30th Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Condor Laucke) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– It is with deep regret that I inform the Senate of the death this morning of Senator the Honourable Ivor John Greenwood, Q.C. I seek leave to move a motion of condolence.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
This morning Australia received tragic news. After a lingering illness our colleague Senator Greenwood died in Royal Melbourne Hospital. His premature death comes as a major blow to me personally and, I am sure, to all honourable senators. Ivor John Greenwood was born in Melbourne in 1926. His early schooling took place at Hartwell State School and Mont Albert Central, before he won a scholarship to Scotch College for the last 4 years of his secondary education. He went on to Melbourne University where he combined a study of law with an active interest in politics and established an early reputation as a vigorous debater- a reputation which remained, rightly, throughout his life and especially throughout his parliamentary career.
Joining the Liberal Club at the University, he became its President in 1947 at the age of 21. Two years later he became President of the University’s Students Representative Council. His activity at that age became characteristic of his intensity later. As well as an early and active interest in politics, his career in his chosen professionthe law- was a distinguished one. He first became Associate to Sir Frank Kitto of the High Court and later to the Chief Justic Sir Owen Dixon. In the period between those 2 positions he was admitted to the Victorian Bar in 1951. From then on he continued to pursue his 2 first loves, the law and politics, in a career that saw parallel achievements in both. The year after his admission to the Bar he became a member of the Victorian Liberal Party Executive, serving there from 1952 to 1966, when he became VicePresident of the Liberal Party of Victoria. While his legal career progressed- principally in equity and in commercial cases- he entered enthusiastically into the affairs of the legal fraternity, becoming secretary to the Law Council of Australia, a position he held from 1963 to 1968.
In 1969 he took silk. His zeal from involvement was, I believe, an important pan of his character. He had a real and personal work ethic and he worked not only vigorously but also effectively. His performance- be it in politics or at the Bar- was characterised by an intensity rarely seen and much to be envied. He was a passionate believer in causes, a zealous crusader for principles and a man of undisputed courage. Ivor Greenwood believed most of all in the rule of law- a belief that perhaps led to some people misunderstanding his motives and his character. It is sometimes forgotten that early in his political career he fought strongly against his own Party’s attempt to outlaw the Australian Communist Party. He did not, of course, support communism but he did support people’s individual freedoms. He supported the rule of law.
His deep involvement in politics came to fruition in 1 968 when he filled the casual vacancy caused by the resignation from the Senate of the Right Honourable John Gorton. His progress within the Parliament was as swift as his activity outside it. His record of promotion speaks for itself: Three years after entering Parliament he joined the Ministry as Minister for Health and 5 months later became Attorney-General, a post he held until the 1972 general election. The respect for him afforded by his colleagues was shown by his becoming Deputy Leader of the Opposition in December 1972. Throughout his parliamentary career Senator Greenwood was, I believe, respected by all sides not only for his integrity and honesty but also for his formidable skills as a debater. He was, without doubt, one of the strongest, most vigorous and most skilful debaters this chamber has ever seen. For that alone he will be missed.
I first met Ivor Greenwood when we were both delegates to the Federal Council of the Liberal Party before either of us had entered this Parliament. Like all who knew him, I was immediately impressed. Our personal association continued when he became a Victorian senator and from 1968 until I became Government Whip in November 1969 he and I shared a room in the old parliamentary wing of Parliament House. As
I recall those days, across the corridor Senator Young and Senator Rae shared another room. In those days we all stayed at the Hotel Canberra. One recalls the many hours that the four of us spent together putting right the affairs of the country, of the world and of people in general. It was during that time and, of course, later, as our association developed, that I came to know a side of Ivor Greenwood that was rarely seen in public. Despite his zest for work and his passion for causes- a passion that at times was misunderstoodhe had not only real and genuine compassion for people but also a highly developed sense of humour. He was a highly talented mimic and a very skilful raconteur. Most importantly, he had a capacity to laugh at himself.
When I became Leader of the Opposition in 1972 Ivor Greenwood was elected by his colleagues as my deputy. Throughout the subsequent 3 years he and I maintained an even closer and more successful working relationship. I have said before and I say again that without Ivor’s support, encouragement and assistance I believe the Opposition which I led during that period would have been far less effective. For that all honourable senators on this side of the chamber owe him an enormous debt. After the Liberal Party returned to government he became Minister for the Environment, Housing and Community Development. There again his passion for hard and long work was patently evident. For Senator Greenwood that portfolio was a new challenge and one which he accepted enthusiastically. He combined his voracious capacity for work and study with a determination to discover everything about his new portfolio. He did it very well. Men with the qualities of Ivor Greenwood, with a deep sense of personal commitment to a wide variety of causes and a determination to follow up that commitment vigorously and forcefully, a passionate devotion to work and yet a sense of compassion and a sense of humour, are rare. Like all my colleagues, I have not just lost a close colleague and associate; we have all lost a very close friend.
– I rise on behalf of the Opposition to support the remarks of the Leader of the Government, Senator Withers. I shall not reiterate in detail the career of Senator Greenwood; that has already been stated. That career was undoubtedly a distinguished one. My knowledge of Ivor Greenwood was, of course, restricted to his parliamentary work. I had no association with him in the legal world but it is obvious that as a man of the law he was unquestionably a very successful professional practitioner. There is also no doubt as to his ability in the Parliament. He held very senior positions in the Parliament, both on parliamentary committees and in other areas. I can always recall former Labor Senator Harry Cant, a member of the Senate Select Committee on Offshore Petroleum Resources of which Ivor Greenwood was Chairman from 9 December 1969, saying to me that Ivor Greenwood was a most competent person on that Committee. The Committee produced a voluminous report into which a tremendous amount of work went. It stands not only as a testimony to members of the Committee but also, I believe, to Ivor Greenwood in particular.
However, it was in other areas that his impact was felt in the Parliament, especially in his capacity as a Minister and as Deputy Leader of his Party in the Senate. All honourable senators, especially those of us who were here during the years that he was with us, know that he was a person of very strong convictions. Those convictions were such, I think it is fair to say, as to place him in a position of confrontation with many honourable senators on this side of the chamber. None of us should reject persons in this Parliament who hold strong views, providing those views are ably argued and sincerely based. Ivor Greenwood was as capable of putting his arguments as anyone. Whether one agreed with them is not the issue. He was an extremely able debater.
I remember those hectic days of Vietnam when he so strongly took the Government’s position in the adjournment debate on many nights- a position with which we on this side of the chamber, of course, disagreed. But they were the views that he held. I believe he held them honestly because he was very strict in his interpretation of what was right and what was wrong. That, in itself, is no sin or crime against one’s fellow men, providing one really believes those views are right, and he believed his views were right. There is no question that the Parliament is the poorer now that he has gone. The Opposition deeply regrets that a man of his calibre has been struck down as he has. It is one of the ironies of life, I suppose, for all of us that this can happen. It is a tragedy for all of us but particularly for his family. I convey to the Senate, on behalf of the Opposition, our deep regret at the passing of Senator Ivor Greenwood and I extend our deepest sympathy to his wife and children.
– On behalf of members of the National Country Party in the Senate, I am privileged to speak to the motion moved by the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Withers) and supported by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Wriedt). I endorse their remarks in commendation of the former Minister and Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate. Every member of this chamber, indeed of this Parliament, was shocked and distressed in May this year by Ivor Greenwood’s sudden and severe illness. His death afflicts us with a deep sense of bereavement and a feeling of great loss.
Senator Greenwood had a very impressive parliamentary record. He made his presence felt in the Senate in debate from his first days as a senator in 1968. His mastery of detail and his allround competence were clearly displayed in the important and onerous portfolios that he administered- Health, Attorney-General and, in the brief period before his illness, Environment, Housing and Community Development. In each of the many Party and parliamentary positions he held in a tragically brief career he displayed tremendous strength of character, determination and courage- qualities which marked his preparliamentary life as a Melbourne Queen’s Counsel, Secretary of the Law Council of Australia and President of the Victorian Liberal Party. He had a distinguished start at the Bar. He was Associate to Sir Frank Kitto of the High Court and to the Chief Justice, Sir Owen Dixon. Ivor Greenwood said that he came to his political position through religion. He once said:
The most important thing in this world is the individual soul. To me it was the natural thing to move into a political ideology, where you endeavour to strengthen the individual personality and responsibility and call upon individuals to act on their own initiative.
Let me indicate his attitudes and the advice he gave to his colleagues. I again quote from a lecture which he gave at the Institute of Chartered Accountants of New South Wales in 1971. He said:
The task of maintaining the accepted rights of individuals, of protecting individual values, of encouraging individual enterprise and generally promoting the objective of self reliant individuals as indispensable for a self reliant nation is one of tremendous challenge but, if constantly pursued, is one of tremendous satisfaction. I trust that, as you prepared your profession for the 1970s, the qualities which you are striving to develop will make you receptive to the values which I have ventured to place before you all this evening.
Senator Greenwood had a great all round knowledge of government affairs. He was quick in decision and tough and extremely effective in debate. In addition to being a Minister of the highest calibre, he was a good citizen and a good Australian. His premature passing is a serious loss to the Government, to his Party and to Australia. If, as I believe to be the case, every act, important or even seemingly inconsequential, that is not actually wrong, attracts merit, Ivor John Greenwood will have ended his life with much to his credit. I am sure he had neither inclination nor time for wrongdoing. He did many things of great importance, as his distinguished record shows. My colleagues and I respected him as an unyielding and able fighter for the causes he espoused.
I pay tribute to Senator Greenwood as a true Australian and an upholder of the dignity and the traditions of the Senate. He was one of those people who considered that truth and virtue were above the external advantages of rank and fortune. My colleagues join me in extending to Mrs Greenwood and her son and daughter our deepest sympathy in their great loss. We trust that they will be given the strength to bear the burden of their sorrow.
-I would like to be associated with this motion. I knew Senator Greenwood from the time that he entered the Senate in 1968. 1 had a great deal to do with him during that period, both in the Senate and on a number of occasions outside the Senate. As it happened, like Senator Withers, I stayed at the same hotel or hotels in Canberra as did Senator Greenwood for the entire period he was a member of the Senate, and apparently when Senator Greenwood was not staying up with Senator Withers he was staying up with me. There were many occasions on which we discussed or argued various matters until the small hours of the morning. Despite the fact that one, knowing our respective ideologies, might not have thought we would have become particularly friendly, I think there was a relationship of some cordiality which developed between us.
In his activities in the Senate, it was not very often that I agreed with him, although there were occasions when I did agree with him. It has to be said of Senator Greenwood that unfortunately, unlike perhaps the majority of human beings, he always said what he meant and meant what he said. There was never the slightest doubt that when he said something that was what he believed. If he did not say something, one knew that the reason for his silence was that he did not believe in the proposition that was being put forward. There were a number of occasions on which it would have been perhaps to his advantage to temper the attitude which he adopted, but he did not do that. As Senator Withers mentioned, at an early stage in his political life he could well have jeopardised his career very severely by his opposition to the Communist Party dissolution referendum proposal. There were a number of occasions while he was a member of this Parliament when he did other similar things which I believe could have brought upon him some serious criticism. Nonetheless, he proceeded along the course in which he believed.
In his personal relations outside the Parliament he was certainly a very agreeable companion. He was a person whom it was a pleasure to talk to and a pleasure to discuss matters with, and from whom one could learn a great deal. The Senate is a much poorer place through the passing of Senator Greenwood. During the period that he has been absent from the Senate owing to his tragic illness the debates in this chamber have not been what they were while he was here. I believe that Senator Greenwood represented a strand of opinion within Australian society with which I personally, and I should imagine most members of the Australian Labor Party, would not feel we have a great deal in common. Nonetheless, he represented a legitimate section of the Australian people and he ably expressed his and their opinions. When Senator Greenwood spoke one knew he was speaking not only on his behalf but also on behalf of a number of other people who shared the opinions he expressed. The Senate is a worse place for his absence. I personally very much regret the fact that no longer will I be able to clash with him in the Senate or talk with him after the Senate has risen. I would like also to be associated with the condolences to Mrs Greenwood and the members of Senator Greenwood ‘s family.
- Mr President, I am grateful for the opportunity that you have provided to me to address myself to the motion moved by Senator Withers and supported by Senator Wriedt. I think it is proper that I should do this because I am the oldest senator from Victoria. My association with Senator Greenwood was longer than that of perhaps any other honourable senator sitting in this place at this time. I knew Senator Greenwood first as a young man in the University of Melbourne in the late 1940s when the schisms that divided the Australian society were perhaps even deeper and stronger than they are at the moment. He eventually became a member of the Liberal Party of Australia when I was its President. I had many quarrels with him but without any animosity. I once said to him at a meeting when he was a member of the executive of the Liberal Party that however much I appreciated and understood the arguments he was advancing I thought they would have wider acknowledgment and recognition in the future which I thought awaited him, when he would adorn the bench of the High Court of Australia. I think that had he lived he probably would have done so because he was a great lawyer who believed in the law and in the rule of law. It is not often that I feel impelled to speak to condolence motions. Only twice before on the occasion of the death of a senator have I felt that I should rise to my feet and address the Senate. When one is as old as I am one is constantly attentive to what one knows is going to happen. One knows that one will hear the grating of the ferryman’s keel upon the beach. I had thought in a whimsical sort of way that one day the time would come in the Senate when Ivor Greenwood would be passing some valediction on me, but I find myself in the extraordinary and sad situation of marking the death of a man who has died far too young.
Twice in his speech to this motion of condolence Senator Withers mentioned the word intensity’. There was a tremendous intensity in the late Senator. He felt deeply what he believed. It is often said about lawyers that they espouse a cause because they are paid to espouse it and therefore put the best possible tone on the cause they are espousing. That was not true at any stage with Greenwood. Greenwood felt intensely about everything he embraced in the context of political and parliamentary life. I think it was his sheer intensity which ultimately destroyed him, but this intensity was allied to that very important character and quality- honesty. He not only had intensity and honesty but with total and absolute courage he also embraced causes in which he devoutly believed. I was glad that Senator Withers mentioned the 1951 Communist Party Dissolution Act, also adverted to by Senator Wheeldon, because I was present in my Party executive at the time when Greenwood took his courage and his future political life in his hands by opposing a cause which had been embraced by the then Prime Minister and leader of the Liberal Party, Sir Robert Menzies.
I have a sense of enormous sadness. It is as though I had seen a bright and flaming meteorite pass across our skies, suddenly sink into the darkness and then disappear. The sadness I feel is not only personal, it is also because such a bright light has been extinguished from the Australian parliamentary and political life. So strongly did I believe in Greenwood’s capacity that I found myself in a curious position when he first came into the Senate to fill a casual vacancy, as has been mentioned. During the week in which he arrived I was able to persuade my Party not only that he should be appointed to a committee- committees were very hard to reach in those days- but also that the committee should have the sense to elect him as its chairman. As was mentioned by Senator Wriedt, this was the Senate Select Committee on Off-Shore Petroleum Resources. It is unquestionable that that Committee whose report which was finally presented by other members who succeeded Senator Greenwood, found its case resting in the High Court of Australia. The High Court of Australia upheld the thesis that that Committee had projected- projected to a substantial degree by Senator Greenwood.
I remember his future wife, Lola, coming to me one day and saying: ‘I want to tell you something, Senator. ‘ I asked: ‘What is that?’ She said: I want to tell you more than most people that Ivor Greenwood and I have become engaged to be married’. My reply was: ‘Well, thank God for that, because no man is worth two penn’orth of gin unless he has a good woman beside him and now he has decided to marry, and to marry you, there is no limit to the future to which he can aspire and you, as his wife, will accompany him. ‘
Therefore this morning I had an enormous sense of sadness when I was told that he had died. I had a sense of intellectual sadness- really of gratefulness- that in fact he had died. That was an intellectual observation which I had made to the Government Whip when he told me of Senator Greenwood’s death. I went on then to say to the Government Whip that I had a sense of overpressive sadness in an emotional sense that this man had gone from among us. I think that if the younger members who sit in this Senate have the opportunity that should have been accorded to Greenwood- of living their life out to the fullest extent- they will see in their time something that I always imagined Greenwood would finally achieve. I listened to the observations and comments by honourable senators about this quite remarkable man. He came from the most humble circumstances and espoused the political causes which are alleged, without truth, to come only from the privileged. He was a member of an Australian society that is highly mobile, and may it long continue that men of his quality can aspire to and reach the positions of power, authority and prestige which Greenwood reached through sheer ability.
I am glad that Senator Wriedt mentioned that Greenwood had a sense of humour. One of his problems as a parliamentarian was that he believed that humour had no place in the Parliament. But in his latter days in this Parliament he began to allow his charming, delightful sense of humour to seep through when he was a Minister sitting where Senator Carrick and Senator
Cotton are now sitting. He had a delightful sense of humour. It is a pity that in his earlier years in this Parliament he did not allow it full scope. As I listened I began to paraphrase the last lines of The Idylls of The King on the death of King Arthur
The barge with oar and sail has moved from the brink Like some full breasted swan
Until the hull looks one black dot against the verge of dawn
And the memory will remain with those members of the Senate who sit now in their places until all of us have gone.
I want to associate myself in a most fundamental way with the sadness that must have overtaken his wife, who was the great support and authority in his life in his later years. I hope that she will at least be solaced by the genuine expressions of sympathy which honourable senators have accorded this afternoon on the death of her husband.
– I wish to be associated with the motion that has been moved by Senator Withers and with the remarks that have been expressed by all honourable senators. It is with personal regret that I am associated with these comments because I had a long association, of some 30 years, with Senator Greenwood. He was known to us all as a Liberal Party member and I do not think that that was ever in doubt when he met people in the political spectrum. He is known to us as a competent lawyer and I think above all as a person who expressed integrity in whatever he did. His personal philosophy and personal qualities were somewhat remarkable. His life was all too short. I spoke with his wife on the evening after the severe attack he experienced. She said: But he had so much that he wanted to do’. I think that we would all agree that those things that he was able to do were done very well indeed.
I would like to reflect on the night of his preselection I was one of the members of his preselection committee. He said after winning it: ‘I went in there knowing that I had only one vote ‘. I think we would all feel that that was characteristic of him because he often went in knowing that perhaps he had no votes at all but that he would win the argument. That pre-selection resulted in his coming here to fill the casual vacancy. I was privileged to be a member of the 1970 Senate team and we campaigned together. When I entered the Parliament he was of great assistance to me. I well recall the warmth to be found in his office during those long days and nights when we were in Opposition. He gave a great deal of assistance to those of us who held shadow portfolios but did not quite know the way in which things should best be done. For all of those things we express our gratitude, but I believe that above all we express the gratitude of Australians when we recall his political service. The notable thing is that as I have been moving around Australia during the past months I have been asked about him by people at meetings I have attended-people who might not have known him personally but people who said that their prayers were with him and his family.
He had many things that he wanted to do. I spent some time with him following a late Cabinet meeting on the evening before the severe attack which he suffered. He had been preparing to go before our Economic Committee with his proposals in relation to his Department and the work that he hoped to do in the new sphere of activity which had become his responsibility. I think those people who worked with him in that Department recognise his integrity in the work that he put into those new activities which perhaps many people had not believed would be of personal interest to him. He had hoped to attend the Habitat Conference. Many new areas of work had been opened up to him in his new Department that I feel sure would have been undertaken with the same intensity- if I may use that word again- that he had displayed in relation to many of the other things that he had done in his other areas of responsibility.
