30th Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Condor Laucke) took the chair at 1 1 a.m., and read prayers.
– I present a petition from 34 citizens of Australia. As it exceeds 250 words in length, I move:
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.
– A petition has been lodged for presentation as follows:
To the Honourable the President and Members of the Senate in Parliament assembled. The petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth objection to the Metric system and request the Government to restore the Imperial system.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Senator Rae.
– I ask the Minister for Education whether the grants funded by the Federal Government for Master of Science research number 600 for universities but only 25 for colleges of advanced education. Can the Minister justify or explain this disparity, especially in the light of the apparent equality of facilities and quality of teaching afforded by both universities and colleges of advanced education?
– I am not aware of the exact figures touching this matter. The situation of course is that, traditionally, greater emphasis has been placed on research and post-graduate work in universities than in colleges of advanced education. It is true that colleges have high standards of distinctive education, but equally, by its nature, the college is directed primarily to vocation and vocational training rather than to other matters. Because I am in some doubt about the precise figures and therefore the consequences of the question I shall obtain an answer for the honourable senator.
-Can the Minister representing the Minister for Defence confirm that the South Australian Premier has announced that he will not allow cadets in South Australian state schools? Does the Government propose to take any action in this matter?
-The Premier of South Australia, Mr Dunstan, has announced that the South Australian Government does not approve the reintroduction of cadet units into South Australia’s state schools. Mr Dunstan stated that there is no evidence of a demand for such units and that the former scheme had so declined in popularity that by 1974 there were only 300 cadets in state schools. The Army office figures for the July-September 1975 quarter show that 8 state schools had units with an enrolment of 620 cadets.
– That is not very many.
-The Premier is only 50 per cent out- only 300 cadets out.
– That does not answer the question.
-You fellows really do bite. The Premier said that there were only 300 cadets in state schools. I am saying that in but 8 state schools there were 620 cadets. That is rather a large difference. So much for Mr Dunstan ‘s accuracy. In view of the fact that the State Government’s approval is required, the Government does hope that further consideration will be given to the request that cadets be reintroduced into those schools.
– I direct my question to the Minister for Administrative Services. I remind him that seven or eight Thursdays ago while the Senate was dealing with general business I proposed that the Australian Government accelerate certain land withdrawals. I instanced the case of the Moore Park engineers depot in Sydney and the additional sports stadium facilities that could be provided on that land. Since then has the Minister been able to get from his officers details on the progress of this land release?
-I think a lot of land in New South Wales comes within this category. There is the foreshore land. There is land at Woolloomooloo.
-And at Holsworthy. I think there is also some land that the Commonwealth has in the electorate of Phillip. I cannot state with precision where it is, but the honourable senator would no doubt know. Discussions are continuing with New South Wales on this matter. We are anxious to bring about as speedy a conclusion as we can both for our sake and for the sake of the New South Wales Government.
– Has the Minister for Education been made aware of alleged proposals that in order to avoid the conditions applying to the award of Tertiary Education Assistance Scheme allowances students should consider entering into marriages of convenience? Can the Minister identify the source of these suggestions? Can he advise the Senate whether or not there has been any fundamental change in the policy of the Government which would make such a course of action either desirable or necessary?
– I have read in the Press and heard on the radio and television media suggestions that a number of students propose to enter into marriages of convenience to qualify for independent status for the purpose of the tertiary allowance. The suggestion implied is that there is something new in the circumstances that would bring this about. Over the past decade or more under the old scholarship scheme and under the current scheme- a new scheme is to be introduced next year- it has always been possible for two people who enter into marriage to establish an independent state. The simple situation is that the test of an independent state is that a person is either an orphan, a ward of the State, over 25 years of age or married. That has been so throughout the Whitlam Government’s term of office and throughout this year and remains unchanged.
The question really arises out of the fact that there is a continuance on our part of a 2-year qualifying period for independence of students. This is to establish under a means test whether a student is genuinely independent or whether he is sub rosa being supported by his family and therefore should not be supported by the taxpayer. I want to draw to the attention of honourable senators the fact that the 2-year period has applied throughout past years. It is not new. The Williams Committee which was set up by the Whitlam Government recommended its retention, and I will read extracts from its report. The Williams Committee said with regard to the second issue, the age of independence: the Committee saw no sound reason for reducing the period of self support from 2 years to one year.
The Committee went on to emphasise: . . that independent status should only be accorded students who have adequately demonstrated by their level of income over at least 2 years that they have genuinely supported themselves without the need for parental support or substantial support from any other individual.
I remind the Senate that the Williams Committee had on it the then President of the Australian Union of Students and I imagine, since there is no dissenting report, that this is the view put forward by the AUS. There is no change in the situation and there is no reason in the future for there to be an attraction to marriages of convenience any more than there has been in the past at any stage of the journey for people to make such a pragmatic decision in order to qualify. I still have a belief in the stars. My own view is that students and others will continue to have better, far more attractive and more valid grounds for marriage than the one suggested.
– My question is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Is it a fact that a Minister of the Australian
Government personally has approved a special grant to Mr Albert Patrick Field, a former senator for Queensland, to cover an item listed as legal expenses? If so, what legal expenses are involved and why has approval been given for the cost to be met by the Australian Government?
-It is true that Mr Field, a one-time senator in this place, has had paid his fees in respect of a High Court action concerning his qualifications to sit in this place. They were paid on 2 grounds. Firstly, a previous writ issued in which the qualification of a senator, namely Senator Webster, was in doubt. The then Whitlam Government provided all costs for all parties. That was thought to be a proper, reasonable and sensible thing to do.
– There is no analogy between the 2 cases.
– There is no analogy because the second writ, and I say this without any apology, was a straight political stunt by the Australian Labor Party to gain cheap political ends. Therefore, it was not really a genuine attack on the qualification of the former senator but an attempt to further a mean political purpose. The Government had no hesitation in paying the costs incurred. After all, if my memory serves me correctly, the writ was issued but never proceeded with. It was just a straight political stunt by the Labor Party using some person as a vehicle.
- Mr President, I wish to ask a supplementary question.
-I call Senator Colston.
-I did ask what legal expenses were involved. I now ask the Minister whether he will inform the Senate.
-I said that they were legal expenses involved as the result of a High Court action commenced against-
– How much?
– You did not ask how much. You asked about what expenses were involved. They are the expenses involved in defending a writ issued by the Labor Party for cheap political purposes.
- Mr President, I wish to ask a further supplementary question.
– I call Senator Colston.
– I ask: How much was involved?
- Mr President, now he has asked the proper question. I do not carry the exact figure in my head. It was a little more than $900. 1 will seek the exact figure for the honourable senator.
– What is the point of this? You will not answer questions.
– I am not going to take that sort of stupid interjection from Senator Douglas McClelland.
– You will take what you get. If you deal it out. you will take it.
-Oh! Listen ro Mr Grimes flexing his muscles. If I had been asked how much was paid, I would have given the last answer that I gave. I was not asked that in the first 2 questions directed to me. If honourable senators have not the capacity to put together a proper question, they cannot expect me to guess what it ought to be.
– I ask my question of the Minister representing the Minister for the Northern Territory. It relates to the Darwin Reconstruction Commission. As a brief preamble, I point out that the Darwin Reconstruction Commission was set up last year by a Federal Act and, because of its role, has a limited life. In reconstructing Darwin after cyclone Tracy it has done a magnificent job producing some 6 to 8 houses a day, 7 days a week. Having in mind the considerable public discussion taking place amongst the most notable figures in the Darwin Reconstruction Commission in the Northern Territory in regard to the winding up of the Commission and setting up a single housing authority for the Northern Territory, I ask: What action does the Government intend to take with regard to winding up the Darwin Reconstruction Commission, and when? What authority is to take over the role of the Darwin Reconstruction Commission? Will the Government consider setting up an authority, merging the activities and roles of the Darwin Reconstruction Commission, the Northern Territory Housing Commission and the Department of Construction into one single Northern Territory housing authority?
– I think the community generally would give credit to the work that has been done by the Darwin Reconstruction Commission. In my view, it has done a remarkable piece of work during its term of authority. I understand that its task will be completed well ahead of the 5 years which Senator Kilgariffindicated was its term of office. I understand that the
Minister for the Northern Territory will be submitting to Cabinet a proposal regarding the future of the Darwin Reconstruction Commission and that that is to be provided in the not distant future. I note Senator Kilgariff’s proposition that various housing authorities should be merged in the Northern Territory. Undoubtedly his proposal has some attraction. I shall bring that proposal to the notice of the Minister for the Northern Territory and provide his response to the honourable senator.
– My question is addressed to the Minister Assisting the Prime Minister in Federal Affairs. Will the level of financial assistance for local government be the major influence in determining the level of rate increases in the current financial year?
– The level of financial assistance to local government will help the States, as the federal body of local government associations has indicated, not to increase their rates as substantially as they would have had the level of assistance been along the lines of the Whitlam Government’s source of finance. Honourable senators will recall that the Local Government Association indicated its immense gratification that the untied grants for local government would be raised to $140m as distinct from $79.9m. The Association said that this would help to keep rates down. I remind the honourable senator that during the period of the Whitlam Government there was a record increase in rates due to record inflation and to the fact that it was impossible with rating revenue alone to have sufficient funds even to carry out basic services. So I think the answer basically is that the extra money local government is getting will be helpful in abating rates and in providing other services.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Social Security who assists the Prime Minister in child care matters. It refers to an Australian Bureau of Statistics publication released this month titled Persons not in the Work Force. At page 12 of this publication figures indicate that there are 285 000 women with children 14 years of age or under who would like to work if proper child care arrangements were available. Does the Minister consider that the reduced allocation of funds for child care in the recent Lynch Budget and the reduced resources for planning and administration following the abolition of the Children’s Commission, will enable the mounting of a child care program adequate to meet the needs of the children of these 285 000 women who wish to exercise their choice of undertaking paid employment?
– The matters raised by the honourable senator with regard to the number of women with children who would like to enter the Australian work force are known to me. The matter of child care facilities and resources comes within my Department and in this answer I am speaking as Minister responsible, not as Minister assisting the Prime Minister. The subject raised is actively under consideration. What was said about the depletion of resources for planning and administration following the transfer of that matter to the Department of Social Security instead of its remaining as an interim committee of the Children’s Commission, was not accurate because all officers were transferred to the Department of Social Security. The strength of that office is similar to its strength prior to the transfer to the Department of Social Security. I hope to be making an announcement on Monday or Tuesday of next week about our plans for the expenditure of the $73. 3m provided in this year’s Budget for children ‘s services.
I would like to say one other thing about the 285 000 women who may wish to enter the work force. I see another problem as being a very real one, that is, the lack of employment opportunities for women and others in the Australian community at present. It has been drawn to our attention that in some States child care facilities are not fully utilised at present- this would be so in some areas outside metropolitan citiesbecause of the lack of availability of suitable employment for women. I think this is another matter of concern to all of us who wish to see that women are able to exercise their own choice in the way in which they determine their own lives consistent with their family responsibilities. An early statement will be made about this year’s program.
-My question to the Minister Assisting the Prime Minister in Federal Affairs follows a previous question about local government rates. Following the recent increases in rates in Tasmania, has the Minister any facts relating to increases in local government rates in Tasmania during the 1970s?
– The Senate will recall that Senator Wriedt and, I think, one or more other honourable senators yesterday, raised the point about the increases in rates. Today I have the tables in front of me. It is the request of the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate that they be tabled, and I will be happy to do so. May I first of all establish the validity. The source of the information is the document entitled The Joint Study into Local Goverment Finances Australia and New Zealand 1976. This study was commissioned by the Whitlam Government. Let me reply to Senator Walters since she directs her attention to Tasmania. The document shows that on the base year of 1 970-7 1 , the second last year of the then Liberal Government, the rate burden in Tasmania increased in 1971-72 by 14.2 per cent, in 1972-73 by 26.9 per cent, in 1973-74 by 38.6 per cent and in 1974-75 by 93.3 per cent. The Senate will recall that I was questioned on the validity of my statement that individual councils had put up their rates by some 30-50 per cent. Lest it should be felt that the Tasmanian figures are atypical, let me refer to South Australia. The figures here are interesting. On the base year of 1970-71, the rate burden increased in 1971-72 by 9.6 per cent, in 1972-73 by 22.9 per cent, in 1973-74 by 46.5 per cent, and in 1974-75 by 78.1 per cent. Just so that one can feel comfortable, I point out that in New South Wales, on the base year of 1970-71, the burden in 1974-75 increased by 67.1 per cent. On the same base year the increase in 1974-75 in Victoria was 84.8 per cent and in Western Australia was 71.2 per cent. I ask leave to have this table incorporated in Hansard.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– My question addressed to the Minister Assisting the Prime Minister in Federal Affairs relates to local government rates. I wish to ask him another question about local government but unfortunately at the moment I am not able to follow up the figures he has just given, but I can assure him that I will pursue that matter in due course. My question now follows an earlier question by Senator Melzer about the effect on municipal rates of federal grants to local government. The Minister said that the payment of federal assistance to local government is a help- I stress the word ‘help’- to local government in keeping down its rate increases. I presume he has seen statements today to the effect that municipal rates in Victoria will increase by varying ranges but that apparently some of the increases will be in the area of 40 per cent to 60 per cent this year. In view of his answer to Senator Melzer in which he said, I repeat, that the assistance that the Federal Government gives is some help to the States, I ask whether he recalls an answer he gave to Senator Devitt on 2 1 September in which he said:
I am delighted to be able to say that due to an increase in federal untied grants to local government, for the first time in 4 years there will be a major abatement in rate increases throughout local government . . .
I emphasise his use of the words ‘due to’, I ask him whether he recalls also in the same answer saying that as a result of the increase from $80m to $140m in assistance to local government it would not be necessary for local government to raise rates by more than 5 per cent. In view of the total inconsistency of the answer given to Senator Devitt on 2 1 September with the answer given to Senator Melzer today, will the Minister retract the extravagant claim that he made on 2 1 September in the light of the increasing evidence that his claim then cannot possibly be substantiated?
– If the honourable senator had looked at my answer on 21 September and a series of other answers on the subject he would have had indicated to him that the claim that there was no need for rates to go up by more than 5 per cent was not made by me. It was made as a statement by me of a Press and other media announcement of the federal body of the Local Government Association.
– And endorsed by you?
– It was used as an indication by me of the fact that the most expert body on local government in Australia, having assessed the degree of increase- the 75 per cent increase- in untied grants to local government, said that its value judgment- not mine- was that rates need not go up by more than 5 per cent. So in truth once again what we have is a question based on misinformation. The real value judgment on this matter was made by the expert body. The expert body itself said that there is no need -
– You cannot hide behind people all the time, Senator.
-I am delighted that Senator Grimes said that, because I hope that he will direct his attention to the table which I have just had incorporated in Hansard. Let me remind him, to his expert joy, that using 1971-72 as a base year, we find that in 1973-74 the increase was 38.6 per cent and in 1974-75 under the Whitlam Government the increase was 93.3 per cent. The Australian Labor Party Opposition has the gall to talk about increasing rates and to say that we should not hide behind other people. Here are the facts. If indeed councils are putting up their rates at this moment that is the concern of 2 groups of authorities. In the first place, the State governments -
– Now you are blaming them.
-I do not want to be denied the nuances and overtones of Senator Wriedt because he consistently helps me. I remind the Senate that State governments have a traditional responsibility, which they have accepted, to provide funds each year for local government. May I remind Senator Wriedt and Senator Grimes that their State of Tasmania is awash with funds. It has some $21m worth of surplus funds. Nevertheless Tasmania has held on to that like a bower bird, has kept record unemployment, has kept local government starved and has cut back its funds. It is on that basis that the Labor Party is asking me why in various States rates have increased. It is the duty first of all of the States themselves to look towards extra funding. It is the duty of local government to decide whether it should fund more. Nevertheless the fact remains that last year the Whitlam Government gave $79.9m by way of untied grants. This year we have increased that by 75 per cent and given $140m. If Senator Wriedt is saying that that is insufficient, then demonstrably something that was half that value was grossly insufficient when Labor made its value judgments.
-I ask Senator Carrick a further question. It is always obvious when he finds a question difficult to answer, as was the case with the previous question. I will make this question as simple and direct as I possibly can. Is he now saying that he no longer accepts the calculations of the federal body of the Local Government Association of Australia?
– I have never either accepted or rejected those calculations. I have never said whether or not they were my views. The Leader of the Opposition in the Senate is now attacking the federal body of the Local Government Association. What he is saying is that the Local Government Association made a bad, inaccurate and wrong decision. The simple fact of the matter, is that I have always stated that the response of that body to this Government’s major increases in funds was that the increase in grants will result in abatement of rates. That was its statement; not mine.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Social Security. Is it a fact that pensioners who are required because of their income level to pay the Medibank levy can make arrangements with the Department of Social Security to have the standard Medibank levy deducted from their social security pension but are not permitted to have an extra amount deducted to provide cover for choice number 2 or number 3 as set out in the booklet circulated by the Commonwealth Department of Health? Will the Minister take immediate steps to enable pensioners to arrange with her Department to make any deductions necessary to cover them for the type of medical care they may desire?
– It is a fact that pensioners who are required to pay the levy may make arrangements with the Department of Social Security to have the standard Medibank levy deducted from the pension payments being made to them. Next Tuesday I will be announcing the program, and giving the information that will clarify this matter for pensioners and clarify the new income tests and other matters that 1 believe need to be advised to all of those people concerned. I shall investigate what has been suggested by the honourable senator with regard to private insurance. It will be understood that Medibank Private is in the same classification as any other private insurance fund. I shall have an investigation made with regard to the proposition put in the honourable senator’s question that this further deduction be made possible.
-Can the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry advise what steps have been taken to check the allegations made by the Canadian Minister for Agriculture that Australia is currently selling meat to Canada at prices unacceptably below the prices applicable to the United States? Should the allegations be correct, what action can be taken by the Government or the Australian Meat Board against those exporters who would prejudice this very valuable market? If they are not correct, what steps does the Minister intend taking to have the Canadian Government substantiate or retract the statements and, if necessary, name the true reason for its actions? Finally, what steps are proposed to renegotiate the export arrangements to the levels applicable until yesterday.
-1 do not have that information to hand. I shall seek it for the honourable senator.
-The answer to the third part of the question asked by Senator Colston earlier this morning is $906.40.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Prime Minister. I preface it by saying that I do not question the right of demonstrators; my question relates to the hypocrisy of the Government in extending a welcome to Lee Kuan Yew with one hand and with the other giving money to organisations which use these funds to promote demonstrations. Is the Minister aware of the reported statement by Lee Kuan Yew in the Age of 14 October that Australia was being used as a recruiting ground for the communist cause in South East Asia and that that program was being carried out in Australia by a united front organisation? Is he aware that Lee Kuan Yew said that the recruitment in Australia was done mainly by a central group, primarily Malaysian? Is the Minister aware of the publicly reported fact that one of the organisations behind the current demonstration is the Malaysian Union of Students in Australia which is heavily influenced by Australian Union of Student operators? Will the Minister confirm that that organisationMUSA is funded by the Commonwealth Government and that the funding is specifically for the purpose of holding an annual conference? Is the Minister aware that the annual conference of that organisation was held in May of this year at Minto, New South Wales, the venue of the Communist Party training course for many years? Is the Minister also aware that at that conference not only were policy decisions made against the Association of South East Asian Nations and for the Palestine Liberation Organisation, but also that discussions were held at public expense, concerning demonstrations against leaders of governments in South East Asia? Has the Prime Minister explained these inconsistencies to Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew? When will the Government explain the inconsistencies to the people of Australia?
-The honourable senator has asked a series of questions ranging over a number of portfolios. The best advice I can give to the honourable senator is to place the question on notice.
– My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Health. Is the Minister aware of reports that several doctors are currently being prosecuted for defrauding Medibank? I ask generally whether the Minister envisages alterations to the regulations, such as a provision for closer scrutiny of billing procedures, to ensure that fraudulent activities are prevented or made less likely to succeed.
– I have become aware of some Press statements in regard to the prosecution of doctors for defrauding Medibank in certain ways. I am not aware of what arrangements may have been made to overcome any abuse of the Medibank procedures, but I will refer the matter to the Minister for Health and obtain an answer for the honourable senator.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Science. The Minister may recall that last year the New South Wales Government was concerned that the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation fisheries research vessel Courageous might duplicate the research efforts of the New South Wales State Fisheries Division and operate within New South Wales waters. Will the Minister state where the Courageous is operating at present and on what projects? Can he assure the Senate that it is not duplicating the work of the New South Wales State Fisheries Division?
-One of the important research tools of CSIRO is a vessel named the Courageous which is at present stationed at Cronulla harbour. It works out of there for the Division of Fisheries and Oceanography. There has, over past years, been some discussion between the New South Wales Government and CSIRO relating to the work that both the New South Wales State Government and CSIRO may do concerning fisheries. I do not think oceanography is involved. Earlier this year I visited the Division and verified for myself that there was no duplication in the research carried out by CSIRO and the work done by the New South Wales Fisheries Department. When the Labor Party assumed office in New South Wales I paid a visit to the Minister in charge of State fisheries and discussed matters with him. In his view- I think I report him correctly- there certainly was no duplication of effort by the 2 research bodies. I have invited the responsible State Minister- I am not sure whether it is now the same Minister as previously- to come to Cronulla to see the work being done by CSIRO and the research work being carried out by the Courageous. As a matter of fact, that appointment was for tomorrow but the New South Wales Minister is unable to keep it. I think the honourable senator can be assurred that there is no duplication of work between the 2 research bodies.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Education. Is the Minister aware of figures released this week by the Department of Employment and Industrial Relations which show that Victoria has 961 registered unemployed professional people compared with the national total of 2558, and that these figures apply to 61 professional occupations? Can the Minister say whether his Department has any on-going research program to ensure that people seeking admission to universities and other institutions of professional training are fully apprised of the employment opportunities which are likely to be available on completion of study to obtain the necessary professional qualifications?
– I have seen the detailed analysis issued by the Department of Employment and Industrial Relations as it affects a wide range of professionally qualified people. It is a depressing situation that people with such qualifications should be unable to put them to use. We recognise this trend. The future of these people was a significant reason for our setting up the Committee of Inquiry into Education and Training. In Australia, the present unemployment rate, one hopes, is a temporary aberration to be corrected. We will strive to do that and to create not only more jobs but also more jobs in careers and professions. Nevertheless, it is fair to say that throughout the world at this moment an ugly and significant situation is developing amongst the young and amongst the professionally qualified young.
A growing situation is apparent in which, in terms of structural and technological unemployment, the heaviest impact is on the young. Therefore, one wonders and queries whether the kind of vocational training that post-secondary institutions are providing today is fully equipping the young for meaningful careers. Primarily, the inquiry instituted by the Government will be directed towards this end. Of course, that does not solve the immediate situation. If we examine the situation at the moment we will realise that one of the main areas of disaster arose from the collapse of the building and construction industries in the past 2 or 3 years and the immense depression that it has created in professions such as architecture, engineering, drafting and surveying. Just as the building industry is a barometer of prosperity or depression, ultimately those kinds of people must seek their careers again with the re-establishment of full employment.
– I ask the Minister for Education: Has his attention been drawn to numerous reports, including the headlines in yesterday’s Australian newspaper, calling for government initiatives to combat Australia’s illiteracy problem? Does the Minister acknowledge the presence of such a problem in Australia? If so, what is the Government prepared to do about it?
-If I heard Senator Cameron correctly, he asked me whether I had seen newspaper reports- in particular, in the Australian newspaper- regarding an alleged growing illiteracy problem. Yes, I have. Indeed, there have been numerous reports around Australia alleging that there is growing illiteracy. Only one sample test has been held up to now. The Australian Council for Educational Research recently conducted tests on 10-year olds and 14-year olds which showed a significant and appreciable degree of illiteracy, about which we should be concerned. As the honourable senator will appreciate, the difficulty that arises is that no previous evaluations have been carried out and we have no way of measuring the current level of illiteracy against past levels, so we do not know whether the situation is worsening. We are conducting evaluation tests so that in the future we can measure the degree of illiteracy to see whether we are making some inroads on illiteracy. We are aware that as more young people come forward and continue in the stream of secondary and senior secondary education, so the cross-section of people in years 10, 11 and 12 changes. What one might have been expecting in the past from what were perhaps the academic elite by the misfortunes of fate now are altered because, thank goodness, more students are receiving a higher education. We are examining this problem. I simply say to honourable senators that the Government appreciates that the basis of all education must be a sound grounding in basic skills. Without the basic skills of literacy and numeracy no kind of imaginative adventure and no kind of innovation in education can be successfully embarked upon.
– Is the Minister representing the Minister for the Northern Territory aware of an article which appeared in the Northern Territory News in Darwin on Friday, 15 October, concerning the slaughter of some 500 head of cattle on the Daly River Wildlife Sanctuary? It was alleged in this article that the animals were shot by a wildlife ranger about 10 days ago.
Will the Minister have this matter thoroughly investigated and ensure that the Aboriginal owners of these cattle, the Aboriginal grazing group known as the Unia Association and Tiperary Station, are fully compensated for such a stupid act by a ranger.
– I think this matter is similar to one raised by another honourable senator within the last few days. In my response to that question I stated that I would bring to the Senate a full report relating to this matter but that I had been informed by the office of the Minister for the Northern Territory that if there had been any killing of cattle on reserves it would have been done with a view basically to sorting out cattle as required, that it would have been for the definite purpose of culling. I will seek further information for the honourable senator and furnish it to him at the earliest opportunity.
-Will the Minister Assisting the Prime Minister in Federal Affairs acknowledge the simple fact stated by Mr Walls of the Council of Local Government Associations and quoted by Senator Douglas McClelland yesterday that aggregate Federal payments to local government will fall from $274m last financial year to $195m this financial year? Will he acknowledge that the matter of who did or did not phase out the Regional Employment Development scheme makes no difference to the fact that total payments will fall from $274m to $ 1 95m?
-If Senator Walsh is asking me to acknowledge that, as a result of an action by the Whitlam Government -
– I am just asking you whether the payments will fall.
– Order! Senator Walsh, you have asked your question.
– Don ‘t the dogs bite in such situations! If the question is that as a result of action by the Whitlam Government in wiping out the RED scheme the amount of money to local government was reduced by $94m, the answer is yes. That is demonstrable. Mr Walls himself acknowledged that. I acknowledge that Mr Walls’ statement about the comparison between the 2 levels of funding is in recognition of the fact that $94m was spent before the RED scheme was abolished by the Whitlam Government. I go one step further and remind the honourable senator of the thing that hurts him. Having put that aside and made a comparison this year, the total funds shown in Budget Paper No. 7 available to local government have been increased by 8.2 per cent on the figures for last year. No amount of talk and no amount of discounting can get away from the Budget Paper.
– I have a supplementary question. Is Senator Carrick suggesting that the RED scheme, regardless of who abolished it, should not have been abolished? If so, why has his Government not reintroduced it?
– That was not a question. The honourable senator is trying to put into my mouth an answer to a hypothetical question. I have made none of those suggestions whatsoever. I merely responded by reminding the Labor Party of a thing that hurts, that is, that because of its abolition of the RED scheme its alibi has failed. It took $94m away from local government. I am happy to say that we have increased the total amount of money to local government by some 8 per cent this year.
– I direct my question to the Minister for Education and refer to the NeilHerd report on staffing at Australian Capital Territory schools. What action is now proposed with respect to the report including the question of staffing of the Australian Capital Territory Schools Authority itself which the report states is in need of additional staff? Could the Minister also indicate whether particular attention will be given to the report’s comments on the need for ancillary staff in Australian Capital Territory schools and the need for a review of this matter to ensure that adequate staff is provided?
– The report to which Senator Knight refers is an important one. It has only recently come to hand and has been made public in order that there can be a study of it, its significance assessed and a dialogue established. The 2 persons who made the study are persons of considerable eminence. Senator Knight will recall that Dr Neil was the person who made the original study that established staff ceilings and value judgments for the Australian Capital Territory. In answer to Senator Knight’s first question, what will happen now is that the department and I will spend some time in evaluation of the report because the report raises some very significant concepts both for the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory.
I have noted the comments regarding the Interim Schools Authority. Senator Knight will be aware that I have said in the Senate that the
Schools Authority is in an extremely difficult stage of its development. Being some three or four years old, and having had to assume a whole infrastructure as though it were a state, it has a problem with adequacy of staff. As the honourable senator may know, the Public Service Board has been conducting an inquiry into the professional staffing of the Schools Authority. I have not had the benefit of the report as yet and I await it with interest. In order to give the maximum concentration of ancillary staff my department has lowered its staff ceilings to give use to the Australian Capital Territory of more ancillary staff. We propose to have further investigation of ancillary staff to ensure that when next year commences all schools are properly equipped at the professional teaching and ancillary staff levels.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Education and follows the answer he gave to a question asked by Senator Walsh in which he said that the increase in payments to local government this year will be about 8 per cent. In view of the Government’s prediction that the increase in the inflation rate this year will be 13 per cent, will the Minister admit now that the increase in real terms to local government this year will decline?
– The interesting thing now is that Senator Wriedt is moving on to an acceptance of the ground that he has denied for the past week, that Budget Paper No. 7, which he used for another purpose, shows in fact an increase in money made available to local government of 8.2 per cent, I think. I do not say that it will be a decline in real terms because the capacity of local government and semigovernmental bodies to borrow, and I refer the honourable senator to the Loan Council situation, has increased and must be taken into consideration. So must be taken into consideration, and this is a fundamental thing over which Senator Wriedt puts his head in the sand, the fact that under the new tax sharing system we have provided to the States a substantial amount more in untied revenue, in fact $89m more this year than last year under the Whitlam Government. From that, the States have a responsibility to increase the amount of money they make available to local government. Therefore, in the funds that we have provided, whether by direct or indirect means, the amount of money that is available to local government this year should increase.
– Is the Minister representing the Acting Minister for Industry and Commerce aware of the uncertainty that has been generated in the Australian car manufacturing industry by the Government’s indecision with regard to the level of restrictions that should be placed on imported vehicles? Is the Minister further aware that such uncertainty is the direct result of his announcement that the subject of import restrictions has been referred back to the Industries Assistance Commission less than 12 months after the Commission reported on this issue?
-I ask the honourable senator to put his question on notice.
-Mr President, I direct a question to you. I refer to an article in the Daily Mirror yesterday headed ‘Licking the Senate into Shape’. Is it a fact that Parliament House attendants have to lick 140 000 replacement pages into a tourist pamphlet due to an error which informs visitors to Parliament House that there are 60 senators, rather than 64? Are you able to inform the Senate whether this pamphlet was prepared by the House of Representatives? If so, do you feel that the 127 members of the House of Representatives should lick these replacement pages into the pamphlets, unaided by the Senate, as a full penance for their ignorance?
– Order! I advise the honourable senator that the attendants of the Senate are not involved in this matter.
– My question, which is directed to the Minister for Social Security, refers to reports in today’s Press of dissension between officers of her Department and of the Department of Health which has apparently resulted in a breakdown of communications between the departments. I might add that these reports follow allegations made yesterday of dissension and dissatisfaction within the Department of Social Security. I ask the Minister: Is it correct that the Senate can take the view that not all is well within her Department? Is the Minister investigating the claims that have been made in the Press? Is she concerned about the effects of such wrangling on the efficiency of her Department? Will the Minister assure the Senate that action is being taken to ensure that the clients of her Department are protected from any inefficiency which may result from this wrangling?
– I want to make one or two points with regard to the Press reports that have been circulating today. I think it was yesterday that the first Press report of some dissension with a staff member in my Department was raised. Since that time I have had discussions with the Director-General of Social Security, as I reported to the Senate yesterday. I am informed that a sectional committee of the Administrative and Clerical Officers Association comprising a small number of members in the Department’s office met this morning with the Assistant Director-General of Establishments and Personnel Projects with regard to the matters which had been raised by the officer concerned and which had been reported yesterday. I am also informed that at that meeting with the Assistant DirectorGeneral it was stated that some of the members of the Department were upset about their work loads and that they were in sympathy with the matters that had been raised by the officer yesterday.
As I understand the situation, no detailed complaints about these matters had been made to their superior officers or to the DirectorGeneral prior to the meeting which was held today. The Assistant Director-General of Establishments and Personnel Projects undertook to place a report before the Director-General. The Director-General will be asked to examine the matters that are raised in that report. I have asked the Director-General to report to me as early as possible and I have his assurance that he is willing to discuss either personally or with sections of his Department any difficulties which have been experienced. I have advised the Director-General also that I would be prepared to discuss personally any problems with officers or with sections of the Department wishing to discuss them.
I think it is important to answer the matters raised by Senator Grimes with regard to the efficiency and effective work done in the Department. I believe the matter should be put into perspective, and we do understand that PublicService administration is a system in which members of a department work with the Government of the day to give the service and administration that is required of them. I think work satisfaction among members of the departmental staff is very important. It would certainly be my wish that that was experienced by them in the conduct of their duties.
Some of the matters raised in the Press today suggest that ministerial approvals are not always just a matter of a tick and a signature when recommendations may have been made from the
Department. I think that is the reality of Public Service administration. Recommendations are made to government, and government makes decisions. Efficiency in the Department was mentioned. The Department is a most complex one. It is under a degree of strain because of the magnitude of its work load. I have the feeling- I think it is shared by many members and senatorsthat the dedication and expertise of the officers in the Department go well beyond the call of duty that could be expected of them. I believe that at all times they give efficient and effective service to the people who require their services. I believe that the degree of expertise, knowledge and efficiency that the Department displays in the administration of the 25 per cent of the Budget which it handles was exemplified at the Senate Estimates Committee hearings. It is certainly my wish that any dissension or unhappiness among however many of the officers may be involved will be resolved by the DirectorGeneral and the Assistant Director-General, whom I have mentioned, discussing these matters and, in turn, reporting to me to see what can be done to overcome the present situation.
– I point out to the honourable senators that today 24 questions were asked. This number is considerably fewer than the average number. I reiterate the basic requirements of questions and question time. Firstly, the questions must relate to matters for which a Minister is responsible. Questions and answers should be brief. Requests for statistical information should be placed on the notice paper and should not be sought on the floor of the chamber on any occasion.
– Hear, hear!
– Quoting should be avoided, except to the degree necessary to make a question clear. Replies should be confined to giving information, and no debate should be entered into.
Senator WRIEDT (Tasmania- Leader of the Opposition)- by leave- Mr President, you were possibly unaware that Senator Webster said Hear, hear’ when you were referring to the length of questions and answers. In view of the fact that he is the worst offender in respect of that matter, could I suggest that the staff be asked to put before the Senate information on the average time taken by respective Ministers to answer questions? That would give us a chance to identify where the problem lies.
Senator WITHERS (Western AustraliaLeader of the Government in the Senate)- by leave- I am delighted that the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Wriedt) raised this matter. I do not wish to get into dispute with you, Mr President, but you said that today 24 questions were asked. In fact you were more than generous, because there were 2 supplementary questions and one question to you. In fact there were 27 questions.
– I meant 24 questions exclusive of the supplementary questions and the one directed to me.
