30th Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Condor Laucke) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– I present the following petition from 72 1 citizens of Australia:
To the Honourable the President and Members of the Senate in Parliament assembled. The petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
That Australian Government employees strenuously oppose the provisions of the Commonwealth Employees (Redeployment and Retirement) Bill first introduced in the House of Representatives on 8 December 1976. The basis for opposition includes the following reasons:
1 ) The grounds constituting ‘due cause’ for termination of services of tenured staff are expanded beyond those already available in existing legislation thereby introducing subjective discretionary powers which are inconsistent with career service expectations and entitlements;
The Bill relegates to subordinate legislation or administrative direction matters affecting substantive rights of employees including the scale of compensation, the composition and powers of the appellate tribunal, and the criteria upon which services may be terminated:
Existing rights of reinstatement in tenured employment was abrogated by the Bill;
Agreement has not been reached on a number of matters which should have been finalised before any attempt to introduce legislation. These include: An arbitral determination on redundancy arrangements; benefits; procedures;
As currently drafted the Bill overrides entitlements under arbitration awards.
Your petitioners most humbly pray that the Senate, in Parliament assembled, should reject passage of any legislation to extend powers of compulsory retirement of Australian Government employees unless and until any variation has been agreed with staff representatives.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray.
Petition received and read.
– Petitions have been lodged for presentation as follows:
To the Honourable President and Members of the Senate in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of the Central Coast, New South Wales, respectfully shows that:
The Central Coast Parents and Citizens’ Associations condemns the action of the Federal Government in issuing guidelines which effectively cut back funds to Government schools whilst increasing funds to private schools, in particular a few wealthy independent schools.
That we do not want education to revert to being used for political gain.
We call upon the Federal Government to make urgent financial assistance to education throughout Australia.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Senator Carrick and Senator Douglas McClelland.
-Does the Minister for Administrative Services recall my raising with him in the Parliament the question of statements by members of the New South Wales Branch of the Liberal Party accusing the distribution commissioners of making outrageous proposals for that State, and claiming that the rules had been neglected or thrown overboard? Has the Minister seen reports that the objections that were lodged by the New South Wales Division of the Liberal Party with the distribution commissioners against their published proposed distribution have been upheld, especially in respect of the Federal electorate of Lowe? Is there any significance in the fact that according to a report of 8 October- 10 days ago- the Liberal Party in New South Wales called for nominations for all Federal seats to be contested by it, with the exception of the seats of Lowe, Grayndler and Sydney, all of whose boundaries would be greatly affected if the Liberal Party’s objections were upheld? Is it fair to assume that members of the Liberal Party have been told in advance what are the redistribution arrangements of the distribution commissioners?
-I have never thought I would hear Senator Douglas McClelland cast doubts in this place upon the integrity of the present three commissioners for New South Wales. I say that because I should imagine that they are the only persons who would have the capacity to communicate that knowledge. If he likes to imagine that Mr White, who is the Chairman of the Distribution Commission and who has been a very distinguished member of the Commonwealth Electoral Office for a large number of years, would do such a thing, I challenge him to say so. I doubt also whether he would challenge the integrity of the SurveyorGeneral of New South Wales. He is not a servant of the Commonwealth Government, nor was he appointed by it. As I recall it, the other commissioner in New South Wales was a former New South Wales electoral officer, who was appointed by the New South Wales Government. He is no creature of mine or the Commonwealth Government. To presuppose that any of those three gentlemen would have given any information to anyone is, I think, a terrible thing to do.
I know of no reason why the reports should be either valid or false. I have not spoken personally, directly or indirectly, with any of the commissioners or anybody on their staff. I have no knowledge of that and I doubt very much whether any other member of the Liberal Party anywhere in Australia has any knowledge of that. Senator Douglas McClelland recalled accurately the question that he asked of me recently. I think he also should recall my reply. I think I said that I had total faith in the integrity and capacity of the commissioners appointed to do this job in New South Wales.
– I direct a question to the Attorney-General. I refer to an interview with a Mr Monte on the program Willesee at Six in Western Australia last Friday evening. Mr Monte demonstrated a new lie detector that can be used without a person’s knowledge or consent and claimed that its use was legal.
– I wish I had one.
– You would have some fun, wouldn’t you?
– It would be good to use it on the Liberal Party.
– You ought to use it on your mob.
- Mr Monte also stated that some 30 of these machines were in use in Australia. I ask the Minister whether the use of these machines without a person’s knowledge or consent is in fact legal? If it is not, is it not a flagrant invasion of personal privacy? Will the Government investigate the use of these machines in Australia?
-I did not have the pleasure of being at home in Western Australia at 6 o’clock last Friday night, unlike my colleague Senator Sim. I am very sorry for that reason. I am very sorry also that I missed such an interesting program. I would have been very interested in seeing how a lie detector worked. I agree that it might be of some use to me and others. However, I think Senator Sim has raised a very serious question about the invasion of privacy in regard to such matters. Of course the Government and my predecessor as AttorneyGeneral referred to the Law Reform Commission the question of privacy generally. The matter raised by Senator Sim would come within the Commission’s terms of reference. I will certainly give consideration to the questions Senator Sim has asked as to the legality of such devices and make sure that the Law Reform Commission will given consideration to it.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Education. I ask: Did he invite the Tasmanian State Minister for Education, the Honourable Neil Batt, to submit a list of names of people suitable for a position on the Federal Technical and Further Education Council? Did the Minister disregard the advice of the State Minister and appoint to the Board a Mr J. A. Rickard, the Vice-President of the Liberal Party and the Liberal Party campaign manager for the Federal seat of Bass? Has the State Secretary of the Tasmanian Technical College Staff Society, Mr Stronach publicly criticised the appointment because Mr Rickard was completely unknown to technical education and had no connection whatsoever with education in Tasmania? Was not Mr Rickard ‘s appointment to the Council a gratuity for services rendered and not because of any contribution to the development of technical and further education? Finally, is this not a glaring example of a broken promise and of jobs for the boys?
– When I think of the jobs for the boys that were strewn all over Australia at the end of the Whitlam Government I think it ill behoves any Labor senator of member to raise that issue. When the Tertiary Education Commission and its three councils were set up the Commonwealth Government and I, as Minister, invited a number of people and the States to put forward names of persons to be considered for appointment. They had no prescriptive rights to put forward names. It was at our invitation that the States were to give us a pool of names. The State Minister from Tasmania put forward some names. I was able throughout Australia to accept some nominations for various appointments to the councils and commissions but was unable to accept others. That was a matter of judgment. There was never any suggestion that there should be a nomination of people by the States. Mr Batt knew that. I think it is generally agreed that the appointments to these jobs- technical people throughout Australia have complimented the Government on the appointments- have made the Technical and Further Education Council a first class Council with first class people. Indeed, there has been no criticism of the
Tertiary Education Commission or its councils. Senator O ‘Byrne is the first to have criticised them in my presence. He asked whether the State Secretary of the Tasmanian Technical College Staff Society, Mr Stronach. had criticised the appointment. He may have done so, but he has not made that criticism known to me. I am not aware of it.
The honourable senator then proceeded to denigrate Mr Rickard. Mr Rickard is a fine person and the reports about him from the Technical and Further Education Council are that his contribution is outstanding. His contribution is outstanding. That, I think, ought to be understood. As I understand it, Mr Rickard is a small businessman- an industrialist in Launceston. He has had considerable success in handling small industry and he has a first class relationship with his staff. I take it that these are not eminent qualifications for the Technical and Further Education Council because implicit in Senator O ‘Byrne’s question is a criticism of the man himself. My own view is that Mr Rickard walks with equality alongside those other excellent people on the Council, and it is the view of the Technical and Further Education Council that he does so. He is a first class human being and basically -
– For goodness’ sake, do not labour it. We are talking about his political affiliations.
– One of the phenomena of Australian life is that people either tend to vote Liberal, as most do most of the time or, somewhat misguidedly- a minority most of the time- to vote Labor; so it is from time to time a fact that some will vote Liberal. It is extraordinary that Senator Georges would criticise this. I presume that he has no objection at all to my putting the Vice-President of the Australian Council of Trade Unions, Mr Cliff Dolan, on the Tertiary Education Commission, or the Secretary of the Queensland Trades and Labour Council on the Technical and Further Education Commission Council. Is he suggesting that either of those people is non-political? Let me say that I think the point is proven.
– Will Senator Carrick say, without too much waffling, whether this was the only case throughout Australia where one of the nominees of a Minister was disregarded, as in the case of Mr Rickard in Tasmania?
-Obviously not. If we take the Tertiary Education Commission apart from the four full-time members there are only five places and it is demonstrable that one could not manage to satisfy six States’ nominations in five places. The answer is no. In any event, it was a question not of nomination but of an invitation on my part to submit names.
– Is the Minister for Administrative Services aware that an interchange for the planned Tuggeranong-Canberra City road system will affect the site west of Black Mountain that is proposed for a National Museum of Australia? Does the Minister recall the answer he gave in the Senate on 7 September 1976 that the site would be used for no purpose other than that of a National Museum of Australia? On the basis that the assurances still hold, will the Government restrain the National Capital Development Commission from proceeding in any way to disfigure the proposed museum site, or reduce options for a National Museum of Australia to occupy this unique position in Canberra? Finally, will he inform the NCDC that it may be necessary for the Parliament to move to disallow the alteration to the plan of Canberra which would be necessary to allow the interchange to be constructed?
-I well recall the honourable senator’s interest in this matter. As he would know, I think, as long ago as IS March 1976 I wrote to my colleague, the Minister for the Capital Territory, concerning this matter. Also, in answering a question by the honourable senator on 7 September 1 976 I quoted in substance a letter which I had received from my colleague, the Minister. I am well aware of the concern being expressed by those who have an interest in the proposed National Museum of Australia. In fact, I have received representations, certainly from Professor Mulvaney, who is a member of the Pigott committee, and also from a large number of citizens throughout Australia about the proposed interchange, but I have sought the advice of my colleague, the Minister for the Capital Territory, on those matters. The NCDC is not within my ministerial responsibility but I shall certainly pass on the honourable senator’s question to my colleague in the other place. As to whether I have informed the NCDC that its proposals might be the subject of a disallowance motion in this place, I shall pass on that question also but have no doubt that the NCDC will become well aware of his questions as a result of reading Hansard tomorrow. I imagine that they will take quite a deal of notice of what some honourable senator has said in this place.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs. Has the Australian Government any indication that Indonesian forces in East Timor and/or in West Irian are using napalm against indigenous people or villages? If so, will the Government ask Indonesia to desist from such a practice?
-I have no personal knowledge of this matter. I will seek information from my colleague in the other place as early as I can.
– I direct my question to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry and refer to the decision by the Federal Council of the Liberal Party that the Government should not reissue the licence for the Cheynes Beach Whaling Company and should support a 1 0-year moratorium on commercial whaling at the next meeting of the International Whaling Commission. Will the Minister assure the Senate that the decision of the Federal Council of the Liberal Party is not binding on the Government?
– The Government has made a decision in accordance with the general position of the International Whaling Commission, of which it is a member, and with that of the Scientific Committee. As the honourable senator has said, this matter was debated at the Liberal Party’s Federal Council meeting. It took a different view from that taken by the Government. The Federal Council expressed itself, and that is a demonstration of freedom of speech in the Liberal Party.
– I direct my question to the Minister for Industry and Commerce. The Minister will be aware that the South Australian farm machinery manufacturing firm of Horwood Bagshaw Ltd is to lay off 300 employees at its Mannum and Edwardstown plants this week. In view of the fact that 169 of the 197 persons to be laid off at the Mannum plant are married men and as there is no alternative employment available in this country town with a population of 2,000 people, will either the Minister or his Cabinet colleagues take emergency measures to assist the South Australian Government in preventing undue hardship to the work force and business people of Mannum?
-While our senatorial colleagues were enjoying themselves in their capital cities, Senator McLaren and I were here last Friday working on this problem. I am indebted to Senator McLaren for bringing it to my attention on that day. I arranged with somebody from the Department to talk to him and he was good enough to keep in touch with me. We were also in touch with the South Australian Government. It is a situation of some concern and is due to a low demand for the product of the company because of drought and difficulties in primary industry. We are doing what we can to help and are trying to obtain more information. Through the courtesy of Senator McLaren, I also have information on what the South Australian Government proposes to do. I acknowledge that, and Senator McLaren has my assurance that we will do what we can to help.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Education. Has the Minister seen a Press statement issued by the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate claiming that funds for government schools had been cut because the Government believes they are becoming too elitist? Will the Minister inform the Senate of his views on elitism in schools?
– I take it that Senator Walters is referring to a Press statement, a copy of which I have, apparently issued by the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate on 14 October. It opens with the statement:
Funds for government schools have been cut because the Government believes they are becoming too elitist.
It refers to the Government’s decision to provide an additional $2m for the wealthy private schools and claims that I said:
We have done this because one would not want the State schools themselves to get to a state of elitism.
I sent for this Press statement because I could not believe that anyone could put together the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle in such a completely distorted fashion in order to distort what I had said. Let me say- Hansard will bear this out- that in the past two weeks I have repeatedly said how delighted I am that a number of schools in the State school system, both primary and secondary, have reached at least level 2 and some level 1. 1 have said that I am delighted, and that the Government is eager that we should achieve those targets and more. In no sense at all have I expressed other than the sheer delight of the Government that in two years we have been able to pass the targets of the Karmel Committee and the Schools Commission that were set for 1980 and 1982. It is utterly wrong to take what were satirical references made by me to elitism and to suggest that I was attempting to downgrade State schools.
– You do admit doing it.
-I thank Senator Grimes.
– You said it.
– Let me say to Senator Wriedt that what he has said in his Press statement is completely out of context. The facts of the matter–
– It is in the Hansard.
-I will tell honourable senators what I said. It will be interesting for the public of Australia to know this: What I said- I said it also in a speech to the state schools organisations- is that this Government in two years had been able, by substantially increasing funds to the state schools of Australia- not cutting funds, but substantially increasing them- to bring the targets of the primary and secondary schools and government schools beyond the Karmel goals and beyond the Schools Commission goals and that some States had already reached level two and even level one in the targets set by the Schools Commission. I expressed delight in that and I do so now. I also express, as I did in that speech, the aim of the Government to put its targets even higher for state schools. In no way at all have I suggested that we should slow down spending. The contrary is true. The whole force of the Schools Commission report is to show that we have so provided funds to the States that the States have been able to go beyond the maintenance of effort and to increase their funds. So, rather than cut the funds provided we have been able to increase the funds provided. That is the case except in Tasmania, the State from which Senator Grimes, who is now noisy, comes. The other States have increased the percentage of their Budgets allocated to education. Honourable senators will recall- Senator Grimes is strangely silent nowthat Tasmania reduced by 2 per cent the percentage of its Budget allocated to education.
-I ask the Minister for Education whether he said in the Senate on 1 1 October 1977, as recorded on pages 1222 and 1223 of Hansard, when referring to the Government’s decision to pay additional moneys to wealthy private schools:
In equity, we have done this because one would not want the state schools themselves to get to a state of elitism.
Is it not true that in the three years of the Labor Government there was an average annual increase in spending on education of 4 1 per cent and that in the two years of the Liberal-National Country Party Government there has been an average increase in education spending in real terms of one per cent? Will the Minister give the Senate an assurance, as Senator Colston sought from him last week, that this Government will not rest at the levels set by the Karmel Committee in 1973 which were regarded by the Karmel Committee as minimum targets? Will he say definitely that they are the ultimate targets of this Government?
– I am extremely grateful to Senator Wriedt for giving me the opportunity to amplify further these things.
– We will be none the wiser.
-I understand that honourable senators opposite will be none the wiser; but, like their lordships, they will be vastly better informed, in the the words of F. E. Smith ‘s little dictum. I think Senator Wright will remember those words of F. E. Smith, later Lord Birkenhead. The sentence quoted by Senator Wriedt is taken out of a series of answers which taken together state that what we have aimed to do is to raise the education standards of all students in Australia- government and nongovernmentas high as possible.
– But not too high.
– A Freudian slip has come from Senator Grimes who comes from a State in which education spending, taken as a percentage of its State Budget, has decreased. Who would know better than Senator Grimes how to deflate education spending? Who better than a senator from a State which underspent its allocation for primary school building? As to the second part of the question which asks about costs, Senator Wriedt will insist upon mentioning only a fraction of the money which the Commonwealth gives to the States. One-fifth of the money which the Commonwealth gives to the States comes to them through the Schools Commission and four-fifths comes through tax reimbursements as such. The Schools Commission has said that, taking these amounts together, there has been an increase in allocation above maintenance of effort. All States have been able to do better than ever.
I am asked whether I will state that we will rest on the Karmel targets. All the answers I have given have suggested that the Schools Commission has answered that the allocations for all States are now above the Karmel targets. In many States their allocations have reached by 1 977 what they would have reached by 1 980 or 1982. So, of course, the Schools Commission has answered Senator Wriedt. We have surpassed the Karmel targets and will continue to do so.
– My question, by way of change, relates also to education and investigation, but to an entirely different aspect of it. My question is directed to the Minister for Science. By way of brief preface I refer to the public debate regarding the desirability or otherwise of further scientific research into genetic engineering. Has the Minister considered this matter? In response to an honourable senator opposite who is attempting to interject, I can think of some genetic engineering which might have been better performed. But to continue with my question, does the Minister consider that this research involves questions which are important socially as well as from a scientific point of view? Has the Government determined any policy in relation to this? Can the Minister indicate generally to this chamber the Government’s and his attitude in relation to this matter?
-The matter has been raised in the Senate previously. I certainly believe that the matter of genetic engineering is important to the community generally. It has been proved to be so overseas and undoubtedly it will be in Australia in the future. The scientific work in this respect throughout the world has attracted the interest of scientists as it promises rapid advancement in fundamental studies of gene action. There is speculation that in the long term valuable benefits to medicine, agriculture and industry will be gained from these scientific studies.- The Senate might recall that during the first six months of this year an information session on dioxyribonucleic acid was held in one of the Senate committee rooms. Professor Ada of the Australian National University came across to discuss all aspects of DNA and to answer questions on this matter from members of Parliament.
The question of more rigid controls in this research remains a controversial one in many countries today. Few countries have introduced new legislative controls. The matter is currently being considered by officials of my Department, by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation and by the Department of Health in connection with the Academy of Science’s proposal that a section of a high security laboratory within the Department of Health should be used for some genetic engineering experiments. When a decision has been made on that matter the CSIRO will be particularly interested because, although the CSIRO might not be concerned in this research in relation to human genetic engineering, certainly the relationship of this work to the field of plants is very appropriate to the CSIRO ‘s work.
-Will the Minister for Industry and Commerce advise how the Government intends to implement the freer money approach to small businesses- honourable senators will recall that the Government announced this proposal in the Senate last week- while still adhering to its stated money supply growth target of 8 per cent to 10 per cent for the current year? Is it a fact that, if more money is made available through banks and other financial institutions to small businesses, other groups will have less access to funds? How then is the Government to maintain its money supply target as previously announced? Will the Minister assure the Senate that there will be no restriction on access to funds by other sections of industry?
-I am sure that the honourable senator is not implying in his question that he would not like to see small business getting financial help. The statement is quite clear. If we look at the latest figures, I think it is correct to say that money supply expansions are running below targets set by the Government. What the Government has said across the scene of money supply and liquidity is equally true, namely, that it intends to see that money is available for legitimate projects in the Australian financing scene. So far it has done that. The kinds of comments about a potential credit squeeze which were made in the past by the Opposition have been shown to be totally without foundation. I think we said in the statement- if the honourable member reads it carefully- that the whole of this area was now under examination as to the best method of taking the position. The clear policy directions were stated and clear directions to the Reserve Bank of Australia were stated. They will be carried out.
– I ask the Minister for Education whether he has seen a report in the Sydney Sunday Telegraph of 16 October, stating that the Federal Government is considering a radical plan to give parents money vouchers to pay for their children’s education. I ask: Are officers of the Commonwealth Department of
Education investigating these new proposals as reported in the Sunday Telegraph? If so, will the Munster inform the Senate what progress has been made with them?
– I did see a report in the Sunday Telegraph of last Sunday. I have it before me. It is headed: ‘Plan for School Payments to Parents’. I read the article with considerable surprise because there were no proposals currently before the Government or the community which could have given rise to such a report. It is not true that currently the Government is making a specific study of a radical or other plan in relation to vouchers. It is not true that Mr Martyr, a Western Australian Federal member of Parliament, referred such a plan to me or to the Government in recent times. He made a speech in another place, I think recently, on the subject. The voucher system, in the policies of the coalition parties, is noted on the basis that it ought to be investigated.
A full investigation has not taken place, for a variety of reasons. One reason is that in the present situation the bulk of independent school parents would receive a relatively low percentage of funds from government sources, both State and Federal, for the payment of fees. Clearly a voucher would not be a particular help. One could hardly feel excited about having a voucher which might entitle one, on a State or Federal level combined, to 33 per cent or 40 per cent of the cost of educating a child at a government school. Voucher systems are working overseas. There is no doubt in the world that there is great merit in the idea. The principle is first class. It would not be appropriate given the present state of finances, both State and Federal, where a voucher would be a low currency.
– I direct my question to the Minister representing the Treasurer. Is it a fact that the Government intends to introduce legislation to amend the Commonwealth Superannuation Act to change the annual adjustment of superannuation payments from one related to the consumer price index figure to one related to average weekly earnings? Does this mean that other payments indexed to the consumer price index, such as pensions and social security benefits, also are to be changed to conform with average weekly earnings?
-I have no knowledge of any such propositon, so the question will have to go on notice.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs. As the election for the National Aboriginal Consultative Committee will be held on 19 November 1977, will the Minister inform the Senate whether the Government has given consideration to encouraging the new members to join a superannuation scheme?
– I have no knowledge of Government proposals along the lines that have been mentioned by Senator Bonner. I will refer the question to the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs to ascertain whether he has any information he wishes to offer.
– I direct to the Minister for Industry and Commerce a question along the lines of that asked by Senator Georges about small businesses. The Minister referred in his statement to the Commonwealth Development Bank being enabled to provide equity finance to small businesses. I ask: Does this mean that the Bank will actually provide joint venture capital for small businesses? If so, under what terms and conditions will the equity finance be provided?
– That matter is now under study because the Government, as a matter of policy, thought that the Development Bank should be able to do that if it so wished. Having determined that policy position it is now a matter for the Bank to have its views expressed to the Government which then will look at the whole proposition.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Industry and Commerce who represents the Minister for Overseas Trade. I refer to the recent address to the United Nations General Assembly by the Minister for Foreign Affairs, the Hon. Andrew Peacock, wherein he expressed concern at the danger of nations resorting to protectionism in their international trade, and especially referred to countries which are neighbours to Australia and which wish to expand their mutual trade with us. In the light of these statements, what practical steps can the Government take to remove the impediments to increased bilateral trade between Australia and, particularly, South East Asian nations?
-One result would be to increase heavily the number of our own unemployed, and we do not suggest that we do that.
The Senate will recall that the Prime Minister, accompanied by Mr Peacock, went to the meeting of the Association of South East Asian Nations- ASEAN- where it was made clear that we were taking the matter seriously and that consultative machinery would be established. It has been established. It was made clear that we would do what we could to help, that we had done more than most countries to liberalise our trading with other countries and that we would continue to try to do so but our first obligation was to the Australian people and those employed in Australia. That is our situation. Equally it might be observed that we are, I think, quite liberal in our trading policies when one examines them in the context of the policies of the rest of the world. If the rest of the world were as liberal to us as we are to them, we all might be better off.
– I direct to the Minister representing the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations a question which stems from an answer which he gave me last week on the problem that confronts the merger between the Australasian Society of Engineers and the Federated Ironworkers’ Association of Australia, and in respect of the claim by Mr Street that the ASE should change its rules in regard to unfinancial members and people who are industrially in a state of limbo. I put to the Minister that I was told on Friday by Mr Addison, Federal Secretary of the ASE, that the union representatives saw Mr Street well over three weeks ago and some interim arrangements had been suggested but they still have not had an answer. Can the Minister find out whether Mr Addison is right or whether the assertion which was made to me last week is wrong.
– I have not spoken to Mr Street, whom I represent in the Senate, since I answered the question. I do not think, from what Senator Mulvihill has said, that there is necessarily any conflict of fact between what the secretary of the union has said and what Mr Street indicated in the reply which I gave on his behalf in this place. I shall take up the matter with Mr Street if it is urgent, as Senator Mulvihill said, and endeavour to have it looked at as quickly as possible.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Prime Minister. I refer to the ruthless, cold blooded murder of the Lufthansa pilot, Captain Schumann, by terrorist hijackers which has shocked the people of
Australia and, indeed, the people of the world. Can the Minister say what action, if any, can be taken by the Australian Government to initiate an international conference to decide on ways to end these outrageous incidents? Will the Government consider the reintroduction of capital punishment for this crime, as I believe that that is the type of action we ought to take internationally.
-I think all honourable senators would join with Senator Jessop in expressing horror at the incident which took place in the hijacked airliner. I suppose we should be grateful that the hijack is now at an end and the hostages have been rescued unharmed. The Government has been active in trying to promote through international conferences the attitude that something must be done and that there ought to be concerted international action against these hijackers. I shall check with my colleague, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, and see whether I can get the honourable senator a detailed answer on the present situation in this respect. The last part of the honourable senator’s question involves a matter of personal opinion. As the honourable senator will know, when a Bill relating to capital punishment was before the Parliament three or four years ago it was agreed by all political parties that there would be a free vote, and that was what occurred. I shall ask the Prime Minister to take note of the question. I should imagine that the same view would prevail in the future as prevailed in the past, only hoping that in the meantime some people have changed their views for the better.
-My question, which is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate, also relates to aircraft hijacking. When the Government is considering what actions it is going to take on this matter, will the possibility be considered of Australia refusing in any circumstances to accede to any demands made by hijackers, however painful that may be in any individual circumstance? It clearly would seem that any sign of what may be regarded as weakness in the face of hijackers only seems to prompt other hijackers to commit similar acts shortly thereafter.
-The honourable senator raised a very interesting matter. I certainly will have the matter raised with the Government. I know that there is a view that hijackers seem to get away with what they do because they know that certain countries will tolerate their actions. As the honourable senator will know, there has been only one hijacking attempt in this country. That did not last very long, thanks to the courage and alertness of a law enforcement officer in Alice Springs. Funnily enough, we do not seem to have had any trouble since.
– Touch wood.
-Touch wood, as the honourable senator says. What Senator Wheeldon has put certainly warrants investigation. I certainly will put his view before the Government.
– I also direct a question on hijacking to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Would the Minister also consider placing before the Government a suggestion that any country which gives hijackers the right to land a plane at one of its airports for assistance or for taking refuge should be placed under economic sanction to further discourage countries from allowing hijackers to have some place in which to land a plane? The effect of this, coupled with capital punishment, would perhaps get us somewhere. I urge the Government to consider seriously leading discussions on this very important matter in the United Nations to see whether something can be done to protect innocent passengers throughout the world.
-I shall also pass that suggestion on to my colleagues in the Ministry. It is a most useful suggestion. It has always been known that if there is no fence there are no burglars. As long as someone is prepared to act as a receiver of stolen property others naturally will be encouraged to commit crimes.
– That is different.
