28th Parliament · 1st Session
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Prowse) took the chair at 12 noon, and read prayers.
-I present the following petition from 1 7 1 citizens of the Commonwealth:
To the Honourable President and Members of the Senate in Parliament assembled. The humble Petition of undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth: that the proposed ‘Free’ National Health Scheme is not free at all and will cost four out of five Australians more than the present scheme: that the proposed scheme is discriminatory and a further erosion of the civil liberties of Australian citizens, particularly working wives and single persons: that the proposed scheme is in fact a plan for nationalised medicine which will lead to gross waste and inefficiencies in medical services and will ultimately remove an individual ‘s right to choose his/her own doctor.
Your Petitioners therefore humbly pray that the government will take no measures to interfere with the existing health scheme which functions efficiently and economically.
And your Petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray.
Petition received and read.
– I ask for leave to move that the petition be submitted to the Senate Standing Committee on Health and Welfare.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Prowse)- Is leave granted?
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- Leave is not granted.
– I move:
I do so not because of any support or otherwise for what Senator Turnbul has put- frankly, I did not hear the whole of the proposition- but because we should follow proper procedures. We have adopted the view that in certain circumstances honourable senators ought to be given leave to move motions. It was simply in support of that principle that I moved the motion.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- Senator Withers, do you wish to speak to the motion?
– I do not wish to speak of it. I suggest that the question be put.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Senator Turnbull) agreed to:
That the petition be referred to the Senate Standing Committee on Health and Welfare.
– I present the following petition from 1 50 citizens of Australia.
To the Honourable President and Members of the Senate in Parliament assembled: The humble Petition of undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
That the proposed ‘ Free ‘ National Health Scheme is not free at all and will cost four out of five Australians more than the present scheme:
That the proposed scheme is discriminatory and a further erosion of the civil liberties of Australian citizens, particularly working wives and single persons:
That the proposed scheme is in fact a plan for nationalised medicine which will lead to gross waste and ineficiencies in medical services and will ultimately remove an individual’s right to choose his/her doctor.
Your Petitioners therefore humbly pray that the Government will take no measures to interfere with the existing health scheme which functions efficiently and economically.
And your Petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray.
Motion (by Senator Jessop) proposed:
That the petition be referred to the Senate Standing Committee on Health and Welfare.
– I do not want to oppose the motion. My Party has already decided to refer a petition to the Standing Committee on Health and Welfare, but I am wondering to what extent this Senate Standing Committee inquires into such a reference.
– You have just had a report.
-Yes, but does it not inquire into the source of the petition? One notes that there is a certain member of the other House in South Australia who has a standing advertisement in the weekend papers asking people to sign a petition. The matter is also canvassed in doctors surgeries. The petition presented by Senator Young comes from a particular area. Obviously we see a political conspiracy by some organisations and we are going to give it credence by sending the petition to the Committee for investigation. I am not opposed to the investigation if the Committee is prepared to look into the origin and the organisation of the petitioners.
– I support the Minister for Works (Senator Cavanagh) because anybody who has read the Nimmo report, which was not a political document, knows that it indicated that there was a great deal wrong with the general structure of the private medical and health funds and until that report is considered I think it is complete propaganda to persist with what has been suggested by the petitioners.
- Mr Deputy President, I cannot understand why we are wasting the valuable time of the Senate this afternoon on this matter. I think the problem is that some honourable senators on the opposite side see a conspiracy in anything which honourable senators on this side of the House do.
– On this question.
-I hope that you, Senator Cavanagh, are not suffering from the conspiracy syndrome like so many others. Petitions presented by honourable senators opposite in the last sittings of the Parliament were referred. I have sufficient faith in the good sense of the Senate Standing Committee on Health and Welfare to know that it will deal with the petitions as they ought to be dealt with.
– Of course it will- because you have the numbers on it.
-It is not a matter of numbers. If we have not sufficient faith in the committees of this place which we set up, then we ought not set up those committees. I think that to attempt to foretell what a committee will do or will not do is unfair to the committee. I suggest that we get on with the business of the Senate.
– There are two good reasons for supporting this motion. Firstly the matter has been referred anyway, under the previous motion, and this is only to send along a similar petition, which ought to be done for tidiness if for no other reason. The second reason for supporting it is that it will give an opportunity for the misconceptions which are so evident in the petition to be cleared up by the committee.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I present the following petition from 32 citizens of the Commonwealth:
To the Honourable the President and Members of the Senate in Parliament assembled. The Petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
1 ) Your petitioners believe in the principle that every Australian child, irrespective of the school he attends, is entitled to economic support for his basic educational needs from the funds placed at the disposal of the Australian government through taxation. Further, they believe that this economic support should be in the form of per capita grants which are directly related to the cost of educating an Australian child in a government school.
Your petitioners believe that in addition to this basic per capita grants additional assistance should be provided in cases of educational disadvantage, but they believe that the appropriate instruments for reducing economic inequalities are taxation and social welfare systems which deal with individuals and families and not with schools.
The reduction of the existing per capita grants will impose great hardships on many parents who have chosen, at considerable personal sacrifice to send their sons and daughters to Independent schools. Indeed the curtailment of the said grants will create divisions in the community.
Some independent schools of high educational standards will be forced to close with the consequences that children attending those schools will have to attend government schools already over taxed and under staffed.
Some independent schools have been encouraged to lower standards in order that their parents may continue to receive per capita grants.
Parents should be encouraged to exercise freedom of choice of the type of schools they wish for their children. The proposed legislation will penalise parents who try to exercise this choice, and discourage them from making a vital financial contribution to Australian education over and above what they contribute through taxation.
Your Petitioners therefore humble pray that the Senate in Parliament assembled should acknowledge the right of every Australian child to equal per capita grants of government money spent on education.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray.
Petition received and read.
A petition in indentical terms from 84 citizens was presented by Senator Hannan.
-My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for the Capital Territory. Is it a fact that no land will be released by the Government for Canberra home builders before December? If this is a fact, how does the Government reconcile this attitude with the statement of the Minister for the Capital Territory on 21 August last that ‘the provision of more land should help those people in our community who prefer to help themselves with housing’?
-The Minister for the Capital Territory has announced from time to time his concern about the efficient release of land so that ample land would be available at reasonable prices. I do not think anyone can doubt the sincerity of the Minister for the Capital Territory and his energy and determination to see that the price of land in the Territory is reduced. I am not sure of the program he is announcing but there would be no doubt that it would be part of what he thinks, according to his judgment and according to the advice given to him, is the best way of releasing land so that the spiralling of land prices can be prevented or, at least for a period, there can be a curbing of the general world wide inflation, particularly in land prices.
– The Minister for Primary Industry informed the Senate last session that a close study is being made by his departmental officers of proposals for a new wheat stabilisation scheme. Can the Minister say whether a new scheme is likely to be announced in the near future?
-The only information I can give the Senate on this matter is that my Department and my advisers are looking at the question of a new wheat stabilisation scheme in conjunction with the industry. Tonight I am meeting the executive of the Australian Wheatgrowers Federation to receive from it specific proposals on what it considers the new stabilisation scheme should be. I do not expect any finality on this matter before possibly the end of next month.
– I direct a question to the Attorney-General because of his recent statements about a bill of rights. I refer to the decision of the High Court of Australia on Monday last affirming the right of persons resident in this country to enjoy the post and telegraphic services of this country and not to have them withdrawn or terminated by arbitrary political direction. I refer also to reports, emanating from yesterday’s Cabinet meeting, that the Government proposes to change that situation. Why does the Government not accept the decision of the High Court as according with what Australians regard as fair and right? Why does the Government want to change the law to give the Minister power to withdraw post and telegraph services from subscribers whom the Government does not like?
– The statement of principle by the honourable senator no doubt is correct. Having the right to postal and telephonic services is an extremely important matter and to be deprived of that right by some arbitrary political direction would not be in conformity with the civil liberties of the community. There is no doubt about that principle, but then we come to the application of it. What the High Court of Australia said was a judgment on the question of power. The Court was divided on the question of whether there was power under the Act and the regulations as they stand to carry out the Government’s policy in regard to the Rhodesian Information Centre. To suggest that the Government’s policy in this regard is an arbitrary political direction only discloses the political philosophy of the Opposition. The fact is that the Government of Australia is endeavouring to carry out the repeated statements and resolutions of the United Nations- its General Assembly, its Security Council and its other bodies- in order that this illegal racist regime in Rhodesia shall not be able to propagandise around the world. There was a lot of talk yesterday about Her Majesty the Queen, loyalty and so forth. There is no question that in Rhodesia there is an illegal regime- a rebellious, illegal regime. That is conceded on all sides. That regime is operating in Rhodesia as a de facto government. Further, its position is aggravated because patently it is a racist regime. The Australian Government will do all in its power- if necessary, by amending the appropriate laws- to ensure that the will of mankind, as expressed through the United Nations in its abhorrence of the operations of this regime, is carried out as far as we can do it.
– I direct a question to the Minister for the Media. I refer to a report which states that the Australian Broadcasting Commission has given to his Department advice concerning the advisability of establishing a different means of television broadcasting in Australia. Is it correct, as it is stated, that the report is secret? If it is not secret when will it be made available to the Senate for scrutiny? Is the report correct in inferring that there is conflict between the Minister for the Media and the Chairman of the Senate Standing Committee on Eduction, Science and the Arts, which is at present investigating a reference concerning television broadcasting?
– I have seen the report to which the honourable senator refers. Firstly, it is not a report, which comes as the honourable senator suggested in his question, from the Australian Broadcasting Commission; it comes from the Australian Broadcasting Control Board. It is not secret in any way and is not a report that has been commissioned by me. I am given to understand that it is a report by way of a supplementary submission that is being made by the Australian Broadcasting Control Board to the Senate Standing Committee that is inquiring into all aspects of radio and television. The
Chairman of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board has advised me that there are some 22 copies of the report in circulation for the edification and benefit of members to that Senate Standing Committee.
In the circumstances, I assume that the document concerned is available already to a number of members of the Senate who are members of that Standing Committee, and I would naturally think that it would be a matter for the Committee itself to make the document public, in the usual way in which it makes documents of this nature public, in publishing the records of its proceedings. Incidentally, I notice that a figure of $30m is mentioned as being the overall cost in which the Commonwealth would be involved in purchasing the commercial television stations. I am given to understand that that $30m relates only to the cost of purchasing the transmitters that are involved, and not to the studios, the film stock or the staff that would be required to man the studios.
Regarding the last portion of the honourable senator’s question as to whether there is any conflict between by colleague, Senator James McClelland and me, I say quite definitely that I am not aware of any conflict. The Senate Committee is charged with the responsibility of inquiring into all aspects of radio and television. Apparently this is a matter that it, as a Committee, has decided to inquire into, and of course, the Broadcasting Control Board, being a statutory authority, is required to present evidence of the type to which the honourable senator has referred.
-Is the Leader of the Government in the Senate aware that during the last week of the sittings of the Senate Mr Clyde Cameron, the Minister for Labour, stated on an Australian Broadcasting Commission program, when dealing with the question of the reintroduction of his legislation, that the Senate would not give the legislation thorough consideration and would treat it in a gimmicky fashion? I ask the Leader of the Government in the Senate knowing his regard for the status of Parliament: Does he not consider that the Minister for Labour, Mr Clyde Cameron, has cast a serious reflection upon the Senate, one of the Houses of the Parliament of Australia?
-It is true that I have a great regard for the Senate. That regard is shared by the Ministers and honourable senators on this side of the chamber. I think we ali share it. I was not aware of remarks made by Mr Clyde
Cameron. The honourable senator would not expect me to criticise Mr Cameron in this chamber. However optimistic honourable senators on the other side of the chamber might be, they would not really expect that to happen. I will speak to Mr Cameron about the matter and give him the views of Senator Wood and other honourable senators about his remarks relating to the Senate.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Urban and Regional Development. Is it contemplated that any portion of the special sewerage construction grants to the States that are provided for in the Budget will be earmarked for the utilisation of the ozone gas purification method which has been used with great success in Europe?
-An amount of $30m is to be provided this year as a first contribution towards the sewering of areas in various States which are without sewerage at present. By agreement with the States a study is being made by the Commonwealth. A program is being prepared by the Commonwealth in conjunction with the States. The subject of the type of sewerage system to be used and the most efficient method of sewage disposal is at present receiving the consideration of the Cities Commission. It will study all relevant and up-to-date methods of sewage disposal and report accordingly. Every type of sewage disposal will be investigated and the best type recommended for use.
-My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Defence. Is it a fact that the Royal Australian Air Force’s No. 5 Airfield Construction Squadron is to be disbanded? If so, will the officers and men of the Squadron, which has done a magnificent job of work and which is at present the only squadron of its kind in the RAAF, be absorbed into other branches of the Services? If so, what work will they perform? Was trade union pressure a factor which caused the Government to disband the Squadron? What is to become of the costly equipment and the portable houses which were specially built for the Squadron at Learmonth?
– To my knowledge no trade union pressure has been associated with the examination which is being conducted at present of the role played by 5ACS. As Senator
Drake-Brockman probably knows, it will have work to do at Learmonth until about the middle or end of next year. In the event of the Squadron or a detachment of it being disbanded work will be found as far as possible for all classifications of the specialised people about whom Senator Drake-Brockman spoke. To my knowledge the examination has in no way resulted from any representation by or pressure from trade unions.
– My question is directed to the Minister for the Media. Is the Minister aware that there is a very strong public demand in Victoria for the finals of the best game of football in Australia- Australian Rules- to be televised directly to Victorian viewers? Will he use his good offices to try to convince the Victorian Football League that the finals should be televised, particularly in view of the fact that all final matches are sell-outs?
Senator DOUGLAS McCLELLANDComing as I do from New South Wales, I certainly will not agree with the honourable senator’s statement that Australian Rules is the best game of football in Australia. Nonetheless, I appreciate the honourable senator’s concern about this matter and realise that it is a source of concern to thousands of people who are unable to buy tickets to watch these matches or who are unable to get to Melbourne when they are on. I point out to the honourable senator who has spoken to me about this sort of thing from time to time that television stations at some time or another have expressed interest in the possibility of a live telecast of football finals. In fact, every year for a number of years the Australian Broadcasting Commission has attempted to negotiate television rights to telecast the final. The position simply is that the Victorian Football League will not agree to any such proposal whether it comes from the Australian Broadcasting Commission or from commercial stations. I think that the Victorian Football League has agreed that stations may have the right to telecast major matches throughout the year if they are replayed on a delayed basis and if they are not telecast live or direct. So the fault does not lie with the Australian Broadcasting Commission or with the commercial television stations; it is the responsibility purely of the VFL.
-Will the Minister for Primary Industry direct the attention of the Minister for Overseas Trade to the system of regulating the importation of peas and beans from New Zealand under which a majority of those regulating the quantity of these imports are themselves financially involved in the proposition- undoubtedly to their benefit- and that the Australian representatives supposed to be representing the Australian side of the proposition are, in cases, merged with the New Zealand representatives on the panel. Will the Minister point out these facts to the Minister for Overseas Trade and perhaps reach a decision in regard to them?
– Yes, I shall undertake to do that.
– Will the Minister representing the Minister for Labour inform the Senate of the outcome of discussions held yesterday between the disputes committee of the Trades and Labour Council, the Minister for Defence and himself concerning the 24 hour stopwork by employees of the 3 American tracking stations in the Australian Capital Territory?
– There has been some uncertainty at the stations because of the reduction by the United States Government in the vote to operate the stations. As the honourable senator probably knows, the Department of Supply is the agency for the United States Government. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration is faced with some reduction in funds as a result of which the staff has been concerned about redundancy and stability of employment. The Minister for Defence, Mr Barnard, and I have met the people concerned at different times. As a result of this the Department of Supply has become the agency for contacting the contractor to smooth out the difficulties which have arisen as a result of these new changes. Another investigation is going on which we hope will avert any short term interruptions and so remove the causes of the industrial unrest.
-Does the Minister for Primary Industry realise how much danger has been caused to the Australian potato growing industry by his action in granting a permit to allow 2 large processing companies- one of which is Marrickville Holdings Ltd which was referred to yesterday- to import potatoes from New Zealand? Does he realise the danger from black wart and golden nematode which were only discovered as a disease in New Zealand potatoes in December 1972? Does he realise that golden nematode can lie dormant for 10 years and that his decision to allow this import of New Zealand potatoes could well have put the Australian potato growing industry in a situation of great danger both in the short and the long term? Is it further a fact at present that Australian potatoes from Queensland are available to processors? Will the Minister act to have this matter investigated as a matter of extreme urgency?
– The quantity of potatoes permitted to be imported from New Zealand is only 800 tons divided between the 2 firms to which permits were granted. From memory, Marrickville Holdings Ltd was permitted to import 400 tons. If my memory serves me correctly, the other firm was called All States Foods Ltd.
– You can bet that Marrickville would get an advantage somewhere.
– If Senator Webster is so concerned with the fact that everybody who does anything hi the Parliament does it with devious intentions, that is the condition of his mind and not the condition of mine. Of course, the importation of 800 tons of potatoes will have little impact on the volume available on the Australian market. In regard to disease, I answered a question on this, I think, during the previous sitting of the Parliament. I said that the Victorian Agriculture Department sent an officer to New Zealand to investigate the areas from which these potatoes would come. We were assured on technical advice that there was no risk whatsoever of there being diseases in those parts of New Zealand. I believe that the advice on which the decision was made was the best advice available in the country. I have no doubt that every precaution will continue to be taken. Both of the companies that are importing potatoes- I add that the quantities concerned have to be imported by 30 October- have been advised that every precaution must be taken. I do not consider for one moment that there will be any risk to the Australian potato industry either from the volume imported or from any disease factors.
-My question, which is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate, follows a question asked on 29 August by the Leader of the Opposition, Senator Withers and is related to the site for the second Sydney airport. Is the Leader of the Government at this stage in a position to provide information about land holdings of Mr Sim Rubensohn in the area? Is he able to give the Senate any indication of whether any member of the Labor Party or its associates owns or has sold land in the Galston area?
-Yes, I am.
– By an odd coincidence the Minister has the information.
-That is right. The Leader of the Opposition, Senator Withers, asked whether it was true that Mr Sim Rubensohn bought land in the Galston area last year and sold it 2 weeks before the announcement of the new airport site. The fact is that Mr Rubensohn bought the land 19 years ago and sold it in May this year before the decision on the siting of the new airport had been reached. The land in fact was placed on the market in June 1972 when the former Government was still in office. No other members of the Labor Party or associates of the Party, so far as is known, either own or have sold land in the Galston area. That is the information that has been supplied to me. I think it ought to be placed on record that, although the Leader of the Opposition, Senator Withers, asked about these matters, he said that he was not making affirmative allegations of any impropriety. This answer, on the information which has been supplied to us, should help to clear entirely the question of any impropriety whatever by Mr Rubensohn.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Treasurer. It refers to a statement in a speech to the grocery manufacturers by the Treasurer, Mr Crean, on 6 September, a copy of which was placed on my desk this morning. Mr Crean is stated to have said: ‘I find myself by some strange good fortune in a very happy and confident situation. The fact is that by practically any test we care to make the Australian economy today is thriving and the immediate future looks good’. Could we be advised, if it is true that the economy is thriving and the future looks good, why the Treasury has just issued a statement warning in very serious terms of the dangers in the present economic situation and why the Government has started to implement a credit squeeze?
-I am not the Treasurer and I do not usually represent the Treasurer here, but I will do my best. It seems pretty clear to everyone that the economy is booming. We have full employment. The average person is in a better situation than ever before. The economy is good. The problem is that the economy looks as if it is becoming too good and becoming overheated. When the economy starts to reach this position of boom the Treasurer, as Treasurers whether in this country or any other country always do, seeks to curb the undesirable effects which might come by endeavouring to caution the community against the overheating of the economy and indulges in various measures to try to prevent that occurring so that the good times we are experiencing will continue. Under the wise guidance of the Treasurer we can all look forward to an economy that is prosperous. Expansion that occurs will be regulated and not overheated. We do not want conditions of boom and bust or stop and go which were previously experienced. Rather we wish to have a reasonably regulated economy which will be one of prosperity for all.
– I understand the Minister for Primary Industry recently held talks with the British Minister for Agriculture. Will the Minister for Primary Industry indicate whether the British Minister was able to give assurances of continuing markets for Australian products, particularly dried and fresh fruits, in the United Kingdom?
-Yes, the British Minister for Agriculture, Mr Godber, was in Australia a couple of weeks ago and I had some discussions with him. The essence of those discussions, in the light of the honourable senator’s question, was that the market prospects are good in the United Kingdom for Australian primary products, particularly meat. The Minister expressed the hope to me that supplies of Australian meat would continue to be available to the British market. As to fruit, he indicated that prospects particularly for fresh fruit looked good. Generally, I would say yes, the Minister was confident that the future for Australian primary products in the United Kingdom is looking good.
– My question is directed to the Attorney-General. I refer to the Minister’s statement on the provision of Commonwealth funds for legal aid in Australia. I ask, firstly, what is proposed in relation to the continuation of the Legal Service Bureau? Secondly, is it a fact that Commonwealth legal aid is to be provided through Government-employed legal practitioners in the capital cities rather than through existing schemes operated by the law societies throughout Australia? If so, how is it proposed to make Commonwealth legal aid available to persons who reside outside Australian capital cities? Why not use Commonwealth funds to supplement the existing schemes?
-The answer to the first part of the question is that it is intended to absorb the Legal Service Bureau into the proposed legal aid office. As to the second portion of the question, it is intended that it be a salaried service to provide forms of legal assistance and legal aid. The new scheme will work in cooperation with and use the services which are already available. The Australian Government is providing some S2m this financial year to be transmitted through the States to supplement their legal services. This appropriation would mean a considerable addition to the funds which are now available mostly through the law societies for legal aid and legal assistance. It would be intended in the future through the operation of the Australian legal aid office to co-operate and to use the services which are already available in order that some rational scheme and the best that we can devise may be introduced.
I have set up a committee to study these very questions to which the honourable senator has addressed himself. The committee comprises distinguished persons, not only from the Government legal aid services. The chairman, Mr Roy Turner, is a member of the Law Council of Australia. Other members, include Mr Wootten, formerly Professor Wootten, and a whole host of distinguished persons. We hope that they will come up with the best answers that can be devised as to how we would marry government provision and private provision of legal aid.
Sitting suspended from 12.45 to 2.15 p.m.
– I ask a question of the Minister representing the Minister for Social Security. In view of the fact that inflation has been extremely savage in the area of food price increases and that pensioners have to spend a great proportion of their pensions on food, will the Minister take immediate steps to request the Prime Minister to grant a further increase in pensions, although an amount was given in the recent Budget? I point out that pension payments do not contribute greatly to inflation, so that excuse cannot be used to avoid doing the right thing.
-The honourable senator is probably aware that yesterday afternoon the Minister for Social Security introduced a Social Services Bill in another place. He did that in conformity with the Government’s budgetary announcement that in the Budget session there should be an increase of $1.50 per week in the pension following the $ 1.50 per week rise in pensions in the autumn session of this Parliament. It is Government policy that this type of rise should continue until the pension rate is 25 per cent of the average male weekly earnings. I suggest that when the Bill comes before the Senate the honourable senator can espouse the views which he has expressed now.
– I direct a question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Can the Minister say what effect the Federal Government’s suggestions to establish 2 more overseas car manufacturing plants in Australia, which incidentally could overcrowd the car industry, will have on the already established car industry in Australia, particularly in South Australia where there are 2 major car manufacturers already established which employ a great number of people? Is the Minister aware that if these South Australian industries are adversely affected by the establishment of more overseas car plants in Australia it could create large unemployment and greatly affect the economy of South Australia? Will the Government have discussions with the Premier of South Australia on these matters to ensure that the interests of that State are protected?
-I am indebted to the honourable senator for his observations on the matter. Of course it is extremely important that whatever is done in the motor car industry fits into the general economy and has proper regard to those engaged in the industry in South Australia and to the welfare of South Australia. My understanding is that there have been discussions ranging across the whole topic. I would imagine, without even inquiring, that the Premier of South Australia would make representations and would be consulted on various aspects of the industry and any proposals for alteration. This matter comes primarily within the sphere of Dr J. F. Cairns, the Minister for Secondary Industry. Senator Young can be sure that the Minister will be watching carefully to see that whatever is done is in the interests of the industry and the country as a whole.
-Did the Minister for Primary Industry notice Press reports this morning that merino wool prices fell at yesterday’s auctions by 7 per cent? Does he agree with the reports which attribute the decline to last Sunday’s revaluation of the Australian dollar?
– In short I would answer the question by saying no. I saw the report that there was a decline in merino wool prices, but it ought to be remembered that last week, prior to the revaluation announcement, there was a similar decline in wool prices. It is not due to revaluation. It is due to the fact that the Japanese buyers do not maintain a regularity of purchasing of wool. Honourable senators will recall that some months ago the Japanese buyers stopped buying for a short period, with quite a significant impact on the price of wool. For whatever reasons the Japanese do this, it has a significant impact on the market. Both the western and eastern European buyers maintained their buying yesterday. Presumably they would be as much affected by revaluation as the Japanese would. So I do not think that it would be correct to say that the decline is due to revaluation. It is due to the fact that the interest of a significant buyer, Japan, fluctuates. I have no doubt that that interest will return and that the price will almost certainly return to the figures which we have seen in recent weeks.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Prime Minister. Is it a fact that an expenditure of $500,000 is being undertaken or contemplated by the Australian Council for the Arts to provide theatre venues for the screening of films which normal censorship would debar from projection in theatres to which the general public has access? On whose authority would such expenditure be undertaken? Do all outlays by the Council for the Arts require the approval of the Prime Minister? Are they subject to the scrutiny of the Auditor-General? Will they be presented in detail to the Parliament? Finally, on whose decision was $12,000 provided for the Nimbin pop festival?
-A lot of detailed matters are contained in the question, and I regret that I am not in a position to answer them. I ask the honourable senator to place the question on notice so that detailed answers may be given to him. There is one answer which I could give generally. He asked whether the expenditure would be subject to detailed examination by Parliament. I understand that, in conformity with the view taken by the Senate, even the accounts of statutory corporations such as the Australian Broadcasting Commission are subject to examination by the Senate Estimates Committees and by the Senate and that this examination would apply also to various other bodies. I would imagine that that would go without saying. If the honourable senator places his question on notice I will see that he gets precise information.
-I ask a question of the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Is it intended to institute an Australian system of honours or awards for outstanding or meritorious community service, to take the place of royal honours awards which have been discontinued in Australia? If the answer is yes, can he indicate the nature and form of the recognition and the type of awards which will be considered appropriate in particular cases?
– My general understanding is that the answer to the first part of the honourable senator’s question is yes. The policy of the Australian Labor Party is that a system of imperial honours- knighthoods and Orders of the British Empire and so on- would not be continued any longer and that some system of giving suitable recognition for meritorious service on behalf of Australia or mankind in various fields, whether it be science, literature or other activities of life, would be substituted. I am afraid I cannot say what precise form this would take. I regret I am not even able to say whether any progress has been made towards it, but I will find that out for the honourable senator.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Primary Industry. Will the Minister give special attention to the variations in the price of” meat products in the sparsely populated areas of northern Australia compared with the more highly populated areas of the south-east before and after the export tax is imposed? If it is found that the only reduction in price occurs in northern Australia, which depends almost entirely on the export market, will the Minister take immediate action to have the tax abolished?
– I could not give any such undertaking. It is true that the impact of the meat inspection levy, to which I think the honourable senator is referring, could have a different effect in different areas, but I should think that at most this would be marginal. The levy is of course imposed on exports, and beef exports do come primarily from the northern areas of Australia; but I do think it would be presumptuous to assume that there would be any impact in the northern parts of Australia which was markedly different from that in any other part of the Commonwealth. Nevertheless, I think it is fair to say that it is a matter which should be watched; but I would not anticipate the situation arising which the honourable senator has suggested in his question.
– My question is directed to the Minister for the Media. Has the Minister seen an article in the ‘Australian Financial Review’ which states that the Australian Broadcasting Control Board is having second thoughts about VHF and UHF in relation to FM radio? If so, can he say whether the article refers to the report of the Standing Committee on Education, Science and the Arts which was put down in the Senate recently, and is he aware that this report recommends that the whole question relating to UHF and VHF be re-examined?
– I have not seen the article to which the honourable senator refers. If the article says that the Australian Broadcasting Control Board is having second thoughts on VHF and UHF, then I would not think that would be so, having regard to a report that the Board sent to me this morning. However, I have seen the Senate Committee report and I am aware that it recommends a public inquiry. As I think I told Senator Hannan about a fortnight ago, prior to the presentation of the Senate Committee report, I am in the course of preparing a submission to Cabinet on this matter and I hope I will be able to get it to Cabinet within the next fortnight.
– I address my question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. I am sure he will recall that on 29 August both Senator Young and I asked questions relating to a reported decision of the Prime Minister to ban visits by public servants to Taiwan even in a private capacity and that he undertook to ascertain the position. I now ask the Minister: Was a ban imposed? If so, why was it imposed? If any restrictions on travel exist, what are they? What other countries previously recognising Taiwan but now having diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China have placed restrictions on travel to Taiwan?
– 1 am informed by one of my colleagues that the Prime Minister gave an answer to this question yesterday in the House of Representatives. It would perhaps be more satisfactory if the honourable senator referred to that question since the Prime Minister is responsible for foreign affairs. My understanding is that no Australian public servant or member of the armed Services may visit Taiwan while travelling overseas on official duty, nor may Australians travel there on official or diplomatic passports. But there is no general restriction on private travel to Taiwan by Australian citizens travelling on ordinary passports and, in the case of others, in their civilian capacity.
– Perhaps I should put the rest of the question on notice?
– Yes, if you would. I give my understanding of this matter now to assist the honourable senator but I would refer him, for what I would regard as a more precise answer, to what was said yesterday by the Prime Minister.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs. Is the Minister aware of newspaper reports of the Prime Minister’s Press conference yesterday in which the Prime Minister stated that he did not propose to protest to the Soviet authorities about their treatment of intellectuals? It would seem from newspaper reports that the Soviet Government may be about to take punitive action against the nuclear scientist Andrei Sakharov only on the ground that he applied to emigrate to Israel. Because of this information, and in view of the Prime Minister’s reply, will the Minister undertake to discuss with the Prime Minister the possibility of the Prime Minister reconsidering the whole question of whether or not he should protest to the Soviet authorities?
– The request made by the honourable senator will be conveyed to the Prime Minister. My understanding is that our Government has on a number of occasions made its views known both on the question of civil liberties and on fundamental human rights, its own adherence to them and its wish that those rights which have been stated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights be in fact extended to peoples elsewhere. That is our consistent attitude not only in Australia but also in the international bodies to which we belong. My further understanding is that the Government, however, takes the view that the matter raised by the honourable senator is essentially an internal domestic affair.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Health. It refers to those children who suffered congenital deformities due to the taking of thalidomide by their mothers during pregnancy. By way of preface I say that the Minister may be aware that the company which marketed the drug, Distillers Ltd, recently has offered a settlement of $ 1.2m with respect to some 13 accepted victims, the money to be put initially in a trust fund. I ask the Minister whether he is aware that there are other victims of the drug, not included in the proposed settlement, whose interests deserve equal and urgent emphasis. Is he aware that there are at least 15 additional victims in Australia, and possibly an overall total of 42? Will the Minister take steps to ensure that the rights of all thalidomide victims are fully acknowledged, that all such victims are speedily identified and that a just settlement is made with respect to all?
– I am sure the honourable senator will acknowledge that Dr Everingham, the Minister for Health, has taken a great interest in the problem of the children who have been the unfortunate victims of thalidomide. I believe that every Australian is indebted to Dr Everingham for the efforts he is making to obtain some form of compensation for them. It is a fact that Distillers Ltd has offered $1.2m, I think it is, by way of compensation, to be held in a trust fund for 13 Australian children who have been affected by the drug. The Minister for Health has informed me that recently he had discussions with the Thalidomide Aid Society. The Society now intends to make approaches to a leading specialist so that he can examine the other 25 or 30 children who are not included in the offer made by Distillers Ltd. This is being done with a view to the specialist determining whether, in his opinion, they could be victims of the drug. If these examinations indicate that the other children who are not now the subject of the offer by Distillers Ltd are the victims of thalidomide, I understand that Dr Everingham will be pressing Distillers Ltd to make a further offer of compensation. From my own personal knowledge of these children, it is inconceivable to me how the company can differentiate between the 13 children and the other children who make up the total of fortytwo. I believe this nation has a responsibility to see that all of these unfortunate children are compensated to the utmost.
-Has the Minister for Primary Industry received a case prepared and submitted to him by the Farmers Union of Western Australia for special consideration to be given to the dairy industry in Western Australia? Is the Minister aware that the dairy industry in Western Australia and the consumers in Western Australia face the problem that the demand for liquid milk in the State by the year 1980 probably will exceed the supply if the present trend of people moving out of the dairy industry continues? Is the Minister aware also that the Government’s decision to phase out the bounty on butter and cheese will accelerate this trend? How soon will the Minister give a decision on the claim for special consideration or special assistance to be given to the industry in Western Australia?
– I am not sure whether I have received that specific submission; but. as the honourable senator will appreciate, my Department has received many submissions on this matter in recent weeks. As to the long term prospect, it is true that there has been a very significant movement out of the dairy industry in all States of the Commonwealth, despite the payment of the bounty over the years. The payment of the bounty in fact was encouraging the production of a product which basically was not required by the market in those quantities. The aim of our policy on the dairy industry is to ensure that the assistance that is given to the industry enables it to produce the very products that the market wants. It is true that predictions are being made at the present time that the supply of liquid milk in the years ahead will not be sufficient to meet the demand. So what we want to see is an industry producing either liquid milk or whole milk which can then be processed into products which the market wants.
I take this opportunity to say also that the Australian Dairy Industry Council, through the appointment of 2 committees, currently is looking at the question of equalisation and where the dairy industry is heading. Naturally it will be taking into account the sorts of factors to which the honourable senator refers. In his last point the honourable senator asks when we will know what is to be done about restructuring. I hope that we will know possibly by the end of next month, but I do not intend to make any precise decisions on this matter until I have seen all the industry’s points of view and also what the ADIC comes up with as a result of its inquiries.
