28th Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Magnus Cormack) took the chair at 2 p.m., and read prayers.
– I inform the Senate that on Friday last the Honourable Rex Patterson was sworn by Her Majesty the Queen as Minister for the Northern Territory. He, of course, also remains the Minister for Northern Development.
– I present the following petition from 1 9 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 they oppose the Australian Health Insurance Program and any National Health Scheme.
That they wish to retain the right to choose their own medical care by selecting a general practitioner, specialist or any other medical classification of their own choice under the present conditions in private consulting rooms and also the right to choose an intermediate ward or private hospital of their own choice.
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the Government will take no measure to interfere with the existing health scheme.
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray.
Petition received and read.
-On behalf of Senator Little 1 give notice that on Tuesday 6 November he will ask leave to introduce a Bill to amend the National Health Act 1953-1972.
– I direct my question to the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and I refer to the report that Mr Dexter has submitted to him. In paragraph 2 of the report Mr Dexter stated:
I have been hampered in its preparation by the nonavailability of the departmental files. These were, by the direction of the then Minister, delivered to his office on 29 August and have not thereafter been available to the Department.
I ask the Minister: What do the files that are missing relate to? Are the files still missing? If they have not been returned, why have they not been returned to the Department? Also, if they have not been returned, does the Minister know why the former Minister has not returned them? Finally, if the files have not been returned, what action has the Minister taken to have them returned?
– In reply to a question asked by Senator Laucke last week I said that I had received in my office a 13-page report from Mr Dexter and that as soon as I had prepared a statement I would table the report. That was tabled yesterday and included the reference to which Senator Withers referred. At that period the files were not available. Why they were not available, I do not know. I think Senator Georges said previously that the files were in the hands of the Auditor-General. They were handed over to the Auditor-General. They were brought back to my office late last week and were handed over to the Department today. They were in the office of the Auditor-General.
-My question is directed to the Attorney-General in his capacity as Minister representing the Prime Minister. I refer to the controversy which has developed as to whether the Jackson Pollock painting ‘Blue Poles’ for which the Australian Government has paid $I.3m is in fact a painting by Jackson Pollock or, as is alleged, is the product of 3 artists on a drinking binge. Does the Government in the light of these allegations take the view of one art critic that it does not matter? Or is it concerned that the taxpayers’ money may have been imprudently expended and, if possible, ought to be recovered? Will the Minister table the contract documents by which the daubed abstraction was acquired?
– I do not know whether the Government has any particular view on this matter. I suppose many great things as well as many foolish things have come out of the overindulgence in alcohol and other drugs. But I doubt very much that the contract which has been entered into between the Australian Government- if there is a contract- and those selling the painting would throw very much light on this matter. I suppose the painting may best be judged by what it is rather than how it came about.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Primary Industry. Can the Minister say whether the special wheat quota of 20 million bushels will be sufficient to enable all wheat from this year’s harvest to be taken in by the Australian Wheat Board and receive the first advance payment? Can he reassure individual growers in Western Australia, where the crop is expected to be a record, that neither quota limitations, either State or individual, nor State handling facilities will prevent all wheat being received and paid for?
– lt is not possible at this stage to say that the 20 million bushels floating pool which was placed over and above the quota will be sufficient to meet what could well be a record harvest, particularly in Western Australia where the State appears at this stage to be producing sufficient wheat to go through its quota. The purpose of the 20 million bushels was of course to provide for this contingency arising. So far as the other States are concerned it is still doubtful as to what their quota figures will be. I understand that it is possible that Victoria and New South Wales may go very close to their quotas, but until the precise figures are known it is not possible to say that. On reflection. I think it does indicate the foresight not only of the Government but also of the wheat industry back in January when we took this step to provide for an additional 20 million bushels. Where a State exceeds its quota- and this concerns Western Australia- any wheat delivered to the Board within that 20 million bushels will of course attract the first advance of SI. 20. But outside that 20 million bushels no other wheat would attract the first advance. Only what is termed, as the honourable senator knows, readily saleable wheat can be taken at the discretion of the Board; but under those circumstances the grower of course then has to wait for the sale before he receives payment. That is as distinct from the first advance. Of course it would bc desirable if the Board were in a position to do this but the agreement and arrangements have already been entered into with the Reserve Bank of Australia as to the amount of finance available to the Wheat Board for the first advance payment on the 514 million bushels basic quota plus the 20 million bushel floating quota. I must say that it would not be possible, as I see it as this stage, for wheat over and above that amount to attract the first advance. But of course the Board almost certainly would receive the wheat because of the state of the market. I would think that any surplus wheat would almost certainly, although it is at the discretion of the Board, be declared readily saleable. As such it would be received and payment would need to be deferred until such time as the wheat was sold.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for the Media. Is it true that the commercial television networks Channel 9 and Channel 7 have refused to send news teams to cover the Prime Minister’s trip to Japan and China? Is he aware that this is a result of an agreement between Sir Frank Packer of the Channel 9 network and Mr Rupert Henderson of Channel 7? Does it appear that the motives for this refusal to cover this historic and important event are politically motivated and that, once again, the barons of commercial television are denying their viewers the opportunity to see an in-depth coverage of an important occasion purely because they are committed to supporting the Liberal Party? Are they again misusing their licences to push their own political beliefs and to stop the Australian people witnessing the triumphs of this Labor Government?
– Order! I hope that in answering the question the Minister for the Media will take cognisance of the undesirability of abrogation of the Standing Orders at question time.
– 1 am not aware of any agreement existing between Sir Frank Packer and Mr Rupert Henderson. Sir Frank Packer is the licensee of Channel 9 and Mr Rupert Henderson of Channel 7. But to say the least I think it disappointing that apparently the Channel 9 network will have no exclusive coverage of an event of such historic importance as the visit of an Australian Prime Minister to the People’s Republic of China. As I understand the situation, the Channel 7 network will have its own coverage of the Prime Minister’s visit to Japan and China. I am informed that the Fairfax representative has been withdrawn but has been replaced by a news man from the Channel 7 station in Melbourne, that is the Melbourne ‘Herald ‘ station. I think it would be far better for Australian television viewers to see Australian reporters on the spot with the Australian Prime Minister in China. But I am pleased to be able to inform the honourable senator that the Australian Broadcasting Commission will be sending a news team as, too, will the O-Ten commercial network.
-I ask the Minister for Primary Industry whether he is able to say what is the extent of damage as a result of stem rust affecting large areas of wheat crops in New South Wales and also South Australia and as a result of frost, particularly in South Australia. Can the Minister say what is the estimated reduction in wheat yields as a result of these adverse effects? Will the reduction in yields in any way affect Australia’s commitments on wheat sales?
– This question is closely allied to the one I have just answered. At this stage it is not possible to say what damage has resulted. I understand it is true though, particularly in South Australia, that there has been quite a loss of wheat due to rust- not so much due to frost, so far as I am aware, but certainly due to stem rust. I have been told the loss of approximately 20 million bushels has occurred in the last fortnight. As far as New South Wales is concerned I do not know. I believe that there has been some rust damage. But, again, we cannot get precise figures until such time as the crop is harvested. It is particularly unfortunate that this has happened because we were looking to possibly a record wheat crop at the best possible time that we could have had it. However, I do not think it will place the Wheat Board in an embarrassing position so far as fulfilling orders is concerned. Because of eventualities that may arise, such as have arisen in South Australia, the Board has adopted a very cautious attitude in regard to forward contracts.
– The Minister for Primary Industry may be aware that there is a widespread belief within the wheat industry that the money which is likely to be paid into the stabilisation fund by growers this year and which could amount to $45 m will not be carried over to any new stabilisation scheme but will be simply absorbed into Commonwealth revenue. Can he say whether this belief is correct?
– Some weeks ago a member of the Opposition asked me a question which was much the same as the question asked by Senator Wilkinson. I indicated then that no such thing was contemplated by this Government. I think it is regrettable that there is still being bandied about in rural circles this rumour, which I heard again only last night, that the Australian Government in some way will take this $45m surplus and pay it into Consolidated Revenue. I take this opportunity to say again that this is not so. I think it is reprehensible that rumours of this nature have to be sent around the countryside in order to confuse farmers who. I think, have sufficient faith in the Government to know that what we are doing for the wheat industry is probably the best deal that it has ever had.
– I direct a question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Is it correct, as I read in this morning’s Press, that he stated that the Government would not shift the camp off the lawn in front of Parliament House? Is this an indication that the Government does not have any regard for the aesthetic setting of Parliament House? If such is the case, does the Government take any exception to other Australians also using that area by depositing their caravans there and resting?
– I am not sure what the honourable senator read in the newspapers this morning because I have not read them. As to what was actually said, the Senate may recall that I answered a question on this subject yesterday. I stated that I would look into what was the legal position. I think that Senator Wood, as a former chairman for a long time of the Senate Regulations and Ordinances Committee, would be well aware that there is a serious question about what is the effect of the disallowance of a repealing ordinance. In any event, whatever one’s view might be, it is a matter that ought to be looked into. As to the third question about turning the surroundings around Parliament House into a caravan park, I think that we would all be horrified if that happened.
– The Minister for Primary Industry will recall that yesterday he answered a question directed to him relating to the assistance that was to be given in the wool sales by the Australian Wool Corporation. Has he seen the most recent reports appearing this morning that the market in Melbourne and Goulburn was very buoyant yesterday, that both Japanese and East European buyers are back in force and that the AWC had to buy only one per cent of the wool offered? Would he not agree that it would appear that the buoyancy and stability of the wool market that are being enjoyed at the present time are something that the wool growers of Australia have been seeking for more than 20 years?
– I saw the report in this morning’s Press that the Australian Wool Corporation needed to buy only one per cent of the wool offered yesterday in, I think, Melbourne and Goulburn and, as the honourable senator has said, that there had been a reintroduction of the Japanese as buyers. It emphasises once again the importance to us of the Japanese and the fact that the stability of the wool industry depends to a great degree on Japanese buying. It is very satisfactory to see the Japanese again back in the buying.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Overseas Trade. My information is that directives on the packaging of abalone for export have caused the hold-up of $250,000 worth of that product in Tasmania and that if these regulations requiring drainage of the product are allowed to continue the probable effect will be to reduce the output value of the industry by 10 per cent. In view of the immediate damage being caused to the industry, will the Minister look into the matter- I believe that the difficulty stems from a contradiction in the directives to the industry- to enable export of that product to proceed? The Minister will know that the livelihood of about 120 abalone divers in Tasmania depends upon the free flow of this product.
– I am aware that the directive referred to by Senator Wright was issued and that it has caused some problems. I understand that the reason for its issue was that most of the shipments of abalone overseas were underweight on arrival at their destination. I understand that the loss is due to a drying process which takes place in transit. The Department of Overseas Trade, in order not to damage the trade, wants to make sure that the products, when they reach their destination, are of the weight prescribed in the packaging. I have done exactly what the honourable senator has requested. I have asked that this matter be reviewed because obvious pockets of difficulty have been created as a result of the issue of the directive. This afternoon I hope to have some resolution of the problem. If so, I hope to be able to make an announcement tomorrow.
-Has the attention of the Minister representing the Minister for Health been attracted to a report on research in the United States which indicates some relationship between small-pox injection of children and multiple sclerosis in later life? If he has seen the report, is the Department prepared to carry out a thorough investigation in case there is some truth in the report, especially since multiple sclerosis is such a dreadful disease?
– In a private capacity I am a patron of the Multiple Sclerosis Society of New South Wales. In that capacity I have seen the report to which the honourable senator referred. I intend discussing the matter with my colleague the Minister for Health to ask him what his Department can or will do about the matter.
-I direct a question to the Minister for Primary Industry. I refer to the recently announced 3-year agreement for the sale of wheat to China. Can the Minister advise the currency in which this sale was arranged? I also seek information about the price negotiations which relate to the second and third years of this agreement. What is the basis of the contract?
– The arrangement that has been entered into between Australia and China is the responsibility of the Minister for Overseas Trade; it is not my responsibility. I cannot answer the first part of the honourable senator’s question. I can answer the second part of the question only in the broad. The price will be negotiated annually, depending on the world market price obtaining at the time. But in order to get the more precise details, I will have to refer the matter to the Minister for Overseas Trade.
-Can the Minister for Primary Industry indicate what progress has been made in getting from the various sections of the dairy industry the suggestions and recommendations which he sought to enable him to determine measures to be taken to put the industry on a better basis than was the case under the now discontinued subsidy scheme? Has the recent development of new and promising butter markets enhanced the prospects for the long term economic viability of the industry?
– I cannot give the exact number of industry groups or States which at this stage have replied to the Government’s invitation for their views on the restructuring of the dairy industry. I know that several replies have been received from all over the Commonwealth. The course the Government will adopt will depend to a large degree on the suggestions received. As to the second part of the honourable senator’s question, I think one must view with some caution the comment that there is an increasing demand for butter in the world at the present time. The general position is not to that effect. The consumption of butter in all developing countries is declining, but there are one or two areas in which butter can find a fairly ready market at the present time but at a certain price. This was illustrated by the very large purchase recently by the Soviet Union of 200,000 tons of butter from the European Economic Community countries at the give-away price of 22c per lb. I do not think that Australia should ever place itself in a position where it is producing a product to be sold at that price level. But, as I said, the main emphasis of the restructuring will be towards the dairying industry producing the type of products that the market wants at an economic price.
-No doubt the Minister representing the Minister for Health will have noted a question I asked last week concerning milk for school children. In that question I asked that the milk supply be continued until a Commonwealth nutritional survey could be carried out. I now ask: Has the Minister seen a technical note by J. E. Coy, who is a nutrition officer in the Tasmanian Department of Health Services, in which it is shown that some Tasmanian children receive as little as 6.7oz of milk a day at home and so are in need of school milk? If he has not seen this note, will he bring it and any other information available from the Tasmanian Department of Health Services to the attention of the Commonwealth Department of Health when it reconsiders the proposal to cut out the supply of milk to school children?
Senator DOUGLAS MCCLELLAND Senator Townley was good enough to show me at the commencement of question time an article headed ‘Milk Consumption of Tasmanian School Children’ written by Joanna Coy, the nutrition officer of the Department of Health Services in Hobart. I notice that the article appeared in the ‘Australian Journal of Dairy Technology’ of June 1972. 1 will certainly draw the attention of my colleague the Minister for Health to the article referred to.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Defence. What was the cost of the abortive transport of a substantial quantity of Royal Australian Air
Force bombs from Sydney to Townsville and back to Sydney? Who was responsible for the fiasco which took 3 days of dithering for a decision to be made as to whether the bombs were to be sent to Darwin or back to Sydney? Who authorised and directed the transport of the bombs to Townsville? Why was the direction countermanded after the trucks arrived in Townsville?
– I do not know anything about the matter. I suggest that the honourable senator put the question on the notice paper.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Secondary Industry. Can the Minister inform the Parliament whether Australia is participating in a trade fair which commenced this week in South Africa? If this is a fact, can the Minister explain why this country took part in the fair in vii . of the new and enlightened policies of the Australian Government?
– No, I do not have that information at hand. I will have to refer the question to the Minister for a reply.
– My question to the Minister representing the Treasurer refers to the effect of the undistributed profits tax as it applies to private companies. Is it a fact that whilst the Federal Government has announced an increased rate of company taxation for proprietary limited companies, the apparent aim being that those companies will eventually pay the same rate of tax as public companies, the retention allowance for private companies and the rate of undistributed profits tax have not been varied? Does it appeal to the Minister that, with a higher primary tax now being levied on private companies, a higher retention amount should be permitted before undistributed profits tax applies or that the undistributed profits tax rate should be lowered from the very extreme rate of 50 per cent on the undistributed amount? Will the Minister consider advocating to the Treasurer that this matter should have his close and prompt attention and that a statement be brought to the Senate at an early date?
– I am quite happy to send the question along to the Treasurer and put to him the honourable senator’s request that he give close and earnest consideration to the matters affecting private companies which the honourable senator raised.
– I ask the Minister for Primary Industry: In view of the fact that the good financial returns expected by primary producers this year because of a combination of bountiful rains and good government are now threatened by a severe locust plague which could ruin vast areas of rural production in parts of New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia, can he indicate whether the Australian Government is prepared to assist the States in combating this plague?
– I have indicated on past occasions that despite the many good things done by this Government it cannot claim credit for the good rains that have fallen this year. At least the Australian wheatgrower and the community at large can give credit to the Government for its decision to maximise the wheat crop at the right time. It is true that there is a plague of locusts in northern New South Wales and southern Queensland. A decision has been made today by the Australian Government to accept the request by a subcommittee of the Australian Agricultural Council for the Commonwealth to provide $500,000 to assist the States in a campaign to eliminate this pest. I should add that this will be in addition to the use of military equipment, vehicles and personnel, which the Government agreed to only last week and which will cost an additional $70,000. The Australian Government has taken a responsible attitude in this area because there is a great risk of severe loss, especially to the wheat crop, if the plague of locusts is not attacked now.
– I ask the Leader of the Government in the Senate: Does he know that Dr Cairns in another place has claimed that his wheat agreement with Red China could only be for 3 years because the Chinese would deal only with a Labor government? If this claim is true, how does the Minister explain the enormous sales to China by a Liberal-Country Party Government between 1966 and 1970? If true, does the Government’s obsequious acceptance of such a condition condone a serious interference by China in Australia’s internal affairs? Does this condition by China amount to an external support for the present ailing Government, enable China to dictate items of policy and account for some of the extraordinary votes of this Government at the United Nations?
-I am not sure that the honourable senator has correctly quoted Dr Cairns. My own recollection is that what the honourable senator said is not exactly correct and that there was a significant departure from what Dr Cairns said. In any event the Government of China is entitled to take whatever course it wishes. If it wants to enter into contracts of a limited period it is entitled to do so. As for Australia’s actions at the United Nations, we vote in the way that we think best for Australia and the rest of the world.
– I direct my question to the Minister representing the Treasurer. In view of the rising concern of the New South Wales trade union movement at the abnormal delay by the Phoenix Assurance Co. of Australia Ltd in processing workers compensation claims, will the Minister ascertain the possibility of the Commonwealth Actuary and Insurance Commissioner assisting the New South Wales Minister for Labour and Industry to probe the operations of this company?
-I will look into the matter. Great concern has been expressed in the Senate over a number of years about the operations of insurance companies. I suppose it is more distressing to persons that there should be any difficulty about insurance than in most other fields. One turns to the insurance company to be free of the insecurity which surrounds one and to get protection against what is unlikely to the individual but statistically inevitable- that some accident or incident will occur. That is what insurance is for. Failure of an insurance company strikes at the very basis of the protection that is sought. I can understand the honourable senator’s concern and I will have the matter looked into to see whether it comes within the province of the Federal Government.
– My question, addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Minerals and Energy, concerns the Government’s announced proposal to initiate immediate discussions with Japan towards a feasibility study into the establishment in Australia of a joint Japanese-Australian centrifuge type uranium enrichment plant- a plant which, properly located and controlled, could be of great significance to Australia. Since it would be utterly irresponsible of the Australian Government to embark on detailed feasibility studies without having first determined the precise location of the proposed plant and the intended methods of disposing of the highly dangerous and permanently dangerous massive radioactive wastes, including their possible use for heat for electric power generation, I ask: Where is the proposed plant to be located? Where and by what method are the lethal wastes to be permanently disposed? Are the wastes to be buried within the Australian continent? If so, where and by what method? Alternatively, are the wastes to be buried at sea, Chicago gangster style, in a concrete casing? If so, where? Again alternatively, is the Government intending to do another Galston by thrusting the plant on the Northern Territory, South Australia or Western Australia without prior warning and discussion? Finally, will the Minister for the Environment and Conservation preserve his usual masterly neutrality on this supremely important environmental matter?
– Order! The question relates to policy. It cannot be within the capacity of the Minister representing the Minister in another place to give an opinion on policy and I direct that the question go on notice.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Transport. Has the attention of the Government been drawn to the announcement by the Ford Motor Company of Australia Ltd that it is recalling 9,000 Falcon motor vehicles due to faulty engine mountings in a suspected 3,000 vehicles? In view of the fact that in isolated cases this fault has apparently resulted in engine movement and consequent breakdown, will the Government refer this matter to the relevant investigatory body for a report on safety aspects of the vehicles concerned?
– My attention has been drawn to the fact that the Ford Motor Co. recalled vehicles. Also, there was a similar recall of vehicles by the Toyota company last year because of defects in, I think, the radiator system. These defects caused radiator over-heating but fortunately none of them related to safety. Apparently the recall indicated that the company tries to create a good customer relationship. As the defects were not related to safety matters, they did not fall within the uniform code of practice for safety in relation to defects which was prepared by the Federal Council of Automotive Industries and endorsed by the Australian Transport Advisory Council. These matters are considered from time to time by the Councils and they are followed up. I do not think it can be accepted that the recall of the vehicles indicates that there is any defect affecting safety. Where a matter relates to safety, the Department of Transport and the Australian Transport Advisory Council keep it under consideration at all times.
– Has the Leader of the Government in the Senate noted in the publication entitled ‘Soviet Newsletter’- copies of which are circulated to all members- that the Israelis are accused of being the aggressors in spite of the fact that United Nations observers and others are of the reverse opinion? In view of these lying statements put out by the Soviet Union in regard to the cause of the conflict, and in view of the fact that a tiny nation of 3 million people is confronted by the Arab nations of 1 10 million people, backed by one of the world’s super powers, can the Government still adhere to its declaration of neutrality?
-I hardly think that it is appropriate at question time for me to enter into a discussion of whether one side is supported by which super power and which super power is the strongest of the super powers, or of the other questions raised by the honourable senator. As everyone knows, there has been a cease fire but that is not now operative. The Australian Goverment would like to see a just and lasting peace. The Australian representative at the United Nations is this month chairing the Security Council. Every effort is being made by the Australian Government to assist in the resolution of the conflict and to bring about peace. I think that it would be inadvisable for me to say more than that now.
– Is the Leader of the Government in the Senate aware that at the request of conservation bodies, citizen and resident action groups, the New South Wales Builders Labourers Federation has imposed green bans’ on development in the Sydney region to an estimated value of $3,000m? Do not these community organisations see the union bans as their only safeguard against the follies of officialdom? Can the Minister assess the effects of these bans on the already overheated building industry, and state whether the Federal Government sees the green bans as an important tool in the country’s fight against inflation? Will the Minister agree that if all these bans were lifted, the demands on resources in the building industry would seriously worsen the inflationary pressures in the economy and harm the Government’s endeavours to solve the housing crisis?
-It may be that if the bans were not operating there would be heavier pressure on the building industry. However may I say that I think it is quite inappropriate that the determination of these matters should be by any trade union. It is not the function of a trade union properly to determine matters of the environment. It is not the function of a trade union to determine the question of the general management of the economy. Indeed, I understand that is what the trade union mentioned by the honourable senator says itself. I seem to recall statements by Mr Mundey that it should not be his function and that it should not be the function of the trade union to do these things. However, he pointed out that because of what was happening and because no one else was taking action he considered- and I am speaking in regard to the environment- that there ought to be bodies with appropriate functions which could give proper advice and which would have authority to stop the erection of buildings which would destroy the environment and stop the destruction of those buildings which were part of our history. What has been done by Mr Mundey and by the trade union has occurred because of the default of the New South Wales Government to attend properly to matters of the environment.
The management of the economy is something which the Federal Government can attend to if it is given appropriate powers by this Parliament or by the people. Insofar as the Constitution permits and this Parliament allows the laws to be made, the Federal Government will manage the economy properly. But if this Parliament or one section of it sets out to prevent the Federal Government having ample powers to manage the economy, the people of Australia will suffer.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Health the following question: In view of the concern being expressed by farmers and graziers, particularly in northern Australia, over the outbreak of foot and mouth disease in areas adjacent to our north, will the Minister bring to the attention of the Minister for Health and the Cabinet the need for a clear policy on how to combat the disease if an outbreak occurs in this country? Will the Minister state clearly what compensation measures are envisaged and what co-operation with the States is planned so that any outbreak will be quickly detected and contained? Will the Minister agree that any confusion in these areas could result in an outbreak not being reported, thus making eradication difficult and costly?
– All that I can undertake to do is to refer the matters raised by the honourable senator to my colleague the Minister for Health, who is in another place, and secure answers for him.
– Will the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs inform the Senate of the number of Aborigines who have enrolled for the purpose of electing the National Aboriginal Consultative Committee? Further, is the Minister aware that a number of Aborigines have enrolled because they were threatened with the loss of government assistance in the fields of education, housing and other assistance which is important to their advancement?
-The number of Aborigines who have enrolled was published in the Press a few days ago. The exact number escapes my memory but I see from an article on this subject that some 90 per cent of those who would be eligible to vote for the National Aboriginal Consultative Committee have enrolled. The enrolment program was conducted by the steering committee from the NACC assisted by field officers from my Department. 1 know of no occasion when an Aborigine has been forced to enrol under false pretences or because of threats that assistance would be withdrawn if they did not do so. I do not think this would ever happen. If any honourable senator can furnish proof in relation to any specific person who claims, this is happening it will be looked into.
– I wish to ask a supplementary question.
– Do you wish to ask a supplementary question on the grounds that your question has not been fully answered?
– My question has not been fully answered. I am asking whether the Minister will inform the Senate of the number of enrolments. I know that it has been reported in the Press that 90 per cent of those Aborigines who are eligible have enrolled. But I am asking whether the Minister will inform the Senate as to the actual number of Aborigines who have been enrolled in respect of the National Aboriginal Consultative Committee.
-I will get the accurate numbers by question time tomorrow.
-I wish to ask a question of the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs. Is it a fact that a deputation representing the Alice Springs Tourist Promotion Association and the Ayers Rock Progress Association travelled to Canberra from the Northern Territory earlier this month? Is it also a fact that many of the people in the deputation paid their own fares and incurred heavy personal expenses as a result? Can the Minister say whether arrangements were made to see Mr Bryant, then Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Mr Charles Jones, Minister for Transport, Mr Stewart, Minister for Tourism, and Mr Enderby, then Minister for the Northern Territory? Can the Minister substantiate for me that the first three mentioned did not turn up for the meeting and that Mr Enderby was 2 hours late? Can the Minister say whether because of this the Prime Minister has received a letter of protest from the people concerned? As the deputation was anxious to effect early development of facilities in the Ayers Rock area to meet a rapid increase in tourist interest, can the Minister say which member or members of the executive team I have mentioned has responsibility for Ayers Rock so that effective representations can be made on this matter?
-I do not think anyone would expect me to be able to give information about the attitude of 4 Ministers and whether the Prime Minister has received a letter. If the honourable senator will put his question on the notice paper I will see what reply I can get for him, although I do not really know to whom I should direct it.
– I ask a question of the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs. I refer to the papers which the Minister tabled last night and in particular the paper headed ‘Alleged Council Letter’. In this letter the head of the Department refers to a letter and makes comments on a letter which is subject to investigation by the Privileges Committee in another place. Since the statement referring to this letter has now been tabled, is the
Minister prepared to table the letter itself in this place?
-I have been asked that previously. The answer is no. It is a private letter between a member of the Council for Aboriginal Affairs and his 2 colleagues on the Council. I tabled yesterday the reply to the extracts of that letter which were published in a newspaper, and that is a reply only to that portion of the letter which was published in a newspaper. I am not going to disclose a letter which passed between private individuals.
-My question is directed to the Attorney-General. I recall the Attorney-General’s attention to questions asked by me on 26 and 27 September. On each occasion he informed me that he could not then answer the questions but would make inquiries and let me know the result. Before the month is out I therefore ask him the following question again: On whose authority are Commonwealth Police repaying the amount of fines imposed on persons convicted of offences against laws of this country during political demonstrations held before this Government came into power? Upon what grounds are the repayments being made?