– It is much the same situation. As long as there is some capacity for the hijackers in the world to take refuge in other countries and to be treated as if they had committed no crime this international crime will continue. I believe that the sooner the community of nations bands together and says quite outright that no succour or assistance will be given and that those countries which do give it will suffer a penalty, the sooner this crime will be stamped out in the airlines.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Social Security. Is it a fact that the case of Miss Karen Green, who was refused unemployment benefit in the school holidays last year although she had left school, is before the
Ombudsman, together with other similar cases? Has the Minister received a report as yet from the Ombudsman? If so, will she table the report? If she has not received it, will she table such a report when she receives it?
– I will give consideration to the question that has been raised. I am not aware of whether Karen Green’s case specifically is before the Ombudsman. I will give consideration to the other matters that have been raised.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Treasurer. Has the Minister seen the figures for total housing loan approvals for the three months to August last, which indicate an increase of 7.1 per cent over the previous quarter’s figures and 8.8 per cent over the quarter ending February 1977? These figures include savings bank approvals, trading bank approvals and approvals by permanent building societies. Can the Minister say whether this trend, which has now been maintained for three quarters, is an indication of the recovery of the home building industry with consequent increased employment opportunities?
-Yes. I have seen the figures. I believe that they are an indication of increased activity and a trend that we believe will continue. I think the honourable senator would prefer to have more detailed information than that. I hope to have it for him tomorrow by referring the question to the Treasurer and asking for more specific details.
– Is the Minister representing the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations aware that the September unemployment figures show that the ratio of unemployed persons to jobs available in New South Wales rural districts is 28 : 1, compared with the metropolitan ratio of 16 : 1? Does he believe that this extraordinary regional disparity highlights the need for a comprehensive retraining and regional employment scheme along the lines of the Regional Employment Development scheme program in its original form?
– It is a matter of comment in relation to that question that the previous Labor Government, which introduced the RED scheme and which still talks about reintroducing it now, in fact itself abandoned the RED scheme in one of the decisions that it took towards the end of its period of office. I will refer the question asked by Senator Sibraa to the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations, whom I represent in this chamber.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Education. Has the Minister’s attention been drawn to a new 47-page booklet entitled The Aims qf Primary Education in New South Wales, which has been described in Press reports as a glossy, coffee table publication written in a slick style? Could the Minister inform the Senate of his views on the aims of primary school education as set out in the booklet and the attitude of Dr John Vaughan, the New South Wales Assistant Director-General of Education, who is reported to have commented on the new booklet in the following terms:
I have a scepticism about the knowledge-oriented learning of the previous aims.
– Order! Facts, not opinions, must be sought at Question Time. I call on the Minister to answer those portions of the question that can be answered in a factual way.
– I raise a point of order on the very ground that you have just mentioned, Mr President. The question specifically seeks the views of the Minister on this publication. There is nothing substantive in the question. I suggest that it be ruled out of order.
– With respect to the point of order raised by Senator Wriedt, I stress again that it is out of order to seek an expression of opinion. I ask the Minister to reply to those parts of the question which can be answered in a factual way.
- Mr President, thank you for your ruling. I will reply specifically to the question asked by Senator Lajovic about whether my attention has been drawn to widespread Press reports.
– Yes- that is enough.
-If Senator Georges speaks from the volume of his own knowledge and experience that would be a very appropriate answer and response on his behalf but others may have further libraries of experience to draw upon. In recent days the Press, in fact all the media, have given wide coverage to information concerning, I think, a document published in New South Wales. Presumably it is a 47-page booklet under the authorship, I think, of Dr John Vaughan, regarding the aims of primary education in Australia. One of the difficulties I have in this matter is that without having read the whole document one is in danger of commenting on or even expressing an attitude to those things that have been published rather than those things which may not have drawn attention but in fact -
– You are just sliding around the ruling.
– Order! I call on the Minister to reply in those areas which I have directed.
– The Press reports indicate that Dr John Vaughan has concentrated upon what one would call the development of the full person in terms of human fulfilment. He is reported as having expressed a scepticism about the knowledge oriented learning of the previous aims. Education itself cannot be polarised. One cannot say that one will have either basic skills and knowledge oriented aims or some kind of -
- Mr President, I raise a point” of order. That is an opinion on the part of the Minister. He is not giving any information. He is merely stating an opinion. For that reason, he is entirely out of order. He has been in difficulty in trying to avoid your ruling. The Minister’s last sentence is in complete defiance of your ruling, Mr President.
– There is a degree of doubt in my mind. I call the Minister.
- Mr President, I understand that it might be an opinion on Senator Georges part because he would never acknowledge that knowledge oriented education would have any part in his brief but an hedonistic principle might encourage him. I said that it is utterly wrong- this is not an opinion- to suggest that education can be polarised as either basic skillsnumeracy and literacy- or the wider innovations and experimentation. Nobody can set out upon the adventure of human fulfilment in this life without the equipment of the basic skills- the basic building blocks. If the situation is that there is a polarisation, it would in fact do injustice to education in Australia. What is needed is a balance.
– I direct the attention of the Attorney-General to reports that the Government is now deliberately delaying the introduction of legislation on freedom of information and ask him, first: Is that the case? Secondly, can he in fact say whether it is still planned that the legislation will be introduced during the current sittings of parliament? If so, can he also indicate precisely when this might occur?
-The Government certainly is not deliberately delaying the introduction of this legislation, to which I certainly am giving a very high priority and I hope to be in a position to introduce very shortly.
– I ask the Minister representing the Treasurer, whether he is aware that under section 4 of the Financial Corporations Act 1974 provision is made to supervise the activities of building societies and bring them under certain controls which would appear to be to the benefit of the building societies’ shareholders and borrowers. Will the Minister, as a result of the recent Queensland experience, use his persuasion in the Party room to bring building societies within the scope of the Act and have an inquiry carried out into the affairs of the Queensland Permanent Building Society, so that the sad story of mismanagement there can be disclosed and thus prevent similar occurrences from happening in other States?
– When we were in opposition, the Financial Corporations Bill was introduced. I took an active interest in it and I think the honourable senator will recall that the Opposition generally supported it as a useful extension of the overall monetary and economic power in the hands of the Commonwealth. I am familiar with section 4 but cannot recall its details totally. It has always been a concern of the Government and the Reserve Bank that the building society movement resided basically in the State arena and was a field in which one ought not to intrude overmuch; but it has always been our concern to look to the safety of depositors’ funds. The senator would have realised that recently the Commonwealth, through the Reserve Bank, took an active position in an endeavour to help. The Treasurer is looking at this whole area but I can give no further undertaking than that because, as I have said, the States have a substantial responsibility and interest in that area.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Defence: As a preliminary inquiry by Royal Australian Air Force experts has revealed that a bird may have caused the recent crash of an FI 1 1 aircraft in northern New South Wales, can he advise whether any progress has been made towards developing a more suitable, and tougher, windscreen or other protection for these and other aircraft under the Minister’s control?
-I shall have to seek that information for the honourable senator from my colleague in another place.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Health: Is it a fact that a 24-hour emergency aerial medical ambulance service is not available on Groote Eylandt? If this is a fact, is it due to the shortage of flight crew to operate the service? Will the Minister undertake to investigate the situation and, if staff shortage is the problem, take action to recruit appropriate personnel so that there will not be a repetition of the recent situation in which an accident victim, kept on the island overnight, died through lack of appropriate treatment?
– I have no information on the matters raised by the honourable senator but shall refer them to the Minister for Health for an early answer.
– I ask the Minister representing the Treasurer. Following the decision of the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission in respect of power workers in the La Trobe Valley, and the possibility of further industrial action, which would inevitably cause widespread disruption to industry and commerce throughout Australia, will the Minister take action to ensure that special arrangements are made for the provision through the banking system of adequate carry on funds for hard pressed businesses that are adversely affected by that action?
– The decision to have a total strike would have the most alarming consequences for the work force and for business generally. I shall take the honourable senator’s suggestion seriously and commend it to the Treasurer.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs whether he has noted the remarks of Professor Brogan that a Mr Burridge, a member of the staff of the Australian High Commission in Port Moresby, had approached him to act as an agent of the Joint Intelligence Organisation in collecting information on Irian Jaya, or West Irian? Is it normal for senior public servants to act in such a capacity in friendly countries. What is the purpose of collecting information about West Irian? Further, does this incident reveal that the Government is now concerned about the activities of Indonesia in this region?
-I have no personal knowledge of this matter and I therefore ask the honourable senator to place the question on notice.
Assent to the following Bills reported:
Customs Tariff(Coal Export Duty) Amendment Bill 1977.
Excise Tariff Amendment Bill 1977.
– Pursuant to section 23a of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918, I present a copy of the report with a map by the distribution commissioners for Queensland, showing the boundaries of each proposed division, together with copies of the suggestions, comments and objections lodged with the commissioners.
Ordered that the report and map be printed.
– by leave- I move:
I seek leave to continue my remarks later.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
– Pursuant to section 23a of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918, I present a copy of the report with a map by the distribution commissioners for South Australia, showing the boundaries of each proposed division, together with copies of the suggestions, comments and objections lodged with the commissioners.
Ordered that the report and map be printed.
– by leave- I move:
I seek leave to continue my remarks later.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
– Pursuant to section 23a of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918, I present a copy of the report with a map by the distribution commissioners for Western Australia, showing the boundaries of each proposed division, together with copies of the suggestions, comments and objections lodged with the commissioners.
I anticipate that bulk supplies of the report will be available in time for them to be distributed to members and senators tomorrow- Wednesday, 19 October 1977. In the meantime copies of the report have been placed in the Parliamentary Library for senators’ perusal. However, I can say that the distribution commissioners have made no changes to their preliminary proposals which were made public on15 August 1977.
Ordered that the report and map be printed.
– by leave- I move:
I seek leave to continue my remarks later.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
– Pursuant to section 27 of the National Library Act 1960 I present the annual report of the National Library for the year ended 30 June 1 977.
– Pursuant to section 30 of the Honey Industry Act 1962 I present the annual report of the Australian Honey Board for the year ended 30 June 1 977.
-by leave- I move:
I seek leave to continue my remarks later.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
– Pursuant to section 39 of the Australian Shipping Commission Act 1 956 I present the annual report of the Australian Shipping Commission for the year ended 30 June 1977.
– Pursuant to section 9 of the Social Services Act 1947 I present the annual report of the Department of Social Security for the year ended 30 June 1977.
– by leave- I move:
I seek leave to continue my remarks.
Leave granted: debate adjourned.
Senator DURACK (Western AustralianAttorneyGeneral) For the information of honourable senators I present the report of the Temporary Assistance Authority on rubber tyres and tyre cases.
Motion (by Senator Withers)- by leaveagreed to:
That Senators Maunsell and James McClelland be granted leave of absence for two months on account of absence overseas on parliamentary business.
Senator WITHERS (Western Australia-
Leader of the Government in the Senate)- by leave- I move:
Mr President, I point out that that is by arrangement with the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Wriedt).
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Discharge of Item from the Notice Paper
– by leave- I move:
I move that motion because last week the Senate agreed to the distribution proposals for Tasmania.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
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 Durack) read a first time.
– I move:
I seek leave to have the second reading speech incorporated in Hansard.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
The speech read as follows-
The primary purpose of this Bill is to implement the recommendations of the Remuneration Tribunal as to salaries and allowances of Judges and persons of judicial status. This is effected firstly by clause 4 of the Bill which provides for the salaries and allowances set out in the Second Schedule and secondly by clause 9 which repeals and re-enacts in substance the existing legislative provision for remuneration of presidential members of the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission at rates fixed for the Federal Court of Australia.
In accordance with the recommendations of the Remuneration Tribunal, the new salaries are back-dated to 1 June 1977. Opportunity has been taken to revise provisions in a number of Acts relating to the salaries and allowances payable to judges and persons of judicial status occupying offices created by those Acts. The amendments will bring those provisions into a form which accords with the present policy of fixation by the Parliament of judicial salaries after recommendation by the Remuneration Tribunal. Subject to some exceptions, no provision is made for additional remuneration for persons occupying more than one office. The exceptions to which I refer fall into two groups. Firstly, the chief judges of the Supreme Courts of the Australian Capital Territory and Northern Territory receive $ 1 , 000 by way of salary and $250 by way of annual allowance over and above their remuneration as members ofthe Federal Court of Australia. Secondly, an additional annual allowance of $250 is payable to the presidents of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal and Trade Practices Tribunal and the Director-General of Security.
Opportunity has also been taken to ensure that the appointment ofa judge or presidential member of the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission to some other offices does not affect tenure of office as a judge or presidential member, as the case may be. In the case of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, Trade Practices Tribunal and the Prices Justification Tribunal, the new provisions, to be inserted by clauses 5, 16 and 18, make explicit what is probably implicit in the existing legislation. In the case of the Law Reform Commission, the new provisions in clauses 11 and 13 of the Bill have the effect of extending to a presidential member of the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission the existing provisions which protect the status of a judge appointed as Chairman of the Law Reform Commission. Clauses 12 and IS make amendments of a drafting nature only consequent upon the new definition of judicial office to be inserted by clause 1 1. 1 commend the Bill to the Senate.
Debate (on motion of Senator Douglas McClelland) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 13 October on motion by Senator Carrick:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
-The States Grants (Housing Assistance) Bill 1977 provides for the payment of $390m to the States for welfare housing during 1977-78- this financial year. The amount represents the final payment which will be made under the terms of the five-year Housing Agreement entered into with the States by the Whitlam Labor Government in 1973 when my colleague, the honourable member for Hughes, the Hon. Leslie Johnson, was the Federal Minister for Housing. This Bill points up clearly the Government’s disproportionately harsh treatment of the housing sector, which is one of the most vital social priorities of the Australian community. As my colleague, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the other place, Mr Tom Uren, pointed out last Wednesday when speaking to this measure in the other place, the level of gross advances to the States is to rise by $ 1 5m in the current financial year, but the net funds which will be available to the States after meeting debt services costs will fall by 2 per cent in money terms. In real terms this will represent a cut of 1 1.6 per cent in funds which are at the disposal of the States for welfare housing assistance during the current financial year. This follows a real decrease during the financial year 1976-77.
The disproportionate cuts in federal expenditure on housing under the Fraser Government are reflected in the proportion of total Budget outlays which are accounted for by such expenditure over the past few years. The level of federal expenditure on housing has dropped from 3.9 per cent of total outlays in 1974-75 to a mere 1.9 per cent of total outlays this financial year. This decrease in the absolute level of funds being made available for housing must be viewed against a background of extraordinarily high and rising levels of unemployment throughout the Australian community, against a background of sluggish economic activity generally and in particular in the housing industry, and against a background of record numbers of applications for housing assistance.
It has been estimated that as a result ofthe real decreases in government assistance to the States the capacity of the home building industry in New South Wales- the State which I have the honour to represent and which the Minister for Education (Senator Carrick), who is at the table, has the honour to represent in this Parliamenthas decreased by approximately 1,000 dwellings a year over the past few years. Meanwhile, it is conservatively estimated that across Australia 100,000 families are presently waiting for welfare housing. In New South Wales, the State about which I have spoken, some 30,000 families are on the waiting list. The waiting time for available housing accommodation is more than Vh years.
In view of the current economic and employment climate, I suggest that this figure can only be expected to increase further as more people are thrown out of work because of the economic policies which are pursued by this Government. The cuts in real government housing expenditure this year will worsen the welfare housing situation and will provide no stimulus at all to the housing industry generally at a time when stimulation for that industry is most needed. Yet in this year’s Budget the Treasurer (Mr Lynch) claimed that activity in the housing industry will return, to use his words, ‘to the high levels achieved in mid- 1976’.
There is solid evidence to dispute the truth of this statement. The Labor Party is not alone in holding this view. The New South Wales Division ofthe Housing Industry Association runs an economic research department which, in an article titled ‘Federal Budget 1977- No joy for housing’, described the Treasurer’s statement as optimistic’. The New South Wales Division of the Housing Industry Association estimates that the Treasury is targeting for the completion of 140,000 private new dwellings in the current year, whilst its estimate, which it believes to be in line with the forecast of the Indicative Planning
Council, is that only 132,000 new dwellings will be completed. That figure of 132,000 dwellings includes both private and public dwellings. So on those figures alone there is a discrepancy of some 8,000 private new dwellings this financial year.
There are ample reasons that the Government’s assertion of a rebounding home building industry are open to serious doubt. For instance, I have mentioned already the 1 1.6 per cent cut in real government assistance to the States. Other factors include the tight monetary targets which have been set by the Government. The rate of growth of M3- which includes the cash within the community, the amount in trading bank current deposits and in trading and savings bank deposits on a term basis- is to decrease to the 8 per cent to 10 per cent range this year, against the 10 per cent to 12 per cent range last year. This goal will severely inhibit the Treasurer’s promise, which is set out on page 26 of his Budget Speech, that:
The availability of finance will not be a barrier to steady, sustainable growth in home building activity.
The likelihood of both monetary growth targets and promises of adequate housing finance being realised recedes even further in view of the Government’s most recent promise that small business too will receive generous finance this year. Despite the Budget statement that the Reserve Bank has been advised to encourage increased lending for private home building, a Reserve Bank report recently made public suggests that the rate of growth in housing finance will actually slow down this year compared with last year. Furthermore, the Budget suggests that banks should lend to the States in areas where the capacity of the building industry is underutilised. As my colleague, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the other place pointed out last week, the financial institutions do not have the resources to analyse where capacity is under utilised and where the need is greatest. That is one of the great deficiencies of the existing arrangements in housing.
Also, the prevailing very high interest rate levels on mortgage finance have been and will continue to be a serious barrier to home ownership for prospective home purchasers. Here again, the Budget promise that the banks and other financial institutions will be encouraged to increase their lending for home building seems to me to be something of a lame duck promise. There is an undertaking that banks will be encouraged to extend their facilities for home building finance. Last week an undertaking was given by the Government that banks will be encouraged to extend their lending facilities for private business purposes. On the other hand, there has been a request by the Treasurer in his Budget Speech to constrict the amount of money available for lending purposes generally. Therefore no amount of willingness to lend on the part of banks will induce people to borrow at exorbitant interest rates. The Housing Industry Association from my State of New South Wales has estimated that a 1 percentage point reduction in interest rates will result in an additional 11,000 new private dwelling completions this financial year. However, interest rates will remain high as long as inflation remains at its current level of over 13 per cent. The figure at which inflation now stands, of course, is measured by the consumer price index.
While this situation prevails and while the Fraser Government takes no steps to rectify it, the demand for housing will continue to slacken with the further result of pushing more builders out of the industry while fewer families attain the goal of home ownership. If anyone is in contact with the building industry in New South Wales, he cannot dispute that that industry is in a very parlous situation. Hardware stores are facing a difficulty in trading operations. Builders are virtually going out of business every day. There is very little home construction or home unit construction going on in the metropolitan area of Sydney. Fewer families are able to attain the goal of home ownership. As the Housing Industry Association has pointed out, the recent Budget increase in company taxes will do little to assist the building industry because that invariably causes cost increases for home builders which they will find difficult to absorb with profit margins already at their lowest point in the housing industry for more than three years.
Other taxation measures too have disadvantaged the industry. In particular, home builders have been excluded from the stock valuation adjustment scheme which was introduced last year. This was despite the pleas of the Housing Industry Association and of the 20,000 home builders across Australia who are unable to take advantage of that tax concession. Not only has Federal Government direct expenditure on housing been cut. Its other measure of housing assistance, namely, the Home Savings Grant scheme, is proving remarkably ineffective. Last financial year, that is 1976-77, $2 1.5m was allocated for homes savings grants. Of that $2 1.5m only $8m was actually expended. Surely the implications are that thousands of first home seekers are unable to take advantage of the homes savings grants because of their inability to bridge the deposit gap. They have a certain amount in their savings but the land which they purchase and the home which they wish to construct costs more than the amount which they have in their savings account and that which they are able to borrow from a financial institution. Their inability to bridge the deposit gap is brought about by high interest rates and the increasing costs of land and house building materials.
I note that once again the Government has allocated $21m this financial year for the purpose of the homes savings grants scheme. But, unless there is some abatement in the high cost of finance and a general slow down in the inflation rate, I suggest that. as far as the utilisation of the home savings grants are concerned this financial year, the situation will be no different from the situation which existed last financial year when $2 1.5m was allocated for the purpose of homes savings grants and only $8m was actually expended in that area. People are unable to take up these grants to use the benefit of the scheme because of their inability to gain housing finance in the first instance and because of the great deposit gap which exists and which year by year continues to get apparently wider and wider. Therefore, before an improvement in the situation can occur, surely it is axiomatic that interest rates come down. I suggest that that would entail a sustainable reduction in the level of inflation. But in the two years in which it has been in office, this Government has done nothing on either score and certainly the future looks bleak for home seekers and home builders alike. There is little doubt that the Treasurer’s claim of a healthier housing climate this year will not be realised.
Having made those comments, I say that the Bill before us proposes to reduce the level of financial assistance which has been provided to the States for welfare housing. In short, this will mean that fewer of the increasing numbers of people requiring this type of assistance will be able to obtain it. More people will feel the hardship of not having living standards which have long been considered normal for Australians and longer will be the queues of those people who want housing accommodation assistance. At the same time, by not providing stimulatory measures for the building industry and by allowing the existing low level of demand to continue, more small firms and shall builders will leave the industry this financial year. The only fact of which we can be sure is that the situation next year will be worse for the home seeker and for those who are engaged in the industry. I suggest that both sections can thank the policies of this Government for that dilemma.
As I mentioned earlier, the payment of $390m to the States for welfare housing this financial year represents the final payment in the five-year Agreement which was entered into with the States by the Whitlam Australian Labor Party Government in 1973. No doubt, in any future arrangements for the provision of Commonwealth assistance to the States for welfare housing, this Government will seek to limit its involvement with this aspect of social welfare by probably establishing harsher criteria for those wishing to qualify for such assistance and also by further restricting the amount of money available for welfare housing. This is what has been foreshadowed by the Minister in his second reading speech, though phrased in somewhat milder terms.
Therefore, the Labor Party sees in this Bill the dismal end of yet another social welfare scheme that was initiated by the Whitlam Labor Government. To quote again the Housing Industry Association, there is ‘no joy for housing’ to be had from the 1 977-78 Budget. As I have said, the Bill provides for payment to the States during 1977 of $390m for welfare housing. This amount represents the final payment which is to be made under the terms of the five-year Housing Agreement entered into with the States by the Whitlam Labor Government in 1973.
-In rising to speak on the States Grants (Housing Assistance) Bill 1977 I wish to make a few comments on the 1 973-74 Housing Agreement which is in its final year, the amendments that are yet to come forward and the changes that are likely to be made to the scheme. The scheme goes right back to 1 946, in one form or another. As I said, this is the last year of the 1 973-74 Agreement. From its inception the scheme has been one of good ideals, but in many cases governments seem to have got off the track. I have taken the opportunity to read the housing debates in 1 945 and 1946, and I will advert to those later. It is interesting to observe the purpose of this scheme when it was started and to ascertain whether we have changed or whether the purpose of the scheme has changed. .
This Bill provides $390m as advances for welfare housing. It authorises payments to the States amounting to $195m in the first six months of 1978-79. The Bill also gives the Treasurer approval to borrow the funds. Under the legislation the money will be distributed by the States either through the State housing authorities or through the Home Builders Account by the terminating building societies. Under the terms of the Agreement the advances are repayable over 53 years, with interest at 4 per cent on money distributed through the State housing authorities and at41/2 per cent on money distributed through the terminating building societies. Loan eligibility is one area that, to me, is quite questionable. At present an applicant must receive less than 85 per cent of average weekly earnings to qualify for a loan from a State housing authority and less than 95 per cent of average weekly earnings to qualify under the Home Builders Account. Under the Agreement only 30 per cent of the money made available to the States is to be applied to the construction of houses for sale; the rest is to be applied to the construction of rental housing.
The current Housing Agreement came into force on 1 July 1973 and concludes on 30 June 1978 when there will be a new agreement which may well be before the Senate, as I understand it, this session or very early next session. Under this Bill the advance of $390m will be distributed as follows: New South Wales will receive $128m; Victoria, $101m; Queensland, $39m; South Australia, $58m; Western Australia, $36m; and Tasmania, $25m. In 1973-74 there was an allocation of $218,650,000; in 1974-75, $385,400,000; in 1975-76, $364,600,000; in 1976- 77, $375m; and, as I said, the allocation for 1977- 78 is $390m.
The amendments to the Act that have been foreshadowed have not come to hand, but we believe that they should be available very shortly. The main purpose of the amendments has already been discussed with and agreed to by the various States. The amendments will enable Tasmania and Victoria in particular to relax the limit on housing constructed for sale by State housing authorities. They will allow the New South Wales and Tasmanian housing authorities to sell houses for cash and to put that money back into housing construction as quickly as possible. They will allow each State to fix its own limits in respect of the amounts to be charged for management fees by terminating building societies and the amounts that can be deducted as approved charges for the handling of loans from the Home Builders Account.
The new Agreement will come into operation a s from 1 July 1978, but by that time the Commonwealth Government will have provided under the present Agreement $ 1,734m, including the $390m allocated under this Bill. By that time more than 300,000 houses will have been constructed since 1945 and a total amount of approximately $4 billion will have been expended. When I was reading the 1 945 debates I found that on 1 3 September 1 945 the then Minister, Mr J. J. Dedman, outlined in his second reading speech the basic fundamentals of the scheme which I believe are still virtually the same today. I will quote a couple of things that he said:
I do not think that is questioned. He also said: . . covers only rental housing of a good reasonable standard, for those who are in need of proper housing accommodation, and who, for various reasons, do not desire or are unable to purchase their own homes. The Agreement would not preclude subsequent sale to a tenant at the discretion ofthe housing authority.
In addition, each State has passed legislation for the encouragement of home ownership by means of rental purchase terms with small deposits- in some cases no deposit at all . . .
He also said: . . to let these dwellings, whatever their economic rent may be. . . By economic rent I mean the costs which ordinarily enter into rent, such as interest, repayment of capital, maintenance, rates and taxes, and administration. The difference between one-fifth of the family income and the economic rent would be rebated. As the income rises or falls, however, the rebate will diminish or increase.
He also said:
Naturally, a family which requires a rental rebate will have to disclose its income, but this is quite reasonable, considering the large sums of money involved.
I also indulge myself by repeating the comment that put him into immortality. He said:
The Commonwealth Government is concerned to provide adequate and good housing for the workers: it is not concerned with making the workers into little capitalists.
That appeared on page 6265 of Hansard of 2 October 1 945. Those basic points are still valid today. We have got away from several of them. The main requirements are to see that we get back to what was originally intended, bearing in mind the changes that have occurred in the general sociological structure of the country in the period since. The sort of sociological changes I refer to include the very high incidence of two income families, smaller family units, the greater mobility of people generally, the fact that the aged are cared for far less at home than they were in 1945 and thereafter, and the fact that a lot of units accommodate young people who would never previously have been away from home.
In providing funding for housing, housing departments, housing commissions and the terminating building societies have taken what I suppose is a logical step. They have dealt firstly with the people who are easiest. This does not include people in the greatest need. The Housing Department in Tasmania provided strict rules that it would not, under any circumstances, take on anybody who had been in trouble with previous landlords for non-payment of rent, people who had been in trouble with the law or people who had had a matrimonial break-up. If it is not up to the State housing authorities to look after these groups I fail to see what their best function should be. People who are in need of help should be helped by the community. We hear tirades every now and then about the evils of the landlord. The private landlord has done a tremendous amount to provide a lot of housing, in some cases at high rents, but in most cases at normal, economic market rents. I believe the system got out of hand when living in a Housing Commission house became a bonus and not a benefit. The new Act I trust will work towards eliminating bonuses and looking after the poor.