-I think it is important that honourable senators realise the position. This morning the Clerk provided some figures for me. The average number of questions answered each sitting day this year is 3 1 , with the highest number on any one day being 41 and the lowest number being 23. Of the 64 senators there are 6 Ministers and you, Mr President, who do not ask questions. Therefore 57 senators asked 31 questions a day. We know that quite often senators are absent. Using round figures, dividing 30 into 60, the average answer to a question certainly takes less than 2 minutes. We must remember that some questions are of inordinate length. While I agree that there could be a statistical analysis, perhaps it would be undertaken after the Senate rises for Christmas because of the detailed work involved. I know it would be difficult to compile that analysis because the time when questions commenced is not recorded in Hansard. Mr President, if you undertook to have this analysis done, would you ask your officers to provide the number of words used in questions as well as the number of words used in answers?
Perhaps it would not be too great a task to list the number of questions asked by each senator during both the previous period of sittings and this period. There might be some very interesting information amongst such figures.
– by leave- The Leader of the Opposition was correct when he said that I had said: Hear, hear!’ The only point on which he was wrong was his assertion that I was responding to a comment by him. In fact I was responding to a statement by you, Mr President, that questions relating to statistical information should not be asked in this place at question time. This is an important matter. Opposition senators such as Senator Georges and Senator Button over the past few weeks and particularly last evening have attempted to make some foolishness of the point that I did not answer a question related to statistical information. So Mr President, I was in agreement with your suggestion that honourable senators should not seek statistical information. I agree with you for a very sound reason. If members of the Senate do not have sufficient intelligence to be able to look at statistical information and evolve answers for themselves they should not be here.
The matter of metric conversion has been raised by two or three honourable senators, including Senator Button. Asking questions requiring a conversion of figures to metrics is something which has revealed stupidity on the part of the Opposition. In that context, I will say: Hear, hear!’ I had a dual purpose in not responding to a question relating to statistical information. Firstly, it should not require the response of a Minister to calculate a metric conversion. Secondly, during the reign of the former government there were voluminous publications in which the Metric Conversion Board requested that conversions to imperial weights and measures should not be made. I attempt to hold to that principle as it has been put forward. The Metric Conversion Board has said that wherever possible people should avoid converting from the new values back to the old ones. The secret is to learn to think metric. I fully realise the difficulty the Opposition would have in doing that.
-by leave- Mr President, last night we had some problems in getting documents incorporated in Hansard. As I mentioned at the time, it was a very sad episode, it being the first time to my knowledge that this has occurred. I felt that there was more than passing significance in the fact that Senator Webster was the person responsible for holding up the incorporation in the first place and that this brought on undue delays affecting the incorporation which it was not possible to have rectified. You will remember, Sir, that we agreed that I would make available to you certain documents. I have done that. I have talked to the Clerk of the Senate and to the Hansard chief. I now come forward with a group of documents that have been scaled down considerably for incorporation, and I will seek to have the balance of them tabled. I feel that I may have to make statements about this matter at a later date. I am quite upset about it. I hope it will never happen again. I now seek leave to have this reduced number of documents incorporated and I table the balance of the documents.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– The first group of documents comprises signed statements from property owners in the Mt Larcom-Bracewell area.
The documents read as follows-
I, Jennifer Howlett of Bracewell via Mt Larcom, wish to lodge my protest against the mining of this area. We have lived here for only 6 months but have learnt to love the country and respect the people who live here.
I feel it is terribly wrong to let a mining company come in and take possession of these farms from the people who have worked most of their lives to establish and make a living.
I think it is a waste to mine such fertile soil especially when it is supplying an essential product like milk to the growing cities of Rockhampton and Gladstone. If dairying is to be cut off in this area where will those people get their milk and at what price?
It would appear to me that the farmers in this area have been misled. They have been told- No decisions had been made when really it was all decided some time ago. No leases have been granted and then read in the paper that leases had been granted.
Not all land will be mined but I have heard quoted that it is not a profitable proposition unless all the land is mined. In my opinion the farmers have been misled on this whole issue and I feel that the human and democratic rights of these individuals as well as all Australians are at stake.
Jennifer Howlett 27 September 1976
Witnessed by F. J. Lilly.
I, Donald Arthur Kearney, farmer, of Bracewell, do make the following statement.
The Queensland Lime and Cement Company have been granted a lease over approximately 60 acres of my dairy farm. In their original plan they applied for approximately 220 acres. There is no limestone on this ground. All they want to do according to one of their lackies a Mr Walker, is to remove all the top soil to add to their limestone for the making of cement. I do not think for one minute that this company is sincere in its promise to keep within the granted lease area. We all feel sure that they will have to move out of these areas to collect more soil. It is a crying shame when a State Government can hand over to a private company such a ‘gold mine’ and allow them to ruin thousands of acres of some of the best soil in Central Queensland. All they are going to leave behind is 4 massive holes in the ground, full of stagnant water. Should these morons be allowed to mine on my farm they will completely cut it in half leaving me with no access to the rear portion. My wife and I will never be able to retire and move, for no one will ever buy a farm which is less than 1000 metres from a mine with all its pollution and noise and dust problems. The environmental report stated that when they use explosives, buildings up to 1000 metres from the area may suffer damage. This would include almost every farm house in the area at one stage of the mines operation and the company it appears could not care less.
The Government at all times has been on the side of the company and well before we had to take the case to court it was obvious that the company were going to get the leases. The members of our group paid out $5,000 and the Mines Minister has not had the decency to release the findings of the Warden’s Court.
The company concerned brought land in the Yarwun area about 2 years before the leases were granted. This land was for their wharf area and installations so it is obvious that both the company and the State Government knew the leases were going to be granted. The farmers were forced to pay out big money to take the whole thing to court when all along it was nothing but a great farce.
It appears to me that for the first time in my 40 years I am beginning to see how rotten and corrupt government and companies can be. I have totally lost faith in this Government for I cannot understand where any human being can put a mining operation before trying to preserve the better type of land for farming.
The company representative stated that when the leases were first applied they would require all the land to make the venture viable. Now the leases have been granted, over half the area has been left out, so what is one to think? Will they just pick the plumbs as they require them.
The company it appears is only prepared to buy four or five farms in the whole area and the rest of us will be forced to sit around the edge of the operation and slowly be forced out, either by the pollution problem or by the farms being completely sapped of all underground water.
Unless we can get help soon, this entire area will be written off for all time.
Kilby Don Kearney 23 September 1976 23 September 1976
It seems to me that Mr Petersen and Mr Camm knew that the mining leases in the Bracewell-East End area were going to be granted, as Darra must have been given the go ahead to buy such expensive land in the Garwon area for pan of their plant as this was purchased long before the leases were granted.
During Mr Petersen’s visit to Mt Larcom I was led to believe that he stated that people have been hurt before in the process of mining and could be hurt again and that there was plenty of other land just as good as Bracewell-East End in other pans of Queensland for farming but after being fifty years in the one area it would be practically impossible to start up a new way of life in an new area.
On TV Mr Petersen said he would meet a deputation in Brisbane or Mt Larcom but seemingly was too busy to come to Mt Larcom and when our deputation arrived in Brisbane one of the two farmers who had signed negotiations with Darra was present as a silent witness and I am led to believe he had a personal invitation from Mr Camm to be present.
In the Wardens court in Gladstone I understood that Darra would have to retain the full four leases to make it profitable but when the leases were granted they are almost cut in halves. From this court hearing which cost the group approximately $9,000 we were never told the Wardens decision by Mr Camn and it would seem that our lives and livelihood are not important.
The DPI are pushing bulk milk into this area by 1st December at a very high cost to the farmers and to our knowledge we have never been told by Darra or Mr Camm of the new lease areas and this is a big financial worry over our heads.
There is the fourth and fifth generation still farming in this area and if left to live their way of life will go on for many more generations, but if Darra mining take over it is ruined for ever and in a world of starving people today food should be of more value than cement.
I have been advised by my doctor for my husband ‘s health reason to sell out but with this cloud of mining over the area it is nearly impossible.
I Maurice Redmond Mclnally of East End Mt Larcom, wish to make a protest over the Queensland Government giving the right to Darra Cement and Lime Company the lease to open cut mining on our property, which we understand under the Act, open cut mining, and the first 30 centimetres of top soil is prohibited, so the Government is wrong in granting the lease.
I am a returned soldier, from World War II and had to put up with many great hardships in the War in New Guinea, as I was in a spotting unit, which was put in on islands ahead of our ground troops, had a transmitter-receiver and speaker for communication back to our base.
All enemy plane raids, enemy ship troops movement on American and Australian bases. There were three men to each station, had to do our best to keep on air 24 hours a day, and dodge enemy coming in on our radio beam. So to think one had to suffer in this manner, as we were worse than prisoners of war- had to live on the land and trust the natives to help us.
I thought that I fought like all Australian and American soldiers to keep Australia free, so everybody could enjoy a free Australia, but I can see it was all in vain, when a Government can give your ground you saved from the Japanese to a mining company.
I, Rowley W. W. Woodman of Bracewell Mt Larcom do give an account of my recollections regarding process of events leading up to the Granting of Mining Leases to Darra Explorations Pty Ltd.
Personal History in Brief.
Around the year 1911 my late father selected this farm, MHL974 and later acquired MHL932. These areas were surveyed in 80 acre blocks primarily for growing sugar cane, this crop grew very well but transport costs to get the cane to Bundaberg proved too costly. Next came the introduction of Dairying and this industry has remained during the history and life of this area all tropical and sub tropical crops have been grown to perfection. In 1944 owing to ill health of my late father I took over the present farm on a Share Basis and later acquired ownership with my brother. Around this time we were supplying milk to the Bracewell Cheese Factory. This factory treated 6000 gallons of milk plus in the summer months from an average of 38 (approx.) suppliers and produced a high quality cheddar cheese 89 to 92 per cent first quality according to the Government, grading sheets. As eventually I believe was the Back Bone of Rockhampton milk trade. Rockhampton started caning milk at the rate of 600 per day from Bracewell area, this gradually increased until the Port Curtis Dairy association saw fit to close the Bracewell Cheese Factory (partly on account of low price of cheese).
In 1972 I had to give up dairying on account of ill health, may I briefly mention at the close of the Bracewell Factory I started supplying milk to Rockhampton on a daily quota of 18 gallons per day, when forced to leave dairying in 1972 1 was on an 82 gallon a day quota.
I have a good water supply, good quality water and can obtain good water at the 35 to 45ft levels.
While actively farming 1 have grown all tropical and sub tropical varieties of improved pasture, and all varietys of vegetables (without irrigation).
I have very strong feelings should the mining for limestone become a reality our underground water system will perish. I have had about 4 (four) brief discussions with Mr Walker, mainly on the water issue, but at no time would he give a direct answer to the water position.
At at least two of my discussions with Mr Walker I was critical of the area of land Darra wanted in their four leases approximately 2200 hectares, but Mr Walker made it quite clear to me Darra must have this area to have a viable proposition. This again seemed to be the main basis of Darra ‘s submissions at the Wardens Court hearing in February 1 975. Since the initial proposal sought by Darra the lease area has been reduced twice. This last reduction in area has excluded our property, I was told verbally by Mr Walker that my area was out but as yet no notification from the Company, 1 believe I am temporarily out of the lease area at Darras convenience.
I am now receiving an Invalid Pension (Part 1 ) as I have a heart condition and Bronchial trouble I find the climate has so far agreed with me. I find so far this area has a peaceful atmosphere and above all a good water supply, and rich volcanic soil, proven to grow almost all crops. We are placed mid way between two growing towns Gladstone and Rockhampton and I believe our area under threat of mining to Darra is of the same value to Gladstone and Rockhampton, as the Lockyer valley is to Brisbane.
In a brief summary of events I believe that a Statement made by the mines minister in Mt Larcom that this is the only area in Queensland where the company can obtain the required amount of limestone could be misleading.
We have not been advised of the findings of mining Warden from the Land Court Hearing.
With reference to the Premier’s visit to Mt Larcom to meet the people involved he made it quite clear he would receive a deputation and discuss the issue before parliament made a decision, but it appeared obvious from information the deputation came home with the only issue the Premier wished to discuss was compensation.
This issue does appear to me we are left with only one buyer, no incentive to progress and be prepared to wait 30 to 40 years for an insecure destiny.
W. Woodman 23 September 1976
I am Mrs Joan Dunnett- some years ago we sold our Rockhampton home to move to live on a dairy farm in Mt Larcom or rather just outside Mt Larcom in Bracewell. My husband and son have worked very hard to work our farm and have since been joined by my married daughter and her husband. I work on a nearby poultry abattoir to raise money to help with finance also my daughter works there too. Not so long ago we were told Darra mining company was going to move into our small town and start mining and we believe it will be a tragic end to a dream my husband and I both have shared and worked all our lives to achieve something for our family.
If Darra is allowed to mine in our district we know we will have problems no end. Our first problem is my daughter and her husband are in need of a home to live in and we needed more land so we tried for finance to buy our neighbour’s property and she a widow finding it very hard to farm on her own refused to sell to us because she was waiting for Darra to offer her a price which she has since accepted and we do not think Darra should be allowed to hold this land and not use it.
We also believe that if Darra does start mining it will affect our underground water and then once again without water all our hard work and dreams will just be a fantasy. What good is a dairy farm without water.
We have just been pushed into bulk milk or should I say go bulk or get out and who wants a dairy farm in the middle of a mining community except Darra. We are one of the unfortunate people that not even Darra wants us. We have had to borrow $ 1 5,000 from Land Administration and now if we lose our water can anybody including our learned parliamentarians tell me how on earth without water can we feed cattle and water crops and what good is a shiny new bulk tank and a fancy brick dairy going to do for us. Will it pay back all this money.
I think and I don’t think I am being unfair in saying this I think who ever it was that forced us all into spending this money should also force Darra into making more tests into checking our water. Surely we are entitled to this, after all they want to take homes off people why aren’t they made lose something.
I believe the Government are being very unfair. I don’t think anyone should have the right to sit in judgment and just say our water will be alright when we believe with further tests it will prove we will lose our water and if we do what will Darra have to do then. I thought that Hitler laws were well gone but now as I sit and watt or should I say work on and wait to see what the outcome of my husband and my children and myself will be I wonder very sincerely who rules what.
My name is Thomas Bernard Brady. I am fifty-six years old. I have lived in the Bracewell-East End area all my life. In fact I am the third generation of the Brady family to live here. I was born in a house on one of the blocks of land being taken over by the mining company.
When the exploratory drilling was to take place we were notified they were coming, but when they arrived to drill they didn’t have the common courtesy to notify us they were going on our property to drill. The first we knew they had been there were the drill holes.
When Mr Camm’s secretary, Pat McGeteric, and Mr Cook visited the district they attended a meeting in the C.W.A. Hall in Mt Larcom and they gave us to understand that Darra would possibly get one lease.
We couldn’t get correspondence from them at any time. The next thing, Mr Camm attended a public meeting of approximately one hundred and twenty people in the Mt Larcom Public Hall. At that meeting our Chairman of the Protest Group, Mr George Lucke, wanted to take a tape of the proceedings of the meeting and Mr Camm told him that if he were going to tape the meeting he would walk out. Each time Mr Lucke endeavoured to put the case of the Protest Group it appeared to us that Mr Camm had no intention of listening to him or others as he would ‘squash’ what they were saying immediately by talking them down. He told the Group that the ‘poor’ mining companies were chased out of the Barrier Reef and Mt Etna by the conservationists so where were they to go? It seems to us that ‘bats’ are given more consideration than people who are producing food (particularly milk) for both Rockhampton and Gladstone.
In November 1975 we attended a court hearing in Gladstone involving five days and costing $9,000 and the results of the court hearing on the granting of the leases were not made public. This deprived us of the right of appeal if the results of the hearing were unfavourable to the Protest Group.
In May 1976 when the Premier was in Mt Larcom campaigning for the forthcoming election for Port Curtis he extended an invitation for a deputation from the Mt Larcom Protest Group comprising the Chairman, Mr George Lucke and four delegates (of which I was one) to meet him and Mr Camm in Brisbane to discuss our problems on the 24th June 1976. When the delegation was interviewing the Premier and Mr Camm, Mr Gent (one of the farmers who had agreed to sell his farm to Darra because of his inexperience in farming and his irresponsibility in borrowing too much money after after only four or five years farming, found himself in serious trouble and took the opportunity of taking the easy way out- or perhaps the only way out for him) was permitted on a personal invitation from Mr Camm to sit in on the meeting. Mr Gent and the other farmer who agreed to sell to Darra, Mr Laurie Davis (who has been an unsuccessful farmer for years) are the two men held in high repute by Darra.
One of the first things Mr Camm said to the group at the Brisbane interview which was held on the 9th floor was, Look out the window (at the cement buildings). That is what society demands and that is what they must have’. I said to Mr Camm, ‘Do you think that we should have to sit around for anything up to forty years and be the bankers for Darra? If we go to buy a farm we have to have the money to buy it or make arrangements to borrow the money’. Mr Camm answered, ‘You couldn’t expect any mining company to buy all the farmers out at once ‘.
Later when Mr Petersen was asked, ‘Surely in a democratic country when you go to court and pay your fees for a solicitor and barrister you are entitled to the finding of that court.
Mr Camm answered that query, ‘When you go to courteven a civil court you only find out whether you are guilty or not- not the reasons why’.
He was then asked if this meant there was no right of appeal. To which he replied, ‘No you have no right to appeal’.
At the end of the meeting we were told not to criticise the Government or we’d get no help from them. When Mr Camm left that meeting he was accompanied by Mr Gent. When we finished the meeting with the Premier we walked outside and Mr Gem and Darra ‘s public relations officer were talking with the reporter from the Telegraph. As we left the building downstairs we were met by reporters who asked us how we had got on.
We told them we didn ‘t get much satisfaction. They ( Mr J. B. Petersen and Mr Camm) were asked if they realized they were going to destroy the district by quarrying for the lime and it appeared to us that they avoided answering by referring to Redland Bay and Wivanhoe dam.
On two occasions Mr Camm told us that if we thought Darra was going to make high profits out of the district we should buy shares in it.
I am of an age where to rehabilitate me to some new industry is out of the question and as I am a diabetic the worry of all this strife is affecting my general health.
George A. Lucke T. B. Brady Jr 23 September 1976
I Heather Ann Lucke of Bracewell, Mt Larcom, Queensland do in this Statutory Declaration, list my objections to the proposed mining of limestone and clay by Darra Explorations Pty Ltd, in our District, and to the shabby manner of treatment dealt to the farmers by the mining company and so-called responsible members of the Queensland Government.
I feel our area could far better serve Australia if allowed to remain as a food producing district. The farmers in the Mt Larcom District supply approximately 28 per cent of Gladstone’s and Rockhampton ‘s milk intake to the respective Port Curtis Dairy Co-operative Associations. Farmers to be directly affected by the proposed mine supply 50 per cent of the district’s milk (approx.). Destruction of productivity of these farms means jeopardising the viability of the remainder of the district. Already the proposed mining, coupled with a seemingly ill-timed decision by the Department of Primary Industries and the Port Curtis Co-operative Dairy Association to force farmers to convert to bulk milk supplying, or vacate the industry, is having a detrimental effect on farmers’ confidence. Our farm, a poultry and piggery complex, will most likely be threatened by the proposed mine.
A qualified geologist has said that mining to a depth of 100 metres in our location may have such a catastrophic effect upon the underground water table that it may ultimately drain an area with a radius of ten miles. Surely even a hint of such a possibility should cause caution to prevail when dealing with such an application for a mining lease. There is only the avenue of prediction of such an event. There can be no certainty either way. It would be small satisfaction for farmers to say ‘I told you so! ‘ when attempting to supply water to livestock, dairies, abattoirs etc. The problem could possibly manifest itself over a wide area should a drought occur. Also, farmers expect to have difficulty in actually proving that mining caused loss of water, especially if some distance from the mine site. Livestock cannot wait for court cases to make judgments to force a company to supply water to a farm. Our farm would use approx. average of 10 000 gallons per day. We are much concerned by possible loss of water. Water is life, and ours may one day disappear.
Dust will present a problem, polluting the air we breathe, pastures, roof-tops, whose run-off goes into rainwater tanks. There must be some possibility that dairies and abattoirs may not be able to meet the stringent hygiene requirements demanded by the Department of Primary Industries.
Blastine tremors will be another discomfort. With the maximum charge mentioned in the Impact Study as 700 Kg (an Impact Study charged with being woefully inadequate by the Chairman of the Queensland Conservation Council, Tor Hundloe) we can look forward to quite some disturbances, and probably damage to buildings.
I ask would those who propose and sanction this form of development’ tolerate the lifestyle they have sentenced upon us.
I have felt the objections put forward by our Group have not been fully investigated on their merits. It has seemed they have been merely regarded as an obstacle to be circumvented.
With one exception, the newspapers have been largely disinterested in our cause. We are grateful to this newspaper for allowing us our democratic right to protest and be heard. It must be mentioned also, that this newspaper has always been prepared to print both sides of the story.
There must be sufficient evidence to question if there could have been collusion between Government Officials and Darra Explorations. Darra have built a clinker grinding plant at Bulwer Island, quoted in their 1976 Balance Sheet as being fully operational when servicing the proposed Mt Larcom mine. This plant cost $9,000,000. The purchase of three blocks of land at Targinnie and surveying of the pipeline from Targinnie to East End prior to the granting of leases displayed the Company’s confidence. Surely the Company would not make these expansions and investments on speculation alone?
When I learned Mr Camm was to visit our District and evaluate the situation, I looked forward to it in the hope we would meet a sincere man of integrity, with a strong responsibility to ensuring a just and considered decision. I came away from the meeting more depressed and worried about the matter than when I went. Mr Camm seemed to have scant regard for the farmers as people, and little concern for their welfare. His statement that the Company was prepared to pay farmers freehold value compensation for Miners Homestead Lease land, when the Company wished to mine (perhaps in 40 years time) did little to cheer. The Minister did not seem to be interested in discussing alternatives, which I understand there are. Our Group tried to talk preservation, and Mr Camm talked compensation. It seemed Mr Camm could not, or would not understand the matters we were trying to discuss rather one-sidedly with him. Mr Camm handed over the amended Impact Study during this meeting. We would have had some awkward questions to ask him had we been able to read this Study and consider its implications prior to the meeting.
Mr Camm advised if we still wished to protest, our path lay in a Court Hearing. With some of our ideals still intact, we prepared for a Court Hearing which was held 24th to 28th November, 1975. It cost District farmers $5,000 and Legal Aid paid a further approx. $3,950. Our Barrister, Lew Wyvill said that were it the normal court case, we would have won easily, as we had such a strong case. However, it was not a normal court hearing as we were to learn that the results of a Warden’s Court Hearing can be withheld at the discretion of the Minister for Mines. I was bitterly disillusioned at the news, and incredulous that ‘justice’ could take such a form. I feel there must be something damaging to either the legality or the principle of granting these lease applications or the Warden’s recommendations would not be kept so well hidden. Could it be interpreted that it would have been fairer for Mr Camm to have said ‘look, no matter what you do, say or feel, and what evidence you produce to the contrary, these lease applications will be granted.*? It might not have seemed very democratic to do, but in retrospect, it would have seemed to be more honest.
When Mr Petersen was travelling around, meeting the people, prior to the May by-election in Port Curtis, he very affably told us he felt for us and our problems. He said that the Government had handled the farmers at the Wyvanhoe dam, and that the matter had been satisfactorily settled, as far as the farmers were concerned. He mentioned that he would be prepared to meet a deputation, were some of the farmers prepared to travel to Brisbane. One of his Secretaries informed our Chairman that he would ring him and confirm a date which would suit all. In the end, our Chairman had to pursue the matter of a deputation through the Gladstone Branch of the National Party, and so a date was arranged. The members of the deputation had no written invitation to come to Brisbane to meet the Premier in conference.
There were rumours, prior to the departure of the five members of the deputation that Mr Alan Gent, a farmer that Darra was to buy out initially, and a critic of the protest Group, had a written invitation to be present at this meeting. We felt we could not believe this piece of information as there were many rumours about the mine. We trusted the people we were dealing with had more principle than to allow such an intrusion. There had been no mention by Mr Petersen of a conference between those for and against the mine. We were dismayed and disgusted to hear that Mr Gent had been allowed entry into what was to have been a conference between the deputation from the Mt Larcom and District Mining Protest Group, Mr Camm and Mr Petersen.
The deputation had received some publicity when they arrived in Brisbane and there was some interest from the media as to the outcome of the interview I understand that Mr Camm and Mr Gent left the meeting approx. five minutes earlier than the members of the deputation. This five minutes gave Mr Gent adequate time to disparage the district the deputation from the Protest Group had come to defend. The district, which supposedly, with hopes of success he had once purchased a farm. His statements largely nullified the impact of the objections laid down by the members of the deputation. I understand from members of the deputation that Messrs Camm and Petersen informed them that if there was further adverse publicity about dealings with regard to the proposed mine, they would, in effect, wash their hands of them and their cause. This placed some restraint upon them until there was a meeting to discuss the visit to Brisbane.
After this meeting, when an approach was made to the media to contest Mr Gent’s blatant criticism of our district, they found they could do next to nothing, as to attempt to discredit Mr Gent as a possible mouthpiece of the Company, came too close to defamation. We found Mr Gent had his very damaging say at a prime time, and we could not dispute the validity of his comments. There must be some room to question if this man could have been used by the Company when they would have most needed him. He had been driven to and from the meeting with Mr Petersen and Mr Camm by a Public Relations officer from Darra Explorations, according to members of the Group who attended.
I understood from the members of the Group who travelled to Brisbane that Mr Petersen and Mr Camm had said they would arrange for a round table conference between the Mines Department, the mining Company, and the Protest Group before the decision was made with regard to the leases. Therefore, when we heard a humour that the lease applications would be granted on a particular Tuesday, I disregarded them, as once more, I believed in the integrity of the Ministers. Through the media, I learned of the granting of the leases, and through the media I learned that our farm was, for the moment, to be excluded from the lease area. To my knowledge, we have never been advised by the Mines Department or the mining company that this is indeed so.
Shortly before the May by-election, about thirty members of our Group decided not to vote in protest at the handling of our case. The majority of the members are conservative people, and it pained them to be forced by aversion to the Company’s and the Government’s policies into this form of protest. I am prepared not to pay a fine, or court costs, and to go to jail for the required term. I feel that the time in jail would not be as unpleasant as the effects we will feel from the mine for the next twenty years or so. The withholding the warden’s recommendations from the court hearing may be quite legal, but I feel it effectively denies justice.
The quantities of cement to be produced seem to me to be far greater that would be required. Would it be possible for the Company, once they were operating efficiently to say, now we have an oversupply’, and then apply for an export licence?
When one of the farmers sent around his guidelines of the proposed mine for our interest, at first perusal, I felt we had gained much consideration. After thinking it over, I felt we had gained nothing, as it is not half as considerate as it looks. When it is all boiled down, mining will destroy this fertile district forever. There can be no reversal of the calamitous effects it could have on the water supply. If the majority of the soil is removed, there would be nothing for vegetation to cling to anyway. In future years, I believe this project will be regarded as a colossal monument to senseless vandalism in the pursuit of profits, via exploitation.
I certify this to be a true and accurate statement of my feelings on the applications for and the granting of the leases for mining in Mt Larcom.
Heather Lucke 26th September 1976
My full name is Michael Kevin Keely. I reside at Bracewell, Mt Larcom, with my wife and four (4) children. 1 am a member of the Mount Larcom Protest Mining Group.
The protest group was formed about 2 years ago, to protest over the mining leases applied for by Darra Exploration, for limestone and clay. About 6-7 years ago drilling was being carried out on the side of roadways in the district, for limestone and clay. (The clay is known to us as soil ).
It was not known to us at that time, why this drilling was taking place. However about 2-3 years ago further drilling was performed in the district. Letters were received from the legal advisers of the company, stating their intention to drill, for limestone and clay. Little did anyone of the farmers in the district realise that Darra wanted four (4) leases totalling over 5000 acres.
Some time later notice was received from the Warden that the farms in the district were subject to a mining lease and that we could lodge our objections. Objections were lodged in due course, by the land holders.
Before the hearing of the objections came up, a representative of Darra visited my mother’s place. His name is Mr George Walker. As my father had passed away suddenly a few months previous, he told us, my mother and myself, that ours was a special case. He, Mr Walker, told my mother that he would personally inform my mother of all developments. As to date this man has made no written contact. Since the death of my father I have been assisting my mother in the running of the farm.
My father and mother bought this farm about 26 years ago, and through hard work, good management and dedication, they built this farm up to the viable proposition which it is today. During these years they educated their four children, one to Junior, the other three to Senior. At no time during those years did they receive any drought relief.
Some of the farmers in the lease areas have sold or are negotiating to sell to Darra. Two of the farmers who have sold are Mr Davis and Mr Gent. Knowing the people it is quite evident the Darra is their saviour.
Mr Gent came to the district about 7/8 years ago. He purchased a farm in the East End area, an area of about 320 acres. This farm had a fair quota, and very good water for irrigation. However through bad management and over capitalising he soon found himself in financial trouble. It was quite evident to the farmers who had been in the district, where this man was going to end. He was unable to take sound advice from his neighbours.
It is very disturbing and a shocking state of affairs, that the government of this State listen to such incompetent farmers. These farmers, Mr Davis and Mr Gent are supplying Darra with the propaganda to down grade the district. To date the press have not failed to print any such statements by Mr Gent. Mr Gent has stated that the district cannot grow grain or fodder. Statements by Mr Gent are grossly incorrect. It is true that grain is bought from other areas. However he failed to say that, as a result of the farmers in this district, buying grain, are creating an outlet for other farmers who are making their living from growing grain.
Mr Gent also stated that farmers are selling their farms. That the population of the district is falling. This is true, but he failed to say that, even though the population has fallen, production has increased. Up until about 3 months ago, the number of farmers in the East End and Bracewell district, remained the same for the past three years, but production for milk had risen.
Mr Gent also failed to state that it is the policy of this State Government, to get bigger or get out, on the land.
On the Bracewell to Rockhampton supply, there are about 24 suppliers- These suppliers supply approximately 2000 gallons of milk per day, six (6) days a week. It also wants to be remembered that dry farming is carried out, in the supply of milk. Irrigation is only on a very small scale.
A visit was made to Mount Larcom, by Mr Camm, who is the Minister for Mines and Energy. He made it quite clear to the meeting that this was the first time he had come to an area which was subject to a mining lease. He gave people the understanding it was a privilege extended to us.
During the meeting Mr Camm was asked why couldn’t they go somewhere else, where people would not be disturbed. Mr Camm replied, show us where there is another place and we will certainly look at it. We have been hunted out of Mt Etna and Moreton Bay. Someone from the meeting then said ‘Do you prefer bats to people’. Mr Camm replied, I prefer people, but if we cannot mine Mt Etna we have to go somewhere else ‘.
During the meeting a discussion took place with Mr Camm over the tenure of M.H.L. and freehold. People had brought M.H.L. in good faith. These M.H.L. had been bought and sold as freehold for the past 60 years. Mr Camm said ‘People would think before they bought M.H.L. again. It is not as expensive as freehold. It hasn’t the same value’. However the Government knew that the land wasn’t as valuable, yet they continued to let these farms be sold and bought as freehold land. I then stood up and said, ‘If that is the case someone had a case to answer, because the land was not able to be sold by the person ‘.
Mr Camm then said, ‘That under the circumstances, we will get freehold value for our farms if the leases are granted ‘.
Some time after Mr Camm’s visit Mr John Moore, president of the Queensland Liberal Party. A few farmers of the protest group met Mr Moore in Mt Larcom. Mr Moore said that the land between Miriam Vale and Rockhampton was very poor and not good land. It would appear that he was ignorant that there were other areas off the main highway. One of the farmers then asked Mr Moore for his advice. He replied, ‘You are going about it the wrong way’. We, the farmers, expressed our concern about the underground water disappearing if mining was to go ahead. Mr Moore went on to say, ‘You want to keep quite and sell out’. One of the farmers said, ‘You cannot do that. That’s not the right thing to do. I wouldn’t like that done to myself. Mr Moore replied, ‘I am in the buying and selling game, and my motto is, “Buyer beware! “.’I then said to Mr Moore, ‘Each one of us has a moral obligation and principal to uphold’. I am unable to recall any further comments by Mr Moore, as such a statement shocked me. Thinking such a statement over, it could be said, ‘Voter beware’.
In November 1975, the objections by the farmers, were heard by the Warden. During the hearing it was established that Darra required the soil. Mr George Walker stated ‘That the company required all four (4) leases and the total area of each lease to make it a viable venture’. However when the leases are granted, the total lease area is cut by about half. By cutting the lease area in half, one finds it hard to believe that such an industry can be profitable, if one is to accept Mr Walker ‘s evidence.
This case cost in the vicinity of $9,000, yet we were not informed of the Warden’s findings. There is no justice whatsoever. It certainly leaves a bad taste in your mouth, when you have paid for something, you still don ‘t know what it is.
Before the granting of the leases a deputation was received by Mr Petersen and Mr Camm. I was a member of that deputation. The day before the deputation was due to see Mr Petersen and Mr Camm, certain factual statements were made to the press.
On arriving at Mr Petersen’s office that next morning, he and Mr Camm made it quite clear to the deputation, ‘That going to the media was no good. You will get no help from me if you keep that up. I am on your side. ‘ One of the members of the deputation then said ‘Well you go to the media and you appear to be quite successful’. At no time during the meeting was the deputation allowed to talk about stopping the mining. Mr Petersen and Mr Camm talked of nothing else but compensation. Mr Camm then asked the deputation to look out the window and look at the buildings. Mr Camm said ‘Thats what society demands, cement ‘.
Mr Lucke tried to show Mr Camm a map with other areas of limestone. Mr Camm said ‘I am not interested. I have more maps in my office, than you have ever seen. ‘ Yet when Mr Camm was in Mt Larcom he asked if we knew of other areas he would have a look at such areas. I then tried to tell the Premier and Mr Camm about the dairy industry. Mr Camm replied, ‘You are making a lot of the dairying industry. The dairy industry is in trouble all over Australia. ‘
Another member of the deputation then said, ‘If the mining is to go ahead, don’t you think it would be the fairest thing for the company to buy out all the ones in the lease area.’ Mr Camm replied, ‘You don’t expect the company to borrow money and pay big interest. ‘ Mr Brady replied, ‘Well what is the difference, farmers are borrowing money to go into bulk milk and they have to pay interest. You cannot expect the farmers to be bankers and caretakers for the company.’
Mr Petersen also made the comment, ‘We didn’t do any good in the by-election’. When Mr Petersen was asked by Mr Lucke if he would tell Mr Prest what he wanted to know about the mining, Mr Petersen replied ‘Certainly not. Why should I?’
When the deputation came away from Mr Petersen’s office, the feeling was that we had achieved nothing.
This district has been dairying for the past 60 years. It is the strong feeling that if mining is not to go ahead the district will continue for another 60 years and another 60 years. However the company has guaranteed the finish of the district in 40 years.
I am proud to be a resident of this district. My children are the fifth ( 5th ) generation in this district.
