29th Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Justin O’Byrne) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
-I present the following petition from 66 citizens of Australia:
To the Honourable the President and Members of the Senate in Parliament assembled: The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
a ) that for religion to be spiritual, and government to be liberal and egalitarian, religion and government need to be kept separate.
that this principle is fully recognised in Section 1 16 of the Australian Constitution.
that the taxing of any citizens to propagate or support any religion is contrary to this principle, and a violation of human rights.
Your petitioners humbly pray that Part II, Section 3, of the proposed Bill of Human Rights, which now reads:
No one shall be subject to coercion which will impair his freedom to have or to adopt a belief or religion of his choice, be amended to read further: and no revenue derived in any way from any Australian citizen shall be appropriated by the Australian Government, or by a State Government, or by a Municipal Government, for the propagation or support of any religion.
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray.
Petition received and read. A petition in identical terms from 23 citizens of Australia was presented by Senator Carrick.
-I present the following petition from 72 citizens of Australia:
To the Honourable the President and Members of the Senate in Parliament assembled: The humble petition of undersigned citizens of Australia respectively showeth:
That, as the World resources of fossil fuels and fissionable material have a limited life and will present growing environmental problems.
We taxpayers of Australia request that the Australian Government provide increased finance to accelerate the research and development of Solar Energy in Australia.
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray.
Petition received and read.
– I present the following petition from 38 citizens of Australia:
To the Honourable the President and members of the Senate in Parliament assembled: That whereas our National Anthem, ‘God Save The Queen’, is a perpetual reminder of the Monarchy as a major feature of our Constitutional heritage;
And whereas the changing of the National Anthem without consulting all the people would deprive the electors of their right to a free choice on such a major question;
Therefore your Petitioners most humbly pray that the Senate, in Parliament assembled, will take the most urgent steps to ensure the right of every Australian elector to have a vote at a National Referendum, Senate or Federal Elections for the retention of the present National Anthem ‘God Save The Queen ‘, before the Commonwealth Government attempts to substitute a new Anthem.
And your Petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray.
Petition received and read.
– I give notice that on the next day of sitting I shall move:
-I give notice that on the next day of sitting I will move that a select committee of the Senate be established to inquire into and report on the civil rights of migrant Australians. I do not propose to take up the time of the Senate by reading the resolution in full, but its purpose is to enable the task assigned to a previous committee to be completed. The terms of this resolution are similar to an earlier resolution with one important exception, and this relates to the membership of the committee. This variation is necessary because of the change in parties represented in the Senate. Copies of the resolution will be circulated to honourable senators.
– I have 2 contingent notices of motion. By way of explanation, I point out that they are 2 contingency motions that I had put down last year. The 2 contingent notices of motion are as follows:
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent Senator Withers moving a motion relating to the order of business on the notice paper.
That questions without notice be further proceeded with.
– I give notice of motion as follows: Contingent on the President proceeding to the placing of business on any day, I shall move:
That so much of the standing orders be suspended as would prevent Senator Drake-Brockman moving a motion relating to the order of business on the notice paper.
-I give notice that on the next day of sitting I shall move:
1 ) That the Senate believes that the system of imposed regionalism being effected by the Minister for Urban and Regional Development under the Grants Commission Act 1973 will promote centralised direction and control of regional activities and destroy the ability of local government to respond to the needs and aspirations of its citizens, and further urges State governments and local authorities to be active in promoting and maintaining basic democracy by safeguarding the rights of local government bodies so that they are responsible to those who elect them for the policies they pursue, and (2) that the President of the Senate is directed to convey the text of this resolution-
Economic Consequences of a 35-Hour Week
-I give notice that on the next day of sitting I shall move:
That the Standing Committee on Industry and Trade consider and report upon the matter originally referred to the Committee on 18 September 1973 namely:
The economic consequences of the introduction of a 35-hour week and that the Committee have power to consider and use motions, transcripts of evidence and other records including draft reports, advisory papers, submissions, correspondence and other documents of the Standing Committee.
-I give notice that on the next day of sitting I shall move:
That discrimination by the Labor Government against rural industries and the community dependent upon them is adversely affecting the economy and the welfare of the nation and many of its citizens.
- Mr President, before we proceed to questions I should inform the Senate that Senator Cavanagh is ill today and unable to be present. I shall receive the questions which would be directed to the honourable senator; that is those covering Aboriginal affairs, transport, and housing and construction.
-My question is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. I would remind Senator Murphy of his question to the then Leader of the Government in the Senate, Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson, on 14 May 1970 as recorded at page 1448 of the Senate Hansard, which reads:
My question is also directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate, who represents both the Prime Minister and the Treasurer in this chamber. At the same time as he asks the Prime Minister whether the beneficial results of the increased interest charges should be explained to the people of Australia will he also ask whether the appropriate Government spokesman could explain in clear terms to the people of Australia how it can possibly advance the economic well-being of Australia to have hundreds of thousands of families forced to pay higher interest rates on mortgages on their homes and how it advances the economic prosperity of this country to have hundreds of thousands of people unable to obtain loans at present in order to acquire homes?
How does Senator Murphy reconcile his previous attitude with the present Government’s policy of applying the most savage interests rates ever applied over the whole spectrum of Australia’s economic activity?
– I suppose one should extend the old proverb about not writing books to not asking questions which might come back to oneself one day. I think it is a fair matter which the Leader of the Opposition has raised but it is appropriate that a statement explaining what the Government is doing be made by the Treasurer. I should, in fairness to the Leader of the Opposition, remind him of the fact that he and his Party have strenuously opposed the endeavours of the Government to cope with inflation. The Senate will recall that during the latter part of 1973 and the first half of 1974 the Leader of the Opposition and his Party refused to allow to come to debate the important legislation on trade practices and consumer protection which would have assisted the Government. The Opposition attitudes on these matters were so clear in endeavouring to obstruct the Government in its management of the economy that when the Opposition foolishly brought about the double dissolution its members got their deserts. We are pleased to see that our numbers on this side have increased and the Opposition, with its satellites the Democratic Labor Party, has lost the absolute majority which it had in this chamber.
-Has the AttorneyGeneral observed the proliferation of goon squads masquerading as private security agencies in the community which was epitomised in yesterday’s Melbourne incident when private security agents almost garroted a Press photographer? Will he have immediate talks with Commonwealth and State police to purge such elements from their present bludger occupations and put them back to productive employment?
-Without accepting the descriptions which the honourable senator has used may I say that concern has been expressed by many in the community including the various police forces about the proliferation of these private agencies and the virtual armies which have been set up. Of course these persons are subject to the laws of the State and the Commonwealth in the same way as other people and if there is a breach of those laws by way of assault or intimidation or anything of that nature it is open to a citizen to invoke either criminal or civil law. In regard to the Commonwealth itself I think these agencies operate only in relation to airports -
– I rise to order, Mr President. I understand this question is on the notice paper. Was it in order for the honourable senator to ask it in this form?
– I have allowed the question to be asked. I think we will let the Leader of the Government answer it.
-To which question is the honourable senator adverting?
– Number 3.
-I do not know that that is the precise question that I was asked. The honourable senator may be partly right but I have virtually ended my answer. This matter ought to be discussed and it will be discussed by me with the Commissioner of the Commonwealth Police in order to see whether the system operates satisfactorily in the areas for which the Australian Government is responsible.
-My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Overseas Trade. I ask: Did the Australian clothing and textile industries warn the Government after the 25 per cent tariff cuts last July that many Australian manufacturers would be unable to. maintain viable industries in the face of a flood of cheap imports? If so, why has the Government waited until some sections of the industry have suffered severe hardship before granting relief by way of import restrictions? Can yesterday’s decision be taken as a forerunner of action to be taken to rescue other industries ailing as a result of the Government’s tariff policies?
– It is true that yesterday Dr Cairns had consultations with representatives of the Australian Council of Trade Unions in respect of textile imports. It is quite true, as Senator Drake-Brockman has pointed out, that the textile industry is one of those industries which have been affected by the 25 per cent tariff cut.
– By Government policy.
– It was a policy that was welcomed by the sector of the community which Senator Webster claims to represent. It is interesting to note that this Government had the courage to take a step which its predecessors over many years were not prepared to take. The Government recognised that the reduction in tariffs would bring problems and we, as a Government, have watched carefully the effect of that action. We have also implemented a policy of structural change within the Australian economy whereby we will assist industries which are affected as a result of Government decisions- an initiative that has never previously been taken in Australia. I cannot speak for Dr Cairns as to whether or not this is the forerunner of similar action which will be taken by the Government, but I am sure that he, as always, will be mindful of the effects which these tariff cuts have had upon the industries concerned.
-Can the Minister representing the Minister for Defence inform me whether it is the intention to continue training Indonesian servicemen in interrogation methods at Woodside army camp?
– There has been recent publicity about this training at Woodside in South Australia. I would like to assure the Senate that in fact the development of interrogators is not the design or intention of the Army in respect of providing assistance to foreign students in that area. The work at Woodside is connected mainly with basic operational intelligence work. It is confined to that. Some instructions are given in respect of interrogation, but this is done only to make them familiar with such methods; it is certainly not done in order to train them to be interrogators in their own country.
-My question is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate in his capacity as the Minister representing the Prime Minister. I refer to the correspondence which passed between the GovernorGeneral and the Prime Minister prior to the double dissolution and which the Prime Minister made available to the Press. I ask: Is there any ground of public policy why the attachments and the opinions of the Attorney-General and the Solicitor-General which are referred to in that correspondence have not been made public? Is there any reason why the Prime Minister has not replied to my request asking that they be made public? Will the Leader of the Government in the Senate take up this matter with the Prime Minister with a view to ascertaining whether all the documents which passed can be made available to the public before the Bills to which the double dissolution related come up for debate in this chamber?
– I certainly will take up the matter with the Prime Minister. I do not know whether there is any reason why the attachments cannot be made public. I cannot really recall what the attachments were. There was at least one legal opinion that I can recall. I cannot see any great reason why the contents of those documents should not be revealed. It may be that if there is some litigation pending, as was suggested in one of the newspaper articles by some legal politician that I read, the opinion ought not to be made public before the action. But even that may not be a weighty consideration. I will take up the matter and see whether the honourable senators request can be acceded to.
– Is the Minister representing the Minister for Social Security aware of the growing disenchantment of doctors with their industrial organisation, the Australian Medical Association? Is the Minister aware that several hundred doctors met in Sydney last Friday to establish a doctors’ reform society, following the example of their colleagues in Victoria early this year? Can the Minister say whether there now is evidence that more and more doctors are supporting the Australian Government and its national health scheme designed, as it is, to give all Australians a more adequate and equitable health service?
– I refer the Minister for the Media to his address at the National Seminar on Public Broadcasting on 3 July. The Minister stated that the report of the commissioners at the independent inquiry on frequency modulation broadcasting had been accepted in principle by the government. My question relates to the recommendation that in the initial allocation of frequency modulation licences in the Sydney area slightly more than 40 per cent should be for community and public access stations. I ask: Is it a fact that a plan, included in a submission to the Priorities Review Staff with regard to frequency modulation broadcasting, does not uphold this recommendation and will reduce the proportion of public access stations to a national basis of about 20 per cent?
– Any suggestion that the Department of the Media or the Government has made any firm decisions on the allocation of new frequency modulation or amplitude modulation stations is wrong. Firstly, let me say that this government established an independent committee of inquiry to inquire into and report upon the introduction of frequency modulation broadcasting in Australia. The report was tendered to the Government earlier this year, and in conformity with the Government’s principle of open government I tabled the report in the Parliament. I made a statement at that time that the Government accepted in principle the recommendations of the McLean Committee. In looking at the generality of the introduction of frequency modulation the Prime Minister, after discussions with me, decided that the easiest, best and most expeditious way of handling the matter, because there is a great multiplicity of government departments that naturally are interested in the subject, would be for the Priorities Review Staff to advise the Goverment on the question generally. My Department and a number of other departments either have submitted or will be submitting working papers for the consideration of the Priorities Review Staff in its deliberations. My Department, during the course of its working paper, presented a plan which it thought might be of assistance to the Priorities Review Staff in its formative stages. It then would have to take into account working papers, plans and submissions presented by a great number of other departments, such as the Department of the Treasury, the Prime Minister’s Department and the Department of Urban and Regional Development. I can assure the honourable senator that no definitive statement has been made on the matter by my Department to the Priorities Review Staff. We have just presented a working plan for the consideration of the Priorities Review Staff.
– I ask the Postmaster-General whether it is intended to establish a Post Office courier service to operate in competition with privately owned courier services.
-The Post Office presently is preparing a scheme which will result in a courier service being established some time during 1975. It will be necessary to bring forward legislation in respect to the scheme. The scheme will provide a courier service in competition with the existing private schemes and will be largely based on providing a messenger service which will ensure that more urgent postal articles may be more speedily dealt with between the customer and the various post offices.
– I call Senator Townley.
-May I say, Mr President, that I am grateful that your years of service in the Senate have not dimmed your eyes so that you cannot see this far back in the chamber. I direct my question to the Minister representing the Minister for Transport. No doubt the Minister is aware of the engineers’ strike which is tying up a great deal of shipping to and from Tasmania and which is now resulting in considerable loss of employment in Tasmania. Will the Minister say what action the Department has taken to try to relieve this burden which affects Tasmania so unfairly? Will he confer with his ministerial colleagues with a view to having Tasmanian bound ships exempted from such a tie-up in any similar situations which may occur in the future?
-I am unable to answer the honourable senator’s question, but I will have the matter taken up with the Minister for Transport today and I will endeavour to answer the honourable senator today, if possible or, if not, tomorrow.
-Will the Minister for the Media tell the Senate what progress has been made with plans for the establishment of the proposed Australian Film Commission which was referred to in the Governor-General’s Speech? Further, when can we expect to see in the Senate legislation for this purpose?
– It is true, as Senator McAuliffe has said, that the Governor-General’s Speech indicated that the Government proposes to proceed with the introduction of legislation for the establishment of a new Australian Film Commission, and the drafting of legislation for this purpose is practically in its final stages. Recently I had discussions with the interim board of the Australian Film Commission, which was appointed by the Government earlier this year, on the Commission’s establishment, and I have now provided the interim board with guidelines for its deliberations. I understand that the interim board has already had some negotiations or is in the course of having negotiations with the Public Service Board on the initial staffing establishment of a section of the Commission, but the detailed planning for its establishment is still under way. All being well, I am hopeful of being able to introduce in the Budget session of the Parliament legislation to establish the Commission.
-My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Manufacturing Industry. Is it a fact that manufacturing industry in Australia employs 25 per cent of the Australian work force? Is it also a fact that as well as producing 20 per cent of the export income manufacturing adds one-third to the gross national product? Does the Minister not agree that the confused economic and tariff policies of the Government have threatened employment and, therefore, living standards and the general economic well-being and prosperity of the Australian people?
– It is a question of judgment and individual opinion as to whether the things of which Senator Cotton accused the Government are correct. It is certainly not true to say that there is an atmosphere of uncertainty. I forget his exact words, but he used words to that effect. The Government is endeavouring- there is certainly no confusion in this regard- to encourage in this country the formation of efficient industries, in both the manufacturing sector and the agricultural sector. As I said in reply to a question asked by Senator DrakeBrockman earlier, the Government is taking the necessary action to assist the industries which are affected by these policies. We have already announced the formation of the Structural Adjustment Board which will investigate and make recommendations to the Government on assistance to those industries. I am quite sure that, given the proper course which is being followed by the Government, we will see a more efficient role for industry in this country, especially in the manufacturing sector.
– My question is directed to the Minister for the Media. As there seems to be an increase in the launching of new cigarette brands, is the phasing out of cigarette advertising proceeding?
-The honourable senator will know that the Government decided, as part of its policy, to eliminate cigarette and cigarette tobacco advertising on radio and television and that it decided to embark on a program of phasing out this advertising rather than banning it completely. The phasing out commenced on 1 September of last year. The second stage of the phasing out of cigarette and cigarette tobacco advertising on radio and television- newspapers not being within the constitutional purview of the Australian Government- will begin on 1 September next. No cigarette advertisements will be allowed on television before 9.30 p.m., which, of course, is after prime viewing time. No cigarette advertisements will be allowed on radio between 6 a.m. and 8.30 a.m. or between 2.30 p.m. and 8.30 p.m. There appears to have been a last ditch attempt to launch new brands of cigarettes. Experience in the United States of America has shown that it is virtually impossible to do this successfully without the help of television. In the first year of our program there has been a complete embargo on cigarette advertising on radio during the periods from 6 a.m. to 8.30 a.m. and 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. There has been also a provision that not more than 3 advertisements an hour will be permitted to be broadcast at other times. There has been an embargo on television advertising of cigarettes at all times except for the period between 8.30 p.m. and the close of transmission, at which time no more than 2 advertisements an hour are permitted. As from 1 September next, no cigarette advertisements will be allowed on television before 9.30 p.m.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Foreign Affairs. It refers to the tragic and chronic drought in Ethiopia and other pans of the African continent which has resulted, as the Minister would know, in widespread famine, disease and death, particularly among tens of thousands of infants and children. In view of the continued onset of this calamity and the unlikelihood of any seasonal relief in the many months ahead, I ask: Has the Government increased its contribution of essential foods and medical supplies to these countries in the past 3 months? If so, what was the nature and magnitude of the additional supplies? If not, will the Government, as a matter of real urgency and in simple humanity, immediately make substantial additional contributions, with guarantees of continued supplies, and ensure the speediest possible transport-by air if possible- of these supplies?
-Senator Carrick was quite right in his reference to the continuing drought. As honourable senators know, a little while ago it was concentrated in the area of Ethiopia and across the belt through Chad and Mauritania. Unfortunately the drought has been shifting further south with a lot of side effects, such as the spreading of the Sahara Desert. Senator Carrick asked what has been done in the last 3 months. I wish he had said Vh months because 3y2 months ago we gave an additional $100,000 to the Sahelian Trust Fund. I looked at a paper only yesterday, after I had returned from overseas, as to further contributions in that respect. That is separate from the amount of nearly Sim that we gave to the Ethiopian area. The answer is yes, we gave an additional amount of 5100,000 in March of this year and we have the matter under very close surveillance. We are also watching what the general contributions will be. My disposition at the moment is to link the contribution with those general contributions about which I understand we will be hearing in a very short space of time.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Customs and Excise. Newspaper reports circulated recently suggest that the Department of Customs and Excise has been examining imports to see whether the currency revaluations and duty reductions that came into effect last year have resulted in lower prices of imports. The action taken by the Government was announced as being part of its policy to counter inflationary movements. Could the Minister advise the Senate whether those newspaper reports are accurate and, if so, the outcome of such investigations by the Department?
-The Senate will be aware that the Department of Customs and Excise now uses a computer for a number of its operations. This has resulted in a significant reduction in costs and an ability to make comparative assessments of various imports and exports. The Department has been able to use it recently in undertaking a review of the landed costs of imported goods and how they have varied over the past 12 months. The result shows that in a number of years the landed cost of imports has been reduced significantly but it would appear that in many cases the reductions have not been passed on to consumers but have resulted in higher and perhaps successive markups by importers and wholesalers. That information has been made available to the Prices Justification Tribunal and the matter is under consideration by the Government.
-I direct to the Minister representing the Minister for Manufacturing Industry a question along similar lines to those which were asked previously by Senator Cotton and Senator Drake-Brockman. I refer to a statement made today by the managing director of Philips Industries Ltd. Has the Minister noted this statement which suggests that the company is considering the retrenchment of employees at its manufacturing plant at Hendon, South Australia? Has he noted the suggestion that some 200 employees will be retrenched very shortly and that by the end of next year it is quite likely that this factory will have to be closed? I want to know what the Government is doing about this specific area of difficulty because it is of great significance to South Australia. I believe that if this factory does close it could well herald the end of the electronics industry in Australia.
-I have seen the report referred to by the honourable senator. As he has said, this is a specific area and therefore I think I should leave it to the Minister responsible to provide an answer. I shall inform him of the question.
– My question is directed to the Attorney-General. Is he aware that it is now 24 years since the laws of this Parliament were consolidated? Does he recall informing the Senate in October last year that a new consolidation of Australian Acts would take place this year? Can he inform the Senate on what progress has been made in this consolidation? Are we likely to see any results this year?
– Yes, we are likely to see some results this year. I told the Senate in October last year that steps had been taken to consolidate the statutes. This had been promised many years ago by the previous Administration but it abandoned the project. It is proposed that the laws of this Parliament from 1 90 1 to 1 973 be consolidated into about 1 1 volumes which will include the appropriate indexing. The Statute Law Revision Act which was passed by this Parliament last year made it possible to get rid of some of the dead wood, that is, those Acts which were out of date or no longer effective, and the new volumes will therefore be as uncluttered as is possible. The latest techniques in computer storage have been used in conjunction with new printing equipment now used by the Government Printer. There were some initial technical problems in the printing of the first volume but these have been resolved. I am given to understand that the first volume of the consolidation will be available not later than 9 September this year. The other volumes will be published at approximately monthly intervals. The last volume is scheduled to be available not later than July next year.
-My question which is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Labor and Immigration is supplementary to the question asked earlier by Senator Jessop in relation to the Philips Industries Ltd plant at Hendon in South Australia. Is the Minister aware that this firm has indicated that Australian electronics engineers who would be retrenched as a result of a fall in production would be unable to find employment if the local electronics industry went under? Has the Government received representations relating to this matter? If so, has there been any response? More particularly, does the Government propose to embark upon some early retraining program for these highly skilled people?
– I am aware that some discussions have already taken place, related more precisely to the Minister for Overseas Trade and the Minister for Manufacturing Industry, in which discussions Mr Cameron participated. In those discussions there certainly were assurances given that the Government accepted that the capacity to produce those electronic items ought to be maintained. A related subsidy was determined in respect to one item. So some consideration has already been given to the position of Philips Industries and the general position of the electronics industry. As the honourable senator knows, Mr Cameron has announced a retraining program in addition, of course, to the other redundancy program. Although the scheme is not yet under way, its preliminary organisation is being considered by the Department of Labor and Immigration and if anybody is made redundant I would think that the legislation would be brought forward in a hurry and would cover the position of workers made redundant. The discussions between the relevant Ministers will no doubt have a beneficial effect upon the Philips enterprise.
– My question is directed to the Minister for the Media and follows a question asked earlier on the subject of AM and FM broadcasting. How far advanced are the plans of the Department of the Media for the granting of licences for frequency modulation stations? Is it a fact that the Department plans to establish 88 new stations in AM and FM broadcasting, as reported in the Press?
