30th Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Condor Laucke) took the chair at 10 a.m., and read prayers.
Imprisoment of the Most Reverend Francis Nguyen Van Thuan
-I present the following petition from 2,639 citizens of Australia:
To the Honourable the President and members of the Senate in Parliament assembled. Your petitioners most humbly pray that the Senate, in Parliament assembled, will take the most urgent steps to ensure-
That the Prime Minister and the Federal Government voice emphatic protest to the Vietnamese Government about the continued imprisonment of the Most Rev. Francis Nguyn Van Thuan, Co-adjutor Archbishop of Saigon, and call for his immediate release.
We also call on the Federal Government to inquire into the whereabouts and well being of Archbishop Thuan who has been under house arrest since 1 5 August 19/5.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray.
Petition received and read.
Continuation of Evening Classes in the Australian Capital Territory
– On behalf of Senator Ryan, 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 respectfully showeth:
That evening college students in the Australian Capital Territory feel that because classes are closing at the end of October, they will be disadvantaged when competing against New South Wales students for their higher school certificate. Your petitioners most humbly pray that the Senate, in Parliament assembled, should request the Minister that he ensure that evening college classes will be continued into mid-November.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray.
Petition received and read.
– Petitions have been lodged for presentation as follows:
To the Honourable the President and members of the Senate of the Commonwealth in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
That where whole or part of a deceased estate passes to the surviving spouse it should be free from Federal estate duty.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Senator Sibraa, Senator Cotton and Senator Scott.
To the President and members of the Senate assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned citizens (students, parents, teachers) of Australia respectfully showeth:
That the decision by the Government to withdraw all forms of financial assistance to students of non-State tertiary institutions is in total conflict with stated government education policy.
The decision will result in a shortage of places for training secretarial and clerical students and an inordinate demand upon the State government education systems.
At a time of severe economic disruption, this action must lead to a serious worsening of the current employment situation, particularly school leavers.
Your petitioners, therefore, humbly pray that the Federal Government will act immediately to reverse its decision.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Senator Douglas McClelland.
– I ask the Minister for Administrative Services: Has he been informed that the Western Australian Government has introduced a Bill into the Western Australian Parliament to amend that State’s electoral legislation to preclude illiterate voters from voting by way of postal vote and also to prevent presiding officers in Western Australia from accepting written material giving a preference or an order of preference as an illiterate voter’s instruction?
Will the Minister agree that such legislation will make it more difficult rather than easier for such people to cast a vote in State elections? In view of the Minister’s statement to the Senate last night that, if the present Government is returned to office, it will completely rewrite the Commonwealth Electoral Act to bring it up to date next year, will he ensure that it will be more enlightened legislation than the present Western Australian Bill? Further, will the Minister request the Commonwealth Australian Electoral Officer to take all steps within his power to advise all Australians especially Aboriginal Australians of their rights to enrol and cast a vote for House of Representatives and Senate candidates at the elections next month.
-I have seen reports of legislation proposed for Western Australia. I have not seen the legislation. I do not know what is in it. Really I regard it as none of my business in a ministerial sense. I assure the honourable senator that there is no intention to deal with this area in the Commonwealth Electoral Act. The most recent experience that the Commonwealth Government has had with Aboriginal electors was in the Northern Territory elections. I shall quote from a publication called Gabalgu Juna. It was edited and published at Maningrida by a group of Aborigines. On pages two and three it runs a story headed ‘Good Job, Electoral Office’. It states:
The NT Division of the Australian Electoral Office-the government people who are in charge of running the voting in the Northern Territory and making sure that everything is straight- did a good job in this year’s voting.
The article goes on in that way. As a result of the steps taken by the Electoral Office in the Northern Territory, no Aborigine was disadvantaged in his attempt to vote. That is still the Government’s intention. I understand that my colleague in the other place, Mr Viner, was asked similar questions by the media when he was in Western Australia yesterday. He and I are totally agreed that there is an obligation on the Government to do more in an educational process for all people in Australia who are suffering from some disadvantage through language difficulties or educational problems so that they can vote according to their intention. That is the Commonwealth Government’s policy. We will continue to pursue it in that direction.
– I preface a question to the Minister for Science by saying that as summer is approaching a lot of people in Australia will be worried about snake bites. How many people in Australia each year die of snake bites? Can the Minister advise of any research by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation into a new Johnson snake bite antidote? Is it true that the old Johnson snake bite antidote is regarded by many people as something that should be in everybody’s home medicine chest? Can the Minister go into great detail about the history of that particular snake bite antidote? Can he advise where Johnson’s snake bite antidote can be obtained? What action has been taken by the Minister to have it included in the national health list, if not for everyone, at least for pensioners? Does the Minister subscribe to the theory that its remedial benefits are as remarkable as he has been heard to recount at length?
-The question is difficult to answer.
– Down by the overlanders camp.
– I can only take the advice of Senator Sir Magnus Cormack that the question flows from a poem by A. B. Patterson. Apparently Senator Townley has studied that poem. I do not know how many people in Australia die from snake bite, but the poem recounts that 10,000 men in India die each year from snakes alone. I think that would be where the basic wording comes from. Research is going on into, snake bites, as Senator Townley would know. Research has been carried out for quite a long time into developing an antivenene that may assist. Of course, the problem of having an antivenene available when a snake bites is as difficult to overcome as the problem of developing an antivenene for the sting of the blue ringed octopus, which has not been overcome. I think it would be best if I were again to study the poem and see Senator Townley later about the matter.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs. By way of preface I refer to the fact that Australia is a signatory to the Refugee Seamen’s Convention, which provides for certain people to be given identity documents if they leave their country under political duress. It is in that context that I raise the case of the Ghanaian seaman, Mr Eric Adjei, who appears to have been flown out of Australia to Britain and then been sent back here and who is now in a state of limbo. I put it to the Minister that if he is a seaman there appears to be the alternative of utilising the Refugee Seamen’s Convention or granting him sanctuary in Australia. I would like the Minister to explain why that Convention was not utilised in this case.