We regret today that after a life of almost 50 years there were many things left that he would have been able to do had his life been extended. But we in this place are grateful for the expressions of personal courage which he showed, that capacity for work and the quality of leadership that he showed both in Opposition and in Government. It is for those things that we remember him today. I join those who pay a tribute to his wife, who shared his political interests with him. She is a woman of great courage and ability. She gave him very great personal support throughout his political life. I know that very often he would question what would be her reaction to something that he had said or done or to an interview that he had given. I know that she shared closely with him all of his experiences in Parliament and in the wider political sphere. I join those who express to her our loving sympathy at this time. I join in the hope that she will be able to give courage to John and Deidre, his children, to understand that they had a father who has given service to this country in a very deep sense and who, I am sure, had a great personal effect on their future lives.
-I wish to support the Leader of the Government in the Senator (Senator Withers) in his motion of condolence to the late Ivor Greenwood I deem it a great personal honour and privilege to have known this great Australian. He was not just a colleague to me, but a friend. I knew him to be a warm hearted, compassionate and generous person. My first meeting with Ivor Greenwood was when I came to this place in 1971. I had not known him prior to that. He was younger than I but treated me as an older brother would. He took me under his wing, as it were, and counselled and guided my early steps in this chamber. I always found him to be generous in the time that he gave, although I never knew a more hard working man. He always had time to give to those who sought his counsel. He gave of his friendship generously and unstintingly to all who sought it. When I look around this chamber this afternoon and see the sombreness of those in tendance, I am sure that passing through all of our minds is the thought that amidst life there is death. A fine Australian has been cut down in the prime of life. He had so much to contribute not only to the debates in this chamber but also to Australia and to its people. As has been said by my Leader, he was a strong person in debate. He entered into debate with zest and zeal. He sought no quarter, and my gosh he gave none. But that was Ivor Greenwood, because anything that he took on, he took on with the strong and firm belief that what he was fighting for was right and in the best interests of the Australian people. I join with my Leader in proffering condolences to his wife and children. I pray that God will give them the strength and courage that they so sorely need at this time.
-I am very pleased to join in this motion of condolence today, and to pay tribute to my long-standing friend and colleague, Senator Greenwood. I do not repeat the things which have been said about his fine career and his political career in this chamber because they have been well said by members of this chamber and by the leaders of the parties. His achievements are known to us and I think they are known to Australians.
I would like to say a few words about Ivor Greenwood personally and record them at this time because I think I can claim to have known him probably longer than any member of this chamber, to have been his friend for over 30 years and to have been associated with him for so many years of his life, prior to the short period we were together in this chamber. We met as students at Melbourne University, where he succeeded me as President of the University Liberal Club and went on to have a very successful university career and including a full involvement in student politics generally. I saw then that he had the determination and the great desire to serve his country in the way in which he thought was best for the country. Later in the Young Liberal movement, in which I enjoyed a very close association with him for many years, I saw not only his intense interest in politics and political issues and causes for which we fought together for so many years but also his very great enjoyment of social life and sporting life- because he was, all round, a man who was capable of enjoying life and its various aspects. He was no narrow person in any sense at all.
Later, on the Liberal Party executive, one saw again the way in which he fought for principles and causes. For years, before he became a member of Parliament, as an organisation man, he was at all times intensely interested in the Liberal organisation and its future and he worked for it at all times. Over 10 years he competed with success in interstate debating competitions, winning with his colleagues State and national championships. This laid the foundation for a great debating career which, of course, he was also exploiting in a career in law, with great credit to him.
In the course of all the various associations that I had with Ivor Greenwood I noticed qualities that I think stood out, and they have been mentioned in part today. He was always of the belief that he could serve his country and do something useful for his country. He believed in the ideas he was speaking about and he fought for them to the extent of his strength, and unfortunately beyond his strength, as we have seen. But it is to his credit that he tried and did achieve the things he sought to achieve. His integrity has been spoken of a number of times today and it is good to repeat it because it was a fundamental feature of Ivor Greenwood that he had integrity- that in his intellectual ability and his arguments there was integrity. In his personal life there was integrity. His personal life was based, I think, fundamentally on the fact that he came from a very fine family. His parents are most worthy Australian citizens and fine people whom I numbered among my friends. They and other members of his family helped to make him the man he was in the community and the man he was in politics. He had a strong Christian belief. This has been mentioned. He at all times maintained that belief and he lived worthily by it. I think it will certainly be to his credit in the eyes of us all and in the eyes of someone who probably has a greater power to do something about it.
Apart from these things there was about him kindness and consideration which might not have been seen so easily by the public because that was not a side that was open to the public gaze. He was thoughtful about people. He performed many acts of kindness to people. He was very popular in his circle of friends. He was greatly thought of. It was not just because he was a political figure that he was liked; he was liked because of the man that he indeed was. He had a conscientiousness which I think was so great that one saw its effects in the days before he took sick. At that time he was indeed very exhausted and he was working harder than he should but he was determined to make a success and carry out valuable work both in his portfolio and in the Parliament. This wore him beyond the strength which anyone could muster.
I knew him well as a lawyer and I knew the respect in which he was held as a lawyer in Victoria and also outside Victoria as a result of his work on the Law Council. As a lawyer, he was conscientious in his work. He was not a man who probably made a lot of money out of the law. He was a very conscientious lawyer who worked extremely quickly and effectively. Therefore, he took cases which involved a lot of work but were not necessarily those that brought one easy fortune. In all these areas he was a man who worked extremely hard and he earned very great credit from those who were associated with him in the law. I believe he will be remembered for the things he has done. I think and I hope he will be remembered by us in this Parliament, and by those who have been associated with him, for his integrity and for all we have gained from knowing him.
My wife, friends and associates in Melbourne and the people in Victoria generally will pay to his wife, Lola, great tribute. We feel for her today. We have felt for her during the long period of sickness which she has seen and which she has suffered with such bravery and with such wonderful spirit. She is a great credit to the country and a great credit to Ivor. We all extend to her our deepest feelings in this great time of need. Ivor’s life was short but it was a good life worthy of being remembered by all those who had any association with him. I hope it will be remembered as a fine example of a fine Australian.
– I rise to speak briefly on this very sad and moving occasion. I do so purely to speak on a personal level about
Ivor Greenwood. I first met Ivor in student politics in the immediate post-war years to which both Senator Sir Magnus Cormack and Senator Missen have referred. I came to know him very well then and, of course, I knew him again very well in this place. I knew him best in the first and the last years of his notable career. When I first met him I think we had both been presidents of our respective University Liberal Clubs. We were both then engaged in student politics in our respective representative student bodies. When I first knew him I think he was the only Liberal who was on the Melbourne University Students Representative Council. That Council, at that time, was dominated by political forces to which he was, as we would all expect and understand, violently opposed. He fought single handedly for some time for his principles in that atmosphere. It was my deep admiration for the way in which he did conduct that battle for his principles which first greatly attracted me to him. As a result of my admiration for him I formed a friendship with him which lasted nearly 30 years.
Mention has been made of his opposition to the proposals to outlaw the Communist Party in the early days of the Menzies Government. I think his attitude to that was even more remarkable in the light of his experiences in his student political days when he fought vehemently and strongly with a number of very notable communist student leaders. Yet it was so typical of him that he should have fought his own Party and his own colleagues so strongly to defend the rights of communists to express their viewpoint.
I do not propose to speak about my association with him in this place in recent years because his work here and his character have been well known to us all and have been expressed so firmly this afternoon. But I should like to say that from the first meeting I had with him and the early days of our friendship I was very conscious of all those great traits of his character which have been mentioned today. His great ability, of course, was clear. His integrity and the vigour with which he pursued his principles has also been clear from those earliest days. He saw politics as a great debate about fundamental issuesabout major principles. That was what he was interested in and that was what he pursued. He always eschewed the short term tactical advantage. I do not think he was really interested in tactics in politics or even much interested in strategy. Certainly he took no part in intrigues. He was interested in the great principles and issues which he pursued so mightily. I always felt after any conversation I had with Ivor that I was somehow purified by his strength and purpose and by his feelings for these issues.
I wish also to express my deepest and loving sympathy to his wife, Lola, his children and to his other family, including his mother. For me, Ivor’s death has meant a very great and personal loss. It has been a tremendous loss to all of us but I think to most of us it has meant the loss of a very great friend.
-Might I be permitted to make a short contribution as a postscript to the most appropriate and eloquent speeches that have been made. My impression of Ivor Greenwood was of his robust ability, his outstanding integrity and his unique capacity for work, all of which achievements came not from privilege but from those opportunities that he cultivated and, for which he was most grateful, and which were afforded to him by his hardworking parents. Ivor Greenwood took up the law and expounded the principles upon which the rule of law is built most eloquently by his obedience to them.
As a lawyer he was beset with the difficult task of coming here and being entrusted with the most difficult portfolio of health. We all look back upon the confident way in which he mastered that portfolio, despite the obviously strong criticism which came from the Opposition. Then, on entering upon the field of his own disciplinethe Attorney-Generalship- he guided us through legal advice in government but most especially in Opposition, where he carried the foremost responsibility. Ivor Greenwood’s tremendous effort towards the political cause that he supported, which in his view demanded a change of government in the critical days of last November, contributed to the victory that was achieved. It was followed by his assumption of the most difficult portfolio of Environment, Housing and Community Development, to which he was completely unaccustomed. He tackled that portfolio and in 3 short months won the acceptance of the Opposition that not only was he a fit disciple of the principles but also was deserving of support from those with whom he worked closely. It was the intensity of those new difficulties, added to the burden that he discharged last year, that led to the collapse of the wonderful abilities that were Ivor Greenwood. After an ordeal of 5 months of distress it is only fitting that we pay tribute to him and extend our sympathies to his mother, sister, wife, children and friends in a most genuine spirit of appreciation of a man of superlative worth.
– I rise to support this very fine motion of sympathy moved by the Leader of the Government (Senator Withers) and so very well supported by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Wriedt) and honourable senators generally. I rise because there is one aspect of Senator Greenwood’s work which has not been touched upon by previous speakers in this chamber; that is the 3-year term that he served as a member of the Regulations and Ordinances Committee. I have served on that Committee for almost 27 years, with almost 20 years as Chairman. In that time I have seen some very capable and outstanding senators serve on that Committee and render great service to the Parliament and this country. Senatory Ivor Greenwood was one of the outstanding senators who served on that Committee. He was a very valuable member because of his great legal knowledge, combined with his parliamentary knowledge.
I found him a very warm, friendly and human person. He was a very sincere person with whom one could easily have a conversation and discuss matters. What I liked about him was that, whatever he believed in, he believed in strongly. He was not a half-baked Liberal. He really put his feet firmly on the ground and stood behind what he believed were Liberal principles. He was a man of great courage and had, I think, one of the nicest and most attractive personalities that one could meet in a man. I feel that his honesty of purpose and sincerity are something which will always remain in the hearts and minds of those of us who had the great privilege and honour of serving with him. With his passing at such an early age the State of Victoria, which he served as a senator, has sustained a great loss. Australia has sustained an even greater loss. Those of us in this chamber and in the Parliament have, I believe, lost someone whom we could always look upon as a friendly person, whether we were on his side of politics or the other side. Ivor Greenwood was a Christian man. He believed in his Christian principles. I hope that his soul will rest in accordance with his beliefs. 1 found him a very valuable friend, a warm and friendly person. I extend my sympathy to his wife and family. I hope his work in this Parliament and in other fields over the years will always remain as a memorial to the great man that he was, to the great Australian and the great parliamentarian that he was. I hope his work will always be remembered for its quality and its sincerity.
-I thank the Senate for the opportunity of associating myself with the expressions of condolence which have been so ably expressed from both sides of the chamber. I had a very short association in this place with Senator Greenwood, but I knew him as a practising lawyer before he was a senator. As a solicitor in Victoria, I remember his coming to the Victorian Bar. I followed his career with great interest. In a very short time he reached a position of eminence and had the respect and esteem of all members of the legal profession. His untimely passing is a grievous loss not only to the Senate but to the people of my State and to the Australian nation. I express my sympathy and join with the expressions of sympathy to his widow and family.
-As the only Independent senator, I join with the Leader of the Government in the Senate, Senator Withers, the Leader of the Opposition, Senator Wriedt, the Leader of the National Country Party in the Senate, Senator Webster, and all those who have paid tribute to the late Senator Greenwood in supporting this motion. I cannot add to what has been said by the people who quite obviously were his friends. I did not know him before I became a senator, but his reputation was widespread. I knew him through his reputation. That reputation was one of fairness, courage and dedication to principle. I would like the Senate and his family to know that in the last three or four months, when going around my State, many people asked about Senator Greenwood’s health. That truly amazed me until I learned that the people who asked me realised that he was a man who stood for principle, a man who believed that the law should be available to protect the weak from the powerful. He fearlessly pursued this belief, not only for the ordinary people but also for the ethnic minorities when those minorities were under severe harassment from the powerful and the mighty in this country. So many people owe so much to Senator Greenwood’s self-sacrificing dedication. Mrs Greenwood and her family shared and are now sharing in a very real sense that spirit of dedication and self-sacrifice. They deserve our respect. We pray that this spirit will be sustained.
– I ask honourable senators to signify their assent to the motion by standing in silence.
Question resolved in the affirmative, honourable senators standing in their places.
Motion (by Senator Withers) agreed to:
That as a mark of respect to the late Senator Greenwood the sitting of the Senate be suspended until 8 p.m.
Sitting suspended from 3.36 to 8 p.m.
– I present the following petition from 17 citizens of Australia:
To the Honourable the President and Members of the Senate in Parliament assembled. The petition of the undersigned respectfully showeth: That the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Bill 1976, does not satisfy the Aboriginal needs for land in the Northern Territory. Your petitioners most humbly pray that the Senate, in Parliament, assembled should:
Extend the freeze on European claims to the unalienated Crown Lands of the Northern Territory until 12 months after the passage of the Bill; and to provide for speedy lodging and heating of Aboriginal Claims. The hearing of the Aboriginal Claims have been postponed as a result of Government decisions, Aboriginals should not be penalised.
Amend the Bill to ensure:
The removal of all powers to pass Land Rights Legislation from the Northern Territory Legislative Assembly, particularly its control over sacred sites, entry permits, control over the seas adjoining Aboriginal land, the fishing rights of non-Aborigines, the right of Aborigines to enter pastoral stations and control of wildlife on Aboriginal land.
The control of Aborigines of all roads passing through Aboriginal lands.
The restoration of the Aboriginal Land Commissioner’s powers to hear claims based on need as well as traditional claims lodged by Aborigines.
The restoration of all powers vested in Land Councils and the Land Commissioner in the 1975 Land Rights Bill.
A provision that any Government decision to over-ride Aboriginal objections to mining on the basis of national interest itself be reviewed by both houses of parliament.
A provision that land-owning groups of Aborigines may apply to form separate trusts if they wish.
The removal of artificial barriers to traditional owners imposed by the Territory Borders on all tribes so affected.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray.
As the petition exceeds 250 words, under the Sessional Order, it is not able to be read to the Senate, but the full text of the Petition will be incorporated in Hansard.
– I present the following petition from 238 citizens of Australia:
To the Honourable the President and Members of the Senate in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth that:
Concerned at the record number of building workers registered for unemployment benefits in N.S.W.;
Aware of the Australian Bureau of Statistics Report for N.S.W. revealing a drastic fall off in both commencements and approvals for future commencements, of building projects this year as compared to previous years;
Alarmed at the fact that 1568 building apprentices were registered for unemployment benefit payments during the month of July in N.S.W.;
Conscious of the fact that most of the unemployed apprentices will never be able to complete their training (thus creating a continuing problem for the industry, and indeed the community as a whole) unless immediate urgent measures are provided for in the Federal Government’s Budget;
We the undersigned citizens of New South Wales in the Commonwealth of Australia by this our humble petition respectfully request that Members of the Senate insist that the 1976-77 Budget provides specific measures to lift building activity particularly welfare housing, schools, hospitals and other public buildings above the present dangerously low level;
We request that the Budget be returned to the House of Representatives with instructions from the Senate to include such measures.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray.
– I present the following petition from 1 8 citizens of Australia:
To the Honourable the President and Members of the Senate in Parliament assembled. We, the undersigned citizens of the Commonwealth do humbly pray that the Commonwealth Government:
Subscribe to the view that the Australian Broadcasting Commission belongs to the people and not to the government of the day whatever political party.
Eschew all means, direct or indirect, of diminishing the independence of the Australian Broadcasting Commission.
Reject all proposals for the introduction of advertising into ABC programmes.
Develop methods for publicly funding the Commission which will prevent the granting or withholding of funds being used as a method of diminishing its independence.
Ensure that any general enquiries into broadcasting in Australia which may seem desirable from time to time shall be conducted publicly and that strong representation of the public shall be included within the body conducting the inquiry.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray.
Petition received and read.
– I present the following petition:
To the Honourable the President and Members of the Senate in Parliament assembled. The petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
That there is a great concern and alarm of the removal of some Government support for St Luke ‘s Hospital, Garden Settlement and for other institutions providing care for the aged within Queensland.
That the removal of grants is causing unnecessary hardship to those aged citizens of Australia who are dependent upon continued care and accommodation.
That the removal of grants has caused unnecessary unemployment and hardship for those who were previously employed in duties caring for the aged in those centres where reduction in grants have been made.
That the aged, and others within Australian Society who are least able to defend themselves against the arbitrary acts of Governments should be spared from these unnecessary cuts.
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the government should reconsider its decision to cut the budgets of these institutions and immediately restore the grants to enable these institutions to continue their high standard of dedicated and unselfish care for the aged and infirm in the community.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray.
Petition received and read.
– Petitions have been lodged for presentation as follows:
To the Honourable the President and Members of the Senate in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth that the recent budgetary allocations endanger the quality of Australian education, especially for disadvantaged groups, and, in particular, for migrants, Aboriginals and tertiary students from poor backgrounds.
Your petitioners believe that all persons admitted to institutions of tertiary education in Australia have a right to adequate living conditions and that it is the responsibility of Government to ensure that sufficient funds are allocated to protect that right.
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray:
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray, by Senator Wriedt. Petition received.
To the Honourable the President and Members of the Senate in Parliament assembled. The petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth objection to the Metric system and request the Government to restore the Imperial system.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray, by Senator Townley. Petition received.
– I address a question to Senator Carrick as Minister representing the Minister for Post and Telecommunications in this chamber. In view of public concern over the future role of broadcasting and television in Australia will the Government release the report of the Green inquiry before it determines the future structure of the industry?
– I will bring the honourable senator’s question to the notice of the Minister concerned.
– My question, addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Transport, concerns the sites of Omega stations. Is the Minister able to inform the Senate where in the world Omega stations, either completed installations or installations in progress of construction, are situated? Can he say anything about the existing or proposed network of Omega stations?
