30th Parliament · 2nd Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Condor Laucke) took the chair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.
– I inform the Senate that the Deputy Prime Minister, the Rt Hon. J. D. Anthony, leaves Australia today to attend the International Sugar Conference in Geneva and to have discussions in the Middle East. He is expected to return to Australia on 7 October. During his absence the Minister for Industry and Commerce, Senator the Hon. Robert Cotton, will act as Minister for Overseas Trade and Minister for Transport. The Hon. P. J. Nixon will act as Minister for National Resources.
Industries Assistance Commission: Report on Recorded Music
– I seek leave to present a petition from 2,029 citizens relating to the Industries Assistance Commission draft report on recorded music.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
-The petition has been submitted to the Clerk of the Senate who, for technical reasons, is unable to certify it, but I am informed that it is otherwise unobjectionable. In those circumstances, I seek leave to have the petition read.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
The Deputy Clerk thereupon read the petition as follows:
We, the undersigned wish to protest strongly against the recommendation of the Industries Assistance Commission to abolish the 20 per cent quota for Australian records on radio stations. We regard this as an attack on Australian music. We urge the Federal Government to reject the recommendation immediately to enable this vital industry to develop and prevent further unemployment.
– Petitions have been lodged for presentation as follows:
To the Honourable the President and Members of the Senate of the Commonwealth in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
That where whole or part of a deceased estate passes to the surviving spouse it should be free from federal estate duty.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Senator Baume.
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 poverty 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 Jessop.
To the Honourable the President and Members of the Senate in Parliament assembled. The petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
That the delays between the announcements of each quarterly movement in the Consumer Price Index and their application as a percentage increase in age and invalid pensions is excessive, unnecessary, discriminatory and a cause of economic distress.
That proposals to amend the Consumer Price Index by eliminating particular items from the Index could adversely affect the value of future increases in aged and invalid pensions and thus be a cause of additional economic harship to pensioners.
The foregoing facts impel your petitioners to ask the Australian Government as a matter of urgency to:
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Senator Jessop.
To the Honourable, the President and Members of the Senate in Parliament assembled.
The petition of the undersigned respectfully showeth that at present subsidies for the care of children in needy circumstances are paid to selected institutions thereby limiting the choice of institutions to which the children may apply.
Your petitioners most humbly pray that the Senate in Parliament assembled should institute a voucher system by which a subsidy for pre-school children can be applied to all children in need, each voucher supplied to be redeemable at any registered child care centre or kindergarten.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Senator Jessop.
To the Honourable the President and members of the Senate, in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
That the 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 partiotisms, 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 common justice and proper humanity by inviting only authorised representatives of the present Government of Rhodesia to Australia, to do what they have been deprived to do 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 Jessop.
-I give notice that, on the next day of sitting, I shall move that the following matter be referred to the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence:
All aspects of the current Australian passport system.
– I give notice that, six sitting days after today, I shall move:
That the Ombudsman Regulations, as contained in Statutory Rules 1977 No. 104, and made under the Ombudsman Act 1976, be disallowed.
– I give notice that, six sitting days after today, I shall move:
That sections 27 and 55 of the Sale of Motor Vehicles Ordinance 1977, as contained in the Australian Capital Territory Ordinance No. 29 of 1977, and made under the Seat of Government (Administration) Act 1910, be disallowed.
– I give notice that, six sitting days after today, I shall move:
That section 34 and Part VI of the Legal Aid Ordinance 1977, as contained in the Australian Capital Territory Ordinance No. 3 1 of 1977, and made under the Seat of Government (Administration) Act 1 9 10, be disallowed.
– My question is addressed to Senator Cotton as Minister representing the Treasurer. I ask him: Does he recall yesterday in answer to a question by Senator Rae, in which Senator Rae made reference to the borrowing of Arab money, saying:
I am not in touch with the Arab money world. Other people may be or may have been.
He went on to say:
It is possible for the funny money men in other parts of the world to manipulate our currency. We should not join those people ourselves.
I ask the Minister Is he aware that major amounts of Arab money are still being deposited with the big European and American banks and lending institutions, such as the Deutsche Bank, Credit Suisse, the Amsterdam-Rotterdam Bank, and the Morgan Stanley Co. Incorporated? Is it not true that the Australian Government uses the services of these organisations for overseas loan raising purposes? If this is the case, is it not also true that the Australian Government is receiving a significant proportion of its overseas borrowings from Arab sources?
-The second part of the question is an assumption. Nobody could regard it as being accurate. It has been traditionally accepted around the world that an official money market which is conducted by reputable people and an unofficial money market conducted by all kinds of people exist. What the Australian Government ought to do and has done consistently on most occasions is to deal in the international money market with authorised authorities, such as those referred to by the honourable senator. That is what this Government has done but other people may do things differently.
-I wish to ask a supplementary question. Is the Minister saying that in fact he acknowledges that the Australian Government, irrespective of what source it is using for its contact, is receiving significant loan money from Arab sources?
-I said nothing of the kind. Senator Wriedt has no right to construe that from my remarks. Do not put words into my mouth. I said nothing of the kind. The honourable senator must make his own deductions as to how the Australian Government would properly look for overseas funds when it wanted them. It would go to authorised people- reputable people. That is what I suggest would be a proper practice. Any other construction the honourable senator may care to put on my words is his business, not mine.
– I direct my question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate in his capacity as Minister representing the Prime Minister. The Minister will be aware that the South Australian Government has made an approach to the Federal Government for a loan to provide infrastructure associated with the proposed petrochemical works at Redcliff in South Australia. I understand that the decision to proceed with this industry largely depends on the granting of a loan for this purpose. Is the Minister aware of a statement on the Australian Broadcasting Commission news this morning to the effect that the Premier of South Australia has received a letter from the Prime Minister relating to this matter? Can the Minister say whether the Government has agreed to this proposal? If not, when can an announcement be expected?
-I am well aware of the honourable senator’s continuing interest in this matter. He has raised it a number of times in the Senate. The honourable senator would know that matters at this level are dealt with on a Prime Minister to Premier basis and the release of correspondence which passes between them is generally a matter for mutual decision as to what ought to be made public and when. I have no personal knowledge of what the Prime Minister has written recently to Mr Dunstan, if he has written on this subject. I will certainly seek the information for the honourable senator and if I get it before the close of Question Time, I will let him have an answer.
– I again direct a question to the Minister representing the Treasurer. I remind the Minister of an answer to question No. 477 upon notice which he gave to me recently on behalf of the Treasurer in which the Treasurer states:
The lead managers of the underwriting syndicates for loans raised since 1 January 1976-
That is by the Australian Government- were as follows: Deutsche ‘s Bank, Credit Suisse, the AmsterdamRotterdam Bank and the Morgan Stanley Bank Co. Inc.
I presume the Minister is not denying that those institutions are used for the purpose of raising overseas loans by the Australian Government. Is it a fact that since 1 January 1976 the Government has raised $1.6 billion in overseas loans? Is the Minister aware that the Foreign Trading Bank of Iran, the Industrial and Mining Development Bank of Iran and the Iran Overseas Investment Bank Ltd are all subsidiaries of Deutsche ‘s Bank which, as I said, is a lead manager for Australian Government overseas borrowings? Is the Minister aware of Arab moneys being involved in borrowings of the Australian Government and is he saying that the Australian Government would not borrow from these institutions if Arab money were involved? Will the Minister indicate whether future borrowings of overseas loans announced by the Prime Minister in the last day or so will include further Arab money?
-The honourable senator is in a state of great confusion. He does not understand the difference between a borrower in one sense and an acquirer of deposits in another sense. As the Treasurer has said, and as I have said on his behalf, Australia deals with a number of firms when it wishes to negotiate overseas loans. Therefore, Australia is a borrower from those firms. How those firms acquire their funds and from whom is their banking business. I do not think that we would ask them from where they get their money. I do not think that the questions from the honourable senator portray much of an understanding of the position. I do not know where the Deutsche ‘s Bank acquires its deposits. I do not know where the other banks acquire their deposits. But the honourable senator might note that in the list of the authorised people with whom we deal overseas the name of Khemlani does not appear.
-Mr President, I direct a supplementary question to the Minister representing the Treasurer. I can understand the desire of Senator Cotton to try to brush aside this matter. But, as he has indicated that he does not care and the Government apparently does not care about the source of its overseas borrowings, I now specifically ask him: Does he consider that if the sources do include Arab money, the Government is dealing with funny money men when yesterday he denied that the Government was dealing with them?
-Certainly not. What a rubbishing, stupid way to go on. I ask the honourable senator to understand that we deal with reputable people. They do so also. It is not presenting any problem. There is another part of the answer which I had forgotten temporarily. The Prime Minister said yesterday, I think, that where it was necessary to borrow overseas, we would certainly do so. I do not recall reading a firm commitment to do so in respect of any particular amount, only the announcement that we had done so recently. Mr President, can we clear this matter? We deal with reputable people when we wish to borrow overseas. Their business is their business. We do not put strictures on them. Surely the honourable senator would understand that in the Senate chamber one does not wish to cast aspersions against any body. But there has been around the world traditionally quite a number of people who have operated in what might be called ‘the fringe money market, the unregulated money market or the funny money market’. All I suggest is that they are not good people for a reputable nation to deal with.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Treasurer. Is it not a fact that the opposition from the present Government parties when in Opposition was not to the fact that the loan which the then government sought to raise was from Arab countries but because it was sought through unrecognised money avenues, more particularly because of the extraordinarily high commission of 2½ per cent that was to be paid on the loan and also because no valid reason was given as to why the money was being borrowed?
-I think that is an accurate construction of the events. I remember the occasion quite well. One asked oneself at the time why it was necessary for the money to be borrowed. It was clear that it was to fund a very large emerging deficit. One asked oneself why it was not borrowed from the normal channels. To that one did not receive an answer. I think Senator Wood ‘s construction is a fair one. The rates to be charged were very substantial but they did bear upon the pattern which, as I understand it, is that Arabs are not allowed to receive interest and therefore take a capital gain. The net effect was a massive amount of money to be repaid. I am reminded by one of my colleagues that the Iranians are not Arabs. Perhaps we should explain that to ourselves too.
-As the Minister representing the Treasurer is under the impression that an alleged rate of 2 per cent, according to Senator Wood, was inordinately high, I ask him: Why is it that this Government paid a commission of 3.75 per cent to Credit Suisse in its last borrowing arrangements with that institution?
– I am not in the money lending or money borrowing business. Questions as to what rates of interest might be paid or might not be paid are proper ones. To them the Government will give proper answers. But I hope that questions can be asked in some style of propriety rather than in a style of innuendo.
– The Minister representing the Minister for National Resources will be aware of the drastic consequences which the new fuel excise and crude oil prices will have for country business people and farmers. In view of the depressed state of primary industry, can the Minister say whether within the new pricing arrangements there will be scope for Government consideration of a fuel equalisation scheme, particularly having regard to the fact that the previous price equalisation scheme, which guaranteed no greater price for people in remote areas than 3.3c a gallon above what was paid in city areas, was abolished by the Whitlam Administration because it was considered unnecessary?
-I think all honourable senators on this side of the chamber thought at the time that the abolition of the price equalisation scheme was a tragedy for this country. I only hope that honourable senators opposite would also now be of that view. The honourable senator would be aware that the Government is very conscious of the heavy burden of transport costs which are borne by residents of outlying areas and of the effect this has on production costs and on the normal amenities that people in those places ought to enjoy. As the honourable senator would know, my colleague the Deputy Prime Minister indicated recently, in answering a question, that the Government, when preparing for the recent Budget, had considered proposals for the re-introduction of an equalisation scheme. However, because of the current stringent circumstances the proposals for such a scheme, like many others, had to be rejected. As my colleague the Deputy Prime Minister said also, it is expected that they will be considered again when circumstances permit.
– My question, which is directed to the Minister for Industry and Commerce, follows previous questions about the general employment and industrial situation at Whyalla and, in particular, the deputation from the City of Whyalla Corporation which met the Minister. I am informed that during that meeting the Minister undertook to discuss matters raised by the deputation with his colleague the Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs and that there would be departmental discussions in respect of the general situation and a proposed visit to Whyalla. I ask the Minister Have those matters which were mutually considered by him and the deputation been attended to? Has there been a visit by departmental officers?
-Senator Bishop, Senator Jessop and other South Australian senators from both sides of the chamber have taken an active interest in this matter. I acknowledge that. I have met on two occasions with groups from Whyalla, the last group led by the Mayor. Following that I considered that it would be very helpful if it were arranged for a group of officials to go to Whyalla. It was arranged for senior officials from my Department, the Department of Social Security and the Department of Employment and Industrial Relations to visit Whyalla. They went to Whyalla. They had a very useful series of meetings. They met many citizens. When they came back they produced a good report. It was sent to my colleagues. It has been studied by me. It is now being looked at with a view to seeing what we can do in an overall sense to help. Accordingly, we are well on the way with that. It is in the hands of other departments at the moment, but I have done my work on it. We have also written today to say to the people in Whyalla how much we appreciate the cooperation we got in our inquiries.
– My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs. I refer to a report in the Age of 7 September 1977 which details some confusion regarding the access of International Red Cross to East Timor. Is the Minister aware that the return of International Red Cross is delayed by reason of the failure of the Indonesian Government to approve the conditions for entry? Has the Minister made any recent representations to the Indonesian Government on the subject and can the Minister disclose any information as to when the International Red Cross will be allowed access to East Timor?
-I have no information on that matter in my brief but I will seek it from my colleague in the other place.
-My question is directed to the Minister representing the Treasurer. It is not a question relating to a matter of speculation but a question of fact. The facts to which I refer are the figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics showing that employment opportunities in the private sector of the economy are continuing on a downward trend with private employment decreasing by 1 1,400 in the month of July. Is this an example of the private sector taking up the slack, or when can we expect the election promises of the Government to improve private business confidence and slash unemployment to be realised? What does the Government propose to counteract this continuing deterioration of job opportunities in the private sector?
-I have seen these ABS figures. I do not have them with me, but substantially I think the honourable senator’s comment is an accurate one. I think he might have read the other comments that were attached to them. They were not the comments of the ABS but they were constructional comments that there has been a tendency for employment to rise in the State government areas, to be holding fairly steady in the areas of the Commonwealth and to be slack in the private sector. That is what one would have expected to happen out of the massive inflation and lack of confidence that took place in Australia. Equally, we have always believed that it would take some time for employment to recover. We thought that it would take time after there had been an improvement in inflation, which we now think is happening. This has been the Government’s strategy as explained on many occasions. We are as disturbed about it as is anybody else, but I think it can be said that at least we are trying to do something about it.
- Mr President, I have a supplementary question. My question was not related to the fact that it might take some time for employment to recover. My question was related to the fact that employment was getting worse. In view of the election promise that 200,000 would be slashed from the unemployment figure upon the election of this Government, I ask: What does the Minister now say about the figures to which I referred?
– The honourable senator may ask questions; I may give answers. My answer said that employment will take some time to recover.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Social Security. The Minister will be aware that there are no Russian language social security information pamphlets available through the Department of Social Security. In the light of the significant size of the Russian community in Australia, particularly in Adelaide, and the fact that numerically it approximates the size of other communities already catered for by the Department, can the Minister indicate whether an early remedy to this problem is contemplated?
– Social security publications are printed in a number of languages and we are constantly assessing the need for additions to the languages that are used for our leaflets and other information. It has been assessed at this stage that there is not sufficient justification for printing the whole range of the Department’s leaflets in the Russian language. We believe that there would be justification for printing in Russian the leaflet ‘Know Your Social Security’. This leaflet gives a broad outline of the programs, pensions, benefits and services that are available. We will be considering the issue of this leaflet in the Russian language when we are arranging for the next printing of it. We will constantly review the situation to determine whether any wider dissemination of information in the Russian language would be beneficial, but at present I can give an assurance that we are contemplating the printing in Russian of the leaflet Know Your Social Security’ when the next reprinting is undertaken.
– I address a question to the Minister representing the Treasurer. I refer to the Prime Minister’s electorate talk of 18 September in which he asserted that the rate of inflation is now 9.2 per cent, as measured by what he said is ‘technically called the implicit price deflator’. Is it a fact that the 9.2 per cent figure used by the Prime Minister on Sunday evening was calculated on seasonally adjusted quarterly figures for the gross domestic product- namely, the June quarter of 1976 over the June quarter of 1977? Is the Minister aware of the serious reservations that the Australian Bureau of Statistics has expressed as recently as this month on page 3 of its document headed Quarterly Estimates of National Income and Expenditure’ about the reliability and consistency of the interpretation of quarterly based data? In any event, is the Minister aware that the implicit price deflator for the gross domestic product calculated on annual figures- namely, 1976-77 over 1975-76- is in fact 11.3 per cent, which is over two full percentage points higher than the contrived figure used by the Prime Minister last Sunday?
-The Deputy Leader of the Opposition has asked a very long and involved technical question. Implicit price deflators are things of which I do not have a great amount of knowledge. People are using all sons of figures and drawing all sorts of conclusions from those figures. I have consistently stated that the best thing to do in an inflationary situation is to measure the position according to the long term trends. I suggest a 12-month period, taking the figures for the period from June to June or December to December. When one does that a clear pattern emerges. People will always construct their own interpretations around that and very often they will do so to try to distort or destroy the situation. I cannot be any more helpful, but I can ask for an answer to be prepared for me which explains the difference between the various areas of calculation. That ought to be done. I have not read the calculations and figures of the Australian Bureau of Statistics, but I will certainly try to do so. I have always found in these areas an immense variation between the views of all kinds of commentators, predictors and experts. I have always chosen to take a longer view in order to try to be accurate.
-Is the Minister for Education aware of the continuing concern of many Australians about the state of health and nutrition among Aboriginal people, especially Aboriginal children? Can the Minister tell the Senate whether any recent steps have been taken in the field of education to improve Aboriginal health and nutrition, especially in the Northern Territory?
– Yes, cut down the cash. That is the way you help them.
-Senator Cavanagh would have some experience of that, having been Minister for Aboriginal Affairs. We do not draw upon that negative experience at all. As I understand it, Senator Lajovic has asked a question regarding the general state of health and nutrition of Aboriginal children in the Northern Territory and whether any steps are being taken to improve their health and nutrition. The matter, of course, is one of conjoint action between the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, the Minister for Health and myself as Minister for Education. Since the schools are a focal point in which there is congregated a very significant number of Aboriginal people and since health and nutrition are related so much not only to the education of the day but also to the long term future the school itself is quite vital.
The fact is that, as all honourable senators know, the Aboriginal children have inherited from European civilisation a number of quite challenging illnesses, particularly upper respiratory tract infections, middle ear diseases and suppurating ears. They have inherited from us, I suppose, malnutrition in the sense that they have gone from their high protein diets to other diets. They have inherited also impetigo, scabies and other infestations. Apart from anything else, it means that the child so suffering is ill-equipped to be responsive to education and of course unequipped to enjoy the experience of living. That has to be viewed against the background that alcohol has played considerable havoc within many Aboriginal families. I acknowledge that this problem is being faced. One of the real problems is that the children often come to school illequipped. We are taking a lot of measures within schools themselves, in the general treatment of the obvious diseases, in attempts at disinfesting, in trying to provide Oslo type luncheons and in general ablutions for both the children and their clothing. I have had discussions with representatives of the Department of Health in recent times in an endeavour to see whether we can get going a pilot scheme of involving trained nursing sisters moving from school to school and carrying out a screening of the Aboriginal children. We must bear in mind that what we are doing is trying to create not only a currently healthy generation of children but also a generation of children who will take into their homes a knowledge of health and hygiene for the future. The question which the honourable senator asks is of profound importance in education and in general welfare.
– Is the Minister representing the Treasurer aware of the series of upheavals and reversals in the field of economic policy in recent months, particularly the ambiguity of the Government’s taxation measures, tax averaging for farmers, the reversal of an earlier commitment to full tax indexation and uncertainty over the proposed resource tax and exchange rates? In view of all these matters, I ask the Minister to give us some small indication that he actually knows what is going on in the economy by providing us with revised estimates of personal income tax receipts now to be expected in the 1977-78 financial year.
-I will give the honourable senator a small indication; please put the question on notice.
-I address my question to the Minister for Education. The fact that the Minister is opening a further stage in the development of the Kormilda Aboriginal College in Darwin this coming weekend and the fact that the Ti Tree school in the Northern Territory is to be used as an Aboriginal teachers training college indicate a growing awareness of the necessity for an expanded program of Aboriginal education. However, taking into consideration the number of new schools constructed for Aborigines, the Church mission schools taken over by government and the Northern Territory urban schools now considered as Aboriginal schools, is the Government giving urgent attention to increasing the number of Aboriginal teachers for these schools? Will the Government actively continue to encourage Aboriginals to become teachers’ aides to assist European teachers with the ultimate aim of replacing many European teachers by Aboriginal teachers, particularly in the isolated areas of the Northern Territory? Having in mind the national Aboriginal employment policies being developed by the Government and having due regard to possible staff ceilings within the Department of Education, will the Government ensure that the soul destroying concept of unemployment benefitssit down money’ as it is recognised by Aboriginal people- is removed by giving impetus to the training of Aboriginal teachers?
-That raises quite a string of questions involving detailed answers. It is true that on Sunday next I will be privileged to open some massive extensions- some excellent extensionsto the Kormilda College, the residential Aboriginal college in Darwin. It is one of three Aboriginal colleges. The Kormilda College in Darwin, the Dhupuma College in Gove and the Yirara College in Alice Springs provide a basic residential college atmosphere for Aborigines. It is true that with new schools being developed there is a need for both Aboriginal teachers and teachers aides. The honourable senator will know that at Batchelor Teacher Training College now there is in existence an extension- a refinement- of training of Aboriginal teachers, as distinct from teacher aides. I think some 60 teacher trainees have been enrolled at Batchelor. We have already graduated Aboriginals with full teaching qualifications. They are members of the Commonwealth Teaching Service. It is, of course, devoutly to be desired in all professions that the Aborigines should be encouraged to seek and obtain qualifications even under some pretty profound difficulties. It is true that we are developing Ti Tree School as a complex for both pre-school and in-service training for Aboriginal teaching aides. I think we now have some 260 teaching aides. I hope that as the future emerges we will be training more of them to take over from European teachers.
The fundamental question which the honourable senator raised was the last one, that is, the relationship between education itself in the schools and colleges and the ultimate purpose in life of the Aborigine. There is the choice between traditional life on the one hand and, with what equipment we can give them without damaging their own cultures, transition into our own cultures. It is true that however magnificent Kormilda or Yirara might be, however much we ought to upgrade Dhupuma, we have not as yet succeeded in establishing effective ways of helping the Aborigine to transfer from school to meaningful and permanent work. That is something that is now part of a major policy of the Government. It is something that I will be concentrating on in the weeks ahead.
– My question, which is directed to the Minister for Social Security, arises from the answer she gave to Senator Grimes yesterday. Did the Minister get an indication of the slave camps at Brisbane, Queensland, as a result of a question by Mr Jull last May? As a result of that question, was any investigation made into the particular establishment? How long did the investigation take and what was the result of that investigation? Has the Department done nothing? Was the visit by the police to the establishment this week a result of a request from the Department? Why did it take four months for the Department to act? Will the Department now look at all establishments where a number of pensioners are accommodated to see that there is no repetition of this situation and to ensure that pensioners are properly treated in such establishments?
- Senator Cavanagh has asked several questions which require precise information with regard to dates and times and things of that sort. If that question is placed on notice I shall see that the answer is provided. But I do want to draw the distinction between the incident this week in Brisbane when Commonwealth and State police raided some premises and the subject of the question which was placed on notice. The people referred to in the question placed on notice were not the people associated with the police raid of this week. However, if the questions which have been asked are placed on notice I shall have the information provided.
