27th Parliament · 2nd Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Magnus Cormack) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– I present the following petition from 6 citizens of the Commonwealth:
To the Honourable President and Members of the Senate in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully sheweth:
that, to allow true religious freedom, Government will make no law respecting religion, neither to prohibit the free exercise thereof nor to compel ,ne individual citizen to support the religion of others.
that nearly all non-State schools are church schools which to a greater or lesser degree promote a specific creed.
that, about 80 per cent of church schools are Roman Catholic schools, which Roman Catholic spokesmen explicitly state to be extensions of their church.
that, the use of Commonwealth funds to aid church schools compels :very taxpayer to finance the religion of others whether he wishes to, or not.
Your petitioners most humbly pray that the Senate in Parliament assembled will restore to the Australian people true religious freedom, which can exist only when Church and State are legally separated both in form and substance. And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray.
Petition received and read.
– 1 ask a question of the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration. He may not be able to answer but because of the interest in the matter I thought he might have some information. If not, I do not mind if the question goes to the Minister for Immigration. In view of the new immigration rules published in Britain which have the effect of treating Australian citizens in the same way as aliens, does the Government intend to alter its treatment of British citizens who come to Australia? In particular, does the Government have any plans to institute a work permit system for British citizens who come to Australia which will be similar to that which operates for Australians in Britain?
– As Senator Willesee somewhat anticipated, I am not in a position to answer that question. I am not sure what the new rules are. I do not know whether the Minister for Immigration has had any opportunity to consider them. Therefore I suggest that the appropriate course is to put the question on notice.
– My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Industry, ls it a fact that a company named Latem in Singapore is exporting louvres to Australia where they are marketed under the name of Tresco by W. P. Tresise and Co. Pty Ltd of Malvern, Victoria? Is it also a fact that the finished Singapore product is marketed in Queensland for more than 25 per cent below the cost of locally produced louvres? In the circumstances, what chance has the Australian manufacturing industry of competing particularly when these louvres are allowed in on a Hi per cent preferential tariff? Will the Minister investigate the position and, if necessary, review the tariff so as to give effective protection for the jobs of Australian workers?
– I do not know that any one of the matters raised by the honourable senator is a fact but one thing I do know is that we have had in this country a substantial export trade in louvres. I do not know what the present situation is in respect of that trade. However, 1 shall certainly take up with the Minister the specific matter of an inquiry into the problem, which the honourable senator has directed to me.
– I ask a question of the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport which is supplementary to other questions that have been asked about concrete sleepers. Is the Minister aware that there is a world trend towards the use of concrete sleepers for railway construction? Is he also aware that the recently released report of the Bureau of Transport Economics on the use of concrete and timber sleepers in railway construction and maintenance indicated that the average life of concrete sleepers is 50 years and pointed out that the British railway authorities have stated that it is becoming increasingly apparent that the life of such sleepers could even be extended to 100 years? Is it a fact that the life of timber sleepers without base plates is 18 years and with base plates an average of 20 years? Is it also a fact that the economics of installation and maintenance are strongly in favour of concrete sleepers?
– These interesting facts on the benefits of concrete sleepers versus timber sleepers I will have communicated to the responsible Minister.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Social Services whether he is aware that many people are deeply disturbed by the fact that the Government has not yet introduced legislation to effect the removal of the means test within 3 years and that many see the decision to establish yet another inquiry te decide the best way to abolish the means test as the possible start of more dithering and procrastination by the Government? Finally, does the Minister not feel that the departmental experts could easily follow examples well known in other countries and bring this country into line?
– I do not think that the course suggested by the honourable senator is the prudent course to adopt with regard to a measure so far-reaching in its consequences and possibly so burdensome to the public purse. The simple situation is that the Government has indicated that within the next 3 years, the life of the ensuing parliament, it proposes to abolish the means test as we have known it in this country for many years. That is a commitment in principle which will be honoured, but the means by which it will be done and the desirable method by which all economies in giving effect to the decision ian be achieved are surely appropriate matters to be studied by a committee. That is what the Government has decided should be done and a recent announcement was made about the committee. The honourable senator will appreciate that it is not a matter of dithering by the Government. The Government has followed for many years a conscious policy of directing the nation’s resources to the areas where the need is greatest and I think world opinion acknowledges that we have in relative terms reduced poverty in this country to a level which stands scrutiny against the record of other countries. Now that we have reached that stage we are in a position to go further and we are going further. But I think it is prudent to take the step of having the matter investigated and examined by a committee. Accordingly, the whole premise on which the honourable senator’s question is based is one which I would reject.
– Can the Minister for Works indicate whether the construction of a new Reserve Bank building in Hobart is to proceed? If so, can he say when construction will commence and whether all possible steps have been taken to use local materials to the maximum extent?
– The building referred to by the honourable senator has been designed and tenders have been called. The bank, which has the prerogative of announcing the acceptance of tenders, is expected to make its decision in the near future. Great efforts are being made to use local products in the construction of the building. I acknowledge the efforts made by Senator Rae, who asked the question, in that regard. Some Tasmanian enterprises have also put forward their claims and I can assure the honourable senator that every possible factor involved has been duly considered. I fully believe that the bank will deserve congratulations on the building design that has been adopted. It has made great efforts to establish a building facade that will match the very precious stone frontages that already adorn Macquarie Street where the bank building will be located.
– Is the Minister representing the Minister for Education and Science aware that of the numbers of students throughout Australia who commenced their secondary education in 1966 or 1967 only 26 per cent attending government schools enrolled for their final year in 1971 while the corresponding figure for non-Catholic, non-government schools was 81.7 per cent? Does the Minister acknowledge that those figures highlight the inequalities existing in Australian education today? If not, how does the Minister explain the marked differences shown by the figures?
– Economy of time and respect for the question require that I ask to see a question of that sort in writing and have a brief opportunity to refer it to the Department. A concise and careful answer will then be given.
– Can the Minister for Health inform the Senate of the number of working wives in Queensland who would be immediately disadvantaged and penalised by the Australian Labor Party’s proposed compulsory health tax which is currently set at 1.35 per cent of taxable income?
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSONI would have to obtain some statistics in order to be able to answer the question completely, but I feel bound to say that one has to be a pretty good foot runner to keep up with the variations in the proposals now being advocated. Until about a fortnight ago the proposal was - and it was clearly stated in speeches made - that there would be a ceiling of $100 and husband and wife were to be included. In 2 speeches to which I have since had my attention drawn the husband and wife provision has been eliminated. The fact is that if both husband and wife are earning they will each be taxed at the rate of 1.35 per cent of their taxable incomes. At present I am in the process of doing my arithmetic on what it would mean if the husband is in receipt of the the average weekly income and his wife has the income of even a stenographer. Even on those figures they would pay quite a high amount. I do not know how many working wives are in Queensland at present, or in any other State.
– My question, which I direct to the Minister for Civil Aviation, refers to recent representations made to him by the South Australian Premier and Minister of Roads and Transport in connec tion with the operations of TransAustralian Airlines within South Australia, the request being made that TAA should be allowed to operate freely in competition with Ansett Airlines. In view of the newly introduced legislation in relation to the 2- airline policy, has consideration of the application by the South Australian Government been cancelled out? Is the matter still receiving consideration? Can the Minister indicate when he may be able to determine the matter?
– I have looked this matter up. The letter that came was from the Premier of South Australia. The Premier requested consideration by the Government of the right for Trans-Australia Airlines to operate within South Australia. We are giving consideration to. this request. In no way will the 2-airIine policy legislation that will come before this chamber upset that. It is a quite clear cut arrangement. In the first case these are matters substantially for State, sovereignty and, secondly, for the operators concerned to pick up the opportunity. Without any doubt we have an interest in extending the chances for TAA to. operate its airline fleet throughout Australia. It ought to be remembered that opportunities exist for the airline to operate in Tasmania but it has tended not to pick up those opportunities. The general consideration that I have is, as far as possible, to give equality of opportunity but, having done that, it is very much a commercial judgment for the operator. In no way need the honourable senator be concerned about that.
Senator MULVIHILL^ ask the Minister representing the Minister for Education and Science whether, in view of the growing concern at the threat to the environment involved in the intensive use of the poison 1080, he can advise what progress has been made by the . Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial .Research Organisation in the research field to provide a less lethal substitute.
– Following requests from State governments and the Commonwealth Government, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation has appointed an officer to carry out research into the effect on native fauna of the poison 1080. At the moment attention is being concentrated on the side effects of this poison as used in baiting programmes against dingoes in the eastern highlands. The studies must be of a long term nature to ensure that the changes observed in the population numbers of the fauna species are not due to normal seasonal and yearly fluctuations. This work has been in progress for one year-. Studies of this nature seldom provide substantial results in fewer than 5 years.
My question, which refers to unemployment, is directed to either the Minister representing the Minister for Social Services or the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral. I preface my question by saying that an official of the Australian Workers Union has advised me that in outlying areas around Gunnedah application forms for unemployment and sickness benefits have been called in from and are no longer available at post offices serving the districts and unemployed workers have to travel to Gunnedah in an endeavour to obtain relief work there or for the purpose of registering for unemployment. In view of the serious failure of the wheat crops in the northwest and west of New South Wales, will the Government take action to ensure that application forms for unemployment and sickness benefits are available at all post offices throughout Australia?
– I am unaware of what the honourable senator alleges, or whether there is any basis for the information which has been given to him. I would have thought unquestionably that, if there is a need for persons to register for unemployment and to fill out the necessary forms, they should be able to have access to those forms. I can only say that I will refer the question to the Minister for Social Services in order that he may investigate the matter and take what rectifying action is necessary, if any such action is required.
– I ask the Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Securities and Exchange whether the now bankrupt mining exploration company, Nickelfields of Australia (NL), has been listed by the Committee for investigation. Has one of its directors, Senator I. A. C. Wood, been invited to give evidence? Has any other director been requested to give evidence? If no evidence has been called for, is it a fact that there will be no investigation of the affairs of this company, including the loss of large sums of shareholders’ funds?
– Order! I will give consideration to this question and call Senator Rae later.
– May I say something to you for your consideration?
– After some questions were asked on another occasion, I raised with the Committee of which I am the Chairman the matter of answering questions. 1 believe that a practice which the Senate should adopt would be to enable such questions to be put on notice, discussed by the Committee and answered on behalf of the Committee.
– That is a matter that 1 have under consideration. I defer ruling on that question until later.
– I direct my question to the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral. Does the Minister not see the resignation of the Australian Broadcasting Commission’s director of current affairs, Mr Lachlan Shaw, to be a clear pointer to the great dissatisfaction among the staff of the current affairs department of the Australian Broadcasting Commission about political interference? As Mr Shaw gave political interference as his reason for resigning, does the Minister still deny that great pressure is being applied to ABC current affairs programmes in an attempt to make them conform to Government thinking?
– I think that Senator O’Byrne’s question carries a vice to which many members of his Party are currently prone. That vice is to make an allegation lacking any factual basis and being completely unsubstantiated, and then to seek comment upon it from a Minister.
The point of this tactic is to give publicity to that which has absolutely no foundation and thereby to suggest impropriety in some area. As I understand the position, the Postmaster-General has said constantly that there is no political interference by him with the functioning of the Australian Broadcasting Commission and nobody - I emphasise ‘nobody’ - in the Opposition making this sort of allegation has ever produced a tittle of evidence to suggest that there has been interference. I still challenge any member of the Opposition to show that what Sir Alan Hulme stated publicly on television last week-end was untrue. He categorically asserted that as Postmaster-General he had never interfered with the Commission. I know that that challenge cannot be taken up.
As far as I am aware from reading Press reports, the gentleman whose resignation from the Australian Broadcasting Commission has now been accepted has not given any reason for resigning. If Senator O’Byrne knows that he has said that it was because of political interference, I would be grateful to him if he passed the information on to me. Then we will be able to examine what he means by that. I feel that this general slur, that in some way the ABC has been politically interfered with by the Government or the Minister, is one that is made without anything to back it. Nothing is ever given to support the suggestion. I repeat that the Australian Broadcasting Commission is an independent and autonomous body. It has control of its programmes. The obligation of all persons employed by the Commission, as the Chairman of the Commission has said, is to accept the authority of management in the Commission or to get out.
(Senator O’Byrne having addressed a supplementary question to the AttorneyGeneral)
– Order! I have ruled in the past that honourable senators asking questions based on newspaper reports must vouch for the accuracy of the reports. Do you vouch for the accuracy of this report, Senator O’Byrne?
– The question will go on notice.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for the Environment, Aborigines and the Arts. Is it a fact that with the extension of clean air Acts in all States and with the tightening of regulations in respect of air pollution emanating from industrial complexes the cost of pollution control equipment will represent an increasingly greater part of total investment for new plant in Australia, with consequent product price increases to the public? As more effective control of air pollution is now a most urgent matter, will he ask the Minister to give further and serious consideration to the recommendations of the Senate Select Committee on Air Pollution which relate to extensions of taxation investment allowances and accelerated depreciation allowances on pollution control equipment. Including chimney stacks? .
– I take it that the question is directed to me as representing the Minister for the Environment, Aborigines and the Arts, although I imagine that the question should be directed to the Minister representing the Treasurer. I will convey the honourable senator’s sentiments to the Minister whom I represent.
-1- I direct a question to .the Attorney-General. On what date was the latest Croatian newspaper digest translation forwarded to him for perusal?
– I am at a loss to answer the honourable ‘ senator’s question because I am not sure what he means by a digest. From time to time I have referred to me translations of newspapers which, in the original form, are in SerboCroat. I read them because of the points in them which are directed to me for attention. I assure the honourable senator that they do not make pleasant reading. As this is one of the problems which I confront almost daily, I am not sure when I last read one. A number of such translations have come to me in recent times, some containing accounts of what people are alleged to have seen and said in Australia. I know that some of those accounts are completely untrue because they refer to me. They are given wide circulation in and outside Australia. Some of them do cause hurt to people and they complain about it. Other matters come to me simply on the basis of a request for me to examine them to see whether any offence has been committed. That is the general pattern. I am not sure whether the honourable senator is concerned about the precise date when I last saw one. I hope that the substance of my answer gives him the general information that he is seeking.
– Is the Minister for Air aware of a report by the senior health inspector of the Werribee Shire Council which states that the Royal Australian Air Force is dumping inadequately treated effluent into Port Phillip Bay and that the effluent has a bacterial count more than 6 times the allowable maximum? What steps will the Minister take to ensure an immediate halt to the discharge of effluent which contravenes the stream pollution regulations and which is, to quote the report, potentially dangerous to swimmers?
– I have not had any representations from the Werribee Shire Council, but at all times the Royal Australian Air Force works closely with local government authorities and does whatever it can to assist them. Recently I received similar complaints from a shire. I asked the officer commanding to get in touch with the shire. Everything was straightened out. The department makes every effort to assist the local authorities. I will certainly look into the matter see what I can ascertain and let the honourable senator have further information on the matter.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for the Army and/or the Minister representing the Minister for Defence. Is it a fact that re-naming the new Army helicopters after a tribe of Aborigines in the electorate of the Minister for the Army, Mr Katter, will cost taxpayers an estimated $70,000? Is it also true that the high cost of changing the name has caused a stir in Army circles which have nicknamed the helicopters Kattercopters in the same way fis the new Army haircut is known as the
Kattercut Why was the decision taken to spend such a large amount of public money on what appears to be an election gimmick? Who was responsible for the decision to expend approximately $70,000?
– I did see a newspaper report in which it was alleged that $62,000 had been spent-
– That is $62,000 plus $10,000 plus.
– We will take all the pluses. I just want to say to the honourable senator that 1 made inquiries. It is my understanding that there is no substance whatsoever in the report. There is no requirement to change any technical or procurement documents as a result of a change in name and no such costs have been incurred. The honourable senator is interjecting. Apparently he does not want to hear what I have to say.
– Order! The question will be put on notice.
– I want to get the answer across Mr President. The estimated cost of the renaming ceremony was $1,530. This involved some expenditure in bringing certain servicemen from Brisbane and Townsville to Mount Isa where the ceremony took place. The cost of fuel for the helicopter which was flown there was not taken into consideration because that helicopter normally would have been on exercises somewhere else if it had not gone to Mount Isa. There is no foundation whatsoever in the question that the honourable senator asks.
– I direct a question to the Attorney-General. Does the Australian Government have any objection to the existence in Australia of organisations of former overseas nationals from countries under dictatorships, such organisations supporting the freedom and autonomy of their country, provided that they do not resort to violence and do not break the laws of this country?
– The way in which Senator McManus has expressed his question affords me the opportunity to say quite categorically that the Government has no such objection. There is no objection because this is a country which values and seeks to uphold the freedoms which have attracted so many people to it. We believe in freedom of association. Freedom of association means that peoples can group themselves together in pursuit of objectives which they regard as legitimate and as binding them together. Undoubtedly, those persons who are refugees in this country from communist rule in their own countries are entitled to band together in this country to maintain the ideals that they value. The important fact - I notice that Senator McManus made this point - is that any organisation that acts contrary to law or resorts to violence is an organisation that will feel the full force of the law’s impact. But provided organisations act within the law they have a right which comes from the freedom in this country to associate together. That is a view that this Government has always upheld and which it will continue to uphold.
– 1 direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for National Development. I refer to the agreement between the Commonwealth and the States in regard to the administration by a designated authority of the Submerged Lands Act and the control of ownership of hydrocarbon reserves in areas under its control. Does the Minister believe that adequate control of these areas is being maintained in the interests of the Australian people? Is it a fact that where the ownership of an exploration lease of submerged lands is in the hands of a company which has share capital and the ownership of those shares is transferred to another person or company, the designated authority takes little interest in the transfer and, in fact, does not interfere in the r transfer of the title? Is this the situation in regard to the exploration permit on the northwest shelf of Australia and so the vast hydrocarbon reserves which were until recently held predominantly by Australian interests?
– I do not have, as I * once would have had, a fairly accurate idea of the situation to which the honourable senator refers. At a certain part of my life I took a deep interest in it. Therefore, s I am interested in the honourable senator’s question and the implications that flow out of it. I think the proper course for me to adopt is to refer the question to the responsible Minister. I am restraining myself from giving my own opinion.
– Is the
Minister representing the Minister for Social Services able to state whether there has been a satisfactory response to the notices sent to pensioners by the Department of Social Service advising of the extension of eligibility to wives of pensioners? Can he inform the Senate why the notices did not refer to the supplementary assistance now payable to married couples who pay rent or board or lodging?
– I cannot give the answer in the particularity which the honourable senator seeks without reference to the Minister for Social Services. I express my answer in that way because I think we all know that recently the Department of Social Services circulated or published information about the extended benefits which were available, and as a result of that publicity there has been an increase of several hundred per cent in the normal rate of flow of applications into the Department. Whereas there was a general rate of flow of approximately 2,000 a week, as I understand the position the figure increased to a level of 15,000 a week only a matter of 2 or 3 weeks ago. Of course, one consequence of that is that it has imposed an impossible work load upon the officers of the Department of Social Services in trying to deal with all the applications as speedily as they would like. That is the general position.
Whether the particular matters to which the honourable senator refers were included in the general information contained in the publicity which the Department promoted is a matter upon which I would have to get detailed information. I will convey the question to the Minister whom I represent with a view to his supplying the information to the honourable senator.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral. Is it not a fact that Sir Robert Madgwick, the Chairman of the Australian
Broadcasting Commission, was a witness before a Senate inquiry into all aspects of Australian radio and television in June last? Is it a fact that when giving evidence on oath - I repeat on oath - Sir Robert stated that there was no political interference with ABC programming either from the present Government or from the Opposition? Is it a fact that the ABC Commissioners have virtually conceded the validity of the Government’s complaints against ‘This Day Tonight’ bias by releasing its guidelines for fairness about a month ago, such guidelines having previously been issued to the ‘This Day Tonight’ staff prior to the Government complaint? Is it a fact that despite these guidelines the ABC ‘This Day Tonight’ programme a few nights ago descended to the use of an anonymous hooded terror, a dark shadow, to peddle the Australian Labor Party line on Jetair and make a vicious and wholly fallacious attack on the Government in respect thereof?
– I am indebted to the honourable senator’s reference to the evidence given by Sir Robert Madgwick to a Senate committee. I have perused that evidence and in my earlier answer I had omitted to use it as a further point to establish or to nail the falsity of the allegation constantly coming from members of the Opposition that there is political interference by the Government with the Australian Broadcasting Commission. The Postmaster-General has denied it, and denied it publicly, on many occasions in the House of which he is a member, but apparently that makes no impact upon members of the Opposition. Sir Robert Madgwick, the Chairman of the Commission, has denied it, but apparently that makes no impact upon members of the Opposition. They have a preconceived line that there must be political interference, and they peddle it notwithstanding the denials by the persons who should know. As I say, I am indebted to Senator Hannan for referring to the sworn evidence of Sir Robert Madgwick, nailing the particular matters to which the Opposition refers.
I think it is implicit also in the fact that the Australian Broadcasting Commission has established guidelines for the conduct of current affairs programmes that it saw a need to control the situation by the issue of such guidelines. I would have thought that a situation must have existed which warranted that course of conduct being taken. As for the broadcast on last Thursday night, affairs in this country have reached a sorry state when an ABC current affairs programme has to resort to the tactic of using a person who does not have the courage to present his face or to give his name when denying facts which have been made by responsible Ministers who have access to them. As 1 say, it was a deplorable exercise and we will wait with interest to see what the Australian Broadcasting Commission says about it.
– My . question is directed to the Minister’ representing the Minister for Social Services. Is it the intention of the Government to close the 2 Commonwealth rehabilitation centres in Victoria, one being Maryport at Mount Eliza and the other Coonac in Toorak? Ff it is, what are the reasons for this decision? Further, what provision has been made to replace these 2 centres to cater not only for those who are currently receiving assistance there but also for the additional numbers who have been on waiting lists for many months?
– I have no knowledge of the matters to which the honourable senator has referred and I do not know whether there is any basis to what he suggests. It is a matter upon which I think he must direct his question to the Minister for Social Services and I suggest that he put his., question on notice so that the Minister can look at it.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Postmaster-General. In view of the Minister’s earlier assertion in the form of a belief, when replying to Senator O’Byrne, that no reason was in fact given by Mr Lachlan Shaw for his resignation as director of current affairs of the Australian Broadcasting Commission, will he ascertain from the Commission the reasons as stated by Mr Shaw for his resignation and make them available to this Parliament? Further, has the Minister seen a report that a management staff committee of the Commission has circulated a 54- page questionnaire to officers and that one question asks whether attempted political interference in the workings of the ABC is non-existent, rare, frequent or continual? When the answers to this question are available will the Minister see whether this information also can be made available to the Parliament?
– Whether the Commission is able to make information available depends, I would think, upon a request being made by the PostmasterGeneral. Whether the Postmaster-General will make that request I would also feel depends upon the character of the information sought. I will certainly convey the honourable senator’s requests to the PostmasterGeneral. However, I point out that if the gentleman Who has resigned desires to keep the reasons for his resignation confidential - I do not know whether he does or not, but it may that he does - it is a very moot point whether by questions in this Parliament a person’s privacy can be invaded to that extent. Obviously that is an aspect which the Australian Broadcasting Commission would consider. I would point out to the honourable senator that when on other occasions members of the Labor Party plead for protection of privacy they ought also to remember that there are occasions when they seek to invade privacy. All I say is that I said earlier that I had a belief that Mr Shaw had not given the reasons for his resignation. My basis for that belief is a statement in a newspaper this morning indicating that he had not given his reasons and the fact that I had not on any early occasion seen any reasons attributed to him. I say in conclusion that the statement which Senator O’Byrne referred to subsequent to my answer to him was not a statement of political interference: It was a statement of top level interference - and that is of course a totally different matter. But, after all, accuracy in those matters is probably one of the last things which one can expect from honourable senators opposite.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior whether he will encourage the Minister for the Interior to support the application which is before the Public Service Arbitrator for a 20 per cent salary increase to secretaries of senators and members of the House of Representatives who are paid a deplorably low salary having regard to the nature of their work and the responsibilities imposed on them.
– I am quite sure that the Minister needs no encouragement from me, but I shall direct the honourable senator’s query to him.
– I ask the AttorneyGeneral: Where agreements exist between a Federal Government commercial undertaking and private or public companies or a group of private or public companies for the purpose of maintaining an agreed fixed resale or retail price, is it considered to be in the public interest for such agreements to come under the scrutiny of or to be referred to the Trade Practices Commissioner?
– I would like to help the honourable senator by giving him as precise an answer as I can. I do not feel that I can do so. I think his question was designed to ascertain whether agreements of the character which he mentioned should, in the public interest, come under the trade practices legislation. Whether such agreements do come under the trade practices legislation is strictly a matter for interpretation of the provisions of the statute. I think it would be imprudent to venture a legal opinion even if I were not to offend against the Standing Orders in doing so. But I will have a look at the question in Hansard and if I can give any general information to the honourable senator I shall do so.
– I ask the Leader of the Government in the Senate whether he is aware that donations to the Papua New Guinea famine appeal are still well below the target of $2m. Will the Minister consider bringing into the Senate before we rise on Friday a special statement appealing for support for funds? Will he also discuss with his colleagues the possibility of contributing from government funds additional food and money to the appeal?
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSONIn relation to bringing into the Senate some particulars about the appeal, I shall properly refer the question to the relevant Minister. Quite obviously any variation in contribution by the Government will be dealt with by the relevant Minister, who is the Minister for External Territories. As I understand the position this will be done in collaboration with the Treasurer and the Prime Minister’s Department. But the question as asked this morning will be processed by me and forwarded to the relevant departments. Then the matter will be taken up from there.
– Earlier this morning Senator Keeffe asked a question of Senator Rae who is the Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Securities a.id Exchange. As promised, I have given consideration to the matter. The matter of asking questions of chairmen of committees is now before the Standing Orders Committee. A great deal of research has been done. This is one of 23 papers which the Standing Orders Committee has to consider. Previously I have ruled on this matter to the extent that, in the interim, chairmen of committees are not authorised to answer questions addressed to them in the Senate except on the basis that they answer on behalf of the committee and not on behalf of themselves. I therefore rule that Senator Rae is not to answer the question. He may give consideration to the question as asked and take it to his committee. I have a distinct recollection that there were some adverse inferences in the question which were directed against an honourable senator. These are matters which are highly disorderly. They are to be deprecated and I will not allow them.
– The next matter I wish to deal with is a question which was asked of me by Senator Keeffe yesterday. It relates to the uniforms of attendants stationed at the front entrance to the building. It is a fact that the uniforms issued to this group of attendants are nearing the end of their life and that they are due for replacement. However, because of delays in securing delivery of uniforms these attendants have not yet been outfitted. A second consideration which has arisen since is that the designs of the uniforms should be altered. That matter has been held up pending the consideration by Mr Speaker of the style of uniforms for attendants of the House of Representatives. When new staff uniforms are ordered consideration will be given to having them made in a light weight summer cloth of much the same nature as that used in uniforms now worn by Senate attendants. The matter is under consideration and I give an undertaking to have a decision on it speeded up as quickly as I possibly can.
– Answers have been received to questions on .notice. The first question is No. 2296 standing in the name of Senator Devitt.
– I ask the AttorneyGeneral:
When the economic progress and development of one State is threatened by the high level of freight costs, could this be construed as a contravention of the constitutional guarantees of equality of opportunity and treatment of the States and of freedom of trade, commerce and intercourse among the States? Will the AttorneyGeneral examine the implications of the Australian National Line shipping freights in the light of the serious threats to Tasmania’s economic progress and stability?
– The honourable senator’s question really invites a legal opinion and, I would have thought, a legal opinion of a character which I should not even attempt to give. Initial impressions are quite against any such construction. Senator Devitt asked me a question upon notice dealing with the subject some little time ago and I now have the answer to that question and will give it this morning. I feel that when he has read that answer he may be better assisted..
– I think that Senator Greenwood has misunderstood the situation. I understood that we were now asking questions upon notice but evidently that is not the Attorney-General’s understanding. I am sorry to have to correct him but it seems to be necessary.
– My impression is that the Attorney-General has an answer to question No. 2296 standing in Senator Devitt’s name.
– I must apologise. I thought we were still on questions without notice. At least I recalled that there was a question upon notice similar to the question Senator Devitt has asked. I now give the answer to the question on notice and it is as follows:
The question could not be answeredwithout giving a legal opinion. However, I should add that I am unaware of any interpretation of the Constitution that would prevent operators charging rates at a level based on ordinary business considerations. I am not to be taken as accepting that, as the question suggests, the economic progress and development of one State are threatened by the high level of freight costs. These are matters that lie outside my portfolio as AttorneyGeneral.
– Is it desired to postpone or rearrange the business of the Senate?
– I do not propose to rearrange Government Business.
Motion (by Senator Murphy) agreed to:
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the Leader of the Opposition from moving a motion relating to the order of business on the notice paper.
– I move:
The motion relates to the Commonwealth Electoral Bill, known as the 18-year-olds voting Bill.
(11.27) -I indicate, as I did yesterday, that the Government will resist the proposal. I said in good faith originally that I would try within the possibilities to allow the matter to come on before the Senate went into recess, as I said I would do with a matter put forward by the Democratic Labor Party. I can say no more than that at present, other than that the Government must resist the motion again today.
That the motion (Senator Murphy’s) be agreed to.
The Senate divided. (The President - Senator Sir Magnus Cormack
Majority . . . . 6
Question resolved in the negative.
– I table a paper on Family Courts in North America’ prepared by Mr G. J. F. Yuill, Senior Assistant Secretary (Family Law, Bankruptcy and Bills of Exchange), Attorney-General’s Department. I ask for leave to make a statement in respect thereof.
– Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– This paper sets out information obtained by Mr Yuill when he visited North America a year or so ago on a United Nations fellowship for which he had been nominated by my Department. Family law is one of the areas of Mr Yuill’s departmental responsibilities. In the course of his visit to North
America Mr Yuill visited courts in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego, Honolulu, Milwaukee and Toronto. The activities of these courts are all discussed in his paper.
The term ‘family courts’ is in common use these days as though it had a generally understood meaning. However, the persons who use the term have widely differing ideas as to what constitutes a family court. Mr Yuill’S paper is particularly us& fu! in indicating just what is in fact involved in some family courts that are actually functioning. Honourable senators will recall that earlier this year I tabled a report by Mr Justice Jenkyn of the Supreme Court of New South Wales, who had spent some time in England observing the working of the new divorce ground of irretrievable breakdown of marriage. J regarded Mr Justice Jenkyn’s report as a useful document that would assist persons who wished to engage in public debate on the merits of the English Act. I regard Mr Yuill’s paper in the same light. Mr Yuill’s paper has already been made available by my Department to the Senate Standing Committee on Constitutional and Legal Affairs to assist that Committee in its consideration of family law reform. In view, however, of the considerable public interest in family courts that is currently being expressed in many quarters, I have concluded that the desirable course is to make the paper available to all interested persons.
The conclusions reached by Mr Yuill are set out in paragraphs 89 to 96 of his report. He states, in paragraph 91, his belief that family courts would be a desirable improvement to Australia’s legal system, provided they have an ancillary function of counselling. He suggests in paragraph 96 that the Californian type reconciliation procedure, before petition for divorce, is worthy of consideration, perhaps as a pilot project in the Australian Capital Territory. These views are, of course, Mr Yuill’s own personal views. As the desirability and practicability of establishing family courts is a matter that is necessarily involved in the consideration the Senate Standing Committee on Constitutional and Legal Affairs is giving to family law reform, it would be inappropriate for me at this stage to make any recommendation to the Government as to whether or not a family court or family courts should be established. The nature of the tribunal that should deal with matrimonial and family matters is a subject that is engaging the Committee’s specific attention. It is not my intention to make any such recommendation until the Standing Committee has submitted its report and I have had an opportunity to give it appropriate consideration. In the meantime, both I and my Department are studying the paper, and will read with interest any public discussion of the report that takes place.
– by leave - No doubt the Senate will be pleased to have the paper which has been tabled by the Attorney-General (Senator Greenwood). It comes within the scope of a reference to the Senate Standing Committee on Constitutional and Legal Affairs. The reference related to the law and administration of divorce, family and custody matters, with particular regard to delays, indignities, oppressive costs and other injustices. 1 suggest that this paper be taken into account by the Committee.
– ft already has been given to the Committee.
– The AttorneyGeneral indicates that the paper has been sent to the Committee already so no special motion is necessary. I did not intend that there should be a particular inquiry into this paper, but we need some easy means by which we can send to the relevant committee documents such as this which come within the general purview of a committee without requiring that a special report be made on each occasion. In the light of what has been indicated by the AttorneyGeneral on this occasion I do not suggest that any motion be moved specifically to deal with the matter.
– Pursuant to section 10 of the Science and Industry Endowment Act 1926-49, I present the report of the AuditorGeneral on the accounts of the Science and Industry Endowment Fund for the year ended 30th June 1972.
– By command of His Excellency the GovernorGeneral I lay upon the table the following paper:
Advance to the Treasurer, statement for the year 1971-72 of Heads of Expenditure and the amounts charged thereto pursuant to section 36a of the Audit Act 1901-69.
That consideration of the statement in Committee of the Whole be made an orderof the day for the next day of sitting.
– BROCKMAN (Western Australia - Minister for Air) - For the information of honourable senators I present the official report of the Australian Parliamentary Delegation to Japan and Korea.
– I present the following papers:
Audit Act - Supplementary Report of the Auditor-General upon other accounts, for year ended 30th June 1972.
– Pursuant to clause 8 of the Sugar Agreement 1969, I present the report on the operations of the Fruit Industry Sugar Concession Committee for the year ended 30th June 1972, together with the Committee’s financial statements and the Auditor-General’s report on those statements.
– Pursuant to section 8 of the Poultry Industry Assistance Act 1965-66, I present the seventh annual report on the operation of the Act for the year ended 30th June 1972.
– Mr President, I bring up report No. 1 of the Select Committee on Foreign Ownership and Control of Australian resources.
Ordered that the report be printed.
– I move:
I would like to speak very briefly to that motion. The Committee has worked willingly and hard since it was set up earlier this year and we have much pleasure in presenting this report this day. This is a subject about which it is easy to sloganise but about which it is difficult to obtain facts.I think honourable senators will be interested in reading the report which we believe is based on evidence and not on mere emotion. I regret that Senator Cant is not present today when the report has been presented. It is a matter of personal regret that due to what one trusts is temporary illness he is not present, because he has worked very hard. We know that he always has been a very good committeeman. I express my personal regret at his absence today through causes beyond his control.
– I share the sentiments expressed by Senator Withers about the absence of Senator Cant. As the motion moved by Senator Withers will allow a full discussion on this important interim report to take place, at this stage I would not like to embark upon what would necessarily be a somewhat lengthy discussion. I anticipate that before it rises the Senate will have an opportunity to discuss the subject, especially as the subject is related to a paper which was presented some time earlier and in relation to which an undertaking was given that there would be time for discussion. May I take it that the discussion on this report could take place at the same time as the discussion on the general matter which was contained in the statement made some weeks ago? I would anticipate that the Senate would have an opportunity of resuming the discussion on this report. I now ask for leave to continue my remarks.
