29th Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Justin O’Byrne) took the chair at 1 1 a.m., and read prayers.
Senate Standing Committee on National Development and Ownership and Control of Australian Resources
-I give notice that on the next day of sitting I shall move:
That ( 1 ) A Standing Committee be appointed, to be called the Standing Committee on National Development and Ownership and Control of Australian Resources, with power to inquire into and report upon such matters as are referred to it by the Senate from time to time.
The Committee have power to consider the Minutes of Evidence and records of the Select Committee on Foreign Ownership and Control appointed in previous sessions.
The Committee consist of six Senators, three being members of the Government Party, to be nominated by the Leader of the Government in the Senate, and three being Senators who are not members of the Government Party, two to be nominated by the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate and one by the Leader of the Australian Country Party in the Senate.
The Committee elect a Government member as Chairman.
The Chairman may from time to time appoint a member of the Committee to be the Deputy-Chairman and the member so appointed shall act as Chairman of the Committee at any time when there is no Chairman or the Chairman is not present at a meeting of the Committee.
In the event of an equality of voting, the Chairman, or the Deputy-Chairman when acting as Chairman, shall have a casting vote.
The quorum of the Committee be three.
A Senator, though not a member of the Standing Committee, may participate in its public sessions and question witnesses, unless the Committee orders otherwise, but shall not vote.
The Committee have power to appoint subcommittees, consisting of three or more of its members, and to refer to any such sub-committee any of the matters which the Committee is empowered to consider. The quorum of a sub-committee shall be a majority of the members appointed.
The Committee or any sub-committee have power to send for and examine persons, papers and records, to move from place to place, and to meet and transact business in public or private sessions and notwithstanding any prorogation of the Parliament or dissolution of the House of Representatives.
Members of the public and representatives of the news media may attend and report any public session of the Committee, unless the Committee otherwise orders.
12) The Committee be empowered to print from day to day such papers and evidence as may be ordered by it. A daily Hansard shall be published of such proceedings of the Committee as take place in public.
The Committee be provided with all necessary staff, facilities and resources and be empowered to appoint persons with specialist knowlege for the purpose of the Committee, with the approval of the President.
The Committee have leave to report from time to time its proceedings and the evidence taken and such recommendations as it may deem fit, and is expected to make regular reports as to the progress of the proceedings of the Committee.
The foregoing provisions of this Resolution, so far as they are inconsistent with the Standing Orders, shall have effect notwithstanding anything contained in the Standing Orders.
– I give notice that on the next day of sitting I shall move:
That the Senate disapproves of the determinations of the Remuneration Tribunal laid on the table of the Senate on 4 March 1975 as an indication of the opinion of the Senate:
That an increase in the emoluments of junior Ministers from $23,750 as at 1 April 1973 to $39,475 is excessive;
That the increase of the allowances of senators and members from $14,500 to $20,000-37 per cent-is excessive;
That the Tribunal ‘s inquiry, if any, before submitting its report was wholly insufficient;
That the inconsistency between the Government announcement of $7,500 for secretarial and/or research assistance and the Tribunal ‘s report should be resolved and
That the proposals for daily travelling allowances arc excessive.
-My question, which is directed to the Minister representing the Attorney-General, refers to the question I asked of the same Minister on 26 February and the fact that I have not had yet a response to the question I asked. Therefore, I ask: Will the AttorneyGeneral arrange to lay on the table of the Senate the Commonwealth Police file on the break-in into the flat of Miss Morosi, which break-in was the subject of concluded court determinations on 20 February? Will the Attorney-General also arrange to lay on the Table of the Senate any other material which explains why one person was prosecuted and other people involved were not prosecuted? If he is not prepared to do so will he make a public statement explaining why and allaying the fears and putting an end to the rumours and innuendoes?
-Following the question which was directed to me by the honourable senator I conveyed his request to the Attorney-General and have not yet received a reply. However, 1 will convey to the AttorneyGeneral again the honourable senator’s anxiety in the matter and see whether I can expedite a reply.
-Has the attention of the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs been drawn to a Press statement attributed to Mr David Parsons, an Aboriginal Legal Aid Service lawyer, in which he claims that there is massive exploitation of Aborigines at Aboriginal settlements? Is there any truth in his claim that taxi drivers charge Aborigines $20 for a flagon of wine and that some settlements near Alice Springs put up to a 1 50 per cent mark-up on food and other articles sold to Aborigines? This article, which appears in today’s issue of the Melbourne ‘Sun’, makes other serious charges of exploitation. Does this type of treatment make it extremely difficult to create better understanding between the races? Is there any action that the Minister can take to stamp out this exploitation by unscrupulous traders?
– I have seen the article in the Melbourne Press, but I obtained more information at a quiet gathering I attended last Sunday. Allegations were made that taxi drivers were loading the boots of their taxis with flagons of wine and taking them to the settlements and disposing of them at $20 a time. We discovered on inquiry from the police, that it is very difficult to obtain proof as to whether the taxi drivers actually were selling the wine. If they were it would be a breach of the licensing ordinances of the Northern Territory. As I said, it is difficult to prove whether they were actually selling the wine or carrying it on behalf of someone who hired the taxi to go into town. It was reported that as a result of one prosecution the presiding magistrate found the taxi driver guilty and fined him 50c for the offence. Of course there have been allegations of markups and the giving of wrong change to Aboriginal people who cannot count. It is only some time afterwards when they take their change to someone else they find that they have been charged in excess of the prices of the commodities. This practice is rampant throughout the town among a lot of unscrupulous retailers and those involved in settlement canteens. Obviously, when someone knows that he has been defrauded it does not make for good relationships between Aborigines and whites. We must find a solution. We must find the guilty party and prove that a breach has occurred.
-My question is directed to the Minister for Manufacturing Industry. I refer to yesterday’s announcement of import quotas on certain garments, to which I was directed by the Minister when he replied to my question about the plight of the clothing industry in Western Australia. Is the Minister aware that while the quotas go a long way towards assisting some of the industry’s problems, areas of grave concern still remain? Can the Minister indicate when the further announcement foreshadowed in yesterday’s statement can be expected? Is sleepwear one of the items under consideration?
– I am grateful to Senator Drake-Brockman for adding a new term to my rapidly growing lexiconsleepwear. It is a very nice term. I am unaware that any immediate relief is to be given to sleepwearers, but I will make inquiries and let the honourable senator know. I am aware that there are still areas of distress in the textile industry. Among other things that I am at present considering is some relief for the knitwear section of the industry. I will make a full inquiry into the matters raised by the honourable senator and let him have an early answer.
– Is the Minister representing the Prime Minister aware of the new publishing subsidy scheme introduced in 1973 by the Australian Council for the Arts through the Literature Board? Is the Minister able to say whether this scheme is assisting Australianowned publishing firms which have limited financial resources? Does the scheme operate in such a way as to increase the employment possibilities of Australians in this industry? Is the Government confident that this new scheme will promote the growth of the Australian publishing industry which is currently disadvantaged by many overseas publishing houses?
- Mr President, I seek you guidance. Does this question refer in any way to the Book Bounty Bill which is now before the Senate? If it does, I suggest that the question is not in order.
– It does not refer to that Bill.
– I think Senator Gietzelt is genuinely seeking information. I call on the Leader of the Government in the Senate to reply on behalf of the Prime Minister.
– Unfortunately, I cannot give the information which the honourable senator is seeking, so the question will have to go on the notice paper.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Labor and Immigration. He will recall that on 1 1 February this year and again yesterday I asked him questions regarding Mr Jaroslav Reinisch and Mr Jan Janik 2 Czechoslovakian seamen, who have applied for asylum in Australia. The Minister informed me yesterday that he hoped to have some information later this week. Has he any further information regarding the request for asylum in this country?
-The Minister for Labor and Immigration, considering all the factors involved in the cases of the 2 Czechoslovakian seamen, has decided that approval for permanent residence be granted to them subject to their meeting normal migration requirements. As everybody knows, it would be necessary for them to qualify in order to gain citizenship. That qualification is based on 3 years’ residence.
– Has the Minister for Agriculture seen reports that canned meat imports are undermining the domestic meat market? Is there any truth in such reports? What is the volume of canned meat imports? What percentage are they of Australian production?
– Several references have been made to this matter in the last month or so, and I have endeavoured to point out that the import of canned meats into Australia has a minimal impact on the Australian market. Imports represent only 4 per cent of the total canned meat production in Australia and in fact less than one p-;r cent of total carcass meat production. In addition, about half the canned meat production of Australia is exported. The canned meats being imported are special lines which do not conflict or, generally, sell in competition with the local product. I assure honourable senators, as I have on previous occasions, that the importation of canned meat into Australia has no detrimental effect on the local industry.
– I direct my question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. In view of the South Australian Premier’s statement today that the proposal to build the city of Monarto will proceed, and the rejection last night by a meeting of public servants, called by the Public Service Association in Adelaide, of the South Australian Government’s proposal to conscript them to Monarto, will the Leader of the Government give an unqualified assurance that the reference to Commonwealth Government departments on page 20 of the most recent report of the Monarto Development Commission will not result in a similar conscription of Commonwealth public servants? If the Australian Government adopts the same hard line as its South Australian counterpart, which departments will be subjected to duress to enforce their employees ‘ relocation?
– I have seen a report to the effect that Mr Dunstan apparently has made some statement which indicates or suggests that certain public servants in South Australia would be required to move to Monarto. Senator Hall asked me a question concerning this about a fortnight ago relating to the Borrie report. As I indicated then, in this Parliament this matter really is the responsibility of the Minister for Urban and Regional Development. I would not know whether the Australian Government Minister would be prepared to use any coercion as far as federal public servants are concerned. I would need to refer that matter to him. I doubt very much whether he or any other Minister involved would be prepared to take a stand to the extent of forcing anybody to live in a particular growth area. However I shall refer the question to the Minister concerned for a more detailed answer.
– My question, addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, arises out of a recent newspaper report of a proposal to re-equip the Royal Australian Navy with new fast patrol vessels to replace the obsolete Attack class vessels now in use? Can the Minister provide any information concerning this proposal? Are there any special reasons, circumstances or new developments which highlight the need for these ships? Can the Minister indicate the number of ships to be so commissioned? Will they perform any duties additional to those now performed by the present patrol vessels?
– The only information I can give the honourable senator is that a study is being made at present of the performance of the existing Attack class craft, as to whether that performance might be enhanced and as to their eventual replacement. As part of the examination the Navy has completed a study of the roles in which the patrol craft would engage in future. The results of the study are being taken into account during the consideration of the new equipment program. Consideration also is being given to the question of what should take place in respect of the ship which sank, HMAS ‘Arrow’. Mr Barnard, the Minister for Defence, told me this morning that he expects the report soon. He will be able to make an announcement about the matter following receipt of the report.
– Will the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs inform the Senate whether an Aborigine qualifying under the terms of the Aboriginal Loans Commission and who has an existing loan from a bank, lending agency or building society for a business enterprise or to purchase a home, will be able to have this loan taken over by the Aboriginal Loans Commission because of the crippling high interest rates presently charged by said agencies?
– It is a matter for the Aboriginal Loans Commission to decide. There is no bar to its lending money for the purpose of redeeming existing mortgages or loans. When the Loans Commission was set up it sought to impose some restrictions so that money would be available to Aborigines who otherwise could not get loans. If someone has a loan from some other lending institution but is threatened with closure of his business or financial hardship in his business because of the high interest rates, I can see no bar to his converting his loan to an Aboriginal Loans Commission loan if the Commission offers him a loan at a lower interest rate.
– I direct the attention of the Minister representing the Attorney-General to an editorial in the ‘Australian Financial Review’ of 4 March which appears to indicate that the Trade Practices Act is being used to inhibit public discussion on matters of public interest. I ask him: Does the Trade Practices Act place as sub judice any matter relating to an application by a firm to the Trade Practices Commission? Will he clearly state whether this is desirable? If it is not desirable, what action will be taken to prevent firms from making mischievous applications in order to protect their own interests?
- Mr President, I rise on a point of order. The point of order is that the question contravenes the Standing Orders which state that questions shall not ask for the expression of a legal opinion. That is what Senator Georges is asking the Minister for. I say further in support of the point of order that it is a dangerous practice for expressions of legal opinion to be given by Ministers in response to questions of the character which Senator Georges asked, because the ultimate result is determined not by the Minister but by a court. People might be misled by an honest but inadvertently wrong answer given by a Minister. There is therefore prudence in the point of order, and I submit that it ought to be upheld in view of the controversy currently surrounding this matter.
– I wish to speak to the point of order. The honourable senator is doing exactly what I seek to have corrected by my question to the Minister representing the Attorney-General. In fact I believe Senator Greenwood is misusing the Standing Orders to prevent a discussion on a matter of great public interest. I do not believe the Standing Orders were made to inhibit the asking of questions of this sort. For that reason I would say that the Minister representing the Attorney-General should be able to answer such a question and he should take care to see that the answer is a correct and well considered one.
- Senator Greenwood has raised a point of order. He relates it to standing order 99.I am quite certain that Senator James McClelland is aware of the restrictions of standing order 99 and will answer the question asked by Senator Georges accordingly.
– I can assure Senator Greenwood, who took the point of order, that I do not propose to give a legal opinion. I have read the editorial in yesterday’s Australian Financial Review’ and I have read the reply to it from the Chairman of the Trade Practices Commission, Mr R. M. Bannerman, which appears in today’s issue of the ‘Australian Financial Review’. The point raised in yesterday’s editorial was that section 162E of the Trade Practices Act could be construed as placing in contempt of court commentators commenting on actions of the Trade Practices Tribunal in giving temporary authorisations to persons who were alleged to be engaging in restrictive trade practices. The reply arose out of a couple of articles which appeared in the ‘Australian Financial Review’ commenting on authorisations which had been given in respect of life officers and insurance brokers. Of course, if that were the effect of the section of the Act referred to it would be a most undesirable result and definitely counter to what was the intention of the Government in introducing the Trade Practices
Act. I have had a look at the section. As I. have said, I will be careful not to breach Standing Orders by giving my opinion as to the effect of section 162. 1 think this is a matter which should be put beyond doubt. I do not think that Mr Bannerman’s comment this morning puts the issue beyond doubt. As I have said, I think it would be most undesirable if the mere grant of a temporary authorisation while the matter was being more fully considered by the Commission inhibited public debate on the subject of the temporary authorisation. Therefore we intend to draw this matter to the attention of the AttorneyGeneral and to ask him whether the Act needs amendment in order to put the intention of section 162E beyond all doubt.
– Has the Leader of the Government in the Senate seen the report in the Australian’ newspaper of today’s date that the Prime Minister has indicated to the Palestine Liberation Organisation that its representatives should be able to visit Australia soon? Is there any substance in this most unfortunate report? Is it likely that representatives of this terrorist organisation will be allowed into Australia? Since the terrorists are from countries which already have diplomatic missions in Australia will the Minister urge on the Prime Minister the view that these missions are better able to publicise the views which might be expressed by the Palestine Liberation Organisation and that this group, which has been internationally condemned, has no place in this country?
-I understand the Prime Minister has indicated that the Government would be prepared to look at a fresh application by the Palestine Liberation Organisation in respect of a visit by such a delegation to Australia. This does not indicate that the Government has changed its position. It indicates that the Government is prepared to be flexible and to look at any application in the light of circumstances which exist at a particular time. The reason for the Government’s decision recently to refuse visas was based on the fact that a visit was not desirable as a visit by such a delegation could well create difficulties within the Australian community. Those circumstances may change in the future and the Government would recognise that change. If the PLO were prepared to communicate directly with the Australian Government I am quite sure that the Government would be prepared to consider such an application again. The Government remains quite firm in its stand that it does not want to see visits from any overseas delegations which may exacerbate or worsen feelings which run very strongly in this country on this issue.
– I ask the Minister for the Media whether it is true that there are fears of further retrenchments by Crawford Productions Pty Ltd because of the decision of television stations to drop certain shows. Has any financial assistance been given to Crawford Productions recently by the Australian Film Development Corporation? What is the current level of the Corporation’s investments as against the previous year?
-The honourable senator will recall that two or three weeks ago I mentioned in the Senate that Crawford Productions had reported to the Government that it was having some economic difficulties because of the cancellation by the Channel 9 Network of one of its television productions, namely, Division 4, and that it was seeking an interview with me and the Federal Treasurer to discuss those problems. That interview took place about a fortnight ago. It is true to say unfortunately that a number of retrenchments have occurred at Crawford Productions. Again, as I indicated when I answered that question, the symptoms that are exhibiting themselves at Crawford ‘s are not, I think, symptomatic of the industry generally, because it is a fact that there are more work opportunities now in the film and television industries than there have been ever before. If the honourable senator looks at an article in this morning’s ‘Canberra Times’ he will see that it states that there are now more feature films being produced in Australia than at any other time.
As to the amount of investments or loans that the Film Development Corporation has made to Crawford Productions, I am not in a position to provide immediate information of that nature but I can tell the honourable senator that in the 7-month period up to January the Film Development Corporation, which is a statutory body, invested or loaned $1.4m compared with an amount of $ 1. 2m over the preceding 12 months. This is of course a substantial uplift in the amount of investment in the film industry by the Corporation. Additionally, following discussions that Mr Crawford had with the Federal Treasurer and myself, the Treasurer and I placed a submission before Cabinet, and the honourable senator will see when the Appropriation Bill comes into this chamber- I hope, today- that there is included in that Bill an amount of $I.35m which is being made available additionally by the Government to the Film Development Corporation for investment in the film industry between now and 30 June. Unquestionably the Labor Government is making more money available than ever before for investment and loan to the film and television industries and, as I have said, there are more employment opportunities now existing throughout these industries generally than have ever existed previously.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister will be aware that the Sovietpermitted return to Australia of Russian violinist Georgi Ermolenko renews doubts about the Government’s real intentions in having him returned to Russia last year. Is he concerned at media reports that the Government’s intervention was not prompted by any desire to prevent an ugly international incident but in fact was part of a deal with the Kremlin aimed at making good the Prime Minister’s alley on his then imminent visit to Russia? If these reports are false, will the Minister seek for the Senate a statement of denial by the Prime Minister?
– The question, of course, does not seek information, as it should; it is loaded politically, lt is quite obvious that the question is intended to convey some inconsistency on the part of the Government. The decision some months ago to repatriate Mr Ermolenko to his native country was a proper decision taken by this Government, and I am quite sure that a decision by the said gentleman to migrate to Australia is also a proper decision. As I understand it, Mr Ermolenko wanted to return to the Soviet Union at the time. He wanted to go back and then to go through the normal, proper channels to emigrate to this country with his parents. I find no inconsistency in the attitude of the Australian Government then and Mr Ermolenko ‘s admission to Australia as a migrant now.
-I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Labor and Immigration. Since Georgi Ermolenko ‘s decision to emigrate to Australia with his parents, there have been allegations that he did not choose to return recently to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics of his own volition. I now ask the Minister if he can nail that farrago of nonsense?
– I think it was Senator Young who yesterday also asked me a question about Ermolenko. At the time I did not have the information but later in the day, as honourable senators now know, the Minister for Labor and Immigration made a statement to the effect that Georgi Ermolenko and his parents would be migrating to Australia and that they had been advised by Australian officials in Vienna that they could be eligible for assisted passages. In view of the question asked yesterday and in order to answer Senator Mulvihill it might be as well to add to what Senator Wriedt has said by quoting from a cabled Press report which was made available to me and also to Senator Wriedt. I refer to the following questions and answers which are from an extract of a Press report of an interview at the Australian Embassy in Vienna:
– He confirmed that he wanted to stay here before.
– I have not finished yet, Senator. If Senator Carrick listens for a little while he will learn that Mr Ermolenko supports what the Government did. It is interesting to note that Mr Ermolenko senior made comments to Australian officials of his own volition and in English; I have a copy of them with me. He said that he was ‘grateful to Mr Whitlam’ for having helped his son to return to the Soviet Union since only in this way could the family have been reunited overseas. Finally I quote from the editorial in this morning’s ‘Australian’:
It now seems apparent that those well-meaning acquaintances who tried to prevent Georgi from leaving Australia last year were wrong. It now seems that the Minister for Immigration, Mr Cameron, has some justification in claiming that his Government’s decision to fly Georgi and his party out of the country by RAAF plane was right.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Agriculture who will be aware that thousands of tons of pears have already been dumped in the Goulburn Valley because of the removal by the Government in the 1973 Budget of the sales tax exemption on carbonated beverages containing 5 per cent fruit juice. This action resulted in the loss of markets for pear juice and no pear intake for juicing this year. The Minister will also be aware that harvesting of a large crop of apples and market pears will commence in Tasmania in a few weeks and that because of the greatly reduced juice market many more tons will be dumped. What steps is the Government taking to ensure that the 1975 Tasmanian crop of juicing apples and pears is processed into juice or, in the event of fruit being dumped, the industry is compensated for the loss?
– I am not aware that there is any great problem in Tasmania in relation to juicing pears. In fact, I do not see the relationship between the first part of the question as to the surplus of pears in the Goulburn Valley and the second part as to the Tasmanian position because of the comparatively small production of pears in Tasmania as against the very large production of pears in Victoria. The specific question is: What are we doing about the Tasmanian position? Basically, the prospects for the Tasmanian industry look, comparatively sound this year. I know that the Australian Apple and Pear Corporation has taken every possible avenue to promote the processing of both apple and pear juice in Australia this year. On the latest information available to me it is not anticipated that there will be any great surplus problem, especially in export market quality fruit. So I would expect- in fact I feel confident- that there will not be the problem in that State that has occurred in Victoria with quite a large excess of pears this year.
– Has the Minister for Repatriation and Compensation seen advertisements recently in the Press purporting to offer help to victims of cyclone Tracy with their claims for compensation from insurance companies and the Government? Does he agree that this service, which apparently is only a printed list of things people might have lost, is worth $3 a copy? Will the Department of Repatriation and Compensation be assisting people to make their claims for compensation? Will there be any charge for this service?
– I have seen an advertisement which was inserted in the newspapers by Mr and Mrs Souten. I have in front of me a copy which appeared in the ‘Australian’ newspaper on Saturday, 15 February. Mr and Mrs Souten say that they themselves lost their possessions in Darwin during the cyclone and have had some experience in making out claim forms. They offer in the advertisement, for the sum of $3, to provide a guide to people who may have claims against insurance companies or claims for compensation under the scheme which the Australian Government is introducing and which is being administered by my Department.
I find it quite unnecessary that these people should offer services of this sort. I am not entirely familiar with what practices the insurance companies are following, but I would have thought that they would have provided adequate claim forms to the people who were making applications to them. Regardless of whether they are doing so, the Department of Repatriation and Compensation does not believe that people who have claims to make for compensation from the Australian Government will have any difficulty in completing forms. Officers of the Department are available to help them do this. Unless there are some particular problems with the insurance companies and their claim forms with which I am not familiar, I certainly would not advise anybody to spend $3 on private assistance in completing his claim form for the Department of Repatriation and Compensation as there are officers of my Department who are available to help anybody who has such a claim to make.
– Can the Minister for Agriculture indicate to what extent the Government may be prepared to extend the principle inherent in the $3m loan made to the Australian Meat Board to assist in the return to producers from the recent 40 000-tonne beef sale to Russia? In this time of crisis in the beef industry, will similar alleviation be provided in respect of other possible placements of export beef?
-The decision by the Government to make available finance up to $3m to the Australian Meat Board is not restricted to any particular market. The purpose of the loan is to allow the Australian Meat Board to exercise its commercial judgment on the way in which that finance is to promote its own marketing and to make it perhaps more competitive in those markets than are other exporting nations. I feel that it would be wrong for me to try to assess any more specifically what the Meat Board should do. The Board is the authority which acts for Australia in so many of these areas. It is a matter of judgment of the Board itself as to how it would make use of that finance for the purpose of keeping meat flowing. The main purpose of the Government is to keep meat moving in Australia. The more we can be competitive on the world markets the more we can export beef and keep the whole process of meat moving right throughout the industry.
– Will the Minister for the Media give consideration to making use of the film medium to make Australians, particularly school children, better informed about Asia and Asian affairs? Does he have any plans for the future in the dissemination of knowledge of Asia and its people?
-As the honourable member will know, on the notice paper today there is a message for the introduction of and debate on a Bill to establish the Australian Film Commission. If that Bill receives the support of this Parliament, Film Australia, which is the film production unit of the Australian Government, will be tranferred from my Department to the Australian Film Commission and it will then be the responsibility of the Film Commission to plan developmental projects in this area. However, I can tell the honourable senator that already Film Australia, under the auspices of my Department, has done a considerable amount of filming in Thailand and in Indonesia. The films that it has produced have been very well received in both those countries and indeed are now being used to great advantage by educational authorities and institutions throughout Australia. In addition, in my capacity as the Minister for the Media, being ministerially responsible for the Australian Broadcasting Commission, 1 have been endeavouring for some time to obtain a co-production arrangement between the Australian Broadcasting Commission and Film Australia. As a result, Film Australia and the ABC at present are engaged in the coproduction of a television series which is designed specifically to foster a better understanding in Australia of the way of life in a number of Asian countries. Hopefully that series of television films, after they have been shown in Australia, will also be available for screening abroad.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Science: In view of claims that stronger warnings should have been given to the people of Darwin, will he take up a request with the Minister for Science that warnings of the speed of cyclones should be expressed in miles as well as in kilometres and that warnings of flood dangers should be expressed in feet and inches so that the many people who do not understand the metric system will gain from the warnings a truer impression of the danger of such cyclones and floods?
– I will be pleased to convey that request to the Minister for Science.
-Has the Minister for the Media seen Press reports which say that 2 small children nearly burnt out a section of their parents’ home after watching a television advertisement for a cigarette lighter? If these reports are true, at what time was the advertisement shown on television? What action will the Minister take in regard to this advertisement if the reports are true?
– I did see the report, which I think was in the ‘Daily Telegraph’, that the young children were apparently influenced by a television commercial which featured a person indiscriminately lighting matches. I made inquiries of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board, which is responsible for program standards and advertisements, and was told by the Board that the advertisement had been brought to its attention some time ago by its monitoring staff. The Board decided that the advertisement should not be shown before 8.30 p.m. At the time that it was monitored, as I understand it, the advertisement was being shown in what is regarded as children ‘s viewing time. Any program after 7.30 p.m. is considered to be in adult viewing time and after 8.30 p.m. it is considered to be in adults only time. However, the advertisement, which I think was for a Bic butane lighter, has now been voluntarily withdrawn from television by the Federation of Australian Commercial Television Stations. I want to assure the honourable senator that the Control Board as well as having its ordinary standards for advertising has a code of standards for advertising which is directed at children. I can assure the honourable senator that this advertisement was detected at a very early time by the monitoring staff of the Board and that the Board took action forthwith.
– I preface my question to the Minister for Manufacturing Industry by stating that no doubt the Minister will remember saying that the reduction of output of zinc at the Electrolytic Zinc Co. of Australia Ltd in Hobart was due to a reduction of export demand and also a reduction in local use. Is the Minister aware that there have been predictions that steel production and production of such things as galvanised iron will fall in the next few months and that this will result in an even lower demand for zinc than the 60 per cent production we now see at Risdon? In his Department’s discussions with the Electrolytic Zinc Company, did the company indicate that it may have to reduce its production another 20 per cent in the near future with consequent reduction of staff not only in Hobart but also on the west coast of Tasmania from which much of the ore comes?
Senator JAMES McCLELLANDDiscus.sions are still proceeding with the Electrolytic Zinc Company in an attempt to solve some of its problems. I should not like to prejudice these discussions by going into too much detail in the matter. I hope the outcome will be favourable. That is all I am prepared to say on that matter at the moment. As to the other arm of the honourable senator’s question about a possible drop in the production of sheet steel, the Government is aware of such danger and is also taking measures to avert such a happening.
– I direct my question to the Minister for Agriculture. I understand the Minister has had in mind for some time revising the powers, functions and composition of the Australian Dairy Produce Board in order more effectively to meet the present day demands of the market place. Can the Minister inform the House when any developments might take place in this regard?
-I have indicated in the past that I intend, in line with the Government’s policy on the restructuring of all statutory marketing authorities, to restructure the Australian Dairy Produce Board. I have had lengthy communications with the dairy industry to ensure that the restructuring process will be of benefit to the industry. The restructuring does not relate so much to the powers of the Board because they are currently fairly wide, but the composition is certainly under review. I am hopeful that within, probably, the next month I will be able to make a final statement on the composition and structure of the new Board. I must also say that I am reinforced in my conviction to proceed with these measures to strengthen the marketing aspect of these boards by a statement of the Deputy Leader of the Country Party only this week in which he expressed views along similar lines. That has indeed been of great encouragement to me.
– Notwithstanding what appeared in today’s ‘Australian’ will the Minister representing the Minister for Science have an accurate assessment made upon mercury and other chemical contaminaton in fish? When this has been achieved will the Minister arrange to have the findings publicly announced and exhibited, firstly to give the public an exact method of ascertaining the amount of fish that can be eaten without having any adverse effects on the health of members of the public and, secondly, as recent publicity appears to have frightened many people with the resultant fall-off in demand which is seriously disadvantaging many fishermen’s livelihood, particularly in Tasmania?
– Yes, I will convey the honourable senator’s request to my colleague the Minister for Science.
-Can the PostmasterGeneral give any indication whether the Government is considering any new provisions which will benefit those who are commencing an interest in amateur radio operatons?
-The Post Office and I are considering what seems to be a need to provide licences at a reduced fee and to reduce examinaton fees for those people who might claim to be novice amateur radio operators and who can qualify in a fairly basic examination in theory and also have minimum morse operation experience. The idea would be to encourage those who have made radio operating a hobby and not to restrict the hobby to people who qualify at the higher level. All 1 can say to Senator Drury is that the matter is under active consideration and I hope to be able to give some details and finalise it within a couple of weeks.
-My question is directed to the Minister for the Media. I refer to steps, reported in today’s Press, announced by the Chairman of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board relating to the contents of a television program which was described as containing vulgarity and being of poor taste. What steps is the Minister taking to ensure a better standard in programs of this type? Will he lay down guidelines so that the community does not have to suffer programs such as this which harm moral standards and display an appalling lack of creative ability?
– I am interested that the honourable senator should ask that question because last year the Government introduced a Bill to amend the Broadcasting and Television Act to give the Minister power to approve certain actions such as the honourable senator has contemplated. However, he was one of those who voted against giving that Bill a second reading. Therefore I tell him that whilst the legislation stands as it does I, as Minister, having regard to the legal opinions expressed to me, have little power in that regard. The matter lies principally within the responsibility of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board. However, I understand that the Government will be re-submitting to the Parliament in the near future the legislation about which I have spoken. I assume that it will be coming to the Senate. That will give the honourable senator the opportunity to express his opinion on that legislation and I hope that he will vote for it.
I can tell the honourable senator that while the responsibility for control of these matters lies with the Broadcasting Control Board, at a meeting in Adelaide yesterday afternoon the Board reviewed the matter of the ‘Graham Kennedy Show’, the show to which the honourable senator referred, which was screened in both Sydney and Melbourne on Monday night. I am told that the Board saw a tape of the program yesterday and has decided to take action under section 1 1 9 of the Broadcasting and Television Act, asking the compere of the program to show cause why within 7 days an order should not be made prohibiting him from future appearances. The Board has also asked television station GTV9 in Melbourne to supply the names of the persons responsible for approving the use of the material considered objectionable by the Board. I understand that similar action under section 1 1 9 might be taken by the Board against those who are responsible.
-Has the Minister representing the Minister for Housing and Construction seen the latest statistics released by the Reserve Bank of Australia indicating a continuation in the month of January of the large increases in the money supply that occurred in the December quarter of last year? If so, can he advise the Senate of the effect which this situation should have on the availability of housing finance?
– I think I answered a somewhat similar question yesterday about the availability of money for housing. I have seen the figures released by the Reserve Bank of Australia. I find that the seasonally adjusted figure of money supply for housing rose by $563m in January, compared with $260m in December 1974 and $562m in the previous month. This money supply would suggest a better prospect for a continuation of an increased supply of housing in the immediate future. Meanwhile, as reflected by the increase in the supply of funds for lending, I understand that the New South Wales permanent building societies increased their loan approvals considerably in January and that waiting time for borrowers has decreased considerably. In Queensland the permanent societies’ lending is understood to have risen in February. This shows that there should be a tendency for more approvals and more permits, although the tendency at present is for money to be used for the purchase of occupied houses rather than for the construction of new houses because of the high price of new houses. This is one of the things we sought to overcome by some reduction previously in money supply.
– In addressing my question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate I refer to the inquiry into the textile industry by the Industries Assistance Commission. Is the Minister aware that advice of the inquiry- it was advertised on 2 1 February, that public hearings would commence on 1 1 March- has made it difficult for members of the industry to lodge a balanced presentation of the case? As the clothing manufacturing industry is one of the largest employers of female labour and local manufacturing is dependent on some supplies of imported raw materials, it is essential that all facts are placed before the IAC. Will the Minister ensure that the inquiry permits the presentation of the widest views of the industry and that the time limit on the inquiry does not narrow the scope of its examination?
– It would surprise me if the Industries Assistance Commission had not made adequate arrangements to allow time for interested persons to make proper submissions. If what the honourable senator says is the case, I am at a loss as to why the Commission should in any way make the time for submissions to be presented too brief. That is certainly not the experience I have had of the Commission in respect of references on agricultural matters. However I will refer the question to the Prime Minister who has primary responsibility for the Commission and draw his attention to the facts raised by the honourable senator.
– Has the Minister representing the Minister for Urban and Regional Development read a report in the Adelaide ‘Advertiser’ of 3 March wherein Senator Carrick was quoted as having said in Adelaide last Sunday that the Monarto project had been entered into with undue haste before it was properly researched, and that the South Australian State Labor Government’s present policy on decentralisation was based on the dragooning of public servants and the forced long march of public servants by the Premier? Is this not a further illustration that members of the Opposition are deliberately attempting to mislead the people on matters of Government policy, particularly in relation to Monarto? Will the Minister undertake to invite officially all Opposition members to view the Monarto exposition when it is on display in King’s Hall during the third week in April?
– I am a regular reader of the Adelaide ‘Advertiser’ because of its importance to our State. It keeps me informed of Liberal Party policy. I recognise it as one of the outstanding supporters in the Australian Press of the Liberal Party. Of course Senator Carrick ‘s remarks would get ready publicity in the Adelaide ‘Advertiser’. I have seen the statements.
– You got a fair run on Alice Springs.
-Yes, as well as Liberal policies it does publish the utterances of statesmen at times. On this occastion publicity was given to the statement about the South Australian Government’s attitude. I think it is clear that the South Australian Government has a policy of decentralisation and it decided on the Monarto development with Commonwealth backing. The suburb is going ahead. It is ideally placed for certain government departments that need not be located in the capital city. Mr Dunstan has said that he will transfer certain departments to Monarto. He has said also that if there is a refusal on the part of a public servant to go, and of course there is complete freedom for an individual to refuse to go, the position held in the Public Service department which will then be concentrated in Monarto will have to be filled by someone else.
– In other woods it means that person is sacked.
– No, it does not mean he will be sacked. This action is supported by the Public Service Association of South Australia. Last evening the Public Service Association of South Australia had a meeting to consider this direction. On the radio program ‘AM’ this morning the Secretary of the Association said that the Association is opposed to any coercion but that of 1 5 000 public servants in South Australia there would easily be sufficient volunteers to man the services going to Monarto. He was then asked whether he thought it may mean a less efficient service if certain people now holding positions had to transfer to other positions. He said he thought it would lead to a more efficient service because men would be satisfied with their location and place of residence. Therefore there seems to be no question of conscription. There could well be a shifting around of public servants in South Australia, but everyone seems happy about it except Liberal politicians.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs. With what degree of urgency is the survey being conducted of problems of Aboriginal evacuees from Darwin who are now throughout various parts of Australia? When does the Minister expect the report of the survey to be available? What number of Aboriginal evacuees have returned to Darwin so far, or approximately what number, if the Minister can give some indication? What number are still accommodated elsewhere in Australia. What are some of their main problems and what is being done about them?
– A team comprising Mr Bernard Valadian, who is an Aborigine from Darwin, Mr Hyacinth Tungutalum, a Country Party member of the Northern Territory Legislative Assembly, and another person is going around conducting a survey of evacuees in the southern and eastern States. From time to time we get a report of its visit to various States. We received one yesterday on the position of Aboriginal evacuees in South Australia, where now approximately only 80 are still residing. Many have gone back to Darwin without notifying the Department. There is still some problem in keeping track of the movements of Aborigines. A report indicates that the Aborigines are satisfied with the services being provided at the Pennington hostel by the Department of Labor and Immigration. As the survey team visits various areas we will continue to get reports and take any remedial action that is necessary for the purpose of rectifying any complaints or grievances that Aborigines may have.