– The aim for the Omega network is to have 8 stations so situated around the world that at any stage any vessel, vehicle or aircraft may, by triangulation of 3 stations in wide juxtaposition, get signals from the three and therefore fix its position on the earth’s surface. My understanding is that the first of the stations was established 4 years ago in North Dakota in the United States of America. Subsequently one station has been established in Norway, one in Japan, one in Hawaii, one in Trinidad which was replaced by one in Liberia, one in the Argentine and one in the Reunion Islands. If that totals seven, and I think it does, the other one is to be located in the Tasman Sea area. If there is one in that area the aim is that any vessel or vehicle will, by triangulation, be in correct juxtaposition to 3 stations.
– My question is supplementary to that asked by Senator Baume. Is the Minister aware that within a 1000 kilometre range of any proposed Omega station in Australia the beacon will not be available for vessels of any description in that area? In view of that fact, can he tell the Senate which are the 3 stations currently established in the world which will give the triangular position to shipping in south eastern Australian waters?
– I am not aware that one can say specifically that within a 1000-kilometre range of one station the triangulation will not work; it is desirable to be a considerable distance from stations. For example, if you were 600 miles away from a station your accuracy would be greater. I think the accuracy by day would be of the order of 2 miles and much the same by night. I am not aware which stations would form the actual triangulations There would clearly be a different one used by ships in the Indian Ocean from that used by ships in the Pacific Ocean. I have reminded the honourable senator that there are stations in places such as Hawaii and Japan. They would be the two clear fixes for ships within the Pacific. In any case, the essential situation is that the scientists of the world have demonstrated that with the current 7 stations plus the eighth- the Tasman Sea has been specified- it would be possible for vessels and vehicles on the earth’s surface to be covered by triangulation.
-My question is directed to the Minister for Social Security in her capacity as Minister assisting the Prime Minister in child care matters. Can the Minister inform the chamber when the Australian Pre-School Association will be informed as to the Government’s proposed assistance for 1977? The position is becoming urgent as many pre-schools have already advertised for next year’s staff and are now wishing to engage the successful applicants.
– I hope to make an early statement about arrangements for funding for pre-schools beyond the end of this year. I am aware of the necessity for an early announcement to assist the State governments and other organisations which require information about future funding. I expect to be able to make an announcement shortly.
– Is the Minister representing the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs aware that some residents of Bairnsdale in Victoria took up a petition to have 2 Aboriginal families removed from a street in that town? Is she also aware that the petition has now been endorsed by the Bairnsdale Council? As this must surely constitute racial discrimination, I ask the Minister whether urgent measures can be taken to have the Commissioner for Community Relations investigate this case?
– I am not aware of the petition referred to in the honourable senator’s question. If the position with regard to Aboriginal families in Bairnsdale is as the honourable senator states it, it is a matter that could be dealt with by the Commissioner for Community Relations. I would assume that he, the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs or the people concerned could have the matter referred to him. I will see that the Minister is informed about the matter.
– My question, which is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Transport, refers to the decision by the Government to reject the application by MacRobertson Miller Airline Service to operate charter flights between Port Hedland and Bali on the grounds that the Government believed there would be a call for reciprocal rights to be granted to Indonesia and that a new Qantas Airways Limited service between Perth and Bali would satisfy the demand. I ask whether in fact the Indonesian Government requested reciprocal rights if the application for charter flights between Port Hedland and Bali was granted. Has the Government reason to believe that Indonesia will not seek reciprocal rights because of the new Qantas service between Perth and Bali? Further, does the Government believe that the Perth-Bali service will appeal to the isolated areas of the Pilbara, which are the areas to which it was supposed to appeal? Do people in those areas realise that the Port Hedland-Perth flight is of the same duration as the Port Hedland-Bali flight, a matter of 2 hours?
-Clearly Senator Sim has posed a series of questions each of which requires a specific and detailed answer. I ask him therefore to put the question on notice and I will get an answer for him.
– My question, which is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Post and Telecommunications, is very closely related to the question asked by the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate, Senator Wriedt. I ask the Minister: Is it the intention of the Government to abolish the Australian Broadcasting Control Board and to establish a new body with authority over all broadcasting bodies including the Australian Broadcasting Commission? Will the Minister confirm or deny that there is ground for the growing concern in the community that such a new body would have authority to impose radio and television licence fees?
– There has been no policy decision whatsoever by the Government of the day to change the existing broadcasting organisations including the Australian Broadcasting Control Board. When the Government makes any decision relating to reform of the broadcasting system that will be announced. As to the second part of the question, there is no intention whatsoever by the Government to reintroduce broadcasting or television licences.
– My question is addressed to the Minister representing the AttorneyGeneral. Is it a fact that delays in the hearings of applications by the Family Courts are increasing and that the number of unheard applications is increasing in Melbourne at the rate of approximately 60 a month? Is the same situation developing in other Family Courts? Is it also a fact that the estimated delay in the hearing of defended cases is now approaching 2 years, which is nearly as long as the delays under the old Matrimonial Causes Act? What is the Government proposing to do by way of further appointments to the Family Court of Australia to alleviate this situation?
-The Attorney-General is very much aware of the problems referred to by Senator Missen in the question. I accept the detail in respect of delays in the hearing of applications which the honourable senator mentioned. Although I do not have any particular instructions in regard to this, I am sure that the figures that the honourable senator has given are correct. If that is the situation consideration must be given to it. As the Senate would know, the Attorney-General is negotiating with the State governments which have not established their own State Family Courts, as has the State of Western Australia, to ascertain whether they would at this stage be prepared to establish such courts. I think that while those negotiations are going on there may be some question about the desirability of appointing additional judges to the Federal Family Court. However, I will certainly pass the honourable senator’s question on to the Attorney-General. I am sure he is aware of the problem and I am sure he will give urgent attention to it.
– I ask the Minister representing the Prime Minister a question about sorting out our relationship with Indonesia over the Timor question. I ask: Has the Government entered into negotiations with Indonesia to agree upon a sea bed boundary between Australia and East Timor? If so, is this not only de facto but also de jure recognition of Indonesia’s sovereignty over East Timor and in contradiction of the statement by Senator Withers in reply to a question asked by Senator Missen on 5 October when in conclusion he said that he was certain that Mr Peacock would continue in the future to use his best endeavours to see that some selfdetermination is brought about in East Timor?
-The whole question is predicated on whether or not the Government has entered into negotiations for a new sea bed boundary between Australia and East Timor. I have no knowledge whether or not that is a fact, but I will seek information for the honourable senator.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Post and Telecommunications. With the likely reintroduction in the lesser States of eastern silly time under the guise of eastern summer time instead of eastern standard time, supposedly to save daylight- I am at a loss to know how or where daylight is stored while it is being savedcan the Minister advise on what time scale the people on eastern standard time will receive Australian Broadcasting Commission programs such as the news that are initiated in other States operating under the temporarily different time scale?
– Of course, some solutions can be offered. One alternative solution is for Queensland to adopt eastern summer time and then no such problems would arise. Assuming the assertion of the right to be different, what happened in the past, as I understand it, is that the radio stations and television stations recorded the programs and rebroadcast them so that in fact the curtains did not have to fade in Queensland and the people heard their programs on time. I am not aware that there is any difficulty with this matter, but if there is any likelihood that the programs will not be readjusted I will bring the question to the attention of the relevant Minister and seek a reply.
– My question is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. From the answers he gave yesterday to questions on East Timor, it appears that the Indonesian Government is distorting the Australian position on East Timor. If that is so, is the Government willing to take the following initiatives to counter the deceit of the Jakarta generals and support fully the right of self determination of the East Timorese people: Firstly, authorise communication with East Timor through Telecom and provide a licence for a radio to operate from Darwin; secondly, call for a moratorium on defence aid to Indonesia until all Indonesian troops have been withdrawn from East Timor; thirdly, urge the Indonesian Government to allow Australian observers to go to East Timor; fourthly, fully support the right of self determination for the East Timorese in the United Nations during the current session; fifthly, refuse to send further aid to the Indonesian Red Cross and continue to press for the involvement of the International Committee of the Red Cross; and finally and importantly, release all details of the Indonesian invasion of East Timor held by the Australian intelligence agencies?
-There are 6 parts to the honourable senator’s question. They range over a number of portfolios, not simply that of the Prime Minister. I will seek the information for the honourable senator.
– Is the Minister representing the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations aware of the success achieved in placing unemployed school leavers in jobs as a result of a community service project called ‘Operation Youth Power’ conducted by ADS television channel 7 in Adelaide? Is the Minister aware that the scheme covered school leavers aged between 16 and 21 years and operated between January and March 1976? Has the Minister’s attention been drawn to the claim that 979 persons were referred to 421 job vacancies and 316 persons were placed in employment as a result of the channel 7 job seekers program? Will the Minister investigate this matter with a view to encouraging the implementation of similar programs in other States and expanding the program to cover temporary employment for students during university and school vacations?
– I have been given some information about the scheme to which Senator Jessop referred, which apparently is known as Operation Youth Power’. I was very interested indeed to learn of it and particularly to hear the more elaborate details of it which Senator Jessop gave the Senate this evening. It does appear to me to be a very interesting and valuable example of private enterprise at work, particularly as it is directed towards such a valuable area of community service in finding jobs for school leavers and for those young people who are on student vacations. I think it is of interest to re-emphasise some of the figures which I cited in the Senate last Wednesday night during a debate on this subject. The peak number of 60 000 school leavers who were on the books as looking for employment at the peak period last year has been reduced to fewer than 12 000. Certainly it is a fact that a large number of those school leavers have obtained employment through their own efforts or with the assistance of other people acting on their behalf. It has not all been a matter of the Government seeking these positions. I think that schemes such as the one mentioned by Senator Jessop make a large contribution in this area. I shall certainly pass on to the Minister whom I represent the details of this scheme and I am sure that he will be as interested in it as I am.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Transport. I acknowledge that as the Minister represents another Minister in the other place he may not this evening be in possession of the information I seek. But I should appreciate his obtaining the information at the earliest opportunity and informing the Senate in due course. I am confident that he will do so. Is the Minister able to confirm the reported offer of $5 1/2m for a piece of land near Man’s Beach between Woodside and Yarram in the Gippsland district of Victoria for the establishment of an Omega base?
– I am in a position neither to confirm nor deny the statement but I shall seek the information for the honourable senator.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs. It has been reported in the Canberra Times and the Australian today that in a cable from the Australian Ambassador in Jakarta on 8 September this year it was mentioned that Mr Whitlam when Prime Minister was made fully aware by the Indonesian Government of its intentions to move into Timor to suppress, if necessary by force, and that Mr Whitlam indicated that he expressed the hope that any military action necessary could be taken as quickly as possible, which meant that if the killing of Timorese people were necessary it should be done as quickly as possible. Is this statement correct? Is it not the case that by Mr Whitlam purposely looking the other way he is partly responsible for the deaths of many Timorese people for if he had taken a firmer and less cowardly line last year would it not have been more likely that the present position in Timor could well have been very different with Australia able to hold up its head rather than bow it in shame as is the case now?
-The honourable senator refers to a Press report, I think he said in this morning’s Canberra Times. I have no information as to whether that is accurate. But if what was stated in the newspaper is correct I think the latter part of the honourable senator’s question is also correct. I have been saying here for some time that the present difficulties in East Timor would not have arisen if, when the matter first arose under the previous Government, Australia had taken the action which this Government took immediately upon taking office.
-My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs. Has the attention of the Minister been drawn to the scurrilous racist circular forwarded to members advising of the formation of the Anti-Semite League and which calls for, among other things, the deportation to the state of Israel of all Australian resident jews? Can the Minister advise whether this is one of the 23 racist organisations referred to by the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs in the House of Representatives? What action does the Government contemplate to enforce the letter and the spirit of the Racial Discrimination Act against the operation of such bodies? Will the Minister be tabling the report on these organisations, compiled by the office of the Commissioner for Community Relations, in order to inform the public and to protect prominent Australians such as the former Prime Minister, Sir Robert Menzies, who unwittingly accepted an invitation to become patron of one of these groups in the absence of knowledge of the aims and objectives of the organisation? Will the Minister assure the Senate that the Government will give increasing support to the Office and the officers of the Commissioner for Community Relations which, independently of government, have the task of combating racial discrimination in Australia.
– The question initially refers to a scurrilous racist circular prepared by an anti-semitic group. I have no knowledge of that circular. I can only refer that aspect to the Minister for his comment. The honourable senator asked also whether we would give an assurance with regard to the tabling of a report compiled by the Office of the Commissioner for Community Relations and use the office of the
Commissioner for Community Relations to ensure that there is no racial discrimination in this country. I am unable to say whether the Minister intends to table that report from that office. But I am able to give an assurance that this Government will do whatever is necessary to ensure that there is no racial discrimination of any kind in this country. I will refer the matter to the Minister to see whether there is any other information that I can obtain on this subject.
– Has the Minister for Education seen reports in today’s Sydney Morning Herald headed ‘Parents Say their Role in Schools is Thwarted ‘? Is the Minister aware that the President of the Australian Council of State School Organisations has claimed that the present Government has changed the policy of the previous Government and is now withholding certain education reports from public view. Is the Press report correct?
-I have in front of me the article from today’s Sydney Morning Herald headed ‘Parents Say their Role in Schools in Thwarted’. In the article the President refers specifically to a number of reports. She refers, for example, to the report of the working party on the transition from school to work. I inform the Senate that that report is currently being printed. It is expected that I may table it in the next few weeks. The report was requested by the Australian Education Council, was submitted to it on completion, and the Council has agreed to the Department of Education publishing it. So, there is absolutely no truth at all in any suggestion of withholding that report. The second report that was identified was the Henderson Committee report. My advice is that the report itself is at present in the process of being printed and in due course will be published. Several other reports are mentioned. They are interdepartmental committee reports. This Government, in common with the previous government, has the habit of not publishing such reports. There is no change whatsoever in the policy of the Goverment in regard to the terms of publication. There are no reports in the ordinary nature of reports being withheld. The two reports specified will be published.
-Can the Minister representing the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs inform the Senate whether Mr Hay has completed his examination of the land claims submitted by or on behalf of Aborigines in the Northern Territory? If the inquiry has been completed, will the Minister indicate when Mr Hay’s report will be tabled?
– I am unable to say whether Mr Hay has completed the report. I will inquire from the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs as to the stage of the report at this time and see what information can be given about the examination of land claims in the Northern Territory.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs. I refer to the report of the Western General Hospital in Melbourne that a survey showed that migrants from Lebanon, Turkey and Yugoslavia accounted for about half the industrial hand injuries. Can the Minister say whether the Department has done any research which would confirm a report of this nature? As the problem appears to arise from the inability of these people to read the safety signs, to understand the machines and to communicate effectively, can the Minister say whether industry is encouraged to use things such as international illustrated signs and to take other apppropriate educational steps? If not, will she inquire into the circumstances leading to this report? Will she get the Department to take the steps necessary to assist in the avoidance of these unfortunate and painful injuries?
– I did notice the report about hand injuries in industry referred to in the honourable senator’s question. I have no knowledge of the situation other than the information that was in the report. I share the concern of the honourable senator about the safety measures which would be taken. I believe that many of our factories have adequate safety precautions. I think that much of our trade union regulations and work conditions lead us to place great emphasis on safety. I think the report referred to by the honourable senator stated that many of these migrants are unaccustomed to sophisticated and technical machinery and that their previous experience had not led them to be aware of the necessity for safety measures. I will refer this matter to the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs and to the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations to see what measures are being taken at present and what others may be introduced to minimise industrial accidents of this nature.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Social Security. It relates to the grant to FILEF- the Federation of Italian Labourers, Emigrants and Families- under the welfare rights program which the Minister has decided to terminate at the end of the year. When did she make the decision to chop off FILEF ‘s grant, as she gave no indication when she visited its office on 13 July last that she intended to do so but she used the axe on 17 August? The first explanation was that there was duplication in 2 Italian organisations receiving grants, until it was pointed out that there were now 2 single parent organisations receiving grants. As her second explanation to the Estimates Committee last week centred on the proximity of the NOW-North West One Stop Welfare- shop at Coburg to the FILEF office, I also ask whether she has read the account of the NOW experiment in the Coombs report which refers to the lack of interpreter services there for the heavy migrant population? As the NOW shop cannot take the place for FILEF clients of an Italian information and advisory organisation, will she reconsider restoring the 6-month grant from the emergency funds at her disposal?
– An explanation of this matter was given to the Senate Estimates Committee. Obviously the honourable senator has referred to information given at that time. It is a fact that in July an emergency grant of $5,000 was given to FILEF. The emergency fund is one from which a once-only grant may be given, so I would be unable to consider the last part of the honourable senator’s question which suggested that a further grant be made from this emergency source. The other information referred to the basis on which the grants were allocated this year. The Government decided that there would be no extension to the number of grants available under this scheme. I had a very deep concern about the matter of sole parents and the need for support organisations for them. 1 believed that it was desirable to give a grant on this occasion to Parents Without Partners. The fact that other grants were available to migrant organisations was part of my consideration.
The NOW project at Coburg was set up as a multi-purpose centre for social activity. I would have believed that the proximity of that centre to the office of the FILEF organisation would have provided an alternative source of information and access to the services of my Department. These were the reasons why the decision was taken. I believe that the information given to the
Senate Estimates Committee and the information that has been given in the question show the basis of the new grant that has been given to the Parents Without Partners organisation and the reason for the termination of the grant to FILEF from the end of this year.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs. Can the Minister confirm that an instruction was given by the Department of Aboriginal Affairs to the Aboriginal and Island Legal Service that Aboriginal people are now subject to a means test to determine their eligibility for legal aid from the service? If the Minister does not have the answer to hand will she treat the matter as urgent, as many Aboriginal people could suffer from that instruction?
– I am not able to answer the question. I believe it may be more appropriate if it were referred to the Minister representing the Attorney-General as this service is one that would be closer to his responsibility than mine.
– I ask a supplementary question. The question was directed to the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs who I understand is responsible for funding the Aboriginal and Island Legal Service. It is an instruction by his Department to that service that I am questioning at the moment.
– In those circumstances I will refer the question to the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs to obtain information from him as to whether Aboriginal people are subject to a means test in the way in which the question suggests.
– I ask the Minister for Education how he justifies to the Senate and to the people of the Australian Capital Territory the failure of the Government, after 10 months in office, to implement legislation establishing a permanent schools authority for the Australian Capital Territory. Does the Minister agree that the funding and administration of education in the Territory will continue to be inefficient and confusing until the long-promised legislation is introduced? Can the Minister assure the Senate that the Government’s amendments to the draft legislation have not altered the present structure of the council of the Interim Authority- that is, that the community, parents and teachers are directly represented?
– As to the first part of the question, we would justify our action by saying that, in contrast to the 3 years of total failure by the Whitlam Government to do anything about a permanent ordinance, shortly after 10 months in office I will be tabling the ordinance for the permanent schools authority. So I justify our action totally in that way. As to the remainder of the question, when the ordinance is tabled the answers will be given to the honourable senator.
-Will the Minister representing the Treasurer confirm that the Australian Taxation Office insists that tax is paid within a certain time or else becomes subject to a punitive tax and that an interest payment is required on any unpaid amount? Can the Minister say whether the Taxation Office was tougher in this regard during the last year than previously? If the answer is yes, will this attitude be continued? Does the Minister agree that it would be only fair that, if the Government charges interest on unpaid tax, it should be required to add interest to any refunds, particularly those initially disallowed for some reason and subsequently allowed?