– I am aware of the case that has been mentioned by Senator Mulvihill. I read with some interest the report on it in the Press of, I think, this morning. I have no information as to how the situation has been dealt with by the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs. I will refer the matter to him and obtain an answer for Senator Mulvihill as soon as I can.
– I address a question to the Minister for Education. I refer to the decisions made earlier this year in relation to grants presently being made to independent business colleges and the allowances being paid to students attending such colleges. Can the Minister advise whether further consideration has been given to this matter and to representations on the matter to the Minister by me and many other honourable members and honourable senators on the Government side of the Parliament? Is he in a position to advise the Senate of the present situation?
– All honourable senators will know that the question of the future of some 18 non-government business colleges has been one that has given the Government very considerable concern over two years and that has given rise to a series of questions and petitions. The actual problem itself is intractable because either solution presents a complex of difficulties. During 1977 fee subsidies have been paid to some 18 business colleges for some 4,000 full time students and about half of those students have attracted Tertiary Education Assistance Scheme allowances. In addition, there were others outside the scheme who claimed that they ought to be put in it. The previous Government had determined to freeze the numbers. It faced similar difficulties.
The Government has had a review made of the matter. It has decided to continue the limited support to the existing non-government business colleges and interim funding will be provided in 1978 to those colleges currently receiving supportonthepresentbasis,aftermakingsomeallowance for cost increases. Consistent with this approach, full time students in the colleges concerned will continue to be eligible for TEAS allowances. The Tertiary Education Commission will be invited to examine the position and report on rationalised arrangements for assistance in the longer term.
-My question to the Leader of the Goverment in the Senate relates to my question to him yesterday about statements made in Mount Isa by the Premier of Queensland. Will the Minister give an assurance to the Senate and the people of Queensland that where Australian Government funds are provided to the Queensland Government they will be used strictly in accordance with the guidelines set down by the Australian Government?
-I thought I had done that yesterday. If I did not, I now do it.
– My question, which I address to the Minister for Social Security, concerns the funding of programs for youth during the school holidays. Is the Minister able to advise whether there are to be vacation programs funded over the long school vacations this year? In view of the lead times involved in setting up detailed programs, can she advise when details of programs can be expected to be announced?
– A decision has been made on the vacation care programs conducted through the Office of Child Care. Earlier this week I wrote to the State Ministers advising them of the funds we propose to allocate to them for programs during the long vacation. We found that the last vacation care program, which was administered through the States, worked satisfactorily and all State Ministers are now in possession of the amounts of money available to them for the forthcoming vacation. I am hopeful that they will agree again to administer this program. I am meeting the State Ministers on Monday of next week and at that time I would expect to hear from them that they accept our allocation.
For the information of the Senate, the Government is making $525,500 available for this vacation program, a considerable increase on last year’s allocation. Many programs of great benefit to children have been administered by voluntary agencies and by the States during the long vacation. We are hopeful that these funds will enable these programs to be undertaken in the long vacation this year.
– I direct my question to Senator Withers who represents the Minister for Foreign Affairs. I refer to the Minister for Foreign Affairs’ statement on the This Day Tonight program two nights ago in which he indicated that it was not his intention to allow Mr Justice Fox to comment publicly on the findings of his recent overseas examination of world nuclear safeguards policy, despite the fact that there is a great deal of confusion over the Judge ‘s findings. Will the Minister agree that the reluctance by the Foreign Affairs Minister to allow Mr Justice Fox to speak directly to the Australian people on this crucial matter- a matter on which the people will be expected to vote in a few weeks time- is serving to confuse the uranium debate and hence cast more doubts by the Australian people about the Government’s policy?
-I do not agree with the honourable senator at all. Even though I did not hear what my colleague said on the This Day Tonight program, I certainly would support what he said. All I can say to the honourable senator is that documents were being distributed by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the other place as though they were ten dollar notes until people woke up to what was in them. These documents were allegedly a copy of a Foreign Affairs document dated 29 September. I will read again the last two sentences of the document. It said that Mr Fox’s views are quite clear. He believed that Australia had a responsibility to try to develop the concept. He said that we were clean skinned and were now in a position to exert influence. I do not know what the honourable senator wants. I think the trouble is that those flat earthers who are opposed to the mining and export of uranium are a bit cranky because Mr Justice Fox is not saying the things they would like him to say. That really is what this is all about.
-I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs. In view of concern about alcohol abuse, as reported by the Senate Standing Committee on Social Welfare, and also in view of the heavy penalties imposed by all States on drunken driving to discourage excessive intakes of alcohol, will the Government give consideration to lowering the excise on low alcoholic beers as a disincentive to consume beers of higher alcoholic content?
-This question has been raised on many occasions. Indeed, which beer is weaker or stronger throughout Australia is a favourite topic of debate. I do not know which is the one that people are seeking to promote. I hope that it is the weaker rather than the stronger beer. I will certainly refer the question to the Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs and endeavour to ascertain whether any consideration is being given to this matter at the present moment. I am sure that consideration has been given to it on other occasions, but I will find out what the present position is.
– I refer the Minister representing the Treasurer to the article in today’s Australian Financial Review in which the Treasurer is reported as saying that there seems to be little possibility of a reduction in unemployment rates overseas in the period ahead. Will the Minister explain how the Government expects to achieve a steady and sustained fall in the level of unemployment in Australia from next February, as promised by the Prime Minister in a speech made last weekend to the South Australian Young Liberals, when at the same time the Treasurer claims that there is little possibility of such a reduction in overseas countries, most of whom have lower inflation rates than Australia?
-It might be useful to the honourable senator to have access to the whole of the Treasurer’s speech. It is available if he would like to have it. The reason why we will do better than countries overseas is that we are running things better than the honourable senator’s Government did when it was in office.
-My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Post and Telecommunications and relates to the announced surplus of Telecom Australia for 1976- 77 of $ 164.4m. I refer to public comments about Telecom charges in the light of that surplus. I ask the Minister what those figures mean in terms of the future trading operations of Telecom.