-Mr President, I wish to ask a supplementary question. Will the Minister, without notice, reply to my question as to whether she would be prepared to investigate other establishments?
– We have, as a Department, the welfare of pensioners very much in our minds. If we found that a number of warranty arrangements were being made by a single person or from a single address we certainly would have an interest in seeing that the welfare of the pensioners was preserved. It should be understood that in many instances this could involve a registered nursing home or some other place where a number of pensioners who are unable to deal with their own affairs may have either through the power of the Director-General or in some other way, entered into an arrangement by which their pension may be paid to another person. We would certainly follow through in whatever way we are able any information that suggested that the welfare of pensioners was not being preserved.
– My question also is directed to the Minister for Social Security. Has the Minister seen the claim by the Tasmanian Minister for Health, Mr Lowe, that the Federal Government has not given to Tasmania the estimated $108,000 from the 1976-77 Budget to be applied to senior citizens centres under the States Grants (Home Care) Act? Can the Minister throw some light on this statement?
– The senior citizens centres program was a 3-year program with funds to be allocated in each of the three years to the various States. As far as I am aware, any funds that were allocated to Tasmania last year are available. If they were not claimed in that year because buildings had not proceeded to the stage where the States were able to use the funds, they will be available this year. In the 1977-78 Budget the Tasmanian allocation is $151,378. This is available for three centres- Clarence, Lilydale and Kingbrough. Under the 3-year program, in respect of any commitments that have been made in the three separate years funds are available when the States or other authorities call for them. The 3-year program is one that has enabled a number of applications to be approved and all approvals that have been given will be upheld.
-My question to the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs concerns assistance provided to Australian nationals by our consulate in Jakarta. I draw the Minister’s attention to the recent case of an Australian male who was injured while riding a motor cycle in Denpasar. He was admitted to the local hospital but the treatment given to him was not adequate and he arrived in Australia with a gangrene infection in his leg. The leg has now been amputated. Would the Minister not agree that there are three disturbing features of the incident? The first is the inadequacy of the treatment given and about which I imagine we can do little despite the fact that Indonesian nationals in Australia receive the same high quality care as do Australians? Secondly, the young man’s persistent requests, while in hospital, to contact the Australian consular authorities were denied by the hospital authorities. Thirdly, the consulate staff was not advised of the accident or, if it was, it took no action in a clear case of an Australian in distress. In view of the large numbers of Australians visiting Bali and other parts of Indonesia, will the Minister take urgent steps to ensure that the Indonesian authorities abide by the recognised international agreements for consular access to distressed expatriates or, if this cannot be achieved, warn Australians of the dangers they may face by visiting that country?
-I know of no complaint that has come forth that our Australian representatives overseas are not able to carry out their consular duties. I will ask my colleague, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, to ascertain whether there has been a complaint. As to the first matterthe inadequacy of treatment- I suppose one must take a country as one finds it when one goes there as a visitor, not as one would like it to be. I would hope that anybody coming to Australia would received the same standard of care as any Australian receives. Likewise, if one goes abroad one cannot expect to receive treatment other than that which is provided for the nationals of that country. As to the second part of the question, I will also seek information on that from my colleague in the other place.
-I preface my question to the Minister representing the Minister for Transport by saying that the Minister no doubt will remember that I have asked him on several occasions questions relating to the upgrading of Hobart Airport so that international flights to New Zealand could travel via Tasmania and to Ansett Airlines of Australia and Trans-Australia Airlines being allowed to fly from Hobart to New Zealand. I now ask: If the Government is not yet prepared to allow scheduled flights through Hobart, will it take up with the New Zealand Government the possibility of allowing charter flights to travel through Tasmania? Further, until such time as regular flights are routed through Tasmania, will the Minister ask the international airlines which travel to New Zealand to introduce a special fare for Tasmanians who go to New Zealand. This would compensate for their need to fly to Melbourne, and then from Melbourne to Tasmania on return, almost backtracking when they travel en route to New Zealand, especially when travelling to some of the southern New Zealand cities? In other words, will the Minister ask the airlines to base their fares more on the distance between the Tasmanian cities and New Zealand destinations rather than on the distance required to be flown due to the fact that Tasmania does not have an international airport?
– The Senate will be well aware of Senator Townley ‘s continuing and keen interest both in the upgrading of Hobart Airport as a goal in itself and, in so doing, achieving international travel by international airlines, specifically between Tasmania and New Zealand. I have made a point of referring previous questions asked by the honourable senator to my colleague in another place. He has now asked a number of questions relating to the possibility of charter flights by international airlines and the possibility of special fares based on distance. Those are, certainly to me, new concepts and ones which will need examination. I will draw them to the attention of the Minister for Transport and ask him to study them and give the honourable senator a response.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Environment, Housing and Community Development. Am I correct in saying that in the proceedings of Estimates Committee C the Minister and his officers asserted that the present environmental impact statement code is the same as under Ministers Cass and Berinson? If the answer is in the affirmative, can the Minister assure me that the residual powers of the Government in relation to the banning of exports where environmental procedures are not followed have been retained? I say by way of postscript that I have no real doubts about State governments of either the Minister’s or my political complexion, I am thinking of another Premier who is neither Liberal nor Labor.
– My understanding is that the ingredients of the environmental impact study remain unchanged. Should there be any qualification to that I will seek the information and let the honourable senator know. If I understood the second part of his question correctly, the honourable senator asked whether the power to ban exports still remains. That is a power which is inherent and entrenched inside the Commonwealth Constitution. The power over exports- over overseas trade- is a permanent and enduring power of any Commonwealth government and is therefore available to any Commonwealth government for use at any time as a means of enforcing its impact studies.
– I ask a supplementary question. Since Senator Carrick is different from Senator Withers and reads the newspapers every morning, I wonder whether he has read page 1 of this morning’s Australian Financial Review and can assure that newspaper that its fears on the question of export bans are misplaced?
-No, I have not read it this morning. Although I am not a Western Australian, I have not read the Australian Financial Review this morning but I will certainly do so. I would be surprised if anybody in Australia found anything controversial about the constitutional power of the Commonwealth over exports. I think the Attorney-General, who is an eminent lawyer, is helping me by nodding his head. However, like honourable senators opposite, I am not allowed to ask his opinion. If there is one bipartisan understanding in this Senate and in Australia it is that the Commonwealth has power over exports and can use it if it wishes to enforce its policies, whether on environment or on other matters.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Education and arises, in a way, from the question asked by Senator Mulvihill. I ask: Has the Minister read the Sydney Morning Herald this morning? Has he read an article in it headed: ‘Carrick Denies Program Cuts’, dealing with the adult migrant education program? Is it true that the Sydney Morning Herald’s education reporter again confirms her original report in yesterday’s Herald that there has been a 5.8 per cent cut in real terms in Commonwealth funds to the New South Wales Adult Migrant Education Service? Will the Minister clarify the situation and again set out the true position with respect to the Commonwealth’s generous treatment of the New South Wales Adult Migrant Education Service?
-It shows my subjective interest in my own State that I can claim that I read the Sydney Morning Herald this morning. I have in front of me an extract which says: Carrick Denies Program Cuts’. I have read the reporter’s further comments. The reporter has based her continuing error on a lack of knowledge. She assumes that the figure of $3.09m is a figure that is not subject to supplementary estimates to allow for cost escalation, national wage cases and other wage determinations. That in fact is not true. She looks towards the cut in migrant funding by taking inflation as the eroder The fact is that that figure will not be $3.09m at the end of this financial year but will be a figure substantially larger, supplemented to meet cost escalation. Therefore, the figure will be such as to underline my former statement that the amount of money available to New South Wales will be at least equal in real purchasing power to the money last year.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations. I ask: Have instructions been issued to the Commonwealth Employment Service office at Northam in Western Australia, and presumably to other CES offices, prohibiting STD calls from that office concerning employment possibilities? If so, why has the instruction been issued? Could such a prohibition seriously impair the efficiency of CES offices by cutting off telephone contact with surrounding areas?
– I do not have any information at hand with which I could answer the question that was asked by Senator Walsh. I will refer the question to the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations and endeavour to obtain an early answer from him.
-I direct a question to the Minister for Administrative Services who is responsible for the National Library of Australia which deals with the Canberra Public Library Service. I preface my question by saying that I know the Minister is aware of proposals to close four children’s libraries in Canberra on 30 September and of concern expressed about this by many people. As the proposed closure of these libraries is only eight days away and in view of representations that have been made, I ask the Minister: Is there any prospect of maintaining the libraries and the services that they provide to the children of Canberra?
-As the honourable senator would know, I have been concerned for some time about the position relating to the children’s libraries. Representations have been made to me by the Chairman of the Canberra Public Library Service, the Honourable Mr Justice Else-Mitchell, by Senator Knight and by Mr Haslem. I am happy to report that, as a result of representations I have made to the Public Service Board with a view to having the staff ceiling arrangements altered to provide for the continued employment of four part time workers at the children’s libraries at Lyneham, O’Connor, Narrabundah and Red Hill, I have been informed that the Board has agreed to my request. As a result, the four libraries can continue to operate. I should like to thank the Public Service Board, Senator Knight and Mr Haslem for their great and continuing interest in this matter.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Prime Minister. Has the Australian Government received reports about increased military activities in Irian Jaya? Is the Papua New Guinea Government or the Indonesian Government informing the Australian Government of what is happening? Are reports correct that up to 1,500 people have crossed the border from Irian Jaya into the Sepik River district? Can the Minister advise the Senate of the current position?
-Did the honourable senator ask me the question in my capacity as Minister representing the Foreign Minister or Minister representing the Prime Minister?
– I asked you the question as the Minister representing the Prime Minister.
-I will certainly seek the information from my colleague the Prime Minister, if he has it. Otherwise I will seek it from my colleague the Foreign Minister.
-I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs. It follows on the question asked by Senator Tehan about fuel equalisation and I ask it bearing in mind that this Government desires to treat all Australians as equitably as possible. I relate my question also to another matter which disadvantages residents in remote areas, namely, the imposition of stamp duty. The disadvantage is that stamp duty is paid on the cost of freight which adds considerably to the price of articles in remote areas. Will the Minister undertake to consider this matter?
-I do not think that stamp duty as such really comes within the -
– It relates to sales tax.
– Apparently it relates to sales tax. I am aware of the concern which has been expressed over many years by people in remote areas of Australia about the effect of sales tax on the total cost of the goods in the area in which they live. It results in additional freight costs and so on. However, I think that the matter really comes under the jurisdiction of the Treasurer rather than the Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs. As the question has been asked of me I will undertake to refer it to the Treasurer.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Treasurer. In view of the disastrous increase in unemployment in this country- it is expected to rise to more than 420,000 people by early 1978, a trend which is shown clearly on page 15 of Treasury document 56 headed ‘The round-up of the economic statistics for September’- is there any truth in the report that the Government has accepted the need for a $100m job creation program? If so, why is the Government procrastinating in the implementation of this program while increasing numbers of people, especially young men and women, are being thrown out of work or are unable to find jobs? Why was there not any mention of such a plan in the Budget? Is the Government merely using the proposal as a pre-election ploy?
– A while ago I was reading the Standing Orders which relate to the asking of questions. There is no doubt that we are making holes right through the middle of them most of the time. But that does not matter. Questons have contained imputations, assertions and inferences and have also sought answers on matters of policy. But I am anxious to be helpful. The Government has expressed long ago its great concern with unemployment. It has stated where the problem began. Honourable senators opposite know that themselves. It is very difficult to wind in the rate of unemployment. The Government has also stated that. The prime attack has been on inflation. The Government is very concerned about unemployment. It has taken a number of measures to try to create employment, and will continue to do so. Its policy measures will be announced when they are ready and the Senate will hear about them, I hope, before the newspapers.
– Will the Minister for Industry and Commerce advise the Senate whether the Government has an attitude to the suggestion of employment subsidies being used as a substitute for curbs on imports? If so, what is that attitude and what effect will it have on the future of the Australian manufacturing industries?
-The honourable senator obviously has read the newspapers this morning. They contain references to a report of the Industries Assistance Commission dealing with the ball bearing industry which suggests that an alternative to the use of quotas might well be some form of subsidy. It is suggested in the newspaper cutting that I read- I have not yet read the report-that tariffs should be held at higher levels for a period and that some subsidy should be granted. That is always an alternative method of handling the problem. The Government will take the report seriously and will look at what is stated in it as an alternative. The ball bearing industry is in a problem state; we know that. We are very concerned about it. There are all kinds of alternative methods by which one tries to hold the employment situation. They include tariff situations, quota situations, import licensing and import restraint. These are the arrangements one uses. It is very interesting that whatever one does to try to hold employment in this country at a satisfactory level, one receives practically no support from the general level of public commentators.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs. I preface my question by observing that although Mr Ellicott has departed from the Ministry, his influence obviously lingers in the appropriation for the Department of Aboriginal Affairs. The bleak picture of cuts in funds for Aboriginals is relieved by one item. The provision for telexes and telegrams is increased by $ 17,000. 1 therefore ask the Minister whether the Department, at least, is anticipating an early election?
– Order! I have endeavoured to be patient in Question Time, as at all other times, but too many questions are being directed to Ministers on matters outside their responsibility. In many instances questions are too long and replies are often too long. A moment ago the Minister for Industry and Commerce said that there was a breach of Standing Orders in the question asked by Senator McLaren. I would be grateful, if that is the estimation of an honourable senator, for a point of order to be taken. Honourable senators should not seek information other than that which the Minister can give in his area of responsibility.
– My question is directed either to the Minister representing the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations or to the Minister representing the Minister for Defence. I ask: Is the Minister aware that Army helicopter pilots are being employed to operate a commercial helicopter service between Townsville airport and Nellie Bay on Magnetic Island? Is he aware also that professional civilian pilots are being kept out of work by this practice and that the use of Army pilots is probably contrary to Army regulations? Will the Minister say whether he agrees with the practice, particularly in view of the current number of unemployed? If not, what action will he take to rectify the matter immediately?
-I take it that the honourable senator is asserting that pilots are doing this work out of hours; not that they are using Army helicopters.
– The commercial service has sacked one of its pilots.
– Are they Army helicopters also?
-I wanted to get the question right because I thought for a moment that the honourable senator was asking whether the defence forces were, in fact, running a commercial service.
-A bit of moonlighting.
-I think Senator Button has used the correct expression.
– Like a lot of people in Canberra.
-A lot of people moonlight in this place, even members of Parliament. It is a pity they do not go back to their moonlighting occupations where they would be more useful to the community. I think the queston is important. I will certainly ask my colleague, the Minister for Defence, to give me an early reply.
– My question is directed to Senator Cotton in his capacities as Minister representing the Treasurer and Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry. I refer to the recent statement by those Ministers on tax averaging. I therefore ask the Minister: Why did the Government fail to follow in full the other recommendations put to the Government by the Industries Assistance Commission on the matter of tax averaging? Further, in view of the plight of many small businesses in Australia, has the Government given any consideration to the strong invitation by the Commission to make available to all individual taxpayers the income equalisation deposits scheme and tax averaging?
-The answer to the first part of the question is that it demonstrates that the Government is entitled to accept, reject or set aside for the time being the advice of the Industries Assistance Commission. I have not read that report for quite a while but as the honourable senator said, it refers to the application of the income equalisation deposits scheme for the general community and to tax averaging for other people. Mr Lynch, in answer to a question in the House, indicated that the Government, whilst considering these matters, did not see its way clear to introducing them at the present time. This is not a closed matter. It is open all the time to investigation. The general process of thinking this matter through is still being undertaken.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Social Security and refers to the
Dremmel family, of which 1 am sure the Minister is well aware- a family with many children and many problems. As the Minister has now widened eligibility for the handicapped children’s allowance to assist low income families, does she envisage this extending to families like the Dremmel family which has children with heart troubles, asthma and other physical problems? Are there any situations where such a family in which the father is working can receive special benefit under the discretion available to the Director-General of Social Services, or is special benefit merely restricted in all cases to families which have almost no income?
– The Government recently widened the eligibility for the handicapped child’s allowance. As we are talking about one particular family, I inform the Senate that if any member of that family were able to be considered for the handicapped child’s allowance under the new criteria it would certainly be open to the family to apply and the DirectorGeneral could consider whether the child fell within the new terms of that allowance. Let me answer the more general questions with regard to special benefit. It is a benefit that is payable at the discretion of the Director-General to people who need special assistance from the Government. In most cases, because of the income test, it has been restricted to people who are not working or who may be in such circumstances that their income is so low that they can be paid a special benefit. I know that the Director-General takes many factors into account when he is considering an application for special benefit. I can assure the Senate that each case that comes before his notice is given very special attention. However, I would assure Senator Grimes that any children in the family which he mentioned who may be eligible for the handicapped child’s allowance could be considered if an application were received.
- Mr President, honourable senators will recall that during Question Time Senator Jessop asked me a question concerning correspondence between the Premier of South Australia and the Prime Minister. I have since been able to obtain the following information. The Prime Minister has received a letter from the South Australian Premier, who has raised certain matters relating to the Redcliff petrochemical project. The matter is being examined by Commonwealth officials. They are meeting South Australian Government officials in Adelaide today to discuss particular details of the project. The matter will be considered by the Government as soon as the special study has been completed.
The honourable senator will also recall that, as announced in the Budget, the $2 per barrel excise levy will not apply to liquefied petroleum gas from fields not yet in production, nor will it apply to condensate marketed separately from a crude oil stream. Such condensate may be sold at commercially negotiated prices. Of course, as the honourable senator would know, these decisions will naturally assist the Cooper Basin. As the honourable senator would further know, and as would be known particularly by Senator Messner, who has a very deep interest in taxation measures, the Government has also announced that it has extended the investment allowance for two years and, in respect of major projects, has decided to provide long term assurances of freedom from future adverse changes to controls on overseas borrowings subject to certain conditions. As honourable senators will realise, those measures should also enhance the prospects for the total project.
– For the information of honourable senators I present the annual report of the Australian Shippers Council for the year ended 30 June 1977.
– For the information of honourable senators I present an agreement to establish an Omega navigation facility in Australia.
– For the information of honourable senators, I present the report of the Indicative Planning Council for the Housing Industry for 1977-78 to 1979-80.
Senator DURACK (Western AustraliaAttorneyGeneral) For the information of honourable senators, I present the report of the Committee of Inquiry into Trade Union Training.
– For the information of honourable senators, I present the report of the Committee of Inquiry into the Bureau of Meteorology. I seek leave to make a statement relating to this report.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
-The Committee was established in August 1975 under the chairmanship of Captain P. W. Howson, formerly Deputy General Manager of Qantas Airways Ltd. It was asked to examine and make recommendations on the functions and activities of the Bureau and, in particular, on the value and level of services which the Bureau should provide. Captain Howson was assisted in his task by Dr J. L. Farrands,Chief Defence Scientist of the Department of Defence, and Sir William Vines, Chairman of Dalgety Australia Ltd. The Government recognised that developments in satellites, computers and communications technology are having a significant impact on the science of meteorology and that demands for new and improved meteorological services are increasing as a result of greater environmental awareness in the community.
The decision to review Australia’s meteorological services is consistent with the Government’s commitment to ensure that public services are provided efficiently and effectively at a level which meets the contemporary needs of the community. The first step in this review was the issuing by the Government of the Green Paper entitled ‘Towards New Perspectives for Australian Meteorological Services’, which I tabled on 18 February 1976. The Committee drew on the responses to that Green Paper as a basis for its deliberations and in addition itself undertook further wide ranging consultations in the community.
The Committee has drawn particular attention to the widespread applications of meteorology in modern society and to the growing demands from many quarters for new and expanded meteorological services. It has reported a high degree of community satisfaction with the services provided by the Bureau. The Committee advises that these demands have placed increasing strains upon the Bureau, and the thrust of the
Committee’s report is to suggest how these strains might be eased. Particular proposals include: Improved definition of the Bureau’s task; broader community influence in deciding priorities for the development of services; means by which demand can be disciplined; and improved organisation and management of various tasks. The Government has given preliminary consideration to the Committee’s report and has accepted several major recommendations. Implementation of these will provide a firm basis for the further in-depth study that will be required before final decisions on the other recommendations are made.
As recommended by the Committee, the Bureau will continue as part of a Department rather than as an independent statutory authority. The Government agrees with the Committee’s view that the breadth and complexity of the Bureau’s contacts with the public, with industry and with State and Commonwealth instrumentalities, make it essential that the policy making process be opened up. The recommendation to establish a Meteorological Policy Committee is therefore accepted. This Committee will advise me on the Bureau’s forward program, and will initiate reviews of on-going Bureau programs. The Committee will consult with State officials as appropriate. The membership of the Committee will be the Permanent Head of the Department of Science, the Director of Meteorology and four other persons having a knowledge of the applications of meteorology or other special qualifications and who will bring a broad, outside view to the formal processes of deciding priorities in this field. I will be announcing shortly the names of the Committee members.
Some of the Committee’s recommendations have implications for public and State authorities. The Government has deferred taking decisions on these in order that the full implications might be studied in consultation with those likely to be affected. In particular we will be weighing carefully, in consultation with all concerned, the recommendation that responsibility for flood forecasting and fire danger prediction be transferred to State authorities.
I conclude by placing on record my appreciation of the valuable work done by the Committee of Inquiry. I recognise too that the Committee could not have succeeded in its task without the co-operation and assistance of individuals and State and public authorities who contributed views and information either in response to the Green Paper or as input direct to the Committee. Copies of the report will be available to the public in a few weeks.
-by leave-I should like to endorse what has just been said by Senator Devitt. It seems to me that this is a very appropriate time to raise the matter. This is the sort of report in respect of which one would expect there to be differentiation. A lot of reports come in here which are not going to be debated at any stage at all but there are others that have a public interest at the time when they come in. Maybe some notice of them could be given to honourable senators a day or so in advance so that there could be a short and restricted debate on the subject of interest. So often we see reports or masses of reports recorded on the Notice Paper on which senators have sought leave to continue their remarks and which are later wiped off the Notice Paper. Perhaps there is no interest in reviving them or no time to do so in the busy program towards the end of the session. It seems to me that what has been suggested by Senator Devitt ought to be very carefully considered. It would make for more appropriate debate on matters currently of interest. I agree with him that often we have debates here which regurgitate an earlier situation. A debate on a Bill is often used as an excuse for raising some completely different subject. I think that debates which were directed shortly to current reports like this one would be more useful to the Senate and to the community. We would be assured of having some discussion of a particular subject at the relevant time. I support Senator Devitt and hope that something will be done about the situation.
-by leave- I ask the Minister for Science whether he could give the Senate some indication as to the State representation on the Committee that he is establishing on the recommendation of this report. The Minister said:
The membership of the Committee will be the Permanent Head of the Department of Science, the Director of Meteorology and four other persons having a knowledge of . . .
In view of the fact that we have six States, I ask the Minister which States will not be represented or has the Minister made some provision for them to have access to the Committee?
Senator WEBSTER (Victoria-Minister for Science)- by leave- The report, when carefully read, will indicate that there is no suggestion that there be mandatory State representation on that Committee. Basically the members would be selected for their competence and their ability to advise the Minister and the Government on the way in which meteorological services should be delivered to the public. That by no means would exclude the possibility of somebody coming from a State instrumentality or a State governmentde- partment.Iacknowledgethecommentthatthe honorablesenatorhasmade.Iwillbearitin mindintheselectionofthevariouspeoplewho willcomeontothatCommittee.Imove:
That the debate be now adjourned and that the adjourned debate be made an Order of the Day for the next day of sitting.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– In accordance with the provisions of the Public Works Committee Act 1969,I present the reports relating to the following proposed works:
Motion (by Senator Withers) agreed to:
That, unless otherwise ordered, the Senate, at its rising, adjourn till Tuesday, 4 October 1977, at half-past 2 p.m., or such other day and hour as may be fixed by the President, or in the event of the President being unavailable owing to illness or other cause, by the Chairman of Committees, and that the day and hour of meeting so determined shall be notified to each senator by telegram or letter.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Ordered that the Bill may be taken through all its stages without delay.