-The latter fine point of financial equity reminds me of a letter my father wrote to the Commissioner of Taxation some years ago making the same point. He received no satisfaction whatsoever. I think it is a fair point in financial equity that if a person is charged interest on overdue accounts of taxation to be paid by him then when the Taxation Office owes him money it is a reasonable proposition that it ought to compensate the person. I doubt whether it will succeed but it is a nice point in equity. I do not really know whether the Taxation Office is now being more or less difficult about interest rates on payments of tax that are perhaps being paid on an instalment basis or by people being granted time to pay. I shall certainly seek to find out whether there is any alteration in the Department’s behaviour or in its general pattern of instructions.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs. I refer to a report in the Australian this morning which under the headline Nareen target for Lee protests’ states:
A foreign students group, which gets $8,500 a year from the Federal Government, will demonstrate outside Mr
Fraser’s home at Nareen, Victoria, while the Prime Minister of Singapore, Mr Lee Kuan Yew is there.
– And you are upset about it!
– I could not care less how many overseas students or Australian students demonstrate against Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, but what I am concerned about and what my question is concerned about is the expenditure of public moneys for that purpose. How can the Government justify the provision of $1 1,400 to the overseas Students Service, which is a division of the Australian Union of Students, a wealthy organisation with a budget of over $650,000 compulsorily levied from students, particularly when such funds should be earmarked for aid purposes and could be spent on helping starving peoples in Asia? How can the Government -
- Mr President, I rise on a point of order. As one of the proposed demonstrators without a government subsidy I ask -
– Are you paying your own fare?
– I ask that the questioner put his question and not use question time for political propaganda. I remind Senator Withers that one of the most successful actions I took as a Minister was to stop him getting VIP carriage from Sydney to Perth.
– Order! Senator Harradine will ask his question but will not debate the question.
– How can the Government justify the expenditure of Government moneys of $ 1 1 ,400 for this purpose?
-This is a most interesting question. We have a lot of interesting information tonight. Firstly, we know that a number of Opposition senators support this demonstration. I would have thought that merely as a matter of courtesy one would not demonstrate against an overseas visitor.
– He commented about our internal affairs, did he not?
-I do not need to go into that, but manners always ought to be displayed. I can recall the great fuss and bother in this country when the Prime Minister of Yugoslavia visited Australia some time back. I can remember the fury and rage of the then Government about any possibility of demonstrations against him.
– There is the case of a bomber involving not words but a bomb, and I know it. The Minister knows the Marie case as well as I do.
– Order! The question has been asked. The Minister is replying to it.
-I am sorry to trigger off so many people, Mr President, but I would have thought that as a matter of good manners one does not demonstrate against a guest. Therefore I take it that the honourable senators who are going to Victoria to support the demonstration will not accept the Prime Minister’s hospitality and eat at the same table. I am delighted to hear that Senator Cavanagh is going without any government assistance. After all he is helping to restrain government expenditure. He will no doubt take himself there totally at his own expense, and for that I thank him. Honourable senators opposite obviously do not like the answer. The honourable senator who asked this question raised a matter of substance. As I understood his question it was: Why should the taxpayers be called upon to subsidise people to demonstrate against the Prime Minister and his guest?
– They are not doing that. The demonstration will be in their own time. How can that be related to the proposed expenditure?
– What also interests me is that Senator Georges seems to have such intimate and detailed knowledge of the whole operation. For that information I thank him.
– He is organising it.
-Does Senator Cavanagh say that Senator Georges is organising the demonstration? I think Senator Harradine is to be thanked for raising this matter, not so much for the question he asked but for the information which has flowed from the Opposition benches in respect of it.
-I ask the Minister a supplementary question. Is it not a fact that the organiser of this protest is funded by the Australian Government to the extent of $4,500 as evidenced by information given to Estimates Committee A? I refer the Minister to the reply of Mr Mentz, First Assistant Secretary, Training, Services and Organisation Division of the Australian Development Assistance Agency in respect of the funding of the overseas Student Service when he said:
I ask: Is organising demonstrations against visiting heads of State a function of the Australian Development Assistance Agency?
– It is a public duty.
– Here again, Senator Cavanagh has given us more interesting information than I am able to give Senator Harradine. Senator Cavanagh says it is a public duty. I well recall Senator Harradine asking the question concerning this funding in Estimates Committee A and I recall the answer that he has read out about the extent of the payment to the gentleman he named. I have no evidence as to whether it is a fact that that gentleman who is in receipt of $4,500 is organising the demonstration. Although I have no knowledge, I will seek it for the honourable senator.
– I ask a question of Senator Cotton as Minister representing in this chamber the Minister for Primary Industry. Can the Minister state whether any agreement was reached at the Dairy Industry Council meeting held on Friday of last week to continue the joint State and Federal price support to the dairying industry beyond the end of December 1976?
-I think a Press statement was issued after the meeting last Friday. It will inform the honourable senator to the same extent as it has informed me.
– I direct a question to Senator Carrick as Minister representing the Minister for Environment and refer to the action I took last Thursday in furnishing him with a telegram from the Fraser Island Defence Organisation which implied that the existing mining agreement was being breached and which the Minister undertook to check with both the Minister for National Resources and the Minister for Environment, Housing and Community Development. Has the Minister a feedback for me?
-It is true that the problem overlaps the 2 departments. It is almost certainly true that the question is really for the Minister for National Resources rather than myself but I have some information. I am informed that a dispute has arisen with the buyer in the case of the D.M. Minerals export contract regarding the terms of the approved export contract, giving rise to problems for D.M. Minerals. D.M. Minerals has approached the Government regarding possible alternative marketing arrangements. These would apply to mineral sands already produced or to be produced in accordance with the existing approved contract. No additional tonnage would be involved. The matter is being examined by the Department of National Resources in consultation with the Department of the Environment, Housing and Community Development. The Government will be concerned, pending its consideration of the final report of the Fraser Island environmental inquiry, to ensure the maintenance of the environmental safeguards previously adopted in relation to exports of D.M. Minerals. Also it would not wish to pre-empt the final report of the environmental inquiry.
– Can the Minister representing the Minister for the Environment, Housing and Community Development indicate whether any, and if so what, inquiry or investigation into the Australian Government’s role in and support for sport is proceeding? Has the situation changed since the inquiry which was announced- by the Press, I felt, rather than by the Governmentshortly after the Olympic Games? In particular, has the Government decided to pay any particular regard to the numerous inquiries and reports which are already available in this field?
-My recollection is that the Government instituted a departmental or perhaps an interdepartmental inquiry some months ago. I am not aware of the outcome of that inquiry or even whether the inquiry has terminated. I am not aware whether or not the inquiry took into account various other inquiries. Because of my lack of specific information I shall direct the matter to my colleague in another place and seek an answer for the honourable senator.
-My question, which is directed to the Minister for Social Security, refers to a situation, which I believe will become evident at the end of this year, in which a student leaving school at the end of this year will not be able to receive any unemployment benefit, if he or she is unable to find work, until the 1977 school year begins. In those cases where that situation occurs with a student 16 years of age or older, will that student’s family allowance continue to be paid until the school leaver becomes eligible for the unemployment benefit?
– The family allowance continues for the children in a family while those children are dependent children. It is not necessary for them to be attending school, because the family allowance continues to be paid for student children until they are 25 years of age. The family allowance would continue to be paid in the case of a 16-year old dependent child.
– I refer the Minister for Science to recent announcements by the Minister for Health implicating a bird, the nankeen night heron, as a possible carrier of Australian encephalitis. Can the Minister indicate to the Senate the areas in which this bird is found? Is there any evidence to indicate its capacity to travel? Is it known whether the bird acts as a passive reservoir for the virus or whether this impressively named bird acutally plays a role in the active dissemination of this very serious disease?
-I happen to have some detail on that matter. The honourable senator from New South Wales is well aware of the importance of the nankeen night heron. I am advised that the nankeen night heron is found in Australia wherever there is a permanent aquatic habitat. It frequents the wooded margins of swamps, estuaries, rivers and lakes, and feeds at night in wet swampy areas on insects, Crustacea, fish, frogs and mice. The distribution of the species extends from Australia as far as the Solomon and the Philippine Islands. Very little is known about the migratory habits of this species. The Division of Wildlife Research in the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation is providing technical assistance in field trips organised by the John Curtin School of Medical Research of the Australian National University in current studies of the relationship between birds and Australian encephalitis. With regard to information about the Australian encephalitis virus, I refer to a Press statement made on 3 October 1976 by my colleague, the Minister for Health, in which he announced a grant to Dr Ian Marshall of the John Curtin School of Medical Research to investigate the possible link between the virus and the nankeen night heron. I would suggest that questions about this project be directed to him.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Health. In her answer to a question by Senator McLaren yesterday concerning precautions against the entry into Australia of, among other things, foot and mouth disease following the Prime Minister’s visit to General Suharto’s farm she said:
I understand that precautions were taken at the time of the visit, that shoes were encased in plastic . . .
Does she know that a journalist who was there has stated that he was not wearing plastic covers and as far as he knows no other member of the party, including the Prime Minister, was wearing them.
– On their feet?
-Yes, on their feet. Clearly this information directly contradicts her understanding as stated yesterday. Will she reinvestigate the matter to determine whether Australia’s livestock industry has been exposed to the unnecessary danger of foot and mouth disease?
– I have no information other than that which I expressed yesterday as an understanding of what precautions had been taken. I understand that the Leader of the Government has information on this matter and that he would be prepared to answer further the question that was directed to me.
-I am sorry that my colleague Senator Guilfoyle may have inadvertently given wrong information yesterday as a result of what I was trying to whisper to her while the question was being put. The only direct knowledge I have is that I saw the Prime Minister’s movement sheet for his arrival at Fairbairn airport and amongst the instructions I recall reading- that was on Monday night- that all shoes used during that visit had to be placed or kept in the plastic bags in which they had been placed and given to Customs, or perhaps it is the Department of Health, for fumigation. I tried to whisper this information to my colleague Senator Guilfoyle but she quite understandably misunderstood me and thought that these people were wearing some sort of plastic overshoes. All I can say- we both probably need more detailed informationis that, as I recall the list of instructions for those travelling in the party, precautions had been instituted and I assume they were taken.
– I ask a question of the Minister representing the Treasurer. Is the Minister aware of the drastic drop in the completion figures for multiple unit dwellings in the private sector between 1973-74 and 1975-76 from 41 576 to 26 512 as a result of the inability of owners to achieve a reasonable rental return? Will the Government take this position into account and again consider proposals such as an investment allowance to encourage the construction of rental housing in order to regenerate the building industry and provide an increase in rental housing which is the highest housing need in Australia at the present time?
-The Treasurer and the Treasury are looking at this matter. It is correct that a deficiency in normal rental housing areas is showing up. This is because under the previous Government the cost of building became so very high that very few could afford to build houses for investment let alone for ownership. That of course will be rectified under the current Government in due course and the proposal mentioned by the honourable senator is being looked at.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Education. The Minister would be aware that a mural by one of Australia’s most notable cartoonists, Mr Pickering, was censored by the University of Western Australia last weekend. Whilst I appreciate that we cannot allow just anybody to go around drawing anything on walls I do consider that perhaps as Mr Pickering is such a well known cartoonist that special consideration should have been given. Will the Minister give consideration to making sure that Mr Pickering is adequately compensated for his original work which has now been defaced?
– In general terms I would be delighted at all times to have Larry Pickering’s cartoons shown to the widest possible section of Australia because his interpretation of public life and the figures that move across it is one that I think is objective, extremely sophisticated and clever. I think the specific situation to which the honourable senator refers relates to the University of Western Australia, does it not?
– As the honourable senator would be aware, what happens on that campus is a matter for the authorities on that campus. They must take responsibility for the maintenance of good order and maintenance of the law on the campus. If, as the honourable senator has suggested, there has been an offence I think the best action for me to take is to direct the attention of the authorities of that university to the alleged offence, including the alleged graffiti- good, talented or otherwise.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Treasurer. My question refers to the Medibank levy which, because of this Government’s unnecessary interference with the scheme, is not being referred to by thousands upon thousands of confused taxpayers as the great Medi muddle’. I ask the Minister: Can he say why it is that in the case of divorced parents, where the father is paying maintenance to his exwife and contributing towards the upkeep of the children of the marriage who are in the mother’s custody, the father is obliged under the law to pay the family rate Medibank levy whilst the exwife, if she is in receipt of an income above a certain level, has also to pay the family rate levy? This, in effect, is forcing people in the circumstances I have stated to pay double the amount of levy they would otherwise be expected to pay if they were not divorced and were still living together as a family unit.
– I certainly do not have the detailed answer in my head. It does seem, as the honourable senator states, to reflect an inconsistency. He is entitled to have a detailed answer from the Treasurer and from the Taxation Commissioner. I will obtain an answer for him.
– Is the Minister representing the Minister for Transport aware of an article published in the Sydney Morning Herald on Saturday, 9 October, concerning the difficulties being experienced by the Australian Chess Federation in sending a team to Israel for the world chess olympiad? Is the Minister aware that due to Government policies regarding overseas air travel, the Australian Chess Federation has been unable to take advantage of an offer by El-Al Israel Airlines Ltd of a 50 per cent discount on air fares and has encountered considerable difficulty in raising additional money to meet the team’s travelling expenses? Will the Government consider giving practical assistance to this organisation to enable it to send a team to Israel?
– I am not in fact aware of the details of the article of 9 October in the Sydney Morning Herald nor am I able to state whether the facts as the honourable senator presents them are true or false. Therefore, my best plan is to bring the matter to the attention of my colleague in another place, the Minister for Transport, and seek a response from him.
– By arrangement with the Opposition to enable Estimates Committees to meet by mid-day tomorrow, I move:
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I inform the Senate that I have received the following letter from Senator Gietzelt. 13 October 1976
My dear President,
In accordance with Standing Order 64, 1 give notice that today (Wednesday, 1 3 October) I shall move:
That in the opinion of the Senate, the following is a matter of urgency:
The Government’s failure to establish a definite trade relationship with the Government of the United States and the limiting effect of this failure upon access to the United States domestic market for Australian beef.
Is the motion supported?
More than the number of senators required by the Standing Orders having risen in their places-
That in the opinion of the Senate, the following is a matter of urgency:
The Government’s failure to establish a definite trade relationship with the Government of the United States and the limiting effect of this failure upon access to the United States domestic market for Australian beef.
The motion which the Opposition submits for the consideration of the Senate is designed to enable a public debate on the problems besetting the Australian beef industry and the very recent decision taken by President Ford- probably endorsed by the other Presidential candidate, Mr Carter- to suspend the importation of beef into the United States of America from all beef exporting countries. The urgency motion has been moved in the Senate by the Opposition because we believe that it is one of the few remaining ways in which the Opposition can express its views, particularly on the disastrous way in which the Government has continued during its 1 1 months of office to ignore the real needs of the Australian beef industry. Only in the Parliament can we debate these important issues. We are denied access to rural newspapers, most of which are owned by National Country Party supporters. This section of the Australian media applies a strict censorship on Labor Party views and Press statements and ignores parliamentary comment except by the Government. It defends in an unbelievably biased way the policies and statements of the conservative parties. It is an apologist for the Government and inevitably gives publicity to such rural spokesmen as suit its ideological position. Rarely does it tell the whole story of the basic rural crisis facing our country. It concentrates on effects and not causes.
The motion highlights the plight of thousands of beef producers and the disastrous effects of declining overseas markets. In obtaining some reasonable statistics to use in speaking to this motion I have sought no other authority than the Bureau of Agricultural Economics, which has carried out a survey on the Australian grazing industry. Its survey has shown that something like 38 859 farmers can be described as dominant beef producers. An alarming fact, which we know is in the knowledge of this Government because the Prime Minister, Mr Malcolm Fraser, when speaking at a rural conference in June this year drew attention to it, is that something like half of beef producers are in fact receiving less than $4,000 a year.
A closer analysis of this shows that in the year 1974-75 something like 45 per cent of those in the pastoral zone involved in beef production had a negative income. In the wheat and sheep zone in 1974-75 some 16 per cent of those involved in beef production had negative incomes. In the high rainfall zone in that same year some 50 per cent of the 30 000 people involved in beef production had negative incomes. Figures for the subsequent year- they are the most recent figures available to us- show that the situation in the pastoral zone has become worse from the point of view of the beef producers. There was a marginal increase in average incomes of those involved in beef production in the wheat and sheep zone of only $2,900 per annum and an increase of only $80 per annum in the average income of those involved in beef production in the high rainfall zone.
We are entitled to say that the plight of the beef producers is critical and that this is within the knowledge of this Government because the Prime Minister has already referred to it. It is equally clear from the Government’s gagging of a debate in the other place yesterday that the Government is at last becoming sensitive to its failures in its rural policies. Until now it appeared that it was impervious to the growing criticism that has been developing of the problems besetting various sectors of Australian rural activity. It may be that now it is becoming embarrassed by its failures to help rural producers. Yet in its subservience to its big brother trading partner, the United States of America, it has done no more than to raise a mild protest at the latest decision of the United States of America. The Government is ineffectual and has become an impotent voice box for the beef industry. Its efforts can only be described as feeble, feckless and futile.
The most recent figures available show that over 1 7 000 dominant beef producers currently receive no income and are thus forced into extensive borrowing in order to survive or are forced into bankruptcy. We know that in its reports the Industries Assistance Commission has talked about the rationalisation of the beef industry. This is no solution to the problems facing so many of these 17 000 beef producers. The position of these producers deteriorates markedly when there is a run-down in our export markets.
It has been obvious for months, surely, to any rural watcher or to any person concerned with our rural industry, that the American cattlemen were going to hobble the American presidential candidates. Report after report has appeared in Australian newspapers of pressure by American cattlemen firstly on the presidential candidate of the Democratic Party and secondly on the United States President himself. United States cattlemen have made demands for some shutdown on imports of overseas beef. Yet our coalition Government has stood idly by, piously hoping and writing tedious letters trying to stem this trend.
The reliance of beef producers on export markets needs little emphasis. You, Mr Deputy President, as a representative of them in this place would know that about 45 per cent of all production in the meat industry is destined for export markets and that the United States market accounts for half of this tremendous amount of production in Australia. So, one has to wonder why it is that we have allowed this position to drag on for so long and have not recognised the development of this major problem. I will quote some figures supplied to me by the Australian Meat Board showing the fluctuations in shipping of our beef overseas. For example, in June 1 974, 291 548 tonnes ship weight were shipped from Australia to the United States of America. In the following year, the export to the United States fell to 289 000 tonnes. Last year, 298 000 tonnes of beef was exported to the United States. This means that in the 3 years in question there have been very little differences in the amounts of beef exported to the United States market.
