28th Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Magnus Cormack) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
Right Honourable A. A. Calwell
- Mr President, it is with deep regret that I inform the Senate of the death on 8 July last of the right honourable Arthur Augustus Calwell. I ask for leave to move a motion.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
The late Right Honourable Arthur Augustus Calwell had one of the lengthiest and most dedicated careers of any member of Parliament. Elected to the House of Representatives as the member for Melbourne in 1 940, he retained this seat for the Labor Party at 11 consecutive Federal elections until his retirement last year. His service to the Australian Labor Party at all its levels was even lengthier. He was one of the youngest men ever to take on the onerous tasks associated with Labor Party officialdom, being elected to a post within the Victorian Branch of the Party in 1914 at the age of 18.
Within 3 years of being elected to Parliament in 1940, Arthur Calwell rose to the Ministry, acting as Minister for Information from 1 943 and also as Minister for Immigration from July 1945 until the defeat of the Government in December 1949. Within 2 years of that defeat, he had become Deputy Leader of the Labor Opposition in the House of Representatives and remained so until March 1960 when he was elected Leader of the parliamentary Labor Party. He led the Opposition for almost 7 years until February 1967.
He served on 11 parliamentary committees and was chairman of three. In 1 96 1 , of course, he led the Labor Party to within a single seat of victory. Few in Australian politics have had to bear such bitter disappointment. There is probably no better illustration of the dedicated nature of his parliamentary service than that he continued through the last session of Parliament from 1969 to 1 972 despite worsening ill-health.
He was born in West Melbourne and grew up in that crowded inner city area in the early 1 900s, where he was surrounded by human misery. He saw hardship at first hand during the aftermath of the banking crash of the late 1890s and the depression that followed. Undoubtedly his adoption of Labor philosophy was a direct consequence of this acquaintance with massive unemployment, the suffering it brought to thousands of Melbourne families, the overnight loss of fortunes, the ruination of business houses and whole streets of houses emptied by evictions. He became aware of the deprivation caused by the lack of sickness or unemployment benefits, child endowment, pensions, funeral benefits and maternity payments.
He described himself as a voracious reader of radical literature and what today could be called left wing writings. His influences included the English Chartists, the British Labour leader Kier Hardie, the Fabians, Edward Bellamy, Owen, and Dickens and Savonarola. A practising Roman Catholic, he said that he never had any difficulty in separating his religious beliefs and duties from his political thinking- ‘following both according to my conscience’ as he commented in his book ‘Labour’s Role in Modern Society’ which was published in 1963. He was a politician who obviously revelled in the rough and tumble of day to day politics, doing regular battle with the Press as well as with his political opponents.
He described a political career as an exacting, thankless full time occupation and not one for the talented dilettante. As the leader of a Labor Opposition aspiring to government he summarised his own political objectives as economic expansion, social equality and national security. Although those of us who worked closely with him in the parliamentary Labor Party regret his passing it is pleasing to know that he remained with us long enough to see the election of the first Labor Government since the one in which he served in the 1940s. This must have brought him and his family satisfaction at a time when he was suffering considerable personal discomfort and physical hardship. Arthur Calwell’s opponents, including those throughout the Labor movement as well as those outside- at no time was he short of opponents because that was the nature of the man and his vigorous political life- always acknowledged his enthusiasm for his causes and the forthrightness of his approach. His role throughout a contentious career was often that of a catalyst. His style and manner demanded a response even from critics and antagonists as well as from his supporters. It could be said that this uncompromising man never really failed to speak his mind or hesitate even to make enemies when he thought it necessary.
As a political campaigner he showed great stamina, travelling long distances and working long hours every day for weeks on end. He has been described as an eloquent rabble rouser of the old style, as a candidate of fascinating contradictions, as hard as granite, as a champion of free speech but intolerant of criticism, as a scholar and a dreamer, as a man of the people and a vengeful political infighter. He was a great Australian political figure. What he did in administering the immigration portfolio is something which is remembered with admiration by all in politics. It is due to his efforts and the schemes which he espoused that a great number of people now in Australia are able to live satisfactory lives in a new continent. They and their children are able to live their lives in this country as a result of the work done by Arthur Calwell and of his vision of a continent peopled largely by migrants from Europe who would bring the talents, enthusiasm and vigour of new people to join the British who were largely occupying this country. In this and many other endeavoursthere are too many to retail to the Senate nowArthur Calwell lived a full and useful life. Perhaps the measure of his success not only as a national figure but also as a man is that he has been so well loved by his family- that was evident- and also by those in politics and by the country at large for the great things he did, whether successful or unsuccessful, and for the efforts which he made. We will remember him and his role with gratitude. I ask the Senate to accept this motion.
– On behalf of the Opposition I would like to associate the Liberal Party with the remarks of the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Murphy). Arthur Calwell was a man of great ability. Although he once described himself as ‘an ordinary sort of cove’, he was far from ordinary. He was in fact quite brilliant. He was always not only a politician but also a scholar of note and a deeply religious man. As a scholar he received wide praise for his book ‘Labor’s Role in Modern Society’ published in 1963. As a politician, Arthur Calwell left a more enduring mark on Australian history than many politicians can claim. He was the architect of Australia’s postwar immigration program, a program which brought many thousands of Europeans into Australia following the war a program which has enriched our culture and influenced the very fabric of our lives. When appointed Minister for Immigration in 1 945, Arthur Calwell devoted his energy and undoubted administrative ability to the task of planning an immigration program on a scale no other country had attempted. Succeeding non-Labor governments built on the foundations which the late Arthur Calwell laid. It is a debt that we on this side of the chamber have always acknowledged. Arthur Calwell ‘s first love was always politics. In fact it would probably be true to say that politics was in his blood. His great-grandfather was a member of the Pennsylvania legislature from 1820 to 1822 and, like his great-grandson, was apparently something of a rebel. Arthur Calwell was a man who held very strong beliefs and ideals. These ideals he kept throughout his life. His anti-conscription fight began during the First World War. It continued in the Second World War when he opposed his leader on the issue and it was a principle for which he fought in the last years of his life. As a mark of his scholarship, one recalls that in 1 960 he surprised many by welcoming the new Chinese Ambassador for Taiwan fluently in his own tongue. For some years he had been quietly learning Mandarin. He was a deeply religious man and was honoured in 1964 when the Pope conferred on him a papal knighthood. Whatever else can be said about him, Arthur Calwell was a man of deep and easily stirred emotions and no-one could deny that to the end he remained a fervent and very great Australian.
- Senator Gair, as you were long associated with the late right honourable gentleman, I call you next.
– Members of the Australian Democratic Labor Party desire to be associated with the motion of condolence to the widow and relatives of the late Arthur Calwell.
– I desire to be associated with the motion of condolence to the relatives of the late Arthur Calwell. I am sure that I knew him longer than anybody in this Senate because he and I went to the same school, though at different times. I knew him for 50 years and in that period I was associated with him in the Australian Labor Party and also in other spheres. In the 1930s as a team we won the Australian Natives Association debating competition on several occasions. I supported him politically.
I was a member of his branch of the Australian Labor Party and my father also was one of his principal supporters. Some 20 years ago, for reasons for which neither of us could be blamed, there was an estrangement, but I am glad to say that a month before he died we met, we had a discussion and, when we parted, he wished me well and I wished him well. I do not believe that in any way he was compromising the political stance that he had taken. I understood that, as a deeply religious man, he wanted to leave this world with malice towards none. I am sure that God has been good to him. May his soul rest in peace.
– My Australian Country Party colleagues and I would like to be associated with the motion moved by the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Murphy) and supported by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Withers) and the Australian Democratic Labor Party. Arthur Calwell was, I believe, a man of great principle and was held in high esteem by has friends and political opponents alike. He was a lifetime member of the Australian Labor Party and he held deep convictions and views for which he never ceased to fight. In private life he had many good and close friends. He was a paradox in that he was an unyielding and often a bitter political fighter, yet possessed personal charm and was approachable and friendly. He was a speaker who always commanded attention, generally because he had something worth saying to which people were ready to listen. He was the author of a book with a title that matched his character ‘Be Just and Fear Not’.
He had a great memory for names. I well recall being amazed when I came into this Parliament as a senator. I had met Arthur Calwell some years previously when I visited this Parliament as a member of a deputation of primary producers and when I entered Parliament he came up to me, spoke my name and recalled the occasion of our meeting. This made a great impression on me as a new senator. Australia has lost a great son with Arthur Calwell ‘s passing, and this Parliament an identity. My colleagues and I extend to his widow and to his family our deepest sympathy.
-I would like to associate myself with the condolence motion relating to the late Arthur Augustus Calwell, I was closely associated with him in this Parliament for the past 26 years. I first met him when he was a Minister in the Chifley Government. Arthur Calwell was the type of man that one comes across very rarely. He had an immense capacity for work: He applied himself diligently to every task that he undertook and with a determination that was inspiring. He had a capacity to give generously of his great gifts to his fellow men. He was a tough fighter for the causes in which he believed, yet outside the Parliament and in ordinary every day life he had a degree of generosity that was quite extraordinary.
I should like to place on record a tribute composed by Leslie Haylen. I believe it expresses what -we all think about Arthur Calwell. This tribute is entitled simply ‘Arthur’ and states:
When a man dies and his friends weep, That is life and death in their order, But when a man dies and his enemies weep, That is greatness crossing the border.
When a man dies and the dark cathedral Quivers to Bach, high mass and the singing of angels, Then is a great man rewarded For the sorrow, the rage and the anguish of the crusader.
When a man dies and his friends say He was a mate was Arthur’ Labor to the soul, a fighting chief To the men who will come after.
These are the tributes greater than The candles, the incense and the flowers. Mr Melbourne has gone to his rest Amid the wreaths and the bells in the tower.
But some night when the mist comes Up from the river And the burly wind beats in From the sea,
A footfall is heard in the streets of his city The shade of a comrade remembered, The sigh of a conscript he freed.
I think that was a beautiful tribute paid to the late Arthur Calwell by Leslie Haylen. I conclude my remarks by offering my deep personal and sincere sympathy to his widow and daughter and to his relatives who miss him so much.
-On behalf of the 3 Australian Labor Party senators from Victoria I want to add my regrets at the passing of my very long-time friend, Arthur Calwell. I think that the history books will record Arthur Calwell as being one of the greatest Australians. He displayed his very great courage in relation to his firm belief, and the belief that I and many others hold, that young Australians should not be conscripted to fight in the Vietnam war. He lived to see those conscripts withdrawn from the conflict and to see the end of the Vietnam war for
Australians. I can remember the great courage of this man in 1966 when all was lost for the Australian Labor Party because he stood on a principle. I was proud, as were many of us, to march with Arthur Calwell through the streets of Canberra, Melbourne and Sydney for the things in which he believed. He was a wonderful Australian who believed in putting before the Australian people the things that mattered as far as humans were concerned. I am sure that my colleagues from Victoria share my view that in Arthur Calwell we lost a great man of courage. The sympathy of the 3 Labor senators from Victoria goes to Mrs Calwell and Mary Elizabeth.
Senator TURNBULL ( Tasmania )I would like to add my support to the motion of condolence because Arthur Calwell was a great friend in both State and Federal politics. I rise to speak only because I feel that we should pause a moment to think about what would have happened if the few communist votes that went to the Liberal Party in the 1961 election had not been cast in that way. The Labor Party would have been in power and Arthur Calwell would have been Prime Minister. I believe that he would have been a great Prime Minister. It is regrettable in one respect, considering the catastrophic line of Prime Ministers we had after that time, that he was unfortunate in not gaining the Prime Ministership. However, I would like to add my personal condolences and support for the motion.
Question resolved in the affirmative, honourable senators standing in their places.
Honourable Sir Walter Jackson Cooper, M.B.E
– by leave- It is with deep regret that I inform the Senate of the death on 22 July last of the Honourable Sir Walter Jackson Cooper, M.B.E. I move:
The late Senator Sir Walter Cooper was, apart from Sir Robert Menzies, the longest serving Minister in any single portfolio in the history of the Australian Parliament. He served as Minister for Repatriation from 1949 until 1960 when he resigned. His military experience and knowledge fitted him well to that task. He established a relationship between the Department and this country’s servicemen and ex-servicemen that has aided the administration of the repatriation system.
A Queensland senator, Sir Walter was the Leader of the Senate Opposition, the Leader of the Australian Country Party and Country Party Whip from 1947 to 1949 in an unprecedented Opposition of only 3 senators.
I remember him- it was during the latter period of his service in this Parliament- as a kindly and generous man. He was a gentleman in every sense of the word. I think that he did a great deal to spread goodwill in the Senate. He was liked by everyone in the Senate. He put his political views with firmness but moderation and courtesy at all times. He was the kind of man whom it would be very difficult for anyone to fight. Nevertheless, he was one who fought not with people but for people in the administration of his Department. I think it was indicative of his whole approach to life that he was one who wanted to do a good job in his capacity as a senator. He wanted to do a good job as a Minister of the Crown, and he did so. The Australian public is indebted to him for what he did, and I think we all are the better for his presence among us. I ask the Senate to endorse the motion.
– The Liberal Party Opposition desires to be associated with the motion moved by the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Murphy). Sir Walter Cooper had a very long and distinguished career in this chamber. As the Leader of the Government has said, he was first elected to the Senate for Queensland as far back as 1928. Whilst defeated in 1931, he was re-elected in 1934 and then served continuously for 33 years, retiring in 1968. He was the Leader of the Opposition in this place from June 1947 to December 1949. In the latter years of the Chifley Government, Sir Walter had the onorous task of leading the Opposition in the Senate. As the Leader of the Government has said, at that time the Opposition consisted of 3 senators as against 33 Government senators. However, although the numbers were so heavily weighted against them, he and the other 2 senators of the Opposition were able to make up by effort and enthusiasm what they lacked in numbers. Legislation was criticised, and they worked constructively to have it amended where they thought that this was necessary.