-On 26 February Senator Bessell asked without notice a question about the provision of stoma appliances free of charge to all who need them. On Tuesday, 17 September 1974, the then Treasurer in his Budget speech announced:
Honourable senators will recall the mutilation in this chamber of the National Health Bill (No. 2) which contained provisions for the supply of certain classes of surgical and medical aids and appliances. As a result of the treatment given by the Opposition to the National Health Bill (No. 2) it was not possible to proceed -
– By the Senate, not by the Opposition. It was a decision of the Senate.
– I am pleased to see that Senator Greenwood wishes to dissociate himself from the Opposition in its approach to the National Health Bill (No. 2). I am glad to see that at least he has the decency to acknowledge the indecency of the action of the Opposition at that time. As a result of the action which was taken by the Opposition we were not able to provide immediately those benefits which we had intended. Fortunately since then the necessary amendment to the National Health Act has been passed and at present the provision of these appliances free of charge to all who need them is being investigated by the Department of Health. It is expected that these investigations will be completed within the next few weeks and it is hoped to have the scheme in operation soon after.
Senator BISHOP (South AustraliaPostmasterGeneral) For the information of honourable senators I present the first annual report of the National Committee on Discrimination in Employment and Occupation for the year ended 30 June 1974 entitled: ‘Towards Equal Opportunity In Employment’.
– For the information of honourable senators I present volume one of the report of the Advisory Committee on Antarctic Programs, dated December 1974, and a discussion paper entitled ‘Towards New bperspectives for Australian Scientific Research in Antarctica ‘.
-I bring up the report of the Joint Committee on the Australian Capital Territory on self-government and public finance in the Australian Capital Territory.
Ordered that the report be printed.
– I ask for leave to move a motion for the Senate to take note of the report.
-Is leave granted? There being no dissent, leave is granted.
– I move:
In doing so I shall make a few observations concerning the report. It is with pleasure that I bring up the report of the Joint Committee on the Australian Capital Territory on Self-Government and Public Finance for the Australian Capital Territory. The honourable member for Fraser (Mr Fry) has added a dissent to one of the Committee’s recommendations but in all other respects this is a unanimous report of the Committee. Initially the inquiry began as an examination of the financial affairs of the A.C.T. The first evidence was taken during the 27th Parliament in June 1972, when Senator Withers was Chairman. When the present Government came to power, the question of the proportion of State and municipal costs and revenues that should be met by the residents of the A.C.T. was again referred to the reconstituted Committee. In August 1 973, the scope of the inquiry was enlarged to include the whole question of selfgovernment for the A.C.T. and the Committee was asked to consider conjointly that matter and the question of State and municipal costs.
The inquiry has had to face some peculiar difficulties. It has been interrupted twice for federal elections. Honourable senators will see, if they look at the section of the report headed Personnel of the Committee’, that no fewer than 19 different members of Parliament have been members of the Committee at different stages of the inquiry. Of the original Committee which began taking evidence in June 1972, only Senator Devitt and I sat to consider the final Report. There have also been changes to the Committee secretariat during this period. This lack of continuity of membership has presented problems for the Committee, the secretariat and the witnesses -many of whom have given evidence on more than three occasions. The inquiry has also faced with a problem of a different kind. There have been important institutional changes in the A.C.T. during the period of the inquiry. Some of these changes were brought about by the Government. After the 1 972 election a portfolio for the A.C.T. was created and a new department, the Department of the Capital Territory, was formed to undertake functions relating to the A.C.T. previously managed by the disbanded Department of Interior. Likewise the creation of new departments such as the Department of Urban and Regional Development has had consequences in A.C.T. government as the National Capital Development Commission now reports to that Minister rather than to the Minister for the Capital Territory.
There have been many changes in the management of functions of government for the A.C.T. with new departures envisaged for the management of health and education. The Advisory Council, which until September of last year was a small body consisting of persons elected by the community and nominees of departments, was replaced by a chamber of 18 members, all elected on an adult franchise. An election was held in September 1974 and the new institution designated a Legislative Assembly, although it had no legislative functions, has been meeting and conducting business. The Committee’s report is designed to define the nature of its powers and its place in A.C.T. government. To date, the situation may be likened to a case of 6 characters in search of an author and 18 characters in search of a role.
During the period encompassed by our inquiry there has continued to be rapid growth in the A.C.T. The population, now assessed at 180 000, is expected to reach 300 000 during the next decade. Honourable senators will be aware of the pace of development in Canberra. Against this background of change and vital growth the Joint Committee on the Australian Capital Territory has been considering the related questions of the most appropriate form of self-government for the Australian Capital Territory, and the proportion of the costs of government of the Australian Capital Territory that should be met by the Australian Capital Territory community and the Australian Government respectively. As stated earlier, the inquiry began with the reference on ‘costs’ as an examination of the public finances of the A.C.T. The Committee found it difficult to isolate the question of ‘costs’ from the more general issues raised by selfgovernment and so it welcomed the extension of the reference to include the question of selfgovernment. From the recommendations of the report it will be seen we have recommended that self-government should be granted to the A.C.T. in wide terms consistent with the national interests. But we have also stressed in our report that self-government means financially responsible government, and although the Territory should be eligible to receive grants from the Australian Government on a similar basis to those now paid by the Commonwealth to the States the remaining ‘costs’ should be met by taxes and charges raised locally. We discuss in some detail in the report the need to establish a set of public accounts for the Australian Capital Territory to replace the existing municipal and Territorial accounts. This is an exercise that can only really begin once the powers of the Legislative Assembly and the range of functions to come under its control have been determined. A very important issue considered by the Committee was the basis upon which grants should be paid to a territorial government once established, by the Government of Australia. We have recommended that this question should be submitted to the Grants Commission for examination and report. Until the likely level of Australian Government grants has been accurately determined, it is impossible to obtain a clear picture of the remaining costs that will have to be met by taxes and charges imposed on the local community.
Apart from the question of finance the 2 most important issues the Committee had to determine were the question of institutions, that is, the most appropriate form of self-government and the institutional arrangements to support it, and the question of which functions of Government should be placed under self-government and those which should remain a national responsibility.
It was necessary to begin by looking at the question of functions. Once the likely extent of self-government was clear then appropriate institutional arrangement could be considered. The Committee has taken the broad view that unless the national interest dictates that the Australian Government should retain control of a function of government, there should be a presumption in favour of the eventual transfer of that function to local control. It was established to our satisfaction that any transfer from national to local control does not and cannot involve any final and irrevocable loss of ultimate power to the Commonwealth. Under section 122 of the Constitution, the Parliament is given legislative power in relation to territories. The exercise of legislative power by a Legislative Assembly for the Australian Capital Territory would therefore be and remain the exercise of a delegated or subordinate power.
It follows from the Constitutional position, as we understand it, that it is rather for the national Government to retain powers unto itself than to prescribe a series of functions to be transferred to local control. Our approach has therefore been to determine the powers that the Commonwealth should retain rather than the powers that the local assembly should have. It is our conviction that in one area at least the Australian Government should retain full power, that being the area of planning development, land management and leasehold administration. We recommend the establishment of a national Capital Development Corporation to absorb the existing National Capital Development Commission and those sections of the Department of the Capital Territory administering functions related to land. We are opposed to the fragmentation of this function between different authorities and consider it should be placed under one authority responsible to a Minister of the Australian Government. For reasons given at length in the report, we consider that the planning and land management function is so closely tied to the concept of Canberra as the national capital and the seat of government that it must always remain under national management.
In regard to other important functions such as health and education the responsibility elsewhere of State Government we see no reason why they should not pass eventually to local control. It is stressed in our report that selfgovernment should not all come at once and that there should be a period of transition during which the institutions of self-government are developed to the point where substantial local responsibility can be accepted. It is also important to observe that the local community accepts the management of its affairs at the local level. This confidence will be inspired only if the Assembly can show itself capable, in the first instance, of managing comparatively simple but not unimportant aspects of the Territory’s affairs whilst at the same dme developing the institutions which will be necessary under selfgovernment.
In view of the range and breadth of functions which we see as ultimately becoming the responsibility of the local community and the legislative role this will entail, the Committee considers that a parliamentary form of government is the most appropriate form of government for the Australian Capital Territory. It is our recommendation that there should be a unicameral assembly to be called the Legislative Assembly consisting of 19 elected members of the Legislative Assembly who should be regarded as employed full time on their parliamentary duties and paid accordingly. We make no recommendations as to the level of their remuneration or other emoluments but suggest the appointment of a tribunal to consider the matter and make an initial recommendation.
We envisage that the Assembly although it will have a limited and subordinate legislative role will function in the Westminster tradition like other parliaments in Australia and overseas. The Government of the Territory should be formed from within the Assembly. We see this as happening in either of 2 ways. If there is a majority party capable of supporting a Ministry in the Assembly, then a small Executive could be formed from the members of the majority party accountable to the Assembly. Alternatively a committee system could operate with the chairman of each committee as the chief spokesman and accountable person for the particular area of Government. The Committee sees the Assembly functioning on broad parliamentary lines. It should develop its own executive system, rules of procedures and practices in the light of parliamentary experience in Australia.
There would be 2 methods whereby laws would be made for the Australian Capital Territory under this proposal. The Australian Government as the paramount legislature could make laws on any matter. It could exclude the authority of the Assembly by simply legislating on a subject whether or not the Assembly had legislated in that area. All other laws would be made by the Assembly in the form of ordinances. The ordinances of the Assembly would be subject to disallowance of the Senate or the House of Representatives but would not be subject to the veto of the Government of the day other than through its parliamentary majority. In our proposal there would be no Ministry for or Department of the Capital Territory once selfgovernment was fully established.
The Committee considers that the proposal put forward in the report is a workable basis for establishing self-government in the Australian Capital Territory. We have been aware throughout the inquiry that self-government is not
Before I conclude my remarks, I wish to pay tribute to the secretariat of the Committee. Theirs has been an unenviable task because of the change of personnel of the Committee and the complex nature of the inquiry. I submit that perhaps it was an inquiry that was a little apart from what should have been undertaken by a joint committee of the Parliament. Nevertheless, I place on record our appreciation of the work done by Mr Don Nairn, the secretary of the Committee, Mr Bill Mutton, research officer and Mrs Sek of the Committee secretariat.
I have always believed, as I think a vast majority of honourable senators also believe, in the work of Senate committees or joint committees. I think it has amply demonstrated on this occasion what can be done by committees of this nature. For example, I refer to the differing political ideologies of members of the Committee who examined the whole question. It is customary for the chairmen of such committees to come from one House- usually the Senate- and for the deputy chairmen to come from the other House. We would have followed that well-established principle on this occasion except for the fact that new members from the other place came on to the Committee almost three-quarters of the way through its inquiry and I asked them to agree, and they did agree, to Senator Marriott being the deputy chairman of the Committee. That is a splendid example of the way in which committees operate in the interests of the task which confronts them. There was no political bias whatsoever in setting out together to bring down what would be regarded as an objective report, which I believe our report is. As Chairman of the Committee, I would like to pay tribute particularly to Senator Marriott, as the Deputy Chairman, and to all other members of the Committee for their attendance at meetings. When honourable senators consider that the Committee commenced in 1 972 and has brought down its report in 1975 they will appreciate the volume of work that has gone into the preparation of the report. I
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Report of Committee for Reasons
-I bring up the report of the Committee for Reasons in relation to the Senate’s disagreement to amendments proposed by the House of Representatives to the Public Service Acts Amendment Bill 1 974. The report reads as follows:
Reasons for the Senate not agreeing to the amendments proposed by the House of Representatives:
The amendments remove from the Bill as passed by the Senate the provisions for the taking of an oath or affirmation of allegiance and these provisions had been in the Public Service statutes from 1922 to 1973. They should be restored to the Statutes.
The provisions for the taking of an oath or affirmation were removed from the Principal Act only at the end of 1973 and in the circumstances in which a majority of the Senate would have opposed their deletion had the opportunity been available. The Senate accepted the assurance of the Government (in order to enable the major features of the legislation to be enacted ) that opportunity would be provided for the Senate in 1974 to assert its rights to cover the position. The Senate has now done so. The amendments now proposed by the House of Representatives will, if agreed to, reverse the position to which the Senate would have held in 1 973 and to which it did hold in 1 974.
The oath or affirmation of allegiance is conducive to patriotism, loyalty and the development of a sense of nationalism and pride in country.
The oath or affirmation of allegiance binds the person who takes it in duty and allegiance in his vocation as a public servant.
No adequate reason has been offered for removing the oath or affirmation of allegiance.
Motion (by Senator Douglas McClelland) agreed to:
That the debate be now adjourned.
Debate resumed from 15 October 1974 on motion by Senator Murphy:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– The Senate is now dealing with the Refrigeration Compressors Bounty Bill which was introduced into this chamber on 15 October last. I will have some comments to make on that at a later stage. Firstly, I propose to give a short history of and make a few comments on what has happened to this Bill. The Bill provided that a manufacturers’ bounty of $5 each be paid on sealed unit refrigeration compressors of 1.5 kW or less for a period of 2 years from 4 February 1974. The bounty was recommended in the report of the then Tariff Board on 10 October 1973. The report also recommended a tariff reduction from 43.125 per cent to 25 per cent on compressors of this capacity. The reduction has been effective since 4 February 1974. The Tariff Board asserted in its report that the Australian market for compressors of 1.25 kWs or less could not support more than one of the three Australian manufacturers on a reasonably economic base and nominated that that producer be James N. Kirby Pty Ltd. The report went on to say that it would therefore be in the best interests of all concerned if other manufacturers took advantage of that recommended adjustment assistance measure to discontinue their present production. In other words, the Board made it clear that industry rationalisation was necessary and that all 3 manufacturers should receive the bounty. In addition to James Kirby the other compressor manufacturers involved are Email Ltd and Kelvinator Australia Ltd.
When this Bill was before the House of Representatives the Opposition there endorsed the concept or rationalisation of industry when this would lead to greater vitality and improved competitive power. However, the honourable member for Berowra (Dr Edwards) raised the question of whether the Bill would in fact achieve rationalisation. He cited the Tariff Board report which expressed uncertainty that the short term bounty and long term level of tariff assistance of 25 per cent would support profitable production of refrigerator compressors in Australia. Having raised these questions and assuming that the Government had the answer, the Opposition in that place supported the Bill. The Bill was introduced into this chamber on 1 5 October last year. Following the adjournment of the debate I expressed my concern to former Senator Murphy, who was in charge of the debate in this place, about certain passages of the Bill. The Opposition’s concern was with the words ‘sold by the manufacturer and’ in clause 5 (b) of the Bill. This concern, when translated into decision, meant that James N. Kirby Pty Ltd would receive the bounty on compressors whilst the other 2 manufacturers would not do so.
Having expressed this concern to former Senator Murphy and he having looked at the matter, he was rather inclined to agree that what I was saying was a fact. I then said that if this was the case and one manufacturer was entitled to the bounty and the other 2 manufacturers were not, I believed that the Government was contravening section 5 1 of the Constitution and I thought he should look at this matter. Former Senator Murphy did look at it and later gave me a copy of a Government amendment which is dated 8 November 1974. The proposed amendment of the Government was not suitable to the Opposition. I told former Senator Murphy that I would continue with my proposed amendment to clause 5 when the Bill came up for debate. After a further lapse of time the Bill is in the Senate. The Minister for Manufacturing Industry, Senator James McClelland, who is in charge of the Bill, has been good enough to discuss the Bill with me and to show me the Government’s proposed amendment. The Opposition is quite prepared to support the Government’s amendment because it meets the concern that we had with the Bill earlier.
I do not think there is any need for me to traverse the history of the Bill from its introduction until now, other than to say one or two things. I was quite concerned at the small amount of discussion that had taken place up to the time of the introduction of the Bill in the Senate between the manufacturers and the departmental officers. One manufacturer told me that he was sent a copy of the Bill. The accompanying letter was dated 4 October. The manufacturer received the Bill on 1 1 October and it was introduced in this chamber on 15 October. Up to that time very little discussion had taken place between that firm and officers of the Department. Apparently this problem has been overcome in a satisfactory manner since that time. I pay tribute to former Senator Murphy and to Senator James McClelland for the assistance they have given in this matter. I believe many members of the Senate, from both Opposition parties and from the Government, have made representations on behalf of the manufacturers. All those honourable senators played their part in bringing about a satisfactory conclusion to the problem that confronted us. When the Bill is debated in the Committee stage and the Government puts forward its amendment I will not proceed with my proposed amendment and will support the Government’s amendment.
– I rise mainly to inform the Senate of the part that Government members also played in getting former Senator Murphy, who was then the Attorney-General, to amend the clause regarding the bounty in the Refrigeration Compressors Bounty Bill. As Senator DrakeBrockman said, this Bill passed through the House of Representatives on 3 October where there was very little opposition to it. It was probably realised afterwards that only one of the manufacturers in Australia would benefit by the bounty and that the other 2 manufacturers, namely Email Ltd and Kelvinator Australia Ltd of South Australia, would not benefit by the bounty. However an article appeared in the Australian Financial Review’ on 1 November. It was written, I understand, by the honourable member for Wakefield, Mr Kelly, who signed himself ‘by a Modest Member of Parliament’. In the article he referred to the legislation that we are now debating. I shall quote an extract of what he said. It reads:
The Bill went through the House of Representatives easily, but since then the hosts of the ungodly (as Eccles calls them) have been marshalled and the Bill will be emasculated in the Senate.
Eccles burst into tears of rage when he heard this, but perhaps things are not quite as serious as he thinks, After all, the bounty is only to be paid for 2 years and after this the industry is expected to exist on 25 per cent duty alone.
The only way it can hope to do this is to make all, or almost all, the Australian compressors in one factory. If not, a duty of 25 per cent will not suffice.
Following that article in the ‘Australian Financial Review”. I received a copy of a letter from the Managing Director of Email Ltd. It was a copy of a letter that he wrote to the editor of the Australian Financial Review’. I do not intend reading all the letter. I shall read only 2 paragraphs. The letter was dated 6 November and it states:
The unexpected appearance in your columns ( 1 November) of the views of the ‘Modest Member’ on the Refrigeration and Compressors Bounty Bill now before the Senate obliges me to break a silence self-imposed as a courtesy natural to an issue of industrial and political seriousness under discussion with the Government in Canberra. Support by your correspondent for this Bill continues a fallacy which, unless corrected, could have serious repercussions on costs and employment in the Australian appliance industry.
The Managing Director there is referring to the honourable member for Wakefield. After summing up the effect the Bill would have on Email Ltd he states:
In 1 96$ Email was the first company by more than 2 years to gain Standards Association of Australia certification for its full range of Australian made refrigerators. No manufacturer presently using Kirby compressors is so certified over his full range. If Email was forced to purchase compressors instead of manufacturing then direct and indirect effects could be that 500 jobs would disappear at our Orange plant- an outstanding example or decentralisation initiated 28 years ago with the Chifley Government and employing some 2000 people.
Following that letter I received a telegram from Rod Marsh who is Secretary of the Trades and Labour Council in New South Wales. It was addressed to me as Chairman of the Manpower Committee. In the telegram he stated:
Labor Council of New South Wales vitally concerned at maintaining employment levels at Email Plant Orange New South Wales. This decentralised community relies substantially on such employment. Company will be affected by operation refrigeration compressors bounty bill also white goods industry tariff” policy. Request your support for this establishment in deliberations of your committee.
I had passed to me 2 further telegrams that were sent to the Postmaster-General, Senator Bishop. One was from the Premier of South Australia and the other was from the Premier’s Department in South Australia. Both these telegrams drew the Minister’s attention to the effect of the legislation on the Kelvinator Company in South Australia. After we received communications from the General Manager of Email, from the Premier of South Australia and from his Department, together with the telegram from the Secretary of the Trades and Labor Council in New South Wales, with Senator McLaren I called on the then Attorney-General, former Senator Murphy, and we explained what the effects would be. At that time Senator Murphy gave both of us a very sympathetic hearing- the same as he did to Senator Drake-Brockman- and assured both of us that the legislation would be remedied. Senator McLaren and I later attended a meeting of the Economics Committee where representations were presented from the domestic appliance industry in Australia. The matter was fully discussed, and it was agreed that the legislation be amended so that the bounty would apply not only to Kirby Refrigeration Units Pty Ltd but also to Email and Kelvinator. I believe that the representations of Government senators to Ministers have resulted in a suitable amendment which will cover the matter regarding the other manufacturers. The amendment increases the amount of the bounty from $2m to $3. 25m. I believe that it was the efforts not only of Opposition senators but of Senator McLaren and myself in drawing the attention of the then Attorney-General to the legislation which remedied the anomalies which existed.
Sitting suspended from 12.51 to 2.15 p.m.
– We are considering the Refrigeration Compressors Bounty Bill 1974. In the Committee stage we will be considering requests for amendments which will be moved on behalf of the Government to clauses 5 and 6 of the Bill. Without those requests I would find myself not prepared to vote for the Bill. I welcome the proposed amendments which were advocated very strongly by members of the Opposition, particularly Senator Drake-Brockman and Senator Jessop, as well as by members of the Government Party.
The history of this Bill is that on 10 October 1973 the then Tariff Board reported to the Government on its inquiry into tariff protection for domestic appliances, heating and cooling equipment, and recommended that assistance by way of bounty be afforded to the manufacturers in Australia of sealed unit compressors of lh kilowatt power or less. At the same time the Board recommended a reduction in the rate of duty on sealed compressor units of 1 Vi kilowatt power or less from 43’/s per cent to 25 per cent. This second recommendation of a reduction in tariff was acted upon and the necessary amendment to the customs tariff has been in operation since 4 February 1 974.
The Bill before us provides that from 4 February 1974 until 3 February 1976, a 2-year period, a compensating bounty of $5 be paid on sealed unit compressors manufactured in Australia. In its present form the Bill provides for $2m a year to be available for this bounty. This would cover an estimated annual market demand of some 400 000 units. Provision also is made for a proportionate decrease in the per unit bounty should the total of claims exceed the estimated 400 000.
There are 3 Australian manufacturers of these compressors- Kirby Refrigeration Units Pty Ltd in New South Wales, Kelvinator Australia Ltd, in Adelaide, and Email Ltd in New South Wales. In clause 5 of the Bill there is provision for rationalisation of the industry with the biggest manufacturer being the only one entitled to the bounty. That would have meant that the Kirby organisation would have been the recipient of the money now being provided. This would have resulted in a monopoly situation and, if implemented, would have constituted in my opinion a travesty of justice.
I am violently opposed to enforced rationalisation of industry. Rationalisation is a good thing when carried out by the manufacturer of his own volition. Rationalisation, when forced by bureaucracy against the wishes and judgment of the person expected to step down from an industry, is not acceptable to me. Whether any industry is viable is a matter for determination by that industry, by the person concerned, and nobody else. Profit capability and the capacity to continue to be operative in any industry always should remain a matter for individual judgment, and what incentive is available to one manufacturer always should be available to everybody in the industry. The theory of get big or get out is anathema to me. Efficiency is not determined by turnover alone but by a host of other considerations. Therefore the decision whether they should continue production in their various factories should rest with the accredited and registered manufacturers. That which is allowed by way of bounty to one organisation should apply, as I have said, to other producing organisations.
The requests for amendments now before us was circulated by the Government and is greatly welcomed by me. It will achieve that which was sought and advocated by honourable senators on both sides of the House. I particularly mentioned some honourable senators when I commenced to speak. This Bill concerns greatly a highly respected industrial complex in South Australia, Kelvinator Australia Ltd, an organisation which employs some 2500 to 3000 people. The Bill similarly affects Email Ltd in New South Wales which manufactures in a decentralised area. These organisations will not be detrimentally affected if the proposed amendments are carried. Judging by the debate this morning it would appear that there is general unanimity in this chamber about accepting the proposed amendments. The words that it is proposed should be deleted from the Bill relate to sale. Clause 5(b) of the Bill states:
It was proposed initially, in the discussions with the then Senator Murphy which were referred to this morning by Senator Drake-Brockman, that the words ‘sold by the manufacturer’ and should be deleted. This suggestion has been given effect in the Government’s proposed request for amendments. In Committee we will be considering proposed new clauses 5 and 6. I know also that there is to be an increase in the amount of money made available each year for this bounty. The sum is to be increased from $2m to $3.25m. I look forward to hearing in due time from the Minister just what is to be encompassed with the additional money if there is to be greater expectation of production or any variation in the per unit subsidy or bounty. I welcome the proposed amendments. I support the Bill and trust that the amendments in due course will be carried by this chamber.
– I support the Bill and the proposed amendments. I particularly want to say how pleased I am that the amendments are in their present form because of the value of this industry in South Australia and the impossibility of the Bill, as first introduced, fulfilling a satisfactory test of fairness to the Australian producers. I want to emphasise also the need to safeguard South Australia’s future which, under present population predictions in relation to growth, is bleak indeed. The Borrie report placed South Australia at the very bottom of the rate of percentage increase in population in Australia. South Australia has to be particularly careful to safeguard the industries it has because at this time it is getting very few new ones. In fact there has been a marked difference in the introduction into South Australia of new industries. By default or by design South Australia has become a nongrowth State so far as new industries are concerned.
I particularly welcome the amendments which will safeguard a valuable industry in South Australia, one of the most efficient in this country and one which has produced a brand name in relation to white goods which is respected everywhere in Australia. It is obvious that the Australian market for compressors is insufficient to produce the economies which apply overseas. Yet it is strange that the Government’s intention in the original Bill to have one compressor producer in Australia was to place at least one other user of those compressors at a price disadvantage in relation to its own costs of production, even on a smaller scale. So the amendment is certainly justified in equity so far as South Australia is concerned, and it will maintain an important industry in our State. The delay has apparently caused an increase in the allocation of 62 1/2 per cent over the first $2m. I suppose that can be welcomed by the industry itself. The Bill as it was first introduced appeared to infringe the Commonwealth Constitution, as has already been mentioned. All in all I nave much pleasure in supporting the Bill and the amendment.
-I was very concerned when this Bill was first drafted by the Government and was completely amazed that there was no consultation with the industries concerned, apart from one. I understand that one was consulted by the previous Minister for Manufacturing Industry, Mr Enderby. As a result of what was proposed I took action on behalf of the firm of Kelvinator Australia Ltd in South Australia to see that some equity was brought into the Bill. I am glad to say that, as a result of strong representations by my colleague Senator Drake-Brockman and others, the Government recognised the need to produce the amendment that we are discussing here today.
I was afraid that the original intent of the Government in presenting the Bill in its original form would create unemployment in South Australia, which is suffering very badly from the administration of this Government. I agree with Senator Hall that it is in fact a non-growth State. I believe that this is due largely to the fact that South Australia is under a Labor Government. Of course the situation has been compounded in the last couple of years because we have had a Federal Labor Government as well. I express my gratitude that the former Attorney-General, now Mr Justice Murphy, and the Government recognised the problems that would have been created by this Bill. The jobs of 300 people in South Australia could have been jeopardised and something like 500 jobs in New South Wales could have been brought under the cloud of possible retrenchment as well. I think that enough has been said from this side of the House with respect to the matter. I am happy to support the amendment that has been proposed. I believe it will remove the concern from the minds of those employees in South Australia who were threatened by the original Bill that was presented to this House.
– I rise to give my full support to this Bill as we see it with the proposed amendment. 1 do not propose to devote much time to speaking on the matter because I think my colleague Senator Cameron outlined quite adequately the amount of work which he and I put in on this matter before the Bill came into this place. We spent a number of hours talking to the previous AttorneyGeneral, now Mr Justice Murphy, and to the previous Minister for Manufacturing Industry, Mr Enderby, and put a very strong case to both of them in support of the amendment which we now have before us. We had also the support of the Premier of South Australia, who immediately he saw the legislation saw the problems that could arise if the Bill was carried in its original form.
– You should have done something about it in the House of Representatives.
-Senator DrakeBrockman interjects and says that we should have amended the Bill in the House of Representatives. When he made his speech he quoted from the House of Representatives Hansard of 3 October. I notice from the Hansard that none of the Country Party members and none of the Liberal members in the House of Representatives mentioned an amendment. I see also that the honourable member for Berowra (Dr Edwards), of whom Senator Drake-Brockman made mention, said that broadly he supported the Tariff Board ‘s recommendation on this matter. So it is all very well for Senator DrakeBrockman to say we should have amended the Bill in the House of Representatives. The fact is that it was not amended there by either members from the Government side or members of the Opposition. When it came to this place remedial action was taken by Government senators. I shall not debate who was first to go to the appropriate Minister, whether it was Opposition members or Government supporters. However we played a great part in persuading both the Ministers responsible to bring in an amendment to safeguard the employment of people employed not only by Email Ltd but also by Kelvinator Australia Ltd in South Australia.
I refer to the quote of the modest member in the ‘Australian Financial Review’ to which Senator Cameron referred. I am not sure on which date it appeared, but that does not matter. It is already recorded in Hansard. He said that he was of the opinion that one company should have a monopoly in the manufacture of compressors. I was very happy to hear Senator Laucke in particular say that he did not agree with that policy of get big or get out. I think Senator Laucke has forgotten that this was a great catch phrase of the former coalition government, particularly by members of the Country Party in the early 1970s when we were faced with a rural recession. They used to go round saying to primary producers: ‘The Government cannot help you. The only remedy is to get big or get out’. Yet we now hear Senator Laucke saying that he does not agree with that policy. I am very glad that he has at least repudiated statements which were made by honourable senators opposite during their reign of government. I want to say a few words in reply to what Senator Hall had to say and also to what Senator Jessop had to say when they criticised the growth of industry in South Australia. Senator Hall said that South Australia used to have the reputation of being a great growth State. I remind Senator Hall that under his management South Australia was the lowest wage State in the Commonweath, it had the worst working conditions in industry and it had the worst Workmen’s Compensation Act in the Commonwealth.
– You will keep.
– Is it any wonder that industry would want to go to South Australia when it could employ workers at a cheaper rate than it would have to pay for similar types of work in other States. Of course under the present Dunstan Government we have done everything we can to upgrade the working conditions, the wages and the Workmen’s Compensation Act, so much so that the Workmen’s Compensation Act in South Australia today is the best in the world. These are the things which we wanted to do to put the people in South Australia or a parity with people who work in industry in other States. It is all very well for Senator Hall to threaten me and say that I will keep. I will keep; there is no doubt about that. I will not need to be preserved in formalin to keep, either. As I said, I do not want to delay the Senate with this Bill. I fully support the amendment which has been moved by the Government. I hope that the Bill gets a speedy passage and that we can get on and pay the bounty to the 3 companies which are deserving of it.
– In reply- I think everything has been said that needs to be said about this Bill. Without wishing for one moment to derogate from the efforts made by my colleagues to have the original Bill amended, I should just like to make the short point that the original Bill was conceived in an atmosphere of Simon-Pure economic rationality and instructions for its drafting were prepared as long ago as February 1974. The Government faces the fact that March 1975 is very different from February 1974, and in an atmosphere of large scale unemployment Simon-Pure economic rationality has to be diluted by human considerations. It is as simple as that.
I have circulated amendments which have the aim of spreading the bounty beyond the place where it would originally have fallen, that is, beyond merely the major manufacturers of compressors, James N. Kirby Pty Ltd, so that it reaches others such as Email Ltd in the town of Orange in New South Wales and Kelvinator Australia Ltd in the city of Adelaide. We, of course, have been subjected to a great deal of lobbying on this matter not only of the sort that has been referred to by previous speakers but also from management and trade unions pointing out that if something were not done to spread this bounty it would drive employers smaller than James N. Kirby to the wall resulting in an increase in unemployment and in a loss of human and physical resources. For that reason the Government has faced what it considers the inevitable in this situation and the amendments to which I shall refer in greater detail in the Committee stage are based squarely on those considerations.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
– I seek leave to move together 2 amendments and a request for an amendment which have been circulated.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
-The amendments and a request for an amendment relate to clauses 5, 6, 8 and 16 which read in part:
Clauses 5 and 6.
Subject to this Act, bounty is payable in respect of a compressor, if-
Bounty in respect of a compressor is payable to the manufacturer of the compressor.
I ) For the purposes of this Act, an authorized person may, at all reasonable times, enter-
I shall refer briefly to the amendments. The Bill, as introduced, was designed to aid the rationalisation of the compressor manufacturing industry as advocated by the then Tariff Board in its report of 10 October 1973 on domestic appliances, heating and cooling equipment. Due to the Bill’s overall purpose its passage through. this Parliament would have resulted in the exclusion from bounty of a significant quantity of locally made compressors, notably those made by Email Ltd in Orange and Kelvinator Australia Ltd in Adelaide. The Government has now reviewed its earlier decision, having in mind the real economic problems currently facing Australian manufacturers of these compressors. The amendments provide bounty assistance of $5 per unit on compressors of 1.5 kW or less produced for use as refrigeration components in the manufacture of other goods which are subsequently used in Australia subject to a maximum expenditure of $3.25m per annum. Senator Laucke questioned why we are proposing an increase from $2m as in the original Bill to $3.25m. The fact is that originally a bounty of $5 per unit was proposed on 400 000 units- James N. Kirby Pty Ltd would have had the lion’s share- amounting to a total of $2m. Now that the bounty extends to other manufacturers and as it is maintained at $5 per unit it is necessary to increase the amount to $3.25m. That is the explanation for the increase.
Additionally, the amendments seek to ensure absolute compliance with section 51 (iii) of the Constitution about which some doubt was expressed. As a matter of fact, the SolicitorGeneral expressed some doubt as to constitutionality for reasons on which I need not elaborate. That is why there has also been some amendment to clause 5. 1 commend the amendments to the Committee.
-The Opposition will support these Government amendments which cover the concern which the Opposition had. One would like to take up the Minister for Manufacturing Industry (Senator James McClelland) on some of the remarks about the economic situation which he made in replying to the debate. One would think that in formulating the original Bill the Government would have taken into consideration the decentralisation policy which it expounds and also the situation associated with the monopolies legislation which it has brought down. But as the Opposition agrees to the amendments I do not think we should go into those arguments at the present time. I just mention them in reply to what the Minister said when summing up the debate on the second reading.
Amendments and request agreed to.
Bill, as amended and with requested amendment, agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments and a request; reported adopted.
Debate resumed from 25 February on motion by Senator Douglas McClelland:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– It will be recalled that this is the second time around for the Australian Film Commission Bill. We are delighted that on this occasion the Government has accepted some amendments which were recommendations made during the first time that the Bill was dealt with in the Senate. The amendments which have been indicated by the Government permit the Opposition to allow the formation of the Australian Film Commission to proceed. We have the same disappointment on this occasion as we had when we dealt with the Bill originally. The functions of the Commission are to be subject to the approval of the Minister for the Media in relation to the way in which it conducts its business. We are also disappointed that the Minister for the Media will still exercise his direction with regard to some of the functions. However, the fact that an additional sub-clause has been included to clause 8 leads us to accept that there is parliamentary supervision over the directions which the Minister will give the Commission. That sub-clause states:
We are pleased that other amendments which are in line with our thinking on the structure of the Film Commission have also been included. Such a situation we see in sub-clause (6) of clause 10 which states:
A requirement shall not be made under this section unless there is in force a regulation. . . .
Again, this is a means by which Parliament will have some knowledge of the operations of this statutory commission. We were also interested to see that the Commission will no longer have very wide ranging powers as it had in the original Bill with regard to the requiring of information so that it may keep itself informed as to the film industry. We were also pleased to see that the clause with regard to delegation powers has been changed. It is now suited to the way in which we feel this body should operate. The changes which have been made in the Bill and which we believe to be a necessity for the formation of the film commission mean that the Opposition will give support to the Bill on this occasion.
However, I use this opportunity to say that I believe we are in some confusion as to the state of the film industry in this country. If we relate to the film industry the television industry, and the production side of that industry, we find 2 different points of view in circulation. There is the point of view expressed formerly by the Minister for the Media (Senator Douglas McClelland) and also today in question time that employment opportunities in the film and related industries have never been better in Sydney. At the same time we have the statement from the Minister about the difficulties which are being experienced by the company Crawford Productions, which has had a very wide interest in film making and television production. We have a conflict about whether it is in just one city of Australia that there are employment difficulties and whether in one city there are more opportunities for employment than we have ever seen before in this country. I believe that the formation of the Commission cannot of itself provide the answers to employment difficulties for our creative and performing people, but I do have the strong feeling that the formation of the Commission gives these people a feeling that they will have now a body from which they have expectations of assistance and co-operation in the development of what we hope will be a strong and viable Australian film industry.
I want to refer to another matter that was discussed this morning by the Minister at question time when he talked of the co-operation between Film Australia and the Australian Broadcasting Commission in the production of films describing a way of life and which are for dissemination to schoolchildren and others in this country and in Asia. I was interested to hear of the project to which the Minister referred, but I think that the fact that the films are to be made by Film Australia in conjunction with the ABC points up one of our original attitudes to the functions of the Commission; that is, that films which are to be made by Film Australia are subject to the approval and direction of the Minister. In relation to the project which the Minister discussed this morning, I question whether the independence of the ABC will be upheld in its co-operation with Film Australia, which will be making films subject to the approval and direction of the Minister. I do not wish to canvass that matter in any detail, but I think it highlights the attitude that the Opposition took, that an Australian Film Commission as a statutory body does not need to be subject to the approval of the Minister, nor should it be subject to his direction. I should like to think that in its functioning and the way in which it works with the industry the Commission will be able to show the Government that it does not need to be subject to the Minister’s direction in order to fulfil the function that we all expect of it.