-I ask the Minister for Repatriation a question in his capacity as Minister representing the Minister for Supply and also possibly in his capacity as Minister representing the Minister for Labour. I refer to a recent report stating that 22 scientists and 100 technical staff, as well as 177 tradesmen and, I think, 57 clerks lost their jobs at the Weapons Research Establishment at Salisbury in South Australia as a result of the Government’s decision to cut down on defence expenditure. Can the Minister say whether the Government has been able to employ these people, particularly those with special skills, in other departments? I would be grateful also if the Minister could inform me as to how the recent action taken by the Government in transferring 10,000 public servants to other departments will restrict the growth of the bureaucracy.
– In reply to the last part of Senator Jessop’s question, let me say that what appears in this morning’s Press about the 10,000 public servants is pure Press speculation and honourable senators can draw their own conclusions as to whether it is right or wrong. It is purely speculation as to what was considered. For that reason I do not consider it an important point at all. In relation to the South Australian situation, there will be some redundancies. I am not yet in a position to tell the honourable senator exactly what the position will be when everything settles down. I think he knows already that it has been announced that Mr Barnard, Mr Clyde Cameron and I will be meeting the trade unions concerned with this matter at 9 o’clock on Monday next to discuss the whole area of the slow-down in defence expenditure. If I can obtain any further information than I have given today I will obtain it as soon as I can for the honourable senator.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Defence: What consideration has been given by the Government to ensuring that additional work will be provided for the aircraft industry to make up for the considerable loss of work load which will be caused by the reduction in flying hours imposed on the Services and also by the Government’s decision not to continue with its aircraft replacement program?
– As a result of those cutbacks or that slowing-down there will be a fairly indirect effect on the Government Aircraft Factories and the related aircraft industry. The Government is hoping to expedite as much as possible the manufacture and sale of its own aircraft, the Nomad. As Senator Drake-Brockman knows, recently we approved orders for a further 50 aircraft. Those concerned with the sales side of the industry are rather optimistic. We are taking a strong attitude wherever offsets are possible in the field of general aircraft purchasing. The position is being watched very carefully. As Senator Drake-Brockman knows, I have been and am as much concerned as he about the matter. We are doing everything we can to see that the industry’s capability is preserved as much as possible.
– by leave- Mr Deputy President, I suggest that it is well past the hour -
– I do not know what that means.
– Well, it is well past the hour since the commencement of question time. The Government has taken the view that an hour after the start of question time we ask that remaining questions be put on the notice paper. Today, when question time had been proceeding for a little more than a hour it seemed that only one honourable senator had a question to ask, and I think that was Senator Jessop. We stretched a point to allow him to ask his question. If other honourable senators stand, it seems terribly discourteous to ask that remaining questions be put on the notice paper. It is not my intention to be discourteous to any particular honourable senator. Apparently the only way to avoid giving the appearance of being discourteous is to bring question time to a close rigidly on the hour, even if only one or two honourable senators appear to want to ask a question. Of course, this is subject to the will of the Senate; I understand that. But I want to avoid giving the appearance of being discourteous because, although apparently only one or two honourable senators wish to ask a question, question time goes on and on and does not finish after one more question. What I want to point out is that it is not intended to be at all discourteous to the one or two honourable senators who may be rising to ask a question. I therefore ask that the remainder of questions go on the notice paper.
Senator WEBSTER (Victoria)-by leave-I wish to comment on the statement made about this matter by the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Murphy). Mr Deputy President, you would know by the notation you made that I had been rising during question time in order to ask a question. After the third time I rose this afternoon you looked at me and wrote down my name. However, I have not been called since.
I have a question to ask on a matter which appears to me to be important. I am quite happy to forego asking it. Nevertheless, I know of nothing in our Standing Orders which says that the Leader of the Government in the Senate has the right to close question time within an hour of it commencing. In the years that I have been in the Senate the present Leader of the Government, Senator Murphy, vehemently opposed every attempt by the former Government to close question time. This socialist leader in the chamber at the present time not only curtails question time but also- and I remind him of the way he has answered questions on at least 3 occasions today- in replying to questions has taken at least 3 times as long as it took to ask the questions. If the Leader of the Government wishes to give some freedom and some fairness I suggest that he should not make a policy speech while attempting to answer a question asked from an Opposition senator.
– by leave- Mr President, yesterday a question on notice that I had asked on 6 June was listed for answer. However, I have not found out what happened to the answer.
– Who supplied the answer?
- Senator Cavanagh.
– If Senator Cavanagh has an answer I am sure that he will provide it.
– I have an answer. I provided 10 answers yesterday and I thought one of them was in answer to a question from Senator Rae.
– The matter is now within my jurisdiction. I shall make inquiries.
– I inform the Senate that I have received a letter from Senator Cotton, which reads as follows: 12 September 1973
Dear Mr President,
In accordance with Standing Order 64, 1 intend to move on this day that the Senate, at its rising, adjourn until 9.59 a.m. on Thursday, 13 September 1973 for the purpose of discussing a matter of urgency, viz:
The reduction in consumer’s purchasing power, the increased cost to home buyers, the damage to export industries and local manufacturers, together with the consequence of unemployment in affected industries, without any significant impact on Australia’s inflationary problems, of the Government’s dollar revaluation and action to increase interest rates.’
ROBERT C. COTTON
Is the motion supported? (More than the number of Senators required by the Standing Orders having risen in their places)
I do so for the purpose of debating a matter of urgency, namely:
The reduction in consumer’s purchasing power, the increased cost to home buyers, the damage to export industries and local manufacturers, together with the consequence of unemployment in affected industries, without any significant impact on Australia’s inflationary problems, of the Government’s dollar revaluation and action to increase interest rates.
It was quite predictable when this Government took office that it would get into an economic mess. That could be clearly seen. The thing that has been fascinating is how fast it has come about.
– That is mean.
– That is not like you.
– It is not mean. It was quite predictable. If the honourable senator thinks that is not like me he should read the remarks that I made in December. Equally, I want to say some things which I hope the Government will regard as constructive at the same dme as they are critical. The Australian economy in my view, is not a particularly easy one to manage. There are those who say that it is particularly easy to manage. I do not think that the Government of the day is finding it so. I think it will be found that on various occasions in the past when in Opposition honourable senators opposite have said that it was not hard to manage the economy. There are three broad aims in the Australian economic management to be borne in mind as priority aims. First of all there is price stability, then full employment and then growth and improved living standards. Over a span of 2 decades the previous Government had achieved these results.
-It had achieved these results, let there be no doubt about it. This has been evidenced in independent journals and comment around the world. Managing the economy is a matter of delicate balance and it calls for fine and early adjustment when things are beginning to move the wrong way. It does not call for the blunt, broad axe treatment. The Budget that was brought down recently by Mr Crean aggravated inflation, it did not diminish inflation, and of course very quickly behind the Budget we are called upon to take up a serious consideration of the problem. The Draconian measures of last weekend are, to quite an extent, the product of the present Government’s lack of understanding of the problem and failure to take advice much earlier from areas which are available to it. It can be said without any bitterness that if you do not believe this, read some of Mr Clyde Cameron’s earlier comments on the Treasury. What becomes very clear now is that the Government is beginning to heed the advice of various fairly well informed and authoritative Government departments. It is equally clear that the Government did not do so earlier.
I turn to the question of consumers’ purchasing power. Two things will dramatically affect this adversely- the inflation now taking place and the interest rate rises which are contemplated. I suggest to the Government- and later speakers on the Opposition side will develop these matters in more detail- that there could well be a compounding effect here, not a set-off. Interest rate rises will add to price rises and diminish purchasing power. It is not necessarily correct to say that they will of themselves and by themselves diminish inflation. There is some substantial experience in other parts of the world to indicate that without a full approach this does not happen. So, firstly it is my assumption and belief that consumers- and we are all consumerswill be substantially worse off because of this Government’s actions and the events of last weekend.
Then there is a consideration of the costs to home buyers. Tremendous numbers of Australian people, both young and old, are home buyers. This Government’s actions will have a very serious effect on home purchase programs. Australia consistently has been a country in which people believe in owning their own homes. This has always been a great Australian tradition. I think that it flows out of the Australian initiative and independent style of doing things. There are people who believe that this is not what Australians should do, that they ought not to try to own their own homes. But this is what Australians want to do and have always wanted to do. Those who seek to do this will encounter inflationary problems not only in paying off houses but in buying houses. Advances in interest rates will make it very difficult for people to get the money with which to purchase houses on a financing basis, and the capital repayment costs of borrowed money will accelerate very markedly. Other speakers on the Opposition side will develop this argument in a little more detail, but it ought not to be taken lightly. The Government has struck a very severe blow at a great number of people who are home purchasers or are paying off homes which they have purchased. Many of them are young people and young married couples, but quite a lot of them are people of a more advanced age.
Then there is a consideration of damage to the export industries and the rural industries. They will find it harder to sell their products abroad. The mining industry has commented quite freely- and it can be read in any of the mining journals or daily newspapers or various authoritative publications that are available- that it has a tremendous concern for what will happen to the mining industry. It can see itself very soon in a phase not only of practically no growth but also of what might be called non-profitability. It can see the whole mining business tapering down. The people in the industry are extremely concerned, and I think that they are people for whom the Government should have some regard.
There is the consideration of damage to local manufacturers. Manufacturing in Australia is a substantial employer of the Australian people. It employs approximately 25 per cent of the people. I believe that the Government is putting employment quite at hazard in the rural industry, the mining industry and the manufacturing industry. Inflation will have a marked effect on the cost of manufacture. It will make it harder for Australian manufacturers to sell their products on the home market and more difficult to export it and sell it in competition abroad when they have to do so. The increase in interest rates will have the same effect on them. Their overall cost burden will increase. They will become less competitive both in Australia and abroad. They will certainly be more exposed to import competition. While I am not a person who is in any way at all opposed to trying to add to the imports to this country in order to try to help the supply position, I am opposed to putting soundly based local manufacture and employment in that manufacture at employment and commercial hazard. I think that the operation of last weekend- the Draconian measures- will achieve that result. This is one part of the situation.
While imposing these severe measures on everybody else, what has the Government done? The increase in Government employment is now running at a rate of 10 per cent against a Budget calculation of 4.7 per cent. It is a strange reality to me that the Budget should come down in the third week of August setting a figure of 4.7 per cent as the rate of increase in Public Service employment, to be followed in a week by official figures indicating a 10 per cent rise in Government employment. There are some figures available which I shall cite. They demonstrate that in the United Kingdom per head of the total population about one person in 70 is employed in the public service, in Canada the figure is 1 in 30, and in Australia it is 1 in 11. When one looks at the work force situation one finds that in Australia one person in three in the work force is employed by governments.
– What was the ratio in your time?
-It was better than that. What we also have is a complaint that buildings are being constructed at an excessive rate. People should stop worrying about that because all the evidence that one can gather indicates that the buildings which are available are being filled up with public servants at a dramatic rate. It is almost impossible to get office accommodation in Canberra. So the problem of unused building space will at least be solved by this Government. It will put public servants in all the empty building spaces. This is meant to be an attack on inflation. We all are concerned about inflation. We had inflation in our time, but we did more about it than the present Government is doing. In the view of myself and my colleagues, what the present Government is doing is not a realistic approach to solving the problem. In order to indicate that one is being totally unbiased and not being bitter, I should like to draw attention to the comments in the ‘Age’ of Monday of this week. This is not a newspaper that was notable for supporting the previous Government- far from it. On Monday of this week the ‘Age ‘ stated:
And the Labor Government, in its first year of office, has made a complete hash of controlling the domestic economyfirstly allowing a stupendous boom to develop, and then failing to use the Budget to control the boom.
I believe that Mr Snedden, on behalf of the Opposition, took a total and proper approach when he said: ‘You should have a total package to deal with inflation. The Government cannot hit everybody else over the head and leave itself out of consideration’. Mr Snedden has suggested a prices-incomes freeze for a period of 90 days, with minimal extensions. Honourable senators opposite have said that prices-incomes policies will not work. A recent visitor to Australia to whom I listened at a lecture, Professor Galbraith, who is not regarded as a right wing economistfar from it- and whose views ought to be acceptable to the Government stated: ‘Price-income policies work in the correct hands’. Therefore, we assume one of two things: That Professor Galbraith does not think that the Government has correct hands, or that the Government does not think so itself. Mr Snedden offered the Opposition ‘s help. He took a total statesman-like Australian view. He said: ‘Inflation is a big matter for us all. We will help, as an Opposition, in any way possible’. His offer of help has gone unregarded; it has just been forgotten. He discussed the problems of demand management. They are very real, and later in the Budget debate we can develop this consideration more fully. But the problems of demand management are matters for the Government to control, and it is making no attempt to do so. Mr Snedden suggested State co-operation. Everything that I saw at the Australian Consitutional Convention in Sydney indicated to me that this Government did not want State co-operation at all. It just wanted to be running everything itself in a sort of accumulating style of mismanagement. Mr Snedden also said that beyond the consideration of the cooperation of governments, which was essential, one needed to be able to develop a total community co-operation, but that if governments were not doing that the community could not be asked to do so. I believe that Mr Snedden was quite correct.
We now have a situation in Australia of overfull employment. Mr Crean, the Treasurer, said so at a meeting of co-operative societies in Canberra. He said that employment in Australia has now reached the level where 1.6 per cent of the work force is unemployed. Mr Crean said that that must be regarded as full employment. Indeed, it is over-full employment. In the light of all that, what incredible folly it was for the Government on coming into office to knock down the immigration program in such a dramatic if not hysterical manner. The Government finds itself in the position where it has to turn around and gradually get itself back into the immigration picture again. Having condemned the Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd about the obtaining of more workers and having slammed the door in its face, I understand that the Government is now going to let it have some.
The real question to be considered- the Budget debate will develop this matter further- is the strain which is being placed on the total resources of the community as a result of the Government’s action. The real situation is that the demand on resources is greater than the resources which are available to supply the demand. Labour and materials are already at full stretch. One can talk about the money situation as much as one likes but one has to remember that money is a transfer process for available labour and materials. The demand on labour and materials is at full stretch and over-stretch. The Government is stretching the situation further. That is the substantial problem of inflationary management.
– Is the honourable senator claiming that there was price stability under the previous Government?
-Would Senator Murphy mind if I were to use the figure produced by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development to show that Australia had the best record of any developed country around the world during the past 10 years in price stability? Senator Murphy does not have to take my word for it; he can take the word of the OECD, which is an independent body.
-The OECD said that there was not price stability.
-I will make figures available to Senator Murphy. I know that one can quarrel with the various interpretations of words used, but the figures which are available prove clearly what I have said, that is, that we had a record in price stability that was better than that of 14 other developed countries in the same order of measure. Those figures can be obtained; they are available. I will see that they are made available to Senator Murphy. They may help him.
Another subject about which I wish to talk is the subject of overseas reserves. I believe that one of the areas in which the Government has become hysterical in its actions has been the area of overseas reserves. Overseas reserves grew from $I,420m in June 1969 to $4,167m in July 1973. It seems as though every endeavour is being made to knock them down, to be rude to people, to shut them off and to throw them away. It is, in effect, like standing under a shower and tearing up $10 notes. Figures are available on this subject from the Parliamentary Library. Those figures demonstrate the run of the advance on the Australian official reserves, which I should have thought would have demonstrated a reasonably prosperous and growing country in which people had confidence. The changes in the official revaluation situation about which I talked earlier and about which others will talk later demonstrate that the revaluations of the Australian currency have had the effect of diminishing the reserves. The December 197 1 revaluation undertaken by the McMahon Government diminished the reserves quantitatively by $60m. The revaluation of Mr Crean in his first run around the track in December 1972 diminished them by $2 32m. His later run around the track in February 1973 resulted in a $234m diminution. It is hard to estimate what will be the effect of the latest revaluation. The best assumption I can make is that there has been a total change in the reserves, as a result of revaluations, of the order of $800m, of which about $60m was the product of the previous Government’s revaluation.
I am genuinely concerned that we may be handling things in quite the wrong way. We have a strong overseas reserves position. What I would like to see considered- it is not for me to do it; it is a matter for the Government- is the retirement of part of the overseas debt with some of the reserves. I had the Parliamentary Library obtain figures for me on the overseas debt. In June 1 973 it was $968m. So a little bit better than one-fifth of our reserves could be used, if we wanted to do so, for retiring the overseas debt. We could in effect have a debt-free country in an overseas sense. I appreciate that this would be a matter involving a study of the relative interest rates. We earn some interest on our overseas reserves. I do not know what rate of interest we pay on our overseas borrowings. But, if we are worried about having too much in capital resources, why not pay up some overseas debts? That is worthy of thought.
I believe that we could also use the capital we have in reserves to develop a greater expertise as Australians in investing abroad, which is where our markets and opportunities lie. Instead of shutting the money off and throwing it away we should learn to do something about exporting capital ourselves in joint ventures. We should learn to manage it in that style and follow our market with it. That would be a much more positive way in which to go on than the negative way in which we have been going on of just slamming doors in people’s faces. I think we should think about that. It may help if we were to adopt a bipartisan approach. It will help.
I cannot quote the figures as to the losses sustained by the Reserve Bank of Australia because of the revaluation. Senator Wright quoted them the other day. They are available from the report of the Reserve Bank. An amount of the order of $7m of the Reserve Bank’s assets has been lost in the revaluations. When we go ahead gaily and revalue, as we have been doing, we should think about the consequences of our actions. We should think about whether there are alternative methods and whether what we are doing is wise. We have ended up with a relative value for our currency. The Australian dollar has gone up by 5 per cent. The relativity with the United States of America is now $A1 to SUS1.50. I express the general view that we may be making a mistake and that our dollar may not now be properly valued. It has not been under any substantial market test of its value in the open style.
I am conscious of the problems involved in floating the dollar. I have had a good look at them. Consideration has to be given to floating in a 2-tier system. One of our greatest problems is that we tend to get out of balance in our currency with the currencies of our trading partners. We think it is worth so much and establish its value and we make the exporters and others pay that much. But it has never been put to the true test as to what other people around the world think about it. We have never reached that situation. That could be worth doing in the development of an exchange market. I think that is something which should have been done in this instance. I think what the Government has really done has been to bash all of the people in the private area, to look after itself and to take restrictive and not productive measures. It has acted in a situation of haste and acted very late.
Let us examine the stock exchange situation. Honourable senators opposite may not be worried about what happens to the stock exchange, I am not a stock exchange person but I would point out that on the stock exchange there are many people who save and are genuine investors. It is a great mistake to assume that the stock exchange is in the hands of a few wealthy people. What is it really? It involves the life offices and other institutions. It is a repository for the savings of those people who wish to look after themselves in their old age. The stock exchange is very largely one of the areas in which people put their savings for the future, both institutionally and personally. Something like $ 1,400m was wiped off their values in one day. The ratio of falls to rises was 30 to 1. People who genuinely used the stock exchange as a method for providing for themselves in their old age would not view the Government’s measures at the weekend with any delight. What has happened is that is has knocked the money out of them; it has taken the money out of their pockets. There are probably people in this chamber who are more familiar with the stock exchange than I am. The Government’s actions were far from funny to the people who invest in the stock exchange. It is going to find out that as the months and years pass.
Increased consumer prices is a subject which may be picked up a little later in our debates. I wish to make one point in relation to it. People tend to say that a prices-income policy will not work. According to the OECD the inflation rate in the United States in 1970 was 5.9 per cent. A prices-income policy was adopted and the percentage for 1972 was 3.3. It has begun to climb again, which gives full value to Mr Snedden ‘s comment that inflation is a total package and that we must all play our part in relation to it. The Government can play its part not only by taking action against others but also by taking action against itself. Sir John Phillips, the Governor of the Reserve Bank, made a general comment about inflation which I think sets out the situation quite well. He said that it destroys people ‘s expectations about the future. Perhaps I will have more to say about that tomorrow in the debate on the Budget.
I regard uncontrolled inflation as the most dastardly thing in a free society. It debases the currency and destroys the people and all they seek to do- their efforts, savings and initiatives. I am happy to play my part in bringing it under control. I believe that the current measures, to say the least of them, are partial, late, not well thought out, not total and are not going to solve the problem, but are going to make it a lot worse. Interest rates are not yet given to us in their quantum. We are told that they are going to rise, but nobody yet knows by how much. There is speculation therefore in the bond market which indicates a variation in the band of 1 per cent to 2 per cent upwards. The sooner the Government says what the interest rate will be the better for all the people concerned because interest rate speculation in this sort of situation is quite bad.
– They will not say until after.
– I realise that, and it is a matter of some concern to me, because that is very irresponsible. If the Government had decided as part of its view of how to handle the problem of revaluing- and it had not thought that through- and decided to increase interest rates, it had a proper responsibility to set the rate otherwise it would be letting money run and would be encouraging the speculator. Somebody has well said- I think it was Galbraith- that this sort of situation favours the quick and the smart against the people who are not quick and smart but are decent, who save, who are thrifty and who have made this country what it is.
– Those who have capital reserves, too.
-That is quite right. I read the remarks of the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) at a Press conference, I think yesterday, when he said that it goes against the grain. The Prime Minister will not pay. The people will. They will pay in housing and prices and their general wellbeing. Some people and some firms will become bankrupt if this kind of process goes on. Later on in this debate we will hear excuses, condemnation of past positions and all sorts of offerings will be made. I say to honourable senators on the Government side: You will have to stand the test of time on the actions which you took at the weekend and which you have taken during the 8 months you have been in government. You will be measured against your words and your actions in the future, and not just today. For myself, I say that what the Government has demonstrated in the last 8 months fills me with the greatest apprehension about its capacity to run this country properly.
- Senator Cotton has said a few useful things about the economy and the changes which are taking place in it. I notice that he has not been too condemnatory of the Government. Having read the report of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development to which he referred it is quite obvious that the economic problems of which he complains were well in evidence during the last Government’s period of administration. No doubt that was one of the reasons why that Government was rejected by the people. The honourable senator mentioned 3 cardinal matters. The first of these was price stability. What was the position. He said: ‘Look at the OECD.’ I refer to the OECD report on Economic Surveys, Australia, of December 1 972. It spoke of the loss of price stability and stated:
The recent troubles on the domestic front may be said to have begun with a marked acceleration in the rate of price and wage inflation during the fiscal year 1 969-70.
The report goes on to deal in detail with price inflation and then it turns to economic activity. Another factor which the honourable senator mentioned was growth. According to page 49 of the report a number of factors appear to have contributed to the excessive slowing down of economic activity during 1971-72. Honourable senators will recall that the third factor which Senator Cotton mentioned was full employment. Of course the unwise economic measures taken by the previous Government and the excessive slowing down of economic activity led to an unnecessary rise in unemployment. But what is happening at the moment? It is clear that there is full employment. No one contests that.
– How does the honourable senator say that it is full employment with 67,000 out of work?
-The figures show that the vacancies exceed the applications. One knows that certain persons for a variety of reasons are unable to be employed. We speak of full employment in the sensible sense. I think that we have the best employment figures that anyone here can recall.
– Is that full employment?
-Mr President, could we have Senator Webster refrain from that kind of interjection? If he wants to say something constructive I shall answer him, but not otherwise.
– Order! Senator Murphy, I think that Senator Webster is building up a head of steam to reply to you. Senator Webster, you will oblige me by not intervening.
-The OECD document which has been referred to shows that the situation in Australia was obviously unhealthy at the time the previous Government went out of office. We had a basically strong situation with our mineral wealth, our capacity on the farms and in industry, yet the economy was being dealt with so unwisely towards the end of the previous Government’s period of office that there was high unemployment, an excessive slowing down of economic activity and, of course, a loss of price stability. Now what has happened? The existing Government, having inherited this unhealthy situation, has transformed the economy so that we have what may fairly be described as full employment. That factor which the honourable senator has mentioned has been attended to. We have the growth and development about which he spoke. We do not have the unused capacity, whether of machines or persons. We are utilising to the full the productive capacity of the community and seeking ways in which there might be higher productivity. There is not price stability. There is no doubt about that. There is not price stability around the world and there was not before the Government came into office. It had been lost and it does not exist now.
So what is the duty of the Government? Its duty is to try to slow down inflation, because it is harmful to everyone. There is no doubt about that. Measures taken by the Government are based on advice directed towards trying to bring about some kind of price stability. Economists all over the world said a few years ago that 3 per cent was an acceptable rate of inflation, then they moved to 5 per cent and so on. We are used to that. It seems that it is acceptable in modern society to have some form of inflation. Indeed, it has been said that the consequences would be far worse if one were to stop inflation altogether. But the Government takes the view that the amount of inflation which is occurring is undesirable, so it has set out to take the measures which have been indicated. Many may regard those measures as being not the best that could be taken. I think that Senator Cotton made a valid point when he spoke about the measures to curb spending in the community. He spoke about the effect of interest rates and said that they ought to be part of some package. He said that we cannot deal with one thing alone or with one or two factors and that this ought to be across the board. I think that is common sense. That observation was made as long ago as 1959 in the Radcliffe report on the working of the monetary system in Great Britain. The report went into great detailthis is found on page 158 and elsewhere- as to the ineffectiveness of selecting interest alone, because if there is an inflation economy and persons need the money they will be prepard to pay the extra interest. Even businesses will do this.
It is clear that the Government ought to be able to take measures right across the board to cope with the problem. One of the tragedies is that so many of our financial institutions seem to be outside the clear powers of the Commonwealthsuch as the fringe banking institutionsthat monetary measures are not able to be taken as well as they ought to be in a properly regulated economy. This is one of the reasons why, central to the considerations of the Constitutional Review Committee last week was the problem of enabling the national Parliament and Government to have adequate powers to manage the economy. It seemed to be pretty well accepted that the national Parliament and Government ought to have those powers which, at the moment, they do not have.
I turn to the precise terms of what has been put in the motion moved by Senator Cotton. I have been supplied with certain material from the Treasurer (Mr Crean). Perhaps I should indicate briefly the view put forward on each of these matters. The honourable senator referred to the reduction in consumers’ purchasing power. The threat to consumers’ purchasing power is inflation. It is common ground among economists that inflation cannot be checked if the money supply increases excessively. In the second half of 1972 the money supply increased by no less than 17 per cent. This uncontrolled and excessive increase has created great problems in 1973. The high level of liquidity now prevailing is a legacy of the inaction of the previous Government. The present Government has acted determinedly to slow the growth of money supply by revaluation in December 1972, by controls on capital inflow, by calls on the statutory reserve deposits of trading banks and, now, by taking these measures. The rate of growth in the money supply has been slowed markedly. The measures have a primary aim of getting the situation which got so out of hand in 1 972 back to normality. To talk of reducing consumer purchasing power is quite unreal. Consumers can gain only from measures that slow inflation.
The honourable senator referred also to the increase in cost to home buyers. Observations have been made in regard to this matter to the effect that the Government’s actions would hurt the little man- the home buyer- and push up housing costs. The answer is that inflation is pushing up the costs of housing and everything else. Excessive finance, a competitive scramble for labour and materials and consequential bidding up of wages and prices are rapidly forcing up the price of housing. The price of materials used in home building rose by 10.6 per cent in the year to June 1973 and wages in the industry rose faster than that. Meanwhile, a flood of finance is pushing up demand for housing. Private dwelling approvals in recent months have run at an annual rate of almost 200,000. A year earlier- itself a time of strong housing demandthe annual rate was 150,000. It is this competitive scramble which is really hurting would-be home buyers. Calculations that a higher interest rate will add so much a month to the cost of a given loan overlook the fact that the size of the loan needed is escalating out of control and that it will be to the home buyer’s advantage if that escalation can be slowed. That is, a dampening down of the price spiral will help home buyers. At present rates of price increase a $15,000 house today will cost $40,000 to $50,000 a decade from now. It is that trend, rather than the higher cost of interest, which is the real enemy of home buyers.
The Government has already acted decisively to help those who most need help with their housing needs. At the June Premiers’ Conference the Government agreed to advance $2 1 9m to the States for welfare housing in 1973-74, 26 per cent more than in 1972-73. The Government has also allocated $102m for defence service homes, 38 per cent more than 1972-73. The housing aspect apart, it should be remembered that the little man is a lender as well as a borrower. The Prime Minister’s statement, in listing the evils of inflation, mentioned first that it is ‘robbing people by reducing the purchasing power of their savings’. The fact is that real interest rates, at least on those loans and deposits in banks and on Government securities, are negative at today’s rate of inflation. The borrower is getting a better deal than the lender, and it should be remembered who the lender is. It is clear that in regard to the savings banks the great proportion of the money comes from the small citizen, speaking in the financial sense.
It is clear, and I think we all should agree on this, that action is necessary to stem the inflation. Then, interest rates should drop. I do not think that anyone would suggest that high rates of interest in the community are desirable. If these measures have to be undertaken by the Government as some temporary means of arresting a world wide and local trend in Australia, it is to be hoped that they would be reduced. There is no doubt what this Government’s attitude would be in regard to high interest rates, especially for home purchase and for other domestic reasons. Consistently while in Opposition members of the Australian Labor Party argued against high interest rates. Nothing would induce the Government to contemplate or to tolerate any kind of increase in interest rates for those purposes except as a necessary measure to combat inflation.
The honourable senator referred also to the damage to export industries and local manufacturers. What was said today is exactly what was said following the larger December 1972 revaluation of the Australian dollar. But exports are booming still and manufacturing industry after a sluggish year in 1972 has got back into top gear. Suggestions that a 5 per cent appreciation is going to have serious consequences are ludicrous. The export price index rose by 32 per cent in the year to June 1 973. That puts the 5 per cent revaluation into perspective. Exports continue to rise very strongly. In the 3 months to August, they were $ 1,701m, no less than $383m above the level in the corresponding months of 1972. As to industrial production, of the 33 items for which the Commonwealth Statistician publishes figures, in July- the latest month for which figures are available- 31 of the items showed increased production on a year earlier, 2 1 by more than 20 per cent, and 2 recorded declines. Demand for labour by industry has never been higher. A factor to be remembered also is that industry is a major importer and will benefit from reduced import prices. As the Prime Minister’s statement on the measures indicated, there was an average 5 per cent fall in import prices in the 6 months following the 7 percent revaluation of the Australian dollar in December.
The honourable senator referred to the consequences of unemployment in affected industries. This might have been a point a year ago when the labour market was slack. But now, unfilled vacancies total 70,000 compared with 28,000 a year ago. The unemployment figure is 67,000 compared with 93,000 a year ago. Overtime in factories is well above the previous record levels. It is not realistic to be talking about significant employment problems. That is not to say that nobody will be affected. But given the unsatisfied demand for labour, suggestions of a general problem are not to be taken seriously. The Senate will recall that at the time of the tariff cuts the Government announced that it would be prepared to pay, retrain and look after those who would be affected by the cuts which were being made. There were predictions of greatly increased unemployment after the December revaluations and again after the tariff cut in July. The labour market has persistently tightened since December.
The motion deals also in general terms with the suggested impact on the inflationary problems. It suggests that the measures will not have any significant impact on Australia ‘s inflationary problems. The fact is that these measures are part of a group of measures which have been taken by the Government over a period of time. They are not the end of the measures but they are considered to be those which will help to solve Australia’s inflationary problems.
– There are more to come?
-Nobody imagines that the measures will solve Australia’s inflationary problems, but they help. They are a step in the right direction. There is some dispute amongst economists about the extent to which inflation is imported but it is common ground that it is partially imported. This is done through booming export prices, effects on domestic prices through rising import prices and, until the Government acted, excessive capital inflow. Appreciation of the exchange rate reduces that imported impact. It reduces the attractiveness of overseas markets relative to domestic markets and hence adds to suppliers here. It lowers import prices. There may be few things that economists agree on but one is that appreciation is deflationary and depreciation is inflationary. As to the need to curb the increase in the money supply, here
Senator Cotton also is denying what is almost a truism. I spoke a little earlier on that matter.
The measures which the Government is taking are specifically designed to achieve a significant lift in the yields on Government securities. This will be part of the means of mopping up what is deemed to be the excessive liquidity in the economy. There are other measures. In answer to Senator Carrick I may say that one of the measures which the Government has indicated and with which I am concerned is the operation of proper trade practices laws. It has been accepted in Australia for at least the last dozen years- I understand that it is generally acceptedthat one of the reasons for the softness in industry, for the lack of productivity in many areas and for the increases in prices which are unjustified has been the existence of certain trade practices in the community. All sorts of arrangements have been made which have effectively reduced competition and enabled prices to be pushed up beyond what they would be if there were some freer competition. We have suffered a degree of monopolisation far beyond that which exists in the United States of America and the United Kingdom. We have had really no effective laws to deal with that situation.
It is the Government’s intention to introduce shortly a Bill to deal with trade practices, monopolisation and other practices. These matters were not adequately dealt with under the legislation of the previous administration. This is one step which ought clearly to be taken to curb inflation. Senator Cotton spoke of the position on the stock market. The fact that the share market is suffering a severe drop in prices is no doubt explicable by a number of factors. Senator Cotton chose not to refer to the factor which is quite evident. If one studies newspapers of the past few months one sees evidence of the loss of confidence which arises quite naturally from the constant revelations of the operations which have gone on in the commercial field. Large sums of money have been raised from the public. There has been no adequate supervision. In fact in some cases members of the public have been robbed and in other cases their money has been frittered away by negligence. Extremely substantial sums have been involved. One of the reasons for the loss of confidence and the drop in prices may fairly be said to be the absence of that supervision which ought to be provided by a securities and exchange commission. That is merely one aspect of the matter; I am not suggesting that it is the only a .wer.
As a proper study of the Economic Survey by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development will reveal, the Government is facing a position which it has inherited from the previous Government. I suggest that that report should be read in full. I am by no means suggesting that all the things which the previous Government did were wrong or that everything would have continued badly if it remained in office. But to say that there was an excessive slowing of economic activity- that means a loss of real wealth to the community- is a pretty heavy indictment. The tasks for our Government are to maintain full employment, to maintain growth and development which we have already done and also to see whether we can put the curb on inflation and introduce more stability into prices than we have now. Everyone concedes that that is not an easy task, particularly when measures are being taken which are outside the Government’s control. There are movements internationally in currencies. Great changes are causing internal problems. The meat shortage outside Australia has had an evident effect on the cost of living here. The export of meat has caused a sudden increase in its price and that was one of the factors reflected in the recent cost of living increases. It is a very powerful factor.