People will remember years ago of the uncontrollable fires that were in Victoria many years ago, which destroyed forests, homes. Well we have one in Queensland which seems to be intent on destroying people.
K. Keely 27th September 1976
Why should I be forced to sit down and write this in an attempt to arouse the awareness of responsible people to the plight of our farming community and its livelihood?
Why turn to putting words on paper when the community spirited people of this district have gone and begged for justice from the politicians of this State, sought and been rejected aid from the government departments of this State and turned to seek justice in the law courts of this State when the verdict of this court to this day, has never been released. I ask you why?
Why then has the government of this State the audacity to deny and ignore our rights to be heard? Why are we the food producers who provide sustenance for society to be cast aside and allowed to perish as the cement monopoly makes the mighty dollar?
I proceed to tell you why, I ask why. It is because I have attended the meetings of Mr Camm ( 1 8.9.75), Mr Petersen (May 1976), and also the court hearing (November 1975) and I still question why, because I feel the farmers’ questions have been left unanswered (or ignored ).
I attended the meeting at which Mr Camm was also present and he had the audacity to stand up and tell us that we were indeed privileged to have him attend a meeting of the farmers. He went on further to state that he does not normally attend a meeting in an area to be mined before the granting of leases. He proceeded to inform or insinuate to the farmers their lack of rights, in actual fact they had very few rights. As a special concession he proceeded to inform us that he would give us freehold value for the land that was subject to the lease. At the same time we were informed that if we wanted to freehold our own land outside the lease area we would have to in effect buy our land twice.
Why should it be that when asked by a member of the audience ‘where do we stand for the value of land as it has been bought and sold as freehold?’, Mr Camm’s reply was You’ll think next time before buying mining homestead lease (M.H.L.) land’.
Why should faithful and honest farmers who have served society well throughout its stresses and trials be turned upon at the end of their hard working life and told ‘You’ll think next time before buying M.H.L. land*? He also gave us to understand our time had come. ‘Society requires what you have, the houses you have, the very roof on your house comes from the earth. Society requires what you have’. So therefore society must have it according to Mr Camm. No matter what the cost? I ask Mr Camm where does the priority of his mind lie?
Why did the Minister for Mines, Mr Camm, tell the people to buy shares in Darra at the meeting 1 8.9.75?
Why did Mr Camm try to ‘soft soap’ us when he said because they couldn’t mine the reef for limestone and they were being forced out of Mount Etna because of the bat colony where else had they to go? Why should he state he was one of the boys, ‘he came from a farm’ and state he did prefer people to bats and why should he have reversed his opinion since that date?
He asked us to show him elsewhere the company could go to mine limestone as he (at least, at that time) prefered people to bats. Why should Mr Camm need such technical advice from us farmers? (He is the Minister for Mines).
I attended Mr Elliot’s campaign meeting at which Mr Carige (Federal Member for Capricornia) introduced Mr Petersen.
Why did Mr Carige state that he was surprised at the amount of knowledge Mr Petersen had about the proposed mining in this area, but, later when Mr Peterson was asked a question pertaining to this mining question Mr Peterson said he ‘knew very little’? Because of the clear contradiction in both of these statements lam forced to further wonder why.
Why should Mr Petersen blatantly tell us he had no knowledge of any correspondence sent to him by the Mining Protest Group? We were also informed at that gathering that Mr Petersen had five (5) secretaries.
Is it right for only Mr Camm and Mr Petersen to be in full knowledge of the farmers court hearing? Surely all interested parties involved should have equal access, or at least, I was once this led to believe.
Where does the right to have personal freedom in ones home begin? Why should my family and myself be told by two people making an ‘environmental study’ for Darra tell us, in our own home, that we ‘took the land from the blacks’ and were given to understand that it was therefore OK for a company to take it from us. They went on to say if we could prove we had any Aboriginal blood there may well be a case for land rights.
Why should the farmers go to the court for justice when Mr Gent said on a television interview after the leases had been granted, that Darra knew they would be granted when it came to drill two (2) years ago. It seems to me that they did know, for why would the Darra company go and buy land down at the narrows for a clinker plant, before the leases were granted?
I am dismayed at these farmers rights or should I say their seemingly lack of rights to be heard.
As a young person I received my first introduction into politics at these meetings. I am disillusioned and dismayed by the men in the highest political positions in this State of Queensland as it seems to me they have a total disregard for humanity and a preoccupation with cement and dollars.
P. Kelly 27 September 1976 24 September 1976
To whom it may concern
I would like to acquaint you with the following facts regarding certain facts and injustices in the granting of leases to Darra to mine for limestone in the Mt Larcom area.
Mr Walker, the Darra representative, told me personally that none of my land would be taken. However, it is now rumoured that the pipe line to carry away the slurry will go through my property.
In addition when I queried him about the loss of my water (I rely solely on a bore supply) he said that Darra would do something about it if it could be proved that their mining operations took my supply. To prove this he said that I would have to tip dye down my bore and if this coloured dye appeared in their hole then they would do something. However, if my bore runs dry how is this dye to be carried to their hole? And what am I to do for water while all this is going on?
Also in relation to our water supply, we contacted the Irrigation and Water Supply Commission. They said they could test our bore at a cost of $5 an hour, and in addition we would have to supply the pump. The cost of this pump would be tremendous as it would have to have the power to suck the water up 120 feet. Why should we have to bear this financial burden? If the mining was not to take place we would not have to interfere with what has been a permanent and unlimited supply of water up till now.
The same Mr Walker mentioned above used threats towards the people affected by the lease. He said that the land would either have to be sold to Darra at Darra ‘s valuation or the land would be handed back to the crown and the farmer would then get nothing.
At a meeting which was addressed by Mr Camm, Queensland Minister for Mines, a member of the group asked Mr Camm if he could change his land from M.H.L. to Freehold. Mr Camm replied that it was possible to do so. We now know this to be impossible under the present laws.
It was suggested by Mr Camm at the meeting he attended at Mt Larcom that the farmers buy shares in the Darra Co. if they felt the company was going to make such fantastic profits on the granting of the leases. We feel that a Minister in his position should not be allowed to make such statements.
Mr Camm also stated that if the farmers could show him other limestone deposits of the equivalent of those in our area, that he would be prepared to look at these. When maps showing other deposits were produced Mr Camm refused to even look at these.
We appealed against the leases being granted in a court action which cost the group $3,000 and we also received legal aid of $3,700 to aid our case. To date the findings of the Mining Warden who sat in judgement on the case have not yet been released.
The Barrister who represented the group assured me that if this were an ordinary Court of Law, the evidence produced by the farmers would have certainly won the case as Darra ‘s environmental study was the worst researched study he had ever seen.
In the contract drawn up to allow the mining of the leases, it states that Darra must give the Government $25,000 which the Government will hold as security. This money will be taken if Darra defaults in the restoration of the mined land as near as possible to its original state. This amount must be treated as a joke as such a small amount would barely cover 2 or 3 acres of restoration. Darra would almost certainly be quite happy to lose this sum considering the very substantial profits they are assured of making.
The people most affected are those who have lived here all their lives as did their fathers before them, and their fathers before that. They are being forced to leave- they don’t want to but have no other option. Most of these people have no knowledge of any other working life but farming. The sheer injustice of this is worth thinking about.
One case which is a particularly disgraceful one concerns a family of two brothers, one of whom is a dwarf. This person has recently married a woman also a dwarf. The other brother suffers from Parkinson’s Disease. Between the 3 of them they run a dairy quite successfully and have recently been spending quite a large sum of money in order to convert to the bulk milk system. Darra will take 2 of the 3 80-acre leases which make up their property, leaving them with the 80 acre block on which house and dairy is situated. However, this 80 acres will certainly never be enough land to allow them to continue to dairy. Neither brother has any other qualifications or trade to which he could turn if forced to stop dairying. Because of their physical defects it would be very hard for them to find any other employment. I know all 3 people personally and I know they would find it degrading if they were forced to rely on Social Service benefits when they are capable of doing something as productive and necessary as dairying.
Darra ‘s foothold to the leases was gained through 2 farmers, who are my immediate neighbours. I am therefore in an excellent position to comment of their ability to work and use their land productively. Neither one, over the past 6 years I have lived here, has ever tried to improve or even maintain his property. This is despite the fact that their land is some of the finest in the area, with an excellent underground water supply very close to the surface.
I know from my own property that the land can produce grain crops year after year without fertilization and yield a return of at least $60 an acre.
– The second group of documents comprises a submission to the Premier of Queensland from the Mt Larcom and District Mining Protest Group and a report to the University of Queensland Speleological Society.
The documents read as follows-
Submission to the Honourable Premier Mr J. BjelkePetersen and the Honourable Mr R. Camm, Minister for
Mines on 24 June 1976, by a deputation from Mount Larcom and district mining protest group; comprising Chairman, Mr George Lucke, and Delegates, Mrs Liz Begstrom and Messrs Tom Brady, Bob Coller and Kevin Kelly.
Proposed mining and quarrying of limestone and soil in East End and Bracewell areas of the Mount Larcom district. Mining lease applications: East End No. 698; Bracewell No. 1-699; Bracewell No. 2-700; Bracewell No. 3-701; Darra Explorations Pty Ltd.
Mr Premier and Mr Minister,
We approach you on behalf of the residents of East End and Bracewell to convey their wishes to have the mining lease applications rejected and therefore submit the following reasons:
East End and Bracewell are small farming areas in the Mount Larcom District situated on the Bruce Highway 35km west of the rapid developing city of Gladstone and 70km south east of Rockhampton. This coastal area is anticipated to become a natural growth centre of Australia with rapid increases of people. Primary products will be required in increased volumes and our district is close to both areas to meet these needs.
Amount of land involved
We are unsure of the actual amount of land involved. Darra have applied for 4 leases covering a total of 2200 hectares of our best and most fertile land. Last September, Darra notified the farmers that they have reduced the proposed lease area to 1744 hectares. This has never been substantiated by the Queensland Mines Department and we are therefore at a loss to know where the real boundaries of the lease application lie. However, the 1 744 hectare area is far in excess of the capacity of the district to sustain this loss and still remain viable for agricultural products. Without doubt all agricultural districts rely heavily on the most fertile and easily accessible areas of land to gain the superior production that is necessary to remain viable. Yet, Darra have precisely marked out these areas for easy access to our soil for the manufacture of cement. Nearly all the farmers complain that their best land is in the lease application area and naturally look to these areas for their expected increase in production. Although Darra have marked out the greatest deposits of lime in each area, they can, in the future, still apply for further amounts of land joining the present application area. This is a further depressing thought for the district and a continuing worry for those now considered left out of the lease application.
Amount of soil
We believe the soil belongs to the farmers. No provision has been made for quarrying operations under the tenure of Miners Homestead Lease. When mineral has been claimed by the sinking of shafts, the hole must be filled in with the soil and the farmer can continue his operations. The horrific thought of losing all our soil from an area of 1 744 hectares should alone be enough reason to reject the lease application.
East End and Bracewell can be proud of their fertile soil and when you realise the average depth of overburden is approximately 3 metres, gives clear understanding why this area must be retained for food production alone. Australia is a harsh land for agricultural products. The soil on average is of poor quality and the annual rainfall is insufficient for farming. Only relatively small areas can support man. The underground water is of the hardest quality of any country in the world and mostly not suitable for irrigation.
This is why we cannot understand how the Government can contemplate the complete destruction of our district. We have an average annual rainfall of 37 inches and deep rich soil capable of growing a large variety of primary products and also being the best dairy farming area in Central Queensland. We should remain a food-bowl for Gladstone and Rockhampton.
Dairy food production
Darra Explorations Pty Ltd in their initial lease application of 2200 hectares affected property owned by 45 farmers. Of these 21 are dairy farmers supplying fresh milk to the Port Curtis Dairy factories at Gladstone and Rockhampton. Sixteen (16) farmers supply Rockhampton with 5400 litres per day while the remaining 5 supply Gladstone with 1525 litres per day. Total production 6925 litres daily which represents 5 1 per cent of total milk supplied from the Mount Larcom District.
Need for planning without mining
These farmers are being forced by the Department of Primary Industries to convert to bulk milk supply if they wish to remain in the industry. This will cause the expenditure of $ 10,000 to $ 1 5,000 for the conversion of each property making a total district expenditure of somewhere in the vicinity of$250,000.
Therefore these farmers have the right to know all the details of plans envisaged by the Government for their future. Likewise, the P.C.D. Factories are borrowing a considerable amount of capitol and require the production from these farmers to ensure their maximum operating efficiency. The Mount Larcom area is of great importance to the P.C.D. factories of Gladstone and Rockhampton because it is centrally situated and supplies 28 per cent of their milk. If any shortfall in supply should happen to one factory, all the milk from Mount Larcom can be diverted there without any increase in costs. This helps ensure regular production of pasteurised milk and will allow P.C.D. to maintain its franchise for Central Queensland. A further problem could be any alterations to existing roads because these need to be planned for bulk milk collection from each dairy.
Should mining operations be allowed, this could make other farms in the district harder to sell with less people interested in their purchase and further decline the milk production on a district basis. Added costs would apply to the collection of milk and other produce and further the economic strain on the producer.
The beef producers will be deprived of their best land for the final fattening of their beasts and cause a lowering of the return they would normally expect.
The land in this area can successfully run 1 beast to one hectare. This again gives a good indication of the quality of the land. Both the beef producers and dairymen are worried about loss of production that can be expected from dust on the pastures. This becomes unpalatable for stock and therefore reduces their intake of food. This problem is very evident with grass that grows beside the roadways.
This area is excellent land for the breeding of beef cattle. The breeding stock are able to maintain good condition which enables them to breed easily and ensures regular production of calves. Top quality bobby calves for veal are also produced from our area. Other Industries
The land engaged in pig and poultry production is totally in the lease area. This farm produces over 4 tonnes of poultry meat and1 tonne pig meat per week. These operations were commenced 19 years ago and have built up reliable and consistent markets.
By using modern technology the chickens are automatically brooded watered and fed and the sheds are designed with water pits underneath to act as septic trenches. This allows for a breakdown of the manure before being pumped over the pastures to fertilize the soil for increased carrying capacity of cattle. The poultry abattoir is located within 400 metres of the rearing sheds to allow minimum stress and bruising of the chicken before slaughter. An additional eight staff are employed in the abattoir and the fresh chickens are sold to areas north to Mackay and south to Bundaberg. The Department of Primary Industries inspectors have stated this is the cleanest abattoir and the chickens the best presented in the State. The offal from the abattoir is collected daily and boiled in an oil fired boiler. The offal is then mechanically cut up and mixed with a prepared ration before being fed to the modern 50 sow and prodgeny piggery. The pigs were purchased as minimal disease free and have been maintained as same.
Approximately 2 tonnes of pigmeat is produced weekly from the proposed lease areas.
Approximately 1 60 tonnes of grain and 1 50 tonnes of hay is also produced by these farmers each year.
Loss of water
We anticipate that the underground water supplies would be lost over a wide area if mining was allowed. The farmers dependance on underground water for their stock requirements shows in a survey of 32 farms.
Dams, Bores and Wells 34 bores in lease area; 20 Bores outside lease area 27 wells in lease area; 1 5 wells outside lease area 18 dams in lease area; 14 dams outside lease area
Of these 96 underground water supplies only 10 are in excess of 30 metres from the surface. As mining would reach 100 metres deep for limestone mining and quarrying removing all the surface soil, not one of the wells or bores or 18 dams would be expected to remain with water carrying capabilities.
Some areas of the district have salt underground water and this could be expected to flow into the mining pits. Should this occur, all water would then be useless for stock, pumping over land or diverting into any of the present streams. Fringe area farmers with good underground water now, could find that their supplies could change to salt as the aquifer system would be altered with the different balance of underground pressures.
Another possibility would be that new cavities could be opened in the limestone and all water could be lost. The Irrigation and Water Supply Commission have stated they do not know what would happen to the underground water should mining commence. When exploratory drilling was done in the area, two holes have run water since then and we have been advised by the Commission to seal these to prevent a lowering of the water table for farmers in the higher positions. If this is so, what would happen should a huge hole be dug to a depth of 100 metres and covering a number of hectares?
We also believe the natural streams in the lease areas have a large influence on the capacities of the underground water supplies.
That is, Machine Creek commences at Bracewell No. 2 then proceeds to Bracewell No. 3 then through Bracewell No. 1 and runs down to East End. If East End was mined to a depth of 100 metres, this stream could be drained and cause the water table to be lowered affecting all the leases. The overflow of the lake area in Bracewell No. I drains into Machine Creek and we believe the remainder of the water travels underground for about Vi mile before surfacing as a marsh area and also draining into Machine Creek. The underground aquifers could follow a similar path to East End as that of the natural streams.
The uncertainty of how much land would not carry underground water should also be sufficient to reject the lease applications.
We have mentioned the amount of land and soil involved and the probable loss of water and food. How can we justify this type of destruction to other countries of the world where top priorities are food and water?
These are the essentials to man’s survival and yet are likely to be destroyed within one 99 year lease of the white race gaining ownership.
This would not be a project of which we could be made feel proud when we watch on television how 2/3 of the worlds population exists.
The Government must have their priorities wrong to even contemplate mining this land because future population pressures should justify retention of every piece of fertile land.
How would our Government answer our Queen Elizabeth when she said in her Commonwealth Day message ‘ We must struggle to feed the world ‘. We live in a world striving to find ways for men and women to improve their standards of life and, at the very least, to achieve one of the fundamental freedoms- freedom from want.
The white race has lived on Australia for less than 200 years and already the destruction of land has been enormous. Our area could produce a large variety of foods such as peanuts macadamia nuts, custard apples, soyabean, sugar cane and avocados, as well as market garden produce. With the exception of peanuts and garden produce, the other products have not been tried commercially, but do well on home trials.
During the second World War, food was required for our soldiers. The Government decided to send cheese to our troops as butter was unsuitable for distribution. Extra factories were required for this program and one was built at Bracewell. This factory was kept operating by the amount of milk received from a radius of approximately 5 miles. Bracewell cheese became well known as a quality product and those farmers have every right to feel proud of responding to the need of assisting the Nation.
Dust and noise pollution
Every resident of East End and Bracewell will at some time be affected by dust and noise. At the present time 190 people live in this area covered in the projected fallout area in the Impact Study. Concern is held for the amount of damage that could be done to homes and buildings by the ground shock waves that could expect to result from large amounts of explosives. This could prove too much on the nerves of the residents coupled with having to learn to tolerate the continuous noise from the quarry face and grinding machine. Dust will be a continuous problem and is anticipated to upset the residents by making the buildings dirty and look unsightly taking away the pride of ownership of our assets. Also the housewife will have the added problem of red soil dust gathering on her tables, furniture, floors and most likely settling on her washing. These are justified worries by people who know the characteristics of handling our soil at dry times. All the rainwater tanks will carry large quantities of dust particles that have flowed from the roof. You could understand the reluctance of prospective buyers to come into our area should this happen. This could cause every farmer to suffer significant depreciation on the value of property.
This is one aspect that they could not afford and should never be tolerated in our society. Everybody should have the right to live in the type of environment they wish without being subjected to large scale obnoxious industries forced upon them and financially reducing them to a situation where they cannot escape.
This could only be described as a disaster area as far as we the residents of a proposed mining area are concerned. Firstly an approval to prospect was placed over 13 square miles of our district about 7 years ago. Nobody knew this until Darra Explorations exercised their right to drill on all properties about 2V4 years ago. They had done a survey when the approval to prospect was first granted but only drilled on the roadways. Therefore the farmers were unaware of what the survey was for and when the drilling rigs left all was forgotten. However, when they returned in 1974 we realised how the interpretation of laws had changed. Instead of the miner with his pie’- and shovel and pan, we had large trucks with drilling rigs and water containers and air compressors driving over our properties and drilling for samples of soil and lime. They had the key to the district and we were reduced from the proud owners of the land to the status of ‘squatter’.
Darra had been given Ministerial approval to prospect and then later to survey 4 lease areas much larger than the 320 acres that is normally the largest that can be applied for. By what we can understand if all 4 lease areas are approved, work requirements would be needed on only one lease at any time. No survey was done or asked for by the Mines Department to see what was the quality of the land or the present usage before these concessions were given. Much less on how many people were affected!
On 6 September 1974, Darra Explorations Pty Ltd applied for the 4 leases and a Warden ‘s Court hearing was later set to be held in Gladstone on 4 February 1975. Nobody in the District was aware of full plans held by Darra for our area. The farmers were shocked at the amount of land applied for and alarmed when their best land was placed under lease application. Everybody knew that to fight a large mining company using their own resources was hopeless, so The Group was formed. The services of a solicitor were also sought to help protect our livelihood.
At that time we did have a small feeling of hope that Darra would only mine limestone in small areas of each lease. We did not know until about 12 months later that our theory on the lime was correct but Darra would also take all the soil for cement manufacture. We believe the Mines Department and Darra attempted to deceive us by denying us access to this information before the first hearing on 4 February 1975. At this hearing an Environmental Impact study was released and was the first chance wc had of seeing what was planned for our area. The timing of releasing this Study was perfect for the company as no further objections could be lodged. This excluded some residents who would have otherwise objected, i.e. One farmer who had only a small portion of land involved and was told by Mr George Walker that the company would probably not mine his land.
Later he found that a proposed change in the road went straight through his property. He should have been made aware of this before the objections were closed.
After the initial hearing we were more concerned than ever and tried unsuccessfully to get information from the Mines Department. We approached the Ombudsman and he organised two representatives to visit us on 10 April 1975. After meeting with the farmers the Deputy Parliamentary Commissioner, Mr R. Howatson and Mr C. Ware recommended that representatives of the Mines Department should visit us and explain what mining would do to our area and what were the rights of the residents.
Owing to their efforts we had a visit from the Under Secretary of the Mines Department, Mr George Cook and Mr Pat McGetric on 9 and 10 June 1975.
The 9th of June was spent travelling the district inspecting the proposed lease areas and on the 10th a public meeting was held. Mr George Cook told the gathering that people who had Miners Homestead Lease land had virtually no rights when trying to prevent mining. He said owners of freehold land did have rights and should receive full value for their land. He did not tell us that all our soil would be taken from us. As most of our land was MHL the farmers could see their land taken and each financially disadvantaged. The meeting lasted for about 2 hours. We complained bitterly that we could get no information from the Mines Department and Darra only released enough information to make us curious. Mr George Cook promised the Group that he would undertake to forward the Chairman, Mr George Lucke, all the details of talks they had with Darra in the future. He said mis was his job and our rights to know details of plans envisaged for our area. That was twelve months ago and no written information whatever has been received. We can only conclude that Mr Camm has prevented any information from being passed on to us. We have since complained to the Queensland Government Ministers about lack of contact and information from the Mines Department.
Early in August, 1975, our solicitor received a draft agreement from Darra Explorations that was supposed to bc signed by each landowner. The whole context of the draft drawn by Darra was for Darra Explorations to have full rights to do as they pleased when they pleased with our land and in return we would receive freehold compensation when they wished to mine the land. This would allow them to be dictators over us in the manner of the feudal system which prevailed in old England. We resented this and no farmer was interested in the agreement.
Copies were sent to the Premier Mr J. Bjelke-Petersen and Mines Minister Mr Camm to illustrate how we were to be treated. Regretfully, neither showed the concern or courtesy to reply to the letters and we are still unaware of their thoughts on that issue. To a later invitation, Mr Camm agreed to visit us.
We were thrilled at this and organized a public meeting to hear him explain the whole procedure of deciding on whether to allow mining or not. We invited him to arrive early in the day to see the lease areas first. However, Mr Camm would not agree to this but apparently decided to do a secret tour of his own.
Unfortunately the party became lost and only managed to see one small piece of one lease area. We had wished for him to see all the land. At the meeting, Mr Camm announced we would receive freehold compensation and considered we should be very grateful for this regardless of what other restrictions were placed on us. No farmer in the Mount Larcom district has ever received any other value for his land and the tenure has always been regarded as equal to freehold by the banks and lending institutions. We were surprised to hear Mr Camm say that this was the first lease application area he had ever visited before a decision on mining was made. We felt this should always be his first priority so he could make a fair judgment. However, he did present the chairman with the second Impact Study and this was our first real understanding of the magnitude of the proposed operation-‘ Destruction East End and Bracewell ‘.
There was to be no soil left in an area of 2200 hectares with the possibility of more land taken as mining proceeded. I wish to stress that we have had no information at all from the Mines Department since this visit of Mr Camm on 18 September, 1975.
However, the point has always been stressed that no decision has been made on granting the leases and no indication given to Darra. However, we have read where the Bulwer Island project was erected to take increased quantities of clinker from Gladstone. Cost $9m. The company have purchased for approximately $240,000, 3 blocks of land at Targinnie, Portions. Nos 32, 50, 5 1 for their proposed clinker plant and wharf facilities. Now we are told that surveying is being done for a road and pipeline from Targinnie to East End. With the costs of drilling, cement works, land and surveying we would anticipate a minimum of $ 10m has been spent by Darra Explorations.
How can we believe that with these operations the company have not received some form of assurance from the Mines Department that the project has been agreed upon in principle if not in detail.
Democratic rights of people
This is one area we have read about but never had the opportunity to see in practice. To date no farmer in the proposed lease area has been allowed any discussion on any proposal. We have been told what Darra have in mind but not in depth discussion. We have also been told by the Mines Department and Mr Camm in the two meetings of their views of the proposals but we were never given a thorough opportunity to discuss our feelings. We believe Darra Explorations in company of the Mines Minister should have to put forward all their proposals to the Mount Larcom and District Mining Protest Group and discuss all the effects on the district. Darra have never put forward one proposal for a betterment of the town of Mount Larcom or district in return for the expected destruction of the land and the displacement of the people. Surely with cement at an average price of $24.00 per tonne and 650 000 000 tonnes of cement to be produced from our area, the township should be expected to receive prime consideration for large benefits. However, Darra expect to gain local employment without as much as supplying one house for their workers.
This was evidence that was released at the second court hearing held in Gladstone on 24-28 November, 1975. We were forced to either sign Darra ‘s agreement or go to court to prevent the leases being granted. We had no chance to discuss the proposals outside the court and were committed to pay $8,508.15 to have any chance of protecting our homes and livelihood. The Federal Legal Aid paid $3,508.15 and we paid $5000. Our case was well presented by Roger Baker of Rees R. and Sydney Jones. Mr Lew Wyvill was our barrister, Peter James, Geologist, Tor Hundlow expert on impact studies, Mark O’sullivan, rural economist and Bruce Gates, senior lecturer in Science, assisted in presenting our objections. Evidence was also given by Reverend John Woodley and 2 1 farmers.
We then waited patiently for the Warden’s findings only to find this was denied by Mr Camm. Our one chance to have our feelings heard had been restricted to Brisbane based departments and politicians who will ultimately make their decision whether to grant a Brisbane based company the rights to destroy land in Central Queensland. Again we were made to feel we had no rights to hear the verdict handed down by the Warden. Surely this represents a grave threat to democracy when law abiding citizens are given no area for discussion excepting in a court of law at which they have to pay their costs, only to be denied their rights to hear the Magistrate ‘s decision. I must point out this information was not denied to the Mines Department or any other Government department that is involved in the case.
At this time no farmer has any knowledge of what is his future. Two families have agreed on compensation but no payment has been made, The valuations were taken of the properties 2 years ago and the owners told no additional money would be paid if improvements were made by them. They have watched how inflation has eroded these values and yet we understand payment will not be made until 12 months after the leases are granted. This will make 3 years the earliest date for payment from the time of valuation. This time delay has caused the properties to devalue through lack of improvements and decreased income.
Should these contracts expire and the properties be revalued no guarantee of increased compensation could be anticipated. These 2 families have been placed in a situation by Darra Explorations that should not be tolerated in our democratic society. How can the rest of us believe that we will receive freehold compensation if this is the interpretation of how we will be treated?
At a recent by-election the politicians all put forward their versions of how we should be treated. We agreed with the Labor and Independent candidates who stated we should be left to protect Queensland assets and continue producing food. However, the Liberal and National candidates would not listen to any of our suggestions and put forward a proposal to remove the farmers by paying all those in the lease areas and then renting back the land. No suggestion was ever made as to how many would be completely purchased or how many would be paid compensation for a small portion resulting in a greater depreciation to his remaining land then the sum offered.
We could only look at the proposals as a method of nationalising our homes, businesses and land. The Government was to take over and hold our land for another private investor.
Is this the idea of the present Government to nationalise any area they think will be a benefit to large companies and do away with the small investor who places all his faith in his own ability to provide himself with a reasonable income? Six landowners are returned soldiers and another spent 12 years in the Royal Australian Navy to fight for the rights of our nation to remain a free country. Are they now to be resumed and told they are not entitled to live on the piece of land they chose and worked so hard to legally own?
The amount of money placed as value on the land in our district would not allow relocation in other areas of similar occupation. This worries the residents that if forced to leave they would probably have to get a home in the town and search for work.
This would have to be manual work and lowly paid as very few farmers have a second trade. Also job opportunities of people over 35 are very limited and almost all fit this category. These people appreciate and enjoy the family life, the country living and this is not possible in the towns where families are split up each day for work reasons. Also the peace and tranquility of this lifestyle would be shattered by mining operations close by. These are problems we are unable to solve should the leases be granted.
This area joins Bracewell and East End and at present is held under approval to prospect by Dampier BHP Mining Pty Ltd. We feel that should the lease applications be granted in our area that Dampier will automatically get the approval to mine Machine Creek. Should this happen only Cedar Vale would remain untouched in the farming land west of Mount Larcom and could not remain viable. Through no fault of their own they could be made uneconomical and receive no compensation whatever. Should the scale of mining at Machine Creek reach the predicted operating target of 5 000 000 per year this would add greater stress on any residents who would not be purchased and left to suffer.
We have presented two petitions to Parliament asking for the mining lease applications to be rejected and the Mount Larcom and district allowed to remain a productive and viable agricultural area. About 90 per cent of the farmers have willingly signed these petitions and realise their futures are at risk. This should give a clear indication of the feelings of the farming residents.
An interesting and informative study can be made of the members of the Mount Larcom and District Mining Protest Group. The following people form the Group and their community involvements prove they have the interests of the district at heart:
Richard Applin- beef producer
George Armstrong- dairy farmer; Justice of the Peace; Director of PCD; Vice President Mount Larcom Show Society; Representative Bracewell area- R ‘ton Milk Committee; Treasurer Gladstone Salvation Army Corps.
Edna Armstrong- outpost Sargeants Salvation Army; owns and operates school bus service; conducted Sunday School for 26 years
Len Austin- dairy farmer; returned soldier; Director of PCD; Director Stock Feeds Rockhampton; Dairy Representative Biloela Research Station; Trustee Mount Larcom cemetery; President Mount Larcom Bowls Club; President Mount Larcom Returned Soldiers; Ring Manager Mount Larcom Show
Ron Austin- dairy farmer
Bo Begstrom- owns Braham Stud; former marine engineer Swedish navy
Elizabeth Begstrom- trained nurse D.C.
Gordon Black- farmer
Tom Brady- beef producer and farmer; member Mount Larcom Ambulance Committee; Calliope Shire Councillor; Chairman Cedar Vale School Committee
Angela Brady- head teacher Cedar Vale State School 22 years
Gordon Briggs- farmer and railway worker; returned soldier
Bob Coller- dairy farmer; returned soldier- prisoner of war; superintendant Mount Larcom Christian fellowship
Mr and Mrs P. Coughlan, owners of Hotal Royal Mount Larcom; farm owners
Dennis Currell- plumber and farmer
Irene Currell- teacher Mount Larcom State Secondary School
Keith Dunnett- dairy farmer
Dick Guiney- dairy farmer; warden and chairman Cedar Vale fire brigade; Chairman Bracewell Hall Committee; Trustee Bracewell Hall Committee
Rick Hannah- resident of East End; Trustee Gun Club Gladstone
Glen Johnson- pig and cattle farmer
Don Kearney- dairy farmer; Royal Australian Navy Service; Secretary Mount Larcom and District Mining; Protest Group; Chairman Bracewell School
Sue Kearney- 3 years service Womens Royal Australian Navy Service
Mrs P. Kelly, farm owner
Kevin Kelly- dairy farmer; former policeman
Joe Lennon- dairy farmer
George Lucke (senior)- original selector dairy farm owner
Mrs C. Lucke, part owner Poultry and Pig enterprise
Henry Lucke- part owner poultry and pig enterprise; vice president Mount Larcom P and C Association
Hazel Lucke- treasurer Mount Larcom tennis club
La urence Lucke- part owner poultry and pig enterprise
Lakia Lucke- secretary Mount Larcom tennis club
George Lucke (Jnr)- part owner poultry and pig enterprise; chairman Mount Larcom and district mining protest group; secretary Bracewell, Machine Creek, Cedar Vale, Ambrose, conveyance committee; trustee Machine Creek hall Alec Lucke- president Mount Larcom Golding Park sporting complex
Maurice Mclnally- dairy farmer: returned soldier; Judge for caged birds Rockhampton show
Edna Murray- owner dairy farm
Harry Vanderwolf Snr- retired farmer and original selector; returned soldier
FredVanderwolf- dairy farmer
Roy Woodman- member ambulance committee: chairman ambulance benefit committee; president Mount Larcom show society; chairman Mout Larcom cemetery trust; secretary Cedar Vale bush fire brigade: trustee Bracewell Hall; chairman PCD election committee
Oriel Woodman- international officer am brose CWA
The Mount Larcom and District Mining Protest Group was formed in December, 1974. Their aim is to protect the lifestyle of the people and prevent the farming land in East End and Bracewell from being methodically mined, quarried and destroyed, making it unproductive and useless for future generations. We are against mining for the following reasons:
REPORT TO THE UNIVERSITY OF QUEENSLAND SPELEOLOGICAL SOCIETY ON LIMESTONES, ROCKHAMPTON AREA, CENTRAL QUEENSLAND
Graham Tweedale B.Sc. (Hons) January, 1976
At the request of the University of Queensland Speleological Society a field investigation was undertaken of limestones in the Rockhampton area to determine whether there were available deposits of sufficient size and quality, suitable alternative sources to the cavernous limestone now being quarried at Mt Etna. The latter deposits all are used in cement manufacture at Parkhurst, just north of the city.
Investigations were limited by time and funds to visiting known limestone deposits, and collecting surface samples for analysis and estimation or simply measuring the size of deposits by pace and compass or tape survey. It must be stressed that due to the lack of depth information, obtainable only by drilling or actual quarrying operations, such surface investigations are limited in value as far as tonnage estimates of reserves are concerned.
Initially the deposits suggested by U.Q.S.S. for investigation were those at Parkhurst and Glenmore just north of Rockhampton, Lion Creek area about 15 miles to the west, and the Raglan-Marmor area about 35 miles to the southsoutheast. During the field investigations it was realized however that two large deposits in the Dee Range south of Mt Hopeful and in the Calliope Range west of ‘Cecilwood’ Station should also be included in the survey.
Sampling and analytical procedure
In most cases the samples obtained were from outcrops, which were invariably affected by weathering. Samples L4, L7, L10 and L11 are from the South Ulam, Marmor, Miller’s and Ambrose quarries respectively. An average of about 7 lb was taken at each locality.
