30th Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Condor Laucke) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
-On behalf of Senator Wood, I present the following petition from 23 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:
Objection to the metric system and request the Government to restore the imperial system.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray.
Petition received and read.
– A petition has been lodged for presentation as follows:
To the Honourable the President and Members of the Senate in Parliament assembled. The petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
Objection to the -metric system and request the Government to restore the imperial system.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Senator Townley.
-I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations. Is it a fact that the Government anticipates that employment will rise in1978 by only 0.75 of one percent, whereas the available work force will rise by twice that figure? As the Government acknowledges that there will be increasing unemployment next year, does it also acknowledge that its predictions of1 976 have failed to materialise?
– As this question involves a number of important statistics in relation to matters within the responsibility of my colleague the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations, I shall refer it to him for an early answer.
– I ask a question of the Minister representing the Minister for Transport. I refer to an article on the front page of today’s
Mercury in which it is stated that local flights are to be halted. Whilst I understand the concern of pilots for the safety of flights and the need for protection against hijacking, I remind the Minister that Tasmania is totally dependent upon its air links. I therefore ask: Will the Minister ask the Minister for Transport to request the pilots associations of Trans-Australia Airlines and Ansett Airlines of Australia to continue flights to Tasmania- in other words, exempt the Tasmanian flights from the proposed 48-hour strike which is anticipated to start at10 p.m. next Tuesday?
– I have not seen today’s Hobart Mercury but I have seen numerous media items indicating that airline pilots and air crews throughout the world are proposing a 48-hour strike commencing next Tuesday and that the Australian air crews have apparently acquiesced in the idea. As I read the media I also understand that this was contingent upon the fact that it would not occur if there could be some intervention in the United Nations by way of significant debate. I am not aware of what has happened, and in terms of the United Nations it is not within my own discipline, but I am aware of the very real dependence of Tasmania, in its sea-girt isolation, upon airlines. It is important therefore that, if there is a stoppage, some air link should be in existence. I shall draw the matter to the attention of my colleague to see whether some suitable arrangement can be made in the event that such a world-wide stoppage occurs.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations and follows on Senator Wriedt’s question. I remind him of the statement in the Treasurer’s Budget Speech of1976-77 that this Government yields to none in its concern for the genuinely unemployed. Who does the Government define as being genuinely unemployed? Is it, as was implied in the Prime Minister’s speech of last Sunday, the 40 per cent of unemployed persons who are said to be breadwinners, minus the 40 per cent who implicitly left their jobs voluntarily from that group? However the genuinely unemployed may be defined, what has this Government done for them?
-The Government has said over and over again that it is concerned for those whom Senator Walsh has chosen to refer to as the ‘genuinely unemployed ‘-those who are seriously concerned to obtain work. They range over a large number of categories, but particularly the Government has been concerned with the large proportion registered for unemployment within the younger section of the community. The policy that the Government has pursued m relation to employment generally is to achieve reactivation of the private sector of the economy, the sector that employs three-quarters of the work force. The policies that it has pursued, which have been the subject of many Government statements both in debate and in answer to questions, have been designed to create as many jobs as possible within the private sector.
As far as direct efforts by the Government are concerned, in relation particularly to youth unemployment, the figures were quoted last week in debate and I referred to the fact that there are schemes such as the youth employment scheme, the NEAT scheme and the CRAFT scheme. This year, more than $ 100m has been provided in the Budget for schemes of that kind, representing an increase of 33 per cent over the amount provided in the previous year. Probably thousands of young people are being assisted through those schemes. These are matters which the Government is keeping under constant consideration., to see whether improvements in them can be made.
– As a supplementary question I ask the Minister, in view of his reference to the Government’s determination to help the unemployed by expanding employment in the private sector, whether it is a fact that the number of people employed by that sector has fallen absolutely in the last year.
– I have not the statistics immediately at hand. The honourable senator asked me what the Government’s policy was in relation to the unemployed, and I answered the question in those terms.
– I draw the attention of the Minister representing the Treasurer to the concern expressed in the Press, and rumours circulating among small businessmen, accountants and lawyers relating to the introduction of tax avoidance legislation. I ask: Can the Minister say when a statement will be made or the legislation referred to in the Budget, introduced?
– This was referred to in the Budget Speech. The Government has been very concerned about it for some time. The legislation is now being prepared. We hope to present it shortly.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Social Security. I ask: Has she seen reports today that the Salvation Army in Melbourne has run out of relief money and is forced to close its doors because it has paid out $100,000 in emergency relief during the recent industrial problems in Victoria? Does the Minister agree that this demonstrates the need to pay unemployment benefit to those who are in fact stood down during industrial action, and also to implement the proposal of Dr Myers, Mr Norgard and many others that the seven day waiting period for unemployment benefit should be removed? I also ask: What has happened to the Government’s plans, announced some 12 months ago, to introduce a system of emergency relief payments through voluntary agencies? When will such a scheme be implemented?
– I have noticed Press reports with regard to the work of the Salvation Army in Melbourne and the benefits that it has been giving to many people who were in distress as a result of the strike and a lack of income. Officers of my Department in Melbourne and in any other place where they are dealing with applicants for unemployment benefit because of the strike in the Latrobe Valley are endeavouring to expedite payment to the thousands of people who are to be paid unemployment benefit. We have deployed staff from many areas of the Department to handle the increased work load. Extensive overtime is being worked in the Department. Special arrangements were made to print and despatch cheques over the last weekend. We are dealing with the very heavy work load of claims as expeditiously as possible.
In relation to the matter of the seven day waiting period being abolished, we noted the recommendation of Dr Myers. The Government does not propose to abolish the seven day waiting period for unemployment benefit. As far as the plan to introduce a system of emergency funding through voluntary agencies is concerned, I must admit that I received a very lukewarm reception from the voluntary agencies when this was suggested. Notably, the Australian Council of Social Services organisation did not favour the proposal of the Government with regard to using voluntary agencies as agents of the Government for funding of this kind. I believe that there is a possibility that bodies such as the Salvation Army could be used to advantage to act as agents of government in dispensing emergency aid. I do not mean only the Federal Government in that regard because the State governments and others also give emergency aid. We endeavoured to work towards some policy that could be introduced but were unable to find any great response from voluntary agencies with whom we discussed the matter.
-I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Health. Estimates in the Budget provide an amount of $750,000 for development of accommodation for cattle and horses at the Torrens Island quarantine station. Can the Minister advise the amounts of money and accommodation to be provided for cattle and horses respectively, when tenders for the work will be called, and the anticipated time of construction? Does the Minister propose that the station be used for providing entry for cattle and horses originating in other selected countries but currently held in New Zealand? Will it be opened up to allow stock to enter directly from other approved countries with favourable disease status?
– The sum of $745,000 has been made available under the civil works program in the 1977-78 Budget for the construction of suitable accommodation for 36 horses at a cost of $270,000, and 144 cattle at a cost of $475,000 at Torrens Island in South Australia. The construction of the cattle facilities will enable importation of cattle from New Zealand which were previously imported into that country and from countries such as the United Kingdom which are free of foot and mouth disease, vector borne diseases of importance, for example, blue tongue, and other diseases which cannot safely be handled in the proposed facility. The tender target date for construction is March 1978. The construction time should approximate 12 months, and suitable protocols will be developed setting out the conditions of importation, certification and testing in ample time to allow prospective importers to plan accordingly. The horse accommodation is intended to replace and enhance existing unsatisfactory accommodation at Torrens Island to meet expected demand.
– I direct my question to the Minister for Social Security and again refer to the position of school leavers. Will the Minister tell the Senate what are the Government’s intentions regarding the payment of unemployment benefit to school leavers this year as the end of the school year is approaching rapidly? The Minister has indicated previously that she would give some guidelines as to their position.
– I expect that in the very near future a Bill relating to social service amendments will be introduced into the Parliament. One of the measures included in the Bill is the matter of the unemployment benefit to be paid to school leavers. The Bill will provide for a postponement of six weeks for payment of unemployment benefit to school leavers from the date they leave school. That provision will also apply to tertiary students who have not completed their courses, unless there are good and sufficient reasons which are accepted by the Director-General for the non-completion of their courses. After the postponement period of six weeks the normal tests of eligibility for unemployment benefit will be applied to undergraduates and to school leavers.
-I wish to ask a supplementary question. Will the school leavers be able to register for unemployment benefit immediately they leave school? Is what the Minister intends to do legal? If the Minister cannot give a legal opinion, perhaps the question could be referred -
– Order! By inference, you are asking the Minister whether she would do something illegal. Please rephrase your question, Senator Georges.
-Does it not mean that what the Minister did last year was illegal? Can I put it that way?
– In any case, let me rephrase my question. Does it mean that school leavers will be able to register for unemployment benefit immediately they leave school, and will the six months period before they are eligible for assistance under the youth support scheme start from that date?
– When the Bill is introduced it will be debated and discussed, and all the detail will be available at that time. In brief answer to the question, I should say that the postponement of benefit will be for six weeks after the student leaves school. The matter of registration for employment is something that can be undertaken by the student immediately on leaving school. If the student does not register immediately on leaving school the DirectorGeneral will take into account those matters when determining the date of postponement. That is clearly set out in the Bill and I think it would be better left for discussion at that time. As far as eligibility for assistance under the youth support scheme is concerned, that is a matter for determination by my colleague, the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations, Mr Street, and I will refer that part of the question to him.
– Has the Minister representing the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations seen the latest figures of the Bureau of Statistics relating to working days lost as a result of industrial disputes for the six months ended June last? These indicate a total of 718,100 working days lost compared with a figure of 1.4 million for the same period last year and a figure of 1 .9 million for the first six months of 1975. The Bureau’s figures cover only workers directly involved in a dispute and those indirectly affected who work in the same establishment. They do not cover -
– Order! Ask your question, please.
– But the figures do not cover workers stood down because of a strike at another location. Does the Minister agree that these figures give an entirely false picture, particularly in disputes such as the current Latrobe Valley dispute? Can the Minister say whether any arrangement can be made to extend the figures to take in days lost in respect of the hundreds of thousands of workers stood down as a result of industrial disputes and thus give a more accurate picture of the number of working days lost?
- Senator Tehan has raised a most important question in relation to industrial disputation. One of the most serious aspects of such disputation which are now becoming apparent is the widespread impact this has on the community generally. When statistics are collected of working days lost which refer directly to people actually on strike or to other people working in the same establishment as those on strike, they certainly do not reflect the ultimate impact of strikes on the community as a whole. The classic example is the situation in Victoria at the present time where, as the result of a strike by a relatively small number of people in the Latrobe Valley, in fact hundreds of thousands of people are affected directly in their employment, to say nothing of probably hundreds of thousands of other people who are indirectly affected.
In addition, all the other activities that take place in industrial disputation today, such as work bans and go slow campaigns, have a widespread impact on the community and upon workers in other avenues of employment. Certainly, Senator Tehan has raised an important matter as to how far these effects can be assessed. I will pass on his question to the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations to see whether there is any way in which some full and accurate impact can be shown.
– You make up your own figures. Why can you not do it?
– It is a matter for experts to try to arrive at the actual figure. I know that Senator Bishop and his colleagues would be horrified if they ever saw the total figures. Even though a relatively small number of people may be engaged in strikes, the enormous impact they have on the workers and people in the community generally must be obvious, even to members of the Opposition.
-I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations. I ask him whether it is a fact that the present Prime Minister said in his policy speech of 1 975:
The Government will support the wage indexation agreement in the present economic circumstances.
Is it not true that when wage indexation was introduced in this country it was supported by the Arbitration Court, the employer organisations and by the unions? Is it not a fact that each of those groups saw it as some hope to get industrial harmony and peace in this country? Is it not also a fact that it was this Government which set about immediately upon its election to destroy the principles of wage indexation? Is it not true that its stated policy was and still is not to allow wage indexation to operate fully and to depress the real incomes of Australian employees?
– The answer to Senator Wriedt ‘s question shortly is no. If Senator Wriedt looks at the agreement that was the basis of the wage indexation guidelines adopted in 1975 in the circumstances the honourable senator has mentioned, he will see that the submissions which the Government made to the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission at the quarterly hearings during 1976 and 1977 were in accord with the terms and conditions of those guidelines. It may be that the Opposition has not been in agreement with the submissions which the Government has made. When the Opposition was in government it may have made other submissions. That is an entirely different matter from alleging breaches by the Government of the wage indexation guidelines and principles. The Government’s submissions are within the powers of and in terms of those principles which were enunciated then.
-I ask a supplementary question, Mr President. Is Senator Durack saying that the Government’s policy now is or is not to support full indexation?
– I have not said, and the Government certainly has never said, that we are supporting full indexation. The guidelines do not say that the Government has to support full indexation. I thought that that would have been as clear as daylight.
-I direct my question to the Minister representing the Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs and refer to a document entitled ‘Background File’ which is circulated to senators and members in Parliament House. Is the Minister aware that this circular draws attention to a United States tariff applied to Australian built aircraft? Has the Minister’s attention been drawn to the fact that the Transavia company has built 86 Airtruck agricultural aircraft and that it has established markets in about 14 overseas countries? Is the Minister aware also that one such aircraft has been in the United States for over a year for evaluation and that an early response from agricultural operators in America indicates a potential market for 30 aircraft a year in that country? As Australia does not apply a tariff to American-built aircraft coming to this country, will the Minister make representations to the United States Government with the object of having the tariff on Australian aircraft removed?
-After listening very carefully to the question, I think it more properly belongs to me because I look after the policy area on all these matters. Everything that opens and shuts and gives trouble seems to land on my shoulders or on the shoulders of Senator Carrick, Senator Withers, Senator Guilfoyle, Senator Webster or Senator Durack. I am aware of what the honourable senator was talking about. I know a bit about the matter, although I have not been in touch with it over the past couple of years.
Opposition senators interjecting-
-Is it not wonderful how, when one tries to be helpful, one hears all that useless noise? The Transavia company does a very good job. It has a twin boom aircraft and, in my civil aviation days, I was familiar with its development. It is a very good development. It is a very ingenious aircraft which has been developed by a person the company brought from Italy. He has done most remarkable work. In that case we do have a singular aircraft which could be sold overseas. I think it is fair for us to be given access to the United States market if we give access to our market to overseas countries. We do give access to our market; therefore, we should have access to other markets. This brings up the general point that we in Australia are very much abused by all kinds of people who say that we are very hard to get on with in the matter of protection. I wish these people would direct their attention somewhere else for a change, such as to the specific case mentioned by the honourable senator.
-I ask the Minister for Education: Why has demolition work on the Beauty Point wharf, which was being carried out in connection with the development of the maritime college in Northern Tasmania, come to a halt? Is this because of a repudiation of what I am informed was an understanding by the Port of Launceston Authority that it should dismantle the old wharf structure on behalf of the Commonwealth Department of Education to enable facilities connected with the Maritime College to be commenced? What is now required to be done to enable the work to recommence?
– I am not aware of a cessation of the demolition on the Beauty Point wharf. However, I accept the statement by Senator Devitt that that has occurred. Generally, supervision of the matter is under the control of the Interim Council. Indeed, recently a principal of the College has been appointed. I shall seek the information required in the question and let the honourable senator know the answer.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs and refers to the recent hijack. My impression is that the conclusion of the international treaty against terrorism has been dawdling for some years. Will the Minister ascertain from the Foreign Affairs Minister what the present status of those negotiations is? I ask the Minister also to assure the Senate that the Government is actually moving with a sense of urgency to ensure that the United Nations in one of its functions gets an understanding as between nations for the security of their airports and policing any future hijack in co-operation. I regard that as a matter of urgency, both in its essential elements and also to remove the reasonable concern which pilots have, as is indicated by their intention to strike next week.
-As the honourable senator knows this matter was raised in the Senate yesterday also. I think it is fair to say that it is a matter of concern to all honourable senators. I have a briefing note from my colleague the Minister for Foreign Affairs. I think it would be more satisfactory if I read it. It states:
At my request Australia’s ambassador at the United Nations has discussed with other delegations, and in particular with the delegation of the Federal Republic of Germany, prospects for accelerated action at the United Nations on the items dealing with terrorism and the draft convention against the taking of hostages.
I am informed that these items are currently listed for debate and action in the General Assembly of the United Nations in mid-November. I am informed that the United Nations Secretary-General, Mr Waldheim, has written to the President of the International Air Pilots Association to say that he had personally urged that these items be given the highest priority. We -
That is Australia- shall give our full support to any measures which can be devised at the United Nations to combat effectively international terrorism.
I am informed that in the meantime a number of delegations at the United Nations including Australia, is already re-examining the existing conventions on hijacking to see what further action the General Assembly might appropriately recommend under those conventions.
I assure Senator Wright and other honourable senators that this is a matter which the Government and a small group of Ministers have under very active consideration. We do not intend to let this matter lie around without some action.
– My question which is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations follows upon his reply to questions asked by Senator Wriedt about wage indexation. I refer the Minister to the statement of the Prime Minister made yesterday in which he urged the Australian Council of Trade Unions and the Melbourne Trades Hall Council to find solutions to the State Electricity Commission dispute. I now ask the Minister whether he can advise the Senate as to the extent to which the Federal Government is helping the Australian Council of Trade Unions and the Melbourne Trades Hall Council to find an amicable solution in the interests of both parties. Is the Minister aware that had the Government supported the wage indexation policies which it announced during the election campaign that would have meant that over-award payments which have been restricted to State Electricity Commission workers would have been expanded because the policy would have applied to over-award payments? Can the Minister say whether that area has been considered as a matter which might contribute to the solution which is urged by the Prime Minister?
– The Government’s policy in relation to the power dispute in Victoria, as is its policy in relation to all industrial disputes, has been to support the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission and the arbitration system and to encourage to the best of its endeavours the unions and the union leaders to support that system and to give leadership. The great problem in Victoria was that that leadership was not given until some firm indications were given by the Victorian Government, supported as it has been by the Commonwealth Government. That has been the policy of the Government. That is certainly what the Prime Minister has been saying. Senator Bishop comes back to the question of wage indexation and of what the Government’s policies have been. I have already answered that question in relation to the matter raised by Senator Wriedt.
– I ask a supplementary question. Has the Minister been able to find out whether the Government will consider an alteration of the wage indexation policy on the basis of promises by the Government as this would afford a part solution to the dispute in Victoria? That would mean, of course, that over-award payments would be indexed and no doubt they would be inflated by about 20 per cent.
-I will refer to the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations the supplementary question asked by Senator Bishop.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Prime Minister. I refer to a situation which is developing on Groote Eylandt, off the Northern Territory, whereby the Northern Land Council has stated that the European employees of Gemco will not be allowed to leave the company leases unless the Groote Eylandt mining company is prepared to re-negotiate the lease conditions which, I understand, currently return some 334 per cent royalty to the Aboriginal people. Having regard to the fact that the Groote Eylandt project has been in existence for some years and its position is recognised within the Northern Territory Aboriginal Land Rights Act, is not the action being taken to restrict the movement of Gemco employees in confrontation with the tenor of the legislation? Having in mind that this action, while apparently having no legal backing, is also causing considerable ill feeling and a breakdown in good relations in the area, will the Government use its good offices to return Groote Eylandt to a rational situation?
-I can inform the honourable senator that the Aboriginal Land Rights Act preserves the existing rights of the Groote Eylandt mining company to recover manganese ore from the island. I can also inform him that the action of the traditional owners on the island in restricting the right of Europeans to visit areas of the island other than the mining lease is not in confrontation with the Act. Although the legislation relating to entry onto Aboriginal Land has not been introduced by the Northern Territory Legislative Assembly, it will certainly give power to the traditional owners to restrict European entry onto their lands.
In reply to the final part of the question, as is well known, the Groote Eylandt mining company has enjoyed a good relationship with the Aboriginal people in the past and the Government is hopeful that continued discussion will resolve the problem and allow people to enjoy the privileges which they have had in past years. I can assure the honourable senator that this Government will do all it can to bring the Aboriginals and the mining company together to solve the present problem.
– I ask the Attorney-General: Is it a fact that under the Senate (Representation of Territories) Act senators representing the Territories are subject to election to the Senate at the same time as a general election is held to elect members of the House of Representatives? In view of the fact that the High Court last May completed its hearing of the case brought by the Queensland Government challenging the right of territorial senators to sit in the Senate and it is now October- the same length of time that elapsed between the conclusion of the hearing of the first territorial senators ‘ case and the date of the judgment of the High Court in that case- is the Attorney-General now able to state when it is likely that the High Court will be handing down its judgment in the case it heard last May?
– The answer is no.
– While I am still a member of the Senate I would like to ask a question of the Minister for Education. In view of the serious situation involving substantial numbers of unemployed young people in the Australian Capital Territory, can the Minister say whether further consideration has been given to measures to deal with this situation in the Territory and whether any decisions have yet been made to assist in alleviating the problem?
– Recently I announced that I had appointed a working group from my Department to prepare recommendations for the introduction of pilot courses of training for unemployed young people in the Australian Capital Teritory. This is an extension of the training courses in the States. The working group comprises representatives of the Bruce and the Canberra colleges of technical and further education, Jobless Action, the Department of Education and the Department of Employment and Industrial Relations. The details to be decided include the criteria for selecting participants, financial support and the content and type of courses to be provided. The main objective of the courses will be to make the young people involved better able to compete for the job opportunities available. This matter is under intensive discussion at the moment. I regard it as important. The Government will endeavour to expedite it.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations. I refer to the industrial disputation in the Latrobe Valley involving skilled maintenance workers employed by the State Electricity Commission of Victoria. I draw the Minister’s attention to the fact that the Hydro-Electric Commission in Tasmania, the Electricity Trust of South Australia and the New South Wales Electricity Commission employ the same type of workers performing the same functions. No industrial stoppages have occurred in any of those authorities. Will the Minister table in the Senate information as to the salaries, including incremental payments, of employees of each of those three electricity authorities and the State Electricity Commission of Victoria?
– A number of questions have been asked this afternoon by honourable senators opposite about the dispute in the Latrobe Valley. Senator Button has asked me whether I will table details of wages received by workers of similar skills in other parts of
Australia. I shall endeavour to obtain the figures for which he has asked. How soon or how readily they can be obtained I do not know. I shall pass the request on to the Minister whom I represent to see whether they can be obtained. The question of the entitlement of the workers in the Latrobe Valley to the wages they have sought has already been the subject of considerable investigation in the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. It has been the subject only this week of an urgent hearing by the Full Bench of that Commission under an anomalies provision of the wage indexation guidelines. The Conciliation and Arbitration Commission has considered the matter and has refused to grant any of the wage increases sought. I do not know whether Senator Button is suggesting that the figures will reveal that the Arbitration Commission was wrong. This matter has been fully considered by the Commission and the Commission has rejected the claims.
– Has the attention of the Minister for Education been drawn to a report in this morning’s Canberra Times of a new concept in bi-lingual education for migrant children? If so, can the Minister inform the Senate of the aims and details of the proposed new scheme in the Australian Capital Territory?
– I imagine that Senator Lajovic is referring to a report concerning educational innovations and experiments being undertaken in Griffith Primary School. The essential answer is yes, I have read that report. I compliment first of all the Parents and Citizens Association for its initiatives on this matter, the school principal and the staff. As I read the report and from my knowledge of the school it has all the ingredients of good education moving forward. There is a concentration on basic skills and innovation and an understanding that each individual has a different learning priority and pattern, whether visual, auditory or a combination of the two. The school has devised a variety of ways of dealing with this. As I recall it, the report indicated that the school is interested in bi-lingual learning in the conscious knowledge that children from the wide migrant communities have difficulties in learning in a second language but have much more ability to learn initially in their own language and then make the translation into English. I have seen it. I think that it is to be commended. I think that it is one of those kinds of experiments which, translated more widely in the multi-culture of education in
Australia, could do much not only to help the migrant children in their difficulties in that multiculture but also to give to the Australian children a glimpse of the richness of the other cultures.
– I ask a question of the Minister for Social Security. The Minister will recall that I sent a telegram to her yesterday in relation to the unemployment benefit entitlements of laid-off vehicle builders in Queensland. In view of the uncertainty facing these vehicle builders and the apparently confusing advice being given to them, I ask: Is the Minister now in a position to advise whether unemployment benefit will be payable to Queensland vehicle builders laid off because of the Victorian power dispute?
– I am unaware of whether a telegram has been received in my office. It may be in the system but I have not yet seen it. The position with regard to the payment of unemployment benefit is that the present practice is to be continued; that is, that those people who are not directly involved in a strike will be eligible for unemployment benefit. Does the honourable senator’s telegram refer to the position at the General Motors-Holden’s Pty Ltd plant at Acacia Ridge in Brisbane?
– The advice that I have with regard to that is that approximately 900 members of the Vehicle Builders Employees Federation are employed at the General MotorsHolden’s plant at Acacia Ridge. As a result of the shortage of component parts because of the Victorian power dispute, the employer was proposing to stand down between 600 and 700 workers, the balance being retained to carry out essential maintenance programs. As I understand it, the union responded by invoking its standing rule of one out all out’. It is understood that, as a result of this stated policy, the whole 900 workers failed to report for work on 7 October. Despite this mass withdrawal of labour, it is understood that the union has permitted the employer to retain about 20 workers to do the necessary maintenance work.
A statement was made by Mr Hayden in which he said that the workers were told by the Department of Social Security that an instruction had been issued that no payments were to be made. The Director of my Department advises that no instruction was issued by the Department of Social Security in these terms. The situation is that we need to consider the eligibility of the employees in question, but it would seem that by the mass withdrawal of their labour they are either on strike or are voluntarily unemployed. If they are on strike; under the present policy, which has been adopted since 1973, they are not eligible for unemployment benefit. If they are voluntarily unemployed, it is understood that there will be a postponement period during which unemployment benefit will not be paid. My Department is seeking advice from the Department of Employment and Industrial Relations with regard to this matter. We will determine eligibility on the advice that we receive from it with regard to whether those employees are participants in a strike or have withdrawn their labour and are voluntarily unemployed.
– I address a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs. I refer the Minister to the newly published Amnesty International report on Indonesia, which gives details of the relatively unchanging patterns of political imprisonment without trial in Indonesia. Does the Minister agree that the Government of the Republic of Indonesia has moved far too slowly in releasing the political prisoners- totalling up to 100,000- currently held without trial, despite polite but firm representations by other governments friendly with Indonesia? Will the Minister make a statement on this issue in accordance with the Australian Government’s expressed support for human rights internationally?
-I can recall putting down answers to questions on this matter on previous occasions on behalf of my colleague. Interestingly enough, I did hear of this report this morning by a strange coincidence. I was in a Commonwealth car in which the radio was tuned into the quarter to eight news and, much to my horror, I had to listen to a news bulletin. The news reader was over-talking me as I was trying to discuss the weather and other important things with the driver. In fairness to the Indonesian Government I should say that, as I recall the bulletin, it denied the accuracy of the figure of 100,000 and said that it was in fact about 30,000 and that it was releasing political prisoners at a reasonably rapid rate. I did hear the figure 30,000 mentioned. All honourable senators know of Senator Missen ‘s very keen interest in Amnesty International and his support for it. I will certainly ask my colleague in the other place if we may have a definitive statement on the current situation in that country.
– I ask the Attorney-General whether he is aware of the hardship and injustice arising from long delays currently experienced by litigants in the Australian Capital Territory Supreme Court. Does he know, for example, that as of 17 October 1977, 75 civil cases were ready for hearing but had not been given a hearing date in that Court? Does he know that persons have spent up to four months in custody before being brought to trial? What steps has he taken, or will he take, to amend the Australian Capital Territory Supreme Court Act to allow for the appointment of additional judges and to appoint sufficient judges to the Court to prevent the delays currently being experienced?