-The question asked by my colleague, Senator Devitt, is very much akin to the question asked by Senator Guilfoyle. My Department, along with other
Departments, is engaged only in presenting working plans to the Priorities Review Staff which has been assigned by the Prime Minister to the task of sorting out the great multiplicity of working plans that can be devised for the introduction of frequency modulation in connection with an expansion of AM radio services. As the honourable senator will know, during the course of the McLean committee’s taking of evidence it was ascertained by the Government, following advice received from the Australian Broadcasting Control Board, that the existing AM radio spectrum could be considerably expanded or better utilised and plans for the introduction of frequency modulation are being drawn up taking into account the additional availability of the AM spectrum.
-I direct my question to the Minister representing the Treasurer. Yesterday the Governor-General referred to the continuance of the credit squeeze. I ask the Minister this simple question: In an era of excessive prices, what is the purpose of the Government forcing up the price of money in the form of interest rates, and secondly, what is the purpose of the Government restricting to 4 per cent the interest on small savings bank deposits of under $4,000
-I think it is only wise that Senator Wright should get a full answer from the Treasurer to that question and I will obtain it for him.
– My question is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate who represents the Minister for Transport. Will he obtain a statement for the Senate within a reasonable time giving details of all types of ships being purchased or constructed for the Australian Government, indicating the tonnage, estimated cost, projected date of delivery and the place of purchase or construction of each vessel? Will he also advise the Senate whether there are any shipbuilding yards in Australia not fully engaged in ship construction, refitting or repair?
-I will certainly pass the question along to the Minister for Transport for his consideration.
-I direct a question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate and refer to the recent atmospheric nuclear tests conducted by France and the People’s Republic of
China. As the Australian Government is unable to take action against China in the World Court as it can against France, will the Leader of the Government request the Prime Minister to consider instructing the Deputy Prime Minister, Dr J. F. Cairns, to cancel his planned visit to China to open the Peking fair as a form of protest? Would the Leader of the Government regard such a step as an effective form of protest at China’s continuing and callous disregard of the welfare of its people and of the people of the world? Does the Leader of the Government believe the Chinese Government will take more notice of Dr Cairn’s plaintive protest than it did of the Prime Minister’s?
-The Australian Government, through the Prime Minister, has already made an emphatic protest against the conduct of the nuclear tests by the Government of the People’s Republic of China. I will pass the question to the Prime Minister to see whether he wishes to respond further to the suggestion made by the honourable senator.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Labor and Immigration. Has the Government decided on a large scale retraining program, costing many millions of dollars, for employees of industry? If so, does this indicate that the Government agrees with the Minister for Labor and others who predict that unemployment will increase substantially by the end of the year in many industries?
-The Minister for Labor and Immigration has stated that in his opinion it is likely that unemployment will increase. Being an honest Minister he has made the point, but he has taken action to make sure -
– Because of inflation.
– There are factors besides inflation of which account must be taken. There are some changing roles in industry. But what the Minister has done, as the honourable senator mentions, is to bring forward- the Government has approved this- a very comprehensive system of retraining. He hopes that the retraining system will be able to absorb the people who might be unemployed. It is the intention of the Government to so absorb those people, to retrain them and to put them in occupations and industries in which they would be usefully employed as productive elements in the workforce. Certainly, that will cost a great deal of money. The whole scheme is being re-organised and I would think that the reports in connection with it will be available to the Senate within a few days.
-I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Manufacturing Industry. It follows on questions asked earlier in respect of the retrenchments of employees at the Hendon works of Philips Industries in Adelaide. Has the Minister seen a very forthright statement made by the chairman of Philips Industries yesterday that these retrenchments were due directly to tariff cuts introduced by the Government? In view of the extreme urgency of this matter will the Government take immediate action to give the necessary protection to this industry which is vitally important to our State and to the nation?
-It is understandable that all of us are concerned when the effects of the tariff cuts are felt as they are now being felt in the case of Philips Industries. I indicated earlier that I would refer the specific question to the Minister responsible. I think it should be said that the Government has taken the necessary steps by establishing the adjustment agency which has been able to create the machinery whereby a firm such as Philips Industries can make an application for assistance under the scheme. The proposed legislation will provide no statutory limits to the amounts of compensation which such firms may seek. At the same time, employees of such industries will be entitled to their average weekly earnings, calculated over a period of the previous six months, in the event that they are rendered unemployed as the result of government decision. I do not think the Government could have acted more promptly than it has. The important thing is that the machinery is established and a firm such as Philips Industries will be able to avail itself of that machinery. Insofar as this specific company is concerned, I can only repeat that I will obtain more specific information from my colleague the Minister.
– I direct a question to the Minister for the Media. Can the Minister inform the Senate of the reasons for the delay in providing television coverage for some towns in western Queensland? Can he advise also when it is expected that the current program of establishing new television stations in western Queensland will be completed?
– I have heard a lot of questioning in this Senate about the alleged neglect by the Government of the rural industries. I think that if the honourable senator looks at the record of this Government on the provision of radio and television services to rural areas he will find that it is second to none. I think that for the provision and extension of television services to Queensland this Government’s record compares very favourably with that of the Government of which the honourable senator was a supporter. I can tell the honourable senator, however, that the Postmaster-General is responsible for the construction of many of the masts and installations. A lot of this work is let out on a sub-contractual basis and it has been the difficulties of sub-contractors and not of the PostmasterGeneral’s Department or of my Department that have been responsible for some small delay that has been occasioned from time to time. I know that the Postmaster-General’s Department is working on the matter and I can assure the honourable senator that everything that can be done is being done.
– My question is directed to the Postmaster-General. Does the Government intend to table or otherwise publish the report of the Vernon Royal Commission into the Post Office which was submitted to the Government at least 3 months ago? If so, when is it intended that the report should be tabled?
-The tabling of the report will be in the hands of the Special Minister of State. It is being considered by the Government. As the honourable senator has no doubt heard, without revealing the nature of the report, it is a very extensive and comprehensive report with many documents attached to it. It is still being considered. I am not in a position to tell the honourable senator- and 1 do not think that Mr Bowen is- exactly when the report will be tabled. However, as the honourable senator mentioned it privately to me, as soon as it is tabled I will certainly make sure that he, as the shadow Minister concerned with the Post Office, gets copies of it. We will do this as speedily as possible.
– May I add to an answer that I gave earlier to the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. He asked me about some double disollution documents. 1 have had sent into me a note from the liaison officer to the Prime Minister, which reads:
The Prime Minister today, in answer to a question about the double disollution documents, said the papers would be available on Tuesday next for tabling. He was waiting for them to be printed.
– For the information of honourable senators I present an information booklet entitled ‘Australian Government Assistance to Local Government Projects’. This is a guide to sources of funds and how to apply for them.
– For the information of honourable senators I present a report entitled ‘Development of AlburyWodonga’. This report is about the initial policies and plans of the Albury-Wodonga Development Corporation for the growth of this city.
– For the information of honourable senators I present the report by Professor A. H. Pollard and Mr G. L. Melville on the Treasurer’s proposals for a new superannuation scheme for Australian Government employees dated 5 June 1974.
– For the information of honourable senators I present a Green Paper entitled ‘Rural Policy in Australia’ which was prepared by a working group commissioned by the Prime Minister on 14 December 1973.
– I table the report of the inquiry into national compensation and rehabilitation. I seek leave to make a statement.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Webster)- Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– As honourable senators are aware, this inquiry was commissioned by the Government early in 1973 to inquire into and report on the scope and form of and the manner of instituting and administering a national rehabilitation and compensation scheme appropriate to Australia for the purpose of rehabilitating and compensating every person who, at any time, suffers a personal injury, whether the injury be sustained on the roads, at work or elsewhere. Mr Justice A. O. Woodhouse, D.S.C., of the New Zealand Court of Appeal, was Chairman of the Inquiry and we are indebted to the Government of New Zealand which so freely made his services available. Mr Justice C. L. D. Meares, Justice of the Supreme Court of New South Wales, and the Chairman of the New South Wales Law reform Commission, was the other member of the inquiry and I should like to place on record the Australian Government’s appreciation of the action of the New South Wales Government in making him available for this task.
In February 1974, the Government extended the terms of reference of the Inquiry to include consideration in respect of persons who suffer physical or mental incapacity or deformity by reason of sickness or congenital defect. The report I now table was presented to the Prime Minister on Thursday, 27 June. It covers the compensation aspects of the Inquiry’s findings. A separate report on rehabilitation and safety will be presented soon.
The recommendations of the Committee are far-reaching and would have wide impact on the Australian community. I welcome them as a further major contribution to the fulfilment of the intention of the Government, and the Australian Labor Party as a whole, to make an appropriate national compensation and rehabilitation scheme available to all Australians. The report is well considered and offers some challenging criticism of existing systems and practices in this field. They warrant close consideration and thought.
Honourable senators will notice that the report, and the draft Bill contained in the appendix to the report, both refer to the publication Guide to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment’ published by the American Medical Association. For the convenience of honourable senators, copies of this publication have been placed in the Parliamentary Library, where they are available for perusal. The Government will examine the report closely in furtherance of its intention to institute a national compensation and rehabilitation scheme in Australia as soon as this is practicable.
As the report covers many important issues, possibly affecting every person in Australia, arrangements have been made for it to be widely available. It is hoped that copies will be on sale through the Australian Government Publishing Service in about a fortnight’s time. I commend the report for the consideration of honourable senators.
– I give notice that on the next day of sitting I shall move:
That, in pursuance of section 13 of the Constitution of the Commonwealth, the senators chosen for each State shall be divided into 2 classes as follows:
The name of the senator first elected shall be placed first on the senator’s roll for each State and the name of the senator next elected shall be placed next and so on in rotation.
The senators whose names are placed first, second, third, fourth and fifth on the roll shall be senators of the second class, that is, the long-term senators; and senators whose names are placed sixth, seventh, eighth, ninth and tenth on the roll shall be senators of the first class, that is, the short-term senators.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Webster)- Is notice of motion No. 1 standing in the name of Senator Rae relating to the Securities and Exchange Committee formal or not formal?
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT-Is notice of motion No. 2 standing in the name of Senator Durack formal or not formal?
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- If Senator Murphy seeks leave to make a statement the Senate may grant him leave.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– I thank those who have drawn my attention to the fact that reference to this matter appears on the white business sheet which has been circulated. Procedure is a matter of very great importance.
The note at the bottom of the white business sheet states:
If a Notice of Motion is declared Formal it will be put forthwith and determined without amendment or debate. Any Senator may object to a Notice being declared Formal, in which case it will be listed for debate at a subsequent time.
In other words, non-contentious matters may be disposed of forthwith, but matters in respect of which there is some contention, or in respect of which the honourable senators who are putting them forward may wish to speak at some length are declared to be not formal and, under standing order 74, are debated on some other occasion.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- Senator Durack, do you claim your notice of motion to be formal or not formal?
– Not formal.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- Then we have the notice of motion standing in the name of Senator Webster.
– Not formal.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- Lastly, we have the notice of motion standing in the name of Senator Davidson.
– Not formal.
- Mr Deputy President, The Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester, the eleventh GovernorGeneral of Australia, was the last surviving child of King George V and Queen Mary and died on 10 June 1974 at the age of 74 years. His Royal Highness was a professional soldier. He was chief liaison officer with the British Expeditionary Force in France until Dunkirk and was mentioned in despatches. He was awarded the Grand Cross of the Legion of Honour. In 1955 he became the fifteenth and latest member of the British Royal Family to be appointed a fieldmarshal.
The Prince’s associations with Australia extended over 30 years. He represented his father at the one hundredth anniversary of the foundation of Melbourne. He served for 2 years as Governor-General of Australia, from 30 January 1945 to 1 1 March 1947. He represented his family at the 50th anniversary of Anzac in Australia in 1965. The range of occasions on which he represented his father, his brothers and his niece is demonstrated by the knighthoods he received from the Emperors of Ethiopia and Japan, the
Queen of the Netherlands, the Kings of the Belgians and of Norway, Denmark and Thailand and the former kings of the Hellenes and of Romania, Egypt and Iraq.
The Duke was a man who disliked many of the social tasks which necessarily fall upon members of the Royal Family but he manfully showed a sense of public duty worthy of his high station throughout his long life. The message sent by Prince Henry’s present successor as Governor-General to the Queen on the death of her uncle will express, I am sure, the sentiments of honourable senators: it reads:
On behalf of the people and Government of Australia I offer deep sympathy to Your Majesty on the death of His Royal Highness the Duke of Gloucester. In Australia he is honoured and remembered with respect and affection as a former Governor-General. We also recall the service he gave and the close links he found with many Australians as a soldier, as Colonel-in-Chief of the Australian Light Horse, and the Royal Australian Army Service Corps, as President of the Royal Humane Society, Scout Association and National Rifle Association, and as Grand Prior of the Order of St John of Jerusalem. The encouragement and example he gave in these and other public duties in which your Australian subjects share, have become part of the noble tradition of the Royal Family in Australia.
Mr Deputy President, I ask for leave to move a motion in respect of this subject.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Webster)- Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– Speaking to the motion moved by the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Murphy) and on behalf of the Opposition, I would like to associate Opposition senators with both the motion and the remarks he made. The Duke of Gloucester undoubtedly was better known by personal contact in this country than was any other member of the Royal Family before the last decade, and especially before the visits of Her Majesty. Australia and its people held a special place in the affections of the Duke of Gloucester. His first association with Australia was in 1 934 when he made an extended tour of the nation, spending a month in Victoria representing his father King George V at the centenary celebrations of the foundation of Melbourne. It was at that time that he also visited what was then and still is the best trotting track in Australia and it was named after him. It is Gloucester Park in Perth, Western Australia. It was during his 2 years as Australia ‘s first Royal Governor-General, between 1945 and 1947, that he became so well known and well liked by the Australian people. During his term he became familiar with and fond of Australia and her people.
His appointment as Australia’s GovernorGeneral possibly could be described as the most important task of his public life. It was a task that he carried out with diligence, enthusiasm and great success. He was not only the first Royal Governor-General; he was the most mobile Governor-General up to that time. While in Australia the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester travelled 80,000 miles, mostly by air. No other visitors to Australia ever coped with a more exhausting schedule, but the Duke was determined, as Governor-General, to see and learn as much as possible. The Royal couple visited cities and the outback, seeing tiny country towns, agricultural shows, rodeos, coal mines, axemen’s carnivals and factories. There was scarcely a nook or cranny of our country which they had not visited or flown over during their term of office. The Royal couple avoided pomp and ceremony at their own request and went out to meet the people. A measure of the Royal couple’s popularity was their farewell from Sydney when many thousands of people lined the streets to bid them farewell. You will recall, Mr Deputy President, that they again visited Australia in April 1965.
The late Duke was patron or president of many organisations including hospitals, medical groups and youth bodies and, always a farming enthusiast, he presided at many agricultural shows in Britain and abroad. After the accession of Queen Elizabeth the Duke ‘s burden of public duties was lessened gradually and he was able to spend more time on his farm at Barnwell Manor. There, in later years, the Duke of Gloucester’s leisure time was absorbed with farming and gardening. The Duke once described Australia as his second home and I believe that all Australians will mourn his death.
-BROCKMAN (Western Australia- Leader of the Australian Country Party in the Senate)- I wish to associate senators representing the Australian Country Party with the motion moved by the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Murphy) and supported by the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate (Senator Withers). I think it can be said that until recent times the Duke of Gloucester, during his term of office as Governor-General, came to know more Australians than did any other member of the Royal Family. It has been said, I believe accurately, that no other visitors to this country ever coped with a more exhausting schedule than did the Duke and Duchess in those years. I think that the Duke liked Australia and I think Australia liked the Duke. On behalf of the Australian Country Party I extend sympathy to the Duchess, Prince Richard and other members of the family.
Question resolved in the affirmative, honourable senators standing in their places. death of former senator n.e. Mckenna
Senator murphy (New South WalesLeader of the Government in the Senate)- The Honourable Nicholas Edward McKenna died on Monday, 22 April. He was a senator for Tasmania from 1944 to 1968, a Minister of the Crown from 1946 to 1949, Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the Senate from 1 949 to 1 95 1 and Leader of the Opposition in the Senate from 195 1 to 1966. He had been successively an Australian public servant, an accountant and a law partner of a Premier and a Chief Justice of Tasmania. He came into this Parliament with a great reputation and quickly justified that reputation. He served as Minister for Health and Social Services from June 1946 to December 1949. During that period he acted as Treasurer, AttorneyGeneral and Minister for the Interior. He held all those posts with great distinction.
His period as Minister for Health and Social Services was especially significant to the Labor Government of the time and to the people of Australia. He was the first Minister to operate under the new powers achieved for this Parliament by the referendum of 1946. It was one of the few referenda to succeed, and its success in many ways was due largely to his efforts. The Senate will recall the great width of that important amendment to the Constitution. It gave this Parliament power to legislate with respect to the provision of maternity allowances, widows pensions, child endowment, unemployment, pharmaceutical, sickness and hospital benefits, and medical and dental services but not so as to authorise any form of civil conscription, benefits to students and family allowances. It was typical of the former Senator McKenna that he advocated these great causes in the interests of the ordinary men and women, especially the young people, of Australia. He had a pioneering role, and he played it with success and compassion. He sponsored the Act and made the arrangements under which tuberculosis in Australia has been virtually eliminated. He made arrangements with every State under which hospital treatment throughout Australia became free. Only now, again under a Government of his political character- an Australian Labor Party Government- are we returning to his grand design.
Most honourable senators will remember Senator McKenna. He was a very kindly and courteous man. I think he was never known to have interjected. I see Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson raise his eyebrows. He nods. That legend is testified to by the honourable senator. Senator McKenna was a man of extreme courtesy and tolerance. He never lost his temper, or if he did he did not show it. The Clerks tell me that he had a habit which in some ways endeared him to them but which also put fear into their breasts. He never entered the Senate without the redcovered Standing Orders under his arm. He was fully conversant with the Standing Orders and with the practices and precedents of this chamber. He had a deep respect for this institution and an even deeper respect for the Constitution which establishes this institution. He had strong views on the subject which only a few weeks ago enlivened this chamber. I should have thought that if ever he were to lose his temper it would have been on that occasion with what was being done by the Senate in relation to members of the House of Representatives. He was a loyal member of the Australian Labor Party, which he loved. He went through many difficult times, including the times of the split in the Labor Party. At all stages he acted in a way which would help to bind the Party together and preserve it, and he did through the Party and through the Senate everything he could for the service of the people of Australia.
I knew the late Senator McKenna closely in the latter years that he was in the Senate and I came to respect him very much. He knew many old proverbs and had many views on life which he transmitted to me and to other members of the Senate. He was one of the very great men who have passed through this chamber. I think that everything that he did in it was good for the advancement of the institution and for building bonds of goodwill between those in the chamber, lt may be said that he was a great Australian. He served to the best of his ability, which was very considerable, throughout his long and satisfactory life. Mr Deputy President, I move:
- Mr Deputy President, I ask you to invite Senator Wright to speak on behalf of the Opposition.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Webster)- I call Senator Wright.
-I rise to to express the thoughts of the Liberal Party members of the Opposition in respect of this motion, which is one with which we wish to associate ourselves and which we support completely. As Senator Murphy has said, the late Senator McKenna occupied his place here as a senator for Tasmania, having served in that State in the legal profession after a period in the profession of accountancy in Victoria. He achieved in Tasmania the status of a quite significant practice and a very high level of regard and competency in both the conveyancing and forensic side of law
When the late Senator McKenna came to this chamber he was quickly recognised as a man of ability. As Senator Murphy has said, from 1946 to 1949 he held the very responsible post of Minister for Health and Social Services, which was then of greatly expanded importance. The degree of value that was placed by his colleagues in his judgment and effort was indicated by the fact that on several occasions during the period when his Party was in Government and the Treasurer and the Attorney-General were absent, those high responsibilities were entrusted to him in an acting capacity. He moved into Opposition in 1949. If Senator Murphy wishes to generate any spirit of anger that might have been generated in Senator McKenna with regard to our performances on the double dissolution, I can tell him that in the period from 1 949 to 1 95 1 not only Senator McKenna but also his colleagues exhibited anger in no mistakable way when they resented, as a majority in this chamber, the fact that our Party held a majority in government in the other place. 1 have no doubt that Senator McKenna would have seen the performances of 1973 and 1974 as not nearly matching the vigour and persistence with which the majority of Labor senators sought to oppose the Liberal Government in another place in the period when the 2 parties had majorities in different places.
When the late Senator McKenna did move into Opposition he became Deputy Leader of the Opposition in this place and then Leader of the Opposition, a post which he held for 15 years. It is appropriate to recall the depth to which he employed his interest in the fundamental issues of Parliament during that time. He was particularly interested in revenue matters and, as a good senator, in the moulding of the new financial situation that was applied in this country after the experience of uniform taxation during the war. He was particularly interested in the endeavour to establish a formula for equitable reimbursement to the States of the necessary finance that was available here in substitution for State income tax. It is a pleasure for those senators who represent the small States to remind ourselves of the intense interest that the late Senator McKenna gave to the operation of the Grants Commission, the agency which for many years performed the function of adjusting the inequality of revenue capacity as between the smaller States and the larger States. He did tribute to the Senate on every occasion on which he spoke, indicating in a unique degree careful and painstaking preparation, and hard work and study. Anybody who knew Senator McKenna was impressed that that was his outstanding quality. When he addressed this chamber he did so in a manner which always attracted the attention of a significant proportion of the chamber. Not only was he painstaking; it was also quite obvious that he was co-operative with his colleagues and courteous in obvious measure to his opposition, to those who opposed him.
I did not leave it until this occasion respectfully to enable him to understand the sympathy which I had for the sadnesses of his family lifesympathy which we have and express today- seeing the death of his wife and his son, survived by his daughter and other relatives. But he sustained those sadnesses with the deep insight of human faith that was given to him in a unique degree. Never let it be forgotten, too, that some of the honourable senators whom he opposed in debate in this chamber were his firmest friends. I particularly recall the kindness he showed when Senator Sir William Spooner was stricken with his last agonising illness. Senator McKenna was an unfailing visitor to him. That was an indication of the kindness of the man whose memory we record in the terms that the Leader of the Government in the Senate has given us today, as a senator who ennobled this place and contributed to its operation with ability and with very great and genuine interest, I believe, in all his work.
– I wish to associate senators of the Australian Country Party with the motion moved by the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Murphy) and supported by Senator Wright on behalf of the Liberal Party of Australia. I support all the remarks made by those 2 speakers. Nick McKenna won and retained the respect of all senators and members of this Parliament during his term as a parliamentarian. I well recall my own entry into this chamber at a time when the House was already sitting. I recall coming in by myself and taking the oath and Nick McKenna, who was Leader of the Opposition at that time, coming up and giving me advice which, I believe, has stood me in good stead in this chamber ever since. Senator Murphy has already referred to the red book that Senator McKenna carried around with him as Leader of the Opposition. When I became Chairman of Committees he was always ready with advice to the Chair and to any new senator who occupied it. He was a gentleman always and he applied to his work that rigid honesty and deep sincerity of which Senator Wright has spoken.
