some restraint. 1 have not accused the Prime Minister of corruption. That was suggested by Senator McManus.
– Order! All 1 am saying is that you should beware nf standing order 418 which I have carefully lead out to you. You may now go on with your speech.
– Let me proceed to the point I was wishing to make. In asking the questions 1 did reflect upon the Deputy Commissioner of Taxation in New South Wales when I said that he gave way to what I termed intimidation. I was not to know at that time that the tax assessment of Patrick Partners which should have been in the province of the Deputy Commissioner of Taxation in New South Wales had moved into the area of responsibility of the Commissioner himself. I have certain questions on the notice paper which have not been answered. I have raised certain points by way of question. The original questions were almost immediately answered by the Treasurer who stated that no information could be given on matters of taxation which concerned an individual taxpayer. In this case an individual was defined as including bodies corporate, companies, and groups of individuals. Because of the secrecy provisions of the Income Tax Assessment Act no information could be given, lt was for this reason that I asked why the assessment, having proceeded so far, had been withdrawn; that I questioned the making of an appointment with the Prime Minister; and that I questioned the withdrawal of such an assessment. But let me first apologise - as I indicated to Senator Withers in response to an interjection - to the Deputy Commissioner in New South Wales. I did him an injustice. The allegation which I made should have been directed to the Commissioner and to the Prime Minister. There the matter stands.
– Is the honourable senator alleging that they did something improper?
– I am saying that this Government has been in power for so long that it serves its friends well. If there were no other reason for a change of Government this is one good reason. The Government has been here too long. It is not at arm’s length from its friends. It serves its friends well. There should be a change of government. There will be a change of government in spite of the beneficial nature of certain parts of this Budget.
– What allegations do you make against the Prime Minister?
– The allegations which I am making-
– It is a matter of litigation even now on the interpretation from the court.
– It is not. As a matter of fact, the assessment has been withdrawn and we are not to be told why it has been withdrawn.
– What is the allegation?
– The allegation is that it was because of the-
– Prime Minister’s intervention.
– Work it out.
– No, I am not working it out. It is clear by way of question. If the honourable senator wants to read my questions, then read them. If he wants to read my questions on notice, then read them. What I am saying is clearly that this Government and its Ministers have shown favouritism to people in high places.
– I rise to order. Mr President, I refer you to a comment which Senator Georges made. He said that this Government and its Minister have shown favouritism. I resent that remark. It is improper. It imputes improper motives to the Prime Minister and his Ministers. I think it should be withdrawn. I think it is extremely offensive and it is unnecessary. As far as Senator Georges is concerned, I think that in going on like this he does himself and his colleagues less than justice. It is a disgrace.
– I have a point of order-
– Does it relate to standing order 418?
– Yes. I recall your reading out standing order 418 which relates to offensive words. Nowhere in the speech by Senator Georges-
– Standing order 418 also relates to imputations of improper motives.
– Senator Georges in his remarks made the imputation that favouritism has been shown to certain operations. I think it is implied that this is a result of a Government which nas favourites being in office for too long. I do not know whether an honourable senator
– That is objectionable, too.
– I ask the honourable senator to wait. Where an honourable senator has a conscientious belief that there is corruption in Australia because the Government is prepared to bend to favouritism in relation to certain sections of the community, what is the avenue by which he can ventilate an injustice done to the
Australian community except in a speech in the Senate? Senator Georges has exercised his right. No-one can accept what Senator Georges has said other than as his opinion of what has happened in relation to this incident. He is entitled to that opinion. Those who disagree with the opinion can rise and disagree with it in the ordinary course of debate on the Budget. Senator George’s argument has some undesirable features because he supports it by facts.
– What facts?
– He knows - and the Minister will not reply - that the assessment was withdrawn. That is the difficulty in relation to this question. If everything is fair and above board the answer to the question should be that the assessment was not withdrawn. That would be a complete answer. If someone can support an imputation or an accusation, that is no reason why he should not make the statement. There would be more justification for making it than if he could not support it. Senator Georges has supported to the hilt the accusation which he has made against a certain company and against the activities of the Prime Minister. The fact that this is repugnant to those of the Party who follow the Prime Minister is, I submit, no justification for forbidding to Senator Georges the right to proceed along this line and make the suggestion, which he knows is correct, of corruption within the Government.
– I take a point of order.
– Do you address yourself to the point of order?