– I am aware of the problems faced by the Supreme Court of the Australian Capital Territory. I do not dispute the statistics quoted by the honourable senator; indeed, I cannot actually confirm or deny them. However, there is certainly delay. The problem has been brought about by a combination of factors, the major one being that the Chief Judge of the Supreme Court, Mr Justice Fox, has been occupied with the Ranger inquiry for a considerable period. As has always been the policy, it was hoped that other judges of the Federal Court would be available to assist in such circumstances. Mr Justice Brennan, the President of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, who resides in Canberra, was expected to have more time available than he has had. Because of the increasing work load of the Tribunal, it has not been poss.ible for him to devote time to the Supreme Court.
The Prime Minister announced when the appointment of Mr Justice Fox as AmbassadoratLarge was made that his position on the Supreme Court would be filled. Mr Justice Fox has now announced his intention of actually resigning from the Court, so there is no need to amend the Act to create a new position. A position will be available upon his resignation and I propose to take action to fill it as soon as a judge can be found. In the meantime Mr Justice Joske, who has always given a good deal of his time to the Court and who was to have retired on 3 1 October 1977, has agreed to postpone his retirement until the end of the year. He will be available in the interim to assist the Court. I am grateful that he has been prepared to do so because it is not reasonable to expect that a judge to replace Mr Justice Fox permanently will be found immediately. Doubtless it will be some weeks before that can take place.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations whether he has seen in a Tasmanian newspaper the headline ‘Rebel Works Alone’. Is the Minister aware that the socalled rebel is a young 19-year-old apprentice who has chosen not to join a certain union because he believes it is contrary to the terms of his agreement as an apprentice, and that his big brave fellow unionists have refused to work with him or to work with any equipment he touches? Can the Minister apply any pressure to the Tasmanian Premier to stop this type of bullying and to assist this young man to carry out his agreement as an apprentice?
-Senator Walters had drawn my attention to this problem but I have not had an opportunity to investigate the matter fully. I will do so, and I will also refer the matter to the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations. However, I would like to add that the Government for some time has been very concerned about, and has had very clear policies in relation to a person who on conscientious grounds refuses to join a union. It is certainly a matter of great concern to the Government. The Government is opposed entirely to the situation where pressures, of whatever kind and from whatever source, may be brought to bear on workers who have an objection such as that. The Government already had indicated in legislation which was brought into this Parliament in the previous session that it proposes to take action in regard to these matters. At present the Government is considering legislation to deal with a situation such as has been revealed by the facts that Senator Walters has brought to my notice.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs whether he is aware that minimal increases in some pensions paid to veterans has placed many single or widowed ex-servicemen and women in a situation in which all fringe benefits have been eliminated. Is the Minister aware that as a result of this policy serious hardship and suffering have been caused to many people, particularly in the older age bracket? Finally, I ask: Does the Government intend to make any adjustment to rectify the situation?
– I am not sure what particular pension or pensions Senator Keeffe has in mind in his question. He referred to minimal increases in repatriation pensions. I should like to point out to him and to the Senate that major repatriation pensions have been fully indexed in accordance with movements in the consumer price index in the same way as social security pensions have been fully indexed. The Budget brought down this year, of course, continues that policy. It is not only a matter of a policy enunciated in each Budget. At this time last year the Government introduced legislation to provide for the automatic indexation of these pensions. I was Minister for Veterans’ Affairs at that time and I had the privilege of introducing that legislation which passed through the Parliament. The major repatriation pensions are automatically adjusted every six months in accordance with movements in the consumer price index. The Government certainly has no policy to change that in any way. If Senator Keeffe has some other specific matters in mind, if he gives me details of them I will refer them to the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Education. I refer to a speech made yesterday by the Leader of the Opposition in another place about the Federal Government’s excellent education policies. I ask: Can the Minister say what are the threats to the independence of the Schools Commission and whether the Government’s federalism policy will operate to throw the responsibility for government schools back to the States?
-As I perused the text of the speech of the Leader of the Opposition reported in the media I was struck by the fact that this must be the most unique case of political amnesia, even for the present Leader of the Opposition. The Leader of the Opposition has a very simple formula. If he wants to forget something he hopes that it will go away, just as his party hopes that he will. I want to draw upon his own Labor Premier colleague, Mr Neilson, the Premier of Tasmania, with regard to guidelines because, as I read it yesterday, the text of Mr Whitlam ‘s claim was that prescriptive guidelines were bad and should not occur. I simply draw from the official Budget documents of the Neilson Government which state under ‘Education Grants’:
In August 197S the Commonwealth announced that 1976 would be treated as a year outside the normal triennial progression. The Commonwealth Government laid down certain criteria to be followed by the four education commissions in determining the 1976 program. The criteria were:’
Recurrent expenditure in 1976 was to be at a level that would maintain standards at the 1 975 level.
There was to be no increase in the proportion of the relevant age group going on to university.
New initiatives were to be deferred.
Is that not a prescriptive guideline?
For its sins, my Government is guilty of prescribing the spending of some $5m out of $57 1 m. The other $566m is free to be distributed by the Schools Commission. Here was total prescription. That is evidence No. 1 of major political amnesia. Secondly, when the Leader of the Opposition talks of political elitism and accuses us of it, may I remind the Labor Party that when in Government it kept technical and further education for the 750,000 under-privileged students of Australia in what it considered to be its proper place- in isolation- and without any equality with universities and colleges. To show our view in the egalitarian approach to education, we brought it under a Tertiary Education Commission, increased the percentage of spending upon it, and in fact we have demonstrated equality of opportunity in a meaningful and purposeful way, which we will continue to do.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Science. Has the Government given any serious consideration to proposals that agricultural products can be developed as sources of energy? Does the Minister acknowledge that power alcohol is feasible from sugar cane and has he had brought to his attention the theses of Mr Mollison of the Tasmanian University that other agricultural production, given further study and funds, can be converted as energy sources? Will the Minister advise what efforts have been made by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation to develop these propositions and has the Government allocated sufficient funds to assist in such research, which could ultimately materially boost the rural sector?
– This is something of a Dorothy Dix question because I have a very large answer available. On a previous occasion the honourable senator raised the possibility of waste from sugar cane being used to obtain power alcohol. Funds from CSIRO are used by the Sugar Research Institute in Queensland, which has looked into this matter. In a number of areas CSIRO is looking into the use of certain waste products from different sources for the production of energy. It has been the practice of the Organisation to publicise the work it has done. I think that I have put down a paper on this subject previously in the Senate. I will get some further information for the honourable senator.
– I inform the Senate that I have received the following letter dated 19 October 1977 from Senator Wriedt:
In accordance with Standing Order 64 I give notice that today I shall move that, in the opinion of the Senate, the following is a matter of urgency:
The implications of certain land dealings in Victoria for Federal funding of State activities.
Yours sincerely, K. S. WRIEDT
Is the motion supported?
More than the number of Senators required by the Standing Orders having risen in their places-
– I move:
That in the opinion of the Senate the following is a matter of urgency:
The implications of certain land dealings in Victoria for federal funding of State activities.’
On Monday, 16 July 1973, the Victorian Cabinet took a decision which may eventually put it out of office. On that day, Cabinet authorised the Victorian Housing Commission to purchase large areas of land in Pakenham, Sunbury and Melton with a view to making the Commission a large public developer of land in satellite towns on the fringe of Melbourne. This decision had its genesis in a desire on the part of the Victorian Government to refuse to co-operate with the then Federal Labor Government in the establishment of a land commission in Victoria. To head off the establishment of such a commission, the Victorian Government launched the Housing Commission on a spectacular buying spree. At this stage, it is not known whether the Victorian Cabinet was aware at the time of that decision of the rather strange relationships which the Housing Commission had formed with certain developers, financiers and real estate agents about which I will be saying more-
- Mr President, I rise to take a point of order. It is already clear that Senator Wriedt proposes to discuss the deliberations of a particular Board of Inquiry and the matters that are before that Board of Inquiry. As part of the point of order I raise, I want to read the terms of reference of that Board of Inquiry. The terms are:
All aspects of and matters arising from the land purchased by the Housing Commission at Pakenham, Sunbury and Melton in the years 1973 and 1974 and the proposed development of the land so purchased and in particular to report in each case:
The second matter for the Board of Inquiry to consider is this:
Whether the procedures and methods employed and the practices observed in relation to the purchase of land by the Housing Commission are adequate and whether any and what new procedures, methods and practices should be introduced and adopted in relation thereto.
That Board of Inquiry is now sitting and calling evidence. It is dealing with the matters which the Leader of the Opposition has already indicated are matters which he is advancing on and wishes to debate in the Parliament today. The power of a board of inquiry in Victoria is even stronger than the power of a royal commission. It is almost equivalent to the power of a royal commission except that it may go beyond that. A board of inquiry is not restricted to the powers granted under the Evidence Act. The matters which can be put to the witnesses are not restricted to just the questions that can be asked in a court. A board of inquiry can inquire even more widely. That Board is now inquiring, calling witnesses to deal with the question of the purchase of land during the period which Senator Wriedt has already indicated- the years 1973 and 1974. My point of order specifically is based upon the fact that it should not be for the Senate at this time to enter into a discussion of the questions which are now matters at issue before a board of inquiry. I specifically want to refer to matters which are raised under this question-
– Order! I have heard sufficient from the honourable senator. The question I must decide is, I think, whether this debate is likely to interfere with the course of justice. Having heard your arguments and your references in your point of order, Senator Missen, I am not satisfied, at this stage at any rate, that this matter will interfere with the course of justice. I therefore should like the debate to proceed. I call Senator Wriedt.
– Speaking to another point of order, Mr President, I had not yet adverted to the reasons for my point of order and to the rulings which have been given a number of times in the Senate and in the other place which I submit do relate to this matter. I have not yet advanced my arguments on those matters.
– I felt that the honourable senator was outlining the background of his
Point of order. I think that at this stage it would e rather premature for me to stop the debate. I should like to hear the Leader of the Opposition continue his speech for the time being, bearing in mind your point, Senator Missen.
-Thank you, Mr President. One of the curious features of the Victorian Cabinet decision to which I referred earlier was that it contravened normal practice. In purchases by the Housing Commission the usual course followed was to obtain approvals for the purchases from the Housing Commission and the Treasurer. Normally such matters did not go before the Cabinet. On this occasion, not only were the general principles decided upon by the Cabinet, but also Cabinet reached certain decisions about the land to be purchased.
– How do you know that?
-I can understand the tension on the Government benches at this very moment. Following the Cabinet’s decision, the Minister for Housing, Mr Vance Dickie, directed the Commission to buy land at Sunbury which was owned by Lensworth Finance (Victoria) Pty Ltd, to develop land which the Commission had previously bought at Pakenham -
- Mr President, I seek to raise the same point of order as my friend Senator Missen raised.
– That point of order has been determined, Senator Lewis.
-With respect, Mr President-
– Are you challenging my ruling? I call Senator Wriedt.
– I raise a different point of order, Mr President.
-Thank you, Mr President. In each of these cases -
– Order! A further point of order has been raised.
– The point of order I raise, relates to Standing Order 418, which states:
No Senator shall use offensive words against either House of Parliament or any Member of such House, or of any House of a State Parliament, or against any Statute, unless for the purpose of moving for its repeal, and all imputations of improper motives and all personal reflections on Members shall be considered highly disorderly.
Senator Wriedt has already made reference to the behaviour of a Minister of the Crown in Victoriaa member of a House in the State of Victorianamely, the Hon. Vance Dickie. He therefore is in contravention of that Standing Order. Quite apart from the other matters which I have not yet been able to raise, he has now made a criticism against the Cabinet in Victoria, which consists of members of the Houses of the Parliament in Victoria and, in particular, against the Hon. Vance Dickie, who is a Minister. He has already made imputations against that Minister. I ask you to rule accordingly, Mr President.
-Speaking to the point of order, Mr President, firstly I say in response to Senator Missen, who has raised the point of order, that it is quite obvious that he, as a Victorian senator, does not want me to proceed. He does not want this matter to be dealt with in this Parliament -
– Certainly not.
– I am sure he does not because he possibly knows, as others do, what will eventually come out of the whole matter as far as members of his own Party are concerned. In my reference to Housing Minister Dickie, I cast no personal reflection on him at all; I simply said that he directed the Commission to do a certain thing. That in no way contravenes the Standing Order to which he just referred. I suggest, Mr President, that you might be mindful of that when you give your ruling.
– I am very much aware of the meaning and requirement of Standing Order 418. 1 shall insist that no reflection be cast on a member of another parliament or of this Parliament, or against any house of parliament. At this time I will not uphold the point of order as raised. I call on Senator Wriedt to continue.
– In each of the cases to which I have referred there was a common thread. The land was not zoned for urban purposes and, in most cases, it was downright unsuitable. The upshot of these decisions was that the Housing Commission, on the instruction of its Minister, embarked upon a $10m buying spree which resulted in the Commission acquiring tracts of land which were virtually useless for its purposes and which left large profits in the hands of a key group of developers and agents. At the very best these transactions could be described as a total misuse of public moneys. At the very worst they may be the tip of the iceberg, involving a series of transactions designed to divert public moneys into the pockets of certain people in Melbourne.
- Mr President, I raise a further point of order. I submit that clearly Senator Wriedt is referring to members of the Victorian Cabinet and, in particular, to Mr Dickie. He is now saying ‘at best’ or ‘at worst’. Either of those two alternative allegations are offensive, I submit, to members of the Victorian Government. These matters are before the board of inquiry at which the Victorian Premier has said the Ministers concerned will be giving evidence. They have not given evidence. This is an attempt to pre-judge the issue. In relation to both points of orders which I have raised, I submit that the honourable senator should not be allowed to continue in this way.
- Mr President, I wish to speak to the point of order. It is not clear what the point of order is at this stage. I do not know whether Senator Missen is again relying on the sub judice point on which you have already ruled or whether he is relying on Standing Order 418. There is a certain element of ‘if the cap fits wear it’ in this matter. What Senator Wriedt said was that large amounts of money had been channelled into private pockets in Victoria. Senator Missen, in his eagerness to identify those pockets as not being those of Ministers of the Government, instantly rose to his feet. Senator Wriedt has not cast any imputation in what he has said in the last five minutes on any Minister in the Victorian Government. It was cast only by implication in the remarks which Senator Missen made. You have already ruled on the sub judice matter. I would have thought that discussion on that was closed until you again opened it up. If it is to be opened up I would like to speak to that point too.
- Mr President, may I clarify your ruling on a point of order? I think I am entitled to do that. As I understand it, you indicated that you would listen to find out whether the guidelines which Senator Missen indicated and which were given to us in the previous rulings were being infringed. Inevitably it is proper, therefore, for members of the Senate to rise in their place and ask you whether the immediate past statements made by the Leader of the Opposition so infringed. I remind you, Mr President, that the Leader of the Opposition has referred specifically to the three land dealings which are before the judicial inquiry. He has said that these will reveal what amounts to a scandal of a major proportion. In other words, he is prejudging. I ask you to reflect whether the situation has now come to a stage where your ruling needs to be invoked.
– As I said to Senator Missen in the first instance, I will hear further before I make any firm ruling beyond the ruling which I gave earlier. I say right now that the Leader of the Opposition should relate his remarks to the area of ministerial responsibility which is the federal funding of moneys. I would be grateful if the honourable senator uses that basis. I take the wording of the matter of urgency to be acceptable because it is within an area of ministerial responsibility, and that is federal funding. That is an important part of the motion. I would be glad, Senator Wriedt, if you would connect your remarks to those areas which immediately relate to the motion and which are within the province of this chamber to discuss.
-Mr President, I appreciate your ruling and your words of advice. I point out that the urgency motion states:
The implications of certain land dealings in Victoria for federal funding of State activities.
I suggest it is obviously necessary for me to set out the case and circumstances under which moneys of the Federal Government are involved. It is quite impossible, I suggest with great respect, to advance to the stage of federal funding of State activities unless I set out the background to the matter and also the manner in which the Commonwealth became involved.
– May I interrupt? In assessing this matter Standing Order 418 comes into the picture extremely strongly. It is that Standing Order which must be observed. We all are aware of the words of that Standing Order. I call on the honourable senator to resume his speech.
- Mr President, in relation to the matter which you have just raised, I specifically draw your attention to the words of the motion. It quite fascinates me because it does not mention federal funding of land dealings. It talks about land dealings for federal funding.
– What is the point of order?
– You are only taking up time.
- Senator Lewis, please state your point of order.
- Mr President, I ask you to apply your mind to what Senator Wriedt has said in relation to the words you last used about federal funding.
– I indicated a few moments ago that the area of ministerial responsibility is embraced in the words ‘federal funding’. That makes this motion one which can be discussed here. I remind the honourable senator that Standing Order 418 must be honoured properly.
-Mr President, I would appreciate some protection from you. I appreciate your rulings. I am given 30 minutes in which to speak in this urgency debate. Half of that time has gone already because of so-called points of order which, in effect, are deliberate attempts to prevent these matters from being raised in the Parliament. I shall proceed as far as I am permitted to do so. As I have indicated, the three series of transactions at Sunbury, Pakenham and Melton had a common thread in them. In each case the Minister was directly involved either in the selection of the land or in the conditions under which it was to be valued. In each case the land neither had the appropriate zoning nor was suitable for the purposes of the Commission. In each case the land was valued far in excess of what would be a reasonable valuation under the circumstances. In each case a number of firms and organisations were involved. They included Lensworth Finance and its joint venture partner Greg Kean and real estate agent Moore.Williams in which Mr Kean has a one-third interest. A Dandenong real estate agent -
- Mr President, I raise a point of order. You should direct your attention to the fact that the honourable senator is now dealing with a judicial matter which is under inquiry in the Victorian Parliament.
-Mr President, may I speak to that point of order? Today the Victorian Parliament is debating this matter. If it is sub judice here why should it not be sub judice there?
- Mr President, speaking to the point of order, I draw your attention to a statement made by Sir William Aston who, of course, was the Speaker of the House of Representatives. In September 1969 he was asked about a number of principles which were involved in the sub judice rule. Two of those principles are highly relevant to this point of order. The third principle was -
– What, in another House?
– Yes, in another House. But the honourable senator might realise that this also applies to the Westminster system of government. I think it is highly useful to this chamber and to the whole Parliament. The third principle which Sir William espoused was this:
If it is not inconsistent with fundamental rights and duties, the House should avoid setting itself up as an alternative forum or body of inquiry or permit its proceedings to interfere in the course of justice.
The fourth point is:
Apart from particular matters such as criminal cases, court martials, civil cases and matters referred by a legislature to a judicial body, the rule has application to other hearings, inquiries or investigations in which the rights of individuals or a community group or the achievement of justice may be prejudiced.
I submit that the rights of a Minister of the Crown, about whom matters have already been alleged so many times and remarks made about valuation and so on, should be protected. These allegations have not been proved in any way. These matters are all the subject of the Victorian investigation. This is an attempt by the Opposition to prejudge and to damage a person’s credit- a person who has not yet had a chance to appear before that board in Victoria. It is disgraceful, I suggest, that Senator Wriedt should be permitted to continue in this way.
– On the point of order, I support and adopt what Senator Missen has said about the correct approach to the sub judice rule. I refer you, Mr President, to the terms of reference of the Board of Inquiry. I take up the point that Senator Button made when he raised a point of order some little time ago. He made the point that Senator Wriedt had not said that money went into the pockets of a Minister but he had said that large sums of money went into the pockets of private individuals. One of the terms of reference of the inquiry being conducted by Sir Gregory Gowans is: All aspects of and matters arising from land purchased by the Victorian Housing Commission at Packenham, Sunbury and Melton in the year 1973-74 and the proposed development of the land so purchased, and in particular to report in each case.
This is the point to which I wish to refer you, Mr President: The terms of reference also say whether any person was guilty of any impropriety, breach of law or duty, negligence or an act of dishonesty in relation thereto’. I submit that the statements that have already been made by Senator Wriedt clearly come within that reference and are within the ruling of Sir William Aston which was quoted earlier.
– If I might speak on the point of order, first let me explain to the Senate that the Board of Inquiry in Victoria is not a court. The inquiry was appointed under the Victorian Evidence Act with terms of reference that Senator Tehan has referred to in part. It has been suggested by a number of Government senators that because this matter is in the purview of the inquiry no aspect vaguely associated with it should be allowed to be discussed in the Senate. If necessary I am happy to refer the Senate to May’s Parliamentary Practice and the splendid book by Odgers, Australian Senate Practice which contain references to this matter. I will read passages from them. If I might just distill the position as it is put in May’s Parliamentary Practice, it is simply this: A matter is sub judice if it is a criminal matter when criminal proceedings are in fact under way- that is, when a charge has been laid. If Senator Missen doubts that I will refer him to May’s Parliamentary Practice in a moment. The second matter relates to civil proceedings. A matter is sub judice if in civil proceedings the matter has in fact been set down for trial.
Neither of those circumstances is in any way related to the matter under discussion, unless Senator Missen has some apprehension on behalf of his colleagues in Victoria which I have not heard about. There has been no suggestion of criminal proceedings and certainly no charges have yet been laid. Certainly there have been no civil proceedings and it has never been suggested that there is any likelihood that there will be civil proceedings. So in relation to both of those matters it is submitted that the point of order raised by Senator Missen just does not stand up. I will refer the Senate to May’s Parliamentary Practice on this very question later. First of all, I refer the Senate to page 250 of the Australian Senate Practice, Fifth Edition, by Odgers. There the learned Clerk under the heading ‘Sub judice matters ‘says:
The general rule is that matters still under adjudication in a court of law-
In a court of law, and that would involve, of course, criminal proceedings in which a charge has been laid or civil proceedings have been set down for hearing- cannot be brought forward in debate, but the public interest-
Note the words ‘but the public interest’- may be held to prevail over the sub judice doctrine.
That is to say, even if proceedings have been commenced in a court of law, which is not the case here. Odgers continues:
In this respect an oft-quoted decision is that of Sir Frederick Jordan, the then Chief Justice of New South Wales, in ex parte Bread Manufacturers Ltd; Re Truth and Sportsman Ltd and another.
The Clerk goes on to cite a passage from that decision. I do not know whether I would weary the Senate by reading that passage but I refer you, Mr President, to it and I refer the Senate also to
May’s Parliamentary Practice at page 427 of the 19th edition.
– I must say in respect of the point of order that the general rule is that the Chair will not allow references to matters which are under adjudication in the courts if such references may prejudice a fair trial. At this point I feel that we should allow Senator Wriedt to continue his speech. It is a matter of fine judgment. There is no Standing Order specifically directed to this matter; it is a matter of practice. It would be a shame if the Parliament were to be denied an ability to debate certain matters. The important point is that in no way should any person before a court be prejudiced through discussion in this place. We should honour that practice in this place. I ask Senator Wriedt to continue his remarks.
– I raise a further point of order. The matter under discussion is not a question of a criminal proceeding. It is a matter of a board of inquiry. Obviously Senator Button misheard what I said before. Nobody has suggested that this Board of Inquiry is an inquiry under the Evidence Act in Victoria.
– The honourable senator is again on his feet and he is canvassing your ruling, Mr President.
– You have given a ruling and now he is on his feet again on the same point of order.
– No. It is another point of order, as he has indicated.
– I am taking a point of order.
– Please state your point of order.
– I will. The point is that this subject matter is not a criminal proceeding but that is not where the matter of sub judice begins and ends. I have already read out the statement in which Mr Speaker Aston dealt with the question. In addition to that, because it does not apply just to criminal matters- and Senator Button will know this- let us recall what Mr Speaker Cope, whose words may be more attractive to Senator Button, said about this on 1 8 September 1974. He ruled that the discussion of any matter within the terms of reference of a royal commission would be an infringement of the sub judice rule. He stated that his ruling was supported by past rulings; that it was not in order to discuss the proceedings of a royal commission or matters coming before it; and that the Chair would be failing in its duty if it allowed any discussion about matters which had been deliberately handed to a commission for investigation.
There is no difference between a royal commission and a board of inquiry except that a board of inquiry has greater powers. That was the matter I mentioned before. Therefore, on occasions public interest must outweigh these considerations but there is nothing in this matter of public interest which would call upon this Parliament, this House, to sit in judgment on something on which a highly qualified former judge of the Supreme Court of Victoria has to hear all the evidence and make a decision. Unfortunately, we are getting from Senator Wriedt his own judgment of what are the facts which are to be judged by a man of great eminence in Victoria. Therefore, I submit that it goes beyond a criminal matter; it goes to royal commissions and other matters. Should Senator Wriedt be allowed to proceed it will prejudice the rights and justice of people in Victoria.
- Senator Missen claims that it might prejudice certain rights. This whole debate no doubt will prejudice the Liberal Party, I think, in time in Victoria. I ask you, Mr President: How long are you going to permit points of order to be taken? I have two minutes left in which to speak in this debate. In other words, the Government- the Liberal Party and the National Country Party- has achieved its objective. It has muzzled me.
– Hear, hear!
-Hear, hear! as Senator Webster says. That is exactly his line, always: Muzzle the people who have a different point of view to his. Mr President, are you going to continue to accept these points of order which are designed not to canvass whether this matter is sub judice but to prevent the Opposition bringing these facts before the Parliament?
– The chamber is master of its own destinies. If a point of order is raised, in my position as Presiding Officer I must hear argument in respect to it. I cannot deny points of order without hearing them. If they are based properly on a Standing Order, argument should prevail on them. That is the situation as I see it. I shall repeat that I should like the Leader of the Opposition to continue his speech bearing in mind that it is a matter of judgment as to whether the trial of any person or persons will be prejudiced by discussions in the Parliament. It is up to us as a responsible body to do our utmost to ensure that that does not occur.
– I have only half a minute left. It is pointless my continuing the speech. I hope it will be noted by the public and by the media that the matters I have raised here today are matters of public record. Honourable senators on the Government side are so ignorant in so many things that they do not even know what is on the public record. When they hear these matters raised in a collated form they get frightened and upset. They do not want the public to hear them in a collated form.
– Order! The honourable senator’s time has expired.
– I seek leave to move:
That Senator Wriedt be granted an extension of time of 25 minutes to enable him to continue his remarks.
– I would not agree to 25 minutes.
– The Government has taken up at least 20 minutes by taking points of order.
– I will agree to 10 minutes.
Motion (by Senator Douglas McClelland) -by leave- proposed:
That an extension of time of 20 minutes be granted to Senator Wriedt to enable him to complete his remarks on the urgency motion.
Amendment (by Senator Withers) proposed:
Leave out ‘ 20 ‘, insert ‘10’.
– There is justification for an extension of 25 minutes. Nevertheless, the Government would not agree to it. It would have been defeated. The Government is prepared to give an extension of 10 minutes. Senator Douglas McClelland has moved an extension of 20 minutes. I suggest that rather than have possibly two divisions on the question we settle for an extension of 15 minutes.
– I will settle for that. I seek leave of the Senate to amend my amendment to read ‘ 1 5 ‘ in lieu of ‘ 10 ‘. My amendment will now read:
Leave out ‘ 20 ‘, insert ‘ 1 5 ‘.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
Amendment, as amended, agreed to.
Original question, as amended, agreed to.
-I shall endeavour to pick up from where I left off. In view of the limited time I now have I indicate that there were other factors I should like to have gone through in the lead up to the comments I now wish to make. But it is obvious to anyone who takes any interest in this matter that remarkable things have occurred since 1973. The first public disclosure of these extraordinary transactions occurred in the middle of 1974. At that stage the full ramifications were not known but sufficient information was disclosed to indicate that something was wrong. The Senate will recall that at that stage the Federal Labor Government was offering sums of money to State housing commissions at low rates of interest in an attempt to boost the stock of public housing in Australia. Naturally, the discovery that some of these funds may have been grossly misused caused a considerable degree of concern in Canberra. The then Prime Minister sought to have the matter cleared up. He was quickly rebuffed by Premier Hamer. Mr Hamer insisted that the Commonwealth was not involved because the money was Victorian money and had nothing to do with the low interest funds being advanced by the Commonwealth for housing purposes. This was unsatisfactory to say the least. Such a response raised very serious questions about the role of the Commonwealth and the States in joint ventures such as housing commission activities. However, because of the attitude of the Victorian Premier, there was little the Commonwealth could do but protest about the situation and seek assurances from the Victorian Government in such matters.