Exports to Canada, again in ship weight terms, rose from 27 355 tonnes in June 1974 to 28 167 tonnes in the following year, and to 38 453 tonnes to June 1976. For exports of beef to Japan, 1 974 was a peak year, when beef exports totalled 120 870 tonnes ship weight. The level of exports to Japan dropped away alarmingly in the following year. We all know the squeals which came from then Opposition spokesmen and Opposition members in the middle part of last year when that export level dropped to 8000 tonnes ship weight. For the year ended 30 June this year the export level had risen to 65 000 tonnes ship weight. I will have something more to say about that aspect in respect of the problems facing those export markets.
The decision of the United States President to impose statutory quotas on beef imports from Australia without prior consultation on an official or relevant level with Australian officials indicated the type of trade relationship and the lack of rapport into which this Government has quickly plunged Australia’s relations with one of our major trading partners. The decision effectively means that Australia will have to renegotiate its quotas with the United States Government which, in the present conditions of surplus exports, can only mean the likelihood of a substantial fall in Australian beef exports. Australian conservative governments have claimed consistently in post-war years that they have a special relationship with the United States. It is a peculiar sort of special relationship if the actions of the United States President in an election year are such as to demonstrate that he has little consideration of his responsibility to us in Australia and that he places our trading goodwill at the bottom of his priority list.
Already, the United States has a trading advantage roughly 2 times in its favour over Australia. The pressures of such an imbalance are now exacerbated by this decision, but the Australian Government remains ineffectual and is willing to sell the rural sector short, preferring to permit the wholesale bankruptcy of a former prosperous industry rather than to express Australia’s disapproval in forceful terms backed with action. That is what is required.
The action of the United States Government is contrary to the spirit of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade to which both Australia and the United States are signatories. Over the last 25 years on each occasion- I think there were at least six- Australia has drawn the attention of its major trading partners to infringements of the GATT rules in respect of agricultural products. President Ford, without prior consultation with Australia- Senator Cotton indicated that yesterday in reply to a question which I asked- has placed our beef industry in jeopardy, and Mr Sinclair has done nothing. Mr Sinclair was noted for his eloquence in Opposition. His empty thunder when in Opposition is well illustrated by his call for- I quote from a statement he made in a speech at Wangaratta on 5 September 1975- bi-lateral government to government talks with the United States of America aimed at ensuring adequate Australian access to these markets. The actions of the American Government and Mr Sinclair’s failure to put action where his mouth is show what a blank cartridge he is. He has been shown to be an ornamental representative of country people. His words are many, his achievements are nil. He is surely now to be recognised as a charlatan representative of country interests.
All along the line the Australian beef industry and the rural sector have been deceived by the Liberal and National Country parties which rely on petty propaganda to conceal their lack of concern and their inaction. This Government, when in Opposition and in its caretaker capacity before the last election, quite blatantly and purposefully ignored the interests of country people. It took them for granted. It sought to retain its support with words rather than deeds. I quote from some of the statements made by Mr Sinclair on the beef industry and compare them with his abysmal record of non-achievement since he came to office. For example, on 18 August 1975 in the Australian Mr Sinclair unveiled a National Country Party program for primary industry. The program called for ‘more carry-on finance for beef producers’. I am quoting from the article. He claimed that the present $39.6m government allocation by Labor was inadequate. They were his words. The article continues:
It is understood the Country Party wants at least $ 100m lent to producers at 4 per cent interest, with an initial 2-year interest moratorium.
How does this compare with his performance in a Press release one year later, less one day, on 1 7 August 1976 when he had the responsibility and was not able to shelter as an Opposition spokesman? Mr Sinclair announced that his Government had provided up to $ 1 5m in loan assistance to the beef industry on a dollar for dollar basis with the States. Mr Sinclair’s performance hardly compares with that of the Labor Government which allocated in its 1975-76 Budget, its last Budget, $ 19.6m for carry-on loans. It is interesting to note that when the conservative parties came into office in November they spent only $ 11.3m of the Labor Party allocation of $ 19.6m. That information is contained in the documents which were given to us several weeks ago in respect of the present Budget. All of this was done in that insane attitude that there had to be a cutback in public spending. Let me quote further from this vociferous spokesman for primary industry again because his words belie and crucify him. In a Press release of 5 May 1975 he said:
There is no doubt in my mind that one of the major reasons why the Australian beef market in Japan has collapsed so dramatically in the past year has been the Australian Government’s trading policy.
He also said:
I am sure that Australia would sell -
These are his words: five, ten or twenty times more beef to Japan, if the Government adopted a realistic attitude to its overseas trading policies.
What is the position? The Government is selling to Japan only half the amount of beef that was sold under Labor in 1974. The evidence, of course, shows that it was not the Australian Labor Government’s deficiencies or policies that caused the dramatic drop in beef exports to Japan but rather the Japanese beef lobby that put the squeeze on the Japanese Government. The Japanese Government crumbled when the cattlemen moved, just as President Ford crumbled when the cattlemen in the United States moved over the last several weeks. Again, this irrational, unreal and exaggerated claim has not been matched by performance. The Japanese market for our beef has only just reached 50 per cent of the export figure for 1974. Admittedly, the Japanese market has been reopened to a degree, but this would have happened regardless of which Government was in power. It is to the detriment of the present Government, if it claims that Labor was at fault in 1974 and 1975, that it has reached only 65 000 tonnes this year.
All of this has happened in spite of Mr Anthony’s much heralded visit to Tokyo recently. What have this Government’s representatives, from the Prime Minister down, been other than the inconsequential lackeys of our trading partners or host nations? In China the Prime Minister responded to his hosts, ingratiating himself with the Chinese. In Indonesia he offended the Chinese, ingratiated himself with President Suharto and made a gaffe over East Timor. I would like to place more of Mr Sinclair’s hypocritical statement on the record and compare that again with his performance as Minister. Speaking to a meeting at Wangaratta on 5 September 1975 he said:
The economic problems facing the beef industry are generating grave social problems for the families of beef producers and their employees . . . The total failure to act will bring down on Australia not only an economic tragedy but also a widespread, lingering social tragedy.
The Opposition agrees with that. The Prime Minister has repeated those words on a number of occasions. Mr Sinclair was quoted in the West Australian of 29 November as saying:
To maintain owner-operated farms as the basic unit of Australian agriculture, steps would be taken to provide capital at realistic terms.
Mr Sinclair has not lived up to that statement nor has he matched the Labor Government’s record. In a Press release on 28 April 1975 Senator Wriedt, the then Minister for Agriculture, announced that Australia would make available $ 1 9.6m to beef producers at 4 per cent with no interest or capital repayments required in the first year and with the forgone interest payments capitalised.
Let us look at Mr Sinclair as something more than a Minister, more than a so-called representative of rural interests. Let us look at Mr Sinclair as a forecaster. In an article in the Canberra Times on 10 July 1 976 2 National Country Party Ministers- Mr Adermann, the Minister for the Northern Territory, and Mr Sinclair- said that market prices were improving and that Australia would have greater export quotas in the traditional market areas. Mr Sinclair said:
Prices in the United States for Australian meat have fallen back in recent weeks. It is expected to be a very temporary dip, but even allowing for the dip our prices in the United States are still well above what they were a year ago.
That little dip has turned into a big dipper for our meat producers. On 26 September 1975 there appeared in the Mercury the following headline: Call by Sinclair- Action Needed to Save Huon’. The article read as follows:
Australia’s agricultural marketing position overeas would improve dramatically under a Liberal-Country Party Government,’ Mr Sinclair said in Hobart. ‘We could find better government to government accord than Labor has done in the agricultural marketing areas. ‘
– I rise to order, Mr Acting Deputy President. I draw your attention to standing orders 406 and 414. I suggest that the honourable senator has been in breach of those 2 standing orders all the time that he has been on his feet. I ask you to rule on the point of order.
– They are copious notes.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Maunsell)- I will take the honourable senator’s word that he is reading from copious notes.
– I am quoting from a newspaper article. The last thing I want to do is to misquote Ministers and spokesmen in the Government Parties. The truth of the matter is that Mr Sinclair has stated that this Government can do better on a government-to-government basis than the Labor Government did in the agricultural marketing areas. The truth of the matter is that Messrs Lynch, Fraser, Sinclair and Anthony are men of straw when it comes to their intentions on rural industries. They are more concerned with expanding our mining industries than in maintaining our rural industries.
It is apparent that Australia is out on a limb. Let us examine further what has been said by Government spokesmen, even over the past few days since this crisis has broken upon us. What has actually happened? Mr Fraser said- I could quote what he said if the Senate feels so badly about my referring to notes- that he would write a letter to Mr Ford seeking assurances that Australia would be treated fairly and equitably in the renegotiations. He did not say that as a result of those renegotiations less beef would be exported to the United States. If there is a renegotiation it will result in a lower level of exports. What was the contribution of the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr Anthony) to this great debate? It can be summed up in his Press release dated 10 October 1976. He said:
I have been in constant touch with the Prime Minister in Jakarta on these developments.
Big deal ! That is the contribution of the Leader of the National Country Party to this problem. He had been in touch with the Prime Minister in Jakarta. That is a wonderful contribution to this grave problem with which his Party and the Government have been concerned for a considerable number of years. Mr Sinclair’s contribution has been to describe the American decision in the following terms:
It is a blatant political action and against the spirit if not the letter of GATT.
Does Mr Sinclair believe that any of the decisions made by the American President are not political decisions? Is he suggesting that when the President of the United States or the Prime Minister of Australia makes a decision it is not a political decision? What shower did the Minister for Primary Industry come down in?
How much worse off would we have been if Mr Fraser ‘s advice had been followed? Mr Acting Deputy President, you were a member of the Senate when a joint parliamentary committee conducted an inquiry into meat prices in 1973. On the television program Federal File on 12 August 1 973 the Prime Minister said:
We can find markets in Australia and overseas for beef herds of at least 40 million.
This was said at a time when our cattle herds were 28 million. In the succeeding 3 years the number has reached 33 million. What sort of fatuous advice would that be to cattle producers? They were adviced that they should increase the size of the herds in totality from 28 million to 40 million. How many more thousands of beef producers would now be absolutely and completely stony-broke and bankrupt if the advice of the present Prime Minister when he was Opposition spokesman on primary industry- God forbidhad been followed? The great tragedy is that many people in rural pursuits did follow the advice of the Country Party at that time and in their diversification moved out of other areas of rural production and into beef. They are the ones who bought in at the top price and who have been living in difficult economic times ever since. We only have to refer to the Liberal-Country Party reconstruction scheme which supplied funds to encourage producers to switch to beef production. In the 1972-73 Budget the conservative Government allocated $5 lm for rural reconstruction. So many people had their fingers burnt when they followed erroneous advice and moved into beef. I recall that dissenting reports were presented by members of the Government Parties who sat on the joint committee inquiring into meat prices. They disagreed with the findings of the committee and in fact sought to bring about an increase in the number of people in the beef industry in accordance with the advice being given by Mr Fraser.
If honourable senators still have any illusions about the sabre-rattling Minister for Primary Industry, let us look at some more of his inanities last year only one month before he became a Minister in the infamous Fraser Government. He is quoted in the Canberra Times of 1 1 October, just one month before the famous coup, as saying:
The death warrant of the Australian beef industry will be signed unless the Government takes action to assist the beef industry.
He said this when addressing the Canberra branch of the Graziers Association in Queanbeyan. He went on:
Whether the resources be labour, capital or natural resources, the employment of resources within the rural sector is rapidly declining because of the disincentive approach of the Labor Government towards the rural sector.
After the coup, in a program called The Policymakers, in which he was featured with Dr Patterson on 25 November 1975, he said:
It is really quite tragic that the beef industry has been left to languish for so long while the IAC reported, and then for so long after it reported to the Government to adopt the recommendations of the IAC.
At least the Labor Government set up a committee to examine the problems facing the beef industry. But as you well know, Mr Acting Deputy President, because you are a representative of the rural communities, the problems of beef production have been with us for many years. The Labor Government acted correctly in commissioning a report on the beef industry. The coalition government’s response was to move slowly. It certainly abolished the export levy but imposed another levy which raked in as much revenue as the old one. It cut back on rural reconstruction funds. In The Policymakers program Mr Sinclair also said:
I am sure that it is just not a matter of the collapse of the beef export market overseas. I believe a more positive marketing effort by the Government at a political level earlier could have helped to correct the position in Japan and the EEC.
But the years in which negotiations went on for the establishment of the European Economic Community were barren of action by the conservatives in this area. There were no comments or action by the conservative parties. They made little or no effort and did not succeed in getting Australian access to the EEC markets. So one can only say that a government that claims to represent rural producers and the best interests of the beef industry has failed to take any initiative in the 1 1 months it has been in office to answer the criticism day in and day out which is on the record in respect of the problems that beset the meat industry in 1975. Mr Fraser and more particularly Mr Sinclair have now had the gall to suggest that Australian beef exports have flooded the Canadian market. Surely this is a free market economy and that is what the Government stands for. He suggests that our exports to Canada, where no restraint is practised, has had a chain reaction that has affected access to the American market. We all know of the problems in respect of Puerto Rico. Yet the Government has done little to give leadership in tackling the problems besetting the beef industry. It is in the light of all these experiences and the failure of the Government to put forward any rational plan to stabilise the beef industry that the Opposition has put before the Senate a motion for the purpose of at least having some debate about the grievous plight besetting so many thousands of Australian citizens involved in beef production.
– From the contribution that Senator Gietzelt made in what is supposed to be a debate, this is not going to be one of those interesting nights for those listening. I was hoping that perhaps we might deal with the subject of the motion, but so far we have not done so. We have listened to an anti-American tirade and abuse of various Ministers and other people. We have seen a fairly classic display from Senator Gietzelt in speaking about a subject of which he has no knowledge. But what is unusual about that? The terms of the matter of urgency are as follows:
The Government’s failure to establish a definite trade relationship with the Government of the United States and the limiting effect of this failure upon access to the United States domestic market for Australian beef.
I think that on the Opposition benches are some people who have had experience in the cattle industry. Indeed, I am sure there are because I know some of them. I had a little experience of that industry myself at an early age. It is not an easy industry. It is not simply understood. It is a difficult industry to handle. It is subject to wide fluctuations in demand and big seasonal problems. Equally it has suffered markedly from heavy inflation and the increased costs of killing programs to get beef into the export market. One could recite one’s experience in the industry. Perhaps senators on the other side could do the same. It is an industry from which I have gained a lot of satisfaction, not financial but personal, as a result of being identified with it. When I listened to Senator Gietzelt I wondered why he did not talk about the Nankeen night heron, because it would have been just as illuminating and as helpful.
Let us look at the real situation and at information if we want to get the facts on some of the matters raised. Let us keep the problem in perspective, if we can. Our meat trade with the United States of America has developed over many years. Those who have watched and studied it know that it has always had problems. I think it will always have problems in the future. But the fact is that trade has continued at ever increasing levels. Problems over terms of trade between trading partners, particularly when often they are producing the same things, are by no means unusual. We often have such problems with New Zealand with whom we trade because we are also competitors in the world markets against each other. However, the problems get solved and the relationships between strong partners continue and grow.
We have a very large bilateral trade with the United States, and it is essentially a problem-free and happy relationship which is of mutual benefit to both countries. We share common bonds in pursuing the general objectives of freer international trade. The United States is not free at times in protecting its own producers; neither are we. Both countries support each other in negotiations with respect to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade and in other international areas and our Government is committed to continuing that relationship. We do not regard it as totally suspect and unworkable. We are continuing work to solve the problems. We are working together internationally to solve total problems.
Access for our products to the domestic markets of other nations is a very important factor. It is a factor that some of the people who outside the Parliament comment on the great necessity for Australia to be a free trade country can bear in mind when they think about our ability to have access for our products in the rest of the world. Every nation has these problems and must live with them by itself and in concert with those with whom they must live internationally. History would demonstrate that it is ridiculous to say that we have failed to develop a definite trade relationship with the United States or to suggest that a relationship does not exist, as does the operative part of the motion we are debating. I have a table which sets out the general exports of Australia and the United States meat imports over a period of time from various countries. In 1971 Australia had 46.8 per cent of the United States’ market; currently it has 51.7 per cent. Its total tonnage has risen whereas the figures for other nations have fallen. New Zealand’s figures have fallen as have the figures for Ireland, Mexico, Canada and the United Kingdom. Central America’s percentage has risen. I seek leave to have this table incorporated in Hansard. It will benefit those who follow this debate.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Coleman)- Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
-The table demonstrates what has happened over a period of time. When the international trade figures are studied, especially when we are dealing with matters like this, it can be seen that it is not a matter for hysterical emotion and momentary panic. It is interesting to look at the trend lines in trade with other countries to see what is the position in net terms over the years during which we have been dealing. The figures demonstrate that except for the Central American area our trade with the United States has improved both in tonnage volume and in percentage volume. It is not really a bad record for a nation that is said to have no relationship with the United States or has made a disaster of its trade relationship.
Senator Gietzelt has raised some particular matters to which I should like to respond before I turn to the general subject of the trade relationship between the 2 countries. The Government suspended the meat export charge on 1 March 1976 and, as a result, is bearing the full cost of meat inspections of $25m annually. I think Senator Gietzelt knows that. We increased the compensation for brucellosis eradication, providing $6.5m for that purpose in 1 976-77. We granted $1.25m to the Meat Board to cover the cost of export charged on last year’s beef sales to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics- exports negotiated by the then government. Had we not done so the producers who finance the Board otherwise would have had to bear the cost. The previous Government proposed making a loan to the Board for this purpose. I do not quarrel with any government trying to negotiate and sell Australian domestic products overseas and having to make special arrangements. This is something a government must do no matter which party is in government. This was done by the previous Government to try to get extra meat sold in the U.S.S.R. We probably would have done the same. It is not a question of blame but of identifying the facts of life for those who work in the field day by day. The Government made provision for low income earners to be eligible for unemployment benefits under certain circumstances. The Government has provided $ 15m in 1976-77 for extension and liberalisation of carry-on loans for beef producers. The Government has accepted the Industries Assistance Commission recommendation to provide for extension of loans for another year. We are presently seeking agreement from the States to these particular changes.
I turn now to what I suppose is really the substance of this motion- our trade with the United States. I could, of course, take up a great deal of time but I shall not do so as other speakers wish to follow and there is other work to do. Our trade with the United States is not only important in absolute terms but also it is relatively important to other trading partners of ours. The United States is our main source of imports, valued at about $1.7 billion in 1975-76. It is also the second biggest market for our exports- about $1 billion in 1975-76. As a market it takes about 12 per cent of our total export of agricultural products and is second only to Japan, which is our largest single market. Of our agricultural exports, valued at $500m in 1975-76, half of our total exports to the United States, beef and veal, accounted for $287m. Other major markets for beef and veal were less important and included Japan, $66m, and Canada, $30m. The United States market for beef and veal is almost 3 times as valuable as it is for sugar. There has been some decline in our overall trade pattern over the past 10 years in percentage of our exports to the United States of agricultural products, but there has been a great rise in the value of the exports. This has doubled from $2 50m in 10 years to $500m. The United States share of our exports has changed relatively little from 12 per cent to 10 per cent over the last 10 years. Japan’s share has risen very considerably, from 1 7 per cent to 33 per cent, whereas the United Kingdom’s share has fallen from 17 per cent to 4 per cent.