I recall also that he was one of the few who served in this chamber who believed that a senator should be heard in silence. I do not recall him ever interjecting on a speaker except when on some occasions he would say: ‘Senator, can I ask you a question?’ Then the debate would be stopped while he asked that question. I agree that his contributions to debate always reflected a very close attention to detail. He placed great value on research and was most painstaking. On behalf of my Party and myself I extend sympathy to his family.
– I wish to associate myself with this motion. I do so not only because of my friendship with Nick McKenna but also because I had the honour to replace him in this chamber. I came here hoping that I might be able to maintain the same standards which he had set over the years and which have been quite adequately referred to by various speakers, especially Senator Murphy and Senator Wright, both of whom served with him in this chamber. He was a man widely respected in Tasmania. Although perhaps this is not the ultimate judgment, I recall that it was Nick McKenna who, up to the time of his retirement from politics, always polled more votes than any other in Tasmania in a Federal election. I think that is a measure of the respect with which he was held. I was glad that Senator Wright made reference to Nick McKenna ‘s tragic family life which I do not think was widely known outside Tasmania. He did carry an enormous burden for many years and the eventual deaths of his wife and son were great blows to him. I am sure that all of us today will remember not only a great Tasmanian but also a great Australian and a great senator.
-I join other honourable senators in supporting the motion of sympathy in memory of the late Senator McKenna. I came to this place in 1953 at the time when he was Leader of the Opposition. I had a profound respect for him as a parliamentarian. It was always an inspiration to be able to follow him when invited to lead for the Government in a debate or to respond in a debate on behalf of the Government, as I was on many occasions, because whilst in the parliamentary sense we heard second-reading speeches which were prepared by Ministers, after Senator McKenna as Leader of the Opposition had spoken one always had a far greater appreciation of the issues. I recall that he had a technique of restating the case before attempting to attack it. He had a fascinating method of debating. He would restate the case of the Government in very brief terms and then he would argue against the Government’s points seriatim. When one followed him one knew one was taking part in a comprehensive debate of an issue.
As Senator Murphy said, he always brought his Standing Orders into the Senate with him when we commenced our operations. He was a tremendous help to a presiding officer. Time and time again when a point of order was taken Senator McKenna would rise and speak on that point of order, not only to make the point he wanted to make but also, deliberately and consciouslyand the presiding officer appreciated it- to give the presiding officer time to formulate his judgment. Sometimes he actually said: ‘Mr President, I realise that this is a matter you will want to give some consideration to before you make a judgment, and whilst I am making a point on this matter I realise that you may also be reflecting on the issues while I am speaking’.
I always found Senator McKenna a charming man and a man dedicated to his cause. For many years he stayed at the Hotel Canberra where many of us stayed, and it would be true to say that there would not be a night when he went back after the Parliament rose without taking documents and papers in order to make himself ready to present a case for the Opposition on subsequent days. I agree with Senator Murphy when I say I do not remember him interjecting in the sense that we sometimes do in this Parliament in more recent times. He was a good debater and a good and devoted servant of his party. He served the nation well not only as a Minister of State but also as Leader of the Opposition in the Senate. I had the honour to represent the President at ex-Senator McKenna ‘s funeral service and was able to speak to his family. I am sure that his contribution to our nation during the time when he was a Minister of State and Leader of Her Majesty’s Opposition was of great benefit to our national development.
Question resolved in the affirmative, honourable senators standing in their places.
DEATH OF mr j. C. SEXTON
Senator MURPHY (New South WalesLeader of the Government in the Senate)- Mr Deputy President, it is with deep regret that I inform the Senate of the death on 22 April 1974 of Joseph Clement Sexton, a former member of the House of Representatives. Joseph Sexton was an Australian Labor Party member for the Division of Adelaide from 1958 to 1966. For all his adult life he was a unionist, a union official, a Party official or a member of this Parliament. Before being elected the member for Adelaide he had been Assistant Secretary-Treasurer of the Building Workers’ Industrial Union of South Australia in the years 1950-52 and then organiser of the South Australian Branch of the Australian Labor Party.
In 1953 he was elected secretary of the South Australian Branch of our Party, a redoubtable training ground for parliamentarians. His predecessor in that office was Senator Toohey, and his successors have been the honourable member for Bonython, Mr Martin Nicholls, the South Australian Minister for Transport, the honourable G. T. Virgo MHA, and the new member for Port Adelaide, Mr Mick Young. Joe Sexton was the kind of man who forms the backbone of political parties and, it should be said, of this Parliament- men who are hardworking and who do not seek high office. This Parliament could scarcely exist and certainly could not long survive except for men like Joe Sexton. He was a kindly, courteous and hardworking man who looked after his electorate well and did the work which it is necessary to do if the Parliament is really going to maintain its links with the people of our nation. Political parties need balance. It is men like Sexton who provide our parties and our Parliament with that balance. I, along with some others here, remember him, and all that we remember of him is good. He was a good parliamentarian and a good man. Mr Deputy President, I ask for leave to move a motion.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Webster)- Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
- Mr Deputy President, I ask you to invite Senator Davidson to speak to the motion on behalf of the Opposition.
-I rise very readily on behalf of the Liberal Party Opposition to support the motion moved by the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Murphy) in relation to the late Mr Sexton. Mr Sexton was the member in the House of Representatives for the Division of Adelaide. He served in the Parliament and took his full place in parliamentary procedure. He was a member of the delegation that attended the first meeting of the Legislative Council of Papua New Guinea. He was also a member of the Australian delegation to the Inter-parliamentary Union meeting in Canada. He was a member of the Joint Committee of Public Accounts and other committees of the Parliament. He was very well known to me as indeed he was to all South Australian senators and members at the time.
As I recall him, he was a man who was genial in his conversation, very considerate in his disposition and certainly friendly in companionship. I appreciated these characteristics in a number of ways, I suppose I appreciated them most in our journeys to and from Canberra or within South Australia, but probably more particularly in the sharing of public platforms and public occasions that we are all connected with from time to time. In this connection, I speak particularly of events which took place within the city of Adelaide which was within his electorate of Adelaide. Mr Sexton served his city well. He served the Parliament well and, indeed, he served his fellow man very well. For the greater part of his life, and more particularly after leaving the Parliament, he was intensely involved in service to senior citizens in the organization of the Southern Cross Homes for the Aged in Adelaide. We pay tribute today to his public duty and we pay tribute to his personal service. On behalf of members of the Opposition, I tender our sympathy to his sons and daughters.
Senator DRAKE-BROCKMAN (Western Australia- Leader of the Australian Country Party in the Senate)- I wish to associate senators of the Australian Country Party with this motion of condolence for a hardworking former member of Parliament. I support the remarks made by previous speakers. I think that honourable senators know that we can serve in the Parliament for a long period and not develop more than a nodding acquaintance with some members of other parties. This was the case with Joe Sexton and myself. I served with him on the Joint Committee of Public Accounts. Each week I travelled back to Adelaide on the aircraft with him, but apart from saying ‘Good day, Joe’, or making similar remarks to him, that is about all I knew of Joe Sexton until we were appointed to represent this Parliament at the meeting of the Interparliamentary Union in Canada. It was then that I learned that this quiet, unassuming man possessed a very fine sense of humour. He was a quite delightful entertainer, as some honourable senators will know. Quite often, after a meeting of the IPU delegation, we found that Joe Sexton was the centre of attraction. Either he was telling us some story or singing us some song. This shows that we should get to know the members of other parties in addition to members of our own parties. Joe Sexton during all the time I worked with him, and all the time that I was on that trip with him, proved to be a hardworking member of Parliament. I am sure that all that Senator Murphy, the Leader of the Government, said about him before he came into Parliament was quite true and that he performed very valuable work for his Party and his electorate. On behalf of my Country Party colleagues, I extend sympathy to his family.
-I, too, on behalf of my colleagues from South Australia and my colleagues on the Government side, wish to associate myself with this motion of condolence to the late Joseph Sexton. I knew him for many years and was a close associate of his. He helped me on many occasions when I entered Parliament as a senator for South Australia. He was always ready to give me advice and assistance. He was a kindly and generous man. He was well revered and loved by his constituents from the electorate of Adelaide which he represented in the House of Representatives for so many years. He was a true Christian. As Senator Davidson has said, on leaving the Parliament he was appointed to the board of the Southern Cross Homes for the Aged in South Australia. He worked very hard on this board to enable it to carry out its work in housing aged people. I know from my contact with Joe Sexton that on many occasions when some of the people who had been housed by the Southern Cross Homes for the Aged needed maintenance assistance, he was always ready to give them that assistance. He was well respected and loved by his constituents in Adelaide. He always gave them advice and generous assistance in many ways, apart from the assistance and advice that he gave as a member of Parliament. He worked long hours, and he was always ready to give a helping hand and a smile to those in need. He was, as I said, revered and respected by the many people of his electorate because as those of us who knew him know he concentrated his efforts mainly in the field of social services. He spoke on this subject in many of his speeches in the House of Representatives, and he did all he possibly could to assist those who most needed assistance. He was a true family man, and I join with my colleagues and the Parliament in offering sincere condolences to his family.
– I wish only briefly to endorse all that has been said. I think that my leader aptly described the late Mr Sexton’s career. I participate in the debate because, while I did not have a great association with Mr Sexton in the Parliament, I did know him in the mid-1950s when there were tensions in the Australian Labor Party. I knew of his long experience as a Party official in South Australia. On occasions I rang him to get an assessment of a situation, and he could read a political situation very well. The amount of constituency work that he did was attributable to the long ties that he had with the trade union movement. I do not think that he worried very much whether a person lived in Adelaide or in any other electorate in South Australia: The fact that he had those ties with those people in the trade union movement meant that he would certainly take up their problems and attempt to solve them. His service was devoted completely to the people. He was not a headline hunter; rather he was one of those people who, as my leader said, are the ballast of any political party.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Webster)- Will honourable senators signify their concurrence with this motion by standing in silence.
Question resolved in the affirmative, honourable senators standing in their places.
-Mr Deputy President, I have the honour to move the following Address-in-Reply to the opening Speech of His Excellency the Governor-General:
MAY IT PLEASE YOUR EXCELLENCY: We, the Members of the Senate, in Parliament assembled, desire to express our loyalty to our Most Gracious Sovereign, and to express our thanks for the Speech which His Excellency the Right Honourable Sir Paul Hasluck, G.C.M.G., G.C.V.O., K.St. J., as Governor-General, was pleased to address to Parliament.
I would like to take the opportunity through you, Mr Deputy President, to congratulate the President on his election to that august office. I know him as a man of principle and integrity and I am sure he will bring this Senate great honour. I would also like to take the opportunity to congratulate you, Mr Deputy President, on your election. In a moment of weakness you joined the wrong party; but you had the very good sense to come from the premier State.
I have always felt that one of the 2 very proper functions of government were to protect the weak and the disadvantaged sections of the community, those people who through accident of birth or lack of education could not protect themselves. The other proper function, I felt, was that government should foresee future needs and future problems in the community and make provision for them. It was pleasing to hear in the Governor-General’s speech that this Government plans to continue in that vein. When this Government came to office there were 2 very great areas of disadvantage. One concerned migrants who seemed to me to be at a very great disadvantage in this community; the other concerned women who were as disadvantaged as were migrants, Aborigines or those other people that we traditionally think of as being disadvantaged. Many migrants had come out here purely as factory fodder; they were brought out purely as means of production. Nobody thought very much about them as people or of what their rights were. We in the Australian Labor Party felt that this was very bad, because they should have been considered firstly as human beings. This Government took steps to advise these people of their rights. It had been very difficult for those who could speak only a foreign language to find out what were their rights. We took steps to stop employers and other sections of the community from exploiting those people. We took steps to encourage them to become citizens, to join the family of the nation. We wanted to safeguard the cultures that they brought with them and to encourage them to take a pride in their native language and culture because by doing so we felt that we enriched this country. This country started off, in a sense, as a collection of migrants. Its wealth has come from what its people have contributed to it, because while a nation may be very rich in resources it can only be as rich and as wise and as powerful as the people who comprise it. We had people coming here from older countries with older cultures who were contributing to and enriching our country.
One could see that there was great danger for the children of these migrant people and for the children who were born of migrant people in this country. There was danger in the schools in that so many of them were drifting into an area of limbo. They no longer belonged to the culture into which they were born. They could not belong to our culture because they could not understand us, they could not talk to us, they could not assimilate. Some steps have been taken to make sure that those children can go on learning in their native language, to learn and be proud of their native culture, but also quickly to learn and be proud to be part of our culture. Something has been done but not enough and not with enough speed. I would look to the Government to take many more steps to ensure that more is done, because the future of a nation depends on its children, and its children are its wealth. Another area of very great need concerns migrant women. We talk very glibly at times about such things as suburban neuroses. We talk about young housewives with children, caught in outer suburbia or in the country areas, having nobody to talk to and we see that this causes all sorts of problems. But how much worse it is if they are caught in a situation where they cannot even talk to the baker, where they cannot pass a word over the fence or at the shopping centre. A home tutor scheme has been introduced so that women- some of the mature women who do not really want to go back to school but who really do want to communicate with others- can have a tutor in their own homes or can get together in groups with a tutor to learn the language and to communicate. One would hope that the community would take a kinder view of such a problem, that not only would there be a formal scheme of tuition but that the community might put out a hand to these people and try to help them. I think that by this action also we would be enriched because they must have so much to give us, and they cannot give if we cannot communicate with them. The other area I spoke of concerned women also. I have some little expertise in that field. The thing that impresses me about women at the moment is that one-third or more of our work force is made up of women and that the commercial world, it is obvious, could not get on without them. When this Government came to office it found that there had been a long period of neglect but that some things could be done immediately. The International Labor Organisation Convention on Discrimination in Employment was implemented. We formed national and State committees to advise on and deal with that matter. We resumed the national wage case and successfully supported the principle of equal pay for work of equal value. We successfully supported the extension of the minimum wage to adult females. The Government as an employer set an example and put into effect those principles which we have held dear for so long. No longer may the Government advertise for a male clerk or for a female clerk but must advertise for a person who can do the job. We provided maternity leave. That is one thing that women require that men do not. It is a rather essential requirement in the community. A woman cannot really continue working at her desk until 5 minutes beforehand. So, the Government brought into effect maternity leave so that women could take time off work before and after the birth of their babies if they wanted to continue working. The Government did those things and set an example. But that applies only to a small portion of the female work force and of the potential work force. I look forward to the day when these conditions are extended to the private sector of the economy. Only then can women be truly equal in the work force.
If women stayed at home the commercial world would collapse. Apart from their right to good conditions, it is as an integral part of the whole plan that they should enjoy good conditions. It is obvious these days that most young women go to work. So many of them go to work not because they want to express themselves or because they are doing something they enjoy, but because to so many of them any money is better than no money at all. It is up to the Government and the unions to ensure that women work under the best possible conditions. I think it is up to us to ensure that women are used to their very best capacity. This capacity extends back to their homes and to their schools. But many women are not educated to their full capacity. There are still some areas where parents do not believe that girls need an education because after all they are going to work as a clerk or a typist for some little time and will then get married. This attitude goes back to schools where teachers with the best will in the world sometimes believe that while a male has to earn his living a female will get married and does not need to do so.
We are very foolish as a community if we waste our resources. The resources are there to be used. One looks forward to the day when people are educated to a certain point and then learn the skills they need to earn their living. One would hope that people would not differentiate between males and females but would extend people to their very maximum. There is a great pool of untapped talent waiting to contribute to Australia and wanting to contribute to Australia. So often when a women reaches middle age and her children are no longer fully dependent on her she feels lost. So often these days with so much glib talk about women’s lib women feel that they have not contributed anything and that they are in some ways useless because they have stayed at home, had babies, looked after them and did not go out and build bridges. I think this is the community’s fault that women feel that way. It is a very honourable profession to a mother and I think so many mothers do it so very well that we should in some way pay a tribute to the fact that they are doing a very honourable thing.
We do not really want to get to the position where women are forced out to work because in some way that proves that they are emancipated. We want women to have the choice. When we give women the choice we have to safeguard the children that they have had. Mothers who stay at home looking after their children teach their children so much. Children learn so much from the day they are brought home from the hospital to the day they leave their parents’ home to go to their own homes. In those early years children learn so much from a mother. If mothers are to go out to work-it is obvious that they are going to go and nothing is going to stop them, be that right or wrong-we, as people who have some conscience and some role to play must make sure that the children who are born of these women learn things that they would have learned from their mothers. They must not suffer. They are our best resource. In wartime, governments can take extraordinary action to make things happen. I think governments should take extraordinary action to safeguard children and so safeguard the future of a nation. I commend the motion to the Senate.
– It is a pleasure and, indeed, an honour to be in the situation of seconding the motion moved so ably by my colleague Senator Melzer. I should also like to join her in congratulating you, Mr Deputy
President, on your appointment and to ask you to convey my congratulations to the President who is a fellow Launcestonian a fellow member of the Australian Labor Party and a friend. It is an honour to be present in this place representing Tasmania and the Australian Labor Party, particularly in the circumstances in which this Party has been re-elected to office in an election not of its own making.
I was pleased to hear in the speech of His Excellency the Governor-General that in fact we will continue the plans which we have had in hand since before 1969- plans which have been accepted by the Australian electorate in 2 elections since and plans which I believe are to the benefit of all of us and all in the community. We are a democratic socialist party in the tradition of democratic socialism or social democracy which is present in government in many parts of the world. As a democratic socialist party we are a reforming party- unashamedly so. We believe in reform, both economic and social, and we believe that the system of priorities as a result of these reforms must change so that we can have a just and proper society. But for a reforming party which follows a long period of conservative government there are always difficulties. Most of these difficulties arise because those people who have reached a position of privilege or wealth in the community under the previous system naturally resist any reform. Because of their position or privileges in the community they have the finances and the access to the media and other resources to get arguments across. Therefore our task becomes more difficult.
It is understandable that those who oppose our agricultural policy do so because the previous system of across-the-board tariffs- a system of tariffs based on production- naturally favoured those who produced most and therefore needed the subsidies least. But the agricultural policy, as with other policies, will in time be shown to be a fair policy and will be shown to increase the stability of the agricultural industry in this country. Therefore we will not have fluctuating prices, fluctuating conditions and the necessity for intermittent ad hoc policies to be applied.
It is understandable that those who take a simplistic view of foreign affairs- those who believe that we should ignore over half the population of the world in our foreign relationsshould oppose the widening of our foreign relations in the world sphere. It is pleasing to me that this sort of attitude is obviously no longer acceptable to the community and that the attitude of blind anti-communism which was accepted for so long no longer applies. I think the lot of the reformer or the attempted reformer is never a very easy one. Methods of opposition to reforms through the ages have not really changed very much. The sorts of methods that were always used and are still used, and used very effectively, are, firstly, to complicate and confuse the reform which is suggested; secondly, to misrepresent the reform by attempting to show that it seeks to do the opposite or something very much worse than is its aim; and, thirdly, to impute dishonourable motives to those who are suggesting the reform. To this in this day and age is usually added a good dose of the conspiratorial view of world affairs in which it is suggested that all reforms are part of some international conspiracy, be it religious, political or otherwise.
Those who have read the history of social and economic reform will realise that the same tactics were used in respect of reforms for the introduction of the age pension, the introduction of workers’ compensation, the introduction of the 48-hour week, the 44-hour week and the 40-hour week, the imposition of restrictions on child labour and the introduction of universal education. When all those things were introduced there were cries of disaster and of the impending dissolution of society. It was suggested that complete and utter chaos would result from each of those reforms. When we, in this day and age, consider the arguments against those reforms, we think that they are ludicrous. I think that in the future some of the arguments that vested interests use against the sorts of reforms which we wish to introduce will be considered just as ludicrous.
I think it is always unfortunate when a debate on any political issue or on any issue of a social or economic nature or on any social or economic reform sinks to a level of personal denigration. Frequently there grow up organisations which are formed for the purpose of defeating some reform, and these lower the tone of the debate. These organisations are formed in an attempt to confuse and frighten the community into rejecting reforms which will benefit the people. I think a typical example of this sort of thing is what has happened in the present debate on the proposed national health insurance scheme. It has always seemed very sad to me that this situation should arise in respect of a proposal to introduce a national health insurance scheme which will give universal coverage to those in the community for their medical, surgical and other needs, which will preserve the freedom of choice of the patient and the doctor and which will extend freedom of choice to pensioners. This scheme is designed to preserve the doctor’s right to bulk-bill or to charge the patient if he feels that the patient will overdo the service if no charge at all is made.
It seems a shame to me that such a scheme is castigated as being conscription of doctors or socialisation of medicine, particularly when socialisation of medicine or nationalisation or conscription of doctors is exactly and particularly proscribed by the Australian Constitution. In this health debate there has arisen an organisation called the General Practitioners Society. This organisation claims to represent doctors and the interests of patients. But I think that a perusal of its activities over the last few years will indicate that in fact it has been a political organisation of the extreme Right which has grabbed hold of the issue in order to confuse it. Of course this organisation refuses to have anything to do with this Government. Incidentally, it also would refuse to have anything to do with a government which was formed from those parties represented by honourable senators opposite. This organisation considers that all governments in this country since Federation have been socialist governments. It considers the present Opposition parties to be socialist parties- something which I think creates some amusement on both sides of the chamber. It considers that governments should take no part in anything except the defence of the country and what it calls the preservation of individual freedoms. By ‘preservation of individual freedoms’ this organisation, like all these organisations, means the freedom of one man to exploit another. Frequently in its journal it uses quotations from well-known writers who have the conspiratorial view of world affairs that the world is being taken over by a communist and /or Jewish conspiracy.
I suppose that this organisation, which is supported financially by many of the multinational drug firms, would receive more publicity in a debate on the health scheme than any of the other organisations involved; even more, I think, than the Australian Medical Association which is at least willing to negotiate with this Government or any other government. The people in this organisation have lowered the debate on the health scheme to this level. Of course, the organisation’s actions culminated in it making personal attacks on the Minister for Social Security (Mr Hayden). It called him a ‘Nazi’ and it called his Department the ‘SS Department’- not a very clever pun. The organisation’s actions culminated in it distributing a lying document which stated that the Minister for Social Security was a medical school drop-out and therefore hated doctors. It is unfortunate that some politicians in Australia have felt it advisable to support this organisation.