The Henderson report on poverty showed clearly how few of the people in government provided, government funded houses needed that benefit. It also showed how many people in genuine need of assistance from the State were renting in the private sector. The only reasonable way to put housing on to an equitable plane is to convert both rentals and purchases to a basis of market equity. The rental of all housing provided by the Government should be based on market rental. The rebating of rent for people who are unable to pay market rental could be done through the housing assistance voucher experiment or by any other form of rebate that the State governments in their wisdom may choose to allow. The worst thing politicians or businessmen can do to people is increase a charge. It does not matter whether that charge is for rent, milk or anything else. To overcome this factor, if all rents were charged at the economic rental prevailing and discounted so that in the fullness of time the discounting was varied, this would make the tenant concerned much more cognisant of the actual rental position.
A lot of people are receiving benefits to which they have no entitlement and for which they have no need. They are doing this at the expense of those in real need. I noticed in an article earlier in the year that a family with an income of $500 a week was paying $25 a week rent. None of us could possibly countenance that the Federal Government or State governments should continue this unfair subsidy. It is easy for people to call for more money. More money on its own has never been the cure for anything. The wise expenditure of such funds as are available is what everybody should be calling for. If we can use this allocation of $390m or the money available after the next allocation to better advantage I believe it will be ample to fit in with the economic ability of the industry to provide houses and the necessity of the people to obtain them. We are still knocking down houses all over the place. It has to be considered very carefully as to whether this is desirable or whether the knocking down program should be eased up for a while. Again, the Federal Government and State governments are the worst offenders.
If we can change this scheme to make it possible for more people on the lower income levels to be looked after we will find that those who are waiting for a bonus now will start to look after themselves to a far higher degree. We need to bear in mind the desirability of taking people ofT the housing list people who do not need to be on it. It is normal for people in the real estate, building and banking fields to say to anybody who is a little short of money that they should put their names down with the Housing Commission or appropriate body. There are thousands of people on the list who do not want or need a Housing Commission house. In many cases they have had a house for years. They are probably not eligible for a Housing Commission home anyway but they have not bothered to take their names off the list. Of course, it is the same with the unemployment figures. The system of rebating has to take account of the size of the family and the total income of the family. The present agreement specifically excludes sufficient allowance for both these factors.
If we can get the market rental concept into full operation and incorporate it with a rebate system, whether through the housing assistance voucher or not, there will be immediately and automatically a considerable increase in housing. This will create a greater direction of funding to those in greatest need. It will put less pressure on the public sector by the bargain hunters. It will lessen encouragement to be a tenant and consequently increase home buying. As a result, it will automatically provide a greater involvement by the private sector in housing funding and it will provide a quicker turnover of the public sector funds to give a greater utilisation of them. There can be absolutely no justification for the subsidising of the multiple income families or the higher income families as we now have it. I also hope that all restrictions on the sale of housing authority houses will be removed as quickly as possible. Everybody should be encouraged to relieve the pressure on the State authorities and to make it possible for the money of the State authorities to be utilised on providing assistance for those who really need it and need it most.
I hope that we will see a far greater utilisation of the co-operative building societies and the Home Builders Account. The administration and the cost structure of the co-operative building societies are magnificent. They have done a remarkably fine job. I believe that a far greater portion of the assisted housing funds should go through such organisations, again with recognition of the income of the participants and the fact that bonus interest is allowable to them only for such time as their incomes require it. The cooperatives have provided a magnificent service and their expense ratio leaves absolutely nothing to be desired.
I have found housing always to be a good line for the newspapers. I have before me a book of cuttings from the newspapers which I read quite regularly. Most of them are highly emotive, barely accurate and, regrettably, designed for the politics of housing. I certainly do not wish to indulge in exchanges with either Federal or State participants in the arena, but is is a complete inaccuracy and a gross distortion to say, as one State Housing Minister said, that the building industry will be set back even further this financial year and, according to a newspaper article headed ‘Housing to reel again’, to say:
The queues for State housing loans and for rented housing Department loans will grow because of cut backs in Federal spending on State housing.
The same Minister came out a week or two later and said that Tasmania had had a great victory in the discussions with the Federal Minister and, whereas a couple of months earlier he had been saying that under no circumstances would Tasmania work on the economic rent basis, was quoted as saying:
The continuation of low interest money will mean that rates will be kept within a person’s capacity to pay and I am looking for more generous schemes on rental rebates so the tenants will need to pay only what they can afford.
Paying what they can afford is exactly what the scheme is all about. To say that they should pay only what they can afford is somewhat of a distortion because the question of whether it is only’, ‘as much as’ or ‘what is the economic rental ‘ is a matter for determination.
I think that the old Agreement has clearly moved away from the original aims. I think it now fails to take into account the needs of the period from 1978 onwards. I believe that the States have to start to re-think completely what is going to be the pattern of housing in the next few years. For instance, I believe that the biggest single change in the housing field will occur with the emphasis that will be placed on accommodation for the aged which, I believe quite inappropriately, goes through the Department of Social Security. It could well be transferred back to the department which has responsibility for housing. I believe that the involvement of the States in the planning in this respect will need to be far better. The utilisation of the funds will be what housing is about from here on in.
– in reply- I thank honourable senators for their contribution to the debate. The Bill before us- the States Grants (Housing Assistance) Bill 1977- is wholly supported within the Senate. It is a simple measure that allocates $39m through the six States at low interest rates- preferred interest rates- over a period of 53 years. What has happened both here and elsewhere has been that the occasion has been taken, naturally enough, to have a general debate on housing itself. Considerable interest has been shown in how the stock of housing could be increased and in how housing could be more readily made available to the average wage earner. Of course, that is completely understandable. My Government is pledged to home ownership as a basic principle.
I do not wish to delay the Senate, but I want to say that underlying the discussions have been suggestions that, if the money flow to housing were to be increased, this would help to resolve the matter. I simply remind honourable senators that the downturn in the building industry- in fact, its collapse- had its origins in 1974 onwards. That was a period in which there was a great increase in public funding and public spending and that great increase in public funding and public spending was allied with a great increase in inflation and unemployment. Of course, the combination of those two factors meant the collapse of the building industry. The simple ingredient of the provision of more money is not the key solution. The key solution is to get inflation and interest rates down and to get back to the situation where the quartering principle applied, that is, a quarter of the income of a person on an average wage could buy a home. The building industry and the provision of housing for people would be then back to what it was in the 1 950s and 1 960s. I commend the Bill to the Senate.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Debate resumed from 13 October 1977 on motion by Senator Cotton:
That the Senate take note of the papers.
Upon which Senator Wriedt had moved by way of an amendment:
At end of motion, add “. but the Senate is of the opinion that the Budget:
a ) will intensify and prolong the recession;
will increase unemployment;
will have little impact on inflation:
) will make regressive changes in the tax system: and
will reduce living standards”.
-When I was speaking in this debate last Thursday I was about to say a few words in relation to housing and the implications of the funding for housing in the Budget. The Government has made a variety of moves in an effort to consolidate the various housing programs and the programs that ultimately will make up a substantial housing package. As we all know, there has been a great expansion and alteration of the Housing Loans Insurance Corporation legislation and the home savings grants scheme; the housing allowance voucher scheme, which is an experiment, is virtually under way; a new Commonwealth-State Housing Agreement is coming up; and so on. We are making real progress towards achieving a fully integrated housing policy.
I welcome the voucher experiment that has been undertaken, even in the raw state in which it is at present. I believe it to be a quite useful framework which we can convert into something that can be much more useful than the current proposal. It could be adapted to cover a much wider range and to serve a much more useful purpose. The experiment will show the range that it can cover and how it can be used in various ways. The Commonwealth-State Housing Agreement, which was debated recently in this chamber, had reached the stage where it was too far off the track and had been so for too long. When the new Bill comes forward I trust that it will provide the frame-work within which welfare housing can be dealt with in a much more practical way.
In the area of decentralisation, what has been proposed and the methods of using the funds are, to me, far better than previously. The funding will certainly provide no fancy frills, but it will provide help in places which can show that help is justified and that the money will assist in a particular area of development. When we consider decentralisation funding, I think it is time that we looked back to see how much money we have spent in the last three or four years, what we have done with it, how we can justify it in terms of the results achieved and, alternatively, what else we could have done with it and what we could have achieved. I believe that the Commonwealth will continue to fund decentralisation. I hope that it does. I believe that the funds can be used for very good purposes and can produce results if they are spent correctly.
I should like to say a little about land development. The Budget provides funding for the land commissions in the amount of $ 14.1m, which will continue to be spent in the various States. It is all part of the program of housing development. I have reached the stage where I have the greatest reservations about either the Commonwealth or the States being involved in the provision of land and the development of land. It is not only what has happened in Victoria that has caused me to have doubts about the effectiveness and efficiency of the State authorities. If we were to analyse at this stage the amount of land that is held by State authorities years and years in advance of requirements and if we were to realise what a small proportion of the cost of a developed block the cost of the land actually is, I believe that it would not be difficult to come to the conclusion that the money spent in this direction would have been far more productive if it had been put into housing.
The big need at the moment is houses. I cannot justify in my own mind tying up land for 10 to 20 years in advance, thus depriving the people of today of housing, ostensibly to provide cheaper housing for the people of tomorrow. Various vagaries arise from such planning: Firstly, I am not satisfied that these blocks of land are coming on to the market more cheaply, in the main. Some of them are, but in the main they are not. Secondly, there is no doubt that they distort the development of the cities and towns in which the land is held. Thirdly, they make the servicing and development of the land that is not developed by the authorities far more expensive. Fourthly, they can influence the whole demographic process of town development. If the States and the Commonwealth departments believe that we have the right and the capacity to indulge ourselves to this level, I for one certainly do not.
In this regard we cannot overlook the situation in Canberra. 1 understand that at present- I believe that this came out in the debate on the Estimates- about 7,000 or 8,000 blocks of land are available for home building in Canberra and that approval has been given for a like number to be developed this year. So, by the end of this financial year there may well be about 15,000 developed blocks available in Canberra. I think this sort of operation needs much closer scrutiny. I believe that a far greater input from practical people would help to rationalise work of this nature, to ensure that it develops with an even flow. It is all very well to continue to develop as a means of keeping things rolling, but there is a limit to how much we can keep things rolling. By the same token, if we achieve a mammoth surplus the adverse results will be much greater.
I believe that generally the public sector would be better advised to buy developed land- land ready to build on- at the time it needs it, or perhaps one or two years in advance. It is perfectly reasonable for the private sector to provide a whole subdivision of developed blocks at an agreed price and on an economic basis. I am still satisfied that the public sector does not possess the ability or the know-how to develop land to the same extent. I will conclude by saying that I believe we can expect many changes in the housing pattern over the next year or two and over the next decade in particular. I support the motion.
-I make my contribution at this late stage in the Budget debate by first repeating the amendment that was moved by the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate (Senator Wriedt):
At end of motion add ‘ , but the Senate is of the opinion that the Budget
will intensify and prolong the recession:
b ) will increase unemployment:
will have little impact on inflation:
) will make regressive changes in the tax system: and
will reduce living standards’.
The Lynch Budget represents, I believe, an adherence to the Government’s line of economic mismanagement, rather than management. In addition, it is severely contractionary. When one examines the overall effects, one sees that it is likely to create these problems: Prices will continue to rise by at least 1 1 per cent in 1977-78. People without a job have little hope of getting one- and I will quote some more detailed figures on that later- because, for every job vacancy in Australia almost 1 8 people are competing. That is the figure on the national level; in some areas there are, of course 60 or 70 people competing for a job.
Owners of small business will pay more tax and get nothing in return. This is in spite of what the Minister has done to bring in rescue legislation for small business. Minor tax gains will be wiped out by falling household incomes and increases in the price of fuel. Farmers, despite what the Minister has said in another place, will get nothing extra. One group that will benefit, of course, will be the mining companies, which have been given further concessions and allowances.
Under the Fraser Government, unemployment has jumped by 90,000, but the Budget’s proposed employment and training programs will sop up only about 15,000 of this number. The impact of the Budget on the total employment picture will be to ensure that about 440,000 to 450,000 persons, at the very minimum, will be out of work in 1978.
– You hope so.
– It is not a case of hoping so; it is a case of your people doing nothing about it. Part of the strategy of the Budget is to increase unemployment, because the Government believes that this is the way to decrease inflation, but it is not working and it is about time the Government woke up to the fact that the ruthless measures it is taking are not having the effect that they are supposed to have.
– Is not inflation dropping, Senator?
-No, it is not; certainly, your Government does not know whether it has dropped or not. The Government has been quoting figures ranging from about 12 per cent not so many weeks ago down to the 9.2 per cent that, I think, the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser), has on his calculator. It occurs to me that government supporters are using different types of calculators. Lastly, inflation has remained abnormally high. In 1975 Mr Fraser said that within three months inflation would be under control. Then, as things got a little harder- and I will cite additional facts later- he felt that he needed a much longer period. Now, of course, if he loses his nerve, it will be part of the campaign of Government supporters to say that he needs not three years to bring the Australian economy under control but rather five. However, the Australian people are not going to be gulled into believing that.
– Remember Cunningham.
– You might draw some comfort from the results in Cunningham, but when you study the figures you will draw minimal or no real comfort from them at all. Of course, if Government supporters want to use the figures from Cunningham in the way that they use the inflation rate, they might derive some small comfort; they will not get it otherwise.
In order to further confuse the issue, the Government has decided to pay unemployment benefits in arrears instead of in advance, as was the custom previously. Also, the reduced allocation of funds for income support of the unemployed suggests that the payment of these benefits will be drastically restricted. The youth employment scheme of which we hear so much is in fact not working effectively. There are many instances in which, when the subsidy is withdrawn, the employer dismisses the young employee. I realise that it is not done as obviously as all that. The employer does not go to the youngster and say, ‘Look, the subsidy has been cut out; I am putting you off tomorrow’; but the day before the subsidy ends the employer finds something wrong with the young man’s work and dismisses him accordingly.
The increase in the consumer price index has been higher in each of the three six-month periods since the Fraser Government took office than it was in the last six months of the Labor Government’s term. Even though the primary objective of this Budget was to reduce inflation, it is obvious that it has been framed on the assumption that inflation is going to remain at not less than the 10 per cent level for the whole of this financial year. Government supporters made much of the proposed cuts in taxes. Unfortunately, that was within 24 hours shown up for the phoney policy that it was.
– It is just that you cannot understand it.
– If there is nothing there to understand, obviously one cannot understand it. Mr Lynch could not understand it. Mr Robinson made different statements regarding the cuts in taxes and Senator Cotton made different statements in this chamber, so the Government’s socalled top planners did not know what they were talking about.
– I made no such differing statements here. If the honourable senator will recall, I did not answer the question.
– I note the remarks passed by Senator Cotton, but he has had the same problem in this chamber as the Treasurer had in the other. In trying to explain the financial policy of this Government, each of them has produced different figures. It was Senator Cotton, in fact, who produced different inflation figures from those produced by the Prime Minister, explaining them away by saying that he was erring on the side of generosity. In the statement submitted with the Budget it is shown that the Government in fact expects again to increase its revenue from personal taxation by 1 7 per cent.
– That is not right.
-That is right. To be precise, I think it is 1 6.9 per cent. Do not get upset by one decimal point.
– The adjustment -
-The adjustment to the system will, in any case, not be introduced until the beginning of 1 978 and if the Government is trying to keep the economy in a state of flux it is succeeding very well indeed.
The Budget makes no provision for a reduction in interest rates. Money remains as expensive as it was last year and the Government’s projected money supply policy offers no prospect for a revival of consumer demand. One of the building societies in Queensland, of course, has actually put up its interest rate by half a per cent. To back up that statement I quote from the Canberra Times editorial of Friday, 19 August 1977. The following statement was attributed to the Treasurer, Mr Lynch in addressing the National Press Club on the preceding Wednesday:
The major disappointment of last year was, of course, failure to bring about any improvement in the level of unemployment. Let there be no doubt that the responsibility for this outcome rests principally on the shoulders ofthe Conciliation and Arbitration Commission, which has consistently refused to face up to the employment consequences of its decisions. It is time for the Commission to have more regard to the social consequences, and human hardship, of unemployment arising from the failure to restrain wage increases.
– That is right.
– The honourable senator may say it is right if he wants to. The Government has blamed everybody in the community except itself for the failure of its policies, and this is just one more place where the blame is transferred to someone else’s shoulders. The editorial then goes on to say:
Mr Lynch has made a grave charge that will provoke bitter feelings, coming as it does from the Treasurer of a government that is dismantling Labor’s social programs, who has just brought down a Budget that virtually ignores the existence of Australia’s army of unemployed. It was a ritual political hand-washing rarely seen in public. But how clean are Mr Lynch ‘s hands? How true is the charge?
Then it goes on in some detail to point out the error of Mr Lynch ‘s ways. The Courier-Mail of 24 August 1 977, a few days after the Budget was delivered, had this to say:
But, as the Budget showed, total taxation revenue by Governments in Australia this financial year will increase 13.7 percent to more than $23.3 billion- despite the reforms announced by the Treasurer. And the net contributions of individuals- you and me- to this mammoth overall figure will increase by 16.6 per cent to almost $12.9 billion- or SS per cent of total tax collections.
That was written by an economist, and the figures I gave a moment ago, which were challenged by Government senators, were only out by one decimal point.
– How many millions is that?
– It was only a fraction out, and if you take comfort from that sort of thing you are more politically stupid than I thought you were.
– Order! Senator Keeffe will address the Chair.
– It is very difficult for senators on the other side of the chamber to understand, and even when something is written down they still cannot understand it. An article in one of the Sydney dailies stated:
The Government’s new tax system should be sent back to the Treasury, Taxpayers’ Association president Mr Eric Risstrom said today.
Forty per cent of Australian workers would be worse off next year because of the scheme, he said.
Mr Risstrom said he had done a computer analysis of the effects of the scheme compared with the present tax system.
It shows that workers earning between $5,400 and $7,400 a year would pay a greater percentage of their income in tax from July I next year.
People earning between $5,600 and $6,400 a year will be even worse off than if there had been no Budget at all.
The whole scheme is a mess and should be sent back to the Treasury, ‘ Mr Risstrom said.
It was at about that time that the Treasurer (Mr Lynch) lost his nerve. Even he gave up trying to explain it because he could not understand it himself. The plain facts are that if any benefit is to be gained it will be in the higher income groups, such as politicians and others, and the people who will suffer most are those in the lower groups. The Welfare Defence Movement, an organisation of social welfare bodies established in a sort of self-protection association, said on 1 S July:
The Welfare Defence Movement in New South Wales strongly protests at proposed and actual cuts to welfare spending in the following areas:
This was said long before the Budget-
Family Law Court counselling service; education programs- including after-school care -
It does not matter how paranoid the Minister for Education (Senator Carrick) sometimes gets in this chamber when he is trying to explain away the cuts in education spending, those cuts are very real. The letter goes on:
To give a little more background, the letter also states:
The Welfare Defence Movement, consisting of welfare recipients, welfare agencies, welfare workers, trade unions and concerned others, has arisen in response to the federal government’s cuts to health and welfare spending, which have occurred over the past year and which we anticipate in the next budgetary period.
While I am on the subject of pension cuts, there has been a sleight-of-hand trick so far as the area of veterans’ affairs is concerned. It started during the time of the previous Minister, now the AttorneyGeneral (Senator Durack), and continues on its merry way under the new Minister for Veterans’ Affairs (Mr Garland). The great problem is that the very minor increase in pension rates has taken people into a whole new area where they lose out on all fringe benefits. For the sake of picking up a few cents or a dollar they have lost in some instances something like $10 to $15 a week in fringe benefits, particularly those people who own their own homes and live in highly rated areas. It is likely that some of them will have to sell their homes and move out.
This Government has made much of the problems associated with raising money, and I will say a little about that shortly. But I want to deal now with the very severe Budget cuts in the Departments of the Northern Territory and Aboriginal Affairs, the two areas for which I am responsible as Opposition spokesman. In the Northern Territory the cuts have been very substantial. There have been a number of reductions in funding for the Department generally, and I want to run through just a few of them for the record. There has been a reduction in administration of $1.23m on the 1976-77 appropriation, or 33.4 per cent before inflation. After considering inflation, the reduction is of the order of 41.4 per cent. In other words, that is the reduction in real terms. I know the excuse is going to be used that this is because of the passing over of responsibility to the Northern Territory of some of the State-like functions, but that is only passing the buck. The Northern Territory is now going to be very heavily taxed in order to pay for the privilege, if this Government goes ahead with it, of having Statehood. There has been a reduction of $488,000, or 100 per cent, in funds for Darwin cyclone relief over the appropriation for 1976-77. That is reasonable enough, and I am not going to go into the details of it because the Darwin Reconstruction Commission is winding down. There has been a reduction of $6.6m, or 100 per cent, in the appropriation for the Northern Territory police from that for 1976-77, and that responsibility has been transferred to the Northern Territory Legislative Assembly. Almost certainly that will mean a local tax increase to take up the slack.
The allocation for capital works, which supplies most of the on-going employment in the Northern Territory, has been reduced by $847m from the appropriation for 1 976-77. That is a cut of 32.3 per cent before inflation, so it is well in excess of 40 per cent in real terms. This area is an important employer in the Northern Territory, of course, and I have said before that employers are leaving the Northern Territory because they cannot find work for their plant and for the men in their work force. The much vaunted uranium industry which is going to be used as a source of employment will not work out. If uranium mining gets off the ground, most of the employees will be imported from other States. Uranium mining will not take up the slack in the Northern Territory. Most of the people who remain unemployed are in the semi-skilled or unskilled areas. Many of them do not have enough money to get out of the Territory and are hanging on in the hope that something will come up.
In regard to capital works and services, the reduction is $550,000, or 18.6 per cent, on last year’s appropriation. Again, that is the figure before inflation, so the real figure is somewhere closer to 30 per cent. The Government underspent its 1976-77 Budget allocation for the Northern Territory by $ 10.5m. As so many people have explained to us, that amount was not underspent because it was not taken out of revenue. It remains in Consolidated Revenue. Last week one of the Government senators talked about brucellosis in the Northern Territory and said that the Aboriginal stations were the ones on which brucellosis was worst. The fact is that we are not making sufficient funds available to eradicate either brucellosis or tuberculosis in cattle herds in the Northern Territory.
The 1 977-78 Budget allocation of $191,554,000 is a reduction of $53.3m on the 1976-77 appropriation before inflation. The amount is more like $76. 3m in real terms, and that is what the Territory people have to put up with. The loss of revenue will greatly disadvantage the development of the Northern Territory, and it would seem that this is a deliberate attempt by the Government to wash its hands of all responsibility for the Territory. The Government, in attempting to do this, shows its contempt for the territorians and highlights the seriousness of its federalism policy. It is the people of the territory who will now have to make up the leeway. If this drop of $76.3m or 3 1 per cent in the 1976-77 Budget allocation is not enough to convince territorians that the national Government does not care for them the fact gleaned out of Budget Paper No. 4 will do so because hidden away on page 18 of that document is information which will definitely convince people who remained unconvinced of the Government’s attitude. The document shows that the Government is planning to offset its reduced expenditure in the Northern Territory by effectively increasing the taxes paid by territorians by approximately $21m. That amount represents a massive increase of 42 per cent on the 1976-77 receipts. So federalism is definitely a phoney for the people of the Northern Territory as it is for the people in the States. However, people living in this isolated area probably will suffer more greatly than people living in some of the States.
I want to make a quick reference to unemployment in the Northern Territory which stands at a tragic level. I will cite the figures on a monthly basis. In January this year there was a 32.7 per cent increase in unemployment compared with the unemployment rate in January last year. In April this year, the increase in unemployment over the figures in April 1975 was 58.26 per cent. In May this year, the position was even worse. The number of unemployed jumped to 3,445 people- an 87.84 per cent increase over the figure for last year. At the end of the financial year in June, unemployment overall had jumped 3,692 people, an increase of 112.43 per cent. However, the position became even worse as the year went on. In August this year when one would have thought that the economy was picking up, as we were told in the Budget, we found the position still worse. I do not know whether it is picking up. I suppose that the position could be likened to some of the Ministers who are always looking into something. They have now become known as the mirror Ministers. In August this year the unemployment rate increased by 132.19 per cent over that for August last year. In September, there was a marginal drop from 4,992 to 3,492 unemployed people. But the September increase in the unemployment rate was still standing at 97.42 per cent. The table which I have contains other figures. I ask for leave of the Senate to have it incorporated in Hansard. It is the document I showed you earlier, Mr Deputy President.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator DrakeBrockman) Yes, I have seen the document. Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
The table read as follows-
-On 25 August, after finding out that there was nothing in the Budget for the little people of Australia, I wrote to the Treasurer pointing out in relation to local government organisations in north Queensland and northern Australia generally that people were seriously disadvantaged because no money was provided to relieve unemployment. The Townsville City Council alone which has about 3,000 registered as unemployed has been unable to get additional funds. At least half of the females registered as unemployed in this centre are under 2 1 years of age and generally 30 per cent of males registered are also under 2 1 years of age. At Hughenden, a little centre in the central west, none of the girls and very few of the boys who left school last year were able to find employment. Most of them went outside the district to find employment. The school there does not cover the matriculation standard classes and the State Minister for Education says that the Department does not have enough school children registrations to provide the facilities. But another area not so very far away which is obviously looked upon a little more benignly politically but which has not very many more registrations than the Hughenden area has been able to get the last two high school classes.
I went on to point out to the Treasurer that in the more remote areas- places such as Burketown unemployment stands at about 90 per cent. I did not get much response from the Treasurer. He said that he was looking into it. He is the first mirror Treasurer that we have had. After writing that letter to the Treasurer on 25 August and sending a telegram to the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) on 5 August regarding the lack of opportunities for unemployment relief in the north, Mr Street, the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations, replied in these terms: 1 appreciate the thought behind these suggestions -
I suggested that additional funds ought to be made available in certain areas.
The Government is aware of the problems posed by unemployment at present levels and has been taking appropriate action wherever possible.
That may be true but we cannot find the action, wherever it has taken place. Mr Street continues:
I have received a great number of representations suggesting various approaches to these problems from many sectors of the community. These proposals are in many respects similar to the suggestions you have brought to my notice or are variations on the unemployment relief and wage subsidy schemes which have been developed here or overseas.
As you will appreciate, however, when demand is deficient -
That is a new way to use the word ‘deficient’ - there are both economic and administrative difficulties in stimulating existing demand for labour or otherwise creating job opportunities. None ofthese schemes is without deficiencies and all of them have implications for our economic strategy for recovery. Inadequately researched changes in economic policy will not serve to overcome our economic and labor market difficulties.
We are, therefore, carefully considering all proposals in the context of the current state of the economy and the further development ofthe Government ‘s economic policies.
Mr Street is due for a shock because he will not be able to find them. He continued:
I have taken note of your representations and will make sure that they are taken into account in the Government’s deliberations on the employment situation.