Our trade relationship with the United States is not only strong but also static. Other situations have tended to fluctuate but that has been static and constant in its growth. Our relationships are good and they are in no way impaired by the absence of a formal trade agreement. Japan has no formal trade agreement with the United States and the United States is its largest partner. The fact is that the United States is a long-established trading partner of ours and it is not necessary to have formal bilateral agreements with it. We have a common membership of GATT where we work together and that produces a sound basis for the conduct of our trade. Japan and the United States have found this to be similarly true. Both countries have free market economies, with trade being conducted through private channels. Both countries observe the nondiscriminatory rules of GATT. Most of Australia’s bilateral trade agreements are with non-GATT member countries, countries having different trading systems from our own, and with other countries with developing systems. We have close contact on trade matters with the United States, with consultations taking place in Canberra and Washington and also in other overseas countries and in many international fora in which we are involved. We have a senior staff of officers in Washington headed by a Minister (Commercial). This post is second only in strength in this area to our representation in Tokyo.
As I said earlier, we have to expect in a trading world that we will have trading relationship difficulties, changes in decisions and problems to sort out. Those things arise because of the nature of the trade and because of the variations in production positions and demand positions as well as the consumption and cost positions. That is what trade is all about. That is what those sorts of problems that arise in our own country are about. We are the largest supplier, as the table will show, of meat imports into the United States, and the United States is the largest importer of our beef. However, the United States has a very large domestic cattle population and a very large domestic cattle production. The United States situation is often much more involved in problems concerned with its seasons and the ratio of the price of grain to the price of beef in the market than it is with what we might believe to be discriminatory acts against Australia or other exporting countries.
The absence of a formal trade agreement with the United States has had no bearing on the action that the United States has taken in respect of beef imports. The fact of the matter is that the United States since 1964 has had a statute- the meat import law- which imposes certain mandatory requirements regarding the level of meat imports permitted into the United States. A formula included in the meat import law calculates the level of various types of meat which may be imported into the United States in any calendar year. It provides that imports of fresh, chilled and frozen beef, veal, mutton and goat meat should be limited to about 5 per cent of the United States domestic production of these items. The law provides for quotas of imports based on the proportion which imports bore to domestic production in the years 1959 to 1963. The base quota is recalculated each year in accordance with the movements in domestic production. The law also requires the Secretary of Agriculture to make an estimate of imports at the beginning of each quarter. If at any time the Secretary’s import estimate exceeds 1 10 per cent of the base quota for that year it is mandatory upon the President automatically to impose quotas as provided in the law. The President may, however, suspend the operation of quotas if he determines that a level of imports higher than that which triggers the quotas is required in the national interest of the United States.
For 1976 the adjusted base import level determined under the law is 1 12 1 million lb. The trigger level is 1233 million lb. Thus in 1976, if the Secretary of Agriculture at any time estimated that meat imports for the full year would exceed 1233 million lb in the absence of any restrictions, it becomes mandatory upon the President to impose quotas. That is how this situation is worked out. The Secretary within the last week has provided the President with an estimate that imports had reached 1250 million lb in the absence of restrictions. That is 17 million lb above the trigger level. Given that estimate, the President under the law of his land had no option but to impose quotas. It should be noted that he did not impose the quotas at the adjusted base level of 1 12 1 million lb. He set quotas well above that level. In other words, the United States could have been more restrictive under its own laws than it has been. It is the first time that it has established these particular quotas under its meat laws, and that is because of the situation having developed in relation to volume, as I mentioned.
I have here many pages of material which really is highly technical and which quite simply opens up the scene to the stage that if one were to go on and on one would expose Senator Gietzelt to ridicule for his total failure to understand the problem. I think it would have been more useful to have had a debate on this subject on the basis of a much better worded motion which took matters into account on a much more accurate basis. The calculations and the comments about Canada, for instance, failed to take into account in some of the observations that were made that there is a common boundary between Canada and the United States and that a great amount of trade passes over that border between one side and the other. It is the sort of thing one would expect to have between the State of New South Wales and the State of Victoria. The rules that will apply to Canada are really not applicable in this overall context.
It is perfectly correct that the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr Anthony) in the absence of the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser), when this matter first came up, raised the matter with the Prime Minister in Jakarta, regarding it as serious and as necessary to communicate with the Prime Minister about it. Why is that so? It is so because the rules are quite simple: If a message is to go to the President of the United States it must come from the Prime Minister of Australia. Such a message has been sent to the President of the United States. It has been sent in explicit and quite precise terms. It is a long message and it makes our situation quite clear to the United States. I think perhaps we ought to be more adult in our behaviour in these situations than this motion would suggest we have been. I do not think it has helped in any way whatsoever in the discussion of the problem. It certainly does nothing for our relations with the United States which, after all, is a large customer for our beef. If people in the United States were to read the speech of Senator Gietzelt I do not think they would feel that they were dealing with friendly sellers; theymight think that they were dealing with other hostile people.
The onlyother comment I wish to make is that again it would have been useful to have had a discussion on what is an important matter in this context, and that is the trilateral relationship in trade between ourselves, the United States and Japan. That is really a separate subject, but as I have done some work on it I thought I would mention one or two points of importance about that triangular relationship, because it is in that context that so much of our position is determined. Trade between the United States and Japan has a marked effect upon the trade both those countries have with us. Trade between the United States and Japan is out of balance bilaterally. Trade between ourselves and Japan is out of balance bilaterally. Trade between ourselves and North America is out of balance bilaterally. But when all of our trade is put together, we are very close to being in balance as 3 nations. Between the three of us we account for 25 per cent of the volume of world trade. It is an immensely important relationship. A great deal depends upon it. In all of these trade relationships between customers and sellers you rest a great deal upon the record of your achievements and behaviour in the past, your expectations of the future, your relationship with each other, the prosperity of one country as against another and the overall prosperity of the countries as a group. That is not enhanced in any way whatsoever in the interests of the Australian people by motions such as that which we have before us and which, to say the least of it, contains some fairly offensive comments.
Senator Cotton has been mildly offensive in suggesting that we are juvenile in presenting to the Senate a motion of urgency such as this. I do not think he realises the serious situation that faces the beef industry in Australia. If he did he would accept the motion as being a valid one, endeavouring to bring to the attention of the people, especially those who live in the rural sections of the country, the Government’s failure to establish with the United States a firm agreement on beef imports. If Senator Gietzelt is to be accused of making anti-American statements during his speech, then perhaps I ought to refer to the Premier of Queensland who engaged in some very sharp comments about the American decision to limit beef imports into the United States. Perhaps also I ought to refer to the reverse situation of equal culpability, namely that the Minister for National Resources (Mr Anthony) rather glowingly anticipated the possibility that imports into the United States would be increased beyond the basic import figures of the previous year. Those 2 people, the Premier of Queensland and the Minister for National Resources, have to accept responsibility for the continuing difficulties facing the beef industry in Australia. It is of no use Senator Cotton trying to put to one side this urgency motion, to declare it impudent, to refer to it as a juvenile act on the part of the Opposition. I am not a rural fundamentalist, but I have spoken in this place on a number of occasions on rural problems.
– You know a bit about turtles, do you not?
– Yes, and the problems that faced the turtle farm project are the problems that now face the beef industry. That is sad commentary that has to be made. The indecision of governments and the faulty policies of governments, and, shall we say, the erratic funding of proposals, have caused difficulties in many areas, but we are dealing with the beef industry at the present time. One does not need to be a rural fundamentalist to understand that if you produce you must make certain that there is a market. You must ensure that you do not go into an area of over-production unless you are sure of having markets available. The present problem that we face with the export of our beef to the United States is one which we face continually. The United States either imposes import restrictions of some sort or uses the indirect method of imposing certain health or hygiene conditions on abattoirs causing them to close down, thus preventing the export of Australian beef, mainly to the United States. It is an indirect method; a dishonest method; a deceitful method. I have spoken about it many times.
– Who did that? Which government did that?
– If the honourable senator would like to go to the abattoirs -
– Which government did that?
-The United States Government.
– You have destroyed your case immediately. You might as well sit down.
- Senator Jessop can only be offensive. I suggest that he go back to sleep as he was a moment ago and let me continue my remarks. By various devices the United States has hindered the flow of Australian beef to the United States market and I am blaming the present Government.
– You are blaming the United States Government.
– I am blaming the present Government for not taking those things into consideration and for not diversifying its markets for our export beef. What has the present Government done? It has encouraged over-production in the beef industry and that has done little to correct the situation. The LiberalNational Country Party coalition, which Senator Jessop supports, is engaged in a massive confidence trick. Senator Jessop and members of the National Party have set themselves up as the protectors of the farmers. In reality the policies and activities of this Government have assisted in eroding the real livelihood of 300 000 Australian farmers. Honourable senators opposite cannot get away from that because the Government’s present policies have consolidated poverty in the rural areas. They have failed to reduce the plight of the beef producer. That is just one angle of the problem.
Take a look at the rural policy of this Government at the time of the last election. Let us see how the Government has failed to carry out its policy- this coalition government, as we call it. It is not now a Liberal-Country Party coalition; it is a Liberal-National Party coalition. The National Party by virtue of its change in name and attitude really ceases to represent country people. I think country people have started to appreciate this after 10 months of government by this LiberalNational Party coalition. What were the promises of these parties? What did they say? In their promises they accepted the concept of a national rural bank which was to assist farmers to overcome the long and short term financial difficulties. If it has been said once in this place it has been said time and time again, and that is that what the rural sector needs more than anything else is financial assistance to take farmers and producers out of the hands of the pastoral companies which in many cases are charging 1 5 per cent, 16 per cent and up to 18 per cent on loans. Yet this Government went to the people and made a policy statement that if elected to office it would set up a rural bank. It said it. It has not done it.
– It has not lowered interest rates either.
– It has failed to assist many farmers who find themselves in this very desperate situation because they cannot overcome the long term and short term financial difficulties. Another policy which was announced by the Government coalition was to lease farms to young farmers. I think they called it the young farmers establishment scheme. Where is that scheme? I do not think Senator Jessop has an answer to that one. There was also a promise of tax concessions to encourage efficient land use during seasons of adversity. Where are they? Where are the concessions set out in that policy? There is no answer to that one. That promise has also been broken. What has happened to the animal quarantine station which was foreshadowed? I remember being a member of a committee some 3 years ago that went to Norfolk Island. I think Senator Jessop was also a member of that committee. We went to Norfolk Island, through to Singapore and we looked at Christmas Island and the Cocos (Keeling) Islands. He was a member of that committee which recommended that a quarantine station be set up on the Cocos (Keeling) Islands. What happened to the recommendation? What has happened to the National Party supporters? Are they pressing for the establishment of this very important quarantine station, the purpose of which was to safeguard the rural producer- the beef industryagainst exotic diseases? Nothing has been done.
In the Lynch Budget an income equalisation deposit scheme was announced but that will have very little marginal effect due to the fact that most farmers during depressed and continually depressed periods do not have available finance to purchase bonds. So much for the equalisation policy. What of the much heralded increase in the wool floor price from 250c to 275c per kilo. This again will have only a marginal effect due to the high wool prices this season. This is not a rural record of which the Government can be proud.
The problems facing the beef industry need to be approached and dealt with just as the problems of the wheat industry have been faced and dealt with. The equalisation scheme for the wheat industry has been effective in protecting that industry. The poultry industry has been organised. It has an organised marketing policy. The problems of over-production have been solved. In the sugar industry the basis of the rural policy of the Australian Labor Party is the orderly marketing arrangement. The orderly marketing policies of the ALP are the policies which should be directed at the beef industry to solve its problems because its present problems will continue. The problems of the beef industry, coupled with the depressed state of other rural industries, means that the farm debt will continue to increase. Might I inform honourable senators that the farm debt at the present time is standing at $2, 500m and the interest paid on that debt is substantial.
– What was it 3 years ago, Senator?
– I could not tell the honourable senator what it was 3 years ago. I can tell him that at the present time it is $2, 500m, and in any man’s language that is a substantial figure. The average debt per farmer is about $9,000, and that is a substantial amount.
– Have costs and inflation anything to do with that figure?
-One could say that that is so but one could also say that it is built up by the need for farmers to go into further debt in order to survive, lt is a continuing debt situation. The farmer has to borrow in order to pay previous debts. A chronic debt situation exists in the industry. Considerable thought and enterprise on the part of the Government are needed to correct the situation, and unless it is corrected the small rural producer will suffer continuing tragic results. It is not only the rural producer who suffers. The associated industries and community services in small towns suffer also, so that not only the farmers and their families are affected but also thousands of small businesses in rural towns. Senator Scott is to follow me in this debate and I am sure that he will agree that as one moves through the back roads of New South Wales one can see the effects of this depression. Although the adverse effects are apparent in those places they are more obvious in some of the rural towns in the hinterland of Queensland.
I believe that the Government ought to be taking some positive steps to correct the problems of the Australian beef industry, which is fully representative of the depressed state of the countryside. I think Senator Gietzelt mentioned statements that have been made by the Minister for Primary Industry, Mr Sinclair, and by the Deputy Prime Minister, Mr Doug Anthony, and the encouragement that was given to people to increase their cattle herds. The problem, of course, was that it was not only the traditional beef producers who increased their herds; everyone seemed to think that there was a good opportunity to make a quick quid by getting into the cattle industry. We had the so-called -
– Order! The honourable senator’s time has expired.
– I rise to speak briefly to this motion dealing with a matter of urgency. Whilst I have been listening to the contributions of the supporters of the motion I have decided that they really did not like the motion. I do not believe that any Opposition speaker has spoken in any sense to the motion. The motion states:
One could be excused for thinking that that was not in any shape or form the motion to which Opposition senators had spoken. In fact, Senator Gietzelt spent most of his time talking about the exigencies of the financial situation in which many Australian primary producers- and in particular beef producers- have found themselves. Of course, it is regrettable that some of those things are true, but how it concerned Senator Gietzelt in the context of this debate seems hard to understand. Whatever the circumstances- and they are urgent circumstances and we must accept the challenge and try to overcome the problem- they are, in the main, the product of 3 years of socialist Government. Therefore I think it would have been sensible for Senator Gietzelt not to have referred to this sort of problem in the Australian primary producing area. I recall that only a couple of years ago the Government of the day suggested that farmers had never had it so good. Tonight we have heard a tale of woe from supporters of that Government, now sitting on the Opposition benches. If the assertions of Senator Gietzelt are true, it is hard to understand why the Australian electorate, only 10 months ago, failed to elect any members of the Australian Labor Party in Australian rural seats.
Senator Gietzelt referred to what he described as the contributions of the Deputy Prime Minister, Mr Anthony, and the Minister for Primary Industry, Mr Sinclair. I believe he should also have examined the contribution of the Labor Government when in office. It was most significant, during the period to which we are referring, in producing inflation, unemployment and industrial unrest that are the basic cause of current problems not only for the beef industry but for the whole Australian economy. Senator Gietzelt referred to the period 1973-74 when Mr Anthony and many other people on both sides of politics considered that the future of the beef industry was strong. During the period 1973-74 I, like my colleague the Minister for Industry and Commerce (Senator Cotton), was directly involved in a wide area of primary industry, including the beef industry. During that period the prices in the industry reached an all-time peak. As a result of the elation and the emotion that surrounded the success of the industry at that time predictions were made, not only by politicians but also by members of the Bureau of Agricultural Economics, by people across the board such as farm writers and contributors and assessors of market opportunity and of market outlook. It was the opinion of all these people in those somewhat halcyon days that there was a sound future price-wise, for the Australian beef industry. If the members of the present Opposition had the sort of clairvoyance that enabled them as a Government to understand that the circumstances of the beef industry in 1973-74 were such that they would last for only a few more weeks then certainly it was a dereliction of their duty as a Government not to formally advise and warn the Australian beef industry that this was the sort of future with which it would be confronted. I do not recall that the Government of the day had anything to say that suggested that the buoyancy of the beef industry would be as short-lived as it was, and for reasons which I may have time to mention in a moment. There is a measure of irony in the fact that this motion which urges a better trading relationship with the U.S.A. should be moved by the present Opposition. No stance has ever been adopted in this country by any Government- I refer not only to coalition governments of the past but also to Labor Party Governments in the past- which was more anti-American than the stance adopted by Mr Whitlam ‘s socialist Government.
There must be a real measure of irony in a circumstance which sees the promotion of this motion tonight suggesting that we are failing to establish a better relationship with the United States of America. The motion refers to ‘a definite trade relationship’. In the present context there are difficulties related to over-production in America, to the strength of the cattlemen ‘s lobby and, indeed, there are difficulties which all of us understand- I am sure the Opposition understands also- which are related to the sort of political pressures that exist at present in the United States.
The motion states that we should seek a definite trade relationship with the United States. I suggest that over many decades we have had just that. We have had a definite and excellent trade relationship with the United States. A trade relationship must surely be relative to the closeness of the contact between the trading partners. It must surely be relative to the determination of the trading partners to come together and mutually to seek solutions to their problems and, consequently, to seek quotas and agreements that are in line with the problems of trade that confront them. That is what a definite trade relationship in the circumstances of free trading or free market economies must mean. We are told in this motion that we should try to establish a definite trade relationship. What I am saying is that such a relationship has been dominantly and clearly the very essence of our trading relationship with the United States over practically the 70-odd years of federation.
Of course, there is a great urgency for Australia to consolidate the market for beef in the United States because the United States takes more than half of our export beef. Indeed, we have to find a market for 60 per cent or more of the beef we produce. There is an equal urgency that we should seek to diversify the areas of our markets for beef. We have been and are doing exactly that. In .the Middle East, SouthEast Asia, Japan, the Philippines- across a very wide range of the world- we are seeking and in some real measure slowly succeeding in finding new and diversified areas in which to market our beef.
I return to this trading relationship and to the assumption that it is bad. I suggest that we remind ourselves that more than 50 per cent of the beef imported into America- let us remember that America needs to import only 7 per cent of its total beef requirements so great is its internal production- comes from Australia. That is not a bad performance- that is not the result of a bad sort of trading relationship. Why are we receiving that proportion of their market? I suggest it is simply because of our capacity and our determination to supply the sort of goods that the American market requires and, indeed, it is because of our effective negotiation not only now but also over the decades that have passed.
If this motion has a political increment in it- of course, no one would suspect that that was so- it must surely seek to suggest that the problems of the Australian beef industry are directly referable to our failure to negotiate with the United States of America. Nothing is further from the truth. To the contrary, as recently as 1975-76 Australia exported to the United States of America the second greatest amount of beef in the last 5 years. The problems of this industry relate not to our failures to negotiate with nor our failure to understand the United States of America but rather to a number of other things. Our problems in this industry relate in the first place to the colossal drought and to the fires that have ravaged this country over the past 10 to 12 months, which have seen put onto the market far more animals than would otherwise have been put onto the market and, indeed, animals whose condition was not such that it was capable of bringing anything like a reasonable price. .
Moreover, the problems in the industry are due to the energy crisis in Japan. Suddenly the amount of money that was available to Japan to purchase beef- she was purchasing more and more beef every year- dried up dramatically as she was faced with a 400 per cent increase in the amount of foreign exchange needed to bring in that energy producing material that was needed to keep her massive industries going. Japan dramatically fell from the market from a requirement of about 100 million tons to 8 million tons of beef. This was referable to the energy crisis rather than to a failure to negotiate. Our problems are referable also to inflation. The efforts of the European Economic Community to become self-sufficient have taken away from the Australian beef industry, at least temporarily, a market of something like 60 000’ tons of beef annually.
