30th Parliament · 2nd Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Condor Laucke) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
-I present the following petition from 38 citizens of Australia:
To the Honourable the President and Members of the Senate, in Parliament assembled. We, the undersigned citizens of the Commonwealth, do humbly pray that the Commonwealth Government:
Subscribe to the view that the Australian Broadcasting Commission belongs to the people and not to the government of the day, whatever political party.
Eschew all means, direct or indirect, of diminishing the independence of the Australian Broadcasting Commission.
Reject all proposals for the introduction of advertising into ABC programs.
Develop methods for publicly funding the Commission which will prevent the granting or withholding of funds being used as a method of diminishing its independence.
Ensure that any general enquiries into broadcasting in Australia which may seem desirable from time to time shall be conducted publicly and that strong representation of the public shall be included within the body conducting the enquiry.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray.
Petition received and read.
– I present the following petition from 55 citizens of Australia:
To the Honourable President and Members of the Senate in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of the Central Coast, New South Wales, respectfully shows that:
The Central Coast Parents and Citizens’ Associations condemns the action of the Federal Government in issuing guidelines which effectively cut-back funds to Government Schools whilst increasing funds to private schools, in particular a few wealthy independent schools.
That we do not want education to revert to being used for political gain.
We call upon the Federal Government to make urgent financial assistance to education throughout Australia.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray.
Petition received and read.
– I present the following petition from 58 citizens of Australia:
To the Honourable the President and Members of the Senate in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned electors of the Newcastle and Hunter Region respectfully asks the Senate to take action to ensure that:
There be continuing and expanding funding for the Hunter Region Working Women’ s Group so that it can continue to provide child care, legal aid, community health, welfare and educational services to the women of the Hunter Region.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray.
Petition received and read.
– I present the following petition from 70 citizens of Australia:
To the Honourable President and Members of the Senate in Parliament assembled. The petition of the undersigned students, parents, teachers and citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
That the decision of the Government to withdraw all forms of financial assistance to students of non-State tertiary institutions in the main, business colleges, is in total conflict with stated Government education policy.
The decision will result in a shortage of places for training secretarial and clerical students and an inordinate demand upon the State Government technical education systems.
At a time of severe economic disruption, this action must lead to an unnecessary worsening of the current employment situation for school leavers.
Your petitioners, therefore, humbly pray that the Commonwealth Government will act immediately to reverse its decision.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray.
Petition received and read.
– Petitions have been lodged for presentation as follows:
To the Honourable the President and Members of the Senate in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
That those who have retired and those who are about to retire, are being severely and adversely affected by inflation and Australian economic circumstances.
The continuance of the means test on pensions causes undue hardship to them.
We call on the Government to immediately abolish the means test on all Aged Pensions.
To ensure a pension for all on retirement, and a guarantee that all Australian citizens will retire with dignity.
Acknowledge that a pension is a:
Right and not a charity’.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Senator Collard.
To the President and Members of the Senate assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned teachers of Australia respectfully showeth:
That the decision by the Government to withdraw all forms of financial assistance to students of non-State tertiary institutions is in total conflict with stated Government education policy.
The decision will result in a shortage of places for training secretarial and clerical students and an inordinate demand upon the State Government education systems.
At a time of severe economic disruption, this action must lead to a serious worsening of the current employment situation, particularly for school leavers.
Your petitioners, therefore, humbly pray that the Federal Government will act immediately to reverse its decision.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray.
At Melbourne Thursday 1 1 August, 1977. by Senator Sir Magnus Cormack.
To the Honourable the President and Members of the Senate, assembled, the petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
That many pensioners who are holders of the Pensioners Health Benefit Card, have suffered undue hardship as inmates of Private Nursing Homes, because the Federal Government subsidy was insufficient to meet the charges as laid down.
Many pensioners whose spouse was an inmate of the Private Nursing Homes suffered proverty in an endeavour to sustain their partner while in the nursing home.
Only in rare cases was the statutory minimum patient contribution as laid down adhered to.
That the telephone was a matter of life and death to many pensioners, but because of the cost of installation of the telephone many are unable to afford the installation.
That those pensioners who have only their pension and very little else to live on and are forced to pay high rents, are in many cases living in extreme poverty.
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 Baume and Senator Guilfoyle.
To the Honourable the President and Members of the Senate, in the Parliament assembled, the humble Petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
That the Charter of the United Nations clearly precludes it from interference in the domestic affairs of a country or from obstructing the free transmission of news and information between individuals and between nations.
That the United Nations, in apparent illegality, has imposed many restrictions and sanctions upon Rhodesia which has been remarkably free from the bloodshed and turmoil of Northern and Central African lands, even to the extent now of actively encouraging armed conflict against the legally elected Government of Rhodesia.
Lord Graham as Minister of External Affairs and Defence has said: ‘International Communism is our enemy, all this talk of political advancement and majority rule is no more than a smokescreen in the early skirmishes of an assault upon the whole of Africa . . . It is even difficult to see this enemy because it is not merely attacking us, but on a broad front is attacking the whole world order, its standards, its law and order, its moralities, its churches, its patriotisms, its philosophies and even much of its learning . . . ‘
That Communist Chinese infiltration in much of Africa over many years and Cuban Communist troops reported to number 25,000 are dominating nearby Angola, and possess modern missiles etc.
It is urgent that Mozambique, now under Communist domination and which has a common border with Rhodesia, does not receive any further aid from the Commonwealth Government of Australia, which has benefited mainly, the terrorist guerilla movements that are responsible for the deaths of many Rhodesian people.
It is urgent for the Australian people to determine for themselves the actual facts of the Rhodesian struggles.
It is urgent that the Senate and the House of Representatives in the Parliament assembled, will observe natural justice and proper humanity by inviting only authorised representatives of the present Rhodesian Parliament to Australia, to do what they have been deprived of doing previously, present their case fully and publicly so that this can be examined and tested, without interference, and so that the eventual impact on Australia’s own security and defence alliances can be gauged with better accuracy.
Your Petitioners request urgent action to be taken immediately.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Senator Sheil.
– by leave- Following discussions with the Opposition and the Senate Estimates committees involved, it has been agreed to vary the meeting times of Senate Estimates committees. Committees D, E and F will now sit from 12 noon until 10.30 p.m. on Thursday, 8 September, and will not sit on Friday, 9 September 1977. Committees A and C will sit from 12 noon until5 p.m. on Monday, 12 September 1977. Committee B will not sit on that day. Committees B, E and F will sit from 4 p.m. until 10 p.m. on Tuesday, 13 September, and Committees A, C and D will sit on Thursday, 15 September, from 12 noon until 5 p.m., or later at the discretion of the Committee. For the information of honourable senators I have had circulated a complete revised time-table of the sittings of the Estimates committees.
Mr President, I also inform the Senate that at the Placing of Business I will be moving that the Senate at its rising adjourn until 10.30 a.m. tomorrow, which is half an hour earlier than the normal time. I further advise the Senate that, again by arrangement and agreement, instead of the sitting of the Senate merely being suspended to allow Estimates committees to meet the Senate will be adjourned until Tuesday so that those who wish to go home on Thursday night and be in their electorate offices at 8 o’clock on Friday morning will be able to do so.
– The Senate will be adjourned after question time?
-The Senate will be adjourned after question time. Instead of the sitting of the Senate being suspended to enable the sitting of the Estimates committees, the Senate will be adjourned until Tuesday so that honourable senators may go back to their electorates, where they have electorate work.
– My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Prime Minister. I refer to a letter allegedly sent yesterday by Mr David Barnett, the Prime Minister’s Press Secretary, to the former Attorney-General, to the contents of the letter, which have been published, and to the fact that in the letter Mr Barnett asserted in relation to the former Attorney-General that he had asked for and received authority to guide the journalist who wrote the article in the Canberra Times which was influential in the resignation of the former Attorney-General. I ask: Is it correct that the Prime Minister’s Press Secretary did ask for and did receive authority to guide the journalist in respect of this matter? If so, what is the Prime Minister’s justification for a deliberate leak to the Press behind a Minister’s back in an attempt to force that Minister’s hand? Thirdly, is it correct that on previous occasions Mr David Barnett has sought and received authority to guide journalists in matters relating to the responsibilities of other Ministers in this Government?
-I shall answer that question not necessarily in the order in which it was asked. As to the last part of the question, I have no knowledge and can give the honourable senator no information, but I shall seek it for him. Before I come to the two particular parts of the question, I think it ought to be understood- I think most honourable senators do understand it; those honourable senators on Senator Button’s side of the chamber who have been in government would understand it- that members of the Press Gallery here quite often go to Ministers’ offices and, where a Press Secretary is available, to that Press Secretary, and say that they have information on a certain matter and intend to write a story in a certain way, and they seek confirmation. I do not object to that practice because often a journalist is able to be told that the information he has is incorrect and harm is not done to individuals in the community. I am not talking about harm to politicians. As I understand it, on the night in question a Mr Waterford went to see Mr Barnett, who, I understand, said in the letter written by him that he had authority- he did have authority- and said that he was going to write a story in a certain way because of certain information or facts that he had.
– Is that how he got the leak in the first place?
-No, Senator, I do not think that is true. I think one is entitled, until one can prove otherwise, to accept that what Mr Barnett said in that letter is correct. If the honourable senator wishes to assert that what Mr Barnett said in that letter is not correct, I think the onus lies on the honourable senator.
– I merely said I wondered where the leak came from in the first place.
-I do not know. Only Mr Waterford could answer that and I doubt very much whether he would be prepared to do so. I can understand why he would not be prepared to do so. It would be contrary to the normal ethics of the members of the Press Gallery for them to disclose their sources of information. I have not seen any denial or heard of any denial by Mr Waterford that what Mr Barnett said in that letter was correct. I would assume that there are two people who would know whether what was said in that letter was correct. One is Mr Waterford and the other is Mr Barnett. As far as I know Mr Waterford has not denied the correctness of what Mr Barnett has said. Therefore I think that one is entitled to assume, at this stage at least and until it is proved to the contrary, that what is said in that letter is correct.
asked about justification. Leaving aside the innuendoes, which I reject totally, I believe that there is justification for any member of the Press Gallery to go to any honourable senator or honourable member of this place, be he a Minister or otherwise, and say that in accordance with certain information he has he intends to write a story in a certain way. How the individual reacts is a matter for that individual’s judgment. I think it is often a matter for the honourable senator or honourable member being approached to judge whether or not the journalist is on a fishing expedition. A denial is often as good as an affirmation. But there can be circumstances- the honourable senator should not be impatient; he will get an opportunity to ask a supplementary question in a minute- in which the course which Mr Barnett took is justified. I believe that, on the night in question, what the Prime Minister’s Press officer did was justified in all the circumstances.
-I wish to ask a supplementary question. The implications of the Minister’s answer are that Mr Waterford went to Mr Barnett with a story which was incorrect and Mr Barnett then guided him with the purpose, one would assume, of correcting the story. I now ask: In view of the allegations made by the former Attorney-General, Mr Ellicott, that the contents of the article in the Canberra Times were totally incorrect, is the Minister now saying that Mr Barnett incorrectly guided Mr Waterford or that Mr Waterford was incapable of guidance in any form?
– From memory, from my perusal- a rare event- of Mr Waterford ‘s story in the Canberra Times on the day -
– Rare indeed.
– Yes, so rare that I can generally recall when I have read something. As I understand it what Mr Waterford reported was correct.
– My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Health or, alternatively, to the Minister representing the Minister for Environment, Housing and Community Development. I refer to the report in the Australian Financial Review of 30 August 1977 regarding the health dangers associated with the inhalation of asbestos dust which stated that the Asbestos Association of Australia was launching a campaign to dispel fears of the dangers of asbestos products. Is it true, as claimed, that Australia lags far behind the United Kingdom and Canada in the publicity given to the dangers of handling asbestos fibres? Do the records of the Department of Veterans’ Affairs and other departments disclose evidence of the serious health hazards, including the susceptibility to lung cancer, to persons working in the mining and processing of asbestos? Can the Minister ensure that consideration will be given to increasing the community awareness of the dangers by a government-sponsored publicity campaign?
– I will respond to the question as Minister representing the Minister for Health. If any other Minister wishes to add to what I have to say, I take it that he will do so. The Minister for Health is aware of the report in the Australian Financial Review of 30 August referring to the health hazards of the inhalation of asbestos dust particularly during the mining and processing of that substance. I am not completely aware of the records of the Department of Veterans ‘ Affairs or any other departments, but some hazards associated with asbestos have been well recognised, both nationally and internationally, for a considerable time. Recent advances in knowledge have increased concern by departments and industry. The susceptibility of asbestos miners to develop asbestosis, a chronic lung condition, and the fact that an association exists between exposure to certain asbestos containing ores and subsequent development of lung cancer, have been well documented.
Australia has been active in the introduction of preventive and control measures for these hazards, mainly through the States which have the main responsibility in this area. The legislation which exists in the States, or is soon to be brought about, is based on model regulations developed by the National Health and Medical Research Council. This body, which is advisory in nature to all governments in Australia, is currently producing an occupational health guide on asbestos. A working group of the Council is also considering, as a separate issue, the health aspects associated with the use of asbestos products in the construction industry. The questions of increased publicity on the health hazards of asbestos and increased community awareness are matters for individual State governments to determine. I will ensure that the recommendations of the National Health and Medical Research Council, when available, will be given wide publicity throughout the community.
– My question which is directed to the Attorney-General follows the question asked of Senator Withers by Senator Button. I ask the Attorney-General: Does he agree that the answer given by Senator Withers indicated a vagueness by Senator Withers as to the factual position? Does he share that vagueness? Does he recall that Senator Withers indicated that, in his belief, Mr Waterford ‘s article was correct? In view of the former Attorney-General’s resignation speech of yesterday in which he alleged that three statements contained in the Canberra Times were incorrect, which would support the belief of Senator Withers, I ask the AttorneyGeneral: Firstly, will he carry out investigations as to whether the former Attorney-General misled the Parliament in denying the accuracy of the published report? Secondly, if the investigations reveal that the former Attorney-General did not mislead the Parliament or if the present AttorneyGeneral believes that the former AttorneyGeneral did not mislead the Parliament, does this not mean that the Prime Minister’s office deliberately misled the journalist who published the article?
– Questions in this place addressed to Ministers or Attorneys-General are about matters within their direct responsibility and concern or matters of public interest. The questions that have been asked of Senator Withers by Senator Button and now of me by Senator Wriedt are not matters which have concerned me in my position as Attorney-General. At the time these events transpired I was a Minister in another area altogether.
I have no knowledge of or responsibility for any of the events which have been dealt with in the statements by the former Attorney and I do not propose to answer questions in respect of them. The only question now which is relevant to my administration is that asked by Senator Wriedt, namely, whether I will carry out an investigation into a statement that my predecessor, Mr Ellicott, made yesterday in the Parliament. I accept, and I believe that members of Parliament will accept, the statements made by the former Attorney. I cannot see any need for such an investigation and I have not any reason at all to carry one out.
- Mr President, I wish to ask a supplementary question. I ask the Minister: Is he saying that he is not prepared to defend in this place the integrity of the Prime Minister?
– The answer is no.
-You are not prepared?
-I said that I was not saying that.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Science. Some time ago the Minister outlined to the Senate the uses of the Australian Landsat system. I now ask the Minister: Is it anticipated that the Australian Landsat system, when it becomes operative, will be effective in identifying plantations of marihuana and assisting in the inderdiction of locally grown supplies of this drug?
– Landsat remote sensing satellites have the capability to detect a wide range of physical features on the surface of the earth. The sensors or cameras on the satellites record reflected light. The amount of light reflected varies according to the properties of the surface features below. This means that the feature has its own particular signature. Once the signature of the particular feature is known, it is possible to train a computer to recognise and identify this particular signature from amongst others.
Landsat is able to identify many crops ranging from cereals such as wheat, oats and barley, to vegetables such as tomatoes and onions. In North America over the past year or so remote sensing techniques using a combination of both Landsat and aircraft have been used for detecting illicit crops such as marihuana and opium for law enforcement purposes. The data which we will obtain once our Landsat facility is in operation will have the potential for purposes similar to those described by the honourable senator.
-I ask the Minister representing the Prime Minister: Does he agree that he is of a different opinion to his colleague, Senator Durack? Is the Senate correct in understanding that Senator Withers believes the article that was published in the Canberra Times to be correct and that his colleague the AttorneyGeneral believes the statement of the former Attorney-General that it was incorrect? Do we correctly understand the position?
-I am terribly sorry that the Opposition is so obtuse. I now have before me Mr Barnett ‘s letter of 6 September and Mr Waterford ‘s article of 16 August. Mr Barnett states:
Mr Waterford of The Canberra Times rang me on 15 August and put to me in considerable detail a story that he had gleaned from sources he did not disclose. He said that he had been shown documents, told that you -
That is Mr Ellicott- had threatened to resign, and told also that the Prime Minister -
This is the gut part of what I am talking about- wished to see the case against Mr Whitlam, Dr Cairns, the late Mr Connor and Mr Justice Murphy pursued.
Since this was incorrect -
That is, that the Prime Minister wished the case to be pursued-
I asked for, and received, authority to guide Mr Waterford.
I did so on this one matter only, his misapprehension about the role of the Prime Minister. I told him it was the Prime Minister’s view that these matters should not be prosecuted and that they were resolved in the elections of 975.
If honourable senators turn to page 1 of the Canberra Times of Tuesday 16 August 1977-I was calling on memory, which cannot be too badthey will see that in the second column of Mr Waterford ‘s article he stated:
The Government’s view, they said, was that the electorate had passed its judgment on the overseas loans affair at the 1975 elections and that the matter should stop.
That is what I said in answer to Senator Button, who had asked me about Mr Barnett’s letter. Mr Barnett’s letter was about one matter and one matter only- as Mr Barnett puts it, the misapprehension about the role of the Prime Minister. Mr Barnett said in his letter:
I told him -
That is Mr Waterford- it was the Prime Minister’s view that these matters should not be prosecuted and that they were resolved in the elections of 1975.
Mr Waterford wrote:
The Government’s view, they said, was that the electorate had passed its judgment on the overseas loans affair at the 1975 elections and that the matter should stop.
I think it is fair to say that that was a fair and accurate report in the Canberra Times as against what Mr Barnett is saying he told Mr Waterford on the night of 1 5 August.
– Could I ask a supplementary question to clarify the position? Is Senator Withers in fact saying that he disagrees with the statement that was issued yesterday by the former Attorney-General?
– I am saying no such thing. I do not know how often one has to say this. On 6 September Mr David Barnett wrote to the former Attorney-General, Mr Ellicott, and informed him about a conversation with Mr Waterford. I was originally asked whether or not I thought what Mr Waterford said was accurate. All I am saying now is that Mr Barnett guided Mr Waterford on one matter and one matter only, according to Mr Barnett’s letter. Mr Waterford, as I read his article of Tuesday 16 August, also reported in the same way as Mr Barnett wrote to Mr Ellicott. I have added nothing to that and subtracted nothing from it.
-My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Treasurer. Has the South Australian Government recently made public statements to the effect that interest rates will be brought down, presumably by its own action, and claiming that the Federal Government refuses to do so? Further, has the South Australian Government also claimed that the Federal Government should expand its deficit so as to provide the States with more funds for State spending? Is it not a fact that the expansion of the federal deficit would force the Federal Government to borrow more funds from the public, thereby forcing up interest rates? Is this not yet another example of cheap headline grabbing by the South Australian Government in the course of a State election campaign, which is totally illogical, devoid of economic principle, and designed to confuse the South Australian people as to the real issues?
– Once upon a time South Australia was a State which had very sound economic advice. That seems to have passed away in later years. The people who knew something about how to handle economic affairs, both in the public sense and in the private sense, do not appear to be there today. I knew some of them; so I have some respect for what I used to think was a very sensible view. It is perfectly true that for the State to demand a great deal more money from the Commonwealth is to expand the Commonwealth deficit. It is equally true that to fund that causes the Commonwealth to go into the market and bid for money. That must put up interest rates. So the proposition of the South Australian Premier is, of course, economically stupid. It is the Commonwealth’s job to manage the economy and to look at the interest rate structure. It is well known that the Treasurer said at the last Premiers Conference that, with the declining inflation which was then apparent, it was hoped that the Commonwealth could lead interest rates down. He did not state when or by how much. That was his broad stated aim. That is both wise and sensible. If we can keep inflation going down we can then see a big improvement in that area. Equally it should be noted that it was the Labor Government that put interest rates up, much to our great harm and detriment.
-My question is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. As he does not read newspapers as a rule, I would like to draw his attention to a cartoon in this morning’s Australian which depicts Mr Ellicott sitting at the table, writing out his resignation and saying to Mr Fraser ‘How do you spell principle?’, and Mr Fraser replying ‘Prince who?’, indicating that there was a lack of principle in the whole issue. I refer the Minister to remarks made by Mr Fraser in his resignation speech on 9 March 1 97 1 when he said:
Does the Minister not agree that the Prime Minister’s action as revealed in Mr Ellicott ‘s resignation speech, in speaking to the Solictor-General prior to consulting with the Attorney-General, was a clear breach of ‘chains of command’ and according to Mr Fraser ‘s own previous stand was unprincipled?
– I can understand, of course, why Senator O ‘Byrne reads cartoons. I am surprised that he does not also get colour ones.
– Very funny.
– Well, the honourable senator likes to be funny, or so he thinks. I suppose that every Senate has to have a clown. I have not read Mr Ellicott ‘s resignation speech. It is something I hope to do later this day. Nor do I recall the speech the present Prime Minister made in 1971. 1 realise the predilection honourable senators opposite have for living in the past. We on this side of the Parliament prefer to live in the future.
-My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Transport. Will the Minister give the closing date for claims for assistance to primary producers under the southbound freight equalisation scheme for goods purchased in that retrospective period after 1 July 1976 and before 1 July 1977?
– My advice is that Tasmanian primary producers may claim freight assistance on eligible goods shipped from the mainland on or before 1 July 1976. In the case of goods shipped before July 1977 the claim should be made before the end of October 1977. Primary producers who experience difficulty in making their claims by this deadline should be advised to contact the Department of Transport.
-I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry. I refer to the current conflict on the high seas off the coast of Albany and to a homicidal harpoonist who is trying to incapacitate someone from the Friends of the Earth. I ask the Minister: In the guise of law and order do we intend sending any naval craft to combat this outbreak of lawlessness by the whalers?
-The use of the words homicidal harpoonist ‘is the nicest piece of alliteration I have heard for years. I know nothing about this matter but if anybody is loose on the high seas throwing around harpoons I shall certainly try to find out and have something done about it.
– By way of supplementary information let me say that this information is based on a report which appeared in a very reputable newspaper, the Sydney Morning Herald.
-I am delighted to hear that the information is based upon an article which appeared in that journal of great repute. Accordingly, I shall take it even more seriously.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Education. Is he aware of a Press statement issued by the Northern Territory Teachers Federation dated 2 September 1977 regarding the Federation’s stand on uranium mining, in which it supports the left wing of the Labor Party in an indefinite moratorium and supports the Trades and Labour Council’s present stand? Further, as the Northern Territory Teachers Federation has directed its members not to serve in schools within the uranium area, will the Minister ensure that parents and children will not suffer because of the lack of teachers by employing teachers now in the Northern Territory within the Education Department who are not members of the Northern Territory Teachers Federation? Will he ensure their freedom from harassment, as requested by the Federation itself in pursuing its own militant policies? Will the Minister comment further on the Government’s attitude to the Federation’s four key issues in its statement, including the point that it believes this decision is a protection of its members against potential health risks involved in living in an area where uranium is mined?
-I did see that Press release and I have it available to me here. I regret very much indeed that such a Press release should have been issued because it is based on very serious fallacies and must create considerable concern and alarm to people who deserve a better fate in that regard. The Press release, as Senator Kilgariff said, is based on a statement issued by the Northern Territory Teachers Federation which says that it: . . believes this decision is a protection of its members against potential health risks involved in living in an area where uranium is mined.
I want to say- every honourable senator should in fact let the community notice- that the Fox report itself gives the lie to that.
– It is a misinterpretation.
– I always like these pregnant silences because they highlight the ignorance of honourable senators opposite. The second Fox report states:
The hazards of mining and milling uranium, if those activities are properly regulated and controlled, are not such as to justify a decision not to develop Australian uranium mines . . .
What the Fox report states is that with proper supervision there are no health hazards. It is important for these scaremongers, who have no other arguments, to be reminded that for 20 years the mining, milling and nuclear reactor use of uranium have existed throughout the world and if there are health hazards no emphatic evidence has been produced. In fact, there are some 200 nuclear reactors operating in 20 countries today and some 400 nuclear reactors are on order. What the Northern Territory Teachers Federation is saying parallels what the Australian Labor Party is saying. It is asking for an indefinite moratorium so that we- all Australiansshall opt out of our global concern and remain impotent and emasculate on the sidelines in regard to the great issues of nuclear proliferation and disposal of waste. Regardless of what we do, there will be nuclear reactors and there will be mining of uranium throughout the world.
- Mr President, I rise to take a point of order. If the Minister is to extend his answer so that he engages in a debate on this matter, surely we on this side of the Senate chamber should have the opportunity to enter into that debate and refute some of the statements that he is making. He has extended his answer unnecessarily. In fairness to us on this side of the Senate, if he wants to have a debate on the matter, he, as a Minister, can initiate a debate at a later stage.
– The Minister for Education will continue with his reply in the manner he deems necessary in response to the question that was asked.
- Mr President, I am grateful for the interjections because they show where my remarks hurt. This ought to remind Labor Party Opposition senators of the memorandum of understanding signed by their Labor Leader, Mr Whitlam, some 10 days before the actual collapse of their Government on 11 November 1975. At that time, Mr Whitlam and the Labor Party unanimously pledged their support to the mining and milling of uranium on the Ranger site- in this very area that they are now disputing. The Government is concerned globally about the two great issues of waste and nuclear proliferation. It is not willing to remain emasculate and impotent. In fact, it will play its full part in achieving in this world the most rigid rules for the disposal of waste and the best way to ensure that plutonium is not made. Those who say that they will stand on the sidelines and deny a supply of uranium in fact will create a scarcity of uranium and force the use of fast breeder reactors instead of light water nuclear reactors. While light water nuclear reactors are in use in the world community, there is not the risk of plutonium being processed. Those who seek to create a scarcity of uranium, as the Australian Labor Party and this Teachers Federation wants to do, are in the business of proliferating the use of plutonium.
- Mr President, I wish to raise a point of order. The Minister is turning the proceedings of the chamber into a farce. I believe that in the circumstances he ought to be made to comply with the Standing Orders which govern the asking of questions and the replies given to questions and allow for some sort of dignity in this chamber -
-Which Standing Order?
– The honourable senator can look at half a dozen of them. Failing this, it is obvious that the Minister will need psychiatric or medical treatment in a hurry. Something has to be done about this matter.
– It is true that Ministers must not debate the subject matter of a question just as a questioner must not in any way debate the subject matter in his presentation of that question. The ideal is to have brief and to the point questions and answers. But a Minister may always reply to a question in a manner he considers fitting to the way in which it was presented. I call the Leader of the Opposition, Senator Wriedt.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Health. During that outburst we have just listened to from Senator Carrick, did she hear him say that there is no danger to public health in the mining of uranium? Does she agree with that statement?
– I do not recall the words that were used by Senator Carrick in his answer to the question that was asked. But I do draw the attention of Senator Wriedt and the Senate to the statement that I made on behalf of the Minister for Health when we were announcing the uranium mining proposals some days ago in the Senate. There was a statement from the Minister for Health which covered the matters raised in the question and also referred to by Senator Carrick.
-I wish to ask a supplementary question. Did the Minister for Health say that there was no danger to public health in the mining of uranium?
– All the statements that were made by Ministers of the Government talked of the safeguards and the other matters which had been considered before the statements were released. The statement of the Minister for Health was quite specific with regard to the Government’s concern for health matters and the safeguards to be undertaken if any of the developments were to proceed.
– I ask a question of Senator Guilfoyle in her capacity as Minister representing the Minister for Health. Is the Government planning for the construction by the Health Insurance Commission or Medibank of a headquarters building in the Australian Capital Territory? If so, can the Minister say what stage planning has reached? Where is it intended that such a building be constructed? When is construction likely to commence?
– The Health Insurance Commission sought Government approval to proceed with the construction of a building. The Cabinet has approved this request and the Commission has decided to proceed with the construction of a multi-storey office building to be located in the Woden Town Centre near the Department of Health. It should be understood that currently the Commission staff of about 350 people is housed in six different locations. As a consequence, the Health Insurance Commission has decided in the interests of cost containment and administrative efficiency to construct its own headquarters. The Commission has this authority under its enabling Act and it will finance this project by using Medibank Private funds for the purpose of an investment under the Health Insurance Act. Construction is expected to commence in November of this year and the building is expected to be completed early in 1 979 at an estimated cost of $4.6m.
-My question, which is directed to the Minister for Administrative Services, relates to the proposed electoral redistribution. The Minister will recall that on 17 February last, when he presented amendments to the Commonwealth Electoral Act to the Parliament, he laid down a timetable for the proposed redistribution of electorates. The Minister will recall also that at one stage the work that was involved was behind schedule. I now ask the Minister: How is the work of the commissioners proceeding? Is it in accordance with that timetable or, if not, what is the proposed new timetable that is involved? Are the distribution commissioners about to consider any objections and suggestions that have been lodged with them in writing? Will he ensure that they consider only the written objections that are proposed to them and that they are in no way influenced by the public statements that have been made from time to time by officials of the Liberal Party and Liberal Party members of Parliament about their already published proposals? Will he ensure that the commissioners carry out their final task, so far as the redistribution is concerned, completely in accordance with all the principles laid down in the Act?
– I can certainly assure the honourable senator with regard to the latter part of his question because I have heard no criticism from any person in the community concerning the 1 8 people appointed in Australia to carry out this task. This is more than can be said for those appointed by my predecessor in the Labor Government when at least one of the commissioners was a known member of the Labor Party, or was alleged to be a known member of the Labor Party. Nor have I as Minister had any conversation or any direct or indirect contact with any of the distribution commissioners since this matter started, unlike my predecessor, who once called upon one of the commissioners on a Sunday morning. Senator Douglas McClelland ought to know this because I object to some of the innuendoes in his question. There has been no complaint whatsoever as to the calibre of the 1 8 people appointed.
-Members of your party have been deliberately making public utterances in an endeavour to influence them.
-That is nonsense. They have been making public statements because they are entitled to make public statements. If the honourable senator thinks he can muzzle the people of this country by that tactic, he has another think coming. In February last I tabled in this place a time-table which the Chief Electoral Officer hoped to be able to achieve. The time-table started somewhat late because, from memory, the legislation went through the Parliament a little later than was intended.
As to whether there is a new time-table, there is virtually no such thing as a time-table as such, in what one might call definitive terms, from the moment a redistribution starts, apart from certain statutory periods. As honourable senators will know, from the moment the maps are displayed in the post offices there is 30 days for anybody in the community to make objections to the tentative proposals. At the end of the 30 days the commissioners consider those objections. There is no legislative requirement on them to take either a maximum or a minimum time. There is no capacity in me to direct that they take a certain time, and I have not done anything about it. I do not know how long the commissioners in the six States will take to consider the objections they have received. Whether they take note of written objections only or other objections is not for me to say. As I recall the Commonwealth Electoral Act, I do not know whether it says that objections must be in writing. If they must be in writing, I am quite certain that written objections will be the only ones to which the commissioners will give any credence.
I do not know when the final reports will come down. I expect that they will come down at different periods. I expect that, as the Tasmanian maps were out first and as there are only five electorates in Tasmania, the final maps for that State will be out first. I also expect that, as New South Wales and Victoria were the last States for which maps were published and as they have 43 and 33 seats respectively, the objections in those States will take longer to consider. All I can say to honourable senators is that I can assure the
Parliament and the public at large that I believe the distribution commissioners have gone about their task with diligence, integrity and honesty. I know of nobody in the community who has any justification for any complaint about the way in which they have carried out their duties.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for National Resources. He will recall that last year I directed to him a question with respect to the future of AMDEL, the Australian Mineral Development Laboratories in South Australia, which since its inception, I think in the mid-1950s, has been supported jointly by the South Australian Government, the Commonwealth Government and private industry both financially and by the provision of work for that institution. The Minister indicated that some consideration was being given by the Commonwealth to this matter. Can he say whether the Cabinet has made a decision concerning Commonwealth funding for that establishment? If not, will he see that this matter is given urgent consideration?
-I cannot recall the Government’s decision with any particularity. I think one has been made. I certainly will seek the information for the honourable senator as a matter of urgency.
-My question is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. I refer to comments made by Mr Fraser in his resignation speech on 9 March 1971 in which he referred to Mr Gorton, as he then was, in the following terms:
Since his election to office, the Prime Minister has seriously damaged the Liberal Party and cast aside the stability and sense of direction of earlier times. He has a dangerous reluctance to consult Cabinet, and an obstinate determination to get his own way.