Bill (on motion by Senator Carrick) read a first time.
– ( 12.26) - I move:
With the co-operation of the Opposition I seek leave to have the text of the second reading speech incorporated in Hansard.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
The speech read as follows-
The main purpose of this Bill is to provide financial assistance by way of section 96 nonrepayable advances to the States for road construction and maintenance over the three financial years 1977-78 to 1979-80 inclusive. The Bill is a major item of legislation and involves a number of fairly complex issues. I have therefore arranged to have circulated to all senators an explanatory memorandum outlining the main principles of the legislation.
As honourable senators will know, the Commonwealth has made assistance available to the States for roads by way of non-repayable advances for a great many years. For the 3-year period ending 30 June this year, assistance was provided to the States for roads purposes under the National Roads Act and Roads Grants Act. Pending passage of the Bill now before the Senate, the States Grants (Roads Interim Assistance) Act 1977 was passed in the autumn session to cover advances to the States for the first three months of 1977-78 equal to one-quarter of the proposed 1977-78 allocation. The legislation now proposed will subsume the interim assistance arrangements.
The legislation now before the Senate provides for a basic grant in each of the three years of $475m. The States have been advised of the Government’s intention to maintain the basic grant to each State for 1978-79 and 1979-80 at an amount equivalent in real terms to 1977-78. Each State’s share of the indexed total grant will, of course, remain constant. The Government is proposing to give effect to this intention by adjusting the basic grant to allow for cost movements on an annual basis in line with movements in the national accounts’ implicit price deflator for private investment in ‘other building and construction’.
This adjustment may be varied on account of special factors which cannot presently be foreseen or which may not be adequately reflected in the proposed index. Details of this particular aspect are to be finalised in discussion with the States. These discussions will also be useful of course in helping to avoid any misunderstandings about the indexation arrangements in general. Generally I would not anticipate any drastic alterations to the adjustments derived by use of the price deflator proposed and the overall effect of the proposed arrangements will be a substantial basic guarantee to the States. Furthermore, I must also point out to the Senate that the proposed indexation arrangements will provide a guaranteed minimum. As the States already know through advice from the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser), the Commonwealth’s commitment is to provide funds at least equivalent in real terms to the 1977-78 allocations. The actual increase each year will need to be finalised in the light of the overall budgetary and economic situation.
Total funds to be appropriated for roads will be $ 1,425m, an increase of almost $200m above the grants provided in the triennium just ended. This is a very substantial effort on the part of the Government and it signifies our determination to stay with our proper responsibilities with regard to Australia’s road network. It is a particularly significant effort on our part when considered in the light of overall budgetary problems. The Government recognises the importance of adequate transport networks for the economic wellbeing of Australia and I should comment in passing that in addition to our funding for roads purposes we also have substantial commitments in relation to other transport modes which we are discharging responsibly. Honourable senators will probably be aware that at the February meeting of the Australian Transport Advisory Council the Minister for Transport (Mr Nixon) announced that the Government intended to make $475m available for road grants in 1977-78. At that time he also announced a number of significant policy initiatives on the part of the Commonwealth Government with regard to the areas in which we propose to concentrate our financial assistance. In particular, the Minister announced that the Commonwealth Government intended to ensure that its funds were made available for use by local authorities in such a way and to such an extent that the Commonwealth Government could not in the future be held out as responsible for inadequate road finance at this level. It was also made clear in the allocations which he proposed to the Australian Transport Advisory Council that we were committed to continue funding for the national highways network and the main rural arterial network, which is of course a key part of the inter-regional and inter-urban transport system.
This redirection of Commonwealth effort was in part based on recognition of the fact that support for urban arterial roads in the legislation just ended had, in our view, taken an excessive part of the total available Commonwealth funds. In fact, we informed the State governments that we were not prepared to continue providing a major part of funds for the construction of urban freeways at the expense of other road works. We are not abandoning urban transport as is evidenced by our decision to provide a further $51m to the States under the Urban Transport Agreement in 1 977-78. We recognise that in the cities a balanced approach to transport, including the use of public transport, is essential and we are pursuing vigorously with the State governments the problems which are faced in developing and improving these systems for the future.
Honourable senators should also be aware that since our return to office detailed and extended discussions have been held through the Australian Transport Advisory Council with the object of eliminating unnecessary complexity and intrusion on our part in the affairs of State governments in relation to transport matters. This is, of course, part of our wider approach in the development of a federalism policy designed to avoid the many areas of friction which characterised our predecessors arrangements.
I should comment that the allocations for 1977- 78 which are proposed in the Bill also reflect to an extent requests from State Ministers for changes to allocations which the Minister for Transport proposed to them at the Australian Transport Advisory Council. The allocations which are proposed in the schedules to the Bill to cover 1978-79 and 1979-80 will maintain the new thrust of Commonwealth funding to which I have already referred. However, the legislation will continue to contain provisions which will enable the Minister for Transport to approve requests from the States for transfers between road categories to meet, for example, changes in State road works priorities. Furthermore I should make it quite clear to the Senate that the Bill does not allocate the additional indexation funds for 1978- 79 and 1979-80 to particular road categories. Obviously the Parliament will in due course be asked to appropriate these extra funds and their allocation to the various road categories within each State.
I would now like to draw the attention of honourable senators to the main features of this
Bill. Firstly, in the interest of simplified administration the legislation is being presented as one Bill instead of two separate Acts similar to those which were in force up to 30 June last. State Ministers have welcomed this feature. In addition there will in future be no difference in the financial administration for national roads as compared with other road categories since pro rata advances will be made to the States for all road categories on a monthly basis. The present separate financial arrangements in respect of national highways will be discontinued. The Bill also provides that the only Ministers with administrative responsibilities will be the Minister for Transport and the Treasurer.
Of particular interest is our decision that the new legislation will continue the change introduced recently whereby payroll tax may be included as an eligible item of expenditure both from the Commonwealth grants and as a component of matching State quotas. This is consistent with the approach adopted in relation to Commonwealth grants in some other programs. The road categories which are specified in the legislation are as follows: National highways construction; national highways maintenance; national commerce road construction; rural arterial road construction; rural local road construction and maintenance; urban arterial road construction; urban local road construction and MITERS- the Minor Traffic Engineering and Road Safety Improvements program.
Honourable senators will be aware that these categories are similar to those of the previous legislation. There is, however, no longer a separate reference in the legislation to beef roads or developmental roads although beef roads will continue to be eligible for assistance. The categories export roads and major commercial roads have been replaced by the category national commerce roads.
The legislation will provide for State quotas of matching expenditure. The States are required to find from their own resources a minimum amount of roads expenditure in order to qualify for the Commonwealth funds. I wish to stress that this provides only a base below which State roads expenditure cannot fall. It does not in any way limit total State road expenditure. In fact senators should be aware that in recent years New South Wales has heavily exceeded its State quota. It is also important to note that under this legislation the States remain free to allocate their own funds to roads in accordance with their own priorities. The legislation also provides for a minimum quota each year for all States combined of $41 8.8m. It is intended to index the individual State quotas in line with any increases in the Commonwealth grant. The Commonwealth sees the road funds that it provides as supplementing rather than substituting for State finance. On this basis, we consider it reasonable that increases in the Commonwealth grant ought to be matched by increases in the matching State quotas.
The legislation continues to provide for the annual submission of programs to be carried out using Commonwealth funds for the approval of the Commonwealth Minister. In the case of local roads a program of allocations for road works can be submitted as an alternative to a program of projects. On the basis of discussions and agreement with State Ministers the Bill includes provision for the establishment of joint FederalState planning committees as a possible alternative to the system of program approval. Initially this provision can be used to establish planning committees for national roads but is capable of being used for other road categories if desired and agreed. It will be a matter for agreement between individual State Ministers and the Commonwealth Minister as to whether planning committees are to be adopted at all. In each case the conditions under which the alternative approach is adopted will be a matter for agreement between Ministers.
This legislation, unlike the previous legislation brought in by our predecessors, will not require the submission of all programs for urban arterials no matter how they are funded. The final feature of this Bill which I should draw to the attention of the Senate is the inclusion of a standard information clause. The information clause is intended to enable the collection of information consistent with Commonwealth purposes under the legislation. It does not permit wholesale intrusion Unto State affairs. Against this background honourable senators should note it is our intention to continue to work with State Governments on a co-operative and federal basis.
The explanatory notes I have circulated describe the main features of the Bill and I would not therefore propose to deal with individual sections in any detail. The important points for senators to note are the Parts II and III of the Bill contain the clauses necessary for program approval and payment of grants for national roads and other roads respectively. Part I sets out the usual definitions. Part IV specifies the general administrative machinery, appropriation clauses, provisions for reports, information and audit certification and so on. The schedules provide details of allocations to individual road categories within each State for each of the three years based on $475m. Quota details are also included in the schedules. I commend the Bill to the Senate.
Debate (on motion by Senator Keeffe) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 21 September on motion by Senator Guilfoyle:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
-Mr President, I am under the impression that the Appropriation (Urban Public Transport) Bill 1977 and the States Grants (Roads) Bill 1977 are to be dealt with cognately?
– Yes, with the approval of the Senate we will do that.
-Obviously there is no objection to that course being followed. I want to refer to a number of points in both of the Bills but I will refer first of all to the Appropriation (Urban Public Transport) Bill, the purpose of which is to appropriate $30.3 lm to the States for upgrading urban public transport under the terms of the Urban Public Transport Agreement. I have a couple of tables. They are not controversial. I should have sought the permission of the Minister for Education (Senator Carrick) earlier in respect of their incorporation but if there are no objections I will, when I get to the appropriate stage in the debate, seek their incorporation.
The Opposition does not oppose either of the Bills, but in reference to the Appropriation (Urban Public Transport) Bill, the second-and I suspect the last- Lynch Budget appropriates $51m to the States for urban public transport projects. This means that the remaining $20.69m will come from existing appropriations. That is, nearly half the money allocated for urban public transport in this year’s Budget will have been allocated in previous years. The allocation of $51m this year reveals just how false, if one is permitted to use that word, the current Government’s self-proclaimed interest in public transport is and the declining priority accorded to public transport services by this Government. A pittance of $5m is provided for new projects. On today’s inflationary trends $5m is not going to go very far at all. This relatively small amount for new projects is the first allocation for new urban public transport projects to be made in nearly two years- the full term of office of the present Government.
The Minister for Transport (Mr Nixon) in another place admitted in his second reading speech that ‘this is a relatively minor amount . He went on to reveal the priority accorded to urban public transport by the Government when he stated that the allocation was ‘a clear indication of the commitment the Government has to ensure urban public transport services are upgraded’. I repeat that the amount is a clear indication that the Government has little commitment to urban public transport, in marked contrast to the approach of its predecessors in government. In consultation with the States we have to find the solution to public transport problems, which have been created over a long period of years by lack of planning and lack of foresight. For the future, there should be a collective approach on the pan of the three levels of government- national, State and local government to consult and ensure that by good land use planning and full utilisation of existing public investment in transport we avoid the types of problems and deficiencies which have plagued us in the past.
We have peculiar problems in Queensland in that moneys allocated by the national Government to the State government are not always used in the way in which they are supposed to be used in accordance with the terms of the allocation. I recall a conference which I attended a few weeks ago in the Gulf area with local government authorities and the Australian Government Minister for Transport. At that time it was pointed out to the Minister that although Queensland is divided into three regionsnorthern, central and southern- for the distribution of Australian Government moneys for road development, in fact the Queensland Government does not even comply with the requirements laid down in its own State laws and the remoter areas of the State are starved of funds. In other words, it comes back to the old problem of the Kingaroy line, to which I have referred previously in this chamber. I hope that the Government will exercise greater supervision over the expenditure of the money. It is possible that this sort of thing is happening in other places, but I know that certainly it is happening in the far north of Queensland. In his statement the Minister said that he believed in the new spirit of federalism, but as the local government people developed their argument that moneys were being kept out of certain areas, and this matter is probably more appropriate to the second Bill being debated, the Minister agreed that it might be necessary in the future for the Australian Government to lay down guidelines as to how the money should be spent.
I turn now to the increasing importance of energy consumption in transport and the decline in real terms- a 25 per cent reduction in 1976- of finance provided for urban public transport by the present Government. The decline in funds for urban public transport must be viewed against the background of increased petrol prices-the 1977-78 Budget enabled petrol prices to be increased by up to 11c a gallon- and the total lack of any comprehensive energy policy. In 1 975 the Government said that it was going to develop a national energy policy, but to date we have not seen it. As an example, I refer to the National Energy Advisory Committee report on energy conservation tabled last night in Parliament, which almost neglects to address itself to the problem of the energy shortage and transport and suggested solutions. I have some brief tables, to which I referred earlier and which I can assure the Minister contain nothing subversive, and I seek leave to have them incorporated in Hansard.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator DrakeBrockman)Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
The document read as follows-
ENERGY CONSERVATION IN THE TRANSPORT SECTOR
Energy in the transport sector is used by road, rail, sea and air traffic. Of these forms of transport, road vehicles (in particular the private car) are the most energy demanding; and over 99 per cent of the energy requirements of this sector is met by petroleum products.
Governments of most Western countries have taken a variety of actions to attempt to curb petrol consumption by the transport sector.
Private vehicles which account for the major proportion of petroleum consumption by the road transport sector, are the most obvious target for energy conservation policies in the relatively short run and three possible approaches concern urban work journeys, leisure trips and fuel consumption rates.
In Australia, as in the United States, about 75 per cent of the total transportation energy consumption is consumed by road transport and since 75 per cent or more of the population live in urban areas, conservation effort has been logically addressed in the first instance, to urban highway use.
Some economists and transportation specialists have suggested that urban public transport is the answer to fuel conservation problems and suggest that substantial savings in energy would be achieved by shifting a large segment of automobile users to public transport. The potential savings, however, appear to be modest and capital expenditure substantial. A reduction of 50 per cent in consumption of oil based fuels in private urban car usage alone has been estimated to reduce total oil energy consumption by only 8.5 percent.
However savings in other transport sectors might also be achieved. The following discussion outlines the potential savings in the major transport sectors.
Without any restriction by rationing or price it is possible to reduce road fuel consumption by reducing waste through vehicle design changes and traffic management. The more significant of these factors were outlined by Kneebone and Wilkins and are discussed below.
One method of achieving a significant increase in fuel economy in the petrol engine is the development of the weak-mixture petrol engine such as the ‘stratified charge’ engine which could provide fuel savings in the range of 10 to 25 per cent. Another approach currently being tested in the U.S.A. is the use of hydrogen as an admixture to very lean non-stratified petrol/air mixture to overcome ignition problems inherent in this mixture. Preliminary testshave shown a 27 per cent increase in kilometres per litre in a V8 engine. It should be possible to reduce air resistance of present day large cars by 40 to 50 per cent and that of smaller cars by 30 per cent with consequent fuel savings of 5 per cent for larger cars to 10 percent for smaller cars under ‘open road ‘driving conditions. Such reductions can be achieved by designing cars to have a sloping front, smooth contours, a reasonably flat back and a dam extending below the front bumper bar.
U.S. Department of Transportation road tests for twelve vehicles showed that 40-50 mph (64.4-80.5 km/hr) was about the optimum speed and that the fuel consumption at 70 mph (1 12.7 km/hr) increased about 40 per cent above the optimum speed. However, other research has shown that under actual traffic conditions lower speeds give better efficiency, but that there is a high correlation of rate of consumption with the rate of stops per mile.
Fuel injection provides improved fuel economy because of more uniform fuel distribution and permits leaner air-fuel ratios and provision for complete fuel shut-off during coasting or deceleration. An average economy of 10 per cent or more in fuel consumption is possible.
A four speed gearbox is more efficient than a two speed box in matching engine speed to road speed but a programmable box with infinite speed variation is possible. Savings associated with this type of gearbox have been estimated (Ref. 7) as the order of 25 per cent.
Steel belted radial tyres have been reported to yield economies of 3 to 10 per cent.
Automatic transmissions are normally, although not essentially, associated with torque converters. They are also restricted in gear ratios. The increase in petrol consumption associated with these is estimated as 20 to 30 per cent (Ref. 6).
It is not yet clear what reduction in efficiency will result from new regulations but it appears likely to be between 5 per cent and 10 per cent in fuel consumption. Losses due to accessories have been quoted approximately as follows:
Automatic transmission- 23 percent
Power steering and generator- 1 4 per cent
Airconditioning- 1 7 per cent
The total avoidable losses are considered to be the order of about 30 per cent.
Further possibilities include substitution of telecommunications for travel, reducing household tensions which lead to escape’ travel, increasing home centered recreational activity and fostering home delivery of goods and services.
More attractive mass transit systems in Capital City urban areas may lead to reduced fuel consumption for the low occupancy, work-related short trips.
The unused seating capacity in present passenger car trips offers potential for transport energy conservation. Car pools might be encouraged to increase occupancy rates and hence reduce vehicle miles, congestion and ‘stop-start’ driving in peak periods. If private cars could be authorized to pick up and to charge passengers, this incentive would indicate the greatest potential for a significant reduction in passenger car miles of travel, and consequent petroleum fuel consumption.
For example, if occupancy rates in work related urban area trips in Australia were doubled, it is estimated that private car mileage in urban areas could be reduced by up to 20 percent.
Appropriate highway design and regulations may also provide a means of fuel conservation for commercial vehicles: specific truck routes between cities and on heavily used commercial vehicle corridors could be designed to minimize road grades and avoid traffic congested areas; on selected routes, special commercial vehicle lanes could be provided to reduce fuel consumption due to traffic congestion; fuel conservation may also be achieved by only allowing commercial vehicles in city and urban areas in off-peak periods, e.g. night time.
Electrification of the public transport networks and increase the efficiency and modernize the public transport system in an endeavour to encourage commuters to use the system.
Ensure that costs of different forms of transport fully reflect the increased cost energy.
Encourage the wider use of diesel vehicles which are estimated to be approximately 30 per cent more efficient than equivalent petrol driven vehicles.
Encourage energy savings by ensuring higher car maintenance and driving standards.
Reduce oil consumption by using an alternative fuel to petrol, such as LPG or to mix petrol with other fuels; such as sugar cane derived alcohol.
Increased lead additives to petrol will help improve performance and engine efficiency; however they are a health hazard.
Increased reprocessing of lubricating and engine oils would increase the life of these reserves by a factor of 3.
For trucks, a survey of motor vehicle usage in Australia in 1971 showed that the ratio of unladen miles/laden miles ranges from 46 per cent for rigid trucks under 8 tons capacity, and all articulated vehicles, to 71 per cent for rigid trucks of 8 tons capacity or more.
Considering the large average annual mileage of articulated vehicles (up to 40,000 miles for 1 6 tons or more), and their relatively high fuel consumption of 5 or 6 miles/gallon (petrol or diesel), there may be measures which can be introduced to achieve fuel efficiencies through policies leading to rationalisation of road and rail services so that both operate at higher load efficiencies. .
It is argued that attention to the distribution of land uses and the layout of road systems within urban areas can achieve efficiencies in energy consumption. By locating residential areas in relation to employment opportunities the demand for commuter travel may be reduced; by distributing suitable commercial, retail, educational, institutional and recreational facilities in a hierarchy of regional, community and neighbourhood centres, travel for these purposes may be reduced.
Discouraging the use of cars through further stiff increases in the tax on petrol, or by the introduction of two tier pricing.
Discriminatory road fund taxes and/or higher petrol taxes to induce a switch to smaller and more efficient vehicles.
From the foregoing it is clear that substantial economies can be made by encouraging the use of smaller and or lighter weight vehicles, diesel engines, multi-speed manual boxes with overdrive, a minimum of power operated functions, steel belted radial tyres, engine and body design changes and lower maximum speeds. Further economies might be achieved by co-ordination of traffic signals in urban areas to minimise stops and starts, and by improved traffic management to minimise congestion and delays.
The potential increase in the efficiency of use of oil fuels by these measures in the passenger car could be well over SO per cent of current consumption levels. Allowing for the time for vehicle replacements, significant economies might be achieved within 10 years. If a 25 per cent average reduction in fuel consumption for passenger cars was achieved within 10 years, total oil fuel consumption might be reduced by 10 per cent compared to consumption levels without these measures.
– Adequate funding for urban public transport is an urgent task. It is not something which can be deferred or delayed indefinitely. Governments cannot simply increase the costs of the operation of motor cars and the ownership of motor cars in the expectation that such action will discourage the use of private cars without providing an alternative to the private motor car. Again, I think this calls for some sort of national planning operation, almost certainly involving the three arms of government. Recent research indicates that increased costs will not greatly reduce the use of private motor vehicles because most trips are work trips and, as such, are considered to be necessary. The quality and availability of urban public transport services will have an important role to play in any responsible national energy conservation plan. It will probably have an important role to play in the congested metropolitan areas in reducing health risks for many people who every day are forced to travel the highways and byways of our metropolitan areas. It is regrettable that the Government, in providing for a reduction in real terms in urban public transport funds, is abandoning urban public transport services as an essential part of energy conservation plans. An expansion of public investment in urban public transport systems would provide a much needed stimulus to employment opportunities. Not only would the injection of funds into the States urban systems have generated employment through the purchase of equipment for urban systems but also the improved public transport systems available would have given better access to job opportunities.
It has been a bone of contention over a long period of time that the various city transport systems frequently, perhaps almost always, show heavy losses. It is obvious that the intervention of private enterprise in the form of bus services and so on does not solve the problem, and that is what we have to put up with in many of our provincial cities. The bus services are privately owned and do not provide services at off-peak times or on Saturday afternoons or Sundays. Frequently there are no bus services at all after S o’clock or 6 o’clock in the evening and people without their own transport are forced to use rather expensive taxis or stay at home. As I mentioned a moment ago, not only would the injection of funds into the State urban systems have generated employment through the purchase of equipment for urban systems, but also the improved public transport systems available would have given better access to job opportunities. This is a problem which has emerged when we have tried to help people who are unemployed as a result of this Government’s policies. Frequently people are able to get employment but they have no means of travelling 8, 10, 15 or 20 miles daily to a job. So an injection of funds to expand the urban public transport system would be a real contribution in that area.
If we are to avoid the impending transport crisis of the next decade it is vital that our urban public transport investment programs, begun in 1973, be restored. This is the second occasion on which I have endeavoured to make the point that this field has been neglected. Whilst the Opposition is not going to oppose the Bill, we must take this opportunity to criticise certain aspects of it. In summary, I remind honourable senators that although the Opposition does not oppose the Bill it emphasises that the Bill is proof of the Government s abandonment of the important role of urban public transport in energy conservation and the lifestyle and opportunity of persons who depend on urban public transport.