– I did have a report prepared. I had it with me on several occasions but the matter did not arise then. I can get it this afternoon and inform the Senate of the details. Broadly speaking, many fines were dealt with in accordance with the Government’s statement. Where fines had been paid before 2 December, the date of the election, I think they were not repaid. Where they had been paid after that date, I think they were repaid. There was some break-off date and where amounts had fallen after that date, this procedure was carried out with some consistency. Some fines were repaid. I will get the details for the honourable senator, because they are in my office.
– Does the Leader of the Government in the Senate not agree that there is well founded information that ‘Blue Poles’, the so called work of art, was executed by Pollock and others while they were drunk? Has he seen reproductions of this work? If so, does he not agree that one would have to be drunk to make such a painting? Will he therefore ask that ‘Blue Poles’ be displayed in the new art gallery in a new section to be known as shickery art? As it is reported that this expensive splurge of $US2m was recommended by Mr Whitlam and Mr Mollison will the Leader of the Government in the Senate recommend to the Government that these 2 art selectors for the National Gallery be replaced so that we do not make any more purchases with Australian taxpayers’ money of shickery art?
– If it were as easy as that to make a great painting we would all be millionaires. If all one had to do was, as the honourable senator suggests, to over-indulge in alcohol- to become drunk- and then the inspiration would flow from us all, it would be all too easy. But that is not so. The records of history show that many great painters were inclined to drink. Van Gogh was one. If we turn from painting to music, Beethoven was a very great drinker. He is reputed to have produced many of his masterpieces when in an inebriated condition. So right back through history some have indulged in alcohol and others have got their inspiration from marihuana, mushrooms or other drugs.
– And some from prayer.
– And some from prayer, as Senator Cavanagh reminds me. Perhaps some have worked without any inspiration at all except that which comes from within. Surely the Government is not expected to carry out an investigation into the state of sobriety of the artist before we decide whether a painting is suitable to be purchased by Australia?
– I wish to ask a question of the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs which is supplementary to the question I asked previously. Is the Minister prepared to re-read the statement on the ‘Alleged Council Letter’ which he tabled last night? Is he prepared to accept that it goes beyond the comments made in the newspaper and infers and speaks of a second meeting between the Council for Aboriginal Affairs and directors of Applied Ecology Pty Ltd? Will he accept this and, in fairness to the directors of Applied Ecology, since the statement has been made and tabled, table the letter?
-The letter which 1 tabled was in reply only to newspaper reports. The newspaper reports accused impropriety by the Secretary of the Department of Aboriginal Affairs in that he was endeavouring to influence a committee of the Parliament or that he was rigging evidence before a committee. In reply he stated, justifiably, that this was not so because the letter referred to another meeting in the afternoon. The drawing in of the other letter in relation to the afternoon meeting was completely in reply to the newspaper report. It was a necessary part of explaining the inaccuracies in the newspaper report. As to whether I will table the letter, for reasons given before, the answer is directly no. I do not think that the letter would be new information to those who want it tabled. I think it is just a desire to get a private letter made public.
-Mr President, I wish to ask a supplementary question.
– Do you consider that the question has not been answered?
– It is supplementary and it is important.
– I call Senator Georges.
– The question is directed to you, Mr President. What redress in this place has a senator if he is named in a derogatory fashion in a letter, in particular that which is alleged to be a letter of the Council for Aboriginal Affairs, if he is not able to obtain the tabling of that letter in the Senate? How does such an honourable senator proceed and what are his rights when, in a letter written from a departmental official to someone else who is not a departmental official, derogatory terms are used?
– About the Government nominee director on the enterprise.
– But about an honourable senator in particular.
- Senator Georges, I will undertake to answer your question in specific terms, but you will readily understand that I do not wish to give an off-the-cuff answer to this question because it involves the problem of a matter which is within the control of another place. It also involves questions of the propriety of an honourable senator sitting in the Senate when he believes that he has a grievance. The Senate is the place to establish whether, in fact, the grievance exists and whether it can be satisfied. I will answer the question more fully later on. But I add this final rider: The Minister at the table has, of course, a right under what is known as Crown privilege to decide whether he will or will not table the paper. But I will give the honourable senator a fuller answer later in the afternoon.
-I have the report on the matter which was raised by Senator Greenwood. It states that the Governor-General has now remitted all fines unpaid as at 2 December 1972 imposed under the National Service Act or for convictions under the Crimes Act for offences committed in the course of opposition to the national service scheme. In accordance with this decision, where persons have paid such fines or part of such fines after that date refunds have been made or will be made. There are 5 cases in which refunds have been made and another one in which it has not been possible to find the person concerned. That is in the case of moneys paid subsequent to 2 December. When I say that it is repaid for opposition to the national service scheme and matters under the Crimes Act, that does not include matters in which there was something in the nature of violence committed in the course of opposition to the National Service Act.
– I ask the AttorneyGeneral a supplementary question on the answer which has just been given. I do not know whether he has the information there, but I ask: On what grounds was the Governor-General advised to remit fines when this has such a discriminating impact upon those who were fined and are not able to get money repaid and those who were fined and do get it repaid?
– The fines were waived and all proceedings initiated after 2 December were discontinued. I am using that expression in the broad sense. So no further proceedings were taken against persons and no fines were required to be paid. I think that the logic of it was that persons who had served sentences or part of sentences before 2 December could not have anything done about the time that they had served. Probably, on that rationale fines which had been paid were not repaid. But I think the honourable senator raises a question that has some soundness. If those who had not paid fines by 2 December should have their fines waived- I am speaking again in the non-technical sense- and those who had paid fines after 2 December should be repaid, as the honourable senator suggests there is no reason why there should be any line drawn against those who paid before 2 December. I will look into the matter to see whether it is consistent with the Government’s policy that those who paid fines prior to 2 December should also be repaid. I thank the honourable senator for his suggestion.
– I ask a question of the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Yesterday Mr Connor, the Minister for Minerals and Energy, made a statement referring to the efforts of the Premier of South Australia in regard to the establishment of a petrochemical works at Redcliffs in South Australia. The Minister said:
No longer will any State Premier usurp the functions of the Federal Government. No longer will any State Premier go overseas to negotiate contracts in respect of Australia’s resources. That will be done through the Australian National Government.
Can this unequivocal statement be taken as an announcement of the firm policy of the Government in the area of trade? If so, does it mean that all State governments might as well close their overseas trade missions for the tenure of office of this Government?
-There is no doubt that trade and commerce with overseas countries is constitutionally within the competence of the Australian Parliament.
– As a concurrent power with the States.
-Senator Wright interjects correctly to say: ‘As concurrent power with the States’. There is also no doubt that the Parliament has authorised the Government to take certain action, and over the years certain delegated legislation has been enacted which gives the Australian Government power to regulate overseas trade in various ways. For example, one of the Customs Regulations prevents the export of minerals and energy producing substances without the consent of the Minister for Minerals and Energy. It may be that the Minister was speaking in the context that unless the Australian Government was satisfied that the export of such minerals or such energy producing materials was thought to be proper it would not be permitted. I think that if regard is had to the context there is no need for anyone to get overheated about the matter.
– May I suggest, Mr President, that further questions be placed on notice.
-I claim to have been misrepresented and ask for leave to make a statement.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– I think it was an ironical reply by the Attorney-General (Senator Murphy) to a question which I asked, but in the course of that reply he stated that he welcomed my suggestion that the Government should give attention to waiving the fines imposed on those persons who, subsequent to 2 December, had not paid their fines. I make it perfectly clear that I feel that any policy of waiving fines, as a general rule and without the traditional exercise of the prerogative on grounds which are established, is completely wrong. The tenor of my question was, and the burden of any subsequent remarks which I may make will be, by way of condemnation of what has occurred.
Formal Motion for the Adjournment
– I inform the Senate that I have received a letter from Senator Wright, which reads as follows:
The President of the Senate, Parliament House, Canberra.
In accordance with Standing Order 64, I intend to move today that the Senate, at its rising, adjourn until tomorrow at 10.55 a.m. for the purpose of debating a matter of urgency, namely, the monopoly power of the Seamen’s Union being used to boycott and destroy Tasmania’s seaborne trade.
Is the motion supported? (More than the number of senators required by the Standing Orders having risen in their places)
– I move:
I do so for the purpose of debating a matter of urgency, namely:
The monopoly power of the Seamen’s Union being used to boycott and destroy Tasmania ‘s seaborne trade.
I briefly bring to the attention of the Senate today a matter of the utmost urgency to the island State of Tasmania. That State is peculiarly dependent upon shipping and in that respect, of course, it is at a disadvantage if its shipping services are damaged, which differentiates it from the other States which can communicate by road, by rail and by air. It is acknowledged that the greatest monopoly power operating in commerce today is the monopoly power of labour organisations. When I draw attention to that fact I do not denigrate labour organisations. I have advanced in this place the view that in their proper field and when used for their proper purpose they are an essential and laudable unit of a modern State. But the monopoly power of the maritime unions in Australia is being used to impose conditions on Tasmanian trade that threaten to throttle that trade, and it is doing continuing damage to the economy of that trade.
I bring this matter forward today because yesterday we saw the settlement of a dispute which illustrates my proposition clearly. The time immediately after settlement is the appropriate time for Parliament to take cognisance of the significance of what is going on. Our discussion here today cannot be said in any way to prolong or exacerbate the actual dispute.
On Friday night there arrived in Hobart the Japanese ship ‘Jinyo Maru’ which, having delivered some of her cargo of Mazda cars to South Australia from Japan, committed the sin of loading cars of Chrysler manufacture from South Australia for the purpose of conveyance to New Zealand. After leaving Adelaide it was obliged pursuant to its commercial undertakings to proceed to Hobart to unload further Mazda cars in Hobart. Because the monopoly maritime unions sought to arrogate to themselves the monopoly in relation to New Zealand trade that they have long exercised with regard to the Australian coastal trade, they picketed the ship and prohibited her from unloading any of the Mazda cars in Hobart unless she returned to Adelaide, delivered the Chryslers back to the Adelaide port and proceeded on. The ship having resisted that situation, the Seamen’s Union of Australia extended the boycott to 2 ships then in Hobart port, the ‘Poolta’ and the ‘Seaway King’. Why? Because they were running under the control of Bulk Ships Ltd which happens to be the agent for the ‘Jinyo Maru’.
That is a perfect illustration of the monopoly control that the maritime unions are exerting with regard to Australian shipping. That control being directed to Tasmanian shipping destroys the one vital lifeline that we have for the export and import of our commerce. It is not commonly understood that Tasmania as a State enjoys a greater volume and value of exports and imports than any other Australian State when both its interstate and foreign trade are combined. So I want to draw attention to this fact and impress upon the Parliament that Tasmania must be released from this monopolistic grip. Let me illustrate how it is operating in another field. Three months ago there was to the very great advantage of Tasmania a trade in livestock on the mainland markets where I think stock was attracting a price probably to the extent of $10 and sometimes $20 a head more than could be bought at Tasmanian sales. Livestock was being transported by ship in the roll on-roll off pattern. In the interests of slaughtermen in Tasmania who said ‘It is our work to slaughter Tasmanian animals’, the maritime unions combined with the slaughtermen’s union and said that no more livestock would be transported by Bass Strait shipping for 3 months. One particular carrier arrived with 100 lambs that had been purchased for the mainland by a purchaser who intended not to slaughter them but to keep them and agist them. He was told: ‘If you bring those lambs onto the wharf you will be black for 3 months’.
– When did this happen.
– Three months ago. The direction was given: ‘ Unless you cart those lambs into the abattoirs on Tuesday the black ban will apply’. 1 emphasise this because there has been an unavailing weak notion developing in Tasmania, prompted by the Chief Secretary, Mr Batt, that if as a member of the Labor Government he appealed to the union bosses to be good boys they would grant an immunity to Tasmania. We have seen in a whole succession of incidents over the last 12 months that that faith on the part of the Chief Secretary of Tasmania is entirely misplaced. In the interests of Tasmanian shipping we have to come to grips with a correct resolution of this problem of the monopoly menace of the maritime unions. It is quite obvious that the direct holding up of the ‘Jinyo Maru ‘ for 72 hours imposes a high cost upon succeeding freights. The holding up of the ‘Poolta ‘ and ‘Seaway King’ for 16 or 20 hours imposes a high cost upon our freight.
We have seen from the recent review of the Bureau of Transport Economics that the cost per ton of shipping commerce to Tasmania in some cases exceeds comparable land costs of transport on the mainland for an equivalent mileage by as much as $5 to $25 per ton. That is a crippling iniquitous disadvantage that Tasmania cannot sustain. In the course of my political duties in the last 3 weeks, with my colleagues I have been touring the factories of northern Tasmania. There is one heavy industry factory there which exports its product in brown paper wrapped parcels by air to avoid the unreliability of shipping. There is another industry, recently established, which brings in its heavyweight material equipment by air whenever it is under half a ton because it is completely impossible to get shipping services to deliver the goods to and from Tasmania.
I raise this matter today at an opportune time when the experience of this dislocation is immediately in our minds. I have shown before that I am capable of waiting for the opportune moment. I intend to follow this remonstrance and rebuke to the maritime unions today by positive action in the next few months and then we will see whether Senator Poke, who has been interjecting, can do anything more than poke by interjection. We will see whether he will join in constructive activity to ensure that Tasmania is equitably treated. These things are important because when the maritime unions gracefully released these ships from that boycott yesterday they issued the warning to shipowners that the work belonged to Australian seamen. They said: We will be vigilant and will ban any ship under a foreign flag carrying Australian cargoes interstate or to New Zealand. If it happens again the ship will be demobilised and made to discharge the cargo before it leaves’. Let us make the point that at the same time the New Zealand seamen’s union is demanding that it too has a monopoly of this trade. If the country is to fall into the chasm of contest between a seamen’s union across the Tasman in New Zealand and the monopoly claim of the Seamen’s Union in Australia, for God’s sake where does government belong? I ask the Senate to support the point of view I put forward that Tasmania, as an island State, is entitled to uninterrupted seaborne trade without this uneconomic and destructive interference.
– This urgency motion relating to the hours of sitting tomorrow was moved for the sole purpose of capturing the broadcasting time of the Senate and apparently is part of a long campaign on the part of Senator Wright over many years in his concern about the activities of the waterfront unions. We all know that the trade union movement has a power in this area. The waterfront unions have been one of the most efficient sections of the trade union movement. It was necessary at one time to take court action in Tasmania. Mr Hursey took court action to try to break what was then considered to be Communist control. Certain counsel in that court action has never forgotten that he was defeated at law by the trade union movement.
– Who was?
– He was not successful in that application. As for this particular matter that has been raised, for some time the Seamen ‘s Union of Australia has been concerned about the reduction in cargo on coastal shipping and the reduction of cargo carried by Australian ships.
This Government came to power with a promise that it would restore coastal trading, that interstate trade would be carried in Australian flag ships and that at least 40 per cent of overseas cargoes would be carried in Australian ships. We do not have suitable ships to put that policy into operation. To put it into operation means getting suitable ships which are bigger and which result in a loss of employment for seamen. Ships are available at the present time but there are some 600 seamen in Australia who are out of work. They are concerned about their employment prospects and their future.
From time to time redundancy in industry does arise. It has been successfully combated and the position rectified in certain industries in which agreement was obtained to recognise redundancy and to pay some redundancy compensation. I referred earlier to the Hursey case. Senator Wright would know that at one time there were complaints about the Waterside Workers Federation. We seemed to settle that trouble with the Woodward Committee report and an agreement on redundancy. This was one of the effective methods of settling disputes. This Government has sought to amend the Conciliation and Arbitration Act to enable agreements similar to those entered into by the Waterside Workers Federation to be entered into by other unions. The Seamen’s Union has been denied this effective method of settling such disputes and this has been brought about by the delay on the part of the Opposition parties in this chamber in agreeing to amendments to that legislation.
If there is any detriment to Tasmania as a result of stoppages it is because the previous Government relied on the penal clauses of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. Now the Opposition Parties will not give this Government the machinery to stop disputes. If it did Tasmania would be getting favourable consideration in regard to cargo-handling because the responsible trade union movement realises that it is an island State and that it relies so much on shipping. The Tasmanian Trades and Labour Council asked the Australian Council of Trade Unions to look into the question and the ACTU Executive determined that in respect of any strike which has the effect of stopping shipping services to Tasmania the participants in the strike are called upon to give particular consideration to the island’s economic position and to take such steps as are practicable and required to cause the least disruption. That is ACTU policy and it is putting it into effect. When a dispute occurs the union officers are requested to take it up with the local branch of the ACTU and to explain this position to the workers. Many things which would have caused disputes in other States have been overlooked in Tasmania because of the recognition by the trade union movement of the particular economy of that State.
I could mention the plight of the farmers in Tasmania in April and May this year. I do not know whether this matter relates to the reference to beef that Senator Wright made. I refer to the tie-up of the ‘Geelong’ and the regular main line to Tasmania wheat ship, the ‘North Esk’. Wheat was the only stockfeed available at the time and supplies in Tasmania were low because of the drought. The trouble was caused by a ban on loading by the Storemen and Packers Union. That incident was an example of the representations made by the ACTU to the union concerned and that happened because Tasmanian shipping was affected. That reflects the attitude adopted by the ACTU. On receipt of notification of the situation the responsible Minister wrote on 23 May to the ACTU asking that special efforts be made to persuade the Storemen and Packers Union to grant the type of dispensation outlined in the 1971 decision of the ACTU. On 31 May the Council sent out circulars notifying those concerned that before any action was taken which would hold up essential supplies to Tasmania the unions concerned must notify the respective Trades and Labour Councils. That illustrates the concern of the whole trade union movement and its efforts to give preferential treatment in view of the position of Tasmania.
The ship involved in this dispute, the . , Maru’, sailed last evening. It had been tied up since 1 9 October. The dispute is over. Whatever the merits of the dispute, it has now ended. The New Zealand Maritime Union insisted on New Zealand cargoes being carried in New Zealand flag ships. The reciprocal insistence on the part of South Australia in regard to the same ships was lifted because of ACTU policy on this occasion. The whole trade union movement is trying to lean over backwards to assist Tasmanian shipping yet we hear the suggestion that it is tying up Tasmania. While the dispute was on and the ship was tied up no urgency motion was raised in this chamber. It was raised after the ship had sailed and after the ‘Poolta ‘ and the ‘Seaway King ‘ had sailed and the dispute was over. Everyone knew that such a motion might impede an early solution of the dispute and such an occurrence would run counter to the ACTU direction. This motion was not moved at the time or during the course of the dispute but today, the first day on which the proceedings of the Senate have been broadcast since the dispute arose. Of course, there is some significance in that.
On the first occasion on which the proceedings of the Senate are being broadcast after the dispute arose, Senator Wright raises a grievance of many years standing. He attacks the trade union movement whenever he gets an opportunity to do so. We are asked to attack the trade unions today on the barest of details. We do not know the real cause of the dispute, what was behind it. We know nothing other than there was a tie-up of shipping. As I have said, Senator Wright has waited until the dispute was over and until the proceedings of the Senate are being broadcast before raising this matter. A matter of urgency is raised every Wednesday when the proceedings of the Senate are being broadcast, and Senator Wright has raised this matter of urgency today in order to ventilate a longstanding grievance.
– Make up another one, Senator; we are all listening.
– I am only saying it must be recognised that this is being done for propaganda purposes. We know the disputes about the King Island shipping service, but it must be recognised that the Minister for Labour (Mr Clyde Cameron) and the Minister for Transport (Mr Charles Jones) are doing as much as possible to assist Tasmania. They know its position. We also know that the Australian Council of Trade Unions is doing all that is possible to help Tasmania. It is giving preferential treatment to Tasmania by interfering in the domestic activities of the members of one of its affiliates who have a right to strike in order to seek special consideration for this island State.
The only thing that is threatening Tasmania is that Tasmanian Liberal senators come into this chamber and raise matters for political propaganda purposes. They will not recognise what has been done for them by the trade union movement. They attempt to disrupt the movement- to bite the hand that feeds them and so sacrifice Tasmanian shipping. I believe that the question concerning beef which arose 3 months ago involved slaughtermen imposing a ban because of the purchase and shipping of beef from Tasmania, thus depriving the island of its beef cattle and of employment opportunities for slaughtermen. This was not a waterside dispute; it was a dispute assisted by the waterside workers.
There is justification for giving us power to enter into agreements with unions so that no matter what might be the position with shipping we can guarantee to the workers compensation and redundancy payments. We will settle disputes; they will not continue for long periods. Honourable senators opposite insist that disputes occur, in order to discredit the Labor Government, but they are prepared to sacrifice their own State. They suggest that someone else is ruining their State but they know that they are contributing to that situation themselves. I do not care whether the motion is carried because it is meaningless. Everyone knows the intention of the motion. If it is carried the Senate will meet 5 minutes earlier tomorrow. By moving this motion honourable senators opposite are doing a disservice rather than a service to the people of Tasmania.
-Mr Deputy President, we have just listened to the best that the Government can do by way of reply to a matter of urgency that has been raised by Senator Wright. Senator Wright moved the following motion:
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn until tomorrow at 10.SS a.m.-
As everybody knows, that is the procedure which is used in this place to enable a matter of urgency to be raised for debate. The gravamen of the matter raised by Senator Wright is: for the purpose of debating a matter of urgency, namely, the monopoly power of the Seamen’s Union being used to boycott and destroy Tasmania ‘s seaborne trade.
The best that Senator Cavanagh, on behalf of the Government and as the Minister in this chamber representing a Minister in the other place, could do was 2 things. Firstly, he made a scurrilous attack upon individual members of the Opposition who come from Tasmania and, secondly, he referred totally erroneously to an example which in fact was the very opposite of what he claimed. He referred to an example of the Australian Council of Trade Union resolution in operation, cutting down the adverse effect of strike action and union disputes on Tasmania and its shipping. He referred to the fact that the North Esk’ was held up at a time when Tasmania was particularly short of feed grain as a result of the drought and of its normal requirements of flour for flour milling. Although Tasmania grows a considerable quantity of grain, it has to import that which is required for certain aspects of milling.
During the month, if my recollection is correct, that the dispute existed the situation in Tasmania reached alarming proportions. It was a matter on which I was consulted and on which I had numerous discussions with the representatives of the Australian National Line regarding their attempts to overcome the problem and get the
North Esk’ back on the run. It is certainly my clear recollection that far from the ACTU resolution being in any way effective in reducing the length of the dispute, the dispute became an unduly long one. The ‘North Esk’ was tied up at Geelong for approximately a month as a result of a dispute which in no way concerned conditions in Tasmania or Tasmanian unions, but which certainly adversely affected a large number of Tasmanians. But apparently the Minister was not able to think of any other example which may be more appropriate. I suggest we could conclude that there are no examples which are more appropriate than one in which union disputes, despite the ACTU resolution, held up the ‘North Esk’ for approximately a month. So Tasmania suffered severely as a result of that union dispute.
Over the years we have had dispute after dispute. It is interesting to note the comments in the all party report of the Senate Standing Committee on Primary and Secondary Industry and Trade of freight rates on Australian National Line shipping services to and from Tasmania. Mr Deputy President, you will recall the report, as will other honourable senators on both sides of the chamber. The section which I am about to quote from page 47 was part of the unanimous report of senators from both the Government and the Opposition. It states:
Shipping clearly is an industry very sensitive to an adverse industrial climate. This has raised particular problems, especially in passenger services. These were mentioned a number of times in evidence . . . We were told that tieups due to industrial problems had had significant effects on the profitability of the passenger-vehicle ferries on several occasions and had been one of the factors leading to the declining profitability of the Line prior to the 12.3 per cent freight increase.
The marine stewards ‘ strike in April and May of this year -
That is, the year in which the report was written presented us with a graphic example of the consequences of industrial troubles for the Line and particularly Tor Tasmania, depending as it does so greatly on shipping, which is its economic lifeline. As mentioned earlier, we were told in evidence that the cost to the Line -
That is, the Australian National Line- was estimated at approximately $600,000 in net loss of revenue, a major contribution to the Line’s profitability problems in the current financial year.
There was reference repeatedly in evidence to the huge increase in costs which resulted from industrial problems affecting shipping to and from Tasmania. It was for that reason that in the report I added a further recommendation to the recommendations made by the committee. This matter concerned me very greatly at the time, and it still concerns me. I believe that any Tasmanian would be concerned about the fact that our economic future is being sapped away repeatedly and continually as a result of the actions taken by various unions and perhaps even by some employers. But it is the industrial trouble, which very often does not concern Tasmania or Tasmanians but which affects them and destroys the viability of many industries in Tasmania, which concerns me. In the report I said:
The shipping industry and marine industry generally has, of recent years, been beset by industrial trouble. -
In particular, the operation of the Australian National Line has been severely disrupted by a series of industrial stoppages which have caused numerous delayed sailings or the complete loss of voyages.
The effect of these disruptions upon the movement of freight to and from Tasmania has been particularly severe.
The loss to one Tasmanian export industry alone, which resulted from the ANL stewards’ strike in April and May 197 1 was in the order of $4m.
The total loss to Tasmania is incalculable.
It does not only affect exporters and importers but it has a serious carry-through effect upon all industry, building and progress generally as well as affecting the domestic consumer.
There is no practical alternative means of transporting goods held up by such industrial action.
I regard the question of ensuring freedom from the effects of industrial stoppages as being of vital importance to the State of Tasmania and its people.
No economies, subsidies or rationalisation of internal transport can offset the disruptive influence of these industrial stoppages.
I went on to state:
I therefore RECOMMEND that:
for a trial period of at least two years the operation of the Australian National Line’s interstate freight shipping services to and from Tasmania be declared an essential service with consequent restriction of the right to strike. Such restriction to be negotiated with the Australian Council of Trade Unions and in the absence of agreement to be such legislative limitation imposed by the Government as is consistent with the preservation of the regularity of the ANL’s freight shipping services to and from Tasmania and the preservation of the right to take some industrial action for the redress of grievances;
that a committee be established with representatives of the Federal Government, the State Government, the ANL and the ACTU to consider what permanent measures can be taken to ensure regularity of shipping services of the ANL to and from Tasmania.
Well, that was 2 years ago. I regret that not very much has been done in those 2 years. Certainly nothing has been done positively to implement the recommendations which I then made.
I was interested to note that last year during the election campaign the problem of Tasmania was recognised by the now Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) who as the then Leader of the Opposition said that a Labor government would work to make freight and passenger service rates across Bass Strait as cheap per mile as interstate railway freights. How can they be if we are continually to have this heavy imposition of extra costs which result from industrial strife? Very often this industrial strife does not specifically affect Tasmania but Tasmanian shipping services are affected because of some problem that exists somewhere else. I was interested to note that the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr Barnard) said recently that he would arrange a conference in Launceston of various people to discuss the problem. Apparently people in Launceston had been making their complaints known to the Deputy Prime Minister and he has at last decided to take some action. He is quoted in ‘The Examiner’ of 13 October 1973 as saying:
The meeting will explore ways by which security and continuity of service across Bass Strait can be ensured.
He said that this meeting would concentrate on the problems caused by freight increases and strikes. So at least the Deputy Prime Minister, when speaking in Launceston in his own electorate, is prepared to recognise what Senator Cavanagh is not prepared to recognise- that is, the fundamental importance of the disruptive effect of strike action on the Tasmanian economy and Tasmanian shipping services.
– We agree. We are trying to do something about it. You will not give us the armament to do it.
– This is a poor excuse. The Minister has given that explanation much in the way his Government bleats about inflation being something that it inherited. Inflation was running at 4.5 per cent when the Government came into office and it has now managed to make it just under 4 times as great. In the same way the number of hours lost as a result of industrial stoppages has doubled since Senator Cavanagh ‘s Government came to office and he cannot blame us for the fact that the Government has not done anything positive to implement a program to combat this, except by capitulating to the unions. We all know what sort of attitude was adopted in Europe during the 1 930s. Appeasement did not work then. It is hard to think that appeasement is going to work now.
