30th Parliament · 2nd Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Condor Laucke) took the chair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.
– I present the following petition from 69 citizens of Australia:
To the Honourable the President and members of the Senate. The petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
That the delays between announcements of each quarterly movement in the Consumer Price Index and their application as a percentage increase in age and invalid pensions is excessive, unnecessary, discriminatory and a cause of economic distress to pensioners.
That proposals to amend the Consumer Price Index by eliminating particular items from the Index could adversely affect the value of future increases in age and invalid pensions and thus be a cause of additional economic hardship to pensioners.
The foregoing facts impell your petitioners to ask the Australian Government as a matter of urgency to-
. Require each quarterly percentage increase in the consumer price index to be applied to age and invalid and similar pensions as from the pension pay day nearest following the date of announcement of the CPI movement.
Give an open assurance to all aged and invalid pensioners that any revision of the items comprising the consumer price index will in no way result in reduction in the value of any future entitlements to pensioners.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray.
Petition received and read.
– Petitions have been lodged for presentation as follows:
To the Honourable the President and members of the Senate in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned concerned citizens respectfully showeth:
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the Senate in Parliament assembled, should ensure:
That the Commonwealth Government’s long-term policy should be to provide SO per cent of all funding for Australia ‘s roads.
That at a minimum the Commonwealth Government adopts the recommendations by the Australian Council of Local Government Associations for the allocation of $5, 903m of Commonwealth, State and Local Government funds to roads over the five years ending 1980-81, of which the Commonwealth share would be 41 per cent as recommended by the Bureau of Roads. by Senator Mcintosh, Senator Chaney, Senator Donald Cameron, Senator Drake-Brockman, Senator Steele Hall and Senator Collard.
To the Honourable the President and members of the Senate in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned concerned citizens respectfully showeth:
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the Senate in Parliament assembled, should ensure:
That the Commonwealth Government should totally finance national highways and half the cost of constructing and maintaining all other public roads.
That since current road funding arrangements have seen a deterioration in road assets, this backlog in construction and maintenance needs to be reduced by the Commonwealth Government undertaking to make a larger financial contribution. by Senator Lewis.
To the Honourable the President and Members of the Senate, in the Parliament assembled. The petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth.
That the Commonwealth Government restore the Petrol Price Equalisation Scheme immediately for the benefit of those people who live away from the seaboard.
Your petitioners believe that the matter is urgent and your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Senator Sheil.
To the Honourable the President and Members of the Senate in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth.
That grave concern is expressed about the Government’s intention to dismantle the Australian Legal Aid Office which is providing efficient, readily available legal aid to all communities in Australia.
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the Government will undertake a full national enquiry as proposed in 1975 by the present Attorney-General, as a matter of urgency.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Senator Mcintosh (2 petitions).
To the honourable the President and members of the Senate in Parliament assembled.
The petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth.
That Australian Government employees strenuously oppose the provisions of the Commonwealth Employees (Redeployment and Retirement) Bill first introduced in the House of Representatives on 8 December 1976. The basis for opposition includes the following reasons.
Your petitioners most humbly pray that the Senate, in Parliament assembled, should reject passage of any legislation to extend powers of compulsory retirement of Australian Government employees unless and until any variation has been agreed with staff representatives.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will every pray. by Senator Jessop.
To the honourable the President and members of the Senate assembled. The petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth.
That the delays between announcements of each quarterly movement in the Consumer Price Index and their application as a percentage increase in age and invalid pensions is excessive, unnecessary, discriminatory and a cause of economic distress to pensioners.
That proposals to amend the Consumer Price Index by eliminating particular items from the Index could adversely affect the value of future increases in age and invalid pensions and thus be a cause of additional economic hardship to pensioners.
The foregoing facts impel your petitioners to ask the Australian Government as a matter of urgency to:
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Senator Guilfoyle.
Tabling of Reports in the Senate
– I give notice that on the next day of sitting I shall move:
-I give notice that on the next day of sitting I shall move:
That Australia asserts sovereignty over the 200-mile zone of sea adjacent to the Australian continent and that the requests of other nations for fishing rights be subject to licence.
-I ask the Minister for Industry and Commerce: Is it true that the Philippines is now applying selective cuts on Australian imports in retaliation against the Government’s high tariff policy? Are there any other countries, particularly in South East Asia, which are taking similar measures against Australian goods? Would not the action of the Philippines Government, if applied on a larger scale, completely remove any of the alleged benefits of devaluation to Australia’s manufacturing industry?
-I am not aware that the Philippines has done that. I am aware that in the past all kinds of threats have been made from countries in the world with which we trade both as an importer and an exporter. However, I hope that I do not detect in the question from Senator Wriedt- I am sure it is not his intention- that he is in broad a supporter of a proposition of unrestrained imports leading to massive increases in Australia’s unemployment. I am sure that that is not his intention. Certainly it is not mine. What I try to do is to maintain a balance in the situation between the manufacturer, those who work in the community of manufacturing, consumers, importers and retailers. Mr President, one thing should be said over and over again: The proposition that increased imports of clothing and textiles into Australia would decrease the cost to the Australian community was not brought on by this Government. Nothing could be further from the truth. The greatest increases in costs in this country have taken place in the area of clothing and textiles of which there have been the greatest quantities of imports.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Transport. It relates to the reported statement in the Melbourne Age on 12 March 1977 that the Federal and State governments will set up an Australian Railway Research and Development Organisation to be incorporated as a company in Victoria and that this company will be under the control of State railway representatives and the secretary of the Federal Department of Transport. Will there also be a representative on the board of the organisation from the Australian National Railways? The report also states that this company will be financed by a levy imposed on all governments. Is the Minister in a position to provide the Senate with details of the proposed company, its precise functions and the anticipated running costs to the Federal and State governments? Does this mean an increase in freight charges and passenger fares?
– I have some advice on the matter. My understanding is that the proposal to establish an Australian Railway Research and Development Organisation was raised at the recent meeting of the Australian Transport Advisory Council which was held in Hobart. It was endorsed in principle by all the Ministers present. That is my understanding. Details of the organisation still have to be worked out but it is anticipated that finance will be obtained by imposing a levy on State and Commonwealth railway bodies which will be related to the turnover of each railway system. It is also my understanding that it is not proposed that the organisation will require a large budget, that the levy on each railway system will be relatively insignificant and will not cause an increase in costs. In fact, the opposite is envisaged. It is hoped that the work of the organisation will assist railway systems further to improve their financial viability. As to the final question asked by the honourable senator, I advise him that the Australian National Railways will be represented.
-Can the Minister representing the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs inform the Senate whether the Victorian office of the Department of Aboriginal Affairs has an officer on a class 8 salary attending Melbourne University on a full time basis and whether a second officer commences the same 2-year course in 1977 also on full salary? Have similar study facilities been extended to any Aborigines employed by the Department in Victoria? Are the costs of the salaries debited against the Department of Aboriginal Affairs or are they being met by the Australian Government Department of Education?
– I suggest that the information would be supplied if the question were put on notice. It is specific. I do not have the information with me.
-Has the Minister representing the Treasurer seen recent Press reports that there is uncertainty in the business community as to whether applications for overseas borrowings for the development of new projects and the expansion of industry, including the purchase of plant and equipment in the mining and manufacturing industries, are eligible for exemption from the variable deposit ratio scheme? Will the Minister state what are the clearly defined guidelines setting out what areas of mining and manufacturing are exempted and what criteria are being used to determine whether an overseas borrowing qualifies for such exemption?
-Not only has the Treasurer seen the Press reports, but I, like the honourable senator, have also seen them. As I am involved in this area I have an answer which I think perhaps could be usefully stated. It may take a little time. The Treasurer made a very clear statement on this matter on 14 January 1977 in announcing the overseas borrowing controls. He said:
The modified VDR scheme will not apply te overseas borrowings for capital investment in mining and manufacturing industries- i.e. borrowings which are made specifically and solely for the purpose of directly financing such investment will be exempt. This exemption will cover the development of new projects or productive enterprises, expansion of existing productive capacity, purchase of plant and equipment and exploration activities.
The criteria that are used to determine this position are as set out in the Treasurer’s statement. Also a general area of exemptions is being permitted on an approved schedule, which I think can be found in the statement. The people who are approved under the scheme have to submit schedules of the draw down of the finance so that there will not be a flood of money in a country for speculative purposes ahead of its requirement. Honourable senators will be aware that a committee has been established to supervise the scheme. It is headed by the previous Chairman of the Commonwealth Banking Corporation, Sir Bede Callaghan. The members of the committee are the permanent heads of the Department of Industry and Commerce, the Department of the Treasury, the Department of National Resources and the Reserve Bank. The whole matter is under very careful control. The only thing that might be said, if perhaps the matter is not understood fully, is that the scheme is easy to get to understand and questions like that asked by the honourable senator aid the process of understanding.
– My question, which is directed to the Minister representing the Treasurer, follows the one just asked by Senator Young. As the honourable senator did not ask a supplementary question presumably he was satisfied with the answer. It seemed to me that he was asking the Minister the reason for the preferential treatment which is being accorded moneys coming from overseas which are exempt from the variable deposit ratio requirements. I ask: Can the Minister explain why the Government has seen fit to apply those exemptions specifically to the industries stated? Does this mean that the Government intends to proceed with a preferential basis for investment in the mining sector of this country if need be at the expense of the manufacturing sector?
-I do not really think that that was what Senator Young asked. If that is what Senator Wriedt would like to know there is no problem. The exemptions were for mining and manufacturing, not just mining. The view was taken by the Government that those industries were genuinely productive enterprises capable of expansion, generating employment activity and adding to productivity and to the balance of payments, thereby making Australia a more prosperous country with higher standards of living. That ought to be a general object that would have the support of us all. There is no intention to differentiate between good projects in the manufacturing and mining fields and any other worthwhile project. The problem was to be able to ensure that we could overcome what is called an inflow of speculative money. It is equally clear that a genuine project is capable of being approved. A committee has been established to examine all such cases. That is the fact. I would be quite happy, if Senator Wriedt would like me to do so, to get a thoroughly definitive statement for him on the whole of the area. Perhaps in his position as Leader of the Opposition he would like to have it.
-Can the Minister representing the Minister for Post and Telecommunications inform the Senate why a list of postcodes is included in metropolitan telephone directories but not in country directories? In view of Australia Post’s request that the public affix postcodes when addressing envelopes, does this lack not disadvantage our country population?
– Since confession is good for the soul, I must say that I was not aware that the list of postcodes did not appear in country directories. In response to the second question, quite clearly that must be a disadvantage. That being so, and since the suggestion implicit in Senator Missen ‘s question is eminently sensible, I will direct the question and its implications to the responsible Minister.
– My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs. In view of the threat of organised demonstrations against the Australian Embassy in Jakarta made by the Indonesian Foreign Minister, Mr Malik, does the Minister consider that advice regarding risk should be given to Australian citizens now travelling in Indonesia or to those intending to travel to Indonesia? What steps can the Government take to protect Australian personnel and records at the Embassy?
-I think that the best thing I can say about this is that the Government does not intend to react incautiously to the reported remarks of the Indonesian Foreign Minister. It will seek to discuss calmly a dispute which possibly exists between the 2 countries. I think that to handle the matter in that way is better than to put ourselves in perhaps a semi-panic situation and perhaps make the situation worse than it is.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Health and concerns a very technical diagnostic procedure, upper gastrointestinal endoscopy. I ask: Are claims for medical benefit rebate in respect of these diagnostic procedures allowed when the service is carried out by any doctor? Is there any restriction on the rebates payable when upper gastrointestinal endoscopy is carried out by nonclinical specialists, non-gastroinstestinal specialists or general practitioners? To what extent have the views of the Gastroenterological Society of Australia in respect of the dangers of this procedure been taken into account and to what extent have their veiws on the proper training necessary for the performance of this type of procedure been recognised by limitations on the availability of rebates to properly trained clinicians?
– The answer to the first question in regard to claims is yes. The answer to the second question in regard to restrictions on rebates is no. In relation to the third question, which asked to what extent the views of the Gastroenterological Society have been taken into account, I am able to say that the medical benefits schedule items covering upper gastrointestinal endoscopy were introduced on the recommendation of the Medical Benefits Schedule Revision Committee following a request for their introduction by the Gastroenterological Society of Australia through the Australian Medical Association. The Society did not express any views about the dangers of this procedure or the proper training necessary for its performance.
-The Minister for Administrative Services will recall that last week I asked him a question about a Mr Vincent Teresa being met by Commonwealth Police at Sydney Airport on his arrival in Australia recently. The Minister said that he would obtain some information on the matter. I wonder if the Minister is yet in a position to provide me with the details?
-Senator Douglas McClelland will remember that he asked 3 questions. Mr Davis, the Commissioner for Police, has supplied me with the answers. As a result of information received, Commonwealth Police were present at Sydney Airport on 2 1 February 1977 when Vincent Teresa arrived in Australia. Police accompanied him to the Customs entry check point, where he was subjected to normal Customs entry procedures. At no time was I, or the Minister, aware of the intended arrival of Teresa. The Commonwealth Police received information on 18 February 1977 that this person was likely to arrive on Monday, 2 1 February 1977. This was confirmed shortly before his actual arrival. I am further informed that the proposed visit of Teresa to Australia had been publicised by the media. Because of the role of the Commonwealth Police in regard to international organised crime, the Commonwealth Police had an obvious interest in Teresa and his arrival. In answer to another part of the question asked by Senator Douglas McClelland, I did not consult any of my colleagues as I did not know of Teresa’s intended arrival. Finally, the Commonwealth Police did not consult any other departments before meeting him on his arrival.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Health: In view of the reported abuses of the Medibank system by a small minority of doctors, can the Minister say whether the existing staff techniques are adequate to detect abuses and to follow them up with prosecutions?
– I understand that the data and techniques are adequate to protect Medibank against abuses. I understand also that this data and these techniques are being refined continuously in the light of experience. In view of this, the adequacy of the staff levels of the Health Insurance Commission’s claims review and investigation sections is under constant examination. In fact, steps were taken recently to augment the Commission’s claims review and investigation staff. Consideration is being given also to the addition of further professional medical assistance in this area of work.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs: Is it a fact that the original credentials given last March to Ambassador-designate Hill for presentation in Dublin were addressed to President Childers, who had been dead for more than a year? Were the credentials signed by the Queen?
-I do not know whether the credentials were delivered, presented or whatever. I shall attempt to find out for the honourable senator.
– I ask the Minister for Education: When will the Government issue to the Schools Commission and to the proposed PostSecondary Education Commission guidelines dealing with levels of Commonwealth financial assistance for education for the rolling triennium? What is the Government’s timetable for the establishment of the proposed PostSecondary Education Commission? Can the Minister assure the Senate that the Government’s guidelines will be made available to both the Schools Commission and the proposed PostSecondary Education Commission in sufficient time to enable those commissions properly to prepare their reports to the Government?
– Answering the second part of the question first, I hope that we will be able to introduce legislation for the new PostSecondary Education Commission into the Senate within a week, but certainly within a fortnight. I hope that within the space of the subsequent fortnight the legislation, after due discussion and deliberation, will be passed by both chambers and that certainly within the space of four to six weeks the new co-ordinating commission will be established. I should inform the honourable senator that at the moment an interim committee is functioning under the chairmanship of the Permanent Head of my Department, Mr Jones, and with the 3 chairmen of the commissions upon it. So, in answer to the second part of the question, the Post-Secondary Education Commission should be set up within the next 6 weeks at the latest.
As to the first part of the question, I hope that guidelines will be made available within the next month or 6 weeks or so. Discussions are taking place continuously between my Department, the commissions and me formulating ideas for guidelines. There is continuous dialogue between my Department, the commissions and me to ensure that we have a mutual understanding. We hope that when they are announced they will give adequate time for what will then be the councils to go about their work and to report and for the co-ordinating commission to study the reports. So, the Parliament, the Government and I will have before us in due course the reports of the councils and the particularities of what the councils have been saying, together with the overriding report of the commission for all purposes, including budgetary purposes.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Health. In the course of a television interview recently it was claimed that one person in ten in Australia takes and suffers from overdoses of pain killers, mainly aspirin and APC. In view of the range of the program, can the Minister advise whether one person in ten is a reliable estimate? If not, is a more reliable estimate available or is there any reliable way that such an estimate can be authenticated?
– I am not aware of what was said about overdoses on a television program. I shall refer the matter to the Minister for Health to see whether he agrees that it was a reliable estimate that was given or whether any further information is available.
-I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry a question. It is a 4-point question which, as he knows, emanates from the Friends of the Earth. It concerns the impending meeting of the International Whaling Commission. I seek to know, firstly, the deadline for agenda items; secondly, whether conservation observers can view the proceedings; thirdly, whether Australia will have a conservationist on its advisory panel; and, finally, whether we favour a moratorium on the killing of certain varieties of whales.
– The honourable senator has directed a series of questions to me. He told me of his concern about this matter. It arises from what I think is called Project Jonah. I think those who were associated with this matter in the days of the Senate Select Committee on Offshore Petroleum Resources will recall a meeting in Adelaide at which a witness said that all the Bass Strait oil was the product of whales coming up Bass Strait and dropping dead on the sea floor. Senator Keeffe, Senator O ‘Byrne and I found that difficult to accept as a general theory.
– He wrote a very good book.
-Yes, it was a terrific book. His daughter was a Miss Australia. Does the honourable senator remember?
– Yes, I do.
– This is not answering the question; it is just a discussion. The closing date is 21 April 1977. Moratoria on 4 species of whales already exist and at the forthcoming meeting management measures, including an application for further moratoria, will be considered for the 1978 season in the light of scientific advice on the different stocks and species throughout the world. So far it has not been demonstrated that there is a need to apply a moratorium on all whale stocks throughout the world. The existing rules of the International Whaling Commission do not allow observers to participate in meetings of the Scientific Committee, other than scientists from the Food and Agriculture Organisation and the United Nations Environment Protection Authority. I will take up this matter with the Minister for Environment, Housing and Community Development.
-I direct a question to the Acting Minister for the Northern Territory. The Minister has indicated that, following the request of the Majority Leader in the Northern Territory Legislative Assembly, an electoral review committee is to be set up prior to the Northern Territory elections later this year. Is the Minister in a position to advise the names of the persons who are to be appointed to the committee? When will the committee commence its review of the electoral boundaries?
-On assuming the duties of Acting Minister for the Northern Territory recently I announced that there would be a redistribution in the Territory and it was necessary to appoint a distribution committee. That is taking place this week. Yesterday the acceptance was received of Mr L. I. Noble of Sydney of the position of chairman of the committee. Until his recent retirement he occupied the position of Acting Australian Electoral Officer for New South Wales. He has had almost 30 years’ experience in the Electoral Office. The other gentlemen concerned are those who served on the previous Distribution Commission. They are Mr T. J. Wells, the Surveyor-General for the Northern Territory, and Mr E. Quong of Darwin. They will have the responsibility of drawing up boundaries for the 19 original Legislative Assembly electorates. Bearing in mind the time factor which is one matter that concerns me with the inevitability of an election in October of this year, I think it will be necessary for the Distribution Commissioners to work quite swiftly. My understanding is that they will meet within the next fortnight.
-Did the Minister for Industry and Commerce make representations to the Minister for Primary Industry to endeavour to prevent the eviction of 8 soldier settlers from their farms on Kangaroo Island, as promised in reply to a question I asked on 9 March? Is it as a result of the representations that the Prime Minister on 1 1 March wrote to Mr Peake of the Gosse Committee stating that he, the Prime Minister, ‘cannot agree that there is justification for further inquiry either by royal commission or otherwise’? Does this letter reject all appeals that may have been made by the Minister?
– My knowledge of this matter flows from the question that Senator Cavanagh asked me directing a query on it to the Minister for Primary Industry. Senator Cavanagh undertook, I think, to let me have the names of the people concerned. I do not know whether he did that because I did not see any such list of names, but they may have been given to my office and then passed on.
– I did.
-If he did, I am quite happy with that. I will take the matter up again. That is the least I can do, and I will.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Administrative Services. Will the Minister investigate the possibility of Tasmanian newspapers being delivered to Parliament House each morning rather than midafternoon, which is the case at the moment? I am sure that this must be possible as, if my Tasmanian colleagues and I leave Tasmania at 7 a.m., we can be delivered to Parliament House by 9.30 a.m.
– It sounds like fish and chips.
– While I appreciate that the Minister may not agree that this represents a gross inconvenience to Tasmanian senators and members, I ask him not to be influenced by this aspect but to do all in his power to assist us with this service.
-I think the matter resides in your jurisdiction, Mr President. I understand that the Presiding Officers supply newspapers to members and senators in Parliament House and that my Department supplies newspapers to parliamentarians’ electorate offices in the States. I think that there is a lot in what the honourable senator has said. As I understand the position, the West Australian leaves Perth by plane at approximately midnight. If the plane is running on time, copies of that newspaper should be here by 9.30 a.m.
– You do not read newspapers at all.
-But my staff do. They have a very keen interest in them. Copies of that newspaper should be in Canberra by 9.30 a.m. but often, I believe, they do not turn up until midday or 1 p.m. I imagine that the delay occurs somewhere in the airline service, perhaps in not moving them from the depot to Parliament House. This is a matter for the Presiding Officers.
I imagine that you, Mr President, will take the matter on board.
– Yes. I will investigate the matter.
– My question is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate in his capacity as Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs. I draw the attention of the Minister to a report appearing in the Brisbane Courier-Mail under a Bonn, Germany, dateline of 16 March 1977 to the effect that a West German court at Baden- -Wurttemberg after 2 years litigation had cancelled planning permission and imposed a permanent ban on the construction of a nuclear power station on the grounds of inadequate safety precautions and serious reservations about plans for evacuating the area in the event of a break-down. In view of the warning in the Fox report that adequate time should be given for debate on nuclear power, will the Minister obtain from our Embassy in Germany details of these court proceedings, which lasted over 2 years, and table them in the Senate so that honourable senators who have grave doubts about the safety aspects of nuclear power can study them prior to this country’s being involved in a similar situation?
-It is a reasonable request and I shall pass it on to my colleague.
– I direct my question to the Minister representing the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations. I draw the Minister’s attention to a letter which appeared in the Medical Journal of 5 February last at page 196, in which Dr J. F. Ryan, Medical Superintendent for John Lysaght (Aust.) Ltd, Hastings, Victoria, criticised the growing practice of patients with minor injuries being given certificates for 3 weeks at a time off work when in many instances they could be employed on selected lighter duties if the employer were given a chance, thus increasing the amount of compensation payable and resulting in higher premiums and ultimately higher costs of production. This statement by such a reputable medical practitioner dealing at the real grass roots of the problem surely must alarm the Minister, as it does myself and, I am sure, many Australian taxpayers who must in the end foot the bill for the millions of dollars made up by these excessive compensation payments and lost man-hours. I realise that much of the compensation law is vested in the individual States. However, I ask the Minister to fully investigate this matter within this Government’s area of responsibility and pass on to the States for their consideration any such recommendations to alleviate this drain on our finances.
– I have riot seen the article to which Senator Bonner refers but I agree that this is a matter of interest and concern not only to the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations but probably also to the Minister for Productivity whom I also represent in this chamber. I shall draw their attention to the article and to the points made by Senator Bonner and endeavour to obtain an early reply for him.
-My question, which is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, refers to 2 aspects of the Woomera Rocket Range. The first aspect concerns the possible result of an examination being conducted- I think it has been going on for the last 12 months- into the question of the rocket range being used by each of the armed Services for weapon trials, armoured vehicle trials and Air Force trials. The second aspect relates to a request made to the Minister some weeks ago for redundancy to be stayed in view of the present economic position. Will the Minister endeavour to have the results of those trials speeded up in order that there might be an activity at the range which will allow the present redundancy target to be stayed? Will he also ask the Minister for Defence to consider my previous question about delaying some of the redundancy decisions because about 300 people are expected to be affected?
-I well recall Senator Bishop’s question. The Senate well knows of his continuing and deep interest in this matter. I am sorry that he has not had an answer to his previous question. I shall chase that matter up and endeavour to get speedy answers to this and the other question.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Health. I understand that a higher rebate can be charged to Medibank if a patient consults a doctor after normal visiting hours. Does the Government lay down what constitutes normal visiting hours, and does the Government place limits on the excess rebate that can be charged? Is any penalty or restriction placed by Medibank on patients unnecessarily visiting doctors outside normal visiting hours?
– There are many requirements under the provisions for Medibank services. I shall refer the specific matters raised by the honourable senator to the Minister for a definite answer.
– My question is addressed to Senator Carrick in his capacity as Minister for Education or as Minister Assisting the Prime Minister in Federal Affairs. Has the Prime Minister written to all State Premiers foreshadowing increased financial responsibility for the States in education? If so, what proposals has the Prime Minister made and what reaction has been received from State Premiers?
– The fact that I tabled in the Senate last week the contents of the letter between the Prime Minister and the Premiers has escaped the honourable senator. I suggest that he read it. The invitation to the Premiers is for a full discussion on the whole of the co-operative effort in education in Australia. The honourable senator will know that I have also said in the Senate that the Prime Minister’s approach to the Premiers, as is pointed out in his letter, is based on 2 premises, namely, that the quantum of effort by the Commonwealth shall not diminish, so the answer to the honourable senator is that there will be no diminution in terms of the Commonwealth’s efforts and the education institutions, the new tertiary co-ordination commission and its councils and the Schools Commission as it exists today should also be taken into account in this framework. Therefore there will be cooperative effort in that regard. As to whether the States should increase their responsibilities, I point out that as they get an increasing amount of untied revenue- recurrent funds- and as their ability to raise and expand revenue widens, of course, it is competent upon the States, if they so desire, to expand their commitment to education. We would willingly encourage that action.
-Mr President, I have a supplementary question. I asked what reaction had been received to date from the Premiers. I wonder whether the Minister can give some information regarding that situation?
-I am sorry. That aspect escaped me. I read in the Press of favourable reaction from at least one State government. I have certainly not seen any unfavourable reaction. In any case, I foreshadowed this matter at the Australian Education Council. I indicated that there would be such an approach. My understanding from each of the 6 education Ministers -although it was not specifically said- was that the general reaction was that there would be a considerable willingness to have such discussions.
– In the absence of a Minister for Sport and Recreation in the Fraser Ministry I am probably obliged to ask this question -
– Such questions should be addressed to the Minister for Education.
– I am sorry. My little bit of fun back-fired. I ask the Leader of the Government in the Senate: Will the Minister agree that any attempt by Australia to bowl out the English XI prior to Her Majesty’s visit to the Melbourne Cricket Ground this afternoon could only be seen as a republican plot and that to allow them to stay in will indicate that the monarchial viewpoint still reigns strong among Australian sportsmen and their followers?
-I think the honourable senator has answered his own question.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs whether it is true that 6 sea-going vessels are being given as aid to Indonesia by the Australian Government? In view of the events in East Timor and the Indonesian Government’s audacious attitude to Australia’s ambassador in Indonesia, will the Minister reconsider the decision to provide these vessels and any other form of aid to that country, at least until there is a recognition of basic human rights towards the Timorese by Indonesia?
-I shall pass that question on to my colleague the Minister for Foreign Affairs.
– I address my question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Can the Minister say whether the Government is in receipt of any information from President Carter as to the likely effect his decision to neutralise the Indian Ocean will have on the United States base at Exmouth in Western Australia?
-I cannot say.
– My question which is also directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs arises out of the answer to the question asked by Senator McLaren. Is the Minister aware that the Government’s position on the current situation with respect to super power naval presence in the Indian Ocean is currently at variance with the attitudes of both the United States and Britain? In view of this, is the Government prepared to review its attitude to the Indian Ocean situation with a view to bringing it into line with recent developments?
-The honourable senator has made a few allegations which have no substance. I direct his attention to the statement which I made on behalf of the Foreign Minister at 8 o ‘clock last Tuesday night.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Administrative Services. I know that he does not read newspapers; but, as some of us do take note of speculation in newspapers, I ask him to answer my concern about speculation that 4 seats are to be abolished in the coming redistribution- two of those 4 seats being National Country Party seats and the other two being Australian Labor Party seats. How can such speculation arise? What are the guidelines which the distribution commissioners will follow in reducing the number of seats and what guidelines will they follow in giving Queensland the expected extra seat? Which State will be the loser in the process?
-The guidelines under which the distribution commissioners will work are set out in section 19 of the Electoral Act which, as honourable senators will recall, was under close scrutiny and discussion here before the Parliament was prorogued in February. The honourable senator will recall that a 5000 square kilometre parameter was put into the criteria. They and they alone are the criteria upon which the distribution commissioners will work. Suggestions that the seats to be abolished belong to one party or another are sheer and absolute speculation and guesswork. I do not know how many seats can be termed Liberal, National Country Party or Australian Labor Party seats, because members in the other place have a habit of winning and losing seats. There are some seats which may be classified as blue ribbon seats and as to each of those seats one may say that one party has a mortgage on it. However, we have seen upset results in some of those so-called blue ribbon seats. I recall that the seat of Batman was won by an Independent in 1966 or 1969, when it was called a blue ribbon Labor seat. I do not think any politician or journalist ought to speculate on which party owns a certain seat. As to which States will gain or lose seats, that is a purely statistical exercise which will be undertaken in accordance with the Representation Act which was amended recently by a Bill that was before the Parliament to make it conform with the decision of the High Court in McKellar’s case. The best statistical information which I have is that Victoria will lose one seat and New South Wales will lose 2 seats; that it is more than odds on that Queensland will gain one seat; and that the House of Representatives will comprise 121 members from the 6 States, one member from the Northern Territory and 2 members from the Australian Capital Territory. That is the best information I have at the moment.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs? Is he aware that the Prices Justification Tribunal currently is inquiring into the prices of motor vehicle spare parts and has called to give evidence before it the 2 Japanese manufacturers but not the 3 Australian manufacturers? Does the Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs agree that only two of the manufacturers should be called to give evidence, not all 5 manufacturers?
– I am aware of the inquiry to which Senator Wriedt refers. However, he seeks a specific answer from the Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs as to the reasons for certain actions. I will pass this question on to the Minister and seek an early answer from him.
– I again direct a question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate in his capacity as Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs. I state, firstly, that the Campaign Against Racial Exploitation- as part of the no ties with apartheid campaign- has sought the opportunity to meet the Minister for Foreign Affairs and the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence to put its point of view. Will this meeting be granted? In terms of the statement made by the Minister for Foreign Affairs in the House of Representatives on Tuesday in respect to South Africa, could the Minister indicate what concrete action he is proposing to take? Specifically, is the Minister proposing to withdraw the remaining Trade Commission in South Africa? Is the Minister prepared to review the question of South African Airways flying to Australia? Is the Minister proposing to take any action in respect of Australian companies operating in South Africa? Will the Minister be issuing a statement on 2 1 March, United Nations day, against racial discrimination? Lastly, is the Minister aware of what material is circulated by the South African Embassy to Australian schools? If not, will he take steps to find out?
-I will attempt to find out the answer to the last question. It is only matter of statistical information. I state in regard to the first question that I do not make the appointments for my colleague, the Minister for Foreign Affairs. In regard to all the other questions in the middle, they are matters of Government policy which shall be announced as the Government makes its determinations.
– My question, which is directed to the Minister for Industry and Commerce, follows the question that I asked Senator Durack, who represents the Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs in this place. Does he agree that all manufacturers of motor vehicles and motor vehicle parts in Australia should be called before the Prices Justification Tribunal in its current hearing?
– I am not the Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs, nor do I represent him in the Senate. But I have an interest in the cost involved for the Australian motor vehicle industry to make and sell, of which the honourable senator would be very well aware. I will have to seek information as to why it is that the whole range of manufacturing industry in the component parts area is not being looked at. I understand that the Nissan, Datsun and Toyota companies will be producing evidence. It seems to me that this is a fair question to ask and one to which I will have to provide an answer.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Science and refer to the solar heating installation at the premises of Coca-Cola Bottlers at Queanbeyan which will result in a considerable saving of oil. Can the Minister give details of the involvement of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation in this project? Does CSIRO have plans to encourage the installation of such plants in other industrial establishments throughout Australia?
- Mr President, I rise to order. I asked the Minister for Science a question on this subject a week ago and I have not received a reply to it. If a reply is now available to me, I think that this question is quite out of order.
– The question asked by Senator Keeffe was not worded identically to the one which has been asked by Senator Jessop. I call the Minister for Science.
– In answering Senator Jessop ‘s question I certainly would not be interfering with the question asked by Senator Keeffe, the general wording of which my Department is still attempting to work out. I am aware that today 2 Standing Committees of the Senate paid a visit to Queanbeyan, New South Wales, to view the work done on solar energy by the CocaCola Bottlers and by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation. Those 2 Standing Committees are the Senate Standing Committee on Science and the Environment and the Senate Standing Committee on National Resources of which Senator Thomas and Senator Jessop are the chairmen. There is a growing importance in the use of solar energy much to the advantage of the community. I think that credit is due not only to organisations such as CSIRO but also to universities throughout Australia and to private companies and individuals who are interested in taking advantage of what is becoming a most important area of energy research. As Senator Jessop has mentioned, this company, in co-operation with the CSIRO, has taken advantage of recent technology whereby the higher water temperatures that are required for certain of its industrial work can be achieved by an investment in solar enegy. The company and the CSIRO have contributed to the technology and to the capital that is required.
The honourable senator asks whether the CSIRO has in mind that it should be involved in other work of this nature. It certainly is involved in such work. As people know, a number of swimming pools are currently taking advantage of the technique of using solar energy for heating. I do not know that this form of heating is completely economic because the capital installation cost is quite significant. The use of solar energy for the heating and cooling of houses, stills for desalination, heating for timber drying in kilns and air heaters for industry is being pursued quite vigorously at present. The Division of Mechanical Engineering of the CSIRO, particularly its solar energy studies unit, is anxious to assist any industry which wishes to use the technology which the Government and the people of Australia have provided for industry.
-My question, which is addressed to the Minister for Administrative Services, follows the question asked by Senator George. I ask: Has the recheck of the census figures now been completed, and has it been ascertained by the Australian Bureau of Statistics that the preliminary figures that were announced were under-counted by 367 000, or 2.9 per cent? Have the latest figures now been supplied to the Chief Australian Electoral Officer? Is the Chief Australian Electoral Officer now in a position to proceed with determining the number of seats each State is entitled to have in the House of Representatives in accordance with the terms of the Representation Act thus enabling the administrative arrangements for the redistribution to be commenced forthwith?