As time passes I have not the opportunity to continue looking in depth into this most important industry. But I do most strongly say that the motion that is before us suggesting that we have not a proper trading relationship with the United States is utter and complete piffle. I have great pleasure in opposing the motion. I move:
That the question be now put.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
That the motion (Senator Gietzelt’s) be agreed to.
The Senate divided. (The President- Senator the Hon. Condor Laucke)
Question so resolved in the negative.
Assent to the following Bills reported:
Television Stations Licence Fees Amendment Bill 1976.
Export Finance and Insurance Corporation Amendment Bill 1976.
– I inform the Senate that I have received a letter from the Prime Minister nominating Mr Baume to be a member of the Joint Committee on the Australian Capital Territory in place of Mr Bungey, resigned.
– Pursuant to section 28 of the Dried Fruits Export Control Act 1924, I present the annual report of the Dried Fruits Control Board for the year ended 30 June 1976.
-by leave- I move:
I ask for leave to continue my remarks.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
– For the information of honourable senators, I present the interim report of the Industries Assistance Commission on high alloy steels, dated 10 June 1976.
– For the information of honourable senators, I present a report by a Steering Committee comprising membership from the Commonwealth Department of Transport, the Commonwealth Bureau of Roads and the South Australian Highways Department, entitled National Highway Linking Adelaide and Darwin- Port Augusta to the Northern Territory Border.
-by leave- I move:
I ask for leave to continue my remarks.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Debate resumed from 9 September, on motion by Senator Cotton:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– This Bill authorises payments to the States of the grant component of the
Loan Council program determined at the June Premiers Conference. This year’s program amounts to $ 1,356m, which is an increase of 5 per cent on the program for 1975-76. The grant component is one-third of the total program. As I indicated during the course of the Budget debate, the Government has treated the States in what can be described only as a disgraceful fashion. This Bill is the end result of a decisionmaking process which reveals that the federalism policies are not only a sham but will cause economic hardship throughout the community for a long time in the future.
Background to the Bill
At the Premiers Conference in February, the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) was keen to persuade the States to agree with his federalism policy. He sought the co-operation of the States and offered them co-operation from the Commonwealth. In seeking to persuade the States, the Prime Minister used these words:
Each sphere of Government should make decisions on matters appropriate to that sphere. Matters of proper concern to more than one sphere should be decided through a process of genuine consultation and co-operation, and not direction, not by the use of financial power to achieve a purpose.
In the light of that statement, the Premiers took the opportunity, at the Premiers Conference, to indicate their views concerning the situation in the building and construction industry which is the industry directly affected or mostly affected by this Bill. At that Conference Premier Hamer said:
What I am saying to you is that the shortage of capital funds in the Government sector is likely from now on to be reflected in increased unemployment.
The South Australian Premier, Mr Dunstan, in support of Mr Hamer ‘s comments added these words:
In the major construction industry, we do face almost a cessation of work very shortly, apart from the carrying over of some Government contracts.
That was Mr Dunstan ‘s contribution. Sir Eric Willis, who was then the Premier of New South Wales, commented in similar vein, when he said:
For the first time we have had unemployed architects seeking employment in all sorts of places. The housing side of construction, both the private and public sectors is the worst hit.
The issue was summarised by the Premier of Victoria when he said:
We ought to be putting people onto productive work rather than having them on the dole.
Having received advice from the Premiers as to the state of the building and construction industry and the need to maintain a proper program of public works, the Commonwealth Government chose to ignore it. It decided without consultation with the States to cut the funds for States works programs by 12 per cent in real terms. The manner in which the Commonwealth did this is worth recording. At the June Premiers Conference the Prime Minister told the States that increases in the Loan Council program would be only a mere 5 per cent. The Conference broke for lunch to enable the States to consider the position. Without any discussion with the States, the Prime Minister held a Press conference during the lunch break to announce the figures and inform journalists that the figures were not negotiable. Where is the process of genuine consultation and co-operation in that? Was not that decision and its method of implementation one of the most extreme examples of the use of financial power to achieve a purpose? I remind the Senate that although the Commonwealth bluntly told the States that funds for their works programs would increase by no more than 5 per cent, the Commonwealth announced that borrowings by its own semi-government authorities would be increased by 270 per cent.
The Opposition’s View
We in the Opposition have repeatedly made the point that the economy requires selective stimulatory expenditure. We have argued that cutting back in capital works would increase the number of unemployed, particularly in the building and construction industry which is the industry, of course, most severely hit by unemployment. We have pointed out that government activities in the construction field would help to stimulate the private sector. We have demonstrated that it is a highly opportune time to commence construction, not only to assist the economy but also because contract prices are currently low. We have sought to show that a whole range of government services will decline as a result of these decisions. These arguments have been rejected by Government members for reasons that are either misguided or uninformed. Nothing which has occurred in the last 2 months has caused the Opposition to rethink its position about the need for a proper program of capital works. All the signs are that the Government’s economic policy is failing.
For the purpose of this debate, I re-affirm the Opposition’s view that the need for such a program is even more urgent than it has been in the past. However I do not intend to repeat all the details which I have put previously in my contribution to the Budget debate. On this occasion I will not restate those views, but I will let the
Premiers speak for themselves. I feel that should be sufficient evidence to convince the Government of the wrongness of its present course.
Reactions of the States
In case senators opposite believe that we in the Opposition are the only ones arguing for a change in Government policy I will set out the views of the State Premiers when confronted with the Commonwealth decision to increase the loan program by a mere 5 per cent. Firstly, Mr Wran, the Premier of New South Wales, put forward one of the more restrained reactions to the Commonwealth decision. He summarised the situation in this way:
Quite frankly, the present allocation in respect of capital works is so disappointingly low that we find it quite unacceptable. What we are being asked to do is to enter into a compact which we see as a compact for disaster. If somehow, by some means that is forced upon us, it is forced upon us; but it will be idle to pretend we enjoy it or that we are willing to accept it, because we do not. We reject it.
Victorian Premier Hamer was equally dissatisfied. This is what he said:
I want to concentrate on the capital fund side because I believe we are on the verge of making the greatest possible mistake.
This is the Liberal Victorian Premier. He said:
There is a large section of private industry which depends on public expenditure and which has geared itself over many years to carry out public contracts. To stop public expenditure or to reduce the real opportunities in that field is not to contribute to recovery but to retard it … I predict that there will be hardly a contract let throughout Australia for the public sector for months and months because whatever additional funds come from this 5 per cent increase will be absorbed into existing contracts as a result of the escalation of costs of which we are all aware . . . We do not accept that figure. We cannot accept it. If it is imposed on us that is another matter. We hope the new federalism is not a case of the Commonwealth saying ‘there is the 5 per cent; take it or leave it.’
They were the comments of Mr Hamer. The reaction from Queensland was equally as strong. The Queensland Premier said:
We will have to put off large numbers of skilled men on various projects. I am thinking of the demand that they have on goods and services. I wonder how their dismissal will control inflation. That escapes me.
The Queensland Treasurer was even stronger in his words. He said:
All I can say is that I am astounded that the Commonwealth put forward a figure of 5 per cent … I have been here ever since the days of Sir Robert Menzies and I just cannot believe what has happened this afternoon . . . The States are expected to accept S per cent. That is just impossible . . . What we are asking for will do less work than what we received last time. I just cannot believe that this is the attitude of a free-enterprise Government.
That was a Liberal Treasurer of Queensland speaking. The Premier of South Australia was equally reluctant to accept the Commonwealth proposal. He described the situation in this way:
There is no way that our programs can take that kind of cut without chaos in the community. It will be real chaos. We have to have more on loan and we have to have a realistic figure.
Mr Dunstan ‘s first reaction to the Commonwealth proposal was described in these somewhat colourful terms:
Having had a swift look at these documents my first inclination was to go to the front of this building to see whether the Jolly Roger was flying in place of the flag of Australia.
I move now to what Sir Charles Court of Western Australia had to say. He was as disgusted as the other State premiers. He said:
Now we find ourselves with a package which is given to us today which frankly appears to me to be a definite attempt to put the economy flat on its back. I suggest with respect that this is not the way to handle it. If you are going to turn off the tap, you have to do it with a degree of sensibility and responsibility.
Mr Neilson, the Premier of my State of Tasmania, had this to say:
This whole talk of co-operative federalism is a complete and utter sham, and let us not be under any illusion about that.
Premier Neilson ‘s reaction to the 5 per cent increase was stated in these terms:
I left the last conference on 9 April, as I believe Mr Dunstan did, with a genuine wish to see us get on with something so that we can co-operate but this is totally unacceptable. It is totally unacceptable to my State and it will be unacceptable to the Australian people. It will run you into a recession the like of which we have not seen certainly since the end of World War II.
After describing in detail the unemployment in Tasmania, Mr Neilson said this to the Prime Minister:
In the face of that you say to us ‘go out and put more people on the scrap heap. Go out and employ less people’. Mr Prime Minister, I cannot but be angry when we are asked to do that.
Those quotes show the reaction of the State premiers to the proposals contained in this Bill. In his second reading speech the Minister said:
Claims have been made from some quarters that the States are being treated unfairly.
When the quarters to which the Minister referred are the premiers of every State in the countrynot just the Labor premiers but all the Labor and Liberal premiers- I would invite honourable senators opposite to conclude that the claims may be justified.
In the past few weeks all States have brought down their budgets. To the great relief of the Government, and in the Senate particularly of Senator Carrick who is the Minister Assisting the Prime Minister in Federal Affairs, the States were not obliged to increase taxes and most
States were able to maintain some form of capital works program. The Government has drawn comfort from this and has asserted that the federalism policies are therefore working. However, that conclusion could not be drawn from an examination of the Budget speeches of the State premiers and treasurers. Even a cursory perusal of State budgets will indicate the true position. Because of the manner in which the States were treated by the Labor Government they were able to use reserves from last year. Tasmania and South Australia benefited from the transfer of the railways, and this has enabled them to carry on in the immediate future. In other States, such as New South Wales, the State Government has had to resort to more drastic measures.
I now turn in detail to the individual issues raised in the State Budget papers. Firstly, I seek leave to have incorporated in Hansard excerpts from the Budget Speech of Mr Hamer, the Premier and Treasurer of Victoria.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
The document read as follows-
Planning for the 1976-77 Budget therefore began long before the 1975-76 year had ended. We had to take account of the signs, and to safeguard the future. Thus it was that when the Commonwealth Government indicated in February that its broad policy of public sector restraint could not be implemented without effects on the States, it was prudent for us to anticipate what those effects might be. We took a cautious approach to this situation, and this was vindicated by subsequent events. The first of these was in May when the Federal Treasurer announced proposals for reductions in 1976-77 in various forms of support for programs financed in whole or in part by the Commonwealth, but administered through the States. I gave the House a report on those proposals on 2 June last. The second event was at the meeting of the Australian Loan Council in June when the Commonwealth would agree to support an increase of only 5 per cent in Government borrowing for State works programs for 1976-77.
Given the forecast of cutbacks in Commonwealth funding for a variety of programs, it was prudent to continue to keep a tight rein on expenditure in 1975-76, and to preserve as a cushion for 1976-77 as much as we could of any improvement in the current account sector of the Budget. At this time last year we had expected that outlays on the current account sector of the Budget would be $20m more than receipts. In the second half of 1975-76 it was becoming apparent that a general improvement in revenues, a moderating of wage increases, and a firm control of expenditures, were combining to improve this result. We planned that any surplus eventually arising in the current account sector would be held over to support works programs in 1976-77, in view of the indications coming from the Federal Government of the likely effects of its policy of restraint on State works programs. As the year 1975-76 turned out, the receipts in the current account sector of the Budget exceeded payments by $ 14.6m and this has been carried forward automatically in the Works and Services Account to support works programs in 1976-77.
The Year 1976-77.
On the basis of careful and prudent estimates, with rigid expenditure controls in force, including a ceiling of 1 per cent on staff recruitment other than teachers and police, the estimates for 1976-77 are for the Consolidated Fund to be in balance with receipts into it and payments from it at $2,90 1 .8m or an increase of 1 3 per cent on last year.
Not only is the Consolidated Fund in balance, as it must be with the legislative framework of our accounting system, which prevents spending out of the Fund exceeding receipts into the Fund, but the current account sector is also virtually in balance, with receipts estimated at $2,492. 8m and payments at $2,493.3m. This represents an increase in receipts over last year of 1 5.6 per cent and an increase in payments of 16.4 per cent. There is an apparent reduction in funds available for the Works and Services Account out of the Consolidated Fund in 1976-77, arising from a reduction of $675,000 in Commonwealth grants for the general school building program and of $ 17.9m in the Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works component of funds made available by the Commonwealth under the National Sewerage Program. For accounting and legal reasons these payments are accounted for through the Consolidated Fund.
So far as State funds are concerned, the payment from the Consolidated Fund in 1976-77 to the Works and Services Account will be $35I.Im or $ 1 5.6m more than in 1975-76, and as already mentioned this will be supplemented by the $ 14.6m representing the surplus on the current account sector of the Budget in 1975-76 which is carried forward automatically in the Works and Services Account, and is available for expenditure in 1976-77. This means that a total of $365. 7m will be available in the Works and Services Account from State funds in 1976-77 for the State works programs, or $30.2m more than the amount provided from the Consolidated Fund in 1975-76 and spent in that year on works programs.
Thus with an increase of only 5 per cent in Loan Council borrowing programs, our forward planning in 1.975-76 has enabled us to have 9 per cent additional State funds available for State works programs in 1976-77. This has cushioned, but not eliminated, the effects of the 5 per cent limit insisted on by the Commonwealth Government in the Loan Council, and the budgeting of our works programs has been a difficult task. But all on-going works will proceed, and as many new projects as our resources will permit. Our aim in this Budget is to maintain employment in these fields as far as we can, as a contribution to overall economic recovery.
I have already expressed my concern about the effects on the building and construction industry of. the cut-back in funds from the Commonwealth for sewerage, and urban transport and the effective reduction in real terms of funds for roads and welfare housing. I made a submission on these matters to the Commonwealth, and the Prime Minister undertook to have discussions on it after the Commonwealth Budget. It is appropriate for me to indicate to the House the broad nature of the submission which I made.
At the outset I indicated that the Victorian Government supports in every way the Federal Government’s determination to overcome inflation as a first priority. I indicated our support for the measures taken to reduce the Federal Budget deficit; to transfer resources from the public sector to the private sector; to stimulate private enterprise to the increase in economic activity and the creation of job opportunities of which it is capable; to contain costs and stimulate consumer confidence. I pointed however to the need for discretion and flexibility in selecting areas for cutting back expenditures, because many areas of private enterprise are dependent on Government contracts. The resources which they use, and the employment they provide, are in a very real sense part of the private sector already, and to diminsh them is to diminish the private sector itself. Reductions in the real level of spending in important areas, and in some cases, such as sewerage and urban transport, reductions in money levels, represented a drop in activity and hence in employment, in an important area of private industry. I suggested that particularly in the areas of welfare housing, roads, public transport rolling stock, and sewerage- areas in which activity is very much in the private sector- spending by Governments in 1976-77 should be held at the same level in real terms as in 1 975-76. 1 suggested also that special measures should be taken to support employment in rural areas where alternative employment is not available for those who lose their jobs through the rural recession or factory retrenchments. There would be a saving in Social Security unemployment benefits, and I hold the view on the grounds of economic considerations and of human dignity and self-respect, that it is preferable for men to be engaged in useful employment rather than to be left idle with their unemployment benefits. I make no apology for this view. The challenge which confronts all societies today is to find the answer to the apparent conflict between economic considerations and respect for human values. As I said in my policy speech for the last election, the preservation of the importance of the individual person in a free society is the paramount aim. The problem is to reconcile the cold techniques of running an economy with that aim. I am not an economist, but I must confess that I am somewhat dismayed at the modern jargon of economistsinputs and outputs, macroeconomics and microeconomicsand the tendency to forget that man, his fulfilment, and his destiny, is what life is all about.
-The points made by Mr Hamer were these: When the Government indicated in February that there would be cut-backs in the public sector Victoria kept a tight rein on expenditure, and the savings made have been transferred to support the works programs in the current year. Those funds will cushion but not eliminate the effect of the 5 per cent increase in the Loan Council program. Mr Hamer reiterated his concern about the cut-backs in funds for capital works. He made a submission to the Prime Minister that the cut-backs by the Commonwealth would damage the private sector and that it was preferable for men to be engaged in useful employment than to be left idle with unemployment benefits. Clearly the Government can draw no comfort from those remarks of Mr Hamer.
The South Australian Budget Speech was also critical of federal policies. I seek leave to have incorporated in Hansard excerpts from the Budget Speech made by Mr Dunstan, the Premier and Treasurer of South Australia.
-Is leave granted?. There being no objection, leave is granted.
The document read as follows-
In respect to Loan Account, I introduced the Public Purposes Loan Bill and the Loan Estimates for 1976-77 to this House about four weeks ago. The Loan documents showed that at 30 June 1976, there was an accumulated deficit on Loan Account of $8.9m.
The proposals for the State’s capital program envisaged the use of all new borrowings and all recoveries expected to become available during the year. However, as the availability of new funds through general loan programs supported by the Commonwealth Government is well below the level required to meet expected cost increases and as the Commonwealth is holding specific purpose funds to a very low level, it has been necessary to allow the accumulated deficit on Loan Account to remain unrecouped in 1976-77 and to make further demands on the Revenue Budget in order to maintain the essential level of public works, while providing for a balance on the 1976-77 operations of the Loan Account.
Accordingly, an amount of $ 15m is to be appropriated from Revenue Account for capital purposes. The accumulated deficit on Loan Account is expected to remain at $8.9m at 30 June 1977, and to be recouped progressively over the next two financial years.
The most significant event which has occurred in recent times in the Commonwealth-State financial field has been the arrangement between the Commonwealth Government and all State Governments for the sharing of personal income tax collections. This new arrangement came into effect on 1 July 1976, and replaced the long standing practice of applying increments to average wages, movements in population and a general betterment factor to a predetermined base in order to establish each State’s Financial Assistance Grant for a financial year.
The principles involved in this new arrangement and the events which led to their adoption are set out in Attachment II to the printed Financial Statement. Whilst I do not propose to take up Members’ time now with a detailed explanation of those principles and events, I do wish to draw attention to three matters which make me apprehensive about the future of the tax sharing arrangements as an effective replacement for the Financial Assistance Grants formula. They are:
Lack of consultation on the part of the Commonwealth Government. The decision of the Commonwealth Government, announced on 20 May, to introduce full indexation of personal income tax m the first year, to introduce a Medibank levy and to change child endowment arrangements and income tax rebates for dependent children was an example of that Government’s departure from what I believed was a responsibility to consult with the States on matters which might affect their share of personal income tax collections.
The Commonwealth Government’s refusal to provide the States with an assurance beyond 30 June 1980, that funds under the tax sharing arrangements will be at least as great as those which would have resulted from a continuation of the formula. In seeking a long term guaranteed arrangement, I and other Premiers had in mind that possibility that the Commonwealth Government might place less emphasis in the future on income tax as a revenue source.