As soon as the extraordinary transactions at Melton and Sunbury were exposed, the Premier jumped in to defend the Housing Commission. His response was that the State Government had done its darndest- his own words- to buy cheap housing commission land. He defended the purchases as being within the limits laid down by the Valuer-General. At that stage it was not clear whether Mr Hamer ‘s defence of the Commission was deliberate or simply based on his own ignorance of the facts. It is now common knowledge that these purchases involve the highest priced land ever bought at Melton and Sunbury. Even more extraordinary, the land cannot be used for the purpose for which it was originally intended. If that were the end of the story the matter would be serious enough in it itself. The Commonwealth would be reluctant to enter into arrangements with State governments in particular the Victorian Government, unless watertight arrangements were developed to ensure that the funds were not misused. However, it could be argued that this was one particular series of aberrations organised by a few grasping individuals for their own benefit who were fortunate enough to be in the right position at the right time. If that were the case the matter would not be quite as serious. However, there is a real fear that this network of dubious land dealings spread through the whole of the Victorian Government.
-I take a point of order. Within your earlier ruling, Mr President, the comments which Senator Wriedt has made in the last minute or so are scandalous.
– I interpret those remarks as being in contravention of Standing Order 4 1 8. They are a personal reflection on members of Parliament.
-I point out for the benefit of Liberal-National Country Party honourable senators opposite that on 23 October 1975 they referred to the continuing incompetence, evasion, deceit and duplicity of the then Prime Minister of this country. That was all right then, but when they are on the receiving end, those sorts of remarks are not good enough. When he first started publicly to voice his worries, Mr Doug Jennings, one of the recently expelled members of the parliamentary Liberal Party in Victoria, said: ‘People will start to think we are nothing but a bunch of crooks. Mr Jennings was, in fact, playing down the public reaction. A more common reaction among people in Melbourne who have some idea of what is going on is that they are convinced that the Victorian Government, or at least members of it, are up to their ears in some shady activities. The people of Melbourne have become so cynical about many of these matters that they have given up caring. One has only to probe marginally into this whole affair to get a very strong sense of impropriety on the part of certain individuals.
Following the initial disclosures on the Melton and Sunbury dealings, the Victorian Government took steps to sweep the whole matter under the carpet. Unfortunately, the story would not go away because more and more reports kept occurring. Strange incidents occurred from time to time such as the kidnapping of one of the developers involved. To try to stem the rising tide of public disquiet, the Victorian Government authorised limited investigations into these matters, seemingly with the deliberate intent that none of the true facts would be determined.
– Order! Senator Wriedt, you have said that it was done with the intent of the correct matters not coming forward and so on. There is an imputation therein which must be avoided.
– Very well, Mr President. I shall attempt to avoid statements like that further on. The rush of recent events -
-I rise to a point of order, Mr President. Surely the statement should be withdrawn. The Leader of the Opposition has said that he will endeavour to avoid doing that, but surely, in accordance with your ruling, he should withdraw those remarks. He also ought to apologise for making them.
-May I continue, Mr President?
– Yes, you may continue. In response to the point of order raised by Senator Missen, I have pointed out that there is a close interpretation in that regard. I am warning that if there is any further infringement of the type to which I have referred I shall immediately take action in the matter.
-Thank you, Mr President. This inquiry is limited strictly to the three specific Housing Commission dealings which have attracted so much publicity. There are, however, many people in Melbourne who believe that there are many other examples of strange land dealings which should be the subject of the inquiry. I shall refer to a couple of them. I refer firstly to the Westernport area. In an attempt to turn the Westernport area into Australia’s Ruhr, Premier Bolte entered into some arrangements with large corporation concerning the use of land in the Westernport area. Subsequently, the Westernport Regional Planning Authority was formed to prepare a planning scheme for the area. The first Chairman of that Authority was none other than Peter Leake, who has previously been mentioned in connection with the Melton land dealings. At that time, Mr Leake was not only Chairman of the Westernport Regional Planning Authority but also President of the Mornington Shire Council. He was also acting as a developer and used his position of authority to obtain what may be termed to be favourable zonings of his and his colleagues ‘ land. It was the activities of members of the Westernport Regional Planning Authority and the proposed schemes for the area which gave rise to the group known as the ‘Anti-planners’ led by Mr Doug Jennings. These people were convinced that Planning Ministers Hunt and Burns of the Victorian Government and possibly others were involved in land dealings.
– I rise to a point of order, Mr President. Allegations are now being made about a Minister of the Crown who is, as we know, to appear before this board of inquiry. I submit that the Leader of the Opposition should not be allowed to make those allegations in this Parliament.
-I wish to speak to the point of order, Mr President. I am not making any direct allegations. I am saying what other people have had to say.
– I indicate that the Leader of the Opposition may not quote that which he may not himself express or utter. That is an important aspect of the procedure, too. He cannot quote words which, under the Standing Orders or in accordance with the practice, should not be uttered in this place because they would be unparliamentary in any normal determination. It is not permissible to quote from a document that which embraces words that are unparliamentary. The Leader of the Opposition cannot quote those words just because they have been said by somebody else. He cannot quote that which it would be out of order for him to express as his own expression.
-An attempt was made to have Mr Hunt defeated in the 1973 election. Because of the pressure he was under, a group of people known as the ‘Friends of Alan Hunt’- I h ope that nobody takes objection to that; surely that is common knowledge- got together to put on a lavish campaign on Mr Hunt’s behalf. That group was organised by Mr Hunt’s campaign manager- none other than Peter Leake, who is a senior Liberal Party official in the Mornington Branch. I ask: Did the profits from these land dealings, or any of them, end up in the Liberal Party’s campaign funds to try to preserve in their positions the Ministers who were sympathetic to the developers? I think that is a legitimate question to ask in the circumstances.
Another notorious land transaction was the one known as the Mount Ridley project. In this case the developer-the T. and G. Mutual Life Society- proposed a development of 2,600 hectares of land at Mount Ridley which would have led to the creation of a mini-city of approximately 100,000 people. The main difficulty was that the zoning of this land meant that urban development was to be delayed indefinitely. One wonders how on earth the Victorian Government approved such a massive project, which completely conflicted with the Board of Works’ plan for Melbourne that was brought down in 1974. The answer presumably lies in the people who were involved. Once again the participants were Lensworth and its partner, Mr Greg Kean. Lensworth sold the land to T. andG., which had sufficient muscle to force the proposal through the Victorian Cabinet. Only public pressure has caused the Victorian Government to rethink that exercise.
Another recent attempt to benefit developers is a decision of the Victorian Government to allow Kaiser Aetna Australia Properties Ltd, a wholly owned subsidiary of the United States developer Kaiser Aetna, to develop rural buffer zoned land in the Lilydale area. Again pressure on the Victorian Government stopped that proposal from going ahead. After the Urban Land Council was finally established, the land purchases were handed over to the Housing Commission. As in the case of the land being considered by the inquiry, the Housing Commission appointed Dillon and Inkster and Greg Kean’s firm of Moore- Williams as the agents to arrange the purchase of the land. Under those circumstances, every purchase of Urban Land Council land must be viewed with some doubt.
The consequences for the Commonwealth are horrific. The Commonwealth makes large investments in the Victorian Housing Commission and made large investments in the Urban Land Council. In recent times an inquiry was set up to consider the role of the Chairman of the Board of Works because of his private land dealings. Until recently large sums of Federal moneys for sewerage were channelled into the Board of Works. Clearly it is not good enough to rely on the usual safety mechanism to protect the taxpayers’ funds. Of what value is an Auditor-General’s report under the conditions which applied in relation to the Housing Commission land? All the Auditor-General could do would be to certify that the funds were spent on the land and that the land is within the appropriate limits set by the Valuer-General. What the Auditor-General cannot tell us is that the values for the land were artificially inflated and that the Valuer-General was instructed to value the land on a false basis.
Very dubious things have obviously occurred in this case, but, as I said earlier, we have only seen the tip of the iceberg. There is an awful lot more to come. One has only to talk to people in Melbourne who know what is going on to realise how much more could be said. I am not prepared to say it because of the ruling you have given, Mr President. The Federal Government has decided that a better course of action is to allow the State governments more freedom, despite the facts and despite what we have already seen. It seeks to loosen the controls on Federal funds and to establish a system of block grants that will give the States freedom to do whatever they like. This course of action is justified allegedly on the basis that the local knowledge is far superior. In the case of Victoria that proposition cannot be doubted. The Victorian Government clearly knows what it is up to. It has demonstrated that it is an expert at milking the system and syphoning off the taxpayers’ money. The effect of loose controls on those activities has meant that a substantial amount of Federal funds has gone into the pockets of various people in the Melbourne area and possibly, as I said earlier, into the Liberal Party’s campaign funds. I suggest that these matters are not matters that this Parliament can overlook. All of these issues, which involve the expenditure of Federal money, ought to be the business of the Senate and, indeed, this Parliament.
I close my remarks by saying that I am appalled by the efforts which have been made on behalf of the Government by members of the Liberal Party on the other side of the chamber to prevent me from making this speech today, and by saying that at least -
-You have been given an extension of time.
– Just a minute; I have not finished. In closing I say that I respect the fairness of the Leader of the Government in the Senate, Senator Withers, in permitting me to have an extension of time for at least 1 S minutes.
– It is very rare to witness such a disgraceful thing as has occurred today as a result of endeavours by the Opposition-
– Have you forgotten August, September and October of 1975?
-Here come the catcalls.
– You are a disgrace to the Parliament.
– That is all right. You need not worry. I do not propose to take 30 minutes to speak on this matter. It does not deserve that much time. It is a waste of the Senate’s time and the time of those who are listening to the debate. It is very significant that the person who advances this today is not a senator from Victoria, whose senators one might expect to be concerned with matters relating to that State, but the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Wriedt), who is a Tasmanian and I am sure very familiar with the machiavellian methods of Labor there- one probably better fitted to speak on those aspects than is anyone else.
We have before us a motion, allegedly of urgency though no urgency has been shown, the subject of which is as follows:
The implications of certain land dealings in Victoria for federal funding of State activities.
Senator Wriedt skirted the border line, with many innuendoes of wrongdoing, of things which he could neither prove nor intended to prove. Apparently he thought that, in the course of his remarks, he could allow a certain amount of dust to fly, hoping that people would believe the allegations.
The significant and deceptive thing about this motion is that it is not really about Federal funding; indeed, there was barely any reference to it. If it were, one might have heard some reference made to Federal funding in those areas by the Labor Government, about some of its own land purchases and so forth. Perhaps some of my colleagues will deal with that matter, because it is of relevance to Federal funding. What is not relevant is this deceptive motion, which speaks of ‘the implications of certain land dealings in Victoria for federal funding . . .’
We have in Victoria a board of inquiry which the Premier of that State, upon hearing allegations that might suggest wrong doing on the part of government employees or others, appointed and placed under the chairmanship of a former judge of the Supreme Court, Mr Justice Gowans, a man of impeccable judgment and long respected in the Victorian community. He alone is m a position to hear all the evidence. As the Premier has said, Ministers against whom allegations or, shall we say, innuendoes have been directed will come before the board and tell it of dealings regarding land purchases in Victoria with which they were concerned. They have that right, just as has any other citizen, to be heard rather than be sneered at in this House or any other House of Parliament, as has been done today by Senator Wriedt.
Knowing the wide terms of reference of that board, which I have read to the Senate, one knows that these matters will be properly dealt with in a judicial way in the course of time and after hearing all the evidence; that there will then be a report to the Victorian Government which will be seen by the people of Australia; and that we will then know what the facts are. It is not for Senator Wriedt to set himself up as some petty little judge to tell us things that he thinks are facts because he has read them in a newspaper or somewhere else.
As I have said, the deceptive wording of this motion is such that we should regard it with considerable contempt. It is, of course, quite wrong to prejudge individuals, whether Ministers of the Crown in another State or ordinary citizens, using parliamentary privilege in this way and trying to make stick allegations which, at most, seem to be mere insinuations that have been made in evidence before the board and by certain persons in Victoria.
One would think that this motion dealt with Federal funding and would have expected to hear something about the way in which such funds had been applied. It was said that the money was distributed through the Housing Commission. Of course, it was not; the money was given to the State Government to distribute. I do not know of any allegations- established here to the satisfaction of this Government or the previous Government- that have suggested misapplication of that money. If there were allegations, one would expect to find them in the report of our Auditor-General, but there we find nothing but references to minor malpractice and mistakes. We find no suggestions of the nature that we have heard of today.
Today we have a system of co-operative federalism under which the States are more than ever responsible for the allocation of funds. If, in fact, any allegations are established by this inquiryand senators will recall that its terms of reference include the way in which the Housing Commission operates and the making of practical proposals- those facts will be before the Victorian Government and will no doubt be dealt with successfully by it. Certainly, it is not for this House, or for members of the Opposition, who obviously have no particular knowledge that has been revealed to us, to suggest what should be done.
I do not propose to go into the various snide suggestions that were made by the honourable senator. It is terribly important that we in this Parliament should not allow to go unanswered the attempt to allege that something is not properly being done about the allegations in Victoria The Government of that State has taken the one proper course available to it, that of appointing a board of inquiry with all the powers necessary to investigate these matters and therefore to determine whether there are inefficiencies or other problems associated with land dealings over the years.
What is significant about this motion is its purpose, and why the Opposition, following its usual practice on Wednesday when the Senate is on the air, has determined to talk about land dealings. After all, this board of inquiry has been going for many months. The land dealings, if those are of concern, have been going on over a period of years. One might ask why on earth the Opposition should want today to raise these particular matters. The purpose, obviously, is to distract attention from the reality of the suffering in the State of Victoria. People in that State know that the power strike continues, know that they are suffering and know that they in their thousands are out of work because of the determination of a small gang of thugs- as they have been properly described by the leaders in Victoria- to have their own way.
– Not white collar thugs though.
– There is not much point in replying to the honourable senator about this because, one might ask, is he an independent type of person in regard to this? Who rules him? Who rules the Australian Labor Party in Victoria? A number of left-wing unions! We know that he is supposed to represent the right wing in Victoria, or some 10 per cent of the membership of the ALP, and that he is in fact here, and can continue to be here, only at the sufferance of the left wing and therefore dare not cross them.
We have here a judgment to make- a determination as to who rules Victoria, who is going to determine the laws of Victoria, who is going to see that the decisions of tribunals are obeyed. At the moment we see in Victoria not the ALP ruling, or anything like that. We do not see even the unions ruling; we see the shop stewards in, of course, one part in the Latrobe Valley ruling. They are making up their own minds as to what is right, as to what should be paid to their members, and they are not going to accept the verdict of the tribunal, given after hearing all the evidence presented to it.
It is for this reason, to distract attention from the real suffering of the people of Victoria and the need for this Australian Government and the Victorian Government to use together all the powers available to them to determine that the rule of law shall prevail in Victoria, that people shall be entitled in that State to use the essential services which they need, that this motion has been moved.
We know of the millions and millions of dollars that have been lost in recent weeks. Such losses will, unfortunately, continue for a while. These are, of course, important matters which concern the public of Victoria and of Australia. We all, wherever we are, suffer as a result of such loss. It is a complete loss to the economy, one which will never be made up. Despite this enormous loss facing the people of Australia, the Opposition has had the nerve to come before us and try to do a double take. It wants to tell us how the board of inquiry ought to operate.
Senator Wriedt, perhaps with a couple of acolytes who will follow him today, wants to determine these things and to substitute the subject matter of his motion, while the proceedings are being broadcast, for another matter which is of the greatest importance to the people of Australia. It would be quite wrong for me to go into the details and to try to follow Senator Wriedt in the few allegations he has made. It would be just as improper for me to do that as it was for Senator Wriedt to make these allegations. It is not my province nor am I in any position to do it. What I want to say to the Parliament briefly is this: We have before us a disgraceful example of an irresponsible Opposition- an Opposition that does not rule itself, of course, and which does not even seem to be ruled by the unions, now. It seems to be ruled by a few people down in the Valley who are determining what shall be the future of the people of Victoria. No government in this country can stand for that. The law must be obeyed and the law must be seen to be capable of standing up to the stresses placed on it.
These are the matters, that are of the greatest significance to the people of Australia. The people know that in Victoria there is a government which has the integrity and ability to recognise that when there are complaints there ought to be a proper method of investigation- not carried out by some junta, by some little group or by some opposition in the Federal Parliament. It should be carried out by a board of inquiry under a proper and respected man who will investigate these complaints and hear all the evidence. Let that material be out; that is where it should be. Let us not waste the time of the Parliament here by listening to the unsubstantiated allegations we have heard today. I do not propose to advance further into the arguments other than to say that I hope this chamber will reject this motion as unworthy of this House of the Parliament.
-My colleague Senator Missen tried to distract attention from the subject matter of this motion by talking about people on strike in the Latrobe Valley who are earning $140 a week. A company called Lensworth Finance Ltd earned $1.5m in 20 days in a land scandal in Victoria. These are the people whom Senator Missen comes here to protect. There are very real reasons why he comes here to protect them which I hope to go into at a later stage, if that is possible. When we are talking about the terminology of this motion we should bear in mind from the beginning that the current Budget appropriates $101m towards housing in Victoria in the current year and that level of expenditure has existed for many years. Senator Missen has given us a long lecture about why the Senate ought not to be entitled to hear the sorts of things which every Victorian is able to read in his newspapers and the sorts of things which have been the subject of frequent debates in the Victorian Parliament. Strange levels of sensitivity operate within the Liberal Party.
– We call it decency.
-Is that what you call it? Federal Liberal senators seemingly are less sensitive than their colleagues in the State Parliament in Victoria because they do not take sub judice points there. They do not seek to hide behind the fact that a land inquiry is being held by the Victorian Government. Why not? It is because they know in the Victorian Parliament that if they did that people would say: ‘You have something to hide’. That is what people would say in Victoria if State Liberal parliamentarians got up day after day and took points of order as we have heard in the Senate today. People in Victoria, because they know what is going on and because they have read their newspapers, would say: ‘You have something to hide’. Of course, that does not impinge upon the views which have been put here in the Senate by people like Senator Missen. If one looks at the subject of this urgency motion one could discuss it completely without mentioning any matter which is the subject of the land inquiry in Victoria because in the lexicon of land scandals in Victoria names such as Mount Ridley, Patterson Lakes and Mornington Peninsula occur- all of which are matters of public concern and public discussion in Victoria- but which, unhappily, are not the subject of the inquiry which is being conducted in Victoria.
Let me go back to the subject of the specific wording of the motion. Of course, Senator Missen, it stems from a very real problem in Australian society- the sort of problem which you identify about the people in the Latrobe Valley on $ 140 a week and some of your friends whom you desire to protect here. It also stems from the fact that housing in this country, because of the geographical circumstances of six large urban complexes, has always been a difficult problem for all governments, State and Federal. It is of concern to governments in terms of funding and it is of concern to the Australian people in terms of what they get in the way of delivery of service by governments. It is of concern to thousands of people in Victoria who are on low incomes and have been waiting for housing commission homes. They have been opening their newspapers daily and seeing that land speculators have been getting profits of $3m or $4m out of certain deals. The homes are just not there and none of the land which has been the subject of the speculation has in fact been developed for home purposes at this stage. It is a matter of real political concern. It is a matter which any responsible parliament ought to be concerned about and involved in. It is passing strange indeed to have members of this Parliament say that these are not matters of public interest and they are not matters of proper concern. I find it quite extraordinary.
– Who said that?
-Well, it is quite implicit in your points of order, Senator Missen. It is clear to anyone. It is only in the last few years that this problem has arisen. I should like to illustrate the nature of the problem in political terms, which ought to concern this Parliament. It arose in the early 1970s with the identification by the Labor Government of the fact that urban land was a key and essential component in high housing prices and with the development of the lands commissions program. I should like to give a simple example. In South Australia the lands commission program got into full swing. Partly for this reason and partly because of competence in government in South Australia- competence by governments of both political persuasionsthe price of urban land in South Australia is cheaper than in any other State. South Australia has the lowest public rental housing costs in any State in Australia and the lowest cost of purchase of public housing. All I can say about that is that it shows that in that State the taxpayers’ money, which is collected as a consequence of this Parliament’s activities, is well spent and that the government is delivering services to the community. I contrast that situation with the unhappy situation which one sees in my State of Victoria where the fact of the matter is that services are not being developed for the community. They are not being delivered to potential home buyers, home owners in Victoria. There is a variety of reasons for this but the two clear reasons are a lack of competence in government and the fact that taxpayers’ money has clearly not been well spent by, for example, the housing commission in Victoria. One can identify the problems in Victoria and they can be said to be simply these: There has not only been a chronic lack of planning in relation to development of urban services but also there have been distinct and sharp changes in direction in relation to planning proposals. For example, in 1972 the Minister, Mr
Hunt, announced a program of corridor development for Melbourne. In 1973, as a result of some magical insight which Mr Hunt had- we are not apparently able to discuss the details of it in the Senate- that proposal was changed very suddenly by a Cabinet decision. I refer the Senate to the September 1977 issue of the official journal of the Victorian Town and Country Planning Association. It states:
Of all the documents that have come to light as a result of the recent probes into the Housing Commission’s land dealings-perhaps none is more disturbing than that memo on the decision to buy large tracts of land- dated July 1 8 1973.
These are the essential extracts from that memorandum on the Victorian Government.
The Minister advised that he had called the meeting to confirm a direction given by Cabinet on Monday 16 July 1 973, concerning the establishment of the Commission -
That is the Housing Commission- as a land developing organ as a State alternative to the Commonwealth proposal concerning the establishment of Land Commissions.
It went on to announce a complete change in planning policy from corridor development for the city of Melbourne to satellite town development. It is a strange coincidence indeed that just at that time when the Minister made the changes in planning decisions a number of large land development companies moved into the field.
The first point about that memorandum is that while the South Australian Government was getting on with the job, with results in terms of land and housing prices which every Australian can now see, the Victorian Government for ideological reasons- that is the only way it can be described- was setting up a rival body, the Victorian Housing Commission, to purchase large tracts of land. It is a result of that decision and the decisions to change planning policy which had been enunciated very clearly a year before in 1973 by the Minister- a decision to change planning policy that was not the subject of any public discussion, which ought to lie at the base of all planning- that the sorry situation which is the subject of debate today has come about. In the first place, there is the chronic change in planning proposals. There is a chronic lack of planning, poor delivery of services to the community, and enormous rip-offs, publicly discussed in Victoria, by agents and land speculators. More significantly, there is the deep involvement of prominent members of the Liberal Party in the land dealings in question.
If one looks at the dramatis personae if I can call them that, in the Victorian land dealings in terms of involvement with the Liberal Party, the names which crop up are these: Peter Leake, one-time chairman of the Regional Planning Authority, president of the Mornington branch of the Liberal Party, campaign director to the Federal Treasurer, Mr Lynch, and involved in each of the speculations concerned; the company known as Lewis Land Corporation, donor of $100,000 to the Liberal Party in the last election campaign; Peter Stirling, a proprietor of Pinmore Pty Ltd, a company with $2 capital, which has been given a $100m development job by the Victorian State Government. Mr Peter Stirling will be well known to Alan Missen. He is probably a friend of Mr Hunt’s as well.
-Well and favourably known.
-Well and favourably known- I am interested to hear that and I am glad it is on the record because this matter will no doubt be debated again in this place. Mr Peter Stirling is a former adviser to the Premier of the State of Victoria, a member of the Liberal Party State Executive, and for some time a prominent land speculator in that State. So there are reasons for concern about the involvement of prominent members of the Liberal Party, and I carefully do not mention the names of any Ministers, Senator Missen, having regard to the terror with which I am inflicted by the Standing Orders of the Senate.
– I would hope it would be a matter of decency rather than that.
– You speak of decency
– There is a new found sensitivity on the other side. These matters are of concern to the people of Victoria, and they are rightly of concern if one puts them in the context of the nature of some of the land dealings in question. Let me mention two to the Senate. In July 1973 the Victorian Housing Commission spent $2.4m, which originally came from taxpayers’ funds collected by the Federal Government, on 770 acres of land which four years earlier had been bought for $280,000. The land was in a corridor designated by the Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works as not for development. It was land which the State Rivers and Water Supply Commission described as being flood prone in the centre of the catchment area of a creek. It was land which the State Housing Minister, Mr Dickie, described as extremely reasonable in price, land which the Housing Commission could not afford to pass up. Needless to say, four and a half years later no houses have been built on that land.
One turns to the land at Sunbury. On 28 November 1973 a company called Lensworth
Finance Ltd bought 460 acres of rural land for $1.8m. Twenty days later it sold the land for $3.4m, a profit of about $1.5m in 20 days. According to the evidence before an expert State Government committee in Victoria- people Senator Missen said have eminent competence to determine these matters- the land was not suitable for housing. It was bought by the Housing Commission for housing and the report of the Victorian Valuer-General, who advised the Housing Commission on this matter, said that the land had been valued with prior knowledge of residential rezoning.
Those are matters which are surely of concern and, one would think, ought to be of concern to Senator Missen, who has lost interest in the debate but who was quite content to come here and talk about people in an industrial dispute who are earning $ 1 40 a week. If one looks at some of the other dealings the same sort of pattern emerges, the same type of involvement emerges. The sad fact is that in this place there is neither time nor apparently inclination on the part of the Government to allow these matters to be debated in great detail. When the present Prime Minister was elected I thought he talked about honesty in government as being an important factor. I hope that honourable senators on the government side will stick to that promise.
– I note that Senator Button dealt only with what is happening in Victoria in relation to the State Government. Not one word was said about the competence or incompetence of this Government in relation to the matter before the Senate. It seems inevitable that the Senate will face an urgency motion every Wednesday in the weeks in which it sits. This week is no exception. One would have thought that if the Opposition were fair dinkum, if it were going to discuss a question of urgency relating to the State of Victoria, we would have been discussing the implications of the disastrous strike which has afflicted the Latrobe Valley for the last nine weeks. But Senator Button castigated Senator Missen for even mentioning it. As I said last week in the urgency debate on the unemployment situation, the Opposition has its head in the sand if it thinks that what is happening on the industrial scene does not have a major and dramatic effect on the unemployment of youth. The Opposition still has its head in the sand in introducing a motion such as this today. However, in its judgment the Opposition has decided that the time of the Senate should be taken up with a motion in the following terms:
The implications of certain land dealings in Victoria for federal funding of State activities.
As has already been said an inquiry is proceeding in Victoria into Housing Commission land purchases. The inquiry is presided over by a distinguished retired Supreme Court Judge of that State, Sir Gregory Gowans, and there is still a great deal of evidence to be heard. The terms of reference have already been incorporated in Hansard. One would have thought that if the Opposition were really concerned about this matter it had an excellent opportunity to raise it yesterday when the Senate debated the States Grants (Housing Assistance) Bill. Under the terms of that legislation, an amount of $390m is being provided as advances for welfare housing under the Housing Agreement of 1973-74. Indeed, as the Minister for Education (Senator Carrick) said in his second reading speech, very substantial sums have been made available over the fiveyear period from 1973-74 to 1977-78 and the States will have received concessional interest rate advances totalling $ 1,734m for welfare housing.