I hope that when the national health insurance legislation is introduced again the debate will be a rational one, that we can look at the facts, the figures, the results and the outcome, and have a debate on a rational level and not on a highly emotional level as has happened in some quarters in this country previously.
My concept and, I believe, my Party’s concept, of the future of this country and of the future of the individuals in this country is that people should have the freedom and the opportunity to realise their reasonable ambitions without being exploited by others or indeed without exploiting others. I also believe that Australia should have control of its own resources and that it should be able to decide what happens to those resources, be they primary industry products, secondary industry products or mineral or energy resources. When an attempt was made to give this country complete control over its resources and to give the Australian people an opportunity to receive the benefits from the exploitation of its resources, similar, although I must admit less severe, attacks were made on the Minister concerned by people outside the Parliament and by people from outside Australia. One hopes that in the future debates on these matters will reach a higher level outside the Parliament than has been the case in the past.
I said previously that we have to change our priorities, and I think that there are many fields in which we have to change our priorities. It has been obvious for a long time that we have to change our priorities in the field of urban development, and some attempts are now being made to do this. I welcome the attempts to decentralise urban areas in this country, to develop new towns and to develop new regions. I welcome the attempts to get finance from the main source of finance in this country, the Federal Government, for local government in order to upgrade local government and to get it out of the parlous state in which it finds itself in my State and in other States. To me it always has seemed impossible to justify the fact that in cities like Sydney and Melbourne, where there are thousands of square feet of empty office space, people work in beautifully carpeted, beautifully air conditioned and, in this modern age, beautifully sound proofed offices for 8 hours of the day, but that to get to work they have to travel by car on inadequate roads or in inadequate public transport. In travelling home from work they spend hours in a car on an inadequate road or in inadequate public transport, only to arrive home to an unsealed street in an unsewered area, and to spend the rest of their time in a house that they have not been able to carpet or to put in all the nice things that they have in their offices.
To my mind the priorities are wrong. We should make some attempt to do something about these priorities. I believe that through the actions of this Government eventually we will do so although, as we will all admit, it is difficult to do anything about these things quickly in times of inflation. However, provided we do what the Governor-General said in his Speech; provided we determine our priorities in carrying out programs in the continuing fight against inflation; provided we protect the weaker sections of the community; provided we keep a firm commitment to the principle of full employment; provided there is equity in sharing sacrifices as well as prosperity, and provided there is an assurance that any deferment of expectations shall not be at the expense of those for whom deferment could mean a lifetime of deprivation, I believe we will control inflation and that eventually the world will beat the problem of inflation. Then I believe we will be able to go ahead with our programs of reform in this society so that every person can realise his reasonable aspirations, so that the exploitation of people by other people will stop and so that this country will get control of its resources. I thank you, Mr President. I think that that is as good a summary as I can give as to why I am on this side of the House and why I am honoured to represent this side of the House in this Parliament.
-Pursuant to standing order 28 A I lay on the table my warrant nominating Senators Baume, Davidson, Devitt, Georges, Lawrie, McAuliffe, Marriott, Milliner, Mulvihill and Wood to act as Temporary Chairman of Committees when required to do so by the Chairman of Committees or when the Chairman of Committees is absent. I am sorry, I am advised that there has been a misprint and that Senator Bonner’s name should be included, not that of Senator Baume.
-Mr President, this is a day for maiden speeches. Firstly, I would like to congratulate the mover and the seconder of the motion for the adoption of the AddressinReply. One other honourable senator almost made a maiden journey into the Chair. I especially would like to congratulate both Senator Melzer and Senator Grimes on the content of their speeches. We look forward to hearing a great deal from them in the future. One thing for which they ought to be thanked enormously, if I may put this in a jocular sense, is that both honourable senators were able to put their arguments shortly, succinctly and very clearly. I have no doubt that those 2 honourable senators, like the newcomers on my side of the chamber, will fall into the bad habits of their colleagues who have been here for a long time and become as long-winded and as tedious as the rest of us, or, as I am corrected, as some of us. I put that in the most kindly vein.
I would like to commence by saying that in a period of some 18 months we have now heard 3 Speeches from the throne- two by Sir Paul Hasluck and one by Her Majesty the Queen. Two amendments were carried relating to the motions for the adoption of the AddressinReply to the earlier Speeches, and I shall be moving a third amendment which I hope will also be carried. Having looked again at the 3 Speeches one thing stands out clearly in the third. I would like to mention how pleased I am that the Government at last has dropped the use of the word ‘mandate’. Nowhere in the Speech made yesterday by the Governor-General did the Government claim that it had a mandate.
– Is that a fact?
-That is a fact. I have argued consistently, both within the Senate and without, against the mandate theory. I am pleased that the Government at last agrees with me that it can pass only that legislation which the Parliament allows it to pass. Perhaps now we can stop debating mandates and get down to debating policies and issues. I move:
The Government’s failure in the economic management of this country is now apparent to all. Its bungling of the economy has hit hardest at the lower and middle income earners, the very group of people that this Government pledged itself to assist. The effects of this mismanagement have intruded upon every facet of our lives. It is evident from the empty shelves in supermarkets limiting the choice of foodstuffs to the housewife. It is evident in the shortage of household goods like refrigerators and washing machines. It is evident in the waiting lists to which one must subscribe in order to buy a new motor vehicle. It is most painfully evident in the now almost impossible dream of owning one ‘s own home. Not only do we now have to pay a great deal more for any goods or services we require; we can no longer choose what goods we need or desire and are forced to take what we can get. I noted with interest the statement in the Governor-General’s Speech that the Government would ‘continue vigorous efforts against inflation’. Continue what vigorous efforts? How can the Government continue something it has not yet even begun? This Government is very fond of blaming others for the mess it has created. Last year we were told that all its problems were inherited. This year these same problems are imported. One wonders what excuse the Government will dream up next year- or is it too much to expect that by then some concrete st steps will have been taken to put this country back on a firm economic basis.
The Government says that it has a ‘firm commitment to the principle of full employment’. One can only hope that its commitment is to the fact and not the principle, for the course which it has embarked upon will lead to widespread unemployment, instability and in many quarters, plain misery. The Government itself is divided on what is going to happen to the work force. The Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) tells us: ‘All is well. There will be no unemployment’. But the Minister for Labor and Immigration, Mr Clyde Cameron, who could never be described as a cheerful soul, is even more pessimistic than usual. He predicts that there will be a marked increase in unemployment. It seems that Mr Clyde Cameron is right. Leyland Motor Corporation of Australia has recently cut back staff. There have been dismissals in the textile industry. This week Philips Industries has been forced to lay off hundreds of workers as a direct result of Government policy. This so-called Labor Government disregards even the calls of its own unions. It seems indifferent to the effects of strikes on the economy, on the lives of workers and or every Australian who is continually being inconvenienced and in many cases distressed by hardship which could be avoided if the Government was willing to act. The continual battle for wage increases is understandable. As soon as a pay increase is awarded it is swiftly and relentlessly eroded by inflation and taxation. No wonder there is discontent in the community. Now the effects of the Government’s reckless attitude towards the economy and the work force are becoming only too apparent.
The Treasurer, Mr Crean, ignoring soaring interest rates and the general tightness of money, tells us that there is no credit squeeze. In a naive way he smugly states during television interviews that he is not aware that it is difficult to get money for housing and completely ignores the fact that if a person is lucky enough to obtain money for housing he will be paying dearly for it. Mr Whitlam and Mr Crean cannot even agree on who is a middle income earner. Mr Whitlam says that he is a person earning $14,000 a year. Mr Crean says that the figure is $5,000 a year. With these symptoms of economic schizophrenia, what is the average person to think? I put it to the Senate that the diagnosis is that the Government has no policy to control inflation. Ministers are contradicting each other because they have no complete policy statement to follow and certainly no cure to offer, and they try to excuse the fact that they have no cure to offer by pointing their fingers at other countries and, in a manner reminiscent of kindergarten arguments, say: ‘But our rate of inflation is not as high as your rate of inflation’. They fail to point out that most countries which have a higher rate of inflation than has Australia have been hit very hard by the oil crisis. They can blame much of their inflation problems on this fact but, as our Government has only too smugly pointed out, Australia has not been involved or at least has been only marginally involved in this oil crisis. So the blame for Australia’s escalating inflation rate falls fairly and squarely on the shoulders of this Government.
It is interesting, when talking on this subject, to think back a couple of months. At the outset of the election campaign the Labor Party was treating inflation rather like a bush fly- content to have a swat at it now and again. In fact, the Labor Party thought so little of inflation and its inherent problems that the subject was hardly mentioned in the Prime Minister’s policy speech. It was, to the Prime Minister and his Party, a non-issue. It was not until the Leader of the Opposition, Mr Snedden, forced the Labor Party to recognise that the Australian people were concerned about inflation and its consequences that the Prime Minister decided to change his tactics. During the first weekend in May, after the Kirribilli House conference, Mr Whitlam decided to swap multi-nationals for inflation in the most important issues stakes. He was not really concerned about the issue. He merely wished to use it for rhetoric. I quote what he said. ‘Inflation is falling and will continue to fall’, he told a Labour Day rally in Brisbane on 7 May. I quote again. ‘The Government’s anti-inflationary policies are working’. What a different story can now be gleaned from his words, his attitude and his Party’s panic as the reality of the situation unfolds. During the election campaign the Australian Labor Party manipulated with relish the March quarter cost of living figures in order to paint a rosy picture of the country’s inflation rate, but its manipulation could not halt the worsening of our country ‘s economic situation.
Despite election claims that interest rates would be reduced as soon as possible, we have witnessed this week a leap of 2 per cent in the bank interest rate. This increase means that if in the present tight supply situation a young couple is able to obtain a housing loan of say $15,000 over 25 years- I believe that figure is a minimum amount when one considers how home prices have escalated because of inflation- they will now have to pay $5 a week more for their money. Because of government policy monthly repayments increased this week from $116 to $136 a month. So much for the low interest Party. These high interest rates are putting the average young couple at a very severe disadvantage in their quest for a home of their own. The only people who are benefiting from the Government’s economic policy are speculators, for they are the only section of the community with the funds to invest for high percentage returns. The low income earner who has his savings in a savings bank receives about 3V4 per cent, a rate which cannot even keep abreast of present inflationary growth.
This Government has no consistent economic policy. Last year it cut tariffs, it said, in order to bring down prices. This decision resulted in unemployment and personal distress in the affected industries. Now the Government has decided to stop importing those goods on which tariffs were cut. So, despite the unemployment and distress caused by the original decision, cheap goods will not be available now. These stop-go policies are causing confusion to the public, dismay to the business sector and alarm among economists. Only yesterday the Ritchie Professor of Research in Economics at the University of Melbourne, Professor R. I. Downing, said that continuing inflation threatens to destroy Australia’s economy by the end of the decade. This situation is one which the Labor Government has brought upon this country. When the Liberal and Country Parties left office inflation was 4.6 per cent and falling. It has taken the Labor Government only 18 months to reverse that situation drastically. Inflation will be at least 20 per cent by the end of this year because of the Labor Government’s blundering mismanagement of the economy. This debacle has been brought about by the Government’s failure to acknowledge the dangers of the inflationary climate which it has deliberately created. Now the Government is trying to paper over Australia’s economic problems and spiralling rate of inflation with a wealth of words.
The only action mentioned in the GovernorGeneral’s Speech was the imposition of a 2.6 per cent ceiling on the growth of the Public Service and Government authorities. The Prime Minister now intends to limit the growth of the Public Service, one of the measures which we suggested as imperative many months ago and a measure which we promoted during the recent election compaign. Only a few weeks ago the Prime Minister, wooing votes from the Public Service, cried: ‘Shame. Never. Unnecessary’. I believe that this example is yet another about face from the Prime Minister. It is becoming increasingly difficult to discover what he really believes about anything. One gets the feeling that he says what he feels he is expected to say or ought to say on any set occasion. He does not consider or believe in what he says, only in the melodic value of the words. Whilst mouthing recognition of the need for restraint in the growth of Government spending and admonishing the States to follow suit, the Prime Minister proposes to establish 8 commissions, 2 boards and one council, plus an Australian Government Insurance Office, an export bank, a curriculum development centre, an academic salaries tribunal, a pharmaceutical corporation, an Australian ombudsman and an Australian Development Assistance Agency- undoubtedly reserving on all of them a couple of well paid places for the boys. The plethora of commissions, boards and so on that has grown up under the Labor Government raises the question of just who is governing this country- the elected Parliament or the many and varied extraneous bodies that are each staffed with a couple of Australian Labor Party stalwarts just to ensure that the decisions reached are in the Australian Labor Party’s interests.
The Governor-General’s Speech also made it quite clear that the Labor Government intends to pursue its policy of confrontation with the States. The Speech outlined moves to centralise control over roads, railways, public transport systems, education, hospitals and housing. This is an obvious attack on the States and their rights and responsibilities. It is quite clear that the Government intends to pursue its centralist policies and to grab more and more power for Canberra. I put it to the Senate that Australia would be better off if the Government were to concentrate on making our postal system efficient, reliable and strike-free before it continued its quest for more power. It should introduce efficiency and restore confidence in those areas for which it already has responsibility rather than look for other fields to destroy. The indications of a continued attack on the electoral system were expected. After failing to win electoral reform through its phoney referendums, the Government is quite determined to seek perpetual power by any underhand method it can use. When the Government’s desired electoral reforms were put directly to the people they were lost by a majority of the States and a majority of the people. So now a back door attack is to begin. Much more will be said on this matter at a later date.
The Governor-General’s Speech also made it quite clear that the Government proposes to continue its cavalier attitude towards the defence of our nation. One paragraph of it was devoted to defence. That paragraph claimed that the Government was creating ‘the most effective, mobile and professional defence force in Australia’s peace-time history’. How can the Government claim that when the Services are experiencing their highest resignation rate in history and we have an Air Force that cannot fly, a Navy that cannot steam and an Army that is confined to barracks? The Services lack equipment, incentive and morale. No amount of fast talk by the Government can cover up that fact when resignations continue to be received in such numbers and recruiting remains such a problem.
The Government is indeed to be condemned for its failure to acknowledge the dangers of inflation and to take positive steps to relieve that inflation; its failure to acknowledge that there is rampant industrial unrest and to take steps to check that unrest and the divisions it is causing within our community; its continuing confrontation with the States and its dismissal of responsibility for Australia’s defence. The Government has failed the nation over a whole range of issues. Problems arising from its mismanagement have grown enormously in the past few weeks. The indifference of the Government to the distress it is causing must cease. Accordingly, I commend the amendment to the Senate.
– I think it is fair to say that there was only one thing which the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Withers) said and to which I am about to refer that indicates that we have anything in common.
– Was it his remarks about unemployment?
-The only thing is his congratulatory remarks and laudatory comments about the maiden speeches that were made by my colleagues Senator Melzer and Senator Grimes. Their contributions were very constructive and thought provoking. If I may say so, they were much more constructive and thought provoking than the type of speech which Senator Webster normally makes in this chamber. I congratulate them very much on their introductory remarks. We all look forward with a great deal of enthusiasm to further constructive contributions from Senator Melzer and Senator Grimes.
I also take this opportunity to extend publicly to you, Mr President, my personal congratulations on the honour that was bestowed upon you yesterday by your colleagues in the Senate by elevating you to the august and nationally important position that you now hold. Because of my long experience with you over a period of years you have become one of my close personal friends. I know that you will carry out your high office with dignity and distinction not only to yourself and the Party of which you are a member but also to the Senate and the Australian Parliament. I believe that all members of the Senate join with me in extending congratulations to you.
I wish to deal now with the amendment that has been moved by the Leader of the Opposition. Firstly, he said that the Government appears to have dropped the idea of claiming that it has a mandate. I remind the Leader of the Opposition that, in the second paragraph of his Speech, His Excellency the Governor-General said, on the advice of his Ministers, that in the elections for both Houses of Parliament on 18 May 1974 the people of Australia confirmed their decision of 2 December 1972. What was the decision of the people on 2 December 1972? After having had a conservative government for 23 years- after maladministration of the affairs of this countrythey decided that it was time to turn to the Labor movement for the guidance of the nation’s destiny. Again, after a great number of threats had been made in another place and in this House over a period of some 14 months, whilst the Government was laying down its initial plans for the development and construction of a new Australia, based on the outline of the policy speech of the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) of November 1972 and supported by the Australian people on 2 December 1972, these people, by political manoeuvres in which they were aided and abetted by another political party that was represented in this chamber at that time, went to the Australian people and said: ‘We will put the Government to the test’. The test came. The Government was returned in the House of Representatives.
– With a reduced majority.
-With a slightly reduced majority but overall- collectively so far as votes throughout Australia are concerned- with a majority of votes being cast by the Australian people in support of the policies and candidates of the Australian Labor Party. So far as the Senate is concerned we no longer have a situation in which a combination of members of the Liberal Party, the Australian Country Party, the National Alliance or whatever else it calls itself, and the Australian Democratic Labor Party can, by sheer numbers, outweigh the will of the Australian people. The Leader of the Opposition wants the Australian people to accept that the Australian Labor Party has no mandate to govern. I wonder what our friends in Mr McManus, Mr Little, Mr Kane, Mr Byrne, are thinking of those remarks. The simple fact, as I have said, is that the Government has a majority of members in the House of Representatives and indeed equal numbers in the Senate as the combined membership of the Liberal Party and the Country Party. As I have said, those who were part and parcel of the double dissolution arrangement, members of a party that had been represented in this Parliament for nearly 2 decades, namely the Australian Democratic Labor Party, have been annihilated politically. In contradistinction to that which the Leader of the Opposition has put in this place this afternoon, I say that the Speech of the Governor-General indicates that this Government is one of great construction and certainly one which has a plan which will progress and better the future of this nation.
I am rather interested in the amendment which has been moved by Senator Withers. I will come to that very shortly because in the time that is available to me I want to say something briefly about the Opposition’s record when it was in office on the issue of inflation. We all remember that in 1949 when the Chifley Labor Government was defeated Mr Menzies, as he then was, was swept into office on the basis that he would put value back into the pound. The simple fact is that in the 23 years of Liberal-Country Party government we had as many credit squeezes in a decade as there are seasons in a year.
– And unemployment.
-Not only did we have credit squeezes as a result of that Government’s attempts to combat inflation but also, as my colleague Senator McAuliffe said, there was terrible unemployment involving countless thousands of Australians being out of work, aimlessly walking and searching the streets of this country looking for work.
– The position will be worse under this Government.
Senator DOUGLAS McCLELLANDDespite what Senator Greenwood says by way of interjection, I refer him to the second page of the Governor-General’s Speech in which it is said that in determining priorities and in carrying out its program while continuing the fight against inflation, the Australian Government will be guided by certain principles, one of which is protection for the weaker sections of the community. It is to this Government’s credit that it has been conducting its legislative program over the last 14 or 15 months to bring about a better form of equity in Australia than that which previously existed so far as social classes are concerned after 23 years of Liberal-Country Party administration. Another principle by which this Government will be guided- I emphasise these words for the benefit of Senator Greenwood- is a firm commitment to the principle of full employment. In our fight against inflation we will certainly not be adopting the policies that were pursued by our political opponents when they sadly and miserably failed in their attempts to tackle inflation by creating the great dilemma and the poverty that is connected with unemployment. The Opposition’s amendment is an example of the old saying that the more things change, the more they stay the same because it is the same old pointless obstructionism, the same old meaningless pontification. It is as though, as it were, the old rooster has been thrown out of the hen-house and is still trying to pretend that he is cock of the walk. As Senator Withers said, this is the third time in the last 18 months that there has been a speech from the throne in this chamber. It is the third time in the last 18 months that the Opposition in this Senate has pulled on the pointless tactic of moving an amendment to the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply. It is the third time that the Opposition has shown it is getting more concerned with mere bluster and delay than it is with allowing the Government to get with the task of administering the affairs of this nation and presenting legislation to this Parliament and trying to improve things in Australia today.
As we all know, the Address-in-Reply has traditionally performed a very useful purpose in this Senate and, I suppose it is fair to say, in the whole Parliament. Surely no one would question that. The Address-in-Reply debate has provided opportunities for all members of Parliament to raise for consideration points that they regard as important in the administration of the affairs of our nation. But traditionally these points have been raised as a legitimate form of debate, superimposed on the paying of courtesies to the representative of the monarch of, and in, Australia. The Address-in-Reply debate has been used, in particular, as a means of allowing new members of both Houses to test their skills, to make known their political philosophies and their stances on ideology, and also to enable them to indicate and clarify the issues that they will regard as being important during their life in the Parliament. As well, the Address-in-Reply debate is a ceremonial gesture to His Excellency the Governor-General.
The amendment moved by Senator Withers is very similar in verbiage to the one moved in March this year and to the one moved in March last year. The amendment has no positive practical application or relevance. However, it does have, I suggest, practical implications of a negative kind because by once again proposing a motion like this the Opposition is probably ensuring that the new members of this Parliament will have fewer opportunities to make known their own personal political stances. Their minds and energies are more directed to the task of either, so far as Opposition senators are concerned, defending the attitude of their leader or, so far as Government supporters are concerned, supporting the constructive attitude adopted by the Government. The Opposition’s amendment is put forward, I suppose, as a challenge to the Government and as such it invites the Government to reply with heavier ammunition than it might normally use. If we were to ignore this time-wasting move it is obvious that we would run the risk of appearing to back down from a challenge, and I dare say that is a situation that the Opposition would welcome. But we on the Government side, being proud already of the record and achievement of this Government in such a short space of time, being proud of the blueprint that has been laid out by the Prime Minister for constructive government for the next 3 years, will stand here to the last to defend our attitudes and our actions and the path that we intend to walk.
The Government has no intention of backing away from the challenge that has been issued. As a responsible Government, however, we obviously must have higher aspirations for real achievement-these matters are outlined in the Governor-General’s Speech- than the Opposition has displayed by moving this amendment. This present stance of the Opposition reminds me of the attitude that we so often see taken by children when they are playing because what the Opposition is trying to say is what schoolchildren say when things have not gone well for them. The Opposition is trying to say: ‘It is our ball game and we own the game as well as the ball’. The trouble is that the Opposition does not own the ball, as it was told by the Australian people on 18 May, and it does not own the game. Now that there are new senators in this chamber the Opposition is going to see, I am sure, that the paths over which they have trodden in the last 14 or15 months have been much easier and more comfortable for them than the paths they will have to tread in the immediate future.