How does the Government deal with this matter? We are trying to solve the problems as best we can. One of the most important factors, of course, was full employment. Out of those 3 factors, one can concede that this Government has produced the answer and will maintain the action producing that answer. The Government will do the best that it can in regard to price stability. If the measures which are being taken, particularly in regard to interest rates and the increase in yields, have an effect on the interest rates of housing and so forth, that result would be most unpalatable to a Labor Government and would be introduced only in order to overcome a consequence which was worse to the Australian community. As soon as possible the Government would seek to see to it that the interest rates, especially on housing, were at the lowest possible level. That is the result that we wish to achieve. The Government is to be commended for having taken measures on the advice that it has received and for doing the best it can. There may be questions raised by all of us as to the validity of what particular measures might be taken or how a package should be drawn. No one doubts that. But does anyone doubt that some kind of action had to be taken in the way that the Government is taking it? The Government is taking the action as it has been advised. As I say, the opinions of most people will differ, as economists will differ, on what is the appropriate measure and which economic weapon should be used in the best way to produce price stability. I heard some complaints made by honourable senators opposite. Senator Cotton made his argument fairly and said: ‘Here is the problem. You have not solved it’. But Senator Cotton was not putting forward a solution to the problem.
– I think I did.
– If the honourable senator said that he had a solution, it was a pity he did not give it to his own Government when it was in office. The OECD report on his own Government, to which he has referred, states that price stability had been lost under the previous Government, that there was excessive slowness in the economy and that economic activity had declined. We know that there was full employment. Each one of the factors that the honourable senator said should be borne in mind were problems that his own administration failed to rectify. If the honourable senator had a solution his Government did not act on it. On 2 of those factors it would have to be conceded on all sides that this Government has found the solution. One might say we are lucky, but at least we have found it. Our task is to deal with the third problem. We are right in the midst of that action and are coping as manfully as the Treasurer, who is a very wise man, can do. I think that the Australian people will greatly benefit from the guidance of the Federal Treasurer and his colleagues.
-The problem of inflation is of such importance that the Opposition has moved a motion to debate a matter of urgency which deals mainly with the problems related to consumer purchasing power, increased costs to home buyers and the damage to our export industries and local manufacturers together with the consequences of future unemployment as we on this side of the Senate see it. The 2 matters which prompted us to move the motion today were the Government’s action over the weekend, which was taken as a diversionary action, to revalue the Australian dollar, and the apparent intention to increase interest rates. During question time today Senator Murphy said, as will be seen in Hansard tomorrow: ‘Does anybody doubt the sincerity of the Government in attempting to find a cure for cost problems?’ The honourable senator was referring to the housing problem in the Australian Capital Territory. The statement was made, and I would agree with Senator Murphy. I read an intent of sincerity in the minds of Ministers. I think that they are attempting to do something to stop the rate of inflation which has come about. I do not wish to question their sincerity, but I believe that the outcome of the Government’s actions over the past 9 months are the best demonstration of its capability and the answer to the question. While the sincerity of the Ministers cannot be doubted, they are totally incapable of handling the problem and they are leading this country into disaster.
The Opposition refers to 2 matters. The first is the further revaluation of the Australian dollar. As I see it, it is a very serious matter and one which will have a great impact on certain sectors of the community. The exchange rate which is established for the Australian dollar against the currencies of other countries is of very far reaching importance to every sector of the Australian economy. Few decisions in the field of economic policy have such impact for good or ill as those decisions which governments must take from time to time in the fixation of exchange rates. A faulty assessment of the facts or misjudgment of the appropriate course of action on an exchange rate issue can, at a stroke, dramatically alter the prospects for industry and geographic regions and can materially affect the rate of national economic growth. While it can be said that the latest increase of 5 per cent does not appear to be particularly large when compared with those actions which have taken place during the 9 months that this Government has been in office, it can be seen to have a great influence. We have revalued against sterling to the extent of 54.9 per cent during that time. We have appreciated against the yen, which is one of the strongest currencies, by 10 per cent. If one realises that the overseas market for Australian goods is of such great importance to this country that it is the only means of real wealth to Australia, one can very easily say that present world commodity prices have, in all probability, reached a world peak. There is little likelihood that trading will take some of our primary commodities or our manufactured commodities to a very much higher figure. That would be my view.
I see the present revaluation of the Australian dollar, together with the 20-odd per cent revaluation which occured last DecemberJanuary as the seal on the prohibition of some of our manufactured goods going onto the export market. Undoubtedly honourable senators have gone to manufacturing industries which are in the export field and asked them how they are faring, anxious to know whether there will be a continuity of that which had been encouraged over the years- a generation of export incentive. While manufacturers had viewed their export business as being paper thin, I believe, in relation to profit, they had been able to compete with some of the large countries, increase their turnover in Australia and place goods on the Australian market at a more competitive price due to the generation of volume. So they had seen the export business as being of value. I could name half a dozen companies which have lost their total capacity to export. This will lead to a loss of employment in the Australian community. It may well lead industries to a diversity of production and perhaps a concentration on other and more profitable lines, and that is what must be done in this community. As Mr Hawke has said, it will lead to unemployment in this community. If that is the action which the Labor Party is taking at this time, I agree with the leaders of the trade union movement who say that the policy is inappropriate at present.
The revaluation of the dollar will have a great impact on our rural industries. It will have an impact on our manufactured industries which now account for 20 per cent of Australia’s total exports. These days the Government seems to be saying that the export industries in the mining, manufacturing and primary industries fields are certainly not viewed in a pleasant fashion by the Government. While it remains in power, which will be for some little time ahead due to bad luck, the Government will regret the action which it has taken in an attempt to dampen exports from the mining and other manufacturing industries in this country. There may be a change which one could argue would be to the good, in relation to the capital flow, but recently the London stock market, which incidentally is a larger market than the whole Australian stock market, has said that the Australian Government and the Australian people are faced with a proposition of being not wanted in that field of trade of our prime stocks which at one stage was a very valuable partner for Australia. I see the revaluation movement as having the effect of doing the greatest harm to our manufacturing industries.
There will be no benefit of cheaper prices in the community. The Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Murphy) said that the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) suggested that the effect would be a 5 per cent depreciation in prices of overseas goods. He forgot to mention that that was a variation of something in the vicinity of 27 per cent in the Australian dollar. When the Prime Minister and the Government have been challenged at question time they have not been able to name two or three items which have decreased in cost due to the Government ‘s policy of revaluing upwards the Australian dollar. The best that they have been able to say is that they think that prices have been held. The opposite has been the effect in the Australian community so far as prices and the cost of goods are concerned. I do not believe that the main impact has been caused by the revaluation upwards of the dollar. The revaluation upwards of the dollar will harm our export industries and our future employment situation, and I predict that within 6 or 8 months the Government will be finding some other excuse in an attempt to find employment in those industries which the Government is rapidly putting out of business.
The second leg of the matter of urgency is the increase in interest rates. This is a problem for the Government and for capable men to assess. I understand that the assessment was left in the hands of Mr Whitlam, Mr Crean and Mr Barnard. I would imagine that those 3 men have never had a hand in running a business in their lives. The Leader of the Government in the Senate was not included in discussions on the matter. Perhaps that indicates the way those three gauge the ability of other Ministers. Apparently a very tight decision was granted, that interest rates would be increased; but, as Senator Murphy said, it is totally opposed to the policy proclaimed by the Australian Labor Party of lower interest rates. A higher interest rate for any business can only increase costs. It may have, one could argue, the effect of attempting to dampen down an interest in borrowing which may at present inflate or increase prices of commodities, land and building. But unless an increase in interest rates is considered disastrous in the community, no moderate 1 per cent, 2 per cent or 3 per cent interest rate will ever deter a business from logically, in the requirements of its own affairs, having to borrow money for its particular on-going purposes, either of a revenue or capital purchase nature. It will be just an increase in costs so far as business is concerned, and I imagine that that cost will have to be passed on to the community.
Senator Murphy made some interesting comments and, as a Government member would, in criticising the Opposition he attempted to show that the Opposition when in government had done little better. I would argue against that suggestion. Over the past 20 years of the former anti-socialist government’s actions, I should think that the greatest criticism of that government came from those whom it is suggested are its greatest supporters- those in industry. The greatest argument that I can recall over that period was that the government of that time attempted to dampen down the economy so that the inflationary trend did not run further ahead. Figures can be quoted, such as those for the December quarter of 1972, which show that the average minimum weekly adult wage rose by 21.7 per cent, average weekly earnings by 22.1 per cent, the consumer price index by only 1 1.9 per cent while the gross operating surplus of companies rose by only 1 2.2 per cent. The person who benefited under the previous Government’s operations was certainly the wage and salary earner.
So the problem associated with inflation has been the actions- not the immediate actions- of the socialist government since it came to office. Does anybody doubt that its action of encouraging an increase in salaries, of increasing annual leave, of granting maternity leave and paternity leave and the hand-out of high and irresponsible levels of unemployment benefit did not encourage apathy in our community? Figures can be quoted to show that the productivity of Australian industry has fallen since Labor has been in power. In 1968 the annual increase in the consumer price index was 3.1 per cent, in 1969, 2.9 per cent, then 3.5 per cent and 5.5 per cent. For the 10 years 1962-1972 the average increase was 3.4 per cent under an anti-socialist government. The consumer price index is rising to astronomical limits and under the socialists is running now, I would think, at 10 per cent or 15 per cent.
The problem of housing, a subject with which I am familiar, was mentioned. Senator Murphy demonstrated the great problem raised by this Government of forcing on to the housing industry a burden of demand of production which it has been unable to meet. He gave a figure of 26 per cent greater increase in the allocation of funds to the private sector for building, and for defence needs 35 per cent. That demand has put a strain on the building industry which it cannot meet. This Government is responsible for the inflationary trend in the housing industry.
-In the urgency motion which it has moved today the Opposition has spoken in terms of revaluation reducing consumer purchasing power. But the real threat to consumer purchasing power is inflation, and consumers, who are basically the working man and his family, can only gain by measures that are taken to slow down the rate of inflation. I point out to all honourable senators that inflation is a problem not only within Australia; it is a worldwide problem. It is very rarely that economists agree but one issue on which they apparently do agree is that appreciation of monetary values is anti-inflationary. It is common ground among economists that inflation cannot be checked if the money supply increases excessively. The uncontrolled and excessive increase in the money supply in the second half of 1972 has created the condition of excessive liquidity of today, and that is causing the great problems that we as a government now face. As Senator Murphy pointed out in his remarks this afternoon, there was an increase of no less than 17 per cent in the money supply in the second half of 1972 when the previous Government was in office, and the high level of liquidity now prevailing is a legacy of the inaction of the previous Government. It was desperate just prior to the last election to eliminate unemployment in the Australian community, unemployment that it had created by its fiscal policies. It pumped large sums of money into circulation in the last half of 1972, before the election, to try to stem the tide. We had at the time of the election unemployment and inflation. This Government is on the road to solving unemployment and we are now by our fiscal measures setting out to solve the problem of inflation which, as I have said, not only is a problem in Australia but also is an international problem which basically affects the working man and his family.
This Government has taken determined measures to slow the growth of the money supply. To retard inflation it is a necessary precondition that the rate of increase in the money supply be curbed. What are the steps that the Government has taken since it came to office on 2 December last year? Three weeks after we came to government, towards the end of December last year, we revalued the dollar; we imposed controls on capital inflow both towards the end of last year and in February this year; by calls to the statutory reserve deposits of the trading banks and now by the recent measures the rate of growth in the money supply has been slowed markedly. Everyone, especially the young man who is purchasing land in order to build a home on it, is aware that speculation, particularly in land and property, builds up on borrowed and quickly turned-over money. The increase in interest rates which will result from revaluation is designed by the Government to make it more attractive for people to invest in government securities- and these can only be made more competitive with other assets including real assets by significantly increasing their yield. This measure is designed to provide a better deployment of resources. In order to make the purchasing and holding of government securities more attractive, they must be able to compete effectively with alternative forms of investment.
Inflation, which is robbing people by reducing the purchasing power of their savings, is responsible for pushing up the cost of housing and everything else. For instance, Senator Webster, Senator Cotton, and indeed my Leader, Senator Murphy, mentioned here this afternoon the problem in regard to housing. The flood of finance in fact is pushing up the demand for housing. The Treasury advises me that private dwelling approvals in recent months have run at an annual rate of almost 200,000. A year earlier- this was at a time of strong housing demand- the annual rate was 150,000. It has increased by 50,000 in 12 months. It is this competitive scramble which is really hurting the prospective home buyers.
Calculations that a higher interest rate will add so much a month to the cost of a given loan overlook the fact that the size of the loan needed is escalating out of control and it will be to the home buyers’ advantage if that escalation can be slowed. Yesterday an honourable senator opposite asked a question in which he suggested that the average repayment on a home would be increased by $15 to $18 a month. But the measures that we are taking are intended to have the effect of dampening down the price spiral. We have set out to do this in order to help the home buyers. At the present rate of price increase, a house which costs $15,000 today will cost $40,000 to $50,000 a decade from now. It is that trend rather than the higher interest cost which is the real enemy of the home buyer and the ordinary family man. The Government already has acted decisively to help those who most need help with their housing needs. At the Premiers Conference last June the Australian Government agreed to advance $2 19m to the States for welfare housing in 1973-74. That represented 26 per cent more than was advanced in 1972-73. The Government also has allocated $102m for defence service homes. That represents 38 per cent more than the previous Government allocated in 1972-73.
But, the housing aspect apart, it should always be remembered that the little man, the working man, is a lender as well as a borrower. The fact is that real interest rates on loans and deposits in banks and on government securities are negative at today’s rate of inflation. The simple fact is that the borrower is getting a better deal than the lender, and it should be remembered who the lender is. For example, who is it but the little men who hold more than $ 10,000m in deposits with savings banks, the proceeds of which are invested in government securities and housing loans? The simple fact is that it is the more affluent people in the community who can direct their savings into assets that are better protected against inflation.
Something is said in the matter of urgency about the damage that will be caused to export industries and local manufacturers. This is exactly what was said after the larger revaluation of December last year, 3 weeks after this Government assumed office. But the simple fact is that exports are booming and manufacturing industry, after a sluggish year last year, has now got back into top gear. The suggestions that a 5 per cent appreciation will have really serious consequences, 1 submit, are ludicrous. The export price index to June 1 973 rose by 32 per cent compared with last year. That puts the 5 per cent revaluation into perspective. Exports are continuing to rise strongly. In the 3 months to August they were at the level of $ 1,701m, which was no less than $383 above the level in the corresponding months of 1972. So much for that portion of the matter of urgency.
The Opposition has referred to the consequences of unemployment in affected industry. This might have been a valid point a year ago when the previous Government was in office and the labour market was slack; but I suggest that at this time that argument is a bit thin. Unfilled vacancies in labour exchanges now total 70,000 compared with 28,000 a year ago. Unemployment is at the level of 67,000 compared with 93,000 a year ago. Overtime worked in industry is well above the previous level. So, it just is not realistic to be talking about significant employment problems. As everyone in this Senate and in the Parliament is aware, the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) promised assistance to industries affected, as he did at the time of the December revaluation.
Inflationary pressures come from too much money chasing too few goods. The Australian Government is acting to increase sales of government securities in order to mop up liquidity. Higher interest rates will help to do this. But that is not the primary objective of increasing interest rates. Domestically there is a need to soak up liquidity by draining off funds from the private sector into government securities. The object is not to impose a credit squeeze but to achieve a reallocation of investment resources. We suggest that the increase in the interest rates on government securities will encourage more savings and reduce the rush to spend on the part of those who are fearful of inflation. Because of the fear of what the purchasing power of the dollar might be in 3 months’ time there is a tendency in the community to get in now and spend up. People in the community believe that the value of the dollar now is better than it will be in 3 months’ time. Of course, that of itself is adding to the inflationary pressures on the economy.
The increase in the interest rates on government securities will encourage more savings on the part of the worker and the family man and thus reduce the rush to spend. It will alter the present imbalance between the earnings on financial assets, such as government securities, and those on other assets. It will drain off excessive liquidity and possibly- hopefully- take the edge off the land and property boom. All of these measures that this Government has taken, beginning with the revaluation 3 weeks after we achieved office and continuing with the other steps that we have taken, have been designed as anti-inflationary measures.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Durack)- Order! The Minister’s time has expired.
– 1 speak in favour of the matter of urgency in this motion which condemns the Government’s action. One recognises that there has been an unprecedented amount of inflation in the last few years. But that is not what we are discussing; we are discussing whether the steps taken by the Government have been reasonable and whether they are likely to be successful. Firstly I wish to refer to the revaluation of the Australian dollar. Australia’s currency has been revalued 3 times in the short period of office of this Government. This has created a condition of complete uncertainty at home and abroad as to what is likely to be the ultimate fate of Australia’s currency. We should try to understand what this revaluation means to Australia from the point of view of the average person. It is not so important internally to the average person who works for a living as the increase in interest rates may be. However, revaluation does have a far-reaching effect. The effect reaches the average person in our community although such people are in no position to take advantage of it, as perhaps are those with extreme wealth who can speculate on the market. We notice that a fortnight or 3 weeks before the Government took action last weekend, for some reason unknown to anybody, people overseas, particularly on the London market, began to unload blue chip Australian shares likely to be affected if there was an upward revaluation of our currency. There is some proof that some information on the moves that were contemplated must have escaped in spite of the fact that Ministers who were going abroad in Australia’s interests, such as the Minister for Overseas Trade and Minister for Secondary Industry (Dr Cairns), were not informed. Somehow or other the London market at least got a tip-off. The only other reason that could be given for unloading prime Australian securities some two or three weeks ago on the London market was the high rate of interest operating in that country as compared with what was operating here. It was suggested at that time that the reason why English institutions and private holders of stocks such as shares in Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd were unloading their blue chip holdings was to reinvest their capital in Australian shares, that they would gain capital from the revaluation of Australian currency and would get about a 25 per cent premium before investing in the high interest rate market of the United Kingdom. That was the reason given. Unfortunately those circumstances had existed for a long time. It seems to be a strange coincidence that only a few weeks before the revaluation decision was taken the Australian share market in London was affected detrimentally so far as Australia was concerned in that blue chip Australian stocks were unloaded. It would appear that whatever security measures were taken by the Government somebody somewhere got the drift of the possibility of events such as this and took advantage of the situation.
How does revaluation affect the average man in the street? Overseas currency rates do not affect such a person very much except for the fact that shirts and shoes from Hong Kong can now be bought in greater numbers with Australian dollars and sold in Australian shops at cheaper prices, in competition with Australian produced articles. If we add the 5 per cent currency revaluation to the effect of the 25 per cent cut in tariffs on those items, yes, the decision will hit the Australian man in the street, the men who work in boot factories and the girls who work in shirt factories. It will affect such people engaged in those secondary types of industries throughout Australia on which we depend for a great proportion of our industrial employment. People are going to find that the goods they are manufacturing cannot compete on the Australian market. This could bring depression to those areas. The possibility of exporting those types of products recedes enormously following this revaluation.
Taking those circumstances into consideration, the employment picture painted by the Government will not necessarily be carried out in the next 6 months as the impact of these measures hits the market. Retailers in this country, such as Myers- I believe that Myers is a great supporter of the Government- can gain tremendous advantage because they can buy in eastern markets goods which they can unload on Australian consumers to the detriment of Australian workers. Such retailers can obtain enormous advantage from this decision by the Government. It is said that the decision was taken in the interests of controlling inflation in this country. It may in some measure cause unemployment in Australia and to that extent ultimately it may succeed. At the same time it will make a pound of Australian beef cost more Hong Kong dollars on the Hong Kong market and on other markets abroad, but the Australian farmer will receive no increased income. Australian farmers still will be selling at the old Australian price, but more dollars will be required overseas to buy his goods. Therefore that market is likely to contract in accordance with the capacity of people to pay the higher prices necessary to buy those goods. That is not a very encouraging picture for Australian primary producers.
Therefore revaluation will hit 2 sectors. It will hit the workers in the factories and it will hit the workers on the farms. At the same time it will advantage the retailers, the speculators and moneyed interests in the community. This sort of thing I could understand from a government that is not labour oriented but I cannot understand it of this Government that professes to be labour oriented. The Government must be doing this in complete ignorance of the consequences to the working people, to people working on farms and in factories. I cannot understand why the Government has taken a step such as this after having taken similar steps on 2 occasions previously since coming to office.
It is not possible to cover the ramifications of the whole question in the 15 minutes that I have to speak while the Senate proceedings are being broadcast, but by using simple illustrations I want to demonstrate the consequences to the people of this step. Members of the Labor Party have shown little interest in educating themselves by listening to the opinions of others in this debate. There have not been 5 or 6 Labor supporters in this chamber during this debate and there has not been more than one Minister present. They would like people in the streets to think that they are experts in the field of economics. They portray to us a Treasurer (Mr Crean) who, on his admission when he gained office, gave as his greatest qualification to run the finances of this country the fact that having been a member of Parliament for upwards of 30 years he ultimately had managed to pay off a humble dwelling he bought in Port Melbourne, Melbourne, for some eight hundred pounds in the days when properties were cheap.
I have to say this: I would have more confidence today in a Labor Treasurer who had started as a newsboy and became a successful business man. At least I would know that he had gained some experience of the business qualifications which are necessary to run the economy. Perhaps that is the reason why Labor men stood up and supported me on the numerous occasions on which I condemned the previous Government for resorting to the fallacious economic theory that higher interest rates would control inflation. I pointed out to that government that over the period of 1 5 years in which it had indulged in this practice it had not controlled inflation. I received great commendation and support from Labor senators. Some even stood and repeated what I said, almost in magpie-like fashion. Now I can understand that they did not know what they were talking about because they have completely changed their coats.
– They still do not know.
-They still do not know. Suddenly, in some mysterious manner known only to the purists in the theories of economics, who strangely enough are like Mr Crean in that they have never succeeded as businessmen or handled money to their own advantage, they believe that we should have high interest rates. How in the devil can such people handle money to the advantage of the people of Australia? Let us consider the supposed reaction of higher interest rates and compare that with what actually happens. The purist theory on interest rates is that if you increase interest rates it will have the effect that borrowers will borrow less because it is dearer to borrow money. It sounds all right, but we will examine it in a minute.
In a period of inflation lenders have to ensure that they get a return for their money, particularly in long term lending. They must cover, with the interest that they receive, at least the rate of inflation that is occurring. Persistently in periods of inflation they demand higher interest rates to cover that risk factor, and quite naturally so. As long as interest rates remain fixed and steady lenders tend not to lend. It is not good business, is it? But then the Government suddenly increases interest rates by an unknown amount. We have heard rumours that they will be increased by between 1 per cent and 2 per cent. So the lenders suddenly unbutton their pockets and start looking for borrowers. But in theory the borrowers will borrow less if you increase interest rates. Is that fact or fiction?
I have read all the banking reports over the years, and it is a strange thing that the banks always report that overdrafts become buoyant when interest rates are increased. Of course they become buoyant. People in industry are encouraged to borrow money in order to expand industries because they know full well that onehalf of what they borrow, anyway, is allowed as a tax deductible item and they do not pay the increased rate of interest at all. The only person who really suffers is the poor little home buyer who borrows money merely to build a home in which to live. But anybody borrowing money for the purpose of investment- to get a productivity as a return- knows full well that the rate of interest is not of very much concern to him at all. If he is paying a rate of 9 per cent interest, in actual fact after taxation is taken into consideration he would be unlucky if he were paying a rate of four and a half per cent interest. The rest is taken up by taxation deductions because he i- borrowing money in the interests of earning income.
What effect has this latest move had on the stock market? We have seen Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd shares, which, 5 years ago were worth $ 19 a share, fall to $6.90 a share. If the theory was correct that higher interest rates prevented people from lending or borrowing money, why are Australian investors- forget what I have said already about overseas investors- unloading blue chip shares on the market today?
– You are overrating yourself.
-Senator McAuliffe should give me a logical argument to defeat my argument. He should not give a lot of silly nonsense just to hide the fact that he is ignorant of the subject which we are discussing. Australian investors are unloading blue chip shares on the market today. They are withdrawing their money from investments in industries that will create goods to meet the demands on the market and they are putting it into straightout loan money transactions. Why are they doing that if the Government’s theory that higher interest rates will reduce the number of borrowers is right? By increasing interest rates you do not reduce the number of borrowers. All that you do is to encourage a greater number of lenders and the capacity at which they are prepared to lend. Instead of being a brake on the market, as is suggested in the pure theory of economics, the practical businessman will tell you that very often the action of increasing interest rates, without imposing many other restrictions to go with it, operates in an entirely contrary manner. Higher interest rates themselves not only are a considerable contributing factor in price increases but also hit right at the heart of what the Government is trying to accomplish. They can stimulate the circulation of money and credit within the community rather than deter it. At the same time that the Government is carrying out that stimulation it is encouraging people to withdraw their investment in the creative and productive market which would provide the extra goods to meet the demand. It is said that the intention is to encourage people to invest in straightout Government bonds that carry tax remissions. If in this futile experiment interest rates increase in this country as they have in some other countries, although none of these countries has succeeded in controlling inflation by this experiment, we will reach the stage where the Government is actually encouraging -
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Durack)- Order! The honourable senator’s time has expired.
- Senator Little has posed in this chamber as the Montague Norman of the Australian Democratic Labor Party, but he and all of his colleagues are living in a state of anxiety neurosis. They are wondering what will happen to their merger with the Australian Country Party because if it does not come off they, as a political party, will face voluntary liquidation and become politically bankrupt. So why should we accept the financial advice of Senator Little as the guiding light in the treasury department of the Democratic Labor Party when members of that Party cannot keep their heads above water? Let us return to something which is a little more sensible in this debate. The only sensible contribution that Senator Little made was to say that the period of 15 minutes which is given to each speaker does not allow him to do justice to such a far reaching subject. One would require at least 2 hours and a week’s research to deal adequately with all the conditions that are laid down in the matter of urgency that has been raised today.
Most speakers on the Opposition side have endeavoured to draw attention to inflation because they feel that this can be a political weapon with which they might bring down this Government. But we on this side of the chamber are aware of the seriousness of inflation. We realise, as any responsible government would realise, that inflation is a matter of great concern. I thought that the Treasurer (Mr Crean) was quite frank in his
Budget Speech when he said that inflation is one of the major problems facing the Government and one with which the Government will grapple in the future. Of course, honourable senators opposite would have the people who are listening to the broadcast of these proceedings and honourable senators in the chamber believe that inflation has been manufactured by the Australian Labor Party and that its rate of acceleration has been caused by the fact that the Australian Labor Party won the last election. What rot that is. I can recall that in 1 949 the Menzies Government was elected to power on the promise and pledge that it would put value back into the pound. After 23 years of uninterrupted antiLabor government, the former governments have betrayed that promise and repudiated that pledge.
At the time when the Opposition parties took control of the Government benches in 1949 the rate of inflation was 8.4 per cent. But after the first Fadden Budget was introduced the rate cif inflation rose to 12.2 per cent.. After the second Fadden Budget was introduced- and I want honourable senators opposite to listen carefully to this- the rate of inflation in this country was 22.2 per cent- a figure never known previously in the history of Australia. That was the inflationary situation. In 1949 when the Opposition parties came to Government with the promise to put value back into the pound, the rate of inflation was 8.4 per cent. After 2 Budgets it had increased ‘ to 22.2 per cent. Those figures should be well known to honourable senators opposite, but all that they seem to want to do is to sabotage or torpedo the inititatives or policies that this Government wants to introduce.
– What was the rate of inflation in 1944?
– Those figures are there. They are not just figures concocted by me. If Senator Young thumbs through the history in the Hansard of this Parliament he will find that after the second Fadden Budget was introduced the rate of inflation was 22.2 per cent. If the honourable senator wants to come closer to home- and he has not done his homework on this subject- we will talk of inflation at the present time. The Leader of the Opposition in the other place (Mr Snedden) is on record as having said that he left the country with a rate of inflation of 4.8 per cent, whereas it is now running at 13.2 per cent. 1
– That is quite right.
-That is what Mr Snedden is on record as saying, and Senator Carrick says that that is quite right. Senator Carrick may be interested to know that the leading article in the ‘Australian Financial Review’ of 23 August 1973 exploded that theory and dealt with the nonsense that came from the mouth of the Leader of the Opposition. The article claimed that Mr Snedden arrived at his figures by multiplying the December increase in the consumer price index by four and then told the people of Australia that that was the annual rate of inflation.
It is well known by honourable senators opposite that the policy adopted by Mr Snedden in the August Budget he brought down was not to interfere with items that came within the consumer price index. That is well known in this chamber. That fact was highlighted at the time. By not interfering with items that came within the consumer price index he was able to ensure that there was an artificially low index. That was the simple exercise. One could not say that it was a cooked up arrangement, but one could use the language of the Treasury and say that it was a cosmetic touch-up. That was the position at that time. The index figures for the December quarter were purposely kept low.
Let us analyse the 13.2 per cent rate of inflation that is being talked about by the Leader of the Opposition. It was arrived at by the same exercise, that is, by multiplying the figure for the June quarter by 4 and presenting it as the annual figure. Of course the figure for the June quarter was inflated, but there were inflationary factors in the June quarter over which the present Government had no control whatsoever because it had not been in power long enough to control them. Do I have to remind honourable senators that the consumer price index figures for the quarter ending June 1973 show, for example, that the price of meat had risen by 1 1 per cent and that the price of winter clothing had risen by 1 1 .2 per cent? They were increases over which the present Government had no control. The blame for the inflationary trend lies at the feet of those who have been the accusers today. It is a case of the biter having been bitten. What a hide the Opposition has to say that the accelerating or galloping rate of inflation has been caused by the action of the present Government.
Senator Little said that improved living standards were brought about by the previous Government and that his Party supported it. He said that his Party attacked the previous Government over inflation but was more or less proud of its record in improving the living standard of
Australians. I claim that as a result of 23 years of Liberal-Country Party Government it now costs more to live in any capital city of Australia than it costs to live in New York. That may appear an alarming statement, but it is the truth. Honourable senators do not have to take my word for it; they can take the word of the American Chamber of Commerce, which carried out a survey in Australia at the end of 1971. Its survey covered a basket of 55 items ranging from meat to fresh and frozen vegetables, groceries, fruit and sundry other items. The lowest cost for that basket of items in any capital city in any State of Australia was $32.83. That was in Adelaide. The cost in the dearest capital city, which was Sydney, was $34.39. That survey was conducted in 1971 by a responsible organisation, that is the American Chamber of Commerce. What was the cost of the same basket of items in New York? It was $35.7 1 . In other words, it was approximately $3 more than the cost in Adelaide and $ 1 more than the cost in Sydney.
But let us look at the matter in its true perspective and consider what percentage of the average weekly earnings the cost of the basket represented. The cost of the basket of 55 items in Sydney at $34.39 represented 40.5 per cent of the then average weekly earnings of $84.80. The cost of the same basket in New York of $35.71 represented 29 per cent of the then average weekly earning in the United States of $ 123.57. How can Opposition senators claim that during their period in government the standard of living was, as Senator Little claimed, the best in the world? The cost of living in any Australian State has become dearer than it is in New York City.
– I never mentioned the standard of living.
- Senator Little does not know what he mentioned. The Hansard report will show what he had to say. I have taken him up on this point to show that after 23 years of administration of this country by an antiLabor Government all we have to show is that the cost of living in any capital city of Australia is higher than the cost of living in New York City. Of course, everyone knows of the inflationary trend in the United States of America. Another point I wish to deal with is the statement by Senator Cotton about it being an Australian tradition to own one’s own block of land and the home upon it.
– Do you agree?
Senator MccAULIFFEOf course I agree. But that tradition will soon be no more.
– I will tell Senator Cotton why. Honourable senators opposite should not come in too quickly because they will be shown as the cause of the trouble. The minimum price of an average block of land in an average suburb in Brisbane is $6,500 at present. The cost of building an average wooden home on that block of land is $12,000. By adding the $6,500 for the average block of land in an average suburb to the $12,000 cost of an average wooden home one arrives at a total price of $18,500. In order to obtain a building society loan for such a home, taking into consideration the charges imposed and the stamp duty, one would have to find a deposit of $4,200. To be able to obtain such a loan one also would have to have an earning capacity of $115 a week. I ask: How can anybody earning the average weekly wage of $ 100 or lower expect to be in the race to own his own home? Honourable senators opposite will say that is the situation which exists today. I say that is the result of 23 years administration of this country by an anti-Labor Government.
Many years ago the land component in the purchase of a home and land was 25 per cent; today it is 50 per cent. What is the cause of that? The cause of this inflation- a type which is more serious than increases in items in the consumer price index- is the non-productive land speculator about whom the previous Government did nothing during its 23 years in office. I claim that a land gains tax must be introduced. I think it is long overdue. One should be introduced as quickly as possible and in such a way that the tax cannot be passed on. I believe that this may mean allowing a certain percentage per annum in capital gains to be made. An allowance of 7 per cent per annum may have to be made. But any additional increase on top of that should be taxed at the rate of 100 per cent. I think that is the only way in which we are going to be able to reduce land prices and make land available to those young people who are desirous of owning their own home as well as restore in the community the chance to achieve the old ambition of everybody to own his own land and a home upon it.
If time permitted I could give the reasons why the price of land is so high today. The speculator and the land developer are responsible. But my time is about to expire. What I have to say in that respect will be kept for the Budget debate. I strongly oppose the urgency motion sponsored by Senator Cotton. I hope that the Senate will give it the treatment which it deserves and throw it out.