I do not subscribe in any way at all to any suggestion that all union action is not justified and that unions should never be allowed to strike. I am not in any way suggesting that that should be the situation. But obviously the system has to be made to work. The State of Tasmania cannot be held to ransom continually and repeatedly unless the Commonwealth is prepared to say: ‘Well, all right, if we are not prepared to stop industrial stoppages we will work out another way to have a special section of the VIP flight, not carrying Mr Barnard backwards and forwards so that he can attend the opening of the two-up school at the Casino, carry a bit of freight backwards and forwards. ‘ That might be a better way of utilising the VIP flight.
One of the points which I think is important is that we have to recognise the extent to which Tasmania is reliant upon air services to overcome the disabilities of freight services. Some people may not be aware that Launceston airport, for instance, is the sixth busiest cargo handling airport in Australia. This airport handles a very great amount of air cargo because so many industries in Tasmania find it necessary to transport their goods by air as the only means by which they can fulfil orders. Air transport is the only regular service which is available to them.
Tourism is also affected by Tasmanian shipping services. Tasmania is a beautiful island and an ideal tourist State. I am sure that Senator O ‘Byrne will agree with me in that regard even if he disagrees with me on other matters. I am sure that he too would say that Tasmania is a delightful tourist State. It is a State which could be built up tremendously as an oasis for those who are suffering from the effects of the big city life of Melbourne and Sydney. Tourists are able to enjoy a little bit of the State’s as yet unspoiled beauty. But what spoils it for people who wish to travel by car to and from Tasmania is the fact that when they visit this State they run the risk of not being able to take their cars home with them because of industrial stoppages. Every Tasmanian senator must have had a series of instances brought to his notice by people who have been adversely affected in this sort of way. Senator Wriedt indicates that he has not. All I can say is that I will send some of the people who complain to me about this matter to him so that we can share the experience. This has been a very common experience on my part. I have found that a large number of people have been adversely affected in this way.
Such a situation must tend to destroy the future employment of the very unionists who cause some of the trouble because if Tasmania is to expand one of the things that must expand with it is shipping; if shipping does not expand one of the things that will be cut down is the employment availability for the people about whom Senator Cavanagh expresses his concern and about whom we also express our concern.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Brown)- Order! The honourable senator’s time has expired.
– It is a pity that the time of the Senate should be taken up with a debate of this nature.
– You would not dare to go to the Hobart Town Hall and say that.
– When all of the jingoism has died down I will continue. I dare say it is quite obvious to anybody who has taken part or listened to this debate that the matter of urgency raised by Senator Wright is no more than an attempt to use an emotional argument about how Tasmania is being disadvantaged by industrial disputes. One would not need to be an Einstein to know that Tasmania or any other State is disadvantaged by industrial disputes. Does it have to take a Senator from Tasmania or from any other State of the Commonwealth to tell us that? The difference is that some of the disputes quite justifiably can be called puerile in the same way as the manner in which Senator Wright has initiated this urgency debate can be described as puerile. But other urgency debates in this Senate are debated because of a genuineness, as are many industrial disputes activated by a genuineness of complaint, and that is the difference. But the honourable senator is using this mechanism for no other purpose than the hope that his name will be splattered all over tomorrow morning’s Hobart ‘Mercury’ as the great defender of Tasmania. That is the reason for this urgency debate this afternoon. Senator Wright is not really concerned about the situation in Tasmania. If he were, he would have been more positive in his approach. For example, he would have talked about the amendment which this Government is making to the Australian Coastal Shipping Commission Act, with which I will deal later. He would have talked also about what the Australian Government has done to assist the Australian National Line in the financing of its passenger ship operations, something the Government of which he was a member did not do. This is not the negative, whinging line taken by the honourable senator and perhaps by his colleagues but the positive things that we have done since we have been in office.
It is quite true that many of the industrial disputes which are taking place around Australia are without justification. I would be the first to agree. At the same time one of the great things which the maritime unions of Australia have endeavoured to do over the years is to bring about a greater Australian participation in Australian shipping, especially overseas; and probably the unions initiated the moves that Australian ships and Australian seamen engage in overseas trade. It was those pressures on the previous Government that eventually forced it into the position where it was compelled to operate an overseas shipping line. And who today would deny the benefits that have followed from the Australian National Line ships engaging in the Japanese trade? I do not think anyone would deny that they have been a great asset. The maritime unions have urged the Government for many years to do these sorts of things and now we see the benefit of them. At the heart of the problem which existed in Hobart over the last couple of days was the same desire to see a proper fulfilment of Australian and New Zealand ships in trade between the 2 countries as part of our extension of trade between us- and I think there is justifiable cause there.
Is it not true, Senator Wright, that you as a Tasmanian senator like myself, or as a representative of any other State of the Commonwealth, would like to see the trade between Australia and New Zealand carried in Australian and New Zealand ships? I do not think you would disagree with that. The unions have attempted to point out to all the shipping concerns that this is what they would like to see, and I think there is every justification for it. Coming back to one of two of Senator Wright’s comments, he described the greatest monopoly power as being the labour organisations. There is no question that labour organisations can be a very powerful influence and I say, as I have already indicated, that I am not by any means always on their side. If I think they are wrong they do not get my support; if they are right they will get my support. The greatest monopoly power in respect of the matter that we are debating today is not the labour unions but the Conference Lines.
As a Tasmanian Senator Wright ought to be fully aware of the shackles that have been around Tasmanian and our export trade for many years. Two years ago the Conference Lines refused to handle the export of apples from Tasmania and said: ‘You are on your own. We do not want to be part of your trade ‘. Is this not a greater detriment than the delay of 13 ships in and out of the port of Hobart this year, with a total loss of 128 hours? Of all the ships movements in and out of the port of Hobart, is that the thing that is dragging back development in Tasmania? Can we not be more realistic? Naturally it would have been desirable not to have had those disputes and not to have lost those periods of time. But does Senator Wright or either of his colleagues seriously suggest that this is a major detriment to the development of the
State? I do not think it is an argument that could be sustained.
During the course of all these disputes that have happened over the years the Tasmanian Minister for Transport, to whom the honourable senator referred in terms which could only be described as derogatory, was involved. He did not claim that he was going to do something about these problems overnight. But what he did say was that unless we are prepared to cooperate as much as we can with the trade unions there will be confrontations. No one would suggest that Mr Batt’s record on negotiations with the maritime unions in the time he has been the Minister could bring other than credit to him, because we have had periods comparatively free of industrial disputes in Tasmania since Mr Batt has been Minister.
I want to refer now to two of the positive things which have been done and to which Senator Wright might have referred to in this debate had he been fair. Under the previous administration section 1 8 of the Australian Coastal Shipping Commission Act, which is the Act under which the ANL operates, required that in a case where the Commonwealth directed the Australian National Line to engage in trade it would receive no reimbursement if it made a loss on that trade unless the Australian National Line made an overall loss on its total operations. For years we asked that that provision be amended. Only today the Government has decided that it will be amended and that henceforth when the Australian National Line is required to service a particular area on which it makes a loss it will be reimbursed by the Australian Government. That is a critically important change that has been made. It is a positive movement and one which the previous Government despite all its expressed concern for Tasmanian transport problems was never prepared to implement.
A similar benefit flowed from our decision to subsidise the passenger shipping service to Tasmania by Sim a year for 3 years because the Australian National Line has been carrying a burden in getting people to and from Tasmania in passenger ships. The Australian Government recognised the need to encourage tourism to and from Tasmania and to provide the best possible facilities not only for air travel but also on the ships. It has been prepared to give this money to the Australian National Line so that it can in fact provide the best possible services to and from Tasmania. We received the report of the Bureau of Transport Economics which was referred to earlier in the debate. That has been referred, as
Senator Wright would be aware, to the Commonwealth Grants Commission, and that is the appropriate body to make determinations as to what financial assistance should be afforded to Tasmania because of its transport disabilities.
The essential point about this urgency motion, as I said earlier, is that it is no more than an opportunity for certain persons to stand up here and say all sorts of things which on the surface sound good but which in fact are negative. They are not positive, they are negative. They are not designed to overcome the problems but simply to make political capital out of them. Our desire as a government- and the State Government in Tasmania has the same desire- is to ensure maximum co-operation with the trade union movement, not to confront it, because that does not help anyone. We want to co-operate to see what are the problems and to see whether they can be ironed out. That is the most effective way of ensuring the free flow of shipping to and from Tasmania.
– I rise briefly to give support to this motion moved by Senator Wright. I do not agree that it is a waste of time to debate these matters. I feel that we Tasmanian senators must stick up for Tasmania and this is supposed to be a States House where we do just that. It is obvious to anyone who lives in Tasmania that Tasmania is at a tremendous disadvantage and needs special treatment in this matter of shipping and transport. Because ours is an island State we can be held to ransom. A union- whether it is the Seamen’s Union, or the Waterside Workers Federation, one of the airline unions or a refuelling union- can do a lot of damage to us. We heard previous speakers give details of just how much trouble some of the unions have forced on Tasmania. These disputes have been going on for many years and there is definite evidence that firms are leaving and have left the State as a result of unreliable shipping services. Some people who holiday in Tasmania or those who wish to go from Tasmania to the mainland and take their cars with them to save hiring one quite often find that they are locked in Tasmania. If they are locked in Tasmania perhaps it is a good thing; if they are left on the mainland for too long it might be a bad thing. But they cannot bank on their shipping booking being available because these ships are usually tied up at times of most inconvenience to the public. Unions in some cases seem to have very little regard for the shipping service as it affects the people, producers and companies in Tasmania. We have got to a stage with the economy of Tasmania where we need help. I do not intend to go to great lengths to bash the unions. I know many unionists who get as annoyed as I do about these hold-ups. There are a lot of reasonable people in some of the trade unions. But what I feel and what I want to suggest is that the Commonwealth Government should bring in legislation which insists that all services be continued across Bass Strait to Tasmania at all times. The legislation should make it illegal for any union to interfere with scheduled services to this island State. We are a State of the Commonwealth. All the other States can use their road or rail transport to get about. But because we are an island we need legislation which will keep us linked to the mainland at all times. I hope the Government considers that as a positive suggestion. Let us have positive legislation which will look after Tasmania and insist that we are always linked to the mainland in one way or another.
-The motion before the chamber has been moved for the purpose of debating a matter of urgency, namely, the Seamen’s Union of Australia being used to boycott and destroy Tasmania’s seaborne trade. As Senator Wriedt has pointed out, the language of the motion is exaggerated. It is quite obvious that both Senator Wright and Senator Rae get on board a ship every time it suits them. We noticed that they were very active a few months ago on the eve of their preselection for the Senate. Now we find that they have ceased to be barnacles and have got on board again when they have another issue which they can bring up on the air and by which they can delay the Senate in introducing overdue legislation which can bring equity to employees as well as employers throughout the country. For so long the employers of this country have had the protection of the Government. Now the other side of the bargain will be considered. We have legislation prepared which will resolve many of these problems.
The matter of urgency uses the words ‘destroy Tasmania’s seaborne trade’, lt is not Tasmania’s seaborne trade. Japan’s seaborne trade is the matter which Senator Wright has raised. When it happens to suit the Japanese a ship calls at South Australia to take Chrysler cars from South Australia via Hobart to New Zealand. Over the years there has been a long-standing agreementespecially since we have been in power- that Australian interstate shipping should be, as far as possible, carried out by Australians. There is this talk about destroying Tasmania’s seaborne trade. There have been delays. Some of the reasons have been trivial but some have been in relation to negotiations for a common industry award. Instead of this problem being solved years ago there was a lack of communication between employer and employee. Many of these disputes are on the same basis. But the award is now in operation. The situation is that the dispute has been resolved.
This matter could have been raised earlier but that would not have suited Senator Wright or Senator Rae because we have not been on the air since last Wednesday. It was settled in Sydney after a meeting of the unions had received an assurance that the question of Tasmanian trade would be discussed as soon as possible. The union delegate on the ‘Poolta’ said that a meeting of unions at Macquarie Wharf had decided to accept the Sydney recommendations. This is much ado about nothing.
– Does the honourable senator disagree with Mr Barnard about the importance of strikes in disrupting Tasmania’s shipping services?
– I know there has been an agreement that special consideration will be given to Tasmania. The unions have more or less made an agreement that that will be the situation. But this motion relates to the Seamen’s Union. There have been disputes in other sections of the stevedoring industry. As was referred to today, the Federated Storemen and Packers Union had a dispute which was settled. The slaughtermen, members of the Australian Meat Industry Employees Union, were not so much in difficulties as protecting their own interests because overseas buyers were taking Tasmanian export beef to Victoria to be slaughtered. But these were domestic issues. They do not come into this exaggerated motion which is before the Senate relating to the monoply power of the Seamen ‘s Union being used to boycott and destroy Tasmania’s seaborne trade. I think that the motion should be treated with the contempt which is its due. We should get on with the important business of the nation rather than allowing honourable senators opposite to use this Senate as a rostrum for pushing their own barrows.
– in reply- When this motion was introduced, knowing the heavy legislative program, I proposed that we abridge the usual time for an urgency motion. I am grateful to all sides of the Senate for co-operating. All I wish to urge is that the reply which has come from the Government benches betokens a very poor appreciation of the difficulties that Tasmania is encountering because of the use of monopoly power to destroy its seaborne trade. When Senator O’Byrne says, with reference to the ./……. Maru’, that that is not Tasmanian trade but Japanese trade I spare time for a tear in sympathy. This is a case where the Tasmanian shipping arrangement is being boycotted by the Seamen’s Union simply because it wants to use its power over the cargo to compel the exclusive right for Australian ships and seamen to carry out the New Zealand trade. It is that extension of monopoly which presumably the 2 Tasmanian senators, Senator Wriedt and Senator O’Byrne, support. I hope that the Senate will show its concern for Tasmanian interests so that we can accept this motion in the terms in which it is put forward, that is to say, consideration of the monopoly power of the Seamen’s Union being used to boycott and destroy Tasmania’s seaborne trade.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– On behalf of Senator Douglas McClelland, for the information of honourable senators I present a copy of the report by the Minister for Education (Mr Beazley) on the conference of the Australian Education Council held in Melbourne on 14 and 15 June 1973.
– On behalf of Senator Douglas McClelland, for the information of honourable senators I present the annual report of the Director-General of Health on the activities of the Australian Department of Health for the year ended 30 June 1973.
– by leaveBecause of the change in the hours of the sitting of the Senate and because of the amount of the Government business at present on the notice paper it is not now proposed that Estimates Committees D and E should meet tomorrow. 1 point out that among the arguments advanced in favour of reducing the hours of sitting of the Senate on Tuesdays and Thursdays was the one that committee meetings could be held in the evenings. Another fact to be considered is that most of the Estimates Committees have now done portion of their work and have only the examination of one of two departments to complete. Senate
Estimates Committee F, which is an exception, will meet on Monday, 12 November, from 2 p.m. until 10 p.m. I think that by then it will be able to finalise the examination of the departments allocated to it. Therefore it is proposed that Estimates Committees A and C will meet on Tuesday, 6 November, from 8.30 p.m. to- 10.30 p.m. and Estimates Committees D and E will meet on Thursday, 8 November, from 8.30 p.m. until 10.30 p.m.
-by leave- We acknowledge the notice which has been given to us by the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs (Senator Cavanagh) of when the Estimates Committees will next meet. We appreciate this because it will enable all arrangements to be made. But whilst no opposition is expressed to the sittings of the Estimates Committees during those times, this does raise a question which must be resolved when Estimates Committees next have to consider appropriations in 1974. When the Estimates Committees were established initially they were to sit as part of the Senate during the ordinary Senate sitting hours. That is the practice which has been adopted and adhered to until quite recent times when the opportunity has been taken to fix Estimates Committees hearings at times when the Senate is not sitting. That was not the intention or the basis upon which Estimates Committees were established. I think that this raises very serious questions upon which the Opposition feels there must be consultation with a view to seeing whether the whole format of the Estimates Committees in the way in which they are established should not be reconsidered. We do not by that question the value of Estimates Committees, but we think we must give consideration to the original premise and endeavour to ensure that Estimates Committees are either part of the Senate or outside the Senate.
– Pursuant to section 32 of the Export Payments Insurance Corporation Act 1956-1972, I present the seventeenth annual report of the Corporation for the year ended 30 June 1973, together with financial statements and the Auditor-General ‘s report on those statements.
Motion (by Senator Cavanagh)- by leaveagreed to:
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent questions with regard to the remaining stages Tor the passage through the Senate of all or several of the Bills listed under Government business, Orders of the Day Nos 1 to5, being put in one motion at each stage and the consideration of all or several of the Bills together in the Committee of the Whole and as would prevent the reading of the short titles only on every order for the reading of the Bills.
Debate resumed from 27 September and 17 October.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bills read a second time.
– I wish to move an amendment which has been circulated to add a new clause 32a after clause 32 of the Papua New Guinea Bill (No. 2). I move:
This amendment is moved for the purpose of allowing an affirmation or an oath of service rather than allegiance to Her Majesty the Queen to make provision for the appointment of judiciary from outside of Commonwealth countries. As other countries will be involved, the Bill would not be appropriate unless we had the provisions of the oath of service rather than the oath of allegiance.
– The Opposition does not oppose the addition of the new clause. I do not know whether the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs (Senator Cavanagh) can give us some indication as to how it has come about that this is proposed as an amendment. We assume- we would appreciate the confirmation- that this is a recommendation which comes from the House of Assembly in Papua New Guinea, as did many of the other proposals which are contained in these measures. Although I acknowledge the Minister’s possible difficulties in this area, we would like to know whether there will be any form of oath or affirmation of allegiance which it is contemplated will be adopted by Papua New Guinea when it secures independence. One can see that difficulties may emerge in the light of the policy which the Government is desirous of following of appointing judges who perhaps may not be from British Commonwealth countries acknowledging allegiance to the Queen. But one would suppose that within the Territory there ought to be an oath of allegiance to the head of state, the constitution or to the government.
There does not appear to be any indication that any substitute form of allegiance is being proposed. We wonder whether we could receive some assistance from the Government on this matter. The practice as we have always understood it in this country has been that not only a member of the Parliament but also a judge swears that not only will he well and truly and faithfully serve but also will bear true allegiance to Her Majesty the Queen. I doubt very much whether there would be any suggestion that in this country those 2 propositions be changed. We appreciate that if the Territory of Papua New Guinea, approaching independence, wishes to change the form of the oath, we will accord with its wishes. The interest which we have at the present time, before independence has arrived, is whether there is intended to be any form of allegiance whatsoever.
– The only information which I can give the honourable senator is that it is the Administration’s desire, which has been worked out, I believe, with the Minister for External Territories (Mr Morrison), that the judges whom it is anticipated will be appointed would come from a variety of countries. Some will come from Asian countries, and some will come from countries which are not members of the Commonwealth. Therefore the new clause provides an oath of service rather than an oath of allegiance. I take it that the service is to the country which they are serving. There is no allegiance to a Queen who is not the ruler of the home country of the judge. I can take the matter no further than that.
-I wish to speak to the Papua New Guinea Loans Guarantee Bill. I was of the impression, after listening to the debate yesterday, that the guarantees which would be given by Australia in relation to the new independent country were perhaps unlimited. I am comforted to see from the text of clause 5 that the guarantees are limited not to exceed $24m. I ask the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs (Senator Cavanagh) to confirm my understanding of that clause, that that is with regard to the aggregate guarantees that will be undertaken by the Treasurer. I notice that the guarantees must be given on or before 1 July 1 974. 1 notice also that clause 6 states:
Any payments by Australia under a guarantee are payable out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund, which is appropriated accordingly.
Senator Durack last night brought forward most impressively several matters with regard to the structure of the judiciary and with regard to internal security. The Minister has moved an amendment to the Papua New Guinea Bill (No. 2). There has been no suggestion from this Parliament that after Papua New Guinea ‘s independence we will have the slightest control of or influence on this new independency. If we are to give guarantees, there is some correlative obligation owing to us. To my way of thinking, for the proper supervision of these guarantees the Consolidated Revenue Fund should not be automatically imprest with the appropriation of a permanent and continuing nature, but these guarantees should be paid out of the Advance to the Treasurer. This year the amount which is being sought is $50m for ordinary annual services and $50m for appropriations which are not ordinary annual services. The matter should come before Parliament in the Appropriation Bill. I submit that this Parliament has fallen into great error by giving such a huge amount of our revenue subject to a continuing and permanent appropriation. Therefore the expenditure of that continuing and permanent appropriation never comes before Parliament as an item of review. Any payment of a guarantee under the Papua New Guinea Loans Guarantee Bill, I submit, would be more appropriately reviewed on the ordinary annual appropriation. I ask the Minister to comment upon the suggestion that the words which is appropriated accordingly’ be omitted.
– At the moment I do not have any advisers. I rely on what the Papua New Guinea Loans Guarantee Bill says. I do not think there is any real doubt about the first question which Senator Wright raised. Clause 5(1) permits us to give the guarantee. Clause 5 (2) states:
A guarantee or guarantees shall not be given under subsection ( I ) in relation to the borrowing, whether under one agreement or two or more agreements, of foreign currency the equivalent of which in Australian currency exceeds Twentyfour million dollars.
Therefore, it is obvious that $24m is the limit of our guarantees. In the aggregate, we can guarantee only up to $24m. Clause 6 provides the method of payment. The situation referred to by Senator Wright arises only when we have to meet a payment under the guarantees. In the event of having to meet a payment, any payments by Australia under guarantee are payable out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund, which is appropriated accordingly’. We are dealing with the appropriation now. It does not come under review from time to time. I do not think it should come under review because we are now making the commitment, not knowing what the future will be. If it came under review there could be a refusal to honour our undertaking and guarantee on this occasion. We guarantee a loan. The Treasurer simply pays if we are called upon, under clause 5, to meet our obligation as a result of the guarantee. The Parliament is deciding this issue now.
-That statement means that the final decision is exercised by the Treasurer. My suggestion was that the Treasurer would make the decision subject to the approval of this Parliament. I do not think that it is appropriate to suggest that the Parliament would repudiate any obligation to guarantee. The question is simply whether we should give an absolute right of decision to the Treasurer or whether we should give to him the ordinary right to make a Treasury decision subject to review by Parliament. However, I do not propose to offer any amendment.
– I would not have thought that it was the approval of the Treasurer. I would have thought that it was the approval of the Parliament and that we are deciding that matter now. We are deciding now that we will guarantee a loan to Papua New Guinea and if it does not meet the loan we undertake to pay accordingly. I would have thought that we were making the decision and making it mandatory on the Treasurer to pay the amount.
– I draw to the notice of the Minister that the Government is expecting us to make our decision when we do not know to whom the obligation will be incurred or for what reason.
– I would have thought we were doing that in the Bill.
-I make those 2 points. To whom or for what purpose? I would think that the sensible decision could be made when the person guaranteed and the purpose of the guarantee are known.
Amendment agreed to.
-(Senator Brown)- The question is: ‘That the Papua New Guinea Bill (No. 2) 1973, as amended, be agreed to, and that the remaining Bills stand as printed.’
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Papua New Guinea Bill (No. 2) 1973 reported with an amendment, and the remaining Bills reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bills (on motion by Senator Cavanagh) read a third time.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Murphy) read a first time.
– I move:
As the Bill has been explained in detail in the House of Representatives, I ask for leave to have my second reading speech incorporated in Hansard.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Prowse)- Is leave granted?
- Mr Deputy President, may I ask the Leader of the Government in the Senate the principle on which he decides whether he will read a second reading speech or whether he will incorporate it in Hansard? Yesterday we had read the second reading speeches relating to half a dozen Bills which did not appear to be of any great interest. The Leader of the Government would know that this measure will have enormous impact on the community and I feel that when a Bill is of great importance it is appropriate that the second reading speech be read in the Senate.
– The principle seems to be clear: If we are introducing into the Senate for the first time a Bill such as the Law Reform Commission Bill or the Northern Territory Supreme Court Bill, naturally the second reading speech is read in full. But if a Bill is being transmitted to the Senate from the House of Representatives and there is no material alteration to the way in which it was presented in the other place, it is the practice not to read it. But if the honourable senator would like me to read the second reading speech I will do so.
– If I had my way I would have the Minister read it, but that may not be the wish of the Opposition.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- Order! I want to make it clear to the Senate that Senator Webster is refusing leave to have the speech incorporated in Hansard.
-I do not think the honourable senator is going quite as far as that, but he has indicated a view and I will accede to his request. By this historic Bill, Parliament is being asked to establish an Industries Assistance Commission. We propose to extend to all Australian industries a system of assistance which, for the last 50 years, has applied only to manufacturers, through the Tariff Board. The Bill puts into effect the proposal outlined in the GovernorGeneral’s speech last February. It implements an important plank of the Australian Labor Party platform. This Bill is based on a report by Sir John Crawford entitled ‘A Commission to Advise on Assistance to Industries’ which the Prime Minister commissioned in March and which Sir John provided in June. The Crawford report was made public shortly after it was received, and all who have read its lucid pages will realise the very great contribution Sir John has made to this very difficult matter. The Government takes this opportunity to express its appreciation and admiration for this further service rendered by a truly great public servant, whose quality and calibre allows him to be of service to the Australian Government, whatever its political persuasion.
The fundamental purpose of the present system of advice on assistance to manufacturing industry has been to allow public scrutiny of the process whereby governments determine the different amounts of assistance to be given to different industries.
The Board is an independent statutory authority which has an advisory function only. It has no executive role. The essence of the Tariff Board system is that it makes public inquiries and public reports on questions of assistance for industry referred to it by the Government. The Government proposes to extend this system to industries in other sectors of the economy because it believes the system has, over a long period, proved its value to successive governments in an important and difficult area of government decision making. The first and most important reason for establishing the Commission is to allow public scrutiny of the process whereby governments decide how much assistance to give to different industries. This scrutiny is necessary because of the highly selective nature of the process. Measures which assist particular industries constitute forms of economic discrimination which, at least in the short term, can be to considerable advantage to the industries assisted and to the disadvantage of those who pay for the assistance, namely, other industries, consumers, or taxpayers. Such a process must be independent and impartial, and seem to be independent and impartial.
The Crawford report indicates that tariff assistance to manufacturing industries totals several thousand million dollars a year. Assistance to the rural sector involves several hundred million dollars a year. The Government has increasingly made public inquiries, public scrutiny and public reports the basis for major policy decisions. It is important to appreciate fully what the phrase ‘public inquiries and reports’ will really mean under this proposal. It means wide advertisement, in newspapers and by circulars, of matters referred to the Commission. It means public hearings, at which interested parties can support or oppose industries’ claims for assistance, lt means prompt availability of those hearings. It means the systematic collection and analysis by the Commission and other organisations of information relevant to the Commission’s inquiries. It means that most of this information should be available for public scrutiny during the course of particular inquiries. And it means that the Commission should be able to call disinterested expert witnesses. Finally, it means public reports which explain in detail the reasons for the Commission’s recommendations. In short, the words ‘public inquiries and reports’ denote a deliberate, orderly and widely accessible system of communication between the Government, industry and the wider public.
The application to all industries of the advisory system which has long been accepted for manufacturing industries is necessary in the interests of fair dealing and open dealing. It is necessary also because it can contribute to a better use of” the nation’s resources. By this I mean a use of resources more attuned to the commonly accepted objectives of government policy. There are several reasons why the Industries Assistance Commission should be able to make a unique contribution in this area. The first stems essentially from the fact that the Commission will be a single institution, with the responsibility for advising on the assistance which should be given to industries in all sectors of the economy. It will therefore be very conscious of the need to develop a rational and consistent approach towards all industries.
This Government has inherited a complex, confusing and inconsistent collection of measures which discriminate between individual industries- particularly as between primary and secondary sectors of the economy. In many cases, the total amount of the assistance afforded particular industries is obscure, and its effects are even more obscure. We propose to substitute a deliberate, systematic, and comprehensive program of public inquiries for the rather random, haphazard, and sometimes informal and superficial process of investigation of the past.