I turn now to the States Grants (Roads) Bill 1977, the second Bill in this cognate debate. In the main, it is a development and a refinement of the progressive roads legislation enacted by the previous Labor Government. At the same time, the Bill provides $ 1,425m for expenditure on road construction and road maintenance during the triennium 1977-78 to 1979-80. Whilst the Opposition is not opposing the Bill, we feel that it needs some criticism. The Bill provides for State quotas totalling $4 1 8.8m for the current year and for this amount to be indexed in subsequent years along with grants from the Government. Authorisation clauses have been included to enable funds to be paid from either the Consolidated Revenue Fund or the Loan Fund. The Bill also provides for the establishment of planning committees to develop and oversee long term road project expenditure. Road construction and road maintenance are the best areas in which the Government could be acting to reduce unemployment and stimulate the economy if that is what it wants to do. Quite clearly, there has been a deliberate decision on the part of the Government to increase unemployment, to superintend expanding unemployment, and to leave the economy to find its own way out of the recession in which we now find it. There are road programs in the Northern Territory that have been implemented on a stop-go basis over a long period. There are road programs in the northwest of Western Australia and in the Gulf and Cape York areas in Queensland that also have been implemented on a stop-go basis for a long time. The Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) has announced that the economy is picking up and that inflation is going down. There is no real evidence that either of these things is happening, of course but the Prime Minister seems to think they are happening. I hope that somewhere along the line there will be a real attempt to provide additional funds for the road systems in this country.
Many of these road developments and even road maintenance jobs are fairly highly labour intensive. I hope that the Government will take a serious look at that and provide additional funds at a later date in this financial year to stimulate both the employment market and the economy. Regional pockets of unemployment could be quite easily mopped up by a properly planned road development program. Road construction and maintenance are permanent public works, particularly in the light of standards adopted by the national Government these days. Even though there would be an increase in expenditure, the work would be worth while and would rapidly generate employment in its own right. Another statement which I think ought to go on record was made by the honourable member for Leichhardt (Mr Thompson) in another place at the same conference about which I spoke a few moments ago. The Minister for Transport invited him, as a former senior Army commander, to give an explanation of what this country needed today in relation to roads for defence purposes. His rejoinder was that one does not need roads so much for defence purposes in 1977 as there are other methods of” transporting troops and equipment to remote areas of this country. But he startled everyone by going on to say that roads should not be built in remote areas anyway because if an invader comes it makes it too easy for the invader to move during a battle. Maybe that is why we are not getting roads in the remote areas under the policy of this Government.
I want to conclude on this note: As I said earlier, the Bill embodies in a number of ways legislation that would have been introduced had there not been a change in government. The provision of $475m this year and the method by which it is to be indexed in following years is a matter that I believe, in the interest of State Transport Ministers, ought to be clarified by the Federal Minister for Transport and should have been included in the legislation. Perhaps those words of criticism that I have offered in respect of both of the Bills might receive the attention of the Minister when he replies to the debate.
– We are debating two Bills cognatelythe Appropriation (Urban Public Transport) Bill and the States Grants (Roads) Bill. These Bills are quite significant in that they provide a considerable amount of money to the States for these purposes. The Appropriation (Urban Public Transport) Bill provides money to each State to upgrade urban public transport. In his second reading speech the Minister for Education (Senator Carrick) informed us that in determining each State’s allocation the Minister for Transport (Mr Nixon) has taken into account the relative availability of funds from current appropriations and existing State commitments. In particular, he took cognisance of the opportunity which New South Wales has to re-allocate its available funds. I note that in the second reading speech it is stated that $600,000 has been provided to New South Wales for double-deck suburban rail cars; $2m to Victoria for suburban trains and trams; and Sim to South Australia for buses. I believe that that will be quite helpful in upgrading the public transport in those areas. However, I agree with Senator Keeffe that more attention has to be given to this important area, particularly bearing in mind the need to pay regard to the future conservation of fuel. I think that upgraded urban public transport facilities should be given a very high priority from that point of view. We ought to be doing all we can to discourage people from using their own private vehicles and using considerable amounts of fuel in excess of what should be used at this critical time of energy conservation.
The other Bill with which we are dealing is the States Grants (Roads) Bill which covers both national highways and other roads. I was interested particularly in the inclusion this year of a category of roads which is quite differentthat is, the national commerce roads. This represents one of the main changes proposed in this legislation. The changes in which I am most interested are the establishment of planning committees as an alternative to existing procedures for approval of programs provided, of course, that the Federal Minister and the State Minister agree to institute such an arrangement; and the inclusion of a new category, national commerce roads, in place of the previous categories of export roads and major commercial roads. The beef road category has been omitted. The Bill provides definitions for what are considered to be national highways and national commerce roads. Clause 5 (1 ) of the Bill states:
The Minister may declare a road in a State that constitutes, or a proposed road in a State that would, if constructed, constitute, a part of the road that, in the opinion of the Minister, is or will be the principal road linking-
2 or more State capital cities;
a State capital city and Canberra;
a State capital city and Darwin;
Brisbane and Cairns; or
Hoban and Burnie, to be a national highway for the purposes of this Act.
Subclause (3) states:
The Minister mav declare a road in a State that facilitates, or a proposed road in a State that would, if constructed, facilitate, trade or commerce, or the development of trade or commerce, with other countries or among the States to be a national commerce road for the purposes of this Act.
This particularly attracts my attention because in South Australia we have the Stuart Highway which quite definitely comes within this particular category both as a national highway and as a national commerce road. I have brought this matter to the attention of the Minister from time to time and have had quite sympathetic hearings from him. In fact, he places great importance on the Stuart Highway, as evidenced in a statement that he made, I think, at Darwin on 24 July this year. I will read this statement for the benefit of the Senate because it signifies the importance that the Minister and the Federal Government place upon this road. The news release stated:
The Minister for Transport, Mr Peter Nixon, said today he wanted a start made as soon as possible on sealing the Stuart Highway in South Australia to all-weather standards.
Mr Nixon said the Stuart Highway was a vital life-line for the people of the Northern Territory and the Commonwealth was prepared to finance its development as a National Highway.
The Stuart Highway is sealed in the Northern Territory, but within South Australia it is in a shocking state’, Mr Nixon said.
I see that Senator Wright is in the chamber. I recall that when he was Minister for Works he highlighted the urgency in dealing with this road. I understand that at that time he traversed the road in a four-wheel drive vehicle so he knew just what condition that road was in at that time.
I can assure him and the Senate that it certainly has not improved. The news release continues:
A major study by the Commonwealth and South Australian Governments has recommended that between Wirrappa and the Northern Territory border the road be constructed on one of two alternative routes. Both are in the vicinity of the present Stuart Highway but are some 200 kilometres shorter
Mr Nixon said that when public comments on the environmental aspects had been considered he would decide which route should be developed.
I think that particular environmental study has been completed and I understand that some announcement has been made by Mr Virgo with respect to it. The Minister went on to say:
In the meantime it is possible to start sealing the SO kilometre gravel section of the Stuart Highway between Bookaloo and Mount Gunson north of Port Augusta.
As we all know in South Australia, that road is regarded as a horror stretch and has claimed many lives. The news release continued:
Mr Nixon said Mr Virgo had not included this project in the program of 1 977-78 National Highway works submitted to him for approval.
However, I have indicated to Mr Virgo that I want works between Bookaloo-Mount Gunson well under way during 1978-79’, Mr Nixon said.
Mr Nixon said he had recently written to Mr Virgo asking if these works could be initiated during this financial year.
I regret to say that Mr Virgo does not consider that highway of any importance to South Australia otherwise he would have given it a high priority on his program of works. I regard it as being of great importance because, as the Minister for Transport mentioned in his statement, it is of major significance to the people of the Northern Territory. We know only too well how often that road has been cut due to rain and the consequent flooding. I regard the road as most important to the mutual development of South Australia and the Northern Territory. I have mentioned this point before: In South Australia, we are losing $70m or $80m a year to Queensland simply because the road from Darwin to Brisbane is sealed. Also, the development of the northern part of South Australia must be regarded as being of great importance to that State. Until we get an adequate sealed road through that area, I believe that the development of the mineral potential in that area will be retarded.
I also have a regard for the increase in the tourist traffic that would eventuate between South Australia and the Northern Territory. The area has great tourist potential. The sealing of the road would encourage far more people from eastern Australia and the west to take advantage of the tourist attractions we have in the southern State and the Northern Territory. I reiterate my regret that the State Minister for Transport, Mr Virgo, has not seen fit to give this road a high priority. I was encouraged by the letter that I received from the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) recently with respect to this project. In that letter, he gives the clear impression that he endorses completely what Mr Nixon said about that road. I do not know whether the Minister for Education can give me an answer later in the debate as to whether it would be possible, bearing in mind the importance that the Federal Government places on this highway, to obtain a special grant at least sufficient to seal the 50 kilometre section to which I have referred and to make a start on the survey and planning of the road further to the north. I, together with Mr Calder, the member for the Northern Territory in another place and Senator Kilgariff, propose talking with the Minister for Transport this afternoon on that matter. But I draw that to the attention of Senator Carrick.
This Bill provides for $475m of Commonwealth money to be provided to the States for roads in various categories. Also, of course, the State quota expenditure required to accompany that Federal money amounts to $418.8m. The two amounts added together total approximately $2,68 1.4m which will be spent over the next three years. That is not an inconsiderable sum of money and it indicates the anxiety of the Commonwealth Government to push on with the construction of roads in these various categories. I was particularly pleased to see how we have regarded the importance of rural arterial roads and rural local roads. There is quite a long list of local government authorities which will benefit from this finance. I believe that in South Australia, 95 or 96 local government authorities will be provided with funds for use on local or rural arterial roads.
Another aspect of the Bill which I think is important is the continuation of the minor traffic engineering and road safety improvements program. In South Australia, several intersections have been regarded as unsatisfactory. The Commonwealth therefore has been able to provide funds so that co-ordinated signal systems, modified intersection signals and channelisation can be provided. I think this question of coordinated signal systems is most important. I feel that we do not regard this matter as sufficiently important or give it the priority that we should. We should bear in mind the waste of fuel caused by inordinate delays at traffic lights and the fact that over a twelve month period the total amount of fuel wasted by vehicles waiting at traffic lights with their engines idling would be tremendous.
No doubt, honourable senators have experienced the delays I have experienced during city peak traffic periods when they are sitting in their motor cars held up not just at one set of traffic lights but at several sets of traffic lights. Rectification of this problem could conserve considerable amounts of fuel and therefore I highlight the importance of continuing this part of our roadworks program.
I believe that we also ought to continue to ensure that adequate road safety is carried out throughout Australia. That is provided for also in this Bill. I do not think I need to say much more, except to reiterate what I have said about the importance of the Stuart Highway as a national highway, as a defence highway and as a national commercial road. In conclusion, I would like to say that the view I hold on this matter is supported not only by my colleague from the Northern Territory and South Australia. It is held also by the Australian Roads Federation which has no fewer than 150 members in South Australia. The Northern Territory Chamber of Commerce with branches at Alice Springs and Darwin also supports the construction of the road. Of course, this project is supported very energetically by the chamber of commerce in Adelaide as well as the representatives of truck drivers who know only too well what a shocking state the present highway is in. Mr Deputy President, with those remarks I have pleasure in supporting the Bill before the Senate.
Sitting suspended from 12.59 to 2.1S p.m.
– The Senate is debating the Appropriation (Urban Public Transport) Bill 1977 cognately with the States Grants (Roads) Bill 1977. Whilst the Opposition does not oppose the Bill I think it is important to comment on some of the proposals. The purpose of this Bill is to provide $30. lm to the States for upgrading urban public transport. It provides an allocation of $51m for urban public transport projects in all States. This means, of course, that $20.69m has already been appropriated and there is no real increase in the amount of money that is being made available by this Bill. The $27.73m allocated to meet the cost increases on approved projects means that more than half of the amount provided in the Budget will go towards compensating for the loss of value in the dollar as a result of the Fraser Government’s inability to cope with the declining economy and with inflation.
The funds provided for urban public transport represent a cut of $7.4m in cash terms and a fall of 25 per cent in real terms over the 1976-77 expenditure. If we contrast the funds provided with the promise contained in the 1975 LiberalNational Country Parties policy statement, in which it was stated that a Liberal-Country Party Government would assist the States to modernise their public transport systems, we realise, of course, that the Fraser Government is completely ineffective in this area. I draw the attention of the Senate to comments made by my colleague in the other place, the shadow Minister for Transport, Mr Peter Morris, when speaking to this Bill. He said:
The absymal amount provided for urban public transport will do little in the reasonably near future to assist State governments to remedy the chronic deficiencies that exist in public transport systems in our major cities. It will do little to provide a public transport service for those areas of our cities that do not have access to public transport services. It will do little for the young, the old, the handicapped and the poor who have to use whatever form of public transport service is available.
This Government needs to be reminded that people living in urban sectors of our major metropolitan areas are captives of congested roads and deteriorating or non-existent transport services which impair personal mobility thus limiting access to job opportunities, cultural and recreational facilities. The Government has consistently pursued a policy over decades of driving a wedge between country dwellers and urban dwellers for cheap political purposes. It has sought to show urban dwellers as being pampered and as having access to all the better facilities of urban life. The fact is that many urban dwellers, because of the lack of adequate and/or reasonably priced transport services experience a loneliness greater than that of the country dweller. There is no loneliness greater than that of the big city when one does not have access to communication and transport that one can afford. The quality of urban public transport services then is a major determinant in the lifestyle of millions of urban Australians.
I am not saying that people living in remote parts of our rather vast country do not feel the same loneliness, remoteness and isolation. They recognise the need to have major roads for a number of reasons. It is not just a case of getting into a car as we tend to do in metropolitan areas. We get into a car to go from point A to point B because the transport service which we wish to use is not running, does not stop at a convenient place or cannot transport us from one particular community into another without taking a great deal of time.
Senator Jessop from South Australia spoke earlier about the frustrations of being held up by traffic lights. I do not believe that this Government or Liberal conservative governments of the past have ever given consideration to the needs in that particular area. It is frustrating to find oneself sitting at one set of traffic lights and to see another set of traffic lights in the distance already changing to the green light and to know that by the time one reaches them they will have changed again and one will be stuck at the next set of lights. I think more money should be devoted to synchronisation of traffic lights. Melbourne has conducted a fairly good and, I would say, welcome exercise in the main street of Melbourne but the authorities do not seem to have been able to extend it to other areas. Sydney has done very little and, of course, Western Australia is probably the only State which uses the threelighting system for roads.
The Australian Labor Government allocated funds for public transport and this was the first major investment of public funds for urban transport since the electrification of Sydney’s urban rail services in the 1920s. When the cost of the 1974-75 program is added to the program approved in 1973-74, it will be seen that the Labor Government agreed to support public transport improvement projects to the extent of $138m over five years. Those projects covered every public transport mode. I have an analysis of the programs approved in the first two years on a State and mode of transport basis. Later I will seek leave to have that incorporated in Hansard.
One of the things that disturbs me most is that governments have failed in any real attempt at leadership to encourage people to use public transport. If honourable senators look at the State Budgets each year they will generally find that transport systems are run at a loss. I propose that if the Government is really concerned about getting the motorist out of his motor car, if it wants to reduce the pollution caused by the use of those motor cars, if it wants to reduce the demand for expressways through cities and all that goes with those things, it must provide a reasonable alternative. The only reasonable alternative is to have a fast urban public transport system. Whether it is based on the train, the bus or the tram, as in Melbourne, really is not important. It can be done. It is done in other cities throughout the world. In other cities trains are able to travel at twice the speed at which their Australian counterparts travel. I do not necessarily advocate thatthatisagoodthing.Iamsimplymakingthe pointthatothercountriesseemtobeableto handletheirurbanpublictransportsystemsina muchmorelogicalwaythanwehaveattempted todointhepast.
I think it is important to look also at the second Bill under discussion this afternoon; that is, the States Grants (Roads) Bill 1977. Briefly, it is a refinement of the National Roads Act of 1974 and the Roads Grants Act of 1974 which the former Minister for Transport, Mr Charles Jones, introduced. The Whitlam Government had planned the introduction of an integrated transport budget for this triennium. This Government has not done that. It has introduced a separate Bill for urban public transport. In the hard sell of federalism in which Ministers in this Government have been involved, the Minister for Transport (Mr Nixon) made great play of the need for co-operation with the States on road matters. I think we should look at the real situation. Australian Transport Advisory Committee meetings invariably end up in a shambles of name calling, back-biting and threats from States that they may withdraw. An indication of the States’ trust and degree of co-operation with this Government is afforded by a number of Press cuttings from which I will read a few paragraphs. I do not intend to read the lot. For instance, it was reported in the Sydney Morning Herald of 6 June 1977 that both the Victorian and South Australian Transport Ministers attacked the Government for the delay on their roads legislation. The article states:
South Australia’s Ministerfor Transport, Mr Virgo, said yesterday he was extremely disappointed and angry at the Commonwealth’s move.
Victoria’s Transport Minister, Mr Rafferty, said . . that the Commonwealth’s stop-go approach to roads funds was crippling his State ‘s programs and planning.
They gave us an assurance in Hobart in February that the Legislation would be for at least 12 months,’ Mr Rafferty said.
Apparently the Federal Treasurer, Mr Lynch, intends to bring down a tough Budget. ‘
Of course that is what actually happened.
-It is federalism but I do not think the States approve of federalism. Perhaps they would prefer to have a centralist government operating in this country and perhaps that is something we may see in the very near future. The article continues:
At the April Premiers’ Conference every State criticised the Federal Government’s allocation of road funds because of the low level of money given and Commonwealth stipulations on how it should be spent.
It is interesting to note that leaks come from all manner of conferences these days. The article goes on to state:
Confidential transcripts of the conference show a deep division between the Commonwealth and the States over the allocation of funds between the eight different categories of roads, such as urban arterial and rural arterial.
Let me read what the Sydney Morning Herald of 7 June 1977 had to say about Mr Nixon’s contribution. The article is headed ‘States accuse Canberra on road grants’ and is ‘from our Parliamentary Reporter’. The reporter obviously wishes to remain anonymous. It is about time we had a more enlightened Press in Australia. I notice that we have only one member of the Press in the gallery at the moment. If pressmen are to report in newspapers it would not hurt them to identify themselves. The article reads:
All the State Premiers have accused the Federal Government of distortions in its roads grants to their States.
Two State ministers have even accused the Government of tampering with the grants, one of them claiming it was for political reasons.
The allegations were made at the Premiers’ conference, in April, when all the States made strong pleas to the Federal Government to increase its roads grants.
In 1977-78 the Commonwealth is providing the States with $475 million in roads grants.
The Premiers also demanded to be allowed greater flexibility in the way they spend the money, which is divided by the Federal Minister of Transport among eight categories of roads.
The allegations are revealed in confidential transcripts of the conference.
The transcripts show that all States were highly sensitive to Federal Government controls over the grants and to restraints on spending which led to real reductions in the level of roads grants to them.
They also demonstrate the determination of the Commonwealth to hold down Government spending and the tough attitude adopted by the Federal Minister for Transport, Mr Nixon, towards the States.
At the moment, if a State wants to reallocate money between categories, it must obtain Mr Nixon ‘s permission.
The split-up is based on recommendations by the Commonwealth Bureau of Roads which can be altered at the Federal Government’s discretion.
The Victorian Premier, Mr Hamer, calling for a review of the $475 million also queried:
Even the allocation suggested by the Bureau of Roads is varied in a way that we do not understand, ‘ he said.
The amount going to rural arterial and rural roads has been increased over the bureau’s figure, whereas the urban arterials have been cut down by about 60 per cent.
This is going to cause tremendous difficulties, not just in funding, but also in the road construction programs . . especially for urban arterial roads.’
The Premier of South Australia, Mr Dunstan, also complained about the category split-up.
We are concerned at the distortion of funding,’ he said, in that while the total grants have been reduced below the recommendation, some grants are in excess of the recommendation. ‘
The Commonwealth Government has a responsibility towards the States. Very frequently in this chamber and in the other place we hear of the acceptance of that responsibility towards the States. It is disturbing to us, and it must be even more disturbing for people in the community, to read statements such as those that I have just read and to learn that obviously an opinion is not shared by the State Premiers and the Federal Government. If the Federal Government had increased funds in areas where the States wanted them, perhaps they would have been able to create pockets of employment. Instead, at the moment vast numbers of people are unemployed. The States would have been able to plan more adequately for the future.
In my own State of Western Australia a large number of roads could not be considered very safe to be used. The north-west can no longer attract tourists from the Northern Territory who might then travel on to Perth. This is because of the condition of the road at particular times of the year. At times the roads are completely cut, isolating people and whole townships from other people when lines of communication by road break down especially in the wet season. It is time this Government recognised that people in remote areas deserve higher consideration. We have to appreciate that they depend on roads for a number of things. They are not just a matter of these people getting from point A to point B, for which people tend to use roads in the metropolitan area. Rather it is a means of communication -sometimes the only means of communication that these people may have. Their nearest neighbour may be 60, 100 or 200 kilometres away. The Government has to look seriously at whether it can afford further funding during this financial year to assist the States in this area. The Opposition supports the legislation.
– This afternoon we are discussing the Appropriation (Urban Public Transport) Bill and the States Grants (Roads) Bill. The main purpose of the former Bill is to provide an additional $30.3 lm of Commonwealth funds for payments to the States under the terms of the Urban Public Transport Agreement. The Commonwealth provides two-thirds of that amount of money. It is provided for approved capital works programs which are to improve the quality, capacity, frequency and efficiency of public transport in State capitals as well as, I understand, Wollongong, Newcastle and Geelong. The $30.3 lm includes $5m for new projects and $25.3 lm to meet cost increases on currently approved works programs. Also included in the Budget is an allocation of $20.69m available from existing appropriation. This brings the total Commonwealth appropriation this year to $5 lm. The total so far, including this appropriation since it was introduced in 1973-74, is $ 188.33m.
Queensland ‘s share of this amount is $ 1 4.93m. It will be spent on projects associated with electrification of Brisbane’s suburban railways which were approved in 1973-74 and 1974-75. A total of $ 14.99m was then approved for expenditure on planning, track work and like works to facilitate the electrification of the suburban rail network in Brisbane. Other projects for Queensland included the acquisition of 23 Volvo buses and seven Leyland buses and construction of an inner city rail link across the Brisbane River, something which has been in the hopes and aspirations of many governments in Queensland for many years. At last it will be a reality when a bridge links the northern and southern rail networks in the middle of the city. There are also to be 33 minor interchange sites at railway stations involving parking areas for those who park and ride, as they call it, station improvements and bus interchange facilities so that buses do not have to go into the centre of the city but rather may bring their passengers to the railway stations from where they will be transported by rail.
For many years there was considerable argument over the electrification of railways in Brisbane. It is indeed true that the previous Labor Administration had electrification in mind and that planning was under way, but when the Government of my political leaning took office it looked at Queensland as a whole. The money, rather than being spent on electrification in the city of Brisbane, was spent on the dieselisation of the whole railway network. I think Queensland has been lucky that the Government did that. We have borne the results of that. It has allowed us to transport our products. Indeed, with the massive increase in mining in Queensland, the dieselisation and upgrading of the track has enabled it to be the State that it is, playing the part that it plays in the export earnings of this country, regrettably though it was that we could not have both things at the same time. I would have to say that the dieselisation at the time it was introduced was of the utmost importance.
Now we are getting on to the electrification. I look towards electrification for many reasons. One is that hopefully it will help to control pollution in our inner city areas. We may just be able to drop some sections of Australian design rule 27A, which as I have mentioned sometimes in this place previously, is suffocating motor vehicle engines. People are using more petrol to get a lesser power output, all to keep down the pollution in the inner city areas. If we get the electrification going the pollution will be elsewhere. There will still be pollution while we are using fossil-fuelled power stations to supply our electricity, but it will be outside the city areas. This also calls into question the type of lifestyle we desire. It has been said by many that Canberra, of all the cities in Australia, is the most properly planned and the most properly developed. I have also heard it said by an American businessman trying to find a few departments that all Canberra is is seven suburbs hidden behind the bushes. However that may be, it is a very desirable lifestyle. There are plenty of parks, the houses are spread out and so forth.