However, there is an important point to remember in relation to the present debate. This is why I referred to the States Grants (Housing Assistance) Bill. The terms of the agreement, which forms part of the Schedule of the Housing Agreement Act 1973, under which this money is made available to the States set out specifically how this will be done. The money is made available to the States to meet the costs of acquisition and development of land primarily for residential purposes to meet the cost of construction of dwellings and to meet the cost of purchase, upgrading and renovation of dwellings, and so on. The point I make is that the terms under which the money is made available very definitely are set out in the legislation. There has been no suggestion today that this Federal Government in any way has breached the terms of that agreement under which that money was made available. My colleague Senator Missen has referred already to the Auditor-General’s report. I ask honourable senators: where in the Auditor-General’s report is there any suggestion of any impropriety or mismanagement by this Government in relation to the matter under discussion? Surely one would have expected some evidence to be forthcoming as to the sins of this Government in this context.
Of course, the Gilbertian nature of this matter of urgency is such that the matters raised for discussion relate to moneys made available in 1973 and 1974, which of course was during the regime of the Whitlam Government. They do not even apply to moneys made available by this Government. It was the government which honourable senators opposite supported which made these moneys available under the agreement. These lands were purchased in 1973 and 1974. Despite what Senator Wriedt says-
– How does that correct the misuse of money?
- Senator Georges, let me make my point. We had some difficulty steering Senator Wriedt away from discussing the terms of reference of the board of inquiry. They clearly relate to lands purchased in the years 1973 and 1974. It is reasonable to assume that if federal funds were made available, they were made available by the government which honourable senators opposite supported. That is the point I am making. I think that we have reached a new high in discussing matters of urgency if the Opposition can move for the discussion of a matter of urgency which questions the appropriation of moneys during the years in which it was in government. I said earlier that the motion which has been moved seeks to detract from the more urgent problems in Victoria and to debate matters which certainly are not within the competence of the Senate.
However, let us look at Labor’s record. I noted a statement by Senator Wriedt in which he accused the State Government of Victoria- certainly not the Federal Government of milking the system and syphoning off the taxpayers’ money. He implied, if he did not say so expressly, that State governments cannot be trusted. He said that the Commonwealth Government must look after the purse. Senator Button is eager for an inquiry to be held. When I finish dealing with the matter to which I now propose to turn, perhaps the Government might consider having an inquiry. I propose to examine the record of the Whitlam Government in this field. Mr Les Johnson who was Minister for Housing in the Whitlam Government in 1974 sent two officers to Victoria to inquire into this very matter. If they had found anything wrong or circumspect or anything that was not above board, surely something would have been done by him as the responsible Minister in his Government. Let me turn to the other matter I wish to raise. On 30 August 1974 the Whitlam Government bought 326 acres of land in the parish of Yuroke, where the Minister for Science (Senator Webster) lives, near Craigieburn in Victoria for $1,485,000. On the same day, the vendor- that is, the person who sold the land to the Whitlam Governmentpaid $908,750.
-That could not be right.
-I am afraid it is. I have checked the record. It is on the record in the Victorian Hansard if honourable senators would like to look at it. A sum of $1,485,000 was paid by the Whitlam Government. The vendor paid $908,750 for the land in the same 24 hours. For honourable senators who are not nimble at working out percentages, that was a profit of 63 per cent to a one day vendor. The Whitlam Government paid $576,250 too much in what has been termed the greatest fiddle in the history of land transactions. I hang nothing on this but the land concerned happens to be in the Federal electorate of Burke held by Mr Keith Johnson, the Labor member of parliament in the other place. The land concerned was purchased by the Whitlam Government allegedly for the construction of defence service homes. That is a matter entirely within the province of the Federal Government. It has nothing to do with the States.
– I suppose that they are all built.
– My information is fairly detailed, Senator Chaney. The land is still undeveloped. Not a house has been built.
– You are the Government.
– Not an ex-serviceman has been settled. I will tell you what are the problems, Senator Grimes.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Drake-Brockman)- Order! Senator Tehan, please address your remarks to the Chair.
-Mr Deputy President, I did want to come to the point because I have something pretty good to say. We understand that the Department has been wanting to get rid of the land for some time. We know that it cannot be got rid of except at a huge loss. Yet honourable senators opposite have the temerity to come here today and accuse not this Government but a State government of some misdeeds in this area of land dealings. Senator Button has repeated some of the gutter-type allegations made in the Melbourne Press in relation to estimable citizens of Victoria, including Mr Stirling.
I suppose one might say that if the Victorian Government has erred in this regard it has erred in doubtful company, if it was the Whitlam Government which made the same mistakes. I think the debate indicates clearly that certainly no fault attaches to this Government in the matter under discussion. I said earlier when I spoke to a point of order that I await the findings of Mr Justice Gowans who is continuing the inquiry. I think that it would be improper for me to foreshadow or pre-empt anything that might be said. I still maintain this is not the forum where this matter ought to be debated. Be that as it may, we have debated it. I trust that speakers on this side of the Senate have shown that no blame can be attached not only to our Government but also to the Victorian Government. On the contrary, we have used the opportunity to show another one of the great misdeeds of the Whitlam Government in the fields of land acquisitions. I move:
- Mr President, I wish to raise a point of order. I am raising the point of order in anticipation-
- Senator Tehan has moved already that the question be now put.
– No, I raised a point of order before he did that.
– I moved that motion.
– What a cheek.
– There was an uproar at that moment, Senator Georges. Senator Tehan, did you move ‘ That the question be now put *?
– I did, before I sat down.
– Under Standing Order 43 1, there can be no debate on that question.
– But I was on my feet.
– I therefore put the question: ‘That the question be now put’. Those of that opinion say aye, against say no. I think the ayes have it.
– I was on my feet putting a point of order and Senator Tehan took the opportunity-
– The point of order came after Senator Tehan had moved the motion.
– They are gagging the debate. They gave an undertaking that we could have three speakers in this debate.
– Order! The question is: That the motion moved by Senator Wriedt be agreed to. Those of that opinion say aye, against say no; I think the noes have it.
– The ayes have it. Divide.
-Is a division required?
The bells having been rung-
– Order! I shall restate the question. The question is: That the question be now put. The ayes will pass to the right of the Chair; the noes to the left. I appoint Senator
Georges teller for the ayes, and Senator Chaney teller for the noes. I am sorry. We have reached the point of putting to the vote the main question, that is, that the motion moved by Senator Wriedt be agreed to. In the turmoil of a moment ago -
– I do not know whether to be able to speak I have to put this piece of paper on my head or not, but we are opposing the gag, Mr President.
– In the turmoil of the moment, Senator Georges -
– You are voting in favour of the motion if you are on that side of the chamber.
– I shall put the question again. The question is: That the motion moved by Senator Wriedt be agreed to.
– No. It is the question on the gag-
– It is as I have stated, Senator Georges. There will be no more discussion on this matter. I appoint Senator Georges teller for the ayes -
– To speak, I do not whether I should stand or whether I should have a piece of paper over my head. May I stand, Mr President?
- Senator Georges, if it is the gag, what are we doing on this side of the chamber?
– I do not know what we are doing on this side. We opposed the gag. We have always insisted upon opposing the gag.
– If I may speak to this as a point of order, Mr President, the Hansard record will show perfectly clearly that you put in the first place the motion to end the debate. That motion was carried. You then put Senator Wriedt ‘s motion and we are now dividing on that motion. The first motion was carried.
- Senator Georges -
– I am not pressing the point.
– No, but I wish to indicate to you, Senator Georges, that you did overlook that point in the noise of the occasion. The question now is: That the motion moved by Senator Wriedt be agreed to.
The Senate divided. (The President-Senator the Hon. Condor Laucke)
Question so resolvedin the negative.
-( Western AustraliaLeader of the Government in the Senate)- Pursuant to section 147 of the Defence Act 1903 I present the report of the Royal Military College of Australia for the period 1 February 1976 to 31 January 1977.
– by leave- Once again we have a report with an inexplicable period of delay involved in its presentation. That report is introduced by a letter signed by the Commandant of the Royal Military College at Duntroon and dated March 1977. On the face of it, it was sent by the Commandant to the Department of Defence in March 1977. It is now October 1977.I wonder where it has been? Why has it been so long getting from the College, which has apparently prepared it in good time, to the Parliament which has received it in very bad time from the point of view of delay. I ask the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Withers) whether he is prepared to make some inquiries or to cause an inquiry to be made as to the circumstances surrounding the delay. Were there some good reasons for the delay or was it dilatoriness on the part of people involved who may or may not have been displaying some lack of concern for their obligation to report promptly to the Parliament. If the Minister does not find it appropriate to make the inquiries, I foreshadow that I shall move a motion to refer the matter to an appropriate committee for inquiry.
-by leave- Lest the Senate should get the idea that only Senator Rae is concerned about this matter, I add my protest to the delay in the presenting of reports in this place. I strongly support Senator Rae’s initiative in this matter. I hope that we quickly get an explanation as to why this report is so late. I would also like it to be made certain in the future that on the presentation of papers the dates are clearly shown so that the Senate can be alerted to whether they are late.
Senator WITHERS (Western AustraliaLeader of the Government in the Senate)- by leave- I assure honourable senators that I shall make urgent inquiries of my colleague in the other place, the Minister for Defence (Mr Killen), on the basis that I would like to inform the Senate tomorrow why this delay has occurred.
– For the information of honourable senators, on behalf of Senator Guilfoyle I present the report of the inquiry into unemployment benefit policy and administration, together with the consultant’s recommendations to the inquiry.
The Government ignored completely the multitude of administrative changes sought by Dr Myers which were aimed in toto at reducing waste within the current system. Thus, the costing exercise of the Government might well overstate the costs of the Myers recommendations by a considerable amount. The approach of the Government of isolating a central recommendation appears to be unjustified given Dr Myers’ care to relate the basic payments scheme to his changed administrative arrangements.
We have had two inquiries. We have had two reports- the Norgard report and the Myers report. Both of them carefully looked at the whole system of unemployment benefit in this country, a system which is becoming increasingly more unsatisfactory as the number of unemployed rises and the present Government cuts expenditure. We have heard very little from the Government about the Myers’ report which was tabled in the Parliament some two or three months ago and this is the first opportunity we have had to talk about it.
In the Myers’ report there are some 37 recommendations. Most of them do not cost money. In fact, most of them would streamline the system, protect the rights of the unemployed and make the system much easier for those people who are unemployed and also for those people in the offices of the Commonwealth Employment Service and the Department of Social Security who have to deal with the unemployed. If we do not get this sort of reform, even if we may not agree with all the reforms suggested by Dr Myers, the system is going to collapse as it is collapsing in the large centralised offices in Melbourne and in Adelaide. For the first time in this country we have had officers of the Department of Social Security and the Commonwealth Employment Service taking industrial action- not going on strike, but taking industrial action to enable them more efficiently to get the payment out to people who are unemployed, to people who are pensioners and to people who are beneficiaries of any kind.
We have the most unsatisfactory system where, in the words of the Minister in answer to a question, there were some 18 cases of significant assault- whatever ‘significant’ means under these circumstances- in the offices of the Department of Social Security in Melbourne. They arose out of the very real frustration that people who are unemployed and in fact the people who are trying to make the system work feel over the present unsatisfactory nature of the system. The situation will not improve. It is inevitable, despite what we read in the Budget Papers, that unemployment is going to increase in this community and the system will not improve even if we scrap the staff ceilings and pour more people into the offices. The basic system is at fault. Dr Myers has pointed it out. Mr Norgard has pointed it out. The various poverty commissioners have pointed it out. But we need to get change and a proper investigation of change.
This report and the other reports should not be pigeonholed. They should be examined carefully by the Government. They should be examined carefully by everyone in this Parliament so that we can get a sane and proper system in this country to help the people who are unemployed and the people who are needy. We should not have a situation in which the Social Security Act is amended in this country, as it is going to be amended, to deprive people of the unemployment benefits for six weeks after they leave school- something which will affect only the less wealthy because those who are wealthy and sufficiently wealthy will not be affected at all.
We should not have the threat that the Social Security Act will be amended, as we had last week, to deprive people who are innocently stood down in an industrial dispute which is equally discriminatory in that it will affect the lower income people in the community more than anyone else apart from the gross injustice that will be done to them. We had a situation in which the Government was threatening to use the Social Security Act which is designed to help the underprivileged in this community in its industrial confrontation battles. Therefore, on behalf of the Opposition I urge the Government to consider carefully this report and the preceding reports. I urge it to look seriously at the unsatisfactory unemployment benefit system in this country. 1 seek leave to continue my remarks.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Senator KNIGHT (Australian Capital Territory) I bring up the report of the Joint Committee on the Australian Capital Territory on proposals for variations of the plan of layout of the city of Canberra and its environs, 64th series.
Ordered that the report be printed.
-by leave-The document I have tabled is a further report from the Joint Committee on the Australian Capital Territory in the series relating to changes to the plan of the national capital. The report deals with the 64th series of such variations. The Committee has recommended the implementation of each of the 32 items which were referred to it by the Minister for the Capital Territory (Mr Staley). The series contains proposals for important roadworks. It is proposed to upgrade portion of the Barton highway and eventually to duplicate the existing road so that it becomes a dual carriageway, bypassing the township of Hall. The road will then become part of Canberra’s urban parkway system and will also provide a more appropriate approach to the capital. Work is proposed to begin on this project almost immediately. The Committee also recommends implementation of proposals to improve traffic flows at intersections on the Tuggeranong Parkway which is the main north-south route linking the new towns of Woden and Belconnen.
This series contains a number of proposals for the gazettal of new residential areas in Belconnen and Tuggeranong. These proposals caused the Committee some initial concern due to the surplus of serviced land and a bank of residential land of 9,700 blocks already gazetted and available for servicing. The Committee questioned why more residential land needed to be made available. After a further meeting with senior officials of the National Capital Development Commission and the Department of the Capital Territory the Committee was satisfied that that proposals can be recommended. Recent revision of projected population growth rates has led to a new strategy being required. It is now the intention of the NCDC to concentrate settlement near existing facilities and services and to defer proposals for development in the more remote parts of the Territory. These considerations have resulted in action to slow down the expansion of Tuggeranong, postponement of the proposed new town of Gungahlin and concentration on developing Belconnen- Evatt, McKellar and Florey- and the existing Tuggeranong suburbs of Wanniassa and Kambah. The Committee was satisfied that the NCDC and the Department of the Capital Territory have adopted plans appropriate to the changing demand for land and housing in the Australian Capital Territory. The Commission had entered into contracts for land servicing for housing at the peak of the boom in 1974. These contracts had been honoured and the land servicing program gradually adjusted since then to accord with current levels of demand.
The Committee has also been informed by the NCDC that the total value of the works associated with the 64th series which will be undertaken in the current financial year will be $ 12.7 million. Included in this figure is $900,000 for the first stage of the Woden Technical and Further Education College which, in total, is estimated will amount to $6.4 million. Some of the roads which will be built as a result of this series of variations will also enable other associated building projects, such as the Belconnen retail market car park, to proceed. It may be of interest for honourable senators to be acquainted with a procedural development of some importance to the Committee’s work. In the past the sessions at which the Committee has been briefed by the National Capital Development Commission and the Department of the Capital Territory on these proposals have been conducted in closed session. The Committee decided that with this series and future variations these briefings should be open to the Press and public. Accordingly, the briefing in respect of this series took place at public hearing. The Committee feels this will serve to ensure that members of the public are fully informed about proposed changes contained in the variations and will provide opportunity for a more thorough public examination of such proposals. I commend the report to the Senate.
-Mr President, I seek your guidance on a matter which is relatively minor. I note from the paper put before us today concerning the presentation of papers that the Attorney-General (Senator Durack) representing the Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs (Mr Fife), was to put down a report of the Industries Assistance Commission in connection with a number of commodities. Could somebody enlighten me as to why that report has not been put down?
– I think that the honourable senator is entitled to know. The explanation is quite simple. The AttorneyGeneral is not here. He does not have the report. I am quite sure that he will bring it in tomorrow.
-Mr President, I seek leave to make a statement on the same matter.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– It is fairly obvious that the business of the Senate was somewhat disrupted by an early gag. Perhaps that is the reason why the Minister is not here. If I recall correctly, the Minister for Social Security (Senator Guilfoyle) was not here either. If sudden gags are to be moved I think we should have plenty of forewarning so that at least the Government can put itself in order and the Opposition has a reasonable opportunity to follow what the Government is doing.
Senator COTTON (New South WalesMinister for Industry and Commerce)- I suggest to the Whips union that it has Whips’ talk over dinner.
-Mr President, I seek leave to make a statement.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
-There have been two misrepresentations by my opposite number which are not up to the usual high standard I have learned to expect of the Opposition Whip. I advised the Opposition precisely when the gag was to be imposed. In fact, there was an extension of the period I orginally indicated would be allowed before the gag was moved by the
Government. I regret that the position has been put before you, Mr President, in this way.
Senator GEORGES (Queensland) -I seek leave to make a personal explanation.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– I agree with the Government Whip. We have had a fairly high level of co-operation in this place. But there has been some confusion today. It is not sufficient to say suddenly to me that the gag will be moved in an urgency debate which was to take three hours. We have come to a common understanding that we should cut down on the number of speakers and perhaps finish by 6 p.m. It was not sufficient for the Government to say that it was going to gag the debate after the second speaker when the precedent has been established that the debate should continue until 6 p.m. I am sorry that this has occurred in this way. Perhaps I am a little niggly because I found myself on the wrong side of the chamber when I should have been on this side voting on a proposition which I do not think that you, Mr President, had put at the time. I am not certain of that. This is possibly the reason why I am a little toey on the matter. It seems to me that unless we become much more definite in what we are doing, more often than not we will get ourselves into disorder.
-I seek leave to move a motion to amend the terms of reference of a matter currently before the Senate Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
Motion (by Senator Primmer) agreed to:
That the terms of the matter referred to the Senate Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence on 23 September 1 976, as varied, be amended to read as follows:
Australia and the South Pacific.
Consideration resumed from 12 October.
– A number of questions have been asked of me about the Loan Bill and I have supplied answers to those questions. I think that information has already been put into the record of the Senateat least that is my understanding. Following that I was asked whether I would be prepared to arrange for some officers of the Treasury to discuss the answers to some of those questions with the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Wriedt) and I said that I certainly would do that. That arrangement was made. Officers of the Treasury met Senator Wriedt and some of his colleagues. My information is that they answered the questions asked of them of a general and detailed kind. As far as I am concerned the matter therefore has been covered, unless there are any other queries, which I will endeavour to deal with now or perhaps seek a little time to deal with them.
– Briefly, the background to the present stage of the consideration of this Bill is that we sought further information from the Government. The answers to those questions were made available last week. In discussions I had with Senator Cotton he agreed to defer any further consideration of the Loan Bill until such time as I and some of my colleagues had had an opportunity to talk to representatives of the Treasury. As I indicated at that time, we are dealing with very complex matters. My colleagues and I had the opportunity to discuss these matters yesterday. Arising from those discussions there are some further questions which I would like answered and which I shall seek to have incorporated in Hansard in a moment. I am not suggesting that the answers to those questions be made available today. I would ask the Minister to consider them and give me a reply to them in due course.
I understand that the desire of the Government is to get this Bill through the Parliament. It is a Bill which ought not to be held up. The Opposition has sought deferral of the Bui over the last couple of weeks because of the further information that it required. One cannot predict the future. We know a loan Bill of this nature comes before the Parliament every year as part of the government accounting procedure. I daresay that the events of 1975, which is when this type of questioning of the Loan Bill commenced, set a precedent, which we had not seen before in this Parliament at any time since Federation, whereby the Loan Bill became the subject of deferral. We know that the transfer of the funds for defence expenditure to the Loan Fund cannot be accomplished until such time as this Bill passes through the Senate. The difficulty is that the precedent has been set. It might even be said that it is a bad precedent and an unfortunate one. It arose under certain conditions in 1975 which we all recall. I would not for one moment predict what any future Opposition may do, but I think one thing should be said, that is, that no Opposition should attempt to frustrate the normal workings of the Treasury by deferring indefinitely the Loan Bill each year. It is legitimate to seek additional information. I think that is something which should not be denied and I hope would not be denied to any Opposition in the future. At the same time we realise- I am speaking now on behalf of the Labor Party- that the passage of this Bill is important to the normal accounting procedures of the Commonwealth. For that reason, we will not attempt to defer its passage any further. I seek leave to have those questions incorporated in Hansard.
– Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
The questions read as follows-
Does this part of the answer imply that as private capital starts to flow out the borrowing on government account should immediately start to increase- particularly with a managed exchange rate?
Do the capital flow figures for June, July, August and September of this year show significant increases for the outflow of loan capital and a reduction in the inflow of equity capital?
What were the reasons, in these circumstances, for delaying an announcement of overseas borrowings in order to maintain the ‘ moderate level ‘ of capital inflow?
– I have noted the remarks of the Leader of the Op- position (Senator Wriedt). He will no doubt h ave a copy of the questions that he has incorporated in Hansard. He may care to give a copy of them to me. I will ask the Treasury officials to prepare answers to those questions for him as soon as possible. I am anxious to have the matter disposed of in the terms that the Leader of the Opposition has suggested. I think that a useful examination has been made of the Bill and that the questions asked about it have been sensibly answered. I do not have any view other than the one I have always had that the Senate has benefited by the examination of these matters. If the Leader of the Opposition could facilitate the provision of a copy of those questions for me I would be grateful. I undertake to supply the Leader of the Opposition with an answer to those questions in writing.
Bill agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill (on motion by Senator Cotton) read a third time.
Sitting suspended from 5.53 to 8 p.m.
Senator COTTON (New South Wales-
Minister for Industry and Commerce)- by leave- I wish to make a statement for the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Withers), who would have made it, on behalf of the Minister for Defence. Where the first person singular pronoun appears it refers to the Minister for Defence.
The House will recall that on 9 December 1966 the Australian and United States Governments entered into an agreement regarding the establishment of a Joint Defence Space Research Facility. This facility was subsequently set up at Pine Gap, outside Alice Springs. The 1966 agreement was for 10 years and has been terminable at one year’s notice by either party since 9 December 1975. Failing such notice, the agreement continues in force indefinitely. The present United States Administration has recently asked if the agreement could be extended for a further period of 10 years, with either party being able to give one year’s notice of termination after nine years from the date of extension or at any time thereafter, failing which the agreement would continue indefinitely.
My Government has considered this matter. Having regard to the importance- acknowledged by both sides of the House- of the Joint Defence Space Research Facility to the interests of Australia and the United States, to the importance of the co-operation of our two countries under the Anzus Treaty; to the requirements for security of tenure at Pine Gap to protect substantial investments in buildings, machinery, skilled manpower and effort; and to the requirement to support long term planning in these respects, we have decided to accede to the United States Government’s request. We believe that this arrangement will be helpful to the United States Government in planning its long term financial commitments for the Facility.
My colleague, the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr Peacock), and His Excellency the United States Ambassador, have today signed notes extending the 1966 agreement for a further period of ten years. I now table these notes for the information of the Senate. The House will notice that the opportunity has been taken to transfer responsibility as co-operating agency for the project from the specialist area of the Advanced Research Projects Agency to the general administration of the United States Department ofDefence.
I have referred to the importance of the Facility; the House will know that for security reasons I cannot elucidate on this. I do want to say that a sound and co-operative relationship with the United States is fundamental to this Government’s foreign and defence policies and that the Government and I believe the great majority of the Australian people, welcome this opportunity to extend our collaboration with our American friends and allies.
– by leave- I move:
I seek leave to continue my remarks later.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Ordered that the Bill may be taken through all its stages without delay.
Motion (by Senator Cotton) proposed:
That the Bill be now read a first time.
That the debate be now adjourned.
– I was under the impression, Mr President, that both Senator Baume and Senator Cavanagh rose and that Senator Baume wished to speak on the matter at the first reading, which I imagine is his right. You called Senator Cavanagh, who has moved that the debate be now adjourned. I seek your ruling as to whether or not Senator Baume, who wished to speak, has not some right to do so.
– I rise on a point of order. The Minister has introduced a money Bill. On such Bills a senator has a right to speak on the motion for the first reading. Senator Cavanagh has moved merely that the debate on the first reading of this money Bill be now adjourned. That means that the Minister may move that the debate be adjourned to a later hour of the day, or the next day of sitting. Senator Cavanagh is quite within his rights in seeking, at this stage, an adjournment of the debate on the first reading.
– We understand that position. I would suggest, Mr President, that you put the question.
– That is true; you can oppose the adjournment if you want to. Mr President, I direct your attention to the state of the House. (Quorum formed).
– The question is: That the debate be now adjourned.
-I thought there was some right of reply.
– No. The honourable senator has moved a motion. That must be determined now.
That the debate be now adjourned.
The Senate divided. (The President-Senator the Hon. Condor Laucke)
Question so resolved in the negative.
– The Opposition has been defeated on its motion to adjourn the first reading of this Bill. I do not know what the fuss was all about. Honourable senators can speak to the first reading of a money Bill and it was a question of whether honourable senators should speak to the first reading of the Bill tonight or tomorrow morning. Some honourable senators have had their speeches on the Budget prepared for some months and there seemed to be justification in giving them the opportunity to present those speeches tonight. Those honourable senators who wanted to speak to the first reading of this Bill could have done so tomorrow. In my unselfish way, I was prepared to go along with that course. During the division I heard the Government Whip say that our Whip was sulking and that is why we sought the adjournment of the debate on the first reading. I also heard honourable senators on this side of the chamber say that the Government wants Senator Baume to speak tonight while the Senate is being broadcast because he wants to tip a bucket.
– Order! Senator Cavanagh, if you wish to speak to the first reading of thisBill you must deal with a matter of substance.
-There is plenty of substance in the bucket.
-I think we will find out whether you are right, Mr President, or Senator McAuliffe is right only when we hear Senator Baume ‘s address. I rise to make a few comments about Aboriginal affairs. Despite what has been said, I have taken a great interest in Aboriginal Affairs. I think it is a humane question and one must look at the human element involved and not play party politics by saying one party does better than another. We should all try to do something about it.
During my term as Minister for Aboriginal Affairs I found that there were many in our society who try to make a profit out of the Aborigines. By no means does that section of the community include only Europeans. In our society there are many descendants of Aboriginal people who are trying to gain power. They use the Aboriginal cause for their own advancement. They exploit Aborigines and the money made available for Aboriginal affairs as much as possible. It is this section of the community about which I am concerned. I apologise to you, Mr President, for my attitude last night when I called Senator Bonner a hypocrite. I did not want to call him a hypocrite, but it is what I said.
– Order! That remark was ruled out of order last night. It should not be repeated tonight.
– It is unusual for me to become heated and emotionally upset over this question. It is not part of my temperament to become heated. The remark that caused me to become upset was made by Senator Bonner. He said that I was afraid of the white backlash. When I look at it now, that remark really was not very abusive. I have been accused of worse things than that in my time. It was nothing to get upset about but I became upset because the remark was made by Senator Bonner. That is why I made the remark that I did and argued with you, Mr President. It was only out of respect for you, Mr President, that I withdrew the remark. If an honourable senator who does not usually get upset becomes heated at apparently inoffensive words of another honourable senator, then there is probably a story behind it. The story behind this particular case is that when I was Minister for Aboriginal Affairs Senator Bonner was either the Chairman or Vice-Chairman of Aboriginal Hostels Ltd. It was purchasing hostels for Aboriginal people. At a time when Senator Bonner was up for party pre-selection, Aboriginal Hostels Ltd bought a number of hostels in Brisbane and Senator Bonner announced the locations of the hostels. It so happened that the hostels being purchased were in the electorates of State Liberal members and the Press publicised a condemnation of Senator Bonner by his Liberal Party colleagues, who said that the Liberal Party should get rid of those individuals who were putting Aboriginals in high class areas of Brisbane.