Samples were crushed, split and pulverised to -200 mesh and analysed for Calcium using the atomic absorption spectrometer. It is considered that this analysis is sufficient for the present purpose but samples are retained by the Analyst in case more complete analyses are required.
In general terms the rock formations of this part of Central Queensland consist of several volcanic and sedimentary units, most parts of which appear to reflect deposition in relatively shallow water during the middle and Upper Palaeozoic. Conglomerate and limestone occur throughout the stratigraphic sequence. A number of intrusive bodies ranging from ultrabasic to acid are also present.
The sediment and volcanics were subsequently folded and faulted and now occupy well defined belts of country with a north-north-west-south-south-east orientation. The older ( mainly Devonian) limestones are found north-north-east of
Rockhampton and south-south-east of Bajool and Mr Morgan, whereas the Carboniferous limestones form a roughly parallel belt to the west of Rockhampton.
Older (Siluro- Devonian) limestones are present further to the west and north-west, as, for instance, in the Marble Ridges area.
A full account of the geology of the Rockhampton area is presented by Kirkegaard, Shaw and Murray, 1970, and interpretation of the structural evolution of the area by Murray, 1974.
Previous limestone investigations
The most recent limestone studies were carried out by the Geological Survey of Queensland. The report on these investigations has not yet been published but some information, which may be subject to correction when the Geological Survey report is published, was released to the Department of National Development for inclusion in a report on the industrial potential of the Bowen Basin Region, Queensland, by Nabalco Engineering Pty Ltd (August, 1974).
Summarized information on location, quantities and quality of limestones and on the geological formations in which the lenses occur is presented by Kirkegaard, Shaw and Murray, 1970.
Connah (1958) reviewed previous literature and summarized the information then available in his Summary Report ‘ Limestone Resources of Queensland ‘.
For convenience the results of the present investigation will be discussed under three area Headings:
North of Rockhampton
The major deposit north of Rockhampton is that currently being quarried by Central Queensland Cement Pty Ltd at Mt Etna about 1 8 miles north-north-west of Rockhampton.
Descriptions of many facets of the physiography, geology, history, fauna, flora and social and recreational value of this area, and the adjacent area of Limestone Ridge (now reserved from quarrying) are contained in Mt Etna Caves (University of Queensland Speleological Society, 1970).
For purposes of comparison with other limestone deposits around Rockhampton the Mt Etna-Limestone Ridge area was visited briefly during the present survey. Permission to inspect the quarry at Mt Etna was sought from Central Queensland Cement Pty Ltd but was not given.
The Nabalco Report (P. 16) gives total reserves to 250 feet below datum as 3 1 million tons of grade 93 per cent-98 per cent CaCO3, of which 90 per cent is recoverable.
The Rockhampton District Warden’s report for the quarter ended 31 March 1975, in the Queensland Government Mining Journal for July 1975, quotes a production of 48 210 tonnes of limestone in which an average of 10 men were employed.
The Inspector of Mines Annual Report for 1973 (Q.G. M.J. February 1975) shows a production for that year of 230 707 tonnes of limestone by Central Queensland Cement Pty Ltd.
Two deposits of limestone occur in the GlenmoreParkhurst area, three to four miles north of Rockhampton. and in close proximity to the Central Queensland Cement Works. These limestones have been reported on by Reid ( 1945) and East ( 1945) and have been worked in a small way but not, according to East, since the early 1900’s.
The smaller, more southerly, area is adjacent to the railway line and is shown by East’s mapping to the about half a mile long (in a north-north-westerly direction) and 500 feet wide. The dip is steep (50°) to the west. The limestone is of good quality, quoted analysis being 97.3 per cent CaC03. An estimate of quantity suggested 5 million tons to a depth of 100 feet but the recoverable ratio cannot be determined from the outcrop.
The larger area to the north-west is Vi miles long and about 1 800 feet wide, the strike being parallel to that of the smaller lens, and the dip vertical or steeply to the east. Quoted analyses are of 95.1 per cent and 96.2 per cent CaCO,. Limestone collected in the present survey (L5) gave a much lower percentage of CaC03 (71.8 percent), although the reason for the difference from the earlier anaylses is not apparent. It may, however, reflect a different sampling technique as the present survey attempted to obtain a representative sample (excluding where possible deeply weathered material) whereas the earlier survey may have taken a much smaller sample of the ‘ best-looking ‘ material.
Tonnages of limestone from this area were not estimated by East, but were described as immense. Ignoring the recovery rate and assuming continuity of limestone beneath soil covered areas, 800 000 tons per vertical foot are indicated. This estimate is based on the figure of 13 cubic feet per ton, which is used by the Geological Survey of Queensland.
Although large quantities of good quality limestone are available in these two areas there are several factors which may render them unobtainable. Both deposits are in the path of a rapidly expanding suburban Rockhampton, and the dust and noise levels of quarrying operations may be considered intolerable. Furthermore, the larger lens occupies low-lying country adjacent to the Fitzroy River and dewatering of excavations after flooding by rainfall or perhaps continually because of leakage from the river itself would be expensive. Also, Rockhampton ‘s water treatment plant is located on the northern end of the larger lens and may require a wide buffer zone of protection from damage by blasting operations.
It seems unlikely, therefore, that these deposits will be exploited to their full potential, but parts of them may be available to Central Queensland Cement Pty Ltd during a period of change from Mt Etna to an alternative limestone source.
West of Rockhampton
The most westerly area visited is at Marble Ridges about 35 miles due north-west of Rockhampton. Although limestone was observed near the homestead, the main outcrop area was not visited due to lack of available time.
The Marble Ridges limestone has been mapped by Kirkegaard et al as Undifferentiated Siluro Devonian and as such may be somewhat older than the Mt Etna limestone. A length of 2 miles and average width of 1000 feet indicate that substantial reserves are present and the Nabalco report quotes 550 000 tonnes per vertical foot and estimates reserves of 1 10 million tons to a vertical depth of 200 feet.
Quality of the limestone was described by Kirkegaard et al as high, and this was confirmed by examination of the outcrops near the homestead during the present survey.
The limestone occupies elevated country on the divide between Two-mile and Six-mile Creeks, a favourable situation for quarrying operations.
Although the deposit is more than 40 miles by road from Rockhampton it is only 12 miles from the North Coast railway line at Canoona. At present there is no access to the railway from Marble Ridges because the Fitzroy River lies between, but pipeline or aerial ropeway transport to rail head may be feasible if quantity and quality of the limestone are confirmed by drilling and other investigations.
The Carboniferous Rockhampton Group is characterised by the development of oolitic limestone, at three main stratigraphic levels. The limestones now occupy a belt of country extending roughly from Kabra, 10 miles south-west of Rockhampton, to Ridgelands, 15 miles north-west of Rockhampton, and this belt has the regional northnorthwest strike of the Palaeozoic formations of this part of Central Queensland.
In general the dips are shallow and are commonly in the range 10°-20°. Because of the effect of topography on beds of such attitude the outcrop pattern is less regular than with the steeply dipping older limestone. This outcrop pattern is further complicated by the presence of many faults which cause displacement of beds and locally abrupt changes in strike direction.
These structural complexities make it very difficult to estimate available quantities of limestone from surface mapping alone, and the probability of other directional changes and fault produced displacements at depth, even at no great depth, make any such estimates suspect.
These factors, together with the quality of the limestone which is significantly lower than that of the older limestones, have militated against exploitation of the area, despite both its closed proximity to Rockhampton and the considerable linear extent of some of the limestone bodies.
For these and other reasons, such as access and topographic situation of the outcrops, some of which are in low, easily flooded country, the present survey was limited to three localities- LI, L2 and L9, chosen to sample the belt as a whole and also because of apparent size, proximity to existing roads and least distance from Rockhampton.
LI is on ‘Granville’ on Limestone Creek near Ridgelands in the north, L2 is near Lion Creek, and L9 is adjacent to the road just to the south-west of Lower Gracemere Lagoon.
The Nabalco report refers to 1,500,000 tonnes of what they term poor grade limestone per vertical foot below datum, but it is not stated if this estimate applies to all the limestones in the Lion Creek area, or to certain selected lenses.
LI Cranville This is a black bituminous limestone not noticeably oolitic although oolites are present in some places. The outcrop strikes east-north-east (70°) and although the outcrop belt is 250 yards across, it appears to contain five limestone bands with interbedded sandstone and mudstone Measured dips are variable and range from about 10° to about 20° to the north.
The belt is about two miles long and considerable quantities of limestone are present. However, because of the interbedded nature and the variable dip, no attempt was made to estimate reserves in the absence of sub-surface information.
For the most part the limestone occupies low country along Limestone Creek and wet weather flooding of excavations would pose problems.
L2 Lion Creek. This is a large development of Limestone which outcrops in an arcuate pattern roughly northwest to west from Lion Creek across the upper tributaries of Black Gin Creek and Deep Creek.
Only the eastern end of this limestone was visited but it is known to extend more or less continuously for about six miles. As in the previous case there are difficulties in the calculation of reserves. Fleming ( 1967) and personal communication estimates a thickness of about 100 feet.
L9 South-West of Lower Gracemere Lagoon. This is the closest deposit to Rockhampton and is about 10 air miles from the cement works. Road access is good and the outcrop forms a small hill. The outcrop of length is more than a mile, and the thickness is probably of the order of 1 00 feet.
Because of its favourable situation regarding access and topography a number of samples were collected for analysis at this site (L9 A-I). The calcium carbonate content of these ranged from 47.4 per cent to 80.5 per cent and averaged 67.4 per cent. The remaining constituents were not determined but it is believed that the silica content is high and the limestone is either unsuitable for cement manufacture or would require selective quarrying of higher grade parts if these were present.
South of Bajool
A number of limestone deposits are present south of Rockhampton, two of which are currently being worked at Marmor and South Ulam Others at Ambrose and Horrigan Creek have been worked in the past; and other larger deposits are located in the Dee Range and Marble Mountain areas, some distance from existing roads and the North Coast railway line.
Marmor. Limestone, mainly for agricultural purposes, has been won from the Marmor quarry over a period of many years and Kirkegaard et al estimate that more than 1 ‘/i million tons have been extracted. The quarry is adjacent to the North Coast railway line, about 30 miles southsoutheast of Rockhampton.
The area is covered by Mineral Leases 265 and 266 and the leaseholder and quarry manager, Mr H. Ambrose, kindly supplied the following information.
The Limestone lens is 4,000 feet long and about 300 feet wide; its strike is north-south and the dip is to the west at 40° to 50°. There is a probable extension to the south. Drilling has shown that limestone continues to at least 300 feet below the quarry floor and quantity estimates are of 60,000-70,000 tons per vertical foot. The Nabalco Report gives total evaluated reserves of 17 million tonnes (to 200 feet below datum).
Total carbonate (CaCO’ + Mg CO3) content quoted by Mr Ambrose is more than 90 per cent and some analyses are up to 96 per cent. Samples (L7) collected during the present survey analysed at 77 per cent CaC03. The difference between these figures presumably represents the magnesian content and, to some extent, the difference between outcrop samples and, in this case, diamond drill core samples.
South Ulam Current quarrying operations in this area are on the western side of Mount Kelly and Mount McCamley, the stone won being crushed on site and trucked to railhead at Bajool. Distance from Bajool is about twelve miles and Bajool itself is about twnety-five miles southsoutheast from Rockhampton.
The leases here are held by Industrial Minerals Co. Pty Ltd and the assistance and hospitality of the quarry manager, Mr G. Sutcliffe, are gratefully acknowledged.
The rock in the present quarry is a white sugary marble, intruded, and to some extent, altered by basic dykes. Older quarries to the south, in the same limestone lens, were worked for marble to be used as a building stone.
Outcrop of this marmorised limestone is in a belt 21/: to 3 miles long, aligned north and north-west. The dip is steep to vertical ( 70° to 90° ) and the thickness of the lens, measured above the present quarry, is 400 feet.
The Nabalco report does not refer to this deposit. On the above figures, obtained during the present survey and calculated to 200 feet below datum (taken as the highest point of limestone outcrop above the present quarry) for comparison with reserves for other deposits given in the Navalco report, 80 million tons of rock are present. The percentage of recoverable limestone is not known because of the presence of intrusions, but it is not unreasonable to assume a recovery rate of 80 per cent.
At least 600 feet of limestone is present above the floor of the existing quarry, but this is below the highest point of outcrop, and elsewhere the limestone is at lower levels.
In the absence of a precise topographic survey and in ignorance of the actual wastage rate and the extension of the limestone below the floor of the present quarry, there is a natural reluctance to estimate total reserves. They could, however, be very considerable and will be able to supply a Central Queensland cement factory for many years.
Kirkegaard et al quoted an analysis of 55.3 per cent calcium oxide, which is equivalent to a CaC03 content of about 99 per cent, a very pure limestone indeed. A sample (L4) collected during the present survey gave 80.9 per cent CaC03. This sample, from the quarry, included dark grey and greenish material as well as the pure white limestone which is the quarry product.
Ambrose. The Ambrose quarry is half a mile south-west of Ambrose, which is on the North Coast railway line. This quarry is not being worked at present but information supplied by Mr Ambrose indicates the size of the deposit as 600 feet by 400 feet; extensions of length to 1000 feet and width to 800 feet are possible. The limestone has little topographicexpression and the quarry is of the pit type necessitating dewatering if worked to greater depths.
Information on reserves has come from Mines Department drilling. The Nabalco report quotes 100 000 tonnes per vertical foot, and evaluated reserves to 200 feet of 20 million tonnes.
An analysis quoted by Kirkegaard et al of 55. 1 per cent CaO indicates a limestone of high purity. A sample (LI 1 ) analysed in the present survey gave 90 per cent CaC03. Selective quarrying could increase the grade but would reduce the available tonnages.
A nearby deposit at Hut Creek was sampled (L12) but its size was not estimated. The analysis gave 80.8 per cent CaCO,. These deposits are about 45 miles from Rockhampton.
Miller’s Quarry, Horrigan Creek. Two small quarries have been worked in this area, about four miles south-west of Raglan. These are covered by M.L. 3 1 6.
Besch’s Hill. A limestone of considerable size is developed on the western side of the Dee Range about five miles south of Mount Hopeful. Access is by station track from the road to the television tower on Mount Hopeful, lt is about twelve air miles from the North Coast railway line at Marmor.
Because of time limitations the linear extent of this deposit was not measured, lt is shown as about three miles long on the preliminary Rockhampton map in Kirkegaard et al (1966), and field observations during the present survey tend to confirm this. The strike is 310° and dips, where measured, average 70° to the east. The limestone outcrop was measured as 570 feet wide towards the southern end. and this width of outcrop appears to be maintained.
These dimensions indicate possible reserves to a depth of 200 feet of the order of 1 2 5 000 000 tons.
Analysis of two samples (L3) gave 78.9 per cent and 75.2 per cent CaC03. These figures appear low by comparison with some other limestones in the Rockhampton area but they certainly should not disqualify the area from further investigation, preferably by drilling.
Results of the present survey do not allow comment on the economic aspects of quarrying and transportation of limestone from this area, but it is noted that problems of flooding of workings appear to be minimal and the area is remote from permanent habitation, an environmental aspect of significance when large-scale quarrying operations are involved.
Marble Mountain. These deposits are present on an eastern spur from the Calliope Range, seven air miles south from the South Ulam quarry and west from ‘Cecilwood’ homestead, which is about twenty miles south from Bajool. Access from ‘Cecilwood’ is by station track south-south-west to a windmill and tank at the foot of the range. There is no road access past this point.
The limestone outcrops at a high level in the range and appears to form two main belts, striking north-north-west. Dips both to the east and to the west were noted and this structural complication, due either to folding or faulting, as well as the limitation of time available during the present survey, prevent estimation of quantities available. Kirkegaard et al (1966) show three parallel lenses, the largest (western) deposit is that sampled during the present survey (L8). However the length of the outcrop is considerably greater than that shown by Kirkegaard et al. It is now estimated to be of the order of three miles and it is likely that extensions, or structurally displaced extension, exist both to the north and south. The width of the outcrop appears to be at least 2000 feet.
If these dimensions are confirmed by additional mapping, and if the limestones continue at depth, as would appear likely, very considerable quantities of limestone are indicated. A number of samples (L8A- L8J) were collected for analysis and they range in calcium carbonate from 52.6 per cent to 85.4 per cent. The limestone is marmorised and pyritic and if the range of quality is confirmed by sampling at depth (drill cores) selective quarrying would be indicated for lime or cement making. As in the case of Besch ‘s Hill deposit, a detailed investigation of the Marble Mountain area is clearly indicated.
Although at present there is no road access to these limestones the provision of such access would not pose great difficulties.
Limestone of the Bracewell Area. Since completing the field-work on the limestone deposits of the Rockhampton area, information has become available (in Summary Report on Drilling in A to P 683 M by T. J. Madden. Appendix 7 to the Bracewell Environmental Impact Study on Proposed Limestone Quarries, Mt Larcom-Bracewell Area. September 1975) which relates to drilling during 1974 on four Mineral Lease Application areas- Eastend 1 and 1A, Bracewell 1, 2 and 3. This area was not visited.
Madden reports that the purpose of the drilling was to delineate, if possible, reserves of 500 million tons of limestone and sufficient quantities of surface clays to provide an adequate mix for cement manufacture. Forty-six diamond drill holes at inclinations of 45 degrees, for a total footage of 15 334 feet, and 58 shallow percussion holes, indicated reserves of 389 million tons of limestone (of unstated quality).
For a 3:1 limestone: clay ratio 130 million tons of clay would be required. Madden reports 4.8 million tons as indicated by the drilling, 56 million tons as inferred and suggests an additional 125 million tons in undrilled areas.
The Nabalco Report gives evaluated reserves and possible reserves of 8 and 26 million tons for Bracewell lease and an area adjacent to the Bracewell lease respectively. Madden ‘s report (1975) post dates the Nabalco report ( 1 974 ) and presumably covers a larger area or includes the results of additional drilling.
Results of a Warden’s Court hearing in December 1975 on the Bracewell Mining Lease Applications, and subsequent recommendations to the Minister for Mines, are currently awaited.
Limestone quality for cement manufacture
Some difficulty has been experienced in determining the calcium carbonate content of limestones suitable for cement manufacture. Clearly there is a wide range of carbonate content in limestones used for this purpose and this is expressed by Lea (1956) in analyses he presents of Kentish Chalk (95.25 per cent and 90.55 per cent CaCO,) and Blue Lias Limestone (80.97 percent and 92. 17 per cent CaC03).
It would appear that limestones with a CaCO) content of more than 80 per cent can be used for cement manufacture.
Cement is a mixture of the oxides of calcium, silicon, aluminium, and iron which, after being heated and finely ground, react with water to form a hard mass. Various mixtures of limestone and clay are used to achieve the desired result.
Differences have been noted between the carbonate content of limestones collected during the present survey and those of earlier surveys (e.g. L4, L5, L7, £.1 1 ). These may be in part due to the presence of magnesium carbonate as well as calcium carbonate, in pan due to differences between surface material collected in the present survey and drill core samples, and in part to differences in sampling technique.
Presumably quality control of the final product is better and more easily achieved using raw materials of constant composition, and this may influence a company’s choice of a consistently high-grade limestone rather than one of lower and more variable grade.
During the present survey the existence of cavernous limestone (pots, caves and caverns) was noted at South Ulam, Marble Mountain (‘Cecilwood’) and Miller’s quarry. A cave near ‘Glenmore ‘ was reported by Mr Kirkbech of that homestead, who observed an emigration of bats during flooding in early 1974.
Locations of caves were noted by Mr R. Munster, who assisted in the field investigations.
It has not been possible as a result of the present investiga-tion to point to a single deposit of easily worked and immediately accessible limestone in the Rockhampton area which would be regarded as sufficient in size and quality to replace the existing source of rock for cement manufacture at Mount Etna. However, it is believed that this summary of existing information, and the presentation of some that is entirely new, should act as stimuli to more detailed examination of the limestone resources of the Rockhampton hinterland.
Helpful assistance with information and survey of deposits was received from Messrs Sutcliffe and Ambrose, South Ulam and Marmor quarries respectively; assistance was also received from Mr McCabe of the Central Queensland Conservation Council; information was obtained from Messrs McCamley and Creed, whose properties cover the Besch ‘s Hill and Marble Mountain deposits respectively; informal but informative discussions were held with Mr Clark of the Trades and Labour Council.
In particular, thanks are due to Mr R. Munster of Depot Hill, Rockhampton, who acted as field assistant throughout the investigation.
Connah, T. H., 1958: Summary Report Limestone Resources of Queensland, Publ. geol surv. Qd, 292, 1-31.
East, J. D., 1945: Geology of Glenmore District, Rockhampton, Qd Govt Min. J., 46, 199-20 1.
Fleming, P. J., 1967: Names for Carboniferous Permian Formations of the Yarrol Basin in the Stanwell Area, Central Queensland. Qd Govt Min. J., 68, 1 1 3- 1 1 6.
Inspector of Mines, 1975: Annual Report for 1973. Qd Govt Min. J., 77, 69-72.
Kirkegaard, A. G., Shaw, R. D. and Murray, C. G.: The Geology of the Rockhampton and Port Clinton 1: 250,000 Sheet Areas. Rec. Geol Surv. Qd 1966/1 (unpubl.) 1970: Geology of the Rockhampton and Port Clinton 1:250,000 Sheet Areas. Rep. Geol Surv. Qd 38, pp.155.
Lea, F. M., 1 956: The Chemistry of Cement and Concrete. Second Edition. Edward Arnold (Publishers) Ltd, pp. 637. London.
Murray, G. C, 1974: In The Tasman Geosyncline- a Symposium. Geol Soc. Aust. Qd Div. (eds. Denmead, A. K., Tweedale, G. W., Wilson, A. F.) 161-184.
Nabalco Engineering Pty Ltd, 1974: Industrial Potential of the Bowen Basin Region Queensland. Aust. Govt Publ. Ser. Canberra, pp. 256.
Reid, J. H., 1945: Limestone-Glenmore. Qd Govt Min. J., 46-112.
Rockhampton District Warden, 1975: Report for Quarter Ended 3 1 st March, 1 975. Qd Govt Min. J., 76, 2 50.
University of Queensland Speleological Society, 1970: Mount Etna Caves. U.Q.S.S. St Lucia, Qd pp. 1 16.
-The third group of documents relates to the Cedar Bay raid.
The documents read as follows-
ABC TV PROGRAMME ‘THIS DAY TONIGHT’: POLICE OPERATIONS AT CEDAR BAY
Hon. T. G. NEWBERY; [Mina Minister for Police] ( 11.8 a.m.): I watched the Queensland edition of the ABC programme ‘This Day Tonight’ last night and witnessed one of the most blatantly biased pieces of so-called objective reporting I have ever seen. The reporter, a young person named Ollie, presented a tissue of claims which amounted to a series of slurs against the integrity of the Queensland Police Force without any attempt to separate allegations from fact.
The programme was an example of pure, unadulterated bias. It made not even the slightest pretext of balanced reporting in its coverage of a recent police operation at Cedar Bay near Cooktown. It presented statements against police as fact without any attempt to substantiate or question the statements. This is the sort of reporting that has brought the programme into disrepute in Queensland.
It should be of interest to members of this House and the taxpaying public that the persons in control of this programme suddenly found the resources to expend a large amount of public money to send a television team 1 500 miles to promote the image of convicted drug offenders at a time when the ABC is reported to be going through an intense period of self-examination and cost-cutting.
There was no attempt at any stage during the programme to question the claims of any person interviewed, particularly with regard to the reason why police were called to visit the area. The reason, of course, was that police had received firm information that illegal drugs were being grown and used in the area by some of the residents. The fact that during the raid police confiscated 100 marijuana plants, which would have had a value on the illicit market of $20,000 was not mentioned. This fact was published widely in other sections of the media.
I want to make the point at this stage that there was no attempt in the programme to draw any line of demarcation between the communities living at Cedar Bay. The area where police made their arrests was in the northern section of Cedar Bay where a group of undesirable persons had assembled and were living in complete squalor. The stench of human excrement was overpowering and the rotting carcasses of two wild pigs lay near a sluggish creek which served as a water supply.
The people in this area were not on a lease as claimed in the programme. I am advised that they had erected illegal structures in a sanctuary- a State timber reserve which is soon to be declared a national park. They had defiled the area by growing illegal drugs, killing wildlife and living in a state of indescribable filth.
I make the distinction between the people living in this area where the arrests took place and those living in the central or southern region of the bay, who were reported to be living in far more healthy and hygienic conditions although they, too, were camped illegally on a State reserve and were requested by police to vacate. No other action was taken by police against these residents.
No attempt was made to ask the residents of this so-called harmless’ northern commune just what their leader or associates might wish to do with $20,000 worth of marijuana once the crop reached maturity. Nor was any mention made in the programme of the fact that one resident is now in Stuart Gaol as a result of the raid, after pleading guilty to a charge of possessing marijuana seed, which I have no doubt was ready for the next planting.
The programme made no mention of the fact previously published in other sections of the media that an escapee from the Cairns Watchhouse was suspected of being in the Cedar Bay area at the time of the raid. In the light of the biased attitude of the segment, screened last night I feel it is my responsibility as Minister to bring before this House information regarding this escapee. The person in question was being held in custody pending the hearing of charges brought by Federal narcotics agents. The same escapee is reputedly wanted for questioning overseas regarding drugtrafficking, the murder of a police officer and the murder of a prison warden.
This person escaped from the Cairns Watchhouse with assistance from others outside and was reported to police as being seen in the Cedar Bay area. It will also be of interest to this House that persons suspected of assisting in the escape of the person from the Cairns Watchhouse were known to be living in the northern part of Cedar Bay.
This House should also know that a number of residents of the Cedar Bay area fled into the jungle on arrival of police and could not be apprehended.
During the program emphasis was given to the inaccessibility to the area which was the subject of the raid. Yet the television team seemed to have no trouble in reaching the area and nor would any person who was interested in drug smuggling. The program made every attempt to give the viewer the impression that the people living in this particular settlement were there as sweet, naked innocents with their only interest to live in peace with the sun and the South Pacific. It made no mention of the fact that these ‘innocents’ had $20,000 worth of drugs growing in their back yard.
Four people were charged with drug offences as a result of the raid and I understand that two are now serving gaol sentences in Townsville. No mention was made of the interesting fact that the major offender- the man convicted of growing $20,000 worth of illegal drugs- had by some happy coincidence, avoided going to gaol when his fine was suddenly paid in Cooktown by another person. I hope members of this House are not naive enough to think that this benefactor who came good to think that of $500 was j lust some passing Good
Samaritan who just happened to be in Cooktown as part of his leisure pursuits.
Members of this House should also know that the person so convicted was apprehended armed with a shot-gun making towards the beach where other persons arrested during the raid were being held and that the shot-gun was discharged in a struggle with police.
It is a fact- of course, not reported in the program- that many residents of the area were armed and fired shots when they fled into the jungle away from police. It is also a fact that the attendance of the naval patrol vessel HMAS Bayonet was considered necessary because of the unusually large number of trawlers reported to be in the area- some of which were suspected of drug-trafficking. This House should be informed that, although no evidence of drugs was found on any vessel, a number ran from the patrol boat and had to be chased before a search could take place.
It is a matter of common knowledge that there is a festering drug problem in some areas of Far North Queensland, which have a climate and isolation suitable to the growing of illegal drugs. Yet no mention of this problem was made in the program, nor was mention made of the contribution the $20,000 Cedar Bay crop might make to the problem. I am intrigued that there was no attempt by the program to interview any law-abiding members of the North Queensland community, who have expressed their mounting concern about the problems of drug use and trafficking in the area.
No mention was made of the police contribution to combating this problem, despite the fact that some five weeks previously the same program had run a story that North Queensland was wide open to drug-trafficking and that a Federal committee should look into the situation as a matter of urgency.
It is also necessary for this House to be informed that at no time has any official complaint been received concerning police action at Cedar Bay by myself, by the acting magistrate in Cooktown who heard the charges, or by any person in authority. The allegations have come only from those who have most to gain by attempting to discredit police in their attempts to stamp out drug abuse and drug-trafficking in the area.
I understand that some police officers who took part in the raid were considering legal action against the program as a result of unsubstantiated claims it contained. I trust that the program is not another victim of an obvious campaign by drug pushers and vested interest to discredit police action against drug problems in North Queesland. I can assure this House that such a campaign to discredit police in their pursuit of drug offenders will not succeed.
There will be no haven in North Queensland where people can disregard the law. There will be no pockets of isolated jungle where they can grow and use illegal drugs. This obvious campaign to discredit police action only increases my own resolve and that of the Queensland Police Force to attack the drug problem with renewed dedication and vigour. I repeat- there will be no haven for the pushers and users of illegal drugs in this State. I give my full support to the Queensland Police Force in their efforts to stamp out the presence of this evil in our society.
Honourable Members: Hear, Hear!
Cooktown 15 September 1976
On Tuesday morning, 14 September 1976, (approx. time 5.30 a.m.- still dark) 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 I was under the impression that the Cooktown police had been informed of this incident in West Australia, but felt as long as Bob and Kerry abided by the law in Queensland, they would have no trouble.
Kerry told me her 2 year old son, Rain would accompany them to Cooktown police station until the court hearing at 1 0 o’clock. She and Rain were visibly upset and shocked. I arrived at Cooktown court when session was over and Kerry and Bob told me they had to go down to Cairns police station to await arrival of West Australian authorities. They asked me to look after their son Rain and their home and gardens until they returned.
My name is Peter Keith Harris, 33, tin-miner and builders labourer of Rossville via Cooktown.
On the day following the police raid at Cedar Bay, I was in Cooktown and heard that a friend of mine. Leigh, had been arrested’ and ‘convicted’ for growing marijuana.
Knowing the person in question, and hearing of his statement that the plants had nothing to do with him, I contributed $256 towards paying his $500 fine.
After hearing the stories of the released victims, the following day I went to Cedar Bay to see for myself, whilst there I saw the photographs, that later appeared in the press, being taken and can verify the authenticity of same, and I will also state that the newspapers account of the damage inflicted upon private property, on private land appears to be somewhat understated.
Also it appears that there is some question as to the helicopter used, the one that passed over me, and heading towards Cedar Bay at about I o ‘clock on the day of the raid was white with red stripes etc.
On the Sunday when the raid at Cedar Bay occurred I was visiting a friend in Hope St, Cooktown when we noticed- 3 police vehicles drive into town. A short while later another 2 vehicles drive in. About a half hour later I drove past the police station on the way down to the waterfront to check on my boat. I noticed quite a few vehicles inside the police station yard and various men and women also there. Some seemed to be in uniform and others in plainclothes- also there was a group of 4 or 5 all of whom were carrying revolvers walking across the road. One had a revolver in his hand by his side and the others had theirs in holsters.
The next day- Monday- I went to the Court House to inquire about another matter and noticed the people being held in the police cells and also was told that Mr Arrowsmith was hearing their cases.
That night after a meeting I was informed that some of those who had been before the Court that morning considered they had been unfairly victimised by both the police and the magistrate. I went to Andersons Caravan Park where some of them were staying and asked them if they wished to take the matter further and would be prepared to write out statements for me to forward to Senator Keeffe about their allegations. Most of the people were still afraid after their ordeal and expressed the fear that the police would try and get back at them through their friends who were still in jail or by going to Cedar Bay again later and destroying their belongings again and for arresting them on trumped up charges. They told me they would discuss it that night and for me to see them the next morning.
On the morning I went and got Candy, Peter and Mick and we went to the Sovereign Motel to see two A.L.P. representatives- Johnathan West and Dave Parker. After some discussion we went back to the caravan park and the people there wrote out their statements. I witnessed most of these and I think that one was witnessed by another person who lives near Cedar Bay and knows the people quite well. I then went with my wife and Candy to the police station and asked permission to speak to the 2 remaining people in jail. Sergeant Marchant said we would have to wait until the van arrived which would take them back to Cairns. I then asked him if I could give them a biro and paper to write out a statement for me to send to Senator Jim Keeffe. His reply was: ‘If bloody Senator Keeffe wants a bloody statement he can come here and get it himself- or words to this effect. We then waited until the police van arrived and had about 5 minutes to speak to the prisoners- mainly to advise them we were trying to get them legal representation for an appeal.
The following day 2 friends of mine went down to Cedar Bay and took a large quantity of photos of the damagesome of these photos have since been published in the newspapers.
On Thursday I saw some of these photos and arranged to collect some and take them out to the airport the next day to Ms Penny Cook who was coming up to collect the photos and statements I had collected earlier. It should also be mentioned here that on either Wednesday or Thursday the local police raided the home of one of the people who took the photos and although they said it was a drug raid they seemed most interested in his camera. On Friday I delivered 7 of the photos and the statements to Ms Cook.
On Saturday my wife, baby and myself went in our boat down to Cedar Bay to see what had happened. We went past old Bills hut to where the people had been arrested and their houses and possessions allegedly destroyed. At the same time there was a film crew from the ABC there who were filming and doing interviews. I was able to recognise the burnt buildings from the photos and also the large garden area. It was obvious that things were being tidied up but I noticed large numbers of paw paw trees cut down and a stack of green granadillase paw paws which it was claimed the police had hacked from the vines and trees. There was also a drum which had what appeared to be a large number of bullet holes in it. There was still considerable evidence despite the clean-up of some people running amuck with machettes and guns and destroying these peoples crops and possessions. The photos are definitely authentic and were taken of this area.
Signed Colin Ford.
Witness: C. Ford.
-The fourth group comprises statements by Palm Islanders.
The documents read as follows-
STATEMENT MADE BY BILLO SKUTHORPE (Aged 55 years) TAKEN BY ALANNA DOOLAN ON THE 4TH DAY OF SEPTEMBER 1976 AT TOWNSVILLE
I wasborn on Palm Island and I attended school there.I have lived there all my life, even though I have been out on the mainland occasionally. Just recently, I was out at Cloncurry for about 18 months. I went back to Palm Island because I have a ten year old son there and I wanted to see him.
The mother of my son is presently living with another man on the Island and when I went back to Palm, they invited me to stay with them in their home.
The woman who had the child to me is Agnes Woten and she has now married Albert Woten. I was staying with them. My son was put into my permanent custody by the Children’s Services in Townsville. I went to Palm to see about getting him out here on the mainland with me.
On Sunday, the 19th of September, I was at home on the Island with Agnes and Albert Woten. I had been drinking a bit and somehow a domestic argument started between myself and Agnes. It was about our son. I don’t remember exactly how it started. Whilst I was arguing with Agnes, I was hit from behind on the back of the head by Albert Woten. I think he hit me with a hammer. He then began to bash me about the legs and body with the hammer and I was bleeding quite a bit.
I then went to the hospital where the doctor admitted me straight away. I got several stitches in my knee where I had been hit. The doctor on the Island would have all the medical details of my injuries. His name is Dr Speares and he comes from the Townsville Hospital occasionally to work on Palm.
Whilst I was in hospital on this day, I was in bed. Next thing I knew the white sergeant from the police on the Island came into the ward where I was and dragged me out of bed.