But the question arises: Can we afford to live in this lifestyle? Heaven forbid that we should ever have to adopt the soul destroying practice of requiring people to live in tenement flats in buildings 20 stories high that are dotted all round the place. But somewhere there has to be a happy medium. Urban transport is one of the problems that city planners will have to look at in the very near future. Can we afford the most desirable style of living? Frankly, I do not think we can. I do not think the urban transport systems will ever pay completely, particularly considering the situation in the most densely populated cities of the world, such as London and Tokyo. London, with its tube and its buses, has a most desirable transit system, but I believe that even it does not pay for itself.
The city planners will have to come to grips with the problem of urban transport. The people who live in towns will have to make up their mind whether they are going to use the urban transport systems or their own motor vehicles. It may be that governments will have to decide for them that the community can no longer afford to permit such a large number of motor vehicles into the inner city areas because of the traffic problems and the pollution they create. As I said earlier, the electrification of the railway system can only help. It would lessen the amount of pollution and, as I have said, put it somewhere else. But that raises another question. In the near future could we change to nuclear power generation and thus do away with our pollution problems completely?
The second Bill that the Senate is discussing is the States Grants (Roads) Bill. This Bill provides for a total of $475m a year or $ 1 ,425m over three years to be provided to the States in real money terms. That, of course, will allow the States to plan properly. They will know what money they will be receiving over the next three years and will be able to work out their budgets accordingly. The legislation also requires the States to provide minimum quotas of matching expenditure from their own resources to qualify for the Commonwealth Government money. This year the matching quotas will be $4 18.8m. These Commonwealth funds will be used on improving road networks. This requirement will mean that the States will not be relying just on Commonwealth funds to improve their roads. It will mean that there will be a topping up, as it were, and will help the States to meet their existing financial responsibilities.
Queensland’s share of this amount will be $100m. The existence of those minimum quotas and the Commonwealth Government’s federalism policy will mean that, as more and more responsibilities devolve to the States, they will be able to spend more of their own money as they see fit. This is one area in which I can see the federalism policy working. The States will accept responsibility for raising their own money and will be thus able without Commonwealth interference to spend their money where they desire. I think it is most important that the people see where the money being spent is coming from and be able to delineate between Commonwealth funds and State funds so that the Commonwealth is seen to be playing its part in improving our road transport system.
The national highway program is to be funded completely by the Commonwealth Government. This program provides for the funding of the highways between the capital cities, between a capital city and Canberra, between Brisbane and Darwin and between Brisbane and Cairns. I can remember that for many years the Bruce Highway, which is between Brisbane and Cairns, was nothing more than a gravel stretch. It was the dream for many years of the late Hon. Ernie Evans, the Minister for Main Roads in Queensland, to see that highway completely sealed in his lifetime. I am glad to say that he was able to see that before he passed on. Prior to that the main bitumen roads were just in the southeastern corner. Shameful as it is, the people who lived outside the Brisbane area were literally forgotten. The Bruce Highway is not yet a good highway, even though it is a national highway. It is far from being a good highway. But there is a sealed road from Brisbane to Cairns. I hope that it will be improved by the continual expenditure of Commonwealth funds on it. Such funds are being spent just north of where I live. Major bridge work and new road work are being done there.
Queensland is the most decentralised State of them all. I think it has been said that it is the only State which has more people living outside the metropolitan area than living inside it. Queensland has become decentralised because of the development of its primary industries. It is most important that the provincial towns in these major export earning areas be linked by good roads. Of course, in the last 12 months Mount Isa has been linked with the coast by a bitumen road. It is one of our major export earning areas. It supports a large population in the harsh northwestern area of Queensland. I have said before that the wealth of our nation is not earned in our capitals; it is earned in the rural areas of our States. I think this must always be considered when governments, both State and Commonwealth, are planning their road programs.
Good roads are a necessity not only for our own people who are going on holidays but also to attract tourists. The roads in western Queensland have always been a bit of a challenge. I suppose that I have spent more hours than anybody else in this chamber on boggy roads and beside flooded creeks. I can well recall- it is quite funny looking back at thisspending about six hours going about a quarter of a mile and then deciding to give it away. Together with my wife and family, I have camped in a car on a stormy night and woken up occasionally because I was feeling most uncomfortable and opened a door and put a hand into the black soil of the road to see whether it was drier than it was when I woke up previously. Such were the joys and still are the joys in many cases of living in western Queensland. That is an intolerable situation for a mobile population, particularly as it exists in a country area that is doing much to provide the better things in life for many other people.
The Minister for Transport (Mr Nixon) is placing a decreasing emphasis on urban arterial roads so that more money can get out to the rural local and rural arterial roads. I have no objection to the construction of freeways. As a matter of fact the quicker traffic can be moved in urban areas the less fuel is used. Senator Jessop touched on that matter earlier. A terrific amount of fuel is wasted by cars stuck in traffic jams. As I intimated previously, there is no obligation on the States as to how they spend their money. They are quite free to spend it on their freeways. But, as I have said, the Minister is seeing that more and more of the Commonwealth Government’s money is spent on rural local and rural arterial roads. It is a pity that we cannot do more. But, as has been said many times in this chamber, we are trying to right the wrongs of the previous Administration and we are trying to get this country on an even keel economically. I believe that we are doing it. Considering the situation that existed when we took over and what we have done with tax reforms and how we have reduced the deficit, we have nothing to be ashamed of. It is just a pity that we cannot do more and spend more money where it is needed, especially on our transport system and our roads. I commend the Bills.
- Senator Collard, like most members of the Liberal and National Country Parties, has obviously forgotten Tasmania, which is usually forgotten by those parties except when an election is taking place, because he said that Queensland is the only State which has more people living outside its capital city than inside it. In fact, Tasmania has more people living outside its capital city than inside it. A lower proportion of its population lives in its capital city of Hobart than is the case within the other State. That obviously has been overlooked by Senator Collard and I take this opportunity of correcting it. It is also conveniently overlooked by the President of Senator Collard ‘s Party- by charlatans like Mr Sparkes- who asserts that it is necessary to have a gerrymandered electoral system to ensure that the capital city does not achieve disproportionate size relative to the rest of the State. In order to accept that hypothesis it is essential that one overlook the simple fact that Tasmania, which has and has always had the least gerrymandered of all the State parliaments, also happens to have the lowest proportion of people living in its capital city. The facts run in direct conflict with the theory propounded by the President of Senator Collard ‘s Party that there has to be a gerrymander to ensure the State capital city does not become disproportionately large. Mr Sparks in that instance has been about as truthful as he normally is.
Senator Collard also seemed to be somewhat confused in extrolling the virtues of the alleged federalism and simultaneously commending the Federal Minister for stipulating in this Bill that a higher proportion of total Federal funds be allocated to rural local roads. Senator Collard had better make up his mind whether he supports the new federalism, with its professed objective of maximising the freedom of choice for State governments and thereby imposing no such restrictions, or whether he supports the policy entailed in this Bill, for which he also commended the Minister, of stipulating that a given proportion- Senator Collard said a higher proportion- would be applied to rural local roads. That is a contradiction which Senator Collard, I trust, will some day resolve for himself. I trust that his Party will also resolve it.
In an abstract sense he extolled the virtues of the new federalism on the grounds that it was highly desirable for State governments to accept fiscal responsibility for their actions and their promises. With that hypothesis I am in total agreement. I have not noticed, either in my State or in Senator Collard ‘s State, any willingness whatsoever on the part of the respective Premiers to accept that fiscal responsibility. Sir Charles Court and Mr Bjelke-Petersen insist on having a minimum of responsibility and a maximum of power. They both want virtually unlimited access to Federal funds and no constraints whatsoever on how. they expend those funds. There is a great variance between the idyllic Federal-State arrangements which Senator Collard hypothesises and the reality of the States of Western Australia and Queensland. When I was in Queensland a couple of weeks ago I noticed while driving along some well constructed and newly constructed bitumen roads big signs at each end saying: ‘This is a Queensland Government project’. Of course most of the money for those Queensland Government projects came from the Federal Government- all of it in these particular instances from the much reviled Whitlam socialist centralist Government in Canberra. But of course that does not stop the Queensland Government, with the sort of misrepresentation for which it has become notorious, putting signs at either end of a road saying that it is a Queensland Government project.
One of the things which is clearly demonstrated in the Appropriation (Urban Public Transport) Bill is the total farce of the Government’s alleged energy policy. Any government which had a serious policy of energy conservation would have as a corollary a policy of urban public transport aimed at minimising vehicle mileage travelled in urban areas. It happens to be a fact that about half the total vehicle miles travelled in Australia are travelled on urban arterial roads and most of it by people in private motor cars, the most energy hungry means of urban transport which has yet been devised. A government which was serious with a policy of energy conservation, or particularly of petroleum conservation, would not be introducing legislation after nearly two years in power for a miserly $5m in new commitments to improvements in urban public transport.
The Government attempted and still attempts to justify its massive price hike for fuel on the grounds that it is tied up with its non-existent energy conservation policy and that it will provide an incentive for further oil exploration. On Tuesday in the House of Representatives the parttime director of bankrupt funeral companies, the honourable member for New England and Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Sinclair)- or the part-time Minister for Primary Industry who directs bankrupt funeral companies while he presides over the impending bankruptcy of Australian agriculture- said:
For the honourable gentleman’s benefit I would like to explain that the reason for the crude oil price policy change was to ensure that we would encourage greater exploration, development and exploitation of Australia’s crude oil resources.
I would be grateful to any member of the Government who could direct me to that area of the Government’s policy which will encourage, as a result of the price hike for existing fields in Bass Strait, further exploration. For 2 years we have already had a policy of paying world parity for new discoveries. That is a powerful incentive for new exploration. To increase, as this Government has done, the price for Bass Strait crude with no other considerations attached- this is precisely what the Government has done- will have no effect on exploration. It is totally dishonest for this Government to attempt to justify its fuel price hike in terms of encouraging greater exploration. If it was serious about encouraging exploration it would insist that Esso-BHP, to qualify for the higher price, had to plough back into exploration a stated percentage of anything up to 100 per cent of its windfall gains accruing from this fuel price hike. The Government has done no such thing. It makes pious noises about a resources tax and then the Ministers squabble in private and in semi-public about whether they want a levy at all and to whom it will be applied. They have nothing on the horizon with respect of a resources tax. They have no policy whatsoever to ensure that the $140m windfall gain which will accrue to Esso-BHP will be ploughed back in any measure at all to increase exploration.
This Government has no exploration policy. Its policy is to direct $140m in windfall gains to Esso-BHP with no strings attached. The Leader of the National Country Party (Mr Anthony) gives $100m to Esso and simultaneously adds $500 to $600 to the average farmer’s fuel bill - the farmer that he claims to represent. It is a pay-off from the Country Party to the mineral moguls who have bankrolled it for years. It is quite disgusting that a Government that is adding one per cent to the consumer price index from this one decision alone proposes to present a windfall gain of that magnitude to a joint venture which is mostly foreign owned and attempts to justify that policy on the grounds of fuel conservation and simultaneously present to the Parliament a Bill for urban public transport which provides a miserly $5m for new projects.
I turn now to the second Bill concerning road funding- the States Grants (Roads) Bill. It is a matter of judgment in my view both with respect to the total amount of Federal funds or State funds which ought to be spent on roads and the distribution of that total amount of Federal funds or State funds which ought to be spent on roads and the distribution of that total amount. It is a matter of judgment how much the amount should be and to where it should be directed. Since this Government has come to power there has been a cut in real terms in Federal road funds. Despite all the eternal whingeing that we heard particularly from Country Party members when in Opposition about the inadequacy of funding for roads, the fact is that when they came back to government they cut in real terms Federal road funds. That course is totally consistent with the professed policy of this Government of reducing government expenditure. I just wish that the Government had the honesty and the integrity to recognise the corollary of its policy of cutting government expenditure, which it says is a good thing, is the cutting of funds for roads or something else, which it says is a bad thing. That is another contradiction that the Government has to resolve.
I have noticed also that these State Premiers, these grandstanders like the Premier of Western Australia and the Premier of Queensland who always assert in the abstract sense their willingness, indeed their eagerness, to assume greater fiscal responsibility in return for greater power, have been bitterly critical of this cut in real terms of Federal road funds. In February of this year when the policy which ultimately produced this Bill was publicly announced, we had bellows from Sir Charles Court about the gross inadequacy of road funding for Western Australia. We- and by ‘we’ I mean the five Federal Labor members- jointly replied to Sir Charles with a Press statement on 28 February in which we pointed out that if Sir Charles really believed there was a need for greater expenditure on roads in Western Australia under the new federalism policy which he extols, there was a perfect opportunity for him to apply that policy. If he really believed Federal funding for roads was inadequate, all he had to do was to impose a State income tax from 1 July 1977 and he could spend however much he liked on roads. Of course that very logical suggestion was not taken up by Sir Charles. He replied with a broadside published in the West Australian on 2 March in which he said:
It is ironical that the five Federal Labor members who now seek to jump on the bandwagon over road funds when it was their Government in Canberra which initiated the serious deterioration in our share of the road money . . .
What Sir Charles was asserting was that the proportion of Federal funds paid to Western Australia had been declining and that that decline was initiated by the Whitlam Government in the 1974 road funding Act. The truth, as so frequently happens, is that Sir Charles’s statement was at variance with the facts.
– Order! Senator Walsh, you are making an offensive remark when you refer to the Premier of Western Australia as being untruthful. Be careful in respect of your language.
- Mr President, I am just pointing out that the statement made by Sir Charles was not true. Whether Sir Charles knowingly made a statement which was not true is not for me to judge. The fact, however, remains that he made a statement which was not true. In the five-year road program- 1 964-65 to 1968-69- the proportion of road funds allocated to Western Australia in each individual year varied from 17.7 per cent to 18 per cent. In the next five-year program - 1 969-70 to 1973-74- the proportion varied from 17.1 per cent to 15.2 per cent. It had been steadily falling since the peak of 1968-69. It has now fallen to 12.68 per cent. So the decline was not initiated by the Whitlam Government; it was initiated by the Gorton-McEwen Government in the 1 969 Act.
A subsequent Press statement was issued by the Western Australian Labor members on 3 March correcting the Premier’s misstatements of fact. It was not published by the West Australian newspaper which is generally recognised by anyone who follows the Australian Press to be easily the worst capital city newspaper published in Australia. I subsequently rang the West Australian and spoke to a Mr Goldsmith. I asked him whether he believed that the State’s major newspaper, having published, however innocently, misstatements of fact was under any obligation to publish a correction and, if so, why it had declined to do so. After some time to think about the matter, Mr Goldsmith telephoned back and said that they had decided not to publish the correction and that whilst not disputing that Sir Charles’s alleged facts were wrong and the correction was correct, it was not a fact of central relevance to the issue anyway. This of course begged the question: If that was so, why did the West Australian newspaper bother to publish Sir Charles Court’s misstatement of fact in the first place? I have not received an answer to that question. I take this opportunity to mention this to demonstrate just how difficult it is, with a newspaper like the West Australian which is a national disgrace, to inform the Western Australian public accurately. This would help to explain why the Court Government has been so successful. I thought about placing the matter in the hands of the Press Council and then decided that with a council with somebody as corrupt as David McNicoll as a member there was likely to be little point.
- Mr President, I take a point of order. The remark ‘a person as corrupt as David McNicoll ‘ is offensive to me personally.
- Mr President, on the point of order, can Senator Carrick cite the Standing Order which forbids me from describing Mr McNicoll as corrupt? If he wants me to justify the charge, I will.
- Mr President, as I understand the Standing Orders, they provide that if a statement is offensive to an honourable senator he can ask for it to be withdrawn. I must say that I have forborne from taking points of order with regard to offensive statements made about a Mr Sparkes of Queensland and various others, in respect of one of which you, Mr President, found a need to draw attention.
-Standing Order 418 does protect members of Parliament and the Houses of Parliament. In respect of references to other than members of Parliament, there is no specific Standing Order. It is left to the good judgment and decency of members not to state things here which could be hurtful, harmful and offensive to others outside. Standing Order 418 specifically refers to members of Parliament.
-Thank you, Mr President. Acting with good sense and judgment, I repeat that it is doubtful whether it would be worth seeking justice from any body which has as a member a person as corrupt as David McNicoll. Since Senator Carrick thinks that is a strong term to use, I will now justify the charge. In 1965 when David McNicoll was editor of the Sydney Daily Telegraph, he went to the trouble of falsifying the news. He received a story from a journalist named Robinson that the then Labor Government led, I think, by Mr Renshaw, was to introduce a new policy- a policy of providing cheap urban land for would-be home buyers. Robinson wrote the story- I think it was a very long story of about 76 paragraphs-and left it on Mr McNicoll ‘s desk. Later that evening a Mr Birtles who also worked for the Daily Telegraph and who was on leave at the time, received a telephone call from the editor, Mr McNicoll, asking him for the silent number of the telephone of the then Leader of the Liberal Party Opposition, Sir Robert Askin. The next day the Daily Telegraph carried a story which referred to this bold, imaginative, new Liberal Party housing plan which -
– Order! Senator Walsh, you will get back to the provisions of the legislation under debate at the present time. You are getting right off the mark.
-Very well, Mr President, I bow to your ruling. I am just demonstrating to Senator Carrick how responsible I am and I do not without just cause describe Mr McNicoll as a corrupt journalist. I understand that Mr McNicoll objects to my having complained about this matter. He ought to be grateful; I could have said much more than I did the first time I raised this matter. I could have referred to his expulsion from the Australian Journalists Association in 1948 for corruption.
– Could you expand on that, Senator?
– Order! Senator Walsh, you will address your remarks to the subject matter of the legislation now before the chamber.
– I defer to your ruling, Mr President. In conclusion I emphasise the unreconciled contradictions in the Liberal and National Country Parties at both the State and Federal levels between their professed objective ambition to decentralise power- to make State governments more responsible, to give them more power and to insist that they accept more responsibility- with the reluctance of State Premiers like Sir Charles Court and Mr BjelkePetersen to accept that responsibility. This is particularly so in the case of Sir Charles Court with respect to road funding. Likewise, if this Governmentand the members of the Liberal and National Country Parties in Canberra have to take total responsibility for this Government although they might be able to opt out of some of the responsibility for what their colleagues in the State parliaments do- really believes in its own policy, it would not make grants to the States for road funding at all. It would just have block grants to the States for anything the States wanted to do with them. So, it has not reconciled that contradiction. Even if it diverged from its stated policy to the extent that it made specific grants for road funding, of course it would not stipulate the various categories in which these funds had to be spent as it has done in this legislation and as Senator Collard and possibly other honourable senators have commended it for so doing. I suppose I can understand Senator
Carrick ‘s sensitivity in respect of Mr McNicoll because I understand that he was the Secretary of the Liberal Party in New South Wales at the time that event took place.
– After that contribution from Senator Walsh, one would be surprised to be reminded that we are discussing two roads Bills. The honourable senator entertained us, as usual, with some sort of speech that was completely bereft of any arguments on the Bill itself. This is typical. He tends to hide any ability he has with abuse, as usual. I should like firstly to refer to the contribution by Senator Keeffe earlier in this debate. He quite rightly pointed to the fuel conservation difficulty which is faced by this nation. I remind him of a report that was placed on his desk and also the desks of the other members of Parliament by the National Energy Advisory Committee. This Committee was established by this Government earlier this year. It has the role of recommending to the Government an energy policy. The Committee has not been functioning very long but already it has produced a very detailed and lengthy report. For the benefit of Senator Keeffe and other honourable senators, I will quote some of the conclusions reached in this report.
– I rise to take a point of order. I draw attention to the fact that the report from which Senator Thomas now wishes to quote was tabled in this Parliament yesterday. It is on the Notice Paper for further debate, and Senator Mulvihill has been granted leave to continue his remarks in the debate on that report.
- Senator Thomas, you will confine your speech to the matters immediately before the Senate.
– I accept your ruling, Mr President. I was referring to this matter because it comprised the main portion of the debate and the arguments put by Senator Keeffe and it was also referred to by Senator Walsh. I will outline some of the headings in this report, if I may, Mr President. The first was a recommendation to institute a national energy conservation program. The second refers to a national publicity campaign. The third refers to providing educational material for a training program. The fourth refers to the establishment of an advisory service to assist industry in improving energy use efficiency. The fifth says that the Commonwealth and State governments and other public bodies should demonstrate proper energy management in their own establishments, setting examples in energy conservation and providing useful guidelines for other sections of Australian society. There are many other recommendations but what I have read demonstates, I hope conclusively, that this Government is taking action in regard to energy conservation and is very concerned about that matter.
I propose to devote a few moments of the time I intend to spend on this debate to try to urge the Federal Government that Western Australia is deserving of a larger share of the amount of money allocated to road funding in Australia. I have no argument with the whole of the amount that is allocated. I think it is a very generous amount and it is- completely justified. I certainly support the contention of the Government that under its federalism policy the States are getting far more and they are better able to spend their own money as they see fit. It is up to the State governments to allocate their increased funds as they wish. Senator Walsh tried to argue, completely unsuccessfully, against the point made by Senator Collard in this respect. Senator Walsh does not seem to understand the difference between road classifications and the greater freedom that this Government has given to the States to allocate road funds to the various road classifications.Certainly it is well within the right and responsibility of this Federal Government to recommend allocations to the various classifications but the States are completely free to allocate funds within those classifications as they see fit. The States are certainly in a far better position than the Federal Government to understand their own road needs. They are far more responsive to the voters in the respective States in relation to their own roads needs. I think this is an extremely valuable move along the road to a successful federalism policy.
I think the additional allocation for Western Australia is justified, but I would like to take to task the Bureau of Roads report for, I think, 1973. 1 maintain that insufficient recognition was given to certain aspects that are peculiar to Western Australia. I refer in particular to the tremendous distances between centres in Western Australia compared with other States and to the tremendous earning capacity of Western Australia in regard to the iron ore industry. I also refer to the inability of many local government authorities in Western Australia situated in the remote areas of the State that depend entirely on cattle and in some instances sheep to provide the local government contribution to the local roads situation. The people in those remote areas are certainly seriously disadvantaged. The cattle prices are well known. The costs of producing wool in those areas that our predecessors in government helped to accelerate are unfortunately still climbing. So, the ability of local government authorities to contribute to road funding is certainly decreasing. This is not quite so apparent in many other areas. Senator Collard quite rightly pointed out that Queensland is a very highly decentralised State. So the ability of local government authorities in that State to contribute to road funding is a good deal greater than in Western Australia. I repeat that those three factors- the distances between centres, the earning capacity of Western Australia and the ability of local government to contribute to road funding- seriously deteriorates the position in Western Australia. I urge the new roads organisation to take further and greater heed of those matters.
It is unfortunate that Western Australia’s share of Commonwealth roads funds is deteriorating. It has eroded from 18 per cent of the total funds in 1 969 to 12.67 per cent this year. The sharpest reduction in any State in Australia has been in Western Australia. In support of the claim that Western Australia is a growing State, I point out that it contributes a tremendous amount of money to Australia’s export earnings. The iron ore shipments from the Pilbara alone contributed $774.8m in 1975-76. In 1977-78 they are expected to exceed $ 1,000m. The latest figures, on a per capita basis, show that Western Australia produced export earnings of $1,850 per person, by far the highest contribution of any Australian State. I believe that that sort of point has not had enough attention paid to it by the Bureau of Roads.
Continuing that line of argument, I should like to point out that the criterion of a grant per kilometre of road in Australia may be another method of judging the rights of each State to road funds. I have a table here which demonstrates that in 1977-78 Tasmania will receive $1,042 per kilometre of road and that the figures for the other States are declining. New South Wales will receive $736.6 per kilometre of road and Western Australia will receive $371.8 per kilometre of road. On that criterion, Western Australia is disadvantaged. Another statistic which may reinforce this argument is the number of kilometres travelled by each motor vehicle. The information I have is that the number of kilometres travelled by each motor vehicle in Western Australia is higher than in any other State, according to the Bureau of Roads estimates. The figure for Western Australia is 17,598 kilometres, which is by far the highest, and the average for all States is 16,789 kilometres. The estimated growth rate on a national average is 3.5 per cent and the estimate for Western Australia is 3.9 per cent.