– I express my regret at the temporary absence of Senator Cant, which absence, we hope, will be of short duration, and to express my personal gratification, as the one who moved the motion with which the Senate concurred for the establishment of the Senate Select Committee on Foreign Ownership and Control, at the speed with which a report of such moment, of such consequence and so definitive in many of its conclusions is presented. I agree that to attempt to discuss the report at this stage would be undesirable, but I have very strong doubts about whether appropriate debate on this matter, in the light of the White Paper presented recently, could be accomplished in the balance of the present parliamentary session. I think the report is too important and too far reaching for the Senate to contemplate that the debate could be accomplished with any effectiveness, however desirable it might be, in that time. I offer my thanks to the executive officers who have assisted the Committee for the work that they have done in creating the infrastructure, in the presentation of the report and for their contribution in the accumulation of evidence and the establishment of procedures for the functioning of the Committee. I hope that a full debate will take place at the most appropriate time, but I cannot agree that the report could be considered in the very short balance of the present parliamentary session.
I have asked a question of you, Mr President, about the continuation of the functions of the Senate despite the dissolution of the House of Representatives. I think you said that you would make a statement on that before the Senate rises.
– I gave that undertaking.
– Yes, you did. This important Committee will be in recess pending the good will of the re-assembly of the House of Representatives. I have doubts whether the Senate should function in that way.
– With respect, you are canvassing another matter now.
– I am merely making those observations. Therefore, if it were possible for the Senate to remain in some sort of operation, the work of the Committee could continue. I hope that that can be accomplished. Mr President, I await with interest the statement which you propose to make to the Senate before it rises. As the one who moved for the establishment of the Committee, I welcome the report of the Committee.
Debate (on motion by Senator Withers) adjourned.
– In accordance with the provision of paragraph 10(a) of the resolution appointing the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs I inform the Senate that, at the request of the Minister for Foreign Affairs, the Committee has reported to him on the following reference:
What is the most effective form of aid- bilateral or multilateral.
Ordered that the report be printed.
– I bring up a progress report from the Senate Standing Committee on Education, Science and the Arts.
Ordered that the report be printed.
– I ask for leave to make a statement relating to the report.
– Is leave granted? There being no objection leave is granted.
– When I spoke to the Senate on 1 June this year I indicated something of the progress that the Senate Standing Committee on Education, Science and the Arts had made since it commenced its work on the current reference relating to all aspects of television and broadcasting. I said in that statement that we had commenced our task in this inquiry and outlined some of the details of the next steps which we then proposed to undertake. Today I present a progress report on behalf of the Committee. At the outset I take a moment to clear up a point of terminology relating to the wording of the reference. We have decided to use the term ‘broadcasting’ in its generic sense to cover both radio and television. Where one or other is meant we use the words ‘radio’ or ‘television’ as the case may be. In doing this we are adapting to overseas usage. We make a plea for the adoption of this form of usage in order to avoid confusion. For example, we have in Australia a Broadcasting and Television Act. But we also have the Australian Broadcasting Control Board which deals with both radio and television. The usage in this report is in line with our intentions.
I think it needs to be said that this is the first inquiry into the comprehensive field of broadcasting since the advent of television. Other inquiries have been conducted into separate fields and, taken together, they have done most valuable work. However, this inquiry has a value which is distinctive. Firstly, it is a comprehensive inquiry and is designed not only to cover the technical and cultural fields but also to take into account the tremendous social impact of radio and television in all their forms. Secondly, it is taking place against a background of world-wide development in the whole field of communications. Indeed, there is probably no more important area of human activity today than communications Within that area radio and television are the great developments of this century. It is noteworthy that our subject has received a great deal of attention from legislative and executive bodies throughout the world. So the Australian Senate is by no means alone in its concern to examine the subject.
Our progress report gives an account of our approach to the reference and the various steps taken during the course of the inquiry to date. In order that we might present this type of report at this time and that we might give to the Senate an appropriate account of our stewardship we decided to invite a selected cross-section of witnesses to give evidence. This has had the effect of opening some main issues and has given the Committee some guidelines relating to its next steps. However, there are 2 matters on which we have come out fairly specifically in our progress report. Firstly, we do not think that enough research has been done into the social science side of broadcasting in Australia. On the technical side, we believe our standards are reasonably high and the research backing appears to be good. But we are presently faced with complex social questions such as the effect on viewers of televised violence, the most appropriate advertising standards to adopt in the best interests of the community and a whole host of other questions equally difficult. The position becomes more complex when we try to anticipate the social effects of future developments such as cable television. The more we know of these developments and their influences the better equipped we will be able to make recommendations that are sound and in the best interests of the people of this country.
There are also some problems involved in the commercial and economic section of the industry on which there is a dearth of information and analysis. It is an area in which there are marked sectional interests and some objective assessment will be of enormous value to all concerned. So we believe that some sort of independent research body should be established io study the whole field of broadcasting. It could be part of a wide organisation set up to study all mass media because the relationships between all the media are strong. A method of financing and direction would need to be adopted which would ensure independence of its research in this critical area. In saying this, I do hot imply, and the Committee does not believe, that any problems arising during this .inquiry should be deferred until such a body exists. Their immediacy is too great for that.
The second matter relates to the range of types of broadcasting stations at present in existence in Australia. We question whether there is adequate provision and encouragement for widening the range of types. We believe that there should be as wide a range as possible. For instance, we have had put before us proposals for a subscription station and proposals for widening the scope of the 2 university radio stations which are suffering from vexing restrictions in their operations. We have had no substantial objection to the proposals for widening the range of types of broadcasting stations
In conclusion we emphasise that this is a progress report which is being made after a brief survey of a field which is complex but of tremendous social importance in the lives of all Australians. Every aspect of media communications impinges on all areas of personal and community life. Thus we are aware of the responsibility which our reference from the Senate carries. We have to hear much more evidence yet, and our comments and views are tentative at this stage. The submission of further views, ideas and information will be most welcome as the Committee proceeds into the next phase of this most important assignment. All members of the Committee have worked quite hard and consistently, and I as Chairman acknowledge this. I also acknowledge the assistance given to the Committee by the Secretaries, Dr Evans and Mr Hoy.
(11.52) - In view of the statement, I will move for the adjournment of the debate and ask for leave to continue my remarks at a later stage.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Motion (by Senator Davidson) agreed to:
That the report of Senate Estimates Committee B together with the minutes of evidence tabled on 24th October 1972, be printed.
– I lay on the table the following paper: The supplementary Report of the Auditor-General upon other accounts for the year ended 30th June 1972. It is signed’V. J. W. Skermer, Auditor-General for the Commonwealth of Australia’.
– Senator Devitt was trying to attract my attention earlier when I was placing the business of the Senate. I would be grateful if the Senate would allow me to backtrack in order to clear up this matter.
– I seek leave of the Senate to move a motion for the postponement of a notice of motion.
– Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
Motion (by Senator Devitt) agreed to:
That the business of the Senate, Notice of Motion No. 1 standing in the name of Senator Devitt and listed for tomorrow, be postponed until 6 sitting days after today.
(11.53) - I move:
That, unless otherwise ordered, the Senate at its rising on Thursday, 26th October, adjourn until Friday, 27th October at 10 a.m., and that the times of meeting that day be - 10 a.m. until1 p.m. 2 p.m. until 4.30 p.m.
Honourable senators will note that I have stipulated ‘4.30 p.m.’ in the motion because, having regard to the ability of honourable senators to return to their home States, it is necessary that we should lift at 4.30 on Friday to enable them to get flights out of Canberra later in the afternoon. I also have in my mind the arrangement about which agreement has been reached in the past between the Whips and the Leaders of the Parties - and there has been no difficulty about it - by which under certain circumstances honourable senators who want to leave before 4.30 in the afternoon can do so by mutual consent. I do not want to speak any further to the motion. It is fundamental in its wording. Having regard to the fact that the Parliament is to be dissolved on Thursday, 2nd November, it means that at the very best we can sit only until next Wednesday. I think it is an appropriate motion.
– Have you any idea whether we will be sitting next week? Are you able to indicate that?
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSONI understand from my grapevine that about 12 messages are still to come from the other place. I have done some arithmetic in a very rough way, I am bound to admit, and it appears that we have approximately 25 Bills to discuss. Some of them can be debated concurrently, as we have been doing. Of course, we also have to take note of the Budget Papers and then pass the Appropriation Bills per se. It would be premature for me to look into the crystal ball now. However, after the sitting of the House of Representatives today, I shall be in a better position, perhaps by late tomorrow, to prognosticate. The decision made will of course be with the will of the Senate.
– Thank you.
– The Opposition agrees.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSON (New South Wales - Minister for Health) (11.56)- I move:
That, unless otherwise ordered, the Senate at its rising on Friday, 27th October, adjourn until Monday, 30th October at 2.30 p.m., and that the times of meeting that day be - 2.30 p.m. until 6 p.m. 8 p.m. until 11 p.m.
This motion is designed to meet a contingency which has arisen in the Senate’s programme. This motion includes the words unless otherwise ordered.’ I have suggested that the Senate meet on Monday, 30th October at 2.30 p.m. because, since honourable senators will have to travel to Canberra from places far and wide, not all could be here before 2.30 p.m. I have suggested also that the meeting continue until 6 p.m. and from 8 p.m. until 1 1 p.m. In all the circumstances, I suggest that 11 p.m. is not an unreasonable hour for adjournment. I do not wish to add anything to what I said on the earlier motion.
Senator MURPHY (New South Wales-
Leader of the Opposition) (11.57) - The Opposition agrees.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
(11.58) - I move:
That unless otherwise ordered, question time, including questions on notice, for the remainder of the present period of sittings, shall not exceed forty-five minutes. 1 would be the first to acknowledge that this motion raises more problems than the 2 which have been dealt with. 1 want to make it abundantly clear that the wording of the motion contains the phrases ‘unless otherwise ordered’ and ‘for the remainder of the present period of sittings’. In the other place after a question time period of 45 minutes, either the Prime Minister or the Leader of the House invariably asks that further questions be put on notice. I as Leader of the Government in the Senate could do the same thing in the Senate. However, I understand that the question would then arise as to whether the Senate would agree to this. I would be the first to admit that whenever I have asked the Senate for its co-operation, in the main, with a couple of notable exceptions among honourable senators - and I am not pointing the finger of criticism at any honourable senator on either side of the chamber - that co-operation has been forthcoming. However, on one day last week question time extended over an hour and a half and yesterday it extended for an hour and a quarter. 1 shall not be arbitrary about this motion. Anything I do in this field will be done in the best interests of all honourable senators. Should a situation arise whereby an honourable senator sought leave to continue question time, we could continue it a little longer for that occasion. I do not say that the fault for lengthy question times lies with the Opposition; there is fault on both sides. 1 am prepared to admit that I have at times given answers to questions which were perhaps a little long: with hindsight I have realised that I could have given shorter answers.
– Particularly this morning.
– The problem is difficult and I do not think we should introduce personalities into it. The logic of it is not only to restrict question time to three-quarters ofan hour but also to have answers to questions on notice incorporated in Hansard for the remainder of the session.
– The Opposition does not agree to this proposal. Question time is of great importance to the Senate. A major decision was taken several years ago by which we agreed that there should not be then a limitation, and there has not been a limitation since then. It is true that question time has been extended. The Opposition feels that a great part of the reason for that is to be found in the excessively long answers given’ by Ministers; I shall not stipulate which Minister or Ministers but some have given excessively long answers to the point of unreasonableness. If a limitation were placed upon question time it would mean thatthe rights of honourable senators could be effectively cut down. We, on our side, oppose this motion. If necessary we will ask the Senate to divide. We do offer the suggestion that until the end of this sitting unless there is some extra special reason no honourable senator will ask that his question on notice be read or answered orally. We will agree to such question being incorporated. There may be some special exception but my colleagues have indicated to me that that is their offer to the Government. We request the Government not proceed with this motion. If it does we will oppose it.
-I indicate on behalf of the Australian Democratic Labor Party which I lead that in normal circumstancesI would readily support the objection made by the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate (Senator Murphy). But in view of the special circumstances, that is, that we are racing to the conclusion of this session because of the dissolution of the House of Representatives which will take place on 2nd November and because there is a good deal of business to be transacted to enable us to be out of this place by that date, I am inclined to concede that the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) has some justification in seeking to restrict question time to 45 minutes not as a general rule but only for the remaining days of this session.
No-one can argue, successfully anyway, that there has not been abuse of question time in the Senate. I do not ask a lot of questions. Information which I desire to seek 1 seek by direct communication with departments or Ministers. After many years of experience in parliamentary life I am satisfied that a lot of questions asked here are not asked so much for information but for the propaganda value which honourable senators hope to get because of the appearance of the question and answer in Hansard. There were a few questions asked this morning in connection with the Australian Broadcasting Commission. We all know that the ABC is an autonomous body. It is charged with the management of its own affairs. ,1 think that it is just too much to ask the Parliament to provide answers in relation to some staff arrangement or the resignation of members of the staff, the total number of which would be great. If one member or 10 members of the ABC elect to resign, that is their right. I do not think anybody is going to be disturbed at their reasons.
– It is an autonomous body.
– It is autonomous and it runs its own affairs. We have had evidence and statements from the Chairman of the Commission that he has never beep pressed by either the Government or the Opposition in relation to the conduct of the affairs of the ABC. We have had complaints about the ABC and from time to time we have, aired those complaints. We have written for an explanation. We claim that, that is our right. But we are not asking the Senate to answer for the resignation of an individual who has been employed by the ABC. An employee of a Government department can resign. He might be dissatisfied with his immediate boss. But who is concerned with that? That is a matter between the employee and the departmental head. However, that is only one instance.
During question time we have lengthy questions and very lengthy replies which take up a good deal of time. I have sat here and listened to them day after day. Question time extends well over an hour. Having regard to all the circumstances of the case and because of the special circumstances I support the motion moved by the Leader of the Government in the Senate.
– This seems to be a perennial matter which comes at the end of every session. It is not only at closing time -
– No, this is novel.
– Yes, I agree that curtailing question time is a novel matter. Since I came into this House I have been fighting an action to preserve the conditions of honourable senators. I do not think it is a matter of deciding this on Party lines. Honourable senators had certain rights when they came here. It is all right, to meet an emergency, that we should perhaps take certain rights from honourable senators but there is a tendency for such a procedure, having been introduced, to become a practice. It is not the fault of any honourable senator on this side that business clutters up at the end of each session. On every occasion that this has occurred we have protested, but it still occurs.
We acknowledge our obligation to sit as a Parliament. There is no opposition from this side of the House when we are asked to sit 2 extra days or additional hours. Now the right of honourable senators to :ask questions is being taken away. I think the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) should recognise that if a session is to conclude successfully it is necessary to have a high degree of co-operation in the Senate and not to rely on numbers. On previous occasions discussions have been held and arrangements have been made between the leaders of the various parties. In the past as a result of such discussions there has been a curtailment of the rights of honourable senators. On this occasion there is no agreement between the leaders of the parties. The indication from the Australian Democratic Labor Party suggests that the Government will succeed in this move to curtail the right of honourable senators to ask questions.
The next question is whether the Government will save time. If this motion is forced through with bitterness there can be repercussions from this side of the chamber. I visualise that if there are 12 messages to come from the other place there will be 12 requests to incorporate second reading speeches in Hansard. Rather than use numbers to take away the rights of honourable senators there should be some consultation between the leaders. The individual leaders should have a discussion and come to some arrangements with members of their own Party.
I commented recently that we took the inordinate time of an hour and a half in relation to questions. This was not justified. Although the Leader of the Government in the Senate does not desire to indulge in personalities this does become essential. No lengthy questions are asked because the President rules them out of order. But lengthy answers are given. A Minister who takes 25 minutes to answer is not playing the game. It is the Government side of the chamber which provides the answers and it is this side which asks the questions. The delay in question time is because of the length of the answers. If figures and facts necessitate a lengthy answer no-one can complain. But when attempt is made to use question time to get some propaganda across before an election it is time to complain. The preparedness to co-operate by this side of the chamber is such that we have said that we would pass without discussion those Bills which we support. We did this yesterday at the first reading stage of a Bill but then it was said that we had not debated the Bill. The second reading stage went through. We said we agreed with the Bill and would not debate it. However, we were criticised by the Minister in charge of the Bill for not being prepared to debate the legislation on the third reading. We were criticised because of our failure to debate the Bill on the third reading. We cannot permit this sort of criticism to continue and at the same rime accept arrangements that wei had previously agreed to. Therefore to avoid the criticism to which we were subjected last night, we are now forced into the position of having to debate Bills that we have no desire to debate and would have otherwise let go through with an indication that we supported them.
Who is attempting to protect question time? Today there have been some allegations of unduly long answers. We repeatedly get Dorothy Dix questions, which are the lengthiest ones. Can any honourable senator tell me of any question which Senator Hannan has asked in this session of Parliament that did hot have as its purpose the obtaining from the Minister replying some political propaganda, or any question which had any desire for information? Let us examine his questions and the answers to them. We had a question the other clay, which attracted a 15 minute answer, asking whether a Minister had seen a cartoon in ‘The Australian’ about flogging a dead horse. This indicates the brilliance of honourable senators opposite who are supposed to be seeking information - and in the dying stages of this Parliament. After the answer had proceeded for 15 minutes we got the information that the Minister had seen the cartoon about the dead horse, and everybody was satisfied. The answer finally was that he had seen the cartoon but it look 15 minutes for us to get this information.
Today an honourable senator in all sincerity wanted to know the number of working women in Queensland who would be affected by the Labor ,’Party’s health policy. 1 suppose he wanted that information for campaign purposes and we do not object to him getting it. The answer of the Minister to this question was: ‘I do not know the number’. That was the question and that was the answer. In answers to questions there are so many statements made about the policy of the Australian Labor Party, and so many other utterances, that no one can follow them. Ministers go on for 5 minutes answering questions simply to supply political propaganda to a Government backbencher.
Because of the irresponsible attitude of Government senators, particularly Ministers, we are asked to take away a right of every honourable senator. The Leader of the Government in the Senate will achieve nothing by it. If he saves half an hour at question time, another half an hour will be taken up on other matters which would not be pressed if there were not this curtailment of the rights of honourable senators. We have now reached the stage where, whatever the outcome of this motion, we are forced to refuse Senator Greenwood leave for anything during the remainder of this session because of his attitude last night. If there really is a desire to expedite the business of the House let us postpone this motion so that the Party leaders in the Senate can get together and work out something reasonable and co-operative.
– I take this opportunity to support the motion moved by the Minister for Health (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson). It has been my experience in this place that question time has been used to the great advantage of the Opposition. In fact, as the Minister said on another occasion, the number of questions asked in this chamber exceeds the number asked in another place. This is a marked-
– That is a reflection on the other House.
– 1 am not suggesting that. I am merely saying that it is an indication that the President and the Government respect the privilege and right of honourable senators opposite to ask questions. Invariably we find that at question time the Opposition has far more opportunities to ask questions than we have on this side of the House. We concede that it is the right of honourable senators opposite to ask questions. Certainly some answers that are given could be substantially shortened, and that point was taken by the Leader of the Government in the Senate a few moments ago. There is another matter that always irritates me but it is probably a matter of tradition which I know little about. Honourable senators are subjected to the reading of detailed questions that have been placed on the notice paper, mainly by honourable senators opposite, and to the reading of the long detailed answers which are required by those questions. I can see no reason why this system should continue and I am one who would advocate that all questions on notice be incorporated without any reading at all. I support the motion moved by the Minister.
– I feel strongly about putting an arbitrary time limit on . question time, especially since, as has been pointed out, no time will be saved at all. It is important that certain questions which the Opposition has in mind be asked. What Ministers do in answer to those questions is their responsibility. As Senator Cavanagh said, it is in their hands. They can simply have questions placed on the notice paper if they so desire. However, it is important that the questions be asked even if they do not receive an answer at the time. If we limit question time and deprive some honourable senators who wish to ask questions of the. opportunity to do so at question time then we will find that those questions will be asked during the adjournment debate. So although we may save half an hour in the middle of the day we will find the sitting extended by 2 hours on the adjournment debate because questions must be asked. It is important to the Opposition and to those it represents that questions be asked. So the Senate would gain no time whatever. In fact it will lose time if the Government forces this decision upon us.
I accept what the Minister for Health (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) has said - and he has been supported by the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate (Senator Murphy)- that we should bring this Parliament to an end and rise as quickly as possible. Every decision we make at this time is irrelevant because the major decision is to be made on 2nd December. Every honourable senator on this side would like to see the Senate rise as quickly as possible and ask the question not of the Government but of the people and get their decision on 2nd December. So I ask that the matter of the shortening of question time be left in the hands of honourable senators rather than that there should be a decision which will create a very unhappy precedent. I ask the Leader of the Government in the Senate to reconsider this matter and leave it to honourable senators to shorten question time. Today, if it had not been for the lengthy answers given by Minis- ters. question time would have finished within the 45 minutes to which the Government seeks to limit it.
– 1 am trying to look at this matter from an independent’s point of view. I can see the position of the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) quite clearly. He has a certain number of Bills to get through. If the Senate were a private concern I am sure that it would concentrate on the important business first and worry about the less important business afterwards. I have asked previously that we cut question time out when we are really busy and have a lot of Bills before the Senate, but I have been told very clearly that question time is essential. I also agree with the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate (Senator Murphy). I feel sure from what 1 heard in this chamber yesterday that honourable senators opposite are prepared to co-operate in every way possible. Personally I would not care a tuppenny dash if we sat next Tuesday and next Wednesday, as we are supposed to rise next Thursday. J realise that the Leader of the Government in the Senate has said that if any honourable senator wishes to ask a particular question after three-quarters of an hour of question time has elapsed he can seek leave to do so. I feel that in the circumstances the Leader of the Government in the Senate ought to give the Opposition an opportunity to cooperate.
– Senator Jessop said that in the Senate we ask more questions than are asked in the other place. I do not see the relevance of that comparison. We have half as many members as the other place and we sit for about the same period. I suppose that mathematically we should sit only half as long as the other House. I do not think there is any relevance in the point.
– I was just demonstrating
– It was a very poor demonstration. Senator Jessop went on to say that the Government does not curtail question time. Of course, the Government is not in charge of the House; it does not have a majority here. I have been a senator when the Government did have a majority and, believe me. it was quite a different kettle of fish in those days. Members of an opposition always ask more questions than government supporters do. In some Houses of Parliament in the British Commonwealth government supporters would not be allowed to ask questions. The Speaker would not recognise them. It is quite common for members of an opposition to act as we do here. Members of an opposition ought to be seeking advice and information. In recent times, particularly in the last few weeks, at question time a couple of Ministers have done nothing but insult us, no matter what questions we have asked. I got a shock today. I asked Senator Wright a question and in reply he did not insult me. As his answer was simply that I should put the question on notice I suppose it was a little difficult to insult me. The other day I asked Senator Wright a question about the Philippines. I asked whether the parliamentarians who were in gaol in the Philippines had been given the benefit of a trial. As Senator Wright is a lawyer I thought the question would appeal to him. 1 went on to ask whether these people were being put out of circulation for political reasons. The Minister answered that because of the way I had framed my question he ought not to answer it at all. Why he should take umbrage at my question is beyond me. He has not yet given me an answer to any questions about the Philippines although in the Senate he represents the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr N. H. Bowen). I think it is a very interesting question and one of tremendous importance. In one of our neighbouring countries Senator Aquino, who looked like being the new President of the Philippines, has been interned. I suppose that if President Nixon gaoled Senator McGovern or if Mr McMahon gaoled Mr Whitlam and I asked a question about it I would be told I was insulting. Perhaps it would be an insult if that did take place.
I ask 2 Ministers particularly to remember that we of the Opposition have a right to ask questions and to be answered in a courteous manner. We are not getting this response. Yesterday after the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) had asked us to curtail question time Senator Jessop asked a question about a cartoon. Senate Wright spoke for about a quarter of an hour, not about the cartoon but carrying on with his wild imaginings. In the light of that behaviour we should hardly be asked to curtail question time. What is the Government asking? If the Government accepts our view we will be out of here on Friday so that only 2 question times are involved. If it does not agree we will go through until next Thursday, 2 November, in which event only three or four more days will be involved. At most we are arguing about a couple of hours.
It is unreasonable now to ask the Opposition to co-operate on this issue. We have co-operated on the other 2 matters. We tried to co-operate yesterday but we were rejected. I will be disappointed if the motion is carried. Senator Cavanagh is right in saying that it is not merely a matter of politics on the eve of an election, that it is not merely a matter of the Government’s trying to gain some little political advantage. The Government is trying to strike fundamentally at one House of Parliament in Australia.
– I have an alternative suggestion to put to the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson). I suggest that if he were to call Senator Greenwood and Senator Wright to his room and explain to them that garrulousness and tedious repetition are not to be equated with political wisdom it would solve all of his problems of time.
– I will not sit here and be insulted in that way. If honourable senators consult the records they will find that my answers are among the briefest that have even been given in a House of Parliament. The honourable senator, now that our proceedings are being broadcast, is taking advantage by being silent about the Jetair business and offering me an insult, taking advantage in a disgraceful way of the pressure on the Senate to be brief. Senator Willesee wandered away to the Philippines and discussed incarceration of people under martial law. He said that I took 15 minutes to answer a question about the old grey mare, Whitlam’s dead horse. It is a despicable episode in the his tory of the Labor Party when its Leader has descended to a scream of falsehood and invention. I will not sit in silence and be insulted in that way.
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSON (New South Wales - Minister for Health) (12.27) - As the mover of the motion I accept responsibility for it but I do not accept responsibility for all the things that have been said subsequently. I have been here longer than practically every honourable senator. I am just as concerned as anyone to see that the interests of honourable senators are preserved. One honourable senator rightly pointed out that the Opposition has a function. We all accept the tradition, Mr President, that even if I were to rise to ask a question and the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate (Senator Murphy) rose at the same time, you would give the call to the Leader of the Opposition. It is part of the tradition of the Parliament that members of the Opposition should ask questions and we all recognise it. 1 believe that I am just as firm in the preservation of the interests of the Senate as anybody here. Despite a reference made today I do not think I am a transgressor in the field of extended answers. As I said earlier, with hindsight it can be seen that repetition occurs. Even the questioners are repetitive. We have had experience in the Senate of almost identical questions being asked by different honourable senators opposite. We have had experience of extended answers by Ministers. I do not want to comment on that.
I want to make it clear in fairness that the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate, the Leader of the Democratic Labor Party (Senator Gair) and Senator Willesee, who has acted for his Leader, have given us cooperation on this occasion in facilitating the passage of the Bills. I do not challenge that and I think it is perfectly appropriate that I should say it. But I am the fall guy, if you like to call me that. As Leader of the Government in the Senate I have to make certain that I have the machinery in my hands if I need it so that we can get through the business. In that context today I moved 3 motions. With the co-operation that I believe we will get-
– You will get none if you put this through.
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSONI will not respond to threats from Senator Cavanagh or any other honourable senator. I think you should put the motion. Mr President.
Question put -
That the motion (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson’s) be agreed to.
The Senate divided. (The President - Senator Sir Magnus Cormack)
Majority . . 2
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Senator Greenwood) agreed to:
That leave be given to introduce a Bill for an Act.
Bill presented, and read a first time.
Standing orders suspended.
This Bill is the second of 2 measures to give effect to the proposals I announced on 24th May this year with respect to restrictive trade practices and monopoli sation. The first measure was the Restrictive Trade Practices Bill (No. 2) 1972. The Senate will recall that I introduced that Bill on 12th October 1972. The present Bill deals primarily with matters that arise out of monopoly conditions, and it provides for the establishment of a Monopolies Commission to make inquiries into such matters. The Bill is complementary to the Restrictive Trade Practices Bill. Both Bills are concerned with the problems that arise when, in a free enterprise economy, competition is restricted or is absent. The Restrictive Trade Practices Bill, which is to amend the Restrictive Trade Practices Act, is concerned with agreements and practices that are anti-competitive in their character. The present Bill, dealing as it does with monopolies, is concerned more with situations in which competition is ineffective because of concentrations of economic power. It is concerned with situations in which, in a particular area of business activity, there is only one business or a very limited number of businesses. Where economic power is concentrated in the hands of a few businesses in an industry those businesses may not be subject to normal competitive pressure, and in the absence of those pressures there is a possibility that the conduct of the businesses will be inimical to the public interest. Business in a dominant position in an industry may also be able to use that position to inhibit the growth of competition. I hasten to add however that concentration of power may be desirable in certain industries in order that economies of scale and other benefits may be realised.
The approach to be taken to monopoly situations depends very much on the character of the economy involved and, in paticular, on the size of the economy. In some of the big economies of the world, like that of the United States, monopolisation is the subject of a general proscription. That is to say, it is treated as an offence. There is no provision for inquiries into particular monopoly conditions to ascertain whether they are operating against the public interest. In the United States monopolisation has long been governed by section 2 of the Sherman Act, which is concerned not only with abuse of monopoly power but with the need to prevent trends towards monopolistic concentrations of economic power. It is sufficient under the section to establish that there has been a deliberate acquisition or assertion of monopoly power. That is one possible approach that can be taken to monopoly situations. At the other extreme the approach can be not to inhibit size but merely to deal with abuses of monopoly power when they occur. This is the approach that has hitherto been taken in Australia under the Restrictive Trade Practices Act. The Government believes that the main objective of our legislation ought to continue to be to deal with abuses of monopoly power. In a number of industries the size of our economy may just not be sufficient to support more than one, or a very small number, of businesses that are efficient by overseas standards. Inevitably therefore there will in these industries be a limit to the number of enterprises that can function with appropriate efficiency and compete with overseas businesses. For this reason a drastic prohibition of monopolisation as provided for in the United States would be inappropriate to Australia.
However it does not follow in all circumstances that size is a desirable thing in Australia. Bigness does not always bring with it economies. Indeed bigness may be undesirable in the public interest because it makes the businesses concerned immune from competitive pressures and unresponsive to the demands of consumers. However this is not a matter about which sweeping generalisations can be made. Therefore while the Government believes that the emphasis of our legislation should continue to be on dealing with abuses of monopoly power, it believes that the trend towards monopoly conditions is something which cannot be permitted to take place without surveillance in the public interest.
It was with the considerations I have just mentioned in mind that I announced, in my statement of 24th May 1972, the Government’s intention to introduce legislation for the control of anti-competitive mergers on a selective basis. The provisions for this purpose are not however included in the present Bill. This is because - as 1 informed the Senate on 10th October - it has not proved possible to complete the drafting of these complex provisions in time. However the Government intends to introduce these provisions next year, and they will then be amalgamated with the provisions in the present Bill.
Apart from the broad philosophy to be adopted in dealing with monopolies there is a question whether abuses of monopoly power can be satisfactorily dealt with in the manner provided for in the Restrictive Trade Practices Act at present. That Act treats monopolisation as a practice and defines it closely and wilh a great deal of precision. Precision in our laws has much to commend it. But in the case of monopolisation, experience has shown that this particular subject is much too complex to be dealt with in the precise way in which it is presently dealt with in the Restrictive Trade Practices Act. lt is simply not possible to define with precision all the forms in which abuses of monopoly power can and do occur. Moreover inquiries into closely defined conduct are unrealistic in the context of monopoly conditions. In order to obtain an appreciation of whether monopoly conditions are operating in the public interest inquiries of a different kind are desirable - inquiries in which a broader examination can be made of the industry in question and without the adversary element which is necessarily involved in the procedures of the Trade Practices Tribunal.
These are the considerations that have led the Government to conclude that it is not appropriate to deal with monopolisation as an examinable practice. The Go/ernment has concluded that there is a need for provision to be made for mon,ploy conditions to be subject to broader inquiries of the kind I have mentioned. It has concluded that these inquiries should be conducted by a separate body from the Trade Practices Tribunal and that that body should concentrate on monopoly matters.
Accordingly, as I foreshadowed in my statement of 24th May 1972, the Bill provides for the establishment of a Monopolies Commission to deal with monopoly matters. As the matters that the Commission will be able to consider will be matters of great importance to the economy of this country, and as these matters arc not to be defined with the same close precision as is at present the case with the examinable practice of monopolisation, the responsibility for initiating inquiries by the Commission will rest with the Government. The Bill provides for this responsibility by empowering the Attorney-General to refer matters to the Commission for inquiry and report back to the Government. Moreover just as it is for the Government to decide what matters will be referred to the Commission for inquiry and report, so it will be the Government which will be responsible for deciding in the light of reports and recommendations which it receives from the Commission what remedial action if any will be taken.
With these new provisions for inquiries into monopoly conditions to be conducted by the Monopolies Commission the present provisions for the examinable practice of monopolisation are to be repealed. That repeal is provided for in the Restrictive Trade Practices Bill.
The Monopolies Commission which is provided for in the Bill will be essentially an administrative body to advise the Government. The Commission will consist of a chairman, up to 2 deputy chairmen and such number of other members as may be appointed. AH members will be appointed by the Governor-General. They will be appointed to hold office for terms not exceeding 7 years. Their remuneration and allowances will be as prescribed by regulation until 1st January 1974 and thereafter they will be as provided by the Parliament. Members can be removed from office only on the ground of misbehaviour or physical or mental incapacity. The positions of chairman and deputy chairmen will be full-time ones, but the other members will be appointed on a part-time basis. The Bill does not spell out the qualifications for members. This is because it is proposed to appoint as members persons with a wide variety of experience and qualifications and it is desirable to have as much flexibility as possible for this purpose.
Matters referred to the Commission will be inquired into by the Commission as a whole unless the chairman, in his discretion, appoints a division of the Commission to conduct a particular inquiry. A division must consist of at least 3 members.
The Commission will itself investigate matters that are referred to it. In this respect it will be unlike the Trade Practices Tribunal which determines issues argued before it by the Commissioner of Trade Practices on the one hand and the parties to an agreement or practice on the other.
By and large the Commission will be able to determine its own procedures and to decide how best to carry out its investigations. Where necessary it will be able to require persons to attend before it to give evidence, or to require the production of documents or the furnishing of information.
Sitting suspended from 12.45 to 2.15 p.m.
– It is of the nature of an administrative body like the Monopolies Commission that it should be able to be flexible in its procedures. But the Bill does provide certain safeguards. Firstly it imposes a general obligation on the Commission to act fairly in the conduct of an inquiry. More particularly it ensures that persons having an interest in an inquiry will be able to make submissions to the Commission. (Quorum Formed.) It also requires the Commission to give persons a reasonable opportunity to meet any evidence that may lead the Commission to reach an adverse conclusion about them. The Commission will have a secretary and a staff. These persons will assist the Commission in the conduct of its inquiries by conducting research and so on. There is a provision to ensure that the members of the Commission and its staff will not disclose, outside the course of their duties, information that they acquire in their official capacity about the affairs of other persons.
Before referring to the matters that may be considered by the Monopolies Commission I mention the position of the Commissioner of Trade Practices. The Commissioner will continue to be concerned with proceedings in the Trade Practices Tribunal, but he will not be concerned with Monopolies Commission inquiries. However it is desirable that use should be made of the knowledge and experience that he and his office have of particular industries and of agreements and practices in those industries. Accordingly clause 46 enables the Attorney-General to obtain from the Commissioner of Trade Practices a report on matters relevant to the question whether a particular matter should be referred to the Monopolies Commission. Such a report would set out any information the Commissioner might have that would assist the Attorney-General in reaching a decision. The Attorney-General could later make such a report available to the Commission by way of background information for an inquiry.
I turn now to the matters that may be referred to the Commission for inquiry. The first and most important matters are those concerning monopoly conditions. A reference of monopoly conditions to the Commission will require the Commission to consider the following matters. Firstly it will have to consider whether monopoly conditions exist in the supply of the goods or services in question. If the Commission finds that such conditions do exist it will then be required to consider whether they are operating against the public interest. The reference will specify the goods or services to be considered. It will also specify whether the supply of these goods or services in the whole of Australia, or in part only of Australia, is to be considered. In specifying particular goods or services the Attorney-General will be required to have regard to the appropriateness of examining those goods or services apart from any goods or services that may be competitive with them. Moreover he will not be able to specify an area less than a state or territory as the relevant market area for the purpose of an inquiry unless he considers that, having regard to its size or market significance, such an area would be appropriate.