-As Senator Chaney has stated, the 1976-77 surplus of revenue over expenditure for Telecom as an operating surplus was $ 164.4m, but that needs to be put into perspective. The operations of Telecom require that there should be a surplus because Telecom is required by legislation to obtain sufficient revenue to meet operating expenses. In additionand this is important- it is required to raise not less than50 per cent of capital requirements from internal resources. To meet those financial objectives, it is necessary for Telecom to generate a sizable surplus. To measure that, I point out that the estimated capital expenditure for 1977- 78 is $926m, of which 50 per cent must be found from internal resources. I think that that puts the operating surplus into perspective.
The total asset value of the Australian Telecommunications Commission is in excess of $6,000m. So it can be readily seen that the surplus represents a very small return on those assets- something like 2 per cent to 3 per cent. Should the Commission not budget to provide an operating surplus of that order there would be a greater call on taxpayers in general to fund the essential capital program. It would appear more equitable to raise capital needs from users of the network rather than from taxpayers in general. As the surplus is an essential part of the program of extending and improving the telecommunications network, it is not possible to use it to bring down existing charges. That would place in jeopardy the extension program. I might add that there has been no increase in basic telecommunication charges under this Government.
– I direct my question to the Minister for Social Security. In view of the Government’s belated decision to make social security payments to lone fathers, and as the Minister has stated that that decision will require an amendment to the Social Services Act, I ask the Minister whether she will make a further amendment to that Act at the same time to raise the level of the pensioner means test so that a great many pensioners who are in receipt of superannuation payments will not lose their fringe benefits because of increases in their superannuation payments, which are due solely to the cost of living adjustments made in October each year.
– The Social Services Amendment Bill is in the House of Representatives for discussion today and an amendment will be moved with regard to the benefit that is to be made available for lone fathers. The Government has no other amendments which it proposestomakeatthisstage.Itakenoteofthe honourable senator’s question. I will consider his suggestion when any further discussions are being held about changes in our legislation.
– Is the Minister representing the Minister for National Resources aware of a report this morning that water has now started to flow into the Dartmouth Dam? Does the Minister agree that this is a most significant stage in the construction of the Dartmouth water storage and vindicates the actions of the South Australian Government in the years from 1968 to 1970 in negotiating this project, despite the denigration of and opposition to the project by the South Australian Labor Party? Will the Minister consult his colleague the Minister for National Resources to ascertain the earliest date at which the Dartmouth Dam may be declared operational so that South Australians may plan their State’s future with more confidence because of the greatly increased water quota which will be available to their State as a result of the Dartmouth Agreement?
– I am delighted to be informed that water is now flowing into the Dartmouth Dam. I well remember that period from 1968 to 1970- known as the Chowilla years in this place- when tribal warfare between South Australian senators broke out almost nightly during the adjournment debate. There were those in this place who then supported the
Government led by Senator Steele Hall for Dartmouth as against those who wished to go out somewhere and build a dam at enormous cost. I think that water would have evaporated faster than it would have run into that dam.
- Senator Hall was going to dig that dam himself.
-He was a Dartmouth man. We can remember the Chowillas. I originally thought that Chowilla was some sort of mink coat. It would have been almost as expensive as a mink coat and it would have held about as much water. The honourable senator and his then colleagues ought to be congratulated now as we see their plan come to fruition. In relation to the latter part of the honourable senator’s question as to when resources may become available, I shall ask my colleague that question as I know it is enormously important to the people of South Australia. I imagine that the purity of the water flowing into Dartmouth should, to some extent, overcome some of the problems of salinity in the lower reaches of the Murray. I think all Australians look forward to that happening.
-I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry. Is it a fact that the Australian Wool Corporation sold 20,000 bales of wool out of Flushing during the last two weeks without including the cost of freight from Australia to Flushing? Who was responsible for that extraordinary decision? Did it not result in a loss to the Wool Corporation of some $600,000? Further, did it not result in a loss of confidence which has led to a further fall in the price of wool in Australia? Is it not a fact that this decision effectively undermined the reserve price for wool?
– My only knowledge of flushing is in connection with another kind of activity. I really cannot help the honourable senator. This comes to me, as a piece of knowledge, for the first time. The honourable senator’s question contains a number of serious comments. I think he is entitled to a thorough examination of what he has said to see whether there is any substance in his comments. I shall ask for that examination after Question Time.
-Can the Minister for Social Security say whether the term ‘community based’ when applied to child care centres can be taken to refer to the working community? If so, does the Government propose to extend child minding facilities in Commonwealth Government buildings?
– As I said earlier, I am meeting next week State Ministers who have responsibility for child care matters and at that meeting I will be discussing with them the new program that is to be undertaken from this year’s Budget. Approximately $4m can be spent on new projects and I have for all States a list of projects which have been the subject of applications to me and which have been examined by my Department. In consultation with State governments I hope soon to announce approval of these new projects. Within the projects that I have had under consideration there may be one or two that could be regarded as work-based projects but I am unaware of any recommendations that have been made with regard to Commonwealth buildings. This is a matter for consideration and is one that I have not personally considered up to this stage.
-Is the Minister representing the Minister for Transport aware of a report, known as the Schei report, made to the Norwegian Parliament relating to the Omega navigation installation in that country and that the report finds that the Norwegian Parliament was deliberately deceived by its own defence and intelligence organisation on the true purpose of Omega? Is the Minister aware that the report allegedly states that far from being primarily a civilian installation Omega was basically designed for the United States Navy’s nuclear submarines? Will the Minister investigate the authenticity of the Norwegian report and, if available, obtain a copy for the Parliamentary Library?
-I personally am not aware in any formal fashion of such a report although I read somewhere that there may be such a report. I certainly will ask my colleague the Minister for Transport to see whether he can locate it and make it available. If the inferences drawn from it are as stated by Senator 0 ‘Byrne, I must say that all available scientific evidence throughout the world and specifically the best scientific evidence that could be brought to the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence would refute those inferences. What is absolutely clear is that the eight Omega stations located around the world are in eight different nations which are not necessarily of any one alliance and therefore are capable of finding themselves in different polarisations in any war situation. Consequently, in any war situation the eight Omega stations would be rendered useless by virtue of their location. Secondly, it is competent for the nation on whose soil the Omega station stands to turn the system off at any time.
