30th Parliament · 1st Session
The Senate met at 11 a.m., pursuant to the proclamation of His Excellency the GovernorGeneral.
The Clerk read the proclamation.
The Senior Deputy appointed by His Excellency the Governor-General for the opening of the Parliament, the Right Honourable Sir Garfield Edward John Barwick, G.C.M.G., Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia, and the Second Deputy, the Right Honourable Sir Edward Aloysius McTiernan, K.B.E., having been announced by the Usher of the Black Rod, entered the chamber and took his seat on the dais.
The Senior Deputy, directed the Usher to desire the attendance of the members of the House of Representatives,
The SENIOR DEPUTY said:
Members of the Senate and Members of the House of Representatives:
His Excellency the Governor-General, not thinking fit to be present in person at this time, has been pleased to cause letters patent to issue constituting me his deputy to do in his name all that is necessary to be performed in declaring this Parliament open, as will more fully appear from the letters patent which will now be read. (The letters patent having been read by the Clerk)
The SENIOR DEPUTY said:
Members of the Senate and Members of the House of Representatives:
We have it in command from the GovernorGeneral to let you know that after Members of the Senate and Members of the House of Representatives shall have been sworn, the causes of His Excellency calling this Parliament will be declared by him in person at this place; and it being necessary that a President of the Senate and a Speaker of the House of Representatives shall be first chosen, you, Members of the Senate, will proceed to choose some proper person to be your President, and you, Members of the House of Representatives, will retire to the place where you are to sit, and there proceed to the choice of some proper person to be your Speaker; and later this day you will respectively present the persons whom you shall so choose to His Excellency at such time and place as he shall appoint.
Sir Edward McTiernan will attend in the House of Representatives for the purpose of administering the Oath or Affirmation of Allegiance to Honourable Members of that House. (The Second Deputy and members of the House of Representatives having retired.)
The Senior Deputy produced a commission authorising him to administer the oath or affirmation of allegiance and directed the Clerk to read the same.
The Clerk read the commission.
The Clerk produced and laid on the table the certificates of election of senators elected on 13 December 1975 as follows:
COTTON, Robert Carrington
CARRICK, John Leslie
McCLELLAND, James Robert
SCOTT, Douglas Barr
MULVIHILL, James Anthony
BAUME, Peter Erne
GIETZELT, Arthur Thomas
LAJOVIC, Milivoj Emil
SIBRAA, Kerry Walter
BONNER, Neville Thomas
KEEFFE, James Bernard
MAUNSELL, Charles Ronald
McAULIFFE, Ronald Edward
MARTIN, Kathryn Jean
COLSTON, Malcolm Arthur
WOOD, Ian Alexander Christie
COLLARD, Stanley James
DAVIDSON, Gordon Sinclair
JESSOP, Donald Scott
CAVANAGH, James Luke
LAUCKE, Condor Louis
CAMERON, Donald Newton
YOUNG, Harold William
McLAREN, Geoffrey Thomas
MESSNER, Anthony John
HALL, Raymond Steele
RAE, Peter Elliot
WRIEDT, Kenneth Shaw
O ‘BYRNE, Justin
ARCHER, Brian Roper
DEVITT, Donald Michael
WRIGHT, Reginald Charles
WALTERS, Mary Shirley
GRIMES, Donald James
GREENWOOD, Ivor John
MELZER, Jean Isabel
GUILFOYLE, Margaret Georgina Constance
PRIMMER, Cyril Graham
WEBSTER, James Joseph
BUTTON, John Norman
CORMACK, Magnus Cameron
BROWN, William Walter Charles
MISSEN, Alan Joseph
TEHAN, Thomas Joseph
WITHERS, Reginald Greive
WHEELDON, John Murray
DURACK, Peter Drew
McINTOSH, Gordon Douglas
SIM, John Peter
WALSH, Peter Alexanda
CHANEY, Frederick Michael
THOMAS, Andrew Murray
COLEMAN, Ruth Nancy
DRAKE-BROCKMAN, Thomas Charles
KNIGHT, John William
RYAN, Susan Maree
KILGARIFF, Bernard Francis
ROBERTSON, Edward Albert
The abovenamed senators made and subscribed the oath or affirmation of allegiance. (The Senior Deputy having retired)
-Mr Odgers, I remind the Senate that the time has come when it is necessary for the Senate to choose one of its members to be President. I therefore propose to the Senate for its President, Senator Laucke. I move:
– I have pleasure in seconding the motion.
- Mr Odgers, I propose to the Senate for its President, Senator O ‘Byrne. I move:
– I have pleasure in seconding the nomination.
– Are there any further nominations? There being no further nominations, I now invite the 2 candidates to address the Senate.
– I submit myself to the will of the Senate.
-Mr Clerk, in submitting myself to the will of the Senate I feel constrained to make a few observations on the occasion of the dissolution of the Parliament when I was the Presiding Officer in the Senate. I was sworn in as President of the Senate in August 1974, and the following months were possibly the most turbulent in the history of the Senate. No vote of no confidence in me as President of the Senate was taken during that period. On 1 1 November 1975, without any consultation whatever from the Governor-General or the Chief Justice of Australia or Mr Ellicott or other people associated with the events -
– The plot.
– The coup, the overthrow of a properly elected government, I adjourned the Senate at 20 minutes past two until the ringing of the bells. There was no further sitting of the Senate. The Senate was dismissed summarily. There was no information given to the then Leader of the Government in the Senate and none given by the then Leader of the Opposition in the Senate who was well aware of the whole of the coup. The practice of State Premiers substituting people of a Party different from that of the senators those people replace and so affecting the balance of power in this chamber has altered the whole concept of proportional representation. It is making a sham and a farce of the method of election to this chamber.
The method employed has caused me very great concern. The Senate has been made a pawn in a premeditated and calculated manipulation by forces outside this Senate. The sequence of events over a period was such that this Senate could act as a House of review; it could act as a States’ House. But that has now been set aside. The Senate now, as has been proved, can be manipulated to the point that it no longer can serve its proper purpose.
The fact that we had today as a Deputy of the Governor-General, Sir Garfield Barwick who consulted with the Governor-General and with Mr Ellicott on these matters, without notifying the Senate and without notifying the President of the Senate, was to me a direct insult to the Chair in this chamber. I hope that the incoming President will be aware of these discourtesies and will take every step to persuade the Senate to make the necessary provisions so that what happened will not be allowed to happen again. I submit myself to the will of the Senate.
– There being 2 nominations, in accordance with the Standing Orders a ballot will be taken. Before proceeding to the ballot, the bells will be rung for 3 minutes. (The bells having been rung)
– The Senate will now proceed to ballot. Ballot papers will be distributed to honourable senators, who are requested to write upon the paper handed to them the name of the candidate for whom they desire to vote. The clerks will now distribute ballot papers to all honourable senators. The candidates are Senator Laucke and Senator O ‘Byrne. (A ballot having been taken)
– Honourable senators, I announce the result of the ballot as follows: Senator Laucke, 37 votes; and Senator O ‘Byrne, 27 votes. Senator Laucke is therefore elected President of the Senate in accordance with the Standing Orders. ‘ (Senator Laucke having been conducted. to the dais)
– Honourable senators, I am deeply conscious of the honour you have done me this morning in electing me as your President, as I am conscious of the heavy responsibilities which devolve upon this office. It shall be my constant endeavour to be found worthy of your confidence and with your co-operation and confidence, honourable senators, I trust that this the Thirtieth Parliament- and the Senate in particularwill give satisfaction to each honourable senator and to the people of Australia.