– I understand the figures are in. The Chief Australian Electoral Officer anticipates making a determination before the end of next week.
– I direct my question to the Minister for Science. I refer to reports that the Canberra regional office of the Bureau of Meteorology might be reduced in size or even closed. Can the Minister give an undertaking that there will be no curtailment of this important information service to the community concerning weather conditions and that the Bureau will continue to operate a regional office in Canberra?
-The honourable senator asks about support for the Australian Capital Territory regional office of the Bureau of Meteorology. This matter has received some publicity in the last few days. During the past 12 months all areas of the Department of Science and all other interests which come under the Science portfolio have been vigorously examined to see where economies can be made. The Bureau of Meteorology has been no exception. The Director of the Bureau has attempted in all instances to fit in with the requirements of the Government. Some millions of dollars have been saved by various actions that have been taken to gain economies within the Bureau. The Secretary of the Department of Science has had discussions on this matter. Of course one of the options available is to investigate how the functions of the Bureau may be made more economic and how some of the $35m which this service costs the community may be pared in some way. The matter of there being a regional office in Canberra is something that initiates discussion as to why there should be regional offices in every State as well as in the Australian Capital Territory. Indeed, I believe that evidence was put to the committee which recently inquired into the Bureau as to whether or not there should be a reallocation of headquarters for various regional offices. I am unable to give the honourable senator an undertaking that the Bureau will maintain a regional office in Canberra. It seems quite reasonable that it should, as Canberra is the capital of Australia. On the other hand, it is obvious that the New South Wales regional office can cover cities with a population much larger than that of Canberra and can do so quite adequately. For instance, there is no demand that cities which are as far away from Sydney as Canberra and with a greater population should have their own regional offices. Of course, it is a matter for discussion in the context of the economies I have noted.
-I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry: In view of Mr Sinclair’s statement issued last Tuesday that ‘it was important for wool growers to be confident of the determined backing of the minimum price as they continued to face ever increasing cost burdens’, should we assume that it is Government policy to determine the minimum price by production cost movements and not by market demand? If not, why did the Minister mislead wool growers by implying that the Government would support a so-called cost of production floor price?
– We should never assume anything in this uncertain world. A day is a long time in politics.
– Is the Minister for Administrative Services aware that Commonwealth cars operating out of State capital cities have no tool kits? Will the Minister ensure that in future any Commonwealth car which is given a job that takes it out of the precincts of a metropolitan area will be provided with sufficient tools to enable the driver to make any necessary running repairs so that people travelling in the car will not be inconvenienced by being late for aircraft or trains which they have to catch?
-I hate to create demarcation disputes.
– He could change a tyre.
– You have to be careful these days.
– I would get out and change it.
-Would you? You scab! I say that in a jocular sense. Senator Georges could use his own spare, not mine. I became aware that cars in Western Australia did not have tool kits and I was rather horrified to find it out. I know that they have been carrying them for the last 6 months or so. There is a special box of tools and if a driver is leaving the metropolitan area he picks it up and puts it in his boot and returns it when he comes back, I do not know what the situation is in the other States. I believe that it ought to be done, and if it is not done I will see that it is.
– I refer to the question about which I argued a moment ago and now ask a further question of the Minister for Science. I preface the question by drawing his attention to a comment in the local newspaper, the Canberra Times, on 2 March 1977 that a plan to demonstrate the feasibility of solar power for domestic heating purposes in Canberra may fall through because of lack of finance. Is the Minister aware that the finance needed amounts to only $25,000, as most other costs are being met from other sources? Will the Minister undertake to review this project immediately with a view to providing the required $25,000 should the project be feasible? I also ask the Minister to state his personal attitude to this project, in view of his reply to a similar question earlier today.
– I do not know whether I should say that I had better take the question on notice so that I can read it and study the core of the honourable senator’s request. My understanding of this question is that he was referring to a news item which stated that the Australian National University proposes to build a house, the capital cost of which I do not know. It was seeking an extra $25,000 from some area of government so that it could fully install a solar energy system in that house. My understanding is that that request was not made dependent upon construction of the house going ahead. I think the house is being built. Again, I think it is being built with the assistance of private industry in Canberra. If the honourable senator is asking whether I support the allocation of a further $25,000 to the Australian National University, I can only say that I dearly wish that the Government could provide an extra $25,000 for any worthy project which involves an advance in the techniques of solar energy. I understand that the Government has provided some funds for this project and has requested the University to provide funds to endorse its work. Private industry is providing some funds also.
The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation is involved in many projects, as I just indicated in answer to a question concerning an industry in New South Wales which was raised by an honourable senator. The CSIRO provides financial assistance and manpower for many projects which advance the use of solar energy in Australia. I am quite sure that its decisions relating to the allocation of funds are correct.
– I wish to ask a supplementary question, Mr President. May I assume from what the Minister for Science said that he has recommended to the Government that the $25,000 be provided for this project?
– The honourable senator would be quite incorrect in assuming anything of that nature.
-Honourable senators may recall that yesterday Senator Colston asked me a question concerning an article which appeared in the Courier-Mail on 22 February 1977. It concerned Mr Donald Cameron, the honourable member for Griffith in the other place, obtaining certain information from the Commissioner of Police. I apologise to Senator Colston; I gave him a wrong answer. I thought the information had been supplied as a result of a question which Mr Donald Cameron had asked. On investigation I discover that on 21 February of this year Mr Donald Cameron telegraphed direct to the Commissioner of Police asking whether he would make certain statistical information available. On 22 February the Commissioner replied in the following terms:
I refer to your telegram which requested certain statistics concerning Commonwealth benefit checks by this morning. The information you sought is being collated and will be channelled to you through my Minister, Senator Withers.
So the Commissioner made the decision that he was prepared to make the statistical information available. Evidently I wrote to Mr Donald Cameron with that statistical information on 22 February. On 23 February Mr Donald Cameron asked for further statistical information and that too was provided. I regret that I said that the information was provided in response to a question; it was not. Mr Donald Cameron went directly to the Commissioner of Police, who is basically an independent statutory officer. It was his decision and his decision alone to make that statistical information available.
– For the information of honourable senators I lay on the table a paper entitled Immigration Policies and Australia’s Population’. Mr President, I seek leave to move a motion.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– I move:
I have a statement which accompanies the Green Paper. It is lengthy and I seek leave of the Senate to have in incorporated in Hansard.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
The document read as follows-
This is the first Green Paper dealing with Immigration policies and Australia’s population ever to be tabled in this Parliament. A Green Paper is of course a discussion paper. It does not include recommendations for, or a forecast of, government policy. Nevertheless the document I have just tabled has the potential to influence greatly the Australia in which subsequent generations of Australians will live. The character, strength and prosperity of a nation are the result not only of the activities and policies of the people and the Government of the day but also of the decisions and actions taken in previous years and, indeed, in past generations. The Australia of 1977 is very much the result of the decisions taken by its leaders in years gone by. These decisions were themselves the reflection of the wishes and needs of the people of Australia in the past.
Australia today, despite our present economic difficulties, is the envy of many other countries. We possess a degree of economic prosperity which places us among the top few nations of the world. We have guaranteed political and civil liberties. We have an environment and a lifestyle attractive to many people from other countries. To some extent, these benefits derive from our vast range of natural resources. In large part, however, Australia is what it is because of decisions made in the past about the way in which our population should develop.
One of the most influential of these was taken in the immediate post-war period. This was to embark upon a major program of population building. This decision has resulted in the arrival of over 3.3 million new settlers who, together with their children born in Australia, have been responsible for about half of Australia’s postwar growth from 7.4 million to 13.9 million people today.
Few people would dispute that the policy boldly embarked upon 30 years ago has been a notable success. To that policy we can attribute many of the advantages that we enjoy now and will continue to enjoy in the last quarter of this century and beyond. I believe that the success of this program is attributable largely to 2 factors. First, the policy was an active one. Australia clearly enunciated its goal to achieve through immigration an annual population growth of 1 per cent to supplement natural increase which was also expected to be about 1 per cent. Having established the goal, it set out to achieve it through a vigorously promoted, but selective, immigration program.
Second, the policy was one of consensus. With very few exceptions, politicians on both sides of the Parliament and members of the general public supported Australia’s population building program. Through this consensus, Australia’s goals were not frustrated by disputation and division within the country. Rather, the Australian population as a whole worked in a co-ordinated and mutually supportive way to bring about, as successfully as possible, the growth targets which had been adopted.
This is not to say that Australia’s immigration programs during the past 3 decades have not been accompanied by problems. All major developments involving people inevitably include human problems. Successive governments have sought to identify these and to develop solutions wherever possible. In general, I believe it is fair to say that the preventive and remedial action taken over the past three decades has done much to reduce the incidence and severity of such difficulties. Much more, however, remains to be done. Recent initiatives of this Government include the establishment of experimental migrant resource centres in Sydney and Melbourne, the establishment of the Australian Ethnic Affairs Council, the development of administrative machinery to develop and apply proper professional standards of interpreting and translating and the establishment of a permanent ethnic broadcasting service. These and many other initiatives have made a substantial further contribution to easing the inevitable difficulties of adjustment to a new environment, a new culture and, for many, a new language.
Over the past few years there have been drastic changes in Australia ‘s population growth rate. The birth rate in Australia has fallen steeply and we have now virtually reached the point at which the net reproduction rate is unity. Unless there is an increase in the birth rate, we will be approaching a situation where the numbers of births and deaths will be equal and, in the absence of an immigration gain, Australia will experience zero population growth. Indeed, the experience of several developed nations suggests that Australia could even be facing further falls in its birth rate and a future loss of population in the absence of immigration. Over recent years, we have also seen a rapid rundown in the rate of population growth through immigration. In the calendar year 1975, Australia actually sustained a net loss of over 8000 on total movements into and out of this country. In the financial year 1975-76 Australia gained fewer than 21 000 persons on total movements into and out of the country. This represents a growth rate for the financial year of less than 0.15 per cent through immigration.
In considering the immigration options open to Australia, we must bear in mind that Australians themselves are a mobile people. Australians in substantial numbers have traditionally sought new challenges overseas. As the Green Paper points out, in the past 10 years Australia lost a total of over 330 000 persons quite apart from the losses of former migrants who left Australia to take up permanent residence overseas. A substantial proportion of the departing Australians possesses valuable technical and professional skills. If we are to avoid regular losses of such needed skills, it is imperative that Australia should maintain some level of immigration which is selective in regard to occupational skills. For humanitarian reasons Australia has supported the reunion of immediate family members. Even in the present difficult economic circumstances, Australia has maintained a family reunion policy which provides for the entry, with a minimum of formalities, of nominated dependent immediate family members and parents. This component of our immigration program would also appear indispensable unless its underlying humanitarian objectives are to be jettisoned. Australia’s record in providing a place of refuge to those who are displaced by war, natural catastrophe or civil disruption, has been a notable one. This Government’s action in the last year in providing refuge for substantial numbers of Indo-Chinese, Lebanese and Timorese people is a continuation of this long term policy. This element also, I believe, should be a necessary part of any immigration policy and I hope to announce soon the policy guidelines within which Australia’s future responses to such situations will be made. Within these parameters, however, the options open to us are wide ranging.
As the Green Paper indicates, the resource constraints upon our options are virtually nonexistent in the foreseeable future. Australia’s natural resources are truly superabundant. Even water supplies which, in the past, have been thought of as a constraining factor, can be increased many-fold, given the necessary planning and capital works. Population distribution is also significant in this context. How then should we proceed with the fundamental review of policy which is envisaged? As the Green Paper indicates, issues underlying immigration cover a diverse range of topics. It is possible, for example, to reach a particular view on the basis of the social implications and an entirely different one when considering the economic, strategic, international relations or humanitarian factors. Ultimately, however, if an integrated, comprehensively-based policy is to be enunciated to serve the national interest as fully as possible, it is imperative that the various pros and cons be weighed up and, as far as possible, reconciled. Similarly, we cannot responsibly formulate a policy which serves the present but not the future, and vice versa- the best policy is one which optimally serves both today and the future.
In terms of an annual immigration program, the Green Paper suggests that feasible limits might be net gain in the range of zero to 100 000 persons per year. Taking into account losses through departures of former settlers and of Australians, this would represent gross annual migrant intakes in the range of 30 000 to 200 000. In the view of the Council, Australia has the capacity to absorb an annual net migration gain of at least 50 000 per year, approximately equivalent to 100 000 settler arrivals annually. Within such an intake there would be a need for adjustment to take into account changing circumstances in Australia. We should not concentrate all attention on the size of the intake alone. We must be careful to avoid this trap. The size of the annual intake is of course only one consideration. Of equal importance are issues such as the criteria upon which the intake is chosen, the distribution of migrants throughout Australia, their qualifications and other characteristics as well as the countries from which they are drawn. I need hardly point out that the task of drawing a clear, rational, equitable and humane policy from such a complexity of competing and overlapping considerations is a daunting one.
High tribute is due to the Australian Population and Immigration Council which has prepared this Green Paper. It did so in a minimum of time, with great objectivity, technical competence and good sense. The Council consists of a distinguished group of people with a wide range of expertise. It includes members working in the academic fields of demography, economics, sociology, medicine, urban and environmental studies and foreign policy. Its membership also includes prominent industrialists, members of the legal profession, trade union leaders and members of various community organisations. The result has been a discussion paper which reflects the diversity of backgrounds and perspectives of its membership. I should like to pay particular tribute to the part played by the late J. F. Rich who died 2 days after the Green Paper was adopted by the Australian Population and Immigration Council. Mr Rich was chairman of the Migration Planning Committee of APIC which undertook the major part of the work of drafting the Green Paper. The main purposes of the Green Paper are to stimulate within the Australian community interest in and debate on the broad options which might be considered. It provides basic information succinctly. It avoids prejudging issues or expressing firm conclusions about the various options. Instead, it concentrates on distilling the issues and presenting them in such a way as to make them intelligible to the widest possible audience. For this reason it is short, in one volume, and avoids technical jargon and complex statistics wherever possible.
I hope that the Green Paper will be read by a wide audience and that, as a result of its being read widely, there will be a better informed public opinion on the questions it raises. I urge members of the Australian community to think about these issues and to express their views on them. The submissions received during the preparation of the Green Paper point to the interest in the community on the issues. On the basis of this public debate, it will be possible for the Government to review current policies and programs to ensure that they take fully into account our immediate needs and those of the future and that they are consistent with contemporary community values and aspirations. We acknowledge present problems. But these must not cloud or distort our vision of the future of Australia and its people. This Green Paper gives us the opportunity to recognise with confidence that Australia has an unlimited future. We must not bury our heads in the present.
The nation we have in the future will depend heavily on our action- or inaction- today. I believe that we have a duty to ensure the decisions of our generation are directed to the sort of nation continent we would wish future generations of Australians to live in. It is now 30 years since the great post-war immigration program was begun. What a different country Australia now is. That immigration program was introduced by a consensus of people of vision, people confident about the future of Australia, a growing Australia. We have the choice now to make decisions about the future of our land and our people 30 years and more ahead. I encourage Members of this Parliament and individuals and organisations throughout the Australian community to give serious thought to the issues raised in the Green Paper and to participate fully in the public discussion of them.
Debate (on motion by Senator Mulvihill) adjourned.
– For the information of honourable senators I present the report of the Australian Delegation to the Fifth United Nations Congress on the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders held in Geneva from 1 to 12 September 1975. 1 have a statement relating to that report which is being made in another place by the Attorney-General (Mr Ellicott). I seek leave to have that statement incorporated in Hansard unless anybody is particularly anxious that I should read it.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
The document read as follows-
This statement concerns the Fifth United Nations Congress on the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders, which was held in Geneva from 1 to 12 September 1975, and the Sixth Congress which will be hosted by Australia in the Sydney Opera House from 25 August to 5 September 1980. The United Nations Congresses on the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders are held every five years. The Congresses are important conferences, the agenda for which is settled by the General Assembly of the United Nations. Each Congress is preceded by Regional Preparatory Meetings and conferences of experts. Since the first Congress in 1955, successive congresses have made an intensive examination of the problem of crime in modern society and have explored a number of imaginative and practical measures to meet this problem, covering such diverse areas as the integration of crime prevention planning with planning in urban development and education, new forms and dimensions of crime, the economic and social costs of crime, alternatives to imprisonment, the human rights of prisoners and the organisation of research to assist in the formulation of policy to deal with crime. Recommendations of the congresses are placed before the United Nations General Assembly and are generally adopted.
The Australian delegation to the Fifth United Nations Congress was led by the then AttorneyGeneral of the Commonwealth of Australia, Mr Kep. Enderby, Q.C., M.P. The delegation included a number of State Ministers, judges and senior officials. I draw attention to the recommendations contained on pages 1 78 to 1 80 of the Report of the Australian Delegation to the Fifth Congress, which I have just tabled. The recommendations cover a broad spectrum of issues relating to the content of the criminal law, corporate and white-collar crime, extradition, criminal procedure and evidence, the police, sentencing laws, crime prevention, the administration of justice, and other matters. Among more important results of the Congress was the drafting of a Declaration on Torture which was subsequently adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations. The Australian delegation made an active contribution to the work of the Congress on this matter.
The Sixth Congress will be an important event for Australia. It will, I think, be the largest United Nations meeting to have been held in this country. The Congress will bring from 1500 to 2000 visitors to Australia, including Ministers, judges, academics and other leading figures in the fields of law, criminology, police, corrections, social welfare, mental health, sociology, education and related areas and disciplines. The heads of the delegations represented at the Congress are likely to be Ministers of State, judges, departmental heads or other leading figures. Meetings convened by international organisations in related fields will also be held before, during or after the Congress. Internationally, Australia will benefit greatly from the prestige of hosting a United Nations Conference of this size and importance. An Australian Consultative Committee has been established with respect to the Congress, consisting of officials nominated by the Commonwealth and State Governments and includes officers of the Department of Foreign Affairs, the Attorney-General’s Department and the Australian Institute of Criminology. The members of the Criminology Research Council, who are senior officials working in the field and who have operated successfully on a Commonwealth-State co-operative basis, form the nucleus of the Committee. The arrangements that have been entered into with the States for the preparations for the Congress have attracted considerable support, assistance and co-operation, especially from New South Wales. As I have already said, the Congress is to be held in the Sydney Opera House which has been made available by the New South Wales Government. The New South Wales Government will continue to be closely involved in the arrangements for the Congress.
The Congress will focus world attention on Australian criminal justice laws and practices and consideration will need to be given to action that might be required to up-date these laws and practices and to bring Australian programs and achievements in this field to the attention of Congress participants. A comprehensive program has been initiated to seek the active involvement of relevant Commonwealth and State Ministers and Departments in these processes. Australia’s approach to the development of the substantive issues that will be before the Congress is that an emphasis should be placed on the exposing of practical issues in relation to crime prevention and control and to the devising of practical solutions upon which resolutions could be adopted at the Congress. This approach has been accepted by the United Nations Committee on Crime Prevention and Control.
The Congress will deal with issues of increasing importance to all countries. The economic and social development that has occurred in modern communities has been associated with substantial increases in the incidence of crime and with changes in the forms and dimensions of criminality on the national and international levels. In many countries, including Australia, crime has very substantial economic and social costs which involve a drain on national economies of proportions not generally appreciated by governments or by communities. I hope that all senators will give their support to the Sixth Congress. Australia, as host country for the Sixth Congress, will be able not only to offer friendship and hospitality to the Congress participants, but also to make a substantial international contribution to the development of more effective measures for crime prevention and control and the treatment of offenders.
-by leave- I move:
I seek leave to make my remarks at a later stage.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
-I present the tenth report of the Publications Committee.
Report- by leave- adopted.
– by leave- For the information of honourable senators, I present details of the establishment of the National Aboriginal Education Committee. It is now almost 10 years since the 1967 referendum widened the Commonwealth Government’s responsibility for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islands people. This period has seen the growth of more interest and activity in Aboriginal education than ever before, with Commonwealth funds developing programs and helping education authorities throughout the country to make special efforts for Aboriginal people at all levels of education. In all these activities there has been some consultation and involvement of Aboriginal people. In 1974 the Schools Commission appointed an Aboriginal Consultative Group to assist it in obtaining representative views from Aboriginal groups and communities. Later, in October 1975, my Department, the Department of Aboriginal Affairs and the Schools Commission agreed that a permanent advisory group should be set up. Consultations between them and with the Aboriginal Consultative Group, led to a proposal for the establishment of a National Aboriginal Education Committee, with a wholly Aboriginal membership. The Government has accepted that proposal.
The Committee will be responsible for providing my Department and me with informed Aboriginal views on the educational needs of Aboriginal people and appropriate methods of meeting these needs. Its advice will be available also to the Minister and Department of Aboriginal Affairs and other authorities concerned with education of Aboriginal people. It will assist the Department of Education and other agencies in monitoring existing programs and in developing programs and policies and will be able to undertake and promote investigations, studies and projects on which to base its advice. This Committee will be attached to and serviced by my Department. The establishment of the Committee places significant responsibilities in the hands of Aboriginal people. I trust it will contribute to policy initiatives which will serve to redress the educational imbalance which Aboriginal people experience and which will recognise the culturally plural nature of Australian society. I hope these initiatives will foster education programs and activities which will assist Aboriginal people to live satisfying lives, sharing in and contributing to the total Australian society. The Committee is headed by a full-time Chairman, with 18 part-time members who will provide a range of expertise in this area of education and an invaluable understanding of Aboriginal needs and problems.
I have appointed Mr Stephen Albert, a tribal member of the Bardi people of Western Australia, as the Chairman of the Committee for a period of 3 years. He is a highly educated and cultivated person in Aboriginal society, and is qualified to hold a position for which a deep appreciation of the needs of Aboriginal people is essential. Mr Albert has lectured to school students and trainee teachers. He has been a member of the Regional Council for Social Development in Alice Springs and was a member of the Aboriginal Legal Rights Movement in Adelaide. He is a qualified tradesman and is currently undertaking studies at a college of advanced education. His experience of traditional Aboriginal education and contemporary Australian education will be of great benefit to the Committee. Other members of the Committee will normally be appointed for part-time terms of 2 years. Half of the initial members are being appointed for one year, and half for 2 years. This is being done so as to allow for progressive changes in membership while ensuring a degree of continuity in the Committee’s work. All members will be able to seek re-appointment at the end of their initial term. Names of members I have appointed and the durations of their appointments are given in a list which I seek leave to have incorporated in Hansard.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
The document read as follows-
The part-time members and their terms of appointment are:-
NEW SOUTH WALES
Mr K. J. Gilbert, Community Organiser, Department of Aboriginal Affairs (2 years).
Ms B. J. Kennedy, Teacher Aide, Department of Education ( 1 year).
Mr C. J. Bourke, Director, Centre for Research into Aboriginal Affairs, Monash University (2 years).
Mr L. M. Malone, Classroom Assistant, St Michael’s School, Palm Island (2 years).
Mr J. Hamilton, visitor to Schools, Department of Education ( 1 year).
Mr P. Hughes, Executive Officer, Department of Aboriginal Affairs (2 years).
Mrs I. Norvill, Community Development Worker, Department of Community Welfare ( 1 year).
Mrs M. L. O’Brien, Primary School Teacher, Education
Department (2 years).
Mr L. A. Tucker, Liaison Officer, Education Department ( 1 year).
Mrs P. E. Cameron, Community Worker, Flinders Island (2 years).
Mr K. Rogers, Wandarang Tribesman, Teaching Assistant, Department of Education (2 years).
Mr D. White, Malluk Malluk Tribesman, Teaching Assistant, Department of Education ( 1 year).
TORRES STRAIT ISLANDS
Mr G. Passi, Tertiary Student, University of Queensland (2 years).
OTHER MEMBERS REPRESENTING SPECIALIST EDUCATION AREAS
Miss V. J. Farrell, Tutor, W.A. Pre-School Board ( 1 year).
Mr J. R. Budby, Advisory Teacher, Queensland Department of Education ( 1 year).
Mr P. E. Stewart, Education Adviser (Outstations), Department of Education, N.T. ( 1 year).
Mrs N. D. McNamara, Lecturer, Flinders Street College of Further Education, S.A. ( 1 year).
Ms M. Valadian, Consultant Social Worker (2 years).
-I thank the Senate. The proposed members have been carefully selected to form a team balanced as far as possible in terms of factors including geographical location, educational specialisation, and variety of community experience. A large number of people nominated for the Committee and it would be my strong hope that those who did not achieve selection this time would re-nominate in future. That so many well-qualified people have shown their interest augurs well for the success of the Committee. I move:
-Mr President, I understand that the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Withers) has agreed to bring this paper on for discussion a week today. In those circumstances, I do not propose to make any comment on it now. The Opposition will appreciate the opportunity for debate and it will discuss at some depth the contents of the paper. I ask for leave to continue my remarks.
– I understand that that is the arrangement that has been made. On that basis, leave is granted.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Motion (by Senator Jessop) agreed to:
That Order of the Day, General Business, on the Notice Paper for 25 February 1977 relating to the motion to take note of the report of the Standing Committee on Science and the Environment entitled ‘Review of the Report of the Senate Select Committee on Air Pollution’ be restored to the Notice Paper and be an order of the day for the next day of sitting.
-Mr President, on behalf of the Leader of the Opposition, Senator Wriedt, I move:
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Proposed Select Committee on Events in East Timor
Motion (by Senator Douglas McClelland) agreed to:
That after 8 p.m. this evening, contingent on the adoption of the Address-in-Reply, General Business Notices of Motion Nos 1 to 5 be postponed until after the consideration of Notice of Motion No. 6 for the appointment of a select committee on matters relating to events in East Timor.
– I report to the Senate that I have received a letter from the Leader of the Government in the Senate nominating senators to be members of legislative and general purpose standing committees as follows: Constitutional and Legal Affairs- Senator Missen, Senator Chaney and Senator Rae; Education and the Arts- Senator Davidson, Senator Collard and Senator Martin; Foreign Affairs and DefenceSenator Sim, Senator Knight and Senator Scott; National Resources- Senator Thomas, Senator Maunsell and Senator Townley; Science and the Environment- Senator Jessop, Senator Bonner and Senator Townley; Social Welfare- Senator Baume, Senator Tehan and Senator Walters;
Motion (by Senator Withers)- by leaveagreed to:
That the following Legislative and General Purpose Standing Committees be appointed and that the Senators indicated, having been duly nominated in accordance with Standing Order 36AA, be members of the Committees:
Constitutional and Legal Affairs Committee: Senator Missen, Senator Chaney and Senator Rae.
Education and the Arts Committee: Senator Davidson, Senator Collard and Senator Martin.
Foreign Affairs and Defence Committee: Senator Sim, Senator Knight and Senator Scott.
National Resources Committee: Senator Thomas, Senator Maunsell and Senator Townley.
Science and the Environment Committee: Senator Jessop, Senator Bonner and Senator Townley.
Social Welfare Committee: Senator Baume, Senator Tehan and Senator Walters.
Trade and Commerce Committee: Senator Sheil, Senator Archer and Senator Lajovic.
Debate resumed from 16 March, on motion by Senator Lewis:
That the following Address-in-Reply to the speech of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second be agreed to:
To Her Most Excellent Majesty Elizabeth the SecondMost Gracious Sovereign:
We, Your Majesty’s loyal subjects, the members of the Senate of the Commonwealth of Australia, in Parliament assembled, desire to thank Your Majesty for the Gracious Speech which you have been pleased to address to Parliament.
The presence in Australia of Your Majesty and of His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh has once again brought the greatest pleasure to your Australian people. We, their representatives in the Senate, are grateful for the opportunity to re-affirm our allegiance to you as our Queen.
-The first matter with which I wish to deal this afternoon is one of vital importance not only to the people of Canberra but to the whole of Australia. In addressing myself to this motion I feel it incumbent upon me to deal with the attempt being made by abortion profiteers to establish free standing abortion clinics in the Australian Capital Territory contrary to the expressed opinion of the members of the House of Representatives in a vote taken on the subject and contrary to the opinion expressed by residents of the A.C.T. in a referendum on the subject. The abortion question is a highly emotive one but it is a fundamental one. Unless it is decided on the question of the right to life this country will suffer the consequences. How many of us have tried to comfort and support a loved one mentally tortured and torn by the desire to be rid of the burden or shame caused by a wanted or unwanted intercourse? We have sat for many hours, inwardly confused, our souls wracked with anguish at the sight of such suffering. We have seen how that burden shared has become lighter, then tolerable, then acceptable and finally welcome. The thought goes through a person in such agony that ‘though all men should desert you my faith will not grow less, so keep that single virtue of simple thankfulness’.
We know how much a woman in such circumstances needs understanding and support. We also know, after that understanding and support has been proffered and accepted, the ultimate joy that those people experience in accepting that life that has been given to them. We know the response of those women who have come through such an experience, the response to their unborn child that ‘you have sought me and found me and I will not let you go’. Nevertheless, a fundamental principle is involved. Given pregnancy support, advice and understanding the women concerned always come to the decision that the life to be preserved is a life which they have no right to destroy. In the Australian Capital Territory we now have the king of abortionists who lives in a place called The Abbey in Sydney, New South Wales. He is attempting to come in and exploit the situation in this city.
Before I deal with that subject I turn my attention to the need for pregnancy support services to be widely advertised. Mr President, I draw your attention to the fact that some of the advice which is sometimes given by public servants is in the nature of what they call compromise or middle course advice. Again I rely on James McAuley who wrote: ‘As between justice and injustice, as between life and death, the middle course leads to dishonour.’ In this instance it would lead to national extinction. I draw the attention of the Senate to the fact that a document has been published by the Federal Department of Social Security entitled the Help Book. It advertises the service known as the Women’s Centre Incorporated, the abortion counselling service. But the book says nothing about the Pregnancy Support Service which is operating in the Australian Capital Territory. Its members are doing a very good job. They are trained to do the job and they are doing it very well. The Service advertises regularly in the Canberra Times as follows:
Pregnancy Support Service. If your pregnancy is causing problems we offer care, support and counselling.
It gives a telephone number for people to contact. I have drawn this matter to the attention of the office of the Minister for Social Security, Senator Guilfoyle. Her office was not aware of this omission. I understand that steps are being taken urgently to remedy the situation. I look forward to the Minister making a definitive statement on the matter. I turn to the real problem which will confront the people of the Australian Capital Territory and to the insult which has just been given by the director of Population Services International (Australasia) Ltd to the Minister and to the Parliament. The Minister has publicly advised PSI that it should not proceed with plans to establish an abortion clinic in the Australian Capital Territory. Notwithstanding this, PSI has recruited and trained staff. Staff had a training session last Friday. According to PSI the service will be in business within 10 days, despite what has been said about this matter and the vote which was taken on a non-party basis in the other place and despite what has been expressed by the people of the Australian Capital Territory. I shall now detail to the Senate the financial machinations of these abortion profiteers.
Population Services International (Australasia) Ltd appears to have been established in Sydney by a Dr Geoffrey Davis. Dr Davis is a director of and subscriber to Population Services International (Australasia) Ltd and a director of and shareholder in Merlin Le Fay Pty Ltd. Ironically, this abortion king lives in a place called The Abbey at 272 Johnson Street, Annandale, in Sydney. The Abbey is a very imposing building. It is a complex of what appears to be an old church, and old house and modern flats, one of which is occupied by Davis and his wife. The complex is a large and very valuable property. The Abbey is listed by the National Trust, which would like to buy it but cannot afford it. The complex has a frontage of about 80 metres and is surrounded by a stone wall about 5 metres high.
Dr Davis has an interesting sideline to abortion profiteering and living in the Abbey. He has an interest in and an affection for vintage cars. He owns a number of them, as well as several modern Maseratis. According to the Australian of January 1977, his latest acquisition is a vintage Mercedes Benz which the newspaper claims is probably worth at least $100,000 on the world market. Davis is listed in PSI material as PSI’s Project Director (Australia) and as a member of PSI’s international staff. On Tuesday, 8 March 1977, on the Australian Broadcasting Company radio program Broadband, Davis stated that PSI now had an annual cash flow of about $lm. PSI’s investment in Australia must rank as one of the more successful foreign investments of the decade. The 1975-76 company return dated 18
November 1976 lists only Davis as chairman and a Dr Robert Gabriel Gordon of 1 Hawthorn Avenue, Chatswood, and a Henriette Nerichow of Unit 8, 22 Manion Avenue, Rose Bay, as the other directors. Control of PSI is therefore in the hands of these 3 people, one of whom I have dealt with.
Davis and Nerichow are also directors of another company, Merlin Le Fay Pty Ltd, which is the lessor of PS I ‘s Potts Point clinic. I come now to the Potts Point clinic, which again is in a very imposing building worth a great deal of money. Apparently the Potts Point clinic does abortions from conception to 3 months. Its service are directed towards working women and it functions on Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays with morning and evening sessions. The lessor is, as I have mentioned, Merlin Le Fay Pty Ltd. It is in a large, old fashioned building that is in excellent condition. Later abortions- between 18 and 22 weeks- are carried out at an Arncliffe clinic. The Arncliffe clinic occupies a renovated bakery. It is situated in a shop-like corner building owned by the Rosslyn Private Hospital. An adjoining pathology unit is staffed by 4 salaried medical technologists who carry out tests on all women clients. The tests were worth $28 each, according to the Sydney Morning Herald of 3 February 1976; so that is old information. However, at that time they cost $28 and were billed to Medibank. With a client load of 200 to 300 a week, the cash flow for the unit is probably between $300,000 and $430,000 per annum for pathology services alone. The ownership of the unit is not known, but the 1975 report of the Rosslyn Private Hospital indicates that it carries an unsecured loan of $25,000 to Cell Services Pty Ltd.
Directly opposite the Arncliffe clinic is the Rosslyn Private Hospital- a 2-storey building containing about 50 beds, most of which are taken up with abortion cases. In the year before PSI opened its Arncliffe clinic, the Rosslyn Private Hospital made a profit of $975; in the year during which the Arncliffe clinic became operational 1975- the Rosslyn Private Hospital made a profit of $103,552 prior to provision for taxation. According to the Sydney Morning Herald of the date I mentioned previously, there is opposite a private hospital where, by arrangement with the owners, PSI admits patients for later term abortions, at 12 to 20 weeks gestation. The connection is a little more complex than that, however. The Rosslyn Private Hospital owns the Arncliffe clinic and received $54,000 rent for it in 1975-76. A director of the Rosslyn
Private Hospital, John Carmody, used to be a director of PSI. The Rosslyn Private Hospital received $156,000 in bed fees from PSI in 1975-76. If they are covered by private insurance, patients assign benefits to the Rosslyn Private Hospital. If they are not, PSI meets the difference.