Monopoly conditions are defined in clause 8 of the Bill. The definition accords closely with the definition of a dominant position for the purposes of the existing examinable practice of monopolisation. That is to say, monopoly conditions will exist if one person - or in some circumstances a group of persons - supplies not less than one-third of the goods or services in question that are supplied in the relevant area. For the purposes of the definition of monopoly conditions corporations that are related to each other will be treated as a group of persons. This means that their combined share of the market will be taken into consideration. A number of businesses which so conduct their affairs as in any way to restrict or prevent competition in the supply of the goods or services in question will be treated as a group also. The. public interest test to be used by the Commission in relation to monopoly conditions is set out in clause 37. As fore shadowed in my statement of 24th May 1972 the test requires the Commission to have regard to relevant considerations along the lines of those that the Trade Practices Tribunal is at present required by section 50 to take into account in the course of its inquiries. The Commission is to take as the basis of its consideration the principle that the preservation and encouragement of competition are desirable in the public interest. But it is also to have regard to a wide range of other matters that may have a bearing one way or the other on the question whether monopoly conditions are operating against the public interest. These matters include the needs and interests of consumers, employees, producers, distributors, importers, exporters, proprietors and investors.
Following an inquiry into monopoly conditions the Commission will report its findings to the Government. Where the Commission reports the particular monopoly conditions are operating against the public interest it would be desirable to obtain the benefit of its views on how the situation might be rectified. Accordingly the Bill provides for the Commission to include in its report in these circumstances recommendations as to what remedial action it considers should bc taken in the public interest. Reports of the Commission are to be tabled in both Houses of the Parliament as soon as practicable after they are received. In some cases reports could contain information - for example, information about manufacturing secrets - that would harm a person’s legitimate business interests. In these circumstances clause 47 permits the omission, where practicable, of such information from the report that is tabled. Any action following a report that monopoly conditions are operating against the public interest will be a matter for consideration by the industry concerned and by the Government. The Government would hope that in many cases the industry concerned would see fit, in the light of the Commission’s report, to make any changes that might be called for. In order to facilitate the resolution of such matters the Bill makes provision for the acceptance by the Attorney-General of undertakings from businesses. These undertakings would relate to the doing by the businesses of acts identified by the Commission as being against the public interest. Provision is made to ensure that such an undertaking is enforceable. Clause 40 has the effect of enabling the Commonwealth Industrial Court to issue, on the application of the Attorney-General, an injunction restraining the breach of an undertaking.
In some circumstances however there may be a need for more formal remedial action. The Bill therefore makes provision for the making of orders by the AttorneyGeneral. It will be possible, by way of these orders for the Government to restrain the doing of particular acts. These acts will of course be limited to acts that have been identified by the Commission as being against the public interest. Moreover the orders will apply only to persons who have been found by the Commission to be doing those acts. It would be undesirable for orders to be made cutting across the consideration by the Trade Practices Tribunal of examinable agreements. Accordingly, the order-making power does not extend to the making of orders in relation to such agreements. Orders made by the. Attorney-General will have to be published in the Gazette and they will not become effective before they are so published. In addition they will be tabled in both Houses of the Parliament and they will be subject to disallowance in the. same way as regulations. The Bill provides in clause 43 for the breach of an order to be restrainable by an injunction issued by the Commonwealth Industrial Court. An application for such an injunction will be able to be made by the Attorney-General or by a person who has suffered loss or damage by reason of the breach. Such a person will moreover have a right of action for damages in respect of any such loss or damage.
I turn now to the second kind of inquiry provided for in the Bill. These are inquiries by the Monopolies Commission into commonly adopted practices. The Commission will gain, through its inquiries into monopoly conditions in particular industries, a good deal of experience of the operations of industry. There will be occasions when this experience could with advantage be drawn upon by the Government in considering broader questions about the effect of particular practices that arc prevalent in industry. Accordingly clause 41 enables the Attorney-General to require the Commission to undertake broader inquiries of this kind. These inquiries will be into the general effect on the public interest of restrictive practices that appear to the Attorney-General to be engaged in commonly. The Commission’s report on such a matter is to include recommendations as to any action that it considers should in the public interest be taken as a result of its findings. Such a report will assist the Government in determining the need for and nature of any specific legislation that may be needed in relation to the practice in question. The Bill does not itself provide for the making or orders or other action by the Government on the basis of such a report.
Finally, I refer to the constitutional foundation of the proposed legislation. Like the Restrictive Trade Practices Act the Bill is drawn primarily around the corporation’s power. However clause 4 provides for the Act to draw on other available constitutional powers as well. This is to ensure that the Act has as wide an application as possible to monopoly conditions. As with the Restrictive Trade Practices Bill, and as I indicated to the Senate earlier, the Government regards it as important that there should be adequate opportunity for the provisions of this Bill to be properly studied and assessed. The Bill provides for an important and far-reaching new approach to the control of monopoly conditions. The Government believes that it should not be passed through the Parliament without there being an adequate period for those affected by its provisions to study them and, if it is so desired, to make appropriate representations in relation to them. Accordingly the Government does not propose that the Bill be passed in the current sitting of Parliament. I commend the Bill to the Senate.
– We must be living in Alice’s Wonderland. The problem of monopolisation has affected the Australian people for a long time. We know that in other parts of the world legislative action has been taken to deal with the problem of monopolisation. We know that Australian industry and commerce are amongst the most monopolised in the world, twice as much as in the United Kingdom and 3 times as much as in the United States of America according to Professor Wheelwright as at some years ago.
– What authority is he to quote?
– He is a most important authority who has written on the economics of Australian industry, whose department has studied this question and whose department contains many brilliant scholars who have paid a great deal of attention to this problem that affects the destiny of Australia. The Government, which has the duty to introduce laws to deal with such a problem, has prevaricated, neglected and delayed through its years of office, even during the last few years when it has been obvious that there has been a most serious problem concerning most people in Australia, especially those in industry who have been affected by the operation of monopolies. We now come to the last few days of this Parliament. My understanding is that the House of Representatives may rise tomorrow and, in any event, the Parliament will be dissolved on 2nd November. And in those circumstances the Government at last brings forward a law and tells us: ‘Here is our solution to the problem of monopolies. lt is to set up this Monopolies Commission’. Having said that, it says that it has no intention of putting the legislation through the Parliament. What is the purpose of it except as some kind of election gimmick, some kind of deathbed repentance in order for the Government to be able to say: ‘Here is what we would have done had we had time to do it’. The Government has had 23 years in which to do something effective. It has certainly had many years to come forward with effective laws.
– The previous government had time to nip it in the bud.
- Senator Gair refers to the previous government. Does he mean the previous Labor administration?
– It could have been nipped in the bud.
– That is prior to 1950. I suppose that what Senator Gair says may contain some element of truth. Some government might have been able to nip it in the bud. The problems involved in nipping it in the bud at that stage were, firstly, that it was not as serious a problem as it is now. Next-
– It was growing.
– Yes. Next, there was a cloud in that the High Court had made a restrictive interpretation of the constitutional powers of this Parliament which had given rise to doubts as to whether effective action could be taken by the Parliament. It is true that, even at that stage, had a government set out to obtain the co-operation of the States, the problems could have been overcome. I would say this in defence of the previous Labor administration: During the war it was faced with the problems of the war and after that, until 1949, with problems of reconstruction.
– I think it had 5 State governments sympathetic to its policy.
– It may be so. Let us assume that there is some validity in what Senator Gair is saying and that action ought to have been taken then. Certainly, there were great difficulties in the way of that Government. But, assuming that validity, how then can there be any excuse for the inaction over 23 years by the Liberal-Country Party governments that have allowed the position to worsen? They allowed Australian industry to be affected by restrictive practices that would not be tolerated elsewhere and that have allowed monopolies to flourish - and apparently those monopolies have flourished with the benevolent view of the Liberal-Country Party governments, and nothing has been done. It is an insult to the people of Australia that this legislation should be introduced in the dying hours of the Parliament, coupled with the statement that the Government has no intention whatever of proceeding with it. As everyone knows, if it is not passed in this Parliament by both Houses, at this time, even if we pass it in the Senate, that is the end of it. It would have to be reintroduced. Senator Marriott does not dispute that proposition.
This is just a joke. To people who understand it, this is just a meaningless gesture to bring in a piece of paper, put it through and say: ‘We are going to read it to you. Nothing is going to be done about it’. It is not even intended to operate the legislative process to bring this to completion and have a law. All it is is a bit of window dressing so that the Government can say: ‘We really do have some concern about monopolies. Our heart is in the right place’. The 23 years - or, if we like to give the best to the Government, the time since the decision of the High Court last year in the concrete pipes case - was not enough, it seems, to allow the Government to bring in some kind of reasonable legislation and have it passed through the Parliament. The Government has had the experience of other countries. The way was clear. In May the Attorney-General (Senator Greenwood) presented 2 statements about the nature of the proposed legislation on restrictive practices and also on this Monopolies Commission. He said then that the purpose was to lay before the Parliament a statement as to these legislative proposals in order that everyone might be able to consider them and make comments on them. He intimated that the legislation would be introduced and passed in these sittings of the Parliament, that is, before the end of this year’s sittings.
– It was my intention to introduce them. That is what I said in May.
– I say this: The understanding of the Senate, if I may fairly state it, was that the AttorneyGeneral said: ‘Here are the proposals and the law will be introduced in the autumn session.’ The understanding was that they would be introduced in the normal way and passed through - the Parliament. I would hate us to arrive at the stage where we had to examine the words of the AttorneyGeneral with a microscope to see whether he said he was going to put the proposals before the people so that they could study them and that the legislation would be introduced in the autumn sittings. He is now saying: ‘I never said that we would press on with it or that we would push it through. All that I said, if you look at it with a microscope, was that we would introduce it’. I do not think that that is the way in which reasonable men would interpret what the Attorney-General has stated. I would hate to think that in this place we had to deal with quibbles and niceties of that kind.
I think the Attorney-General would be more frank if he admitted that it was his intention that the legislation would be passed in this sessional period but that superior forces have been operating on him to delay this measure and to stop it being passed through the Parliament. I think that he would do himself more credit if he conceded that what he intimated was that the laws would be passed in this period of sittings, but that is not being done. If he does not choose to tell us the reason why there has been a change of heart, we are op:n to make our own assumptions about that. 1 do not think it is his wish that the measure is not being put through the Parliament in this session. I think that ex ernal pressures have operated on him to prevent the legislation being passed through the Parliament. We do not think it is ;a’isfactory that the laws to protect the people and to protect commerce and industry should be dealt with in this way.
One of the great complaints against the Government is the lack of planning and the lack of action by the Government in the field of the economy. There is a lack of economic law and order in the community which has led to criticism not only by the Australian Labor Party and by other political parties, but also by those in industry. More and more the statements being made by leading industrialists are critical of the Government’s failure to take action to plan in this economy and to take action to introduce elementary law and order into the economic affairs of the community. Today in the Senate there was presented the report of the Senate Select Committee on Foreign Ownership and Control which has indicated that the same view has been taken in this Parliament of the Government’s failure effectively to establish economic national goals.
The proposals in the Bill need not engage the attention of the Senate in any depth because it is not intended that they should be proceeded with. I hope that next year legislation will be introduced which will deal with the monopolies which have grown and flourished in this country. 1 anticipate that if there is a change of government - and I trust there will be - the legislation will be framed on the basis of the original Australian Industries Preservation Act. I hope that that Act, which has been held to be valid by the High Court of Australia in the concrete pipes case, will provide a suitable basis for dealing with the problems of monopolies in this community. It is appreciated that the Act needs to be modernised, but I think that the general approach in that Act is a more satisfactory one. The law ought to be, as far as it can be, self-operating. Rather than having mechanism such as is indicated in the speech of the Attorney-General and dealt with in the Bill, it would be much better to have a degree of certainty in the field of monopolisation.
– Do you realise that the Australian Industries Preservation Act - I think unfortunately - has been repealed?
– I am well aware of that. It was repealed, as I recall it, with the assistance of Senator Hannan’s vote and against the vote of the Opposition. On each occasion when the matter came before us we voted to preserve the Australian Industries Preservation Act. Consistently with the attitude that we have taken previously, we would seek to introduce legislation based upon that approach. I do not need to delay the Senate with a discussion of the basis of that Act, but I hope that the Senate will be given the opportunity to discuss in some more detail the Government’s default in its approach to this matter of monopolies. 1 do not seek to deal at great length with the proposals that have been submitted, as I understand that the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) intends to say a few words about the Bill and then seek leave to continue his remarks at a later stage. Perhaps we may be able to have a discussion of the question in some depth at a later stage.
(2.41) - Following the comments made by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Murphy). I do not want to canvass the Bill. Beyond a shadow of a doubt it is a tremendously important Bill. It is to establish a monopolies commission and for purposes connected therewith. But I want to refer to the points made by Senator
Murphy. I put under challenge, in a very brief way, the proposition that he has put, to the effect that this Bill is evidence of insincerity on the part of the Government in the sense that the Government has put down a Bill knowing that the Parliament will be dissolved and that that, in fact, will be the end of the Bill because it will disappear. This denies the ultimate paragraph of the second reading speech where it was pointed out - I thought very properly - by the Attorney-General (Senator Greenwood), who was handling the matter, that the Government believes that the measure should not be passed through the Parliament without there being an adequate period for those affected by its provisions to study the Bill. Therefore, the Bill will remain on the table of the Senate; it will be a parliamentary document. The Parliament will rise shortly. Looking into the crystal ball, we cannot quite see when it will rise, but it will certainly be not later than 2nd November. That means that if the Parliament is dissolved on 2nd November we would need to lift by next Wednesday.
I and the Government do not accept the proposition that because the Bill has been put down here, this is a form of window dressing. This Bill could affect the whole structure of the Australian economy. The Government is saying that it has put down not only the second reading speech but also the Bill and that in the intervening period until Parliament assembles next year - and again who knows when that will be, but taking a potshot I would think that it would be in February of next year - there will be an opportunity for the whole of this nation to look at the Bill and examine it. I think that is a commendable approach. We are not creating a precedent by doing this. If I remember correctly, I think that in regard to the uniform divorce law - that is one matter of which I can think, and there may be others - a Bill, with all its complications, was put down, because it was going to affect the social life and the welfare of the nation, so that it could be examined by the people who were competent to examine it and to reflect upon it. That is what is being done now.
A tremendously important Bill has been put down. Certainly it will be removed from the business paper when the Parliament is dissolved, but at least the Government’s intention is clear. It has said: ‘This is the Bill that we propose to introduce if we are returned to power.’ It is unlikely that there will be a change of government, but we do not know what the future will bring. In any event, the incoming government will have the advantage of a Bill. Those in the community concerned with the economy will have an opportunity to examine this proposal and will be in a position to put to the government, whichever party is in power, its views on the proposals. The Government does not accept the argument that because it has put a Bill down in the last week of the sitting it is window dressing. I think it is a very courageous act to let the world know what the implications are for Australia and the economy of Australia in 1973 and the years to follow. I ask leave to continue my remarks at a later stage.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Cotton) read a first time.
– I move:
The purpose of this Bill is to amend certain provisions of Part XII of the Restrictive Trade Practices Act 1971, containing the overseas cargo shipping provisions. These amendments will enable the Australian Shippers’ Council to undertake all negotiations with shipowners and conferences operating in all Australian export liner trades.
Broadly speaking, the overseas cargo shipping provisions, which are administered by the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr Anthony), bring under control restrictive arrangements relating to the carriage of goods between Australia and other countries. They require shipping lines to register with the Government details of conference agreements and to give and observe certain undertakings. Among the undertakings which shipping lines can be required to give the Minister is to negotiate with shipper bodies he has designated under the Act. Such negotiations cover both the arrangements for and the terms and conditions of carriage of export cargoes in Australia’s overseas liner trades.
The existing legislation requires the setting up of a separate shipper body for each trade. The Minister, before he designates each shipper body, must be satisfied that its membership appropriately reflects the volume and nature of cargo in the trade. Five such bodies have been formed and designated in relation to the trades from Australia to Europe, to Singapore and west Malaysia, the east coast of the United States of America, the cast coast of Canada and the west coast of North America. While these are among our most important trades, shipper bodies have not been formed in relation to some 14 other export trades served by conference arrangements and some of these are quite large and important.
Various factors have inhibited the formation of shipper bodies in these trades. The principal impediments have been the practical difficulty of securing participation by exporters in a proposed snipper body where a wide variety of export interests contribute to the cargoes carried; the reluctance of shippers to support several separate shipper bodies operating on an ad hoc, part time basis, particularly as these make heavy demands on executives’ time and require separate financing; the shipment of exports forming a major part of the cargoes carried in a particular trade was controlled by foreign importers; and some export interests dominating a particular trade considered they were better placed to negotiate separately, ignoring the interests of the minority of shippers.
The existing legislation makes it mandatory for there to be a designated shipper body before shipping lines are required to negotiate with shippers in a trade under the provisions of the Act. This has meant that Australian shippers in many trades have been unable to require the conference or shipping lines serving those trades to negotiate formally with them under the provisions of the Restrictive Trade Practices Act.
In 1971 a study team initiated by a very wide cross-section of export organisations made an in-depth examination of their export shipping requirements. The study team, by arrangement with the then Minister for Trade and Industry, worked jointly with officers of his Department. The study team accepted the basic principles of the Restrictive Trade Practices Aci which it regarded as worth while to Australian exporters. To overcome the difficulties which militated against the formation of separate shipper bodies in each trade, the study group recommended that the existing legislative provisions be amended to allow a nationally-constituted Australian Shippers’ Council to be the one designated body for negotiations in all trades. It saw such a Council a* a national body, fully representative of producers, commodity groups and exporters. It would be backed up by a permanent staff with comprehensive research facilities. The Council would ensure adequate representation of shipper interests in all negotiations with shipowners.
After considering the study group’s recommendation and reviewing the operation of the shipping provisions of the Act. the Government decided to amend Part XII to give effect to these proposals. This does not entail any change in the present policy that these are matters for commercial negotiation within the framework of the Act. Rather it ensures that all Australian shippers in liner trades could avail themselves of these provisions. The establishment of a single body will avoid the need to establish a multiplicity of shipper bodies in other trades; all attempting to maintain small, duplicatory research secretariats, operating on inadequate finances. 1 can now inform the House that the Australian Shippers’ Council, a body representative of major exporter, commodity and producer interests has been formed and has held its inaugural meeting. It has appointed an executive committee and a full time director, all of whom have had extensive experience and a long association with export shipping. The amendments proposed in this Bill will enable the Council to be designated as the sole body to negotiate with shipping conferences and shipping lines in all Australian export liner trades.
I now refer to the main provisions of the Bill. Clause 5 of the Bill amends section 116 of the Restrictive Trade Practices Act 1.971 by omitting from sub-section (2.) the word ‘relevant’ wherever occurring and inserting in its stead the word ‘designated’, and by omitting sub-section (5.). As amended, section 116 will then permit the Minister to designate a shipper body, and require parties lo shipping conferences to undertake to negotiate with that body. In addition, the Bill makes two other minor alterations to simplify the administration of the legislation. Clause 5 further amends section 116 of the Act by inserting 2 new sub-section (5.) and (6.).
The Act at present makes provision for an officer, designated by the Minister, to be present at negotiations conducted under the Act. Under the new legislation, the scope and frequency of such negotiations, by definition, will be greatly extended. The new sub-section (5.) will permit the appointment of deputies, who will be able to attend negotiations in his stead and exercise the powers of the designated officer in relation to that particular set of negotiations. The new sub-section (6.) simply defines ‘the designated officer’ and ‘the designated shipper body’. Division 4 of Part X]l makes provision for situations where a particular route is serviced by a single shipowner instead of by a conference of several shipping lines. The Act provides for such a line to have substantially the same obligations as apply to an ordinary conference. Accordingly, clause 6 of the Bill makes similar amendments to section 122 of the Act to those I have outlined in relation to section 1 16.
The Government is satisfied that the designation of the Australian Shippers’ Council, by extending negotiations under the Act to all export trades and providing a single research and negotiating body, will substantially strengthen the collective bargaining powers of shippers. The Council will speak with a national voice; it will build up a detailed knowledge of all our export trades and those who serve them; it will bring to its task an increasing degree of negotiating expertise. Honourable senators will be aware that the Commonwealth has regularly contributed to the finances of shipper bodies set up under the existing legislation. As the successful operation of the Council is important to the effective implementation of the present policy the Government had decided that it will continue to provide such financial assistance and has made provision for this purpose in the Budget. The Government is pleased to bring forward these amendments which exporters themselves have recommended. I commend the Bill to honourable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator O’Byrne) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Wright) read a first time.
– I move:
Honourable senators will recall that in May 1970 Mr Justice Eggleston, as he then was, made certain recommendations in his report of his inquiry into academic salaries. One recommendation was that, in future, academic salaries should be adjusted automatically in accordance with national wage case decisions. The Commonwealth accepted that recommendation and has provided additional financial assistance to the States towards the cost of subsequent increases in academic salaries.
The purpose of this Bill is to provide additional contributions by the Commonwealth towards the cost of increasing academic salaries in universities in line with the increase of $2 a week awarded in the 1972 national wage case with effect from the first pay period commencing on or after 19th May 1972 until the end of 1972. For the 1973-75 triennium provision has been included in the grants recommended by the Australian Universities Commission which will be the subject of separate legislation later in this session. The salaries on which the additional Commonwealth grants are based are:
The grants also provide for an increase of $2 a week for academic staff below the grade of lecturer.
Apart from adjustments following national wage cases, academic salaries have not been reviewed since 1st January 1970. The Commonwealth Government, after consultation with State governments, has concluded that the time is appropriate for such a review and, on 11th September 1972, the Minister for Education and Science (Mr Malcolm Fraser) announced that Mr Justice W. B. Campbell of the Supreme Court of Queensland had been appointed to conduct an inquiry into academic salaries in universities. Mr Justice Campbell will be assisted by Professor R. L. Mathews, Professor of Accounting and Public Finance of the Australian National University, and Mr M. C. Timbs, Executive Member of the Australian Atomic Energy Commission, as assessors. It is intended that the inquiry should involve a careful investigation into appropriate salaries for the various grades of academic staff in universities. The Commonwealth will be ready to support increases in salaries that might arise as a result of recommendations of the inquiry, with effect from 1st January 1973, which is the beginning of the next university triennium. Any such increases will, of course, require a Government decision on Mr Justice Campbell’s recommendations.
Mr Justice Campbell’s inquiry will not be examining salaries at colleges of advanced education because the Commonwealth is adhering to the principles of the Sweeney report that salaries of lecturers and senior lecturers in colleges of advanced education should be broadly the same as those in universities. When the recommendations of the inquiry into university salaries are known, the Commonwealth and State governments will give further consideration to the question of academic salaries for colleges of advanced education. However, I remind honourable senators that this Bill relates only to the provision of financial assistance in respect of the year 1972 for increases in academic salaries in universities in line with the 1972 national wage case decision. The cost to the Commonwealth of this salary adjustment will be $219,000. 1 commend the Bill to the Senate.
Debate (on motion by Senator Wheeldon) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Wright) read a first time.
– I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
This Bill provides for the payment of grants to the States for universities in the 1973-75 triennium and gives effect to the recommendations contained in the Australian Universities Commission’s fifth report. When presenting the Commission’s report on 22nd August 1972, the Minister for Education and Science (Mr Malcolm Fraser) outlined its contents and explained that for the forthcoming triennium the Commission had recommended a number of changes. Honourable senators may be interested to learn that the report has been well received by the universities and that the changes to which the Minister referred have been the subject of favourable comment by a number of university administrators.
The changes were, first, a greater recognition in the calculation of recurrent grants of the distribution of students between the more and less expensive disciplines. Secondly, a single equipment grant will be provided for each university whereas in the past equipment has been purchased from a number of grants according to whether it was to be used in a new building for general recurrent purposes, for a special research project or to provide the university with a major item of new research or computing equipment. Thirdly, the problems of mature universities introducing new academic developments have been recognised with the provision of special earmarked grants for this purpose for the University of Sydney and the University of Melbourne. Fourthly, provision is made for the first time for some government assistance towards the provision of less formal student residential accommodation described by the Commission as noncollegiate accommodation. Fifthly, the definition of ‘fees’ has been altered to exclude from the recurrent grant formula the fees payable for adult education, extension work, professional refresher courses and other short courses. This will encourage the universities to develop their activities in continuing education, work in proportion to the demonstrated need for them and the universities’ own enterprise.
During the 1973-75 triennium, there will be an increase of 20,000 in the number of students in the universities of Australia and by 1975 the student body will total 148,000, Of these, 142,000 will be in State universities the grants for which are provided by this Bill. The increase in the student body will be achieved by expansion of existing universities and by the development of 2 new universities, Griffith University in Brisbane and Murdoch University in Perth, and the upgrading to full university status of the Wollongong University College which is presently a college of the University of New South Wales. The development of Murdoch University will include the establishment of the fourth School of Veterinary Science in Australia as the University’s first professional faculty and the Bill provides earmarked grants for this purpose to ensure an appropriate allocation of funds. Another major development in the forthcoming triennium is that of the Flinders University Medical School and the Bill also provides earmarked funds for that purpose.
I should mention that there are 2 minor differences between the provision made by the Bill and the recommendations of the Australian Universities Commission although both variations are supported by the Commission. Firstly, the plans for the new Griffith University in Brisbane have been further developed since the Commission’s recommendations were made and the University has now requested that it should be permitted to construct in its first group of buildings a separate lecture theatre complex instead of building lecture theatres into individual academic buildings. The total building programme for the University remains unchanged at $6.03m, but the individual components have been varied to provide for the separate lecture theatre complex.
The second point of variation is that the provision for student residential accommodation at the University of Tasmania is greater than that recommended in the Commission’s Fifth Report. The University has a grant in the current triennium to complete a hall of residence but it is now clear that it will not be possible to finish the building by the end of 1972 when, in the terms of the existing legislation, the grant will expire. Both the State and the Commonwealth Governments have agreed that this project should be completed in the 1973-75 triennium and provision is included in this Bill for the grant to be re-instated.
The Bill provides for a total expenditure of $896m of which the Commonwealth’s share is $344m; and will ensure the continued growth of universities in Australia in the forthcoming triennium. Of the total financial programme of $896m for State universities, $175m will be applied to buildings and equipment and $721m to recurrent expenses. An indication of the growth in the number of students and in the Commonwealth grants provided for each university is given in the following table.
The Commonwealth will also be prepared to provide additional financial assistance on the basis of the usual formula of a contribution of Si by the Commonwealth for every Si. 85 of State grants plus fees in respect of increases in academic salaries from 1st January 1973 that may be determined by Government decision as a result of the inquiry into academic salaries in universities that is being conducted by Mr Justice W. B. Campbell of the Supreme Court of Queensland, as 1 stated in my speech on the previous Bill.
Since 1970 it has been the practice of the Commonwealth and the States to provide supplementary grants to universities to meet the cost of increases in academic salaries in line with the increases that are awarded in national wage case decisions. In fu. ure the Commonwealth will also be prepared to provide its share of the cost of similar increases in non-academic salaries and wages. Over the past triennium the universities have faced serious budgetary difficulties arising from increases in nonacademic wages and salaries and supplementation to meet the cost of national wage case increases for non-academic staff should greatly reduce the magnitude of this problem. I commend the Bill to the Senate.
Debate (on motion by Senator Wheeldon) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Wright) read a first lime.
– I move:
Consequent upon the national wage case decision of May 1972, salaries for academic staff in colleges of advanced education have increased. The purpose of the Bill before the Senate is to appropriate additional grants in order that the Commonwealth might, under the accepted matching formula, meet its share of the additional costs involved. As a result of the revised schedule of grants for recurrent, expenditure for 1972, supplementary Commonwealth grants totalling approximately $70,500 and representing a combined additional Commonwealth-State allocation of nearly §201,000 will be made available for colleges of advanced education in the States. In addition the Bill effects minor adjustments to the 1970-72 capital expenditure programme for New South Wales. These variations have been initiated by the State and they do not increase the grant previously allocated. 1 commend the Bill to honourable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator Wheeldon) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Wright) read a first time.
The purpose of the Bill now before the Senate is to give effect to the Government’s decision to provide funds for the development of colleges of advanced education in the triennium 1973-75. Honourable senators will recall that when I tabled the Third Report of the Australian Commission on Advanced Education on 22nd August 1972 I said that the Commonwealth would support a programme totalling approximately S450m in the triennium. Included in this sum is provision for the Canberra College of Advanced Education which is financed entirely from Commonwealth funds and for which accordingly no provision is made in this Bill. The proposed level of expenditure of the colleges in the new triennium represents an increase of 78 per cent on the expenditure in the present triennium. These figures demonstrate the strong measure of community support which the colleges are receiving, especially among school leavers seeking a tertiary education orientated to the needs of industry and commerce. They also reflect this Government’s determination to encourage the development of this significant new stream in tertiary education in Australia.
The Bill before the Senate is broadly similar to the States Grants (Advanced Education) Act 1969 but incorporates some changes consequent upon the creation of the Australian Commission on Advanced Education and upon the construction of affiliated residential colleges in the colleges of advanced education. The Bill provides for a total programme of recurrent expenditure in the Slates of approximately S266m of which the Commonwealth share is about $94m and the State contribution Si 72m. The largest component of recurrent expenditure is. as might be expected, the salaries of the teaching staff and in this connection it should be noted that during the present triennium, 1970-72, the student enrolment in colleges of advanced education has risen from approximately 38,000 in 1970 to about 54,000 in 1972 and it is expected to reach approximately 81,000 in 1975. The financial assistance provided in this Bill allows for the necessary increase in staff. The increase in enrolments also demands the construction of new buildings, the replacement of old and inadequate buildings and the provision of equipment. The Bill provides for expenditure upon these items in the States of approximately SI 57m of which the Commonwealth share is about $79m. Honourable senators will recall that in making these grants to the States the accepted formula is that in respect of capital expenditure States contribute SI for each $1 of Commonwealth grant and in respect of recurrent expenditure the States contribute Si. 85 in respect of each S 1 of Commonwealth grant. The Stale contribution includes income from fees.
The Commonwealth at the present time has accepted that when academic salaries rise the Commonwealth will make supplementary giants to the States for its share of the increased costs under the normal matching formula. A new development in the triennium 1973-75 is that the Commonwealth will also make supplementary grants when salaries and wages of nonacademic staff are increased as a result of a national wage case decision. Significant new developments for which the Bill provides include the establishment of new colleges in South Australia and New South
Wales, the continuation of major projects in all States, special assistance for the construction of student residences particularly in country areas, assistance with running costs of student residences, and the provision of special assistance to libraries in colleges of advanced education.
With regard to student residences the Commonwealth is prepared to provide funds for building student residences in country areas, additional to those already specified in the Second Schedule of this Bill, and an amount of $500,000 has been set aside for this purpose. With the State matching contribution this means that colleges in the country may draw upon a fund of up to Sim for the construction of additional student residential accommodation. The Government also wishes to encourage the flow of private funds into the construction of student residences and has agreed to provide funds to assist those colleges which might also be able to obtain loan moneys for the erection of student residences. The Commonwealth invites the States to share equally with the Commonwealth an amount of $2,500 in respect of each student place in residences being partly financed by loan or gift. The effect of this measure will be to enable rental charges in the student residences to be fixed at a level which, while remaining within reasonable limits for the student, will provide for the repayment of principal and interest on the loan over the normal lending period. The arrangements which have been made in the past for funding of the construction of affiliated colleges will continue to apply in the future.
In the university area the Commonwealth has made in the past unmatched grants to assist with the running costs of collegiate accommodation. In the colleges of advanced education also, affiliated colleges exist and there may develop during the triennium other student residences of a collegiate type. This Bill makes provision for unmatched grants to be made to such institutions on the recommendation of the Australian Commission on Advanced Education and a sum of $500,000 has been set aside for this purpose.
The Commission on Advanced Education has drawn attention to the particular needs of libraries in colleges of advanced education and this Bill provides for additional assistance for these libraries. Over and above the unmatched grant for the libraries of $500,000 as has been provided in previous triennia the Commonwealth will make available up to a further $lm, subject to a matching contribution from the States. The effect is to make available for library purposes an additional $2.5m providing that States contribute Sim. The allocation of these funds between institutions will be determined by the Minister on the advice of the Commission. Under the present Act the Minister must approve particulars of building projects and must approve courses in colleges of advanced education for Commonwealth funding purposes. Now that the Australian Commission on Advanced Education has been set up as a statutory authority the Government has decided that some of the functions at present resting with the Minister should be transferred to the Commission and this Bill provides that approval of courses and particulars of projects listed in the Schedules to this Bill may be approved by the Commission. Where variations are sought in respect of those projects the Commission may approve minor variations but where the total funds transferred exceed $200,000 Ministerial approval will be required. The Minister will provide Parliament with statements giving details of such transfers.
In conclusion I might remind honourable senators that this Government has maintained a live interest in teacher education and it might be noted that the Bill before the Senate provides for funds for teacher education in 7 colleges ot advanced education. Moreover as honourable senators will recall the Australian Commission on Advanced Education has been asked to present a report no later than March 1973 on the needs of teachers colleges which the Government has decided should be funded in the same way as colleges of advanced education and universities. I commend the Bill to the Senate.
Debates (on motion by Senator Wheeldon) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) read a first time.
(3.25)- I move:
The speech is very short and I seek leave for it to be incorporated in Hansard.
– May I intervene? I think that before that proposal is put to the Senate some consultation ought to take place between the Leader of the Opposition or the Deputy Leader of the Opposition and the Leader of the Government in the Senate. 1 understand that this has not been done.
– Order! Neither is in the chamber. So I do not see how any consultation can take place.
– May I point out some further facts to you, Mr President?
Before the honourable senator does that, if there is any objection I will read the speech. That is my attitude. My understanding from the Leader of the Opposition was that leave would be given.
– I understand from the-
– Order! Leave has been sought. One refusal means that leave is not granted. Is leave granted or not?
– I seek leave to ask a question.
– Order! The Leader of the Government has sought leave. Is it granted?
– This makes it very difficult.
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSONI am dealing with the Bill and I do not want leave.
– If I am not allowed to ask a question, I will sit down.
– I seek leave to ask a question of the Leader of the Government in the Senate.
– Order! Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– Is this a Bill which would normally be -presented to the Senate by Senator Wright in his capacity as Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service?
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSONI am the Leader of the Government in the Senate. I can choose what Bills are put down by me.
– If those are the tactics you are going to use, leave is refused.
– Leave is not granted.
– Did Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson ask for leave?
asked for leave and leave was refused. I do not want it now.
– Leave has been refused. I call Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson.
The purpose of the. Bill is to make an amendment to the United States Naval Communication Station (Civilian Employees) Act 1971 consequent upon the Compensation (Commonwealth Employees) Bill 1972. As honourable senators know, the United States Naval Communication Station (Civilian Employees) Act 1971 extends to civilian employees employed by the United States in connection with the station the terms of the Compensation (Commonwealth Employees) Act 1971 as if they were employees of the Commonwealth. To extend to these employees of the United States the new benefit of compensation at the rate of full sick pay that is provided for in the Compensation (Commonwealth Employees) Bill 1972 it is necessary to amend the Schedule to the United States Naval Communication Station (Civilian Employees) Act 1971. The Bill provides accordingly. The Bill will come into effect on the day on which the Compensation (Commonwealth Employees) Bill 1972 comes into operation. I commend the Bill to the Senate.