I was in Brisbane as Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and I received a request at my office to meet Senator Bonner. He came along to me and said: ‘Look, Jim, I want you to do me a favour. You can see they are after me. They want to get me out. Will you ask me to resign from Aboriginal Hostels Ltd to get me out of this fix?’ I said: No, Neville, I won’t. I knew from the time you came into the Parliament that there would be an occasion when your loyalty to your Party would conflict with your loyalty to your people. Now it has happened. You must make a decision as to whether you suck to your Party or whether you stick to your people. It is for you to make the decision’. He said: ‘It is not that, Jim. I have to consider whether I can best serve my people by remaining in Parliament instead of being thrown out, and they could do it.’ I said: ‘I am not going to ask for your resignation. If you want to resign, Neville, you resign and I will not criticise you, whatever decision you make’. That was the extent of our conservation. Senator Bonner jumped up and said: ‘Cavanagh, I came to you as a friend. Cavanagh, you . . . ‘, and he used a word that cast some reflection upon the purity of my parents. He said: ‘I thought that as a friend you would do this for me’. I said: ‘No, I have more concern for the Aboriginals’. This man, who buckled under the white backlash in Queensland and asked me to rescue him from that white backlash, came into this chamber and accused me of being afraid of the white backlash. That is too great an infliction to take.
Let me say that he is not the only one of the Aboriginal community who seeks power and prestige by exploiting the Aboriginal race and using his Aboriginal origin. We heard a lot today about land scandals in Victoria. In South Australia in 1973 or 1974 the Aboriginal communities of Adelaide wanted a community centre where they all could meet. They formed an organisation and made application to the Minister for money to buy a community centre. Application was made to the Minister for $ 1 12,000 to purchase a community centre at 128 Wakefield Street, Adelaide. The certificate of transfer of property shows that the purchase was registered at 11 o’clock on 18 September 1973. The Minister gave his approval for the purchase of that property on 18 July 1973 following a minute from the Department in which it said that it had a valuation of $106,000 from the Taxation Office. The Minister’s discretion enabling him to go 10 per cent above a government valuation permitted him to approve of the request for $112,000, and he did so. It was discovered that the property purchased on 18 September was transferred from one owner to the owner who sold it to the Aboriginal community on the same date. Registration of the property transfer from the first owner to the second owner was effected at 1 1 o’clock on 18 September. The property was owned by Adelaide Computer Services Ltd, which sold it to a company named McDonald Reid Pty Ltd for $85,000. McDonald Reid is situated at 68 Grenfell Street. McDonald Reid sold the property to the Aboriginal community for $1 12,000 on the same day. That was $27,000 in the hand.
– Who was the Minister?
-I have just told you that the Minister’s approval was given on the Department’s recommendation of the valuation.
– But who was the Minister?
-Mr Bryant was the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs.
– That shows his competence.
-No, it does not. It is the same sort of thing. If we can condemn Mr Bryant, we do not care a damn about the Aboriginals getting rooked for $27,000. Gordon Bryant received this letter from the Secretary of his Department:
You will recall that some months ago you inspected a building in Adelaide, which if purchased would have provided office space and community facilities . . .
You will note that the valuation by the Taxation Office is $106,000. The owner has reduced his price from $133,000 to $ 1 12,000 and the offer is only open until Friday 27th July. Representatives of Adelaide Aboriginal organisations will be examining this building tonight and I recommend the purchase of this building subject to their agreement that it meets their requirements.
1 recommend that you approve the grant of $ 1 12,000 to the Aboriginal Community Centre Incorporated to purchase the building at 128 Wakefield Street, subject to agreement by all Adelaide Aboriginal organisations that the property meets their requirements. The authorising officer confirms that funds are available in the Trust Account.
The Minister would have been neglecting his duty if he had not authorised on that valuation and that request. He authorised the purchase, but when we look at it we find that on the same day someone made $27,000. The agent for both owners who sold the property was L. J. Hooker, but whether it got a commission on both sales I do not know. As I have said, the property was owned by Adelaide Computer Services Ltd and sold for $85,000 to McDonald Reid Pry Ltd of Da Costa Building, 68 Grenfell Street, Adelaide. A search of the records relating to directors of the company shows that the nominal share capital is $200,000 and 100,000 shares at $2 a share have been taken up. The directors are Cyril George McCarthy of 352 Portrush Road, Tusmore, and
Tusmore in Adelaide is not an area where the workers live -
– It is the blue rinse area of Adelaide.
– It is a blue rinse area. The other director is Una Mavis McCarthy of the same address whose occupation is given as house duties. A total of 36,000 shares were taken up of which 35,999 shares were taken up by Southern Motors Pty Ltd and one share by Cyril George McCarthy. Let us look at the position of Southern Motors Pty Ltd in Adelaide. The company has a share capital of $200,000 and issued shares totalling 40,000.- Its directors are Cyril George McCarthy and Una Mavis McCarthy. The shareholders in the company are Cyril George McCarthy who holds 20,000 shares, Una Mavis McCarthy who holds 4,000 shares, Delia Veronica McCarthy who is deceased and holds 4,000 shares and Claire McCarthy who holds 4,000 shares. The address of all those shareholders is given as 352 Portrush Road, Toorak. A Helen Barnett of 27 Courtland Avenue, Rostrevor, holds 4,000 shares and an Adrienne Burns of 8 Brookside Road, Springfield, holds 4,000 shares. The names of Barnett or Burns neither appear on the electoral roll or in the telephone book. Therefore, Aborigines have been deprived of some $27,000.
I do not know who the McCarthys are. But the negotiations were conducted by S. W. Tilmouth, the solicitor for the Aboriginal Community Centre, who was taking instructions from secretary of the Aboriginal community organisation. He advised Vincent Copley, the secretary, on 19 August that the property was available for $85,000 and was going to be bought through McDonald Reid Pty Ltd and sold for $1 12,000. When the secretary of the organisation was asked whether he knew about this, he said: ‘I know all about it but if you had been waiting as long as we had to get a centre you would not worry about it’. I do not know whether he had anything to do with this. Vincent Copley is the nephew of a staff member of the Department of Aboriginal Affairs who was not friendly to me during my time as Minister for Aboriginal Affairs. When he was dismissed as secretary of that organisation, applications were sought for the South Australian director of Aboriginal Hostels Ltd. When applications closed, Vincent Copley was not an applicant for the position. To my mind, there were some very good applicants for the position. But Vincent Copley got the job.
I made inquiries about the matter in view of the fact that he had not applied for the position at the close of applications. I was advised that there were no applicants with sufficient qualifications. I do not know of any qualifications held by Vincent Copley. He is now the director of Aboriginal Hostels Ltd. Senator Bonner is now on the board of Aboriginal Hostels Ltd which is composed mostly of Aboriginal people. The board employed a European accountant from New Guinea who wanted to examine the books. He has been dismissed and as a result of that the examination cannot proceed at the present time. He is making complaints and I believe taking the question to the State Industrial Court. These are matters which anyone who considers Aborigines should be concerned about and taking into consideration. We should not be concerned about taking political advantage of Aborigines.
Last night Senator Bonner told the Senate how he warned us about the National Aboriginal Consultative Committee. I think he is correct. It never functioned as it should. When Mr Viner became the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs he asked Dr Hiatt to investigate the National Aboriginal Consultative Committee. I gave evidence to Dr Hiatt ‘s committee. He had the problem of deciding what was wrong with the Committee. I put the suggestion that there should be local meetings and more members because the present members could not cover their areas. For example, if we are talking about the Torres Strait area the representative would need boats or an aeroplane. If we were talking about the Northern Territory the representative would need aeroplanes to travel around. We could not expect the Government to pay for that out of the Aboriginal vote. The solution seemed to be an increase in the membership of the Committee. The Hiatt report recommended an increase of three in the membership of the National Aboriginal Consultative Committee. Now we are told that the Committee’s membership is to be reduced by some five members and that it is to have no power.
Senator Bonner said yesterday that while the Labor Government gave money to the Aborigines, Mr Viner is sitting down talking to them. We endeavoured to foster the NACC as a consultative body in the belief that we were getting first hand information from the settlements. Now Mr Viner is paying 35 representatives on the Committee who hold local conferences. They hold an annual conference concerned with Aborigines on a national basis. He then appoints five representatives to an advisory committee who join five other representatives whom the Minister nominates. But the conference decisions of the National Aboriginal Consultative Committee need not be accepted by the advisory committee. We have a body of 10 people, five of whom are nominated by the Minister and five of whom are elected. They will be the consultants to the Minister. Therefore the direction which Aborigines will take and consideration of their matters destroyed completely by a committee which the Minister has a say in appointing. He can appoint half the members of the committee and has the say in appointing its chairman. When voting on questions is equal, the chairman’s vote decides it. The history of this matter is completely against the interests of Aboriginal people. It is completely contrary to the recommendations contained in the Hiatt report.
During my term of office as Minister for Aboriginal Affairs there was one member of the Department who never ceased to criticise the Government, the Department and many other aspects of what the Government was doing. He has never been heard since the change of government. He is satisfied now. As soon as the government changed, he went to Mr Viner with a proposal that a statutory authority should control Aboriginal affairs and that he should be the chairman of the statutory authority. That statutory authority never eventuated. But this was the solution for buying the silence of an opponent of Aborigines. There are as many con men in the Aboriginal community or amongst those who pretend to support Aborigines as we will find in white communities. If we are interested in Aborigines we must recognise and identify these people and we must expose them. The Aboriginal race is deserving of assistance and support. I recommend to everyone to get away from making the cheap political speeches we hear, get out and meet the Aboriginal people and come back and discuss whether there is anything else we can do in a humanitarian way for the purpose of protecting and giving justice to people whom we have robbed in the past.
– I welcome the opportunity granted by the debate on the first reading of this Bill to say several things about the economy and particularly to relate my remarks to South Australia and a district in which I am interested. I refer to the Federal electorate of Hawker, yet to be confirmed in its new character by the presentation of the final electoral boundaries.
– There must be an election on the tenth now; that is for sure.
-Senator McLaren has previously accused me of speaking with a deliberate interest in a candidature in Hawker. I am pleased to admit that I am guilty of that. I have a very direct interest in the new seat of Hawker and welcome any assertion of that fact by Senator McLaren in this or any other debate. South Australia is particularly influenced by current events in the economy and in this political community. The seat of Hawker in particular, covering one-eighth of the city of Adelaide, represents a very important part of South Australia. I have taken the trouble to find out the effects of current events among certain sections of that community. Particularly I have looked at this district to see what it encompasses in terms of personal areas of endeavour. I have had an interesting time looking at the statistics of the seat of Hawker which, as I have said, is a typical area in South Australia- I suppose it could be termed an inner metropolitan district in a sense- to assess its constitution, to see the type of people who live there and the way in which they are affected.
In starting this assessment, I looked at the components of employment there according to the 1971 Census. I know that that Census is removed in time by about six years, but its figures are the best we can obtain until the figures of the newer Census are thoroughly dissected and are available to the public and to members of parliament. I have been interested in looking at these figures, which no doubt still give a worthwhile comparison of the types of employment engaged in by the residents of that area. I have found that within the seat of Hawker 5,330 people, according to the 1971 Census, were engaged in professional and semi-professional pursuits. I feel that this is a relatively large number of people who have taken the trouble to educate themselves, to follow a distinct line of development in their personal application and to engage in a service area to the community based on the skills which they have attained.
I found also that the significant number of 3,545 people are employers, managers and selfemployed people. I found this number surprisingly high but again representative of a district which is involved in so much endeavour in the commercial and industrial sphere. In the clerical sphere, I found the largest number of people engaged in a conglomerate relating to a single type of activity. In that particular calling at the time of that Census in the seat of Hawker, as ascertained by the new boundaries, 9,700 people would have been involved. Commercial agents and others who serve industry by selling and who are virtually the eyes in the extension of activity in the sales areas- the people who make industry work by setting up their goods before the community- numbered 1,020 people. Proprietors, shopkeepers and their assistants totalled 3,700. Drivers and transport workers totalled 1,440 individuals. The Austraiian Postal Commission and the Australian Telecommunications Commission have 660 people employed in that particular service to the community.
Metal trades and electrical trades activitiesan area which would be vitally affected by such large industries as Chrysler Australia, Uniroyal, Hills Industries and so on- are a very large employing area with just under 7,000 people engaged in those activities. The building trades too were important with 2,675 people. The printing industry carried 477 employees; food processors totalled 667 people; and rubber workers, concrete workers and plastic workers involved in the processing industry in a general aggregate term totalled 639 people. Just over 1,000 people were engaged as storemen. Labourers totalled 1,159. Firemen and police accounted for 423 people and 1,142 people are employed as cooks, maids and housekeepers. There are 390 people in the armed services, with the two Army establishments, one at Keswick and one at Warradale. Of course, there is a host of smaller groups of employees which are important but which do not aggregate to the numbers I have mentioned. On looking at this district, I thought how representative those employee categories were to the general endeavour of South Australians and Australians in general. I thought: Here is indeed a representative area of what one might term, in a very wide sense, the average Australian’.
In considering the problems in which people are involved and the challenges which face them, I looked also at the current list of unemployed people in this new seat of Hawker. There are two wide categories given- those people 20 years of age and under and those people over 20 years of age who are currently registered for employment at the three offices of Edwardstown, Unley and Glenelg, within the new seat of Hawker. In the first category, 20 years of age and under, 926 males and 780 females were seeking employment. In the second category, those people aged 21 years and over, 1,955 males and 485 females within that community were looking for work. These figures give some indication of the problems in this area and indicates, in some measure, that the seat carries what I suppose would be close to the national average percentage of unemployed- of those people in the community who are looking for jobs and are finding all the difficulties which go with seeking jobs for the first time, a second or a third time or whatever, according to their particular application.
I looked at another group of figures which gives a further insight into the composition of a community which, as I said, constitutes oneeighth of metropolitan Adelaide with between 70,000 and 80,000 people. I looked at the figures for the people within the seat of Hawker who had birthplaces overseas. I found this an interesting study. Of the people born overseas, 11,290 were born in the United Kingdom and Ireland; 1 ,288 were born in Germany, 1 ,749 were born in Greece, 1,611 were born in Italy, 1,088 were born in The Netherlands; 737 were born in Yugoslavia; 656 were born in Poland; 1,092 were born in Asia in general; 472 were born in Africa in general; 292, of whom many must have migrated a considerable number of years ago, were born in the United Soviet Socialist Republics; and 298 were born in Hungary. Approximately 20,000 people in the district were born overseas. As I have said, when one looks at that community, which is a representative area of South Australia, one sees all sorts of challenges with a particular job to be done by governments in assessing the needs of these people and in providing services and a particular job to be done by the community in general to make society work in that area.
Having studied those figures, which I have read out, for those categories of employment, there is no doubt that that district is orientated very much to secondary industry and to the commercial field. The future of the people who live in this area is bound up with the manufacture of cars, the building of houses and the furnishing and fitting of homes. It is bound up with so many dozens and probably hundreds of small businesses which depend upon the economic health and the economic climate of this community. Large industrial enterprises have spread there from the rest of Australia and there are small commercial services there which are so important in providing employment in our society. It is interesting to note that most of the markets which these people supply are within the home market. This community is not a great venturesome supplier of export markets; it supplies basically a home market, which is affected so dramatically by internal factors in this community.
In looking at these figures, I could not help but think how deeply affected this community is by inflation. The rate of inflation has destroyed the expectations which people had in the past to quietly and confidently enjoy the security of a long-term job and the hopes of their children to partake in job opportunities in our community. As we look at this situation in the political sense there is no doubt that one must go back to the disruptions, which have caused so much lack of opportunity in this area, and which stand behind those unemployment figures which I have given. There is human tragedy in people wanting work and not being able to obtain it.
I could not help but look, as I did this afternoon, at some of the remarks which were made recently by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr E. G. Whitlam) on Monday Conference. I read at page 20 of the transcript which is available in the li brary one of the excerpts which puts the current view of the Leader of the Opposition as to the past and present involvement of himself and his Government in relation to our current difficulties. In answer to a question which was generally involved with inflation the Leader of the Opposition, Mr Whitlam, on Monday Conference on 19 September last said:
When we came in -
The Leader of the Opposition was referring to his advent to government in 1972 - the place was awash with overseas speculative funds and there had been an inflationary Budget, Billy Sneddon’s Budget under Billy McMahon, I mean that was the biggest origin of our economic troubles in Australia. We inherited an inflationary situation.
The last sentence is the crucial one in a major sense. Mr Whitlam claimed that the problems of his Government were due to the fact that he inherited an inflationary situation. In another excerpt from this interview he went on to say:
Well by 1975 we had sorted that out very well. You’re referring to the factthat I quoted, in particular, the inadequate, the faulty advice that we got in about September 1973 about the credit squeeze- it was too late in being introduced and it was continued too long, until September 1974, well it was top assistant advice and I asked them to look at it again in April 1974 and they said, No, it’s right, and they placated my qualms at that stage, but that is you do know that they are fallible.
Of course every Minister and every government under the Westminster system know that they take full and final responsibility for the actions of their governments. It is unthinkable to blame one ‘s advisers in the forum of Parliament. That is simply not the way in which the British system of government is conducted. But the essence of Mr Whitlam ‘s statements, of which there are many, is that he claims he inherited an inflationary situation. He proceeded to increase Commonwealth Government expenditure at a rate which was unheard of at the time of the establishment of the Commonwealth Parliament. On the basis of a claim that this inflationary situation was one which he had inherited, he increased at the top of his Budget extravagances annual Commonwealth expenditure by over 40 per cent in one year. I have never known such an admission of guilt as that made by the Leader of the Opposition on that program. He saw the fire and he poured petrol on it. In simple terms, that is what h e did to the economy.
-Rip Van Hall.
– We know, as Senator Button would know, the incredible progression of Treasurers from Mr Crean to Dr Cairns to Mr Hayden.
– How come you voted for us so often?
-I do not intend to be side-tracked on a number of issues. The fact is that we had three Treasurers deliver three Budgets into which were built the most expensive expenditures in the history of the Commonwealth in an admitted inflationary situation. We find, whether we like it or not and whether the Australian Labor Party likes it or not, that the inflationary basis about which we complain now was clearly started by the Labor Party when in government. When I look back at Mr Whitlam ‘s remarks I cannot but conjecture at how mistaken the Labor Party was in so many of its actions. One situation in South Australia tells its own story. We had the project of Monarto which was supposed to take the overflow of Adelaide’s population. The Commonwealth Labor Government in concert with the State Labor Government poured millions upon millions of dollars into the project of Monarto on the basis that South Australia’s population would increase at a most remarkable rate, as would the population generally across Australia. It took another report, presented by Professor Borrie, to remind the Labor Government that its general assessment of Australia’s population growth was absolutely wrong. The assessment was simply falsely based. The latest projection for Australia’s growth is that by the year 2000 we expect to have 16 million people. Millions upon millions of dollars were poured into the empty paddocks of Monarto because of a fictitious figure of Labor’s expectation of growth in South Australia and across this nation.
– It may be an environmental masterpiece.
-Senator Messner has said that it may be an environmental masterpiece. I think the greatest fault of those Labor Governments was that they had in prospect the building of a very large city on the banks of Adelaide’s water supply. No expert has ever been able to answer what effect that would have had but it would have utterly destroyed the quality of Adelaide’s basic water resource. But never mind that: At least it is not proceeding. It represents a monument to the folly of State and Federal Labor. It stands as a monument to the failure of planning over three years by Labor in office in the Commonwealth Parliament. However, I do not want to dwell on this matter.
I think Mr Whitlam has fully explained himself. He took what he assessed as an inflationary situation and made it much more inflationary by deliberate financial action. An incoming Liberal Party Government had no alternative but to reverse the expenditures of Labor in the Federal Budget. There is no way that this economy can succeed in the future until the rate of inflation is significantly reduced to a stage where it can be seen that profits are not to be made out of an inflationary expectation. That was the position that confronted the incoming government. To reduce the rate of inflation there had to be a great reduction, relatively, in Commonwealth Government expenditure. This was one of the great burdens of the incoming Federal Liberal Government.
– Only one of the burdens?
-Only one of the many burdens bequeathed to it, but the major burden that devolved upon this Government. It has been a burden which I believe it has accepted with a great deal of courage. I believed at one stage that the Government was faltering in facing that burden in that we had a devaluation and no additional attention to tariff protection. At that stage I thought that perhaps the Government was faltering in its drive. But the subsequent result of the financial record has been that the Government has courageously centred on and stuck to its policy of reducing inflation. The current decision of the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission in Victoria relative to the servants of the State Electricity Commission in Victoria evidences the maintenance of the desire and aim of the Conciliation to reduce inflation in this country.
– That will not win you Hawker.
-I am pleased that Senator Cavanagh also is aware of the situation in Hawker. As I have said, by restoring stability in this community and by restoring employment in this community we will ensure that the rate of inflation is reduced, and that is being accomplished- more slowly than we would like, but it is being accomplished. Secondly, another vital need is required to restore the health of this economic community and that is union cooperation in restoring jobs in this community and in maintaining those jobs.
– You never tried to cooperate.
– In looking at the seat of Hawker, I remind Senator McLaren, I recall the tremendous involvement of commerce and industry in the creation of immediate employment prospects.
– Your record with the trade union movement was disastrous.
– I cannot help but ask: Why is it that the union movement will not provide the co-operation that is required to employ members of the union movement in other industries? It is well known that South Australia is at the mercy of those who can cut off fuel at Port Stanvac simply by a decision of a union secretary. How often has South Australia stood aghast at the prospects of its petroleum supplies being cut off at the whim of one union? Today there are people unemployed in the district of Hawker because of the decision by shop stewards in the Latrobe Valley. That is the prospect in that district. What are the unions going to go in relation to co-operation to bring about economic health for this sort of community in Australia and particularly in South Australia? In making that assessment of the ethnic community in this district and of the categories of employment of those who are now unemployed, and in looking at the economic problems of this community I certainly make the assertion that Hawker will not be served in the future by a Whitlam government. (Quorum formed). I was about to finish my speech when Senator Georges called attention to the state of the House.
– Have you won any votes yet?
– In answer to Senator Cavanagh who asks whether I have won any votes, I do not make any such claim this evening. I can say that Mr Whitlam has lost a good deal of votes for the Labor Party and I have given some of the reasons in, I admit, a rather casual assessment of the situation. But to use Mr Whitlam ‘s own words, I have given reasons why the district of Hawker, because its fortunes are so deeply connected with commerce and industry, can never prosper while it is being governed by a Whitlam-Labor administration. I must say that the Whitlam Government and the Labor Party today stand discredited on their record. The record of the Labor Party is best enunciated by its leader who, as I said earlier, claimed that he came to office in a highly inflationary situation and then started to build on it in a very extreme way.
The Labor Party of course is deeply inhibited by its origins, and the dispute in Victoria today illustrates how deeply the Labor Party is divided because it is built on industrial labour. It is in fact the political arm of industrial labour and therefore it is divided in the sense that it cannot face the people and provide a coherent policy to meet the challenge of renegades who will stand against most of Australia to achieve their own selfish aims. The Labor Party is unable to speak in this or in any other place in a united fashion because it is but a political arm of industrial labour, and industrial labour is divided, disunited and inhibited by the base which it puts in this place. But of course, beyond all else, the Labor Party is impotent because of its decaying leadership. Recently we have heard the question asked: Who will lead the Labor Party at the next election. If there is to be a December election it is to be Mr Whitlam. If there is to be a May election, who is it to be? It might be Mr Hayden or Mr Whitlam. If the election is to be held in November of next year, is it going to be Mr Hawke or is it going to be Mr Dunstan? Who will lead the Labor Party a year hence? The Labor Party is discredited by its record, inhibited by its origins and impotent under its decaying leadership.
-Although I appreciate Senator Hall’s keen albeit newly-found interest in the seat of Hawker he will excuse me if I do not address myself to that topic. I always enjoy listening to Senator Hall because I think he has something of a curiosity value in this Parliament. With so many members of the Liberal Party going in the opposite direction it is really surprising to find someone who has suddenly joined it. The matter to which I wish to address myself this evening is a matter which was raised in the Budget debate on 4 October last by Senator Sheil in which he discussed various questions concerning South Africa. It may seem curious to be speaking on this subject in a debate on the Oilseeds Levy Bill but as this seemed to be the most appropriate occasion to do so I hope that those who have as keen an interest in oilseeds as Senator Hall has in the seat of Hawker will not mind if I devote myself to what Senator Sheil has said.
I feel it is obligatory for someone within the Labor Party to speak on the matters that Senator Sheil raised because the topic which he discussed is an important one and it would be very remiss, I think, of the Opposition if it were to appear that by silence the members of the Australian Labor Party acquiesced in what Senator Sheil had said.
At the outset, it seems to me that there are two types of parliamentary debaters. There are those who can be most vindictive, vituperative and offensive about the most trivial, trifling and insignificant matters, and there are those who can be the most benign, kindly and dignified while putting forward the most outrageous and horrendous propositions. Senator Shiel falls into the latter category.
During the course of his remarks on 4 October last in this place Senator Shiel debated the matter of the Republic of South Africa and referred to the position in Rhodesia or Zimbabwe and in Namibia or South West Africa. I intend to confine what I have to say to the matters raised relating to South Africa. I do this, not because I think that what is happening in Rhodesia or South West Africa is unimportant but because I think that any observer would agree that by now the die is cast. The present regimes in both of those countries are doomed. There will be a dramatic change. Whether it is for the better or the worse I concede is still open to some debate. But certainly there is little anybody here can do even if they wanted to do anything about either of those places.
This does not apply to the situation in South Africa. Although the situation is far from encouraging to those who believe in human rights and the preservation of world peace, nonetheless there remains at least a chance that the people of South Africa, the white and non-white people together, may yet be able to resolve their differences. We all hope that South Africa may yet have a chance to change its present course and salvage from the system which is operating in that country at present something which would build a permanent- insofar as any human institutions are permanent- and just society. I do not wish to do Senator Sheil any injustice but I shall summarise as best I can the points he made. He put forward what can be described as the fairly orthodox statement of views which one receives from representatives of the South African Nationalist Party Government. I do not say this in any way as a reflection on Senator Sheil but I think that anybody who persistently reads South African Nationalist publications and reads the statements of the South African Government would already have been aware of what Senator Sheil had to tell us. There is no harm in telling a good story more than once. I have frequently done that. But if the story is not so good one ought to have a look at what is contained in it.
The first point Senator Sheil made was a criticism of the United Nations. He said it was improper for the United Nations to intervene in the affairs of the Republic of South Africa in the guise that the situation in South Africa posed a threat to world peace. He said he did not believe that it posed a threat to world peace.
– I did not say it posed a threat to world peace. South Africa has the apartheid policy. The future is the threat to world peace.
-Senator Sheil does not do his own case any justice. If he were to look at the resolutions that have been carried by the United Nations he would see that the reason apartheid has been able to get on the agenda is that it has been held to be a threat to world peace. As I understand it, the reason the matter came before the United Nations -
– It has not.
– I do not want to debate the matter. If Senator Sheil now does not think that the United Nations said that South Africa is a threat to world peace that is entirely up to him. My understanding is that it has but this is not relevant to the matter we are talking about.
– It is relevant.
– I heard Senator Sheil in very great silence. I interjected only to correct him on a couple of factual errors in the course of hiss address. I expect the same courtesy from him. Senator Sheil, having made that point from which he now seems to resile -
– I do not.
-He does not resile from it. Congratulations! Senator Sheil said that he believes that there should be a re-assessment of international opposition to the doctrine of apartheid. He said that this should be done because the goal of apartheid -
– Do you know what apartheid means?
-Yes, I do know what apartheid means.
