30th Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Condor Laucke) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
- Mr President, I inform the Senate that the Deputy Prime Minister, the Right Honourable J. D. Anthony, is indisposed. For the time being the Minister for Transport, the Honourable P. J. Nixon, will act as Minister for National Resources, and the Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs, the Honourable John Howard, will act as Minister for Overseas Trade.
I also inform the Senate that the Treasurer, the Honourable Phillip Lynch, leaves Australia today to visit West Germany and Switzerland where he will have discussions with government and industry leaders. He is expected to return on 3 1 October. During his absence the Minister for Post and Telecommunications, the Honourable Eric Robinson, will act as Treasurer.
I further inform the Senate that the Minister for Industry and Commerce, Senator the Honourable Robert Cotton, leaves Australia today to lead the Australian delegation to the South Pacific Conference to be held in Noumea and to visit Japan for discussions on a range of industry matters with Ministers and businessmen. He is expected to return on 1 November. During his absence the Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs will act as Minister for Industry and Commerce, I will represent the Acting Minister for Industry and Commerce in the Senate and will assume the representational duties normally undertaken by Senator Cotton.
– I present a petition from 10 citizens of Australia. As it exceeds 250 words in length, I move:
That the petition be read.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The petition read as follows-
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 hearing of Aboriginal claims. The hearing of 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, seas adjoining Aboriginal land, wildlife and rights of Aboriginals to enter pastoral stations.
The control by 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 1 975 Land Rights Bill.
A provision that any Government decision to over-ride Aboriginal objections to mining on the basis of national interest be itself 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.
-I present the following petition from 1 5 citizens of Australia:
To the Honourable the President and members of the Senate in Parliament assembled. The humble undersigned citizens of Australia respectively showeth:
That the 1976-77 Budget allocation of $73.3m for child care amounts to less than $23 per child per year which is totally inadequate.
That in 39.4 per cent of married couple families, both parents work and of these 39 per cent have dependent children.
That 38.6 per cent of female heads of families work and of these 64 per cent have dependent children.
That present government childcare programs are heavily biassed in favour of pre-school programs, 70 per cent of the funds being destined for pre-schools which only provide part-time services for children and do not cater for the needs of working parents.
That existing government childcare facilities, schools and other government buildings which could be used for childcare programs are underutilised.
Your petitioners humbly pray that urgent consideration will be given to:
an increase in funds for childcare services throughout Australia;
an equitable distribution of funds to cover all the childcare needs of the community;
the cessation of the wasteful usage of sessional preschool buildings, instead these buildings to be used also to cover the full range of childcare needs;
the wider utilisation of government buildings or parts thereof, e.g. schools, hospitals and government offices for appropriate child facilities.
Petition received and read.
– I present the following petitions from 15 and 38 citizens of Australia respectively:
To the Honourable President and members of the Senate in Parliament assembled. The petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth that the Australian Broadcasting Commission belongs to the people and not to the government of the day whatever political party.
Your petitioners most humbly pray that the Senate, in Parliament assembled should
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 programs.
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 inquiries into broadcasting in Australia which may seem desirable from time to time shall be conducted publicly and that stong representation of the public shall be included within the body conducting the inquiry.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray.
Petitions received and first petition read.
– I present the following petition from 36 citizens of Australia:
To the Honourable the President and Senators in Parliament assembled: The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
That we believe one of the essential freedoms which contribute to genuine democracy is freedom of access to information. Political censorship threatens this vital freedom.
We therefore request that the 1976 Boyer lectures be broadcast as their author intends and that the Lateline radio program continue on the sound bases of adequate finance and political freedom.
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that your honourable House protect all media information sources from political control.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray.
Petition received and read.
– I present the following petition from 24 citizens of Australia:
To the Honourable the President and Members of the Senate in Parliament assembled. The humble Petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
That those who have retired and those who are about to retire, are being severely and adversely affected by inflation and Australian economic circumstances.
The continuance of the Mean’s Test on pensions causes undue hardship to them.
We call on the Government to immediately abolish the Mean ‘s Test on all Aged Pensions.
To ensure a pension for all on retirement, and a guarantee that all Australian citizens will retire with dignity.
Acknowledge that a pension is a: ‘right and not a charity’
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. We the undersigned Citizens of the Commonwealth of Australia by this our humble Petition respectfully showeth:
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray, by Senator Martin.
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 Ryan. (2 petitions.)
To the Honourable the President and members of the Senate in the Parliament assembled, the petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
That the Commonwealth Government restore the Petrol Price Equalisation Scheme immediately for the benefit of those people who live away from the seaboard.
Your petitioners believe that the matter is urgent and your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Senator Sheil.
– I give notice that on the next day of sitting I shall move:
Tuesday 2.30 p.m. to 6 p.m., 8 p.m. to 10.30 p.m.
Wednesday 2. 1 5 p.m. to 6 p.m., 8 p.m. to 1 1 p.m.
Thursday 10.30 a.m. to 1 p.m., 2.15 p.m. to 6 p.m., 8 p.m. to 1 1 p.m.;
I might add that it is not the Government ‘s intention to call this motion on for a vote before the first Tuesday of the next period of sittings, so it will not affect the times for the balance of this week.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Treasurer. I ask: Are reports correct that the Treasurer told the recent Financial Times seminar that ‘flat’ consumer demand was not inconsistent with his Budget strategy? Is this view incompatible with the comment in Statement No. 2 of the Budget Papers in which the Treasurer said: ‘If consumption fails to grow, there can be no recovery’?
-I did not have the privilege of being at that conference to hear what the Treasurer said. I have no doubt that what he said is a matter of public record and I invite the Leader of the Opposition to look at it.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for the
Capital Territory. Can the Minister inform the Senate what happened to the ordinance that was used in 1972 to remove the Aboriginal Embassy from the lawns in front of Parliament House? Can that ordinance now be used to remove those people who have set themselves up in a tent in front of Parliament House, or is it possible that there is an ordinance for Aborigines and another ordinance for non-Aborigines?
– I am unable to say what happened to the ordinance and I am unable to say whether it can be revived and applied in the present circumstances. I will refer the question to the Minister for the Capital Territory and seek a reply for the honourable senator.
– My question, which is directed to the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, is complementary to that asked in this chamber yesterday by my colleague, Senator Bishop. Can the Minister inform the Parliament of the details of Government plans to increase interest rates on defence service homes loans? In particular, can the Minister explain the following points: What is the maximum interest to be charged and on what date will the new interest rate be introduced? Will the new interest rate apply to existing contracts? Will serving soldiers still be qualified to apply at the appropriate time for defence service homes loans? Is it a fact that 2 standards will apply, the first to cover those who have not served in a theatre of war and the second to apply to those who have served in a theatre of war? Has the projected scheme been supported by the Returned Services League? Can the Minister name any ex-servicemen’s organisations that are supporting the projected plan?
– It is very simple for me to answer the question asked by Senator Keeffe. There are no Government plans to increase interest rates on defence service homes loans. There has been some speculation, apparently, in the media in the last few days. I cannot speculate on its source, but that seems to be the only basis for Senator Keeffe ‘s question. As I said yesterday, there are difficulties and problems associated with the defence service homes loans scheme because of the long waiting period involved. The waiting period is now 1 1 months. The present Government inherited that waiting period from the previous Labor Government.
– That is rubbish.
-I said that yesterday without receiving any objection from Senator
Bishop who is a former Minister for Repatriation. The position is that I, having assumed responsibility for the defence service homes loans scheme, am reviewing the whole scheme thoroughly. As I said yesterday, I certainly will be consulting the Returned Services League and the Australian Services Council in regard to that review. Any decisions made by the Government in regard to this matter will be announced when they are made.
– I wish to ask a supplementary question. I remind the Minister for Veterans ‘ Affairs that prior to 1972 the waiting period for a home was about 1 8 months under the Government of which he was a supporter. I note what the Minister says, but is it not a fact that the former Minister, Mr Newman, made a recommendation to the Cabinet that interest rates be increased? Following on what the Minister has just said, is it not a fact that the defence service homes division is going bankrupt, whereas previously under the Labor Government it was a profitable section of the Department of Housing and Construction?
– It is not my function to give any reply, on behalf of any predecessor in the office that I now hold, as to what he may or may not have done. Mr Newman has already been asked the same question by Mr Uren in another place. I refer Senator Keeffe to the answer he gave.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Education. I refer to the reports of a statement made by Dr McKinnon, who, as the Minister would know, is Chairman of the Schools Commission. My question concerns what he described as the resistance to reform in the Australian schools system. Has the Minister noted the emphasis that has been placed on the insufficient time given to practical techniques of teaching literacy? Has this lack of practical teaching techniques led to a decline in the standard of literacy in the Australian education system? Because I believe this is important to the Australian system generally, I ask whether the Minister can inform the Senate of any steps that he might contemplate taking to overcome the problems as stated by Dr McKinnon?
-I did read in the Press a report of Dr McKinnon ‘s speech and I have read the full text of his speech. As to the ‘questions of the degree of literacy and the length of time taken in achieving literacy, thi difficulty is that there is no record of past tests of numeracy and literacy to use as a measuring stick. There has been only one in modern times and that was generated by the House of Representatives Select Committee on Specific Learning Difficulties through tests done by the Australian Council for Education Research. For the information of honourable senators that report is available for their perusal. The tests were carried out on 10- year-olds and 14-year-olds. The tests showed some defects in numeracy and literacy. The difficulty is that there is no bench mark by which to measure literacy. There are various intuitive beliefs amongst some people that numeracy and literacy may have declined. The fact is that throughout the whole of the education system more people are now moving up through the later years of education and therefore we are seeing a different cross-section of people. Within the various specialist units of my Department steps are being taken to work out methods of evaluation so that in the future we may at regular periods of years have tests carried out to measure the progress of numeracy and literacy. I regard the matter as important and of course we will concentrate on it because it is vital to the whole of the development of educational skills to have a base from which to start.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Social Security. It concerns an article in the Canberra Times today which refers to an alleged statement by a member of the staff of the Minister’s Department relating to deterioration of morale amongst members of the staff and the fact that staff members refuse to write blatant deceit in material for public consumption. Was such a statement released? Is it a fact that there is deterioration in morale among the staff of the Department? Is it a fact that staff members of the Department have been asked to write blatant deceit in material for public consumption? Was this statement by the staff member withdrawn at the request of the departmental head? If so, what methods of persuasion did the departmental head use to have the statement withdrawn?
– I am not sure that I can answer the questions in sequence, but I am prepared to comment on the matter that has been raised by the honourable senator. I was concerned to learn yesterday of a statement issued by an officer of the Department. I was informed last night by the Director-General that, after giving the statement mature consideration, the officer concerned had decided to withdraw it.
– He gave in under pressure.
– I am not aware of the discussions that were held by the senior officer in the section in which this staff member was engaged. I am not aware of any pressure that may have been put upon him to withdraw the statement. I am able to say that it was later discovered that although he had withdrawn the statement from the members of the staff to whom he had distributed it, certain members of the Press Gallery did have a copy of the statement. The Director-General, having been contacted by the members of the Press Gallery, issued a statement himself rejecting some of the allegations in the officer’s statement and stating that the officer’s statement contained many inaccurate and subjective judgments.
In regard to the matter itself, I am concerned to know that an officer did feel the frustration that was evident in the statement that was released. I regret that I had not known personally of the feelings of the officer. Neither had the Director-General had direct discussion with him prior to his releasing the statement. In regard to deterioration of morale within the Department, this was one of the subjective judgments made in the statement issued yesterday. I can only say from the contact I have had with the officers of my Department through my own office that I have found the utmost co-operation and effective work is done by them. I have no knowledge of the particular part of the statement which referred to blatant deceit in material for public consumption but that was one of the statements that was referred to by the DirectorGeneral as being inaccurate and a subjective judgment on the part of the officer concerned.
– I should like to ask a supplementary question. The Minister referred to a statement put out by the Director-General of her Deparment which pointed out inaccuracies in the original statement issued by the officer of her Department. Will the Minister make available to the Parliament- if necessary, by tabling- any statement put out by her Director-General in the last 24 hours which refers to inaccuracies in the original statement and which points out the basis of those inaccuracies?
– I do not have a copy with me but I can obtain from my office a copy of the statement issued last night by the DirectorGeneral of Social Security. To my knowledge that is the only statement that was issued by him. When I have a copy of the statement available I will seek leave to table it in the Senate.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations. I refer to a statement made by the Leader of the Opposition in another place, Mr Whitlam, claiming that trade unions have the right to take industrial action on political issues. As a preface to my question, I draw the Senate’s attention to the fact that union leaders are often elected by only a small percentage of their members and that the total labour force constitutes approximately only 50 per cent of the population over the age of 15. The Government represents nearly 100 per cent of the people. Can the Minister explain what legal rights trade unionists have in dictating their political beliefs- or more likely those of their irresponsible leaders- to the community of Australia or against the democratically elected Government of Australia?
– The actions that trade unions may take to further their political beliefs or the political beliefs of their members is a matter, of course, essentially for the discretion of the trade unions and their members. What we as a government are concerned about and what a large section of the community is concerned about is the use of power by unions to strike or to exercise that type of activity to futher a particular political purpose. The Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations has said, over and over again, that it is his view and it is the view of the Government- it is my view also- that that is an improper exercise of union power and an improper use of the positition of privilege that they have in the community. That is the view of the Government and it is certainly the view which the Government will maintain.
– I ask the Minister assisting the Prime Minister in Federal Affairs: Has his attention been drawn to a statement attributed to Mr A. A. Walls, the Executive Director of the Australian Council of Local Government Associations, that federal funds granted to local government in Australia have been cut by almost 30 per cent and that councils have been warned of grave reductions this financial year under the new federalism policy of the Fraser Government? Will the Minister agree with Mr Walls that the total funds proposed to be available to local government his financial year have declined from $2 74m to $195m, a decrease of 28.8 per cent? Is Mr Walls a former member of the Australian Grants Commission? Has he, therefore, had a very long experience and association with local government financial arrangements? How do Mr Walls’ statements square with the constant assertion by the Minister that there has been an increase of 75 per cent in the amount of money made available by the Government to local government organisations and that rates need not necessarily rise by more than 5 per cent this year?
– I am very grateful to Senator Douglas McClelland for giving me the opportunity to respond to the article, which in fact I have in my hand. I would have been even more grateful if he had read the article and had exposed the fact that Mr Walls said that the criteria on which he based his figures took into account $94m made available for the Regional Employment Development scheme last year- an amount which he deducted in order to arrive at his conclusion. Senator Douglas McClelland unblushingly failed to state that Mr Walls said that admittedly the reduction was due to the phasing out of the RED scheme, the discontinuance of employment relief grants, etc. It may have escaped the attention of the Opposition, but not the people of Australia, that it was the Federal Labor Party Government which wiped out the RED scheme. If the total amount of money is adjusted to eliminate the RED scheme, last year, under the Whitlam Government, $ 180.261m would have been spent on local government. This compares with $ 194.92m allocated this year. That is, of course, an increase this year of 8. 1 per cent over last year. Mr Walls is a former member of the Grants Commission. If we adjust the figures to take out the phased out RED scheme that the Labor Party abolished it will be seen that there has been a major increase in local government funds for this year. How do we adjust this situation? I take no account of interjections from the brain fever birds opposite. The Labor Party cannot get it out of its soul that we, rather than it, increased the untied grants for local government from $79. 9m last year to $ 140m this year.
– I wish to ask a supplementary question. Is the Minister saying that the expenditure under the RED scheme was money wasted? Further, did not the Prime Minister in his policy speech last
November undertake to reintroduce the RED scheme when elected to office?
– The use of the red herring is quite extraordinary. I made no comment on the validity or otherwise of the RED scheme, but the Whitlam Labor Government did. It said it ought to be wiped out. It abolished the scheme. The only body that said- to use Senator Douglas McClelland ‘s words- that the scheme was a waste and ought to be abolished was the Labor Government, and it set out to do so. I am totally unaware of any statement by the present Prime Minister on the reintroduction of the RED scheme. I say emphatically that the Labor Government by its own action determined that the RED scheme should not function in future.
– I wish to ask another supplementary question.
– It must be very relevant to the answer.
– I asked the Minister: Did not the Prime Minister in his policy speech last November undertake to reintroduce the RED scheme when elected to office?
– It is quite extraordinary that Senator Douglas McClelland listens only to his own words and not to replies. Honourable senators on the Government benches would confirm that I replied by saying that I had no knowledge at all whether the Prime Minister made any statement on this matter. That, for the benefit of Senator Douglas McClelland, is the second time I have said that in 2 minutes.
-Can the Minister representing the Minister for Transport inform the chamber whether, following the investigation of the Tasmanian railway system, the report which is due for completion this month will be tabled prior to the Government’s consideration?
-I am not aware of that. Since it is a matter of considerable importance, to Tasmanians in particular, I will direct it to my colleague, the Minister for Transport, and get a reply.
– My question to Senator Carrick follows one asked earlier by Senator Douglas McClelland. Is the Minister aware that the reason the Labor Government decided to discontinue the Regional Employment Development scheme was that unemployment dropped by 60 000 during the last 2 months of the Labor Government and the first 2 months of the coalition Government as a direct result of the Budget brought down by the Labor Government in 1975, that unemployment increased as a result of the policies of the present Government to levels which we have not seen in this country since 1933 and that that is the justification for the move to re-introduce the RED scheme or similar levels of spending on local government in Australia? Does the Minister not concede that the reason for the RED scheme being abolished by the previous Government was as I have stated?
-If it is now revealed that that was its reason there is no record of the Labor Government ever having said so. I invite the Leader of the Opposition to produce for us evidence of such statements because he is saying that the Labor Government foresaw that unemployment would drop and then would increase in the future. I have seen no such statements by the Labor Party. What I do know is a record of history, and that is simply that when we left office in 1972 we were able to say to the world that of all countries in the free world we had the longest period of sustained full employment- 20 years. Then in a space of 1 8 months the Labor Party produced the highest level of unemployment since the Depression of the 1 930s.
The slick kind of figures that the Leader of the Opposition tries to project are not relevant to the situation. The fact is that the Labor Government’s record of disaster in inflation, which at the time was approaching 18 per cent, was such that inevitably for some time ahead the impetus of unemployment would continue. I remind the honourable senator of the Budget speech which he read out in the name of Mr Hayden, the then Treasurer, in which he, the Leader of the Opposition, said that it was not unemployment as such that must be tackled; that if full employment was sought inflation must be tackled and reduced and that then there would be jobs. If we are looking to ascertain whose policies are working and whose policies are failing let us remember that Senator Wriedt himself said that unemployment policies can be tested by the height of inflation. When we took office we inherited an inflation rate of something like 18 per cent. I am happy to say that inflation is declining and that therefore the prospect of a growth in employment is rising.
– I ask a supplementary question. I ask Senator Carrick, in relation to the words out of his own mouth that inflation is declining, whether he can explain to the Senate why unemployment is increasing.
-I will be delighted to do so. When he was mouthing the Budget speech of the Treasurer of the Labor Government of the day, the Leader of the Opposition indicated that the correct thesis was that to get full employment or higher employment one needed to bring inflation down so that commercial and industrial investment would make a profit despite the erosion of inflation. Indeed, that was the thesis on which the last Budget was brought down. Clearly until inflation is brought down to a point where commercial and industrial investment is profitable- that is until a dollar invested will yield something in terms of profitability despite the erosion of inflation- there will not be a pick-up in employment. I am happy to say that the rate of inflation is declining. We are moving towards a situation in which profitability in industry is being restored. It is a slow and painful business but, as it happens, more jobs will be created.
-I ask a question of the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry. I remind the Minister of the dairy products underwriting scheme which provides $1,100 per tonne for butter and $750 per tonne for cheese. This scheme has been greatly appreciated by the dairy industry at large but shows up a differential between factories producing butter and skim milk powder on the one hand and cheese or full cream powder respectively on the other. Can the Minister advise whether these differences which give a substantial variation in returns to producers are intentional? If so, what is the reason? If not, what steps are being taken to regularise the relativity of the underwriting?
-The Government’s decision to increase the level of underwriting of the equalisation values of butter and cheese from $900 per tonne to $1,100 per tonne for butter and from $680 per tonne to $750 per tonne for cheese was taken on the basis of the latest production estimates for the 1976-77 season and on the need to ensure that manufacturers are able to make the earliest maximum payments possible to dairy farmers. As was made clear by the Minister for Primary Industry, Mr Sinclair, when he announced the increase in the level of underwriting, the extent to which individual manufacturers could increase their pay rates to dairy farmers would be influenced by the effect that the reduced throughput, caused by the drought in southern States, was having on their operating costs and the measures which manufacturers may be able to take to reduce the effect of such cost increases. A further important element which would influence the level of manufacturers’ pay rates to dairy farmers would be their respective products mixes. Because of the operation of the factors I have mentioned and, as they will have different effects upon different manufacturers, pay rates by manufacturers to dairy farmers will vary.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry. By way of preface I indicate that on 26 November 1975 the caretaker Prime Minister, who was the Leader of the Opposition, said, amongst other things, when speaking in regard to primary industry:
We will redress the situation by a number of proposals.
He also said:
We will establish a rural bank for long term finance.
As late as 19 October 1976, which was last Tuesday, the Minister for Primary Industry, Mr Sinclair, in a speech to the Federal Council of the National Country Party in Canberra, referring to the introduction of measures that are essential to long term survival for the growth of primary industry, had this to say:
I am now engaged in planning a national rural bank. I am hopeful that such a bank or its equivalent will be in operation before or as part of the next Budget.
I ask: Is it the intention of the Government to honour the undertaking given by the Prime Minister some 10 or 11 months ago or is the opposition by established banking institutions inhibiting that genuine intention? I am prepared to be charitable and say that the undertaking given by the Prime Minister was genuine. I repeat: Is that intention being inhibited by the opposition of the established banking institutions to this long term arrangement of a rural banking system?
-As I understand Government policy in relation to this matter, it is the intention of the Government to introduce a national rural bank. That may not be the name of the bank when it comes into being. It will be introduced within the time frame announced by the Minister for Primary Industry, Mr Sinclair, and it will be introduced whether or not other people wish to co-operate with us in the introduction of such a bank.
– I direct a question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. I refer to an answer given by the Minister to a question yesterday about the Government’s attitude to the recognition of the state of the Transkei when independence is granted by the Republic of South Africa on 26 October. Is the Minister aware of the statement by the African Chief of the Transkei, Kaiser Matanzima earlier this year:
Transkein people have a right to decide their fate and nobody has the right to oppose their decision.
Is the Leader of the Government also aware that the Chief said:
It passes my comprehension why the anti-colonial United Nations clings to the imperial relics so passionately and rejects the Transkei which is doing nothing more than regaining sovereignty over its territory.
Has the attention of the Leader of the Government been drawn to an answer given by the Chief to a question on 4 October this year, as reported in a magazine interview, asking whether independence was being foisted upon him by the South African Government, in which the Chief said:
Not at all- if you read the Transkei Legislative Assembly reports as far back as 1930 you will find motion after motion requesting the South African Government to grant the Transkei self-government as a precursor to full independence.
In view of these statements and many others that I could quote, I ask: In what way does the Transkei fail to fulfil the Australian criteria for recognition as an independent nation? In what way does the Transkei differ from Papua New Guinea in relation to Australia?
-I again draw the attention of Senator Jessop and of my other colleagues to the answer which I put down yesterday and which is based on a deep philosophical commitment of this Government to be totally opposed to the principle of apartheid. Apartheid, as I understand it, can take a number of forms. In the Government’s opinion, the Transkei is a part of it. Therefore, irrespective of statements which people who are directly involved may have made, the Government’s philosophical approach is that it will have no part of racial discrimination in whatever form it shows and no matter how dressed up it is.
– Will the Minister representing the Minister for Post and Telecommunications inform the Senate of the criteria which must be satisfied before a person is considered suitable for selection and is permitted to take up an appointment to a public statutory body? Are appointees required to make full disclosures of any business interests or directorships held prior to accepting an appointment? If so, did the present Chairman of the Australian Broadcasting Commission, Sir Henry Bland, disclose prior to accepting the chairmanship of the independent and publicly owned Australian Broadcasting Commission his directorship of over 9 companies, Australian and multinational, including the Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd and Haemetite Pty Ltd, a company which is chaired by Sir Ian McLennan and which administers the BHP Staff Fund and which has 4 directors who also sit on the Board of BHP? Did he disclose the substantial interest of Haematite Pty Ltd in 2 companies- Consolidated Press Holdings Ltd and News Limited- both of which are reported to have major commercial television interests?
– I am not aware of the criteria used in determining the suitability of persons for appointment to statutory bodies. The decision to appoint Sir Henry Bland as Chairman of the Australian Broadcasting Commission was made by the Cabinet of the day. All parties in this Parliament when in government, both Labor and Liberal-National Country Party, had acknowledged that he was a person of outstanding ability and capacity who had given outstanding and devoted service to the people and to Australia.
– Do not speak for us.
-I will let the late Albert Monk speak for the Labor Party, because he spoke with great commendation of Sir Henry Bland. It is not to be thought that the Labor Party of today would. I am not aware that there was any request for Sir Henry Bland to make disclosures of his directorships or shareholdings. It was a matter of wide public knowledge that after he retired from the Public Service his services were sought on a variety of directorates of great companies and that his knowledge and ability would help the people of Australia enormously in those companies. Let the socialists sneer as they wish at Broken Hill Pty Ltd. BHP is part of the national character of Australia. It is one of the great Australian companies that have helped establish Australia. Without companies such as BHP and others making profits there would not be consolidated revenue out of which to provide social services and other benefits. So let the socialists knock these things as they will. It is an honourable pursuit for an able person in Australia to be a director of a public or a private company. Let the socialists sneer, because the doctrinaire socialism comes out when they do so. I am not aware of the matter raised. I will direct the attention of the Minister to the question.
– Is the Minister for Science aware of the Four Corners program on Saturday, 16 October, regarding the declining level of expenditure in Australia on industrial research and development? Is he concerned about this situation, and is any action proposed to arrest this trend?
– In the Four Corners program in which I took part on Saturday evening, it was commented that over the years there had been a decline in private investment in research. That showed up during the reign of the Australian Labor Party. It was brought about for a number of reasons. Firstly, a socialist attitude was thrust on the community. There was a dampening of the encouragement for profit. There was a demand from the government of the day for higher taxation. It was necessary for companies to tighten their belts and many found that the wisest way to do that was to shed some of their research investment. This has been very much to the disadvantage of Australia. It has been very much to the disadvantage of those scientists who would wish to seek employment in areas other than government employment.
As the honourable senator mentioned, there has been quite a decline in private investment in private research. There has been a change in that this Government has offered taxation benefits for investment in research, and the trend is reversing. It has become evident to me that some companies, are showing more inclination to take note of the work that the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation and other institutions, are doing, CSIRO being our major research body. We have had a change from the situation of one former Minister being anxious to hive off part of the research activities of CSIRO into his own department and to have the Australian Industry Development Corporation review first every program that came from government research so that in its own governmental way it might be able to take advantage of the patent rights that might flow from such research. This has been changed, and I have no doubt that we will see more balance in Australia in ensuing years. It will certainly be my endeavour to see that private industry is encouraged to invest its wealth and the wealth of Australia in greater research in this great country.
-I ask the Minister Assisting the Prime Minister in Federal Affairs whether he recalls on 2 1 September this year, in reply to a question from Senator Devitt, saying:
In the 3 years in which the Labor Party was in office local government bodies increased their rates by the order of 30 per cent, 33 per cent and 40 per cent.
I ask the Minister for clarification. Did he mean in that answer that they increased each year by the figures he nominated?
-No. I meant that from time to time local government bodies throughout Australia were forced, by the severe inflation brought on by the Whitlam Labor Government, to put up their rates, as the time came to put up their rates, by 30 per cent, 35 per cent and 40 per cent. There is abundant evidence of that.