A second reason why the Commission can contribute to a better use of the nation’s resources stems from its status as an independent statutory authority. The Commission will be able to develop and pursue a long term program of inquiries, free from day-to-day political pressures. This in turn has very important implications for the amount and quality of” its information and for the depth of analysis which the Commission can undertake. This of course includes analysis of the effects of its recommendations on the use of resources in different industries. For example, industries which are comparatively wasteful in their use of resources and which impose a significant cost on the community can be systematically examined through public inquiries, and obliged to justify any special assistance they receive from the government by demonstrating the benefits they bring to the community. The Commission will be obliged, through its public reports, to explain why it considers that certain industries should receive more assistance- than others.
I propose now to consider some of the more important clauses in the Bill and the reasons for them.
Clause 2 1 states that the functions of the Commission are to hold inquiries and make reports in respect of matters affecting assistance to industries and other matters that may be referred to the Commission. This clause covers any industry, whether in the primary, secondary or tertiary sector of the economy. It is therefore the clause which gives effect to the Government’s wish to extend the present advisory system for manufacturing industries based on the Tariff Board. Together with clause 23 (2)- which allows the Commission to consider all possible forms of assistance for a particular industry- clause 2 1 provides the basis for systematic analysis of the structure of industry assistance in Australia, and thus for evolving a more coherent and rational policy by the Government towards industrial development.
Clause 22 provides certain policy guidelines for the Commission which place the work of the Commission firmly in the framework of general economic management.
The guidelines will also help those making submissions for assistance from the Government by providing a basis for them to relate their claims to the public interest. They also make clear the need for Australia’s assistance policies to recognise our international trade obligations.
Clause 23 contains several very important provisions, including one which states that the Government shall not take any action to provide assistance to a particular industry until it has received a report on the matter from the Commission. This so-called ‘mandatory provision’ is a more restricted version of a similar provision that has been in the Tariff Board Act since 1921. It is an essential safeguard to the integrity of the system. It ensures that all groups which may be affected by a change in the assistance afforded a particular industry- those who stand to lose as well as those who stand to gain- will have an equal opportunity to express their views at a public inquiry. It will be apparent that the reference to the Commission of questions relating to assistance for individual industries cannot be optional. If some industries- particularly those which stand to lose most from public exposure of their claims- can avoid the process of public inquiry the fundamental purpose of the Commission will be frustrated.
There are several important qualifications to the mandatory provision which should be noted. First, although the provision obliges the Government to seek the advice of the Commission on all questions of assistance to individual industries, it does not oblige the Government to accept that advice. Like the Tariff Board, the Commission is to have an advisory role only. The ultimate responsibility for deciding what courses of action to take and what policies to adopt resides with Parliament. Secondly, the mandatory provision relates to questions of assistance to individual industries in the primary and secondary sectors of the economy, but not to industries in the tertiary sector. A large proportion of tertiary activities are either in the public sector, and therefore the direct responsibility of the Federal, State, or local governments, or are naturally sheltered from the overseas competition or the instability of overseas markets which prompts most of the claims for assistance from primary or secondary industries. Some tertiary enterprises may seek special assistance, and it will be open to governments to refer such requests to the Commission for advice. This Government intends to do so. The extent to which it can do so early in the life of the Commission will depend in part on prior commitments it has given the Commission, such as the current 6-year review of the tariff. Thirdly, the mandatory provision does not restrict the Government’s freedom to make changes of policy such as the recent 25 per cent reduction in tariffs, to negotiate changes in levels of assistance for the purpose of international trade agreements, or to extend preferential treatment to developing countries. And finally, it does not restrict the Government’s capacity to provide urgent temporary financial assistance to industries for periods not exceeding 12 months.
Another important provision in clause 23 allows the Government to take action on assistance to a particular industry if the Commission has not reported by a date specified in the reference. This provision enables the Government to set a date by which the Commission must report, which accords with the Government’s own priorities in planning the development of an industry. Consequently, the existence of the mandatory provision cannot cause any unreasonable delay in Government decisions on particular industries nor can it impair the Government’s planning role. No restraint is placed on the right of the Australian Government to seek advice from other expert bodies.
In practice I would expect there to be few cases indeed of conflict between the Government’s priorities in relation to the timing of advice from the Commission, and the Commission’s capacity to provide advice in accordance with those priorities. As pointed out in Sir John Crawford’s report, it is possible, as the Tariff Board has begun to demonstrate, to program the Commission’s inquiry work several years ahead. The absence of long term and co-ordinated programming of references to the Tariff Board in the past tended to increase the average time required by the Board to prepare its reports. The fact that one Minister will have responsibility for referring matters to the Commission, and that there now exists a permanent inter-departmental committee to keep him informed well before the event on matters likely to be referred to the Commission, should introduce much greater stability into the work of the Commission and greatly reduce uncertainty about the length of its inquiries. This greater opportunity to program ahead means that the Government will have a continuous record of the expected completion dates for particular inquiries and hence of the priorities which the Commission allots to each element of its total work commitment. With this knowledge and its capacity to specify when the Commission’s report on a particular matter is required, the Government can avoid the possibility of having its ability to act on questions of assistance to particular industries impaired.
The only other clause on which I propose to comment is that which allows the Commission to inquire into certain matters on its own initiative, clause 24. This clause, like the mandatory provision, is central to the concept of the Industries Assistance Commission, and has a parallel in the present Tariff Board Act. In essence, it allows the Commission to initiate inquiries into, and report on, industries whose assistance has been unchanged, or unreviewed, for at least 6 years. It is a safeguard against the indefinite continuation of assistance to particular industries long after it is needed. It is necessary because structures of assistance, like some of the activities they support, can become obsolete.
The Tariff Board was established in 1921 and it has been an important and respected source of advice to 21 of the 28 Parliaments which have been elected since Federation. In replacing the Tariff Board with the Industries Assistance Commission, this Parliament will therefore be taking an historic step.
It will, I believe, be a step applauded by this and succeeding Parliaments, and by the people of Australia, because it extends a principle that we all approve in general, if not always in particular cases. This is the principle that favours claimed from the Government and through the Government from the Australian public should be publicly examined, and favours granted by Government should be publicly justified.
I commend the Bill to the Senate.
Debate (on motion by Senator Cotton) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Murphy) read a first time.
– I move:
The Customs Tariff Bill (No. 2) 1973 is complementary to the Industries Assistance Commission Bill 1973 which I have just introduced and correlates the Customs Tariff with that Bill. This Bill also repeals section 1 8 of the principal Act which makes provision for deferred rates of duty- that is, different rates to come into force at some future date after inquiry and report by the Tariff Board. The use of this style of tariff provision has been outmoded for several decades and the deletion of the section is made on the grounds of redundancy. I commend the Bill to the Senate.
Debate (on motion by Senator Cotton) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Murphy) read a first time.
– I move:
I ask leave to incorporate my second reading speech in Hansard.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Prowse)- Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The document read as follows)-
The purpose of this Bill is to authorise revisions to the financial assistance grants arrangements agreed between the Australian and State Governments at the Premiers’ Conference held on 28 and 29 June 1973, namely:
The financial assistance grants at present being paid to the States are authorised by the States Grants Act 1971-1972. In view of the fact that the provisions of a substantial number of sections of this Act are no longer operative and unnecessarily complicate the Act, it has been decided to provide for an entirely new Act. Apart from the deletion of these inoperative sections and the new provisions to effect the revisions referred to above the form of the legislation follows closely that of the present legislation.
The present financial assistance arrangements were originally settled at the June 1970 Premiers’ Conference and were intended to apply over the 5 years to 1974-75. However, the arrangements have been substantially revised on a number of occasions since then, principally by the provision of additional grants and by adjustments which accompanied the transfer of payroll tax to the States, although the formula incorporated in the arrangements has not been altered.
I turn now to discuss the 3 revisions to the arrangements in more detail. At the Premiers’ Conference in June the States accepted the Australian Government’s offer to assume full financial responsibility for financing tertiary education from 1 January 1974, and it was agreed that estimated amounts of recurrent expenditure of which the States would thereby be relieved should be deducted from the financial assistance grants otherwise payable. The estimated capital expenditures of which the States are to be relieved are being deducted from the States’ Loan Council programs. I will refer to this aspect of the matter in my second reading speech on the States Grants (Capital Assistance ) Bill 1973.
The reductions from the revenue grants for 1973-74, totalling $11 1.8m, represent estimates of the half-year savings to the States. The amounts for 1974-75, totalling $229. 7m, represent the estimated full-year savings.
These reductions are being made in accordance with a general policy expressed by the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) in his opening speech at the conference that, where the national Government undertakes new or additional commitments which relieve the States or their authorities of the need to allocate funds for expenditures at present being carried by them, there should be adjustments in the financial arrangements between the 2 levels of government to take account of the shift of new financial responsibilities. Legislation to authorise the necessary additional grants to the States for tertiary education will be introduced by the Minister for Education (Mr Beazley) in the present sittings of Parliament.
The additional revenue assistance of $2 5 m which the Australian Government agreed to provide to the States in 1973-74 is being paid in recognition of Budget difficulties which they were seen to be facing this year. It is to be distributed between the States in proportion to the grants payable to them in 1973-74 under the financial assistance grants formula.
At the Premiers’ Conference the Prime Minister made it clear to the States that the Australian Government does not intend to provide further general revenue assistance to the States in this financial year. We would contemplate providing such assistance only if the States were to face undue difficulties due to factors beyond their control which could not have been foreseen at the time the States’ budgets were brought down.
The Bill also revises the provision in the existing Act under which grants additional to those calculated under the formula are to be paid to Western Australia in 1973-74 and 1974-75.
Those additional grants were being paid in accordance with a decision taken at the June 1970 Premiers’ Conference. They were $12. 5m in 1970-71, $9.5m in 1971-72 and $6.5m in 1972-73 and were to have been $3. 5m and $0.5m in 1973-74 and 1974-75 respectively. At the June 1 973 Premiers Conference it was agreed that the additional grant payable to Western Australia in 1973-74 should remain at $6.5 m instead of being reduced to $3. 5m as provided in the existing legislation. It was agreed at the Conference also that Western Australia would receive an additional temporary grant in 1973-74, the amount of which would be the subject of further discussion between the Australian and Western Australian Governments. It has been agreed, following such discussion, that a special temporary addition of $3. 5m- the same as the amount added last year- would be made to the
State’s revenue grants in 1973-74. It has also been agreed that the additional financial assistance grant for Western Australia remain at $6.5min 1974-75.
Thus, additional grants to Western Australia totalling $ 10m in 1973-74 and $6.5m in 1974-75 are provided for in the Bill.
Turning to the details of the Bill, the first 5 clauses are of a machinery nature. Clause 6 sets out the manner in which the ‘formula grants’ payable to the States in 1973-74 and subsequent years are to be determined. These grants constitute the bulk of the grants payable under the Act. Sub-clause ( 1.) of this clause sets out the general method of determining these grants. The method is the same as that provided in the existing legislation- that is, the formula grant for each State is calculated by taking that State’s grant for the previous year and increasing it in proportion to the increases in the State’s population and in average wages in Australia as a whole and by a further factor of 1 .8 per cent.
Sub-clause (2.) of clause 6 sets out the amounts to be used as the base for purposes of determining the formula grants for 1973-74. These amounts are the actual financial assistance grants paid to each State in 1972-73 under section 7 of the States Grants Act 1971-1972, the equivalent section in that Act to this clause, plus an additional $2m in the case of Queensland. This latter addition, in conjunction with subclause (4.), continues the arrangement agreed at the June 1970 Premiers’ Conference and embodied in present legislation that there be an addition of $2m to the ‘base’ for calculating Queensland’s formula grant for each of the 5 years ending 1974-75.
Sub-clause (3.) of clause 6 provides for the reductions to the 1974-75 grants on account of the Australian Government’s assumption of full responsibility for financing tertiary education. As the grants payable under this clause (with the addition of $2m for Queensland) become the base’ amounts for purposes of calculating the grants in the next year, this provision effects a permanent reduction in the grants.
Clause 7 sets out the reductions to be made, on the same account, to the grants which would otherwise be payable under the Act during 1973-74. These reductions do not affect the base’ amounts for purposes of calculating the grants under the formula in 1974-75.
Clauses 8 and 9 provide, respectively, for the additional revenue assistance of $25m to be divided between all the States and the additional grants to Western Australia. The remaining clauses are mainly of a machinery nature and are similar to those contained in the existing legislation. Full details of the general revenue assistance to be paid to the States in 1 973-74 are given in chapter 1 1 of the Budget document ‘Payments To Or For The States 1973-74’. Comparison of the amounts of such assistance estimated to be paid in this year with the amounts paid in 1972-73 are affected by the reductions to be made to the 1973-74 grants on account of tertiary education. If, however, the figures for the 2 years are adjusted to make them comparable in this respect, total general revenue assistance estimated to be payable to the States in 1973-74, on assumptions spelt out in the document to which I have referred, will be some 15.6 per cent greater than that paid in 1972-73. This is a substantial increase, which should assist the States to continue to improve the standards of the services they provide. I commend the Bill to the Senate.
Debate (on motion by Senator Withers) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Murphy) read a first time.
– I move:
I ask leave to incorporate my second reading speech in Hansard.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Prowse)- Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The document read as follows)-
The main purpose of this Bill is to authorise capital grants to the States in 1973-74 totalling $278,307,000. This represents the grant component of the State Government Loan Council programs for 1 973-74. The Bill also provides for the payment of grants in the first 6 months of 1974-75 pending the passage of similar legislation in that year. The Bill provides that the payments authorised in it may be made from the Consolidated Revenue Fund or from the Loan Fund, and includes appropriate borrowing authority.
As part of the revised revenue assistance arrangements with the State Governments settled at the June 1970 Premiers’ Conference, the Australian Government undertook to provide, on a continuing basis, a portion of the State Government Loan Council programs in the form of interest-free grants in lieu of what would otherwise be borrowings by the States. The grants are designed to help the States finance capital works from which debt charges are not normally recovered such as schools, police buildings and the like. They are not, however, subject to conditions as to the purposes for which they might be expended.
At its meeting in June 1973, the Loan Council approved programs for the State Governments totalling $867m comprising $278,307,000 in the form of grants from the Australian Government and $588,693,000 in the form of borrowings.
In determining the size of the State Governments’ Loan Council programs which the Australian Government should support, two special factors had to be taken into account. First, at the Premiers’ Conference/Loan Council meeting new arrangements for financing the construction of welfare housing were agreed upon. Whereas in 1972-73 such expenditures were financed by the States out of their borrowing programs as approved by the Loan Council for that year, they will be financed in 1973-74 and subsequent years by specific purpose advances from the Australian Government under a new housing agreement. Legislation to authorise the payment of these advances will be introduced in these sittings of Parliament.
Secondly, at the same meeting, the States accepted the Australian Government’s offer to assume full responsibility for financing tertiary education from January 1974 and agreed that their Loan Council programs should be reduced by estimates of the capital expenditures of which they would thereby be relieved. The agreed reductions for 1973-74 total $32. 8m, representing the estimated half year savings to the States, and will total $65.4m for the full year in 1974-75.
These two factors explain why the States’ Loan Council programs for 1973-74- totalling $867m- are lower than the programs in 1 972-73, when they totalled $982m. If adjustments are made to put the programs for both years on a comparable basis, the 1973-74 program is $84.7m, or 10.4 per cent, greater than the 1972-73 program. This is a substantial increase, and it should assist the States in maintaining a high level of capital expenditures. The capital grants represent 32.1 per cent of the total programs. The Australian Government has undertaken to support the States’ borrowing programs by subscribing any shortfall between these programs and amounts available from public borrowings from its own revenue sources.
The Loan Council, at its June 1973 meeting, also approved borrowing programs for the larger State semi-government and local authorities totalling $564m, which represents an increase of $5 1.6m, or 10.1 per cent, over total borrowings by these authorities in 1972-73- again a substantial increase. ‘Larger’ State authorities are those semi-government and local authorities whose individual borrowings for the year exceed $400,000. The Loan Council, following the practice of recent years, has set no overall limit in 1973-74 on borrowings of authorities whose individual borrowings amount to $400,000 or less. Further details concerning the Loan Council programs of the States and their authorities for 1973-74 may be found in chapter HI of the Budget document ‘Payments To Or For The States
I now turn to the specific provisions of the Bill. It will be noted that, besides authorising, in clause 3, the payment of grants to the States totalling $278,307,000 in 1973-74 the Bill, in clause 4 authorises the Treasurer to make advance payments in the first six months of 1974- 75 at the same annual rate as in the current financial year. The Australian Government has a continuing obligation to provide these grants and it is desirable that there be authority to make payments to the States in 1974-75 before the passage of legislation in that year.
Under clause 5 of the Bill, payments under the Act may be made either from Consolidated Revenue Fund or Loan Fund, and clause 9 provides for the necessary appropriation of these funds. The extent to which the payments will be met from Loan Fund will depend on borrowings during the year, which cannot be estimated in advance.
Clauses 6 and 7 of the Bill authorise the Treasurer to borrow funds, in the period from the commencement of the Act to the end of December 1 974, up to the total of the amounts of the grants payable in 1 973-74 and in the first six months of 1974-75. This borrowing authority will be reduced by the amount of any borrowings made before the commencement of this Act, under the authority of the States Grants (Capital Assistance) Act (No. 3) 1972, which may have been used to finance grants made in the first six months of 1973-74.
These capital grants, by replacing what would otherwise be loan funds, relieve the States of interest and sinking fund charges which they would otherwise have to meet from their revenue budgets, and thus free funds for expenditure in other directions. The savings in debt charges arising from the capital grants are estimated to have totalled $36.4m by the end of 1972-73, and to amount to a further $38.4m in 1973-74. They are thus providing considerable relief to the States’ revenue budgets. I commend the Bill to the Senate.
Debate (on motion by Senator Withers) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 27 September (vide page 1019), on motion by Senator Murphy:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Motion (by Senator Withers) put:
That the debate be now adjourned.
The Senate divided. (The Deputy President- Senator Prowse)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
– I move:
I do not anticipate that it will be dealt with in a formal fashion, but may I indicate my reasons for moving this motion? The Senate is dealing with a most important piece of legislation- the Trade Practices Bill- which incorporates provisions intended to prevent the operation of those restrictive practices which have been operating in the community for many decades and which it is generally agreed should be curbed as far as it is within the power of the Parliament to curb them. There is no doubt about the necessity to introduce provisions to deal with restrictive practices.
I do not want to go into all the details of the Bill. I simply indicate shortly that the Bill deals in a comprehensive way with those practices which have been injuring the community and which have led to private price fixing, to contracts, combinations and conspiracies in restraint of trade, to monopolisation, exclusive dealing, price discrimination, anti-competitive mergers and conduct which is recognised all round the world as being against the proper operation of the economy. These practices were dealt with by Sir Garfield Barwick when he was AttorneyGeneral. He is now Chief Justice of the High Court.
– I rise to order, Mr Deputy President. A vote has just been carried to postpone debate on this Bill and the Minister is debating the Bill.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Prowse)- The point of order is sustained to the extent that Senator Murphy may not debate the substance of the Bill. He can indicate the reason why he wants the resumption of the debate brought on at some particular time.
– Yes. I was proposing to do that. The reason why this Bill should be dealt with is that the Bill is necessary. There is an evil, in the old sense, which the law ought to remedy. That evil is the operation of widespread restrictive practices in this community. I do not think there is any doubt about that. The reports of the Commissioner for Trade Practices illustrate that those practices exist and are widespread. Thousands of such agreements and arrangements and widespread practices are operating which are exacerbating the inflation in the community and leading to inefficiency. This has been going on and it ought to be stopped.
There is no doubt that it is necessary to deal with those practices. There is no doubt also that the present laws are ineffective. The present laws are simply not good enough. This was conceded last year when the previous Government said that it wanted to bring in proposals and indicated the substance of those proposals. One can go through the speeches and see it was made apparent that the laws were unworkable. Does anyone doubt that laws to deal with restrictive practices should be introduced as speedily as possible? That is the reason why this Bill ought to be dealt with without delay. There is no doubt about this. On 24 May 1972 the then Attorney-General said:
The greatest menace confronting the Australian economy today is inflation.
He went on to deal with the necessity for altering the trade practices laws. The Bill deals not only with that menace, but also with measures to protect the consumers in this community.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- Order ! Senator Murphy, I think that you are transgressing my ruling in extending the reasons to sound very suspiciously like a second reading speech. I trust that you will try to confine your remarks to the matter before the Chair.
-Mr Deputy President, I will endeavour to observe your ruling. My understanding always has been that one is entitled to show the reason why a measure should be proceeded with now rather than later. I was merely proposing to deal shortly with the provisions of the Bill which it is proposed to defer, in order to show why the Bill should be proceeded with now. That is the way in which I intended to proceed, and I understand that it was in conformity with your ruling. There are operating in this community a number of practices over and above what are called restrictive trade practices, which are to the detriment of the consumer, and they ought to be dealt with by laws as soon as possible. There ought to be operating throughout Australia laws against fraud, deception and the abrogation of the rights of consumers. There is a necessity to stop misleading or deceptive conduct in commerce, false representation, the deceptive offering of prizes in connection with promotion of goods and services, and misleading conduct to which the Industrial Property Convention and the International Convention apply. There is a necessity to stop bait advertising, referral selling, accepting of payment without intending to supply an order. There is a necessity to stop misleading statements about home operated business; to stop coercion at the place of residence; to stop pyramid selling; to stop supplying products that do not comply with safety standards; to stop supplying products without disclosing information required by product information standards; and to stop what is called inertia selling. In all these respects and others there is a necessity for protection of the consumers.
These matters have been discussed over Australia and in other parts of the world I suppose for so long that it is obvious not only to those in business and to the legislator but also to the ordinary householder and his wife and every consumer that there ought to be laws against these practices. The people of this community are begging for laws against them and for proper administration in order to protect them from what they know and everybody knows is wrong. This matter has been debated over and over throughout the nation. I suppose that on no subject is there more clarity than on the realisation that what we really need is the laws and the administration of those laws. These laws have been drawn up after lengthy discussions and the examination of advice from elsewhere. But now it is proposed to stall and delay this Bill. Why is this happening? Who is going to profit from it? Those who will profit will be the people who support the Opposition- those who are carrying on these practices; those who are injuring the consumer. Every day that the passage of this Bill is delayed means more profit to those who are engaging in restrictive practices and rackets. It is clear from where the pressure has come and it is clear that that is the reason why the Opposition has wilted and agreed to the pressure to delay these laws for as long as they can delay them because I do not think there is any doubt that ultimately laws such as these are going to be passed by the Parliament as a result of the public demanding the passage of such laws.
It is suggested that maybe there is no reason to protect the consumer and no reason to stop such practices. Let me read to honourable senators the view of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, which is a body the previous Government joined. In December 1971 this body made a number of recommendations to the governments of member countries. It stated: that they should properly take steps, within the framework of their existing legislation (i) to apply their restrictive business practices legislation with great vigilance against the detrimental effects especially (a) of price-fixing and market-sharing agreements, (b) of monopolistic and oligopolistic practices affecting prices, and (c) of restrictive business practices in the field of patents and patent licensing;
The report went on to deal with the strengthening of consumer policies. It stated: that they should examine the advisability of adopting longerterm measures, which may require new legislation: (i) stronger action by means of prohibition or control- against resale price maintenance, recommended prices when they operate with similar effect to resale price maintenance, and refusal to sell . . .
It also recommended:
The organisation recommended also that bodies should promptly consider urgent steps for the extension of their legislation to cover restrictive business practices and service industries or in those sectors to which it does not apply or does not fully apply. I will not read all of the details. But here we have an organisation to which we belong saying in December 1971 that this ought to be done urgently. Discussion has taken place on this matter in this nation. The people were told before the last election what the policy of the Australian Labor Party was. Here we have a proposal which intends to implement what was put to the people. This legislation was introduced into the Senate on 27 September and has been circulated all over the country. Many of the people who have been circulated have spoken to officers of my Department who have answered any questions asked. But also there are those great monopolies and those bodies engaging in these restrictive practices who have batteries of lawyers and accountants who know -
– That is guilt by association.
-They know full well what the implications of these provisions are. They are not in doubt about them. The provisions in the legislation are intended to put an end to the restrictive practices and they are intended to protect the consumers.
What do we find here. I think it was only about a week ago that I indicated to the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate, who now interrupts -
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Prowse)- Order! In answer to a point of order raised some time ago I indicated that you, Senator Murphy, should not debate the Bill. What you have been doing, of course, puts me in a position of being unable to refuse to the Opposition the same sort of privilege that you have now exercised. I cannot allow you to continue further in what is virtually a debate. The Senate has decided in its wisdom that the debate should be adjourned. The motion before the chair is that the debate should be made an order of the day for the next day of sitting. You, Sir, are able to introduce the matter on the next day of sitting. I feel that the forms of the Senate will not be sustained if I allow this debate to continue on these lines.
-Mr Deputy President, if you are assuring me that the matter will be dealt with on the next day of sitting I will promptly resume my seat. There is no difficulty about that. I would be pleased to know that you, Mr Deputy President, are of the view that it should be resumed on the next day of sitting. I will be pleased to see you vote that way. I am not so sure of the views of honourable senators opposite me. I would like to convince them also that the debate should be resumed on the next day of sitting or that it should be resumed within a reasonable time. All I am asking is that at least this debate ought to be able to be concluded in this period of sittings. If I can be assured that this debate will be concluded within this period of sittings- I mean by that within a reasonable time for it to go to the House of Representatives, not in the dying hours of this session but within the next month -I would not press for it to go on tomorrow. But what I am fearful of is that there has been pressure put upon the Opposition and that an attempt will be made, because it has been talked about, to defer this legislation for as long as possible, and that some attempt will be made to put it over till next year without the Senate properly considering the Bill, and taking it through the Committee and third reading stages and letting it go to the other House.
If a suggestion is made, as was made across the table to me some little time ago, I am prepared to agree to any reasonable adjournment of the proceedings and not to press the motion. But it will be different if an endeavour is made to stall and delay so that these practices which are against the interests of the community can be committed day after day with impunity, when it is recognised that for the most part the existing legislation is just useless. The Commissioner has come in and said it. He has before him evidence of thousands of practices which are operating against the interests of the community and the legislation is such that they cannot be effectively stopped. Is that what the Opposition is going to vote for, so that these practices can go on? If this Bill passes the second reading stage and then goes to the Committee stage, if the Opposition is dissatisfied with any of the provisions it can seek to amend them then. But is the Opposition simply going to stall this Bill and not even say, Let us deal with the Bill and achieve the kind of Bill that we want to go to the House of Representatives’? That is what will happen if the Bill proceeds. But if the Opposition votes to delay this Bill by some amendment and to put it over until the next year, that means it is deliberately saying ‘We are not prepared to consider any amendment of the existing legislation which we know to be unworkable and we are prepared, for whatever motive, to allow those practices to go on and to leave the consumer unprotected.
I suggest in all reasonableness to the Senate that it should not delay the Bill and that if an adjournment for a fortnight is needed, or for, say, 3 weeks or even a month, as long as the understanding is that it will be dealt with I will agree to it. But if the intention is simply to stall and to put it off as long as possible- if that is the determination of those opposite- I will indicate to the Opposition that the Bill will be introduced in the House of Representatives and proceeded with in the House of Representatives and will then come here. If it is again treated in that manner, that would be regarded under the Constitution as failing to pass the Bill. I am indicating to the Senate that if the endeavour is made to stall this Bill the Government will take the steps which are open to it to introduce the measure in the House of Representatives. It will also probably have the consequence that if the major legislation of this Government is to be treated this way- if major legislation is brought into the Senate rather than into the House of Representatives and if it is to be treated in the way which means that it will not even be dealt with in the current sittings of this Senate there would be little purpose in bringing major legislation into the Senate. I ask that the Senate agree to the motion.