I know that there are those who have believed in the past that the situation in the last Parliament was one which resulted largely from the collapse of the Liberal Party rather than a widespread acceptance of the Labor movement as a government. I personally do not agree with that view and never have. But even those who have agreed with it can hardly find it a reasonable explanation of all later elections. Certainly it cannot be entertained now as an acceptable hypothesis to explain the latest electoral choice of the Australian people. The people had every opportunity to hear and note the Opposition’s criticisms of the Government. They saw the expensive television advertising campaign that was conducted non-stop by our political opponents for 3 weeks, and despite all the finance, the wherewithal, available to our political opponents, despite their great expenditure on the air-waves of this nation, the Australian people turned out on 18 May and returned the Government to office.
Nor can the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate claim today that the composition of the Parliament is the result of the temporary electoral insanity of the 2 most populous States, Victoria and New South Wales. What the Leader of the Opposition must do if he is to justify the trust that a section of the people have placed in him obviously is to accept the reality- and I say this to all members of the Opposition- that the Opposition lost and no longer has the confidence of the majority of the Australian people. Therefore, I believe that this motion is a test of the attitudes of the new Senate that was sworn in this week. Simply put, I suggest that the question is: Do we, as a responsible House of Parliament, devote our time, our talents and our energies to the discussion of an amendment that has never been intended to have a major practical application for the governing of Australia, or do we allow the opportunity to new senators in particular to settle into this chamber with a relatively smooth debate on the Address-in-Reply and then getting down to the real business of legislating for the good of this country? We have, after all, the immediate prospect of considerable debate on topics of all kinds in the course not only of the next three to four weeks but also of the Budget session of the Parliament. The people made thendecision and if the Leader of the Opposition says that the Liberals were not defeated we say that the Labor movement won.
Now let me come to the context of the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition. It is a very interesting amendment when one compares it with the last 2 previous amendments moved by the Opposition on occasions such as this. Today the Leader of the Opposition moved:
That the following words be added to the AddressinReply: But the Senate is of the opinion that
1 ) The Government is unable to handle the economic problems that confront Australia because its policies of
deliberately creating an intolerable rate of inflation;
creating unemployment; and
applying a credit squeeze with high interest rates have led to distressing social and economic dislocation; and
The Government is to be condemned for its continued confrontation with the State Governments and the undermining of their rights and responsibilities.
Compare that amendment with the amendment that was moved by Senator Withers on 6 March which stated:-
That the following words be added to the motion: but the Senate is of the opinion and regrets that Her Majesty was not informed by the Government of the true position in Australia in that it has-
created an intolerably high level of inflation and has taken no effective steps to stop it -
Practically the same verbiage as today’s amendment.
That amendment was put to this Parliament on 6 March and the matters referred to in it were put to the Australian people on 18 May. The Australian people overwhelmingly rejected them and today, despite the mandate given to the Government by the Australian people, in typical fashion- as Senator Poyser uses the expression, like cockatoos- the Opposition comes back with an amendment similarly worded to the one moved on 6 March this year. But one can go back further, to 8 March 1973.
– I think you are running away the long way.
-The honourable senator has had the same old parrot cry ever since this Government came into office. When the members of the Opposition can get down to some constructive attitudes the Australian public may have a second look at them. In order to examine further this amendment that has been proffered today, apart from comparing it with the one moved only last March which was completely rejected by the Australian people in May this year, let us go to the amendment moved in March 1973, 4 months after this Government was elected to office. The Opposition then sought to add these words to the Address-in-Reply: but the Senate is of the opinion and regrets that- The Government in its conduct of the nation’s affairs has subordinated the security and welfare of the Australian people on whose behalf it should govern to the factional decisions of the Conference and Executive of the Australian Labor Party, in that:
The amendment moved today expresses a mere rehash of past attitudes adopted by a negative and nebulous Opposition. They are amendment happy. I suggest that when Mr Snedden said: ‘I did not win but I have not lost’, he should have claimed: ‘We were not defeated, we just did not win enough seats.’ To that he may have added also that the Labor Party has formed a government and that this Labor Government, having received a second mandate from the Australian people, is now embarking on a constructive rebuilding of this nation after 23 years of neglect by Liberal-Country Party Administrations. I am sure that there are some honourable senators here today who whilst not members of the Government are not tied to the despairing philosophy adopted by Mr Snedden and the Liberal Party after the recent elections. I appeal to their sense of realism and their sense of responsibility, not just as senators but as elected representatives of the Australian people to reject this amendment forthwith and turn to much more important matters of state, including the normal discussion of the Address-in-Reply. I commend the Government for a very constructive approach which was revealed in the words uttered by His Excellency the GovernorGeneral in the Senate yesterday. I believe that this nation is headed for a period of sound government and of wise progress, bringing about great social progress and a balancing of the inequities that developed under the previous Administrations. I ask that the Senate reject the amendment to the Address-in-Reply moved by the Leader of the Opposition.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Webster)- I call Senator Scott.
- Mr Deputy President, it has been suggested to me that because this will be Senator Scott’s maiden speech the sitting of the Senate be suspended until 8 p.m. I have no objection to that course being followed.
Sitting suspended from 5.41 to 8 p.m.
- Mr President, I congratulate the mover and seconder of this amendment to the AddressinReply and congratulate honourable senators who today have made their maiden speeches. I know exactly how they may have felt because I am not all that far divorced from my own maiden speech. It is my province tonight to support basically the amendment moved to the Address-in-Reply. During the 3Vi years since I was last a member of this august chamber of this most important national Parliament I have had the opportunity as a member of the Australian community to observe at least 2 clear divisions. In the first part of that time we were aware of an economic situation in which basically we were confronted with falling prices on the world scene. In a very large area of Australia we were confronted with a climatic situation that involved us in at least a degree of recession. It was a recession in which we were only part of the total world scene, in the main, participating in that same sort of recession. By December 1972 we had reached, among other things, an inflation rate of some 4.2 per cent. Certainly, this situation caused considerable alarm, not only among ourselves but also throughout the entire Australian electorate. That was the position in the first period during which I was away from this chamber.
In the second part of that period we saw, somewhat ironically, immensely improved prices on the world scene for virtually every product that this country exports. These prices and the result they have had on the Australian economy has been a saving grace in this second part of my time away from the Senate. But it is somewhat disturbing to find that in these circumstances, in spite of high export prices over a very wide field, we are seeing a considerable drain on our overseas credit. In the short term, this is serious; in the long term, it could well be disastrous. It is an area from which none of us can take any solace. It is an area in which it is incredibly important that we aim our attitudes and abilities towards solving the problem. Mr President, in this same period I have seen, as you will have seen, the search for oil and gas and the search for minerals becoming less intensive in the Australian scene than it should have been. It was that very search in these areas and the exciting production that resulted from it that enabled us in a time of oil crisis to be in a situation in which we produced approximately 72 per cent of our own fuel requirements. It is eminently important that we should maintain a situation in our search for oil and gas that will enable us to remain, to a marked measure, independent in the areas of oil and energy.
In the 1 8 months or so that formed the second part of my period away from the Senate chamber I have seen, as we have all seen, inflation move not at 4.2 per cent but at a staggering 16 per cent, and it is still increasing. This is the sort of thing that must cause very great concern to the Australian community. Inflation is running now at a level which is extremely high, even by world standards. In 1 972 our rate of inflation attained a level which was undesirable but relatively low by world standards. One of the effects of all this is a loss of confidence by the people of this great society, country and economy. In this situation, very regretfully, a measure of unemployment must follow. This is becoming a real hazard in our time. I am speaking of right now. How can the position be otherwise? We are in a serious position in Australia today when, in a situation of industrial unrest, we find that more and more money is chasing fewer and fewer goods and services. Of course, that is the classic situation for an inflationary circumstance. That is the situation which makes us determined and in which we find it necessary to move the amendment which has been moved tonight.
In spite of a period of high prices, there is a marked measure of uncertainty in the great wool industry. Again, despite extremely high prices being paid internationally at the moment, the same situation exists in the wheat industry. In the case of the wheat industry, we have been saved by an extraordinary increase in the world price of wheat. Yet, the circumstances are such that unless we have better than equalisation, unless we have stabilisation, unless we have significantly high first payments in the industry and unless we have prices that are in excess of $2 a bushel, it is extremely doubtful whether the industry will remain solvent. Even today there is no great move towards increasing production in this great Australian industry. We must be aware that, among other things, a contributor to these circumstances has been a somewhat ruthless attitude to tariffs and revaluation. Revaluation of the Australian dollar has done more harm than good to Australia’s great export industries. Whilst admitting the tremendous importance of analysing and adjusting a tariff situation, and whilst admitting that tariff control is the measure by which we control the allocation or the resources of a nation, I submit that it is somewhat unintelligent and indeed quite dangerous to reduce tariffs suddenly, almost desperately, across the board without concern for individual industries or economic and social realities. Whilst I certainly submit to a realistic appraisal of the tariff situation, I am appalled at the dangers that it carries when it is done in a somewhat ruthless and, I believe, illogical manner.
In this circumstance we are aware of the affirmed determination of the Governor- I am now quoting-‘ to carry out, fully and promptly, the program for change twice endorsed by the Australian people ‘. I say we are aware of that because it seems to me even more dangerous to express an even greater determination to carry out a series of actions that are in fact bringing about some of the disastrous situations in the Australian economy today. I submit that it is time that the government made a realistic reappraisal of some of these attitudes since it is relatively simple to establish that they have contributed results which, I am sure, the Government, and certainly the people of Australia, would not have wanted.
Are we to see a continuing expansion of central government power and control constantly reducing the freedom of the individual? This is so far away from the basic attitude of an Australian democratic way that it should be abandoned. It is a way that could conceivably produce a government as a monopolist- and the word ‘monopoly’ is anathema to a socialist. It could produce the situation where the Government instead of employing 25 per cent of the people may well employ them all. This would be a sad reflection on the Australian individual who had through the use of his vigour and through his own laws, majority held and developed, established this great society and this great economy. There is, I submit, no socialist Utopia just around the corner and we had best be careful that we do not move from a position in the centre to a position of the extreme Left, for the position of the extreme Left can be not a socialist Utopia but only some form of dictatorship.
Australian democracy, which I believe is the Australian way, has reached great stature because of individualism. We must be careful that we do not become a pawn of foreign ideologies and alignments, for there are many foreign involvements other than foreign capital to which we may become captive. We should never forget this. We must retain freedom of choice within the common law if we are to survive as a free democracy in the tradition of the Australian people. These things I believe, because of the happenings of the last 18 months in particular, have been put under dire strain and threat.
I suggest that the strength of our society is dependent on our capacity to have Government close to the people, our capacity to see involvement of the people in Government. This I see as facing a distinct hazard these days. There seems to be no reason at all to support any other view in a country geographically as vast as Australia and with such differing climates, faced with economic and social problems of great variety. There seems to be no reason at all to tend to move government in that circumstance away from the people. There seems to be no reason at all to get away from the basic principle in our democracy of the community’s involvement in government, the power and involvement of the people on the spot, so that their knowledge and priorities may have proper significance. In this context surely the question of the sovereignty and power of the States is fundamental at this time. We in this chamber constitute a States House, and we are witnessing an immense threat to the sovereign powers of the States of Australia. In a process of decentralisation and development surely the first thing that must happen is that there must be strong and responsible States, for in the State field the member, by reason of his electorate, is physically closer to his electors, and the State government, by reason of the geographical situation, is physically closer to its electors. It would be a sad day for Australia if we were to witness the development of a situation in which the strength of this type of sovereignty and basic decentralisation were at stake.
Through the State governments we go to local government, and local government is in distinct tremor today. Local government with the power and involvement of people on the spot is as basic to Australian democracy as is the strength, sovereignty and involvement of the people through their State parliaments. Today we see in almost every financial area tight strings- chains, if you like- attached from the central government to the States and consequently on to the local government areas. These strings are making a mockery of the people on the spot, the people it is all about. I believe there is no more perfect example of this sort of thing than the result of the negotiations recently concluded between the Federal Government and the States. As a result of those negotiations, my own State of New South Wales- I could speak of a number of areas but for the purposes of this illustration I will confine my remarks to roads- the Bureau of Roads recommendation was for a contribution from the Federal Government of grants totalling $350m plus 1 7 per cent over the 3-year period. The amount granted by the Federal Government was 17 per cent less than the Bureau of Roads recommendation. Yet the Federal Government insisted that New South Wales, through its Government, should find the exact amount of the recommendation of the Bureau of Roads- an amount of $4 14m. It was further suggested that the expenditure of $4 14m of the State’s own money should be referable to the Federal Government before it was permissible to spend it. I believe that is an extraordinarily tough, dictatorial and unacceptable position.
I believe that in this circumstance where decentralisation and development of the great States of this country are at stake real consideration must be given to the absolute necessity for
States to share percentage-wise in the income tax returns from their particular areas. Surely this is one clear way in which a State can achieve some share of the fruits- for want of a better name- of inflation. In the Federal field, without altering income tax rates, the Federal Government is to receive in excess of $ 1,500m more money from taxation in this year. I submit it is reasonable indeed and necessary that the States, if they are to provide the services and the government which they do provide, should be in some measure concerned with that type of growth tax situation. Otherwise their capacity is to be totally denied through financial stricture.
In closing may I say that I have considerable concern for and some knowledge of primary industry. I have been disturbed in the last 18 months to see the ruthless ripping away not of hand-outs, but of intelligent compensations to primary industry. When I speak of primary industry and the strife that this ripping away is causing, let me say that primary industry to me involves a vast cross section of the Australian people. It involves not only the farmer- not only the man who grows grain, produces wool, meat, pigs, dairy products and so on. Primary industry involves not only those people; in fact they are the minority of beneficiaries from many of these things that have been done. The people concerned are the people who live and work in the towns, villages and the provincial cities and indeed in the great metropolitan cities of our coastline. These are the people who are concerned, because when a government does things such as increasing, as in the last Budget, the price of petrol by 5c a gallon and a further 2c a gallon in the country areas and when, as happened recently, it increases the price of petrol further by an amount varying from lc a gallon to about 3 lc a gallon in the centre of Australia and in the Northern Territory, it is creating problems not so much for the farmer as it is for those vast numbers of people who live in the great smog and pollution free area of Australia. I refer to the country areas of Australia which must become great if Australia is to become a balanced whole. Those are the people the Government is attacking.
Likewise I refer to tax concessions. What has the Government done? It is literally contributing to destroying this country’s capacity to conserve fodder, conserve water in one of the driest lands on earth and to cut up properties into sizes in which they can be properly and increasingly grazed. A measure of these things is being destroyed by taking away the taxation concessions to which I refer. The superphosphate bounty, which was likewise ripped away, is just one other example of an attack not so much on the farmer but on the total rural community and, indeed, on the people who work in the phosphate works around the coastline, the people who are involved in freight in the railways, the people who are involved in aerial agriculture and so on. As these concessions- investment allowances and the like- are lost there is going to be a great problem in the area of those industries which produce agricultural machinery and of the industries involved in the servicing and selling of these machines such as trucks and spreaders. Right across the board there is a serious involvement.
There are the increases in postal charges, the gradual removal of aid to rural air transport and many other similar measures. These are just a few of the things that are happening around us which are tending to destroy a great economy and a great society. I urge the Government to take cognisance of” these things and act while there is still time. I support the amendment to the Address-in-Reply which states:
But the Senate is of the opinion that
1 ) The Government is unable to handle the economic problems that confront Australia because its policies of
deliberately creating an intolerable rate of inflation;
I think I indicated at some length how that is coming about. There is more and more money chasing fewer goods and services. The amendment continues:
No one would deliberately do that, but it is a real offshoot of the policies and the acts that have been taking place-
Again an area of increasing cost- have led to distressing social and economic dislocation; and
I hope that I have indicated in the short time available to me that those rights and responsibilities are basic to the survival and growth of this great country.
– Order! I am pleased to remind the Senate that the honourable senator, John Norman Button, is about to address the Senate in making his maiden speech. I am sure that all honourable senators recognise the long observed custom that a senator makes his maiden speech without assistance by way of interjections from his more experienced fellow senators.
– I rise to support the motion before the Chair. Before doing so I should like to join with my colleagues in congratulating you, Mr President, on your election to your high office which I am sure you will discharge with dignity and impartiality. I should also like to congratulate Senator Webster upon being elected as Chairman of Committees and to congratulate the other speakers who have contributed for the first time to the debate in the Senate today.
In the last 18 months or so most commentators have’ observed that we live in dramatic political times in Australia. We have had 2 elections in 1 8 months and, if I may express a private view, the second of those elections was perhaps logically necessary to convince some honourable senators in this chamber that the wish of the Australian people as expressed in 1972 for change in our community and in our society generally still existed strongly in the minds of the Australian people. The Party of which I am a member has formed a Government which is committed to change in our society, and of course change can never be painless. In the last 18 months, from certain sections of our community we have heard evidence of the pain which is being experienced by those who feel themselves threatened by the changes which the Australian people regard as necessary. Whether we be Opposition senators in this chamber or ordinary citizens in the community, our capacity to adapt to change will determine our future viability as a nation.
I shall refer to 4 areas of the GovernorGeneral’s Speech which indicate the Government’s concern for change. These are areas in which change is taking place, whether this Parliament or this Senate agrees with it or not. The first of those areas is the industrial relations field. In the industrial relations field in Australia we are moving gradually from a compulsory arbitration system, which was revered and admired in other countries many years ago but which in the last few years has been subjected to numerous pressures in many instances, to a system of collective bargaining which involves the community in social change of an important kind. The legislation relating to the amalgamation of industrial organisations and to industrial agreements which has come before this Senate and been rejected, and which will again come before this Senate, refers to areas in which the Government’s policy recognises the changes which are taking place in our society’s activities.
The second area is that of health insurance. Last year the Australian people were subjected to what was sometimes described as the great health debate. It continued for many months. It revolved around the Government’s program which had been well researched and well considered and which was opposed by a party which had no alternative health insurance program to offer to the Australian people- and even at this stage that party has no viable health insurance program to offer to the Australian people. The important point I make about the health insurance program and the changes which are taking place in the industrial relations field is simply that in both areas the Government’s policies represent an enlargement of the freedoms of the Australian people. They remove the fear of the consequences of ill health for a very substantial proportion of our community and they allow freedom of association in industrial organisations.
The field of education was also dealt with in His Excellency’s Speech. The Government which came into office in 1972 inherited a situation in which there was gross inequality in educational opportunity in Australia. Although the Government’s program may be criticised in detail, it represents a massive commitment to the abolition of the inequalities in educational opportunity which existed throughout Australia. Again it is a question of raising the options and the freedoms of masses of the Australian people who cannot afford economically to make decisions which benefit their own children and who have to rely on the system which is provided by the State.
The fourth area to which I refer relates to the national estate. This again was a subject to which reference was made in His Excellency’s Speech. The Government’s proposals recognise that the Australian people have a right to enjoy this country’s historical heritage and its unique environment, and that that right should not be limited by the interests of particular groups in our community who are concerned, for private gain, to take those rights away from the Australian people. Again in the last few years in Australia we have changed from a society which was dedicated to the idea of growth at any price to a society which is suddenly realising that there are more important things in the lives of the ordinary people of Australia than the building of vast city blocks and the growth of cities at the rate which has occurred. Our society has realised that in Australia there are things which we value and which all the Australian people should have the opportunity to share. All these matters to which I have referred involve change. They also involve, in their own way, an enlargement of the freedoms of the Australian people.
In the last few months there has been much talk about threats to the freedom of individual Australians, but there has been little analysis of the meaning of the word ‘freedom’. Under the government which we had in this country only 2 years ago people were free to make Sim on the share market overnight by inside trading. In order to give an indication of the freedom that we were guaranteed in this country under the previous government one needs only to refer to the denial of freedom to conscripts who were sent to Vietnam. That was the sort of freedom that existed in practice 2 years ago under the previous government. But there are other concepts involved in freedom, and I will briefly refer to them. First of all, there is the concept of civil liberties. While much is said about freedom, after 18 months of Labor Government not many people can really point the finger and say that this Government has in any way detracted from the civil liberties of Australian citizens. Secondly, I believe that we, as a Government, have tried to instill into our community the idea that there is such a thing as economic freedom in terms of freedom from unemployment, freedom to make decisions about where you send your children to school and freedom to make decisions about what you do with your leisure- all sorts of things which flow from a more equitable distribution of wealth in our society. There is freedom from the blight of unemployment and there is the question of equality of opportunity in education. These are new and real freedoms which the Government has started to give to the Australian people in the last 18 months.
When we talk about freedom, let us look at what the concept of freedom really means in real terms for the Australian people and not for certain selected individuals in our society. There is another area in which there has been an important change in our society and in which very few changes have taken place. I refer to the Constitution which provides the framework of government in Australia. It is sometimes stated by Opposition spokesmen that in some peculiar way which has never been explained to my satisfaction, the existing federal structure in Australia provides a bulwark for the freedom of the individual. I have never heard any evidence for that assertion, and I look forward to hearing it in this chamber because whatever we do we must be sure that the democratic institutions and the framework of government in Australia reflect the aspirations of the Australian people and allow the members of this chamber and of the other chamber to act in a way which fulfils the aspirations of the Australian people in the 1970s.
I have sometimes heard Opposition senators speaking of the Australian Constitution with the reverence which an antique salesman sometimes displays when he is trying to sell an old chair. The point is always made that because of the age of the chair its value is so much greater. While that may apply to furniture it cannot apply to the framework of government in Australia in the 1970s. In the last 12 months 5 referenda were brought before the Australian people by the Government. All were opposed by the Opposition parties for motives which seemed to me to be less than elevating if one analyses the requirements of a modern constitution in a country such as ours. It is significant that in 1959 two of those proposed changes were recommended by an all-party committee which reviewed the Constitution. By 1972, some 13 years of LiberalCountry Party Government later, none of those changes had taken place although they were regarded as essential by that committee in 1 959.
When one talks about the Constitution one must consider it as a framework of government not only for the protection of liberty but also for the efficient management of our society. In 1959 the Constitutional Review Committee referred to the enormous costs involved in High Court litigation arising from problems associated with sections of the Constitution which were considered appropriate in 1 90 1 but which are no longer appropriate in 1974. I point to this matter as another area of change with which I believe we should all be concerned.
Last night a distinguished Australian, speaking to members of this chamber and to others, made the very important comment that parliamentary government seemed to be under attack in many places throughout the world. That is true indeed. The reasons given for attacks on parliamentary systems of government were largely external to the systems themselves. One thing we must be vigilant to avoid in Australia is an attack on parliamentary institutions which would render them unable to fulfil their responsibilities to the Australian people. If we are not able to adopt a flexible framework of government, if we are not able to approach constitutional issues on the basis of assessing questions as matters of national importance and with mutual goodwill, then we will be in grave difficulty in preserving the parliamentary institutions in Australia. It is sometimes said that efficiency in government is not so important as the protection of individual liberties. It is sometimes put that those are contrary concepts; that if one has an efficient government it follows that it must therefore be a government which is not concerned with the liberty of the individual. That has been put as an argument in defence of the existing federal structure in Australia. It is, of course, a structure which has served us reasonably well over the past 73 years or so, but in the 1 970s we must surely examine whether it is going to do that for us in the future. We cannot succeed in ensuring both efficiency in government and the well-being and liberty of the people of Australia if, in 1974, we are not concerning ourselves with issues of the 1 980s as well with the structure of government which was laid down in 1901.