– I ask a supplementary question. I take it, then, that Senator Carrick is not saying now that the municipal councils of Australia increased their rates by those amounts during the 3 years of Australian Labor Party Government. I ask him: Is he aware that statistics supplied by the Australian Bureau of Statistics and by the Parliamentary Library- which I am sure are available to the Minister if he seeks to have them- show that the annual average increase of municipal rates for the 6 capital cities of Australia and Canberra was 8.7 per cent in 1973, 1 1.9 per cent in 1974 and 22 per cent in 1975. As a matter of interest, for the first year of Liberal Government the increase was 26.4 per cent. I ask him whether he will concede, on the basis of factual information put before him, that the increases in municipal rates under the Labor Government were normal increases and were evidence of the fact that the municipalities of Australia were receiving adequate financial assistance from the Australian Government?
-Emphatically no, I will not. Over a period of some 20 years of Liberal Government when inflation was averaging 2.5 per cent the normal increase in rates was much less. The figures which I quoted- I will be happy to supply them to the honourable senator- were figures given to me at various times by the Local
Government Association of examples of the percentages by which local government municipalities and shires put up their rates. I do not understand the figure of 26.4 per cent which Senator Wriedt seeks to pin upon this Government in its first year of office. If it is for a calendar year, let me tell him that the year is not over.
– It is for the June quarter.
– This is fascinating. Do honourable senators see the trick? The figure is for the June quarter. Now here is Senator Wriedt presenting figures glibly, saying that this is what it is in the first year. And suddenly when we test it, as we have tested Senator Douglas McClelland and others, we find in fact that a slick trick has been played. I will be very happy indeed to obtain from local government the records of their rates increases over a period and give them to the honourable senator.
-My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs. I draw the Minister’s attention to reports that large quantities of hashish are being smuggled into Australia by Australian tourists returning from Bali, who are recruited there by drug traffickers for a fee currently about $2,000. Are these reports accurate? If so, can the Minister inform the Senate whether he considers that the current methods of detection by officers of the Department are adequate? If they are not adequate, can he advise what action will be taken by the Department to arrest this growing trade?
– I will pass on the particulars of Senator Messner ‘s question to my colleague the Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs as they require detailed consideration and reply.
-I ask Senator Carrick again: In view of the undertaking which he has just given to provide certain figures relating to local government, in the light of his previous answer will he table them in the Senate when he receives them?
-If the Leader of the Opposition wants me to do so I shall be delighted to.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations. Is the Minister aware of a recent decision of the Industrial
Court upholding the decision of a South Australian magistrate that fines imposed by the Federated Moulders (Metals) Union of Australia on a member for non-attendance at a stop-work meeting during normal working hours were illegal because of the provisions of section 188 of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act? Can the Minister say whether his Department has any means to advise rank and file unionists of the legal protection afforded them by the Act to enable them to offer for employment free of coercion, particularly in stop work and strike situations?
– I am aware of the decision given in the Australian Industrial Court on 2 1 September in the matter referred to by Senator Tehan. It concerned a gentleman named Leonard James Aylen who had refused to pay the fine imposed by the union. The union had sought to recover the amount in the Magistrate’s Court in Adelaide on 10 February 1976. The magistrate, however, considered that because of section 188 of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act an employee could not be fined by his union for working in accordance with an award, and he dismissed the application. The union then appealed to the Australian Industrial Court, and the appeal also was dismissed. The Senate will be very well aware of the Government’s concern about the imposition of fines by a number of unions on individual members who chose to work during the Medibank stoppage. I have already been asked questions and provided answers in regard to that matter.
My colleague, the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations, has written to Mr Hawke about the matter. In subsequent discussions Mr Hawke undertook to see what he could do to persuade the organisation concerned not to proceed further with disciplinary action and to attempt to have removed those penalties that had already been imposed. That is the line of approach adopted on this occasion by the Minister and it appears to be working out successfully. However, the Government does not wish to comment further at this stage, except to say that it has no intention of allowing a repetition of what happened following the Medibank stoppages, when individual members were disciplined by their organisations for choosing to work in accordance with their award. Honourable senators may be assured that whenever individuals seek specific advice on their rights under the Conciliation and Arbitration Act steps are taken to assist them in every possible way.
– My question, which is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Transport, refers to previous questions asked by me so that the Senate might be informed about the progress of negotiations in relation to committees which were to be set up to inquire into the Tarcoola-Alice Springs railway project and the standardisation of the Adelaide rail link. As more than 5 months have passed since the Government announced that committees of inquiry would be established- I have referred previously to the concern about the projects not only of the State Government but also of certain municipalities- can the Minister say whether a target date had been set? Have the committees now been established and, if so, are they working? Has a target date or a declared date been set for reports to be presented to the Government? The delay in relation to these matters is affecting many projects, including the standardisation of the Adelaide rail link which is a very important project.
- Senator Bishop was good enough to remind me yesterday that he would be asking me a question along these lines. I did put in process the machinery to obtain the information but I do not have it to hand. As soon as I get it I shall communicate with the honourable senator.
– My question is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. I remind the Minister that during the adjournment debate last night Senator Walsh referred to the citizens of Rhodesia as ‘potential fomenters of revolution’ and asked about Rhodesian citizens in the following rhetorical questions:
Are they not, in Sir Charles ‘ terms -
That is Sir Charles Court- guilty of treason? Are they not the people who defied the Crown; the people who placed the Governor of Rhodesia, the Queens’s representative, under house arrest?
I ask whether this blunt, if unsympathetic, evaluation by a senator of the Australian Labor Party makes clear the absolute impropriety of attempting to bypass or ignore the Crown or the Queen ‘s representative and whether it indicates an implicit acceptance by the Labor Party of the possession by the Crown of reserve powers, including particularly the power to dismiss a Government behaving illegally?
-I must say that I was more than attracted to the proposition put forward by Senator Walsh last night.
– Why did you not answer?
-I explained that privately to one of your colleagues. It came about through a chain of circumstances that got out of control. As I understand what happened in Rhodesia- I could be wrong- some 10 or 11 years ago the Smith regime was, in the opinion of the Governor, the Queen’s vice-regal representative, acting illegally and the Governor dismissed the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister then, I think, imprisoned the Governor. Her Majesty then dismissed the Prime Minister, but he ignored her. That is an indication that there is a reserve power in the Crown to dismiss a Prime Minister.
– Two wrongs do not make a right.
-You cannot have one and not the other. As I recall, there were certainly allegations of illegality about the previous Government. I recall that famous Executive Council minute of, I think, 13 December 1974 in which 4 executive councillors authorised for temporary purposes the borrowing of $4000m over a period of 20 years.
– I raise a point of order on the ground that there is now a case before the courts involving this matter. I think it is improper that the Leader of the Government, a lawyer, should make the statements he is now making. I ask that he not continue along the line he has taken.
-Mr President, I will not continue along that line if it offends the Leader of the Opposition. May I come back to the question which my friend and colleague, Senator Baume, asked, namely: Did not Senator Walsh say last night, both explicitly and implicitly, that the Rhodesian situation was the correct situationnamely that the Crown has the total right, the absolute right, to dismiss its ministers? He applauds the action of the Crown in that situation. If the Crown has the right to dismiss it must have the right to dismiss in all circumstances. I am delighted that almost 12 months after the event of 11 November last year we have at least one convert in the Labor Party, namely Senator Walsh, and I congratulate him on coming to his senses.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Social Security. Has the Minister’s attention been drawn to an article on the front page of the Hobart Mercury entitled House angered by abortion pamphlet’, referring to an abortion pamphlet jointly sponsored by the Australian Union of Students, the Womens
Abortion Action Committee and the Womens Centre in Hobart? Can the Minister explain why Federal Government funds given to the Womens Centre in Hobart are being used to sponsor and distribute blatantly pro-abortionist propaganda material to school children in Tasmania? The propaganda material depicts a cartoon of a naked woman with a foetus attached to her ankle by an umbilical cord in the form of a ball and chain. Is the Minister aware that the Premier of Tasmania, the Hon. W. A. Neilson, said that if young school children were being subjected to rape of the mind the government would take a strong view and if necessary would legislate to prevent it?
– This could have been raised months ago.
– If you agree with this senator, you get up and say so. I ask the Minister: Will she now publicly applaud the statesmanlike declaration of the Premier of Tasmania in respect of this matter? Will the Minister give a guarantee that Federal funds which are used for the purpose of distributing blatantly proabortionist propaganda will cease to be made available?
– My attention has not been drawn to the front page of the Hobart Mercury so I am unable to substantiate the matters that have been referred to by the honourable senator. I have no knowledge of the Australian Union of Students using the Womens Centre in Hobart for the distribution of a pamphlet. The funding of the Womens Centre in Hobart is based on the fact that it is used as a refuge, for emergency accommodation and for other purposes. I will consult my colleague, the Minister for Health, to see whether he has any knowledge of the matters raised. If there is any further information available I will see that it is given to the honourable senator.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Health. I refer to reports, particularly in the Canberra Times on 1 5 October, expressing concern that the Australian Capital Territory Ambulance service is inadequately staffed to serve the needs of the people of the Capital Territory. Can the Minister say whether staffing of the Australian Capital Territory Ambulance Service is inadequate in the light of the demands on the service? What action can be taken to ensure that services are in fact adequate at all times?
– The facts that were contained in the Canberra Times of Friday, 15 October, concerning the level of staffing of ambulance services in the Australian Capital Territory are substantially correct. There are 32 ambulance officers, 6 station officers and a superintendent in the service. The Australian Capital Territory is serviced by 8 ambulance officers each day and 4 officers each night after midnight to 8 a.m. This level of staffing is considered by the Capital Territory Health Commissioner to be adequate to provide a comprehensive ambulance service to the Australian Capital Territory. The level of staffing is constantly monitored and evaluated having regard to the number of calls and the time of day at which the calls are received, the source of calls and the location of the station from which officers attend the accident or emergency, the time taken to reach the patient and the ability of the equipment and officers to deal with the situation. In extreme situations where the demand placed on the service exceeds its rostered capabilities, off duty ambulance officers can be called in, including the superintendent who is on call at all times. Back up ambulances are always available.
In emergency situations the police and ambulance personnel work together in close cooperation. In extreme situations which have demanded that the skills of the ambulance officer responsible for driving the ambulance be more appropriately utilised in attending the injured passengers police drivers have been used. However, such instances are extremely rare and this course of action is adopted only where the circumstances may be preferable to calling out another ambulance. In the year 1975-76 the number of accident or emergency calls received per 24-hour period was 6.46. The Australian Capital Territory Ambulance Service has sufficient staff and vehicles to deal with such a demand.
– I ask the Minister representing the Prime Minister: Was the Indonesian Foreign Minister, Mr Malik, correct in his statement that the Australian Prime Minister had reached a secret understanding on Timor with President Suharto? If so, when might this secret understanding be made public? Could the Minister give any interpretation of Mr Malik’s statement that what has been achieved could not yet be revealed because of domestic pressure on Mr Fraser but it would certainly help Indonesia in international forums. I seek information on the stated achievement. Was it an achievement for the Indonesians, for Australia or for both? What are the domestic pressures on Mr Fraser that will not let him reveal the secret understanding? While it remains a secret understanding, how can it help Indonesia in international forums?
– Perhaps the easiest way to answer the honourable senator’s question is to read to the Senate an unclassified cable of today’s date which the Prime Minister has received from Mr Woolcott our Ambassador to Jakarta. It states:
I saw Malik a few minutes ago. He said he had not , repeat, not said or implied there is a secret agreement between you and President Suharto. He said his remarks to the effect that there was a ‘ heart-to-heart conversation ‘ and a better mutual understanding between the two men following the visit must have been misinterpreted by the Australian media.
I know that very few honourable senators ever take to heart my injunction that they might be better informed if they did not read so many newspapers. I also draw the attention of honourable senators to what the Prime Minister of Singapore said today. I ask that further questions be placed on the Notice Paper.
Senator MULVIHILL (New South Wales)by leave- Because of the inability to give everyone a fair go in asking questions- there is a lot of resentment for that- I will be speaking on the adjournment. I just want you to know that.
– Order! I inform honourable senators that the first questions today were given to those members who yesterday did not ask a question.
– Well, it is not good enough.
– I invite honourable senators to check Hansard. They will see that I rotate the asking of questions as fairly as I possibly can. For instance yesterday Senators Grimes, Douglas McClelland, Archer, Bonner, Tehan, Thomas and Walters did not ask questions. I called them early today.
– We will keep you here after 11 o’clock. That goes for the lot of you. I hope some of you keel over and die.
– I rise to a point of order. I do not believe the honourable senator should be allowed to get away with that sort of nonsense. He is bad tempered, rude and a disgrace to the Senate.
-I seek leave to make a personal explanation.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
-Senator Withers, in response to a question from Senator Baume a few moments ago, grossly plucked out of context the comments I made in the Senate last night. The questions I posed were prefaced by this qualification: Are they- that is, would-be Rhodesian immigrants- not in Sir Charles Court’s terms guilty of treason? The questions were prefaced in the terms of Sir Charles Court. I understand that Sir Charles Court supported the actions of the Australian Governor-General last year. Senator Withers could have taken the opportunity available to him last night to explain whether he believed Sir Charles Court supported these actions. I did not endorse the actions. I am aware of no allegations of illegality made by the Governor-General concerning the Whitlam Government. Those who submit that the Executive Council minutes of 13 December and 22 January were illegal must also be alleging that the Governor-General acted illegally because he signed both of them.
– Order! The honourable senator in those final words cast a reflection on Her Majesty’s representative in Australia.
Opposition senators- He did not.
– He did, and that is in contravention of Standing Orders.
– I take a point of order. I made no allegation that the Governor-General acted illegally in signing those Executive Council minutes. I merely submitted that those who argued that the minutes were illegal must be arguing that the Governor-General acted illegally. My own opinion is that the minutes were not illegal and therefore the GovernorGeneral did not act illegally in signing them.
-I seek leave to make a personal explanation.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– I claim to have been misrepresented. I was misrepresented in the Queensland edition of the Australian and in the Courier Mail. The Australian of 7 October 1976 and the Courier Mail of 8 October 1976 carried identical advertisements headed: Nema Holdings Limited. They were authorised by W. A. Stockwell, Managing Director, Nema Holdings Ltd. I would like to read the advertisements, in part, to show where I was misrepresented. The advertisements read:
The Company has been named on several occasions in recent months in relation to a purported indirect shareholding in the Company by Mr Bjelke-Petersen.
The most recent mention came from Senator Colston in a speech in the Senate on Sth October.
In his speech and in various pamphlets, articles and broadcasts it has been claimed or inferred that the company and its construction subsidiary have received favoured treatment in the allocation of State Government Contracts.
These accusations are false
I claim to have been misrepresented by the part which says:
In his speech-
That is my speech - it has been claimed or inferred that the company and its construction subsidiary have received favoured treatment in the allocation of State Government contracts.
I say to the Senate that at no time did I state that Nema had been given favoured treatment. Indeed I went out of my way to stress that I was making no such claim. I repeat what I said in the Senate on that night:
Let me stress that I do not allege that Nema has been given favourable treatment because of its association with Mr Bjelke-Petersen. I make no claim that Nema has not won its contracts on its own merits. I certainly have seen no evidence to suggest that this is so.
I do not know what Nema was up to in placing an advertisement containing this grossly libellous statement. Perhaps it was camouflage to the main thrust of what I was saying about Nema that night, namely, the Premier’s conflict of interest. I followed that quotation from my speech with a sentence which read:
What I am stressing is that a conflict of interest exists with the political leader in the State of Queensland.
I also seek the indulgence of the Senate to correct another misrepresentation that has occurred more recently. I refer to an article in the Courier Mail of Friday, 15 October. That article is headed ‘Firm gets State contract’ and in part reads:
The construction subsidiary of Nema Holdings, a company involved in controversy in the Senate last week, has been granted another State Government contract.
It was alleged in the Senate that the Premier (Mr BjelkePetersen) had an indirect shareholding in Nema through another company.
Nema denied any association with the Premier.
Senator Colston (Labor, Queensland) said State contracts were being granted to Nema.
The article went on to say that additional contracts were given. That article is incorrect where it says ‘Nema denied any association with the Premier’. In the advertisement, which I quoted earlier, Nema set out the Premier’s association. Regarding that advertisement by Nema, I would expect the company to correct publicly the gross libel which it presented on 7-8 October.
– When I was answering a question by Senator Grimes earlier today I undertook to get a copy of a Press statement by the Director-General of Social Security. I now have that statement. I seek leave to have it incorporated in Hansard.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
The document read as follows-
The Director-General of Social Security, Mr L. J. Daniels, said tonight that earlier today his attention had been drawn to a statement by an officer of the Department, Mr John Triming, referring to some working difficulties that were alleged to have occurred in the Department.
Mr Daniels said that he had immediately arranged for the officer in charge of the Division in which Mr Triming was working to discuss the statement with him.
As a result of this discussion, it had been reported to Mr Daniels by the officer in charge of the Division that Mr Triming had said that he had not fully considered the statement and its implications before he had given it to some of his colleagues. Having had an opportunity to do so, Mr Triming realised that the statement ought not to have been made and had taken steps to withdraw all copies that he had distributed.
In respect of the reference in the statement to a rearrangement of duties in the Department having been ordered by the Minister, Mr Daniels said that this statement was totally inaccurate. In fact, the statement as a whole contains many inaccurate and subjective judgments.
– Yesterday I was asked 3 questions to which I did not have an immediate answer. I have those answers now. One question was asked by Senator Wheeldon. It was:
Has any protest been made to the Government of the People’s Republic of China regarding the nuclear bomb which was exploded by that country during the past week? If no protest has yet been made, will one be made?
The Minister for Foreign Affairs has provided the following answer:
China has announced that it conducted an underground nuclear test on 17 October 1976.
It has been the Australian Government’s long-standing policy to support a comprehensive nuclear test ban prohibiting all nuclear weapons testing in all environments. The present Government remains firmly committed to that goal.
The Chinese Government is well aware of Australia’s position on nuclear testing. Our concern was most recently registered to the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs by the Australian Embassy in Peking following the atmospheric test on 26 September.
Yesterday Senator Brown asked me a question about the presence of, I think, armed Commonwealth Police at the office of the honourable member for Ballaarat, Mr Short. I am advised that on 30 September 1976 about 250 students from Ballarat colleges did demonstrate at the office of the member for Ballaarat but I can inform Senator Brown that the advice I have been given is that no members of the Commonwealth Police were present at the demonstration. Whether they were Victorian police officers or others I do not know but certainly no Commonwealth Police were involved. The other matter relates to a question which Senator Button asked me yesterday about the sale of some equipment of the Commonwealth Film Unit. I think that is the correct term.
– No. It is the Film Australia Laboratory.
-I thank the honourable senator. My information concerns the sale at auction of some film processing equipment on behalf of the Commonwealth Film Unit. One of us has the wrong term.
– I think you have the wrong term.
-The honourable senator could be right, but he could also be wrong.
– Read the question in Hansard.
-I do not read Hansard. I might run across some of the speeches made by honourable senators on the other side of the chamber and that would be unbearable.
– What do you read-TAe- Canterbury Tales?
-I read my palm.
– It must be very deep reading.
-It would be deeper than Hansard. I am informed by my Department that the equipment was put up for auction at the Film Unit’s premises at Chatswood, New South Wales, on 7 October 1976. 1 take it that we are talking about the same auction.
– It was on the same day.
-Thank you. I am informed that the equipment was sold because the Film Unit was vacating those premises. Originally, 93 items of equipment were listed but 14 items were later withdrawn by the Film Unit for its own further use. I do not know whether this was the equipment that was left or the equipment that was withdrawn; it is unequivocal, but I am advised that the equipment comprised printers, optical reducing equipment, processors, assorted motors and pumps, some film, chemicals and laboratory glassware. A silver recovery unit was also included. I am not quite certain whether these items were pulled out or left in. I am further informed that most of the equipment was built-in and substantial expense would have been involved in removing it to an auction area. There was also a serious possibility of breakage. The equipment was advertised as being for sale in one lot but should no satisfactory price be obtained it would be subdivided. Paragraph 9 of the Conditions of Sale in the auction catalogue states:
The totality of the equipment in the laboratory is offered for sale in one lot in situ on the basis that the purchaser will be responsible for the removal of the equipment by 22 October 1976 unless he can make his own arrangements with the Lessor of the premises, Willoughby Industrial Investments, 232 Castlereagh Street, Sydney. The Commonwealth which currently holds this lease is relinquishing it as from 22 October 1976.
I am further informed that the Film Unit- that title is again used in the advice I have receivedconsidered that the equipment had a market value of approximately $5,500. The equipment was finally sold for $6,000, as was stated in the honourable senator’s question.
– Last week Senator Wriedt and Senator Missen asked me questions concerning delays in the establishment of the Family Court. In particular, Senator Wriedt asked me a question concerning a problem in relation to the Family Court in Tasmania. I undertook to take the matter up with the Attorney-General. I have done so and he has authorised me to inform the Senate that it is his intention to appoint an additional judge of the Family Court based in Victoria. He further informs me that in view of the situation in Tasmania, where there is only one judge of the Family Court resident in Tasmania, it has been the practice where there is a bank-up of unheard cases to send one of the judges in Victoria on circuit to Tasmania. However, in view of the pressure on the Victorian judges that has perhaps not been done as frequently as would be desired. That is the reason why the Attorney-General is appointing an additional judge in Victoria. It will help to relieve the pressure not only in Victoria but also in Tasmania.
– I inform the Senate that I have received the following letter from Senator Keeffe. 20 October, 1976
The President of the Senate.
In accordance with Standing Order 64,I give Notice that on Wednesday, 20 October, I shall move:
That in the opinion of the Senate the following is a matter of urgency:
The erosion of civil liberties in Australia with particular reference to recent events in Queensland. ‘
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 erosion of civil liberties in Australia with particular reference to recent events in Queensland.
I believe there are factors operating in Australian society today which would indicate that civil liberties are being rapidly eroded in some areas, such as in my State of Queensland, and gradually eroded in other areas. The Senate will recall that on 7 September, in this sessional period, during the adjournment debate I raised the subject of the Cedar Bay commando raid. That raid subsequently received much publicity, and what I placed before the Senate on that occasion has since been proved to be right. I said then- I repeat- that I do not condone drug taking or pushing. I never have. I hope my remarks will not be misconstrued. I believe there ought to be a very severe penalty for people who push hard drugs. Some of the statements which I will make during the course of my contribution to this debate will concern Queensland police, other police and some parliamentary representatives.
At the opening of a trade union national conference last Monday I delivered a speech. During the course of those remarks I said, referring specifically to the Queensland police, that 90 per cent of them were honest, that a minority of them were corrupt and that the decision makers at government level were ensuring that the position remained this way because every time a public inquiry was called for there was a great protest, much throwing up of arms and nobody wanting to go on with the public inquiry. This was the case with the suggestion for an inquiry into the Cedar Bay raid. Both Commonwealth vehicles and State vehicles, officials and police were involved. When I spoke on 7 September I said that 2 Commonwealth vessels were involved in that raid. I received a verbal assurance from the Minister for Defence (Mr Killen) that something would be done about getting information for me. Now, five or six weeks later, there is utter silence.
This is just not good enough. When I made that statement I think I added that while the police in my State were experts at catching the odd pot smoker, bank robbers, hard drug pushers and murderers seemed to go virtually scot-free. There is a very old gentleman in the Queensland State Parliament who spoke at 4.13 p.m. yesterday. I will quote only a couple of paragraphs of his speech. He attempted to denigrate me for the statement I made last Monday. I said that this country was closer to fascism that a lot of us thought it was. The member of the Queensland Parliament to whom I am referring is Mr Aikens. He said:
As Senator Keeffe is an ALP man, what he said the other day received all the publicity in the world. That always happens. The ALP seems to have the media by the short hair.
This gentleman is seldom quoted in the Press. Only certain sections of it quote him. The responsible Press does not quote him. He said:
Senator Keeffe said that this country is heading for facim because of the disturbing state of the nation, because some hippies at Cedar Bay got what they deserved (as a matter of fact, they did not get as much as they deserve) and because some university students in Brisbane got a crack over the head when they should have received two cracks.
Because of this so called police state attitude, we are according to Senator Keeffe heading for facism
When Senator Keeffe said those things, he lied, and he knew he lied. That sort of thing does not bring about facsim
He went on with a long story about Hitler and Mussolini. I wish to put the record straight because these things will go into the official Hansard in another place. I shall quote from Who’s Who in Australia, 1974. Mr Aikens, Thomas, M.L.A., North Queensland Labor Party- he is not a member of the North Queensland Labor Party any more, he stands as an independent- has been the member for this seat since 1 944. He is the son of the late J. Aikens. He was born on 28 April 1900 at Hughenden in Queensland. He received his education in the Charters Towers area. I will not read much more of his background. He served for a period as an alderman on the Townsville City Council. His recreation is music. His address is Parliament House, Brisbane, and 30 Soule Street, Hermit * Park, Townsville. His registered address on the roll is not the address at which he lives because from time to rime he is harassed by some people and he likes to think that if somebody throws a dead cat over his fence it will go into his neighbour’s yard.
I have been asked to comment on the statement which I have just read. This poor old man, now rapidly approaching 80 years of age, clinging to his seat by a slender thread and clinging to his sanity by an equally slender thread, has never been known to make a statement outside the House of Parliament, not even about the weather.
– I take a point of order. As has been pointed out here previously, I appreciate that certain things said in the Queensland Parliament by the gentleman to whom Senator Keeffe is referring should not be said in this Parliament. I do not think that is any excuse for lowering the status of this chamber. Senator Keeffe made some references to Mr Aikens’ soundness of mind which I do not think should be allowed to pass into the record.
– I wish to speak to the point of order. I thought the position was quite the reverse. Senator Keeffe said that Mr Aikens was clinging to his sanity by a slender thread. Therefore Senator Keeffe acknowledges that Mr Aikens still has his sanity. It would have been serious if Senator Keeffe had said that Mr Aikens had lost his sanity. Senator Keeffe admitted that Mr Aikens was sane.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator DrakeBrockman) I do not understand the point of order, but I suggest to Senator Keeffe that although certain things may be said in the Queensland Parliament we should think carefully about what we say.
-Thank you, Mr Deputy President. I realise that Senator Martin is a friend of the gentleman concerned. I did not want to be offensive. I apologise. The Beach report alone would indicate that what I said earlier this week about corruption in a section of the police force is a fact. It is the responsibility of all parliamentarians, and every other section of the community, to see that this sort of thing is eliminated. The Australian Government is as much involved in the keeping of law and order as is any other section of the community. This dear old gentleman to whom I referred- I will be a littler kinder to him, in deference to Senator Martin- is merely the fall boy, although a rather old one, for his equally obsessed Premier. I quote from a hand book of the Queensland Police Force:
A police force exists primarily to help members of the community obey the law rather than to arrest those who do not. A police officer’s first responsibility is to preserve life and property; second to prevent crime; and third to apprehend law breakers. These are his main responsibilities in order of priority.
This did not happen in the Cedar Bay raid. Since that raid on 29 August there has been a further series of happenings. I inform the Senate that as I proceed I shall be asking for the incorporation of a number of documents in Hansard. Two people, Bob and Lyla Elliott, who took the photographs associated with the Cedar Bay raid apparently were in some minor trouble in Western Australia many years ago. It was known to the Queensland police a long time ago. It was not until after this incident that pressures were put on them, and an extradition order was issued. Until then it appeared that the police in Western Australia did not want them back anyway. This sort of pressure was applied to get them out of the State. By various methods of court action we were able to ensure that at least their departure was delayed. A few days ago they were extradited. In the first attempts to move them out of Cooktown the big problem was who would look after their small child. This was no concern of the police, nor was it any concern of anyone in authority. These are inhumane attitudes to adopt when this sort of action takes place.
One of the more humorous sidelights, I suppose, is that the helicopter which was used by the police landed at Maytown near a pub known as the Lion’s Den. It is a very rustic little hotel in the scrub. The police loaded the helicopter with cartons of beer. Apparently they were for the celebration party. I seek leave to incorporate in Hansard a letter written by M. Calwell. I would like to read the first paragraph only and have the rest incorporated. It states:
On Tuesday morning, 14 September 1976 (approx. time 5.30 a.m. . . .) I was awoken by Kerry Elliott, who then informed me that she and her husband, Bob, were being arrested and being taken to Cooktown Police Station. I asked her why and she stated that the police had a warrant from West Australian authorities on charges they were supposed to have faced 5 or 6 years ago. I was completely surprised when I heard this, as 1 was under the impression that the Cooktown police had been informed of this incident in Western Australia, but felt as long as Bob and Kerry abided by the law in Queensland, they would have no trouble.