– Yes, I address myself to the standing order 418 which states:
No Senator shall use offensive words against either House of Parliament or any Member of such House, or of any House of a State Parliament, or against any Statute, unless for the purpose of moving for its repeal, and all imputations of improper motives and all personal reflections of Members shall be considered highly disorderly.
Senator Georges said that the Prime Minister and his Ministers have behaved improperly. Accordingly, Mr President, under standing order 423, I require those words to be taken down so that we may study them. After we see the Hansard report we will know whether to proceed or not.
– The Standing Orders require the words to be taken down now at this very moment. I will order that the words to which Senator Cotton objects be taken down. What are the words?
– The words which Senator Georges uttered.
– I think that we are getting ourselves into a bit of a quandary in this matter. Honourable senators will realise that I am a fairly tolerant President, although they may not have thought so at question time today, but that is by the way. It should be quite obvious to honourable senators that this matter which has been raised by Senator Cavanagh and mentioned by Senator Cotton, and which I myself took the initiative in raising, has been the subject matter for discussion in the Senate over the many years for which the Senate has sat. There are 3 rulings on this matter which I think are relevant to all the matters that we have discussed, and the 3 rulings were given by the one President. Mr President Givens said:
A senator may criticise whomsoever he pleases, including a member of another place provided he wakes no offensive reflections on such a member.
On a subsequent occasion Mr President Givens ruled:
A senator may refer to a general policy of a party in any terms that he may choose to use provided it is not offensive to any senator.
On another occasion Mr President Givens ruled:
A statement of fact is in order. To impute improper motives is out of order.
If Senator Georges feels strongly about this he must formalise his imputations and his accusations and put them in terms of a formal motion before the Senate. Having said that, Senator Georges, I invite you to continue your remarks in the context of the Budget debate but to refrain from being offensive in accordance with the Standing Orders which I have quoted and the rulings which I have given.
– Mr President, I take personal objection to the words that Senator Georges uttered. I ask that they be withdrawn and that an apology be submitted.
– What are the words?
– Senator Georges imputed improper motives to the Prime Minister and to the Cabinet Ministers.
- Senator Webster, the Standing Orders are clear on this question. If an honourable senator takes objection to words uttered by another senator he must reduce to writing the words to which he takes objection and they must bc presented to the table. Until such time as I have those words I cannot take any notice of the objection. I simply say to Senator Georges: You are treading on very dangerous ground, and I have exhibited a degree of tolerance which 1 think has now reached its limit. If you wish to continue your remarks I invite you to continue them in the context of the Standing Orders and with the decorum which the Senate requires.
– Mr President, I seek guidance from you. Standing order 423 states:
When any senator objects to words used in debate, and desires them to be taken down, the President shall direct them to be taken down by the Clerk accordingly:
That would seem to me to indicate that what is expected is not that someone will come in and write down the words, but that on objection being taken you should say to the Clerk: ‘Will you take down the words which have been uttered by Senator Georges to which people are objecting?’
– I wish to know what are the words to which objection is taken. That is the point.
– Mr President, on the point of order, I do not think that a senator, on making a complaint, must pronounce the words to which objection is taken. The words were uttered by Senator Cotton when he first took objection to them. At that point of time the words should have been taken down by the Clerk.
– I do not know what the words were.
– Some 10 minutes after objection has been taken is not the time when the senator who has objected should write down the words.
– The Senate is sensitive to the forms of argument used by Senator Georges. It is claimed that offensive words have been uttered by Senator Georges; it is claimed that they are offensive under standing order 418. All I say is that under standing order 418 I cannot order any retraction by Senator Georges, if I am inclined to do so, until I know what are the words to which objection is taken.
– The Clerk must take them down.
– The Clerk must not take them down. The senator taking the point of order and complaining must inform me what are the words to which objection is taken. I think we have gone far enough. I have warned you, Senator Georges, under standing order 418. Two honourable senators already have indicated that they are getting pretty apprehensive about the paths on which you are treading. I suggest that you should confine yourself to the Standing Orders and address your remarks to the object matter, which is the Budget and the amendment which has been moved to it. Now, on you go.
– Mr President, I refrain from speaking to the point of order because naturally I had the advantage of addressing you at length. 1 at least take the view that what I did imply, which seems to be so objectionable but which cannot be denned by either of the senators who have objected, was favouritism and patronage.
– Mr President, I raise another point of order. After Senator Georges’ remarks I fairly quickly said that what he said was something like this: He accused the Prime Minister and his Ministers, which includes me, of improper behaviour. I take exception to that. As nothing has been taken down, I have to rest upon the Hansard record tomorrow morning as the only record of what Senator Georges appeared to me to have said.