At this stage the doctor wasn’t there. There were three other murrays there though and they were, Timmy Kidney, Sandy Boyd and Kevin Barry. They saw what happened. Anyway, the sergeant dragged me out of bed and he started to hit me with his fists. He dragged me out of the ward to the back of the hospital to where the outpatients side is. Then out there he continued to hit me about the face and body with his fists. I was bleeding a lot. I couldn’t hit him back as I was too weak. I am a sick man and I have a weak heart condition. I have special tablets which I have to take for my heart condition.
After he finished beating me, he put me in the police van and on the way to the gaol he continued to belt me. I was then locked up that night and early the next morning I was put on the plane to come over to Townsville. The sergeant told me before I left that the Councillors on the Island said that I had to leave and that I wasn ‘t allowed back at all. I wasn ‘t given a chance to see my son or anyone else on the Island before I was kicked off.
I am presently on an invalid pension. I would like to press charges against the white sergeant on the Island and I intend to seek legal advice on this.
At the moment, I am staying with a friend, Opal Palmer at 1 1 5 Bundock Street, Belgian Gardens.
Dated this day of 19 .
STATEMENT MADE BY WILLIAM JOSEPH ADAMS TAKEN BY ALANNA DOOLAN ON THE 24TH DAY OF SEPTEMBER 1976 AT TOWNSVILLE
My name is Willie Adams and I was on Palm Island on the 30th June 1 945.I left the Island when I was about 4 years old with my family and we went to live in Woorabinda Mission. I don’t remember why we left the Island as I was too little.
I am now living in Townsville under the mango trees as I have no place to go.
I stayed in Woorabinda Mission until I was about 2 1 years of age. I have been back to the Island about two or three times since I left when I was a child. On this last time that I went back to the Island, which would have been early last year I stayed with my aunt, Lena Mathieson and my other relations. I have many relations and friends on Palm.
*On the particular day that I was approached by the white sergeant of the police on the Island I was at a friend’s place and I was just coming out. The sergeant sang out to me and I walked over to him and he showed me this piece of paper. He said that the paper was saying that I was to get off the Island. He never gave me a chance to read it at all and I don’t know just what was written. He never gave me a copy either.
*Note: The date was Thursday, 16th September 1976.
I didn ‘t ask him anything or asked him any questions as to why I was being kicked off and he never told me either. I don’t think he knew himself. I was then put into the police car and taken to the gaol and locked up for the night. Early the next morning at about 9.30 a.m. we left on the plane to go to Townsville.
They never gave a chance to see our families or get any of our things together. Before we left that morning on Friday morning the 17th of September, the white sergeant went to our homes and got some of our clothing.
I was receiving social service on the Island and getting about $82.50 per fortnight and I always bought food for my auntie and the others in the house.
Before I got on the dole I was working on the Island some time ago now. The Government gave us a grant of some kind (Willie didn’t quite know what grant or where it came from- - State or Federal). Apparently, a grant was given to the Island and we got paid to do certain jobs. My job was to clean up, pull out long grass etc. I worked for a while but we were put off as they ran out of money. On this job I was getting about $125 per fortnight. We worked from about 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. 5 days a week.
I have never been in any real serious trouble before on the Island. I was in gaol some years ago but only for fighting with my woman.
William J. Adams
Dated this 24th day of September 1976.
Witness Bill Rosser
*Note: Willie was not given a copy of the paper which was supposed to be authorised by the Palm Island Council saying that he was to leave the Island.
STATEMENT MADE BY CHARLIE ISAACS (ALIAS CHARLIE SERICHO) TAKEN BY ALANNA DOOLAN ON THE 27TH OF SEPTEMBER 1976 AT TOWNSVILLE
My name is Charlie Isaacs and I also have another name which I use sometimes and that is Charlie Sericho. I was born on the 8/8/ 1 958 at Cherbourg Mission.
Before this time when I was kicked off last week, I had been on the Island twice before on different occasions. The last time I would have been there for about 2 months. I was living with a girl on the Island and we both lived with her mother, Kalatina Johnson. I am receiving unemployment benefits at the present time. When I first arrived on the Island I approached the Council for a job as I heard that there were a few jobs available. When I asked them for a job, the Councillors told me that I couldn’t get a job on the Island as I was not a resident. So I applied for social security benefits.
On Thusday afternoon, the 16th September 1976 I was on the beach drinking some beer (a carton) with some friends. I was on my way walking back home after having a couple of beers with them when the police car pulled me up. They just told be to jump in and I did. There were about five other blokes in the car. We were all taken to the gaol and locked up for the night. The police never told me anything until I was in the gaol that afternoon. They told me that I was being put off the Island because I was a non-resident. They showed me a slip of paper at the gaol which said that I was being put off. They told us all that the Council had agreed.
After spending the night in the gaol, we were then taken to the airport and we left on the plane to go to Townsville at about 9.30 a.m. I was not allowed to see anyone before I left. I never saw my girlfriend or my friends. I never even got any clothes. The only clothes I got is what I have on now. My other clothes are still on the Island.
The next morning before we left on the plane, my auntie came down to the gaol and gave me $5 and also gave Patrick Martin $5.
I am staying with another aunt here in Townsville and as soon as I get my first social security cheque I am going back to Cherbourg.
I have been in a bit of trouble on the Island. I was never in gaol or anything. I just had a couple of fights with one of the Baira boys. After the fights, ‘Dukie’ Baira, who is the Chairman of the Council, has had it in for me ever since.
Dated this 27th day of September 1 976.
*Note: Charlie was not given a copy of the paper which was supposed to be authorised by the Island Councillors saying that he was to leave the Island.
STATEMENT MADE BY ALAN JOE MICKLO TAKEN BY ALANNA DOOLAN ON THE 24TH DAY OF SEPTEMBER 1976 AT TOWNSVILLE
My name is Alan Micklo and I was at Cherbourg Mission on the 14th August 1955.I lived at Cherbourg until I was about 19 years old. I now live at 110 Little Perkins Street South Townsville.
The first time I went to Palm Island was about 3 years ago. I was living there with my woman and my two children. I have been back and forwards to the mainland in this time. I was kicked off the Island several times by the Councillors as they told me that I was a non-resident and I had to leave.
The reason that I do go to the Island is because I have two children, aged 1 year and 6 months. My woman is also there and we still have a relationship going. I have been going with her now for about 3 years and she is recognised as my wife. She was born and bred on Palm and is still living there.
On the day that I was approached by the white sergeant and other police on the Island. This would be on Thursday the 16th September. It was some time in the afternoon and I was at my mother-in-law’s house when the sergeant came up and told me that I had to leave the Island as I was a nonresident and the Councillors said I had to leave.
I was then put into the police car and taken to the gaol where I spent the night and then 1 was put on the plane in the morning, Friday 17th, and taken to Townsville. I was not given a chance to see my wife and children or any of my friends or relations. I never had a chance also to get any of my belongings and stuff.
I have worked on the Island before. I was only doing some casual work on the sanitary and building houses. This job was only for a couple of days and I was paid off.
I then applied for social service and was getting $82 per fortnight. I was also supporting my wife and children. She has applied for unmarried mothers pension.
I would like to go back to Palm Island. I really want to see my wife and children, but they have stopped me.
Alan J. Micklo
Dated this 24th day of September 1976. Witness W. Fossy
Also: Alan was not given a copy of the paper which was supposed to be authorised by the Palm Island Council saying that he had to leave Palm Island.
STATEMENT MADE BY PATRICK MICHAEL MARTIN TAKEN BY ALANNA DOOLAN ON THE 27TH DAY OF SEPTEMBER 1976 AT TOWNSVILLE
My name is Patrick Michael Martin and I am 1 7 years of age. I was born on Palm Island mission. I was brought up on Cherbourg Mission. Both my parents have died and I don’t remember much when I was small of when we left the Island.
I had been living on Palm Island for about 2 years up until the time I got kicked off recently. I have been doing some work unloading cargo off the boats. I did this for about 7 months. I got no pay for this as I usually got money off my mates and friends. I never really cared about getting any pay.
I lived with my auntie, Kay Roberts. I did not get any social security benefits as I did not apply for any. I only finished school in 1971.
On the day that the police on the Island came around to get me, I was having breakfast at my auntie’s place when I saw the police car pull up in front of the house. A white copper got out and also one of the black policeman, Frankie Hughes, was in the back. Frankie called out to me and I walked outside to where they were standing. Frankie showed me a slip of paper which said that I was being kicked off the Island. I did not read it properly. I just said to Frankie Hold on, I ‘11 get some shirts. ‘ He said, ‘ No, you got a shirt in your back pocket. ‘ They then told me to jump in the back of the police car.
I jumped in the back of the car. There was only one other person in the car and that was Willie Adams. I was then taken to the gaol house and locked up for the night. Early the next morning we were all put on the plane to go to Townsville. There were about 6 others with me who were being put off the Island on that morning. The day that I was approached by the police to leave was on the Thursday, the 16th September 1976. We left for the mainland the following morning, the 1 7th September.
We were never given a chance to see any friends or relatives before we left. We also never got a chance to get our belongings
I have never been in trouble with the police or anyone else on the Island since I have been there. I will now go back to Cherbourg Mission I suppose. I would like to go back to the Island to live if they will let me. They told me that I was a non-resident of the Island and that is why they were kicking me off.
Patrick Michael Martin Dated this 27 day of September 1 976.
Note: Patrick was not given a copy or the paper which was supposed to be authorised by the Palm Island Council saying that he was to leave the Island.
STATEMENT MADE BY EDWARD SIBLEY TAKEN BY ALANNA DOOLAN ON THE 22ND DAY OF SEPTEMBER 1976 AT TOWNSVILLE
My name is Eddie Sibley and I was born on Palm Island on 22 January 1956. 1 went to school there when I was a kid for about 4 years. I left the Island when I was about 10 years old and I went to Mackay with the rest.of my family. The reason why we left was because my family were kicked off in 1957 after we had some trouble there and a few other families were also put off the Island. Our family went to Mackay. I continued to go to school at Mackay and lived there for most of my life.
I went back to Palm Island about 2 years ago and have lived there on and off during this time. I regard Palm Island as my home as I was born there.
I worked on Palm on the new dam site doing general work. I worked 6 days a week getting $140 per week and working from 6 a.m. until 5 p.m. each day. I worked for Goldrings who are the building contractors on the dam. I would have been working on the dam for about 2 weeks, the job was only casual anyway. When the casual job was finished, I got my pay and then I applied for social service. I now get about $82 per fortnight.
I was living with my girlfriend, who stays with her grandmother on the Island. I paid rent and helped with food and stuff.
I have only one offence and that was for being drunk and I spent one night in gaol.
On the day that I was approached by the police, which was a Thursday afternoon, 16 September 1976, I was walking home and the sergeant, Sergeant Pat Sweeney and the other white policeman, Constable Ian Sturgess, called out to me from the police car. The sergeant called out to me and he said, ‘Jump in the back’. (Meaning jump in the back of the police car). I asked him, ‘What for?’. He then showed me a slip of paper, which I didn’t read properly. He told me that I wasn ‘t a resident of the Island and that I had to leave. It was signed by Councillors. I was then taken to the gaol. When I was put in the police car, there were already 4 other blokes in the van. There was Willie Adams, Barry Rosser, Alan Micklo and the fellow Sericho and we were all taken down to the gaol. I spent the night there and early the next morning at about 9.30 a.m. we left on the plane to go to Townsville.
I had no time to see my girlfriend before I left or to see any of my other relatives and friends. The police officer got our belongings on the morning before we left on Friday 17 September 1976.
Dated this 22nd day of September 1976.
Note: Edward was not given a copy of the paper which was supposed to be authorised by the Palm Island Council saying that he was to leave Palm Island.
STATEMENT MADE BY MISS PAULETTE NUGGINS TAKEN BY ALANNA DOOLAN ON THE 22ND DAY OF SEPTEMBER 1976 AT TOWNSVILLE
My name is Paulette Nuggins and I am 1 7 years of age and I was bom at Palm Island. I am presently living with my grandfather, Jack Barry, at 37 Leeds Street, Gulliver.
I was recently living on Palm Island with my boyfriend, George James who lives with his mother on the Island. His mother was in the Townsville General Hospital having a baby at the time I was kicked off the Island a few days ago. I was looking after her other 6 small children together with my boyfriend while she was away. Usually women have their babies on the Island, but Mrs James had to come to Townsville Hospital as they were going to perform some operation on her to stop her having more children.
On the particular day that I was approached by the white police sergeant on the Island who was accompanied by a couple of other policeman (Aboriginal), I was at home. One of the policemen (Sergeant) came up to me on Thursday afternoon, that’s 16 September. He asked me who I was and I told him and he then told me that I had to leave on the afternoon plane to go back to the mainland. I did not ask him why and he then took me to the police station. But before we went to the police station, they took me down to the jetty to see if Jacob Baira, the chairman of the Island Council, was there. He was unloading some cargo off the boat. He was not there so they took me to the police station and locked me up for the night.
At the gaol I asked them why they were putting me in gaol and the sergeant told me that he had no reason only that he was told by ‘ Dukie ‘ Baira (Jacob Baira ) that she had to leave the Island on the plane leaving the Island the next afternoon, on 1 7 September. Early on the Friday the next day at about 9.30 a.m. I was put on the plane to return to the mainland.
I forgot to mention that before I was taken to the gaol on the Thursday afternoon, I managed to get a couple of things like clothes which I wraped up in some paper and I also went to see Mary Twaddle, she is also a Council member. I asked Mary Twaddle why I was being kicked off and Mary said that the reason was because I was an ‘outsider’ and a nonresident of the Island.
I was not given a chance to appear before the Island Cour and I never had a chance to speak up for myself. They just told me I had to go and that was it. I was not even given time to see my boyfriend either or see how the children were and I could not see my friends and I did not get a chance to get all my belongings.
There were also 6 other Black fellows on the plane who were being put off with me. They were Alan Micklo, Eddie Sibley, Willie Adam, Patrick Martin, Darryl Ryan and Barry Rosser.
I was born and bred on Palm Island and I was a small child when I left with my family. We left of our own accord, I don’t remember much as I was too little. But we did move to the mainland and lived at Roseneath, just outside of Townsville. My father got a job out on the mainland with my grandfather who got him the job. We lived there until about 1 963 and we then lived in Woorabinda Mission and in Brisbane for about 1 1 years.
I went back to the Island with my girlfriend a few months ago and we were kicked off by the Council for no reason. I went back after about 2 days and I saw the Council and I had an argument with them about why they didn’t want me on the Island any more. I never done anything wrong, I never been in trouble with the police before. I only had a silly fight with another girl, but that was not much. It was just a sort of domestic argument and nobody got hun.
I don’t drink at all. I was working at the Palm Island store for a while as a cashier. 1 was working from 7.30 in the morning until 5 p.m. in the afternoon and that was 6 days a week. I was getting 82 dollars per fortnight.
When we worked there, we had to stand at the till all day and it was very tiring and then we had to sweep and mop up before we finished for the day. I worked there for about 3 months and I was put off because I missed a couple of days work as I was sick. I told the manager but he would not listen to me and he just paid me off. A new boss came up from Brisbane and he put me off. I then put in for social service and I get $72 per fortnight and I am still getting it at the present time.
Not long ago ‘Dukie’ Baira asked me to work back in the store to get enough money to pay my way off the Island. I refused to work there as I work very hard and they don ‘t give enough pay. I get more money on social service. When I was staying with my boyfriend’s mother I used to pay my rent and help her with the children. I don ‘t know why they put me off because I am not an outsider as I was born there and a lot of relations and friends are still there.
Dated this 22nd day of September 1976.
Note: Paulette was not given a copy or the paper which was supposed to be authorised by the Palm Island Council saying that she was to leave the Island.
– by leave- Mr President, on the basis that you are satisfied that the documents are the right sort of documents and are capable of being incorporated I certainly would not refuse leave. But I raise a broader issue and I do not think that Senator Keeffe will take offence from what I say. Occasionally there is disputation around the chamber as to whether or not something should be incorporated. You will recall, Mr President, that this matter was looked at some time ago by the Standing Orders Committee and certain rules were laid down. I suggest that at the next meeting of the Standing Orders Committee, which I trust will be before the Parliament resumes in 1977, this matter be looked at again. I do not think that it is the sort of matter which should be debated within this chamber. The general question of incorporation was raised last time by the Committee. It was dealt with in a calm atmosphere. I think that some sensible arrangements were reached. I am not pointing the finger at honourable senators on either side but there has been a bit of edginess occasionally about whether or not documents ought to be incorporated. I ask that you place the matter on the agenda for the next meeting of the Standing Orders Committee.
– Thank you for the reference, and it shall be done.
Senator KEEFFE (Queensland )-by leave-I wish to make a statement on the same subject. If the incorporation of material in Hansard is carried out on an orderly basis I will not object to it but on occasions such as happened last evening obviously I will become very edgy and feel that I am the victim of some sort of unjustified political assault. If the case had not been so urgent perhaps I would not have felt so tender about it. But this case involves 2 or 3 groups of people who are really in a very bad way. The Press does not have the same access to papers which are tabled that they have to the written word in Hansard. I hope that when the Standing Orders Committee has a look at this matter its interpretations will remain fairly generous. It is very seldom that we on this side of the Parliament have objected to the incorporation of documents by honourable senators opposite when in government or opposition. I hope that they will be generous in the future. One of the excuses that was given last night was that it would cost too much money to print the documents in Hansard. It will be a very sad day for democracy in Australia when we start to quibble over a few dollars in relation to whether or not the public at large ought to know the contents of a document. I hope that that will not be one of the considerations which the Committee takes into account.
– Pursuant to section 9 1 of the Superannuation Amendment. Act 1976 I present the annual report of the Superannuation Board for the year ended 30 June 1976.
– Pursuant to section 7 of the Tobacco Industry Act 1955 I present the annual report on the Tobacco Industry Trust Account for the year ended 30 June 1976.
– For the information of honourable senators I present the record of the eighteenth meeting of the Australian Water Resources Council held in Perth on 27 September 1976.
– For the information of honourable senators I present the River Murray Working Party report to the Steering Committee of Commonwealth-State Ministers, together with a statement by the Acting Minister for National Resources relating to that report. I thank Senator McLaren for containing his impatience over the delay in presenting the report.
-Mr President, I seek leave to make a short statement on the report of the River Murray Working Party which the Minister for Administrative Services (Senator Withers) has presented but which he has not read out.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– I feel very pleased today that at last this report has been tabled in the Parliament. I am reminded of the old saying that all good things come to those who wait, but some have to wait longer than others. I put myself in that category as I have had to wait longer than others. I first raised the matter of the River Murray Working Party in this Parliament on 1 8 February and the last time I raised it was on Tuesday of this week. I want to clarify 2 things arising out of my questions. Senator Withers, on behalf of the Minister for National Resources (Mr Anthony), incorporated in the Hansard of 30 March an answer to a question asked by me. The answer in part reads as follows:
Delays in effecting staffing changes consequential upon changes in departmental responsibility for water matters caused unavoidable delay with my Department in instituting the necessary follow-up measures. However, I now expect to be able to inform the Senate of the Government’s decision concerning the report and its recommendations in the near future.
I asked Senator Withers for the last time on Tuesday of this week about the tabling of the report, and he said in reply in part:
The last briefing note which I received last week said that one of the State Premiers had still not replied and that this was the sole reason why the report had not been released.
So we have had 2 conflicting statements. I do not blame Senator Withers for that in any way at all, but neither do I want to lay any blame on the present New South Wales Government because there was a change of government in that State on 1 May. If any blame is to be laid on anyone because the Premiers have not written to the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) in response to his request, that blame must attach to the previous New South Wales Government because of its tardiness in making up its mind about whether it was going to agree with the recommendations contained in this report. It has been most disturbing to me, as a member of the Murray Valley Development League to learn from its annual report which I received on 30 March, that it had resolved as follows:
That the League notes with warm approval the recommendations that have been made arising from the deliberations of the River Murray Working Party for an enlargement of the functions of the River Murray Commission and urges the Governments which are parties to the River Murray Waters Agreements to take early action to have the recommendations passed rapidly into law.
I attended a meeting in the precincts of this Parliament on 22 September. Members of
Parliament who were invited to that meeting were provided with a document entitled Notes for Discussion with ‘Murray Valley’ and other members of Parliament at Canberra on September 22, 1976. One of the notes for discussion, under the heading ‘River Murray Commission, River Murray Working Party and its Report’, is as follows:
Our annual report spoke of this River Murray Working Party report at length and approvingly and led to a resolution which called upon the League to press for the recommendations to be enacted rapidly into law. We were able to obtain from the Australian Government Publications Centre in Albury copies of the report itself and we were proceeding to distribute them widely when they were withdrawn from sale. It is a matter of extreme regret that the report itself should not have been widely circulated as soon as it had been received by responsible Ministers. It should not have been necessary to withhold it all this time.
I concur with that statement which is made in the notes provided to members of Parliament who live in the Murray River region or who are associated with it and who attended that meeting in Canberra on 22 September. So now we have got to the situation of the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Withers) tabling the report today. That report can be widely circulated.
I want to make a short comment on a couple of the matters referred to in the statement put down by the Acting Minister for National Resources (Mr Nixon). Part of that statement reads:
A number of salinity control works have also been identified for priority construction by the State governments.
I hope very sincerely that the Australian Government will be most generous in providing funds to the States to carry out that work because, in my opinion, unless that work is put in train without delay- I stress the words ‘without delay’- we may find that a pipeline will have to be constructed from the catchment areas to South Australia to provide that State with a good quality water supply. Those of us who come from South Australia, and no doubt some of the people who live in the area of the Murray River around Mildura, know that we are getting the worst end of the stick as far as water quality is concerned.
– The South Australian Premier delayed the Dartmouth Dam for 2 years.
– I am not getting into a discussion on that. I will debate that matter with Senator Hall at any time he likes to do so, and 1 think he will come out at the wrong end. At the present time I am talking about the tabling of the report of the River Murray Working Party. I hope that the present Australian Government will be most generous in providing funds to the States to carry out the work which is envisaged for salinity control. Finally, I quote from the last paragraph of the Minister’s statement:
The way is now open whereby the four governments car pool their expertise to provide advice to the River Murray Commission on current and emerging problems, having regard to the needs of rural industries and urban development, as well as recreational and environmental aspects along the river system.
I hope that the 3 State governments, in concurrence with the Australian Government, will get down to their work as quickly as possible and carry out the recommendations contained in that report. I have not had an opportunity to read the report. Although I know it has been around this place for a long time I have been unable to get a copy of it. I hope to have a copy of it in my hands in 5 minutes time. I seek leave to move a motion that the Senate take note of the paper.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– I move:
I seek leave to continue my remarks.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
-In respect of the report tabled by the Minister for Administrative Se vices (Senator Withers) on the Tobacco Industry Trust Account, I seek leave to move a motion that the Senate take note of the report.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– I move:
I seek leave to continue my remarks.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
– For the information of honourable senators I present the report of the Australian Research Grants Committee for the triennium 1973-1975.
– On behalf of the Minister for the Capital Territory and pursuant to section 24 of the National Capital Development Commission Act 1957 I present the annual report of the National
Capital Development Commission for the year ended 30 June 1976.
– I bring up the report from Estimates Committee A together with the Hansard record of the Committee’s proceedings.
Ordered that the report be printed.
– I bring up the report from Estimates Committee C together with the Hansard record of the Committee’s proceedings and additional information received by the Committee after 7 October 1976.
Ordered that the report be printed.
– I seek leave to make a brief statement in relation to the report.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– I wish to draw the attention of the Senate to a couple of matters in relation to the report. First of all, Estimates Committee C met only this morning to consider its report and therefore copies are not at present available, but I believe honourable senators will receive copies of the report by the end of the day. Secondly, mention has been made in the report of at least one other Committee of the procedure which it was recommended committees should adopt this year. One committee has recommended rather strongly against the suggested procedure, namely, the matter of committees meeting in advance of public hearings and reaching some agreement on the items on which questions would be asked. I might say on behalf of Estimates Committee C that we had some reservations when we considered this method of procedure. We were concerned that adoption of the method of procedure should not in any way inhibit the present rights of Estimates Committees to ask questions in relation to the estimates of expenditure presented to them by the Government. However, we did try the system and it worked very well so far as we could see. There was no evidence that it reduced the number of public servants appearing before the Committee and indeed we have reason to believe that the number of public servants who appeared was the same number as would have appeared if we had not agreed in advance to supply a list of those items on which questions could be asked. It certainly made procedures within the Committee very much more to the point and very much quicker and it was of assistance to members of the Committee particularly when it was coupled with the early receipt of the explanatory notes which came with the estimates of expenditure. In saying that we think it is a good procedure we do not want to prejudice in any way the future operations of Estimates Committees. We make no recommendations. We just make the comment that it was useful.
One other item on which I would like very briefly to comment is the matter of the timing of the receipt of the Auditor-General’s Report. Some reference is made to this in our report. In my comparatively brief length of time as a senator I seem to recall that we have received the Auditor-General’s Report some days before Committees sat. In this session, the report was received by honourable senators late in the evening before the first scheduled sittings of the Committees. This was a great pity for 2 reasons. The Auditor-General’s Report is a very important document in relation to the considerations of Estimates and honourable senators like to have access to it. It was also unfortunate- certainly when Estimates Committee C met the next day in public hearings- that when certain questions were asked the answer was given that the public servants present had received their copies of the report only that day, that they had not, therefore, had time to consider what was contained in the report and could not come to the Estimates Committee meeting appropriately prepared. That wasted some time and caused some frustration on Estimates Committee C which is asking now, if it is at all possible, that the Auditor-General ‘s Report be made available several days before the meeting of the Estimates Committees in the same manner as the explanatory notes are presented.
-I present the report of Estimates Committee D, together with the Hansard record of the Committee ‘s proceedings.
Ordered that the report be printed.
– I present the report of Estimates Committee E, together with the Hansard record of the Committee’s proceedings.
Ordered that the report be printed.
– I present the report of the Senate Standing Committee on Constitutional and Legal Affairs on its inquiry into the retiring age of judges.
Ordered that the report be printed.
Senator MISSEN (Victoria)-by leave-I move:
In considering the reference the Committee had to consider, firstly, whether it was necessary to amend the Constitution in order to introduce a retiring age for Commonwealth judges and, secondly, whether it was appropriate to fix a retiring age. While one member of the Committee felt that the Parliament might be able to legislate successfully to impose a retiring age for Commonwealth judges, the majority of the Committee was of the opinion that it was essential to amend the Constitution to achieve this purpose.
The Committee, having reviewed the practice in Australia and in other countries, concluded that there was a growing acceptance of the need for a compulsory retiring age for judges. The Committee was unanimous in its recommendations that the Constitution should be amended to fix a retiring age of 70 for judges of the High Court and that Parliament should be empowered to prescribe a retiring age forjudges of the other Federal courts. The Committee recommended that an appropriate retiring age for the other Federal courts would be 65. The Committee recommended that these changes should not affect existing judges but should apply to all judges appointed after the amendment to the Constitution was made. The Committee noted that it was not necessary for the Constitution to be amended in order to prescribe the retiring age for judges of the Territory courts and recommended that the provisions for the appointment and retirement of Territory judges be made uniform.
Debate (on motion by Senator Devitt) adjourned.
Motion ( by Senator Withers) agreed to:
That Government Business take precedence over General Business after 3 p.m. this day.
Motion ( by Senator Withers) agreed to:
That the Senate at its rising adjourn until Tuesday, 2 November, at 2.30 p.m., unless sooner called together by the President, or in the event of the President being unavailable owing to illness or other cause, by the Chairman of Committees.
Assent to the following Bills reported:
States Grants (Capital Assistance ) Bill ( No. 2 ) 1 976.
Handicapped Persons Assistance Amendment Bill 1 976.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Ordered that the Bill may be taken through all its stages without delay.
Motion (by Senator Withers) proposed:
That the Bill be now read a first time.
Debate (on motion by Senator Douglas McClelland) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Ordered that the Bill may be taken through all its stages without delay.
Bill (on motion by Senator Withers) read a first time.
– I move:
This Bill seeks appropriations of the Consolidated Revenue Fund in 1 976-77 for expenditure on: (a) the construction of public works and buildings; (b) the acquisition of sites and buildings; (c) advances and loans; (d) plant and equipment; (e) grants to the States under section 96 of the Constitution; and (0 new policies not authorised by special legislation.
Details of the amounts sought by each department are shown in Schedule 2 to the Bill, the sum of these appropriations being $ 1 , 725,446,000. Of this, $8 1 8,300,600 was authorised by Supply Act (No. 2) 1976-77, the balance of $907,145,400 being authorised by this Bill. The main features of the proposed expenditure were outlined in the Budget Speech. The schedule to this Bill is the same as that contained in the document entitled Particulars of certain proposed expenditure in respect of the year ending on 30 June 1977 which was referred to the Senate Estimates Committees on 19 August for examination and report. I commend the Bill to honourable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator Douglas McClelland) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Ordered that the Bill may be taken through all its stages without delay.
Bill (on motion by Senator Withers) read a first time.
– I move:
I ask for leave to have the second reading speech incorporated in Hansard.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
The speech read as follows-
The purpose of this Bill is to authorise financial assistance to New South Wales towards the cost of constructing weirs and associated works on the Namoi River near Wee Waa in the north of the State. Assistance for this project will be by way of a non-repayable grant of up to $2m of which $lm will be payable in 1976-77. The Commonwealth initially offered financial assistance of $2m to the State in 1972, but legislation had not been introduced before the change of government. The Labor Government confirmed the offer in 1974 on condition that the State conducted a study of the impact of agricultural chemicals associated with irrigated agriculture, mainly cotton, in the Namoi Valley. However, there were lengthy delays in reaching a final agreement. The Bill now before the Senate relates to the decision of this Government to confirm the offer.
The works to which Commonwealth assistance will apply are listed in the Schedule to the Bill. Briefly they consist of the construction of 3 weirs on the Namoi River downstream of Keepit Dam- the Mollee Weir, 13 kilometres by road below Narrabri with a storage capacity of 3660 megalitres, Gunidgera Weir, 6 kilometres upstream of Wee Waa with a capacity of 1 1 70 megalitres, and Weeta Weir, 16 kilometres downstream of Wee Waa with a capacity of 280 megalitres; and a stream regulator below Gunidgera Weir, auxiliary embankments and associated works.
Work on the project is well advanced with Mollee and Gunidgera weirs already complete, except for some minor electrical and mechanical modifications and repairs to associated levees. Construction of Weeta Weir is expected to commence in February 1977 and all work is scheduled for completion by September 1977. The estimated final cost of the works is some $5. 4m. The State will be required to carry out an environmental study into the impact of agricultural chemicals used in irrigated agriculture, mainly cotton, in the Namoi Valley, and the Commonwealth will be consulted on the overall scope of the study. In accordance with the requirements of the legislation, the study program will be subject to the approval of the Minister for National Resources.
The weirs will reduce losses of water by reregulating releases from Keepit Dam and, as an additional benefit, reduce pumping costs of irrigators by the creation of pumping pools. It is expected that the weirs will provide an assured supply of 1 9 000 megalitres of water annually, sufficient for an irrigated area of the order of 2500 hectares. It is likely that this area will be sown to cotton, coarse grains or oilseeds. I commend the Bill to the Senate.
Debate (on motion by Senator Mulvihill) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 19 October, on motion by Senator Guilfoyle:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
-I believe that it is the desire of the Minister for Social Security (Senator Guilfoyle)- the Opposition certainly concurs in this desire- that we debate this Bill with the National Health Amendment Bill (No. 3) 1976, the Health Insurance Amendment Bill (No. 3 ) 1 976 and the Repatriation Acts Amendment Bill (No. 2) 1976.
– That is correct.
– The two main Bills contain provisions which concern this House more than anything else, I believe. The Bills concerned are the Social Services Amendment Bill (No. 3) 1976 and in the Repatriation Acts Amendment Bill (No. 2) 1976. These measures provide for pension and benefit increases in line with the consumer price increases for the March and June quarters of this year; they introduce a form of indexation for pensions and benefits; they provide for an increase in the handicapped children’s allowance; they provide for a change in the means test on pensions and benefits from an income and assets basis to a pure income basis; and they provide for changes to confirm the payment of unemployment benefits on a fortnightly basis rather than a weekly basis and changes in the daily rate of those benefits.
The Opposition is concerned about what we would describe as the sins of commission and omission in these Bills. It is also concerned that the Government is introducing new anomalies and inequalities into the social security system to replace existing anomalies and inequalities. It is also concerned at the blatant disregard of the Government for its election promises. As an expression of this concern the Opposition will move an amendment to the motion for the second reading of Social Services Amendment Bill (No. 3) 1976 and a similar amendment at a later date to the Repatriation Acts Amendment Bill (No. 2) 1976. 1 now move:
At end of motion, add: but the Senate deplores the inequities which arise from-
the Government’s failure to carry out its election promise to legislate for immediate and automatic increases in pensions and benefits in line with the Consumer Price Index;
the Government’s failure to index dependants’ allowances to meet increases in the cost of living;
the Government’s failure to increase the supplementary benefit;
the Government’s failure to provide for the automatic adjustment of unemployment and sickness benefits for those under 1 8 years of age; and
the Government’s failure to protect the incomes of those pensioners adversely affected by provisions in this legislation. ‘
Before proceeding to the specific matters in the Bills I would like to comment generally on what we see as the Government’s approach in this area, particularly on the Government’s attitude to future planning and developments in social security. The social security system in this country, as we all know, has developed in a piecemeal manner over the last 76 years. The system has always had fairly modest aims, namely the alleviation of poverty and in the case of aged pensioners the prevention of poverty. I think we all would agree that there is ample evidence to show that in attempting to achieve these modest aims we have failed and the system has failed. Recognising this, the previous Liberal-Country Party Government commissioned an inquiry into poverty under Professor Henderson. The Labor Government continued and extended it.
In the past 3 years we have had inquiries of various sorts and reports of various sorts from the Social Welfare Commission, from Professor Hancock on superannuation, from Mr Justice Woodhouse on compensation, and from the various voluntary agencies and others concerned in social welfare in this country. At the moment we are awaiting several government reports from the Income Security Review Committee, from the Committee of Inquiry into Housing for the Aged and from the Bailey Task Force on Health and Welfare. Other inquiries such as that by the Medibank Review Committee, have been undertaken. Whether we will see any of these reports is another matter. The outcome of all these reports is, I believe, a picture which we cannot be part of. It is a picture of unnecessary poverty and injustices which in most cases is defined on what Professor Henderson called an austere poverty line. I suggest that, if we defined the definition of poverty beyond just income to include access to basic services, personal self-respect, opportunity for self-advancement and access to the law and to the decision making processes in our community, the position is much worse.