– I move:
I agree with Senator Murphy that this is a most important piece of legislation. I agree with Senator Murphy that there is no doubt about the necessity for legislation to deal, and to deal effectively, with restrictive trade practices. There is no doubt about the need for effective legislation to deal with the type of unfair practices which he has listed in this Bill under the heading Consumer Protection’. There is no question that restrictive trade practices legislation can contribute to lessening the inflationary pressures, but we are not persuaded at this time that this Bill serves the purposes which Senator Murphy has claimed it will serve. Because this is important legislation we want proper time to be given for consideration of its provisions. It should be appreciated that this legislation is not a 1973 version of trade practices legislation introduced in 1 965. This is a completely new piece of legislation and there would not be a company engaged in trading and finance in this country which supposes that it can proceed with its pre-existing activities without taking advice as to whether one or more of the provisions of this legislation affect it in some way. It is an enormously significant piece of legislation with ramifications and application touching, as I said, every company engaged in business in this country.
If in a country town a grocer or a butcher has formed himself into a company and is in competition with some person who trades as an ordinary trader, that company must look at this measure because there are many things such as the ordinary lowering of its prices which may be an offence under this legislation. These are the things which require scrutiny by all persons who are interested. Far more people, I believe, must be informed about what is involved in this legislation so that they can have an “opportunity of putting forward their views and so that we in the Parliament can have an opportunity of properly debating this measure. It is an important Bill but it is a Bill which the Government is trying to impose upon this community without proper debate and without giving adequate opportunity for consideration of it. It is in so many ways typical of the arrogance of the Government because Senator Murphy conveys the impression that he knows, and the Government knows- and only he and the Government know- what is best for the community in this area.
There is no question whatever that the real problem in dealing with restrictive trade practices, anti-social measures of this character, is to distinguish between those which are consonant with the public interest and those which are against the public interest. The whole impact of trade practices legislation in this country has been that you investigate the ways by which to determine what is and what is not against the public interest. That is not provided in this legislation. There are broadly stated prohibitions that you shall not enter into a contract, you shall not enter into a combination or conspiracy in restraint of trade. Who knows precisely what that means? You are not allowed to engage in price discrimination. Who can tell precisely what that means? There is a host of other provisions which, because they are couched in broad language, may operate to defeat the purposes of this legislation instead of serving those broad objectives in which, I am sure, the Attorney-General and I have a common belief.
I can only stress that in the climate of the community at this time where hostility exists between business and Government- an apprehension on the part of business as to how it will be affected by government action- it is tremendously important that the Government does not take steps which are likely to have such drastic consequences that they further weaken or destroy the confidence which is so important for the ensuring of production and the maintenance of employment in the community. I have the fear that unless the community does have an opportunity properly to consider this Bill it will have devastating effects if it is carried into law and people will have to accept legislation which is completely new to them and alien to all that they have experienced in the field of trade practices legislation.
Senator Murphy has, I believe, in a sense prejudged all opposition to this measure. He has prejudged as stalling all submissions which organisations are seeking to put forward with regard to the measure. I have in front of me the Hansard reports which show that I asked questions of the Attorney-General as to what he proposed to do to allow debate on this legislation. Of course, he introduced the legislation in the dying hours of 27 September. We then adjourned for a week and came back on 9 October when I asked him whether he had become aware of the growing apprehension among persons affected by the Government’s projected trade practices legislation as its provisions became widely known; and I asked for an indication of what he proposed to do. He said that he did not know of any apprehension. He understood that the Bill had been well received. He stated:
The feedback, as it is called, has been distinctly favourable.
I do not know whether he is still of the same mind. But if what I am receiving by way of mail and submissions is any indication there is a distinctly unfavourable reaction to the legislation. Above all there is a plea for time to enable it to be considered. The following week, on 17 October, I again asked him whether he would be prepared to stand this matter over for time to allow it to be examined by those who were affected. Senator Murphy’s immediate response was:
We see the commencement of the great stall from the Deputy Leader of the Opposition.
Then he proceeded to state:
It is just nonsense to suggest that in some way there should be some great stalling by some repetition of what occurred during the 1960s . . .
He also stated:
Those in industry and commerce who would be affected have great and powerful organisations with lawyers and others who are sufficiently capable and well versed in the principles of trade practices to understand well the implications of the Bill.
No doubt there are large organisations but the position is not as easy as Senator Murphy suggests. He took 10 months to prepare this legislation. Incidentally, he relied upon American precedents and practice with which lawyers in this country are certainly not well versed. He brought out experts from the United States to assist him. The whole pattern of trade practices legislation in this country has been based more upon the English pattern than upon the United States pattern. Of course lawyers in Australia have a passing familiarity with the English provisions. Certainly they have knowledge of how the Australian provisions have worked. Because of the difficulties experienced by Senator Murphy in getting the legislation out over a period of 10 months, he is not doing his own knowledge and appreciation of the situation any credit by simply saying that people can deal with it in a matter of 2 or 3 weeks. They cannot because the ramifications of it are so extensive. So the attitude of Senator Murphy persisted when I asked him a further question on a subsequent day. In the course of his reply he said several things which suggested that persons would not be adversely affected. For example he said that people ought to know what he had said on numerous occasions over the years as to the legislation and that it was simply a fulfilment of the policy of the Australian Labor Party.
I have looked at the various documents of the Australian Labor Party and they are singularly unrewarding in terms of the information which they give. One goes to the platform of the Australian Labor Party and all one finds is a promise to legislate against monopolies and to strengthen existing trade practices legislation. This legislation is not a strengthening of the existing legislation. lt is an abandonment of the existing legislation and the introduction of something which is completely new. If something is completely new and has such fundamental changes, then the Parliament ought to be given sufficient time to consider its provisions. That is a point of view upon which Senator Murphy is himself on the record on numerous occasions when he was in Opposition. Let us look at what the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) said in the course of his policy speech. He was no more informative than is the platform of the Australian Labor Party. All the Prime Minister said on this issue was:
We will strengthen the laws against restrictive trade practices.
There is no indication in that statement that there would be something new and fundamentally different as has appeared. When one goes to the Speech made by the Governor-General in this place at the commencement of this session -
– I think the honourable senator is misleading the Senate on this. There was more said about it.
– I am reading from the actual documents. I read from the GovernorGeneral’s Speech. When he announced the Government’s legislative program at the beginning of this year he referred to prices justification machinery and finished by stating:
That, may I say, is the basic information which the community at large has- that is, those affected because they are producers and those affected because they just fall within the range of the provisions of the legislation- as to what the Government proposes to do. It was suggested also by Senator Murphy in the course of his responses that a period of some 4 months was provided in the legislation during which people could apply for authorisations. If they applied for authorisations that would give them time to adjust to the new provisions. The authorisation provisions of the Bill are simply procedures whereby one may go to the Trade Practices Tribunal and obtain what is virtually an exemption for an authorisation to engage in the type of practice which otherwise would be proscribed and the engaging in that practice would be lawful. It is an exemption, but it is a tremendously limited exemption. For example it is an exemption which does not apply to monopolisation, to resale price maintenance, to price discrimination, to this totally new area of consumer protection or to any contracts or combinations having- and these words are so tremendously significant- the purpose or the effect of fixing, controlling or maintaining prices. Therefore the suggestion that in some way this ability to apply for authorisations will obviate the harshness of some of the provisions and ease the way for other persons, lacks the credibility which is offered for it. It does not have the general application which is said to exist. There are other parts of the legislation relating to this authorisation application upon which people are seeking some clarification. The Attorney-General, in his second reading speech, said: ‘Well, people may apply for authorisations and the Commission ‘-I think I said before that it was the Tribunal which looks at these matters. I think it is the Commission.
– There is an appeal to the Tribunal.
– I thank the AttorneyGeneral. He said that people may apply for authorisations and the Commission may grant an interim authorisation; but the AttorneyGeneral says that it will not be granted as of course. One has to show something. When one looks at the legislation it is difficult to see the grounds upon which one will obtain an interim authorisation. It is suggested, possibly that if you apply early you will get it but if you apply late you will not. All that the legislation says is that the Commission may do it where it is appropriate. When I visualise the thousands of agreements- Senator Murphy himself used this expression- which could well come within the purview of this legislation I wonder how justice can be done to persons affected in the time which is allowed.
– What about the persons who are being hurt by them?
– I agree that there are persons being hurt by them but the difficulty is to specify and identify the hurt. At the present time we have legislation. While it is not the sort of legislation which we in Opposition believe we would like to have- and last year we indicated our attitudes on that- still it is legislation which is capable of operating and it is not right to convey the impression that there is no legislation which is currently operating.
– The honourable senator conceded that there were thousands of agreements which were probably in breach of the Act and yet they could not be got to under the provisions that were in his laws.
– I think that Senator Murphy paraphrases and paraphrases misleadingly what was said last year.
– I raise a point of order. I have been waiting for Senator Webster to get up and raise a point of order but he has not so I have to do it. This is certainly debating the Bill. In the last interchange between the two honourable senators not one word was spoken about the postponement of the Bill.
– Order ! There is no substance in the point of order for the simple reason that Senator Greenwood has moved an amendment that the Bill be made an order of the day for the first day of sitting in 1974. He is adducing the reasons why the Bill should be postponed.
-There are at the present time on the register of the Commissioner of Trade Practices some 12,000 to 13,000 agreements. I think it is commonly acknowledged that of those agreements some 2,000 to 3,000 are of a particular character. They were the subject matter of the strengthening legislation which the previous Government introduced last year and which has been abandoned by the present Government. Of course, if there were an element of genuineness in what Senator Murphy said about the need to have immediate action, he could have adopted that legislation right at the commencement of this year because it had been prepared.
But there are these agreements. Of course, they would come within the purview of this new legislation. So would thousands of other agreements and practices which are not comprehended by the present legislation. How the Commission is to be expected to deal with all those matters in 4 months defies my understanding and raises enormous doubts in the minds of those persons who are affected by the legislation and who will have to conduct their businesses having regard to those provisions. They will need to have regard to the provisions which state that if a person is in breach of them he will be liable to incur a fine of up to $250,000. On the introduction of legislation of that character, with a penalty of that size, imposable not by the standard applied when a person is charged with a parking offence but that which is applied on the standard of the ordinary balance of probabilities in relation to civil offences, there is no doubt that people want to put their submissions in to the Attorney-General. I believe that he has an obligation to give people time to do so and to give consideration to such submissions when they are raised.
There are so many matters which one could instance as to why people need the time and as to why the Parliament should be given the opportunity to consider the implications of the provisions of the Bill. For example, there exists in each of the States legislation of 80 to 90 years antiquity which is called the Sale of Goods Act or the Goods Act. Those pieces of legislation contain provisions under which a body of law has been built up. Under this legislation which Senator Murphy is proposing there are similar but different proposals which are introduced as Commonwealth law and which apply only to companies. Problems arise when dealing with companies, partnerships or individuals. One may believe that there is a common code which applies, but will find to his injury or disadvantage that that it is not the case. It is so capable of being a source of conflict, doubt and problems that I do not believe that Senator Murphy has really considered what must be the impact upon the business community at large, the community which wants to take advantage of making submissions about the provisions in his legislation when they see the difficulties which the legislation is creating.
There is another area of doubt. Under the existing legislation the co-operation of business was sought by inducing companies to hand over to the Commissioner of Trade Practices agreements into which they had entered on the basis that if the agreements were with the Commissioner they would be kept secret. They would become a matter of public knowledge only if the parties to the agreement were challenged by the Commissioner as being agreements which were against the public interest. Then, the parties to such an agreement would have the option of deciding whether they wanted to challenge the Commissioner’s opinion, and therefore their agreements would become open or, of desisting in the practice, the public interest being served in that way. But under this legislation, it apf irs that all those agreements will be able to be used as the basis for these quasi-criminal prosecutions which the legislation envisages. I imagine that many people would want to protest to see whether that could not be changed. These are areas in which the legislation is important and to which time for consideration ought to be given.
Senator Murphy does not do credit to his objectives in this area or to his legislation, nor does he do credit to the Opposition, when he states that the only thing we have to be concerned about is protecting the community. We are all concerned about ensuring that the community is advantaged by the legislation which we pass and that where there is evil and mischief we can legislate effectively against it. But we must recognise that in this area we are an interdependent community. Consumers will not be advantaged if producers take fright at legislation and effectively withdraw from that area of competition, production and innovation which is so vital for our type of ongoing society. These are risks which we must recognise are inherent in the present legislation. It has been a fact of life in regard to trade practices legislation which I think the community has come to recognise that, if significant changes are advanced in legislation, time will be provided for those affected in the community to examine the changes. That has been the practice which has existed over the past 10 years.
I remind the Senate that the first positive statement on trade practices was made by Sir Garfield Barwick on 30 November 1962. New comprehensive legislation which is still the basis of our legislation today was introduced on 19
May 1965. The government of the day said that time would be allowed for persons to digest the legislation, for submissions to be made and for members of Parliament to examine its provisions. The debate on the legislation was not resumed until 24 November of the same year. In 1972 the then government gave a clear indication that it was proposing changes to the legislation. A comprehensive statement of intention was made to the Parliament on 24 May. An opportunity was provided for persons to look at the changes and to make their submissions. Legislation to give effect to that intention, after consideration of submissions received and the further reflection which time had permitted, was introduced into the Parliament last October. The intention was not to enact the Bill into law by racing it through the Parliament but to give people an opportunity to consider it.
I have heard so often that it is a tragedy when Parliament abuses itself when legislation is introduced one week and pushed through in double quick time simply because the Government has the numbers in order to have it passed. The practice has been criticised by persons who have some feel and appreciation of the parliamentary process and by those who believe that there should be opportunity for legislation to be considered and to be justified if it is to be good legislation and effective in its objectives. We have heard about white papers, green papers and all the other paraphernalia which ought to give background to legislation when it is introduced. But we have not heard a word about such papers from the present Government with regard to the present legislation. The host of provisions which are styled ‘consumer protection provisions’ are not justified by any words of explanation. There has been no documentation to indicate what type of offences or activities have been engaged in. These are things that we would expect to see. No wonder persons are concerned because of the impact which the legislation will have upon them. I believe that it is regrettable that Senator Murphy should have chosen the introduction of this Bill as the occasion upon which he would simply try to steamroller something through the Parliament without giving adequate time for debate.
In conclusion, I say that we recognise this measure will stand over for 2 months of parliamentary sitting time and for an effective 4 months in all, on the assumption that Parliament meets some time next February. But I want to say quite positively that the Opposition is as committed to effective trade practices legislation as is this Government. However, we believe that trade practices legislation must be introduced which acknowledges that there are some practices which, generally speaking, are against the public interest but which may in particular circumstances be consistent with the public interest. We also believe that there should be a wider range in the types of activities covered by trade practices than I believe is covered by Senator Murphy’s legislation. This is all for the future. The Opposition’s action does not represent a rejection of this Bill. It is simply a deferring of consideration of the Bill so that it can be debated in the light of greater knowledge in February of next year. All I hope is that the Attorney-General will use the time to acknowledge the submissions which will be made and to consider them because we have a common objective, namely, to make effective legislation work.
– I call Senator Brown.
-Mr President, I notice that Senator Byrne has risen also.
– I call honourable senators as I see them. I have no list of speakers. If Senator Brown is prepared to yield to Senator Byrne that is a matter for him.
-I will yield to Senator Byrne.
– The comity of the Senate generally allows these things. I call Senator Byrne.
-Mr President, I appreciate Senator Brown ‘s gesture. Perhaps it was appropriate. Points of view have been placed by the mover of the amendment on behalf of the Opposition and by Senator Murphy on behalf of the Government. In relation to the determination of this matter, I speak for the other Party which has a significant position in the Senate. I am indebted to Senator Brown. I think he is assisting the Senate in ceding to me as he did. I express my appreciation. It appears to me that this debate seems to emerge as a clash between what are considered to be the obligations, duties and responsibilities of the various parties in this chamber. The Government has introduced a Bill. I shall comment only briefly upon the substance of the Bill. The Government considers that it has a right and a duty to present this Bill which, if passed by the Senate, will be presented in another place. The Government also considers that it has a right to ensure the passage through this chamber of the Bill as speedily as possible, for purposes which it considers good and sufficient. On the other hand, the
Opposition considers that the Bill is of such moment and of such tremendous import that it has a similiar right and duty to ensure that the Bill receives the maximum investigation and the maximum scrutiny. That view is shared by the Democratic Labor Party. The Opposition considers that the Bill is so fundamental in its character it should become law only after a complete examination by the upper chamber of the Parliament, in which it has been introduced. They are the 2 positions which are taken in this chamber today by the contending parties to the Bill.
It is now common knowledge that never has a Parliament in Australia been faced, in such a short time, with such an overwhelming mass of legislation which trespasses into almost every field of Australian life. I shall not refer to particular Bills. When one looks at the areas in which this Government, by legislation, is having some impact, it is revealing to find how fundamental the alterations must be in the structure of society which are being effected by these legislative processes. For example, important legislation has been introduced in the field of divorce and law reform generally- matters requiring detailed and technical scrutiny. Legislation of a major character involving virtually a complete economic reorientation of Australian life has been introduced. A major Bill has been presented in relation to industrial relations. Amendments have been sought to the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. Great matters in relation to social welfare have also been coming before this Parliament. Legislation is projected, or is now being canvassed, relating to the control, ownership and direction of our national resources. None of these measures could be considered of a minor character. All are of a major character. All are fundamental. All have been brought forward in a very short period. It is the boast of the Government, in its enthusiasm, that it has done more in so many months than other governments did in an equal number of years. I cannot find it in my heart to blame the Government for that boast.
I can recall that in the first 2 months of administration of the present Government, when Mr Whitlam and Mr Barnard were the only members of the Executive Council and therefore occupied all the ministries, many major matters of an administrative and even a quasi-legislative character were effected- 14, 1 think, in numberof great consequence to the nation. That set the tempo of the approach of the Government. But it is a matter of very great question whether the enthusiasm, even the excitement and, if I may use the term, the hysteria of the Government should be matched by a failure on the part of the Senate to give the necessary scrutiny to this mass of legislation which is coming forward. Therefore, I make no apologies. There comes a time when the Senate owes a duty to the nation to ensure that the nation’s interests will be preserved and protected in these matters which are now of such fundamental consequence. This Bill is a Bill of that character. Two major Bills are already on the Senate notice paper. It is worth while referring to 3 or 4 Bills which we already have to consider. I refer to the Trade Practices Bill and the Seas and Submerged Lands Bill. The second Bill is of great constitutional significance and consequence. It will have to receive the technical attention of those senators who are qualified to deal with it, quite apart from other considerations.
Sitting suspended from 6 to 8 p.m.
– Before the suspension of the sitting I had spoken for some short time on the amendment moved by Senator Greenwood to the motion proposed by Senator Murphy that the resumption of the debate on the second reading of the Trade Practices Bill be made an order of the day for the next day of sitting, Senator Greenwood having moved that the resumption of the debate be made an order of the day for the first sitting day in the year 1974. I indicated on behalf of the Democratic Labor Party that we were supporting that amendment moved by Senator Greenwood, and I indicated at that point many of the reasons which persuade us to the course of action which I have announced on behalf of the Party. I was reciting the very heavy legislative program which has been presented by the Government and still faces consideration by this chamber.
If we look at the notice paper we find that there are 43 Bills awaiting consideration, and when we look at the content of many of those Bills we find that they are of great importance and of fundamental significance. They are Bills which in many cases affect the whole structure of some area of Australian life, whether it be our social life, our economic life, or perhaps our whole legal system. If it is the function of the Senate to consider matters such as these and if these Bills are of this tremendous importance the Senate must be given adequate time to consider them without being subject to the charge, merely by asking for such time, that we are unduly delaying or in some way frustrating the will or the intentions of the Government. The legislative program of the Government is of such a magnitude that perhaps it has not been equalled. I do not go into the merits or demerits of that program at this time. I merely point out that the Government has announced the creation of a very great number of boards, advisory committees, research groups, and the appointment of individual advisers -
– Task forces.
-Yes. They have assisted the Ministers of various departments, the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) and the Government in bringing forward ideas- some sort of think tanks- which constitute the basis in many cases of the legislative program. I do not at this stage criticise the Government for that. I think that the proliferation of these bodies may be undue but, nevertheless, the end result is that the Government has now formulated an intense legislative program which is being channelled through to this chamber. There has been no increase in the number of senators in this chamber. With the additional duties imposed on us in other directions, to which I will refer, the proper consideration of this very heavy legislative program becomes a practical parliamentary impossibility. I suggest that the Senate would be failing in its duty and would be recreant to the very purpose for which it was created if it attempted with undue haste to handle vital elements of this legislative program without proper consideration, proper assessment and proper scrutiny. That is the basis of the attitude which is taken by the Democratic Labor Party and by the official Opposition in relation to the Trade Practices Bill.
The Democratic Labor Party, of course, sees a need for the introduction of legislation in the field of trade practices, in the field of unfair commercial dealings, in the field of mergers and in relation to all of those matters which are covered by the provisions of the Bill now before the chamber. I do not deny that there is great virtue in the Bill, but that is not sufficient reason to justify the passage of the Bill through this chamber with the haste with which it is proposed. We say that this Bill is of such importance and of such significance that it must not only be canvassed by this chamber with due regard for its consequences and its implications but also it must be given the opportunity of the closest analysis by those in the community who will be affected by it- the commercial interests, the consumers and those who theoretically would examine the consequences of a matter of this kind in the field of comparative economic and social legislationwith a view to pointing out as advisers to the Government and to members of Parliament generally what are the possible consequences of this very great intrusion into the ordinary processes, both commercial and otherwise, in Australian life.
Let us have no doubt that the intrusion of legislation of this character will constitute a major intrusion into the processes of law and of commercial operation. Without going into the details of the Bill, which would be beyond my competence in the course of this debate, the Bill does impinge upon the processes of contract law, it impinges on the processes of commercial dealings in a major way, and it impinges on the processes and operation of the common law, although only in a circumscribed field of the total implications of the measure. Just how vast the ultimate implications may be, just what consequences it may have in other areas of life which I have not canvassed in that very short recitation, nobody can guess. This chamber should not pass legislation of this significance on some sort of informed or uninformed guess.
– On the face of it, it seems to have tremendously wide ramifications.
– Yes, of course. Senator Greenwood uses the expression ‘on the face of it’ and that is as high as we can put it at this stage, because of the limited scrutiny we have been able to give this legislation at this stage. On the face of it, the legislation has tremendous consequences, tremendous implications. I think it is owing to the community at large and to those who will be affected by it commercially that those consequences at least should be before this chamber and before this Parliament when this Bill is finally passed. It is owing to those whom this legislation purports to protect- the consumersthat their welfare is looked after and that the consequences of this legislation to them should be before this chamber when the Bill finally finds its passage through the Parliament of Australia. Therefore if we have sought to delay for some months this measure which we are discussing it is because it is the type of measure, perhaps above all measures which have been introduced in the Senate in recent times, which would attract such an attitude as has now been stated by the Democratic Labor Party.
I think some point should be made in relation to the function of the Senate. Under the Constitution the Senate has a particular function. Although it may have been constituted as a States House, it has assumed a most important role as the House of review. That the Senate is conscious of that responsibility is exemplified by the emergence of a series of Senate committees of various characters over the past few years. I refer to standing committees, select committees and estimates committees. The work burden that now rests on the Senate, at its own will and by its own creation, is enormous. But it is now a particular function of the Senate that the closest scrutiny be given to all operations within the public administration, so far as it is within the competence of this chamber. The Senate’s function is not merely willy nilly and without proper scrutiny and observation to ratify the legislative program of the Government no matter who may be in government.
I speak for a Party that was not identified with the previous Government and is not identified with this Government. If one looks at our voting record one sees that on many occasions we supported propositions and legislation put forward by the previous Government. We have in this session supported propositions and legislation put forward by the present Government. That is the function of our Party in this chamber. We have always considered that our prime duty and responsibility was adequately to scrutinise legislation and administrative acts and, having done that, then to vote accordingly and to express what we think is the will of the Australian people in our vote in the Senate. But, as I say, our Party also has a positive contribution to make, as have all honourable senators and all parties in this chamber, not merely to ratify, or reject for that matter, the legislation of the Government, but by its own motions and by its own private Bills to present its own program and its suggestions as to the things of value that should be considered and should be carried into operation in the community.
For example, today Senator Wright introduced a matter of urgency which enabled discussion of an industrial situation that has developed in Tasmania. That discussion took some hours but it was a contribution by the Opposition- it did not emanate from the Government-to draw attention to a matter of great consequence. Today on behalf of Senator Little of the Democratic Labor Party I gave notice of a motion to introduce a Bill to amend the National Health Act. In other words, the contribution which the Opposition Parties make in this chamber is not merely to consider Government legislation. We have other duties; we have other responsibilities; we have other contributions to make. Therefore, when a matter of such great importance as this Bill comes before the chamber we are entitled to say that it is of such consequence that, in view of our other duties, we require proper time to consider it, and I think the Australian public would agree. As this Bill will affect so many areas of Australian life it is important that its full implications be studied at this stage.
– It has been going on for 5 years and you know it.
-The Democratic Labor Party was not identified with the previous Government and it is not identified with this Government. It is no argument, Senator Poyser, that the matter has been going on for years and that nothing adequate has been done about it, if that statement is correct. I do not challenge it, nor do I contradict it or accept it. It is not our responsibility because it was not at our instance that legislation was delayed or not presented. The mere fact that a previous government may have been in default of its responsibility- I do not say that it was- is no entitlement to this chamber to rectify the matter by precipitate consideration of legislation of such vast consequences, even if that was the situation. We feel that this Bill is of immense consequence to the community. We feel that we have an obligation to have canvassed not only public opinion but also public commercial opinion, public industrial opinion, public economic opinion, academic opinion and the opinions of those who would wish in some way to make their contribution to establishing a position which would enable the most probably effective legislation to be introduced.
We say that it would be impossible to achieve that purpose within the time at our disposal if this Bill were to be considered according to the time schedule of the Government. Therefore, we support the motion for the consideration of this matter on a day early in the session in the first part of next year. In that time everybody will have an opportunity to consider this legislation adequately. Is this Bill introduced now purely as an anti-inflationary measure? The Government, of course, must accept a large measure of responsibility for the inflationary situation that has been allowed to get out of hand due to its failure to impose the necessary disciplines sufficiently quickly to avoid the necessity for the crisis legislation that has now to be introduced. This Bill goes far beyond the mere handling of the present inflation. It deals with such important and significant matters as mergers, monopolisation, exclusive dealing, resale price maintenance and price discrimination. All those are matters of very grave consequence. For example, the matter of mergers is one which touches the whole corporation structure and the whole ebb and flow of the operations of public companies in Australia. Surely that is of tremendous consequence. Surely those matters must be considered. Therefore we say that we expect that the Government would concede the wisdom of our position.
If the Government is earnest, as I think it is, about the necessity for this Bill and rethinks the matter it will realise that if a Bill which has consequences of this kind is to be introduced and is to be viable and effective when it becomes law, there must be time to give it proper and total scrutiny. We have seen statutes enacted over the years, particularly Income Tax Acts, which are challenged from time to time. All sorts of manoeuvres become apparent and can be taken advantage of to bypass the legislation. There is little doubt that if this Bill goes through and becomes law there will be an attempt to bypass it by some techniques of avoidance. We must try to avoid that situation arising. I am sure that some honourable senators on the Government side would not wish that to be the position. One cannot bring down legislation and avoid that type of situation if it is put through without proper care, scrutiny and consideration. The Senate can only do its best. We can try to equate the performance here with the performance of the House of Representatives. Though we have half the number of members we can do our best. But we would be failing in our duty if on a matter of this consequence we did not say: ‘Pause. Let us have a look at this and let the nation have a look at it too’.
– You have already had 5 years.