– Then I take it that the matter will be resolved tomorrow.
– I would prefer to resolve it tonight. Senator Georges, do you admit what Senator Cotton has said is what you said?
– I do not think Senator Cotton is aware of what I did say.
– What did you say about the Prime Minister?
– He is not game to say it.
– It is not a matter of not being game to say it because for the last 20 minutes I have been saying exactly what honourable senators opposite have been objecting to. But they are so sensitive to criticism of this sort that they have jumped up to take points of order in a premature way, not being aware of what they are-
– Order! Senator Georges, are you or are you not accusing the Prime Minister of improper motives? Yes or no.
– I am accusing the Prime Minister of patronage. I say that patronage is not, in effect, imputing improper behaviour. Patronage is a failing of a government that has been in power for far too long. Where is the improper motive when I assert favouritism or patronage?
– Order! For the purposes of avoiding any element of sophistication that might exist and in order that I may clear up this matter entirely, Senator Georges I ask you: Did you and are you imputing improper motives to the Prime Minister? All I want you to answer is yes or no.
– Mr President, we are at variance on definition. I am accusing the Prime Minister of patronage. If you rule that by accusing the Prime Minister of patronage I am accusing him of improper conduct in the strict parliamentary sense - if you define it that way - then perhaps I might consider withdrawing it.
– I am not going to involve myself in a question of semantics. What is disturbing honourable senators is whether or not you have offended against standing order 418. The matter engaging the interest of honourable senators is whether or not you are accusing the Prime Minister of improper motives. If you say that you are not accusing the Prime Minister of improper motives, the matter is gone. On the other hand, if you say that you are accusing the Prime Minister of improper motives, then I assume that honourable senators will take some further action. I cannot forecast what action they will take. The only way to clear up this matter is not to put a semantic proposition and to say that you are referring to patronage. I heard you use the word ‘patronage’. But the question about which a lot of honourable senators seem to feel fairly strongly is whether you are accusing the Prime Minister of improper motives. In order to allow me to proceed further, I want you to tell me whether in fact that is true. 1 want you to say yes it is true or no it it not true. If you just do that the whole problem will be solved very quickly.
– Mr President, I draw your attention to the standing order relating to the adjournment of the Senate.
– I am not prepared to put the motion for the adjournment of the Senate until the point of order has been resolved.
– I desire to speak to the point of order.
– You have already said enough.
– This is not to take sides in the question. As a keen observer, I seek to understand what the Standing Orders mean. Standing order 418 says:
No Senator shall use offensive words against either House of Parliament or any Member of such House, or of any House of a State Parliament, or against any Statute, unless for the purpose of moving for its repeal -
I pause there. A total prohibition is imposed. No member shall use offensive words against either House or any member unless for the repeal of some legislation. If anyone uses offensive words against either House or any member he contravenes the Standing Orders and I take it that appropriate action must be taken. But there is no prohibition against any member making imputations. The first part of standing order 418 states that no senator shall use offensive words. He cannot do it. It is a breach of the Standing Orders. But, turning to the remaining part of standing order 418, we find that it reads:
My point of order is based on the fact that there are certain things that a senator cannot do. There is a penalty for doing something that a senator cannot do. Possibly it is expulsion from the Senate. But there is no prohibition against imputations. These are considered highly disorderly.
– If the honourable senator looks at standing order 438 he will find that his argument falls to the ground.
– I will look at standing order 438. I am grateful for the interjection because it may lead to an understanding of the Standing Orders. Looking at standing order 418, I say that there is a definite distinction - I think Senator Rae will agree with me - between the use of offensive words and the making of imputations. Offensive words cannot be used; the making of imputations is highly disorderly. Senator Rae invites me to look at standing order 438. This standing order provides:
If any Senator-
persistently and wilfully obstructs the business of the Senate;
No-one suggests that Senator Georges has done that, and Senator Rae would agree with me on that -
– Paragraph (b) is the relevant one.
– Senator Georges has tried to push on to confirm his imputation. He is not obstructing the business of the Senate. He is not guilty of disorderly conduct.
– That is what it says about imputations; they are highly disorderly.
– Look, I have sympathy for Senator Little. He does not understand. Senator Rae may. No-one can say that the conduct of Senator Georges was disorderly in any direction.
– You just said that it was, if he made imputations.
– If the honourable senator looks at standing order 418 he will see that it is defined as such.
– Will you wait until Senator Little has finished? I appreciate your interjection, Senator Rae. I think we are both desirous of achieving understanding of the Standing Orders.