Debate (on motion by Senator Bishop) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) read a first time.
(3.34) - 1 move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
It is with considerable satisfaction that I introduce this Bill to amend the Compensation (Commonwealth Employees) Acts 1971. This satisfaction derives from the fact that the legislation goes far beyond the improvements foreshadowed by the Treasurer (Mr Snedden) in the Budget Speech. Indeed, for the Commonwealth, we propose to break entirely new ground.
The main purpose of this Bill is to provide for the payment of compensation at the rate of full sick pay to Commonwealth employees during total incapacity following a compensable injury. The payment will be made at this rate for the first 26 weeks of a period or of the aggregate of periods up to 26 weeks in respect of any one injury. Honourable senators will recall that ‘injury’ in the relevant context of the Act - that is in section 29 - carries an expanded meaning and includes the contraction of a disease or the aggravation, acceleration or recurrence of a disease. They will also be aware that the Act applies to the employees of prescribed authorities of the Commonwealth and to other classes of persons who are not strictly employees. Examples of these latter classes of persons are holders of statutory offices and prescribed classes of persons such as school cadets and persons who render voluntary assistance to the Commonwealth. Altogether the Acts apply to more than 425,000 persons. The Acts are also of world wide application and cover employees in some 70 Commonwealth posts scattered around the globe.
The Act which came fully into operation only on 1st September 1971 constituted a complete compensation code and replaced an Act that, with amendments, had been in operation since 1930. This new compensation code was vastly more beneficial than the legislation which it replaced and I am pleased to report to the Senate that it was brought into effect smoothly and without disruption to the then existing case load.
The amending Bill now before the Senate marks a further significant breakthrough in this field of benevolent legislation. The compensation that will be payable to a totally incapacitated employee for the first 26 weeks of a period or of the periods aggregating 26 weeks will be at the full sick pay rate that would be payable to him apart from the compensation legislation. At the conclusion of the 26 weeks the employee will be entitled to weekly compensation payments at the increased weekly rates provided by this amending legislation. By utilising a proportion of any sick leave credit available to him the employee may then build up the weekly compensation payment during this subsequent period to the rate he would have received as sick pay had compensation not been paid. If an employee’s conditions of employment do not provide for sick pay, the rate of compensation payable during the first 26 weeks period or aggregate of periods to which I have referred will be at a rate equal to his basic earnings for the work he would have performed but for the injury.
Of next importance to the adoption of the full pay principle, the Bill makes substantial increases in existing monetary benefits. These monetary benefits were last increased on 25th May 1971 and were then incorporated in the new compensation code when it became fully operative on 1st September last year. The new code included additional benefits and these rates are also increased by this Bill which, in addition, provides for some machinery amendments of a minor nature.
Under the Bill the basic lump sum payable to dependents upon the death of an employee is being increased from $13,500 to 514,500. A corresponding increase from $13,500 to $14,500 will be made in respect of the maximum lump sum payment for the more serious scheduled injuries. Lump sum payments for the less serious scheduled injuries will be proportionately increased as will those in respect of loss of the genitals, the permanent loss of the capacity to engage in sexual intercourse, facial disfigurement and total loss of the sense of taste or smell.
Following the period for which full sick pay is payable the Bill provides for the weekly payment in total incapacity cases to be increased from $35 to $43 for a single employee, an increase of 23 per cent. The latter amount will be supplemented by $11 a week for a dependent spouse in lieu of $8.50 a week as at present. This is an increase of 29 per cent. A further $5 a week remains payable for each dependent child. Where an employee requires the constant assistance of an attendant, the weekly amount of $8 payable to him will be increased to $9. The present limitation of $150 in any one case in respect of provision or modification of certain aids, appliances and equipment will be increased to $350.
I come now to the more important of the machinery amendments included in the Bill. For accuracy in interpreting the word overtime’ when determining average weekly earnings of an employee, the term will be defined to include shift duty, weekend duty, holiday duty and excess travelling time. The Bill amends the provision which excludes seamen from the application of the Act and ensures that such seamen to whom the Seamen’s Compensation Act does not apply are covered by the Compensation (Commonwealth Employees) Act if they are employees within the meaning of this Act. As a consequence of this amendment, it has been necessary to include transitional provisions in the Bill to ensure that any cases unintentionally excluded from the application of the principal Act at the date of its proclamation on 1st September 1971 are now brought within the scope of the Act, rather than remain indefinitely under the ex gratia approval which was extended to such cases as an interim measure.
The transitional provisions also provide that between a period commencing on the proclaimed date of the principal Act and ending immediately before royal assent is given to this amending legislation, that is, during the transitional period, anything that was done by, on behalf of, to or in relation to, such a seaman as a claimant for compensation has effect as if it was done under the principal Act. Among other things, this has the effect of restoring to any seamen involved, all rights accruing under the Act, including the rights to have their cases referred to a compensation tribunal or to make application to a prescribed court for judicial review of their claims.
The Act now provides that attendances at certain places are to be regarded as employment for the purposes of attracting compensation cover. This Bill now ensures that cover is extended to employees at living accommodation such as PMG work camps, where the place of employment is geographically situated outside such living accommodation at which employees are required by their employment to reside. Also, the Bill remedies the situation under the Act where an employee though properly excluded from cover during his attendance at his own separate living accommodation, such as married quarters, is not so excluded during his attendance at the separate living accommodation of another employee.
One other minor change will be made where civil damages awarded are reduced because of contributory negligence on the part of the employee. The Act provides that in these cases the amount of compensation recoverable from damages should be reduced in the same proportion as the damages were reduced. The intention was that the amount of compensation to be recovered from damages should not exceed the amount of the damages recovered. However, the Act does not correctly apply this principle and could place some cases where there was no contributory negligence in a less favourable position than other similar cases where there was contributory negligence on the part of the employee. The Bill removes this anomaly. The increases in the rates of monetary benefits, to which I have referred, will apply from the date of the royal assent.
Mr President, in little over 16 months this Parliament has completely remodelled the scheme of Commonwealth employees’ compensation. Perhaps, more correctly, I should say we have created an entirely new scheme. The introduction of full sick pay during a period of total incapacity is the rounding off of what was already a most comprehensive code. I have heard voices raised to the effect that there will be no incentive for an injured worker to return to work. 1 would point out to the Senate that last year we wrote into the legislation, provisions covering rehabilitation and vocational training. These will play their part in restoring injured employees to their maximum working capacities. In any event I have confidence in the integrity of our Commonwealth employees and of the medical profession to ensure that no unfair advantage is taken of the very generous provisions the Government is asking the Parliament to adopt. Mr President, I commend the Bill to the Senate and trust that it will be given a speedy passage.
Debate (on motion by Senator Bishop) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) read a first time.
(3.44) - I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
I understand, Mr President, that we have sorted out our difficulties and I ask that the second reading speech on this Bill be incorporated.
– Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The speech read as follows) -
The purpose of this Bill is to increase various rates and amounts of workers’ compensation payable in respect of seamen and their dependants under the Seamen’s Compensation Act. Such compensation is paid by shipowners and not by the Commonwealth. Compensation for seamen serving in intrastate ships, to whom the Bill does not apply, is paid under State workers’ compensation Acts. These increases are in line with the increases contained in the Compensation (Commonwealth Employees) Bill now awaiting debate, except that, whilst the weekly rate of compensation for a seaman is being increased from$35 to $43, the concept of weekly payments on full pay for 6 months is not being introduced at this stage. In addition to the increase in the weekly rate of compensation for a seaman, the Bill provides for an increase from $8.50 to $11 in the weekly rate for a seaman’s wife and for the basic lump sum death benefit, to which other lump sum benefits for various injuries are related, to be increased from $13,500 to $14,500.
When the Seamen’s Compensation Bill 1971 was introduced it was indicated that action was in train to further amend the Seamen’s Compensation Act to apply a similar code of compensation for seamen as is applied to Commonwealth employees under the Compensation (Commonwealth Employees) Act. Due mainly to the need for a complete review of a complex range of provisions and for consultation with shipowners who are responsible for payment of compensation to seamen, it has not yet been possible to complete the preparation of a Bill incorporating the necessary amendments. The review, and the necessary consultations, will also have regard to the concept now being introduced into the Compensation (Commonwealth Employees) Act, to which I have referred, under which weekly compensation will be on full pay for 6 months. Action is proceeding, however, and a Bill to amend the Act to introduce a new code similar to that for Commonwealth employees will be introduced as soon as practicable. The Bill at present before honourable senators provides improved rates of workers’ compensation for our merchant navy personnel and I commend it to the Senate.
Debate (on motion by Senator Bishop) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) read a first time.
(3.45) - I move:
I ask for leave for the second reading speech to be incorporated in Hansard.
– Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The speech read as follows) -
This Bill give effect to the announcement by the Treasurer (Mr Snedden) in his Budget Speech on 15th August last of the Government’s intention to bring down legislation concerning child care centres. This Government initiative is a tangible expression of its very real and proper concern for the welfare of children. It is designed as a humanitarian measure with particular concern being directed to those in need.
The purpose of the legislation is to ensure the development of child day care facilities of good quality throughout the Commonwealth. Included in the concept ‘good quality’ are both the physical arrangements and the professional staffing, in the provision of which the overriding consideration will be the emotional, intellectual and physical development of children in child care centres.
This legislation expresses the Government’s recognition of the rapidly increasing proportion of married women in the labour force and of the consequences of this phenomenon for the care of their children. Since 1961 the proportion of married women in the labour force has increased from 17 per cent to over 35 per cent. It is evident that, for a wide variety of reasons, an increasing number of married women are choosing to remain in or return to paid employment. They include mothers with young families. It is known that at the present time over 25 per cent of mothers with children under the age of 6 are in the labour force. Some of these mothers are engaged in paid employment in their own homes and care for their children at the same time. But there are over 150,000 pre-school aged children whose mothers, or single fathers, work outside their homes.
Consistent with these developments the Government some time ago established a special section within the Department of Labour and National Service - the Women’s Bureau - to examine problems relating to the employment of women. Its work has included an investigation relating to needs in child care, particularly the needs of working mothers. Its studies covered developments in the field of child day care in most other industrialised countries. Further research programmes instigated in the Department of Labour and National Service and elsewhere subsequently indicated the parameters of the problem of child day care. Most importantly, they revealed that child care facilities had not kept pace with the rapid growth in the female labour force during the 1960s, and that, as a consequence, existing child care facilities were inadequate, qualitatively and quantitatively, for the growing numbers of children needing them. Not only were there too few centres but in many cases the provision was only for child minding and not for the quality of child care appropriate to the educational, emotional and developmental needs of the young children involved.
Having studied the nature of the problem, the Government established a committee of officers to report on the action required for its solution. The committee examined the dimensions of the problem, a range of possible remedial actions. and various approaches to financing. During this examination the committee had the benefit of consultations with State government departments and with representatives from a wide range of local government, professional and voluntary groups and organisations throughout Australia concerned with day care arrangements for children. These consultations revealed, among other things, thai child care which was beneficial to the child’s overall development was prohibitively costly for the large body of parents, and secondly, that the child-minding arrangements that most parents could afford fell far short of the quality that was required in the interests of child welfare. While many working mothers were able to make satisfactory arrangements for their children during working hours, a substantial number were not. partly because of a shortage of child care facilities and partly because of the cost, lt became evident that only through Government action could the problems that had developed in relation to child care be met within an appropriate time scale.
In summary, the Government decided that action was urgently needed: action lo ensure sufficient good quality child care facilities in the community for the proper care and development of pre-school aged children whose parents or guardians are unable, for a variety of reasons, to make other suitable arrangements. These facilities should be available at a cost that is not prohibitive to parents, especially to parents of children in special need. The latter include one-parent families, newly - arrived migrants, low-income groups generally and families where one of the parents is sick or incapacitated. lt is important to acknowledge that this initiative comprehends assistance at 3 levels - that of the child, of the family, and of the community. For that reason there will be no static approach to the concept of child care. The scheme is forward-looking and includes provision to stimulate research into all factors relating to the needs of the community in relation to the care of children, and for experiments in various child day care methods, lt is the Government’s intention to ensure an ongoing evaluation of both the short-term and longterm effects of the measures which this Bill will make possible.
Before describing the scheme I want to emphasise 2 points of substance. Firstly, it is the view of authorities concerned with child care, for example the Child Psychiatry Section of the Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists, that alternate care, provided for young children while their mothers are working, which is inadequate and unsatisfactory, can contribute to emotional disturbance in the child’s later years. Of particular concern is the situation where young children are left in the care of untrained and unsupervised child minders who do not have the facilities conducive to the social and emotional development of young children. Unfortunately, many young children are being taken care of in just such circumstances.
The Government’s initiative is to remedy this situation. Secondly, the Government’s initiative springs from its concern for the welfare of children of working mothers. The increase of working mothers in the labour force is a phenomenon of modern industrial society. I do not make a value judgment upon it. It is also a fact that at present 25 per cent of mothers with children under 6 years of age are in the labour force. That a substantial number of such mothers cannot make satisfactory arrangements for the care of their pre-school aged children is yet another fact. The purpose of the scheme is to meet this existing problem - to help the children of working and other parents insofar as they are deprived of proper child care either because good quality facilities are not available or because the cost is presently too high. The scheme is not intended either to encourage or discourage mothers from entering paid employment.
In summary, the Bill provides for assistance to non-profit organisations, including local governing bodies, to establish and operate centres which provide day care for children of working and sick parents and which give priority of admission to children in special need. For this purpose children in special need are defined in clause 20 of the Bill. The proposed scheme has four main elements, as follows: (i) capital grants; (ii) recurrent grants in respect of qualified staff; (iii) recurrent grants with respect to children in special need; and (iv) grants for research and evaluation of matters relating to child care.
In summary, unmatched capital grants will be provided and made payable direct to eligible organisations for: (i) the purchase, erection, extension or alternation of buildings, including necessary fixtures, and land cost, for use as a child care centre; (ii) the purchase and installation of equipment for use in child care centres. Capital grants will cover up to the full cost of a new centre including land, buildings, fixtures and all necessary equipment. There is no requirement for eligible organisations to match funds provided in the capital grants, and in this respect the scheme is exceptional. The Government regards unmatched grants as the most effective method of ensuring that sufficient new child care centres will be built where they are needed most, particularly in areas of greatest social need.
Provision in the Budget of funds for capital grants in this financial year should enable a substantial expansion of the number of child care places in the community. It is hoped to establish some 50 new centres catering for some 3,000 child care places in the first full year of the scheme. This would provide an increase of about 20 per cent in the number of child care places available in Australia. It is a significant first step, and the Government intends that at least this rate of growth will be sustained in subsequent years. Capital grants other than towards equipment operate on and from 1 6th August, that is the date following the announcement of the scheme by my colleague the Treasurer. Grants for equipment will be operative as from the date the Act receives royal assent.
Organisations Eligible for Capital Grant
The Bill defines organisations eligible for capital grant as including local governing bodies, trusts established for charitable or benevolent purposes, and other organisations that are corporations in the legal sense and are carried on otherwise than for the purpose of profit or gain, as approved by the Minister for Labour and National Service. However, non-profit organisations and associations that are not bodies corporate will be eligible to apply for capital grants in respect of equipment. For its application for an unmatched capital grant to succeed, a claimant organisation will be required to demonstrate that it is capable of efficiently managing a child care centre, and that it can bear the responsibility of ensuring the centre’s financial viability.
Applications for grants will be considered on their merits. Honourable senators will appreciate, however, that claimant organisations will have to demonstrate that they have the organisational structure and capacity to endure, and to use unmatched capital grants effectively. In the case of small, less structured organisations, evidence of this capacity may include the existence of a larger body willing to act as guarantor, or the possession of sufficient assets to ensure the continued operation of the centre. In all cases, the acceptance of a capital grant will automatically involve responsibility for running the child care centre in accordance with the required conditions which I shall deal with later. Local governing authorities and organisations backed by such authority will be particularly well placed to meet these conditions.
Recurrent Grants in Respect of Staff
There is provision for recurrent grants to eligible organisations to encourage the employment of certain types of qualified staff in specified numbers in child care centres. The Government regards these grants as particularly significant because they should improve the quality of the care provided without causing the cost of the service to the parents to increase. Broadly speaking, these recurrent grants will be determined on the following basis. They will be based on a prescribed proportion of the salaries payable to qualified pre-school teachers and nurses employed in centres - the two categories of professionally qualified staff regarded as necessary in centres providing good quality care. This prescribed proportion of salaries will be half.
Where there are 15 or more children 3 years of age or over enrolled full-time, the grant will be in respect of one pre-school teacher. After the first 20 children 3 years of age or over, the grant will be in respect of one qualified nurse for every 20 children or part thereof. There is provision for grants in respect of additional pre-school teachers in child care centres accommodating more than a prescribed number of children. The number will be prescribed by regulation. Younger children under 3 years of age have other and more demanding needs. The basis of the recurrent grant in respect of staff is therefore different. The grant will be available for a qualified nurse employed in a centre for every 10 such children or part thereof for which the centre has enrolments.
The number of children in this context refers to children enrolled for 8 hours during the day in a centre. The Bill includes provision for the calculation of the grant to be made in such a way as to take into account the varying hours that different children might attend centres. The Bill defines a qualified pre-school teacher as a person who has such qualifications as are recognised by the Australian Pre-School Association as being sufficient for a preschool teacher. Thus under the scheme, opportunities will exist for children aged between 3 and 5 years in child care centres to receive pre-school education. The Bill describes in some detail how these grants will be paid to eligible organisations. Arrangements to calculate them are such as to avoid undue fluctuations in the receipt of income by organisations, for example, during school holidays when enrolments in centres might be low.
There are 3 points I wish to make explicit with respect to staffing. Firstly, setting of standards for the employment of qualified persons in child care centres is a function of State or local governments. Secondly, the recurrent grant which I have just described in respect of staffing is intended as an incentive towards the employment of qualified staff. Thirdly, in addition to these staff, in respect of whom grants will be payable, other staff may need to be employed in centres to meet such staffing standards as are laid down under State legislation or local government by-law.
Recurrent Grants with respect to children in special need
The Bill provides for special recurrent grants to enable centres to offer reduced fees in respect of enrolled children from low income and other families in financial need. There have been suggestions from time to time that attendance at child care centres should be free. The Government does not accept this view, except for the most necessitous cases. The fees normally charged to parents of children not in financial need will be of the order presently being charged in the community. For these fees, however, children will enjoy in government assisted centres a quality of care superior to that otherwise available because of the nature of the facilities and the qualified staff provided. Reduced fees will oe charged to parents in financial need, varying with their circumstances. To enable this reduction of fees, eligible organisations will receive special recurrent grants.
The method of determining the amount of these special recurrent grants to organisations is administratively simple and straight forward. The basis of the method will be that an organisation operating a centre will receive payments with respect to children in special need. For this purpose, ‘children in special need’ is defined in the Bill - clause 12 - as children of one parent families, of families in the first 3 years of settlement in Australia, of families where one of the parents is sick or incapacitated, and of families eligible to receive assistance under the subsidised health benefits scheme. The level of the grant paid to organisations operating centres in respect of each child in special need may be up to some $8 per week per child under 3, and some $6 per week per child 3 years of age and over. The maximum rate per hour of attendance per child that may be paid to an organisation will be prescribed by regulation. The actual amounts paid in respect of different centres will vary according to the relative capacity of the respective client parents to pay.
The circumstances of families placing children in child care centres cannot be predicted in advance. Family circumstances, particularly in the more needy section of the community, are subject to considerable fluctuations. For this reason the level of fees charged a family at each point in time must be left to the judgment of supervisors of centres. Supervisors will be expected to take a humane approach in making reduced fees available to parents when and where they judge it to be necessary. This type of flexibility towards the reduction of fees is in line with the current practice in those few existing centres that are presently able to offer reduced fees to certain parents. In administering the scheme the Department of Labour and National Service will provide guidelines to organisations running centres that should assist them in determining the cases and occasions that warrant reduction in fees.
In a scheme of this nature, that relates to the development and care of children, every opportunity must be made to ensure that organisations assisted can operate their child care centres with compassion and with the capacity to help the most needy cases as they arise from time to time. At the same time, it will be the responsibility of organisations operating centres to balance their own financial budgets, taking into account the recurrent grants that will be made available - both in respect of staffing - and with respect to children in special need the fees they can collect, and their other sources of income, if any, against their outgoings for salaries, maintenance of equipment and buildings and other current expenditure.
Eligibility for the Recurrent Grants
At present in Australia there are some 80 child care centres operated on a nonprofit basis. It is expected that non-profit organisations operating these centres will be eligible for both types of recurrent grants in respect of those centres immediately the scheme commences, if they comply with the conditions required under the scheme. Such organisations need not be corporations in the legal sense to be eligible for the recurrent grants. In respect of these grants the scheme will come into operation when the Child Care Act receives royal assent.
Funds for Capital and Recurrent Grants
Funds for capital and recurrent grants amounting to S4.8m have been provided for this financial year in the Appropriation Act (No. 2) 1972-73. It is estimated that the total amount for capital and recurrent grants during the first full year of the scheme will be of the order of $6.5m. Over the first full 3 years, it is envisaged that at least S23m will be expended on these grants.
Conditions Relating to Grants
The Bill provides that before grants are made, the Minister may require the grantee to enter into an agreement and give security for the carrying out of that agreement. The Bill provides 2 mandatory conditions in any such agreement relating to capital or recurrent grants. They are:
The intention of the first of these conditions is to ensure that preference in admission is given to those in greatest need of child day care. The intention of the second is to ensure that centres receiving grants will be open on normal working days and for sufficient hours to cater for the needs of parents or guardians working full time. In effect this will exclude from capital or recurrent grants organisations which operate centres for limited hours and for limited periods of the year. Organisations will need to operate centres for at least 8 hours a day throughout the working year.
Additional conditions may be included in agreements relating to capital and recurrent grants, such as the following:
It will, of course, be obvious to honourable senators that organisations seeking capital grants will have to demonstrate to the satisfaction of the Minister that a need for the new or additional child day care facilities exists.
Standards Advisory Committee
The Bill provides for a child care standards committee to be set up to advise the Minister on the range of facilities that will be covered by the unmatched capital grants to organisations, on the standard of these facilities and on the service provided in child care centres in receipt of grant. In considering appropriate facilities and their standard the committee will, of course, have regard to the standards for child care centres required by State legislation. In addition, this committee will advise the Minister on the comparative merits of individual applications for capital or recurrent grants and, where appropriate, be available to advise organisations who wish to make applications for grants. The committee may also be asked to advise on other matters referred to it in connection with the child care scheme.
The child care standards committee will be assisted by committees in each State. These State committees will act as contact points with organisations seeking capital or recurrent grants. Their members will carry on liaison with applicant organisations following receipt of initial applications and, where appropriate, during the design and construction stages of new centres. In making appointments to these committees, it is the Government’s intention to seek the best advice possible. It is hoped that it will be possible to include officers of relevant State Government departments who can advise on the facilities that should be provided, on the best approach to the development of children in centres, and as to the geographical areas that are in greatest need of additional child care facilities.
The Government intends to ensure that developments in its provision for child care continue to have regard to the wide variety of views that are known to exist in the community on the subject. One practical application of this proposition will be studies to review how the scheme provided for in this legislation is meeting the needs of the child, the family and the community, and to identify inadequacies, if any. Evaluation of the new scheme will be continuous. The second expression of the Government’s concern about future developments is the provision for research to explore the very large field of child care, particularly as it relates to day care, and related areas such as after-school and holiday care for school-aged children.
The Bill provides for funds to be allocated for research and evaluation. The amount will be $200,000 for the remainder of this financial year, and it is anticipated that at least $lm could be spent over the next 3 years. Some of the funds will be used to make grants to suitable research bodies, and some for the employment of experts on contract to examine on-going activities. The scope for research is very wide. The Government is uncommitted as to the eventual directions in which its assistance toward child day care may develop. Because of this the Government wishes to see the examination of the subject continued. One area that will inevitably attract investigation is alternative forms of child day care such as family day care centres. Also worthy of study is the motivation for mothers of young children to continue to care for their own children in their own homes rather than to enter paid employment. For example, in this regard what is the persuasive influence of appropriate family counselling on mothers of young children?
Another area that will need development is the form by which the evaluation of child care arrangements may proceed. It may be possible to involve, say, professionally qualified social workers or sociologists experienced in the child care field to work in and around the government assisted child care centres. These people could report to the Minister from time to time on the overall impact of the present scheme; and additionally, they might make themselves available as opportunities arise as advisers on problem cases and situations to organisations running centres.
Another important avenue for research relates to the training of staff for child care centres. There is a view, for example, that new forms of training are required to meet the needs of children in child care centres. The research would need to concern itself with whether such courses might range from professional to short part-time training arrangements applicable to child care personnel. Obviously these research possibilities and others that might emerge during the course of debate cannot all be undertaken simultaneously; thus the question of priorities arises.
There is provision in this Bill, therefore, for advisory committees to advise the Minister on various matters. One such advisory committee will be established to advise on the allocation of grants for research and evaluation. It is proposed that this committee be called the child care research committee. The functions the Government envisages for this committee are to make recommendations regarding applications for grant; to evaluate the direction of the Government’s child care scheme when requested and to advise accordingly; to recommend measures for the training of child care personnel; to recommend areas for research and experimentation into important aspects of child care; and to advise on the application of research findings.
In conclusion I recall some of the principal factors to which the Government has had regard in developing the scheme provided for in this Bill. Children of preschool age should not be deprived of proper care, and the opportunity for the fullest possible development, because their parents are not looking after them themselves at home during the day. The community’s attitudes to the working mother and working wife have changed dramatically in the last decade or so; there is no question about this. It was confirmed again and again during the consultations which the committee of officers undertook during their examination of the child care problem and to which I have already referred. The attitude of the working mother is that her presence in the community is a fact and that assistance with the care of her children is a need. The Government, in bringing down this legislation, is meeting this need. It will be clear, however, from observations 1 have already made that the Government is not necessarily committed to any one method for achieving this purpose. Its intention is to ensure that the development of its assistance for child day care is kept under close review.
Continuing evaluation of the centres is essential. It is pot the Government’s intention to help additional child care centres into existence and then forget about them. The evaluation will reveal what is happening in the centres and what their impact is on the community, on the families involved and on the children themselves.
Child care centres will be community oriented. This is implicit in the references I have made to their impact on the community. It is basic therefore, that the physical conditions in the centres facilitate and encourage the participation and involvement of parents in the care and development of their children at the centres. One responsibility of the child care standards committee will be to examine designs for centres to ensure that they incorporate physical features which parents placing their children in a centre can use as a community service. More precisely, parents will be encouraged to see the centre as a place to which they can come to discuss the development of their children with other parents, with the staff in the centre and with qualified professional people.
The Government envisages that if a beginning can be made to turn this legislation into reality quickly, we can look forward to an increase of at least 20 per cent per annum over the next 3 years in the number of places for pre-school children that will be available in child care centres. This is worth achieving while research into related developments is being evaluated. It is very important for honourable senators to appreciate that, significant though the increase in physical accommodation is, of much greater importance is the provision for improving the quality of child care that will be available to the community in future years. I draw honourable senators’ attention to the recurrent grants that encourage - indeed, demand - the employment of qualified staff in centres including staff capable of providing pre-school education. The Government is not unmindful of the shortage of such teachers and elsewhere is providing for the support of colleges concerned with their training. Thus, simultaneously the supply of trained preschool teachers is being increased and opportunities are being created for their employment.
The Government welcomes the opportunity to develop this legislation at this time. Under it a scheme is being provided for child care centres of good quality. Parents who use them will have the satisfaction of knowing this. The quality of child care is important not only for parents who, for one reason or another, choose to work, but is important for all parents. In today’s mobile society with families living apart from grandparents and other relatives, there are many who have nowhere to turn when they are ill or in need of assistance with their children during the day.
Child care centres have to be seen in their proper perspective; they are supportive of the family unit and in extreme cases are the alternative to placing children in residential institutions. I commend the Sill to the Senate.
Debate (on motion by Senator Gietzelt) adjourned.
Bill returned from House of Representatives without amendment.
Debate resumed from 12 September (vide page 732), 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 ended 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’.
– On12th September last, some 6 weeks ago, I was speaking to the Budget Papers and particularly to the amendment moved by the Opposition. I was interrupted in my remarks.
– Did you say ‘rudely interrupted’?
– I did not say rudely’.I was interrupted in my remarks, and I was suspended from the Senate.
Could I gently say that 1 feel somewhat aggrieved because in the past 4 weeks statements have been made that overshadow and somewhat dim the statements which I made and which led to my suspension. I am not reflecting on the Chair, but I have a right to feel aggrieved. In support of my statement that the Government was getting far too close to its friends, especially its powerful friends, I mentioned a company called Jetair Australia Ltd. 1 mentioned Jetair, and other things followed. The following day, Senator Turnbull, the Independent senator from Tasmania, said that my comments had revived an interest which he had some 18 months earlier in Jetair. He demanded the tabling of papers. I say that the tabling of the papers, the revelations contained in those papers and the subsequent debates which took place in the Senate and in the House of Representatives support the statements which I made and for which I was suspended.
I shall refer to the debate on Jetair before 1 proceed to another matter. I make this comment: If, on 12th September, 1 reflected upon the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon), perhaps I did him a disservice. But during the period of the debate on Jetair he did himself a greater disservice by refusing to accept what we have been led to expect from Ministers of the Crown. He refused to accept his ministerial responsibility for what happened. He passed on the responsibility for grave errors in relation io the purchase of the Jetair aircraft to employees of the department then in his charge - the Department of Foreign Affairs. He passed on the responsibility to public servants employed by that Department. He did a disservice to the public servants. They should not have been so misused. He also did a disservice to himself. He must take the blame for that. I cannot accept any responsibility for that.
The thing I most resented about his attitude was that, in endeavouring to avoid responsibility, he placed considerable blame on the Department of Supply and the then Minister for Supply. It was some time ago that honourable senators on this side of the chamber first raised the matter in the Senate. It was approximately 2 years ago. A considerable number of questions were asked from this side of the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) who was at that time the Minister for Supply. From the start it was fairly obvious that he was embarrassed. It was evident that the Department of Supply was not at fault. Yet we had this shabby exercise on the part of the Prime Minister in endeavouring to pass that responsibility on to the Department of Supply and the then Minister for Supply. I accept that the Minister for Supply was not at fault. He was not in the country at the time. When he returned he had to face a barrage of questions. It was evident that his Department was not at fault. The fault rests with the Department of Foreign Affairs and with the present Prime Minister. Suspicion still remains, because some questions still have to be answered, that all is not well and that the then Minister for Foreign Affairs did not act in the manner in which he should have acted in the interests of his Department and of Australians.
The other matter which I coupled with the Jetair transaction and which led to my short suspension was my concern about a tax assessment which had been made against Patrick Partners or Patrick Corporation of Sydney. 1 questioned the right of the Commissioner of Taxation to withdraw that assessment. I questioned certain events which led to the withdrawal of that assessment - an appointment being made with the Prime Minister, Mr McMahon, and the subsequent withdrawal of the assessment, which was estimated in financial quarters in Melbourne and Sydney to be in the vicinity of 52.5m. At the time I suggested that there was evidence that a powerful man in Sydney financial circles was able to make a direct approach to the Prime Minister and that a reversal of the assessment followed. Until we know the reason for the reversal of that assessment, the suspicion must remain that there was extended to a prominent Sydney financial figure a special privilege which resulted in the withdrawal of an assessment of $2. 5m.
In belated replies the Treasurer (Mr Snedden) has evaded the question that I asked. If there has been a withdrawal of his assessment it is reasonable that someone should be told why. Not only the taxpayer but also the Parliament, through the Auditor-General or the Treasurer, should be told the reason why an assessment was withdrawn, especially if it is of the size of S2.5m. The reason for that withdrawal may be the reason for an application by another taxpayer for reversal of his assessment. Yet apparently the Commissioner of Taxation has the discretion to reverse such an assessment and has the power to refuse to disclose the reason. I think that this is an area that ought to be investigated. Until we are told, this suspicion will remain about this man and that this assessment was withdrawn because of special representations. I stand on that statement.
It may have been an exercise in avoidance of tax. If it was, it was an avoidance of payment of a considerable sum. Legal men may be able to distinguish the difference between evasion and avoidance. But to ordinary taxpayers there is very little difference between evasion of tax which is reported by the Commissioner of Taxation and avoidance of tax which in this case was not reported. To the ordinary person it seems to mean that the very wealthy can have access to means of avoiding tax, that the Commissioner of Taxation can agree with them and, in having agreed with them, need not disclose the facts. This is an area of powerful discretion that ought to be taken away from the Commissioner of Taxation. The Treasurer says that he has no access to the information, that he has no right to that information and that he cannot ask the Commissioner of Taxation for a reason.
During the sitting of a Senate Estimates Committee I asked the officer representing the Auditor-General whether he had received knowledge in his investigations of the Taxation Department of this withdrawal of an assessment. He said that it was not in the area of his power to seek out this information and report upon it. Here is a situation in which $2. 5m did not come into the Treasury and into the hands of the Government for the benefit of the people. The Auditor-General was not able to report on the reason why an assessment was made in the first place and why it was withdrawn. This is a very large area of discretion in which all things can occur. It is no use the Government denying that they cannot occur because the Commissioner of
Taxation at this point ot time is a man of high integrity. The Commissioner at this time may be so, but it is not denied that that may not always be the case. The whole area is suspect and discretions ought to be limited, especially this discretion, which allows him to reverse an assessment of this size. We ought to have a report somewhere. The Treasurer ought to know. In this case the Treasurer does not know, and, what is more, the Treasurer is not concerned about it. During the sittings of a Senate Estimates Committee I asked the officer who was representing the Commissioner of Taxation about this matter. I was informed by the Minister in charge at the time that I could not pursue that questioning because there was no obligation on the part of the Commissioner of Taxation to report or to divulge. I say that there is always that obligation in anyone, even in the case of a statutory authority. There seems to me - I will speak on this again at another stage - to be always an obligation on a servant of government to report his actions, especially if they happen to be financial actions of this magnitude. I return briefly to the Budget. The amendment proposed by the Australian Labor Party is as follows: 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’.
It has taken me 5 weeks to complete my speech on the Budget. I have 30 seconds remaining to me. I thank you, Mr Acting Deputy President, for your consideration.
Senator POYSER (Victoria) (4. 1 j - I desire to address myself briefly to the Budget and also to support the amendment that was moved some weeks ago by Senator Wriedt. As honourable senators know, I have been away attending a conference. The reason for my late entry into this debate is that there has been no earlier opportunity since I returned to do so. But since my return I have examined this Budget very closely. I have come to one conclusion, and one conclusion only: This is the most cynical Budget that I recall in my life in politics - not just in my life in the Senate - which covers almost a quarter of a century. It is a Budget that is deliberately set for the purpose of bribing people to vole for the Government, a Budget that expresses a belief that people are foolish enough to vote again for a government that has governed extremely badly for 2i years. As that eminent journalist and broadcaster, Frank Chamberlain, said this morning on radio, this is the worst government since Federation. He is a man of wide experience and of long standing in the Parliament. He has seen many governments come and go. If he says that this Government is the worst government since Federation he would base that statement on a long experience of many governments composed of parties from both sides of the Senate.