I seek leave to incorporate the balance of that document, a statement by Mr P. K. Harris which deals with another aspect of the matter, a statement by Mr Colin Ford which is a reappraisal of the circumstances that took place immediately after the raid, and 2 statements by the Hon. Mr Newbery in the Queensland Parliament. Mr Newbery is the Minister for Police in Queensland. These put both sides of the case in their correct perspective. They put the Police Minister’s attitude on the Cedar Bay raid and the attitude of the victims.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator DrakeBrockman) I have not seen the documents, but I would think that as long as it is within the capabilities of Hansard to incorporate them they can be incorporated.
– I wish to speak to the point of seeking leave to incorporate documents. I do not seek to prevent that in the normal way. However there is a problem. I understand that charges and proceedings are pending against certain people. This as a matter we will have to take into account during this debate. I raise the possibility that there may be material in the documents which could have a prejudicial effect on any proceedings that are taking place either against the people who have been mentioned or against others. That is an aspect to which you, Mr Deputy President, or the President, should have regard.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- I suggest that Senator Keeffe seek leave. I will mention it to the President and see whether leave is granted.
- Mr Deputy President, may I raise one other point on the matter of granting leave. On a previous occasion Senator Keeffe had some documents incorporated in Hansard which contained things that the Senate would not have agreed to allow to be incorporated if it had known about them in advance. On a subsequent occasion Senator Keeffe sought leave to incorporate some other documents in Hansard. The same query was raised with him. He was refused leave and he proceeded to read them. It was in fact proven when he read them that there were words in those documents which we would not have agreed to incorporate. I am not suggesting that Senator Keeffe is necessarily doing the same thing again, but I think we should have an undertaking from him in the circumstances that whatever it is he is seeking leave to incorporate meets Senator Durack ‘s objection and meets the general objection that he is not asking leave to incorporate something we would not agree to if we knew the content of it.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- The Minister has asked that, subject to the approval of the President, the incorporation be agreed to. Is the Senate agreed to that? There being no objection, leave is granted.
-Senator Martin’s fears are unfounded. In fact they are groundless. None of the words she is looking forward to reading are included in the documents. As far as I know, none of them infringe on any legal case in progress at the moment. A parcel of photographs, paper clippings and a cassette containing sworn statements, descriptions of photographs and the area raided, etc., were sent from Cooktown to a Melbourne address. The parcel arrived at its destination. It had been torn open and the cassette removed, although the photographs and paper clippings did finally get there. It is obvious that other forces are at work in this case.
There will be other speakers on my side of the chamber. We have lost a bit of time with points of order being taken, but I want to raise two more points. One of them refers to Aboriginal people who are not getting the respect of those who administer the law. I will read from a statement which I received only today from two Aboriginal people and one white person in Sydney. This will need to be read. Incidentally, this is not the subject of legal problems at the moment. The statement is made by Ms Marcia Langton, Dr John Bernard McCarthy and Ms Aileen Corpus. It states:
On Friday 15 October about 1 1 p.m. we went to the Bourbon and Beef Steak Restaurant, Kings Cross. When Aileen and I entered the Restaurant, the bouncer looked at our feet, and so we showed him our feet to let him know we had shoes on. He said we are not serving blacks here. We went into the Restaurant part of it and were seated and the Manager came over and said we had better leave before there is any trouble and we asked why we were not being served, and he said we don’t like your language. We had not been using any bad language. We said we are not going to leave until we are served, and Aileen said to the bouncer- you ‘re black (in fact he was Mediterranean) and he said Yes- that is why I am not serving you.
After a while one of the waitresses came over and served a drink, and the Manager saw this and got angry and asked her to leave or something and he said to us- you are really trying to push your luck, and if you don’t leave I will get the police. We said we are not leaving. You can get the police if you want to. He came back with a plain clothes policeman who did not say anything to either of us but spoke to John and showed him his identification. He said he would be back in 10 minutes, and about 10 minutes later, between S and 10 plain clothes policemen came in.
One assaulted Aileen, twisted her arm around and tipped a drink over her, and started to remove John and Aileen. Because they were doing something to John I moved and the Manager twisted my arm behind my back. I fell to the floor and he grabbed me by the hair and dragged me to the doorway and threw me into the post.
The police then took us out by the hair and put us into a car and kicked John in the groin and they put handcuffs on Aileen. John asked them to remove the handcuffs and they did.
They took us to Darlinghurst Police Station where they further assaulted me and Aileen and called us black -
Out of deference to Senator Martin I will not use the other words. The statement continues: and said that we should have been shot at birth, and that we had just come down out of the trees and thought we could run the place and that we were rockapes. John interrupted and said to stop saying things like that and they called him a . . and a lot of other things. They belted into John and cracked him across the ears and burst his eardrum, and we are all very bruised, but John is the worst.
They then took Aileen and me down to Central and asked me to empty my pockets. I had $6.25, and they called me a bitch and I said I want my receipt, and a cop came up and dragged me into the corridor leading to the cell.
At about 3.30 a.m. we were bailed out. WE WERE NOT DRUNK, AND WERE NOT OFFENSIVE
That is a total discrimination. There is one type of justice for one set of people and another type of justice for others.
– There are still people who say that Australia is not a racist country.
– That is right. A large number of Aboriginal people in Queensland are being thrown off Palm Island. I have gone to the care to take statements from those who have been removed from Palm Island. A large number of people have also been removed from Cherbourg. This is supposed to be an area in which everybody has equal rights. Some of the people come under the 2 Acts; some of them do not. They have been totally discriminated against. I can assure the Senate that there are no obscenities in any of the documents I have. They are signed statements of fact by the people involved. I seek leave to have them incorporated in Hansard.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Wood)- Is leave granted, there being no objection, leave is granted.
-The final section of my contribution to this debate concerns a very tragic happening in the Mount Larcon area. For the benefit of those honourable senators on the other side of the chamber who do not know where Mount Larcom is, it is situated close to Rockhampton. It has been generally known over many years as the food bowl for Central Queensland. Many of the farmers living there are second, third or even fourth generation in their respective families. During a long period they have turned this area into a very rich little area. Back in the 1960s a mining company, Darra Cement, decided that the area was worth mining for the type of material it needed for making cement. The first work by the mining company in the area was back in 1 969. The company started construction of the Bulwer Island cement plant in Brisbane early in the 1970s and it was completed in 1975. This was well before the final decision on the Mount Larcom mining case was made public. The chairman of Queensland Cement stated in the 1975 report that this cement plant was built to take the Gladstone clinker material which would be made from the Mount Larcom material. It was obvious when the company started construction of the Bulwer Island cement plant back in the early 1 970s that it knew it would get the land to mine. It appears that there has been collusion between the Queensland State Government, or certain elements in the State Government, and representatives or principals of the mining company. I have here a number of documents which have been signed by farmers who own properties in this area. The signatures have been witnessed. I seek leave to have the documents incorporated as well as the other material.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Wood)- Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– I want to read into the record a statement by Mr George Arthur Lucke who is a poultry and pig farmer and who is virtually the leader of this small group of farmers who have been operating for many years in this area and who are now being stood over by people in commerce and by members of the State Government because they see this area as a wealthy mining area and they do not care what happens to the small farmers in the Mount Larcom-Bracewell area. The statement reads as follows:
I, George Arthur Lucke, Poultry and Pig farmer resident of the Bracewell area of the Mount Larcom District believe Darra Explorations have received close and favourable treatment from the mines department whilst we have been treated with hostile closed underhand administration.
During May 1974, surveyors acting for Darra Explorations marked out two leases in our area each of 320 acres. These two leases included all our chicken rearing sheds and piggery but excluded our poultry abattoir and S houses. I rang Mr George Walker of Darra Explorations and asked if the leases could be altered to exclude our buildings. He informed me:
We cannot do that as there is a huge slab of limestone that extends past the buildings and goes underneath the houses and we want the lot. We are negotiating at the present time on ways of surveying extra areas around the 80 acre limestone lease next to your property. ‘
A few days later the surveyors removed the pegs from the two proposed lease areas and increased the area to 2137 acres 2 roods 16 perches as one lease area to be known as Bracewell No. 1. Only the mines Minister, Mr Camm, could have given this special approval and therefore must have been fully informed of the company’s plans. Mr Camm must have approved of the plans by allowing Darra to apply for 4 leases covering a total of S600 acres. The objections to the mining lease applications were heard on 4 February 1975. However, we were unable to get any information during this time from either Darra Explorations or the Mines Department on what was really proposed for our area. Mr Camm was able to use the excuse that as the matter was coming before a Mining Warden’s Court it would not be ethical or appropriate for him to answer questions.
An environmental impact study was released at this hearing and this was our first chance of knowing what was envisaged for our area. I believe the Mines Department agreed for Darra to wait until after the objections closed to release this study.
Incidentally, I have not been able to obtain a copy of that environmental impact study from the Minister. He said that it is unavailable except from the mining company. The statement continues:
The proof that we should have access to more information was given by the Parliamentary Commissioner, Mr Longland, who after a visit by two of his staff to our area, advised the Mines Department to send a deputation to Mount Larcom for discussions on the proposed mining.
At a public meeting held in Mount Larcom, the Undersecretary of the Mines Department, Mr George Cook, said:
There is no secrets between Darra Explorations and the Mines Department and I will in future undertake to keep Mr George Lucke fully informed of all information that is furnished to my department by Darra Explorations ‘.
No written information has ever been received and I believe Mr Camm prevented Mr Cook from carrying out this undertaking because of the following happenings. I had told Mr Cook how wrong I felt the laws were as the only way we could be heard was to appear at a costly court hearing against a large company. As the Mines Department made the final decision on whether or not to grant the leases I felt we should be able to know their decision without having to pay for it. He said he could appreciate this point of view. Mr Camm announced he would visit our area for a meeting on 18 September 1975. 1 rang Mr George Cook on 27 August and asked if Mr Camm had any worthwhile information or was it just a political exercise.
His reply was: ‘No, he has plenty of information’. I asked: Will he tell us what leases will be granted?’ He said: ‘Yes, at this stage we have agreed on granting East End and Bracewell No. 1 but Mr Camm has a meeting with Darra Explorations on 4 September and he will decide after that whether to grant Bracewell 2 and 3 as well. He will know for sure by the meeting on the 18 September’. However, when I went to meet Mr George Cook on the steps of the hall prior to the meeting, he refused to shake my hand and turned his back on me, saying over his shoulder: ‘You had better meet Mr Camm ‘, and introduced me.
As chairman of the meeting, I invited them inside and showed them the table at which I had arranged for them to sit. On seeing my tape recorder, Mr Camm ordered: ‘Get rid of that’. I replied: ‘Surely a man of your position doesn’t mind being recorded ‘. He said: ‘ If you don ‘t get rid of it I will leave the meeting’. After I removed the tape recorder Mr Cook said: ‘Mr Camm speaks first’. I said: ‘Who says so?’ Mr Cook said: ‘Who gives you authority to be chairman?’ My reply: ‘I am chairman of the group who invited Mr Camm and I undertook to do the job’. Mr Camm intervened: ‘We didn’t travel all this way just to hear you speak. I’ve got a whole heap of literature here from you and I have heard enough of you. We haven’t got all day and if you want to speak we are leaving’. My reply was: ‘If you were so worried about the time you would have been here a quarter of an hour ago and allowed the meeting to start on time. ‘
I then opened the meeting and introduced Mr Camm and invited him to talk. 1 gave a short address after Mr Camm had spoken and both he and Mr Cook were trying to upset me by talking and saying such things as: ‘Fancy having to come here and listen to him talking. We have heard it all before’. Throughout the meeting Mr Camm did not wish for me to ask questions and would continue talking if he noticed I was rising to speak. That was the first time I had ever met Mr Camm and could not believe his attitude towards me. However, he would not give us any indication of his intentions to grant the leases. All he told us was that he had negotiated freehold value for the land although legally we were only entitled to value of improvements. I believe Mr Camm had made up his mind to grant the leases or he would not have needed to worry about the value placed on the land. By not telling us of his decision he forced us to go to court and spend $5,000 needlessly on court costs. Mr Camm released the second impact study to us at this meeting. Although the study was grossly short of vital information it was forwarded to 6 government departments for their evaluation and recommendations. Mr Camm refused to release the findings from the second Warden ‘s Court hearing and only the Mines Department have had the opportunity of studying its contents. I believe this gross injustice to democracy when we have to pay to be heard and regardless of the Warden’s decision the Mines Minister reads the case after his decision has apparently been made. I also believe the Mines Department worked in conjunction with Darra Explorations to make a mockery of a recent deputation to meet the Premier, Mr Bjelke Petersen, and Mr Camm. I understand Mr Camm wrote a letter to a local farmer, Mr Gent, and invited him to sit in on our deputation. Mr Gent was escorted to and from the deputation by a public relations officer for Darra and was used in the media to discredit we farmers and the Mount Larcom area in general.
Mr Gent was one of the 2 people who decided to sell their land under the conditions offered to them. As my time has almost expired I would like to have incorporated in Hansard the remainder of this statement.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Wood)- Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
The statement read as follows-
Although Mr Gent was allowed to hear every word our deputation of five had to say, Mr Camm asked Mr Gent to leave with him for a few private words.
During the deputation Mr Camm and the Premier shouted at us for talking to the media and told us if we kept it up they would walk out on us and leave us to deal with Darra under the tenure of Miners Homestead Lease. They said we had no appreciation for the time and effort they were devoting to trying to help us. The Premier also told us ‘You certainly didn’t help us in the elections’. Meaning Labor had won the seat of Port Curtis in the by-elections and not enough had voted National Party and yet we still expected him to support us. To this I said: ‘Now that Bill Prest has won the seat he is the member we must go to with our problems. However I gather you will not listen to anything Bill Prest has to offer?’
Our Premier replied: ‘Certainly not. What do you take us for listening to him?’
I said: ‘Well, what are we to do? There are two labor members in Rockhampton and one in Gladstone and you will not listen to any of them?’
We have no where else to go.
The Premier replied: ‘That is your fault. You should vote for the right persons.’ We were trying to tell Mr Camm and the Premier that good farming land should be preserved as there was so little of it in Central Queensland, and the food needs of the people had to be considered when the Premier stated: ‘That is only a small area of land and forty farmers are not much compared with the loss of 464 farmers for the Wyvanhoe Dam scheme. Now that is beautiful grazing land, plenty of water for irrigation for all types of crops. We don’t like to see all this land lost but south Queensland requires more water so we had to do it. ‘
Mr Camm also stated with a gesture of his hand and looking out over Brisbane from the top of the Executive Building: We have to meet the needs of the people of Queensland. Just look at that for concrete buildings and we need increasing amounts of cement for the future. Society demands that we make ample safeguards for these requirements. ‘
The only thing we felt we gained by having the deputation was when the Premier stated just before we left: ‘I think the best thing to do is I will arrange for the Mines Department and Darra Explorations to meet with you people in Mount Larcom for further discussions before any decision is made on the leases ‘.
This meeting was never arranged or further mentioned. Mr Camm announced the granting of the leases on 29 July 1976 and stated all six Government bodies had recommended mining. I feel pressure must have been used for the Primary Industries Department and Irrigation and Water Supply Commission to recommend mining as the whole area would be destroyed for agriculture and the underground water supply ruined. I believe all recommendations should be made public and therefore no underhand treatment could be received. While we have been led to believe no decision had been made Darra Explorations have built a cement manufacturing complex on Bulwer Island which the company chairman says in the annual report:
Until Bulwer Island is operating at efficient volumes and being fed by Queensland produced clinker from the proposed Gladstone plant, the complex will have little effect on the company ‘s profitability. ‘
Also, early in 1975 the company purchased three blocks of land for approximately $250,000, in the Targinnie area and all have frontage to the ocean. This is the area for their proposed clinker plant and wharf. For these investments, I believe the company must have had collusion with the Mines Depanment and knew the leases would be granted. Mr Camm has always stated that he will undertake to make sure the farmers get a fair deal. Yet without consultation with the farmers he has released guidelines that are very detrimental to the future of our poultry and pig enterprise. We have plans (disclosed in the Warden ‘s Court Hearing in Gladstone from 24 to 28 November 1975) for future expansion on Portion No. 738 and under the guidelines we will not have any claims on Darra Exploration for loss of underground water required for this project. Darra will not be responsible for new supplies put within 500 metres of the lease area. Most of our 160 acres farm is within this distance as the Mines Minister has granted the lease on two sides of our property. We have the largest broiler farm and poultry abattoir in Central Queensland and the Mines Minister has shown total disregard for our future. We have been treated without respect because we live in Central Queensland and have no representation by any Cabinet Ministers to assist in the decision making for our State.
– In conclusion I want to say that the cases I have cited this afternoon are only two or three examples of the way in which civil liberties in this country are disappearing. I may have been over-simplifying matters when I said at a meeting in Brisbane on Monday of this week that we are getting closer to a dictatorship than a lot of us really think. If we are not vigilant, if those of us in the community who have a voice and who are able to exercise it publicly do not stand up and speak for those who are not able to speak for themselves, this country will be even worse off. Very frequently bureaucracy falls into line because it is the easiest thing to do and because it is probably the most respectable thing to do, particularly in these days when, in my own State, public servants are not allowed to speak out or are not game to speak out because of the oppression they feel from all sides.
We have had the case of the 4 school teachers who lost their jobs allegedly because they were caught smoking marihuana. Those people were punished twice-they lost their jobs and they were fined heavily. Only now after much public expression of opinion have they been granted the right of appeal. The Mount Larcom farmers are in a very depressed state because of what is happening in their area. This farmland will become a wasteland if the mining company proceeds in the way in which it wants to proceed. A public inquiry has to be held into all of these things; otherwise the day will come when there will be no opportunity for a public inquiry and we will be told what we have to do. Refusal to do what we are told will result in our being put behind bars, and we will suffer for it.
– The Senate is debating, as a matter of urgency, a matter raised by Senator Keeffe in these terms:
The erosion of civil liberties in Australia with particular reference to recent events in Queensland.
When there is brought before the Senate a matter of the magnitude and the seriousness of civil liberties, and particularly when there is an allegation of the erosion of civil liberties in Australia, the Government certainly takes that matter very seriously indeed. One of the major concerns of this Government is to preserve, improve and expand the civil liberties of Australians insofar as the Commonwealth Government has power to do so. The subject matter of this debate as presented by Senator Keeffe, however, leaves me, in my capacity as representing the Government in the debate this afternoon, in somewhat of a quandary, because the speech which he just delivered does not particularise the areas in which there has been an erosion of civil liberties and which directly concern the Australian Government. He did make reference to one particular case, namely that concerned with some Aborigines. I shall refer to that matter later.
The support that he gives to the matter which he raises seems to be based largely on complaints which he has received about the State police in Queensland, the administration of the Queensland Mining Act, allegations that people in Queensland are not able to have their say, allegations that there has been some discrimination in relation to the employment of teachers, and so on and so forth. There are matters which Senator Keeffe dealt with in his speech today but the Commonwealth Government does not have any power in relation to them.
We in this country live, and I hope will continue to live, under a Federal system of government and under a Constitution which provides for a proper and a fair distribution of powers between the Commonwealth Parliament and Government and the State parliaments and governments. Although it is very difficult at times to draw the line between them, nevertheless I think it is important to do so when dealing with a matter such as civil liberties. Clearly the State parliaments and the State governments have great areas of responsibility in regard to civil liberties, and the activities, or lack of activities, they undertake in the discharge of those responsibilities may well have an effect on civil liberties. They are areas in which the Commonwealth Parliament and the Commonwealth Government have no power and no responsibility under the Constitution. Therefore, no matter how concerned we may be about certain matters that occur from time to time, no matter how much we may believe that a question of civil liberties is at stake, there is nothing that we can do unless those matters come within the constitutional power of the Commonwealth Parliament and the Commonwealth Government.
I am rather concerned that Senator Keeffe, on behalf of the Labor Party, should present for discussion in the Senate as a matter of urgency the very broad allegation that there is an erosion of civil liberties in Australia. I propose to say something in the course of my speech today about the activities of the Commonwealth Government and of the Attorney-General (Mr Ellicott), whom I represent, which will indicate, and which I think will satisfy the Senate, that in fact very great attention has been given by this Government to the civil liberties and to the expansion of the civil liberties of Australians, insofar as it is within our powers to do so. I think it behoves Senator Keeffe or any other Labor Party senator who proposes to speak in this debate to make out a very strong case before they proceed to make wide, general accusations or suggestions that there is throughout Australia an erosion of civil liberties. I would have thought that, based on the particulars that Senator Keeffe presented today about certain events that have happened in the State of Queensland in recent weeks, it would be very difficult indeed to say that there was any erosion of civil liberties in Australia generally.
Senator Keeffe raised certain questions about which I would think members of the Queensland Parliament and members of the Queensland Government may be concerned. That is a matter for them to discuss and debate. I could not ascertain from Senator Keeffe ‘s speech a good deal about how far there really was any erosion of civil liberties. However, maybe I will be better informed when I have read the documents which he has incorporated in Hansard. Those documents probably will not play any part in this debate because it is very difficult to read such documents in the time available to us. But Senator Keeffe in his urgency motion refers in particular to recent events in Queensland. The basis of his motion seems to me to be almost entirely confined to these few cases which trouble him. They concern the way in which some Queensland Ministers or some Queensland police have acted or failed to act in certain instances. As I said, except for one or two Aboriginal problems he referred to, they are not matters about which the Commonwealth Parliament is empowered to do anything at all.
I want to deal with one or two of the matters with which the Commonwealth Government is connected. Senator Keeffe commenced his speech by referring to the Cedar Bay incident, in relation to which a number of questions appear on the Senate notice paper. References have been made to that incident in speeches. Of course, we are all broadly familiar with the events that occurred there on 29 August last. I would have thought that the proper way in which to raise the Cedar Bay operation, insofar as it had any connection at all with the Commonwealth Government, would be by moving an urgency motion or some other motion relating specifically to that operation.
The Bureau of Customs had a small involvement in the Cedar Bay operation. I would like to put on record what that involvement was. The Bureau of Customs had received some advice that there was a large scale cultivation of cannabis in that area. It was informed by the Queensland police that there was an intention to make some investigations into the area. The Bureau of Customs had also been advised by New Zealand authorities that substantial quantities of Australian grown cannabis- it was suspected to have been Australian grown cannabis- was being smuggled into New Zealand. In these circumstances it is the policy of the Bureau of CustomsI am sure every honourable senator will agree that it is the correct policy of the Bureau of Customs- to support State police operations which may reveal instances of international drug trafficking.
It was for that reason that, when a senior Queensland police officer advised that investigations were planned in Cedar Bay and requested some support in that operation, the Bureau of Customs decided to give some assistance to the Queensland police. The role of the Bureau was a fairly minor one. It largely took the form of assistance with transportation and surveillance vehicles. A Cairns based launch and a chartered helicopter were provided. Three Narcotics Bureau officers were allocated to the operation. Their role was to co-ordinate Customs personnel and equipment and, if necessary, to take appropriate investigatory action if breaches of Commonwealth laws were detected. In the event, no breaches of Commonwealth laws were detected. The officers of the Bureau of Customs were not involved in the seizure of drugs or in the arrest of any persons. However, vehicles that had been provided by the Bureau were used to transport State police prisoners to Cooktown. That is the long and the short of the Commonwealth’s involvement in this incident at Cedar Bay about which Senator Keeffe is concerned.
Another matter of concern raised by Senator Keeffe was an incident on Palm Island in which apparently some Aborigines had been removed from the island. I have not got any instructions on the matter. I certainly will endeavour to obtain them and maybe on another occasion I will be able to inform the Senate. In many Aboriginal settlements in Queensland, including Palm Island, there are local councils which have control over access to reserves. As I understand it, these councils frequently take decisions not to permit people on reserves or to remove people from reserves.
– It is part of Aboriginal selfdetermination and freedom.
– As my colleague says, it is an important part of Aboriginal selfdetermination and freedom. It may well be that on this occasion the council took action.
– It did not.
-I will look into the matter. It is worth stating that in many cases of this type it is the local Aboriginal council that makes the decision. As to the other matters raised by Senator Keeffe concerning Queensland, they seem to be entirely State matters. I do not propose to investigate them or speak about them in this debate because I do not think they come within the province of this Parliament. However, I would just like to say that it is usual for Senator Keeffe and other Queensland Labor senators in debates on matters involving the Queensland Government to make snide references to the Premier, some of the ministers or some of the Liberal Party and National Party members of the Parliament and suggest that there is now a lack of democracy or freedom or something or other in Queensland. Let me conclude this part of my speech by saying that democracy in Queensland seems to be operating very vigorously indeed and this was particularly evident in an election held not long ago when the Labor Party was decimated. Elections for the Queensland Parliament are held frequently as indeed they are for other State parliaments, and as I understand it common law is alive and well. There is a British system of justice operating. There is freedom of speech, freedom of assembly and so on. I think it is drawing the long bow for Senator Keeffe to allege that people in Queensland cannot speak out. There seems to be a fair bit of speaking out by many people in Queensland, and long may it continue.
– You cannot read Playboy, senator.
– I do not want to go into that in such an important debate as this. In the motion Senator Keeffe alleges that there has been an erosion of civil liberties in Australia. I would like to refer to some of the actions that have been taken by the Commonwealth Government of which I am a member and by the Attorney-General (Mr Ellicott) whom I represent in this chamber. I think the Government’s record is well worth looking at. I am very proud to be able to state it. The AttorneyGeneral has taken particular interest in the question of civil liberties. One of the major actions taken by this Government has been to put into operation the Family Law Act and to establish the Family Court of Australia. Under this Act a number of judges have been appointed. This Government has given general support to one of the more important -
– I raise a point of order. The Minister is making an improper assertion by claiming that the present Attorney-General implemented all these things. In fact, they were done under the previous Labor Government. I think if this Senate is going to be the forum for this sort of thing the facts ought to be stated.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Wood)-There is no point of order.
-Thank you, Mr Acting Deputy President. The point I was making was that this Government put into operation the Family Law Act. The Act was certainly passed by this Parliament. It is one of the major advances in civil liberties in this country. It was the present Attorney-General who brought the Act into operation under this Government. We will continue to ensure that the provisions of the Act are fully implemented and that people’s rights under it are protected. As to the rights of people in this country, I think one of the major actions taken by this Government has been to increase by 25 per cent the legal aid appropriation for this financial year. It has been increased from $12m which was provided last year to $16m, in round figures. The Attorney is proceeding as fast as possible to establish legal aid commissions in the States to ensure that legal aid is more readily available to the people. Legal aid is also provided by State governments.
When we talk about civil liberties I think it is important to realise the importance of providing legal aid to enable people to defend their liberties in the courts. This is one matter which the Government has, as I said, not only taken steps to preserve but also to extend and improve. The guidelines for eligibility for legal aid as laid down by the Attorney-General have improved its availability to people in real need so that they will not be denied access to the courts as has been the case in the past. The Attorney-General has referred to the Law Reform Commission for examination some very important matters concerning the civil liberties of all Australians. One of the major references is the issue of privacy. This is one area in particular in which the individual may be affected by Commonwealth laws.
The question of individual privacy or the right to privacy is a matter about which all Australians are particularly concerned. One of the earliest and most important initiatives that was taken by this Government was to refer that question- it is a very complicated question and in some cases rather technical- to the Law Reform Commission. The Government is awaiting with great interest the report from the Commission. The Attorney-General has referred to the Law Reform Commission a number of other matters which are of great interest in relation to the question of civil liberties. Such matters as organ transplants, defamation, insurance contracts and the problems of small debtors have been referred to the Commission. A number of reports have been received from the Law Reform Commission on a number of matters affecting civil liberties. The reports received deal with complaints against the police, criminal investigation, alcohol, and drinking and driving- that is, the breathalyser legislation. At the moment all these reports are under active and alert consideration by the Attorney-General. No doubt the Parliament will be informed shortly of the steps the Government will be taking in regard to these reports.