Mr President, I am grateful for the opportunity to address the chamber. When coming to a new place one often feels doubt about the accumulated wisdom of many years and whether one should make observations which may appear forthright. I commend the motion to you.
– I am pleased to attract the attention of honourable senators to the next speaker, Senator Peter Baume, who is about to make his maiden speech. I am sure that the traditional courtesies will be extended to Senator Baume.
– I rise to support the amendment to the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply moved by my leader, the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Withers), so well earlier this afternoon. I would like to congratulate the honourable senators who moved and seconded the motion for the adoption of the AddressinReply, and to congratulate also the other speakers who have made their maiden speech. How relieved they must feel. That is how I hope I will feel soon. I take this opportunity to congratulate you, Mr President, on your election to office yesterday. I realise that my introduction to this chamber, and what I shall learn here, is done under your guidance. I look forward to a long association with you. I thank the Clerk of the Senate the officers and the officials, and particularly the Library staff who already have made me, an ex-academic, feel completely at home.
At the election on 1 8 May we elected 60 senators and 127 members of the other House, a total of 187, and the last position to be filled, the 187th, is the one which I have the honour to hold. It took some weeks and not a little discomfort. I would like to say that although I am the last man in I do not intend, if I can help it, to be the first man out and I know that my vote will count in this place equally with that of anyone else.
Turning to the debate, I would like to commence my remarks by quoting the first sentence of the Governor-General’s Speech yesterday. The Governor-General said:
In the elections Tor both Houses of Parliament on 18 May 1974. the people of Australia confirmed their decision of 2 December 1972.
I would like to suggest that that statement has a number of meanings. One of them is that the Labor Party remains in the minority in this chamber. It is not permitted to govern this country unsupervised. It is equally true that we on this side remain in the minority. It follows that the Senate has retained its independence because it is a chamber where no single party has a majority. That independence has served this chamber well over the last few years. The election did more than that, Mr President. It resulted in this chamber having 25 per cent of its members as new members. Fifteen out of the 60 senators have not been here before. Perhaps I should except Senator Scott who has been here before, but briefly. In fact the Senate is a new Senate. It is a different Senate. It has a new President. There is no point in suggesting that this Senate is identical in any way with the Senate which ceased to exist before the last election. The point I am getting round to is that no one could or should assume that any measure previously introduced into the last parliament, and dealt with by the Senate as it was, has in any way been considered, or seen, or dealt with by this Senate. I take the view that I and other senators are entitled to look at all legislation that comes here and to examine and debate it fully. To do any less would be wrong and not in the best interests of this House.
I am happy to support the amendment which my Leader has moved. I believe that the people of Australia today are troubled by the performance of the Labor Government. They are troubled because the promises made before the election in December 1 972 have not been translated into the kind of action which people expected. I would like to select just a few areas on which to comment. I will remind the Senate of what happened by going back to the 1 972 policy speech made by Mr Whitlam. When speaking about employment he said ‘that Labor’s first priority would be to restore genuine full employment, without qualification, without hedging’. That was what was said in 1972 but now, less than 2 years later, unemployment is increasing in this country. We have all the indications that in this country one of the freedoms which we are to be allowed to enjoy is the freedom not to have a job.
In this country in June job vacancies had dropped by 1 5.8 per cent to a figure of 62, 1 80. Fewer jobs are available in Australia today. Philips Industries in South Australia is fearful that it will have to put off 1,850 men. The Leyland Motor Corporation of Australia has already put off 1,000 men in Sydney. None of these people thinks that there is full employment today. The textile industry is suffering the effects of policy initiatives, and unemployment is one of the things that has come to this industry. It has come from a Government, which is committed- I quote again from yesterday’s Speech- ‘to the principle of full employment’. I do not believe that its performance is good enough. I do not believe that it matches up to the promises made to us and to all the Australian people. I see nothing in the Speech made yesterday to suggest that things will get any better. I quote again from the policy speech made in April 1974. Mr Whitlam stated:
The Australian economy is one of the most buoyant and vigorous in the world.
If that statement is true, why are we in such economic trouble today? Labor has taken on inflation and clearly has failed to control it. Our amendment draws attention to this failure to deal adequately with inflation. Labor has produced a situation in which demand has increased because government spending has risen in an unrestrained fashion. There are shortages all over the country. When my wife and I go shopping for groceries, like every other husband who goes shopping, I find that the supermarket shelves are marked: ‘Manufacturer unable to supply’. We cannot find nails, wire or the things we need to repair our homes. When I was campaigning in the country I found that countrymen were unable to buy the fencing wire they needed. There are shortages everywhere.
Wages are increasing at an astronomical rate. Because of wage increases the pensions now represent an amount less than 20 per cent of average weekly earnings instead of a promised figure which was to be considerably higher than that figure. Inflation, as I see it today, is at a higher than any rate which people in my generation have known, and it has risen not under a Liberal government but under a Labor government which is supposedly committed to the care of the little man. I quote again from the election pamphlet which was put out by the Labor Party before 1972. The little pamphlet is called ‘It’s time’. I quote from the part marked ‘Economies’:
We find people everywhere being hurt, having it really hard, without ever knowing why. Why, in the ‘lucky country’, are the sick, the old, the poor, the breadwinners on low incomes, the one-man farms and businesses being steadily driven to the wall? Why has our rate of inflation grown so fast that the interest rate on money we save no longer even covers the loss from inflation? Why is everyone on a fixed income feeling the pinch?
That statement seems pretty familiar. It was stated by the Labor Party prior to December 1972, and it just about fits the bill for June 1974. I deal now with the housing situation in Australia. I think that one of the freedoms which we should have in this country is the freedom to have a home. I point out that our concern about housing is a genuine concern. Most of us have homes. If we have a concern about housing, it is about homes for other people. But what is happening in Australia today? I refer to the area of private homes. I quote again from the GovernorGeneral ‘s Speech yesterday. He said:
The home-building industry remains over stretched despite efforts by my Government to bring about a moderate abatement in the level of activity.
As I read that portion of the Speech, it seems to me that the Government is promising further reduction in the ability of Australians to build and to own their homes. I see no other way for the Government to say that the home building industry is over stretched and it wants to see the activity abate. If private housing is to be purposely and deliberately slowed, I cannot see much benefit to the people of Australia who lack homes, who want them and who hope to get them from this Party of reform. Home prices have risen. I take as an example the home prices in Sydney in December 1972. The average commencement value of a home was $16,170. In December 1973, one year later, it had risen to $19,744. 1 bought my home for $18,000 six years ago. If I had had to pay the prices being charged now for the same kind of home, I would not have been able to move in or find anywhere to live.
Home finance is not available in Australia today. Many people have come to me simply to say: ‘We cannot buy the home in which we wish to live. No one can lend us money’. It is the little Australian who is being hurt. He is being hurt not only because money is not available but because he has to pay so much interest if he finds a source of money. In 1972 a savings bank charged between 6’/4 and 6% per cent interest on money that it lent on a home. The rate is now 714 or 7% per cent. Interest rates have been raised by a Labor Government, and they are about to rise further. The average rate charged by a building society in 1972 was 8 per cent. It is now 1 134 per cent. In 1972 the rate at which an insurance company would lend money was *6V** per cent. It is now 10½ per cent and is about to rise further.
The imposition of those extra interest rates makes the average monthly repayments so much more expensive. If a person borrowed from a building society an average loan of $15,000 repayable over 25 years, bis repayments would have been increased over the period that I have mentioned by $49.50 a month. The Labor Party is asking the little men and women of Australia to find an extra $50 a month out of their pockets to finance the inflation which has been introduced and which is being fed by this Government. As honourable senators will have seen in the newspapers today, trading bank interest rates might go as high as 1 1 V4 per cent. It could mean that if a person who had borrowed $20,000 could not increase the amount which he paid each month his loan might never terminate. If he was borrowing over 20 years at 1 1.5 per cent and if he could not increase his repayments, he would never pay out the loan. If a person were borrowing over 15 years and if he elected not to increase his repayments, his loan would not be paid out for 2 1 years- an increase of 6 years. I point out that the number of housing commencements in New South Wales in the March quarter of 1974 was the lowest number since March 1972.
I wish to mention briefly our defence capability and capacity. Our defence has been weakened under this Government. I believe that it is a very serious matter that our country is less able to defend itself today than it was 2 years ago. The manpower in the defence forces in June 1973 numbered 74,000. In June 1974 it numbered 68,000, a loss of 6,000 men or approximately 7 per cent if my arithmetic is correct. Let us look at the situation with respect to male Army officers. Thirty officers resigned from the Australian Army in the March quarter of 1973. In the same period a year later 157 officers resigned. Let us look at the loss of senior officers from the Australian Army. In May 1973, 5 men at or above the rank of lieutenant-colonel left the Services. A year later 39 men of that rank left. I wish to quote again from one of Labor’s ‘It’s time’ folders that dates back to 1972. Concerning defence it states: A Labor Government will transform Australia’s defences’. I believe that this is one promise that the Labor Government has kept. The Army is less well equipped. The Air Force is less well equipped. We have a squadron less at Williamtown. We have less ships. We have less equipment. Our procurement programs are behind. The morale in the Services is down, the esprit de corps is disappearing and the professionalism is being seriously weakened. That is a poor record. It is not one to give us confidence for the future. I believe that the Labor Party cannot deliver on the promises it made in 1972. I see nothing 18 months later to indicate that it can deliver on them.
I believe that the major areas in which Labor has made proposals are in the fields of social welfare. I would like to make it clear that social welfare initiatives do not come only from one side of the chamber. My Party has a proud record of initiating social welfare programs over the last 25 years. Most of the programs that Australians enjoy today were introduced by Liberal-Country Party governments and progressively improved by them. I would like to see equity in our social welfare programs. I reject the argument that efficiency for its own sake- an easier health insurance scheme to administer- is necessarily related to equity. I would attack many of Labor ‘s programs on the very ground that equity is lessened and denied.
Finally, I would like to say how I consider I should work in and serve the Senate. I believe that it is a chamber that has very great power and responsibility. Before my election I was always impressed with the work that the Senate could and did do. The Senate has its own job to do. It is not subordinate to any other chamber or to any other body of legislators. I refuse to agree that its rights or powers are in any significant way circumscribed. While I am allowed to remain in the Senate I will fight for its preservation against any party whose platform is pledged to its abolition and I will fight for its effectiveness in terms of the Senate itself and for the continued functioning and effectiveness of its committee system, of which we are all so proud. I believe that the Senate has had an increasingly important role to play as its committee function had developed in the last 15 years. I hope that the Senate will continue to seek a consensus and calm view on great issues and that it will continue to take a long, careful look at important legislation. I see a great task for this powerful chamber and I intend to play my part. I am proud to support the amendment. I thank honourable senators for their courtesy.
– Order! As Senator Baume has reminded us, there are fifteen new members of the Senate. Senator Gordon Mcintosh from Western Australia is about to make his maiden speech, which I feel will merit the splendid decorum that has been observed by honourable senators while other honourable senators have been making their maiden speeches. I call Senator Mcintosh.
– Thank you, Mr President. I congratulate the previous speaker, Senator Baume, on his maiden speech. I know how he felt when he made it. I feel both privileged and honoured to have been elected as a senator for Western Australia. My first few words will have left no doubts in the minds of honourable senators as to the country of my birth. But I hasten to remind honourable senators that Federation took place 74 years ago and that I have been a resident of Western Australia for one-third of the life of that Federation. As a migrant it gives me, especially, a rewarding kind of joy and satisfaction to represent my adopted State of Western Australia. I believe that every honourable senator is concerned about his own State and, what is more important, the people who live there. After all, any State is only the sum total of the people who live in it. What is a State without people? There can be no State without people. I believe that every honourable senator should have his mind attuned to the needs, wants and aspirations of the people he is privileged to represent in this chamber. Let us remind ourselves that each State of the Commonwealth has its own peculiarities and that sight must not be lost of those peculiarities. At the same time let us not forget that it is right, proper and just for all of us to be able to see the problems that affect others, lest we become over-parochial about and over-protective of our own States. That could be detrimental to the good of the nation as a whole.
Far be it for me to lecture honourable senators on the geography of Western Australia, but its vastness must be considered as one of the peculiarities that merit some consideration. Let us consider that for a moment. The Grants Commission has divided each State into 10 regions in order to facilitate its consideration of each State ‘s development. Let us now look at the vastness of Western Australia in this manner and see the magnitude in size alone of those 10 regions. Albany, the first region, is more than half as large as New South Wales. Bunbury, the second region, is 10 times the size of the Australian Capital Territory. Geraldton, the third region, is almost the size of New South Wales. Kalgoorlie, the fourth region, is 2½ times the size of Victoria. The fifth region is Merredin, which is half the size of South Australia. The sixth region is Narrogin, which is nearly twice the size of Victoria. Northam, the seventh region, is three-fifths the size of Tasmania. The metropolitan area of Perth is the eighth region. The ninth region is Port Hedland, which is half the size of South
Australia. Wyndham, which is one-third of the size of the Northern Territory, is the tenth region.
Outside the Perth metropolitan area are some 1 14 local government authorities which have an average population of 2,200 each. Some of the local government areas contain towns that are separated not just by tens of miles but by hundreds of miles. Some of the population pockets are isolated to such a degree that they simply cannot share in the quality of life enjoyed by other more fortunate sections of the community. The areas of disadvantage include the fields of education, cultural activities, social activities and community amenities. The areas of disadvantage are such that the people of these regions identify themselves with the nearest town rather than the nearest community. That makes any development that is engendered by the people very much more difficult and constitutes a serious problem. In order to share in the quality of life through regionalisation special attention must be given to those isolated areas so that the people in them can feel that they belong and know that they have not been forgotten but are in fact part of the nation. That applies particularly to the many company towns in the north-west of Western Australia. I felt sad and disheartened at the rejection of the referendum proposals, especially the one on local government. I do not wish to go into that subject at this time. The presentation of referendums is something that both the Government and the Opposition should go into more deeply. If one looked at the recommendations of the Constitutional Review Committee of 1959 and acted honestly I am certain that the results of referendums in Australia would be very much different. It is not right for the Opposition, for its own purpose of political expediency, to encourage the electorate to remain in the nineteenth century. The Senate election produced a result in Western Australia which has proved once and for all that right wing fringe elements like the secessionist movement have no appeal whatsoever to the people in my State.
The people of Western Australia, despite the procrastinating efforts of some, do not think of their State as a huge mineral and mining camp to be exploited by foreign multi-national corporations. The people of Western Australia have shown that they know where they belong. They are equal partners with the rest of the Australian nation. For that reason it is necessary to assure them that their particular problems- remoteness and vastness- are borne in mind by honourable senators, and also by honourable members in the other place, when progressive legislation is brought before the Parliament. We, the legislators, must be aware of and attuned to the needs of people when we introduce legislation which affects the quality of life. It is our duty, our responsibility and our privilege to secure for every Australian man, woman and child the quality of life that will result in achieving, or at least may help people to achieve, a way of life of their own choice but of an intellectual, material and spiritual quality, if you wish, that is not discriminatory of anyone in any way, and I do commend that to honourable senators.
Senator wright (Tasmania) (9.12)-Mr President, there was one obvious omission from the courtesy that you accorded me in giving me the call but I expect that experience justifies your attitude because I could hardly claim that I am about to make my maiden speech. In the 24^ years that I have been in this place I have seen a fascinating course of development of Constitutional experience. However, I have yet to witness for the first time, as do all other honourable senators the possibility of the full development of section 57 of the Constitution in the form of a submission of Bills after a double dissolution of the Parliament, and a joint sitting of both Houses. It will be remembered that when we last addressed the Senate it was on an occasion when the Government was finally driven to a general election. Having indicated that we would vote against the gag on the Supply Bill, the Government accepted the challenge and then submitted to the Governor-General a recommendation for a double dissolution of the Parliament. That course of events has been the subject of comment throughout the country, and for the most part the comment has not been renowned, for its fruitfulness. There are some who would still challenge that the Senate on that occasion acted within its authority. There are some who would say that the course of action which the Senate took was against constitutional convention. I take this occasion to say firmly and patiently that those views are unfounded. Whether the Constitution is up to date- Senator Button from Victoria suggests that is not the case- or whether it needs revision has little relevance because one of the compelling facts in this situation is that it is the present Constitution.
Before considering a revision of the Constitution we ought to realise the provisions it now expresses and then study them to ascertain whether they are prudent or otherwise. It is one of the remarkable oddities of life that the Labor senators who on some occasions pride themselves on being progressive, or to use another term, left-wing, in matters such as this yield to the temptation of equating the Australian Senate to one of the most conservative and probably outmoded bodies that still endures as an upper House in the world. They like to draw their experience from the British House of Lords and they like to remind their public of certain colonial and later State legislatures that were established here in Australia to some extent modelled on the 2-House system of the British Parliament.
An important feature about the House of Lords is that it consists of lords who are born of parents who have the right to an inherited peerage. If they are born within a bed that is countenanced by peers entitled to inheritance they can come into the House of Lords without election or summons. They can come into the House of Lords simply by arriving at a certain age. They owe their position in the second chamber of the House of Lords purely to the accident of birth. But, in addition, the political manoeuvres of the British system are entitled if they have not got sufficient peers of their own political persuasion, to go to the Queen and recommend that she confer another 25 peerages upon nominated personnel and so add to the House of Lords simply by a minute of the palace on the advice of the Prime Minister.
The next point about the House of Lords is that it is incapable of dissolution in any circumstances. Notwithstanding the vicissitudes in the political sense that overtake the House of Commons as an elected House, the House of Lords goes on undissolved in any circumstances. It is not surprising therefore that, in the century that followed the great Reform Bill, if there were to be an effective management of the country’s finances by a House of Commons recruited by a general suffrage the House of Commons was going to insist upon a severe curtailment of any attempt on the part of the House of Lords to appropriate the moneys that were required for public revenues or to minimise taxes that were required for general services. So even before 1900 the convention was developing that the House of Lords could not amend or reject a money Bill. That convention was growing with great acceptance until a Liberal government came into power in 1906 and the House of Lords took a stand. I think my memory of the record is correct when I say that every major proposal put forward by the Liberal Government to increase taxes or requiring additional appropriations for public services after 1906 and before 1 9 10 was opposed by the Conservative Party in the House of Commons. Every single measure that was singled out by the Opposition Conservative Party in the House of Commons was rejected by the
House of Lords. And so, of course, the House of Lords met its nemesis in 1911 and it has been having its wings clipped ever since because the Commons then established legal mastery whereby it was entitled to have its measures passed through Parliament with only a minimum of delay, no amendment, and with certainly no power of rejection, in the ultimate sense, in the House of Lords.
Yet it is that precedent which the socialists, the left wingers and the superficial newspaper writers who presume to comment upon the propriety of the Senate ‘s exercise of its powers in this matter take as their precedent. It should be noticed that our Constitution was framed in the decade ending in 1 900 and finally was enacted in that year. It was at that period of” history. But we were not a unitary state. We were a federal body created as the appropriate Parliament for the newly federated Australian States. Therefore, far from the Senate being given just its historical existence, owing its constituent members to the accident of birth, the Senate was the first and vital suggestion, the foundation stone, of the Australian Federal Constitution. The first thing that was agreed to and subsequently ratified by referendum of the Australian people was that there should be equal representation for each of the original 6 States in the Senate. Is it to be suggested that the Senate here, with senators representing those States equally, should be likened to the House of Lords? And when State interests are concerned, particularly in these days when State revenues are such a dominant issue, are senators to be thought to be merely an upper House with revisionary powers? No, they are in the first place representatives of the States- not of the governments of the States, let me hasten to add; in view of some representations that were taken to London on recent occasions they are certainly not representatives of the governments of the States but of the people of the States. Therefore, we were given equal representation notwithstanding the population of each State.
But once we get to electing the members of this chamber we cannot go to the palace and say: ‘I want a dozen more’. In Australia the Senate owes its election to the general suffrage, the adult vote, of the people on as wide a democratic basis as the election of the Australian House of Commons, the House of Representatives. Therefore, it was appropriate that the Senate was given powers completely incomparable with anything that was appropriate to the House of Lords. When we come to the question of double dissolution and its application to money Bills we go to Part V of the Constitution which consists of a few significant sections of the Constitution. Section 5 1 enumerates the general powers of this Federal Parliament; section 52 enumerates the powers which belong to this Parliament alone, its exclusive powers; section 53 then devotes itself to the difference between the powers of the Senate and of the House of Representatives. The first thing it says on the limitation of the authority of the Senate is that the Senate shall not originate proposed laws appropriating revenue or moneys or imposing taxation. Then it applied the provision that the Senate may not amend proposed laws imposing taxation and some appropriation Bills.
But the Senate’s power of amendment was strictly limited to those appropriation Bills which deal with the ordinary annual services of the Parliament and, even as to new appropriations and new policies, the Senate has the same right of amendment as the House of Representatives. Even as to other Bills it has the power to request amendments and to pursue its requests so that the situation is that, amendments having been requested, the Bill cannot be accepted until it is accepted by the Senate. Then the section provides that except in those respects the Senate shall have equal power with the House of Representatives in all proposed laws. It is after an enumeration of the powers of the Parliament, the exclusive powers of the Parliament, and a definition of any distinction between the powers belonging to this place and another place that we find section 57 brought into the constitution. Section 57 provides that if any proposed law is rejected or amended by this chamber twice after an interval of 3 months then the GovernorGeneral may dissolve both Houses of Parliament. So in section 57, apart from the context to which I have referred, it is completely clear that having dealt with money Bills a section or two before, and section 57 referring to any proposed laws, and realising the degree of attention and the very great study that was given to section 57, it is not by any inadvertence but by deliberate enactment that the double dissolution power applies to money Bills as to other Bills. In the contemporary text that expounded that Constitution, a text that is regarded with veneration as an authority, except in certain respects where experience has disclosed need for amendment, Quick and Garran at page 687, when commenting by way of notes upon section 57, says:
MONEY BILLS-These dead-lock provisions apply to all bills- as well bills which the Senate may not amend as bills which it may amend.
So that on every argument it is incontrovertible that section 57 was designed so as expressly to refer to all proposed laws, including money Bills.