The institution is greater than the person and that shall ever be in my mind. I wish to pay a tribute to my predecessors, Senator the Honourable Sir Magnus Cormack and Senator the Honourable Justin O ‘Byrne, for the services they have rendered to this chamber and the Parliament. I shall strive to emulate the best of examples. I thank you all.
Senator WITHERS (Western AustraliaLeader of the Government in the Senate)- Mr President, I claim the right as your nominator to be the first to address you by that title in this chamber. On behalf of all Government senators, and I am sure on behalf of all senators, I’con.gratulate you on your election as President. Your reputation for honesty, integrity and dignity fits you well for this high office, the highest the Senate can bestow. All honourable senators are aware of your politeness and courtesy at all times.
You have served in the Senate since 1967. Before that you were a member of the South Australian House of Assembly for the electorate of Barossa, a truly befitting electorate for someone like Senator Laucke. You have a long and distinguished record of committee service including the chairmanship of the Senate Standing Committee on Social Environment from 1971 to 1973 and membership of the Senate Standing Committee on Finance and Government Operations and the famous Senate Select Committee on Offshore Petroleum Resources. In addition, you were the deputy chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Air Pollution from 1968 to 1969.
As well as your dedicated Committee service, you have been a distinguished member of this chamber. Nobody would be more respected around the Parliament in a personal sense than yourself. We on the Government side know that your personal qualities will maintain the dignity of your new office. I am confident that you will act as the servant of the Senate and at all times will uphold the dignity of the chamber and protect all senators equally. The office of President which you now hold is a great one carrying with it many obligations and many responsibilities. Most importantly, it is your duty to ensure that the business of the Senate is conducted properly without fear or favour to either side. I know- we all know- that you will carry out that responsibility properly and honourably. Like your predecessors, I am sure that you will bring great credit and honour to the Senate.
We all recognise that in Mrs Laucke you have a partner who will be of enormous assistance to you in both the ceremonial and nonparliamentary duties that the office of President demands. Like you, Mr President, she is respected on all sides of this chamber. I conclude my remarks on behalf of Government senators by wishing you and Mrs Laucke well and by assuring you that whatever that can be given to you in carrying out your new role will be there for the asking. Mr President, I again congratulate you.
Senator WRIEDT (Tasmania-Leader of the Opposition in the Senate)- May I also, on behalf of the Opposition, offer my congratulations, Mr President. I am not so conversant with your background and with the matters raised by Senator Withers. I did not do my homework as well as he has done, mainly because I had not anticipated that you would be elected- I say with great respect. Nevertheless, I can vouch for many of the things that Senator Withers has said and I think that all of us around the chamber would agree that you have established a reputation for politeness to people, which is important, and fairness. None of us are under any illusions as to the difficulty encountered by all Presidents at various times in this chamber. We look to the President for guidance. We look to him for impartiality. In the ensuing months the many new senators will be looking to you, Sir, for those very qualities, and I am sure that we can expect you to show them.
Very rough passages inevitably lie ahead for all of us. Even a person of your calm temperament, I am sure, will not be able to give us completely calm voyages all through the period of your Presidency. I can say on behalf of the Opposition that we will endeavour to ensure that the work of the Senate is expedited properly and fairly. That does not mean, of course, that we will not be fighting at every opportunity to expose the Government’s errors, to expose errors which we believe have occurred in the past and about which we will continue to remind the Australian people. I once again congratulate you. 1 hope that your term as President, will not be too long, and that after the change of government at the next election the same traditions will be able to be carried on as I am sure you will endeavour to carry on during your term.
- Mr President, I offer you my heartfelt congratulations on having been installed in the Chair of the Presidency of this Senate. You have been an outstanding member of Parliament, first serving in the South Australian Parliament, as has been mentioned by the Leader of the Government (Senator Withers). Your interest in the Commonwealth Parliament for many years, your interest in community service and your interest in the service of business in your State warrant your elevation to this high position. You were first elected to the South Australian Parliament in 19S6, representing the Barrossa area. You were re-elected in 1959 and again in 1962. You were Government Whip in the South Australian Parliament between the years 1962 and 1965. You have served the Australian Senate since 1967. You were a very experienced Temporary Chairman of Committees and your work on committees has pointed you out as an admirable man for the office which you now hold. I offer you my congratulations, Mr President, and the congratulations of my National Country Party colleagues on assuming your high office.
Mr President, your record of public duty and service to this nation is an inspiration to us all. Those who know you more closely recognise those qualities in you which they would seek to emulate themselves. The duties of your high office will be carried out with dignity and precision. I offer you every support, as do my National Country Party colleagues. Your duties will be onerous. We look forward to your long and distinguished service as President of the Senate.
Senator O’BYRNE (Tasmania)-I join with other honourable senators in congratulating you, Mr President, on having been elected to the very high and honourable office of President of the Senate. It is one of the highest offices in the land and any honourable senator who achieves the distinction of being President of the Senate should be and would be a worthy incumbent of the office. I had the good fortune to travel with you on the famous Senate Select Committee on Off-Shore Petroleum Resources and during that time I was able to learn of the many gentlemanly qualities that you possess. I think that you will bring those qualities to the Chair and that you will bring impartiality. I offer you in a humble way the benefit of my experience at any time in conference. As my Leader, Senator Wriedt, said, I cannot wish you permanency in the job but while you occupy the Chair I feel that you will do the Senate very proud. Congratulations.
-Mr President, may I, as one of your South Australian colleagues, offer you very hearty congratulations upon your elevation to President of the Senate. I hope that you will have a great deal of satisfaction in your office. Your friends and colleagues in South Australia are very pleased by your preferment and we all wish you well. You have had a long and distinguished career in business affairs, in public affairs and in Parliament and you will bring the skills derived in those areas to the execution of the important duties that you are now commencing. You have important duties to discharge and I know that you will use your best endeavours to fulfil the important tasks of this high office. I am perfectly sure that you will maintain from the Chair a standard of fairness to all, but you will remember that this is a House of Parliament where there are strong convictions and strong opinions. These strong convictions and strong opinions are expressed here, and I think they are necessary if Parliament is to be effective and efficient. They are also necessary if legislation is to receive proper attention. I know that in your duties you will seek not only to encourage but also to protect the expression of those deeply held political views and convictions. We wish you well, Mr President. We pay tribute to you and we pay tribute to your wife. We offer you our support and goodwill and, as I said earlier, we hope that you will have many satisfying years in fulfilling your duties as President of the Senate.