– You really do not know.
– If Senator Jessop wants to have a debate in Afrikaans at any time I should be only too delighted to oblige. I shall give him a few quotations in that language later and see how he goes on them. I know that apartheid means separateness. It was a new word which was coined for the 1948 elections. It prompted Field Marshal Smuts, the very distinguished former Prime Minister of South
Africa, to say during the course of the 1948 elections when Dr Malan, the ex-Nazi leader of the South African Nationalist Party, was using the expression apartheid: ‘What kind of hate is this apartheid?’ I think Field Marshal Smuts was at least as familiar with the Afrikaans language and South African history as Senator Jessop is. I shall return to what Senator Sheil said rather than Senator Jessop, whose contributions seem to be somewhat more muted and spasmodic on this topic. Senator Sheil told us that the goal of apartheid itself is self government; that this is something we should all applaud; that what distinguishes the policy of apartheid from other policies is that it is honest; that it arises because of the curious development of South Africa whereby a number of people of different races have come from different parts of the world and congregated within the same relatively small country; and that it arose out of the necessity of the situation to keep the various ethnic and cultural groups apart. He also said that South Africa had tried various other ways of governing its affairs, all of which had failed. Therefore, it found it necessary to turn to apartheid because of the failures of the other policies which it had applied. He said that it had tried them all- assimilation, integration, limited franchise and the destruction of the chieftain system- but none of them worked so apartheid was adopted. Senator Sheil said that the policy of creating separate homelands for the African population is a continuation of the old British policy- an enlightened policy apparently- of granting selfgovernment to indigenous people within their own territory.
– It is a tribal policy.
-That is what Senator Sheil said. If Senator Jessop does not like it he can take it up with Senator Sheil later. I am sorry to see that there is a disagreement between two people who generally would be united in their championing of the South African cause. Senator Sheil also said that under the policy of apartheid South Africa has prospered; that there has been no exodus of people from South Africa, which proves how satisfactory the system is and how everybody likes it. He said that everyone accepts the apartheid laws; that they are necessary because people of different races do not get on and they like to have things regulated in that way. He said that foreign visitors going to South Africa are carried away with enthusiasm for what they see. They are very impressed indeed.
– I cannot decide which side you are on.
-I am quoting Senator Sheil. If Senator Archer had listened a huie more intently I think he would have been able to understand what I have been saying.
– I asked which side you were on.
-I do not follow the question but I do not think it is really worth following so I will not pursue the matter.
– You have lost me.
-That would not be very difficult. Senator Jessop is hardly known in this chamber as the intellectual bloodhound. I am dealing with the points that Senator Sheil made one by one. The first one was whether South Africa is a threat to world peace. I do not want to start debating whether he said that or not. The Republic of South Africa remains a threat to world peace insofar as it is surrounded by countries which have black African populations that are not prepared to tolerate the continued suppression of people of their own race living only a few hundreds of miles away across the border. Whether they should be able to tolerate it or whether everyone says they should tolerate it, the fact remains that they are not prepared to tolerate it. They feel the same sort of sympathy for them -
-Why are there 800,000 of them in South Africa?
-I should have thought that Senator Jessop would appreciate that occasionally people want to bear arms on behalf of other people. I remember that Senator Jessop was anxious that people should bear arms in Vietnam. He was not anxious that he should go himself if I remember correctly but he was anxious that others should go. If Senator Jessop had such warm, fraternal feelings for the people of South Vietnam I do not see why he should be puzzled that people living in Zambia, Mozambique and Angola should feel exactly the same way towards their kinspeople across the border within the Republic of South Africa.
We were also told that the goal of apartheid is self-government. The goal of apartheid is not self-government. What has happened in South Africa is that 13 per cent of the land in that country has been allocated to the African population. Thirteen per cent of that country, the poorest part of the country, has been given to the people who constitute 70 per cent of the population. They have been allocated 13 per cent of the country in which to settle. One should look at the doctrines of some of the pure ideologists of apartheid- the people who were responsible for preparing the Tomlinson Commission report and the various other things which were done in the early days of the Nationalist Government. There were these honest people whom Senator Sheil has spoken about, who did talk about total territorial apartheid- the division of the whole of South Africa on an equitable basis amongst the races so that they could all be allocated territories in which they could work. But, far from being honest, what is being done by the Government in South Africa is thoroughly dishonest.
The South African Government has said that it is going to give to the African people, who constitute 70 per cent of the population, some 1 3 per cent of the area, which is to be split up into largely artificially constituted tribal and ethnic areas without any of the great wealth of the Reef- of the Witwatersrand- and of the docks of Durban, Port Elizabeth or Cape Town. The poorest part of the country is being allocated to them, while the overwhelming majority of the so-called citizens of the self-governing areas of Bantustans, such as the Transkei, are unable to earn a living within the Transkei. They have to work within the mines of Johannesburg and the Rand. They have to be separated from their families. They have to travel with passes in their own country. They have artificial citizenship in some country which they do not want and which the African people have rejected time and again whenever there has been any form of consultation with them.
– But they have to get passes to go into Tanzania.
– I am not talking about Tanzania or who has to carry a pass there. I am talking about South Africa.
– I am saying that the same thing happens in Tanzania.
-No, it does not.
– It happens in Botswana and Mozambique.
– It happens in Swaziland or Botswana! I must say that I find it very strange that members of the Liberal Party of Australia and the National Country Party of Australia are saying that it must be right because it happens in Tanzania. If it does happen in Tanzania it is deplorable and it should not happen there. But that is no excuse for its happening in South Africa. I think it is very revealing to hear from Senator Sheil and Senator Jessop. They are apparently in favour on racial grounds of the separation of families, of people having to carry passes, of people not being able to have their families living with them, of people having to produce their passes while they work miles away from where they are supposed to have their homes.
– You have a visa and passport.
– I do not have to have one to travel throughout Australia.
– But you need one to go from one nation to another.
– I am afraid that Senator Sheil is really very trying. Senator Sheil has told us about a number of most curious things. He told us, for example, that one of the reasons that South Africa has its present population structure is because the Voortrekkers left Cape Town in order to escape from the British and have their freedom. The primary freedom that they wanted was the freedom to keep slaves.
-That was denied the last time. I refer Senator Sheil to any history book on South Africa. The reason why a minority of the Afrikaner farmers left the colony of the Cape of Good Hope in 1835 was because the British colonial regime had made it impossible for them, under the laws of the then British Empire, to hold slaves. They went to the Transvaal in order to keep those slaves. I do not want to deride their great national traditions or the sacrifices they made in moving there; but the freedom that they were fighting for was the freedom to deny another man his freedom. That was their freedom. That goes deep into the ideology of the Afrikaner nationalists of South Africa.
I do not want to say any of these things in a way that appears insulting to the Afrikaners. Many great people have come from the Afrikaners. They have been responsible for great achievements, despite the oppression of the British Empire. They have been responsible for the great achievements of developing their own language, culture and literature and of maintaining their own identity. But within a very substantial section of the Afrikaner people and their ideology has been the concept that this is done because of some perverted Calvinist notion that they are God’s ordained people. When they demand freedom for themselves and the rights to preserve their own culture they say that they are entitled to achieve this end by denying to other people who live within the Republic of South Africa the same rights that they want. That, I believe, is hypocrisy. That is what is deplorable about them. If I may say so on this whole question of apartheid, which Senator Sheil has said is so honest, the doctrine that they have now come up with is an afterthought. Under that doctrine people somehow or other are going to be separate but equal. There is to be a white parliament, an Indian parliament with some sort of nebulous powers, a coloured parliament, Bantustans and all these things. These propositions have been put forward only because of international pressure against the Government of South Africa and because of the resistance of its own non-white people. It has had to come up with some sort of theory to justify its doctrine of racism.
Senator Sheil, in order to explain how wonderfully every culture was dealt with in South Africa, gave us the pleasure of having had incorporated in Hansard the Lord’s Prayer translated into various languages used in South Africa, including Afrikaans. I would like to quote another couple of lines in Afrikaans. I am sure Senator Jessop will correct my pronunciation. They were used by the Nationalists as slogans in the 1948 election, which was the time when the Nationalists were elected, and they are:
Die Kaffir opsyplek En die koelie Ult die land.
That means ‘the Kaffir in his place and the coolie out of the country’. That was said by these honest, sincere people who want to have equality before the law, an equal homeland and equal rights for equal cultures. I repeat ‘the Kaffir in his place and the coolie out of the country’. Those were the policies that the nationalists put forward. Only a few years ago- during the last decade- one distinguished nationalist, Mr Robey Leibbrandt, a former boxer who was arrested during the war when he landed in South Africa in order to work for the Nazis and was released after the war, sent a telegram to Mrs Helen Suzman, who as a guest of this Parliament and of both the present Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) and the previous Prime Minister, spoke at the parliamentary dinner which was given to her. Mr Robey Leibbrandt- speaking, I would imagine, on behalf of a great many South Africans- sent a telegram to her saying:
Mordecai alias Karl Man, the father of modern communism, was a Jew.
If one looks through any of the old Nationalist propaganda- if one looks at the material that was used in 1948 when the Nationalists were elected- one will see accusations that Smuts and Hofmeyr, his deputy leader, were secret Jews. Only today I happened to read -
– It is true. It is a matter of pride, but it is true.
-I agree. I think it is a matter of which the Jewish people of South Africa ought to be very proud. Despite the fact that they have been a minority and nave been in a difficult position, there has not been any community amongst the whites who have offered more people and taken more risks in opposition to the South African apartheid regime than the members of its Jewish population of South Africa.
– Johannesburg has the third largest Jewish population in the world.
-I do not know whether it has the third largest. It has a large Jewish population; that is right. On 24 September m the Johannesburg Star, which is a South African newspaper- Johannesburg is in South Africa, as Senator Jessop may know; I know he is an authority on the country but I do not know whether his knowledge is sufficiently deep to enable him to know that Johannesburg is in South Africa- in an article headed ‘Greeks speak out on Kruger’ it is reported that members of the Greek community in Johannesburg have protested against reported comments by the Minister for Justice, Mr Kruger. He is the man who has been making such a magnificent fist of the Steve Biko case. The same Mr Kruger has become so distinguished for his dealings with that case. He said in a conversation with Chief Buthelezi: ‘It is like the Greeks in South Africa. I mean, they are here but they are really not. I mean, in all fairness to everybody, I don’t think anybody here can really say that the Greeks and the Afrikaners are the same thing’.
– Or the English and the Afrikaners.
– All right, or the English and the Afrikaners; but what is the meaning of a statement like that? That is a racist statement. It goes beyond even the question of black and white.
– Don’t be stupid.
-I hope that any members of the Greek community who would have heard of Senator Jessop would be aware that he thinks that that is quite a commendable thing to say. ‘Afrikaner’ means a South African, yet apparently Senator Jessop would think it quite appropriate for an Australian Minister to say: ‘The Australians and the Greeks are different. The Greeks are here but they are not really here’. That apparently is a view which Senator Jessop finds quite palatable and worthy of encouragement. Since he has those views, I do not think it very surprising that he is enthusiastic about the Government of South Africa.
If one looks through the whole record of South Africa while the South African Nationalists have been in government one finds the Group Areas Act, the Bantu Education Act, the Immorality Act, the Unlawful Organisations Act, the Suppression of Communism Act and the Terrorism Act- every one of those Acts directed either to further imposing racial discrimination on the people of that country or repressing those who set out to oppose it by means which in any democratic country would be regarded as lawful. Fortunately, amongst the white population of South Africa there is not the same unanimous support for the South African Nationalist Government as one finds in people like Senator Sheil and Senator Jessop and, if I can distinguish what Senator Walters is saying, in Senator Walters also. A new party has been formed in South Africa, with representation in the Parliament. I refer to the Progressive Federal Party. They have 18 members in the South African Parliament; they are a small party.
– There is an election coming up.
-There is an election coming up amongst the whites. I would like to quote someone whom I am sure Senator Sheil would not like- Japie Basson, a very distinguished member of the South African House of Assembly, himself a former Nationalist, the son of a Nationalist senator, and the Opposition spokesman on foreign affairs in the South African Parliament. He said at the founding conference of the Progressive Federal Party, held last month in Johannesburg, that ‘there was no greater priority in South Africa ‘s politics than the banishment of race and colour discrimination’. The report of his speech continued:
It was not only the black and brown people who deserved to be liberated from the restrictions of the ruling political system, he said.
Perhaps the white man is in greater need of liberation, in greater need to be freed from fear and liberated from the threat which race and colour discrimination is to our future safety.
He needs to be liberated from the blot that race discrimination is on the name of our country, from the burden it is on our conscience and the curse it will be on our children. ‘
There was no greater priority in South Africa’s politics than the banishment of race and colour discrimination, Mr Basson said.
That was said by a white man, a man who would be conservative in his economic views, a man who has been elected by white electors to the South African Parliament.
I find it deplorable that, when we have white South Africans who are prepared to stand up within their own country, with all the risks that they suffer- people who are democrats, not revolutionaries, not looking for violent overthrow of the government, not like Mr Vorster, the idol of some of my colleagues on the Government benches who was interned during the war because of his membership of a Nazi organisation, the Ossewa Brandwag, which I am sure Senator Jessop would be able to translate as ‘the Sentinels of the Ox Wagon’- we have people here who denigrate them. I find it deplorable that, when there are white people within South Africa, people with Nationalist backgrounds, with Afrikaner backgrounds, who are prepared to stand up and be counted in their opposition to this inhuman system, we find people sitting here in the safety of Australia who are prepared to denigrate them and to support the repression of a government composed largely of ex-Nazis, and certainly composed of Nazi sympathisers.
The only few words I would say in closing are these: I do not believe it is going to be sufficient for Australia merely to be passing resolutions saying: ‘We deplore apartheid’. It is vital for the whole world that there not be an armed conflagration with South Africa. It is vital that there should be a reasonable settlement of the disputes within that country. We have to make it clear, I believe, that while on the one hand we support the human rights of all South African citizens, we are not lending our name merely to some propositions being put forward that there ought suddenly to be a violent, bloody overthrow within that country, that there be armed intervention.
What we ought to be doing, I believe, is to make it clear that, provided we can see substantial changes coming about- and even within the Nationalist Party there are changes coming about, not the phoney stuff that Senator Sheil has been talking about, not that sort of honesty, but a real honesty- even if they are somewhat gradual, to elevate the position of the non-white people, we will encourage those white South Africans, because white South Africa does have the strength and the power to lock South Africa in a bloodbath for many years, if there is any form of armed uprising there. We should give encouragement to those people to bring about those changes. That is important to us and to the whole of our world. Senator Sheil did say one thing that was correct- that South Africa is a microcosm of the rest of the world. If the rest of the world is to be conducted in the way in which South Africa is being conducted, if it finishes with the ultimate catastrophe which South Africa is surely going to finish up with unless the present policies are fairly quickly radically changed, great suffering will be created not only for the South African people but for all of us.
– On many occasions speeches on foreign affairs matters are made in this Parliament, and I believe that on those occasions the Parliament tries to achieve a certain measure of bipartisanship, including the matter which Senator Wheeldon has raised tonight. I draw the attention of the Senate to two speeches that Senator Wheeldon made in the last year, one on India and the loss of democracy there, and one on the Middle East. It is likely that there have been no finer speeches made in the Senate for a number of years, and I would like to place on record that the speech made by him tonight is entirely consistent with views that have been put forward by the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) publicly on a number of occasions. Though we are political opponents of Senator Wheeldon, he has expressed the view that was expressed by Mr Fraser in relation to apartheid at the meeting of Commonwealth Heads of Government this year. Also, he expressed a view that was entirely consistent with that expressed by Sir Robert Menzies at page 282 in his book The Measure of the Years. Even if Senator Wheeldon has told us very little about oilseeds, the subject matter of the Bill now before us, he has done a real service to the Senate by the public statement he has made on this very important matter.
I remind honourable senators that since the Senate is discussing the Oilseeds, Levy Bill, which it may not amend, one is permitted under Standing Order 190 to debate on the motion for the first reading, matters both relevant and not relevant to the subject matter of the Bill. I wish to address myself tonight to the subject of the AUS Student Travel Service, because the structure of that Service and the events surrounding its operation, its recent failure and the attempts to reconstruct it, have given me the greatest cause for concern. Many people will have noted the publicity which surrounded the failure of this organisation. I was interested, when I started reading matters concerned with it, to look first at the last annual report of Qantas Airways Ltd, the report for 1975-76,where in several places Qantas Airways drew attention in a very definite way to illegal practice in the Australian market place, to the fact that illegal discounting has been going on in Australia by a number of airlines and its concern about the effect which these illegal practices have had on the capacity of airlines to work and survive.
– They were part of it, and you know it.
- Senator Georges has made an amazing statement- that Qantas Airways has been part of it, whatever ‘it’ refers to. He may be saying that it was part of the illegal discounting practices. It is interesting to consider what AUS Student Travel Service has done, its unnaturally close association with Qantas and the way in which it has been allowed, under a moratorium, to recommence trading. I wish, above all, to state my concern that students are being placed in jeopardy, that their travel arrangements cannot be undertaken with confidence, that the moratorium arrangement is one that cannot work, and that this company is engaged in a scheme of arrangement which cannot succeed but can only adversely affect the capacity of students to obtain . low cost travel. I would like to see students able to get and to use low fares. I would like to see all young people able to get these fares, but to get them from reputable carriers and from reputable organisations, not organisations such as AUS Student Travel.
AUS Student Travel is a company incorporated in Victoria. It has been given rights to operate on campus throughout Australia under a condition available to no other travel service. It operates under a privileged situation.
– A monopoly.
-Senator Missen says that it is a monopoly. It operates under conditions not available to any other travel service in Australia because a special waiver- a unique waiverwhich was given in good faith does away with what is called the 50,000 affinity rule. It applies only to AUS Student Travel. Honourable senators would think that that would ensure its commercial viability and success. It has special conditions not available to anybody else. This travel service is not an International Air Transport Association approved travel service. It operates slightly differently. It can operate charters. It can operate charters for students and it can charge for those charters an amount of money which it can take as profit. That is perfectly legal and proper. However, because it is a non-IATA agency it should not be able to take any commission at all for anything it does in relation to scheduled air services. It should not be able to take commissions for certain tickets called SATA tickets with which I will deal later. It should be able to get its income only from its charter work and from a few other minor services such as sale of Eurail tickets and certain other all-inclusive tours.
AUS Student Travel has operating with it an associates’ club, which has enabled it to spread its membership very wide. Many school teachers and many young graduates are associated with this travel service. What has amazed me and what has disquieted people all round Australia is what has happened to this company in a favoured trading position, operating on campus virtually with a monopoly. In 1976, this company had a profit. In 1977 it has gone into liquidation with very large debts. How did AUS Student Travel come to fail?
– Why do you not give the reason for it?
– That is a question which we are entitled to ask and we are entitled to have an answer to it. I can understand Senator Georges’ concern. Senator Georges seems to have some special concern that we do not even introduce or discuss these matters. It is a matter of great concern to people why this favoured organisation should have failed. The first point is that AUS Student Travel was mismanaged in a mammoth and almost unbelieveable way. Last year’s balance sheet to 31 March showed a profit of $150,977. Its management has been so bad that there has been no balance sheet yet for the year ended 31 March 1977. In spite of the fact that it has had to go into voluntary liquidation, in spite of the fact that the auditors have been in and in spite of the fact that there has been a scheme of arrangement, there is still no balance sheet for last year. But we are told that unaudited results show that last year it has lost $1,189,000. We then have to recognise that in one year AUS Student Travel has managed to turn a healthy, handy profit of about $150,000 into a loss of $1.2m. That really takes some doing and one is entitled to ask why it happened. The questions are interesting. I said that the company has been mismanaged. The exact extent of its debts is still not fully known. It is still not possible to get an exact and reliable figure of the extent to which the funds of students have been put in jeopardy. This company is owned by the Australian Union of Students and its debt has put a lot of AUS money in jeopardy.
Questions asked recently during the Estimates committee hearing revealed some information but we could not even then get an exact statement of the amount of indebtedness. We were told that the unaudited loss at March this year was $1,189,000. We were told that in the six months that followed it is expected that its loss will be somewhere around or somewhere in excess of half a million dollars. That is fine accounting practice! That is fine practice for an organisation which had a turnover last year of $20m! It does not even know how much of the money of the Australian university students it has lost. At least, the provisional liquidator who was appointed- a man from Coopers and Lybrand- Mr Ken Russell held a Press conference after the scheme of arrangement was announced. He is reported in the Australian Financial Review of 12 September as helping us a little with some figures. He said:
This whole case is one of such exactitude! Airlines are owed somewhere between $2.5m and $3.1m. The company does not even know, to within half a million dollars, how much money it has lost. Mr Russell states further: the company had total liabilities of between $5.1 million and $5.7 million.
Total assets which were mainly in liquid form, were $3.6 million.
So whatever else we know, this travel service had got itself into an extremely serious situation by August this year when it had to close its doors. A balance sheet still has not been presented. It is very difficult to make any accurate analysis of what had gone on in this organisation in that 12 months. There is very scanty documentation in the balance sheet for the previous year which we were able to obtain. It was interesting that during the Estimates Committee hearing when I referred to the balance sheet to March 1976, the officer assisting the Estimates committee made a comment to the effect that there had been some suggestion that the results shown in that balance sheet were not correct. Here we have uncertainty heaped on uncertainty. We have unsatisfactory features heaped one upon the other. We have an officer of the Department of Transport indicating that there are suggestions that the previous balance sheet may not have been correct. We do not know just how big the debt or the indebtedness is but it is very major and very great. If it had been any other travel agency, it would have closed its doors and it would not have been able to reopen. But AUS Student Travel has been able to reopen.
What are the other reasons why this travel service failed? I draw to the attention of this Senate the fact that this Government tightened up the Air Navigation Regulations from 1 April 1976. We then attempted to implement these Air Navigation Regulations. It is interesting that it was during the period when AUS Student Travel could no longer operate at a profit that we were ensuring that the rules which applied were properly and rigorously enforced. There have been many complaints about the operations of AUS Student Travel and its failure to adhere to the Air Navigation Regulations and to the rules of conduct which apply throughout the industry. There have been all kinds of complaints, and the industry’s executive committee has passed on many of these complaints to the Department of Transport for action and investigation. Interestingly enough, it is not as though this travel company was without good management. Qantas Airways Ltd had put into AUS Student Travel for the last 18 months a Mr Gregory to be its marketing manager. The tie-up that emerges! There is a close tie, a close link, between Qantas and AUS Student Travel, with an officer from Qantas coming in to help the firm during that time. Unfortunately, he could not do much good and the firm continued to lose money.
Another observation on the failure of this company is that its expenses were exceedingly high. It has been possible to examine a document called an AUS Feasibility Study- a document which was verified during a meeting of the Estimates Committee by an officer of the Department of Transport as having come from the companyin which were set out the unaudited expenses for the last year. Let us pick out a couple of the expenses. Let us take the travelling and entertainment item. AUS Student Travel spent on travelling and entertainment approximately 20 times as much on a pro rata basis as one of the largest agencies to whom I spoke and from whom I sought information.
– But what was its turnover?
– Its turnover was $50m a year, which was greater than that of AUS Student Travel by a factor of five, and its expenditure on travel and entertainment was only a quarter of that of the student agency. I will say one thing. The people at AUS Student Travel knew how to live and they knew how to travel. They did it in a way that was not consistent with commercial viability, and they have paid the price. Perhaps I could deal with AUS Student T ravel’s telexes. I wonder who used its telex, but one of my colleagues might help me there. Its telex expenses were half as much again as those of an agency five times as large. We have here a story of mismanagement, inadequate financial records and large expenses during a period when the Air Navigation Regulations were tightened up. It all adds up to this company being unable to continue trading.
I should like to discuss in more detail some of the unsatisfactory features of this whole episode relating to the operations of Qantas and TransAustralia Airlines in AUS Student Travel. We have a legitimate interest in this Parliament in Qantas Airways. We have a legitimate interest in TAA.
– We have an interest in Ansett too.
– I hear some reference to Ansett, but Ansett Airways is not one of the creditors of AUS Student Travel. TAA is a creditor and so is Qantas, and I would remind the Senate that the debt owed by AUS Student Travel to Qantas Airways is admitted as being over $800,000. If we had the real facts, I believe we would find that it is very much greater, possibly in excess of $1m. It is my intention at a later date to place on notice a question seeking the full extent of the indebtedness of AUS Student Travel to Qantas when AUS Student Travel can give the figures. What has happened is that among the creditors who have closed AUS Student Travel are several larger airlines. They are owed varying amounts of money, but Qantas is owed most. A number of questions then arise. Qantas is not known as an airline that is free and easy with the taxpayers’ money. It maintains a good credit control over the agencies which work though it. IATA controlled agencies work through what is known as a bank settlement plan- BSP-and they operate on fortnightly settlements. They pay their bills each fortnight or their BSP plates are taken away and they do not open next day. That is the way Qantas operates, and there are numerous examples in the market place of agencies which did not open on Monday because they could not pay their bills on the previous Friday. There is something else about IATA agencies which provides a little more comfort for those who put their money in. If an IATA agency fails, let me remind honourable senators that there is an industry responsibility. When the Four Seasons Travel Agency closed recently, the industry moved in to pick up its debts and to cover those customers who might otherwise have been stranded. That does not apply to a nonIATA body such as AUS Student Travel.
I pose that question: How did AUS Student Travel run up a debt to Qantas of $800,000? What did Qantas know about it? How did it run up a debt of almost half a million dollars to TAA? Qantas has accepted from AUS Student Travel the use of a ticket called a SATA ticket- a special international student’s air travel ticketand the SATA ticket is a very interesting one. It does not have a price written on the front. It is very hard to know what price has been charged. You only know when the accounts pass back from the airline to the company. SATA tickets are extensively used by AUS Student Travel. Indeed, they are highly valued by AUS Student Travel because when it wrote its feasibility study on how it could survive it had this to say about SATA tickets:
The use of SATA tickets should continue as otherwise airlines have to use IATA rickets and indicate published fares. If SATA agreement was in danger AUS would have problems.
That is a very revealing statement in the feasibility study prepared for AUS Student Travel when it went into voluntary liquidation. It is very hard to control the prices that are being charged and whether the Air Navigation Regulations are being breached while SATA tickets are being used. That is the first thing about the relationship between Qantas and AUS Student Travel. The second thing is that AUS Student Travel believes that it gets commission for some of its operations. It is not an IATA-approved agency and it is therefore not entitled to commission. If there is any question of AUS Student Travel getting commissions, especially commissions on scheduled flights, those commissions are clearly illegal and in breach of the Air Navigation Regulations. AUS Student Travel is not an IATA agent and it is not entitled to the commissions which are paid to such agencies. If it is getting such commissions and has been getting them, that is illegal.
I remind the Senate that the marketing manager for AUS Student Travel for 18 months was a Qantas man. It is most interesting to examine how it was that a debt as large as $800,000 accumulated. Answers have been given to the Senate Estimates Committee indicating that all the charters arranged by AUS Student Travel were paid in advance. I would not think of doubting the veracity of answers given in response to questions asked by our Committee. That means that the entire debt arose from operations other than charters. If all the charters were prepaid, there could be no debt in relation to them. If there is a debt, it must have come from some other kind of operation. Qantas Airways Ltd stated that it has extended to AUS Student Travel its normal 30 day credit terms. How could AUS Student Travel accumulate a debt of $800,000 in 30 days! Anyone could multiply that out and arrive at a figure of at least $9.6m a year for non-charter work.