– It is well to remind the Senate that we are debating an urgency motion brought forward by the Opposition because of its very great apprehension that the actions taken last weekend by the Labor Government, ostensibly in an antiinflationary way, will in fact do great future damage to the whole Australian community and, notably, to the ordinary family. The urgency motion deals with the culmination of a series of events of great inflation and concentrates specifically upon the 5 per cent revaluation of the Australian currency and the indication by the Government that it proposes to raise all interest rates in the near future by an unspecified amount. These matters lead us to tell the Australian people that such policies will drastically reduce the purchasing power of all Australiansworkers, superannuitants, pensioners and the young people. In fact, the cost of all home buying will be forced up including the cost to those who have been paying off their homes for years and to those who hope to buy in the future. Our export industries will be damaged severely as will our local manufacturers. In the long term unemployment will be created and, in fact, the policies will do nothing at all to deal with the greatest of the domestic evils- inflation.
The important thing which came out of this debate today came out of the mouth of the Attorney-General (Senator Murphy). He said in effect that of course these measures will not control inflation, that more measures will be necessary. This ought to be a clear warning to the Australian people that the Labor Government intends more and more punitive measures. Of course, it will be silent until after the Parramatta by-election on 22 September. But let the people of Australia understand that the Labor Government is on a punitive expedition. It will make the people pay for its mistakes. This admission by Senator Murphy that these measures will not control inflation is of great importance; there will be more to come. Everybody should keep this in mind. It is fascinating to listen to the alibi of the Labor Government today. In December the Labor Party, with full knowledge of all the factors of the economy said: ‘Put us in. We will reduce the current inflation. We will, in fact, discharge all our policies.’ Make no mistake: The Department of the Treasury which is an objective body said of the period when we, the Liberal Government, left office:
Some levelling off and reversal of the rate of price increases was emerging and some mild optimism as to the future course of prices did seem warranted.
Within the last few weeks Treasury said that in December of last year, when this Government took over, price inflation was under control and, in fact, there was a turning downwards and there was every reason for optimism. That is what Treasury said; but what has happened? The current inflation has been caused by this Government. It is entirely responsible. The Government is running away from those measures which are available to it and which, if carried out, could reduce inflation without great hurt to the Australian people. The Government elects to use blunt instruments because it is a captive of its left wing trade union masters. It will not enter into any of the fields of inflation control. They will be denied to the Government. Make no mistake at all. The causes of inflation today are created by the Government. It was this Government which embarked upon a great widening of spending in the public sector, an enormous widening. It took the decision to have a substantial Budget deficit when every indication- if it anticipated a boomwas to reduce the deficit and balance the Budget. Of course the Government knew this in July and August when it brought down the Budget. It directed some 10,000 more people out of the private and productive sector of the community into the public and non-productive sector, therefore deliberately creating inflation. The Government deliberately reduced the amount of employment in the private sector and the number of people available to produce.
Now we come to the choice remark. It is remark No. 2 of the day by the Minister for the Media (Senator Douglas McClelland) who was the second Minister to speak. He sought to unravel the economics of what the Government is doing and he said that ‘inflation is caused by too much money chasing too few goods’. What is this Government going to do? It is proceeding under that premise to say: ‘No, we do not intend to increase the production of goods. That, of course, would be the Liberal and the sensible solution. We will not do that. We will maintain the scarcity of goods by strikes, go-slows and pressure from the political left wing of the Labor Party. But we will reduce the amount of money by taking it out of the pockets of the little people. ‘ In fact, that is what is happening. Let nobody think that there is anything very clever in economics. As one who has studied it over the years let me try to explain what the Government is saying. It is saying: ‘For your good you should have less money at a time when goods are costing more. Do not worry. Leave it to us. ‘ Yesterday I asked Senator Murphy to unravel a mystery for me. The mystery is how the Government proposes, by increasing interest rates, to assist the economy. The effect of the increase will be to make goods, commodities and services in this community substantially dearer. How does the Government propose by increasing prices to reduce prices? It is simple economics. Here is a government in a mad hatter’s tea party saying to the people: ‘We are going to make things dearer so that they will be cheaper. ‘ That is the proposition. Of course they will be cheaper for the reason that people will not have the money to buy them. So of course there will not be too few goods, because people will not have the money to buy them. Another demonstration of the wondrous economics of Senator Douglas McClelland today was when he spoke about home buyers. He said: ‘Yes, it is sad that perhaps a 1 per cent increase in the interest rate will put up the interest cost of homes by about $ 1 5 to $ 1 8 a month in the next week or two, but think what it will do to bring down the cost of homes in the future. ‘
To the nearly 3 million Australian families who at this moment are paying off their homes I say that next week or the week after- probably the week after, because that will be after the Parramatta by-election- every one of them will be paying substantially more by way of interest rates for their homes. I ask the Government: Will you please explain to this Senate in simple economics how those who have already bought a home, are paying it off and living in it will, by paying higher interest rates, reduce the cost of a house which is to be built in 5 or ten years’ time? This is the essence, the quintessence of lunacy. But let the Government say to the 3 million families in Australia: ‘ Look, it is good for you that we have increased the interest rate say by 1 per cent because you will pay $ 1 5 to $20 a month more in interest. If we put it up by 2 per cent’- as is estimated today by the building societies- ‘then everybody and not only new home buyers but also old ones as well will pay between $20 and $40 a month more in interest without reducing the capital indebtedness of their homes at all. ‘ This is the proposition which the Government advances to reduce inflation. Senator Little was abundantly right. By raising the interest rate across the board you raise the cost of an overdraft and therefore every firm has increased costs. Every firm which operates on an overdraft finds that it costs more and it passes on that cost to the people.
Let us point out these things. Today Senator Murphy said that there will not be unemployment. But Mr Clyde Cameron said: ‘Oh yes, there will be 30,000 or so unemployed because of the tariff cuts’. Incidentally, it is a beautiful thought that Mr Crean is on record as saying in earlier months that he did not agree with across the board tariff cuts. He said that they should be made on an industry to industry basis. But never mind; he now sees the light on this matter. Mr Clyde Cameron says: ‘Yes, we will have 30,000 or so people unemployed’. He says to those people: ‘But do not worry. We will adjust you’. Let n tell the ordinary Australian people that he -ill move them around like pawns on a chess board. Let him tell the ordinary Australian housewife who is battling hard that he will relocate her not to a suburb near where she is presently living but somewhere else. Let him tell the decentralised industries in the country that they will be closed down and the country towns will be closed down. The Government says that it will allocate $2 5 m to do this. This is absolute nonsense.
Let me call another witness on this subject. All the witnesses I have called this afternoon have been members of the Labor Government itself. I now call a choice witness, Mr Tonkin, who for the very short time being is the Labor Premier of Western Australia. He is, without a doubt, the strongest attacker of the measures taken last weekend. He sees in them serious damage to the whole of the economy and the people of Western Australia. Is he raising propaganda? Today Senator Young talked quite properly about the fact that the automotive industry in Adelaide is in grave difficulties. The Labor Government’s way of approaching this is twofold: It introduces new manufacturers and also strangles the industry by it not being able to obtain steel plate. The answer from Senator Murphy was: ‘Do not worry; the Premier there will look after the position’. Nobody in the Labor Party is worrying about Mr Tonkin, the Premier of Western Australia. So, in point of fact, measure by measure these measures have been condemned by the Labor Party.
Senator Murphy spoke today with absolute humbug when he mouthed support for these policies. He admits that during years gone bylast year and the year before- he stood in the Parliament and rejected, one by one, every doctrine that he mouthed today. In fact, he rejected the doctrine of higher interest rates. The whole Labor Party is opposed to this. How can Labor Party members say what we have heard them say today? Senator Douglas McClelland said that we must realise, of course, who the real lender is. The real lender is the one who benefits by higher interest rates. He said he is the little man, financially, because the little men are the ones who have tens of thousands of millions of dollars in savings bank accounts. But savings bank accounts return an interest rate of about 4 per cent per annum. If inflation runs at 10, 12 or 15 per cent a year, the Government is robbing him.
Let every person in Australia today understand this: If inflation is running at 10 per cent each year every $100 of savings is reduced by $10; it is worth only $90. If inflation runs at 20 per cent- that is likely to be the rate soon- this will simply take from the people $20 in every $100. Let the Government explain to the people of Australia how robbing them of the money in their savings bank account, how robbing the pensioners who under the Labour Government cannot hope ever to keep pace with inflation, how reducing the purchasing power of the pensioner and how weakening the Western Australian economy and weakening manufacturers will be good for the people.
Senator Little was right when he said: What about the people in the textile industries, the electronics industry and the footwear industry? When the current very temporary world shortage of goods is broken and there is a flood of such goods into this country, the people in those industries are the ones who will suffer. I repeat that the Government’s financial policy is an instrument to cover its gross mistakes that it cannot run away from. It is covering its mistakes by taking it out of the hide of the average Australian family. We members of the Senate Opposition flatly reject this.
-We reject the urgency motion that is presently before the Senate on the ground that the Government has undertaken to help Australia overcome the legacy that it inherited from the previous Government. That Government had been in power for 23 years. It had a fiscal policy which was unpredictable in any section of the community. Under it we had a series of semi-booms and periods of considerable unemployment. Earlier an honourable senator mentioned the position on the stock exchange. We saw fluctuations in the prices of stocks with every spiv around the country being able to exploit the small stockholder. We saw more scandals involving finance than the country had ever seen before. To be quite candid, Australia at the present time is suffering from a hangover from the previous Government. It is a hangover from the inheritance of a stop-go, boom and bust, unpredictable financial policy. So, we make no apologies to the Opposition or to Senator Cotton about these matters today.
We want the people of Australia to know that this Government is coming to grips basically with the problems of a reduction in consumers’ purchasing power and increased costs to home buyers. We know that during the latter pan of 1 972 the rate of inflation was greater than it had ever been before in our history. The previous Government hoped that it would be able to buy votes with its last Budget. But the voting public of Australia had realised that that Government was no good to them and that the country was being sold out to overseas investors. Multinational companies had their octopus grip around the industries of this country. For that reason, the people threw that Government out on its neck. After 8 months of application to the great task of trying to put Australia back on to its feet, we are being criticised by an Opposition that did nothing although it was in government for 23 yearsfor a generation, nearly a quarter of a century. After this Government has been in power for 8 months, the Opposition has the temerity to attack it for a reduction in the consumers’ purchasing power and increased costs to home buyers.
What have we seen in the past in the timber industry with which Senator Cotton has been associated for such a long time? We have seen the whole of that industry charge the building industry prices which were passed on and which in turn inflated the cost of houses. We have seen, as often has been debated in the Parliament, the effects of the thief inflation that takes away purchasing power, particularly that of those in the community who are least able to withstand the loss. I refer to those on fixed incomes, the aged and the invalid and other less fortunate people in the community. This process has been built into our economic system. We are making a very strong attempt to adjust the economy. I can understand the frustration of members of the Opposition. When their own policy is being shown up in such sharp relief they want to find a way out from under and a way to criticise the present Government.
Reference is made to damage to export industries and local manufacturers. I draw the attention of honourable senators opposite to the reports in the Press during the last month or 6 weeks which deal with the tremendously improved profits of so many organisations throughout Australia. I saw in one financial column reference to the depression on the stock exchange- and quite frankly rightly so. If Senator Rae and some of his colleagues who sit on the Senate Select Committee on Securities and Exchange were to hurry up and present their report the reasons why the Australian people have lost confidence in the activities of the stock exchange would be shown. The stock exchange was inhabitated and dominated by people many of whom were most unscrupulous. Proof of my claim is to be found in the scandals associated with Armstrong, Barton, Eskell and the Minsec organisation and all the other economic scoundrels who were allowed to operate in Australia. The previous Government did nothing about that situation. Honourable senators opposite talk about damage to export industries and local manufacturers. But the facts are that in the past 6 weeks we have seen the annual reports of countless companies showing economic buoyancy never before equalled. Myers, Woolworths and other big retail and chain stores and industries around Australia have all presented most buoyant annual reports and shown higher profit returns.
I challenge the next speaker on the Opposition side to tell me what section of the export industry is being damaged by the Government’s action. Let us look at the export beef industry. We find that more than 60 per cent of our beef production is being exported. If this situation continues it will greatly damage our local domestic market. It will be practically impossible for the Australian beef consumer- beef represented a great percentage of the diet of Australians in the past- to buy beef as he has done down through the generations. The export beef industry has never been so buoyant in its whole history. I want to know what damage has been done to the export industries and what damage has been done to local manufacturers. We heard a great hoo-haa at the time of revaluation in December. The facts show that actually the Australian dollar has held a very good value on the world market. The Australian dollar would be one of the most stable currencies in the whole world. We can pay dollar for dollar- and more- and this is more than the international economists think about other currencies such as the United States dollar and sterling for that matter.
It is not the strength of our currency thai has caused the alteration in value. Overseas monetary manipulation has affected the Australian dollar and has given rise to the need for adjustments to be made to the Australian dollar. Also, I warn members of the Opposition that we have to be very careful that we do not import the effects of overseas inflation. Many of our importers and local manufacturers are obtaining some of the components of their products from overseas. Prices in Japan, Hong Kong and the United Kingdom are all rising. In turn we are inheriting and importing inflation from those countries.
That is the unkindest cut of all as its consequence is unemployment. The records of employment in this country reveal that never since the War when we had to put every man jack of our employable forces into either the armed services or some industry have we had such a high ratio of employment. It was said earlier in this debate that we have more vacancies than there is manpower to fill them. We have plans to retrain and educate people to new skills which they need to acquire in addition to skills taught in their early days and to reduce the number of unskilled people in our community. The employment picture that we paint is very much brighter than has ever existed before for employees and the working people of this country.
It is my view- and it is held quite widely- that the claim that the consequence of affected industries will be unemployment is a false charge against us for the simple reason that many people welcome a change from the monotony of the humdrum mechanisation of industry today. We saw an illustration of this in the motor industry. Many new Australians, through their lack of knowledge of the English language and perhaps lack of means to move from area to area, must continue to experience the humdrum monotony of the chain system of production. Out of frustration and because they had no opportunity to get away from the monotony of their jobs they went on the rampage. It is our view that it does not do people any harm to change their jobs. The fact is that one in every five families in Australia today is leaving its home voluntarily for a change of environment. This is different from what we used to see in the old days when people were absolutely chained to the one home, the one suburb and the one job all their lives. Today, promotions come along and opportunities are available. People can live much more fruitful and interesting lives if they are not chained to the one job all their lives. The idea that a person is a slave, chained to his boss and unable to move, has gone. We do not accept that any longer. We believe in the dignity of the human being and in his ability to contribute to the national product. He is a valuable unit in the society. We value his contribution to the national production of this country. We wish to improve his terms and conditions of employment, the conditions under which he lives and the quality of life that he can expect.
The subject matter of this debate is what we are being criticised on. We wish to lay the foundations and to show that all previous values must be reconsidered and improvements achieved. A further section in the urgency motion says: the consequence of unemployment in affected industries, without any significant import on Australia’s inflationary problems, of the Government’s dollar revaluation and the action to increase interest rates.
The policy of the Government has been quite clearly stated by the Prime Minister. He admits that inflation is the major economic problem facing us today. As we all know, inflation robs people by reducing the purchasing power of their savings. It is altering the distribution of income, often in an arbitrary way. This is not new to us because we have anticipated this situation. We constantly criticised the previous Government because of its lack of action in coming to grips with this problem. As a consequence we are fighting inflation on every front we can. If we feel that revaluation is of assistance we will revalue. If we feel that tariff cuts can be of assistance, we will review our tariff policy. There is no simple solution which can be achieved by adopting one line of policy. We believe that certain powers should reside in the Australian Parliament. The Parliament should have the power to be able to control prices. We hope that a referendum seeking to give the Parliament that power will soon be held.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Prowse)- Order! The honourable senator’s time has expired.
- Senator O ‘Byrne quoted from the Press release of the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) of 9 September when he stated that inflation is the major economic problem facing us today. If he had continued reading the statement he would have also said that inflation must be fought on all fronts. It is because the Opposition feels so strongly about both those facts that it decided to bring forward as a matter of urgency a consideration of the economic measures which the Government has taken so recently. We agree that inflation is a major economic problem and that it is a major national responsibility to control and curb inflation at present. I have some mixed views about the terms of our matter of urgency because I have the strong feeling that the task facing Australian economic management in 1973 and 1 974 is to cut the rate of growth of money supply which is in circulation. The Prime Minister and the Treasurer (Mr Crean) have stated in other documents that the rate of growth is 26 per cent at present. I would like to think that it could be cut by approximately half. I would feel that such a reduction would be approaching sound economic management.
In July a Commonwealth Government Loan was supported by the Australian people. It expressed the confidence of the Australian people in the future. There was support of $239m for that Commonwealth loan. This was prior to the first Budget introduced by a Labor Government for 23 years, which was in August of this year. Those of us who were seeking economic management were disappointed to find that that Budget did not attack inflation on all fronts. That had been stated as an objective of the Government. The Budget increased public expenditure by 18.9 per cent. In various ways the Budget sought to diminish the private sector of activity, from which the economic wealth of Australia is generated. They are the matters of concern which we face. Because of these factors I was not surprised that the Government had to adopt a policy of increasing interest rates. There had to be an objective which would control the amount of money that was in circulation. For this reason the interest rate objective which the Government has now taken was a measure which, perhaps with other measures, should have been related to the Budget and to the economic management that we would have liked to have seen.
There has been a great increase in the rate of money which has been in circulation, but it is of interest to know just how much it has increased in the past 6 months, If we look at figures we see that for the 12 months ending June 1972 the increase in money in circulation was 10.5 per cent, but the figures to May 1973 indicate an annual increase in the volume of money for the 12 months ending June 1973 of 25.6 per cent. That is the 26 per cent which we are talking about at present. We would have to conclude that a significant acceleration in the rate of inflation would be an inevitable result of this above average rate of increase in the volume of money in circulation. So we have another ad hoc policy to do something about it, not one that is related to the measures which the Government could have taken in the Budget and which would have shown a sense of responsibility for all Australians.
I was surprised to read in the statement by the Prime Minister on 9 September that the figures published by the Commonwealth Statistician on 5 September indicated that, following the revaluation of the Australian dollar last December, import prices fell by 5 per cent between the December 1 972 quarter and the June 1 973 quarter. It was of interest to me to read that because I have been making some studies of the effects of the revaluation decision and its effect on prices as they reach the Australian consumer.
It had not been my experience that there had been a 5 per cent reduction in the prices of imported goods. There were some reasons. One reason was that many of the imported goods which reach Australia are not in consumer state. So, many of them need to have related to them the increased costs which have flowed from increases in wages, increases in distribution costs, increases in shipping freights and all those other things which are components of costs and which do not necessarily relate to the actual import of the commodity concerned. It was for that reason that I had expected that there would be some immediate result, from a further revaluation, on the amounts of imports as they will reach the consumers.
Many honourable senators today have said that there is inflation in many countries from which we import. At times of revaluation decisions other countries and suppliers take the opportunity to increase their charges to us and their costs, and they pass on the inflation. Senator O ‘Byrne said that he hoped that we do not import too much of the inflation from other countries into our economy. I found it somewhat conflicting to read that the Government seeks to increase imports into Australia at present, with the hope that it will reduce the effect of inflation on our economy. The increase in imports which the Government hopes to achieve would have to be related to our employment opportunities. Because there is the possibility of importing goods which are manufactured in Australia, with our increasing costs and our domestic inflation, there has to be some balance in the amount of imports which we seek to place in our community. We also need to balance the employment opportunities in those decentralised regions of Australia where so many of our people are employed, whether it is in the manufacture of shirts or other goods which could obviously be imported more cheaply and reach the consumer at a lower price, with the other effects which would flow through to those people who seek employment.
It was of interest to me to read that the Government expected that there would be activity, through the Reserve Bank of Australia, on the money market because of the proposed changes in interest rates. At the beginning of this week it seemed that that effect would not flow through as quickly as had been expected, but in the last 2 days of trading there has been greater activity by the Reserve Bank, at the direction of the Government, and it seems that we are now expecting an increase in interest rates of 2 per cent. I wonder whether that is the effect which the Government intended to portray or whether it is part of a policy which is another ad hoc arrangement and one which is not necessarily related to the overall effect because the overall effect of an increase of 2 per cent in interest rates means, essentially, making money dearer and scarcer which has the inevitable result, on those people seeking housing loans, of more costly housing loans and the service of them. I would have thought that this policy would have been a very difficult one for the Government to accept as it has stated, and we would have felt, it had a sense of responsibility to provide the Australian community with lower cost housing or at least housing which can be achieved within the context of the present economy.
This increase in interest rates will also have the effect of diminishing the opportunity for growth in the private sector of the Australian economy. I do not know the number of ways that this Government feels that it can diminish the private sector and expand the public sector without somewhat disastrous effects on our economy in general, but it seems to me that the program of social concern, educational opportunities and all those things which we wish to do for the Australian people can come only from a confident and efficient private sector and one which is generating national economic growth which can be distributed in the great programs which we regard as important. Therefore I wonder whether the Government understands the management of the Australian economy.
One Opposition senator said that it is not an easy economy to manage but that it is an economy which has attracted confidence from overseas investors. It is one which has shown a steady growth and one which needs a confident private sector for the generation of additional economic wealth. One of the Government’s statements which was released, I believe, by the Treasurer expressed the view that there was a buoyancy and confidence in the private sector. I think one would have to feel that that is a rather sweeping statement particularly in view of some of the measures taken by this Government in the few months it has been in office. It has sought to confuse the private sector and it has made statements which conflict from one Ministry to another, it has taken what seemed to be short term attitudes on investment allowances and export incentives and all those things which allow the private sector to plan for and have an economy which it can regard as offering some confident means of development and by which it can make plans so that we shall see the steady growth we need for all the things we want to do.
There is an attitude at the present time that there should be some thinking at an international level on world interest rates. It is argued that some countries may need high interest rates as a weapon against excessive demands, and there is a sensible answer that there must be an interrelationship between international money rates, and there is this in the way in which we trade. But I wonder whether we take these things into account when we take the short term view which this Government has sought to take. The International Monetary Fund’s annual report states that countries should base their currency relationships on a set of rules or a code, and this brings me to the revaluation decision which the Government has just taken. The IMF report goes on to say:
A feature of the prevailing currency relationships is their lack of firm foundation in an internationally agreed set of rules or code of conduct.
It says, further.
Exchange rates are intrinsically a matter of international concern.
I w ‘ould like to think that the Australian Government in taking revaluation decisions is not taking just short term views with regard to our economy, impending by-elections and decisions which may by politically palatable, but rather that it sees our economy as part of a world economy facing a world wide inflation with many of the problems which relate to that situation. I would hope that if the Australian Government sees economic management as a true responsibility of government, then many of the measures which still need to be taken will be taken by this Government in the near future and these would have to include one which saw government responsibility in the public sector as being a very great demand on our economy. These are the reasons why the Opposition has brought forward at this time a motion of urgencyto focus the attention of the Senate and, I believe, the Australian people on the need for sound policy judgment regarding economic management. I commend the thoughts expressed in the motion which has been put forward as a motion of urgency, and I hope that the facts which have been brought forward from Opposition senators will allow the people of Australia to see that unless the Government does take into account all fronts and all prongs of a multipronged attack on inflation, economic disaster could lie ahead of this nation.
– I think the position is that if the Government had not taken the 2 measures it has taken it could have been properly charged by the Opposition with being irresponsible. But when Opposition members talk about throwing the pensioners to the wolves and not looking after the consumer, I think the facts show clearly that the Labor Government, has taken a stand on those aspects to make sure that the consumer standards are protected. While we have taken some measures against inflation- and inflation is not just a domestic issue but a world wide issue- and while we have taken a stand on tariff cuts and inflation generally, we have said that the standards for pensioners must be maintained. Ours is the only government which has at any time related pension standards to a wage minimum, and we have taken similar action in respect of social security and repatriation payments.
This is the first time that it has ever been done. It was talked about by the Labor Party before the election and it was certainly one of the reasons which gained us a lot of support- and now we are carrying out that policy. So in fact we are doing what is mentioned in the urgency motion: We are making every effort to ensure that pensioner standards and those of people on fixed incomes are protected. As everybody knows, in the period covered by the June quarter 1972 to the June quarter 1973 the consumer price index rose by 8.2 per cent and average weekly earnings rose by 11.4 per cent. On that issue we have heard this afternoon a number of very strong attacks on the Government as though we were advocating almost overnight a challenge to the manufacturing and other industries. May I remind honourable senators if they do not know the facts, that in respect of the tariff cuts we provided that when anybody was proved to be redundant as a result of those cuts we would provide a payment to him for a specified time. To date only 14 people have applied to the Department of Labour for any sort of wage compensation as a result of the tariff cuts. We do not know of course just how the effects of the tariff cuts will apply in the long term but we should have expected by now that if they are as important as some speakers have complained that they are, more than 14 persons would have applied for wage compensation to which they were entitled under the policy of the Government.
– Reserve stocks of imported materials have not been used up.
– The honourable senator knows the position as well as I do. He has already talked in a very general way about the effects on the boot trade. There is no evidence as far as I am aware that any of the 14 persons who applied for the redundancy payment came from the boot trade. On the one hand, of course, Senator Little and his colleagues claim that we are an extravagant government; we have been making large handouts, they say, in social service payments and that this is one of the causes of demand on the economy and one of the reasons for increased liquidity. Of course we have done so. Our welfare budget is the biggest in the history of Australia, and so it should be because that is our standard; that was our promise to the community. Our education budget is the biggest ever known to the community, and of course those welfare plans have an effect on the domestic economy. But the domestic economy is related to the world wide economy, and inflation, as everybody well knows, is a world wide problem. Some reliance has been placed upon what Professor Galbraith said. I would like to quote in full what he said as reported in the Melbourne ‘Age’ on 3 September. The report states:
Professor Galbraith, who arrived in Melbourne yesterday, said he doubted that any action taken in Australia alone would control inflation.
The decisive question is that it be brought under control in my country- the United States’, Professor Galbraith said at an airport Press conference.
Inflation is a world-wide problem, and it is going to be serious as long as it isn’t tackled in the metropolitan economy.
As long as inflation is out of control in the United States, it is likely to be out of control in those countries that do a lot of trade with the United States of America- like Australia ‘.
So we have a world situation affecting Australia. I take up the point made by Senator Carrick. I remind the people of Australia of what the Labor Party has done in making sure that for the first time in history people on pensions can expect to have a pension increase regularly related to a wage standard. I have had the pleasure, as has already been noted in the repatriation legislation, to do exactly the same thing for repatriation benefits. In respect of other issues which have added money to the domestic economy, such as pay rates, for the first time in the history of the economy and for the first time in the history of the defence forces, we have had a complete and comprehensive overhaul of pay scales for the armed Services which, with the increases related to the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Fund, has cost about $70m. These are the first such things that have ever been done. But it is said that we are extravagant. It is rather strange to hear people such as Senator Carrick saying that the Labor Government intends to impose more punitive measures on the Australian people. It is rather strange that this sort of remark should come from a member of a party whose whole history shows that the only action it ever thought about taking in the old days was one which would ensure that regularly- fortnightly, weekly and daily- it attacked the workers on wage increases and attacked the unions which sought wage increases.
– What arrant nonsense!
– It is not nonsense because the honourable senator knows as well as I do that Bills that came before this Parliament were amended to provide for that.
– Absolute rubbish!
– It is so much rubbish that the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, which was altered to provide for the restrictions against the work force to which I am referring, was brought before this Parliament and debated. Whether the honourable senator was here to hear that debate, I do not know. But the Conciliation and Arbitration Act was altered in that way. The Labor Party intends to present the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill to the Parliament again to make sure that these restrictions are lifted from the workers. Of course, we assisted in the national wage case. The Labor Party assisted the Australian Council of Trade Unions to ensure that those needing wage increases most received their wage increases. Our Minister for Labour (Mr Clyde Cameron) made it very clear during those proceedings- he has done so since those proceedings also- that he believes that the standards of the ordinary people should be lifted and they should be preserved.
During the many years we were in Opposition in this place we argued that the Government should implement price controls, and now the previous Government is in Opposition it says: Let us have a prices incomes policy’. It has just discovered this. It has just heard about it, but it has heard about it too late. Only this Government has taken any initiative in this field of prices. We have set up 2 organisations which will have some general good effect on prices. I refer to the Prices Justification Tribunal and the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Prices. The setting up of those 2 bodies indicates the positive measures which we have taken. We hope that they will have the effect of restraining price increases. They are positive actions. I remind the Senate that this is the only government which has taken steps to ensure that wage standards and pension standards are preserved. All of a sudden the Opposition is worried about unemployment, despite the fact that during the 23 years it was in government it was not very seriously worried about unemployment. Opposition senators give lip service to a policy of full employment. But what was the situation when they were in government? We had stop and go policies and we had huge industries being cut down. All of a sudden the Opposition is worried about the motor car industry. It is worried about what will happen in South Australia if the Minister for Secondary Industry (Dr J. F. Cairns) decides to make a deal with the Japanese manufacturers.
– Do you not think we should express concern on that? The Premier has.
– Of course the Opposition is concerned, but the point I am trying to make is that this concern has come about only while honourable senators opposite have been in opposition. When Senator Young was the Government Whip he was not so concerned about what might happen to the manufacturing industries. That was at the time when the then Government had the stop and go policies. But all of a sudden honourable senators opposite are worried about this matter. I can assure them that, whatever the Minister for Secondary Industry does in relation to the motor car industry, full consideration will be given to our own assets in this country as well as the assets of overseas organisations already established here, and that is what we should do. Opposition senators now are worried about unemployment. Yet we are the only government which at long last has ensured that there are more job vacancies than there are applicants for the jobs. It is the first time in our history that this has occurred.
We are the only government which has said strongly-this is a very sensible point- that we will not bring into the country migrants who cannot settle down quickly. In recent years Australia has taken migrants from areas from which it probably should not have taken them. We have decided that the proper policy to adopt- our Minister for Labour has already declared policies and sets up administrations in this regard- is one which ensures proper retraining so that if people are to be displaced from their jobs the Government will look after them. As I mentioned earlier, we have given a guarantee in relation to the tariff cuts and in relation to revaluations. It is now nearly 2 months since the tariff cuts were imposed but only 14 people have come along to the Department and said that they have been displaced as a result of the tariff cuts and that they want the wage that they received in the industry in which they were employed previously- and they have received that wage. Not only have we carried this out administratively and not only has our Minister for Labour set up these organisations but also we have made an appeal to the employers of Australia to ensure that they provide retraining and training schemes so that the people who are looking for jobs but who apparently cannot be placed in occupations now may be employed in the future. The people concerned include Australians as well as migrants who know the conventions and usages of Australian industry. They are the best work force we have and they should be retrained for the vacancies which already exist and those which may arise if these sad effects which people talk about occur. My point is that the Labor Government has solved the unemployment problem. Not only have we solved it but also we have set up organisations to ensure -
– We solved it for you. Do not be ridiculous.
– The figures are in this document. All the honourable senator has to do is ask for a copy of Mr Clyde Cameron’s latest document and he will see for himself -
– You said we could have 200,000 unemployed.
– The honourable senator will not listen. The number of unfilled vacancies has increased by 11,408 or 19.6 per cent to 69,660. That is the highest ever increase. So how can the honourable senator say that we have not carried out our obligations to the people of Australia? Of course we have spent massive sums in implementing our policies, and so we should have done. We were elected so that we could put our policies into action. We have to take the stands we are taking.
Senator Carrick is now in the chamber. As I said earlier, it is rather strange to me that he should say that the Labor Government will take more punitive action against the ordinary people than has been taken previously. When his Party was in office it was always concerned about taking punitive action against the trade unions and against the wage earners who wanted wage increases because it said that was the way to stop inflation. It was not worried about prices and profits but it concerned itself with stopping the workers, the ordinary people, from getting increased wages. While it was saying these things it did not at any time adopt our policies in relation to pension increases, because it did not believe in them. I hope that the people of Australia will think seriously about the issues and about the remedies which the Labor Government has provided for people who may be displaced from their employment because of some existing extreme situation.
As my time has almost expired, I say in conclusion that in relation to these prophesies of gloom that have been made today one has to have regard to what has been done by the Government. If only 14 people have been displaced as a result of the tariff cuts it is reasonable to assume that the gloomy effects as proposed by Senator Cotton will not happen. If they do happen the Government will take measures to remedy the situation. I was impressed by the rather constructive case put up by Senator Cotton; but, except for Senator Guilfoyle, I found that most of the other Opposition speakers were mostly engaging in politicking in relation to the issues. In the long run, of course, what will count is whether our policies, already firmly established, as to the degree to which the consumer will be protected will obtain.
– The Opposition has focussed the attention of the Senate and, I hope, a wider audience on what is the most pressing problem facing Australia today. That pressing problem, of course, is inflation expressed in rising prices. But of equally dangerous proportions is the apparently myopic, sectional and reluctant attitude of the Government to the taking of positive action to deal with our inflationary situation. I was surprised to hear the Minister for Repatriation (Senator Bishop) criticising some Opposition senators because, as he said, they were politicking. Of course, his whole speech was a political justification of things which he set up and it constituted a complete ignoring of what are the really vital issues.
But I do not want to deal specifically with what the Minister had to say. I wish to deal with just one point in the short time available to me. The Government has taken what it calls ‘some action’ to try to cope with inflationary problems. It set up a Prices Justification Tribunal- not a prices control tribunal but a Prices Justification Tribunal. It ignores the fact that if it can set up a justification tribunal it implies that the Commonwealth Government has some power to deal with prices. But of course the Government goes onto the public platform and says that it lacks the constitutional power.
There is an inconsistency in that approach. It has set up a Joint Parliamentary Committee on Prices, but all that that Committee can do is to provide some work for a number of members of the House of Representatives and of the Senate. It can only advise, recommend and report; it cannot take positive action. The Government cut tariffs across the board by 25 per cent. All that the Minister for Repatriation could say about that decision was that the gloomy prognostications of unemployment had not revealed themselves, because only 14 people had asked for the increased unemployment relief which was associated with the Government’s announcement. Yesterday I asked the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Murphy) if, 2 months after the tariff cuts of last July, he could point to any one area where price reductions had flowed. He was unable to mention one area where there was any price reduction. One wonders whether any short term benefit is to be derived from that reduction in tariffs.