Wc have a situation today in which the Government is proudly boasting of its great efforts over the last few weeks in minimally increasing employment in this country, says nothing of the 2i years that it has been in office and the deliberate action that it took in last year’s Budget to ensure that unemployment would occur, lt believes that finally the people will succumb to this type of bribery that has been used so prevalently by this Government over the years. It hopes that in 3 short months the people of Australia will forget nearly 3 years of bad government and return it to the Treasury benches. I am certain from my observations and from discussions with many people in the community that this is an action which is just not going to work. They will no longer have this humbug of over 2 years of bad government and 2 years of giving nothing and one year of trying to give everything that is possible to ensure a further term on the Treasury benches, It is now obvious to the people that the policy changes promised by the Australian Labor Party can be attained. They have always been rubbished by the Government and its supporters on the basis: ‘Where will we get the money from’?
It is amazing to see in 3 months the millions of dollars that suddenly have been found in relation to these changes. It is amazing to see the Government at last introducing legislation on home nursing for aged people. This was promised 3 years ago. Initially it was promised almost 4 years ago by Mr Gorton, the then Prime
Minister. He promised it again during the subsequent Senate election campaign. Now we find this important legislation, om of the most important reforms that is required in the structure of our welfare in the Commonwealth, being held back for the purpose of winning an election. It should have been introduced within 6 months, at the latest, of the election of the Gorton Government. The people will not forget the kind of gimmickery that has been exploited by the Government in an attempt to win office for a further 3 years. It is cynical in every respect for any government to employ these tactics.
I want to move to something that has given me a great deal of concern, particularly over the last 2 or 3 years. I refer to the facilities provided for members of Parliament generally and in particular for members of the Senate. 1 think the time has come when every senator has to press for the provision of much better facilities to enable him to carry out his work in this chamber and in the committees to which he belongs, if we are to progress in the way that we believe we can progress as a Senate. It is true that over the last 3 or 4 years the esteem of the Senate has risen greatly, and a major reason for that has been the establishment of the committee system. I exclude entirely the Estimates Committees because everybody knows my views on Estimates Committees. I believe they are superfluous and should not exist. But I believe that the standing and select committees are doing a very worth-while job. But there would be no members of any State parliament or of the House of Representatives in the Commonwealth Parliament who are working harder than are the senators in this place, particularly in relation to the committee work which they are asked to perform outside their normal work within this chamber. Senators are spending many weeks away from their homes in carrying out their work, and they are trying to do a tremendous amount of research into the matters which the committees of which they are members are investigating. It is high time that research facilities were made available to members of committees so that some of this work load could be taken away from them. I am a member of 3 committees. I am now a member of the Public Works Committee. I think that research assistance is required urgently at the committee level by the individual members of committees. 1 was a member of the Senate Standing Committee on Primary and Secondary Industry and Trade which. I understand, is now called the Senate Standing Committee on Industry and Trade. That Committee presently is examining the New ZealandAustralia Free Trade Agreement. It has presented to the Senate an interim report which I read with great interest. I believe that the research work which the members of that Committee would wish to undertake in examining this very complex subject would be beyond their capacity. I believe that if we are to make competent, thoughtful and thorough examinations of the matters referred to these committees there has to be a change in outlook and a change in the attitude to the provision of facilities for members of the committees.
If we cannot get to the point where research officers are appointed to assist individual senators in this area, at least senators who are members of committees, which meet not only in Canberra but also in the other capital cities throughout the Commonwealth, should be able, during some period of the sitting of the Senate, to bring their secretarial staff to Canberra to carry out the essential electoral work and some of the research work which members of committees have to undertake. The situation is now arising in which the camel’s back is going to be broken and we will get a breakdown in the system. People will not be prepared to stay away for weeks, days and hours, as they are doing at the present time, if adequate and proper assistance is not made available to them.
Only last week a matter was submitted for examination by a committee. The resolution was not carried not because of the merits of the subject matter being debated but because of the great work load which already has been placed on committees. That load can be lifted. We can expedite greatly the work of these committees and I believe that the committees can present better reports to the Parliament. We can examine matters in greater depth if adequate facilities are made available to us. I am not asking for the provision of the type of facilities which are given to a senator in the United States of America. They have staffs of up to 40 people. But I believe that if we are to expand the committee system - and we have not delved into this area as yet - we will have to look in depth at the question of committees examining the legislation coming before this chamber, which is part of the mandate that has been given to us.
For instance, today the Attorney-General (Senator Greenwood) presented a very important Bill which will be held over to the next session. That is the kind of legislation at which a committee could look. Yet we would have no possible hope of examining such legislation in the manner in which it should be examined without the provision of additional assistance, which I believe is absolutely essential if we are to make the committee system develop and grow. It seems to me that it suits the establishment to starve members of Parliament of adequate staff and facilities because in that way we are not able to delve into matters as closely as we should. The establishment must have everything preserved for it. I ask the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) to think very seriously about my remarks in relation to these matters because I know that .he is as keen as anybody else to ensure that the committee system not only works but also improves and functions much better than it does today.
We do not want to see the long delays which have occurred in the instance of the report of the Senate Select Committee on Securities and Exchange. As far as J can understand, the preparation of this report is falling virtually on to one person who has much more to do. He has some assistance at one level, but he is not only preparing the report, as the Chairman of the Committee, but he has also to carry out all the other functions that he must perform, as we all must perform as members of this chamber. I believe that these facilities have to be made available now, not in the next Budget or the Budget after that or the year after that. We have to act quickly. We have to show determination in this place individually and collectively and demand the things that we think we should have. Is there any senator sitting in this chamber or listening to this debate in his office who would argue that these facilities are not required by a senator who carries out his duties properly?
– How can we study all the Bills that were introduced only today?
– I had not yet entered into the field of legislative research, which is also important, but, as Senator Douglas McClelland has indicated by way of interjection, several Bills were presented in the Senate today and we will be expected to debate many of them tomorrow. The people handling those Bills on behalf of the Opposition, and other members of the Opposition who wish to speak on the Bills, have not sufficient time nor the facilities to study the implications of the Bills in depth and to be able to put up a worth-while case for either their acceptance, their rejection or their amendment.
– It takes the Government months to prepare Bills and it gives us only hours to consider them.
– Senator Douglas McClelland is completely accurate in those remarks. I want to refer to only one other matter. Earlier in my remarks I referred to the fact that I was privileged to be a member of the Australian delegation to the Inter-Parliamentary Union Conference in Rome in September. I want to place on the public record and on the record of this chamber my complete and sincere appreciation of the services which our overseas posts provided for my wife and myself. 1 refer to our embassies, consulates, high commissions and even migration offices. I do so because I have heard criticism of some of these posts from some members of Parliament when they have returned from overseas. They believe they were not received in a proper manner. I want to go on record - I know my wife would agree with me - as saying that every conceivable courtesy and facility was extended to us at every post throughout the world. I commend the Department of Foreign Affairs for the excellent types of young officer that it has recruited. I am not now referring to the ambassadors and high commissioners, though they all are excellent people, but to the young officers whom the Department has been able to recruit and send to overseas posts. All are of excellent standard. I believe that if we continue to recruit such people, who perform work of the highest standard, this country’s standing in many countries will be very high indeed.
I thank the Senate for having listened to my brief remarks. I was not listed to speak in this debate and the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) could well have said to me: ‘Your name is not included for this debate. You may speak if you wish but I prefer that you should not speak because of the time factor.’ The Leader of the Government in the Senate extended me the courtesy to make these few remarks. I hope the remarks that I have made on committee work and on the general work required in this Senate will hot fall on deaf ears and that we will get results very quickly in the form of the assistance that is so urgently needed if we are to carry out our duties in the manner that the Senate would wish.
– My role now is to close the debate. The Senate will then vote on the amendment moved by Senator Wriedt. By an odd circumstance the 2 senators who immediately preceded me in this debate have had a similar experience to mine. As honourable senators are aware I made the Budget Speech on behalf of the Treasurer (Mr Snedden) on the night of 15th August. I was very ill at the time I made that speech and immediately afterwards I was out of action and spent an extensive period in hospital and recuperating. However, I had an opportunity to look at what was said in the debate when I was allowed to come back and do some private homework on the matter. The odd circumstance that I mentioned is that both Senator Georges and Senator Poyser were overseas on Government business at that time.
I concur completely in Senator Poyser’s view about Australian officers in our overseas posts. In my ministerial capacity relating to the Department of Customs and Excise, the Department of Supply and now the Department of Health I have had occasion to visit overseas ports while under tremendous pressure and with very tight schedules; I, too, took my wife with me on those occasions. We were both tremendously impressed wherever we went with the devotion and dedication of the Australian officers in the overseas posts. They are the kind of Australians we would want them to be; they have a complete sense of duty and responsibility and the only politics they have are the best interests of Australia. I would like to agree with Senator Poyser on another matter also because I shall have to disagree with him on still another, though not in an aggressive way. I concur in what he has said about the role of the Senate and the facilities provided for senators. I have been Leader of the Government in the Senate for 4£ years during which time the Government has not had the numbers in the Senate, and it has not been an easy task. The change in the function and the role of the Senate was just beginning to occur before I succeeded to the leadership. The function and role have altered significantly and tremendously to the stage where the Senate is taking on a role which is somewhat similar to, though not of the magnitude of, the United States Senate. As Senatory Poyser has said, we do not have the facilities which the United States Senate has, we do not receive the emoluments which United States Senators receive and we are not provided with the services which they get, and, in fact, our role constitutionally is different from that of the United States Senate. Nevertheless, in the fields of committee work we have been able to study things which the other House could never hope to put to study. That House is more a debating or political House, though, true, it is the executive House. In this Senate however, we have so planned our function as a Senate, as we are able to through our committees, and to do research which one could not expect members of the other House to do because of their constituency problems. A senator’s constituency is a much wider horizon; it is one or other of the 6 States. We have been able to undertake functions which have tremendously increased our stature and our burdens and responsibilities. However, I do not think that our facilities have kept pace with the work that we are doing. In the debating sense people have said they like to listen to the Senate because we debate a Bill sometimes clause by clause; we debate it in the particularity whereas members in the other place are more concerned with the principle. The other place has the magnificent procedure of moving to the third reading of a Bill forthwith, which is something I would sometimes like to do here, though I would not dare to try to do it too often.
I have agreed with Senator Poyser on certain points that he raised but I cannot support him when he names a Mr Chamberlain as an authority in relation to criticism of the Government. I like Mr Chamberlain only when I hear him broadcasting long-play records from a radio station. But as for his political views - and he holds them very strongly and is of course entitled to them - I would not like to take him as a guide for judgment of those issues. However, I repeat that he arranges magnificent musical programmes on Sunday nights.
Having said that I would like quickly to close the debate so that I can get a vote on it, then put the Appropriation Bills down and secure passage of them. The fact is that far from the Budget being bribery of the electors, as Senator Poyser described it, though I appreciate he used that description in the broad political sense, the whole basis of the Budget was to stimulate the economy. We have heard a good deal of talk about the economic factors and the needs on the employment side. The whole basis of the Government’s consideration was to stimulate the economy and I think that one of the most effective ways by which the Budget has been able to stimulate the economy is in the taxation field. The Government had international monetary problems to deal with and as a consequence of those international economic problems with which we were confronted there was some slack in the economy which it was necessary to deal with. I do not think even our worst enemy would deny that as a result of the budgetary measures that have been put down there has been a significant movement in the economy, a stimulation and greater confidence and greater security in the community. If that means, in the language of Senator Poyser, political bribery, then it is not my understanding of the meaning of it. I think this is a good Budget. The key stimulus in the current Budget comes from the very large taxation concessions and the substantial increases in social welfare benefits which it contains. Will anybody say that those social welfare proposals were not wise? I am bound to say that the Opposition has co-operated in the passage of the Bills relating to the Budget, and those Bills have had a tremendous effect in the development, security and improvement of the economic scene. The taxation concessions will be a cost to revenue of $436m in 1972-73 and$586m in a full year. This will add substantially to the disposable income in Australia. Of course there have been wide-ranging concessions in the personal income tax field. These concessions will reduce the amount of taxation collected by $432m. This money will go into the pockets of individuals. In a full year this will amount to $566m. We are bringing about a reconstruction in the taxation field. I know that during the many years I have been in this chamber constant demands have been made of us in debate for the reconstruction of the taxation tables. I think that this move by the Government is a breakthrough. It is not the end of the matter - far be it. But at least it is a step along the road to the restructuring of the taxation tables.
Is anybody going to say that what the Government has done in relation to estate duty tax - this has been debated here many times - is not a worthwhile reform? The Government’s proposal has meant a doubling of the statutory exemption from duty. Again this is not the end of the road, but at least it is a breakthrough and the people of Australia recognise it as such. In relation to gift duty there have been concessions. The level of exemption from gift duty has been extended from$4,000 to $10,000. This is a significant thing to do in a single Budget. I do not want to traverse the social and repatriation benefits. We have undertaken to remove the means test during the life of a Parliament. We have made a dramatic move towards that in this Budget. I say that the test of what we have done lies in the rewards that are gained. If there are political rewards - any government would be less than human if it did not say that there could be some hope of political reward - they are only transitory. The big reward is to the economy of Australia and in the fact that we will have a happier, better and more economically sound Australia. That is the ultimate test that any man, honourable senator, Minis ter, Prime Minister or any person who comes to the Parliament has to make a final judgment upon.
In my own field there are nursing home benefits. We will probably deal with a Bill tomorrow in relation to this matter. I have had indications that the Opposition will support the Bill. It gives additional benefits to try to assist in the nursing home field. I will not canvass those benefits now because we will be dealing with them tomorrow. All I say in conclusion is that this Budget has been pitched to stimulate the economy. As we walk out of this place into Kings Hall and on to the highways and byways we see evidence of this and when we speak to people we hear evidence of it. I believe that this is what the people of Australia want. I am sure that they are aware that what they are getting is in the best interests of Australia.
That the words proposed to be added (Senator Wriedt’s amendment) be added.
The Senate divided. (The President - Senator Sir Magnus Cormack)
Majority . . . . 7
Question so resolved in the negative.
Original question resolved in the affirmative
Debate resumed from 24 October (vide page 1847), on motion by Senator Greenwood)
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– That is a matter for the Senate.
– That is a suitable course and the Government concurs in what is proposed.
– These 3 Bills are clearly cognate. The substantive Bill is the Crimes (Hijacking of Aircraft) Bill and the other 2 Bills, the Extradition (Commonwealth Countries) Bill and the Extradition (Foreign States) Bill, are supplementary to the first Bill and make provision for the extradition of those persons who have been convicted of offences under the Crimes (Hijacking of Aircraft) Bill. The Australian Labor Party supports the passage of these Bills. The first Bill, the substantial Bill relating to the hijacking of aircraft follows on the Government’s accession to The Hague Convention for the suppression of the unlawful seizure of aircraft which was adopted in The Hague in December 1970. For that reason in itself the Australian Labor Party supports the proposals. We on this side of the House believe that if there are international conventions for the apprehension of offenders and for the suppression of crime, unless there is some disagreement on whether the actions which have been dealt with within such conventions are contrary to our view of what should be a crime, the Commonwealth should accede to these conventions and enabling legislation should be passed through this Parliament so that we can give effect to our international responsibilities.
Clearly any law relating to the hijacking of aircraft deals with matters of a serious nature, matters which should be within the province of this Government and which should be dealt with. The first thing that can be said about the Bill and The Hague Convention is that they do have the tendency at least to make it easier to apprehend those offenders who have engaged in hijacking. Most people who have paid some attention to the prevention of crime are aware that the main deterrent to potential criminals is not the severity of the sentence which may be imposed upon them if they are apprehended but rather the high probability of their apprehension. However severe the penalties may be, if there is a relatively small chance of apprehension the deterrent effect of the law is much less than would be the case if the penalties were perhaps somewhat less but the probability of apprehension and conviction greater. Our acceding to this Convention through the passage of the Bill before us today will, in the view of the Australian Labor Party, make it easier to apprehend, to try and to prosecute and, if they are guilty, to bring to conviction those people who have been involved in these offences.
It has to be said at the same time that what we are seeing now in the hijacking of aircraft is an example of a rather unfortunate phenomenon which is now being increasingly exhibited in many parts of the world, including this country, and that is the resorting to individual violence by certain persons who hope by acts of terrorism to effect some political purpose. For a long time we have been used to collective violence. That has been part of our way of life. Australia has been involved in actions of collective violence from the Boxer Rebellion to the war in Vietnam. There is nothing new in this. It may well be that certain persons would say that, however serious hijacking may be, all the hijacking in the world has not been as disastrous to humanity, or as cruel and callous, as half an hour in the Vietnam war. With this proposition I for one would find it very difficult to disagree. But that does not justify the continuation of actions such as hijacking, bombing and assassination which are becoming more and more prevalent in our society at the present time. If the Attorney-General (Senator Greenwood) recalls his Dostoievsky he may remember that there were quite long discussions of this phenomenon in many of Dostoievsky’s writings.
– We are all familiar with that.
– I have some doubts about that so I may dwell on it for a moment or 2. If one does recall Dostoievsky’s novel ‘The Possessed’ one would remember that the characters in it were residents of Czarist Russia in the latter part of the 19th century and one of their most outstanding characteristics was their membership of small cladestine organisations whose members acted in the same manner as those people who today hijack aircraft and throw bombs. It seemed for some time that some of the political developments which had taken place throughout the world had removed this form of political activity from the world scene. One of the contributions which Marx and the Marxists made to the political struggle in eastern Europe was to give to people the understanding that political changes would not be brought about by individual action such as the throwing of a bomb at the Czar, but by creating mass political movements and mass working class movements which would bring about social changes by political action. It is the belief of the Labor Party that within Australia such changes can be brought about by constitutional political action. This is not the case in every country; possibly it is not the case in many countries. But it is the case in this country and acts of violence have no place here. Acts of terrorism have no place in any country.
One of the problems now faced by the Government of Israel, I would imagine, in its very justified complaints about the acts of terrorism which have been committed against its citizens by certain persons from the Arab countries is that people like Menahem Begin, now a leading member of the Israeli Parliament, was himself responsible through his organisation, the Irgun Zvai Leumi, for the blowing up of the King David Hotel, the assassination of Lord Moyne and the execution of a number of sergeants of the British Army. Certainly the acts of terrorism which were committed by the Irgun and the Stern gang at that time, although perhaps they tended to give some colour to the movement of the Jewish people for the establishment of their national home in Israel, remain like a spectre to haunt that State and damage it in its relations with its neighbours and reduce the effectiveness of its own quite justified complaints about the behaviour of the Black September organisation and others. Whatever one may think about the historical origins of terrorism and hijacking, the fact remains that these are matters which have to be dealt with by a government. The Australian Labor Party believes that this Government has acted properly in according to The Hague Convention, has acted properly in introducing the legislation which is now before the Senate, and for that reason it supports these Bills.
However, I believe that there are indications that there are forces loose in society today which, no matter how much they may be inhibited from engaging in the particular acts of terrorism involved in hijacking, will seek other measures’ because of the lack of confidence which was developed amongst a great many people who desire social change in the mass movements which exist at present. Unfortunately, whether justified or not, in a great many people throughout the world there has been a breakdown of the belief that the mass political movements are capable of achieving the ends which they should be achieving, or at least that they are capable of achieving as quickly as they believe they should be achieved. But while I do not believe that we have seen the last of terrorism, I do believe that the Bill now before us enables the Australian Government, in association with those other governments which are parties to the Convention, to deal with the particular crime of hijacking.
I wish to refer to only one other matter. 1 have mentioned it outside the chamber to the Attorney-General, lt relates to one of the ancillary Bills, the Extradition (Commonwealth Countries) Bill. The Senate Hansard report of 20th November 1968 shows that in the debate on the Extradition (Commonwealth Countries) Bill at that time there was some discussion about the proposed amendments to the law relating to extradition to and from other Commonwealth countries. 1 will not repeat what is to be found in Hansard. I refer briefly to section 11 (3)(a) of the Extradition (Commonwealth Countries) Act, which provides for extradition to other Commonwealth countries provided that the person deported shall not be detained or tried in that country for any offence that is alleged to have been committed or was committed before his surrender, other than certain exceptions which are there set out. The relevant exception refers to the offence to which the requisition for his surrender relates or any other offence of which he could be convicted upon proof of the facts on which that requisition was based.
I put to the Attorney-General, although possibly it would be more appropriate at the Committee stage, that although the Opposition does not propose an amendment some conceivable dangers are involved in the present provisions. Evidence could be presented to the Australian authorities that somebody from another Commonwealth country had done certain things which made out a prima facie case that he had hijacked an aircraft. The person could then be extradited to another Commonwealth country and then upon trial possibly would not be convicted of hijacking or an offence relating to aircraft but would be tried and convicted for what could be described as or what within the meaning of the existing Act is a lesser offence. That is a piece of terminology which is very difficult to define. 1 do not think that I need to elaborate the dangers that could be involved if part of the evidence given related to somebody’s political associations. As I read the Act, as the situation now applies in some Commonwealth countries, a person could be extradited on the ground of his having engaged in hijacking, but on the evidence produced when the extradition order was granted conceivably he could be tried for membership of an illegal organisation or for some other so-called lesser offence which nonetheless would entail a severe penalty. 1 do not believe that this is sufficient reason either to oppose or to amend the Act or the Bill now before us because it is necessary that there should be agreement amongst the countries which are parties to extradition treaties. Otherwise the whole process of extradition becomes meaningless treaty. One cannot have a unilateral extradition. It must be multilateral or at least a bi-lateral arrangement. If this provision has been insisted on by the other countries - I think it was the United Kingdom Government - we have no alternative but to go along with it.
I should be grateful if the AttorneyGeneral would give any information about whether there have been instances involving this country or other Commonwealth countries in which people have been extradited for one offence and subsequently have been charged with a lesser offence. I repeat that I am rather vague as to what is a lesser offence. I would like to know whether people have been charged for an offence other than that for which they were extradited. The Attorney-General may be able to shed some light on this matter which caused some concern to the Senate when it was debated 4 years ago.
I repeat that the Labor Party believes that it is essential that these Bills are passed, that they are necessary for the preservation of our relations with other countries. They are essential to provide machinery whereby people who are engaging in the crime of hijacking, possibly one of the most horrible of crimes, can be charged and extradited. The Australian Labor Party supports the passage of the Bills now before the Senate.
– The Democratic Labor Party supports the Crimes (Hijacking of Aircraft) Bill. It is really a complementary Bill, one of a trilogy of Bills dealing with offences committed in relation to aircraft. This Bill carries into operation a convention which has been concluded by Australia - the Hague Convention - as the immediately preceding Bill presented to this chamber carried into operation the convention described as the Tokyo Convention. Earlier the Senate dealt with legislation of a similar nature, the Crimes (Aircraft) Bill, which dealt in more simple terms with offences in relation to aircraft. The unfortunate development of this type of legislation highlights the fact that the technique of attacks on aircraft and the community by and through the use of aircraft is becoming more prevalent and sophisticated in its operation. New techniques are devised day by day. Ingenuity is being exercised sometimes to effect political purposes, and sometimes for personal or domestic purposes.
It is necessary that the world resort to sophisticated techniques in order to counter that type of operation. Therefore the passage of 3 Bills over a period of years, stemming in each case from an international convention, highlights the fact that the development of such legislation has been necessary. The Bill now before the Senate deals more specifically with the hijacking of aircraft. Others deal with offences committed in relation to aircraft or in relation to people on aircraft. This measure covers the modern crime of the hijacking of aircraft. As I shall indicate, and as the Attorney-General (Senator Greenwood) said in his second reading speech, the Bill goes beyond the immediate offence and the techniques necessary to try to prevent it. It goes to the apprehension of offenders, having them dealt with and if necessary extradited to the countries of which they are nationalists for the necessary criminal or punitive proceedings. Each of the Bills which we are debating concurrently deals more specifically with the new crime of hijacking of aircraft. Clause 8 of the Crimes (Hijacking of Aircraft) Bill provides:
The circumstances in which the last preceding sub-section applies are -
It would be impossible for any legislation of this character to be effective unless it were finally determined on an international basis. It is an international crime. The AttorneyGeneral pointed out in his second reading speech, quite relevantly, that in a sense this is the creation of a new offence, what we will call an international offence. It is a crime against international law. It is a crime against all peoples and against the comity of nations. That it should now emerge as an international crime is quite appropriate and with the recognition of that in a convention its translation into municipal law is equally relevant, desirable and valuable to the modern community.
However, the Bill goes beyond that stage. Opportunity is taken, as the AttorneyGeneral said, by recitation in clause 8 of the Bill to translate into the local scene certain offences which up to this time have been committed or committable but have not been expressly provided for in the statutes, as I understand it. These are not covered by conventions and could not be covered by conventions because they are domestic occurrences and lie within the domestic purview of the municipal law.
An example of a circumstance in which an offence is created as defined in clause 8 (2.) is:
The Attorney-General has recited the types of prescribed flights. A prescribed flight is a flight which is within Australia, or between Australian territories, or from a territory to somewhere else in Australia: in other words it is a flight lying within the constitutional ambit of the Commonwealth. Clause 8 (2.) continues:
In other words, it is within the constitutional ambit of power to which such offences may be attached. Clause 8 (2.) continues:
One or other of those elements docs, in partattract the provisions of the convention. But, in the main, other than the first sub-section to which I referred, which is the prime subsection regarding hijacking, these are offences of municipal law. The opportunity is taken to make them offences which arc chargeable and triable in Australian jurisdiction. I commend the Government for taking this opportunity to broaden the embrace of the criminal law insofar as it deals with domestic offences, committed against aircraft operating in Australia, which are not subject to the provisions of international conventions. This Bill seeks to apply the local law to those situations.
I do not wish to say a great deal more on this matter. It is a piece of complementary legislation but it is necessary to complete the whole picture. As far as possible, within the available legal and political ingenuity of a nation such as Australia, we must try to deal with such offences as we can contemplate. No doubt in time efforts will be made, and perhaps will succeed, to bypass this law and the other statutes. It will be necessary then for this Parliament again to legislate as the inadaquacies and discrepancies of the law become more apparent. There has been a development of this technique from actual offences committed against an aircraft commander or against persons on an aircraft to a crime committed against the aircraft itself, that is, an attempted seizure which we call hijacking - and it is more specifically that offence which is dealt with in the Bill now before the Senate.
It is a matter of considerable gratification that it is possible for nations with different systems of law and in different stages of development to come together and after a period to reach a conventional agreement in which they shall call their municipal law in international aid for the prevention of crimes of this nature. It is a very hopeful sign for the world and humanity when this is found possible. We can only hope it is a process that we will see developing in many other areas of life because there are many calls for this type of co-operation. With means of speedy movement across the world crimes can be rapidly transmitted from nation to nation and from country to country and the perpetrators of crime can travel with great speed from one jurisdiction to another.
The international development of conventional law is becoming of great importance. We would hope that this is only another step in the process of the achievement of general international attitudes on the question of crimes which violate the whole and accepted principle of the desired immunity and sanctity of human and national life. I have nothing to add beyond congratulating the Government on the successful conclusion of this Convention and its final passage into our domestic law. We hope and pray that while the availability of process may not finally deter those who do perpetrate violations of international comity at least this legislation demonstrates Australia’s strong opposition to these offences. This action has greater impact as it comes from a country that is not subject in any great measure to this type of crime.
We are propounding these laws and abiding by these conventions, as a country which has, by virtue of its way of life and political system, certain freedom from crimes of this nature. Nevertheless we have joined in aid and comfort to the rest of the world and for our own protection to play our part to establish an international system of law. I think the nation should take a great deal of credit for our participation in the development of this international accord. The Australian Democratic Labor Party supports the Bill. We trust that, this being perhaps the pinnacle of the legislative programme in this field, it may have some major effect as a deterrent in a field in which deterrents may not be the answer. But it is the only course available and one that we have adequately, and I hope successfully, seized.
– In entering this debate, I endorse fully all that my colleague, Senator Wheeldon, said on behalf of the Opposition. I am anxious that in his reply the Attorney-General (Senator Greenwood) should be very definite on the rigid application of the provisions of this legislation. I do not say that in a patronising manner. If we look at the history of attempts to curb the offence of hijacking in the last 5 years we find that a double standard of values has been applied. That may not be the correct term to use. World politics may have been a potent factor in dealing with this crime. The Attorney-General would know of instances in which people have hijacked aircraft to travel from Czechoslovakia to West Germany. I can think of situations of lesser importance involving smaller countries such as Finland in which the Foreign Minister of the country concerned may be at the shoulder of the
Attorney-General suggesting that the application of the law should be cooled a little bit.
Despite the provisions of this Bill and what has been said by the other speakers in this debate, I wish to raise with the Attorney-General several hypothetical questions. As air travel continues to expand, somebody may attempt to use a violent form of action such as hijacking to travel from mainland China. Conversely, some person may wish to use the same technique to travel from Chile. The forms of government which prevail in those countries are different from the form of government in office in Greece at the moment. The Attorney-General will know that 1 have raised that aspect of the matter before. Let us assume that as the result of hijacking an aircraft a person finally lands in Australia. The point that I put very clearly to the Attorney-General is that it would be fateful to the whole spirit of the legislation if we were to consider the offence in terms of the ideology of the country in which that offence originated.
On the one hand, the aircraft could have been hijacked from Chile or from mainland China. The hijacker would face a specific fate under the regimes of those countries when he was extradited. If a hijacking crime was viewed against the ideology of the Greek Government, assuming that Greece was the country from which the aircraft was hijacked, the hijacker? would face a similar fate. In every one of these instances the reigning Government could be termed authoritarian. If the Government defends one of them or a different type of authoritarian Government we might as well refuse passage to the legislation.
It is not my wish to prejudge the sentiments of the Government. I hope that a hijacking involving Australia does not occur. But let us assume that such a situation arises here. Senator Greenwood, as the Attorney-General, will be the Minister responsible for pressing the button to make the final decision. That being the case, we must face up to the fact that nobody knows from what country a hijacker of an aircraft may come. If we read the European Press we will acknowledge that in some hijacking cases situations are created in which those who commit the crimes might be classified as political refugees in the countries in which they land.
I do not wish to pass over consideration of that aspect. I give the example of a person who may cross a border to escape from a country because he is at odds with the government of that country. He may commandeer a ship or take some other action which gives him a sporting chance to escape. On the other hand, he may commandeer an aircraft and place the lives of more than 40 passengers on the line. The magnitude of his action in the latter case is different from the earlier example.
It is not my wish to belabour the point. I understand the timetable to which we must adhere in the latter days of the proceedings of this Parliament. But I do say respectfully to the Attorney-General - I think that he will agree with me - that we must be rigidly consistent in applying the legislation to those who transgress. We should not be interested in whether the crime originates in a country which has a government of this colour or that colour. We should say that a breach of the law has been committed, that we agree with the concept of internationalism and that the law in respect of that offence shall be applied. I conclude on that point.
– in reply - I think the general concurrence with the purposes of this measure expressed by those honourable senators who have spoken in this debate reflects the concern we all have that appropriate deterrent legislation should be on our statute books to prevent hijacking. As Senator Byrne indicated, deterrent legislation may not be so efficacious as we would all hope to prevent hijacking occurring. I think that Senator Wheeldon clearly indicated that there appears to be a possessed group of people in the world today who are prepared to resort to any means to achieve their objectives. If those people are prepared to resort to murder, to terrorism and even to hijacking, there is very little that can be done to prevent them. Legislation in itself will not prevent them. Having said that, we all recognise that there ought to be legislation if that legislation can achieve certain objectives.
The purpose of this legislation is to give effect to an international convention. That international convention should be ratified by as many countries as possible so that there is an agreed course of conduct between countries. That agreed course of conduct is that there should be an effective means of ensuring that whenever a person hijacks an aeroplane the country to which he takes that aircraft is under an obligation to deal with that hijacker. If it can be shown that a hijacker, no matter where he hijacks the aircraft, will find when be reaches the point where he must come down that he will be dealt with, I feel that as far as legislation is concerned we have the deterrent effect at its maximum.
Australia has not been slow in taking action and in passing laws to indicate the seriousness with which our society views any criminal acts on board aircraft. I detailed in my second reading speech how in 1963 this Parliament enacted the Crimes (Aircraft) Act in which activities of the character of hijacking, though they were not so prevalent then, were comprehended by its provisions. There are serious offences contained in the Crimes (Aircraft) Act which has been in operation in this country for approximately 9 years. To the extent of our constitutional power, we legislated to make it an offence to take certain action in aircraft which were flying in Australia, in respect of international aircraft which were on the last leg of their trip to Australia or the first leg of their trip out of Australia, and in respect of crimes committed on Commonwealth aircraft wherever those aircraft might be.
It will be appreciated that there are gaps in the international sense in the scope of that Australian legislation. Those gaps were covered by the Hague Convention which this Bill now before the Senate is to ratify. Now if there is a hijacker in any part of the world who brings a plane to Australia - maybe we are fortunate that our remoteness from the main air routes is likely to be a factor dissuading such people from coming to Australia - there is an obligation cast upon this nation and this Government, and this Government would accept that obligation.
I think that it is in relation to this aspect that I should refer to what Senator
Mulvihill said. I appreciate the need - I think this really is at the base of his concern - for the action which is taken to be known in advance as action which will be taken. I agree with those sentiments, but it is not necessary under the provisions of the Convention or of this legislation to extradite the person to the country whose aircraft has been hijacked. The obligation which the Convention - and this legislation in our case - imposes upon the country to which the hijacker takes the aircraft is to take him into custody and then to decide whether he will be extradited or whether he will be tried in that country. I think there are difficulties in extraditing or sending back to a country where the fate which will be the lot of the hijacker is ordained, where maybe, the fate because of the hijacking is not so important to him as the political beliefs which he holds. I think we would be reluctant to take that step. I think that notwithstanding the examples Senator Mulvihill used, he would be reluctant for that step to be. taken. But the alternative in those circumstances is contained in the discretion which is vested in the appropriate Minister in this country that that person may be tried in Australia. I think that if this legislation is to have teeth and the effect which it is designed to have, one of those 2 alternatives, without exception, must be followed.
Senator Wheeldon raised for my consideration the question whether, if a person is extradited, the country which has secured the extradition may nevertheless try this person for offences of a different character from the offence for which he has been extradited. I accept what Senator Wheeldon said. If he is extradited, the country to which he is extradited is under an obligation, if it be a Commonwealth country, to try him for the offence for which he has been extradited and no other offence unless the offence is a lesser offence. That is clear by the terms of the 1968 Extradition (Commonwealth Countries) Act. If I might put it in short form, if a person is extradited from Australia to the United Kingdom, for example, for a hijacking offence, he may be tried in the United Kingdom for hijacking. But if there should be some defect in the charge and it is sought to try him on a different charge, it must be a lesser offence. I would imagine that examples of a lesser offence would be an attempt to hijack or a conspiracy to hijack. But he could not be tried for an offence related to another aircraft or an offence related to property or to personal injury to another person.
– In relation to that aircraft?
– Whether it be in relation to that aircraft or whether it be in relation to another person altogether.
– So the general municipal criminal law could not be applied to him once he came into the jurisdiction?
– I am quite sure that the way Senator Byrne phrases it is quitecorrect. If he looks, for example, at section 11 of the 1968 Extradition (Commonwealth Countries) Act he will see that a person who has been extradited to this Commonwealth country is not to be detained except for the specified reasons which are there set out. Those specified reasons indicate that it is only for the purpose of trying him for the offence for which he has been extradited or for any lesser offence which is based upon the facts of the offence for which he has been extradited. That is the scheme behind this trilogy of Bills which comprehend this legislation which the Parliament has before it.
– Say, for example, that evidence is given, amongst other things, that the person belonged to some illegal political organisation and that he also hijacked a plane. After having been extradited could he be charged with membership of the illegal political organisation of which evidence had been given in Australia and which is the lesser offence? That is the sort of problem I refer to.