The Government has made some selective changes to the welfare system. Members of the Government have proclaimed Professor Henderson’s report as the basis for these changes. However, Professor Henderson’s proposals were carefully considered and carefully written. They consisted of a series of interlocking and intermeshing recommendations which considered carefully the ramifications of each proposal and took into account any adverse effects that the implementation of those recommendations would make. For instance, when the Commission of Inquiry into Poverty made recommendations concerning family allowances it equally as firmly recommended the provision of further proper child care services. The Government, I put to the Senate, ignored the latter. A similar position applies to the report which recommends a change in the means test from an income and assets test to a pure income test. The report recognises that to preserve some justice in the situation some recognition of the position of capital gains on assets would have to be made. The Government has ignored this recommendation, I believe, because of ideological difficulties and because of the high concern that conservative governments traditionally place on the position of property in our community. I suggest that the Government, in doing so, has changed the anomalies and injustices which exist under the present means test for another set of anomalies and injustices. This selective niching from Professor Henderson’s report or from any report, I believe, is dangerous. I believe that it ensures that the same piecemeal approach which we have taken for the provision of welfare in this community will continue.
I believe this approach has resulted in a decrease in the morale of those concerned with social security in this country. I believe that this approach after 3 years of hope that at least some change was going to be made, that something was going to happen, has caused this decrease in morale, certainly in the voluntary agencies. I suggest there is some evidence of this approach within the Government departments themselves. I do not believe any smooth words of reassurance from Government members can hide this fact.
It is obvious to all concerned that the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser), determined that life should not be easy, that those who receive support should be worthy of it as well as in need of it, and steeped in the tradition of the protection of property rights in the community, has been continuously concerning himself, and some may say interfering, with the field of social security. The Income Security Review tribunal, for instance, has been converted from a review tribunal to a tribunal whose aim and exercise are to cut government spending at all costs. I believe that this is why we have substituted the open inquiries of the last 3 years with secret and private inquiries that we have now; inquiries that will result in legislation, as we had in the Medibank legislation, without this Parliament or the public having any real idea what the committee that looked into a subject reported, why it suggested those changes, or why the changes were brought in at all.
It is obvious from instructions to departmental heads, to the Director-General of the Department of Social Security and from the Prime Minister to his Ministers concerning the Henderson Report that the main concern is not reform of the administration of the system. It is not an openminded and general approach to recommendations relieving injustices. The approach is whether the implementation can be hived-off to State and local authorities, whether the recommendations conflict with the Government’s preconceived philosophical or ideological bias and whether the recommendations appear to do other than directly relieve poverty; that is, poverty when it is defined in terms of money.
– In Henderson’s terms.
– Professor Henderson also clearly sets out that it was a restricted definition, and Senator Baume knows it well. This approach, which is selective and inhibited by conservative hangups, is concerned more with filching political gimmicks with little concern for any evaluation of how those proposals will work.
The first point in our amendment refers to the new pension indexation proposals. The Government made great play of this proposal in the last election campaign. It made great play of its intention automatically to index pensions and benefits, but it went further than that. Mr Chipp, who was then the Minister for Social Security in the caretaker Government, made it quite clear what government policy was. He made it clear that his policy had the full approval of both parties in the coalition Government and he spelled it out very clearly in a statement on 8 December when he said:
We propose to bring in legislation which will allow increases in pensions to be made instantly and automatically as soon as the new index is announced. This will eliminate the procedures now necessary in having a debate to debate a Bill in Parliament in order to increase pensions. This procedure takes time and involves a delay of up to 3 months between the announcement of the increases in inflation and the increase in pensions going to pensioners.
Mr Fraser repeatedly during the election campaign lauded this approach. He repeatedly said that the coalition’s proposals to index pensions instantly and automatically were better than Labor’s proposals because there would be no delay, and as soon as the consumer price index figures came out the pensions would automatically rise. There would be no delay in waiting for the average weekly earning figures to come out. This was one of the most clearly spelled out intentions of the Government during the last election campaign. The Government was reminded of it by the Opposition early this year when the first Social Services Amendment Bill came before this House. It was reminded of it by the Pensioners Association many times and it was reminded of it by Mr Chipp during the debate on the first Social Services Amendment Bill of this year. This legislation does not fulfil that promise. It provides for a delay, not of 3 months but of 4 and sometimes 5 months.
There is nothing instant about the provisions in this legislation. It is deliberately reneging on one of the few firm promises of the Government parties. Why is this so? I think it is perfectly clear that the reason is that the Treasurer (Mr Lynch), perhaps under the influence of the Treasury has convinced the Government that it is necessary to cut government spending no matter where it is cut and even if that cut affects the underprivileged in the community. The Government has been willing to go back on its clear election promise. We know that Mr Hayden in the House of Representatives, when this Bill was being debated, tabled the departmental projections of the additional cost of earlier payment and the department found that it would cost some $60m more if the increase had been paid in August, which is still a delay in view of the original proposals. The increased cost may be some $70m if the next pension increase is paid early, say, in February or March. It seems to us that the Treasury and method Treasurer stepped in and out went the proposals and out went the promise. We join with the pensioners associations and those other concerned bodies and express our concern and disgust at this sort of behaviour. This was Liberal-Country Party policy. Labor Party policy was and still remains that indexation to average weekly earnings is the most fair and relative method of adjusting pensions.
– You moved away to the CPI.
– I will come to that. Do not get excited, Senator Baume, to quote Senator Withers. We still believe that this is so. We carried it out when we were in Government by increasing pensions from 19 per cent of average weekly earnings to 25 per cent of average weekly earnings. Senator Walters, who then probably was not even in politics, would not know. We still believe that that is the best method for a couple of reasons. The first reason is that fiddling with the average weekly earning figures is very difficult. Fiddling with the consumer price index, which has been threatened by the Treasurer at various times- he has suggested that perhaps the Medibank levy should not be included and perhaps we should change the CPI to give what he would consider to be a real estimate of cost of living increases- can be too easily done.
We are not concerned that pension increases should have to come before this Parliament and be debated but we are concerned that under indexation proposals like this the present relative level of pensions will remain static even though the wealth, production and conditions in this country improve. We are concerned that this may be considered the final act and that pensions will stay there and perhaps deteriorate to the level to which they deteriorated in the previous 22 years before 1972. We are determined to watch that this does not happen and to do what we can to ensure that it does not happen. It is obvious that those organisations concerned with pensioners also will carefully watch for this and attempt to keep the Government honest. I seek leave to continue my remarks.
Sitting suspended from 1 to 2.1S p.m.
– When the sitting was suspended, in discussing the Social Services Amendment Bill and the Repatriation Amendment Bill, I had been pointing out that the provision in the legislation for indexation of pensions to movements in the consumer price index did not fulfil the election promise made by the present Government. I had pointed out also that Labor’s policy was to index pensions to average weekly earnings as we felt that this was a more real and fairer way of dealing with this matter. I had pointed out further that making provision in this legislation for automatic increases in pensions without the need for Parliament to legislate accordingly did not necessarily mean that pensioners would be treated better in the future; that there was some danger that the Parliament would not come to consider whether the actual relative level of pensions was high enough; that the fact that the legislation provided for an automatic increase might be a convenient excuse for not increasing pensions further when they had fallen behind previous levels as the result of inflation or increases in productivity.
In Labor’s last Budget, pensions were increased in accordance with consumer price index movements. This brought the pension to almost 25 per cent of average weekly earnings, which was the basis on which Labor had perviously granted pension increases. In the last Budget, we said that we had adopted the new method because of economic constraints. We did not seek to alter the legislation to cover inadequacies in our policy.
The second topic which arises from this legislation about which I wish to speak is the problem of the dependent children’s allowance. An amendment to this legislation in April or May of this year also mentioned dependent children. Children who are dependent on pensioners are in a very parlous state in this community. Many reports, including the Henderson Report on Poverty, have pointed out that families with children dependent on benefits and pensions are at a considerable disadvantage. The Labor Party has always been concerned about the children of these pensioners. As honourable senators know, the Labor Government when in office increased the dependent children’s allowance to $7.50 per child a week. We feel that if an argument can bc made to index the general pension twice yearly on the basis of movements in the consumer price index there is an argument also to increase allowances paid to children who are dependent children.
Arguments have been put, I know, that the new family allowance scheme somehow makes it unnecessary to increase dependent childrens allowances. The argument suggests that the family allowances make everything all right. We do not believe for one minute that this is so. We know that the new family allowances scheme which we did not oppose does help people in this situation. But those who receive the dependent children’s allowance have needs other than those experienced by the children of those persons on a regular wage who are not dependent on the Government for pensions and benefits. Therefore, we believe it is necessary, if this general indexation principle is a policy of the Government, that the Government index an allowance of this type which goes to the most disadvantaged members of the community.
A similar argument applies to the supplementary benefits which go to the poorest of the poor in our community. They go to those people on pensions and benefits who have very little more than that pension or benefit in their income. These people live in rented accommodation and are therefore at the bottom of the financial heap in this country. Included in this category are some 60 per cent of supporting mothers, some 44 per cent of invalid pensioners, some 29 per cent to 30 per cent of widowed pensioners and some 14 per cent of age pensioners. In a time of housing shortage and depression in the building industry with costs increasing for this group of people, many with children, I suggest that these people deserve support and deserve to be protected in the same way as the Government is attempting to protect other pensioners. We believe that it is time that this benefit was increased and that the only way to guarantee increases of this type by this Government is to put that requirement into the legislation, if that is the way that the Government wishes to do it.
The Government has decided also not to increase unemployment and sickness benefits for children under the age of 1 8 years. The argument of justification for this action that I have seen in another place and in public is that Labor did not increase these benefits in its last Budget. Therefore, apparently for ever and ever, these benefits are to stay the same. When Labor failed to increase these benefits last year, we gave our reasons, none the least of which was that we felt that the benefit last year was getting very close to the award wage at that level. There was concern. I believe in the principle that children under the age of 1 8 years should receive a lesser benefit. I do not believe, as one member of the Government from his statement in the other House apparently believes, that these children are the responsibility of their parents and should not receive any benefits at all. If benefits of this type are to be fully indexed, we see the only way of doing this with a conservative government in power is to write that requirement into the legislation because, on the basis of the past record of coalition governments in this country, there is no guarantee that these benefits will ever be increased again.
I believe that the failure to deal with this problem is another example of the Government’s hang-up with dole bludgers and dole cheats. The unemployment rate is now higher than it has been since the 1930s. That fact has been repeated ad nauseam in this place. The Budget papers contain misleading figures including estimates that next year the level of unemployment benefits will drop by $49m. At this time, unemployment and total unemployment benefits are much greater than they were last year and will obviously continue to rise. In the first 3 months of this financial year, the Government paid benefits to over 70 000 more people than the Labor Government paid in the first 3 months of last financial year. This is despite the fact that a concerted campaign has been conducted to reduce the number of people receiving unemployment benefits and to crack down on what the Government claims are masses of dole bludgers in the community. Despite this crackdown- even complained of the other day, I noticed, by members of the church- unemployment benefits are running at a much higher rate. The burden of unemployment is falling on the young. It shows no sign of decreasing. Even the decline revealed in the seasonally adjusted figures cannot hide the fact that school leavers will not be paid benefits for 2 months or 3 months over Christmas.
We must be sure that this potential mobile section of our community is not anchored to Australian homes by a continual neglect of the unemployment benefits paid to them. Recently we heard a Minister mouth pious words about dole bludgers and the work ethic and claim that the dole being paid is destroying the work ethic in this country. This low benefit apparently is bringing this country to its knees. It is about time that the Government forgot about its hang-up concerning dole bludgers, stopped stigmatising the unemployed, stopped abusing them and, as well as giving a reasonable benefit and maintaining that benefit, produced policies and work schemes to cut down on the problem itself.
The final paragraph of our amendment refers to the new income test- the change from an income and assets test to a pure income test. The Minister, in her second reading speech, quoted from the Henderson report in justification of the change. Professor Henderson’s view, which I share, is that the present means test is administratively difficult, is difficult for the community to understand and is unnecessarily tedious for those who administer the Act and for those who apply for benefits. We have, and we admit we have, administrative difficulties and anomalies in the present form of means test. Professor Henderson pointed out that in changing to a pure income test some method, either a capital gains tax or some assessment of the worth of capital gains, would have to be used to remove inequities from any new system of this type. It seems to us that the scope for lurks and perks in this area by people with large capital holdings who are able to transfer them to relatives and receive some support in return, is boundless. We do not think it is assisting the situation to allow this sort of thing to happen.
The Government, in another of its many clear promises, said it would not reduce the value of pensions received by present beneficiaries. Yet in introducing this new income test it has created great disturbance among one group of people in particular, that is, the people on superannuation. In an area such as this, which is generally considered fairly complicated by people, in an area which I would not have thought would have received much more publicity than any other, I have been surprised at the number of telegrams that I have received from people in this group. I know that others, too have received them. I have received not only letters from organisations- I have received plenty of those- and letters that were obviously inspired by organisations and written by organisations, which are the sort of letters that all of us receive on contentious issues, but also letters from people in odd places all over the country who have sat down, have done their sums and have found that they will be worse off.
– Could you give us an example?
-I will provide for Senator Baume the best examples that I can- the ones which were provided by the Parliamentary Library Legislative Research Service. If they are in the pile that I have with me I will give them to the honourable senator. If not, I will give them to him later. I do not think Senator Baume is denying this fact. I hope that he and I will not be affected, but many people are affected. It is surprising to these people, I believe, that the
Coalition, when previously in government, introduced the system of capitalisation of superannuation which gave this benefit to people who took out superannuation. I understand the system was introduced to encourage superannuation schemes, to encourage what the Government likes to call self help. It seems from the letters which these people have written that they have tended to look carefully at their future and have assisted themselves by taking out superannuation. This, I understood, was what the present Government’s policy was all about.
I think the main reason they are upset is that they fund without any warning, certainly in any previous Government announcements or policies, suddenly this new scheme which will cut their income is introduced. I know the Government has made provision for the freezing of pensions so that actual income at this moment will not suddenly drop on 25 November. That freezing will also apply to pensions, at least through May and November of next year and, in some cases, much more. Although it is hard to get exact figures from any government publication, it seems from the estimates of the Research Service of the Library that there may be anything from 24 000 to 30 000 of these people. Other estimates which I have seen indicate that there may be 40 000 to 50 000 of these people. These people are surprised and disturbed at this sudden reversal of the Government’s policy.
I believe it is important to explain to people what is going on. I believe it is important to give people some warning. I believe it is important that if we intend to reduce the disposable income of a sizable section of the community- a concerned section of the community- we should let them know what is going on and the reasons il is being done. Honourable senators opposite should not make statements that people really will not be affected and that no one will have a cut in his disposable income for the next couple of years because of the new scheme. It seems to us that this zeal for cuts in expenditure, this failure to show concern for people, was shown in previous legislation. It was shown in the 2 attempts to change the Medibank legislation. It was shown in the attempt to remove the funeral benefit for pensioners. It was shown in the Government’s action in wiping out the subsidised pharmaceutical benefits. It was also shown in the Government’s removal at very short notice of drugs from the pensioner pharmaceutical list. It was shown in the cuts in finance for aged persons accommodation. I believe that all those are examples of the double talk that has been indulged in, particularly by the Prime Minister who promised continuously that no one’s income would be cut, no one would be worse off by government changes, and that the changes would reform things, that the changes would bring the needy into the scheme and that the changes would be the result of planning. I find little example or evidence of cohesive planning. I find some reluctance to use the information already available, unless that information can be used in a gimmicky sort of way or unless that information can be used to cut expenditure of this Government, no matter who is affected.
The Opposition is disturbed at the penchant for setting up secret inquiries which look at aspects of health and welfare and which do not report to this Parliament. Decisions are made as a result of these inquiries. We do not get adequate explanations of these decisions, except that it is necessary to cut government expenditure. We do not believe this is the way to develop a rational and sensible system of social security. We do not see this as the way to improve the system which members on both sides know needs reforming, needs improving, needs rationalising. I think the Government should take note of the amendment. I think the Government should consider the views of those people in the community who are disturbed by the sorts of changes that have been going on not only in this kind of legislation but in the activities of the Department and the activities of the Commonwealth Employment Service as well as the attitude to people on unemployment benefits, particularly the people receiving the supporting mother’s benefit. The Opposition is also disturbed at the disregard of benefits such as the supplementary benefits and others which are of help to the poorer people in the community.
We support the increase in the handicapped children’s allowance. We have said this many times before, particularly in the Budget debate which is still going on in this place. Of course we support it. We introduced it. We do not think very much of statements that in the financial year 1974-75 the previous Government spent only $ 1.86m on this benefit and that in the financial year 1975-76 some $9m will be spent, without pointing out that the benefit was introduced half way through the financial year 1974-75. We think that sort of attention should have been paid to the other children’s allowances. We ask the Government to reconsider the course it seems to have set itself. We ask the Government to think of the future in terms of social justice, unhindered by preconceived conservative doctrine. 1 commend the amendment to the Senate.
-Is the amendment seconded?
– I second the amendment.
– The Senate is debating a group of Bills. They are the Social Services Amendment Bill (No. 3) 1976, the National Health Amendment Bill (No. 3) 1976, the Health Insurance Amendment Bill (No. 3) 1976, and the Repatriation Acts Amendment Bill (No. 2) 1976. All of them give effect to policies which give to people, which give increased benefits and which create a new and better system of welfare. I listened with interest to Senator Grimes, rather more than usually turgid address for some acknowledgement that the Bills were in fact Bills which conferred on people new benefits. It was 38 minutes from the time he began his speech, almost in his peroration, that he finally acknowledged that someone was going to benefit. To listen to the honourable senator speak one would have thought that these Bills removed or diminished in some way benefits which people had or entitlements which they possessed.
The amendment which has been moved is almost the ultimate in the kind of hypocrisy we have come to expect from the Australian Labor Party since it left government. I remind the honourable senator that he was a supporter of a government that remained in office for 3 years and had in its possession some of main welfare reports, but did nothing about them. The record is there. The present Government promised that it would implement these reports, and it is doing so. The total welfare payments this year will be 32 per cent higher than they were last year- an enormous increase that receives no acknowledgement from the members of the Labor Party, who mouth their dedication to welfare but who have no intention of acknowledging when any advances are made to this nation ‘s system.
This series of Bills gives to people in need. The Bills assist those who require help. They will be a real help to many Australians and they will ease the burden for many people in our community. I remind the Senate that they will provide a number of new social security programs giving effect to the Government’s desires to assist people to help themselves. Let us just put the record down. These Bills will increase the standard and married rates of pensions and benefits. Why was this not acknowledged by the spokesman for the Labor Party? The Bills will provide for the automatic adjustment of pensions twice yearly. They will allow for the introduction of a income test to replace the existing test on income and means. They will allow for an increase in the rate of the handicapped child’s allowance and they will benefit a large number of Australians who depend upon pensions and benefits. Many Australians will be grateful for what they provide.
The Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) in his policy speech promised that we would ‘preserve the real value of pensions’. This is what we are setting out to do. The Bills give effect to this promise. The total payment in benefits last year was $4, 148m, and this year we have provided $5,389m, an increase of $ 1,241m- and no word of acknowledgment and no indication that the Labor Party recognises the benefits that will flow to people, because the Labor Party does not wish to let the people of Australia know that there has been a real improvement and a real increase in benefits.
Let us look first at one of the really major elements of this legislation- the provision of automatic adjustments in the rate of pensions. It is worthwhile recalling the enthusiasm with which Senator Grimes addressed the Senate on 27 April and drew to its attention that he was upset about the Government’s failure to implement automatic adjustments. Let me point out that it is a very convenient fallacy to approach our Government in the first April of its term when it had been in office for 3 months and to try and castigate it for not having implemented its entire 3-year welfare program. In April Senator Grimes drew attention to the promises that were made by our spokesman when we were in opposition. I will quote some of what Senator Grimes said. He pointed out that in November 1975 Mr Chipp was caretaker Minister for Social Security. Senator Grimes would know that in fact Mr Chipp was Minister for Social Security in the caretaker Government, but that might be a small subtlety. He pointed out what Mr Chipp said at that time. He said that it was quoted in many newspapers. He quoted from Mr Chipp ‘s Press statement as follows:
Pensioners would get automatic twice-yearly increases in line with the cost of living rises.
Pensions would be out of the hands of politicians and no longer would be a political football.
They would be automatic. Legislation will not even have to come to Parliament.
Senator Grimes quoted a number of other statements which had been made by LiberalNational Country Party Ministers and spokesmen. He attempted to show that the Government had been recreant because last April the mechanisms for automatic adjustment had not come before the Parliament. For example, he said:
I think we may well ask: Where is the promised legislation? I do not think it is any wonder that pensioners and their representatives are annoyed and disillusioned.
The fact of the matter is that the legislation is here now at the first opportune time we have had to introduce it since we took government. We have wasted no time. We are intent upon redeeming our pledges. This is one of the first we intend to redeem. It is our duty to carry out what we promised, to make the adjustment twice yearly and to make it automatic. We have done this within the first year of the Fraser Ministry. I suggest to those who would wish to criticise us that they should recognise the kind of time scale in which we will operate. We have a 3-year mandate, and Mr Fraser and his Cabinet will introduce the reforms which have been promised at a rate at which they can.
– We had a 3-year mandate too until you got rid of us by underhand means.
– It makes a pretty good contrast with what the Labor Party, of which Senator McLaren is such a glorious example, failed to do during its term of office. We will keep our promises. I remind the Senate of the policy speech in which we said that we would ‘ensure basic level of income security for all through a cash benefits system operated by the Federal Government covering income benefits and emergency cash grants’ and that we would adjust automatically pensions and benefits half yearly in line with changes in the CPI’. That is what we are doing. Of course, one can ask: How long was the Labor Government in office? How many opportunities did it have to examine the desirability of introducing this kind of reform? How many Bills did it bring in to make adjustments of pensions automatic? The answer is obvious; it did not even think of these things, because it does not think of very much at all. It is our job to introduce these measures. I would have expected that, in terms of common justice, we would hear the Labor Party express delight in welcoming this very major improvement for pensioners in Australia, this very major initiative which will mean that pension increases will occur automatically twice each year in line with rises in the consumer price index.
We are also determined in these Bills to move towards a more equitable and simpler form of means test. For some time we have been concerned that the means test as it existed has not operated with complete equity. We have been concerned that there are people in Australia who are in real, demonstrable need and who are unable to get access to the income security system.
That was highlighted by the Henderson commission of inquiry in its report on rural poverty. I notice that many of my colleagues from the National Country Party are in the chamber. That report of the Henderson commission showed that many primary producers who were in real and undoubted need were unable to take advantage of the social service system because they held large but not income producing assets and were excluded from any forms of benefits or pensions. It is entirely in keeping with what the Henderson commission of inquiry recommended that we should move to make accessible to those people some relief when it is needed. It is not as though we did not indicate that this was going to happen; of course we indicated that it would. It was part of our policy, in the same way as was our promise to make automatic within 6 months increases in the pension.
I return briefly to the subject of automatic increases in pension. I point out that we will do something that the Labor Party failed to do. During its term in office there was no regularity in pension increases. The rises occurred after 9¥i months the first time, 6 months the second time, 4 months the third time, 8y4 months the fourth time, a little more than 6 months the fifth time, and so on. We will now make such increases regularly and automatically. Two of the Bills we are discussing introduce minor amendments which are necessary. It we go on to examine the concept of an income test, I would like to say that we are going to build into the system more equity and more rationality. I was quite shocked to hear Senator Grimes concentrating his remarks only on what he saw as negative aspects, making no attempt at all to indicate that he understood the extra equity that will flow to a large number of people. Honourable senators will know that Professor Henderson, in his first report which became available during the term of office of the Labor Government, during the term of office of the socialist government which supposedly was working for the benefit of ordinary men, drew attention to the inadequacies, shortcomings and failings of the means test as it existed. He described the existing means test in these terms: a treatment of assets which is a relic of far less generous days . . .
He made recommendations which led us inevitably to the conclusion that the system needed to be altered. I believe that it is fair to say that the Bills we have before us now which contain these very major adjustments are the most significant social welfare measures, in the sense of the processes to be followed, since the tapered means test was introduced seven or eight years ago. We are building for the nation a new, more rational and more effective system. I would have thought that this measure would have been welcomed across the country. The Minister has promised that no pensioner will receive less than he could have expected when the increases are introduced in November; no one will lose when the increased rates come in on 25 November this year.
These Bills provide part of a new system of social welfare. I cannot help observing that what we propose does not quite fit in with Senator Grimes’ description of us as a conservative government which is intent on denting or blunting welfare. This year we have introduced family allowances, which the Labor Party was reluctant enough to acknowledge. We have introduced personal income tax indexation. We recently introduced a Bill to amend the Handicapped Persons Assistance Act. We introduced a new program of welfare housing for aged persons. These are major expenditure items, all directed towards those who need and use welfare.
During its term of office the Labor Party had the opportunity to make pension increases automatic, but it did not make that move. It does the Labor Party no good now to oppose our moves in that direction. We have considered the move. We have now proceeded to implement it. I would have expected the Labor Party to acknowledge this move. The amendment moved on behalf of the Labor Party in this area is blatant hypocrisy. The Labor Party did not move to implement Professor Henderson’s recommendations, even though it had his report for a considerable period of time.
– What did we do about supporting mothers and other anomalies?
- Senator Mulvihill may care to remember that we have moved to implement some of the Henderson recommendations which the Labor Government had but which it ignored and sat on. This supposedly conservative government in its first year has carried out more radical innovation in the field of welfare than the Labor Government could manage in its entire 3 years in office. The full implications of the family allowance scheme, the income test and the automatic adjustment of pensions will make a major difference. Those innovations have come from a government which is incorrectly labelled by those who not only could not carry out those actions but also frankly do not understand what it is all about even now. We understood the need for family support. We have implemented measures to meet that need; we can do it. The Labor Party showed no understanding of the need to replace the old means test. In spite of all its talk it is not terribly sympathetic towards those who lack an income but who have assets. We do have that appreciation. We understand what Professor Henderson was getting at. We understand the import of his report on rural poverty. The implementation of this income test is one step towards gaining for many Australians benefits to which they are entitled and to which previously they had no access.
If we compare Australia today with Australia as it was one year ago, we find that pensions are higher than they have ever been, and they are higher because of the initiatives of the Fraser Government. We find that the election promises to make pension rises automatic have come to pass and will soon be a reality. For the first time the income test will replace the means test. I can only conclude with what we have always known to be true, namely, that from the days of Alfred Deakin to the time of the introduction of family allowances, it has always been the Liberal Party which has introduced the major initiatives, that most major welfare benefits in this country have come from our side of politics and will continue to do so. The Liberal philosophy means better welfare; it means better results; it means better protection for the people of Australia. These Bills, which I heartily endorse, are merely part of the framework of effective welfare which we are providing for all Australians.
– I rise to support the amendment moved by my colleague, Senator Grimes. I wish that Senator Baume had spent more time telling us what the radical innovations were, and more time in spelling out the measures that the Government he supports is going to take, than in talking about what the Labor Party did or did not do. It demonstrates a lack of conviction on his part that the only thing he could find to talk about was what happened in the last 3 years rather than telling us what is going to happen in the next 3 years. Obviously there is a gap in his argument, as we all know. I wish that he would go out and tell the pensioners of Australia how much better off they are going to be under this Government’s legislation because they, like us, seem to have failed to take the point that this Government is going to do so much for them in a radical way to improve their real standard of living. After all, they should know where their best interests lie, I would think.
This Government really stands condemned because of the same old hypocritical approach to the whole question of social security. In the bad old days when the Parties opposite were in office they used to give the pensioners 2 bob and a kiss the day the Budget was being brought down. They have not changed very much. They are now piously handing the pensioners an increase on the basis of the consumer price index but what Government supporters fail to point out is that the Government delays giving that increase for 5 months. It does not give the pensioners the increase immediately. It waits 5 months, and in the meantime people have to pay the increased prices out of the old pension rate. So rather than preserving the real value of the pension which is the claim of Government supporters, what they have very effectively done is to cut the real value of the pension because they cannot have it both ways. They cannot, on the one hand, let prices rise and leave people with a certain amount of money to pay for the goods and services they need, and then 5 months later when prices have risen even more recompense the people for the price rises which occurred 5 months earlier. So if Government supporters were honest they would admit that in actual fact they have decreased the real value of the pension rather than increased it.
There is no way pensioners can ever catch up. Once you are behind, you are behind. You cannot give a person an increase in 5 months time and say: ‘That is to compensate you for the earlier increase’. The prices have gone up; the money has been spent and these people do not ever catch up again. These people have to eat. They have to keep warm. They have to be clothed. They cannot do any of those things when they are on less money than the rest of the community receives. If they try to do it on less money than the rest of the community receives, they become ill. In the field of pensions this Government has not done a great deal to help these people. Honourable senators opposite will recall that the number of items on the pharmaceutical benefits list has been slashed. If they talk to groups of old age pensioners about that they will find the pensioners are in disarray about it, because the pharmaceutical products which they were taught to rely on by the medical profession of this country are suddenly denied to them and they cannot adjust to whatever products are put in their place. So they try to buy the things they were used to out of the reduced pension on which they now exist and they are even further down the drain. If they do continue to rely on the items that are still on the list, they have to pay the increased cost for those items. I remind the Senate the prescription fee for pharmaceutical benefit items has been increased to $2, so again these people are behind the 8-ball. With a reduced pension they have to pay more.
Rents are rising for pensioners as are other costs. The supplementary benefit that was brought in was designed to bridge the gap for people who had no other income but the pension has not been increased. This is a benefit to help the aged, the invalid, the widows, the supporting mothers, all the vulnerable people in the community, all the people who have no other resources and who have only themselves to rely on, but it has not been increased. So again these people are further behind- the gap becomes wider. There has been no increase in the supplementary benefit or in the dependants allowances. The people who need those benefits are the people who have not got other resources, but prices go up for them just the same. Their kids have to eat. Their kids have to be clothed. Their kids have to have shoes. The fares to school are no cheaper for their kids. Unless they crawl and take some sort of side benefit, their children have to pay the same price for a school uniform and for school books. So again the vulnerable people in the community suffer.
These are the groups of people who are more likely to suffer because when their children leave school this year the children will not be entitled to receive the unemployment benefit for 3 months. These are the people whose children are most likely to be in that group, having to leave school in December this year, having to find a job and finding it very difficult because, as we know and as the people in Australia are becoming more aware, there are going to be more and more children unable to find jobs when they leave school. Parents will have to keep their children for that 3 months until the children can go on to the unemployment benefit, and bear in mind there is no increase in the unemployment benefit for children under 18 years of age. The people in this situation who need social security assistance from the Government are the children who are most likely to be leaving school at the earliest opportunity and be looking for a job, but for those under 1 8 years of age there is to be no increase in the benefit.
In November 1975 of the 279 000 unemployed 67 000 were aged between 15 years and 19 years. In December this year that number is likely to increase. Yet those children will not get an increase in the benefit. It is easy for honourable senators on the Government side to say that parents have a duty to support their children, but duty does not pay the bills. Duty does not help a parent feed a 1 7-year-old boy. It does not help to buy shoes for the boy’s feet that keep growing at an extraordinary rate, or a coat to cover the arms that keep shooting out of the sleeves. How can he get a job if he has not got clothes that look decent? If I recall correctly this whole horrible dole bludger unemployment argument that went on, we were told that some youngsters who turned up looking for a job were not dressed as though they really wanted to get a job. All I can say is that I think there are going to be a few more turning up looking as though they do not want to get a job because if as honourable senators opposite say that to get a job they have to have decent shoes, decent clothes and clothes that fit, the parents of these children are not going to be able to afford those things. As I have said, there is to be no rise in the unemployment benefit or sickness benefit for people under 1 8 years. I am one of those who believe there should be a rise. I did not agree when the Government I supported brought it in and I did not agree when this Government brought it in.
I believe that children who leave school to go into the work force are human beings and they should be treated in the same way as other people are treated. After all, at 18 years of age they can vote. At 18 years of age we can send them away to war, but 6 months earlier we presume they do not eat as much, they pay less fares, they do not need clothes- in other words, they are second class citizens. The duty of parents to their children is one thing, but as I have said, duty does not pay the bills. We should know how much it costs to keep children. There are people who cannot carry that burden. If honourable senators opposite think those people should be assisted in some way to keep up with the rest of the community they should take that feeling through and look after the children under 18 years of age whether they are at school or not.
We told the children who will go out to find jobs in December this year that if they were good, if they stayed at school and if they worked hard the world was their oyster. It is very hard to face a girl who finishes up in your office after she has been to 49 different establishments looking for a job and still has not got one and who by that time is starting to believe there must be something wrong with her. She cannot get a job in this world which said to her: ‘You be good; you go to school; you do your work and out you go’. Nobody wants her. She is told by the Government that she is a dole bludger. We are told that these sorts of people must be given an incentive to work. Some of the people who say those things ought to sit in the employment offices in country towns and look into the eyes of the kids sitting there who believe there is not any place for them any more. We cannot really blame them for going out and throwing a brick through a window somewhere, because the world has nothing to offer them. Now we are telling them that, apart from their being dole bludgers, incompetent and not trained properly- none of which is their fault- some of them will never work and will get less dole money because they are not equal to other workers who are unemployed, let alone being equal to workers who can find jobs. Their only crime is that they are young. It appears that the old men in this Government have forgotten what it was like to be young and have forgotten how one can be hurt by these things. I suggest that honourable senators opposite go out and sit in some of these employment offices- country or town offices- and look at the kids who sit there day after day. I suggest they watch the light die in the eyes of these kids as the world closes up on them. For that, they are being told that they are second class citizens.
Another group in the community does not come within the ambit of these Bills. I am referring, of course, to unemployed women in the community. The Institute of Public Affairs review came out with an interesting article, with which I am sure all the Government senators would agree, which pointed out that of the 279 000 unemployed in November, 130 000 were females. It went on to say that of that 130 000, 52 000-40 per cent-of those were married and, therefore, mostly second income earners and it was likely that relatively few of the recorded unemployed would be in serious economic straits due to loss of job opportunity, which shows how much the old men in the Institute of Public Affairs know about people.
There are women in Melbourne who will never have families because they cannot afford to stop working. They are paying between $90 and $150 a week off the mortgages on their houses. They are not going to work to provide the wall-to-wall carpets, the second car or the second refrigerator- I am not saying that those things are not needed- and they are not going to work to provide for their children’s education because, as I say, most of them will never have children. They are going to work to buy their house. They are paying an incredible amount of money for a house on a 50 feet by 120 feet block of land. This acquisitive society has sold them on the idea that they must have the house and they must have the goods in it. For the Government to say that for them to lose their job will not create a serious economic problem for them shows that the Government has no idea of how real people live. Those women are not paid unemployment benefits. They are rarely counted in unemployment figures because some of them truly believe that they are not workers. They have a husband who goes to work and if he loses his job he is the person who should go on the unemployment statistics, but they, as women, just go out to work to provide this extra money and are not to be counted. I query the unemployment figures because I truly believe that many women in the community are really unemployed but are not registered and, therefore, are not counted. It is all very well to say that they have one income in the family. What will happen to the lives and to the economic fabric of this community if those women lose their jobs and there is no unemployment benefit for them is something that I think the Government has a duty to look at. I think the Government should examine this question soon. As it is, those women tend to turn up on the doorsteps of local doctors asking for drugs such as valium so that they can stop thinking about the terrible situation in which they find themselves. Real concern should be shown for these women.