Last weekend we had a further revaluation of the Australian dollar and a rise in interest rates which must multiply the problems of inflation because it will make money and prices dearer, and accordingly it will add to the problem and the spiral which we are experiencing already. The Government declines to take what the Opposition says is obviously the course which should be taken at the present time, a course which will break this wage prrice spiral which is moving at such momentum, I refer to a pricesincomes policy, a freeze for a limited period. The basis of the Government’s attitude is that wage and salary increases in some way represent an attempt by the wage earner to catch up with increased prices. The presupposition is that prices at some stage skated right ahead of wages and now the wage earner must endeavour to catch up. But that is a false reading of history. It ignores what the statistics show for the 1960s. I have taken out figures from the Consumer Price Index. If one examines the position from December 1968 to March 1973 the consumer price index in that period showed an increase of 24.6 per cent. In that same period average weekly earnings rose by 43.4 per cent.
Over the past 5 years the clear pattern has been that real wages have been rising ahead of prices, and I think that is an experience common to everybody. Only in the last few months has there been this great apprehension which has developed because people realise that prices are moving ahead so fast that they fear that their incomes will be inadequate to cope with increasing prices. It is that apprehension which leads people to ask what the Government is doing about this. When one considers the politicking of the Government and the stress it places on what the previous Government did or did not do, one realises that the Government ignores one very salient fact. In 1972 there was a 4.5 per cent increase throughout the year in the Consumer Price Index. By quarters the figures are 1 per cent, 0.9 per cent, 1.4 per cent and 1.2 per cent.
There was a higher level of price increases- I do not think anyone could dispute this- than we experienced throughout the 1960s. Nevertheless it was within manageable limits. What we have seen already in 1973, in 2 quarters, is a 5.4 per cent increase, which already is a 1 per cent increase above what was the position for the whole of last year. The Treasurer (Mr Crean), as I recall a statement he made recently, suggested that the price index rise for this third quarter will be at least of the same level as it was in the previous quarter.
What is the Government doing about this? Our complaint as an Opposition is that the Government is not tackling this problem with the sense of urgency with which it should be tackling it. The function of an Opposition is to expose a government’s inadequacies and to spur it into action. This Government needs spurring into action. We cannot hope to survive and maintain the economy in the way in which it has provided wealth and a real improvement in the living standards of the people of Australia over the past 23 years if we have a Government which is going to squander the inheritance it secured last December. In the 9 months that this Government has been in office there has been a squandering of an economy which was in good shape. We moved for the discussion of this matter of urgency to concentrate attention on a vital issue.
– The cost of living.
– I hear Senator Wood interjecting and referring to the way in which the cost of living has gone up. The basic problem, the basic concern of all Australians, is that something should be done about it and this should be undertaken by the Government. I conclude by saying that last December the Labor Party, with a great deal of fanfare, indicated that inflation was something on which the Government was prepared to take action. In the document ‘Crisis- It’s Time’, which the Labor Party circulated widely, it stated categorically as follows:
The Australian Labor Party sees inflation control as the Government’s responsibility, not yours.
Before the Labor Party gained office it was criticising and saying that this matter was the Government’s responsibility. But what did Mr Crean say in the recent Budget, a Budget acknowledged on all hands as doing nothing to combat inflation? He simply said: ‘I think the public wants to do something about inflation but there is not a lot we can do about it in the Budget.’ That statement is rubbish. Of course the Government could do something about it if it wanted to.
These are the reasons why the Opposition will constantly focus attention on the inadequacies of the Government in this area. In order to enable a vote to be taken on this issue, rather than let the matter simply expire by effluxion of time, I move:
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
Sitting suspended from 5.53 to 8 p.m.
Message received from the House of Representatives intimating that it does not insist on its amendment made in place of the amendment of the Senate to clause 19 to which the Senate had disagreed and that the House has now agreed to the original amendment made by the Senate to that clause.
– For the information of honourable senators I present the report on the administration of Papua New Guinea for the year ended 30 June 1972. This report was submitted to the General Assembly of the United Nations in May 1973 in conformity with article 88 of the Charter of the United Nations.
Report and Ministerial Statement
– I table a report made to me by Professor Louis Loss, Cromwell Professor of Law at Harvard University, on proposals for Australian companies and securities legislation, and I ask for leave to make a short statement in connection with it.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– As the Senate will know, it is the Australian Government’s intention to legislate for a nationwide companies act and a securities and exchange commission. Work on the proposals for legislation has been proceeding for some time. Recently my Department took advantage of the presence in Australia of Professor Loss as a visiting professor at the Australian National University. Professor Loss is recognised throughout the world as an eminent authority on securities industry legislation. His well known treatise under the title ‘Securities Regulation’ is a leading work in this field of the law. Professor Loss is the rapporteur for the American Law Institute which has for some time been engaged in co-ordinating the work being done in connection with the proposal for a federal securities code for the United States of America.
My Department took the opportunity while Professor Loss was in Australia to discuss with him a wide range of matters connected with the proposed Australian legislation. It also obtained from him a report summarising the main suggestion he had to offer in connection with the legislation. This is the report that I now table. The report does not purport to deal comprehensively with all the matters that arise. However, it deals with most of the important issues and usefully draws attention by way of cross-references to relevant passages in Professor Loss’ treatise and in the tentative draft at the United States Federal Securities Code.
Professor Loss ‘ report will, I am sure, be of interest to honourable senators and to the public generally. It is desirable in the case of legislative proposals of such importance that interested persons should have an opportunity to study the report and comment on the views expressed in it. I hope the report will serve to stimulate public debate on the proposals. The Government has the report under consideration.
– I invite the Minister to move a motion that the Senate take note of the report and the statement.
-Yes. I move:
– I appreciate the action of the Attorney-General (Senator Murphy) in tabling the report by Professor Louis Loss. Of course, it has been a matter of public knowledge that Professor Loss was in Australia earlier this year, and the general area of his work for the Government also was well known. I believe it is important that this report should be studied because although I have not seen the report- and I understand that no members of the Opposition have seen it- it bears upon a matter which has been of great interest to the Senate over a period of some 2 or 3 years. The Senate, of course, will recall that one of its select committees- the Senate Select Committee on Securities and Exchange- has been examining the general matters with which Professor Loss has been concerned. We know that for quite a period of time that Committee has been considering the report it will present to the Senate. I am sure that the report when presented will contain a tremendous amount of valuable information which will be of assistance not only to the Government in the preparation of legislation but also to all persons in Australia who are concerned about the workings of our capital market and the securities industry. I certainly hope that the Government will await the presentation of the report by the Senate Committee before taking any action. The Senate Committee has excited a tremendous amount of interest during the time it has been in existence. We all await with a great deal of interest and attention the ultimate presentation of its report. I recall that over 12 months ago an interim report was presented by the Senate Committee which indicated that there was a need for some national regulatory body to deal with the matters with which the Committee was concerned.
In short, I am now saying that this report, together with the report of the Senate Committee when it is presented, should provide a volume of information which will be invaluable in the study of matters which have caused great interest in Australia over the past few years concerning the workings of our capital market and securities industry and provide a sound basis upon which legislation in the public interest can be developed. I only hope that the opportunity still remains for the Senate Committee to give consideration to Professor Loss’s report. Because we have not had an opportunity to examine the report and make any considered assessment of it, I seek leave to continue my remarks.
– Order! Is leave granted?
– I wish to speak to the motion, Mr President.
– May I offer a suggestion, Mr President? In matters such as this it often happens that an honourable senator wants to make a few remarks immediately and conclude them at another time. The appropriate course of action in that case might be for him to be given leave to speak again on the next occasion the matter is raised rather than for the debate on the matter to be adjourned immediately, which would prevent any other honourable senator who wants to make a few remarks at that time from doing so. If Senator Greenwood were prepared to accept my assurance that leave will be granted to him on a subsequent occasion to speak on the matter it would enable Senator Byrne to participate in the debate at this stage.
– In the light of what Senator Murphy has said, I withdraw my application for leave to continue my remarks.
– I am indebted to Senator Murphy and Senator Greenwood for giving me an opportunity to say a few words on this matter. The interest manifested in this matter by Professor Loss is symptomatic of the interest which has been manifested by distinguished visiting academicians from other countries in the activities of the Parliament and the workings of its committee system. Only the other day the Senate Select Committee on Foreign Ownership and Control was given the benefit of the views of a distinguished academician from Canada. He was, I think, very interested in the Committee ‘s work and investigations.
The subject of a proposed securities commission has a new significance in the light of 2 background situations. The first is the Constitutional Convention. It is obvious that matters of that character are going to be discussed in the constitutional context. The second, of course, is the more recent judgment of the High Court of Australia in the Concrete pipes case in which the corporation power of the Commonwealth first came under some element of scrutiny and in which there were some intimations from the Court that there may be an extensive power that can be utilised by the Commonwealth. In the light of that the approach to company legislation, apart from securities legislation, is emerging as a matter of very great importance. Therefore the contributions of gentlemen as distinguished as Professor Loss are of immense importance in the current Australian scene. We look forward to receiving the draft and having an opportunity to study it, because we do not have that opportunity. At that stage I hope that the matter will be considered by our Party and that a more extensive and detailed contribution will be made on the implications to be drawn from the comments, examination, recommendations and the suggestions which, no doubt, will be put forward by Professor Loss. I welcome the opportunity of participating, even in brief, in this short debate.
– 1 simply take this opportunity to indicate to the Senate that while Professor Loss was in Australia the Senate Select Committee on Securities and Exchange took the opportunity to meet and have discussions with him and to avail ourselves of the opportunity which presented itself. Over a period of time we have had correspondence with Professor Loss. Last year we were delighted to learn that he was proposing to visit Australia. This year we made arrangements to meet him and we gained some advantage from the very great experience which he has. Comments have been made by Senator Greenwood to which I subscribe. I do not wish to take up the time of the Senate but I thought that I would take this opportunity to indicate that we of the Committee met Professor Loss.
Debate (on motion by Senator Murphy) adjourned.
– Pursuant to section 30 of the Canberra College of Advanced Education Act 1967-1970, I present the report of the Council of the Canberra College of Advanced Education for the year ended 31 December 1972.
– I give notice that on the next day of sitting I shall move:
Consideration resumed In-m 1 i September (vide page 403).
Sena-r GREENWOOD (Victoria) (8. 1 5 )- i .e Opposition will support this amendment. Indeed, it welcomes the amendment which has been moved by the Attorney-General (Senator Murphy). Its terms are slight but the import is enormous. It is because the amendment represents a fundamental change that we welcome it and indicate our support for it. However. I believe that I should indicate that it has ,.<mc about because of the processes which the Senate permits. Also, having regard to the lapse of time since this matter was first before the Senate, the time has been taken for the Opposition to suggest ways in which this legislation could be amended. While the precise way in which the Opposition suggested the Bill might be amended has not been accepted by the Government, it has recognised the merit of the Opposition ‘s proposals and has brought forward an amendment which we are prepared to accept.
I cannot stress how important is the change that has been made. In dealing with extradition we are dealing with procedures under which persons who have come to Australia may be extraditedremoved by processes of law- from the Australian jurisdiction and sent back under custody to the country which requested their extradition, there to be dealt with for crimes which they have committed or to be dealt with in accordance with the law for crimes of which they have been convicted. The procedure which has existed in this country over many years is one whereby the processes of extradition are set in force by a warrant which enables the person sought to be extradited to be apprehended. That warrant may be issued by a magistrate without prior authorisation of the Attorney-General or the person may be apprehended by a warrant initiated in the first place by the AttorneyGeneral. If the magistrate has not the AttorneyGeneral’s prior authorisation he cannot proceed further to deal with the question of extradition until he receives a notice from the AttorneyGeneral. It is obvious, therefore, that the role of the Attorney-General in this area is a most significant, almost an indispensable, role.
But there is a provision which is well recognised in the extradition law of the United Kingdom since 1870 that a person should not be extradited if, as a result of that extradition, he is liable to be dealt with in the country to which he is returned for an offence of a political character. The general basis on which this proposition has developed is that the extradition procedures are to enforce the ordinary processes of the criminal law. They are not to be used for the purpose of enabling a political vendetta or a political revenge to be exercised upon die person who is sought to be extradited. This has been recognised in our law and section 10 of the existing Extradition (Commonwealth Countries) Act states that in quite specific terms. Also, section 1 1 of the Act states that the Attorney-General shall not give the notices which are indispensable to the operation of our extradition procedures if he has substantial grounds for believing that:
the requisition for the surrender of the fugitive, although purporting to have been made in respect of an offence for which, but for this section, he would be liable to be surrendered to that country, was made for the purpose of prosecuting or punishing him on account of his race, religion, nationality or political opinions; or
if the fugitive is surrendered to that country, he may be prejudiced at his trial, or punished, detained or restricted in his personal liberty, by reason of his race, religion, nationality or political opinions.
This particular provision is an advance which Australia has acknowledged over the last seven or eight years and which is not the position which prevails in, for example, the United Kingdom. The provision complements section 10 to which I have just referred. Section 10 provides:
I ) A person is not liable to be surrendered to a declared Commonwealth country if the offence for which he is sought to be extradited is an offence of a political character or is an offence of a political character by reason of the circumstances in which the offence was committed or is alleged to have been committed. An offence may be an offence of a political character notwithstanding that there are competing political parties in the country seeking extradition.
This is a very real problem.
I have in front of me the report of the House of Lords which was delivered in April of this year in which the real problems which arise in these countries are set out at length in the judgments of the Lords of the House of Lords. In that case, by a majority of three to two, the House of Lords refused to stop the extradition to America of a Chinese national who had been convicted in New York of attempting to murder an official of the Taiwanese Government. The Chinese national sought to have his extradition to New York stopped because he said the offence was of a political character. What he had done was to become involved, by the purchase of a pistol and by his presence at the scene, in the attempted murder of the son of General Chiang Kai-shek. He was an opponent of the Taiwanese Government. The House of Lords, in the result, allowed the extradition to proceed. As I have indicated, 3 judges were of the view that the offence with which he was charged was not of a political character and 2 judges were of the view that it was.
These problems are real problems. The question what is and what is not an offence of a political character is a very real one. We in Australia are concerned, as we ought to be concerned, because of issues that have arisen in recent times, that we do not allow our extradition procedures ever to be used so that persons who have come to Australia can be removed from Australia on specious grounds when the reality is that they are sought to be dealt with for offences of a political character. I recall in the second reading debate on this Bill how strenuously Senator McManus raised the issue of where the onus lay in the case of persons who were sought to be extradited from Australia. Was our law adequate, he asked, to ensure that these persons did not have an impossible burden to satisfy so that if they were unable to satisfy that burden they could be extradited from Australia to be dealt with on some trumped up charge for what was, in effect, their political opinions. I know that Senator Murphy reassured Senator McManus that that could not happen. I think that it is the belief of all Australians that it would not happen. But when one is dealing with a situation in which the rights of individuals are dependent upon the letter of the law it is important that that law should in fact guarantee to the citizen that if he has the suspicion he may be dealt with unfairly or may be extradited for political offences he can have his rights determined not by the opinion of the Attorney-General of the day but by a judgment of the court to which he can go to have his rights asserted.
Senator McManus sought an assurance that our Extradition (Commonwealth Countries) Act was iron clad and watertight in regard to the trial of people for political offences. Senator Murphy indicated that a safeguard existed in that the AttorneyGeneral was not to give a notice if he had substantial grounds for believing certain things which were set out in section 1 1 of the Extradition (Commonwealth Countries) Act. As he said, the Attorney-General, if there were such substantial grounds, would not initiate proceedings. Senator Murphy inferred that if the question of whether there were substantial grounds was raised before a court the onus would rest on the person seeking to establish that there were such grounds but that the onus would be on the balance of probabilities. I consider that the issue which was raised by Senator McManus and ventilated further by Senator Murphy indicates doubt as to whether the rights of persons liable to be subject to extradition orders are sufficiently safeguarded when there is an apprehension that they may be dealt with by the country to which extradition is made on the grounds of their politics, their race, their nationality or their religion.
That doubt arises because there appears to be a basis upon which, in the context of the legislationwhich I do not go into in detail- the AttorneyGeneral’s opinion may be the substantive factor. Under the present legislation the AttorneyGeneral will not issue a warrant if, in his opinion, there are substantial grounds for believing that the person may be dealt with for an offence of a political character. Notwithstanding the bona fides of an Attorney-General and the care and attention which he may give to the matter, the fact that it is dependent upon the AttorneyGeneral’s opinion is a matter which, under the usage of our courts, is not examinable by the courts. The effect of the amendment is to ensure that, irrespective of the basis upon which the AttorneyGeneral bases his opinion, that basis is examinable by the courts. I believe that that change is a desirable one and one which will ensure that there is access to the courts.
I would have preferred the amendment to have gone further, but I recognise the substantial inroads which have been made into the existing provision by the amendment. I would have preferred the amendment to have gone further because I think it is an unfortunate fact that the onus still rests upon an individual to establish, albeit on the balance of probabilities, that there are substantial grounds for believing that if he were to be extradited he could be dealt with on the basis of his politics, his race, his nationality or his religion. What are ‘substantial grounds’? In the first place it depends on the AttorneyGeneral’s opinion. Ultimately it depends on the way in which the courts view these matters. I believe that in these areas the courts always take a view, notwithstanding that there is no presumption requiring them so to act, which works in favour of the individual. I believe that this amendment will effectively ensure that the courts are able to raise and decide the question of whether a person who is liable to be extradited, and is about to be extradited, is being extradited consistent with the provision of the Act. I would have preferred to have had the expression ‘no reasonable grounds’ in preference to the words substantial grounds’, but I feel that, in the context in which the matter is open to the court, essentially the rights of the individual are being preserved by the amendment. I welcome the fact that the Attorney-General has seen his way clear to move the amendment, in the light of the general consideration which he gave to the matters which were put to him by the Opposition. The Opposition will support the amendment.
– Briefly I indicate that the Australian Democratic Labor Party will support the amendment. I join with Senator Greenwood in expressing pleasure that the Attorney-General (Senator Murphy) has moved this amendment. Senator Greenwood has referred to the fact that I raised this matter at some length when the Bill was being considered in the previous sitting. I did so because of a discussion which took place quite a few years ago when the then Leader of the Australian Labor Party in the Senate, Senator McKenna, joined with me in expressing concern at the fact that it could be interpreted that in certain cases the onus of proof of the bona fides of a person against whom an extradition order was sought might be upon the person rather than, in some cases, the overseas country in circumstances in which the person whose extradition was sought might not be able to put his case strongly. However, I am very glad that the endeavours which Senator Nicholas McKenna, who has left a fragrant memory in this Senate, and I put forward on that occasion and which were not so successful then have been successful with Senator Murphy, and I thank Senator Murphy for what he has done.
– This is a very important change that is being made in the legislation. I should point out that what is being done is to change not the substance of the Bill that is before the Committee but to effect a change in the preexisting legislation; that is, the Act as it stands right now. The law of the land as it stood has been altered. The importance of it is that it gives effect to the rule of law. Here is a case where the liberty of a person who is almost always not a citizen of this country- though sometimes that may be so- would be at stake. The critical thing to my mind is not so much the fears of what might be done by some other country but that where that is the position, that liberty should not depend upon the viewpoint of any individual, if that can be avoided. It should not depend upon the belief of the Attorney-General or of some other person. This should be a matter to be established by some objective test rather than the subjective one of the belief of the individual who happens to hold the office. Too often in our lawand even in areas away from the liberty of the subject- we have fallen into the error of substituting the individual discretion of officers, however highly placed, for the objective provisions of the law, so that we have had again and again in various enactments over the years the provision that the rights of a person should depend upon the discretion of some official rather than upon what has been directly provided by Parliament.
We are indebted to those who have raised this matter. I thank Senator McManus for his references to the efforts of Senator McKenna. We are indebted to Senator Greenwood who, during the debate on the second reading, suggested that this provision of the older law ought to be altered. The Government was not able to agree to the proposition put by Senator Greenwood that the objective. test should be, in effect, no reasonable ground for believing’, for 2 reasons: Firstly, we thought that it was not proper that any ground should be put in rather than ‘substantial grounds’; secondly, that we believed this would have gone beyond the provisions of the treaty and that we could not do in any event since the treaty required that there be substantial grounds rather than that there be any ground set up. I am indebted to the chamber for the way in which this has been done and I would only hope that the same vigilance might be exercised in regard to other measures. Thus one happens to be the product of legislation of previous governments, but there is no doubt that under the legislation that would be brought forward by the present Administration from time to time the same errors would be introduced into that legislation because they are the precedents that have been created over the years. It is the habit of those who draft laws to draft them in the same way. If we set about it, I think we can correct some of what I believe are unnecessary departures from the rule of law, and we will have better laws as a result.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I shall now proceed to deal with clause 10, which reads:
Section 1 4 of the Principal Act is amended-
by omitting from sub-section (1) the words ‘there is produced to the Magistrate such evidence’ and substituting the words ‘such information is given, or such evidence is produced, to the Magistrate ‘;
by omitting from sub-section (3) the words ‘and the evidence produced to him on the application for the warrant’;
by inserting after sub-section (3) the following subsection (3a) A report under sub-section (3) shall-
set out any information given to the Magistrate on the application for the warrant; and
if any evidence was produced to the Magistrate on that application- be accompanied by that evidence. ‘; and
by omitting from paragraph (a) of sub-section (S) the words ‘and the evidence as provided by the last two preceding sub-sections’.
I n lOVe
Leave out the clause.
Clause 10 refers to information being the basis of the issue of warrants in addition to evidence being produced. We have heard the comments which have been made in relation to this matter and they seem to be appropriate comments. It is probably safer that the application of this section be restricted to the supply of evidence. In a certain context a certain interpretation of the word information’ may mean that an injustice may occur. Where the liberty of a person is at stake, on reflection it seemed to us to be wiser to leave out the clause.
– Once again I formally acknowledge the recognition which the Attorney-General (Senator Murphy) has given to the submissions made to him that the wording of what was originally proposed might be changed. The effect of deleting this clause, of course, is that section 14 of the Act as it was before this Bill was introduced remains in the same form. Section 14 of the Act has its problems and I recognise that the amending clause which was proposed sought to overcome them. But it did raise a distinction, which we in the Opposition thought was unnecessary, between ‘information’ and ‘evidence’. When one is concerned with what is adequate or sufficient material with which to apprehend, detain and take into custody a person, it is appropriate that the basis of that should be evidence presented to the magistrate. We appreciate what the AttorneyGeneral has done, and we will support the amendment he has moved.
– I wish to ask the Attorney-General (Senator Murphy) whether the word ‘evidence’ is used in the technical sense of evidence taken on oath as against evidence presented by way of information. I do not think it is used in the technical sense of an information, but does it encompass just facts, not being evidence on oath, that are supplied to the magistrate?
– I think the word ‘evidence’ in this context would mean something wider than evidence on oath. The present situation is that certain evidence which is not given on oath is admissible in a court and can be taken into consideration for the purpose of the case. For instance, documentary evidence may be tendered if it meets the requirements either of some statute such as the Companies Act or of common law, and evidence may be tendered in various other ways. I think I can safely say that the meaning of the word ‘evidence’ extends beyond -
– I wonder why the word ‘evidence’ is necessary and why the word ‘information’ is not sufficiently wide to include all types of facts presented to the magistrate.
– The danger, as was pointed out by Senator Greenwood, is that the word ‘information’ is much looser than the word evidence’, especially when appearing in the same clause as the word ‘evidence’. If one speaks of ‘an information’ one is then speaking of information which is something different from evidence. So, even if the honourable senator were right in saying that one might use the word ‘information’ alone, I think the word ‘information’ would be given a restricted meaning.
– I think it may go to the question of what weight is given to one or the other by the judicial authority. That may well be the reason.
– Yes. If I may answer the honourable senator’s point, it might have been possible for the word ‘information’ to be used by itself; but the substance of the objection, as it strikes me, is that when the word ‘information’ is used together with the word ‘evidence’ this means that the information is something different from evidence. It may mean that material which one thinks ought not to have been receivable on a matter so important as this would in fact be received. We think, on reflection, that it is appropriate that the clause be not proceeded with.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I turn now to amendments Nos. 5 and 6 which relate to clauses 12 and IS. Clause 12 states, in part:
Section 17 of the Principal Act is amended by omitting subsection (5) and substituting the following sub-sections: “(5) Any article (including a sum of money) that may be material as evidence in proving the offence to which the requisition for the surrender of the prisoner relates or that has been acquired by the prioner directly or indirectly as a result of the offence shall, if the Attorney-General so directs, be delivered up with the prisoner on his surrender.
Clause IS states, in part:
Section 26 of the Principal Act is amended by omitting subsection (9) and substituting the following sub-sections: “(9) Any article, including a sum of money, that may be material as evidence in proving the offence the person is alledged to have committed or has committed or that has been acquired by the person directly or indirectly as a result of the offence shall, if the Magistrate so directs, be delivered up with the person on his surrender.
The same principle applies to both clauses and if it is convenient both might be dealt with together. The provision is for the surrender of fugitives to a Commonwealth country. It has been put that the words ‘directly or indirectly’ may stretch this provision too far. Probably it would be more appropriate to leave out those words so that there would be a confining of the operation of both those clauses. While it is not a major matter we do not think there is a great deal of force in the wording if it is properly construed. Nevertheless it is arguable and we accept the argument. Therefore I have moved to leave out the words in both instances.
– The Opposition also supports these 2 amendments. The words which the AttorneyGeneral (Senator Murphy) has used express a balanced view of the import of what originally was in the clauses of this Bill. It is a question, as it must always be, as to how a person can be said to have acquired an article indirectly. I think that the use by the draftsman of the words ‘directly or indirectly’ in the clause in its original form represents an enthusiasm to be completely comprehensive. Sometimes that enthusiasm may create more problems than those which in fact are intended to be resolved by the use of the words. The result of leaving out those words will mean simply that the Attorney-General has the power to require certain articles which have been acquired by a person as a result of the offence to be delivered up with him when he is extradited. I believe that what is proposed is a satisfactory way of expressing the position and therefore we support the amendments.
– What about the position of an offender who may have acquired money by succession in a bank account, where he perpetrated the crime that brought it to him? Is that money to be surrendered with the prisoner?
– In the absence of clear facts upon which a decision would have to be made it is very difficult to answer Senator Byrne’s question, but if the article has been acquired by a person, and in a sense it is in his possession or with him and it is an article which has been acquired as a result of the offence, it is in the discretion of the Attorney-General to deliver that article up with him when he is extradited. Essentially it is an administrative decision. I feel that what is important is that we do not by language make it appear to third parties that something which is theirs and which should not have been delivered up may have been delivered up just because of the language used in the section. As I see it, that is why the point was made to the Attorney-General, and I am happy to say that he has accepted it. We of the Opposition support the amendment.
-My only comment is as to whether the clause has not been drawn too widely. I appreciate Senator Greenwood’s concern, that it really is intended to deal with property or money in the physical possession of or physically attached in some way to or within the command of the malefactor, but the clause uses the term ‘acquired by the person … as a result of the offence’. That could well go to acquisition by process of law by devolution on succession, he being the author of the disaster that created the succession. Therefore, I am wondering whether the clause is not too widely drawn. Decisions of a probate court might have to be overridden by the provisions of this statute. Perhaps it might be wiser if the clause were more narrowly drawn to specify property which is in the control or in the possessionsomething of that nature- of the perpetrator of the offence at the time of the offence. Has the Minister any comment to make on that?
– It is not for me to answer for Senator Murphy, but I believe that I can take some obligation insofar as it was the Opposition’s submission to the AttorneyGeneral and he has accepted it. I refer Senator Byrne to the fact that section 1 7 ( 5 ) of the Extradition (Commonwealth Countries) Act states:
Any property in the possession of the prisoner at the time of his apprehension that may be material as evidence in proving the offence to which the requisition for his surrender relates shall, if the Attorney-General by instrument in writing so directs, be delivered up with the prisoner on his surrender.
I can appreciate and understand why that provision was changed in the way in which it was originally drafted in the Bill. The provision was changed to read:
Any article (including a sum of money) that may be material as evidence in proving the offence to which the requisition for the surrender of the prisoner relates or that has been acquired by the prisoner directly or indirectly as a result of the offence shall, if the Attorney-General so directs, be delivered up with the prisoner on his surrender.
– The words that have been dropped, substantially, are the words ‘in the possession of.
-There are changes apart from that. Of course, the new clause indicates that what may be delivered up is that which may be material as evidence in proving the offence or that which has been acquired as a result of the commission of the offence. What the Attorney-General has now proposed, by way of an amendment, is that the words ‘directly or indirectly’ be deleted from the clause. The Opposition concurs in that proposition. May I say to Senator Byrne that if any question arises as to whether or not property has been acquired by the prisoner, there is an objective test which is open for consideration by the court at the suit of any third party who may feel that he has a superior claim to the article in question and that it should not be delivered up. I think that that is sufficient protection for what I believe is the real point behind Senator Byrne ‘s question.
– I still believe that the original intent obviously was to deal with property that was closely attached to the perpetration of the offence, having been obtained by the perpetrator as a direct consequence of the commission of the offence and being in his possession or control. I believe that that concept was almost germane to the section. It has now been omitted and I just query the wisdom of widening the clause as far as we have done.
– Assuming that what Senator Byrne says is the test, that it was property acquired as a direct consequence of the commission of the office, it was contended that there was a departure from that concept by including the word ‘indirectly’ as well as the word ‘directly’. While I have said I think that the words would be construed reasonably, nevertheless, it does get away a little from what Senator Byrne is saying was the concept. So by omitting the words directly or indirectly’ we virtually get it back to the direct consequence. There is no need for the word ‘direct’ if you say ‘as a result of and leave out the word ‘indirectly’. I do not think that it is a great matter, but it is arguable and we accept the proposition.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I refer to clause 18 which reads in part:
Before section 33a of the Principal Act the following sections are inserted:
Where this section applies in relation to a person-
the person may be transported through Australia in the custody of another person for the purpose of being surrendered to the declared Commonwealth country; and
if an aircraft or ship by which the person is being transported lands or calls at a place in Australia- a Magistrate may, if he is of the opinion that it is necessary or desirable to do so, by warrant in accordance with Form 10 in Schedule 2, order a person specified in the warrant to hold the first-mentioned person in custody until his transportation is continued.
This is an amendment to proposed new section 33aa. It refers to the transport of persons under these provisions from one country to anotherthat is, in effect, under the treaty provisions. Where a person is being transported through Australia in the custody of someone for the purpose of being surrendered to a declared Commonwealth country, if the aircraft or ship on which he is being transported calls at any place in Australia a magistrate may, if he thinks it is necessary or desirable to do so, issue a warrant and under that the person specified in the warrant may hold the person being transported in custody until his transportation is continued. As the clause stands at the moment, it provides that where such a person is held in custody the AttorneyGeneral may, if he thinks fit, by order in writing direct that the person be released. Here, as I understand, it was thought there was some uncontrolled discretion. It may certainly be in favour of the person because it is for the release of the person. As there were some reflections on the clause, we thought it appropriate to provide a test on which the Attorney-General’s discretion might be exercised, and it is reasonable that this be by an officer, because it is the release of a person rather than his awaiting proceedings being taken. The test is: ‘and his transportation is not continued within such time as is reasonable having regard to all the circumstances ‘.
So if a person is being held in Australia because he is engaged in transportation through Australia to a declared Commonwealth country, and if the Attorney-General thinks that his transportation is not being carried on reasonably expeditiously that it is not continued within such time as is reasonable having regard to all the circumstancesthen the Attorney-General may, by order in writing, direct that the person be released. So one sees this in the context, I suppose, that if it were necessary, a person could be re-arrested on some warrant taken out again for the extradition of a person. But we thought, firstly, that there should be such a power and, secondly, that it is appropriate that the condition upon which the power be exercised should be stated in the legislation. Again, we are indebted for the comments which were made on the clause. We trust that this amendment will commend itself to the Committee as meeting the valid criticism which was raised.
– As Senator Murphy has indicated, this again is one of the particular points which the Opposition referred to the Attorney-General for his consideration. We welcome his amendment. It is not precisely as the Opposition suggested, but we think that what he has proposed is practicable and it provides the criterion which was absent from the original provision. In the circumstances we welcome the amendment and will support it.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– Amendment No. 7 refers to clause 22, which reads:
The First Schedule to the Principal Act is repealed and the following Shedule substituted:
The unlawful seizure, or unlawful exercise of control, of a ship or aircraft, by force or threat of force or by any other form of intimidation.
Without again going through all the details, this amendment is necessary in order to give effect to the provisions which were included in the Convention for the Supression of Unlawful Acts against the Safety of Civil Aviation, which was an international arrangement that was made to deal with hijacking. It is a technical provision which will enable us to bring our extradition laws up to date. They would then fit in with the legislation which was passed earlier and which is now the Crimes (Protection of Aircraft) Act 1973. The extradition laws in regard to Commonwealth countries would, as far as we can see, comply with the requirements of the international Convention and give the appropriate effect to our own laws.
-There is a small query I wish to raise with the AttorneyGeneral (Senator Murphy). I am wondering why attempts to commit any of the crimes referred to in clause 22 are not included in the recitation in Schedule 1. There may be an attempt to commit murder which is not accompanied by a physical assault or grievous bodily harm. I am wondering why attempts to perpetrate any of the crimes referred to are not included in the crimes which are embraced in Schedule 1. As far as I can see they are not.
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question can be found in the general provision that is paragraph 33 in schedule 1 of clause 22 of the Bill. It refers to aiding, abetting, counselling or procuring the commission of, being an accessory before or after the fact, or attempting or conspiring to commit an offence described in the Schedule. I think that covers the point raised by the honourable senator.
– Yes. I did not notice that provision.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill, as amended, agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments; report adopted.
– I move:
May I say that I am indebted to honourable senators, particularly Senator Greenwood, for the valuable comments and suggestions which have been made, which have assisted in the improving of this Bill.
– I wish to respond to the courtesy which Senator Murphy has expressed. It is a long time since this Bill was first introduced. I think it was introduced in April of this year. In the intervening period representations have been made by the. Opposition as to changes which it felt could be made to the Bill or considered by the Government. In the end the result changes have been made to this Bill. I acknowledge Senator Murphy’s remarks.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a third time.
Consideration resumed from 11 April (vide page 1043).