– If you now turn back to standing order 418 you will see that the conduct alleged to have been taken by Senator Georges is disorderly and therefore is offensive under standing order 438
– Senator Cavanagh, you will continue to address the Chair.
– But is not-
– Order! Senator Little, Senator Cavanagh is addressing the Chair.
– I am most appreciative of intelligent interjections because I think that we want to achieve an understanding of the Standing Orders. I am sure that if Senator Georges was in breach of them some action may be taken to rectify that position. To my mind at this stage he is not. As 1 take it, Senator Rae considers that standing order 438 (b) applies. This refers to a senator who is:
Guilty of disorderly conduct–
Senator Rae refers to disorderly conduct as mentioned in standing order 4t8. I do not know whether he means that a personal reflection on a member shall be considered highly disorderly and is therefore disorderly conduct. Standing order 438 provides that if a senator is guilty of disorderly conduct - the word ‘conduct’ is not used in standing order 418 - then the President-
– It must be.
– It must be? Well, I am not disputing that. But let me say: It may be. If it may be, the President may report to the Senate that such senator has committed an offence. The term which Senator Georges has used in discussing this question - and I agree that he has made serious imputations - is favouritism or patronage on the part of the Prime Minister. It is said that this could be interpreted as imputations against the Prime Minister. Surely the Standing Orders must at all times be for guidance. If the accusation was a wild one without any supporting proof, I think-
– There is not any supporting proof.
– Wait on. If it was a wild accusation without any supporting proof, I think there is a duty on the President to report to the Senate. But this argument must be reduced to insignificance when we note the fact that a senator elected by the people, of an Australian State has a firm belief that some big financial interest in Australia has escaped its obligations to meet its liability to pay towards the administration of this country because the members of that interest have some personal friend, someone who occupies a high position in the Cabinet, Not only has the senator a responsibility which raises his conduct above the Standing
Orders but also he has a responsibility to expose the matter to the Senate on this occasion. That is what has happened.
On this occasion Senator Georges, when he was interrupted, was in the process not only of making an imputation but also of supporting it by facts. What is now an imputation is factual. This can be so resolved. Senator Georges can be belittled or can be disgraced. It can be shown that he has no backing for his accusation. These things can happen if the Minister will answer the questions that Senator Georges has raised. Will the Minister answer these questions: Was an assessment made? Were representations made to the Prime Minister? Was the assessment withdrawn? What can a senator discharging his responsibility to the electors do when he feels that there is corruption in the Public Service other than to expose that corruption to this House under privilege for the purpose of obtaining a reply?
With all due respect to the point of order that has been raised, I suggest that Senator Georges is operating well within the ambit of standing order 418, that he has used no offensive words against either House of the Parliament, or any member of such House, or any House of a State parliament or against any statute, but that he has made imputations of improper motives and has personally reflected on a member. I think you have the right, Mr President, to consider that any disorderliness in what he has done is overcome by the fact that there is operating in this field something which justifies exposure to the public. Because the Prime Minister and the Liberal Government cannot stand up to it, the decision has been to exert pressure on Senator Georges to withdraw his remarks. It will stand on the records and until the question is answered it must so stand.
– Order! We are wandering in a semantic lignum swamp at the moment and could be here all night arguing about this. The facts are that the President must be obedient to the Standing Orders of the Senate. The President is no greater than the Standing Orders. I think this matter could be clarified simply if Senator Georges assures me that he is not imputing improper motives to the Prime Minister. If he does that the matter is solved. Senator Georges, are you imputing improper motives to the Prime Minister?
– I must seek your guidance, Mr President. Let me clearly and briefly state what I have implied. I have stated that when the Prime Minister was Minister for Foreign Affairs he exercised patronage in the purchase by his Department of Jetair aircraft. I said further that the Prime Minister exercised patronage in the matter of a tax assessment.
– Patronage is not necessarily
– Wait a moment.
– Order! Senator Georges, I am on my feet. You say ‘patronage’. Do you impute improper motives in the context of your use of the word patronage’?
– Of course he does.
– I do not want support from anyone whenI am trying to solve this problem.
– I would say that that sort of action on the part of any member of Parliament is highly improper.
– So there is an imputation of wrong doing. In those circumstances, Senator Georges, if you do not withdraw I must force myself into the position which I have never wished to achieve of naming an honourable senator.
– He has not been given an opportunity to withdraw.
– I have given him an opportunity to withdraw.
– As Acting Leader of the Government I call on Senator Georges to explain himself or apologise to the Senate.