I was first elected to this place as Sir Walter was going out. He had been here a very long time. I too have carried with me the memories of a kindly man. Whenever one thought that one was in need of the advice of someone who had been here for a long time, one could always go to Sir Walter not only to ask but to receive. We on this side of the chamber wish to extend our condolences to his relatives.
– My Country Party colleagues and I join with the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Murphy) and the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Withers) in expressing condolences. I think it would be unwise to say that any political identity in this country was beloved, but I believe that Sir Walter Jackson Cooper was extremely popular both inside and outside the Parliament. His association with ex-service organisations became widely known and respected and, I believe, led to the nicknames ‘Cabinet’s First Gentlemen’ and ‘the Diggers’ Friend’, 2 nicknames which became widely associated with Sir Walter Cooper.
Sir Walter Cooper was an Englishman who received his early education at a school in Leicester. He later attended the Leeds University. He then went to Queensland and became interested in the grazing industry, before joining the Australian Imperial Force in 19 IS. In 1916 he served in Gallipoli and later in France, where he was so badly wounded that his right leg had to be amputated above the knee. Twelve months later- to show the fighting spirit of this man- he joined the 30th Training Squadron of the Australian Flying Corps and later served in France and Germany. He was honoured with an M.B.E. for his services. He returned to Australia in 1920. He was finally discharged in 1921. He again entered the grazing industry before entering Parliament in 1928.
As has been already said, Wally Cooper was the longest serving senator in the history of my Party, his period of service being, according to my estimate, 37 years. He was Minister for Repatriation for a record term of 11 years. As the Leader of the Government in the Senate has said, during that time he was Leader of the Australian Country Party in the Senate. Prior to that he was Leader of the Opposition at a time when the Opposition was comprised of 3 senators, namely, Senator Cooper, Senator Annabelle Rankin and Senator Neil O’sullivan. Wally
Cooper was a very strong supporter of the Country Party, anyone who cares to enter the Country Party rooms in Parliament House at present will find 5 framed pictures hanging on the wall. Four of the pictures are of 4 leaders of the Country Party. The fifth is of Sir Walter Cooper. He is the only Country Party senator who has been honoured in such a way by his colleagues for his services to the Party. My colleagues and I extend our deepest sympathy to Lady Cooper and to the members of her family.
-The Australian Democratic Labor Party wishes to be associated with the motion of condolence which has been moved in relation to a former senator in this place, the late Senator Sir Walter Cooper. It was my personal pleasure and privilege to sit here when he was a senior Minister of the Government as Minister for Repatriation. The things which have been adverted to by previous speakers as being the things he did in his life are a very accurate reflection of the many facets of his character. He was a man of great personal courage. He was a man of deep sincerity. He was a man of very wide solicitude for those who lacked the things in life that he wanted all people to have. He was intensely loyal to his political convictions, which he presented at all times without bitterness and without rancour. For that and his other qualities he commanded, as he deserved, the respect, regard and, shall we say, the deep affection of all those who came to know him. He did have some strange but attractive qualities. He had a way of answering parliamentary questions in a most compendious manner, as some honourable senators who sit in this place will recall, which could occupy a great deal of question time. That sprang from his intense interest in the portfolio which he administered and in those about whom he was so concerned. I join with other honourable senators in supporting this motion. On behalf of the Democratic Labor Party and myself, I extend to Lady Cooper and the members of her family our very deep sympathy.
Question resolved in the affirmative, honourable senators standing in their places.
Mr D.R.R. Munro
– by leave- Mr President, Mr Dugald Munro served only one term in this Parliament of Australia, from 1966 to 1969. In that time he became widely admired as a man of charm and openness. The death of such a promising young family man at the age of 43 is saddening. The cir cumstances of his death were especially sad. I am sure that he would have rendered this country further service. His death was most untimely and his family deserves a very special place in our sympathies.
– We on this side of the chamber would like to be associated with the remarks of the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Murphy) because Dugald Munro, as the Liberal member for Eden-Monaro from 1966 to 1969, worked tirelessly for his electorate. A grazier, he was very active in trying to get a better deal for the country man. He believed strongly that politicians should be aware, from personal observations, of what was going on in the country. He believed that they should not be cloistered in an ivory tower, passing legislation on important issues without any personal experience of those matters. For that reason he was zealous in his belief that politicians should work hard inside and outside the House. His untimely and tragic death at the age of 43 years was a sad loss to the community.
– My Country Party colleagues and I want to be associated with the remarks of the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Murphy) and of the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Withers). We fully support the remarks and sentiments expressed by them. It was a tragedy that a man who had the potential to offer so much to this country should have had his life cut short in such a tragic way. We in the Country Party would like to extend our deepest sympathy to his widow and family.
– I am at a disadvantage inasmuch as it was not my privilege to have known the late gentleman. However my colleagues and I desire to be associated with the motion of condolence to his bereaved relatives.
-I wish to be associated with the remarks expressed in the Senate. I recall that in 1966 Mr Dugald Munro and I were elected to the House of Representatives. During those 3 years that I knew him I found him to be an exceptionally hard-working and worthy member of that House. It was regrettable that his services were not availed of in 1969. He was held always in extremely high regard by all of my colleagues in that place. I join with other speakers and add my condolences to his widow and family.
– I invite honourable senators to stand in silence as a mark of respect to the deceased. (Honourable senators having stood in their places)
-Thank you, senators.
– My question is addressed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. I ask: Was your raid on the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation the greatest mistake made by the Labor Government, as the Prime Minister has asserted?
-The Leader of the Opposition is refering to a television interview given by the Prime Minister. Unfortunately I did not see the interview but I have read about it in the Press and I have seen a transcript of it. The Prime Minister was entitled to his view and I understand that he expressed himself somewhat flippantly during that interview. The Leader of the Opposition has not referred to other remarks made by the Prime Minister about the necessity to take action and about what the Prime Minister himself would have done at the time. But may I say that I do not think that was a conspicious example of Cabinet solidarity. The Leader of the Opposition may well be aware that other persons and newspapers have expressed dissent from the opinion expressed by the Prime Minister.
-Has the AttorneyGeneral, as the responsible Minister, sought confirmation from the Director-General of Security as to whether a telex message was sent from Canberra on 28 March stating, among other things, that the Director-General saw the Prime Minister personally, gave him full details of the action of the police and told the Prime Minister that he regarded them as unprecedented, extraordinary and gravely damaging to the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation and to the national security interest? If he has, will he confirm that such a telex message was sent; and, if he has not, why has he failed to check the facts of a publicised matter of public interest?
– Of course I have spoken to the Director-General and of course I have spoken to the Prime Minister about the matter, I did on 1 6 March and also on the Sunday following that, I think it was. The Prime Minister stated in the House of Representatives that the DirectorGeneral had made no complaint at all to him about my visit to the headquarters of ASIO. The statement of the Prime Minister was correct. The honourable senator refers to a telex message. He refers to a document which was an internal document of ASIO. Let me say that, whatever might have been said in the Senate about damage to the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation, the advice to me is- I accept itthat the most damaging thing that has occurred to the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation is the leaking out of an internal document of that Organisation. That is a most serious occurrence for any security intelligence organisation. It is viewed most seriously. It is of no credit to any honourable senator or member of the Parliament- and one has been referred to- to be party to the leaking out of such a secret internal document of the Organisation. If the honourable senator and those who are associated with him are intent on damaging the national security of Australia, they are going about it in the best way that they could find to do so.
– I rise on a point of order, Mr President. My point of order is that I asked a question and I have not been given an answer. Contrary to the provisions of the Standing Orders, I have been subjected not to an answer but to innuendo which is quite unjustified and unwarranted. I rise to ask whether, when I ask a question, I have the right to have an answer given, or must I seek your permission to ask a supplementary question and thereby repeat the question I asked which has not been answered?
- Senator Greenwood, you are entitled to ask a supplementary question in accordance with rulings that I have given. If you feel that you have not been answered fully, I accord you the right to ask a supplementary question.
– I ask the AttorneyGeneral: Has he checked to ascertain whether there was a telex message as has been reported; and, if he has not checked, will he explain why he has not?
– The answer is easy: Of course I have checked.
– Is the AttorneyGeneral aware that the daily Hansard of the proceedings of the Senate committee investigating the civil rights of migrants and his raids on the offices of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation has not been published since the hearing on 19 July? Has the Attorney-General, the Prime Minister or any other Minister of the Government given any directions to Hansard or the Government Printer which have delayed the printing of this Hansard report? If so, what directions have been given? Is the Attorney-General making inquiries as to why there is a delay in the printing of the proceedings of this important committee?
– Leaving aside the argumentative portions of the honourable senator’s question and dealing with the Hansard report of the committee he mentioned, no, I am not a ware of the problem at all. I did not know it existed, and I do not know that it is a matter within my province. Certainly no request has come to my knowledge for any expedition of the Hansard report. I see that the Chairman of the Committee also shakes his head. I was not aware that there was any problem. Senator Douglas McClelland, the Minister for the Media, has indicated that there has been some change in the machinery which the Government Printer uses, and may be the reason for the delay.
– I ask a question of the Minister representing the Prime Minister. Will the Prime Minister take action to revise his Cabinet’s decision on the recommendations in the Karmel report for exclusion of more than 100 schools from the per capita payments which were previously paid? I ask the Prime Minister to do so because a tape recording of his speech at Melbourne’s Festival Hall on 2 May 1972- the tape recording can be made available to him- reveals that he said that if elected ‘we will not repeal or reduce any educational benefit which is already being paid. We will confirm any which are there already. ‘ Does the Prime Minister regard himself as bound by election pledges?
-The decision that has been made and announced is a Cabinet decision. The remarks which the honourable senator has made will be transmitted to the Prime Minister. I do not accept the correctness of the honourable senator’s statements, and certainly I do not accept the interpretation that he is placing upon the remarks. Nevertheless, what the honourable senator has said and his suggestions will be passed on to the Prime Minister for the consideration that they deserve.
– My question is directed to the Attorney-General. Is it a fact that the serious allegations about corruption, crime and Mafia influence in the club industry in New South Wales were brought to the attention of the New South Wales Police Department by the Commonwealth Police in 1972? In view of the public interest in this matter, will the Minister agree to table these documents in the Senate or, alternatively, to make the reports available to the appropriate Senate committee which is headed, at the moment, by Senator McAuliffe?
– I am not certain enough to be able to give precise details in answer to the earlier part of the honourable senator’s question, but certainly as to the latter part, relating to making available to any appropriate authority information which is available from the Commonwealth Police, yes, that will be done.
– I ask a question of the Minister for Primary Industry. In view of the concern over the future of Australia’s limited tropical and temperate forest resources, will the Minister say what investigations have been carried out by his Department or the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation into the economic and environmental implications of both current and projected wood chip contracts?
-Since the present Government assumed office it has decided that there will be no major projects of the nature referred to by Senator Townley without an environmental impact study being done on such projects. This is a requirement which is being sought by the Government in relation to all wood chip projects. Although at this stage the Government has no plan in mind in relation to the utilisation of forests, every possible step is being taken to ensure that the environmental aspects of wood chip projects are given proper consideration. No projects are being allowed to proceed until such time as those environmental impact statements have been presented to me.
– I ask the Attorney-General whether he can confirm or deny the report appearing in the Adelaide edition of the ‘Australian’ newspaper this morning to the effect that he has instructed that the Special Branch of the
Northern Territory Police be disbanded forthwith? Will he also confirm or deny the claim made in the same newspaper that the Special Branch of the Australian Capital Territory Police also is under a cloud, as the newspaper put it? Is it a fact that the order to close down the Northern Territory Special Branch was received by the Northern Territory Police on Thursday night or Friday morning and that the police were given until 5 p.m. on Friday to disband the Branch and to destroy its records? If the Minister gave no such order will he investigate whether an official under his authority gave such an order?
– The answer to the first part of the question, that is as to whether I instructed that the Special Branch of the Northern Territory Police be discontinued, is yes. It may help a little with the answer to the third part of the question if I indicate that that instruction was given by me to the Commissioner of the Northern Territory Police when I was in Darwin, I think some 10 days ago. I shall explain why this was done. There had been some complaint about the activities of the Special Branch and it was -
– Did the Minister say complaint’?
-Yes. There had been some complaint and as a result of that complaint I got a report. Following that I asked for information as to the history of the Special Branch. I found that the Special Branch of the Northern Territory Police had commenced in 1952. It was a small branch. Its charter, which was set out then and which has not been departed from, sets out the duties of the Branch. I have it here. The duties include covering such matters as communism, subversive activity, espionage and sabotage, vetting reports on persons who are liable to be security risks, dossiers kept and maintained on communists and suspects, advice and assistance to the local defence planning committee and a number of matters about aliens and so on. There are some matters relating to subversive elements, surveillance of public bodies for communist influence and also of industrial organisations, assisting the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation in obtaining information where its powers are limited and where a police officer could obtain the required information in the normal execution of his duties, assisting other Government departments to organise a security system of documents etc., and reporting on all matters where political and industrial troubles are likely to arise. It seemed to me that although there were functions in the charter which were quite legitimate there were other functions which amounted to a general political surveillance and which were incompatible with the democratic process.