Does the Minister not agree that the private briefing by the Prime Minister’s staff of a journalist on matters relating to a Minister indicates that Mr Fraser ‘s comments in 197 1 have an unerring resemblance to the events relating to Mr Ellicott ‘s resignation?
-I was never a Minister in the time of Sir John Gorton; so I would not be able to judge whether the remarks made by one of his ex-Ministers were correct or incorrect. But I am a Minister under the present Prime Minister and I can assure honourable senators that the remarks which Mr Fraser applied to the then
Prime Minister do not apply to the present Prime Minister. That is the answer on that point. I have forgotten what was the second part of the question.
– The matter relative to the journalists.
-I thought I had dealt with that earlier. I would again say to the honourable senator: Please read Mr Barnett ‘s letter of 6 September 1 977. 1 repeat that he said:
Since this was incorrect, I asked for, and received, authority to guide Mr Waterford.
I did so on this one matter only, his misapprehension about the role of the Prime Minister. I told him it was the Prime Minister’s view that these matters should not be prosecuted and that they were resolved in the elections of 1975.
I fail to see what that has to do with the honourable senator’s question.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs. The Minister may be aware that a delay of several months is occurring between the date of approval of a war service home loan and the availability of loan funds to the applicant. Will the Minister indicate whether any action can be taken to streamline the procedures so that the loan moneys will be available to the applicants more expeditiously?
– The present waiting period of 1 1 months for defence service homes loans was introduced by the previous Labor Government on 1 August 1975. It is a policy which regretfully we have had to continue because of the economic situation and the restraints on public expenditure. I want to emphasise that the waiting period applies only to the purchase of new and previously occupied homes, not to applications for a loan to build a home. The question seems to imply that the waiting period is due to administrative problems or something like that. I want to assure the Senate that that is not the case. It was, as I have said, a policy deliberately introduced by the former Government on 1 August 1975. It is certainly a matter of concern that there should be a waiting period of that length. Of course, to eliminate the waiting period would require a very considerable increase in the Budget appropriation for the defence service homes scheme. As I have said, in view of the Budget strategy and the problems that we have faced as a Government in reducing the large deficit and so on it has not been possible for us to make that sort of money available to eliminate the waiting period. I would like to add, however, that under the new policy which I announced as the responsible Minister 10 per cent of the funds provided will be set aside to meet urgent cases of need. If applicants can satisfy the Government of their need- financial need, or need for accommodationthey will be eligible to receive a loan as soon as possible and will not be subject to that waiting period.
-Can the Minister for Social Security inform the Parliament whether an application submitted by the Townsville City Council for the construction of a child day care centre on land situated at Bundock Street, Townsville, has been approved? If approval has been granted, when will the Townsville City Council be officially advised?
– I am not aware of the details of the matter. I shall search it out and advise the honourable senator accordingly as soon as I have the information.
– I ask the Minister for Science to advise the Senate of the success or otherwise of the arrangements for a mail drop onto Macquarie Island in the sub-Antarctic.
– The honourable senator has asked a question on an important matter. Today is quite an historic day. Honourable senators may know that today a Royal Australian Air Force Orion aircraft made a drop of mail onto Macquarie Island. It took off from Sale in Victoria at about 8. 10 a.m. and was over Macquarie Island at noon. It is of interest that it carried with it Senator Townley.
– That is the second time he has been there in two months.
-There is a complaint from an honourable senator from Tasmania that this is the second time Senator Townley has been there. The fact that the question was raised by a Liberal senator from Tasmania and the fact that a Liberal senator, as the Leader of the Opposition said, has now made a second trip over this Territory, acknowledges how important that area is to the Liberal Party in Tasmania. As we know, Macquarie Island is part of Tasmania. The interest of Senator Archer, Senator Townley and other honourable senators in it is quite great. The historic event, which, incidentally, should have occurred earlier if other governments had been sufficiently interested, involved the dropping of two storepedoes from a height of 200 to 300 feet. They contained mail and articles from the relatives and friends of the 20 expeditioners who have been down in the Territory since November 1976. It is a long time and we in Australia have a responsibility to see that better attention is given to the expeditioners who represent us down in that sub-Antarctic Territory.
Besides the mail articles which were dropped- these included personal messages and articles from relatives and friends- I sent a personal letter to each of the expeditioners. James Chocolates Pty Ltd and also the Australian Dried Fruits Association sent items for the expeditioners. I understand that the RAAF dropped some fresh vegetables and fruit to the expeditioners. This particularly important event should be recognised. We should understand that a flight such as that is over 1,100 nautical miles. That is a long distance to fly. I think we should be very appreciative to the Minister for Defence for making ohe of the training flights available. Senator Archer’s question is gratefully acknowledged.
– I ask the Minister for Industry and Commerce: Is it a fact that the Industries Assistance Commission in investigating industry assistance and problems does not do so in the context of the economy as a whole? Is it this failure that has caused the LAC to be now the subject of an independent review as announced by the Government? Will the Minister advise the Senate of the purpose of the Crawford inquiry and whether the objective investigations, as distinct from the recommendation of the Industries Assistance Commission, will be affected by the new inquiry?
-The then Prime Minister, Mr Whitlam, in a letter that he wrote to Sir John Crawford when he suggested that he might look into the capacity of creating a body like the Industries Assistance Commission to review assistance to all industries, specifically said that it was to be an advisory, fact finding body to provide information to a government from which to make policy decisions. That view was reinforced by Sir John when he reported. The IAC was then set up by the previous Government with the support at the time of the Opposition. The policy of the Liberal and National Country Parties in 1975 was equally quite precise. The IAC is an independent, fact finding body. It takes references from the Government to ascertain facts, reports back to the Government and takes into account certain guidelines about which we need information, such as the effect on employment among other matters. The IAC is asked to do that so governments can make policy decisions on those facts. This Government has accepted some recommendations. Some it has not accepted. Some it has changed. Some it has sent back for further work. That is the basic situation about the IAC. It still carries out that role and will continue to do so. The special group headed by Sir John Crawford has been asked to look into the separate problem of the long term adjustment needs of very highly protected industries to see what are the parameters of the problem and what might be possible solutions. That is not an IAC task. It is a separate task of a group of people headed by Sir John Crawford.
-I ask the Minister for Social Security: Is it a fact that the Government intends to introduce legislation to amend the Social Services Act specifically to exclude school leavers from receiving unemployment benefit until after school resumes following the Christmas holidays?
– The Government is giving consideration to the matter of school leavers at present. The Government has taken no decision on what action will be taken, but I have undertaken to make an early announcement so that there will be time for school leavers to be fully aware of the Government’s proposals in this connection.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry and /or the Minister representing the Minister for Health. I really will not haggle as to which one should give me a reply as long as I get a reply. The question relates to the apprehension and detention of foreign owned fishing vessels off the Australian coast. I think a prosecution was launched about the beginning of August. According to information I was given quite recently of the 17 crew members of a foreign fishing vessel held in Darwin, 14 had venereal disease and two had tuberculosis. The Minister might like to confirm those figures. I ask: What conditions prevail following the apprehension of foreign owned vessels? Are crews automatically placed in quarantine or are they placed under arrest, in which case there could be some danger of transmission of disease? I remember that quite recently, following the arrival of a large number of refugees, for some reason unknown and particularly incomprehensible to the people of Kununurra they were taken to that township and then moved to Wyndham for quarantine. So I again ask: What are the conditions of quarantine, particularly those which apply at Darwin and at the north-west ports on the Western Australian coast?
– I have taken note of the matters raised with regard to disease amongst crew members of foreign fishing vessels. I have no information about quarantine arrangements that I can give, but I undertake to draw the matter to the attention of the Minister for Health. I have also noted the reference to refugees and, similarly, I will see that it is placed before the Minister. I will see that Senator Coleman has an answer on these matters.
– I direct my question to the Minister for Education. I draw to his attention the fact that on several occasions when nongovernment schools have been mentioned, they have been described as privileged, wealthy schools. Can the Minister indicate whether this is a correct description of schools in the nongovernment sector? If it is not a correct description, can he indicate the true situation of schools in the non-government sector?
– They put up a straw man to knock him down.
– With or without help from the Opposition, perhaps the best answer would be to refer Senator Baume and the community to the various reports of the Schools Commission over the years in which the Commission has pointed out that the great bulk of non-government schools are suffering considerably from a lack of resources, both human and physical, by contrast with government schools. In other words, what the Schools Commission has said is that 90 percent of all primary students attending non-government schools are in its category 6 which is the category for schools most seriously disadvantaged. So 90 per cent are very seriously disadvantaged.
The Schools Commission has pointed out in past reports that whereas the government schools are, thank goodness, moving to surpass the goals set by the Karmel Committee for the early 1980s, the gap of physical resources as between government schools and non-government schools is widening. If one were to look for a categorisation of an average government school, it would probably be just above the Schools
Commission’s category 3. If one were to look for a categorisation of non-government schools, they would be between categories 5 and 6. So in short, those who talk about non-government schools and refer to them as being privileged are wide of the facts. The great bulk of them are very seriously disadvantaged.
– At the previous sitting a motion was moved by Senator Harradine, pursuant to Standing Order 364, and agreed to, that a document quoted from by Senator O ‘Byrne be laid upon the table. Senator O ‘Byrne thereupon tabled page one of a document, from which he stated that he had quoted. Senator Harradine raised a point of order as to whether the whole document should be tabled. Discussion then ensued and I stated that I would consider the matters raised and give a ruling at this sitting. First, I inform the Senate that, at the rising of the House last night. Senator 0 ‘Byrne handed to the Clerk the remainder of the document, which with Senator O ‘Byrne’s concurrence I table.
I will now consider the question whether, within the meaning of Standing Order 364, a senator is required to table that part of a document from which he has quoted or the whole document. The question is an important one, with many implications, and I may add that I appreciate the comments made by senators in the discussion that ensued last night on the point of order. I have not found the matter an easy one to determine, particularly in view of the wording of the Standing Order, the many nuances of various precedents, and the obvious practical difficulties to which the Standing Order gives rise. The Standing Order has operated, unamended, since 1 September 1903, and senators may be interested in the following extract from Hansard of 9 October 1901 when the proposed Standing Order was being considered:
Senator DRAKE; This is a new standing order. A Senator may be reading from a newspaper, or from some equally bulky document. Is it intended that he shall be required to lay that upon the table of the Senate immediately?
Senator CLEMONS;If he quotes from it, why not?
That is not conclusive, but I think there is an inference there that the whole document from which a senator quotes should be tabled. If it were otherwise, a quotation may be made out of context and the tabling of the complete document provides the Senate with the means of checking the completeness or correctness of a quote, if it is so desired. A circumstance may arise, I recognise, where a document forms part of a file containing other documents not relevant to the document from which a senator has quoted. I can see no justification whatever for any view that such unrelated documents should be required to be tabled and, if a question arose whether any documents were in fact related to the document quoted from, the statement of the senator concerned should, I believe, be accepted.
The Senate may wish the whole operation of Standing Order 364 to be referred to the Standing Orders Committee and, if that is the wish of any honourable senator, I shall readily do so. In the meantime, and subject to the will of the Senate, I rule that an order to table a document pursuant to Standing Order 364 means the whole document which a senator has in his possession and from which he quotes. I further rule that any documents forming part of a file from which a senator has quoted, but which have not been quoted from and are not relevant to the document from which a senator has quoted, are not required to be tabled.
-by leave-I wish to make a short explanation and seek your ruling, Mr President. Having realised that the document from which I quoted would be controversial, I gave the document to the Clerk at the completion of the sitting. However, since you have tabled that document, Mr President, it has gone out of the hands of the Clerk and into Senator Harradine ‘s hands. Senator Harradine has no right to that document until it is processed by the Clerk, and this matter was dealt with by the Standing Orders Committee. Yet Senator Harradine, who wishes to make use of this document in a matter in Tasmania, has taken it out of the hands of the Clerk. I believe that this is a complete contradiction of the spirit of the provisions relating to the tabling of documents, and I would like your ruling on it, Mr President.
- Mr President, to formalise this, perhaps I should ask for leave to move a motion that the Senate take note of the statement.
– Do you mean the statement of the President?
-The statement that the President has just put down.
– The ruling.
-I will move that the Senate take note of the ruling.
– Are you going to move it now?
– Yes; if the Senate gives me leave I will move it, and then honourable senators can speak to the motion and we will put things in order.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
Mr President, I think the Senate ought to thank you for the consideration you have given to this matter. I must say that I find the ruling attractive. I also indicate that I think the suggestion you have made in the last paragraph, that perhaps the matter ought to be referred to the Standing Orders Committee, is a good one. Senator Cavanagh wishes to say a few words and perhaps Senator Harradine does too. After that perhaps Senator Georges or the Government Whip will move that the debate be adjourned, and we can hope to see this matter raised later in the Standing Orders Committee.
- Mr President, I accept your invitation in the ruling you have given. You said that if any honourable senator desired to have this matter referred to the Standing Orders Committee you would willingly refer it. I am of the belief that it should be referred to the Committee to ascertain whether the wording of the Standing Orders should be more concise. I congratulate you, Mr President, on your ruling on this question. It is a ruling with which I completely concur. I think it is the logical ruling in this instance.
I am concerned that Senator Withers seems to know all the ways to avoid the provisions of the Standing Orders, in that he suggested last night that when an honourable senator gets wise he photostats only that portion of the document that he wants to quote and brings that into the Senate and quotes it. Then if an honourable senator asks for the document to be tabled it is only that document which the honourable senator has in his hand that has to be tabled. That practice would defeat the very purpose of your ruling, Mr President, in that a quotation taken out of context may give a completely false impression of what the author of the document intended. Therefore I would like the Standing Orders Committee to go into the question of whether it is desirable and practical to provide in the Standing Orders that an honourable senator who quotes from a document, whether the full document is in the Senate or not, should produce the whole of the document, on the demand of the Senate, so that it can be read in its full context.
In asking that either you, Mr President, or the Standing Orders Committee has a look at that point I would just add that I think we would be going into a whole range of other questions if we referred to what was done with the document which was tabled by SenatorO ‘Byrne. I do not think it is relevant to the particular point. We do not want to open up another Pandora’s box as a result of something arising out of this attempt to influence something that may be happening in Tasmania. I think enough damage has been done to two people in Tasmania by the utterances in this place last night. I would like the matter to go before the Standing Orders Committee for consideration.
- Mr President, I would move that the debate be now adjourned.
– First of all, let me take up the point that Senator Cavanagh has raised. I said in my statement that if any honourable senator indicated a desire that this matter be referred to the Standing Orders Committee it would be done. I accept Senator Cavanagh ‘s desire that it be done. It shall be done. In reply to SenatorO ‘Byrne, let me say that the document to which he referred was handed to Senator Harradine after I had formally tabled it here this afternoon, not before. I call Senator Georges.
-Mr President -
- Mr President, having been invited- it was suggested -
– Order! I have called Senator Georges.
– I do not wish to stifle the debate in any way. I think we had a consensus- it was indicated by the Leader of the Government (Senator Withers)-that it might be wise to adjourn this debate and I would move that way.
– I said that the debate should be adjourned after Senator Harradine had spoken.
– If that is the case and if that is what the Leader of the Government wants, I shall enter the debate later.
– This is not merely a technical matter. It is a matter of grave importance. Last night I moved, pursuant to Standing Order 364 -
-I rise to a point of order. I ceded the point for the purpose of allowing some general comments to be made. We are now fully aware of what will happen- a full scale debate will take place on something that was raised last night and not on the matter before us now. For that reason, perhaps I should revert to my original proposal and move for the adjournment of the debate.
– Order! The only matters to which you can refer now Senator Harradine are those contained in my statement which I have just read. You must strictly confine your remarks to my statement.
– That is precisely to what I am referring. In your statement, Mr President, you make mention of the fact that last night I moved a motion pursuant to Standing Order 364. That is all I have stated thus far. Senator Georges is attempting to cut me off in mid stream. The Hansard record will show that that is precisely what I have said up to this point in time. I repeat: Last night I moved, pursuant to Standing Order 364, that the document from which Senator O ‘Byrne had been quoting be laid on the table of the Senate. That motion was adopted. Senator O ‘Byrne, as you said Mr President, tabled page 1 of the document last night. I stated at that time that SenatorO ‘Byrne detached that page from the document from which he was quoting containing several pages. That was confirmed by Senator Baume and observed by a number of other honourable senators. The question of what constitutes a document was left for you, Mr President, to rule on, which you have done today. An inspection of the page tabled by SenatorO ‘Byrne last night clearly revealed that it did not constitute the complete document. If we are going to talk about what should be tabled when an honourable senator moves a motion pursuant to Standing Order 364 we should examine what constitutes a complete document.
– Order! My statement covers this situation fully, Senator Harradine. There can be no further debate about this matter unless you are querying my statement. This is a statement for the consideration of the Senate. I ask you, Senator Harradine, to confine your remarks to my statement.
– As I mentioned, I am supporting the motion that the Senate takes note of your ruling. It will be indicated clearly that what I have said up to date refers to your ruling, Mr President. I am only supporting what you have said in your ruling. Indeed, I am proving your ruling to be correct- that the single page of the document was not the complete document. It is clear that the latter pages of the document were provided to you after the adjournment of the Senate last evening.
- Mr President, I rise to take a point of order. I suggest, with great respect to Senator Harradine, that he can now be rightly accused of canvassing the ruling that you have given already, especially since you have told the Senate in response to an invitation from Senator Cavanagh that you will refer the subject of your ruling to the Standing Orders Committee of the Senate. I suggest that Senator Harradine is now trying to short circuit that determination of yours by alluding to a debate that took place on the adjournment of the Senate last night. Therefore, I suggest that he is out of order.
- Mr President, I speak to the point of order but on a different premise. I do not think that Senator Harradine understands what the question under debate is. The subject matter of the debate is that the Senate take note of the statement you have brought down. The statement that you have brought down is not concerned with whether Senator O ‘Byrne did or did not do the right thing. You were asked to decide whether a document quoted from by a senator is a document in accordance with the definition given in Standing Order 364. You have given a ruling. It is up to the Senate to say in discussion of that ruling whether you are correct and to say what is a document which an honourable senator may move to be tabled in the Senate. It does not matter what Senator O ‘Byrne did or what Senator Harradine did last night. We now have the definition of what a document is. The only question I raise is whether the matter should be taken further. But I do not think that discussion- and we know the nature of this discussionshould go outside the question of whether a document is the whole document or is only pages of a document, which pages have been quoted from.
– I will rule on the point of order that has been raised. I feel that any canvassing of my ruling at this stage would be out of order. The question under discussion is that the Senate take note of my statement.
-Mr President, that is precisely what I am supporting. I am supporting your ruling on the basis that the complete document was not tabled last evening. Had your ruling been in operation last evening, had you made the ruling at the time and had the document been tabled then, I would have been able to look at the document and to see what I see now- that is, that it is a tainted, doctored document.
- Mr President, I rise to take a point of order. What we are listening to now deliberately flaunts the ruling from the Chair. It is a reflection on the Chair to say that you, Mr
President, did not rule last night. Senator Harradine is saying that you should have ruled last night and that if you had ruled last night Senator Harradine could have had access to the document. That is his complaint. It is not a valid complaint. It is a reflection on the Chair. What the honourable senator is now endeavouring to do is to get to that document and make comments about it. Really, what someone should be doing at the present time is moving the motion I attempted to move previously, namely, that the debate should be adjourned and that your ruling, Mr President, should not be canvassed. It should be referred to the responsible committee. Later on, we can have a debate on the matter.
- Mr President, I wish to speak to the point of order. I appeal to you not to be caught up in the political comment that is taking place on this matter. The fact that Senator Harradine has addressed himself to the document which you have put down is quite proper and the way he has conducted himself is quite proper. He has not attempted to raise extraneous matters but is addressing himself directly to the paper which you have tabled. Obviously, the point which arises when this matter is being dealt with is whether the document-‘ document’ is the word used in Standing Order 364-was all those papers which have been tabled by Senator 0 ‘Byrne. It is particularly important for the honourable senator that that should be. so. My understanding of this matter is that it would be covered by a declaration by Senator O’Byrne to you, Mr President, that the documents he has now tabled are comprehended by your statement to the Senate that a document quoted from will be tabled. That refers not only to the single sheet but to the total document that was quoted from last evening. I only put to you again, Mr President, that I believe that Senator Harradine is quite in order in the way he is debating this matter.
– I do not want any further canvassing here of my determination. The fact is that I stated very clearly that Senator O “Byrne handed to the Clerk the remainder of the document which, with Senator O ‘Byrne ‘s concurrence I tabled before I began to speak this after- noon. Senator Harradine, I am watching very closely to ensure that you comply with “my determination.
- Mr President, I still raise the point that there should not be discussion on the document. I think Senator Harradine has not conformed to your decision. We have now decided that this is the whole document. Senator Harradine goes on to criticise your decision to the effect that had you ruled that way last evening he would have had the benefit of it, that because of your action he was denied natural justice and that he would have then seen that it was a tainted document. This matter is not concerned with whether or not your ruling was standard. It brings up the controversial argument that Senator O’Byrne must justify that it was not a tainted document. Senator Harradine now has nothing further to say on your ruling but tells us what a disgraceful, tainted document it is. I think he should be stopped from continuing.
– I do not want to hear any more points of order.
- Mr President, I want to raise a point of order.
– No, Senator Keeffe. I intend to rule on the situation now. Senator Harradine must not digress from the immediacy of the motion before the chair. That is:
That the Senate take note of the ruling.
-I concede that, Mr President.
– I raise a further point of order. I draw your attention to Standing Order 362, which states:
All Papers and Documents laid upon the Table of the Senate shall be considered public. Papers not ordered to be printed may be inspected at the Office of the Senate at any time by Senators, and, with permission of the President, by other persons, and copies thereof or extracts therefrom may be made.
Senator Harradine has the original of Senator O ‘Byrne’s document. I want you to rule whether he is in direct breach of Standing Order 362 because, according to Standing Order 362, Senator Harradine has no right under the Standing Orders of the Senate to have in his possession the original document which was tabled by Senator O’Byrne. I ask you to rule accordingly.
- Mr President, while you are considering Standing Order 362, I ask you to take into consideration Standing Order 421 and rule in accordance with the terms of that Standing Order.
– I will consider one at a time. In the first instance I am considering Standing Order 362, which states:
All Papers and Documents laid upon the Table of the Senate shall be considered public. Papers not ordered to be printed may be inspected at the Office of the Senate at any time by Senators, and with permission of the President, by other persons, . . .
- Mr President, may I speak on that point of order?
– One moment please. I point out to honourable senators that in the past it has been normal practice for honourable senators to come to the Table when a document has been tabled, look at it in the chamber and return it to the Clerk. That has been the situation for a long time.
- Mr President, I accept your ruling. Since I have the original document -
– I raise a point of order.
– He does not want to hear it.
- Mr President, I ask you to take my point of order into consideration.
– That point of order is not upheld, Senator Keeffe.
– Since I have the original document -
– On a point of order -
-Senator O’Byrne does not want to hear it.
– I refer to Standing Order 362 which states:
All Papers and Documents laid upon the Table of the Senate shall be considered public. Papers not ordered to be printed may be inspected at the Office of the Senate at any time by Senators, and, with permission of the President, by other persons, and copies thereof or extracts therefrom may be made.
Previously we had a ruling of the Standing Orders Committee relating to a document which had to be documented, stamped and registered by the Clerk so that its authenticity could be supported continuously. This present document has gone into the hands of a senator who has immediately branded it as being tainted. He is tainting it himself now. It is out of the hands of the Clerk. We have no proof of what he might do to that document. He stole it from my office in the first place and quoted from it last night. It is in Hansard where he quoted from that document last night.
- Mr President, I object to that.
- Senator O’Byrne, there is an objection taken to a word you have used.
-Yes, Mr President. I take serious objection to that term.
-Senator O’Byrne, that is a very gross reflection on an honourable senator. I ask you to withdraw.
-The document was taken out of my office and was in Senator Harradine ‘s hands. I have no reason to believe that he did not obtain this document by illegal means. I ask him to give an explanation of how he got hold of the document before I apologise to him. He quoted from it in Hansard last night.
– I take -
– Order! This chamber is not a place for determination of that matter. Senator O ‘Byrne has charged Senator Harradine with stealing. Senator Harradine has objected to that comment, as a gross reflection on him, that he is called a thief. Therefore, that is as far as we can go at this stage. Senator O ‘Byrne, I have to ask you to withdraw that most unparliamentary language.
– I withdraw. I hope that Senator Harradine will give proof of how he illegally came into possession of the document which he quoted in the Senate last night before I handed the document to the Senate. It was my private property.
– I would be most happy to do that because I happen to have a copy of the original, untainted version of the document. I have been challenged here and I demand a right to give an explanation.
– I rise on a point of order. If there is a disputation between two senators there are forms of the Senate where that can be resolved. This is not one of those occasions. There are other procedures of the Senate where this dispute between the two disputing senators can be resolved. The motion before the Senate is, That the Senate take note of the ruling’. I appeal to honourable senators to stay with that matter because there is other business which honourable senators must determine.
- Senator Harradine must now stick most closely to the motion, ‘That the Senate take note of the ruling’.
– Until this time that is precisely what I have done. I have supported the motion. I have spoken to the motion, ‘That the Senate take note of the ruling’, and that it be referred to the Standing Orders Committee. Because I have the original of Senator O ‘Byrne’s tabled document, as amended, I move the following amendment to the motion:
At end of motion, add and that it, together with the documents tabled by Senator O’Byrne, be referred to the Standing Orders Committee.
In speaking to my amendment to the motionI believe I should continue with what I was saying.
– I raise a point of order to challenge that statement. The motion is, ‘That the Senate take note of the ruling’. There is no motion that it be referred to the Standing Orders Committee. That was my request which was complied with. The motion is, ‘That the Senate take note of the ruling’. It is not a legitimate amendment then to move that this matter and some extraneous matter be referred to the Standing Orders Committee. It appears now that the document tabled last evening was not identical with a copy that Senator Harradine has, but no one can say that the document tabled was not the document from which Senator O’Byrne quoted.
– Not now, because Senator Harradine has said it.
– He has a document which he says is in original type and which he says has been tainted by Senator O’Byrne; but the document that Senator O’Byrne was asked to table last evening was the one that was tabled, not the copy that Senator Harradine has now.
– That he stole.
– Which one is authentic, I do not know. Mr President, Senator Harradine wants you to have a witch-hunt to see whether something has happened.
- Mr President, I seek leave to make a personal explanation in respect of the comment made by Senator O’Byrne about stealing. I have the factual evidence and I can retail where -
– Order! That point of order cannot be raised again.
– I take objection to that statement.
– That has been withdrawn, Senator Harradine.
– It was repeated then.
– When was it repeated?
-It was repeated then.
- Mr President, may I intervene? By interjection, Senator O’Byrne used the word ‘stole’.
– I did not hear it.
-The President did not hear it.
– I heard it, and I was about to rise when Senator Harradine did. On behalf of all honourable senators I ask that Senator O’Byrne withdraw the remark.
– I call Senator O’Byrne.
– What remark do I have to withdraw?
-I ask that Senator O’Byrne withdraw his interjection ‘stole ‘.
– I did not make that interjection.
– We have an honourable senator raising a point of order and stating that he heard you say ‘stole’, Senator O’Byrne. I must accept that the honourable senator who uttered those words is truthfully stating what he heard. I would be glad if you would withdraw.
– He did not hear the word correctly; but, if he wishes me to withdraw the word I did say, then I withdraw it.
– In speaking to my amendment, I feel that it is vital at this point of time to ensure that justice is done. A large number of people -
-Mr President, I raise a point of order. I do not know whether you have ruled- it is important that you do so- on the point of order that Senator Cavanagh has raised, namely that an honourable senator may not amend the motion moved by the Leader of the Government. The motion was that the Senate take note of the paper. Generally speaking, in that sort of situation what do we do? We do it a dozen times each day of the session. In this case the Leader of the Government moved that the Senate take note of the paper. What usually happens is that he seeks leave to continue his remarks later or somebody on the Opposition side moves that the debate be adjourned. Adjourning the debate would have been the reasonable thing to have done, and I intended to do it. Mr President, you will recall that I rose to my feet and sought the adjournment. If I had been allowed to do that, and if the Leader of the Government had left the matter well enough alone, as he should have, unless he really wanted what has happened now- I do not think he did- he would have allowed me to proceed to move the adjournment. Then we could have debated this matter at another time, in a more sensible frame of mind and with less emotion.
What is happening at present is that a great deal of emotion is being brought into the debate. All sorts of charges and countercharges are being made. One senator is getting very close to the point where the Senate may have to deal with him. That has not happened in this place for a very long time. Therefore, Mr President, I am asking you to rule that what Senator Harradine is doing by way of this amendment is moving away from the original motion, which I do not think- I hope you will agree- is subject to amendment.
– I was listening to what Senator Harradine was saying. The amendment he has moved, if seconded, may be debated.
– It has not been seconded.
-Is the amendment seconded?
– Yes, I second it.
– I second the amendment.
- Mr President, may I take a point of order on this subject. I am concerned and disturbed about it. As I understand it, the original motion moved by the Leader of the Government was that the Senate take note of the statement to which I understand Senator Harradine is attempting to move an amendment to the effect that the statement be referred to the Senate Standing Orders Committee, together with some document which evidently was the subject matter of consideration last night. I suggest to you, Mr President, that in fact the moving of such an amendment calls into question your ruling. The amendment purports to be an amendment to refer to the Standing Orders Committee this statement which contains your ruling, which we know of. In my view, that is a direct challenge to your ruling. I do not quarrel with your suggestion- in fact I welcome it- that the Senate may wish the whole of the operation of Standing Order 364 to be referred to the Standing Orders Committee and if that were the wish of any honourable senator you would readily do so. 1 support that fully.
What I am concerned about is that the document to which Senator Harradine ‘s amendment refers is in fact a ruling, a reasoned ruling, given by you on what transpired last evening in the Senate over a document. In my view, it is an affront to you for an honourable senator to move an amendment to the original motion that the Senate take note of the statement in the terms in which Senator Harradine has moved his amendment which is that this statement- in other words, your ruling-be referred to the Senate Standing Orders Committee. I can place on that no interpretation other than that he wants the Standing Orders Committee of the Senate to examine your ruling. I am sure that that is completely contrary to the normal custom, practice and accepted procedures of the Senate. Out of respect to you, Mr President, as President for the time being, and to the Chair now and in the future, I ask you to rule that on the grounds I have stated the amendment is out of order.
- Mr President, I would like to speak to the point of order. I was not aware of the subtlety of Senator Brown’s approach.
– Frankly, neither was I.
– It was very subtle, but it was very true and to the point. There is within the amendment some implication that your ruling, Mr President, was incorrect.
– There certainly is not.
– What has Senator Harradine endeavoured to do with this place today?
– If you let me speak, I will let you know.
– What he has endeavoured to do is to misuse the forms of this House to carry out some sort of campaign against Senator Justin O’Byrne. That is what he has been doing. I put this to you, Mr President: He has been misusing the ruling- which you made. He is doing so in order to carry on a disputation which would be to his own political advantage in some other place -
– Order! I now ask whether there is a seconder for Senator Harradine ‘s amendment.
-It has been seconded already.
– Has it been seconded?
– Yes, it has been seconded.
– By whom?
-It has been seconded by Senator Jessop and Senator Walters.
– I did not note any seconding of the amendment. Therefore the amendment lapses.
Motion (by Senator Georges) proposed:
That the debate be now adjourned.
– The question is: ‘That the debate be now adjourned’.
Suspension of Standing Orders
- Mr President, I move:
It is a tainted document and is to be used against two people in the State of Tasmania this evening.
I move that motion because this is a very serious matter -
– Order! Senator Harradine, you will please give that motion to me in writing.
- Mr President, does an honourable senator not have to ask for leave to move a motion to suspend Standing Orders?
– I raise another point of order. The honourable senator’s time has expired, has it not? Can he speak a second time? Can he rise a second time and speak for another half hour?
Senator Harradine having submitted his motion in writing-
– Order! Before I deal with the matter raised by Senator Harradine I must resolve the motion which is before the Chair at the moment, that is, Senator Georges ‘s motion that the debate be now adjourned.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I inform the Senate that I have received the following letter dated 6 September from Senator Bishop:
Dear Mr President,
In accordance with Standing Order 64,I give notice that tomorrow I shall move that, in the opinion of the Senate, the following is a matter of urgency:
The implementation by the Government of the recommendation made by the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence, in its Interim Report on Industrial Support for Defence Needs and Allied Matters tabled on 3 June 1977, that an expert group should be set up to examine and report upon the cost and practicability of the shipbuilding proposals outlined by the Committee, and particularly those in regard to the Whyalla and Newcastle shipyards.’
Is the motion supported?