– Active consideration!
– Here we have a classic example of the sniggering of Labor senators- in this case, Senator Button. I do not know what there is to snigger about when we are dealing with such important matters as these reports and these references to the Law Reform Commission. The Government certainly is giving proper consideration to them. I should also like to refer to some legislation which has been introduced into the Parliament and to one Bill, in particular, which has gone through the House of Representatives and which I have already introduced into the Senate on behalf of the Attorney-General. I refer to the Bill to establish a Commonwealth ombudsman with deputy ombudsmen for the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory. Their duty will be, of course, to take up cases of people who claim to have been unfairly treated by a government agency, by departments or, indeed, by Ministers.
We have also proceeded to implement the Bill which created the Administrative Appeals Tribunal which was set up to review the decisions of Ministers, departments, or other agencies of government. The Tribunal came into operation on 1 July under the presidency of Mr Justice Brennan. The jurisdiction of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal has been expanded by this Government. Indeed, when we were in opposition in this chamber it was the actions of the then Opposition- the Liberal-National Country Party Opposition- which provided the substantial jurisdiction which that Tribunal has. The amendments made in this place by the then Opposition gave the Tribunal some force and effect. It is the intention of this Government to expand considerably the jurisdiction of that Tribunal in order to give more people rights of appeal against decisions of public servants and Ministers. I have answered fairly comprehensively a question in this Senate recently on the areas of expansion of the jurisdiction of the Tribunal which the Government is considering. My Department of Veterans’ Affairs is giving close and urgent consideration- I draw Senator Button’s attention to this- to the question of bringing within the jurisdiction of the Appeals Tribunal any appeals made under the Repatriation Act.
The Attorney-General has re-convened the interdepartmental committee on freedom of information. The object, of course, of that committee is to consider and report on proposals for freedom of information legislation. I suggest to Senator Button that that is interesting. We heard a great deal about open government in the 3 years of Labor government, particularly from Senator Murphy- as he then was- who was the Attorney-General under the Labor Government. I think the words ‘open government’ were used constantly and daily in this place. We were told that there would be a freedom of information Act but for 3 long hard years- as we remember those years of the Labor Government- no legislation for freedom of information saw the light of day, despite all the great protestations that we heard and which we are starting to hear again.
– You did not give us much of a chance.
– Why did the Labor Government not introduce legislation in the 3 years in which it was in government? The present Attorney has re-convened the interdepartmental committee on this matter and will be giving consideration to introducing such legislation. The Attorney-General also has moved to remove the stigma of illegitimacy. That will be a cooperative effort by the Commonwealth and State Parliaments. The Attorney-General has reminded me that although there is no legislation on hand as yet he has taken steps to prepare legislation against sex discrimination. That will come to light in the near future. I believe that from that catalogue of actions taken by the Commonwealth Government it can be clearly seen that far from there being any erosion of civil liberties in Australia- certainly within the areas of responsibility of this Parliament and of this Government- there has in fact been an expansion and improvement in civil liberties of ordinary Australians and of each and every Australian. The Government- by expanding the provision of legal aid in particular- is giving Australians the opportunity of exercising those rights which perhaps, in the past, their lack of means has denied them.
I am rather amused to find that a matter of this kind- an erosion of civil liberties- raised by a Labor senator in this chamber, albeit a Queensland senator. We know the hang ups they seem to have about the National Party Government in that State, but the fact is that I would have thought that one of the major threats to civil liberties in this country has come from the actions of unions which have been the subject of questions in this House recently. I am referring to people who are being fined by unions because they are exercising their right to work- people who wanted to go to work when the Medibank stoppage was called on by Mr Hawke and the Australian Council of Trade Unions. A case was drawn to my attention today in which a member of a union who had attended work during a strike was fined by the Federated Moulders’ Union of Australia. Fortunately, that did not succeed in the courts. I would think that that is an instance of a threat to civil liberties in Australia.
I was very surprised indeed that Senator Keeffe who believes that there is an erosion in civil liberties in Australia failed to refer to such a major threat to civil liberties as that kind of activity by unions in this country. The Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations (Mr Street) whom I also have the honour to represent in this place has been taking some proper and significant steps to do something about that. As I said on his behalf today, he has already taken action and has approached Mr Hawke in regard to some of the fines that were imposed arising out of the Medibank strike. He will continue to do so and this Government will continue to have the most serious regard to the question of civil liberties and to the civil rights of Australians. We will pursue and persist with our policies of expanding and improving the rights of all Australians.
-The Senate is debating a motion about the state of civil liberties in Australia, particularly in Queensland. I am somewhat disappointed to find that the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, (Senator Durack) decided to conclude his speech with some sort of ritualistic huff and puff in the Mohammed Ali tradition- sort of warming up for a fight but throwing no punches- by talking about his latest found malpractices amongst trade unions.
– They have been going on for a long time.
-I am really surprised. I hope that Senator Tehan, a Victorian Senator, will tell us when he speaks in this debate about the current work to regulations strike by the Victorian Police Force. I hope that he, as a Victorian senator, will tell us what he thinks are the political and civil liberty implications of that strike. Representing his State as he does, and representing the Party which he does, he will no doubt have an opportunity to say something worthwhile about that matter.
– Tell us about Queensland.
-I will talk about Queensland later, if I may. I know it is desirable as far as the honourable senator is concerned that I should not talk about Victoria. The Opposition has moved this urgency motion because somebody, I am not sure whether it was Thomas Jefferson or Senator Withers, made the comment that the price of liberty is eternal vigilance. We are concerned to be very vigilant about this issue. One finds that in response to the speech made by Senator Keeffe, and no doubt in response to a memorandum directed to his Department saying please find me all instances of what we have done as a government in the area of civil liberties’, Senator Durack has sort of thrown together his speech which amounts to nothing more than a catalogue of things which this Government has been able to do in fulfilment of legislation introduced and passed by the Labor Government and in fulfilment of commissions established by the Labor Goverment, all of which were criticised, opposed and so on by Senator Durack and his colleagues last year.
Senator Keeffe dealt with particular matters relating to Queensland. I do not want to delve into that area very deeply. I have made some study and I am familiar with what I think is locally called the chook Act in Queensland which makes it possible for a government official to enter premises without a warrant to see how many chooks a person has and things of that kind, which does sound to be reprehensible in the terms in which we have become accustomed to use that word in this Parliament. I do not want to dwell on those matters. I want quite early in what I have to say to give credit to the Government for the reference which it has made to the Law Reform Commission on the question of privacy. I think that is an important and bold step for this Government to take and one which displays a degree of contemporary understanding which I find surprising. I am certainly happy and pleased to be able to congratulate the Government on making that reference.
I remind Senator Durack that it was a reference to a commission established by the Labor Government which laid the foundation for a wider view of civil liberties than we had previously had in this country. I think there is a tendency to talk about civil liberties in a very traditional sort of way. I was surprised again that Senator Durack did not show any appreciation of the breadth which that expression might be expanded to embrace when one looks at the matter in the context of the 1970s and beyond. I am surprised that, as the Minister representing the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations (Mr Street), he did not offer some explanation to the Senate on why the committee looking into discrimination in employment has not met since May 1976 and why none of the similar State committees have met since June 1976. 1 do not know whether the Minister would be able to tell us why that is; in case he cannot do so, I will tell him. The reason is that the Government has not appointed chairmen for those committees and therefore they cannot be convened. It is not surprising that this Government does not rate that matter very highly. When I asked a question about that in March of this year I was told that it was the Government’s intention to establish a committee to deal with discrimination in employment. The fact of the matter is that such a committee had been operating very successfully for 2 years and reports of that committee had been tabled in this Parliament. That is how much this Government cares about the issue of discrimination in employment, in spite of the fact that nearly 2 pages in the Liberal Party’s policy document and in the Liberal Party’s program deal with the importance of discrimination in employment.
As I said, we get all this huff and puff from the Minister about what has been done about the state of civil liberties. He leaves out something which ought to be right in front of his nose as a Minister- the question of discrimination in employment. That is ignored. He made some comments about the Australian Legal Aid Office which I find highly dubious and highly tendentious. Although some jiggery-pokery has been done with the guidelines and so on, the fact of the matter is that the ALOA has been considerably inhibited by this Government in its activities. There is still a great deal of confusion amongst the public in Australia about the appropriate source of legal aid and the appropriate availability of legal aid. That confusion illustrates one very simple point. It is all very well to talk about civil liberties in the traditional sense, but an enlargement of civil liberties involves those possibilities on enforcement of rights being made available to a much wider section of the community.
– Hear, hear!
-Senator Chaney says hear, hear!’ I appreciate his personal view on that, but throughout the period of Labor Government members of his party dragged their feet on this issue. They were not prepared to accept it.
Let me refer to one other issue which the Minister omitted to mention in his speech. I refer to the emphasis which has been given or not given to the Racial Discrimination Act which was passed by this Parliament last year. The Act has not become effective in Australia because of the lack of money and staff made available to the Commissioner for Community Relations and the watering down of the capacity of that commission to carry out the functions which it is given under the Act. Both the Racial Discrimination Act and the discrimination in employment question are classic examples of the failure of this Government to carry out the obligations which are imposed on it under international conventions and, particularly in the case of the discrimination in employment situation, the clear undertakings given by previous governments in Australia to establish a satisfactory method of endeavouring to prevent at a State level discrimination in employment in the signatory States.
I notice that the Minister mentioned the Administrative Appeals Tribunal which may be lumbering slowly towards activity of some kind. An Estimates Committee was told last week that there were precisely 2 cases before that tribunal at this stage. The real criticism of what has happened in relation to that tribunal is that its facilities are just not known io the people who might be beneficiaries of them. That involves in a sense a total failure to expand the civil liberties of people concerned. I was asked by Senator Tehan to deal with Queensland. I have some very grave and nervous hesitation in speaking about Queensland because I might be involved in a deliberate attack on the Premier. Only last week on 15 October an advertisement appeared in the Courier Mai I which stated:
Deliberate and Malicious Attacks Against Our Premier are Unchristian.
The Senate will know that the last thing I would want to be called is unchristian. I want to refer to that advertisement to make quite clear the hestitation I feel about talking about Queensland. The advertisement states:
The Word of God says:
I exhort therefore, that first of all that petitions, prayers, requests, and thanksgivings be offered to God for all men; for kings and all others who are in authority, that we may live a quiet and peaceful life, in all godliness and honesty. ‘
Hundreds of thousands of committed Christians SUPPORT OUR PREMIER because of-
His twenty years on Government benches and support for clean, stable, Christian government-
His exemplary family life and challenge to Queenslanders to maintain health of mind and morals-
His unstinting support for TRUE civil liberty and rights for the oppressed, both here and abroad
His strong support for law and order- the basis of any civilised society-
His love of God and family, the Crown and the Constitution, his concern for the people of Queensland and Australia-
It is an interesting dichotomy- concern for the people of Queensland and concern for the people of Australia. I have spoken generally about my concern for the people of Australia and I want to spend one or two minutes expressing some concern for the people of Queensland. I want to do it on the basis of this advertisement because one of the things that is happening in Queensland which concerns many people, including members of the Liberal Party- State members, I would not put it any wider than that- is the erosion of civil liberties in that State and the sort of hysterical manifestations which have emerged in Queensland in support of the sort of rubbish in this advertisement.
Let us consider some of the matters which are suggested. Firstly, Christianity in political circles is determined, it appears, by one’s tenure of the government benches- 20 years on the government benches- and support for clean, stable government. Of course, standards vary from place to place. Undoubtedly there is stable government in Queensland if one uses that word stable’ in the most literal sense; but clean government? One used to regard it as a sort of civil libertarian standard that people in positions of authority and power should try to behave in such a way that there was no conflict of interest between the performance of their duties as people in power and the interests which they were elected to represent. In the old-fashioned world in which I was brought up I should not have though: that clean government involved accepting shares from a mining company operating in one’s State and allocating them to Ministers in one’s government. That is probably an old-fashioned view of civil liberties which might not appeal to the very contemporary-minded senators on the Government benches opposite.
Let us consider other matters suggested in this advertisement. It refers to the concern which the Queensland Premier has for the Constitution. I should have thought that those of us who have been in this place for some time would not have found the conduct of the Premier of Queensland exemplary in that regard last year when a vacancy occurred in the Senate. There are are all sorts of examples of similar kinds set out in this advertisement which clearly characterise not just an erosion in terms of legislation but also an erosion in terms of conduct by the Queensland Government and the people who apparently support it. That was well illustrated and referred to by Senator Keeffe by reference to what has now become known as the Cedar Bay incidentCedar Bay a sort of Galway Bay of the northern State. Senator Durack, in explaining the involvement of the Federal Government, referred only to the Customs Department not to the involvement of the Navy in that matter. I should have thought the Government had some sort of responsibility to answer the questions which have been put in this place about the involvement of the Navy and the evidence upon which Commonwealth officers acted in taking part in that incident on 29 August.
– The Minister for Defence was too busy with other activities.
-I do not know what his position was but I should have thought that the Government had some responsibility in that matter. This question has not been answered.
– I rise to oppose the motion. I suppose one should first look at its terms and ask why it is brought before the Senate. After all, Senator Keeffe told us nothing of civil liberties except in the State of Queensland. This debate should be taking place in the Queensland Parliament. If one is looking for reasons for the debate being initiated in the Senate probably the one nearest the truth is that the Opposition in the Queensland Parliament is not game to confront the Premier of Queensland. Senator Button, in his remarks, expressed some fear and trepidation about entering into a debate on that subject. It is not surprising, of course, that the Queensland Opposition should have abdicated its functions in a debate on this topic because if one looks at the record of the Labor Party in Queensland over recent times it is quite revealing. I should remind the people of Australia who are listening to this broadcast and my friends opposite that after the last State election in Queensland, even though the Labor Party was supported by the great white hope of those days, the then Prime Minister, it succeeded in winning only 1 1 seats or, as has been perhaps somewhat uncharitably suggested, a mere cricket team. Another way of expressing the position was that the Labor Party members could have all been fitted into 2 taxis. If we take the analogy of a cricket team, apparently the Queensland Opposition is without an opening batsman or a fast bowler. So we have this debate in the Senate today.
I suggest that if the situation is serious enough to disrupt the business of this Senate by debating this as an urgency motion, and if the Labor Party Opposition in Queensland, for reasons which I have stated, does not wish to debate the matter in its unicameral Parliament, it is ironical that the Labor Party should come to the upper House of this Parliament, the Senate, which if I understand its policy correctly, it is pledged to destroy. Be that as it may, I suggest that the people of Queensland at the next State election will pass judgment on this question of civil rights. It is not quite the function of this Senate to be debating a motion of this kind. However, as it is on the notice paper and we are debating it, I will proceed to deal with the arguments which have been advanced thus far in the debate by the Opposition.
Senator Keeffe had something to say. as my notes suggest, about bank robbers, hard drug pushers and murderers going scotfree. If that means anything in civil liberties, I suppose it means that these criminals are getting a greater serve of civil liberties than they deserve. I do not think it proves anything in respect of breaches of civil liberties in that State. All Senator Keeffe ‘s comments were devoted to Queensland. However he did digress for a while to take us to Darlinghurst in Sydney. He quoted the Christian names of persons involved in some sort of fracas that took place in what I take it was a cafe or similar establishment in that place. I listened carefully but could not detect any grave infringement of the civil rights of the people he mentioned. He dealt with another aspect of the matter when he referred to Mount Larcom. I am informed- and a claim was made- that people were being denied a fundamental civil right there because they were being dispossessed of their farms. I am also informed that this area is a declared mineral field and that the farmers knew this when they took up the land. The land has been allotted as leasehold and not as freehold. The farmers have been compensated on a freehold basis. The laws of Queensland, like the laws of the Commonwealth and the laws of the States of Australia, provide that in this sort of circumstance a person is to be compensated on just terms. If Senator Keeffe likes to investigate the position he will find that that is what is happening in the case of the people at Mount Larcom.
I turn to the comments of Senator Button who was fair enough to congratulate the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs (Senator Durack) on the Government’s initiative in relation to privacy. The Minister listed a number of areas in which the Government, since assuming office last December, has made significant advances in the field of civil liberties. I have already dealt with the position of the Premier of Queensland. The best that Senator Button could do was to make a sneering reference to the Christian principles of the Premier of Queensland. If that is the best the Opposition can do in relation to the Premier of Queensland, I do not think he has anything to worry about.
– We do not think he has any Christian principles.
– Order! Senator Cavanagh, that is a grave reflection on a person who claims to be a Christian.
– That is my belief.
– I refer to your statement that the Premier of Queensland is not a Christian.
- Mr President, the Opposition believes that the Premier of Queensland does not have any Christian principles.
– That is a reflection on an honourable member of a Parliament which, under standing order 4 1 8, is not allowed.
– I withdraw the remark but I think that the withdrawal is an infringement of my civil liberties.
– This debate nonetheless affords the Government an opportunity of underlining the importance of civil liberties in the community. We thank the Opposition for this opportunity. I refer to a quotation of Lord Grey of Falloden prior to World War I. He said:
The lamps are going out all over Europe; we shall not see them lit again in our lifetime.
Fortunately, the forces of good prevailed in that War and so the fundamental democratic rights of the Western democracies were preserved. We saw the rise of fascism and nazism after World War I which led to the holocaust of World War II. But again the forces of right prevailed and democracy was preserved.
I wish to quote in this debate the 4 freedoms which have been incorporated in the Charter of the United Nations and to which, I suggest, both sides of this House subscribe. It is with these fundamental freedoms that civil liberties are concerned. The first, of course, is freedom of speech and expression everywhere in the world. The second freedom is the freedom of every person to worship God in his own way everywhere in the world. The third freedom is freedom from want. The fourth freedom is freedom from fear. Those are the fundamental principles on which the liberty of the subject rests. There are others, of course. The rule of law is a principle that the Government espouses and upholds.
In a democracy people have liberty and freedom but freedom brings with it responsibility. If a person breaks the law, as has apparently happened in northern Queensland, he must bear the consequences of his act. If we are to have law and order in society, that must follow. Because a person is prosecuted legitimately for a breach of the law, that is not an interference with his civil rights. It is simply allowing the law to take its due course. The rule of law is fundamental to a free society and an assurance of justice without discrimination or partiality. Everyone, including governments and their agencies, is equally subject to the law. It is this which protects the individual against arbitrary interference. To obtain this protection, every individual, irrespective of status or financial means, should have equal access to the law. Those are the principles which this Government stands for. They are the principles which it will uphold. It is fundamental to the Government’s philosophy that it upholds them.
This debate, in my view, is a spurious move to waste the time of the Senate. Not one tittle of evidence has been put forward to show where this Government or the State Government of Queensland has departed from those principles. The Minister mentioned the record of the Labor Party in relation to the trade union movement. One has to remember the enormous economic power which is concentrated in the hands of the trade unions. They can deprive a man of his livelihood if he does not toe the trade union line. I repeat what the Minister said because I think it is of fundamental importance that the people of Australia and honourable senators on the other side of the chamber understand that the spurious attempts by the trade unions to fine people for legitimately offering themselves to an employer for work is a complete negation of the principles of democracy and civil liberty. I ask the Opposition to examine its own record in that regard before it comes into the Senate with urgency motions such as the one we have here today.
As I said, it is a spurious debate. I will conclude by mentioning also Mr ‘Lou’ Jensen, MLA, who is a member of the Labor Party in Queensland. I am reliably informed that he is to be denied his endorsement because he will not pay a levy to party funds. Also, if time permitted, I would deal with Sir Jack Egerton who has been stripped of his offices because he accepted an honour from the Queen. They are the sorts of invasions of civil liberties that we should be talking about. I wish to quote from the policy statement of the National Country Party of Australia to which I am privileged to belong, along with the Premier of Queensland. It is a code which I observe and which I am sure he also observes. The statement advocates:
Preservation of the individual’s basic human rights, through the sensitive application of the responsibility and obligation of government to:
. Live in freedom.
Enjoy freedom of speech, communication, worship, assembly and association.
Enjoy equality before the law.
Enjoy equal opportunity of educational, material and social fulfilment.
Live in a congenial environment.
I oppose the motion moved by the Opposition. I support the policies of the Government in the field of civil liberties. The Government regards civil liberties as a very important aspect of our daily lives. If we look behind the Iron Curtain in Europe and Asia we will see the people who are denied civil liberties. I am sure that all honourable senators on this side of the chamber are prepared to fight to preserve civil liberties.
Sitting suspended from 6 to 8 p.m.
– I support the motion moved by my colleague from Queensland, Senator Keeffe, which states.
That in the opinion of the Senate the following is a matter of urgency:
The erosion of civil liberties in Australia with particular reference to recent events in Queensland.
Before I outline some of my arguments in support of this motion I wish to deal with some of the statements made by previous speakers. In particular, I refer to a phrase which Senator Durack used. He said that he was amused to see this matter raised in the Senate. I do not see anything amusing about raising in the national Parliament matters regarding civil liberties. He also said that we in the Australian Labor Party have hang-ups about the Premier. This is interesting. In tonight’s Brisbane Telegraph there is an article headed ‘Federal Moves to Gag Joh’ by Ian Miller. It reads:
The Federal Liberal and National Country Parties moved to muzzle the Queensland Premier Mr Bjelke-Petersen. At a meeting in Canberra on Monday the Prime Minister, Mr Fraser, and the National Country Party Leader, Mr Anthony, expressed concern at statements by Mr BjelkePetersen attacking the Federal Government.
It is amusing at the least to say that we have hang-ups about the Premier of Queensland when articles such as that appear in the Brisbane newspapers. Senator Durack said words to the effect that it was astounding to speak about the lack of freedom of speech in Queensland. If he needs any confirmation of a lack of freedom of speech in Queensland I refer him to a book, by one of the lesser known authors in Australia but a well respected author, called The Odd One Out.
– Who wrote it?
-I wrote it. In that book there is an excellent account of what happened when I tried to avail myself of the right of freedom of speech in Queensland. I was virtually discriminated against by the Queensland Government.
– Was the book published?
– There is a copy in the Library, if you would like to read it. I refer now to some aspects of Senator Tehan ‘s arguments. He said that the Queensland Opposition had abdicated its functions in the State chamber. It would have been better if Senator Tehan had checked whether his information was correct before he said that. It is quite incorrect. I point out that there were moves by the Liberal and National parties in Queensland to have an inquiry into the Cedar Bay incident. I am not talking only of Cedar Bay tonight, but I mention it as one aspect in respect of which certain members of the Liberal and National parties in Queensland moved to have an inquiry. In the Courier Mail of 16 September there was an article which referred to a move at a joint party meeting. Specifically, it was moved by Mr Hewitt and seconded by Mr Lamont that there be an inquiry into the Cedar Bay incident. In the Courier Mail of 29 September there was an article which stated:
The Liberal Party State Executive yesterday called unanimously’ for a judicial inquiry into police administration and operations.
Not only did the Queensland Opposition not abdicate its functions in the State chamber, but certain members of the Liberal and National parties called for an inquiry into what happened in Queensland. Senator Tehan also referred to Mount Larcom. The situation is not as simple as Senator Tehan made out. I seek leave to incorporate in Hansard some documents which show beyond doubt that right is on the side of the people at Mount Larcom.
THE PRESIDENT-Is leave granted?
– With due respect, Senator Colston did not describe the documents which he wants incorporated in Hansard. There may be 100 pages for all I know. I believe the senator should describe them. All he said is that he seeks to incorporate documents.
THE PRESIDENT- Senator Colston, could you explain what you seek to have incorporated?
– He has a whole pile of rubbish.
– I have certain documents which prove beyond doubt that right is on the side of the people of Mount Larcom. They are not, to use the word of the Minister, rubbish. I do not come into this chamber with rubbish.
THE PRESIDENT- What is the extent of them?
-I show them to you, Mr President.
THE PRESIDENT- In accordance with usual practice, I shall inspect those documents later with a member of the Hansard staff, to see whether they can be incorporated.
THE PRESIDENT- Leave has not been granted yet. I shall check whether they can be incorporated. Is leave granted for me to adopt that course? There being no objection, leave is granted.
-Thank you. I point out that I have a long and personal association with many police officers in Queensland. I worked in the Queensland Police Department for many years. I can say only the strongest words about the integrity of those with whom I came in contact. I would place in that category the people who worked for me in the Department. I would say the same about certain of the senior people with whom I came in contact during the course of my duties. I would not say the same about some of them. Senator Keeffe mentioned this earlier. He said that 90 per cent are men of integrity, or words to that effect. I would not like to put a percentage on the number who are men of integrity, but I would say it is at least that.
Earlier this year there was an indication in Queensland that certain officers did take away from the people of Queensland the civil liberties that the people would expect. The circumstances which followed the incident to which I refer show that civil liberties are being whittled away in Queensland. I refer to a student march earlier this year. Students from the University of Queensland were marching from the University about four or five kilometres to the City Square in Brisbane. It was a peaceful march until they came to the William Jolly Bridge. At the William Jolly Bridge there was an assault- I can use no other word- on one of the women students. I did not see it because I was not in Brisbane at the time. I was in Canberra. I saw a film of it that evening on television. I was astounded that this could happen. I subsequently saw the film in slow motion. Apparently one of the superintendents who was looking after the march suddenly decided that he had to go elsewhere because other students were marching from the Queensland Institute of Technology. An inspector took over. When he did, one of the students was assaulted.
It is not the assault that one should mention in detail; it is what happened later. The Police Commissioner almost immediately indicated that there would probably be a police inquiry. The Premier of Queensland said that there would not be an inquiry. In the ruckus that followed the Minister for Police was given a new portfolio. No inquiry was held because the Premier said: ‘We will not hold an inquiry. The students were marching illegally’. My main point is that the Police Commissioner seemed to be under political control. This is a dangerous situation in any democracy. Police commissioners should have certain freedoms. They should have the freedom to be able to act without political control. I can well recall what happened in South Australia before I became associated with the Police Department. The Police Commissioner there actually defied an order from the Premier of that State. He and the Premier came to an amicable agreement about it. What has happened in Queensland is that the Premier has exercised definite political control over the Police Commissioner. The most recent incident was with regard to Cedar Bay. I am speaking specifically of Cedar Bay in Queensland now.
I mentioned at another time how certain prosecutions came out of events at Cedar Bay. Strangely enough, these prosecutions went before a court that did not have the authority to try the people charged. They were tried and found guilty. Then it was necessary for the AttorneyGeneral in that State to nullify the convictions. It is not necessarily what happened at Cedar Bay that is of great importance, although what happened certainly is of greatest importance. For example, some of what is alleged would be very important in any country. Miss Janice Lambert, one of the people who subsequently made a complaint to the police, said:
On 29 August 1976 certain baby clothes belonging to my young infant were wilfully burnt by an unknown police officer.
Michael Ballister, who made another complaint, said in part:
On that day my house and various items in it were destroyed by fire started by unknown police officers who had entered the Cedar Bay area earlier that morning.
These aspects are important. What is also of importance is that no inquiry was to be held until complaints were made, and then an inquiry was made under protest through the Premier. The Premier himself said that he had authorised the inquiry that the Police Commissioner would hold. This led the Council for Civil Liberties in Queensland to make a statement that it was unfortunate that the Premier of Queensland had approved the investigation of certain complaints when under the Police Act it was not really the prerogative of the Premier to do so but the prerogative of the Police Commissioner. It is rather unfortunate that in Queensland when these situations occur personal abuse is put on to people who dissent. I would like to outline a couple of the things that Mr Bjelke-Petersen said about people who have dissented from what he has been advocating. One Press article which quoted Mr Bjelke-Petersen on this item said:
The Queensland Opposition Leader Mr Burns is spearheading an attack on the police. As usual when police act to uphold the law, the cry comes from the Opposition, “ police brutality “, ‘ he said.
The same names keep cropping up- Dr Paul Wilson, the Reverend Noel Preston, the Council for Civil Liberties- and the ALP’, he said.