All clients visit the Rosslyn Private Hospital before going to the clinic. The Rosslyn Private Hospital has a nominal capital of $ 10,000 and an issued capital of $14 in fourteen $1 shares, all of which are held by 2 families- John and Kathleen Carmody, who is also the secretary, who live at the hospital, and Dr Barry and Rita Landa, who live at Bondi. The directors are the 2 men. John Carmody is a registered nurse. As mentioned earlier, the hospital experienced good fortune in 1975, with a profit of $58,945 after providing for income tax, compared with a profit of only $975 in 1974. Fees received jumped from $133,696 in 1 974 to $494,376 in 1 975. Expenses in relation to salaries, wages and sub-contractors went from $80,830 to $247,225. Interestingly enough, there appears to be a small conflict between Population Services International (Australasia) and the Preterm Foundation and the more ideologically motivated abortion supporters. Preterm claims to limit its abortions to a 10-week term. That is only a claim and is not substantiated. Dr Davis and PSI are studiously ignored by the ideologically motivated Women’s Abortion Alliance Coalition and its journal. The Abortion Counselling Service in the Australian Capital Territory, which I mentioned before, is apparently linked with Preterm, and not with PSI in Sydney and Wainer ‘s Fertility Control Clinic in Melbourne. The PSI move into Canberra was preceded by tentative and separate moves by Preterm. An Abortion Counselling Service spokesman has criticised PSI for lack of counselling but described Dr Davis as ‘a good abortionist’ and indicated that the Abortion Counselling Service could make up for the lack of counselling. That was stated in the Canberra Times of 12 March 1977. This indicates that the Abortion Counselling Service is prepared to give reluctant endorsement to PSI in Canberra. I remind you, Mr President and the Senate, that this is the case despite statements that have been made by the Minister for Health (Mr Hunt), despite the votes that have been taken in the House of Representatives on this subject and despite the referendum that was held in the Australian Capital Territory.
Interestingly enough, the PSI liaison officer and education officer is a person called Mrs Mary McNish. She has written to baby health clinics advising of PSI services. During the publicity surrounding the PSI move into Canberra she was interviewed at least twice on local radio in Canberra. Mrs McNish has an active track record of involvement in a number of causes, including anti-war, anti-draft, anti-censorship and antiracist organisations. She is a foundation member of the Penal Reform Council, a member of the Council for Civil Liberties and was the national and New South Wales secretary of the Australia Party. Her most spectacular activity, however, involved being arrested in early 1972 for exhibiting and selling an obscene publication outside Darlinghurst Court. The publication was called Thorunka. Wendy Bacon and John Cox were fined and put on good behaviour bonds for selling it. However, Mrs McNish wanted to associate herself with the incident because as she said:
I am opposed to censorship . . . I do not believe that pornography should be the prerogative of the rich . . . I do not believe that pornography is of necessity obscene … If pornography stimulates people to a greater sexual satisfaction, good on it . . .
That quotation was taken from pages 4 to 5 of Reform, Australia Party, edition 5/72 of 6 March 1972. She is the liaison officer and education officer of the clinic that is being established in the Australian Capital Territory. It is being established, mind you, Mr President, with staff recruited through the Commonwealth Employment Service. I do not blame the Commonwealth Employment Service because, as I understand the situation, the clinic misrepresented its true purpose to the Service.
Items of interest in the 1976 accounts of PSI include a $15,600 administration fee paid to Miss Nerichow one of the directors and $8,204 bad debts. But it was stated that for the next year:
The directors do not consider it necessary to create a provision for doubtful debts in view of the introduction of the Medibank scheme.
The accounts included also $188,420 medical professional fees, which is $159,530 over the figure for the previous year, $38,168 rent for the Potts Point clinic, $54,000 rent for the Arncliffe clinic and $156,000 rent for the Rosslyn Private Hospital beds. In summary, in 1976 Dr Davisthis is the abortion king attempting to establish here in the Australian Capital Territory- shared in the $188,420 medical fees and the $38,168 rent for the Potts Point clinic. Miss Nerichow the second director, benefited from an administration fee and a share of the rent for the Potts Point clinic. Mr Carmody, who is the other effective director, shared in the increased prosperity of the Rosslyn Private Hospital which, in turn, benefited also from the rent paid to the Arncliffe clinic. Underlying all of the financial transactions is the security offered by Medibank which has now prompted the directors of PSI not to bother with a provision for doubtful debts. PSI is a ‘nonprofit’ organisation and therefore does not pay income tax or a dividend. However, those involved with PSI do not appear to be financially disadvantaged.
I have one further item which I am sure will interest the Senate and which will throw more light on the real purpose of these abortion profiteers. A statement was made by Dr Davis, the project director of Population Services International (Australasia), which appeared in the Canberra Times this morning and in which he estimated that 140 to ISO abortions a week would be carried out in Canberra. In the same article a demographer stated that live births in Canberra averaged about 90 a week. The project director of Population Services International went on to state that the districts of Canberra, southern New South Wales and northern Victoria would be involved in the estimate of 140 to 150 abortions. But if we take a very generous estimate of live births in that area, what is being said by these people is that they will cash in and make a profit from abortion on demand and bump up the number of abortions over the number of live births in this area of Australia. What were these people seeking? They sought funds from the First National City Bank in the United States of America to establish this clinic. They have plenty of funds themselves. I have a letter- I will table it if necessary- addressed to a Mr Hal Crow and Mr Philip D. Harvey, President of Population Services International, 110 East 59th Street, New York. The letter is from the Planned Parenthood-World Population people in Seventh Avenue, New York. It reads:
Dear Hal and Phil:
Thank you for your letter of September 21,1976.
We are pleased to hear that Canberra, Australia appears to be the next likely city for the PSI/Australasia program development.
Everything that you outlined about Dr Davis and the clinic plans appears to fall within the guidelines for a PPFA abortion loan. The abortion law in Australia is clear and should present no problem to First National City Bank. The fact that Australia is a hard currency country should simplify the loan process considerably.
I will be happy to work with you on developing a formal program application for Australia clinic. With luck this will proceed more easily than the Holland project.
FRANCINE S. STEIN
Administrator, Abortion Loan and Technical Assistance Program
A copy of that letter was sent to Mr Jack Hood Vaughn of the First National City Bank.
– Will you table that, Senator?
- Senator Harradine, you will require leave.
– I seek leave to table the letter.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– There you have it: A mulitnational corporation, whose project director is the abortion king of Sydney, seeking foreign loans to establish a free-standing abortion clinic in this city against the expressed wishes of the Parliament of this nation and the wishes of the people of the Australian Capital Territory expressed in a referendum. I regret having to take the time of the Senate on this matter but I believe it is important because this person and his organisation are proceeding without regard to what the Parliament of Australia has said, to what the people of Canberra have said or to what the Minister at the present moment is saying. Perhaps the Minister should take that on board.
I now turn to an aspect of Her Majesty’s Speech. The Speech dealt with certain matters concerning the projected industrial policy of the Government. Senator Lewis asked us not to take his words lightly. I have considered what I am about to say and I appeal to the Government not to take my words lightly either. I have been involved in trade unions for many years and have always sought to uphold the principles of conciliation and arbitration- proper, meaningful negotiations and a system of conciliation and arbitration. I have lectured on the subject at trade union training courses and have drawn attention to the fact that the system was introduced at the behest of the workers of this country in order to protect them from the might of the employing class exhibited at the times of the great strikes of the 1880s and the 1890s.
– Against the wishes of the employers.
– It was introduced against the wishes of the employers. I have drawn attention to the fact that on the only occasion that the system of conciliation and arbitration has been put to the people as a test it came through with flying colours. That was when the Bruce Government sought to destroy the system of conciliation and arbitration, to wipe out that protector of fairness and justice on the eve of the Depression when the employing class, because of unemployment, would have had an untrammelled whip-hold over the workers of this country. What happened to Lord Bruce who stood on a platform to destroy the system of conciliation and arbitration? He was defeated in his own electorate. By whom was he defeated? He was defeated by the secretary of the Melbourne Trades Hall Council who stood for the principles of conciliation and arbitration.
What are we seeing now? We are seeing the dismantling of the conciliation and arbitration system. By whom is it being dismantled? Sure, the Government might say it is being dismantled by the pro-communist left within the trade union movement- that is true-but it is aiding and abetting that process, and it is doing so in 2 ways. One way is by the proposal that has been made for the establishment of an industrial relations bureau and the other is by the Government’s failure to act in the area of industrial registered organisations and to ensure that laws are made which will facilitate the activities of organisations registered under the Conciliation and Arbitration Act and not thwart them at every turn. The Government has said through its Ministers, the latest being the Minister for Productivity, Mr Macphee, in an address that he recently gave, that the ultimate weapon is of course more ready deregistration procedures against a union which may be acting contrary to principles that the Government considers are proper. I say to the Government that if it continues in the way it is going at the moment it will see a mass exodus of industrial organisations from registration.
I draw attention to a question that I asked of Senator Durack, the Minister in this place, representing the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations, on 23 February 1977. I shall quote the question and answer. The question reads:
I preface my question to the Minister representing the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations by reminding him that the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations, Mr Street, gave an assurance to Parliament on 1 June 1976 that registered industrial organisations need not amend their rules to conform with the 1973 amendments to section 1 33 ( 1 ) of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act because they had until 13 November 1976 to do so and by that time the Government intended to amend the Act. Such assurances were also given to this Senate by Senator Carrick on behalf of the Minister. Is the Minister aware that the decision of the Australian Industrial Court in B. No. 55 of 1976 reveals such assurances to have been absolutely worthless and contrary to fact, and that registered industrial organisations which amended their rules after 13 November 1974, in accordance with the understanding of the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations, or which placed their faith in the assurances he gave to them and to this Parliament, could now find themselves in an impossible position with invalid rules affecting over 1 000 000 trade unionists?
Sitting suspended from 1 to 2.15 p.m.
– I seek leave to continue my remarks later.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
– by leave- I seek leave to incorporate in Hansard a statement which is being made in another place by the Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs (Mr Howard).
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
The statement read as follows-
I desire to inform the House of the details of the agreement reached between Commonwealth and State Ministers responsible for corporate affairs matters at their meeting in Canberra last Friday. Ministers at the meeting agreed to recommend to their respective governments adoption of a general framework for a cooperative Commonwealth-State scheme for the regulation of the entire field of companies and the securities industry. In expressing on behalf of the Government its great satisfaction with the terms of the agreement concluded last Friday I wish to record my appreciation and that of the Government for the constructive, helpful and cooperative approach of all State Ministers which characterised the several months of negotiations which led to last Friday’s Ministers agreement. The proposals agreed upon last Friday are of course subject to ratification by all governments concerned.
The House will recall that when in opposition the Government parties expressed their general support for the establishment of a national regulatory authority for the securities industry although at the time of the introduction of the Whitlam Government’s Corporations and Securities Industry Bill in 1975 our parties entered very severe reservations regarding the provisions of that legislation. The Government’s commitment to the establishment of a national authority was re-affirmed in July 1 976 when I announced the details of the Government’s policy approach and invited the States to join talks on our proposals.
Unlike its predecessor, this Government chose a path of co-operation with the States. We did this for two reasons. Firstly, it was consistent with our philosophical commitment to federalism, and, secondly, because we believed that both Commonwealth and State Governments had legitimate roles and interests in this area and the only satisfactory solution lay in reaching agreement on a co-operative basis. In formulating its policy the Government also reached the conclusion that in the interests of greater uniformity and consistency it was necessary to apply the one approach to both regulation of the securities industry and the area generally covered by the existing companies acts of the various States. The basic elements of the scheme agreed to by Ministers are as follows-
The adoption of a proposal for legislative uniformity which recognises that the States are not required to surrender or refer any constitutional power. This proposal includes the following:
The Government believes there are 2 basic advantages in the proposed scheme. Firstly, it will be of significant benefit to the business community. For many years all sections of business in Australia have called for greater uniformity in both corporate law and administration and the elimination of the costly duplication and complexities inherent in disuniformity. Formation of the Interstate Corporate Affairs Commission which brought together New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland and Western Australia was a significant milestone along the path to more effective national arrangements. The scheme now proposed builds upon the Interstate Corporate Affairs arrangements and will include all States as well as the Commonwealth. It will have the added advantages of a full time national commission and an effective procedure for securing and maintaining uniformity of law throughout the Commonwealth. Secondly, the proposed arrangements will provide greater investor protection.
A national commission will be able to act quickly and effectively in respect of malpractice in those circumstances where it is clearly desirable that investigatory work and any consequent action be undertaken on a national level. On the subject of investor protection I think it is fair to say that sufficient time has now elapsed since the frenetic days of the mining boom and its aftermath for a sober assessment to be made of the lessons learned from that experience. It cannot be denied that the whole of the circumstances surrounding that period in the experience of the capital market in Australia afforded the unscrupulous opportunities for fraud and deceit. The particularity of many specific cases of such conduct have been detailed in the Senate report on securities and exchange. However, the losses sustained by so many people during that period cannot and must not be all made attributable to the dishonest behaviour of certain dealers.
The very frenzy engendered by the mining boom encouraged the normally cautious to speculate with the inevitable consequences of high risk ventures conducted even in the most honest and carefully regulated circumstances. The lapse of time has allowed us to look at that period and subsequent detailed investigation of the behaviour of those involved in a more balanced manner. The Government’s interest in the mechanism of the capital market must not only be seen in terms of investor protection although this is a fundamental element. It must also be seen in terms of the Government’s responsibility to assist in improving the performance of the capital market. We shall do an important economic institution a great disservice if government regulation and involvement is only seen in the punitive sense of curbing and punishing the dishonest and deceitful.
This, however, is not to underestimate in any way the importance of investor protection. Investor confidence in the future of the institutions and enterprises in which his savings are invested and in the fairness of the market through which liquidation of his holdings can occur is basic to our economic system. For that reason alone the Government must be concerned that confidence is maintained through adequate protective provisions. This consideration has been a dominant element in formulating and implementing the approach of this Government.
The agreement reached last Friday is only the beginning but a very important beginning. Many complicated issues remain to be resolved and further negotiations at a ministerial level will be required. We propose meeting again on 6 May next. However, I believe that the spirit of cooperation and the determination of all governments to reach a satisfactory arrangement which has been evident to date will continue to prevail and that the national approach I have outlined in this statement will be brought to fruition.
Motion (by Senator Durack)- by leaveproposed:
That the Senate take note of the statement.
– by leave- I believe that this is a very important document, and I am sure that those senators who have had very close association with the committees which investigated the securities industry and subsequently the proposal to set up a commission to supervise the industry would agree with me. I am certain that this statement will be welcomed. There was a common opinion among the senators involved that the need for this sort of legislation was great, although there was some disagreement as to the method by which we could arrive at the legislation required. It seems that the Government has succeeded in obtaining the co-operation of all States in bringing down legislation, and that co-operation will expedite the establishment of some supervisory body to monitor the activities of the securities industry. It is worthy of note that those States which have Labor Party governments have co-operated. I make the small comment that that was not the case when the Australian Labor Party was in government, and perhaps that unnecessarily delayed moves towards common legislation.
I do not know whether the Government proposes at some later stage to give honourable senators an opportunity to debate the statement or to speak to it. It may wish to wait until such time as legislation is brought down. I should have thought that Senator Rae would have some very important opinions to express on this revelation that the States have at last agreed to common legislation. Perhaps one or two other senators might have been prepared to express some views in anticipation of the legislation. However, I say merely that, after all the years of lengthy investigation from 1968 onwards, I am pleased to see that this stage has been reached. I will leave the matter there. I trust that the Government will give the Senate the opportunity to debate the statement, and perhaps the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs (Senator Durack) will be able to give us some advice. I seek leave to continue my remarks.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
– Last night I indicated 4 or 5 matters to which I wished to address myself. Prior to the luncheon adjournment today I had gone through one and a half of those matters, and I know that in another arena they had gone through two and now have gone through four. With the time available to me, I have no hope of going through the other 3 matters in the detail which I would desire. Before lunch I had mentioned that the Government was embarking on policies which were playing into the hands of pro-communist Left operators within the trade union movement and that if it sustained its policies and continued to pursue those policies and attitudes the inevitable result would be a deterioration in the system of conciliation and arbitration in Australia. I referred to a question which I asked the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs (Senator Durack) on 23 February in respect of a statement made by the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations (Mr Street) on 1 June 1976. In my question I adverted to the fact that the Minister had quite clearly stated to the House that unions need not amend their rules. In his speech on 1 July the Minister said:
I wish to inform honourable members that organisations need not move to give effect to that requirement by that date -
That requirement was the requirement of the provisions I mentioned prior to lunch and the date was 13 November 1976- unless, of course, they wish to do so. lt is the Government’s intention to have enacted before that date legislation to give effect to the outcome of its current examination of this issue which I mentioned a moment ago.
I have pointed out that, in view of the decision of the Australian Industrial Court on 23 December, the Minister’s statement has been proven to be quite false, totally untrue and misleading.
– What decision do you refer to?
– I refer to decision B. No. 55 of 1976, made on 23 December 1976. That decision showed that the Minister’s statement to the House was untrue and misleading, and that those who had placed their faith in his assurances, and indeed the assurances which had been given Mr Clyde Cameron, his predecessor in the previous Government, had been placed in an absolutely impossible position where now they could have invalid rules affecting over one million trade unionists. The net result is that those unions which had either amended or not amended their rules since 13 November 1974 now find themselves in an impossible position. Any one of those unions right across the spectrumwe are not involved in left, right and centre now; we are involved in questions affecting the administration of organisations registered under the Conciliation and Arbitration Act- could find themselves and their rules under challenge.
– Would you explain why?
-Unfortunately, Mr President, time will not permit me to do so.
– We will give you time.
– If I were given an extension of time I should be happy to do so. But the position is simply that the amendments to section 133 inserted into the Conciliation and Arbitration Act in 1973 require certain alterations to be made to rules. At that time the Minister stated clearly in the House and also to individual organisations that they had 3 years in which to bring their rules into conformity with those provisions to which my question referred. The present Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations reiterated that statement on 1 June last year. However, the decision in the case previously referred to stated that that was not so but that in fact, in respect of that provision, the unions had only 12 months in which to bring their rules into conformity; that is to say, they had to do so by 13 November 1974. Therefore, those unions which have sought to bring their rules into conformity since that date or other unions which have accepted the guarantee of the
Minister that they need not do so now find themselves in a position in which they could have rules on which they can be challenged.
This position has been clear to the Minister since 23 December 1976 and, as far as I am aware, the Minister has done nothing about it. Yet we are dealing with over one million unionists. We are dealing with organisations in control of millions and millions of dollars of members ‘ money. I put it to the Government that if that situation had occurred and had affected business organisations the Government would have introduced an amending Bill the following week or at least the first week of the session of Parliament. Yet we cannot even get an answer to a simple question that was posed to the Minister by me on 23 February 1977. 1 am a member of the national council of the third largest union in Australia and, I might say, I have just contested the presidency of a union which covers the largest group of workers in Tasmania. The election was by secret postal ballot of the rank and file and the votes are currently being counted. The scrutineers say I am winning by six to one. It appears to me that the Government just is not interested in the integrity of organisations registered under the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. With all the Government statements about the possible need for more rigid deregistration procedures as a disciplinary threat to unions, it could fall flat on its face.
Before the suspension of the sitting for lunch I mentioned that I had upheld the principles of conciliation and arbitration and of the registration of industrial organisations throughout the 20 years of my trade union life. I still uphold those principles. But we are not getting any encouragement or support for registered industrial organisations from the Government if this is to be its attitude. Of course, it knows as well as we do that the members of an individual union which decides to become unregistered are immediately the prey of other registered industrial organisations. That is why the Government knows that the deregistration threat at the present moment is a real threat to individually registered industrial organisations. But what if the Australian Council of Trade Unions were to do what the British Trade Union Congress and the American Federation of Labor Congress of Industrial Organisations do and act as the arbiter in demarcation and membership disputes? What if the ACTU, by agreement with all of its affiliates, were to be the protector of the field of coverage of affiliated unions and not the Industrial Court? There would then be very little to keep organisations registered under the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. As I mentioned before the suspension of the sitting for lunch, the policy of a specific group of unions within the trade union movement is to opt out of registration under the Act. At the present moment the Government’s viewpoint and policy are forcing others to consider such action.
– Order! The honourable senator’s time has expired.
Motion (by Senator Wood) proposed:
That Senator Harradine be granted an extension of time.
– I raise a point of order, Mr President. I draw your attention to standing order 407a, which states that an honourable senator is permitted to speak for VA hours in an Address-in-Reply debate. The Clerk shakes his head, but the standing order does state that.
-I think you have an unamended copy of the Standing Orders.
– In speaking to the motion for an extension of time, I point out to the Senate that Senator Harradine has had a full hour in which to express his point of view. Other honourable senators wish to speak in the AddressinReply debate, some of whom have not yet had that opportunity and, because of the program, will have a limited opportunity to speak. I make the point also that yesterday many of our speakers limited themselves to speaking for 20 minutes in order to allow other honourable senators to speak in the debate. I suggest to Senator Harradine that he will have an opportunity next week to further his argument and enable other persons to enter the debate. I suggest to honourable senators that we ought to oppose the motion.
– In that case, Mr President, I withdraw the motion. I moved for an extension of time for Senator Harradine because I thought he was speaking on a subject that was of interest to honourable senators.
Motion- by leave- withdrawn.
– I call on you, Senator Wood, to continue the debate.
-In speaking to the Address-in-Reply I should like to say what a gracious occasion it was to have Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II presiding over this chamber and making a speech in which she delivered to us and the people of Australia what really amounted to an outline of what the Government proposes to do in certain respects, particularly in relation to the economy. I think we were very fortunate in having her here. Of course, her visit has stimulated argument about democracy, republicanism and so on. I believe that throughout the years we have been very fortunate in having Her Majesty the Queen as the person we look up to as the Queen of Australia, as she is now titled. The reason for the visit was to enable us to congratulate Her Majesty on her 25 th anniversary and to commemorate that occasion. During the 25 years of her reign she has carried out the duties of her position as our Queen in a most magnificent way. In the whole of that period of 25 years she has not been the object of any controversy, suspicion, gossip or anything of that nature. She is a perfect example of a person holding such a position for 25 years and attracting no criticism. In the circumstances I think that we are very fortunate in having the Queen as our head.
Today some people are talking about Australia becoming a republic. What does this mean? Other countries are republics and have presidents. Probably the one that is best known to all Australians is the United States. It has a president. If Australia were to become a republic and to elect a president, what would this mean? Every 3 years or so there would be a presidential election. The person occupying that position would be a person of political character. He would have some political feelings if we elected him in the same way as the President of the United States is elected. The contest that takes place there involves great expense to the nation and to the people. It is a contest of great controversy and argument. It is always considered that the person occupying the presidential position has a party attachment. Despite the great cost of electing a president, do we find that the presidents of republics emerge after a period of years with a cleaner reputation than that of the Queen of this country?
The United States is a nation which we have all looked up to. We have seen what has happened in the presidential chair in that country in recent times. We have seen what has happened in other countries. There has been talk of graft and corruption, buying and selling people’s wishes and votes and so on. Do we want that sort of thing? I personally feel that the present set-up, with the Queen as our head, is a very economical one for Australia and one with which we should be delighted. Who pays for the allowances for the Queen? Do we pay anything towards them? Of course we do not. Great Britain pays for them. The only expense we have is for the GovernorGeneral and his residence at Yarralumla. I ask honourable senators to imagine what a presidential residence and suite would cost and what would be the cost of a president galloping around the world, interviewing people and seeing things and having people come to Australia to see him. Our present set-up is very economical. This nation has a nominal head. I think the Queen fills that position admirably. We have nothing to argue about.
Some people, such as Donald Home, Patrick White and a few others, are running around the country stating their views. Who are they to indicate that they are such specialists in this matter? I am quite sure that, despite the poll that was taken in some suburbs of Sydney and Melbourne, the great majority of the Australian people are still of the opinion that we have the best set-up in the present circumstances. I was delighted to see Her Majesty in Australia on this occasion. The visit is giving a gala effect to the whole of the country. For the mere cost of a visit by Her Majesty once every so many years, the people of this nation are entitled to some gala occasions. Each and every one of us at some time has a gala occasion. We may attend a function, go to dine somewhere or do something else. We enjoy ourselves tremendously. Apart from the purely parliamentary side of the visit, it has been of great enjoyment and interest to many hundreds of thousands of people in this country. The present situation is economical, satisfactory and one about which we have no honest complaint.
Her Majesty’s Speech related to Government policy. It referred to the economy of the nation. This subject naturally has been in the forefront of the minds of many people in this country in recent times. It is a problem which the Government inherited. It is the Government’s job now to try to solve it. The trouble is that when a country gets into a mess it is difficult to straighten it out. The same applies to a business. If a business is run down it takes a lot of effort to straighten it out and get it back on an even keel. The government of the country is like the operation of a business. The government of the country is the biggest business in the country; so it is difficult to solve its problems. The Government should set its targets clearly and pursue them persistently, if it believes them to be right, until ultimately a solution is arrived at. We then would be in a much better situation than we are at present.
This applies particularly to the very important matters of inflation and unemployment. Inflation is a very serious matter. It means that the value is going out of people ‘s money. The cost of goods is rising. Thrifty people who have saved money over a period of years find that the value of their money has been decreasing considerably for some time. This is very serious. The sooner this situation is straightened out, the better it will be for everybody. Inflation causes demands for increased wages. When wages rise in the way they have been rising, it affects the industry and business of the country. The country needs to earn money from exports to provide employment. The increased costs of producing exports are stifling this country. As a consequence, many of our industries cannot compete with overseas industries. We are losing markets and more unemployment is being created.
There are problems with regard to the unemployment situation. There is talk about people who are on the dole and who should not be receiving it. I believe, as the Labor Party did many years ago when the situation was bad and there was major unemployment in the country, that people who receive the unemployment sustenance, as it was called then, should be asked to work for it. There is a moral in this. I think the Labor Party of that time was to be congratulated for what it did. If people are doing something for the money they are receiving, they feel that they are not just receiving charity; they are working for and earning the money they receive. I think the Government should give serious thought to this matter. It is ridiculous to ask other people in the nation who are working and paying taxes to provide dole payments to do so for no return. I well remember when I served in local government in those days that these people were made available to us. Local government co-operated with the federal government. As a consequence these people were gainfully employed. The outcome was that those living in the communities where this scheme operated received something for their money. Their cities and towns were better off as possibly were country areas as a result.
In the United States of America a highway, I think it was called the Roosevelt Highway, was constructed by such workers in a similar situation. There is no reason why people in Australia who are unemployed could not be put on construction work of that nature. Goodness me, the northern regions of Queensland have recently had very heavy rainfall which damaged our roads considerably. A grand opportunity is presented for repair work of that nature to be done. I think that it would be well worth while for the Government to go into this matter properly and to see that these dole payments are not handed out as free gifts. In the past they were paid to recipients for the work that they were doing. If we took that action, this country would be all the richer and better for it and the people receiving those payments would be better citizens.
Therefore, I suggest that the Government should think constructively about these proposals even if implementing them will cost the Government additional expenditure. It is better to spend a little more and have some tangible result for the benefit of those who are providing the money- that is, the workers and taxpayersthan to see government funds dissipated by providing these gifts for which no return is received. In my community of Mackay a voluntary organisation has been established. The younger people who are unemployed are gathering together in this voluntary organisation and cleaning litter from various areas. They are doing an excellent job. This example illustrates what can be done with some organisation and determination. I believe that the major work in this respect must be carried out by the Government. It is necessary for the Government to show some courage and strength by carrying out such a program. A former Labor Government did it. There is no earthly reason why the present Government should not take the same action today. Those are the remarks that I wish to address to the Senate on the subject of the economy.
Very shortly, the Government will plunge us into a series of referendums. I cannot understand how the Government can talk about a shortage of funds and yet be prepared to spend $5m to $7m, according to an answer given in the House of Representatives recently, on putting those referendum questions to the people when some of those questions have already been submitted to and turned down by the people. One amazing aspect is that the present Government parties which are now presenting these referendums te the people are the very parties which, when they were in Opposition, so strongly opposed 2 of the referendum questions. We find the Government now coming out and saying that those referendum questions should be agreed to. I am amazed when I read the no case submitted by the then Opposition, now the present Government, to the people in 1974. To do so makes one wonder especially when one reads what the Government is saying now about those who are not supporting the referendum questions; in other words, those of us who voted against these proposals. It is said that we are just about the worst in the world; we are not telling the truth; we are telling lies; we are engaging in subterfuge; and so it goes on.
When we read the no case prepared in 1974 and compare it with what the Government is doing today, as I said in a speech earlier this year, it would appear that the present Government contains the best bunch of acrobats in the world. They would make a magnificent circus. There are so many acrobats in the parties. Not only are they a bunch of acrobats but they are also, I think, magicians and ventriloquists. The change in argument between what was put forward in the no case in 1974 and what is now proposed is really amazing and the work of a group of magicians. We cannot see any reason for the change from the stand taken in 1 974, but the change in argument is really amazing. In other words, the Government parties are speaking in a different voice, just like a ventriloquist. I am quite sure that Senator Withers, our Leader here, Mr Malcolm Fraser and Mr Anthony are really a trio of acrobats, magicians and ventriloquists. In this respect, I refer to a statement which was made recently by Senator Withers. He said:
The May referendum is all about Australians giving Australians a fair go.
A vote for ‘Yes’ will be a vote for fairness and decency in politics.
When you vote ‘Yes’ on 21 May you will be ensuring: Elections for the Senate and the House of Representatives take place on the same day- a huge saving for the public in both money and time.
What did Senator Withers say in 1974? I understand from what he has said recently that he was one of the parliamentarians who helped to prepare the no case at that time. What was said then in reply to the argument by the Labor Government that a yes vote would bring about simultaneous elections for both Houses as though that action was the only way to achieve that end? The no case stated:
The dishonesty of this referendum question is that it says this is the only way to get Senate and House of Representatives elections held together. That is simply untrue.
That is what the Opposition parties at that time said. The argument continued:
The Constitution, the law, and parliamentary practice allow each Prime Minister to have a House of Representatives election on the same day as any Senate election. He can have the House of Representatives and Senate elections on the same day simply by his own decision.
The fact that this Prime Minister does not do so, exposes the fraud of this referendum.
Is it suggested that a fraud is being exposed on the part of the present Prime Minister in respect of this referendum? Does the argument adopted in 1974 apply today? I suggest that the no case makes rather interesting reading. In his recent statement Senator Withers said:
In the last few weeks there have been a lot of myths, folklore, and downright lies being told about what these referendums will mean.
What we are telling the people is what Senator Withers and others told the people in 1974. He continues:
But what those who oppose the referendums- especially that for simultaneous elections- want is that which British Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin once described as ‘power without responsibility- the prerogative of the harlot throughout the ages’.
That is rather unusual language to use in connection with the referendum. Senator Withers goes on:
As one of my colleagues in the Senate put it, some of the people who are opposed to simultaneous elections seem to be seeking a term for life.
Again, this magical series of statements that our Leader here and the Government are apparently responsible for makes very strange reading. I instance the cases of Senator Wright and myself; the same argument can probably be made in respect of Senator Sir Magnus Cormack although I am not certain of his term of office. If the referendum question on simultaneous elections is carried, the terms of Senator Wright and I, at least, will be extended by 6 months. From a parliamentary service point of view we stand to gain from a Yes vote. How can our opponents make out that we are seeking a term for life by knocking back this referendum? If the people vote yes we will gain. Senator Wright, other honourable senators and I prefer to see what is best for the people rather than what is the best for ourselves individually. Talking about spurious arguments, I suggest that if we could fathom and understand clearly why the Government has adopted this approach to this matter, probably the tactics of those supporting the Yes case would not appear as open as the tactics from those on the No case side. Senator Withers’ statement continues:
None of these referendum proposals will threaten the Senate, the States or the law. A ‘Yes’ vote will protect and preserve each.
I invite the Senate to remember that last sentence:
A ‘Yes’ vote will protect and preserve each.
Some people claim the referendum will threaten the independence of the Senate’. The only ‘independence’ that might be threatened is the independence of some senators from their electors.
One reads the hint that we are not fair dinkum. I turn to what was said in the no case in 1 974 by the same people now advocating a yes vote. The no case reads:
But the Senate is not an arm of the House of Representatives. Both are established under the Constitution as equal, independent Houses of Parliament with differing roles. The Senate is the only institution in Australia able to be a barrier to the arbitrary misuse of power by a Prime Minister or his Cabinet.
The argument continues:
The Government refuses to tell you the real effect of its proposed law- to juggle with the terms of office of the senators in order to make the Senate a rubber-stamp of the House of Representatives. Such a dangerous law would vitally affect the parliamentary system; it would cut out the Constitutional independence of the Senate and open the way for progressive reduction of its powers.
Who said that? It was said by the parties which were then in Opposition but which now make up the Government. It was said in 1974 when the Labor Party put up such a referendum proposal. It is rather an amazing change, is it not? We are being accused of trying to cloud the issue by saying the very things which the then Opposition said when it opposed these referendums. It really is an amazing state of affairs when the political parties which now form the Government will spend between $5m and $7m and will come out and tell people the reverse of what they told the people in 1974. Speaking about whether the proposed constitutional change would affect the Senate, in the statement the Leader of the Government in the Senate said:
The fact is that the prestige and strength of the Senate comes from the character of the people elected to it -
I repeat, ‘from the character of the people elected to it’- and from the Senate’s committee system. Neither of those things will be affected by . . . ensuring Senators are responsible to the voters.
What did the parties opposing these changes say in 1 974? They said that the proposed change was a ‘threat to democracy’. They said:
Remember- it is official Labor Party policy to abolish the Senate.
They indicated the sort of steps that can be taken. They went on to say:
The present system is that Senators are elected for a sixyear term. It is a ‘staggered’ election system with half of the Senate coming up for election every three years. The statutory six-year term is one of the strengths from which a Senator derives his independence. Without Senate independence the casualty would be democracy.
They concluded on this note:
The traditional independent powers and voice of the Senate would be lost. The ‘checks and balances ‘ provided by the Senate would be destroyed.