– I think Senator Wheeldon will appreciate that much depends upon the precise facts. On the facts explained to me by the honourable senator I think that unquestionably he could not be tried for being a member of such an organisation because it would not be a lesser offence. Having said that, which is the way 1 would approach it, one cannot divine in advance all the curious collection of facts which might be obtained to create a case in a particular set of circumstances. The general rule would be as Senator
Wheeldon expressed it. I think the Senate endorses the purposes of this legislation. From what honourable senators have said, I sense that there are no particular problems with regard to the provisions of the legislation. I thank the Senate for its ready acceptance of the Government’s proposals.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Consideration resumed from 11 October (vide page 1418), on motion by Senator Greenwood:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Consideration resumed from 11 October (vide page 1418), on motion by Senator Greenwood:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Debate resumed from 17 October (vide page 1572), on motion by Senator DrakeBrockman:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Laucke) - Is there any objection? There being no objection, that course shall be followed.
– I was about to ask the Minister for Air (Senator DrakeBrockman) whether he would agree, with the concurrence of the Senate, to the Wool Industry Bill and the Wool (Deficiency Payments) Bill being considered together. I am very pleased that the Minister has suggested that course because it will expedite our business tonight. I deal firstly with the latter Bill because I think we can complete our considerations of it quickly. The Opposition is not opposing this Bill. It is practically the same as a Bill that was introduced in 1971. The deficiency payments could be required in the coming year. We see no reason why this legislation should not be enacted. There is an interesting point about the Bill. With the variation in the cost of living and with the other monetary factors involved, what was considered to be a correct payment last year may not be the correct payment this year: If this is the correct payment this year, perhaps it should have been less last year, or if this was the correct payment last year, perhaps it should be more this year. I mention that just in passing. We are not opposing the Bill. I think the Minister will be aware of that fact.
I deal now with the Wool Industry Bill. It has been expected by the wool industry for some time, following requests, demands and urgings that have been made by various organisations in the industry - the Australian Wool Industry Conference, farmers’ organisations and farmers’ and graziers’ associations - that something should be done about the parlous situation that existed in the industry until quite recently. The Wool Industry Conference asked that 3 points be considered by the Government. The first point was that the Government should combine the Australian Wool Board and the Australian Wool Commission into one corporation. I think this suggestion met with support from all quarters. The second point was that some form of reserve price scheme should be arranged to help the industry, where required. This point was universally accepted. The third and important point was that a statutory body should be set up to acquire and market wool. This proposal was not supported to the same degree as the other 2 matters, but the support was practically unanimous.
I have received telegrams from organisations of farmers and from individual groups of farmers urging that at this time the Senate and I in particular - 4his is no problem as far as I am concerned because I will move an amendment in the Committee stage - should seriously consider an amendment to the Bill to enable the question of acquisitions to be looked at more closely by the corporation Which is to be set up. I wish to refer to the second reading speech of the Minister. I note particularly that he said:
In amalgamating the Wool Board and the Wool Commission into one body the Government is acting in accordance with the wishes of the industry. In March of this year the Australian Wool Industry Conference submitted to the Government proposals recommending this action, In addition the Conference recommended that the new body should be equipped with wide powers including the power compulsorily to acquire the total Australian wool clip.
I am not purporting to read out all that the Minister said in explanation of why it was not considered possible to go ahead with this point of acquisition. Further on he states:
Rather than, delay action on the industry proposals the Government decided to proceed with the merging of the Wool Board and the Wool Commission and specifically to empower the new Wool Corporation to investigate the whole question of wool marketing and prepare a detailed plan for a compulsory acquisition scheme, clearly defined in all respects. The plan will need to be acceptable to the wool industry, the State governments and the Commonwealth Government.
Taking the last sentence first, I do not think that there will be any difficulty in gaining acceptance from the wool industry. The industry has said in no uncertain terms that it wants a compulsory acquisition scheme and a statutory body to administer it. I do not think that the State governments will hold out if this is the wish of the industry, particularly if the Commonwealth Government is acceding to the requests of the Australian Wool Industry Conference made earlier this year. These are points that I want to be considered.
When we look at what the Minister has said and then try to find wording in the Bill which sets out this request to the new Corporation to put these matters into effect, we do not find one mention of the word ‘acquisition’ anywhere except once, in reference to acquiring buildings. There is nothing about acquiring the wool clip. Clause 5 sets out the objects of the Bill. They are as follows:
The last line of the clause states: and this Act shall be construed and administered accordingly.
There is not a word about wool acquisition. This is very important. In clause 6 all the definitions of the terms used in the Bill are set out. There is no mention there of acquisition. I would think that there would have to be some definition of the terms put into the Bill and, in particular, some reference to the acquisition of the total Australian wool clip. The nearest we get to that is in clause 38 which deals with wool marketing. Clause 38 (o) instructs the new body as follows: to inquire into (whether alone or in co-operation with other authorities and organizations), and from time to time report to the Minister and to the Australian Wool Industry Conference upon, methods of marketing wool (including any changes in wool marketing procedures that the Corporation considers necessary to enable the Corporation to exercise control over the marketing of all wool produced in Australia) and any other matters connected with the marketing of wool;
This is a pretty broad sort of thing. It is not specific enough. It does not say that there ought to be a report brought down within a specified period. It could go on for 3 years or 5 years. We already have reports that have been requested. The first big one was the Crawford report. Then we had the Randall report, which was not so emphatic about acquisition but which did not by-pass it. Now we have the actual Australian Wool Industry Conference reporting its inquiries from the industry as a whole, and nowhere in the measure do we find any mention of this or any time limit set down as to when the report should be made by the new Corporation. I think that these are very important facts.
The Bill, which I am not opposing, has been very widely discussed in the other place.I believe that the important thing is that we. should look very closely at its lim itations with regard to this point of acquisition. I am now having distributed amendments which we will move at the Committee stage. It is important to see that this lack in the Bill is corrected. From my conversations with wool growers in many parts of Australia I think that this is the sort of thing they want. They are not asking, and neither am I - I make this quite clear - for the acquisition plan to be implemented at this moment or even with the passage of this Bill. I am asking on behalf of the Opposition - I believe that many others desire this in view of the correspondence and telegrams that I, and no doubt many other honourable senators have received - that the Corporation be empowered specifically to look at the. question of acquisition and speedily make a report to the Parliament within 6 months. This is in the terms of the proposed amendment to clause 38 (o) which would insert a new clause 38 (oa). I will deal with that when we come to the Committee stage.
There are a number of other things that I think the new Corporation will look at. It has been instructed to do so. It will carry out this task quite faithfully. They are matters relating to objective measurement, matters that will reduce the cost of displaying wool for the benefit of the producer and the question of heavier bales. I am sure that all these facets will be taken into consideration. I have indicated that the Opposition is not opposed to the second reading of the Bill, but we see the limitations of the measure. We will deal with them at the Committee stage. Therefore, I say at this point that we will give the Bill a second reading.
-I support the Bills before the Senate. The main purpose of the Wool Industry Bill is to amalgamate the Australian Wool Board and the Australian Wool Commission into what is to be called the Australian Wool Corporation. I believe that this is another step along the path that has been taken in recent years towards introducing more efficiency into this great Australian industry. Of course, it will mean that now the important avenues of research, marketing and promotion will come under the control of one body. After all, these matters are inter-related. Marketing has been the function of the Australian
Wool Commission since the inception of the floor price scheme, and it is important that this aspect should be tied to promotion and research.
The wool industry has been the most important industry to Australia. Since the Second World War it has earned more than $26,000m in overseas income and it must have been responsible for a great deal of the development that has occurred in Australia. Apart from last year when deficiency payments amounting to $52m were given to the industry, the industry has seldom been a burden on the Australian taxpayers. In fact, in some areas during the better times in the wool industry there was a loading on transport costs and so on. Consequently, I think that the wool industry has put more into the coffers of the various governments than it has ever taken out. Last year, as a result of the operations of the Australian Wool Commission and the deficiency payments scheme, we were able to maintain the industry in difficult times. Of course, recently the price of wool has risen and we are still wondering at what level the price will settle, what price wool should command in the world market. I do not think that anyone can give a definite answer to these questions.
Some people say that because of inflation the prices of all sorts of products have increased and that the price of wool should be a lot higher than it is today. But of course we cannot compare the price of wool with the price of motor cars, washing machined or something like that. The price of wool has to be compared with the price of its competitors, synthetics. It is interesting to note the price of synthetics and what has happened with synthetics over the last 10 years. Not only has the quality of synthetics been improved, but also in most instances the price has been halved since 1962. I refer to polyester fibres which are probably the main competitors of wool at the present time. In I960 the price of polyester fibres in the United Kingdom was 120 pence per lb and in 1971 it was down to 67 pence per lb. In 1960 the price of polyester fibres in the United States was 136c per lb and now it is down to 62c per lb. In Japan the price for polyester fibres was 884 yen in 1960 and it is now down to 253 yen per lb. This gives some idea of the prices of the competitors of wool.
If we were to proceed on that basis alone we might say that the price of wool at the present time is too high. But I believe that there are other factors involved, the most important of which would be the consumers themselves. The consumers, particularly in the garment trade, are a pretty fickle lot, and we never know from one day to another what their choice will be, what type of fibres they will choose. At the present time there appears to be a trend back towards wool among most of the consumers in the world. Then we run into another interesting factor concerning wool. At about the end of the last war wool accounted for between 16 to 18 per cent of the world’s needs for apparel fibres. In other words, we could produce between 16 and 18 per cent of the world’s requirements for apparel fibres. Although wool production throughout the world has increased from that time to this, it has not increased at the same rate as has the demand for apparel fibres and. consequently, wool now accounts for less than 8 per cent of the world’s needs for apparel fibres, and as time goes on it will account for even less.
We have to consider whether wool will become a prestige garment material and whether people will be prepared to pay more for wool because it will be fashionable to wear wool as it will be so darn difficult to acquire. We do not know the answer to these questions. We have seen in the garment trade that people will pay a lot more money for something that is fashionable. Consequently, we in Australia have to look at our wool industry. We have to introduce more expertise into it and co-ordinate the whole of the industry. This is what the Bill is actually doing. We are setting up a Corporation of 9 people who will be selected by the Australian Wool Industry Conference which is, one might say, the parliament of the wool industry. The Chairman of the Corporation will be appointed by the Government and there will be on the Corporation another Government nominee and 3 other people with special expertise - no doubt from the manufacturing side and perhaps the financial side.
– Do you know who they will be?
– They have not been nominated as yet. This is a matter for the Government to decide in the future. Once we set up this Corporation I believe that it will be the prime body to decide the future of the wool industry, to recommend to the government of the day just what it believes are the methods to be taken to improve the efficient handling of the clip, whether it be an acquisition scheme or some other kind of scheme. We have heard a lot about acquisition schemes, but there are so many acquisition schemes and so many variations of them that it is very difficult to determine what is what. One thing we do know is that the Corporation, as was the case with the Wool Commission, will have power to acquire wool if it is necessary, if the Corporation considers that it is in the interests of the industry to do so or if certain operations are taking place which are not in the interests of the wool industry. If there is a concerted effort for private buying or an attempt to obviate will be able to step in. I believe that this is an ideal situation. Rather than set up further committees - and we have had plenty of them, all recommending different things - let us have experts who will run the wool industry for us, handle the whole of the promotion, research and marketing, because they will have the expertise and inside knowledge of all the operations of the industry. Let those people decide and recommend what changes should be made.
Australia produces about 30 per cent of the world’s wool, and 94 per cent of Australia’s production is sold overseas. So there is not much point in our telling the manufacturing side of the industry, which is nearly all located overseas, what sort of wool it will buy, how it will buy it and what price it will pay. I believe that this has to be done by negotiation, through the Wool Corporation, with the manufacturers in particular. There are 2 groups of people really concerned in this, the producers and the manufacturers. Unfortunately in the past too many others have been involved in the process. I believe that we will reach the situation where the manufacturers and the Australian Wool Corporation will be able to get together and work out, to their mutual benefit, the prices, the methods of selling and so on. If wool is to be in such short supply, if ‘he demand for apparel fibres is to increase and the wool industry is not able to produce its share of the market, then we will run into difficulties in trying to supply the markets throughout the world, and this is another reason why the Corporation will have to work in close co-operation with overseas manufacturers. We have heard a lot about acquisition schemes. If we socialise this industry and if some body takes the whole lot of the wool, how will the wool be sold? Will it be sold by tender? Will we say to one manufacturer in Britain: ‘You cannot have any wool this year; we will give it to somebody else’? I think that there has to be a lot of co-operation.
– How is the wool sold now?
– It is still all sold under the auction system.
Sitting suspended from 5;45 to 8 p.m.
– When the sitting was suspended I was discussing the Wool Industry Bill. I had said that once the new corporation is formed it will have the job of looking after the future of this Australian industry, particularly in regard to research, promotion and marketing. I believe that as a result of the expertise which this corporation is expected to have from 4 members selected by the Australian Wool Industry Conference and others of special qualifications, it will be able to decide what will be in the best interests of the industry in the future. I do not believe that we should tie it down with time limits as suggested by the Opposition’s proposed amendment. This is all part of the job which the corporation will have to perform.
Another matter which I mentioned earlier is our problem for the future to supply sufficient wool for the world demand for apparel fibre. We could reach a situation in which many manufacturers overseas will be unable to secure wool, though they are able to do so now through the auction system with the price at times jumping all over the place. We may have to select areas and supply wool to them at a fixed price. But probably at some time in the future the corporation will have to look at the possibility of processing wool part of the way or all the way for apparel garments. The manufacturing field in Australia suffers from the fact that it does not have the throughput to compete with other nations; this is particularly so in the electrical industry and the automotive industry. Nations like Japan and the United States can produce equivalent articles at a much cheaper price than ours because of their tremendous turnover and throughput. It may bc possible for manufacturers in Australia to process a certain proportion of our wool, perhaps even up to 50 per cent of production, by setting up a big industrial complex and processing to that stage. However, that is a matter for this corporation to investigate. 1 commend the Government for having set up the corporation for I believe it will bring a great deal of good not only for the wool industry but for the nation as a whole because the wool industry is so important.
I understand that the Wool (Deficiency Payments) Bill is to be discussed in conjunction with the Wool Industry Bill and I should like to make some remarks about it. I am very pleased that the Government gave an assurance that it would guarantee a price of 36c for the next 12 months. This has had a particular effect in Queensland where about 70 per cent of the State’s sheep are shorn in the first 2i months of the financial year. Had the Government not given this assurance early it is possible that many wool growers, not knowing what the future market held for them or what the price of wool would be, were thinking of shearing a second time in the one year in order to make sure of the deficiency payment. Of course, this would have disrupted the whole of the industry in Queensland. But once the price of wool went up at auction and the Government gave an assurance that it would bring down this Bill during this session, that complication did not arise. So I congratulate the Government on giving that assurance. It is quite possible, indeed most probable, that no deficiency payments will be made as a result of the present price being realised for wool and what we may expect for the rest of this season. I support both Bills and I hope that they have a speedy passage.
– I shall not detain the Senate but I wish to make a few remarks about the Wool Industry Bill and the Wool (Deficiency Payments)
Bill which are being debated together. I think it would be true to say that the combination of the wool deficiency payments scheme and the activities of the Australian Wool Commission, welded together as they have been for the past 12 months in fact if not in theory, have produced perhaps one of the most efficient forms of aid to rural industry that this Government or any other has produced. I congratulate the Government on what it has done and I approve strongly of the 2 Bills which we are debating tonight. It will be recalled, but I should like to recapitulate it briefly, that a little over 12 months ago the wool industry was in a parlous condition. Average prices for greasy wool were between 26c and 29c per lb, a price which made production virtually uneconomic. It reflected great courage on the part of the Government that it was prepared to set up the original wool deficiency payments scheme with an initial capital of SI 00m plus SI 8m for administrative costs.
This proved to be perhaps one of the most successful of government ventures into industry, if I can put it that way, in recent times. Although the deficiency payment was guaranteed at 36c per lb, as a result of careful and intelligent management by the Commission it now appears clear that far from costing the taxpayer anything the Commission will wind up this’ section of its activities at all events with a profit of. between $20m and $25m. So in that sense both the Government and the wool grower have had the best of both worlds. Not only has the wool grower had the benefit of a guaranteed price for his product but the taxpayer who was supporting him in circumstances of very great difficulty has found that he has not had to contribute anything because of the intelligent way in which the Commission has been administered - and, I must concede, the rather fortunate upturn in wool prices which is now taking place.
Senator Maunsell said that it is unlikely in the immediate future that wool deficiency payments will be called upon because of, as I have said, the upturn in prices. There has been a very marked improvement in sales and so far as the experts can tell us - of course, nobody can be infallible in these matters - it seems that prices next season will be at least as buoyant as those realised towards the end of the current season. There is one other matter to which I would like to draw attention. I feel that since the deficiency payments scheme is designed to provide a form of stability in the industry or a form of certainty for the grower, this could more advantageously be done if the period in respect of which the legislation was passed was, say, 3 years instead of one year. However, I leave this for the Government to consider. Last year when this matter originally came before the Parliament it was disappointing to find that the Opposition was, in essence, opposed to it. I think it is true to say that its entire policy revolves around compulsory acquisition. In the wool industry there is a fair division of opinion on this matter. Many wool growers believe that compulsory acquisition is desirable and many believe that it is undesirable. I think it was prudent of the Government to give the directors of the Australian Wool Corporation which is being formed the task of conducting a full and comprehensive inquiry into all systems of marketing.
There are 8 or 9 parts of the Wool Industry Bill. I do not propose to traverse them all since my main interest in entering this matter was to refer to deficiency payments. If we look at the economics of the matter there might be some quibble over the 79.37c per kilogramme which was the original level at which the deficiency payments were guaranteed. That amount is equivalent to 36.07c per lb. I am taking no strong part in this. I merely mention matters which have been put to me by various wool growers in Victoria. It could well be that with the increasing costs in the industry 36.07c per lb or 79.37c per kilogramme may not represent the certain guarantee which the Government had intended the industry to receive. Without pretending to be dogmatic in this case - I shall speak of the old fashioned monetary units - I have here strong and persuasive arguments to show that the guaranteed price should be between 42c and 45c per lb. But that is a matter which the more erudite and experienced people in the industry are in a better position to recommend to the Government. No doubt the directors of the Wool Corporation will do that when their inquiry is completed.
I feel that this legislation is important since it is needful that the Corporation have authority to control the complete marketing of wool. It may well be - I am not dogmatic about this - that after due and complete inquiry the directors may recommend some form of compulsory acquisition. Of course they will have power to police the clip, to check on samples and to do all things needful to maintain the high standard of Australian wool selling. One of the difficulties in the past in relation to wool marketing has been that from the fall of the hammer the wool growers had little or no control over the cost of freight and shipping of his product, lt appears to me that if we have this Wool Corporation, this omnipotent body controlling the industry - I use the. words in a generic sense - having regard to the finance available it might well be in a position to sell wool at the point of demand so that freight could be under . its control before the goods left Australia. As I said earlier I do not propose to traverse the whole 8 parts of the Wool Industry Bill because my interest is mainly to direct attention to the significance of the Wool (Deficiency Payments) Bill. This is one of the most successful and interesting excursions by the Government into the field of assistance for rural industry. I commend both Bills to the Senate.
– The Australian Democratic Labor Party indicates that it will support the second reading of both the Wool Industry Bill and the Wool (Deficiency Payments) Bill. I congratulate the Government on keeping its cool. I think it is quite obvious to anybody who has followed the hazards of this industry that when the Australian Wool Commission was first formulated there were grave doubts in many people’s minds as to whether it would work out as a saviour of the. industry. Rather it was looked upon as something which might postpone the evil day which could be expected. There were all sorts of plans and ideas. It was suggested that perhaps the price, being offered was not enough and that it should be higher. In some cases it was said that the price would go a lot lower. Unquestionably it would have had it not been for the activities of the Australian Wool Commission. I know that I expressed doubts as time seemed to pass by and stocks seemed to grow. Many people in the industry were expressing doubts to me as they saw an avalanche °f supply building up in the hands of the Commission. They wondered whether this would not prove to be a further hazard because of the new clips which were to follow. Now all those problems have been resolved. I think it behoves everybody to congratulate the Government upon its coolness and for its tenacity in hanging on when it seemed, temporarily at least, that it might not succeed. But it has succeeded. The. industry has pulled through to far better days.
One wonders whether the attack on the price of wool in this country was completely natural or whether there was some organisational basis behind it. There must have been some people in the industry who required at least some stocks of wool and who ran their stocks inordinately low when wool was cheap. Now they have been forced to buy on a higher market to reestablish stocks. That may or may not be the position; I do not have sufficient experience in the industry to know. It appears that there were at least some attempts on world markets to try to manipulate the market in the interests of people who had some association with it. I believe that the strong attitude of the Commission and the very intelligent manner in which it operated has offset anything of that character.
We have pulled through to a time when the industry is certainly facing the future much more optimistically than it was 12 months ago. In itself that could have been a danger and it could have caused the Government to step aside in the belief that the crisis had been mct and conquered and that there was no need to incorporate as a permanent feature of the marketing of wool some of the ideas which came from the Commission. In these Bills we. see that a degree of permanency is to be established. If some of the fluctuations in the price of the product were brought about by deliberate manipulation then this legislation announces to everybody who may be encouraged to try again that they will be up against the same solid front with all the Australian people supporting this industry as they did before. This may divert any attempts which may be. made to manipulate the price in the industry in the future.
I congratulate the Government upon bringing down the Bills. It is difficult in this industry, as in many other primary industries, to assess at times precisely what the industry requires. It seems to be a characteristic of our primary industries - perhaps not an unhealthy one - that one receives representations from people with many different points of vie;w. At times even the various associations have great difficulty in reaching unanimity in relation to the things which they desire the Parliament to do in the interests of the industry which in turn contributes so much to the economy of Australia. When one hears these ideas expressed it is easy for one who is not associated with the industry to become a little confused as to precisely what the industry thinks is best for its future.
From the representations made to us we feel that, however much we may welcome both these Bills and in particular the Wool Industry Bill, there are some aspects with which sections of the industry are not completely satisfied. I believe that those aspects of these Bills can be discussed during the Committee stage when we are considering the amendments which have already been moved. We are proposing to wait until the Committee stage of the Bill, when we deal with those particular amendments, and then to express our point of view. In view of the time that the Senate has to deal with the legislation that is before it-
– They have not been moved yet.
– I appreciate that. The amendments will be moved in the Committee stage. I am saying that the Democratic Labor Party will give consideration at that time to the arguments placed before it and that at this second reading stage, while we are supporting the Bill, we too have many reservations about particular areas which seem to be covered by the proposed amendments. We will look at the amendments during the Committee stage of the Bill. Because of the time that the Senate has available to it it would be repetitive to talk further of the excellence of the legislation and the spirit behind it. The DLP is prepared at this stage to indicate that it is prepared to support the second reading of both Bills.
– I rise to make a brief contribution to the debate on these Bills. As Senator Wilkinson who led for the Opposition has pointed out, the Australian Labor Party will be supporting both measures but will be moving amendments in the Committee stage. The Minister for Air (Senator Drake-Brockman) in his second reading speech opened his remarks by saying:
This Bill is designed to create a wool statutory body to be known as the Australian Wool Corporation.
The creation of a wool statutory body has been part and parcel of the Labor Party’s policy for many years. However, this legislation does not go quite as far as the Labor Party would like it to go and perhaps not as far as it will go when the Labor Party forms a Government. I would like to read to the Senate that part of the Australian Labor Party’s policy which deals with wool marketing. The Party’s Platform, Constitution and Rules’ states:
Labor will legislate for a statutory wool marketing authority to acquire and/or market the Australian clip in the most efficient way. Reserve bank funds will be made available to finance the authority. Labour will re-constitute the AWIC and the Australian Wool Board on a democratically elected basis and have an investigation and evaluation of wool promotion and research.
As Senator Wilkinson pointed out, in clause 5 of the Wool Industry Act there is no mention whatever of acquisition of the wool clip. Yet we find in relation to the personnel of the Corporation that clause 8 provides: (1.) The Corporation shall consist of 9 members, namely:
With the exception of the 3 members mentioned in (d), all members will be appointed by the Minister for Primary Industry. What I am concerned about is that we have not yet been told who the personnel of the Corporation shall be. Senator Maunsell when he spoke on this Bill tonight said in answer to an interjection from his colleague that the Government does not know yet who the personnel will be. According to a Press report of a speech made by the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Sinclair) when opening the Wagin show in Western Australia recently the Minister said:
One of the first tasks of the Corporation will be to prepare a detailed report on the introduction of an acquisition scheme.
The preparation of this report will be of the highest priority.
Once it is submitted to me 1 will make it available to wool industry organisations for consideration.
I believe the report will overwhelmingly recommend an acquisition scheme be introduced as quickly and effectively as possible.
What intrigues me is that the Minister is predicting what the personnel of the Corporation will do. He is setting up an inquiry into all aspects of the industry before the personnel of this Corporation are known. Before they are appointed he has made it known to the community at large that he knows what their findings will be. This leads me to believe that he knows the persons or at least the quality of the persons whom he will be appointing to the Corporation. But why on earth would the Minister deem fit to set up an inquiry if he knows already what the personnel of this Corporation will recommend. This is rather intriguing when we cast our minds back to a recent inquiry that was set up by the Government through the Bureau of Transport Economics into the feasibility of concrete and timber sleepers. The committee brought down a report in favour of one type of sleeper but the relevant Minister ignored that and decided to do the opposite to what the Committee recommended. In this instance we find another Country Party Minister saying that he knows what the findings of the Corporation will be before he has appointed its members. I think the Minister for Air should give some answer to these matters when he replies at the close of this debate.
I have had representations from very big wool growers who are very concerned about the appointment of the members of this Corporation on the eve of a Federal election. I hope that if the Minister for Primary Industry decides to appoint these members before the election of a new government, the Governor-General will intervenue and say that this is not the democratic way to do it. The appointments should be left until we find out what the new government will be. I hope in his wisdom that the Governor-General would not agree to any appointments being made before we know what the new government is.
One of the other things I was interested to read in the Minister’s second reading speech was his comment that the plan would need to be acceptable to the wool industry. As Senator Wilkinson has remarked, this plan certainly willbe acceptable to the industry because it is what the industry wants. Then the Minister went on to say that it would need to be acceptable to the State governments and the Commonwealth Government. Quite obviously the Commonwealth Government will be in support of the plan otherwise it would not have introduced the legislation, but what I am concerned about is the problem we will have with the State governments. Prom my experience in primary industry, it has always seemed to be a very difficult matter to get all State governments to agree on complementary legislation to assist the primary industries.
– What about the wheat Bill?
– That is one, but I am saying that it is difficult in lots of cases. Senator Young has mentioned the wheat Bill and I will refer to another industry which is closely associated with the wheat industry, and that is the poultry industry. We have battled on for a great number of years in an endeavour to get all the States to agree to do something which was of benefit to that industry in order to bring about some stability. Many years ago the South Australian Minister of Agriculture would not agree, despite years of battling. As a result of that delay the poultry industry went down and the farmers’ incomes dropped. When we introduced that legislation we found that we had to bring in another system of controlled marketing of our egg production and that although South Australia agreed at that stage the Victorian Minister then would not agree. It was only recently, because of a carrot being held out in this Budget and Victoria being told that if it did not come to the party there would be no money allocated to it, that the Victorian Government agreed. Of course, the poultry indus try as a whole would have suffered further if Victoria had not agreed. This is what I am afraid will happen again. There is no guarantee that when this Corporation brings in its findings, and the Minister has said that it will come down solidly on the side of acquisition-
– What type?
– What type?
– Yes. There is more than one type of acquisition.
– There may be more than one type of acquisition scheme but I am not talking about the type of acquisition. What I am talking about is the fact that the Minister for Air in his second reading speech said that the plan would need the co-operation of all State governments. As I have pointed out, it has been my experience and the experience of many primary producers over the years that it is very difficult to get all State governments to agree even when they are all of the same political colour. This was the case not so many years ago when we had a Liberal-Country Party Federal Government and Liberal-Country Party governments in every State but still they could not agree. I am afraid that this is what will happen following the introduction of this legislation. If one State opts out the whole scheme is in jeopardy. This is why I say there is some danger when we have to rely on all the States agreeing. The legislation should contain provision for a referendum of all wool growers. If the wool growers want acquisition the State governments should be duty bound to legislate for it. It would not be a problem then if a State Minister does not agree with the Wool Growers decision.
We know that the Country Party is very insistent upon an acquisition scheme but it will support this Bill. In the Senate one member of the Country Party has spoken in this debate and he did not refer to acquisition. I am wondering whether the Bill is not a little lukewarm, whether it is a way of making a half promise to members of the Country Party on the eve of an election to keep them quiet. Possibly there will be acquisition, but in the long term if the Government is returned chaos will also return to the industry. When the primary industries are in trouble farmers will agree to any proposition if they think that legislation will get them out of a hole. In the present situation with rising wool prices and a shortage of wool, there could be a little scepticism throughout the wool growing community. The wool growers may be doubtful about whether they ought not to stick to the auction system, whether in the long run they may be better off under the auction system.
In the past few years when the wool industry has been in trouble the wool growers have been quite happy to accept government assistance. They have been quite happy to have the Government come to the party and help them out. I think most of us would agree that when a primary industry is in difficulties it should be given some assistance. The Australian Labor Party believes that primary industries depend as much on the man in the city as the man in the city depends on the farming community. One side cannot work or prosper unless the other side is prosperous. If the man on the land does not have the wherewithal to produce raw materials to be manufactured into goods in the city, the man in the city does not have a job. If the man in the city cannot get a permanent job with a decent wage structure to earn enough to buy the products of the farmers, the farmer finds he is in trouble because he cannot sell his produce. We are all bound together.
In dealing with the problems of the primary industries we should be adopting an overall point of view so that one side is prepared to help the other side. I believe that all decent, honest Australians would agree to that proposition. I again express the desire that the Government will not go ahead and appoint the members of the corporation before the elections. If it decides to do that, I hope that the people in the wool industry who are so concerned that the corporation will be stacked and some of its members will be appointed fo a term of 3 years or 5 years will see the dangers and will petition the GovernorGeneral not to sanction the Minister’s recommendation until after the elections.
– in reply - I was very pleased to hear the last point made by Senator McLaren because I have been looking at some of my notes concerning the Australian Labor Party Federal Conference which was held at Launceston in June. At that conference Mr Hayden, the honourable member for Oxley, said that the ALP did not have a primary industry programme with a comprehensive and integrated approach. He said: ‘What we have is a loose patchwork of totally unrelated propositions’. In the “Australian Financial Review’ of 19th February 1970 it was reported that Mr Hawke did not deny that some farmers were in financial trouble, but these were almost solely small and inefficient marginal farmers. I refer to those matters because of the remarks made by Senator McLaren.
I thank’ honourable senators who have made a contribution to the debate on these 2 Bills. I think that this legislation will put the wool industry in a position of stability that it has never before experienced. I refer now to the remarks made by Senator Wilkinson. He said that the Australian Wool Industry Conference had asked for certain things. Senator Wilkinson was referring to- the meeting in November 1971 when the AWIC agreed to the appointment of a special committee to investigate as a matter of urgency a broad outline of a plan designed to place the industry on a firmer basis in the long term.
The industry said that such a plan should involve the studying of the amalgamation of the Australian Wool Board and the Australian Wool Commission and the composition of the powers and functions of the new body. It also said that a committee should look at improvements in wool marketing, including the merits or otherwise of an acquisition scheme with or without fixed prices and the manner in which the wool should be disposed of, by auction or direct sales. It then went on to enumerate a number of other points that it believed the committee should look at. The committee placed a report before the AWIC in January 1971. The AWIC adopted the recommendations of the special committee. On 16th March Mr A. J. Vasey, chairman of the Australian Wool Industry Conference, presented the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Sinclair) with a plan for an integrated marketing system for the Australian wool clip.
I want to remind the Senate of some of the matters referred to when the chairman of the AWIC presented his submission to the Minister for Primary Industry. He said:
Mr Sinclair, on behalf of the Australian Wool Industry Conference 1 present the attached submission to the Commonwealth Government recommending the Australian Wool Board and the Australian Wool Commission be amalgamated into a single body which might be called the Australian Wool Authority and that an acquisition plan may be introduced by the Authority into the marketing arrangement for the Australian wool clip.
He then made some other comments. In the. third paragraph of his letter containing the proposals he said that the Conference had examined not only the immediate requirements of the wool industry but also its needs in the long term. He said that probably not all the powers recommended for the. proposed authority would require immediate implementation. Some powers would need supporting legislation by the States. He said that the use when granted would still be subject to ministerial approval as would certain others; nevertheless it was considered prudent for the legislation to include at the outset all powers intended for the Authority whether or not they would be exercised immediately. Mr Vasey went on to se.t out the committee’s recommendations.
I remind the Senate that this committee was set up in November 1970. It made recommendations to the. AWIC in January 1971 and to the Government on 16th March 1971. The Minister then had the opportunity to study the recommendations and make a submission to Cabinet. The Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) made a statement on 20th June 1971 in which he said that the Government had accepted certain recommendations of the wool industry.
It has been said that in this period there was a great deal of delay and hesitancy on the part of the Government. 1 remind the Senate that in November 1971, about the time when the Australian Wool Industry Conference set up its special committee, the Government appointed the Randall Committee to inquire, into the wool industry because of the continual fall in wool prices which had reached practically an all time low in the history of the industry.
Following the submission of the Australian Wool Industry Conference in March, the proposals that were placed before the Minister were then submitted to the Cabinet. The Cabinet in its turn asked the Randall Committee whether it would look at the submission of the AWIC. It is my contention that time had to be given to this Committee to study these matters.
I believe that the Government has gone out of its way to meet the requirements of the wool industry. Senator Wilkinson said - I use his remarks because he led for the Opposition - that he had had many representations from organisations in regard to acquisition of the wool clip but he could not see. any proposals for acquisition of the wool clip set out in the Bill. Senator Wilkinson is a Western Australian and no doubt he has received representations from the Farmers Union in that State.
– Yes. Therefore, I turn to the submission of the Farmers Union in Western Australia in which it put proposals before the Government, the Minister for Primary Industry, members of this chamber and members of another place. The submission of the Farmers Union, under the heading ‘Acquisition’ proposes that it be compulsory for all wool leaving a property to come, under the jurisdiction of the wool authority. In other words, as soon as the wool was shorn and was pushed out through the shed door, it would become the property of the Wool Corporation or the appropriate wool authority. I believe that that is a scheme which we. could have some day, perhaps in 10 years* time. But I do not believe that in this instance it would find favour amongst wool growers in Australia.
The honourable senator and I well know the views of the Farmers Union on this matter. I point out to the Senate that I believe that the honourable senator favours the Farmers Union submission on this matter-
– No. I am only using it for support; I am not favouring it.
– I stand corrected on that. The honourable senator is using it for support. A meeting of the Executive of the Australian Wool
Industry Conference was held in Melbourne on 25th September. Attending that meeting were representatives from the ad hoc committee - I referred to it earlier as the special committee - and, following that meeting; Mr Vasey, the Chairman of the Australian Wool Industry Conference, issued a statement. I ask the Senate to note that statement which was made on 25th September 1972:
The chairman of the AWIC, Mr A. J. Vasey, said that the Bill tabled in Canberra had been examined and discussed at length.
The proposals put forward in that Bill are heartening and incorporate the great majority of the industry’s recommendations for the future marketing of the Australian wool clip,’ he said.
Many of the issues have been dealt with in great detail and, in some respects, have provided the industry with benefits beyond Conference’s expectations’, Mr Vasey added.
The Bill will amalgamate the existing Australian Wool Board and Wool Commission to form the Australian Wool Corporation.