There are unemployment bashers around the place. This is one of the favourite responses of the Minister and the Department today: If people are out of work and make a genuine attempt to seek work in another area, if they run out of available funds or handouts and have to stop for a while, and if they apply for unemployment benefit, they are told that they are not eligible because they have come to a place of high unemployment. Some terrible things have happened in Bowen this year. Allegedly, it is a high unemployment area. Normally at this time of the year there is a lot of tomato picking and vegetable harvesting to be done. Many people who follow the fruit picking and vegetable harvesting travel from State to State. For some reason this year there has been a bigger influx of people than in other years. At least those people were attempting to find a job. Even a little girl of about 15 years of age travelled that far to try to get a job, but because she is under the age of 16 she cannot even receive a special grant. The Government ought to give consideration to these kinds of situations. The Government is doing nothing to reduce unemployment. It is also making it harder for people to live at a subsistence level. However, it is making it very much easier for people to starve.
In Queensland, a so-called developed State, we are about to have a State election. The Premier is running around in circles saying that people cannot march and they cannot talk. I would not be surprised if shortly the newspapers will be censored at least until the election campaign is over. The Premier has now taken on the churches. I remember that Hitler did that when he was in his heyday, as did Mussolini. Only one church has come out in support of the Premier’s restrictions on civil liberties. Queensland has a record of unemployment which in percentage terms is almost as bad as that in the Northern Territory. When we take into account the development of the State, and all the other considerations, the record of Queensland is almost as bad as the record in the Northern Territory. In May this year, the percentage increase in unemployment over the figure for the previous 12 months was a massive 23.2 per cent. In September this year, when compared to September of last year, unemployment increased by 29.7 per cent. Madam Acting Deputy President, I showed this table to the Deputy President and he agreed that it could be incorporated in the Hansard record. I now seek leave to have it incorporated.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Melzer)- Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
The table read as follows-
– In the other areaAboriginal affairs- the Aborigines have been made to suffer. I think I said in this chamber earlier this session that the Government had chosen to use those people least able to defend themselves to bring down inflation. It has used the old, the very young, the sick, the unemployed, the Aborigines and other minority ethnic groups. Statements have been made by representatives of the Government that no cuts have been made in allocations to Aboriginal communities. I placed on notice a number of questions. I have received answers to those and answers to questions I have asked of some Aboriginal communities. They make very revealing reading. The Minister for Aboriginal Affairs (Mr Viner) said that no applications for grants had been refused.
In Question No. 793 I asked the Minister whether any Aboriginal communities and /or organisations in Cherbourg had applied for Federal Government funds since December 1975 and been refused. I asked which organisations or communities they were, what were the projects and what was the level of finance. I also asked the reason for the refusal. Mr Viner, through the Minister for Social Security, Senator Guilfoyle, said that no applications had been refused. This applied to all communities. But I phoned around and sent an odd telegram. There is nothing like sending out a telegram over the radio telephone to get a couple of projects moving. At Yarrabah in 1976-77 there was a project to build six houses. The amount required for that project, including tools and equipment, was $307,000. This was a community project with community involvement. The request for money was refused. In other words, the Minister did not approve it. Apparently there is a fine difference between not approving an allocation of money for a project and refusing it. The Minister has not refused anything; he has not approved it. To me that is precisely the same thing.
A cattle project at Barki Wonga was waiting on a lease before a formal application for funds could be submitted. We do not know what has happened to that. The Aboriginal people at Onslow, the Noualla community, own a 750,000 acre sheep station. They have had all funds cut and now can employ only two people. They have not been given any maintenance funds for windmills, et cetera, and there is a drought there at present. The large sum of money- $ 1 3,000 to $ 1 5,000- requested by the Department of Aboriginal Affairs for advice is not being used effectively. The community has been told that it must now have a white adviser. It has a couple of thousand sheep which are not yet shorn because of lack of money. The Department of Aboriginal Affairs has told the people that they can have no more money, even though there is a drought there. This is a community which is trying to do its best, even though there is no feed on the station. I have received another complaint to the effect that the Department of Aboriginal Affairs now is being directed from Canberra and no longer is sending officers out to the Aboriginal areas to look at problems; now they just ring up. I am told that an old white adviser is well paid but does not do his job. He comes around approximately once every six months but will not explain his reasons for his decisions regarding the running of the station. An amount of $70,000 was spent on a fishing project which was left dormant for more than a year just for the lack of $1,000 which was needed to connect freezers. For the sake of $1,000, equipment worth $70,000 lies idle. The project has been dropped and the freezers are still sitting at the Noualla centre. The decision to drop this project was made by the Department- no doubt with the concurrence of the Minister- because the budget for the project was misspent by a white adviser. When the budget was used up and the project was not completed the project was dropped.
At Areyonga, a central Australian settlement, requests have been made for money, but moneys have not been received. The community there wanted $3,000 for Pimque outstation. The Areyonga Housing Association received about $40,000 less than requested in the 1976-77 Budget. The Areyonga Progress Association requested a $9,000 subsidy for a power house. This has not been received as yet, but is supposed to be coming through. I was advised of this a few days ago; so I shall be charitable and admit that the Department might have sent the money since then, but it will be an exception if it has done so.
Today I was forced to send the Minister a telegram requesting wages for the people at Lake Tyers. They are supposed to have their funds approved on a quarterly basis, but nobody there has received wages for six weeks. And so the story goes on. There are two uncompleted houses at Areyonga because a company went broke in 1975. The people there have asked for $24,000 for two years. To date they have not received any money with which to complete their housing program. They have asked for power and water for a new town site at Areyonga, which will require $100,000. That request was made two years ago also, but nothing has come to date.
The Strelley community requested $73,000 to rehouse people, to fix the town water supply and to make repairs following the cyclone in April 1977. They were granted $50,000, which already had been promised for other work. So, in effect, no new money was given. The allocation for a three-year program costing $150,000, for the development of stations covering 750,000 acres, was dropped from $50,000 a year to $10,000 a year- an 80 per cent cut- in last year’s Budget. The Bayulu community at Go Go, which was incorporated in 1975, and the Wanghaljungka community at Christmas Creek were each offered $25,000 for a housing program in 1975. Applications were submitted on 10 November 1975 and the State Housing Commission was granted money; but we understand that in 1976 the money granted for these two communities was sent back by the Sir Charles Court Government to the Federal authorities.
In a letter dated 1 7 March 1 976 the Aboriginal Affairs Director in Western Australia offered the people of the Kadjuna community at Fitzroy Crossing $34,000 as project money. An amount of $20,000 was offered also for homes in December 1975. In March 1976 the amount of $20,000 was reduced to $5,000. Out of their original allocation of $34,000 they finally received only $30,330. No explanation has been given for the cut. Early in 1 977 the Department of Aboriginal Affairs advised the Kurnangki community that it would receive some finance in late April or early May 1 976 to purchase three saddles and a freezer. An application, properly documented, for $5,7 1 8 was submitted on 6 August 1 977. The community was advised by the Department that no money was available for 1976-77 or 1977-78 as the community had not been funded previously. But there is one bright note in all of this. We have the following telegram from the Jigalong community:
Jigalong Community Incorporated has not been refused Federal Government funds. Grants have been made according to the level of funds available each year.
The telegram is signed by Mr J. Readhead, the Manager of the Jigalong community, who I assume is a white man. As an indication of some further cuts, on 4 May 1977 I asked the Minister about the organisations in Wilcannia and other districts which had applied for Federal Government funds. On behalf of the Minister, Senator Guilfoyle answered:
Yes. Bakandji Limited. The company applied for a special work project to employ 14 men for 12 weeks on the preparation of building sites on the Mallee and the employment of one woman for 12 weeks cleaning. The cost would have been $4 1,660. Available funds for 1976-77 were allocated to other Aboriginal organisations in greater need than Bakandji.
I asked about the Bathurst Island area to see what happened in that district. In reply to my question on notice of 4 May, the Minister stated:
Yes. Tiwi Treated Timber Incorporation applied for $48,900 but investigation of the project indicated that it was not feasible.
Lots of new words have been introduced by the Liberal Party to government vocabulary. Projects are either ‘deferred’, ‘referred’, ‘not feasible’ or ‘not viable’. But seldom is there a straight out refusal. I asked about the Halls Creek area. The Minister replied:
Yes. The Noonjuwah Council applied for $1,500 for emergency accommodation for Reserve residents during the 1976 Wet Season. The request was rejected after discussions with the State Department for Community Welfare on the grounds that the accommodation sought was inadequate.
So, those people stayed out in the rain. The Minister goes on:
The matter of suitable temporary accommodation at Halls Creek is currently being examined.
That is like the houses which are to be built at Mornington Island. They still will not be built after the forthcoming wet season. Kununurra is another area about which I asked for information regarding Aboriginal development. The Minister replied:
Yes. Djidja Enterprises applied for $60,700 to equip a farm and develop a small cattle enterprise. No funds were available for the project. Since then there has been a redevelopment program established which is being funded on a lower subsistence share farm basis as well as a broom millet operation.
It was an awful job to get the money for the broom millet operation out of the Department. About Ernabella which is around the desert area, I asked a similar question. This is the Minister’s reply:
Yes. An application for $ 1 8,000 was made for a special work project for reafforestation. The request was rejected as funds were not available.
In relation to Amata which is not far from Ernabella, I asked a question as to whether funds were available and had been rejected. The Minister stated:
Yes. A total of $71,810 was applied for by the community for housing, $1 1,000 for a special work project and $26,800 for the bakery. The request for housing funds was rejected because of unsatisfactory past performance. Funds were not available for the special work project and the bakery.
So the Amata community received nothing out of a properly documented program requesting assistance. I received a number of other replies to questions which already appear in Hansard. They spell out the same story picture of money not being available. I have more recent examples. Quite recently, the Redfern Aboriginal Medical Service put in an application for funding for the current financial year. Its budget was cut back to the bare bones. The budget for 1977-78 was $300,430 and $100,000 of that had to go into work which had been previously approved by the Government but which had not been paid for. So, in fact, that grant was down to $20 1 ,392 for the current financial year which is a cut of $99,038. These are some of the requests which have been cut as well: The Service needed additional furniture and fittings for the medical administration centre. The amount shown in its budget was $15,430. But it got nil for this year. That shows a loss of $15,430. There was a serious cut in the dental health clinic at Redfern. The budget requested for the year was $80,525. Again, this request was properly documented. The service got a grant of $42,203 which was a cut of $38,000-plus. The travelling dental health unit requested $94,500. This was first requested two years ago. It got exactly nil. The cardiorespiratory reserve assessment unit which would have cost $7,420 was not funded at all.
– What was that?
-That was the cardiorespiratory reserve assessment unit. The honourable senator is a medical man. He would know that this is a documentation unit. Is that correct?
– No, it is a diagnostic unit and rather sophisticated.
– That was a simple request for $7,420 and it was refused even though it had been approved previously. Country field trips which are essential and which would have cost $65,200 were rejected even though there are five doctors on the staff. That means that to survive there will have to be a cutback in salaries. That is about to happen if it has not already happened. The medical resource centre which is needed and for which the Service applied for $2,000 was rejected also. Let us look at some of the other areas. Aboriginal housing, which I mentioned at an Estimates Committee hearing at some stage, since the Hayden Budget is down 55 per cent in real terms. Yet we are told that Aboriginal housing is going on apace. In direct figure terms, it is down from $40.9m in 1966-67 to $39.3m in 1977-78 which is a reduction in that area of 13.3 per cent. When we take inflation into account the cut is of the order of $9.8m in real terms or a reduction of 24 per cent. When we add that to last year’s reduction, including the fiddle in the figures, it comes to something in excess of 50 per cent.
This will have two disastrous effects on Aboriginal people. Firstly, they will not be housed as quickly as possible. They will be forced to remain in river camps and in other areas under very unhealthy living conditions. Secondly, it will mean a downturn in employment, particularly where self-involvement is part ofthe program. So there will be a long term bad effect not only on the Aboriginal adults but also on their children. Assistance to missions was reduced from $4. 85m last year to $4. 28m this financial year. That is a reduction of 10.9 per cent. When we take into account inflation that is a reduction in real terms of nearly 23 per cent. In real terms the reduction in funds made available for health, when compared with the Hayden Budget, is $3. 8m. Expenditure on town management and public utilities has been reduced by $800,000 when compared with last year’s Budget. Taking into consideration inflation, that would be about 1 1 per cent. Legal aid, over which we have had a hassle during one of the Estimates Committee hearings and which now has most of its teeth pulled anyway, was reduced -
– What was that?
-That was legal aid for Aboriginal people. It was reduced by 9.9 per cent when compared with the 1976-77 figures. So we find that in education, in health- that is grantsinaid and in employment which is a most serious aspect, there have been very severe reductions. In New South Wales there has been a reduction of 50 per cent in terms of money made available for employment. In the Northern Territory, the reduction is 17.5 percent. Has Senator Sir Magnus Cormack finished speaking? I do not want to interrupt.
– It is the first sign of madness. I was speaking to myself after listening to you for 20 minutes.
– Well, I suppose one occasionally has to speak to someone who is politically deficient. If the honourable senator was speaking to himself he has achieved his objective. In relation to payments to or for the States, cuts have been made in real terms in the following areas: Health has been cut by 15.3 per cent on the 1976-77 Budget appropriation. That is a cut of 5 per cent on the actual 1976-77 expenditure. Education was cut by 9.2 per cent, and so the situation goes on. In the time which is available to me, I shall make some reference to some of the areas in which the Government, in spite of the fact that it says it is in good shape, has been deficient. On 10 July this year, Mr Lynch said that the Government had been offered $2m to $3m by the former American rancher Mr Wiley Fancher a month after the 1975 election. So Mr Fancher came good with the money earlier? It is a wonder the Government did not pick it up then- or did it? The interesting thing, of course, is that the Government left that man bankrupt by conning him into making phone calls all around the world on the Government’s behalf and then not paying his phone bills. Or, has the
Government paid them? That might be worth probing one day.
In summary, the Government does not know, in spite of the crossfire in this chamber earlier during my contribution to this debate, whether the inflation rate is 12 per cent, 9.2 per cent or 10 per cent. It does not have a clue. That is evident because different figures have been cited. It blames the former Labor Government for the state of the economy, yet it has had two years in which to repair it. In fact, when it took over, the economy was in a lot better shape than it is now and unemployment was at a much lower level than it is now. It was decreasing, and so was inflation. So the Government has itself to blame for the mess that this country is in at the present time.
There has been criticism of the Labor Party because allegedly it was causing runs of money going out of the country. There is no need to blame the Labor Party for that. Somebody had to draw the Government’s attention to the fact that some of its friends were sending money out of the country in the hope that there would be a devaluation. They did it before the devaluation and they made a packet on it, and they were determined to do it again. The Government’s campaign on this occasion was to borrow nearly $2 billion. That is what the loans amounted topretty close to $2 billion. Yet when we wanted to borrow money to stabilise the economy, we were wrong because we did not try to get it through the sources through which the Government thought we ought to get it- that is, where the Government’s friends get the kickback. It is a pretty substantial kickback, too.
The union bashing program that has been adopted in Queensland and in Victoria in particular is part of an ongoing program to divide the community wherever the Government possibly can. The Government is hoping, of course, that somewhere along the line, by accident, something will be stabilised. But it is not stabilising at all. The Victorian branch of the parliamentary Liberal Party has had to expel two of its members. The Government does not have to expel its members in the Federal Parliament because they leave, one by one. So far three of its more prominent members have left the Party in the House of Representatives. I understand that two senators in this chamber are also debating whether they will go this week or whether they will hang on for another week or two in the hope that something will turn up.
– Who are they, senator?
– You know them as well as I do. You know the pressures the Government is applying to keep them inside the Liberal Party.
– Some of you are applying pressures, anyway. There has been a swing in electoral support back to the Labor Party. The honourable senators opposite will not be comforted by the Cunningham by-election result. I think that is the only electorate the honourable senator knows. He has never heard of the other 44 electorates in New South Wales. He found out about Cunningham only because it came to his notice as a result of the by-election. It was a bad weekend for the Liberal Party in any case; a very bad weekend indeed. When the President of the New South Wales branch of the Young Liberal organisation, Mr Carey moved a resolution calling for a national policy on drug abuse it was opposed by the old guard, particularly Sir Eric Willis. What happened, of course, was that the old guard’s amendment was defeated. One of the statements made by young Mr Carey was that the old guard, or the older people in the Liberal Party, could not bridge the generation gap. The honourable senators who have interjected cannot even bridge the political gap judging by the way they have carried on in the life of this Parliament. Then the Federal Council of the Liberal Party- despite the answer here today to the Dorothy Dix question from one of the injured senators- carried a motion by 25 votes to 18 on 10-year moratorium on commercial whaling operations.
– That is what we did in Perth months ago.
-Months ago. This Government is way behind us. Senator Cotton and Sir Charles Court, the great whale killers of this century, were steamrollered in the process. Their opposition to it was not sustained and the motion was carried.
– Tell us how many voted last time for Labor.
– Your powerful friends are coming up behind you. Watch that they do not use the knife on you; they will do so eventually. In another weekend statement, Mr Wal Fife, the Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs, knuckled under to the sustained pressures to pull the teeth of the Prices Justification Tribunal and to extract the teeth from the Trade Practices Act. We all know what happened when he intervened when the Colgate Palmolive case came to light and people came after him with teeth bared. When big business gives the orders, like whipped political dogs you people opposite knuckle under. Although Mr Fraser promised to repair the country in three months, he decided that he needed several more years in which to do it. He hoped to overcome all this by a great bashing down of the economy, bashing the small people and the country. Now he cries out that the Labor Party is annoying the economy.
I refer honourable senators back to 1975 and, in particular, the latter part of 1974 when the Labor Government allowed cheaper textiles and other goods to come into this country in an effort to hold back an increase in the cost of living. Friends ofthe Liberal Party made up to a 1,500 per cent profit in mark ups, and they were some of the most respectable names in so-called big business. In other words, the white collar criminals of this country ripped off this country all the way through and if you people opposite had shares in those things you got your whack too. I have documentation that proves this, and if ever there is a royal commission into this matter in this country I will produce it if the people who produced the documents to me are protected. Honourable senators opposite encourage this sort of thing and obviously some of them are in it up to their necks.
The same sort of thing happened in Queensland. In Queensland over the last few months nine building societies have gone down the drain. The last major one to go down the drain said that the computer lost $3.5m. I have heard of computers chewing.up tapes and everything else but I have never heard of them nicking off with $3. 5m. It is more likely that one of the smarter operators bought assets from friends at well above their value in the market place. That is possibly where some of the money went. Building societies were established to help people buy homes, particularly people who have trouble in obtaining finance. In some instances- not all of them; some societies are run very well indeedthey have been set up as easy money houses for capitalists whose only assets are a borrowed penthouse, a borrowed or leased car, a cheque account obtained by depositing $10, and one biro which was probably pinched from the nearest post office. These are the types of people to whom many building societies lend money. The Liberal Party’s supporters ought to be the last to shout from the treetops because it was a former President of the Liberal Party, Sir Jock Pagan, who obtained something like $100,000 for investment policies. That was not so many years ago. That amount of money would have built five or six houses for people who needed homes.
To finalise my whole case- I have shown these documents to The Acting Deputy President- I want to incorporate in Hansard copies of two documents which were sent out to pensioners. This to me is further pensioner bashing, not by the Department of Social Security but by the Minister who directs it, Senator Guilfoyle. The building society that failed the other week in Queensland had almost 4,000 pensioner deposits. For most of those pensioners the pension payment was their sole financial asset. Listen to what this document says. It was sent out on the day before the Queensland Permanent Building Society went into liquidation. It says:
A large numberof pensioners -
This is a note that was sent out by the Director of the Department of Social Security in Queensland, no doubt with the Minister’s authority- had authorised the Department to pay their pensions to the Building Society for crediting to their accounts. The payments were made by the issue of a single cheque to the Society. On receipt of the advice that the Society had gone into liquidation the Department endeavoured to recover the cheque for the pension payment due on 29 September 1977. This was however not possible as the cheque had already been paid by the Reserve Bank.
Smart operators. When the moon went down a cheque for nearly half a million dollars was cashed. That was the pensioners pay for that week. In spite of telegrams sent to the Minister to try to do something to alleviate the situation only a tiny Press comment went out. If the pensioner lived at Builyan he did not get his money. If he lived in another isolated area, was infirm or too old to walk, he did not get his money. But if a pensioner could front up to the Department of Social Security office and fill out a multitude of forms he could get his money. The indemnity form which accompanied this letter is as bad as the letter itself. I hope that somewhere along the line the Minister for Social Security will lose her iron heart and will become a little softer to the pensioners of this country. In this instance thousands of them either had to borrow food or go hungry. They did not get their cheques. I have a photostat copy of one cheque which was received by a pensioner only in the last couple of days. If that is the way the Minister wants to treat old people I hope it does not happen to her when she is 75.I seek leave to incorporate in Hansard the two documents to which I have referred.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Melzer)- Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
Commonwealth of Australia
DEPARTMENT OF SOCIAL SECURITY
Commonwealth Government Centre Box1088G.P.O., 295 Ann Street Brisbane 4001
In accordance with your instructions your fortnightly pension payment due on 29 September was credited to your account with the Queensland Permanent Building Society. As you are no doubt aware the Society has gone into liquidation and it is no longer possible for you to withdraw money from your account with the Society.
A large number of pensioners had authorised the Department to pay their pensions to the Building Society for crediting to their accounts. The payments were made by the issue of a single cheque to the Society. On receipt of advice that the Society had gone into liquidation the Department endeavoured to recover the cheque for the pension payment due on 29 September 1977. This was however not possible as the cheque hud already been paid by the Reserve Bank.
In these circumstances the Department has no authority to issue replacement pension cheques to the individual pensioners concerned but alternative arrangements have been made to enable you to obtain payment of an amount equal to your normal fortnightly pension payment. It will be necessary however for you to complete and sign the enclosed form assigning to the Commonwealth your right to receive the same amount from the Queensland Permanent Building Society.
On completion the form should be returned to the Department cither by post or in person at Commonwealth Government Centre 295 Ann Street. Brisbane. A cheque for an amount equal to that credited to your account with the Building Society will then be issued to you.
Cheques for your future instalments will be forwarded to the address shown in this envelope. If this address is no longer correct, please advise the Department of your new address as soon as possible.
In consideration of the Commonwealth of Australia (hereinafter called ‘the Commonwealth’) paying to me a sum of $ (the receipt whereof is hereby acknowledged), being an amount equal to the amount of pension or other benefit which was payable to me on 29 September 1977 under the Social Services Act 1947 and which was paid on my behalf to Queensland Permanent Building Society ( hereinafter called ‘the Society’ pursuant to an authority in that behalf given by me to the Commonwealth, I of hereby assign absolutely to the Commonwealth the sum of $ out of the amount now due or which hereafter may become due to me by the Society ( which said sum is hereinafter called ‘the debt’) and every dividend and sum of money (including any sum payable out of the Permanent Building Societies Contingency Fund established under the Building Societies Act 1886-1976) which may be declared or become due and payable in respect ofthe debt and all other rights which I now have or may hereafter have against the Society in respect thereof. I hereby agree to execute such documents and to take such other action as the Commonwealth may from time to time require to give effect to this assignment and to enable the Commonwealth to have the full benefit thereof. I hereby undertake that, in the event that I receive from the Society or any liquidator or administrator thereof any payment for or on account of the debt or any dividend or sum of money in respect thereof, I shall forthwith pay the amount so received to the Director-General of Social Services.
Dated this day of 1 977. (Signature)
Take notice that I of have this day assigned to the Commonwealth of Australia the sum of $ out of the amount now due or which hereafter may become due to me by the Queensland Permanent Building Society (which said sum is hereinafter called ‘the debt’) and every dividend and sum of money (including any sum payable out of the Permanent Building Society Contingency Fund established under the Building Societies Act 1886-1976) which may be declared or become due and payable in respect of the debt and all other rights which I now have or may hereafter have against the Society in respect thereof.
Dated this day of 1977. (Signature)
To: Queensland Permanent Building Society 161 Queen Street, Brisbane, Queensland 4000
Sitting suspended from 5.46 to 8 p.m.
-I take a great deal of pleasure in entering into this debate this evening. I support the Government and I support the motion moved by Senator Cotton in relation to the Budget put down by the Treasurer, the Honourable Phillip Lynch. I am a little disappointed that the previous speakerSenator Keeffe- is not in the chamber this evening. Prior to the suspension of the sitting this chamber, unfortunately, was subjected once again to a lot of waffle, innuendoes and incorporations in Hansard of material prepared by someone other than the honourable senator who was on his feet at the time. I am waiting for the day when the honourable senator will stand up in the chamber and make a speech of some substance. I support the Budget because I believe that it is a good Budget. I am surprised and disappointed that during the course of the whole debate on the Budget a great deal of criticism has been levelled at it by members of the Opposition, who unfortunately are conspicuous by their absence from the chamber this evening.
– Do not do that. You will get a quorum called. You should know better than that.
– There is only one member of the Opposition in the chamber and he is making noises. (Quorum formed). It is very enlightening to know that, even though a quorum is now present, there is still a notable absence of the members of the Opposition who have consistently -
– How many of them are present?
– I think there are three of them on the other side of the chamber. Those people who have been so vitally concerned about and critical of the Budget brought down by the Treasurer show that level of their interest and concern by their absence from the chamber at this time. As I was saying earlier -
– One, two, three, four, five -
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Davidson)- Order! Senator Georges, you must cease interjecting like that.
Senator Georges- I am not interjecting; I am just counting the number of honourable senators in the chamber.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT- You should not count them aloud. If you want to interject you must make pertinent comment.
– Stop counting aloud.
– I raise a point of order. I just heard an interjection from Senator O’Byrne, who is not in his right seat in the chamber.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT- I have observed that and will take note of it.
– Nor are you.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENTOrder! That sort of levity will have to cease. A very important matter is before the Senate.
– The very important matter that is before the chamber is the Budget that was bought down by the Treasurer, the Honourable Phillip Lynch. That is under discussion at the moment and has been under discussion for some days now. Before I was rudely interrupted by an honourable senator opposite, I was mentioning the fact that the previous speakerSenator Keeffe- subjected this chamber and the public of Australia to a lot of innuendoes and incorporations in Hansard.
I want to refer specifically to a matter that Senator Keeffe mentioned during the course of his speech. I refer to his criticism of the Minister for Social Security, the Honourable Margaret Guilfoyle. During the course of his speech Senator Keeffe said some things that I certainly would not say to any Minister, particularly when that Minister happens to be a lady. He referred in a disparaging way to her feelings for the aged and senior citizens of our country. I want to follow up what he said in relation to a particular matter. He referred to the collapse of one of the building societies in Queensland and the unfortunate incident that could have caused some concern to some of our aged citizens in Queensland. I have before me a document that proves that, despite what Senator Keeffe said, the Minister is a person of great compassion, understanding and concern, not only for our aged people but for all those people who are in need and who come under her responsibility as the Minister for Social Security. I refer to a letter that she wrote on the subject. I will read the whole letter even though it may take a little time. I think the important contents of this letter should be read out at this time, in view of the criticism that was levelled at the Minister by Senator Keeffe. The letter states:
I refer to your telegram of 30 September concerning payments to pensioners affected by the closure of the Queensland Permanent Building Society.
As soon as it became known that some 3,800 pensioners would not be able to receive the payments forwarded on their behalf to the Society, action was taken towards the introduction of special arrangements under which those pension instalments, due on 29 September, could be paid.