Probably people will wonder whether if they are hearing correctly when they hear these 2 cases put up by the same people when standing in different positions- one when in opposition and one when in government. We, as parliamentarians, should be deeply concerned about changes of voice and views such as this. I believe that in the 1974 case quite legitimate and good constitutional arguments were presented for the No case. Today the very people who presented that case to the people of Australia have done a complete turn about. This worries me as a person who has served a long time in this Parliament. Like Senator Wright I am now in my 28th year in this place. I always have believed that this Parliament is the focal point of this democracy and therefore the higher the standard of this Parliament the better is the democratic standard of the people. The people should be served by really highly constituted and well placed parliaments.
I am concerned when people develop an attitude that parliamentarians cannot be believed; that they promise you this and do that; that they change their minds when they move from being in opposition to being in government. We have a very serious duty to the people When we speak to them and present something to them we have a serious duty to speak honestly and to produce the facts. To suggest now that the case put in 1974 by the present Government parties when in opposition was not true and that the case they are now putting in favour of the referendum is true, now that they are in government, undermines the confidence of people in the voice of the Government. I think the Government is doing a very serious injustice to itself, to the Constitution and to our democracy by trotting out such somersaulting statements on these questions. The present Government parties also opposed the question involving the giving of votes to people in the Territories. Admittedly another aspect was involved but they did oppose it. If they opposed that in 1974 why has there been such a complete turn around? It is amazing. I would never have believed that any government could have done such a turn about.
Having talked about the lack of honesty in the minds of people when governments do this sort of thing, another thing that worries me is the pressure used on people to change their minds on this issue. I know that when individual senators were opposing these questions great pressure was brought to bear on some of them to change their minds and some did change their minds. Do honourable senators think that this is the right type of thing to happen in a democracy? Do they think that presure should be used? I do not think so. I think people should have the right to hold individual opinions on matters such as this and therefore it is very serious.
Pressure has been brought to bear not only within this Parliament; the matter has gone further than that. Take the Premier of Queensland. Everybody knows what he thought of these issues. Why has he not come out on this question? I have greatly admired that man because of his strength and courage on issues. He made his name because of the strength he showed when dealing with those ratbags who were trying to stop the South African footballers from playing in Australia. I would not go from here to there to see a football match or a cricket match but hundreds of thousands of people want to do so. I have taken the view always that if they want to see them they should have the right to do so. That is exactly what he did. As a consequence he found strength and ever since he has been a very strong man. But pressure has been put on him. The Prime Minister, Mr Anthony, his own Party president and so on, have tried to get him to say otherwise and that he is not in favour of these proposals. As great an admirer as I have been, just as that stand that he made about the South African footballers made him a strong man and gave him a reputation with the people as being a man of strength, I believe that if he caves in to the undue pressure exerted on him by the Prime Minister, by Mr Anthony, and by Mr Sparkes, the head of his own organisation in Queensland, he will destroy himself in the minds of the people as being a really strong man. I believe that would be a tragedy for democratic government. But this is what is going on. Is it the right thing to do? Why cannot people be allowed to express themselves? It concerns me very much that this Government should be a party to this sort of a thing. It does not represent true Liberal Party and National Country Party thinking.
Some stand has to be made. We have to stand against these things. The change that has taken place is amazing. Even Senator Missen spoke on this issue. The rest of us who were opposed to him were just in the outer. I have been looking up Hansard. What do we find about what happened in 1975 when the Labor Government again brought these issues before the Parliament? We find that Senator Missen was one of those who opposed the proposition. He voted against putting forward these referendum questions. To hear him talk now you would think he always had been in favour of these constitutional alterations. He was opposed to them and his vote is recorded in Hansard for anybody to see.
I heard Senator Scott stand up and make a very impassioned plea for people to support him. When I looked at his speech on that former occasion I found it amazing that such a change of thought had come about. In my speech on the referendum issue before, I quoted what Mr Sinclair, the Deputy Leader of the National Country Party, had said and what our own parliamentarians on the Liberal side had said. Really, as I said before, it makes you think that there is not only a little of the acrobat in the makeup of our leaders in this Party; there is also a little of the magician and the ventriloquist because of the way they dazzle you and change things and the way that they speak with many voices.
As one who has taken a stand on this issue in the hope that people will vote No I sincerely hope that the people will preserve the independence and character of the Senate and that they will not be carried away by the second voice being used by members of the present Government as distinct from that which they used in 1974. 1 hope that the other proposals will be turned down also. I think that generally speaking we will be just as well off without them as with them. I think that the ‘No’ case should merit the consideration of the people of this country. I always think that it is better to keep the power in the hands of the people than in the hands of the Prime Ministers. Unfortunately it is a fact that sometimes when men get high positions they get a love of power. I always think that the safest democracy of all is a democracy in which the most power remains in the hands of the people so that when they vote they have the right to say who they will have. Therefore, the more that the people can control the power and have it in their hands, the better it is for this country.
Having presented that view in regard to the referendums I say that I was delighted to hear the first speech of Senator Lewis from Victoria who now fills the vacancy of our late lamented colleague ex-Senator Ivor Greenwood. He was a man of very sterling character and with fighting characteristics. I was very pleased to hear the speech of Senator Lewis. I feel he is a man of simple, clear thinking which encourages me to believe that he will be a person who will give very clear, simple thought to matters in this chamber. Not only we but also the people of this country will understand what he is talking about. Because of the quality which I feel the honourable senator has, I sincerely hope that he will be in this chamber for quite a long time. In conclusion, I say that I have very much pleasure in supporting the motion. I sincerely hope that the words which I have spoken will at least be considered by some people and that on 15 May the Government will get its reply from the people, that is a good solid ‘No thank you, we want to remain as we are, a safe, sound democracy’.
– I join with earlier speakers in congratulating Senator Lewis on having made his maiden speech. As one who passed this initiation just 12 months ago I can imagine how relieved the honourable senator feels. I commend him for the effort he made in taking this first step. The pleasant circumstances surrounding Her Majesty’s recent visit gives the Government a unique opportunity to have another go, as it were, at its policy statement. This occasion gives the Government an opportunity to make a between budget evaluation of its progress. It gives the Government a chance to assess the success of the 1 976 version and perhaps to knock off one or two rough edges which had been brought about by the euphoria of having attained a coup against the Australian Labor Party Government. The Queen’s visit gives the Government an opportunity to present a model statement on its policies. The Government decided to take this action and to give us a progress statement. The verb tense which was used during the Speech indicates that it is not what the Government is trying to do but an on-going process of what it is achieving. Obviously the Government is happy with the progress it is making.
With the Government taking this sort of attitude I think we are entitled to make our own assessment of what we happen to feel about the progress the Government has made and to evaluate what we feel has happened since 1976. 1 intend to take the planks of the Queen’s Speech and to examine them. I shall not take all of them because it is not possible to do that in the time allocated to me. Some are difficult to quantify; some are difficult even to recognise; some fall into categories of pious hopes; and some fall into the category of what we have come to call motherhood clauses’. These are matters with which nobody disagrees but nobody really understands. In looking at the planks my references will be to the Northern Territory. I make no apology for this. I shall push the interests of the Northern Territory as long as certain sections of the National Country Party of Australia allow us to stay here. I have said before that it is vital that we in the Territory, in our early stage of development, have the sort of voice which the States had earlier. We are talking about Territory rights whereas at federation the States spoke of State rights. Let us take the first plank at which I would like to look. Her Majesty stated:
My Government is providing incentives and encouragement to the private sector.
Let us have a look at certain sections of the private sector in the Northern Territory and see whether the Government, over the last 12 months, has provided encouragement and incentive. Let us look firstly at the building trade. In Alice Springs- I have mentioned this situation in the Senate before- of the 18 builders only four have work at the present time. The situation in
Darwin is somewhat similar. Many builders are leaving town. Many of the sub-contractors are getting out and their men are leaving. Another facet which is perhaps even more disturbing is that there has been a tightening of credit to builders. This is symptomatic of the economy in the Territory at the present time. Not only are the builders finding it difficult to get work but those who have work, who have construction going forward, find that the building supply companies have tightened their credit. This is something which has not happened before. I shall read a comment made by the President of the Master Builders Association. He stated:
The Liberal and Country Party Government, which some of us were no doubt pleased to see take over the reins, has proved to be absolutely firm in its resolve to cut inflation, and while we would all like to see this achieved, the situation has improved only marginally so that many of us doubt the wisdom of the methods employed. In the meantime the Government has shown itself to be quite insensitive to the arguments against across the board cuts in expenditure and to the problems of particular peoples, groups or areas which could well deserve special consideration.
I believe this phrase is very telling:
I believe free enterprise in the Territory has suffered in the process.
So much for incentive and encouragement in the building industry. Let us leave the building industry and look across at some of the traditional signs and indicators which have been used to assess the health of the economy. Let us look firstly at the savings of people in the Territory. At the present time people, despite the encouragement given to them by the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) to go out and spend, are not doing so. In June 1976 deposits were $76.3m, the highest they have been for years. Motor vehicle registration is another good indicator. Let us look at what has happened in this area. In June of last year registrations were 33.4 per cent lower than the March registrations. The housing area is another clear indicator. At the present time there are more houses on the books of the estate agents than there have been for years. The prices are dropping- perhaps some of us would say not far enough- and this is an indication that estate agents are not able to get rid of their houses. Not only are there plenty of houses on the books but also fewer people are building. I have already mentioned in this place why they are not building. It is because loans are hard to get and are not sufficient. We have a complicating factor here and that is that the Government is preparing at this very time to resume blocks on which people have not built since the cyclone. So the people who cannot get enough money to build or cannot get builders to do the work for them will have their blocks resumed.
I have previously mentioned the state of the tourist industry. This is another important industry in the Northern Territory. It has appealed to the Government for help. The Government has offered it a study for $30,000 to last over 2 years. Here there was an opportunity really to do something to provide encouragement and incentive but nothing was done. Again, an opportunity was lost. Many of us in this place have spoken about the dire situation of the beef industry at the present time. Again here was an opportunity for the Government to do something- to provide some incentive and some encouragement. Yet what do we find? Let me read what the Speaker of the Northern Territory Legislative Assembly had to say. He left his chair to make these comments. Mr MacFarlane from Moroak station, representing Elsey, will be known to many honourable senators in this place. He stated in December of last year:
As you know, Mr Deputy Speaker, this Assembly, over 1 8 months ago, passed a cattle price stabilisation scheme. As the honourable Majority Leader then said, this was unique in Australia, as far as orderly marketing of beef went, because that is what it is all about- orderly marketing of beef. The cattle price stabilisation scheme did not even hit the deck. You would not expect it to with the Labor Government but, since December last year, or for almost 12 months, we have had a government of our own choosing, a government which is of the same political persuasion as the majority of this Assembly, and yet we see that we have not been able to arouse a sympathetic smile from the Treasurer or anybody else.
Later in the same speech he stated:
The matter I discussed with the Minister was a possible deputation of cattle men to locate markets . . . But the Minister Mr Sinclair said he could not get the money from Treasury. What kind of a go is this? It would probably cost $4,000 or $8,000; it might cost $10,000, but it might get the cattlemen in the Northern Territory off the back of the Treasury. You put in a few bob, and you might strike the jackpot. The Minister said he could not get the money and yet we find that one of the main functions of the Department of the Northern Territory is matters related to the production and marketing of beef and the production, processing and export of minerals. I suggest they are not doing a thing about it.
That is an assessment by a member of the National Country Party of the activities of the present Government. The result of this inactivity in the building industry, the tourist industry and other industries is that expertise is leaving the Territory- I have mentioned many times in the Senate what I have called the inverse multiplier. We know that if we do not get contracts out to people the corner store goes out and when the corner store goes out the big businesses go out, and on it goes. If we have not the service industries functioning well, the whole community grinds down. The Minister for the Northern Territory (Mr Adermann), when describing the 1976-77 budget, said that it was one which would maintain the financial impetus of the Government’s objective to meet its continuing responsibility for the special needs and circumstances of the Territory where the economy is still heavily dependent on a wide range of Government expenditures. The Budget Speech said that, but it did not have that effect. The Queen’s Speech said it also, but we see no reason to believe that it will happen following the Queen’s Speech. Virtually nothing has been done to encourage or to provide incentives to private industry in the Northern Territory.
I turn now to this second plank in the Queen’s Speech:
My Government is committed to assisting people overcome poverty and disadvantage … in a manner increasing their choice, dignity and self-respect.
These are noble sentiments and again are ones with which we would not disagree. But let us consider the actual situation. Let us consider the Social Development Branch of the Minister’s Department in the Northern Territory. It is charged with the responsibility of seeing that poverty and disadvantage are overcome. I refer to the staff situation as it relates to social workers. In 1972 the Public Service Board allocated 29 positions to the Branch. That means that it saw a need in 1972, before the cyclone, for 29 positions of social worker. By December 1973, 13 social workers had been appointed. So a start had been made. This was before the cyclone, when the population was lower and the problems not as great. What do we see now? In March 1977 there are only 5 social workers and two of these are leaving. So, we will have 3 social workers, instead of the twenty-nine who are necessary according to the Public Service Board. Most honourable senators will know that the Public Service Board is not easy to persuade when additional staff is wanted.
The same situation exists in relation to welfare officers. The case load of the present welfare officers is sixty to one hundred. I put this to the Minister, who would not give me a full answer but suggested that the case load probably ought to be in single figures. I suggest that at the most it should be no more than twenty. Yet at present it is sixty to one hundred cases per welfare worker. This problem is exacerbated by the fact that the welfare workers who are operating in the Territory are given no chance to train. This year some of them wanted to spend one week each semester at the Darwin Community College upgrading their ability to handle their cases. They were not allowed to have a week off to attend the Community College to carry on with the practical part of their studies. Looking beyond the European situation in the Northern Territory to the Aboriginal situation, I point out that in 1974 the Cabinet directed that there be an Aboriginal welfare officers training program. The Department was moving out to work in Aboriginal communities and, quite obviously, we all would support the proposition that we need Aboriginal welfare officers. One was trained. However, at the present time not one is in training and not one is working out in the field. It is fairly obvious that the people on the settlements are getting little or no service at a time when they need a great deal of support.
In speaking about the whole area of staff, I want to mention the matter of staff ceilings which I have raised before. They are relevant to a discussion of this Department, although they are common to all departments and the comments I will make could be applied to almost every government department in the Northern Territory. The Social Development Branch has 10 vacant positions at present. Let us look at the propositions now in front of us. The Acting Minister for the Northern Territory (Senator Webster) said the other day that the Alice Springs centre would open in April. Alice Springs needs 15 professional positions. He also mentioned that Berrimah would open later this year. Berrimah needs 14 positions. We need at least eight more social workers. Actually, we need many more than that. So there is a need for a total of 37 positions, but there are only 10 vacant positions. I am speaking only of professional staff, not ancillary staff. Consequently, it is nonsense for the Minister to say that Alice Springs will open soon when there is no staff and no vacant positions for people to fill.
This problem has been compounded by the departmental officers hiding the true situation of staffing within their departments. I have mentioned already the Alice Springs situation. During the sitting of an Estimates Committee last year I asked specifically whether there would be sufficient staff to open the Alice Springs centre. The senior officer of the Department who was there at the time assured me that there would be staff available. That assurance is on record in Hansard. He was hiding the truth. Recently I went through the Darwin Hospital. As I went into the boiler room I was told that there was no shortage of staff. I made a few inquiries and found that before the cyclone there were 7 maintenance fitters in the boiler room. At presentafter the cyclone and with damaged equipment in the hospital- there is one maintenance fitter. To tell me that there was no shortage of staff was an insult to me, an insult to the people working in the hospital and an unnecessary cover-up.
However, the best example of this attitude occurred during the recent visit of the Minister for Social Security (Senator Guilfoyle) to Darwin. One week before the Minister went to Darwin 3 officers came up from Adelaide to work in the Darwin office. These 3 officers stayed in the Darwin office for the full week of the Minister’s visit, and one week after the Minister left Darwin they returned to Adelaide. This is a frightening situation, particularly when the Minister had made the comment that more staff was neededthat means that more than those 3 officers who were sent up were needed- and said that the office could have two more. What she did not know was that those three went back and that two more of the existing staff in the office were to go the next week, putting the office further behind than ever. From what I have said up to date in this place it should be clear that I will not join in the game of knocking the Public Service. Public servants in many cases are doing an excellent job under very trying conditions, and I certainly am not here to make adverse comments about them. Their loyalty must be to the community. They are called ‘public servants’. Of course they have some loyalty to their Minister; no one would deny that. However, in the final analysis their loyalty must be to the community, to the people they are to serve.
I mention now two or three other areas of the Social Development Branch. In the cottage home situation the staff are on duty 24 hours a day. There is no support staff and no professional assistance. The homes have virtually become dumping grounds for the disadvantaged young people in the Northern Territory. There is no rehabilitation program because there is no staff to conduct it. The same situation applies in regard to welfare officers. At present in these homes there are fourteen or fifteen children to only one officer. I have already put a question to the Minister about this. This means that, if one of the children was hurt and had to go to hospital where the child could well wait for two to two and a half hours, the other 14 children would be left completely unsupervised. These are children who have been committed to homes because their parents cannot handle them, they are disadvantaged or they are under mild sentence from the court.
For some years the Department has had a recreation program, with an officer appointed to conduct it. However, the officer was taken off some months ago and now there is no recreation program at all in the Northern Territory. Certainly some work is being done by the Young Men’s Christian Association, but it is an outside organisation receiving government assistance. The Department has the responsibility of providing this program and is not meeting it.
Moving from the European to the Aboriginal situation, we find that it is even worse. There is massive unemployment on Aboriginal communities. This will come as no surprise to any honourable senator. At Papunya, to which a group of us went a couple of weeks ago, at least 80 per cent of Aboriginal persons are unemployed. There is also massive unemployment off the communities. I have raised this matter in this place before. People who worked on pastoral properties have moved off. Groups are moving off the stations and setting up fringe camps around the towns, with no welfare officers to support them. We have already discussed the difficulty these people find in obtaining social security payments. I have brought this to the attention of the Minister for Social Security and she has agreed that the present way may not be the best way to handle the situation. But at the moment nothing is being done. There have been cutbacks in assistance to voluntary groups. I think I mentioned in the Senate not very long ago that the Alice Springs emergency Home Help group which received $4,500 last year has had its allocation cut back to $2,500 and will have no money to operate from May of this year. So the record in the whole area of the disadvantaged and the area of poverty is a sorry one. The movement during the last 12 months has been downhill. There has been no achievement. It is hypocritical for the Government to claim that there has been any achievement whatsoever in this area of social development. The Queen stated in her Speech:
My Government is improving the existing arrangements in education in pursuit of equality of opportunity for all Australian students.
I will limit my remarks to the Northern Territory. There is no doubt that other honourable senators will have comments to make about attacks that have been made on the Schools Commission, the area of technical and further education and so on. What improvement have we seen in the Northern Territory? The results in the matriculation classes in Darwin high schools for 1976 show a 29 per cent success rate or, if you like to look at it in another way, a 71 per cent failure rate. I do not have to be told that success in matriculation is not the only yardstick to use in education. But if people go to matriculation classes, it is quite clear that they go for one purpose, that is, to gain the qualification- the matriculation certificate- which will either enable them to enter university, a college of advanced education or, under the new regulations, the Public Service. The figures show that 7 1 per cent of students have been denied this opportunity. Is that an improvement? Would this happen anywhere else in Australia? Can we see any equality of education in a 71 per cent failure rate? The Minister for Education (Senator Carrick) alluded last week to comments that had been made about the out-station movement, or what I prefer to call the homeland centres movement.
- Senator, what reasons do you see for that failure rate?
-They are being looked at at the moment. But obviously it must have something to do with the Department of Education which is the direct responsibility of the Federal Minister for Education.
– Is it the supply of teachers, their quality or what do you think it is? I am just asking you this because I would like to know.
– I think that perhaps we could take up this matter at a later time. I am quite happy to discuss it at this time or later. Certainly, I am pointing to the lack of equality in education for those young people for reasons which I am happy to discuss but perhaps not now. If we look at the Papunya situation- I mention it only because a group of us went there a couple of weeks ago- we find that there are over 100 children in homeland centres outside Papunya who receive no education. The Department has not provided a visiting teacher for over 100 students. At Papunya itself there are 140 students in the school and they have only 4 teachers. These students would range from preschool level through to post-primary school level. There are Aborigines and Europeans. That group of children has 4 teachers only to look after it. We cannot say that this is equality. The situation I am speaking of at Papunya will exist at other places.
There is need for support for the physically and mentally handicapped. I commend the Minister, as I have done here before, for reversing his original decision and allowing some people to be appointed in this area. But we still do not have the numbers we had back in 1 975. So we need to see the situation improved- in fact, restored to what it was in 1975- and to have more people appointed. The Community Colleges have come in for a good deal of comment in the last few months. In both Darwin and Alice Springs the
Community Colleges are understaffed. The colleges cannot provide the courses that are required by the groups that they are trying to serve. I will finish my remarks on this adult education area by reading a comment from the Northern Territory News concerning the Northern Territory Division of the Arts Council of Australia. The article is dated 8 March 1 977, the same day the Queen’s Speech was presented, and states:
The N.T. Division of the Arts Council of Australia is facing a financial crisis.
At the annual meeting president Mrs Nan Giese said the question of Government subsidies was still of considerable concern for the future survival of the division.
The Department of the N.T. grant for 1976-77 had been reduced to $ 10,000 and the grant from the Federal body had been decreased by $4,600.
With inflation running at an average of 1 5 per cent a year since 1 975 the fall-off in real terms of funding to the division this year was an astronomical 38 per cent.
That can hardly be regarded as an improvement on the conditions that operated previously. I have spoken about staffing policies when discussing problems in the Department of Social Development. I would like to make one or two comments on the works program which Senator Keeffe mentioned this morning. He spoke about deferrals and the problems that have been faced. We have had no indication whether the Dripstone school will go ahead. Some projects have been delayed. They include the Sadadeen High School, projects at Borroloola, Ramingining and Lake Nash, extensions at Katherine and so on. In other areas there has been no attempt to say that anything will happen. The projects have just been dropped altogether. There is no money for minor new works, so we are told. Where is the bold vision of the Survey of Education Buildings on Aboriginal Communities, the project that the Minister chooses to denigrate so often? Where is the equality of opportunity for the young people in the Northern Territory? It is quite clear from what I have said that there is no improvement and there is no equality. The fourth plank of the Government which I want to examine was outlined by Her Majesty the Queen as follows:
My Government’s economic program is designed to overcome unemployment.
I was almost tempted not to mention this one because so much has been said already about the fallacy of this proposition. Even if it were an aim of the Government, it certainly could not be classed as successful. I do not think that even Senator Carrick with his acknowledged skill in statistical legerdemain would be able to conceal the unemployment situation in the Territory. Let us look at the figures. The first figures available in the Northern Territory were for August 1 976 when the unemployment rate was 5.44 per cent of the work force. At the time of the Queen’s Speech I am assured that it was over 6 per cent of the work force in the Northern Territory. This does not include a terrific number of Aborigines who do not register as unemployed because they are not near the offices of the Commonwealth Employment Service. The figures do not include many young people in the Northern Territory who do not meet what I call the cosmetic criteria. When they go to apply for a job they are told to have their hair cut or to have a shave and a bath. Despite the comments that have been made about dole bludgers, these are people who in some cases are exercising their right to change jobs. This has been mentioned already as one of the freedoms to which the Government is committed. But in most cases, they are people wanting to work who cannot find work. I remind honourable senators that in the Northern Territory we do not have the heavy industries which provide Senator Cotton and some other people with the ammunition to enable them to say that people do not want to work because jobs are available and they will not go to them. Because time is running out, I will deal with the next statement of the Queen a little more quickly. She said:
My Government is acting also to protect and expand political rights.
I wonder whether the word ‘acting’ might not be a Freudian slip. I repeat what she said:
My Government is acting also to protect and expand political rights.
Of course, this is of particular interest to us in the Northern Territory. The subject of statehood has been mentioned along with the development of town councils on European communities and town councils on Aboriginal communities. I will make a couple of comments on this matter. There has been an interesting change of attitude in regard to statehood on the part of the Legislative Assembly or certainly on the part of the Leader of the majority parties in the Northern Territory. It might be recalled that the Prime Minister, Mr Malcolm Fraser, made a statement that the Territory would achieve statehood in a number of years. Dr Letts, the majority leader in the Legislative Assembly, despite the fact that he had given evidence to the contrary to the Joint Parliamentary Committee on the Northern Territory, said: ‘Yes, we will go along with this. We will have statehood in so many years’. But then he attended a seminar conducted by the Australian Labor Party. He realises now that perhaps it is not as easy as he thought. He had this to say at his Press conference on 8 March 1977, as reported in the Northern Territory News:
The problem is, it’s not just a matter of giving the Territory the administrative machinery to govern itself, actually declaring it a State may not be possible under the Constitution as it stands.
Explaining this during his weekly press conference this morning Dr Letts said that the ‘dispute’ might resolve around Section 121 of the Constitution which is not entirely clear on whether or not it is sufficient for the creation of a new State.
The Government can do either of two things, Dr Letts said.
It can declare us a State and then sit back to see whether anyone challenges it, or it can use Section 122 of the Constitution to conduct a referendum throughout Australia on the question of Statehood for the Territory. ‘
He did not add to that statement, as was said earlier on, that referendums in the past do not have a very good track record. This is another example of a half-baked idea that was thrown out on the campaign trail. We have seen the suavity with which it was embraced by the local Legislative Assembly members and sold to the community at large. It is rather interesting to note as a sidelight the personal attacks that were made on me because I dared to say that the Constitution was not clear on the fact that the Northern Territory could have statehood.
Aboriginal communities are not happy about the support that has been given them in trying to develop their town councils. I make no further comment about that. The evidence is clear in front of us and in front of the land rights group which has received telegrams from the Chairman of the Northern Land Council. I was interested that Senator Wood mentioned votes in referenda. I would like to draw attention to something he said. We in the Northern Territory get our news via Queensland. This is one of our many problems. The news seems to change slightly as it goes through. The Northern Territory people cannot understand this change of attitude. They feel that they cannot really trust the Government. They join Senator Wood in wondering whether they can trust a government which consists of what he called somersaulters, ventriloquists and magicians.
I make a very quick comment in the general area of political freedom and so on to talk about individual liberties. I was very concerned to find the other day that the police headquarters telephone was connected to a tape recorder so that everybody who rings in has his message recorded. I am not sure that people are told that this is done. It is a little disconcerting. We know that the police in the Northern Territory refuse to wear numbers. The answer I got when I tackled the Commissioner on this was that all a person has to do is to ask a policeman his name and he would be told. It is rather an interesting situation to stand outside a pub and to hear some of the people who are being manhandled by the police saying ‘What is your name?’. Honourable senators would be surprised how many Joe Blows there are in the Northern Territory.
We are unsure in the Northern Territory about land rights legislation. We know that Dr Letts has been in some trouble with the Minister in Canberra for introducing legislation before discussing it. One of my colleagues mentioned that this morning. But this is not the only problem. I asked the members of the Northern Land Council for a phrase to sum up their attitude towards the legislation which has been brought forward in the Northern Territory for discussion and which is at present laying on the table of the Northern Territory Legislative Assembly. I give their comment exactly as it was given to me: ‘Appalling in principle and unworkable in practice. ‘ They claim that the whole of the legislation is not in line with Woodward. The sacred sites legislation is not as good as that which is operating in Western Australia, and that is the only place where there is any other similar legislation. The legislation is not as good as the former legislation which was operating in the Northern Territory. The permit legislation has reverted to a paternalistic approach which does not recognise the rights of the traditional owners. I repeat those comments from the Northern Land Council for what they are worth. Perhaps this is more a comment on the Northern Territory Legislative Assembly than on the Queen’s Speech and the actions of the Government. I personally feel that the Minister is sincere. I wonder whether the little brothers in the Assembly, the political colleagues of the present Government, are learning from their Canberra colleagues. It was rather interesting to listen to AM when Dr Letts was asked whether he was having some conflict with the Federal Government about this. He said: We can have plenty of confrontation with our Federal colleagues without having to rely on this Act’. I leave that without any further comment.
I say 2 things about defence because it has been mentioned this morning. They are not related to the full defence area but they will indicate an attitude which is in existence at present in the Northern Territory. The rent on the Royal Australian Air Force houses went up 300 per cent recently. The rise will apply early in April unless we can manage to get the decision reversed. The increase of 300 per cent is for what many people call sub-standard houses, homes which have not been fully repaired since the cyclone. One can imagine what this does to the morale of the servicemen in the Northern Territory.
There is a good deal of concern locally that some defence establishments are being patrolled by civilian security companies. Some honourable senators may recall that I asked the Minister concerned a question on this. I received no reply in this place but I did get a written reply. The Minister said that he thought this was quite OK, that it was a reasonable proposition. Perhaps we get a bit more testy than other people because we are up there on the northern coastline. Some of us wonder, if we cannot defend our own bases, what will happen when we try to defend Australia. I do not think that it is necessary to give further examples although plenty are available. I was interested to read in the National Times of 15 March an article headed ‘Where is Fraser taking us’, by P. P. McGuinness. In the article McGuinness says:
Governments have, ultimately, to be judged on what they do, not by what they promise.
I cannot completely accept the cynicism that is implied in that comment. Broken promises to me are important and credibility certainly has some significance. But as I indicated at the outset the Government invites us to assess what has been going on and to carry out our own evaluation.
I have looked briefly at the areas of incentive and encouragement to the private sector, assistance to the disadvantaged and the poor, improvments in education, unemployment, political rights and individual liberties. I am suggesting that all these matters have been weighed and found wanting. Every indication is given to us that the present Government is not interested in the Territory. This not a novel thought. I have raised this concept in this chamber a number of times. The whole program for the Northern Territory is shot through with devious practices, half truths and a cavalier disregard for the people of the Northern Territory. I maintain that the Government stands condemned on its own standards, condemned by its own colleagues, condemned by its supporters and condemned, of course, by the rest of us in the Northern Territory. It will be quite clear in October of this year that the local Country-Liberal Party, when it faces the electors, and has to bear the brunt of what the Government has done or rather failed to do in the last 12 months.
– The Address-in-Reply debate has always been very important in this chamber but perhaps it has never been more so because of the great significance that on this occasion we are replying to the Speech given by Her Majesty the Queen when she graced us with her presence last week at the opening of the Parliament. It is also of great significance that she visited us in the twentyfifth year of her reign as the monarch. During that time she has shown herself to be an outstanding personality who has adapted to change and who has seen change. She has seen the old British Empire become known as the British Commonwealth of Nations and has seen many of the old colonies gain independence. Coupled with that is the fact that we in this country have also recognised the Queen as the Queen of Australia. This was the first occasion that we had the Queen of Australia herself gracing this Senate and opening this Parliament.
Many changes have taken place since the time of the old Empire, which is today known as the British Commonwealth of Nations. Many countries which have gained independence have still maintained a Westminster parliamentary system. In the last few weeks one had heard a lot of comment, because of the visit of Her Majesty, on whether we should be looking to a presidential or republican system within Australia. I support the Westminster system of parliament, and I am certain the great majority of people in this country agree with me, and I hope they will continue to do so. The Westminster system has stood the test of time. It has been through its rough times. Whilst it has faults I have yet to see a better institution than the Westminster system of parliament which we have in Australia. I hope that the system will continue.
I join other honourable senators congratulating Senator Lewis who had the honour of moving the Address-in-Reply on this occasion. It was also his maiden speech. I commend him for the quality of his speech which he presented to the Senate, for the manner in which he has entered the life of parliament and the way in which he is going about his responsibilities. I am encouraged and impressed by what I have seen of him. I am certain that as time goes on he will make a great contribution not just to his Party but to the Senate. I am also sure that, with the quality so far shown by Senator Lewis, one of these days he would have come into the Senate chamber in any event. It is a tragedy that it was the death of Senator Ivor Greenwood which made it possible for Senator Lewis to enter the Parliament. I was a very close friend of the late Ivor Greenwood and I wish to say that I respected him as being one of the finest men I have ever known. He was dedicated to his job, full of energy, full of ability, and with a total honesty. It is a tragedy that at a very young age he was taken from us. No doubt one could say quite honestly that he made a sacrifice, because I feel sure that it was over-work caused by his dedication which brought his life to an early end. It was a tragedy for this place and for the country that a man of such ability was taken from Australia so soon.
Much has been said about the Speech of Her Majesty the Queen. I wish to quote 2 areas of that address. Her Majesty said:
At the heart of my Government’s policies lie a commitment and a concern; commitment to increasing the freedom, opportunity and equality of the Australian people; and concern with enhancing people’s ability to make their own choices and live their own lives in their own way.
The commitment of my Government to these goals stems from the conviction that the progress of Australia as a nation depends on creating the conditions which foster the strength, independence and creativity of its people.
Australia has experienced economic difficulties in recent years; my Government has given first priority to restoring the economy and will use all the resources at its disposal to achieve this goal.
In response to that part of the address, I wish to say that this Government inherited a very bad economic situation. I am not going back over what happened with previous governments, and I use the plural, because as far as I am concerned those days are pretty well gone. But nobody could deny the fact that we did inherit great economic problems. The Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) made that perfectly clear during the election campaign when he said that it would be a long hard struggle and a lot of slogging, and that it could take up to 3 years, before we saw what we would consider to be good economic recovery in Australia. That is a statement about which we should continually remind people. It is not a case of playing politics; it is a case of stating clearly what the Prime Minister saw the situation to be during the election campaign. Whilst a recovery has been taking place, there are still criticisms and concerns. Some people no doubt expected a Father Christmas exercise almost immediately after the election. I repeat that people were never promised that. They were promised that the Government might have to do some unpopular things, that it could take up to 3 years to get economic recovery.
One of the problems we face is unemployment. The problem is not just one of numbers; it is a problem of people. One sees and will continue to see varying figures, and I hope that in the not too distant future we will get down to some more concrete and precise figures than those we have been given over the last two or three months. One hears much about the actual fact of unemployment, why some people are working and some are not, that many situations vacant are advertised in the Press and are continually left vacant because people do not want the jobs. One hears those stories. One speaks to people and learns at first hand that on many occasions it is a fact of life, and that does create great problems. One could also give examples very close to home, in one’s own area and amongst one’s own associates, of people who have not been able to get the job they want but who have been prepared to go out and get some other type of employment. That sort of thing is happening. There are also occasions where a surplus of applications are received for a particular vacancy. I refer to a statement in the Adelaide Advertiser on 3 March this year that the metropolitan abattoir, known as SAMCOR, had advertised 360-odd jobs and about 1 100 people had applied for the vacancies.