More than the number of senators required by the Standing Orders having risen in their places-
The purpose of the motion is to bring before the Senate an important recommendation of an important Committee of this Parliament, namely, the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence. I wish to relate that recommendation to the problem which faces the largest two shipyards in Australia and, in particular, to draw attention to the plight of the shipyard in Whyalla, which is in my State. Honourable senators would be aware of the representations which have been made on this matter over the years not only by the people of Whyalla and their local member, Mr Laurie Wallis, but also by honourable senators on both sides of this chamber. As soon as the report of this Committee was presented to the Senate in June of this year it was considered by honourable senators on both sides of the chamber from South Australia. Those honourable senators were invited to attend at the Whyalla Council chambers and discuss the matter with not only representatives of the Council but also local people. As a result of that discussion the whole group of honourable senators there decided to write a letter to the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) recommending consideration of that recommendation. That letter was signed by Senators Jessop, Davidson, Messner, Bishop, Donald Cameron and McLaren.
Although we have not had a debate, in this chamber for many months on the problems of the shipbuilding industry in Australia and although there has not been one in the other place for, I think, 12 months, everybody is aware of the serious position which has arisen in Australia in relation to our shipbuilding capacity and more particularly, as a result of this report, in respect of our defence capability. The Committee of which I was a member, together with other members of the Senate and the House of Representatives, felt that the matters involved were so important that it appointed a subcommittee to make a report to the full Committee on industrial support needs for defence purposes. As a result of that a very deep examination was made of the shipbuilding industry in Australia. The members of the sub-committee visited all the important shipyards and discussed the matter with not only the employers and governments concerned but also the trade union movement. Members of the Committee will no doubt support me when I say that at the time of those visits and inspections it was found that the climate was very receptive to what is called a package deal in that recommendation.
My purpose in raising this matter, particularly as I am a South Australian, is to get support for the recommendations of the Committee, which is greatly concerned about Australia’s capacity to build ships in the event of some sort of crisis arising. The Committee has made its own postu-lations about strategic guidelines. Broadly the Committee says that if these two shipyards were to go out of existence it would take many years to reproduce the capacity which now exists. For the benefit of those honourable senators who are not aware of the present position at Whyalla in South Australia I point out that the order book for ships contains work which will cut out about the end of next year and that the work force is being progressively reduced week by week due to people leaving the city because they know that the prospects there are not good and because of retrenchments involving about 20 members of the work force a week.
This situation is having an effect on a very critical area of industry in South Australia. The Broken Hill Pty Company Ltd employs about one half of the work force in that area. Many of the retrenched workers are highly skilled persons. Although there are some opportunities for employment in the steel works at present the work being offered is generally not the sort of work for which the men to whom it is being offered have been trained. Men with skills are finding no satisfaction in being told that there may be opportunities for employment for them at the steel mills at work involving less skills than those they have attained.
The estimates as to the reductions in the size of the work force vary. The Industries Assistance Commission estimated that there would be a loss of about 3,000 jobs for the work force if the industry were to become ineffective. The South Australian Government suggested, following its examination of the situation, that nearly 8,000 workers would not only lose their jobs there but also leave that important area. It must be realised that Whyalla is a totally integrated city which has many foreign and migrant peoples and families that are sustained by the shipbuilding industry. The related industries also will be affected if the shipyards become redundant because those who are presently servicing the shipyards, in particular the sub-contractors, will not have a job:
My point in rising is to carry the matter a bit further if I can. The Australian Labor Party has decided that this matter should be highlighted. It is a critical matter for the two reasons I have mentioned. One is the defence implications. The Foreign Affairs and Defence Committee, whose membership I have outlined, has put forward a unaminous recommendation. The proposition which it has put before the Government has resulted in the letter I have mentioned being written to the Prime Minister by a number of honourable senators. I will refer to part only of the letter which is dated 24 June 1977. After mentioning the meeting at Whyalla and the presence of the mayor there, it continues:
We believe that recommendation 7.89 of the Foreign Affairs and Defence report should be proceeded with in order to examine more closely the points raised by the Committee to establish the economic feasibility of the package deal proposed in recommendation 7.88 of the report.
Recommendation 7.89 of the report reads as follows:
The Committee recommends that the Government sets up an expert group comprising representatives of the Commonwealth, New South Wales and South Australian governments, managements of the shipyards and the ACTU to examine these proposals as a matter of urgency and report on the cost and practicality of their implementation as an integrated package and whether the industry could then be reasonably expected to be economically acceptable.
As this need not be a lengthy procedure and would be of tremendous interest to those affected in the areas, we strongly urge the Government to adopt this recommendation.
We understand that the Mayor, Mrs Ekblom, will be supporting this proposition separately on behalf of the Council and the Whyalla community.
Subsequently the representatives came down to meet Senator Cotton in respect of the matter. The nub of the proposition is contained in the recommendations of the Committee. After talking to all the people I mentioned, the governments with which we were concerned, the companies, the employers, the ACTU, and the unionists, the following unanimous recommendation was made:
Although recognising that substantial sums would be involved in modernising the facilities, the Committee proposes that consideration be given to the following interdependent actions directed towards the achievement of improved performance, as a possible basis for converting this generally uneconomic but nationally important industry into an economically acceptable industry: the industry to be rationalised; the existing ship construction facilities at Whyalla and Newcastle be retained; there be an injection of capital at both yards on a shared basis, sharing being between the Commonwealth and NSW Governments in the case of Newcastle, and between the Commonwealth and SA Governments and BHP in the case of Whyalla, the amount of capital to be that needed to bring the physical capability of each of the yards to a standard matching that of overseas shipyards of similar capacity; there be workload on a continuing basis for the rationalised industry resulting from a ‘build in Australia’ policy for Australian ships; a policy to build vessels which to the maximum feasible extent are of standard design; and, subject to a suitable manning productivity understanding with the maritime unions, an Australian flag policy for a proportion of overseas trade; there be a guarantee of improved industrial relations, particularly in respect of measures to improve productivity for ship construction and repair and an accepted objective of working towards a single shipbuilding union through a process of amalgamations; there be a system by which potential buyers of Australian built ships can be offered financial terms that are generally competitive on the world scene.
The Committee emphasises that this proposal must be viewed as ‘ a package deal ‘-the elements are interdependent and the package stands or falls on acceptance of all the elements.
Having decided that, the Committee then proposed the setting up of the special expert group to which I have referred. I need say only that everybody, except the Commonwealth Government, is apparently prepared to act on the recommendations of that expert committee. Although I have since seen the letter from the Prime Minister, I am not clear whether the rejection of the claims by the Committee and of the representations of the South Australian Government really mean that that expert group will not be formed at any time. I have been told by the ACTU that it and its shipbuilding union group has read the report. I have mentioned the other people who have supported it. They have said that they would be willing to act on such a committee and, as a matter of fact, are waiting to see the Minister, Senator Cotton, about related matters. In addition, the ACTU has put up to the Government the proposition that a separate consultative body be established in respect of the shipbuilding industry. Presently, there is in fact a general one.
It seems to me that this is not only a good starting point for viewing the position of Whyalla in the future as a town which will lose its main economic strength but also a good starting point for ensuring that the shipbuilding industry in Australia might well be revived on a new basis. I know that some of these matters have been considered by the IAC. The South Australian Government, especially, and the New South Wales Government made submissions to the Federal Government and to the IAC. In particular the IAC commended the South Australian Government on the constructive nature of its recommendations. I notice that many of the recommendations in fact match what our own Committee has done in respect of this matter. Important elements of the community and members and senators of this Parliament are concerned about defence capability. If some action is not taken, the States that I have mentioned will lose their capacity of a work force totalling many thousands of workers. I have estimated that this will occur about the end of next year, and that is a very serious matter.
– We will lose skills.
– As Senator Brown says, we will lose skills in which people cannot be trained fast enough. Everybody knows that, presently, the Government, in attempting to ease the unemployment position in ways urged by us, is starting various training schemes. We should seek to maintain skilled men as effective units in our community. What is the solution? We know that the industry in the past has been plagued considerably by industrial troubles and demarcation problems. The demarcation problems generally have been cured.
What would happen if our proposition were considered? We would have the expert group. Expert people involved would look at the industry. Of course we have to relate this aspect to matters apart from the arguments about the high level of costs in Australia and the disputations which have marked the industry over past years. One of the most substantial restrictions which has applied in the past has been the fact that Australia has not seen the investment which other countries have had nor have we adopted, except in some small yards recently in Australia, improved techniques. We have not followed the German or Japanese industry practices of improving productivity in respect of the method of building ships. Only two yards that I have seen in Australia can match in any way the methods of the Japanese. The governments in the other countries I have mentioned, as everybody well knows, take a direct control and interest in the yards. They are linked with the enterprise; they actively work for it. In our country it becomes a secondary matter. We do not see a government in Australia linking itself with an enterprise to develop shipbuilding in the most positive ways as is done in Japan or Germany. That involvement is required. We do not get the instant participation to which I have referred by the work force which has had these disabilities in the past.
I am putting to the Senate- I hope that honourable senators on the other side will support it- the proposition that the matter should go back to the Prime Minister and that his letter, the contents of which have now been revealed, should be considered again. Honourable senators will remember that on 12 August after earlier questioning I raised the question whether the reported rejection by the Prime Minister meant that in fact no consideration would be given to setting up that expert group. I have not as yet received an answer, although Senator Withers said he would refer the question to see whether we could be advised. In regard to that rejection, I refer to the Prime Minister’s letter of 12 August to Mr Dunstan which reads, in pan:
We appreciate that the decision we have taken is likely to lead to the decline of large ship construction in Australia. Our evaluations have made it clear, however, that the cost to the community of the assistance needed to protect that industry’s future in Australia would have been well beyond the level that could be justified on economic, social and defence grounds.
As you will be aware, the Department of Employment and Industrial Relations is taking appropriate action to assist those affected to find alternative employment, and will continue its efforts in that direction.
We know that efforts have been made by State governments and by Senator Cotton, because he sent a group of people to Whyalla to see to what extent, should these things happen, other assistance might be given. We well know and recognise that those measures will only be piecemeal, but I put it to honourable senators that what was stated would be done in the Prime Minister’s letter is not being done. There has not been a chance for the expert group to which I have referred to examine the whole position on a new basis.
As I said earlier, in our visits to the shipyards we talked to men involved in ship construction. Government supporters themselves were surprised at the great support that was coming from the unions who would take part in such a package deal. I am sure such a deal would lay the basis for a new industrial relations policy which would prove to be valuable. Most importantly, it would in turn maintain for defence purposes the capacity that we should have, because this country should not be left in a position where it was unprepared for a situation that could arise overnight. Everybody knows that there are immediate matters which could develop into a world crisis. A little while ago we went through an energy crisis. That could happen again. If it did, we would be without not only ships but a shipbuilding capacity. Our shipbuilding capacity should be an urgent priority of the Government. The Whyalla shipyards were commenced at the direct request of the government of the day that there be set up a shipbuilding capacity for naval vessels. As honourable senators will know, naval vessels were built there. The shipyard got its first fillip from what was needed in the steel industry and what was needed for defence purposes. For those reasons the shipyard should be maintained.
Another good reason comes to mind when one considers what has been highlighted by the recent South Pacific Forum. Strangely enough, it was attended by Senator Cotton who, I must confess, has taken a deep interest in Whyalla. I have seen him several times about the matter. He keeps us all pretty well informed personally, if not in the Parliament. I do not know the results of the recent trip to Whyalla but I do know that some of the things I am arranging and some of the representations he has received and is presently receiving from the trade union movement are receiving consideration. But what is required now is a determination by the Government to look at its recommendation again. We know that the Department of Defence and the Minister for Defence (Mr Killen) are looking at the matter. I consider that the Committee’s recommendation accords with that of the Department of Defence because it is very close to the recommendations which the Department put to the Industries Assistance Commission. As I have said, the trade union movement is all for it. There are more recent moves which will shortly bring another aspect to the fore- wider fishing zones and other zones. I refer in particular to the recommendations made only recently at the South Pacific Forum. As a result, on 2 September the Minister for Industry and Commerce, Senator Cotton, issued a Press release which stated:
The Minister for Industry and Commerce, Senator Cotton, said today that Australia had to take a positive attitude towards the possible widening of fishing zones.
He said: ‘We should be taking immediate action in looking for opportunities to meet the challenge of this enormous extension to our available resources.
Also we look for and encourage the building in Australia of equipment used in winning these resources.
It is the construction of vehicles and machinery, the transport services and then the construction and operation of processing plants that really create wider job opportunities and the chance for the injection of Australian capital.
The Press release goes on in that vein. It of course highlights the serious situation which will confront this country if in addition to losing that defence capacity which is required in the opinion of an important body, the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence- this view was supported by everybody on the Committee, including the Chairman, Senator Sir Magnus Cormack- we forgo our obligations of servicing and the surveillance of the wider zones for which we will be accepting responsibility in the near future.
Are we going to say that Australian shipyards will not build the vessels and that the shipyards ought to be allowed to run down, or should we not review what seems to be a trend that has been taking place over the years? I am sure that some honourable senator on the other side of the chamber will get up directly and say: ‘Well, the
Labor Party did this in relation to shipbuilding subsidies’. But what has never before been done in Australia is what is now being proposed by this Committee. I ask honourable senators on the other side of the chamber to support this important proposal in relation to Newcastle and in particular Whyalla in my own State of South Australia. It certainly needs continuing support. The Committee which developed the policy is presently considering the replies of the Prime Minister and the Minister for Defence. I have no doubt that members of that Committee will seek to make some other comments in respect of the proposal. But I have seen the most encouraging ideas coming from the interviews I had with the ACTU shipbuilding group, the unions, and the workers in the two yards I have mentioned. They, in conjunction with an appreciation of the defence aspect, seem to me to offer a new starting point, a new hope, for the Australian shipbuilding industry. The proposal certainly holds out hope for the representations which have come from the South Australian senators about whom I have spoken. I hope they continue that support. I hope that the Senate gives support to the proposition.
– What Senator Bishop has said concerning a visit to Whyalla is perfectly true. Earlier this year all the senators from South Australia received an invitation from the Mayor of Whyalla to come to that city- in my case, once again because I have been there on numerous occasions. In fact I was there only two or three weeks prior to the meeting mentioned by Senator Bishop. The invitation was to discuss the shipbuilding industry in that city and the problems created for people who were forcibly retrenched from that particular part of the activities of the Broken Hill Proprietary Co. Ltd in that city. I think that the straw to which the Whyalla council was clinging was the recommendation of the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence, to which Senator Bishop has referred. We on this side of the chamber from South Australia who attended that meeting agreed with the general comments around the room and the wish of the council that we make yet another attempt to persuade the Government to adopt the recommendation of that Committee. We happily supported that proposition. Perhaps I will refer to that a little later.
The Australian shipbuilding industry has been a running sore to successive governments for a long time, because of the tremendous cost to the taxpayers of Australia who have subsidised it to a degree where it was able to be maintained. As
Senator Bishop said, the recommendation of the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence suggested that because of their importance to the defence of Australia, the Newcastle works and the BHP works at Whyalla should be upgraded, which of course would cost an additional $ 100m for each shipyard, a total of $200m, quite apart from any thought at all of subsidy.
On the matter of subsidy, the Labor Government was really responsible for starting the rot in the shipbuilding industry in Australia. In December 1973 the Whitlam Government introduced new assistance arrangements which meant that the subsidy for shipbuilding in Australia was to be reduced progressively. The present shipbuilding assistance arrangements were introduced by the Whitlam Government and provide for a 25 per cent bounty on vessels from 150 tons gross to 1,000 tons gross. On vessels exceeding 1,000 tons a sliding scale of bounty applies, with a current maximum of 33 per cent. The maximum rate will be phased down to 25 per cent by 1980. The present Government extended the Australian Labor Party policy of a 35 per cent subsidy on ships and is now adopting a similar policy with respect to the phasing down of that subsidy by 1980. It is interesting to read in Hansard the speech made by the Minister for Transport (Mr Nixon) on 25 August 1976. He referred to statements by Mr Charles Jones, the honourable member for Newcastle and Minister for Transport in 1973, and said:
On 3 April 1973 the honourable member for Newcastle said:
We are all concerned with the unnecessary stoppages in the shipbuilding industry. If the unions want the industry they have got to be pan of it and stop these unnecessary stoppages.
. On 24 August he said:
Government can only do so much to provide this country with a viable shipbuilding industry.
. He went on again on 4 February 1974 and said:
In the absence of real import competition, the industry has not had the necessary structure to follow the lead of overseas producers in seeking to improve efficiency through rationalisation and more specialised production.
. On15 May he said:
The industrial record of the Australian shipbuilding industry left much to be desired.
On 3 October he said:
There might not be any shipbuilding unions if past and present industrial disputes continued . . . Larrikinism by the unions had alienated some Labor MPs who had in the past supported Government assistance for the industry. They said if this is the way unions are going to go on what is the use of us putting in 20-odd million dollars in subsidies to maintain the industry.
The subsidies that have been paid out to the industry in Australia are quite considerable. They amounted to $ 13.4m in 1971-72; $30.7min 1972- 73; $21m in 1973-74; $31.2m in 1974-75; $43m in 1975-76 and $27m in 1976-77. Dealing with what Senator Bishop said about the Australian Council of Trade Unions and assurances that there would be harmony in the industry and everything would be sweet, I would like to believe that and I would genuinely like to think that the honourable senator’s representations in that regard will be successful, but the record is not very good. I can recall when Senator Bishop, I and others were trying to do something about resolving the problems of the shipbuilding industry at Whyalla. But at about that time the trade union movement at Whyalla was refusing to allow sea-going trials to be carried out on a ship that had been built for the New Zealand trade. As to the comments of Mr Charles Jones, in 1973- 74 a total of 13.75 days per employee were lost at the BHP works at Whyalla and 26.5 days per employee at the Newcastle State Dockyard, when the national average in the manufacturing sector at that time was 2.98 days per employee. Those figures make it very difficult for me to believe that the unions concerned will be fair dinkum about honouring that sort of undertaking.
– You have not changed your mind about the letter, have you?
-I will refer to the letter later on. I know it is an impossible thing for the honourable senator to answer. Senator Bishop referred to the building of naval vessels at the BHP works in Whyalla, but he ought to realise that it it is not as simple as that.
– I referred to the history of it.
– The honourable senator may have done that, but I would like to clear up the matter in my own mind and in the minds of those honourable senators who are anxiously listening to this debate and showing an interest in the industry to which we are referring. I suggest that we look at the report of the United Kingdom Shipbuilding Inquiry Committee in 1965-66, which is still applicable. At page 136, Chapter 24, paragraph 504, the report states:
A naval vessel takes three times as long to build as a straightforward merchant ship. There is a considerable difference in composition of the labour force and the standard of workmanship required. The pace has to be slower than in merchant work because of differences in design, complexity and the need for modifications during building. The inspection and testing requirements are also different. We are not suggesting that these naval requirements are unnecessary. But for a yard whose object is to standardise and speed up the fabrication and assembly of merchant ships, naval work must impose severe limitations on tempo and efficiency, which cannot in practice be circumvented by the use of network programs or other modern methods of production control.
The report goes on to point out the technological differences between conventional domestic shipbuilding and the building of a fighting ship. Senator Bishop also mentioned a letter from the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) to the Premier of South Australia, and I have a copy of that letter. Mr Dunstan wrote to the Prime Minister on 15 June and referred to the recommendations on shipbuilding by the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence. I will read in full the Prime Minister’s reply because Senator Bishop chose not to do so. The letter states:
My dear Premier,
I am writing in reply to your letter of 15 June in which you requested that the recommendations on shipbuilding of the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence be implemented and also in response to earlier correspondence between our Governments regarding shipbuilding. I can now inform you that the Commonwealth has decided to endorse the recommendation of the Industries Assistance Commission not the vary the rates of assistance for shipbuilding, as payable under the legislation introduced by the previous Commonwealth Government.
That was the Whitlam Government -
In coming to this position we have weighed most carefully the views put forward by your Government and the Government of New South Wales, and by other parties including in particular the Joint Parliamentary Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence, the union movement, and local government and other organisations and individuals in Newcastle and Whyalla. We have, as you know, been particularly conscious of the potential social implications for these two centres and with your agreement these were the subject of examination by a special Commonwealth/State Task Force.
This is the paragraph that Senator Bishop quoted:
We appreciate that the decision we have taken is likely to lead to the decline of large ship construction in Australia. Our evaluations have made it clear, however, that the cost to the community of the assistance needed to protect that industry’s future in Australia would have been well beyond the level that could be justified on economic, social and defence grounds.
As you will be aware, the Department of Employment and Industrial Relations is taking appropriate action to assist those affected to find alternative employment, and will continue its efforts in that direction. 1 must say that my experience with the executives of, and other people associated with, BHP has been that there has been a genuine attempt by the company in the city of Whyalla to find employment for people who have been retrenched from the shipbuilding industry so that they can be retrained and injected into the steel section of BHP which is the major economic strength of that company. Shipbuilding is not the major economic strength in that city. I was impressed by the fact that the company was giving these people the opportunity to move into the steel making section and was showing a preparedness to retrain them. This has been encouraged by the Department of Employment and Industrial Relations. Mr Street’s officers, together with Senator Cotton’s officers, have visited the city from time to time and are co-operating. Moreover, the Government says that if these people do not wish to remain in Whyalla and work in the steel industry -
– One mill has closed down. What are you talking about?
-Just let me finish. I did not interrupt you, Senator. I listened to you very courteously and I thought that what you said -
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator DrakeBrockman) Order! Senator Jessop, I suggest that it would be better for you to address the Chair.
-Thank you, Mr Deputy President. Those people who wish to leave Whyalla can be given assistance through the Commonwealth Government to travel to other parts of Australia in order to obtain employment. I know that BHP in Whyalla has a considerable number of orders and is ready to go into production as soon as the construction industry starts to gain impetus. There are already signsquite favourable signs-in sections of the private sector that this will gradually happen. In fact it has been most encouraging to observe in some sections of industry the improved economic circumstances. The company is very anxious to retain an adequate work force so that at the time these steel orders have to be filled it will have a work force capable of producing the quantity of goods required.
I want to refer to just a few points that the Fraser Government has pursued since it took office. I have referred to the decision by the Whitlam Government to phase down the shipbuilding subsidy. Our Government, in response to representations from shipbuilders, commenced in January 1976 a series of reviews of shipbuilding assistance arrangements. In January 1976 an interdepartmental committee was asked to review the assistance arrangements and to report on whether additional Government assistance should be given to the shipbuilding industry. In March 1976 a working party of officials was formed to investigate the whole range of issues associated with shipbuilding and ship repair. That is a point which I think ought to be considered. I do not think a report has been submitted on that aspect. It may be a way of providing work for our shipyards. That working arty of officials held discussions with ship.uilders, shipowners and the Australian Council of Trade Unions. In June 1976 Ministers held discussions with the ACTU. In August 1976 the Industries Assistance Commission was asked to report on whether any changes were necessary in shipbuilding assistance in order to sustain economic production in Australia. In the same month Ministers met the Premier of New South Wales to discuss the shipbuilding industry in that State and made the following offer To defer contracts for the two Australian National Line vessels to be built in Japan if the Premier received from State Dockyard unions a moratorium on industrial disputes and wage claims. An offer was made to Mr Dunstan in South Australia of Commonwealth assistance to secure orders for Whyalla if the Premier could obtain similar assurances from Whyalla shipyard unions. Following negotiations, I understand, the offers were rejected and the vessels were ordered from Japan.
This is another matter that worries me. We all are interested in the shipbuilding industry. We all recognise that at the moment for several reasons it is an uneconomic proposition. There is a world overcapacity in shipbuilding. There is no demand for large vessels. Faced with those matters, I believe that the Government has to pay some regard to the cost to the taxpayers of propping up this industry, which is a most costly exercise. The IAC findings suggest that the cost of providing assistance is well above the levels required by manufacturing industry generally and there is little hope of improvement. A subsidy of 55 per cent to 60 per cent would be required to equate local costs with those of overseas built ships.
– How much a man does that work out at?
– That works out at between $12,000 and $13,000 an employee. I am thankful for that interjection from Senator Messner. All these aspects have been given very careful consideration, together with the fact that in Australia we already have a capacity to build ships through the Department of Defence. Senator Bishop ought to be well acquainted with that. The Department of Defence maintains the Williamstown naval dockyard which has a shipbuilding capability to produce ships of destroyer size. As a member of the Public Works Committee I visited the dockyard. The Committee conducted inquiries with the object of extending the facilities so that the dockyard could build a couple of DDL destroyers. Regrettably the government of the day decided not to proceed with that proposal. I think that was a pity. That is another thing that we as a government ought to be looking at.
There is also the dockyard at Cockatoo Island. Senator Hall probably has seen it. It is a very interesting establishment. It is leased to Vickers Cockatoo Dockyard Pty Ltd, a private company. It is capable of building ships of up to 15,000 tonnes. Other smaller firms such as Carrington Slipways Pty Ltd can build ships of up to 6,000 tonnes, I believe. Dillingham Shipyards Pty Ltd is another shipbuilding firm. Garden Island is another establishment which has a major refit capability and can modernise vessels. We also have a repair and servicing facility at Cockburn Sound. So we are not without a shipbuilding capability, but we have to balance our thinking on both the economic and social aspects. Honourable senators must always remember that the Labor Party recognised this as well. When it was in office it ordered seven ships from overseas. It recognised that there were economic advantages in doing that. We are merely following the policy that was laid down by the previous Government. We recognise that its judgement in this area was fairly close to the mark. That is a very odd thing for me to say, but this is one area in which I think the decisions that were made at the time had some logic associated with them.
I sent a telegram to the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) in May this year, after I read a Press statement which indicated that the Government was going to renege- I forget the exact headline- on a $10m proposition to restructure industry in Whyalla. I find it very difficult to believe some of the headlines in the newspapers. This one was in the Adelaide News. I remember reading the headline in 1973, during an election campaign, which said that Mr Dunstan was going to build a $300m petrochemical works at Redcliff near Port Augusta.
– That was just election talk.
-That is right. That brings me to -
– You have just signed a letter that you have changed your mind.
-No, I have not. I will deal later with the letter. I commenced by saying that honourable senators from South Australia on both sides of the chamber supported the spirit of the Council’s suggestion that we should follow up this recommendation. It was clinging to this straw and we quite properly offered our support.
– You do not support it now?
-I have already told the Senate what my attitude is and I have given reasons for it. The letter from the Prime Minister to the Premier of South Australia referred to the fact that the Government had given serious consideration to the recommendations of the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence.
– You have changed your mind.
-I have the letter here. I stand by that. I am still waiting for a final reply in answer to the letter that I drafted, with Senator Bishop’s approval, and which was signed by myself, Senator Davidson, Senator Messner, Senator Bishop, Senator Donald Cameron and Senator McLaren. I am not saying that I am not looking forward to some further consideration of the matter. I am saying to honourable senators opposite that the Prime Minister has answered the Premier of South Australia in those terms that have given me the clear impression that the Government has considered the report and has rejected it as not being an economic proposition. I should like to refer to a note that I have on that particular matter. It indicates the matters that the Government has considered and states that the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence in an interim report, the Hamer Report- that is the report to which Senator Bishop referredconcluded that the existing large ship construction industry should be retained. The Government has carefully considered this aspect of the report and its evaluations made it clear that the cost to the community of the assistance needed to retain the industry would be higher than could be justified on economic, social and defence grounds. That was the spirit of the letter written to the Premier of South Australia.
– No it was not.
-I read it out.
– You have put your name to a different proposition.
-That has been looked at. I have a letter from the Prime Minister in answer to my other representations which indicates similar thinking to the decision we have taken. The letter states: . . is likely to lead to the decline of large ship construction in Australia. Our evaluations have made it clear, however, that the cost to the community of the assistance needed to protect that industry’s future in Australia would have been well beyond the level that could be justified on economic, social and defence grounds.
That is the response from the Prime Minister. I certainly am anxious to see that everything is done that can be done by the Commonwealth. The State Government has a great responsibility so far as Whyalla is concerned. I would have liked to see Mr Dunstan proceed with the $300m project which he promised in 1973. That would have provided about 3,000 jobs while the Redcliff petrochemical works was being constructed. It would have provided 710 permanent jobs backed up with jobs for about 4,000 other people who would have been required for ancillary work.
– And the uranium enrichment plant.
-That is right. The uranium enrichment plant which was strongly advocated by Mr Connor when he was Minister for Minerals and Energy would have been established. In 1974, I think, Mr Connor conducted a feasibility study with respect to the construction of such works in the Spencer Gulf area. Mr Dunstan was leading the way- so he told everyone- in promoting South Australian industrial interests. Perhaps if he had proceeded with that type of proposition- I believe the incoming Liberal Government will do that- it would have provided tremendous job opportunities in Whyalla. Millions of centrifuges would have been required which could have been prefabricated in that city. I referred to another proposition during the Budget debate. It was the proposal to mine uranium at Lake Frome which would have provided, directly and indirectly, 1,000 jobs. This has been subsequently confirmed by the Department of National Resources.
– It has not.
- Senator McLaren does not take any interest in unemployment in South Australia. He does not go to the bother of using his head to work out ways and means of developing the State.
– I do not make a lot of rash statements like you do.
– I make no rash statements. I make statements of fact. That particular proposition would have required $100m worth of plant. Where could that plant be prefabricated? The answer is: in South Australia. What better place for this plant to be prefabricated? It could have been prefabricated in Whyalla by the Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd. We could have provided jobs for those people about whom we are so worried. These are the sort of proposals that I am following up. I have asked the Government to provide, through the Loan Council, $248m for the State Government on loan to enable the
Redcliff project to proceed. I have advocated that the future State Government ought to consider propositions concerning the development of the uranium industry. If we do not promote the uranium industry in South Australia, Charlie Court and Bjelke-Petersen will beat us to the punch: That is the sort of attitude that we ought to be adopting in South Australia- an interest in our State which is losing industries now because of the absolute incompetence of the present South Australian Government whose sense of values is distorted. So far as I am concerned the sooner Mr Dunstan is kicked out, the better.
– We have just listened to a very worried speaker from the South Australian Liberal Party trying to put an issue over, as he always does, to fool people. Senator Jessop is well known in South Australia as the ‘saying senator’ but he does nothing. He has just shown us that again. I will refer later to a Press release- one of manythat Senator Jessop has put out in recent times on the shipbuilding industry in South Australia. Today he has come into this place and-I gather from the speech that he has made- indicated that he has no intention of supporting the motion of urgency which has been so ably put forward by Senator Bishop and which is supported by the recommendation of the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence. Senator Jessop has attached his signature to a letter to the Australian Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) recommending that the present Government, of which he is a member, implements that recommendation. Yet, he comes in here today and evades the issue. He did not deal with the real issue. I will remind the Senate of the motion of urgency that we are debating which was so ably moved by Senator Bishop. Before doing so, I should like to say that Senator Bishop and Mr Laurie Wallis, the honourable member for Grey- Whyalla is in his electorate- have done everything possible to help the unemployed people in Whyalla. Senator Bishop has done that or years and since Mr Wallis has been a member of Parliament he has done the same thing. The motion we are debating states:
That, in the opinion of the Senate, the following is a matter of urgency:
The implementation by the Government of the recommendation made by the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence, in its Interim Report on Industrial Support for Defence Needs and Allied Matters tabled on 3 June 1977, that an expert group should be set up to examine and report upon the cost and practicability of the shipbuilding proposals outlined by the Committee, and particularly those in regard to the Whyalla and Newcastle shipyards.’
I should like to elaborate on the recommendation which was brought down by the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence. It stated:
The Committee recommends that the Government sets up an expert group comprising representatives of the Commonwealth, NSW and SA governments, managements of the shipyards and the ACTU to examine these proposals as a matter of urgency and report on the cost and practicability of their implementation as an integrated package and whether the industry could then be reasonably expected to be economically acceptable.
That is all we are asking this Government to do. We are asking it to set up an expert committee. Yet, we find Senator Jessop entering the Senate chamber and holding up a copy of a letter that he has received from the Prime Minister written to the South Australian Premier and also the other letter of which he is the number one signatory in which he states that he is still waiting for an answer. All we are asking the Government to do is to set up an expert committee as is recommended in the report of the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence. The report states that such a committee could determine:
This is not committing the Government to any cost. All it is doing is committing this Government of which Senator Jessop is a supporter to set up this committee and have an inquiry. As Senator Jessop has pointed out, the Government has had many reviews. So, he is not opposed to his Government having reviews. He has stated that this Government has held reviews in March 1976, June 1976 and two again in August 1976. The reviews go back 15 months to March of 1976. Senator Jessop is still waiting for a reply. While the Government is setting up these review committees and while Senator Jessop was awaiting a reply, the jobs and the livelihood of the residents of Whyalla are in jeopardy because of the inaction of this Government. Why will not Senator Jessop support the matter of urgency that has been put forward so ably by Senator Bishop today? Of course, he should support it. But he is backing away. He is backing away from the issue. As I pointed out, Senator Jessop is well known in some areas of South Australia as the saying senator’. The Adelaide Advertiser of 9 June 1977 printed a Press release put out by Senator Jessop. The article is headed: ‘Government will act on Whyalla- Jessop’. It goes on to state:
The Federal Cabinet was considering action on the redundancy of Whyalla workers, Senator Jessop said yesterday.