The only other thing that I want to say at this time is that I suppose we have to relate the film industry to the Government attitude on Australian content in television programmes, because the relationship between the film industry and the creative people who work in that industry and in the television industry would lead us to express some views on the requirement that was approved by the Australian Labor Party that future television programs in this country shall have a 75 per cent Australian content. The Opposition questions that; it questions it from many points of view, but perhaps it questions very much the way in which the Minister describes the Film Commission’s work. While we talk about assistance to the film industry and while we put into perspective what can be public expenditure in assistance to such industries, we also wonder where that will fit in with the requirement that may be imposed on commercial television stations for a 75 per cent Australian content of first release material.
– Do you think it is undesirable that there should be a 75 per cent Australian content?
– Yes; I have very different views from those of the members of your Party with regard to that, Senator. I think it is a very limiting attitude to take to television programming in this country. I think that to impose a 75 per cent Australian content requirement would give very limited opportunities for the excellent programs that can be obtained for us from overseas sources. It probably places in question the employment opportunities in the industry in this country in the commercial sense. At the same time as we have that sort of requirement, we have the Government forgoing the television licence fees which the Australian viewer was pleased to pay in the past. We have a situation where $70m of public expenditure is now placed to support the operations of the Australian Broadcasting Commission when that money had formerly been drawn from individual Australian people. These things I think have to be related to the film industry and the way in which it will work in the future if we are to hope for the development of opportunities for the expression of our creative arts. 1 say simply that the Opposition welcomes the formation of the Australian Film Commission. Its establishment is a policy to which we are committed as a party, but 1 want to say that our concept is of a film commission as an independent statutory body and not one which is subject in all its functions to the authority and approval and direction of the Minister. We hope that the Film Commission will assist the industry and we look forward to the progress and development of the industry, in the production not only of short films but also of feature films, and not only producing for the Australian market but also being increasingly competitive in the world market. This is one of the hopes of the people who have been awaiting the formation of the Film Commission. We give it our blessing and hope that it fulfils all of those hopes.
– The Government has been endeavouring for some time to have the Parliament consider and pass legislation to establish the Australian Film Commission. In a sense, I suppose we can be grateful for the fact that at long last the Senate has put aside its delaying attitude and has conceded that the Australian Film Commission Bill has some merit and should be passed and become law. The Government has been concerned for many years- that is, the Australian Labor Party Government- to see a viable and dynamic film industry established in this country. lt is a matter of some pride, I think, that Australia was the first country in the world to produce, many years ago, the first feature length film. Australia was involved in a lot of pioneering and innovative work but, as our market became saturated by films from the United States, which were able to find ready and profitable outlets in Australia, at cheap rates, the local industry was not able to flourish and declined and passed from the scene. I think the Government is to be commended for taking the necessary steps in its own right to bring about some encouragement in this area and to put us back into the vanguard of film production. It is true that the Americans have stolen the march on Australian film producers because of the expertise that the Americans have developed over many years. It is true that they have established marketing opportunities and production opportunities well in advance of anything that even this Bill may provide. Nevertheless, a start is a start, and that is what we are concerned with here.
I suppose we can be thankful for small mercies in that the Opposition Parties in this place have at last agreed to give their consent to this Bill. I do not think this is hard to understand, because I am sure that the people associated with the film industry in Australia- and I am referring to both employers and employees- have, since the Senate took a different viewpoint last year, been able to prevail upon and appeal to the better sense of the Opposition Parties to the extent that now the Senate is going to pass this important piece of legislation. There is no doubt that films play a very important part in communication and in education. I must take issue with the preceding speaker, who usually presents a fairly reasonable case, when she talks about the excellent programs from overseas. That statement is certainly not borne out by my experience, and it is certainly not borne out, I am sure, by the experience of a great number of the Australian community, who would not agree that the films which come from overseas can be put into the category of excellent. In fact I think television via imported films has deteriorated quite considerably and quite alarmingly in recent years. In this area the government of the day, whoever it may be, does not have the opportunity to influence the type of production. Arrangements are entered into between the television stations and the film producers and, of course, what is available is what we get. The standard of production overseas in my view has never been particularly high except, I suppose, in the strictly limited sense of entertainment. Certainly it has never been high in the sense of raising people’s expectations and their understanding or in educating them.
I, like my Party and the Government, feel that there is an extra dimension to be considered here and that is to produce a better community and a better person. That does not mean to say, of course, that all our programs have to be of a documentary nature. We have to try to adjust our thinking. It is important that the different viewpoints within our community are expressed, viewpoints which at the moment have limited access to the other forms of the media. For example, people might write letters to newspapers, speak on talk-back programs and maybe, if they have a case to present as would, for example, the people associated with the environment movement in New South Wales and those associated with green bans, be interviewed on ‘This Day Tonight’ or the current affairs programs of commercial stations. The same sort of concept should be adopted by the film industry. In other words, we do not want this Commission to concern itself just with the type of excellent film produced on Cyclone Tracy which, one might say, was an informative film of what happened in Darwin and was able to give some indication of community response and the response of government, whether it be in the Northern Territory or in Canberra. Surely our thinking can be extended beyond that.
I see film making as not just one of the art forms, as not just a source of information but also as a source of dialogue, and I hope that we will have provided as a result of the passage of this Bill a Commission that will make available to the minority viewpoints within our community the same sort of access to films as they have in one way or another as a result of their own activities and their promotion of their interests to the wider areas of the media. This ought to be the yardstick by which the Film Commission operates. It ought to go out of its way to create controversial issues, to encourage divergent views, to act as the conveyor belt for the idea in the community today and to see itself making a full length feature film rather than concerning itself only with documentaries.
Profitability, which hitherto has been a factor in the making of documentaries, now will be of less significance and I would hope that content and objective and not profitability would be paramount in the Commission’s planning. Quite clearly it is in this area that there is a need for a lot more innovation, new considerations, a lot more new thought and a lot more involvement than we have seen in our general media presentations in the past. The Government is very grateful that the Opposition, following a review of its earlier rejection of the legislation, has been able to bring itself to see that this is a step forward not only towards promoting the film industry in Australia but also towards expanding its franchise to a greater number of people. I hope that ultimately as the result of the passage of this Bill the Australian film industry will again become important enough to play its part in improving the content of films for general screening as well as of those produced for television.
The time has long since arrived for us to expect that a country which occupies the technological position which we occupy in the world today, and a country with our resources, would be able to go much further than even our forefathers envisaged when they began the industry many years ago, by seeing that films become an important medium of communication. In conclusion, I stress the importance of seeing the film industry not just as a form of communication in the documentary sense but also as a form of dialogue, controversy and public interest. If those objectives can be realised through the passage of this Bill the Government and the Parliament will be thankful for the originating legislation and the support of the Parliament for it.
– in reply- I will be brief in replying to the debate on the second reading of this Bill. Following the controversy which surrounded the Bill when it first came before the Parliament last November and the ultimate rejection of it by the Parliament, and after second thoughts having been given to it by the Government in some areas and by the Opposition in other areas, we have been able to get unanimity of opinion that an Australian Film Commission should be established. That, I think, will be to the betterment of the industry. It will contribute much towards development and certainly will assist tremendously in putting the industry, which has grown considerably since the Labor Government came into being, on the road towards commercial viability.
Having said those things, there are just 2 or 3 matters that I should touch on briefly in reply. Senator Guilfoyle, who spoke for the Opposition on the Bill, referred to the employment difficulties that exist in the industry. She said that there are employment difficulties in Melbourne but fewer in the industry in Sydney. Generally, what Senator Guilfoyle said in that regard is correct but I am hoping that when the Film Commission is established and gives consideration to the diversification of the industry- that is one of the things that has to happen if the industry is to develop as a truly indigenous and national industrythose difficulties will diminish. Senator Guilfoyle will be aware that Mr Hector Crawford, the chairman of the company which she mentioned, Crawford Productions, was one of those appointed by this Government to the interim board of the Australian Film Commission which gave a lot of advice to the Government during the drafting of this legislation. The other matter that I should mention briefly is the co-production arrangement between the Australian Broadcasting Commission and Film Australia that I referred to in an answer I gave this morning.
At the outset, I assure the honourable senator that I, as the Minister, in no way influenced either Film Australia or the Australian Broadcasting Commission in the film that they should make. As the Minister, I have been urging the ABC and Film Australia for some time to try to get together for the purpose of co-production arrangements in the interests of both of them. As the honourable senator will be aware, the ABC production teams are purely television production teams whereas, generally speaking, Film Australia’s teams are basically film crews. The experts advise me that there is quite a difference in the art of producing for television, on the one hand, and producing for films on the other hand. lt was in order that these 2 Government authorities should get together so that there would be an exchange of techniques and expertise between the 2 types of crews operating together that this modus operandi was suggested.
There are still some difficulties; for example, difficulties in regard to insurance arrangements that are made for staff of the ABC on the one hand, and insurance arrangements for the staff of Film Australia, on the other hand, when they travel overseas. Thank goodness to this point of time, common sense has prevailed and at present officers of the ABC and Film Australia are abroad to make the original preliminary arrangements for the shooting of such a production. It was in that vein and for that reason I was encouraging a co-production arrangement in order to give a spread of technique and expertise throughout these governmental authorities.
A lot has been said- not so much today but last September- about this vexed question of ministerial approval. Let me make a comparison between this Bill now before the House and 2 other like legislative processes, namely the legislation to establish the National Film Board of Canada and that to establish the South Australian Film Corporation. Compared to those 2 pieces of legislation, the powers of the Minister under the Australian Film Commission Bill are comparatively restricted. Section 8 of the South Australian Film Corporation Act states:
In the exercise and performance of its powers -
That is, the powers of the South Australian Film Corporation- duties functions and authorities the Corporation shall, except where it is required to make a recommendation to the Minister, be subject to the general control and direction of the Minister.
It is stated in section 3 of the Canadian Act:
For the purposes of this Act and subject to its provisions the Minister shall control and direct the operations of the National Film Board.
I hasten to assure the Senate, and the Opposition in particular, that in the time that I am Minister for Media I certainly do not want to unnecessarily exercise dictatorial control over the production activities in which the Australian Film Commission might engage itself. Put simply, the fact is that Australia is subject to international treaties and as a Government we honour our international undertakings. When the Government decided that an Australian Film Commission should be established, I was asked to remind myself that the exercise of power under the Bill is:
Having had that matter drawn to my attention, it was then pointed out to me that the definition of Australian film’ in clause 3 of the Bill might conflict with paragraph 8 of annex IV to annex A to the Code of Liberalisation of Current Invisible Operations. That paragraph of the Code reads as follows:
The Regulations denning domestically produced films shall be such that any film produced under an international coproduction arrangement shall automatically enjoy, in all the Member States that are parties thereto, treatment as favourable as that given to domestically produced films.
It was felt that because Australia was a party to that international treaty and because at some time it might be necessary for the government to see that that portion of the international treaty was abided by, an undertaking should be given that there should be a general power of direction given to the Minister under the Act. Under this Bill while that power is still exercisable, if it is’ exercised now it has to be reported to Parliament within 15 sitting days.
I thank the Opposition on this occasion for the speedy passage that it has given to the legislation. It is legislation in which I personally have been expressing a belief and for which I have been working for at least the last decade. Once the legislation has passed through the Parliament and is ratified by His Excellency, the Governor-General, the hard task will then commence. It will be arduous and probably a thankless work for the members appointed to the Commission but I believe that those who are appointed and who have a belief in this industry, a belief in the good that this industry can do for the betterment of this nation, will be proud to play their part in building the industry. Because I am delighted that the Opposition can now see its way clear to agree to the passage of the legislation, I urge that the Bill be given a second reading forthwith.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
-By way of question, I would like to address one or two matters to the Minister for the Media (Senator Douglas McClelland) in regard to the staff of the Corporation now in existence and their likelihood of continuity of employment after this Bill comes into operation. The Bill contains 2 clauses which relate to the staff. Clause 29 is a necessary clause which provides that the staff shall be persons appointed or employed under the Public Service Act. Clause 30 provides for some continuity of employment in regard to the Superannuation Act where the person concerned continues to be employed by the Commission. Apart from that, there is no reference to the situation of existing staff of the Corporation. Clause 39 contains a provision which repeals the existing Acts and provides that rights, properties and assets of the existing Corporation shall be taken over together with all the debts, liabilities and obligations of the present Corporation. There is a specific provision that the members of the Corporation, as distinct from its employees, will have some continuity for the purposes of making reports and financial statements.
But my concern is one which is held fairly strongly by the present staff members of the Corporation. I believe that they are a capable staff. Obviously, there will be a need for persons to do the same type of work in the future. The concern which they have is that they have at present no assurance of continuity of employment when employment is a matter of great concern to all members of the community. I ask the Minister whether he can give some general assurance that it is intended to take over the members of the existing staff.
– When the Bill came before the Senate for the first time in September of last year I pointed out that no provision was written into the legislation for the transfer of staff from the existing Australian Film Development Corporation to the proposed new Australia Film Commission because it was hoped that this legislation would stand the test of time and would be in operation in 10 years time, 20 years time or whatever it might be. It would be quite fruitless if a provision in an Act of Parliament at that time stated that the staff of a defunct organisation of 10 years previously should be transferred to the Australian Film Commission. In the course of my second reading speech in the Senate on 26 September 1974, as recorded on page 1452 of Hansard, I said:
At the particular request of the Public Service Board, following discussions I understand they have had with the unions involved, I have agreed that arrangements should be made by the Board-
That is the Public Service Board- to allow staff of the Australian Film Development Corporation to have a right to elect to join the staff of the Australian Film Commission.
That position exists today.
Senator Sir MAGNUS CORMACK (Victoria) (3. 17)- I wish to raise 2 matters with the Minister for the Media (Senator Douglas McClelland). First of all there are problems that relate to recruiting via the Public Service Board into the Public Service of Australia. Anyone who has had experience in dealing with problems that arise inside the administrative structure of the Public Service for reasons which are proper would know that if an individual is not performing his duties as effectively and as properly as the Permanent Head of a department or a commission wishes, it is almost impossible to move that person out of the area into another area. I assume that all those who are engaged in the film industry in Australia would regard themselves as having an artistic content. I would like to know how on earth one may move out of the area someone who has failed to produce the quality of artistic competence that is felt to be desirable by the Commission to provide a promotion for or a position to someone of greater artistic competence. For example, it is almost impossible to prove that a doctor who may be working for the Government is incompetent as a doctor. If he makes a mistake not only of an administrative nature but also in the professional content of the job for which he has been trained, perhaps something could be done about it. But how on earth does one prove the artistic incompetence of someone on the Australian Film Commission? In my experience, once he is embedded in the Public Service system it is impossible to get rid of him. I would be grateful if the Minister would inform the Committee as to what the attitude would be in these circumstances.
– This is one of the matters that was looked at by the Interim Board of the Australian Film Commission which the Government appointed to advise it in the preparation of this legislation. The honourable senator will recall that at present a royal commission has been appointed to inquire into all facets of the Public Service. Undoubtedly this will be one of the matters to which the royal commission will be giving its attention. The report of the Interim Board of the Australian Film Commission, after considering this matter, suggested that perhaps circumstances of the type that Senator Sir Magnus Cormack has instanced might arise. I suppose that they have arisen in certain aspects of the Australian Broadcasting Commission because some of the officers of the ABC who are productive, creative and artistically minded are still employed within the terms of the Public Service Act. I suppose that from time to time it is an inevitability that that sort of thing will happen. The Interim Board has suggested that in the initial stages of the development of the Commission the problem might best be overcome by appointing people on a consultancy basis so that they can see how their skills will fit into the needs of the Commission. I think that that basically would be a way in which such a problem could be resolved. I know that in certain areas of my Department when my Department was initially being established certain people were engaged on a consultancy basis. I understand that it happened also in the Department of Urban and Regional
Development. It is one way of overcoming the problem instead of immediately appointing someone on a permanent basis under the Public Service Act, finding that that person has not the skill or ability required for the particular task for which he was appointed and then finding that because he is permanent he must be shifted sideways or left where he is.
Bill agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill (on motion by Senator Douglas McClelland) read a third time.
Consideration of House of Representatives message.
Senate ‘s amendment-
Leave out Clause 69.
House of Representatives amendment to Senate amendment and consequential amendment.
Amendment disagreed to, but, in place thereof, Bill amended by omitting clause 69 and substituting the following clause:-
Consequential amendment made by adding the following Schedule at the end of the Bill:-
AGREEMENTS BETWEEN AUSTRALIA AND OTHER COUNTRIES
That the Committee does not insist on the amendment disagreed to by the House of Representatives, agrees to the amendment made by the House of Representatives in place thereof and agrees to the consequential amendment made by the House.
These amendments have been the subject of some quite considerable informal discussion between the Government and the Opposition. Generally speaking the Government would concede there has been a co-operative attitude displayed by the Opposition and I hope that the Opposition would likewise concede that the Government also has been co-operative in dealing with matters which have been put forward by the Opposition. One of the most controversial issues was that related to the making of regulations subject to treaty obligations which the Australian Government had entered into. I think that we have managed to settle the issues in dispute at least insofar as one can settle such issues in dispute. I do not wish to prolong the business of the chamber at this stage. I would rather save whatever remarks I have until Senator Carrick has spoken. I understand he wishes to speak on the part of the Opposition and I will reserve whatever I have to say until he has spoken.
– The Opposition does acknowledge the excellent co-operation between the Government and the Opposition in a discussion of various amendments and in an attempt to reach agreement. The Committee will recall that when this measure was before the Senate on 1 1 December last year the Opposition moved and had carried some 8 amendments. Of those amendments some seven have now been adopted in the other place. The Opposition acknowledges the cooperation of the Minister for the Environment and Conservation (Dr Cass) in the other place and the Minister for Repatriation and Compensation (Senator Wheeldon) who represents the Minister for the Environment and Conservation in this place.
Those amendments went to the heart of the legislation as the Opposition saw it. Primarily we were disposed to try to ensure that the Bill did not in any way encroach upon the rights of existing States and State governments in terms of their own legislature and their own sovereign powers over land in terms outlined in this Bill. We sought also to draw to the attention of the
Government the need for it to take regard of, to co-operate with and to seek the advice of authorities in the Northern Territory particularly the Legislative Assembly and various voluntary agencies when implementing this measure. We hope that we have struck a responsive chord. One clause that does remain in some dispute is claue 69 of the original Bill which gives to the Governor-General power to make regulationsand I quote:
The Opposition said then that there were the gravest dangers in giving regulation powers to any Government under an Act derived from conventions or treaties made with foreign governments and in particular such treaties being those that have never been tabled in a parliament, debated in a parliament or the derivative legislation from those treaties being made. I point out again- I will be brief- that the treaties themselves are so loosely worded as to give any government virtually total power. The Minister in another place has sought to find a compromise and his compromise solution is to refer that clause only to a list of treaties which will be in the Schedule to the Bill. The clause provides a proposed schedule to the Bill of 5 agreements between Australia and other countries. The first of those 5 agreements is a convention on wetlands and of water fowl habitats. The second is a convention for the conservation of Antarctic seals. The third convention concerns the protection of the world cultural and natural heritage. The fourth is a convention on international trade in endangered species of wild fauna and flora. The fifth is an agreement between the Government of Australia and the Government of Japan for the protection of migratory birds and birds in danger of extinction. That is the proposal.
The Opposition does not believe that this amendment goes to the heart of the trouble. True, it takes one step and delimits the Bill to those conventions which are specified. The Opposition nevertheless believes that this legislation should not be delayed and that it is important legislation. Therefore it proposes to let it pass with 2 comments. When in government we reserve the right to make appropriate amendments. In the short time we hope to be in Opposition we will look at and scrutinise intently any regulations sought to be made by the government of the day under this legislation. Lest anyone fails to understand why we take this viewpoint I draw attention to one of the conventions in the Schedule. It is the Convention concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and National Heritage. As I did in a previous speech I now quote from the actual Treaty itself. It states:
For the purposes of this Convention the following shall be considered as cultural heritage:
Monuments, architectural works, works of monumental sculpture and paintings, elements of structures of archeological nature, inscriptions, cave dwellings and combinations of features which are of outstanding universal value, groups of buildings, groups of separate or connected buildings which because of their architecture, their homogeneity or their place in the landscape are of outstanding universal value from the point of view of history, art or science -
If I may interpolate, the next words are the important words - works of man or the combined works of nature and of man.
I think one will agree that those words encompass virtually everything. Clearly, under such a convention, it would be competent for a government to claim that it has the power to make regulations. I repeat the last words of the Convention which are:
This is far too wide. Equally, there is some question whether the Government has the constitutional powers to go as far as it has gone in the Bill. That is a matter for testing in the High Court. Nevertheless, we seek the speedy passage of the Bill. We of the Opposition parties have shown ourselves, in the State legislatures of Liberal-Country Party faith, to be the pace setters in the work of national parks and wildlife. In my State of New South Wales, the present Premier. Mr Lewis, has been Australia’s pace setter in this field. I think one should commend his work. It is good that the Commonwealth has come into this field and that its work should be extended to the Northern Territory, the Australian Capital Territory and the dependencies. In what I hope would be the spirit of co-operative federalism we should implement this vital work to maintain the ecosystem and to maintain and preserve the flora and fauna of this continent. Therefore, 1 commend the Bill.
– My intervention will be brief; I do not want to incur the wrath of my Whip. I was prompted by some of Senator Carrick ‘s remarks to pursue this matter just a little further. His talk about co-operative federalism reminded me of one matter. I would like the Minister for Repatriation and Compensation (Senator Wheeldon) to elucidate it in his usual crystal clear legal style. I could portray it by quoting a feature article in the
Sydney Morning Herald’ some months ago. The sovereign State of New South Wales, through its Minister for Public Works, seems to be more concerned with reclaiming some mud flats in the port of Newcastle than with Australia’s obligations under a treaty on migratory birds which Australia signed with Japan. Like Senator Carrick, I wish to see the enactment of this legislation. I believe in dealing with realities. I believe that if a speech is made in the Senate it does not mean a lot if it is not implemented outside. Senator Carrick would appreciate the use of a analogy about high powered war time bombardments, after which people must go in and mop up all the pockets of resistance. 1 hope I am not being provocative. I am concerned about the New South Wales Minister for Public Works. If this legislation gets the royal assent will he continue this reclamation work or will he retain one oasis for some of our wading birds? I could use a term that the Opposition is using in one of its advertisements about the Australian Government, but I will not.
– This is a muddy bank, not Medibank.
– Fair enough. The matter relates to mud banks in the port of Newcastle. If we are to pay more than lip service to wildlife conservation I would like this oasis for bird life to be retained. I would like to know whether it will be retained. That is why I entered the the debate. I have a postscript. I think all of us could claim credit for the Kosciusko National Park and to the work done by a man who is now in the autumn of his life, Sir William McKell. He played a notable role in the development of that park. The mother State has done a lot for conservation. I always remember the work of a man who has passed from this world, Arthur Tonge MLA, who was able to get the then Chief Secretary to create the New South Wales Fauna Panel. It was a precursor of all the presently interested bodies of which Senator Carrick would have cognisance. I do not cavil at that. I think all of us could claim some role in it. I wind up by asking something of the Minister. I have persistently bombarded the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Senator Willesee) on how we will stand after this legislation is passed in relation to this area for wading birds in the port of Newcastle which is menaced by the ugly sprawl of industrialism.
– I believe it is a very sensible compromise that the matters which were objected to previously in the generality are now included in specific terms in a schedule. This seems to make a very tidy Bill and a very positive proposal of the 5 items of agreement which have been concluded with other countries. I do not share the fear that some speakers seem to have that Australia may be over-committing itself. Quite frankly, there is very little prospect of enforcing these agreements against the will of a country which is party to the agreement. I believe that the method which the United States authorities are now using against Australia in refusing to allow kangaroo products into that country- the matter of trading in products from endangered or other species- is about the only means of enforcement, apart from political or general trading sanctions. Therefore, it seems to me that we are putting our conscience on the line and saying: ‘By agreeing in this way we will look responsibly at the wildlife which is specifically mentioned and we will take steps to preserve it in certain ways ‘.
The first treaty referred to in the Schedule relates to the international agreement on wetlands. I am told that the obligation under this treaty which Australia will be adopting is to provide one major wetland and to maintain it in perpetuity; if the country concerned varies that wetland it must provide another as a substitute. In other words, under the first agreement we are committed to the provision and maintenance of one extensive wetland in Australia which will provide a habitat for all the wildlife that may be representative of Australia. I am told that the second treaty extends to the high seas the prohibition on sealing which now applies to the Antarctic. There is some doubt that the present agreement on cessation of sealing in the Antarctic would apply. So it is only an extension of an already internationally agreed prohibition on sealing in Antarctica. The third treaty deals with the point which I think Senator Carrick made about matters which could be of nature and man combined. Upon inquiry I was told that it could include things such as the pyramids of Egypt and the Albert Park in the Congo. These 2 examples were given to me. The obligation is by nomination of the government only.
The fourth treaty lists the endangered species. There may be a lot of senators in this place who would consider themselves subject to this agreement on endangered species.
– One does not get much pro.tection from it.
– As Senator Missen said, one does not get much protection. Whether or not people are endangered in the near future will be a matter of actions taken in this place.
The fifth treaty deals with the migration of common species. They could and must be regarded as a common resource of the countries through which they move. I see the motion as a very sensible compromise. I am sure the Minister for Repatriation and Compensation (Senator Wheeldon) is aware of all these details and many more which are the subject of the amendments referred to in the motion which he so avidly moved. I add my support to the general support for the amendments.
– 1 appreciate the contribution made by senators who have spoken on this issue. There is a real problem which is involved not only in this Bill but in all sorts of other areas concerning the treaty and convention making power of the Commonwealth, lt is not something which is found only in this country. Obviously it must apply in all countries which have a parliamentary system. I refer to the executive arm of government having the power to enter into international treaties and conventions. It may well be that some of the terms of these international treaties and conventions are of a nature that may well be open to dispute in the parliament of the country whose government has entered into such treaty or convention. I think one is always faced with the dilemma:. What does one then do? Does one say that all draft treaties and conventions must be ratified by the parliament before the government could commit itself to them? If not, how does one overcome the problem which may arise in the national parliament? 1 am not sure how one overcomes a problem such as this, but certainly we have endeavoured, at least by way of compromise in this issue, to overcome it by saying: ‘Whatever we may think about this matter, so far as this Bill is concerned, we are dealing only with certain specified treaties and conventions’. This possibly may be the best course to adopt except in those circumstances where it is completely unavoidable.
Senator Mulvihill raised the question of some actions of the State of New South Wales. Power to make regu l ations concerning some of the matters he raised will be given to the national Government as a result of the passage of this Bill but we shall not be acting without consultation with the States in respect of those or similar matters. The Government regards this as a very important Bill. National parks are not a recent invention. People have been establishing parks for many years. In fact in my own city, Perth, it was quite a remarkable achievement of the first Premier of Western Australia, Lord Forrest, that over 80 years ago steps were taken to establish King’s Park right in the centre of Perth. At that time it might well have been regarded by many people to be quite unnecessary but the park has performed a quite invaluable function for the people of Perth and the surrounding areas. Only in very recent years has the absolute necessity of conservation become apparent to many people who hitherto were not quite so seized with the idea as were Senator Mulvihill and one or two others. This Bill gives expression to this realisation of the necessity for urgent action. The Government is pleased that despite the fact that there were some early objections and early differences with the Opposition they have been overcome. We believe it would be unfortunate if this matter were to become the subject of polemic and invective. I commend the Bill to the Committee.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Resolution reported; report adopted.
Debate resumed from 25 February on motion by Senator Wriedt:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
-This Bill seeks to create a statutory body out of the Australian Council for the Arts which was established under a Liberal-Country Party Government in 1968. The Bill is supported in its broad terms by the Opposition. I will refer to the reservations we have about some aspects of the Bill but those reservations are not such as would be likely to lead to irreparable damage being done. Accordingly we do not intend to delay passage of the Bill by moving amendments. Passage of the Bill already has been substantially delayed because it has been around for nearly 12 months, lt is somewhat surprising that there has not been a greater sense of urgency on the part of the Minister in charge of this matter, the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam), in bringing it on earlier. The Bill did come on for debate in the House of Representatives on 20 February 1975. The formal attitude of the Opposition in relation to it is set out in detail in the speech given by Mr Garland, the honourable member for Curtin, on behalf of the Leader of the Opposition, Mr Snedden, who was not able to be in Canberra at that time. It appears at page 589 of Hansard for the House of Representatives on 20 February. Therefore I do not intend taking up the time of the Senate to repeat the attitude of the Opposition which was set forth in the House of Representatives debate. Both sides are agreed that the Bill should be given a speedy passage so that it can come into operation quickly.
I repeat that the Opposition supports the principle of the creation of the statutory Commission, notwithstanding the severe misgivings that quite a large sector of the community has about, it. I have received a great deal of correspondence relating to this matter. No doubt Government supporters also received considerable representation from various areas of people interested in the development of the arts in Australia expressing their views about various aspects associated with the Bill. I believe that we have to try and that we have to experiment. If it is proved to us that the fears and reservations which some people hold are well founded then there should be change, experience having shown the shortcomings. I do not think it is sufficient cause to hold up passage of legislation such as this simply to say that there is a large and quite significant number of people who have various sorts of reservations about its likelihood of achieving what is an agreed objective.
One thing is clear about this Bill and that is that both sides of the chamber have agreed objectives. Those agreed objectives include the development for Australia, for Austalians, of a standard of excellence in the arts, a widening of access to the arts, an understanding and application of the arts in the community generally, the establishment and expression of an Australian identity through the arts, and the promotion abroad of an awareness of Australian culture. There are many people, including those currently described as ockers or those who follow the attitude of knocking those things cultural, who would say that Australia has never had a cultural base, is never likely to have one and should not ought to try- if I can put it in those terms.
– That is a good ocker expression too.
– Yes, I just wanted to use it. That is typical of the approach to be deplored. I do not suggest for a moment that we should be forcing upon people who do not wish to be associated with the arts a necessary involvement for so many hours of the day, or whatever it might be, with various aspects of our culutral development, but I do think that as a community it is highly desirable that we do everything we reasonably can to develop and broaden the appreciation of the cultural side of life and to broaden the opportunity for participation, whether it be as an artist or as a consumer.
One of the things which perhaps has been neglected in the past is specific encouragement of the consumer as opposed to encouragement of the artist. In saying that, I do not wish to be taken as suggesting in any way that there is not a case for public patronage of the artist by the subventions being made to artists but I do not think this should be done to the exclusion of having regard to the importance of broadening the consumer base. Let me give an example. Is it more desirable to have 2000 people witnessing an opera or a concert and perhaps paying $ 10 a head to see it or to have 10 000 people seeing it and paying $2 a head? In other words, is it better to have more people seeing it at a lower price or fewer people seeing it at a higher price with a similar return to the organisation staging it? I suggest that it is highly desirable that access to any of the various areas of artistic activity should be made as broad as possible. Therefore there needs to be concentration by the Australia Council which will be established by this Bill to ensure the broadening of the consumer base and not simply the patronage of the artists themsel ves.
I should like very briefly to make a few comments in summary form in relation to particular matters. The Opposition would wish to continue the principle of public patronage of the arts, but it would wish to do so with due regard to the importance of developing the consumer base as well as developing the artistic opportunity given to the artists. We would give some serious consideration to the fact that the present Bill would enable both the Council and the boards to be constituted without a single practitioner of the arts amongst their members. Whilst I do not suggest for a moment that it is the intention of the Government to have that eventuality take place, it seems to us to be undesirable that it can take place. It seems essential that there should be amongst those who are on the Council and the boards an adequate number of people who are practising the arts as well as people who are in one sense or another interested in the arts. The Opposition also sees it as desirable that there should be a wide autonomy for each of the boards responsible for a particular art form. We see it as desirable that each board should be free to implement its own policy and decide staffing and detailed budgetary allocations. This Bill does not give that sort of autonomy to the boards, and we see it as a potential defect.
It seems desirable that the people who are the experts in a particular field and who are bringing to a particular field of artistic endeavour a business expertise concentrated on that field should, between them, be the ones who could make the maximum number of decisions in relation to that particular field. We do not see it as desirable that there should develop a big brother attitude in relation to the arts through either too much government interference or too much bureaucratic interference. We see either of those situations as undesirable. Where there is public patronage of the arts there is always the possibility that there will develop a big brother attitude towards the development of the arts where the Government knows best or the bureaucracy administering the funds knows best. Again I do not suggest that this is the current situation but I think it is an inherent defect in some aspects of the approach envisaged by the Government under this Bill.
I notice in the definition clause that the arts are said to include creative and interpretive expressions through theatre, literature, music, visual arts, films and crafts. I am curious that the Government has not accepted the suggestion which was made publicly by the Opposition and which I understand received some support from those connected with the Australian Council for the Arts that the radio and television media should also be included in that definition of the arts, even if only to make sure that no one argues that radio and television were excluded by the failure to put them there. We would also suggest that the Government give some consideration in due course to ensuring that that sort of amendment is made.
Whilst we support also the objective of drawing forth the members to be appointed to the boards from those who respond to public advertisements, we believe there is some case of strengthening that to ensure that long periods of time do not go by without advertisements being placed to ensure that people who perhaps at some earlier time did not believe they would be likely to be free to participate on a board are given an opportunity to put their name forward as someone interested in playing that role. We think there should be some guarantee that advertisements will at least from some specific period appear and give people the opportunity to be listed.
Finally, whilst appreciating the need for continued support for established cultural organisations, we believe that support could also be given to a variety of artistic activities. The future health of the arts in Australia hinges on diversity, virility and innovation and widely based community and individual support together with, as I said, a broad based consumer involvement in which people are positively encouraged in the various ways available to the Council to participate, to get to know and to get to appreciate what Australian art has to offer them.
We take the opportunity to wish the new body well. We totally support its objective and we do not wish to be taken in any way as having done anything other than make some constructive suggestions. We will be looking forward to the opportunity when in government of reconsidering the matters to which I have adverted here or which were adverted to by Mr Garland in making a speech on this Bill in the House of Representatives, which I have not taken the time of the Senate to recapitulate on totally. We support the Bill and wish the new Council well.
-Senator Rae looks forward to being in government. May I congratulate him on his sense of vision in that regard which has been lacking in the approach of the Liberal Party in the past towards the Australian Council for the Arts. This Bill has the purpose of establishing a statutory corporation known as the Australia Council designed to promote and foster the arts in Australia. The Government is chastised a little for the delays in the presentation of this Bill to the Senate, but 1 would remind Senator Rae that it was first introduced into the House of Representatives in March 1974. As a result of something which took place in the Senate chamber the process of government stopped for 3 months and the Bill was not then proceeded with. It was again introduced in the House of Representatives in July 1974 but as a result of the prior importance of the Budget it was not proceeded with again until this year.
The Bill provides for the establishment of a council of 18 to 24 members to carry out the general function of planning and supervising the development of the arts in Australia and for the establishment of various boards to which the powers of the Council may be delegated. It in fact gives statutory authority to the Australian Council for the Arts, which has been operating since February 1973, together with 7 boards devoted to particular art forms, lt fulfils an election promise of the Prime Minster (Mr Whitlam ) and the Government made in November 1972. It is perhaps instructive to refer to the establishment of the Australian Council for the Arts and its functions described in the first report which was tabled in Parliament in November 1974. In reporting to the Parliament the Chairman made this comment about the function of the Australia Council. The report is headed: 1973- A Change of Direction. lt states:
The Policy Speech delivered by the then Leader of the Opposition, Mr Whitlarn, in November 1972 announced policies for the arts. It set out four broad objectives, namely to encourage excellence in the arts, to foster a wider spread of interest and participation, to help develop a national identity through artistic expression and to project Australia’s image in other countries by means of the arts. The speech also proposed a statutory Council devolving wide responsibilities on Boards for various art forms.
When the Government was elected early moves were made to give effect to these proposals. In January 1973 the Prime Minister invited twenty-four people to form a new Council with a charter to ensure a continuity of support to existing recipients so that past government commitments might be honoured, to prepare a budget for the increased help which the Government had undertaken to provide and to prepare detailed plans for a statutory authority broadly based on the proposals outlined in the Policy Speech. The membership of seven specialist constituent Boards was announced a few weeks later. Appointments allowed for an element of continuity from the past. Approximately one third of the people appointed had been members of bodies advising the previous Government. All appointments were for one or two years. The intention was to keep things functioning while plans were developed for more lasting arrangements.