On the same page of the same paper appeared a statement that the Broken Hill Pty Company at Whyalla had been unable to fill vacancies which had been advertised not for days but for weeks and in some cases for months. The article states:
BHP’s Whyalla steelworks is continuing its recruiting drive for labor in other States.
I emphasise that the drive was in other States. The article went on to state that despite the ready availability of work and housing BHP was unable to get applications for jobs and that it had recruited some 72 employees from Tasmania in one week in January. The company provides furnished or unfurnished homes, whichever people want, and good wages and conditions; yet it sought applications from other States and received them from as far away as Tasmania. It will repeat the exercise to try to get people from Tasmania to come and work at Whyalla. That is one of the farcical situations we are witnessing at the present time.
Having said that, I should also say that the Commonwealth Employment Service has a terrific task in giving assistance to those people who are genuinely desirous of getting employment. I am pleased to see that it has been announced in the last few days that the CES is now recruiting a further 300 people.
– Not before time either.
– Let us not go into the criticism. It has been done; that is the main thing. There has been some criticism of the CES. Many young people today regard the CES as purely a place where they go to pick up their payments.
– No, they do no get them there.
– Young people regard it as being that son of place and that is what they do. Let me go one step further and say that I have first hand evidence of my own son, who did years of study and was unable to get a job for quite some time and who has been driving a truck. There is nothing wrong with driving a truck, but he had educated himself to do other things and could not get a job with the skill he wanted and he was prepared to do that. When he went to the CES, along with many of his friends- there are many people like this- the first thing they were told was: ‘Fill in this form and we will give you unemployment benefits’. The first question that should have been asked is: ‘What type of work are you looking for? What are you prepared to do?’ I am not blaming the CES totally, but there are certainly people within it who are not approaching their jobs and their responsibilities in the right way. That is a fact of life, and I have first hand evidence of it.
Turning to the Jordan report, an inquiry was made in 1 973 and the report made constructive criticism about what should happen in a restructuring of the CES. It did not criticise individuals or personalities. I hope that the current Norgard inquiry will come up with something, because the most important need is to give assistance to people who want employment, and that should be the full function of the CES. As I said before, I am concerned not just about the unemployment numbers but about the effects of unemployment on people who are unable to get jobs. Unemployment is having an adverse affect upon many. Whether we like it or not and whether we agree or not, many people at the present time do not want to work. They are happy to adopt the ‘Big Brother’ attitude and to say: ‘I’m all right, Jack . They are prepared to bludge on the community and on their mates, because the taxes paid by their mates are paying them. That is happening; it is a fact of life. If we are honest with ourselves we will acknowledge that this is happening.
Overlooking the fact that some people do not want to work, unfortunately some people are getting into bad habits and have decided that being unemployed is an easy way out. They are saying: ‘Okay, the welfare state concept will do me; it is good-oh’. They believe that the world owes them a living and they will carry on believing that. Bad habits grow on people. But we also have the problem of boredom which particularly is affecting so many of the younger people. A survey that was undertaken in South Australia by the South Australian Government a short time ago showed very clearly that the crime rate of younger unemployed people had increased dramatically. This is one of the problems that we are facing. One could mention further problems. I commend the Government for the new program it has introduced for the younger people, that is, the community youth scheme, which will keep younger people occupied and give them some responsibilities within the community. It is a very good scheme as it will fill the interim period until such time as these young people obtain employment.
As I said earlier, some people have spent years to educate themselves for certain occupations but are unable to get the jobs they want. This would be disappointing enough, but there is greater frustration when they cannot get any work at all. People are frustrated also when they are interviewed for a job and are asked what experience they have had. They have been unemployed, so what experience can they have until they have been employed? The younger people face all these problems and frustrations, as do many of the older people who are out of work. I agree that there are problems. But I think one of the greatest problems of all is the fact that many people, particularly senior people, today feel branded with the stigma of ‘dole bludger’. I do not like the term ‘dole bludger’, but let us be honest, there are dole bludgers about- we agreed earlier that that was the case. But I should like to see, if possible, some separation between dole bludgers and the genuinely unemployed. This comes to the crux of the whole matter. I hope that we can evolve some system within our society whereby the ‘fair dinkums’ can be separated from the ‘bludgers’ because at the present time they are lumped together and painted with the same brush. That is one of the tragedies of the current situation. I do not know how we can go about this, but I hope that this problem can be resolved. I support also the need for sufficient financial assistance being provided to those people who genuinely are out of work.
I said earlier that the Government has set out sound economic policies. Today we are seeing those policies working. We are seeing them working in the areas of inflation, investment and so many others. But Government policies alone will not bring about a full recovery in this country. They will not solve the problems. It will take far more than that to do so. It will take an effort and a contribution from each and every one of us within this country. Until such time as we as individuals are prepared to play our part the problems will not be solved. It is no good our sitting back and saying, ‘Leave it to the Government’. We only have to look at what is happening in the United Kingdom to see that such an attitude does not work. Whenever one speaks to anybody over there the common reaction is: ‘The Government should do something about that; it should change its policies’. The Government in the United Kingdom has been changing its policies and doing all sorts of things. It is a country with courage second to none, with a Dunkirk history, which proves its moral fibre.
– Not a bad batting record either.
– From what I can gather, it does not have bad cricketers at the present time either. Nevertheless, England is going downhill economically because all of its people are looking to the government to fix up the country’s problems. They have overlooked one thing, that is, that they as individuals are part of the country and they should be helping to fix up the problems. We in Australia have to start thinking very seriously about that. I am not having a shot at the trade unions or the workers in the blue collar field or anyone else. I am just making a broad statement that we, as members of the community, have to play our part.
We were developing our export trade, but unfortunately today and over the past 2 or 3 years rather than seeing our export trade developing we have seen the reverse occurring; we have seen the export of some of our industries, which is a tragedy for this country. This is occurring because of our internal cost structures. I shall quote from an article which I saw in the Australian as recently as Monday, 14 March. I shall not mention the company involved, but the article read as follows:
But last week the unthinkable happened. The company . . . now part of -
The article mentioned another big company- announced that a new plant was to be built, not in Australia, but the Philippines.
Why? To make profits and to preserve jobs-for Australians.
For the money made by the off-shore -
The article referred to the development of an industry- will be used to subsidise the company’s two Australian plants and maintain staffing levels.
Instead of that company expanding within Australia it is going overseas. One knows of numerous examples of this happening because of the cold, hard economic facts of life. The reason for this is that our productivity is down compared with other countries. So many other factors are involved once one starts comparing the production costs of other countries and Australia. I should like to mention a few productivity figures of a few countries. Unfortunately I do not have figures for 1976 but I shall state the figures for 1974 and 1975. In 1974 we find that in the United States of America there was a downturn in productivity of 3.65 per cent but their inflation was running at 1 1 per cent. Productivity in the United Kingdom increased by 0.30 per cent but their inflation was running at 16 per cent. In Japan there was a downturn of productivity of 0.33 per cent but their inflation was running at the high rate of nearly 23.5 per cent. In West Germany there was a plus in productivity of 2.57 per cent, with inflation of 7 per cent, whilst Australia for that year had a productivity level of minus 3.56 per cent, with an inflation rate of something like 16 per cent.
Following through to the figures for 1975, we find that productivity in Japan was pretty well static and its inflation rate is way down to 11.9 per cent. In Germany there was virtually no change in productivity and its inflation rate was down. Productivity in Australia was still about 0.5 per cent down with inflation running at 14 per cent. That is not a healthy record. But if we go further and relate these figures to the changes in the hourly wage rates in manufacturing between 1972 and 1976 we find that in that period in the United States of America there was an increase of nearly 39 per cent in that rate; in Japan a 53 per cent increase; in Germany a 43 per cent increase; in the United Kingdom an increase of 109.5 per cent; and in Australia an increase of 100.6 per cent. In that period Australia had one of the biggest increases in hourly wage rates of any major producing country. When we couple that with our productivity, in which we had not the poorest but one of the poorer records, we can see clearly why there has been a downturn in the development of industry. We are competing with overseas countries.
Let us consider the strikes and industrial problems in Australia. I have figures on the number of days lost per 1000 people employed in 1974 and 1975. Because of the time factor I will take only 1975. Unfortunately, I have no figures for the United States of America. In Japan 400 days were lost per 1000 people employed; in Germany, 10 days; in the United Kingdom, 540 days- that surprised me; and in Australia 1390 days. The number of working days lost in 1976 was 3.8 million. The average number of working days lost per worker was 2.6. The estimated loss in wages was approximately $1 18.6m. That was in wages alone. If we compare the number of disputes in the 9 months to September 1 976-with the number in the same period in 1975 we find that there was a downturn. The number of disputes was down by 19 per cent. The number of days lost rose by 13W per cent and the estimated loss in wages rose by nearly 381 per cent. These are the things that concern me.
I have given these figures purely to show the comparisons between the situation in Australia and that in some of our trading competitors. I say competitors’ rather than ‘partners’. I have not given them to level criticism at trade unionists in particular, with the exception of some of the radical trade union leaders in this country who have encouraged and created disruptions. We must look to see whether there are reasons for the present situation. I refer to absenteeism. According to Manufacturers Monthly of 15 February this year, the average absentee rate in Australia is 12 days per annum. Throughout Australia this amounts to approximately 70 million working days per annum, at an estimated cost to industry of $2.768m. When one starts totting up the costs one can see what an adverse effect this is having upon the internal cost structures of industry in Australia. Coupled with this is the problem of job turnover. These facts show that there are excessive costs because of the problems of industrial unrest, a lack of productivity, the wages race that has gone on for quite some time and absenteeism. I repeat that I am not laying the blame in one area in particular. We have to look for reasons for these problems.
What are the reasons? How many of these problems might be due to the worker’s attitude to his work and to the monotony of working- on a mass production line, particularly an assembly line where identical pieces are going past hour by hour, day by day? Are those problems due to general working conditions themselves? What effect is high taxation having upon the lack of incentive? Many people will not work overtimewhich has its effect- but they will take a day off. This adds to the absentee problem. One can relate this problem to the attitude that taxation is too high. Are unemployment benefits too high? The man who stays at home all day on unemployment benefits, even with a wife and family but with the odd moonlighting job round the corner, may be better off than the man who goes to work every day. We must give serious consideration to all these matters.
I was very pleased to see that the Minister for Productivity, Mr Macphee, was reported in the Advertiser of 1 4 March this year as follows:
Absenteeism and job turnover were responsible for a greater productivity loss than were industrial disputes.
Both could be reduced when industry recognised that they resulted from boring work or unsafe and unhealthy working environments.
Australian companies were beginning to recognise that their first obligation was to their employees.
Mr Macphee went on to point out that not all the blame for all the problems lies with one section of the work force. He said that management itself also must have a closer look to see what can be done to encourage greater efficiency and productivity, because management also has its responsibilities. I think we all have a collective responsibility, as citizens of this country, to see what we can do to assist in getting the economy moving again.
Frankly, I think that in endeavouring to revive the economy we also must revive the old spirit of Australianism on which this country was developed by its pioneers. Unfortunately, for quite some time there has been a tendency for all of us to try to get as much as we possibly can for as little effort or input as we can give. The mercenary attitude has been predominant, rather than what one could call the national attitude. Yet the old spirit is still lying within a great part of this community. One sees wonderful charitable efforts by so many people within our community. I am one who has been critical in this chamber of certain shop stewards in certain industries because of their conduct; but I was delighted a few weeks ago to see a report, again in South Australia, of a group of shop stewards at the General Motors-Holden’s Ltd plant at Elizabeth who, within the short space of a couple of days, raised a few thousand dollars to send the child of one of their workmates to New Zealand because they felt that a specialist there could bring her back to full health. That is the sort of spirit which exists, but it is latent. We need to spread that spirit and to get it running through our community.
We must look at the country from a national point of view rather than from a mercenary or parochial point of view. The spirit is there. These men have proved it. But we have to show more of it and use it more broadly throughout our community. When this is done we will see progress in this country. The Government alone cannot do this. No government can do this by policies. We all have a responsibility, not just the Government. I should like to see the Government, the unions and management sit down together and have real talks-not just to score points off each other- and see what can be done to get this country moving again. They should sit down in an earnest endeavour to see how they can improve each other’s lot and make their contribution in the one direction of prosperity for this country which, of course will, bring prosperity to the people within the country. That is what Government is all about. That is what our efforts should be all about, to make sure that we can overcome the problems in Australia and return to the situation which prevailed not many years ago. Unless we all pull our weight it will be a longer and harder struggle than the Prime Minister said it would be in the election campaign. I have much pleasure in supporting the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply.
– I was rather interested in what the previous speaker, Senator Young, had to say on certain matters. He did lay some stress on the reasons why Australian capital currently and in the recent past has left this country and has been used to set up operations to our north. Senator Young tended to blame high wages and good working conditions in Australia for that factor, when one of the real reasons is poor wages and working conditions in Asia, for example. I take as an illustration a female textile worker in Korea who starts work at 7 o’clock in the morning and works through to 7 o’clock in the evening, with no more than half an hour for lunch and 4 days a year as holidays if she is lucky, all for the petty sum of $7.50 a week. If those are the kinds of conditions that Senator Young wants to see introduced into Australian society, if he wants Australians to become nothing more than serfs and peasants, good luck to him.
The whole problem with our society at present, as I see it, is that in the past, and in the last 20 years in particular, our whole progress has relied on the growth factor. If we could not have growth, there was no progress. Quite frankly, I perceive that the world in general and Australia in particular, or Australia in league with the rest of the world, has now arrived at a stage where our citizens in common with those of other countries no longer see growth as the most important factor in society. Quality of life has become a very big issue. People are not so much concerned with the gross national product and multinational companies making ‘X’ amount of dollars over and above what they made in the previous year. They want to see quality of life. This factor has thrown our economists who have grown up in that growth school of thought into a quandary. They do not know which way to turn.
I am no economist and I cannot tell economists their business but I think I perceive the faults in the system as it currently exists. I can suggest to our economists and our government advisers only that they should get off the growth tram and have a look at the quality of life situation as currently understood by the average citizen in our society who wants something more out of life than to go to work for 12 hours or 8 hours a day, who seeks some security and also wants some quality in his or her life.
Having finished that little outburst, I must say that I believe that the speech which was placed in the hands of Her Majesty on Tuesday last to read when opening the Parliament was one of the most insulting speeches that could ever have been handed to a monarch or to a woman of her intelligence. Apart from a few shibboleths, such as ‘increasing the freedom, opportunity and equality of the Australian people’ and acknowledging some of the Government’s band-aid approaches to the problems of our society, the speech told us nothing and gave us only cliches. What commitment to increasing the freedom of citizens currently unemployed has this Government made? The answer is: No commitment whatsoever. Freedom to starve is the only freedom for these people, particularly those who, through regulations, are no longer eligible for unemployment benefits; and there are many of them.
Single people under 18 years of age now in receipt of unemployment benefits will receive no increase in their payments in May. It is almost as though the Government seeks to allow young people to die of starvation in a war of attrition in order to improve the unemployment figures. What opportunity or equality is available to them at a most critical period in their lives? They have no work and little finance. Surely this experience will scar their lives for ever. As an example, what opportunity or equality is available to the young lass who came into my electoral office the week before last with a letter telling her that her Tertiary Education Assistance Scheme allowance had been discontinued. The Depanment of Education alleges that she is more than half a year behind the point which it believes she should have reached when, in the first place, she is obliged to travel SO miles to and from lectures and studies each day and, secondly, the faculty in which she receives those lectures and studies passes students on criteria other than those used by the Department of Education; that is to say, that Department in respect of students at colleges of advanced education at the moment is using criteria that apply to universities rather than to colleges of advanced education. Later last week when I consulted with my research officer on this matter I was informed that at the same rural college of advanced education in Victoria 160 students are in exactly the same position. I will be interviewing a number of those students tomorrow when I return to Victoria.
This state of affairs does not auger well for the commitment in Her Majesty’s Speech which, I repeat, was prepared by the Government and delivered by that good lady on Tuesday of last week. We must relate this talk about opportunity and equality to the actions of this Government and the Department of Education in denying assistance of the type I have mentioned to every person they conceivably can. When the Labor Government left office, expenditure on education had increased fourfold in an endeavour to bring some equality to the education system. Eighteen months after the Labor Government left office this country is rapidly moving back to a class system of education. The only people who will survive under Fraser and the LiberalNational Country Party Government will be the elite section of our community. In Her Speech Her Majesty said:
The prosperity of the Australian people depends on the strength of its productive private sector, on its manufacturing, mining and rural industries.
Let us look at what this Government is not doing for the rural sector. At a time when thousands of primary producers in Australia are hanging on for dear life and, unfortunately, being ripped off by experts, we find with respect to wool that the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Sinclair) has done nothing for the industry despite the clamour from woolgrower organisations right across the Commonwealth. I say to Senator Messner who is trying to interject that the woolgrowers simply ask that the Australian Wool Corporation be given powers of acquisition over all wool destined for export. The Minister has sat on his backside and done nothing. There was a time when the Liberal and National Country parties used divisiveness amongst woolgrowing organisations and rural organisations generally as an excuse for doing nothing. That excuse no longer exists. Every woolgrower organisation in Australia is clamouring for this reform. The Minister has done nothing.
Let us look at meat. I suppose the meat industry faces the most diabolical situation in which any industry in Australia has ever been placed. This is a situation which allows beef producers to be ripped off daily. Any honourable senator who has been to a saleyard in the last 2 years anywhere in Australia has seen this going on. 1 suppose that some of us have been to some extent victims of it, so we know all about it. While on the one hand producers are being ripped off, exporters on the other hand are making record profits. Again, grower organisations right across Australia are calling for the establishment of a meat and livestock corporation to replace the existing Australian Meat Board. The Minister has twiddled his thumbs while some overseas markets are jeopardised by unscrupulous traders who are using all sorts of devices to make a fast buck at the expense of producers and clients.
Having spoken about meat, I turn now to the matter of the export of live sheep from Australia. Twenty years ago the annual export of live sheep from Australia was below 100 000. Those exports were by and large to Malaysia and Singapore from the State of Western Australia. Basically they were to supply the Moslems in that region with meat from sheep known to have been slaughtered in accordance with Moslem customs. It was not until 1964 that the Middle East entered the market for live sheep. Trial shipments to Kuwait were instrumental in lifting live sheep exports for that year to a record 263 000 sheep. This market in the Middle East has been supplied traditionally from Turkey and Afghanistan but due to adverse seasons in those countries the supply has dropped off and the Middle East has had to turn to abroad for the quantity of meat required. During 1976 Middle East countries imported 2.5 million sheep from Australia.
I believe that to a large extent the present demand is based on financial greed. There are too many people between the Australian sheep grower and his consumer in Middle East countries who are making rip-offs. At present a heavy wether, a 50 kilogram wether, is worth $60 to Middle East importers who receive payment from the government. The sheep are slaughtered and offered to butchers at a heavily subsidised figure. They are retailed at a price fixed below locally produced sheep meat although above the price of imported frozen meat.
This is the point I want to stress: A great deal of political agitation and political capital has been made about problems surrounding the meat industry brought about by the ban by the Australian Meat Industry Employees Union related to the export of live sheep. I understand that that union stipulated that there should be 2 sheep killed in Australia for export to these countries for every one exported live. I am also given to understand, although I have nothing to verify it except verbal information, that the exporters have broken the agreement. Currently, to my knowledge, the union is asking that the ratio be lifted to 3 killed in Australia for every one exported live. The reasons for that request are included in what I am now going to say. The Middle East exporters, as I think I have already intimated, require heavy wethers. As you know, Mr Deputy President, the market for those heavy wethers was your State of Western Australia but the demand outstripped the supply and exporters moved across to South Australia. They have now moved into western Victoria. I suppose it is a sight to see when one of these massive ships pulls into the local harbour to load some 35 000 sheep for the Middle East. The whole district would become activated. People would be on the move and semitrailers would be carting sheep to the point of embarkation. But I believe, unfortunately, that the Australian sheep meat producer is being ripped off.
– He is very happy.
– I agree, he may be happy when he compares the price with the price he can get elsewhere but if he only knows the facts he will realise the rip-offs that are going on.
– There is no better market.
-That is right, there is no better market but it could be much better than it is. The profit on a wether is shown in the breakdown that I will give. A wether, preferably of at least 50 kilograms live weight, is sold for $10. The costs are as follows: Feed preparation, innoculation and wharfage, $5; shipping costs from Western Australia, $20; fodder costs for the voyage, $7. The total cost to the importer in the Middle East country is $42 as against the $60 he receives at the other end. That is the overall cost per head from Western Australia. The price is $3 to $5 a head over and above that from ports in South Australia and Victoria but this again allows anybody importing into the Middle East a rather exorbitant profit. During 1976 Kuwait imported 672 000 sheep and Saudi Arabia imported about 280 000 sheep. The high profitability continued throughout that area.
I believe that livestock shipping companies have a vested interest in maintaining this high volume of live sheep shipments between Australia and the Middle East for reasons which I shall disclose. In October last year the Daily Commercial News, a shipping trade newspaper, printed an analysis of sheep carriers plying the trade between Australia and the Middle East. It listed 43 vessels with an overall capacity of 600 000 live sheep and with an average ability of making nine round trips each year. The analysis disclosed that of the 43 vessels one vessel, the Atlas Pioneer, had a capacity of 52 000 sheep.
Another had a capacity of 40 000, five had a capacity of between 30 000 and 40 000, ten were capable of lifting between 20 000 and 30 000 and the remainder had a lesser capacity. Since the time of the Daily Commercial News report a further 10 ships have entered or are about to enter the trade. I think it is in this area where the profit really is. They include the Clara Clausen with a capacity of 43 000 sheep, the Dorrit Clausen with a capacity of 3 1 000, the Dansborg with a capacity of 30 000 and the Sunny Lady which has a capacity of 54 000. The remaining 6 vessels have a capacity of between 20 000 and 30 000 sheep. There is not the slightest doubt that shipping companies with obsolete oil tankers- I think we all are aware of the situation around the world and know that there are oil tankers in mothballs everywhere one looks- are closely watching the attitude of the Australasian Meat Industry Employees Union with the intention of conversion to the lucrative livestock trade.
The importance of Australia as a supplier is realised when, as I said before, other competing sources of sheep are examined. Examination shows that the traditional markets can no longer supply what is required. It is interesting to note that last year after the Western Australian branch of the AMIEU effectively halted the loading of the Atlas Pioneer, that vessel was sent to Uraguay and loaded 58 000 sheep, 6000 more than its permitted capacity from Australia. The trip was reported to have been something of a disaster for despite the claim that the Atlas Pioneer is considered to be amongst the safest vessels for in-transit mortality, the sheep, lighter and smaller than those normally required for export from Australia, did not stand up well to the long trip to the Middle East. It is reported that many failed to survive the journey whilst those that did survive arrived in poor condition. I am given to understand that the current rate of mortality in the export of live sheep from Australia runs from 4 per cent to 8 per cent but there have been instances where up to 20 per cent of the sheep which have left this country have died en route. If that sort of loss can be supported by the economics of the operation it indicates that somewhere along the line someone is being ripped off. I am afraid that I believe it is the Australian sheep meat producer.
– Where did you get those figures?
-They are in my head but I received that information from the Assistant Federal Secretary of the AMIEU, Mr O Toole, when he came here about 3 weeks ago to put a case to the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser), Mr Sinclair and Mr Street. I am told that when the AMIEU people returned from the deputation they were very happy with the reception they received. They said that the Prime Minister, Mr Sinclair and Mr Street sat with their mouths open because they had never heard the facts about this situation. Furthermore, the AMIEU representatives were invited back to put to the Prime Minister and the other 2 gentlemen a further case containing more facts and figures. I am just hoping that something will eventuate from this to alleviate one of the problems that we have in our rural society. It is estimated that some $150m was expended by Middle East governments to purchase 2.5 million sheep last year. That is the equivalent to 50 000 tonnes of carcass mutton. It is estimated that of that $ 1 50m which was expended by the Middle East governments, Australian sheep meat producers received $25m. The balance went almost entirely to foreign shipping companies and Arab importers. I believe that here we have one of the problems in our rural political scene. Because of an inborn hatred or detestation by sheep meat producers and farmers generally of the trade union movement, the 2 bodies do not get down and talk about their problems. I believe there has been a lack of this co-operation in more recent years in particular. At some stage a rapport has to be built between primary producers and the trade union movement because each has a great deal to give to the other. I believe that until this happens the rural situation in Australia cannot be improved. In this specific instance the sheep meat growers and producers by opposing the bans imposed by the Australasian Meat Industry Employees Union on the export of mutton have placed themselves in the absurd situation of preserving the privileged position of the middlemen in the trade.
We all realise that the Middle East is a very valuable market, particularly for sheep meat. The indigenous people have a preference for sheep meat and goat meat. Actions in recent times have proved that the governments in these countries have the necessary finance to supply the meat. Unfortunately, they are doing this by the most expensive method possible. An honourable senator interjected earlier and asked me where I got this information. I am able to tell him from the same source that one of the weaknesses in the trade between Australia and Middle East countries in sheep meats is the lack of acumen- I suppose one could best describe it that wayamongst Middle East governments in how to tender for meats. I think there is a job to be done here by a new organisation or a revamped Australian Meat Board in educating these people in the best way to tender for meat around the world. I am informed that one government in the Middle East in recent times called for a quantity of sheep carcasses with virtually no stipulation as to quality or anything else. Some smart operator in the Middle East picked up his telephone, rang around the exporters in Australia and obtained the necessary requirement of 2000 carcasses. When the carcasses arrived at their destination they were rotten. Such actions do not do much for the Australian meat industry. This is the problem we will always have while we allow free enterprise spivs to operate in that field.
I think the time is long past when the Australian primary producer can allow these sorts of people to operate at that level. It is time for some corporation in Australia to set guide lines. Let us be perfectly frank. I think we all admit that our New Zealand counterparts have left us for dead. We cannot hold a candle to New Zealanders when it comes to exporting primary products. It is time we revamped our Meat Board and got out with a reliable and responsible corporation with a responsibility to the growers of this country to dispose of their products. We have a responsibility also to relate back to our growers so that they in turn know what they should be producing, so that they know the market requirements. This has been the great weakness in primary industry right across the broad spectrum for as many years as I have been capable of understanding anything about primary industry. A moment ago I described the situation where 2000 carcasses from Australia were rotten when they were dumped at the export end of the line. When that can happen it does very little for our primary products, for the economies of our society and for the future of our trade. I suppose that if one knew one could cite dozens and dozens of examples across the broad spectrum of the export of primary products.
I am also informed from the same source that in some countries there is a dire lack of unloading facilities for live sheep. At one port, which was unnamed, the sheep are thrown overboard manually. Again, that does not do much for the Australian sheep meat grower. It is a shocking indictment. If those oil-rich sheikhdoms have money to expend, to pay $60 a head for live wethers from Australia, I think it is time that we had consultations with them and informed them that there are better ways of doing these things. A lot of that money would be better expended in providing facilities at the other end either to unload those sheep alive in a proper manner, or, preferably from Australia’s point of view, to allow them to be slaughtered in Australia and exported frozen with facilities available at the other end to take them into cold storage.
Another matter relates to the export of Australian primary products. My memory in this matter was jogged by a recent Press statement put out by the Minister for Primary Industry, Mr Sinclair, on 3 March. It is a rather long Press statement. It is an address by the Minister for Primary Industry given at a ceremony to mark the opening of new offices of P.T. Indomilk in Jakarta on Thursday, 3 March of this year. Reading one paragraph will allow me to lead into the matter which I want to explore. In this Press release Mr Sinclair stated:
When my colleage, the Rt Hon. J. D. Anthony, Deputy Prime Minister, represented the Australian Government at the official opening here -
I presume that is in Jakarta- on 3 July, 1 969, in his then capacity as Minister for Primary Industry the plant produced sweetened condensed milk.
For a number of years- I cannot recall how many- the Australian dairy industry has been working in co-operation with a number of companies and governments in Asia in the disposal of Australian dairy products. I suppose it involves milk in various forms to be re-combined, re-combined butter and the other multiplicity of products to which milk from the humble cow can be turned. This matter goes a little bit further. I was a dairy farmer until I came to the Senate. It is very gratifying to see an export market develop for our dairy products but when one hears what can happen at the other end I think one has to take a step back and reconsider some of the things which we might have been trying to do. I suppose that what we have done has been done with a great deal of goodwill. Those of us who have taken any interest in the matter appreciate that in recent years in our society there has been a tendency among mothers to switch from bottle feeding to breast feeding for all sorts of reasons but for different reasons from those which I think currently should apply in underdeveloped countries. At one time it was very fashionable for the mother after the birth of her child, to be told that she could not express milk for all sorts of reasons and that the baby should go onto cows milk. That became the in-thing to do. Latterly there has been better education and a better realisation of the cold hard facts. For instance, if the mother has the baby on the breast she does not have to get out of bed in the cold of the night. She just rolls over, reaches into the bassinet, and pulls the baby into the bed, and there is hot milk on tap.
I was worried by what was said on a program on the ABC last Monday week concerning the importation of milk from developed countries into the Third World and the unfortunate effect that this is having on the mortality rate of infants. It would seem that, as a result of the sophisticated advertising techniques used by companies which have a vested interest in this matter, lactating mothers in underdeveloped countries are being induced to take their babies off the breast and put them on to condensed milk, skim milk powder or full cream powdered milk. Then, due to a lack of education and a lack of hygiene and facilities in those societies, all too often the baby dies because the mother has never been taught that sterilisation of the equipment is extremely important and that there is no point in her taking the baby’s empty bottle to the stinking canal, giving it a rinse, putting the teat back on and giving it to the baby 4 hours later, because that is one way to a short life for her child.
I also heard on this ABC program that often when the mother takes a can of condensed milk from the supermarket or wherever she gets it, she does not understand the technique for its correct preparation. I do not know whether the cans are labelled in the language spoken in the country concerned. They may well be labelled in English, French or German. However, even if they are printed in the vernacular of the country concerned, in these areas there is a large number of illiterate people who would not be able to read what was on the label anyway. We all know how condensed milk breaks down when water is added. It is very difficult to know whether one is making the correct strength. It does appear, from what I heard on the ABC program from a doctor or someone of some standing in this field, that in many instances the mother tends to break down the strenght of the milk too much, resulting in cases of gross malnutrition.
This matter has gone a little further than that. It was raised, I think, somewhere in Europe perhaps 12 months ago. The matter received notoriety because of a criminal libel action taken by a world-wide food and milk company against a group of aid people in Switzerland who pointed an accusing finger at this company as being one of the organisations responsible for this problem. The case still has not been concluded and one wonders what could happen in the meantime. I think this is an unfortunate situation. While this case is being heard thousands of infants in the underdeveloped world could die from the same problem. Later in his speech the Minister for Primary Industry said:
As countries we both recognise the great importance of encouraging enterprise and initiative and the benefits that can flow from enterprises such as P.T. Indomilk to all our people.
As a dairy farmer, I praise the initiatives of the Australian Dairy Produce Board in the past and hopefully of the new organisation, the Australian Dairy Corporation. I am sure that there is not a dairy farmer in Australia who, when he realises what sometimes happens at the other end of the sales system, will want it to continue. I believe that it is up to the new Corporation to look at this matter and make sure that to the best of our ability we do something to overcome the problem. It would appear to me to be obvious that, instead of advertising in a grandiose way on television or in other media the virtues of condensed milk, the Australian Dairy Corporation and the proprietary company involved would spend this money much better on educating mothers in the underdeveloped world in the proper way to handle the product.
The only other matter I want to mention is something which I heard another senator mention this afternoon. A matter that is causing me some problems at the moment is the Government’s ceilings on the Public Service. I have had occasion over the last three or four months to ring a broad spectrum of officers in government departments, both in Canberra and in my own State, to follow up representations which I have made on behalf of constituents. I do not think that I have rung one government department with a complaint that it has been tardy in replying to me and sorting out the problem I have raised without the senior officer to whom I have spoken saying to me firstly: ‘We are sorry, Senator. We apologise. We are so short of staff that we just cannot cope with the work load’. That is a terrible indictment of a government in a country as supposedly sophisticated as ours and in a country which has record unemployment. It illustrates conclusively the hollow shibboleths which were read to us from your chair, Mr President, by Her Majesty. They were not her words; they were put into her mouth by a government which is hypocritical. There is no point in Her Majesty reading the Government’s speech and talking about equality of opportunity when the people in our society who most require help are precluded from getting it because this Government has such a hang-up about the public sector.
The Government seems to want the private sector to do everything and does not seem to realise that in this day and age the public sector is playing and will continue to play a large part in the lives of thousands of citizens in this country. I know that my adversary, Senator Cotton, probably would agree with me because he is a man who seems to have a large heart and a great amount of feeling for the little people in this country. I hope that he will take my message to the Prime Minister and point out that it is no good talking about equality of opportunity while our Public Service is starved of recruits and while the people who have the least opportunity of any sort in our society are the very people who must appeal to the Public Service for some assistance. There is no point in talking about equality of opportunity while our Public Service is starved of recruits and sufficient people to carry out its proper role.
– I too would like to extend a warm welcome to Senator Lewis on his entry to the Senate and to congratulate him on his maiden speech. I hope that he has a long and enjoyable stay in the Senate. I have noticed that in both Houses of Parliament during the Address-in-Reply debate many members have been attracted to speak on the subject of unemployment. I recognise that after inflation unemployment is the greatest problem confronting Australia today. Many figures and interpretations of those figures have been presented to us. But I have been quite unimpressed by the fact that most of the figures have been put out of context into a political presentation and that many of them have been slanted to suit an argument. The figures have been used as a method of attack far more than as a means of trying to assist those who are involved. I will make some effort to see that the figures available from various sources are put together and produced in context. Most of the figures are produced with connotations that are political, economic or sociological but seldom are tied in together. I do not wish to engage in an argument about any of the figures. Certainly I have not entered the debate to be provocative about them. I have no intention of placing any blame for the present situation, but I wish to state the position and to indicate, amongst other things, the total inseparability of the figures relaing to employment, education and immigration. Hopefully, I will come to one or two conclusions and leave some aspects for honourable senators to think about. I would like to try to place these figures into some sort of context.