Senator Jessop said in Adelaide he had been assured of this following representation he made to the Prime Minister (Mr Fraser), the Treasurer (Mr Lynch) and the Minister for Industry and Commerce (Senator Cotton) on May 15.
He had been told he would be advised as soon as possible of the Government’s decision on what action should be followed.
He has admitted in the Senate chamber just a few moments ago that he is still awaiting a reply from the Prime Minister, the Treasurer (Mr Lynch) and the Minister for Industry and Commerce (Senator Cotton). Three months have gone by. This provides clear evidence that the Fraser Government has no intention of doing anything to assist these people out of work in Whyalla because of the wind-down of the shipbuilding industry.
What else did Senator Jessop say in his remarks? He said that the shipbuilding industry has been a running sore to successive governments. He then went on to blame the Labor government for starting the rot. Senator Jessop has done what he always does when he speaks in the Senate; he blames the trade union movement and the workers. He states that they are at the core of the trouble. But then he went on to say, after trying to blame the trade unions and the Whitlam Government for setting up the rot, that his Government has continued on with the policy of the Whitlam Government because the Fraser Government realised that the Labor Government was near the mark in its policy. I ask honourable senators: Where could we find double talk any worse than that? Surely the people in Whyalla who listened to Senator J essop today must know that he is a double dealer. They will know this from what I have read out about the action that the Government will take to support the people who live in Whyalla and from Senator Jessop trying to blame the Whitlam Government and the trade union movement. In the next breath, he said that his Government agreed with the action that the previous Labor Government had taken. This is a lot of nonsense.
Let us look at what Government senators do when they are in opposition and what they do when they are in government. Senator Jessop made great play about what it would cost to support these two shipyards. I think he mentioned that the Government would have to inject $200m into the shipyards- $ 100m each- to upgrade them. I quote to honourable senators what the present Minister for Transport (Mr Nixon) had to say when he was the shadow Minister for Transport. I will quote from the House of Representatives Hansard of 3 June 1975.I want honourable senators to bear in mind that date, 3 June 1975, because it is just six months before Mr Nixon again became the Minister for Transport. Speaking to the Ship Construction
Bounty Bill which was being debated in the House of Representatives, Mr Nixon had this to say:
One of the means by which the Australian shipbuilding industry can increase its productivity- which it must do- is through the modernisation and updating of shipbuilding facilities. This will require an injection of substantial capital into the industry and so long as the industry is uncertain as to its future that investment will not be forthcoming.
Mr Nixon said that. He further went on to say:
Although our labour costs are expensive by world standards Australia has the cheapest steel in the world. I also believe that the type of vessel most used in Australian waters and in the Australian export trade could easily be constructed here on a mass production basis.
-Who said that?
- Mr Nixon, the present Minister for Transport, said that. Of course, when he is criticising a Labor government he has all the solutions. These remarks are here in the Hansard record. He then went on further to say:
The Opposition believes -
Of course, he was in the Opposition then- . . that the only way in which a healthy Australian shipbuilding and shipping industry will be brought about is through the provision of liberal credit and depreciation arrangements which recognise the special risks involved in shipowning.
Further on he said:
The annual cost to Australia of freight is of the order of $ 1,000m. The savings in foreign exchange and the acquisition of skills and resources would more than offset the cost involved in creating a national fleet. A large proportion of the real profits that we should obtain from the export of natural resources is lost to this country because of the costs involved in shipping.
Senator Jessop has said in the Senate today that there would be an enormous cost involved in upgrading two shipyards at the cost of $100m each. Yet, the present Minister for Transport when he was the shadow Minister for Transport said that because we were not upgrading our shipyards we were losing $ 1 , 000m per annum.
– What date was that in Hansard?
– I have given the date and I will give it to the honourable senator again. It was 3 June 1975. Let me look at the position a little further. After making these statements Mr Nixon again became the Minister for Transport in the present Government. He stated as reported in the Canberra Times of 23 June 1976 that it is cheaper to build ships overseas. After all I have read out showing how he criticised the then Minister for Transport, Mr Charles Jones, in the Whitlam government, as soon as he became the Minister Mr Nixon turned about completely and said that it is cheaper to build ships overseas.
This article is datelined ‘Landskrona’ in Sweden, ‘26 June 1976’. The article states:
Australian ships would continue to be built overseas, the Minister for Transport Mr Nixon said yesterday. He said that on overseas rates it would cost the Australian ship owner twice as much money to build in his own country.
That statement is in absolute contradiction to what he said when he was in Opposition. As soon as he became the Minister for Transport he has turned around and said the opposite. We have found the same thing happening today with Senator Jessop who I understand is the chairman of the Government parties back bench transport committee. He has gone to Whyalla and told the people there that the Government will act on the Whyalla shipyard. When he gets an opportunity to support the motion to debate a matter of urgency put forward by Senator Bishop in the Senate today, he fails to do so. All we are asking the Government to do is to set up a committee of inquiry. I understand from the remarks that Senator Jessop has made that he cannot support the matter of urgency because he is still awaiting some answer from the Prime Minister on what the Government will do. But since that statement was made on 9 June, the shipbuilding industry has been winding down in Whyalla and in Newcastle. My colleague, Senator Sibraa, will talk about the situation in Newcastle later in the debate. The industry is winding down and the people in Whyalla do not know where to turn for work. Senator Jessop went on to state that if the South Australian Government were to exploit the mine at Roxby Downs, some 1,000 people could be employed. Of course, Senator Jessop knows that is not true. The Mary Kathleen mine which has been operating for years does not employ half that many people. Yet he talks about employing 1,000 people in one breath and in the next breath he says that it might be 710 people -
– I said directly and indirectly.
– That is only a proposal that the honourable senator has put forward. As I have pointed out, Senator Jessop and the Government he supports are full of proposals. The people of Whyalla have now come to know Senator Jessop as the ‘saying senator’. He is always saying something but he is doing nothing. He is not doing a thing to help the people.
Of course, Senator Jessop also tried to bring into his remarks some criticism of the State Labor Government. He talked about what the Federal Government has done to create employment. But it is the policies of this Federal Government that are bringing about the high level of unemployment right throughout
Australia and it is the good policies of the South Australian Labor Government under Mr Dunstan that gives our State the lowest percentage of unemployment in Australia. The South Australian Government is using its resources to the tune of $40m to keep these people in work. What do we find Mr Tonkin, the Opposition leader in South Australia, saying? He carries a tag similar to that carried by Senator Jessop. He is known as knocker Tonkin. He has said that he will cut out the unemployment benefits and he will give incentives to employers by way of further increases in payroll tax to encourage them to employ and to train workers. If a manufacturer has no market for what he is producing, what is the good of him employing more people? If there are no jobs for people to go to, what is the good of training them? Senator Jessop ‘s argument is knocked flat again. A matter of very great interest is an interview that took place on the program PM on 2 March this year. It was an interview with Mr Macphee and the topic was the shipbuilding industry. At the beginning of the program the announcer had this to say:
Australia’s shipbuilding industry could have been alive and well today if politicians, unions and management had not fallen into the common Australian shortcoming of not planning ahead. The Minister for Productivity, Mr Ian McPhee, was speaking at the Productivity Promotion Council of Australia Forum in Brisbane. Peter Rapp was there for PM.
Mr Rapp said:
Mr McPhee stressed that he was using the shipbuilding industry as an example of what has happened because of short term thinking, which he described as one of the nation’s greatest failings. He told the Forum the Department of Productivity would be playing a larger role in examining changes made to the structure of Australian industry.
Mr MacPhee said that way back in March. We find that Senator Jessop is still waiting for a reply from the Prime Minister as to whether he is prepared to set up a committee of inquiry. It is quite evident that Mr Fraser and Mr MacPhee are not talking to one another about the problems that exist in Whyalla. During the interview Mr MacPhee said:
The shipbuilding industry is a classic example.
He was referring to the problems that exist. He said further:
The real problem in the shipbuilding industry was a neglect by governments . . .
Honourable senators know that the Liberal Party that is now in government was in government for 23 years before the Labor Party took office in 1972. If there is any blame to be laid at anybody’s doorstep for the down-turn in the shipbuilding industry in this country, it is to be laid fairly and squarely at the door of the present
Liberal-National Country Party coalition now and when it was in government for 23 years. It is all very well for government senators to say that the rot set in when the Labor Party was in government and then in the next breath to say that what the Labor Government did was right. I am sure that when Senator Jessop next fronts up in Whyalla he will have some questions to answer because those people there today will be listening to the remarks that he has made and they will confirm their opinion of him that he is the saying Senator from South Australia who does nothing to help.
– It is not coincidental that this urgency motion should be before the Senate today. The Labor Party knows that there is to be an election in South Australia and it has introduced this motion so that it can go back to South Australia with a story of propaganda. Whether or not the motion is passed does not matter. If it should pass, the Opposition will claim some sort of victory for having influenced the Senate in this matter. If it does not pass, it will blame the Government for its refusal to agree to the motion here. What we are seeing with this motion is the most disgraceful move of the Opposition unloading its entire responsibility, which rests entirely on its shoulders, onto the shoulders of the Government.
Whyalla has been a long-term victim of the Labor Party. I could not but help think, as I listened to the spurious arguments of Senator Bishop and Senator McLaren, about the endeavours of the the then Liberal Opposition to have the gas pipeline that came from South Australia’s quite notable inland gas fields brought down to the proximity of Whyalla so that the city of Whyalla, with all its industries, could obtain a supply of gas quite soon after Adelaide obtained a supply. What did the Frank Walsh Labor Government do? It completely ignored that plea on behalf of Whyalla and denied that most valuable of all industrial fields to that important city. Opposition senators talk here today as if they are sympathetic to Whyalla. That one decision was one of the most major blows in the last 10 years or 15 years to the city of Whyalla and the State Labor Government was directly responsible for it. The Dunstan Government has done nothing since to remedy that position.
However, we have seen what is wrong with the shipbuilding industry in Australia. The South Australian Labor senators who are so keen to speak on this issue have not mentioned the once very successful shipbuilding company at Port
Adelaide, the Adelaide Ship Construction Company. They have not mentioned the fact that that company went out of existence because of the attitude of industrial labour that simply refused to co-operate with the management and the owners of the Adelaide Ship Construction Company. This company, which was one of the most successful small ship construction companies in Australia at the time, launched a major tug- they were not small in the sense of the tugboat fleet- in some periods every three weeks of the calendar. This was a most valuable company which I believe employed nearly 1,000 people at the height of its productivity. Yet it was destroyed by the people who put in office the senators who sit opposite. It was destroyed by industrial labour.
Senator Bishop knows that he is only part of the parliamentary wing of industrial labour. He has the audacity to come here today and blame the Government for his own policies. This is the twist that all of Australia should recognise. All the complaints from Labor senators throughout the whole argument on the shipbuilding industry are complaints about their own policies, policies fixed by the Whitlam Government in 1973. They are not complaining about Liberal policies at all. The Liberal Government has not altered them except to make them a little better, as Senator Jessop, who so ably replied to Senator Bishop, has told the Senate. The Liberal Government has improved them a little. Here we have the Labor Party stridently blaming this Government for what the Whitlam Government said in so many words and was printed in black and white in 1973. I might say that I would not have thought that Senator Bishop would fall for this trick by the Labor Party. It has just used him, as one of the more pleasant senators on the Opposition benches, to bring in one of the most audacious and disgraceful motions that I have heard here for many months. The Opposition simply is trying to unload the responsibility which rests surely on the shoulders of Labor.
Briefly I have used the example of how the Labor Government destroyed a successful shipbuilding company in South Australia which employed the biggest part of 1,000 people. It bears that responsibility today. When we look at any industrial problems in South Australia in relation to employment, we see that it must bear that responsibility and know that the position would be so much better today than the figures indicate but for the actions of Labor. However, I suppose Labor must do something to try to reduce the criticism that the Dunstan Government is a non-achieving government. It is a nonachieving government because no one opposite can say here what major industrial projects have been brought to South Australia during the term of office of the Dunstan Government. It has, in fact, not been in any way the reforming Government that many of the proponents of Labor would have. However, it has been a very good government for propaganda. It has been mentioned in this debate that it has put forward at each election for, I think, the past several elections the proposition of a petro-chemical works in South Australia. I can remember also the housing industry which was to be developed to the south of Adelaide in conjunction with the Australian Council of Trade Unions.
So we can go through the many empty promises of the Labor Government in South Australia and know that they are just election bait and nothing more, bait that takes the South Australian public for a ride at each election. Whilst they do not belong in this debate, I could mention many factors in South Australia which, of course, support the well known view that South Australia was not built industrially by the Labor Party. The Labor Party has begun the dismantling of the industries which were put there by the Liberal Party in office. I mentioned one particular company employing so many people. Across the State there is great concern at the small businesses that go to the wall because of the antagonism of the Labor Party, the antagonism so very well demonstrated in industrial legislation which makes it impossible in some ways to run businesses in our State.
There is a repressive attitude to union management and a demand that all should be members of a union. Whilst I have not checked it I have been told that if one is to receive unemployment relief, for instance- unemployment relief that comes from this Government- while working for a council in South Australia, one must belong to a union to obtain it. That is what I have been informed and I would like the Labor Party to deny it. Whilst the Labor Party today raises this issue of shipbuilding freedoms in South Australia are disappearing under the repressions of Labor.
To get back to the matter raised by the Labor Party today, let me say that I listened with some interest to Senator Bishop’s general assessment of how we should build ships in Australia and, of course, man them with Australians. Again this brings in the industrial front of Labor. We in South Australia are well aware of how our petrol supplies are throttled whenever the Seamen’s
Union of Australia puts on the pressure in regard to using Australian ships manned by Australian crewmen on the Australian trade.
– Are you against it?
-Perhaps Senator Georges would follow the course that Labor obviously follows, namely, that all Australian goods should be carried by Australian ships manned by Australian seamen. That is the obvious result of what Senator Bishop is saying here today. He would crush the economy of this country for the sake of ideology. This is ali the Labor Party would do. This is what it is doing in relation to the shipbuilding industry. As I said before, Whyalla has been a victim of the Labor Party because the cost structure in Australia no longer supports shipbuilding. That is the simple essence of the position.
– He is making his maiden speech for the seat of Hawker.
– It is not a matter of whether I would like to continue trying to help Whyalla as a senator, as I have in the past in other capacities. It has been Liberal governments that have built the housing at Whyalla. It has been the Housing Trust of South Australia that has done one of the best jobs in Australia in building housing to support the industries of Whyalla. What is the program of the Housing Trust today? It would not be building onethird I mean in absolute terms- of the houses it built at the height of its operations under the Playford Government.
– The Trust is to renovate secondhand houses at Whyalla.
-As Senator Jessop says, the Trust is going into the renovation business. Even with renovated houses, its output will still be about one-third of what it used to be under a dynamic, thrusting government which had the welfare of the people at heart, especially the people at Whyalla. I believe that at the height of the building program one-half of the Housing Trust’s activity was placed behind the industries of Whyalla in building homes for the people who came to be employed in the industries there.
I get back to the point that I made earlier. The problem with shipbuilding in this country is the simple cost structure that bedevils every other industry in this country. It is a cost structure which has been pushed on by the philosophy of the parliamentary wing of industrial Labor that was sent into power in Canberra to wreak havoc in the economy on behalf of the sectional interests it has always represented. Labor is a sectional party. In managing Australia’s economy it completely unbalanced the cost structure within this community. Today not only the shipbuilding industry but also many other industries face the prospect of structural adjustment. Senator Jessop indicated that for shipbuilding to continue in this country a subsidy of $12,000 per year per employee would be required. That illustrates the problem into which Labor got this country. In fact we can trace the problem back to specific actions which are examples of this policy that Labor has always followed. I remember the Crean Budget, I think it was. I cannot remember which of the three Treasurers that there were during the short period of the Whitlam Government brought in the Budget to which I refer, but who will forget listening in the Senate to the proposition that the expenditure of the government of Australia should increase by over 40 per cent in one year? Who will ever forget that? Certainly not the Labor Party, which now stands responsible for the disruption that its program caused. Whyalla is the recipient of that sort of policy.
Of course, in South Australia the same sorts of policies are followed with even less responsibility by the Dunstan Administration- a government which utterly rejected its own Federal party in 1975. Premier Dunstan went on television saying: ‘They are hurting me’. Why were they hurting him? The Federal Government was overspending on all the various programs that it had developed. It was overspending with the type of Budget to which I referred previously. What does the South Australian Premier say today when there is a Liberal Government in Canberra? He says that the expenditure is not great enough. Not enough is being spent, so the South Australian Premier says. He has spent the capital that he got from the sale of the South Australian railways to the Commonwealth. That was an enormous windfall for the South Australian Government and a move I did not oppose as a proposition. The facts are that the Premier admits that the money he received from the Commonwealth, which was many tens of millions of dollars- some was on a recurring basis because maintenance expenditure will no longer be required, and the rest was a capital sum for the purchase by the Commonwealthhas gone. He has expended it. He has set up in South Australia a rate of expectation which his or any other government will be unable to sustain because of the wasteful manner in which he has expended State funds.
– He has got $171m more from the Fraser Government than he got from the Whitlam Government.
– Yes, an enormous extra amount which has gone into an effort to prop himself up politically. It has gone into a political effort, not into the good management and maintenance of South Australia. It has gone into a program designed to further the prospects of the Labor Party and the sectional interests it always represents.
So, as I have said, we find that twist in Labor which allows Opposition senators to blame the present Government for the programs of the Whitlam Government which are clearly defined. Opposition senators are complaining to the Senate about the work of their own Government and about their own failures in regard to the shipbuilding industry. They are saying to the Senate and to this country that we should maintain an industry in which, as Senator Jessop pointed out- - Senator McLaren may support it if he wants to -13 days per person were lost through strike action in one year at Whyalla and 26 days per person were lost at Newcastle. We are supposed to ask Senator Bishop’s colleagues in industry, the people he is supposed to represent, to pay additional tax to support that sort of activity. It is not just the bosses or the high income people who provide the subsidies in Australia. The costs of subsidies are spread right across the taxpaying community, which involves every worker. It is a disgrace that the Labor Party should bring this matter before this chamber. It is complaining about its own policies which were fixed in 1973. 1 reject the matter of urgency for what it is, namely, a political ploy to take the heat off Don Dunstan in South Australia.
– I support the urgency motion moved by my colleague, Senator Bishop. In listening to Senator Hall, I thought it was rather surprising that in fact he spent so much time talking about the State elections in South Australia. As the only New South Wales senator who is speaking in this debate, I intend to speak on the situation facing the State Dockyard in Newcastle. As I was reminded by Senator Bishop’s interjection, probably it is not so surprising to hear Senator Hall speaking as he did tonight, because in fact what we were listening to was his maiden speech for the seat of Hawker. Quite obviously, we can understand his anger about the outcome of the forthcoming State elections in South Australia. Regardless of what Senator Hall says, Don Dunstan will still be the Premier after the elections are over.
What do we see in Newcastle at the moment? I believe that we see part of an attack on public enterprise generally. The New South Wales State Dockyard at Newcastle is wholly owned by the State. We are seeing the first step in the winding down of heavy manufacturing industry of the type in which it engages in Australia. The New South Wales State Government went to great lengths to save the Newcastle dockyard. Unfortunately the Federal Government did not; it seemed to be intent on closing the Dockyard down from the start. Of course, politically there is nothing to lose because the workers at the Dockyard come from three Federal electorates and five State electorates in the Newcastle area, and of course they are all represented by members of the Austraiian Labor Party. Tonight we heard about the unions and their attitude to the dockyard. Of course, they were vilified again by Senator Jessop and by Senator Hall. As Senator McLaren said, in Hawker there are plenty of trade unionists who will be interested to hear Senator Hall’s remarks about the trade union movement.
As to the Newcastle dockyard, the unions agreed to virtually every condition that the Federal Government set down for the continuation of the subsidy. The Federal Government would not even negotiate. The Minister concerned, Mr Nixon, made demands to the New South Wales Labor Council that in fact were non-negotiable. The unions were prepared to accept 90 per cent of the demands, but the proposal put up was a package deal. Of course, what would have happened with the acceptance of that package deal was that the unions would have lost their right to strike. No labour council in any State of Australia would be part of any package deal that involved giving away any of the rights of workers to strike.
As the motion states, the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence, of which I am a member, indicated in its interim report on industrial support for defence needs and allied matters the importance of shipbuilding and ship repair facilities to Australia’s defence needs. I think that we ought to look at the membership of that Committee and therefore at who basically supported the proposal that is being put forward in this chamber this afternoon. The membership comprised Senator Sir Magnus Cormack, Senator Scott, Senator Sim, and Senator Young and, from the House of Representatives, Mr Brown, Mr Garland, Mr Hamer, who was the Chairman of the Committee, Mr Neil, Mr Ian Robinson,
Mr Shipton, Mr Short and Mr Sullivan. The decision of the Committee to which we are referring was a unanimous decision.
On the front page of yesterday’s Australian there appeared an article entitled ‘Local firms failing in arms industry’. I would like to quote from that article. It reads:
Local manufacturers cannot meet the growing demands for sophisticated equipment for the Army, Navy and Air Force.
A confidential report handed to the Minister for Defence, Mr Killen, last night, is strongly critical of local capacity to meet military needs.
The manufacture of boots and uniforms is about the only area of local activity to escape criticism.
The report on the capability of industry to meet defence needs was compiled by the Chairman of BHP, Sir Ian McLennan, and a group of senior industrialists.
The report was not prepared by a group of trade unionists. The article went on to say:
It is understood to say the incapacity of industry to supply sophisticated equipment covers almost the whole range of military needs.
The report says the capability of industry to cater for defence needs is not keeping pace with changing requirements for equipment and technology.
I am sure that all members of the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence would agree with that statement by the Chairman of Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd. On 12 October 1976 I asked the following question in this chamber;
Does the Minister representing the Minister for Defence agree with the statement made by the Deputy Premier of New South Wales -
Mr Jack Ferguson; on 10 October 1976 to the effect that a viable shipbuilding industry is vital to Australia’s defence capabilities? If so, will the Government ensure the continued operation of this most necessary industry in the cities of Newcastle and Whyalla.
The Minister representing the Minister for Defence referred that question to Mr Killen. He replied to me. I will not go right through his reply. He said that he had had an Industries Assistance Commission report on this matter. In his reply he virtually disagreed with everything that the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence is now saying.
I want now to outline the facts as they affect Newcastle and what will happen to Newcastle as a result of the elimination of the shipbuilding subsidy. It has been estimated that between 1,700 and 2,200 workers will be laid off. Anybody who has a look at the multiplier effect on Newcastle will find that between 4,000 and 7,000 workers will lose their jobs. This will happen at a time when we have the worst unemployment situation in the post-war period. We have also to look at the loss of skills involved. The skills of some of the people leaving Newcastle just cannot be replaced. Let us take the area of apprenticeship training as an example. Sixty apprentices used to be taken into the State Dockyard each year. Those jobs now have been lost. They have been lost at a time when Government policy supposedly is to encourage and promote apprenticeship training and to encourage youth employment. The Hunter Valley Research Institute, which does a lot of work in the Newcastle area, put out a report recently in which it indicated that the domino effect of the cut-backs in the operations of the Newcastle State Dockyard will be still being felt in 1980. The unemployment rate in Newcastle at the moment is approximately 10 percent.
– You will recollect that there was a qualification to the recommendation of the Committee.
– Yes, Senator. I have the recommendations before me and I intend to deal with them. I wish now to deal with the defence needs. In my opinion in the near future there will be no longer any capacity in Australia for the construction of any vessel- fighting or merchant -over 2,000 tonnes. One of the previous speakers in the debate- I think it was Senator Jessop- said in fact that the Department of Defence had the equipment to take over this task. Senator Sir Magnus Cormack would remember, as the Committee looked at this aspect, that a lot of this equipment- was found to be hopelessly outdated and to need replacing, whether it be by the Department of Defence or by any other body. If there is a winding down of the operations of the yards it will mean the end of the shipbuilding and the ship repair yards in Australia because of the loss of the skills involved. I am talking about even the small ones. When the trained manpower is lost it will be just impossible to get it back. The personnel required to work in shipyards just cannot be turned on and off. In fact, they require years and years of training. I think that the long term effect will be that we will not have any shipbuilding industry at all.
Let us look at the basic causes of the trouble in the State Dockyard in Newcastle. Firstly, I believe that there has not been enough investment in the future. There has been undercapitalisation. Industrial unrest is not the sole blame for the trouble. We had the skills but we did not have the capital equipment to enable us to sell our products. As I have said, there was insufficient investment. There was a Liberal Government in New South Wales between 1965 and 1976. I believe that it largely ignored the new technology and therefore downgraded the yard, whether intentionally or otherwise.
I return to the position adopted by the trade union movement. I want to settle a few of the myths about the activities of the trade union movement in the shipbuilding industry. The State Dockyard in Newcastle was never a wage setter. In fact, it always lagged behind in terms of wages and conditions. The unions agreed to limit wage increases purely to indexation. When the proposal was put to them they agreed on having no more applications for improved working conditions. They agreed to submit all industrial disputes to an agreed procedure between government, the unions and management. They agreed that under no circumstances would disputes hold up work on ships in the floating dock. They agreed that no ship launchings would be held up. They agreed that there would be no demarcation disputes. As Senator Jessop has mentioned, demarcation disputes have bedevilled the shipyards in Newcastle for years. I make no apology for the fact that they have been one of the mam causes of the problems. The unions in Newcastle were prepared to say that there would be no demarcation disputes. But they did state as part of their bargain that safety disputes could arise and that they would not give away the right to strike over safety disputes and they would not give away the basic right to strike. What happened then, of course, was that the Federal Government refused to have any discussions. As I said earlier, no labour council in Australia would have accepted a package deal that did not leave those workers with the right to strike on that aspect.
I wish to deal briefly with the attitude of the New South Wales Government to this matter. The New South Wales Government agreed to provide a subsidy amounting to $7m if the Federal Government agreed to construct at Newcastle the four ships that were to be built at the time in Japan. Of course, that $7m was the difference between the Australian and Japan prices. At the moment the State Government isroviding work to dock workers in Newcastle. It as them working on girders for the Department of Main Roads. The State Government has bought a floating dock that can service 120 of the 128 ships on the Australian coastal trade. The State Government has also given dock workers jobs involving the building of school classrooms. Of course, the one thing that it cannot give to them at the moment is jobs involving building ships. That is in fact what it is trying to do.
In Newcastle itself a citizens’ committee was formed under the chairmanship of the then Lord
Mayor of Newcastle, Alderman Joy Cummings. It put forward a plan to save the dockyard. All political opinions were represented on that citizens’ committee and they were unanimous on what should be done. Yet that citizens’ committee’s report was also rejected by the Federal Government. We now have a situation in which some forms of international shipping will no longer come to Australia because repair facilities are not available. Australia will lose cargo transfers as a result of that. I think I ought to remind the Senate that the $7m subsidy scheme of the State Government that I mentioned earlier would not have cost the Federal Government one cent.
Sitting suspended from 6 to 8 p.m.
– Before the sitting was suspended, I had mentioned that the New South Wales Government subsidy scheme for the Newcastle Dockyard would not have cost the Federal Government a cent, but that in fact the Federal Government refused to consider it. It seemed determined to close the yard against the wishes of the State Government, the unions and the people of Newcastle. I took note earlier of the point made by Senator Sir Magnus Cormack concerning the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence. I mentioned before that the report was unanimous. In fact, there was one dissenter. The point that Senator Steele Hall seems to misunderstand completely is that the Joint Foreign Affairs and Defence Committee agreed, despite the strategic guidelines, that the industry should be rationalised, that the existing ship construction facilities at Whyalla should be retained and that there should be an injection of capital at both yards on a shared basis, the sharing being between the Commonwealth and the New South Wales Governments in the case of Newcastle, and between the Commonwealth and South Australian Governments and BHP in the case of Whyalla. That is the reason why we on this side moved that an expert group be set up to examine and report upon the cost and practicability of the shipbuilding proposals outlined by the Committee, and particularly those in regard to the Whyalla and Newcastle shipyards. I expect all of those honourable senators who signed the letter that was sent to the Prime Minister on 24 June 1977- South Australian Liberal senators, Jessop, Davidson and Messner, as well as Senators Bishop, Donald Cameron and McLaren- to support the urgency motion that has been moved here this afternoon.
– First of all, I point out that I will confine my remarks to the Whyalla situation as I have had no opportunity personally to investigate the situation at Newcastle. I take issue with the Opposition in regard to Whyalla. In particular, I pick up the almost gloating attitude of Senator Bishop and the attitude that Senator Sibraa expressed just a few minutes ago. They made a great issue of the fact that somehow they have been able to trick certain Liberal senators into signing a letter to the effect that we will support the Opposition’s motion. This is without taking into account any other issues that might have arisen since. My colleagues on this side of the House have a very real concern for the people of Whyalla. That is not necessarily to take the issues that are being presented to us by Senator Bishop and Senator Sibraa in a simplistic way. Our approach, as Senator Bishop would well know, has been one of reservation towards the future of shipbuilding in Whyalla. In fact, he would know that, during the discussions that we held on the day before that letter was written, we expressed the view with the councillors of the city of Whyalla that there was no need to be outstandingly gloomy about the future of the city.
One only has to look about to see that Whyalla produces the cheapest steel of any city in Australia. Consequently, one can see the potential for developing further the steel industry in Whyalla. Lo and behold, a few weeks ago after our visit to Whyalla I noticed that the Broken Hill Proprietary Co. Ltd gained an export order on the basis that Whyalla ‘s steel was cheaper than in any other place of manufacture. This only goes to show that what is required in Whyalla is a restructuring of the work force. Government policy, State and Federal, ought to be directed towards making sure that that is carried through in the most efficient manner.
Let us look at the report of the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence to which Senator Bishop has so gloatingly referred. Let us take one or two points that I am afraid in the initial reading did not emerge but now, after considered reading, obviously are quite clear. Senator Sibraa referred to the point that the industry needs rationalisation. Certainly it does. If it does need rationalisation, why is it that we need to concentrate on continuing in operation in Australia both shipyards of such large size? We know too that the yards in Newcastle and Whyalla are devoted chiefly to the manufacture of ships of about 40,000 to 50,000 tons. We also know, if we are to take the defence argument, that there is no ‘future for that sort of craft in terms of assisting the defence effort. We also know that there is declining emphasis from a commercial point of view.
Back in 1971, the Tariff Board, the precursor of the Industries Assistance Commission, noted that even at that early stage the shipbuilding industry should be restructured towards an emphasis on smaller ships rather than on larger vessels such as those that are being built in Newcastle and particularly in Whyalla. Since then there has been no change. In fact the industry has continued to manufacture larger ships rather than smaller ones. I note that in the last IAC report released last year the IAC makes the point that smaller ships are the line of the future and that in fact the Australian shipbuilding industry ought to be concentrated in that area. When one again considers the defence aspect, one notes that today’s demand in the naval sphere is not for huge dreadnoughts of 40,000 to 50,000 tons but is for light ships. I mention the recent purchase of two frigates overseas each weighing about 2,000 tons. These were significantly lighter craft than those which we are capable of manufacturing at Whyalla.
The point has to be made that, no matter what happens, if we are to retain the Whyalla operations for building ships for defence and naval purposes obviously the industry there needs to be significantly restructured so that it is capable of building smaller vessels. If that is done, we will see some significant effects on the work force irrespective of what happens in regard to the large question whether we continue the yard in its present form. Therefore, the thrust of the policies that the Government is adopting and which BHP at Whyalla is adopting, is to place workers into other trades and to ensure that they are properly trained and skilled. In other words, the people of Whyalla are facing up to their problems quite courageously and are making sure that the city of Whyalla develops properly in economic terms. Its future obviously is not as gloomy as the Opposition seeks to paint it.
I mention again the future of steel in Whyalla and the fact that it produces the cheapest steel made in Australia. That indicates to me a future which indeed is by no means gloomy. The report of the Committee refers to the fact that steps should be taken to ensure the retention of shipyards. Paragraph 7.86 of the report states:
The Committee has concluded that, from the viewpoint of national security in the most serious of the postulated high level conflict scenarios, there would be a very real need for an ability to produce medium and large merchant ships -
– That is not the paragraph.
-This is paragraph 7.86.
– Read it again.
-Paragraph 7.86 of the report, under the heading ‘Ship Construction’ reads:
The Committee has concluded that, from the viewpoint of national security in the most serious of the postulated high level conflict scenarios, there would be a very real need for an ability to produce medium and large merchant ships . . .
Obviously the point at issue is whether or not this nation is going to be faced constantly with high level conflict scenarios. In no way can we assume -
-Mr President, I take a point of order. If the honourable senator is quoting a section of the report, he should quote it correctly.
– He can quote whatever he likes.