Dr Paul Wilson is a well respected academic at the University of Queensland. One who knows him would know that he would not be one of the people called irresponsible radicals; yet this is the picture that is painted of him by the Premier of Queensland. Those who know me and who know Paul Wilson would know that he and I have had differences of opinion from time to time, but I will uphold his integrity and the people of Queensland will too. The Reverend Noel Preston has a doctorate of divinity. It is unfortunate that personal abuse is put on him as well. I support the motion that has been moved by Senator Keeffe and suggest that the Senate agree with it.
-The forms of the Senate allow any member of the Senate to state to it that something is a matter of urgency. Earlier today the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Senator Keeffe) claimed that in the opinion of the Senate something was a matter of urgency. Mr President, I suggest to you that at no stage has it been shown to us why we, the Senate, ought to consider this as a matter of urgency and something with which the Senate ought to be concerned. The Opposition’s motion is a thinly veiled attack on the Queensland Government. Those who give ought to be able to take.
It is has been an extraordinary debate, and I suggest that the speech by Senator Colston was an extraordinary speech. We have heard verbatim a repeat of the things that were told to us during the adjournment debate last night. Mr President, I remind you and members of the Senate of something that happened during the adjournment debate last night. As I recall it, Senator Colston said that he wished to raise the issue of Cedar Bay because he wished to bring to the attention of the Senate certain things which he alleged were facts in relation to that issue. It apparently was not enough that they were raised last night and alleged to be fact. Today the Senate has been obliged to involve itself for something up to 3 hours with a rehashing of that situation.
– Why did the Minister not answer last night?
– I suggest that Senator Melzer contains herself. I have a few things to say and it is my turn to speak. If Senator Melzer would like a turn she should get the call. Many allegations have been made and some of them have been presented as statements of fact, especially those presented by Senator Colston. I would like to cast a light on some of the facts. Since we are talking about Queensland and since I come from Queensland, I would like to make some comment on the conduct of affairs in Queensland in relation to civil liberties, not just from the point of view of the Government but also from the point of view of the Opposition’s behaviour.
Some queries have been raised in this debate in relation to the activities of the Navy at Cedar Bay. Some questions have apparently been asked and it is claimed that they have not been answered. When I heard that the Australian Navy, or at least the Australian Government, had been involved in some capacity in the drug raid at Cedar Bay it aroused my curiosity. It was not aroused just from the point of view of the Government’s involvement, because the matter of drug trafficking is a matter of concern to Commonwealth governments. So it was not surprising that Commonwealth officers were there. Their actual role was of course a matter of some curiosity in the light of the allegations which flowed from the incident.
– What drug trafficking are you talking about?
– As I understand it, the Commonwealth officers or agencies that were involved are in no way implicated in the allegations that have been made in relation to the Queensland Police Force. I point out to Senator Button that there has been no suggestion of impropriety or improper conduct on behalf of Commonwealth officers in the Cedar Bay incident. So any attempt to spread a little mud over the Commonwealth Government apparently on that point has no foundation, because if there was any room for the allegation it would have been made in the course of this debate, judging from what we have listened to so far.
Senator Colston last night and again this evening made a glancing reference to the fact that the Police Commissioner in Queensland has instituted an inquiry into allegations made against his force. Mr Whitrod has made a public statement on the inquiry which I cannot give verbatim. However I can state with some confidence that when allegations of misconduct are made against the police force it is competent for the Queensland Police Force to initiate an investigation of those allegations, if they are presented in some decent form which enables an investigation, and not as a version which has been given by journalists via the columns of the newspapers.
It is a fact that once the allegations were put into writing in the form of statements, the Queensland Police Force dispatched Chief Superintendent Becker, who is the head of the Crime Intelligence Unit in Queensland, to Cairns to investigate those allegations. Chief Superintendent Becker is a man against whom nobody could say anything, privately or publicly. The Crime Intelligence Unit is that section of the Queensland Police Force which concerns itself with allegations about the conduct of the members of the police force, whether they be allegations of over-exuberance or of corruption. Chief Superintendent Becker, in his conduct in charge of that section of the police force, has never met criticism on that score. That ought to be made clear. An investigation is underway and, as was brought to the attention of the Senate earlier in this debate, there are some difficulties from the point of view of Parliamentary debates because the matter is sub judice.
I feel constrained to point out that there are 2 sides to what is happening politically in Queensland. In the course of this debate, and well before it, much criticism has been made of the conduct of the coalition Government in Queensland in relation to this particular incident. It is a pathetic reflection on the Australian Labor Party that its members bring to the Senate today, under the guise of a motion of urgency and a matter which ought to concern the Senate, issues which are very clearly within the ambit and responsibility of the Queensland State Parliament. It is a sad reflection on the Labor Opposition in Queensland that it cannot gather its forces, such as they are, in the Parliament to make the case itself.
In today’s Courier Mail there is a story to which I ought to refer because it casts some light on the attitude of the parliamentary members of the Queensland Division of the Australian Labor Party and their competence to carry out their duties as Her Majesty’s Opposition in that State on an issue which it is claimed is of such crucial importance that it has tied up the Federal Parliament now for 3 hours. I refer, of course, to the resignation of the State Secretary of the Australian Labor Party in Queensland, Mr Bart Lourigan, who is also the Federal Vice-President of the Australian Labor Party, elected to that position in the place of the late- and, in Labor Party terms, unlamented- Party Vice-President Sir John Egerton. Mr Lourigan apparently has been under some pressure within the Party in Queensland because he has tried to initiate some reform into that Party.
- Mr President, I rise to a point of order and bring to your attention standing order 203.
– I cannot uphold the point of order under standing order 203 in this debate. Senator Martin, please continue.
-Thank you, Mr President. I thought I had made it clear that we were debating whether this was a matter or urgency to the Senate. I am suggesting that it is a subject which, certainly in the terms in which it has been presented in argument to us today, is not the concern of the Senate. I am saying that the Opposition in the Queensland Parliament- which is, of course, the Australian Labor Party- has abdicated its responsibilities in that State. I was in the process of making the point that apparently at the moment the Australian Labor Party in Queensland is totally consumed by its organisational difficulties. I referred to an article in the Courier Mail and I would like to quote the last 2 sentences because they are illuminating in terms of the present debate. It says:
At the basis of the Lourigan dispute was a general feeling in the party that the State ALP needed a shake-up following recent dismal election performances. There were suggestions last night-
- Mr President-
– Order! Senator Martin has the call.
– I rise to a point of order.
– Let me finish the quote. If Senator Colston is able to contain himself he may then understand what I am talking about.
- Mr President, I am sorry, but the last time I drew your attention to the wrong standing order.
-Therefore there is no point of order involved.
– I draw your attention this time to standing order 42 1 .
– It is irrelevant. Senator Martin, please continue.
– Thank you, Mr President. I would like to finish the quote. It continues:
There were suggestions last night that he might be offered ALP endorsement for a State seat at the next election.
That is a fair indication of the Labor Party’s contempt for the parliamentary system, particularly in Queensland. It is an act of political bankruptcy, I suggest, for the Queensland Central Executive of the Australian Labor Party to express lack of confidence in one of its organisational members and to suggest that the fit place for him is the State Parliament where this debate ought to be conducted. It is wrong indeed, and of no comfort at all for the people of Queensland who might like a reasonable alternative to the present State Government, that apparently they will be presented with a man in whom the people of Queensland surely could feel only limited confidence since his own organisation clearly has no confidence in him at all in the capacity in which he has recently held office. There are a few members in those representatives of the ALP in the State Parliament who are capable but it is clear that they are completely demoralised. Those who have ability and who could be carrying out this task instead of wasting the time of the Senate tonight, are completely demoralised by the activities of their own Party in that State.
Because some of my time has been wasted on points of order I would like to take a little of the time that is left to refer to only one particular point. Under our Constitution there are certain responsibilities for Commonwealth and State governments. The areas of civil liberties legislation are areas in which one has to hasten slowly. There are civil liberties areas which clearly are the total responsibility of State governments. There are many areas in which this Government has announced that it is moving, in discussions with State governments, to enact complementary legislation so that civil liberties in Australia can be protected. It is necessary that that progress be slow because of the procedures that must be taken. This debate is delaying progress on legislation on civil liberties issues which are presently before the Senate. I refer, of course, to the Ombudsman Bill.
Senator Button did some rather grand scale back-patting in a speech earlier today on the subject of progress of the Australian Labor Party in government on the issue of civil liberties. I remind Senator Button that while his Government introduced the Ombudsman Bill, which concerns an issue of civil liberties, the Bill was not allowed to be debated. Senator Missen will support me that on one day he and I particularly wanted to debate this piece of legislation and we actually thought that we would get the call. On that day the Bill was No. 4 on the notice paper, but time expired before the Bill came on for debate. The next day it was back down to No. 14, and so we did not debate that piece of legislation in the life of the previous Parliament. It is again on the notice paper and it is a matter of some concern to Government supporters that we will be spending so much of the Senate’s time in general debate that the things that ought to be said properly in this place on legislation such as that- on the direct area of civil liberties responsibility of the Commonwealth Government- run the risk of not being debated properly because so much of our time is wasted doing the job of the Queensland division of the Australian Labor Party. I suggest that if the Opposition were sincere in its concern about civil liberties it might do something to hasten the processes in this place to enable us to debate those issues which are our concern. I recommend to the Senate and to fairminded Australians that they reject the spurious grounds on which this co-called motion of urgency has been brought to the Senate today.
– As I am, I understand, the last speaker in this debate from the Opposition side, I will summarise the reasons for launching this urgency debate today. I hope I will have time to answer some of the points that have been made by Government senators. Let me say initially that this debate is not concerned with drugs and drug pushers. I believe that all members of this Parliament would support any moves to enforce the proper processes of law and to prevent any abuses of the law relating to drugs and similar matters. What we are talking about is the very grave danger to the rights of individuals in those cases where the power of authority may be abused. I suggest to Senator Martin that other people, apart from members of the Labor Party, are concerned with the events which have formed the subject matter of this debate. I shall in a moment quote from documents which indicate that that is so.
One of the growing trends in this country at the present time is an increasing intolerance in some sections of the community towards certain groups, especially minority groups, and those who appear to be outside the main stream of public thinking. All of us, irrespective of which political party we belong to and especially when we are in a position to exercise power, must be careful to ensure that that intolerance is not allowed to warp our judgment and our sense of fairness and, above all, to permit any abuses or excesses in the name of law enforcement. I do not believe that this debate is a waste of time. During the debate emphasis has been placed on the sort of events that apparently occurred recently at Cedar Bay. It may be said- in fact, it was said by
– that that is not sufficient ground on which to launch a general debate on civil liberties. That argument was supported by Senator Martin. Personally I agree that the present Federal Government could not as yet be fairly accused of exercising any overt power in matters relating to civil liberties. If it has, I personally am not aware of it having done so.
That is not the issue in the debate, and no honourable senator on this side of the chamber has suggested that the Federal Government has been guilty in this case of any breaches of civil rights. But whenever or wherever an authority, which means government, takes actions which violate or appear to violate the legal rights of individuals, then that authority must be exposed, and it must be exposed in every Parliament of the nation. It is for that reason that the Cedar Bay incident becomes important- not just because it affects the individuals involved but because if it remains unchallenged then we can expect it to happen again.
I want to draw the attention of the Senate to the fact that the Labor Party, as I said earlier, is not the only organisation concerned about the general drift of these things. In an interview on the radio program P.M. on 28 September of this year the Anglican Archbishop of Brisbane, the Most Reverend Felix Arnott made a very telling point. He said:
He is talking about the general trend in the community- and one ‘s got to deal with it and I think this is a tragic thing. I think also it’s partially that insidiously somehow the evil of totalitarianism, whether the right or the left, has insinuated itself into our society.
He was then asked:
Well do you think we are heading towards George Orwell ‘s 1984 more or less on time?
The Archbishop replied:
I sometimes fear so. You know one almost ridiculed it when the book was published but sometimes as one walks round the world today one realises that- and rather trembles- to think what might happen.
If it is the case in this country that there are instances of what the Archbishop is talking about then we as parliamentarians have a duty and an obligation to raise those matters in the Parliament. In the Courier-Mail of the 15 th of this month we find the Catholic Research Group speaking out in support of calls for an inquiry into the Cedar Bay affair. The group said that it was concerned that some groups might not have been given protection under the law to which all are entitled. So do not let us believe that this is a matter restricted purely to the Parliament; it certainly is not simply restricted to the Labor Party.
We in the Opposition do not oppose proper action being taken by any government to stop trafficking in drugs. The Cedar Bay incident was apparently an action taken jointly by the Commonwealth Government and the Queensland Government. I believe- this matter was raised by Senator Martin- that the involvement of the Federal Government was minimal. I think that is a fair statement. I would say also that the Federal authorities acted in good faith, believing that the sole purpose of the exercise was to apprehend law breakers. The Minister for Veterans’ Affairs (Senator Durack), who is in charge of the debate and whom I commend for a temperate contribution to the debate, said that the Queensland police sought the cooperation of the Commonwealth, namely the Department of Defence and the Bureau of Customs, which I understand now forms part of the Department of Business and Consumer Affairs; and certain Commonwealth facilities were provided. The only point of criticism I make in that regard is that some weeks ago the Government was asked whether or not it had provided those facilities. The Minister has confirmed that only today. Senator Durack took the view that because no breach of Commonwealth law was involved the matter should not have been raised in the national Parliament. But the Federal Government was involved- maybe unwittinglyand it has caused grave concern to many people in Australia.
It is difficult to believe that the Queensland authorities acted in good faith. We know that the Queensland Premier has an aversion to people who have views different from those which he holds. He describes them by all sorts of nameshippies, dole bludgers, layabouts and all these sorts of things. It is the right of that particular group of people to live in the manner in which they see fit. I confess that it would not particularly appeal to me and it probably would not appeal to most members of the Parliament. But it has provided an opportunity to demonstrate just how heavy handed the Queensland Premier can be with people with whom he does not agree. Whether the excesses which presumably took place, such as the destruction of personal property, were excesses on the part of the police is not the issue. The real issue is that prima facie evidence exists for a proper inquiry o be held. That also is the view of a significant section of the Queensland branch of the Liberal Party- details in that regard were given earlier in the debateincluding, I might add, the Young Liberals, many of whom had the courage to speak out in support of a government inquiry.
Senator Button made reference to the alleged integrity of the Queensland Premier who loves to give the impression to all Queenslanders that he is a fine, upstanding Australian who defends the rights of every individual and who says that everyone in his part of the country has equal rights under the law. Senator Button cited some examples that I believe would call that integrity into question. If he is a man of such integrity why does he continue to govern under an electoral dictatorship in which his Party receives fewer votes than the Labor Party but holds VA times as many seats as the Labor Party? In fact, his Party gets fewer votes than the Liberal Party but holds more seats in the Queensland Parliament than does the Liberal Party. Senator Martin made reference to the number of Labor Party members in the Queensland Parliament. She used the words ‘such as they are’. Certainly they are small in number, but the support they receive from the community is not small.
Why has the popularity of the Queensland Premier fallen to a mere 34 per cent? It strongly suggests to me that the overwhelming majority of Queenslanders reject this man. They do not see him as a man of integrity. In fact, they are prisoners of an electoral system which he has imposed on them. In other words, Labor and Liberal voters in Queensland are lesser persons and have fewer rights than those people who support the National Party. Fortunately- I say fortunately’ deliberately- that was evidenced in the by-election held last Saturday in which the National Party candidate was soundly beaten. I believe that is an indication of a move in Queensland away from the intolerant attitudes of the present Queensland Government. We even find the Queensland Premier accusing Liberals of supporting drug pushers, mind you, and of supporting the communists. The tragedy is that he knows that by such actions and statements he appeals to a minority section in Queensland that shares his views and, as I have indicated by the figures I have cited, fortunately it is a small minority at that. This one example illustrates the danger of a trend which must be resisted in this country, and as members of the national Parliament we have every right to raise it and to debate it.
Senator Durack differed with that view and said that it was not a matter for the Commonwealth Government to take action on, yet during the course of his speech he referred to the fact that the Federal Attorney-General has approached the Australian Council of Trade
Unions in order to protect the civil rights of unionists who allegedly were subject to fines by their unions over the Medibank strike. If the Government claims to uphold the rule of law all governments must be subject to the law themselves in the sense that their Acts are controlled by specific provisions of law. If in fact the Government is in a position to move with the ACTU in protecting the rights of unionists- I think it should do that- presumably it also has the right to make overtures to the Queensland Government to ensure that the rights of individuals in Queensland are similarly protected. There is no general right of entry into a person ‘s home, yet we saw in the photographs of what happened at Cedar Bay that obviously property was destroyed. I was very surprised and disappointed to see that amongst some of the books which had been burned there was a damaged copy of the Bible that these ‘bad’ people were reading. I would have thought that is one publication that the Premier of Queensland would have made sure was not interfered with by the law.
The right to search for and to seize goods may be exercised only where it is permitted by the law. Can honourable senators imagine a situation in which this sort of thing had been done in St Lucia, Darling Point, Toorak, Sandy Bay or Glenelg? If this sort of thing had been done in one of those suburbs there would have been a riot, but for some reason or another this is accepted procedure because these people are different from the rest of us, they live in this isolated community and presumably their values are not to be recognised. Why is it that we on the Opposition side are concerned about this? We are concerned because we believe that there is evidence to suggest that something has been done in this country which takes away the rights of those individuals who are involved. It is for that reason that we have raised this matter in the Parliament and should this sort of thing happen again we do not intend to let these things pass. We will always raise them when we consider that a State Government of any political colour has infringed the rights of the individuals who live within the State borders. I know there is a grey area between the rights of the States and the rights of the Commonwealth in these matters, but when these things occur that should not preclude debate in this Parliament and exposure of what appears to be an infringement of the rights of ordinary Australians.
– I rise as the last Government speaker on this motion of urgency following a thoughtful contribution by the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate (Senator Wriedt). That contribution, however, demonstrated quite clearly why honourable senators on the Government side are not able to vote in favour of this motion of urgency because the speech by Senator Wriedt made it quite clear that he was not complaining about the conduct of the Commonwealth Government in any way. He made a number of statements which were, to his credit, a clear indication that the Opposition was not suggesting that there had been excesses by the Commonwealth Government. He made it quite clear that the present Government could not be said to have exercised power in violation of civil rights. He also made it quite clear that in his view as far as he knew the Federal authorities involved in the Cedar Bay incident had acted in good faith. Yet we have before us a motion of urgency which refers generally to the erosion of civil liberties in Australia, and it goes on to make particular reference to the State of Queensland.
In the 10 months or so that this Government has been in power there has in fact been a series of actions by the Government which has led to an extension of civil liberties in Australia- an enforcing of civil liberties- and that of course is what one would expect from a government which is based on a philosophy of looking after the individual. We constantly express our belief in the individual and it would be quite wrong if we did not by our legislation and by our administrative acts do everything we could to buttress the freedom of the individual.
I would like in the brief time available to me in this debate to touch on some of the contributions that have already been made on individual freedom in Australia. I would like to refer also to the speech made by Senator Button who I think at least made some attempt to deal with some of the issues that have concerned this Senate in the past, but I was extremely puzzled by some of his statements. For example, he tried to say: ‘Well, most of what has been done can be credited to the previous Government’. He was accusing the Liberal Party and the National Country Party. He said that we dragged our feet when we were in opposition and delayed what the previous Government tried to achieve. I think it is far too easy to forget, to gloss over and to confuse just what the then Opposition did when it had the numbers in this place and was able to block legislation when the then Government did bring forward legislation in the field of civil liberties. I remind the Senate that when the previous Government introduced the Administrative Appeals Tribunal legislation which established the Administrative Appeals Tribunal it gave that Tribunal no jurisdiction. It was only when the Opposition brought forward amendments- and the amendments were put forward by the late Senator Greenwood- that jurisdiction actually to hear complaints was given to that Tribunal. Honourable senators should recall, and the public of Australia should recall, that what the then Government offered was a toothless tiger- a tribunal with no jurisdiction, and it was the Liberal-Country Party Opposition that gave it jurisdiction.
Reference was made by Opposition speakers to the Family Law Bill as being a measure of the previous Government. How quickly Opposition supporters gloss over the fact that that was a non-Party measure on which there was extensive non-partisan support for the Bill. It was not dealt with as a Government measure. Honourable senators should remember and should tell the public when it is mentioned in debates like this that that Bill resulted largely from the bipartisan work of a Senate committee.
I now refer to the Racial Discrimination Bill. I remind the Senate of the Opposition’s attitude to that Bill. It was supported by the Opposition. Certainly it was amended, but I recall that Senator Walsh, one of the more virulent critics of the then Opposition, now the Government, made it quite clear in his speech- in fact he quite embarrassed me because it was just before I was to speak- that I would be supporting the Bill. Of course I was supporting the Bill because the Opposition was supporting the Bill. The Racial Discrimination Bill was passed with Opposition support although we did introduce some amendments which I believe improved it.
Where did we drag our feet? Was it in the human rights legislation? I have heard Labor campaigners in Western Australia attack Liberal-Country Party senators for blocking the human rights Bill. I remind the Senate that the legislation was never brought forward by the then Government. So I ask honourable senators opposite to produce an example of where the Opposition did anything to hold back legislation which was in favour of civil liberties. In fact, the legislation which was brought forward by the previous Government was improved by the then Opposition. It was made more effective, and I believe that the record speaks for itself.
In respect of the achievements of the Government which I support- the Liberal-Country Party Government- a good number of achievements have already been mentioned by other honourable senators. I should like to remind the
Senate of some of those achievements. I refer firstly to the field of legal aid. It is a field in which we are continually being told that we are not sincere and we are dismantling legal aid and all the rest, yet one never hears from the Opposition any concession or any agreement that in most of the States of Australia legal aid under the Labor Government, although greatly expanded, became considerably confused. There was a multiplicity of agencies dealing with legal aid. We had a Federal office, State offices and professional organisations administering legal aid. The classic problem arises that people who are seeking social welfare and seeking assistance really do not know where they should go. A series of services are being offered and there is great confusion and a great deal of administrative waste and overlap.
What has this Government done? It has continued to fund existing legal aid organisations. In fact, it has increased funding by 25 per cent but the critical action we have taken is to enter into close negotiations with the States to endeavour to establish a single legal aid organisation in each State which will be able to deal with all of the problems that individuals have which affect their civil liberties. Therefore, we are moving towards a far more sensible system of legal aid and one which will more effectively deliver aid to those who need it. It is an area in which we have increased expenditure but, more importantly, we have moved towards a more sensible administration which will do away with the problems I have already mentioned.
We have done precisely what we undertook to do before the general election in the field of privacy. We have referred that question to the Law Reform Commission- a body which was referred to with approval by Senator Button in his speech. I think that was one area in which Senator Button complimented the Government for what it had done. It is an area which is important to the civil liberties of Australians. It is a complex area and a difficult area. Who in this Senate can say that that was not the appropriate way to get a report on the basis of which a government could then act?
We have had a very vexed problem in Australia with respect to the law of defamation. That is a matter which affects the civil liberties and perhaps, ultimately, the political liberties of Australians. What has happened there? Again, we have taken a constructive step and asked the Law Reform Commission to report to the Parliament on the question of defamation. If we can legislate for improvement in that area I think we will probably take the most important steps that can be taken to increase freedom in Australia.
We have carried on the proposal which I concede was originally put forward in this Parliament by the previous Government for the establishment of an ombudsman. We have legislation before the Parliament now to establish an ombudsman. There will be an ombudsman for Federal matters and deputy ombudsman for the Australian Capital Territory and for the Northern Territory to deal with State-type matters in those Territories. Does the Opposition complain about our action in that regard? That legislation is to come forward and I am sure it will receive the unanimous approval of this Senate.
We have proceeded to establish the Administrative Appeals Tribunal. Personnel have been appointed to that Tribunal and a man of great legal eminence has been appointed as its Chairman. Once again, we have the clearest possible demonstration that this Government is serious about advancing the individual freedom and the rights of Australians. We have picked up the very difficult question of freedom of information. The interdepartmental committee has been reestablished and we are hoping that we will be able to bring forward freedom of information legislation. We have actually taken measures to remove the stigma of illegitimacy. That is a practical step taken by this Government on its own initiative. I regard that as a matter which enhances the civil liberties of Australians. We have picked up the vexed and contentious issue of homosexual law reform. It is scarcely the action of a conservative government not concerned with the civil liberties of Australians when, in its first year of government, it introduced an ordinance into the territories for which it is responsible to decriminalise homosexual acts between consenting and unrelated adults in private. It is a worthwhile reform and a positive step in advancing civil liberties taken by this Government.
This Government has taken positive steps to examine the question of sexual discrimination. Once again, honourable senators opposite might ask why we have not done more than simply take steps. I simply say again: It is a difficult area as is the area of human rights. The Labor AttorneyGeneral introduced 3 different Bills dealing with human rights and was still not able to produce a Bill that he was prepared to proceed with in this Parliament. When I discussed the question of a sex discrimination Bill with the Commissioner for Community Relations, Mr Grassby- a Labor appointee and a man who I would have thought had general support on the other side of the chamber- he told me that he was extremely doubtful that at this stage we should be proceeding in that field because of the very great difficulties which are involved. I say that there are many areas to which this Government can point with considerable pride where it can show that it is steadily advancing the civil liberties of people around Australia. I think that the Opposition in bringing forward a motion which Senator Wriedt made clear is in fact narrowly based on particular events in one particular State in Australia, has tried to tar this Government with a brush in a way in which it simply does not deserve. If I am proud of anything about this Government, I am proud of the way that it has done so much in so short a time to look after the individual freedom of Australians. As I am the last speaker on the list, I move:
That the question be now put.
Question put. The Senate divided. (The President- Senator the Hon. Condor Laucke)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Original question put
That the motion (Senator Keeffe’s) be agreed to.
The Senate divided. (The President-Senator the Hon. Condor Laucke)
Question so resolved in the negative.
– For the information of honourable senators I present the annual report of the Department of Overseas Trade for the year ended 30 June 1976.
– For the information of honourable senators I present the election statistics for each State showing the voting within each subdivision in relation to the Senate election in 1975 and the general election of members of the House of Representatives in 1975. Each honourable senator will receive a copy of the appropriate State volume. I draw the attention of honourable senators to the fact that the tables of statistics have been redesigned and additional information has been provided. Due to the limited number available, reference copies of the full set of these papers have been placed in the Senate Records Office and the Parliamentary Library.
– For the information of honourable senators I present the report of the committee appointed to consider the transfer arrangements involved in the new superannuation scheme for Commonwealth Government employees which came into operation on 1 July 1976.
– I ask for leave to make a statement on behalf of my colleague, the Minister for Defence (Mr Killen), concerning the establishment of a Defence Force Academy.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– I wish to announce the Government’s decision in principle to establish a Defence Force Academy to provide education at university level in a military environment for selected members of the 3 Services. Such an Academy was first envisaged under a previous coalition Government and the concept was endorsed by the Labor Government in 1974. At present some 540 cadets are undertaking degree studies in Service colleges which are affiliated with the Universities of Melbourne and New South Wales, or as full time students of those universities, or the University of Sydney. The agreement, which is about to expire, made by the Government with the University of New South Wales in respect of the Faculty of Military Studies at the Royal Military College at Duntroon, provides that an autonomous degreegranting institution will replace the College in its present form, and will employ its staff under conditions not less favourable than those applicable with the University.
The Academy has two basic objectives; to provide a sound education as a foundation for further professional development and to provide that education in a military environment appropriate to the 3 Services. This can be done in one institution because they are 3 arms of the one defence force. The merging of 3 small colleges now situated at Jervis Bay, Duntroon and Point Cook into one larger institution will have the concurrent advantage of offering more attraction to academic staff of high quality.
The Academy is due to be opened in 1 982. It is required as soon as possible because of the imminent expiry of the present agreement with the University of New South Wales and because, while some 16 per cent of Service officers receive a university level education now, the Chiefs of Staff require a substantially enlarged proportion of officers to hold degrees in the future. Leaders in the profession of arms must be more than leaders of men. They must be educated men, equipped to cope with increasing complexities and changes in technology, industry and in society. Progressively it will be possible to make more refined estimates of the cost of the Academy. Course content, which affects costs, is being studied by academic and military advisers. Following this the Minister will propose next year legislation to lay down principles of administration that will ensure both its academic autonomy and scholarship, and retention of the required military environment. The Academy will offer undergraduate courses in arts, science and engineering for cadets and officers of the 3 Services and for some students from overseas. It should attract entrants and, no less important, academic staff of high quality because there will be opportunities for honours courses, research and for studies leading to higher degrees. The Academy will aspire to academic excellence.