The second thing to notice is that when the Senate takes the course of rejecting a Bill, including a money Bill, and after an interval of 3 months repeating that rejection, the course that is taken is not to send the House of Representative alone to the country. The Constitution provides that the Senate, as well as the House of Representatives, shall be dissolved. If honourable senators look to the text of Quick and Garran they will see this printed for our information:
The provision made by this Constitution for the dissolution of the Senate is the latest and greatest experiment in Federal Government.
Other federations, up until that time, had not provided for any circumstance in which a dissolution of their upper houses could occur. Therefore, the balance which came into the Constitution was that if the Senate, specially constructed with the powers to which I have referred, deemed it proper in the exercise of its responsibility twice to reject a Bill after a 3 month interval, it put its judgment to the decision of the people just as the House of Representatives action in relation to the Bill is put to the judgment of the people. These great democrats- Mr Whitlam and those whom he cites for his authority- who state that the Senate is trenching upon democratic rights when it interrupts the free flow of mischief by a government within its 3-year term completely falsify the situation because each House goes to the country for a decision by the people. What do Quick and Garran say with regard to that? After discussing the prudence that would be required in the exercise of these powers and the responsibility that they would command on the part of the Senate, Quick and Garran state:
This much is certain, that the people as final arbiters will be the gainers of power by the liability of both Houses to dissolution.
That is to say, the true constitutional exponents recognise that this procedure is one whereby the Senate takes its risk to its members in the exercise of what it feels is a public duty. But why does it do this? It is to obtain a decision from the people on the deadlock. Quick and Garran state that those who gain in authority by the exercise of this process are the people who act as the final arbiters. These political personages who are so superficial as to suggest impropriety in the Senate action in putting up the processes for a double dissolution and committing both Houses to a decision by the people are completely betraying the fundamental rights of the people to democracy.
All this having been said, we want to arrive at the conclusion that the Senate now is no longer what was sneered at by Mr Whitlam for a few months before June as a Senate elected in 1957. He claimed that the House of Representatives only was the contemporary House. This House is just as contemporary as the House of Representatives and entitled to claim direct representation from the people at the same election as the House of Representatives. As Senator Baume so appropriately said, is it not satisfying that the people returned a Labor Government in the House of Representatives with a majority significantly reduced but not uncontrolled? The same election constituted the Senate in such a way that the Labor Party section of it does not have a majority. Therefore, it would be within the spirit of democracy that in that situation the Government in another place should recognise that we in this chamber have inescapable and inalienable duties to study the legislation on its merits. If we feel that it is proper to reject or radically amend it, then, of course, we have to take the consequences; but they will not be the consequences dictated by Mr Whitlam. They will be those that are decided upon by the people. That is particularly important at the present time in view of the dangers to this country that are developing.
I do not go on to refer to the subsequent constitutional provisions which yet have to develop in a fascinating experience over, perhaps, the next days, weeks or months. It is proposed that there will be joint sittings of the Houses of Parliament and further discussion of legislation. But that will take place in a setting in which we will have the Labor Party imposing on the people the highest interest rates in history, interest rates which, if they had been mentioned before 2 December 1 972, would have led to lynching on the part of people who were so lunatic as to generate them. People who have $50,000 to deposit with the trading banks of this country have been able to obtain an interest rate of 22 per cent. Today, they are able to obtain an interest rate of about 13 per cent or 14 per cent. Now, by Government decree made this week, the general bank interest rate charged on borrowings has increased to the outrageous figure of between 9.5 per cent and 1 1.5 per cent. At the same time, the small depositor who has less than $4,000 deposited in a savings bank is compelled by the law of the same Government to accept an interest rate of about 4 per cent on his savings. This is creating a situation in which the cost of money is increasing the intense heat of inflation coming from rising prices in all other directions.
I am told that during the last 12 months general building costs in Victoria have increased by 36 per cent and that in New South Wales they have increased by 38 per cent. That leads me to quote from a reported statement made by Professor Downing which appeared in today’s Press. The report states:
Rapid acceleration of income was likely to destroy democracy rather than reshape it through redistribution of wealth, . . He said that the ultimate outcome of accelerating inflation was economic collapse and political revolution.
Democracy will not survive, here or elsewhere, unless its people can develop the self-restraint necessary to control inflation.
That statement is couched in language that cannot fail to engage the attention and concern of every serious person in this country. But tonight we listened to a speech that outlined the transition from compulsory arbitration and an ordered series of resolutions of industrial disputes to a socalled system of collective bargaining whereby combinations of industries are continually pounding their pressures on the economy and producing increases in economic rates which permit of no stability. That is the chief cause of this inflation that Professor Downing says is so dangerous. It is this policy and action by a militant, irresponsible, small coterie of union bosses that this Government encourages. Does that not pose a challenge to this Senate in accordance with its constitutional powers which we must keep in mind as the Government unfolds its program in the next week or two?
– I am prompted to take part in this debate this evening because the Opposition has elected again on this occasion to move an amendment to the Address-in-Reply that has been proposed by honourable senators on this side of the chamber. I agree with the Minister for the Media, Senator Douglas McClelland, who said that not only on this occasion but on 2 previous occasions the Opposition has set the pattern by moving these amendments and that in doing so it has moved the Address-in-Reply debate from the area in which it used to be where new members were given the opportunity to make their initial contributions in the chamber and other senators were given the opportunity to debate the Speech from the Throne. But now with the introduction of amendments, which is an innovation of the last 2 years -
– The honourable senator says ‘No’. If he would do some research he would find that last year was the first occasion for a quarter of a century that the senators who moved and seconded the Address-in-Reply- it was my honour to be the seconder, while Senator
Primmer was the mover- declined to take the Address-in-Reply to His Excellency the Governor-General. That is why I am prompted, as I said earlier, to speak on this occasion. Senator Wright is shaking his head. When I first came into this chamber I heard the scholarly contributions the honourable senator would make. One could find his name as a member of the committees that were considering constitutional reforms, the Standing Orders or any of the other more serious subjects that were debated in this chamber. Yet although he was a signatory to a lot of these decisions and conclusions including, notably, the recommendation of the Constitutional Review Committee on electoral reform, when the Bill implementing the recommendation came before the House he repudiated his signature. I can only conclude that Senator Wright is a millionaire in words but a bankrupt in ideas.
Addressing myself to the reason why I am on my feet, I would like to begin by saying how impressed I was by the maiden speeches of my colleagues Senator Melzer, Senator Grimes, Senator Button and Senator Mcintosh. I feel that their presence in this chamber will considerably enhance the Senate. Whilst we on this side of the chamber would not be expected to agree with everything that falls from the lips of honourable senators opposite, I also want to take this opportunity of congratulating those new honourable senators opposite who have spoken on the way they have acquitted themselves in their maiden speeches in this House. All honourable senators who come newly into this chamber without parliamentary experience, no matter on which side of the chamber they may sit, will find that we are willing to help them in any way we can, having drawn on any experience that we might have. That is one thing in this chamber that is very commendable. In the necessarily limited time at my disposal this evening I shall not endeavour to traverse all the fields outlined in the speech of His Excellency the Governor-General. However, I propose to say a little on two or three items. In the first place, however, I would like to follow up the remarks of the previous speakers in congratulating you, Mr Acting President, on your elevation to the position of Chairman of Committees. I would hope that you would convey to the President my congratulations on his elevation also. Because of my knowledge of both of you in this chamber I have no fears whatever that you will not carry out your duties with dignity and impartiality.
At this stage I would like to take our minds back to the closing stages of the last Parliament. 1 can well remember the stance of the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Withers) when he stood and challenged us. He looked across to this side of the chamber and said: ‘Either you go or we will push you into a double dissolution’. I think that honourable senators on this side of the chamber reminded Opposition senators at that time that the only losers in any double dissolution would be themselves. History has proved us correct. There have been more tragedies among senators than among members of the House of Representatives. So tragic were the results for the Opposition in this place that one of its strongest allies has been completely banished and annihilated and is now extinct. I refer to the Democratic Labor Party. Of course we see also the change that this chamber is now presided over by a President who was the nominee of the Government side. I know that honourable senators opposite would not want me to have a heresy hunt or to start investigating the events of yesterday when that gentleman was elected to the Presidency not with the support of the Independent members in this chamber but with the support of a Liberal or Country Party Opposition senator who defected, and who defected at a time when the Leader of the Opposition in the other place was endeavouring to castigate the Government for not having complete control over its members or being able to discipline the Party. I think that it is at least to our credit that our loyalty was solid to the nominee from within our Party. Senator Garrick interjects and asks How do you know’? They are some of the events that came as a result of our being forced into a double dissolution. Yet we find that honourable senators opposite are still setting out with the same strategy that was employed in the closing stages of the last Parliament.
I never cease to marvel at the attitude of honourable senators opposite in not accepting the decision of the Australian electorate. They did not accept it after December 1972. Throughout the period from December 1972 until 18 May last, until the last election, they seemed to feel that like the Stuarts’ divine right of kings, they have a divine right to occupy the Government benches, that it is not their place to be on the Opposition benches. The way they acted, the way they obstructed legislation that came from this side and their general behaviour in this House gave the impression that they were not prepared to accept the decision of the electors on that occasion. They are shaping similarly now; they seem not prepared to accept the decision of the electors on this occasion. They remind me of an incident concerning Patsy Hendren the great international cricketer. He was at the crease and the bowler appealed for leg before wicket. The umpire raised his hand but Hendren said: ‘I am not out’. The umpire said: ‘Have a look at tomorrow morning’s ‘Herald’ to see whether you are out or not.’ My advice to honourable senators opposite is this: The people have spoken on 2 occasions in less than 2 years. Accept your destinythat is, to be in Opposition. Let us get down to business and legislate for the benefit of this country.
The main attack that has been made against the Government, and which no doubt will continue to be made against the Government, refers to our failure to do anything about inflation. One would think that inflation had been manufactured by the Australian Labor Party and that it was the product of a Labor Government. If one took notice of senators opposite one would believe that inflation was not known in any other country and that it had been manufactured in this country as a result of the actions of the Australian Labor Party. We hear about the rate of inflation being 13 per cent per annum and that it was 4 per cent when the previous government went out of office. Senators opposite are prophesying that in no time the rate of inflation will be 20 per cent per annum. I remind honourable senators opposite that in 1949 when the Labor Government went out of office inflation was running at 12’A per cent. In 1950 the late Sir Arthur Fadden was the Leader of the Country Party and the Treasurer in the Menzies-Fadden Government. He was a giant of a Treasurer when compared with the Opposition pigmies who are masquerading as Opposition spokesmen on Treasury matters today. When he brought down his first budget inflation was running at 13.4 per cent. When he brought down his second budget in 1 95 1 inflation was running at over 20 per cent.
As previous speakers have reminded this chamber the Menzies-Fadden Government came to power in 1949 on the promise that it would put value back into the pound. We know that after 25 years of occupying the Treasury benches Liberal-Country Party governments have repudiated that promise to the electorate. I want honourable senators opposite to ponder those figures of inflation that existed in this country in 1 950 and in 1 95 1 . Senators who occupy the benches opposite at present follow and accept the same political philosophies as the supporters of Menzies and Fadden did in 1950 and 1951. They are the people who today are moralising and trying to take us to task on our handling of the economy. When they were in power they were responsible for record unemployment.
More bankruptcies in small businesses and industries occurred during their regimes than in any others. The loss of production and the human suffering were well known to us all.
The record of the last anti-Labor government, the McMahon Government, in the field of unemployment is interesting. In 1970 when that Government started its 3-year term the number of people unemployed was 50,000. In 1972, before it was defeated, more than 100,000 people were unemployed. There was a 100 per cent increase in the number of unemployed during its period of office.
-You are going to break our record.
– No. One thing that this Government is firmly pledged against is unemployment and it has been ever since it has been in government, as were previous Labor Governments. There was an historic White Paper in 1945 which pledged the Australian Government of that time, a Labor Government, to full employment. That has been the policy of the Australian Labor Party ever since. True, there will be some unemployment because of the restraints that are put forward in controlling inflation; but it is as sure as it is that night will follow day that the number of unemployed in this country will not reach the figures that were reached during the previous governments. The only strategy which previous Liberal-Country Party governments had to handling inflation was to create unemployment. This government is firmly committed to a policy of full employment, and that is what we will have.
When this Government came to office it was fully aware of inflation. If the previous government had remained in office inflation, instead of running at 3lA per cent as it is today, probably would be running at 2 1 per cent or 22 per cent as it did when a government of similar complexion was in office in 1951. I do not ask honourable senators to accept that as my private opinion. That opinion is supported by Dr Porter, a member of the International Monetary Fund. I refer to a report in the ‘Financial Review’ of 12 November 1973. When he was in Australia Dr Porter said that if the previous government had remained in power inflation in this country, due to the economic strategy that the previous government was employing, would be running twice as high as it is today. That is the unsolicited opinion of Dr Porter, a member of the International Monetary Fund, not the opinion of a Labor senator.
This Government is as responsible in the field of inflation as any other government would be. It receives the same advice from the Treasury as would any other government. The Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) said in December 1972, when the Australian Labor Party became the Governmentand he was supported by the Treasurerthat we were fully aware of the dangers of inflation. We continually had it under review and would take measures to correct it. I believe that the Government is acting properly and correctly on the advice that it is receiving. I am sure that the Government will be able to correct the situation.
I recall during the last election campaign the Leader of the senators opposite saying that if his Party was returned as the government he would cure inflation. I remember saying at the time that if he had the miracle cure for inflation he should not be aspiring to be the Prime Minister of Australia; he could be the head of the United Nations because all the countries that are suffering from inflation today would lay the red carpet down for him and place him at the head of affairs if he would produce his miracle cure. Of course, he laid the pattern of stampeding throughout the country saying that drastic measures had to be taken for inflation. However, the people indicated what they wanted and as I said earlier the present Government is acting responsibly and correctly in imposing restraints. They will not last for ever but as soon as the economy -
– Does the honourable senator mean the Government?
-Well, I do not know whether we will last for ever. We have faced elections twice in the last 2 years and we are back here. Senator Withers’ Party is still in Opposition and has depleted ranks. His Party is in a much wounded position. It has lost its rear-guard, its ally, and also has lost an important post in the Senate. Let us be sensible: Any government, irrespective of its political persuasion, will act responsibly in an endeavour to halt inflation. This Government is no less responsible than any other.
I have heard honourable senators opposite saying that it is the inherent right and the traditional right of every Australian to be able to own a home of his own and to live in it. They say that the Labor Government, which they say is supposed to represent the working class, has made it nearly impossible for persons to own a home of their own, due to high interest rates. Let us examine some of the statistics to see whether their claims are reliable. I refer to the calendar year 1973 when interest rates of building societies and banks were running high. In that year 185,000 private dwellings were permitted to be built by local authorities in Australia. In 1972 the number of dwellings permitted to be built was 35,000 less or 23 per cent less. In 1971, when we had these attractive interest rates that the Opposition will tell us about, the number of private dwellings built was considerably less.
But of course the real story is that the maximum number of dwellings or houses that can be constructed each year is between 150,000 and 180,000. Because the demand for housing is so great there has to be some dampening down and some restraint, and high interest rates have no effect at all on the number of dwellings constructed. Yet at every opportunity, in order to put fear into the electorate honourable senators opposite make hysterical claims that the Labor Government, with its high interest rates, is destroying the incentive for people to build homes. I have given statistics to show that 185,000 dwellings were constructed last year as against 150,000 in 1972, which was the last year when the Liberal-Country Parties were in office, and there were considerably fewer in 1 97 1 .
I believe that I have dealt with the 3 questions that seemed to receive the most attention from honourable senators opposite, namely, inflation, housing and unemployment. But before I conclude I should like to refer to the conduct of the last Federal election campaign in Queensland. I have heard it stated in this chamber that the Senate is no place for shrinking violets, and I know through a long association with the political and industrial movements, both inside and outside this Parliament, that politics is a pretty tough game, and that after being in politics for a while one carries some scars of campaigning, whether it is a cauliflower ear or a broken nose. I think that the method of campaigning that was adopted in Queensland in the last Federal election campaign was the most distasteful and disgraceful that I have experienced in 30 years of political activity. I refer to an article in the Bundaberg ‘News Mail’ which attributes a statement to Mr Bob Katter, the Federal member for Kennedy and a former Minister for the Army. The article states that he told a crowd that a vote for Labor would make Australia the prisoner of a stinking communist government which would be its downfall. That is the type of campaign that was conducted not only by Mr Katter but also by other members of the Country Party -
– And also in the Riverina.
– And in the Riverina. This campaign in Queensland was headed, unfortunately, by the Premier of Queensland. I would prefer to regard the Premier of Queensland as the symbol of political life in that State, but his over-enthusiasm in his campaign activities in the last Federal election left a lot to be desired. He went throughout the State making statements about the Federal Labor Government which were untrue. Instead of being referred to as the flying peanut’, I am sorry to have to say that a more correct title for him would be a political thug because they were the tactics -
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Webster)- Order! Senator McAuliffe, you will not reflect on the Premier of a State. Please moderate your language.
– I will withdraw my reference to the Premier of Queensland being a political thug. But can I replace it by saying that some of the activities of the Country Party in Queensland in the last Federal election campaign could be regarded as tactics that one would expect to be adopted by a political thug. Certain claims and accusations were made that the Prime Minister, Mr Whitlam, and the Federal Labor Government were opposed to Queensland and were giving Queensland a raw deal.
– What did they give them in the floods?
-I will come to that. I do not blame any political machine for having a good public relations staff which is able to gain any political advantage by shrewd and astute publicity. But on one occasion Mr Jack Egerton, the President of the Australian Labor Party in Queensland, the Senior Vice-President of the Australian Labor Party in the Federal sphere and the President of the Queensland Trades and Labor Council, issued a Press statement in Queensland. It was never published in any newspaper, but it was replied to by the Premier of Queensland. These are the sorts of tactics that are being adopted.
I should like to seek the indulgence of the Senate this evening to have certain figures recorded in the official Hansard record so that anybody who thumbs through the pages of Hansard will be able to see the exact position. I hope that the figures that I propose to record in Hansard will be widely read because they refute the claims that have been made in Queensland by the opponents of this Government. These people have said that Queensland is not getting a fair go and that all the benefits and advantages are being given to the standard States of Victoria and New South Wales. Let us examine the true position.
The total payments to the Queensland Government in 1973-74 for all purposes and including the State Loan Council program, are estimated at about $739m. This represents more than $382 per head of population compared with average payments to all States of about $345 per head of population. In the primary and secondary education field, payments to Queensland for all primary and secondary schools increased from $llm in 1972-73 to $27m in 1973-74, which is an increase of 145 per cent. In the field of tertiary education, payments to Queensland increased from $20m in 1972-73 to $53m in 1973-74, which is an increase of 165 per cent compared with an increase of 150 per cent for all other States. Capital assistance to Queensland in the field of technical education has risen from $1.9m in 1972-73 to $4m in 1973-74, which is an increase of more than 1 10 per cent. Again we see Queensland in a preferred position compared with the other States in regard to pre-school and child care facilities. An estimated amount of $8.2m is being allocated in 1973-74 as payments to the States for pre-school and child care facilities, of which $ 1.3 m is for Queensland. This year there is to be an increase of $2.3m, or nearly 30 per cent, on the payments that were made in 1972-73 for contributions to Aboriginal advancement.
My colleague Senator McLaren asked: ‘What about flood relief and restoration assistance?’ The Australian Government is providing financial assistance to the Queensland Government for a wide range of flood relief and restoration measures which the State Government has implemented with the agreement of the Australian Government. The financial assistance expected to be provided in 1973-74 is about $34m. The eventual total cost of Australian Government assistance is expected to exceed $82m. I could go on and give statistics and figures relating to the assistance that is being given for housing, cities, urban and regional development, road works, developmental projects, the new shipyard at Maryborough, northern development, beef roads and water conservation. So the story goes on in the Bowen basin and the Burdekin River basin areas, in sugar and in fertilisers. There it is in black and white. It is recorded in the official journals of the Australian Government. That is the sort of assistance that this Government has been giving to Queensland yet it has received no recognition. The thing that shames me and what I am concerned about is that a political party should employ the strategy of travelling the length and breadth of the country telling lies about the assistance given by a government. I object very strongly to the type of smear campaign engaged in by Mr Bob Katter and, I believe, by other Country Party members in Queensland supported by the League of Rights. I am very concerned also about the publicity afforded to the various political parties. There is discrimination. As I said earlier, the President of the Australian Labor Party in Queensland and the President of the Trades and Labour Council issued a Press statement in Queensland which was never published but which was replied to by the Premier of Queensland.
Mr Deputy President, I know that my time is up. I thank you for your tolerance. I conclude by commending to the Senate the motion which is before us for our consideration, and by assuring all honourable senators that we on this side of the chamber are aware of the tremendous responsibilities that lie ahead and are prepared to play our part in bearing them.
– The Senate is debating the address delivered by His Excellency the GovernorGeneral just prior to his retirement from that high office and which was written, of course, by the Government of the day. At the outset, Mr Deputy Speaker, may I congratulate you upon your re-election to your high office. May I congratulate and welcome all 15 of the new senators, our colleagues in the Senate, and wish them well in their service to this Parliament and to the people of Australia. May I congratulate also all honourable senators who made their maiden speech today.
Australia is in a serious economic mess. That mess is worsening. The cause of that mess is directly attributable to actions wilfully taken by the Whitlam Labor Government. That can be clearly demonstrated. That there is a serious economic mess is recognised clearly by the responsible trade union movement which is on record in tonight’s Press as warning that there will be unemployment at a level of 200,000 by the end of this year, a shameful situation deliberately caused by the action of a government which purports to be a government of the people. The fact that the Government is in a mess is also evident by the frenzied impotence of the Labor Caucus which, divided in itself, wonders whether to follow the de facto Prime Minister, Dr Cairns, in his set of policies, the Prime Minister de jure Mr Whitlam, in his set of policies or the muted and smiling voice of the would-be Treasurer, Mr Crean, whom we seldom see or hear from except to be reassured in a plaintive tone that all is well. No doubt the Treasurer hopes, as he hoped before, that interest rates will come down to 2 per cent or 3 per cent which was his goal before the last election.
The situation is serious and therefore the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Withers) has the full support of the Opposition. That amendment reflects the recognition that serious economic problems are confronting Australia as a result of the actions of a government which deliberately creates record inflation, which deliberately creates unemployment and which applies a credit squeeze with high interest rates leading to great and growing distress throughout Australia. It is almost refreshing to hear the Government now admit that it has supplied a credit squeeze because some months ago it said, like the old lady with a hippopotamus, that it did not exist. The simple fact is that now the Government is acknowledging that its actions are calculated to bring about the situation facing us today.