I instructed that the Branch, which I think consisted of only 2 persons, be discontinued forthwith and that the officers be transferred to legitimate law enforcement work, including such of those activities that I read out which were legitimate law enforcement activities. The officers in question have been transferred to plain clothes work and their investigations will be confined to law enforcement or criminal matters. Officers have been designated to handle the legitimate work connected with aliens, migration inquiries and so on. I am informed that the Australian Capital Territory Special Branch has no charter in writing but that it is involved in an entirely different kind of activity. Information which I have received only very recently suggests that that kind of political surveillance is not included in its activities. Therefore, there does not seem to be reason for action, which I would think would be generally accepted as proper, to ensure that there is not an engagement by police in surveillance of public or, for that matter, private affairs for political and industrial purposes. On the question of notice, I do not know whether information was communicated only in the last day or so. I doubt whether that is so, but I do not know exactly when the communication was made to the officers concerned.
– I call Senator Primmer, but before he asks his question I would like to say to him that most honourable senators will share my pleasure at seeing him restored to health and back in this place in the Senate.
-Thank you, Mr President. I ask the Minister for Primary Industry: Have large stock and station firms in Victoria bought up all available quantities of exotic breed beef semen to the exclusion of co-operative and other private artificial breeding centres? Are these large firms charging exorbitant prices for such semen?
– I have no knowledge of the matter referred to by Senator Primmer, but I shall certainly make inquiries and obtain an answer for him.
– I ask the AttorneyGeneral whether Mr Barbour was the author and /or originator of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation telex message of 28 March?
– A message was sent by Mr Barbour, the Director-General of Security. By that answer I am not confirming the accuracy or otherwise of the various versions which have been published in the Press of a message which, if what has been stated publicly is correct, apparently has been wrongfully in the hands of some member or members of Parliament.
-I ask the AttorneyGeneral whether he contemplates any action to prevent a repetition of the ordeal imposed upon Mrs Weber, whose child was abducted to Austria, to ensure that an Australian court ruling in respect of child custody remains of paramount importance?
-This is a very important matter and is becoming more important because of the easing of restrictions upon travel. This means that persons can pass more easily from one country to another without visas and sometimes without passports. There have been a number of cases which have been distressing because of the parting of parents and children in defiance of court orders made either here or overseas. It is evident that there ought to be legislation to deal with this problem. It probably needs something of the nature of the extradition agreements in the sense of an international agreement reinforced by legislation of various countries which undertake to return persons or to deal with them in a way that will prevent orders of competent courts being defied by persons being taken out of the jurisdiction of the court making the order. The honourable senator asked what should be done. The solution to the problem is not easy to find. In other areas there have been such problems and I have no doubt it may take some time to work out a solution to this one. But we should be setting about it and I have instructed that some endeavour be made to solve a problem which is becoming more frequent and more critical.
– I direct my question to the Special Minister of State. It relates to the recent Chinese nuclear blast. What were the terms of the Australian protest to China? Has a reply to the protest been received and, if so, what were the terms of the reply?
-I do not know the exact wording. I will find out and advise the honourable senator.
– My question is directed to the Minister for the Media. Can the Minister inform the Senate what action the Government has taken on the question of frequency modulation radio broadcasts since he tabled a position paper on this subject in the Senate on 6 June last? Does he accept the Australian Broadcasting Control Board’s recommendations on the establishment of FM radio in the ultra high frequency band, which is a band not used by other countries for FM services?
Senator DOUGLAS McCLELLANDDuring the parliamentary recess I had an opportunity to look more closely into this matter and to discuss it with officers of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board and of course with officers of my Department. I have also taken the liberty of having discussions with both the Prime Minister and the Treasurer about the question. I can tell the honourable senator, and I tell the Senate now, that I am in the course of preparing a submission to Cabinet for Cabinet to resolve this issue of the very high frequency or ultra high frequency band as soon as possible. As this Cabinet submission is being prepared I would hope that the honourable senator would understand if I do not take this opportunity to outline my personal views on the subject. I feel I am obliged to withhold any statement of these views until Cabinet has discussed the matter. However, I would point out that on this subject I have endeavoured to the utmost of my ability to keep the Parliament as fully informed as possible on the developments that have been taking place. As the honourable senator reminded the Senate, I tabled a position paper on the subject as recently as 6 June last. Honourable senators may be aware that during the parliamentary recess I asked the Australian Broadcasting Control Board to arrange a seminar on frequency allocation for members of the House of Representatives and the Senate. A number of senators and members attended. Unfortunately it was a comparatively small number. However, I congratulate the Board for having convened an excellent seminar, and I am delighted to know that a member of the Senate Standing Committee on Education, Science and the Arts, which is inquiring into all aspects of television and broadcasting, was in attendance at that seminar.
– I direct a question to the Attorney-General. As the Prime Minister has indicated by clear statement that although Mr Barbour is the head of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation he does not appear to be in control of it, will the Attorney-General explain and justify his action in allowing what the Prime Minister considers an apparently incompetent person to remain in charge of Australia’s national security organisation?
-I do not accept the statement that was made by the honourable senator as the premise to his question. I know that some remarks were made by the Prime Minister on a television show. I spoke earlier about the nature of those remarks. The holding of such an office as the Director-General of Security is a very serious matter. Any question as to the holding of that office would be dealt with by me in the manner in which it ought to be dealt with. I have said before in the Senate chamber that I would not be drawn into criticism of the Director-General of Security by questions such as that. If I choose to make any criticisms of him, I will make them in my own good time. The same applies to any other officer in the areas within my ministerial responsibility. I do not think that it is appropriate for any response further than that to the honourable senator’s question.
-Can the Minister for the Media say whether arrangements are being made between SAS 10 in Adelaide and the South Australian Film Corporation to telecast educational films between midnight and 7 a.m. in order that schools in South Australia can record on their videotape recorders these types of programs? Has any approach been made to the Minister or to the Australian Broadcasting Control Board to approve this type of arrangement? Will the Minister consider encouraging a greater use of television transmission for educational purposes?
– I can tell the honourable senator that a program of televised educational films, tentatively to be titled ‘The Midnight Oil’, will be transmitted in the very near future in Adelaide from television station SAS 10, on 2 nights a week, for the purpose of recording in schools. Following an approach that was made to me by the South Australian Film Corporation, and I having referred that approach to the Australian Broadcasting Control Board, the Board has now approved a variation in the transmission hours of SAS 10 which, of course, was a prerequisite to the new arrangements being made. The South Australian Film Corporation, in conjunction with the television station in question, will begin telecasting 4 hours of educational films 2 nights a week as from next month, September. To assist the distribution of educational films to schools and to other learning institutions, SAS 10 also will telecast films between midnight and 7 a.m. so that schools equipped with the necessary facilities can record the programs on their videotape recorders that are fitted with time switches. The program will be broadcast between midnight and 7 a.m. and by the use of a time switch the videotape will be turned on and thus record the program which will be available the next day for the children at school. I am told that there are already about 200 video recorders in schools in the Adelaide area. By the use of this simple and comparatively inexpensive process the tremendous demand for multiple prints of educational films could be overcome. I understand that the South Australian Film Corporation intends spending about $130,000 of its own educational film production funds in the next financial year. This is a tremendous step forward so far as commercial television is concerned, and I congratulate those who have taken part in the venture.
– I do not know whether to ask this question of the Leader of the Government in the Senate, the Minister assisting the Prime Minister, the Minister representing the Treasurer or the Minister for the Media, but it is this: Is it not a fact that the Australian Broadcasting Commission will be broadcasting the Treasurer’s Budget Speech this evening? Is it a fact that the commercial broadcasting stations are not permitted to comment on the Treasurer’s Speech until the conclusion of the Speech? If this is so, why is there discrimination in favour of the ABC and against the private broadcasting companies?
– Order! The Special Minister of State is responsible for the introduction of the Budget Papers in the Senate, and the rules relating to the Budget must come from the Special Minister of State.
– The state of play, as far as I know it, is that the Budget Speech tonight is expected to be a little longer than usual. I understand that in the past there have been difficulties about permitting broadcasts before the
Parliament itself had been informed of the contents of the Budget. I was talking to Mr Crean about this matter this morning or yesterday afternoon- I am not sure which- and he told me that an effort had been made to agree with the media about a time limit to be put on broadcasts -somewhere about 9.20 p.m., I thought it was. I was watching a television show one night recently, and that was the time which that channel selected. It would give a broadcast on the Budget at that time- 9.20 p.m. I think the time limit has been relaxed to the point that if something newsworthy is mentioned in the opening sentence that can be handled. A note from my friend the Minister for the Media states that anything said before 9 p.m. can be used on the 9 p.m. news. I understand that there is no discrimination, that the media has been dealt with as the media in toto.
-Can the Minister for Primary Industry inform the Senate whether he has yet made a recommendation to the Government on possible reforms in wool marketing arrangements? If not, is the Minister still of the opinion that he can make no firm recommendations until the report of the Australian Wool Corporation on wool marketing is received? If so, when might this report become available?
-I have really nothing further to report to the Senate than what I was able to say before the end of the previous sitting. The Australian Wool Corporation is still preparing for me a detailed report on the whole question of wool marketing in Australia. As I have indicated here in the past, I have not been pressing the Corporation for the report because I want it to be a completely documented report. I do not anticipate receiving it until possibly the end of next month or maybe the middle of the monthSeptember. I have certainly made no recommendations to the Government at this stage as to the course of action which should be followed.
-I direct a question to the Attorney-General. He has referred to an internal document of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation-a telex-and he has said that it was sent by Mr Barbour. I ask him: Was the date of its transmission 28 March? Did it originate from the ASIO office in Canberra or in Melbourne? What were its terms?
-I do not propose to answer that question.
-Can the Minister for Primary Industry advise the Senate of the progress which has been made in devising a new wheat stabilisation plan?
– As I indicated to the Senate during the previous sitting of the Parliament, there will be a complete relook at the whole question of wheat stabilisation. My Department has received many suggestions and submissions from various sections of the industry on what this plan should be. A great deal of work has been done on it. I do not anticipate having anything further before the middle of next month. No firm decision has been taken on the matter. One will not be taken until such time as I receive a report on it.
– I wish to direct a question to the Attorney-General in regard to the Senate ‘s Croatian inquiry.
– It is not a Croatian inquiry. If is an inquiry by the Senate Select Committee on the Civil Rights of Migrant Australians.
– I accept the soft rebuke. I ask the Attorney-General: Is it or is it not a fact that the private medical records of members of the armed services are supposed, as a matter of practice as distinct from law, to be private and confidential? If so, can he explain how the Naval medical or psychiatric record of a witness before the Senate Select Committee on the Civil Rights of Migrant Australians, one Les Shaw, came to be in the possession of Senator James McClelland who is a member of the Committee? Can the Attorney-General say whether such Naval medical record was supplied on subpoena or how it was obtained? If it was obtained lawfully, can he say why it was not disclosed to all members of the Committee ? Can the AttorneyGeneral say whether in future all servicemen must expect to have their private medical records made public at any time it suits the present Government
– It is not possible for me to answer all of the question that the honourable senator has put. But, as to the final part of his question as to whether any ex-serviceman or serviceman could expect to have his medical records made public at any time at all, the answer is no.
-Can the Attorney-General inform the Senate of the progress being made in implementing the announced proposals to establish a viable legal aid service throughout the country? What role will existing legal aid and legal advice services play in this national plan to remove the price tag from justice?
– The best way is not to charge any fees yourself.
-Thank you, Senator Wright. Can the Attorney-General outline the contribution he envisages being made by salaried lawyers and private legal practitioners in the scheme?
– The Government will be making available this year, through the States, some $2m. It is to be made available on terms to be approved. I imagine that the position will differ from State to State but that largely the money will be used to supplement the existing legal aid scheme of the States. In addition, an Aboriginal legal aid scheme has been introduced, mostly in association with voluntary bodies. There has been a large participation by Aborigines. It is a wide scheme, extending to legal advice, representation in court and assistance in non-contentious legal matters. It has drawn upon the success story of the largely voluntary Aboriginal legal service in Redfern, New South Wales.
Steps have been taken to establish an office of legal aid in all State capitals and in Canberra and Darwin. It is intended to open other offices in such centres as Newcastle, Wollongong, Geelong, Townsville and Alice Springs. The office will give free legal advice on matters of federal law, including the Matrimonial Causes Act, to everyone in need and on matters of both federal and State law to persons for whom the Australian Government has a special responsibility, such as pensioners, Aborigines, exservicemen and migrants. I have also established an expert committee to examine all aspects of legal aid in Australia, including areas of need, methods of providing and financing legal aid and the supervision of expenditure. It is expected that this committee will come up with some of the answers to the question of how the salaried office, which obviously will be necessary if the scheme is to be financially workable, will operate together with the provision of aid through the law societies or private practitioners, which is of course also extremely desirable in the public interest. I hope that that committee will be able to give its report fairly quickly. It comprises not only persons well versed in legal aid administration but also representatives to the Law Society and Professor Wootten who was instrumental in the outstanding success of the administration of the Aboriginal legal service.
– I ask the Attorney-General: When did the existence of the telex of the DirectorGeneral of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation first come to the AttorneyGeneral’s attention? He has already acknowledged knowledge of the existence of the telex to which I refer. Were the contents of that telex an accurate statement of fact? If not, did the Attorney-General take any steps to correct the mis-statement contained in the telex?
-I cannot recall with exactitude the first part of the question and I do not intend to answer the other parts.