The Academy will in the first place be constructed to provide for a total full time student population of about 1200, and the design will allow for expansion. The approximate capital cost of building and equipping it has been estimated at $45m at present prices. This expenditure would mostly be spread over the period from 1978-79 to 1984-85. Planning of the Academy is being undertaken by a development council under the chairmanship of Sir Henry Basten, who was Vice-Chancellor of the University of Adelaide from 1958 to 1967 and Chairman of the Universities Commission from 1968 to 1971. The Minister will be arranging for discussions with the Universities of Melbourne and New South Wales at an early date concerning the transition to the new institution and the interests of the teaching staff engaged in the colleges. The Universities and the University of Sydney are playing a most helpful role in planning for the development of the new project.
The establishment of the Academy on a new site adjacent to the Royal Military College at Duntroon in the Australian Capital Territory will enable it to be built as a new institution with purpose-designed buildings, while sharing some of the College’s facilities. The College will be devoted to other Army officer training purposes. Facilities at Point Cook now occupied by the Royal Australian Air Force Academy will meet a need for other RAAF educational and training purposes. Other forms of officer training and education for the Navy will continue to be provided at Jervis Bay.
– by leave- I move:
I seek leave to continue my remarks.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
– by leave- I would like to give the Senate details of the involvement of the Department of Science in the total solar eclipse which will be seen throughout southern Australia during the afternoon of 23 October 1976. The path of totality, being approximately 160 kilometres wide, will pass over the southern tip of South Australia, southern Victoria and the southern tip of New South Wales, with the northern limit passing through Cape Jaffe (South Australia), Naracoorte (South Australia), Bendigo (Victoria) and Cooma (New South Wales). The front of the shadow will move across the earth at 8000 kilometres an hour, taking under 4 hours to pass from a sunrise over Africa to a sunset over New Zealand. Within the above limits an observer can expect to see the total eclipse, but outside those limits the magnitude of the eclipse will diminish as one travels further north or south.
In its passage over Australia, no place will be affected by the totality shadow for more than 3 minutes. Since the shadow cast by the moon is slanting upwards towards the north, the circumstances of the eclipse are different at different altitudes so that, for instance, on ground level in Canberra the eclipse is 97 per cent total, whereas 300 kilometres above Canberra, in the ionosphere, it is 100 per cent total. The effect of the eclipse is to induce a sunset, followed by a sunrise within a short space of time, thus producing unique conditions for scientific experimentation on the ionosphere and in radio-astronomy.
The ionosphere comprises electrified layers of atmosphere between 70 kilometres and 400 kilometres above the earth’s surface. These layers reflect and absorb radio waves and are maintained in an ionised condition largely by the sun’s ultra-violet radiation on atmospheric chemicals. During a total eclipse, the sun’s radiation is switched off and then on again with unsual suddenness, and because the exact time of these changes is known, it enables a study of the effect of the eclipse on each solar area of the ionosphere. Valuable information about the chemical constituency and formation of the ionosphere can thus be deduced.
The experiments being conducted also help us to build up a more detailed model of the upper atmosphere. One such method employed is the taking of soundings from the ionosphere 3 times a minute during the eclipse, instead of the normal practice of taking soundings once every 1 5 minutes. Additional sites will also be established from which to take these soundings. The National Measurement Laboratory will attempt to obtain white-light photographs of the solar corona from a site near Mt Gambier. The observations will provide additional information for United States scientists at the same site, and broaden our understanding of the corona. A collaborative experiment with the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics is being conducted, which is designed to monitor the ionosphere at different but conjugate ends of the earth’s magnetic field.
During the eclipse, the ionosphere will draw in electrons along the field lines from the ionosphere over the Kamchatka region of the U.S.S.R., which will be monitored at that place. The Antarctic Division will also be conducting experiments, one of which involves use of an instrument called a riometer It measures changes in the electron content of the lower ionosphere, by monitoring the degree to which radio waves from outer space are absorbed as they pass through the region. The CSIRO Division of Radio Physics will be conducting a millimetre wavelength experiment at Stawell in Victoria and readings of metre wavelength solar flux will also be made.
Extensive publicity has been given to the eclipse by the media, both as to its cause and as to the dangers of looking directly at the sun. In Victoria, the State Government established and funded a Solar Eclipse Committee, which prepared a publication setting out the details of the event, and the hazards. The Australian Broadcasting Commission and all commercial television channels are showing the eclipse live through special outside broadcast cameras, and some channels have a link-up of cameras along the eclipse path. This hopefully will deter children from looking directly at the eclipse, and will enable people outside the path of the total eclipse to see its full effects. The last eclipse in
Australia occurred in Western Australia in June 1974 and there will not be another total eclipse until the end of this century.
– by leave- I take this opportunity to comment on the subject of the solar eclipse which is to occur on Saturday. In my short time as a member of the Senate, I do not think there is any single subject which has had such an airing from any single person as the solar eclipse has had from the Minister for Science (Senator Webster).
– I do it to save the sight of some people. That is the main reason for it.
-At one stage I thought that the Minister was actually going to claim for the Government credit for putting on the solar eclipse. Ministerial statements are very useful in the Parliament. They are useful for informing members of Parliament of the Government’s policies. They are useful for informing us of the activities of the various departments. They are useful also, I suggest, for getting as much publicity as possible for some Ministers. This ministerial statement gives us as much information, I suppose, as have all the other various statements that have been delivered by Senator Webster. He says that he made the statement to save the sight of some people. I notice that it is only in the last paragraph of the statement that he has mentioned the fact that sight may be endangered. I agree with the Minister that it is very important that people in the community do not look at the eclipse and therefore do not have their sight endangered. Honourable senators have also heard some other useful information in this statement. For instance, if we go 300 kilometres up into the ionisphere, we will see a 100 per cent eclipse. That is a fascinating piece of information.
– We saw one on 13 December last.
-I advise Senator Withers not to go there even if he is armed with lychees or European carp or all the other things we hear about in this place from Senator Withers.
– Or the rats in Lake Pedder Valley.
-The next point I wish to make will, I am sure, concern Senator Wright. In this statement we have evidence of a great change of attitude by Senator Webster, a change of attitude which, I believe, may get him into trouble with his fellow Party members. A situation recently arose in which the Premier of Queensland, Mr Bjelke-Petersen- a member, I believe, of the same political party as Senator Webster- refused to allow cotton scientists to go to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, which is the world ‘s biggest producer of cotton, to study cotton production. Mr Bjelke-Petersen did so because he was sure that the Queensland scientists could not learn anything there and also that they might be corrupted by the people in the U.S.S.R. who are known largely as communists. Every time I have heard Senator Webster mention the words ‘communist’ or ‘Russia’ in this place, it has been associated with abuse. He has called anyone to the left of Louis XV a communist. He has continually told us that communists are evil and that those of us whom he considers to be on the Left in a political sense are communists or collaborators with communists.
What do we find now? We find that members of Senator Webster’s department are to collaborate with scientists from the U.S.S.R. in experiments associated with the solar eclipse. I ask Senator Webster to reconsider this statement because I do not wish him to be in trouble with Mr Bjelke-Petersen and those other colleagues of his in this country. I am disturbed that Senator Webster mentions the U.S.S.R. without the tirade of abuse that he usually gives in this place when he mentions it. Honourable senators on this side of the chamber thank Senator Webster for the information on the solar eclipse that he has provided in ministerial statements, in question time and in Press statements over the last few weeks. We sincerely hope that this statement will be his final word on the subject.
-by leave- I think this is the first time in which I have asked for leave to make a statement on any matter. I am provoked to do so by the unprecedented performance of the amateur who has just sat down. Senator Grimes, from the Tamar Valley, is a remarkably studious and purposeful man but, inflamed, perhaps, by ambitions of political promotion, he presumes to offer these semisatirical and condemnatory reflections upon a statement put forward purposefully, I think, by a Ministers who is eager to provide information to the public of Australia that he has obtained from scientists who work under his ministerial responsibility. Most Australians are eager to learn about this most exciting event. Senator Webster has interpreted the information provided by that great body of scientists in an energetic fashion unprecedented by any previous Minister for Science in the Senate.
I rise to speak only because of my indigation that political amateurs seeking promotion should presume to denigrate the efforts of Senator
Webster in this respect. I think it was only because Senator Grimes thought that the word Grimes’ would be broadcast by the Australian Broadcasting Commission that he denigrated a statement of scientific intelligence. To the people of Australia who wish to be informed on these matters, this statement will be a refreshing alternative to the usual cauliflower growths that come from the ABC media.
-by leave- I thought for a moment that Senator Wright intended to refuse leave for me to make a statement and that, having had his say, he intended to refuse others their right to speak. After that outrageous exhibition and expression of nonsense I merely say that all that Senator Grimes has said is valid. Senator Webster has succeeded in denigrating this very important statement by his behaviour over the past three or four weeks. He has taken every opportunity to read at length material prepared by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation on the most complex of subjects.
– Usually in reply to questions asked by Labor senators. You are one of them.
-At question time he has answered questions asked by Senator Jessop which have all the hallmarks of a question to which an answer has previously been prepared. Time and time again we have suffered this performance by the Minister who speaks in a most learned way from a prepared answer when he is asked a question by an honourable senator on his own side of the chamber. But when he is asked a question from this side of the chamber he cannot answer it. We had a startling exhibition yesterday when he gave a very complex and complicated answer to a question on quasars. Honourable senators will recall that he was not able to answer when Senator Button asked him how many centimetres there are in an inch.
– It was millimetres. I do not profess to be the Opposition spokesman on science, but the Minister was not able to answer that question. Yet he went into a very complex explanation, using a prepared brief from CSIRO, to try to impress us with his knowledge. He has succeeded in denigrating a very important statement.
– Talk about turtles and we will understand you.
-One of these days I will ask Senator Webster a question, which comes within his responsibility, about turtle farms in the Torres Strait. I will ask him why he has not done anything to investigate this continuing hoax upon the people of the Torres Strait and upon the people of this nation. I have said sufficient on the statement. I have been diverted by Senator Wright. He ought to have more sense than to question a valid expression of opinion by Senator Grimes.
Motion (by Senator Withers) agreed to:
That leave be given to introduce a Bill for an Act relating to the Protection of Certain Shipwrecks and Relics of Historic Significance.
Bill presented, and read a first time.
Standing orders suspended.
– I move:
This Bill will provide machinery to protect the large number of historic shipwrecks and relics on the continental shelf of Australia. It also provides controls for the recovery of such wrecks and relics and for their disposition. In particular, the Bill makes provision for the protection of the old Dutch shipwrecks and relics covered by the 1972 agreement between the Australian and Netherlands governments. Under this agreement, the Commonwealth has accepted responsibilities in relation to the Dutch East India Company vessels that were wrecked on or off the coast of Western Australia.
There is at present no specific Commonwealth legislation on historic shipwreck, although some control is possible under the Navigation Act. Western Australia does have legislation, but the validity of this legislation has been contested before the High Court. The decision which may resolve the matter is awaited. The Government believes that the Commonwealth has the necessary constitutional powers to legislate in this area and considers that it should introduce appropriate Commonwealth legislation into the Parliament during the current sitting. Should the relevant High Court judgment be handed down in the meantime, the Bill will be reviewed in the light of that judgment.
I am sure that all Australians will agree that there is an urgent need for effective legislation in this field. The Committee of Inquiry on Museums and National Collections has pointed out that a wealth of historical material lies beneath the waters off the Australian coast. More than 500 shipwrecks have already been located and identified, and about 1500 more ships are known to have been wrecked around the coastline. These ships are an important part of Australia’s heritage and a vital part of its history. Many were involved in the early exploration of this region. They reflect European man’s early contact with Australia. Many were involved in the carriage of migrants to this land. Many were involved in the vital cargo trade that was first Australia’s lifeline and later essential to its growth and ultimate prosperity. For the historian their contents provide valuable guidance to the habits and customs of the period. For every Australian they are a reminder of the courage, initiative, and skill of our pioneer sailors.
The Government shares the Pigott Committee’s view that these shipwrecks must be protectedfrom acts of outright vandalism, from indiscriminate looting, from impetuous souveniring and accidental damage or destruction. Already future research in marine archaeology has been severely impaired because of the many shipwrecks which have been damaged, by accident or design, in the last 2 decades. I am sure most of those who take part in the increasingly popular sport of diving in search of shipwrecks are aware of the need to respect and preserve these memories of our past. But there have been cases when shipwrecks of immense historical interest have been wantonly destroyed. In other cases well meaning souvenir hunters have been unaware that following exposure to seawater, metals become unstable and require expensive and lengthy conservation treatment. As a result, people acting in the best of faith have deprived future generations of relics of great historical value.
I would stress that the Government is particularly appreciative of the major role being played by Western Australia in preserving that part of Australia’s history represented by shipwrecks lying off the West Australian coast. The Western Australian Museum, through its Fremantle Branch and associated conservation laboratory, leads Australia in marine archaeology and the preservation of historic shipwrecks. A principal purpose of the Bill is to provide for the continuance on a sound legal basis of the existing high level of co-operation between Commonwealth agencies and such State institutions as the Western Australian Museum. The Bill therefore contains provisions that will allow agreements to be entered into between the Commonwealth and the States relating to implementation and enforcement of the legislation. These include provisions enabling the Minister to delegate his powers for these and other purposes. Such agreements would enable States to continue and expand their efforts to preserve Australia’s maritime heritage under secure national legislation. At the same time, the Commonwealth will be able to act in the national interest, when this becomes necessary.
I turn now to the main provisions of the Bill. Under the Bill, the Minister is authorised to declare as historic shipwrecks or historic articles the remains of ships or items from them that are of historic significance. These then become subject to the protective provisions of the Bill. Under these provisions persons finding or having possession of such items are required to notify the Minister. The Minister is then empowered to give directions as to how the items are to be dealt with, and he may also issue permits for the exploration or recovery of shipwrecks and relics subject to such conditions as are considered appropriate. The area surrounding a declared wreck or article may be declared a protected zone and this will permit controls to be applied to any activity that may occur in the area.
In its report, the Pigott Committee pointed out that any legislative action should be accompanied by compilation of detailed wreck records. The Government endorses this suggestion. As a result, the Bill provides that a register, to be known as the Register of Historic Shipwrecks, will be maintained. This Register will be open to public inspection. I believe all Australians will welcome this move to protect, preserve and record important aspects of Australia ‘s early days. Maintenance of the Register will not only assist in preserving these shipwrecks, it should provide a valuable guide to those who wish to see- but not interfere with- the relics of our past, for themselves.
Mr President, I would point out that one of the major aims of this legislation is the preservation of our links with out past history. As I mentioned previously, perhaps fewer than one quarter of the known wrecks have been located. While protecting these wrecks, the Government is also anxious to ensure that exploration and discovery are not inhibited or prevented. Even on a recreational basis, the process of exploration is a costly one. As well, many of these vessels contain valuable cargo. To reduce temptation while at the same time encouraging exploration, the Bill provides’ for the payment of a reward for the discovery of hitherto unlocated historic shipwrecks. The amount of the reward will not be contained in the legislation, but will be determined from time to time, according to the relative money values of the day and the importance of the discovery. The aim of this reward provision is to encourage exploration and discovery without offering incentives to pillaging. By way of illustration, the money value of the coins found on the Dutch shipwrecks off the Western Australian coast amount to many hundreds of thousands of dollars. It would be unfair and unreal to deny totally any prospective discoverer some reward for his effort.
Dutch shipwrecks, which are mentioned in the 1972 Agreement between the Netherlands and Australia concerning old Dutch shipwrecks, are automatically brought within the protective provisions of the Bill without the need for prior declaration by the Minister. The Agreement and a list of known such vessels and their locations are presented in schedules to the Bill. Further shipwrecks will be placed on the register as appropriate. I wish to express my thanks to the Western Australian authorities for the advice that has been given to the Commonwealth while this legislation has been under preparation. This has ensured that difficulties that might otherwise have arisen have been avoided and that legislation able to meet the needs of the States has been produced. I believe that this proposed legislation will adequately serve the purpose of protecting an important part of Australia’s national heritage and I commend it to the Senate.
Debate (on motion by Senator Douglas McClelland) adjourned.
Consideration resumed from 19 October, on motion by Senator Carrick:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 to 4- by leave- taken together, and agreed to.
Clause 5 (inquiries by Council at request of governments).
After sub-clause (2 ) add the following new sub-clause:
The members of the Council appointed on the nomination of the Council of Local Government Associations, or a majority of those members, may request the Council to inquire into, and report on, a matter relating to intergovernment co-operation specified in the request and, where such a request is made, the Council shall, subject to any directions referred to in sub-section 4(1), inquire into the matter and furnish a report with respect to the inquiry to the Prime Minister, to the Premier of each of the participating States and to the Council of Local Government Associations.
As honourable senators will observe, clause 5 relates to inquiries by the Advisory Council for Inter-Government Relations at the request of governments. It provides that the inquiries by the Council may be carried out on the request of the governments that are represented on the Council, or a majority of those governments, that is, the Australian Government and the 6 State governments. Therefore, if a request comes from 4 State governments or from the Commonwealth Government and 3 State governments, they being in the majority, the Council may carry out such an inquiry. The Australian Labor Party’s amendment which I have moved will permit the Council to make inquiries if it is requested to do so by a majority of local government representatives on the Council.
The Minister Assisting the Prime Minister in Federal Affairs (Senator Carrick) in his second reading speech mentioned that originally it was proposed that there be 3 local government representatives on the Council. I note and I applaud, as the Labor movement applauds, the fact that the Government has decided to increase the number of representatives of local government bodies on the Advisory Council from the original 3 to the present 6. There will be as many local government representatives on the Council when it is established as there will be representatives of State governments. It would seem fair to us to provide that the Council should also inquire into any matter on which an inquiry is requested by a majority of local government representatives. We think it would be wrong to allow the present provision only whereby the Council might consider matters subject to and in accordance with decisions that are made or directions that might be given at a Premiers Conference.
At present if the local government representative wanted something raised, he would first have to take it up with his State Premier who might or might not agree to push the proposal. If the State Premier did push it, he would have to the support of 3 of the other States or 2 of the other States and the Commonwealth Government to get a majority. We believe that in this socalled system of federalism, in this system of 3-tier government- Federal, State and local government- local government is entitled to better recognition than that which is proposed in this legislation. After all is said and done, this body which is being established by this legislation is the only body which institutionally is able to deal with the problems of local government along with the other problems of the other tiers of government.
On this body all tiers of government- the Commonwealth, the States and local governmentwill be represented. The very fact that they will all be represented on this body surely indicates to the members of the Committee that if the Commonwealth can raise matters in conjunction with three of the other States, or if four of the States can raise matters or can have inquiries conducted into matters that are raised by them, ipso facto it should be that the majority of” local government representatives on the council likewise should be able to have an inquiry initiated. We suggest that the amendment would greatly improve the Bill. It would democratise the Council.
– The Government will oppose the amendment basically because it is not necessary and because in fact it does not achieve what the honourable senator said it would achieve. I remind him that his amendment states that the decision of a majority of local government bodies shall, subject to any directions referred to in sub-section 4 ( 1 ), be affected. Sub-clause 4(1) of the Bill says ‘subject to and in accordance with directions given at a Premiers’ Conference’. So the effect of this amendment would be that any such decision that it might reach would be subject to the Premiers Conference agreeing to that decision. I remind the Senate that at this moment, in the Bill without amendment, it is possible for local government to submit to the Premiers Conference- whether through the States, writing directly to the Federal Government or through the Council itself- a matter for the Premiers Conference to include in the agenda.
Clearly, if one reflects on the matter one must come to an understanding that there has to be an agenda committee and that there cannot be a whole series of references coming forward as directions to the Council to make investigations. Somebody has to make the judgment of priorities and somebody has to tell the Council what investigations specifically it may make. The Bill provides in sub-clause 4(1) that the Premiers Conference, or a majority of people being the Premiers Conference at a particular time, shall be such a body. So there is a clear way in which local government can ask to have its suggestions for agenda items considered. In the proposed amendment the agenda items would still have to go before the Premiers Conference and a decision would still have to be made at that conference. No decision, as foreshadowed in the earlier part of the proposed amendment, would be substantial in itself without the endorsement of the Premiers Conference.
It is a fact of life that at the Premiers Conference local government is not able to participate. It is a fact of life that the Government’s aim is to bring to the Advisory Council local government along with Federal and State governments and the community. Local government will have an equal place in the sun. At the Advisory Council it will have more numbers than will the Federal Government. That is important to understand. Quite deliberately the Federal Government has given to local government more numbers than it has itself. Local government will participate in the writing of the annual report. It can express within that annual report its views of priorities, of subject matters to be debated, of subjects to be investigated. It can through public dialogue indicate the nature of things that it proposes for investigation. Once the Government and indeed now the Opposition, are unanimous in accepting sub-clause 4(1), implicit in that sub-clause is the decision that the Premiers Conference shall be the umpire, and the methodology already exists in the Bill whereby local government can get its message as to what it desires to the Premiers Conference. Therefore the amendment should be rejected as unnecessary.
– I do not intend to labour the point. The Minister for Education (Senator Carrick) has expressed the point of view of the Government but I suggest, with respect to the Minister, that he fails to appreciate the words of the amendment. First of all the Minister has said that the Commonwealth, in a spirit of generosity, has given local government more numbers than the Commonwealth has on the Advisory Council for Inter-Government Relations. One hopes that the Commonwealth would surely agree that if local government were to be credited with only one representative for the whole of Australia it would be a complete and utter farce. Therefore I do not give credit to the Minister or to the Government for the fact that there are more local government representatives on the body than the one representative of the Commonwealth. Indeed I commend the Government and the Minister for having seen fit to increase the number of local government representatives from three, as originally proposed, to six, as are now provided for in the Bill.
Apropos of what the Minister said about subclause 4(1) relating to the object and function of the Council, the Australian Labor Party’s amendment takes this situation into account. What the amendment says plainly is that a majority of the members of the Council who are appointed on the nomination of local government organisations may request the Council to inquire into and report upon a matter relating to inter-governmental co-operation and subject to the provisions previously set out in sub-clause 4 ( 1 )- that is, the situation relating to the Premiers Conference and the Loan Council- and subject to any directions referred to in that section the Council may inquire into the matter and furnish a report, with respect to the inquiry, to the Prime Minister, to the Premiers of each of the States and to the Council of Local Government Associations. All our amendment is doing is opening the door to enable local government organisations to request that certain matters that they may consider need inquiring into and reporting upon be inquired into and reported upon. It does not make the matter mandatory. It merely enables them to make a request that these matters be reported upon. Therefore the Opposition presses the amendment. However, as I am told by the Opposition Whip, Senator Georges, that because of a certain circumstance that has taken place in another place where doctors are required in another place, the Opposition will not call for a division on the amendment.
– I have been drawn into this debate by my interest in and concern for the welfare of local government in Australia. You may recall, Mr Temporary Chairman, that one of the subjects to which I have addressed myself more than any other since I have been privileged to be a member of the Senate has been the question of local government. I was a practitioner in local government and I suppose it is only natural that I should display some interest in its welfare and well-being. I have long cherished the hope that we would reach the position in Australia where we could rationalise the whole question of governmental functions. Even at this point of time we seem to be grudgingly acknowledging the existence of local government. Local government itself has mounted the fight for recognition and the fight has been a long and tough one. Progress has been inch by inch. That is not as it ought to be.
I, like so many of my colleagues here and like so many people throughout Australia, regard the local government function as perhaps the most important of the 3 levels of government in Australia. It may be recalled that some years ago
I put forward the proposition that I believed that the stage had been reached in the development of our governmental society where there ought to be a thoroughgoing nation-wide inquiry into the whole question of governmental functions in Australia. I had hoped that that inquiry would take into account the situation of the Federal Government, State government and local government, and particularly the interrelationship of those 3 levels. I thought that such an inquiry ought to involve every section of the Australian community. It ought, first of all, to determine the particular relationship that exists between the 3 levels of government. Some countries do not have 3 levels of government. For instance, New Zealand has only 2 levels of government, and there is a very good working arrangement between those 2 levels of government as to their functions, duties and responsibilities.
In Australia, even at this late stage of the development of our system, we still have no clear definition of what really are the functions of local government. More obscure still is the way that local government funds its functions. That is a matter of great concern to me and to the Australian community. The ratepayers in the various communities express their bitter and very strong feelings from time to time about the way in which they are slugged. I use that word in its fullest meaning. The rates for the community of Devonport, which is the area from which I come, have increased this year by 33 per cent. That has happened despite all the protestations of honourable senators opposite to the effect that the level of their generosity towards local government has been such that rates should not rise by more than 5 per cent.
– By how much did you say they had been increased?
– By 33 per cent; but I believe the common increase in Tasmania would be of the order of 20 per cent. I hoped that there would be instituted an inquiry to which all those people who have a concern for the governmental system in this country could be invited to offer their views. Those views could be considered and distilled and then used ultimately to arrive at a situation in which the 3 levels of government have clearly denned functions, in which their duties and their range of responsibilities are constitutionally denned, and in which as a consequence of the attainment of those 2 objectives the sources of revenue, the means of funding those 3 levels of government, could be determined. The present situation is an intolerable one. As I say, what we are doing at the present time, beneficial though it may be in the total sense, is only a piecemeal attempt at resolving this whole great problem.
When I first entered the Parliament there was no real concern or no expressed interest in local government, although, of course, so many honourable senators had been involved in local government. We always heard the claim that while we had a concern for local government it was not part of our responsibilities. Thank goodness, with the passage of time and the realism that has been brought to bear in that regard, we now have shown some practical concern for local government. Had we not done that the system of local government as we know it would have broken down. It is a pity that we are dealing with local government in this piecemeal manner. Maybe one day we may reach the ultimate objective of arriving at a proper and clear definition of the functions of local government and, as I say, of the funding of the services and facilities that it provides. I suppose that it is important to realise that we are taking those steps. Having regard to what I have just said, having regard to the quality of services which local government may or may not be able to provide to the people, accepting of course that local government plays a very important function and ought to be able to finance adequately those functions without slugging the community at large, it is progress at least that we are setting up this Advisory Council for Inter-Government Relations: It has a benefit. It does not go as far as I hoped it would, but at least it goes somewhere along the way. It will provide to local government that very necessary voice in the total sphere of government. I hope that the Senate will accept the Opposition’s amendment and so display further to local government that we are concerned for its welfare and that we want to ensure that it has the loudest possible voice in the forums that determine local government matters.
– Those aims that Senator Douglas McClelland indicated he sought- that is, the ability of one or more or a majority of the 6 local government members, either jointly or severally, to make recommendations to the Premiers Conference for items to be put on the agenda- are capable of fulfilment without his amendment. Under this Bill it is quite competent for local government, jointly or severally, for one or more of the 6 local government members, to send to the Premiers Conference a request; the honourable senator’s amendment is not necessary to achieve that purpose. The Government opposes the amendment.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 6 and 7- by leave- taken together, and agreed to.