Omega is purely a transmitter of a time phase signal. It is not linked to any master station because there is no master station. It carries no message and it receives no message. It is purely a time phase signal transmitter. Those who suggest that ballistic missile submarines would use Omega fail to understand the navigational techniques of those submarines and the peril in which submarines would be if they sought to use Omega. It is clear that Omega is subject to great aberration in the event of any major electrical disturbance in the hemisphere or stratosphere and would be subject to grave aberration in any nuclear explosion. So obviously no military nation would rely upon something which in military operations would be completely inaccurate. Those people who understand the navigation of long range ballistic missile submarines must know, first of all, that the submarines use their own submarine inertial navigation device- SIN. Secondly, the submarines, while remaining many hundreds of feet below the surface of the sea, put up a balloon to the surface of the water and pick up transmissions from transit satellites which pass overhead every Vh hours. As the submarines are some 2,000 miles out from any shoreline they could not be located anyhow. The transit satellites give them a fix accurate to 200 yards.
I ask honourable senators: Why would anyone claim that a ballistic missile submarine would use the Omega navigation system which is inaccurate, except to a degree in normal times of a mile to two miles and much worse in the case of electrical disturbances, when the submarines have, as all the world knows, navigational devices which are accurate to 200 yards? Demonstrably, the report is nonsense. Demonstrably, those who seek to try to destroy a major commercial navigation device that can save Australia millions of dollars a year, particularly in the long Indian Ocean routes are doing Australia harm. I must say that I find it strange -
– Can we have a look at the report? That is all we are asking. Can we have that report?
– That is not all that the Labor Party is asking. The Labor Party is asking about allegations in the report. I have indicated already that I will seek the report. But what members of the Labor Pary are trying to stop me from saying is this: I had understood until recent days that the Labor Party as a whole was in support of the Omega installation in Australia. Are the Australian people to understand that on Omega, as on every other fundamental issue, the Labor Party is irrevocably divided and splintered?
– I wish to ask a question of the Minister for Science. The Tasmanian sugar beet industry last week conducted visits connected with the establishment of a pilot plant for determining the feasibility of a power alcohol operation. An amount of $400,000 for research, spread over three years, was reported as being considered, with the State Government to provide half that amount. Can the Minister advise whether the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation or any other organisation under his control has any current project under way for the development of power alcohol and whether there has been any approach from the Tasmanian Government or the sugar beet committee for the $200,000 mentioned? Will the Minister also advise what other assistance his Department could or would currently be able to provide to the committee?
-As I understand it, the honourable senator’s question may be based on recent Press reports of preliminary discussions in Hobart involving representatives of the Tasmanian State Government and various departments, scientists from the University of Sydney, and representatives from the sugar beet committee. I understand that the committee in Tasmania consists of local representatives with an interest in evaluating the prospects for sugar beet production in Tasmania. My understanding is that to date no approach has been made by either the Tasmanian Government or the sugar beet committee to the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation or any other organisation under the control of my portfolio for technical assistance in respect of the pilot plant to produce alcohol from sugar beet. However, were such a request to be made it would be given thorough consideration by the CSIRO.
The honourable senator may be interested to know that at the present time the CSIRO is carrying out laboratory and economic studies on the production of power alcohol from molasses and from timber. The organisation is also studying the feasibility of producing power alcohol from sugar cane juice. Although these investigations are still at an early stage, the CSIRO will be pleased to make its preliminary findings available to any interested parties as background information for the production of power alcohol from sugar beet in any State.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Administrative Services in both that capacity and in his capacity as Minister representing the Minister for Defence. I notice that on Wednesday, in replying to a question from Senator Gietzelt, the Minister stated that, for its own purposes, the Government has a policy of ‘Buy Australian’, which I presume concerns general storekeeping. The Minister will also be aware that the Joint Foreign Affairs and Defence Committee in recent reports, and most recently in respect of the electronics industry, has drawn attention to Australia’s alarming dependence upon overseas sources for a number of defence requirements and skills. What consideration has been given to those recommendations of the Joint Committee and to what extent can the policy that he referred to on Tuesday be extended to include defence equipments so as to ensure that defence industrial capacity is adequate for Australia ‘s needs?
-I cannot recall whether or not the contents of that report were taken into consideration. I will take the question on notice and endeavour to obtain a reply for the honourable senator by Monday.
-Can the Minister for Education, in view of certain recent speculation, inform the Senate whether the Government has any intention of introducing fees for foreign students attending Australian universities, or for students undertaking second degrees?
– Cyclically, each year, a series of rumours circulates about a number of aspects of education. Like all rumours, and certainly those that have been circulated about the Fraser Government, they are utterly wrong. Rumours are running in certain quarters that the Government intends to re-impose fees for foreign students. There is no truth in that at all. It is true that Australia is even more attractive than ever to foreign students because it is possibly the only country that does not charge fees for attendance at tertiary institutions- at a time when other countries are increasing theirs. We are, of course, an attractive market to foreign students but I say emphatically that we are not contemplating what has apparently been rumoured. The honourable senator referred also, I believe, to the suggestion that fees were to be reimposed in other areas. There has never been, and will not be, an intention to reimpose fees in relation to the primary or co-ordinated degree areas. Nor do we intend to reimpose fees in regard to second degrees. In short, any rumours circulating regarding fees are in error.
– I ask you, Mr President, whether on Monday next the parliamentary dining room facilities will be made available to members of the Parliament, who, on principle, feel unable to accept the invitation to the official function proposed for that day in the members’ dining room.
– In accordance with past practice, when major functions are held in the parliamentary dining rooms, consideration has been given to matters that will affect the convenience of honourable senators and members. The Secretary of the Joint House Department, Mr R. W. Hillyer, is circulating to honourable senators and members the following memorandum:
Parliamentary Luncheon to their Excellencies the Governor-General and Lady Kerr-
Monday, 7 November 1977
By direction of the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, I have to inform you that, owing to the preparations necessary in connection with the Parliamentary Luncheon to be held in honour of Their Excellencies the Governor-General and Lady Kerr on Monday, 7 November, it will be necessary to make the following arrangements for services in the Parliamentary Refreshment Rooms:
– I ask the AttorneyGeneral: As legislation relating to the position of Mr Justice Fox- I understand he is now Ambassador Fox-has been passed by the Parliament and, I understand, has been assented to, is the Attorney-General able to make any announcement concerning the Australian Capital Territory Supreme Court, particularly concerning a replacement for Ambassador Fox?