In the latest report of the Bureau of Roads, one of the strongest reasons advanced against making a substantial increase in the Western Australian allocation was that at that stage the contribution from motor vehicle registrations and local government contributions was substantially lower in Western Australia than in other States. That contribution has changed substantially since then, and in fact motor vehicle licence fees are now far higher in Western Australia than they were at that time and are the second highest in Australia. Because of our vast distances and the trend towards decentralisation in the Pilbara, which is attracting a quite large and growing population, shipping services are declining sadly. There has been a reduced coastal shipping service to many centres in Western Australia, brought about initially by tremendous industrial problems and more recently by the sheer economics of the service. Because of that fact alone, the use of roads in Western Australia and the far north-west is increasing tremendously.
I concede that Western Australia has one advantage with regard to roads which other States do not have. I have travelled widely in most States of Australia and I can say that the soil types over most of Western Australia allow the roads to be formed very cheaply. The soil is of a gravelly sandy nature which makes the formation of a road foundation a very easy and cheap proposition. In contrast to that, in many areas of South Australia and certainly in the black soil plains of Queensland, that situation does not occur and a great deal of the money from road allocations is used in the formation of the many feet of foundations that are needed. However, as I said before, that is not the situation in Western Australia. I strongly support the Bill, but in conclusion I must urge the Federal Government to give what I consider to be a fairer allocation of funds to Western Australia.
– The Senate is engaged in a cognate debate on the Appropriation (Urban Public Transport) Bill 1977 and the States Grants (Roads) Bill 1977. It was interesting to hear the previous speaker, Senator Thomas, in some measure criticise his Government for not making sufficient funds available to his own State of Western Australia. I join with him in making the same criticism of the Federal Government for not making sufficient funds available to my State of South Australia.
– He has got to join Dr Richardson.
-I do not think he will. However, Senator Thomas has voiced his public disapproval of the inadequate funding for State roads which, to a large extent, particularly in regard to national highways, are the 100 per cent responsibility of the Federal Government. It was not my intention to enter into this debate until I heard Senator Jessop being critical of the South Australian Minister for Transport, Mr Virgo. Of course, we in South Australia are very proud of Mr Virgo and the job that he has done over the years since he became Transport Minister. We are also proud of our Government, and our pride was borne out by the result of the election on Saturday. It is all very well for South Australian Liberal senators to get up here and criticise the State Labor Government and say that it is not doing the right thing, but when any government is returned by a 6 per cent swing I think that the people of the State are registering their massive approval of the work that the Government is carrying out. In the second reading speech by the Minister for Transport (Mr Nixon) on the Appropriation (Urban Public Transport) Bill I was interested to read this statement:
Substantial increases in ridership have occurred since the Christie Downs Railway was opened. Patronage at the Christie Downs Station is already exceeding 197S predictions by almost 30 per cent. Particularly pleasing is the fact that over SO per cent of users previously travelled to central Adelaide by car. The success of this project is a clear indication that well planned public transport improvements can increase patronage particularly by attracting previous car users.
Of course, the constructing authority for that railway was the Dunstan Labor Government and the person overseeing it was Mr Virgo, the Minister for Transport. If I could go back to the election of the Labor Government in South Australia in 1965, most of us who have taken some interest in public transport in South Australia realise that it was Mr Walsh who made provision for car parks at many suburban railway stations.
– Order! The honourable senator is not referring to the matters before the chamber at this moment. I ask him to return to the legislation.
– With due deference to you, Mr President, that is just what I am doing. I am referring to the paragraph in the Minister’s second reading speech on the Appropriation (Urban Public Transport) Bill where he deals with the number of people who are now using the service. The Minister called it an increase in ridership and referred to the people who are using the Christie Downs railway service. I want to point out that the very reason those people can use the transport service in the increased numbers to which Mr Nixon has referred is that Mr Walsh was responsible for providing car parking facilities at many of the suburban railway stations in South Australia. People can drive to the nearest railway station, park their cars and then travel into the metropolitan area by train. When they have done their day’s work or carried out their business they can go back by train, get into their cars at the car parking areas and go to their respective homes. I raised that matter because I think we should give credit where it is due. I am very pleased that Mr Nixon saw fit to mention that fact in his second reading speech.
It will be recalled that Mr Tonkin, in his efforts to unseat the Dunstan Labor Government, was very critical of the services provided by the Dunstan Government for people in the southern areas of Adelaide and he was hoping to win some of those seats. Because of the statement by Mr Nixon in his second reading speech, I have no doubt that those people are aware of the urban public transport services that have been provided with the construction of the Christie Downs railway line. Senator Jessop was very critical of Mr Virgo. I am now dealing with the States Grants (Roads) Bill. Senator Jessop went on to criticise Mr Virgo and said that he had put a very low priority on sealing portion of the Stuart Highway. We are well aware that Senator Jessop organised a group of people to make representations to Mr Nixon to get Federal funds for that road. By so doing he has admitted, and he admitted it again today- he has made representations with Senator Kilgariff to the Minister seeking extra allocations for work to be carried out on that road- that it is the responsibility of the Federal Government to seal that road and to upgrade it. We well recall that before the winter recess Senator Jessop was responsible for organising a meeting to bring some pressure to bear on his own Federal Government to make funds available. I should like to refer to a letter sent to Senator Bishop from Mr Allen, the Secretary of the South Australian Region of the Australian Road Federation. I will not quote all the letter but I will quote the pertinent paragraph at the beginning of page 2 in which Mr Allen said:
A fact finding trip along the existing route to Alice Springs by a group from the Australian Road Federation and politicians of both parties is planned to leave Adelaide on Saturday, 4th June. This plan is to be publicised, with TV and newspaper coverage, and should culminate in a public rally at Alice Springs asking for support from the Territory on this project.
Mr Allen again pointed out in a letter to Senator Jessop, which was circulated to members of Parliament, in the opening stanza:
Dear Senator Jessop,
UPGRADING OF STUART HIGHWAY
Further to the meeting recently held in Adelaide at which this matter was discussed, this Association wishes to advise-
Mr Allen then lists various things. Senator Jessop apparently organised the meeting in conjunction with Mr Allen. It is very interesting to note who attended that meeting and signed the petition which Mr Allen talked about seeking more assistance from the Federal Government for funds to carry out work on the Stuart Highway. I will only mention the politicians named. The petition was signed by Senator Kilgariff; Mr Ryan, who is the Cabinet member for Transport in the Northern Territory Legislative Assembly; Graham Gunn, the member for Eyre; Sam Calder, MHR for the Northern Territory; Mr Russack, who is the now deposed shadow Minister for Transport in the Liberal Party in South Australia; and D. S. Jessop, senator for South Australia. Nowhere on that list do we find any member of the Australian Labor Party because they were not invited to attend that meeting. Nowhere do we find the name of Mr Laurie Wallis who is the honourable member for Grey and through whose electorate the Stuart Highway goes. He was not asked to attend the meeting. Yet, at the very death knock, Senator Bishop was asked by Mr Allen to contact members of the Parliamentary Labor Party to see whether they would participate in that illfated bus journey to the Northern Territory and traverse over the road. Of course, we all know what happened to the bus journey. The bus broke down.
Senator Jessop has been very critical of Mr Virgo and some people have been very critical of members of the Parliamentary Labor Party and in particular, senators, for not taking part in making some representations to the present Government to have more funds available for this road. As I pointed out, we were not aware that that initial meeting took place. It was only at the death knock that we were asked to go on that bus trip. However, most of us had other commitments.
– You should have been more wide-awake.
– I do not know what Senator Messner said but we were not away somewhere. The Senate sat until late on the Thursday night and the senators who were going on that bus trip left early the next morning. That meant that some of the Federal members of the
Liberal Party who were on that trip were not here in the Parliament attending to their duties when they set off on that trip but the Labor Party senators were here, attending to their parliamentary duties. If we had been notified in time, I am sure that some of us would have gone on the trip. In his speech, Senator Jessop went on to complain about the fact that Mr Virgo was not making funds available for this road. I spoke to Mr Virgo an hour or so ago on the telephone about this matter. He said that one of the reasons that the South Australian Government cannot use any more funds than it is using for the work on this road is that there has been a reduction in Federal funds from $17.2 to $ 15m this year by way of States grants to the South Australian Government. In fact, the South Australian Government is contributing $5m of its own funds to do work on particular roads in the State. I think the South Australian Government should be complimented on this.
I want to read to the Senate a portion of a Press statement put out by Mr Virgo in relation to some of these false claims made that the South Australian Government, through its Minister, has neglected its duty in relation to the Stuart Highway. It is recorded in the Adelide Advertiser of 17 May 1977. It is headed: ‘New route for Stuart Highway’. It states:
The Federal and South Australian governments have agreed on a new route for the Stuart Highway between South Australia and the Northern Territory.
But construction of the highway is not expected to begin for at least two years.
The Minister of Transport (Mr Virgo) said last night he and the Federal Minister for Transport (Mr Nixon) had agreed on the route.
It now needs only the approval ofthe Federal Minister for Environment, Housing and Community Development (Mr Newman).
Mr Virgo went on to say:
The cost is expected to be more than $50m and construction could take between five and 10 years.
Mr Virgo said last night: ‘The Highways Department will commence the investigative and planning activities, but in the light of the reduction in funds for national highways to SA, it is not possible to have significant roadworks on the Stuart Highway undertaken before 1978-79, if then.
Of course, we now find that there has been no increase and, as a matter of fact, there has been a reduction in funds. The article continues:
We know how much money the State will receive for national roads next financial year, and that money is fully committed.
However, we don’t know how much we will receive in further financial years.
At this time I don’t envisage any real progress in the building and sealing of the highway before the turn of the decade .
Mr Virgo made that statement on 17 May this year. He was hopeful that there would be something in this Budget to assist the South Australian Government to carry out the necessary work. Unfortunately, it is not there and we now find Senator Jessop saying today, in his contribution to this debate, that both he and Senator Kilgariff have made representations to Mr Nixon and they have been given a sympathetic ear. I think a lot of people from South Australia are used to hearing and reading statements by Senator Jessop in this vein. We all recall his statement about the Whyalla shipyard and how he had the sympathetic ear of the Minister and what was going to happen. I ask honourable senators opposite to have a look at today’s Adelaide news to see what the people of Whyalla think about these pieinthesky statements that Senator Jessop is so handy at making.
– Order! I ask the honourable senator to come back to the Bills before the Senate.
-Yes I will, Mr President. There is no substance in the statements made by Senator Jessop. I turn now to the Appropriation (Urban Public Transport) Bill. What we should be looking at- Senator Walsh pointed this out most forcibly- is that there is a mere pittance of $5m in the Budget this year for new projects for urban public transport. If we examine the Budget Papers, we find at page 84 of Mr Lynch ‘s Budget Paper under the heading ‘Transport and Communication’, the statement:
The Budget provides $844.2m for transport and communication activities in 1977-78, $144.8m less than in 1976-77.
They are Mr Lynch ‘s own words in his own Budget Paper. If we examine page 85 of the Budget Papers and look at the reduction in urban public transport expenditure this year, we find there is a decrease of $7.4m -
– That is 25 per cent in real terms.
– Yes, that is 25 per cent in real terms. This is something of which people in country areas, particularly those affected by the urban public transport system, should take clear notice. I am sure that the people of South Australia took great notice of this on 17 September. One matter that concerns me is that the decline in Federal funds for the urban public transport systems must also be seen against the background of the Government’s 11c a gallon increase in oil prices. This will have a very grave detrimental effect on country people. On the one hand, we have Senator Jessop and Senator
Thomas complaining that their own Government is not making sufficient funds available for country roads- I join with them in that aspectbut, on the other hand, we will find that because of this 11c increase in petrol fewer and fewer people will be able to use the roads because of the enormous costs to them. Yet, with the extra increase in revenue that the Federal Government will obtain from this 1 lc a gallon increase in the price of petrol, it should have been able to make more money available for the road system. In fact, it should have been able to make available a massive amount of money. But it is not doing this. This will be of great concern to people who have to use public transport or even private transport.
If the Government were sincere in its stated election policy that it would decrease the numbers of unemployed, this is one area in which it could bring about a massive decrease in unemployment. It could make available money for the construction of both urban and country roads. In turn, this would help private enterprise. As I have said in the Senate on many occasions, governments do not manufacture materials. At times, they manufacture a lot of hot air, as we have witnessed during the last couple of years. Governments do not manufacture the materials which are provided by private enterprise for the carrying out of capital works for which the Commonwealth Government and the State governments provide the necessary finance. If this Government could only see its way clear to expend more money on capital works, such as urban transport and country roads, we could find money flowing through to private enterprise which in turn could create more employment for people. We would gain a double-edged benefit from that sort of expenditure. But the Government is obsessed with bringing down the inflation rate, to use the phrase which Government supporters use, at the expense of the jobs of people. The Government ought to be having another look at the things it is doing in trying to provide much more money in areas which will create employment. That should be in the areas we have been discussing today and which are covered by these two Bills. It should do this so that the people of Australia can be given a better transport system on which to drive their motor cars, even if it will cost an enormous amount of extra money because they will have to pay an extra 1 lc a gallon for the fuel.
The Opposition supports these two Bills. We hope that when similar Bills come before the Parliament next year, the Minister for Transport, Mr Nixon, and the Treasurer, Mr Lynch, will have taken some heed of the pleas made by Senator Jessop and Senator Thomas, two Government senators, and Opposition senators who have spoken in the debate. I hope that they will give a fillip to the expenditure in these two areas of urban public transport and national highways when the next Budget for the new financial year is brought down.
– President, at the conclusion of my speech earlier today I neglected to seek leave of the Senate to have a table incorporated in Hansard. I now seek leave to have that table incorporated in Hansard.
– I advise honourable senators who may not have been present at the time that Senator Coleman made reference during her speech to her desire to incorporate a table in Hansard later in her remarks. She did not do so at the time. Is leave granted for the table to be incorporated in Hansard! There being no objection, leave is granted.
The table read as follows-
The Australian Labor Government ‘s allocation of funds to public transport was the first major investment of public funds in urban transport since the electrification of Sydney’s urban rail services in the 1 920 ‘s.
When the cost of the 1974-75 program is added to the program approved in 1973-74 the Australian Labor Government agreed to support public transport improvement projects to the extent of $ 1 38.02m over 5 years.
These projects covered every public transport mode.
An analysis of the programs approved in the first 2 years by State and mode:
-Mr President, I suppose it is pleasing for honourable senators to know that at least there is a positive program of road construction in their States. For that reason, we can see in the Bills before the Senate allocations of certain amounts of funds to various areas of road construction. As I have said, it is encouraging at least to see that program. I agree this far with what Senator McLaren has said: South Australia’s share is not a sufficiently high percentage of the whole. South Australia does not get its fair share of the total cake of funds that are being allocated in this legislation for road construction. I go as far as that in agreeing with Senator McLaren. However, I must inform Senator McLaren of something about which in his quieter moments he would be well aware: It is the Australian Labor Party that stands responsible for the small and unfair share of funds that South Australia gets. The reason for this stands in two areas.
Firstly, there was developed in the early 1960s and middle 1960s a very comprehensive road program for metropolitan Adelaide. It was called the MATS plan- the Metropolitan Adelaide Transport System plan. It was a plan formulated in the beginning by the Playford Government and, as far as its construction was concerned- the studies and the work which were done to construct that plan- this was done during the three years of the Labor Government from 1965 to 1968. It was a plan paid for out of government funds to the extent of some $700,000 by the Labor Government of that day. However, it was a plan which was utterly rejected by the Labor Opposition when it lost office in 1968 in one of the most cynical political moves surrounding Australian transport that has ever been made. The then government, moving into Opposition, entirely rejected, for the sake of political opportunism, the plan which it had commenced and for which it had paid. Of course, it was not just that cynical approach that was so deplorable. It was the fact that that party, in gaining government again in 1970, said that it would delay the construction of the essential parts of that program for at least 10 years. So it was saying to those who might help it- in fact, to the Commonwealth Government: ‘We do not want your funds for 10 years. We will go slow. We will put all this program aside. We will not keep up with the metropolitan transport needs of Adelaide like every other government is keeping up with its metropolitan transport needs in other capital cities of Australia. We will be the odd man out and deny to our citizens the help we can get from the Commonwealth Government’. We can see the result today. Intervening in the period between 1970 and today when we watch this poor result for South Australia we must remember there was a conjunction of Labor governments at the Federal and South Australian State level. From 1972 to 1975 a Labor Government was managing the affairs of South Australia and a Labor Government managing the affairs of Australia. This presented a wonderful opportunity to remedy the poor showing of South Australia in regard to roads a matter upon which I agree with Senator McLaren. I put the question to him, through you, Mr President: Why is it that this same percentage of funds going to the South Australian Government applies now as was the case prior to 1972 and the advent of the Federal Labor Government? The reason is quite clear. Federal Labor has always had a bias against South Australia in relation to road programming. That is proven by the conjunction of governments. The new agreement was drawn up in that time between 1972 and 1975. Senator McLaren has spoken in the Senate today and complained about this inevitable disparity which his government perpetuated and which I believe even widened to some extent.
I have protested about this before, as senators who paid attention to debates on road matters would know. I went so far as to vote against a certain procedure of a Bill which allocated these funds on an earlier occasion. I have made my protest quite plain and I do not intend to carry it to that extent again. I understand that it was a symbolic move and it has no more support.
– You might lose your endorsement for Hawker if you do.
-Senator McLaren had better not talk about electoral matters. I notice that the area in which he lives solidly returned a Liberal Party representative to the House of Representatives. On that basis, I would be very happy to invite Senator McLaren down at Hawker. I hope he takes up residence there. It would be a wonderful omen for me.
What we have seen as the basis ofthe problem is the poor showing of the South Australian Labor Government in negotiating with the Commonwealth. On every occasion that Government has folded in presenting the South Australian case in Canberra in the councils which have allocated these funds. It is well known in South Australia that the South Australian Premier and his Ministers are very weak negotiators when they travel interstate and meet their peers at the State level and at the Commonwealth level in regard to the allocation of Australia’s resources.
It has resulted in this son of comparison. South Australia gets back out of the all-up funds, including those for national roads and those used for other national road purposes, $1.1 from the Commonwealth for every dollar we spend ourselves in South Australia. Western Australia receives $1.5 on the same basis. That is an enormous disparity. The situation in respect to roads other than national roads is perhaps a fairer indicator. For roads outside roads of national priority, for every $ 1 that South Australia spends it gets 60c from the Commonwealth whereas Western Australia gets $ 1 for every $ 1 it spends.
It is therefore a tremendous reflection on those negotiators who come from South Australia and tamely and quietly accept that son of allocation from the total road funds of Australia. It is to the eternal discredit of the Labor Party, the party which Senator McLaren so vocally represents here, that it accepts that from year to year. South Australians are not aware of any fight put up on their behalf to make the share more equal. For that reason this particular comparison is so pointed. One could argue, as I have said before in these debates, that Western Australia has a much greater claim in regard to rural roads. But one area which is incontestable is capital city roads and those roads which serve suburban populations. In that area the needs of South Australia are quite beyond those of Western Australia. The funds which are devoted to be expended on the construction of urban arterial roads amount to $4.6m for South Australia and $1 1.2 for Western Australia. The reason for that, apart from the weak presentation of its case by the South Australian Government in Federal councils, goes right back to the initial point that I made when I rose, that is, that the South Australian Government has completely abandoned its responsibilities in regard to providing even plans for building arterial roads for the South Australian urban population.
Senator JESSOP (South Australia)-Mr President, I claim to have been misrepresented. I seek leave to make a personal explanation.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
-Earlier in the debate I listened to a speech made by Senator McLaren. I am not normally moved to reply but on this occasion I believe that the record ought to be put straight. He referred to what he considered to be the fact that no Labor member of parliament in South Australia was invited to travel on a bus trip over the Stuart Highway -
– I did not.
-I believe those are the words that I heard. Senator McLaren stated that no attempt was made to approach Mr Laurie Wallis. That is not true. I recall quite clearly preparing a report which was the result of a meeting in Adelaide arranged by the Australian Roads Federation, inspired by myself, Mr Calder and Senator Kilgariff from the Northern Territory, following approaches that had been made by the Chamber of Commerce with regard to that road. The meeting was held. Some 26 people attended, including representatives of transport operators and chambers of commerce from South Australia and the Northern Territory, a transport drivers’ representative and representatives of the Australian Roads Federation. As a result of that meeting we asked for submissions from the people present. After those submissions were presented we prepared a submission to the Minister for Transport (Mr Nixon), a copy of which was given to Senator Bishop. I asked Senator Bishop to consult with other members of the Australian Labor Party Transport Committee and invite them to join us in a trip over the route so that we could have a united approach on that highway which is so important to South Australia. I relied on Senator Bishop to issue the appropriate invitations to the people whom he thought would be interested in the trip. The Australian Roads Federation organised the bus trip. It sent a representative to the State Parliament to issue invitations to State Labor members of parliament. None of them responded to that invitation. I thought I had better make that quite clear.
Senator McLAREN (South Australia)-Mr President, I claim to have just been misrepresented by Senator Jessop, and I seek leave to make a personal explanation.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– When people who heard Senator Jessop claim that I had misrepresented him read Hansard tomorrow they will see clearly that what I said was that no Labor member of parliament was invited to the inaugural meeting, the result of which was this bus trip. I quoted from the list which Senator Jessop has mentioned. I have the names of the signatories on that list. I quoted the names of members of parliament who attended. I said that no Labor member had been invited to that meeting. I stand by that. I said that members of the Parliamentary Labor Party were invited to go on the bus trip but that at such a late hour they could not forgo previous commitments. I went on to say, as Hansard will prove, that that bus trip left Adelaide on a Friday morning and the Parliament in Canberra was sitting on the Thursday night. I explained that it was impossible to go on the trip. Senator Jessop will recall that the Labor Party made arrangements, through Senator Robertson, for representatives of the Labor Party to attend the meeting that was held in Alice Springs. Senator Jessop is saying things which are not entirely true. When he reads Hansard tomorrow he will see that I did not misrepresent him.
– I respond to the second reading debate on the Appropriation (Urban Public Transport) Bill 1977 and the States Grants (Roads) Bill 1977. One could have been pardoned during the journey for believing that the Opposition was most vehemently opposed to these two Bills. I remain re-assured that in fact it fully supports the Government and this will be expressed in the vote.
– We are always thankful for small mercies.
-I think that Senator McLaren might not be thankful in a moment or two for the small mercies that will be unfolded, including simple justice for him. A number of matters have been raised. I will not weary the Senate by going into great detail. The Opposition insisted that there were cuts in funds for both measures. Let me put the record straight. In the Appropriation (Urban Public Transport) Bill the Government is proposing over a period of two years to spend 40 per cent more than was spent in the three years previously. I think that is a fairly clear indication that there is an increase and not a cut. In the triennium for roads the Government is to spend, from memory, $ 1,425m, in any case some $200m more than in the previous triennium.