The membership of the Council included four categories of people. The majority were prominent artists and persons closely involved in the arts including the Chairmen of the various Boards. They were supported by others with legal, financial and other administrative skills, with however, a known interest in the arts, and by several senior officials of Government departments and agencies whose work interlocked with that of the Council. 1 refer to that passage of the report of the Council because it suggests some of the difficulties with which the Australian Council for the Arts was faced at the time it was first established in 1973 and some of the objectives which the Council decided to pursue. The last few years in Australia have seen a tremendous growth and development of appreciation of the arts and an increasing cultural maturity and sense of Australian identity. To demonstrate this one has to go back only to the mid-1960s and compare the situation then with today. It constituted something of a period of cultural dark ages in the history of this country. In the mid- 1 960s Australia had no film industry. There was a minimum of patronage for music and creative writing. We had a paucity of significant playwrights. Although we had some outstanding painters they, comparatively speaking, enjoyed neither profit nor honour in their own country. Instead they enjoyed the recognition of London and New York. This was a period in which many Australian artists and writers lived in an alienated community principally in London. In Australia the powerful voices of people such as Robin Boyd, Patrick White and Donald Home seemed to be crying in the wilderness with regard to the hope they held out for the development of arts and cultural activity generally in Australia.
Of course much of this has changed as a result of initiatives taken by various people including, for example, the former Prime Minister, Mr Gorton, who had the political vision to see the importance of establishing a national film and television school in Australia. This change is also partly due to the vision of the present Prime Minister who saw a need for co-ordinating Government patronage for the arts which is an accepted objective of both political parties for the Australia Council. In the area of films, which is not entirely dependent on the activities of the Australia Council, Australia has already significantly changed its reputation. I refer the Senate to an article which appeared in the January 1975 issue of the London ‘Video and Film Communication Magazine’. Under the heading of: Australia, Government Helps the Media’, it states:
Things are stirring in the outback. Down under in Australia they have scheduled for production this year some 18 feature films . . .
It goes on to refer to the Australian Film and Television School and to the quality of production of Australian films. It refers to a high proportion of Film Australia output being for educational use and to the recent statistic identifying 18 new educational films in production at the one moment of time. It goes on to state that this sort of thing is happening in very few countries and Australia was singled out as a place of particular significance in this regard. This just would not have happened even three or four years ago. Only quite recently the Australian Opera in Sydney in its production of ‘Aida ‘ had a world-renowned success which would have seemed unbelievable a few years ago. In the area of the National Gallery I think we. are internationally and locally identified as a country which has adopted a mature and significant purchasing policy under the direction of an imaginative director.
– The Australian Ballet.
- Senator Devitt draws my attention to the Australian Ballet. I did not specifically single out the Ballet because it has been producing programs of quality for some years.
– For very many years in that case.
-Yes, but that is not a new and significant development in the same way as are these other things. The other area to which I refer relates to the development and growth of sponsorship of the arts by various State governments. That is a similarly significant development which 1 believe flows from the initiative of the Federal Government. The sorts of changes which have taken place are well illustrated by a comment which appeared in ‘Newsweek’ of 24 February this year. When referring to the possibility of an election in Australia the article stated:
The Whitlam government has also established itself as the country’s main patron of the arts. The Australian Council for the Arts will distribute about $30m this year in grants to Australian writers, musicians, painters and playwrights- and hundreds who had fled to the brighter lights of London and New York are returning home to take advantage of these subsidies. The government is also funding a variety of projects designed to heighten Australia’s sense of national identity.
I refer to that passage only because it indicates a quite converse position to the sorts of comments one received about the arts in Australia some 5 years or so ago. These changes are of significance and importance for Australians today and, more importantly, for future generations of Australians. Perhaps nothing is more significant than the passing of this legislation by this Parliament. The changes made in 1973 and 1974 were accompanied by a barrage of controversy and criticism about the functions, activities and personnel of the Australian Council for the Arts. These criticisms, like the product of that other source of Australian cultural activity the Carlton and United Brewery, can be divided into 2 categories- mild and bitter. They can be divided also into categories of legitimate criticism and illegitimate criticism. I think that some of these criticisms were well enumerated in an article by Dr Stephen Murray-Smith in an editorial of Overland’ last year. As a general observation about the activities of the Council for the Arts he made these comments:
Let it be said at once that the Whitlam regime has activated the whole field. A Council for the Arts has been established, some energy and initiative shown in bringing new names and talents forward in the Council and its subordinate boards, and the Government has vastly increased public spending in the arts field right across the board. Australian writers, painters, and what-have-you should be chartering coaches to Canberra to strew flowers in Mr Whitlam ‘s path. But, instead, and in the literary area in particular, clouds are gathering.
The clouds which, according to Dr MurraySmith, were gathering in 1973, in fact grew a bit darker as the debate about the role of the Council for the Arts went on. Indeed, in 1974 there was a very high degree of criticism and comment, but I think it is fair to say- and I think Senator Rae and others would agree with methat many of those dark clouds are now dispersing. There is a general recognition that in the administration of the arts there is such a sensitive area involved that in its attempts to get off the ground the Australia Council should be given that minimum requirement of Australian culture, namely, a fair go. I think that, feeling has been expressed much more frequently recently by various spokesmen on this subject. I believe that the situation was very well put in the House of Representatives debate by Mr Fisher, the Country Party member for Mallee, when he said this:
The Australian Council for the Arts must be given an opportunity to do those things set out in this Bill. Its validity, of course, will be able to be judged during its second term when such judgments can be based on performance and good faith. The administration can then be appraised objectively.
I think that is a very reasonable approach and a very proper approach to adopt towards the role of the Australia Council. As one who has publicly criticised aspects of this Bill may I urge all persons involved in the arts and in political debate about the arts to approach this legislation in that spirit. There will always be in this area of the arts considerable criticism, comment and vigorous discussion, and anyone with the well-being of the arts in Australia at heart would wish that to be so.
We are legislating with this Bill for one of the most articulate and individualistic sections of the Australian community. It is important, I believe, that we as members of the Parliament recognise that the Australia Council will be reporting yearly to the Parliament and will be subject to legislative oversight. Those criticisms of people involved in the arts will always be before us and I hope that there will always be differences of opinion. The honourable member for Chisholm (Mr Staley) in the House of Representatives, in making the same sort of point, referred to artists and politicians as prima donnas all. It is perhaps one of his less unfortunate analogies, although it may not be regarded as entirely flattering to artists. But the point he was trying to make was that it is an area of individualistic activity and one in which there is bound to be vigorous comment and dissension.
From what Senator Rae has said and from comments made elsewhere- in the House of Representatives and so on- there has been a basically bipartisan approach to the development of the Arts Council, and I think there is some degree of understanding that it must be regarded as an evolutionary process, that it should be above party politics as far as possible and according to certain agreed objectives. I think the idea of the statutory corporation base is fully accepted in all sections of the community. But in the light of that area of agreement and understanding I want to look very briefly at some of the criticisms which have been made, particularly during the year 1974 and indeed in the debate in the House of Representatives. The first and most obvious criticism, which has been reiterated here today by Senator Rae, is the question of the relationship between the boards and the Council for the Arts. Clause 7 provides that the Council may delegate its powers and functions and specific tasks and so on to the respective boards. For my own part, I should have preferred the emphasis to be the other way, namely, that the boards should be given some degree of autonomy by the statute, the right to veto being clearly established in the Council in relation to any initiative of a particular board. However, I do not think that this is a criticism of great validity at this stage. I think it is important to note that the boards arc represented on the Council by the chairman of each board and that they are in fact operating at this time with a considerable degree of autonomy in their respective areas. I further take the view that it must be accepted as a basic principle that the boards must be subject to the control and direction of the Council in some way, otherwise there can be no co-ordination in the endeavours of the various boards and they might indeed be working out of harmony with each other in terms of the development of a general artistic policy.
– The Council having a coordinating role?
– Yes, I appreciate that the Council has a co-ordinating role, but I still think it desirable that the Council should be structured as it is now. I have given a lot of thought to this question and 1 am not satisfied that the argument for greater autonomy of the boards is made out at this stage, although I agree that it is a matter that may well need review in further debate in the years to come.
The second main criticism which has been made, and made quite vigorously, is that relating to the personnel appointed to the Council and the boards. Some of this criticism I believe may have been justified, but of course it is an issue on which there can never be agreement. If there were agreement about who should be appointed to the Council for the Arts or the various boards I think it would be a very sad day for the cultural life of Australia. On the whole, there has been a significant array of expertise and talent appointed to the boards and I believe that adequate provision is made in the Bill for rotation of that personnel. It is nice to think that there could be some elected members of the boards and of the Council and I, with others, have given a lot of thought to this particular problem. But the real difficulty which arises in electing personnel to the boards or the Council itself would be that of defining the electorate, of defining who would vote for representatives on the boards and the Council. What would one have to do to qualify to be an elector? Would one have to be a practising artist? Would one have to be interested in the arts? What would one have to show? I think that so long as the Government acceptedly remains the patron of the arts it must play a significant role in appointments to these boards, and it is probably not possible to devise a system of election of some members of the boards.
– What about the States being represented?
-I will come to that in a minute. One would hope that in the future, particularly in making appointments to the various boards, the Government would give consideration to the appointment of a greater number of students. I refer, for example, to students of the film, to students involved in the visual arts. 1 am not suggesting that there should be a significant proportion of students on any of these boards, but I think it would be desirable if a number of students were appointed from time to time in these areas, because it is in these student areas that one gets perhaps the most innovative thought in relation to developing arts such as the visual arts and films.
There has also been criticism of the Executive Director of the Arts Council, and I want to say only this about that particular criticism. It has gone on for a very long time and on every occasion on which she has been exposed to public debate and criticism Dr Battersby has acquitted herself very well. I refer particularly to her performance as a witness before an Estimates Committee of this Senate. I refer likewise to her contribution to the Adelaide Seminar on Theatre Design in December last year, where she spoke, and was described by the ‘National Times’ as this much maligned executive officer of the Australian Council for the Arts’. All I would say about the role of the executive officers of the Australia Council, as well as the personnel of the boards, is that they should be given a fair go in this difficult period of developing an arts policy in Australia.
There has been some criticism of clause 9 (2). Some objection is taken to ‘persons associated with the arts’ being appointed to the boards. It is felt by many that those words should be amended to ‘persons involved in the arts’ or some expression of a similar kind. Senator Rae touched on this problem and expressed his concern, which I share, that a large number of practising artists should at all times be represented on the boards. However I think it is important to remember that the expression ‘associated with the arts’ is designed to cater for academics, critics and people of that kind who may be quite strongly involved in the arts and who could be important personnel on boards of this kind but who could not be said to be involved in the arts or caught up in the arts in the much closer way which is sometimes sought by critics of the legislation. We all share a concern that there should be representatives of practising artists and consumers strongly represented on the boards and on the Council.
References have been made to the importance of community involvement in the arts and I draw attention to the fact that the Council has already established a community arts fund and is moving quite strongly into this very difficult area of community involvement. It is not something which is susceptible to an easy solution but something which involves a number of problems of experimentation, innovation and so on which require some period of adjustment. That area of the activities of the Council is now being investigated thoroughly by the Council itself but we can expect no immediate results. I am asked by Senator Rae to comment on the question of direct State representation on the Australia Council. It is suggested that directors of the arts from each State should be voting members of the Council. That suggestion was made by Mr Garland in the House of Representatives when speaking on behalf of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Snedden). This is the most bizarre and Philistine suggestion which I have heard made about the Australia Council because it is ludicrous to think of the Council as being some kind of mini Premiers’ Conference in which there would be squabbling over the allocation of funds on a State basis. We are talking about something which involves Australia ‘s identity; we are talking about something which involves Australia’s image overseas, and these criteria are referred to in the legislation. We are talking about a maturity in cultural activity and so on. All these things surely cannot be considered on a State basis.
– I do not think that that was the object of Mr Snedden ‘s suggestion that they be approached from a State basis. It was rather that the States are involved in any event.
-I understand the Opposition’s sensitivity on this point but the fact of the matter is that the Council has the function of allocating funds and if there is direct State representation on the Council we will have the situation which has developed in all sorts of areas, and particularly in the Premiers’ Conferences, over the allocation of funds. We will have Mr Bjelke-Petersen sending his representative down and saying: ‘If I do not get so much for the arts we will not export any Queensland culture to Japan’. That is the sort of ludicrous situation we will get into if we have direct State representation on the Council. I say quite strongly that that sort of approach does not commend itself at all and seems to me to be a bizarre and Philistine suggestion.
On that point I draw the attention of the Senate to the fact that the functions of the Council include the encouragement and support of the arts by the States, local governing bodies and other persons and organisations, and there is nothing in the practice of the Australian Council for the Arts over the last year or two to suggest that that is not taking place. In fact there has been the highest degree of co-operation, and this suggestion, which is a sort of conditioned reflex of the Opposition to any legislation it considers, of putting representatives of the States on the Council is irrelevant and ludicrous. That is all I wish to say about the specific criticisms which have been made of the Australia Council.
I regard this as a very important and historic Bill. If I can do so without offending Senator Sir Magnus Cormack I would say that it represents a great leap forward in Australian national life. The Opposition is to be congratulated on the approach which it has adopted to the Bill. As we lay the foundation for the future development of the arts in Australia, one cannot underestimate the importance that this body might have in our national life. In these uncertain times I think we are all fairly certain of one thing, and that is in the future Australians will have more and more leisure time available to them. It is the hope of all of us that we will be able to use that leisure in a constructive and effective way which will help citizens of Australia fulfil themselves and create a wide range of options in their leisure activity. Perhaps in the future some of the money which we now seem to waste on universities may be more appropriately directed to a body such as the Australia Council because it will give by its activities a wider range of options to a greater number of Australian people. Each year a report will come before the Senate for debate and I hope that we can approach the reports in much the same way as we have approached this matter today, that is, on the basis of mutual good will for the future progress of the arts. The Bill indicates that the winds of change can blow away the most stagnant air and even affect the Opposition. I commend the Bill to the Senate.
– I likewise join with pleasure in supporting this Bill, the Australia Council Bill 1975. This Bill has been here for some considerable time and, like Senator Rae, I regret the delays which have taken place in proceeding with it. I am now thankful that it is at last before the Senate and I trust that it will today secure passage through the Senate. When I listened to Senator Button 1 heard what seemed to me to be a departure from the nonparty political attitude towards this Bill when he referred to the cultural dark ages of the 1960s. I subsequently realised that that was another of Senator Button ‘s throw-away phrases, to which he is so attracted, because he then said that over a period of time we in Australia have developed a greater interest in the arts and he acknowledged the fact that the Australian Council for the Arts was created by the previous LiberalCountry Party Government and that Mr Gorton played such an active role in its formation. Over a number of years there has been throughout the community a growing appreciation of the need to develop the arts and to subsidise and encourage artists and communities in the development of the arts. This is something which has been accepted by the people only in stages and even today we find that in the community there is a fair amount of criticism of the arts policy and its exploitation. 1 would like to say one other thing in respect of the general remarks made by Senator Button. In his criticism of the proposals that the State Directors of the Arts ought to be on the Council for the Arts he seemed to conclude immediately that this was merely something of a mini Premier’s Conference and that the State representatives would only be concerned in the allocation of funds. I suggest to him that the major point is this: One of the fears held throughout the community is that there may be a centralisation of the arts, that the Government may create a large bureaucracy, that it may provide for money to be dispensed from the centre and that there may be -
– It is a neurotic fear of your Party, that is all.
– No, it is not a neurotic fear of my Party. It is a desire by my Party to ensure that these criticisms will be met in advance and, in fact, that in the determination of policies there will be an involvement of people who are in the States greatly experienced in this field.
The honourable senator made one comment which I think was unfortunate. He said that it was the initiatives of this Government which created and developed the arts in the States. In fact, we all know that there has been a long period of trial and effort by the States. One has only to know of the Felton Bequest and the National Gallery formed and developed in earlier days in Victoria to know that there is a great history of development of the arts in the States. It does not all flow from Federal initiatives.
We on this side of the Senate favour the policy now announced of providing that there will be a non-political statutory corporation that will govern the development of the arts. It will be responsible to the Parliament. It will be examined in the committees of the Parliament. It will report. Of course, there must be safeguards to ensure that the very substantial amounts of money that will be spent by the Council will be spent wisely and will be subject to public scrutiny. It is important that there should be a nonparty political approach to this matter and to the use and payment of moneys for the arts. It is a sensitive area. It is an area in which people can sometimes be very embittered by the failure to obtain grants. It should not be the responsibility of the politicians of this country to have to interfere and determine whether justice has been done. Those matters of artistic judgment should be made by those people who are experienced in the arts. Of course, the provision of moneys and the proper expenditure of those moneys are matters which the Parliament must continue to scrutinise carefully.
It has been said correctly that there has been a great increase in the amount spent on the arts in recent years. This has led to problems which we all recognise and which have been discussed by Dr Jean Battersby who was mentioned by Senator Button. I join with him in commending the way in which Dr Battersby has stood up to criticism which on many occasions I think has been unwise and unjust. Dr Battersby gave evidence before a Senate Estimates Committee. She answered in a highly satisfactory fashion the questions put to her. I believe that she has acted in a most creditable way in the early development of the Council. At the height of the controversy last year she is reported in the ‘Australian’ newspaper of 5 September 1 974 as follows:
At the beginning when we suddenly had a large amount of money to administer and we hardly had any staff at all we had to scout around and get any sort of reasonable help we could raise to get things moving, ‘ she said. lt was important that donations to the arts and assistance to artists should be not delayed by bureaucratic hold-ups. The Council itself had difficulty in acquiring temporary staff and in obtaining the help of people who could make the determinations as to what grants could be provided. We have to recognise that there were difficulties in the early period of this Council. There will continue to be difficulties but one would expect, that by the formation of the statutory body the position will be improved.
Senator Button has said that this is an interest in the arts which goes beyond party politics. We in the Liberal Party describe in our Party platform the various matters which we feel should be covered by assistance to the arts in these words:
Assistance to the Arts should aim to:
allow Australians to enjoy the highest quality achievement in the Arts;
ensure that talented artists are encouraged to live and work in Australia;
provide belter cultural facilities for the community and open access to the art and cultural assets of the nation;
promote Australian artists and art forms in other countries and the development, in Australia, of appreciation of the cultural and artistic heritage of other peoples.
Our Liberal Party platform, which crystallises the thinking which has developed in the Liberal Party over many years, sets out the same sort of objectives which are now found in clause 5 of the Bill and which I commend to the Senate.
I wish to deal with some of the criticisms which have been made not only in this debate and the debate in the House of Representatives but also, and more basically, within the community. I have said already that there are people who wish to obtain a grant and are met with a refusal and are disgruntled. Therefore, many of the criticisms at times have to be judged in that light. On the other hand, criticisms on the ground that the expenditure of the Council which has increased very rapidly to $20m a year are criticisms which are not founded on an accurate base. It is true that the development has been very quick. But at the same time it is a small amount of money when one considers the expenditure in other areas and considers the recognised need now to develop the cultural assets of this country, to preserve the assets of this country and, most importantly, to develop the interest which the community can develop in arts and culture. It should not be an elitist interest. Primarily the interest should be widened to cover all the people in our community and particularly in areas where there is cultural deprivation and a lack of appreciation at the present time in the arts and culture of Australia.
Criticism has been made of the membership of the Council and the Boards. This has been referred to by earlier speakers in the debate. I would like to say, in this regard, that 1 think the criticisms are justified and that some changes ought to be contemplated. These organisational problems can be observed in the running of the Australia Council and the changes can be made at a later stage.
I refer to an interesting article which appeared in the ‘Age’ newspaper last year. It was written by Professor Bernard Smith, Professor of Contemporary Art and Director of the Power Institute of Fine Arts at the University of Sydney. He made these remarks concerning some aspects of the Bill:
The Australia Council Bill now before Parliament provides inadequate safeguards against bureaucratic power. Although it provides for limited appointments of all members who ‘practise the arts or are associated with the arts’, the three Public Service appointees are to remain during “the pleasure of the Governor-General’. Vice-Regal pleasures sometimes last too long. There is surely good reason Ibr limiting appointments of Public Servants also. They, too, are capable of perpetuating entrenched interests and are in a better position to do so.
I do not think that this aspect has been criticised previously in the debate. 1 feel that it is an important aspect. It is important that we should not have, on the Council and the Boards, members who are there for too long. The provisions in the Bill for rotation of members are excellent ones. The suggestion for the election of the chairmen of the Boards is important. Under the Bill they will be appointed not only for their term of membership but also it will be within the power of the Government to determine who will be the chairmen of the boards.
We have to face this question of excessive bureaucratic power in such an organisation. I believe that this is one aspect which may require some amendment after the Bill has been in operation for some time. One has to worry about the possibility of elitism that can develop in an organisation such as this, and the fact that the organisation itself is not designed and does not operate merely to assist existing artists and existing forms of art. Instead the organisation can develop new forms of art. There should be a readiness and openness of mind on the part of the Council and the boards when they come to allocate the funds. One would hope to see in the community a greater development of the arts for those who are impoverished in an artistic sense at the moment. One would want to see also new audiences- people who have not previously had association with the arts. One would hope that these developments would remove the risk of elitism in regard to this Bill
One of the criticisms that has been made of this Bill is the fear of centralisation and the fear that the community might not be sufficiently involved in the Australia Council. I believe that centralisation is a danger with any organisation that has settled with its headquarters in one place. 1 have had the opportunity of visiting the headquarters of the Australian Council for the Arts, of meeting the members of the Boards and seeing the operations. I am certainly impressed with the enthusiasm and devotion to their jobs of the people who are working there. Nonetheless, there is always a possibility that in the remote areas there will not be sufficient development of the arts. 1 think this situation must be watched.
I commend the Bill. I believe that it is not a perfect Bill and that it will probably later require later amendment. I believe we are entering a new era of the arts in which in this country we can see developing a much greater appreciation of our cultural assets and a much better opportunity for the people of the community, who have now more leisure, to enjoy that leisure in the field of the arts. Therefore, I commend the Bill to the Senate and hope that it will be passed.
– The Senate has been debating the Australia Council Bill which seeks to establish a statutory authority to develop the arts in Australia in a quite large number of areas which I do not need to enumerate. Some valid points have been made during the debate. I am quite sure that the Government would not claim, in view of the almost embryonic nature of the work that has been done, that the legislation will be found to be perfect. It is true that steps were taken under the previous Administration to encourage the development of the arts but under the present Government there has been a quite dramatic increase in encouragement during the last 2 years. We find in fact that there has been a threefold increase in expenditure for the support of the arts in this country. Nevertheless, as time goes by I am sure that whatever deficiencies may exist in this legislation and the administration of the Council will be attended to.
I think Senator Missen made the point that there is still a considerable amount of criticism in the community about the degree of support that has been given to cultural pursuits in Australia. Yet, as was pointed out by Senator Button in one of his quotations, it is quite obvious that Australia is now recognised as a country which is placing the arts on a firm basis. If we look back through history we find that so much of the great work in culture was done under the patronage of the Church, in the time of the Renaissance, and under the patronage of wealthy individuals and wealthy families. But for that patronage many of the great artists of the past would not have been able to devote the time that they did devote to creating the tremendous cultural heritage which we now enjoy. Because of the changing nature of Western societies during the centuries it is necessary now for governments to play a much greater role in patronising the arts as individuals now play the role of patron to a much lesser extent than they did in days gone by. It is interesting to consider that even in modern times great works such as Benjamin Britten’s ‘War Requiem’ were composed because they were commissioned by a patron at the time. This applies to many of the early works of great composers and great painters of the past. So it is quite justifiable for a government consciously to involve itself in patronage of the arts.
I believe that one of the great developments is that at least the Government and the Opposition agree in broad principle that this should be done, even though there may be some minor change or minor differences in the manner in which it should be done. On of the benefits of this is that we in Australia are seeing now more and more the return to this country of some of our great artists, such as Joan Sutherland and Roger Woodward, who normally would not have remained in this country. Reference was made to the recent performance of ‘Aida’ in Sydney. It is true to say that only three or four years ago no one could have imagined that a performance of an opera of that magnitude and that quality would have been seen in this country because of the difficulties which have obtained in recent years in the development of the live arts.
– There were no elephants. There are supposed to be elephants in ‘Aida ‘.
– Elephants are only a part of that opera but the very magnitude of putting on an opera of any discription requires a great deal of money and many competent people. I believe that the fact that we can do these things today in this country is indicative of the enormous strides that we have made. It is important that the Parliament supports the work that is being done.
I think mention should be made also of the amount of assistance that has been given in the last year or two to various sections of the artistic community. The number of grants that have been made to painters and sculptors by the Visual Arts Board has more than doubled in the last year to a total of 327 in 1974. In the crafts field the increase in the last 5 years was just as spectacular. The Music Board continues to maintain a high level of activity in Australian opera and in the Elizabethan Trust orchestras. The Literature Board has so far awarded 235 fellowships compared with the 207 fellowships that were awarded by the Commonwealth Literary Fund in the 33 years from 1939 to 1972. In 1974, 365 Film and Television Board grants were given which is more than twice the number that was awarded in the previous year. I could continue to quote the statistics for other areas of Australian cultural activity to demonstrate the enormous impetus that has been given to the live arts in this country.
During the debate there was some criticism of the involvement of what is generally known as the consumer. I have a strong conviction that in this area of artistic development one must involve those who are not necessarily professionally involved. The professional tends to be emotionally involved and time may prove that one of the shortcomings of the present structure of the Council is that there is not sufficient scope or flexibility under the proposed Act to provide an involvement for ordinary people who have an interest in this area and who may wish to be involved. Time may prove otherwise but I hope- I am sure that the Council will be mindful of this fact- that it is not only the professional who has something to contribute in this area but also many other people in the community. In handling this Bill on behalf of the Government I should like to say that I am pleased the Opposition is supporting it. I believe it is a step in the right direction for all cultural activity in Australia and something from which the Australian community will benefit in the years ahead.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Consideration resumed from 22 October 1 974.
– The last time the Senate was dealing with this Bill was on 22 October 1974. During the second reading stage the Minister in charge of the Bill, the then Senator Murphy, sought an adjournment of the debate saying that a certain matter had arisen since the Bill was introduced into the Senate and that the Minister for Manufacturing Industry, Mr Kep Enderby, was looking at the matter. I interjected and asked: ‘In relation to what?’ The Minister replied:
In relation to the application of the bounty. The Minister for Manufacturing Industry wants a day or two to consider this matter.
Since then I had not heard anything further about the Bill until I had a discussion yesterday with the Minister for Manufacturing Industry (Senator James McClelland) who is now in charge of the Bill. One matter has arisen since the chamber was last discussing the Bill. The new circumstances that have arisen make it necessary, in the view of the Opposition, for the bounty to be extended to the type of books referred to in proposed new section 3A(d)- that is, law reports. This matter is not new. Law reports, at times over the years, have been covered by the provisions of this legislation. I believe that the section which deals with law reports has a genuine case for a bounty because at present it is being threatened with unexpected and sudden price rises.
I am informed that the Department of Manufacturing Industry opposed the resumption of the bounty on law reports on the principal ground that there was little risk of Australian law reports being printed overseas. This was despite a recommendation by the Tariff Board, following an inquiry, that the bounty be re-allowed. There was some justification for the stand taken by the Department. One of the permanent law companiesthere may have been others- conceded to the Tariff Board that law reports were unlikely to be printed overseas. But that situation has changed as a result of rapid and steep rises in printing and paper costs in Australia. 1 have before me some details of those costs which I will outline to the Senate. A law book company in Sydney obtained overseas quotations for the type setting and printing of several series of law reports. The outcome is that 3 such series are now being type set, printed and covered in Hong Kong. In one instance the Hong Kong quotation was $A 1,893 compared with a quotation of $3,505 by a Sydney firm. In another case the Hong Kong quotation was $A2,906 and the Sydney firm, which normally prints the particular report, quoted $4,422. I am informed that the quality and performance of the Hong Kong company are as good as those obtainable in Australia. The same law book company has 8 legal text books being printed in Hong Kong and one legal text book being printed in Tokyo.
I have no doubt that the Government recently has been made fully aware of the difficulties facing this section of the publishing industry. It is obvious that without the bounty an increasing volume of printing work of books covered by proposed new section 3a will be placed overseas. I do not think that that situation should be allowed to continue. The Opposition believes that it should move an amendment to include this group of companies in the bounty. However, I well understand the Government’s situation. It has a special committee looking into this matter. The committee has not made a report and I think it would be foolish for the Opposition to try to include this group of companies in the bounty pending a report by this important committee. I should like to hear what the Minister has to say in regard to the comments I have offered. Perhaps the Minister will give an undertaking that following the publication of the Committee’s report or information being made public about the report the Government will consider reintroducing the Bill into the chamber so that amendments can be made to include the companies about which I have been talking. In the meantime I feel that the Opposition should pass this Bill on the understanding that it will be brought back at a later date so that it can be amended.
– I appreciate the reasonable attitude taken by Senator Drake-Brockman especially in view of the long period that has elapsed since the consideration of this Bill was adjourned on the application of the then Senator Murphy who was then Attorney-General and had the carriage of the Bill. I shall outline what has transpired since then. The reason the then Senator Murphy sought the adjournment of this matter was that he had become convinced that the Bill should be. amended so that the bounty could be paid in respect of books produced by the Australian Government Printer or State government printers. In fact he made a recommendation to that effect to Cabinet. When the matter was opened up to that extent it was also suggested, as has been put by Senator DrakeBrockman today, that the criterion of entitlement to the bounty should be amended to make certain legal publications eligible for the bounty. The matter was then submitted to a committee which is known by the abbreviation SIDCAI, which are the initials for the Special InterDepartmental Committee on Assistance to
Industry. This Committee considered whether the bounty should be extended to Government Printers, legal publications, loose-leaf additional pages and workshop manuals.
It met and submitted a draft report to Cabinet on 12 February 1975. It made certain recommendations. This report is before Cabinet but has not yet been considered by Cabinet. One of the recommendations of SIDCAI was that the current Bill be proceeded with immediately. The reason is that the Bill authorises payment of an increased rate of bounty, from 2 5 per cent to 3 3 V4 percent, from 17 December 1973. That has been frozen because the Bill has not been passed. The industry has to a large extent carried the additional financial commitment. So it was thought by SIDCAI and by the Government that pending consideration of these proposed amendments the Bill should be carried in its present form. I am prepared to give an undertaking that if the Senate passes the Bill in its present form amendments to the Bill will be introduced as soon as Cabinet has had an opportunity to consider the SIDCAI report. If these amendments, which will be introduced by the Government, do not satisfy the Opposition’s wishes, it will have an opportunity to move any further amendments which may commend themselves to it.
– I would like to know from the Minister for Manufacturing Industry (Senator James McClelland) the basis on which the Special Interdepartmental Committee on Assistance to Industry will be considering the matter. I would like to know what puts law reports into a special category and the considerations which the Committee will bring to the decision on the matter. I rise because of one aspect of the Bill. It will be remembered that when the Book Bounty Bill was introduced the bounty was to apply only to books of a literary or educational nature. By a process of attrition and, I think, some erroneous legal advice, the bounty was extended to books if they existed in print or letters. The word ‘literary’ was given a meaning that did not indicate any literary quality or did not pertain to literature. It was given a meaning of something which could be read. That was a way of introducing smutty print and pornographic stuff into bountiable material.
The words in section 3a of the Act are being excised by the Bill. There is no longer even that eroded safeguard. What is relied upon for the safeguard of some merit in the book which is being accorded bounty is section 8 of the original Act which provides that bounty shall not be payable upon any book if the printing or publishing of the book by a person or the sending by a person of the book through the post constitutes or would constitute an offence by the person against the law of the Commonwealth. One of the amendments in the Bill seeks to alter that wording to read ‘an offence by the person against the law of Australia or of a Territory’. I am mystified and cannot understand why it is proposed that we pay bounty on a book, the printing or publishing of which is contrary to the law of a State. It will be remembered that in respect of some of these publications it was said that by reason of air transportation today books could escape Customs and get into the country. One copy could turn up in Melbourne and be printed. Therefore it could escape the Customs (Prohibited Imports) Regulations, which prohibit the importation into Australia of goods which are blasphemous, indecent or obscene or which unduly emphasise matters of sex, horror, violence or crime or which are likely to encourage depravity. I think some people were considering in due course whether the case that I put was properly considered as excluded from the prohibition of imports.
I do not go into that matter now, except to ask the Minister to tell me in reply whether he is satisfied that the operation of section 8 of the Act will prevent bounty from being paid on books the importation of which is forbidden. Section 8 denies bounty on a book the printing or publishing of which is contrary to the law of the Commonwealth. The amendment seeks to alter the wording to ‘law of Australia or of a Territory’. It raises in my mind the query whether we will have to pay bounty on a book which is imported contrary to Commonwealth law- contrary to the prohibited imports regulations- but in respect of which there is no Commonwealth law prohibiting its printing or publishing. That is my first concern. My major concern, in respect of which I have drafted an amendment, is to prevent bounty from being payable on any book the printing or publishing of which is contrary to State law. The States have an original and fundamental interest in the quality of books which are printed or published in the States. I would have thought that it was the height of absurdity to propose that the Commonwealth pay bounty on a book the printing or publishing of which contravenes a State law. So I am concerned about those 2 aspects.
Clause 7 proposes to amend section 8 by omitting the words ‘law of the Commonwealth’ and substituting the words ‘law of Australia or of a Territory’. I seek to add certain words. The relevant part of section 8 would then read ‘law of
Australia or of a State or of a Territory’. Clause 7 reads:
Section 8 of the principal Act is amended by omitting the words ‘law of the Commonwealth’ and substituting the words ‘law of Australia or of a Territory ‘.
– I support Senator Drake-Brockman ‘s views. I have been concerned about aspects of this legislation. I have raised them with the previous Minister for Manufacturing Industry. I believe that as a result of the representations of Senator DrakeBrockman, Senator Murphy and myself we find ourselves in the position in which we are today. Like Senator Drake-Brockman, I hope that the Special Interdepartmental Committee on Assistance to Industry will soon give Cabinet some lead as to what should be done in relation to this legislation. I am not being political but what Senator Wright complained of occurred under legislation introduced by the Opposition Parties when in office. Bounty was paid for ‘The Little Red Schoolbook’. Honourable senators will recall the controversy surrounding the publication of ‘The Little Red Schoolbook’. I repeat that I do not raise this matter politically.
As I understand the thoughts of the Opposition on this matter difficulties will arise because the Opposition says that if a State thinks that a book should be prohibited from publication in a State the bounty should not be paid. Again consider the classic example of the ‘The Little Red Schoolbook’. To my knowledge, although I could be wrong, the Literature Board of Review in Queensland banned that book. That was the only State, I believe, which took that action. If Senator Wright’s thoughts are correct, the bounty would not be paid because one State had said that publication of the book was illegal. I do not think that could happen under federal law. I respect what Senator Wright said in this direction.
Previously I have expressed my view that this legislation should be examined by a joint committee or a Senate committee; I do not care which. I think all sides agree that the industry must be protected against the inroads of printing from overseas. We all share that point of view, but there are different ways of approaching the matter. In my view this is the wrong way to approach it. In effect the Australian taxpayers are paying money to people to keep printing in Australia. I think the situation should be the reverse and that we should be penalising people who send their printing outside Australia. We should make them pay. There may be some law against that, I do not know, but I believe it is worth investigating. I submit that that would be an ideal way, on a non-political basis, of improving this legislation. If an all-party committee were set up- I do not care whether it is a joint committee or a Senate committee- we could come up with something which would be infinitely better than what is before us today.
Consider the situation of legal documents which under this legislation will not attract the bounty. What is going to happen? Those documents will be sent to Singapore or some other country. The object of the Bill is to stop work going outside Australia but in the case to which I have referred it will almost force a company to send its printing outside Australia. That is not the object of the legislation. There are many factors associated with this matter. Perhaps Senator Wright is 1 00 per cent correct in what he said but I believe you cannot determine that matter at this time. There are so many aspects to be determined, such as the legality of whether we have any right to stop work coming in from overseas and whether we have right to stop work going overseas from Australia. I do not know. The legal fraternity might be able to tell me but I believe it would be a far more satisfactory situation if we had a joint committee which could call evidence about these matters. I believe that we would come up with a far more satisfactory piece of legislation.
– The Government does not accept Senator Wright’s amendment for what seem to me to be very obvious reasons. If we accepted the amendment it would have the effect that a Philistine government or a government completely out of touch with the cultural and moral standards of the community- I instance the case of the Premier of Queensland- in fact could pass laws which would make it impossible to pay bounties. Such a government might even set out deliberately to achieve such an end. It is not beyond belief that a man of the primitive outlook of Mr Bjelke-Petersen -
The CHAIRMAN (Senator Webster)Order! I do not think the honourable senator should reflect on the Premier of Queensland and I ask him to withdraw the remark.
– I withdraw the remark. It is not unknown in this community that there are people so out of touch with the standards and tastes of the community at large that they might even believe that the payment of a book bounty is in itself something evil.
For that reason the Government does not accept Senator Wright’s amendment. Referring to the other question raised by him relating to the basis of bounty which might be extended to legal publications, I do not know the contents of the report put in by the Committee to Cabinet. All I know is that it recommends some amendments to alter the criteria for the payment of bounty. I have not read the report and I do not know the Committee’s recommendations. Therefore I cannot give Senator Wright an answer as to the basis on which any of the Committee’s recommendations are made.