– Following the passage through the Senate of legislation yesterday and its subsequent assent early yesterday evening by the Governor-General, I am pleased to announce the appointment of Mr Justice Blackburn as Chief Judge of the Supreme Court of the Australian Capital Territory and the appointment of Mr Douglas McGregor, Q.C., as a judge of the Supreme Court of the Australian Capital Territory as well as a judge of the Federal Court of Australia. Mr Justice Blackburn has been a judge of the Australian Capital Territory Supreme Court since 1971 and, prior to that was a judge of the Supreme Court of the Northern Territory from 1966. During the absence of Mr Justice Fox on the Ranger Uranium Evironmental Inquiry, Mr Justice Blackburn, as senior judge, has virtually been acting as the Chief Judge of the Supreme Court of the Australian Capital Territory. Mr McGregor is one of the most senior Queen’s Counsel practising in Australia. He has been a Queen’s Counsel since 1964. He is president of the New South Wales Bar Council and President of the Australian Bar Association. I think the citizens of Canberra are very fortunate indeed to have a man of this calibre accept appointment to the Supreme Court of the Australian Capital Territory.
-I ask the Minister for Education: Using firstly the guidelines for the education commissions as announced on 20 May 1976 and, secondly, the guidelines as announced on 3 June 1977, can the Minister advise what is the estimated total difference between projected expenditures for 1978 and 1979 for the various education commissions under these two sets of guidelines?
-Clearly, that would require an arithmetical calculation. I ask the honourable senator to put his question on the Notice Paper.
-My question is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate and refers to a reply he gave to a question asked yesterday by Senator McAuliffe and the confirmation of that reply given earlier today by the Leader of the Government in relation to the funding for the Lake Julius water scheme in Queensland. In view of the fact that earlier this year the Premier of Queensland refused to pass on funds that had been allocated by the Federal Government to two women’s refuges in that
State- we have not yet been told what he did with that money, but it has now become necessary for the Minister for Social Security to make direct grants available to those centres- how can the Leader of the Government make as categorical a statement as he made earlier today? Is the Government already considering that it might be necessary to make Federal funds available directly to projects in that State if Mr BjelkePetersen remains Premier, if there is to be any guarantee at all that the moneys will be spent for the benefit of the people of Queensland.
-I think that, as usual, the honourable senator is quite confused about how government operates. Senator McAuliffe asked me about a specific grant made for the Julius Dam project. I cannot recall exactly, but I should imagine that that grant would have been made either by way of a special appropriation or by way of a one-line appropriation in the Appropriation Bills.
– You pay the interest.
-Yes. I forget how it is done, but it would be done in one of those ways. The honourable senator is talking about specific women’s refuges. I do not know of this Parliament ever appropriating money for a particular women’s refuge in Australia. I understand that they come under either the Department of Social Security or the Department of Health.
– The Department of Health.
-Senator Guilfoyle may be able to add to the answer. I understand that they are grants and that there is a discretion within the States as to how they spend them. I was talking to Senator McAuliffe about instances where this Parliament grants money to a State for a specific purpose. The Parliament would expect that State to spend it on that item. There have been a number of these specific purpose grants. I am trying to recall one that we dealt with not so long ago concerning a dam somewhere. The Dartmouth Dam is one example. In cases where the Parliament appropriates money for a specific purpose, I would expect the States to honour the appropriation and they would. Perhaps Senator Guilfoyle may be able to help in relation to the specific question.
– I am prepared to assist with the answer given by Senator Withers. The community health program, which involves a block grant to the States, covers funding for women’s refuges. It is a program that is dealt with by the Department of Health- not by my Department. In the case of the community health program for Queensland, the Government of that State did not give to the women’s refuges the funds which the block grant was given to cover. It was arranged by the Commonwealth Government for funding to be given direct to the women’s refuges which were the subject of funds that had been made available by the Commonwealth. I am not aware of whether that needed to be done, but it was the intention of the Government that if the Queensland Government did not fund the refuges under the block grants from the community health program those refuges would be funded direct. I will inquire of the Minister for Health as to how the matter was finally concluded.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Prime Minister. Is it correct that the Prime Minister’s Principal Private Secretary has sought a consulting position with MAN Australia Pty Ltd, a substantial engineering and automotive company? If so, does his proposed departure from the Prime Minister’s staff immediately prior to an election display a singular lack of confidence in the prospects of the Prime Minister?
-The honourable senator is really scratching around for something to ask. 1 assume that he is talking about Mr Dale Budd. Is that so?
– He must be, yes.
-I ask the honourable senator to tell me about whom he is talking. Honourable senators opposite do not seem to know. I have no personal knowledge of Mr Budd’s private life or anything else about him. We are enormously confident that we will be back here next year. All I can say is that, unlike 1975 when the members of the then ministerial staff were scuttling around trying to get a new job because they knew that they would be out of their present ones for some years, all of our staff are quite relaxed and looking forward to a happy Christmas and a very prosperous New Year with the same Ministers.
– I address a . question to the Minister representing the Minister for National Resources. As a recent report of the Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Ltd states that by 1980-81 the value of uranium exports could account for about 0.7 per cent of Australia’s total exports or about 1.7 per cent of the total value of all minerals exported and as the Fox report states that uranium exports could represent some 3 per cent of the total exports of 1984-85, rising to 5 per cent by 1989-90, and goes on to say that the export of uranium would not be expected to lead to a marked improvement in Australia’s current account in the short or medium term, I ask: To what extent does the Government intend to encourage and support the uranium industry?