-Mr President, I rise to offer you my sincere congratulations on your election to the high office which you have attained today. You have been given this office with the confidence of the Senate chamber. The office has been given to a man with long and esteemed parliamentary experience, during which time you have won the respect of your colleagues on both sides of the chamber. I am certain that the high office which you hold today will continue whilst it is in your hands with the dignity and all of the standards and qualities that have gone before. I should like also to offer to Mrs Laucke my best wishes. I know that you will carry out your duties with great dignity and I trust also that as well as being of great benefit to the Senate chamber your appointment will be of immense pleasure to both of you.
-The Government and the Opposition have expressed congratulations to you, Mr President. I should like to associate myself with those sentiments. The fact that you come from one of the less populous but nonetheless important States is significant for the future of the Federation. In addition, it is apparent from what has been said that you have the fairness which your office demands. I therefore look forward to serving in this Senate with you as President.
– Honourable senators, I am deeply moved by your very gracious and generous remarks and good wishes. To each of the honourable senators who have spoken I say thank you very much indeed, as I do to all other honourable senators in the chamber. I am so happy that reference was made this morning to my wife Rose. I believe in co-operation and fairness, as has been mentioned. I think that collectively we shall achieve those things which all honourable senators desire for the betterment of the Parliament and for the maintenance of the institution as we would like to have it maintained. I thank all honourable senators most sincerely.
– I wish to inform honourable senators that His Excellency the Governor-General will be pleased to receive Mr President and such honourable senators as may desire to accompany him in the Library at 2.35 p.m. this day.
– Honourable senators, prior to my presentation to His Excellency the Governor-General this afternoon the bells will be rung at 2.30 p.m. for 3 minutes so that honourable senators may attend in the chamber and accompany the President to the Library.
Sitting suspended from 12.26 to 2.33 p.m.
– I invite honourable senators to accompany me to the Library where I shall present myself to His Excellency, the Governor-General, as the choice of the Senate to be its President. (The members of the Senate proceeded to the Library, and being reassembled)
– I have to report that, accompanied by honourable senators, I presented myself to His Excellency the Governor-General as the choice of the Senate, and His Excellency was pleased to congratulate me upon my election.
His Excellency the Governor-General entered the chamber, and being seated, with the President on his right hand, commanded that a message be sent to the House of Representatives intimating that His Excellency desired the attendance of honourable members in the Senate chamber forthwith, who being come with their speaker.
His Excellency was pleased to deliver the following speech:
Senators, Members of the House of Representatives:
We assemble at a time when large areas of New South Wales and Queensland are being devastated by severe flooding. It is a terrible experience for those affected and my Government expresses its deepest concern for their plight. The Government is consulting with the States in taking action to ensure that all proper assistance is available. The Natural Disasters Organisation is operating smoothly.
Following the decision of the Australian people in the election last December for both Houses of Parliament, my Government believes that the Australian people have given it a strong directive to bring under control the highest unemployment for forty years and the worst prolonged inflation in the nation’s history. The Government believes that excessive government intervention in the life of the nation is a major factor in economic instability.
My Government’s immediate objective is to bring inflation under control so that there can again be jobs for all who want to work.
The Government’s long term objective is to prevent the growth of centralised bureaucratic domination in Australia, the increasing dependence of individuals on the state. It is to encourage the development of an Australia in which people have maximum freedom and independence to achieve their own goals in life, in ways which they decide.
As part of this approach the Government will place great emphasis on directing welfare assistance to those in real need. Unless there is a concentration on those in real need, schemes of assistance do not provide maximum possible assistance to the disadvantaged and become excessively costly. The Government does not believe that the poor and disadvantaged can be best helped by increasing the dependence of everyone on what the Government chooses to provide.
My Government believes that adequate opportunities for the disadvantaged as well as the most rapid improvement in social service provision, are dependent on people being free and encouraged to achieve their best. The disadvantaged must be helped in ways which leave them the maximum independence.
At the root of the economic crisis is a steadily increasing tax burden required to finance, at the expense of the private sector, an ever-growing public sector. Measures to deal with this crisis will advance Australia towards the long-term goal of a society based on freedom and on the mutual respect freedom makes possible.
The Government’s strategy to achieve its objectives can be summarised as follows:
Government and increase the autonomy and responsibilities of Local and State Governments. The Government believes that there must be more scope for community and individual initiative if people are to solve their problems sensitively and with a rational use of resources;
Control of inflation is the Government’s first consideration. Unless inflation is brought under control there will be no adequate employment opportunities, no soundly based return to prosperity.
The Government has already begun to implement its economic program to achieve this objective. It is a full three year program.
The budget deficit must be lowered, otherwise inflationary pressures will intensify. The very rapid growth in government expenditure in recent times has been accompanied by enormous waste. The Government has taken a number of actions to reduce expenditure and inefficiency.
Immediate economies have been made in administrative expenses. These affect, among other things, overtime, travel and subsistence expenses, advertising, consultancy work, the activities of commissions, boards of inquiry, and so on, as well as expenditure by Ministers and other members of Parliament.
The growth of the Federal bureaucracy has been halted by the announcement of revised staff ceilings. Further revisions to these ceilings to reduce the size of the service were announced last week.
There has been an initial review of the Government’s spending programs and, with the other measures taken, expenditure reductions worth about $3 60m in the current year have been achieved. Savings from these decisions in later years will be considerably greater.
The Government has also appointed an Administrative Review Committee to review administrative expenditure, achieve maximum administrative efficiency, and eliminate waste and duplication within and between Government Departments, and between Commonwealth and States. The committee will report progressively.
The Government has been forced to examine all expenditures in terms of their priority. Choices have to be made. It will be necessary to economise on some worthwhile projects which are not urgent, in addition to continued action against waste and duplication, to effect the necessary transfer of resources to the private sector. Only if this is done can prosperity and productive job opportunities be restored.
While the Government in these ways is seeking to cut the costs of public administration, it also seeks to promote worthwhile innovation in the Public Service. The Government will give close attention to the Report of the Royal Commission on Australian Government Administration when it is received.
Concurrent with action to bring the deficit under control, the Government has announced a number of measures to further restrain inflation, encourage investment in plant and equipment and expand job opportunities in the private sector.
These measures include a new 40 per cent investment allowance and the relaxation of conditions applying to the interest deductibility of convertible note issues.
The Government has introduced a major set of monetary measures to take up excess liquidity and encourage investment. The package included a special new security, the Australian Savings Bond, which was outstandingly successful in supporting the February loan raisings.
The Government will continue the suspension of the quarterly tax instalments for the three instalments that would have been payable for the 1976-77 financial year.
Alongside its assistance to manufacturing and other industries, the Government has taken action to assist the rural community to overcome its present crisis. Rural industries will not be neglected as they have been in the past.
Government support for industry- primary as well as secondary- will be based on reports of the Industries Assistance Commission. The Government, of course, makes policy in this area. The Government is pursuing energetically proposals for a Rural Bank and a Farm Income Reserve Fund.