I understood from my conversations with Senator Drake-Brockman, who has the carriage of this Bill for the Opposition, that the Opposition’s objections were limited to a desire to have the bounty extended to extra categories of books. I have given an undertaking that amendments will be introduced by the Government. If those amendments do not satisfy the Opposition it will have the opportunity of moving further amendments. That situation applies to the objection taken by Senator Milliner. If, when the matter is being considered again- I anticipate that this will be in the very near future- he believes that the problem is of such complexity that it should be referred, for example, to the Senate Standing Committee on Constitutional and Legal Affairs, it would be quite open to him or to any other honourable senator so to recommend. If that proposition commended itself to the Senate there would be an opportunity for a committee of that nature to consider the matters he raised.
– The Opposition accepts the undertaking given by the Minister for Manufacturing Industry (Senator James McClelland). We recognise that the bounty has been outstanding since December 1973. It was frozen, as the Minister said. We believe that payment of the bounty to the people to whom it is to go should be made as promptly as possible. We have some concern about the Bill but now that the Minister has given us his undertaking that satisfies the Opposition’s concern.
-There are 2 or 3 things I would like to say about the matters I put to the Minister for Manufacturing Industry (Senator James McClelland). The Minister omitted to refer in any way to the query I raised as to whether clause 8 denies bounty to a book which has been illegally imported contrary to the Customs (Prohibited Imports) Regulations and in respect of which Commonwealth or
Territory law prohibits printing or publishing. That is a very important matter. If my anxiety is justified, it is absurd that we should pay bounty upon a book the importation of which is prohibited. Under clause 8 bounty is denied only to a book the publishing and printing of which, or the passage through the Post Office of which, is contrary to Commonwealth law.
The second matter to which I want to refer is the one raised by Senator Milliner. In that respect my attention has been drawn to page 1876 of today’s Senate notice paper. There it is recorded that on 1 1 December last there was referred to the Senate Standing Committee on Finance and Government Operations the subject the nature and extent of Australian Government assistance to industry’. Under that I believe the Committee could immediately be probing the matter from the point of view of expressing an opinion upon the appropriateness of this Bill.
The third matter is one of slight protest. At this ebbing hour of the afternoon I am not disposed to generate heat but, when the Minister comes so avidly to the hook and exposes his real objection to having the States included in clause 8, 1 want to direct the attention of every member of the Senate, but particularly those who sit on the Opposition side and in the section approaching the aisle, to this proposition: If it is really intelligent to suggest that a State parliament cannot be trusted to express in its legislation the appropriate standards of books, the printing or publishing of which is prohibited, then I think we ought to take some sort of a stand against the superior ego of the Commonwealth Government which was being paraded in the debate on the Australia Council Bill a while ago. I nearly rose in Committee solely to put Nero’s dying words on record: ‘Qualis artifex pereo ‘- What an artist dies with me! The idea that the Australian Government is an exponent or illustration of superior standards and that the State governments are to be deprecated in the way in which the Minister deprecated them before his call to order is something we ought to be very reluctant to accept. Without pressing the matter any further just at the moment, I will see whether or not any interest has been evoked on this side of the chamber in the protest which I make about that ground for refuting my amendment, that is to say, that places like Queensland and parliaments like the Parliament of Queensland may prescribe a level of prohibition that we should overrule and give bounty to. I think it is an impossible situation.
– I think it is quite incomprehensible that the Minister for Manufacturing Industry (Senator James McCelland) should suggest that an elected government of a State should not be trusted. He implied that we should ignore the attitudes of the government of a State that has the backing of the people of that State and override what determinations may be made at law in respect of the travel through the Post Offices of certain books which are not in accord with the law as set down in that State. The Minister does himself a great disservice if the basis of his opposition to Senator Wright’s amendment is purely one of judgment in his own mind of what is right and what is wrong. If he says that we should supersede the powers and authorities of States then I say it is a very poor show indeed. I do not want to see subsidised any book which is not in accord with the laws of the States or the Commonwealth. I do not want to see open slather in a situation like this. I admire Senator Wright’s calm and cool in his utterances. As I say, it is incomprehensible that credence is not given to his very temperate attitude in this whole matter. I support Senator Wright ‘s attitude in the whole matter.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill (on motion by Senator James McClelland) read a third time.
Debate resumed from 25 February on motion by Senator Wriedt:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– This is a Bill which seeks to appropriate $20m to augment the resources of the Commonwealth Bank for it to broaden its lending to seriously affected beef producers. The money is to be loaned to the Bank by the Government under certain terms and conditions which will be agreed to between the Treasurer (Dr J. F. Cairns) and the Board of the Commonwealth Banking Corporation. The Opposition does not oppose the measure. Indeed, it supports it. The Commonwealth Bank has 3 sections of activitythe Commonwealth Trading Bank, the Commonwealth Savings Bank and the Commonwealth Development Bank. I think it could be useful just to look at some of the functions of the
Bank as set out in its report and at its current balance sheet and make one or two observations. The Development Bank in 1973-74 provided a total, which was a record, of $ 107.1m, $66m being loans, and $41m being for hire purchase instalments and financing for farm and industrial equipment. So $20m of extra lending is certainly a fair amount of money for the Bank to commit itself for in a special beef support program. On that basis I can quite clearly understand why it has had to come to the Government.
The charter and functions of the Bank are clearly expressed. It is to provide finance that is not otherwise available on reasonable and suitable terms and conditions. It supplements but does not compete with other sources of finance. It is primarily concerned with the prospects of an enterprise becoming or continuing to be successful. It does not necessarily have to have regard to the value of the security that is available. During the year of this report, which is the year ended June 1974, it is mentioned that the Australian Government augmented the Bank’s resources with loan funds of $20m to facilitate its activities in the widened areas of lending
When you turn to the balance sheet on pages 32 and 33 of the same report it is very difficult to find where the $20m referred to in the outline of the Bank ‘s activities shows up in its program, because in no way is it specified in its capital, which is the same as the previous year, and its Development Bank reserve fund has expanded only slightly and there is an item called ‘balance due to other banks’. I do not quite see where the amount finishes there. There is another item relating to deposits and bills payable. I make the observation that for the sake of clarity I hope the Treasury, in due course, might care to give a little more elucidation of what happened to the $20m which the Government gave to the Bank during the year. Where is it to be found in the accounts? Perhaps that information might be furnished to me in a suitable letter.
When we look at the Bank we find that its capital is $61m. My general view, although it does not provide me with any ground to amend the Bill or to change it. is to suggest to the Government that, having regard to what the bank seeks to do, there is a fairly solid case for expanding the capital of the bank. I suggest the Government should do that rather than lend the bank money from time to time. The Bank ought to be capable of servicing the capital. Obviously, from last year’s report it had need of $20m capital and the current appropriation being provided is $20m. I think that is something which the Minister for Agriculture (Senator Wriedt) might take into account when he reports back, as no doubt he will, to his appropriate counterpart in the other place.
It has been mentioned that the liquidity of the Bank has expanded during the last 9 months. The expansion began slowly in September and reached a fairly massive velocity in the early part of this year. The Government has not only increased the Banks total liquidity by expanding the Bank’s money supply fairly heavily, it has also requested the trading banks to increase their rate of lending. Trading banks normally now would be in a position to meet demands from beef producers who are able to fulfil the normal commercial criteria. But I think that all of us who are familiar with the industry are under no doubt at all about the special circumstances which have affected the beef industry. We have all heard reports about people’s cash flow in many cases being down something like 4 times, of prices being down something like four or five times and the industry, in many cases, being in quite a distressed position. There is no doubt at all that the Government is wise to support the industry and to endeavour to keep it viable and active. The $20m to be provided to the Development Bank as a special loan by the Government is to do exactly that. This money is to be available for those people who cannot get finance elsewhere, who cannot meet the normal commercial lending criteria but who are judged to be worthy of support in carrying on their business and, in due course, of reviving their position.
The money is to be lent on the basis of medium or long term loans providing that people who borrow are wholly or largely deriving their income from cattle. They are to be shown as capable operators, viable and able to carry on. They are to have the prospect of, in due course, becoming successful. In the eyes of the Bank and the Government that is more important than security. I share that view. It is based on a statement made by the Minister and then Treasurer on 4 December 1974 that the Bank would help and that the Government would help the Bank. On the undertaking given on 4 December the Bank has already approved loans to the value of $2.4m. Most of this money has gone to the eastern States. The largest borrower has been Queensland which is to be expected because that is the State with the largest cattle population. The Bank has assisted in other ways to the extent of about an extra $1.5m. It has also deferred loan repayments of $800,000. So I believe that the Bank has done what is could within the limits of its funds- about which I have spoken- to help the industry.
As I said earlier, the Opposition supports this Bill. It believes the Government is wise to give the Bank further funds to help those who should be helped. We believe it could be wise to look at the Bank’s program and to expand its capital particularly, as can be seen from its accounts, the Bank is expanding. This is one of the measures the Government has taken which is designed to help the beef producers. Other measures are designed to try to involve producers in more detail in market negotiations, to open up new markets and, in that context, one might observe in passing that one of the main needs of the beef industry is to have access to better market intelligence than appears to have been the case in the past. Those of use who have followed the industry over the years have been reading market intelligence which purports to be accurate but which, in many cases, has proved to be distressingly wrong. I think that is a critical factor. I would like to see an expansion of the market intelligence for the industry and, indeed, for all industries in Australia to have better levels of and more reliable information.
The Government states that the beef situation is under total scrutiny. That is to be expected. One reads in the newspapers, but not necessarily accurately, that there is the prospect that a stabilising fund will be set up. This is part of a general story relating to support of $3m which was made available to the Australian Meat Board to give a better price level for the recent contract negotiated with the Soviet Union. I do not know whether we will see that stabilising fund. The Minister, in his reply, may care to tell us something more about that if he can do so. It is clear to me that there are problems here in regard to the negotiations which will take place at the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade meeting. The Government may want to be a little careful about what it says. If it is that way inclined I will understand. But in the context of the support program scheme there is a suggestion of walking slightly around some of the divisions of GATT. So that is really a matter for the Minister to deal with. I hope he can illuminate this scene a little more. As I have stated, if he is unable to do so we will regard that as a privilege he can maintain for a period. I hope that later more information will be made available in relation to further beef support, schemes or stabilisation schemes which might came before the Senate. They are quite important factors for most honourable senators in their dealings with the people in various parts of Australia to whom they have to respond.
In general I make some observations about the beef industry which I believe has a very solid future. I know that at the present time it is going through a period of extreme difficulty. But the beef industry is characterised by a marked cyclical pattern. I believe that at present it is at the bottom of one of its cyclical depressions. It is my view, for what it is worth, that the industry will not only revive but it will also continue to grow and expand. This may take a few years but I believe that fundamentally the industry is sound. It is an industry which ought to be supported by any government and any good government proposal should be supported by any opposition. The world is notably deficient in protein. Beef is a source of protein. It is something which Australia ought to be able to produce and to supply to the rest of the world where we hope we will see expanding living standards, better opportunities and better diets for many people. I believe we are beginning to see some prospect of a world recovery although it may be delayed and a little way off. There is some evidence that sanity is returning to the general international economic scene, although slowly. If this is the case then recovery in the beef market will be a natural consequence.
Australia has an efficient beef industry. In general its livestock is of a high order of quality. People in this country, in practically all of the States with which we are familiar, have produced high quality animals and they are continually improving. Most honourable senators will be familiar with stud breeding in the cattle world and, in their own lifetime, will have seen the massive increase in the performance and ability of the livestock which is available in the Australian cattle industry for ranges of climate and purpose. Honourable senators will also have seen the remarkable expansion of the Australian grasslands, particularly in the eastern States where the ability to feed cattle well, in the temperate climate, in the tropical north and in the wet north has been markedly expanded. I think that on world tests Australia because of its grasslands, both natural and improved, and because of the management capacity of its operators and breeders has demonstrated that it can produce cattle extremely well, very cheaply and very efficiently. Therefore the Opposition believes the industry has a solid future. We understand the tremendous difficulties and depression which it is in at the present time. We believe that because of the opportunities which lie ahead any measures to support the industry, to hold it up while it gets back on its feet are worthy of support. That is why the Opposition does not oppose the measure.
- Mr President. I seek leave to continue my remarks at a later stage.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Sitting suspended from 5.44 to 8 p.m.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Ordered that the Bill may be taken through all its stages without delay.
Bill (on motion by Senator Wheeldon) read a first time.
That the Bill be now read a second time.
I seek leave to incorporate my second reading speech in Hansard.
-Is leave granted? There being no dissent, leave is granted. (The speech read as follows)-
The Bill before the Senate provides for the removal or reduction of the waiting periods that must be served by 2 classes of new contributors to health benefits funds before they become eligible for fund benefits. The classes of contributors are pregnant women and uninsured people who become recipients of unemployment, sickness or special benefits paid by the Department of Social Security. At the present time a woman who becomes a contributor to a medical or hospital benefits fund when pregnant is not entitled to benefits in respect of fees incurred in connection with the pregnancy. This results from exclusion rules applied by private health benefits organizations. Those who have been deprived of these benefits have suffered anxiety and financial hardship. Therefore I find it necessary for the Government to provide for the payment of the benefits in the Bill.
The Bill enables a health benefits organisation which is already operating a special account to transfer to that account a pregnant woman who becomes a contributor to the fund. The contributor will then be eligible for benefits, both Australian Government and fund, after serving the normal 2 months waiting period required for new contributors. The use of the special account in these circumstances will mean that the Australian Government will be required to meet almost the entire cost of the benefits paid. Although the increase in cost to the Australian Government will be minimal in view of the small number of persons involved, the payment of benefits will lift a great burden from the individuals concerned.
I shall turn now to the group of uninsured people who become recipients of unemployment, sickness or special benefits paid by the Department of Social Security. The National Health Act at present provides that these people must generally serve a waiting period of 2 weeks from the time they become unemployed or incapacitated before they are eligible for medical and hospital benefits under the subsidised health benefits plan. The requirement to serve this waiting period means that in many cases people are deprived of benefits at times when they are incurring heavy medical and hospital fees and are least able to meet such expenses. The Bill before the Senate provides for the abolition of this iniquitous waiting period which was introduced by the previous Government. The Government sees the provisions in the Bill as eliminating two of the areas where the failure to pay benefits under the present scheme is most inequitable and unjustifiable. However, these provisions are only interim measures pending the full introduction of Medibank. The present scheme is so inadequate, inequitable and costly that any attempt to merely further modify it would represent a commitment to futility and extravagance. Mr President, I commend the Bill to the Senate.
Debate (on motion by Senator Guilfoyle) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Ordered that the Bill may be taken through all its stages without delay.
Bill (on motion by Senator Wheeldon) read a first time.
– I move:
I seek leave to incorporate my second reading speech in Hansard.
-Is leave granted? There being no dissent, leave is granted. (The speech read as follows)-
The Bill before the Senate provides for the more effective supervision by the Australian
Government of the operations of medical and hospital benefits organisations registered under the National Health Act. The provisions in this Bill are identical to those, relating to the supervision of health insurance organisations, which were included in the National Health Bill (No. 2) 1974. Honourable senators will recall that the National Health Bill (No. 2) 1974 was passed by the House of Representatives on 3 December 1974. However, during the debate in that place the Opposition stated that it was not prepared to support the provisions in the Bill relating to the supervision of health insurance organisations. The Bill was amended by the Senate to delete those provisions.
On 1 1 February 1975 the Minister for Social Security (Mr Hayden) moved, on behalf of the Government, that the amendments to the Bill be agreed to and the Bill was passed. The Government agreed to the amendments only because the Senate had agreed to other provisions in the Bill that are very important to the people of Australia. For example, the Bill authorised the provision of certain medical and surgical aids and appliances. The Government did not wish to allow the obstruction by honourable senators opposite to prevent the benefits of those provisions from flowing to individuals as quickly as possible. However, the Government regards the Senate’s rejection of the provisions in the Bill relating to the supervision of health insurance organisations as representing a severe setback in the attempt by this Government to establish provisions for the protection of people’s rights. The people in this instance are the contributors to health insurance funds. The point has been properly taken by some of the major inquiries into health insurance funds in this country, that consumers do not have representation on the bodies managing open funds. Accordingly, there is a duty incumbent upon the Australian Government to ensure the protection of the community’s rights in the operation of those funds.
This responsibility is all the greater because of the Government’s financial involvement in the existing private health insurance scheme. The scheme is supported by extremely generous direct and indirect government subsidies. The health insurance organisations could not have grown to their present significance, nor could they continue to operate, except for the very generous support that comes from government sources. For instance, on average over 60 per cent of the cost of medical services covered by medical insurance is met by direct subsidy by the Australian Government through the health insurance scheme and by indirect subsidy from the same source through tax concessions, which are a cost borne by the Government. The Australian and State governments are meeting an even higher percentage of the cost of providing public hospital treatment.
The provisions in the Bill before the Senate are consistent with the recommendations of the Committee of Inquiry into Health Insurance- the Nimmo Committee- which was set up by the Liberal-Country Party Government and with recommendations from the major investigation carried out by the Senate Select Committee on Medical and Hospital Costs. It was recognised by the Liberal-Country Party Government- and it has caused concern to this Government- that where an organisation does not comply with the Act, or actions taken under the Act, ultimately the only course of action available is to cancel the registration of the organisation. This is a most unsatisfactory punitive measure as the penalty falls on the contributor who is deprived of Australian Government benefits. Furthermore, deregistration would effectively end any control the Australian Government could exercise over reserves. This could be a most unhappy situation for contributors whose money, in fact, has been accumulated in reserves.
It is a grave deficiency in the existing provisions of the National Health Act that in an extreme case of a health insurance organisation flouting the reasonable directions of government, only the extremely punitive and unsatisfactory measure of deregistration is really available to Government. There is no alternative if the Government wishes to ensure that organisations properly discharge their responsibilities to contributors. Following careful consideration of this situation, the Government has framed provisions similar to those in the Insurance Act and the Life Insurance Act to protect the interests of contributors. These provisions are compatible with the expressed intentions of the LiberalCountry Party when in office. This Government believes these to be proper measures which should be included in Federal legislation relating to aspects of private insurance to ensure that the administration of such insurance arrangements can be adequately supervised in the interests of contributors. The Government has placed these proposals before this Parliament again to give the Opposition a further opportunity to consider objectively these measures which they intended to propose when they themselves were in office.
The Bill includes provisions to enable the Minister, where he believes it to be in the contributors’ interests, to request an organisation to show cause why it should not be investigated in relation to specified matters. Where the organisation fails to satisfy the Minister, and he believes it to be in the contributors’ interests, he may appoint an inspector to conduct an investigation into specified matters relating to the affairs of the organisation. The Bill further provides that after he has considered the report of the inspector the Minister may take such action consistent with the Act as he considers appropriate. This may include making an application to the Australian Industrial Court for the appointment by the Court of a judicial manager to manage the affairs of a fund or for a fund to be wound up by the Court.
Provision is included in the Bill to require a judicial manager, appointed by the court, to conduct the affairs of the fund with the greatest economy compatible with efficiency and to report to the court, as soon as possible, as to the course of action to be taken in relation to the fund. This could include recommendations to return to its former management; to transfer all or part of its affairs to another organisation with the consent of the other organisation; or that the fund be wound up. The Bill provides for funds to be wound up under the supervision of the court upon an application and in accordance with a scheme submitted by the Minister, the judicial manager or the organisation operating the fund. All schemes for winding up are to be subject to confirmation by the Court which may vary the schemes. The court is required where practicable to effect the transfer of contributors to a fund to be wound up to a fund conducted by another registered organisation. As I stated earlier, the arrangements I have outlined are along the lines of arrangements provided for in other insurance legislation and I believe that all contributors to health benefits funds would welcome their enactment as a positive step forward in the protection of their interests.
The Bill further provides for the transfer of excess reserves between medical and hospital funds conducted by an organisation. This is an extension of a principle incorporated in the National Health Act by the Liberal-Country Party Government. The Act at present permits a registered organisation to transfer moneys from a medical benefits fund in one State to a medical benefits fund conducted by the organisation in another State. Similar provisions exist in relation to hospital benefits funds. The provision in the Bill will enable moneys to be transferred from a fund in which there are large reserves, to a fund operated by the same organisation in which there are inadequate reserves. It will provide an alternative to adjusting the rates of contributions to the respective funds. The transfer of the excess reserves between the funds may be made upon an application by the organisation with the approval of the Minister. Alternatively, the Minister may direct the transfer of reserves in this way after receiving a recommendation from the Registration Committee.
There is an allied provision that concerns the special accounts operated within medical and hospital funds by registered organisations. The special accounts arrangements are authorised by Division 2 of Part VI of the National Health Act. They ensure that contributors continue to receive medical and hospital fund benefits which they otherwise would be denied by the pre-existing, chronic or maximum benefit rules of the organisations. The Government has been very concerned about the tremendous rate of escalation of the cost of these special accounts. For medical and hospital funds combined, Government expenditure on them has risen from $22m in 1970-71 to $55m in 1973-74. The estimated expenditure on special accounts in the current financial year is $84m. This escalation in Government spending arising from underwriting the activities of health benefits funds through the special account mechanism has occurred at a time when there were extremely large reserves accumulated by the funds. The Bill provides that, where it is proper for him to do so, and when he has received a recommendation of the Registration Committee that the moneys standing to the credit of a fund may properly be reduced, the Minister may direct that a portion of any excessive reserves held in a medical or hospital fund may be used to finance, in part, medical and hospital benefits for the long term and chronically ill members of the fund. The specific provision is contained in new section 74C and visualises portion of any excessive reserves being credited to the organisation’s special account for the purpose of providing benefits to high drawing members who are those usually most in need of the protection of health insurance coverage. In any one year in which the Minister makes a direction under this new section, the amount to be transferred is limited to 25 per cent of the amount of the special account deficit of the fund in the last completed financial year. There are provisions in the Bill for directions by the Minister given under new section 74C to be the subject of review. It is intended that the reviews should be conducted by the general administrative appeals tribunal, legislation for which is being prepared by the Attorney-General. However, if it is necessary for a review to be conducted in the interim period before the appeals tribunal is established the Bill provides for an independent tribunal to be established specifically for the purpose of reviewing directions by the Minister. It is intended that the tribunal which may be established by this Bill will be comprised of 3 members. One will represent the interests of health benefit organisations, another the interests of contributors to the organisations and the third member would be a qualified accountant.
Honourable senators will readily appreciate that the provisions in the Bill are not related to Medibank- the universal health insurance program. They are designed to enable health insurance organisations to be supervised in a manner that will result in the organisations serving the needs of contributors more effectively. Mr President, I commend the Bill to the Senate.
Debate (on motion by Senator Guilfoyle) adjourned.
Message received from the House of Representatives intimating that it has agreed to the amendment made by the Senate in the Bill intituled a Bill for an Act relating to the Australian Industry Development Corporation.
- Senator Cotton in his remarks before the suspension for dinner explained in a calm and rational way the central purpose of this Bill. He also made some comments on his belief, and presumably his Party’s belief, that the medium and longer term future for the beef industry was basically sound. I am sure that that is a belief in which the Government concurs and is in fact the main motivating force for this Appropriation Bill being presented to the Senate tonight. The calm and reasonable comments of Senator Cotton, however, are in marked contrast to a number of other comments about the present condition of the beef industry, the causes of its current problems and the appropriate remedies which the Government should adopt to deal with those problems. In particular, his comments are in marked contrast to the strident overreactions both past and present, which are put forward principally by the Country Party and are in marked contrast to the series of rather inept panaceas thrown out by its collective disoriented thought processes. Speaking on this Bill in the House of Representatives the Deputy Leader of the Country Party (Mr Sinclair) stated- and I quote from Hansard of 20 February:
Only 12 months ago we were told that the beef industry was likely to be one of the more profitable continuing industries.
Mr Sinclair neglected to mention the sources of the belief which was so prevalent 12 and 18 months ago that the future of the beef industry was so buoyant. I can well understand his reluctance to mention the sources of that belief, which was so vociferously canvassed at the time because the major source of that belief was in fact his own leader, Mr Anthony. Mr Anthony issued a statement on behalf of the Australian Country Party which was a summary of a submission presented by that Party to the Joint Parliamentary Committee on Prices. It stated:
The Country Party believes that Government policy inasmuch as it relates to the beef industry should be directed to:
the encouragement of production.
He went on to state:
If, as appears likely, a world beef shortage is developing, then Australia must respond in the most effective manner possible to meet this position.
The date of that statement is August 1973. In other statements made at about the same time, for example, on 24 August 1 973 in an address to the Agricultural Machinery Exhibition at Gunnedah, New South Wales, Mr Anthony stated:
As incomes rise demand for meat will rise. In fact, I think demand will rise so fast that we’ll be flat out trying to keep up with it. The thing that will most help us to meet the demand will be encouragement of higher production- and if people will restrain themselves from doing silly things about meat prices, production will rise quickly.
In the same address he went on to state:
There will be industries for which production increases will be the appropriate policy at particular times. The meat industry, the wheat industry and the wool industry are current examples.
In yet another of the many statements he made at the time- this was a Press statement on the Budget, issued on 21 August 1973- Mr Anthony concluded his statement by explaining:
At a time when production should be encouraged and decentralisation encouraged, the Government’s strategy is to reallocate resources away from the rural sector.
In a statement in the next month, on 13 September 1973, Mr Anthony concluded that statement by saying:
At a time when the urgent need is for stimulation of meat production, the Government seems to be going out of its way to find ways of discouraging production.
- Senator, we know what Mr Anthony said. Have you got any ideas of your own?
– As we all know- apparently even Senator Marriott now knows- the prophecies of the Leader of the Country Party were wildly wrong. The gratuitous advice that he issued so freely to the Government at about that time could not have been more inept. Dazzled by Mr Anthony’s visions of a glorious future in which the only blemish was an alleged socialistcentralist government, which oddly enough at that time opted in respect of this industry for the laws of the market to be free to operate but which declined to offer all sorts of incentives to promote even further the boom in cattle prices, beef men generally increased their herds. They refrained from selling at the very high prices which were then available and which, I remind the Senate, were still available as recently as 10 months ago.
Granted that hindsight is a valuable weapon, in retrospect what the beef industry really needed at that time was some sort of massive disincentive to dampen down the boom. If anything could have induced growers to sell their surplus stock at that particular time to take advantage of the very high prices which were then available, it would ultimately have been to the advantage of the beef industry itself and to Australia and the beef industry would not be in its current position where prices are very seriously depressed and where cattle numbers have leapt alarmingly in the last 2 or 3 years. I refer to an article in the ‘Financial Review’ last Monday citing not only the increase in the beef cattle herd but also the accelerating rate of increase which was from 27.4 million in March 1972, to 29.1 million in March 1973, to 31.2 million in March 1 974 to a projected 36 million at the end of March this year. Apart from its current financial position, there could well be a serious biological problem for the beef industry if the rains are below normal throughout the major grazing areas of Australia, which emphasises that what the beef industry really needed in 1973 was the reverse of what Mr Anthony and practically all of his colleagues asserted so stridently it needed.
Beef growers caught up in the Anthonypromoted boom got themselves into what ultimately became severe financial difficulties by paying ludicrously high prices for cattle to increast their herd numbers. Beef producers caught in this situation are probably the most seriously affected now. When the downturn did come- granted it was more savage than anyone had expected- it was greeted with increasingly vociferous demands from the apostles of free enterprise who populate the Opposition benches in this chamber and in the other place for government intervention to protect producers from the harsh realities of the market place. The people who asserted so shrilly only 12 to 18 months ago ‘hands off the free market, leave the beef industry alone ‘ are now demanding government intervention. It is perhaps the most classic example we are ever likely to experience in action of the philosophy of capitalising gains and socialising losses. All this confusion into which the apostles of free enterprise have been thrust by this very sudden and, by then, extremely unexpected downturn in the market has induced a number of ill considered assertions, to say the least. Without doubt the prize for the most ill considered assertion must go to the Premier of Queensland who on 14 February in an interview broadcast by the Australian Broadcasting Commission on its ‘AM’ program reiterated his earlier demands of 8 November. I quote from the transcript of that broadcast. Mr BjelkePetersen said:
It cannot continue this one way traffic as far as selling justerour minerals here in this State indeed Australia. We, we’ve got other things and I believe if they need meat and I ‘m sure they do they should think in terms of their good friends and their good customers in this area where they buy this vast quantity of coal that is so vital to them, that they should think of us to buy our meat, not New Zealand, noter Tasmania-
I draw Senator Marriott’s attention to that-
This is all I’m trying to . . . the message I’m trying to get over to them, they, they recognise that they . . . I’m quite sure.
That is how it came off the transcript. That is how it was stated.
– An illiterate member.
– Yes, indulging once again in the lucid prose for which he has become famous. This was the famous beef for coal trade resources blackmail, to use one the various names with which it was subsequently dubbed. To his very great credit the Deputy Premier and Treasurer of Queensland and Leader of the Parliamentary Liberal Party, Sir Gordon Chalk, promptly disowned his own Premier’s very reckless entry into the area of resources diplomacy. He was also disowned in somewhat stronger terms by the honourable member for Hotham (Mr Chipp) who is quoted in the ‘Australian ‘ of 24 February as stating:
Logic indicates that this son of blackmail ultimately leads to war. Only a fool would disregard the lessons of history.
Only a fool, indeed. Unfortunately not all members of the Liberal Party displayed such good taste and discretion. The Premier of my own State, rather predictably perhaps in view of his recent antics in his apparent attempt to demonstrate who has the hairiest chest in all of Liberaldom and who was the most effective Whitlam.basher in Australia, in response to a very temperately worded Press statement from a number of Western Australian back benchers who appealed to him- that was the word used- to use his influence with the Premier of Queensland and try to persuade him not to proceed with this reckless endeavour, responded with a broadside in which he firstly asserted that, of course, Mr Bjelke-Petersen was not talking about Queensland beef but was talking about Australian beef, notwithstanding the fact that he is on record not once but twice in the ‘AM’ program as specifically excluding Tasmanian beef from the area of his comments and, secondly, assured the Western Australian members that Mr Bjelke-Petersen was held in much higher regard in Japan than the present Federal government. Unfortunately for Sir Charles, on record at the time he made that statement was an ABC television 7 p.m. news bulletin on 18 February which stated:
In Tokyo a spokesman for Mitsui-
We all know what Mitsui is- said his company was in complete agreement with Mr Connor’s criticism of Mr Bjelke-Petersen. The spokesman described as ‘welcome and appropriate’ Mr Connor’s statement that the Queensland Premier has insulted the Japanese.
From the ‘Courier-Mail’ of 27 February, also on record at the time Sir Charles made his hasty and ill-considered statement, is this report:
Two Japanese visitors discreetly warned the Queensland Premier (Mr Bjelke-Petersen) yesterday about his coal- beef threat.
They said that resources diplomacy, if taken to the ultimate, could be dangerous.
Further on the article continues:
The warning was given by two Japanese authorities on political and economic affairs, Professor T. Yano and Professor S. Ichimura of the South-East Asian Studies Centre, Kyoto University.
This report appears in the ‘Australian’ newspaper of 1 March 1975:
Japanese businessmen are concerned about trade relations with Australia as a result of the threat by the Queensland Premier, Mr Bjelke-Petersen, to use resources diplomacy to sell Queensland beef.
I ask honourable senators to note that the article says ‘Queensland beef-
Mr Bjelke-Petersen said recently he would insist on longterm contracts to sell Queensland beef to the Japanese in return for coal sales to Japan.
Mr Tosho Takai, the executive vicepresident of a major Japanese electrical industries association, said this in Canberra yesterday.
So the score for the Liberal Party was two on the side of sanity and one against. The Country Party’s score is not so good. From ‘Queensland Country Life’ of 27 February 1975- this is after some of the reports had come through- I read the following extract:
Mr Sinclair gave solid backing to the State Premier, Mr Bjelke-Petersen, regarding coal- beef trading with Japan.
The honourable member for Darling Downs, Mr McVeigh, is recorded in Hansard of 20 February 1975 as saying in the debate in that place on this same Bill:
We cannot accept the principle that resources diplomacy is a one-sided arrangement. We cannot accept that another country can enter the Australian market, can take what it wants and cannot be expected to have conditions placed on it as to what else it buys as part of an overall package in a mixed bag economy. It is essential therefore that the Premier of Queensland be encouraged in his statesman-like approach to preserve the rights of the Queensland beef producers.
Of a somewhat lower order of irrationality are a number of other suggestions which have been thrown around from time to time, many of which are still thrown around by assorted other spokesmen for the Opposition Parties, principally, once again the Country Party. A favourite which has not been repeated yet in this debate I am glad to say, is that to help the beef industry the Government should restore taxation concessions for land development, soil and water conservation and things like that. I have never been able to fathom how a tax deduction will be of any financial assistance to people whose real problem is that they have no income. But then, the members of the Country Party stand logic and frequently truth on its head.
Another suggestion is that the Government should pay an across the board export subsidy on beef. I emphasise that this suggestion is put forward quite strongly by people who are advocates of free enterprise, the market system, allocated resources and above all of the unwisdom of governments, especially socialist centralised governments, attempting to interfere with the free play of market forces. However, my reservations about that suggestion are not based on ideological prejudice but on the probability that it would not work. Given the assumption that the intent is to increase the return to Australian producers, that suggestion is unlikely to work for this reason: In the current marketing situation what the Australian beef exporters face is not price competition but an import embargo. In the jargon of the economists, demand for Australian beef within pretty wide price levels or price parameters is almost totally inelastic. In this sort of situation the most likely recipient of an export subsidy- an across the board export subsidywould be the foreign buyer, particularly the United States of America. That is not simply a sort of conventional or respectable theory of demand price relationships. It is also borne out by empirical evidence.
It will be recalled that at the end of September 1974 the Australian Government devalued the Australia dollar by 12 per cent. In a normal competitive marketing situation a devaluation is tantamount to paying an export subsidy. It could be expected to have precisely the same effects. What happen to the prices of Australian exports after the devaluation of September 1974 was that wheat prices moved up almost to the full extent of the 12 per cent devaluation. Once again, this was wholly predictable because wheat was being sold in a sellers market. However, what happened to meat prices was that they moved very little, if at all. I cite the figures contained in table 3 on page D-40 of the Bureau of Agricultural Economics paper on the Situation and Outlook of Meat prepared for the Outlook Conference. It shows that the price for meat per cents per kilogram for boneless manufacturing cow beef in the United States market at September 1 974 was 123.2c. In October 1974, after devaluation, the price was 123.9c. This conforms to the statements issued by the Australian Meat Board at that time that the meat price had increased marginallyperhaps of the order of half a cent per kilogram. That was the effect that a devaluation of 12 per cent had on export meat prices. For as long as the current marketing situation lasts it is probable- almost certain- that any further devaluations would have a similar minimal influence on meat prices.
There may be some justification for applying or using some sort of export incentive on a more selective basis, but to pay a subsidy on an across the board basis on exports would be to provide a gift to the foreign buyer. Likewise, of course, the demand for further devaluations which occasionally crop up, once again principally from members of the Country Party, are likely to have similar effects. Incidentally, to carry the demonstration a little further, when the Australian dollar was revalued in December 1972 and January 1973, because there was an extreme seller’s market for meat and wool at that time it appears to have had a minimal influence on the price received by Australian producers for those commodities. I am sure that every member of the Government is concerned about the position into which the beef industry has drifted. But a responsible government could not act upon the suggestions that have been thrown up by members of the Opposition even completely disregarding equity arguments.
The provision of credit, for better or worse, in this society is normally a function of the banking system, that is, of the private trading banks, the Commonwealth Trading Bank and, in this field, marginally by the pastoral finance houses. The banks are in a highly liquid position and are well placed to supply credit upon normal commercial terms. The credit which is appropriated to the Development Bank under this Bill is of a supplementary nature and is different in kind from the credit that is normally provided by the commercial banking system. As the Minister stated in his opening speech, the main criteria which will determine the eligibility for loans under this appropriation, or the guidelines which the Bank will follow, are:
In accordance with its banking charter the Development Bank would have regard primarily to the prospects of the applicant becoming or continuing to be successful rather than the value of the security available.
Of course the value, particularly the market value, of the security available is what the commercial banking system normally looks for. It has been claimed, and no doubt will continue to be claimed, that the amount of finance which the Government has provided is inadequate. That assertion is hard to reconcile with the fact that only about $4m is currently being allocated under the terms of this legislation. The Minister may have more up to date figures and may mention them in his closing remarks, but the last figure I heard was approximately $4m, notwithstanding that the money has been available for more than 2 months. Given that reality, it is difficult to sustain an argument that the amount of finance provided is grossly inadequate. If it should ultimately prove to be inadequate, the Government, if it chooses- I have every reason to expect that it would do so- could submit an appropriation Bill for a further advance.