With the approval of the Acting Treasurer, the Honourable Eric L. Robinson, M.P., replacement cheques have been issued to those pensioners who have given an assignment to the Commonwealth of their right to receive the amount due on 29 September and paid to the Society for crediting to their account.
Already, some 3,500 replacement cheques have been issued and further applications are receiving urgent attention as they are lodged. Some pensioners have indicated that they are prepared to wait for release of their money from the society. I very much regret that some uncertainties arose whilst the situation was being clarified and until alternative arrangements were authorised. However, I am sure you will agree that the prompt actions taken minimised hardship that may otherwise have resulted for the pensioners affected.
That gives the lie to the criticism that was levelled at the Minister in this chamber this evening. Having taken care of that matter, perhaps I should move on to other aspects of the Budget. I am concerned, as I am sure all of my colleagues on this side of the chamber are concerned, that sufficient money is not available at the moment to enable us to do all the things that we as a government and as a group of concerned people would like to do for all the people for whom we accept responsibility as their elected representatives in this Parliament, whether it be in the other place or in this chamber. There has been a great deal of criticism of the Government- even this evening the shadow Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, who is perhaps more of a shadow than a Minister, criticised the Government- because there is not sufficient money for Aboriginal affairs. I, being an Aborigine, am also concerned about that. I would have hoped that more money would have been allocated so that we could have done all those things that I am sure that we, as Aborigines, would like done on our behalf. We, the Aboriginal people, are not the only people who are suffering in the economic climate of today. Let me say that the economic climate that we are suffering today has not been brought about by the present Government. If one goes back to 1972 or earlier and examines the record of the Government of that day, a government of the same political belief as the present Government, one will find that in the 23 years that the Liberal-National Country parties were in government this country was certainly going ahead. There was prosperity and people were able to do the things that they wanted to do for themselves.
– Especially your race, the Aborigines.
– Unfortunately, there was a thought throughout the community- Senator Georges was one of those who promoted the idea- that it was time for a change. Goodness, gracious me, we had a change in 1972, 1973, 1974 and up to 1975 when the people of Australia suddenly decided that that change was not in the best interests of the Australian people. I refer again to 1972. Let us examine the record. At that time, unemployment was less than 100,000; inflation was about 4.2 per cent; the deficit was certainly nothing like it was after the three years of incompetence and lack of understanding exhibited by the Government that came to power. What did we see? In that three years we saw inflation rise to about 15 per cent. We saw unemployment reach something like 300,000 to 350,000. We saw incompetence and handouts and all the things that go along with that until the Labor Party found that the barrel was not bottomless as it thought it was. Consequently, we then found that the people of Australia could see that this was not the Government that this country needed, that it was not a competent government. In 1975, fortunately, the people woke up to this fact and tossed out the Government. We then inherited these problems. We inherited the high rate of unemployment. We inherited high inflation and we inherited a deficit of almost $3,000m.
– What have you got at the moment?
– We have been in government for less than two years, Senator Georges, and our policies are working. The Government has worked consistently. Senator Georges has moved back to his own seat and that is a jolly good idea. If he is not sitting in his own seat he does not have the right to interject. I am told that interjections are unruly, but that would not worry Senator Georges. That is typical of the people who sit on the Opposition benches, anyway. The Government has been consistent. We said in our policy speech in 1975 that our main concern would be to bring down the rate of inflation so that we could get Australia going again and we could get the people back to work. That is exactly what we have done. Our record is there for all to see. We have brought the inflation rate down to almost a single digit from the almost 15 per cent it had reached under the previous Government. We brought it down to almost a single digit. It is now a little over 9 per cent. When we get the inflation rate down to a workable percentage and we get the people back to work Australia will be back where it was in 1 972.
So much for that part of what I wanted to say tonight. There are several other matters on which I want to touch. The matter that comes to mind so readily is one that is of great importance, I believe, to the Aboriginal community. I know there are people in this chamber and others who will read my speech in Hansard who will say: ‘There he goes again. He is back on the Aboriginal question’. I should like to say in this chamber tonight that whilst I am very conscious of my responsibilities, which embrace all the people in Queensland and all the people in Australia, I believe that interwoven with those responsibilites is my love of race and my burning desire to do whatever I can to ease the lot of my Aboriginal fellows and to do whatever I possibly can to improve the conditions under which my fellow Aborigines live at this time. Despite the fact that I am a senator for the Commonwealth and that I may be able to do certain things myself, I am an Aboriginal father, I have five Aboriginal sons, I have two Aboriginal daughters and I have 19 Aboriginal grandchildren. So I intend, for a short time, to speak about matters that concern the Aboriginal race of this nation.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Davidson)- Order! There is too much audible conversation in groups throughout the chamber. Senator Bonner is addressing the chamber on the Budget Papers. I call Senator Bonner.
-Thank you, Mr Acting Deputy President. That is typical of all occasions when matters pertaining to the indigenous people of this country are being discussed. Some honourable senators opposite show a little concern for these matters on occasions, but fortunately honourable senators on this side of the chamber are very concerned for Aboriginal affairs and have supported the Aboriginal people in a positive way- in a way which unfortunately some other people have not done in the past and I am afraid will not do in the future. The matter that I want to discuss briefly is the National Aboriginal Consultative Committee which will be going to the polls on 19 November this year. When this organisation was first set up by the previous government I was one of those honourable senators who stood up in this chamber and made a speech during the adjournment debate criticising the previous government for the manner in which the National Aboriginal Consultative Committee was being set up at that time. The time allotted for the education- if one might use that term- of the Aboriginal populace of the country was not laid down. What the NACC was about and what its responsibilities would be was certainly lacking. There was a short space of time when people were sent out to enrol Aboriginal people for the National Aboriginal Consultative Committee. The Aboriginal people themselves did not know what it was all about, what the responsibilities of the NACC would be or how it would be able to achieve its goals. I certainly was concerned about many aspects of it.
I made a speech in this chamber that I think lasted for some 1 5 or 20 minutes. I condemned the previous government for the manner in which it was setting up the NACC. That Committee has been operating for almost three years. During that time there was confusion, a lack of understanding of what its role was, how it would service the Aboriginal people, what authority it had and a host of other problems. Consequently if one recalls the Press articles that appeared during those three years one will be aware that there was confrontation between the NACC and two Ministers under the previous government- or, I suppose one could say, three Ministers. Sometimes one loses count of the number of Ministers for Aboriginal Affairs during the Labor Government’s three years. In a matter of three years I think there were three separate Ministers for Aboriginal Affairs. There was no consistency whatsoever. There were many confrontations between the Ministers and members of the Aboriginal community. I recall one evening in this place when I was putting down the motion that was accepted by the Senate- unfortunately, it was put into limbo by the previous governmentabout compensation to the Aboriginal people for dispossession that the then Minister for Aboriginal Affairs took up, I think, 1 5 or 20 minutes ofthe time of this chamber to try to stop me from moving that motion. As I walked out after moving it and making my speech, the Aborigines who were in the chamber at the time asked, ‘Is he the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs or the Minister for White Backlash?’ Those are the kinds of Ministers we had dealing with Aboriginal affairs in the previous Government.
As I said, there was then all this kind of turmoil, but I am now happy to say that the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, the Honourable Ian Viner, who is in my opinion the best Minister to hold the portfolio of Aboriginal Affairs since it was created, is a man of great compassion and understanding for the Aboriginal people. He can sit with them regardless of where they come from, be it the cities, the urban areas, the Gulf of Carpentaria or the Cape York Peninsula. Indeed, I had the experience of sitting with him in the company of a group of people at the Aurukun mission station in Queensland during the controversy over bauxite mining and the treatment of the Aboriginal community by the Government of Queensland. The Minister sat on the ground for some four hours talking and listening to the Aboriginal people.
– Big deal! Are you going to tell us he is the only one who sat on the ground with them?
- Senator Georges is making a lot of sounds over there, but he would not know what he was talking about because he would not know an Aboriginal if he fell over one.
– I think you have a short memory.
-At Aurukun, the Minister sat on the ground with the Aboriginal tribal leaders and, having listened to them, and having been able to communicate with them, was able to come back to Canberra and, with myself, spend some time with the Prime Minister discussing the subject. It was because of his fight, and my fight, and our being able to put a decent case before the Prime Minister, that the bauxite mining company was frustrated in its efforts. The Prime Minister said, ‘Unless there is proper consultation with the Aboriginal people on Aurukun the Federal Government will not issue an export licence.’ So millions of dollars in bauxite earnings went down the drain because the Aboriginal people had not been consulted in the first place.
The concern of the present Minister for Aboriginal Affairs is such that he has now restructured the National Aboriginal Consultative Committee. As I understand it, there will be three fields of activity: The Aboriginal people in the States will elect their representatives, discuss the matters that concern them and set their priorities and goals. Another body will comprise members of the consultative committees from each State and it, in turn, will discuss problems and establish priorities as the information comes in from the various State bodies. Then there will be a national body made up of ten members that will have direct access to the Minister and will set forth its policies and priorities and what it believes should be done. Such access will give them, through the party room, a direct pipeline to the Cabinet, to the Government proper. Both legislation and policy will then be determined in the light of information that has come directly from the Aboriginal people. This is the kind of thing that needs to happen- the government listening directly to their voice. We will have in that party room people such as Senators Chaney, Baume and Knight, and a host of others from this side that I could mention, and policies will be determined having in mind the priorities set by Aboriginal people themselves. This is what is needed, as I am reminded in moving around my own and other States.
I had the opportunity yesterday to discuss, in the State of Victoria, with members of both the Monash and Melbourne universities, the subject of land rights and compensation for dispossession. I was there able to meet Aboriginal people, involved in Aboriginal affairs, who were able to tell me directly what the problems were and what the Government should do. There certainly is a shortage of finance for this activity, but unless this kind of information is collated and adequately assessed the present problems will continue. We want the organisations that are working for the benefit of the indigenous people, for Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders alike, to have the finance needed to carry out their programs. Many people make the serious mistake of believing that this is being done for the benefit only of the indigenous people of this country. In fact, it is being done for the benefit of Australia as a whole, because the people can make a contribution only if they have the wherewithal to do it. This nation can prove in this matter an example to the rest of the world.
– What are we doing other than sitting down and talking to them?
-You should have been here earlier when I was recalling a few of the things that had happened while you were Minister for Aboriginal Affairs.
– But all you are doing today is sitting down talking to them and leaving them short of cash.
– At least there is now a straight and fair dinkum communication, and that is a start in the right direction. When you were Minister you could not even sit down and talk to Aborigines because you were so involved in other affairs and so scared of white backlash that you were not able to do the job properly.
Another matter that concerns me deeply, and to which I have made reference over a considerable time, even mentioning it, I think, when Senator Cavanagh was Minister, and certainly in discussions with the previous Director, Mr Barrie Dexter, with the present Minister and with the new Director, Mr David Hay. That is the matter of housing for Aboriginal people, a very important aspect. Unless people are decently employed and housed, all of the other improvements proposed will have no effect. One can make available to people, whether Aborigines or not, opportunities for better education and health facilities, but unless their children can come home to a decent home with an environment where they can sit down and do their homework, it is all to no avail; so housing is a very important factor for consideration.
Under both the previous Government and the present Government the mistake has been made of not setting up in each State a single purchasing authority for the acquisition of homes for Aboriginal people. This Government, foolishly I believe, followed the lead of the previous Government in this regard and rather unwisely set up a number of Aboriginal housing societies. In my own State of Queensland there are about 25 or 30 Aboriginal housing co-operatives, as I believe they are called. Each one of the housing cooperatives has had to set up its own administration. They have a field officer, a secretary in an office who does all the typing and paper work, an administrator, and then a lawyer or a solicitor to do the conveyancing. In fact they are probably each employing four, five or six people. If that figure is multiplied by the 20 societies in the State of Queensland, a whole host of people are set up in the various areas.
– What is wrong with that if they are all black?
– There is nothing wrong with that I suppose, in a sense, in answer to Senator Georges, whose head seems to rattle every time he gets a notion. Let us consider this in a sensible and rational way. Let us suppose that the Government, in its wisdom or otherwise, said that it would allocate Sim to the State of Queensland for Aboriginal housing. There are 25 organisations which would all be clamouring for a share of that Sim, 25 organisations which would have to be serviced, and out of that $ 1 m they would have to get their share to run their own administration. I hope that Aboriginal people are concerned enough to want to improve the lot of their own people in their own areas. Let us consider a situation where we have a single purchasing authority with an administrator, a secretary to run the office, and a solicitor employed to do the conveyancing and handle all the legal matters. As well as that, the services of someone from the Valuer-General’s office is utilised. The single purchasing authority has $ 1 m allocated to it for housing. It may cost $50,000 to run its office, so the balance is the difference between that $50,000 and the allocation of Sim. The authority would contact those interested and concerned people who at present make up the housing co-operatives but who would now be unpaid. All they would be paid is their outofpocket expenses if they want to run around. Each of the groups would be asked about their needs. Let us take Ipswich as an example. The field officer for the single purchasing authority would go to Ipswich and ask what their need was in that area. He might be told that there are 10 families in Ipswich who need to be housed. The field officer would go to Toowoomba, Rockhampton, Townsville, Cairns, Mareeba and so on and work out the number of houses required. He would then come back to Brisbane and say: ‘We have got $ 1 m and we need 100 houses. Ipswich cannot have 10 houses this year, it can have only nine. Toowoomba cannot have eight houses, it can have only six.’ The authority would work out what it could afford to do with the amount of money available. But consider the savings. Instead of the 25 different groups all getting a cut of the $ 1 m, only one body would be getting a cut. The rest of the money would go into housing, and that is most important.
– How many houses would you get for $ im’
– The most important thing to me, Senator Georges, is that Aboriginal people, Aboriginal children, get into a decent house. That is important, not the employment of an Aborigine or a white bloke to rip off pan of the money so that it does not get to housing, and that is what is going on throughout the length and breadth of Australia. When the Government sets aside a certain amount of money there are many rip-offs in many areas, and I would say that 75 per cent of the money set aside by the Government is going in rip-offs for feasibility studies and other studies instead of going to the grass roots level where it is needed, where babies are dying, where children are sleeping eight and ten to a room. The money is not going into housing or health care. It is not getting to the areas where it is needed. It is going into rip-offs by blacks and whites. That is what is happening, and as a place to start cleaning up that kind of thing, what about housing? What better place to start? We could have a single purchasing authority so that in each State of the Commonwealth when money is allocated for housing it will get to housing and not to all the people who are getting a rip-off on the way. I hope that the Government and my colleagues are able to see that. I know that there are many wise people on this side of the chamber who support me, and I hope that we can sit down and discuss this matter and get to the point where money can be put where it is needed and not allowed to be ripped-off by some smart-Alick, whether he be an educated Aborigine -
– You are just a hypocrite.
- Senator Cavanagh, you cannot call an honourable senator a hypocrite.
– Well, he is.
– That is offensive, Senator Cavanagh; you know that.
- Senator Bonner knows that at the present time his Government is reducing the allocation for housing and he is now saying that something should be done. His whole speech has been hypocritical.
– But you referred to Senator Bonner personally, and that is not in order.
– I know he is.
– You said: ‘You are a hypocrite’. Would you please withdraw, Senator Cavanagh?
– I will withdraw at your request, Mr President.
– I am accustomed to that kind of criticism from those who have no real feelings and understanding. Honourable senators on the other side of the chamber are supposed to be the champions of the underdog, the champions of the Aborigines, yet Senator Cavanagh can stand up in this chamber and call an Aborigine a hypocrite. Senator Cavanagh should be the last person to say something like that to me. As I said earlier, I recall an occasion in this chamber when Senator Cavanagh did everything he possibly could do to prevent me doing something that was in the best interests of the Aboriginal people and, I believe, of Australia as a whole. Be that as it may, I should like now to refer to a debate that occurred here last week. Unfortunately I was not able to get a guernsey in that debate although I would very much have liked to.
– That is disrespectful to your Whip.
- Senator Georges, you can follow me if you so desire and say what you want, but I would appreciate it if at least you would have the courtesy to hear me out. Then if you want to criticise anything I have said you will be free to do so.
– I will follow you at the first opportunity and expose what you are.
– You can follow, Senator Cavanagh. As I have said, the matter with which I want to deal now relates to the debate on unemployment that took place here last week. I do not suppose that more concern has been or ever will be shown in relation to the unemployment of people in Australia than has been shown by the people who sit on this side of the chamber. I am certainly very concerned and I would do anything that is humanly possible to alleviate the suffering of people who are unemployed. As I said earlier in my speech, I do not think at the moment the Opposition, which was in government for 3 years, has anything to crow about. In my opinion, it was responsible for the creation of the unemployment we are experiencing at the moment. Over the two years we have been in government we have endeavoured to do something about it, and I suppose the most important thing at the moment is to bring down unemployment. I am concerned for the genuinely unemployed, and anyone on the other side of the chamber who calls me a worker basher or a union basher would not have the faintest concept of what he was talking about. I want people to understand that I have been a labourer- not Labor but a labourer- all my life.
– Then what are you doing on that side of the chamber?
– I proudly support the Party to which I belong because I believe that it has more concern for the working man than has ever been truly shown by those who sit on the other side. Let us get that clear. I am neither a union basher nor a worker basher. I have been a worker all my life.
– You are a Neville Bonner man.
-If Senator Cavanagh had done the kind of work I have done in my life, he would have a greater understanding of what it is all about. I do not suppose that he would work in an iron lung. While I am dealing with unemployment, let us look at this side of the matter: In my view, much of the unemployment is caused by the actions of those in the extreme left wing of the unions- those people who have no concern for the workers although they collect the union dues and are paid by the workers. They have no real understanding of what it is all about. It is these people who are responsible, to a large extent, for unemployment in this country. Let us look in a rational and sensible way at the demands for higher wages and the demands for more leisure time. The people who seek these benefits are employed, and they have no concern for their fellow Australians who are unemployed.
Let us look at the matter in a sensible way. Let us suppose for the sake of argument that one million people who are employed at the moment make demands for increased wages and salaries which amount to $30 a week per person. If those demands were granted the increased wages bill would amount to $30m. How many of their unemployed counterparts could be employed for the expenditure of that $30m, if they were not greedy and grabbing? I am looking at the matter in a sensible, down to earth way. I have lived long enough to realise what is happening. We are getting to be a greedy, lazy nation of people. We are not concerned about our fellow man. We are concerned about grabbing for ourselves. I think that we should get people back to being prepared to do a day’s work for a day’s pay. That is a philosophy in which I believe. When I was working as a labourer I was prepared to do a day’s work for a day’s pay. If I can do that and if every man and woman in this country who is employed would get back to doing a day’s work for a day’s pay and producing properly, we could get all the other people back to work. It is a plain, simple matter of getting people back to being prepared to work.
No one wants to work any more. People want to go to work, they want to be paid, and they want holidays; but they do not want to work when they are at the job. I say this as a working man who has worked all his life. I have worked on jobs where I have seen blokes lean on a shovel from the time the whistle went to start work in the morning until the time the whistle blew at 5 o’clock in the afternoon to knock off work. Most of those blokes have got themselves good cushy jobs in the trade union movement now. Let us have no nonsense about the attitudes of some of those in the extreme left wing in the trade unions today. These people are creating unemployment. They are creating chaos in the community. They talk about the freedom and rights of people when they can hold up the whole nation and the people to ransom. Let us get back to the stage where we are prepared to work- to go out and do a day’s work for a day’s pay. That is the kind of philosophy in which I believe. That is the kind of thing I believe the genuine Australian wants to do. The genuine Australian wants to work. No genuine Australian wants to go on strike for political reasons or for reasons of that nature.
The unions have done a good job over the years, particularly in the early stages. I remember the days when I was cutting sugar cane. We worked six days a week and from daylight to dark. We went back to sleep in a toolshed. The union came in and made the cane farmer build barracks. Things changed and we got better conditions to work under. That is the kind of action I support unions taking. But when unions get to the stage of holding the whole nation and the people to ransom without regard for the suffering of women and children, it is time we took a second look at ourselves as Australians and asked: ‘What are we doing? Are we concerned with the progress and welfare of this country? Are we concerned about our own greed and our own ideas of what we want for ourselves, rather than what we want for the nation?’ I will pose this question, framed in the words used by a wise man a long time ago: ‘Are we asking what the country can do for us or are we asking what we can do for the country as a whole?’ We should answer that question honestly and sincerely. What I ask is ‘What can I do for my country and what can I do for my people?’ not What can they do for me?’ That is a philosophy in which I believe.
I have covered a number of matters. All I say in conclusion is that I support the Budget. I am proud to be sitting on this side of the chamber when the Treasurer can bring down the kind of Budget he has brought down. It is a Budget that will get Australia back on the rails. It will get Australians back to work. It will create a climate in which Australians can live and prosper by the sweat of their brow, not by taking someone else down or living off someone else when they are not prepared to do a day’s work themselves. I have great pleasure in supporting the Budget. I reject completely and totally the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Wriedt).
– I rise to support the amendment moved by my Leader in the Senate (Senator Wriedt). At this stage I think it important to remind honourable senators of the words of the amendment, which we have not heard for some time. The amendment states:
At end of motion add ‘, but the Senate is of the opinion that the Budget:
a ) will intensify and prolong the recession;
b ) will increase unemployment:
will have little impact on inflation:
d ) will make regressive changes in the tax system; and
will reduce living standards’.
That is the amendment to which I rise to speak. Last year when I was speaking in the Budget debate I quoted an editorial in the Northern Territory News. At that time I indicated that the Northern Territory News, being a Murdoch newspaper, was not a newspaper which tended to criticise the Government- that is, the LiberalNational Country Party Government. I would like to read again the quotation which I used. I read it from the Senate Hansard of 7 September 1976. The Northern Territory News said this:
The Budget is a stand still Budget. It does nothing that will get the Territory moving ahead as a whole. Mr Lynch hopes that the business community will rise to the bait and start to invest again. It may be a worthwhile gamble -
It certainly is not- but it won’t work in the Territory. Private enterprise is simply not big enough to pick up the tab in the Northern Territory which relies on the government’s hip pocket more than any other area in Australia.
I think the comment I made at that time could be made again in my speech about the present 1977-78 Budget. There is no attempt to overcome the problems that I mentioned at that time. So they remain. The problems remain and the elements are there, but unfortunately the situation is much worse.
Let us look at some of the elements of the situation about which I talked in 1976 and about which I again must talk in 1977. Unemployment in the Northern Territory is the highest in Australia at the present time, standing at 9.8 per cent of the work force. In August 1975, 1,722 people were unemployed. In 1976, the figure stood at 2, 1 50 people. In 1 977 it has risen to the incredible level of 4,002 people- nearly 10 per cent of the work force. I remind honourable senators that the figures I have cited do not include a number of elements. Firstly, they do not include the Aboriginal unemployed in the Northern Territory. I stated recently that 80 per cent of the Aboriginal people on some settlements are unemployed. The figures do not include many of the women in the communitythe group that quite often is referred to as the hidden unemployed. Certainly, the figures do not include many of those in the Northern Territory who will not apply for unemployment benefits because they do not meet the cosmetic standards; for example, they have long hair, wear funny clothes or have beards. When they go to register for the unemployment benefit they are told to go away and have a haircut or to go away and shave before they will be put on the list. So these people are not included in the figures. I think Senator Grimes made a comment about women being the hidden unemployed; I add this other group. What are the consequences of this level of 9.8 per cent unemployment in the Northern Territory? I should like to read from a statement made by a certain gentleman in June 1 974. He said in part:
The tragedy of unemployment is the personal hardships involved; indeed, the complete destruction of a family’s living standards as jobs become harder to get.
The gentleman who made this statement in 1974 was, of course, the present Prime Minister of Australia, Mr Malcolm Fraser. Mr Fraser was reported to have then put forward a positive suggestion, as he called it, upon which he hoped the then Government might act. He went on to talk about the Myers report. One section of that report which he used in his statement was as follows:
The government should consider closely the situation that as unemployment rises so too should unemployment benefits increase. This proposal rests on the principle that as it becomes harder to get work, so too should the compensation for those out of work be increased.
I believe that principle to be valid, and governments need to make a concerted effort so that unemployment does not remain the complete and absolute disaster it has so often been in the past.
The principle involved in this is all the more valid when unemployment, as it is now, is a result of the government’s mishandling of the Australian economy.
The commentator was moved to make this remark about the present Prime Minister’s statement:
How true, particularly as unemployment at 332,000 in June 1977 under the Fraser Government is twice what it was in September 1974 under the Whitlam Government. The honourable J. M. Fraser has again been caught with his opportunities bared and his double standards showing.
But there are other consequences. Apart from what Mr Fraser spoke of, there are the sociological consequences of unemployment. I have mentioned in this place before the work by the Brotherhood of St Lawrence under their program called ‘Workers Without Jobs’. They knew about the boredom faced by people who had no work- the frustration of those who could not get a job or who lost a job and could not get another- leading eventually in some cases to suicide by those people who were so pushed by the pressure of unemployment that they turned to the ultimate and committed suicide. I think we have had in the past two or three weeks yet another case of a young man in his twenties who was so frustrated by not being able to get work and so upset by the fact that he had responsibilities that he was prepared to commit suicide. But as well as being concerned about the general group of people from my own background, I am concerned about the youth in the community. The following report is, I think, particularly important as it relates to those young people who are just leaving school and going into the work force:
Drugs and crimes were becoming an alternative for many young people without any work or leisure satisfaction, the Minister for Youth, Sport and Recreation, Mr Dixon, said yesterday.
He told the Jaycees meeting that society was facing an increasingly serious problem as youth unemployment continued.
Generally speaking, there is a high correlation between high work satisfaction and high leisure satisfaction, and those with low work satisfaction have low leisure satisfaction ‘, he said.
Later in the same address to the Jaycees he was reported to have made this further comment:
I think that certainly the unemployment situation has got something to do with more young people turning to crime.
This is a reinforcement ofthe study made by the Brotherhood of St Lawrence, from which they made their comments about frustration and boredom. Of course, the pity is that all this is so completely unnecessary. As an example, I refer back to the recent hearings of Senate Estimates Committee E, when the Chairman, who previously was a Minister responsible for construction, made the following comments to the Minister and members of his staff who were before the Committee:
It is appalling to me that the capital works program that the Commonwealth Department of Construction is undertaking is on a shrinking basis, if I read the figures aright. Now, firstly, it is within your knowledge, is it not, that there is very little additional construction for Commonwealth offices, that is, the buildings necessary to shelter and accommodate the Commonwealth Civil Service?
He went on to make the following comment, which I shall tie with his comment which I have quoted already although they were separated by two or three additional comments:
As the capital works part of your program is financed out of revenue, it appals me to think that in a state of exigency arising out of inflation the program for capital construction should be reduced. They are productive works and I think that they should be increased rather than reduced, building assets at a time when you have employment resources and money instead of reducing them in competition for other wasteful expenditure.
He finished off with this rather damning comment:
I would like you to understand that there is one member of this Committee very deeply concerned about such maladroit development.