– We did not have 5 years. This is the Government’s Bill. Obviously Senator Poyser does not understand that this Bill incorporates principles which are in many ways totally divergent and contradictory of provisions in any other Bill. Some of them are new. It is a Bill which must be looked at in isolation and not in relation to a previous Bill which may be reenacted. This Bill represents a totally different concept in this field of maintenance and control of prices and trade practices. This is a completely different proposition from any other legislation. Therefore, if Senator Poyser thinks that this matter has been under scrutiny for 5 years he shows a total unawareness of the history of the matter and of the contents of this measure to which I am directing my remarks tonight. The Democratic Labor Party always tries to act with a degree of prudence, restraint and wisdom. I do not make that claim self-consciously or unctuously, but we have been known to ask the Senate to pause from time to time to consider an important matter. We do it again on this occasion.
We think that if the Government pauses and reconsiders this matter, and gives the opportunity for this Bill to be looked at with more care and in more detail and scrutinised by those in the community who will be affected by it, a much better Bill may well be presented in the early part of next year. This would be our hope. If the Government does not choose to do that I am sure that in the intervening few months the Democratic Labor Party and the official Oppositionthe Liberal Party and Country Party- will discover things in this Bill which should be altered, amended, abandoned or improved. There is little doubt about that. The people of Australia will be grateful to us for asking the Government to pause for a few months.
– And let the monopolists goon.
– That is the argument of emotion. It means, in other words, that the Government has allowed a certain crisis to develop and now asks to be extracted from that position by the precipitate consideration of legislation.
– You want to control the labour content but not profits.
– If Senator Mulvihill would apply his mind to this Bill and not to another Bill relating to a referendum I am sure that the debate would be much more relevant. The Democratic Labor Party appeals to the Government to see the wisdom of the suggested deferment of this legislation until early next year. I am sure that the Government, upon consideration, will realise the wisdom of this course. I am sure also that the commercial community and the consuming community of Australia will see the wisdom of the course and, when the Bill comes back for consideration, will see that the best course, as suggested by the Democratic Labor Party, the Liberal Party and the Country Party, is adopted. For those reasons the Democratic Labor Party supports the amendment moved by Senator Greenwood.
-I want to state quite emphatically at the outset that I am opposed to the motion that this debate on the second reading be adjourned and the adjourned debate made an order of the day for the next day of sitting. Likewise I oppose the amendment moved by Senator Greenwood which would effectively set this Bill aside for further consideration until 1974. Before I retail to the listening audience what has transpired in this debate I want to remind the Senate and the Australian community that in the policy speech of my leader preceding the election of the Labor Government on 2 December 1972 we gave a commitment in respect of prices in these terms:
We will establish a prices justification tribunal.
We will establish a parliamentary standing committee to review prices in key sectors.
We will strengthen the laws against restrictive trade practices.
Everyone in the Australian community, including even honourable senators opposite, recognise that at the moment Australia is experiencing galloping inflation. The recent quarterly consumer price index figures indicated a rise of 3.6 per cent over the figures for the previous 3 months. The figures for the 3 months prior to that revealed an increase of 3.3 per cent. This means that we are facing the possibility of an inflationary rate in Australia of between 14 per cent and 15 per cent a year.
One of the reasons why we on the G overnment side are anxious to have this legislation passed through all stages at the earliest opportunity is to allow the Government to have one other instrument, among many others in its armory, in an attempt to regulate inflation and to cause it to recede.
I want to retail briefly what has happened to date in connection with this debate. A motion was carried which meant that the second reading debate would be adjourned. My leader, the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Murphy), opposed that motion but it was carried. He then moved that the adjourned debate be made an order of the day for the next day of sitting. On the surface the motion for the debate to be adjourned appeared to be quite an innocent one. However we on the Government side had knowledge- I am not sure from what source it came- that there was a possibility of an amendment being moved which would have the effect of deferring consideration of this Bill until 1974.
– Someone had read the newspapers.
-I had not read that section. It is interesting to note that while the Leader of the Government was speaking Senator Webster interjected and said: ‘Yes, it ought to be adjourned until 1974.’ That happened notwithstanding that the Leader of the Government said that the Government was prepared to adjourn the debate for another month if the Opposition was prepared to go on with the debate and allow up to dispense with this Bill in the course of this Budget session. We must remember that this Bill was introduced into the Senate on Thursday, 27
September, and that tomorrow is 25 October. It will be one month tomorrow since this Bill was brought into the Senate. My leader, Senator Murphy, was prepared to give the Opposition another month, making the period 2 months in all. If Senator Greenwood reads Hansard tomorrow he will see that he said that he would give the Opposition 3 weeks to a month if it were prepared to agree that this Bill should be passed in the course of this Budget session. Notwithstanding that statement, Senator Greenwood rose in his place and moved an amendment which, if passed, will effectively set this important Bill aside until 1974. Senator Greenwood conceded in the course of his remarks that there was a need for laws to deal with the numerous manifest malpractices in both commerce and industry.
– That was not new, of course.
– I invite the honourable senator to read Hansard tomorrow. I made a note of what he said at the time. Your prime concern was what this law will mean to business and commerce. It was only after an interjection by my leader that you remembered that consumers were concerned also. We are concerned with consumers as well as commerce and industry. In my view you insulted not only the intelligence of honourable senators but the intelligence of the Australian community because the example you gave -
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Marriott)- Order! Would you please address the chair and not Senator Greenwood.
– I am replying to what he said in the course of the debate. I repeat, through you, Mr Acting Deputy President, that Senator Greenwood not only insulted the intelligence of honourable senators, he insulted the intelligence of the Australian community because as an argument why this Bill should not pass through all stages he referred to a little grocer in a country town who may decide to form a company. He was worried about what this Bill will mean to him. I credit you, Mr Acting Deputy President, with sufficient intelligence to know what that would not be the case at all. Senator Greenwood also expressed concern about the possible retroactive application of existing agreements. This Bill has to be passed through the second reading stage before it is dealt with in the Committee stage. We must remember that the combined Opposition parties represent the majority in this House. Honourable senators opposite would have ample opportunity to provide adequate protection. They would have ample opportunity to ensure that any retroactivity would not have a deleterious effect on such people. I believe that that was nothing more than a red herring.
One point interested me particularly. I think it is a question which should be posed. What reason has any commercial or business undertaking to fear this Bill if it conducts its business and commercial transactions in a legitimate way? In my view it has no need to fear; none at all. I say again that it is wrong for the Senate to frustrate the Government’s commitment to the people and to frustrate the will of the people, because it has a mandate.
Senator Greenwood said also that my leader, in the course of his remarks, was prejudging the issue. I recall that remark because I made a note of it. I see that Senator Greenwood acquiesces with my assessment of what he said. He was replying to my leader’s accusation of delaying tactics by the Opposition in connection with the passage of this important Bill. In Senator Greenwood ‘s closing remarks he said that his Party, or the Opposition, was as much committed to an effective Trade Practices Act as was the Government. Quite frankly, that statement is downright, undiluted political humbug. Let us look back over the record to see what the situation was. The Liberal-Country Party coalition Government was in office for 23 years. In 1 962 the then AttorneyGeneral, now the Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia, Sir Garfield Barwick, evidently was commissioned by the coalition Government to prepare a Trade Practices Bill and subsequently a Bill was introduced in 1 965. 1 know, and it is universally known, that any resemblance between Sir Garfield Barwick ‘s original concept of an effective Trade Practices Bill and what was introduced in the 2 Houses of Parliament in 1965 was purely accidental. It was so emasculated -
– No, that is wrong.
– That is known generally. The original concept of Sir Garfield Barwick was so emasculated that the Bill represented nothing more than a hollow gesture and an ineffective piece of legislation. In 1971 the Australian Council of Trade Unions became involved in a commercial enterprise and exercised its influence on some of the biggest trading and manufacturing companies in this country. One company in particular was Dunlop (Australia) Pty Ltd. It was the ACTU which forced those companies to discontinue a practice broadly and generally known to operate, and by the then Government to operate. That practice is known, and was known then, as resale price maintenance. Every honourable senator sitting opposite tonight knows that what I say is true. In due course the Government of the day was induced to modify or amend the existing Trade Practices Act to regularise and validate what the ACTU had achieved outside this place. In my view that was an indictment of the performance of the Opposition parties at that time.
There is a clear need for an effective Trade Practices Act, and it is urgently needed. It would be one of the critically important weapons in the armory of responsible government with which to fight inflation. I want to direct the attention of the Senate briefly to the sixth annual report of the Commissioner of Trade Practices for the year ended 30 June 1973. It is worth quoting what was said in that report under the heading Chapter I-General’. In paragraph 1.3 the Commissioner said:
Parliamentary concern and the increased public concern over restrictive trade practices make it clear that the climate has changed.
That is something that the Opposition has not recognised. He continued:
In particular, action against restrictive trade practices is now seen, in Australia and overseas, as one of the measures that may help to contain inflation.
Effective competition makes it harder to put prices up and makes it more necessary to pursue increased efficiency to keep down the costs that affect prices. To the extent that effective competition is inhibited by restrictive trade practices inflationary trends are harder to stop or slow down.
They are not the words of Senator Bill Brown; they are the words of a man who has some very intimate and detailed experience in this field. I think that even the Opposition would concede that there is some substance in what the Commissioner of Trade Practices says in his report. I repeat what I said earlier: We are facing a period- and in fact we are in the throes of a period- of galloping inflation.
– Which Government contributed to it? Your Government.
- Senator Greenwood asks Which Government contributed to it?’ We inherited part of it.
– Ha, ha.
– Wait a minute. In addition to this, reliable, competent economists are of the opinion that 60 per cent of Australia ‘s inflation is caused by overseas influences. That is not challenged. If that is true, and if what the Commissioner of Trade Practices said is correct and we could effectively implement some measures by way of restrictive trade practices legislation, it would be reasonable to say that we could reduce inflation by at least another 10 per cent to 15 per cent. But the Opposition was not prepared to pass a Bill for an Act to enable a price referendum to be conducted; it opposed that measure. In other words, the Opposition has opposed every measure- this Bill is only one of them, but it is the critically important one- that we have attempted to pass through this chamber which would have given the economic tools, so to speak, with which to manage the economic affairs of this nation. Yet at the same time the Opposition has the temerity and audacity to charge this Government with being irresponsible in handling the state of inflation in this country at the present time. For the Senate to delay this Bill, in my view, is an act of economic sabotage against the Australian people, and honourable senators opposite stand condemned, and they will stand condemned in the eyes of the Australian people, for their delaying tactics in relation to this important piece of legislation.
-The Senate is debating an Opposition move to defer discussion of the Trade Practices Bill until the first sitting day of the Senate in 1974. I understand that the news media this evening referred to an intimidation by the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam)- I am not positive about the comment, but I believe that it has been made- that in the House of Representatives the Government will introduce a similiar Trade Practices Bill if the Senate does not proceed with this Bill either this evening or in the near future. I acknowledge the Government’s claim that it is a very important Bill and that the Government wishes to see the Bill proceeded with as quickly as possible. But it is interesting to note that 2 days ago the Trade Practices Bill was at the bottom of the notice paper. Those who understand what I am saying will know that it means that within the last day or two the Trade Practices Bill has been considered to be a major item on the Senate’s notice paper.
The Trade Practices Bill and the general policy related to it are very important matters in our community. The Bill contains 75 pages and it is completely different from any other Trade Practices Bill that has been presented to this chamber. The implications of the Bill must be recognised by the people who are affected- whether they be consumers or people in very important areas of commerce within our society. The changes proposed by the Bill must be assessed in order to ascertain what they will mean to our commercial life in the future. I believe that it would be the Opposition’s desire to accede to the Government’s wish to pass such a Bill as soon as is practicable. This afternoon Senator Murphy pleaded with us to do this. Senator Brown from my own
State of Victoria also laid down in very strong terms that this Bill should be passed in its entirety. The main reason which Senator Murphy gave and which Senator Brown advanced in very strong terms as to why this Bill should be passed immediately was that the Bill is one of the measures with which the Government seeks to control the rate of inflation.
I would like to make a suggestion in calm terms to the Government if it believes in the immediate introduction of this enormous piece of legislation. Even if it were possible to get this legislation under way in 1 973 and to do something which it has not been possible to do under the Prices Justification Tribunal which this Government set up, or under the present trade practices legislation, or by the various actions which the Labor socialist Government has certainly taken to its heart to implement in the Australian Capital Territory and other areas where it feels that it has jurisdiction, I doubt very much whether the Trade Practices Bill which we have before us for debate would quickly provide a further tool to this Government to use to control inflation.
I think that the public generally recognises that the inflationary tendency which has been so pronounced in the last 9 months is the direct result of the political policies of the present Government. There certainly is reason to say, as I see Dr Cairns is saying, that inflation is an entirely external matter. Those who argue in this chamber that this Trade Practices Bill will cure inflation are obviously arguing against Dr Cairns when he says- probably, to some degree, quite correctly- that the enormous income which Australia is earning at the present time through its exports and the new money being introduced into this country bears some relationship to the inflationary tendency.
I believe that the policies of this Governmentits non-opposition to wage demands and excessive strikes which have taken place in the community which this year have increased by more than 50 per cent over the previous year; encouraging the provision to employees of longer annual leave and greater benefits which are certainly required in the community but which in some instances may have an inflationary influence; the enormous expenditure in which the Commonwealth Government has become involved; and attempting to say to the people: We have cured unemployment problems’ when to a large extent, it has taken the unemployment sectors on to the Commonwealth pay-roll- are adding to our inflationary tendency. This inflationary tendency will not be cured by attempting to control restrictive trade practices, although if I knew that such practices were not in the interests of the public generally I would be very anxious to see that they were controlled. I doubt very much whether this Bill, which the Government demands should be passed this year, would be a real tool for the socialist Government that we have in power at the present time. Both speakers on behalf of the Government have said that many people are being harmed by the practices that are occurring in the community.
– Hear, hear!
– I hear an honourable senator say: ‘Hear, hear! ‘. I note with some concern that neither Senator Murphy nor Senator Brown is willing to instance the type of trade practice which we have in the community which is so harmful to the community. I have had some experience in the commercial life of Australia. I have heard the Labor Government’s argument concerning price justification in relation to the Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd, and trade practices in the very important area of the steel industry. These are base industries and what happens in them can have an enormous effect on the price of goods in our community. This is an area in which some trade practices may be of concern to the community.
Prior to my coming into the Senate I was a director of a public company which had the benefit of being an agent in Victoria for steel produced by the Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd. As a director of that company I used to be most annoyed with BHP, which was a hard company to deal with. It used to demand its money within 7 days.
– I rise on a point of order. Loath as I am to interrupt this fascinating reminiscence of Senator Webster, it would appear to me that he is debating the substance of the Bill and not the proposition relating to the adjournment of the Bill. It would seem to me that if we are going to have a proper debate on this matter we should confine the debate to the reasons for the proposed adjournment of the Bill. If the honourable senator wishes to debate the Bill I am sure that we on this side would be delighted to do so. But I would ask you, Mr Acting Deputy President, to rule that the debate now is on the adjournment and not the substance of the Bill.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Brown)- There is some substance in what you say, Senator Wheeldon, but the debate has been in progress for some 2 hours or more and it has been rather wide ranging from both sides of the chamber. Therefore I feel somewhat reluctant at this stage to impose undue restrictions on any honourable senator. But I think it would be helpful for the purposes of the debate if greater attention were given to the substance of the motion before the Chair.
-Thank you, Mr Acting Deputy President. I shall endeavour to indicate to a person such as Senator Wheeldon, who is a legal individual, and the Attorney-General (Senator Murphy), who introduced this Bill and who is a person of legal training, that one of the great problems that the commercial community in Australia has is that even within this Parliament there are so many legal individuals who do not understand the commercial impact of what they attempt to bring into this Parliament. I was attempting to emphasise that if only you, Senator Wheeldon, had had experience other than your university and legal training and the time that you spent within the Young Liberal Movement you would have had a great opportunity to learn of the real commercial interests of the community. I say to the Senate that at a time when perhaps I was not as affluent as some honourable senators in the Government are- I had to work for my living -
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT-
Order! Senator Webster, I attempted to be as gracious as possible in regard to the point of order just taken, having regard to what had preceded your contribution. I ask you to attempt to come back to the subject matter and the substance of the debate. I do not think- and I think that you will agree- that a reference to someone’s political affiliations of yesteryear has any relevance whatsoever to this debate. Will you do as I ask, please?
– I acknowledge the fact that the time taken in interrupting my speech is all time taken out of my time on the air. I understand the reasons for that. I am attempting to say that this particular measure is a very legalistic measure and the fact is that commercial interests in Australia have not had time to study this matter. The barbs of this Government are pointed at the commercial interests. The Government says that there are illegal trade practices in the community but it is not willing to name them. It has illegal trade practices of which it is well aware, but they do not exist in the community to any great extent. Where they do exist I believe that we as an Opposition should see that they are done away with. I have said so far as the Opposition is concerned that where there is an overseas company which has control of a particular product or manufacture and which is able to dominate the trade in Australia or is able to dominate the policy relating to export from this country, that is something that must be done away with. But what this Bill does is to hit at every commercial practice in Australia, and every corporation which is registered in Australia can be harmed by this Bill, as honourable senators know.
Senator Murphy introduced this legislation on 27 September. He said in this chamber that there was the opportunity during the 10 months in which he was attempting to draw up this Bill–
– With all his staff and consultants.
-With all his staff and consultants. Despite his legalistic mind he did not once consult industry on this matter. The Senate will be amazed to know that on 3 October, after prompting by Senator Greenwood and others, Senator Murphy sent out telegrams to various bodies in the commercial world asking whether they would care to give their advice to his Department and, in the words that I have in front of me: ‘Would you care to submit your views to my Department. We will have officers prepared to discuss it with you’. What an abhorrent proposition. The Attorney-General stood up in this Senate and said: ‘Well, this is trade practices. They well knew the Labor Party policy. They well knew what I was drawing up. We should debate this immediately’. But I say to Senator Murphy that he is not quite fair to the Senate when he does not say that nearly every commercial body in Australia that has been in touch with him or his Department has pleaded with him, as telegrams that I and other senators have illustrate, and have asked him would he please defer this matter for at least 6 to 8 weeks to allow them to understand what this measure is really about. I ask you, Senator Murphy, whether you have received -
- Senator, you do not want it deferred for 6 to 8 weeks because that would bring this matter on again this sitting. You are trying to defer it until next year. If you could get the chance, having regard to the pressure that is on you, you would defer it for 2 or 3 years.
-Senator, you are taking up my time. I do not want you to take up my time, much as you would wish to do so. I think it would have been a little fairer for you to have stood up in the time available to you and said: Well, I have received from the various chambers of commerce some expression of concern as to the ramifications of this law which I, Senator Murphy, have brought in’. I think that their fears are well founded.
– I rise on a point of order. I draw your attention, Mr Acting Deputy President, to the fact that Senator Webster is not addressing the Chair but is in fact throwing taunts across the chamber. My understanding of Standing Orders is that he must address the Chair.
– I was reminded of that myself when I was speaking this afternoon and I appreciate your point of order. I am sorry to intrude on your speech again, Senator Webster. Will you continue with your remarks and pass them through the Chair? I ask you to link your remarks to the subject matter.
– I realise that supporters of the Government are interrupting me because they are now getting a few home truths in this matter and their commercial inexpertise will not let them appreciate the reasons why this Bill should be deferred. Senator Murphy said that he may agree to the Bill being deferred if the time for deferment was only 8 weeks. But it would be much better if the Minister had come in and said that he had received requests from bodies which had asked him to defer this legislation because I know that he has received such requests. One only has to look at the Bill to appreciate our reasons for wanting the legislation deferred. For instance, reference is made on page 6 of the Bill to the Trade Practices Commission. We have a proposal -
– I rise on a point of order. Senator Webster is again referring to the Bill. I understand that this is not under discussion at the moment. He is now actually defying the Chair to the extent that he is quoting from passages of the Bill. I understand that this is not the matter of debate of the present time.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT- I do not know whether you were in the chamber before, Senator Poyser, when the same point of order was raised. I indicated on that occasion that whilst technically the point taken was sound, the debate in the early stages did introduce subject matter on which the honourable senator is now touching and I feel reluctant to prevent him from attempting to find some measure of redress in the course of his contribution to that subject matter that was raised.
– If there are a few more points of order all your time will be gone.
-That is so. I just indicate that in this part of the Bill we find that a commissioner is to give the whole of his time to the duties of his office. How is this to be assessed by the public? What a most stupid proposition we have before us. A study of the Bill reveals sound reasons why it should be deferred. Part IV contains propositions which must concern any reasonable corporation. Two factors come to light. For instance, it will not be acceptable for a corporation to limit or to discontinue a particular manufacture or product. What does that mean to a corporation? I refer you, Mr Acting Deputy President, to the proposed new section 46. It is a most important provision and its possible impact upon the commercial life of Australia requires the greatest consideration. Its wording provides a reason why the debate on this Bill should be deferred for three or four months.
– I rise to a point of order.
-The President ruled that in this debate a wide field could be canvassed in suggesting reasons why the Bill should be deferred. I ask Government supporters to bear with me. I refer, as I hope to do on a second occasion, to Part IV, ‘Restrictive Trade Practices’, which states that bodies corporate that are related to each other are not to do certain things. Can anyone interpret for me what is meant by corporate bodies that are related’? What are the normal commercial companies, the private companies and the public companies to think of this? What does a relationship mean? Does it mean a relationship in location, shareholding or finance? I am unable to decide at present what is the great impact of this particular measure.
- Mr Acting Deputy President, I again rise to a point of order because despite your earlier ruling the honourable senator has gone beyond the fair bounds of any elasticity that you allowed and which was perhaps allowed previously in this debate. I again ask you, Sir, to confine Senator Webster to the Bill because he is roaming far wide of the discussions that took place earlier in this chamber.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT- In this debate the Leader of the Government in the Senate referred to the reasons why the Bill should not be delayed. He did in fact refer to some provisions of the Bill in his second reading speech.
– I was restricted in those references.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT- I am giving a ruling on the point of order, Mr Leader. It is true that Senator Murphy was directed by the Chair to link his remarks to the subject matter before the Chair. I say again that a fair amount of latitude has been allowed in this debate but I do ask Senator Webster to link very directly his comments to the motion before the
Chair; that is that this debate be adjourned until the first day of sitting in 1 974.
– I acknowledge the fact that the Government has succeeded in seeing that my time in this debate has been reduced. I accept the proposition that it has attempted to do so. In debating why the Bill should be deferred, the President when he was in the Chair did acknowledge that there must be a wide discussion in that we must be able to refer to particular provisions of the proposed Act in order to ask how an interpretation of the Bill could be made without a very great discussion by the commercial interests in this community. In my Melbourne office I have at least 20 letters from various interests in the commercial community asking me: ‘What does this particular point in the Restrictive Trade Practices Act mean?’ Senator Murphy must have had similar inquiries and he has not attempted in any way in the debate tonight to say any more than ‘We wish to debate this Bill tomorrow’. Apparently he wants the Bill passed in its entirety as he thinks that is the way it should be. I think it is most important to refer to the proposed new section 77 under which a penalty of $250,000 can be imposed on individuals who may be thought to contravene the provisions of Part IV of this legislation.
Mr Acting Deputy President, I think you will allow me to refer to those particular provisions because they are most important. They are the basis of the breaking of any corporation in Australia. The Attorney-General (Senator Murphy) has decided in his wisdom that that should be the limit of the penalties to be determined by the Commission. The whole ambit of the Bill is so wide that in the interests of the consumer you, Mr Acting Deputy President, as a former member of the directorate of the Australian Council of Trade Unions Store in Melbourne -
– No. You are wrong again.
– A lot of noise is coming from Government supporters, but Senator Brown and I know that he did act as an adviser or in some capacity to Bourke ‘s ACTU store. Government supporters stand up and say: ‘The interests of the consumer are right in our hearts’. I produced evidence in the Senate to demonstrate that at least 6 or 8 stores sold goods at much lower prices than those of the ACTU store with which Senator Brown happened to have some liaison or gave some advice at that particular time. If a store is able to sell goods at a lower figure than others it must surely mean that somebody is getting a higher profit. The idea of profit is not acceptable to the Government Party at the present time. My view is that unless we have a healthy commercial community which is making good profits we will not have the basis for sound employment and the Government will not have the capacity to tax companies at the rate of 50 per cent, which it does, and so derive income with which to introduce those social security benefits which we are so anxious to introduce.
There is very definitely a State interest in this matter. In one particular part of the Act, which apparently I am not able to refer to, Mr Acting Deputy President, the Tribunal is to be given power to investigate consumers’ rights. My understanding at present is that the States, and particularly my own State, wish to see the rights of consumers in the States controlled and conducted by the State governments. As a senator I am not anxious to see that right taken from the State of Victoria. States’ rights must be considered. In his speech Senator Murphy indicated that the consumers’ rights need protection and that the consumers are being badly done by. I will tell you, Senator Murphy, if I may- or you, Mr Acting Deputy President- that what was done by the previous Government by bringing in a Trade Practices Act and a resale price maintenance proposition harmed the consumers of this country very greatly. As the Government pursues this matter it will find that arrangements were made by respectable consumer trade groups in the community which had the ability to maintain a system of reasonable prices and of reasonable marketing. In the public eye they had to be able to control the percentage of margins that was applied either in the wholesale trade or the retail trade. One reason why inflation is out of hand at present is the fact that every price list that comes out has noted on it, ‘This is only a recommended price’. Supporters of this Bill hope to see that on dockets no price but a recommended price appears. Because of a shortage of goods the retail trade has not been able to buy at a reasonable figure and its margin of profit has fallen. Certainly for Broken Hill Proprietary Co. Ltd ‘s steel and some other items the profit margin was down to as low as 7.5 per cent and 8 per cent.
– That is lower than the interest rate.
-Yes, lower than the rate that any trader might wish to see. They are now being eroded because of the very fact that a lot of legal men thought that they would bring in a restrictive trade practices Act, resale price maintenance and every other thing which was designed to pull the wool over the public eye and give the impression that those in the commercial life in this country were really getting at the public. I ask any honourable senator who speaks on this matter, or perhaps Senator Murphy when he speaks on the Bill, to demonstrate by physically naming the industries which are in actual fact-
– The timber industry -
-We hear Senator O’Byrne speaking for his wonderful timber industry in Tasmania.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Brown)- Order! The honourable member’s time has expired. Before I call the next honourable senator I point out that something that has always concerned me as an occupant of the chair is that when an honourable senator is addressing the Senate, interjections which distract him, points of order which are taken and any other uses which are made of the Standing Orders, reduce his speaking time. That concerns me when it comes from either side of the chamber because it can work both ways. So far there have been five or six speakers. This represents a pretty reasonable expression of opinion from both sides of the chamber. I think that the debate has been rather extended beyond the confines of the subject matter before the chair. I hope that honourable senators who follow- and there are more to follow- will confine themselves to the subject matter before the chair and link their remarks directly to it. I ask both sides to respect my wish not to interfere with the time that is available to a speaker when he has an opportunity to address the Senate.
– I find it rather curious that Senator Webster this evening should be arguing for an adjournment until next February of discussion on this Trade Practices Bill. I gathered from what he just said that he had already made such an exhaustive study of the Bill that he was prepared to debate the subject matter tonight without any adjournment whatever. However, it was not the latter part of his speech which I found most interesting. In fact, I did not find a great deal of it terribly interesting at all apart from 2 passages at the beginning which were extraordinarily interesting. One of them was the revelation which Senator Webster made that he was particularly qualified- in fact especially qualifiedto speak on this Bill because apparently before coming to this chamber he was a captain of industry and a prince of finance in Victoria. Unbeknown to all of us he was a sort of Andrew Carnegie of East Gippsland before entering the Senate.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Wood)- Order! I ask the honourable senator to try to concentrate on the motion.