– I would be remiss if I did not state my attitude when faced with this situation. I have stated previously that I would not deliberately seek to see myself excluded from this place, even for a short time, except on a matter of principle. I find myself having to decide whether I should withdraw my statement or my implication that the Prime Minister on 2 occasions exercised patronage.I ask you,
Mr President, to define whether in using that word I was guilty of accusing the Prime Minister of improper conduct. In my view, if I were accusing the Prime Minister of improper conduct, it would mean that I was accusing him, as was stated by an honourable senator by way of interjection - it was not said by me at any time - of corruption. This is the way that I would define improper conduct.
– On a transaction involving$2m of the Australian taxpayers’ money?
– I would term this to be improper conduct by a member of Parliament. If one were to refer to the exercise of patronage or favouritism, I doubt whether I would consider that to be improper conduct in this context. Therefore I would find it particularly hard to withdraw my statement that I believe that the Prime Minister on 2 occasions exercised patronage.
Senator DRAKE-BROCKMAN (Western Australia - Minister for Air) - Mr President. I think the explanation given by the honourable senator does not fit the occasion. He has not apologised. In those circumstances I have no alternative. I move:
– Mr President–
– There can be no debate on this motion.
That Senator Georges be suspended from the service of the Senate.
The Senate divided. (The President - Senator Sir Magnus Cormack)
Majority . . . . 6
In Division (Senator Keeffe interjecting) -
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
– 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.
– Before the Senate adjourns I rise on a point of order. During the division an audible interjection was heard from Senator Keeffe.I have taken down his words in writing. Senator Keeffe said: ‘….. ‘I ask you, Mr President, to ask for a withdrawal of that statement which is offensive to me.
– I ordered that any interjections made by any honourable senator in the course of the division be expunged from the record and I now reaffirm that.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The following answers to questions upon notice were circulated:
(Question No. 2053)
asked the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice:
What is the likely availability and cost of the various means of recording educational television programmes as considered by the Subcommittee comprising Commonwealth and State representatives on educational television.
– The PostmasterGeneral has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
Availability and estimated costs of various record/replay devices suitable for educational television programmes form part of the Report to Ministers from the special Committee on educational television. (See answe to Question No. 2055).
(Question No. 2054)
asked the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice:
Did meetings of the Minister for Education and Science the Postmaster-General and State Ministers for Education on educational television take place in 1967 and 1969; if so, when is it proposed that another such meeting shall take place.
– The PostmasterGeneral has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
Such meetings took place in 1966 and 1969. A date has not been set for a further meeting.
(Question No. 2055)
asked the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice:
– The PostmasterGeneral has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
(Question No. 2081)
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice:
Does the Minister propose to follow a previous precedent, in filling the vacancy on the Australian Broadcasting Commission caused by the death of Brigadier Masel, and have the replacement appointed for the balance of Brigadier Masel’s term, and when does the Minister expect to announce the name of the replacement.
– The PostmasterGeneral has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
As announced recently, Mr H. S. Lodge of Nedlands, Western Australia, has been appointed to the vacancy referred to, for a period of three wears as from 3rd August, 1972.
(Question No. 2180)
asked the Minister for Health, upon notice:
– The Acting Minister for Health has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
(Question No. 2181)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice:
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSONThe Minister for Defence has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
(Question No. 2225)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Industry, upon notice:
– The Minister for Trade and Industry has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
The official report of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development was issued in Geneva on 18th August. Copies have now been received by the Government.
I understand that the Parliamentary Library already holds a set of the Conference documents issued by the UNCTAD Secretariat and should receive the official report of the Conference soon. Accordingly the report of the Third Conference will be available through the Library for the information of honourable senators wishing to refer to it.
(Question No. 2265)
asked the Minister for Health, upon notice:
Under what quarantine regulations would the contemplated export of thoroughbred horses from the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics to Australia operate.
– The Acting Minister for Health has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question.
Australian quarantine legislation permits the importation of horses into Australia from the U.S.S.R. if-
These provisions are contained in Proclamation No. 76a and regulation 11 of the Quarantine (Animals) Regulations, made under the Quarantine Act 1908- 1969.
(Question No. 2277)
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice:
– The PostmasterGeneral has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
(Question No. 2278)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration, upon notice:
– The Minister for Immigration has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
(Question No. 2281)
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice:
– The PostmasterGeneral has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
(Question No. 2287)
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice:
Does the cost of satellite broadcasts cost about 50 per cent more on the down circuit into Australia than it does to sent on the up circuit to London; if so, what is the reason for the difference in costs.