I start with immigration. As we all know, many migrants have come to Australia since the war. There have been a great many successes amongst them in the way they have settled into the community and the way they have become so much part of the Australian way of life. Unfortunately, there is still a large majority of migrants who came to Australia and immediately moved into what are normally regarded as being the lower socio-economic groups. They came to Australia where they were pleased to get work. They took what work was available and they appreciated it. However, in many cases they finished up working on the hydro-electric schemes in Tasmania or the Snowy Mountains, working on roads and in mines, as cleaners, builders’ labourers and so on. While many migrants were assimilated, many of them were not.
The figures available now would indicate that approximately 40 per cent of the total number of unemployed persons were not born in Australia. Many of them are unskilled or can be classified as having lower skills. There is still a percentage whose grip of the language is less than good. We are often told that a means of combating the present situation is not to bring in any more migrants. Even now in a time of high unemployment the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs (Mr MacKellar) produced a list on 3 March 1977 containing over 120 occupations for which immigrants may enter Australia and obtain employment. These vacancies are not in all States and they are not in many cases completely open. Immigrants must have a firm job offer before they can come to Australia, but there are over 120 classifications for which migration is possible. They are not all impossible classifications. They include wood machinists, motor mechanics, bricklayers, tilers, glaziers, panel beaters and stenographers on the one hand and chiropodists, orthodontists, optometrists, psychologists and other such qualified people on the other hand.
– Yes, chefs are included. The reason for this is that there are many occupations in which Australians do not choose to work. There are also some technical jobs for which we do not wish to train. We have to look at these positions in an overall way to make sure that we try to encourage as many of these people as we can. We also must remember in the present employment situation that since 1970 376 109 migrants have come to Australia. That is the total figure for net immigration into Australia. Out of these migrants, over 100 000 people have been placed in the Australian work force. More of the 376 109 people are being placed all the time.
I turn to deal with education. I am not one of those people who is not terribly satisfied with the education system that we have today. I believe that education is a mixture of schooling, training and preparation. I do not see education as the end. I see it only as the means to the end. I am not satisfied that it is sufficiently fitting children for the opportunities that society provides. I am not sure that it creates good expectations. It may well create expectations but they may be expectations that we cannot fulfil. I think that in many cases people are being educated beyond the limits of what is available. I do not think that we look at education as a way of preparing and training as much as we should. For those educators who say that this is not their job, I would ask them to rethink their position and their responsibility to society as a whole.
In 1964, 38 per cent- over one-third- of all 1 6-year olds were still at school. By 1 9 70 this had increased to 55 per cent- substantially over half the children. In 1964, 17 per cent of all 17-year olds were still at school. By 1970, the percentage was over 30 per cent. In the recent report of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development the comment was made that although children stay longer at school they receive no meaningful vocational marketable skills during that extra period of learning. I believe that if we are to keep children at school for an extra 2 years we must have them leaving school with more chance of fitting into society as it is today. I am not satisfied that in many cases they are leaving school with what I suppose we would say is the discipline of work which is necessary to justify one ‘s place in the sort of society we have. I do not know about their attitude to life in some cases. I do not know whether the world owes us a living the way we wish. I do not know whether the teachers can give them what they want. I do not see that the world is an oyster. It may be a limpet. Perhaps the goodies are in the middle and all you have to do is to crack the limpet and get them out.
It has often been said that education is a system run by academics to produce academics. If that is the case it is totally wrong. I do not say that it is the case, but I think that we must make sure that it goes a lot further than that. I think that education has to fit children for the life that society has to offer. This is changing all the time. There are various schemes in practice in other places that I believe we could use productively in Australia. I think that a system of part education and part work is still most appropriate. I think more emphasis can be placed on this. Young people can see the value of what they are doing in the context of why they are doing it. I think so many young people do not appreciate why they are at school or the advantages of being there.
I was interested to read in the local Press on 5 March that Senator Carrick said that further education would be made an equal partner with the universities and colleges of advanced education. Technical and further education has always been the lame child. I think that if we follow through that sort of a statement we will get real advantages. We have been told always that universities are the ultimate in education. This is definitely not so. I see the colleges of advanced education and technical colleges as being at least equal to universities. Mr Ken Jones, the Secretary of the Department of Education recently produced an article on the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development investigation. He made some excellent points about what schools should be doing and how the change from school to work can be best coped with. There is a lot of ways to do this. If the Department is prepared to go ahead with the results of the summary we will have a lot better system in which to work. The community at large must broaden the term ‘education’ and also, I repeat, work on the fact that there is no second class education. All education is equal and first class.
I go back to the question of expectation. I do not know much of it can be supported. I do not think that society can provide everybody with exactly the job they want, in exactly the position they want and under the circumstances in which they want to undertake it. I think we have been through a period of full employment when jobs were rightly easy to get and a lot of choice was available. I do not consider that as being entirely normal. I do not know that many people go through life doing all the things that they would like to do. I believe, particularly in the younger years, that the most important thing a person can do is to get a job. Once he has a job he can then see about changing it, if he wishes, or making it what he wants.
I think one of the big neglects is that we are not educating people sufficiently for their leisure. We hear of young people suffering from boredom and getting into trouble. This is because they have never been taught to do anything constructive with their other life- their leisure life. I have been lucky in that I have always been able to have 2 lives. I have had a working life and a nonworking life. I have had considerable enjoyment from my non-working life. I know that people such as shift workers think that their life is when they are not working and that their work is when they are accumulating what is necessary to live the way they want to live. I think that we are not doing nearly enough to see that people have something in which they can interest themselves.
If they have an interest they can then do a job that is available while thinking of their real interest.
There is a tendency in places to talk about propping people up, putting them into jobs and keeping them there whether or not they are performing any function. I do not think that that is good for the economy, for the country and in particular for the people involved. Mr Joy expressed this aspect very adequately in the summary of the report on the Tasmanian railways. He said:
It will not help Tasmania, Tasmanian transport users, the remaining railway employees or ultimately, the persons actually concerned, if Tasmanian Railways is to go on hiring people to do unnecessary work, or work which uses value at only a fraction of its costs … To maintain employment on Tasmanian Railways solely to reduce unemployment would be to make an implicit decision that the output from the positions concerned, which rail users demonstrably value at only a fraction of their cost, is the most productive use that can be found for the persons concerned. We cannot accept this; we are sure that a creation of public or private sector employment for an equivalent number elsewhere will be of far greater benefit to Tasmania, both immediately and in the longer term.
They are fine words; we hope the concept becomes possible. We have to work to produce something along those lines. We have to remember that we just cannot keep people doing something for the sake of doing it. I will come back to that a little later.
The technology of work generally has changed a lot. Apprenticeships have always been up and down. There have been times when apprentices have filled all positions advertised. There have been times when they have not. There have been times when applications have numbered more than vacancies. It is rather disconcerting to see that the figure of 42 000 apprentices in 1973-74 dropped to 35 000 in 1974-75 and to 32 000 in 1975-76. Industry and business, whenever they are in a holding situation, always slow on training first. It is most unfortunate. It creates a vacuum and as the economy picks up the problems are just about as great as they were before.
An article in the Australian of 3 March under the heading ‘The Skill Famine in a crazy case ‘ points out the problems that go with this type of a situation. It points out that a time of run-down training has to be maintained for when the economy picks up. The Australian of 4 March stated that the number of tradesmen in the work force had fallen by as many as 156 000 since 1971. It also stated that the report from the Australian Apprenticeship Advisory Committee warned that a shortage of skilled workers would have serious long term effects on business and the economy. I think we all accept that. I do no more at this stage than to implore all business and employers to take advantage of the government schemes that are available for the training of apprentices. We must have more apprentices than we have been getting.
I was interested today to receive advice from the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations (Mr Street) that the National Employment and Training scheme which in January 1976 was accommodating 7300 persons was accommodating by the end of February 1977, 15 500 persons. That is a very valuable increase and will do a lot to get the system started. It is one of a variety of things which hopefully we will be able to use. Taking a more positive approach I have also had a look at employment. In 1970, 5 351 000 people were in the work force. In 1976, 6 1 15 000 people were in the work force. This is an increase of 764 000 people- threequarters of a million people. I also found that 197 100 people had 2 jobs. They represent 3.3 per cent of the total work force, so that if they did not have 2 jobs that figure would immediately represent the equivalent of 57 per cent of the current unemployed. The number of working couples has increased from between 250 000 and 300 000 in 4 years, on the best method of deduction that I could come up with on the working figures, until now over 50 per cent of families in Australia are 2-income families. I do not object to that; it is not up to me to do so. I am not passing judgment, but I do think that as a community we have to consider all the moral, sociological and economic questions that are implied. On the last figures that I have been able to obtain, there were approximately 3 800 000 working family units in Australia and over 2 million of them were 2-income families. That is difficult to ignore at a time when unemployment is high. As I said, I do not object to that. It is the community at large which must look to it.
In periods of stability and prosperity we tend to have full employment and to increase our immigration, but we also go through periods when we increase the school leaving age and reduce the age for retirement. If one looks at the patterns in the post-war period, it will be found that such changes occurred to fit the circumstances. They are not happening now. I do not really believe that we can automatically increase the school leaving age to twenty or reduce the retirement age to fifty. At the same time, university enrolments in 1951, which was the beginning of the only period I have been able to get on a 20-year basis, were 32 000, and in 1971 that figure had increased by 4 times to 123 800. 1 am not sure that those people who enrolled had any expectations at the time they commenced their university courses, and that concerns me greatly.
If we consider the employment disaster period between June 1974 and January 1975, when unemployment rose from 79 000 to a new plateau of 3 1 2 000, we were hit at a time when the country was just not ready for it. No preparations had been made and there was no idea, in either the short or long term, of what was going to be done about it. It has taken a couple of years under both governments for us to consider the situation. Industry, education and government alike were similarly caught. We have to accept that such a position was not envisaged by any government at any time. Everybody is working on it and we are still hopeful of coming up with some sort of solution. This is an age of skills. The unskilled went and machines came in, with things like checkout counters, as the wage explosion took over. Generally speaking, persons possessing job skills are untouched by the current employment crisis, and I quote that statement from an article entitled ‘Dole Bludger’ which appeared in the National Times on 1 March. In that article Mr Brewer, who is a Commonwealth Employment Service man, said that from his experience in a survey that had been done, 83 per cent of the unemployed had earned less than $105 net in their last job. The article went on to say that to be unemployed is to be young, a migrant, or to have few saleable skills, and I think that is the area which we all understand and on which we must continue to work.
During that period between June 1974 and January 1975 we went through the process of an increase in junior wage levels, equal pay, 4 weeks annual leave, long service leave, 100 per cent workers compensation, ITA per cent holiday loading, and so on. I am not against any of those things; they are all good. But I think we should have taken about 20 years to bring them in if we were to bring them in without the sort of disruption that has occurred. They are all good, but the country, the community, industry and government were not ready.
That takes me back again to the question of productivity. We cannot have what is not there. We cannot take out what does not exist. On the question of productivity, the Parliamentary Library has provided me with figures for selected countries. The latest figures available were for 1 974, and I am told that Australia ‘s relative position has declined a little since then. Of the 1 1 countries shown- Canada, the United States of America, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Germany, The Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom- where the gross domestic product was divided by the labour force to produce the gross domestic product per member of the labour force, Australia rated seventh. The figures ranged from as high as $US 1 1 ,88 1 per head to as little as $US4,769, and Australia was $US6,923. With the high standard we have set, our level of productivity is struggling to support the rest of the figures. I think that the greatest effort we can make now is to try to bring productivity up to the level of the other factors that go with it. I am not saying that wages are too high; I am saying that productivity is too low.
Where do we go from here? I have been reading the newspapers to try to find people who can produce solutions to the problem. In the National Times, Mr P. P. McGuiness under the headline ‘The Solution to our Economic Problems’ came up with a suggestion, but he qualified it by saying:
There is a solution to the problem- but it is politically unacceptable.
His solution was:
He believes that we should tax 2-income families sufficiently to support the non-income families. But as he said, is that acceptable? Who is going to bring it about? I did a quick calculation, and on the basis of 2 million 2-income families and 350 000 unemployed, that solution would represent a tax of approximately 11 lA per cent on the 2-income families. Another suggestion was made in the Australian on 3 March under the heading ‘Five ways to provide jobs for our potential workforce’. I will read these suggestions because I think they are well worth inclusion in the record:
I would certainly support that, and I know that the Government has been looking seriously at ways in which those sorts of jobs can be included. Several speakers in both chambers have suggested that many people who are receiving government benefits at present would like to do some work for the amount of money they receive.
Number (2) in the article related to a ‘Reduction in working hours and /or increase in annual holidays ‘. It was suggested that it may well be possible to divide work more evenly among people. A lot of people are caught up on what I suppose we would call the 40-hour week syndrome who do not really want to work 40 hours. But no provision is made in our current work program for people who want to work, say, 20 hours a week and have 5 half-days playing bowls, watching the cricket, doing the gardening, or building a yacht. I have pages of objections about what would happen with workers compensation, holiday pay, superannuation and all those sorts of things. But I believe that such a project is reasonable and that with goodwill on the part of all people a solution could be found.
Plenty of people- shop assistants, teachers, even the current young people who have quite limited expectations and modest requirementswould be perfectly happy legitimately to work for less than 40 hours a week and to receive commensurate remuneration. But I do not think I would like to go to an employment office and say that I was looking for a job but wanted to work only 20 hours a week. I think a lot more could be made of people working only 20 hours a week. Such a system could be introduced into supermarkets and in plenty of other places. I suggest that it is another matter that could be looked at.
No. (3) in the article relates to ‘Fiscal measures’, such as the abolition of payroll tax, progressive taxation on joint household incomes and higher tax on overtime earnings. I do not know how popular some of these suggestions would be either, but I believe that they are all suggestions that ought to be considered seriously at a time like this. I think they have to be taken into account. Incidentally, the article to which I am referring appeared in ‘Forum’ in the Australian of 3 March and was written by Dick Klugman, a member of the other place. The fifth point in the article states:
Alternatively, we can accept the fact that, say, five to six per cent of the potential work force will not get work. If our population contains only about that proportion of people preferring idleness on unemployment benefits to work at much higher incomes, then maybe we should let them choose.
Mr Klugman concluded the article with probably the best sentence of all in saying:
It is certainly high time all of us were aware of the alternatives and began discussing them rationally.
I think we all would agree with that. I certainly support the general way in which he has approached the subject. We are in a position that our society not only created but also encouraged. Whilst little blame can be placed on anybody, responsibility rests with everybody. I think we should start by educating the educators. We have to forget the snobbery about first and second class education. We have to remember that education is a means and not an end. Too often it has happened the other way around. The community has to regard work as work and workers as workers. Too often people have been interested in getting a ticket to hang on the wall which states that they are, say, a bachelor or arts when they would have been better to have had a ticket to hang on the wall stating that they were a qualified panel beater. We have to look at getting schools to work 2 shifts a day. We have to educate the older members of the community and train the younger members. As a community we have to consider all the moral, sociological and economic aspects of the work situation today as well as considering the purely political consequences of the work pattern.
I think we have to go back to a few of the old fashioned ideas. We have to consider the work ethic as a basis and to consider that at the bottom of prosperity is productivity. We all have to be proud of work and proud to produce. We have to realise that the country gains strength from development. Already we can see a slowing down in the hand-out mentality. I think we are getting over the old printing press psychosis towards which we were heading. Progress is slow and it is steady, but we are on the road. I think to talk of unemployment is a very negative approach. I urge us to be more positive and think of employment, talk about employment and all work towards employment.
– The Senate is nearing the end of the debate on the Speech that was delivered here on 8 March by Her Majesty the Queen. It is a miracle that a debate has gone on for so many days and included so many speeches on a document that covers only 3V4 pages. Therefore, honourable senators on the Opposition side have very little enthusiasm in taking a very great interest in this particular document. I want to mention one or two references in the document, mainly because they represent more or less a repetition of the election promises made by the present Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) on 27 November 1975. 1 shall read from the second page of the Speech we are debating, which states:
My Government is committed to assisting people overcome poverty and disadvantage, and is giving priority to assisting those most in need in a manner increasing their choice, dignity and self-respect.
That is similar in wording and in intent to what the Prime Minister said 15 or 16 months ago, when he was quoted as saying:
We will ensure that there is a basic level of security below which no one can involuntarily fall.
The Prime Minister was quoted as having said later:
Particular stress will be placed on meeting the needs of the disadvantaged, including the handicapped, the isolated, migrants and Aboriginal children.
I think we ought to examine the performance of the Government in these 14 months and see what actually has eventuated regarding poverty in Australia. I speak on this matter in this debate because it is a matter with which I am very conversant, having lived in poverty most of my life and having been a recipient of unemployment benefits in the depression years. Probably I am the last senator in this place to have been in receipt of unemployment benefits. I refer to 1965 when I was illegally sacked from the position of elected secretary of the South Australian branch of the Australian Workers Union. At that stage I was forced to receive unemployment benefits in order to keep my wife and 2 sons.
Poverty affects a lot of people throughout Australia. Although this present Government talks about relieving poverty, it does very little about it. Last night Senator Walters, in her contribution to the debate, said that the Government is increasing pensions. I shall refer only to the standard rate of pension because that is the rate that usually is used when comparisons are made with the cost of living increase. Senator Walters said that the standard rate of pension will be increased by $3.60 a week, bringing the total amount to $47.10 a week, in May this year. All that means is that the present Government has continued on a program which was introduced by the Labor Government. If the Labor Government’s policy of raising the standard rate of pension to 25 per cent of average weekly earnings had been maintained, pensioners on the standard rate of pension would have been receiving $48 a week instead of the $47.10 that they will receive in May this year. I made that calculation on the basis of the last figure issued for average weekly earnings, which was $192. Twenty-five per cent of that amount is roughly $48 a week. In this regard the Government has done very little to alleviate the plight of pensioners.
In Australia 1 570 000 people are in receipt of social welfare payments. I think the present Government has failed dismally in not keeping pension rates in line with the cost of living increase that we have witnessed over the last 15 months. During the Budget session last year the Government made a great noise about how it would have the Social Services Act amended so that pensioners would receive automatically 2 adjustments a year in keeping with the cost of living increases. That means only that pension rates are a long way behind increases in prices. I refer to the last 2 consumer price index increases- 2.2 per cent in the September quarter and 6 per cent in the December quarter. If those increases are added to the possible increase of at least 4 per cent in the March quarter, it is apparent that although there has been an increase in the cost of living of more than 10 per cent pensioners have to wait at least 6 months to receive that increase. That is not alleviating poverty; it is extending it. It is adversely affecting those people in the community who should have automatic adjustments to their pensions. Today a petition was read in the Senate asking that this Government give consideration to an automatic adjustment of pensions so that pensioners will receive an increase in the first pay period after the quarterly cost of living increase has been announced.
The present Government has forgotten about other areas of poverty. One of these is supporting fathers. Changes in Australia suggest that the number of children being cared for by their fathers alone is increasing. The changing roles of men and women in our society make it less unthinkable than it once was for a man to contemplate trying to bring up a family on his own. A generation ago it would have been almost out of the question for a man to try to look after his children by himself. Now, many men regard it as their duty to do so, if faced with the responsibility. This trend is likely to continue, and I think it will increase because more and more mothers are deserting their children. Generations ago it was very rare for a mother to desert young children, particularly those of school or pre-school age. Now it has become fairly common. A deserted father should have the same entitlements to social welfare payments as a deserted mother with dependent children has. Recently there has been much more discussion about fathers who have to bring up a young family on their own. I hope that the Government will consider this matter during the Budget session this year.
The Minister for Social Security, Senator Guilfoyle, who referred to this matter while the Labor Party was in government, has failed to do anything now that she is the Minister responsible for it. I hope that benefits equivalent to those being paid to supporting mothers will flow to supporting fathers. Supporting fathers also should be entitled to other concessions. They should have some assistance in the form of a taxation concession for children. They should be entitled also to receive the same benefits as supporting mothers, deserted wives or widows receive and the pensioner medical service entitlement cards which give other concessions granted by the various States. I hope that the
Government will give consideration to that suggestion. I expect that we will see an innovation from this Government in order to make some genuine attempt to alleviate the poverty it refers to so often but does so little about. I also should like to see some provision whereby employers can make arrangements with employees who are supporting fathers so that they can work hours suitable to their requirements and so that they will be able to look after their children and not have to put them, as they now do, into a home or some State institution. We know that a supporting father has no entitlements. He is not eligible for unemployment benefits because he has to accept employment when it is offered. He certainly is not entitled to any other social security benefit, unless it is the special benefit which is fairly rare and very difficult to obtain.
Sitting suspended from 5.45 to 8 p.m.
-Prior to the suspension of the sitting I was speaking about the plight and poverty of some of the sole male parents in Australia who are trying to continue to support young children and, at the same time, to remain in employment. The reports of the Henderson Inquiry into Poverty stated that 17 1/2 per cent of sole male parent families were living well below poverty level. We must appreciate that the poverty line adopted in those reports is now unrealistic. The percentage would be much greater.
In its pre-election speeches, this Government promised a new deal for supporting fathers but nothing has been done. Government departments are not geared to assist the sole male parent who comes home and suddenly finds that he must care for his children alone. I mentioned earlier in my speech that this is not an unusual happening. Departments have to adjust in order to assist these people in the same manner that they now assist supporting mothers, widows and other recipients of social welfare payments.
A woman who is left to care for her children has any number of avenues to turn to for assistancenot necessarily financial assistance, but emotional assistance. She can go to a community welfare department or the Department of Social Security, but for the sole male parent there is very little assistance offered. I am not saying that the women who find themselves in this situation are not entitled to have someone or some department to turn to. I am simply saying that the same facilities should be made available for men in similar circumstances. If a woman goes to a community welfare department or the Department of Social Security, she is told of the pensions to which she is entitled not only for herself but also for her dependent children. There are various concessions to which she is entitled including dental assistance and other forms of assistance to which I previously referred.
However, the sole male parent who would like to provide his children with a home perhaps would like to provide them also with a substitute mother until he sorts out his affairs and emotions. Most of all, he wants to feel that he can still play a useful part in society. If a sole male parent employs a housekeeper-and frequently we find that he employs someone who has experience with children or has a child or children of her own- and she is in receipt of a supporting mothers’ benefit or a widows’ pension, her pension could be placed in jeopardy. If inspectors from the Department of Social Security make inquiries and decide, for reasons unknown, that there is a domestic relationship, the supporting mother or widow then loses her entitlement. The sooner this Government takes a realistic look at the problems encountered by sole parents and endeavours to give these people some advantage instead of trying to disadvantage them constantly, the better the country will be.
There are a number of States which now have supporting fathers’ associations formed by groups of supporting fathers not only to fight for justice but also to provide avenues of assistance to those who may find themselves in similar situations. Those associations are providing moral assistance, if nothing more. If a man comes home and finds himself in a sole parent situation, he has somewhere to turn. He can telephone such an association, talk about his problems and get advice on what he should do. That is their purpose. These associations are taking over the work and role of government departments. I do not think it is good enough that this responsibility should be left to those associations. They should not bear the whole responsibility in respect of either a deserted wife or a deserted husband. Opposite my home in Adelaide there is a Parents Without Partners centre. This does a magnificent job in providing entertainment and looking after the children of those people to whom I have referred.
There is another area where poverty exists. The Government has still failed to recognise or to make any adjustments to the rates that are being received in this area at present. I refer to the dependant’s allowance which is paid to all social welfare recipients with a dependent child or children. Whether a recipient is an age pensioner, an invalid pensioner, a supporting mother or a widow an amount of $7.50 a week is paid for each dependent child. That amount has not been adjusted since this Government took office. If we look at the last 3 or 4 increases in the consumer price index we find that in 1976 the CPI increased by 14.7 per cent. A low estimate of the consumer price index movement for the present March quarter would be an increase of at least another 4 per cent. The CPI increases last year and in the first quarter of this year show a rise of not less than 18.7 per cent in the cost of living, but no adjustment whatsoever has been made to the dependant’s allowance paid to pensioners. If the dependant’s allowance was indexed as the pension itself is indexed, an increase of $1.40 a week would result. This would mean that any pensioner with dependent children would receive $8.90 a child a week instead of the present amount of only $7.50 a week. The last area to which I refer is unemployment. I realise that my colleagues on this side of the chamber have also referred to this subject. As it is mentioned in Her Majesty’s Speech, I think I also should make some comments on this matter. The Speech states:
My Government’s economic program is designed to overcome unemployment.
That is the same catchcry we heard prior to the election in 1975. We heard it throughout 1976 and we are hearing it again in 1977. I often wonder how long this will continue before we see any real effort to reduce unemployment in Australia. Meanwhile, unemployment is increasing. At present I think there are 255 000 people in Australia receiving unemployment benefits. No change has been made to improve or to increase their allowances other than the twice yearly adjustments that we are told will be automatic from now on. However, those 2 automatic adjustments do not apply to unemployed persons under 18 years of age. These people have had no increase since the Labor Government was removed from office in November 1975.
Where a workman has been injured and has been on weekly compensation payments for a long period and the weekly payments are stopped and action is taken for a lump sum settlement, we find that that person invariably goes on sickness benefits. We find then that the lump sum settlement received for the disability caused through the injury while he was in employment has to be repaid. He has to repay all the sickness benefits he received during the time of his incapacity. To my mind this is another hardship placed on somebody permanently injured. He could be crippled for life yet he has to repay the whole of the amount received during that period in the form of sickness benefits.
Only this week I had a case referred to me involving an employee who was injured. He received a lump sum settlement after 3 years of argument before the court between the insurance company and counsel representing him. Now he has been asked to pay back over $8,000 that he received in the form of sickness benefits during the time of his incapacity. There is an anomaly in the Social Services Act. If that same employee forgot about sickness benefits and applied for the unemployment benefit he would not be required to repay any of the unemployment benefit received during his incapacity even if it lasted for the whole period. He also could go on to the invalid pension during his incapacity and again he would not be required to repay the pension payments he received during that incapacity.
– But he would not qualify for unemployment benefit would he? He has to be fit and capable of working.
-Often the employee is fit enough to return to the work force but if he did so it would jeopardise his claim for a lump sum settlement. Delay in settlement is no fault of the employee. It comes about from the wrangling and jostling that takes place between lawyers representing the employers and lawyers representing the employees. Instead of a case being settled 6 months or 9 months after the weekly payments have stopped it often goes on for 12 months or 2 years. The case I referred to has gone on for 3 years. Therefore the employee has to rely on sickness benefits to justify a claim that he has a permanent incapacity and so that he will get the maximum entitlement under workers compensation. I believe that the Government should look into this area. There is an anomaly which should be remedied. I hope that some measure will be introduced to remedy anomalies during the budget session this year.
We notice that the high rate of unemployment is increasing each year that this Government is in office. The figures in February were the highest since the Great Depression. Yet the Government keeps on calling for wage restraint so that the unions will not at least get cost of living adjustments applied to normal wages. At the same time as the Government is asking unions to reduce their applications for increases in wages and saying that they are not entitled to cost of living increases we find that company profits are increasing alarmingly. I have a few figures here that I would like to read into the Hansard record. Woolworths profits rose by 33.5 per cent to $23.5m in 1 976. The profits of the Coles organisation increased by 34.7 per cent to $16m during the last half of 1976. Other examples of huge increases in profits that have been taking place while the Government has been asking the unions to exercise wage restraint are as follows: The profits of the Tasmanian Hardware and Engineering organisation rose by 49 per cent, those of the Nile textiles organisation were up 78. 1 per cent, those of W. C. Penfolds Holdings rose by 20.4 per cent, those of National Consolidated rose by 41.9 per cent. Overall, during 1976 all companies and industries increased their profits by at least 5 per cent. Therefore I do not see how this Government can expect the unions to practice or accept any wage restraint while at the same time company profits are increasing higher and higher all the time.
The only other matter to which I want to refer is the third paragraph on page 3 of Her Majesty’s Speech in which she said:
In the area of industrial relations, one of vital importance to the economic and social well-being of the Australian community, my Government will bring down legislation to protect the rights of individuals and the community, and establish an Industrial Relations Bureau.
The unions already have seen through the veneer of this attempt to hoodwink the people of Australia. The Government is trying to put the blame for the economic mess it has got the country into on to the trade union movement. We do not know what this industrial relations bureau will do but we know enough to realise that the Government’s intention is to take from its own shoulders the blame for the failure of its economic measures. It will try to place responsibility for the inefficiency of a lot of industries, through lack of supervision and so on, on to the trade union movement. This Government now realises that it has no material and no measures left. It is bankrupt of ideas to try to reduce inflation or unemployment. Inflation this year will be at the rate of at least 14 per cent or 15 per cent. In February Australia had its highest unemployment since the Great Depression and the inflation rate was running as high or nearly as high as it was in 1951 and 1952. When we of the Labor Party were in government we were often reminded that the inflation rate in Australia had never been so high.
– That is right.
-It is not right. On many occasions Senator McLaren has quoted the figures and has had them incorporated in Hansard. They show that in 195 1-52 the inflation rate in Australia was over 24 per cent. The lie that the then Opposition put forward when we were in government has now been exposed. We have noticed that supporters of the present Government refer to 1951-52 and say that inflation now is still less than it was in 1951-52. So it ought to be. Nowhere in Her Majesty’s Speech do we see anything about which anyone in Australia would be enthusiastic. It refers to no measures that will overcome the economic mess that this country is in today. I hope that the Government will not make rash promises about alleviating poverty but that in future it will take some action. I hope that in the areas to which I have referred some action will be taken.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Davidson)- I call Senator Chaney, the Government Whip.
Government senators- Hear, hear!
– I am encouraged both by the fact that I have a full hour before me and by the cries of Hear, hear’ of my colleagues. I shall now settle into the debate. I listened with great interest to the speaker who preceded me, Senator Donald Cameron. I was very pleased to hear him make a plea for supporting fathers which echoed a very eloquent plea made in the other place last week by the honourable member for Perth, Mr Ross McLean. I think it is quite clear from statements which have been made by Mr Chipp when he spoke for these Parties and by Senator Guilfoyle since she assumed her portfolio that there is a great deal of sympathy in the Government for the removal of the present discrimination which exists in favour of single mothers as against single or supporting fathers. I join with Senator Cameron in saying to the Government that I hope that the Budget will permit it to look at this anomaly and to take some steps to relieve the position of the many supporting fathers in the community.
It is worth noting that we have seen a considerable social change in Australia recently. In what male chauvinists might have called ‘the good old days’ husbands, in the main, deserted their wives. Although many wives were dissatisfied with their husbands in one respect or another, they seldom took the step of leaving. Over the last few years that position has changed. Now it is quite common for women to leave their husbands, and often to leave their husbands with the children. This has given rise to a social problem of quite different dimension from that which applied in years past. Our system simply makes no provision for such fathers. It is an anomaly. I am sure that the Government will move to remove it as soon as Budget conditions permit. I hope, notwithstanding the stringency of the Budget, that some attempt will be made to iron out that anomaly.
Another anomaly to which I shall refer briefly and for which the Minister showed some sympathy is the position of blind pensioners. The anomaly with respect to blind pensioners is that they receive a tax free pension until they attain the normal pensionable age; but, they having attained that age, the pension then becomes part of their taxable income. So we have the odd position that the youthful blind receive a tax free benefit while the aged blind receive a benefit which is taxable. I think that has to be recognised as an anomalous situation. Clearly, to remove the anomaly would require further burdens on the Budget. Even though new programs might have to be put aside and, as I will be discussing later, existing programs might have to be streamlined and made more efficient and less costly to deliver, I hope that there will be some room to move in the field of anomalies.
I was a little surprised that Senator Cameron set about attacking the recent recovery in profits. 1 think that recovery in profits is something which would be welcomed by many other spokesmen for his Party. I think it was acknowledged by the Australian Labor Party in the dying months of its government that the falling share of the national income which was taken by profits was a serious economic problem. If we want jobs for the unemployed, the position simply has to be that people who are providing jobs are making a profit. The restoration, to some extent, of the profitability of private industry which has been achieved in the first 1 5 months of this Government is one of the signs that the economic policy of the Government is succeeding. I would have thought that honourable senators opposite would have welcomed that situation as an indicator that they can expect a better employment situation in the future. Certainly, the private sector, which after all is the major employer in Australia, will not take up the slack of the unemployed if it cannot do so at a profit. I hope that the profit recovery will continue and that it will bring in its wake further investment and further jobs for those who unfortunately, at the moment, do not have them.
I also was saddened by Senator Cameron’s comments about the Industrial Relations Bureau, although it is not unexpected that Labor spokesmen will seek to beat us around the ears about that measure as being repressive. I remind the Senate of the unhappy history of labour relations not only in this country but also in England. I remind honourable senators of the time when Mr Wilson came into government and put before the people of England in place of strife a policy which would produce a new deal in labour relations. He totally failed in that regard. The policy was put in the drawer within 2 years of his Government taking office. Governments in the United Kingdom have totally failed to solve the problem of unions regarding themselves as being above the law as we have failed to solve that problem in this country. If the Industrial Relations Bureau is able to impose some semblance of order in a field where, too often, the rule of law plays no part at all, then I for one will welcome it as a strengthening of democracy in Australia. I do not see it as an instrument of repression. I see it as an instrument of freedom which might help to give people some freedom to live within the law as they are entitled to do in Australia.
I join with practically every other senator who has spoken in this debate in welcoming the contribution made by Senator Austin Lewis. I do not feel experienced enough to pass judgment on his speech in the way in which that has been done by most of my colleagues. I merely say that I join with all other senators in welcoming him to this place. I admired the relaxed way in which he delivered his speech and the unpretentious way in which he presented it. I thought that the way in which he delivered it showed that he was not overawed by this place but that he had a very strong sense of what might be achieved by being here. I look forward to working with him and to hearing him participate not only in debates in this place but also in the deliberations of our Party. I was very interested in a number of the contributions made by my colleagues on this side of the Senate. I was a little disappointed in some of the remarks of Senator Steele Hall. I thought he was somewhat gloomier that I would have been on the success of what we call our federalism policy. I think it is very easy at the moment to read the newspapers and to see that various State governments are getting excited about whether the States are getting enough road funds and other matters which are of great importance to the States. I would not join Senator Steele Hall in saying:
I urge the Government to be more explicit in the face of the reality that this Federal Government is finding itself in the position of disciplinarian of the States more than it is providing devolution of power.
I shall spend a few minutes in disagreeing with those remarks and in supporting what was in the Queen’s Speech, where she stated:
Steps have been taken to reverse the trend towards the concentration of power in the hands of the Commonwealth Government.