The new body will be empowered also to prepare a detailed plan for a compulsory acquisition scheme.
Senator McLaren said that the contents of this Bill accorded in part with Australian Labor Party policy but it did not go all the way and that if a change of government occurred the Labor Party would go the whole way and introduce a compulsory acquisition scheme. What Senator McLaren did not tell the Senate is that under its constitutional powers the Commonwealth cannot legislate alone to grant the power of compulsory acquisition to the Australian Wool Corporation.
Senate*- McLaren - I did. 1 mentioned that. I said that you had to get the cooperation of the States, which you mentioned in your speech. I mentioned that when I said (hat the co-operation of the States was required.
– It was in my second reading speech but apparently you ignored it.
– I mentioned that; you read my speech tomorrow.
– To grant the Australian Wool Corporation the power to acquire the clip compulsorily not only must Commonwealth and industry consent be forthcoming but also complementary legislation must be introduced by the States. I take it from what Senator McLaren said that if the Australian Labor
Party was in office all it would have to do would be to say that it wanted compulsory acquisition and the States would immediately fall into line.
– No, I did not say that.
– I think the honourable senator even went so far as to say that there had been problems in the past. When he was speaking, [ heard an interjection from behind me asking: ‘What about the wheat industry?’ We all recall what happened in the wheat industry and how one State held out until the bitter end.
– A Labor government was able to overcome that problem.
– I refer next to the dairying reconstruction scheme. For nearly 2 years the Minister for Primary Industry could not get one of the States to share in the money that the Commonwealth was making available then. In relation to the poultry industry my own State, Western Australia, had introduced legislation to restrict the number of laying hens that a producer should have.
– I have always given the Commonwealth credit for it, even though a Liberal Government was in office.
– That may be so, but there were some State Ministers responsible for agriculture who did not give credit for it and held out for some considerable time.
– That was the Liberal Minister in Victoria. The Labor Ministers gave the Commonwealth credit. Mr Chandler was the Minister who held out. Tell the truth.
– Order! Senator McLaren, you have made your speech. Do not start making another one.
– lt was a long time before those States gave the Commonwealth authority to proceed with legislation that would be common to all the States and the Commonwealth. The same thing could happen in the wool industry. Do not tell me that it could not. 1 wish to make that point to Senator Wilkinson. This Government believes that it will be granting the wool industry the request that it made - that there should be an amalgamation of the Australian Wool Board and the Australian Wool Commission. The Government has also decided that at some suitable date it should eliminate the price averaging plan.
– The price averaging scheme has been very costly. I think that if the honourable senator had done a little bit of homework on this Bill he would realise that fact. The other thing that the industry wanted was the power of acquisition. The Commonwealth told the industry that it did not have the authority to grant this. However, when we set up the Corporation one of its first jobs will be to examine this matter. If it likes to make a recommendation to the Commonwealth Government that is acceptable to the Minister for Primary Industry, to the industry and to the States, then we will back it. This is how the whole plan is evolving. I believe that this is the only way that this can be done.
I think that Senator Maunsell’s contribution to the debate was a good one. It came from a man who has had practical experience in the wool industry and he said what he thought. Senator Hannan referred to the deficiency payment of 79.7c per kilogram and said that he has received representations from many people in the industry saying that this amount should be increased. He said it should be increased to the equivalent of somewhere around 42c or 45c per lb. When honourable senators move around the wool industry they will be questioned about a number of things. There seems to be some misunderstanding of this point. People say to me: ‘Why is it that when wool prices are well over 100c per lb the Government will put a floor price into the market of 79.7c a kilogram’? That is not right. That price is a guarantee under the deficiency payment scheme. The Government says to the industry that should the average price of the wool clip over 12 months fall below 36c per lb or 79.7c a kilogram it will guarantee payment of that amount. I had better express that differently.
– Get Senator Maunsell to help you out.
– I do not want help. The guaranteed price is 79.7c a kilogram. Senator Little, on behalf of the Democratic Labor Party, supported both these Bills. He spoke of the manipulation that might have gone on in the industry in recent times. It is my view that if the Government had not stood behind the Australian Wool Commission as it did last December the buyers of wool would have broken through. 1 believe that the fact that in December last year the Government stood behind the Australian Wool Commission to the tune of another $30m indicated to the wool buyers throughout the world that the Australian wool industry and the Australian Government really meant business. Perhaps that is why this season we see buyers from all countries coming here and buying quite rapidly.
– There are a lot of empty warehouses.
– I believe also that some of the manipulations Senator Little spoke of have been removed. The speculation has been taken out of buying. The growers instead of the speculators around the world are now in control of the wool produced in this country. I have mentioned already the points made by Senator McLaren. The honourable senator said that he believed that if the Government decided to go ahead and appoint the members of the Corporation the Governor-General should step in to prevent it from doing so until after the election. Quite obviously the honourable senator wants the membership of the Corporation to be rigged. Quite obviously he does not want the wool industry to get on. Quite obviously he does not want the Corporation to do the job which the industry hopes it will do. I believe that any delay will result in serious repercussions to the industry and therefore I hope that the honourable senator’s suggestion will not be supported by the Senate. I have had the opportunity given to me by the Australian Labor Party of looking at the amendments it proposes to move during the Committee stage. I think it is better if I deal with them as they arise then, rather than now. I support the Bill.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 to 37 - by leave - taken together.
– 1 have a question relating to clause 23 of the Bill. I seek some clarification. Clause 23 states: (1.) The Corporation may appoint such officers and engage such employees as it thinks necessary for the purposes of this Act
Is the Government proposing to set up another tribunal to decide the wages and conditions of employment of persons engaged by the Australian Wool Corporation? Are there other precedents for this course of action? Normally the Public Service Arbitrator or some other wage fixing tribunal decides these questions. In this case we are to have a Corporation which is not a body elected on the basis of the capability of its members to decide questions relating to wages. It is to be a body elected on the basis of its knowledge of the wool industry. Yet the Government proposes to hand over to it responsibility for determining questions relating to the wages and conditions of employment of persons employed by the Corporation. I would like an explanation from the Minister. Is this a normal and proper procedure? Are there to be some guidelines for the Corporation so that it can determine the wages and conditions of its employees?
– The honourable senator will realise that in this Bill we are incorporating the regulations and operating functions of the Australian Wool Commission and the Australian Wool Board. I understand that the Corporation is to be given in this Bill the right to employ staff on terms that it decides so that it can operate on a commercial basis. The precedent for this is that the Commission already has this right. We are transferring to the Corporation the right of the Commission as we said we would.
– The statement made by the Minister for Air (Senator Drake-Brockman) has me worried about the position because the Australian Wool Corporation will now do the work that was done previously by 2 organisations. The Corporation will employ such employees as it so desires so that it can operate on a commercial basis. I have some industrial knowledge and industrial experience. The most successful commercial basis of operation of an authority which is seeking to operate on a commercial basis is to employ people under slave labour conditions. If an authority can get people to work for a depressed wage it will be a successful commercial venture. I do not press my point any further at this time. I think that there should be an arrangement made to bring employees of the Corporation under the control and the authority of the Public Service Board.
Senator DRAKE-BROCKMAN (Western Australia - Minister for Air) - The Australian Wool Corporation will not compel people to work for it. If those people who work for it come under an appropriate award, they will be paid award wages, The Corporation has to compete against other commercial, enterprises to get senior staff. Automatically the salary rate that it will pay is kept up, because of the competition for staff.
– The Minister for Air (Senator Drake Brackman referred to the appropriate award Will he indicate what the appropriate award is? Under what award will employees of the Australian Wool Corporation be working?
Senator DRAKE-BROCKMAN (Western Australia - Minister for Air) - I do not know the different categories of workers who will be employed by the Australian Wool Corporation.. I doubt whether my advisers would know those categories. There will be members of various unions - the Federated Storemen and Packers Union of Australia and the Federated Clerks Union of Australia, to name just 2. They will be paid the award wage.
Senator MILLINER (Queensland)- Can the Minister for Air (Senator DrakeBrockman) give the Committee an assurance that the workers will be paid the appropriate award wage as the minimum?
– They will have to be paid the minimum wage.
– Does Senator Little know what we are talking about? It appears to me that he does not. I repeat my question: Will the Minister give an assurance that workers under a transport award will be paid the award rate? Will the clerks be paid the appropriate award rate? Will the storemen and packers be paid the award rate? That is all I am asking.
Senator DRAKE-BROCKMAN (Western Australia - Minister for Air) - I think the honourable senator should get his feet on the ground. He knows as well as I do that if members of the Transport Workers Union of Australia working for the Australian Wool Corporation were not getting the award rate the Corporation would have a strike on its hands very quickly.
– That is not an answer to my question. If employees of the Australian Wool Corporation were paid the appropriate award wage 1, for one, would support them entirely. I do not know whether the Minister for Air (Senator DrakeBrockman) would do so. I think my question was a fair question. Will they be paid, for the work they do, under the appropriate award?
– The position would not be otherwise.
- Senator Little interrupts again. It is useless the Minister saying that if they are not paid the appropriate wage they will go on strike. We do not want them to go on strike. We want them to be paid in accordance with the provisions of the appropriate award. I submit that if the Minister cannot answer that question his advisers are not advising him in accordance with customary practice.
– In an endeavour to clarify the situation or at least to put a point of view on the matter, I ask a question of the Minister for Air (Senator Drake-Brockman). Clause 23 states: (1.) The Corporation may appoint such officers and engage such employees as it thinks necessary for the purposes of this Act. (2.) The terms and conditions of employment of persons so appointed or engaged are such as are determined by the Corporation.
Will the Minister give an indication whether the Australian Wool Corporation intends to break the law in relation to award wages set down for specified operations, or is this clause inserted merely to give the Corporation some flexibility in the appointment of officers such as purchasing officers who may have to purchase wool at auction and whose wage or commission would obviously be a matter of negotiation between the Corporation and the person so employed? I do not think that the Corporation or any other employer would be able to employ somebody on an award defined job and get away with paying less than the award wage.
– What Senator Little has stated shows that he is completely out of touch with and has a lack of knowledge of industrial arbitration. Only 36 per cent or 40 per cent of employees are covered by an award. As a rule, a federal award is not binding on all employees in an industry. It is binding on members of the applicant organisation.
– If any person joins the union covering that occupation it is binding on the employer to pay the appropriate award rates, or are you advocating that such employees be not members of a union?
– After my legal adviser has finished deciding the question I will continue. The Committee will see from numerous judgments on this subject that a federal award is binding on the members of the applicant organisation and on named respondents. Therefore it is not binding on those who are working for other than named respondents. The question arises as to whether the court would have power to make a corporation, which an Act of Parliament would seem to exempt from the powers of the arbitration tribunal, a named respondent. Clause 23 (2.) states: (2.) The terms and conditions of employment of persons so appointed or engaged are such as are determined by the Corporation.
The court does not determine their wages and conditions. If I am wrong in that interpretation and if what Senator Little said is correct, it is immaterial what clause 23 (2.) states. They shall be bound by an award. If the Transport Workers Union of Australia were the applicant organisation bound by the award and if the Corporation were the respondent to the award, members of the Transport Workers Union would be paid the award rate. Otherwise they would not be. The possibility is that they would not be. If I am wrong, the court has power to include them. There is also the possibility that the Corporation has the power to employ such persons as it so determines. They need not be members of an organisation. The point I am making is that if they do not fit into the requirements of the Corporation - if they do not fit into the requirements of the employeremployee relationship the employer is not bound by the award. I can envisage that many workers who do not fit into the category of employees bound by the award will not be paid the wages which they should be paid. I think the Minister stated that it is the intention to pay them the appropriate award wage. That is what he told us tonight. Senator Milliner has asked him to give an assurance that employees of the Corporation who are bound by an award will be paid the appropriate award wage. The Corporation may not be bound-
– Do you mean not less than?
– Yes, I mean not less than. That is the matter in regard to which Senator Milliner has asked for an assurance. Can the Minister give us an assurance tonight that they will be paid not less than the nearest appropriate award wage?
– I want to point out to honourable senators that there will be certain specialist officers employed by the Corporation who will not be bound by any award. Their remunerations will be set by negotiation between themselves and the Corporation. Where men are employed to push the bales of wool around the store or something of that nature and they come under the Federated Storemen and Packers Union award they, of course, will be paid the award rates for that appropriate work. If there is handling of trucks around the store and the employees come under the Transport Workers Union award, they will be paid the appropriate award rate for that work. If the honourable senator wants an assurance where employees of the Corporation are employed in particular jobs for which award rates are fixed, then I say that the staff employed will be paid the award rates.
Clauses agreed to.
– (1.) The functions of the Corporation include the following functions:
– I move:
This is the first of our 3 amendments. It will be found that there are a few inconsistencies in the Bill. For instance, clause 38(1.) (a) reads: to operate a flexible reserve price scheme in respect of wool offered for sale at auction.
Quite a number of criticisms have been made of the Bill on the basis that it seems to come down rather heavily on the side of supporting the auction system. Of course, as most honourable senators know, there are quite a number of other ways of selling wool. There are private buyers and organisations that come into the wool selling programme. Clause 40(b) deals with the buying of wool. The Corporation is given the power to buy wool at auction ‘or otherwise’. Clause 38(1.) (a) goes only as far as covering wool offered for sale at auction. As I said before, there are a number of ways that wool can be offered for sale. It could be offered for sale in various ways by the Corporation. It is our suggestion that we add to that clause 38(1.) (a) the words ‘or otherwise’. This then allows the Corporation to adopt any measures that it feels are suitable at the time. When I say that, I mean suitable to the wool producer in that it will give him a better price. This may be done in all sorts of ways. Another thing that I mention in bringing forward this amendment is that I do not see in clause 38 any reference to operation of futures. There is no specific intention here. Perhaps the Minister will be able to say whether, if we insert after ‘auction’ the words ‘or otherwise’, we will give an opportunity for consideration of futures operations.
– You are suggesting that the Corporation start operating in the futures market.
– I ask a question whether it will be able to. I have mentioned this only because there may be some people who are interested in the futures market. I did not introduce the Bill. I am moving an amendment. What I am suggesting is that as there are other methods we should not exclude them by using only the words: ‘offered for sale at auction’. This is the sole purpose of putting forward this amendment. It seems to me that it is reasonable. It takes the inconsistency out of the Bill by providing that wool sold otherwise than at auction would also be covered. But we do not do that, as the Bill stands, although the Bill provides that the Corporation may sell at auction or buy at auction or otherwise. I think that we can have it both ways.
– The members of my Party, the Australian Democratic Labor Party, have some perplexity about this clause. Prima facie we are inclined to agree with the amendment although there is the thought in our minds that the specific word ‘auction’ may have been used for a specific purpose. We can understand that in trying to support a reserve price, scheme it would be almost impossible to have a price that is obtainable at auction, perhaps for limited quantities, and that somebody trying to dispose of his clip would be prepared to take a lower price than that available at auction, even by a matter of some cents per pound, and then expect the Corporation to make up the difference. Obviously, the sustaining of the price must be done on the basis of what is obtainable at auction to give a standard of values to which the market adjusts itself at a particular time. It is a price that is arrived at by a competitiveness in the industry by buyers seeking the commodity. If there are not sufficient buyers one expects the price to fall at auction. We could not have perhaps private buyers competing for sales at a price lower than the price that was obtainable at auction. That is one point of view.
The other point of view is that put by Senator Wilkinson, with which we have a great deal of sympathy. It is that the auction business, because of this factor that I have just outlined, should not be taken as the beginning and the end and the only way in which people will be permitted to sell. Provided that the price which is obtained in the circumstances or otherwise is that which in the market at the particular point of time is the price that is generally obtainable at auction, we see no reason why the words should not be inserted. We would listen with interest to what the Minister may have to say to clarify our points of view on this question.
– I support the amendment moved by Senator Wilkinson. I believe that we all agree we should do the best we possibly can for all concerned. There is no politics in the matter. There is no politics in whether the amendment should be accepted or rejected. It is a matter of what is best for all concerned. It is in that direction that we submit the amendment. We believe that this will help the industry. Like others we would like to hear arguments against . the amendment, because from what we have heard up to date it certainly does not help the industry to leave the Bill as printed. I repeat that the Opposition - the Australian Labor Party - submits the amendment with the positive thought that this is a new proposition which could assist the industry if our amendment were accepted. In those circumstances I support the amendment moved by Senator Wilkinson.
– I am thoroughly confused. 1 think what has been put to us suggests that the Opposition does not know what it is talking about. Further on in clause 38(1.) there is a paragraph (k) which gives the Corporation various powers. I think that the Minister for Air (Senator Drake-Brockman) will probably deal with that. I will not touch on it. What the Opposition does not understand is that the reserve price scheme can operate only under the auction system. Senator Wilkinson mentioned private buying. Private buying is direct negotiation between a wool grower and a buyer. They agree upon a price which satisfies the wool grower and the buyer. No reserve price scheme can operate under that system because the price is not known to anybody except the 2 people concerned, the buyer and the wool grower. If wool was sold by appraisement
– That is not the only circumstance covered by ‘or otherwise’.
– What would ‘or otherwise’ cover? It covers private buying and appraisement. What other method of selling wool is there? If wool is sold by appraisement, again it is sold by negotiation between the authority, whoever that may be, and the buyer. Therefore, the reserve price scheme does not cover that. The only system of buying that a reserve price scheme can cover is the auction system where wool is sold in public on the floor. If it does not reach a certain price the reserve price scheme operates. I see Senator Milliner shaking his head. With great respect to Senator Milliner, I do not think he would know goats hair from wool. Senator Wilkinson is a wool grower and I agree that he knows something about wool, but I think that he is confused on this point. The only system under which the reserve price scheme can operate today, as I understand it, is the. auction system. Therefore, the addition of the words ‘or otherwise’ does not cover anything; it is only adding words which have no meaning whatsoever.
– The members of the Australian Labor Party are not the. only ones who want to do their best for the wool industry. I want to do the best I can for the industry, as do my colleagues who sit behind me. Clause 38 of the Bill appears under the heading ‘Part III - Wool Marketing’. Sub-clause (1.) of clause 38 sets out 15 functions of the Australian Wool Corporation. The Labor Party wants to amend paragraph (a) which reads: to operate a flexible reserve price scheme in respect of wool offered for sale at auction.
I want honourable senators to look at the Bill as it stands at the present time, and at the words which the Labor Party wants to add. I want honourable senators to look at clause 41 which reads: (1.) The flexible reserve price scheme operated by the Corporation shall be a scheme under which -
I think that is understandable. If we do as the Labor Party suggests and add the words ‘or otherwise’, we immediately introduce the question of the sale of wool by tender and all the various schemes for selling wool privately. If we consider what is contained in clause 41, how can we incorporate a flexible reserve price scheme, along the lines set out in the Bill for the sale of wool by auction, in a private tender scheme or in the many schemes by which wool is sold privately? It would become an impossibility; we could not do it. When we refer to selling wool by tender we should look at clause 38 (l.)(k) which reads: to keep under constant review the practice of the buying and selling of wool outside the auction system, and to make recommendations to the Minister as to measures for dealing with any detrimental effects that that practice is having in relation to the objects of this Act or the requirements of the next succeeding section and to take such measures as the Minister approves for the purpose of reducing or eliminating those detrimental effects:
Under that paragraph it is quite possible to submit bids for wool by tender. So in that way we overcome part of the Opposition’s objection. But in regard to the variety of schemes that are in operation throughout Australia for the purchase of wool privately, there is nothing in clause 41 which allows us to do what the Opposition suggests. So we would not be able to incorporate a reserve price scheme by adding the words ‘or otherwise’ to clause 38 (1.), as the Opposition suggests.
If a buyer went on to a farm to buy wool, how would the Corporation know whether the price he paid was anywhere near the flexible reserve price which the Corporation had fixed for its wool? The Corporation would need to have a man standing alongside the buyer on the farm in order to find out what was going on. Under the Australian Wool Commission Act the Commission has the right to ascertain from private buyers the amount of wool sold and certain other details. I recognise what Senator Wilkinson is trying to do by adding the words ‘or otherwise’ to clause 38(1.), but he is creating an unworkable problem, on which neither 1 as the Minister in this place representing the Minister for Primary Industry nor any of my advisers nor anyone in the wool industry can give Senator Wilkinson any assistance. If we introduce private treaty wool we can then apply clause 41 to the situation. As I say, what the Opposition suggests is an impossibility. That is why I, as the Minister in charge of the Bill in this chamber, cannot accept the amendment.
– It amazes me to hear the arguments put by the Minister on this question because there is a complete simplification for the marketing of wool which the Government will not accept: That is the marketing of wool under acquisition. This has been done with almost every other primary industry product in Australia but the remaining industry which is fighting a system of marketing by acquisition, by a board selling on behalf of Australia, is the wool industry. It is interesting to examine the history of the marketers of wool in this country: They are the wool brokers who are almost entirely owned by overseas interests. We have an auction system for wool in this country which has failed lamentably in getting prices under adverse conditions to which the growers of this country are entitled. The Government keeps running away from the fundamental question of how to market wool in this country which is how we have marketed wheat, dairy produce, dried fruits and almost every other primary industry product to overseas countries. The Government retains this crazy system whereby it permits people to come into this country to work under the auction system and by collusion with one another to set a price before they bid. That has been happening and has been proved before an inquiry in New South Wales where it was clearly established that the pies existed; where they have by collusion robbed the wool growers of this country of millions of dollars over the years. We have a simple answer to this if the Government is prepared to grab it.
– The amendment we are discussing will not grab it; it will preserve the auction system.
– It will preserve it only because this is the only way we can amend this Bill at this stage.
– Let us clarify what we are trying to do at this stage.
– We are trying to amend the Bill at this stage. The simple answer is to grasp the nettle and. sell the wool as we sell other primary commodities overseas - by direct negotiations with countries, by direct negotions with buyers and by sending people overseas to carry out negotiations in this industry to ensure that we have the market not to have this silly system whereby the grower is the subject of collusion between people over whom we have no control in the selling of our product, lt is clear that the answer for the wool industry is an acquisition scheme and this is Labor Party policy.
– Would you guarantee a higher price under acquisition?
– We would guarantee under acquisition a fair price to the grower, a return commensurate with his production.
– How would you guarantee that?
– We have guaranteed it for wheat and for dairy products and we will guarantee it for the wool industry.
– How would you do that?
– Simply by acquiring the clip and selling it to the people who want it. Senator Sim professes to know something about this industry but what he does not understand about it is that the demand for wool is continually growing throughout the world despite the fact that the apparel material produced does not have the top market situation. The use of wool is increasing throughout the world at about 12 per cent annually. It is true that synthetics have secured the major increase in this industry, but wool has not gone backwards. If Senator Sim can tell me of any season in which we have not been able to sell the whole of the clip at a price, he can get up and say so. We have been blackmailed over the years by collusion between buyers who needed our product but who stood us against the wall because of the very auction system that the honourable senator wants to continue.
– What are we arguing about?
-Senator Little would not reject this legislation; he would vote for the Government. We are trying to improve the legislation by amendment. We are not trying to reject it because we know that the party that would not support rejection of this legislation is the DLP. The DLP would not reject it out of hand. Therefore we have to compromise at this stage with an amendment that would be better for the wool grower than the present situation. But in the final analysis we should have an acquisition scheme by which we can implement a system of marketing which will not be detrimental to the wool grower but favour a reasonable price on a selling market. We still have a selling market despite the prophets of doom who live within the community of wool growers. We have a selling market if we are prepared to face up to the problem that exists, that is if we are prepared to send marketing people to China, Russia and other countries that need wool and to sell our product to them just as we sell our wheat and dried fruits on a basis of a fair return for the efforts made. Until we reach this stage it is futile to have a situation whereby the Government props up an organisation which has no right to continue a system of selling as exists today.
– I seek some information in relation to this amendment and I would be very pleased if the Minister could follow me, as I have endeavoured to follow his argument, and explain it to me. I enter the debate not as an expert in the wool industry but simply to ascertain the facts and to see how they relate to the basis upon which this amendment is put. The amendment proposes to add the words ‘or otherwise’ after the provision for the operation of the flexible reserve price scheme in respect of wool offered for sale at auction. The intention is to say ‘or otherwise’. The Minister referred to clause 41 of the Bill, but may I first take him to clause 40 which provides:
Without limiting the generality of sub-section (4.) of section 20 of this Act, the powers of the Corporation include the power-
Then one goes to (b):
– That is right.
– -So it clearly anticipates that the Corporation will be buying wool otherwise than at auction. The Minister referred to clause 41, sub-clause (2.) which provides that the Corporation shall, at fortnightly intervals, make reports, and those reports are to include information concerning wool purchased and wool held by the Corporation as provided by clause (b). Presumably that would include wool purchased otherwise than by auction. Subclause (2.) provides:
The Corporation shall, at fortnightly intervals, make reports to the Minister and the Treasurer concerning the operation of its reserve price scheme, and shall include in the reports such information as the Minister directs concerning -
the reserve prices determined by the Corporation;
wool purchased and wool held by the Corporation;
It does not say *wool purchased at auction’ and it does not even really say ‘wool purchased under the reserve prices scheme’, lt says ‘woo- purchased and wool held by the Corporation’. Clause 41 provides:
The flexible reserve price scheme operated by the Corporation shall be a scheme under which . . . lt does noi purport to say that only this shall be done; it says it is a scheme under which certain things can be done. The clause then extends to sub-clause (2.), as I have indicated, and contains words which seem to refer to the wool purchased by the Corporation In broad terms and not restricted simply to wool purchased by auction. If. as I am told by one or two of my colleagues, a certain amount of wool is sold other than by auction, such as by tender, or by offers to sell made by the farmer or offers to buy which are accepted, and which may become public knowledge, then presumably there are conditions under which a reserve price scheme could operate. There may be an offer to sell on one hand or an offer to buy on the other, and this may have become public knowledge. These offers would be capable of fitting into a flexible reserve price scheme. H that is so then surely the proposition which is put forward by Senator Wilkinson is capable of operation by the Corporation If it so desires. It could extend its activities and the flexible reserve price scheme need not be limited to matters contained in paragraphs (a) and (b) of clause 41 (1.). Clause 41 does not purport to restrict the Corporation to that. Some operation in the discretion of the Corporation could be given to its purchases in that way.
Senator Wilkinson is simply endeavouring to extend the capacity of the Corporation so that this scheme will operate in relation to all purchases. It seems to me - 1 speak not as an authority or as one. having any expertise - that if those facts are correct then this clause should be given a broader operation so that the functions of the Corporation would include the operation of a flexible reserve price scheme in respect of wool offered for sale at auction or otherwise.
– What does that mean?
– I have indicated what it means. If wool is offered for sale other than at auction the Corporation could extend the operation of the reserve price scheme in order to bolster up the market and, if it has to, move into those offers which are made outside the auction system. I cannot see that there, is any great harm in this. In effect the minima which the Corporation determines should be, in its operation of the scheme, available to prop up prices outside the auction system if it wants to. Senator Wilkinson’s scheme is saying that the Corporation should be able to operate and it should not be restricted simply to providing the reserve price to offerings at auctions. If what I have put is right, then that seems to me to be a reasonable proposition and it ought to commend itself to the Committee.
– 1 have a background in the wool industry but I am not used to speaking whereas the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate (Senator Murphy) is an excellent speaker but he does not have a wool background.
– He put his case very fairly.
– Yes. he put it very fairly. I recognise what Senator Wilkinson is trying to do. What he is trying to do can be done under clause 38(l.)(k). If Senator Wilkinson wants to add the words ‘or otherwise’ to clause 38(1.) (a) then it must be taken in conjunction with the definition of how a flexible reserve price scheme will operate for wool sold by auction. That definition will be found in clause 41. When we add ‘or otherwise’ we bring in sale by tender and the various types of sale by private treaty or sales to the London market. Apart from clause 38(l.)(k), which provides for what Senator Wilkinson is trying to do, we cannot define a reserve price in clause 41 for the sale of wool by tender or the various types of sale by private treaty. Because of the complexity of trying to do this, we have to act under clause 38 (1.) (k).
Senator Murphy has said that the words or otherwise’ appear in clause 40 in relation to wool bought by the Corporation. That is quite true. This can be done because the Corporation can buy wool from a private treaty buyer who might have bought it from some private buyer who had gone to the farm. No reserve price operates on that particular wool. The Corporation can buy by tender.
– Under the price averaging plan?
– I do not want to bring the price averaging plan into this. The Corporation is able to buy by auction or otherwise under clause 40. But when we try to add the words ‘or otherwise’ to clause 38(1.) (a) then we must look also at clause 41 and try to obtain a definition for buying wool by tender and by a variety of private treaties. Honourable senators will find that very complicated. To overcome this problem the Bill has provided that this can be done with the approval of the Minister under clause 38 (1 .) (k). This is the same thing as Senator Wilkinson is trying to do.
– The Minister for Air is right in 95 per cent of what he has said. I am prepared to accept all the explanations he has given in relation to that 95 per cent. But he has not dealt with a particular point which I think is important, that is, that this Bill rather limits the Australian Wool Corporation to selling by auction. The Corporation has to operate a flexible reserve price scheme in relation to wool offered for sale at auction. I cannot see any reason why the Corporation could not decide to sell to someone else as well as by auction. This is what I am talking about. When it wants to sell to someone else it could say: ‘As far as we are concerned it ls going to operate on the flexible reserve price scheme that we have laid down and have found out over last week’s operations under the auction system’. This would enable the Corporation to set a price which is the flexible reserve price which it has established. This is what I want it to do. I do not want it to be limited only to sales to which the flexible reserve price scheme applies, that is, sales by auction. This seems to me to be fairly reasonable. I cannot see that there is anything very drastic about trying to do this.
In passing I point out that clause 41 refers to clause 38 (l.)(d). It does not refer to paragraphs (a) (b) and (c). lt refers to paragraph (d). The reserve price scheme is mentioned in a separate fashion in clause 38 (l.)(a). This does not apply to clause 38 (1.) (d). I repeat that clause 41 refers to clause 38(l.)(d). If honourable senators read clause 41 (l.)(a) they will see that in the middle of the clause an arrangement is referred to. It states: . . with arrangements referred to in paragraph (d) of sub-section (1.) of section 38 . . .
What I want to do is apply the same arrangements. While we are looking at clause 41 I would also draw attention to paragraph (c) which says: the Corporation, as and when it thinks expedient, re-offers for sale at auction, or otherwise disposes of, wool acquired by it under the scheme.
– That could be by private treaty or tender.
– The Minister has explained what it means. What I am saying is that it refers to the operation by the Corporation of the flexible reserve price scheme, and this is stated in the first line of clause 41. Therefore the Bill states that the Corporation can otherwise dispose of wool acquired by it under the flexible reserve price scheme. So why not add the words ‘or otherwise’ to clause 38 (1.) (a) and make it consistent?
– 1 come into the debate to try to clarify some aspects although I have neither the wool industry background of the Minister for Air (Senator DrakeBrockman) or the talking background of Senator Murphy. I fit somewhere in between. I doubt that we have grasped the intention of clause 38 which states: (1.1 The functions of the Corporation include the following functions:
I mention only one of its functions -
Pausing there for a moment, the Corporation’s duty is to operate a flexible reserve price scheme in respect of wool. Then we limit its operation of a flexible reserve price scheme by adding ‘in respect of wool offered for sale at auction*. Senator Wilkinson seeks to extend that area of operation by saying that the function of the
Corporation would be to operate a flexible reserve price scheme in respect of wool no matter how the wool was offered for sale.
– You cannot do that.
– We may not be able to do it but if in the wisdom of the Corporation it thought that it could do it at some time-
– Then you go back to (k).
– 1 will come back to (k) because I have a great attraction to it. If the Corporation in its wisdom thought that it could operate a flexible reserve price scheme for wool that was sold other than by auction we are denying it the right to operate a flexible reserve price scheme iti respect of that wool. That is the distinction. The Minister relies on clause 41 which sets out the responsibility of the Corporation if wool is sold by auction, that is, if it Axes a reserve price for wool offered for sale at auction, but if it operates a flexible reserve price scheme by other methods then clause 41 has no application. Clause 41 is just a guarantee that reports will be made to the Minister on the system of auction. Before looking at 38 (1.) (ki. we should look at 40(b) which states, as Senator Murphy has said, that the Corporation can buy wool at auction or otherwise. Clause 40(c) provides that the Corporation can sell wool, the property of the Corporation, at auction or otherwise, or make other arrangements for the disposal of such wool. In other words, the Corporation can use any method to buy wool and any method to dispose of wool but it has a say in the price under the orderly marketing scheme only if the wool is offered at auction. Clause 38 (1.) (k) states that the function of the Corporation is: to keep under constant review the practice of the buying and selling of wool outside the auction system, and to make recommendations to the Minister as tj> measures for dealing with any detrimental effects that that practice is having in relation to the objects of this Act or the requirements of the next succeeding section and to take such measures as the Minister approves for the purpose of reducing or eliminating those detrimental effects.
Clause 38(l.)(k) provides that the Corporation can look outside the auction system at what is happening in the industry.
It could well be that the industry might develop, despite this Act, in such a way that most of the wool would be sold outside the auction system. Under (k) the Corporation can keep that practice under review and report to the Minister on the effect that it is having on the auction system. However, the Corporation can in no way interfere with sales made outside the auction system for the purpose of trying to regulate a flexible reserve price scheme in respect of such wool. If we have confidence in the Corporation and give it the specific function of operating a flexible reserve price scheme in respect of wool offered for sale at auction, I see no reason why we should not expand the Corporation’s scope to include any other system if the Corporation thought that its influence could have an effect upon the operation of a flexible reserve price scheme and so prevent individual farmers selling by private contract. The Corporation might feel that its intervention could result in raising the selling price of such wool to the auction price but we are restricting it from intervening by limiting its operations only to wool sold at auction.
– There seems to be a lot of confusion tonight about the words ‘or otherwise’. Let me say, firstly, that under clause 38(1.) (a) the Corporation is to operate a flexible reserve price scheme in respect of wool offered for sale at auction. That is not the only way in which wool is sold today and this is a point which perhaps we have overlooked. At present there is private buying of wool. There is a company operating under a different method of selling, away from the authority of the Australian Wool Commission. All these things have a big bearing because it is impossible for the Corporation to operate a flexible reserve price scheme on the wool the grower sells privately to a buyer or in any other way outside the scope of the Corporation. This is what is happening at present and we must make it very clear because there is a great distinction between the methods. If we include the words ‘or otherwise’ we will add confusion to the Bill because these words would be completely superfluous. They are not necessary. I have been in this industry for a fair while and I appreciate the comments that have been passed. I am trying to clarify the matter and achieve some understanding of what is meant by this Bill.
– We are all entitled to that.
– I agree. We should all try to clarify its meaning so that we can do the best thing for the industry. I do not think it is at all necessary to add these words because clause 38(l.)(a) deals specifically with the auction system and the operation of the flexible reserve price scheme within that system. A lot has been said tonight about the inclusion of the words ‘or otherwise’ because of the need for change. I refer the Senate to clause 38 (l.)(k) which says specifically that the Corporation is to keep under constant review the practice of the buying and selling of wool outside the auction system. In other words, it has to keep under review changes both in the. attitude to and the method of buying as well as in the system of selling. This cannot be overlooked because it is still within the basic clause. I would like to refer briefly to the different systems of buying. For years wool has been bought in a certain way on the auction floor. So much was paid for each bale of wool. So many bales of each group of bales had to be opened on the floor for physical inspection. Changes are coming into the marketing presentation of the wool clip today. The cost of buying is increasing and new approaches are being adopted. Systems such as objective measurement are now being used.