-Thank you. The other thing which rather bewildered me was the claim which he made this evening that 3 disqualifications for speaking about restrictive trade practices were attendance at a university, being- to use the rather quaint turn of phrase to which he appears to be addicted- a legal individual, and having been a former member of the Young Liberals. I am surprised that he has such a low opinion of Senator Withers, Senator Greenwood, Senator Durack, Mr Snedden and Mr Peacock, all of whom have those qualifications. And Senator Wright.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Wood)- Order! I do not think that has any relevance to the motion before the chamber.
– I think it has some, Mr Acting Deputy President, if I may say so with due respect. It does refer to matters which were dwelt on at some length by the previous speaker.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT- I have just come into the chair.
– 1 hope that Senator Wright is not equally disqualified from debating the matter because although I do not think he was ever a Young Liberal- that was rather after his time- he is both a legal individual, as Senator Webster would describe him, and I think he attended a university, albeit the University of Tasmania. The Bill which is before the Senate this evening is being subjected to delaying tactics by the Opposition. Rather than defeat the Bill which they could well do because they have the numbers in this chamber to do so, apparently they have decided to adjourn discussion of the Bill until February of next year. One may speculate as to why they do not want to knock the Bill over tonight but would rather let it hang until February of next year. I think that to look for the explanation of this rather strange device one has to seek some motives. I suggest that one motive would be the present disarray in which the Opposition parties find themselves. After over a week of suspense the much heralded censure motion was debated in the House of Representatives yesterday.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Wood)- Order! I do not think that the censure motion in another place has anything to do with the motion in this place.
-Mr Acting Deputy President, would you prefer me not to continue at all? I think that there has been a fairly wide ranging debate.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT -Order!
– I have finished, thank you, Mr Acting Deputy President. I will not continue.
– I take a point of order, Mr Acting Deputy President. With respect, a ruling has been given here before that there was flexibility and that the speakers could speak over a wide range. The precedent has been established. Now you are changing the ruling which was given by the previous Acting Deputy President.
– You do not even know what the motion is.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Wood)- Order! Senator O’Byrne, I would like you to know that I do know what the motion is.
– What is it?
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT-
Order! Senator O’Byrne it is not your place to be asking me that sort of question. I say to Senator McAuliffe that his point of order is not upheld. What I am trying to do- I try to do this without any partiality so far as anybody is concerned- is to relate the debate to the motion before the Senate. Senator Mulvihill is next on the list.
– May I speak on this point of order? I have been subjected to constant interruptions from you, Mr Acting Deputy President, since you have been in the chair. A wide ranging debate has proceeded and I do not intend to continue trying to speak in these circumstances.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Wood)- Order! The next speaker on the list is Senator Mulvihill.
– Put the motion.
- Mr Acting Deputy President, you are getting intructions to put the motion from the other side of the chamber and you are doing nothing about it.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Wood)- Order! Senator McAuliffe has just said that I have received instructions from the other side to put the motion. I want him to understand that no instructions have been received by me. For the almost 24 years that I have been in this Parliament I have never taken instructions from anyone. Senator McAuliffe, I want you to understand that I will not have you make statements of that sort to me.
- Mr Acting Deputy President, with respect I did not say that you had received instructions. I said that honourable senators on the opposite side were shouting out instructions to you to put the motion. I hope that you do not take it that I implied that you had received instructions. I was only pointing out to you gracefully that Senator Wright particularly and other honourable senators on the other side were shouting out to you: ‘Put the motion’. I thought that this was a disgraceful performance and lowered the dignity of the Chair. I rose to protect you.
The DEPUTY ACTING PRESIDENT (Senator Wood)- Thank you, Senator McAuliffe, for the explanation. I acknowledge it and I apologise if I have made a mistake and misinterpreted you.
– I had better clear the record. I am a bit hesitant to cross any picket line which may have been drawn. I notice my Leader nod so I am happy to take up the tough tocsin which he sounded in his speech. Senator Murphy attempted to paint a picture of society today and the clamour of consumers because they have been filched and welched on and of people who are looking for a new order. When we talk about a new order it is not nationalisation or anything like that. I would say that all Senator Murphy visualises is the Ralph Nader syndrome in the United States. There are a lot of things I do not agree with in a private enterprise economy but I know that consumers over there have a lot of protection which we lack here. Senator Webster referred to good prices to stimulate the economy. This is the area where there is the dispute. What constitutes a good price? What constitutes fair profits? As a matter of fact, if we are talking about business ethics surely the honourable senator will agree that so many cancers in society today arise from our inability to control capitalism. This was exemplified earlier this week when Senator Cavanagh, in reply to a question asked by me, illustrated in relation to the motor industry how we lagged behind the United States of America in regard to safety devices. All this is linked up with trade practices.
When we attempt to impose what the Opposition calls shackles on industry, we regard this as a load that industry can carry. I know that when my colleague the Minister for the Media, Senator Douglas McClelland, was an Opposition senator he always drew a comparison between the drug companies of Australia, with their failure to accept their moral responsibilities in regard to thalidomide, and, even, their British and American counterparts. There are so many fields that are affected by this Bill. When we suggest there should be some reform in the performances of industry in a private enterprise economy we are told that such action represents interference with the individual. If it is good for the individual to accept a principle on conscription, as honourable senators opposite did when they sent young men for service in Vietnam, it is good enough for private enterprise to accept a heavier burden. One of the issues for the people in New South Wales who are facing a State election on 17 November is consumer protection. We know that the States are limited in what they can do, but when a matter is taken to the Commonwealth level we are told by the States the extent to which they will accept what the Commonwealth proposes. We have argued consistently about the domination of Australian society through decisions arrived at in overseas boardrooms. The position is as simple as that. All we are suggesting is that there should be certain safeguards.
Senator Byrne talked about allowing time for consideration. I wonder whether Senator Byrne walked through a supermarket this weekend and listened to the talk of the average housewife. If she is not filched by bad packaging she is filched in some other way- for instance, by these rorts that are occurring in the change-over to metric measurement. All these things happen but nothing is done to curb them. Today we have had Opposition speakers tell us blandly that it is not time to introduce this legislation; let us have a look at it next year. Have they ever considered the excessive profits that will be made as each week goes by between now and next year? Previously. I have heard talk about a gentleman named Kreuger, the Swedish match kind, and the manipulations that took place in regard to the match industry. So many of these situations have arisen throughout history. As a matter of fact, when honourable senators talk about our society and law and order I wonder whether they think of some of the machinations that have taken place in New South Wales in regard to some of these big financiers. In the case of Huxley, he received only the minimum sentence. Others have disappeared to Rhodesia. Yet honourable senators opposite say blandly that we should not interfere with these people. I think that perhaps some members of the Opposition still have this idea of sending to Van Diemen ‘s Land for life a person who pinched pigeons or some game belonging to the lord of the manor. Some honourable senators still live in that age.
Surely they can see that some of the greatest sins against society include the snide practices that are followed. But every time we talk about this sort of thing honourable senators opposite raise their hands and say that it is not time. We make not one iota of apology for this legislation. I draw to the attention of honourable senators some of the delays that occur in curbing the sale of various drugs that are pushed onto the market in Australia. The evidence taken before the medical tribunal that has been in progress shows that even members of the Australian Medical Association have been conned by slick salesmen who go around trying to tell them that if they do not foist a particular drug onto a person that person will become a raving maniac. If members of our society took less Vincent’s APC and similar concoctions we would have a much healthier society. Yet this is the sort of drivel that is accepted by honourable senators opposite. People blandly take note of the neon signs that tell them some produce is good for them, or something like that. The other day I was finally able to get the Australian Broadcasting Control Board to agree that it will no longer allow someone to put on a white coat and go in front of the television cameras to tell us, for instance, that such and such a brand of antiseptic is best. Honourable senators opposite talk about reducing costs. They realise in their own hearts that if they eliminated all advertising, merchandise was put out on a stall and the people were allowed to make their own decision, millions of dollars would be saved. The amount involved would be colossal.
Some of these people who get around with their Madison Square attitude should be made to work efficiently. The same can be said of car salesmen and all these parasites in a capitalist economy. I say put them back into the foundry and make them produce things. If a third world war broke out tomorrow these people would not be wanted. Senator Little is attempting to interject. He will agree with me that many people would be better employed in making boots and shoes than in hawking insurance. Is this the sort of thing we want? I have a simple philosophy about this and in what should be done. We hear talk about pollution programs. The manifesto of the liberal- I am referring to the liberals with a little ‘1’- in Great Britain today states: Make the polluter pay. Senator Gietzelt knows only too well from his illustrious local government career that this is the problem we have found all too often with private enterprise. It tries to pass the buck to somebody else. We are not trying to stop honourable senators opposite from operating enterprise economy. But instead of wasting a lot of these public relations advertisements on how they bleed about pollution, let them be practical and accept the tab that has to be paid.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Wood)- Order! Senator Mulvihill, I think that you are a bit off the track. The motion and the amendment before the Chair relate to when the Trade Practices Bill will be dealt with. I think that you must confine your remarks to that point.
- Mr Acting Deputy President, I accept that you have been very tolerant with me. I would say only this: Senator Murphy in his inimitable and vigorous style, sounded the tocsin on urgency. If our plea tonight is rejected I can assure you that between now and 17 November, at least in the mother State of New South Wales, we will be able to say that the political counterparts of Mr Askin, the New South Wales Premier, refused to face up to big business and want Australia to be a paradise for the racketeers.
– The motion before the Chair is one moved by Senator Murphy, namely, that the resumption of the debate be made an order of the day for the next day of sitting, to which Senator Greenwood moved an amendment: Leave out ‘next day of sitting’ and insert ‘ first sitting day of 1 974 ‘.
That the words proposed to be left out be left out (Senator Greenwood’s amendment).
The Senate divided. (The President- Senator Sir Magnus Cormack )
Question resolved in the affirmative.
That the words proposed to be inserted be inserted.
– Now that the proposition I put has been defeated by the elimination of the postponement of the debate until tomorrow, may I say to the Senate that I think it is against the interests of the people of Australia that this Bill be delayed for an undue time.
– I rise on a point of order, although I know that I am not in my correct place. Have we not proceeded to a vote on the question?
– I have put the question: That the words proposed to be inserted be inserted. That is the motion before the Senate.
– Why was Senator Murphy invited to speak?
– He was not invited to speak. He stood and attracted my attention. Honourable senators will resume their seats. The question is: That the words proposed to be inserted be inserted. I call Senator Murphy.
– Now that my proposal that the debate continue in the usual way has not been acceded to -
– I rise on the point of order upon which I embarked before you, Mr President, asked us to resume our seats. I speak from a lack of experience of the procedure in which Senator Murphy is now engaging. Therefore, I raise the question of its propriety. I moved an amendment that certain words be left out of Senator Murphy’s motion and that different words be substituted. The amendment simply changes words. It could be put in the one question, but the practice of the Senate is to put two questions when such amendments are moved. Mr President, I submit that if you permit a speech on the second limb of the one question we could be engaged in a long and interminable debate over the words which should be inserted. It may be that that course is in order. Certainly it is a course which, I think, many of us have not experienced before. Therefore I raise the question whether it is in order. If it is in order, it raises many questions for the future. My submission would be that it is not in order because there is only one amendment and we have debated it.
– I do not uphold the point of order. I am applying the ruling which is the practice of the Senate. There is a new question before the Senate, namely, that the debate be adjourned until the first sitting day of 1 974. That is the question.
– I think we ought to disagree with that ruling.
- Senator Wright, you can disagree with it. If you are indicating that you propose to disagree with my ruling, I think I should remind you of the relevant standing order. Standing order 149 states:
When it is proposed to leave out words in the Original Question in order to insert or add others, no Amendment to the words proposed to be inserted or added can be entertained until the Question that the words proposed to be left out be left out has been determined.
-Mr President -
- Senator Murphy, are you speaking to Senator Greenwood’s point of order?
– No. I am speaking to the substantive matter. I think that Senator Wright clearly crystallised the problem that the Senate faces when, by way of interjection which was not answered, he said: ‘Why waste time?’
– I rise on a point of order. Mr President, implicit in what you read from the Standing Orders is an indication that if there is an amendment to the words proposed to be inserted, that is a subject for debate. Unless Senator Murphy proposes such an amendment or rises on a point of order, I submit that he is quite out of order.
-Mr President -
- Senator Murphy, are you addressing yourself to the point of order?
-Mr President, I submit that I am entitled to speak to the question now before the Chair. If I wish, and I may wish, I may propose an amendment to the question now before the Chair.
– I do not uphold the point of order.
– I take it that the words proposed to be inserted, which is the question before the Chair, are the words ‘the first sitting day of 1974’. That is part of Senator Greenwood’s amendment. I take it that I am correct?
– Yes. The question before the Senate is: That the words proposed to be inserted be inserted.
– That is basically Senator Greenwood’s amendment. Therefore I take it that Senator Greenwood would be entitled to the first call on that question as it is his amendment. If he does not rise to take the call and if Senator Murphy takes the call, I take it that if Senator Greenwood is the next speaker he closes the debate.
– Whose motion is before the Chair?
- Senator Greenwood’s motion: ‘That the words proposed to be inserted be inserted’. That is the substantive motion at this moment.
– Who owns the motion before the Chair at the moment? It strikes me as being rather ludicrous, to put it mildly, that if Senator Greenwood promotes an amendment to leave out words and insert other words the carriage of the action now resides with Senator Murphy. I would have thought that as Senator Greenwood was the promoter of that amendment he owned the amendment and that part of the motion.
– The learned Clerk informs me that there is no right of reply to the amendment.
– I rise to a point of order, Mr President. We are witnessing a procedure which I have not seen before in my time in this place. You, Sir, have ruled- I appreciate the Standing Order to which you have referred as justifying the ruling which you have made- that when it is proposed to leave out words in the original question in order to insert or add other words no amendment to the words proposed to be inserted or added can be entertained until the question that the words proposed to be left out be left out has been determined.
– That has been determined.
– I moved an amendment that words be left out and in their place other words be inserted. That is the customary procedure which practice has sanctified in this place. What Senator Murphy is doing is simply speaking, and I would have thought that speaking to the question would not be permitted once the actual voting in division has occurred. I would have thought that it would have to be acknowledged under the Standing Order which I have just read out and upon which you have based your ruling that if he moved an amendment he would then have to justify it under standing order 1 49. But Senator Murphy has not moved an amendment. He is simply speaking to the question, which I submit is out of order.
– I do not know what he is going to speak to at the present moment.
– He has said, with respect, Sir, that he may move an amendment. Therefore he is using the occasion as a vehicle for talking. I would have thought that the interest of the Government was not simply to talk but to get down to its business, either by moving an amendment or dealing with the other Bills.
– Perhaps Senator Murphy will indicate what his intentions are.
-The business of the Government is to get down to work and to bring in legislation. The people of Australia are entitled to have this Parliament consider that legislation. If it is not considered in this House it will be considered in the other House.
– You are not going to intimidate us.
– The Opposition will not be intimidated by anyone in this place.
Senate Hannan- That is right.
-That is right. The Opposition in this place is, as it has said, committed and dedicated to, and believes in legislation against restrictive practices. Everybody knows that. If one talks to honourable senators opposite individually every one of them will say that he wants laws against these rotten practices, that he wants laws to protect the consumer. They will not be intimidated by anyone in this Parliament. The only people who will intimidate them are their masters outside- the big businesses which have leaned upon them and leaned upon the Leader of the Opposition in the other House.
– I rise to a point of order. I raised a point of order on which I respectfully ask for a ruling. My point of order was whether Senator Murphy is entitled to speak to this question at this stage without moving an amendment.
– The point is that Senator Murphy has to give an indication of what he intends to do. I had to give him time to make it clear what the indicators are. I was about to suggest to Senator Murphy that he has said enough on this and that he should let me proceed to the gravamen of the matter, and that is to put the question: ‘That the words proposed to be inserted be inserted’.
– It is my intention to move an amendment.
– I rule against you, Senator Wright. Senator Murphy is on his feet. You cannot move that the question be put while he is on his feet.
This will test the Opposition as to whether it genuinely wants some time to apply itself to the Bill or whether, as everyone knows, it is bending over backwards to help its friends, as it did when it was in government. At that time no matter what was in the hearts of honourable senators opposite and no matter what they wanted to do, whether in relation to restrictive practices or other matters- we know that they wanted to act on many of these matters- they did what they were told. I do not doubt their wishes to do something about stopping the rackets that are going on in business and stopping the injury to the consumer. I accept that that is what they want to do. But when they were in government they could not do it. They were dictated to by those who are running business. Now that they are in opposition they are being dictated to by those who are carrying on these rackets.
These people want to carry on these rackets for as long as they can, whether it be a month, 3 months or 6 months, because every day, every month, every year that they continue with these rackets they are making more money. I give credit to the individual members of the Opposition that they themselves do not want to see these rackets perpetrated. Nevertheless they have no choice in the matter because they are utterly dependent upon those business people outside who are carrying on these rackets. The Opposition has not said that there is anything wrong with this Bill. It has had the opportunity to study the Bill. Other people have had the opportunity to study it. Honourable senators opposite want to delay the passage of this legislation because every day of delay means more profit for somebody outside, more opportunity to perpetrate these rackets. Again and again we hear the theme from honourable senators opposite: What does this mean to the big company which cannot understand this legislation? Honourable senators opposite say that those who are operating the rackets do not understand these laws which say that they must not engage in restrictive practices, they must not restrict markets, that they must not engage in monopolisation, and so forth. The people in these companies say: ‘We cannot understand what these laws mean that have been operating in other parts of the world, that are proposed here and have been discussed for 10 years’. They say: ‘Please give us more time to perpetrate these rackets’.
– I rise to a point of order, Mr President. If you have been attending to the debate since it began some 3.5 hours ago, 1 think you would readily perceive that this is tedious, offensive repetition.
– Order! The honourable senator raises 2 matters. He implies that I have not been attending to the entire debate. That is entirely wrong.
– I made no such inference.
– That is what you said.
– I said, Mr President, that if you had you would know that it is repetition.
– I do not uphold the point of order. Senator Murphy has moved an amendment and he is entitled to speak to it.
-Why I not push on with the attempt to have this Bill dealt with at the earliest stage? In May last year the Opposition, which was then in government, said that there were 13,000 restrictive agreements on the register and it then said:
The Government has concluded that many of the agreements on the Register of Trade Agreements are likely to bc found on examination to be contrary to the public interest. The Government has reached this conclusion on the information that is now available to it concerning these agreements in Australia and on the experience of other countries with respect to such agreements.
The then Government accepted that there was no reasonable way under the existing laws in which those agreements could be examined and put a stop to. All that the Opposition is doing by this proposal to delay consideration of this Bill until next year is allowing those thousands of agreements to continue in operation. There are over 10,000 agreements operating against the public interest. Honourable members opposite know it. They have said that there are rackets being perpetrated against the public. Yet they are voting to allow those rackets to continue with impunity. They are also voting to allow the continuance of other practices such as pyramid selling, bait advertising, deception and fraud against the public. I know that in their hearts they do not want it. Let there not by any doubt about that. They confess by their votes that their masters outside, those who finance them and dictate to them, are telling them to delay this legislation as long as they can in the same way as they delayed even the pitiful legislation that was introduced in the 1960s. They delayed that legislation, emasculated it and watered it down.
We heard the sorry schedule that was read out by Senator Greenwood about how, after Sir Garfield Barwick said ‘Let us do something about this’, nothing was done for years. Then a previous government brought in legislation which sat in the Parliament, and in the end that government watered that down and would not bring it into operation. When it finally came into operation it was unworkable. Here in 1 973 a decent Bill has been introduced. It has been acclaimed by those who have looked at it. Yet the Opposition is not prepared even to debate it or to go into Committee and say whether it disagrees with its clauses. The simplest thing is to do what it is doing because those outside are saying: Do not debate it. Stall it. Delay it as long as you can’.
– You are not serious. You are romancing.
-Let the honourable senator from South Australia go back to his electorate and say that he voted to delay for 6 months- that is what it amounts to- legislation to assist the people of Australia in the midst of inflation which Senator Greenwood said in May last year was the greatest menace this country faced.
-Senator Webster should read his speech of May 1972. He said then that it was the greatest menace this country faced. It is true that the previous Government launched an inflation which this Government is trying to tackle by bringing in legislation such as this. Yet what is the response of honourable senators opposite? It is to put this legislation over for an effective 6 months before we can bring in laws to stop those who are forcing up prices and carrying on rackets against the people. What honourable senators opposite are doing against their own wishes and consciences is voting to delay the laws which would prevent this occurring. It is with some regret that I have to say these things which I believe are the truth. I know that some members of the Opposition agree exactly with what I am saying. They regret that they are put in the position of having to vote against the interests of the people of this nation. However, the system we are operating under is such that those who have the money are able to dictate to the Opposition Parties that laws which are in the interests of the people will have to be postponed. This will be the case unless some Opposition senators are prepared to vote in the national interest. I ask the Senate to vote for the amendment which I have moved.
-The Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Murphy) has been afforded an opportunity to reduce the proceedings of this chamber to a despicable level, and I will tell the Senate why. We are engaged in a session demanding the attention of Parliament to a formidable program of legislation. The Government has not a majority in this chamber and the Opposition, when concerted, can reject any Bill that comes before the Senate. From that stems, of course, the great propaganda that any time Opposition members rise to speak they are frustrating the Government. This afternoon the motion that this Trade Practices Bill be made an order of the day for the next day of sitting was debated and an amendment to that motion was moved that the words next day of sitting’ be left out for the purpose of inserting the words ‘the first sitting day of 1974’. Those 2 matters were then debated together. Under the direction of the Chair- and I cannot imagine the stultification of any occupant of the chair, having allowed the debate on 2 matters to proceed together, allowing this- the Leader of the Government in the Senate was afforded the opportunity, merely as a matter of form after the Government was defeated in its attitude on the one substantive motion, to restate his proposition and cast slurs upon the Opposition.
I ask the Senate to reflect a moment on who are members of the Opposition. Yet the slur was cast that if we voted according to our consciences we would subscribe to the Murphy Bill; that if we voted in the national interest and not according to the dictates of outside interest we would vote for the Bill. I said by way of point of order that that was an offensive imputation and it was ruled that there was no point of order. I speak now of repetition. Having gained agreement from the Opposition to curtail the debate and have the question put after a brief debate, Senator Murphy, being defeated on the first limb, was given the benefit of a ruling, made for the first time in this chamber in my 24 years experience, whereby one substantive motion was allowed to be put into 2 brackets for form, the second bracket enabling a repetition of this debate. And what a rubbishy debate it was. Not having spoken in the main debate I will proceed to state my point of view.
– I rise to order. Why should not Senator Wright be allowed to speak in this chamber without the constant cacophony of noise and the barrage of interjections designed to prevent him from being heard? I submit that the Standing Orders should be observed.
– Order ! I was perfectly aware that Senator Wright was in control of the situation and the debate.
– I shall state my point of view in answer to this distorted, deceptive and dishonest presentation of the Attorney-General. He thinks he has only to come in here with a Bill, trundle it onto the table and we will sit down like school children to be berated. As I said this afternoon he will soon get to the stage where, having brought in a Bill, he will have gendarmes at the doors to prevent any of us going out until we have been locked in and have considered the Bill. The fact is that the United States of America pioneered this legislation back in 1894. The United States then adopted the punitive legislation whereby the criminal court or the penal sanction was made the agency of enforcement of the legislation. The people who came within the ambit of that legislation for the first 20 years of the American experience chiefly were the trade union combines. Due to an accident of history an exemption was given to that legislation and it was turned wholly against capital in 1913.
In this country in 1914 the American legislation was copied. After one test of it in the High Court of Australia it was found to be so unmanageable that not a single case was brought before the courts or any tribunal after the Vend case in 1915. Mr Justice Isaacs gave a judgment of 315 pages in that case and it took him 3 days to deliver it. That brought in a practice which I hope will soon be copied in the Senate, Mr President. I hope that instead of hearing speeches a second time, honourable senators will do as the High Court Judges do and say: ‘I am for the plaintiff and I hand down my reasons. ‘ So the Vend case put into the burial ground the Australian Industries Preservation Act, copied on the American legislation, because it proved to be completely unmanageable. No attempt was made by the Labor government in the 1930s either to amend it or to revive it.
Refuting the imputations- the dishonourable and despicable imputations- of the AttorneyGeneral that there are people on this side of the House who vote not according to their conscience but according to directives from outside, let it be remembered that during the long exile of the Australian Labor Party in opposition it was the Liberal-Country Party Government, through the mouth of Sir Garfield Barwick, and having been urged on by Senator Hannan and others in the Party, which brought in legislation to regulate trade practices. What sort of an answer is that, Mr President, to the jibe that we are not fair dinkum about this sort of legislation? Sir Garfield Barwick conferred with leading figures in the field in England, where the government of the day, for the first time, in the 1 950s- a Conservative government, not a Labour governmenthad brought in similar legislation. Our purpose being to make the legislation effective, it was then put before the Parliament and ample time was given to consider it and debate it. We wisely chose not the punitive form, not the form of enforcement that depends upon the criminal courts as the agency of enforcement, but the much more effective form of investigation and enforcement through the administrative agency of a Trade Practices Commissioner whose decision was subject to review by a semi-judicial tribunal.
That brings me face to face with the mendacious assertion of the Attorney-General. He said that there are 10,000 to 12,000 agreements on the register. The legislation that I referred to compelled everybody to register any agreement that might possibly be considered objectionable and there they were in the register for the scrutiny of the Commissioner and his staff at his will. If Senator Murphy had adhered to the truth in even one small department he would have told you, Mr President, that there were not 10,000 to 12,000 agreements requiring objection but that the number that really deserved examination, according to the evidence of his own officer at an Estimates Committee hearing last week, was about 2,500. It depends upon the vigour of that office and the determination of the Commissioner as to how soon he looks at those 2,500 agreements. The effective way of saying whether there was anything objectionable in those agreements would be by the use of his staff. I should think that in the time in which we wish to consider this Bill- 4 months- he could make a very ample stride forward in assessing those agreements and seeing whether any of them warranted institution of proceedings. So you see, Mr President, that if the Attorney-General were dinkum about the real ascertainment of objectionable agreements- if his motives were not political but really in the interests of the consumer community- he would say: ‘I have an officer and a staff there before whom these 2,500 agreements are laid bare and awaiting examination. ‘
Mr President, the remarkable thing is that if this legislation were to go on to the statute book the Attorney-General would have to start getting evidence of any objectionable practice outside through other agencies de novo because I think that even the sense of honour of the AttorneyGeneral would preclude him from using agreements that were compelled to be registered, under the statutory authority of secrecy, for the purpose of enforcing penalties up to $250,000. So we find him exposed, like the canine with raw meat wanting to get into the scrub, with his penal legislation when all the time he has on the table of his office all these agreements yet not getting on with them. Out of the 2,500 perhaps 500 would deserve examination.
The next point is that that statutory authority being on the register, that being the position that could be operated for the benefit of any consumer public that might be prejudiced by these objectionable agreements over the next 4 months, the Attorney-General came into the Senate, not this time with a bundle of Australian Security Intelligence Organisation documents under each arm but with a Bill which he says is a good Bill. I have told the Senate that the Bill is archaic and that it goes back a century for its origin. It defines modern, effective administrative machinery and it imports an entirely new concept into Federal legislation. The law of the sale of goods was codified by one of the most expert draftsmen who over directed a pen in legal draftsmanship. He has received the plaudits of every judge who has considered the Sale of Goods Act. That Act probably has been translated almost word for word into every State Act. It is the basis of a well known interpretation of commercial documents which is tremendously important for stability and reliability in commerce. In recent times the States have added to it investigatory procedures for malpractices in the consumer realm. For the first time in Federal legislation, pan of this Bill seeks to override State legislation in different language that will create the utmost complexity and confusion.
– I thought you said that you did not have time to study it.