The first thing to which I think we can point with considerable satisfaction is the renewed freedom of local government in Australia. We had a lot of development of help for local government under the Labor Government. I think it would be churlish not to acknowledge that. A notable feature of the assistance which was granted to local government was, firstly, that is was granted through a Commonwealth instrumentality, namely, the Commonwealth Grants Commission and, secondly, that there was a tendency to impose great conditions on the receipt of those moneys. All of us who were in the field during those years- that includes most honourable senators in the chamberwould be familiar with the complaints of local government during that period about the bureaucratic burden which they were carrying because of the manner in which Labor set about assisting them. Of course, Labor’s view of its relationship to local government is completely different from ours. The difference was highlighted by the referendum proposals which were put before the people in 1974, when the then Labor Government sought to add to the Constitution section 96A which would have given the Commonwealth the power to make direct conditional grants to local government in the same way as section 96 permits it to make direct conditional grants to the States.
We all know the history of section 96 grants. We all know that they have been used to reduce substantially the freedom and the discretion of the States to make their own policies and to spend money in the way they think fit. It was quite clear from the referendum that a similar pattern was to be developed, as it was quite clear from what was actually done by the then Government that that was the pattern it wanted. It wanted a situation where there was general policy control from Canberra and, at the same time, a grant of assistance but a fettered sort of assistance which left very little discretion in local government. We for our part have made substantially increased free funds available to local government through the Grants Commission with no strings attached and I am pleased to say that great pleasure has been expressed by many local authorities I have visited since those grants came through last year, because the new payments from the Commonwealth through the Grants Commission were not made on a conditional basis. Local authorities themselves have determined the priorities which they think appropriate for their local areas and I see that as a substantial step towards a devolution of power. I mark it as something about which I feel particularly satisfied.
Less emphasis has been placed on section 96 grants and it has been interesting at question time to hear Labor Party senators berating the Minister assisting the Prime Minister in Federal Affairs (Senator Carrick) because there is less emphasis by this Government on section 96 grants. Of course there is. It is in our federalism policy that this is what we intend. We do not want to increase the areas where the Commonwealth is dictating to the States how they must spend funds. So if there is a reduction in the emphasis on section 96 grants I point to it as a positive step in the right direction. I refer now to the Bailey report which is what it is stated to be, that is, a report and not any particular action by the Government. The fact that it was commissioned and the terms under which it was commissioned represent the potential for the greatest single step towards the greater devolution of power in Australia than we have seen to date. The terms of reference laid down by the Government when the task force was commissioned state:
Against the background of the Government’s Federalism policy and its concern at the proliferation and overlap of Commonwealth services and programs in the health, welfare and community development fields, the Task Force shall examine and report on:
It goes on but I think that is enough.
– Do you agree with their recommendations?
-Let me come to the recommendations. Do not take my stride; I am reading my speech in contravention of Standing Orders. These were the terms of reference given to the Bailey task force when it was sent out to do its job. The next thing I draw the Senate’s attention to is the way in which that task force worked. Instead of a group of boffins sitting here in Canberra drawing up a grand scheme in isolation which it could then seek to impose upon the
States, the Bailey task force took the quite unprecedented step- unprecedented when we think of the way in which the previous Government tackled problems- of actually going to the States, to the people who would be expected to make these programs work in the States, and talking to them. The task force went to the Public Service employee unions which were involved and talked to them. It went to local government and talked to local government. It was a process of consultation which was totally devoid of the confrontation element which has so soured CommonwealthState relations over recent years. The task force has produced a report which, I understand, is before the Government and receiving further attention with a view to advising on its implementation.
– Do you think their solutions for repatriation hospitals are correct?
– I am not prepared to comment on their particular suggestion in respect of repatriation hospitals.
– Because I have not studied it closely and that is a very good reason. However, let me say that there is a large body of electoral opinion in Australia which regards repatriation hospitals as sacred and nobody would know that better than Senator Bishop. I would be a bold man indeed to stand up in this place after the amount of study I have given the report and say ‘Yes, let us do what is suggested with repatriation hospitals’. If the honourable senator thinks that I am that silly I will sit down even sooner than I had intended. The recommendations are broad ranging. I shall quote, a little more briefly, from the findings and recommendations of the report where we are told that total Commonwealth outlays in excess of $8, 800m are the subject of recommendations in the report. The task force has put forward a detailed series of recommendations which includes broad banding some 26 programs into about 4 programs and suggests that there should be a major step back by the Commonwealth in terms of detailed control, a handing over to the States of a much greater discretion to determine internal priorities, and the giving to the States of a much greater power to administer the system in a proper way.
The task force has shown that it is fairly aware of the sort of difficulties which honourable senators opposite are referring to by way of interjection and says in its recommendations that it must be recognised that devolution requires some risk taking. However, it is interesting that this apolitical group when given a technical job to do should come back and say: ‘We consider the advantages in the effectiveness and delivery of programs outweigh the disadvantages’. I do not put forward this report as something which bears the touch of the Holy Ghost. It may well contain some mistakes but the important thing is that it contains a rational approach to the very real need in Australia to get away from the central bureaucracy which pretends to impose solutions throughout Australia and looks at the problems of getting out into the areas where solutions have to be found and getting programs which will work at the local level.
I put forward that report and the Government’s continuance of the operation of the task force as a very substantial sign of a new approach to federalism and would say to the Senate that if it expects the path to new federalism to be strewn with roses it will be disappointed because as long as the Commonwealth Government remains the central taxing body and the States remain dependent on the funds collected by the Commonwealth there will be conflict, and for as long as we have federalism there will be conflict. However, the important thing is that in a major way we are moving to a process of consultation wherever possible and to a situation where we are aiming to get the delivery of programs at the local and not the central level. I believe that the rate of progress towards this end is eminently satisfactory. I commend the Government and the Minister for their efforts to date and I hope that they will manage to do a lot more in the future.
Another point I would like to touch upon was raised by Senator Baume. As it was raised by him and him alone it may well have passed the ears of many honourable senators. He referred to possibility that we have a systematic fault in the way in which we run this place which imposes undue stresses and burdens on the health of members and senators and even more so on those who hold ministerial office. I know that many honourable senators on this and the other side would know that the burdens of office are such that they do affect and have affected in the past the health of many of the people who have worked in this place. I believe that the best decisions are not made in a state of extreme stress and that the system under which we operate is in many ways foolish and conducive to poor rather than good decision making. I hope that the Government will be alive to the need to program the Parliament in a way which reduces to the minimum the stress which is placed on all those who work here, particularly those who lead for the Government and the Opposition. I believe this could be achieved by reverting to the experiment tried in this place by former Senator Murphy in collaboration with Senator Withers. They adopted a system of sitting fortnightly instead of for 3 weeks and having a fortnight away from this place. That sort of changed sitting pattern would reduce the amount of interstate travel. It would give us more time free from parliamentary duties and free to indulge perhaps in committee activity also our electoral activity. It could be achieved very simply. I ask the Government to consider as soon as possible changes in sitting times. Such a change will cut out this absolutely insane business politicians engage in in Australia of flying to our homes each weekend, going to functions, trying to spend a little time in our electorates and homes and them virtually flying back to Canberra on a weekly basis for practically now 10 months of the year. I do not think that this is conducive to good government. It is not conducive to sensible behaviour in this place. I hope that the Opposition would cooperate with the Government if it tries to achieve some sanity in the way that Parliament is operated.
– It is not good for our families, either.
-It is very bad for our families. There has been some publicity about this in the newspapers from time to time. I suggest that any honourable senators who feel particularly distressed should remember that our position is not unique. Commercial travellers, merchant seamen and many other people have a similar bad time.
The only other matters I want to mention which were referred to in the Queen’s Speech relate to constitutional reform. There were some differences of opinion in the Senate as is well known about the need for constitutional reform and the proposals which are being put forward. I am already on the record as saying that I believe it is extremely important and we should to a great extent or as much as possible sink our normal political differences and try to achieve some constitutional change. To some extent we are at the beginning or the end of constitutional reform in Australia. We are trying a new system. We all know the history of constitutional change. It is extremely difficult to achieve success in referendums. But now we have this system of having a Constitutional Convention at which people from all the States, from all the political parties and from the Commonwealth and all the political parties operating in that sphere can get together and, to the greatest extent possible, iron out their differences and arrive at agreements for constitutional reform.
It is new. In 1959 the Parliament tried to do this at the Commonwealth level. An excellent report was produced which recommended a number of constitutional changes. We know that this was not a sufficient impetus to achieve the changes that were recommended. But now for the first time we have 4 proposals which have very broad support although, of course, they have some vocal opposition or, at least, some of them have vocal opposition. The prospects for constitutional reform if we fail this time must be dismal indeed. I think that if we fail this time we will be left in a situation of holding constitutional conventions of questionable value and use. We have a system of arriving at constitutional change which most of us would agree is unlikely to produce much constitutional change. I think that we will have to start casting around for alternatives.
I doubt that we are in a situation in Australia in which, by some revolutionary means, we will produce a new Constitution. I think that the concept of producing a new national convention that totally rewrites the Constitution is unrealistic. I would say that if we find that constitutional change is impossible, perhaps the one thing we ought to do is to examine what other means are available to us. The sorts of things we can examine include the American system under which the State legislatures rather than the vote of the people is the determining factor. The one referendum question that may be worth putting over and over again until it achieves success is that for a new means of changing the Constitution. In any event, I put it to the Senate that this is quite an historic opportunity to break the barrier. I would hope that those of us who believe in constitutional change can move together with maximum amiability, at least until 2 1 May 1977.
I believe that really we are beginning on a very easy level. Who in his right mind could object to a number of the proposals? I will not say that there is not rational reason for arguing at least about some of the proposals. Who in his right mind will argue against the retirement of judges at age 70 years? I assure you, Mr Acting Deputy President, that no one who has ever appeared before a crusty old judge would argue against that proposal.
– Probably the judge would.
– Yes, probably the judge may argue against it. But, we have left the position of the present judges untouched. So perhaps they will not be unduly sensitive. Who really will risk a repeat of the Albert Field situation and the Cleaver Bunton situation?
– You don’t want retaliation.
– The honourable senator may put any ignoble motive he likes on my remarks. But who would ever want to see those situations repeated. So let us say that these referendum proposals are a wonderful start.
– Who would want the Gair affair repeated?
– Yes, who would want to see the Gair affair repeated. I am not being pugnacious enough in this speech, as my Leader is reminding me by way of interjection. These are matters which we ought to be able to sell to the Australian public. I believe that it behoves us to do so if we genuinely want to achieve any other change. It is worth noting that, in fact, we have left out the hard question. The serious constitutional issue in Australia is not any of the four that we are putting forward. These are really pipe openers. The serious constitutional question that we have to face is before sub-committee D of the Constitutional Convention and relates to the powers of this place. That is a matter upon which, with the best will in the world, it will be very hard for people to reach agreement and achieve a solution which ought to be put to the Australian people.
I would like to address myself to the problem briefly. Let me say that I believe any talk about whether we have a problem in the monarchial system is avoiding the real issue. Frankly, I think it is totally irrelevant whether Sir John Kerr is an appointed Governor-General or an elected president. The fact of the matter is that while we maintain a system in which there is a possibility of deadlock between this place and another place we must have a means to resolve the deadlock. If we had had an elected president during the time of the constitutional crisis, he would have had the power to do what Sir John Kerr did which was to dismiss us and send us to an election in the event that we could not agree to the carrying on of government by the granting of Supply. So the situation is that to some extent we have been chasing a red herring. We have been talking about the Governor-General for reasons which perhaps can be understood. But really we ought to be talking about the constitutional powers of the Senate and what ought to happen in the resolution of deadlocks.
I would say that even the greatest Tory in the Senate would agree that there is one change that ought to be made: If the Senate is to have the power to stop the Supply Bills- I personally believe we should have it- which are the life blood of the government it is ludicrous that we can do that in a situation in which we ourselves cannot be taken to the people. I for one would not be prepared to sit in the Senate and cast a vote in such a case if I was secured from the vote of the people if I succeeded in bringing down a government. It is illogical that our Constitution, in the absence of double dissolution Bills being available, would permit that to happen. I would say that with the smallest amount of goodwill it would be possible to agree around the Senate chamber with very few exceptions and it would be possible to obtain agreement out in the community that that very minimal change ought to be made in our constitutional structure so that the Senate is not insulated from the results of its actions. I can see no basis in principle upon which we ought to be able to force a government to the people and be completely immune from the people ourselves. There is that starting point.
I believe that the prospect exists for us to tackle the major problem. I simply say to the Senate that it would be a great tragedy if we muffed the easy ones and thereby put beyond all hope our chances of tackling the really serious questions which exist in Australia. If we are earnest in this matter of constitutional reform, there is one signal service that the Opposition and only the Opposition can provide. Its members must get away from the artificial debate about the personage of the Governor-General which I believe to be a totally irrelevant matter and one of pique rather than of genuine principle. They must deal with the substantial question, namely, how to operate a system in which deadlock is possible. That is a constitutional problem we have to face up to, find a solution to and if constitutional change is necessary we have to be prepared to go to the people.
I have particularly enjoyed making a speech at the end of a series of speeches in which honourable senators have said practically everything that can be said. I am feeling in the position of the monkey who has sat at the piano after many other monkeys and at last played Chopin. Whilst I am sure that my colleagues in the Senate do not share my satisfaction, it is consoling to us to know that we have each had that moment of satisfaction in thinking for once that the monkey has played Chopin. I commend the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply which has been moved by Senator Lewis. Of course, I support it and I look forward to delivering it to His Excellency.
– I say to Senator Chaney that it is almost a pleasure to follow such an adult speech. In rising, I pay my respects to Senator Lewis. The calm with which he delivered his speech reminded me of my first task in the Senate, which was to move for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply. I did not even know what the Address-in-Reply was. I was quite sure that if I said the wrong thing I would bring the entire Parliament tumbling down around my ears. I think the honourable senator made his speech with a great deal more aplomb than I made mine. I am attracted to what Senator Chaney said in a debate the other evening about our participating in open debate and combating each other’s arguments. Some of the arguments and some of the points that have been put forward in this debate occasion my wanting to have my say.
Senator Walters took us back to the beginnings of benevolent societies and the need for voluntary charities. She called them the conscience of the community and commended the way that the Government was now working with voluntary agencies in assisting the unfortunate in the community. I am afraid that I cannot see any gain to the community in having increasing unemployment and attendant miseries while dispensing charity relief to the poor, to the destitute and to the aged. People do not bring about their own unemployment and they do not bring about the miseries that go with it. As far as I am concerned, it is the responsibility of the Government, not of voluntary agencies saving their souls, to see that something is done to assist people in those sorts of circumstances. I do not think that this Government is doing enough to assist people in those sorts of circumstances and I certainly think that while it does nothing about the unemployment situation it is just putting people into worse misery. I will go so far as to say that I believe that this Government does not really care about the rate of unemployment and that it believes that while there is a large pool of unemployment people will work longer hours for less pay and will shut up about it. I think that is why we have growing unemployment. I think it ill becomes the honourable senator to say that voluntary charities should deal with people who fall by the wayside in these circumstances.
As Senator Walters drew her speech to a conclusion she said that people could draw their own conclusion as to which party is more interested in supporting the needy. This is where the great difference between the Government and the Opposition lies. We are not interested in supporting the needy; we are interested in there being no needy. Senator Walters went on to extol the virtues of putting something away for a rainy day rather than spending for pleasure. She reminded us of the days when people from their first pay packets put something away. They did not put it away in order to go on an overseas cruise or a trip. They put it away to provide for their family. I feel that this comes ill from an honourable senator whose Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) is exhorting the population to go out and spend. In this consumer society he says: ‘Go out and spend; have confidence’. How one can go out and spend on the rates of pay that most of us get and still put away for a rainy day is beyond me.
Senator Walters again got on to the subject of family allowances and the question of putting money into the hands of women. In fact this Government even had the Queen saying:
The new family allowance scheme places in every mother’s hand an allowance to spend as she thinks is best for the welfare of her family.
That only goes to show that whoever wrote that speech has not the faintest idea of how the majority of families operate. If a family does not have enough money to go around, it does not matter in whose hands the money is; the family cannot buy the goods and services it needs and the family cannot be looked after properly. Anyone who believes in family life believes that 2 people work as a team. It does not matter how the money comes in. The team dispenses the money in the best way possible. All this Government did was take money out of the men’s pay packets and put that money in their wives’ hands. That would be of no use to anybody if the husband was of the opinion that it was his money and he was going to keep it. All he would do is give his wife less housekeeping money. Even more to the point, it is a lie to say that people have benefited from the new scheme. Let us look at some figures. I know that figures can be manipulated and lied about. Under the previous Government the husband of a family with 2 children received $8.70 tax rebate and $1.50 child endowment, which adds up to $10.20 a week. Under this Government’s scheme such a family receives no tax rebate and receives a family allowance of $8.50 which, from what I learned when I went to school even though I did not learn new mathematics, is less than $10.20 a week. A family with 4 children under the previous Government received $17.40 tax rebate and $5.75 child endowment, which adds up to $23.15 a week. Under the new scheme of family allowances the family gets $20.50 a week which is less. Let us have less of this nonsense about having finally done something for women. It was said at one stage that it was women’s finest hour. All the Government has really done is divide a real family into two.
Senator Kilgariff went to some lengths to point out that he was disturbed about Australia because the divorce figures were going up at what he said was an astounding rate. He forgot to realise that as the Family Law Act came in there was bound to be a backlog of divorces to handle. So, of course the figures at the moment are up. Senator Kilgariff has to realise that in the present economic climate, with increasing unemployment and continuing unemployment, there will be more broken homes because of the pressures that are put on people. I refer not only to the pressures that are put on mothers and fathers but also to the pressures that are put on children. Where young people cannot get work fathers and mothers tend to agree with newspapers in some ways and call their children bludgers and say that they are not trying very hard, that they should be out working and that they are not proper citizens because they are not working an 8-hour day. That sort of pressure breaks up homes because the mother and father fight over what the child is doing or should be doing. If Senator Kilgariff is really concerned about the divorce figures he had better look at some of the causes of divorce and see what his Government is prepared to do about them.
Senators Kilgariff and Tehan talked of the woman’s place being in the home and especially the woman’s place in the home as a wife and mother in times of unemployment. But they are not very realistic and they do not look on women as human beings. They do not look at the real situation. Women make up 39.3 per cent of the Australian work force. Some 40 per cent of Australian women are in paid employment. In May 1976, 6 per cent of the female labour force, as against 3.9 per cent of the male labour force, was registered as unemployed. More women were registered as unemployed than men, even though women are discouraged from registering by the employment offices and by their own life style. They have never thought of themselves as the person who kept the home going, as the wage earner. It is outside their life style to go along and register, because that is not the way they have got jobs in the past. It is outside their life style to register, because sometimes they work part time. It is outside their life style to register, because they do not get unemployment benefits even though the family depends very much on the money they bring in.
Most of the women in this community who work need to work. Very few women go to work to express themselves. Women go out to work because they need the money. The Henderson report showed that there were 131 700 fatherless families in Australia- families where the woman brings in the money. Some 97.4 per cent of single parents in the labour force responsible for children under 12 years of age are women. Those women must go out to work to keep their children in a reasonable sort of life style. In the 1975 survey of inner city women, taken for the purposes of the Henderson report, women said that they worked for money for essentials like food and shelter and rent and wages to get to work. They do not work for wall to wall carpet and a second refrigerator and a second car, although there are women going to work for those things. Those things may not be essential, but this consumer society we live in impresses upon people that they must have these things, that they must have new carpet every 2 years and live in a house with 2 bathrooms.
Women are as susceptible to that sort of pressure as anybody else, and they are under pressure to go out to work to provide those things for their families. There are women in parts of Melbourne, and I can speak only of Melbourne, who go out to work because they and their husbands are paying between $90 and $150 a week off the mortgage on the house they live in. Do not tell me that those people are not under pressure and do not need to work. Those women are terrified that if they lose their jobs, if they become ill or if the children become ill and they have to stay at home, they will lose all that they have worked for. Those women are not out in the work force because they want to express themselves, because they do not like being wives and mothers. They are out in the work force because they know that all their lives they will be doing 2 jobs, one as wives and mothers and the other earning money. Unless the Government takes notice of that fact, it is going to spend a lot more money on social services and on health and medical services to cope with the problems that will come out of it. Of course, women get the worst paid jobs. For so many women some money is better than no money at all, some job is better than no job at all. It is interesting to note that while 36.2 per cent of students enrolled for degree courses are women, only 1 1.6 per cent of administrative, executive and managerial positions in the work force are held by women.
Senator Kilgariff said that for the benefit of defence and the future of Australia we should be increasing rapidly because Australia can support a much larger population. For Senator Kilgariff’s benefit, may I say that the women of Australia are not going to be used as brood mares to supply large numbers of people to fill up the holes in this country because we might be invaded by the yellow peril. The day has long gone when women were prepared to have sons to send off as cannon fodder. The honourable senator went on to say that the abortion rate is very hard to measure and that abortions cost Australia hundreds of thousands of its future youth. Again may I say that it is a woman’s decision whether or not she has an abortion, and I will be damned if the women of Australia are going to put themselves and their families at risk to provide this vast number of Australians who are going to people this country, including the far north. For Senator Kilgariff’s benefit, and for the benefit of Senator Harradine, may I say that no woman has an abortion lightly, but I do not need Senator Kilgariff or Senator Harradine to keep my conscience about whether or not I will have an abortion.
Senator Harradine said that he knows how a woman feels when she is unwillingly pregnant after wanted or unwanted intercourse. Senator Harradine does not know how a woman feels in that situation, nor does he know the misery she feels when she finds herself pregnant and has to cope with the shame, the poverty, the loneliness, the inability to cope with the child or children that she may bear. She knows the decision she has to make about whether or not a child will be born. She is the one who must make the decision. She does not need senators in this place telling her that they will make the decision for her, nor does she need parliaments to make the decision for her. I have 6 children. I would not have an abortion, but that is my decision. I do not need to have anybody else keeping my conscience for me and telling me what I will do, and I do not believe that the women of Australia need to have that decision made for them. They will make the decision. They are adults and they will live with the decision. When they make a decision to have a child, it is up to people like Senator Harradine, rather than going on witch hunts, to make sure that they have the support services necessary to keep those children, to make sure that those children are brought up in exactly the same position as children who come from the best homes and the best families in this country. More work should go into that aspect, and it would be more productive. It is people like Senator Harradine, and in some ways Senator Kilgariff, who allow rogues to come in and make abortion a racket, a racket which makes money out of other people’s misery.
Although Senators Kilgariff and Harradine were busy complaining about abortion lessening the number of people we have in this country to protect us, I was amazed that they and Senator Walters did not raise the matter of family planning centres. We had petition after petition in this place asking the Government to fund family planning centres, to close the stable door before the horse got out, if that is a suitable metaphor, which I doubt. But we could not get through to the Minister for Health (Mr Hunt). There was no money for family planning centres. Finally, some money was made available. Victoria put in some money and now has such a centre.
If I may read some of the relevant figures, the centre opened on 6 December 1976 and up to 27 February 1977 it had given contraceptive advice to 230 people and pregnancy counselling to 62 people, leaflets were taken by 120 people, family planning appointments were made for 181 people, adolescent counselling was given to 77 people and parent counselling was given to 43 people. Those are only some of the figures and they cover only a short time. I suppose that the centre has not really got out into the community yet and let people know that it is there. But in a short time that number of people have gone through the centre, and that is much more productive. It is much better to stop people having unwanted babies than it is to put them through the misery of deciding whether or not they will have an abortion. May I just say to these honourable senators who are so concerned that I hope they are just as concerned about their children’s children when the use of uranium comes up for debate in this chamber.
This Government has done very little about women’s health centres. The Liberal Government in Victoria has done little about women’s health centres. When the former Government funded them, the Liberal Government in Victoria stopped the funding going through. These centres are places where women can go with confidence to find out how they work, how they should be treated, what is wrong with them, without being embarrassed, without being stood over, and with other women to assist them with their problems. We wondered why the money could not get through in Victoria. In an answer to a question in the Legislative Assembly we found out why. One of the reasons why the funds had not been passed on was that the Women’s Health Collective had a special condition, again stipulated by the Hospitals and Health Services Commission, that the centre should relocate if there was sufficient medical opposition. Again, the hopes and desires of women were as nothing against the medical profession. If money was going to be made out of women’s ill health then the medical profession was going to make the money. I think it is up to this Government to remember that a vast number of women who have no other place at which they can receive help want these women’s health centres, and it should cut through such nonsense. If the citizens of Australia want health centres in certain places, why should the doctors of this country be able to say: ‘No go’?
Senator Walters spoke about women’s refuges with some pride that this Government had assisted them. Women’s refuges, such as they are, exist with little money, little hope of future money, and a great deal of lack of confidence about what their future will be. I for one, and I suspect other honourable senators, have received pathetic letters from some of these centres pointing out that they have no ability to protect themselves, that husbands break in, break down doors and beat up their wives. Such people get little assistance from the police and are unable to look after themselves and prevent those things happening. With the feeling that the Government does not really believe in them and is not going to fund them, that they will not be there long, the centres do not have a great deal of confidence in going to the community and asking for assistance.
In the speech the Queen read for the Government she said:
At the heart of my Government’s policies lie a commitment and a concern: commitment to increasing the freedom, opportunity and equality of the Australian people; and concern with enhancing people’s ability to make their own choices and live their own lives in their own way.
If one is talking about freedom one has to consider Ministers who say that those in the work force have no right to change their jobs. If the Government is talking about opportunity it should tell that to the youngsters who have been to 47 different places of employment and still have no job. It should tell it to the women who are living in terror of the night they wake up and find that the kiddy has a fever, that they cannot go to work and that they will lose their jobs. If it is talking about equality it should tell that to the migrant women in this community who have so many distressing things happening to them with no relief and who cannot, in so many cases, even speak the language. They are completely isolated. If the Government is talking about the ability to make our own choices, will we have the choice to work longer hours for less pay while profits soar to unprecedented levels or will the ordinary people of Australia really be able to make their own choice as to how and where they shall live? If the Government really believes that people should be allowed to live their own lives in their own way does it believe that a man whose only means of making a livelihood lies in the skill he has in his 2 hands should be allowed to go out and sell that skill for the greatest rate he can obtain? Does the Government really believe in the right to proper education or does it believe that people need just enough training to turn them into the sort of fodder from which other people’s profits can be made? Does this Government really believe that ordinary people are entitled to good health or are they only entitled to good health if they go into debt for the rest of their lives? Does this Government really believe that children have the right to grow up with the same opportunity to love, to a good home, to education and to good health no matter who their parents are or in what circumstances they were born and that all children are bom equal? All I can say to the members of this Government is that if they truly believe in all that purple prose that they used when they said how they felt about the monarchy, I hope they will remember that the meanest of the Queen’s subjects is entitled to be treated like a human being and not like a chattel.
– I thank honourable senators who have spoken in this very interesting debate which, as all honourable senators know, commenced with a colourful and ceremonious opening of the Parliament by Her Majesty the Queen. In spite of the odd article which has been written in the following days with some pseudo-intellectuals attempting to pour a little scorn on that Tuesday, I doubt that there are many people in this place who did not think that the opening was a great occasion. I doubt that there is a member of this Parliament who was not enormously impressed by the jubilee parade of the three armed forces afterwards. It was a great day.
– It is only the Speech with which we were disappointed.
-That is fair enough, Senator. I think we would agree that it was a great occasion. It is something which I think all honourable senators who were present on that day will remember with a great deal of pleasure and pride. As we all know, the formal act of this debate was commenced by my colleague Senator Lewis. There has been unanimity amongst those honourable senators who followed him in saying to him that he made a very good maiden speech. We look forward to hearing more from him during his time in the Senate.
As always happens in an Address-in-Reply debate, honourable senators have ranged over a great number of subjects. This is one of the great debates which take place in a parliamentary session. It is one of the few opportunities for a debate to last for a number of days. Honourable senators can address themselves to those matters on which they have deep personal feelings or feelings for sectors of the community or parts of their electorates in which they have a particular interest, that they wish to put before the Parliament. I can assure honourable senators that all Ministers and their departments have been and will be looking at the suggestions contained in their speeches. Whilst we know that this is a House of politics and that naturally a political view is put forward either in praise or in condemnation of a government, there tends to be a thread of sensible and worthwhile suggestions through all the speeches as to how a government can improve the services it attempts to deliver to the community. For that I thank honourable senators. I say that quite sincerely in relation to supporting fathers or any other subject that was dealt with during the debate. Where criticism was delivered it was in the hope of achieving improvement. I think I am relaxed enough now I am approaching old age to believe that all honourable senators in this place really have the interests of the nation at heart although occasionally that is overrun by party politics.
In winding up a debate which has been running for 2 weeks I thank honourable senators not only for their speeches but also for the good temper shown during the debate. I thank them for the humour that has been injected at times. I think the good feeling about the Senate on this great occasion augurs well. I also thank honourable senators for what I hope will be a vote on the voices to carry the motion moved by Senator Lewis. For the first time in many a day there has been no attack on the actual motion. There has been no suggestion that it ought to be voted against, nor has there been any suggestion that it ought to be amended. For that I thank all honourable senators. I look forward, Mr President, to your putting the question on the motion that the Address-in-Reply be agreed to. I think the motion is worth repeating so that it will be recorded again in Hansard at the end of this debate. It states:
We, Your Majesty’s loyal subjects, the members of the Senate of the Commonwealth of Australia, in Parliament assembled, desire to thank Your Majesty for the Gracious
Speech which you have been pleased to address to Parliament.
The presence in Australia of Your Majesty and of His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh has once again brought the greatest pleasure to your Australian people. We, their representatives in the Senate, are grateful for the opportunity to re-affirm our allegiance to you as our Queen.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Senator Withers) agreed to:
That the Address-in-Reply to the Speech delivered by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II to both Houses of Parliament be presented to His Excellency the Governor-General for transmission to Her Majesty by the President and such honourable senators as may desire to accompany him.
– I shall ascertain when His Excellency the Governor-General will be pleased to receive the Address-in-Reply. When the time is fixed I shall advise the Senate.
-I report to the Senate that I have received a letter from the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate (Senator Wriedt) nominating senators to be members of the Legislative and General Purpose Standing Committees as follows: Constitutional and Legal Affairs Committee- Senator Button, Senator Devitt and Senator James McClelland; Education and the Arts Committee- Senator Button, Senator Robertson and Senator Ryan; Foreign Affairs and Defence Committee- Senator Mcintosh, Senator Primmer and Senator Sibraa; National Resources Committee- Senator McAuliffe, Senator McLaren and Senator Robertson; Science and the Environment CommitteeSenator Colston, Senator Melzer and Senator Mulvihill; Social Welfare CommitteeSenator Brown, Senator Grimes and Senator Melzer; Trade and Commerce CommitteeSenator Cameron, Senator Coleman and Senator Walsh.
Motion (by Senator Withers)- by leaveagreed to:
That the senators indicated having been duly nominated in accordance with standing order 36aa be members of the committees.
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 seek 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 extend the support provided under the apple and pear stabilization scheme for 1 976 exports of apples and pears to exports in the 1977 season. In his second reading speech last year the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Sinclair) when introducing the Bills to apply the apple and pear stabilization scheme to the 1976 export season, indicated that the application of the scheme to the 1976 season was an interim measure only pending receipt of the final report of the Industries Assistance Commission on the scheme. The Commission’s final report and its recommendations were considered by the Government last September. The Minister indicated publicly at the time the Government decided not to accept the Commission ‘s recommendation that the level of support for apples under the scheme be reduced for 1977 exports and the scheme itself be terminated at the end of the 1 977 season. Instead the Government decided to continue the scheme in 1 977 at the same level of support as was given in 1976. The application of the stabilization scheme to apples in the 1977 export season will therefore again be based on a maximum level of support of $2 per box and a maximum quantity eligible for support of 2 million boxes. Support as in 1976 will be limited to sales ‘at risk’ to Europe, including the United Kingdom.
The Government is also in consultation with interested States about a supplementary assistance program for 1977 which could involve, jointly funded with the States, an additional Sim to assist apple exports. The position of the fruit industry is quite serious and I am sure that the combination of the extension of the stabilization scheme and the supplementary assistance will help to overcome many of the difficulties that producers now face. Some State governments have not been inclined to support this additional measure, however. Subject to finalisation of arrangements, this may result in significantly less assistance to the apple and pear industry in those States than that available elsewhere in Australia. The lack of sensitiviity of those few States which are now declining to pick up this additional assistance is very much to be regretted as it will have an adverse affect in overcoming the economic plight of fruit growers.
In respect of pears the 1976 levels will apply also in 1977- namely, a maximum level of support of 80 cents per box and a maximum quantity eligible for support of 1.4 million boxes. As in 1976, the support will be limited to sales ‘at risk’ to Europe, including the United Kingdom, and North America. Apple exports to the United Kingdom and Europe in 1976 were almost 2.4 million boxes, about 1 million boxes below the 1 975 figure. Returns from these shipments were most disappointing. This was due largely to the oversupply of northern hemisphere fruit and higher shipments from other southern hemisphere countries, which resulted in generally lower prices. Returns to growers were also diminished by increased production and handling costs as well as higher overseas freight rates.
Although pear exports in 1976 to the United Kingdom and Europe, at 834 000 boxes, were slightly down from the 85 1 000 boxes shipped in 1975, prices obtained were also generally unsatisfactory. In the result, support under the scheme for the eligible markets in 1976 amounted to about $3.9m for apples and a little over $280,000 for pears. Several of the factors that operated so disadvantageously against Australian exports in 1 976 can be expected to create difficulties again in 1977 and it is important that the industry have once again the basic guarantees provided by the scheme.
When the Minister announced the Government’s decision last September, he pointed out that it was necessary that the industry should understand that the present level of support could not continue indefinitely. During 1977, the Government will be looking at the industry situation and considering the appropriate support level which might apply in 1978. At that time the Government would be expecting a phasing down in the level of assistance. But one would hope that the economic circumstances of the industry are such that this would be possible.