It has also been suggested that the interest rate should be at sub-commercial levels. It is even suggested sometimes that there should be no interest charge at all. In this country and, I suppose, in other countries, there is a great mystique which refuses to accept that conceptually an interest charge is the price of finance and which refuses to regard finance as a commodity which can be and is sold in the market place in the same way as any number of other commodities. It just so happens that the price of this commodityfinance, money or credit- is interest. To subsidise the rate of interest is conceptually or ethically no different from subsidising anything else. In other words, those people who argue that finance should be available either at a grossly subcommercial rate of interest or at no rate of interest at all are arguing that there should be a gift from the rest of society to a particular sector of society. I am sure that in some circumstnaces that is a proposition which would not be resisted by this Government. But once again, as with export incentives or export subsidies, if any, surely it is more rational to be selective about the areas in which welfare payments will be made and it is necessary to be more selective than just to make them available on an across-the-board basis so that they would be available to people who perhaps do not even have a liquidity problem, or certainly do not have an asset problem. It could well be that at the tail end of the beef industry, among the last 5 per cent or thereabouts, there may be a case for welfare assistance. In my view, any assistance which is provided on welfare grounds should be provided as welfare and not provided to the whole industry on an across-the-board basis. Apart from the argument about equity as to why society, through the Government, should subsidise particular people who might well have higher levels of income and higher levels of assets or net worth than the people who are doing the subsidising, it is far more effective to direct any given amount of money towards where the need really is than to make it available on an indiscriminate acrosstheboard basis. That is the sort of policy which this Government has pursued since its election and, I trust, will pursue in the future. Mr President, I commend the Bill.
-The Senate is dealing with the Appropriation (Development Bank) Bill. It is a very short Bill. It has one page which contains 3 clauses. The main thrust of the Bill is to provide $20m from Consolidated Revenue to the Commonwealth Development Bank as it is required by that Bank. In line with the second reading speech of the Minister for Agriculture (Senator Wriedt), this money generally is to be made available to beef producers on terms and conditions that will be set by the Bank itself. During the ensuing months appropriation Bills will be probably the most important measures that are brought before the Senate and it will be the obligation of honourable senators to study them very closely. I do not think this Bill requires particularly close study because it is an approach by the Government to supply funds to what is at present an area of demand. Primary industry is the base for this support.
I noted that Senator Walsh, who has just completed his speech, added not one positive suggestion for the assistance or the alleviation not only of primary industry but also particularly of the beef industry. I noted that he roundly condemned the Australian Country Party. A search of his speech reveals that my political Party came under direct criticism by his stating ‘Country Party ‘on so many occasions. One may think that it is a compliment that my Party worries Senator Walsh and perhaps worries the present Government so much in relation to primary industry that apparently he goes to sleep worrying about it and then expounds in the Senate on the problems that have been set by the Country Party. I am particularly proud that the Country Party does worry Senator Walsh, as his speech indicates. He can be assured that in the future he will mention the Country Party on many more occasions. I do not think that he added particularly to the debate by moving away from the point and discussing the policies of the Country Party. It is not really the Country Party that has created this problem. Senator Walsh’s Party has been in office for approximately 2 years. The Labor Party’s good Minister for Agriclture has been the Minister for Agriculture for 2 years. I have some respect for his views. I have no respect for the actions that he has taken against primary industry in the years that he has been in office. I grant to him that it is not his fault that the beef industry finds itself in difficulty. Indeed, some areas of the beef industry are in particular financial difficulty at present. How stupid it would be for anybody to blame a political party for the unique circumstances that have come about in relation to this industry which we would all agree is so important to the export industry in Australia.
Senator Walsh was attempting to say that in 1973 it was my own leader, Doug Anthony, who encouraged the production of beef. He attempted to lay the problem at his feet. I think the Government was encouraging the production of more beef at that time, as was my own Party. 1 think the Bureau of Agricultural Economics was encouraging the production of more beef. If I remember correctly, the Australian Meat Board, as had the Australian Wool Corporation in previous years, said that the future for the product which it handled was bright because of the industry’s recent overseas experience. One certainly would agree with the comment made by Senator Cotton when he first spoke on this Bill that the long term future of the Australian beef producer is surely rosy. It would be very hard to convey that message to some beef producers presently in our community. The traditional beef producer, if he has been a breeder, has found some continuing satisfaction in the market although there has been a depression in prices. People were influenced to go into beef production because of the high prices paid for produce. They paid high prices for breeding stock and for store stock. Having paid $150 to $200 for the animal and then getting it into a fit condition, the producer found, after meeting the overhead costs, the interest content and charges of transporting the beast to market, that the animal was worth $80 or $90. Under no circumstance can any industry exist on that basis.
Can one blame the Queensland beef producers for the extraordinarily unhappy circumstances that many of them are in at present? A neighbour of mine is closely associated with one of the big stations in Queensland. During the Queensland floods producers saw their stock washed into the rivers and into the sea and they were left with a minimum of stock on their properties. They had the same problem 2 years ago of attempting to build up their stock into what was their original state. They found that immediately those stock were ready for market the problem of low prices had struck. It is not the fault of the Federal Government, nor is it the fault of any political party, that the depression in prices came about. I know that Senator Walsh attempted to spend most of his time during his speech denigrating my political party. That is the only thing he ever attempts to do when he speaks. He has not made one positive contribution in the Senate yet. The fact is that the beef industry is based mainly for its health on the ability of overseas consumers to be able to buy the product. The producers have found that their 2 main areas of market, Japan and America, have been affected by the energy crisis which apparently is besetting all countries which do not have their own supplies. Those countries found that they had to pull back from the introduction into their own countries of this source of protein.
I recall that previously under contract the export price of beef was about 30c a lb. The Australian Meat Board has negotiated a contract, not with our traditional customers- undoubtedly our traditional customers will be watching the contract price- but with a very good prospective customer, Russia- at a figure of about 9’^c a lb. No beef producer in Australia, with the present high cost structure, could ever meet that figure. Enormous difficulty will come from what the Meat Board has had to do. I do not deny that the Meat Board took a proper step, because our cool stores are full of beef at present. It is a wise business prospect for a producer to get rid of stock on hand so that he can take in more with the prospect of getting new markets. I am sure that new markets will come, but it will be some time before they do. Whilst we have built up our stocks- I think I am correct in saying that they have nearly trebled in the last few years- an enormous problem besets the beef producer in this country.
– Everyone is growing beef now.
– I think everybody who breeds beef will do reasonably well in the future, but it depends on the price paid to start breeding stock. The position is disastrous as we see from the sales that recently have taken place even with the best breeding herds in Victoria. Recently a sale indicated a two-thirds drop in the price of some of the best pure beef stock in Australia. This is most regrettable. I compliment the Government that it has directed the Development Bank to give special attention to beef producers who are wholly dependent for their income from that activity. I hope that pure herds can be kept together because we will then have the basis of outstanding stock in this country such as we have had in previous years.
This Bill deals mainly with the allocation of funds to the Development Bank. Under the Commonwealth Banks Act the funds are advanced to the Bank as required and on terms and conditions to be agreed between the Treasurer and the Board of the Commonwealth Banking Corporation. I wonder whether the Minister is capable of giving us some detail as to what that means. I wonder whether the Minister is capable of giving us some detail as to whether the high interest rate applicable to primary producers at present will be maintained by the Development Bank, by the Commonwealth Banking Corporation and by those banks which are under the direct instruction of the Federal Government. Disguised in the Minister’s second reading speech are the true facts of what the Government is going to charge these indigent producers. Does the Minister think that he can make clear to the Senate what rate will be charged when the $20m eventually finds it way into the producers’ hands. We know that it was the Labor Government that took away the benefit that the former Government had granted to primary producers by way of a disparity in interest rates for primary producers. The Minister and his Labor colleagues argued so well that the industry should not have the benefit of better interest rates. I am anxious that the Minister takes note of what I am saying and, if he possibly can, replies to the questions I raise.
I make the point that I foresee that the Minister, having taken unto himself the reasons for, and the requirements of the Labor Party to take action in so many fields against primary producers, will take action in the next month or two and change his coat. I believe then that some great benefits will start to flow to primary industry.
– That is fair enough in the current circumstances- horses for courses.
-An ex-farmer from the dairying industry says: ‘Horses for courses’. I think if I were to use such a term of the Minister the Chair would sit me down and say that I should not use such a term. One of the members of the Minister’s own Party says that it is horses for courses. Well, that is what it might be and it just might be horses for elections. I hope that any primary producers who are listening this evening will know that if they are to gain benefits- the Minister for Agriculture might suddenly reverse his Party’s attitude in relation to superphosphate; I hope I am not stealing something out of the Minister’s portfolio- they will be very short lived and will be attempts to encourage primary producers to vote for the Labor Party. I am suggesting to the Minister that it was his Party that took away the disparity in interest rates which favoured beef producers in previous years when there was a different class of government, not a socialist government, in power. They were able to gain a better interest rate and a lower cost structure for their borrowings. No man borrows if he does not need to borrow. Beef producers will not borrow unless they must borrow. When they must borrow they want the lowest cost structure that they can get. This Bill allocates money to the Development Bank which, in all probability -
– Settle down.
– I am excited about this matter because I realise that no beef producer will be able to pay the interest rate that the Development Bank will be placing on his borrowing.
– You are guessing.
-Senator Georges is an old businessman of some fame. I am not too sure what the fame is. When the Joint Committee on the Pecuniary Interests of Members of Parliament requires all members -
– He will state his with a smile on his face.
-With a smile on his face. Senator Georges will be able to give that evidence to the Committee. I say that beef producers are in a predicament. The Government now agrees. There is a predicament. Money must be made available to beef producers. It should be made available at an interest rate lower than the 8 per cent, 9 per cent or 10 per cent at which the Development Bank will lend this money.
– I think the figure is 11.5 per cent.
-Is the figure 11.5 per cent at present? Where are the great socialist institutions in this community? The Australian and New Zealand Banking Group Ltd lowered its interest rates by 0.5 per cent this week. Yesterday I had to ring the Commonwealth Banking Corporation about a loan which I have with that bank. I said: ‘What is the Commonwealth Bank doing about this? Does it intend to let private enterprise steal the thunder from it by lowering interest rates?’ What are we looking at when we have a government which says that it believes in the socialisation of the means of production, distribution and exchange? It would have one banking institution if it could, and that banking institution would not lower interest rates as the great private instrumentality did this week. Yesterday the Commonwealth Bank did not know what it was doing. I see that it has announced that it will follow suit. I would have thought that it would be wise for the Minister to make a speech on this matter stating that the Development Bank would beat the private enterprise banks and lower the rate by at least 2 per cent or 3 per cent. It did not. The wisdom which we have before us in the Minister’s second reading speech in no area states the rates at which this money will be made available. Admittedly the Bill makes finance available for this sector of primary production, but one of the important things to remember is that if we charge a primary producer 10 per cent in 10 years he has paid the whole of the capital back in interest. We know how that erodes anyone’s confidence. That is the basis of the whole erosion of the economy in our community. This Government has encouraged the high cost of money in the community, with the basic philosophy, I suppose, that the high cost of money will stifle the encouragement to borrow.
– That is your philosophy. It has been your philosophy for years.
-That is a silly proposition. Senator Georges interrupts and says that is my philosophy. He may be able to say why Labor encouraged the high interest rates which are being charged at present. I notice that the senator, in typical fashion, just raises his hands as if he does not know. I agree that he does not. The criteria which have been applied by the private banking and the federal banking institutions to primary producers over the past years have not been sufficient for their needs. This Bill suggests that the position may be altered. In his second reading speech the Minister said:
In accordance with its banking charter the Development Bank would have regard primarily to the prospects of the applicant becoming or continuing to be, successful rather than the value of the security available. The funds so provided by the Bank to producers would, in the normal course, flow back to the traditional carry-on lenders to the industry enabling them to provide greater assistance to their clients.
We know that these funds will be made available through the private banking institutions. Eventually they will flow to clients. The trading banks will say to clients: ‘We do not think you are viable at present. We will have to leave your overdraft as it exists at present’. We hope that these funds will assist the banks in not looking at the asset backing that there may be for the loan but at whether it is in the interests of Australia that certain producers carry on.
– Would you agree that it might not be the private banks so much as the stock and station agents who would be responsible for that sort of situation?
– I would not agree at all. That is something which the honourable senator may have in his mind. I think the private stock and station agents have done a wonderful job, but it is people like Senator Primmer who suggest that they have not. We have got into a sad situation because the Government does not appreciate sufficiently the problems of primary industry. Senator Walsh knew who would solve the problems. He mentioned the Country Party probably 60 or 70 times. That is where the primary producer will look for assistance in this and other matters. Under the present Government the cost structure of private industry, of primary producers and of the beef industry is one of which the Government should be ashamed. Any beef producer at this time will say that the high cost of overhead, the high cost of labour and the high cost of borrowing make it very nearly impossible to carry on in that industry. It does not stop at primary production. It intrudes into many areas in the community. The Labor Party is seeking to encourage this. My view is that the Labor Party is anxious to see the currency debauched in this community. It has been very successful. As I have said on a number of occasions, I think the Labor Government has been very successful in debauching the economy of this country. If it had set out to achieve in 2 years the situation in which we find ourselves now, it could not have done a better job. The British Trade Minister, the Hon. Anthony Wedgwood Benn, said recently: ‘Now in Britain there is a situation in which private individuals are not willing to invest. They are not willing to take a risk about the future. Now is the time for government to get into business and to regenerate growth in manufacturing industries. ‘ The Labor Party in Australia has aimed at that goal. I well remember- it is difficult to imagine it- the Minister for the Capital Territory, Mr Gorton Bryant, saying that it is quite possible that this Government will set up a dairy farm on the outskirts of Canberra.
– What is wrong with that?
– What is wrong with that? Milk is being imported into Canberra.
– I hope the people are listening to their remarks. I think the Labor Party has been successful. It has just about sifled industry. It has encouraged a level of wage rates and a level of holidays which this community cannot stand. At present primary industry cannot stand what has taken place in the last year under encouragement by this Government. In the near future honourable senators opposite will be able to say that the great socialist philosophy which they have argued is coming to light. I think the Government has been very successful. What has it done to primary industry? I recall Senator Wriedt, in his early days as Minister for Primary Industry, addressing the Farm Writers and Broadcasters Society of Victoria. I hope he does not mind my quoting this. I hope it does not embarrass him in any way.
– As long as you do not misquote him.
– I will quote him. The Minister said:
Recently I said that we do not want the rural sector to become one vast sheltered region soaking up scarce public funds that could be better spent upgrading vital community services that benefit both country and city dwellers. This statement has been wrongly interpreted by some people as meaning that a big axe is about to be wielded to lop off all subsidies and other concessions to the rural sector. This is just not so. . . . While the axe will not be wielded with gay abandon on existing rural subsidies, it will be my aim to have them critically examined as they fall due for renewal and even earlier, to see where modifications and indeed improvements are desirable.
In the same speech the Minister said:
All Ministers are in Cabinet with an equal voice. If primary industry gets downgraded, it will be because I failed to do my homework or exercise a proper role in Cabinet when presenting my submissions. I have no intention of letting this happen.
When being interviewed on the Australian Broadcasting Commission program ‘This Day Tonight’ on 19 June 1974, the Minister said:
I have initiated most of the moves which have been taken by the Government.
That statement related to the withdrawal of assistance to primary industry. Was the Minister associated with those increases in costs to primary industry and in the discontinuation of the accelerated depreciation allowance on plant which had been at a special rate of 20 per cent? Was he associated with the increase in proprietary limited taxation, an area of great interest so far as beef producers and many other rural producers are concerned?
– Not many from my class of rural producers.
– I know the honourable senator’s class of rural producer. There are many primary producers who run their properties as proprietary limited companies in order to get their families involved. I know the way the honourable senator treated his dairy farm and the family that had to support it but some people get involved in proprietary limited companies. This Government increased the taxation of those individuals by 10 per cent. This Government discontinued annual taxation deductibility for a wide range of capital expenditure which included internal fencing, the provision of water and the provision of storage bins. Other expenditure previously considered as deductible is now regarded as capital expense.
– Such people cannot do it now.
– I know. One cannot imagine the stupidity of the present Government. I recall a particular instance for which the Minister for Agriculture is responsible. If a farmer drills for water on his property and cannot find water, the cost of that drilling operation has to go on his balance sheet as a capital expense. One wonders how stupid a government could be. I ask the Minister to please change that proposition. Change it as early as possible. It will benefit the beef industry throughout Australia.
– It will benefit the Collins Street farmers.
-That interjection illustrates the socialist attitude and the view that this would benefit a particular group. We know that there have been increases in the cost of telecommunications to people in rural areas. Why did the Government do that?
– That affected the whole community.
-That is right, it affected the whole community.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Marriott)- Order! The honourable senator’s time has expired.
– in reply- The Senate has been debating a Bill by which the Government will make available $20m through the Commonwealth Development Bank. As was pointed out during the course of the debate, the beef industry is going through a most difficult period. I was pleased to hear Senator Webster say that this difficult period could not be ascribed to the present Government. In fact he said it was not the fault of any political party. I wish the honourable senator would show the same balance and tolerance in all his comments. However, we are accustomed to the rather emotional speeches that he makes and we know that he takes every opportunity to deviate from the subject matter of the Bill before the Senate in order to try to prove to the electorate at large, especially his audience in Victoria, that in some way the Government is anti-rural.
I do not propose to take the time of the Senate answering the extravagant statements that Senator Webster made. During the time that he was speaking I was thinking of the calm and constructive comments made by Senator Cotton, a member of the Opposition. I invite any beef producer or any farmer listening to this broadcast to contrast the extravagance of Senator Webster with the deliberation of Senator Cotton. That is the choice that they have on the Opposition side. I am quite sure that history will demonstrate that the Country Party will receive less favour in the rural areas as the years go by. It is quite true that the difficulties confronting the beef industry are manifest. Every rural industry is dependent on a good market and good prices, but shouting a lot of accusations about what should have been done in the past does not solve our problem.
I daresay that if any political party has good reason to forget the past it is the Country Party. No party in this country had deceived Australian farmers more than the Country Party has done. Even within the Liberal Party there have been strong feelings for many years that many forms of assistance given to primary producers were not helping primary industry at all. They were simply vote catchers brought on by the Country Party for no more than its own selfish political ends. The dairy industry in Victoria, which Senator Webster claims to represent, would be one of the best examples I could think of. However we are talking about beef and I want to deal specifically with that subject.
Senator Webster and other honourable senators, including Senator Sir Magnus Cormack who interjected on one occasion, referred to the fact that the Australian Meat Board actually encouraged farmers to produce more beef at a time when the market was about to collapse. I do not think that the Meat Board should be unduly criticised for that because no one could correctly predict the market. Even the Country Party of which Senator Webster is a member put evidence before the parliamentary committee of inquiry into meat prices in 1973 and presented a case which, amongst other things, advocated increases in beef production. That explodes the fallacy of criticising the Meat Board or anybody else. Market intelligence was not good enough for us to predict what was going to happen in the world meat trade.
Reference was made to stock being washed away in Queensland during the floods. It was this Federal Labor Government which gave interest free loans to Queensland, and Queensland primary producers, to the extent of about $60m overall. Not all that money went to primary producers but Queensland was given interest free money by this Federal Government. In turn that money was given to the producers by the Queensland Government at interest rates which varied between 4 per cent and 6 per cent. The Federal Government of the day realised the need to ensure that money was made available as cheaply as possible to people in difficult circumstances. It was the great Country Party Government in Queensland that imposed interest rates on the primary producers, not the Federal Labor Government. The honourable senator went on to oppose- oppose, mind youthe recent sales of beef to the Union of the Soviet Socialist Republics. I thought the honourable senator was going to come forth with some new figment of his imagination and say that the sale of Australian beef to the U.S.S.R. was unwarranted. However, all he said was that it was a new market. Even that was a point of criticism. Is it not the role of the statutory authorities representing primary industry in this country to open up new markets? Is this not what we were doing in the case of the U.S.S.R.? He cited ludicrous prices such as 9c per lb for beef. Is it not better that the beef keep moving and that we keep exporting it? Is this not the purpose of what the Government is doing in assisting the beef industry and the Australian Meat Board to ensure that sales are made? I would like to know the reaction of any primary producer to Senator Webster’s comment- I was surprised by it- that we should not have been supporting the sale of our beef to the U.S.S.R. Of course then we heard the long harangue about interest rates. Was it the former government when in power that did anything to assist the primary producer in respect of low interest rates? Let us have a look at the record. In 1971 in the wool crisis were low interest rates provided to the wool grower? Were not all the farmers who marched in Melbourne, the thousands of them, protesting at the LiberalCountry Party Federal Government’s policy on wool in desperate straits after 20 years of Liberal-Country Party rule? What assistance was given then in a meaningful way to ensure that that industry was stabilised. Even when we came into office at the end of the following year, still no moves had been made to stabilise the most important rural industry in this country. It has taken a Federal Labor Government to step in and stabilise that industry.
Assistance has been given now under this legislation because it was the Australian National Cattlemen’s Council’s request that money be made available at the normal interest rates. It was said by Senator Webster that no primary producer will be able to stand the interest rates being charged. If that is the case it is interesting to know that even in the past 2 weeks- I think Senator Webster invited me to give the Senate these figures- loans have been approved to the extent of $ 1.4m under this program and the total now is $4.4m. That money has been made available at normal bank interest rates.
– What rate is that?
– It is currently 11.5 per cent. Senator Webster did not go on to tell the Senate that under the rural reconstruction arrangements the very same primary producers are entitled to loans for debt reconstruction at 4 per cent. Those arrangements have not been altered since this Government has been in office and this year we are providing $28m of Federal Government money in order to maintain the rural reconstruction program. It is an absurdity to suggest that this Government’s performance in this area of making finance available to the rural sector is in any way less than that of our predecessors. If and when this full $20m has been expended and loaned to the rural sector it will mean that a total of $90m will have been made available by the Commonwealth Development Bank to the beef producers. A total of $90 m will be outstanding to the beef industry.
The cost structure is one which naturally all of us are concerned about. But again is that the fault of the present Federal Government? Is it a fact that we are in a position where increases in incomes have had a tremendous effect on the inflation rate? Is not one of the principal factors in that the enormous increase in rural incomes in 1972 and 1973 and right into 1974? Naturally when we get this increase in liquidity in the economy we must expect an increase in inflation. I do not want to go off into that area because 1 dare say we will be doing that tomorrow in another Bill that will be before this Parliament, but it ought to be borne in mind that this Government has endeavoured to restrict the increase in the inflation rate to the maximum of its capacity, bearing in mind that it has limitations on its powers.
It would be foolish to suggest that this Government or any other government could quickly solve the problems of the beef industry. It is true that for 4 or 5 years prior to 1 974 the beef industry did extremely well and prices were remarkably high on the overseas market. The last thing that this Government should do is to be stampeded by the situation. We are currently looking at alternative means of assisting the industry outside this appropriation. It is not a matter of handing out money, as I think was raised by way of interjection by Senator Georges, to people who are benefiting from government assistance when in fact they do not need that benefit. The Commonwealth Development Bank, as indeed do the rural reconstruction authorities in each of the States, looks carefully at applications made by rural producers. The whole aim of these schemes is to ensure that the person who needs the assitance gets that assistance. We cannot be too selective in the methods that are used, because so much of the work that is done is done through the States. The Government certainly will maintain its commitment to the rural reconstruction schemes, which are essential to keeping the viable producer in the beef industry. The market must come back.
Senator Webster had a lot to say about breeding herds and so on. One would imagine that the Government was not aware of these things. Of course the breeding herds must be maintained; otherwise the stock becomes depleted. The assistance we are giving will enable beef producers to keep their breeding stocks at the maximum level they can possibly afford in present circumstances.
It is one of those situations at the present time in the beef industry where it is very easy to be critical and to make many comments about what has happened in the past. The fact is that the market forces which largely determine the prosperity of the industry in this country, that is, the overseas market forces, are factors largely beyond our control. All we can do in this country is to maximise them, secure the ones we have and reject the nonsensical comments of a certain Premier in one of the States in his talk about trading one product off against another. The Government will continue to assist those producers who need the assistance. We will put forward other propositions in conjunction with the States to ensure that the maximum assistance can be given to them. It does not help our cause, nor does it help the cause of the beef producer, to make extravagant statements about lack of government support. This Government could not do more than it is doing at the present time. I am quite sure that with the measures we are taking the beef industry will weather what is in fact a very difficult period. This measure will secure the beef industry for the markets when they return.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Ordered that the Bill may be taken through all its stages without delay.
Bill (on motion by Senator Cavanagh) read a first time.
– I move:
The second reading speech has been delivered previously in this chamber and in another place. I therefore ask leave to have it incorporated in Hansard.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Webster)- Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The speech read as follows)-
It is my privilege to introduce an entirely new element into Austraiian housing practice. This is a Bill that will prove to be a most significant development in the history of Australian housing. The Australian Housing Corporation proposed in this Bill permits us to explore a fresh field of endeavour, that of direct relations between government and private enterprise, and between government and non-profit organizations, in the housing of the large number of ordinary Australian families. It is an anomaly of policy in this country that although the Australian Government possesses a substantial reserve of power in the housing field, that power has never been fully gathered together, concentrated and mobilised for the benefit of the people. But that is exactly what is done in the Bill I now present to the House.
The Chifley Government’s negotiation of the Commonwealth-State Housing Agreement of 1945 is almost certainly the outstanding event in our governmental housing history, enabling as it did the beginning of the great State housing authority movement which has resulted in the building of 280 000 houses. That scheme, effective as it has proved, concentrated on one area of action- State enterprise in the housing of the poorer families in our Australian population. Despite the growth of financial institutions catering largely for the middle income earners, there never has been a Government policy directed at the housing needs of that energetic and deserving section of the Australian people- those above the level of direct need, but who yet require a marshalling of the resources of the community if they are to attain the high quality home which should be the heritage of every family.
The Australian Government does not have complete constitutional power to perform all housing functions, but it does have substantial powers. Those powers have been used in this Bill to create machinery which will give this Government and its successors a powerful new vehicle, capable if properly directed of fulfilling our national housing aspirations. Honourable senators will find in this Bill a general vehicle which can be used in many directions to create housing policy for emerging needs. We shall have a range of options. Some of those that come to my mind are second mortage loans to cover the deposit gap for young couples; direct loans to special hardship cases; loans for private enterprise building to assist in limiting rentals and loans to co-operative societies providing middle-income housing.
Elsewhere the Minister for Housing and Construction (Mr Les Johnson) has said that the new Corporation is intended not to duplicate or supplant, but to complement State housing authorities. Our Government sees the work of those authorities as of cardinal importance in the creation of good living conditions for the lowest income strata of the population.
We have but one major criticism of State housing: It is our view that it has tended to perpetuate a culture of the poor by concentrating too many people of low income together, in circumstances of inadequate social provision. We want to diversify the social structure of housing estates by mixing in people of varying incomes and background. But I pledge the Australian Government to continue to support to the limit of our capacity State efforts to build for welfare housing. We have already lifted expenditure on State housing from $169m in 1972-73, the year the LiberalCountry Party Government fell, to $375m this year.
Our main efforts, however, will go to a new area altogether. We want to do 3 things: We want to co-operate with private enterprise, directly and openly without inhibition, in the creation of good housing conditions for moderate income people; we want to fill in the economic gaps in our still faulty machinery for the housing of the people; and we want to create a mechanism for the relief of hardship created by the gaps and faults in our financial system.
Governments in the past have proclaimed their faith in home ownership, although towards the end of the Government we replaced in 1972 the proportion of home ownership actually fell. I want to reiterate that we too believe very strongly in home ownership. But if one looks at past policy one will see a curious policy lack; because our predecessors praised home ownership, they entirely neglected any positive rental policy in the non-welfare area, leaving private enterprise to struggle on as best it can in the provision of rental dwellings as a despised second best. But Australians need good-quality rental accommodation, if only because much of the population requires to be mobile and move from job to job, and because many people are saving for a home. Why should the home-renter be neglected? Families renting are often both poor and unprotected.
The Australian Housing Corporation will be equipped to repair that neglect. Rental housing of good quality for families will be encouraged by direct partnership with private enterprise. We have some idea how to do this, but we also make an appeal to private enterprise to come forward with plans in this field which can be the subject of joint enterprise, where government money is allied with moderate profit-seeking in the provision of high quality family homes. This is only one of the ways in which we see the new Corporation working. The functions to be performed by the Corporation will be effected by regulations embodying new schemes as and when they are required.
Perhaps the majority of these schemes will be about home ownership, because close to seventenths of our people now own or are purchasing their homes. But the Corporation is not going to do the same work as a bank. We already have the Commonwealth family of banks, of whose work in housing we are justifiably proud. The Corporation will be primarily a lending institution, but of a different kind, lt will not be designed to lend as a competitor with the banks and the building societies. Rather it will complement their efforts. I shall give, as an illustration only, one of the possibilies we have in mind.
This scheme would provide a means of overcoming the deposit gap. One in five of Australian families purchasing their homes finds it necessary to take out a second mortgage. This is often done at high cost, employing, for example, the mechanism of the finance companies, which would be better to concentrate on consumer goods and automobiles than on long-term durables such as housing. A scheme like this could largely abolish the deposit gap for those income groups who can take advantage of it. For example, we could provide second mortgages up to say $5,000 to first time home buyers unable to bridge the deposit gap, to help cover the cost of their land. Naturally, such schemes will always be restricted to persons of moderate income and for houses of moderate cost, but I think honourable senators will see that for a great number of young couples, a scheme like that could abolish the waiting time for saving for a house. We have in mind a repayment holiday of perhaps three or five years on this second mortgage. So it would incorporate some of the advantages of the socalled deferred payment mortgage schemes.
Let me take another example. The present economic climate is hurting many people who took on substantial housing repayment obligations in good times when their prospects were excellent. These people may be temporarily out of work or they may, while still in work, be finding the current high interest rates an intolerable burden. Everybody will realise the limits of action in such cases, since funds are not unlimited, but in selected instances the Corporation could move to give them easier financial conditions until their circumstances have improved. We want to open the way for the resources and initiatives of private enterprise to enter a productive partnership with government. When I say that, we have in mind many overseas examples.
In Canada and the United States of America, for example, schemes such as I have outlined are already in force. Canadian governments, at both federal and provincial level, have shown great imagination in encouraging private enterprise. The Ontario Housing Corporation, for example, acquires land, develops it and leases it at a ground rent which amortises developed costs of the land over 50 years. But it does not attempt to create housing estates itself; it works in close collaboration with builders. The land can only be obtained through builders selected by that Corporation. Houses are built by private enterprise on Housing Corporation land to a cost limit depending on the size of the home. A would-be home-owner can purchase a house from the builder on 5 per cent deposit of the house cost. After 5 years’ occupancy there is option to purchase the land by the home-owner at original market value. This scheme prevents speculation in land and assists home ownership in controlled estate developments. Concessional interest rates are offered to first home-owners.
Let me take an example from New York State, which has 2 organisations engaged in financing rental housing: The Urban Development Corporation and the New York State Housing Finance Agency. Both concentrate on rental activities. The Urban Development Corporation finances low income rental projects. The Housing Finance Agency lends up to 95 per cent of the mortgage value of the development scheme to private developers. These developers cater for occupants who can pay the rents necessary to liquidate all taxes, operating and debt service costs. They receive the loans on the condition that the rents they charge are well below market level. Thus entrepreneurs gain the advantage of public financing, keeping their rents down to agreed levels. The Housing Finance Agency has functioned without a single default among the 107 commercial housing developments which it has financed since 1 960.
We want honourable senators and the Australian public to see that we are breaking out of the cold ring of officialdom in housing. We are going to harness the financial resources of the public sector to encourage the creation by private enterprise of high-quality estates. Through their activity and imagination entrepreneurs will earn just, but moderate, profits. We do not have a monopoly of ideas, and we appeal to the builders and developers of Australia to come to us with their proposals over a wide area. In some cases, for example, we may provide the land, in others entrepreneurs may develop their land to our standards. We promise one thing: We will avoid excessive control and bureaucracy.
To come to the detailed provisions of the Bill: The Corporation, as I have said, will be primarily a lending institution. It takes over the responsibilities of the Director of Defence Service Homes, which will be continued without diminution. In addition, so far as it can within its resources, the Corporation will make housing loans available to families, using the family allowance provisions in the Australian Consitution, and it will also make loans to those other specific categories of home-seekers for whom the Australian Government has a constitutional responsibility. These may include, if the Government so decides, persons living in the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory, migrants, students, Aboriginals and persons engaged in work for the Australian Government. It is not a comprehensive list, but it will enable us to do a great deal of work in supplementing the activities of other lending authorities.
The Corporation will have powers similar to those at present contained in the Defence Service Homes Act, including the powers of construction. But at present we do not see it as a major constructor, lt will be able to provide housing assistance to persons other than eligible exservicemen, much in the same way as homes are provided to ex-servicemen under the defence service homes scheme. In those cases where construction resources are required to give effect to new housing initiatives by the Government, as may happen at times in the future with housing for serving members of the forces, the Corporation would utilise the existing resources of the Department of Housing and Construction, or by arrangement those of State Government authorities and the private sector.
The Corporation will be granted a large measure of financial autonomy. The Bill provides for the Corporation to operate the Defence Service Homes Scheme from the date the Act comes into operation, so that it will have a large revolving fund. The Bill requires that all other forms of housing assistance to be provided by the Housing Corporation shall be in accordance with regulations to be made under the authority of this legislation. The Parliament will have full control of each extension of its activities. For example, the Corporation will have a power to acquire land, but any proposals to acquire land for a specific development purpose would need to be in accordance with regulations made for that purpose.
As a matter of general policy the corporation would not seek to compete with government or private enterprise in land purchase and in all its actions will be concerned to keep land prices to a minimum. There will be close co-operation between the Minister for Housing and Construction and the Ministers for Urban and Regional Development and Services and Property on these questions. The Corporation would purchase land on its own account only to the extent that land required for its programs was not available from land commissions or their equivalents in the States. The capital of the Corporation will consist of assets taken over from the Director of Defence Service Homes, together with any amounts paid to it by the Treasurer out of moneys appropriated by Parliament for its purposes. The first payment will be the amount of $25m which has been specifically included in the Budget for the purposes of the Corporation.
I hope that speedy passage of the Bill will ensure that we spend the 1 974-75 budgetary allocation” before 30 June. So as to provide a further stimulus to the building industry it would be appropriate to begin with a second mortgage scheme designed to cover the major cost of land for selected young newly married couples. To ensure a business approach we are setting up the new body as a statutory corporation, which means moving people from the Public Service to a new independent employer. The rights of officers to be transferred to the statutory corporation are covered by the Officers’ Rights Declaration Act, and although this Act does not as it stands fully protect the rights of officers in this situation, the Government plans very soon to amend the Act. So we do not intend to absorb the above-mentioned staff into the Corporation until such time as the Officers’ Rights Declaration Act has been amended to deal with such a situation in a better way. There is no intention of transferring technical staff in any significant number to the Corporation, though, in due course, it will obtain from whatever source it can a nucleus of highly competent technical staff who can give a sound lead in housing practice.
This Housing Corporation is the first fruit of a great process of rethinking about housing and related matters which is now under way, the first since the Curtin Government’s 1943 Commonwealth Housing Commission. The Prime Minister has initiated a far-ranging review of national housing policy by the Priorities Review Staff in which the Department of Housing and Construction and other departments are collaborating. The Minister for Housing and Construction is engaged in the preparation of a green paper on all aspect of housing policy, and he hopes to present it to the House before the end of the present sittings. The Government has assisted the Australian Council of Social Services and its daughter organisation ‘Shelter’ with a grant of $50,000 to undertake a grass-roots examination of housing policy as it affects the people at large. This process of examination is to go on throughout the first two-thirds of this year, and will culminate in the ‘Shelter’ groups and ACOSS joining in a plenary housing conference. That conference will be organised jointly by the Australian Institute of Urban Studies and the Department of Housing and Construction. The Australian Institute of Urban Studies will appoint a task force to review the results of the grass-roots discussions, and hopefully to present to the public and the Government recommendations distilled from those discussions. This way we will get an amalgam of what might be called the gutfeelings of the people and the views of the experts. 1 believe we are well on the way to correcting the recent low level of activity in the building industry both by releasing more money for lending and by giving unprecedented amounts for State housing authorities. As honourable senators know, we have initiated a massive inflow of capital into the industry.
Recently the Minister for Housing and Construction presided over the first meeting of the Housing Indicative Planning Council, which we hope will enable government and industry to undertake successful joint forward-planning.
Australia’s Federal Government has always lacked its own general vehicle for housing policy, which could step in when all else fails. A perfect vehicle cannot be fashioned while federal powers in this field remain fragmentary. But I am confident that the vision and hope which have gone into the creation of this Australian Housing Corporation will result in a much more constructive approach to housing in Australia.
Debate (on motion by Senator Greenwood) adjourned.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Webster) I inform the Senate that I have received the following message from the House of Representatives:
The House of Representatives transmits to the Senate a copy of a Message from His Excellency the Administrator recommending an amendment in the Bill intituled ‘A Bill for an Act to limit further the matters in which Special Leave of
Appeal from the High Court of Australia to Her Majesty in Council may be asked ‘, together with a copy of the said Bill as forwarded by the Speaker to the Administrator for Assent, and acquaints the Senate that the House of Representatives has agreed to the amendment recommended by His Excellency the Administrator in this Bill, with which it desires the concurrence of the Senate.