-Can the Attorn y-General give the Senate details of recent decisions by the National Literature Board of Review which removed most of the publications remaining on the prohibited import list? Can he also tell the Senate what progress is being made with his promise earlier this year to review existing laws relating to postal services to ensure protection for people, and those in their care, who do not wish to be exposed to unsolicited material that they consider to be offensive.
-The National Literature Board of Review, at my request several weeks ago, made a special review of publications which were considered to be of literary merit. As a result of that review I think that some 1 9 additional publications came off the list. Others are being further considered by the Board. This does not put an end to the problem because there are a lot of other publications which hitherto have been deemed to be not of literary merit. The Board has had a look at these in order to give some assistance on how they should be treated. It did seem to me- I did confer with members of the Board- that it probably would not cause a ripple if all the works considered to be of literary merit were removed from the list. Indeed I suppose that the only excitement occurs when an announcement is made about a work, and that probably helps to increase the sales of publications which were on the list. Earlier in the year some other titles were removed from the list.
This is in conformity with the policy of the Government that in general adults should be entitled to read, hear and view what they wish in private or in public.
The other aspect of the policy to which the honourable senator referred is one which is presently the subject of a Cabinet submission by one of my colleagues. I also am concerned to ensure the necessary corollary of the freedom to read, namely the freedom not to be exposed to material if you do not want to be exposed to it. That applies also to people in your care.
– I direct my question to the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration and refer to an announcement of the proposed immigrant intake of 1 10,000 for the ensuing year. Will the Minister confirm the details of this announcement and let the Senate have additional information of immediate relevance? Is the Minister aware that there is a grave shortage of personnel in many industries and areas of employment in Australia, particularly in such basic areas as home building and the steel industry, and that there are many other problems arising therefrom which are contributing gravely to the Australian inflation situation? If the Minister is aware of these things, will the Government review the immigrant intake and seek out additional appropriate settlers who possess the skills which we urgently need?
-The current migration program of the Government for this financial year was arrived at after consideration of the state of the economy and the demands for labour in Australia. The policy was formulated also against the background that migrants coming to Australia these days do not see themselves as industrial fodder but come with high aspirations which touch not only on employment but also on housing, education and public services generally. It was recognised by the Minister for Immigration that one factor that had to be taken into account was the serious wastage of migrants which had occurred in the past. I understand it has been established by the Immigration Advisory Council that over the past 5 years there was a 2.25 per cent loss of people who had come here and who, for whatever reason, had decided to return to their original homelands. It was established also that this number was increasing dramatically and therefore the whole program was in jeopardy as a result. Therefore this year’s program was arrived at in recognition of the fact that we not only had to attract people to Australia but also had to ensure that the people who had come here and who intended coming here in fact would stay. This was one of the principal factors that were involved in planning the program.
Another very pertinent factor which seems to have been overlooked by many industry spokesmen is the availability of migrants. As has been pointed out by my colleague the Minister for Immigration, people are not available to be ordered around like shock troops at the drop of an order, and availability of migrants is a very real consideration. My colleague the Minister for Immigration has assured me that the present program is a flexible one and that it will be subject to review. But the program was arrived at against a consideration of all the factors that I have mentioned, and the Minister assures me that he and his Department regard it as being realistic in its expectations.
– Can the AttorneyGeneral confirm recent reports to the effect that the Government intends introducing during this session legislation outlawing discrimination against Aborigines? Can he inform the Senate whether this legislation is aimed at implementing the provisions of the International Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination which was never done by this Government ‘s predecessors?
-The answer to the honourable senator’s question is yes. It is intended to implement the provisions of the International Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination, and legislation has been prepared to do this. There may be some problems still to be overcome. It is far reaching legislation which I am sure will be welcomed by all in this country and especially by the Aborigines and the migrants. I hope it will put paid to the kind of discrimination which is still able to be exercised in this community and which should not be tolerated.
– Does the Leader of the Government in the Senate agree with the forecast contained in the leading article in Mr Rupert Murdoch’s newspaper the ‘Australian ‘of 20 August which stated that it may be proved that the Labor Government’s biggest blunder since coming into office was the recent television appearance of the Prime Minister when he was interviewed by Mr Frost?
-That question is only calculated to cause mischief and I do not propose to answer it.
-No doubt the Minister for Primary Industry is aware of the grave concern expressed by potato growers in Australia at the likelihood of imports of disease affected potatoes from New Zealand. While appreciating the likelihood of a shortage of potatoes in Australia due to seasonal conditions, can the Minister assure the Senate that no potatoes will be allowed to enter Australia unless the most stringent quarantine requirements are met.
– The Australian Government, like its predecessor, is keeping a very close watch on the importation of potatoes into Australia from New Zealand. They have been permitted to enter Australia only for processing. The current market situation is such that serious consideration must be given to importing potatoes for processing into potato chips. It is my understanding that an officer of the Victorian Department of Agriculture recently visited New Zealand to report on the disease position in that country and the likelihood of any potatoes coming from diseased areas in New Zealand. He has since reported to my Department. I am satisfied from the report given to me that we have no need for concern whatsoever; that every precaution will be taken on the importation of these potatoes, and that the firms which probably will be involved are mindful of their responsibilities to observe the conditions that have been laid down.
-Can the Minister representing the Minister for Supply advise me, firstly, when it is expected that the first Australian designed Nomad aircraft will be delivered and, secondly, what proportion of the total work load of the Government Aircraft Factories is at present devoted to Nomad production?
-I think the honourable senator knows that the Government recently approved of the second batch of 50 Nomads. The first aircraft is expected to be completed at the factory at the end of March 1974. At about the end of March 1975 the aircraft will be produced at the rate of about four a month. As the honourable senator knows, an organisation has been set up as the international distributors for the aircraft. We are very hopeful that the aircraft, which is an outstanding aircraft, will be purchased by people other than those who now have options. A great deal of interest is being shown in the aircraft, and perhaps I should say that to some extent the former Minister, Sir Kenneth Anderson, would be as pleased as I am with the performance of the aircraft and the interest that is now being shown in it. We hope that we will get to the stage where we will receive orders not just for 70 aircraft but for something like 200 aircraft.
– Will the Minister Assisting the Minister for Defence inform the Senate what cuts have been made to flying training hours for the Royal Australian Air Force and, in particular, which units are to be affected?
– The honourable senator probably already knows, because there has been a public statement to this effect, that the Minister for Defence will be making report on Wednesday night, following the presentation of the Budget statements, and it would be inappropriate for me to give the honourable senator details that he is now seeking. They will be more fully explained then, and I hope that when they are given the honourable senator will understand the situation.
– I address to the Attorney-General a question following the questions relating to telex messages. In order to clear up some of the confusion surrounding this situation, I ask the Attorney-General whether he can give to the Senate any further information concerning the visit of Mr Barbour to the Prime Minister in March.
-The honourable senator asks me whether there is any further information that I could give. The answer to that is yes. I would seek now to table a copy of a letter of 20 August 1973 which was sent by me to the Prime Minister, enclosing a copy of a letter of 20 August 1973 to me from the Director-General of Security. That may not meet all that the honourable senator requests. He asks what information I could give. I tell him that of course there is information other than this which I could give. I feel that at this stage it is proper to table this document which is, as I have indicated, a letter from me simply enclosing and declassifying a letter which was sent to me from the DirectorGeneral of Security. I table the document.
– I ask the AttorneyGeneral whether he is aware that a Mr D. Marshall spoke from his office to a newspaper reporter last week and said that he, the said Marshall, was on Senator Murphy’s staff, having been seconded from the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation in March or April? Has the Attorney-General checked with Mr Marshall as to the accuracy of what Mr Marshall is reported to have said to the Press?
– The honourable senator asks me about Mr Marshall. I tell the honourable senator that I heard part of what he said on television.
– That is not what I am asking. Will the Attorney-General answer the question and not debate the matter?
– I choose to inform the Senate that the answer to which the honourable senator referred and which I gave in May was exactly correct. Mr Marshall has not been appointed to my personal staff. Mr Marshall- if the honourable senator was referring to Mr Marshall in the question which was placed on notice by him I think on 1 1 April- is not a junior officer.
- Mr President, I raise a point of order.
– What is the point of order?
– The point of order is that I asked a question and I have not been given an answer to that question. I have been given a long monologue on matters about which Senator Murphy wants to give his account. I have not been given any response whatsoever to the simple question which I asked him. The only question I asked him was whether Senator Murphy had checked with Mr Marshall. That would have permitted of a simple answer but instead once more by innuendo I am being attacked person.aly. I submit that this is not in accordance with Standing Orders and that, with respect, I am entitled to protection from you, Mr President, in the application of the Standing Orders.
– Order! I am not going to be instructed on this. This is not a court of law. I am not here to force Ministers to answer questions in accordance with what the questioner requires from them. Senator Murphy had not finished answering the question in his own way when you took the point of order. I now call Senator Murphy to answer the question.
– The Attorney-General is not answering the question.
- Senator Greenwood, there are other means open to you to deal with that.
– The answer which I gave to the Senate before was perfectly correct. Mr Marshall has not been appointed to my personal staff. A most casual inquiry of the AttorneyGeneral’s Department would have confirmed the accuracy of the reply given by me. In any event, the reference in the question to a junior officer is not appropriate. Mr Marshall is a comparatively senior officer with some 16 years service in the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation. He is held in the highest regard by those in that organisation.
– I rise on a point of order.
– What is the point of order?
– The purported answer which is being given does not respond to the question which I asked. Question time is primarily for honourable senators to seek information. If it is to be used by Ministers as an opportunity for them to say what they wish to say about any subject under the sun then the rights of honourable senators to ask questions are abused. Of course, I say again that the Standing Orders are not being observed.
– I have no capacity to force a Minister to answer a question in a way other than the way in which he chooses to answer it.
– I rise to order. I submit that you are obliged by the Standing Orders to require a Minister to answer on a subject matter of the question. He may answer in his own way and according to his responsibility, but it is for this Senate through you, the Presiding Officer, to oblige him to make his answer responsive to the subject matter of the question.
– I indicated earlier today that if a questioner seeking information is not satisfied with the answer he gets I will extend to him the opportunity to ask a supplementary question. I cannot force any Minister to answer a question other than in the manner he chooses.
-I have checked with Mr Marshall and have found, as was stated to the Senate, that Mr Marshall at no time was appointed by me to my personal staff. By arrangement with the Director-General of Security he has been acting as liaison officer to me for the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation. He has been employed at all times by the DirectorGeneral pursuant to section 7 of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation Act 1956. He is an officer of considerable qualification and experience and has been invaluable to the Organisation. It is regrettable that in the way in which affairs are conducted in this Senate an honourable senator should go on television and say the things which were said. If that honourable senator had proper regard for the dignity of the Senate he would apologise.
– This is answering the question, is it?
- Senator Greenwood, if you are not satisfied I accord to you the opportunity to ask a supplementary question.
-I ask the substance of the question which I asked originally. Did the Attorney-General check with Mr Marshall to ascertain whether what Mr Marshall is reported by a newspaper to have said to a reporter was said by Mr Marshall to that reporter.
-I have spoken to Mr Marshall and find that what was stated by the honourable senator and what appeared in the various reports which I have read is not accurate. I have read fanciful statements, including the statement that Mr Marshall had been employed by me for some 8 years on my personal staff. My checking has served to indicate that it would be better if information of this kind were sought in the proper manner rather than assumptions being made and apparently left without apology.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Primary Industry. Is it a fact that at the recent meeting of the International Whaling Commission in London the Australian delegation voted in favour of a moratorium on all commercial whaling. Is Australia continuing whaling from a shore station at Albany in Western Australia? Is the reported statement of the Minister correct that there would be a detailed examination of the implications of closing this last remaining station? If so, what has the examination revealed?
– It is true that the Australian delegation to the International Whaling Commission voted in favour of the United States resolution for a moratorium on all whaling. The resolution was defeated. The Cheynes Beach Whaling Co. Ltd is still operating at Albany, Western Australia. I have asked for a report to be prepared for me on the consequences of the closure of that base. The report is now in the process of being prepared. This is not done with the intention of closing the base. The whaling industry will continue until such time as any alternative decision is made by the Government. It might be some weeks before a report on the effect of the closure becomes available to me.
-My question is directed to the Attorney-General. Having listened to a rebuke to one of my colleagues in the last few minutes as to the using of information obtained by improper means, I ask the Attorney-General to recognise this request as the proper means of obtaining information. Will he table in the Senate the telex message that was referred to in previous questions today as emanating from Mr Barbour of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation?
-I understand the approach which the honourable senator is making. I have discussed this matter with the Prime Minister and I am unable to accede to the honourable senator’s request.
-Mr President, more than an hour has elapsed since question time began and I ask that further questions be placed on the notice paper.
-I ask for leave to have incorporated in Hansard the letter and the enclosure that I tabled in the Senate during question time.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The document read as follows)- 20 August 1973.
My dear Prime Minister,
I enclose a copy or a letter I have received today from the Director-General of Security, which has been de-classified by me.
Yours sincerely, LIONEL MURPHY
The Honourable E. G. Whitlam, Q.C., M.P., Prime Minister, Parliament House, Canberra. A.C.T. 2600
AUSTRALIAN SECURITY INTELLIGENCE ORGANISATION
BOX 5105 BB.G.P.O. MELBOURNE VICTORIA 3001
20 August 1973
Certain newspapers have published what purports to be the text of a telex message sent to ASIO staff.
Yours sincerely P. BARBOUR
Senator the Honourable Lionel Murphy, Q.C. Attorney-General, Parliament House, Canberra, ACT.