– It seems to me that each of the amendments to this Bill which have been circulated has been dealt with in substance in the debate on the previous Bill. We are now debating the Extradition (Foreign States) Bill 1973. The previous Bill debated was the Extradition (Commonwealth Countries) Bill 1973. If it meets the convenience of the Senate, I will move all of the amendments at the one time rather than go through each of them one at a time. The argument concerning each of them would be precisely the same as the argument advanced in the debate on the Extradition (Commonwealth Countries) Bill. The provisions of this Bill and the provisions of that Bill are not materially different. In fact, it may suit the convenience of the Senate if all of the amendments were to be moved at the one time and if they were all to be dealt with at the one stroke.
– Is leave granted for Senator Murphy to move all of the amendments at the one time? There being no objection, that course will be followed.
-The 7 amendments refer to clauses 5, 10, 12, 13 and 21, which read in part as follows:
Section 4 of the Principal Act is amended-
Section 1 6 of the Principal Act is amended-
Section 18 of the Principal Act is amended by omitting subsection (5 ) and substituting the following sub-sections: “(5 ) Any article, including a sum of money, that may be material as evidence in proving the offence to which the requisition for the surrender of the prisoner relates or that has been acquired by the prisoner directly or indirectly as a result of the offence shall, if the Attorney-General so directs, be delivered up with the prisoner on his surrender.
After section 1 8 of the Principal Act the following section is inserted: “(2) Where a person is being held in custody in pursuance of a warrant by a Magistrate under paragraph (b) of sub-section ( 1), the Attorney-General may, if he thinks fit, by order in writing, direct that the person be released. “.
Clause 2 1 .
The First Schedule to the Principal Act is repealed and the following Schedule substituted:
In clause5, before paragraph (d), insert the following paragraph. “(ca) by inserting after sub-section (5) the following subsection: (5a) On and after the day on which the Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts against the Safety of Civil Aviation (being the Convention referred to in the Crimes (Protection of Aircraft) Act 1 973 ) enters into force for Australia, an offence against a law of, or of a pan of, a foreign state that is bound by that Convention, being an offence constituted by an act, including an act taking place in Australia, that is of a kind referred to in item 32a or item 34 in Schedule 1 and over which the foreign state is required by paragraph 1 of Article 5 of that Convention to establish its jurisdiction, shall, for the purposes of this Act, be deemed to be an extradition crime and to have been committed within the jurisdiction of the foreign state. ‘; and ‘ ‘.
– The Opposition has examined these amendments and concurs with the proposition put forward by Senator Murphy that the substance of them was comprehended by the debate in the Committee stage on the Extradition (Commonwealth Countries) Bill 1973. It is a convenient and sensible course of action to deal with them in this way. The Opposition concurs in them.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill, as amended, agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments; report adopted.
Bill (on motion by Senator Murphy) read a third time.
Debate resumed from 30 August (vide page 369), on motion by Senator Willesee:
That the Senate take note of the following papers:
Civil Works Program 1973-74.
Payments to or for the States, 1 973-74.
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, 1973-74.
Review of the Continuing Expenditure Policies of the Previous Government.
Report on Possible Ways of Increasing Imports.
And on the amendment moved thereto by Senator Withers:
At end of motion add ‘, but the Senate is of the opinion that the Government has failed to honour its election promises in respect of defence, per capita grants to independent schools, pensioners, company taxation, the revision of taxation burdens, the home owner, its claim to come to government with malice towards none and its subsequent unfair discrimination against the rural community and its disregard of inflationary pressures and that this budget therefore deserves condemnation in the Senate as the budget of a government that has exposed itself as a government of double standards ‘.
– Just 3 short weeks after its introduction the Budget of the Labor Government is now a thoroughly discredited document. It is so discredited that through its failings, omissions and damaging consequences it has been necessary for the Labor Government to introduce the first of what it now says will be a series of economic measures of very serious consequences to offset the effects of the Budget itself. So last weekend’s revaluation and foreshadowed increase in interest rates are all part of the price of a discredited document. Earlier when I spoke on the Budget I said that it should be condemned on 7 main grounds. Those grounds were, firstly, because it abdicates its responsibility as an instrument of economics and aggravates inflation; secondly, because it breaks a whole series of promises made in the policy speech; thirdly, because it places its main burden of costs upon lower income families; fourthly, because it attacks the rural community; fifthly, because it dismantles the defences of this country; sixthly, because of its deceit and deception; and, seventhly, because, foreshadowed and presented as a document of great historic reform, it is, in fact, a gross anti-climax and a confidence trick. I pointed out that as to a series of promises made either in the Budget Speech or in the months before the Budget, Labor had failed in the Budget to fulfill the main ones. Promises were made a few weeks before the Budget and repeated by the Treasurer (Mr Crean) and others that there would be tax reduction for middle and lower income families. These were dishonoured in the Budget. Promises made by the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) that there would be wide cuts in sales tax and no alteration in company tax were dishonoured.
What happened was that instead of there being a reduction in taxes the worst of all taxes, the regressive taxes, were imposed upon the little people- taxes on petrol, on liquor, on cigarettes. These cut right across the principle of progressive taxation. To save some money here and there the Government dismantled the amenity of free milk for school children and it put sales tax on carbonated citrus juices. This Government has broken a whole series of promises. I drew attention to its very serious breach of promise with regard to home ownership and its failure to implement the interest deductibility on mortgage payments in this Budget. Even more so, I drew attention to its deception in leading the people to believe even in the month of the Budget by an announcement from the Minister for Housing (Mr Les Johnson) that the homes savings grant would be maintained. Nevertheless in the Budget the Government gave notice that it would abolish that grant. In the Budget the Government did not say that within a week or two the greatest attack on home ownership that has ever been seen would be foreshadowed. The combination of the failure to implement policy, the dismantling of the homes savings grant and the raising of interest rates by 1 per cent or 2 per cent are so bad that the effect upon the Australian people in the future of home ownership could be quite disastrous.
The only claims in support of this Budget have been made by honourable senators opposite in relation to education. During an urgency motion on education in this chamber honourable senators after honourable senator asked: ‘Are we not good? We have increased education spending by $404m or 92 per cent. ‘ The Budget states:
We will provide$843m for education in 1 973-74, an increase of $404m or 92 per cent on last year.
This is a thoroughly dishonest statement. When one looks at a little document alongside the Budget Papers called ‘Payments to or for the States 1973-74’ one finds that under tertiary education, States grants and State loans will be reduced in future as an offset by some $ 144.6m. So it is not an increase of $404m in spending at all. In that amount there is a transfer of $ 144.6m. It is an increase of $2 5 9m, and so, far less than 92 per cent. So that is a thorough misrepresentation. But I go further and say that much of the $259m which can be claimed as an increase for education comes in two ways. There is the implementation of the Cohen Committee’s report and other tertiary education committee reports which were initiated by the previous Government, involving an amount of some $90m and at least some 5 ?m or $70m is simply the inflationary upsurge of wages. So if we look at the one thing on which the Government stakes its claim, and that is the 92 per cent increase for education, it falls to ashes around us.
– No, that is not so.
– Let the Minister deny that the $404m is in fact only $2 5 9m. Let him deny that.
– He will deny it.
– Does the Minister deny that?
– Yes, I deny it.
-May I read to the Senate and to the Minister the document which states -
– It is the honourable senator’s bad interpretation.
– I refuse to be diverted. The Minister for Education (Mr Beazley) in another place admitted- perhaps by faulty misrepresentation- that the amount of” $404m includes $ 144.6m which is an offset and not an increase at all. But let us go further, because perhaps I am misinterpreting too and the Minister may be good enough to help me. I ask: What do we make of a government which some weeks before the Budget says that it will- this is the Minister for Social Security (Mr Hayden) speaking- increase child endowment? They said at the Australian Labor Party Conference that they would double the amount. Mr Crean is on record as saying the same thing. He said that he would increase child endowment and include it in his Budget, not months but weeks before the Budget, at a time when it was being formulated, when it was in the hearts and minds and within the knowledge of the Ministers. The deception out of the policy speech that the Budget would contain increased family allowances continued to within 3 or 4 weeks of the Budget, but the Budget disowned it.
But may I go one step further and talk of another deception. I refer to the world tour by the Minister for Defence (Mr Barnard) in June, some 6 or 7 weeks before the Budget, to shop for a fighter aircraft to replace the Mirage. Some newspaper headlines state: ‘Barnard Sees Viggen Flight’, ‘Barnards Visit’ and ‘Sweden looms larger in Australian fighter stakes’. There is copy after copy headlining what was described as a shopping trip to buy a fighter aircraft when the Cabinet and the Minister in question must have known at the time of going on the world tour that the Government had no intention of replacing the Mirage aircraft. That is why I talk of gross deception. But let us have a look at this Budget. We talk of a Budget which is going to do new and grandiose things. We have 37 departments and we have a Minister- I see we have lost a Minister as a casualty- for Tourism and Recreation. I hope that the people of Australia were bucked up by the Budget amount that was set aside for this Department because in a handout by the Minister for Tourism and Recreation (Mr Stewart) we are told that $3.2m has been provided for the development of single and multipurpose sporting and recreational complexes throughout Australia. I have done a couple of calculations on this amount in the atmosphere of ping-pong politics so beloved by the Government of the day. That amount would provide 2 good quality ping-pong balls for every person in Australia. That would be the magnitude of it. It would provide for every municipality and shire in Australia for the purpose of developing singular multi-purpose sporting and recreation complexes- let us roll that phrase around our tongues- $3,000 a municipality. That would not even paint the outsheds. This is the answer to the deception of a party that went to the people and said: ‘Vote for us and we will do these things’.
I have a grave difficulty- I had a greater difficulty yesterday- with the Minister for the Environment and Conservation (Dr Cass). I find that it is a closed season for the Minister for the Environment and Conservation. It is not fair politics to go seeking him out. Seek as you may in the Budget for the real money for conservation, I wish you luck. This is the Government that went to the people and said: ‘We are for ecology and for the quality of life. There will be none of this pollution for Australia. We are as one with the birds and the bees’. Indeed, they are- as an Alice in Wonderland.
– Tell us the story of the birds and the bees.
-No one needs to be told the story of the birds and the bees more than Senator McAuliffe. May I get even richer and richer in my speech on this Budget.
-Yes, the honourable senator will enjoy it. In the Senate not so long ago we debated the Commonwealth Grants Commission Bill. What was that Bill to do? It was, as was said in the policy speech, to be a major breakthrough for local government. The Federal Government said that it would provide millions of dollars directly to local government, which would have direct access to the Commonwealth Grants Commission to obtain that money. All the people needed to do was to vote Labor. Will somebody identify the money appropriated for this purpose? Perhaps Senator Gietzelt, as a former local government shire president, will do this. Will somebody tell us how many tens of millions of dollars has been provided in the Budget? Or is it a case of another 2 celluloid ping pong balls? That is about all there is in the Budget. So we go on and find that this Budget is a complete confidence trick.
– What about the effect on local government of putting up interest rates?
- Senator Little has made a very perceptive interjection. He has asked -
– What about the case -
-I ask Senator McAuliffe and his Queensland local government people whether they agree with this. Is Senator McAuliffe as worried as Senator Little about the effect on costs of local government of putting up interest rates by 1 per cent? It is the government of Senator McAuliffe and his colleagues that is doing this. They are the people to be blamed. They are making local government, State government and all government more costly.
What do we find when we look at this structure? We have a Budget in which the Treasurer admitted in his epitaph: ‘We did not really want to put up taxes. Nobody likes to do that. But we did it even though we promised we would not. We promised we would cut taxes, including sales tax. We promised we would not put up company tax. We broke every promise that was made by the Labor Party’. Look at honourable senators opposite; there is not a spark in them. They know that it is true. The Labor Party went to the people with a housing policy which is in tatters. It went to the people with a family endowment policy and a policy of helping poor families. This policy is in tatters. What is left? It went to the pensioners saying: ‘Put us in and we will make sure that step by step, by $ 1 .50 twice a year, your pension will be raised to one-quarter -
– Three dollars -
– The Minister did not even know today what the amount was. He did not know whether it was 25 per cent or 30 per cent of the average male wage. Do not let honourable senators opposite scream out. The lack of knowledge on the Government side is abysmal.
– Brandy experts.
– Yes. They went to the people and said: ‘We will raise pensions until they are one-quarter of the average male wage’. On the present rate of inflation -
– What Labor promises it will do.
– What Labor is promising at this moment it will do. What is promised now, in fact, is the total robbing of the people of Australia, of the small families of Australia. Honourable senators opposite know it and they have not got a whimper in them because of that.
– The people know it.
– The people outside know what is happening in regard to housing, local government costs and their own costs. What sort of a government is it that poses as being a government of the working man or the little man but directs all its attacks at the little man? What sort of a government is it that in its platform says ‘We will have nothing to do with regressive or indirect taxation’, and then increases it? What sort of a government is it that leads the people right up to the Budget with promises and then dumps them? What sort of a government is it that sends one of its Ministers around the world on the pretence of buying a fighter aircraft knowing that he is going on a shopping expedition? It was a shopping expedition in Hong Kong; not in Sweden or the United States of America. It was a shopping expedition in Hong Kong, but for a different purpose.
Let me pull this together. What has happened here is that the first Labor Budget has been prepared. It ought to have been an instrument of economic policy. It ought to have tackled inflation. It ought to have, if the Government recognised the boom conditions that were described today and the need to withdraw liquidity- watch the rich words- cut spending in the public sector to balance the Budget and not run into a $600m or $700m deficit. But what did the Government do? It increased spending in the public sector. It maintained a huge deficit, a deficit that would be used in taking up slack, not in a period of overfull employment. It took people from the private sector into the public sector. It cut down migration so as to force overfull employment. It is responsible for the position today where if a person wants to purchase a motor vehicle he has to wait 3 or 4 months before he can take delivery. Even if a person wants to buy furniture, he has to wait 3 or 4 months. Every delay in every purchase is at the feet of this Government which decided, because it thought the migrants would vote against it, that it would not have a selective migration program. Now, it suddenly has realised its mistake and is reactivating the migrant program.
Let me talk now of constructive thinking. This Government has refused to face up to the fact that, if inflation is to be controlled, there has to be control of both wings- prices and incomes. It will not tackle this. It will not do so because the Government’s left wing masters will not allow it to touch incomes. Whilst it does not touch incomes directly, it will rob them indirectly. Mr Snedden, the Leader of the Opposition, has come forward with a sensible and practical plan to restore stability of purchasing power and real wages in this country. Let us look at this. Mr Whitlam, the Leader of this Government, said when seeking election that what the Labor Party would do would be to hold a conference of Federal and State governments, industry and trade unions. He said: ‘We will sit around a table and discuss how to get stability in this country’. We came forward 2 weeks ago with a plan. We said: Let us have a national conference. Let us get together the Federal and State governments, industry and the trade unions and let them sit around a table and talk about restraint. Let us see whether we can get co-operation’. Mr Whitlam said that he would not do it. This represents another flat broken promise. We said: Let us go further’.
– When did Mr Whitlam say this?
- Mr Whitlam said this as Prime Minister. We said: ‘Let us go further. If a conference of all these people does not succeed -
– When was this?
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Prowse) Order! Senator McAuliffe, if you persist in defying the Chair I will be forced to take action.
-It is fully understandable why honourable senators opposite would try to stop the people of Australia hearing home truths and housing truths. I said that Mr Snedden came forward with a broad practical program. First he proposed a national conference. This idea was accepted by Mr Whitlam in the past but is rejected by him today. Because Mr Whitlam had said: ‘You know, the States have powers but we are powerless in this area’, Mr Snedden came forward and stated: ‘The Liberal leaders of the States are willing to come together in cooperation and to give you temporary powers to get on with the job. So, if you want the powers, whistle up the leaders. They will sit around the table.
They will introduce mirror legislation and by cooperation give you those powers temporarily’. The Prime Minister of Australia has said: ‘No, I will not do so’.
What is he doing now? He is giving lectures to the State governments telling them how to handle inflation. Let it be made perfectly clear that the continuation and, indeed, the aggravation of inflation in Australia are directly due to the wilful refusal of the Prime Minister and his Cabinet first to seek, through a national conference, co-operation and restraint and, secondly, if necessary, to seek what is offered by the Liberal governments and Liberal leaders, that is, Federal-State co-operation in the temporary transfer of powers. Let nobody on the Government side say: ‘We could not do it because we did not have the power’. Do not let anybody on the Government side say: ‘We could not do it but, by golly, we will hold a referendum in a month, or two, or three, or four’- an activity designed to delude the people. There is no need to hold referendums. If it can be shown that what the Government seeks are sensible powers all the Commonwealth Government has to do is to call the State leaders together and invite them by cooperative action to refer the necessary powers temporarily. But the Commonwealth Government refuses to do this. Why does it refuse to do so? The Government refuses because it is forced by its outside masters to fail to recognise that wages as well as prices are fundamental to inflation. The Labor Party will refuse to do anything about incomes except to rob the people in a subversive way- like an economic ASIO raid.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Prowse)- Order! The honourable senator’s time has expired.
– I can sympathise with Senator Carrick. He became a member of the Senate at a time when the Liberal Party dynasty was ending. He is naturally a little thwarted that he did not gain ministerial office. That is what his attitude boils down to.
– Is that the reason?
-That is the reason. But we must be realistic in our approach to this matter. The Labor Government decided in essence that it was interested in the collective good. When I use the term ‘the collective good ‘, I think I can do no better than to commence my speech by referring to the sum of $136m that has been earmarked for so many urban projects. If there is one thing about which the States have squealed for years it is the lack of Federal aid for public transport purposes. When I hear Senator Carrick talk about the little man and the little woman, I am always amazed -
– Anything would amaze you.
-Senator, I will have something to say about your Victorian president later on. It will obviously mean that you are out of step with him. Quite distinct from the attitude and role of the Opposition, the Labor Party has been quite definite about its course of action. We established priorities. We determined that urban problems had to be grappled with. The sum of $ 1 36m is provided for a number of separate purposes including growth centres, the backlog in sewerage works and general planning. It is to meet all of those problems.
I invite the attention of honourable senators to the scene in New South Wales which has its counterpart in Victoria. I mention the recognition of a collection of outer city councils like those to be found at Windsor, Penrith, the Blue Mountains, Blacktown and Fairfield. The grouping of people into a region provides a basis for long range planning. This is the situation that we are endeavouring to achieve. Senator Carrick spoke about federalism and the 3-tier system of government. I remind the Senate that it was the parliamentary Labor Party which is now the Government of the day that agitated to see that local governments would be represented at the historic Australian Constitutional Convention, the first session of which has just concluded. The attitude that local government was to be seen and not heard has always amazed me. We stand by the principle that money should be allocated to those local government authorities for use in local government work.
Obviously, when we look at positive results, there is not the slightest doubt that when, in the next year or two, the Victorian and New South Wales road and rail transport is revolutionised, we will see each of the non-Labor transport ministers in those States delighted to have their photographs taken against a background of the new forms of traction whether that takes the form of new diesel locomotives, new buses or even trams about which, I understand, the Minister for Transport in New South Wales is talking. All those forms of transportation have a place in urban transport. It is the initiative from Canberra which will usher in this new era. I say, as I have said before, that while honourable senators opposite may talk about the average citizen whom they see standing during peak hour periods and in the early hours of the morning waiting to go to work in industry, we have recognised the needs of these people and are trying to generate a far better transport system to service their requirements.
It is quite obvious, as everybody knows, that in all the principal areas of local government revenue, plenty of pious platitudes have been uttered with respect to what is needed. But the Labor Party has been prepared to come in with a heavy segment of finance. What are we doing in this respect? I am amazed when people question our motives in this area because when the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) and the Minister for Urban and Regional Development (Mr Uren) in conjunction with the Premiers of New South Wales and Victoria decided on the AlburyWodonga development centre, the question in the minds of the Prime Minister and the Minister was not that of numbers or of solidifying Labor support in the electorates involved. Labor looked at the matter in the broadest sense. Not one Opposition member is prepared to accept the fact that we considered the principles of decentralisation and not the question of favourable reaction in particular electorates. Possibly Mr Hamer made concessions grudgingly about the proposal. But I must say that the New South Wales Premier did not.
Let me point out to the Senate a remarkable facet of discussions about social evils. I wonder whether some honourable senators opposite read in the ‘Australian Financial Review ‘ yesterday of the celebrated case of Australian Factors Ltd. The people concerned in this matter were not militant trade unionists. They are the slick shareholders, the slick operators. We read in that paper yesterday how the men who were named had milked, as it were, the little persons with their few shares, and of the sorts of things that had gone on. Millions of dollars were involved. The newspaper report states:
However, no proceedings will be undertaken against any as a result of the report.
The point on which certain State governments stand indicted is that people can act like buccaneers with respect to stock exchange transactions but, because honourable senators opposite are so steeped in the rights of private enterprise, not one of them has ever been prepared to say in this Senate that there are evils in capitalism. The Labor Party believes in partnership between the private and the public sector. Honourable senators opposite seem to think that in the private sector people like Woolcott-Forbes, Huxley and their counterparts in other States are smart, slick businessmen. Honourable senators know how some of those persons squealed and crawled when they appeared before the Senate Select
Committee on Securities and Exchange. But we never see any of those persons sentenced to 20 years gaol. Yet, by comparison, honourable senators opposite bleat about some shop steward who harps about safety conditions on a job.
Senator Carrick referred to the immigration situation. Let us be realistic about this matter too. We met our obligation in that regard. When the clamour came about portability of pensions, we acted on that matter. Then the question of the dispute at the Ford Motor Company arose. This was a flow through from the situation last year when the present Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the other place, Phil Lynch, who was then Minister for Labour and National Service, was so proud that he would not accept the idea of collective bargaining. Thank goodness that we had people of the calibre of Mr Justice Moore who was prepared to see that justice was done. If honourable senators opposite took the opportunity to talk to officials of the Federated Ironworkers’ Association of Australia, the Federated Rubber and Allied Workers Union of Australia, the Federated Miscellaneous Workers’ Union of Australia and the Vehicle Builders Employees Federation of Australia they would learn of the human interest stories that are involved with respect to those who work in those industries.
I make no apology, nor does Senator Murphy or anybody else, for any action that we may have taken that may have helped to redress the balance and provided bargaining power to the existing work force engaged in menial, dirty and difficult jobs by which those workers have been able to force the payment of a better price for their labour. It was far better for us to do that than for Senator Carrick to talk about the possibility that this manipulation of the work force meant that somebody had to wait for certain commodities. The only corollary that can be applied in that respect is this: Senator Carrick was quite happy for a few Greeks at the British Leyland Motor Corporation plant or for a few Italians over at the Broadmeadows plant to work under such conditions as long as they were good boys and battled on. If we believe in equality, those workers were entitled to action to correct the working conditions that they faced.
– Do not attack those groups.
-It is no use the honourable senator protesting. The action taken was too little too late. It took Mr Justice Moore to tell an industrial company like the Ford Motor Company of Australia Ltd that, when a new award was agreed to and made, a few more dollars should be spent so that it could be printed in 3 or 4 different languages. These reforms are not revolutionary but they are proposals to which the czars of the board rooms would never agree. Honourable senators opposite talk about treasonable utterances. They should remember that the Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd can never deny that during World War II it was guilty of adopting quisling like attitudes when it shut down the open hearths and stopped the construction of ships. That was in 1943 in Newcastle.
– You have gone berserk.
– You can like it or you can lump it. In the judgment of the New South Wales State Industrial Commission, the judge castigated Mr Butler, a director of BHP. The judge said, in effect, that BHP was imparing wartime production. The honourable senator cannot get away from the fact that they are the sort of people who operate in big business.
– Tell us about the record of Melbourne’s Mr Myers in relation to prices.
– In those days Senator Little was a part of the trade union movement. I deal now with the further objectives of the Labor Party. There has been a lot of lip service about the national estate and our heritage. In the Budget $3m is set aside so that people like the Minister for the Environment and Conservation, Dr Cass, and the Minister for Urban and Regional Development, Tom Uren, can collaborate with people who want to preserve the best of the past. For far too long the argument has been: Leave it to the States. We intend to do something. It is a positive indication of what is going on.
There has been a lot of talk and bleeding hearts about education priorities. The Minister for Education, Mr Beazley, has been most emphatic on the matter. He has spoken in terms of a 5-year plan. He has said that the schools which are in very poor condition and which have bad standards will be brought up to what is deemed to be the minimum standard. I say very definitely to the 100 or so schools involved that it is a pretty poor indictment of some of the principals of the private schools that they could not answer a Government questionnaire. After all, the matter is subject to review. Let us take it another way. The schools might have to live off their fat for the next 5 years until the schools in the poor and difficult areas come up to the minimum standard. Honourable senators opposite talk a lot and bleed a lot about Christian charity. That is the least that can be done. I do not say this because of any ideological bias. There is not a well to do school which is not in the fortunate position of having a wealthy old boy or old girl. At various times these people provide substantial bequests, either during their life of in their will.
Honourable senators opposite adopt this attitude of uniformity. They believe in uniformity and in always preserving that gap. I do not think that this is the time to indulge in endless statistics. One should compare the lack of opportunity that a boy at a state school at Bankstown or an independent school at Parramatta has compared with a boy at a GPS school. Honourable senators opposite know in their hearts that there is no hardship in trimming back a bit the more fortunate schools. If I accept the argument of honourable senators opposite, at the end of 5 years the bequests will have run out and all the endowments will have run out. All the schools will go into the melting pot and the Australian Schools Commission will have another look at the position. I take the matter one step further. We have taken up the slack at the next echelon. I refer to university education.
I can well understand and sympathise with Opposition members because for 8 or 9 years I have been a senator and each year the Labor Party went through the ritual of criticising the previous Government’s Budgets. I have seen the smirk on the faces of honourable senators opposite. They have said: ‘We have a mandate. We are the Government’. I think that if they accept the principles of democracy they must accept that it is our turn to govern. I do not say that in a condescending way. I believe that we have a mandate. Of course ‘government’ means making unpopular decisions. We have made them already and we will make them again, because that is the test of statesmanship. There is no objection to that.
– There is an objection.
-Senator Wright has had the glory of being in office. I am surprised at him being a little churlish. I wish to deal with another matter. In this debate the question has arisen about the image of the Government. Would anyone deny that when the Prime Minister went abroad he had to indulge in genuflecting to other governments?
– He is always going overseas.
– He cannot win with honourable members opposite. He went over as Prime Minister to put an Australian viewpoint. When he differed with the socialist Prime Minister of Singapore honourable senators opposite took the side of Mr Lee. If on another occasion he took a different attitude with another leader they would say that he had been caught in a vortex of communist conspiracy. The Prime Minister’s prime responsibility was to this country. I do not object to Mr Lee differing with him, but our Prime Minister had to say what he did. We should look at Australia’s foreign affairs record. Our Prime Minister visited Asia and mingled with a number of other leaders. He has put a point of view.
No matter what the bleatings from the Opposition might be, when it came to the question of nuclear explosions, as Senator Murphy pointed out, we have been critical of any of the super powers which have indulged in this nuclear madness. That is the only word which I can use. The amazing thing is that there has never been any repentance by Opposition members about the mess that the previous Government was in as far as foreign policy was concerned. I can understand their feelings. Let us be real about the matter. A new government is elected. We are chartering a new course, and we make no apologies. But the previous Government perpetuated mistakes. I can remember when the honourable Denis Healy, the Minister for Defence in the Wilson Government, came out here and preached a doctrine that Britain would not remain a policeman anywhere if it was not wanted. He was talking about Aden and the Middle East area. A lot of dialogue went on between the former Prime Minister, Mr McMahon, and the heads of Asian countries. Whether they have governments which are Left, Right or centre, they are always very sensitive about their national independence. The thing that amazes me is that it is argued that the threat to these countries is an external threat. Let us be realistic. Subversion from the Left or the Right can come internally. I recall when Mr Gorton was Prime Minister. I regarded him as a better Prime Minister than his successor. However, that is a point of view.
– He was much better than the one we have now.
-I know that the DLP do not like him, but I do. At one seminar he said that he agreed that he did not want us to be a policeman in Asia. If there is subversion in a country the obligation is on it to put down the subversion itself. I will be perfectly frank. I know that some senators on this side have reservations about the future of Indonesia. Indonesia put down subversion without American or Australian troops. Honourable senators opposite cannot get away from that fact. Indonesia did it itself. This idea of white troops in an Asian country just does not work. Millions of dollars were poured into Cambodia, Laos and South Vietnam. What sort of society have we created? I can imagine Senator Wright, as a spokesman for the previous Government, saying: ‘The Vietcong were sniping. You could never get stability of government’. Is not the test of democracy for a country to be able to tolerate divergent views in its society? In Saigon people who are anti Vietcong but who differ from the present South Vietnamese Government still find themselves in these tiger cages. What a travesty of justice. This is one reason why we decided that we would not be in any more of these Asian land escapades. It was not merely a Labor viewpoint, it was not a socialist viewpoint. One of the greatest American Generals, General Matthew Ridgway, who took over from General MacArthur in the Korean expedition, in his book said very definitely that there was no future in having troops in Asia.
We make no excuse for changing our direction, whether it be in relation to our revised foreign policy or our economic policy. It has been very nice for people in the Opposition to say: You have had to do this suddenly and you had to do something like that’. We realise that the world is getting smaller. We know that if the gnomes in Switzerland indulge in some financial management there may be some changes here, but we are prepared to grapple with it. What we say is that we should look at the broad situation in relation to social service payments. All pensions are up by $1.50 a week, giving single aged, invalid and widow pensioners $23 a week, and married couples $45.50 a week. We do not say that it is a millennium. Of course we do not. But the point we make is that there will be constant revision.
Today I listened to some sort of pomp operation which went on about the national health scheme. One of the problems with which we have been faced is the many feasibility studies which the previous Government undertook. Nothing flowed from them. When I am told that the present national health scheme is a good system I simply say, as I did by interjection earlier today, that for punishment every member of the Opposition should go home tonight and read the Nimmo report from cover to cover. What was the position? Mr Justice Nimmo was very emphatic: A multiplicity of funds and no discipline over the funds.
Every time I hear an Opposition member talk about anarchy in the trade union movement I wonder whether he says: ‘Do the Hospitals Contribution Fund and the Medical Benefits Fund in
Sydney and their counterparts in the other States’I exempt the friendly societies from this criticism ‘ever call aggregate meetings of members and tell them “the Commonwealth Government suggests this, the State Ministers suggest that”?’ No. They have a little coterie at the top. These are the people. If Senator Greenwood were here, I think he would agree, for once when as Minister of Health he was negotiating, in a moment of candour he nodded his head to me. That was his position. The blood and iron that he sometimes uses on the trade union movement I wish he would use on the funds. I think he was prepared to do so, but he was moved to another portfolio. These are the people who have never given a proper account of their stewardship.
I say again that if the Opposition had wanted to stave off some of our measures it should have implemented the Nimmo report and established a health commission. Had it done so it would have achieved a great degree of discipline over the funds. The funds were so irresponsible that they wanted to buy aeroplanes to fly around the State of New South Wales. Yet they were not prepared to disgorge some of their funds for fringe benefits. I know that both Senator Poyser and Senator Brown have been interested in social security matters in Victoria. I am digressing a little, Mr Deputy President, but I say that we all know that children who might have died have been saved as a result of medical science. Nevertheless for the first 5 years of their lives, because of their various ailments, they need particular care.
Some of the handicapped children’s groups came before the Committee of which I was a member and asked why could not the funds give them some of their money. They were coldheartedly refused. They were told: ‘Not on your life’. What does the present Minister for Health (Dr Everingham) say? We have learnt that the money that the funds have aggregated in reserves would build 10 general hospitals in the Commonwealth. We do not want to be punitive. I say now that I do not want a clash with the Australian Medical Association- but I do want one with the fund bureaucrats. Mr Turner, Mr Cade and such people are using the members’ funds and telling us why the funds are good. Yet I have heard senators get up and talk about the trade unions putting up a case in favour of amalgamation of unions. This is typical of the double standards that we get. It is completely wrong.
On industrial relations it all depends on who the people involved happen to be. Recently we heard of tragedies in Santiago and other Chilean cities. I have heard senators say: ‘It is the militant middle class; it is the owner drivers putting on a strike. That is good.’ But if some bloke on the production line in Sydney or Melbourne does so they say he ought to be gaoled. This is the double standard they adopt. Of course, we have had a transformation. It is said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. One of the greatest conservatives of all- I refer to Mr Malcolm Fraseris now the Opposition’s expert on industrial relations. He has said to the Government: ‘You should talk to the workers, you must talk to them. ‘ What a comparison with what Mr Lynch said before the election. The Opposition now wants us to talk to the workers. The trade unions are ready to talk to the Opposition. But how can one expect trust when at one moment Bob Hawke, the President of the Australian Council of Trade Unions, is regarded as the devil incarnate, and at another time the Opposition says: Why is Hawke not doing something? ‘
There is a fundamental issue on industrial relations which the Opposition never seems to understand. One minute the trade union secretary is a boss, he stands over the workers, he intimidates them, he has goon squads. The trouble is that members of the Opposition read too much of the industrial history of the United States in the 1930s. They have never got out of it. But what is the real situation? There is no trade union official, be he an organiser or an ACTU official, who today can go to any gathering of men in industry and be sure that they will accept his viewpoint. That is democracy, it is healthy, because today with higher educational standards and schools of industrial management, it is a case of jack being as good as his master. I use the word master’ advisedly. This is the new era of the trade union movement. Consider the Atlantean bus dispute. This was a classic illustration that everything is not all black or all white. When the buses were first proposed for service, an additional rate of, I think, $1.20 was suggested but apart from the monetary side, the drivers had a distinct idea that in a modern city the buses posed certain safety hazards. It was not a case of individual fault.
I am aware as a result of my railway experience that nobody wants to make a mistake as a result of which he can face a manslaughter charge over some dangerous operation. But what happened in the Atlantean bus dispute? It went from a lower level, from a conciliation commissioner, and finally as a result of the creditable action of senior justices of the Arbitration Com- . mission a reasonable decision was reached. But the moral of the story was that at least 7 or 8 aggregate meetings were held until finally a refined viewpoint was established. The State secretary of the Bus Employees Union, Pat Ryan, put up one attitude and finally between his viewpoint and that of the Commissioner for Transport, an acceptable viewpoint emerged. I cannot say too often that there is no ready-made success in industrial relations. There will always be some little irritant that can start something. Sometimes I suppose the managerial people have to back down and conversely there is trade union solidarity. Of course, on both sides there can be difficulties. But some of us have known the problems of not having solidarity behind us.