It is plainly an astonishing, outrageously incorrect statement. It is not possible for this debt to have been accumulated over 30 days. It is quite clear that Qantas Airways Ltd has allowed AUS Student Travel extended credit. There is no other way that such a debt could have arisen. I make the point that this is something that has been offered to no other travel agencies by a company which has tight credit control and which had no compunction about closing other travel agencies in the past. These facts are correct. Further, AUS Student Travel has built up a debt of $500,000 with Trans-Australia Airlines. It is interesting that we have had no response from TAA yet to inquiries made during the meetings of the Estimates Committee. I am looking forward to the replies which I am sure TAA is anxious to provide to the Senate in due course. I believe that Qantas has been at least disingenuous in the answers it has given to the Estimates Committee. I believe that it still has a lot to explain about the relationship it established with AUS Student Travel.
There is one other matter I wish to raise. It is very unusual for an agency to be able to re-open without putting up the cash to cover its deficiencies. It is most unusual that AUS Student Travel has been able to open under these kinds of conditions to allow Qantas to try to avoid the ignominy of its own sloppy, inefficient management.
The moratorium that has been proposed is non-viable. It cannot work. It requires enough income to overcome the loss of $ 1.2m incurred last year. It requires that AUS Travel starts operating profitably. It requires further that the Company generates enough income to repay the amount it owes to the airlines. For AUS Student Travel to move from a loss situation to one of marked profitability will require a volume of traffic which it cannot achieve. The moratorium will not work. It cannot work and it is students who will be placed in jeopardy. We worked this out. If we add to the 5 per cent allowable commission on charters the $40 surcharge that the Company intends to make, we can work out the tens of thousands of students who must be transported at these higher prices in order to allow the Company to trade out under the guidance and protection of the airlines. I am concerned about this moratorium arrangement. It is not something that can be good for students. It is not something that can be good for those students who wish to travel overseas.
We require a national inquiry. We need an inquiry to get to the bottom of what has occurred in the AUS Student Travel affair. We need to know the true size of the debts. We need to know the real relationship of Qantas Airways and TAA to the build up of the debt and to the reconstruction of the company. We need to know how the Australian Union of Students itself would come to put a further $50,000 unsecured into AUS Student Travel in the last couple of weeks. We need to get the public concerned about getting worked out the tangled financial relationship between AUS Student Travel and the airlines. We need to examine the non-viable reconstruction scheme.
Students in Australia and young people generally want low cost travel. Let us make sure they get it from a reliable carrier. Let us make sure they get it with no danger to their rights to travel. There can be no quiet on this matter until a lot more is known and until the AUS Student Travel affair is looked a lot more closely than it has been to date.
– I welcome the opportunity to speak on certain financial aspects of the economy by virtue of the first reading debate on the Oilseeds Levy Bill 1977 which is before the Senate this evening. Before I say anything further let me recall the speeches that were made by Senator Baume and his colleagues when the Loan Bill 1975 was before this Parliament. Those of us who know something about government financial regulations, Treasury regulations, financial procedures, government to government finance and operations, the workings of the Public Accounts Committee and the requirements of the AuditorGeneral recall the speeches made by Senator Baume and his colleagues on that occasion. We recall the most deplorable and outlandish statements which were made by Senator Baume and those who supported him. They reduced the prestige of this Parliament to its lowest ebb and their actions must be remembered as an exercise in futility. They were exposed for what they were.
Yet we heard Senator Baume again tonight- he has not learnt anything from his lesson of two years ago- laying down the financial policy for this country. There is an old saying: Old dogs for the hard road and puppies for the footpath’. I suggest to Senator Baume that he switch back to the footpath before he is run over when matters of financial consideration are before the Senate. Honourable senators who have spoken on financial matters that have been before the chamber for some time, whether in Budget debate or on the first reading of a money Bill, all seem somehow to think that there is great virtue in the level of this year’s deficit compared to what it was last year. Budget Statement No. 1 dealing with financial affairs shows that the actual deficit for 1976-77 was some $2,2 17m. The same document also shows that the deficit this year is some $500m less. That to me seems to purport what most of the Government senators who have spoken on these financial matters want to drive home to us on this side of the chamber. They say that there is a deficit of some $500m less. I have before me this evening a statement of expenditure of financial transactions 1977-78. This is published monthly and is known in financial circles as the Niemeyer monthly statement of receipts and expenditure for the Government. It shows that for the three months ending 30 September 1977 the deficit was running at $2,422m or some $200m greater than was anticipated. Multiplied by four to give the picture for the total year, it would mean that we have a deficit of $800m. We are going backwards.
– What about the seasonal factors?
– An honourable senator opposite says, ‘What about the seasonal factors .
– What do you say about them?
– Much stress has been made about the importance of a deficit. Before I say anything more on the Budget or on the financial arrangements of the Commonwealth, let me be permitted to repeat a point that was made by my leader, the Honourable Gough Whitlam, in his attack on the Budget in the other place on the evening 23 August 1977. 1 think it is important for honourable senators to listen to what Mr Whitlam said when replying to the Budget. He said:
It is irrelevant to the economic circumstance or the current economic needs of Australia.
To many of us that might appear to be a very forthcoming and alarming statement. I can understand that particularly to those of us who have felt over a long period of years that Budget strategy is supposed to have some beneficial effect on the economy the statement by the Leader of the Opposition might be one for consideration.
Let me take some figures from the White Paper on the national income to indicate the total effect of the national income on the economy last year. The White Paper shows that gross national product for last financial year was $81 billion. Of that amount, 56 per cent, or $46 billion, accrued to persons by way of wages, salaries and supplements. In the previous financial year, 58 per cent, or 2 per cent more than in the subsequent financial year, went to people by way of wages, salaries and supplements. In that same period, $25,8 18m, $25.8 billion, or 32 per cent of the gross national product, went to enterprises as gross operating surplus, as opposed to- and this is the point- at least 30 per cent of gross national product in the following year. This represents an increase of 2 per cent on the one hand and a reduction of 2 per cent on the other hand. I submit that it must be abundantly clear to financial students like Senator Baume and to his supporters on the Government side that one effect of last year’s Budget was to reduce by 2 per cent the share of total gross domestic product going to wages, salaries and supplements and to increase by the same percentage the amount going to enterprises as gross operating surplus.
I make this point: If it is thought that this change is beneficial, I hope some honourable senator on the other side of the chamber will get up to argue the case. In the absence of any honourable senator being forthcoming, I hope that honourable senators opposite will remain condemned as the financial troglodytes they are and which they were branded as being in 1975 in their false exposure of loan matters in that year. I repeat: I challenge any honourable senator opposite who is going to speak after me in this debate or in some subsequent financial debate to show to me how that 2 per cent reduction in wages and 2 per cent increase in surpluses is worthwhile to the economy. Returning to the import of the Budget in respect of financial considerations, I point out many Treasurers, not the least of whom was a very distinguished Labor Treasurer- I refer to the honourable member for Melbourne Ports, Mr Frank Crean- claimed that too much is asked of Budgets and too little resort is given to things which ought to be done outside the Budget.
– Did not Frank Crean say that one man’s wage rise is another man’s job?
– He said a lot of things. We made a mistake with him. We had a good Treasurer and did not realise it. But we are different from honourable senators sitting opposite; when we make a mistake we know it. In Frank Crean ‘s case not only did we recognise our mistake; we elevated him to the position of Deputy Prime Minister of this country. I think he is a man who has served this Parliament with a lot of distinction. But I repeat, as former Treasurers have said, too little resort is given to things which ought to be done outside the Budget. As an example I quote from the Budget Papers as they relate to national income and expenditure. They state:
Unemployment in Australia is rising because total employment is not rising.
Total employment in Australia has not increased in the past 2 years despite the fact that some 160,000 people would have liked to have worked but were unable to find employment. I am given to believe that 180,000 people who are willing to work will be unable to find work at the commencement of the new year. I ask honourable senators, as sensible and intelligent people: How on earth can we expect an economy to boom or to respond in that sort of situation, when people are prepared to work and cannot find jobs? I ask the Government quite sincerely: When will it do something about this situation? Surely the duty of the moment should be clear to honourable senators opposite. Unemployment is the real crisis which is confronting us today.
The Budget Papers disclose that, whilst we have a high level of unemployment, there are certain areas in which there are shortages of skills. This seems to be quite an unnatural state of affairs. It seems to me- I hope it seems to honourable senators opposite who are interested in this subject- that we should be endeavouring to match the people who are out of work with the jobs which still need to be filled. I know that, when one is in opposition, it is quite easy to put up certain propositions, but it is very difficult to achieve a result. But the fact that people are out of work and there are employers who require employees with certain skills concerns me. This leads me to the point that the situation which gravely concerns me- it is one which will concern us all in the immediate years ahead- is that we are going to be desperately short of skilled men. I wish this point to register with the Government. We are going to be desperately short of men with skills in the trades.
When one talks of skills one immediately thinks of apprenticehips. I agree, that the present apprenticeship system should be maintained and aided where necessary, as happens at the present time. There can be no argument about that. Butand it’s a big ‘but’- the big issue is that supplementary to this there should be a system whereby older youths or young men who for various reasons did not or could not procure apprenticeships can be afforded the opportunity, even when well into their twenties if need be, to obtain theoretical and practical training to permit their entry into a skilled trade. This should not be difficult to achieve. In support of that opinion I cite, for an example, the post-war training facilities afforded ex-service personnel to acquire both trade and professional qualifications under the post-war reconstruction scheme.
I further cite the substantial amounts which are available throughout Australia for academic training at universities and colleges of advanced education. Whilst I recognise the essential character and need for much of tertiary education I draw attention to some of the less practical faculties particularly those producing graduates who are now finding their degrees neither a means of gaining employment nor a contributory factor to national productivity. I submit that some of that money could be used for apprenticeship training. I believe that it is a very serious problem. Mr President, I do not need to tell you that this is a situation which calls for urgent study and investigation. I hope that will be forthcoming from this Government or from any Government which succeeds it. I turn to unemployment. In December 1975 the Hon. A. A. Street, the Minister for Employment and Industrial relations stated:
I am hopeful that job opportunities will start to increase early in the life of the new Government, but it will probably take about six months for this to happen.
On 27 November 1975 the Prime Minister, Mr Fraser, stated:
We have a comprehensive strategy to restore prosperity. The major element in this strategy is to bring about growth in production in the private sector.
In answer to question No. 679 Senator Carrick, that master of brevity, stated:
The Government’s strategy towards economic recovery and the restoration of full employment is by now well known. The Government is concerned to overcome inflation as the necessary first step in this strategy, and to reduce Government expenditure and allow room for the private sector to expand and again provide job opportunies for all Australians.
I say to honourable senators who are sitting opposite and looking intelligent, or endeavouring to look intelligent: Let us get to the bottom of this matter. What are the real facts? The Australian Bureau of Statistics estimated that 317,000-odd or 5.2 per cent of the estimated labour force were unemployed in August 1977. In August 1976, 264,000-odd people or 4.4 per cent were unemployed. In August 1975, 243,800 people or 4.1 per cent were unemployed. Yet we find that the figures for persons registered as unemployed with the Commonwealth Employment Service are considerably higher- I am using the month of August as the mean- and show the following statistics: In 1974, 107,100 people; in 1975, 248,200 people; in 1976, 267,900 people; and in 1977, 334,000 people.
But what makes the Government’s performance even more deplorable than those figures indicate is that Professor Warren Hogan, who is an adviser to the Government and a member of the Government’s economic consultative committee, has pointed out in no uncertain manner that by February 1 978 unemployment is likely to exceed 400,000 people and it may be as high as 6.5 per cent of the work force. Honourable senators on the Government side should hang their heads in shame at such a deplorable situation. If they do not want to accept the word of one of their own advisers, that is Professor Hogan, I point out that his predictions are supported by the Melbourne Institute of Applied Economics. What an object lesson this is for the Government when seen over the months it has been in office.
This Government was going to lead us out of the economic wilderness. It was going to do all sorts of things. It was going to lead us into prosperity. But what do we find the Government has done? By its performance it has been a Moses in reverse. It should be condemned. Those of us who have been around for some time recall the Liberal promises over the years. I recall the Liberal promise of putting value back into the pound, to give the boy a chance. I hark back into the distant past to Lloyd George who fought an election on the basis that if the country elected him he would hang the Kaiser. He was elected but the Kaiser died peacefully in his bed in Holland 20 years later. We have seen all these promises of the Liberal Party repudiated over the years. We know that what has been written of the Liberals down through the years is equally true of Liberals today. A great author said about them:
A merciful providence fashioned them hollow, on purpose that they might their principles swallow.
Before I resume my seat I think it is appropriate, in the atmosphere of confrontation which this Government is endeavouring to set up with the trade union movement, that I make some mention of trade unions. I have been a trade unionist all my working life. I believe sincerely that only those who have been closely associated with the trade union movement know the requirements of the working class people of Australia. Industrial disputes or strikes, as honourable senators on the Government side want to call them, represent only a small item of trade union activity. Unfortunately I say this quite concernedly- that is the item which receives the widest Press publicity while all other activities of the trade union movement pass without recognition. We have about two per cent of the trade union movement involved in strikes and that receives 98 per cent of the publicity which is given to the trade union movement. On any given day the trade union movement negotiating in industrial disputes solves thousands of problems on behalf of its members. It looks at social injustices, wage injustices, incorrect payment of wages, victimisation unjust sacking and the finding of employment for many members.
The trade union movement contributes to countless charities. Its officers and members are continually engaged in community services. They sit on committees, more often unpaid than paid, which deal with employer and employee considerations. They serve on committees of other organisations in the community which are interested in the social welfare and the economic welfare of the community. I do not think anyone can dispute that. Governments of all political persuasions readily admit that many of their most important committees- I mention this to honourable senators opposite so that they can give it a lot of consideration- are unable to function without the full support and co-operation of the trade union movement. The trade union movement will not and cannot accept restrictions upon its right to involve itself in the political life of the community, and this seems to be one of the bones of contention today. Trade unions, as the organised strength of the lower and middle income workers, have an obligation to exercise their civic responsibility and they do it.
The standard of living of the Australian people depends upon the strong demands of the unions to improve conditions, social services, education, housing and a host of other things. I have always felt that trade unions initiate the demands and they need to have a Labor Party in government to implement their policies. This is the basis of the trade union movement. It initiates the demands and looks to the Australian Labor Party in government to implement them. Can anyone in this chamber- I challenge honourable senators opposite- deny that Australian workers, after 50 years of service, are entitled to a retirement allowance many times the allowance which a worker receives today after a period of faithful and loyal service? He should be entitled to full pay when he is off work through sickness or injury. He should be entitled to free medical treatment, free education for his children, guaranteed employment and a decent home. These are political issues. Do not let us deny it. Surely no honourable senator in this chamber would challenge the right of the trade union movement to intercede in these matters. Of course no one would if he were honest with himself. Surely no one would challenge the trade union’s right to interest itself in these matters.
Having given that benediction to the trade union movement let me say that the great Australian Labor Party is proud of its association with the trade union movement and I sincerely hope that during the time that I will serve in this
Senate I will be able to work to ensure a strengthening of the great ties that exist between the ALP and that most important section of the working class- the trade union movement. As I said earlier, having given that benediction to the trade union movement I offer this suggestion very sincerely to the Government: In its policy of confrontation with the trade union movement because it thinks it will serve some political expediency, the Government, I suggest as a fellow who has been around for a long time, is on the wrong course. I earnestly suggest to the Government that it should back off before it is too late, get around the table and talk with the great trade union movement and come to some compromise solution that can only help this country.
I end my speech with these words: Parliament owes every man in this country a decent living. The answer will be that there is not enough money. If we were in danger the money would be found, yet the nation can be strengthened from the homes and kitchens of the poor as much as it can be strengthened with battleships and Fills. The working man has not forgotten the education he has got over the past 45 years. His grandfather knew poverty, his father knew the cause of it and the working man of today knows the remedy for it and looks to the Parliament, to members on both sides, to provide a remedy for it.
– I take the opportunity firstly to answer one or two points raised by Senator McAuliffe and in particular to mention the matter that he dealt with at the conclusion of his speech in regard to the trade union movement because I do not think there is any man in this Parliament who would not appreciate the great work done by the average person in the trade union movement over a long period of time to improve the working conditions of all. The point is that the trade union movement is under the domination of the left wing demagogues throughout the community who are seeking to impose political judgments on the things that are being done in the interests of people generally. We look at the situation as it arises today in Victoria and we do not have to develop that argument any further to understand the point I am trying to make.
We are all concerned with increasing the size of the cake and that is, I think, the object that Senator McAuliffe seeks. He makes the point that there was an increase of some 2 per cent in the share of the gross national product last year going to profits. Sure, that probably did occur. I have not got the figures in front of me, but clearly that was something which had to be done in the light of the destruction of business undertaken by the Whitlam Government up to 1975 and in fact the share of the gross national product going to profits in 1975 reduced from something like 15 per cent to about 10 per cent and in fact we are now restructuring that picture so as to provide confidence for the businessmen and so that they will move on and create more jobs.
Let me turn to one other matter I would like to mention tonight in respect of the oilseeds legislation. We are entitled on the motion that a money Bill be read a first time to raise subjects other than that which is directly connected with the Bill. I want to refer to the matter which Senator Baume raised earlier this evening in regard to AUS Student Travel. Indeed I think Parliament should be indebted to Senator Baume for the research that he has undertaken in that regard, to seek out the facts and figures that he has and to bring them to the attention of the Parliament and the people generally. It is pretty clear that something absolutely catastrophic occurred to AUS Travel in the last years of its operations. It appears from the figures- I was following Senator Baume ‘s speech- that AUS Travel, in the period from 1 April 1976 until the time of its liquidation, lost something of the order of $2m and this contributed quite obviously to the huge debt it now owes to seven international airlines totalling some $3.1m. Yet the feasibility study which Senator Baume brought to our attention very clearly through his very sharp analysis of the problems demonstrated that there is no way AUS Travel could trade itself out of trouble and repay that debt within five years. In fact, I am in possession of a letter which demonstrates this point very clearly. I will quote from a letter addressed to Qantas Airways Ltd from the Australian Federation of Travel Agents. I quote one paragraph, which reads:
We are informed that the Victorian Supreme Court has approved a scheme of arrangement which enables the Student Travel Service to resume trading, the objective being to attempt to trade out of a loss amounting to $3.1m plus interest over a period of five years. This will entail achieving a minimum average annual profit of $775,000 even if the tax position in the fifth year is ignored.
Later in the letter the point is made quite clearly that this cannot possibly be done under the normal legal trading arrangements to which a normal travel service is subject.
– I raise a point of order. The honourable senator is reading from a document. We have no guarantee that it is what it purports to be. I ask that the whole document be tabled.
– When he is finished. Come on.
-Yes, at the end of the speech.
-I will be quite happy to table the document at the end of my speech. Honourable senators should bear in mind- this was the point made in this letter-that the AUS Travel Service will find it impossible to trade out of this situation under normal trading conditions. That is the key to the situation. Why did AUS Travel come into being? It seems to me because of the political activities of the AUS that it is a carrot to tempt students to become members of AUS under compulsory circumstances. We all know that there is a compulsory levy of $2.50 per head in respect of the contributions to the AUS by students on campuses throughout Australia. It is a compulsory levy that the ordinary student cannot opt out of.
Cases are going forward around Australia today by individual students seeking to obtain relief from that levy. One student in Adelaide, a very brave young man, Mr Nick Xenophou has undertaken to seek an injunction to stop the payment of $8,000 in total fees to AUS which has been deducted from students’ fees by the Adelaide University and paid through the Adelaide University Students Association. Students who are brave enough and concerned enough to stand up for their rights in this matter regard several of the activities which the AUS undertakes as being ultra vires its own constitution. Clearly, the AUS is operating outside its charter. Object (a) of the Australian Union of Students says that it is to represent students of Australia internationally in matters of concern to students and to establish and maintain cooperation between tertiary institutions in all countries. Other objectives are to assist the educational, social and cultural- not political- activities of students. It seeks to defend the right to education. This is something with which we should all agree. It seeks to defend the right to conduct a free Press. That refers, of course, to the Press on campuses. It seeks to defend the rights of people to assemble in all places. Everyone agrees with these sorts of objectives. But the students who are taking action against AUS are obviously not interested in seeing their funds and the efforts of AUS go towards political activities.
– There is a means of correcting that.
-Senator Georges challenges the fact that political activity goes on. I have one or two examples from the current budget of AUS for this financial year which may indicate some of the directions to which funds are being put by the Australian Union of Students. Irrespective of one’s political viewpoint and one’s sympathies one way or another, if an organisation is formed for the purposes which are stated in its constitution it ought to adhere to them especially where there is compulsory membership- the condition under which students become members of the AUS. I do not necessarily disagree with some of the political directions which AUS on occasions may have taken. Many students would agree with some of the things that are done but a number of students disagree with the things AUS has done. I refer to a few cases. In the budget of AUS this year $1,500 is being directed to the Democratic Republic of East Timor. A further $1,000 is going to the Democratic Republic of East Timor for the purpose of paying rent for buildings and facilities; $ 1,000 is going to the East Timor campaign; $500 is going to the Pacific People’s Action Front; $3,000 is going to the Antiapartheid Campaign; $500 is going to the Squatter’s Campaign in Melbourne; $1,00 is going to the Palestine Liberation Organisation; $500 is going to the Stop Omega Campaign; and $1,350 is going to various anti-uranium groups throughout the States.
Some of the political activities of AUS may not cross the interests of most members of the association but the issue of complusion in paying a fee to the Australian Union of Students raises a big problem. I commend to honourable senators the people who are undertaking actions against the various bodies collecting these fees. I bring to the attention of the Senate the case of Mr Nick Xenophou in Adelaide who is a well-known Adelaide personality on campus. Two years ago he was elected as the editor of the OnDit magazine circulating on the Adelaide University campus. He is an independent person who ran a cam- paign without any physical organisation behind h im. Since he has taken legal action against AUS seeking an injunction against the deduction of the levy from his fees collected by the Adelaide University he has been denied access to his telephone in the office in which he puts out the newspaper. He has been harrassed by various on-campus groups opposed to the independent views he has. He has found himself the subject of a referendum campaign to seek his removal from office. The result of that referendum was known last week. He was not defeated. In fact, he won very narrowly by ten votes in a very high poll held on the campus.
– What is the complaint then?
– Order! I must point out to you, Senator Georges that painful repercussions can ensue if there is persistent interjecting and I have to call for order consistently. Please cease interjecting.
-These issues are of widespread concern to a large number of independent students in the community who do not wish to see their funds used for political purposes. I see from the Australian yesterday that further evidence of this has become available. There has been a mass desertion of AUS by students at the New South Wales Institute of Technology. This has reduced the fees which would otherwise have gone to AUS by some $7,000. Obviously those students- there are 7,000 of them- are concerned at the way in which AUS is directing the funds which it has forcibly taken from them and used for political purposes. Obviously, these people will do something about their condition.
I return to some of the matters that Senator Baume mentioned. He said that the AUS Travel Service had been mismanaged. I have evidence that it is quite possible and highly probable that the telex, telephone and other office facilities belonging to the AUS Travel Service have been used by the Australian Union of Students for its activities, including political activities. I have a letter dated 27 February 1976.I ask honourable senators to note that date. It is three months after the election in 1975. It is signed by Margaret Osman, the office manager of the South Australian Union of Students. It is addressed to the President of the Association. The first paragraph reads:
I wish to bring to the attention of the Executive that, during my absence on annual leave, an account for $2,128.51 was incurred by people connected with the ALP election campaign.
The second paragraph reads:
Despite repeated attempts on my part to make some satisfactory arrangements regarding the collection of this amount, to date no money has been received.
I am not asserting that that account was not in fact paid. Indeed, I have reason to believe that it probably was paid. The point is that by undertaking that activity the Australian Labor Party was able to avoid sales tax in respect of that printing and stationery because the AUS is in fact a sales tax exempt company. One wonders whether there was some positive move to save money through the use of this activity. I make the point that the AUS Travel Service is the body which is in fact incurring these costs. Indeed, it seems to me that unless they are properly accounted for in respect of the AUS itself and the charges are raised properly by the AUS Travel Service they would have contributed to the losses that the AUS Travel Service has suffered and that have lead to a great deal of hardship and concern on the part of a great number of people.
There are other matters that I would like to mention in that regard. There is a Telex which I understand was sent on a Telex machine owned by the AUS Travel Service and which was addressed to Mr Phil Jackson, the National Secretary of the AUS. It asks Mr Jackson to send details of publication debit notes- these are numbered- ‘for $70 and $47 as requested on 1 1 / 12/74 quickly as they are needed so that we can fiddle our funds’. The Telex is signed by Rob Bray for Mrs Osman- the same Mrs Osman we spoke of earlier in respect of the AUS office in Adelaide. I believe that these sorts of matters are of a great deal of importance and interest to students, who must require the AUS and the AUS Travel Service thoroughly to investigate them. For that reason I support wholeheartedly the point that Senator Baume has been making that we need a thorough-going investigation of the AUS Travel Service to ascertain the reason why the AUS Travel Service became insolvent, as has been indicated, and why it is going to find it extremely difficult to come back into business as a result of its latest scheme of arrangement.
I believe that the central issue in this whole matter is that the ordinary student must know where the funds that he is contributing to his organisation are going to end up. Under the present arrangements, with the political distributions and the obvious political control of the AUS, there is no guarantee that that can happen. That is a most dangerous situation in which to place any person who is a member of any organisation. I support wholeheartedly those students who are taking action in respect of seeing that their funds are handled by a properly managed association.
– I take the opportunity of debate on the motion for the first reading of the Oilseed Levy Bill to rise to make some comments. It was quite noticeable when Senator Hall spoke this evening that he was once again launching into his campaign speech and endeavouring to defeat the sitting member for Hawker, Mr Ralph Jacobi, who has served that electorate so well. On every occasion that the proceedings of the Senate are being broadcast in the future before the next election we can expect Senator Hall to take the opportunity to get upon his hobby horse and try to convince the electors of Hawker that he is the man who should represent them. In his speech tonight Senator Hall made great play about his concern for the trade unionists who live in the electorate of Hawker. I will not have time tonight to repeat or quote from Hansard what the trade union movement in South Australia thinks about Senator Hall, but I hope that I will have an opportunity before the next election once again to let the people of South Australia know what the trade union movement thought of Senator Hall when he was a member of the South Australian Parliament.
Senator Hall made great play this evening about so-called divisions in the Australian Labor Party. I want to quote some extracts from Hansard showing the great divisions that lie between Senator Hall and the present supporters of the Government and to quote some of the very snide remarks that Senator Hall made about the present supporters of the Government whilst he sat on the cross benches and some of the remarks that they made about him. We know that for political survival Senator Hall has now found himself back under the wing of the Liberal Party of Australia. It has been a real boomerang trick. He has done the full circle. He criticised that Party in no uncertain terms on every occasion that was open to him when he was in this chamber as the Leader of the Liberal Movement. Now that he is back under its cloak he would not like to have those things thrown back at him. I refer to the Senate Hansard of 17 July 1974 when Senator Hall spoke on the Senate (Representation of Territories) Bill and had this to say-
– I rise to a point of order, Mr President.
– You have just been asked by Senator Hall to take a point of order.
– Not at all. Mr President, I ask you to rule on whether Senator McLaren is in fact casting a vast amount of disrespect upon Senator Hall.
– Under what Standing Order is the point of order being raised?
– I will watch very closely whether the honourable senator is breaching Standing Order 418. There is no substance in the point of order.
-It is perfectly obvious, as we witnessed this afternoon during the urgency debate, that the honourable senators opposite do not like to have the truth rammed home to them. At every opportunity they get they take a point of order to prevent honourable senators on this side of the chamber from explaining to the people of Australia just what type of people sit opposite. I was about to quote from Hansard.
– You are casting reflections because you are quoting Senator Hall’s statements.