– For the information of honourable senators I lay on the table of the Senate the report of the Designs Law Review Committee relating to utility models.
– For the information of honourable senators I lay on the table of the Senate a statement by the Special Minister of State relating to a visit to Africa in June and July 1973.
– Pursuant to Section 28 (3) of the Broadcasting and Television Act 1942-1973 I present the report and financial statement of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board for the year ended 30 June 1973, together with the report of the AuditorGeneral as to those statements. Honourable senators will appreciate that this is the first annual report for the last financial year that has been presented in the Parliament and I congratulate the Board on its expedition.
-I have received from His Excellency the Governor-General a letter of thanks for the expression of sympathy of the Senate on the occasion of the death of Their Excellencies’ son.
Assent to the following Bills reported:
Superannuation Bill 1973.
Parliamentary and Judicial Retiring Allowances Bill 1973.
Social Services Bill (No. 3) 1973.
National Health Bill 1973.
Broadcasting and Television Bill 1 973.
Income Tax Assessment Bill 1973.
Income Tax Assessment Bill (No. 2) 1973.
Australian Institute of Marine Science Bill 1973.
International Labour Organisation Bill 1973.
Wool Industry Bill 1973.
Wool Tax Bill (No. 1)1973.
Wool Tax Bill (No. 2) 1973.
Wool Tax Bill (No. 3) 1973.
Wool Tax Bill (No. 4) 1973.
Wool Tax Bill (No. 5) 1973.
Papua New Guinea Bill 1973.
Papua New Guinea (Staffing Assistance) Bill 1973.
Public Service Bill (No. 2) 1973.
Maternity Leave (Australian Government Employees) Bill 1973.
Public Service Bill(No. 3) 1973.
Snowy Mountains Engineering Corporation Bill 1973.
Grants Commission Bill 1973.
Stevedoring Industry Charge Bill 1973.
Stevedoring Industry (Temporary Provisions) Bill 1 973.
Agricultural Tractors Bounty Bill 1973.
Customs Tariff Validation Bill 1973.
States Grants (Technical Training) Bill 1973.
Income Tax Assessment Bill ( No. 3 ) 1 973.
National Service Termination Bill 1 973.
SupplyBill (No. 1) 1973-74.
Supply Bill (No. 2) 1973-74.
King Island Harbour Agreement Bill 1 973.
South Australia Grant (Lock to Kimba Pipeline) Bill 1 973.
Insurance Bill 1973.
Insurance (Deposits) Bill 1973.
Life Insurance Bill 1973.
Acts Interpretation Bill 1973.
Evidence Bill 1973.
Defence Force Retirement and Death Benefits Bill 1973. Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Bill 1973. Superannuation Bill (No. 2) 1973. Defence (Parliamentary Candidates) Bill 1973. Defence Forces Retirement Benefits (Pension Increases) Bill 1973.
Defence Force (Papua New Guinea) Retirement Benefits
Bill 1973. Australian Electoral Office Bill 1 973.
– There are also 2 additional matters of interest to the Senate. The first is in the context of Hansard. I take this immediate opportunity of announcing to honourable senators that the Hansard which they will receive tomorrow will be of a different format from that to which they have become accustomed. I have approved a change, namely, that the names of honourable senators will be on the first 2 pages of the report instead of being at the back of the report as was previously the case. This is caused by technical requirements of the new machine at the Government Printing Office. Some improvements have been made to the format of the daily and weekly issues including the publication of the date on each page, as Senator Negus has been advocating, whilst the names of honourable senators and the index which have appeared on the back of the publication will be placed after the Ministry at the front of it. The design of the front page of the daily and weekly issues has also been given a new look, in keeping with the changes in technology. I hope that the changes will commend themselves to honourable senators.
– I have received a letter from the Right Honourable B. M. Snedden which introduces a new note into the Parliament. During a period of Opposition by the present Government, the system of having a shadow Ministry was evolved. Apparently it has been followed by the present Opposition. So I read the following letter from Mr Snedden:
I wish to advise you that I have appointed the Honourable A. Peacock to the Joint Foreign Affairs and Defence Committee.
I would be grateful if you could make an announcement to this effect at the appropriate time.
Mr Peacock replaces the former member for Parramatta, now Mr Justice Bowen, as the Liberal Party shadow Minister concerned.
Motion (by Senator Murphy)- by leaveagreed to:
That Senator Cant be granted leave of absence for 2 months on account of absence overseas on parliamentary business.
Motion (by Senator Withers)- by leaveagreed to:
That Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson be granted leave of absence for ?. months on account of absence overseas on parliamentary business.
Motion (by Senator Drake-Brockman)- by leave- agreed to:
That Senator Lawrie be granted leave of absence for 2 months on account of absence overseas on parliamentary business.
– I ask for leave to make a short statement.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– My understanding is that the House of Representatives will adopt a new scheduling of sitting days and perhaps times and that some 200 Bills will be introduced into the House of Representatives during the Budget sitting. This number greatly exceeds the number of Bills which has ever been presented to the Parliament in any year. It means that there will be a very heavy work load on the Senate. I suggest that within the next day or two the various parties ought to confer among themselves and then together to see whether we can reach some time tabling which will enable the Senate to conduct its business efficiently and without the necessity for the application of any kind of guillotine towards the end of the period. To apply the guillotine is not very satisfactory to anyone, and the Government does not want to be in the position that it was in at the end of the previous sitting. It is not good for the Senate to have to deal with Bills in that way. It is not all our own fault. A lot of Bills were received late from the House of Representatives. We should be able to devise some kind of system which will be an improvement at least. I doubt whether we will ever get an ideal solution. We may be able to improve the situation and sit some kind of reasonable hours conducive to efficiency and consistent with the health and well being of members. I hope such a system can be arrived at. So I suggest that we confer. I understand that this suggestion would be acceptable. I suggest that it might suit the convenience of all if the sitting were to be suspended now.
– May I say something in reply?
-Yes. After the Leader of the Opposition has spoken the sitting might be suspended until 8 p.m. The Budget Papers would be presented at 8 p.m. at the same time as the
Budget Speech is being delivered in the House of Representatives. May I suggest that, in accordance with the usual practice, after the speech has been presented the motion that the Senate do now adjourn might be moved.
– I seek leave to make a statement on the same subject, Mr President.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
-I think I can inform honourable senators that the Liberal Opposition has already had a look at the extended hours for which the House of Representatives proposes to sit. Of course, no Opposition would object to Parliament sitting. The longer Parliament sits the greater the opportunity an Opposition has to express its views. We realise that the Government has a large legislative program for consideration. After all honourable senators, who are elected to the Senate and nowhere else, have an obligation to ensure that legislation is considered but not necessarily passed. Therefore, in general terms, we would not resist any extension of the hours of sitting. I hope to be in a position tomorrow to be able to consult the other leaders of political parties in the Senate- Senator Gair, Senator Drake-Brockman and Senator Murphy. I think we will be able to come to some sensible and sane arrangement as to how the business of the Senate should be conducted.
I should also say that I would welcome some sort of an arrangement being reached between the 4 Whips in the Senate whereby more management can be brought into the debates and the handling of legislation in the Senate. I think it is fair to say, in criticism of this chamber, that often too much time is spend on matters which are not of great importance just because honourable senators feel that they have to talk and the consideration of many important matters to which a longer period of time should be devoted is crunched up towards the end of a session. We on this side of the chamber would welcome some management being brought to bear on this aspect because we are most anxious to ensure that the Opposition is given a reasonable and proper opportunity to debate at length those matters that concern it greatly. I think we proved last session that those matters to which we are not as a general rule opposed will be given a speedy passage through the Senate, even being passed on the same day as they are introduced. But, in general terms, we will not resist an extension of the hours of sitting. After all, I take the view that extended hours of sitting will be of as much benefit to the Opposition as they will be to the Government.
– I intervene only to this extent: I hope the Party leaders who are going to confer on the subject of extended hours of sitting will bear in mind that long after honourable senators have departed to their beds- until 2 o’clock or 3 o’clock in the morning- the Clerks of the Senate go on working in order to get the business ready for the next day’s sitting. Unless some consideration is paid to the work load borne by the Clerks of the Parliament and their secretariat their efficiency as well as our efficiency will start to drop off.
Sitting suspended from 5.02 to 8 p.m.
– I present the following papers:
Civil Works Program 1973-74
Payments to or for the States, 1973-74.
Estimates of Receipts and Summary of Estimated Expenditure for the year ending 30 June 1 974.
Particulars of Proposed Expenditure for the Service of the year ending 30 June 1 974.
Particulars of Proposed Provision for Certain Expenditure in respect of the year ending 30 June 1 974.
Government Securities on Issue at 30 June 1973.
Commonwealth Income Tax Statistics for Income Year 1970-71.
National Income and Expenditure, 1972-73.
Australia ‘s External Aid, 1 973-74.
Review of the Continuing Expenditure Policies of the Previous Government.
Report on Possible Ways of Increasing Imports. and move:
That the Senate take note of the papers.
Tonight the Treasurer is delivering in another place his Budget Speech for 1973-74. It is my privilege to outline to the Senate the budget proposals of the Government.
This Budget incorporates far more decisions than any previous Budget. Its overriding theme is one of reform. It is designed both to clear the decks for progress in the years ahead and to ensure that in major areas of concern- social welfare, education, the quality of urban life- real forward moves are made immediately.
The main elements of the economic situation are strongly rising demand, vigorous growth in output, full employment and external strength. These favourable features are, however, coupled with persistent inflation.
For the year ahead, expansionary forces are powerful and likely to remain so. Overall, nonfarm product should grow by as much as 6 or 7 per cent; given a favourable season, gross domestic product could actually better 7 per cent.
Inflation has been and remains our major economic problem. Like other countries, Australia will be grappling with it in the year ahead. However, there will be at least two moderating factors. The first is a high rate of importing. When the year began we expected imports to increase by some $800m or 20 per cent in 1 973-74; the decision to cut tariffs by one quarter will add further to that increase. We can well afford a strong expansion in imports. By taking some pressure off domestic productive capacity, that will help to ease inflationary strains.
Secondly, the monetary situation will be much less expansive than last year. Particularly in the first half of 1972-73, the money supply rose very rapidly. Since then, we have acted both to diminish our current account surplus on the balance of payments and to cut off excessive capital inflow. In addition, the Reserve Bank has made calls to the Statutory Reserve Deposit Accounts to help mop up excessive bank liquidity. The very successful July loan has also contributed to this.
With resources already under strain, however, we would be foolish to overload them further. In framing this Budget, that consideration has been very much to the forefront.
The Budget is not simply an economic document. It is also an important instrument whereby we give effect to our goals and aspirations.
In Australia today we are much better at selling cars than providing decent public transport services; much better at building houses than providing sewerage services for them. I could go on, but the point needs no labouring. These priorities are all wrong. However, as the Prime Minister said in his Election Policy Speech: ‘We cannot expect to clear away that backlog in three months or even three years’. But we are now embarking on the task.
In doing so, we engaged in a wide-ranging examination of the commitments inherited from previous governments. We believe that proper budgeting requires continuing critical review of existing programs. It is only too easy for inertia to take over- for 95 per cent of budget outlays each year to be pre-determined by the past. It was time for such a thorough-going critical review- to clear away deadwood and thereby begin to make room for the programs to which we are pledged. As a first step in carrying out that review the Prime Minister appointed a Task Force under Dr Coombs. His report, which makes no specific recommendations on individual outlay or tax items, was used by the Government as a working document in our task of balancing existing expenditures with the requirements of our own program. It is being published with the Budget papers.
In a buoyant and strongly growing economy, with inflationary pressures intense, we are limited by the over-riding need to bring down a Budget which does not add to those pressures.
I do not suggest that we can aim, through the Budget, to do the whole job of curbing inflation. Rather we aim to attack rising prices by a series of interrelated measures.
We have already taken some far-reaching steps. The Prices Justification Tribunal is now in operation. In December 1972 we acted to appreciate the Australian dollar and thereby restrain price increases. We have cut all protective tariffs by one quarter. The report leading to that decision is being published with the Budget papers. The flood of borrowed overseas funds in 1972 which helped to build up the inflationary pressures now so evident have been stopped. We have acted to reduce excess liquidity.
The Budget, too, must fit into the overall antiinflationary policy. With that in mind the Government came to two major conclusions.
First, despite competing demands for resources, the whole thesis of the Government’s policies requires that there be some increase in the share of resources going to the public sector.
Secondly, given the need to avoid adding to net pressure on resources, it is necessary that the increase in outleys budgeted for be more than covered by increased receipts. In 1972-73 outlays increased about twice as fast as receipts. The very different economic circumstances now prevailing dictate a much more circumspect approach.
This year, for the first time, we have adopted a classification of outlays based on their function and purposes. This is, I believe, a major innovation which will aid in the understanding of Government policies.
This functional classification is also being used in the three-year forward estimates of Australian Government budget outlays which have been developed in the Treasury over recent years. We give high priority to the further development of this work. Longer-term estimates can provide a much more rational framework for decisionmaking.
Total budget outlays are estimated at $12, 168m in 1973-74. This is an increase of $ 1,938m or 18.9 per cent on actual outlays in 1972- 73. I shall be briefly outlining our proposals for 1973-74; details are set out in Statement No. 4. Additional information will, as appropriate, be provided by the responsible Minister.
The Budget provides for a total defence outlay in 1973-74 of $ 1,266m. This compares with actual outlays of $ 1,234m in 1972-73, and comprises some 10.4 per cent of total budget outlays. This provision for defence purposes results from careful assessment both of relevant strategic considerations and of the competing demands of other Government programs.