– The PostmasterGeneral has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
In Australian dollars the present chargefor satellite television programmes between London and the satellite is $840 for the first 10 minutes and $25 for each minute thereafter; the charge between the satellite and Adelaide (through the Ceduna earth station) is $850 for the first 10 minutes and $40 for each minute thereafter. The difference that does exist mainly relates to the lower utilisation and consequential higher unit costs of the Australian earth station when compared with the more heavily loaded earth station in Britain. In addition there are different costs for the extensions from the earth stations to the terminals in London and Adelaide - the distance in Australia is longer than that in the United Kingdom
(Question No. 2302)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration, upon notice:
– The Minister for Immigration has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
(Question No. 2343)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Customs and Excise, upon notice:
What has been the outcome of the inquiry ordered by the Minister into the alleged rackets involving the smuggling of Australian wallabies, via New Zealand, for sale in the United States of America.
– The Minister for Customs and Excise has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
The Department of Customs and Excise has no evidence that wallabies were being smuggled out of Australia via New Zealand for sale in the United States.
However, it has been established that certain Australian type’ wallabies can be freely exported from New Zealand. These animals are descended from some exported to New Zealand about the middle of last century and are regarded as noxious under New Zealand law.
Following recent news reports the New Zealand Minister for Customs, the honourable G. F. Gair, issued the following statement on 22nd August 1972:
The New Zealand Customs has never discovered wallabies on ships or aircraft arriving from Australia. I cannot see any point or profit in running an illegal traffic from Australia to the United States of America through New Zealand when wallabies can be legally exported from New Zealand under the control and supervision of the New Zealand Forest Service. It is possible that the report arose because wallabies from New Zealand were mistaken for animals from Australia.’
(Question No. 2346)
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice:
– The PostmasterGeneral has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
(Question No. 2349)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice:
– The Minister for Shipping and Transport has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
(Question No. 2373)
asked the AttorneyGeneral, upon notice:
On what specific grounds did the AttorneyGeneral refuse to grant a fiat to the Defence of Government Schools group on Commonwealth assistance to private schools, and was he obliged to take into account the public interest in making the decision; if so what factors did he consider and, if not, to what extent was his decision influenced by the degree of substance in the groups’s challenge.
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
The question of the grant of a fiat by the Attorney-General is a matter that is within the discretion of the Attorney-General. The discretion is exercised on a basis that the Attorney-General represents the public interest.
I recognise, however, that there is a substantial difference between the situation in which the Attorney-General is asked to grant his fiat to ensure that public duties are performed and, thereby, to overcome a deficiency when a private citizen has no locus standi because the duty is owed to the public, and the situation where the Attorney-General is, in effect, asked to lend his name to proceedings for the purpose of challenging the constitutional validity of Commonwealth legislation. It is not appropriate, in my view, in the public interest, for the Attorney-General of the Commonwealth an grant his fiat in proceedings directed to establishing that Commonwealth Statutes are unconstitutional. So far as I am aware, no Attorney-General of the Commonwealth has ever granted his fiat for this purpose.
The exercise of the discretion does not depend merely on whether there is some degree of substance in the proposed proceedings, although I see no reason to question the validity of the legislation to which the application referred.
As I have said publicly at an earlier stage, my decision not to grant a fiat does not preclude a challenge being made to the legislation. It is possible for proceedings to be taken by the Attorney-General of a State, either on his own initiative, or on the relation of citizens of the State who claim that they are adversely affected by the Commonwealth legislation. The matter would, of course, be one for the discretion of the particular Attorney-General.
(Question No. 2363)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice:
Minister for Primary Industry has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
– rOn 23rd August 1972 Senator Douglas McClelland asked me the following question: -
Has Mr Bruce Petty, the famous -Australian cartoonist, been banned from making .any appearance on the programme ‘This Day Tonight’? Will the Minister ascertain who issued the ban and what was the reason for it? If the ban is in writing, will the Minister produce a copy of the document for the Senate?
The Postmaster-General has now furnished me with the following information in reply:
Mr Bruce Petty has not been . .banned from appearing in ‘This Day Tonight’ or in any other ABC programme.
Those responsible for the production of ‘This Day Tonight’ have simply been told that too many of Mr Petty’s cartoons have appeared in the programme and that in future they should not be used.
Senate adjourned at 10.52 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 12 September 1972, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1972/19720912_senate_27_s53/>.