-No, he cannot, Senator. He has quoted a section of the report which has been presented to this Parliament, in which case he should quote the section correctly. He should be quoting paragraph 7.89 in which the Committee says that the Whyalla and Newcastle shipyards should be retained. So I suggest to Senator Messner that, despite the interpretation he has been given by some person on the Committee who gave his name to the recommendation, he should report word by word what is in the recommendation if he is going to base his argument on the report.
– The point of order is not sustained. The honourable member can make his speech in the way in which he desires.
-Thank you, Mr President. I knew you would stand up on the side of justice in this matter. The point here is that there is no statement in this report which indicates that there should be the need to keep a shipbuilding industry which manufactures large ships for defence needs. The view of the Government, which of course has been based on detailed defence analyses that have since become available, is that there is not a likelihood that there will be a very great number of high level conflict scenarios.
– You have changed your mind, Senator.
-Obviously the Government has well and truly taken that into account. Again may I make the point that Senator Bishop is trying to extract every little bit of political impact that he can out of the fact that he has some signatures of Liberal senators on a letter which has been subject to a reconsideration in the light of the full facts. It is clear to the people in this Senate chamber and those listening that the people on this side of the chamber have a definite interest in the people of Whyalla. They want to go about producing the things in Whyalla which are for the long term benefit of that city and which will ensure their security and employment for many years to come.
– You will vote for the resolution then?
-Senator McLaren would not understand anything but the point he is trying to make. I refer again to the need for a full consideration by the Federal Government of all the issues that are pertinent. We know that since the meeting of the South Australian senators in Whyalla, I think on 24 June last, a letter dated 15 August 1977 and signed by the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) was sent to Senator Jessop. He has kindly allowed me to see a copy of it. I should just like to read the relevant paragraph which refers to the reasons for the decision that has been taken by the Government since the point at which we visited Whyalla. The paragraph states:
I can now inform you that the Commonwealth has decided to endorse the recommendation of the Industries Assistance Commission not to vary the rates of assistance for shipbuilding, as payable under the legislation introduced by the previous Commonwealth Government. In coming to this position we have weighed most carefully the views put forward by the South Australian and New South Wales Governments and by other parties including in particular the Joint Parliamentary Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence, the union movement, and local government and other organisations and individuals in Whyalla and Newcastle . . .
The point is that, like Senator Jessop and Senator Davidson on this side of the chamber, I was prepared to support that particular letter when it was written back in June of this year. But a decision having been made by the Government since then, it is clear that the factors envisaged in that letter have been taken into account in the final decision of the Government, which I now fully accept and support. Therefore, it is no longer relevant to consider the letter that Senator Bishop keeps reminding us of gloatingly in his normal way in order to gain political points.
I close my remarks by making the point that this particular aspect has been well recognised now by the Mayor of Whyalla, Mrs Ekblom. In a public statement recently she stated that whereas she recognised that the Government had made its decision on this matter it was obviously now up to the city of Whyalla to involve itself in the retraining and restructuring of the work force so as to ensure that the future development of Whyalla is put on a sound basis for the people of that city. That is what the people on this side of the House would like to see happen and which I will certainly be striving to see occur in the period ahead. Clearly that is where the future of Whyalla lies. Unfortunately, it is not in the shipbuilding industry which has been very largely destroyed by Federal Labor Government policies and not supported by the State Labor Government in South Australia in the provision of special benefits such as rebates for payroll tax. We know that the Government of South Australia is very keen on saying: ‘Look, we will provide payroll tax decentralisation benefits if you set up in Whyalla’. What is it doing about industries already established in Whyalla? The South Australian Government has done nothing to provide payroll tax rebates in order to assist the industries already established in that city. If a one per cent rebate on payroll tax were given, it would save BHP and its shipyard about Sim a year. But that has not been considered by the State Government. I move:
That the question be now put.
- Mr President, I rise on a point of order. The debate was to last for three hours. We have Senator Messner continuing a practice, which has been developed here, of speaking for his full 15 minutes and in the last 30-odd seconds moving the gag, thereby preventing Senator Cavanagh from speaking.
– Order! The motion must be put without debate. The question is: That the question be now put.
Question put. The Senate divided. (The President- Senator the Hon. Condor Laucke)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
That the motion (Senator Bishop’s) be agreed to.
The Senate divided. (The President- Senator the Hon. Condor Laucke)
Question so resolved in the negative.
– For the information of honourable senators I present the report of the Territory of Christmas Island for the year ended 3 1 December 1 976.
– For the information of honourable senators I present the annual report of the Commonwealth Fire Board for 1976-77.
– Pursuant to section 8 of the Urban and Regional Development (Financial Assistance) Act 1974I present an agreement in relation to the provision of financial assistance to New South Wales and Victoria for AlburyWodonga reimbursement to landholders, 1977-78.
– Pursuant to section 44 of the Australian Institute of Marine Science Act 1972 I present the annual report of the Council of the Institute of Marine Science for the year ended 30 June 1976.
Senate Standing Committee on Science and the Environment
-As Chairman of the Senate Standing Committee on Science and the Environment I seek leave to make a statement on behalf of the Committee concerning the annual reports transmitted to the Committee for consideration over the past year.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
-The Committee has examined the annual reports of departments and government instrumentalities tabled in the Senate which have been referred over the past year to the Committee. These reports are:
The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation 28th annual report 1975-76;
The 1st annual report 1976 of the Department of Environment Housing and Community Development;
The report for the period 13 March 1975 to 30 June 1976 of the Australian National Parks and Wildlife Service:
The National Capital Development Commission annual report 1975-76;
The Department of Science annual report 1975-76;
The First annual report 1975-76 of the Commonwealth Department of Construction;
The Australian Fire Board annual report 1 975-76 and
The Metric Conversion Board 6th annual report for the year 1975-76.
I would like very briefly to comment on these reports in turn, relating them where appropriate to the Committee’s terms of reference and to the activities of the Committee, particularly where contacts have been made with the originating departments.
CSIRO Twenty-eighth Annual Report 1975-76
Since the creation of the Committee last year, excellent liaison has been established with the CSIRO. The Committee’s terms of reference bring it close to the work of the CSIRO. In particular the Committee has profited from evidence tendered in respect of its inquiries as well as from visits of inspection. Many aspects of the annual report were accordingly of considerable interest. For example, the CSIRO Division of Forest Research has carried out experiments to determine the suitability of exotic tropical pines for planting in the Northern Territory. The Committee has a particular interest in forestry matters as a result of its inquiry into the woodchip industry. The work of the CSIRO in this field is of some relevance for reducing commercial pressures on native eucalypt forests in temperate latitudes.
The Organisation’s Division of Chemical Technology is conducting research aimed at improving processes used for water supply purification and effluent treatment. The Committee notes with interest the development in conjunction with the Imperial Chemical Industries company of the ‘Siro therm’ process using polymer resins. This process has been successful in desalination and purification of drinking water, a matter which could be of considerable significance for the dry Australian continent. Towards the end of the last session the Committee visited the Organisation’s Division of Land Use Research where information from various sources, including Landsat satellites, is used in the development of computer assisted land use assessment and planning systems. Landsat information is also used by other divisions such as Fisheries and Oceanography and Land Resources Management.
Further to its terms of reference relating to the continuing oversight of the problems of pollution, the Committee maintains surveillance over the problem of air pollution. This matter is now the subject of concentrated study by the CSIRO. The Committee notes with great interest the activities of the Division of Process Technology in studying urban air pollution problems. The work of the Division of Cloud Physics and the Division of Atmospheric Physics in assessing air pollution patterns, together with the quantities of pollutants present in the atmosphere, is adding to the knowledge necessary for decisions in the air quality control field.
Department of Environment, Housing and Community Development, First Annual Report 1976
The Committee’s examination of the Department’s annual report concentrated upon its environmental protection activities and the Department ‘s work relating to the quality of Australian urban life. The Department’s Environment Impact Assessment Division is involved closely with proposals under the Environment Protection (Impact of Proposals) Act. Some important proposals considered during the year reported covered:
Ranger uranium mine;
New South Wales woodchip proposals; and Extension to the Puckapunyal Army Camp.
Constructive development of clear and practical guidelines for assessing the environmental impact of project proposals is essential for sound industrial growth and future community welfare. The Committee accordingly welcomes the work of the Department in developing environmental strategies for Australia. The Department’s encouragement of environmental awareness in education through fellowships, the urban intern scheme, material for schools and so on is commended. The Department’s work in relation to Antarctica and its contribution to the United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea are noted with interest as both subjects have been marked by the Committee as matters likely to require increasing attention.
The situation with respect to an Australian ecological survey, well known to the Committee, is mentioned in the report in connection with a feasibility study of the use of Landsat to speed up the survey. As can be seen from chapter 8 of the Committee’s report on woodchips and the environment, strong support is given to the survey. The Department’s annual report draws attention to the Department’s involvement in studies relating to the treatment of sewage. In this connection the Committee would like to acknowledge the assistance of the Department in its references on water pollution and inland waters.
Australian National Parks and Wildlife Service
The recently concluded inquiry into the woodchip industry heightened the Committee’s awareness of Australia’s need for national parks and the criteria pertaining to their selection, establishment and management. This topic forms a complete chapter of the Committee’s report on the inquiry. The first annual report of the National Parks and Wildlife Service was accordingly received with particular interest. It appears from the annual report that research, education, interdepartmental liaison and, most importantly, Commonwealth-State co-operation are now starting to be tackled in a manner long overdue in Australia. The Committee looks forward to worthwhile developments in these areas.
National Capital Development Commission Annual Report 1975-76
The National Capital Development Commission embodies considerable expertise in urban planning. The Committee retains a continuing interest in observing the application of this expertise in tackling the manifold environmental problems associated with urban development. In May 1977 the NCDC kindly made arrangements, in conjunction with the Department of Construction, for the Committee to make a tour of inspection of the Lower Molonglo Water Quality Control Centre. The motivation for this tour sprang from an examination of the NCDC annual report coupled with the Committee’s terms of reference relating to oversight of pollution problems and inland waters.
Department of Science Annual Report 1975-76
The Committee has before it at present a reference relating to science policy, and it has recently embarked upon a public inquiry into the industrial research and development aspects of this reference. The Department’s annual report was accordingly examined with interest, particularly that section relating to the Policy Division. The Department ‘s role in studying the transfer of technologies generated outside Australia particularly through its contacts with international bodies such as the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and the United Nations organisation are noteworthy in this connection.
The Committee also noted that under the heading of ‘Research as a basis for Scientific and
Technological policy’, the Department spoke of proposals being developed for policies governing collection and dissemination of scientific and technical data. The Committee will be watching closely for progress in this direction.
Department of Construction First Annual Report 1975-76
Because of its relevance to the Committee’s current public inquiry, the chapter headed Technological Research’ received close study. The work of the Experimental Building Station and the Central Testing and Research Laboratory are of particular interest in this context. Considerable interest also centres on the Department ‘s study of electric vehicles.
Metric Conversion Board Sixth Annual Report 1975-76
Australian Fire Board Annual Report 1975-76
The Committee has no particular comment to offer in connection with the two remaining reports forwarded for consideration. These are the Metric Conversion Board Sixth Annual Report for the year 1975-76, and Australiannow Commonwealth- Fire Board Annual Report 1975-76. It is perhaps worth remarking in connection with the latter that the Committee made contact with the Commonwealth Fire Board in connection with public allegations in July 1977 of a poor standard of fire fighting equipment at Canberra Airport.
Australian Industrial Research and Development Incentives Board Annual Report 1975-76
Before ending my remarks I would like to comment on one further report which was not formally transmitted to the Committee but which was examined in connection with the inquiry into industrial research and development. This is the annual report 1975-76 of the Australian Industrial Research and Development Incentives Board. The Board now operates under the Industrial Research and Development Incentives Act 1976, the object of which is ‘to promote the development and improve the efficiency of Australian industry by encouraging industrial research and development in Australia in matters relating to science and technology’. The Act of 1976 supersedes that of 1967. The Committee was interested to note that the annual report sets out most excellently facts and figures relating to disbursements in the form of selective and general grants, together with appendices listing the amounts awarded to individual industries since 1972-73. Other useful data is provided, such as a list of approved research organisations, a breakdown of recipients of grants by class, and miscellaneous information relating to the provisions of the Act.
The Committee is concerned, however, that no attempt has been made in this or previous annual reports to assess the value of government assistance to the industries concerned and thereby relate the award of grants to the objects of the Act. In his second reading speech on the Industrial Research and Development Incentives Bill, the Minister for Industry and Commerce (Senator Cotton) announced a number of criteria to be considered by the Industrial Research and Development Incentives Board in selecting projects for grants. The criteria include: the prospects of improvement in resource utilisation; the competitiveness, efficiency and export performance of the firm and industry concerned; the resultant advance on the technology currently employed in Australian industry; and whether the project is likely to attract a satisfactory level of support from the applicant company itself within a reasonable time span, without the provision of government assistance.
The report gives no indication of the success or otherwise of the legislation in meeting the objectives of the Act. The Committee accordingly recommends to the Minister now administering the Act, the Minister for Productivity (Mr Macphee), that in future the Board include in its reports an assessment of the number and kinds of assisted projects which are successful and relate them to development and improved efficiency of Australian industry as a whole. The report should also make an appreciation of the criteria used in selecting projects and attempt to relate these to their subsequent success or failure. If this is not done, how is Parliament to assess the effectiveness of its legislation and its administration.
The Committee also believes that where assisted projects turn out to be successful commercially then some return should accrue to the Commonwealth in recognition of the assistance granted. Such returns could form a fund for the provision of further assistance. Although section 33 of the Act appears to authorise the Board to make such provision in its agreements with companies, this is not readily apparent, and should be more clearly defined in the Act. This aspect of the legislation warrants closer examination by the Government. I move:
-by leave-As Vice-Chairman of the Senate Standing Committee on Science and the Environment, serving under Senator Jessop, I believe that a report of this nature should hearten highly qualified professional people who have appeared before Senate committees. In this field the top officers of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation gave evidence to the Committee. I refer particularly to the inquiry into the woodchip industry. Like Senator Jessop and other senators I have felt that it is essential that people giving evidence to the Committee be aware of the fact that the knowledge that they are able to give Senate committees is put to good use. As a postscript to what Senator Jessop has said, I indicate that yesterday three answers were given to my questions on notice Nos 1 193, 1 194 and 1 195. These answers confirmed the evidence that was given to the Committee by three State governments which assured the Committee that so far as forest programs and wildlife conservation were concerned they had land management programs. Yesterday details were given which showed that to a considerable degree those State governments were honouring the evidence they gave on oath and increased national parks acreages have occurred.
We all know that it is rather irksome at times under our federal system that all people do not honour the promises and pledges that they give. Without being too egotistical I think I can say, in relation specifically to wildlife conservation, that as a result of our probing questions and subsequent exposures these State Governments have honoured their agreements to a certain degree. One may go back a little further in time to illustrate the efficiency of Senate committees. I think that some of the good work that has been done by Senate committees, such as the celebrated Senate Select Committee on Water Pollution which was chaired by Senator Davidson and the Senate Select Committee on Air Pollution on which Senator Georges and others served, has lived on long after the disbandonment of the committees. I say this because I noticed last week when five ministerial statements were presented on uranium, one of the statements, presented by the Minister for National Resources and Deputy Prime Minister, Mr Anthony, belatedly admitted the fact that the Government was to spend $300,000 on rehabilitating the Finniss River. Without taking any party partisan attitude, such a recommendation was presented in a joint effort by that Committee on water pollution. Although it is only seven or eight years ago that the Senate Select Committee on Water Pollution presented its report, the only survivors of those who formed the membership of that Senate Committee are Senator Rae, Senator Davidson and I. So I simply say this: It is a case of proven performances. The examples that I have given prove the efficiency of the Senate committees that are suitably dedicated to their tasks. I seek leave to continue my remarks at a later stage.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
-by leave- Mr President, as Chairman of the Senate Standing Committee on Science and the Environment, I wish to make a statement on behalf of the Committee concerning the Committee’s current inquiry into industrial research and development. I have noted with interest a story on the front page of the Australian newspaper of 6 September 1977 concerning a confidential’ report to the Minister for Defence, the Hon. D. J. Killen, compiled by the Chairman of Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd, Sir Ian McLennan, and a group of senior industrialists. According to the newspaper, the report is strongly critical of local capacity to meet military needs and it calls for the Government to set up research and development projects in Australia. It states:
Australia is losing contracts worth millions of dollars every year to overseas countries simply because local firms cannot match their sophistication.
This is one of the topics currently under investigation as part of the inquiry of the Standing Committee on Science and the Environment into industrial research and development. The Committee has already received a number of submissions touching upon the capability of Australian industry to support adequately military requirements and the consequent need for an increase in the number of Government research and development contracts let to industry.
This topic will be among those to be considered at the Committee’s first public hearings into this industrial research and development reference to be held in Sydney on 27 and 28 September. I move:
Debate (on motion by Senator Mulvihill) adjourned.
-Mr President, I seek leave to table a copy of the original document of which Senator 0 ‘Byrne’s tabled document purports to be a copy.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
Senator Harradine having tabled the document;
-Mr President, I seek leave to have the document which was tabled by me last night incorporated in Hansard.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
The document read as follows, the words in italics being in the handwriting of Senator O’Byrne-
STATEMENT RE BRIAN HARRADINE AND THE NATIONAL CIVIC COUNCIL
by J. P. Forrester, Branch Secretary, Federated Clerks’ Union of Australia, Central and Southern Queensland Branch, to Branch Council
I have been surprised over the last three years to read of the Harradine situation in the Tasmanian ALP and the protestations made on his behalf by a number of prominent personalities. As I am not a member of the Labor Party and have not been for some five’ years, I have always felt Mr Harradine ‘s relations with that party were the business of the ALP and Harradine himself.
For what it is worth, I have always felt that the ALP was a little restrictive in rejecting for membership people of various independent and extremist groups and tended to overly limit its capacity to have an exchange of views within the party confines. I personally feel the ALP was a little silly expelling Mr Harradine for being a member of the National Civic Council. He is surely not the only member of the National Civic Council in the ALP and some former members who are now quite prominent were in the National Civic Council as they climbed to their present pre-eminence.
What I find surprising though is these wide ranging denials of Mr Harradine ‘s membership. As long back as 1 can remember, Brian Harradine has of course been a member of the National Civic Council, and as late as the Australian Day weekend in January 197S, he was still a member and in fact, quite a prominent one. I was one of a number of other Union officials who sat with him in Melbourne at Belloc House at Sakville Street, Kew at a national trade union meeting of the National Civic Council. These meetings occur each year at that time and this was not the first occasion on which Mr Harradine and I had been at these meetings.
During 1970, the ACTU Interstate Executive met in Brisbane. Brian Harradine and Ted Goldsworthy (both NCC members and both members of Interstate Executive) attended and addressed a meeting of NCC industrial members and close contacts at New Farm. Both were introduced as NCC members, which, of course, they were.
I have never accepted the rather naive National Civic Council approach of making heroes out of ordinary people. I believe Mr Harradine, while a Union Official, did a fairly effective industrial job in Tasmania. To say this does not mean that one must accept the ‘bleeding heart’ martyr syndrome which grew up about Brian and his relationships with the left wing’. I have always thought he was a little hysterical in his attitudes to communists and the extreme left-wing activity, but I have always put this down to the pressures which have been applied to him since his famous support for Gough Whitlam and his reported emotional break-up at the ALP Federal Executive meeting.
When thieves fall out
I have always had a certain sympathy for Brian Harradine and other National Civic Council members such as Paul Houlihan, Ken Bennett, Bob Watling, Peter Imlach, (…) and others who have carried heavy loads on low rates of pay on behalf of the National Civic Council while the national leadership has waxed fat in the case of
John Maynes and have lived at a respectable level of comfort as in the case of B. A. Santamaria and Tony Macken. There seem to be differential standards, and in late 1974 I was approached by Paul Houlihan, the present Secretary of the Clerks’ Union in Tasmania to see if we in Queensland could give some assistance on a personal level to himself, Harradine and others who were genuinely economically disadvantaged. I was in fact doing something in this area for him when the extraordinary attacks on other officials of the Union by John Maynes began.
If this introduction has seemed a little rambling, I have attempted to place my current attitude to Mr Harradine in perspective. At no stage during the period of the dispute between John Grenville and John Maynes, and later between this Branch of the Union and the National Civic Council have I made any attacks on Harradine even though such attacks could have been damaging to his ALP membership.
Earlier this year in Canberra, I was present when John Grenville was asked to publicly declare what he knew of Brian Harradine ‘s association with the National Civic Council. Grenville was asked only to tell the truth, but he declined to make any statement which would be damaging to Harradine. In the light of the currently reported attitudes of Harradine in support of Maynes, I can only suggest that both Grenville ‘s chanty and mine towards Harradine has not been reciprocated.
It has been reported to me that in support of the Maynes’ proposition for opposition to rank and file ballots, Harradine has engaged in the most mischievious personal attacks on this Branch of the Union, and on myself particularly, with members of the governing coalition in Canberra. Further, he is alleged to have made threats about coming north to straighten out Forrester. Senator Harradine is welcome to come north on his gold pass any time he likes. Similar threats are being made by other National Civic Council extremists. On arrival he will discover that neither Forrester nor any other member of the staff or Council of the Clerk ‘s Union is in a state of fear or trepidation; in fact most would be completely disinterested.
The other thing that has led me to write this report to Councillors is that I prepared a statement in reply to the extraordinary articles appearing concurrently in the ‘News Weekly’ and ‘The Bulletin’ some time back about some mythical axis between myself, Barry Egan, Harry Krantz and Ray Gietzelt. In presenting a reply to this through the appropriate channels, i.e., my Branch Executive, the statement which I distributed was incorporated in the Branch Executive Minutes. There was some passing reference to Brian Harradine. I was amazed when the Assistant Secretary of this Union, Max Muller, reported to me that following the meeting he was approached by Joan Riordan, the Branch Vice President, asking him to remove the reference to Harradine from the Branch Executive Minutes. Miss Riordan, of course, is prominent in the extremist anti-semitic National Civic Council in Queensland. Even allowing for the pantomine type secrecy (security) in which the National Civic Council engages, such as sending letters through the post in two pans, I fail to see the necessity to falsify the Minutes of the Branch Executive of my Union in aid of Brian Harradine. I cannot see what value that would have which would justify the dishonesty involved.
As I said earlier, Mr Harradine was a member to my knowledge of the National Civic Council as late as January 197S. I have heard reports that he was still a member in January 1976 but these are mere hearsay. I have seen the various statements which have passed backwards and forwards and have been used under parliamentary privilege by Harradine in relation to the Miscellaneous Workers’ Union in New South Wales and the pan played by such people as Peter Moxon and Norman Bray. I have seen the various statutory declarations. I have met Bray only once and am in no position to challenge his statements. I have met and worked on a number of matters with Peter Moxon and I can only say that the statements he presents, if not inaccurate in fact, certainly have a lot of gaps. If information is not inaccurate, it is certainly withheld. Peter Moxon was actively engaged with the National Civic Council while a member of the ALP working daily from the office of the State President, Mr Bob 0 ‘Connell, in an attempt to defeat Ray Gietzelt. He told me he was paid by the National Civic Council and on one occasion asked me through Terry Keogh to get Maynes to hurry up the payments. I make no judgment of this, only state it as a fact. Mr Moxon on two occasions boasted to me of the pressure that he had placed on Gietzelt by ringing his home in the middle of the night and at other times to disturb his domestic situation. I can particularly appreciate the value of this as I have been subject to a similar telephone campaign since the Maynes/Grenville, Maynes/Santamaria dispute began. I know that Moxon visited Queensland on two occasions and spent a considerable time with Officers of the National Civic Council and campaigned against State Branch Officials of the Miscellaneous Workers’ Union. I know that he visited the Shop Assistants’ and the Australian Workers’ Union, but I in no way wish to imply that Officials of those Unions gave him any assistance. I am unaware whether they did assist or did not assist.
Additionally, Mr Terry Keogh has stated that during the second Gietzelt campaign which was run solely by the National Civic Council, as distinct from the first campaign, that both Bray and Moxon stated to him that they had attended meetings and discussions at the National Civic Council office whilst they were both members of the ALP.
Graham Treacey, who is now Secretary of AAESDA (Architects, Engineers and Draughtsmen) (Queensland Division) has advised that in October 1972 he attended a school run by the National Civic Council at Belloc House. As Secretary of the Union, I can testify that Mr Treacey, who was then an Organiser of the Union, was in fact absent for several weeks to attend this school. Also in attendance at that school were Mr Bob Watling, then with the Shop Assistants’ Union; Mr Peter Imlach representing the Hospital Employees’; Mr Keiran Ryan, an organiser of the Federated Clerks Union in Western Australia, later on the NCC staff in Western Australia; Mr Brian Philp, then and now an organiser in the Victorian Branch of the FCU; Mr Rocky Nimmo, a clerk from Tasmania, also full time with the NCC. Mr Nimmo, Mr Watling and Mr Imlach were all Tasmanians, pan of the Harradine team.
Mr Terry Keogh, an organiser of this Union, was employed by the National Civic Council for a period of time to assist in a campaign against Gietzelt in New South Wales. Mr Keogh is still a member of the staff of this Union and like myself and all other members of the staff, except the Branch President, has broken with the National Civic Council and has come to detest their method of operation, their ballotrigging procedures, their campaigns of personal abuse against all officials of trade unions with whom they disagree, whether communist, anti-communist or neutral.
In preparing this document for Branch Council, I wish to advise that to the best of my knowledge the material contained herein is true. In relation to information provided by Mr Keogh and Mr Treacey I have checked and counterchecked that information with them, and they both state clearly that the information they have provided is truthful. (Signed)
STATEMENT BY J. P. FORRESTER, BRANCH SECRETARY, FEDERATED CLERKS’ UNION OF AUSTRALIA (CENTRAL AND SOUTHERN QUEENSLAND BRANCH)
My attention has been drawn to an article which appeared in The Bulletin’ on 8 May 1976 (copy attached) and also an article propagating similar attitudes contained in ‘News Weekly- last week s issue.
During the whole of the dispute which has existed in this Union over the last twelve months as a result of the incompatibility of Mr Maynes and Mr Grenville, and the internal differences in the National Civic Council between Mr Maynes and Mr Santamaria, I have attempted to maintain a certain amount of restraint in public criticisms and the divulging of confidential information in the public forum.
It has been my practice in trade union activities over the last 20 years to maintain confidences irrespective of a particular state of a relationship unless the other party to the confidence first breaches it.
As members of the Branch Council would be well aware, as would many members of the industrial relations public, I was for many years a member and/or associate of the Catholic Social Movement and the NCC. While those organisations were ‘confidential’, I at no stage kept secret my own involvement. I respect the right of individuals to join whatever organisation they like and to pursue the aims of that organisation. It is now some twelve months since I have had any association with the NCC. During my industrial life and my concurrent membership of those organisations, I have become party to a number of confidences which I have maintained. For example, I am well aware that Mr J. B. Maher, Federal President of the SDA and Senator Brian Harradine have been members of those organisations for many years. As late as January 1973, 1 attended a conference of the NCC with those persons in Melbourne. Despite the fact that both have been parties to quite slanderous attacks on myself and other officials of the Central and Southern Queensland Branch of the Federated Clerks ‘ Union for some time, I have maintained their confidence and silence in relation to those matters that they could have found embarrassing. There is, however, a limit.
The two articles which seek to associate me with left wing causes are quite ridiculous. I make no secret of the fact that I associate with Mr Egan or Mr Krantz of the FCU. As well as discussions with Mr Krantz about the present state of the Federated Clerks’ Union, I have had discussions with representatives and senior officials privately of four other Branches. Each has expressed concern at the behaviour of the national leadership of the Union.
There is no plot. There is no alliance. Degrees of criticism of the Federation vary in range and intensity. The discussions and activity are a legitimate function of myself as a Branch Secretary and Federal Vice President of the Union.
I have had private discussions with Mr Ray Gietzelt of the Miscellaneous Workers’ Union on two occasions; the last being more than eight months ago. I am not in alliance with Mr Gietzelt nor do I share ideological views on a number of issues. He is the Secretary of a large Union and I can see no purpose in unnecessary disputation with the Miscellaneous Workers’ Union. As I have stated previously, there is no alliance, but I see no purpose in carrying out a vendetta on behalf of the NCC with Mr Gietzelt and his Union. The two Unions in Queensland have a friendly relationship on a working basis without necessarily sharing ideological points of view on every issue. Before many of the ‘shouters’ against Mr Gietzelt discovered him, I was in dispute with him on political matters within the Australian Labor Party. I do not announce this to show that I am more anti-Communist than my detractors. Just a simple statement of fact. I am sure there will be issues on which I will differ from Mr Gietzelt in the future.
I have no intention, however, of involving the Central and Southern Queensland Branch of the Federated Clerks’ Union in a running argument with the Miscellaneous Workers’ Union, its officials or other trade unions in the interests of the political bigotry and ideological narrowness of the National Civic Council and its officials. (Signed)
J.P.FORRESTER 10 May 1976
-Mr President, I seek leave to have the document which I tabled incorporated in Hansard.
-Is leave granted?
– Leave is not granted.
Motion (by Senator Withers) agreed to:
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent me from moving a motion for the incorporation in Hansard of the document tabled by Senator Harradine.
Motion (by Senator Withers) agreed to:
That the document tabled by Senator Harradine be incorporated in Hansard.
The document read as follows-
STATEMENT RE BRIAN HARRADINE AND THE NATIONAL CIVIC COUNCIL
I have been surprised over the last three years to read of the Harradine situation in the Tasmanian ALP and the protestations made on his behalf by a number of prominent personalities. As I am not a member of the Labor Party and have not been for some five years, I have always felt Mr Harradine ‘s relations with that party were the business of the ALP and Harradine himself.
For what it is worth, I have always felt that the ALP was a little restrictive in rejecting for membership people of various independent and extremist groups and tended to overly limit its capacity to have an exchange of views within the party confines. I personally feel the ALP was a huie silly expelling Mr Harradine for being a member of the National Civic Council. He is surely not the only member of the National Civic Council in the ALP and some former members who are now quite prominent were in the National Civic Council as they climbed to their present pre-eminence.
What I find surprising though is these wide ranging denials of Mr Harradine ‘s membership. As long back as I can remember, Brian Harradine has of course been a member of the National Civic Council, and as late as the Australian Day weekend in January 1975, he was still a member and in fact, quite a prominent one. I was one of a number of other Union officials who sat with him in Melbourne at Belloc House at Sakville Street, Kew at a national trade union meeting of the National Civic Council. These meetings occur each year at that time and this was not the first occasion on which Mr Harradine and I had been at these meetings.
During 1970, the ACTU Interstate Executive met in Brisbane. Brian Harradine and Ted Goldsworthy (both NCC members and both members of Interstate Executive) attended and addressed a meeting of NCC industrial members and close contacts at New Farm. Both were introduced as NCC members, which, of course, they were.
I have never accepted the rather naive National Civic Council approach of making heroes out of ordinary people. I believe Mr Harradine, while a Union Official, did a fairly effective industrial job in Tasmania. To say this does not mean that one must accept the bleeding hean martyr syndrome which grew up about Brian and his relationships with the left wing’. I have always thought he was a little hysterical in his attitudes to communists and the extreme left-wing activity, but I have always put this down to the pressures which have been applied to him since his famous support for Gough Whitlam and his reported emotional break-up at the ALP Federal Executive meeting.
I have always had a certain sympathy for Brian Harradine and other National Civic Council members such as Paul Houlihan, Ken Bennett, Bob Watling, Peter Imlach, Des Lavey and others who have carried heavy loads on low rates of pay on behalf of the National Civic Council while the national leadership has waxed far in the case of John Maynes and have lived at a respectable level of comfort as in the case of B. A. Santamaria and Tony Macken. There seem to be differential standards, and in late 1974 I was approached by Paul Houlihan, the present Secretary of the Clerk’s Union in Tasmania to see if we in Queensland could give some assistance on a personal level to himself, Harradine and others who were genuinely economically disadvantaged- 1 was in fact doing something in this area for him when the extraordinary attacks on other officials of the Union by John Maynes began.
If this introduction has seemed a little rambling, I have attempted to place my current attitude to Mr Harradine in perspective. At no stage during the period of the dispute between John Grenville and John Maynes, and later between this Branch of the Union and the National Civic Council have I made any attacks on Harradine even though such attacks could have been damaging to his ALP membership.
Earlier this year in Canberra, I was present when John Grenville was asked to publicly declare what he knew of Brian Harradine ‘s association with the National Civic Council. Grenville was asked only to tell the truth, but he declined to make any statement which would be damaging to Harradine. In the light of the currently reported attitudes of Harradine in support of Maynes, I can only suggest that both Grenville ‘s charity and mine towards Harradine has not been reciprocated.