G. D. SCHOLES Speaker
Motion (by Senator James McClelland) agreed to:
That the message be considered forthwith in the Committee of the Whole.
– I understand that copies of the message from the House of Representatives and from His Excellency the Administrator have been circulated to all honourable senators. The amendment recommended by His Excellency is as follows:
Clause 3, omit ‘court’ and substitute ‘a court’.
– I move:
The message received from His Excellency the Administrator was sent to the House of Representatives on the advice of the Government. It invokes a procedure under section 58 of the Constitution that has been used only on rare occasions. We are straying into a rarely frequented byway tonight. Section 58 of the Constitution provides, amongst other things, that when a proposed law passed by both Houses of the Parliament is presented to the GovernorGeneral for the Queen ‘s assent he may return the proposed law to the House in which it originated and may transmit therewith any amendment which he may recommend and the House may deal with the recommendation. This procedure affords a method of correcting minor errors that may be found in a Bill after it has been passed by both Houses and before it has been assented to. The Administrator’s message on this occasion deals with such a minor error that has been discovered in the Privy Council (Appeals from the High Court) Bill 1975. The error consists of the omission of the indefinite article ‘a’ before the word ‘court’ in clause 3 of the Bill. In spite of the minor nature of the error the Government considers that, in view of the constitutional significance of the Bill, it is important that it should express exactly the intention of the Government. I therefore recommend the amendment to the Senate.
By way of explanation I point out that clause 3 of the Bill will prevent the asking of special leave to appeal to the Privy Council from certain decisions of the High Court. Broadly speaking these are decisions in matters of State law. However, the concluding words of the clause are intended to exempt from its operation any decision of the High Court which was given in a proceeding which was commenced in a State court before the date of commencement of the Act. The clause as passed by both Houses refers to a proceeding which was ‘commenced in court’ before that date. The reference should be to a proceeding which was ‘commenced in a court’ before that date. This may seem a pettifogging matter but lawyers are accustomed to the fact that great litigation can turn on the omission or the inclusion of one word. The expression used in the Bill as passed is thought to be somewhat uncertain in its meaning. It could be read as referring to the commencement of the appeal proceeding in the High Court whereas it is intended to refer to the commencement of the original proceeding in a court of a State. Another possible reading of the expression in the Bill is that it refers to the commencement of the hearing of a proceeding whereas the intention is to refer to the commencement of the proceeding by the writ or other originating process. I add that the amendment now proposed will bring the clause into line with a similar provision in section 3 sub-item (2) of the Privy Council (Limitation of Appeals) Act 1968. For these reasons I recommend the amendment to the House.
– The Opposition supports the proposal which has been put forward by the Minister for Manufacturing Industry (Senator James McClelland). By way of comment I make only 2 points. Having regard to the fact that attention has been drawn to the drafting deficiencies one hopes that the correction will be adequate. I was a little concerned when the Minister said that the clause was capable of meaning a court of a State. That was the way in which we hoped it would be interpreted. I suggest that it may have been better to have said: ‘In a court of a State’. But that has not been done by the House of Representatives. I do not think it is incumbent upon the Opposition in this case to interfere more than is necessary with government legislation.
The second point I make is that this is an interesting exercise in learning. Without going into details I refer the Senate to an answer given by the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) to question No. 492 in Hansard of 13 November 1973 in response to a question which I asked. I assure the
Senate that this is the twelfth occasion since Federation that the Governor-General or the Administrator has referred a matter back to the House of Parliament for correction. Parliament might take some consolation from the fact that it is 28 years since the last occasion occurred. Unquestionably it appears that the draftsman is either getting more exact or that the GovernorGeneral or the Administrator is not taking the care which he once took. On 13 December 1973 in response to question No. 563 the Prime Minister made a statement which I think is informative as to the way in which this power is exercised. He stated: . . the power of the Governor-General under section 58 of the Constitution to return a Bill with a recommendation for amendments is a power that the Governor-General exercises on the advice of his Ministers. The occasions when this advice is given are occasions when it becomes apparent to the Government, after a Bill has been passed by both Houses, that a further amendment to the Bill is desirable, for example by reasons of an error in the Bill. In the circumstances, of course, the amendments are supported by the Government in the House to which the Bill is returned. There do not appear to be any instances where the GovernorGeneral’s recommendation has not resulted from ministerial advice. I am informed that the information sought by the honourable senator is:
Then he set out the details of what the amendments were with regard to each of the 1 1 prior occasions. I rise only to say that this is a piece of esoteric learning on one of those rare occasions that one of the often unreferred to provisions of the Constitution has been utilised, and I think it is only proper that we should not let the occasion pass without a mention of it. The Opposition supports what the Minister has said.
Amendment agreed to.
Resolution reported; report adopted.
Debate resumed from 26 February on motion by Senator Wriedt:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
-The Bill which is before the Senate is a Bill the second reading of which the Opposition will not oppose. It is known that in the Committee stages an amendment will be moved to give accord to a view which the Opposition has long insisted upon in this chamber. Apart from that provision, the general contents of the Bill do not arouse opposition. We shall not oppose the second reading.
– I am grateful that the Opposition indicates that it does not oppose the second reading.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Proposed new Part IV- Restoration of Oath or Affirmation of Allegiance.
Schedule 1 (Schedules to be Inserted in the Public Service Act).
– The Opposition moves an amendment in the terms circulated, a copy of which, with some suggested alterations, I hand to the Clerk. I move:
The purpose of the amendment is to add a new Part, namely, the Restoration of the Oath or Affirmation of Allegiance. I say very shortly that the Opposition believes that the position which existed in the Public Service statutes from 1922 to 1973 should continue. That position was that all members of the Commonwealth Public Service were required to make and subscribe an oath or affirmation of allegiance. It is proper that public servants do make an oath or affirmation of allegiance. It indicates a vocation and a duty flowing from that vocation which is higher than the duty attaching to other offices. It is proper that the service of the nation should evoke that type of response. The oath or affirmation of allegiance is conducive to patriotism, to loyalty and to the development of a sense of nationalism and pride in country. If one looks to the Government for a reason why the oath or affirmation is being removed from the legislation, we have not been given any reason why it should be removed.
The short history of the matter is this: In 1973 the Government introduced legislation which contained a number of amendments. One of the amendments was the removal of this oath or affirmation of allegiance. The Opposition opposed it in the House of Representatives, and naturally did not have the numbers to carry its amendment. In the Senate the Opposition was proposing to do the same, but by the time the Bill came before the Senate the House of Representatives had risen and it was accepted by the Opposition that to delay the Bill, with its benefits, would be to work a hardship. Therefore the Opposition acceded to the Government’s request to let the Bill pass and to utilise an opportunity which the Government would provide in early 1974 for an amendment to reinstitute the oath or affirmation of allegiance. In early 1974 a Bill was introduced and the opportunity was taken by the Opposition to insert the oath or affirmation of allegiance.
– In the Senate?
– In the Senate; but it was not persisted with, because the Government said again: ‘This is not the best vehicle in which to do it. We will provide another Bill later in the year.’ So the Opposition once again acceded to the Government’s request. The third occasion was the introduction of the Public Service Acts Amendment Bill in the latter part of 1974. To that Bill the Opposition moved its amendment and it was successful in the Senate. The Bill went back to the House of Representatives and when the matter was debated in that House the Government removed the clause which we had put into the Bill. The Bill came back to the Senate and the Houses are deadlocked. The Government introduced this Bill into the House of Representatives, excluding from its provisions any mention of the oath or affirmation of allegiance. It now comes to the Senate, and the Opposition believes that it should go back, for the reasons that we believe the oath or affirmation should never have been removed, should be included, and in all the circumstances would never have been removed but for our agreement, as an act of indulgence, to what the Government had asked.
Very shortly expressed, those are the reasons why we take this stand. We do so because we want to make it quite clear that the Opposition’s view of the standing and the position of the Public Service is that it is such that there should be an oath or affirmation of allegiance, as there always has been since 1922. I might advert to the fact that there was some comment in the House of
Representatives that the amendment as drafted might have required every member of the Commonwealth Public Service to have again taken an oath or affirmation. Whatever be the merits of that argument, in the amendment we have moved here there is a short provision which would ensure that it is intended to apply only to those who have become members of the Public Service since December 1973. We therefore propose the amendment.
That the proposed new Part and the amendment to Schedule I (Senator Greenwood’s amendment) be agreed to.
The Committee divided. (The Chairman- Senator J. J. Webster)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill, as amended, agreed to.
Bill reported with amendment; report adopted.
Bill (on motion by Senator Wriedt) read a third time.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Ordered that the Bill may be taken through all its stages without delay.
Bill (on motion by Senator Douglas McClelland) read a first time.
– I move:
I seek leave to have my second reading speech incorporated in Hansard.
-Is leave granted? There being no dissent, leave is granted. (The speech read as follows)-
This Bill and the accompanying Appropriation Bill (No. 4), which I shall shortly introduce, seek appropriations of the Consolidated Revenue Fund for the services specified in the Schedule to each Bill. Appropriations totalling approximately $110m- $70.6m in Bill (No. 3) and $39.7m in Bill (No. 4)-are sought to cover expenditures up to 30 June 1 975 resulting from the Darwin cyclone.
In addition, appropriations amounting to $225,260,000 are sought to give effect to the arrangements agreed upon at the Premiers’ Conference on 14 February for the provision of additional funds to the States to assist employment and to meet certain other commitments for financial assistance to the States, particularly in respect of welfare housing, the Tasman Bridge and other disasters. The provisions for these purposes are included in Bill (No. 4). The Bills also include provisions for a number of other items for which funds additional to those appropriated by Appropriation Acts (Nos 1 and 2) are required in advance of the normal additional estimates Bills which we expect to bring before the Parliament, as usual, early in April.
The cyclone which struck Darwin in the early hours of Christmas morning largely demolished the city. Honourable senators will be aware that the Minister for the Northern Territory (Dr Patterson) gave very full details of the extent of the damage and losses and the resulting problems when he introduced the Darwin Reconstruction
Bill into the House of Representatives on 1 1 February 1975.
The Government moved quickly to meet the situation. The then Acting Prime Minister visited Darwin on Boxing Day and as a result of what he saw there he authorised the use of all resources at the disposal of the Government for the relief of the city, the evacuation of the majority of its population, the provision of services to care for the evacuees and for the cleaning up of the city and the restoration of essential services. The Natural Disasters Organisation and the Defence Force, the Departments of the Northern Territory, Housing and Construction, Social Security, Manufacturing Industry, and elements of other departments all contributed to the relief operations. I take this opportunity of recording the Government’s appreciation of the tremendous effort on the part of all concerned.
The normal processes of administration in Darwin were seriously disrupted by the cyclone. Because of this, the amounts included in these Bills for many of the items of expenditure in respect of the cyclone up to 30 June 1975 are very broad estimates only. Nor can we be confident that all of the expenditures that need to be the subject of appropriations have yet been clearly identified. Accordingly, contingency provisions of $15m in Appropriation Bill (No. 3) and $l0m in Appropriation Bill (No. 4) are being sought. These contingency provisions would be available only for expenditures resulting from the Darwin Cyclone.
I now refer briefly to some of the more significant items of expenditure resulting from the cyclone for which appropriations are sought.
Special Benefit Payments -$3.5m
Persons who were evacuated from Darwin and those who remained were given an emergency cash payment equivalent to 2 weeks ‘ special benefit free of means test. From 9 January 1975 a similar type of payment was made to persons who qualified under a more liberal means test than normally applies to special benefit. From 6 February Darwin people residing in the southern States were entitled to receive special benefit subject to the normal means test conditions. An appropriation of $3.5m is sought for these payments.
Evacuation of Population- $3.5m
The sum sought in this item is to cover the cost of air charters for the massive air lift that was organised and to pay for fuel, tyres and essential repairs for the vehicles of self evacuated persons, and fares of evacuees between southern cities and country centres.
Repatriation of Population- $2.5m
The Government has undertaken to meet the cost of returning evacuees to Darwin at the appropriate time. This amount is specifically required to meet the return fares of nongovernment employees. Departments will meet the cost of returning their own employees.
Provision of Emergency Food Supplies
Under the state of emergency which existed it was necessary for foodstuffs to be issued to the population of Darwin.
Repairs and Maintenance- $26.7m
The Department of Housing and Construction proceeded promptly with the task of clearing the streets, restoring electric power, water supply and sewerage, and with repairs to buildings. Some of these were temporary repairs to enable shelter or working space to become quickly usable. Others were of a more substantial kind.
As an indication of what was achieved, the program for the restoration of public utilities envisaged that by day 35 water supply would be available to all areas requiring supply. That was achieved with very minor exceptions as was the restoration of sewerage facilities. It was planned to waterproof 1000 houses by day 35. Over 1400 houses plus 83 flats were repaired to this standard by then. Fifty per cent of major public buildings were to be waterproofed and temporarily repaired and this target was also achieved. All roads were cleared to permit traffic and all major roads were cleared fence-to-fence by 10 January.
The achievements reflect a magnificent effort by all concerned. There were very significant contributions by the Defence Force, repair gangs whose equipment included equipment lent by various State authorities and the trade unions’ Darwin volunteer aid program.
An amount of $2.1m is sought for Commonwealth Hostels for the operation of emergency facilities and the repair of existing hostels, and $1.96m for the cost of hiring the vessel ‘Patris’ to provide emergency accommodation. In addition, $15m is sought for the purchase of 1000 caravans and 400 demountable units.
Compensation for Surrendered Residential Titles
To facilitate the reconstruction program, owners will be encouraged to surrender titles to residential blocks. As a general rule, compensation will be paid for surrendered titles at precyclone values or the amount paid at auction, whichever the greater. An initial $Im to meet expected payments to 30 June is sought for this purpose.
Interim Darwin Reconstruction Commission and Darwin Reconstruction Commission
Provision of $ 100,000 is made for the administrative expenses of the Interim Commission and a further $100,000 for the Darwin Reconstruction Commission to be established under the Darwin Reconstruction Act. No appropriation is sought in the present Bills for the major reconstruction programs to be put in hand under the authority of the Commission as it is not expected that substantial funds will be required before 1 July 1975. Any requirements that do arise before then can be met from the special contingency fund for Darwin cyclone expenditures.
Compensation for Personal Injury and Death
Compensation for personal injury and death arising from the cyclone will be paid along the lines proposed in the National Compensation Bill 1974 which is currently before the Senate. An appropriation of $300,000 is sought for this purpose.
Loans to Small Businesses
Loans will be available to small businesses unable to obtain finance from normal sources to enable them to return to operation as soon as possible. These loans will be available through the Commonwealth Trading Bank and $lm is sought to enable advances to be made to the bank in the period up to 30 June 1 975.
Other Items Arising out of the Darwin Cyclone
Provision is made for the temporary location in Brisbane of some former Darwin based elements of the Department of the Northern Territory. Provision is also made for additional allowances to servicemen, members of the Police force on duty during the emergency, and for Darwin based public servants temporarily located in southern cities. Various departments have incurred specific additional administrative expenditures as a result of the cyclone. Additional appropriations have been sought under the relevant items.
Payments to the States
Appropriation Bill (No. 4) will authorise the provision of amounts aggregating $ 149.26m for payments to the States in 1974-75 to assist employment. This represents portion of a total amount of $240m additional funds for the States and their authorities which the Australian Government undertook to support following discussions at the Premiers’ Conference on 14 February. The remaining $90.74m of those funds is made up of an addition to the State Governments’ Loan Council borrowing programs of $40.74m and additional borrowing allocations for the States’ larger authorities totalling $50m, and is therefore not relevant to this Bill.
More specifically, the Bill provides for additional general revenue grants of $60m, additional capital grants (representing portion of the increases in the State Governments’ Loan Council programs) of $ 19.26m, additional grants of $30m for roads, and $40m for special employment purposes. All these funds are being provided on the basis of firm assurances by the States that they will be used in such a way that they have the greatest practicable effects in terms of employment within the remainder of this financial year. These funds will have a substantial effect in enabling the States to retain employees whose jobs would otherwise have been at risk and in enabling them to take on additional employees. Details of the amounts to be paid to each State are set out in the following table. This table also includes the distribution of additional amounts to be provided for welfare housing, to which I shall refer in a moment.
The roads grants will be subject to provisions of the National Roads Act 1974 and the Roads Grants Act 1974. The special employmentcreating grants will be subject to conditions of an appropriate kind, as agreed with the Premiers. The employment grants scheme will, of course, be in addition to the on-going regional employment development scheme, for which further funds are also being sought.
An additional $6 5 m is being provided for payment to the States for welfare housing activities under the 1973-74 housing agreement. Of this amount, $47m is for State housing authorities’ programs and $18m for disbursement through the home builders’ accounts to assist families of low and moderate incomes to acquire their own homes. With the additional $65m now provided, the total allocation to the States for welfare housing in 1974-75 will reach $375m, an increase of $156m over the 1973-74 allocation. An amount of $4m has also been included in Bill (No. 4) for additional housing loans in 1974-75 in the Australian Capital Territory.
Bill (No. 4) also authorises the provision of financial assistance of $6m for Tasmania in 1974-75 in connection with the disaster that occurred in Hobart on 5 January 1 975 when the Australian National Line’s bulk-ore carrier the Lake Illawarra’ hit the Tasman Bridge with consequent loss of life and serious damage to the bridge. The Australian Government has undertaken to meet the full costs incurred by the State and its authorities on agreed measures associated with or attributable to the bridge collapse, including assistance to the State in respect of the investigation of a proposal for a further permanent bridge across the Derwent River.
The Bill also provides for funds additional to those provided in the Appropriation Act (No. 2) 1974-75 to assist New South Wales and Victoria in meeting the cost of agreed natural disaster relief and restoration measures. The additional funds have been made necessary by damage caused by bushfires in the western region of New South Wales and by further flooding in various areas in Victoria.
I mentioned earlier that the Bills included provisions for a number of items, additional to the items relating to the Darwin cyclone and assistance to the States, for which further appropriations are required in advance of the normal additional estimates.
In Bill (No. 3), an additional $85m has been included for the regional employment development scheme which is designed to create employment opportunities in areas of relatively high unemployment. Already some 3000 projects to cost $76m have been approved under this scheme, and the Australian Government is committed to provide $60m in respect of these. These projects will provide employment for over 24 000 people, including more than 2 1 000 from the unemployed. Additional projects are being approved progressively. Emphasis is placed on projects which are able to be commenced promptly and completed in a reasonably short period.
The cost of income maintenance payments to individuals under the structural adjustment assistance scheme is expected to reach $69m by the end of 1974-75. Accordingly, provision has been made for an additional $57.2m in Bill (No. 3), Amounts of $6.2m for the national employment and training scheme (the NEAT scheme) and $7.85m for the national apprenticeship assistance scheme are required to supplement existing appropriations- the first because of an expected increase in the number of trainees under the scheme and the second as a result of the Government’s decision last month to increase significantly the subsidies payable to employers under the scheme and to pay a training bonus to employers who fail to qualify under the scheme but who take on apprentices.
An additional $4m is sought in respect of hostel accommodation for the aged. The increased requirement arises because of a greater number of applications for assistance than expected when the maximum capital grant was raised to $9,000 a unit following amendment of the Aged Persons Hostels Act in December. An additional $4.5 m is sought to meet the cost of providing nursing home and domiciliary nursing care for veterans.
There has been a marked improvement in 1974-75 in the rate of progress in the construction of housing and other capital facilities for the services. Thus, $8.07 lm is being sought for additional advances to the States for housing being erected for servicemen and $8.36 lm for other capital facilities being constructed by the Department of Housing and Construction. An amount of $19. 5m is being provided for the purchase for Defence purposes of the Leyland site at Waterloo in Sydney.
Among the remaining amounts included in Bill (No. 3) are a number which are needed because of the effect of the devaluation of the Australian dollar on the value in other currencies of amounts appropriated for payments overseas. The amount of $4.4m sought for food aid is one such item.
There is also a number of other particular items for which amounts of additional funds are sought. These include a payment of $2m to the medical research endowment fund and contributions to the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research and to the Howard Florey Institute of Experimental Physiology and Medicine ($500,000 each); $1. lm for the Department of Labor and Immigration for additional staff; $ 1.35m for the Australian Film Corporation; $723,000 for the Interim Committee for the Children ‘s Commission; $650,000 for additional staff for members and senators; $500,000 for grants to eligible organisations under the Handicapped Children (Assistance) Act; $537,000 for Expo 75 at Okinawa; $ 1 m subsidies on ship construction; and amounts of $6.2m and $5.3m for the Australian Capital Territory and Northern Territory education services respectively for additions to staff establishments and other increased costs.
In Bill (No. 4) an amount of $ 18.57m is sought for the Australian Coastal Shipping Commission. This is required to finance the purchases of ships and to meet unforeseen changes in the amounts and timing of commitments such as the salvaging of the ‘Lake Illawarra’ and the effects of the devaluation of the Australian dollar. An amount of $lm is also sought for expenditure under the River Murray Waters Act.
It will be clear from the nature of the items included in these Bills that the granting of these appropriations could not be referred until the time of the normal additional estimates. They need to be dealt with expeditiously. I commend the Bill to honourable senators.
– With the approval of the Senate I propose to deal with this matter directly but before I do I mention to the Minister that there is another Bill to follow this which it may be better to present before I begin.
– I suggest that Senator Cotton move the adjournment of the debate on Appropriation Bill (No. 3) till a later hour this day so that I may introduce Appropriation Bill (No. 4). Then, with the permission of the Senate, we can debate the 2 Bills cognately.
Debate (on motion by Senator Cotton) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Ordered that the Bill may be taken through all its stages without delay.
Bill (on motion by Senator Douglas McClelland) read a first time.
– I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time. 1 seek leave to have the contents of the second reading speech incorporated in Hansard.
-Is leave granted? There being no dissent, leave is granted. (The speech read as follows)-
This Bill seeks appropriations of the Consolidated Revenue Fund totalling $288,572,000 for the services outlined in my second reading speech on the introduction of Appropriation Bill (No. 3) 1974-75. 1 commend the Bill to honourable senators.
- Mr President, it is my assumption that subject to the various rulings from the Chair, the Standing Orders and advice from my colleagues, I may now take these 2 Bills together and deal with them in a cognate fashion. Then they can be debated by other senators as time goes on. Is that correct?
– I understand that to be the position.
-When one looks at the second reading speeches on these 2 Bills one is rather impressed by the fairly messy character of the second reading speech on Appropriation Bill (No. 3) 1974-75. In no way is the issue between the 2 appropriate areas of expenditure carefully enough delineated with a view to the elucidation by the Senate in its normal practice and rules of the areas of expenditure, some of which may be amended and some of which may not be amended. I hope that the Senate will feel itself able to direct some of its attention to this matter as it proceeds through their examination. The 2 Bills together are to provide a total of $600,979,000 between now and 30 June 1975.
That is quite a lot of money. In round figures, it is $60 lm. This money is to be spent principally for itemised purposes. Darwin reconstruction and help takes $110m; payments to the States for varying purposes including unemployment relief and housing amount to $239.7m; the Regional Employment Development scheme takes $85m; the allocation for structural adjustment takes $57.2m; the purchase of the Leyland factory site will cost $ 19.5m; coastal shipping will account for $ 18.57m; housing in general will take $20.93m and the National Employment and Training scheme and the apprenticeship scheme will take $ 14.05m, making a total of about $565m for these various assigned purposes. I will deal in the broad with the general matter of the Appropriation Bills in their context at this time but other honourable members may wish to examine them in more particular detail as the debate proceeds in the Senate Committee of the Whole.
I have been looking at some of these issues in the light of the Senate’s position, ability and powers. I am very conscious of the fact that the Senate is indebted to a very important report which was put together on an earlier occasion by Senator Sir Magnus Cormack, Senator Wright, the late Senator Mackellar and Senator Dame Ivy Wedgewood. It is entitled ‘A Report from the Committee appointed by Government senators on Appropriation Bills and the Ordinary Annual Services of the Government’. It dealt with this matter of where the Senate’s authority in regard to appropriation and money Bills lay. I believe that in the context of the Australian scene we are now dealing with, the elucidation and clarification of this matter is of great importance. Accordingly, I have asked my colleague, Senator Sir Magnus Cormack, and I hope Senator Wright might join later, to make sure for us in the light of their knowledge where the Senate ‘s powers in these matters begin and end. As I read the report put together by these honourable gentlemen, it was stated in their recommendations:
It is recommended that the foregoing division of expenditure be given effect in three annual Appropriation Bills, as follows:
I interpolate to say that is the general principle. These are supplementary Appropriation Bills but they form part of a total appropriation at the end. The report continues:
I construct that to be the position at present although it is not as clear as I would like to see it in supplementary Appropriation Bill (No. 3).
Construction of public works and buildings;
Acquisition of sites and buildings;
Plant and equipment, being single items of $50,000 or more.
That would seem to me to form part of Appropriation Bill (No. 4), although that in itself is not totally clear.
Grants for financial assistance to the States under section 96 of the Constitution (other than the special appropriations authorised by special legislation);
New policies not authorised by special legislation;
Any other appropriations for services which Parliament, from time to time, decides are not for the ordinary annual services of the Government.
I turn to that notable work by Mr J. R. Odgers who deals also with this matter exhaustively and very helpfully. He decides in that work that it is clear that there will be a separate Bill, subject to amendment by the Senate, containing appropriations for expenditure on:
I rather believe, after looking at this matter, that we are starting to see more confusion in the delineation of these supplementry appropriations than those particular references would lead me to believe is quite proper. I would like some help on this from my learned friends on my side of the Senate chamber who were part of that original construction and also from the Senate as a whole. I have a very clear view of the Senate’s responsibilities in this total matter. These are supplementary appropriations. They request extra sums of money for special purposes between now and June. They are not being examined by the Senate by way of Senate Estimates Committees at this stage, but the Opposition has a clear view that they are to be examined in due course when the other supplementary estimates referred to in the second reading speech of the Minister for the Media (Senator Douglas McClelland), due to come before the Parliament in early April, are provided to us. When they are presented we will have, as far as I can see from the Minister’s second reading speech, the full body of extra supplementary expenditure for appropriation which will take place between now and the end of June.
When they come in, bulked with these, they ought to be examined by the Senate Estimates Committees. I would hope that would be the case.
Looking at the Senate as an institution and its financial powers, I believe that we ought to regard ourselves continuously as an inspecting House of Parliament. This is a function that I conceive for the Senate. I believe that it has always been so but it has tended to become more so. The view that I hold in the Australian scene is that over the years this will become increasingly so- not the originating financial House but the inspecting House; in addition, a checking House. Of course, concurrently with that it is a general review House in which senators might be prepared to take a longer view of economic and monetary policies.
- Senator Sir Magnus Cormack thinks that should be done in the House of Representatives.
– I am not so sure that he does, but perhaps at a later time tomorrow Senator Sir Magnus Cormack will be able to elucidate the situation for himself. I rather feel that he may share my view. The House of Representatives originates expenditure but I do not think he would be prepared to abate the Senate’s responsibility to check and inspect. If he were prepared to abate that, I think he would owe me a luncheon at some appropriate time.
– I think that Senator McAuliffe is referring to an observation that I made in a Committee of both Houses.
-I did not have the privilege of being there, but I am quite sure that Senator Sir Magnus Cormack will add to the scene at an appropriate time. 1 should like to have the benefit of his advice and the advice of Senator Wright on this matter which to me is extraordinarily important in the Australian constitutional scene.
- Senator Wright has been known to change his mind like he did on the Constitutional Review Committee. You are gambling with a very weak horse.
-I am quite sure that it will be for me to judge whether Senator Wright’s advice is more preferable to me than that of certain other people. It will not be a difficult decision for me because I know now that I prefer Senator Wright’s advice. We are engaging in this debate at a time when the current Federal Treasurer (Dr J. F. Cairns) is reported to have said that the current recession is the worst for half a century. That is some performance, is it not, for a government that has been in office for 2 years? It took over a stable, prosperous, profitable and growing country to achieve in a couple of years, in the Treasurer’s own words, the worst recession in half a century. The Senate ought to be looking at expenditures and at the expenditure pattern because of the self-confessed mess into which the current Government has taken us. I suppose that it would be fair to say that we have not seen for quite a long time a government quite so incompetent and extravagant as this Government. I hope that we never do again.
– Did not Dr Cairns say that it would get worse?
-I believe he did, but I am trying to be generous to him because I understand that he does not know much about the subject and obviously is not learning very fast. One of the problems in the Australian scene is the very massive deficit financing that is being engaged in by the current Government. Let us look at the record of the last Budget: An estimated deficit of $570m; a corrected deficit, after 6 months at the end of December 1974, of $ 1 ,850m; an estimate in February of this year by the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) after the Premiers Conference of an approaching new deficit of $2,500m. The best projection of the future position that people can make is a deficit of approximately $3,500m. There is no doubt at all that one looks at the Australian scene in the context that the Budget without doubt has failed. When one looks at a failed budget the Government must say to itself as a group of people in a responsible financial position, which I believe it is, that it has a greater need to inspect, check and review than ever it may have had previously because the deficits may accumulate in 2 years to $6,000m. That order of extravagance, overexpenditure and profligacy might bring this country to its knees if it is not watched very carefully. The Budget speech in September of last year closed with this observation:
The Budget, together with our other policies, is designed to make the best of things as they are in the world today- to maintain employment opportunities and to protect those who most need protection from the ravages of inflation.
We are not looking at a group of people who have demonstrated any great capacity to do anything really well in the economic or monetary scene. When looking at the Australian scene, as I believe we ought to be doing, what we really have is a government that has redistributed, in a most extravagant fashion, wealth that was previously created. It is not creating new wealth. As far as one can judge, there was no observation in the last Budget Speech of any target for economic growth. The best evidence which is available at the moment is that we are in a negative growth phase which is, maybe, approximately 2 per cent to 5 per cent minus. The real problem for us all in Australia is somehow to persuade the Australian community and its governments, including ourselves, to get our total demands in a reasonable relationship with the ability of the Australian people and society to provide resources. In the Budget Speech last year there was this fascinating comment:
We must maintain control over total demand to prevent excessive demand pressures emerging again.
That statement was made in the context that the Budget deficit grew from $5 70m to $2,500m. If ever there was a need for an Upper House, a Senate, to be a checker and inspector of expenditures and finance and to be quite clear where its authority lies, that need is present now. We in this place have longer tenures of office, subject to the ravages of fortune, than normally would members of Parliament, so we must be prepared to balance what society requires today against tomorrow and what it may bring to us if we overstrain or over-stress ourselves. The restraining of total extravagance is an important exercise. It is a simple matter: We cannot have everything. That expression always sounds like a truism, but it is true for countries and it is true for people. If we try to put down a total demand that is well in excess of resources we get exactly what is happening, which is that inflation checks the accounts and we come back to a particular situation.
I believe that in the current scene we are seeing reflation carried to excessive levels. I am disturbed about the expansion of the current money supply. If we look at the current position we will see, on the conservative side, a rate of growth in the money supply, from October 1974 to June 1975, which is above 30 per cent in annual terms. Without any doubt at all that will produce in due course another round of accelerated inflation on top of that which we now have. People have made other assumptions that money supply expansion is running at the rate of 50 per cent. The only figures for which I can really vouch are the checkable ones and they seem to be more accurately based at 30 per cent. Without any doubt, deficits of that magnitude must add massively to an inflationary scene. Honeyed words, nice comment and the gathering of some odd professor from a strange place to give a blessing to what one is doing will not overcome the sheer fact of life that Australia under its current economic management is in a state of monetary and economic danger and potential disaster, and that the course upon which we have embarked is even more dangerous. I would like to give an illustration.
We have a money supply expansion of approximately 30 per cent. We trade a great deal with Japan; it is our principal trading partner. Japan has a growth rate between 4.7 per cent and 5 per cent. We have a negative growth rate of 5 per cent. So the relativity between us is 10 per cent. To reduce its rate of inflation from 26 per cent to approximately 1 5 per cent, which I believe it will achieve, Japan must maintain the expansion of its money supply at about the rate of the growth of the gross domestic product, which is about 5 per cent per annum. In contrast with that trading partner we have a negative growth rate of 5 per cent and our money supply is expanding by 30 per cent. Without any doubt at all we will rue this day if we do not have a damned good look at this problem to see where we are all headed.
– It is anxious to debauch the economy.
– What I am worried about is that in the Australian economic and monetary scene we have a situation, which is partly developed and is developing further, in which the currency of the country may be destroyed and the savings of the people will be rendered practically worthless. This matter has reached a point with me that I will be regarded as making political comment. I assure the Senate that I am not. In this situation profitability will come to nothing. Investment will slow down and unemployment inevitably, sadly and tragically will continue to grow. The Treasurer’s own publication has stated that in February the rate of unemployment was 5’/4 per cent. In the Budget Speech, as reported at page 1275 of Hansard, the Treasurer stated:
The Government is not prepared deliberately to create a level of 4 or 5 per cent, or perhaps even higher unemployment.
But that is what has happened. The Government has one of two problems. Either it does not know what it is doing or it is doing things deliberately. Either way, this Government is putting the people into a situation of very acute embarrassment and danger. We all know what has happened. There have been continuing changes of economic policy. There has been massive confusion and change of direction. Money supply was decreased. Then it was increased. It was decreased again with the credit squeeze. Now it is being increased again. Both the declines and rises were excessive. Interest rates went up. Now they are coming down. Tariffs were off and were on again. Quotas came off and went on. Imports were up and imports were down. The uncertainty and confusion that this has produced has led to a lack of investment which is leading to the unfortunate unemployment which worries everybody who has any feelings at all for his country.
I conclude fairly briefly by saying that I am of a very clear view. The Senate will have an increasing responsibility to inspect and check the expenditures of this Government. I believe this Government is endangering Australia, its currency and its economy. When one looks at the situation, basically one can say this: The popular House, the House of Representatives, because of the expectation build-up and its short term characteristic, is likely to be the House which will give away money. The Senate therefore must show some restraint and some balance in the total scene. We must do what we can as a responsible body of people to provide a proper check on the extravagance of the current Government and those who want to give away the people’s money unnecessarily.
– I direct myself primarily to Appropriation Bill (No. 4) because it is the Bill which contains the appropriation to implement the Australian Government’s promise to Tasmania to assist it in a very material and generous way in relation to the damage caused by the Tasman Bridge disaster of 5 January this year.
– Surely as it was a Commonwealth ship that knocked the bridge down the Commonwealth ought to put it back up again.
-Senator Townley interjects because these proceedings are being broadcast, and that perhaps -
– That is why you are speaking.
– I am speaking because I wanted to speak on this Bill and I was asked to speak. I ask Senator Townley to contrast the generous treatment provided by the Federal Government in this case with what happened in 1967 in relation to the bush fires. I do not think any detail is necessary. When the bridge disaster occurred on the night of 5 January the response of the Australian Government was immediate and generous. In the course of the next few days communications were received from the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam), who at that time was overseas, and visits were made by the Acting Prime Minister, Dr Cairns, the Minister for transport, Mr Jones, and the Minister for Defence, Mr Barnard, who spent several days in Tasmania consulting with the Tasmanian Government. The result is the first provision towards the sum of $13m, which is not a final figure, contained in this Bill.
I want to refer to the misstatement of the Opposition in the House of Representatives in relation to what the Australian Government was doing. The honourable member for Flinders, Mr Lynch, said that so far as Tasmania was concerned the purpose of this appropriation was to fund the rebuilding of the Tasman Bridge. That puts the matter far too narrowly. Both the Treasurer (Dr J. F. Cairns) in the House of Representatives and the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Wriedt) properly expressed the arrangement that has been made between the Australian Government and the Tasmanian Government in these words:
The Australian Government has undertaken to meet the full costs incurred by the State and its authorities on agreed measures associated with or attributable to the bridge collapse, including assistance to the state in respect of the investigation of a proposal for a further permanent bridge across the Derwent River.
I shall refer to that in a moment. I did not intend referring to this matter but since Senator Townley seems very vocal let me remind him that towards the end of last year a momentous event took place so far as the Opposition Parties were concerned. They appointed a shadow Minister for Tasmania. I regret to say that from all the inquiries I have made over a long period of weeks it has not been able to be established that the Liberal shadow Minister for Tasmania showed the slightest concern in relation to that supreme tragedy that happened on the night of 5 January.
– Who is the shadow Minister?
– Who is he? He is a member from New South Wales. One of the good things that I hope will come out of the tragedy will be the construction, much earlier than otherwise would have happened, of a second bridge across the Derwent. I do not think there would be any dispute that this is a form of communication which is badly needed. It was therefore refreshing to Tasmanians on 24 January of this year to read the joint statement of the Premier of Tasmania, Mr Reece, and of the Deputy Prime Minister, Dr Cairns, which indicated that a joint expert ad hoc body would be established in order to plan a second bridge, to determine the location of it and to determine the type. That body has since been set up and the lastest public announcement that I read in relation to it was that it was expected to report within 3 months.