By the same token, real concern should be shown by this Government for women who need rape crisis centres, women’s refuges and women’s health centres. Unfortunately, I know it is still likely that when one talks about rape crisis centres there is likely to be amusement. I think the amusement or the sly grins of people come from the fact that so many men these days are starting to think that perhaps it is an urgent situation but they are too embarassed to talk about it. If one examines the statistics and realises that, of all violent crimes, rape is the crime that is increasing at the greatest rate, one has to acknowledge that the community at large and governments in particular have to do something about it. It is not, I believe, a failure on the part of the Government to understand what the situation is but rather a cynical rejection of the need for refuges and centres of this kind.
I believe that the Government knows quite well that women need to have rape crisis centres and that the situation as regards women, the law and rape in our community is serious. I believe the Government knows that women for all sorts of reasons find they have to leave home in the middle of the night, with or without their children, with or without their goods, and have to find somewhere to go, someone to talk to and some time to assess the situation. I believe that members of the Government know that women have to do that. I believe they know that in many ways the medical profession in Australia has failed women and that the women’s health centres are trying to grow up as a result of that failure. The Government rejects this need, and I should like to know on what basis it rejects the need.
– Did the Labor Government do anything when in office?
– It is not a matter of whether we did anything when in government. If a need exists, the present Government should do something about it. Honourable senators opposite should not live in the past; they should live in the future. How many votes can be gained from around women’s centres, women’s refuges or rape crisis centres? We did not even hear of those centres when this Government was in office for 23 years. The Labor Government was in government for 3 years but now the rape crisis centres are turning into pumpkins and the present Government believes that if it shuts its eyes they will all vanish and the problem might no longer exist. But the problem does exist and the Government has to face up to it. Little research is being done into women’s troubles, into the effects of the pill, into illnesses that are peculiar to women, and little research has been done into the fact that births are now taking place in office hours. Nobody knows what the result of that will be. If the Government acknowledges that those problems exist but claims that we did nothing about it, I say in return that the Government should do something about these problems. The problems exist, honourable senators opposite are members of the Government and governments are supposed to be responsible.
The Government’s excuse at the moment for not doing anything from a Federal point of view about rape crisis centres, women’s refuges and women’s health centres is that these matters have been handed over to the States. Let us look at what happened in the States when the responsibility was handed over to them. While we were in government we certainly made money available- for instance, to Victoria for a Women Against Rape centre and for a Women’s Health Collective. The Women Against Rape Centre had money made available to it in June 1974, but not one penny of that money has been seen yet because the Victorian Government stands between that money and the people who need it. The Women’s Health Collective in Victoria was advised in May 1975 that money had been made available to it, but not one penny of that money has reached the Women’s Health Collective to this date. All sorts of reasons have been dreamed up about why the money has not been made available- for instance, the Department had to have a floor plan and the Department had to have details about the rent that was to be paid. All this information was available, but every time this material was handed over a new excuse was found. In fact, the Women’s Health Collective does not have any money and the last request it received from the Department was that it should inform the Department on what it would spend its money in 1975-76, yet it has not received one penny of the money that was made available for 1974-75.
It is pure humbug for the Federal Government on that basis to say that it is handing bulk grants and responsibility to the Victorian Government when it is patently obvious that the Victorian Government is not going to take one step to do anything about this problem. The Victorian Government is on record as having appointed a women.’s adviser because it was not going to be left out of fashionable appointments. So, it appointed a women’s adviser and then took every step to tie her hands, to ignore her and to show that the appointment was really window dressing. The Victorian Government in fact pointed out to the more conservative groups of women in Victoria that in fact the women’s adviser had no power. As I say, she was window dressing. No substantial change has occurred in the Victorian Government’s feelings towards women or to what should be done ibr women. Victorian Government supporters have accepted without a murmur cuts in welfare housing that effect all those groups of women who are vulnerable and cannot assist themselves. They have accepted without a murmur cuts in child care. This shows that they do not give a damn about women who hold positions and need care for their children. They have accepted cuts in expenditure on family planning. They had done very little about family planning before and are not, under the influence of groups such as the Womens Action Alliance, likely to do anything about family planning in the future. They have accepted cuts in migrant and Aboriginal welfare and have not put up one murmur about the cuts.
Their record shows that they will not do anything about the sorts of things that are vital to people who are in a most vulnerable position. The Federal Government is irresponsible when it acknowledges that certain steps and centres are needed and that people who cannot help themselves must be assisted but does nothing. Senator Baume who preceded me talked about preserving the real value of pensions and about assisting with radical innovations. As I say, Government supporters know that they are responsible. They know need exists but with great cynicism they have side-stepped their responsibility and have shown hypocrisy by taking advantage of people who cannot help themselves. I call upon them, if they believe the need is there, to do something positive about the people who cannot help themselves.
-In supporting the Social Services Amendment Bill (No. 3) 1976 I point out that the Department of Social Security was originally designed to protect people against insecurity and economic hardship and for those in greatest need. This Government believes that benefits should be provided to overcome this insecurity but in such a way that while a person’s independence is retained incentives for self-help should be maintained to the full. There are several amendments in this Bill aimed to accomplish just this. As Senator Baume has said, it is appropriate that the party which first introduced child endowment to the Commonwealth constitutes the government that introduces major increases and alterations to that benefit.
Senator Grimes said earlier today that the Government showed little concern for the people in need. All I can say to that is that the proof of the pudding is in the eating. Let us have a look at our record. As I have said, we were the first government to introduce child endowment and to help the poor families with children and again we are the first government to introduce major reforms aimed primarily to benefit the lower income families. However, 1 will say more about that later.
– Labor governments did that.
-Sir Robert Menzies introduced the reform in the Commonwealth, Senator.
– Jack Lang introduced it in New South Wales.
-That is right; Jack Lang introduced it in New South Wales. But Sir Robert Menzies introduced it to the Commonwealth of Australia- certainly not a Labor government. Not only were we the first government to introduce that benefit but also under the Deakin coalition Government in 1909 and earlier in New South Wales and Victoria- at the time they were non-Labor States- the age pension was introduced to this country.
– Again after Jack Lang.
-No, definitely not. The age pension was not introduced by any Labor government in any State whatsoever. It was introduced by a non-Labor coalition government. At the time we were the third country in the world to introduce an entirely governmentsubsidised age pension.
– It was not very much.
– It may not have been very much but it was the beginning. It certainly was not a Labor Party that introduced it in any State or the Commonwealth of this country. Again we are the first government to introduce major changes and major improvements by tying pensions to the consumer price index to keep pensions in line with inflation. As I have said, it is the first time in Australia’s history that pensions will be tied to the consumer price index. Each 6 months we will see rises automatically in line with the cost of living, thus stopping once and for all pensions falling behind through inflation and protecting people against economichardship. We will have done with the political wrangles that usually accompany these increases.
The new pension increases have not been actually stated, so I will state a few. They will be paid from 1 1 November. The standard rate pension for aged persons, invalids, widows and supporting mothers will rise to $43.50 a week and the married rate will rise to $72.50. Should the consumer price index fall, pensions will remain stationary until there is a further rise in the index. These pensioners will not be disadvantaged in any way. Along with these increases there have been increases in unemployment and sickness benefits. The single rate has been increased by $2.25 a week to $43.50. The married rate, with a dependent spouse, will be increased by $4 a week to $72.50 a week. These increases will come into effect on 1 November. Of course increases will also be made in the handicapped children’s allowance which Senator Grimes grudgingly agrees is rather a good part of the legislation.
As Senator Baume has said, an equally important amendment to the Act provides that the existing means test based on both assets and income will now be abolished and the sole method of testing for pensions from November will be the person’s income. This is a long overdue benefit that will be greatly appreciated despite Senator Grimes’ criticism. The Labor Party has never agreed with incentives; it does not believe that people should be encouraged to help themselves. This amendment will act as an incentive, as I have said, for people to save for added comforts in their old age. Those people will not be penalised by having assets as they have been in the past when just having assets alone sometimes debarred people from any assistance by way of pension.
Another amendment in this Bill relates to family allowances. I have spoken on this matter before in the chamber. I think this changed allowance is rather wonderful for the Australian woman. It is the first step in government recognition of the part that the mother plays in the home. While the payment also goes to the working mother, at least it is a recognition that the mother needs some money of her own to spend on the priorities as she sees them and not only as the husband dictates as has often happened in many families in the past. The new system virtually transfers money from rebates to the husband to the mother’s pocket. This will be of greatest benefit to low income earners who have never paid enough tax to be able to take full advantage of all the child rebates. Now the mother in that family gets the full advantage. Even though this new system has been functioning for only a few months the mothers and social welfare workers I have spoken to believe that this is the biggest improvement in the social welfare system that Australia has seen.
– If the honourable senator does not believe this she cannot have spoken to any of the s< cial welfare workers.
– I have spoken to many.
– I bet you have not. Social welfare workers believe that this is the best thing that has ever happened to the Australian community. This replacement of the tax allowance for children with increases in child endowment was a high priority suggested by Professor Henderson in his report following the inquiry into poverty. In the past no endowment was paid once a student reached 2 1 years. The limit has now been increased to 25 yearsanother improvement for parents of full-time students.
– No wage earners can keep children at school until they are 25 years old and you know it. They cannot afford it.
-And nobody does. I sincerely hope that there are a lot of wage earners and very poor students from very poor families who get the living allowance because if they are earning less than $1,600 a year they are entitled to the allowance. Another amendment to the Social Services Act concerns that part of the Act which in the past has excluded certain children with their alien fathers from eligibility for this child endowment. This provision will be repealed. The people who will benefit most from this system are the single parents, those sole parent families- widows and supporting mothers- many of whom have not been able to take advantage of the tax rebates. They will benefit greatly from the family allowances. The Government’s decision to increase the sole parent rebate from $200 to $350 per annum will also benefit single parents with high incomes.
Nevertheless the Opposition does not believe that this is a good Bill, although it will benefit those sole parent families, and that is something I find very hard to understand. In the last 5 years there have been large increases in assistance to poor people who were eligible for benefits and pensions but the allowances for the children belonging to those people have been increased by only half as much. These people have been greatly disadvantaged. As Senator Melzer said, these people still have to buy shoes, clothe, feed and shelter their children, and I agree with her, but her government increased this allowance by only half the amount by which it increased other pensions. Why did not the Labor Government do something about that? The Opposition seems to be in favour of only the handicapped children’s allowance increase. It is something which I find very hard to understand. I hope Senator McLaren will be able to make a little clearer why that is the only provision which the Opposition supports because Senator Grimes and Senator Melzer certainly have not done so. Senator Grimes could not quite explain it and Senator Melzer did not even mention it. She skirted around that one very successfully.
– It is a mixture of hypocrisy and ignorance.
-That is quite right, Senator Baume. Senator Melzer stuck mainly to unemployment, women’s shelters and women’s groups.
– Do you not think unemployment is important?
Senators WALTERS- I was just about to explain, if Senator McLaren will give me a chance. Senator Melzer concentrated on unemployment as though this Government had no concern for the unemployed. It was not our Government which brought unemployment to this country, it was the Labor Government, and we have said that it will take 3 years at least to restore full employment and to reduce inflation. That is how long it will take to get this country out of the mess the Labor Government got it into. At this stage we are working on the long term and every other country and everybody, except the Labor Opposition, admits that if we bring inflation down first we will restore employment. We could give the band-aid treatment as the Labor Government did and hand over money flat out, employ people and have inflation going on but there would be no long term profit in it. So we are looking to the long term good of the country.
Senator Melzer also referred to women’s shelters in the various States being left alone by our Government. She knows very well that there have been large grants to the States. I do not know whether Senator Melzer has asked the organisers of the shelters in her State. I certainly have in mine and the organisers of the shelters in Hobart and Launceston are very happy with the way things have worked out. The money that we have given our State Labor Government has been handed over to the shelters, except to the women’s centre in Hobart. That is the sort of thing Senator Melzer is talking about. However, I am afraid that I am in full agreement with the Labor Government for not handing over to that body any of the grant. It is the sort of organisation which has written on its walls, ‘Lesbianism is beautiful’, and ‘The family is woman’s bondage’. We do not agree with grants being given to this type of organisation and I applaud very much our Labor Government for not handing over any of the grant. No doubt some of the organisations in Victoria also have not been handed any of the grant for that reason and I agree with the Premier of Victoria that they are not the sorts of organisations that we should be supporting. I support the Bill and give the Government my full support.
– I support the amendment moved by Senator Grimes, our shadow Minister for Social Security, and have some comments to make on the Bill itself. For the information of honourable senators I ought to repeat the words of the amendment because I am sure that Senator Walters did not give them much attention and Senator Baume perhaps gave them even less. The amendment reads: that the Senate deplores the inequities which arise from-
Before I get on to the crux of the Bill I would like to reply briefly to some of the statements made by Senator Walters. Like many other Government senators and members, in the Senate, in the other place and on the public hustings, Senator Walters repeatedly makes statements to excuse the fact that the Government has not been able to restore full employment or to bring down inflation. They claim that they need 3 years to do it and that that was the promise they made. I remember a Press conference given by the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser), whilst he was Leader of the Opposition, and his colleague the then shadow Treasurer, in which they said that they could do it immediately if they were given the reins of government. Hansard shows that honourable senators opposite were repeatedly saying: ‘Give us the opportunity and we will put Australia back on the economic road immediately we get into government’. Now they cannot do it and some of the figures I have will show that the situation is getting worse. They need this excuse to fool some people into believing that they need 3 years.
Did they give the Whitlam Labor Government 3 years? We were not in government for even 1 8 months when we had to face an election again. Senator Walters’ leader is on record as saying as early as 1973, and Senator Walters was not here then, not 6 months after we had been elected, that things had been put in train to wreck the Labor Government. We had not had a chance to govern the country. The then Opposition was not trying to get rid of us because ours was a bad government. It was trying to get rid of us because ours was a government which was opposed to the conservative philosophy. Senator Withers is on record as having said that. We had to face the people at an election in May. What chance then did we have of putting our policies into operation? And when we were re-elected what happened? Through the most undemocratic chain of events in the history of this country, following the death of our colleague Senator Milliner, a replacement from Queensland was appointed in order to wreck the Labor Government.
I hate to admit it but that move turned out to be successful and we were turned out of office. We were never given 3 years and now honourable senators opposite are claiming that they need 3 years to get the country back on the road. If what is happening now is any criterion, and I have figures with me, in the next 2 years- the government has had nearly a year in office nowthere will have to be a dramatic turnabout if it is to achieve in 3 years what it said it would achieve; and if it does not achieve it in the next 2 years we will be sitting on that side of the chamber after the next election and Government senators will be back over here. The people will not be fooled again.
Great play was made in the second reading speech of the Minister for Social Security (Senator Guilfoyle) of the Government’s commitment to protect social security pensions from erosion by inflation through automatic adjusting of pension levels each 6 months according to the movements in the consumer price index. Those who listened to or who read the speech by Senator Baume would be forgiven for believing that this was an innovation introduced by the Liberal Party. Of course, it was not. I turn to the policy speech of the Australian Labor Party as delivered in 1972 by the then Leader of the Opposition, Mr Whitlam. At page 6 of that document we read:
We intend to raise the basic pension rate to 25 per cent of average weekly earnings.
Despite all the frustrations that Labor suffered in the 3 years it was in Government, we had just about achieved that level when we were unceremoniously sacked. In the same policy speech, on page 17, under the heading ‘Pension Rate’, Mr Whitlam said:
The basic pension rate will no longer be tied to the financial and political consideration of Annual Budgets. All pensions will be immediately raised by $1.50 and thereafter, every Spring and every Autumn, the basic pension rate will be raised by $1.50 until it reaches 25 per cent of average weekly male earnings.
We very nearly achieved that objective. We were a small percentage below that level.
I turn next to the document entitled The First Twelve Months put out by the Labor Government. Under the heading ‘Increases in pensions and benefits’, reporting on our good record, Mr Whitlam had this to say:
On the second day of the first session of Parliament a Bill was introduced providing for increases in all pensions and unemployment and sickness benefits ranging from $1.50 to $14 a week. Payment of pension increases was made retrospectively from the first pay day after the election. The Budget provided for a further increase of $ 1 . 50 a week in all pensions and unemployment, sickness and special benefits.
I turn next to the report presented in 1 974. It will be most interesting to look at the report for 1976 if one is put out by this Government to see what it claims it has achieved and to compare that with some of the promises that it made. I turn to page 8 of this report where, under the heading Record pension increases’ we read:
Pensioners in July received their biggest increase on record- an extra $5 a week. It was the second increase in 1974. Substantial increases have also been made in repatriation and service benefits. New benefits, including free medical care for ex-POWs, have been introduced. Pensions now represent about 24 per cent of average weekly earnings.
I come to the last report on the activities of the Labor Government. This was made in the Parliament. I quote an extract from the speech made on 5 June 1975 by the then Prime Minister. In a ministerial statement he said:
Pensioners are now better off than they have ever been. On 11 March the Government announced a further increase of $5 a week in the rate of pensions and benefits.
Senator Walters should bear that in mind. I will refer to this aspect in the Minister’s speech. On two occasions, the Labor Government gave immediate increases of $5 a week to pensioners. Mr Whitlam continued:
The married rate is up by $8.50 a week for a couple. For the21/2 years Labor has been in office, the standard rate of pension has increased by 80 per cent- more than twice the increase in prices.
That is our record.
Let us look at what the Minister for Social Security said in her second reading speech on this aspect. She made good play of what her Government had done. Of course, that is good politics. She spoke about the pension rate increases which will be payable from 1 1 November. That is a day which will be remembered not only by pensioners. I would say that most Australian electors will recall on November 1 1 this year what occurred in this nation on that dark, dark day- 1 1 November 1975. In her second reading speech, this is what the Minister said:
This will mean that the 2 pension increases announced for 1976 by the Government total $4.75 per week for the single rate and $8 per week for the combined married rate.
Let us look at what the Whitlam Labor Government did. In respect of pension increases in the last 2 years granted by that Government, of which I was so proud to be a member, the standard rate for the average invalid pension in 1 974 was increased twice- by $3 a week on 4 April and by $5 a week on 8 August. Yet the Minister would have people believe that her increase of $4.75 a week represents something magnificent for pensioners. In actual fact what is it? It is $3.25 a week less than what the Labor Government was able to give to pensioners. If we look at the figures for 1975, we find that there was an increase of $5 a week on 1 May 1975 and an increase of $2.75 a week on 13 November 1975, giving an overall increase for that year of $7.75 a week. Who will quibble at those increases and say that the Labor Government neglected the needy people of this country.
Let me go back a little further in time. Senator Walters was most vocal in criticising the statement by Senator Grimes that the Fraser Government had no sympathy for the under-privileged sections of our community. Not only has the Fraser Government no sympathy for pensioners; this was also the case with previous conservative governments. I go back to the first days of the Menzies’ Government to demonstrate how much sympathy conservative governments have had for pensioners and the under-privileged people. In 1950, the first year of the Menzies Government, we find that on 2 November that Government granted an increase of 75c a week to pensioners. That was the increase for the whole year. Twelve months later, the pension was increased to $6 a week. That was an increase of $ 1 a week. On 2 October 1952 the pension was increased by a magnificent 75c a week.
I invite honourable senators to mark what happened in the following year. After that magnificent increase of 75c a week in 1952, we find a magnificent increase of 25c a week on 29 October 1953. In 1954-55, pensioners must have been on clover as there was no increase at all granted to them In 1955-56, the Menzies Government gave an increase of $1 a week from 27 October 1955 bringing the pension to $8 a week. Again in 1956-57 pensioners must have been doing very well, living in great luxury, as they received no increase. They did not need any help from that magnificent government of the same political colour as this Government which, Senator Walters has said, always looks after the under-privileged.
In 1957-58 another magnificent increase of 75c a week was granted from 24 October 1957. In 1958-59, no increase was given. A big increase occurred in 1959-60. On 8 October 1959 the pension rose from $8.75 a week to $9.50 a week, another 75c a week. In 1960-61, another magnificent increase of 50c was granted on 6 October 1960. In 1961-62, another big increase of 50c a week was given on 5 October 1 96 1 . In the following year, pensioners must have been doing very well as again no increase was granted; they did not need any extra pension payment in 1 962-63.
In 1963-64 an increase of $1 a week was granted from 14 November 1963. An increase of 50c was granted in 1964-65, to apply from 1 October 1 964. In 1 965-66 again no increase was granted in pension rates. This is the record of conservative governments whose supporters have the hide to stand in this place today and criticise Senator Grimes for saying that such governments have no sympathy for the underprivileged. These facts and figures prove thai what Senator Grimes said was completely right and that what Senator Walters said was completely wrong.
I move now to the figures for 1966-67 wherein we find that the pension was increased by $ 1 per week on 13 October 1966. In 1967-68 no increase was granted, while an increase of $ I a week occurred from 10 October 1968 in the financial year 1968-69. In 1969-70, the pension was increased by $1 on 9 October 1969. In 1970-71 another magnificent increase of 50c a week was granted on 8 October 1970. In 1971-72 an increase of $1.25 a week was given on 7 October 1971 to be followed up by an increase of $ I a week on 4 May 1 972. What we must bear in mind is that in 1972 the McMahon Government was starting to look very shaky. It had to appeal to the pensioners by granting them 2 increases in the one year. This was the first occasion on record when the Liberals gave pensioners 2 pension increases in the one year. The Government did so in the hope that pensioners would forget all of the wrong things that it had done and vote for that Government on election day. But the pensioners did not do that.
I come now to the figures for 1972-73. On 5 October 1972, another magnificent increase of $1.75 a week was granted, as the McMahon Government came nearer to the election date. On 14 December 1972 there was another increase of $ 1 .50 a week. That was the retrospective increase given by the Labor Government. As soon as we came into power in 1972 we set about giving a retrospective increase to pensioners. In 1 973-74 there was another increase of $1.50 a week. Then there are the increases which 1 have quoted. When we went out of office pensioners were getting nearly 25 per cent of the average weekly wage, despite the fact that while we were in government we also lifted the average weekly wage magnificently. People in the work force had been denied a decent living standing under the previous Government. We increased the average weekly wage by nearly 50 per cent. Wc were still able to increase the pension to nearly 25 per cent of that wage. That is what we did in government.
Let us go a little further. I get back to Senator Walters’ statement that her Government needs 3 years to put the Australian economy back on the rails. The unemployment figures show that since this Government came to office the number of unemployed has been rising. The figures for the unemployed alone do not give a clear picture. I have received from the Library 2 tables which I will seek leave to have incorporated in Hansard. The 2 tables should be compared. I will cite some of the figures. The astounding thing is the number of people receiving sickness benefit. This is where we get a glaring anomaly. The present unemployment figures are not a true picture of the real number of people unemployed because this Government has put people on sickness benefit. In effect that means there is a smaller number of people on unemployment benefit but even so the number of people on unemployment benefit is still far greater than the number when we were in government.
– The number is greater. I have the table, and I will quote from it.
– You have taken it from the RED scheme.
-I did not take it from the Regional Employment Development scheme. I got it from the Library. It is an authentic document. I will quote some of the figures. I will give the numbers in thousands only; I will omit the hundreds. The figures which I have are as follows:
The September 1976 figures are the latest figures on which I can draw a comparison. The figures are bad enough- the Government has increased the number of unemployed by about 25 000 from August to August- but it has distorted the figures by putting an extra 5000 to 6000 people on sickness benefit. I assume they would have transferred from unemployment benefit to sickness benefit. Let us look at the list. It does not matter how the Government argues, it cannot get out of this position. If the Government is saying that the 5000 to 6000 people should not be on the list, it is admitting that since it came to office it has created more sickness in the community than there was when we were in government. Let us look at the number of people receiving sickness benefit under this Government and the number when we were in government. The figures which I have are as follows:
Again I have given the numbers in thousands only. In March there was a large increase. I do not know whether a lot of people got sick over Easter because they were having such a bad time under the Liberals. There was a jump of 6000 from March to March. I continue quoting the figures:
The Minister might be able to explain to me why the number of people receiving sickness benefit has increased by over 6000 since this Government has been in office. How does it calculate those figures? Are they people who have been receiving unemployment benefit? If they were sick people receiving unemployment benefit under Labor, we were being wrongly criticised because we could not find jobs for those extra 6000 people. That is probably what the Government would say.
– I think Fraser would make anyone sick.
– That could be. It could be that the policies of this Government have been responsible for an extra 6000 people in this category. The number of unemployed is still rising. The Minister might be able to tell me the reason the 6000 are included in that category. I might be wrong in assuming- I do not think sofrom my inquiries in the places where I visit that if these people who are receiving sickness benefit were included in the number of unemployed, we would have a massive increase in the number of unemployed under this Government. Yet Senator Walters slated the Opposition, particularly Senator Grimes, who knows more about the people who suffer poverty than Senator Walters would ever know.
An interesting survey has been done. The result should cause grave concern to every member of Parliament. I refer to a report in the Canberra Times of 6 September 1976 by James Gordon, its health reporter. The article is headed Death risk “higher” for working-class families’. Of course it is higher because working class families cannot afford all the amenities and all the decent living standards that people in the higher echelons in this country can afford. I think that is something at which we ought to be taking a good close look, to try to do something about it. We certainly tried to do something about it by lifting the wage standards of the working class while we were in government. The reverse is happening now. The death risk is still high. It will be higher because the policy of this Government is to go to the Australian Conciliation and Arbitration Commission and oppose every application for a wage increase by the working class people of this country who are seeking a much better living standard.
The 2 honourable senators opposite who spoke today based most of their argument on pensioners. I have too, because I am replying to them. They tried to make us believe that they have great concern. I posed a question to the Minister this morning. It related to what I felt was a great anomaly to pensioners under the Medibank scheme. A pensioner came to my office recently. He was very confused about the Medi-muddle as it is known generally in the community. He was in a private health fund. Because he has a small superannuation income he is compelled to pay the levy. He pays tax and he has to pay the levy. I said to him: ‘What sort of cover do you want?’ He said: ‘I will be happy to have the standard medical cover under Medibank’. In the town in which I live the doctors have been bulk billing for well over 12 months. I am proud to say that they will continue to do so. This man is very fortunate because of that. It is costing him nothing once he pays his levy. He is covered for his medical expenses. He said that he would like a share room in the hospital. So I said: ‘I will contact the Department of Social Security and see whether it is possible for the Department to deduct from your pension the amount of money necessary to cover you for your Medibank levy for the doctor and to cover you for a shared room in hospital under Medibank’. My secretary rang yesterday and he said: ‘This man is in great distress’. I fixed the matter up with this man, and the Department of Social Security thought it was in a position to do as I had asked. The man is now in great distress. He is an inmate of the hospital at Murray Bridge. He received a letter from Medibank to say that Social Security could not deduct payments from his pension. I had advised this fellow to cancel the private insurance, which he had done in the firm belief that he could do so because I had advised him that Social Security could give him cover. Now this person, who is well up in years, is in hospital and is worried that he might be faced with an account for extra charges because he is in a shared ward instead of a standard ward.
This is an anomaly. It is not the only anomaly that this Government brought about when it mucked about with Medibank and caused this medimuddle. Three pamphlets have been put out to try to explain to people what the new Medibank arrangements are all about. It looks as though there is an error in the last one too. They have been printed at enormous cost to the taxpayers. The few million dollars that has been wasted on printing useless pamphlets is something that we should not be really worried about. What we should be worried about is the inconvenience and the worry that have been caused to people such as the man I have just mentioned. They are in the main pensioners, many of them with failing eyesight and many of them living on their own with no one to whom they can turn to get an interpretation of what cover they should have. They find themselves, like the person I have just mentioned- in a mess.
I hope that the Minister, now that I have raised the question with her, can rectify the situation so that pensioners will have the right to go to the Department of Social Security and the Department will be able to deduct as much as they require deducted from their pension so that they are fully covered under whatever Medibank system they want to be covered under. I am not asking the Minister to cover them for private insurance. I am only asking her to make provision so that they can be covered by the Government scheme, that is, Medibank. If they want private insurance they will have to make their own arrangements.
– It is private.
– It was instituted by the Government. It is not one of the multitude of private profit-making concerns pulling the wool over people’s eyes. I do not carry any flag for them. The Minister in her second reading speech said that the large increase in the number of beneficiaries during 1 975 had made it a very difficult task to avoid errors. She was referring to fortnightly payments of unemployment and sickness benefits. She only mentioned 1975 when referring to the large increase in the number of beneficiaries. The table supplied by the Library from which I gave figures shows that there has been a larger increase in the 10 months the present Government has been in office than there was when the Australian Labor Party was in office. I ask the Minister why she did not include in her second reading speech reference to the number of beneficiaries in 1975-76. In that speech she tried to convey to the electors that the largest increase in the number of people receiving unemployment benefits occurred in 1975. In effect; more people are receiving these benefits this year. So let us be honest about these things. If the Minister is having trouble in her Department in making out the cheques, at least let her be honest and not lay the blame on the previous Government.
– Order! You must not imply dishonesty on the part of the Minister.
-Mr President, I will defer to you and I will withdraw that and say that the Minister has made misleading statements, because as I have proved and as the figures to which I referred have proved, the unemployment rate has rapidly increased in the last 10 months under the present Government.
– It is deliberate.
– Of course it is deliberate. I would probably be going outside the Bill if I gave the reasons why it is deliberate. It is to cow the workers. As Mr Menzies used to say, and I well recall hearing him say it when I was a boy, the best foreman you can get on any job is a line of people waiting at the gate for one man’s job. Of course this is the philosophy that the Government is adopting. I seek leave to have incorporated in Hansard the table which I received from the Research Service of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Library dated 20 October 1976.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
The document read as follows-
– I thank the Senate for its indulgence. There is much more I could say on these Bills, but I conclude my remarks by again asking the Minister whether as a matter of urgency she will take on board the matter I have raised- I have elaborated on it more this afternoonto prevent any further distress to pensioners who may be in the same category as the person whose plight I have outlined.
– in reply- This has been an important debate on important Bills that deal with the social security payments of the Government. As was stated, the total of pension and benefits payments is something like $5, 178m. I do not want to canvass all the items raised during the debate, but I want to comment in particular on the matters that have been raised in the amendment moved by Senator Grimes on behalf of the Opposition. The first part of the amendment refers to the Government’s failure to carry out its election promise to legislate for immediate and automatic increases in pensions and benefits in line with the consumer price index. I state again that the Government’s policy speech reads:
Protect benefits from erosion by inflation through automatically adjusting benefit levels every 6 months, according to movements in the Consumer Price Index.
The word ‘immediate’ is not in the policy speech. We have said that every 6 months there will be increases to cover movements in the consumer price index. I am glad that we have been able to introduce the legislative means to do this.
Another part of the Opposition’s amendment refers to the indexation of dependants’ allowances to meet increases in the cost of living. Whilst the Government has been able to index the standard rates of pensions, we have not been able to index the dependants’ allowances. I do not argue that additional payments would not be of benefit to those who received them, but they were not a commitment in our policy speech. There was no reference in it to indexation of dependants’ allowances. We have been able to index the wife’s pension and the additional unemployment and sickness benefits, but again it is a matter of the priorities that can be established when putting together the requirements of a budget. I do not know that we are able to fulfil all the things that we wish to do in any one budget or at any one time. As we have said from time to time in this place, the amount that is spent by the Department of Social Security is approximately 25 per cent of the national budget. It is a very high percentage of the personal income tax payments by the people of Australia. Whilst I would agree with Senator Grimes that we would want to work towards a social security and social welfare plan that overcame poverty, there are limits to what can be achieved because of the ability to pay and the burden of cost that many of these desirable features may induce.
Senator Grimes said that we had made selective adjustments to out benefits in accordance with some of Professor Henderson ‘s recommendations. They could be called selective or they could be called progressive. We have had many reports on poverty, health and other things. It is impossible to do at any one time all those things that may overcome the difficulties that are experienced by a large number of people. But selectively or progressively we are doing what we are able to do to implement some of the excellent recommendations that have been received.
Another part of the amendment moved by the Opposition refers to the Government’s failure to increase the supplementary benefit. This presumably refers to the supplementary assistance of $5 a week payable to pensioners who pay rent and who have little or no other means apart from their pension. Again there were no direct commitments in the policy speech relating to an increase in this assistance. Indexation of this assistance falls into the category of perhaps being desirable but being unattainable.
Another part of the amendment refers to the automatic adjustment of unemployment and sickness benefits for those under 1 8 years of age. I think that we should recall that in the autumn of 1975 the Labor Party decided not to increase the rates of unemployment and sickness benefits for unmarried persons under 18 years of age. This was confirmed in the 1975 Budget of the Labor Party and it has been followed by the present Government. Again it is the matter of priorities and of meeting the needs of the greatest number of people in the most effective way that has lead us to continue this pattern which was started by the Labor Party Government in 1975.
The other matter- perhaps I will be able to say a little more about it later- is the part of the amendment that refers to protecting the incomes of those persons adversely affected by the provisions of this legislation. This legislation will provide that no pension will be reduced or cancelled solely as a result of the change to the new income test. In practice this will mean that pensioners who would otherwise be adversely affected will receive the increases provided for in this Bill on 1 1 November and their pensions will not be reduced or cancelled because of the new income test on 25 November. Pensioners affected by the savings provision will thereby enjoy a higher rate of payment than that to which they would be entitled under the income test. They will continue to enjoy this until a subsequent statutory increase entitles them to a higher rate. We wanted to have that savings clause so that there was not an absolute reduction of pension payment to any pensioner. We believed that that was the safest way in which to introduce the new income test. It has been referred to as being one that is still producing anomalies or inequities but I think it is fair to say that it reduces anomalies that occurred where there were some exempt assets that could be enjoyed by some persons and not by others. It simplifies the eligibility for the pensions that are affected by means testing. We believe that the introduction of the income test is an advance on the system that previously prevailed.
Some questions were raised with regard to the consumer price index and as to whether the Government would be altering this in some way. I think it should be noted again, as it has been noted before, that it is the Commonwealth Statistician who decides the items which will be in the consumer price index. This is not a government decision. The movements that are reflected in the consumer price index from the Statistician’s work are the movements that will be passed on through the increases under the legislation at 6- monthly intervals. Some questions were raised during the debate in the other place that may have been raised here with regard to the unemployment benefit estimates. It should be made clear that any amounts that are in our Budget for pensions or benefits are estimates on our best knowledge at the time the Budget papers are being prepared. In this Budget we have provided $457m for the payment of unemployment benefits for this year. This was based on the expectation that the average number of beneficiaries would be lower this year than in the previous year.
– Something went wrong in the meantime.
– In the Budget Speech the Treasurer (Mr Lynch) said:
It would be rash to predict any early reduction in unemployment; movements in the remainder of calendar year 1976 are unlikely to be great but 1977, all going well, should see the start of a concerted fall.
In reply to the comment of the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Wriedt) I should say that it is an estimate. As he would know, the amounts that cover unemployment benefits come from the National Welfare Fund and whatever the requirements are in this year they will be provided in that fund. I think it would be appropriate to state the estimates in previous Budgets and compare them with the actual expenditure. In 1971-72 the Budget estimate was $1 lm and the actual net expenditure was $25m. In 1972-73 the estimate was $34m and the actual expenditure $46m. In 1973-74 the estimate was $41m and the actual expenditure $5 8m. In 1974-75 the estimate was $ 135m and the actual expenditure was $25 lm. In 1 975-76 $329m was budgeted for and $506m expended. So it may well prove that the experience of past years- that is, insufficient Budget allocations for unemployment benefitswill be repeated in this year. I believe that we all hope that that will not be the case and that a reduction in unemployment is desired by all persons in this place. However, the special appropriations provided for in the National Welfare Fund are available automatically. I do not think it should be assumed that if there is underprovision in the Budget that will necessarily cause hardship or require some new legislation to be introduced.