It is interesting to note that he was supported in his comments by members on both sides of the Estimates Committee table. What is the situation in the Northern Territory at the present time? I shall take a couple of examples to illustrate my point. The allocation in the 1977-78 Budget under division 835 for capital works in the Northern Territory shows a reduction of $847,000 on the 1976-77 figure. This represents a cut of 32 per cent if we take the figure before allowing for inflation. If we take inflation into account, the figure becomes 38 per cent lower than the previous year. Actually, if we want the detail, it represents a 38.4 per cent cut. The allocation in division 853 for capital works and services represents a reduction of $550,000 or 18.6 per cent on the previous year’s figure. After allowing for inflation, the reduction is 28.4 per cent. I give those two examples to indicate the quantum of cut that is being made throughout the Northern Territory program.
It is very disturbing to note that in addition to those cuts, a note in our Budget Papers indicates that in 1976-77 the Government underspent by $ 10.5m. That is not a very big amount, I suppose, in the context of the Budget, but it is a large amount in terms of the Northern Territory budget. The disturbing thing is that this was not done by accident; it was done by design. The Minister for the Northern Territory (Mr Adermann) and his officers set out by devices of deferral, of late tendering and so on, to make sure that this money would not be spent. We had tenders being called far too late for the money to be spent. I am afraid that when we look at the program which we have in front of us for 1 977-78 the situation will be basically the same this financial year. The Department cannot possibly call all the tenders it hopes to call in the time it has allowed itself. These decreases which were commented upon by the former Minister are going to be repeated in the 1977-78 financial year. As I indicated earlier, the result will be massive unemployment in the Northern Territory.
I think I have made the point in this place before-certainly others have made it too- that government expenditure in the Northern Territory, more than anywhere else in Australia, affects the economy of the whole of the Northern Territory. If there is a cutback in government spending by what I have called previously the inverse multiplier’ it affects the entire community of the Northern Territory. The effect of the 1976-77 Budget meant, as this year’s Budget will mean, a winding down of the economy. Again I make the point: The pity is that it need not have happened. If some measures had been taken by the Government the economy in the Northern Territory could have remained buoyant. Even at this stage the Government could take steps to stimulate the economy. Why can we not see incentives being given to business in the Northern Territory as we have seen them given to business in New South Wales and South Australia? Why can we not see the Federal Government taking the initiative and going forward and inviting enterprise to move into the Northern Territory? I make the point first that the most important thing is for the Government to go in and to build buildings. The point made by Senator Wright the Chairman of Estimates Committee E, is valid all the way through. If the Government were to move in and to start building the economy would be stimulated. I am talking of additional steps which can be taken.
Senator Archer in his speech late last week talked about the inducements which could be given to enterprise to move into the Northern Territory. Let us see these inducements given in the Northern Territory. Of course, let us see more government enterprise as well as more government expenditure. There is no reason that we should not see some employment schemes introduced in the Northern Territory. Much has been said in this place and in other places about the ineffectiveness of the regional schemes. Let us not say that simply because there were problems associated with these schemes- problems sometimes caused by people who were not too anxious to see them operate properly- that they were not effective. Let us see the introduction of some regional schemes- some beautification works, some parks works and other things. Let us see the introduction of a scheme in almost any area which will give people the dignity which comes from work. That is what we are speaking about at the moment. All these sorts of things which I mentioned lead to employment. They all cut the unemployment benefit payments. They all cut the sickness payments. I think it is clear from the comments I made earlier that, when people do not have work, there is a tendency for them to get depressed. From depression, of course, comes mental sickness and following mental sickness there is physical illness as well. The incentives, inducements, government enterprises, expenditures and encouragement for employment would all stimulate the private sector. We would have stability first. Having attained that, we would move onto growth.
Much has been said in the debate so far about the place of training schemes which have been introduced by the Government. I could not agree more that these are vital within the community. We must have some training schemes. But, while the concept is good, let us remind ourselves that there are other problems as well. The whole area of training schemes is of interest to the Northern Territory because, Mr President, as you will know, there is an askewed population in the Northern Territory. We have more people in the 20 to 29 years bracket than most other metropolitan areas and most States. If, as some speakers have reminded us, 40 per cent of the unemployed is in this group, we must have more unemployed in the Northern Territory. I stress once again that training is not the key. It is only part of the situation. The key to the solution of the problem in the Northern Territory, without any doubt, is employment opportunities. I am tempted to digress and speak about the situation of Aboriginal communities. Perhaps people are getting tired of my saying that the solution to the problem on the Aboriginal communities is for employment opportunities to be created. As it is with the Aboriginal communities, so it is with the rest of the Territory.
There is no point in training if people do not have a job to go into. People will not go into a training scheme unless, at the end of the training scheme, they can see the possibility of employment. I stress that point very strongly. However in the past previous governments- this is back in the years from 1965 onwards- tried to suggest that training was the answer for the Aboriginal people. We had wonderful training schemes. They were well founded. I commend the people who tried to introduce them. But it became painfully obvious that there was no point in training people if they went back to the settlements to work on the garbage trucks or in the hygiene gangs. Senator Keeffe knows so well the situation which exists on the settlements. I make the point that the training program must be balanced. I take one example of apprenticeships. There is little point in cutting apprenticeship work off for three or four years and then hoping that we can start again. Obviously an apprenticeship is a three year or four year course, depending on the actual apprenticeship. So we must keep apprenticeships going all the time. I think it is fairly obvious that, if we do not have an intake this year, there will be no apprentices in second year next year or in the third year the year after. The point does not need any elaboration. It must be a continuous process.
With training we must look at the new technology which exists in our country at present. We have specialisation to a high degree, particularly in our building industry. If we are to have specialisation, we will need to introduce new training patterns. I have a feeling that so often the situation is that we are working in the past. We are simply doing what has been done before. I made the point earlier that youth is my particular concern. There has been a deterioration in attitude of so many of these folk. They say: ‘We cannot see a job at the end of the road, so we are not going to worry about school’. We are concerned about those people who leave school and see nothing in front of them. They are not concerned and so they go onto other activities which I have mentioned before. I must stress- I hope I am not becoming boring- that employment opportunities are the key right through. Also, we have to remind ourselves that, at the present time, there are many trained people out of work. There is little point in training more in those areas.
We must have a two-pronged approach. Training must proceed but we must create employment opportunities as well. I look now at some ofthe specific problems which we face as a result of the Budget which has been handed down and how they affect the Northern Territory. The first matter is the lack of planning in the Northern Territory. I think of a perfect example in the Northern Territory where money has been allowed for 50 miles of road to Port Keats. But at the same time there is no adequate crossing of the Daly River, despite the fact that we have been pressing for that for some time. That means that the people of Port Keats will be able to drive 50 miles on their road and then drive 50 miles home again as there will be no crossing of the Daly River when they get there. This is a farcical situation. We must have a balanced and well planned program so that, when a road is built, a bridge or a crossing is built to go with it. We have been asking for this crossing for some time. Let us see a little more planning. I am reminded of the Papunya hospital which I have mentioned in the Senate before. A beautiful new hospital, or health centre as it was called, could not be used because there was no tank. We must not see this lack of planning which destroys any expenditure.
There seems to be a lack of balance. I quote now from the Commonwealth Government’s new works program as found in the Northern Territory budget. I appreciate that this is the first year that the Northern Territory has brought down its own budget. We commend the fact that this has happened. Obviously features in the budget are the result of planning over the last two years. As honourable senators will be aware, one does not just introduce major programs overnight. Let us look at the expenditure as shown in the Commonwealth Government’s new works program, Northern Territory Budget Paper No. 4. I shall compare the situation between Darwin and Alice Springs just to take the two extremities of the Northern Territory. In Darwin, $4.86m will be spent on education; in Alice Springs, nothing. For health, $ 1.38m will be provided for Darwin; Alice Springs, nil. The Department of the Northern Territory in its program appropriates $9.39m for Darwin and for Alice Springs $ 1.36m. The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, which is Senator Webster’s area, will spend $269,000 in Darwin and nothing in Alice Springs. Telecom Australia is a statutory body but nevertheless is under the control of the Government and it will spend $lm in Darwin and nothing in Alice Springs. In Darwin $210,000 is provided for Postal Commission activities and nothing in Alice Springs.
If we look at the total of these groups, we see presented an interesting picture. If we take the Darwin total of $20.64m and add to that the work of the Darwin Reconstruction Commission in the last year of its operation of $56.54m, we have a figure of $77. 18m. That figure compares with $6m for Alice Springs. Let us look at the population of these two centres. The population of Darwin is 47,000 and the population of Alice Springs is 14,000. I shall not run through the figures again. But honourable senators can see that a disproportionate amount is being spent in Darwin. Of course, I realise that there are reasons for some individual projects going ahead. For some years money will be spent in Alice Springs and not in Darwin and so on. The some proportion of the amount which I have mentioned here for new works applies to the repairs and maintenance program. This reinforces the concept of some differential- one could almost use the word discriminationbetween the Centre and the North. Another disturbing factor, if one pursues these figures a little further, is that Darwin and Alice Springs with 61 per cent of the population have 83 per cent of total expenditure. I do not think I need say more to reinforce my comment for the need for development to be balanced.
While I am on comparisons, perhaps we might look at the discrepancies which exist in the present Budget between the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory. I do not wish in any sense to create bad blood between these two territories. Enough has existed in the past. I have certainly spent much effort trying to break down the bad feeling. Nevertheless, I think a comparison must be made because it stands out so badly. Before I give the figures, I point out that I appreciate that Canberra has three levels of concern, that is the national level, the State level as one could call those functions, and the municipal or local level. But the Northern Territory has two levels. The Australian Capital Territory has the additional national level. When we look at a comparison between these two places we see a most disturbing trend towards discrimination. Unfortunately, it is against the Northern Territory. The indication quite clearly is that the Northern Territory is the poor relation. I shall give just one or two examples to explain what I am saying. I have tried to take these from the State-like functions of both territories and I have left out the national element. I ask honourable senators to remember that the population of the Australian Capital Territory is roughly 200,000. The population of the Northern Territory is roughly 100,000, so we are talking in terms of a one-to-two relationship. Of course, it is not quite as simple as that because the structure of the population of the Northern Territory is quite different, as any sociologist will indicate.
There is no doubt that the Australian Capital Territory has a higher percentage of public servants. I think it is fair comment that the Australian Capital Territory has a higher proportion of middle to upper middle salaried people. I do not think there is any doubt about that. There are fewer families in the Australian Capital Territory on the poverty line as Henderson indicated. I know that there is a high migrant population in the Australian Capital Territory but it is not as high as the migrant population in the Northern Territory. For the purposes of our discussion here, let us exclude the Aboriginal groups that live away from the main centres and concern ourselves only with those who live basically in the metropolitan or the urban areas. The first area- the one that has been criticised by some people- is the area of welfare services. In the Australian Capital Territory, $4.8m has been allocated for welfare services. In the Northern Territory, Sim has been allocated. Despite this difference in the structure of the population, despite the fact that the Australian Capital Territory has only twice as many people as the Northern Territory, nearly five times as much is allocated than there is to an area where there is a greater need. Let us look at some of the details of this.
An amount of $190,000 is allocated for the emergency home help service in the Australian Capital Territory. There is usually not much emergency home help needed in the Australian Capital Territory. There are not many part coloured families in the Northern Territory who have difficulty in adapting. There is not the same percentage of unemployed as there is in the Northern Territory. Yet the Australian Capital Territory is allocated $190,000 as against $15,000 for the Northern Territory. The allocations are almost ludicrous. There is an obvious disregard in this Budget for the special problems in the Northern Territory- the low income families that I have mentioned, the part Aboriginal families that I have mentioned and the families without support because there is a higher percentage of families without support in the Northern Territory than elsewhere. Even those families that are nuclear families with mother, father and children do not have the support usually of uncles, aunts and grandparents in times of stress. We know that perhaps while we are not as good at this sort of thing as the Chinese we tend when we have problems to run back home to get some help from our parents or to go to our siblings to get support from them. There are many more single parent families in the Northern Territory yet we have this ludicrous allocation of $190,000 for the Australian Capital Territory compared with $ 1 5,000 for the Northern Territory.
One extra comment I might make here is that the rates remission component set out in the Budget in respect of the Australian Capital Territory is $257,000. This is for pensioners who cannot pay their rates. One would assume that the percentage of pensioners in this situation in the Australian Capital Territory is not very high yet $257,000 is allocated for this. In the Northern Territory, nothing is allocated- not one dollar.
I move now to the libraries. I remind the Senate that Darwin is the centre for the library for the Northern Territory but it services the entire Territory. I think of the major centres and the smaller areas. In addition to dealing with the people in Darwin the Northern Territory library service covers Katherine, Tennant Creek, Alice Springs, Gove and Groote Eylandt- all of these, plus the outlying communities over a very large area are the responsibility of the Northern Territory library. The only additional library that can be commented on is the Darwin Community College Library, and that is most inadequate. It has not been established for long and it certainly has not a great many resources for lending. The small departmental libraries could hardly, I think in all fairness, be taken into account.
Let us look at the situation in the Australian Capital Territory. There is a good service at many branches and the Australian Capital Territory has to concern itself only with a comparatively small area. One could almost walk around in a day the area covered by the Canberra Public Library Service. There are mobile libraries and there are branches in each of the suburbs. In addition to this there is the Canberra College of Advanced Education, the Australian National University, the National Library and departmental libraries. Canberra is very well serviced for libraries. Yet the library allocation for the Northern Territory, with all of its wide area of responsibility, is $205,000. The amount allocated to the Australian Capital Territory is $500,000. That is simply to operate libraries in the Australian Capital Territory. Honourable senators will notice if they look further into the Budget Papers that there is an allocation of $13m for the National Library. Again, one does not criticise this. It is a good thing, but we remind ourselves that the people in the Australian Capital Territory have access to this wonderful institution.
– The library in Darwin has access to the National Library.
– It is not quite the same, I think, as the situation here where people can walk in through the front door and look up a book. If a person lives at Borroloola and wants a book out of the National Library it is not quite as easy as it is for a person in the Australian Capital Territory who can walk through the main door and pick one up. I think that to make the sort of comment that the honourable senator made by interjection indicates a lack of an appreciation of the problems of the people in outlying areas. Remember that Canberra is well established. It has been established for years. It has access to many libraries and it is a small area. Darwin has a terrific area to cover. The size of the Northern Territory will be known to people here. There is no need for me to start quantifying it. We know that the number of centres that exist in the Northern Territory all have to be serviced starting virtually from scratch with the terrific isolation problems of the Northern Territory.
I would just like to read from the report entitled Public Libraries in Australia. This is the report of the Committee of Inquiry into Public Libraries. Recommendation 5.62 reads:
The Committee recommends that:
In respect of library services for the Northern Territory the Commonwealth Government -
The Commonwealth Government, I emphasise- should ensure that:
This has not been done. The recommendation continues:
This has not been done. The books are still in Canberra. The recommendation continues:
There is little point in introducing a feasibility study at this stage when the books are in Canberra still waiting to be taken to the Territory because there is no building to put them in and the present Government has recently closed down the information service in the Northern Territory. I will just take another example. I am attempting here to pluck out various examples just to show the discrimination. I take the area of show societies. I remind the Senate that in the Northern Territory there are five show societies. There is one in the Australian Capital Territory. I repeat five in the Northern Territory and one in the Australian Capital Territory. The Northern Territory gets $10,000. The Australian Capital Territory gets $126,000. In addition to this, the Northern Territory operates through voluntary groups but the Australian Capital Territory has a paid trust to organise its showground- a paid trust, a fully paid chairman and members. When I questioned Australian Capital Territory people on this they made a claim that the grounds are used for many other things. One could almost be cynical about this and say: ‘Is there any showground in Australia that is not used for many other things?’ Certainly one could not suggest for a moment that the showground in Canberra would be used for any national things, that they would be State-like or municipal things.
Moving to the area of culture, let me look at assistance to the arts. In the Northern Territory assistance to the Arts Council has been listed as $55,000. Assistance to the Canberra Theatre Trust- just one part of the assistance program- is $199,000. If we add to it a sort of a morphous comment that was called ‘cultural activities’ and an allocation of $2 1 8,000 we have an approximate figure of $4 1 7,000. 1 call it approximate because it is very difficult to dig from the Budget the relevant items for the Australian Capital Territory. It is very difficult to pin down exactly where the money is being spent, and this does not include money that is being given to other national facilities like the School of Music, the Australian National University and other areas which have a cultural aspect to their functions. One cannot help but ask ‘is this fair?’ when one remembers the size of the Northern Territoryagain, one has to mention it- compared with the size of the Australian Capital Territory. We can think of the small centres in the Northern Territory compared with the one major centre in the Australian Capital Territory. We can think of the distance of the Northern Territory from the main centres of culture. We assume that they are the capital cities and the major urban areas. We can think of the size of the audience and the cultural isolation that people going to the Northern Territory have to suffer.
In the housing area, it causes a great deal of concern to the people of the Northern Territory that in the Australian Capital Territory one is able to get a loan of $20,000 to build a home, whereas in the Northern Territory one is able to get only $ 1 5,000. Surely nobody will suggest that it is any cheaper to build in the Northern Territory than in the Australian Capital Territory. The opposite is the case, of course. There is no shortage of funds in the Australia Capital Territory, but funds are short in the Northern Territory. The Minister was forced, if one can use that word, to put money into the Trust last year to try to balance it up and retain his credibility. The interest rates and the structure are a better proposition all round in the Australian Capital Territory than in the Northern Territory. I am not critical of the Australian Capital Territory getting these privileges. I am simply saying that what applies in the Australian Capital Territory should apply in the Northern Territory.
Bushfire control was one matter that interested me particularly. I asked many questions about it. It was very difficult in this area, as it was in some of the other areas of the Budget, to ascertain the exact costing of the difference between burning off and taking preventive fire measures. When I asked witnesses before the Estimates Committee, about this matter they seemed very coy about giving me any comments. I think it is well worth looking at as, perhaps, are the significant amounts listed in the Budget for horse paddocks in the Australian Capital Territory so that those people who wish to ride at the weekend can put their horses in paddocks. These sorts of facilities do not exist in the Northern Territory. I have taken only a few isolated examples. They are probably not the best examples, but they should be enough to cause some concern. If we take away the national aspect of which I spoke and come back to the State-like, municipal and local aspects, there is no justification whatsoever for this discrimination. I repeat that I certainly do not want to see the privileges taken away from the Australian Capital Territory; I want to see them extended into the Northern Territory.
We were reminded earlier that this is the first year of the Northern Territory Budget. It has been indicated already that major new works will proceed according to plan. The disturbing information in relation to this phrase ‘according to plan’- that was the phrase used- is that there are steep increases in rates for electricity, water, sewerage, et cetera, for people in the Northern Territory. Electricity revenue has jumped, according to Budget Paper No. 4, from $10m to $17m- a fair jump or, perhaps, an unfair jump but certainly a very large one. Ordinary rates revenue within the municipality has risen from $1.9m to $3.2m. Rents revenue has risen from $4m to $6. 3m. General revenue- a delightful term- has risen from nothing to $6m. There has been an increase of $6m in general revenue. Miscellaneous revenue, whatever that might mean, has risen from $4.5 m to $8m. It disturbs me unduly, particularly as one who was in the Public Service for some time, to find an item called ‘miscellaneous’ amounting to $8m. I like to pin down where the money is coming from and where it is going to. This is causing some concern for the people of the Northern Territory. They realise that under federation there are two alternatives: We pay for it or we go without. We are concerned about both situations.
We are conscious that the Minister for the Northern Territory has given an assurance publicly that special consideration will be given to the problems of the Northern Territory. I do not want to be unkind to the present Minister, but his rating at the last poll which was taken was 14 per cent. We have some cause for concern if people believe that his credibility is down to 1 4 per cent. Fourteen per cent of the people thought he was doing a reasonable job. We are concerned when he says that special consideration will be given. Many people suggest that his saying this does not make it so. It is fair to say that this Budget demonstrates the Government’s continued lack of real interest in the Northern Territory. Other speakers have dealt with specific aspects of the Northern Territory program. Senator Keeffe has dealt with Aborigines. Senator Grimes has looked at social services. If there is any message to be taken from the results of the elections held only a few weeks ago in which the CountryLiberal Party lost its leader, its deputy leader and three of its Cabinet members, it is that the Federal Government’s policies are not acceptable in the Northern Territory at the present time. Added to this must be the Legislative
Assembly’s own lack of achievement. I am not particularly critical of the Assembly for its lack of achievement. I think it was battling uphill against opposition from the Federal Government.
I call on the Government to think about the Northern Territory, our northern gateway; to think about the problems of defence in the Northern Territory; to think about the pastoral industry; and to think of tourism, which could be one of the greatest money spinners in the Northern Territory and which could return a tremendous amount to the Federal Budget. I ask the Government to think about the people in the Northern Territory and not just the figures we juggle about so conveniently. Some honourable senators on the other side are more adept at juggling the figures that some of us on this side are. Let us see balanced development. I call on the Government to work with the Legislative Assembly. It does not matter what its political colour is. At the moment it is the same colour as the present Government, so let them work together. But if the political colour of the Legislative Assembly changes, let the Government still work with it to achieve a realisation of the potential of our great north. All that needs to be done is to inject some finance. All that is needed is a little government expenditure to get the economy of the Northern Territory moving and to ease unemployment. I paraphrase one of the comments used in the election campaign: ‘This is a wonderful Territory; let us make it work ‘.
-I rise to support the motion ‘That the Senate take note of the Budget Papers’. I do so with a certain amount of pride. This has been one of the best Budgets brought down for some considerable time. When the Government took over in 1975 we were heading for a deficit of $5,000m. The Government in its first eight months reduced that to $3, 585m, then to $2, 700m, and then to a proposed deficit of about $2,200m this year. At the same time, it has made a considerable reduction in the tax burden of the ordinary Australian people. It has done so in such a way that from now on no government can rely on heavy inflation to fill its coffers; it will have to legislate deliberately so that people can see that it is legislating to increase taxation. Be that as it may, I wish to speak this evening on the energy aspects of the Budget.
I want to put together and put on record a few thoughts which I have expressed both inside and outside this chamber over a period of time on my concern at the energy crisis, as I see it, facing Australia and, indeed, the world. Although it caused immense problems world-wide, we owe a tremendous debt to the Arab states for holding the world to ransom with regard to energy in 1973. It was not until they closed their valves and literally put their cash registers into high gear that the world became aware of the finite nature of our energy resources. The fossil fuels on which the industrialised countries hitherto have relied are finite. What is more, the cost of extracting them is becoming higher every year. Unfortunately the major industrialised nations have built their industrial growth and consequently their economic growth on the concept of a plentiful supply of cheap fuel based primarily on petroleum derivatives. That choice is fast ceasing to be available to us. We are all realising it.
At the same time as our options are closing, the lesser developed countries are realising how valuable their energy resources are. They are making the consumer countries pay a more equitable price for these resources. Simultaneously, there is a realisation of the great gulf between their living standards and ours and a realisation that that gulf should be bridged, and bridged soon. In order to raise the living standards of a great mass of the world ‘s population who live in either poverty or relative deprivation it will be necessary to provide for a greatly expanded energy use either by or on behalf of these people to meet their need for food, clothing, warmth, transport and employment. To illustrate the point, United Nations’ statistics indicate that the total world energy consumption was of the order of 7.9 thousand million tonnes of coal equivalent.
Some relevant figures for 1973 of the per capita consumption of coal in kilograms of coal equivalent are as follows: World average, 2,074; developed countries, 6,531; developing countries, 388; United States of America, 11,887; Australia, 6,064; United Kingdom, 5,558; European Economic Community, 5,000; Western Europe, 4,339. An increase in the world per capita energy consumption to bring it to a standard equivalent to that of the EEC would entail a 2.4-fold increase in the world energy consumption at 1973 levels. Therefore, quite obviously, to raise the standard of living of the developing countries would bring increasing pressures to bear on the world’s energy resources. Please remember that this is only to bring it to a standard below that which Australia already enjoys.
That means that there is a need for three things, that is, for expanded exploration for and complete recovery of our fossil fuels, for conservation in our present usage of energy resources and for more research into and use made of alternative energy resources. Australia’s position is important because it is a net exporter of energy. In spite of the increase in the price of petroleum products resulting from the 1973 oil price increases we had a net export balance of about $200m in 1974, resulting from our coal exports, which offset the petroleum imports. The Right Honourable J. D. Anthony, Minister for National Resources, said when addressing the conference of the Australian and New Zealand Association for the Advancement of Science on 2 September:
Dwindling supplies of oil and the transition away from oil in major energy consuming economies will ensure growing markets for the energy resources, surplus to Australia’s forecast needs- steaming and coking coal, liquid and natural gas and uranium. Therefore in the formulation of our international energy policies, Australia must strike an appropriate balance between its own energy interests and its responsibilities to contribute an adequate and stable supply of energy raw materials to other countries.
I return to the first of the three points that I have raised, that is, the need for expanded exploration for and complete recovery of our fossil fuels. Oil supplies 45 per cent of the world’s energy needs and 47 per cent of Australia ‘s energy needs. In 1976 Australia consumed 222 million barrels or 28 million tonnes of petroleum products. Of that 65.5 per cent came from locally produced crude. The Esso-BHP fields in the Bass Strait provided 92 per cent of that amount. Both the Moonie and Barrow Island oil fields have declining outputs. The Bass Strait field is expected to start to decline in output by about 1981-82. Australia thus faces serious problems arising from the gradual exhaustion of its presently known crude oil reserves. Our self-sufficiency is expected to decline to around 50 per cent by 1979-80 and our import bill is expected to reach almost $2,000m at that time in 1977 prices. It will further decline to about 30 per cent in 1985 and our import bill will rise further to approximately $3,000m in 1977 prices.
This decreasing supply of domestic crude oil is not only expensive but also leaves Australia in a vulnerable position in relation to any oil embargoes that may be imposed by any of our suppliers. Further, irrespective of any oil discoveries that may be made in Australia in the intervening period, it is unlikely that any major alterations could be made to those predicted shortfalls due to the lag time involved in bringing newly discovered fields into production. So, whether we like it or not, we will be still vulnerable to withholding actions and price increases by our suppliers. In recognition of the insecurity of our supplies of crude oil, the Government announced in this Budget a crude oil policy. The main objectives of it are, firstly, to encourage greater oil exploration and development; secondly, effectively to increase the amount of oil available from presently known fields; thirdly, to encourage greater economies in energy usage and to encourage people to use other fuels in preference to oil; and fourthly, to foster a new intensive search for alternatives to oil.
The Government has decided to implement a scheme which will take the price of indigenous crude oil from presently known fields in the direction of import parity. For some years now our price for petroleum products has been unrealistic. We have consequently been using these products with no thought for tomorrow. The situation obviously could not last and new discoveries had to be made. The Treasurer (Mr Lynch) said in his Budget Speech:
In partial recognition of these truths, the previous Government announced, and we have maintained, a policy applying import parity prices to oil discovered after 14 September 1975.
With our greater dependence on overseas crude, the price to our consumers of petroleum products was set for a dramatic rise in the near future. The Government therefore decided to move prices gradually to a more realistic level. This approach allows us to avoid the large, abrupt and predictable rise which would inevitably occur. It will hopefully mean that people will become more energy conservation conscious right now. It will be implemented in the manner announced in the Budget Speech, which was as follows: Firstly, the amount of oil or fuel to be sold at import parity prices in the first year will be 10 per cent or 6 million barrels per annum, whichever is greater. In the three subsequent years the corresponding proportions will be 20 per cent, 35 per cent and 50 per cent. There is to be an orderly transition to full import parity price as soon as possible thereafter. Secondly, there is an increase in the production levy on crude oil from $2 to $3 per barrel. Thirdly, there is to be consideration of whether the levy should be replaced by a resources tax. Fourthly, the duty on petroleum products is to be increased by 0.25c per litre or 1.13c per gallon. Fifthly, the decisions are estimated to result in an increase in the retail prices of about 2.5c per litre or about 1 lc per gallon in 1977-78. Lastly, there is to be a pricing policy that will encourage new exploration and ensure full recovery of known deposits.