An important contribution to economic revival and the expansion of job opportunities will be made by the Government ‘s policy for Australia ‘s resources. The prime objective of the Government’s national resources policy is to return resource development to its proper role in the nation’s economy and to restore overseas users’ confidence in the Australian mining industry’s long term reliability.
The Government seeks to assure its overseas trading partners, including Japan, that we will be a stable and steady trading partner. Reliable access to overseas markets for a range of Australian products will be sought.
The development of the North- West Shelf is a high priority and the Government is working closely with the Western Australian Government and private enterprise to bring the gas on-stream at the earliest possible date.
The Government will energetically promote overseas trade and participate actively in the discussion of trade problems in the Conference on International Economic Cooperation and the forthcoming UNCTAD Ministerial Conference, as well as in the Multilateral Trade Negotiations being conducted under the auspices of GATT.
The Government will encourage measures aimed at improving the efficiency, economy, and adequacy of our transport services. In achieving these objectives it will work through Commonwealth, State and industry advisory bodies and it will review means of strengthening the Australian Shippers ‘ Council.
Action will be taken to give effect to the Government’s commitment to develop a relative freight equalisation scheme for Bass Strait traffic.
The Government will ensure that business activity is regulated by law to prevent exploitation of consumers. It will also review existing regulations to ensure that they are in the public interest and do not needlessly hamper business efficiency. The Government will review the operation of the Trade Practices Act and closely cooperate with the States in protecting the consumer.
Australia will not return to a soundly based prosperity without understanding and cooperation between all sections of the community. The Government needs broadly based advice from the community and in this regard will be looking to such bodies as the Economic Consultative Group and the proposed tripartite national consultative council in the industrial relations area. With this in mind the Government has established the Department of Business and Consumer Affairs to develop and maintain close contact with consumers and business. In the field of transport, improved communication and cooperation with the States will be undertaken through the Australian Transport Advisory Council, the Marine and Ports Council and the Transport Industries Advisory Council.
Talks are to be held with union and employer groups on the future role and operations of the Prices Justification Tribunal.
A major step in the Government’s strategy and an important support for community cooperation will be the introduction of tax indexation.
In the next Budget, the Government will begin implementing its tax indexation policy. The greater the support given to the Government’s economic program, the greater the first step can be. This reform will compel governments to be honest- if they want more money, they must legislate for it. It will protect the average Australian and the low income earner against higher tax levels caused by inflation, lt will check Government-induced inflation. It will be more effective in protecting the incomes of wage and salary earners than any other single measure.
The Government intends to increase the capacity of Australian workers and employers to decide the leadership of their organisations. Legislation will be introduced providing for officially conducted secret ballots in elections for officials in organisations registered under the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. The Government is also proposing to ensure that members receive each year a report on the activities of their organisation and its finances. These measures will be discussed with the trade union movement before legislation is introduced.
To re-establish a pattern of co-operation in national affairs and reverse the excessive centralising of power in Australia, the Government proposes to make the most important reform of the Federal system since Federation. Its core will be the principle of tax sharing. The possibilities of this new approach to Federalism are demonstrated by the recent Premiers’ Conference. The working of our governmental system has been corroded by the absence of reasonable financial autonomy for the States. Under this Government, the States will have access to a secure proportion of personal income tax revenue. This will both make possible more effective community participation in State and Local Government and a more rational use of the Government’s resourced.
In making these reforms, particular care will be taken over the special circumstances of the less populous States to ensure that they are in no way disadvantaged.
To assist in achieving co-operation between the various spheres of government, an Advisory Council on Inter-governmental Relations will be established.
In line with its policy of devolving governmental authority, the Government will progressively act to confer executive responsibility on the Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory with the objective of advancing the Territory to Statehood. A joint Federal and Northern Territory Legislative Assembly committee will be set up to work on arrangements for the transition to Statehood.
For the A.C.T. the Government will propose legislation to ensure that the A.C.T. Legislative Assembly has responsibility for the financial management and decision-making related to Canberra’s local affairs, although the Parliament will retain a reserve power of disallowance. A task force has been established to make recommendations on the framework for the transfer of appropriate authority to the Assembly.
Action to restore Australia’s economic well being and decentralise Government decision making is essential to the Government’s ability to provide better and more effective assistance to the disadvantaged. The Government will not permit economic recovery to take place at the expense of those who are less well off.
The Government proposes to introduce to the Parliament amending legislation to increase social service pensions and benefit rates every six months in accordance with movements in the Consumer Price Index. Similar legislation will be introduced to increase repatriation compensation payments.
The Government will proceed with a review of the income security system as a whole, including the effectiveness of guaranteed minumum income proposals in overcoming poverty.
The possibility of expanding the area of choice in services available to the disadvantaged and those in real need, while fully maintaining support, will be investigated by the Government.
It is believed by the Government that voluntary welfare organisations are a critically important part of the Australian welfare system. Accordingly, financial assistance to them will continue. In addition, the Government will assist voluntary bodies by placing public service resources at their disposal through improving opportunities for transferability of staff between the Government and the non-government sector.
Medibank will be retained and the Government will ensure it operates efficiently. The Medibank Review Committee has been established to examine the program in this respect.
Measures have been taken to ensure that only those genuinely eligible receive unemployment benefit. The Government will do everything in its power to ensure that these measures are applied with a sensitivity and understanding that respects the dignity of the unemployed, and that there is a simple, understandable and effective appeals system to protect applicants for benefits against arbitrary action by officials.
The Government believes that education is a prime means for individual self development. An education system to achieve this end must be based on equality of opportunity and the pursuit of excellence.
Legislation will be presented to Parliament early in the session to provide assistance to the States for education in 1976. This legislation will authorise funds for the programmes of the Schools Commmission, Universities Commission, Commission on Advanced Education and the Technical and Further Education Commission, which are now proceeding.
The Government has requested reports from these Commissions on the triennium 1977-79 by the end of March.
The relevant Commissions will be asked to give close attention to measures designed to achieve greater equality in teaching and facilities, and in particular to giving effective educational opportunities to the disadvantagedhandicapped, Aboriginal, isolated and migrant children.
The functions of the Commissions and how they relate to State programs and responsibilities will be examined by the Government. Proposals are being considered for a single Tertiary Education Commission to perform the functions currently undertaken by the Universities Commission and the Commission on Advanced Education.
The Government intends to proceed with the establishment of the maritime college at Launceston.
The Government gives high priority to the provision of trade union training. It is particularly concerned that training opportunities, and the composition of National and State Union
Training Councils recognise the important position of women in Australian employment.
The Government’s foreign policy will reflect a greater self-reliance, and willingness to develop friendly and cooperative relations with all countries. The Government will continue fully to support international initiatives for the reduction of world tensions.
Within South East Asia Australia has particularly good relations with the ASEAN group of countries. The Government will seek ways of expanding cooperation with them both individually and as a group as well as maintaining and developing substantive communications with all countries in the Asia-Pacific area.