Since, coming to office, the Government has successfully implemented its policy for an allvolunteer Army. Pay and allowances for Servicemen have been markedly improved with the adoption of the recommendations of the Woodward Committee on Service Pay and Conditions and an improved Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Scheme. This approach has proved successful, and volunteer enlistments and reengagements in each of the Services are buoyant.
There will be some re-structuring of the defence forces and manning of particular units in 1 973- 74 in conformity with the present strategic outlook. This will permit some reduction in civilian manpower and a smaller reduction in Service manpower, mainly in support and other lower priority areas. Australia’s defence capability, as a base for future expansion should the need arise, will be maintained and in some areas improved.
The Government is pursuing its policy of equipping the Armed Services with modern weapons systems. A number of significant defence equipment projects are in hand. These include additional Oberon submarines, improvements to the Charles F. Adams class destroyers, heavy landing craft and anti-submarine cargo helicopters for the Navy; Nomad aircraft, light observation helicopters and radio relay equipment for the Army; and medium lift helicopters, Mirage trainers and new Air Traffic control Radars for the RAAF. Other authorisations are expected to craft helicopters Radars in the financial year by the Minister for Defence.
For this Government, education is a top priorityit constitutes the fastest growing component of the Budget. We will provide $843m for education in 1973-74, an increase of $404m or 92 per cent on last year. There will be a further substantial rise in 1974-75 as the programs commencing in 1974 come fully into effect.
The assumption by the Government, from 1 January 1974, of full financial responsibility for tertiary education at universities, colleges of advanced education, State teachers colleges and other approved teachers colleges, including the abolition of fees at all these institutions and at technical colleges, will entail additional outlays of $ 179m in 1973-74. In addition, the Government’s decision to support a program of financial assistance for the recurrent and capital needs of teachers and pre-school teachers colleges from 1 July 1973 will involve it in an outlay of $33m in 1973-74.
From the beginning of 1974 non-competitive means-tested living allowances will be offered to all full-time un-bonded Australian students admitted to approved courses in tertiary and approved post-secondary institutions; the allowances will be higher than are at present available under existing scholarship schemes. These measures will cost $32m in 1973-74, or $17m more than the cost of continuing present schemes with existing benefits.
Increases in allowances will be made in the Government Post-graduate Awards scheme, together with the provision of some additional awards. These new awards and increased allowances are estimated to cost $531,000 in 1973-74.
The Government will increase by $10m to $25.6m the unmatched capital grant for the building and equipment costs of technical schools and colleges in 1973-74.
To assist low-income families to educate their children in the final two years of secondary school, means-tested educational allowances of up to $304 per annum will be paid from the beginning of 1974. The cost is estimated at $ 1.75m in 1973-74.
The two-year program of capital and recurrent grants for primary and secondary education, arising out of the recommendations of the Interim Committee for the Australian Schools Commission, will commence in 1974. This will require expenditure of $97m in 1973-74. This program will improve the quality of education in Australian schools and promote greater equality of opportunity in education. Substantial special assistance will be made available to provide for areas of particular need.
The Government’s promise to make one year of pre-school education available to all Australian children will begin to take effect from January next. $10m has been included in the Budget in advance of the report and recommendations of the Australian Pre-schools Committee so that a start may be made as early as possible in 1974. In addition, $8m is being provided to assist in the construction and operation of child care centres.
Several other important programs in the field of education are provided for: $2m will be provided in 1973-74 for emergency supplementary class-room accommodation in State and nongovernment schools to facilitate special instruction of migrant children; subject to negotiating satisfactory arrangements with the New South Wales Government and the University of New South Wales, we are prepared to provide for the establishment of a national postgraduate school of management at that University. $2.3m will be made available in the 1973-75 triennium, of which $350,000 is provided this year; in order to increase the number of social workers in training, special grants will be made available to New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria to provide additional places for trainee social workers in universities in those States; the value of the grants over the triennium 1973-75 is $440,000, of which $162,000 is provided this year.
Education in the Territories
Grants totalling $54m will be paid to the Australian National University and the Canberra College of Advanced Education in 1973-74. Outlays on schools and technical colleges in the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern
Territory are estimated at $57m in 1973-74, compared with $52m last year.
In this Budget we are making the first financial provisions for reforming health services in Australia.
The present health insurance scheme is inequitable and inefficient. This Government intends to introduce a fair and universal health insurance program. A Health Insurance Commission is to be established to administer the program, to operate from 1 July 1974. $8m is provided in the Budget for the purchase of computing equipment for the program. We are providing $36 lm to meet the Government’s commitments in 1 973-74 under the existing scheme.
The establishment of regionally organised, community-based health services, with their emphasis on rehabilitation and preventive rather than curative health measures, must not be delayed any longer. Accordingly, we are making an initial allocation of $ 10m in 1973-74 to assist States and eligible organisations to meet the capital and operating costs of providing such services.
We have also allocated $7.5m to assist the States to develop community-based mental health, alcoholism and drug dependency services. An additional $ 1.75m is included to meet the remaining commitments towards the capital costs of mental health institutions.
The Hospitals and Health Services Commission is assessing hospital and health service requirements throughout Australia. In the interim, $4.5m is being provided in 1973-74 to meet urgent needs for additional hospitals in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. Of the total, $4m will be provided towards the costs of planning and commencement of construction of a major hospital at Westmead in Sydney, and $250,000 in each case towards the cost of acquiring sites and preparing plans for major hospitals in Melbourne and Brisbane.
A sum of $7. 9m is included in the Budget for the national school dental scheme in 1973-74.
We propose to abolish the $10 charge currently paid by eligible pensioners and their dependants who are supplied with hearing aids by the Government Acoustic Laboratories. Also, the Laboratories will supply these persons with hearing aid batteries free of charge.
The Hospitals and Health Services Commission will be examining ways to encourage the expansion of home nursing services. Pending the receipt of its recommendations, we propose to increase, with effect from 1 September 1973, the existing subsidy to approved organisations providing such services. For organisations established before September 1956, the annual Australian Government payment for each nurse who attracts subsidy will be increased from $4,300 to $4,700. For organisations formed after that date, the annual subsidy for each nurse employed will be increased from $2,150 to $2,350. As at present, the Australian Government subsidy to any organisation will not exceed that paid to the organisation by a State. The increase in the subsidy is expected to cost $155,000 in 1973-74.
Advertising of cigarettes and cigarette tobacco on radio and television is to be phased out over three years. In addition, the Government will continue to support anti-smoking education programs through the National Warning Against Smoking Campaign. A sum of $500,000 will be directed towards this campaign in 1973-74.
The Government has decided to enter into discussions with the State Governments with a view to modifying the free school milk scheme as from 1 January 1974, or as soon as possible thereafter. The modified scheme will apply only to children at specific community schools and others selected on a ‘needs’ basis to be agreed with State health authorities. Other than in these limited areas, there is no longer any justification for the scheme on nutritional grounds; it is an outstanding example of a scheme that has long since outlived its purpose but has been allowed to continue at a cost running presently at $ 12.7m per annum.
Australia was once a leader in the provision of welfare services. It is so no longer but this Government intends to change that state of affairs.
Since 2 December much has been done to improve social security benefits. We shall now do more.
All social service pensions will be increased by $1.50 per week as soon as legislation can be enacted, thus bringing to $23 per week the rate for single aged, invalid and widow pensioners and to $40.50 per week the combined rate for a married couple. This increase will apply also to supporting mothers benefit, sheltered employment and rehabilitation allowances, and unemployment and sickness benefits. Further increases of the same amounts will be made in the Autumn.
Additional pensions and benefits payable in respect of dependent children, including student children, are to be increased by 50c to $5 per week.
The increases in the rates of social service pensions and benefits will also apply to repatriation service pensioners and to recipients of tuberculosis allowances.
We propose also to introduce a new benefit of $ 10 per week to be payable in respect of children whose parents are both dead.
We have promised to abolish the means test on age pensions payable to residentially qualified persons 65 years of age and over within the life of the Parliament. As the first step, the means test on age pensions for persons 75 years of age and over will be abolished from the Spring of 1973. The means test will also be abolished for repatriation pensions for persons 75 years of age and over. The cost is estimated at $40min 1973-74.
Abolition of the means test does, however, give rise to problems of equity. Unless age pensions are taxable, aged persons on higher incomes would be put in a privileged position by comparison not only with pensioners on lower incomes, but also with people below pensionable age on equivalent or smaller incomes and paying tax on all their income. It is necessary, however, in introducing taxation of age pensions, to ensure that pensioners in the lower ranges are not disadvantaged. The Government proposes therefore that age pensions should become taxable but that special steps be taken to protect those wholly or largely dependent on pensions from detriment.
The existing age allowance cannot do this. Indeed, the age allowance has been anomalous ever since the introduction of the tapered means test and we propose to abolish it with effect from the beginning of this income year. The Government proposes that all pensions, excluding supplementarty payments, paid under the social security legislation to people of pensionable age, including wives of age pensioners, will be taxable. Equivalent pensions paid under the Repatriation legislation to people of age pension age, but not war pensions, will also be subject to tax. A basic tax rebate of $156 will be given in 1973-74 to aged people. This will ensure that persons wholly or largely dependent on pensions will not have to pay any tax. The rebate will reduce by 25c in the $ 1 for each dollar of taxable income in excess of $2,236 and will be limited to the amount of tax otherwise payable. The rebate will be phased out as it serves its purpose.
Home Care Programs for the Aged
We propose to increase subsidy payments by the Australian Government under the States Grants (Home Care) Act from one-half to twothirds of State expenditure on such services. It will be a condition of this additional assistance that a State’s own expenditure be not reduced below its present level.
We propose, in addition, to double the Australian Government’s present contribution towards the capital cost of senior citizens centres to $2 for every $ 1 contributed by a State Government or local governing body, and we will increase from one-half to two-thirds the Australian Government’s contribution towards the salaries of welfare officers employed at such centres.
The basic rate of subsidy paid to ‘mealsonwheels’ services under the Delivered Meals Subsidy Act will be increased from 15c to 20c per meal. The increased subsidy will become payable from 1 January 1974 and will apply retrospectively to meals delivered since 1 January 1 973. To facilitate the financial arrangements of meals-on-wheels’ organisations we will, from 1974 onwards, make payments to them on a quarterly rather than an annual basis.
The present rate of subsidy to eligible organisations providing personal care services for the aged in approved hostel accommodation will be increased from $10 to $12 per week for each resident aged 80 years or more. The same subsidy will be paid also in respect of residents of approved hostels who though not yet 80 years of age require and are receiving approved personal care services.
The need for social planning at the regional level was recognised in a major election proposal, the Australian Assistance Plan. A pilot program is being started. Regional Councils for Social Development will be established at an estimated cost of$1.5min 1973-74.
The Handicapped Children’s Benefit will be doubled to $3 per day.
Repatriation benefits are being substantially increased.
The Special Rate pension, or its equivalent, will be increased by $4.50 per week to $55.60 during the Budget sittings, and by a further $4.50 to $60. 10 during the Autumn sittings.
The maximum General Rate war pension will be increased by $3 per week to $19 during the Budget sittings and by a further $3 a week to $22 during the Autumn sittings. The Special Compensation Allowance will be reduced by $3 during the Budget sittings and eliminated in the Autumn.
There will be an increase of $1.50 per week in the rate of war widows pension in both the Budget and Autumn sittings. Domestic allowances will also be increased by $ 1 a week in the Budget sittings.
New benefits to be introduced in the Repatriation field this year include free medical and hospital treatment for all returned servicemen of the Boer War and World War I, and free treatment of malignant cancer for ex-service personnel who served in a theatre of war.
We have decided that 25 per cent of war pensions will be disregarded as income for the purpose of calculating Repatriation service pension payments.
We will arrange for Repatriation Artificial Limb and Appliance Centres to be expanded so that, in addition to their present functions, they can arrange the supply, either directly or through commercial limb makers, of artificial limbs, free of charge, to all persons in the community who need them.
Since achieving Government we have been active in the cause of the Aboriginal citizens of this nation. This Budget provides a major expansion in activity. Outlays on Aboriginal advancement will total more than $1 17m in 1973-74, almost double the level in 1972-73. Improvements in housing, health, education and employment training facilities and opportunities are the prime objectives.
We propose action on several fronts to help meet the housing needs of low-income families and intending home buyers.
At the Premiers’ Conference in June we agreed to advance $2 19m to the States for welfare housing purposes in 1973-74. This is 26 per cent more than in 1972-73.
An amount of $102m, $28m more than last year, is being provided for housing loans under the Defence Service Homes Scheme in 1973-74.
The Government proposes to introduce during the coming Autumn Parliamentary session legislation to provide for a scheme of deductibility of mortgage interest as promised in the Policy Speech, to have effect from 1 July 1974. In the light of that we have decided to end the Home Savings Grant Scheme. Grants will continue to be paid on homes contracted to be bought or built, or to be commenced by an owner-builder, on or before 3 1 December 1 976, by persons who have commenced to save in the prescribed manner before this announcement. This will give those who have only recently commenced to save for the grant time to complete their three years saving and to acquire a home.
Housing in the Territories
We are providing a net $38.6m for housing in the Australian Capital Territory and Northern Territory in 1973-74, nearly 40 per cent more than last year.