-I have spent 50 years studying the law, and it will take me at least 5 weeks, uninterrupted, to do this Bill justice in analysis. It is my right, as a member of the Opposition, to be given that 5 weeks at different intervals to 1 February next year. It has taken Senator Murphy 10 months to produce this legislation with the aid of consultants from America, with the aid of all his expert staff and with all the aid and experience of Mr Bannerman and his office. I think that it is one of the most frustrating experiences that I have had to face- to be beset with an exposition of an argument for the second time. I know that the Germans have a practice whereby they deliver the same speech once sober for sense and then a second time, drunk, for effect. If you want my speech in the latter condition next time, let me know. I have taken the opportunity to deliver this speech in the most deliberate, uninteresting terms, making it as dull as 1 possibly can for honourable senators opposite so that they will get the full benefit of drinking the mud that we had in the first debate and the sludge that we have in the second debate. Perhaps the Senate Standing Orders might be reconsidered for the purpose of precluding repetition of the same debate for which there is no sensible basis whatsoever.
This Bill comes before us fathered on an archaism almost a century old but ignoring the modern legislation which is much more effective and which does not depend upon criminal sanctions. The Bill introduces a new facet into the legislation, overrides the Sale of Goods Act, undermines the basis upon which commercial transactions are placed, and confuses the State consumer price protection legislation. Mr President, do these things give you any satisfaction? Do they persuade you to the view that on any reasonable basis a second debate is necessary? Having resolved that this Bill will not be listed as an order of the day for the next day of sitting, we are now asked to consider whether Senator Greenwood’s date shall be inserted. This afternoon I co-operated in abridging a debate to enable the Government, if it wished, to get on and consider some of the Bills that are to come before us. When I saw Senator Murphy being afforded the opportunity to repeat this offensive, tedious nonsense I took the opportunity for the first time in this debate to give a little history, I hope to produce a little elucidation, and in my studied terms to make everybody realise that repeated debates are most tedious.
– Order! I suggest to honourable senators that I should take the point made by Senator Wright, that we are getting into a state of constant repetition. We know what the matter is. I suggest that we could proceed to deal with Senator Murphy’s amendment by vote, if necessary, on the voices. I would like to put the question.
– I raise a point of order. Mr President, I draw your attention to standing order 143 under the heading ‘Amendments’. I believe that we are setting a precedent if we allow this debate to go any further. It is directly contrary to the Standing Orders because all the standing orders from 137 to 147 which deal with amendments must be read in conjunction with one another and not singly. Standing order 143 is specific. It states:
When the proposed Amendment is to leave out certain words in order to insert or add other words, the President shall put a Question, ‘That the words proposed to be left out be left out, ‘ which, if resolved in the negative, shall dispose of the Amendment; but, if in the affirmative, another Question shall be put, that the words of the Amendment be inserted or added, instead of the words which are left out.
There is no provision in that standing order for the words of the amendment itself to be amended in any way at all. The standing order is explicit. It states:
I think that is specific, Mr President, and I ask for your ruling on it.
– My ruling is this: The more I look at the Senate Standing Orders the more they remind me of the rules of golf. You have to read about 6 standing orders in conjunction with one another. Standing order 143 that you have cited to me, Senator Little, is controlled by standing order 149. So I do not uphold the point of order, but I suggest that I put the question and let us get on with the business.
- Mr President -
– What do you want?
– I want to speak to the amendment.
– All right. I cannot deny you the right to speak to the motion.
– I will be very brief. I have never been admitted to the Bar as Senator Wright has, but my limited knowledge of the law tells me that at the present time there are not criminal sanctions for restrictive trade practices except against the consumers in the community. This is the present position. Long before I came into the Senate members of this Parliament were playing around with the restrictive trade practices. Sir Garfield Barwick introduced legislation into this Parliament but he was not allowed to submit it to the Parliament for decision. Subsequently, the very fact that he wanted to submit such legislation caused him to be kicked upstairs into the High Court.
– Order! That is an improper observation.
– We are in a situation tonight where honourable senators opposite are denying this Parliament an opportunity to debate a very important question, although 4 weeks notice of it has been given and the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Murphy) said that a further 4 weeks notice could be given. I think that the matter was summed up by Senator Webster earlier this evening when he expressed his opinion to this chamber. He said that the consumer- and I want honourable senators to note this very carefully- and the very important commercial sector of this country are introduced in this Bill. Senator Webster has no real desire to help the consumer. The only people he wants to help are those in the very important commercial sector. Of course, this is why the delaying tactics are being adopted so the pressures can go on, so the lobbying can go on and so the money from certain organisations will flow into party funds to ensure that this legislation is not carried in this chamber. Tonight we are being denied the right to carry legislation for which the Australian people gave us a mandate in December of last year.
– That mandate is dead and buried.
– The mandate is not dead and buried. It is exactly defined in the policy speech made by the now Prime Minister before he won the last election. The Opposition is saying that after 10 months of government it still needs another 5 months to examine the legislation that it was told would be implemented by this Parliament. What the Opposition is in fact doing is denying the people of this country the right to have a Trade Practices Act which would have teeth. The Opposition wants the operations to continue as they are for at least another 6 months. Then it will come in here and, if the numbers are the same as they are now, it will vote to reject the legislation anyway. Why does the Opposition not have the courage to do this now? Why does it not have the courage to debate this legislation and move amendments during the Committee stage to amend the Act in the way that it thinks it should be framed? The Opposition can make the Act a toothless tiger if it likes but it should have the courage to do so instead of wasting our time all along the line as it is doing now.
Senator Webster put the most pitiful case I have ever heard in my life in relation to this matter because he is not concerned with the’ consumer in the street. He never has been. He indicated that once he worked hard, and I would have liked to see the day. He has been an employer far longer than he has ever been an employee. He said proudly that he had a union ticket on one occasion. I would have liked to see how he observed the union rules. No honourable senator opposite, with the exception perhaps of one or two honourable senators who have some conscience, are interested at all in the consumers of this country. Honourable senators opposite are not interested in seeing that people who are creating rackets in relation to prices come under some trade practice control. Senator Webster has used the phrase- and this has been repeated time and time again to me- ‘commercial sections of the community’. Of course, these sections are fighting to see that this Bill does not see the light of day. They are fighting to see that the Bill is put off and put off. Members of the Opposition are in an invidious position. They do not have the courage to vote against this legislation. They do not have the courage to debate the legislation. All they . want to do is to put off until tomorrow what should be done today in the interests of this nation. I hope that the amendment moved by Senator Murphy is carried.
- Senator Murphy has moved that the debate on this Bill be deferred for 3 weeks from today. The Opposition has moved an amendment that the debate be postponed until the first day of sitting in 1974. The debate that was canvassed this afternoon indicated quite clearly that there were very important matters of concern to the commercial life of this Country which needed to be conveyed to members of the Senate and particularly to the Attorney-General. When I spoke earlier I brought up the point that Senator Murphy, 1 think on 3 October of this year, took the first opportunity after he had laid the Bill down in the Senate, which was on 27 September, to send out telegrams to a variety-
– No. I had sent them out before, as well as copies of the Bill.
-On what date did you send them out?
– I think on the evening and the morning after the Bill was introduced copies of the Bill were sent out and I think telegrams were sent out.
– 1 hope that goes on the record because Senator Murphy has acknowledged that in actual fact he sent telegrams out inviting people to comment on the Bill on the day that he laid the Bill down in the Senate. Members of the Opposition say that there should be an opportunity for commercial interests and for consumer interests to make known their attitude on this Bill. I would have been quite content if some six or eight weeks had been given to the public in general to comment to the Attorney-General on the general terms of the Bill that he has laid down.
I mentioned previously that this is an important Bill. The Bill is made up of some 75 pages and there is such enormous impact associated with it that this socialist administration feels that $250,000 is an adequate penalty in some instances. In America in recent weeks a judge pronounced a fine of about $267m against the International Business Machine Company in a trade practices case. Here was a situation in which the legislation got completely out of control. Thank heavens the judge withdrew his judgment a couple of days later and suggested that he needed to look at it again. 1 suggest that Senator Murphy needs to consider some of the propositions that have been put to him by big and small corporations in relation to this matter. I would be one who would still, on the arguments that I have heard, side with the Opposition’s view that this matter should be postponed until next year even though it may be the wish of the Government that it should introduce this legislation in another place where it may be able to guillotine it through, as it has done time after time with other legislation, and have the Bill pursued in this place. It will be interesting to see 2 like Bills land on the Senate notice paper.
Mr President, you allowed Senator Murphy to go to great lengths to castigate the Opposition. It was an attempt, while Senator Murphy had the air-
– Order! I gave Senator Murphy those rights which he has under the Standing Orders.
-Mr President, you allowed Senator Murphy to castigate the Opposition.
– I did not allow Senator Murphy to castigate the Opposition.
-Senator Murphy castigated
– Order! I gave Senator Murphy the rights which the Standing Orders provide to him. I will not have words put into my mouth.
- Mr President, while Senator Murphy was speaking he castigated the Opposition and he suggested, as had been done in the House of Representatives, that the Liberal Party and the Australian Country Party were acting on the dictates of people beyond this House; that we were attempting to defer this Bill because of financial contributions. This has been the great statement. Here and in another place members of the Labor Party have been attempting for the last few weeks to say to the people of Australia: ‘The Liberal Party is one party which is receiving money from multi-national corporations’. They have been attempting to say also that primary industry has attracted benefits over past years. Ministers in another place have been suggesting that the Country Party has also been the beneficiary of funds from people who are going to benefit from legislation which was passed. I totally object to that type of assertion. I note the words of Senator Murphy. I note them as being words from someone who perhaps knows more about this attraction of funds to political parties and the way that leaders and then politicians perhaps can be led by financial contributions. I note the words used by Senator Murphy: ‘Those who have the money are able to dictate’.
– Like the AMWU ‘s contribution to this Government.
-Senator Greenwood has introduced a point which I did not intend to raise. He makes the point that unions have contributed very basically to Labor Party funds and so those who have the money are able to dictate. I am concerned, Mr President, that a leader of the Government is willing to stand up and criticise the Opposition and suggest that it is taking money for some nefarious purpose to oppose legislation in the Senate which would benefit the people in the community; that it is seeking to delay that legislation so that business will be able to make money whilst it is delayed. I object totally to the words that Senator Murphy used. I only ask Senator Murphy, on information that I have seen in the Press, whether it is a fact that one major department store in this country gave $50,000 to the Labor Party.
It is a very quiet answer that we get from Senator Murphy. But we do know that a great deal of attraction has followed. I read in a newspaper within the last week that the Prices Justification
Tribunal has decided that it will exempt some major departmental stores from an analysis of price rises on goods that they sell. Can there be any connection, Senator Murphy, with the fact that a newspaper published as public knowledge that your party gamed $50,000 from one particular departmental store? I think that is a serious matter. But more serious than that is the general proposition relating to the manufacture of a product in the Australian Capital Territory, one of the most objectionable things dictated by money that has ever happened to a government in the history of Australia. What took place? The Australian Agricultural Council recorded a minute in its books that there shall be no manufacture of margarine in the Australian Capital Territory until the next meeting of the Agricultural Council. Of course, it is not Senator Wriedt ‘s fault. I exonerate him and believe that he is a very honest and truthful man. But Senator Wriedt makes a mistake and so does Mr Enderby. Five weeks before Mr Enderby made a statement one major manufacturing company purchased an establishment in Canberra. Three weeks before he, then Minister for the Capital Territory, made an announcement the company set up its entire manufacturing equipment for the manufacture of margarine in the A.C.T. Then Mr Enderby made this statement: ‘I have decided that I will allow the production of 300 tons of margarine in the A.C.T. ‘. At that stage the Minister had no right to accept that proposition. I have a letter from Mr Enderby as Minister for the Capital Territory which shows, as I knew before I wrote to him, that 2 other applications to produce that product had been made and were on the Ministers desk before he gave the right to the third producer. It was a very interesting situation. Why should a government grant a licence to the third applicant down the line without asking for any inquiry or any other investigation into this matter?
– There should be no licences or necessity for licences anyway.
-We see that the answer from the Attorney-General is not that the publicity was wrong, that this company was one of the Government’s greatest contributors or that the American multi-national advertising agency that the Labor Party engaged to do its publicity work during the election campaign when in fact -
– I rise to a point of order. Surely, Mr President, if the honourable senator wants to discuss these extremely interesting and important matters which concern the public interest he can move a proper motion. If there is to be an investigation of contributions to political parties and how they have affected the carrying on of public affairs I will do everything to facilitate it, but surely it is not the subject matter of this particular debate.
– No. The matter before the Chair at the present moment is whether this Bill be postponed until the first sitting week in 1974 or 3 weeks from today, and I think that honourable senators must debate that issue. I call Senator Webster.
– I was only pointing to 2 particular instances. I imagine that the debate could go on for a long time. I am loath to bring them forward but they worry me very greatly when I hear the Leader of the Government in the Senate stand up and castigate the Liberal Party, incorporate my party in his castigation and say that we are being directed by people outside for a profit motive. I put it back in Senator Murphy’s lap. If he is ever able to get up in this House and say why, in fact, that licence was given to that manufacturing company, I will be delighted to hear him. But if he does, he will come up with the fact that it was because of a financial contribution.
– Order! Senator Webster, I think you have dealt with the subject pretty adequately. I think you might come back to the question of whether this debate be adjourned.
– I doubt that I had dealt with it very adequately, Mr President, but I am willing to take your advice on the general proposition that I have put forward. I hope that it will constrain and restrain the Leader of the Government in the Senate in his objectionable imputations about my Party which has the greatest difficulty in gaining funds throughout the electorate. Senator Murphy spoke with some knowledge on this Bill. He has emphasised by his statements that it should be postponed until early next year and I ask the Senate to endorse that proposition.
– I would like to put the question to the Senate. The question is: That the words proposed to be omitted by Senator Murphy’s amendment be omitted.
That the words proposed to be left out (Senator Murphy’s amendment) be left out.
The Senate divided. (The President- Senator Sir Magnus Cormack )
Question so resolved in the negative.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
That the motion for resumption of debate as amended be agreed to.
The Senate divided. (The President- Senator Sir Magnus Cormack )
Question so resolved in the affirmative
– Earlier today Senator Georges asked me a question relating to his rights in connection with a certain letter. I advise him as follows: An honourable senator may move for the tabling of papers and this procedure is governed by standing order 358. Notice is required of such a motion and the motion would be open to debate. If a paper were tabled notice of motion could be given with reference to the subject matter of the tabled paper. Apart from these proceedings an honourable senator may exploit other procedures such as a personal explanation, an urgency motion, a debate on the first reading of a money Bill, or a debate on the motion for the adjournment of the Senate. In addition, where matters of privilege may be involved, standing orders 1 1 8, and 425 to 427 may be invoked.
– I inform the Senate that notice of introduction of the Trade Practices Bill has now been given to the House of Representatives and reported to the House.
Debate resumed from 25 September (vide page 824), on motion by Senator Wriedt:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– I rise at this hour to debate a Bill which has been on the notice paper of the Senate for quite a considerable time. I understand that it is not proposed to proceed with this Bill tomorrow. I make the comment at the outset that it is a curious form of management, if that is the appropriate word, of the affairs of the Senate that I should be put in this position to begin a speech on a Bill which has languished for so long and which presumably will languish hereafter for another length of time so that I will be part heard when the motion for the adjournment is put at 1 1 o’clock. I mention those facts only because I think the anomalous character and curiosity of them must strike home to every Government senator and give some credence to the Opposition’s claim that we have a curious and totally unsatisfactory form of running the Senate. In this chamber the way in which the Government runs things is comparable to the way it is endeavouring to run this country.
The Bill to which I am addressing myself is the Seas and Submerged Lands Bill 1973 (No. 2) in respect of which the Government claims 2 objectives. It is claimed by the Government that this Bill will remove any doubt about the exclusive right of the Commonwealth to sovereign control over the resources of the seabed off the coast of Australia and its territories. That is the first objective claim. What I have just stated is derived from the second reading speech of the Minister for Primary Industry (Senator Wriedt) in the Senate. The fact that this is totally different from what was claimed to be an objective of this Bill when it was introduced into the House of Representatives apparently escaped the attention of the Minister when he introduced the measure in the Senate. In the House of Representatives it was clearly recognised that there was a doubt as to where sovereignty lay in the off-shore waters and in respect of the air space over the offshore waters and the seabed underneath those waters.
It was stated that this Bill was the vehicle by which the issue could be raised in the courts, and on the challenge being raised, a clarification given by the courts. But the attitude has now changed apparently and the Government now claims that this measure removes all doubts. I simply say that it does no such thing. The second objective claimed for the Bill is that it will provide a legislative framework, a mining code and a regime under which there can be reconnaissance authorities, exploration permits and production licences in respect of minerals which may be found under the seabed in these off-shore areas. It is unquestionably an important Bill and its constitutional significance should not be underrated.
Let me at the outset indicate what the Opposition proposes to do. The Opposition’s attitudeI speak on behalf of the Liberal Party Opposition- is that it will not oppose the second reading of this Bill. But during the debate at the Committee stage, assuming that the Bill passes the second reading stage, the Liberal Party Opposition will seek to delete Part III from the Bill. Part III is the provision which relates to the mining code. I do not propose at this stage to elaborate in detail the reasons why the Opposition will seek to delete Part III of the Bill. I think it is sufficient to say that the mining code which is contained in Part III embodies a scheme that a Senate committee which met over a considerable period in relation to the Petroleum (Submerged Lands) legislation has substantially criticised. It is a scheme which gives to the Minister in charge of the legislation enormously wide discretion which no parliament ought to give to any Minister where the powers are unqualified and not restricted by way of specific criteria as to the manner in which the discretion should be exercised.
While the Opposition will not oppose the second reading of the Bill it nevertheless regards the Government’s introduction of this legislationindeed, its whole approach to this question of who controls or exercises sovereign rights over the off-shore areas- as authoritarian and dictatorial. There is no question- I do not believe that anyone can gainsay this-that State interests, State rights and State responsibilities are clearly involved. They are inherent in the matters which are raised by this legislation. I stress that there has been no co-operation and no attempt at cooperation by the Commonwealth Government with the State governments with regard to this legislation or the objectives of the Commonwealth Government. If one is to accept what the Premier of South Australia has stated publicly, the legislation is contrary to assurances which were given to him shortly after the Federal Government assumed office last December. But the fact that there is no attempt at co-operation is a matter which ought to cause concern to the Senate and which caused concern to the Opposition.
I think the Senate will recall that when a Bill identical to the Bill we are now discussing was before it in May, the Senate expressly deferred consideration of that legislation in order to provide an opportunity for the Government to consult with the State governments on the objectives set out in the legislation. The Government chose not to avail itself of that opportunity. Although it was proposed that the Bill which was adjourned would be an order of the day for the first day of sitting after the Parliament resumed last August, the Government has chosen not to bring that Bill and the associated Bills forward for debate. I referred to that when the Bill now under discussion was brought into the Senate about 3 or 4 weeks ago.
I mention those matters to emphasise that what is being done by the Government in this Bill represents a completely unilateral action. The Opposition would have preferred a course of co-operation to have been pursued. As I said, the consideration of earlier Bills which came into the Senate was expressly adjourned to enable that co-operation to take place. The opportunity was not taken. In this Bill the Government has asserted its sovereignty and imposed its own regime into these off-shore areas. But if the Government’s assertion is wrongly founded the regime, the mining code and the system which it embodies will be in utter confusion. Rights which may be purported to be granted under the mining code inherent in this legislation, if it becomes law and afterwards is found to be invalid in some way, will lack any prior foundation. Expenditure committed or proposed by those who desire to explore and to exploit mineral rights in these offshore areas will be in jeopardy. The consequential effect in so many ways will be enormous.
The Opposition believes that Part HI should not be part of this legislation. To include it in the legislation is inconsistent with the express objectives of the Minister as stated in his second reading speech when he introduced the Bill. He said that this Bill represented an opportunity for those who challenged the Commonwealth’s assertion of sovereignty to take the matter to the court and raise the issue for the court to determine whether the Commonwealth’s assertion was soundly based. I have addressed myself generally to Part III of the legislation. I turn to what is involved in Parts I and II of the Bill. The substantive section is Part II. It purports to deal with the vexing and long disputed question as to where ownership and control- sovereign rights, as the more erudite international lawyers have expounded it- lies with respect to the seas around Australia, the seabed beneath those seas and the air space above the seas. There is no doubt that a real question exists as to where the authority or where the sovereign rights actually lie.
– In which area?
– In regard both to the off-shore waters and the exercising of control throughout the extent of the off-shore waters to some distance of 200 metres or more depth. It exists with regard to the seabed beneath those waters to the extent of 200 metres depth, or further out, if the area can be exploited. In regard to the air space above those waters the question has been raised, and the extent of the real question in those areas is a matter which has not been much canvassed. But I mention those areas because they are the areas to which the Bill refers and about which the Commonwealth is asserting Commonwealth rights.
– I do not mean to interrupt you, but I would have thought that on the area beyond the 3 -mile limit there was scarcely any question.
– I appreciate the point which Senator Wright makes. With all respect to him, I believe that there is a question, although I concede that generally opinion holds to the view that that is part of the high seas or alternatively part of the continental shelf area, in respect of which considerations different from those which relate to the territorial seas must be examined before the necessary answer can be arrived at.
This question as to where authority lies first emerged as a crucial issue in this country in the early 1960s. It was at a time when exploration had suggested to some companies, in particular Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd, as I recollect it, that there was a real prospect of oil discoveries being made in the seabed off parts of the Australian coast. The question arose because companies such as BHP which were prepared to expand moneys in exploration desired to have a security of title so that if they were successful in their quest they would be entitled, without question, to reap the benefits of their discoveries. But the real question lay as to whether they must apply to the State in order to secure from the State Government adjacent to the seabed in respect of which they were searching, the appropriate authorities to explore and if they got an authority to explore to have the exclusive rights of exploration, and if they discovered oil to have the exclusive rights of exploitation in that area. Or did they apply to the Commonwealth Government for those rights? It was a question upon which no one could give a ready answer. I believe that the basic reason why that answer could not be given was that the question had never been a matter of concern until the type of situation in which the question was posed arose.
The case which could be made for the States was a very significant case, as it appeared in 1 962. The States had long exercised an authority in the off-shore waters because they claimed that things which happened in those waters had an affinity, a connection, with the laws which had been passed by the States and on the lawyers doctrine of extra-territoriality, they had a right to exercise jurisdiction in those areas. The precise limits of that jurisdiction, its extent and the matters which it would cover involved further questions. But the Commonwealth Government was also a claimant, and entitled to be a claimant, to exercise authority in that area. The Commonwealth was a claimant because it has, in respect of the nation, which is Australia, the sole, the effective power to act on behalf of Australia in its external relations. The Commonwealth Constitution gave the Commonwealth the power over external affairs. Because there had been an international convention in 1958 which had declared that sovereign rights over the continental shelf area around Australia were vested in the coastal state which was, in the international community, the nation of Australia, within the domestic community the Australian Government claimed the right to exercise, through the Commonwealth Parliament, legislative authority over the offshore areas. It was a significant claim.
In the absence of any decision by that authority which, under the Australian Constitution, has the exclusive right to determine vexing and disputed questions of constitutional law, namely the High Court, it was very difficult to determine which of the 2 authorities had the appropriate jurisdiction. Because these matters were aired at length and in depth before the Senate Select Committee on Off-shore Petroleum Resources by many gentlemen well versed in the law, I recall that the case for the Commonwealth was regarded as a sound case from low-water mark as far out as there was an ability to exploit the seabed areas. But notwithstanding that that sound case existed, the Commonwealth case, as viewed in 1962, was stronger from the 3-mile limit of the territorial seas out to the extremities of the continental shelf and not so strong in the area between low-water mark and the territorial seas limit. On the other hand, the States- and all the States seemed to adhere to the one viewrecognise that their claim to exercise jurisdiction could be more strongly based in the area from low-water to the 3-mile limit and could be less strongly sustained in the area from the 3-mile limit to an area further out.
The significant result of this disputation and the acknowledgment that there was a question on which there was no ready resolution was the fact that, by co-operation and consultation, agreement was arrived at under which, for the purposes of petroleum exploration and exploitation, the whole of the off-shore area came under what could effectively be called joint control. It is a curious form of joint control. It was embodied in the petroleum submerged lands legislation which passed through this Parliament and which, in identical form, passed through each of the State parliaments. It was an epic achievement in co-operative federalism, the like of which had not been seen before and, I suspect, will never be seen again because it probably represented a pinnacle in what co-operation could achieve. It represented the results of cooperation and a concession by the States and the Commonwealth, because the whole of the offshore seabed from low-water mark to the extent to which you could actually explore and exploit was under the control of an authority, which was the State authority. Nevertheless, that State authority agreed, by an agreement entered into by the then Prime Minister and the Premiers, that he would acknowledge the superior authority of the relevant Commonwealth Ministers in the specified areas of Commonwealth interest. I say that it is unlikely that that type of scheme will ever again be presented in this country because the Committee which the Senate appointed, virtually as the condition upon which the legislation passed through the Senate, reported that there were some aspects of constitutional responsibilities in which the legislation was deficient. I do not embark upon a discussion of the aspects in relation to which the Committee made that conclusion. I simply relate that fact because it ought to be recognised by those who contemplate that that scheme might possibly be used for other purposes.
I think the Senate is conscious of the constitutional responsibilities within the concept of ministerial responsibility, and I believe that it would regard that matter as a fundamental matter of importance if legislation of that character was brought forward again. But the position remains that there is still an uncertainty with regard to a host of matters which are not covered by the petroleum submerged lands legislation. As I understand the position, it is to clarify the doubts which exist with regard to those matters that this Bill is introduced. I feel that it is appropriate to elaborate those matters by referring to the report of the Senate Select Committee on Offshore Petroleum Resources, which I propose to do.
– 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.
– I take the opportunity on the motion for the adjournment to make a brief announcement on behalf of the Minister for Transport (Mr Charles Jones) in regard to the survivors of the ship ‘Blythe Star’. I know all honourable senators will join with me in expressing our heartfelt relief to know that 7 of the 10 crewmen of the freighter ‘Blythe Star’, which has been missing since she left Hobart on 12 October bound for King Island, have been found safe. They were found late this afternoon on the eastern side of Tasman Peninsula after they drifted ashore on a life raft, and 3 of them made their way to the township of Dunalley and gave the alarm. A helicopter on charter to the Federal Department of Transport, which has been continuing the search, has collected the 4 men who were left on the beach, and they are now receiving medical attention in Hobart Hospital. I also must advise the Senate that 3 of the crew did not survive.
I know the Senate joins me in expressing the sympathy of the Australian Government to the relatives and friends of these men. The survivors are: The master, Captain Cruikshank; The cook, Alfred Simpson; The bosun, S. Leary; and Seamen, Cliff Langford, Malcolm McCarroll, Lenton Power, and M. T. Doleman. I understand the survivors have told officials that their ship sank off South West Cape on Saturday morning, 13 October, in relatively calm seas.
The Minister for Transport is sending a senior officer of the search and rescue section of his Department to Hobart to co-ordinate enquiries into that aspect so that the Government may be fully informed. As Mr Jones announced last Sunday, the Government shall be seeking a full and far ranging inquiry into the sinking of the ‘Blythe Star’, and I shall be reporting to the Senate further on this matter later. A preliminary investigation will commence as soon as possible.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 11.2 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated:
Tasmanian Tin Mines: Revaluation Compensation
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:
A continuing review of drugs and quantities available is maintained to ensure that adequate treatment is available to sufferers of chronic conditions, having regard to the requirements of State legislation and the interests of the patient’s health.
Conference on Business Opportunities in the Pacific (Question No. 477)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs, upon notice:
– The Minister for Foreign Affairs has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs, upon notice:
– The Minister for Foreign Affairs has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
asked the Special Minister of State, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
Information requested by the honourable senator as supplied by Departments for the period 2 December to 7 June 1 973 is set out in the following table:
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 24 October 1973, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1973/19731024_senate_28_s57/>.