Introduction of the Medibank levy, a long term income taxing measure and not just a device for short term economic management. In this the Commonwealth has demonstrated it does not feel obliged to share with the States all the income tax it collects. There is the possibility, of course, that such special levies could be used more and more in future to the possible detriment of the States’ surcharge powers.
Those matters lead me to believe that the States face the prospect, after 1980, of having to rely heavily on their surcharging powers or of using existing taxing measures to make good any shortfall if the Commonwealth Government places relatively less emphasis on income tax as a revenue raising measure.
As it is unlikely that the Commonwealth Government will permit the States to enter the income tax field in other than a marginal way, for fear of weakening its powers of economic management, the burden could well fall back on the States’ traditional taxation fields.
The present estimate of South Australia’s entitlement under the new tax sharing arrangements for 1976-77 is $438. 3m. However, in recent years actual collections from personal income tax have varied significantly from the original estimates. A one per cent variation in the 1976-77 estimate would vary South Australia ‘s share under the arrangement by more than S4m. The estimated guaranteed minimum is $428. 5m, being the estimated amount which a continuation of the Financial Assistance Grants arrangements would have yielded.
Summary of Major Financial Factors
In looking at the major financial factors which influenced this 1976-77 Revenue Budget, the most important is the financial policy of the Commonwealth Government and the ill effects flowing from that policy.
We all know that the Commonwealth Government is strenuously pursuing a policy of reduced public spending both in its own area and that of the States. I have said on a number of occasions, both publicly and to the Prime Minister himself, that I believe this policy can only increase unemployment beyond the already high and unacceptable level, reduce consumer confidence, discourage private investment and generally lead to an overall economic decline. It ignores the present plight of the building and construction industry which is operating at about only 75 per cent of its effective capacity in this State and which is in even worse straits in some other States.
I have already mentioned welfare housing and the acute lack of funds in this area. Suffice it to say now that the adverse effects of the Commonwealth policy can be measured against the background in this State of a waiting list of over two years for a State Bank loan and, with the exception of a few country areas, a waiting list in excess of three years for a Housing Trust rental house.
In respect to public transport, sewerage works, hospital and school buildings and a variety of other public works and services it fails to recognise a number of urgent needs. It is a policy which is insensitive to the needs of people, particularly the Aboriginal people.
In trying to look into the future and to plan for it, we do not know how long the Commonwealth will persist with its present policies and we certainly do not know how tough that Government will be in its approach to specific purpose grants to the States and to the support of Loan programmes in 1977-78.
These factors, together with other uncertainties such as our ultimate share of personal income tax collections above the guaranteed level and changes to Medibank which have made it difficult once again to estimate receipts from this major source, suggest that it would be prudent to try to maintain a balanced budget for 1976-77, and thus to retain our accumulated reserves of $27. 6m in order to cushion the effects of any adverse moves in the future. Further, the holding of those reserves will improve our chances of avoiding taxation increases in 1977-78.
While the recent actions of the Commonwealth Government have not allowed us to go as far as we would have liked, I am pleased to say that, by careful planning and a firm control of expenditures, the Government believes it can offer some relief to the South Australian taxpayer and still achieve a balanced budget in 1 976-77.
-The points made by Mr Dunstan were as follows: Because of the Commonwealth Government’s actions the accumulated deficit on loan account will remain unrecouped and the $15m was appropriated from the revenue account for capital purposes. After 1980 the States face the prospect of relying heavily on their surcharging powers to maintain programs. He also made the point that Commonwealth policies are increasing unemployment beyond the already high and unacceptable level, reducing consumer confidence, discouraging private investment and generally leading to an economic decline.
I turn now to the Budget Speech of the Premier of Tasmania and again seek leave to incorporate in Hansard excerpts from that speech.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
The document read as follows-
The amount which will be available in the Loan Fund in 1976-77 for expenditure on capital works and for other purposes will be $129,517,000. This will be made up of a Loan Council allocation of $95,703,000, loan repayments of $16,506,000 and a balance carried forward from last financial year of $ 1 7,308,000.
At a meeting of the Australian Loan Council in June last, the Commonwealth announced that it would support an increase of only 5 per cent over 1975-76 allocations. State representatives protested strongly, pointing out that an increase of this magnitude was well below the level of expenditure necessary to maintain the real level of 1975-76 expenditure and employment. Nevertheless, the Commonwealth remained adamant. Although the States can outvote the Commonwealth, to do so would be futile. One-third of the approved total is paid to the States in the form of capital grants, wholly at the discretion of the Commonwealth. If the States were to outvote the Commonwealth and increase the approved borrowing program, the Commonwealth could offset the increase by reducing the amount of the capital grants.
The level of loan repayments will be down $lm from the level achieved last year, namely, $1 7.5m. The bulk of these amounts is derived from Commonwealth special purpose programs. There will be some reduction in Commonwealth payments, partly as a result of reductions in some programs but these will be offset to a substantial extent by increased repayments from State sources. Full details are given in Table 6 of the document ‘Details of the Loan Fund Estimates, 1976-77’.
At the beginning of 1975-76 there was a credit balance of $7.5m in the Loan Fund. This had been built up to cover, in part, the 1974-75 Consolidated Revenue Fund deficit of $13.5m. The Loan Fund Budget for 1975-76 planned to increase the credit balance to $ 13.1m to cover, in part, both the 1974-75 deficit and the anticipated deficit for 1975-76 of some $4.5m.
In the event the credit balance in the Loan Fund at 30 June, 1976 was $ 17.3m. I have earlier explained the factors which gave rise to this increase in the estimated balance.
We therefore entered the 1976-77 financial year with this substantial credit balance. Moreover because of the surplus of $4.1m in Consolidated Revenue in 1975-76, the accumulated unfunded deficit has been reduced from $13.5m to $9.4m. Therefore, the Loan Funds which must be applied to deficit funding amount to $9.4m whereas, if the Budget result for 1975-76 had been a deficit of $4.5m instead of a surplus of $4.1m, the commitment for deficit funding would have been $ 1 8m.
I emphasise this fact because it answers the question which has frequently been posed as to how the Government intends to spend the surplus. The answer is clear. It will be applied to offset part of the 1974-75 deficit and by so doing it will release funds for expenditure on capital works. In other words, because of the surplus last year, we will have more loan funds this year for expenditure on capital works.
In addition, because we have budgeted for a deficit of only $452,000, the amount which needs to be set aside from the Loan Fund to cover the deficit is likewise only small. Therefore, almost the whole of the available loan funds of $129. 5m can be committed for expenditure. In fact, planned expenditure is $ 1 29. 1 m.
Last year, the amount available for expenditure was $102. 6m and actual expenditure was $98. 8m. This year we will have $ 1 29.1m available for expenditure. However, this approximately $9.4m for deficit funding which means that approximately $ 1 20m is available for expenditure on capital works. This is $21 m or 21 per cent more than the amount spent last year.
Thus, notwithstanding that the Commonwealth was prepared to support a 5 per cent increase in Loan Council programs, we have been able to provide for an increase of over 20 per cent in the capital works expenditure program. This is not accidental. It has resulted by deliberate efforts by the Government to provide as much as possible for expenditure on capital projects. This is an essential part of our budget strategy and has been designed to enable the Government to undertake as many projects as possible in the interests of increasing employment and stimulating the economy. To this end, we have tried to place particular emphasis on labour-intensive works.
– It is clear from that excerpt that the Tasmanian Government is using reserves to maintain its capital works program notwithstanding the lack of Commonwealth support. Even the Queensland Treasurer, Mr Knox, was critical of the Commonwealth Government in his Budget Speech. I seek leave to incorporate in Hansard an excerpt from the Budget Speech of the Queensland Treasurer.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
The document read as follows-
THE 1976-77 BUDGET CONSTRAINTS
In the light of the overall economic situation which I have described, the State Budget for 1976-77 is influenced by the following factors.
Commonwealth Government Expenditure Restraints
Firstly, expenditure particularly from the Loan and Trust Funds is affected by the Commonwealth Government’s policy of restraining outlays in the public sector. The general loan allocations approved by the Australian Loan Council for the States for 1976-77 were limited, on the Commonwealth Government’s insistence, to an increase of 5 per cent over the previous year’s figures, which increase falls far short of the increases in cost levels experienced during the year and therefore caters for a level of real expenditure considerably below that in the previous year. The approved borrowing allocations for semi-governmental authorities were increased by 1 8.6 per cent and in looking at the two capital programs, the State Loan program with an increase of funds of S per cent and the semi-governmental program where the authorities have been permitted to borrow funds 18.6 per cent in excess of their funds for last year, we find that we have an increase in available capital funds of just 1 1.3 per cent. As building costs increased during the year by some 19 per cent it is clear that this must result in a contraction of work.
In addition, a similar and even more severe approach has been followed in the determination of levels of specific purpose capital payments to the States. Overall, the estimated Commonwealth Government’s specific purpose capital payments to the States are 6.9 per cent below the actual money payments in the previous year, which is equivalent to a reduction of something like 22 per cent in real terms.
In one instance- the National Serwerage program- the reduction for Queensland in spending on general works is from $ 1 3.8m last year to $ 1 m in 1 976-77.
Funds to be provided towards Queensland roads expenditure will increase by only 2 per cent which, of course, represents a major decrease in real terms when viewed in the light of increases in construction costs over the past year.
Under the Welfare Housing program the amount provided by the Commonwealth to the State has not increased in money terms since 1974-75 so that substantial reductions in the volume of physical work carried out under that program have been required to allow for increased cost levels during the intervening period.
This is clearly illustrated by a comparison of the numbers of houses which the Queensland Housing Commission has been able to construct under the program in recent years. In 1974-75 the Commission completed 1359 houses under the program, in 1975-76 1069, and in this financial year it is estimated that it will be able to complete only 800.
-The Queensland Treasurer pointed out that the 5 per cent increase would cater for the real level of expenditure considerably below that in the previous year. It is clear from these Budget Speeches that the State governments have been able to maintain some activity in 1976-77 only by digging into previously acquired reserves and due to the generous treatment that they have received under the federal Labor Administration. However, where such beneficial arrangements do not apply, State governments have had to resort to some extraordinary measures. For example, the New South Wales Government has decided to let contracts for school building construction on the basis of deferring payment until the next financial year. It will permit hospitals to raise funds through borrowings on the basis of arrangements applying to smaller authorities. The picture that emerges is quite clear. State governments will be able to hold the line during this financial year but at a reduced level of activity. When those reserves are gone the States will be in real trouble. I move the following amendment:
At the end of motion add ‘but the Senate is of the opinion that-
it reduces in real terms the funds available to the States;
it forces the States to reduce the services they provide and/or to impose additional taxes;
it results in an increase in the number of people out of work;
it fails to stimulate the non-residential sector of the building and construction industry; and
it fails to provide sufficient funds for selective stimulatory expenditure to revive the Australian economy’.
In conclusion I point out that we of the Opposition stand by our proposition and tonight I have endeavoured to substantiate the arguments and the case that we have put over the past few months by quoting from the statements that have been made by the various premiers and treasurers. I believe that the States now realise the gravity of the situation with which they are confronted because it is becoming apparent that in the beginning- particularly at the April Premiers Conference- it may have appeared that the Commonwealth was doing something for the States which they had not received before. But it is now becoming apparent that all the State premiers, both Labor and Liberal, realise the dangers inherent in the new federalism policy. I have much pleasure in moving that amendment on behalf of the Opposition.
– Just as the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Wriedt) has much pleasure in moving the amendment, I have much pleasure in opposing it. At this late stage in the evening I do not think that it has any value whatsoever. I do not think that it would have any value at an early stage in the evening. Once again perhaps I should refer to what the Bill is all about. The Leader of the Opposition gave us a sort of catalogue of the State premiers ‘ infidelities. He made a comment about Premier Dunstan who referred to the Jolly Roger flag flying outside Parliament House, Canberra. That could have applied to Parliament House, Adelaide, because of what happened about the Labor Government’s railway operations.
The purpose of the Bill is to authorise the payment of interest by 3 non-repayable capital grants to the States in 1976-77 totalling $452m. These grants represent the one-third grant component of the 1976-77 Loan Council program for State governments agreed at the June 1 976 Loan Council meeting to authorise the payment of capital grants in the first 6 months of 1977-78 up to an amount equal to one-half of the 1976-77 amount pending passage of -
– Order! It being 11 p.m., under sessional order, I propose the question:
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– I rise to talk briefly about a matter that concerns me somewhat. One of the things I have learnt since I became a senator is that members of Parliament are supposed to know everything about everything. They are a source of information for all the people in the electorate. The people expect them to know what governments, government departments, semi-government authorities and local government bodies are doing. It is difficult to keep up with all the information that is put out, but it is impossible if the material is not available. It is difficult to believe that amongst that mountain of paper that descends upon us every week all the material is not available. Last week’s newspapers and journals had front page stories about the Industries Assistance Commission’s draft report on assistance to the performing arts with seemingly intimate details of that report. I do not know whether they had correct details of the report, because I do not have a copy of the report and I cannot get a copy of it.
My office has had dozens of inquiries about how, why and what it will affect and what people should do. I have no real knowledge of what the report says or what people should do. I am told that until Friday of this week I cannot obtain a copy of the report. My colleagues inform me that members of the Senate Standing Committee on Education and the Arts have copies, that witnesses who appeared before the Industries Assistance commission have copies, and evidently every news agency has copies; but we as members of Parliament cannot receive copies. Yet the cover of the copy of the report I borrowed from a colleague states:
The draft is being made available to give interested parties an opportunity for examination and comment within the Commission’s public inquiry system before the report is finally settled.
I am an interested party, and a lot of people who contact my office are interested parties. I am afraid that the exercise has been utterly useless as far as I am concerned. It seems to me ridiculous that members have no copies until weeks after publication, and I take exception to that fact. This Parliament calls for these reports, and it seems that we are the last people to get them. Therefore I ask that the Government takes steps to ensure that members receive copies of material such as this report at the earliest possible opportunity.
– I have listened with interest and some concern to the remarks that have fallen from Senator Melzer on this subject. I understand the Industries Assistance Commission’s report to which she referred was made publicly available at the end of last week or over the weekend- I am not quite sure when. Senator Melzer said that it will not be available generally even to members of this Parliament until Friday of this week. I would remind her that this report, as she said, is a draft report which is issued for the purposes of discussion and comment before being finalised. I understand that the procedure of the IAC in these circumstances is to leave a reasonable time for that to be done. It is unfortunate that there should be any delay in this matter, but I emphasise the fact that apparently the delay is only a delay of about a week.
Apparently a number of copies of the report have been made available to certain selected people. I imagine there are considerable printing difficulties in this matter, and I have no doubt that is the reason for the delay. However, I appreciate the fact that members of this Parliament in particular would expect to have these reports available to them and that they should not be confined to only a few members of this Parliament, to the Press or any other selected group. I certainly will take the matter up with my colleague, the Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs (Mr Howard), tomorrow. I do not think I will have time to do it tonight. Perhaps I will be able to make a statement some time tomorrow in regard to the matter.
– I draw to the attention of the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs (Senator Durack) the fact that in the States various organisations- in particular, the trade unions, the musicians and actors’ equityare dependent on Federal source for these documents. I have no doubt that Senator Melzer has been asked, as I have, for copies of the Industries Assistance Commission’s report on the performing arts. It seems to me quite wrong that members cannot get copies when the Press can get copies and float the _ information almost instantaneously. There seems to be some arrangement for some members of Parliament or committees on which they sit to get them very quickly. I ask the Minister to consider the point I have raised. The information does not reach organisations in the States for some days, even when they are getting privileged issues of Question resolved in the affirmative, reports. Senate adjourned at 1 1 .6 p.m.
The following answers to questions were cicula
asked the Minister representing the Attorney-General, upon notice:
– The Attorney-General has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
A pilot scheme has been introduced in the Australian Capital Territory under which members of the Law Society and the Bar Association are assisting the ALAO by manning a lunch-time advisory service and forming a Committee to handle legal aid referrals to be made by the Office to private practitioners. It is hoped that similar pilot schemes will be introduced in the Northern Territory and Western Australia with the co-operation of the professional bodies concerned.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Construction, upon notice:
– The Minister for Construction has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
The main items still outstanding are sections of contracts for industrialised housing where completion is subject to the provision of additional authorisation from the client department. Work at Umbakumba Hospital has been considerably altered because of changed client requirements; tenders for the revised requirements have recently closed. The Wave Hill section of a contract for nurses accommodation has been completed whilst the Timber Creek section was delayed as a result of substantial changes in the design and scope of the work; tender documentation is completed and the work will be co-ordinated with another contract currently under construction on the site.
The need for additional authorisation in respect of completion of industrialised housing is mainly due to building cost increases since the original tender closed in 1 972-73.
Country Mail Services
– On 18 August 1976, Senator Collard asked the Minister representing the Minister for Post and Telecommunications the following question, without notice:
In view of the serious cutbacks, and in some cases complete abolition, of mail services in country areas can the Minister ascertain what criteria is used by the Australian Postal Commission to decide on the future of any mail service? Can the Commission advise the Government what would be the extra cost of providing everybody with at least one mail service per week?
The Minister for Post and Telecommunications has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
Among the factors involved in considering the future of a mail service are the number of people served, the extent of other commodities carried, the amount of mail carried on each trip, the extent and nature of the route, and the cost to Australia Post of operating the service. From a review of such factors, the delivery cost of each postal article carried is used as one determinant in considering the future frequency of operation. Although costs of up to 5 times the postal revenue per article are currently being incurred, the lack of other income for the contractor and the few postal articles carried sometimes force tender prices even further out of balance with revenue. In some instances, widespread and repeated advertising has failed to produce an offer to carry mail, and suspension of operation of a service has been unavoidable. Additionally, phasing out of Government subsidies to ‘Essential Rural’ and ‘Developmental’ air services has resulted in the cessation of air service facilities to many properties in remote areas. As a consequence, mail deliveries have been withdrawn where no alternative transport is available.
It is estimated that to provide a weekly mail service to those people now receiving a delivery at less than weekly frequency would cost an additional $75,000 per annum.
Australia Post is currently reviewing these services to determine whether transport facilities would be available for the additional journeys involved in a once- weekly service should it be of sufficient benefit to the local communities involved. A similar review is also being made in rural and remote areas, of mail delivery facilities which have been withdrawn since 1971.
asked the Minister for Social Security, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
and (2) The exact number of motherless families living in Australia is not known. However, some information is available from two recent surveys by the Australian Bureau ofStatistics
Those classified in the survey as ‘unmarried’ included the widowed, divorced and permanently separated. Those counted as ‘dependent children’ comprised all family members under 1 5 years of age and all family members aged 15-20 who were fulltime students.
A survey of families conducted in May 1975 showed that there were about 19 300 one-parent families in Australia with a male head and one or more children aged 1 7 years or less. The May 1975 survey covered only cities and towns with populations of 500 or more and excluded the whole of the Northern Territory. The Bureau estimated that the survey covered between 88 and 90 per cent of persons living in Australia.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 13 October 1976, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1976/19761013_senate_30_s69/>.