It has been reported to me that in support of the Maynes’ proposition for opposition to rank and file ballots, Harradine has engaged in the most mischievious personal attacks on this Branch of the Union, and on myself particularly, with members of the governing coalition in Canberra. Further, he is alleged to have made threats about ‘coming north’ to straighten out Forrester. Senator Harradine is welcome to come north’ on his gold pass any time he likes. Similar threats are being made by other National Civic Council extremists. On arrival he will discover that neither Forrester nor any other member of the staff or Council of the Clerks’ Union is in a state of fear or trepidation; in fact most would be completely disinterested.
The other thing that has led me to write this report to Councillors is that I prepared a statement in reply to the extraordinary articles appearing concurrently in the ‘News Weekly’ and ‘The Bulletin’ some time back about some mythical axis between myself, Barry Egan, Harry Krantz and Ray Gietzelt. In presenting a reply to this through the appropriate channels, i.e. my Branch Executive, the statement which I distributed was incorporated in the Branch Executive Minutes. There was some passing reference to Brian Harradine. I was amazed when the Assistant Secretary of this Union, Max Muller, reported to me that following the meeting he was approached by Joan Riordan, the Branch Vice President, asking him to remove the reference to
Harradine from the Branch Executive Minutes. Miss Riordan, of course, is prominent in the extremist anti-semitic National Civic Council in Queensland. Even allowing for the pantomine type secrecy (security) in which the National Civic Council engages, such as sending letters through the post in two pans, I fail to see the necessity to falsify the Minutes of the Branch Executive of my Union in aid of Brian Harradine. I cannot see what value that would have which would justify the dishonesty involved.
As I said earlier, Mr Harradine was a member to my knowledge of the National Civic Council as late as January 1975. I have heard reports that he was still a member in January 1976 but these are mere hearsay. I have seen the various statements which have passed backwards and forwards and have been used under parliamentary privilege by Harradine in relation to the Miscellaneous Workers’ Union in New South Wales and the part played by such people as Peter Moxon and Norman Bray. I have seen the various statutory declarations. I have met Bray only once and am in no position to challenge his statements. I have met and worked on a number of matters with Peter Moxon and I can only say that the statements he presents, if not inaccurate in fact, certainly have a lot of gaps. If information is not inaccurate, it is certainly withheld. Peter Moxon was actively engaged with the National Civic Council while a member of the ALP working daily from the office of the State President, Mr Bob O ‘Connell, in an attempt to defeat Ray Gietzelt. He told me he was paid by the National Civic Council and on one occasion asked me through Terry Keogh to get Maynes to hurry up the payments. I make no judgment of this, only state it as a fact. Mr Moxon on two occasions boasted to me of the pressure that he had placed on Gietzelt by ringing his home in the middle of the night and at other times to disturb his domestic situation. I can particularly appreciate the value of this as I have been subject to a similar telephone campaign since the Maynes/Grenville, Maynes/Santamaria dispute began. I know that Moxon visited Queensand on two occasions and spent a considerable time with Officers of the National Civic Council and campaigned against State Branch Officials of the Miscellaneous Workers’ Union. I know that he visited the Shop Assistants’ and the Australian Workers’ Union, but I in no way wish to imply that Officials of those Unions gave him any assistance. I am unaware whether they did assist or did not assist.
Additionally, Mr Terry Keogh has stated that during the second Gietzelt campaign which was run solely by the National Civic Council, as distinct from the first campaign, that both Bray and Moxon stated to him that they had attended meetings and discussions at the National Civic Council office whilst they were both members of the ALP.
Graham Treacey, who is now Secretary of AAESDA (Queensland Division) has advised that in October 1972 he attended a school run by the National Civic Council at Belloc House. As Secretary of the Union, I can testify that Mr Treacey, who was then an Organiser of the Union, was in fact absent for several weeks to attend this school. Also in attendance at that school were Mr Bob Watling, then with the Shop Assistants’ Union; Mr Peter Imlach representing the Hospital Employees’; Mr Keiran Ryan, an organiser of the Federated Clerks’ Union in Western Australia, later on the NCC staff in Western Australia; Mr Brian Philp, then and now an organiser in the Victorian Branch of the NCC; Mr Rocky Nimmo, a clerk from Tasmania, also full time with the NCC. Mr Nimmo, Mr Whatling and Mr Imlach were all Tasmanians, pan of the Harradine team.
Mr Terry Keogh, an organiser of this Union, was employed by the National Civic Council for a period of time to assist in a campaign against Gietzelt in New South Wales. Mr Keogh is still a member of the staff of the Union and like myself and all other members of the staff, except the Branch President, has broken with the National Civic Council and has come to detest their method of operation, their ballotrigging procedures, their campaigns of personal abuse against all officials of trade unions with whom they disagree, whether communist, anti-communist or neutral.
In preparing this document for Branch Council, I wish to advise that to the best of my knowledge the material contained herein is true. In relation to information provided by Mr Keogh and Mr Treacey I have checked and counterchecked that information with them, and they both state clearly that the information they have provided is truthful.
Federated Clerks’ Union of Australia (Central and Southern Queensland Branch)
Senator WITHERS (Western AustraliaLeader of the Government in the Senate) (8.57(-I move
That unless otherwise ordered the Senate at its rising adjourn until tomorrow at half past 10 a.m.
The purpose of moving this motion is to enable the Senate to complete Question Time and formal business tomorrow in time to permit Estimates Committees D, E and F to meet at the scheduled time at 12 noon.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– Last evening Senator McLaren, speaking in the adjournment debate, referred to the article in the Daily Mirror of 1 September concerning the question of security in Parliament House and asked whether I would examine it and report to the Senate. I have now had the opportunity to read this article and I wish to make the following comment: I think all honourable senators would agree that there should be adequate security arrangements in the Parliament building. The security of this building and of its inhabitants is therefore a matter that is kept under constant review by the parliamentary departments concerned and, where necessary, reports and recommendations are made to Mr Speaker and myself who have responsibility for these matters. I emphasise that this is an ongoing procedure and one that is in our opinion very necessary.
Senator McLaren was concerned at the reference to a report prepared by the Joint House Committee. This is an inaccurate statement as no such report has been made to or is being made by that Committee. I do not think it appropriate to comment here on the detailed security measures mentioned in the article except to say that we are aware that a pass system is used in other parliaments and that this is but one measure that has been and is still under consideration. The question of security arrangements in this building is a matter on which I am always ready to receive the views and suggestions of honourable senators as acceptance by the members of the Parliament of such arrangements is of vital importance to the operation of an effective security system.
– I inform the Senate that I have received a letter from the Prime Minister nominating Mr M. Baillieu to fill the vacancy on the Joint Committee on the Australian Capital Territory caused by the resignation of Mr A. J. MacKenzie.
Debate resumed from 25 August on motion by Senator Durack:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
-The Opposition does not propose to oppose the Air Navigation Amendment Bill 1977. We do not want to delay the passage of it. But we do want to take the opportunity to make some brief observations in relation to the Bill itself. Let me state briefly first of all that the purpose of the Air Navigation Amendment Bill is to provide parliamentary approval to the ratification of the protocol adopted at the twenty-first session of the Assembly of the International Civil Aviation Association. The session was held in Montreal, the headquarters of ICAO and the effect of the protocol was to amend article 50A so as to increase the membership of the ICAO Council which is its government body from 30 to 33. The basis of the decision was that the membership of the Organisation had increased to 140 states and hence an increase of three in the size of the Council was appropriate.
This organisation is a substantial and important body in international aviation and operates as a specialised agency of the United Nations. Australia has been a member of ICAO since its inception in 1947 and has played an important role in its deliberations and activities. The aims and objectives of ICAO are to develop the principles and techniques of international air transport so as to ensure the safe and orderly growth of civil aviation throughout the world. I think the Minister for Transport (Mr Nixon) answered a question in another place today in a somewhat- I will not use the word devious- protective way in relation to one of the airlines to which I will refer in a moment or two. I want to wind up my contribution to this debate by making a couple of remarks about that aspect towards the end of my speech. The organisation also aims to encourage the development of aircraft design and operations for peaceful purposes; to encourage the development of airways, airports and air navigation facilities for international civil aviation; to meet the needs of the peoples of the world for safe, regular, efficient and economic air transport; to prevent economic waste caused by unreasonable competition; to ensure that the rights of contracting states are fully respected and that every contracting state has a fair opportunity to operate international airlines; to avoid discrimination between contracting states; to promote safety of flight in international air navigation; and, finally, to promote generally the development of all aspects of civil aeronautics
Australia’s interest and participation in this international organisation is well founded. Australia is one of the few nations of the world that has such a dependence on aviation for regular, efficient and quick contact with other nations. Further, for internal travel, Australia also depends to a great extent on aviation. Australia is probably one of the few countries of the world that relies so heavily on air passenger transport to move people from one part of this vast country to another. Our national and international record of aviation safety is unsurpassed with our two national airlines and international airline in the top ten safest airlines in the world. This is a record of which we can be justly proud. When one remembers that over 1,023,000 Australian people travelled overseas in the year just ended, and approximately another 8 million travelled within Australia by air, one begins to realise just how important this aspect of air travel is. More than one person in two in terms of a per capita analysis of the population took an aeroplane flight from point A to point B, or from Cooktown to Perth, in the past year.
I want to return to the International Civil Aviation Organisation for a moment. In 1973 the organisation employed 657 persons in the secretariat in Montreal; 132 persons in its regional offices; and 180 persons in professional categories in the field on United Nations Development Program projects, a total work force of over 1,000 persons of 57 different nationalities. Its 1973 budget, which is based on the calendar year rather than on our fiscal year, showed total appropriations of $US 13.0 10m. Contributions from member states totalled $US 10.092m, with the major share of that amount coming from the United States of
America, Soviet Russia, the United Kingdom, France and West Germany. Australia’s share, as appropriated in last year’s budget was $240,000. The actual payment was only $215,135. No doubt that was part of our tightening of the belt. We did not pay all the money that should have been paid.
– The lean years.
– The lean years will cease in a few months time when Labor takes over again. Many of the decisions taken by ICAO have particular importance to Australia and the need to protect the Australian public against insolvent and sometimes unscrupulous travel agencies and ticket selling malpractices must be closely scrutinised. I recall raising this problem in the Senate some seven or eight years ago, long before the Labor Party came to office. We were told at that time that the Government proposed to introduce all sorts of protective measures to make sure that none of these things happened. Whilst in government the Labor Party tried to do something about this matter but was blocked from doing so in this chamber. As soon as another travel agency, particularly one involved with aircraft carriage of passengers, gets into trouble there are great screams from Government supporters but nothing is ever done. It is pushed under the carpet again.
Unfair trade practices or, to use a better term, malpractices in ticket selling and under the counter deals with some airlines occur. They are going on all the time. This is not simply a domestic matter in Australia because it is a matter concerning civil aviation throughout the world. It may be all very well if people simply wish to take the short term advantage of getting a cut price rate for travel to some place but everyone expects, whether travelling overseas or within Australia, that there will be an efficient, safe and reliable air service which will operate with reasonable frequency to take people wherever they want to go. Cut prices or bargain basement rates at certain times are not compatible with a reliable, quality air service. Somewhere there must be a reconciliation of those two objectives.
There are a couple of points that I would like to place before the Minister for Education (Senator Carrick). Perhaps when he is winding up the debate he may be able to give me an answer to them. One refers to what my colleague Senator Mulvihill called the lean years. Perhaps the Minister might explain to the Senate why only $215,135 of the allocated $240,000 for the financial year 1976-77 was spent. I ask the Minister also whether he is able to explain what effects the cut price flights, as proposed by people like Mr Freddie Laker, are likely to have on the quality and safety of air services into and out of Australia. I mentioned a moment ago that I was intrigued by a reply the Minister in another place gave to a question today. I am worried about the Minister because he does not really have a good grip on his transport portfolio.
-Let us talk about it. I happened to be present at a meeting -
– I am accusing you of being completely inaccurate.
– There is no need to sit over there crying. You have had your say tonight. There are a number of Ministers in this Parliament who are likely to do an Ellicott at any old tick of the clock.
– Just name one.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator DrakeBrockman) Order! Senator Keeffe, you would be much better off if you listened to the Chair instead of to honourable senators on the other side of the House.
-Mr Deputy Chairman, I realise that you are more important then he is and I will direct my remarks to you. I happened to be present at a meeting in the Gulf country recently at which the Minister for Transport was a guest speaker. We threw around a lot of questions about air transport for people living in remote centres. There will be a big problem in central Australia shortly because of the problems which Connair is encountering and the likelihood of its having to cutting back on a number of flights and because of the attitude of this Government in cutting back assistance to that airline. The Minister said that the spirit of federalism works everywhere in Australia. In addition to air transport in remote areas we need road transport which is sometimes a link in with air transport in certain areas. But we do not have the roads because a lot of the money is spent south of the Kingaroy line.
The honourable member for Leichhardt (Mr Thomson) happened to be present at this meeting and when the Minister got himself into deep water and was unable to answer a question, he said: ‘I am sure that the ex-Brigadier will be able to reply’. The ex-Brigadier very rightly corrected the Minister and said: ‘I am still a brigadier’. He said: ‘If you want to know what the defence policy is on roads, it is that we do not build roads in these remote areas because the enemy may use them if they invade us’. I hope that the spirit of federalism on roads and air transport in the remote areas of this country and outside this country will be dropped and that we will get back to the good old safety methods. I was not only intrigued by the Minister’s reply in the other place today but also I was a little frightened by it because it looks as though it might be decided to go into cut-throat competition in shifting people out of this country to other countries for the sake of so-called free enterprise. With these few questions to the Minister, I want to say that whilst the Opposition does not oppose the Bill and does not want to delay it, there are some things the Opposition wants to know more about.
– It is unfortunate that Senator Keeffe should refer to the Minister for Transport (Mr Nixon) as replying in devious fashions -
– I did not say ‘devious’.
– Correct yourself. Be truthful.
-Mr Deputy President -
- Mr Deputy President, I take a point of order. I said that I would not use the word ‘devious’. Now the honourable senator is endeavouring to distort my words. I ask him to withdraw that.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- Senator Jessop, I listened very carefully to Senator Keeffe. He said that he should not or would not use the word devious’. I nearly pulled him up, but he made that point.
– I accept your assessment, Mr Deputy President. I will read the Hansard with interest tomorrow.
– Are you going to apologise?
-I will read the Hansard with interest tomorrow.
- Mr Deputy President, I asked for an apology from the honourable senator, and I think I am entitled to it.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- No, Senator Keeffe. ,
-I am glad to know that the Opposition has no objection to the Air Navigation Amendment Bill. I also am glad to know that Senator Keeffe quite properly has recognised the Australian air navigation record not only domestically but also internationally. It is quite fitting that the Senate should approve the protocol that has been established ‘ internationally. An amendment to the Air Navigation Act 1920 approved the ratification of the
Chicago Convention on International Civil Aviation of 1944.
I believe that this navigation arrangement internationally will become of increasing significance now that we have adopted a 200-mile off-shore zone. I can see that it will be increasingly difficult to exercise surveillance over the waters of Australia. With a 200-mile offshore zone, an area of something like 6 million square miles of ocean will have to be surveyed. I predict that this legislation will take on a far greater significance in future.
– Do you think we will need those blimps to survey areas, as I suggested to the Minister yesterday?
-I know that Senator Mulvihill has displayed an interest in this matter. I would not be surprised if telemetrically equipped balloons, if that is what he is referring to, are of significance. I would not be surprised if the Bill we are discussing embraced that sort of activity. It is important that we as a Government look ahead to that sort of possibility. I appreciate Senator Mulvihill ‘s comment because I know that on the Senate Standing Committee on Science and the Environment he and I have exercised incredible interest, a community interest, in these matters.
– We could put it this way: Men who think of things that never were, and ask why not.
-That is an interesting point. Senator Mulvihill raises a very significant point. It is very important that we as a Parliament and a Senate recognise the significance of what he said. The Bill presents no great problems, as far as the Government or the Opposition is concerned. I commend the Government for introducing the Bill, which will promote further goodwill in the international aviation sphere.
-Mr Deputy President, as my colleague Senator Keeffe has said, the Opposition does not oppose the Air Navigation Amendment Bill. The purpose of the Bill is to give legislative approval to an increase in the membership of the council of the International Civil Aviation Organisation from 30 to 33. An amendment to the Air Navigation Act 1920, which is the subject of this legislation, approved the ratification of the Chicago Convention on International Civil Aviation of 1944. One of the important parts of that Convention is the aim to foster the planning and development of international air transport, which of course is a very important part of world development. As developments in aviation and other techniques expand, naturally the world becomes smaller and smaller.
I take advantage of this Bill to raise one or two aspects of civil aviation so far as it affects the State that I represent in this Parliament, the State of New South Wales. I base my remarks on the element of tourism as it is related to Australia and to New South Wales in particular. It has been an aim and objective of Australia to encourage more people to visit Australia, to come to Australia as tourists, and also to encourage Australians before they go abroad to have a look at their own country and to become appreciative of the fineries, beauties and wonders of this great nation. I wish to refer particularly to two airports, one which runs across the border of New South Wales and Queensland, namely Coolangatta Airport in the north of New South Wales, and Cooma Airport in the south. Coolangatta Airport services the beautiful Tweed Valley of New South Wales and the Gold Coast of Queensland, one of the meccas for tourists in Australia. In the far south of New South Wales, in the other climatic extreme, Cooma Airport serves the tourist industry of the winter -
– The alpine district.
– It serves the alpine district of Australia. Mr Deputy President, there are very important aspects of the legislation because, as you will see, the organisation which is the subject of this legislation has functions which cover developments in the growth of international civil aviation, aircraft design, airfields, navigation, needs for air transport economy and safety, and all of those matters that are the subject of that particular aspect of this legislation are encompassed within the brief remarks that I intend to make. I take the opportunity to draw the Senate’s attention to the sorry state of affairs which now prevails and which, I may add, has prevailed for some time at the two regional airports that I have mentionedthe airport at Coolangatta on the border between New South Wales and Queensland and the airport at Cooma in the far south of New South Wales.
Last February I asked a question relating to the poor state of passenger facilities at Coolangatta Airport and from the reply that was furnished to me at the time by the Minister for Education (Senator Carrick), who represents the Minister for Transport (Mr Nixon), I discovered that no moneys had been planned for expenditure on capital improvements to Coolangatta Airport during last financial year. At that time I expressed my concern about the inadequate passenger facilities existing at that airport. I described them as being hopelessly inadequate -so much so that they amounted to what I regarded as a national disgrace when we are supposed to be encouraging tourists and tourist facilities in this country. At this very time the Parliament has a select committee inquiring into tourist facilities in Australia. Might I say that at that time I thought I chose my words rather carefully. Now I have occasion to reiterate that description of the passenger facilities at Coolangatta Airport.
I say again that Coolangatta Airport is a national disgrace and, what is more, an international disgrace. It serves the Tweed Heads district of New South Wales and the Gold Coast area of Queensland. At peak periods it presents an impossible situation. Coolangatta Airport, as we know, constitutes the point of entry to what amounts to Australia’s main international tourist resort- the Gold Coast. The impression that visitors to this country gain on arriving at that airport continues to remain a barrier to that portion of Australia achieving its deserved potential as a tourist resort of great international standing. After studying the Budget for this financial year I now see that that airport has again failed to receive capital funds for airport development. That means that for yet another year the Gold Coast will have to overcome the adverse impression that the airport itself presents to first-time visitors to this country going to that area and to first-time visitors to the Gold Coast from Australia itself. The daily average of embarkations and disembarkations during 1975-76, which is the year for which the latest figures are available, was 862 persons.
– Is that at Coolangatta?
-That is for Coolangatta.
– That is where the Treasurer has his penthouse.
– I was about to come to that. That area comes within the McPherson electorate and is represented by the Minister representing the Treasurer and Minister for Post and Telecommunications (Mr Eric Robinson). The other side of the border- the New South Wales side of the border- which also is served by that area is represented by the Deputy Prime Minister and Leader of the National Country Party of Australia (Mr Anthony). The daily average of embarkations and disembarkations at that airport 2 years ago was 862 persons. They are the latest figures available, although I have no doubt that with a continuation of recent trends when those figures are brought up to date they will show an absolute increase in the number of passenger movements registered at that airport. However, I suggest that to quote daily average figures for embarkations and disembarkations would be somewhat misleading because the Gold Coast is subject to seasonal highs and lows with its tourist industry. Accordingly passenger movements at the Coolangatta Airport are subject to similar highs and lows. As the Minister for Education would realise during the school holidays in May, August and December the influx of tourists to that area is considerable and therefore the demands on the airport facilities are considerably in excess of the normal demands. During the summer months there is a fourfold increase in the volume of air traffic that utilises Coolangatta Airport. The average figure for air traffic movements is nine aircraft a day, but during the peak Christmas period and other school holidays the traffic movements increases to over 30 aircraft each day. That is a considerable increase in amount of usage.
– Mostly large aircraft.
-Yes, large aircraft. There is a considerable increase in the average number of traffic movements per day- from an average of nine aircraft during non-peak periods to 30 aircraft during peak periods. As I have said, the passenger facilities are grossly unsatisfactory when traffic is being serviced at the rate of nine aircraft each day. There is no need for me to describe to those who have been there the chaotic situation which exists at Coolangatta Airport when school holidays are under way. One can imagine the number of people who are arriving, the number of people who are departing, the number of people who are there to meet the people arriving and the number of people who are there to say farewell to the people departing. With that sort of congestion at the terminal and with the type of humidity that occurs during the summer months the situation there is chaotic. How the people who work at the terminal continue to work in the way in which they work is beyond my comprehension. Having said that insofar as Coolangatta Airport is concerned, I turn to the situation at Cooma Airport.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator DrakeBrockman) Unless I have misread this Bill, I think that you are stretching the debate a bit far, Senator Douglas McClelland.
– I respect your observation, Mr Deputy President, but with great respect -
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- I have not stopped you. I have just made the observation that you are stretching the debate a bit far.
– I know that you are suggesting that I am stretching it, Mr Deputy President, but if you look at the convention that is involved you will see that it relates to airport facilities, airport regulations, air standards and air safety. The matters that I am discussing relate to airport facilities, air standards and air safety and are all the subject of international arrangements to which this nation is a party. If we are to encourage international traffic to this country we have to look at the matters to which I have been alluding this evening. So far as Cooma Airport is concerned, I have found a similar situation prevailing. The passenger facilities are generally appalling. The situation deteriorates drastically during the winter months when the ski season is underway. During the last financial year the Commonwealth funded capital works at Cooma Airport to the extent of a paltry $1,788. For this financial year the airport at Cooma submitted an improvements project involving the expenditure of some $8,000 of which the Commonwealth’s contribution would have amounted to $4,000 but this proposal was rejected by the Commonwealth Department of Transport.
I am concerned about the situations at Coolangatta and Cooma airports. As Senator Keeffe has reminded me, the Coolangatta Airport is the airport that services the electorates of the Minister for Post and Telecommunications and the Deputy Prime Minister. I am alarmed that in that situation the claims for assistance by airport authorities have not been given due consideration. I have taken advantage of the debate on this legislation to raise these matters in the interests of the people whom I represent in this Parliament- the people in the far north of New South Wales who are served by the airport at Coolangatta. I believe that this Government can do much more and should do much more now and in the future than it has done in the past to provide better facilities for those who use the tourist industries of this country and thereby encourage the development of the international tourist industry and the aircraft industry in Australia.
-The International Civil Aviation
Organisation has been in existence for approximately 30 years and Australia, which owes so much to aviation both internally and externally for its transport needs, has been a very valued member of that Organisation for that time. We have gained tremendous experience because of our very reliance on aviation and have thus played a very determined part in the development of ICAO. We have been a member of its Council for many years. Australia is held in very high esteem by ICAO and in the international sphere. We are recognised as being among the leaders in technology. We have played our part and are continuing to play our part in that respect. The very simple T-bar system- the T visual approach slope indication system, as it is known- which is quite simple in operation and which has been accepted world-wide was developed in Australia. One can see it at either end of every main runway at the major airports at which one lands. It is a simple and extremely safe system which assists the pilots in adjusting the descent of aircraft as they come into land.
Australia is making a major contribution with the development of InterScan. At present this system is receiving worldwide recognition. ICAO is looking at the system as a further development in assisting landing aids. At present the instrument landing system provides a single fixed path for aircraft approaches and landings, whereas InterScan has the capability of providing a number of approach paths. As a result, this increases the density of traffic which an airport is able to handle. It also means that by using this system noise abatement procedures can be carried out more easily and with less danger for approaching and landing aircraft. This system has been developed in Australia by the Department of Transport and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation. It has the backing of the United States of America. It has been accepted by the ICAO all weather operations panel after competing against the Doppler system as invented by Great Britain and the Federal Republic of Germany.
I must make one other comment about ICAO and navigational aids. At present the organisation is developing standards for the use of Omega by aircraft. We have heard on both sides of the chamber the great part that ICAO plays in all facets of aviation, not the least of which is navigation. We now know that ICAO, without one dissenting voice, has accepted Omega as the very valuable navigational aid that it is. It will give worldwide navigational coverage. It is a worldwide navigational aid that is available to all countries and to all people. The last transmitter, which will be built in Australia, will be the eighth one. When it is completed there will be worldwide navigational coverage by Omega, this great navigational facility. The ICAO attitude is in direct contrast to the bleeding hearts cries that we hear from many sections of the Australian community about this facility. I commend the Bill to the Senate.
-The Opposition does not oppose the Bill as it believes it is sensible and worth while. I will add some remarks to those that were made by Senator Douglas McClelland earlier concerning the facilities at the Coolangatta Airport. Along with Senator Douglas McClelland and Senator Mulvihill, I share some of the electoral responsibilities for the Richmond electorate and the Cowper electorate. It is a great timesaver to be able to fly direct to Coolangatta and then to be able to motor into parts of those electorates or to be able to use smaller planes to reach some of the towns where meetings are held. Usually we are on the last flight out of Collangatta on a Sunday night after a meeting of our electorate council is held in the area. I certainly agree with the remarks that Senator Douglas McClelland made. If I was an international visitor and had to use the facilities of the Coolangatta Airport I would be disgusted. They are archaic and worse than some of the facilities at smaller country towns in New South Wales. Yet the airport leads to one of the major tourist resorts in this country.
Senator Collard mentioned the Omega system to be used by civil aviation in this country. I do not know whether he is aware that the current attitude of the Australian Labor Party, following its conference in Perth, is to support the installation of the Omega system as long as it is built and manned by Australians. I cannot see that Senator Collard would be too worried about that. We have always played, as Senator Collard said, an active and important role in the operations of the International Civil Aviation Organisation. Currently Australia is represented on its Council. We have been represented on that Council for some time. It stands to Australia’s credit that, given the fact that there are 140 member states, Australia is obviously highly regarded by virtue of the fact that we are continually re-elected to membership of the Governing Council. This probably stems from our unmatched record in international and domestic aviation operations- unmatched in terms of safety, reliability and service as was mentioned earlier by Senator Keeffe. Qantas Airways Limited is regarded as a world leader in this respect. I think on the last set of figures I saw
Qantas was the second safest international airline in the world. When all airlines were considered Trans-Australia Airlines and Ansett Airlines of Australia were also in the top ten.
It is somewhat disappointing that the Air Navigation Amendment Bill that is before the Parliament at the moment has taken virtually three years to arrive. The protocol adopted at the Montreal conference will not come into force until the 86 member nations of ICAO have ratified it. As at 1 July 1977 only 52 member nations had ratified the protocol involved. We believe therefore it is important that Australia act also to ratify the protocol that was adopted in Montreal. ICAO also directs its energies to meeting the needs of the world community for safe, reliable, efficient and economic air transport, to prevent waste caused by unnecessary competition and over competition, which is something I want to come back to later, and to ensuring that the rights of member states are fully respected and that they all have an equal opportunity to operate international airlines.
As a member of the Senate Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence that is looking at some of the problems in the South Pacific at the moment- Senator Scott who is in the chamber is a member of that Committee- I have seen some of the problems that are caused by nations being given equal opportunity to operate their own international airlines. That is probably one area of the world, while I am not trying to say the countries there do not have the right to operate their international airlines, where a regional airline would certainly be much more efficient and would serve the needs of those countries much better than the system which is operating at the moment. To this end ICAO seeks to avoid discrimination between member states and to promote safety of flight in international air operations. It also endeavours to promote, in a general sense, the development of civil aeronautics right across the spectrum.
The world conference which was held in April 1977 was the first one of the Organisation since its inception in 1947. The conference was concerned with major issues of relevance to international air travel particularly the development of non-scheduled air services and charter nights. The issue of charter flights is being canvassed in the Australian air industry and in the general community in this country at the moment. Currently the Minister for Transport (Mr Nixon) has indicated that a review is under way of Australian domestic air transport services. Unfortunately I think it should be noted that the review is not being held publicly. As previous speakers have said, few countries depend as much on their aviation industry as does Australia. This is firstly because of our isolation from other parts of the world, especially from the developed world of western Europe, Japan and North America, and domestically, because of the huge distances that Australians have to travel between major cities and provincial centres and towns.
I will deal briefly with the issue of charter flights. I am certainly not opposed to charter flights. Anything that enables more people to travel cheaply, I would support. I think that the Government has to look at the long term aspect of charter operations and also look at strict regulations as far as charter organisations are concerned. I think it has been shown in other parts of the world that charter operators will withdraw without warning if everything is not what they expect. They will cut their losses, I believe this will be to the detriment of our national carrier, Qantas.
Qantas does have certain difficulties inasfar as the number of outlets of the airline are concerned. It was recently pointed out that Qantas, on an administrative basis, has to operate from Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth and in some instances from Darwin whereas a huge airline like Lufthansa German Airlines has to operate on an administrative basis only out of one major centre which is Frankfurt. Qantas can also be contrasted with KLM Royal Dutch Airlines which operates out of Amsterdam only. A number of factors count against Qantas. I refer to the distance to its first stop where it can pick up more paying passengers and to the cost of its safety. I think Qantas has shown in the past that it has not been prepared to cut costs on maintenance. These are the sorts of things that worry me in relation to charter operators. As I said, I am certainly not opposed to the charter operators, but if they come in the Government ought to be looking at the long term aspects and also at very strict regulations for them.
Aviation in this country has been regarded not so much as something for just a few, but as a service that all Australians would use at some time or other. For this reason, it is important that any review of the air services operating in this country or to Australia from overseas should be such that the public at large is involved. I believe there should be an opportunity for the community generally to express its view on all aspects of air travel. Therefore an inquiry into the civil aviation industry in Australia should make time available for the people to be able to submit in detail what kinds of services they require and the quality of the services involved.
They ought to be able to talk about the price of air travel and the types of services best designed to meet the needs of Australia’s air commuters, which really covers the Australian community generally.
It might come out of course that we will have to subsidise our airlines much more than we do at the moment. Recently somebody sent me a set of figures showing the cost involved in flying between the West Coast and the East Coast of the United States compared with the cost involved in flying between Sydney and Perth. It was very expensive to fly in Australia as compared with the United States. This is the sort of thing which ought to come out of an inquiry and on which the Government ought to have a policy. Really, after all it is the commuter who is most important in the development of any government policy with respect to the civil aviation industry. I believe that perhaps consumer councils should be set up to enable the air travelling public to put their view to the Government so that the Government will be aware of what services are required and what the public would be able to pay. It would therefore be able to establish a better service for all commuters- not only those who use Qantas but also those who use Trans-Australia Airlines and Anset Airlines of Australia.
– in reply- I am grateful to all honourable senators who have participated in this debate on the Air Navigation Amendment Bill 1977. It is clear and satisfying that the Bill itself, simple in its content, has the full support of the Senate and of the Parliament. As honourable senators have pointed out, it is a Bill which aims to increase the membership of the Council of the International Civil Aviation Organisation from 30 to 33. That, I think, is desirable in view of the fact that the number of participating States is now 1 40.
Individual senators took the opportunity to comment in general upon international and national civil aviation and invited me, as the Minister representing the Minister for Transport in this place, to respond to a number of questions. With your indulgence, Mr Deputy President, I shall do so very briefly. Senator Keeffe asked about Australia’s contribution to ICAO. My advice is that Australia’s allocation of $US240,000 is based on a three-year budget estimated in 1974 at the 21st session of the assembly of ICAO. The actual expenditure of ICAO for 1976 was less than expected. This factor, together with currency changes, explains why Australia’s actual payment was less than budgeted for. Senator Keeffe asked a more general question as to the effect cut price flights might have upon the quality of aviation.
– And safety.
-And safety, which I acknowledge is an important question. If the question is directed in the first place towards the quality of the service- this is one of the aspects of the Laker-type proposals- I advise Senator Keeffe that this aspect will be subject to examination by the Department. If on the other hand, as I understand it, his question is directed towards safety, which would be the priority aspect, the Department will impose the normal airworthiness requirements for any new airline or aircraft. Those requirements would be rigidly enforced. The honourable senator would know that Australia is proud of the fact that its regulations are the strictest in the world. I am advised that that will continue. The honourable senator also referred to cutbacks in subsidies to Connair Pty Ltd. My advice is that there have been no cutbacks in subsidies to Connair. As all honourable senators would know, Connair has encountered some industrial and economic problems which required investigation by the Department. My understanding is that that investigation is continuing. I think all of us acknowledge Connair ‘s magnificent effort.