-I am afraid the honourable senator does not understand the Government’s policy. The Government’s policy on uranium is not directed merely at raising money. That, of course, was the thrust of the statements made by the late Mr Connor when he was the Labor Government Minister in this area. I have said time and time again that Australia must go into the uranium business if, in Mr Justice Fox’s words, we are going to be able to play our proper part in the world and stop the proliferation of nuclear weapons. That is why we want to get into it- not for some mean idea of just making money for money’s sake. The fact that there could be an onflow into jobs and export income is but a side benefit. I had hoped that the Opposition would have understood that we believe we have an international responsibility to people in other parts of the world. We have a responsibility to the British Labour Government about which honourable senators opposite do not care.
– You are dripping with righteousness.
-Oh, no, it is the honourable senator who drips with it, despite the fact that his socialist brethren in Europe do not wish to freeze or starve in the dark. There are some Australians who care so little for the workers of the world that for some ideological hang-up they will see those workers freeze and starve in the dark.
– I direct my question to the Minister representing the Minister for Health. As it concerns animal quarantine I think it might also interest the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry. Is it correct that there has been an outbreak of equine virus disease, and that the disease has been found in Australia? Is it correct that senior veterinarians have expressed concern that quarantine procedures are inadequate and that horses imported from Ireland in particular are carrying the disease not previously found in Australia? If this is correct, what action does the Australian Government propose to take to tighten quarantine procedures?
– I am not able to answer the question asked by Senator Georges, but I will refer it to the Minister for Health and obtain an answer from him.
-I refer to the question that I asked yesterday of the Minister representing the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations concerning the International Labour Organisation. Has the Minister any further information on the matter and, in particular, on this Government’s attitude to the decision of the United States of America?
– I confirm that I am now in a position to answer that part of Senator Lajovic ‘s question which he asked yesterday concerning the attitude of the Australian Government to the International Labour Organisation following the announcement by the United States of America of its intended withdrawal from the ILO. The Australian Government sees the ILO, with its tripartite structure comprising government, employers and workers, as fulfilling a unique and valuable function in world affairs. Australia understands the reasons for the decision of the United States and notes that initial moves in the United States for withdrawal originated with employer and union associations.
Australia’s continued membership of the ILO is fully endorsed by all sections of the industrial community in Australia, that is both employer associations and the trade union peak councils, and by all State government Ministers who met in September 1977 at the Labor Ministers’ conference in Perth. Australia will therefore continue to participate in the ILO.
-I direct a further question to the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs. Will the Minister have an updated reply provided to an earlier question I asked concerning the deportation of Ghanaian seaman?
– Yes. I mentioned to Senator Mulvihill that I would seek information. I now have some information with regard to the question that he asked concerning the seaman from Ghana. The information I have received from the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs is as follows: Mr Adjei did not claim to be a refugee. He made an application for political asylum, which was considered by the appropriate department. On examination it was found that he did not qualify for the grant of political asylum. Mr Adjei was a seaman deserter and as such became a prohibited immigrant when he entered Australia. That is the information that I can give in response to the honourable senator’s question.
-I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations. What is the Government’s intention as to the many recommendations contained in the report of the Committee of Inquiry into Trade Union Training?
-I know that my colleague the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations is giving very close study to this report. I am not aware of whether he has come to any conclusions or made any recommendations in regard to it. I will refer the question to him and seek to obtain an early answer.
-My question is directed to the Leader of the Government. Has his attention been drawn to the $30m expansion in Burnie announced yesterday by Associated Pulp and Paper Mills? The manager of APPM said that the announcement took into account the Government ‘s freight equalisation scheme and its decision further to assist industries in Tasmania. Does that indicate APPM’s confidence that this Government will continue after the election?
-As all honourable senators will know, the Government’s freight equalisation scheme has been a great breakthrough for everybody in Tasmania. For years Tasmanian senators in this place, particularly from this side, urged the Government to do something about freight costs and to remove the disadvantage that Tasmania suffers. I believe that the scheme has had a marked effect in Tasmania. The fact that the company referred to by the honourable senator is prepared to invest $30m is a sign of confidence by that company not only in Tasmania but also in the Australian economy generally. The company must believe, as we have been propounding, that inflation is coming down, interest rates are coming down, and the economy is really on the improve. I believe that the Government’s policies over the last two years are now starting to bear the fruit that we expected.
-I ask the Minister for Science: Is it a fact that damage caused to Australian crops by the spotted alfalfa aphid could cost over $50m a year? Is it also a fact that even with the setting up of a co-ordinated campaign by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation and State agriculture departments, it will be three to four years before the pest can be controlled? If that is so, does the Minister have available any further information on the spotted alfalfa aphid?
– That question has been raised on several occasions in the Senate. The CSIRO is working on the aphid, of which there are two types. I do not know that I can verify the cost that the honourable senator has suggested, but it has been said that many millions of dollars will be lost this year because of the aphid infestation in Australia. Two particularly virulent types have been discovered. The only way to meet the challenge is to build up a reserve stock of seed that can withstand the attacks of the aphid and also to import some seed. That has been done, but the testing of the seeds is a particularly important matter. There is some concern at the present time as to whether even the seeds that are declared to be able to withstand the attack of the aphid, particularly when the plant is young, will be effective and will enable Australia to return to its former situation in relation to the growth of lucerne. The honourable senator was quite right to bring the matter forward. The CSIRO is working on the problem, but it will still be a major problem in Australia this year.
– My question is directed to the Leader of the Government and it arises out of the answer he gave earlier to a question about the Chowilla Dam. Is the Minister aware that in 1968 Mr Hall, as he then was, published a pamphlet giving 14 reasons why the Chowilla Dam should be built? In his election campaign pamphlet of 1968 he said to the South Australian electors that one of his aims was to build Chowilla Dam and safeguard Australia’s water supplies. Perhaps the Minister may like to have a look at the pamphlet because in it Mr Hall, as he then was, set out 14 facts for the South Australian electors as to why he believed the Chowilla Dam should be built.
- Senator McLaren, you are giving information.
- Mr President, the honourable senator is making almost a presidential speech. I have no knowledge whether that pamphlet is true. I take the honourable senator’s word that what he says is true. What is true also is that, while the honourable senator is talking about 1968,I was talking about the years 1968 to 1970. It was in that period that the final negotiations were completed to build Dartmouth Dam. I think that all people will now agree that Dartmouth is better than Chowilla. At least for five years we have not had the outbreaks of tribal warfare which previously occurred during the adjournment debate.