The Opposition talks about Labor Ministers and of power corrupting. It does not mention what can happen when there is a surplus of labour. I use the term - a surplus of labour’ because it has been a fact particularly in some light industries which employ female migrants. My criticism here is not of the former Government but of some State governments which have in some cases failed to provide toilet facilities for female employees. How often do industrial inspectors visit such places of employment? Yet when Mr Clyde Cameron, our new Minister for Labour, decided that the inspectorial service was going to mean something, I heard Senator Harold Young, who I sometimes think is not a bad fellow, imply that the inspectors were going to be like the gestapo. The honest employer had nothing to fear from it; it was quite a logical operation. After all, breaches can be detected and remedied. Maybe genuine mistakes have been made.
I give a classical illustration. Over the years in the Rhodes area of the electorate of Lowe- the electorate of a former Prime Minister- a number of Italian people came to me about female employees and conditions at a certain establishment. Frankly, there were faults on both sides. One girl had not given sufficient notice and had forfeited her leave rights. I said to them: ‘Has an inspector been to the establishment?’ And they replied that nobody had been there for 3 years. An inspector did go to the establishment and he found that although the girl had no claim to holiday benefits, she had been paid 75c per week below the award rate for 3 years. So that was a small compensation for her. I do not say that any employer had to go to gaol over such an incident. The point is that when an employee or a trade union official complains about a case over which the employees are not prepared to indulge in a strike, it is still an injustice. Therefore when a Labor Government decided to remove some of these excesses, it was a normal improvement in industrial relations.
Many other things have happened. I am reminded of the fact that the previous Government always argued that when it came to defence it knew what was best. I recall that 3 or 4 years ago I visited Puckapunyal, Flinders Naval Base and one or two other areas. I talked to people, and one officer- obviously he cannot be named- said of the previous Government: ‘It is difficult because we have the Karl Gustav antitank weapons from Sweden, and Sweden does not consider that our attitude in Vietnam is right, though I do, mind you ‘. That was fair enough. Then he said: ‘We are in difficulties over spare parts’. This is now the Opposition which bleats about defence dismissals. As a government it waited until it was involved in the war in Vietnam; it was getting these components from Sweden- and did not think it was worth while to establish a viable defence industry in order to be independent of Sweden in this respect.
Then we had the position regarding the Pilatus Porter, the Swiss light aircraft. There were all these situations in which the previous Government was involved: On the one hand it wanted to be big; on the other it was not prepared to encourage viable defence industry. I recall also that four of five years ago the then Government claimed it had better relations with manufacturers than Labor had. The Victa aircraft was being manufactured at Bankstown and that was another industry that was feeling the cold blast of change. We cannot win in this situation. Recently there were extreme difficulties, which we inherited, in relation to the Evans Deakin shipyards in Brisbane. The Minister for Transport, Mr Charles Jones, appreciated the need to order oil rigs and other special things. He acted on the situation. He has been courageous enough to say that some of the industrial friction could be removed. But one of the ways of removing industrial friction is by means of the amalgamation of trade unions. Honourable senators opposite say Oh well, look at the Amalgamated Metal Workers Union’, and chant the names of Halfpenny and Carmichael. But it must be remembered that the mass of the union membership finally determines policy.
Leaving that sector of the trade union movement aside, let me deal with the group of unions covering the food industry. The only conclusion that I can reach is that some unions are frugal. They have a large percentage of female members. The Opposition wants them to wither on the vine. We do not. Whenever we have trotted out industrial legislation, although the Opposition may not have liked a section of it, its attitude towards it has been a petulant one and it has thrown it out completely. This was manifested last night in relation to the Australian Citizenship Bill. The same situation arose when we dealt with the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill. The Opposition is not even prepared to say that some things are good and some things are bad. I say that with some feeling.
If we are talking about the rank and file trade unionists, nothing is more serious than the problem that besets the Transport Workers Union of Australia. I do not know whether some honourable senators opposite have condescended to talk to Commonwealth car drivers and people in other sections of that industry. The average fellow does not want to have to declare whether he likes Mr Harris or whether he likes Mr McBeatty. The present position is bad for society and it is bad for the trade union movement. But at least we could have solved that problem in relation to future legislation because it is a trade union problem. The trade unionists have their own pride in their membership. It is a serious matter, and I hope that when the legislation is presented on this occasion the Opposition will show a little more charity. It is very easy for us to blame the Opposition, but I would much prefer to believe that the industrial relations pundits with whom the Opposition claims it abounds will come and offer us -
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Prowse) Order! The honourable senator’s time has expired.
-The national Budget is under serious challenge from the Opposition in this place as it was in another place. It is under challenge not purely as a financial and economic document- that is the subject of very grave and very relevant criticism- but because it reflects in a most serious manner a lack of political integrity on the part of the Government. Alternatively, it reflects gross political incompetence by those who framed it and those who framed the policies on which the Government went to the people. No allegation against the Government could be more serious than that it lacks political integrity. We all know the broad outline of the policies on which the Government went to the people, from whom it received a mandate. Those policies were stated explicitly and with specification, and they were placed one by one before the people who were asked for their support.
I do not commence the few remarks I wish to make only with the policy speech of the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) on behalf of his Party because we know that policy speeches essentially are political documents which are presented in general terms and in specific terms for adoption by the electorate. I commence my remarks by referring to the speech delivered by His Excellency the Governor-General on the advice of his Ministers at the opening of the Twenty-Eight Parliament. In that document the Government’s program is spelt out in terms which are undeniable and which represent the program which the Government proposed to implement in this the Twenty-Eighth Parliament. Surely that is a document on which we can rely. That is a document which, in the most precise terms, reflects the political parliamentary program of the Government. When we read this document we find that in it there is virtually no mention or very little mention of the major problem that at that time confronted the nation. Everybody knew it confronted the nation. I refer to the problem of inflation. The previous Government knew it and the previous Government did take steps, however inadequate, to do something about it.
But everybody in Australia knew that inflation was the crisis that faced Australia and everybody rested on the assurance of the Australian Labor Party in presenting its policies to the electorate that it was a problem that it could solve. The Labor Party indicated the ways in which it would be solved. But when we come to the political program of the Government as set out in the GovernorGeneral ‘s Speech, we find that this is the major reference to the great economic crisis that faced Australia, the depth of which is now becoming so manifest to everybody and is affecting so cruelly the poor people in the community as a result of the now belatedly applied policies of the Government:
As part of a continuing and comprehensive light against inflation, the Government will establish prices justification machinery, involve the national Government in the field of consumer protection, establish a Parliamentary Standing Committee to review prices in key sectors, and strengthen the laws against restrictive trade practices.
That seems to be the most specific reference to the major and critical problem that faced the Australian Government at that stage, and those are the only specific remedies that the Government indicated it intended to apply, as I read the document. It is a confidence trick on the Australian people that they should have been pursuaded that inflation was of such little moment that that was the only reference that the Government thought fit to incorporate in the speech presented to this Parliament as we approached our legislative responsibilities. That showed either a total lack of integrity on the part of the Government or total political incompetence in that the Government was not aware of the depth and seriousness of the problem and therefore the Government was not prepared to take any steps to meet it, other than those 3 steps which are mentioned in that document.
Time went on, and the obvious remedies that should have been applied were not applied. What was the immediate political activity of the Government? Within a few days of the election a 2-man Ministry was constituted. It consisted of Mr Whitlam and Mr Barnard. A whole series of actions were undertaken by the 2-man Ministry, which was really a denial of the democratic process. The actions undertaken by the 2-man ministry included things of such great moment as the returning of a passport to Mr Burchett and things of that nature. There was no attempt by that 2-man Administration to step in and handle the economic situation, which was a deepening cloud on the political and public horizon in Australia. The 2-man Administration did the things I mentioned, but the real problem was not tackled. So time went on and inflation became worse and worse. Economic remedies were not applied.
– What are the remedies? What would you do?
– There are certain remedies that can be applied. One of the great remedies, of course, is the fiscal remedy, which is the remedy through the Budget. The first step in tackling the type of inflation we have in Australia would be to effect a reduction in the field of public expenditure. But what did the Government do? We saw come into office a government which was totally inexperienced politically and which had all sorts of frustrations as a result of being out of office for 25 years. No member of the Government had any previous ministerial experience. Immediately the Ministry proliferated and it started to proliferate the growth and expansion of the Public Service. Immediately there were tremendous allocations of public funds for this increased expenditure and all the Ministers started to puruse their own particular departmental programs, all of which involved tremendous commitments of expenditure. It was obvious that at that stage no central discipline was being applied. The Treasurer (Mr Crean) had not been heard. The Prime Minister had not been heard.
We heard all the strange philosophy which is embodied in the Governor-General’s Speech, namely, that the welfare of Australia does not consist only of what one might call material prosperity; it consists of so many other things which are spelt out in glamorous and sentimental terms. No matter how good or how desirable those things are; if the basic prosperity of the nation is denied those things are absolutely worthless. Obviously there was a totally wrong order of priorities in the approach of the Government to the matters that required immediate governmental attention. That was the first grave mistake that the Government made. I refer to the failure of the central Prime Ministerial direction to control and discipline the Ministers, all of whom wanted to go on their departmental excursions and expand and build up their own ministries. They had ideas, and I suppose some credit should go to them for that, but against the background of what was developing in Australia that was a totally wrong and indefensible policy. Today we are getting the Dead Sea fruit of what was sown in those days and the consequences today are disastrous for the Australian people. That is the cold hard reality of the situation and everybody knows it. Every trade unionist knows it, every house owner and prospective house owner knows it, the worker knows it, the middle man knows it, the exporter knows it, we know it and every member of the Government knows it.
The worst thing, of course, is that the Government, in allowing its program to develop in this way, is demonstrating its own lack of integrity or its gross political incompetence. Whichever of those reasons is selected as being responsible, it is obvious that the Australian people are now developing a very deep concern about where this nation is going. I am sure that honourable senators on the Government side of the chamber who are interjecting will have had my experience: Everywhere one goes today, in every part of Australia, people are worried, anxious and concerned. There are those who, due to the policies of the Government, face disemployment and they are wondering - (Government supporters interjecting)-
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Durack)- Order!
-Mr Acting Deputy President, if honourable senators on the Government side would listen instead of speaking so much they would realise that the term I used was not unemployment; I said disemployment. By that I meant that people will be required to change their jobs because the effect of the Government’s economic policies is going to constrict certain industries and require a re-allocation of labour. Senator McAuliffe, are you anxious? You do not mind a man being thrown out of his job and being compelled to get another job which requires retraining. Evidently that does not matter to you. That is a totally cynical attitude for any parliamentarian. I have so much regard for the worker that I think his job is most precious to him and I do not agree with anybody who says that it is immaterial if Joe Blogg has to change his job. It may be all that Joe Blogg has in the world.
– I rise to a point of order. I have been misrepresented by the honourable senator. I said that if people had to change their jobs they could be rehabilitated and often retrained for a better job.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENTOrder! If Senator Byrne was allowed to make his speech without interruption an opportunity to explain would be available. There is no substance to the point of order. There are far too many interjections.
– What the honourable senator has just said by way of explanation confirms what I said, that the honourable senator is not particularly dismayed if an employee loses his job. He can get rehabilitation and be retrained.
– And get a better job.
-That may be. I stick by what I said.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENTOrder! Senator McAuliffe, I warned you once. You have been interjecting far too often.
-Thank you, Mr Acting Deputy President. I know that these things are unpalatable because they show in the Government a cynicism which is indefensible and deplorable. That is the thing that is worrying the Australian people. All these airy-fairy schemes which are now emerging are merely the figments of political imagination. The hard realities are having a disastrous effect on so many sections of the community. Belatedly, the Government, having failed to apply the necessary fiscal measures and in fact stimulating the condition of inflation by expanding expenditure in the public sector, has been forced to make dramatic alterations in its economic policy. That in itself was a complete departure from every indicator that the Government gave as to its intentions. The whole of Australia was taken on the toboggan. People were completely misled as to what would be the disposition and the activity of the Government. Let us take the 2 measures that have been introduced. Firstly, let us consider revaluation. There was no mention in this country of the prospects of revaluation until it was actually an accomplished thing. Of course, when revaluation occurs it must be done immediately and without notice.
– Do you think it was a wrong decision?
– I am not arguing that at all, Although the merits of that action may very well be argued. I am saying that the Australian peo- ple apparently were the last to get any indication it revaluation was in the mind of the Govern- ment. I want to read from a statement made by the Treasurer to the Ministerial Meeting of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development in Paris on 6 June. He spoke of inflation and said:
For example, there are certain policy measures which can be helpful in the fight against inflation which primarily affect a country’s external transactions. Where countries are experiencing inflation and at the same time are in strong balance of payments surplus, external action, such as an exchange rate revaluation, can not only help to restore a better balance in the external accounts of that country, but also can contribute to greater internal price stability.
The first indication by the Australian Treasurer about the possibility of revaluation was given not in Australia, not in this Parliament, but at a meeting in Paris about 2 months before the occurrence of the event. There again is this concealment from the Australian people of the real intent and purpose of the Government which the Australian people will not tolerate for long. They will accept many things. They will accept a divergence in policy or the presentation of a contrary policy, but they will not take it when they have been misled or left under an illusion or false impression. The one thing that the Australian people will do is ensure that a government that comes before them for endorsement of its policies will operate within the terms of those policies.
At the time of the election there was no mention by the Government, which presented itself as a centralist government, of any need to cooperate with the States or of any necessity that the Commonwealth would have to call others in aid in order to handle the economy. There was no mention of that. The Prime Minister went before the people saying that he could handle the situation. He could handle inflation and present this whole range of policies and nobody need worry. But the moment the situation developed what happens? Again I turn to what Mr Crean said in Paris. He said:
Inflation cannot be tackled by a Central Government alone. In a Federal System, such as my own, it is necessary to have the co-operation of the various State Governments.
M r Whitlam, in desperation, today has called in the aid of the State governments to help him and his Government out of the economic morass.
This reminds me of the young boy who was accused of murdering his father and mother. Having been adjudged guilty by the jury he came before the judge and asked for leniency and clemency because he was an orphan. That precisely is the position of Mr Whitlam. Having done these irreparable economic wrongs to the Australian economy and the Australian people, he calls everybody in aid in order to assist the Government in its economic dilemma. That is not good enough and for that Mr Whitlam will have to answer to the people and for that the Australian people will pass judgment on him. That judgment may come much more quickly than the honourable gentleman thinks.
I turn now to the next dramatic economic measure which Mr Whitlam has applied and that is the increase in interest rates. Let us consider the effect of this on housing. I refer to the speech delivered by the Governor-General, on the advice of the Government, at the opening of this Parliament. I would be grateful, Mr Acting Deputy President, if there was less interruption. This is what was said in the Governor-General ‘s Address at the opening of Parliament:
The Government intends to provide valuable assistance to home-owners by reducing interest payment burdens.
A few weeks after that announcement there has actually been an increase in interest rates. It will impose an intolerable interest burden because the bank rate will be altered and all other rates will follow.
– Tell us when they were increased.
– I know that honourable senators opposite have an advantage over me. They have sat in the Labor Party Caucus today, and it is possible that there an injunction was entered against the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) in relation to the policy which he has announced. As I say, honourable senators opposite have an advantage over me on that matter because they sat in Caucus and heard the ultimate decision. If the Prime Minister and his Cabinet attempt to introduce the policy which has been suggested in the newspapers, it will be a complete and total violation of what was contained in the address which was presented to this chamber by the Governor-General on behalf of the Government. That again demonstrates the lack of integrity in this Government.
It is a matter of very great seriousness that so soon after a general election- in the first Budgetthe Government is now vulnerable to these charges. I am sure that every honourable senator who sits on the Government benches today is himself suffering a qualm of political conscience at the fact that the promises which were given so enthusiastically have been so consistently and so earnestly denied. I can understand the volubility of honourable senators opposite; I can understand their concern because of the embarrassment which they must feel and the fact that they know that when they go back to the people in the electorates who supported them they will have to answer for the promises they made and now have broken. I did not make the promises; honourable senators opposite did. People say to me: ‘What about the promises of the Government when it went before the electorate?’
– Why do you hate the Labor Party so much?
– I do not hate the Labor Party, but I hate the total lack of integrity that is manifest in the Budget operation.
- Mr Acting Deputy President, on a point of order and of principle, I ask whether Senator Byrne might be allowed to be heard.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Durack)- I call Senator Byrne.
– I am indebted to Senator Cotton. It is not easy to attempt to make a speech with such constant interruptions. These increased interest rates will have a serious effect on our manufacturing industries. They could have the effect of denying to secondary industry the capital money which is necessary for expansion. In the short term it may have some counter inflationary effect, but in the long term, when inflation might ultimately be brought under some measure of control, industries will find themselves not geared and not equipped for the expansion that legitimately, properly and logically should come. It is at that stage that the economic consequences of this policy, which was so belatedly, so quickly and so dramatically applied, will become tragically apparent.
We find the same situation in the rural industries. I refer particularly to Queensland. Of course, Queensland has a particular problem. Queensland provides a great deal of the bulk of our export earnings in Australia. That might not be obvious to Senator Poyser from Victoria and he probably has not taken the trouble to investigate the matter. But Queensland’s exports of beef, minerals, sugar and things like that create the great bulk of our export earnings. Certainly up to the present- almost to today- Victoria and other southern manufacturing States have imported from Queensland the materials which they fabricate in their secondary industries.
Queensland in particular is affected by any upward movement in the valuation of the Australian dolar because it affects the prices at which Queensland can sell its commodities and it also affects the availability of markets. That is particularly serious in Queensland, and over the years many indicators have pointed up the consequence for Queensland industries of any change in export demand and export availability.
A study of the unemployment in the export industries in the State of Queensland during the drought in the 1960s- in 1965-66 and, to a lesser extent, in 1968-69- indicates the principle that the vitality of export industry affects in a preeminent way Queensland’s economic indicators. During the Victorian drought of 1968-69 which had an effect on employment in that State, the consequences were the equivalent of unemploment in the work force of 1.4 per cent, but when a similar drought hit Queensland the consequences were very much higher- the unemployment figure went as high as 3 per cent. Therefore, any movement in the export market particularly and deleteriously affects the State of Queensland. Therefore, it is all right to look at this revaluation of the Australian dollar, but I expect that Senator McAuliffe- other honourable senators opposite may disagree with me on many things- would be as concerned as I am about the economic consequences to Queensland and to Queensland’s primary industries as a result of the revaluation of the Australian dollar.
– I think that we sold our minerals too cheaply.
-That may well be. I do not think that the rest of Australia altogether appreciates the tremendous contribution that a State like Queensland makes to the gaining of our external balances which enable the import of goods which are fabaricated in secondary industries in the major States of Victoria and New South Wales. Nobody can look at the economic situation today without having some grave cause for concern. Nobody can look at the economic situation today without an even graver cause for concern because of the fact that at the present time there have been a loss of confidence in the ability of the Government to provide the right remedies or even to have an awareness that the remedies should be applied and to understand what the problem really is.
– Who is leading in the gallup polls?
-If the Australian Labor Party is leading, when the consequences of the Governments policy become apparent there will be a total reversal of the trend. That is almost inevitable.
– You made those predictions last year.
– We made no such predictions, but that will be the inevitable consequences of the economic policies now being pursued by the Government. Today, every section of the Australian community has been antagonised by the Government. The Government is in confrontation with the medical profession, private schools, rural producers and the workers. The Government, by bad administration, by irresponsible administration and by a lack of sympathetic consideration, has antagonised almost every section of the Australian community. That is a tragically bad situation for a nation such as Australia.
We were under the impression, from the protestations of the Government, that with the Government would come an era of co-operation, an era of industrial peace and an era of progress and prosperity, with inflation under control. Not one of those predictions has been honoured and not one of them has come true. What the future holds will be even more disastrous than what has happened in the immediate past. I hope that the Australian people, adverting to this Budget, to the election promises and to the parliamentary protestations about the program and performance of the Government, will very quickly gain an acute awareness of the Government in Canberra today and that when the opportunity arises they will seize that opportunity and, in view of the Government’s performance, dismiss the Government as it deserves to be dismissed.
– After listening to Senator Byrne, one can well understand the stance that he has adopted and, indeed, the stance which the Australian Democratic Labor Party generally adopts. That Party’s stocks are so low that it is obvious that no one is taking a great deal of notice of what its members say. They have reached the terrible situation where, after many years, they have a government that they cannot dictate to.
This is the first Labor Budget for 23 years. I think that members of the Opposition are like a lot of other people in the community. They are rather like a group of farmers to whom I spoke last week: They are suffering from future shock; they do not know what it is all about. They have yet to sit down, put their thinking caps on and rationalise a little. When they do I am sure that they will realise that this Budget lays down guidelines that will be of a great deal of benefit for many years to come to the Australian population at large. The previous Government- the Government which was defeated on 2 Decemberrelied upon the guidelines that were laid down by the Chifley Government in the post-war years. It declined to update those guidelines and its philosophies after it was elected to office in the immediate post-war years. As a consequence, Australia as a nation and its people suffered. The previous Government sold Australia down the drain. As a consequence of its actions the supporters of the previous Government are sitting where they are at present, although it did take a long time for them to be removed from office. Quite frankly, I believe that the Budget is a good one.
– Is that what the Victorian Dairyfarmers Association thinks? What about being truthful as to what it thinks.
– It is not possible in a speech limited to half an hour to cover all aspects of the Budget. However, I want to make a few brief comments concerning one proposal in particular which has endeared itself to me. It is something about which the previous Government did nothing for 23 years. I refer to the proposal to allocate a rather small sum in the totality of the Budget- the sum of $ 1.5 m- towards the cost of setting up regional councils for social development. Honourable senators, whether they reside in the great metropolitan areas of this country or on its rural slopes, will appreciate that there is a dire need in the community for social workers. There are quite a large number of rural towns and some quite large rural cities in Victoria which to my knowledge do not have social workers. The point is there are just not enough social workers to go around. As a consequence the Australian Labor Party has been obliged to start off at the grass roots level in the training of social workers. I hope that this training scheme will train social workers in the rural aspects of social welfare problems. I say that because a totally different problem exists in the rural areas from the one that exists in the metropolitan areas.
I wish to refer now to some of the measures pertaining to primary industry that are contained in the Budget. Once again a despairing attitude has been shown in this regard by the Government’s opponents in the Parliament and by some people in the community at large. Those who have looked at these proposals in a rational manner have not held up their hands in despair. They are the ones who do not seem to suffer from future shock. Let me refer to the decision of the Government to impose a levy on the export of meat in order to pay for the cost of meeting the standards set by the American authorities. I believe that the standards which have been set are largely higher than the American authorities demand of their producers. I think that there may be some political motivation behind the setting of these standards. Until this point in time the tab for the meeting of these standards has been picked up by the taxpayer at large. I am not prepared to say whether that should or should not have been the case. It should be remembered that exports have risen from $364m to $6 12m in the last 12 months. In that period the volume rose from 373 million kilograms to 545 million kilograms. In those circumstances, I believe that the meat industry can well afford to pay the charge that has been struck to meet the cost of the inspection of its meat.
– Is the 0.6c to be used for defeating brucellosis or for meat insepection?
-To the best of my knowledge it is to be used for meat inspection. If one attends the various cattle sales that are held around the countryside one will see bullocks being sold for $500 a head. One can turn a meaty cow out of the dairy and, depending on its breed, receive anything from $140 to $240 for it. I believe that the meat industry is in a fairly affluent situation at the present time. I am not denying the fact that the industry has had problems in recent times. It may well be that the industry is now merely receiving a little of the cream that it missed out on in years gone by. Let us be perfectly frank about it and admit this is one of the problems that beset industries of a primary nature because of the system under which we live- capitalism. One can like it or lump it, but it all gets back to the basics of the system under which we live. I hope that the Minister for Primary Industry (Senator Wriedt), together with the meat industry, will before very long evolve some plan for the rationalisation of the industry that will take punting, if one can call it that, out of the industry. As someone said recently, we seem to be able to sell most other commodities by weight. We sell our wool by weight. We do not walk up to a bale of wool and give it a kick in the ribs and say that it will go about 1,000 lb or 1,200 lb. I think it is time the meat industry got down to a basic system of weight and grade right across the Commonwealth. If it were to do that I think it would be in a much more stable situation year after year.
Earlier Senator Webster mentioned something about what the Victorian Dairyfarmers Association thought about the loss of the dairying subsidy. Quite frankly, from my discussions with members of that organisation and from the position I hold in it, I think it has adopted a very rational approach. It is not the only one to do so.
– Does it agree with it? The honourable senator does not appear to have answered the question. Does it agree with it?
-Quite frankly I believe that by and large it does. A little later in my speech I will quote from an article in a journal which I think gives a fair description of what the average dairy farmer in Victoria thinks about it. I am not denying that some areas of the dairying industry will be fraught with problems because of the phasing out of the subsidy- the loss of 2c per lb on butterfat- but, as I have said, I think that by and large the industry in Victoria has accepted the loss and is prepared to battle on without it.
– Does the honourable senator think it is fair that it should have to battle on without it?
– Let me quote what the leader of the largest milk co-operative in Victoria and, I think, in Australia had to say in a journal published recently, the ‘Murray Goulburn News’. The headline reads: ‘Don’t Despair- the Forecast is Fair’. The person to whom I am referring is Mr E. Curtis, who is the Chairman of the Murray Goulburn Co-operative Co. Ltd. He said:
Few of us have enjoyed being described as ‘subsidised dairy fanners ‘. Many of us, over the years, have thought aloud that we in Victoria, at least, might be better off without what has often amounted to a $27m public relations millstone slung around our necks.
Now we are going to find out what it is like.
We have watched our friendly rivals in New Zealand ‘walk tall ‘ and boast of their efficiency and their ability to cope without direct subsidies. We have seen the New Zealanders use their subsidy-free status to help win them a slice of the British market until at least 1977.
Let us be frank. The subsidy has been useful for most of us. In slim years it has put a little cream on the skim. Other times it has helped buy that replacement car.
But for most of us the loss of the subsidy over the next two years is not going to be a disaster. In the short-term it may mean that we have to work a little harder. But if one thinks of it in terms of running an additional three cows on the average farm the sacrifice may not be too great . . . not if we gain in return some additional self-respect, more sympathetic consideration from the public and the Government, and a greater say over our own destiny.
Much will depend on how we as thinking dairy farmers shape up to our future. We now have a greater incentive than” ever before to put our house in order- to throw off the cobwebs and the slogans of the past and show the world that we are as efficient as the New Zealanders and fully capable of managing our own affairs. lt may be that many of us have been guilty of that cardinal sin . . . of swallowing our own propaganda. Certainly we have accepted too readily many of the things our leaders have told us. We have been too uncritical of their performance, too ready to accept their arguments and their decisions, too uninterested in the policies they have formulated on our behalf.
Any dairy farmer who is not making a good living and who is not taking a keen interest in the affairs of his industry has only himself to blame. A man who sits in a darkened room should not be surprised if he is blinded by a sudden blaze of light.
We can anticipate some reduction in farm returns from dairying this season. That is virtually inevitable with a $9m cut in the subsidy and a reduced return from exports- especially of butter.
But there is no sign of a return to the gloomy days of the sixties. Skimmed milk powder and milk products are still bringing excellent prices and are in great demand. If anything, we expect prices to strengthen in the coming months. Customers are still standing in line for these products.
He finishes up:
The barometer is set ‘fair’; there is no cause for panic
I hope that that answers Senator Webster’s question regarding how the dairy industry in Victoria feels about the loss of subsidy. At least a large section of the dairy industry in Victoria thinks along those lines. Let us go a little further and look at the situation for the dairy industry in Australia regarding market potential for the year. These market prospects have improved quite remarkably in recent months. It is estimated that Australia will produce 1 90,000 tons of butter this year. I understand that there are orders or inquiries for some 220,000 tons of butter. Canada, which took 2,000 or 3,000 tons last year is seeking 15,000 tons this year. Therein may lie a tale. Canada implemented quotas on dairy production 7 years ago. Last year Japan took 6,000 tons of butter from Australia. I understand that this year it will be taking some 15,000 tons. Japan has also increased its order for cheese. This year that order is for over 20,000 tons. The net result of these markets, both in price and volume, may well result, in my opinion, in equalised returns to the farmer being high enough to offset the loss of bounty. I even hope that the returns will be higher, because I think that those of us who know anything at all about primary industry realise that this industry like every other industry is obliged to pay higher costs for its inputs.
Another matter which has created quite a furore among primary producers has been the alteration in depreciation allowances. It has caused a great deal of emotion. I think that when these people sit down and think about it- particularly if they sit down and discuss the matter with their accountants- they will realise that they are not as badly off at this time as they believe they are. The loss of investment allowance was also suffered by secondary industry. In my opinion it was in reality a lurk for the Collins Street and Pitt Street farmer. However it did have a disadvantage in that it led to a great deal of over capitalisation on many farms. Again I believe that one can walk on to many farms- my own may have been one of them- where there was a tendency to over capitalise because of this investment allowance.
– That is because the honourable senator drives a Mercedes. That is why it is over capitalised.
-It is strange that I did not buy that until after I left the farm, Senator Webster, is it not? When I say ‘over capitalised ‘ I believe that many items such as tractors, balers, headers, and what have you, were traded in not because they were worn out but because they had been written off as a depreciation for income tax purposes. This was certainly good for the makers of tractors, balers and headers. It was good for the sellers and agents in the country towns. It certainly gave a little bit of drived to many country towns. But by and large it was not of great value to the average farmer. In my experience a tractor on the average dairy farm has anything from 7 to 10 years life. Yet one consistently saw tractors being sold in some cases after three or four years just because this investment allowance was there. Other depreciable items will now be written off over thier life rather than over an artificial period. The move to have such items as clearing, initial plowing and sowing down along with drainage and soil conservation depreciated over 10 years rather than in the year of actual expenditure must act as a brake on the ravages of human beings on our forests and other marginal land. This type of depreciation allowance was utilised by the speculator who moved in, bought up cheap country, cleared it, sowed it down and cashed it in. The only return he wanted was depreciation allowance and capital gain. He certainly did not want any return from farming.
– But is that sort of development bad?
– In the world in which we live there are a large number of people who are concerned about conservation. I think that a party in national government has to keep its ear tuned to what the populace at large is saying.
– Certainly, but does the honourable senator think that all development is bad?
– I do not think that all development is bad. What I am trying to point out is that the average and traditional farmer may have cleared a small area once in a lifetime. He is not the fellow who goes out and clears land year after year, so that in reality this was a benefit to the Collins Street and Pitt Street farmers, the doctors and lawyers who reside in rural towns and cities and who seem to be able to build up four or five farms within a very short time using this type of depreciation allowance on their income and then cashing it to get a capital gain. This is the type of operation which I believe any government aware of the thinking in the community should have accepted long ago. Quite frankly, in my opinion sufficient land is already developed in this country. If every acre which has been opened up and cleared is farmed correctly and to the best advantage there is no limit to the amount of agricultural produce we could turn off without going into these bushland and marginal areas.
– The honourable senator has a great vision.
-That is more than the previous Government had. I will not take any great credit for vision but I certainly say that the previous Government had none. Generally, I believe that large areas of primary industry, particularly in wheat, wool, dairying and meat are in for what might be called good times. I hope that before long Bills can be introduced into this Parliament to implement the Labor Party’s proposals for stability in meat and wool, particularly the latter.
In closing my remarks I want to congratulate the Minister for Primary Industry (Senator Wriedt) on his attitude to the problems that he inherited and also for his attitude in stating time and again in answer to questions in the Senate that he will not be rushed into making ad hoc decisions that affect primary industry. I believe that, given time and thought, the primary industries under Senator Wriedt ‘s leadership will benefit greatly. Although the proposals that the Labor Party has adopted may appear in the short term to be short-sighted or calamitous in the view of some honourable senators opposite, they will prove in the long term to be of benefit to primary industry.
– I found myself in complete agreement with the Labor Premier of South Australia when he said that the Budget, the first one to be brought down by a socialist government for 24 years, was inflationary. Also I find myself sharing his displeasure and dismay at some of the implications of the present Budget to the people of South Australia who have been suffering under a State Labor government for some time. They were deluded into hoping that with the advent of a Labor government on the Federal scene they would be doing pretty well. But such is not the case. I believe that the penalties that have been immediately imposed upon the people of South Australia, in common with other people throughout this country, are quite incredible. I am amazed that Senator Primmer, who has just spoken, would have us believe that he has some concern for rural industry. He chose to ignore many of the impositions that have been placed upon rural industries as a result of this Budget. For example, he disregarded the increased excise on petrol which in some areas would approach 7c a gallon. He chose to ignore the increased duty on diesel fuel which amounts to about 5c a gallon. He chose to ignore increased tax on private companies which is confined not only to city areas but also has an impact on the rural sector. He chose to ignore the discontinuation of benefits such as the investment allowance. He mentioned the discontinuation of deductions for depreciation. But there are other things that he should have mentioned and showed some concern for because the value of these other benefits that have been withdrawn amount to $ 147m in a full year. These are the things that concern honourable senators on this side of the Senate.
I was interested also in what Senator Mulvihill had to say. Sometimes he is a little hard to follow, but he mentioned the question of strikes on more than one occasion. It is interesting to note that since the Labor Government has been in power, strikes have increased to an alarming extent. I have a newpaper cutting before me which shows how significant is the increase in the loss of work as a result of the Labor Party’s attitude to strikes since it has been in power. The article sets out the working days lost in each State during the first half of this year compared with the corresponding period for 1972. In New South Wales for the first half of this year 556,900 working days were lost due to strikes compared with 336,000 days in the same period last year. In Victoria, 423,200 working days were lost in the first half of this year compared with 298,300 for the corresponding period in 1972. In South Australia, the figures were 49,100 working days compared with 23,200 days. This demonstrates what happens under administration of the sort from which we are suffering in Australia today.