That will lead to a price rise of about 2.5c per litre. On that basis our capital city prices for regular petrol will rise to about 19c or 20c per litre, which is still less than most motorists pay overseas. For example, in New Zealand petrol is about 25c per litre. In Germany, Sweden and
Britain it is over 30c per litre. In Japan it is 38c per litre and in France it is 39c per litre. My only regret is that the Government has not used this opportunity to bring in a fuel equalisation scheme. The prices I have quoted for petrol overseas are already being paid in the western areas of our nation. I think the Government missed a golden opportunity when it was re-pricing our oil system to bring about some parity so that the people in the inland areas of our country would not be nearly as disadvantaged as they are today. The new arrangement will effectively increase the amount of oil available from presently known fields. Over 400 million barrels of oil or two years of consumption are locked up in fields from which it cannot be economically extracted at current prices. We obviously cannot afford to leave this oil in the ground.
With regard to coal, Australia ‘s in situ reserves of black coal, most of which is in New South Wales and my home State of Queensland, are estimated to be not less than 220,000 million tonnes. Saleable coal is estimated to be about half this amount. The reserves which have been adequately delineated by drilling and which are considered to be economically recoverable with current technology amount to about 14,000 million tonnes after allowance has been made for the inevitable washing process. This is sufficient for more than 200 years consumption at our present rate. Approximately 65 million tonnes of black coal were produced in the calendar year 1975. However, comparatively little research has been done into our coal industry. In recognition of this as I mentioned in the debate on the coal export levy legislation last week the Government in the Budget announced a levy of 5c per tonne on coal production in Australia in the next three years to finance coal research. These funds will enable the Government to supplement and co-ordinate the existing research efforts, particularly those undertaken by the Commonwealth through the very valuable research activities of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation.
In my speech last week I mentioned some of the peculiar problems with mining underground seams below the 600 foot level in the Bowen basin and the cause of the problems. Indeed, safety is involved. CSIRO already has had a look at it, I hope that with the money raised by this 5c per tonne levy, more can be done towards overcoming this problem. The second point that I raised was conservation in our present usage of our energy resources. We would have to go down in history as one ofthe most wasteful generations on earth as far as our energy resources are concerned, especially so far as the fossil fuels are concerned and in our use of petroleum products, in particular.
I refer again to the United Nations figures on coal equivalent of energy usage. Honourable senators will realise that the developing countries have a long way to go to reach our standard of living. Then, for them to reach a standard lower than ours but comparable with the European Economic Community will require a vast increase in the consumption of world energy. I raise the question: Can the world afford to have countries such as Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States of America living with such high standards? It is not really good politics for a government to go out and fight any election by suggesting to the electors that their standard of living is too high and that they should reduce it. However, I believe that governments can encourage people to maintain that standard of living but with much less energy requirement.
In Australia it has been estimated that transport consumes 25 per cent of our total energy requirement. Transport also consumes about 60 per cent of petroleum products. Of the petroleum energy used by transport, motor vehicles of all types use 79 per cent; rail, 8 per cent; sea, 8 per cent; and air, 5 per cent. So, it is not hard to see where conservation should begin. People should be encouraged to purchase the type of vehicle that they require, not necessarily what the glossy advertisement tells them they should have. For people who are continually travelling long distances, a case can be made for the use of the under-stressed six or small V8 engine. However, the use of such vehicles for normal commuting social and leisure activities will soon be very hard to justify. I think that quite a few people would be surprised at the versatility, the flexibility and the economy of fourcylinder engines that are now available in motor vehicles.
I think that with present technologies more use should be made of the electric vehicle. It should be encouraged, especially in cities and large provincial towns where parking lots, parking stations and, indeed, parking meters can be so designed that the car can be plugged in and the battery topped up. I understand that right now they have been developed to a stage where they have a range of approximately 50 kilometres. Small delivery vans also should be electric. In the United Kingdom for about 20 years now, bread and milk have been delivered around the major cities in electric vehicles. This, of course, as well as saving our portable fuels would do a tremendous amount towards reducing the pollution we have in our inner city areas. Then, maybe we will be able to ease up on Australian Design Rule 27A. I think governments should carefully consider solutions by motor vehicle manufacturers to particular guidelines laid down for reducing pollution, especially when, they come up with solutions as they have done to circumvent Australian Design Rule 27A. Crazy as it may seem, that solution actually increases fuel consumption and means a loss of power.
I believe that there are engines on the market that can meet Australian Design Rule 27a requirements without the suffocating plumbing that has been put on the vehicles by our major manufacturers. In the knowledge that a diesel engine can meet Australian Design Rule 27a requirements, without the suffocating plumbing that is necessary on a petrol engine, and because of the apparent reluctance of Australian manufacturers to be as innovative as their overseas counterparts, I cannot see why diesel cars cannot be allowed into Australia tariff free and quota free. I also find it ridiculous that electric vehicles attract full tariff when there is not an equivalent Australian manufacturer to protect.
Therefore, whereas I wholeheartedly agree with the Federal Government’s new crude oil pricing policy, there is still much that it can do by way of tariff reduction to encourage development of cleaner and more efficient engines, especially when such engines are available overseas. At the same time, it can encourage better technical development and competition in our over-protected local motor vehicle manufacturing industry. Much has been said about shoddy workmanship by Australian motor vehicle manufacturers. Indeed, there is much to be said but I think the manufacturers themselves have a lot to answer for in the type of vehicle that they have dished up to the Australian public for a long time. I once heard a very disgruntled man stand beside his new vehicle which was obviously a lemon. A friend asked him: ‘What model is it?’ He said: ‘It is not a model; it is just a horrible example’. So, we have Australian manufactured vehicles that are not of good design. They are not made for the tropics. Much has been said about the glass areas. One needs to have good visibility in a car but in the tropics that glass area lets in a tremendous amount of sun. I do not know how much vision we want. A man can drive a Centurion tank while looking out of just one little slit. He does not seem to have too many collisions although it must be said that there is nothing bigger that he has to worry about other than a locomotive.
– He would have a slight disadvantage in traffic.
– I think the traffic might have the slight disadvantage. There is only so much you can see out of any area of glass. We have the ridiculous situation where the turret of the vehicle is such that if the sun is directly above the vehicle it shines in all around the car because of its shape. Thus, we have to put air conditioning in our vehicles to make them at least comfortable in the tropics. The manufacturers of Australian designed cars have a lot to answer for. They have gone for the big fuel consuming engines. Yet, on the Continent, they have vehicles that could pace our vehicles speed wise, are better at road holding and burn only a fraction of the fuel. Yet, for some unknown reason to protect our over-protected industry, the Government sees fit to impose heavy tariffs. So, we have the crazy situation, on the one hand, where we are introducing legislation to conserve fuel and then, on the other hand, we are doing everything in the world to prevent more fuel economy and more efficient vehicles coming in.
There also has to be what I would call a heavy right foot syndrome education program. The increased price of petrol undoubtedly will help. Where I live, I constantly have to listen to the squeal of tyres at the bottom of the street and the wide open throttle roar of various vehicles as their drivers point them- I say ‘point them’ because there is no way in the world one could construe this action as driving- past my place until a squeal of brakes announces the fact that they have reached the next major intersection. This type of behaviour should result in immediate prosecution and the lifting of a licence, not because of the affront to my intolerant 41 -year-old ears but because of the obvious criminal waste of a sparse fuel resource. Consider the absurdity of the situation. You force the vehicle around a corner to such an extent that centrifugal force overcomes the friction between the tyre and the road; you roar through the gears and come to a screaming halt at the next intersection.
To add folly to absurdity, this type of action is often undertaken by one person, or maybe two people, behind a high-powered six-cylinder or V8 car. In this type of manoeuvre you cannot possibly burn all the fuel that you pour through the engine. So there you have it: Excess fuel burned, very little time saved, a lot of people annoyed, unburnt fuel wasted and poured through the exhaust to pollute the atmosphere.
You certainly waste more fuel doing that than if you exceed the speed limit by a few kilometres per hour, yet the authorities seem to find it far easier to sit behind the little electronic box under a shady tree and catch you out in that way.
In recent years much stress has been placed on defensive driving as a means of accident prevention and I wholeheartedly support this concept. For some time I have given it another name, and it is generally accepted also as a means of saving fuel, especially in towns and cities. I simply call it reading the traffic’. Briefly, it means observing the traffic flow, traffic signs, signals and road conditions well ahead of your vehicle. This should prevent your frequently making stops and starts. Instead, you keep your vehicle moving smoothly and therefore use less fuel.
State and local authorities also have a considerable part to play and, indeed, have a lot to answer for. The most obvious instance, I suppose, is where multiple traffic lights are installed. They should be synchronised and, where a single intersection is so equipped, the lights should be so controlled by road sensors that the traffic considered to be on the main road is not being held up by a red light when there is no traffic crossing a particular intersection.
I also consider that priority roads should be established, so indicated, and protected by ‘give way’ signs against the cross traffic. This would, hopefully, do away with most stop signs and mean that when there was no traffic on the priority road the cross traffic could move through without necessarily stopping. It would also obviate the crazy situation that you now have where a car will stop to give right of way to a car already stopped at a ‘give way’ sign, not knowing that the ‘give way’ sign is against the other vehicle. Hopefully, it will also see a downturn in the importance of the right of way rule. In short, road traffic signs and signals should be so placed as to give the maximum traffic flow to the greatest number of vehicles and, in any case, to avoid unnecessarily impeding the flow of vehicular traffic.
I believe that rail and sea are going to play an increasing part in long distance transportation, if for no other reason than their efficient use of fuel. Our railways are government-owned, and likely to continue to be, but, as is happening already, the railways and shipping companies will carry the freight from point A to point B, and private enterprise will collect and distribute it at either terminal. This system caused quite a trauma when it was introduced in my own State but it actually meant an increase in rail traffic. The goods to be carried were collected by private enterprise and packed in wagons, and the train was assembled and went on its way. We found that more and more people used this means of transport in preference to road transport.
If an alternative fuel supply is not found, and conservation and more efficient use of fuel are not implemented to an adequate degree, not only will there be serious curtailment of the use of long distance transportation, but use of the humble caravan might also have to be restricted. Before this happens, however, the price of fuel will rise substantially, with a resultant curbing of usage.
In fuel efficiency, air transport is the one bright spot on the horizon. As noise and pollution have been reduced with the development of the fan jet, more efficient burner cans and a higher bypass ratio, thrust has been increased and fuel consumption decreased. I believe that, with further developments in technology, especially with regard to metallurgy, it will be possible to increase also internal temperatures, and with it efficiency. This will have importance for the further development of engines such as the Olympus, which powers the Concorde, and the development of any further supersonic transports.
In the home and in the factory substantial common-sense savings can be achieved without a reduction in either efficiency or living standards. Are unused lights turned off? Does the thermostat on your iron work? When your vegetables are boiled, do you turn the control back so that there is just enough heat to keep the pot boiling? If you have a pressure cooker, do you use it at every opportunity? If you have a fry pan, do you use it? Does the thermostat on your hot water system work? At what temperature is it set? If it needs replacing, have you thought of a solar hot water system?
The manufacturer should also consider whether he needs that large boiler, really needs steam at all those points throughout the plant. There is already enough knowledge to permit homes, office blocks and factories to be so built, especially in the tropics, as to make greater use of solar power in order to supplement energy requirements. This would mean quite a saving over a 12 month period. Governments could take a lead in this matter when considering future building plans. This would give the private sector encouragement to be more innovative, and the more it could be done the more the cost would come down. The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation has accumulated much data on the solar heating of domestic and commercial water supplies, as well as the domestic and commercial heating and cooling of buildings, albeit in a supplementary fashion, but this all adds to the total saving in power usage.
This brings me to my last point, the need for more research on, and greater use of, alternative energy sources, such as has been advocated by the environmental lobby in regard to the wider use of solar and wind power. Solar power, of course, covers a wide spectrum. It is necessary for the growth of plants and trees and for the heating of land and sea, which in turn causes the convection currents that produce wind and ocean currents. However, I think that most people, when they think of solar power think of it as an alternative form of electricity generation. Australia, as I have indicated, has for some years been investing in solar research and in this endeavour is being joined by more and more countries; indeed, there is a constant interchange of ideas. I understand that France will spend $30m in the field this year, that Japan has pledged $100m a year from now until the year 2000 and that the United States, although spending $300m this year, estimates that by the year 2000 only 7 per cent or 8 per cent of its total energy requirement will be met by solar power. That country is looking to the CSIRO in Melbourne for some of its expertise, and vice versa, but to believe that solar power will in the near future take over as a major source of power generation is a mere pipe dream. We must accept a lead time of at least 25 to 30 years before major innovations can be expected.
This leaves us with what is becoming one of the most emotive subjects of our time, the nuclear power cycle and the mining and exportation of uranium. A maximum effort must be made to conserve our portable fuels for transport. Where electricity can be used, for example in cars, trains, trams and trolley buses, it should be used, so that our liquid fuels will be conserved. It is of the utmost folly to think that crude or any sort of oil should be used for the generation of steam for electricity. We should use for power generation either coal-fired boilers or nuclear reactors. When we consider the problems of the developing countries, their need for an energy source and their lack of fossil fuels, nuclear power generation does make sense. The previous speaker, Senator Robertson, mentioned the problems-indeed, there are many problems -of the Northern Territory as an emerging State; but one thing that will help get the Northern Territory on its feet is its vast uranium resources and the mining of them in the next few years. That will create great impetus. It will provide jobs. It will provide royalties not only to the emerging State Government but also to the Aborigines on the tribal lands adjacent to the mining establishments.
We have had 2 1 years of completely safe nuclear power generation. As at 1 August there were 184 nuclear power generators operating, 204 being built, 102 ordered and 291 planned. At present there is no alternative for the future but for us to go nuclear. I see no reason whatsoever for a moratorium. Indeed, a three-year moratorium is built in because that is the lead time before any of the mines can produce yellowcake. I see no reason for a referendum. Governments are elected to govern, and this Government has taken a decision after one of the most intense inquiries ever conducted into an industry. The Government took up almost all the recommendations made by Mr Justice Fox, and I see no reason whatsoever for a referendum. We do not have a referendum on the opening of a new coal mine; we do not have a referendum on whether to drill for oil. I was quite upset on the weekend to hear the President of the Australian Labor Party and the Australian Council of Trade Unions talking about bloodshed in the streets if there is no referendum. That was a most inciting and irresponsible remark from a man in his position, a man who has not yet conducted a poll amongst his own supporters to see what they think about uranium mining.
We have a tremendous responsibility. We are a nation of ‘haves’ amongst nations of ‘havenots’. We are a developed country amongst developing countries. We do have an energy surplus, and with that energy surplus comes a tremendous responsibility. Therefore, recognising future world needs and our own needs as well as our own reserves, in the formulation of its international energy policy Australia must strike an appropriate balance between its own energy interests and its responsibility to contribute to an adequate and stable supply of energy raw materials for other countries. I have tried to point out the situation facing Australia in the immediate future with regard to our responsibilities to ourselves and to the rest of the world. I also have mentioned our responsibility to conserve fuel, and that is the role of both the individual and industry as well as the role of government.
I have not mentioned alternative fuels, but needless to say investigation into their use must play an increasing part in our research programs. I have indicated that that is the Government’s intention- the use of ethanol and methanol, to mention two, being high on the list. Both, although not quite able to power successfully the internal combustion engine without some modification, could be mixed with petroleum products up to a certain ratio. They also could be investigated as fuels for external combustion engines, and I think especially of the work done by Mr Pritchard in Victoria. The country one day might owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to that man’s engineering expertise and the work he has done, whereby we can combust almost any of these fuels externally and completely cleanly, with no resultant pollutants. These fuels might, and I believe can even now, fuel internal combustion turbine-type engines. Hydro-electric power, because of our large land mass and relatively sparse high rainfall areas, is being used as a supplementary source of energy. Because of the large capital works involved, it usually is associated with irrigation and water supply projects or flood control measures. Nevertheless, it will always be valuable as a supplementary source of energy.
To sum up, although our present energy situation is not an emergency one, and it is difficult to convince anyone that it will be so in the future, the Government must encourage more efficient use of reserves and energy conservation. To that end, a National Energy Advisory Committee has been set up under the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr Anthony). Australia’s energy resources should be explored and developed to provide for our own needs and to meet the responsibility of assisting to meet other countries’ needs. More research should be done on alternative portable fuels, conversion of coal, and all aspects of nuclear power. Above all, conservation and more efficient usage of energy must start right now.
– I listened carefully to Senator Collard ‘s speech. I agreed with a large portion of it, especially when he put a case for the use of alternative forms of energy, a reduction of impact upon the environment, and the improvement of the quality of our life, with less dependence upon fuels which damage and pollute the atmosphere upon which we depend. I agreed with most of the points that he put forward, with the exception of that part of his speech in which he put a case for the immediate development and exploitation of our uranium resources. Those of us who had an opportunity to watch Monday Conference last night saw and heard a debate in considerable depth which would have given us cause to pause before supporting too strongly the development of our uranium resources- not so much because of the by-products of use for peaceful purposes but because of the danger of proliferation of nuclear weapons. We cannot deal lightly with the problem, and for that reason it is necessary to support a moratorium to allow us to become more fully informed. The information that emerged from last night’s Monday Conference appeared to be that most advanced nations are now considering a moratorium. There seems to have been a relaxation of their desire to accelerate the use of nuclear energy. However, I thought that Senator Collard ‘s references to the means by which we could reduce our energy use and conserve our energy resources were well thought out.
Senator Collard ‘s speech was much more constructive and much more relevant than that made by Senator Bonner, and I cannot make a contribution to this debate without referring to what Senator Bonner said. He took Opposition senators to task for not being present in the chamber. He considered that to be a lapse on our part. I remind Senator Bonner that it is the responsibility of the Government to keep the House. I also remind him that most honourable senators are engaged in work outside this chamber on a variety of committees and it does him no credit to refer to the absence of any honourable senator, knowing as he does that honourable senators are fully engaged in important work outside the chamber, whether it be on party committees or parliamentary committees or interviewing constituents. I say to Senator Bonner and to every other honourable senator that any time they wish to refer to the absence of honourable senators they will be reminded of the state of the House and a quorum will be called. The Opposition has taken a view and a position of co-operation with the Government to allow the business to flow smoothly through this place. I suggest to those honourable senators on the Government side who have some influence on Senator Bonner that he ought to be reminded that he will bring us into a state of no cooperation if he continues with the remarks that he has made.
Senator Bonner was quite unfair when he made a considerable number of disparaging references to the efforts of the Labor Whitlam Government, especially the support that it gave to the Aboriginal people. He referred to the 23 years- that blissful period or period of the pastfor which he pined of the previous LiberalCountry Party government. As an Aboriginal he ought not to need reminding of how little was done to improve the conditions of his race. Without in any way taking away credit from Mr Wentworth whose portfolio in the previous
Liberal-National Country Party government covered the responsibility for Aboriginal affairs, it was a Labor government that created the Department of Aboriginal Affairs. It was the Labor Government that began spending large sums of money to improve the position of Aborigines in the community. It suffered some criticism in that it spent too much too fast. But it believed that a race of people which had been discriminated against for so long should be discriminated for. No one should take away the credit for the work well done from those Ministers who were responsible for Aboriginal affairs in the Labor Government. We trust that the Government is carrying on -
– Well done? It was absurd. Turtle farming is a chief instance.
- Senator Wright does not know what he is talking about.
– I thank honourable senators for their assistance at this late hour. I may say to Senator Wright that that was an aberration. I was one of several people who drew attention to that problem. It must be recalled that the turtle farming project was commenced under the auspices of the Council for Aboriginal Affairs. It was commenced during the period of the previous Liberal-National Country Party Government and we inherited it. We suffered as a consequence from the failures of that project. I might say that unless something is done about this project, the present Government also will suffer some criticism because of it. Senator Bonner did himself no credit by making the emotive speech he made tonight. If he continues to insult members of the Opposition in the way that he did tonight he will be very much on his own. We are not prepared to take that sort of insult from him in the future.
I participate in the Budget debate tonight at this late hour for the obvious reason that Whips must often take a slot in the speaking order at a late hour in order to prepare the program for the next day. I take the opportunity to bring to the attention of the Senate a matter which I as a Queenslander consider to be of grave concern. I refer to the recent severe restrictions of certain civil liberties in Queensland. I can do no better than read from an editorial in the Melbourne Age today. I beg your indulgence, Mr President, to read the editorial which is headed, ‘It’s no joke in Queensland.’ I ask Senator Wright to note that headline.
– Which newspaper are your referring to?
– I am referring to today’s Melbourne Age. The editorial is saying that what is happening in Queensland is no longer a joke and it cannot be confined to Queensland and to Queensland alone. The editorial commences:
Mr Bjelke-Petersen, customarily a figure of fun in the sophisticated south, is proving once more that he really is no laughing matter. The man, and through him the State he controls, are easy targets for throw-away lines welcome to Queensland and the Ninteenth Century. But while Queensland is far away and Mr Bjelke-Petersen wields no practical power in the rest of Australia, Bjelke-Petersen principles involved in his latest law-and-order campaign demand wider consideration. The Queensland Government is inexorably limiting the ability (and thereby the right) to dissent. In one particular field it is giving meaning to the radicals’ catch-cry of ‘police State’.
The Government has altered the Traffic Act concerning appeals against refusals by the police superintendent to issue permits to hold a march. Under the old regulations, appeals were made to a justice or magistrate, whose decision was final. Now appeals go to the Commissioner of Police. Of course the police have a role in deciding on the advisability of demonstrations: they are charged with maintaining order; they must consider factors ranging from the disruption of traffic to the risk of violence. But the system of appeals against the police being heard by police is wholly unsatisfactory, especially when the police chiefs admit they have long been lobbying for a ban on protest marches.
The right to peaceful dissent has only been won after a long, bitter and bloody struggle. It is a right which is particularly needed in Queensland where the gerrymander is alive and well, and where representative democracy is sorely wounded. In the last election the National Party gained 27.9 per cent of the vote and 39 seats; Labor (which admittedly contested many more electorates) won 36 per cent of the vote and 1 1 seats. The Government frequently turns parliamentary proceedings into a sham, gagging debate and stilling criticism. Little wonder then that many people feel they must be their own representatives- in the streets.
– What a lot of garbage.
– Why don’t you go back to where you came from? You are coming through 100 per cent proof.
– I came from Tasmania which regrettably is the same State from which the honourable senator comes.
– You are coming through like something from a brewery.
– I will continue to read from the editorial:
There has been vigorous opposition in Queensland to the limiting of dissent- and not just from students and the Left. The Roman Catholic Archbishop, the Anglican Dean and Protestant leaders have expressed disquiet. Mr BjelkePetersen, with an eye on the coming State election and a conspiracy theory for every occasion, has accused them of being manipulated into supporting communists and radicals. Rubbish! The churchmen are seeking to protect a legitimate right. It may be argued that any demonstration, however peaceful the intentions of the majority carries the risk of some disorder. A balanced, civilised society must be prepared to accept a tolerable risk, But in Queensland , with avenues literally blocked to those who want to march in peace, resulting frustration might indeed lead to violence in the streets. Mr Bjelke-Petersen would inevitably be the first person to condemn such happenings. But he would be criticising what would largely be his own handiwork.
I recommend that editorial, in spite of what Senator Webster said. He said that it is a lot of garbage.
– Too aged.
– You are too aged. Why do you not go back to where you come from?
– He is the hat trick man, the geri-hat trick.
– Order! Senator Georges has the call and is making his speech. You can make yours later, Senator Grimes.
Senator Grimes- With due respect, I was not the only one interjecting, Mr President.
– I know. I have called the Senate to order.
-Perhaps if I did not pause so long interjections would not run on as they have.
– You are doing very well. I should be grateful if you would keep going.
– Order! Honourable senators, it is impossible to have debate in a chamber such as ours unless you permit an honourable senator to make his speech. You will have your opportunity to make your speeches in due time. Senator Georges now has the call.
– I thank you for your protection, Mr President. Essentially, what comes out of the editorial is this: In Queensland we have reached a situation in which the State Government is not responsive to the will of the people. Certain figures were given in that editorial which indicate that a party can become the government on a minority vote. I think what needs to be done in Queensland is, firstly, to correct the voting system which allows that to happen. I do not think it should rest in the hands of a political party to influence a redistribution, whether it be the Australian Labor Party, the Australia Party, the National Party or the Liberal Party. They ought not to have any influence on a subsequent redistribution or on the placing of boundaries. In one case such a system allowed one party to remain in government for some 20 years, and a subsequent party to be still in government after 23 years.
If we are to correct the situation which has arisen in Queensland what is needed is a fair electoral system. I must admit that in seeking a solution for Queensland’s problem I have been attracted to the electoral methods in Tasmania. I do not quite understand what the Hare-Clarke system is about but I shall endeavour to get as much information as possible. I suggest that this is the only solution that is available to Queensland. The recent redistribution in Queensland made the situation even worse. In the coming State elections in Queensland, which will be held on 12 November, the Australian Labor Party will need almost 60 per cent of the vote to gain government. The Liberal Party was sadly disadvantaged in the redistribution and is likely to become the minority party. By an unfair balance of electors within zones and electorates the National Party, with a minority vote, might become the government in its own right. To me that is a travesty of justice, a travesty of democracy, which leads to the very thing about which churchmen in Queensland are protesting.
– Why do you not address the Senate on some Commonwealth matter?
– Why do you not go back to where you came from?
– If that is not a national matter, what did Petersen do to this Government?
– That is a State matter.
– He aborted this chamber and you know it. He is very active.
– Order! Senator Georges has the call.
-How can I proceed, Mr President, without responding to what Senator Wright has said? How can I manage if he is going to provoke the interjections he has provoked? Surely he understands what a Budget debate is all about; surely he understands that this is a States House, and surely he understands that I represent the State of Queensland. He says time and time again that this is not a House of review. It has not evolved into a House of review- a House in a bicameral system- it is a States House. Senator Wright has said this time and time again. In fact, in the recent referendum he campaigned heavily on the basis that this was a States House. Yet at this moment, during a Budget debate, he denies me the right to raise a State matter. How can he, as an Australian living in Tasmania, separate himself from the problems which I face as an Australian living in Queensland? The deprivation of civil rights which we suffer in Queensland affects him in Tasmania. The laws which the Queensland Government enacts are laws which we would not permit. This very regulation which limited the rights of people in Queensland is a regulation which Senator Wright, as a member of the Senate Standing Committee on Regulations and Ordinances, would throw out.
– I shall pass on to the Legislative Council of Tasmania your compliments.
– I am not familiar with the upper House in Tasmania, but if it is of the complexion of the upper House in New South Wales and of the upper House which was once in Queensland, it is something which has to be reformed. I do not doubt that Senator Wright is very active.
– The Legislative Council is elected on adult franchise.