There was also some earnest inweighing against the fact that only $5m was set aside for new works in urban public transport. I looked at the figures and saw that from 1974 onwards there were no moneys allocated. This is the first money allocated for new works. One starts to wonder about these things. Senator Coleman spoke about cost escalation. The $27.73m for cost escalation does not date just from 1976 but from the commencement of the agreement in 1973. It is an escalation over those years, the years when the locusts ate, the period of record inflation during the term of the Labor Government. If it had not been such a sizable amount we would be looking at different figures today. The
Government would be able to allocate more funds for new projects. Senator Walsh and, I think, one other Labor senator made much of increases in oil prices and their effect on roads. I simply make a couple of comments. I may stand correction. My memory is that when the McMahon Government went out of office in 1972 there were some 21 oil rigs in operation in Australia. When the Whitlam Government went out of office there was one oil rig in Australia, and I am not sure whether it was working. One would think that that would be a compelling fact.
When I heard honourable senators opposite talking about the high cost of petrol, the thought occurred to me: Am I wrong in the belief that the Whitlam Labor Party advocated a world parity price for oil? Why is there this fervour in debate and this failure to link with the situation? I will demonstrate that a little further. I am told that Senator Jessop was wrong and naughty to be doing these things he was doing; that it was the Federal Government that ought to be funding these things. Senator Jessop was quite right in pointing out that the Federal Government had turned to the South Australian Government very validly and said: ‘Out of the funds you have got can you do some upgrading work to get this thing on course?’ The response to that from Senator McLaren was that he had rung Mr Virgo and he had said that he could not do this because in 1976-77 he got $ 17.3m for national highways and in 1977-78 only $ 15m.
What was not said here were three quite vital things. First, the reduction undertaken in the national highways program was caused by the completion of the significant expenditure on the Eyre Highway last year. This enabled some movement of funds to other areas. What Senator McLaren did not say was that South Australia made no protest about the specific allocation as between national highways and other matters at the Australian Transport Advisory Committee meeting in February 1977. But the bona fides can come now because we now know that the South Australian Government is hell-bent on using more money if it can for the Stuart Highway. Of course, there is a provision in the legislation that if the States can satisfy the Federal Minister on the grounds laid down then we can transfer funds from one category to another. So there is an ability to transfer funds in South Australia. My understanding is that this year South Australia will get $40.4m compared with $38.8m last year. So within the compass of things, if South Australia wants to upgrade the Stuart Highway it is a matter of judgment. Mr President, I simply draw attention to three things. Because the main Eyre Highway has been completed, obviously funds are available to switch to national highways. That is plain English. The second thing is that no protest has been made about this and the third thing is that there may be transfers if they are desired.
I want to say fairly quietly that Senator Walsh, in his normal fashion in this Parliament, indulged in what I regarded as very offensive and continually offensive words. It is true, and I know it, that it is competent for anybody virtually without restriction to say anything about a person other than a member of this Parliament or some other Parliament. That does not mean that there are not natural restraints, and very valid natural restraints, on anybody here. If honourable senators have the liberty of this chamber they should not abuse it and they should not be protected themselves by it. I can simply say that presumably, if Senator Walsh believes what he said here, he will be willing to say the same things outside so that those who are not here to defend themselvescanavailthemselvesoftheordinary processesofdefenceoutside.Ihaveneverbe- lievedthattheprivilegeofabuseofothersinthis Parliamentshouldgototheextentthataperson candosomethingherethathewouldnotbe willingtodooutside.Isaythatwiththebestof goodwillintheworld,becausebyandlargethe standardofdebateinthisplaceisgoodandwe respectthenormalliberties.
Finally, there has been a discussion on whether particular States- Western Australia was mentioned by Senator Thomas and South Australia by Senator Steele Hall- were getting the correct proportion of funds because of their particular disabilities. I suppose nobody has ever been happy with formulae. Of course, formulae have been looked at and changed. Senator Steele Hall made a statement here during the debate on the previous Bill relating to this legislation. I think it was the Bill that provided for the interim funding. I undertook then to refer to the Minister concerned what he had said, and I have done so. Today he pointed out what could be a valid objection. I understand that now there is movement, however gradual, towards some rectification in that regard. An attempt was made also to say that money ought to be spent under the States Grants (Roads) Bill for the relief of unemployment. As to the first situation, the Labor Party itself in its last Budget in office accepted the principle that it could not simply inflate the deficit and hope that it could get more employment. In fact, the then Treasurer, Mr Hayden, pointed out that enlarging the deficit would create higher inflation and more unemployment.
Clearly, therefore, the Labor Party would be very happy with the fact that we are now able to get the deficit down to $2.2 billion. The fact of the unemployment situation is that the allocation of road funds has been largely to rural local and urban local roads on the basis that they are the most labour intensive. I put it to the Senate that under the existing circumstances of limited budgeting the amounts are significant. The amounts for roads are to be indexed in the future. This shows that the Government has been willing to place both these matters in high priority. Like the Opposition, I commend these Bills to the Senate.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
– I wish to raise two matters concerning payments to Tasmania. Table 1 in the second reading speech shows the total spent in each State. The figure allocated to Tasmania is 2.2 per cent of the total, which seems to be below the national average. I ask whether we could have an explanation as to why that is the case? Can we be told whether the Tasmanian Government in fact sought a higher allocation of moneys for this purpose? If this information is not available now, perhaps the Senate could be supplied with it later. Table 3 shows the allocations to the States for continuation of approved projects and for new projects. Of the total of $5m for new projects Tasmania’s allocation is 0.4 per cent. It is only $100,000. It seems to me to be an abnormally low amount. I ask the Minister for Education (Senator Carrick) whether he can explain that. Can he also tell me whether this legislation would allow for the Tasmanian Government to use moneys under this legislation for the provision or the subsidising of ferry services in Tasmania? If the information is not available now, perhaps we can get it later.
– I could get information now, but because each of the points is very significant and particularly as the information is for Senator Wriedt from Tasmania, I undertake to get in depth information for him and let him have it.
Bill agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill (on motion by Senator Carrick) read a third time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
– I want to ask a couple of questions concerning this Bill. When the Minister for Education (Senator Carrick) was replying to the debate on the motion for the second reading of the Bill he mentioned the control over the transfer of allocations from areas to areas and so on. I mentioned in my contribution to that debate the problems that my State of Queensland is having because it has been divided into three zones for allocations under the Main Roads Act, I think it is. What can be done overall nationally or what attitude can the national Parliament adopt to make sure that these moneys are in fact spent in the way in which they ought to be spent? Can that be done without a State having to come back to the Minister to ask him whether it can transfer money from one to another?
– Although my advisers could give me some hints, I think that the principle is one that I should refer to the Minister for Transport (Mr Nixon) and ask him to give a reply to the honourable senator on it.
– According to clause 6 of the Bill the Federal Minister for Transport may from time to time, among other things, notify to a State the order in which he considers that works in connection with national roads in the State should be carried out. According to clause 7 the Minister may request a State to submit particulars of projects to be specified in a program of projects and specify the classes of projects in respect of which particulars of the project are to be approved by him before the projects are included in such a program. The point I make is that a big power is vested in the Federal Minister. Under clause 7(2)(c) the Minister may approve the program- that is the program for the States- or modify the program to the extent he thinks desirable and approve the program as so modified.
Clause 7(3) provides that a reference in proposed subsection (2) to the modification of a program includes reference to the omission of a project from a program and the addition of a project to a program. So the Federal Minister can reject all the programs of a State and substitute his own. Under clause 7 (6) the Minister may approve a variation, a revocation or a revocation and substitution of a new program for a program of projects approved by him under proposed subsection (2) or (5). Clause 16 (4) states that where the Minister is, in accordance with sub-clause ( 1 ), furnished with particulars of a project, the Minister considers, having regard to these particulars, the project should not be an approved project for the purposes of Part II or III as the case may be, the Minister may exclude the project from the program of projects submitted to him for approval. Part II deals with national highways.
The Government boasts that its federalism policy gives freedom to the States, but here we have legislation that is taking it completely away. The sole judge and the one person responsible is the Federal Minister. What is more serious than that is what the Government is doing to Senator Jessop. Senator Jessop has only one line that he can argue and only one justification for being a member of this chamber, that is, one involving his condemnation of the Labor Government in South Australia for not doing anything about the Stuart Highway and certain propaganda programs. The Government will destroy that man if it takes away from him the right to condemn the State Government by putting this responsibility in the hands of the Federal Minister. I am sure he finds it very embarrassing that, irrespective of whether it is included in Mr Virgo ‘s program, the Federal Minister has the right at all times to say whether work on the Stuart Highway commences or stops. Gone forever will be Senator Jessop ‘s right to complain about the actions of the State Government in that regard. I do not know whether Senator Jessop has anything else going for him in South Australia.
– I should inform Senator Cavanagh that this provision is not a new provision in a roads grants Bill. If I may say so, it was in fact a provision administered by the Whitlam Government in its term of office. It is not new in any way. On examination it does not provide reserve or latent powers to the Commonwealth to do these things but there is not in any way any conflict with the federalism policy. I remind Senator Cavanagh that the Minister for Transport (Mr Nixon) has asked Mr Virgo, the Minister for Transport in South Australia, whether he will give priorities. He has indicated to Mr Virgo his desire that there be priorities for upgrading the Stuart Highway. I explained earlier in my reply to the debate on the motion for the second reading of the Bill that it is competent for Mr Virgo to make a response. The Minister has obviously indicated his willingness to be sympathetic to any such thing. It is not new; it has been weathering the storm for years. It does mean that under extreme circumstances a Commonwealth Minister could set aside the wishes of the State Ministers, but the whole basis of the Australian Transport Advisory Council and the whole basis of Federal-State cooperation is that we should seek the viewpoints of the States and where possible conform with them.
– Is the Minister for Education saying that this Government is not relinquishing the power that was in the legislation during the time of the Whitlam Government?
– In terms of this provision the clauses are the same. But I am bound to say that those powers, while they are latent powers or reserve powers, are fully competent within the federalism policy to get the fullest possible cooperation. Indeed, I have outlined the possibilities of co-operation.
– In view of the fact that in the answer that Senator Carrick has given to Senator Cavanagh, he has now admitted that the Federal Minister for Transport, Mr Nixon, has made approaches to Mr Virgo to give some priority to the spending of funds on the Stuart Highway, I ask him to tell the Committee what other projects Mr Nixon has suggested to Mr Virgo will have to suffer. As I said by way of interjection the Government is robbing Peter to pay Paul. Will the Minister tell the Committee what road project in South Australia will have to go short of funds to allow the South Australian Minister, Mr Virgo, to comply with the request made to him by Mr Nixon?
-Whilst I do not have any specific information that would even suggest that any project would go short of funds, I will certainly direct that matter to the attention of my colleague. But I remind Senator McLaren and the Committee that because the main work on the Eyre Highway had been completed in the previous year there was therefore an availability to take on as a priority upgrading work on the Stuart Highway if that had been considered a priority by Mr Virgo and his Government.
– I think, from listening to the reply of the
Minister for Education (Senator Carrick), that we agree on what clauses 6 and 7 mean. He said that the provisions have not been altered. Of course, the two governments have different philosophies. One government believed that national highways were a Federal government responsibility, and it accepted that responsibility. Now we have a different government which says that under federalism power is given to the States. The Government retains a clause which permits the Federal Minister for Transport to have complete powers. We can see what has happened. Representations have been made by Mr Nixon to Mr Virgo for some priority in allocation of moneys to be given to the Stuart Highway. Mr Virgo has responsibility for all the roads in the State. He finds that on present allocations it will not be possible to commence work within two years in the area of greatest need. If Mr Nixon so desires and because he is under the influence perhaps of Senator Jessop and the Northern Territory senators, he could well cancel the program of Mr Virgo and demand that work on the Stuart Highway proceed. The other national highways which have a bigger traffic density and greater usage would thus be neglected. He would be giving priority to a highway which in the opinion of someone in Canberra is more important.
As a result of the repudiation of government promises the Eyre Highway, in the main, had to be financed by the South Australian Government. Because the latter part of the work was financed mostly by the South Australian Labor Government, the highway was constructed at the expense of other highways, streets and roads in South Australia. The urgency to repair and update roads in areas of population and freight demands is such that the South Australian Government cannot for a period of two years allocate money to the Stuart Highway. Yet this Bill, which comes under the new federalism policy maintains a clause which provides that the Federal Minister can say that work must be commenced on the Stuart Highway while other highways are neglected. I do not know that he will use the power capriciously, but it is there. The two points I have raised contradict the boast about new federalism and destroy the only thing that Senator Jessop has got going for him.
– I draw attention to clause 1 8, a new provision, which provides for the establishment of joint planning committees as an alternative approach to be used on an experimental basis in relation to national roads in the first instance. Its workings will be determined largely by the nature of the arrangement reached between the Commonwealth and the State Ministers in each case. I simply say that I am not very clear whether Senator Cavanagh is exhorting me to go further in federalism or whether in fact he has some sadness in leaving the centralised powers in the Bill. The whole question of legislation is dependent upon the administrative philosophy of the government concerned. The Government concerned in this instance, with its philosophy, will use co-operation as a weapon and not the heavy fist.
Bill agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill (on motion by Senator Carrick) read a third time.
Assent to the following Bills reported:
States Grants (Capital Assistance) Bill 1 977.
Local Government (Personal Income Tax Sharing) Amendment Bill 1977.
Broadcasting Stations Licence Fees Amendment Bill 1977.
Postal and Telecommunications Commissions (Transitional Provisions) Amendment Bill 1977.
Television Stations Licence Fees Amendment Bill 1 977.
– For the information of honourable senators I present the report of the Inquiry into the Structure of Industry and the Employment Situation in Tasmania- the Callaghan report. I seek leave to make a brief statement.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– I make this statement on behalf of my colleague Senator Cotton. Any personal pronouns used refer to him.
The Inquiry was instituted in December 1976 by the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser), following an approach from the Premier of Tasmania in October 1976, for assistance to combat unemployment in Tasmania. The Inquiry included a program of public hearings in all major Tasmanian centres, and submissions were received from a wide range of interested individuals, companies, organisations and government agencies.
The report, which is of wide-ranging interest, has particular importance to the Government and people of Tasmania. Apart from its general findings and many particular recommendations, the report has drawn together much useful information about the Tasmanian economy, including information on unemployment in the State, the outmigration of young people, the structure of industry and the State’s transport requirements and services. The report provides an overview of the Tasmanian economy which has not previously been enunciated and which has important long-term policy implications.
The Commonwealth believes that the report will provide useful background information for the review of State relativities. This review is to be carried out under the States (Personal Income Tax Sharing) Act and at the last Premiers Conference it was agreed that the review body should comprise the Chairman of the Grants Commission, two members of the Commission, plus three additional members, one of whom would be nominated by New South Wales and Victoria, and two by the other four States. It should be noted that the report does not indicate that Tasmania receives an inadequate share of Commonwealth funds.
The report contains many specific recommendations and suggestions which are directed by Sir Bede Callaghan at the Commonwealth Government, the Tasmanian Government and the private sector either separately or jointly. Action has already been taken in respect of some of the specific recommendations which fall within the ambit of the Commonwealth Government.
Firstly, details have now been announced of the southbound component of the Tasmanian freight equalisation scheme which complements the assistance already provided under the northbound component. The scheme is designed to remove freight disadvantages suffered by important sections of Tasmanian industry. An amount of $23m has been budgeted for the scheme in 1977-78 including an amount of $6m for the southbound component. Both the northbound and southbound components apply to shipments from 1 July 1976.
Secondly, the Callaghan report recommended that the Commonwealth give urgent consideration to the recommendations of the Committee of Inquiry into the Tasmanian Rail System, the Joy report. The Government has accepted the principal recommendations of the Joy report. Funds are allocated in the current budget to the Australian National Railways- the ANR- to cover ongoing capital works, operating losses, and a specific subsidy to reimburse ANR for losses involved in the operation of the ‘Tasman Limited’. In addition, further funds have been allocated to continue the rehabilitation of the rail system, conditional upon the Tasmanian Government retaining preferential arrangements for rail within its road haulage legislation.
Thirdly, to avert unacceptable employment and regional programs, the Government, pending consideration of the IAC report on the copper industry, is taking action in conjunction with the Tasmanian Government to assist Mount Lyell Mining and Railway Co. Ltd to cover the company’s immediate cash shortfall. In making its decision following requests from the Company, the Government was aware of Sir Bede’s finding that some regions within Tasmania, including the west coast, are particularly vulnerable to falls in demand for specific commodities.
Fourthly, the Commonwealth has agreed to enter into negotiations for a new 5-year softwood forestry agreement, commencing in 1977-78. Finally, in respect of the location of some Commonwealth activities in Tasmania, a question to which Sir Bede pays some attention in his report, it should be noted that the transfer of the Antarctic Division to Kingston in Tasmania has been announced, and that action is proceeding on the establishment of the Maritime College at Launceston.
The report also raises many other matters for consideration not only by the Commonwealth Government, but also by the Tasmanian Government and the private sector as well. These matters include particular issues such as the question of assistance to the fishing industry and the stimulation of the engineering industry as well as the broader concerns of unemployment, technical education, structural adjustment assistance measures, government purchasing, incentives for small businesses and ways to encourage tourism.
I commend the report to all concerned for close consideration. The Commonwealth Government, for its part, will be giving full and detailed consideration to the matters which are its concern. I would like, finally, to express the gratitude of the Commonwealth Government to Sir Bede Callaghan for his work in conducting the inquiry and preparing this report. Mr President, I seek leave to move a motion.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– The report that we have in front of us is, like most of these reports, a detailed document. The Minister for Education (Senator Carrick) was kind enough to give me a copy in the last two or three hours and I have endeavoured to go through it as much as possible to get an indication of the effect of the report. With that qualification in mind, I must say that my initial impression is that the report can only be described as a fizzer. Tasmanians have been looking forward to this report for quite some time. It was hoped that as it was a Commonwealth Government inquiry we might find from it some ray of hope to overcome the sort of disabilities which are endemic in the State of Tasmania. In one chapter Sir Bede Callaghan gives some very cogent information on the difficulties in Tasmania compared with those of the mainland States.
There are two or three things I want to mention briefly. At the beginning of the report Sir Bede Callaghan makes a critically important point. It is quite obvious that he was under a very real constraint when he prepared this report because on page 4 of the report he makes it clear that the terms of reference for the Committee did not include any specific direction as to the Committee abiding by the new ideas on Commonwealth-State financial relations, which we know constitute a policy of the Government. On page 4, Sir Bede Callaghan says:
While it is recognised that others- for example, the previous Federal Government- believe the Commonwealth should play a far greater role in redistribution between regions in Australia, it seems to me this report to the (present) Federal Government should be consistent with that government’s approach to Federal-State relations (as I understand it).
Now what Sir Bede Callaghan is saying right from the beginning is that he was obliged, in considering the evidence before him and the recommendations he was to make, to consider the constraints under the new federalism policy. So in fact we have not got an impartial report from this Committee. I believe that that is to be greatly regretted. It is evident from the beginning that Sir Bede Callaghan could see little hope of putting up any recommendations which would involve greater Commonwealth spending in respect of Tasmania. For that reason we have a report which unfortunately does not offer a great deal, except for one particular area to which I shall come in a moment. There are several suggestions such as the development of a new forestry agreement which is referred to in the statement the Minister has just read and a reference to the Joy report on the Tasmanian railways. But I want to correct a couple of references which appear in this statement, one of which is a comparatively small thing. The report reads:
The report provides an overview of the Tasmanian economy which has not previously been enunciated and which has important long-term policy implications.
It is true that it is the first Federal report I can recall that considers in totality the problems of the State of Tasmania. But it is certainly not the first report because in 1969 the State Government commissioned the Hunter Valley research organisation to produce a similar type of report. That report was called ‘Tasmania in the 70s ‘. But I suppose it is fair to say that this is the first Commonwealth report of this nature. But I believe there is a serious misrepresentation in the Minister’s statement of what the report says. I am saying not that the Minister is untruthful or even that the Government is untruthful but the statement is untruthful when it says:
It should be noted that the report does not indicate that Tasmania receives an inadequate share of Commonwealth funds.
Page 79 of the report shows that the report is not in fact saying that. This is what it says:
That is, of course, Sir Bede Callaghan- have come to the view that it would be inappropriate for me to make (what I might term) hard recommendations on this for several reasons -
This is on the question of finance- firstly, I have not had available to me the time or the resources necessary finally to assess Tasmania’s capacity in this respect; secondly, it would be necessary to make some evaluation of the present allocation of financial resources from the Commonwealth to the States; apart from anything else, it would be necessary to evaluate the performance of all States in this regard and, as I see it, a more thorough review should be left until the next review of tax-sharing entitlements; and finally, the allocation of government resources to industry in Tasmania essentially involves an evaluation of past and present taxation and expenditure options of the State Government.
On the same page, in the paragraph headed Commonwealth assistance to Tasmania’ Sir Bede Callaghan says:
It is clear that, when expressed in per capita terms, the Tasmanian Government and its authorities receive a higher proportion of Commonwealth funds than do the other States . . .
It has been put to me that, because of the relatively generous assistance to Tasmania on a per capita basis, there is no need for further assistance. I do not believe this assertion should be accepted automatically. Because of the arrangements at the time of Federation, the general philosophy adopted was that there should be no significant differences between the States in the standard of public services provided. This principle is enshrined in the Commonwealth Grants Commission procedures . . .
I am trying to abbreviate these quotations because I know that we have other tasks in the Senate this afternoon. He continues:
Whether Tasmania receives more or less than its ‘share’ of Commonwealth funds must be tested against the criteria of the cost of providing services and the revenue raising capacity of the State.
It is not within my competence to test all of this. Nevetheless, because Tasmania did not approach the Grants Commission for special grants since its withdrawal from the system in 1974, one could say there is prima facie evidence that Tasmania is not unduly disadvantaged.
I do not believe that any person could interpret what I read there and say that the sentence in the Minister’s statement to which I referred is consistent with what Sir Bede Callaghan said. I believe it is to be deplored. This is the second occasion in recent weeks on which I have had occasion to raise in this place the matter of statements which have been officials statements by Ministers and which are not supported by the documents to which they pertain.
The principal recommendation of the Commission concerns the question of Commonwealth expenditure in the State, that is, departmental expenditure. I am glad that this has been raised by this report because on 15 September 1970, seven years ago, I made a speech in this place on this very subject. I suppose that something one does not do is read one ‘s own speeches and I am afraid it is quite a long one. But in that speech I pointed out at some length and in some detail how far behind the national average Tasmania was in respect of departmental spendingsomething which is, of course, quite outside the ambit of the normal Commonwealth-State relations as to Loan Council and general revenue arrangements, et cetera. After seven years, I am pleased to see that finally some semi-official body has also recognised this fact. Sir Bede Callaghan points out that if Tasmania were to receive the national average of expenditure through the spending of the various departments this would provide approximately 5,000 jobs directly to Tasmania and possibly as many again indirectly. It is true- and I do not hesitate to say this- that in the time of the Labor Government the situation did not alter. The difference now is that we have a document commissioned by the Federal Government which points this out. I believe that this is definitely an area to which the Government must react. If there is one really bright aspect that comes out of this report, it must be that factor. I believe that the Committee in formulating this report has done a very good job. It knew from the beginning that if it recommended to the Government more subsidies for Tasmania obviously its proposition would not be accepted. It looked at other areas in which there are in the eyes of the members of the Committee legitimate reasons for further consideration being given to Tasmania.
I regret that we have not the time today to deal with this report in greater detail. I trust that we will have an opportunity to debate it some time during this session because I am sure there are other Tasmanians here who would like to offer some comments on it. I place on record the Opposition’s appreciation of the work Sir Bede Callaghan has done under very difficult circumstances.
-Under great restraints, yes. Had he been allowed to proceed in a completely free atmosphere, perhaps he would have presented a different sort of report. The Committee undoubtedly has endeavoured to provide the maximum advice to the Government. We trust that the Government will act on it. I seek leave to continue my remarks.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
– by leave-I present a ministerial statement entitled ‘Defence Review’ which was made in the House of Representatives today by the Minister for Defence (Mr Killen). By arrangement with the Opposition, I seek leave to have the statement incorporated in Hansard.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
-Where the first person is mentioned in the statement it refers to the Minister for Defence.