It seemed to those who took an interest in this practical matter that it was essential that agreement be reached at a very early stage between the Tasmanian Government and the Australian Government with respect to the location of a second bridge and the type of bridge. Before the announcement of 24 January there had already developed political disputation in relation to both the type and location of the bridge. That political disputation was destroyed by the announcement of the Tasmanian Premier and of the Deputy Prime Minister of Australia. One would hope that within the declared time of not more than 3 months southern Tasmanians will know what is proposed in relation to a second bridge, .the funding of which virtually has been promised as the responsibility of the Australian Government. That is one good thing that I hope will come out of this disaster.
The aid promised in this Bill is aid of a financial kind. It is material aid. The point I want to stress to the Senate tonight is that from mixing with those affected, from talking with those affected and those who try to help those affected, it is clear that the predominant problems of the residents in the area affected are not essentially materia] or financial but personal. They involve human emotions; they involve human happiness; and they involve the quality of life of some 35,000 men, women and children in or near the affected area. Their life style has been extremely affected. Their employment has been affected. Their domestic situation has been affected. Their social relations have been affected. In nearly every way in which human beings express themselves in life some effect is apparent. The situation is very different from that of the bush fires of 1967. In 1967 the situation got progressively better immediately after the fires had ceased. But in this case the situation must, for a long time I am afraid, get progressively worse. That realisation has caused me to consult with medical authorities who are in touch with persons affected. The point that these medical authorities have made to me is this: In the first place they say that in any community at any time when things are normal about 15 per cent of people suffer from emotional disorder to some degree sufficient to produce symptoms such as anxiety, mood changes, insomnia and a variety of bodily complaints, but only a very small proportion of that 15 per cent reaches a degree of severity in which special care is necessary. When one adds to that potentiality the effect on some 35 000 persons of the complete disruption of their lives because of this disaster one has a much greater area of difficulty.
We would be blinding ourselves if we thought that the mere provision of funds is a sufficient or full solution to the problems that eastern shore residents face. Medical authorities with whom I have conferred advise me that a number of short term effects are already apparent from the situation. By short term the authorities mean up to 3 months. The short terms effects have been listed by medical authorities with whom I have conferred under 3 main headings. The first is a perceived feeling of threat of isolation leading to apprehension producing depression among the passive and irritability and aggression among the more psychoactive. Secondly, a result which is already apparent in certain cases is paranoia in which every disability consequent upon the altered life style of a number of those people is perceived as a further threat to the individual’s ability to function. The third pretty obvious result is physical fatigue and reduced work performance.
– Are these Tasmanians to whom you are referring?
– Of course 1 am referring to some of the people on the eastern shore.
– You are giving the impression that Tasmanians are a queer form of marsupial.
-Senator Wright’s inane interjection just shows how ignorant he is of what has really happened. The Shadow Minister for Tasmania ought to have told him. My information comes not from personal observation and personal contact but from medical authorities who are extremely worried about the situation. Senator Wright does himself and his reputation no good by laughing at a situation which is tragic.
– How is this related to the Bill?
– If Senator Townley cares to listen he will hear. The medical authorities have taken it so seriously that they have submitted a formal official report which ought to put the inanity of the interjectors into proper perspective. The long term effects, going on over two to three years possibly- but no one knowswill be extremely severe in some cases. I make the plea to the Australian Government that it ought to take the opportunity afforded by the occurrence of a number of natural disasters to evaluate the emotional effects upon people of natural disasters of the magnitude that regrettably are becoming more frequent in Australia. Five natural disasters are referred to in the legislation, namely the disasters in Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland and, we can add to that, Tasmania and Darwin. We remember the floods in Queensland early last year. It is not just a question of a generous government deciding that certain material disadvantages will be repaired. If the Government stops at that point I would not think it is fully discharging its responsibility.
Therefore I suggest to the Senate- I propose to follow it up with the Minister for Health (Dr Everingham)- that the National Hospitals and Health Services Commission commission a study of the emotional morbidity which is the sequel of natural disasters of the severity and the scale that Australians in Darwin and southern Tasmania have unfortunately experienced in recent months.
– Is not that information available already?
– I believe not. I am aware that responsible medical authorities will represent this matter to the Australian Government. I have been told that. I do not believe it is available elsewhere. A very brief attempt was made in 1967 in Tasmania after the bushfires to go somewhere along the line. If Senator Baume is able to point to some properly researched survey of this nature I would be grateful to be informed of it. I believe that there are many areas for investigation and evaluation by a proper survey of the type to which I have referred. One of them is the spirit in which administrative decisions are made. Another is emergent group reaction and individual responses. A third is the success or otherwise of rehabilitative procedures. I believe that such an evaluation of medico-social sequelae could be of substantial national benefit especially to those charged with the restoration of communities to normal life. I hope that the Government will take this opportunity, through the Health and Hospitals Commission, to have a broad national analysis to determine the extent of medical-social pathology consequent upon natural disaster.
When one is dealing with a measure of this kind which provides generous financial help to repair damage, the tendency is to forget that disasters concern people. People are primarily affected by disaster. They are affected in a very wide variety of ways. Money can alleviate some of the disabilities from which people suffer as a result of disasters, but for total rehabilitation much more than money is needed. I list some of the things that are needed. I mention firstly an area which I think is extremely important, and that is that there must be among the public servants dealing with persons who have been victims of disasters of this magnitude a sensitive and an understanding attitude. That, I believe, is essential. Secondly, I think there should be a responsible approach by the media which ought to eschew sensationalism. Thirdly, I believe that political parties should appreciate that people do not respond to public political disputation of the inane type in which Senator Townley would indulge by way of interjection when the real issue is their own emotional distress. That is the point with which they are concerned. They are not concerned that persons are endeavouring to make cheap political capital out of the tragedy of others. That is not the mark of a responsible member of Parliament.
The fourth matter that I think could well be considered in this national survey which 1 suggest is whether the role of the Natural Disasters Organisation should be enlarged. Fortunately for this nation so far as Darwin was concerned, the present Australian Government had set up that organisation some months before the Darwin cyclone struck. For many years its policy had been to set up such an organisation. Through the Minister for Defence, Mr Barnard, it acted quickly. The organisation was functioning by about August or September of last year. It was able to play a significant part in the alleviation of hardship in Darwin. Under its present charter, the organisation as I understand it, deals only with matters of immediate relief, virtually of a physical kind. It may be that the role of the organisation, by incorporating some other factors in it, ought to be enlarged so that there can be a correlation of material aid with therapy directed to the emotional suffering of those affected.
If this debate has done one thing, it has brought out the regrettable lack of knowledge of the interjectors from the Liberal Opposition of the enormity of the emotional problem in southern Tasmania. It is a bare 2 months since the tragedy. Those months have been summer months. When all of the physical difficulties to which the unfortunate population of the eastern shore is subjected are compounded over the months to come, especially the winter months, persons with any true compassion will appreciate that the most important aspect of that disaster is not getting money to repair physical damage but developing a proper understanding of the emotional problems of the persons affected. As I have said, I propose to suggest to the Australian
Government Minister for Health, Dr Everingham, that a survey of the type 1 have mentioned be carried out. If one already exists I would not believe that it has been in sufficient depth to afford a guide to this nation as to how continuing natural disasters, which I regret have to be expected, can be most adequately dealt with in the public interest.
I conclude by paying a tribute to the Australian Government for the extremely prompt manner in which it acted. So far as material damage was concerned, it acted quickly in a manner which gave confidence to the Tasmanian Government and also to persons individually affected. I think that in doing so it showed how governments can create goodwill and public confidence by the speed of their actions. The Australian Government certainly did that. I believe it remains for the Government only to ensure that the emotional trauma and difficulties from which a large number of residents are suffering, and will suffer in increasing numbers, are alleviated in the most compassionate manner. I think that when one speaks of compassion it is fortunate for the Australian public and for the people of southern Tasmania that the Whitlam Government is in power. I support both measures.
– There is in Australia a young man named Max Wechsler. He is a Czech refugee from the Russian communism which was so forcefully re-imposed on Czechoslovakia in 1968. He has been, for almost 2 years, a member of the Communist Party of Australia and latterly of a Trotskyist revolutionary group known as the Socialist Workers League. He has attended its meetings, participated in and organised many of its activities and, aditionally, he has been its minute secretary. He voluntarily left the organisation approximately 3 weeks ago. He revealed to one newspaper the purposes, objects and the activities of this organisation. He also revealed that he had joined the organisations at the same time as he was working for the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation and at the suggestion of, and with the co-operation of, his ASIO contact. He states that he was a paid employee of ASIO and, having spoken to him, I believe that he was. He has resigned from ASIO. I have seen a copy of his resignation, as he showed it to me. It reads:
I decided to resign as an agent of ASIO. I feel that my efforts were rendered useless due to the attitudes of the present Labor Government towards internal and external national security.
I joined ASIO voluntarily and resign voluntarily- without any outside pressure.
I will continue where possible to do what I feel will be best for the country in the public interest.
It is signed ‘Maxmillan Wechsler’. He has given a full acount to the ‘Sunday Observer’, an independent newspaper published in Melbourne, with considerable sensationalism, highlighted his story in its issues of 23 February and 2 March. The headlines describe him as ASIO’s top agent, call him a spy, refer to an exposure of our amazing world of sex, treachery and terror and to a terror plot to take over Australia. Headlines, of course, sell papers and often obscure the real importance of what is headlined. This may be the case in Max Wechsler ‘s story. I think it is. His story is the revealing exposure of Trotskyist infiltration of the Australian Labor Party and the apparent inaction of the ALP and of the Government to counteract this infiltration.
I have spoken to Max Wechsler and have spent many hours listening to and recording his story. I believe he was regularly reporting to ASIO and was paid by ASIO. I am satisfied that he was active in the Socialist Workers League and aware of the many activities and links and associations of that body. He has terminated his agent’s role because he is concerned- concerned about the Government’s inaction in respect of the matters which he has supplied to it. He stated to me that his ASIO role was not suspected by his Socialist Workers League colleagues and that his resignation was because he wanted to let people know what was going on. He had expected Government action and it had not been forthcoming.
The substance of what appears in the ‘Sunday Observer’ is in accord with what I was told by Max Wechsler. As far as I can discover, apart from a limited coverage on 2 television current affairs programs, a rubbishing denigration of Max Wechsler in a left wing weekly magazine, there has been no publicity given to the revelations by any other Press or media in Australia. Mr Wechsler states that he has given a huge amount of material- notes, documents and copy documents and tapes recording occurrences and general information- to ASIO. He declares that they contain material disclosing that the ultimatelong term as distinct from short termobjective is to take control of Australia by force of arms. Its initial and short term purpose is to recruit activists, members, supporters, and to gain support, prestige and influence so that it has the numbers for the eventual armed coup.
Max Wechsler says that in Victoria there are about 50 or 60 activist members and several hundred supporter members. He says that every activist member is equal in work, effort and influence to about 100 ordinary supporter members. He stated that the Socialist Workers League is currently the growing and appealing section of the communist movement, outstripping the three known communist bodies. It has more appeal among young people. Max Wechsler also relates that there are contracts between the Socialist Workers League and various revolutionary and terrorist groups throughout the world, and that the Palestine Liberation Organisation and the Japanese Red Army have had personal contact with members or supporters of the Socialist Workers League. ASIO has been supplied, I am assured by Mr Wechsler, with information of this character.
The story which Mr Wechsler tells is substantially the story printed in the ‘Sunday Observer’. I do not repeat that account. But there are matters that warrant concern and which ought to be made public. Max Wechsler said that the Trotskyist organisations- that is, the Socialist Workers League and the Socialist Youth Alliance- are revolutionary organisations. They believe they will achieve socialism only by armed revolution, by armed struggle and by fighting. This, he said, is official policy in bulletins and documents. It is the basis of the organisation. What is currently being done is effort to secure the support of the working class. The methods used ought to be known.
They involve infiltrating the Young Labor Association. If you join the Socialist Workers League and the Socialist Youth Alliance, you are expected to join the Australian Labor Party and the Young Labor Association. In 1973 the Young Labor Association in Victoria expelled the Trotskyists from membership. These people are members of the Socialist Youth Alliance and the Socialist Workers League- people with whom Wechsler has been working. But the Trotskyists organised and have been readmitted to the Young Labor Association, and, at the last Young Labor Association conference, secured the election of almost half the executive of the Young Labor Association. Members of the Socialist Workers League are delegates to the Australian Labor Party State Conference. As Mr Wechsler said to me of the event, ‘So what happened was that we got back and we are now much stronger than ever before’. This is a pattern of infiltration which is occurring in South Australia and in New South Wales, and there is close co-operation with the socialist left of the
Australian Labor Party. I have a pamphlet prepared by 2 concerned members of the Australian Labor Party. That is how they describe themselves. They are Mr John Russell and Mr John McCarthy, both graduates and both members of the Australian Labor Party who published a pamphlet in 1974. I shall quote extracts from what they wrote. They said of the New South Wales Labor Party:
Yet today the Party faces another threat from hostile forces who have no sympathy for its fundamental objectives and policies. The problem is strikingly similar to that faced by other social democratic and Labor Parties and it threatens to return the Australian Labor Party to strife-ridden opposition for years to come.
They went on:
But Labor Party youth organisation is now in the hands of those who have little sympathy with Labor aims or objectives. And the threat cannot be shrugged off. One of the oldest and greatest Labor Parties in the world-
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Milliner)- Order! I have been tolerant in relation to Senator Greenwood ‘s address. I do not know whether he is under a misapprehension. Apparently he thinks he is speaking on the first reading of the Bill. That is not so. The Senate is debating the second reading of the Appropriation Bill. With respect I cannot see where Senator Greenwood ‘s remarks are connected with the Bill. Therefore I ask him to associate his remarks with the Appropriation Bill.
-Mr Acting Deputy President, the Appropriation Bill is a Bill in which expenditure for Commonwealth purposes is discussed. It is commonly accepted that one may talk at large. If specific reference is required, let me say that the Bills contain appropriations for the Attorney-General’s Department and the Prime Minister’s Department, both of which have responsibilities in this area -
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENTOrder! Senator Greenwood, I am asking you to confine yourself to the Appropriation Bill. I believe I have been fairly tolerant. I would appreciate it if you did not cause any further embarrassment but confined yourself to the Bill.
– I am reading from a document which indicates the peril, as I see it, which this nation is experiencing. It is a peril which ought to concern the Government because the Government has a responsibility.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENTOrder! I believe I have been most patient. I have explained why I believe Senator Greenwood is out of order. He will either discontinue the attitude he has adopted or alternatively address himself to the Appropriation Bill.
– I rise on a point of order.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENTWhat is the point of order?
– Under what Standing Order!
– If you get order for me I will express the point of order, Sir.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT- You will be allowed to express your point of order.
– Not over a crowing crowd. I want order.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT- You will get order.
– Thank you. Mr Acting Deputy President, I submit that we are on the second reading of an Appropriation Bill. That Bill covers the Departments of the Prime Minister and the Attorney-General. We are not yet in Committee, tied to specific reference to items in the Bill. I submit that it is incontrovertible that anybody in this Parliament who has anxiety as to a particular matter such as this and the security maintained within those 2 departments which that expenditure is designed to achieve cannot be muzzled. I suggest that the free speech of Parliament is being invaded if Senator Greenwood is not allowed to advance an argument on specific material which as one instance could persuade reasonable people in this chamber that there was great insecurity in the two chief departments of government. I appeal to you, Mr Acting Deputy President, to give consideration to the fact that we are on the second reading of the Appropriation Bill, and that covers the general appropriation encompassed by the 1 5 departments or the 20 departments, and any one of them is of sufficiently broad context to warrant a speech on the second reading.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT- I rule that no point of order arises. The point I make is that if Senator Greenwood wished to address himself in the way he has been in the last 10 minutes or so he should have done it on the first reading of the Bill. It is not proper to address himself in that direction on the second reading of the Appropriation Bill.
-Without attempting to canvass your ruling in any way, Mr Acting Deputy President, I move an amendment to the motion. I move:
I have moved that amendment and I now speak to it.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT-
Order! Senator Greenwood, please resume your seat. The situation, as I see it, is that Senator Cotton led the debate on behalf of the Opposition. My list of speakers indicates that. It has been the accepted procedure over the years.
– I take a point of order.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT-
Order! Senator Wright, I happen to be addressing the Senate and you will remain in your seat while I am addressing the Senate. I repeat that the procedures over the years have been for the main speaker in support of the Opposition to indicate to the Senate what the procedures will be. It is obvious that Senator Cotton, with the approval of the Opposition, spoke in a certain direction. He said he was not going to oppose the Appropriation Bill. The Senate is entitled to accept that as a clear expression of opinion of the Opposition. In those circumstances I would ask Senator Greenwood not to proceed with the amendment.
- Mr Acting Deputy President, I rise on a point of order. I suggest that your last statement amounts to an assertion that every member of the Opposition is bound to follow the line of the leading speaker. That is a proposition which I believe no Liberal senator will ever accept. Every member of the Opposition in the Senate has the right to move an amendment or to advance an argument, however different it may be from that put by the leading speaker. It is completely without precedent to hear you make such a statement. I appeal to you not to press the Senate to the situation where we will be bound to move dissent from the ruling of the Chair but to reconsider the situation and assert the right of every single senator on the floor to move his own amendment if he wishes, to advance his own argument and to be completely free and uninhibited by a statement of policy that has emanated from the leading speaker.
– I wish to speak to the point of order which I think Senator Wright raised. Mr President, I hope you are informed as to what has transpired. Senator Milliner, as Acting Deputy President, ruled that honourable senators could not speak on matters which were irrelevant to a money Bill unless it was during the first reading stage. We are not debating the first reading. The first reading of 2 Bills has passed. The second reading has been moved and debate has ensued. So any attempts to speak on questions which are not relevant to the Bill are obviously out of order. The Acting Deputy President at the time was challenged and he ruled that
Senator Greenwood ‘s remarks were not relevant to the second reading of the Bill. Senator Greenwood accepted this ruling but sought to overcome it by moving an amendment. I think the Acting Deputy President regarded the amendment as being phony. It was only a vehicle used to overcome the Acting Deputy President’s ruling. Obviously Senator Greenwood was out of order.
It is not true to say that we can move any amendment in order to introduce matters irrelevant to the debate. Firstly, one of these Bills cannot be amended by the Senate. In relation to the second Bill, it is certainly not permissible to add something strange to the end of the motion that the Bill be now read a second time. We cannot add something related to security matters in order to argue whether the vote of an amount of money is correct. Senator Greenwood argues that the matter he raises relates to the AttorneyGeneral’s Department. All departments to which both Bills relate are itemised. This is a special appropriation for special things. So far the debate has dealt with special conditions relating to the various matters for which we seek to appropriate money. Possibly the Senate could reject both Bills and it possibly could amend one BUI by varying the amount in the clause related to capital works. But of course this matter does not come under capital works. This relates to administration and to the ordinary expenditure of government.
– And to the AttorneyGeneral’s Department.
– And to the AttorneyGeneral’s Department. If there is any power to speak on these Bills the subject must be related to administration. But this is a matter which comes up at the Committee stage and not in the second reading debate. So, firstly, obviously the honourable senator is out of order and, secondly, he is using a subterfuge to overcome the order of the Acting Deputy President. That is not only out of order but also I think it is seriously canvassing the ruling of the Acting Deputy President.
- Mr President, I speak to the same point of order. I understand the point of order before the Chair is whether Senator Greenwood is entitled to move an amendment to the motion that the Bill be now read a second time.
– Is it true that Senator Wright is going to resign from the Liberal Party?
– I am here attempting to uphold the authority of the Chair and of the dignity of the chamber. I do not think the sort of interjection which Senator Keeffe has made will help either you, Mr President, as President of the chamber, or the Senate as an institution.
- Senator Withers, I did not hear Senator Keeffe ‘s interjection. Will you proceed?
– There are certain forms which ought to be observed. Might we confine this point of order to the narrow issue which is before the Chair and that is whether an honourable senator has the right to move an amendment to a motion which is before the Chair. I understand an argument has been advanced that merely because what one might term as the lead speaker for the Opposition did not move such an amendment then no other honourable senator from either side during the debate may move such an amendment.
– That is not the point.
– I think that that should first be overrun. I say, with the utmost respect, that the Chair ought not to impute improper motives to an honourable senator without real evidence.
– Unless the Chair knows him.
- Senator Cavanagh, I heard you in silence. For honourable senators opposite to impute an improper motive to an honourable senator I believe is not in accordance with Standing Orders nor in accordance with the traditions of the Senate. I believe that as far as possible honourable senators ought to be seen to be acting with proper not improper motives.
– Why does the honourable senator not tell that to Senator Greenwood?
- Senator Georges keeps butting in. Mr President, merely because one uses the procedures of the House in order to achieve an objective that is not an improper method of achieving something. Honourable senators opposite are imputing improper motives. Mr President, the Standing Orders are there as a guide to you in the Chair in relation to how this place ought to operate and also they are there for honourable senators to operate within. I suppose it can be said that Standing Orders are both a shield and a sword. Surely honourable senators are entitled to stay within Standing Orders and to use the proper procedures of the Senate to achieve their objectives? I think that is the matter before you at the moment. Mr President, with the utmost respect I think that for you to rule that Senator Greenwood’s motion is out of order would by ruling on the state of mind of Senator Greenwood. I do not believe that that is within the power or the authority of the Chair to decide.
Mr President, I believe you should look at this motion moved by Senator Greenwood not worrying about what might be alleged to be its purpose or what people might be imputing may be the purpose. I believe you ought to look at the amendment and rule whether it is in order. I believe that if you look at the amendment in that light you will have no option but to come to the conclusion that the amendment is in order.
- Mr President, I wish to speak to the point of order raised by Senator Wright. I make it perfectly clear to honourable senators opposite and also on the Government side of the Senate that I did not vacate the chair. The President came in and asked to take over. I was quite happy to stay in the chair.
– That is not a point of order. That is a personal explanation.
– I do not want any guidance from Senator Sir Magnus Cormack. I make that explanation in case an honourable senator thinks I may have vacated the chair because I was afraid of what might happen. That is not so. I believe I was fairly tolerant. I allowed Senator Greenwood to speak for 10 minutes in a manner which I believe -
- Mr President, I raise a point of order.
– I am speaking on a point of order.
– My point of order relates to Senator Milliner’s speech. I take the point of order that he is in fact canvassing his own ruling. Surely he is not in order in canvassing his own ruling in regard to this matter.
- Senator Milliner is speaking to the point of order. I would like him to confine his remarks to the point of order.
– I allowed Senator Greenwood to proceed for 10 minutes or more in the hope that he would return to the provisions of the Bill. It was obvious that he was not going to do so. 1 drew his attention to that fact. I told him that it was not the first reading of the Bill but the second reading. I asked him to confine his remarks to the Appropriation Bills. The situation was that he then moved an amendment. I repeat that the procedures in this chamber over the years have been for the Leader of the Opposition to indicate what is the expression of opinion on the Opposition side. Although I did not try, and I would not try, to prevent any honourable senator moving an amendment, I think it is the responsibility of the Chair to see that a subterfuge is not adopted to challenge the ruling of the Chair. That is the point I make.
– Order! In conformity with the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate I formally put the question:
That the Senate do now adjourn.
-I desire to raise on the adjournment a matter which gives me the greatest concern as to the future security of this country. 1 desire to refer to certain information which has come into my hands which 1 believe -
– I rise on a point of order, Mr President. Senator Greenwood has moved an amendment to a Bill before this House. He now wants to speak on the subject.
– The question before the House is that the Senate do now adjourn.
– 1 submit that Senator Greenwood has moved an amendment to a Bill now before the Senate which becomes the business of the Senate. Now he seeks to occupy an adjournment debate speaking on something that is before the Senate in the form of an amendment to a Bill. We cannot have the discussion on 2 occasions and, as it is the subject matter of a Bill before the Senate, then its discussion is debarred on the adjournment.
– Order! On that point of order, if I could rule here, there is a different matter before the Chair, that is, that the Senate do now adjourn. It is an adjournment motion. The previous debate has been adjourned. Senator Greenwood has been given the call to speak to the motion that the Senate do now adjourn. I have called Senator Greenwood. After that I am going to call Senator Steele Hall and other senators who wish to rise on the motion.
– I rise to a point of order on a matter of procedure. Senator Hall came to me early in this day to indicate that he was going to speak on the adjournment tonight. At that time the Senate was in Committee. I gave the Clerk of the Senate a note indicating that Senator Hall was to speak on the adjournment and I understand that that note was not handed to you, Mr President. I understand that under the procedures and practice of this House, in view of the fact that I had advised the Minister concerned in relation to the debate on the adjournment and in view of the fact that this note should have been handed to you, Senator Hall should have been the person called on the adjournment at this stage. I regret that that message was not given to you.
– A point of order, Mr President. Might I say that I believe that you as Presiding Officer are entitled to see any senator you desire, and arrangements which may be made between Whips or arrangements which may be made outside the Chair have nothing whatever to do with the Chair. I believe that the President is entitled to see and call whom he wishes, and I do not believe that the Chair ought to be lectured as to its duties. Mr President, it is for you, as I understand the Standing Orders, to see whichever senator you wish to see. I know that there are certain arrangements which are done below the level, but I quite deplore the point of order raised which in effect says to you that you should see somebody because of some arrangement. I believe that you are entitled to see whomever you wish to see.
– A point of order, Mr President. I rise only to say that if Senator Withers is correct then I must apologise to Senator Steele Hall for what happened while I was in the Chair tonight. On the list of speakers given to me Senator Steele Hall’s name appeared before that of Senator Greenwood, but the Whips came to me and said that an arrangement had been made for Senator Greenwood to speak before Senator Steele Hall. Senator Steele Hall, I apologise to you. The Leader of the Opposition says that I was wrong to take notice of the arrangements between the whips. You cannot have it both ways.
– Order! I give this ruling. When the motion for the adjournment of the Senate was moved, I was not in possession of the note advising me that Senator Steele Hall was to speak on the adjournment. I put the motion for the adjournment. I must honestly say to the Senate that the first honourable senator I saw was Senator Greenwood. I called Senator Greenwood because he was speaking to a different motion. If he had attempted to refer to the previous debate, I would have stopped him. I can assure the Senate of that. The motion before the Chair is a new one. Because I did not have any other information before me, I called Senator Greenwood. But I assure the Senate that Senator Steele Hall will be the next senator called. I ask Senator Greenwood now to continue with the subject on which he was about to address the Chair. I do not know what the subject matter is yet, but if the honourable senator attempts to refer to a previous debate, he will know what the Standing Orders are.
– I am concerned with the state of well-being of this nation and its ability to withstand internal and external threats to its security. I have in my possession a pamphlet which is called ‘A New Threat to Labor’. It was published some time in 1974 and the authors are -
– Order! I draw the attention of the honourable senator to the previous debate in which the honourable senator had sought to move an amendment which said: ‘but the Senate is concerned at the danger to Australia’s security . . .’ Now, the tenor of the honourable senator’s remarks seems to point to the fact that he wishes to raise the same matter on the adjournment motion as was the subject matter of an amendment in the previous debate. I rule that out of order.
-On that aspect, I wish to ask you a question concerning a matter of procedure. Having been ruled out of order in the debate before the adjournment motion was put because it was not proper for me to move an amendment- that was the ruling of the Acting Deputy President- I was therefore precluded from speaking. It is a matter which cannot be raised on the debate on the Appropriation Bills. My submission would be that it ought to be proper to raise it in the debate on the motion for the adjournment of the Senate. I am not aware that you have adverted to that aspect in your ruling, Mr President, but I suggest that there is a principle involved. I invite you, if you would, to consider that aspect. If you hold against me, naturally I will talk on something else.
– The principle involvedand I have given a ruling on it- is this: The subject matter of the adjournment debate is exactly the same matter as the honourable senator wished to have debated in the form of his amendment in the previous debate. I am ruling that way, and I am not allowing the debate to continue along those lines. The honourable senator has recourse to the Standing Orders to dispute my decision.
– I think the issues which I would wish to raise are so important that 1 would desire to raise them. I am not speaking on the threat to the nation’s security, albeit it is taken that I have a concern about that matter. What I am speaking about is the internal status of the Australian Labor Party.
– I rise to take a point of order. It is fairly obvious -
– Let him go.
– Order! Does the honourable senator wish to raise a point of order?
– Yes. We could let him go. He could go all night. Nevertheless, I do not think Senator Greenwood should flout the Chair. That is exactly what he is doing. After hearing Senator Greenwood there is no doubt in my mind that he has endeavoured to confuse you. He has endeavoured to indicate that the amendment which he moved had been ruled out of order. It had not. He now proceeds to move from that by using the words ‘security of the nation ‘ to another subterfuge to talk about the internal situation of the Australian Labor Party. What Senator Greenwood has endeavoured to do is to slip around the Standing Orders and your ruling. He should not be permitted to continue and the obvious course is to call on the next speaker.
– Speaking to the point of order, I submit that it would be deplorable to think that subject A was ruled irrelevant to the second reading of an Appropriation Bill.
– It was not.
– It was ruled out of order. It cannot possibly be a matter the reference to which in the second reading debate excludes reference in the adjournment debate. Mr President, I ask you to consider the logic of the matter. If it is irrelevent on the second reading debate that is precisely the sort of matter which comes up on the adjournment. Upon that view it is not part of the content of the second reading debate and therefore the only appropriate place to bring it forward is on the adjournment.
– Speaking to the point of order, I think it is important that we get the facts right. Senator Wright has a very short memory and cannot remember what happened when the motion for the adjournment of the senate was put. Senator Milliner was in the chair and Senator Greenwood attempted to get over a ruling of the Chair by moving an amendment to the motion for the second reading of the Appropriation Bill. Senator Milliner ruled the amendment out of order on the ground that Senator Greenwood did not have the authorisation of his Party to move the amendment. Senator Wright then challenged that ruling and raised a point of order. Mr President, when you walked in that point of order was being debated. Senator Milliner was speaking to a point of order when you put the question that the Senate do now adjourn. Whether the amendment is in order and whether Senator Wright’s point of order should be upheld are questions that have not been determined. So the whole question is whether it is in order for a matter which was raised in a debate that has been adjourned to be raised in the adjournment debate. If it is in order, we are speaking in the adjournment debate about something that is on the agenda of the Senate. That cannot be done. In view of the complication I would ask Senator Greenwood to hold his patience until another occasion. I think the Trotskyites will keep going for him until tomorrow. They will not evacuate today.
– Speaking to the point of order, as I understand it Senator Milliner ruled that Senator Greenwood ‘s amendment was out of order.
– He did at one time.
– I think he did rule that it was out of order. Therefore, unless we move dissent from that ruling, that ruling must stand.
– For the time being.
– It stands for the time being. Therefore Senator Greenwood was prevented -
– On a point of order -
– I want Senator Withers to confine himself to the matter before the chair.
– As I understand it, Senator Greenwood was ruled by the Chair to be out of order in speaking to that which he was speaking in the second reading debate. He then attempted to move an amendment. That was ruled out of order. Therefore, in spite of what might have been happening before the motion for the adjournment was put, as no dissent from the ruling of the Chair had been moved and carried, what Senator Greenwood was attempting to do before the motion for adjournment was moved was out of order. Standing order 63, states:
And on such motion matters irrelevant thereto may be debated.
It is irrelevant to anything that has been said in any event. The whole purpose of the adjournment debate, as I have always understood it since I have been here, is to allow any honourable senator the right to raise any matter which he wishes to raise. Mr President, you may recall that this question arose over the first reading of a money bill -
THE PRESIDENT- Order! You cannot canvass the previous debate.
– I am not. I am talking about the same point of order.
THE PRESIDENT- To what standing order are you referring?
– I am referring to standing order 63. You may recall giving a ruling, if my memory serves me correctly, when a point of order was raised on the first reading of a money Bill. As I recall the standing order, it basically says that any matter may be raised on the first reading of a money Bill which the Senate cannot amend. A point of order was taken that, as there was a matter on the notice paper or there was another debate involved, the matter ought not to be raised. I think from memory that you, Mr President, ruled that the standing order in relation to the first reading of money Bills overran that I put it to you, Mr President, that standing order 63 overruns anything else because that quite deliberately says:
That is the motion which you put- matters irrelevant thereto may be debated.
It does not say: ‘Matters irrelevant thereto, except matters which have been under debate that day, may be debated ‘.
– It is provided elsewhere.
– It is quite simple language.
– Yes, but it is provided elsewhere.
– Perhaps the honourable senator will tell me where it is provided elsewhere. We are talking about standing order 63.
– You ought to know a little better than I do because that has been the procedure ever since I came here.
– As I have understood it, on the adjournment motion one may speak about anything, whether it be on the notice paper, not on the notice paper, debated that day, in another House- it does not matter what it is. The words are ‘ matters irrelevant thereto ‘.
- Senator Sir Magnus Cormack ruled differently.
– I would be delighted if the honourable senator would recall to me the ruling that Senator Sir Magnus Cormack gave on that occasion. All I am putting to you, Mr President, is that under standing order 63 Senator Greenwood is entitled to raise any matter he so desires on the adjournment motion.
– Firstly, I would like to make this matter quite clear: It has been the practice and the convention over the years that one cannot revive a debate in the adjournment debate, except to clear up misunderstandings. It is my understanding that Senator Milliner did not rule Senator Greenwood’s amendment out of order. It was under debate at the time of the adjournment. It was not voted on; it was not ruled on; it was not decided at the time of the adjournment.
– I had to take a point of order against the ruling and I did so most delicately and courteously.
– It is my understanding that -
- Mr President, may I draw your attention to a very serious matter? Standing order 402 states:
Every Senator, when he comes into the Chamber, shall take his place, and shall not at any time stand in any of the passages or gangways.
Senator Maunsell on several occasions tonight has stood at the far door of the chamber. He has obstructed the door. I think he ought to be directed to take his place when this happens again.
– I will take notice of that. I refer back to the point that is before the Chair. I will not allow the debate on the adjournment to continue along the lines that were being debated when the adjournment motion was proposed. If Senator Greenwood wishes to address the Chair on the adjournment motion he may do so on matters irrelevant but not referring to the matters which were before the Chair and which were undecided. When the debate is resumed tomorrow, or whenever it is resumed, it can continue along the lines it was following at 1 1 o ‘clock tonight. I am going to insist that the Senate will not debate the subject matter that was under discussion when the adjournment motion was proposed.
- Mr President, may I ask a question? I defer to your ruling. We do not dispute it. But do I understand you to have said that Senator Greenwood’s amendment was not ruled out of order?
– I am advised that that is so.
– It was not ruled out of order?
– It is still under consideration.
– There has been no ruling by the Chair?
– There has been no ruling by the Chair on Senator Greenwood’s amendment.
- Mr President, do I understand that if I refer to information given to me by Mr Max Wechsler, if I refer to the allegations made by Mr Russell and Mr McCarthy about the takeover of the Australian Labor Party, if I refer to the activities of Trotskyite activists within the Labor Party, if I refer to the fact that that constitutes a threat to the nation ‘s security, if I refer to members of the Australian Labor Party who are Ministers of the Crown who have given support to this Trotskyist organisation, I will not be allowed to continue?
– In the honourable senator’s amendment he has referred to the fact that the Senate is concerned at the danger to Australia ‘s security. The honourable senator was asked to identify his remarks to the Appropriation Bills earlier. I should not refer to that very much except to say that if the honourable senator intended to refer to those matters in his amendment then I cannot allow him to continue. But if this is new matter that the honourable senator is raising now that he did not intend to refer to in his amendment, it is a separate matter. It is up to the honourable senator. If he wants to challenge the conduct of the House by making 2 issues when he knows that he can deal with it as one issue, then the Senate itself will have to decide the matter. It is up to the honourable senator.
- Mr President, I will not pursue the matters that I raised in this adjournment debate. I will leave them until the resumption of the debate on the Appropriation Bills tomorrow. May I say that I view with concern a number of matters, including the apprehension which members of the Australian Labor Party have about relevations which I believe ought to be public knowledge. No matter how much effort is made to prevent these matters being aired, I can assure senators of the Australian Labor Party that I am as persistent as anybody on the Opposition side and the matters will be aired.
– I call Senator Steele Hall.
- Mr President, I support your motion for the adjournment of the Senate.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 11.22 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated:
Australian Bank Notes
Capital Gains Tax
Export of Iron Ore
Donations to Charity
Inquiry Into Security Services
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice;
– The Prime Minister has provided the following information for answer to the honourable senator’s question.
asked the Min ister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice:
With reference to a reply provided on 1 1 February 1975 by the Minister for Foreign Affairs to a Question asked on 30 July 1974 by Senator Sir Magnus Cormack concerning the publication in a newspaper of a telegraphed dispatch of the Australian Ambassador to the Republic of Vietnam:
was the unauthorised publication obtained by a journalist;
was the dispatch obtained from the Prime Minister’s Office;
who provided the dispatch;
if a journalist obtained the dispatch, is the journalist currently a member of the Parliamentary Press Gallery; and
who in the Prime Minister’s Office supplied the dispatch.
– The Prime Minister has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 5 March 1975, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1975/19750305_senate_29_s63/>.