– I am about to quote what some of his present colleagues had to say about him. I refer firstly to Senator Wood. In speaking to the Senate (Representation of Territories) Bill on 17 July, Senator Hall said: . . any person who has spent any time observing the conduct of the Senate, the business before it and the attitude of honourable senators, knows that it is very seldom a States’ House. It is a deeply and sharply divided political place.
He was talking about the Liberal and Country Party senators.
– Who said that?
-Senator Hall said that. Senator Wood then said by way of interjection:
You do not know what you are talking about.
That was one of the many altercations that those two people had. Senator Hall went on to quote from a letter that Senator Withers had written to the Australian. Senator Withers, in his wisdom, has said many times that Liberal Party senators in this place have freedom of choice. Senator Hall quoted from the letter that Senator Withers had written to that newspaper and said that they had no freedom of choice and that they were bound by party policy. Senator Hall then had an altercation with Senator Jessop. He said:
I bring that letter to the notice of the Senate for the benefit of honourable senators and especially for the benefit of the junior senator from South Australia, Senator Jessop . . .
– Who said that?
-Senator Hall called Senator Jessop a junior senator. Of course, we know now that the junior senator from South Australia is Senator Hall himself. He was elected at the last election and he knew very well that he had no chance of getting back to this place again if he faced the electors as a senator. So he has decided to run against Mr Ralph Jacobi in the seat of Hawker. Of course, as we know, he will have no chance of winning it when the people of Hawker are acquainted with all the things that Senator Hall has said over the years both in this place and when he was in the Legislative Assembly in South Australia as a back bench member and Premier, and the way that he castigated the members of the trade unions. Yet we find him having the gall to stand up in this place tonight and read some extracts that he obtained from somewhere and try to show his concern not only for the members of trade unions in Hawker but also for the people whose birth place in outside
Australia. He said that there were somewhere in the vicinity of 11,290 people living in Hawker who were not born in Australia. He tried to point out that he had very great concern for those people.
– Before I proceed to put the question on the adjournment, I point out that Senator Messner made reference to the tabling of a certain letter. Does the honourable senator wish now to seek leave formally to table the letter?
- Mr President, I seek leave to table the letter.
-Is there any objection? There being no objection, leave is granted.
AUS Student Travel Service
– Order! In conformity with the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate, I formally put the question:
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– I take this first opportunity to make some comments about AUS Student Travel Service. We heard during the debate on the first reading of the Oilseeds Levy Bill, two contributions one by Senator Baume and one by Senator Messner, which indicated that those two senators* are engaged in a politically motivated vendetta, not so much against AUS Student Travel Service as against the Australian Union of Students itself. They are free to do that at any time they wish, and we can enter upon a debate in defence of AUS if we wish; but one thing to which I object, and to which I have objected at Question Time, is the attempt by certain senators to disadvantage AUS Student Travel Service and prevent it from trading out of its difficulty by arrangement. Let me, with the permission of the Minister for Industry and Commerce (Senator Cotton), quote a letter which I sent to him after this matter had been raised by way of question in the Senate.
– I am quite agreeable. I could not stop you using your own correspondence, and I would not even try. I thank the senator for his courtesy.
-The correspondence was directed to the Minister and I thought I would seek his consent to make that correspondence a matter of record. Following the question on the AUS Student Travel Service and the difficulties in which it found itself, I sent a letter to Senator Cotton in these terms:
Further to our conversation, may I make representation on behalf of the AUS Travel Agency. I would like you to understand that the reasons for my objection to questions in the Senate on this matter were based on the desire to prevent anything being said or done which may prejudice the survival of the agency. My concern is that the future of this worthwhile enterprise may be caught up in the political controversy that surrounds the Australian Union of Students itself.
On the information that I have it appears to me that the agency may be able to trade its way out of its difficulties with the assistance of the airlines with which it dealt, especially Qantas, and that every effort should be used to bring the parties together.
It is for this reason I seek your assistance to convince Qantas to co-operate. Under Section 181 of the Companies Act of Victoria, there are provisions for the parties to come to such an arrangement and it is in the interests of Qantas to do so. The annual turnover of business with Qantas and TAA amounts to approximately$11m per annum, which would represent a significant proportion of the turnover of these companies. The collapse of AUS Student Travel would lead to a dispersal of this business to other airlines.
I believe that is the motive of the two senators concerned. They would prefer to see this business dispersed to other agencies, and that is the motivation behind the federation which wrote that letter which Senator Messner read. They are after that business, and Senators Baume and Messner have become parties to that endeavour.
– What nonsense.
– I quote further:
As I understand the situation AUS Student Travel because of its cheaper price structure has been of great benefit to students, to the tourist industry and to the airlines. I do not doubt that there may have been faulty accountancy procedures which did not reveal a loss trend earlier but surely this can be corrected and prices adjusted to reverse the trend especially since discounts given have been very generous. The alternative is a collapse in which many hundreds of students will lose substantial sums and creditors will be seriously affected.
I appeal to you to use your influence through your Department to assist this student enterprise that has in the past assisted so many people.
Let me put it to the Senate that AUS Student Travel in the early stages of its operation did everything possible to set up an accounting procedure which would satisfy its auditors. In fact it asked its auditors to set up such an accountancy procedure. The auditors were Hungerfords- and no mean firm is Hungerfords. This was the firm that was approached to set up the accountancy procedure. The firm was the auditor which directed the type of system that AUS Student travel should use.
There has been some question about the profit at the end of 1975-76 and 1976-77. It has been said that because of some qualified audit what was a profit was in fact a loss. But the seriousness of the matter as far as AUS management was concerned was that it worked on the basis of the previous figures that indicated that the organisation ran at a profit. For that reason, AUS Student travel continued to give substantial discounts to students. Let me put this to the Senate: The discounts that AUS Student Travel was giving to students was 49 per cent. In my mind that was an over generous discount. But many many -
– Forty nine per cent of what, Senator?
-Forty nine per cent discount of the full price.
– Charging 5 1 per cent.
– Yes, charging 51 per cent. From the information I have it was giving a 49 per cent discount. That was a substantial discount. Many people in the community took advantage of it. I am assured that, before AUS Student Travel tightened up its procedures, many leading citizens in public service departments took advantage of the AUS Student Travel discount fare to travel particularly overseas. I can give the Senate the name of the head of a government department, if I so desired to do so, who used AUS Student Travel to get a discount.
– Give us his name.
-No, not at this stage. I ask the honourable senator not to push me to that point. If Senator Baume were to understand the market place, he would understand why Qantas Airways Ltd used AUS Student Travel to its own advantage.
– Will you explain to me, Senator?
– If the honourable senator was not engaged in a profession that is fairly closed, he would know that arrangements are made in the marketplace by which certain charges are made. But there are also secondary arrangements which allow for substantial discounts. One can argue that such arrangements are illegal and that they break regulations. I will admit that Qantas Airways Ltd was party to the breaking of regulations.
– Thank you, Senator.
– Thank you. It is what it is about- Qantas and AUS Student Travel together.
-Yes, OK. They disregarded certain regulations in the market- place in order to survive commercially. If Qantas h ad not taken advantage of AUS Student Travel to enable it to discount flight fares, Qantas would have been at a disadvantage when compared with overseas airlines that were doing exactly the same thing. What sort of imposition was the Government prepared to put on Qantas or on TAA? The honourable senator knows as well as I do that when one buys theatre tickets in a group booking arrangement one gets the discount price but if one buys singly one pays the highest price. Another example is in the case of tyres. If one forms an association of people- one could do this openly before the trade practices legislation came into force but now one has to do it under cover- one can arrange to buy tyres at a discounted price. This sort of discounting arrangement is going on all the time. That is the nature of the market, and the honourable senator ought to understand this fact. AUS Student Travel was assisting Australian airlines to survive economically. The problem of AUS Student Travel was that it discounted too heavily. It was giving a 49 per cent discount.
– This will make good reading, Senator.
– Yes, of course it will make good reading. It will make accurate reading. I am saying that commercially there was no other way for these companies to operate. In fact, there was a symbiotic arrangement that enabled them both to do business well. The problem, however, was that AUS Student Travel was discounting too heavily. I would not be surprised if there were many honourable senators opposite who, when they were students, did not take advantage of AUS Student Travel to go overseas. I know that my youngsters were able to go overseas and to return at half the determined price. If they had not been able to get that discounted price, they would not be able to travel. That is what AUS Student Travel has been able to do for many students. Now a scheme of arrangement operates. I approached the Minister who was responsible to see whether some arrangements could be made to help commercial enterprises that were in difficulty to survive. All AUS Student Travel needs to do is to reduce the discount from 49 per cent to 40 per cent and it could trade itself out of difficulty. What is said in the letter is correct. If AUS Student Travel cannot maintain that discount it will not be able to get out of difficulty. These international arrangements suit only certain organisations. Most of the regulations which are laid down are broken more often than they are kept. If AUS Student Travel keeps to those regulations that the travel agencies want to place on it possibly it will not be able to trade out of difficulty. I believe that if AUS
Student Travel is allowed to operate as it has operated in the past without giving such a substantial discount, it will trade itself out of difficulty.
It is completely dishonest for honourable senators to come into this place and make such charges against Qantas Airways Ltd and TransAustralia Airlines for taking advantage of the arrangement with AUS Student Travel in this way. It is dishonest, especially when, I would say, most honourable senators opposite- especially those who belong to the National Country Party- will take a government warrant and use it with Ansett Airlines of Australia, not TAA.
– Oh !
– Yes, that happens. I guarantee that most members of the National Country Party would use their government warrants with Ansett. To my mind, that is a highly questionable practice. To my mind it was a highly questionable practice that members of the National Country Party should use government warrants to travel on Ansett when attending a conference at Mount Isa. I believe it would be a dishonest practice on the part of Cabinet members if they were to use government warrants to travel to Brisbane on Ansett. If we are looking at dishonest practices, they are dishonest practices. They are questionable practices. If we are to talk about what is happening in the market place, the wheeling and dealing and the contraarrangements that go on in the market place, we have to understand the reality of the situation. If we want to impose on Qantas and give it no way out in regard to the regulations that are laid down internationally and which every other organisation breaks, then, of course, Qantas will be at an economic disadvantage. The motive behind the remarks of both honourable senators today is to disadvantage AUS Student Travel because they want to disadvantage the Australian Union of Students. More than that, they want a dispersal of that business to other travel agencies which have not been able to get into the arrangement. Why should AUS Student Travel not have priority of business with its own students?
– Because it does not have the business capacity to look after it.
– It had the business capacity to do just as well as Patrick Partners, for instance, in the past. A couple of members of this Parliament were members of Patrick Partners and did not do so well.
– Who were they?
-I am not raising that matter now.
– You said that there were a couple of members? Who were the members? That is a dishonest statement.
– If, in a subsequent debate, the matter of the securities industry -
– Go to water.
-I will not go to water. The honourable senator knows that I will not go to water. But I do not think it is necessary to go into the matter. I am merely saying in reply to an interjection that Patrick Partners was mismanaged; it was poorly managed. It had good accountants and good auditors. It was advised by those accountants and those auditors. If I recall correctly, the audited statements turned a $7m profit into a $7m loss for the Mineral Securities company. That was very poor advice with which the accountants came forward and poor auditing, if I recall correctly. There may have been a similar error in the case of Patrick Partners. All commercial judgments may have been made on the basis of a profit in a previous year which subsequently was disclosed by the same auditors as a loss.
– It is quite stupid logic to use one loss situation to justify another.
– The directors were unaware of the loss situation. If Senator Hall’s auditors and accountants were to come to him and say that he had made a $126,000 profit he would say: ‘We will proceed with the same discounts, the same prices and the same arrangements for the next 12 months’. If at the end of the next 12 months they came to him and said ‘We were wrong last year, it was not a $ 126,000 profit but a loss’, the decision to continue as previously would have been a decision made in error. That is what happened with AUS Student Travel. If it had been established that AUS Student Travel was operating at a loss because of the high discounts it was giving, it could have rearranged its business slightly to get itself out of the problem. This is exactly what has happened to this travel agency. It has a chance of trading itself out of its difficulties. It does not do honourable senators opposite any credit to continue to attack this travel agency when it is trying to trade itself out of its difficulties.
I am saying that my letter to the Minister who was responsible at the time, not the Department of Transport, was the responsible way of handling the matter. I am saying that the methods used by Senator Baume, of extensive questioning before the Estimates committees and raising the matter again in this debate tonight, are the wrong methods. They will prejudice AUS Student Travel in its recovery. If that is the intention of both Senator Baume and Senator Messner, they have done a darned good job. My purpose is to endeavour to put the other case. I am saying that it was a worthwhile agency that did a reasonable job for many thousands of students and will continue to do so. If it has got into difficulties and has made arrangements to which a court has agreed, then of course we should encourage those arrangements and we should assist this group to get out of its difficulties.
I may have become somewhat excited over this issue, but that is my southern nature which flares from time to time. It seems to me to be quite unjust that honourable senators on the Government side should be continually attacking the Australian Union of Students. If it is in error, or if honourable senators opposite believe that its present leadership nas become discredited, they should be encouraging students to do what they ought to do- participate in the meetings which lead to the election of officers at the very top of AUS. What they ought not to be doing is encouraging students to opt out and to start saying: ‘It is a matter of conscience whether you pay your fees or whether you do not pay your fees’. Even at a high school there is a compulsory requirement to pay a sports fee unless hardship can be shown. At the State schools with which I was familiar it was a requirement that each and every one of us should pay each year a fee to enable us to carry out certain sporting activities.
The Australian Union of Students imposes a levy of $2.40- the price of three packets of cigarettes- and each student throughout Australia is obliged to pay that levy. For goodness sake, are we going to encourage students or groups of students throughout Australia to withdraw on the basis of conscience from paying $2.40 a year towards the operation of a national organisation? If that organisation is not carrying out its constitutional charter then there are means of correcting that. It can be corrected by participation; by taking an interest in the elections. If a minority has gained control of an organisation like the Australian Union of Students then it is the fault of the many indifferent students who do not care. All that Government senators are doing is encouraging students who do not care to take a further indifferent attitude and opt out of paying $2.40 a year to keep the organisation going. I am surprised that they should put that proposition. I have referred to compulsory levies, and every Government senator pays compulsory third party insurance and does not object as a matter of conscience. They have to pay it because it is for the common good.
– But we do not pay it to the Labor Party.
-No, but the point is that you pay it. All sorts of compulsory levies are imposed on primary producers, and Government senators would not encourage any of them as a matter of conscience to withdraw from paying. To me that would be quite extraordinary, but I should be used to extraordinary positions being taken by the Government. I reaffirm what I said before about AUS Student Travel. It should be separated from the Australian Union of Students and its political activities, if honourable senators opposite want to say that they are political.
– They are.
-Then argue that separately, but do not prejudice a commercial organisation which has done so much in the past and which can do so much in the future.
– I want to speak for only five minutes to support the case made by Senator Georges on behalf of the AUS travel agency.
– It is called AUS Student Travel, actually.
-You had your go a while ago when you spent a destructive half hour trying to wreck what was left of AUS Student Travel. I think that youngsters who try to make a go of lots of things need some support, and I am prepared to support them. Even if certain accounting procedures were not being properly carried out, that is not a reason for the Government to send the whole issue down the drain, and that is precisely what Government senators are trying to do. Senator Jessop made a naive interjection a moment ago when he said that the Labor Party might be able to get a subsidy out of third party insurance premiums. At least that would be more honest than getting it from speculators in the land selling game.
There were people who did bludge on this travel service- ‘bludge ‘is a word which has been coined by the Liberal Party since it has been in government- and they did it very effectively indeed. But for all the people who did that, there were many others who needed the assistance of the agency in order to travel. There is a Liberal
Party senator on the other side of the House who divides his favours between mining companies and a travel agency. I understand that he has just been appointed as a director of a very strange mining company, but I will have more to say about that at a later date, before too many people start speculating in it.
– I think one of them went bankrupt.
-Several went bankrupt but this one has not yet gone bankrupt. It is just floating. Those are dishonest practices also. Some years ago when Senator Cotton represented the tourism portfolio in this chamber I asked numerous questions here about fly-by-night tourist operators. I recall a small group in Queensland which largely battened on to pensioners. They got $2,000 or $3,000 out of them and overnight disappeared to Hong Kong. Nobody on the other side of the chamber tried to do a thing about protecting the people who had invested their life savings, in many instances, in order to have an overseas visit in their late middle age or early old age. There was no protection for them. At least none of the directors of AUS fled Australia. It was one of those things that came unstuck. With assistance from government and from the airlines concerned and a genuine desire to re-establish the company, it can succeed and it ought to be given the opportunity to succeed. We saw tonight two Government supporters trying to carve up what is left of that company for their own friends in the travel industry. They came here tonight with the express purpose of carving up that company between their friends. We have had statements from the Government on numerous occasions that some sort of protective legislation was to be introduced. The statement has been made again quite recently. The Minister who is looking into this matter is one of those I referred to yesterday as the mirror Ministers. He is still looking into it. I hope that some time in the immediate future something will be done and that it will be done on a proper basis. I hope that the attack on this particular travel organisation ceases from here on in in order to give it a chance to trade itself out of difficulties.
- Senator Georges made a quite extraordinary speech tonight. In that speech he pointed out that AUS Student Travel was unable to understand the financial advice given to it by consultants and that therefore it is not to blame.
– I said nothing of the sort.
-You talked about the accountants -
- Mr President, I am being misrepresented.
– Order! Senator Georges may speak at the end of Senator Baume ‘s remarks. I call Senator Baume.
- Senator Georges drew attention to the advice the travel service had received from its accountants and emphasised the incompetence of the board of management of this travel service. That is the first point. It is incompetence that drove the travel service into the position it is now in and it is incompetence in other areas which has landed people in much worse trouble than that experienced by AUS Travel. The next part of Senator Georges’ speech was quite extraordinary. He outlined to the Senate in words of one syllable that not only had illegal practices been the order of the day in the travel area but also he admitted and acknowledged in a way that I find quite extraordinary that Qantas -
- Mr President, I take a point of order. I am not sure about this and I seek your guidance. I think Senator Baume is out of order. He has already made a lengthy statement on the subject today and is returning- certainly in an adjournment debate- to precisely the same subject. I am not quite sure whether that is permissible.
– If the honourable senator is introducing new material he is entitled to speak.
– Thank you, Mr President. I found what Senator Georges said most instructive. He has admitted that Qantas and AUS Student Travel have taken actions which have breached the regulations. Honourable senators are indebted to Senator Georges for that admission. He has made it clear that the illegal practices in the market place have extended to Qantas. It is interesting that in the feasibility study which was put out by AUS Student Travel, on which they based their program of recovery, the following statement appears:
An assumption has to be made that Qantas, Thai and MAS will continue to trade in the ‘spirit ‘ of the past.
I found it difficult to know what that meant, but Senator Georges appears to have clarified it for me. He said that not only are these illegal practices taking place but also that we should continue to allow them to take place. He makes a case for us to ignore the air navigation regulations which are designed for the management and regulation of the industry. I am indebted to the honourable senator for what he has said about secondary arrangements. I am concerned that his answers do not tie up completely with some of the responses that we have received from Qantas Airways Ltd and from AUS Student Travel at this stage. It is most interesting that the honourable senator has this knowledge of the irregularities going on in the market place. I believe it is necessary that the air navigation regulations should be applied, and that they should be applied across the market place. They should be applied to AUS Student Travel as well as to all the airlines and any other travel agency.
Senator GEORGES (Queensland)-Mr President, I wish to make a personal explanation.
– Does the honourable senator claim to have been misrepresented?
-Yes. I would like to make the position perfectly clear. The advice that the accountants gave to AUS Student Travel was that the agency had made a profit when in reality it had made a loss. It was not that the students who managed the concern did not understand. What I said was that the advice given by the accountants and the auditors was incorrect. Without the students knowing this they made certain commercial judgments which were also incorrect. Those judgments were based on figures which were given to them by the auditors. The honourable senator can take that back as far as he likes and in any way he likes, but that is the reality of the position. It was not that the students misunderstood. They were given incorrect information upon which they based their judgments.
- Mr President, I was not privileged to hear either the whole of the Adjournment Debate relating to AUS Student Travel or the earlier debate at the first reading stage of the Oilseeds Levy Bill in which a number of honourable senators participated. The matters concerned directly two of my colleagues. Firstly, the Minister for Transport (Mr Nixon) whom I represent in this place and, secondly, my colleague Senator Cotton, who in his capacity as Minister in charge of tourism, has a direct responsibility in this matter. I do not seek to canvass any of the issues raised tonight. It is clear that a number of allegations have been made from both sides of the chamber concerning the proprieties or otherwise of the conduct of AUS Student Travel. It is clear that those allegations and assertions demand a very close study. In the interests of those who are the clients- the students- it is imperative that this should be so. It is imperative that any travel agency should be so conducted that those who use it are not imperilled. In that spirit I will direct the text of the Hansard of today where relevant to both of my colleagues and ask them to make an intensive investigation of the matter and to take what action is appropriate within that context.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 1133 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated:
asked the Minister representing the Minister Assisting the Prime Minister in Public Service Matters, upon notice, on 16 August 1977:
– The Minister Assisting the Prime Minister in Public Service Matters has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
asked the Minister for Industry and Commerce, upon notice, on 24 August 1977:
Has the Minister’s attention been drawn to the article Norma Tullo Ends Her Reign- For Want of Australian Wool Fabric’, published in the Sydney Morning Herald on 18 August 1977, which referred to the paucity of woollen fabrics available in Australia; if so, what action, if any, is the Government taking to stimulate the production of woollen fabrics within Australia.
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
On 23 August 1977 I answered a similar question without notice on this matter.
The wool textile industry in Australia has unfortunately been contracting over the last decade, due to a number of factors including changes in the market for its products. Nevertheless, a wide range of woollen apparel fabrics, both woven and knitted, is available from local producers. In a relatively small and sophisticated market like Australia, it is not always commercially feasible to produce every type of fabric which is in demand, particularly highly specialised fabrics in very limited quantities.
The Government is in close contact with the wool textile industry on its problems. A wool textile industry study group comprising the industry, the union, the Australian Wool Corporation and the Depanment of Industry and Commerce has been set up at the request of the industry to conduct and indepth study of the industry’s current problems and future prospects and how best it may reorganise its activities to ensure its long term viability.
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice, on 6 September 1977:
– The Acting Treasurer has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice, on 6 September 1977:
– The Minister for Primary Industry has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
The honourable senator is referred to the answer given by the Acting Treasurer to question No. 1272 (.Hansard, II October 1977, pages 1276-77).
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations, upon notice, on 25 August 1977:
– The Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
I refer the honourable senator to the Acting Treasurer’s answer to his question on notice No. 1272 (Senate Hansard of 1 1 October, pages 1276 and 1277).
asked the Minister for Education, upon notice, on 6 September 1977:
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
I draw the honourable senator’s attention to the Acting Treasurer’s reply to question No. 1272 (Hansard, 11 October 1977, pages 1276-77).
asked the Minister for Social Security, upon notice, on 6 September 1977:
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
Should the honourable senator require information concerning specific programs administered by the Department of Social Security I snail endeavour to meet his request.
asked the Minister for Administrative Services, upon notice, on 5 October 1977:
Has the Federal Government decided to meet the costs of a medical orderly for the former Liberal Prime Minister, Sir Robert Menzies, as reported in The Sydney Sun-Herald of 1 1 September 1977; if so, (a) what is the estimated annual cost of providing the medical orderly; (b) is there a precedent for this decision; (c) who made the decision to provide the medical orderly; (d) was the provision of a medical orderly recommended by the personal medical attendant to Sir Robert Menzies; if so, what are the details; and (e) was a means test applied before the decision was reached for the Commonwealth to meet the cost involved.
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
I have nothing further to add to the comments I made in Estimates Committee A on 1 2 September 1 977 ( Senate Hansard, Estimates Committees A and C, pages 307 and 308).
Commonwealth Natural Disaster Assistance Arrangements
-On 13 September 1977 (Hansard, page 737) Senator Keene asked me, as Minister representing the Prime Minister, a question without notice relating specifically to the recent bushfires in the Kilcoy area of Queensland and generally to the type and level of assistance that is provided by the Commonwealth to a State in the event of such a natural disaster. The honourable senator also asked whether the Premier of Queensland had written to the Prime Minister seeking Commonwealth assistance in respect of the Kilcoy fires. The Prime Minister has provided the following information for answer to the honourable senator’s question:
The States have significant responsibility for the implementation of natural disaster relief and restoration measures. However there are arrangements, now well established, under which the Commonwealth provides support of expenditures by the States on agreed relief and restoration measures in respect of particular disasters.
When natural disasters causing damage and destruction occur in a State, the Commonwealth stands ready to join with the State Government concerned on a $ 1 for $ I basis in meeting expenditure on the immediate relief of personal hardship and distress, except where such expenditure is of a very minor nature. Such expenditure may cover provision of food, clothing, shelter and repair of homes to make them habitable and secure.
In respect of ‘major’ disasters, the Commonwealth also assists with expenditures on other agreed relief and restoration measures when the expenditures are considered to be beyond the capacity of the State concerned to meet from its own resources. In specific terms, the Commonwealth meets all expenditures by a State in a year on agreed measures necessitated by major disasters in excess of a certain base amount set for that State. The annual base amount which has applied for each State since 1 97 1 is as follows:
For these purposes, ‘ major’ disasters are regarded as those necessitating expenditures on agreed relief and restoration measures in excess of one-tenth of the States’ base annual expenditure.
The relief and restoration measures for each disaster are agreed having regard to the particular circumstances applying. However, assistance for the following measures has been applicable when warranted in respect of the types of disasters indicated:
The Commonwealth usually does not provide grant assistance for the repair or restoration of private assets damaged or destroyed as a result of a natural disaster. Major exceptions have been where widespread damage has occurred; e.g. bushfires in Tasmania in 1967 and flooding in Queensland in the early pan of 1 974.
It is understood that in respect of the Kilcoy fires, the damage done was of a limited nature and did not warrant the Premier writing to the Prime Minister on the matter.
-On 13 September 1977 (Hansard, page 736) Senator McAuliffe asked me a question, without notice, concerning speculation on resources tax. I undertook to advise the honourable senator further on this matter. The Prime Minister has supplied the following information in answer to the honourable senator’s question:
I And that I have nothing I wish to add to my reply to a question without notice on resources taxes (House of Representatives Hansard, 14 September 1977, pages 1082-3).
-On 4 October 1977 (Hansard, page 1004) Senator Wriedt asked me, as Minister representing the Treasurer, a question without notice concerning the Swiss financial group Credit Suisse. The Treasurer has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
Credit Suisse has a high international reputation. I am informed that, contrary to Senator Wriedt ‘s assertions, no prosecution by the Swiss National Bank has been instituted against Credit Suisse.
I am also informed that the amount of $US786m referred to by Senator Wriedt was not improperly directed by Credit Suisse as he alleges; these funds were fraudulently placed by the former branch management of the Chiasso Branch and the persons involved are being prosecuted.
Credit Suisse is the oldest of the ‘ big three ‘ Swiss commercial banks. An affiliate corporation- Credit Suisse White Weld- continues to rank among the first three managers for international bond issues in Europe. This corporation acted as one of five co-managers for the Commonwealth’s $US bond issues in Europe in 1976 and 1977.
The bank’s latest interim balance sheet covering the 6 months to 30 June 1977 showed an increase in total assets over this period of SFl,372m ($A530m) to SF43,036m ($A16,162m).
In a report accompanying the latest balance sheet the Chairman has stated that gross income of the bank for the first half of 1977 was considerably above that for the corresponding period last year and that he expected the dividend rate would be maintained.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 19 October 1977, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1977/19771019_senate_30_s75/>.