The opportunity presented by the Bills has been taken to introduce into the procedures of the Apple and Pear Stabilization Scheme a provision to authorise the payment of advances against seasonal stabilisation payments. Such a provision already exists in the other fruit stabilisation scheme, the dried vine fruits stabilisation scheme. The apple and pear export trade is unfortunately characterised by great uncertainty as to its ultimate returns and advance payments before market results are substantially known may not be practicable. There is the possibility, however, that advances could be made after marketing and before the fairly complex and intricate stabilisation figures are finalised. The various possibilities will be investigated to see whether advance procedures can be implemented which protect the revenue from the risks of over-payments on the one hand but which are administratively practicable, and which result in advance payments sufficiently early to be of real benefit to this badly affected industry. The Bills also amend their respective principal Acts to convert certain units and measures to metric equivalents. I commend the three Bills to the Senate.
Debate (on motion by Senator Georges) adjourned.
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 Georges) 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.
Motion (by Senator Withers) proposed:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Debate (on motion by Senator Georges) adjourned.
My Party is moving for the establishment of a Select Committee on East Timor because we believe that the Timor issue requires the consideration of the Senate. I think it has to be agreed that the select committees which the Senate has established over many years have done a great deal to examine and to concern themselves with issues that have required detailed investigation. Such select committees have dealt with securities and exchange, drug trafficking and drug abuse, containerisation and the metric system of weights and measures. There was also the Vincent Committee whose purpose was to encourage the Australian production of television. These select committees which the Senate, in its wisdom, has established have contributed a great deal towards the working and the value of the Parliament. It is in the light of that experience that we believe a Select Committee on East Timor should be established. We believe that this committee should be established because of the tragedy that continues in East Timor which is some 400 miles from our shore. We believe that the problem there has resurrected itself and requires the consideration of the Senate.
It is clear that the Timor issue will not die, it will not fade away. As the months have elapsed it has been proven time and again that it will remain an issue in the minds of the Australian people. Unfortunately over the last 1 8 months or so some Australians have attempted to cover up the stark realities of the brutal aggression against a people whose sense of determination has prevailed and continues to prevail against 30 000 Indonesian troops. We can feel only a sense of horror and admiration for the Timorese people; horror because of the murder, destruction and pillage visited upon the unfortunate civilians of East Timor. We can also admire the courage and tenacity of the East Timorese people in their struggle for that basic of all human rights- the right of self-determination. This issue received the endorsement of this Parliament when we endorsed the principles of the United Nations charter.
Tonight we in the Senate have an opportunity in a small yet tangible way to assist the embattled East Timorese people, to repay the debt that we owe the people in Timor for assisting the Second AIF during World War II which tied down for several years a division of Japanese troops. We also have the opportunity to recover some of the principle and morality which has been so lacking in some Government decisions relating to East Timor. Tonight we have the chance to move a little closer to a truly humanitarian and sensitive policy in East Timor. Tonight we must put right some of the wrong for which all of us share the blame. I say ‘all of us’ because we share some of the guilt. We all share some blame for those most tragic circumstances in East Timor. By this I mean that both governments which have had responsibility for determining foreign policy have failed on several occasions. It is not our intention to try to apportion blame to this Government or to the previous Government or to this Minister for Foreign Affairs or to the previous Minister for Foreign Affairs, but rather to examine the tragic circumstances because the governments have failed the East Timorese. They have failed the sense of fair play of the Australian people. They have failed to respond to the duties and the responsibilities incumbent upon a government so close to this event in the international community. Both governments have failed to show to the Indonesian people that we, the Australians, care a great deal about human rights, particularly human rights in our region. The question with which the Senate must concern itself is whether it will rise above party politics? Will it rise above prejudice and partisanship and set in motion the machinery for an important and proper review of the tragedy of East Timor?
More than anything else, successive policy decisions on East Timor have failed to meet the demands of morality and principle which should, I believe, be inherent in any Australian foreign policy. In this regard, I believe that we have lost our self respect. The demise of Australian foreign policy is not confined to the present Government. I remember several Labor senators and members in 1975 fighting desperately to alter the direction of the Labor Government’s attitude to East Timor. During the formative days of a growing self awareness of independence in East Timor, I remember clearly the struggles that we waged to get some recognition of the right of the people to determine their own affair. I remember clearly visiting that small yet vital and beautiful country on 2 occasions. I came back convinced of the need for the Australian government to support a policy of self determination there. My belief was based upon the overwhelming support given to the Fretilin Party by the East Timorese. I am sure that one of my companions on the latter journey, Senator Bonner, felt a similar overwhelming sense of desire for self determination amongst the East Timorese throughout the territory.
In the intervening 2 years, however, a series of Australian Government decisions has disappointed all of us from all parties who were concerned with this basic fundamental human right. The list of policy decisions which I and many other senators on both sides of this chamber have felt extremely disturbed by is long. Australia should have made it perfectly clear in a public way that we would strenuously oppose any Indonesian intervention in East Timor. We, I believe, failed to do this. In 1976, the Australian Government complied with Indonesian attempts to stifle information coming from East Timor. In January 1976, the radio link between Australia and East Timor at Darwin was closed. Late last year the receipt and transferral of messages from East Timor by Telecom were terminated. These decisions were designed to strangle the East Timorese resistance movement.
These actions were made even more cruel and inhumane when one remembers that Indonesia has a cordon sanitaire around the island and has allowed only selected foreign journalists and observers in for a very brief and supervised period. The Indonesians have even banned the International Red Cross from proceeding with its humanitarian assistance in East Timor. Yet the decision to close the radio link is even more callous when one notes that 6 Australian journalists who were pursuing their fine ideals to provide the international community with information on the developing war were murdered. That was some months before the intervention by Indonesia which occurred in December 1975. What irony! On the available evidence 6 Australian journalists were murdered purely and simply because they were Australians. They also were presenting the facts. In doing this, they were a threat to the secretive Indonesian military intervention in East Timor. Do we insult their memory by closing off East Timor even further? This amounts to a policy of appeasement. We all know the tragedy of the appeasement policies of the 1930s in Europe. Shamefully, there can be no escape from the conclusion that appeasement does not pay.
Mr President, the Indonesian Government has much to hide. Unfortunately some of its brutal activities in occupied East Timor are now surfacing. But before I look at recent events there, I wish to elucidate what I regard as the connivance and trickery engaged in by Indonesia in its dealings with successive Australian governments in recent years. For example, on 17 April 1976 the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Peacock, said that he hoped that the International Red Cross would be allowed back into Timor within 2 weeks. Mr Peacock said that he had assurances that this was possible. Apparently these assurances given by Indonesia were meaningless. We still have no International Red Cross presence in East Timor, 1 1 months later. Yet it has consistantly been the lying of the Indonesian Foreign Minister, Mr Malik, which leads me to the conclusion that he is utterly unprincipled and untrustworthy. These are harsh words. They are strong words. But if one compiles the list of actions by this man, Mr Malik, in relation to East Timor, that is a conclusion which is difficult to ignore.
It was Mr Malik who said in an interview with Mr Ian Mathews- honourable senators will recall that Mr Mathews was a senior journalist who operated in Canberra some years ago- which took place on 1 9 May:
From our side, we never were afraid and we never expected the threat from Timor, even if Fretilin or other parties succeeded in getting the support of the people not to integrate with Indonesia.
Yet, in reality, Mr Malik has done everything possible to threaten or deceive the Australian Government to ignore or forget the East Timorese. I refer next to a document from the Department of Foreign Affairs which is headed Inward Cablegram’. The Indonesian spokesman, Mr Malik, in a reply to the Committee of Twenty Four of the United Nations concerned with decolonisation said on 12 June 1975:
My delegation hopes that the process of decolonisation in Portuguese Timor will be carried out with the broadest participation of all segments of the indigenous population on a non-discriminatory basis. All political groupings must be given full and equal opportunity to rally support for their views amongst the population, without threat or coercion, and to participate without restrictions in activities in preparation of the exercise of the right of self determination through a referendum. It is the responsibility of the administering power to prepare the population in a democratic manner for the act of self determination in order that they will be able to exercise that right with full awareness of the implications of their decision for their own future.
Honourable senators will be aware that that commitment was not carried out by Indonesia.
In an interview with Mr David Jenkins and published on 2 1 September last year, Mr Malik said in answer to a question whether any damage in relations between Indonesia and Australia had been repaired:
I did not say damage but misunderstanding. We must clear that. I am sure, after Mr Fraser’s visit, it will be clear. You will remember during the second visit of Peacock, even Peacock explained the difficulty there. ‘My position in the Parliament is like this and maybe Mr Malik, you feel unhappy but I must wait. But in the long run we understand that this is the only way for Indonesia’. That is why, I am sure (we should ) give them time.
That article was published in the Melbourne Herald. Well might Mr Malik smile as this article reports when once more he indulged in deception. I am inclined to believe Mr Peacock’s statement on his discussions with Mr Malik in April 1976, that is, that he pressed the Indonesians to withdraw and enable a process of self determination to be commenced.
In a letter to me from the Leader of the Government in the Senate, Senator Withers, this becomes perfectly clear. I accept what Mr Peacock, Mr Fraser and Senator Withers said. The letter from the Prime Minister, conveyed to me by Senator Withers, was in response to a question without notice. Senator Withers stated:
On 21 September 1976 (Hansard, page 782) Senator Gietzelt asked me about a report in the Melbourne Herald that the Indonesian Foreign Minister had claimed that in April this year Mr Peacock has assured him that the Australian Government understood that Indonesia had to annex
East Timor. The article also reportedly stated that the Prime Minister’s then impending visit to Indonesia had led the Indonesian Government to believe that the Australian Government had accepted Indonesia’s position on East Timor. The Prime Minister has supplied the following information in answer to the honourable senator’s question.
The Minister for Foreign Affairs did not assure the Indonesian Foreign Minister in April this year that the Australian Government understood that Indonesia had to annex East Timor.
The Australian Government’s position on East Timor was expressed in the communique issued at the end of the Prime Minister’s visit to Indonesia.
In recent days exposure of Indonesian activities in East Timor has livened up the threatening characteristics of Mr Malik. Yesterday he threatened that demonstrations would be allowed to occur against the Australian Embassy if agitation relating to East Timor did not cease in Australia. What gross impertinence, what gross interference, what improper tactics run through these threats. We must not yield to them. We have to understand that the reasons for these threats, these outbursts and this intimidation stem from one essential source. The reports of massive atrocities in East Timor are just beginning to filter through. The activities of the Indonesian armed forces in East Timor are just beginning to reach the international community.
Unfortunately no observation has been permitted by the Indonesian Government. Rather, the reports of atrocities have come from Indonesian Christian Aid sources and refugees who are now living in squalor in Portugal. On 17 November last I referred at length to a report by the Christian church. I now wish to have incorporated in Hansard a copy of that report, which is entitled ‘Notes on East Timor’.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
The document read as follows-
NOTES ON EAST TIMOR
There are 31 priests in East Timor: 15 Native priests, 16 Priests of foreign nationalities.
Note: 2 Portuguese, 1 Indian and 3 native priests are known to be held by the Fretelin in the mountain. Nobody knows about their well being.
Whether priests of foreign nationalities will stay and work in East-Timor is an open question but it is believed that some priests will leave for Portugal.
One third of the population had been baptized Catholic. The rest however, claimed themselves to be Catholic. At the moment many claim to be baptized because they heard in the other parts of Indonesia, everybody must have a religion.
The total town people of Dilli is 30 000. 20 000 of them have now registered themselves for passage to Portugal. Others are with the Fretelin in the mountains so that in fact the real town people of Dilli numbers only a couple of thousands not counting the Indonesian soldiers.
All villages and towns in East Timor are occupied by the Indonesian military forces. Beyond the villages and towns there is no main land. And the safety is not guaranteed because of the Fretelin raids.
The total population of villages and towns occupied by the Indonesian forces amounts to 150 000 people. Taking the total population of East Timor of 650 000 people into consideration it means that 500 000 people is not under their control.
Land communication has been disrupted. The only means of transportation is helicopter or sea route.
About the territory: 80 percent of the territory is not under direct control of the Indonesian military forces.
According to report, 60 000 people had been killed during the war. We found this figure rather high, because it means 10 per cent of the total population of East Timor. But when I asked two Fathers in Dilli they replied that according to their estimate the figure of people killed may reach to 100 000.
As Dilli sees it:
25 per cent are members of Fretelin. (But the top leaders who are the real Communists are only 20-30 in numbers. They all came from the Lisbon University in Portugal).
40.50 per cent are UDT (Democratic Party)
20.25 per cent are Apodeti.
When the Fretelin came into force the UDT and Apodeti joined together for integration with Indonesia. The Fretelin was at that time an independent party although most of their leaders are Communists. Later it became real Communist.
- Plus or minus.
The desire to integrate with Indonesia is beginning to cool off because of bad experience with the occupying forces. (Stealing, robbery, burning houses, violating girls etc. ).
An example: 5000 people welcome the Indonesian troops in Ermeba (Demonstration for integration). Now there are only 1000 people in Amaru, others joined the Fretelin in the mountains.
If this is an exceptional case, then it will be not so bad, but if this is a symptom of the real situation, then it is very bad.
At present it is very difficult to start rehabilitation program because the people we intended to help are still in the mountains.
A teacher school might be an important subject but there are no pupils or only a very few.
The other possibility that look promising is the language course. Father da Costa plans to open the language course in September or December. But the house that Father da Costa has kept ready for the course was taken by the military.
The domestic refugees are farmers from the border region in Timor Indonesia. They fled their home because of the frequent Fretelin raids. They lost their houses and gardens and live in a very poor shelters. The help the Indonesia has given to them is poorly managed.
Action for help
The Indonesian government helps with thousand tons of rice.
The East Timor refugees received dish money Rp 100.- per person per day. But the help for the domestic refugees is far from satisfactory with many leakages.
– Firstly, the report indicates that 80 per cent of the territory of East Timor and 75 per cent of the East Timorese population are outside the direct control of Indonesia. This clearly indicates that the Indonesian military forces have failed in their strategy to dominate East Timor. The report said that the Indonesians, faced with this situation, intend to resort to the use of napalm in order to destroy the will of the people of East Timor. Secondly, the report says that 20 000 out of a total of 30 000 people who live in and around Dili have asked for permission to leave for Portugal. Surely this must represent a shocking indictment of the Indonesian occupation troops in the capital of East Timor. Thirdly, the report states that 80 per cent of Chinese males in Dili were murdered on the day of the Indonesian invasion. From other reports to which I have referred the Senate recently, from Taiwan, there was confirmation from the Captive Nations Organisation that Chinese were murdered indiscriminately on the day of the Indonesian invasion.
Fourthly, the report states that whatever support may have existed for integration has been eroded due to the excesses of Indonesian troops. These excesses, the report states, have led to a situation in which the authors believe that Fretilin would win a sizable majority in any referendum. Fifthly, the Christian report states that humanitarian aid destined for the East Timorese population is being used by Indonesian troops. If this is accurate- there is every reason to believe it is- one can only wonder about the destination of unsupervised Australian aid to the Indonesian Red Cross. We have every reason to believe that this aid is being used by the Indonesians and not for the purposes of the East Timorese people. Finally, the report states that Fretilin is treating the people well and, importantly, is respecting their religious beliefs. I believe that this is important in understanding how the East Timorese resistance to the Indonesian invasion has been successfully managed. It is obvious when an Australian company, Timor Oil, just a few days ago indicated that it had ceased its operations in East Timor due to the continuous fighting. That indicates the success of a broadly based resistance to military intervention which is being carried out by the Timorese people.
It was the work of Mr Gordon Bryant, MHR, and Mr Jim Dunn, in interviewing East Timorese refugees in Lisbon last January, that brought clearly to the attention of Australia and other peoples around the world a graphic picture of brutality. If the Senate so desires I will table Mr Jim Dunn’s report. I seek leave to do so now.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
- Mr Dunn described a situation of terror and brutality which must rank amongst the most horrifying examples of inhumanity since the Second World War. In summary, on the evidence presented to Mr Dunn in a series of exhaustive interviews with East Timorese refugees who left East Timor late last year, the Indonesian Government has much to answer. Mr Dunn’s report contains several major allegations which I believe need reiteration. I do not believe that we should just discount the work that Mr Dunn did. I believe therefore that the Senate is obliged to appoint a select committee so that the statements he collected and the words of the witnesses he interviewed can be brought before such a committee for the purpose of establishing their veracity or otherwise.
Firstly, Mr Dunn said in his report that the refugees agreed that reports that the Indonesians had murdered as many as 100 000 East Timorese were credible due to the widespread killing in the mountain areas of East Timor and the fact that extensive bombing had been mounted against the East Timorese. Secondly, the report states that many of the Indonesians killed indiscriminately from the beginning of their illegal military attack on Dili. Thirdly, the report says that there has been far greater killing in the mountain areas than in Dili. Whole villages in the rural areas were wiped out in the attack. Fourthly, entire families were murdered if the Indonesian Army found Fretilin flags in their homes. Fifthly, the entire Chinese population of Maubara and Liquica were shot by the Indonesians. Sixthly, when the Indonesians captured Remexio and Alieu all the Timorese villagers except children under 3 years of age were murdered because they were ‘infected with the seeds of Fretilin’. The report alleges that 150 men in the town of Suai were murdered because they attempted to prevent the Indonesian troops form interfering with their women.
Finally, and most disturbingly, the report recounts a refugee’s witness of the killing of all the Chinese men in a Dili apartment which had housed 20 refugees. Outside this particular apartment there was an Australian flag. The flag was hanging from the third floor window of a shop in Dili, the capital of East Timor. Once again we can clearly see the attitude of the Indonesian armed forces when they come into contact with anything vaguely connected with Australia. We can understand the ferocity and the cold blooded murder of the journalists simply because they were Australians. The report also covers allegations of the use of torture and napalm by the Indonesians in East Timor. From evidence gathered by Mr Dunn from refugees in Portugal it appears that Indonesian armed forces were responsible for the deaths of the 6 Australian journalists in Balibo on 16 October 1975 and in Dili on 7 December 1975. The account of the deaths of the 6 Australian journalists contained in Mr Dunn’s report is at marked variance with the report prepared by Australian diplomats who visited Balibo last year, but it confirms the account given by Jose Martins when he came to Australia at the invitation of the Federal Council of the Australian Journalists Association last year. He was an executive member of the Apodeti Party. Without doubt, these are extremely serious charges which demand investigation and answer, not threats; yet that is what we are getting from Indonesia.
Fortunately, not all countries and individuals have been silenced by the threats or conned by the lies of the Indonesian Government. The United Nations consistently has reaffirmed the principle of self-determination. On 17 November the Fourth Committee of the United Nations adopted a resolution on Timor by 61 votes in favour, 18 votes against and 49 abstentions. To our shame, Australia was one of the countries which abstained. The resolution established, among other things, the inalienable right of the people of East Timor to self-determination and independence; strongly deplored the persistent refusal of the Indonesian Government to comply with the provisions of the relevant General Assembly and Security Council resolutions; rejected the claim that East Timor had been integrated into Indonesia; called upon the Indonesian Government to withdraw all its forces from the territory; and requested the Special Committee to dispatch a visiting mission to East Timor as soon as possible.
It is most disturbing to learn that the author of the Department of Foreign Affairs report in reply to Mr Dunn’s report is none other than Mr Alan Taylor, for it was Mr Alan Taylor who led the socalled Foreign Affairs investigation team to Balibo last year. This surely must be a perfect example of a conflict of interest. Unfortunately, it summarises in many ways the whole problem of the attitude of many of the members of our Department of Foreign Affairs to this grave problem. I hope that in the near future we will be able to inquire more fully into these allegations in order to seek the truth. I assure the Senate that either on this occasion or on some future occasion officials of the Department of Foreign Affairs will be brought before a parliamentary committee and the Australian people in order to explain their actions in relation to East Timor. They will have a lot of explaining to do. I assure the Senate from the private discussions that I had with Senator Willesee how concerned he was at the attitude of members of his Department. I am sure that that attitude still prevails today. It becomes the role of this Parliament to examine the attitudes and actions taken by public servants in that Department.
In several countries significant support has been given to the East Timorese. For example, in Great Britain 110 British parliamentarians signed a petition calling for a revue of the annual $ 16.6m in British aid to Indonesia. However, recently activities in the Netherlands and the United States of America have threatened directly the brutal activities of the Indonesian Government in East Timor. These countries have said that they must examine the furtherance of their aid programs. Only this week communications have been received from the New Zealand Parliament requesting information about the problems and the suffering of the people in East Timor. At the beginning of this month the Dutch Parliament debated whether to continue a military aid provision of 2 corvettes to Indonesia. After a considerable and extensive debate it was decided that the decisions to provide the corvettes would be reviewed when they were completely built in 1979, in the light of activities by Indonesia in East Timor. This action is a prelude to a broader questioning of aid to Indonesia when the inter-governmental group on Indonesia meets in April 1 977.
Already Mr Dunn has been invited to go to Holland in order to discuss his report with the Dutch Government. The invitation by the international organisation sub-committee of the Congressional International Relations Committee to Mr Dunn has certainly unsettled the stained feathers of the Indonesians. What concerns the Indonesian Government is that its military occupation of East Timor will be exposed in all its gory details. There is a great possibility that the congressional inquiry will lead to a reduction in United States military aid to Indonesia. The presentation of evidence on East Timor by Mr Dunn on 23 March endangers the whole
Indonesian operation in East Timor. This international pressure upon Indonesian activities in East Timor has similarities to what has been happening in Australia. As early as 7 April 1976 55 members of the Australian Parliament, from all parties, signed a petition to Mr Kurt Waldheim, the Secretary-General of the United Nations. The petition drew attention to the problems about which we are concerned in East Timor. Joining with Opposition senators in signing that petition were Senators Missen, Bonner, Davidson, Kilgariff, Rae, Chaney, Martin and Jessop from the Government parties. We applaud them for their independence and for their desire to be associated with an humanitarian cause.
After the release of Mr Dunn’s report of 1 1 February an Amnesty International Committee petition was circulated to all members of the Parliament. It was signed by 95 members which is a majority of the members of the national Parliament. It is more than half the members of the national Parliament. The petition was sent to President Carter and it reads:
We the undersigned, being members of the Parliament of Australia concerned with basic human rights, applaud the actions taken by you in relation to your defence of prisoners of conscience in the U.S.S.R. and the advocates of freedom of expression, as well as your comments on the recent tragic events in Uganda.
We draw attention to the mounting and disturbing evidence that innocent civilians in Timor have been detained without due process and killed as a result of the activities of Indonesia.
Being particularly interested in the circumstances surrounding the deaths of Australians and the well being of the people involved in our region; and noting the resolutions of the United Nations and having observed reports that this situation has not changed; urge you to again use your good offices -
That is President Carter- as a matter of urgency to seek assurance from the government of Indonesia:
Among Government members a great number of honourable senators from this chamber signed that statement. I applaud them for doing so. In fact, of those 95 members to whom I referred the majority came from the Government parties. Of course, this shows their concern for the problem of what is happening so close to our borders. A total of 13 honourable senators from the Government parties was joined by 36 members of the Government in the other place. This petition clearly indicates the widespread concern among all members of the Parliament of all political parties for humitarian action to be taken on behalf of the East Timorese. It is impossible on the facts of the situation to confine support for the East Timorese to any political party whether the right, left or centre. A very few political writers and some senior officers of the Department of Foreign Affairs obviously have declared their interests in favour of Indonesia. They have effectively denied all humanitarian considerations in the pursuit of a very pragmatic and unprincipled course of appeasement to Indonesia’s regional desires.
It is obvious that we must investigate these allegations and assist the East Timorese. We must not stand back and pursue further this policy of appeasement. We must remember that Indonesia has used force 3 times in the past 15 years; namely, against the Dutch in West Irian in 1961, against Malaysia in 1962-63 when Australian troops faced Indonesians across the borders of Borneo, and in Timor since the beginning of October 1975. A policy of pragmatic appeasement will serve only to encourage the hawkish generals in Jakarta. It certainly will not save East Timorese lives. It will certainly not be reassuring to Indonesia’s other neighbours, especially Papua New Guinea and Singapore.
A large number of us have signed a petition calling upon President Carter to take action. The signatories include Government and Opposition senators. The signatories must surely say to themselves: ‘It would be most hypocritical if we were not to take steps seriously to inquire into the situation in East Timor. We cannot pass the buck to the United States.’ Perhaps in the mire of our foreign policy relating to East Timor we can salvage some integrity, some sense of purpose in that we have tried to assist in every possible way to alleviate the sufferings of 600 000 people in East Timor. When we asked them to help us during the Second World War they answered us with their blood and 10 000 of them died assisting our troops in Timor. I have on my files statements by officers who led the Australian 2 /2nd Commando unit operating in Timor. They called upon Australians to assist the independent movement. This fact has already been acknowledged by members of the Sparrow Force. Senator Carrick acknowledged the debt we owe to the East Timorese. He also referred in a letter he wrote in late 1975 to a sturdy sense of independence among the East Timorese. Excommando Captain Alan Thompson from Sydney echoed this sentiment when he said: ‘We see independence as something the people want themselves. It would have been quite impossible to operate without the locals in the war. ‘
I move this motion for a senate select committee of inquiry into East Timor as a significant contribution that we in the Senate can make to obtain some semblance of human rights and justice for the people of East Timor. There is no escaping the plain simple fact that we must inquire into the allegation of atrocities. We must also establish the means whereby we can analyse in a comprehensive way several further questions relating to East Timor. There is considerable evidence which demands conscientious investigation and I am confident that the Timorese refugees, given the chance, would be prepared to appear before an inquiry. We have a substantial amount of other evidence pertaining to the 6 points of reference we proposed for the inquiry.
In recent days a large number of Australia’s most influential newspapers has called for more positive action on behalf of the East Timorese. Several major Australian newspapers have written strong editorials relating to these recent events in East Timor and I wish to draw the attention of honourable senators to several of them because Australian public opinion is outraged by the attitude that Australia has taken to the tragic turn of events in Timor. Australians are outraged by the impertinence of Mr Malik. The editorial in the Age this morning said under the heading: ‘Mr Malik, don’t be so rude’:
In threatening to turn on mass demonstrations against Australia the Indonesian Foreign Minister, Mr Malik, is behaving in a particularly nasty way over a particularly nasty issue. And there is a particularly nasty word Tor it: Blackmail. We do not like it, not one little bit, and we hope the Federal Government, after further consideration, will like it even less. And say so.
That is what is being asked of this Senate. The article continues:
Mr Malik has brought the Timor controversy to an ugly head. What he is saying is that if Mr Jim Dunn, an Australian public servant and former consul to Dili, continues to report allegations of Indonesian atrocities, Jakarta will retaliate by permitting’ demonstrations and other ‘ mass actions’ against the Australian Embassy in Jakarta. Leaving aside what Mr Malik may or may not mean by ‘permitting’, there is an inescapable point here: Mr Malik is introducing into the diplomatic sphere the very heavy handedness that he so fiercely denies his troops used in the military sphere in their conquest of East Timor, where the deaths of 5 Australian TV newsmen have still not been satisfactorily explained.
It is a most clumsy exercise from start to finish- if, indeed, we have seen the finish. Mr Malik called in the Australian Ambassador, Mr Woolcott, to convey Indonesia’s ‘grave concern ‘at Mr Dunn’s ‘hostile ‘activities . . .
This is one man, one citizen, who has taken the cause of East Timor to his heart and is prepared to jeopardise his job and his whole reputation. Yet Indonesia wants to intimidate Mr Dunn as it has endeavoured to intimidate the Australian Government. The editorial continues: . . and topped this off with gratuitous references to Australia’s treatment of its Aborigines- hinting that this might become a matter of public debate in Indonesia. Well, true, Australia’s attitude to the Aboriginal community still leaves much to be desired and its early history of brutal mistreatmentwhich apparently is what was really in Mr Malik’s mind- was obviously far worse. But what our colonial misdeeds of a bygone age have to do with the monstrous bloodletting alleged to have occurred in Timor (and on which Mr Dunn has painstakingly built up a substantial dossier from the accounts of refugees) is another matter. In fact, any comparison is absurd. It is a fruitless exercise in historical gymnastics. Mr Malik, no doubt, is well aware of this. Angered by the way today’s Indonesian game is going in Timor, he is jumping up and down crying ‘foul’ at last century’s match in Australia.
Mr Dunn is not representing the Government or relaying its attitudes. He is a private individual who has pursued the events in Timor with obvious compassion and who, more importantly so far as his present actions are concerned, has refused to accept that the full story of the Australian deaths has been disclosed by the Indonesian authorities . . .
It is a sorry commentary on the state of AustralianIndonesian relations when on one hand we have Mr Malik implying active reprisal against Australia and on the other Mr Peacock is having to assure the House that Mr Dunn will be ‘protected’ while in the US. It is all very well for Mr Peacock to harp once again, as he did yesterday, on the importance of bilateral relations. We accept the importance. What we do not accept is the intimidation that is going with it.
The Herald editorial had this to say:
The Foreign Minister’s statement to the Australian Parliament again sets out the reasons why the Indonesian military occupation of East Timor cannot be taken as a closed matter in accordance with the repeated protestations of Jakarta generals.
Mr Peacock pointed to our continued ‘opposition to the use of force to settle problems in the region’. This and much more in UN resolutions has been ignored by the Jakarta regime, whose ‘fact-finding mission ‘ which decided the East Timorese wanted integration into Indonesia has been in turn rebuffed by the General Assembly.
Mr Peacock also recalled that Australia has urged ‘consistently and strongly, that the International Red Cross be allowed to resume activity in East Timor’. Jakarta’s refusal of this and other kinds of outside access to East Timor has rebounded against its own interests.
Talking about Mr Dunn, it said:
Even if, like nobody before him, Congressman Fraser . . . with whom Mr Dunn is to have discussions shortly- . . (and accompanying experts?) is given complete freedom of movement, unlimited access to the local population, and reliable interpreters, that will still not cure the Timor sickness that afflicts Indonesia’s relations with some of its closest associates- Australia, the U.S., and The Netherlands. Only Jakarta’s compliance with UN resolutions, and courts martial proceedings against commanders identified with atrocity allegations can do that.
The sickness can only be exacerbated by such unfortunate threats as those attributed yesterday to the Indonesian
Foreign Minister, Mr Malik; a deeply disappointing reversion to the Soekarnoist tactic of permitting so-called spontaneous mob intimidation of embassies.
To show that there is widespread concern in Australian public opinion, yesterday’s editorial in the Sydney Morning Herald said:
What a great many Australians will find strange and unacceptable in this context is that neither the Jakarta Government nor the Australian Foreign Minister see fit to refer to the crux of the matter, which is the brutal murder of five Australian citizens during the Indonesian occupation of East Timor. No compensation has been paid for their deaths; nobody has been brought to trial. Nor is there any evidence that the Australian Government is pressing the matter. Australians will watch closely to see how Jakarta’s clumsy and insolent attempt to have Mr Dunn muzzled fares. That Australia’s Ambassador can be summoned in such a fashion for such a purpose is a measure of the easily predictable failure of the policies of appeasement pursued by Mr Whitlam and Mr Fraser alike.
These are public calls which we cannot ignore. To do so would be an abrogation of our responsibilities as senators and citizens. We have a responsibility as men and women concerned with human rights and justice not to let the situation in East Timor fade. To do so would be in effect to allow further atrocities to continue and if the Government parties in the party room have decided not to accept this motion or to send it to the Senate Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence, let them have on their consciences the fact that every day that we fail to take up this challenge, every day that we fail to deal with this issue, people are suffering, people are being killed, and people who look to Australia to assist them will regret the day that they placed their faith in Australia. A Senate select committee of inquiry can and should be our positive contribution. A select committee would enable honourable senators to approach the issue purposefully without the concern for priorities that will inhibit the Senate Foreign Affairs and Defence Committee pursuing such a reference. As I understand it, the Standing Committee is committed to a program which will take it through to the end of August before it will even deal with this issue and this is after all only mid-March. A select committee would be able to report much more quickly than the Standing Committee. It must be remembered that the Standing Committee has a heavy and important schedule. A select committee would have a clear task and priority.
For too long we have all done too little to stop this tragedy. For too long we have ignored the cry for help from this small country. For too long we have ignored the fact that people are being killed on our doorstep. If we are to redeem this situation in any way, all of us regardless of our political attitudes, must put aside the philosophies in which we believe and the stands we have taken in the past and accept the responsibility of appointing a Senate select committee of inquiry. Not to do so would be a shameful and disgraceful act and a further tragedy in a situation of continuing tragedies. We must not compound this tragedy. Therefore, I urge all my fellow senators to vote with me for this motion.
Debate (on motion by Senator Withers) adjourned.
Senate adjourned at 10.11 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated:
asked the Minister representing the Attorney-General, upon notice, on 8 March 1977:
– The Attorney-General has provided the following answers to the honourable senator’s questions:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Post and Telecommunications, upon notice, on 8 March 1977:
– The Minister for Post and Telecommunications has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
Task Force on Co-ordination in Welfare and Health (Question No. 68)
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice, on 8 March 1977:
Will the Prime Minister ascertain from each State social welfare Minister how long it took the respective State Governments to prepare their submissions to the Bailey Task Force.
– The Prime Minister has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
When the Task Force on Co-ordination in Welfare and Health visited each State following correspondence with each Premier, it found the State officers with whom it had discussions (they were from Social Welfare, Health and other Departments) fully and co-operatively ready to assist it in its task. It had no occasion to inquire, nor was it informed, of the nature or extent of the preparations State departments had made prior to its visit.
In the circumstances, I see no point in pursuing this matter further.
asked the Minister for Social Security, upon notice, on 9 March 1 977:
What alternative arrangements have been made with the States for the future funding of the Australian Assistance Plan.
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
Following an evaluation of the three-year pilot period of the Australian Assistance Plan, the Government considered that the program was ideally suited for administration and funding at the State and local government level.
In June 1976 the Prime Minister wrote to all State Premiers advising them of this decision and stating that Federal Government funding of the program would continue to 30 June 1977. $5.4m was allocated in the 1976-77 Budget for the Australian Assistance Plan. The twelve months funding was designed to allow sufficient time for State governments to devise their respective policies on the Australian Assistance Plan.
Also in the 1976-77 Budget was an increase in untied tax reimbursements for the States of $643m, raising the total to $3,7 16m. Grants to local government were increased in the Budget by $60m over 1 975-76 levels. These increases were a direct result of the Government’s federalism policy to enable State and local governments to support programs such as the Australian Assistance Plan, if they decided to do so.
Staff of the Department of Social Security with special knowledge of the Australian Assistance Plan are available, at any time, to advise and assist State governments.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 17 March 1977, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1977/19770317_senate_30_s72/>.