– For the information of honourable senators, I present a report of the twentieth meeting of the Australian Water Resources Council held in Adelaide on 5 August 1977.
-by leave- I move:
That the Senate take note of the paper.
I seek leave to continue my remarks later.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
– For the information of honourable senators, I present the report of the New South Wales Local Government Grants Commission and the Western Australian Local Government Grants Committee on Financial Assistance to Councils for the year 1977-78. The recommendations made in these reports have already been made available to honourable senators from New South Wales and Western Australia.
– For the information of honourable senators I present the annual report 1977 of the Department of Environment, Housing and Community Development. Copies of the report will be sent to all senators as soon as possible. In the meantime, copies of the report have been placed in the Parliamentary Library and the Senate Records Office.
-Pursuant to section 43 of the Australian Heritage Commission Act 1975 I present the Australian Heritage Commission annual report 1976-77. Copies of the report will be sent to all senators as soon as bulk supplies become available. In the meantime, copies of the report have been placed in the Parliamentary Library and the Senate Records Office.
-by leave- I move:
That the Senate take note of the paper.
I seek leave to continue my remarks later.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Senator DURACK (Western AustraliaAttorneyGeneral) Pursuant to section 314 of the Bankruptcy Act 1966, I present the tenth annual report on the operation of the Bankruptcy Act 1 966 for the year ending 30 June 1 977.
Senator DURACK (Western AustraliaAttorneyGeneral) Pursuant to section 58 of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal Act 1975,I present the annual report of the Administrative Review Council for 1976-77.
Senator DURACK (Western AustraliaAttorneyGeneral) Pursuant to section 37 of the Law Reform Commission Act 1 973,I present the report of the Law Reform Commission on Insolvency: Regular Payment of Debts.
Senator DURACK (Western AustraliaAttoraeyGeneral)Pursuant to section 115 (9) of the Family Law Act 1975,I present the first annual report 1977 of the Family Law Council. Copies of the report will be sent to all honourable senators as soon as bulk copies become available. In the meantime, copies of the report have been placed in the Parliamentary Library and Senate Records Office.
– For the information of honourable senators I present an interim annual report of the Council of the Australian Institute of Marine Science and an interim financial statement for the period 1 July 1976 to 30 June 1977. The final report will be tabled pursuant to statute when it is available. Copies of the interim report will be sent to all honourable senators as soon as bulk supplies become available. In the meantime copies of the report have been placed in the Parliamentary Library and in the Senate Records Office.
-by leave- I move:
It is a particularly interesting paper. It is the first report of the Australian Institute of Marine Science. If it concerns the Institute at Townsville it is an important paper and I seek leave to continue my remarks.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
– For the information of honourable senators I present the monthly report of the Darwin Cyclone Tracy Relief Trust Fund for September 1977.
Senator KNIGHT (Australian Capital Territory) I present two reports from the Joint Committee on the Australian Capital Territory relating to city wastes and planning procedures and processes, and move:
That the reports be printed.
I seek leave to make a statement.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
-The two reports that I have tabled relate to the work of the Joint Committee on the Australian Capital Territory in the 30th Parliament. The first refers to the inquiry currently being undertaken by the Committee into planning procedures in the Territory. The second is a report from the Committee on a matter referred by the Senate on the extent to which the Committee ‘s report of last December entitled Canberra City Wastes- a Long Term Strategy for Collection and Disposal’ has been implemented.
The work of the Committee is not, however, limited to these investigations and inquiries referred by the Minister for the Capital Territory (Mr Staley) and by the Parliament. Honourable senators will be familiar with the Committee’s reports on proposals to vary the plan of lay-out of the City of Canberra and its environs. In this
Parliament the Committee has examined proposals relating to the 60th, 61st, 62nd, 63rd and 64th series of such proposals and has presented reports to the Senate on each series. As well as providing a source of information to Parliament about the planning of the National Capital, the reports provide a useful source of information for the local community. This also permits a degree of involvement by the Parliament in the overall planning of the national capital.
The Committee decided earlier this year to hold public meetings at which the National Capital Development Commission and the Department of the Capital Territory would brief members of the Committee on proposals rather than that this be done in closed session. This means that information on changes to the plan of Canberra contained in the transcript of these proceedings are readily available to the public, the Press and others concerned with or interested in Canberra ‘s planning.
The inquiry into planning procedures and processes m the Australian Capital Territory is well advanced and the Committee would have reported early in the next autumn session if the duration of this Parliament had allowed. Evidence has now been taken from 34 of the 63 persons and organisations who have made submissions to the inquiry. The Committee has visited Darwin, Adelaide and Albury-Wodonga to obtain relevant information for the inquiry and had proposed to extend this to include other capital cities.
The report I have tabled contains a strong recommendation that the inquiry into planning procedures and processes in the Australian Capital Territory be again referred to the Committee if it is re-appointed by the 31st Parliament. An election for the Australian Capital Territory Legislative Assembly will take place before the end of 1978 and issues of future constitutional development for the Territory will be widely canvassed. The role of the Legislative Assembly in planning and development is a central aspect of this inquiry and will be an important consideration in the debate preceding that election. The conclusions of the Committee and recommendations on the role that the national Parliament should play, the future role and structure of National Capital Development Commission and its relations with the Legislative Assembly and the community, as well as relations between the various bodies involved in the planning process and their relationships with the community, should be available for consideration by those involved in that debate. I would therefore emphasise this Committee’s view that the reappointment of the Joint Committee on the Australian Capital Territory after the election and the referral of this matter to it again should be a matter of priority.
I have also tabled a short report dealing with steps that have been taken to implement the report from this Committee last December entitled ‘Canberra City Wastes- a Long Term Strategy for Collection and Disposal’. This report simply informs Parliament of the actions that various Ministers and their departments have taken to implement recommendations made in the main report. Annexed to the report itself are copies of replies from Ministers to letters from me, as Chairman of the Committee, detailing the actions so far taken.