Mention was made during the debate of unemployment benefit for school leavers. I want to refer to this matter briefly. The Government’s decision that unemployment benefit will not be payable to school leavers during the Christmas vacation was based on a report of the working party comprising officials of the Department of Employment and Industrial Relations and the Department of Social Security. The working party pointed out that there are some undesirable aspects in a situation which allows a young person to proceed direct from school to unemployment benefit. It would be completely unreasonable to accept the position that a school leaver should be granted unemployment benefit within a matter of days after leaving school or before having made any efforts on his own part to obtain employment. Persons claiming unemployment benefit have an obligation to demonstrate that they have taken reasonable steps to obtain work. This is known as the work test and it is administered on behalf of my Department by the Commonwealth Employment Service. Officers of my Department and the Department of Employment and Industrial Relations are looking at the position of school leavers, and the Commonwealth Employment Service will make every effort to find jobs for these young people. Officers of my Department will ensure that a school leaver is notified of his obligations to take reasonable steps to find employment before becoming eligible for unemployment benefits.
There is a close liaison between the 2 departments, and the officers will be meeting shortly to discuss further aspects of this problem. I will be discussing the question with my colleague the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations (Mr Street).
Mention was made, I believe, by Senator Grimes and others, of those people who under the new income test receive superannuation but who may have some difficulties in the future. I believe I should make a brief reference to this matter although references have been made to it previously. In the debate in the House of Representatives the honourable member for Oxley, Mr Hayden, cited the case of a married pensioner whose superannuation is capitalised and treated as property in the assessment of the age pension. It will be recalled that this was introduced by the previous Liberal-Country Party Government. It is now affected by the new income test which we are introducing in this Bill. If the increase in the consumer price index for the immediately preceding September and December quarters of 1976 necessitated a general pension increase of $2.50 a week and the pension being paid was $6.25 a week in excess of the entitlement under the income test it is true that no increase would be paid in May 1977. The pension would then be $3.75 a week in excess of entitlement under the income test.
An increase in the consumer price index for the immediately preceding March and June quarters of 1977 would result in an increase of $1.95 a week in November 1977. Pensions would then be $1.80 a week in excess of the entitlement under the income test. It is true that a pensioner could have to wait until May 1978 to receive an increase. However, the maximum period that a male age pensioner would have to wait before qualifying for a pension increase would be 5 years, because at the age of 70 he would then qualify for a pension free of means test. During this period his pension would be preserved at the rate in force on 24 November 1976, even though he may be entitled to a pension substantially below that amount under the income test.
Generally invalid superannuitants are currently in a better financial position so far as pension is concerned where superannuation is treated as income. In most such cases it will not be necessary to preserve the rate of pension in force immediately prior to 25 November 1976 following the introduction of the income test. Some reference was made to the numbers of superannuitants who may be in this category. To the best of our knowledge, there could be approximately 24 000, most of whom are receiving about $5 a week more under the existing system than they would receive on a straight income basis. Among other groups which would be affected would be pensioners who are earning more than 10 per cent from their property. The reason that we have the savings clause in the new proposals is so that no person will actually receive less.
Senator McLaren referred to the objective of the Labor Party Government to increase pensions to 25 per cent of average weekly earnings. I was glad to hear him acknowledge that that objective was not quite achieved, although the rate hovered around that mark. However, by the time pension payments were.actually received by pensioners the amount never quite achieved the 25 per cent mark, which was the objective of the Labor Government. The pension rate is still hovering around a figure which is below 25 per cent of average weekly earnings. I think that an objective of the system of automatic increases in pensions should be to ensure that there is an increase in real benefit in the level of increased payments that are able to be made.
Senator McLaren gave us a history of pension increases. If he had gone a little further back in history perhaps he may have been able to recall that it was a Labor Party government that introduced the only reduction in age pensions. That is part of our history of pension payments. That sort of statistic shows the way in which pensions have fluctuated throughout the history of the income security system in this country. We should reflect that at the time when pensions were increased by $1 or 75c, perhaps such increases represented a considerable amount. Gradually the amount of benefit has been creeping to the point at which I think we now expect, with the variations that occur from time to time, the rate of pension which applies in this country to be somewhere around 25 per cent of average weekly earnings.
Senator McLaren referred also to that part of the second reading speech which mentioned the fact that the large increase in 1975 in unemployment beneficiaries had made very difficult the avoidance of errors and delays in the payments being made. That statement in the second reading speech was not meant to imply that no increases had occurred this year. Its purpose was to draw attention to the fact that it was difficult for the Department to recruit and train staff effectively so that unemployment benefit cheques, commencing with the base figure I mentioned earlier, could be made available on time without putting strain on the staff. The fortnightly payment cycle was introduced to alleviate that strain and burden, and it was not a reflection on the fact that there are now no increases. Increases now start from a much higher base. The staff which handle them is now trained and able to handle, through computerisation, cheque payments with less difficulty than was occasioned by the rather rapid increases in the pension rate that occurred a year or two ago.
Those are the main matters to which I wish to refer in this debate. I have taken note again of Senator McLaren’s reference to the deduction from pensions of medical insurance charges that may be paid by pensioners. I undertook at question time this morning to investigate that matter. It must be recognised that Medibank Private is a private insurance company. However, I have undertaken to have the matter investigated, and I shall do so. It should not be suggested that Medibank Private is different from any other private insurance company in similar circumstances in terms of arrangements that it might make.
With those comments, I thank the Senate for the debate on the Social Security Bills. I hope that they will have a speedy passage, because if these Bills are not passed through the Senate without delay there will be difficulties in enabling us to make the increased payments that are the subject of the amendments contained in the Bills.
That the words proposed to be added (Senator Grimes’ amendment ) be added.
The Senate divided. (The President- Senator the Hon. Condor Laucke)
Question so resolved in the negative.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Motion (by Senator Guilfoyle)- by leaveagreed to:
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the Questions with regard to the remaining stages for the passage through the Senate of the National Health Amendment Bill (No. 3) 1976 and the Health Insurance Amendment Bill (No. 3) 1976 being put in one motion at each stage, and the consideration of such Bills together in Committee of the Whole, and as would prevent the reading of the Short Titles only on every Order for the reading of the Bills.
Consideration resumed from 19 October, on motions by Senator Guilfoyle:
That the Bills be now read a second time
Questions resolved in the affirmative.
Bills read a second time, and passed through their remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Debate resumed from 19 October, on motion by Senator Durack:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
-On behalf of the Opposition I move the following amendment:
At the end of the motion, add: but that the Senate deplores the inequities which arise from-
the Government’s failure to carry out its election promise to legislate for immediate and automatic increases in pensions and benefits in line with the Consumer Price Index;
b ) the Government ‘s failure to index dependants ‘ allowances to meet increases in the cost of living; and
the Government’s failure to protect the incomes of those pensioners adversely affected by provisions in this legislation. ‘
I commend the amendment to the Senate.
-Is the amendment seconded?
– I second the amendment.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Debate resumed from 20 October, on motion by Senator Webster:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
- Mr President, I understand that this is a cognate debate covering the Australia Council Amendment Bill, the Australian Film Commission Amendment Bill and the Australian Film and Television School Amendment Bill, is that so?
– That is correct.
– I am not sure whether I am speaking in support of these 3 Bills or whether I am about to say a word in defence of the Senate committee system because I understand that in 30 minutes time the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate will be applied, and in view of some instructions that the Bills are required to be passed before that happens there does not seem to be any room for the Chairman of the Standing Committee on Education and the Arts, which is the one that is directly and intimately involved with the amending legislation now before the Senate, to make more than a few remarks in support of the measures. This fills me with some concern.
The measures before the Senate may not be as important as some of the other measures that have been before it today, and they may not have a large impingement on the lives of a wide variety of people but nevertheless if the Senate believes in its system, if the Senate believes in setting up a system of committees of members, and if the Senate believes in referring to those members some serious matters to inquire into then I believe the Senate should also give to those members and to the chairmen in particular the right to have some extended and detailed involvement in the discussions. So my notes, which might not comprise the most brilliant piece of oratory for the Senate, at least are prepared with sincerity and with concern in respect of the measures now before the Senate because it is the members of the Senate Committee and the chairman in particular as well as the Government supporters, who have to go out and face that section of the community that is most affected by this legislation.
The subject of this legislation is that of the arts. This is an important facet in our lifestyle. It may not bring any tangible return but at least it provides intangible benefits and these benefits are of some considerable contribution to our quality and our style of life. There is, on the one hand, considerable difficulty sometimes in arguing for funds for the arts, but on the other hand there is always a certainty that a proper arts program is a great contributor to our national wellbeing. The Bills before us may not necessarily be about the arts in detail. Indeed, if I read them correctly, they are more about management and administration, and relate to the machinery of the arts program within the Australia Council Bill, the Film Commission Bill and the Film and Television School Bill. Management and administration are always important in any measure. I think they are even more important in the matter of the arts because not only do they contribute to the growth and development of the arts and culture but they also provide a better acceptance of the Government’s program in this area.
The Senate will be aware that this cognate debate relates to three pieces of legislation, as I have stated. I do not think it is sufficient to say that they reflect a statement that was made in this place on 3 June because the Australian Council Amendment Bill is designed to improve the organisation of the Council. This Council is very important in our total lifestyle. If anybody questions that statement he has only to refer to the widespread public reaction to the draft report of the Industries Assistance Commission which made the light of day very recently. The measures in the Australia Council Amendment Bill are designed to improve its organisation. The amendments are designed to correct problems, and I think it is important to point out that a lot of these problems have been identified by the Australia Council itself. There was an internal review conducted by the management consultant firm of McKinsey and Co. The Council has taken account also of the recommendations of the Administrative Review Committee.
An important proposal relating to this Australia Council Amendment Bill is to point out that the function of the Council will be to become the Government’s advisory agency on all matters falling within its area of responsibility. The amendments in this Bill provide for Council control of the activities of the Board. This control is to be increased. In the past, this has been something of a problem, but the amendments will enable greater support to be given to the work of the Council. In short, the Australia Council is to receive what I would describe as a considerable and, I am sure, efficient stream-lining. I should now like to refer to the Australian Film Commission Amendment Bill. The ministerial statement which was made in the Senate on 3 June pointed out that the Council would assume responsibility for the powers of the Film and Television Board- a Board which is situated within the Australia Council. It will also undertake responsibility for the activities of the audio-visual branch of the Department of Post and Telecommunications.
We have been pleased to note that the Government has accepted the need for assistance to this area, particularly in experimental and developmental film, radio and television. One of the things that is happening- this is borne out in the Bill relating to the Australian Film and Television School- is the new dramatic expansion of the field of radio. Recent years have seen a tremendous expansion of the influence in the technological, creative and social areas of the world of radio. There has been a community awareness of the potential role of radio in education and community affairs. Therefore, the Australian Film and Television School Amendment Bill takes on a particular and almost multiple degree of importance when it provides that the school will assume responsibility for training in radio and audio-visual communications.
The Senate has not been without its connection and interest in the Bills that are before the House this afternoon. The Senate may recall that earlier in this session I reported on behalf of the Senate Standing Committee on Education and the Arts in relation to the number of inquiries which the Senate had referred to our Committee.
Amongst them was one which dealt with procedures, organisation and action necessary to ensure that the Australia Council and its boards properly carried out the task of overall promotion of the arts in Australia. We had it in mind, as a committee, to go on with this particular reference but did not do so because of the fact that a number of inquiries to which I have referred either had taken place, were then taking place or were planned for the future. In addition to the Council’s own inquiry, inquiries were conducted by the Auditor-General and the Joint Committee on Public Accounts as well as Sir Henry Bland’s Administrative Review Committee. Therefore it was decided that the Senate Standing Committee would not undertake a particular inquiry into the Australia Council. So when this measure comes before the Senate this afternoon the Committee over which I have the honour to preside has more than a passing interest in it, which probably reflects to some extent the reason for the statement which I made at the beginning of my speech.
The difficulties of the Australia Council- I deal with it more particularly than the other two perhaps- arise from a variety of backgrounds. The Bill sets the pattern for cleaning up what has become an administrative problem. It is a case, I think, where bureaucracy has moved along unchecked, committees have proliferated in number and size and high administrative costs have resulted. This proliferation is bad in any business. This proliferation and extension of committees and personnel assumes ugly proportions in any organisation, but I suggest more so when the organisation deals with the area of culture and the arts. The area of culture and the arts is a sensitive area; it is unique in that it has its own particular circumstances. Amongst those circumstances is the fact that generally it has a following- be it small or large- that is blessed with considerable enthusiasm. This growth of bureaucracy, of committees and of numbers threatens and checks effectiveness. It creates tension between artistic groups and, unfortunately, it promotes political and public concern and criticism.
The Council has suffered from rapid growth. That may very well be described as a contradiction in terms, but I think that it is true to say that while we recognise the tension which the Whitlam Government gave to the development of the arts because it tried to move too far too fast and tried to do too much too soon, we recognise also that the program became counterproductive and the attitude taken by the previous government tended to be somewhat irresponsible. The Australia Council and the arts generally were flooded with money in the mistaken belief that such a flooding of money would solve the problem of the arts. If honourable senators examine the McKinsey report they will see that the Australia Council budget in 1972 was $7m and that 3 years later it ran into the figure of $23m. Regrettably, flooding the arts with money, as I said earlier, was counter-productive and produced unfavourable public reaction, particularly in areas where so many groups or people received support which, if I may say so, they neither merited nor deserved.
Another problem relating to the Australia Council concerns its structure. It became topheavy and unwieldly. In Australia we have not given sufficient attention, thought, consideration and support to what I would call private patronage of the arts, although I must say that I believe in Government patronage of the arts. In a country and in a civilisation like ours, that is not only desirable but also is necessary. Nevertheless, I think a strong case can be made out for the encouragement of private patronage of the arts. But we do not have that yet and so government patronage is dominant. When government patronage is dominant in an area such as the arts, the structure tends to be top-heavy and unrelated to the final end. The further problems arose from what I would call a general lack of direction. Under its charter the Council is charged to promote excellence in the arts. The Council is charged to promote the general application of arts in the community. They are very easy phrases to say, but I suggest that they have within them a lack of direction which shows up in the conflict between the various art forms- the big company versus the local community organisations. I know that sort of conflict is a fact of life, but the Australia Council must have efficient, concise and stream-lined management to deal with it.
In the midst of all this the Industries Assistance Commission report arrived on the scene. It was a quite remarkable report. Its details are familiar to members of the Senate. I did not like the report. It produced a great deal of anger, a great deal of shock and a wide variety of descriptions were attached to it. I think the whole area of the arts was considered against a wrong background. The IAC used an economic approach and reached conclusions which had no relation to the place of the arts in our society. It tended to give emphasis that would create a cultural elite. Only the rich could afford the arts. It would destroy the development of Australian artistry and there would follow an enormous drain of Australian talent to other pans of the world. It would mean also that any artistic or cultural benefits would be available to Australia only in the areas that were wealthy and more populous.
Having made that strong criticism of the report, I think it is fair to observe that there are one or two points that ought to be taken into consideration. It is my view that such a reference should never have been put to the IAC. It was the wrong inquiry by the wrong authority. But if we say that, any activity which involves public funds must take into account that there must be reasonable justification for the allocation of public funds. There must be also accountability, and taxpayers are entitled to see what I would call value for money. When I use these fairly easy phrases I recognise the difficulties in dealing with the field of arts.
We should take notice of the IAC argument that witnesses did not present claims with sufficient power of advocacy. According to the report- I think I quote it correctly- witnesses assume that public benefits flowing from support of the performing arts were an unquestioned article of faith. There is always a point in this sort of argument beyond which one can only express an article of faith. There is a point beyond which one can talk only in intangibles. People who are enthusiasts for the arts should always be ready and able to support applications for funds with strong convictions bearing in mind justification and accountability. The draft IAC report, as I said, offended many. Yet surely it alerted the whole Australian community to the role and significance of the arts in our society. It alerted what I would call the artistic community to its areas of responsibility. It has alerted the community to the importance of an interdependent relationship between various sections of our society as we work out a cultural program that is not only beneficial and widely available but also is enjoyable.
These Bills generally have my support. The Australia Council Bill in particular has my support because the areas concerned will benefit from the new measures. That does not mean that the last word has been said on these things. The artistic area always has been and always will be one of controversy. It will be one of controversy within the cultural community and within the wider community. It impinges upon sensitive areas and it is not possible to satisfy everyone. I hope that the restructured Australia Council will bring a greater feeling of community responsibility and interest. I conclude by referring to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which within its list of fundamental freedoms talks about the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community. In today’s society man is always searching for ways to reintegrate the arts in society and to associate the public more closely with the cultural life of the community. As a result of a long and artificial separation between the arts and the public we need to have this integration.
Today we live in a world of automation and greater leisure time. There is urgent need for a continuing, changing and reforming assessment of ways in which cultural, artistic and educational communities can reach out to associate all members of society in the cultural life of the community. There are other arguments and other things to be said in detail relating not only to the Australia Council but also to the Australian Films Commission Amendment Bill and the Australian Film and Television School Amendment Bill. Within the restriction placed upon me I merely say that I have very much pleasure in supporting the measures before the Senate.
-I sympathise with Senator Davidson. Perhaps he does not need my sympathy. I shared with Senator Davidson the Senate Standing Committee on Education, Science and the Arts. I regret that we have to debate this very important measure at this late hour on a Thursday. The Australia Council Bill sets out in some way to correct the continuing errors of the Australia Council. I emphasise the words ‘the continuing errors of the Australia Council’. It perhaps would have been better if this Bill had been withheld until the Industries Assistance Commission report had been tabled. I think perhaps it would have been advisable for the Senate Standing Committee on Education and the Arts, which Senator Davidson chairs, to have continued with its inquiry into the Australia Council, because unless certain reforms of administration are taken within the Australia Council this Bill will be of little use.
I accept that the Government needs to have the legislation passed. I accept that the legislation is required to allow certain moneys to flow to some worthwhile enterprises which are funded by the Australia Council. For that reason we have not insisted that this Bill be postponed until the Parliament meets after next week’s recess. The Government, because of its desire to have the Bill passed, may have reluctantly taken steps to force this Bill through. I do not think that is what the Government wanted. I do not think that this legislation would have been shown in its correct light if that course had been taken. We on this side could be terribly arrogant and strongly resist this legislation without properly scrutinising it at the second reading stage and in the Committee stage. We could do that, but there is a way out for us. Those of us who have criticisms of the Australia Council to make -
– Constructive ones, too.
– Yes, constructive ones. They may appear to be destructive in the first instance but constructive they are intended to be. We will have the opportunity to take up these matters when the Appropriation Bills are being debated. At that time we will go more deeply into the sum of the matters that I wish to raise.
However, this Bill provides for among other things the appointment of a general manager for a period of 7 years. It is desirable for us to point out that the previous administrator of the Australia Council has been at fault. One would need to remind the Government again of the errors of the past administrator- perhaps the acting administrator- of the Australia Council in case the Government decides to appoint that administrator to the job of general manager.
– She has been made a scapegoat; that is all.
– She is not a scapegoat. I should have liked an opportunity to debate this matter. Senator Missen says that the present administrator is being made a scapegoat. I say that if she considers herself to be a scapegoat -
– I am not saying she said it. I am saying it.
– If the honourable senator says she is a scapegoat then perhaps he should accept responsibility for some of her errors. I have pointed out to the Senate on several occasions the need for investigation of certain charges which were being made against the administrators of the Australia Council. Senator Davidson will recall that I referred at one stage to a letter that had been sent by the Administrative and Clerical Officers Association to the Auditor-General. I specifically raised the matter at the time when the Chairman of the Senate Committee said that the Committee did not wish to continue with its reference. I regret that it did not do so. It would have been able in some way to investigate further what I have said to be the continuing errors of the Australia Council administration.
That letter, which was sent to the AuditorGeneral, has not been acted upon by the Auditor-General. There are some serious charges in that letter. The charges made are of nepotism and phantom appointments- serious charges of the misuse of public moneys- yet the AuditorGeneral made no reference in his report to those serious charges by a leading association of employees. Until this matter is resolved no appointment should be made or considered. If a nomination is received from the present administrator, that nomination ought not in any way to be considered until the matter is cleared up. What has happened to that charge or that complaint that went to the Auditor-General? For some reason it has been held up. The reason seems to be that a massive writ for $ 1 m has been issued by Dr Battersby against the Australian Clerical Officers Association, a writ that seeks in some way to inhibit the investigation and has in fact -
– I rise to order. I understand from what Senator Georges has said that there is litigation proceeding. It would be quite improper for him to try to impede the course of justice by referring to or criticising that action in this Parliament.
-Speaking to the point of order, I think the attitude has been taken and rulings have been given that no debate in this place should be inhibited by a writ issued obviously for the purpose of intimidating. That is my view of the situation. Here we have a writ issued by a person who is likely to be appointed under this legislation as general manager for a term of 7 years at a salary of $30,000 without certain charges which have been made to the AttorneyGeneral having been investigated.
– Further to my point of order -
- Senator Georges is still speaking to the point of order.
– He has since said that a writ has been issued for the purpose of intimidation. That is making it worse and I suggest that he should be stopped from continuing to debate this subject, as he is doing, and adding charge after charge.
– Perhaps to assist you, Mr President, I will not continue in that way and will not concern myself with the fact that the writ has been issued. I take it that there is some substance in what Senator Missen has said. However, I think Senator Missen would agree that it is necessary to make mention of this matter but perhaps I should not enlarge upon it.
I emphasise the importance of investigation into the continuing errors. Some of the information that has come to me, which is not subject to any litigation, is that the estimates of the Australia Council this year were established without reference to a sum of $1 1/2m. This is a matter which needs to be investigated before this Bill is dealt with. Although we have agreed that the Bill should proceed now, the matter ought to be raised. How is it that when the estimates for the Australia Council were being formulated no consideration was given to $l’/im which was lodged at the Bank of New South Wales at North Sydney in the form of a cheque? When information of this nature is revealed in relation to estimates, surely that information should be searched out.
If we were to become political about this, and of course we are all political in this place, we would want to know exactly what sort of pressures have been brought to bear in order to maintain the high level of funding to the Australia Council which separately maintains a high administrative charge of 15 per cent. I would like to know how the Government can continue to maintain a funding at this level knowing the existence of errors within the Australia Council, those errors having been revealed in the past by various examinations, and then learning quite recently that while the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) was in New Zealand the administrator of the Australia Council travelled across to New Zealand together with her daughter- they travelled first class- and took with them 64 Aborigines who did not travel first class. Of course, they could not because there was not enough room. Nevertheless, here is a situation where the administrator of the Australia Council and her daughter- one of the phantom appointments to which I have referred- travelled first class to New Zealand while the troupe travelled second class and the purpose of Dr Battersby ‘s visit to New Zealand was nothing more nor less than to impress the Prime Minister that she was the right person for the appointment.
– Order! It being 5 p.m., under sessional order I put the question:
That the Senate do now adjourn.
Question resolved in the negative.
-The purpose of negativing the motion for the adjournment of the Senate is to allow us to finish the debate on this Bill. The IAC report ought not to be discarded. There have been certain socio-economic breakdowns of attendances at cultural functions which show that in spite of what the Australia Council has done in the past there is a heavy preponderance of middle class attendance. Unless the Australia Council alters its way and unless we begin to reform at the top this development of elitism in the arts will continue. I suggest that those who criticise the Industries Assistance Commission report and question the background of that investigation should read an article in the National Times of 18 October by P. P. McGuinness under the heading ‘Why Subsidise the Arts ‘. It says that the IAC report is a valuable report when one comes to consider the future of the arts. I have referred to matters which I will again take up with the Minister for Science (Senator Webster) during the debate on the estimates. I want to find out without taking up time at the Committee stage why we should fund an organisation with $19m. I do not say that that is too much for the arts. Our society should be prepared to spend and I do not agree with Senator Davidson that the arts should be financed by private patronage. Private patronage I do not deny, but society patronage through Government is a must. Perhaps $ 19m is not enough; nevertheless, that is the level of funding. I question the IS per cent administrative cost to distribute $19m. The Minister will appreciate that that administrative cost is far too high for a distribution of $ 1 9m. It is patronage of those who apparently intend to patronise. That is how it has been working.
Let me put another point to the Minister. I possibly will ask in the debate on the Estimates why it is necessary to pay a level 5 salary to the general manager for a period of 7 years, a salary of about $30,000 to $33,000-1 am not certain of that figure and perhaps the Minister can give me the exact figure- to supervise the distribution of $ 1 9m and a staff of 1 83 people. I refer the Minister to his own department or the Department of Employment and Industrial Relations and suggest that he find out what are the responsibilities of a man or woman in that department on a salary of $30,000. He will find that a person at that level is supervising perhaps 1800 employees. I ask the Minister to give me somewhere along the line a breakdown or classification of those who are paid out of this IS per cent administrative charge. Why is it necessary to pay such a high figure to someone for the supervision of 1 83 employees? What salaries are the others receiving?
Furthermore, to save time during the Committee stage and so that the Minister may give me an answer at the time when we discuss the Estimates Committees’ reports, I ask: Why is it necessary in the distribution of $ 19m to have a rental charge, which includes the provision of $900,000 a year for accommodation of 1 83 people.
This legislation is perpetuating that state of affairs. We ought to look carefully at the levels of remuneration established by the legislation and confer with the Public Service Board to introduce some form of relativity in these salaries. Surely that is a reasonable criticism to make together with the other criticisms I have made. Surely it is reasonable to criticise on the basis that this body does not need that level of administrative cost to distribute $20m to various societies and others in the community including, at the grass roots level, those organisations that have developed of their own volition, in order to lift the cultural level of our society.
I make no further points at this stage as I believe I have made my argument sufficiently. I have been questioned about raising the matter of writs, charges and complaints to the AuditorGeneral. I have made serious complaints. I ask the Minister to take these matters into consideration when he has discussions with the appropriate Minister as to the implementation of the legislation that we are passing at this late hour today.
– in reply- I thank the Senate for the contributions that have been made to the cognate debate on these 3 Bills. I thank particularly Senator Button, Senator Davidson and Senator Georges. I acknowledge that a number of other honourable senators from the Government and the Opposition would wish to have spoken on this legislation. I thank them for their forbearance at this stage.
The passage of these Bills through the Parliament marks a significant point in the development of the arts in Australia. It is no secret that this area of Government activity has been surrounded from time to time with controversy and heated argument. Some of that controversy and agrument has arisen from the very nature of this field of activity. It is a field in which we all have personal opinions and tastes, and where those opinions and tastes often differ greatly from those of our contemporaries. But other aspects of the controversy and argument have concentrated on areas where there has been cause for legitimate concern.
Senator Georges this afternoon has raised some most important matters which have important implications. The Senate is the place for such questioning. Certainly when it is related to the expenditure of various instrumentalities, I would think that the Estimates Committees would be the appropriate place to pursue the matters raised. As Senator Georges said, an opportunity will be available when the Appropriation Bills are before the Committee of the whole for him to raise the questions further.
The Bills before the Senate seek to ensure that the continuing Commonwealth Government administration of the arts is attuned to the times, but maintains reasonable controls and balance while still providing freedom for the genuinely talented to develop their individual artistry. The statement by the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) of 3 June last made it perfectly clear that this Government is firmly committed to support and encourage the development of the arts throughout the Australian community. He also made it plain, however, that the Government should not be seen as being the only patron of the arts. The importance of individual support and expression in this area makes it all the more imperative that the role of government be limited, and that it be subject to review with changing circumstances. Commissars of culture are the last thing we need; and the proliferation of bureaucracy for the encouragement of the arts is almost a contradiction in terms. The legislation before the Senate has been specifically designed to take account of the need for restraint in administrative empire-building and to generate much-needed efficiency in this field.
Measures still under consideration will be designed to produce greater diversification and decentralisation in the arts. This will be undertaken in co-operation with State and local governments and the private sector. As the Prime Minister made clear: ‘We are seeking not to find substitutes for government assistance, but to expand on that necessary base’. Many Opposition senators, I know, already agree with the reform measures the Government is implementing in this area. The fact that, in general, their criticisms have not been very strongly worded or vehement does suggest that they know too well that action of the kind we have taken has been needed for some time. The fact that this reform has been undertaken in the context of strong expressions of continuing support for artistic endeavour provides assurance that individual talent can only benefit from modernisation. The levels of assistance are being maintained within the guidelines for economic restraint. What is intended is that the atmosphere surrounding that assistance and the organisational efficiency of the institutions providing it will be refreshed and improved. As the Prime Minister has said, this legislation is not the ‘last word’. It is part of the continuing process of adapting our institutions for the benefit of the nation and the individual.
Suspension of Standing Orders
Motion (by Senator Webster)- by leaveagreed to:
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the Questions with regard to the remaining stages for the passage through the Senate of the Australia Council Amendment Bill 1976, Australian Film Commission Amendment Bill 1976 and the Australian Film and Television School Amendment Bill 1976 being put in one motion at each stage, and the consideration of such Bills together in Committee of the Whole, and as would prevent the reading of the Short Titles only on every Order for the reading of the Bills.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
Bills read a second time, and passed through their remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Senate adjourned at 5.14 p.m. until 2.30 p.m. on Tuesday, 2 November 1976, unless earlier called together in accordance with the resolution agreed to this day.
The following answers to questions were circulated:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice:
Mr Hunt The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
An amount of $750,000 has been included in my Department’s 1976-77 budget under the family planning program for research and educational programs, for support of the two national family planning organisations and for support of the non-clinical activities of the family planning associations.
From 1 October 1976 the family planning associations will continue to receive health program grants on the basis of a deficit funding of clinical services after allowing for medical benefits and other related revenue received until 30 June 1977. The level of the grant is now being calculated on the cost to the Associations of clinical services provided to standard Medibank contributors, or those patients who are exempt from the levy because of low incomes or entitled to pensioner health benefits.
Each Association will be charging a fee-for-service for scheduled services for those patients who are privately insured, except where recourse to fund benefit is not possible because the clients are ‘unbillable’ through reluctance to utilise family cover etc. In this case the health program grant will also be available as a means of financing the costs of the services to these patients. Reports in Western Australia that the Government would not renew financial assistance to the family planning association are therefore inaccurate.
asked the Minister representing the Attorney-General, upon notice:
– The Attorney-General has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question.
The other document is a collection of the press releases and speeches made by the Attorney-General from January to mid-July.
The first document contains 182 pages. Three hundred copies were printed by the Government Printer at a cost of $673.48.
The second document contains 196 pages. Two hundred and fifty copies were printed by the Government Printer at a cost of $624.58.
Distribution costs are $ 1 1 2.
Preservation of Foods by Irradiation (Question No. 1094)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice:
– The Minister for Health has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question: (1)1 have already asked for the report of the World Health Organization Conference, Geneva, 31 August to 7 September 1976 relating to preservation of foods by irradiation to be made available as soon as possible in the Parliamentary Library.
Food irradiation has limited prospects for the preservation of foods generally as extremely efficient processing techniques, such as canning and pasteurisation, are already in use.
However, food irradiation may have considerable merit in the control of insect infestation, especially in view of the growing resistance of some insects to pesticides and the need for Australia to export cereal grains over long distances.
– On 16 September 1976 Senator Button asked the Minister for Post and Telecommunications the following question without notice:
My question relates to the joint statement made by the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs and the Minister for Post and Telecommunications on 9 September dealing with ethnic radio. In that statement the Ministers say that the Australian Broadcasting Commission would be asked to assume responsibility for ethnic radio. I ask the Minister: Firstly, has there been an answer to that request that the ABC assume that responsibility? Secondly, what additional arrangements have been made for further funding for the ABC to provide for the additional work of catering for ethnic radio? Thirdly, in view of the fact that the licences of stations 2EA and 3EA expire on 1 October and that there is considerable concern about the future of those stations, what has the Government determined about their immediate future?
The Minister for Post and Telecommunications has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
I understand that the ABC has postponed acceptance of the Government’s offer pending further examination of the issues involved.
The Government has agreed that adequate funding should be provided for ethnic radio under a permanent structure. The actual level of funding is still to be discussed by the Treasurer and the Ministers for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs and Post and Telecommunications.
The licences for 2EA and 3EA have been re-issued to the current licence holders for a further period of three months and the Postal and Telecommunications Department will continue to operate the stations pending a resolution of the question of a permanent structure.
Australian Capital Territory: School Bus Services
– On 16 September 1976 Senator Ryan asked me a question without notice about the introduction of bus passes for school bus travel and in particular about the case of a 5-year-old girl who was allegedly put off a bus because she did not have a pass. The Minister for the Capital Territory has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
School fares were introduced at the beginning of the third term of 1976. Because of administrative problems with the allocation of tickets and the fact that some parents were absent from Canberra during the school holidays arrangements were made to delay the implementation date. School was resumed on Monday, 13 September but no child was asked to present either a pass or a ticket before Friday, 1 7 September, and drivers were specifically instructed to be lenient, particularly towards small children, in the period beyond that date.
Senator Ryan’s question was asked prior to the expiry of the no-fare period and it is impossible that any child could have been left stranded at a bus stop.
Inspectors of the Department of the Capital Territory Bus Service investigated the particular complaint. The child involved was the victim of a practical joke imposed on her by her school mates. Her father was aware of the situation and in fact intervened and took the child home. As far as can be determined, at no point was the child refused entry on a bus nor was she threatened or molested.
The new school fare system is designed as far as possible to be easy to use and simple to administer. Like all new systems it is subject to criticism and some people do not understand it. I am told that children are now adapting very quickly to the system and there is little, if any, confusion remaining.
On the issue of those families which find themselves in need of financial assistance, the Minister for the Capital Territory and the Treasurer have made provision for special assistance in these cases. Families which find themselves in financial difficulties can make application to the Welfare Branch of the Department of the Capital Territory for assistance.
-On 20 October 1976 Senator Button asked the Minister for Post and Telecommunications the following question, without notice:
What is to happen to those ethnic radio stations licensed under the Wireless Telegraphy Act, the licences of which will expire on 30 October this year? Have they been advised of the situation regarding funding for their future operations?
The Minister for Post and Telecommunications has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
The Minister is seeking interim funding for the two stations from 1 November 1 976 until the ABC comes to a decision about the request that it establish a permanent ethnic broadcasting service. The management of the station is aware of this. Funding for October has already been approved.
Statutory Authorities under Control of Treasurer (Question No. 941)
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice:
– The Treasurer has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
Australian Industry Development Corporation;
Commonwealth Banking Corporation incorporating:
Commonwealth Trading Bank of Australia;
Commonwealth Savings Bank of Australia;
Commonwealth Development Bank of Australia.
Reserve Bank of Australia.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 21 October 1976, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1976/19761021_senate_30_s69/>.