– I move:
In short we suggest that what the Government proposes in sub-clause (3) does not go far enough. We seek an election by the local government bodies in the States, in accordance with a method determined by the Council of Local Government Associations, of the 6 local government representatives on the Advisory Council for Inter-Government Relations. Sub-clause (2) of clause 8 lists the sorts of people who shall comprise the 22 members of the Advisory Council for Inter-Government Relations. Paragraph (j) of that sub-clause states that among those people appointed shall be: 6 persons, not being members of a Parliament, who shall be appointed on the nomination of the Council of Local Government Associations;
The amendment moved by the Labor Party seeks to provide that those 6 persons should be chosen in each State by members of local government councils in that State. The Bill mentions the Australian Council of Local Government Associations. As the Bill now stands, the Australian Council of Local Government Associations will nominate the 6 local government representatives on the Advisory Council. I doubt whether any Minister, including the Minister for Education (Senator Carrick), could give the Committee a definition of the composition or the constitution of the Australian Council of Local Government Associations. Despite the tremendous all-round ability of the Minister, I doubt very much whether he in his wisdom could offer the Committee a definition of the composition or the constitution of that body. We are being asked in this Bill to give to a body, which at the very best has a hazy notion, the right to nominate the 6 local government representatives on this Council. In short, the amendment we have moved provides that each potential member of the Council coming from local government in each State should be chosen by the elected members of the local government bodies in each State. How those States determine the method of election is a matter for them. In other words, the aldermen and councillors in each State should, we believe, be the ones who decide who should be the 6 State representatives on the Council to be established by this Bill. Therefore because this is another attempt by the Opposition to democratise the Council further, a body which we agree is quite an important body, I have moved this amendment on behalf of the Opposition.
-Very briefly I would like to say that I support the proposition put forward by Senator Douglas McClelland. I think it would be quite wrong if having provided a forum for the expression of opinion of local government some action were to be taken- I am not suggesting it would be, but it could be under the terms of the Bill before usthat resulted in appointment to the Council of persons who were not actively engaged in or involved in local government. I think regard should be had for the fact that for the most part throughout Australia the people who serve the institution of local government are not paid. They give their services free and willingly to the service of the community. I think it would be a reward for people who provide this sort of a service if there were a procedure by which they could become members of this superior body which will deal with the interests of local government. It may well be that people who are not practitioners in the field of local government could be appointed to this Council. There is nothing in the Bill to say that they could not be appointed. While I suggest it is probably improbable, I think it would do no damage to the Bill if this were clearly defined in the Bill. For that reason I have pleasure in supporting the opposition put forward by Senator Douglas McClelland on behalf of the Labor Party.
– In speaking in support of the amendment moved by Senator Douglas McClelland I want to refer to 2 matters which are of great concern to me. Clause 8( 1 ) in part reads:
Sub clause (4) reads:
In nominating persons to be the members referred to in paragraph (2) (k), the Prime Minister shall ensure that, so far as is practicable, they are from different sections of the Australian community.
From my quick reading of the Bill I am unable to find any guidelines as to what sections of the community the Prime Minister would be looking at to ensure that different sections of the community are represented on this Council.
The other thing which concerns me is that in some States local government bodies have a restricted franchise. In my own State of South Australia the State Government has been endeavouring for a long time to have a common roll so that every person entitled to vote in a State or a Federal election is entitled to vote in local government elections. We in South Australia have been denied this right for many years by the Upper House- the Legislative Council, in which until recently only half of the members were elected on a democratic franchise. Unless you are a ratepayer you are unable to vote in local government elections or to stand for local government except when you have a property in joint ownership- that is, a property held by the husband and wife- and there is an anomaly there. Many years ago I experienced this situation when I sold a property. Because my wife’s name was ahead of mine alphabetically, she was automatically placed on the roll. Unless a person in my category makes an application to the local council to be put on to the voters’ roll he is deprived of a vote. We sold a property. I thought I would be included on the roll for the next election, but when I went to vote I was told: ‘No, you are not entitled to vote because you did not notify the council that you wanted to be on the roll’. So I was deprived of casting my vote. I am quoting that as an illustration because many thousands of people would be in the same category as I was in. Unless it is spelt out somewhere in this legislation the people of South Australia are not going to have full representation no matter who is nominated for the Advisory Council. In Queensland councillors are elected from the common roll. I stand corrected but I think the position is the same in Victoria. So the ratepayers in those States will be fully represented on the Council only so far as the representatives on the Council are nominated.
I think the Bill does not go far enough. It should spell out that the persons who are to be the representatives of the various State governments are to be fully elected, not nominated, because we live in what we hope is a democratic system. The Minister for Education (Senator Carrick), who is in charge of this Bill, lectures us daily on the virtues of his Government in that it wants to democratise every system of public life in this country. Yet we find in this Bill that he is not democratising appointments to the Council because there is reference in the Bill in many places to ‘nominated members’. It may be that I have overlooked something in the Bill which gets away from ‘nominated members’, but I would like the Minister to explain how the people from my own State of South Australia are going to be fully represented when their representatives on this Council will be chosen because the people on the body nominating them have been elected and are not persons who are in some way associated with local government because nowhere in the Bill does it spell out what association they have to have. There are many categories in which a person may have an association with a local government. It could be a ratepayer who is in regular attendance at meetings and sits in as observer. Who could say he did not have some association because he has a vital interest in council meetings and the business transacted at those meetings? There could be many categories. I hope that the Minister is able to give the Senate some explanation of what is meant by those parts of the Bill I have mentioned.
– The Government will oppose the amendment again on the ground that it is unnecessary and does not serve the essential purpose of the legislation. Indeed it would be competent upon the Australian Council of Local Government Associations under this Bill to do precisely what Senator Douglas McClelland wants to do if it were so disposed. The only question is whether to make it mandatory. It is important, I think, to realise that the Australian Council of Local Government Associations is the federal body of local government associations in Australia. It is elected by the 6 States and it represents the 6 States. The whole thrust of the Association’s request to us to increase its representation on the Advisory Council from three to six was that it is essentially a federated body drawing its strength and its responsibility from the 6 States, and it is responsive to the 6 States. What we have done under this legislation is ensure as far as possible that potential members of the Advisory Council are associated with local government in the different States. True it is that the Bill does not force the Australian Council of Local Government Associations to nominate one from each State. But it is responsible to and responsive to the 6 State local government associations and quite clearly it would nominate one member from each State.
To suggest that we ought to put other sanctions upon the representatives coming forward and to suggest that perhaps someone not truly responsive to local government would come forward is, I think, grossly to underestimate the sense of responsibility of the Australian Council of Local Government Associations. It is that body which represents in Australia at the top, the local government interest that is being asked to nominate these people. It is beyond any doubt that they would nominate local government people of very great merit and experience in local government.
Having said that, I think it is worth saying to the Senate that this council is not structured in some precise mathematical form on State representation. Senator McLaren has some concern about his State. There will be some 5 Federal parliamentary members on this advisory council. Quite clearly, 1 State at least will not be represented. I suggest that the honourable senator might request his own Party to make sure that a South Australian is put on if he is so concerned at the possibility of a numbers game which we, in fact, would deplore in this. There will be only 5 federal members. Indeed, Senator Douglas McClelland has not sought more than that so there will not be precise State representation on it. There will be 5 members of the community and therefore clearly not a precise mathematical formula on this.
If I understood Senator McLaren correctly he has misunderstood sub-clause (2) (k). Those 5 people have nothing to do with local government at all. They are people who represent the community. The Council will consist of 5 Federal members, 6 State members, 6 local government members and 5 community members, making in all some 22 members. The aim is to bring together around a table the 3 vested and specialised interests of government. Then as a fourth interest we have the representatives of the community who are basically the recipients or the clients and who themselves have a vested interest in creating a society or an environment in which to live. They themselves will be nominated but not necessarily by States. The Government opposes the amendment. We have full faith in the ability of the Australian Council of Local Governments Associations to speak for its 6 State bodies in Australia. We have full faith that it will select and nominate to the Council people of the highest quality and experience in local government. We do not believe that we ought to make mandatory provisions.
-On behalf of the Opposition I merely re-emphasise the argument that I have already put to the Committee. As the Minister for Education (Senator Carrick) knows there will be 2 members of the Parliament of the Commonwealth who shall be appointed on the nomination of the Leader of the Opposition in another place. So far as those 2 nominees are concerned, in the first instance they will be elected by members of the Federal Parliamentary Labor Party. After their election, they will be nominated by the Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives. We believe that in a complete democracy there should be this method of election carried through to the ultimate. Therefore we press the amendment that we have moved to clause 8 of the Bill. For the reasons I mentioned earlier, the Opposition will not be dividing on this clause.
– I do not wish to delay the Committee but I should like one point to be clarified. Perhaps the Minister for Education (Senator Carrick) can clarify this point in his response. Am I correct in assuming that implicit in his comments was the anticipation that the persons referred to in clause 8 (2) (j) would in fact be persons actively involved in local government? It would suit my purposes if the Minister were to clarify that point because it would perhaps help us towards a better understanding of the clause.
– It is clearly and emphatically the understanding of the Government that the 6 persons nominated by the Australian Council of Local Government Associations shall be the 6 best possible equipped persons in local government to speak for local government. My answer to his question is an emphatic yes.
– In view of the answer that the Minister for Education (Senator Carrick) has just given to Senator Devitt, I query again his statement in which he referred to the 6 best possible persons being nominated by the Australian Council of Local Government Associations. I refer again to South Australia where we have a limited franchise of people eligible to elect people to local government to make up the governing body of the local council in South Australia. Many of the country councils in South Australia meet during daylight hours. This deprives many small business people who run their own businesses and many people who are wage earners and who would like, in many cases of which I know, to stand for council and to represent the ratepayers. They are unable to stand for council because they cannot get time off from their employment during the day. This, to my mind, is depriving perhaps the local government body in South Australia of many people with expertise which they would like to contribute to local government. This is because the councils meet in daylight hours. I am particularly concerned about one man business operators and I am particularly concerned about employees who would like to serve on councils. In effect, these people are deprived from being elected to councils and we, in South Australia, will be at some disadvantage compared to other States. In other States, every person in the community over the age of 1 8 has the opportunity to stand for local government elections and to vote at such elections. In South Australia there is a great percentage of ratepayers- in some cases they are not ratepayers but they have contributed towards the community welfare- who do not have a say in local government. In my view, they are entitled to some say in who the head of the Local Government Association of South Australia will nominate to represent them on this Council. That was the question I first posed to the Minister and I do not think he has yet answered that question.
– I will be brief. I accept the situation as Senator McLaren describes it as being accurate. It is a situation which has to be cured locally by his State Government. It will not be cured by this Bill. The simple fact is that the Local Government Association of South Australia Incorporated is represented on the Australian Council of Local Government Associations. If the number of people who stand for election to local government councils in South Australia is restricted because of the difficulties outlined by Senator McLaren- I accept what he said- at this point of time it is curable entirely by the State Government of South Australia. If the State Government ultimately cures this problem and if it restructures its local government councils in that way then quite clearly the Australian Council of Local Government Associations will be better equipped to select a representative from South Australia. I see no possible way in which South Australia will fail to be represented on this Council. I believe that it is quite clear that the Australian Council of Local Government Associations will select a South Australian amongst its 6 nominations. The honourable senator really is describing a situation in which, because of the limited ground rules in South Australia an insufficient cross-section of people reach the surface in local government. Because local government councils in South Australia meet in daylight hours many people who would wish to pursue an interest in local government cannot do so. We cannot cure that problem.
– I should like to make a brief comment on what the Minister has said. He stated that this problem comes purely within the province of the South Australian Government. I think perhaps Senator Carrick did not hear me correctly when I first spoke to this amendment moved by Senator Douglas McClelland. I said that the Government in South Australia has tried to give every person over the age of 1 8 the right to stand for election to local government or to vote for the candidate of his choice at such elections. We have been prevented from doing so by the members of the Liberal Party who dominate the Legislative Council. I posed this suggestion in the hope that Senator Carrick, to make this Bill work much better and more democratically, might speak to his State colleagues in South Australia and point out how a lot of people there are being deprived of their democratic right to stand for council or to elect to the local government a person of their choice.
Clause agreed to.
Remainder of the Bill- by leave- taken as a whole.
– I rise to seek some information about where this Advisory Council for InterGovernment Relations will be located. Nothing in the Bill states that the Council will be located in Hobart. I know that the Government’s policy is that it will be located in Hobart, but I was surprised to find no provision in the Bill for the Council to be located in Hobart. I wonder whether this will be done in some other fashion. If so, I would be obliged if the Minister for Education (Senator Carrick), who is in charge of the Bill, will advise the Senate and the people of Australia in that regard.
– I give an unqualified assurance that it is the Government’s intention to locate the Council in Hobart. That intention is not shown in the Bill because it is purely an administrative matter. The Government has stated its intention as an emphatic policy matter, lt will honour that undertaking.
Remainder of Bill agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill (on motion by Senator Carrick) read a third time.
– Earlier today Senator Keeffe and Senator Colston obtained leave of the Senate to incorporate certain documents in Hansard. The Principal Parliamentary Reporter has informed me that the documents submitted are so voluminous that to incorporate them would seriously delay the publication of the daily Hansard. I remind honourable senators that the incorporation in Hansard of unread matter is always subject to an absence of printing and other difficulties. I am of the opinion that on this occasion the material sought to be incorporated is unreasonably long and I suggest to the honourable senators concerned that they might seek leave to table the documents in the Senate. They will then be public documents.
-by leave- Mr President, I feel rather sad that because, as you have said, the documents are so voluminous, this action has had to be taken. In the more than 10 years that I have been here I have never seen this action taken before. I realise that by the time the matter could have been sorted out this evening it was possible that the production of Hansard would have been seriously delayed. I suggest, as an alternative, that selected documents be incorporated in Hansard. I understand that technically this will be too difficult to do this evening, so I suggest, with respect to you, Mr President, that it might be done tomorrow morning immediately after question time when I will seek leave to introduce the matter again. If that course is accepted by the Senate, the balance of the documents can be tabled. In the meantime, of course, we will make these documents available to you to study.
I was under the impression that the documents which were described as too voluminous were those associated with Mount Larcom, but I notice that Hansard has returned to me the Palm Island and Cedar Bay documents. I suppose another alternative is for colleagues of mine on this side of the House to read into Hansard this evening all the documents. This would, of course, seriously impede the publication of Hansard and it would not lead to happy relationships between this side of the House and the other side of the House if we stayed here to 3 a.m. reading the documents into Hansard. We do not propose to adopt that method. We had hoped that all the documents concerning the 3 disadvantaged groups- in particular the Mount Larcom farmers who are in a very serious situation indeedwould have been available for the public of Australia so that they could see what sort of a poor deal the groups were getting. Nevertheless, the selected documents, if our suggestion is accepted, will convey the meaning fairly clearly.
Senator Colston talked on the adjournment debate last night about the Palm Island and Cedar Bay groups. The matter involving these groups was referred to by each of the honourable senators on our side of the House who spoke in the urgency debate today. I feel- I am not casting any aspersions upon you, Mr President- that the fact that Senator Webster, a member of the National Country Party, decided to refuse leave to have some of these documents incorporated has some significance because of his association with the National Party in Queensland. It was sad to see Senator Martin, a member of the Liberal Party, adopt similar delaying tactics this afternoon when we opened this debate. I make these suggestions and hope that my remarks have been noted.
– I rise on a point of order. I think it is wrong for Senator Keeffe to impute improper motives to honourable senators. I did not have that motive at all. I explained in full at the time the reason for my concern with what Senator Keeffe was doing. Senator Keeffe ought to accept that my concern was well-founded because of the instances that have occurred in the past. I ask you, Mr President, to request Senator Keeffe to withdraw that comment.
- Senator Keeffe, you have heard Senator Martin -
– I am not sure what comment I have to withdraw.
- Senator Keeffe made a statement to the effect that I had done certain things this afternoon for the purpose of delaying him. That is just not true.
– Watch your civil liberties, Jim.
– My civil liberties! I am not precisely clear what Senator Martin objects to. If she would spell it out in quite clear terms maybe I shall be prepared to withdraw the comment, but I am not prepared to withdraw something when I do not quite know what she wants me to withdraw.
- Senator Martin alleges that an improper motive was attributed to her in making her speech tonight. She asks that the imputations which were inherent in the last words of Senator Keeffe ‘s speech be withdrawn.
– That is not really quite what I was saying. I understand Senator Keeffe to have alleged that I was engaging in delaying tactics during his speech this afternoon. During his speech, I rose on several points of order concerning the incorporation of documents. I believe that I rose on good grounds. I object to Senator Keeffe ‘s claiming that I was using delaying tactics when in fact I was raising a genuine point of order. I suggest that he is imputing improper motives. I take offence at that and I ask you, Mr President, to request him to withdraw the imputation.
– I can assure Senator Martin that I have never had any improper motives towards her in my life. If she feels offended by my remarks I will withdraw them.
- Senator Keeffe, I have listened to your suggestion concerning the incorporation of certain material. In accordance with established practice I shall look at the selected material that you present to me, as you suggested you would do, prior to seeking leave to incorporate it tomorrow.
Debate resumed from 12 October, on motion by Senator Webster:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
- Mr President, before the debate resumes on this Bill I suggest that, if it be the agreement of the Opposition, this Bill, the Australian Film Commission Amendment Bill 1 976 and the Australian Film and Television School Amendment Bill 1976 be debated conjointly.
-If there is no objection, I will allow that course to be followed.
-The Opposition agrees with the suggestion of the Minister for Science (Senator Webster). In fact we regard it as one of the most brilliant suggestions he has ever made in the Senate and we will deal with the 3 Bills on that basis.
– Then do so without facetious remarks.
– I indicate, if I am not to be interrupted by Senator Wright, that the Opposition does not oppose these 3 Bills. The Bills are the legislative consequence of a statement made in this place by Senator Withers on 3 June to which we made some response at the time. There is perhaps little we have to add at this stage except by way of comment. I should perhaps first deal with the amendment relating to the Australia Council Act- a matter which I think we mentioned on 3 June. This is the sort of legislation which, in essence, could have been introduced by any party after the 2 years or so that the Australia Council’s role had been assessed. In a sense these are machinery amendments in the main dealing with matters such as the size of the boards, the extension of the term of the members of the boards and the appointment of an executive officer which may, of course, be a controversial issue in the community concerned but is not, in the context of this legislation, in itself a controversial matter.
The reduction in the size of the Council, the extension of the terms of the members of the board and the alteration to the size of the board may, in time, tend to result in a heightened degree of bureaucratic rigidity in the structure of the Australia Council but that is something about which we can only speculate and which might properly be reviewed by the Parliament again in two or three years time. Since the Australia Council was established there have been a great number of criticisms, not only public criticisms but also criticisms by committees of this Parliament, of some of the aspects of the functioning of the Council. It may be that these amendments are a response to that criticism. However we alert the Parliament to the fact that it may be a matter that may need to be looked at again. At this stage we regard it as a reasonable sort of experiment in connection with the structure of the various parts of the Australia Council.
One aspect of the Australia Council legislation is closely related to the Bill dealing with the Australian Film Commission. That is the abolition of the Film, Radio and Television Board insofar as the Australia Council is concerned and the transfer of its functions to the Australian Film Commission. Since 3 June I understand that the Australian Film Commission, with a degree of speed and flexibility, has sought to embrace the functions of that Board within the Commission and that at least at this stage a satisfactory accommodation has been made to carry on the work of that former Board of the Australia Council. We criticised that transfer at the time and, in a sense, we renew that criticism to the extent that the criteria of the Australian Film Commission in relation to the assistance which it gives to the Australian film industry are basically commercial criteria. Insofar as the Board of the Australia Council engaged in the production of experimental films we see a potential conflict between the experimental film function of that Board and the overall approach of the Australian Film Commission. We do not in any way decry the Australian Film Commission because of that and we are sure that it will try to accommodate that situation, but we draw attention to that conflict of interest.
Only a few weeks ago I was privileged to see some of the films which that Board had produced or which had been produced under the auspices of that Board. Some of them were extremely interesting and in respect of most of them one could say that they definitely fell into an experimental basket. We hope that that capacity, in what was the Board, will be retained to sponsor and carry out experimental film work. In the community similar concern has been expressed about the radio functions of that Board and how that will be fitted in and accommodated by the Australian Film Commission. At this stage we are confident that the Commission will try to do that and we hope it is successful. We are not confident that it necessarily will be so.
I turn now to the legislation relating to the Australian Film and Television School. The basic amendment is to include a definition of broadcasting in the Film and Television School Act so that the School can cater for audio-visual functions and accommodate radio as an allied discipline to film making, film production and so on. This year the Government has made a significant cut in the Budget allocation to the Film and Television School. This has affected the capacity of the outside program of the Film and Television School. In a sense I suppose it will retard the creative and educational function of that School for part time students. A number of television and film producers and aspirant television and film producers within the last month have attended outside courses conducted by the Film and Television School in Canberra. Those courses generally were regarded as highly successful. It is unfortunate that that program may have to be curtailed because of the limitation of funds.
When one talks about the Film and Television School I think the Government, as well as the Parliament, should be concerned about the situation of graduates of that School. I believe there is a lot of feeling in the industry that graduates of that School are not necessarily suitable persons for employment in industry because of lack of practical experience. This is a problem we face in this Parliament in relation to the products of many institutions engaged in educational functions of one kind or another. The Film and Television School is not immune from that problem. We hope that the Government will look at that problem because it is one which concerns the industry and will concern graduates of the Film and Television School in the next year or so.
The only other point I add to what we have said previously about these 3 Bills is that they come into the Parliament now, on 20 October, in a sense as Bills dealing with the arts in Australia, the administration of the arts, the development of film and the training of film and television personnel under the cloud, if I may put it that way, of a draft report of the Industries Assistance Commission which was brought down a few days ago and which has been the subject of much public discussion. I wish to go on record as saying, in contradistinction to much of the public comment that has been made about the report of the Industries Assistance Commission, that the report seems to me to be a thoroughly worthwhile document. I do not agree with it. I do not believe that the Government will agree with it. I do not believe that the Opposition, if it were in government, would agree with the conclusions and recommendations of the report. On the other hand, I think it is a very valuable document for people concerned about public accountability of the arts, the film industry and so on, and the responsibility of legislators in Australia who have to be concerned with the problem of subsidising industries of one kind or another, particularly the arts.
I draw attention to some of the important critical conclusions that the IAC report reaches which have a bearing on these questions. It seems to me that the IAC has been confused, in some respects, by the use of the word ‘elitist’. It has confused the concept of quality in the arts with the question of privilege of” consumers of the arts. As a Parliament we must be concerned about quality. If we look at the 3 institutions- the Film and Television School, the Australian Film Commission and the Australia Council- our consistent concern must be that high quality is aimed for and maintained in relation to all their endeavours. But the question of privilege for consumers of the arts, whether in the form of films, products of the various boards of the Australian Council or the Film and Television School, is totally different. Some very critical questions are raised in the IAC report about which value judgments must be made. For example, the question is raised whether a society like ours is justified in subsidising seats at the opera to the extent of $17 a seat when a very small percentage of the community attends opera, when the facility of the Australian Opera is not made available to citizens of Western Australia, for example, and when those who do attend the opera belong to a particularly high ranking socio-economic group. At the same time, this country, by means of parliamentary appropriation, does very little to improve the standards of Australian television. I take the example of children’s television in Australia. It may be that as a result of the activities of the Australian Film Commission and as a result of the activities of the Film and Television School at some distant date in the future the quality of children’s television in Australia may improve. But the quality at the moment is appalling and very little money is being spent on it. Last year in the Australian Capital Territory the Australian Council of Children’s Film and Television conducted a survey which showed that the average primary school child watches television for 30 hours a week. That is nearly as much time as the average Australian works in a week. The cultural medium and the cultural values of those children are being obtained basically from television. They are not being obtained from the Australian Opera, the Australian Ballet or any of the large prestige arts organisations which this Parliament continues to fund and to sponsor. When one talks about quality and privilege it is important, I believe, for the Parliament to distinguish between these 2 things. There is no doubt that consumers of the prestige arts organisations in Australia are priviliged and that the children of Australia are grossly underprivileged in what they consume and in what might be described as their cultural milieu. The product of what they consume is inferior. It is questions like those raised in the report which should cause us to make a fundamental appraisal of the values of what we are doing in regard to expenditure on the arts in Australia and the expenditure which is devoted already to the 3 organisations which are the subject of these 3 Bills.
I raise this matter because I think that the Industries Assistance Commission whether by accident or design, has, by applying criteria which are more appropriate to other industries, raised some very important questions at which we in this Parliament should be looking and which involve very important value judgments for Australian society. After all, we as a nation- or some of us, I suppose- are proud of the international achievements of the Australian Ballet and the Australian Opera. But when one looks at the results in terms of the Australian community and the services and facilities which those organisations provide to the Australian community as a whole, perhaps our priorities are not quite what they ought to be.
It is not only that aspect which is raised in the report. There are also very important issues raised in respect of those organisations such as the question, which is implicit in the IAC report, of whether we will continue to subsidise opera seats to the extent of $17 a seat, as we do now, or whether we should subsidise them to the extent of $50 a seat so that more people can attend the opera with the result that its facilities are much more widely spread. As an opera-hater, I would not recommend that course. I would certainly oppose it. But that is a personal bias and I do not want to inflict that bias on the value judgments about which I am talking.
As I have indicated, the Opposition has already stated its basic position in relation to these 3 Bills. The Opposition has a number of doubts about them. But the Opposition thinks that in each case the Bills are legitimate attempts to try to rectify what are essentially structural matters. The Opposition trusts that from time to time the Parliament will have further opportunities to review the activities of each of the organisations which are the subject of these Bills and to keep a continuing eye on the situation. I commend the Bills in general to the Senate. The Opposition will not oppose the Bills either at the second reading stage or in Committee.
-In the debate relating to these 3 Bills the Parliament in general and the Senate in particular now is engaging in a study and consideration of an aspect of our national community life which is, I suppose, sometimes regarded as unique. Certainly, it is a sensitive and controversial area. It is both sensitive and controversial because in the understanding of many people the normal practice of relating an activity to commercial, industrial or social interests does not apply. Yet any area relating to the arts or to the culture of a community has reference to the commercial, industrial and social areas. It also moves into the educational sphere. As all honourable senators know there is a strong association with international relations.
So, as the Senate considers these 3 Bills- the Australian Council Amendment Bill, the Australian Film Commission Amendment Bill and the Australian Film and Television Bill- it is aware of the wide diversity of interests, involvements, connections and associations that they bring forward. With all of their relationships with social, industrial, commercial, educational and international affairs, the Bills have as their main ingredient the artistic and cultural fields. These fields are summed up in short as the arts. The arts are an important facet of our life style. They are interesting and important and, although they may not bring any tangible return, they certainly provide intangible benefits. This means that on the one hand there is always difficulty in arguing for funds for the arts, but, on the other hand, there is always the certainty that a proper arts program is a great contributor to our national well-being.
– Order! It being 1 1 p.m., under sessional order I put the question:
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– I draw the attention of the Senate to information stated by the Minister for Social Security, Senator Guilfoyle, in an answer to Senator Grimes during the sitting of Estimates Committee D on 7 October. In reply to a question by Senator Grimes the Minister stated quite clearly that the Federal Government, the Fraser Government, has abrogated to the States the responsibility for the funding of women’s refuges. The information provided by the Minister during that exchange confirms information which I have already gained from Senator Carrick, the Minister Assisting the Prime Minister in Federal Affairs, and from Mr Hunt, the Minister for Health. I point out to the chamber that I am highly critical of this decision of the Government to abrogate the responsibility for the funding.
– I take a point of order. If I understand the submission, it arises out of questions and answers at an Estimates Committee meeting. That matter will come before the Senate when the Committee presents its report. I submit that this speech is anticipating a matter which is appropriate for debate on that occasion. I do not think the adjournment debate is the appropriate occasion for such a speech in any case. My specific point is that it is a matter arising out of questions and answers at an Estimates Committee meeting. That can come before the Senate only after the Estimates Committee’s report is before this chamber. I submit this speech is anticipating that debate.
– In reply to the point of order, I point out that the information on the funding of women’s refuges about which I wish to speak this evening is available from sources other than the Estimates Committee debate. It has been made available to me by Senator Carrick and by Mr Hunt. I believe that Senator Guilfoyle has made this position clear on other occasions. I referred to the Estimates Committee debate because there was a very clear statement of the Government’s position. I submit that the material is relevant other than in relation to the Estimates Committee debate. I seek permission to continue.
- Senator Ryan, you must not refer to the Estimates Committee debates.