There could be a complete change in the system of buying. It could be bought on a card system or on a quality basis without the wool being inspected. These sorts ot systems could be introduced. It is all taken care of in clause 38(1. )(k). It is entirely divorced from clause 38(l.)(a) which deals specifically with an auction system. The industry is to receive the benefit of any changes.
Let us put it another way. We should not talk too easily about too much change too quickly. Two groups of people are involved in the wool industry - the producers and the buyers. One group cannot operate without the other group. In looking to changes everything cannot be forced down the throats of the customers.
As customers in a shop we consider that we are right. We have the option of buying or otherwise. Moving away from buying to the selling field, entirely different methods are involved. In the selling of wool it could be acquisition, but what type of acquisition? We do not yet know these things. There are many types of acquisition. All aspects of change with regard to the buying and selling of wool are taken care of in clause 38 (1)(k)
Reference was made tonight to paragraph (c) of clause 41 (1). The words ‘or otherwise’ are included in that paragraph but I ask the Committee to look closely at the wording of that provision. It states:
There is a big difference. In this area reference is made to wool that has been purchased or is the property of the Corporation or the Authority. So it is dealing with its own wool which it can resubmit at auction. It can sell by private negotiation, by tender in any way it likes. It is an entirely different situation from that which we have been discussing in the terms of clause 38 (1) (a). We are now dealing with wool that is still owned by the growers and that is entirely different. In the first instance it is the property of the growers which is being protected by the Authority with the assistance of a flexible reserve price scheme. In terms of clause 41 (l)(c), you are dealing with a commodity that has been transferred from the producer to the authority. It is the property of the Authority which it is selling by auction or by any other method by which it can dispose of the wool. There is a great difference between the 2 situations.
I sincerely hope that the Committee will not include the words ‘or otherwise’ in clause 38 (1) (a) because that would disturb the meaning of that clause. I appreciate the concern that has been expressed but the situation is completely covered by 38 (1) (k). I appeal to the Committee in the hope that it will not include the words ‘or otherwise’ in paragraph (a) of clause 38(1).
– We are discussing paragraph (a) of clause 38 (1). It virtually stands alone and the position is confused by turning to speeches made at the second reading stage of the debate and to the other clauses. I think Senator Cavanagh was getting very close to the point. The clause provides: 38(1.)- The functions of the Corporation include the following functions:
Let us stop there. Why is it to be flexible? It is to be flexible because the price fluctuates from day to day as buyers make offers. Why is it a reserve price scheme? Because that is the whole objective of the measure. There must be a reserve price of a fixed amount. 1 believe the clause does introduce aspects that are misleading because it goes straight on to refer to the wool offered for sale at auction. It gives the impression that everything in the clause relates to wool offered for sale at auction when actually the clause is only establishing a flexible reserve price scheme.
– But only for certain wool.
– No. The words ‘shall be established” refer only to the flexible reserve price scheme. The clause provides that a flexible reserve price scheme shall be established in respect of wool offered for sale at auction. A scheme would be established on that basis and then everything else would have to be incorporated. How in the world could a price that is arrived at by private treaty and negotiation adjust a reserve price which is to be flexible on the market day by day? It would take a month to run around andfind all the wool growers who had sold by private treaty, what they were paid and the average price and say that it has to be taken into consideration with the prices at auction. Clause 38 (1.) (a) is worded the way it is to establish a firm auction price that will set the basis of the flexible reserve price scheme. The scheme operates on the whole of the industry, the whole of the sales. The price alone is arrived at and I do not believe that clause 38 (1.) is worded as plainly as it could be.
– Will you ask the Minister whether he accepts that interpretation? He did not seem to me to be saying that.
– I tried to do that when I first spoke on the question. I asked the Minister whether the provision was limited to the establishment of the price. If it is, there is a very good reason why ‘or otherwise’ should not be included. If that is the purpose of clause 38 (1), I believe the clause is acceptable.
– I think Senator Little is getting mixed up between the operation of a reserve price scheme and a woo] deficiency payments scheme.
– With due respect that is contained in the other clause. Clause 38 (1 . ) is all we are dealing with.
– I am only trying to help. The argument that Senator Little brought up was that you would not be able to run around to all the various producers, ask them if they had sold any wool this week to a private buyer and then work out the reserve price. This is not a reserve price scheme. We have a deficiency payment scheme to find out what amount of wool has been sold in a week and to determine the percentage that will be paid that week for the wool that has been sold.
– The Commission has to arrive at its reserve price before it can buy.
– That has nothing to do with it. The private buyer arrives at the price which he will pay for wool. For instance, the Corporation is selling wool at, say, 40c at auction under the reserve price scheme. The reserve price that week is determined on the basis of the demand for wool. It is a flexible reserve price that operates and can change from week to week and even from hour to hour.
– Yes, on the price for which it is sold at auction.
– The reserve price is that which the Corporation determines is reasonable and flexible. If the auction price was about 300 cents a kilogramme, do you think the flexible price scheme would come into operation and say that 40c must be charged?
– Of course it would not. There would not be a flexible price scheme that week at all. The point is that the farmer who wishes to sell his wool to a buyer will say: ‘The flexible price appeared to be 40c last week. Will you now pay 41c?’ What is the argument? The wool grower will get his 40c. I do not see that this would affect it. But if the wool grower goes to the Corporation and says: Will you buy my wool? I want to get rid of it. I do not believe in the auction system. Will you buy it or shall I send it straight to England, the Continent or Japan and try to sell it there?’ The Corporation is empowered to buy the wool. The Wool Corporation would say to the wool grower: ‘All right. We will buy your wool and we will give you, based on last year’s operation on the auction market, the reserve price’. This is whatI think would happen. Therefore you would have to add or otherwise’ or you would not be able to meet that position.
-I am sorry that the Minister for Air and Senator Young cannot see the way that the Opposition is arguing. Our argument is that this amendment will improve the provisions of the Bill.
– No. You are not with it.
– How does Senator Withers know? He has not been in the chamber for the past three-quarters of an hour. He would not know the first thing about it. I repeat that the intention of the Australian Labor Party is to improve the provisions of the Bill. No honourable senator on the Government side has indicated that to add the words ‘or otherwise’ proposed in the amendment would destroy the principle of the Bill. It could only assist the provisions of the Bill.
The Minister has asked: ‘How will it be determined what wool is sold at private auction?’ That principle is applied throughout the Commonwealth at the present time. When a revaluation of land is carried out by the Valuer-General of each of the States, he takes into consideration what is paid by people in numerous areas of that State. Surely this fact brings into dispute the argument advanced by the Minister. The Minister introduced into the discussion clause 41 (1.) (c). Senator Little does not think that that provision enters into the matter at all. But the Minister himself injected this clause into his discussion. Clause 41 (l.)(c) contains these words: the Corporation, as and when it thinks expedient, re-offers for sale at auction, or otherwise disposes of, wool acquired by it under the scheme.
Surely the Minister contradicts his own argument by referring to the wording of clause 41 (1.) (c) which uses the words: ‘or otherwise disposes of. The Corporation can buy the wool from the wool grower and then it may re-offer that wool for sale at auction or may otherwise dispose of it. I think the Minister for Air should accept what the Opposition is saying because we believe that it is in the interests of the industry to do so.
– Clause 38 (1.) (a) contains the words: to operate a flexible reserve price scheme in respect of wool offered for sale at auction;
That is all it says. If the words ‘or otherwise’ are added, an attempt is made to introduce a flexible reserve price into wool that is sold privately. In other words, if I sold my wool privately to a manufacturer in Leeds it could be said that by adding the words ‘or otherwise’ there should be a flexible reserve price in that sale. How the dickens can that be done? It cannot be done.
– This does not refer to your doing it privately. It is done through the Corporation. It does not refer to you selling it personally.
– The words ‘or otherwise’ mean sale by tender or sale by private treaty. That is all they can mean. There are dozens of ways of selling wool by private treaty. I simply cited this simple example of my selling my own wool direct to the manufacturer at Leeds. How is the Corporation to operate a private treaty sale of wool?
– It could sell wool by operating under a system of selling other than auction.
- (Senator Lawrie) - Order! Let the Minister explain.
– I am helping him.
– That is why this discussion is continuing. Your help has been too good, apparently. The
Bill provides already for wool to be sold by private treaty. In clause 38 (1.) (k) honourable senators can find this provision. That can be done. But a flexible reserve price cannot be operated by the Corporation in a private treaty sale of wool.
– I asked you to explain - you have not yet - how the Corporation buys from the grower direct. That is what I am talking about. I agree with all the rest of your comments.
– If the
Corporation buys from a grower the Corporation gives the grower the flexible reserve price operating at that time.
– Where does it say that?
– The flexible reserve price is fixed as stated in clause 41 (1.) (a) which states, inter alia: . . as the Corporation thinks necessary having regard to the bidding at recent auctions find to all other relevant information available to the Corporation;
That is all that sub-clause means. Yet we nave had all this argument on it.
Question put -
That the words proposed to be inserted (Senator Wilkinson’s amendment) be inserted.
The Committee divided. (The Temporary Chairman - Senator Lawrie)
Majority . . . . 7
- (Senator Lawrie) - Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
Question so resolved in the negative.
– We have dealt with clause 38 (l.)(a). I mentioned previously in the discussion that I wanted to raise the question of futures. It is well known and recognised that about 80 per cent of the Australian wool clip is sold by arrangement before it hits the auction floor. I am very much opposed to this practice.
- (Senator Lawrie) - To which clause are you directing your remarks?
– I want to ask the Minister for Air (Senator Drake-Brockman) a question. I am not dealing with the next amendment. I aim relating my remarks to wool marketing which is the subject of this Part of the Bill. It has been pointed out to me that some people who have seen the Bill believe that there is within it the. opportunity for the Corporation still to allow the operation of futures. Is there any clause in the Bill dealing with this practice? I have not been able to detect such a clause, and I want to know whether the Minister can enlighten me or assure me that there is not such a clause.
– With ministerial approval the Corporation could operate on the futures market. This could come up in the consideration of clause 38 (1.)(k) but I understand that there is another clause which could apply more specifically to this practice. 1 am trying to find it. I can say that with the approval of the Minister the Corporation could operate on the futures market. It could do so under clause 38(l.)(k) plus another clause which I will indicate to you later on.
– I am satisfied with that answer but I am sorry that it will have that authority. I refer now to clause 38 (1.) (o). This clause comes very close to what the industry has been requesting but it does not actually establish the fact. In the reply of the Minister for Air (Senator Drake-Brockman) to the second reading debate, to which I had no opportunity of replying, he gave a different interpretation of what the Australian Wool Industry Conference asked for in March. He said that in March the industry was not so definite about the necessity for the institution df an acquisition scheme to acquire all Australian wool. Yet in the second reading speech that the Minister made on behalf of the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Sinclair), he said:
In addition the Conference recommended that the new body should be equipped with wide powers including the power compulsorily to acquire the total Australian wool clip.
That was what I quoted earlier. I quoted from the Minister’s own speech. In replying to the second reading debate the Minister said that I was quite wrong in my assumption because that was not what the Australian Wool Industry Conference said. He then went into what the Conference said last year and what a committee reported in March this year. I believe that the industry as a whole is asking for acquisition. Going a little further, the day before yesterday I asked the Minister a question about the speech made by the Minister for Primary Industry at a show held at Wagin in Western Australia. The Minister for Primary Industry acknowledged the need for acquisition. I quote from his speech, a copy of which the Minister for Air provided to me earlier today. Talking about the report that would be made by the Corporation, which is not yet set up, when it inquires into the need for acquisition, the Minister for Primary Industry said:
I believe the report will overwhelmingly recommend that an acquisition scheme be introduced as quickly and as effectively as possible, lt is necessary to point out that there will be ancillary legislation in the States.
I do not dispute that for a moment. The Minister for Primary Industry recognised that there is a demand for acquisition and that the demand will be upheld by the Corporation when it reaches the stage of submitting its report. The Opposition feels that the matter should be taken a little further than what is set out in the Bill and that the Bill should stipulate that the Corporation should institute the inquiry. This has not been set out in the Bill, lt has been mentioned in the second reading speech of the Minister for Air. It is the Bill which counts. It is the wording of the Bill which is so important. This is not in the Bill, it is only in the second reading speech. That is why the proposed amendment is worded in the way in which it is worded. The Opposition considers that the inquiry should be made urgently and that the report should be made available within 6 months. The Opposition considers that this point should be incorporated in the Bill.
I think it is important to realise that the Opposition is not saying that the report will be one way or the other. I believe that it will be in favour of acquisition, but the Opposition is not stipulating that the Bill insist that the Corporation recommend an acquisition scheme. The Opposition wants a report. It should be available in 6 months, not in a couple of years. I do not think there is anything unreasonable about that request. It should be part of the Bill. It would ensure that the Corporation would have the necessary power, authority and direction to carry out this inquiry urgently and to make a report to the Minister for Primary Industry. Therefore I move:
Then the clause would continue with paragraph (p). I think that the paragraph is reasonable when the majority of the industry wants acquisition. Let us have an inquiry. I think the Minister for Air has said that it is necessary to have an authoritative body make this inquiry. We want to be absolutely certain that its report is the one that the industry wants. Never mind the Randall report and the other reports that we have had before; lel us have an authoritative one which will look into this matter and give an answer in 6 months so that we will know where we are heading and what we have to do - whether we have to go ahead with acquisition.
– I second the amendment moved by Senator Wilkinson. I point out some of the features of Part III of the Bill. The Bill states: ‘Part III. - Wool Marketing.’ The side note is: ‘Functions of Corporation in relation to wool marketing.’ That Part contains no reference to Parliament. I think it is pretty important that Parliament should have some control over this aspect of the proposed new method of marketing. Clause 38 (1.) states:
The functions of the Corporation include the following functions: -
to operate a flexible reserve price scheme in respect of wool offered for sale at auction;
to formulate, and make arrangements with a view to securing the observance of, standards of preparation of wool for submission for sale at auction or otherwise;
to formulate, and make arrangements with a view to securing the adoption of, terms and conditions governing the acceptance of wool for sale, and the sale of wool, whether at auction or, with the approval of the Minister, otherwise than at auction;
subject to the next succeeding sub-section, to make arrangements with respect to wool auction sale programmes and the quantities and kinds of wool to be offered at particular auction sales, and for the payment of advances to persons the marketing of whose wool is delayed by reason of such arrangements;
None of those paragraphs refers to Parliament. The clause continues:
There is nothing in paragraph (e) to indicate that Parliament has any jurisdiction or supervision. The clause continues:
None of those paragraphs refers to Parliament. The clause continues:
to keep under constant review the practice of the buying and selling of wool outside the auction system, and to make recommendations to the Minister as to measures for dealing with any detrimental effects that that practice is having in relation to the objects of this Act or the requirements of the next succeeding section and to take such measures as the Minister approves for the purpose of reducing or eliminating those detrimental effects;
I hope that I have been able to show conclusively that there is nothing in Part III which refers to supervision by Parliament. I think the Committee will agree that clause 38 contains a most important provision and that surely Parliament should have some supervision of any activities of the Corporation. This is precisely, or at least we hope precisely, what the amendment says.
– Have a look at clause 91.
– Will the honourable senator wait until I have finished? The amendment seeks to add the following paragraph: (oa) to formulate a detailed plan for operation by the Corporation, of a scheme to acquire and/or market the Australian wool clip and to report this plan to the Parliament within 6 months of the commencement of this Act;
It goes on further to deal with other subclauses. I say that this amendment is the only proposal through which the Parliament has some say in what the Corporation may do. If it is believed that it is important that Parliament should have the opportunity to supervise what the Corporation does, I believe that the principles enunciated in the amendment should be accepted. Personally, I cannot see where the Committee could have any quarrel with that whatever. However, the Minister may be able to disabuse our minds in regard to this matter. I repeat that this is a most important question. If it is as important as we say - and I believe that the Government would also appreciate its importance - then I say it is relatively more important for Parliament to be assured that it has the supervision of any arrangements that are made by the Corporation. In our book, that cannot be done unless the Government agrees to accept this amendment We propose the amendment in that light. I trust that the Minister will at least try to show us where we are wrong, if he thinks we are. We say that we are right. We say that quite positively, and we put forward the proposition to him and to the Government because we believe that the Parliament should have a say in what shall be the marketing arrangements provided by the Corporation.
– We have looked at the amendment and at the clause. To some extent they both make provision for an inquiry, although one is far more specific than the other. The clause gives to the new authority the responsibility to inquire into wool marketing methods, .whether alone, or in cooperation with other authorities and organisations. Under those terms the Corporation is not necessarily precluded from inquiring into the formulating of a detailed plan for operation by the Corporation of a scheme to acquire, and market the Australian wool clip, lt could very well do what is suggested in the amendment, under the first lines of paragraph (o) of clause 38 (1.) although not necessarily so, because, the amendment is of much wider ambit. It could investigate whether it would be a good thing to’ do this in co-operation with other authorities and organisations. The, Bill makes provision that the Corporation will from time to time report the results of its inquiries to the Minister and to the Australian Wool Industry Conference, to allow the industry to know what the inquiries have discovered and to absorb the information and make its own decision as to whether the information available as a result of the inquiries is likely to be helpful. Then it makes its suggestions to the industry. It is suggested by Senator Milliner that all these clauses contain no provision that decisions have to come back to Parliament for ratification. I suggest to him that if the Australian Wool Commission had to rush back to the Parliament every time the price went up or down and obtain the approval of Parliament to fix a reserve price on the basis of the auction prices that were offering, before it could purchase or buy or do anything else, there would be chaos in the industry and it would never get out of the Slough of Despond. There is nothing in this clause or in the amendment that suggests that if the authority is left as it is the Corporation can act on the result of this inquiry without any parliamentary approval. There, is no suggestion that the Corporation will be implementing, without the approval of Parliament, entirely new schemes other than the scheme that is clearly outlined in this Bill. What is in the Bill is before the Parliament at the moment. It has not yet received its full approval but seems to be well on the way. I do not think that we should complain about that. As I understand the amendment, it would not limit the inquiry. If it were carried it would be added to the clause and the Corporation could conduct the inquiry provided for here. But it would give the Corporation an obligation to formulate a detailed plan for operation by it in that it sets out that the plan must be, operated only by the Corporation, and includes nobody else. We are asking it to do a specific job and we exclude everybody but the Corporation. The amendment sets out that there would be an approved marketing scheme to acquire and/or market the Australian wool clip. If the Corporation acquires it, ultimately it will have, to market it. It is feasible that it would market the clip without acquiring it. It could market it on behalf of others, but it would seem to me to be rather difficult for it not to market it once it had. acquired it because the Corporation would own it and would be the sole owner of the Australian wool clip and would have to market it. It has to report this plan to Parliament within 6 months of the commencement of this Act. I think this Corporation will have a lot to do. I would not know what expertise it would be able to engage to formulate this detailed plan within a period of 6 months and report back to the Parliament and still carry out all its other duties. I am certain that this must take priority over the clause. It would necessarily preclude the Corporation doing very much with other bodies or reporting to the. Australian Wool Industry Conference. It has to present the report to Parliament within 6 months. There is a provision in the Bill that the Corporation could use its skill to inquire into and make known to the industry the result of its inquiry and also make it known to the Minister. Before any action can be taken on the report, even if the Minister does not see fit to give the Parliament the report, it would have to come back to this Parliament unless it was within the ambit of the authority given by the Bill. I do not see that Parliament is being circumvented in any way by the proposition in the Bill. I think there is a reasonable formula there for even the proposition contained in the amendment to be considered by the Corporation. But there is also a formula that goes much wider. We would prefer to leave the Bill as it is, as it covers what is suggested in the amendment but is not so specific, nor does it carry with it the connotation that it is necessarily only the proposition of a complete acquisition by the Corporation that is under consideration.
– I rise to support the amendment moved by my colleague Senator Wilkinson. I do so because I believe it is an attempt by the Opposition to place some teeth in the paper tiger that the Government has drawn up. When I say ‘paper tiger’ I quite frankly think that that is about all it is. It is a continuation of the series of so many reports and Bills that this Government has brought down over the years that have meant nothing but starvation and degradation for the wool industry. A few moments ago Senator Little made some remarks about the 6 months being too short for the Corporation to have a look at the feasibility of a statutory marketing authority to acquire and market the Australian wool clip. He seems to doubt whether it would have time. I suggest that all the Corporation would have to do is look at the plan that was drawn up by the New Zealand Wool Board’s marketing body. To me, the details of that scheme would be admirably suited to the type of scheme that any organisation in Australia would draw up. Unfortunately, under pressure the New Zealand Government, like (he Australian Government, has backed off from that proposal for the. time being. Quite frankly, I see the Bill as an attempt, as I have said already, to procrastinate and delay. I see it also as a two bob each way job. As Senator Wilkinson has mentioned, already we have the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Sinclair) spelling out all sorts of things that have not even happened. He believes that the report not yet commenced by the proposed Corporation would recommend overwhelmingly the acquisition of the Australian wool clip. I do not know whether this is wishful thinking or whether it is Country Party electioneering, but it is obvious that this is what the Country Party intends to do. I believe that on the other hand the Liberal Party will be able, to go out and say to its supporters: ‘You know, that is not really what we mean, anyhow’. In actual fact, I am told that Mr Renshaw, a member of the Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation, is currently touring the State, of New South Wales, telling people somewhat confidentially that the Government proposes to set up this Corporation and appoint the directors to it for terms of between 3 and 5 years in order to tie the hands of a potential Labor government after 2nd December.
– That information has been relayed to me, and I have no reason to disbelieve it.
– Potential for 22 years.
-Senator Webster can say what he likes, but I will tell him that if I were standing for the Country Party in any of the seats which the Country Party currently holds in Victoria, I would be home doing my homework. I regret that
I was noi present during the second reading debate on this Bil] because I wanted to speak at length on it, but 1 would like the Minister to give the Committee an assurance, if he can, that prior to the forthcoming election the Government will not just go ahead and appoint the commissioners or the other people at the top of this Corporation and so tie the hands of a future government after 2nd December. I ask the Minister whether he is prepared to do that.
– Firstly, 1 refer to the question which Senator Wilkinson asked me as to whether the Corporation could operate on the futures market. 1 said that it could under clause 38 (1.) (k). That is so, I believe, but if it cannot operate on the futures market under that clause, then I believe that it can do so under clause 20. Turning to the clause presently under discussion, as Senator Little has said, under clause 38 (I.) (o) of the Bill the Australian Wool Corporation is specifically empowered to inquire into arid report upon the methods of marketing the Australian wool clip, including the question of a compulsory acquisition scheme.
– Where does it say that?
-In clause 38 (1.) (o).
– Excuse me, but I cannot see any reference to acquisition.
– It might not spell it out, but I said that the Corporation is empowered to do that. As I mentioned in my second reading speech on that Bill, the Government will be looking to the Corporation to investigate the whole question of wool marketing and to prepare a detailed plan for a compulsory acquisition scheme clearly defined in all respects. Providing a satisfactory and acceptable plan can be devised, the Government is prepared to develop the necessary legislation in conjunction with the States. I think Senator Milliner asked: ‘What control have we got over the Corporation?” If the Corporation brings up a plan for acquisition, we must introduce into the Parliament legislation to implement an acquisition scheme. So there is control over it.
– What is wrong with our amendment, then?
– Your amendment has a lot wrong with it, and I will tell you about in a minute. I am quite sure that the Corporation will give high priority to the preparation of a detailed acquisition scheme. The Government considers, however, that it would not be proper to impose an arbitrary time limit on the Corporation to complete its task. To do so would be to impose an undesirable condition on the Corporation which could hamper it in its investigations into this important matter and adversely affect the quality of its report.
When this Bill is given assent, (he first job the Corporation will have to do is to get all the people presently employed by the Australian Wool Board and the Australian Wool Commission into one organisation, the Australian Wool Corporation. Some of the men from those 2 organisations will be given jobs different from those which they are doing at the present time. A tremendous amount of work will be involved in setting up the Corporation. But at the same time the Corporation will have to carry out its functions. Wool sales will be held and the flexible reserve price scheme will continue to operate. These men will face terrific problems in trying to establish and get the Corporation functioning. In addition, under clause 38 we are asking the Corporation to carry out an investigation into an acquisition scheme. I have heard it said that an acquisition scheme is easy to introduce. I heard Senator Primmer say that a few moments ago. People say that all the information is in the Wool Board or in the Wool Commission.
– He did not say that at all.
– I never said he did. I said I heard Senator Primmer say that an acquisition scheme is easy to introduce. If Senator Poyser wants me to make it plainer, I said I have heard other people say that the required information about an acquisition scheme is already in the Wool Board or in the Wool Commission. I want to say that that is not so. A detailed acquisition plan has never been spelt out. If one looks at the 1951- postJoint Organisation scheme one will find that it envisaged a fixed floor price which was to be determined each season and not altered during the season except under exceptional circumstances. If one looks at the 1965 scheme one finds again that it was a reserve price plan. Like the 1951 scheme, it provided for a fixed reserve price determined seasonally and approved by the Government. If we are to introduce a compulsory acquisition scheme embracing the total Australian wool clip, it can be implemented only through Commonwalth and State complementary legislation. Appropriate legislation can be drafted and considered only when a detailed plan for wool acquisition has been developed. I have referred to the post-Joint Organisation scheme. I omitted to mention the Philp report of 1962, which again gave no information about an acquisition scheme.
– What is the New Zealand Act referred to by Senator Primmer?
– That is a scheme recommended by the Minister for Agriculture in New Zealand for acquiring the total clip. But because the Minister in New Zealand is not sure that he has a majority of growers on his side, it has been decided to delay placing the recommendation before the Parliament.
– Order! In conformity with the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate, I formally put the question:
That the Temporary Chairman do now leave the Chair and report to the Senate.
Question resolved in the affirmative. (The Temporary Chairman having reported accordingly)
– 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.
– I desire to have the attention of the Senate for a short time in order to refer to a misleading advertisement which appeared in today’s issue of the ‘Canberra Times’ and which was authorised by the Liberal Party for its election campaign. The advertisement is headed in large black type. ‘It was a wonderful Budget!’ and shows this as a statement by ‘Arthur Calwell, former Labor leader, quoted in Sydney Morning Herald, 2.10.72’. After reading this advertisement I went to the Parliamentary Library where I was able to dig out the particular issue of the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’. When I looked at the relevant article I found that the Liberal Party advertisement quoted only part of what Mr Arthur Calwell had said for its own political purposes. To put the record straight 1 want to read to the Senate the exact words Mr Calwell used. While being interviewed about the Budget on a TV programme’ This Week’ on Channel 7, Mr Calwell said:
It was a wonderful Budget, it should have been. too. Everything in it was pinched from Labor Parly policy.
Why did the Liberal Party, which inserted this advertisement, not tell the people the whole story of what Mr Calwell had said? I rise tonight only to lodge my objection to this advertisement which appeared in the ‘Canberra Times’.
– Did he not say it was a wonderful Budget?
– Mr President, 1 am afraid I shall have to take 1 or 2 minutes more of the Senate’s time as a result of Senator Webster’s interjection. I do not deny that Mr Calwell used the words. I will read them again. He said:
It was a wonderful Budget. It should have been, too. Everything in it was pinched from Labor Party Policy.
Many of the things contained in this Budget have been Labor Party policy for many years. I think this should awaken the electors of Australia to what they can expect as the Campaign gets under way; that is, that small portions of statements by Labor members will be used to bolster up the Budget on which this Government hopes to win the election. If Government spokesmen want to be honest with the electors and want to quote things that members of the Labor Party have said over the years, let them quote the full text.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 11.4 p.m.
The following answers to questions upon notice were circulated:
(Question No. 2296)
asked the Attor ney-General, upon notice:
Senator GREENWOOD- The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
asked the Attorney-
General, upon notice:
Senator GREENWOOD- The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
(Question No. 2327)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice:
Was a National Serviceman who has a record of multiple suicide attempts accepted for service in the Army; if so, why.
Senator WRIGHT- The Minister for Labour and National Service has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
National service medical examinations are conducted by Medical Boards normally of two doctors in accordance with precise standards and instructions approved by the Director-General of Army Medical Services. The standards are the same as those for the Regular Army. Classification of a registrant is based on consideration of his medical history as made known to or elicited by the Board, any medical evidence submitted and a physical examination. Provision is made for referral to a consulting specialist or obtaining evidence of past medical treatment where the Board considers this desirable. The findings are considered by a reviewing medical authority. Thus a man’s fitness for service is decided on the basis of qualified medical opinion.
In the case to which the Honourable Senator refers 1 am informed that following his attempted suicide while serving in the Regular Army Supplement, it was learnt that the national serviceman had made a number of attempts to take his life previously. No such information was, however, disclosed or apparent at the time of medical examination.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs, upon notice:
Has the Australian Government protested to the Government of Taiwan about the illegal fishing in Australian waters by Taiwanese fishing boats.
Senator WRIGHT- The Minister for Foreign Affairs has furnished the following reply:
There have been numerous incidents in recent years involving illegal fishing in Australian waters by Taiwanese fishing vessels despite increasing penalties which have included heavyfines and the confiscation of fishing vessels and equipment. Australia has protested to the Government of the Republic of China on a number of occasions, the latest being a protest over the recent incursions of Taiwanese fishing vessels into the fishing zones of Australia and Papua New Guinea.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Social Services, upon notice:
Will the Minister give urgent consideration to amending the Social Services Act, so as to enable an applicant who has been refused social service benefits, including unemployment benefits, to have ready access to an appeals tribunal to consider unfavourable decisions by any officer of the Department, including the Director-General.
Senator GREENWOOD - The Minister for Social Services has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
In December last year the Government announced the appointment of a Committee (of which Sir Henry Bland is Chairman) to examine administrative discretions under Commonwealth statutes and regulations and to advise the Government of the particular circumstances in which a review of administrative decisions on the merits should be provided. The Government appointed the Committee following the report of the Commonwealth Administrative Review Committee which was tabled by the Prime Minister on 14th October last year.
The Bland Committee’s terms of reference require that it should determine whether some review should be provided in respect of administrative decisions taken under discretionary powers conferred by legislation in the administration of the Department of Social Services. When the Committee’s report has been received and is under consideration this matter will receive attention.
– On 20th September 1972, Senator Primmer asked the following question, without notice:
Will the Minister follow the lead of the New South Wales Government and legislate to require second hand car dealers to label accurately every vehicle that they offer for sale, with details of its history. For the further protection of second hand car buyers in Commonwealth Territories, will he also require that dealers provide a warranty on vehicles sold, the period of the warranty to be related to the price.
The Minister for the Interior has provided the following reply to the honourable senator’s question:
– On 12th Octo ber 1972 Senator Townley asked me the following question:
In view of the many complaints received by the Postmaster-General and some members of this chamber from subscribers who doubt the accuracy of their telephone accounts, will the Minister take whatever action he can urgently to start the installation of some type of automatic billing system for telephone accounts so that the details of all subscriber trunk dialling charges are supplied to subscribers? Is he aware that early attention to this matter is desirable, because no doubt any modifications will take a fair deal of time to carry out?
The Postmaster-General has now furnished me with the following information in reply.
As was explained when answering an earlier question from the honourable senator there are basic differences in the type of telephone exchange equipment installed in Australia as compared with, for example, the United States of America, which precluded the Post Office from installing, at present, an automatic ticketing system so that details of all subscriber dialled trunk calls can be supplied to subscribers.
It is, of course, appreciated that an automatic ticketing system has an advantage over the multimetering system in that subscribers can be given a fully detailed statement of their S.T.D. calls. On the other hand the cost of providing this facilityin Australia at this stage would be enormous and would obviously have to be reflected in the charges made for trunk calls.
New technological advances are expected to make the introduction of an automatic ticketing system into the APO network more financially attractive in the future and these advances together with developments in overseas networks are being continually studied by the Post Office. It is not possible at this stage, however, to give any indication as to when or if such a system might be introduced.
– On 12th Octoberl972 Senator Negus asked me the following question:
My question is directed to the Minister representing the Postmaster-General. I realise that this matter has been raised today but I want to draw attention to it again. Is the Minister aware that over the past 12 months many people have complained that their telephone accounts for local calls have increased to 3 or 4 times the amount paid by them for years? Is the Minister aware that these increases have occurred only since new computer equipment has been installed by the Postmaster-General’s Department? Does he know that some people in private homes are being charged for up to 28 local calls a day 7 days a week as against their previous average of 4 telephone calls a day? Are people expected to accept and pay an account when they know full well that they are being charged for telephone calls which were never made? Will the Minister advise what further action a private citizen can take after written appeals to the Postmaster-General and his Department have failed to produce relief?
The Postmaster-General has now furnished me with the following information in reply:
During the 12 months to 30th June 1972, the item ‘metered calls’, which includes charges for local and STD calls, was queried in 1.2 per cent of all telephone accounts issued in State capital cities and Canberra. Although accounts for most subscribers in the Sydney and Melbourne areas are now prepared by computer, there is no evidence to suggest that overcharging has resulted from the introduction of computerised accounting.
It is emphasised that the charges shown on telephone accounts against the item ‘metered calls’ covers both local calls and subscriber dialled (STD) trunk calls. The meter which registers local calls also registers the charges for STD calls as multiples of the local call fee. Thus the charge is for so many meter registrations at 4.75c each.It is incorrect to interpret the charge levied for metered calls as meaning that, for example, a subscriber had made 28 local calls a day, 7 days a week, throughout the accounting period. To be sure, the charge is equivalent to an average of 28 local calls daily over the period, but in fact may have been incurred on only one or 2 lengthy STD calls. A15 minute STD call from Perth to Melbourne during the daytime, for example, would add 225 registrations to the subscribers’s meter and cost $10.69.
Investigations into complaints concerning higher than usual charges for metered calls show that in the great majority of cases the service concerned has been used to the extent indicated by the charge shown on the account.
In many instances it has been found that the subscribers have overlooked calls made from the service, particularly during the early part of the accounting period, or have been unaware until disclosed during the course of the Department’s enquiries, of the true extent to which the telephone has been used by other persons with access to it, including other members of the household and perhaps also visitors. Frequently, too, the investigations have revealed that the subscribers have failed to take Into account the fact that the charge for STD calls is registered on the same meter used to record local calls, or that they have underestimated the frequency and duration of
STD calls made. Tarrif mci eases which occur from time to time also have an effect on telephone accounts and this fact is frequently overlooked by subscribers.
A thorough and impartial examination is made in all cases where a subscriber queries the metered call charge on his account and an adjustment is made if there is the slight evidence that overcharging has occurred. Without doubt, there are some subscribers who would never be satisfied with the decision given but 1 believe that the existing avenues open to subscribers to represent their case are adequate.
Australian Capital Territory
Control of second hand motor vehicle sales was raised by the Australian Capital Territory Advisory Council on 12th September 1972. Council resolved that there may be inadequacies in the existing law and that a report be prepared on the feasibility of legislation to protect consumers. The Department of the Interior is currently examining the matter and a report is being prepared for consideration by the Advisory Council.
The control of second hand motor vehicle sales is one of a number of matters concerning consumer protection being considered by a Select Committee of the Northern Territory Legislative Council. This Committee was appointed by the Council at its August 1972 sittings to inquire into and report on consumer protection legislation in the Territory.
The Auctioneers, Dealers and Agents Ordinance 1970 provides for the licensing of used car dealers and also for the cancellation of such licences. This Ordinance is expected to be brought into operation by mid 1973 when the registration of all used car dealers operating in the Territory should be completed.
Any person who, with intent to deceive, tampers with or instals a substitute instrument for the recording of mileage in a motor vehicle is guilty of an offence under the Police and Police Offenders Ordinance 1923-1971.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 25 October 1972, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1972/19721025_senate_27_s54/>.