The Labor Party Government has brought about this mess by taking 8 calculated steps. The first step was to cut tariffs across the board by 25 per cent. I interpolate to say that there was a time when the then great Australian Labor Party stood as the protectionist party of Australia, the party that stood for the protection of Australian industry and the Australian worker against the flood of cheap labour goods from abroad. That great party has gone. In its place today is a party which mouths the pretence that it is opposed to foreign ownership but which has sold out in the textile industry, in the electronics industry, in the footwear industry and in the motor car industry to the merchants of Taiwan, Hong Kong and Japan. Its form of foreign ownership is to sell out completely to great multinationals in other countries with total foreign capital employing total foreign labour in manufacturing. This is the party which goes to the people and mouths its horror of foreign ownership. We should shed some crocodile tears for this. As a first step the Government cut tariffs across the board.
Let Senator McAuliffe and Senator Douglas McClelland- Senator Douglas McClelland made a very chastened speech tonight, not the robust speech of 1972 but a chastened and apologetic speech- go to the textile workers and say that there is full employment. Let them go to the Leyland plants. Let the Queensland Labor senator, Senator Milliner, who is now interjecting, go to the 1,000 workers who have been put out of work in the motor car industry and say that they have full employment. Let him shake his fist and laugh now at their unemployment. Let those honourable senators go to the people in the textile industry and say: ‘Never mind, it is not unemployment; it is disemployment’ as if the socialist doctrinaire words mouthed by these impotent people can soften the blow of what is deliberately planned and calculated and induced unemployment. Let them tell the people that. Let them talk of retraining plans. The doctrinaire socialist treats the ordinary person as a pawn to be picked up and put down. Indeed, Mr Chifley once said that a person should not be free to go to the industry of his choice; he must go to the industry that a socialist government will shift him to under retraining. One of our senators talked tonight of freedom. What do we have today? Freedom to be disemployed; freedom to be retrained and reshuffled like a pawn; freedom to submit to the industrial anarchy urged on by Mr Clyde Cameron and his Labor colleagues. That is the first of the 8 steps I referred to earlier.
Mr Deputy President, you note the silence now of honourable senators on the Government side because nobody can deny now that unemployment is being deliberately created, that the Labor Party’s economic policy is to create a pool of unemployment and to use the fear of unemployment. One wonders, in hearing Senator McLaren, who is seeking to interject why there is not more unemployment in the chicken industry of Australia.
Secondly, the once great Labor Party which believed in low interest rates, the Party which went to the people in 1972 and said that it believed in reducing interest rates, has put up interest rates. Indeed, it has trebled them.
– You are getting worse than Senator Greenwood.
– Is the new Government Whip applauding his Government? Does he support his Government’s policy? He does. He gives a victory sign for the Government in having achieved a doubling or trebling or interest rates. The people of Australia should note that Senator Poyser, a Victorian Labor senator, sees victory in a doubling or trebling of interest rates and in making the cost to an ordinary Australian of buying a home in his State and in others some $50 a month more without contributing one iota more of value to the people. It is the kind of achievement for which Senator Douglas McClelland took credit tonight. So the Party which before the last election said that it would leaven interest rates is now forcing the general overdraft interest rate up to 1 1 and 12 per cent, creating enormous hardship to ordinary people. As a third step, this Party said to the trade unions: ‘Do not take any notice of compulsory arbitration. Go for collective bargaining. ‘
– What is wrong with collective bargaining?
-Senator Milliner is acknowledging this fact. The Labor Party said: ‘Go for above award payments. Let us get the nominal value of wages up, whatever it does to the real value of wages, whatever it does to productivity and whatever it does to force the people in the textile, electronic and footwear industries out of business’.
-We did that?
-Senator Milliner takes great pride and great smugness in the Labor Party having achieved this disastrous effect on the little people of Australia. That is precisely what it has done. It decided that it would cut and virtually eliminate the European assisted immigration scheme which was a great scheme for the development of Australia and a scheme which selected a homogeneous cross-section of workers for jobs here and brought them into the basic steel, automotive and building industries of Australia so the people could have a flow of steel, cars, building nails and ordinary fencing wire. There was a deliberate plan, egged on by left wing union leaders, to create scarcity in the basic industries and so upgrade the bargaining power, and the Labor Party applauds this plan.
As a Party, it said that it believed in lowering taxation. The Party which gave a solemn promise in its policy speech in 1972 that it would not increase taxation, which said that taxation was too high and that it should be reduced, set out systematically to increase taxation in the harshest forms by upgrading indirect taxes and by brutally increasing all charges so that those who could least afford to pay are paying. This Party of humbug and cant is the Party which has always said that it is the Party of the little people. Honourable senators will note the silence now. As another step in its plan it set out deliberately to cut back the rate of home building in Australia and to increase the cost of home loans, thus reducing the number of people who were able to buy or build homes. Senator Milliner nods. The fact is enshrined in the Prime Minister’s words in the Governor-General ‘s Speech.
The people of Australia should note Senator Baume ‘s fine speech tonight. He drew attention to the fact that Mr Whitlam said: ‘We have not done enough to cut back the building of homes in
Australia, but rely on us. We will cut them back more, and we will make them more expensive ‘. That theme runs through the Speech written by Mr Whitlam and delivered by the GovernorGeneral, no doubt reluctantly. The Party, which is facing an acute shortage of labour in the basic industries, sets out systematically to make labour more scarce by increasing largely the Public Service and by reducing the private sector. The Party which says that it believes that the market basket of purchases of the ordinary housewife should be kept within her budget sets out, by wiping out rural incentives, to raise the price of each item of foodstuff in Australia.
-We did that?
-Senator Milliner happily acknowledges that each time a subsidy is reduced, each time a bounty is removed -
– Is that what you call socialism?
-Senator McLaren who pretends to be one of those people who argue for the rural community is a member of a Party which has systematically forced up rural prices, which has increased the costs of poultry producers thus making the price of eggs become almost uneconomic. His Party has done more to damage and destroy the poultry industry than any other party in the history of Australia. So it hurts when I say that 8 main steps, in a calculated fashion, have been taken by the Australian Labor Party- each one of them acknowledged by the Labor Party tonight- to create a situation in which, to repeat the trade unions’ views, there will be 200,000 unemployed by the end of this year.
– You are gloating now.
-I do not gloat. Like so many other honourable senators, I also suffered the depression. As part of a family, I knew unemployment. If I have anything to do with unemployment, it will be at its irreducible minimum in Australia. I will not be part of a Party which will create a pool of 200,000 unemployed by the end of this year. Honourable senators opposite will be mighty cool in Professor Hinton ‘s pool, they will be mighty cool in Whitlam ‘s pool as the months go by. My Leader reminded the Senate and the people of Australia today that an eminent and objective Australian, the Ritchie Professor of Research in Economics at the Melbourne University, Professor R. I. Downing, when speaking about current inflation, said:
Continuing inflation threatens to destroy Australia’s economy by the end of the decade. The ultimate outcome of accelerating inflation is likely to be political revolution. I think democracy in Australia is at stake.
That is what Professor Downing said yesterday of the situation which today the trade union movement acknowledges and which the Caucus in its frenzy acknowledges. Like Mr Crean, Caucus has no solutions. One of the great, outstanding characteristics of the GovernorGeneral’s Speech was that it tried to play down these ills, and it put forward no solutions to them. The Whitlam Government has failed to come forward with any comprehensive or concerted plan for delimiting and reducing inflation or for maintaining effective full employment with freedom of choice.
– We could have had the power to control inflation if the referendum had been carried.
-Senator Mulvihill does not believe in the voice of democracy when it speaks against him. I remind Senator Mulvihill that the voice of the people said no to the referenda, and wisely so when we realise the kind of arbitrary power which the Labor Party would induce. I remind the people of Australia of what the Labor Party means when it speaks of the whole unemployment situation. Today it is using doctrinaire socialist words. We hear such expressions as: ‘We will have retraining. We will have disemployment. We will have structural unemployment’. Do honourable senators opposite, especially Senator Milliner, think it hurts any less to the person who is out of work? Does the Labor Party believe that it can pick up and put down the textile and footwear industries at its socialist will? Does the Labor Party believe the doctrinaire socialist reply by Senator Wriedt to a question this morning is the solution to the sackings at Philips Industries? I remind the people that he said, in so many words: ‘Not to worry. We have an employment adjustment scheme. Philips can apply for it. If people are out of work we will pay their wages for 6 months while they find another job’. Here we have the Labor Party endorsing doctrinaire socialism as if the removal of the right of people to choose their own jobs is not a great loss of freedom and as if the destruction of a great electrical industry in Australia is not one of the most serious threats not only to employment but also to the security and defence of Australia.
Does the Labor Party believe that an electrical industry can be demolished one day and picked up again the next day? Does it believe that this can be done in the motor car industry, the textile industry or the footwear industry? The people of
Australia should note the defensive attitude of the Labor Party, which has been driven back to an admission of this gargantuan creation of its own, an admission that it has now run away from every value that it ever espoused, that it has created a monster that it cannot control. The Labor Party today is showing all signs of great internal division and of great convulsion in which the left wing or socialist left -
– Tell us about the vote for the Presidency of the Senate.
– The newly fledged Minister for Repatriation and Compensation interjects. I would like to remind the people of Australia that the vocal interjection by Senator Wheeldon is by an honourable senator who is on record as saying in recent weeks, if I can paraphrase it- he can correct me if I am wrong- that it would be good if we were to cut all ties with the United States of America, including the ANZUS pact. He acknowledges that by a beatific smile. The newly fledged Minister has been trying to shout me down with his vocal overtones because he does not want the Senate and the people of Australia to hear about what is happening. His Party has done nothing to deny the proposition put forward by some of its leaders that Australia should recognise the Palestinian Liberation Movement, which is a bloody revolutionary lot of international murderers. Let Senator Wheeldon, by way of interjection, say now where he stands on the Palestinian Liberation Movement issue. Honourable senators opposite are now silent. The truth is that they have been riven in two by that issue. There are those who know that the so-called doctrine of even-handedness in the Middle East has been one of immense partisanship one way and there are those who know the way in which we will be moving if the left wing socialists in Victoria and those who espouse the views that Senator Brown has put forward of late get their way and the values that the Australian people have held in the past are to be destroyed. The views espoused by Senator Brown have not been denied from the floor of this chamber by the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Senator Willesee). These are the kind of things on which there has been immense silence. These are the kind of things of which there is no mention in the Governor-General’s Speech. Is there any mention in the Governor-General’s Speech of the complete reorientation or disorientation of our foreign affairs? Is there a reference in the GovernorGeneral ‘s Speech to the virtual disbandment of our defence forces and the rejection of the recommendation of the Defence Chiefs of StaffSenator Milliner knows about this-that we should have one division of the Army with 9 battalions and the cutting back to 6 battalions as well as the abolition of one great Mirage fighter squadron?
-Tell us about the FI 1 1.
-I respond to the challenge by saying that a Liberal-Country Party Government of which I was proud to be a supporter made a very wise decision, as has been acknowledged by the Minister who represents in this chamber the Minister for Defence, in choosing to purchase 24 FI 1 1 aircraft for this country. They are without peer in the world. They are of immense strategic value to the Royal Australian Air Force in the defence of Australia. I will tell honourable senators opposite about the FI 1 1. 1 will call Senator Bishop as my witness because he has acknowledged that they are magnificient aircraft. Thank God for them in terms of the defence of Australia. The silence in terms of what is not included in the Governor-General’s Speech is more important than the articulation. There is an absence from it of any indication of the redirection of our foreign affairs. There is complete euphemism in terms of our defence situation. There is no acknowledgement of the left wing infiltration of ideas in terms of movements such as the Palestinian Liberation Movement.
– Does the honourable senator want us to go back to South Vietnam?
-I invite Senator Mulvihill to extend his interjection by saying whether he believes that there should be representation in Australia of the Palestinian Liberation Movement. Let him put up or shut up. Merely by turning up the volume he cannot increase his candle power, as the years have shown with the dimming of the intellectual light from the other side of this chamber. I have said tonight that the Government has admitted to the people that it has brought forward a policy of economic destruction of its own creation. There has been no denial of that. Indeed, I have been greatly encouraged by the interjectors who have supported each of those contentions. The GovernorGeneral ‘s Speech goes on to say that we are going to have more and more of this. We are going to have a further cutting back in housing. We are going to have higher housing costs. We are going to have higher interest rates as a result of the deliberate actions of the Government that Senator Douglas McClelland and Senator Wheeldon, as Ministers, lead. As a result of the deliberate actions of the Government the people of Australia who today cannot get a home, who today cannot get money for a home or who today have to pay $50 a month more for money for a home, have become a benefit society for Ministers of the Whitlam Government. Indeed, more and more economists are now coming out and saying that the policies of the Labor Government will in fact exacerbate inflation rather than contain it.
- Dr Porter did not say that.
-Because Senator McAuliffe referred to the rate of inflation under a previous government I want to say that during the last 2 decades of the previous LiberalCountry Party Government the rate of inflation in Australia- with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development as the arbiter- was the lowest of any country in the industrialised world. It was an average of 2.7 per cent. Does anyone deny the authority of the OECD? Tonight the Labor Party has quoted the Commonwealth Treasury as an authority on this matter. I wish to quote what was said by the Commonwealth Treasury White Paper of March 1973. It said that in December 1972, which is when the Liberal-Country Party Government went out of office, inflation in Australia was 4.7 per cent and falling. It went on to say that the prospects were that inflation would continue to fall in Australia. In the space of some 19 months since the Labor Government has taken over the administration of a country that had a record low inflation, that had a record low in industrial unrest and that had the greatest share of wealth in the free world, it has created economic havoc in the name of doctrinaire socialism. But it has done more than that. The Labor Government has had the arrogance to come forward and present an address to the nation in which it has not only offered no solution but also has re-echoed Mr Crean ‘s plaintive statement of some months ago that he did not believe there was any solution to the high rate of inflation. If he did not believe that he should have resigned. The Government now comes forward with its plaintive tones, with an apologia, with a whimper, and the people of Australia are forced to take this when not one tittle of it is necessary. The people should understand that these wounds are deliberately inflicted on them by the Labor Party.
Debate (on motion by Senator Douglas McClelland) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
– I move:
– I rise for a variety of purposes. This Bill has been brought on at a fairly odd stage of the proceedings, indeed at a time when the debate on the Address-in-Reply is proceeding. Our Standing Orders require us to proceed with that debate without interruption. At this stage a motion has been moved to suspend the Standing Orders. I wish to ascertain the real purpose behind this motion and its effect on the Address-in-Reply debate. Senator Withers has just entered the chamber and therefore I need not occupy the Senate in any further debate on the matter. The responsibility can be transferred to him.
– You are just being a stickynose.
– If we are going to finish by 1 1 o’clock we will be better off without that sort of interjection. I indicate to the Senate- I think I can make this public- that as a result of consultation between Senator Douglas McClelland, my Deputy Senator Greenwood and Senator Drake-Brockman on behalf of the Australian Country Party, an arrangement was entered into that upon the last Opposition speaker concluding his remarks tonight the Opposition would not take exception to a motion to suspend Standing Orders to allow this Bill to be put down on the understanding that the Bill would not be called on for debate until the conclusion of the debate on the Address-in-Reply which is anticipated to be some time before we rise this week. However, we will worry about that when we get to that stage. The arrangement is that the second reading speech on this Bill will be made tonight and then I will move the adjournment of the debate, which debate will not come on before next Tuesday unless the debate on the Address-in-Reply is concluded before that time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill (on motion by Senator Douglas McClelland) read a first time
– 1 move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Before proceeding to deal with the provisions and purpose of this Bill, let me remind honourable senators of the following comment which the Minister for Services and Property (Mr Daly) made in the House of Representatives on 13 March 1 973 in the second reading speech on the Commonwealth Electoral Bill (No. 2) 1973. I interpolate to say that I am introducing this Bill in the Senate on behalf of my colleague, Senator Willesee, who represents in the Senate the Minister for Services and Property. In the speech on 1 3 March the Minister said:
Free elections are basic to a democratic society. But free elections by themselves are not enough- the results must reflect the will of the majority both in individual constituencies and throughout the nation. If the electoral laws do not result in the Government desired by the majority- if they are manipulated to reflect the political interest of persons or partiesit would bc a denial of the very essence of democracy and a travesty of the electoral process. The Government, mindful of its mandate and responsibility, is determined to ensure that the Australian electoral laws embrace those fundamental principles of human rights and democracy in this nation.
The outcome of the recent Federal elections has given added weight to the significance of those sentiments. The Australian Labor Government is more determined than ever to ensure that the permissible variation in numbers of electors between electorates which is presently allowed should not be permitted to remain in force. At the present time, the electoral enrolments in some divisions stand at almost double those in other divisions in the same State. In New South Wales, for example, the electorate of Mitchell has 73 per cent more electors than the electorate of Darling; Diamond Valley in Victoria has 77 per cent more electors than Wimmera. In Queensland, the situation is worse, with the electorate of McPherson having 91 per cent more electors than Maranoa.
Honourable senators are well aware of the situation. Many electors in the outer suburbs of Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, in particular, are clearly not enjoying anything like equality of political rights with electors in many other divisions. The present electoral redistribution criteria and, in particular, the degree of variation allowed between electorates at the time of a redistribution is not consistent with the principle of equality of representation. The restoration of practical equality of representation between electorates must be clearly established by law as a fundamental objective of redistribution.
This Bill which seeks to amend certain provisions of the Commonwealth Electoral Act relating to the redistribution of States into electoral divisions is in identical form to the Commonwealth Electoral Bill (No. 2) which was passed by the House of Representatives on 4 April 1973, and again on 23 August 1973. As honourable senators would know, the motion for the second reading of the Bill was defeated in the Senate on 17 May 1973 and, on the second occasion, on 29 August 1 973.
The essential purpose of the Bill is to ensure that a greater degree of equity is introduced into and retained in the Australian electoral system. To put it another way, Mr President, we seek to bring down legislation which will provide for practical equality of representation thus ensuring that the will of the majority will be reflected in the outcome of elections of members of the House of Representatives. The key section of the existing Act requiring revision in this particular context is section 19. The Bill also contains an amendment of section 25 but in other respects, Part III of the Act which specifies the procedure for redistributions of States into electoral divisions, remains unchanged.
The amendments proposed will have the effect of:
revising the factors (section 19 (2)) to which the Distribution Commissioners are required to give due consideration by deleting the reference to:
The proposed amendment of section 25 (2) (b) is consistent with the proposed amendment of section 19(1) reducing the margin of allowance from the quota to 10 per cent.
The changes proposed by this Bill are designed to provide, by legislative measures that, as far as may be practicable, the value of the vote of one citizen shall be equivalent to the vote of another and to give some meaningful application to the principle of one vote one value without unnecessarily restricting the Distribution Commissioners in proposing a redistribution. The existing 20 per cent permissible variation from the quota which allows a division to have 50 per cent more electors than another division in the same State and which was introduced in 1902 when Australia had a population of about 4 million as against 1 3 million today, can no longer be tolerated in our society. The 10 per cent margin upwards or downwards from the quota, which this Bill provides, reduces the existing disparity between electoral divisions and is at the same time sufficient to enable the Distribution Commissioners to give due consideration to factors which are relevant in determining division boundaries. I might also remind honourable senators that a one-tenth variation from the quota was recommended by the Joint Committee of Constitutional Review in 1959.
The Bill also seeks to revise the factors to which the Distribution Commissioners are required to give due consideration. In 1965 the then Government amended the redistribution provisions of the Commonwealth Electoral Act by introducing a number of new factors including ‘the area of the division’, ‘the density or sparsity of population’ and ‘disabilities arising out of remoteness or distance ‘.
We opposed these amendments in 1965 and we now propose to remove from the Act any reference to these factors. They were designed to encourage departure from the quota of electors in a manner which dilutes the vote in metropolitan areas and weights it in favour of rural areas.
The Bill is not, as it has been claimed, specifically aimed against country divisions, particularly those represented by the Australian Country Party. The Labor Party, more so than any other party, is mindful of the difficulties of representation of electorates, both city and country, because we are a truly national party- the largest single party in the Parliament and the nation. The Labor Party represents 19 country seats and also holds the largest electorate in Australia Kalgoorlie- with an area of 897,815 square miles. This is a reasonable answer to those who say that the Labor Party does not appreciate the needs of country electorates. We seek only to introduce and perpetuate, as far as possible, the principle of ‘one vote, one value’ and to ensure that the result of an election will reflect the opinion of the majority. This is fundamental to the concept of democracy.
In the course of the Minister’s second reading speech in this chamber on 4 March 1973, he documented the Government’s case with a substantial series of statistics. I do not intend to repeat these tonight. However, I will refer to the results of the House of Representatives election held on 18 May 1974, because they so adequately illustrate the inequity and injustice of the present system. In New South Wales, taking the State as a” whole, the Country Party won 10.6 per cent of the first preference votes while the Liberal Party won 33.3 per cent of the first preferences, yet the Country Party was able to gain 20 per cent of the seats in New South Wales as against 24.4 per cent of the seats for the Liberal Party.
Again, in Victoria the Country Party won 7.4 per cent of the first preference votes in that State, yet managed to obtain about 18 per cent of the seats in Victoria.
I cannot stress too strongly the fact that the Bill now before the House is one of the most significant Bills on which the Prime Minister appealed to the Governor-General for the granting of a double dissolution of the Australian Parliament. The electorate was well aware that the matters dealt with in the Bill formed a crucial part of the Government’s electoral platform, a platform which was endorsed when the Government was returned to office on 18 May. Being a Bill which formed a basis for the double dissolution, we intend, if such becomes necessary, to take whatever steps are available to us to see that the provisions contained in the Bill become law.
There are only 4 clauses to the Bill and the amendments proposed are not extensive. As the Bill is identical with that previously presented, there are no good reasons why the legislation should be obstructed by lengthy debate or delaying tactics. Electoral reform is fundamental to the platform of the Australian Labor Party which was endorsed by the Australian people on 18 May 1974. I have previously stated in this House that the Commonwealth Electoral Act is outdated and outmoded and it is the intention of this Government to update it in line with present day needs and developments. The Government regards this Bill as a major piece of our legislative programme. It is a forward step towards electoral reform in line with the Australian Labor Party policy and views of the Australian people. I commend the Bill to the House.
Debate (on motion by Senator Withers) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
– The second reading speech on this Bill will be much longer than I had thought it would be. Therefore, I suggest that we proceed with the procedural matters on this legislation tomorrow.
Senate adjourned at 10.55 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 10 July 1974, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1974/19740710_senate_29_s60/>.