– Thank you, Mr President. The reason for my criticism of this decision is a very practical one. It will mean a decrease in the resources available to women’s refuges throughout Australia. It will mean in some cases the closure of women’s refuges. Indeed 2 women’s refuges in Queensland have already been closed as a result of the Federal Government’s decision to cease funding and to hand its responsibility to the Queensland Government. In practical terms this means that many women and children who would have been able to seek assistance from refuges will not have that source of assistance. I raise this matter tonight to draw attention to the difficulties faced by these women and children, in the hope that the Government may reconsider its policy and may give consideration to continued assistance.
I wish to make a few remarks on the background of women’s refuges. They are a community initiative. They were begun by women who were committed to assisting other women experiencing the trauma of domestic violence or some other domestic crisis. I would have thought that the self help concept so admirably demonstrated in the operation of women’s refuges would have recommended itself to those who profess a Liberal philosophy. I would have also thought that these refuges would have recommended themselves to the present Government for another reason. They are extremely efficient in economic terms. For example, they prevent the break-up of families and the subsequent institutionalisation of families which is, as the Minister and other honourable senators are aware, a very expensive process. In many cases they provide short term assistance which enables women and their families to continue a normal existence afterwards. They are often the stepping stone for women towards economic independence or a more peaceful arrangement with their husbands whom they have had to leave. I submit to the Senate that the provision of normal welfare type services, normal welfare type housing for families in distress, homes for children and so on is a much more expensive operation than the subsidisation of women’s refuges for a few thousand dollars a year to enable them to provide the sort of assistance that they do provide.
There has been a great growth in the number of refuges in Australia in the past 2 years, and the growth itself demonstrates that there is a need. I should like to cite figures prepared by the National Women’s Refuge Co-operative, which show that 23 refuges are operating in Australia, although the 2 refuges in Queensland have been closed down. In their period of operation the refuges have assisted 1 1 985 women and children. The figures show that there are 10 refuges in New South Wales, two in the Australian Capital Territory, two in Victoria, two in Tasmania, two in South Australia, three in Western Australia, one in the Northern Territory and two in Queensland. To date three of those refuges have received no funding. The others are funded mainly through the community health program. The Labor Government, having recognised the need which was demonstrated for the establishment of these refuges, agreed to fund them through the community health program. But the refuges funded by that method are now facing a reduction in the real allocation of support, and most of the other refuges which have been established since the defeat of the Labor Government receive no support at all.
The question I would like to put to the Senate and in particular to the Minister for Social Security tonight is: Why has the Federal Government abandoned the refuges? Is it simply a rigid adherence to the federalism policy, to the technique of passing difficult responsibilities back to the States? I do not think that there can be any argument in this case along the line of devolution of responsibility because the refuges are run on an autonomous, self-regulating basis. Or has the Federal Government abandoned the refuges because of lack of concern by it about the particular kinds of distressed women and children who find themselves in refuges? It is certainly true that many of the women in the refuges are poor, they are unskilled, they are in poor physical and mental health, and they are without alternative resources to cope with the crisis which faces them. The Prime Minister, Mr Malcolm Fraser, and the Minister for Social Security have repeatedly stated in and outside the Parliament that their Government is concerned about providing assistance to the most needy. I submit to the Senate that there are probably no more needy persons than some of those who find themselves in women’s refuges. There seems to me to be no administrative reason, even given federalism, why the Federal Government cannot continue to provide direct assistance to the refuges.
Under the Act which the Minister for Social Security administers, the Minister has responsibility for many Federal programs. They include pensions, unemployment benefits, the administration of the Homeless Persons Act and so on. So it seems to me that a national refuge program would fit in logically with the other Federal responsibilities of the Minister. I have been told by spokeswoman from the refuges, who I might point out have now made two fairly fruitless and expensive trips to Canberra to seek assistance, that the Minister has discussed the possibility of introducing some time in the future a Bill for the funding of women’s refuges on a national basis. If the Minister is contemplating the introduction of such a Bill- that is, if she is contemplating accepting Federal responsibility for the refuges in the future- how can she reconcile that with the present position of herself and the Government that the refuges are to be a State responsibility? I believe that the Minister must know, as any honourable senators who concern themselves with this subject must know, of the difficulties currently faced by all the refuges.
I do not know how many refuges the Minister has visited personally, and I would be interested to know the number. But I am sure that she has been given evidence from people concerned with refuges of the extreme difficulties. I am sure she would be aware that refuges receiving assistance receive only partial assistance for basic matters such as rent and some part time assistance and that they are in the main reliant on voluntary assistance. I can vouch because of the refuges I have visited personally that voluntary assistance has been stretched to its fullest extent. The business of working on a voluntary basis on a roster in a refuge is a very hard and demoralising business. Not a great number of women are suited to this kind of work. Volunteers often find themselves unable to maintain their assistance to refuges in this way because of the excessively depressing and unhappy aspect of the work involved in running women’s refuges.
Women’s refuges have no organised fundraising bodies to assist them, as yet. They have no private source of funds to call on as many established charities do. Even refuges which are linked with established charities, such as the St Vincent de Paul refuge in Canberra, find themselves in extreme financial and administrative difficulties. I believe that the Minister must know that many refuges currently giving vital assistance to thousands of women and children throughout Australia will close down in the next few months if they do not receive assistance. I believe the Minister must know that in some States at least assistance will not be forthcoming and that many refuges will be beyond saving by the time the Government gets round to a national Bill for funding refuges, if it does. The refuges were an initiative by women to help other women, and that initiative gained the support of the Whitlam Government. The Fraser Government has inherited the responsibility of the women’s refuges and should accept the responsibility. Arguing federalism will not save the refuges and will not help the thousands of women and children who need this help. I raise the matter in the Senate tonight in the hope that the Government and the Minister will be persuaded to maintain existing refuges as viable and efficient operations by the direct allocation of Federal funds.
– I rise tonight primarily to obtain information from Senator Durack, who is the Minister representing the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations (Mr Street), on a very important trade union case. As you will appreciate, Mr President, it is necessary to preface my submissions by making an appeal for the reintroduction of parliamentary democracy. Let me say at the outset, Mr President, that as you know, I liken you to a football umpire. If players make mistakes the umpire has the whistle. The situation in which other members of the Opposition and I found ourselves this afternoon was something like the situation that occurred in October 1956 when Comrade Khrushchev, flanked by 2 Red Army generals, arrived in Warsaw and started to berate the presidium of the Communist Party of Poland. Gromulka ‘s response was: ‘We shed more blood than you did and we are not going to sell out to anyone’. My submission is that each back bench senator should be able to ask a question each day the Senate sits. I make no apology for that. If that is not adhered to I will use everything within the rules, subject to your rulings, Mr President, to protest.
I sat on a Committee for a few months with some very capable parliamentarians- representative Dr Harry Jenkins and Sir Magnus Cormack, among others- and we got a massive report about parliamentary democracy. If others and I are to be denied the right to ask one question per day it is very easy to write a lying letter to a constituent. Alternatively, I can tell the truth and say that I was guillotined. I say respectfully that Senator Withers today was very close to Comrade Khrushchev when he lectured the Poles in Warsaw. My reply is the same as that of comrade Gromulka, the Secretary-General of the Polish Communist Party. You can take only so much. Even Mr Speaker Snedden has referred to the need for parliamentary democracy. There is enough ability on either side of this chamber to enable equal use to be made of the times we sit during the 3 days on which we meet to provide for an individual question from each of the 64 senators in this chamber. Every question is important, as is the answer to it, to some section of the community. It does not matter whether a question is from my colleague Senator Geoff McLaren about the proletariat of Murray Bridge or from Senator Knight about buses in the Australian Capital Territory. Every honourable senator has a right to ask a question. Of course, how it is fielded rests with the Minister to whom the question is directed.
Two Ministers are now present in the chamber, namely, Senator Durack and Senator Guilfoyle! I know that Senator Durack has an answer to the matter to which I will come in a moment. I think Senator Guilfoyle will also appreciate what I am about to say. Last weekend, together with Senator Gietzelt, I was in Wollongong, which is a very militant trade union centre. As the representative in this chamber of the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs (Mr MacKellar), Senator Guilfoyle would know that there is a lot of interest in that area concerning Chilean refugees. Senator Guilfoyle gave me an in-depth answer on this subject not so long ago. People who may not always have a high opinion of the concept of parliamentary democracy said to me in relation to that subject: ‘At least you got an answer, Senator’. It meant that they could ask for even more of these people to come to Australia. I wonder what would happen if I went to the Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees Association, which has about 40 000 members, and said that the Leader of the Government in the Senate had pressed a button and I was denied the right to ask a question.
It so happens that providence gives many of us plenty of energy and I can now ask at 11.15 p.m. a question I could have asked much earlier today. I simply say that if we want to build up the image of Parliament we should provide in the first 60 minutes- 90 minutes in an extreme case- of each day an opportunity for every honourable senator to ask one question. We all post off letters in which we have included an encircled copy of an answer in Hansard. They may go to a parents and citizens association, a trade union or a fruit growers co-operative. That is what democracy is all about.
I believe that I am not asking for very much. With due respect I point out that a very fine British socialist, Hugh Gaitskell, believed in fighting and fighting again for something that he wanted. These are quite legitimate aspirations. I know that you have a very difficult job, Mr President, and I have always respected your rulings. But I repeat that if it is not I it will be my colleague from the rural areas of South Australia, Senator Geoff McLaren, who will be involved. We are not going to be silenced. We are entitled to answers to our questions. I can assure honourable senators that it would have been very simple for me to have written a letter tonight to the Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees Association and coloured it a little- I know how Senator Withers would appreciate if it I had done so- by saying that he was a reincarnation of Comrade Khrushchev and I was Brother Gomulka. I do not want to go over that again but I think that the analogy is fairly strong. All sorts of publications on the modern Parliament come to us from parliamentary associations. To me the prime factor is the right of every honourable senator to ask one question every day. I have belaboured that point enough. It is there for the record.
I revert to a basic matter, that is, the continuation of what the former Minister for Labor, the Honourable Clyde Cameron, attempted to do to circumvent the deadhand ruling in the Moore v Doyle case and what it has meant to trade unions which want genuine consolidation. We have got over the stage of amalgamations being regarded as being evil, as they are not. I could talk about that but I do not want to invite criticism from one Tasmanian senator at least as to whether people should be elected from the rank and file or whether the collegiate system of voting is a good one. This is not the time to get embroiled in such an argument. It will keep for another time and another place.
I simply return to the extensive litigation that has gone on involving the Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees Association between the forces of good personified by the Egan faction and the forces of reaction sponsored by 2 people by the name of Maher and Goldsworthy. Talking about the facilitating of trade union amalgamationsone could call them consolidations- I would like to know, as Senator Durack knows, how and when the Government can activate the judicial authority in such a way that we can get a speedy decision in this matter. I am not necessarily asking Senator Durack for that information. I recall talking to senior officers from the Department of Employment and Industrial Relations and asking when this difficulty would be surmounted. They said in this case of Egan and others and the Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees Association, until the judges give their ruling we just do not know how far we can go. This is a matter that besets the trade union movement. I would like to think that this matter could be wrapped up by some time in November so that the component parts of the Australian Council of Trade Unions can get moving on it. As I say, this was a very simple matter. I know that Senator Durack was ready and willing to give an answer but other influences intervened. I will not labour the point but will leave the matter to Senator Durack.
– I also rise to express my concern about the inability of honourable senators on occasions to ask questions. I am not blaming you for it, Mr President. I am blaming some of the Ministers who give long-winded answers. I wanted to ask a very important question today but was not able to do so, so I will raise the matter tonight. Before I pose the question to Senator Durack and ask for his co-operation in supplying me with an answer to it I want to quote from Hansard of 23 September this year at page 883. This matter relates to a reply given by the Minister for Administrative Services (Senator Withers) to a question asked by Senator Archer dealing with the late delivery of Hansard. I do not want to explore the position of the late delivery of Hansard because I think that it has been adequately explored by my colleague Senator Douglas McClelland. In reply to Senator Archer, Senator Withers had this to say:
I think the problem can be revealed from a newspaper cutting which I have here.
I do not know for how long he carried that newspaper cutting around in his pocket hoping for an opportunity to use it, but Senator Archer gave him the opportunity on 23 September. He went on to say:
It carries a New York dateline and I particularly draw it to the attention of Senator McLaren and some other honourable senators. It reads as follows:
A State representative has proposed that any member of the House who speaks longer than 3 minutes be ‘shot, stuffed and displayed in a glass case in the State Museum ‘.
I could probably throw that quotation back at Senator Withers so that he could apply it to some of his ministerial colleagues who give longwinded answers to questions. We heard a couple of such answers today and I think that that is why Senator Mulvihill became upset. He could not ask his question because question time was taken up by answers, which in my view were unduly long, to questions which any person who had been in this place for longer than 6 months would realise were Dorothy Dixers.
– A lot of them were not answers.
– There were no answers to questions from this side but there were answers given to Government supporters. It is impossible for any Minister to carry such answers in his head, particularly to scientific questions. Long-winded answers take up the time of the Senate.
I want to refer now to the matter which I had hoped to raise today because it is of great importance to the wine grape growers of South Australia and in particular to the brandy manufacturers. Last week I sought some information from the Department of Science. I want to thank the Minister for Science (Senator Webster) and the officers of his Department for their prompt answer which I received by way of letter today. I have no complaint there at all. What I was seeking was some information about a report which was prepared by Mr C. A. Young, the principal chemist of the Australian Government Analytical Laboratory, New South Wales, commonly known as AGAL, on his overseas visit in 1974. For the information of the Senate I would just like to say that when the Whitlam Government was in office Senator Donald Cameron and I repeatedly made representations to the then Minister for Customs and Excise, Senator Murphy, on the matter of imported cheap brandy of very doubtful quality. I would think, although I cannot verify it, that because of our persistence in making representations to the then Minister for Customs and Excise Mr Young was sent overseas to do some research on the authenticity of the quality of brandy and its origins, whether made from grapes, potato peelings, pears or what have you. The Minister for Science in his letter to me today said:
As was indicated to you by-
He referred to an officer of his Department whom I will not name- the report was prepared on behalf of the Bureau of Customs, and, as such, is confidential to the Department of Business and Consumer Affairs. I regret that I am unable to provide a copy of that report to you, but you may care to pursue the matter with the Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs.
That is the reason I raise this matter tonight and draw it to the attention of Senator Durack, the Minister who in this chamber represents the Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs. I ask the Minister whether he will take the necessary action to make public the report prepared for the Bureau of Customs and Excise by Mr C. A. Young, principal chemist with the Australian Government Analytical Laboratory, New South Wales, following his overseas visit in 1 974. As I have explained, that visit took place and that information was conveyed to me by Senator Webster. As the contents of this report are of vital importance to grape growers and brandy producers in South Australia, I further ask the Minister to treat my request tonight with the greatest degree of urgency.
I make that request because I have been approached by brandy manufacturers in the Riverland area of South Australia to ascertain the fate of this report and to do all I can to see that it is made a public document so that they in turn can learn the findings of Mr Young following his trip overseas. It would not require a very long visit to the Riverland to convince anyone that the brandy storages there are bursting at the seams with good quality Australian brandy.
– No doubt it would be poison, as my honourable friend on the Government side says, if one drank too much of it. We are not going to prevent Australians drinking brandy, but if they are to drink it let us ensure that it is good quality Australian brandy, not some inferior imported brandy such as that which is sold in many night clubs, doctored with coca cola or whatever, and presented to unsuspecting people as Australian brandy. Such people would not be able to tell the difference if it was laced with some other commodity. In the interests of the wine grape growers and the brandy producers, I ask the Minister to see whether it is possible to have that report tabled at the earliest practicable time, and not keep me waiting for as long as the Leader of the Government (Senator Withers) has kept me waiting for the tabling of the River Murray Waters Agreement report.
– It will be 20 years on Saturday since the brave Hungarian people, led in great part by workers and students, rose against the Stalinist dictatorship which had for many years held them in bondage. For a brief 2 weeks it looked as though democracy would come to the people of
Hungary, that basic human rights would be restored and that freedom would again flower in that country. But this hope was dashed by the brutal crushing of the uprising by the totalitarian power of Soviet armed might. So I seek leave of the Senate to have incorporated in Hansard on this occasion 2 pages containing the summary of conclusions of the United Nations Special Committee on Hungary.
– I must say that I have inspected the material which Senator Harradine seeks to have incorporated. I can see no impediment to such an incorporation. Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
The document read as follows-
Summary of Conclusions
– I thank the Senate. I had not intended to talk about the other matter, but since Senator Mulvihill has raised it I think the Senate ought to be made aware of the fact that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. I was sorry to hear Senator Mulvihill use simplistic terms to describe a major problem facing trade unions in Australia. The problem arises from the existence and operation of section 171d of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. Senator Mulvihill ‘s saying that the goodies are against the baddies, or vice versa, and then naming the goodies and the baddies, does little credit to him and certainly does little credit to the whole of the trade union movement in Australia.
Reference was made to the Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees Association. Let me remind the Senate that that organisation is a federation of 7 branches, and that in fact six of the 7 branches desire to see that organisation function properly. But when it attempts to hold its meetings one branch, led by Mr Egan, walks out of the organisation and thus frustrates the work of that organisation which has 141 258 members. I thoroughly agree with Senator Mulvihill when he says that matters should not have gone on for as long as they have. Court proceedings were instituted by Mr Egan the month after section 17 Id was inserted into the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. Thus far those proceedings have cost the taxpayer more than $250,000. If the Act were changed to enable a simple re-registration procedure to take place when a union found through some technicality that it was not able to function, that problem could be overcome by the use of an 18c stamp.
I do not propose to keep the Senate by going into a long explanation about this matter. I agree with Senator Mulvihill when he says that it is extraordinary that so much money has been expended when the matter could have been resolved either by Mr Egan attending meetings and thus enabling the union to function with a quorum or by the reputed rule making bodiesthat is to say, the other branches- being able to seek registration of such rules as would enable the organisation to function in a technical fashion. Let me say to the Senate and to the people throughout Australia, including employers who might seek to take advantage of the situation, that the Queensland Branch, the Newcastle and Northern Branch, the Victorian Branch, the Tasmanian Branch, the South Australian Branch and the Western Australian Branch of the Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees Association are functioning effectively in the industrial interests of their members. Let no one think that just because of a technicality they can take advantage of any of the members of the organisation.
– I will not delay the Senate long to respond to Senator Ryan, who raised the matter of women’s refuges. It is a matter that is of concern to me. I share her concern about many of the things which were raised. She fairly asked: What has been the Government’s policy with regard to the women’s shelters and the community health program being handed to the States. On 2 1 September in answer to Senator Walters I stated that the Government had given block grants to the States, announcing that it placed emphasis on the development of community based health services and, at the same time, the Commonwealth Government expressed its concern to promote its policies in an environment where it wants Commonwealth involvement in the supervision of the expenditure of money by the States kept to a minimum. I agree that in Queensland, despite the fact that bulk grants were forwarded to that State, women’s refuges have not been funded by the Government. It was previously announced that the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) has written to the Premier of Queensland drawing his attention to this service which was provided previously and for which block grants had been made. I am not aware of any response which has been received from the Premier of Queensland in this matter.
I have had discussions with a deputation of members representing women’s refuges. I have met many members in other States who are conducting refuges. I have told them that the Homeless Persons Assistance Act will, on its expiry after 3 years of experience, need to be reviewed. This is one area where we may, in the future, be able to look for some means of assisting the support of refuges and crisis centres. Whether the States will continue with the community health programs which have been established is a matter that will need to be dealt with at some time in the future. It is also fair tq say that the Prime Minister and I and other Ministers met representatives of a very wide cross section of women ‘s groups recently. The Prime Minister expressed his hope that a national advisory committee on women’s matters would be formed. He hoped that that Committee would be instrumental in putting forward programs and matters that are of concern and of interest to women in Australia. I shall bring these matters which have been raised this evening with regard to women’s refuges under the community health program to the attention of the Minister for Health (Mr Hunt). The Prime Minister has written to the
Premier of Queensland with regard to the two centres in that State.
– I rise to deal with the matters raised by Senator Mulvihill and Senator McLaren. I do not propose to deal with the general complaint raised by Senator Mulvihill in regard to his inability to ask a question today, except to comment that there is, of course, question time every day. It is the common experience of honourable senators that if they do not ask a question one day they ask it the next day. Mr President, I am sure that you always accord them that opportunity. It is rather ironical to hear that complaint from Senator Mulvihill. In the first years when I was in the Senate, in 1971 and 1972, when a Liberal-National Country Party Government was in office, question time used to go on at great length. It was only after the election of an Australian Labor Party government that Senator Murphy, the then Leader of the Government in the Senate, altered that rule and question time went for one hour. I think honourable senators opposite have been hoist on their own petard.
– How was it altered by rule?
– It was altered by Senator Murphy. There is no question about that at all. Senator Mulvihill raised a substantive matter of importance concerning the very vexed problem of the judgment in Moore v Doyle. It is a fact that he did give me the opportunity to obtain some information on the question which he hoped to ask today. The information, that 1 have obtained from my colleague, the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations (Mr Street), is that the
Commonwealth has done all that it can do to give effect to the recommendations of the committee of inquiry constituted by Mr Justice Sweeney to find solutions to the problems thrown up by that case. It now remains for the State governments to introduce legislation to complement the Commonwealth legislation on this matter. The current litigation involving the Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees Association does not constitute an obstacle to the legislation relating to the Moore v Doyle judgment being implemented. It does indicate the need for that legislation and for complementary State legislation which will enable one system of trade union organisation in Australia. The Minister said that he cannot indicate when this litigation will be finalised. In view of its past history I am not surprised that he will not hazard a guess as far as that is concerned.
As to the matter raised by Senator McLaren, I certainly will take up the matter with the Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs (Mr Howard). I had not been given any prior notice that the honourable Senator intended to raise this matter tonight otherwise I might have been able to obtain information for him. However, I shall pass the matter on to the Minister as soon as I can get in touch with him tomorrow. I will emphasise to him the request by Senator McLaren that this matter be treated urgently. I trust that we are able to have a better record on that than on some other matter which Senator McLaren has mentioned.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 1 1.43 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, upon notice:
What direct Australian Government assistance has been provided to each Aboriginal reserve in Queensland since December 1972.
– The Minister for Aboriginal Affairs has provided the following reply to the honourable senator’s question:
The following direct grant funds have been provided since December 1972 to Councils established under the (Queensland) Aborigines Act 1971-75 and (Queensland) Torres Strait Islanders Act 1 97 1 -75 and which are located on reserves established under that legislation:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, upon notice:
– The Minister for Aboriginal Affairs has provided the following reply to the honourable senator’s question:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Post and Telecommunications, upon notice:
– The Minister for Post and Telecommunications has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Post and Telecommunications, upon notice:
– The Minister for Post and Telecommunications has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, upon notice:
– The Minister for Aboriginal Affairs has provided the following reply to the honourable senator’s question:
1970-71 -$10,000; 1 97 1-72- $ 12,500; 1972-73-$16,000; I973-74-S9 1,400; 1974-75-$50,000; 1975-76 -$75,000.
No specific provision was made in respect of any publication of the Foundation.
On 10 September 1975 the Foundation was advised that funds were provided on the condition that they were used to finance the publication Aboriginal and Islander Identity, and were not to be used to finance any other publication or any new items. This advice was confirmed on 12 December 1975 and accepted by the Foundation on 15December 1975.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, upon notice:
In view of the fact that large sections of the Hay report appeared in an article by Anthony Hill in the Financial Review dated 15 August 1976, will the Minister agree to release the entire report so that the Parliament and the community can gain a balanced view of its contents and recommendations.
The Hay report was tabled on 5 October 1976.
Aboriginal Affairs: Funds Provided in Kempsey Area (Question No. 1000)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, upon notice:
February 1974- $32,000 to Kempsey Municipal Council for Special Work Project grant to employ 4 men for 12 months on various projects on Green Hill Reserve.
November 1974- $48,000 to Kempsey Municipal Council for Special Work Project to employ 6 men for 12 months on footpath concreting, kerbing and guttering.
February 1975- $1,000 to Lower Macleay Aboriginal Advancement Association for a funeral fund.
February 1976- $690 to Aboriginal Lands Trust for water and drainage connection to toilet and ablution block at South West Rocks.
March 1 976-$ 1 ,300 to Kempsey Municipal Council for connection of electricity to South West Rocks ablution and toilet block.
May 1976- $111 to Kempsey Municipal Council for wiring ablution and toilet block.
May 1976-$20,000 to Nulla Nulla Progress Association for tractor and implements, fencing equipment and trailer for Nulla Nulla Reserve.
June 1976-51,550 to Clark Brick Ltd, South Kempsey, to employ an Aboriginal (private Special Work Project scheme).
The South West Rocks ablution block was purchased for $ 1 4,000 in May 1 975 by the New South Wales Department of Youth and Community Services with funds provided by the Department of Aboriginal Affairs.
In addition, funds made available through Department of Aboriginal Affairs, have assisted the following projects of direct benefit to Aboriginals in the Kempsey area;
Housing: 10 completed houses and three more houses under construction.
The State Department of Education employs two Departmentally funded teacher aides at Kempsey schools
The New South Wales Department of Technical and Further Education is conducting an 1 8 week course in office-training for 1 5 Aboriginal girls at Kempsey
The Save the Children Fund operates a pre-school at Kempsey which caters for an average of 50 Aboriginal children per day.
Health: The State Health Commission employs one Aboriginal community health worker and one community nurse under its Aboriginal health program at Kempsey.
Employment: The New South Wales Soil Conservation Service employs two Aboriginals at Kempsey and the State Forestry has two Aboriginals employed in the area.
The South West Rocks, Greenhills, Burnt Bridge and Bellbrook Reserves near Kempsey are vested in the State Aboriginal Lands Trust which is subsidised by the Department for pan of the costs of maintaining reserves. More than $3,500 was spent on these four reserves. The Lands Trust is also funded to employ a handyman at Bellbrook.
Legal Aid: The Grafton Office of the Aboriginal Legal Service serves Kempsey.
Welfare: The Kempsey District office of the Department of Youth and Community Services is funded to employ a young Aboriginal clerical assistant.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, upon notice:
Has the Depanment of Aboriginal Affairs investigated the proposed funding of an Aboriginal clothing factory in Brisbane referred to in an article in the Brisbane Sunday Sun dated S September 1976. If so, (a) what are the details of the proposal, including the level of funding sought; (b) has a final decision been taken and, if so, what was the decision; and (c) if the proposal has been shelved, as is indicated in the Sunday Sun article, were those associated with the proposal, including Mr Hiram Ryan, previously given any indication by the Department that their proposal would be approved.
Mr Hiram Ryan has made informal contacts with the Brisbane Regional office of the Department of Aboriginal Affairs but has not submitted a formal application for funds. I understand that he is taking action to form a company and to formulate a detailed application for funds. No undertaking can be given in respect of support for the project through the Department of Aboriginal Affairs until a formal application has been received.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, upon notice:
What action, if any, is the Department of Aboriginal Affairs taking, either alone or in conjunction with the Queensland Government, to grant land rights to Aboriginals living in Queensland.
The question of Aboriginal land rights is one of Government policy, rather than departmental action. As I said in my second reading speech on the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Bill on 4 June, I am sure that the progressive legislation introduced by the Commonwealth for the Northern Territory will be studied with interest in the States with respect to their land.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Post and Telecommunications, upon notice:
What is the full text of the memorandum/instruction sent recently to all Australian Broadcasting Commission staff by the Federal Comptroller of News Services of the Commission, Mr Keith Fraser, relating to objectivity in the presentation of the Commission’s television and radio programs.
– The Minister for Post and Telecommunications has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
No such instruction was issued recently to Australian Broadcasting Commission staff by the ABC’s Controller of News Services, Mr Keith Fraser.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, upon notice:
To what extent does the Australian Department of Aboriginal Affairs recognise the Queensland Aborigines Advisory Council as representative of the views of Queensland Aborigines.
The Queensland Aboriginal Advisory Council is established by section 37 of the Queensland Aborigines Act ( 1 97 1 ), which specifies that the Council ‘shall be constituted by all the persons who, at the material time, are the chairmen of Aboriginal Councils established for the reserves’. The Council is therefore intended to be representative of the Aboriginal people living on Aboriginal reserves in Queensland.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 20 October 1976, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1976/19761020_senate_30_s69/>.