-Then it is about time it was changed. The honourable senator merely supports my argument. If I may be permitted to continue to speak on State matters, I should like to refer the Senate to the Courier-Mail of today, in which church leaders issued a joint statement which is signed by the Anglican Archbishop of Brisbane, Archbishop Felix Arnott; the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Brisbane, Archbishop Francis Rush; the Lutheran Church President, the Reverend R. J. Mayer, and the Queensland Council of Churches President, the Reverend A. R. Gresham. The statement reads:
Last Friday the Uniting Church Synod strongly supported a resolution calling on the State Government to change the existing law on street marches. It said the law was causing division with the community. Mr Bjelke-Petersen replied that the Government had no intention of changing its policy. He claimed some churchmen were being manipulated into supporting communists and radicals.
One would expect that kind of statement from the Minister for Science, Senator Webster. It is coincidental, I suppose, that he belongs to the same Party as Mr Bjelke-Petersen.
– I am proud of it, not like some others.
– I do not doubt that on the first opportunity he would make the same statement. Mr Bjelke-Petersen stated -
– The streets were meant for citizens-
– Are they not citizens, Senator?
– Citizens who interfere -
– I was about to say-
– Order! This sort of persistent interjection when an honourable senator is making his speech is very much out of order. The persistent interjections will have to stop. I call Senator Georges to carry on with his speech.
– I was saying that the sort of statement which Mr Bjelke-Petersen has made would be the sort of statement which Senator Webster would possibly make on the first opportunity that presents itself to him. The newspaper article reported Mr Bjelke-Petersen to have continued:
If churches wanted to consort with athiests and Communists, dedicated to the elimination of religion, that was their problem.
Referring to the statement by the churchmen, the article continued:
The statement said: ‘Debate marred by intemperate language contributes nothing to a meeting of minds: it only increases division.
– Order! It being 10.30 p.m., in conformity with the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate, I formally put the question:
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– Despite the fact that it is now close to 12 months since a decision was made in relation to ending sand mining on Fraser Island, several aspects of the decision still remain unresolved. One of these aspects is the compensation for mining companies. There is also the aspect of employment opportunities and possible compensation for those who lost their jobs because of the decision which was made in relation to Fraser Island. This evening I intend to address myself to the latter aspect, that is, the possible employment opportunities and possible compensation to those who have lost their job because of the decision about Fraser Island. I think this aspect has been forgotten in the debate on Fraser Island. Much of the debate has centred on the total economic region of Maryborough and Fraser Island and on the mining companies but not on the people who had been working on Fraser Island prior to sand mining ceasing and who lost theirjobs.
In discussing the problems which were and are faced by these people, it is important to try to discover how many were affected. There are varying estimates of how many people came to be affected because of the Fraser Island decision. Almost 12 months ago, on 11 November 1976, the Courier-Mail quoted the DM Minerals purchasing officer, Mr Frank Grant, as saying that at least 300 workers were affected. In the same issue of the Courier-Mail, other statements were made by other prominent people. These claims seemed to indicate that Mr Grant’s claim was correct. Shortly before that article appeared in the Courier-Mail, a document was prepared by the Maryborough District Development Board. It was prepared and circulated on 8 November 1976. It was signed by six local dignitaries, including the Mayor of Maryborough, Mr Jock Anderson. This document stated, among other things, that in Maryborough and district 300 people will be directly thrown on to the labour market. This, of course, was before the decision was made. It is pointed out that in addition to those 300 who would be thrown on to the labour market at that stage there were 916 people unemployed in that area.
Later the following month- in fact on Christmas Eve- the Courier-Mail reported that 200 miners had already left Fraser Island and that more were to follow. The 200 who had left were from DM Minerals and the others who were to leave shortly after were from Queensland Titanium Mines. It seems that the general consensus is that there were about 300 people involved. In January this year, the Queensland Government claimed that 400 people were affected The State Government, in fact, disputed the Federal Government’s claim that there were about 250 people involved. I do not wish to be precise about the number of people who were affected, but suffice it to say that there were somewhere between 250 and 400. The majority opinion seems to be that about 300 people were affected.
It is pertinent to look also at how many people are still unemployed because of this decision. One would expect that by now, 12 months later, most people would have found employment. I do not have recent statistics on this aspect, but I do have statistics, which were supplied in an answer to a question asked in August, which states that some people are still unemployed. I asked the then Minister for Veterans’ Affairs (Senator Durack) who represented the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations (Mr Street), this question:
How many former employees of sandmining operations on Fraser Island are currently registered for employment with the Commonwealth Employment Service: (a) in Maryborough; and (b) elsewhere.
The reply I received stated:
As at 23.8.77, 19 former employees of sandmining operations on Fraser Island were registered for employment with the Commonwealth Employment Service at Maryborough and 6 at Gympie. Some could be registered with other offices of the CES but there is no way of identifying these.
I think it is important to understand that it is still not possible to get full statistical information because the Commonwealth Employment Service cannot say how many people who were employed in the sand mining industry are still registered for employment with other offices of the Commonwealth Employment Service. I assume that a number of people from the Maryborough and Fraser Island district have moved to Brisbane and perhaps to other cities within the State and perhaps even interstate. So it is not unreasonable to expect that some of those people are still unemployed about 12 months later. One of the reasons which prompted me to raise this matter tonight is that little information is available. From what I have seen in Queensland, it seems that the Federal and State Governments have done little to assist in finding jobs for displaced miners. It is important for a number of reasons that both governments do their utmost to help people find work when they are out of work. But in this instance people found themselves out of work because of an environmental issue. Perhaps this is the first time that this happened in Australia. Because of a decision which was made, they found themselves out of a job.
In December last year the Federal Government made $ 10m available in a grant. This $ 10m went to the State Government to provide relief work. One million dollars was made available immediately and the remainder was to follow. But it became obvious that this was not sufficient. In fact, I quote what the Mayor of Maryborough, Alderman Jock Anderson, said at the time the announcement was made that the $10m would be available with $ 1 m to be immediately available. He said that the $ 1 m grant would open up work for a short period only. The Maryborough District Development Board secretary/ manager, Alderman Jurss said that the Commonwealth’s offer was disappointingly low, that the Government had offered less than $1 a head for every man, woman and child in Australia. He continued:
The Federal Government expects the citizens of Maryborough to buy Fraser Island for the future enjoyment of all Australians.
I digress to comment on Mr Jurss’ statement. In the Fraser Island Environmental Inquiry report it was made quite clear that, if a decision were to be made about Fraser Island, it was not a decision which should be financed by the people of Fraser Island or the people of the Maryborough district. It was a decision which would be beneficial for a number of people throughout Australia and therefore any economic burden should not rest on the people of Maryborough and district but on the people of Australia as a whole. Mr Nixon said at the time the decision was made: ‘Employment will be found for everyone’. He went on to say:
This will put new life into Maryborough.
It has been a most unfortunate incident.
I regret it had to occur.
I am not debating the issue of sand mining on Fraser Island; but what Mr Nixon said about employment being found for everyone was not correct, at least as at August of this year, because the statistics then- some seven or eight months later- showed that some people were still out of work because of this decision.
I also was prompted to speak because of a letter which was. received by me and I believe by most honourable senators and members of the House of Representatives and by a number of members of the Queensland Parliament. This letter came from the Ex-Sandminers Area Relief Committee. It sets out quite well what the former sand miners say their case is in that they believe that relief should be given to the sand miners as well as to the companies involved. With your concurrence, Mr President, and the concurrence of the Minister for Science (Senator Webster), I seek leave to have incorporated -
– No; with the concurrence of the Senate.
– Yes, that is correct; it is with the concurrence of the Senate.
– Unless it is recognised there will be no leave.
– It is recognised fully, Senator Wright.
-I recognised it fully. With the concurrence of yourself, Mr President, the Minister and the remainder of the Senate, I seek leave to have this letter incorporated in Hansard.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
The letter read as follows-
EX-SANDMINERS AREA RELIEF COMMITTEE
20 North Street,
Maryborough 4650 2 August 1977
We are appealing to any member of the Federal Government with some human decency to present a motion to the Parliament for 6 months’ compensation for the exemployees of D.M. Minerals and Q.T.M., and for all other members to support him or her.
We earnestly request that you take the time to read the following somewhat lengthy letter, as we have to state our case.
Sandmining on Fraser Island came to a halt on Government orders, on 24 December 1976. The Federal Government decided a payment of $ mm to the Queensland Government over three years would be adequate compensation for the loss of a viable industry. Despite petitions and delegations, personal compensation to the employees was not considered necessary, even though the Fraser Island Environmental Inquiry recommended this.
In the 7 months since that decision it is clear that the money is insufficient to keep only 51 ex-sandminers fully employed (7 have been put off already). The total number of sandminers and employees of direct sub-constractors was 400. 21 ex-sand miners are still unemployed in Maryborough-Hervey Bay alone, plus a further number in Tin Can Bay and Gympie, and many husbands have left their families behind to obtain work elsewhere. ( Real cases of hardship can be presented, if you are interested, to support these facts. One is appended as a sample).
Positive results have come for one section of the community affected by the closure. Sub-contractors are now being compensated to the extent of 12 months earnings, estimated on an escalated scale from 1976 figures. Naturally this is pleasing for the community in general, but it still leaves the workers, including employees of those subcontractors, forgotten- those least financially equipped to cope with a sudden wage loss.
Comments from Hansard from the following members all stress that adequate compensation should be paid to the workers:
Hon. T. Uren, Hon. M. H. Cass, Hon. K. E. Newman, P. C. Millar, Hon. K. Cairns, C. L. Carige.
As an example, we quote: Hon. T. Uren, 10 November 1976, Hansard, page 2577.
I give an undertaking on behalf of the Labor Party that we will support a fair go for the workers and the people of the region of Wide Bay, irrespective of politics and irrespective of State issues. It is important that they get justice and that they should not have to pay for this momentous decision alone’.
However in recent months no-one has expressed much interest in our plight, and as in almost every case wages have dropped at least 30 per cent, the situation is becoming critical.
What we seek is 6 months severance pay for all former employees of D.M. Minerals, Q.T.M. and sub-contractors. There have been precedents in other circumstances, but to our knowledge, this is the first time people have been thrown out of work on environmental grounds. The cost of this compensation, about $750,000, is approximately equal to the money granted to the Australian Conservation Foundation since 1973, and therefore we feel, not exorbitant to ask of the Government.
A copy of this letter has been sent to all members of the House of Representatives and the Senate. If you have read this far, we thank you for your attention and would appreciate a prompt reply. But far rather, we would appreciate your wholehearted support in our bid for an open debate on the floor of the House.
-I thank the Senate. I would like to mention in detail one part of that letter in which the sand miners set out that there is a case for them to receive what they call severance pay. The relevant part of that letter reads:
What we seek is six months severance pay for all former employees of D.M. Minerals, QTM and sub-contractors. There have been precedents in other circumstances, but to our knowledge, this is the first time people have been thrown out of work on environmental grounds. The cost of this compensation, about $730,000, is approximately equal to the money granted to the Australian Conservation Foundation since 1 973, and therefore, we feel, not exorbitant to ask of the Government.
It seems that there are precedents for severance pay being paid to people who have lost their jobs in certain circumstances. I quote from an article which appeared in the Canberra Times on 14 July 1976. It is headed ‘85 staff to lose jobs when hostels close ‘ and reads:
Eighty-five people would be retrenched when three Commonwealth hostels in the ACT closed on 24 July, the Minister for Environment, Housing and Community Development, Mr Newman, says in a letter to the Member for Canberra, Mr Haslem.
The article continues:
Retrenched staff will, of course, be eligible for income maintenance payments for a period of six months, and guests have been offered alternative accommodation.
The sand miners in Maryborough were quite interested in this situation in which some people receive a type of severance pay or income maintenance. They believe that in their circumstances, having been thrown out of work because of a decision which was made on environmental grounds, there is a strong moral case for them.
– Is that statement to the effect that those thrown out of the hostels would get six months maintenance in lieu of pay? Is that what you are saying?
-Senator Wright should know me. I cannot hear him very well.
– Well, I cannot understand you very well.
-If Senator Wright cannot understand me very well, that does not worry me one little bit.
– That is very good. I will leave.
– I am sure that the other honourable senators understand quite well what I am saying. The miners feel that little has been done for them and they believe that this is not only a function of the Federal Government but also a function of the Queensland Government. I am often upset by the fact that the Government in Queensland all too often is content to criticise the Federal Government and to lay the blame at the door of Canberra instead of co-operating with the Federal Government to see that something is done. There seems to have been a lack of consultation between the two governments as well. One might recall that the Queensland Government itself refused to appear before the Fraser Island Environmental Inquiry.
But, all that aside, there are still real problems for the sand miners. If we look at the matter carefully we will see that some of the sand miners became not only financially embarrassed but also bankrupt. Some of them actually lost some of their possessions because of the decision. It is important, not only for the sand miners themselves at the moment who still need assistance but also for people who are going to find themselves in a similar position, that some guidelines be laid down so that this does not happen again. I sometimes wonder how much thought was given to this aspect prior to the decision. I will not quote it in detail, but apparently an interdepartmental committee on behalf of the Federal Government made a report on the problems of Fraser Island. In reply to letters from the people in the area and in reply to a letter from me, the Minister was not able to say anything about what was in that IDC report. I will not dwell on that because it is usual that IDC reports remain confidential; but sometimes I wonder to what depth this program was investigated before it commenced.
In conclusion I reiterate the severance pay proposal put forward by the sand miners. They are seeking six months severance pay for all former employees of D.M. Minerals, Queensland Titanium Mines and sub-contractors. I hope that the Government will treat the suggestion as a serious one. It is still not too late to look at the problems which the people in that area face. If the Government will investigate all the possibilities, not only in respect of Fraser Island and the Maryborough district but also as regards any future decision which may affect the livelihood of people in this area, this investigation will be worth while. I would just like to quote part of the Fraser Island Environmental Inquiry report. One paragraph of that report reads:
The Commission recommends that appropriate steps be taken in conjunction with the Queensland Government to provide whatever economic or other assistance is required to the region concerned to make good any losses which may be sustained as a result of decisions which may be made following the consideration of this report.
This comment would fully cover the prospect of compensation for miners themselves. I urge the Government, even at this late stage, to look into the problem which is being faced by these people.
– I acknowledged the comments made by Senator Colston. I shall see that they are referred to the appropriate Minister. Senator Colston requested some information which I do not have at hand. I shall see also that the Minister attempts to respond. The paper which the honourable senator incorporated was a document entitled ‘Ex-Sandminers Area Relief Committee’. It has an address but no signature associated with it. The honourable senator might care to convey to the Minister in due course the address of those who were responsible for writing it. The Senate may note that on 22 September 1977 the Deputy Prime Minister, the Minister for National Resources and Minister for Overseas Trade (Mr Anthony), said that the Federal Government had decided to offer exgratia payments of $4m to D.M. Minerals and $500,000 to Queensland Titanium Mines Pty Ltd, the two former Fraser Island sand mining companies. Mr Anthony recalled the Government’s announcement of 20 December 1976 that it proposed to make payments to the mining companies and to firms which had contracted directly with them and which were solely or substantially dependent on the sand mining operations, having regard to loss of expected profits for 1977. Mr Anthony said that payments had already been made to six such first-line contractors and claims still outstanding were receiving urgent attention. The Government was providing $10m over three and a half years to the Queensland Government to overcome employment difficulties in the Maryborough region. I refer honourable senators to that particular statement.
It would appear that the Federal Government has taken action which appeared appropriate to it on advice that it should offer to Queensland, and to the companies affected certain financial support so that relief could be given not only to the companies themselves and those who owned the companies, the shareholders, but also to those individuals who were directly employed in the sand mining ventures and who thereby lost their employment or those contractors who were substantially involved in undertaking work for the two mining companies. I should think that a substantial mark has been made in the obligations of the Commonwealth following the findings of the inquiry. I shall refer the honourable senator’s comments to the appropriate Minister and obtain a response for him.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 10.53 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for National Resources, upon notice, on 26 April 1977:
– The Minister for National Resources has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Transport, upon notice, on S May 1977:
– The Minister for Transport has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
Yes, the Minister for Transport made the statement attributed to him but since the matters raised by the questions are primarily the responsibility of the Minister for National Resources, Mr Anthony has provided the Minister for Transport with the following answer
See the answer the question No. 136 in Senate Hansard, 20 April 1977, page 853.
In regard to the work of the National Energy Advisory Committee I would add that the Committee tendered preliminary advice to the Government on this matter, the text of which was released by me on 1 1 May 1977 in order to further stimulate public awareness and debate of energy conservation issues.
At that time I also invited interested parties to place their views on energy conservation before the National Energy Advisory Committee.
The Committee has now given further consideration to the matter and has produced a report entitled ‘Proposals for an Australian Conservation of Energy Programme’.
In accordance with my undertaking to the Committee, I, as Minister for National Resources, released the Report on 21 September 1977. The Government is considering the recommendations contained in the Report, and will take the appropriate action in due course.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs, upon notice, on 26 May 1977:
– The Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question: (1), (2) and (3) The primary approach to problems of mental illness amongst migrants lies in effective medical screening of prospective migrants.
This is, in fact, one of the important criteria for admission to Australia for settlement. The medical screening of prospective migrants takes into account, amongst other matters, their psychiatric health.
Where mental illness occurs subsequent to a migrant’s arrival in Australia the causes arc frequently the same as those which result in mental illness amongst non-migrants and the medical treatment is similar.
In other instances, and studies both in Australia and other migrant receiving countries confirm this, migration has the effect of exacerbating previously latent mental disabilities. In such cases, repatriation is the best answer.
Nevertheless, the specific matters referred to by the honourable senator arc among those which are in the process of being followed up by the new Ethnic Affairs Branch of the Department of Immigration and Ethnic Affairs in consultation with the appropriate Commonwealth departments and other professional authorities.
asked the Minister for Social Security, upon notice, on 23 August 1977:
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
It is not possible to estimate reliably the additional cost of all the Myers Inquiry recommendations on unemployment benefit. This is because of three main factors: there are features of the proposed scheme that are not outlined in sufficient detail (e.g. the operation of the proposed needs allowance); there is insufficient statistical data to enable all aspects of the scheme to be costed; and the likely behaviour of people under such a scheme cannot be predicted (e.g. a possible increase in the number of married women registering for full-time employment and applying for unemployment benefit).
The preliminary cost estimate referred to above related to the major recommendations on the structure and level of benefit payments. It excludes any costs or savings associated with recommendations of an administrative nature e.g. increased numbers of field officers, upgrading of accommodation etc.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Transport, upon notice, on 24 August 1977:
– The Minister for Transport has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
asked the Minister representing the Minister Assisting the Prime Minister in Public Service Matters, upon notice, on 24 August 1977:
– The Minister Assisting the Prime Minister in Public Service Matters has supplied the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Northern Territory, upon notice, on 6 September 1 977:
– The Minister for the Northern Territory has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
Northern Territory Prisons: Rehabilitation and Pre-sentence Reports (Question No. 1315)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Northern Territory, upon notice, on 7 September 1977:
– The Minister for the Northern Territory has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
(a) There has been considerable improvement in the general position regarding facilities in both Darwin and Alice Springs in recent months. A new detention and rehabilitation centre for juveniles will be opened in Alice Springs at the end of this month and a similar centre will be opened in Darwin before the end of the year. A new prison for adults to replace Fanny Bay is scheduled for completion early in 1979. These facilities will provide for innovative types of treatment and training programs. Renovations and reconstruction of the Alice Springs gaol have been approved and will provide improved facilities for education and housing. New education training and work programs are also operating successfully at Gunn Point.
Self -regulation for Broadcasters’ (Question No. 1343)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Post and Telecommunications, upon notice, on 1 5 September 1977:
– The Minister for Post and Telecommunications has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Transport, upon notice, on 20 September 1977:
Will the Government introduce freight assistance policies to ensure that the cost of necessities to isolated towns and settlements in the interior and northern coast of Australia is comparable with the cost of goods in more highly populated areas of Australia.
– The Minister for Transport has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
Assistance towards the transport of goods and passengers to isolated towns and settlements in the interior and northern coast of Australia is already provided by way of direct or indirect subsidies, the cost of which is largely met by taxpayers living in the more highly populated areas.
This assistance covers the provision of road, rail and air facilities as well as direct subsidies to transport operators. As far as the Commonwealth Government is concerned current assistance includes the construction of a new standard gauge railway from Tarcoola to Alice Springs (the Tarcoola to Alice Springs Railway Act of 1974 provides for expenditure of up to $145 million), the financing of operating losses of the Australian National Railways (ANR) arising largely from operations in less populated areas, a subsidy to ANR to cover the movement of Northern Territory cattle ($295,793 in 1976-77), development and maintenance grants for locally owned aerodromes ($1.6 million in 1976-77), subsidies to operators of developmental air services ($675,249 in 1976-77) and subsidies for shipping services to isolated areas along the northern coast of Australia.
State Governments and their authorities also provide assistance to less populated areas.
As the Government is naturally concerned about the level of transport costs throughout Australia, my Department and the Bureau of Transport Economics maintain a continuous oversight of transport costs. As pan of this work, my Department reviews annually the appropriate level of assistance to be provided to air transport in isolated areas. Furthermore, at the present time the Bureau of Transport Economics is finalising a report on the freight transport problems of Darwin and the Northern Territory.
-On 24 March 1977 Senator Georges asked me, as Minister representing the Minister for National Resources, the following question without notice:
I ask the Leader of the Government in the Senate why he allowed himself to be party to a device in putting down a very important statement on the problems that the uranium producers are facing. In answer to a question, which was obviously not a question without notice, he put down a statement that ought to be debated at length in the Senate, ls he prepared to ask the Minister responsible to put down a full statement which can be debated in this place?
Senator Georges’ question followed an answer I had given to Senator Kilgariff relating to the Government’s uranium stockpile.
The Acting Minister for National Resources has provided the following information in answer to the honourable senator’s question:
As stated by the Acting Minister for National Resources in the House of Representatives on 19 April 1977, the Commonwealth Government, Peko Mines Ltd and the Electrolytic Zinc Company of Australasia Ltd have completed negotiations on arrangements for the Government’s stockpile to be made available to Peko/EZ to meet early deliveries under their existing uranium export contracts. The agreements were formally executed on 10 June 1977 and the first shipment was made from Sydney on 23 June 1977.
The Commonwealth Government has also reached similar agreement with Queensland Mines Ltd. This agreement was formally executed on 16 August 1977 and the first shipments were made from Sydney on 3 and 8 September 1977.
– On 3 June 1977 Senator Missen asked me, as Minister representing the Minister for National Resources, the following question without notice:
The Minister for National Resources has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
Gemstones are not covered by the export controls on mineral products, and the foreign buyers may export the opals they purchase without restriction. I understand the activities of the foreign buyers are welcomed by many because of the expanded market outlets and the competition they provide.
The Industries Assistance Commission is currently conducting an inquiry under a reference encompassing the jewellery and other precious metalware industries, at the hearings of which the marketing of gemstones has been raised.
Mary Kathleen Uranium Ltd
-On 17 August 1977 Senator Brown asked me, as Minister representing the Minister for National Resources, the following question without notice:
I understand that on 3 February 1976 the Government announced its intention to sell its 41.6 per cent interest in Mary Kathleen Uranium Ltd. I ask: Has the Government sold its interest? If so, how were the shares disposed of and who bought them?
The Minister for National Resources has provided the following information in answer to the honourable senator’s question:
The Government has not disposed of its shareholding in Mary Kathleen Uranium Ltd. Kathleen Investments (Australia) Limited, a former major shareholder in Mary Kathleen Uranium Ltd, initiated legal proceedings challenging the validity of the shareholding held in Mary Kathleen Uranium Ltd by the Australian Atomic Energy Commission. This litigation remains unsolved.
Ranger Uranium Project
-On 23 August 1977 Senator Brown asked me, as Minister representing the Minister for National Resources, a question without notice on the Government’s intentions regarding its interest in the Ranger uranium project.
The Minister for National Resources has provided the following information in answer to the honourable senator’s question:
On 25 August 1977 the Government’s policy on the further development of the Australian uranium industry was outlined in detail. In relation to the Ranger project it was announced that the project would proceed on the same basis as set out in the Memorandum of Understanding agreed between Peko Mines Limited and Electrolytic Zinc Company of Australasia Limited and the Whitlam Government on 28 October 1975. This will involve 72’/5 per cent of the capital being provided by the Commonwealth and 27V4 per cent by Peko/EZ, with Peko/EZ receiving the net proceeds of the sale of 50 per cent of the uranium produced by the project.
-On 8 September 1977 (Hansard page 704) Senator Brown asked me, as Minister representing the Minister for National Resources, a question without notice as to whether there is any substance in an allegation that there is a proposal that Australia enter into an agreement with the United States and Canada for the purpose of dumping the western world’s nuclear wastes in this country. The Acting Minister for National Resources has supplied the following information in answer to the honourable senator’s question: 1 confirm that there is no such proposal. I refer the honourable senator to the statements to the Parliament on 25 August 1977 by both the Prime Minister and the Minister for the Environment, Housing and Community Development in which it was stated that there is no intention of Australia storing other countries ‘ radioactive waste.
Indonesia: Medical Care for Australians
-On 22 September 1977 Senator Robertson asked me, as Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs, the following question without notice:
My question 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 ofthe incident? The first is the inadequacy ofthe 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?
The Minister for Foreign Affairs has provided the following answers to the honourable senator’s questions:
The case of the young Australian male injured while riding a motor cycle in Denpasar was not brought to the attention of the Australian Embassy in Jakarta at any stage. It is understood that, in a number of cases, the Australian Embassy has had occasion formally to raise with the Indonesian Foreign Ministry the fact that the Embassy is not provided with official advice of Australians in difficulties in Indonesia. Under existing circumstances unless the Embassy is notified of such cases, either through the Press or through its own contacts, or unless the individual is able to contact the Embassy himself, the Embassy does not hear of such accidents and is therefore not in a position to assist.
Whilst it is understood that the standard of medical care in many parts of Indonesia is substantially lower than that found in Australia there is no reason to believe that the medical standards accorded to Australian citizens are any lower than these afforded to Indonesian nationals.
The Australian Embassy in Jakarta has been unable to obtain any information from any source about the allegation that the hospital authorities in Denpasar denied an Australian citizen access to Australian consular assistance. Enquiries are proceeding.
– On 4 October 1977 Senator Steele Hall asked me, as Minister representing the Minister for National Resources, the following question, without notice:
I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for National Resources. In view of a statement recently made by the marketing manager of an Australian oil producing company that South Australian gas resources are now largely committed to the Sydney market, that not a drop of gas is contracted to South Australian users beyond 1982 and that South Australian prospective discoveries are unlikely to exceed commitments already made to New South Wales, can the Minister give an assurance that the Government is aware of this position and that action will be taken in conjunction with the South Australian Government to encourage further discoveries in that State or, alternatively, to connect that State’s pipeline system with the other Australian gas reserves?
The Minister for National Resources has provided me with the following reply:
Without further details of the particular statement to which the honourable senator referred I am unable to comment substantively on its contents. However it is my understanding that gas from the Cooper Basin has been contracted to the Pipeline Authority of South Australia beyond 1 982.
I refer the honourable senator to my statement concerning development ofthe North West Shelf gas fields made in the House of Representatives on 24 August in which I referred to the government’s policy concerning gas supplies to the eastern states and South Australia.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 18 October 1977, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1977/19771018_senate_30_s75/>.