My Government’s diplomatic effort will give greater emphasis to the Asia-Pacific region. It will seek to extend and deepen Australia’s relations with Japan. In response to messages from the Prime Minister of Japan, expressing the wish for the early conclusion of a treaty of friendship and cooperation between the two countries, the Government has made decisions which will enable the negotiations delayed last year to proceed. Bilateral relations with China will be further developed.
The Government believes there is a need to pay more attention to relations with countries with which we share common philosophical commitments.
Priority will be given to the protection of Australian interests in areas adjacent to our continent. In the Indian Ocean the Government supports United States Efforts to balance the Soviet presence while hoping mutual restraint will keep the balance of forces at the lowest practical level. Conscious of the steady and systematic development since 1968 of Soviet naval capabilities in the Indian Ocean area and its use of facilities there, and given the need of the United States to have adequate logistical back-up in an area where developments could affect global stability, the Government supports the United States development of Diego Garcia facilities.
The Government believes Australia has a continuing responsibility to assist in the progress of Papua New Guinea and will, therefore, continue a comprehensive program for cooperation and development. The Government looks forward to the visit of Papua New Guinea’s Prime Minister and to having early discussions with him. The Government also accepts that it has a responsibility to assist with the economic advancement of developing countries.
The nation’s security is a prime concern of the Government. The Government will watch the international situation closely to ensure timely warning of any changes adverse to the nation’s security interests. It will maintain and foster the valuable defence relations with Australia’s allies and other friends, including close associates in the neighbouring region.
The Government will ensure that the nation has at its disposal an adequate defence force that is properly trained, equipped and supported.
Thorough assessments of equipment needs are being undertaken as part of the review of the Defence Program. Once the priorities are determined my Government will act without delay to acquire the chosen equipment. An order for medium range transport aircraft for the RAAF is expected to be placed within the next few months.
A plan for a new cadet system is being drawn up. The new style cadet corps will retain the essential virtues of cadet training, but will seek to rely more heavily on voluntary support from the community.
The Government places importance on improving the Defence infrastructure, and has directed that a number of studies be undertaken in relation to our Western seaboard. These include an examination to expedite completion of HMAS Stirling in Cockburn Sound, and the early establishment of a Joint Services training area at Yampi Sound.
The new Defence organisation established by the Defence Reorganisation Act will facilitate the development of a Defence Force in keeping with Australia’s needs. A Defence Council has been established to facilitate the access by the Minister for Defence to all relevant advice and information concerning the control and administration of the Armed Services and to ensure that the views of the services are reviewed by an appropriate body.
The Government is firmly committed to furthering equality of opportunity for women in education, employment, and in public life. It will encourage the full participation of women in all aspects of Australian life to ensure that their contribution of skills and talents is used to the full. The Commonwealth Public Service Superannuation Scheme to be introduced shortly has been amended to make better provision for women employed by the Government.
The Government recognises the major contribution that migrants have made to Australia.
It will intensify action to meet the needs of migrant and ethnic communities in Australia.
In order to consult adequately with migrant communities, the Government will see that consultative committees are established in every State.
It will cooperate with the States and migrant communities in disseminating ethnic languages and cultures.
It favours the provision of migrant advisory services and assistance schemes in industry and will encourage industry to take a greater responsibility for the welfare of migrant workers.
The Government will make available adequate numbers of bilingual staff in public hospitals and government departments.
The thrust of the Government’s policy in Aboriginal Affairs is to promote self-management and self-sufficiency for Aboriginals. To this end the Government will be considering ways of providing opportunities for Aboriginals to play a significant role in setting their long-term goals and objectives, priorities for expenditure, and in evaluating existing programs and formulating new ones.
The Government will introduce legislation to establish a new Home Savings Grant Scheme. The Government will review the Housing Loans Insurance Scheme.
The Government is conscious of the need to protect and improve the nature of the environment.
To provide a coherent national approach to pollution control, the Government will discuss national environmental standards and criteria with the States. As soon as those discussions have been concluded, legislation will be introduced.
The implications of the affirmation by the High Court that the Seas and Submerged Lands Act 1973 is valid for the administration of all offshore operations, are now under close study and appropriate revised arrangements are being worked out in cooperation with the States. In these consultations the Government will seek to work out an appropriate basis of cooperation with the States not only in relation to particular industries but in particular for the protection of the marine environment.
The subject of privacy will be referred to the Law Reform Commission. The terms of reference will be settled after consultation with State Attorneys-General. After consideration of the Commission’s report the Government will introduce appropriate legislation.
The Government will continue to implement the Family Law Act.
Australia has a fine record of achievement in the creative and performing arts.
It is the Government’s intention to encourage their continued growth and development, and to emphasise the development of young talent. The Government also believes thai the States and private interests can play a crucial part in the healthy and vigorous growth of the arts.
The Government will give effect to the National Gallery’s policy of giving first priority to purchasing Australian Art. Australia’s National Gallery should hold the very finest work of Australian artists of all periods.
The Government will support a more vigorous sponsorship of exhibitions which will give more Australians ready access to the art and culture of other countries.
The Government will continue to encourage the rapidly growing Australian Film and Television Industry.
Further development of the creative and performing arts will add greatly to the depth and value of life in Australia.
The purpose my Government has set itself is not merely to give Australia prosperity, predictability and stability. It is also to develop in a rational and sensible fashion a new and exciting role for government- one which places more reliance on the commonsense and reason of the Australian people.
Australians are increasingly well educated, they have a high capacity to participate in and shape the decisions that determine their future. My Government is determined to develop these possibilities in the process of government in a manner never before undertaken.
We have a unique opportunity to establish in Australia a truly liberal and humane society- to demonstrate that independence and freedom are not only compatible with action to assist the disadvantaged but inseparable from it.
The Government is not concerned with power for itself. It is the servant of the Australian people. Its purpose is to work with the people to create an Australian democracy which will be an example to the world of what a free people can achieve.
I now leave you in the faith that Divine Providence will always guide your deliberations and further the welfare of the people of Australia. (His Excellency the Governor-General and members of the House of Representatives retired)
Sitting suspended from 3.47 to 5 p.m.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Condor Laucke) took the chair at S p.m., and read prayers.
– I inform honourable senators that I have received from His Excellency the Governor-General a Commission to administer to honourable senators the oath or affirmation of allegiance.
Commission laid on the table and read by the Clerk.
– I inform the Senate that I have received a copy of the opening Speech which His Excellency the Governor-General was pleased to deliver to both Houses of the Parliament.
Motion (by Senator Withers) agreed to:
That consideration of the Speech of His Excellency the Governor-General be made an order of the day for the next day of sitting.
– I have the honour to inform the Senate that the Ministry is as follows:
Minister for Administrative Services, VicePresident of the Executive Council and Leader of the Government in the Senate- Senator the Honourable R. G. Withers.
Minister for Environment, Housing and Community Development- Senator the Honourable Ivor J. Greenwood, Q.C.
Minister for Industry and CommerceSenator the Honourable Robert Cotton.
Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister in Public Service Matters- The Honourable A. A. Street.