The statement read as follows-
In November last year I tabled a White Paper on ‘Australian Defence’. That White Paper was a declaration of the Government’s aims and intentions with respect to the defence of this country. The paper remains the basic reference for discussion of our national defence. However, the issues with which defence policy is concerned are not static. They are constantly developing and we must keep them under continuing review and ensure that our defence planning is responsive. I do not propose to cover all of the matters discussed in the White Paper. What I propose to do is to set out shortly some views on contemporary and prospective defence issues.
The 1977-78 defence budget outlay of $2,343m is an increase of one percent in real terms over actual outlay in 1976-77. 1 say at once that this outlay represents a departure from the provisional allocations projected in the White Paper. It was inevitable that this be so. Honourable senators will understand that the Government’s strategy for national economic recovery from inflation requires that expenditure in the public sector be contained. There will be some selective postponement of some of the objectives we set for ourselves last November. But the stated objectives in the White Paper of what defence capabilities we intend this country to have in sight in the early 1980s remain.
In considering the Government’s expenditure on defence for this year I hope that it will not be lost from sight that the year 1976-77 saw a significant real increase in defence outlay. Having regard to that, a one per cent increase in real terms shows the importance the Government attaches to defence. Viewed against the difficult budgetary circumstances which faced the Government this year, a one per cent increase in real terms represents a notable achievement. I shall shortly give details of the new equipment and defence facilities decisions made by the Government in the context of the 1977-78 Budget. These are most important components of our long-term defence preparedness and the Government is determined to ensure that new investment in these areas is sustained at an acceptable level.
The nation’s security must always command a high priority on its resources. This does not mean that in peace we must be fully prepared for war. But it does mean that in peace we must maintain the manpower, equipment, skills and supporting infrastructure that will allow us to be ready in time to defend ourselves should this ever become necessary. This means the maintenance of a substantial force-in-being even in time of peace. The price of this effort is unavoidably high, and increasing. But it is not so high as the cost of defence neglect would inevitably be.
The development of the force is an intensely selective process. It engages a wide range of technical, scientific and professional skills and experience in a highly complex process of analysis, evaluation and judgment involving ultimately the advice of the Government’s most senior Service and civilian advisers and detailed consideration by the Government itself. Our judgments as to requirements and priorities are also informed by the ongoing consultations that we enjoy with our allies and friends on strategic, scientific, technological and military matters. If some commentators have found the process too complex and difficult to grasp, I sympathise. We go to great lengths to ensure that our decisions are soundly based and balance differences of interest and professional judgment.
Our major review of the international security outlook last year noted certain unfavourable developments and the uncertainty of the future, but we judged our prospects on balance to be favourable. Developments since then which have been closely watched by our intelligence community and by our senior service and civilian advisers, do not call for change in our basic assessment. However, we must keep developments under continuous, close review and maintain insurance against changes that might be adverse to our interests. Our present peace-time strategy is to support as best we may over a range of policies the continuation of the presently favourable prospects for our national security; to maintain effective defence relations with our friends and allies, especially the United States and in our neighbouring regions; and to maintain a substantial and efficient force-in-being that demonstrates our military capability to deal with situations that could develop with shorter warning and to expand in time should the need for this arise during the longer term.
A clearly perceived threat would enable defence planning and development to proceed in a specific way. That is not our circumstance. We study contingencies and, from this study, along with other factors, we can derive judgments about the development of the Defence Force and the Defence infrastructure. Contingencies are hypothetical situations, not probabilities. But, as in many other countries, the study of a representative selection, with different timings and characteristics, helps our Defence planners to explore strategic and operational concepts, requirements for military capabilities, questions of command and control and such matters.
In recent years, such contingency studies in our Department of Defence have focussed on the defence of Australia. The House will not expect me to give an account of these studies, since obviously they must command a high security classification. But I should correct some false impressions that appear in some commentaries. As the studies progress, certain conclusions provide a broad basis for the development of strategic and operational concepts to deal with specific situations. But we are not going to produce a single, final answer to all our problems. The studies are manifold and involve continuing exploration of our defence problems in the light of strategic developments, changing technology and infrastructure, and changes over the years in the Defence Force itself.
Some comment has seemed to be calling for some particular threat to be adopted as the basis for our defence development. To do so would sacrifice flexibility and versatility. What we need is a mix of capabilities against various possibilities, none of which can now be foreseen with sufficient confidence to allow the sort of specific defence planning called for. What the mix should be- allowing for strategic prospects, for the long lead-time of larger equipments, for technological developments and, always, the state of the country’s purse- is a matter for analysis and judgment. But a mix there must be, of high and low capabilities, if on the day, this country is going to be able to deploy a balanced force to meet a serious emergency, or to cope with a range of diverse lesser situations. Our requirements in this respect as we now see them are the capabilities and planning objectives that are described in the White Paper.
As well as the strategic matters I have referred to, we also take into consideration factors of our physical environment, technological developments and developments in methods of waging war. When it comes to technology a country like Australia has to be highly selective. Not only can advanced technology be very expensive to buy, it can be more suited to the requirement of powers in very different strategic circumstances from Australia. At the same time, however, advanced technology can often offer us important advantages, for example in greatly increased accuracy of firepower. We must also be able to move to higher levels of technology should this become necessary, and be able to operate together with the advanced systems of allies.
As to methods of waging war, we enjoy close contact with the military forces of various nations, which helps us to keep informed on developments in military doctrine and operational practice. This is of great value. But, as with technology, we have to watch that we gear our development primarily to our own requirements and not to those of other nations differently placed. There is a great temptation for some observers of the defence scene to say: Country X does so-and-so, therefore we should follow suit’. This is an extra-ordinarily simplistic approach to Australia’s defence problems. We are concerned primarily with our own country, and the solutions that may be applicable to other nations may not necessarily satisfy our requirements.
The training activities of the Defence Force and our equipment programs reflect the Government’s commitment to the defence objectives I have indicated. In addition, the Defence Force provides significant assistance to civil organisations, and to the community at large in time of natural disaster.
However, the area of defence assistance to the civil authorities that I wish now particularly to speak about is surveillance. Surveillance operations are of basic importance to national defence both in peace and war. They are practised throughout the Defence Force, by the land forces and particularly by ships at sea and aircraft. The civil authorities having responsibility for fisheries, health, immigration and customs, for example, regularly request Defence Force assistance, and this is provided- subject always to availability of defence resources and meeting primary defence tasks. In this supporting role the Defence Force acts as the agent of the civil authorities and at their request. I emphasise this because there is from time to time some illinformed comment about the role of the Defence Force in surveillance activities.
The establishment of the 200-mile fishing zone will raise new requirements for surveillance. At this stage we cannot say what the dimensions of this expanding task will be. This will depend on development of the regulatory regime established for the zone, and assessment of activity in the zone once established. The task should not be underestimated- but neither should it be overestimated. The civil authorities do not conduct regular surveillance in all areas of Australia’s jurisdiction even now. There is no requirement for this. It would be expensive and without justification. I myself believe that the managerial task will increase appreciably.
The question of surveillance is one which has been put to close study by the Defence Department and procedures are being improved by the Chief of Defence Force Staff. It is an issue that very properly concerns me closely. We have a unique geography. As a consequence we have unique surveillance problems. Substantial defence resources will continue to be made available for surveillance. The Defence Force will continue to be closely involved in this task.
I turn now to equipment for the Defence Force. The Government is maintaining the central thrust of the equipment programs announced in the Defence White Paper. Decisions taken earlier will result in a range of new equipments entering service during 1977-78. These include:
Six P3C long range maritime patrol aircraft of the 10 on order. These new aircraft will greatly expand our surveillance and patrol capability; two of the 10 Hercules C130H aircraft which will enhance our strategic and tactical transport capability; the first of two new Oberon submarines additional to the four now in inventory, and continuing deliveries of Nomad aircraft, Leopard tanks, fire support vehicles, trucks and bridging equipment for the Army.
Equipment acquisitions planned for this and later years of the 5-year defence program express principally our need for new and improved communications, better operational mobility and improvement of technological level and expertise in a variety of areas.
The Government has approved in principle a new multi-purpose secure strategic communications network to replace existing single-service networks. The complete system is estimated to cost more than $100m, spread over a period of about 10 years. In its final form this system will provide a technologically-advanced structure upon which can be developed a nation-wide defence communications network responsive to the demanding command and control procedures of the Defence organisations of the future. It will enable voice, data and facsimile transmission to be made securely and with the detail and immediacy required for the Defence Force in peace-time tasks or in military operations against aggression. As a first stage, a fully functional regional system, with some basic facilities of system-wide application, will be established in Queensland.
It has also been decided to acquire five high power long-range radio terminals for use by the Army and the Air Force and 24 medium power shorter-range radio terminals for the Army. In addition to the foregoing, funds have been allocated for project investigation directed towards the eventual supply of replacement single-channel radios for the Army. The introduction of these new communications equipments will be carried out in close consultation with the Australian electronics industry. It should provide that industry with a significant workload.
The Government has also approved the purchase of an additional 200 landrovers fitted for radio as communications vehicles. All these systems should prove valuable to operations by the Defence Force also when it is assisting with the relief of natural disasters.
Various improvements to our Naval capabilities are provided for in the Budget. HMAS Supply, which provides an oil replenishment facility to ships at sea, must be retired in the relatively near future. A new underway replenishment ship will be acquired. This new ship will be able to supply not only fuel, but ammunition and a variety of stores and weapons to ships at sea. This will enable them to remain on task longer and at greater range. A program to modernise the hulls, machinery, weapons and sensor systems of the destroyer escorts HMAS Swan and HMAS Torrens will be undertaken. Possible enhancement of our destroyer fleet by the acquisition of a third missile frigate for the Royal Australian Navy is still being investigated. I expect this matter to be further examined by Government later on in this financial year.
In connection with the eventual retirement of HMAS Melbourne we shall move this year to investigation of modern aircraft carrier types, while continuing our study of alternative capabilities that might possibly meet our requirements. Organisations in Australia and overseas will be invited to register interest in investigating possible aircraft carrier designs as a basis for considering the funding of the investigations. It will be clear that major operational, financial and manpower considerations are involved in this study. The ultimate decision will have far reaching implications in the shape and size of the RAN in the future.
The evaluation of cost and design options for a new trials and research ship to replace HMAS Kimbla will start in this financial year. The practicability of refurbishing Navy’s Wessex utility helicopters is to be assessed, with a view to improving their capability and extending their effective operational life.
In addition to the new communications I have already mentioned, there are a number of projects to be initiated for further improvement of our land-warfare capability. These include acquisition of medium trucks for evaluation as part of a major program for the replacement of Army’s medium-truck fleet. To enhance Army’s electronic warfare capability, and to provide for further development of essential skills, a limited purchase of electronic warfare equipment has been approved. The evaluation of further electronic warfare systems is to continue.
An assessment of options for a self-contained field hospital system will be started. The system envisaged could provide a controlled environment for patients’ care, surgical, pathological, X-ray, intensive care and sterilisation services for the Army in the field. Such equipment could have an important secondary role in relief of natural disasters.
After considering the evidence developed from fatigue testing and analysis, final modifications and cost investigations, the Government has accepted that replacement of the Macchi trainer, used for advanced jet training, is not called for at this time. The life of this aircraft for the RAAF and RAN can be considerably extended with structural and equipment refurbishment. The aircraft will remain a most effective jet trainer for some years to come. The work of refurbishment of the Macchi will provide a substantial workload for the Australian aircraft industry. The Government will still continue to explore opportunities to involve industry in longer-term plans for an eventual replacement training aircraft.
Work is continuing regarding the Tactical Fighter Force. The present Mirage fleet provides a substantial capability that will continue to meet our assessed requirements for some years. We are seeking and analysing information on the practicability of continuing to maintain the Mirage as an effective fighter. At the same time we are closely assessing our requirements for a replacement and the factors influencing the timing of the acquisition process. This work includes our assessment of a range of contenders.
I am aware of some impatience regarding the time being taken over a decision about the Tactical Fighter Force. I offer no apology whatsoever for our deliberate procedures. There are huge sums of money involved. The decision will affect the defence vote in this country for many years to come. There are very complex issues involved. The matter must be most thoroughly researched and examined in all its aspects.
Major facilities proposed for commencement during 1977to78, subject to parliamentary consideration, include:
Modern outfitting and refitting of workshops in Williamstown Naval Dockyard. This represents Stage 2 of the modernisation of our capability for building warships. Modernisation of Williamstown Naval Dockyard commenced in 1974 after many years of careful planning. The Stage 1 development, which is providing new hull-construction facilities, is currently in progress. Stage 2 involves new workshops and engineering facilities to improve the outfitting and refitting capabilities of the dockyard. When complete it will be the Navy’s primary destroyer-building yard, capable of building destroyers up to 4,500 tons using modern equipment and techniques.
Maintenance facilities for Sea King helicopters at Nowra.
Army personnel and support facilities at Randwick, New South Wales.
Development of RAAF base Edinburgh for No. 10 Squadron, which is to be equipped with Orion P3C maritime patrol craft.
A modern RAAF headquarters for operational control of aircraft at Glenbrook, New South Wales.
Provision of new workshops, headquarters, training and control facilities at the flying training school, Point Cook, Victoria.
A purpose-built laboratory for explosives and ammunition research at the materials research laboratory, Maribyrnong.
On 17 February, this year, I announced that HMAS Stirling, the new naval support facility in Western Australia would be commissioned in 1978. I also announced that seven naval units would be based at HMAS Stirling. Budget priorities will not allow all seven naval units to be based at HMAS Stirling at time of commissioning. Initially, three naval units will continue to be based there. The build-up of personnel to man the base and the construction of houses for them will be carried forward, but at a slower rate than earlier planned. It is still the Government’s intention, however, that the base be commissioned in 1978, as planned. The additional four ships will be deployed as soon as resources permit, probably early in 1980. The base will, of course, be used by visiting ships from our own and allied navies.
Regular service manpower target levels were increased during 1976-77 by 500. During 1977-78 an increase of 375-from 69,666 to 70,041- in the target strength is planned for the Permanent Defence Force- Navy 165, Army 110, Air Force 100. Target strengths for each Service for 30 June 1978 will therefore be:
At 30 June 1977, actual strength was 70,081, or 40 above the target planned for 30 June 1978 - wastage in the latter months of 1976-77 was lower than anticipated.
I am pleased to inform the House that the rate of officer resignation has declined. I do not disguise the fact that the previous resignation rate deeply concerned me and my advisers. The Services can ill afford to lose highly trained and experienced men. The re-organisation of the Army Reserve is nearing completion. I expect to report more fully on this matter towards the end of this session. Increases in Air Force manpower will be directed mainly towards improved operational capability and maintenance support of equipment.
The appropriation of $2 5. 9m for defence cooperation reflects our continuing concern to promote mutually advantageous working relationships between Australian and regional defence forces. The programs provide for combined exercises, training, technical advisory assistance and joint projects. The defence relationship with Papua New Guinea continues to attract priority- mainly in the provision of Australian expertise, but with an increased proportional allocation to joint projects. Assistance to South Pacific states will be increased significantly.
I end this survey with some comment about defence industry. A basic defence objective is to ensure that the Defence Force can be supported and maintained from within Australia, while recognising that the provision of the equipment and material required involves a combination of local industry, selected stockholding and the securing of reliable overseas sources of supply. A further objective is the progressive development of technologies and capacities to facilitate intensification and diversification of present activities to support force expansion, should the need arise. A key issue is the extent to which reliance should be placed on overseas sources rather than developing greater Australian industrial capability. This has been the subject of continuing departmental investigation and considerable public discussion.
Some of this public discussion has tended to single out some favoured industry for subsidised, priority development without examination of what might be defence priorities in the situations hypothesised. They also make no attempt to assess the practicability and the cost to the nation of Australia’s becoming self-sufficient. The degree of self-sufficiency often envisaged is simply not feasible within the total technological resources available to this country. It is certainly not within the bounds of reasonable budgetary expectations in present strategic and economic circumstances.
Moreover, it does not seem reasonable to me to base our policy on the expectation that overseas supply will be denied us by all sources should we have to defend ourselves. We must carefully assess in what circumstances supply difficulties are likely, and then whether these circumstances warrant the diversion of our national resources to the development of our own national arrangements. In contemplating such circumstances the nation has to make a judgment as to the degree of preparedness and insurance it requires, and is prepared to pay for. I suggest that many of the critics have not carried their thinking through this full path. At the same time, I recognise the tremendous importance of this issue. I can assure the Senate that it receives very deliberate and careful consideration when decisions are taken on the source of new equipment and the arrangements for its future support.
You will recall that in May 1976 I announced that the Defence (Industrial) Committee, under the Chairmanship of Sir Ian McLennan, had been tasked with a comprehensive investigation of the defence capability of Australian industry. Its report, presented to the Minister on 5 September, should greatly assist in further development of our policies in this important area. From some of the more extreme Press reports, one could be excused for thinking that no Service equipment is ever made in Australia. This is far from the case. There are many contracts current with Australian industry or under negotiation. For example, two decisions flowing from proposals already announced will benefit the Australian shipbuilding industry.
The British PCF 420 patrol craft designed by Brooke Marine of Lowestoft, UK, and fitted with MTU main engines manufactured in the Federal Republic of Germany, has been selected as the new patrol craft for the RAN. This Project, estimated to cost about $1 15m for 15 craft and associated support, was announced last
November in the White Paper on ‘Australian Defence’.
A contract has been awarded to Brooke Marine for the construction of one lead craft. The lead craft is planned to enter service with the RAN in mid- 1979 and the follow-on craft will begin entering service about a year later. Although, as an interim measure, the lead craft might be fitted with an existing Bofors 40-60 gun, an valuation of modern close range guns is under way.
Building all but one of the fifteen craft in Australia is in accordance with defence industry policy for increasing self reliance in the supply and support of equipment to the Defence force. Futhermore, the Australian building program will provide a significant workload to local industry and I expect to make an announcement soon on where these craft will be built. Following an exhaustive evaluation of proposals received from Carrington Slipways Pty Ltd, Dillingham Shipyards (Western Australia) Pty Ltd, North Queensland Engineers and Agents Pty Ltd, and Vickers Cockatoo Dockyard Pty Ltd, it has been decided to decline the offers of Carrington and Dillingham and limit further consideration to the remaining tenderers.
The PCF 420 patrol craft-length 42 metres with top speed of about 30 knots and displacement 220 tonnes- is well suited to the task of patrolling Australia’s long coastline and will substantially increase our surveillance and control capability in Australia’s areas of defence and economic interest. The new patrol craft will include much Australian sourced material and equipment. This will ensure that the craft can be supported with minimum reliance on overseas sources. To this end an agreement has been reached with the main engine manufacturer to establish, in Australia, engine overhaul and repair facilities.
Departmental examinations of tenders from three Australian shipyards for the construction of an amphibious heavy-lift ship HMAS Tobruk, are nearing completion. I shall also be announcing the award of a contract for this ship in the near future. The ship, which is planned to enter service in 1980, will provide the shipbuilding industry with a significant workload over a 3-year period. It will add significantly to our ability to transport military equipment and troops to areas lacking normal port facilities and be particularly useful for civil aid and natural disaster relief.
It has been decided to proceed with the fitting of electronic warfare equipment to RAN HS748 aircraft. A contract will be awarded to the successful tenderer when agreement is reached on satisfactory terms and conditions. The aircraft will be available in 1979 and will provide an important training capability for the Navy in exercising the fleet’s electronic-warfare capabilitiesand also for the Air Force and the Army.
In the more sophisticated areas, the locally designed Barra sonobuoy is now reaching the early production stage. This has involved expenditure of some $ 14m in the electronics industry to 30 June 1977 and, should production proceed as we expect, will mean a continuing workload for the electronics industry. In connection with Barra, local firms were awarded contracts for $15m covering integration of the system into the P3C aircraft and a mission-analysis facility.
The significance for Australian industry of these and the new projects I have announced earlier should not be underestimated. All will make their contribution to the retention of essential skills and the maintenance of employment in the industries concerned. In several cases, where we are at the early study stage, the ball is at industry’s feet and the field wide open. This particularly applies to the communications projects I have mentioned earlier, where we are concerned to ensure adequate back-up capability is available and industrial skills are retained.
Since I have been Minister for Defence I have sought to encourage in this country informed debate on defence problems. I will continue to do so. I have also sought to encourage the development of a bi-partisan approach to the defence of this country. I will continue to do so. I believe that it is vital that this nation develop a sharper conciousness of its responsibilities. In a world that has changed dramatically in the last generation it is clear that those responsibilities must largely be met by ourselves. In seeking to discharge that duty there is, I believe, no role for meanness nor for pettiness. There is no party represented in the Parliament that has a monopoly of patriotism. We are one nation. We are one people. We have one duty.
Debate (on motion by Senator Wriedt) adjourned.
– For the information of honourable senators I present the report of the Women’s Advisory Body, Working Party 1977.
Motion (by Senator Carrick) proposed:
That the Senate do now adjourn.
- Mr President, with a view to seeking your guidance I draw to your attention the question of having printed in the Senate Estimates Hansard- noi the Daily Hansard, but the bound volume which covers all the hearings of the Estimates Committees- the replies that are received to questions asked by senators during the hearings and which cannot be provided during hearings but which are provided by letters. I know that we get each reply in the reports of the Committees to the Senate but I think it would be most helpful to the people who are interested in reading the answers which are given to the many questions if this additional information could be included in the appropriate Hansard volumes. I have searched a couple of them but I cannot find the additional information. I may be remiss in saying that the additional answers are not there. I ask you, Mr President, to have a look to ascertain whether it is possible to have that material included in those volumes.
– I was under the impression that the replies which are not given at the time of the hearing but which come in later are attached to the various reports of the Committees.
– But they are not in Hansard as such.
– I am asking whether they can be included in Hansard.
– I will take this matter up and see what is the situation.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I inform honourable senators that Estimates Committees D and E will meet in approximately 10 minutes’ time. Prior to the meetings the bells will be rung for three minutes. Committee D will meet in this Senate chamber and Committee E will meet in Senate Committee Room No. 1. Honourable senators are reminded that if necessary the Committees will meet tomorrow at a time to be determined by each Committee.
The Senate stands adjourned until Tuesday, 4 October 1977, at 2.30 p.m. or such other day as may be fixed in accordance with the resolution agreed to this day.
Senate adjourned at 4.42 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated:
asked the Minister for Administrative Services, upon notice, on 9 March 1 977:
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
Details of Mrs Greenwood ‘s use of Commonwealth cars in Canberra could not be ascertained without considerable effort which I am not prepared to authorise.
The Commonwealth reimbursed Mrs Greenwood the sum of $ 194.55 being the cost of flat accommodation in Canberra which she occupied while her husband was in hospital.
Payment of her accommodation costs was approved by the Treasurer as an act of grace. Payment of fares was made under Division 142 and accommodation under Division 1 30-2- 1 2 of my Department ‘s Appropriations.
I add that I would hope that similar assistance as was provided to Mrs Greenwood would also be provided to the spouse of a senator or member in such circumstances.
asked the Attorney-General, upon notice, on 29 March 1977:
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
The following information is provided in relation to the statutory corporations for which the Attorney-General is responsible, namely, the Law Reform Commission, the Legislative Drafting Institute, the Commonwealth Legal Aid Commission, the Australian Institute of Criminology and the Criminology Research Council.
1 ) Only in accordance with the legislation establishing each corporation.
Relevant dates for the reports of each corporation are as follows*:
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 22 September 1977, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1977/19770922_senate_30_s74/>.