I would like to mention one or two other important matters that have worried the Premier of South Australia. I think that he has very good reason to be concerned. For example, the brandy excise has placed tremendous pressures upon the grape growers of South Australia. I find it quite extraordinary that honourable senators on the Government side who created such a tremendous uproar with respect to the wine excise should accept this penalty that has been imposed upon the grape growers of Australia and particularly of South Australia which produces approximately 90 per cent of Australia’s brandy. Quite correctly, this has brought upon the Federal Government the wrath of the Labor Premier of South Australia. I share his wrath. I think that it is disgraceful that the Labor Government which purports to represent the interest of grapegrowers in South Australia on the one hand should suggest that the wine excise be removed and on the other hand -
– We removed the wine excise, too.
-Certainly, the Government removed it. But by quite incredible means the Government has imposed this added burden upon the growers. Not only does that give the people of South Australia some concern, but also the implications of some of the measures suggested in the document from which many, if not all the budgetary measures have been taken- I refer to the Coombs task force report- give the Premier of South Australia further reason for concern. We find in that document that the Coombs task force suggested to the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) that the Dartmouth Dam project should be deferred or delayed. Of course, the Prime Minister, not being concerned about the development of South Australia and the urgent need to ensure an adequate water supply, wrote to the Premier of South Australia- to the Premier of a Government of his political colour- and made this preposterous suggestion that the project should be deferred. It is no wonder that the Premier of South Australia reacted against the Prime Minister in such a manner. It is no wonder that the Liberal-Country Party senators from South Australia mounted a united attack upon the Prime Minister and the irresponsible people who reside temporarily on the Treasury benches of the Parliament. It is no wonder that the senators from South Australia reacted in that way. I am comforted by the fact that the Liberal governments in Victoria and New South Wales have agreed with the Labor Government in South Australia that this project must go ahead. These are the matters that give reason for concern to people who are interested in the future of the State that I am happy to represent.
Another measure that gave rise for comment from the Premier of South Australia was the suggestion that the freight rate on Leigh Creek coal should be increased. One of the reasons why the power stations were established at Port Augusta, it being relatively close to Leigh Creek, was the fact that the Commonwealth Government of the day- a Liberal-Country Party government- was able to ensure that the freight cost from Leigh Creek to Port Augusta was at an economic level. This was one of the major reasons why the power stations were established in that particular area of South Australia. This is the reason, of course, why South Australia enjoyed the cheapest power in Australia for a long period, until recently when the Labor Party in South Australia chose to increase the rates of electricity charges by 1 1 per cent. I can understand the concern of the Premier of South Australia when he recoils at the prospect of further increases in freight rates from Leigh Creek which must inevitably be reflected in further costs to consumers in South Australia.
A number of other matters cause me a deal of concern. I note in the report of the Coombs task force that mention is made of certain railway projects in South Australia. It was suggested that perhaps the Tarcoola-Alice Springs railway line project should be deferred for a further period. This proposal in my view shows a complete lack of interest in the development not only of South Australia but also of the Northern Territory. The previous Government in its wisdom, recognising the need for more adequate rail transport to Alice Springs, saw fit to set aside approximately $2. 5m for the purpose of survey work on that line and also to ensure that plans were laid for the continuation of this project which is most important to South Australia. The cost of that project would be approximately $6 5 m and it would assist tremendously in the development of South Australia and the Northern Territory.
While I am talking about transport matters, I question the progress on the standardisation of the Adelaide-Port Pirie rail link. This matter has been the subject of discussion between the previous Commonwealth Government and the South Australian Government over a number of years. It is my view that we have been constantly frustrated by the South Australian Government because it has not been able to make up its mind where certain lines ought to go. I am concerned that this project ought to go ahead as a matter of urgency. Until South Australia is connected to the east and to the west by an adequate rail service, the progress of that State will be retarded.
I must say that I do support the proposals with respect to the amalgamation of Commonwealth and rural railway lines throughout Australia. I believe that this is a move that will help to rationalise freight costs to the more remote parts of this country. I pay a compliment to the Government for taking the initiative in this regard because I am quite certain that this action in the long term will be of benefit to Australia.
The matter of suburban transport is of concern to me also. The State government must be given much more money than has been provided in this Budget for that purpose. Senator Mulvihill directed attention to this matter. It is quite an important aspect and one for which the previous Government had similar concern. I am worried only from the point of view that not enough money has been directed to that proposal.
In his speech, Senator Carrick mentioned one or two ways in which the Australian Labor Party has hoodwinked the people of Australia. The proposed increased expenditure on education is an example. The Labor Party claims, incorrectly, that $404m has been added for expenditure on education purposes in Australia. But it has neglected to mention that $ 144.6m was taken away from the States as a result of the tertiary grants -
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Durack)- Order! In conformity with the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate, I formally put the question:
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– Tonight I appeal to the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Murphy) on a matter of very grave international and national significance. I refer to a most serious matter for debate and action at the General Assembly of the United Nations which meets on the third Tuesday of this month in New York. It will be 1 1 years, on 18 October, since I appealed in this chamber for the then Government to raise before the United Nations the question of the persecution of Jews within the Soviet Union. Despite a good deal of abuse, the Liberal Government saw the justice of the plea. It took action before the United Nations. It was supported by a number of significant governments of the free world. As a result, considerable numbers of Jews were permitted to migrate from Moscow to Israel. They were granted a previously unobtainable freedom. If any honourable senator has any doubt as to the truth of this fact, I suggest that that honourable senator check with the present Minister for Science (Mr Morrison) who at that time was one of our diplomats in Moscow.
Tonight’s reference is again an appeal to our Government to take some action on a matter inside the Soviet Union. It is a matter which is capable of being raised before the United Nations General Assembly which meets, as I said, on the third Tuesday of this month in New York. It is the question of the supression, imprisonment and torture of political dissidents inside the Soviet Union. I am moved to make this appeal to the Government by a most extraordinary interview given by Alexander Solzhenitsyn to 2 Western Journalists at the beginning of this month. Alexander Solzhenitsyn is Russia’s most distinguished writer and a holder of the Nobel Peace Prize. Although he is virtually imprisoned behind the Soviet curtain, Alexander Solzhenitsyn has issued a blast of criticism of the Soviet administration which none of us here in the safety and the security of this chamber could hope to equal. I quote the report as it appeared in the Melbourne ‘Age ‘. It states:
Alexander Solzhenitsyn told his interviewers that he might suddenly be declared ‘mysteriously dead’. He abused and derided Russia’s advanced state order’ and hailed the dissidents who opposed it. He also explained their need for outside support and some doubts as to whether the West is really listening. He also defined the spirit in which the repressions of today ought to be confronted.
For much of what I have to say I rely not only on Alexander Solzhenitsyn but also on his fellow countryman, Dr Andrei Sakharov, the father of Russia’s hydrogen bomb, who was helped in the past in his work by traitors like Fuchs and NunnMay. Sakharov was nominated by Alexander Solzhenitsyn for this years ‘s Nobel Peace Prize. As honourable senators know, the former winner of that Prize has the right to nominate someone to be the subsequent holder of it. Sakharov is technically free in Russia but is subject to vitriolic attacks in the Government controlled Press, radio and television which depict him as a warmonger. Solzhenitsyn points out that citizenship in Russia is not an inalienable right for every human being born on its soil. It is a kind of coupon controlled by an exclusive clique who can declare a person deprived of his homeland if they do not approve of his convictions. He goes on to say that there are many hundreds, perhaps thousands, who disagree with the Soviet regime and are accordingly put into mental asylums. Whether this is better than being shot, as was standard practice under Stalin, I do not know. At all events, it strikes me as being an appalling crime. The speech that Solzhenitsyn made in his
Nobel Prize winning essay was made from behind the Iron Curtain, and he was hoping that the fact that he was in such physical danger himself would give added impetus to the speech and cause far more notice to be taken of it in the West. He said that he was disappointed. He said:
I was wrong. It is as if what I had said had never been said. And maybe it is as useless to repeat it today.
I appeal to the Government to take the matter to the United Nations so as to show Sulzhenitsyn that his appeal has not fallen on deaf ears. He referred to the fact that those who have never experienced the jamming of foreign radio broadcasts cannot understand the frustration that it creates, especially in a country without a free Press. Sulzhenitsyn says:
It means the degradation of a man to a robot ‘s level.
We have known for years that Russian elections have been a bit of a farce- one-party elections of the faithful chosen by the authorities from among the party workers. Despite that, I believe that this plea is worth making. One of the few Soviet military men with the courage to buck the system is General Pyotr Grigorenko. He is now in a mental home for his pains, receiving injections of the drug halobiridol which damages the brain. Can we imagine the enormity of this? Imagine putting anyone in this country in an asylum because he disagreed politically with Mr Whitlam or even with Senator Murphy?
– He ought to be put in if he agrees.
– I want to keep this debate on a non-political basis. It is far too serious for party politics. In Russia the mere fact that Grigorenko disagreed with the Soviet tyranny was held to be proof of his insanity. Listen to Solzhenitsyn’s words on Grigorenko, because they ought to ring in our ears. Solzhenitsyn says:
When from the ranks of our glittering and decorated Generals this lone Grigorenko appeared and was brave enough to express his non-conformist view about the course of the last War and about today’s Soviet society- a view which was in fact strictly Marxist Leninist- his opinions were held to be symptoms of insanity.
Is it not incredible that a nation which can launch satellites, cosmonauts, nuclear submarines and intercontinental ballistic missiles is utterly unable to devise a social system which will allow its people to live in freedom and dignity? However, Sozhenitsyn is not alone. The physicist Andrei Sakharov to whom I referred earlier supports him to the hilt. Both of them expect to be arrested at any time. Despite this, they have spoken out. Sakharov told 14 Western journalists that Soviet psychiatrists were injecting the depressant drug halobiridol into sane men and women in asylums. He named in particular the dissident physicist Leonid Plyusch. Sakharov referred to the forthcoming psychiatrists conference to be held at Georgia in Russia. He urged the foreign psychiatrists to demand the right to visit dissidents held in mental hospitals and, if permission is refused, they should not have any contact with Soviet psychiatrists who, Sakharov said, were accomplices in these crimes.
I realise that the Australian Government might say that this is an internal Soviet matter and that we will wash our hands of it, but to me that sounds like Pontius Pilate talking. Or the Government might say: ‘What good would such a protest do? We would just be beating the air. ‘ I answer that attitude with the words of Solzhenitsyn which prove that a real protest might- I emphasise the word ‘might’- be successful. He said:
International information, ideas, facts and human protests do slip through and have an influence. It is important to understand that the East is not at all indifferent to protests from public opinion in the West. On the contrary, it has deadly fear of them and only of them. But protests had this impact within the Soviet Union only when it is backed by the united might voice of hundreds of prominent people- by the opinions of a whole continent.
Australia is a whole continent. If Mr Whitlam were to take our protest over this barbarous conduct to the United Nations when it meets next week, I believe he would have the blessing of all people of goodwill in this Commonwealth. I ask honourable senators opposite to imagine for one moment what would happen if this sort of conduct were attributed publicly to the Rhodesians or the South Africans. Hansard would run red with indignant blood and I would not blame anyone for that, for so it should. Two American Government departments have already made their co-operation dependant upon Russia granting freedom to its dissidents. Sir Alex Haddow, Professor Emeritus in Experimental Pathology at London University has resigned his honorary membership of the Soviet Academy of Science on the same issue.
This is no more a purely internal issue than is apartheid. I have endeavoured to avoid with studious care and extraordinary restraint any attempt to make this a party political matter. I refer the Government to the very worth while result of the Liberal Government’s protest in 1962. That protest was savagely attacked at the time but it bore very fruitful results for several hundred elderly Jews. I know that Senator Murphy is a man of humanitarian tendencies because of his statement in regard to the forthcoming Bill of Rights and I offer this Government a chance to redeem its humanitarian image by taking appropriate action at the United Nations without delay.
Senator POYSER (Victoria) < 1 1.12)- I listened with great interest to the matters raised by Senator Hannan. I think we should also consider today what has happened in Chile. Equally we should have the same compassion in relation to the overthrow of an elected government in Chile. The President of that great country, a president who was elected democratically by the people, has been forced to take his own life because of the intervention of those who would not accept the decisions of the people who elected a person under the democratic system. When we look at what Senator Hannan has raised we should also think about the intervention of a very great nation in many countries throughout the world and I refer to the United States of America. The intervention of the Central Intelligence Agency in matters involving murder and the overthrow of democratically elected governments should be considered in the same strain.
Senator Hannan made a plea that this matter not to be treated as a political issue, yet he used satirical remarks at one stage of his speech in relation to the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Murphy). I applaud Senator Hannan for raising this matter if he honestly believes that the principle should apply everywhere in the world and that it should apply in all countries which have faced this kind of situation.
– I do.
-It should apply to Portugal, it should apply to Spain and it should apply to Chile.
– And Uganda.
-Anywhere at all where this kind of thing happens.
– Do not let us mess it up with politics.
-Oh, come now. One of the greatest tragedies is that a great nation like the United States of America has been able to move into other countries, particularly in South America, in order to create revolution, the destruction of human beings and the assassination of persons who have been elected to leadership. They have been able to do this even in Vietnamand yet we find this holier than thou attitude in relation to one isolated case that Senator Hannan chooses to raise tonight. Let us put it on the line. If we are going to have this purity which
Senator Hannan has discovered so belated in his term in this House, let him get up at some stage and go through the whole ambit of what is happening in the world in relation to the great powers- and not isolated to one great power only. I think that if the record was examined and the truth told we would readily find that the CIA and the intervention of the United States of America in many countries throughout the world have been more devastating than the case which Senator Hannan has raised on the adjournment tonight.
- Senator Hannan has requested that the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) take certain action in regard to the statements that have been made about the events in the Soviet Union. I shall convey the honourable senator’s remarks to the Prime Minister. As for what was said by Senator Poyser, it is a great tragedy that the leader of another country who was democratically elected has been overthrown by the military forces of his country and has taken his own life. It is distressing that that should have happened in a country where, as we know, efforts were made to prevent him from coming to office by those outside Chile. For this to have happened after a relatively short time would cause grave concern to everyone who hears that a democratically elected leader has been overthrown by illegal military forces. We all look forward to the restoration of democracy in Chile.
- Mr President, I want to explain a certain matter, if I may.
– Do you claim to have been misrepresented?
– I understood that this was the adjournment debate.
-So it is, but you have already spoken.
– Then I ask for leave to make a statement.
-Is leave granted?
– There is one objection. Leave is not granted.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 11.18 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated:
asked the Attorney-General, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, upon notice:
To what extent have Commonwealth funds been allocated directly to Aboriginals or to Aboriginal societies or associations; if so, to which persons or associations since the Australian Labor Party came to office in 1 972?
– The Minister for Aboriginal Affairs has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
Commonwealth funds are allocated directly to Aboriginals or to societies or associations concerned with Aboriginal Affairs from the Capital Fund for Aboriginal Enterprises and from the Aboriginal Advancement Trust Account.
The Capital Fund for Aboriginal Enterprises is established to provide finance to Aboriginals wishing to set up their own businesses. Between 2 December 1972 and 2 April 1973, 16 persons or associations received loans totalling $284,490. In addition, in the period, shares were taken up in two companies: Aboriginal and Islander Marketing Pty Ltd ($100,000) and R. H. & W. E. Smith General Contracting ($50,000). In order that a proper banker-client relationship may be maintained with loan applicants it is not appropriate to disclose the names of any persons or associations applying for such loans.
The following are the grants in aid made to Aboriginal societies or groups between 2 December 1 972 and 1 6 May 1 973:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice:
– The Minister for Civil Aviation has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, upon notice:
– The Minister for Aboriginal Affairs has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question.
In accordance with existing conditions, certain officers in the Australian Public Service, irrespective of race, who are under 18 years of age and in receipt of salar)’ below certain levels and living away from home, are entitled to travel from their place of employment to their homes twice a year at Departmental expense. lt is understood that a number of Aboriginal girls employed in the Australian Public Service in Canberra returned home at Easter under one or other of the above schemes.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice:
Are the statistics and medical information contained in the article ‘The medical dangers of liberalising the law on abortion’ by Kathleen Woolf, in The Canberra Times of 2 May 1973, substantially correct; if not, what are the facts.
– The Minister for Health has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
For the sake of clarity the answer is in the form of comparisons between the statistics in the article and statistics researched from official sources according to the sequence followed in the article. 1. (a) K. Woolf- Maternal death rate for all births in England and Wales 1966-19.6 maternal deaths per 100,000 births; 1971,13.4.
Official-1966-25.8 maternal deaths per 100,000 births (223 maternal deaths, 863,066 total births); 1971, 16.8 (133 maternal deaths, 793,054 total births).
Comment-The official figure is the usual manner in which the maternal death rate is expressed. However, if the deaths from abortion are subtracted from the number of maternal deaths and expressed as a ratio to total births, the figures are 1966,19.6; 1971-13.4.
Source-The Registrar-General’s Statistical Review of England and Wales, 1970. Pan 1-The Registrar-General’s Quarterly Review for England and Wales, 3rd Quarter 1 972. 2. (a) K. Woolf- 1 970- 1 9.8 maternal deaths per 100,000 abortions
Official- 1 970-maternal deaths (includes deaths from abortions) 146; deaths from legally induced abortions (LCD. codes 640 plus 641) 10; deaths from ‘other’ abortions 22; number of legally induced abortions 83,851.
Comment- It is statistically invalid to express maternal deaths as a rate per 100,000 abortions as the two are dissimiliar. However, the statistic intended is probably the rate of maternal death from legally induced abortions per 100,000 legally induced abortions, and results in a figure of 1 1 .9.
Source-The Registrar-General’s Statistical Review of England and Wales 1970, Pan 1. 3. (a) K. Woolf- England and Wales-legally induced abortions; 1968,25,000; 1971, 113,000; 1972, 156,000.
Official-1968-22,256 (For 8 months only): 1971, 126,774; 1972, 156,714(provisional figure).
Source- Chief Medical Officer, London 16.7.73. 4. (a) K. Woolf- South Australia- abortions performed monthly during 1970: 29, 61, 75, 106, 132, 151 and so on. 1970, 58 abortions for 1,000 births. Jan-June 1971, 93 abortions for 1,000 births. Predicted: 1971, 102 abortions for 1,000 births.
Official- South Australia- abortions performed monthly during 1970: 29,61,75, 106,99, 112, 132, 174, 109, 142, 151, 140. 1970: 58.8 abortions for 1,000 births. Jan-June 1971: 90.7 abortions for 1,000 births. 1971: 104.7 (actual).
Source- ‘The Statutory Committee to Examine and Report on Abortions’ Report for Year Ending 7 January 1971 and Second Annual Report for the Year 1971 ‘ ‘Summary of Vital and Population Statistics’ September Quarter 1972 C.B.C.S. RefNo.4.11. 5. (a) K. Woolf- Data collected from statements of 582 woman granted abortions in two teaching hospitals in South Australia show that 42 per cent had never used contraceptives and a further 40 per cent were not using contraception when the pregnancy now being aborted actually occurred.
Comment- Correctly quoted.
Source- ‘Medical Abortion in South Australia- The first 12 months under new Legislation ‘. Medical Journal of Australia. A. F. Connon. September 1971. 6. (a) K. Woolf- Abortion statistics quoted from a paper Legal Abortion: A Critical Assessment of its Risks’ Dr Stallworthy, Dr Moolgaoker and Dr Walsh, Lancet, December 1971.
Comment- Correctly quoted. 7. (a) K. Woolfe- ‘ With a really prolonged follow-up a morbidity rate of 30 per cent is a fair estimate ‘.
Comparison- ‘With a really prolonged follow-up that is, several years- a 30 per cent morbidity rate may not be an overestimate’.
Source-Latent Morbidity after Abortion’ British Medical Journal, March 1973.
K. Woolfe- “Ectopic (tubal) pregnancies increase two or three-fold after a previous abortion; there is a four-fold increase in pelvic inflammation and menstrual disorders; . . . Between 2 per cent and 5 per cent of women aborted may subsequently be sterile . . . ‘
Comparison-‘. . . a 100 to 150 per cent increase in extrauterine pregnancies, a four-fold increase in pelvic inflammatory conditions, menstrual and other disorders, and an increase in sterility’. ‘A Swedish Government report refers to 4 to 5 per cent increase in sterility following induced abortion; a Norwegian paper quotes 3.4 per cent. There are other papers quoting 2 to 5 per cent sterility*.
Sources- Wynn, M and Wynn, A. (1972). ‘Some Consequences of Induced Abortion to Children Bom Subsequently’. London, Foundation for Education and Research in Childbearing. 9. (a) K. Woolfe- ‘For example, one British survey shows that a previous abortion increases the chances of still birth or death in the first week after birth by 50 percent; other countries report a 100 per cent increase. In addition there may be a 40 per cent increase in premature births and these are known to be associated so often with impaired mental and physical development’.
Comparison- ‘The British Perinatal Mortality Survey showed a 50 per cent increase in subsequent perinatal mortality with one abortion. Papers from other countries showed a doubling of perinatal mortality rates following the liberalization of abortion, a 40 per cent increase in premature births, a 100 to 150 per cent increase in extrauterine pregnancies, a four-fold increase in pelvic inflammatory conditions, menstrual and other disorders’.
Source- Wynn, M and Wynn, A. (1972). ‘Some Consequences of Induced Abortion to Children Born Subsequently’. London, Foundation for Education and Research in Childbearing. 10. (a) K. Woolfe- ‘It is estimated by these researchers that 200 seriously handicapped children are being born each year in Britain because their mothers have previously had an abortion: Some further 2,000 children’s minor defects can be attributed to the same cause’.
Comment- No comparable statistics in the article by Wynn, M and Wynn A, have been found. 1 1. (a) K. Wool fe- England and Wales: ‘Some 78 percent of the British abortions were done on ‘ mental health ‘ grounds ‘.
Comment- No comparable figure found. 12. (a) K.. Woolfe- ‘In South Australia the exact figures are: 0.8 per cent for assault on the person; 4.9 per cent for potential damange to the foetus; 10.4 per cent for specified medical disorders; 83.9 per cent were performed for ‘psychiatric reasons’; half of these psychiatric conditions developed during pregnancy.
Official-‘ The Committee notes-
1 ) That only 0.8 per cent were performed for assault on the person.
That 4.9 per cent were performed for potential damage to the foetus, the majority of which were carried out for proven Maternal Rubella, a condition which is expected to become less frequent.
That 10.4 per cent were carried out for specified medical disorders and in this section the Committee were of the opinion that these grounds as stated in individual cases were in general adequate and convincing.
That 83.9 per cent were performed for psychiatric reasons. The Committee has classified the psychiatric reasons into three main categories with the following result;
Pre-existing psychiatric illness 32. 1 per cent.
Psychiatric illness developed during pregnancy 49.8 per cent
Socio-economic conditions contributing to psychiatric illness 15.5 percent.
Unclassified 2.6 per cent ‘.
Source- ‘The Statutory Committee to Examine and Report on Abortions Report for Year Ending 7 January 1971’. 13. (a) K. Woolfe- ‘A provincial teaching hospital in Brito has kept . . . In fact, waiting time increased 200 per cent.
Comment- Correctly quoted.
asked the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
The question is answered by Question on Notice No. 157 Hansard, 22 August 1973, (page 93).
Torres Strait Islands: Visit by Prime Minister (Question No. 260)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, upon notice:
– The Minister for Aboriginal Affairs has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
Island Advisory Council respectfully invite you to meet with them and the Island Chairmen and people in the Torres Strait between 19 and 22 February for talks on border question. This invitation is also being sent to the Honourable the Premier of Queensland ‘.
On 9 February the Prime Minister sent the following reply to the Island Council Chairman:
I refer to the telegram signed by Group Representatives Torres Strait Islanders concerning the border question.
I will be abroad at the dme you have suggested, and therefore unable to make the proposed joint visit. I wish the Council for Aboriginal Affairs, as my personal advisers, to have a full opportunity to confer with the Islanders.
If you so desire, the Council can be available on the dates you have suggested. However, I would wish the Council, in addition to any joint consultations, to have the opportunity to confer privately and confidentially with the Islanders ‘.
In response to requests at a meeting with Island Group Representatives in Cairns on 14 February, the Council for Aboriginal Affairs undertook to make arrangements for a meeting in Canberra on 24-26 February. On 20 February however the Council received the following telegram signed by the three Group Representatives:
Thanks telegram proposing meeting Islander Chairmen and deputies Canberra this week. After talks with Councils and people on our return now advise the suggested discussions with your Council cannot proceed. Not only are dates unsuitable but people’s wish is that such talk be with Prime Minister and Premier as we have always asked and on our islands. We repeat our invitation for Prime Minister to come here and we confirm our backing to the Premier as out spokesman’.
At the meeting on 23 March between the Prime Minister and the Premier of Queensland, it was agreed that the Council for Aboriginal Affairs should have discussions with the Island Chairmen. After several postponements, a meeting of Island representatives with the Council for Aboriginal Affairs and myself was held in the week beginning 1 1 June in Canberra. A broad range of matters, including the border issue, was covered in this meeting. The Island representatives also met the Prime Minister during this visit.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Transport, upon notice:
Will the Minister inquire into the build-up of cargoes to be shipped to and from Tasmania, which is due, according to some shippers, to a ‘bull-headed’ adherence to prearranged timetables, regardless of the amount of cargo which has been loaded.
– The Minister for Transport has furnished the following answer to the honourable senator ‘s question:
A build-up of cargo equivalent to one shipload did exist at Devonport at the end of May. This backlog was cleared on 1 5 June when ‘Australian Enterprise ‘ called at Devonport.
Pre-arranged timetables are basic to any orderly general cargo service. Economic and efficient utilisation of the costly capital equipment, both ships and terminal facilities employed in the trade, demands adherence to a carefully planned sailing schedule. Even a relatively short delay at one port can result in the eventual loss of a complete round trip where it causes the vessel to miss its turn at the berth on the succeeding leg of the service.
Where full loading of seasonal peak cargo offerings would cause a delay, it is sometimes necessary to adhere to the sailing schedule in order to achieve maximum cargo flow overall. This is done by sailing less than fully loaded one way and fully laden on the return voyage.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Transport, upon notice:
– The Minister for Transport has furnished the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
When replying to a question without notice by the member for Wide Bay on 3 1 May, I indicated
1 ) that 1 will appoint a trade union representative to the Australian Coastal Shipping Commission.
At this stage there has been no decision on the representative to be appointed.
asked the Minister for Works, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
Australian Government: Attitude towards Governments of Mozambique, Rhodesia and Uganda (Question No. 371)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs, upon notice:
– The Minister for Foreign Affairs has supplied the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
It is not proposed to make a general statement to Parliament on the matters raised by the Honourable Senator, but the following information is provided in respect of each of the points raised by him: 1. (a) (b) (c) and (d): Although the Australian Government deplores recent events in Uganda, the internal affairs of that country are not the direct concern of the Australian Government, especially as no Australian citizens have been involved.
Southern Rhodesia is a British colony whose rebel regime has been the subject of mandatory sanctions imposed by the United Nations Security Council. Australia has therefore denied the regime any form of recognition or assistance and has been scrupulous in observing its sanctions obligations. Australia supports the British Government’s Five Principles for a settlement of the Rhodesian problem, especially the Fifth Principle, namely that the British Government would need to be satisfied that any basis proposed for independence was acceptable to the people of Rhodesia as a whole. Meanwhile, the British Government remains constitutionally responsible for all the people of Rhodesia. The Government deplores, of course, the illegal regime’s discriminatory policies against the Asian minority as much as it deplores the exercise of such policies against the African majority. Australia considers that the Portuguese territories in Africa are de facto colonies whose aspirations for independence on the basis of majority rule by the indigenous people should be recognised. The Government is not aware of any recent allegations of the persecution of minorities in Mozambique. If the allusion is to the recent allegations of massacres by Portuguese forces, the Government has no evidence either to prove or disprove the specific allegations that have been made. The Government believes, however, that if Portugal wishes to clear itself of these charges, it should heed the call of the United Nations Special Committee on Decolonization to allow competent United Nations authorities to undertake an impartial on-the-spot investigation. This call was supported by Australia.
The Ugandan question has not been raised at the United Nations and Australia does not intend to take any initiatives in that regard. On the other hand, the questions of Rhodesia and the Portuguese African territories have been raised and are the subject of intense concern at the United Nations where Australia has enunciated the policies described in (2 ) above.
King Island Shipping Service: ‘Maluka’
Senator Cavanagh on 30 May 1973, Senator Wright asked the following question, without notice:
I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Transport whether he is able to confirm that arising out of arrangements between the Premier of Tasmania and the Minister for Transport last Thursday the ship to which the Federal Government agreed to provide assistance for King Island services was the ‘Maluka’. Has the Minister any information on the suitability of that ship?
The Minister for Transport has supplied the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
The Minister for Transport met the Premier of Tasmania on 24 May to discuss the King Island problem.
The Premier proposed the State should purchase a particular Australian vessel and operate it in the King Island service until a suitable replacement was built. During the meeting the Premier also mentioned that the State might charter ‘U.1./.’ for a short period to assist in relieving the backlog of cargo on the Island, but the State did not seek financial assistance for chartering this vessel.
I understand the Tasmanian Transport Commission inspected ‘Maluka’ but did not proceed with the proposal to charter this vessel.
King Island Shipping Service: ‘Blythe Star’
– On 6 June 1973, Senator Rae asked the following question, without notice:
Is the Minister representing the Minister for Transport aware that the Tasmanian Government has announced that it has chartered the ‘Blythe Star’ for a period of 3 months to operate the King Island shipping service?
Is Commonwealth assistance of any type being given to the Tasmanian Government in relation to that charter operation?
Will the Minister indicate further what would be the basis of the payment of the subsidy. Would it be a subsidy to the Tasmanian Government by way of grant; would it be a subsidy rated on a tonnage basis, or by what other means is the subsidy proposed to be made available?
TI he Minister for Transport has supplied the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
I am aware the Tasmanian Government has chartered Blythe Star’. The Tasmanian Government has not approached the Australian Government for financial assistance in respect of the charter of this vessel.
National Aboriginal Consultative Committee
– On 16 May Senator Laucke asked the following question, without notice:
The Minister for Aboriginal Affairs has provided the following answers to the honourable senator’s question:
Aboriginal Trust Fund
– On 1 1 April, Senator Guilfoyle asked the following question, without notice:
My question, which is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, relates to royalties paid by mining companies to the Aboriginal Trust Fund. Yesterday it was reported that the Government had decided that 10 per cent of such royalties will go directly to the Aboriginal communities involved. I ask the Minister What arrangements are envisaged in the communities involved for the allocation of these royalties? What local administrative facilities will be established to deal with this expenditure? Is such local expenditure accountable to the Aboriginal Trust Fund?
The Minister for Aboriginal Affairs has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
Funds made available to a community under these arrangements will be paid from the Aborigines Benefits Trust Fund to a local community fund to be administered by Aboriginal trustees for the benefit of the particular community. It will be for the local community to choose the trustees, to determine the purpose for which the funds may be used and to make such arrangements for the administration of the funds as they wish. The trustees will be accountable only to the local community for the expenditure of the money. In the case of the Groote Eylandt communities, which are the only ones immediately affected by the new decision, a trust already exists which has functioned for several years to administer the ‘special royalty’ funds received under the agreement with the mining company. This trust will administer the moneys now to be paid from the Benefits Trust Fund.
Minister for Science and Minister for External Territories: Allocation of the Government Flat
– On 7 June 1973, Senator Withers asked the following question, without notice:
Does the Minister for Science and Minister for External Territories, Mr Morrison, own a house in Canberra? Has the Minister for Science and Minister for External Territories been allocated a Government flat in Canberra? If the answer to both questions is yes, on what basis is a Government flat allocated to a Minister who already has a private home in Canberra?
The Minister for the Capital Territory has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
The Minister for Science and Minister for External Territories has not been allocated a Government flat in Canberra.
Fog Dispersal Methods
– On 30 May, Senator Hannan asked me in my capacity as minister representing the Minister for Science the following question, without notice:
Having regard to the heavy incident of fog at Canberra Airport these days can the Minister advise whether any work on fog disposal is being carried out by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation or any other Commonwealth body? Is the partly successful FIDO used during the war years capable of adaption, or is it too expensive for civilian use?
The Minister for Science has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
The CSIRO division of Cloud Physics has carried out some work on fog dispersal but the investigations were limited in scope and the results obtained are unlikely to assist in the problem of dispersing fogs at Canberra Airport.
As a method of fog dispersal, the FIDO system developed in World War II has proved to be too expensive for peace-time use and is now unacceptable on pollution grounds apart from safety considerations.
The only successful methods of fog dispersal that have been developed are restricted in their application to those fogs wherein the temperatures throughout the fog layer are below 0°C. Such methods have been developed in North America where supercooled fogs are frequent at some northern airfields and include seeding the fog with silver iodide or dry ice, usually from aircraft. The operation is in itself expensive. Furthermore, aircraft must be available at a fog-free base, either on standby or on call on the basis of the previous night’s forecast so that the seeding can be carried out whenever necessary. Another method of inducing precipitation in supercooled fogs is based upon the evaporative cooling of liquid propane and involves the use of a ground-base system of propane dispensers. On the other hand, the dispersal of warm fog, i.e., those fogs with temperatures either wholly or partly above 0° C, presents an unsolved problem.
On the basis of overseas experience, it is only possible to disperse those fogs that are supercooled throughout their entire depth. In the case of Canberra Airport, climatological considerations suggest that most of the fogs would be warm fogs and that the proportion of supercooled fogs would be too small to justify the introduction of the techniques mentioned above; however, it is understood that the Bureau of Meteorology is giving some attention to this problem.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice:
– The Minister for Health has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
Compulsory Chest X-ray Surveys (Question No. 364)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice:
– The Minister for Health has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
In recent discussions Dr Linus Pauling expressed to me gratification at the levels of safety achieved by comparison with mass surveys which he had been instrumental in having discontinued in the United States of America. He was also impressed with the much higher rates of detection and the decline in incidence of tuberculosis under a compulsory screening procedure as compared with the United States scheme which was voluntary.
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice:
– The Prime Minister has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 12 September 1973, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1973/19730912_senate_28_s57/>.