Minister for Education and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister in Federal AffairsSenator the Honourable J. L. Carrick.
Minister for Social Security and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister in Child Care Matters- Senator the Honourable Margaret Guilfoyle.
Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs- The Honourable M. J. R. MacKellar.
Minister for the Northern Territory and Minister Assisting the Minister for National Resources- The Honourable Evan Adermann.
Minister for Post and Telecommunications and Minister Assisting the Treasurer- The Honourable Eric Robinson.
Minister for Construction and Minister Assisting the Minister for Defence- The Honourable John McLeay.
Minister for the Capital Territory- The Honourable Anthony Staley.
The first 12 Ministers named will comprise the Cabinet. The Leader of the House is Mr Sinclair and I shall be the Leader of the Government in the Senate.
I now announce the representations. I shall represent the Prime Minister in all matters except Federal Affairs and Child Care. I shall represent also the Minister for National Resources, the Minister for Foreign Affairs and the Minister for Defence. Other representation arrangements in the Senate are as follows: Senator Greenwood will represent the Minster for Employment and Industrial Relations, the Attorney-General and the Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs;
Senator Cotton will represent the Minister for Overseas Trade, the Treasurer, the Minister for Primary Industry and the Minister for Transport; Senator Carrick will represent the Prime Minister in respect of Federal Affairs and the Minister for Post and Telecommunications; Senator Guilfoyle will represent the Prime Minister in respect of Child Care matters and the Minister for Health, the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs, the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and the Minister for Repatriation; and Senator Webster will represent the Minister for the Northern Territory, the Minister for Construction, and the Minister for the Capital Territory.
Senate Ministers will be represented in the House of Representatives as follows: Mr Street will represent me; Mr MacKellar will represent the Minister for Environment, Housing and Community Development; Mr Howard will represent the Minister for Industry and Commerce; Mr Viner will represent the Minister for Education; Mr Hunt will represent the Minister for Social Security; and Mr Adermann will represent the Minister for Science. I also announce that the Government Whip in the Senate is Senator Chaney and the Deputy Government Whip in the Senate is Senator Martin.
- Mr President, I ask for leave to make a statement relating to office holders in the Opposition in this chamber.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
-I inform the Senate that the Parliamentary Labor Party has elected me to be its leader in this place and Senator Keeffe to be my deputy. Senator Douglas McClelland has been appointed manager of Opposition business in the Senate. Senator Georges has been elected Whip and Senator Mcintosh Deputy Whip.
Senator WEBSTER (Victoria -Minister for Science and Leader of the National Country Party of Australia in the Senate- Mr President, I seek leave of the Senate to make a short statement relating to the Leadership of the National Country Party of Australia in the Senate.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
-Mr President, I wish to congratulate you again on your election to the high office of President of the Senate. I also congratulate my colleagues in the Ministry, especially Senator Withers on his appointment as Leader of the Government in the Senate. Senator Wriedt, too, is to be congratulated on his election as Leader of the Opposition in the Senate.
Mr President, I will bc the Leader of the National Country Party of Australia in the Senate. Senator Maunsell is the National Country Party Whip in the Senate and Senator Scott has been elected as the Deputy Leader of the Party in the Senate.
- Mr President, I seek leave to make a statement about my Party’s leadership.
– Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
-Despite the many changes in representation in the national Parliament, there has been no change in the leadership of my Party in the Senate; I retain that position.
- Mr President, I give notice of the following motions:
That, in pursuance of section 13 of the Constitution of the Commonwealth, the senators chosen for each State shall be divided into 2 classes, as follows:
That the days of meeting of the Senate, unless otherwise ordered, be Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday of each week; and that the hour of meeting, unless otherwise ordered, be half-past two p.m. on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, and eleven a.m. on Thursdays.
That, during the present session, unless otherwise ordered, the sittings of the Senate, or of a committee of the whole Senate, be suspended from one p.m. till a quarter past two p.m. and from six p.m. till eight p.m.
That, during the present session, unless otherwise ordered, at half-past ten p.m. on Tuesdays, eleven p.m. on Wednesdays and five p.m. on Thursdays the President shall put the question That the Senate do now adjourn’, which question shall be open to debate; if the Senate be in Committee at that hour, the Chairman shall in like manner put the question ‘That he do leave the chair and report to the Senate’, and upon such report being made the President shall forthwith put the question ‘That the Senate do now adjourn’, which question shall be open to debate: provided that if the Senate or the Committee be in division at the time named, the President or the Chairman shall not put the question referred to till the result of such division has been declared; and if the business under discussion shall not have been disposed of at such adjournment it shall appear on the notice paper for the next sitting day.
That, on all sitting days of the Senate during the present session, unless otherwise ordered, Government business shall take precedence of all other business on the notice paper, except questions and formal motions, and except that general business take precedence of Government business on Thursdays, after three p.m.; and that, unless otherwise ordered, general orders of the day take precedence of general notices of motion on alternate Thursdays.
Answers to Questions on Notice- Incorporation in Hansard
That the following procedure shall apply in lieu of that provided in Standing Orders 102 and 103:
The Clerk shall place notices of questions on the notice paper in the order in which they are received by him.
The reply to a question on notice shall be given by delivering the same to the Clerk. A copy thereof shall be supplied to the senator who has asked the question, and such question and reply shall be printed in Hansard. Provided that any senator who, pursuant to this standing order, has received a copy of a reply may, by leave, ask the question and have the reply read in the Senate.
That, notwithstanding anything contained in the Standing Orders, the procedure for the presentation of petitions be varied as follows-
1 ) A senator desiring personally to present a petition shall notify the Clerk when lodging the petition. When presenting such petition to the Senate, the senator may announce-
The senator may ask that the petition be read by the Clerk: provided that, unless otherwise ordered, a petition exceeding 250 words may not be read.
Mr President, these are the formal notices of motion which are given by the Leader of the Government in the Senate. I indicate to the Opposition that unless we could reach very rapid agreement it would not be my intention to call on these matters before Thursday of this week.
-Mr President, I give notice that, on the next day of sitting, I shall move:
That the Senate is of the opinion that the Government should maintain all services to Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders at not less than the standard established by the previous Labor Government.
– I give notice that, on the next day of sitting, I shall move:
That the Senate is of the opinion that-
The boundaries of the electoral divisions for the House of Representatives aspresently drawn are in need of urgent revision because of their present imbalance:
To eliminate the large informal vote cast for the Senate at the double dissolution elections of 1974 and 1975 the Government should legislate to introduce optional preferential voting; and
There is a need for legislation to be introduced limiting electoral expenditure and making public disclosures of the sources of funds made available to political parties and candidates.
- Mr President, I give notice that, on the next day of sitting, I shall move:
That the Minister for Administrative Services, in conjunction with his associated Ministers, should accelerate the release of land to the Government of the State of New South Wales which will provide essential sports arenas for Sydney to enable that city successfully to hold a future Olympic or Commonwealth Games, namely,
Moore Park Engineers Depot.
Upper foreshore reaches of the Parramatta River.