– So there will be no cutbacks in services.
-That is my understanding, but in case there is any doubt on that, I will direct the honourable senator’s question to the Minister concerned. Senator Douglas McClelland referred to the general facilities available at two of our airports- Coolangatta, which services the New South WalesQueensland border area, and Cooma which services the snowfields. I think all honourable senators would know that in peak periods such as holiday periods, the demand for services is extremely high whereas in other periods demand is low. I am advised that one of the very real problems that confront the experts is to try to relate this problem in its two peaks. The economic costs of airport facilities and the problems relating to peak and low periods at international airports are being examined by most of the member states of ICAO. ICAO has commenced an investigation into the most efficient use of airports. Australia is participating in the ICAO committee charged with trying to seek a universal solution. I think it is refreshing to hear that two Ministers are so frugal and so sparing with taxpayers’ funds that, given the opportunity to spend money in their electorates, they have been prudent. Since the two airports are important, I will direct the attention of the Government and the appropriate Ministers to this matter to see whether anything can be done.
Senator Collard quite appropriately drew attention to the leadership of Australia in technological developments towards air safety. I think he very properly highlighted the main achievements in that regard. The latest achievement could have world-wide implications. I was particularly delighted to hear Senator Sibraa reiterate what I already knew, that is, that the Labor Party has accepted Omega for what it is- a very significant advance in navigation for peacetime purposes in the air and at sea. I suggest to Senator Sibraa that he should direct his attention to a very good document, namely, the report of the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence on the Omega facility. He will find that all such matters are discussed there. I think that has covered the basic questions asked by honourable senators. I commend the Bill to the Senate.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Debate resumed from 25 August on motion by Senator Durack:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– The purpose of this Bill is to provide for the continuation of the Australian Government contribution to the wool industry for programs of wool research and promotion. In addition, it is proposed that the Australian Wool Corporation be given more power in the negotiation of freight rates for the carriage overseas of wool. The Government has decided to accept the recommendation of the Industries Assistance Commission that about 60 per cent of the programs of wool research undertaken by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation and the Bureau of Agricultural Economics, which had been funded from the Wool Research Trust Fund, be funded in future from Consolidated Revenue. The Opposition believes that to be a quite important decision and a justifiable one.
Some of the research, which of course was commenced during the period of the previous Government, deals with such matters as core testing and certain aspects of wool processing and is of considerable importance in the wool and general textile industries. Previously the wool industry and the Government had been bearing the total costs of this research. At a time of increasing cost pressures in the wool growing industry, we believe it is only proper that Consolidated Revenue should bear some of the expenses. Because of the extremely competitive nature of the textile industry, it is absolutely vital that effective technical and marketing research should continue. We are all aware that the synthetics industry has some very large resources behind it, and in times of slack demand it is very often the case that the synthetics people are able to undercut wool on the world markets. The establishment and strengthening of the research divisions of the International Wool Secretariat have been of considerable help to the industry, despite the fact that there have been some contentious thoughts on the role of the Secretariat. However, it must be said that over the years the Secretariat has given considerable help to the industry in the work it has done.
The Government’s decision to review the funding of wool research and promotion on an annual rather than a triennial basis is also supported by the Opposition. Fluctuations in demand for textiles and the ever-changing patterns in consumer demand and consumer preference for different types of materials frequently mean that there must be quite short term changes in research projects. It will be recalled that some four years ago there was a quite sudden shift in consumer demand for knitted garments, and that is an example of the sort of change which can take place quite rapidly. Unless government bodies are able to review and, if necessary, alter expenditure commitments quickly, an industry can suffer some short term and indeed long term disadvantages. The wool industry remains a very important contributor to our export earnings and it is necessary that we maintain those markets. In order to maintain them we must keep abreast of the latest developments in both research and promotion. The decision by the previous Government to introduce the fixed floor price scheme for the wool industry was of very great assistance to the industry at that time. I suppose the most significant aspect of the scheme now is that it has become built into the wool industry. It is very difficult to imagine any government in the future dispensing with that scheme, even though eventually it may be replaced by a more sophisticated scheme of wool marketing. Nevertheless, as leaders of major primary producer organisations such as the Australian Wool and Meat
Producers Federation and the Australian Woolgrowers and Graziers Council have recognised, with the current uncertainty in the market, if the floor price had not been introduced and maintained by the present Government, there would have been much greater uncertainty for the wool producer.
The decision by the Government to grant the Australian Wool Corporation power to negotiate freight rates, which is the other major part of the Bill and to which I will now direct my remarks, is a very significant move. Until now there has been no clearly defined power available to the Corporation and, as a member of the wool commodity group negotiating with the AustraliaEurope Conference as well as other conferences, its position has been somewhat unclear. Under this legislation the Corporation will be the substantial owner of wool in its own right, and the amount of wool owned and available for sale by the Corporation will increase. We know that costs are increasing very significantly for all sections of the industry, and by giving the Corporation this power we hope it will be possible to reduce those costs. A reduction in the number of buyers, of course, has weakened the position in relation to the shipping conferences. In addition, the introduction of new wool handling methods has shifted the emphasis away from the ocean sector to a total transport handling concept. Thus it is necessary, and we believe desirable, that some single organisation should have a coordinating influence over the shipment of wool from the moment it is shorn to the time it reaches the processor, and the Australian Wool Corporation is the body best able to do that.
It is clear from comments that have been made to me that a number of conferences, and in particular the Australia-Europe Conference, are endeavouring to co-operate with the Corporation in an attempt to improve the method of wool handling and reduce the overall cost. Of course, those conferences deal with only a comparatively small part of the total transport cost. The internal costs of shipping wool are very high and add greatly to the overall distribution cost. Unfortunately, the increased power granted to the Corporation will not entirely overcome the problems in this area. We know that there are significant cost components associated with the railway system and with the wool brokers, and it is important that all those sections combine and co-operate with the Wool Corporation to ensure that costs are minimised as much as possible. It is interesting to consider that in the wool industry, which has traditionally been a major part of what might be termed the free enterprise system, this Government is prepared to recognise that a central authority such as the Australian Wool Corporation should in fact be given additional powers to ensure that the producer, the community at large, and particularly our export earners, are given every possible advantage. It is a great pity that the Government has not seen fit to adopt that philosophy in a number of other areas.
The Bill contains important implications for other agricultural products such as meat and dairy products which we export from Australia, and it could be that the total bill paid in the end by primary producer exporters will be higher and could offset the net savings made by the Wool Corporation. As many primary producers operate multi-enterprise properties, that is an important consideration. But the Opposition does not believe that that effect should come about. If there is a realisation by everybody involved in the industry that this legislation is a step forward, there ought not to be any detrimental spin-off effects to other areas of primary industry. I express some small concern that in the second reading speech of Senator Durack, then Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, he implied that there might be some changes in the present method of shipping wool. I hope that during the course of the Minister’s reply he will be able to clarify the last paragraph in his second reading speech.
The only other matter to which I feel I should draw attention is the manner in which the proposed amendments in relation to the Corporation fit in with the concepts underlying Part 10 of the Trade Practices Act. That Part of the Act, of course, deals with shipping conferences, the Australian Shippers Council and so on. Whilst I recognise that that Part of the Act has been the subject of some court interpretation, there seems to be a general review of the provisions that enforce the use of shipping conferences by Australian exporters. Perhaps at the end of this debate the Minister could comment on how this legislation might impinge on Part 10 of the Trade Practices Act.
I do not think it is necessary for us to dwell at any length on the Bill. It is important, though, that the wool industry should see as clearly as possible what the Government’s intentions are across the whole range of primary production. Given that there might be one or two small areas of doubt in respect of this legislation- I say that not in a critical sense, but rather in the sense of seeking clarification- it is important that the Government should make its intentions known to the wool industry with the same clarity as it has made known its intentions in respect to other industries, because we are fully aware that there is very great uncertainty especially in the beef industry and to a lesser extent in the dairy industry. In fact, there is great uncertainty across the whole of the rural sector at the present time. This is not all the fault of the Government, certainly; nevertheless I have no doubt that the rural people expected a much better deal from this Government than in fact they have been getting. If we are to see a mini-Budget come forward on behalf of the rural sector in the near future, I hope that it is not a facade or a public relations act but is a genuine move by the Government in recognition of the problems that primary producers are facing in this country at the present time. The Opposition supports the Bill.
– I rise briefly to support the Wool Industry Amendment Bill (No. 2) 1977. It has been expounded to the Senate quite clearly by Senator Wriedt tonight and there is no need for me to go over all the details. I am glad, as I am sure all of us on this side of the chamber are, that the Opposition finds no problem with the legislation and gives it its full support. But this is an opportunityand it should be taken- to say just a few words about the wool industry in the Australian primary producing context, because the wool industry is probably the most legendary of all the industries in rural Australia. It was virtually the first primary industry established in this country. It is an industry in which Australia produces the most and the best of the particular product in the world. That being the case, quite clearly it is an industry that is basic to the stability and the balance of the whole of the rural scene. If one looks back across the decades of primary production in this country one is constantly reminded of the fact that when problems became apparent and severe in the wool industry, as they have from time to time for various reasons, they were followed almost always by significant and sometimes great problems in any number of other industries in the rural sector. Because of the industry’s pre-eminence and because of Australia’s capacity to produce the most and the best of the product in the world, it is fundamental to the balance of primary industry and the rural sector as a whole in the Australian scene. Consequently any legislation which relates to the wool industry in this country has to be important.
The purpose of this Bill is, of course, to amend the Wool Industry Act 1972. As Senator Wriedt has explained, this Bill has a twofold objective: It seeks to continue- indeed it increases- the Government contribution to wool promotion and research. It also seeks to enable the Australian Wool Corporation to act more effectively in the negotiation of freight rates for the carriage of wool overseas. It seeks to give the Australian Wool Corporation the powers that are to be powers of the Australian Meat and Livestock Corporation in respect of freighting its product. I believe that in promotion and research it is significant to note that, after many years of conjecture and a real measure of scepticism as to whether quite massive sums of money should be spent and could be effectively spent in the areas of promotion and research, it now has been virtually universally accepted that promotion and research are absolutely basic to the Australian wool industry. In that context it is important that the Government recognises this, as indeed it does, and that it continues and increases its support in those areas. There was a time when these things were regarded as non-essential but the recommendations of the Industries Assistance Commission have substantiated the views that have been propounded for some 10 or 20 years that research and promotion were paying objectives in the wool industry.
In the first place, the Australian Wool Corporation and the industry in general have taken the view that wool should be promoted as a sort of super fibre. There were a considerable number of years when that too was doubted. They have established it as a supreme fibre in the textile field. Having done that, very correctly I believe, the tendency now is to use it as a blend with certain synthetic fibres, provided that the ratio is correct and that standards are maintained. Consequently there are being opened up to wool markets that previously were not available and previously were the province of synthetics. It is interesting to note that synthetics as textile fibres, man-made fibres, made tremendous inroads into the wool industry in the 1950s and the 1960s, but synthetics now, as a petro-chemical product and because of the expense of the raw material involved in their production, are finding many of the problems that formerly had been typical of the problems relating to wool as a fibre.
I choose to say very little on the matter of freight, except that it is important that the Government recognise that the Wool Corporation should have maximum powers in establishing control over the freighting arrangements for wool because there are few areas in which real cost savings can be made in the wool industry, or in fact in almost any primary industry. One of them certainly relates to freight, and it is in this area that this legislation hopefully will provide a significant improvement.
Senator Wriedt mentioned the change in the funding to the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, and the adoption of the IAC recommendation that 60 per cent of the funds for continuing wool research, which is now supported by the CSIRO and the Bureau of Agricultural Economics from the Wool Research Trust Fund, should be funded from Consolidated Revenue. There is a very good reason for that to be the case. The advantages of research and, indeed, of promotion are not confined to the producers of wool but extend over a range of industries- the textile industry, the retail industry and a number of other industries which are involved and which benefit from anything which tends to improve the capacity of the wool industry in this country. The amount that this Government provides for wool research and promotion in this Budget is $3 1.4m, which is an increase of $10m. Therefore, it is a significant contribution. In spite of the fact that appropriations will be made annually in future, closest consultation will be maintained between the various bodies controlling the wool industry, the textile industry, the Minister and the Australian Wool Industry Conference.
In recent years the wool industry- through the Australian Wool Corporation- has been a real innovator. It is high time that this was the situation. Many of the problems facing the industry stem from the fact that over many years there was a measure of inertia in the wool industry. Things were allowed to go along as they had always gone. In the last 30 or 40 years we have seen several peaks and troughs in the price of wool and consequently in the industry itself. It is now recognised that there is one significant way in which we can contribute to ironing out those peaks and troughs. It relates to the stabilising of the market. It relates to the very essence of the Australian Wool Corporation which, incidentally, had its beginnings in the 1970 production of the Australian Wool Commission. This was the beginning. This was the first element of a reserve price in the market place. It was the prelude to the Australian Wool Corporation itself which provided a strong buying force, and a strong reserve in the traditional auction system. That has proved to be and is proving to be the salvation of this industry and of all other industries that are to a large degree dependent on it.
I believe it is important to recognise in any discussion of the wool industry the degree to which it has traditionally stood on its own feet- the degree to which initiative and individualism have been typical of it. I remind the Senate that this industry has sought and has received little aid.
Today, with its levy of 8 per cent of the gross value of wool, it provides the sum of $95m towards its own salvation and stability and towards the salvation and stability of all those industries and people dependent on it. This industry, as I said earlier, is a basic industry to the balance of rural Australia. It is moving towards a stronger position. This Government has promoted that movement. It has seen fit to advance the average base price of wool by WA per cent- the full value of the original devaluation. It increased the price from 250c to 284c and it nominated a price which will exist not only in the 6 months of the current year but also will continue in the financial year we have just begun. It has also contributed significantly to the stability, strength and confidence of the producing, buying and manufacturing side of the industry. I have pleasure in supporting the Bill.
– The Opposition, of course, already has expressed its view on this matter through the contribution to the debate made by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Wriedt). He drew attention to the fact that we support the legislation but want to make some comments about what we believe to be some of the deficiences that still exist in the wool industry so far as the Government assistance is concerned. I do not think that anyone would disagree that wool has played perhaps the most significant part in the development of not only agriculture but also of the national economy. As Senator Scott said, it was the primary of primary industries and it provided very important income to Australia in its formative years. But like all matters relating to economics and changes in the world trade patterns, changes in demand and changes in habits, the wool industry is now subjected to new pressures. Consequently, it is essential that the Government appreciates this and provides the sort of assistance that is necessary to maintain the viability of the wool industry.
We see this legislation, however, as only a short step towards the essential stabilisation of the wool industry. Accordingly, of course, we agree with the proposals in the legislation to amend the Wool Industry Act so that the Government can continue to make its contribution to the funding of wool research and promotion. That is becoming even more and more important day by day as wool has to meet the competition from the textile industry. I think it has to be said that the wool industry in Australia, nevertheless, will be somewhat disappointed that the Government has not yet been able to formulate its approach or to accept the approach of the wool growing organisations. I refer particularly to the Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation which has been urging the Government to accept the principle that it should acquire the total clip for the purpose of levelling out the essential problems that have to be faced in the wool industry, to overcome the cost problems in the industry and to provide particularly for the continuity of supply which is so essential if wool is to be able to meet competition from the textile industry, particularly from overseas. Of course, since the establishment of the research division of the International Wool Secretariat, we have seen the value of that and we have seen the value of government assistance in that direction.
However, I think it has to be stressed that whilst the Australian Wool Corporation has played a very essential and vital role in helping to provide some stability to the industry, more needs to be done if we are to meet that competition. The buoyancy of the wool industry- I am sure that even honourable senators opposite will agree with me- is one of the bright spots in agriculture today and it is to be hoped that it remains one of the bright spots because if that is affected by any sudden upsurge in the textile industry or downturn in the international demand for wool then it would be a grievous blow indeed to the whole rural scene. While the wool industry has the capacity to stand on its own feet and has the capacity to call on the Government for assistance then that at least maintains some degree of viability in the agricultural scene. I think it has to be drawn to the attention of the Senate and to those who are interested in agriculture and its survival in the current economic difficulties that face not only this country but also all the countries in the Western world that the wool industry is in fact more than catering for its own needs. If honourable senators examine Budget Paper No. 1 and particularly pages 91, 92 and 93 of that Paper, they will see that the wool industry is contributing more to Consolidated Revenue than the Government is contributing to the industry’s financial arrangements and stability. An examination of the Budget Papers will show also that, in point of fact, whilst there has been an increase in wool marketing assistance in the amounts provided in the 1975-76 Budget and the 1976-77 Budget, in fact there has been a decrease of Government assistance amounting to $2.2m between the 1976-77 Budget allocation and the current Budget funding. When we look at the research, promotion and other expenditures of the wool industry, we see that there is a considerable payback to Consolidated Revenue by the wool industry. It may be argued that that is as it should be in a period of some prosperity in the wool industry. But that prosperity has come about I think principally because of the steps that were taken by Senator Wriedt, as the Minister for Agriculture in the Whitlam Administration, when he responded to the demands of that time. Perhaps it would be better to say that he responded to the needs of that time. He introduced the wool floor price scheme and set the minimum payment at 250c a kilo. Of course, that meant that a very big demand was made upon Government revenue. It amounted to some $400m and represented a very sizeable contribution to the industry. Certainly, it was one that met the need of that time. Subsequently, much of that money has come back to the present Government and into Consolidated Revenue. I think it has to be stressed that the industry itself is making a very sizeable contribution to its own future.
I wish to refer to the Budget Papers as they relate to total industry assistance in this country. I am referring now not only to the rural sector but to industry generally. I think it is worth while drawing the attention of honourable senators to the measure of assistance which was provided by the Labor Administration as shown on page 94 of the Budget documents. An amount of $350m was provided in the last Labor Budget for industry assistance generally. In the subsequent Budget of the Fraser-Anthony Administration, this amount dropped to $206m. Whilst it is true that overall the amount has increased to $243m in this year’s Budget- it increased by $36m from one Liberal-National Country Party Budget to the next- the amount still represents $107m less which is being paid out in the form of industry assistance in those two years in a period when the inflation rate has continued in double figures. I do not think that we ought to pat ourselves on the back too much and suggest that the Government is being magnificent and generous when in fact the Budget Papers show quite the reverse position. I am one of those who is not prepared to get on the bandwaggon and suggest that everything that is investigated and reported to government by the Industries Assistance Commission should be seen in a bad light. As has been pointed out in a recent circular by the Australian Woolgrowers’ and Graziers Council most of the recommendations that the Industries Assistance Commission has made in respect to the rural sector have been adopted by governments- both Labor governments and Liberal-National Country Party coalition governments. Consequently, an important role is being played by that organisation in carrying out the sort of objective investigation that is needed. While I concede that there are many errors of judgment and miscalculation by the Industries Assistance Commission, nevertheless it performs a very valuable role, as I think was conceded even by the Minister for Industry and Commerce (Senator Cotton) today during Question Time, in providing the Government with objective evaluations from time to time. I think it is about time that a little credit was given to the Labor Administration for the establishment of the floor price scheme for the wool industry. This sort of assistance has had the effect now of making a contribution towards the revenue collected by this government. I think that Senator Wriedt is correct in drawing attention to the need for freight rates, both internal and external, to be more closely examined by the Australian Wool Corporation and by the Government. Clearly, this is an area which militates against the industry’s cost structure. We can only hope, therefore, that a little more research will be carried on in this area.
We are living in a highly competitive world and costs need to be taken into consideration. As I said earlier, it is only a small step in the right direction. It is not one which should be accepted without a critical approach and, of course, we do not expect the Government to go all the way in bringing about the essential regeneration of the rural industry. I say this because the attitude in the beef industry shows that there is much to be desired. I heard Mr Sparkes, the President of the Queensland National Party, making some statements just recently. He was suggesting that this Government would be bringing in a mini Budget in respect to the beef industry which must be regarded now as being at the bottom ot the level of prosperity in the rural sector. I think that we were all disappointed to hear the Treasurer, Mr Lynch, go on record as saying that there is no way in which this Government will introduce a mini Budget for those sections of the rural sector which are not in the fortunate position of the wool industry. We have no hesitation in saying that the legislation should be supported and that the recommendations of the IAC as they apply to the promotion of the wool research trust fund should be adopted. We say that the Government should continue to be involved in the industry and go further than is provided for in this legislation.
-The Senate is debating the Wool Industry Amendment Bill (No. 2) 1977. Senator Wriedt, in speaking for the Opposition, acknowledged the acceptance by the Opposition of the proposals contained in the Bill. He also mentioned that the proposals had really commenced in the time of the previous government. That is something in turn which the present Government would be happy to acknowledge this evening. Equally, it might be one of those occasions when one would like to say that Senator Wriedt, as the previous Minister in charge of primary industry in the previous government, was a competent and dedicated Minister. I think we would all wish to acknowledge that he had a good reputation. He did work which in its way was pioneering. In the life that we live in the Senate, there is very little praise except for dead politicians. I thought that I might like to say something about him while he is still alive. The floor price scheme is very important. It was introduced m the time in which he was very active and very involved. He will have noted its continuation and, indeed, its expansion in certain areas relating to price by the present Government. The acceptance of the change to the Consolidated Revenue method referred to in the second reading speech was also referred to by Senator Wriedt. He also supports the annual funding basis rather than the triennium basis. I think his observation about the problem of competition with synthetics is very well taken. It is a difficult industry to compete with because of capacities in reserve which are not quite so easy to maintain in the wool industry. There is not quite the same time to come back and go away which synthetics have. It is a difficult problem. Senator Wriedt did not discuss what I call the market share problems. I know he is well aware of it but I should say that it is also one of the problems of the industry to maintain its share of the market and not let it diminish to a level at which it is really no longer a fibre in free demand and free use.
I think the question of participation in the freight rate negotiations referred to in the Bill is, of itself, very important. If one studies through time the growth in the Australian economic scene of that part of our total revenues consumed by invisible items, overseas freights, overseas insurance and that sort of thing one starts to realise how increasingly important this is becoming. Largely, the export industries are the industries that are really looked to to provide the resources to fund the heavy growth in invisibles, sea freight and associated items connected with the transport of goods from Australian ports for use in the destination countries. I think that is an area that will need a lot more attention. I am glad we are in a situation here where we can take a stronger position. I think this is well worth consideration across the general board of export marketing. It is an area that tends to be perhaps less controlled than one might like if one looks at the broad interest of one’s Australian countrymen. I also agree with Senator Wriedt ‘s observations about the internal transport and handling costs. I have long held the view that in the Australian scene one of the areas that calls for detailed study on cost expansion is internal transport and handling. A lot of attention is given to other areas. I do not think sufficient attention is given in the overall gross national product to that part of it which is consumed in the down side by transport handling, storage and those charges. They tend not to be looked at.
One of the things which I hope to do in the Bureau of Industry Economics of the Department of Industry and Commerce is to give some time and attention to those sorts of problems in the study of material handling and material cost. Senator Wriedt referred to the last paragraph of the second reading speech and to the Trade Practices Act. Before I pass on to that aspect, I think he is correct as well in the assessment he made of the need to co-ordinate the land leg as well as the sea leg, the sort of things which I adverted to myself I do not know whether the figures are accurate. At one stage, when I was involved in this industry more than I am today, I had some figures which stated that from the time a bale of wool left the shearing shed floor to the time it was taken into the warehouse of the overseas buyer, it could be handled and re-handled 17 or 19 times. I do not know whether that is a fact but I think this is one of the things to which we could very well devote more examination.
– That happens in most cases, Senator.
-I cannot be precise about most things but it is one thing about which I found out a bit more. Senator Wriedt mentioned the land freight cost, which I also mentioned, the problem of packaging costs as well as the selling procedures and the general fractions that go with the total value of the article with regard to cost make-up. For instance, what is the basic return to the owner; what is the wage component of the owner’s departure point to the point of the buyer; what is the transport cost; what are the government charges; what are the handling charges; what are the packaging charges; what are the insurance charges and what are the freight charges? There is a lot to be learnt here. Senator Wriedt referred to the last paragraph of the second reading speech. I am informed that there was no intention of any detailed surveillance of individual contacts. The proposal is to intervene gradually in the shipping scene to lead by example of commercial economics where it is possible to do so. I think this is possibly the best approach as long as we know the factual position quite accurately. If we do not know it now we should seek to find out. The Government will provide the Australian Wool Corporation with some guidelines. The basic objective is to ensure that any agreed wool freight rate should not discriminate against freight rates for other shippers but, equally, should not be discriminated against.
The Corporation already has the power under the Act to participate in negotiations in respect of freight rates. This is referred to in section 38. The amendment, if accepted, will ensure that its arguments are tested and given due weight by those who receive and listen to them. With regard to the clause dealing with section 10 of the Trade Practices Act, I am informed that the provision in the Bill is in general and broad terms. As such it does not impinge upon the Trade Practices Act regarding shipping conferences. Care will be taken that in actual practice all arrangements made are in accordance with the Trade Practice Act. There is provision for ministerial approval and guidelines to the Corporation will be a safeguard in this respect.
I think all honourable senators might look here at the general position of the industry, as observed by Senator Gietzelt. It is a very great industry, probably the first industry in Australia. One might observe also that it is out of the great primary and mining industries in Australia that manufacturing grew. It is equally competent to observe that half of the product of the great primary industry of Australia today is taken by manufacturing. It is equally true to look at the change in the employment capacity of primary industry in Australia. I think primary industry used to employ perhaps 18 per cent to 20 per cent of the work force. It now employs about 6 per cent of the work force whereas manufacturing employs 22 per cent. It is sought to add value to the great primary products and mining products as far as possible to retain their value in this country prior to export. That, of course, is very much wrapped up in general costs to make and sell across the scene, inflation rates and exchange rates, which I think all honourable senators know well.
Acquisition is another matter which was referred to by Senator Gietzelt. It is outside the scope of this Bill and in the time of the previous Government no decision was taken on that matter either. This Government not only has maintained the floor price; it has also increased it. The Government has assured the industry that the floor price will be maintained. It is a very great industry. Many of us have seen it from the time we were children and have been involved in it in one way or another from that time. I think we are all admirers of the people who are involved in it, whether they are growers or right through the system to the shearers and all those people. They are a good group of people to work with. They are a very honest and straightforward bunch and I always enjoyed my association with them. I have seen the industry in its good times and bad times. I have seen it in extremely good times and sometimes in times of great distress and disaster. It has always come back and hung on. It has always improved. It is really a good industry. In concluding my remarks on this Bill I would like to pay tribute to previous Ministers, to current Ministers and to the industry itself.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Debate resumed from 25 August, on motion by Senator Cotton:
That the Senate take note of the papers.
Upon which Senator Wriedt had moved by way of amendment:
At the end of motion add ‘, but the Senate is of the opinion that the Budget:
a ) will intensify and prolong the recession;
will increase unemployment;
will have little impact on inflation;
will make regressive changes in the tax system; and
will reduce living standards’.
– This is my third attempt to speak on this Budget. I think I have seven or eight minutes remaining to me. There is very little I am permitted to say in that time. The longer one looks at the Budget Papers, the more one can see the disadvantage to the section that I have been championing during this debate. I refer to the Aboriginals. I was very tolerant with Mr Viner. I have always had the impression that he is a good Minister and has been trying to do his best for the Aboriginals. I recognise that he is up against difficulties with his Government, which has restricted all expenditure, including expenditure on welfare to sections of the community in relation to whom there should never have been a restriction.
From an examination of the Budget Papers, I find now that the Department of Aboriginal Affairs is very deceitful in its allocations and its explanation of the allocations. The last time I spoke, last Thursday week, I spoke on the allocation for housing to the most efficient construction authorities that we have utilised through the Department of Aboriginal Affairs, namely, the State housing commissions. They were recommended in the Hay report as the most suitable authorities. It was recommended that they should be financed further. On that occasion I pointed out how the restrictions in respect of those organisations are such that today they cannot do what they could do previously and how in South Australia it is possible to erect only some 47 homes under the Government allocation this year, whereas in the metropolitan district of Adelaide there are more than 520 applicant Aboriginal families for homes.
I am told that in Ceduna- this will show the anomalies of the allocation- there was an arrangement that as a condition of the contract for erecting houses the builder would employ nine young Aboriginals and train them for a period of five years in the skills of building or some operation of the building trade so that they would become experts and be able to compete in industry after that five-year period. At present there are 13 Aboriginal people to every home occupied or available for Aboriginals in Ceduna. As there are not 13 people in each home, there are many more than 13 living in some homes in the district. The position is becoming chronic. This year $100,000 was sought to carry on the five-year plan of training nine youths. It was disallowed; therefore the builder has to pull out and nine youths cannot learn the trade. They have to be sacked. In the same township $169,000 is being granted to a European sports association for the purpose of building basketball courts under the Aboriginal employment scheme on the basis that it will employ eight Aboriginals for 12 months. We are assured of the employment of eight Aboriginals so that the European sportsmen will get their basketball complex in Ceduna, and we are assured of the dismissal of nine young Aboriginals who were building homes. There is still an Aboriginal population density of 13 people to a home in Ceduna.
As I pointed out, the figures show that this year there is a reduction of $2. 5m on last year in the appropriation for homes built through the housing commissions. Another $2.5m has to be reimbursed to the Queensland Department of Aboriginals and Islanders Advancement for what it spent at Burketown and Mornington Island following devastation by a cyclone. Of course, following other devastation caused by cyclone, fire, bushfire, et cetera, there is an arrangement, I believe, that after spending $2m the States will be subsidised by the Commonwealth on a dollar for dollar basis. If the devastated area is an area in which Aboriginals are located, the whole of the relief expenditure come out of the Aboriginal vote. The States are reimubursed for what they spend. Therefore there is a total reduction of $5m. The $2.5m reduction in the appropriation and the $2.5m that has to be reimbursed to the Queensland Department come out of the Aboriginal housing vote this year.
In South Australia, where there is a drastic shortage of housing, there is a reduction of $1 .3m on last year in the allocation for housing through the Housing Trust. We are told the justification for this. We are told that regrettably more cannot be spent on housing because the Department of Aboriginal Affairs is giving higher priorities to education and health. The explanation for the increase in the estimates for education and health is that it is to cover the 1 976 national wage increases for a full year. So there is no improvement in education and health services for Aboriginals in this Budget. There is an increased allocation to pay for wage increases that occurred under national wage decisions last year. So we go through the whole ambit of Aboriginal affairs- the shifting of payments from one area to another, the promises that were made, and so on.
Mr President, as my time is up I shall conclude by saying that I cannot develop my argument any further. We promised Aboriginal landholders in the Northern Territory all royalties from mining on their land, but we have heard the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Withers) say that the Government will have a uranium development tax. It appears that the Aboriginals will get 2lA per cent of that. It is like the medical aid scheme. Instead of reimbursing the States we impose a levy so that the States get nothing. We call it a development tax. Whereas we promised them the whole gain from mining, they get only 2 lA per cent of what the Government gets.
– I would like to talk on just two aspects of the Budget: The first is the general maintaining of our policy of reducing inflation and the second is the continual Government care and concern for those in greatest need. The Budget was brought down just three weeks ago, and I think it is appropriate that we have another look at some of the statements the media brought out at that time. The Australian Financial Review said:
It should be quickly said that the Budget as outlined by Mr Lynch is in itself a safe and responsible one.
The Sydney Morning Herald said:
When it is remembered that the trading banks represent the main source of credit for small businesses, it can be seen that the prospect of lower interest rates and freer bank lending represent the most expansionary aspect of the Budget’s economic strategy. But this expansionary prospect has been achieved responsibly, by reducing the deficit, not by letting the money supply blow out.
The Daily Telegraph said:
Mr Lynch ‘s new streamlined tax system will give everyone a fatter pay packet but, most importantly, those at the lower end of the pay scale- pensioners and others on fixed incomes- stand to benefit more than the fat cats.
The Daily Telegraph went on to say:
Rightly, Mr Lynch sees inflation control as the Government’s chief concern.
He has kept a tight rein on Government spending and refuses to be sucked into dispensing large sums in gimmickry give-aways for non-productive areas of the economy.
It is true that the Government has not indulged in the gimmickry give-aways that the Opposition indulged in during its term of office. I would like now to look at what policy came out of the Perth conference of the Opposition. It has continued to indulge in free spending. Its desire to be the last of the big time spenders has been outlined by Mr Hurford. No restraint was suggested by Mr Hurford. I would like to quote a few passages of the speeches given at that conference. Mr Hurford said:
The objectives I have described are ambitious. There are no simple means of achieving them. There are no simple ways of increasing revenue. We are dependent for increased tax revenue on the growth of the economy and on the introduction of a secondary profit tax on resource based industries.
That is, higher company tax and indirect taxation. Mr Hurford suggested that personal tax indexation should be maintained, but we found that being defeated by Mr McBride in an amendment that he put forward. I will read what he said in putting forward that amendment. I am quite sure that honourable senators will find it most interesting.