Cities- both old and new- will be a continuing focus of our attention and efforts. We have pledged to involve ourselves directly in the cities. Australia is essentially an urban nation; the overwhelming majority of Australians live in cities and towns. We are seeking to work with the
States and with their authorities, especially at the local government level, in a major effort to improve our urban areas and make life in them more pleasant and more purposeful. Already in our brief period of office we have taken important steps to that end. The Department of Urban and Regional Development has been established to provide the overall co-ordinating machinery for our policies. A Cities Commission is operating to provide expert independent advice and work in close consultation with the States on technical aspects of our cities initiatives.
This Budget provides in total for expenditure of $136m in 1973-74 for our cities initiatives. Even so, this marks only the beginning.
An amount of $33m has been provided for expenditure on Albury/Wodonga and other growth centres in 1973-74. The States will be invited to enter into agreements in 1973-74 for the development of these growth centres as alternative high-quality urban living environments. Also provided is about $2. 7m for specific activities of the Cities Commission in facilitating preparatory planning and feasibility studies and associated technical work required for growth centres.
A further basic element of our cities initiatives relates to land. We have initiated negotiations with all States for the establishment of Land Commissions designed to provide Australian families with land at fair prices. The Australian Government will be prepared to provide assistance of up to $60m to the States by way of repayable loans to meet expenditures deriving from commitments entered into by them during 1973-74 for the acquisition of land for urban development and is providing $30m in this Budget for expenditures during 1973-74 for this purpose. Again, this should be seen as merely the beginning of a continuing involvement by the Australian Government in land acquisition and management for the benefit and welfare of the whole community.
We have undertaken to overcome the national backlog in sewerage services in major urban areas. This initiative is well advanced. State and other instrumentalities are geared to making a start on the physical task. So that real progress can be achieved in 1973-74, the Budget provides for $30m to be advanced to the States as a first step towards this objective.
The Western sectors of our two major cities illustrate in their most acute form the problems typical of our urban areas. In this Budget we have made provision for the urgent task of assisting local councils in these two areas. This assistance will cover such items as surveys and investigations, administrative and technical assistance and housing and welfare demonstration projects. Amounts of $5m for expenditure in Sydney and $3m in Melbourne have been provided for in 1973-74. The specific programs will be worked out with the appropriate State and local government authorities.
Another key initiative designed to improve the quality of urban life is our program to provide efficient and economic public transport systems in Australian cities. A provision of $32 m has been made in this Budget for assistance to the States for upgrading urban public transport services. The detailed arrangements are being worked out with the States and it can be expected that our outlays in this field will increase rapidly in 1974-75 and beyond as this major new capital works program gets under way.
The Budget provides for significant developments over a wide range of cultural and recreational needs.
National Library $7m will be provided for the National Library in 1973-74, including a provision of about $100,000 for the initial development of scientific and technological information services.
Australian National Gallery and Collection $4.7m is provided for additions to and maintenance of the national collection, and for activities associated with the construction of the National Gallery.
Assistance to the Arts
Provision is made for expenditure of $ 14m on the programs of the Australian Council for the Arts- an increase of $7.3m on 1972-73 expenditure.
The Government aims to facilitate the creative use of leisure time. Our proposals include the provision of $3.2m for the development of community recreation complexes and we will continue discussions with the States on the development of multi-purpose community centres in schools.
We also propose to increase the annual grant to the National Fitness Council in 1973-74 from $600,000 to $lm, and $lm will be provided to assist sportsmen and women to participate in national and international events.
The Government will legislate in this session to establish an Australian National Parks and Wildlife Commission and Service. $3m will be provided for the acquisition of land for the development of national parks within the States, and to preserve the national estate. Although the precise allocation of funds between the two programs is to remain flexible, tentative allocations of $500,000 and $2.5m respectively are proposed.
It is the Government’s policy to increase the quality and content of Australian programs in radio and television. To enable the Australian Broadcasting Commission to play its full role in this respect, almost $76. 5m, or $ 10m more than in 1972-73, has been provided for operational expenditure by the ABC. An amount of $ 16.3 m has also been provided for expenditure on capital equipment, including equipment required for colour television.
The fees for commercial broadcasting station licences will be increased. It is expected that the increase will yield about $120,000 in the year 1973-74. The higher fees will apply to licence renewals from tomorrow. Details will be announced by the Minister for the Media.
The immigration program program for 1973-74 is 110,000 settlers, the same as the revised 1972-73 program. The number of assisted migrants is expected to increase from 57,000 in 1972-73 to 60,000 in. 1973-74.
Total outlays associated with the immigration program, net of recoveries and repayments, are estimated to be $5 1 .6 million this year compared with actual expenditure of $47.6 million in 1972-73.
I turn now to the various services and forms of assistance provided by the Australian Government to industry and the community generally.
TRANSPORT AND COMMUNICATION
The Post Office investment program needs to provide for normal growth in demand and maintenance of service standards. An advance of $320 million is provided in the Budget to help the Post Office finance its investment program in 1973-74, compared with $288 million in 1972-73.
To provide additional resources and at the same time reduce the heavy deficit in prospect on the postal services, some increases in Post Office charges and certain cost-saving measures are proposed. Certain concessions which the Government considers no longer justified will be eliminated. Among these are concessional postage rates on registered newspapers and periodicals, concessional telecommunications charges to the media and the low telephone rentals that have applied in non-metropolitan areas up to now. The basic postage rate of 7 cents will not be changed, but other postal charges and charges for a range of telecommunications services used primarily by business subscribers will be increased. The telephone connection fee for new subscribers will be increased from $50 to $60.
Details of these and other measures will be announced by the Postmaster-General.
The annual cost of providing and operating airport and airway facilities is currently running some $70 million above the annual revenues received from their use. We see no reason why the general taxpayer should subsidise air services in this way. We propose to increase the rate of recovery of the costs of civil aviation to 80 per cent within five years. Air navigation charges to the airlines will be increased from 1 December 1973 by 10 per cent, the maximum increase presently permitted under the terms of the Airlines Agreements with the two major domestic airlines. There will be a substantially larger increase in general aviation charges. This will yield additional revenue in 1973-74 of $1.75 million. We propose also to move immediately to renegotiate the Airlines Agreements so as to remove the constraints on rates of increase in air navigation charges and aviation fuel taxes.
We have also adopted a policy of recovering the full economic costs of airport terminals from occupants. This policy will be applied in respect of future terminals, and existing terminals as present lease agreements expire.
The Government will continue to provide financial assistance for the operation of air services to remote areas during 1973-74. An amount of almost $2 million is included in the Budget for this purpose. We have decided, however, to phase out these subsidies progressively. Subsidies for so-called ‘essential rural’ services to some country centres will cease on 30 June 1 974. Subsidies for ‘developmental ‘ air services will be phased out over a period of four years.
To enable the in-flight testing of the large and growing number of air navigation aids, three turbojet aircraft will be ordered for the Department of Civil Aviation this year. The estimated cost of the aircraft and associated items is $15 million of which $700,000 is required this year.
Marine navigation aids are now provided to users at less than full cost. To remove this burden from the general taxpayer we propose to increase light dues- the charges to shipping for the use of these facilities- from 25 cents to 3 1 cents per net registered ton per quarter from 1 October 1973. This is estimated to yield an additional $1.6 million in 1973-74.
The Australian National Line loses at least $1.5 million per annum on sea passenger services to Tasmania. Given the importance of this tourist link to Tasmania, the Government has approved a subsidy of $1 million per annum to continue the operation of the ‘Empress of Australia’ passenger services. This will be reviewed in three years. Changes in passenger and vehicle rates will be made and other arrangements pursued with a view to reducing the present rate of loss.
The Budget provides for an advance of $107 million to the Pipeline Authority for the purpose of constructing a natural gas pipeline from the Cooper Basin gas fields in South Australia to Sydney.
This Government supports the development of sound and healthy industries in Australia as being basic to the growth of a modern industrial economy. But to achieve this objective it is essential that industry be competitive and responsive to the challenge of economic change, and that such assistance as the Government does provide facilities desirable change and does not impede it by propping up uneconomic and contracting industries. Against this background we have carefully examined the arrangements for assistance to industry which we inherited from the previous Government.
In what follows I deal primarily with the outlays side. I come later to assistance provided in the past through taxation concessions.
Details are provided in Statement No. 4.
As already announced, the Government has decided to phase out the bounties on butter and cheese production over the next two years and to place increasing emphasis on adjustment of the industry. Butter and cheese bounty payments will thus be reduced by $9 million, to $18 million, for 1973-74 and to $9 million for 1974-75. They will then cease. The processed milk products bounty, the rate of which is tied to the butter and cheese bounty, will be phased out simultaneously.
Meanwhile, the Government will examine the most effective way of further assisting the industry to adjust to changing circumstances. We will stand ready to provide additional funds for this purpose.
The Government has decided to impose a charge on the export of meats, to recoup from the meat industry the substantial expenditure incurred by the Government for the benefit of the industry on export meat inspection services.
From 1 October 1973 to 30 June 1976, the charge will be 1 cent a lb on meat exports. The charge is expected to yield $14 million in 1973-74.
The Government has also decided to recoup from the beef industry the expenditure incurred in the campaign to eradicate bovine brucellosis and tuberculosis. The amount to be recouped in 1973-74 will be approximately $6 million. Details will be announced by the Minister for Primary Industry in due course.
As already announced, $20 million is provided in the Budget to facilitate long-term rural lending by the Commonwealth Development Bank for a wider range of purposes, namely financing of farm purchase, repayment of short-term debts in appropriate cases and holding a farm together after the death of a farm proprietor.
The whole of the $100 million provided only two years ago for expenditure on rural reconstruction has now been committed, although the agreement with the States has two years to run. The Government will introduce legislation to extend the scheme to 30 June 1976 and is providing $47.2 million in this Budget for expenditure in 1973-74. In addition, the fruit-growing reconstruction scheme will be extended to 30 June 1974 at an estimated cost of $2 million. These measures will facilitate the adjustment of rural industries to changing market trends.
The Government has decided to undertake an exploration program to add to knowledge of recoverable coal reserves. The Budget provides $1 million for a coal exploration drilling program.
A review will be made of the Industrial Research and Development Grants Scheme. Firms will be assisted to commence research and development and thereafter will be required to finance such activities themselves.
We propose to set a limit on the amount of grant payable to any one company or its whollyowned subsidiaries for any one grant year. Also we are extending the scheme to enable consideration of applications from companiesgenerally smaller concerns- which perform worthwhile research and development under the direction of personnel who possess practical skills and experience but who lack formal qualifications. The Budget allocation for the grants scheme in 1973-74 is $16.5 million, compared with expenditure of $14.0 million in 1972-73.
The main effort to encourage higher standards of industrial design in Australia is undertaken by the Industrial Design Council. Last year the Council received $213,000 from the Government of which $ 168,000 was conditional on State and industry matching contributions. It will be increased this year to $340,000, of which onehalf is conditional on matching.
The Government will expand the scheme of grants for tourist attractions introduced last year. $2 million is being provided in 1973-74 for this purpose.
We are also providing $320,000 in 1973-74 for expenditure on domestic tourism promotion by the Department of Tourism and Recreation. Up to now promotional expenditure by the Australian Government has been directed towards international tourism through the Australian Tourist Commission.
The Petroleum Products Prices Stabilisation Scheme provides a subsidy to users of certain petroleum products in non-metropolitan areas, such that wholesale prices in those areas do not exceed metropolitan prices by more than 3.3 cents per gallon. The Government proposes to increase the margin specified in the scheme to S cents per gallon. This will save about $3 million on expenditure which would otherwise have arisen this year.
It is important that the labour force be trained- and re-trained where possible- to meet present day requirements. The Budget provides for new expenditures directed towards that end, including: $1.83 million to encourage improved apprentice training and strengthening of the program for the improvement of training in industry and commerce; $200,000 to encourage greater participation of Aboriginals in the Employment Training Scheme for Aboriginals; $750,000 to inform the public of the nature and extent of the Government’s various industrial and employment training initiatives.
OTHER ECONOMIC SERVICES
When reducing all non-revenue tariffs by onequarter on 18 July, the Government also announced the immediate establishment of a Tribunal to recommend appropriate assistance to firms and employees who may be affected seriously by this measure. An initial budgetary provision of $25 million has been made to meet the cost of such adjustment assistance in 1973-74.
The Government will provide $3 million in 1973-74 for grants to the States for a one-year program of traffic management and improvements at locations with poor accident records. We will also provide $825,000 for road safety promotion and research- an increase of $250,000 over 1972-73-as well as the annual grant to the States of $150,000 for promotion of road safety practices.
In furtherance of its policy on legal aid, the Government has introduced an Aboriginal Legal Aid Scheme, appointed an Expert Committee to examine all aspects of legal aid in Australia, initiated a study of a possible salaried legal aid service, and instituted a comprehensive administration scheme of legal aid in the Northern Territory. In addition, provision has been made for a grant of $2 million to the State Governments to supplement their existing legal aid schemes.
The Government has decided to publicise Government activities through the media so that the people may become aware of their rights and responsibilities, the Government’s own special responsibilities, and the overall functions of Government. A provision of $1.25 million has been made for this purpose in 1973-74.
Outlays from the Budget on external aid, including defence aid, will increase from $257 million in 1972-73 to $334 million in 1973-74. Most of this increase will occur in aid to Papua New Guinea and is associated with that country’s movement towards self-government and independence. A comprehensive statement of Australia’s foreign aid program is given in the document on that subject being tabled with the budget papers.
At existing rates of taxation and charges, including the lower customs duties announced in July, receipts in 1973-74 are estimated to increase by $1,621 million to $11,142 million. That estimated increase falls well short of the estimated increase in outlays of $ 1,938 million. We have therefore found it necessary to raise additional revenue.