Senator MULVIHILL (New South Wales)- Mr President, I give notice that, on the next day of sitting, I shall move:
That in each instance where technological changes phase out the use of a lighthouse on the Australian coastline, any land herein before reserved and thereby made available be retained by the Australian Government as a fauna and flora reserve.
-Mr President, I give notice that, on the next day of sitting, I shall move:
That the Senate ask the Government to make such funds available as will enable projects commenced during International Womens Year 1975 to continue and be expanded, and take urgent and immediate steps to eliminate all forms of discrimination against women in Australia, and to actively encourage the elimination of discrimination against women in all parts of the world.
-Mr President, I give notice that, on the next day of sitting, I shall move:
1 ) The Senate expresses its concern at the fiscal implications of the Government’s ‘new federalism ‘ policy for the Australian States.
The Senate declares that to whatever degree the Fraser Government implements its stated policy of making State governments responsible for raising the money that they spend, the four less populous States particularly will be financially disadvantaged.
-Mr President, I give notice that, on the next day of sitting, I shall move:
That the Senate expresses its concern about the implications of the Government’s investment allowance policy.
-Mr President, I give notice that, on the next day of sitting, I shall move:
That the Senate requests the Government to undertake an immediate investigation into food prices, including:
The correlation of production costs to retail prices: and
The disparity between prices paid to primary producers and the end cost to consumers.
Assent to the following Bills reported:
Income Tax Assessment Bill (No. 2)1975.
Income Tax Bill 1975.
Income Tax (International Agreements) Bill 1975.
Cities Commission (Repeal) Bill 1975.
Captains Flat (Abatement of Pollution) Agreement Bill 1975.
Appropriation Bill (No.1 )1975-76.
Appropriation Bill (No. 2) 1975-76.
Motion (by Senator Withers) agreed to:
That the Senate do now proceed to elect a Chairman of Committees.
- Mr President, I propose to the Senate for its Chairman of Committees, Senator the Hon. Thomas Charles Drake-Brockman, D.F.C., I move:
– I second the motion.
- Mr President, I propose to the Senate for its Chairman of Committees, Senator Melzer. I move:
– I second the motion moved by the Leader of the Opposition.
– Are there any further nominations? There being no further nominations, I invite the 2 candidates to address the Senate.
– I submit myself to the will of the Senate.
– I submit myself to the will of the Senate.
– There being 2 nominations, in accordance with the Standing Orders a ballot will be taken. Before proceeding to the ballot the bells will be rung for 3 minutes. (The bells having been rung)
– Order! The Senate will now proceed to the ballot. Ballot papers will be distributed to honourable senators, who are requested to write upon the paper handed to them the name of the candidate for whom they desire to vote. The Clerks will distribute ballot papers to all honourable senators. The candidates are Senator Drake-Brockman and Senator Melzer. (A ballot having been taken)
– Order! If all honourable senators have voted the Clerks will now collect the ballot papers. I invite Senator Webster and Senator Wriedt to act as scrutineers for the ballot. ( The ballot papers having been counted)
– Order! The result of the ballot is: Senator Drake-Brockman 36 votes; Senator Melzer 27 votes. Senator DrakeBrockman is therefore elected Chairman of Committees.
– I would like to thank honourable senators very much for electing me Chairman of Committees and for the honour they have conferred on me. But I am mindful of the responsibility that goes with the position. I realise that the job holds a lot of responsibilities and I recognise also from past experience in the position of Chairman of Committees that one must have the co-operation of all senators. I would hope that I would be able to obtain that because I recognise that if the Senate is to operate efficiently- I think that we would all like it to operate efficiently- a standard must be set and maintained by all. I believe that the person occupying the Chair is the one who should give a lead in this. I will endeavour at all times to give a lead when I am occupying the position of Chairman of Committees. I would hope that I could obtain the co-operation of all senators. I look forward to working with you, Mr President, in the interests of the Senate and senators.
– On behalf of the Government I congratulate Senator Drake-Brockman on his return to this important office of the Senate. We are all delighted to see him back in the post he held so ably between 1965 and 1969. He won the respect and admiration of all of us who sat here in that period for his fairness and firmness. He had such a knowledge of the Standing Orders that it was often a very courageous but unwise senator who crossed him on either the content of the Standing Orders or the proper interpretation of them.
Senator Drake-Brockman, as we all know, has had a long and distinguished parliamentary and ministerial experience. We congratulate you, senator, and we assure you that when you are in the chair, we on this side of the chamber will do all we can to make certain that the Senate is conducted as it ought to be.
Senator WRIEDT (Tasmania-Leader of the Opposition)- I cannot say that I am so delighted at Senator Drake-Brockman ‘s election. Just as I said to you this morning, Mr President, I hope that his stay in the office will be as brief as possible. Nevertheless I congratulate Senator DrakeBrockman on behalf of the Opposition. I know that he will continue the sense of fairness for which he is noted in this place. In that regard I look forward to his occupancy as Chairman of Committees, but I must stop at that.
Senator WEBSTER (Victoria-Minister for Science)- I, of course, am delighted to congratulate Senator Tom Drake-Brockman on his election as Chairman of Committees. Senator DrakeBrockman has been a member of the Senate since 1958 when he was appointed under section 15 of the Constitution by the Western Australia Parliament. He was re-elected in 1964, 1970, 1974 and 1975. He was a Commonwealth Minister for 3 years. He. was Minister for Air between 1969 and 1972 and Acting Leader of the Government for a period in 1972. Additionally he was a Temporary Chairman of Committees for 3 years and Chairman of Committees between 1965 and 1969. He was Acting President of the Senate for a term during 1966. All honourable senators who know of Tom DrakeBrockman ‘s worth will realise that we have the services of an outstanding senator. In addition to his outstanding parliamentary service Senator Drake-Brockman has been an active sponsor of rural interests for many years. This followed his outstanding military service as a member of the 10th Light Horse and his service in the Royal Australian Air Force including active service overseas for which he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.
Today is a unique day, no less for Senator Drake-Brockman. He is the only senator since Federation to have been elected to the position of Chairman of Committees on a second occasion, there being an intervening period between the 2 elections. That is of great credit to him. I am sure that all honourable senators present are aware of Senator Drake-Brockman ‘s outstanding capabilities which uniquely qualify him for the position of Chairman of Committees.
– I have always had a greater affection, I must say, for the literary branch of the senator’s family than I have for the legal branch, but I hope the honourable senator will bring the best of both of those worlds to this very important office. I congratulate him on being elected.
-I associate myself with the remarks made and congratulate Senator Drake-Brockman. I look forward to working with him in this chamber on committees.
– I move:
I also indicate that we would naturally expect the Chair and the whips to exercise a discretion at about a quarter to one and a quarter to six as they see fit.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Senator Withers) proposed:
That the Senate do now adjourn.