This amendment wants to make it quite clear that the Labor Party’s economy policy is not committed to full indexation As a socialist party in the long run we clearly, if we are endeavouring to emulate the lead given to us by the socialist countries of the Northern Hemisphere, can only achieve those objectives if we are prepared to pay the same level of tax as they are.
So the policy of the Opposition is still one of big time spending and increases in taxes- personal, company and indirect taxes. That was summed up by the Bulletin rather clearly when it said:
Last week in Perth the Party’s national conference went the rest of the way to electoral disaster by promising all Australians all the things they do not want right now-higher taxes, even stronger unions, more bureaucrats, less security, and a whole heap of way-out nonsense.
I really feel that that very clearly describes the policy that the Opposition would have brought in if it had been in power instead of this Government. As I have said, the Government’s concern to reduce the rate of inflation has been reflected in this Budget. We all know that under the Labor Government inflation reached an all time high of 18 per cent in the March quarter of 1975. Under the policy of the Liberal-Country Party Government it dropped to 10.2 per cent in March 1977. 1 would like to quote from the remarks of a few people and organisations in this regard. The Master Builders Federation of Australia said:
The Government’s policies over the last 21 months have led to a significant stabilisation in cost pressures in the industry. In the 12 months to July 1977 the cost of materials used on house building rose by 9.8 per cent and on building other than house building, by 9. 1 per cent. This contrasts with rates of increase of over 20 per cent in 1974-75.
I emphasise those figures of 20 per cent and 9. 1 per cent. In an extract from the annual report for 1976-77 of the Australian Finance Conference the Chairman of the Conference said: 1 1 seems to Conference that there has been a considerable measure of success over the past year in curbing inflation and thereby encouraging growth in real activity. This success must be sustained and Conference wholeheartedly supports the Commonwealth Government’s resolve to continue to give this first priority.
The annual rate of inflation (after allowing for the various Medibank changes) has reduced by around 5 per cent over the past year; in the same period there has been continued economic growth in real terms.
Perhaps it would be best to remind those people who believe that the recovery in the economy has not been as fast as they would like that it takes a silly donkey two minutes to kick down a barn door but it takes a skilled carpenter several hours to rebuild and replace that door.
The Government is showing continual concern for those in need. Prior to the introduction of the Budget all sorts of rumours were floating around. Rumours were floated around by the Opposition that there would be cuts in the welfare field and that in point of fact there had been cuts in the education field. I might add that there has been a 10 per cent increase m expenditure in the technical education field. These sorts of rumours continued to go round. They were all proved wrong. Not only were they proved wrong but also the welfare area was extended. The handicapped children’s allowance of $15 a week was extended. I believe that this was a very deserving area. In many low income areas there are children who do not come under the severely handicapped criteria but who are on continuous diets that are very costly to their parents. Under the extension of the handicapped children’s allowance scheme those children will be able to be catered for up to an amount of $15 a week. That will be at the discretion of the Director-General of the Department of Social Security. I congratulate the Minister for Social Security (Senator Guilfoyle) on being able to bring in this measure during these particularly difficult times. I am quite sure that those parents who will be able to take advantage of this measure will consider it to be a very great step forward.
The next area in the social welfare field to be extended is the area involving the rehabilitation of disabled housewives. Up till now those who have been able to accept such rehabilitation have been only those who have been able to be returned to the work force. This extension is something that the women of Australia have been seeking for quite some time. I have attended many meetings in the rehabilitation area at which people have been pushing for the women who work in the home- the wives and mothers -to be able to enter the Commonwealth rehabilitation centres at no cost to themselves and take advantage of the facilities provided. This extension will be a geat blessing to my State because the Sir Douglas Parker Rehabilitation Centre, to which the Commonwealth Government is contributing along with the State Government, will be able to introduce these women to this area. I believe that this is a great step forward. Another area is pensions generally. Pensions will be increased again in November. The married pension rises by $3.75 to $82.20 a week. The single pension goes up $2.20 to $49.30 a week. The majority of pensioners receiving the full rate of pension will be excluded from tax-
Re-refining of Oil-Tasmanian Labor Movement
– Order! It being 1 1 p.m., in conformity with the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate, I formally put the question:
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– I raise in the adjournment debate tonight a matter which cannot satisfactorily be dealt with by way of questions. It is a specific matter and one which is not suitable therefore to be raised in the Budget debate. It is of considerable importance and ought to be given consideration by the Government and by members of this Parliament. It relates to the totally unsatisfactory situation in respect of the re-refining of oil in this country. The fact is that no policy exists, so far is I know, specifying under what circumstances the rerefining of oil will be done and in what way we can avoid the current situation where organisations that are engaged, as private firms, in rerefining oil are going to the wall and are being forced in some circumstances to close their premises. Oil, a limited resource, is becoming even more limited in the world. We have to import heavy oils from overseas. The situation is growing each day more desperate as this resource is not being used. It is creating greater pollution, as I will show, of the atmosphere, of the drains and of many other parts of this country.
The process of the re-refining of oil- this is not perhaps a matter which is known to all members; it is only in recent months that I have become a little more familiar with it- not only in this country but also overseas has been perfected after many years of scientific research and practical experience. I take the case of one organisation that operates in Victoria. It claims that it is possible not only to re-refine all used oils to first grade specifications but also in most cases to return it to a degree of quality surpassing the original. An engine cannot wear oil out. It does subject it to greater stress than the original refiner, revealing many weaknesses not previously eliminated. It contaminates the oil with impurities- road dust, grit, carbon, sludge, metal particles, water, petrol and colloidal impuritiesas well as breaking down some molecules through terrific heat and friction. That is the situation with waste oil. Remove these impurities, recover only the tough molecules that have witstood engine stresses, and we have an oil which will give better results than the original because it is composed only of molecules which have already proven their ability to resist disintegration under working conditions. Even second grade oils and mixed drainages can thus be transformed into first grade oils. To finish on this aspect, the publication Scientific Lubrication has had this to say:
We have found in the laboratory and on the test bench that regenerated oils are indeed superior in most cases to the virgin lubricant and, furthermore, that such oils respond remarkably well to treatment with additives.
Some suggestions come from the oil companies on occasions that the waste oils cannot be used. There have been some suggestions that the military overseas would not use re-refined oil. In fact there is no reason in the world why it cannot be used. There is no reason why this finite component which is in limited supply cannot be used over and over again.
My attention was first brought to this matter by an article which appeared in the Melbourne Herald on 21 March this year headed ‘Lube Oil- A Sticky Problem’. I do not propose to go through the arguments in that article now. They will come up in the course of what I have to say. I did set out a serious situation. In this country no policy exists in this matter. No effort is being really made to ensure that the re-refined oil is being used. Following that article I asked a question in the Senate on 3 1 March of this year and received a positive reply on the spot from Senator Carrick. In the course of that question I pointed out the contents of this article and said:
Australia recycles only a small fraction of used automotive and other lubricating oils and that most of the used oil is either dumped or burned, often with adverse environmental effects.
In view of Australia’s dependence upon imports of heavy lubricating oil, are any plans envisaged to encourage effective oil recycling?
Senator Carrick made a positive response to that. He understood the importance of the matter in overseas terms but was not familiar with what was happening in Australia. He said:
I accept the final premise in the question asked by Senator Missen that this matter is important because of the growing import burden and import costs. Therefore, I shall have the matter looked at.
I received a further answer in July of this year to that question. Senator Withers, in written answer said:
The Acting Minister for National Resources has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
The Government is conscious of the arguments in favour of reprocessing of lubricating oil and some reprocessing does take place.
However, complex issues are involved. On the one hand there are environmental and conservation aspects, and on the other important questions involving financial consideration for the industry. Also, in many respects, the issues involved fall within the jurisdiction of the States.
In some European countries action has been initiated to encourage the collection and re-refining of waste lubricating oil.
The Department of National Resources follows developments in regard to recycling very closely and the whole question is currently being reviewed.
I have some doubt that that answer really gives a frank and accurate position on the matter. The
Minister has supplied the answer. I do not suggest for a moment that he does not believe that is the situation. I have reason to think that the matter has not been followed as closely as anyone would desire. I should mention that correspondence went on during this period between the solicitors for the Leroc Oil Co. Pty Ltd, a Victorian company which has tried to keep this matter going and is now close to going to the wall because of the difficulties, and the Government. The solicitors received an answer dated 7 July from the Minister Assisting the Minister for National Resources, Mr Evan Adermann, M.P., as follows:
Thank you for your letter of 20 May in which you made representations in regard to the difficulties encountered by Leroc Oil Company Pty Ltd in its waste oil re-refining operations.
I regret to advice that I can see no way in which the Commonwealth can assist in resolving the company’s immediate problems. The environmental issues fall within the responsibilities of the Victorian Government and I note you have made representations to them in this regard.
The problem of waste oil disposal in Australia is now the subject of close study by the Department of National Resources. When completed it will probably require further consideration with other Departments, and possibly other interested parties, including the States, so it may be some time before any final conclusions are reached. However, your client’s interests will be borne in mind in this respect and an endeavour made to expedite a determination of the Government’s overall position on the matter.
Back on 3 1st March, Mr John Rappell, the Managing Director of that company, made a complaint. He had seen Mr Adermann and had been assured at that stage that within a month something would be done by the public servants present. I mention on the basis of information I have received and which I believe to be true that for at least three to four months a report from a junior officer has been lying on the desk of an officer of the Department of National Resources. I believe the report is favourable to the rerefining of oil and a policy in this respect. The report has been lying there untouched for three to four months. I do not therefore think it can be said that this matter is being pursued at the speed and to the degree that it should. I ask when one gets these sorts of answers in the Parliament, whether it is a fact that the matter is being pursued thoroughly or whether a report is lying about. If the report is lying about why has no action been taken?
I turn to the position of the company in Victoria about which I have now made some inquiries. I hope it is not even necessary to say this, but I have no personal interest in this company. My contact with it has come recently. The company has communicated with me. Its representatives have given me the facts of the company’s involvement. This company has been in existence for some 40 years. It is Australian owned. Mr Rappell and his family bought into it in about 1973 and now substantially own it. The company has been operating in this field for some considerable period. It was producing a great deal of re-refined oil. Now its premises are closed, for reasons which I will mention.
In 1973, there was a crisis in regard to overseas oil. There was a great need for oil. The oil companies, particularly Mobil, agreed to take some 60 per cent of the re-refined oil or 100,000 gallons a month. As a consequence, the Leroc Company spent some $250,000 to update its plant so that it could produce that sort of capacity. Unfortunately when the crisis passed, a different situation occurred. The company which was prepared to take the re-refined oil gave six months notice that it would take no more of the oil. That company proceeded to bring into operation its own refinery in, I think, Adelaide. So the Leroc Company, with assets of about $750,000, has since found itself unable to sell the quantity of rerefined oil that would make it economic for it to continue in operation.
In Victoria alone, approximately 29 million gallons of lubricating oil are sold annually. Approximately 50 per cent, or about 15 million gallons, is returned as waste oil to one of the major companies or to the Leroc Company. Unfortunately the Leroc Company was faced with a demand- I do not propose to go into the details of this- from the Environment Protection Authority in Victoria to take steps to eradicate a smell coming from its production. The company is in an area where there are offensive trades, an area where rightly or wrongly there are now some Housing Commission homes. The company has not been able to carry out the requirements of the EPA by reason of the fact that it would cost $70 a day to do so. The company’s profits were only $1 1,000 in the year in question, and it would be quite uneconomic, unless the oil companies were prepared to take its product, for it to meet the Authority’s demand. That would mean the oil companies taking about 100,000 gallons a month.
In 1 975 it was in active production and had the capacity to use approximately 3.5 million gallons of waste oil annually which, when processed, would amount to about 2.5 million gallons of finished oil. It was also able to produce it at approximately 8c a gallon below the price charged by the lubricating oil refineries. This oil met the necessary quality specifications. The Leroc Company would have been able to produce the re-refined oil if the oil companies would take it, but of course in recent times they have refused to do so. What the company was able to achieve at that stage in taking 3.5 million gallons of the total amount of waste oil was a real contribution in environmental terms. When the company had to close down in October of last year, 70,000 gallons were dumped in a matter of a few weeks. They were dumped in Melbourne in the municipal tips and other places, causing pollution. There is a prospect of that situation continuing.
The position is further exacerbated by the fact that there is an accumulation of 6 million gallons of waste oil in Melbourne, as well as 3 million gallons in country areas which to some extent, with little expenditure, could have been brought by train to Melbourne and used if the Leroc Company had been able to produce the refuned oil and sell it back to the oil companies. As Mr Rappell says, the waste oil, if properly harnessed, could take care of 30 per cent of Australia’s lubricating oil requirements. The lubricating oil refineries not only in Victoria but in other States as well could be used. This would mean a great contribution to our exchange and to our security in the future. As I said, the Leroc Company had trouble with the Environment Protection Authority. Unfortunately, it could not meet the Authority ‘s requirements with the result that it stopped production. Therefore the environment is greatly deteriorating.
The company also had to fight its way through the Trade Practices Commission. Finally the Commission enabled the company to become a member of what is called PIECE- a committee of oil companies- when major oil companies had refused to allow the re-refiners to join. It was only because of the order of the Trade Practices Commission that the company was allowed to join. But that has been a hollow victory because that committee does not now operate to ensure that there is in any way a disposition of the rerefining of oil. As I have said, this company produced over 100,000 gallons of re-refined oil per month which needed to be disposed of. The market is not now available because the oil companies refuse to take this oil. They were prepared to allow this company, at the time it went out of production, to continue collecting some of the oil for the oil companies, but then they had to dispose of it elsewhere. They were not prepared to take the company’s re-refined products.
Dumping is a matter which should be of great concern to all in this Senate. In excess of 70,000 gallons of waste oil has now been dumped in municipal tips in a short period since the company stopped production in October. This is continuing to take place. It is interesting also that the oil companies are using the waste oil in different ways. They are collecting it and blending it with fuel oil. The blending which is going on, without any prior treatment of the oil and without any of the lead additives being removed, has resulted in more pollution in the atmosphere when the oil is burned. Yet not a single prosecution has been brought against any major oil company for a breach of the Environment Protection Act because lead is emitted from chimney stacks as a result of the burning of fuel oil without a licence. The companies mix this waste lubricating oil, all the time conscious of the ruling by the World Health Organisation that the percentage of lubricating oil must not be greater than three parts per hundred; otherwise it would become exceedingly dangerous to the population. Quite apart from that, the oil has been dumped in municipal tips and is leaking into drains and streams.
There are matters of serious concern. This situation applies not only in Victoria. I do not have the precise details, but I have been told- and I have every reason to believe this-that Mr Quackenbusch, the managing director of the Western Refining Company in Western Australia, cannot get hold of waste oil. The oil companies in Western Australia are prepared to pay more for the waste oil than he is. They are prepared to buy it up to put him out of business. Mr Quackenbusch is facing the risk of going out of business, if he is not already out of business, and will not be able to continue re-refining. I believe that the oil companies have a considerable vested interest. They have their own refineries and they say that because they have surplus requirements they would rather bring in the original oil from overseas and have maximum capacity for their refineries. That would not be cheaper. The cheaper thing would be to re-refine the oil, but it suits them not to do that. I understand that both Shell and Mobil are planning extensions of their refineries. In other words, they are going to increase their excess capacity instead of taking the re-refined oil that is available. Further to that, in regard to the actions taken by the oil companies in blending the oil, the views of the Department of Environment, Housing and Community Development are worth recording. The Trade Practices Commission in its decision of 22 October 1976 quoted from a submission from the Department of Environment, Housing and Community Development dated 20 February 1976. The submission stated: as the most environmentally desirable method of disposing of used oil is by re-refining, it is essential for the interests of the independent oil re-refiners to be protected in any arrangement to co-ordinate the recovery of waste lubricating oil.
That was the view of our own Department of Environment, Housing and Community Development, and I think it adds to the point that we ought to have a policy from the Department of National Resources on what we are going to do to achieve the results mentioned. Overseas, particularly in the United States and West Germany, the re-refining of oil is a very considerable matter. In the United States something like 30 per cent of oil is re-refined and in West Germany by law 30 per cent of oil is required to be re-refined oil. There are many authorities, and I have details of some here, which speak of the value of this product. The European Economic Community has a new law which steps up from 20 per cent to 40 per cent the amount of re-refined oil which has to be used.
I have only briefly sketched the situation, but I wish to point out that an urgent policy on this matter is needed. We must utilise the opportunities available to use oil again. In the interests of our environment, we must ensure that it is done.
– How do you explain that the oil companies are all getting into coal now? They are dropping oil and going into coal.
– That is a separate matter.
– All our energy resources will be tied up.
– That may be so, but that is no argument against what I am suggesting. It is a different question altogether which I will leave for another time. There are different things that can be done. In West Germany a tax is imposed on the original oil which is then paid to the people who collect the waste oil. Federal and State governments should and can take the rerefined oil and use it and should be ensuring that their own departments use it substantially. The re-refined oil should not be blended with a pure oil. Obviously that is an undesirable thing. What I am saying is that it is important that the few refiners who are now struggling and who may fail, need the protection of this country and of the Government. They are providing employment. Leroc had 40 employees and now has seven people on its staff; it is doing other minor things but it cannot operate properly. The same situation applies in other States. I ask the Government to look urgently at this matter. If reports are lying on tables I ask that they be lifted and that we in this Parliament be told what is the situation. I believe that that is necessary in the interests of this country, and I hope that something will be done about it.
– I rise for only the second or third time since I have been in this Parliament to speak in the adjournment debate. I apologise for doing so, but I feel that I must speak in order to get into the record statements which will throw a different light on, and in fact are contrary to, some of the statements made during the adjournment debate last night by Senator Harradine. I have no desire to re-open that debate. I did not take part in it, but I do not believe that a debate on the internal affairs of the Labor Party is beneficial to anyone in this Parliament or to the Labor Party and the people of Tasmania. During the debate several people were named, some of whom are friends of mine and some acquaintances. They were named as being pro-communist, as espousing the policies and the causes of the Communist Party of Australia, as attending meetings of the Communist Party of Australia. So that Hansard does not carry a record only of statements made last night, I wish to put some further facts about those people, facts which are contrary to those given last night. I think this will balance the picture and will give a more sensible and sane picture than was given last night.
The first person I wish to speak about is Mr David Llewellyn who, as was said last night, will be a candidate for the Australian Labor Party at the next House of Representatives election. Mr Llewellyn is one of the people who was said to espouse the cause of the Communist Party, the socialist left, and whoever exists in this community. Mr Llewellyn happens to be a telecommunications technician. He also happens to be a church warden and a lay reader in the Anglican Church in Tasmania. He is assistant secretary of his union and is a respected member of the community. Comments such as those which were made last night are quite uncalled for but frequently occur in politics, I am afraid.
The second person I wish to mention is Mr Ron Mainwaring. Mr Mainwaring was labelled as being the President of the Building Workers Industrial Union, which he is. In Tasmania, that union is in fact a moderate union and its secretary has been President of the Tasmanian Trades and Labour Council for a long time. Mr Mainwaring, if he is known for nothing else, is known for the fact that he is a devout evangelical Christian, a very active member of the Uniting Church and previously of the Congregational
Church. He was also labelled as an associate of the KGB because he is President of the AustralianUSSR Society, although last night it was called the Australia-Soviet Friendship Society. He has been a member of that society for a long time and joined at the specific invitation of a very distinguished Anglican Bishop of Tasmania, the Right Reverend Bishop Cranswick. The AustralianUSSR Society is one of many friendship societies in this country which are aimed at improving relationships between Australia and the USSR, Australia and the United States of America, and many other countries. It has amongst its members its patron, Sir Mark Oliphant. It has on its committee Sir Charles Moses, the Right Reverend Bishop Cranswick, the Honourable Keppel Enderoy, Professor Moore, Edna Roper and many others. Mr Clive Evatt is the society’s patron in New South Wales, but during the short time I took to research the matter this evening I was unble to find all the other office bearers.
I am sure that there are communists in the Australian-USSR Society, but to label all members of the society as communists or KGB agents is as silly as labelling all members of the AustraliaUnited States Society or whatever it is called as Central Intelligence Agency agents. I suggest that the comments that were made last night about people who cannot defend themselves were not worthy of this Parliament. Ms Gillian Blain is a professional librarian in Hobart at the University of Tasmania. She organised the recent Libraries Association Conference in Tasmania, which was attended by 1,000 or more people and was very successful. She is wellrespected in the community. To my knowledge, she has attended only one or two State Labor Party conferences. According to the statements made last night, she consistently votes with what is called the socialist left, although where that exists in Tasmania I do not know. At one of those conferences there were no recorded divisions; so no one knows how anyone voted. At the other conference I believe there was one. Mr Joe Benson I do not know so well, but I understand that he is a public servant in Tasmania. I also understand- I have checked the facts- that he is a member of the parish council of his Catholic church in Cygnet and that he is a devout and conscientious member of that church. Yet this man is labelled as a pro-communist and a supporter of the Communist Party of Australia.
Mr Jim Simmonds, who is the Secretary of the Hospital Employees Federation, No. 2 Branch, in Tasmania- the northern branch of the Federation- was previously a senior official in the Public Service Association in Tasmania. It was said in the speech last night that he is a member of the Australian Labor Party Foreign Affairs and Defence Committee. He is not. It is claimed that he attended a meeting in December 1976 at Orford in Tasmania with operatives of the Communist Party of Australia. He has issued a statement today denying that he was at a conference at Orford in December 1976 or at any other time with members of the Communist Party of Australia, or operatives of the Communist Party of Australia or any other party. He has not been to Orford for many years, and when he did go there he went there for the same reasons as most Tasmanians go to Orford- because it is a beach resort, a holiday resort- to get some sun and to swim. He has issued a statement today, and of course he challenges the person who made the remarks last night to repeat them outside this Parliament.
Mr John Coates, of course, is known to many people in this place. He was the member for Denison in the House of Representatives from 1972 to 1975. Mr Coates was known by members on this side and many members on the other side in the other place for the enormous amount of time he put into his job, the enormous amount of help he gave to the people of Denison, and because he was elected in 1974 when really he should have been one of the first candidates to be defeated and in 1975, when he was defeated, he was defeated by a lower margin than most other people in this country, in a seat which is normally a very safe Liberal seat. The big claim against Mr Coates apparently was that he was vice-patron of the Australian Democratic People’s Republic of Korea Society- the North Korea Society in Tasmania. I spoke to Mr Coates today. The only meeting or function resembling the North Korea Society that he can remember going to when he was a member was a film night in Hobart when films were shown by an Australian who had visited North Korea. If he was elected vicepatron, he certainly does not know that he was elected. It was not while he was present. The simple fact of the matter is that it would not be surprising if the local member were elected vicepatron of such a society, as many members of Parliament on both sides of the House are vicepatrons of all sorts of friendship societies in their various States.
Mr Allan Newitt whom I do not know well at all, was said to have been a member of the Communist Party. My only reply is: So what? There are people on both sides of this House who have been members of other political parties. There is at least one member of the Australian Labor
Party in this Parliament who was previously a prominent member of the Liberal Party. There is at least one member of the National Country Party in this Parliament who was previously a member of the Labor Party and the Democratic Labor Party. There are in this Parliament, I believe, two members of the Liberal Party who were previously members of the Democratic Labor Party. There are many members of the Labor Party who have been in other parties. I do not know Mr Newitt but I think the remark that he was once a member of the Communist Party, without any other backup, is not very good evidence to condemn him in this place when he cannot answer in this place.
The other person whom I know at all well is, of course, Tim Thorne. Tim Thome is an ex-teacher and a poet of some repute- a poet who in fact can get his poems published, which is very unusual in this country. I was unable to contact him today because he is in Sydney seeing his publisher. Tim Thome is a very radical member of the Labor Party. He never makes any bones at all about it. He publicly states his views. He does not hide his views. I understand that tonight he has issued a statement saying that he has never been and is not a member of the Communist Party of Australia, and he also has challenged Senator Harridine to say outside this Parliament that he is.
That is all I wish to do. Some of those people I know well. Some of those people I do not know well. I am sure, as far as I can be sure in the short time I have had today, that everything I have said here tonight is correct. We have a principle in this country. I believe that people are allowed to express their views and to express them openly, but we should not allow people to be condemned because of guilt through association as we heard in the speech last night. I merely wish to get on to the record of this Parliament further details of the people who were mentioned last night and to correct some of the inaccuracies in the speech last night.
– Obviously Senator Grimes has not carefully read the material that I placed before the Senate last night. It was prepared by me largely from material that is of a public character. For example, taking the last mentioned person first, Senator Grimes ought to look at what I said about Tim Thome. All that Senator Grimes has done tonight has been to detail the religion of some of the people concerned, to inject a note of sectarianism, if you like, into this matter. I judge people by their fruits and by their fruits one knows them. The facts are that some of the people who currently are supporting the attempts to get rid of two loyal members of the trade union movement in the Labor Party in Tasmania were mentioned by me last night. There are, of course, others. The ones I mentioned were relevant to that particular parliamentary answer of mine that was invited by the parliamentary attack made by Senator O’Byrne on 11 November 1976. All of those whom I mentioned are supporters of the policies of the hard left, and that has not been denied by Senator Grimes tonight.
What I said last night, I stand by. I suggest that Senator Grimes look carefully at what I said. For example, what I said in respect of Tim Thorne is a matter of public record. His donation to the Communist Party of Australia is a matter of public record, acknowledged by the Communist Party Tribune. So far as John Coates is concerned, that also is a matter of public record, printed in the Press and never denied by John Coates. There are other matters that ought to be considered. For example, Senator Grimes said: If Newitt was a member of the Communist Party, so what?’ Presumably now he is a member of the Labor Party. Senator Grimes’s own organisation’s rule 9 (b) proscribes members of the Communist Party from being members of the Labor Party.
– Not so.
-It is rule 9(b) of Senator Grimes’s organisation. I was a member of the Labor Party for much longer than Senator Grimes has been a member. Rule 9(b) of the Labor Party states that members cannot be members of the Party if they are members, or supporters, or espouse the cause of, proscribed organisations. Two of those organisations are the Communist Party and the National Civic Council. I think the Protestant Democratic Movement and the National Union of Railwaymen -
– That is right. Another scabby job.
- Senator O’Byrne says ‘Another scabby job’. Members of that union will be interested in that. So the Labor Party has one rule for ex-members of the Communist Party and another rule for people who, on the principle of guilt by association, it alleges are members of the NCC. That is the type of justice we can expect from Senator Grimes. I am not surprised that Senator Grimes has been put into the breach tonight to do what he did. Senator Grimes relies on these people for his preselection and he knows it. Senator Grimes also was the very man whom these people put into the breach at the ALP State conference in 1975 to move a motion against me. That resolution was not only a condemnation and an attempt to get the ALP Federal Executive to cut my throat but also was condemnatory of the Labor Party, the State Conference and the State Executive of the Tasmanian Labor Party at that time.
I remind Senator Grimes that the Labor Party at that time passed a resolution that I was a valued member of the Party. That was on the books of the Labor Party, and also on the books of the Labor Party was the statement that if the sort of action Senator Grimes wanted to take against me took place then it would have disastrous electoral consequences on the Labor Party itself. That is what the resolutions were and indeed, what has happened? Precisely that. When I was a member of the Labor Party we held the five House of Representatives seats in Tasmania. After the expulsion, all of those seats were lost. I should like to remind Senator Grimes that there was a vast difference also between the percentage of votes in the Senate for the ALP in Tasmania at the last Senate election and the percentage at the previous election. If the Labor Party and Senator Grimes seek to continue their witch hunts that have been perpetrated against loyal members of the trade union movement in that State then they have got it coming to them electorally. I take pity on Senator Grimes because he really does not know anything about the trade union movement. How can he? Of course, he is a member of the Australian Medical Association but he is not a member of any other union.
– Yes, he is.
- Senator O’Byrne says that Senator Grimes is a member of some other union. I would be interested to know of what other union he is a member, how its constitution covers him, and whether his being a member of that union unconstitutionally raises the question of the validity of that particular organisation. I take pity on Senator Grimes because he does not understand the issue that is involved. The issue is simply control of the Tasmanian Trades and Labour Council. Not Senator Grimes but others who make the bullets for him know that if they can get control of the Tasmanian Trades and Labour Council then the policy direction of the whole of the trade union movement in the whole of Australia is at stake. Rule 14(b) of the Australian Council of Trade Unions’ rules provides that no policy can be binding on the trade union movement if altered by the ACTU Executive between congresses unless it receives endorsement by four of the six
State branches of the ACTU. The procommunist Left need one more vote and that is why all of the guns are aimed at the Tasmanian Trades and Labour Council.
Senator GRIMES (Tasmania)-I wish to make a personal explanation.
– Does the honourable senator claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes. I do not wish to roll in the gutter with Senator Harradine. I just wish to make two comments on how I have been misrepresented. The first is that 1 am not a member of the Australian Medical Association. The second is that I am a member of the Miscellaneous Workers Union. A third matter I could have dealt with by raising a point of order but I did not do so at the time. I refer to the offensive statement made by Senator Harradine that I was put into the breach. I was not put into the breach by anyone. I did this to get on record the names of decent people in our community who were maligned last night.
– I should like to correct a situation that was created by Senator Harradine when he placed on the table a document purporting to be similar to the document I tabled last night. It is not a similar document. I do not know whether or not he has purposely distorted it. It is a different document altogether. I want to draw the attention of the Senate to the fact that the document purported by Senator Harradine to be the same as the document I tabled last night is not the same as the one he tabled today and had placed on record.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 11.48 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated:
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice, on 16 August 1977:
– The Prime Minister has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
The Government’s decision on uranium mining in Australia was announced on Thursday, 25 August 1 977. Full details were provided in the Ministerial Statements issued at that time.
Department of Administrative Services:
asked the Minister for Administrative Services, upon notice, on 17 August 1977:
Of the 553 offices of the Department of Administrative Services that have been abolished since 1 January 1976 (see answer to Question No. 984), how many of these positions existed in the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory, and in each of the capital cities of the States?
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice, on 1 7 August 1977:
– The Minister for Defence has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
The occupants of the aircraft were:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice, on 16 August 1977:
– The Minister for Health has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
My Department has closely studied the statements of Dr Kalokerinos and has an extensive collection of material related to the theories of Dr Kalokerinos and his associates.
In addition officers of my Department have visited Dr Kalokerinos to discuss his theories with him. and the Nutrition Section of the Department of Health conducted a special study into his theories on Vitamin C deficiency and its relation to Aboriginal infant health. This involved field, clinical and laboratory studies.
Some of his statements concerning trace element deficiencies may prove true. This view is shared by others and the Commonwealth has already funded an eminent Australian research scientist. Professor Cheek, to investigate this with particular reference to the health of Aboriginals.
Although I have a high personal regard for Dr Kalokerinos, the honourable senator will understand that my Department must rely upon acceptable scientific evidence as a basis for action to improve the health of Aborigines and contribute to their social and economic advancement.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Northern Territory, upon notice, on 16 August 1977:
What action, if any, did the Minister take pursuant to Senator Walsh “s request by letter of 10 June 1977 that tenders for the purchase of 200 caravans in lots of 50, scheduled to close on 16 June 1977, be recalled in order to enable tenders to be submitted for single vans.
-The Minister for the Northern Territory has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
My Department has now disposed of 29 caravans individualy by tender and 102 by auction. The last auction was held on 28 July 1 977. A futher sale by auction will followin mid-September and, as the Department still has some 900 caravans, periodical sales will be held on a regular basis.
It was not practicable to cancel tenders for the 200 caravans which closed on 16 June 1977. It will be appreciated that prospective inter-state tenderers had at considerable expense inspected the caravans in Darwin. Moreover, because of the large number of caravans to be disposed of and the very limited local market, the Department could not expect to obtain realistic prices for these attractive assests if it attempted to dispose of its entire holdings in Darwin. The demand for the 200 caravans offered in bulk lots of 50 was surprisingly strong and the prices realised were comparable with prices obtained at smaller auctions. I am satisfied that no loss of revenue resulted from the sale of these caravans.
I replied to the honourable senator’s letter on 18 August 1977.
Packer Cricket Series
-On 16 August 1977 (Hansard, page 12) Senator Missen asked me a question without notice concerning the Packer Cricket Series and in particular whether the Government has assisted, or would be assisting, Mr Packer in his plans to stage a cricket circus in Australia. I promised to make inquiries into this matter. The Prime Minister has provided the following information for answer to the honourable senator’s question:
The Government regards Mr Packer’s venture as a private matter between Mr Packer and the persons whom he has contracted to play cricket; the Government is watching the situation but is not involved in launching the cricket series.
As was indicated in the reply to Question No. 1077 (Hansard, 16 August 1977, page 71), the opportunity arose on my recent overseas visit for me to have discussions with Mr Packer who is aware of the Government’s policy towards multi-racial sport.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 7 September 1977, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1977/19770907_senate_30_s74/>.