Aided by the Coombs Report the Government has reviewed a large number of ‘disguised expenditures’that is, revenue concessions. The Government has decided to modify or abolish a number of these concessions. We are doing so in the interests both of tax reform generally and of the ordinary taxpayer, who has to bear higher taxes than otherwise simply because the tax base has been so heavily eroded by concessions for sectional purposes. The saving to revenue in 1973-74 will be $116 million and will rise sharply in later years. Details are set out in Statement No. 5.
There are a number of tax concessions for the mining industry, the original purposes of which have vanished. At present, all profits from gold mining, 20 per cent of the profits from mining certain prescribed minerals, and income derived by prospectors from the sale of mining rights are exempt. In addition, dividends paid out of those categories of exempt income and dividends, up to the level of deductible capital expenditures, paid out of profits from the sale of oil and natural gas, are exempt. The exemptions of profits from gold mining and 20 per cent of profits from mining prescribed minerals will be withdrawn commencing with this income year. Income from the sale, after today, of mining rights, and dividends in the categories I have mentioned which are declared after today, will not be exempt.
There is a variety of concessions subsiding capital expenditures or encouraging otherwise uneconomic investment that the Government has decided to end.
The investment allowances for manufacturing and primary production plant allow deduction of 20 percent of the cost of the plant over and above normal depreciation, so that 120 per cent of the cost is deductible over the life of the plant. These allowances will not apply to expenditure incurred after today except where it is incurred under a contract already entered into and, in the case of manufacturing plant, is incurred by 30 June 1975.
Some capital expenditures by primary producers are wholly deductible in the year in which they are incurred, while others are subject to accelerated depreciation over five years. The deductions unduly favour those benefiting and are seized upon by some, including ‘Pitt Street farmers’, to avoid tax. They can lead to resources being channelled into uneconomic activity and, in the process, may have questionable environmental consequences.
The concessions will not apply to expenditures incurred after today unless under a contract already entered into. In future, deductions will be allowed as ordinary depreciation for plant and structures, and over ten years for other items.
I turn now to certain major anomalies in the rates of tax levied on particular classes of companies. The general public company tax rate is 47.5 per cent, but private companies, life insurance companies and certain other companies pay less on some or all of their income. The differentials involved arose on no grounds of principle- indeed, there are no reasons why private and public companies should not be treated alike so far as the company tax rate is concerned. The differentials will be removed except in the case of co-operative and non-profit companies.
This will mean that, with the exceptions mentioned, the lower rate of tax on the first $10,000 of income will be abolished. Its existence encourages tax avoidance by means of company splitting. Mutual income of life insurance companies, which except for the first $10,000 of income has been taxed at 42.5 per cent, will be taxed at 47.5 per cent immediately, to apply in respect of 1972-73 income. A consequential change will be made to the rates on the 1973-74 investment income of a superannuation fund that does not observe the 30/20 rule. Private companies will pay tax on the whole of their 1972-73 taxable income at a rate of 45 per cent. For subsequent years they will be taxed at the public company rate.
The Government proposes two other changes in the basis on which life insurance companies are taxed. Life insurance companies pay remarkably little tax in all of the relevant circumstances. Their taxable income is assessed on a most generous basis. A special deduction frees from tax an amount of income equal to 3 per cent of calculated liabilities, and the rebate of tax on dividends confers an over-generous benefit. In respect of 1 973-74 incomes the special deduction will be reduced from 3 per cent to 2 per cent of calculated liabilities, and the amount of dividends subject to rebate will be diminished by an appropriate part of the deductions allowed for calculated liabilities and expenses of general management.
The income tax deduction for private rates and land tax, which now has no upper limit, will be subject to a ceiling of $300 commencing with the income year 1973-74 and will be available only for a principal place of residence.
It is proposed to remove deductibility for gifts to war memorial funds, a concession that has been widely exploited. Gifts to appeals already launched will be deductible for 1973-74 but no deductions will be allowed thereafter.
There exists a remarkable anomaly in the basis of valuation of trading stock manufactured from grapes. A special provision permits a winemaker to value such stock for taxation purposes at any figure he chooses, provided only that it is no less than certain prescribed minimum values that have not been increased since the provision was introduced in 1953. A substantial deferral of tax results. The economic condition of the industry- including the transfer of a large part of it to foreign ownership- has changed markedly since 1953. If there ever was a case for a special basis of valuation it no longer exists. The provision will be repealed, and valuation in accordance with the general provisions of the law will be phased in by three annual steps starting with end- 1 973-74 valuations.
I turn now to the area of sales tax. The exemption from sales tax on non-alcoholic carbonated beverages containing not less than 5 per cent of Australian fruit juice will be abolished, with effect from tomorrow. The ostensible purpose of the exemption is to enlarge the market for fruit grown in Australia. As such, it is a classic case of using the wrong instruments to achieve an objective. Of the $25 million a year which the exemption costs, only a fraction finds its way to the fruitgrowers. In abolishing the exemption the Government stands ready to provide such funds as may be necessary to assist with the reconstruction of any sectors of the fruitgrowing industry that may be affected.
Several of our decisions designed to correct shortcomings in the taxation system affect customs and excise duties. Two of them merely bring the application of duties into line with current technology and practice. They are a reduction in the wastage allowance on imported tobacco leaf to levels approximating present day actual wastage, and an increase in the specified dutiable contents of standard bulk beer containers to the actual average fills which are larger, now that stainless steel containers are widely used, than they once were. Both of these changes will take effect from tomorrow.
It has also been decided to abolish the difference in the rates of duty on brandy and on other spirits by raising the duty on brandy in three equal annual steps, commencing tomorrow. The differential, which was introduced in 1953-54 as an emergency measure, is anomalous and provides the industry with an advantage over its domestic competitors which cannot be justified.
It has been decided to reduce the very generous duty free concessions on cigarettes, tobacco and liquor for passengers arriving in Australia. As from 1 October 1973 they will become 200 cigarettes or 250 grams of tobacco, or an equivalent quantity of cigars, and one litre of liquor.
We have also taken some decisions affecting taxation in the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory. The rate of pay-roll tax in both Territories will be increased from 2.5 per cent to the present State level of 3.2 per cent from 1 September 1973, and from 1 July 1974 to the projected State level of 4.5 per cent. Stamp duties in the Northern Territory will be increased to the levels ruling in the Australian Capital Territory. There will be increases in drivers licence and motor vehicle registration fees in the Australian Capital Territory.
The increased revenue arising from the decisions I have announced so far will go some way towards providing the additional revenue required in 1 973-74 and towards financing our continuing programs in later years. I reiterate however that the primary objective of these decisions is not one of short-term revenue raising. It is to remove the accumulated distortions in the structure of the revenue system. The waste, economic injustice and misdirection of resources involved have not only hindered economic growth but have also given rise to much resentment as taxes generally have had to rise to offset the erosion of the tax base.
The Government proposes two other measures, in the income tax area, not primarily for their revenue yield but to improve the tax structure.
First, the law relating to taxation of casual profits from the resale of property will be amended to increase certainty and reduce abuse. Where real or personal property is disposed of within twelve months of acquisition any profits made will generally be treated as assessable income of the taxpayer. An important exception will be made to meet the case of a taxpayer who sells his residence in consequence of changing his place of employment. For disposal outside the twelve month period the ordinary law will apply. The special provisions inserted last year in relation to share transactions will be repealed. The new provisions will apply to property acquired after today. Full details will be available when the legislation is introduced.
Secondly, in this year we shall commence to move towards a system for collecting company tax by quarterly instalments. This will serve a dual purpose of reducing inequity and improving economic management. The large seasonal swings in monetary liquidity associated with the concentration of company tax payments in the last quarter of the financial year are a hindrance to economic management. A more even spread of such payments would improve matters considerably. The move to quarterly payments will be phased in over three years, commencing in 1 973-74. This year, one instalment of 25 per cent of tax will be payable before 1 January 1974, the balance being payable by the ordinary due date. This measure is thus concerned with the timing rather than the amount of tax paid by companies.
Despite the revenue arising from these decisions, further revenue measures are needed. Personal income tax paid in 1973-74 is estimated to rise by $ 1,089m or close to 27 per cent. Even apart from the Policy Speech statement on income tax rates this fact militates against looking to personal income taxation for even more revenue. Companies particularly will be effected by several of the more important decisions I have already announced, as well as, in some sectors, by our tariff reduction decisions. It is therefore not proposed to take any further revenue-raising measures in that area. Those which we propose are in the field of customs and excise.
The increasing usage of motor vehicles, including commercial vehicles, imposes heavy costs on the community. I refer not only to the costs of roads but also the costs of police, traffic control, accidents and pollution. Australia, which on a per capita basis is one of the world ‘s most motorised nations and thus especially subject to these costs, levies comparatively low taxes on petrol. A recent OEDC study indicated that, of the OEDC members, only in Portugal and the United States were taxes on fuel a lower percentage of gross domestic product than in Australia. Meanwhile public transport services and urban services generally have been held back by lack of funds.
The Government has decided to raise the bulk of the additional revenue it requires by increasing the duty on motor spirit and on aviation gas, aviation turbine fuel and diesel fuel. The increase will be equivalent to 5c a gallon in each case save diesel fuel, where the increase will be fractionally less in order to bring the duties on motor spirit and diesel fuel, which currently differ by the equivalent of 0.2c a gallon, into line. The question whether an excise duty should be levied on liquefied gas used in motor vehicles is being put under study.
These increases will raise an estimated $ 130m in 1973-74 and $ 157m in a full year.
The duty on cigarettes, tobacco and cigars will be increased. The increases will be equivalent to 5c of duty on the average packet of 20 cigarettes. Equivalent increases in duty will apply to other tobacco products. The increased duty will raise an estimated $63m in 1 973-74 and $76m in a full year.
The duty on potable spirits will be increased by the equivalent of about 3c a nip. This increase is estimated to yield $30m in 1973-74 and $36m in a full year.
In total, these increases in duty, which all take effect from tomorrow, are estimated to yield $223m in 1973-74 and $268m in a full year.
The Minister representing the Minister for Customs and Excise will be introducing amending legislation on these matters in another place later this evening.
The question of whether these increases in excise duties I have announced can be added to prices of goods cleared after today, including in the case of potable spirits the consequential increase in sales tax payable, is of course a matter for the Prices Justification Tribunal in relation to those companies subject to the Prices Justification Act. It would be a matter of concern, however, if there were attempts to profit from the increases by adding mark-ups or making other arrangements to profit from the excise increase by those outside the ambit of the Prices Justification Tribunal who are involved in the manufacture, distribution and sale of the items in question.
After allowance for the decisions we have taken it is estimated that receipts will be $ 11,481m in 1973-74. This is an increase of $ 1,960m, or 20.6 per cent, over the 1972-73 level.
To summarise: Budget outlays are estimated to increase by $ 1,938m, or 18.9 per cent, to $12, 168m in 1973-74. Budget receipts are estimated to rise by $ 1 ,960m, or 20.6 per cent, to $1 1,481m.
The estimated deficit is thus $687m and the estimated domestic deficit $162m. In 1972-73 the deficit, on the same basis, was $709m and the domestic deficit $2 1 5m.
The expenditure programs I have outlined tonight derive from our Election Policy Speech. They will be developed further in the years ahead and those election policy undertakings which we have not yet been able to embark on will also be encompassed. As the Prime Minister has emphasised, we will do what we have said we will do. To raise taxes and remove concessions is not a course on which we eagerly embark; there can have been few Governments which have enjoyed that course, and we are not among them. What I do say is that this Budget combines some appreciable steps towards fulfilling our electoral undertakings, with major reforms both on the revenue and the outlays side and, above all, a fiscally responsible outcome.
Debate (on motion by Senator Withers) adjourned.
- Mr President, I seek leave to make a short statement concerning the introduction of the Budget this evening.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
-As announced by the Federal Treasurer (Mr Crean) in his Budget Speech earlier this evening, licence fees payable by commercial radio broadcasting stations are to be increased. Licence fees for commercial television stations have not been raised.
The Broadcasting Station Licence Fees Act, which is Act No. 1 1 9 of 1 964, will be amended to provide for a new scale of fees as follows: A fee of $200 plus 1 per cent of gross earnings up to $500,000, 1.5 per cent of gross earnings from $500,000 to $lm, 2 per cent of gross earnings from $lm to $1.5m, 2.5 per cent of gross earnings from $1.5m to $2, 3 per cent of gross earnings from $2m to $2.5m, 3.5 per cent of gross earnings from $2.5m to $3m, 4 per cent of gross earnings from $3m to $3.5m, 4.5 per cent of gross earnings exceeding $3.5m. Prior to this announcement, the scale of fees was as follows: fee of $50 plus 1 per cent of gross earnings up to $lm, 2 per cent of gross earnings from $lm to $2m, 3 per cent of gross earnings from $2m to $4m,4 per cent of gross earnings exceeding $4m. The new scale of fees is to apply to all licences which fall due for renewal from and including 22 August 1973. Licence fees for commercial radio broadcasting stations have not been raised since 1964. The new scale reduces the impost on lower income stations and raises fees for middle and higher revenue earners.
Message received from the House of Representatives intimating that it had agreed to the amendment made by the Senate to this Bill.
Message recieved from the House of Representatives intimating that it had agreed to the amendment made by the Senate to this Bill.
Senate adjourned at 9.18 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 21 August 1973, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1973/19730821_senate_28_s57/>.