Senator Sir MAGNUS CORMACK (Victoria) (5.35)- Mr President, I sent you a note earlier this afternoon asking that you provide me with an opportunity, as I might catch your eye, when the motion for the adjournment was put down. You have been kind enough to permit me to catch your eye and I am grateful that you have provided me with this unusual opportunity to address the Senate on the motion for the adjournment on the very first day on which the Senate sits. My reason for addressing the Senate is that we have witnessed today the most unusual circumstances that have existed, as far as I am aware, in the parliamentary history of this country. They are unusual in the sense that I recollect that only one member of the Australian Labor Party was sitting on the Opposition benches. But, be that as it may, the reason I am on my feet is that speeches have been made congratulating various people on doing this, that and the other and remarking, by inference, how important it is to see that the parliamentary institution is maintained. I want to say to honourable senators who are gathered here at the present moment that the reason we have ceremony in a parliament is so that men and women can sit together and be associated together in ceremonial circumstances which are the means by which friction is avoided.
– I think that the unprecedented action of Senator Sir Magnus Cormack in speaking in the adjournment debate on the first day of sitting has achieved its purpose. It shows how much the Government forces were concerned about the absence from the chamber of the Opposition on this occasion and how embarrassed they were by it. Senator Sir Magnus Cormack, as an upholder of ceremonial procedure, was greatly embarrassed by it. I do not want anyone to believe that we members of the Labor Party derived any enjoyment from being absent from the ceremony today. We believe in conventions; we believe in the practice of parliament; we believe in parliamentary democracy. It is only because that was so disrupted and destroyed by the unconstitutional action of a person who calls himself a Kerr -
– I raise a point of order, Mr President. I ask under standing order 417 that the honourable senator withdraw that remark.
-Standing order 417 precludes any disrespectful reference to His Excellency the Governor-General or to Her Majesty.
-Apparently Government senators took exception to the word ‘a’. I will address him as Mr Kerr. He acted in accordance with a plot that was conceived by him and the-
– I take a point of order. Standing order 417 is quite simple, quite distinct. It says that one must not use words which are disrespectful to the Crown or its representative. Mr President, to allege that the Governor-General of this country entered into a plot, I submit, offends against standing order 417.
-Senator Cavanagh, there is offence in your statement in respect of standing order 4 17.
– I should like to raise a point of order. I am sorry to do this so early in your career, Mr President, but it seems to me to be rather unusual that you have allowed Senator Sir Magnus Cormack to refer to Senator James McClelland and other members of the Opposition as chimpanzees without any redress from you whatsoever. The most highly insulting remarks were made by Senator Sir Magnus Cormack and yet you, Mr President, were very prompt to act on points of order taken by the Opposition. I hope that will not be the pattern of your behaviour, Mr President, while you occupy the chair.
-Senator Wheeldon, the interpretation you have placed on those words is incorrect in my opinion. I would have pulled up Senator Sir Magnus Cormack on what he said if I had had the same impression as you did.
– I regret causing all this concern in the Senate. I think some of the blame must be taken by Senator Sir Magnus Cormack. Mr President, I accept your ruling and I accept Senator Withers’ remark that to reflect upon the representative of the Crown is unparliamentary. I take it that Senator Withers accepts that to say that Sir John Kerr was part of a plot is some reflection upon the representative of the Crown and, therefore, should not be said in this Parliament. If that is so, and only because it is unparliamentary, I shall not proceed with that line of argument and shall withdraw the remarks that Sir John was part of the plot. But it is well known that he had a conversation with the Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia. It is well known that he was in consultation with the Leader of the Opposition at that time and sought advice from outside the Executive Council as to what he should do in a constitutional crisis.
Possibly I am free to say that Malcolm Fraser and Sir Garfield Barwick were part of a plot and that His Excellency the Governor-General was the instrument by which the plot they conceived was put into operation and that he unconstitutionally dismissed a government which had been elected by the people of Australia and which had the full confidence of the people’s House. After that Government was dismissed a motion of no confidence was carried against the appointed Prime Minister by the people’s House. Contrary to the whole Constitution a government that was given a mandate to operate for 3 years was dismissed by an individual who came into this House today expecting us to pay homage to him. We find no credit in that, but Government senators cannot accept the fact that we should not have been here to pay homage and to condone the action that was taken on that occasion. I think it is a justification of the Australian Labor Party’s attitude. No honest Labor man in Australia- the Labor Party represents 42 per cent of the electorate- will in the future attend a function where Sir John Kerr is in attendance. During last week I had unfortunately to decline donating to a charitable organisation because its sponsor is a man who does not have the respect of a large number of Australian citizens. That is part of the sacrifice. If there were any honesty and decency in the individual he would resign his post of Governor-General of Australia in view of the large number of Her Majesty’s subjects who disagree with the action that was taken.
– I am sorry that Senator Sir Magnus Cormack had to make such a hasty and rather clumsy exit as I should have liked him to have heard what I had to say about him. His sanctimonious little sermon to the Senate would have been more acceptable if he had shown a little more courtesy and good manners earlier in the day. It did not go unmarked on this side of the chamber that a couple of the rivals that you had for your election to the Presidency of the Senate, Mr President- Senator Young and Senator Davidson- had the good grace to stand in their places and to compliment and to congratulate you. I am sure that we all admire them for their sportsmanship m so doing. But we noticed that the man who has just left us so rapidly and who read us such a sermon in good manners and civility did not have the grace to do so. So his words fell on our ears with a great clang this afternoon. He does not uphold the best traditions of this place. I wish he had stayed to hear me say this about him. I do not think he shed any credit on himself at all today. I hope that the affairs of the Senate will be conducted in this session with a greater attention to civility than we have had from a man who should be an exemplar of civility in this place.
– I feel it would be remiss of the Senate to overlook a motion of condolence that has been moved in another place this day on the death of the Premier of the People’s Republic of China, Chou En-lai. It is of great importance to us as a part of this hemisphere that we pay diplomatic tribute to this great person who has gone into history on this occasion of great national grief for the 800 million people of his country with whom he shared their march into liberation from domination by colonial people in other parts of the world. I am advised that a motion on this matter will be moved in the Senate tomorrow. I had not been previously advised of this. I knew that a motion had been moved in another place and I wanted personally to pay this tribute to the great leader of this very fine race of people, the
Chinese people, and share in their grief at the loss of their leader. I hope that the Australian people will realise in future how important it is for us to have good diplomatic relations with these people as human beings on the march forward to a great future after the liberation of their nation from the domination and surveillance that it has suffered over the centuries.
– I inform the Senate that I knew that the motion adverted to by Senator O’Byrne was to be moved in another place. In fact I think 3 such motions were moved in the other place today: One concerned the deceased Prime Minister of Malaysia and one the deceased Prime Minister of Nigeria. I have been informed that the practice of the Senate has been not to move motions of condolence on the first day of sitting; otherwise these motions would have come before the Senate this day. I know a number of honourable senators wish to speak to these motions and they will be moved at the first opportunity tomorrow.
-Apropos of the earlier remarks of Senator James McClelland I must say that I was warmly congratulated in another place by the honourable gentleman to whom he referred.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 5.50 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 17 February 1976, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1976/19760217_senate_30_s67/>.