The Committee notes in the report its general satisfaction with progress made so far on the recommendations but expresses the view that proposals which have not been implemented should be matters for continuing review by departments concerned and that further action should be taken where appropriate. Particular matters which still concern the Committee are: Firstly, the failure so far to implement the Committee’s recommendation for a pilot scheme to test the feasibility of a household based waste recovery collection system that would involve segregation of waste so that as much paper, metal, glass and other valuable materials can be recovered from the waste stream; and, secondly, delays in enacting comprehensive air pollution legislation. Air pollution in Canberra needs to be regulated by legislation and everything possible should be done to expedite this legislation.
In relation to the Committee’s recommendations for the establishment of a waste authority to integrate various aspects of collection and disposal in the Territory, the Minister for the Capital Territory has commented that in view of the possible transfer of this function to control by the Legislative Assembly it would be wrong to pre-empt the Assembly by making a decision about future arrangements and authorities. However, the Minister has established an interdepartmental co-ordinating committee as an interim measure. In the Committee’s view, as an interim step, this is a satisfactory compromise. But the Committee holds to its earlier view that a waste authority is necessary if this matter is to receive the expert and co-ordinated attention that it requires in a city such as Canberra.
Finally, I would like to express my thanks to all members and senators who have served on the Committee during this Parliament for the support they have given me as Chairman and the contribution they have made to the work of the Committee. I would like also to take this opportunity to express special thanks to the clerk to the Committee, Mr Nairn, and the Committee’s research officer, Mr Watson, for the work they have done for the Committee. I commend the reports to the Senate.
-by leave- I move:
That the Senate take note of the reports.
The second report presented by the Joint Committee on the Australian Capital Territory is of importance not only to the city of Canberra and the Australian Capital Territory. It is a report which may lead to improvements in waste disposal in other centres in Australia. The Opposition has a very strong interest in the subject matter. For that reason I seek leave to continue my remarks to enable a further debate on the report.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
-Mr President, I present the 166th, 167th and 168th reports from the Joint Committee of Public Accounts.
Ordered that the reports be printed.
-by leave-Mr President, copies of the reports are limited at the moment but are available for perusal in the Parliamentary Library or the Senate Records Office. The 166th report comprises two Department of Finance minutes. The practice of presenting finance minutes is the result of a long standing arrangement between the Committee and the Department of Finance which ensures the Committee’s recommendations and conclusions are followed up and reported to Parliament. These minutes refer to the Committee’s 158th report relating to expenditure from the Advance to the Treasurer 1974-75 and the 160th report relating to expenditure from the Consolidated Revenue Fund 1974-75. The minutes detail the action taken to rectify faults in procedures and controls discovered during the Committee’s examination of expenditure performance and the use of the Advance to the Treasurer by departments in the financial year 1974-75.
The 167th report relates to the Committee’s inquiry into matters raised by the AuditorGeneral in his report for the financial year 1974-75. In the inquiry the Committee found that in the Department of Administrative Services, on-the-job training was deficient and there was insufficient supervision of subordinates. There were considerable arrears in inspections of government property for fire protection purposes. The Department of Construction has been negligent in its responsibilities towards fire safety, particularly in the Australian Capital Territory where the cycle time for surveys has reached 56 years. There was evidence of disregard of financial instructions which appeared to be tacitly accepted by senior officers of the Department of Foreign Affairs and incredible incompetence shown in the purchase and renovation of a residence in Dublin for the Counsellor at the Australian Embassy.
In the case of the Northern Territory electricity supply undertaking the financial results since 1 97 1 -72 clearly indicate that the increasing costs of operations have not been matched by corresponding increases in revenue to recover the full cost of providing power to residents. The Committee records its extreme dissatisfaction that as a consequence more than $23m may not have been recovered and believes that a major contributing factor is the division of responsiblity between the Departments of the Northern Territory and Construction. A report on the electricity undertaking in the Northern Territory recently tabled in this Parliament recommended that a statutory authority be established to draw these responsibilities together. The Committee believes that a single authority should be created for all of the utilities in the Northern Territory as a duplicate administrative machine will be wasteful and expensive for consumers.
The Committee took evidence relating to fraud by officers of the Department of Social Security and beneficiaries. The Committee is concerned to note increasing trends towards overpayments of benefits and has sought a further submission on the matter. The Committee has recommended that further consideration be given to the introduction of a national identity card system which could also have advantages to other areas such as health and immigration. The Committee also received evidence that short periods of casual employment were being refused by persons on the grounds that it adversely affects their unemployment benefit entitlements. The Committee believes that changes should be made in administering the benefits so that permanent job seekers are not disadvantaged by taking casual employment when the opportunity arises.
The 168th report relates specifically to evidence taken in connection with items of expenditure from the Advance to the Treasurer in 1976-77. As honourable senators are aware after the close of each financial year the Treasurer submits to the Parliament a statement of expenditure from the Advance to the Treasurer showing allocations to heads of expenditure made by him under section 36A of the Audit Act. As our report shows there were cases where expenditure from the Advance was confined to urgent and unforeseeable requirements for which provision could not have been made in the Appropriation Acts. In other cases however, there was evidence of overtime being paid to circumvent staff ceilings, inefficient estimating procedures and unacceptable delays which caused expenditure to be charged to the Advance when provision should properly have been made in the additional estimates. In general, however, there was a reduction in the number of requests for funds from the Advance, and results of the Committee’s examination suggest that the majority of those requests were confined to urgent and unforeseeable requirements.
Mr President, for the benefit of the Senate, I would like to recall very briefly, the work of the Eleventh Committee which concludes its work with the presentation of these three reports. Your Committee was appointed in March of 1976 and in the 20 months smos has met on 84 occasions and has presented 13 reports to the Parliament. These have ranged in subject matter from tabling finance minutes reporting the follow up action taken in respect of the Committee s recommendations, examination of the AuditorGeneral’s annual reports and expenditure performance of departments, examination of the financial affairs of the Department of Aboriginal Affairs, which we regard as a most significant report, and a special report on the conference of Commonwealth and State Public Accounts Committees which I tabled earlier this week. Honourable senators will recall on that occasion I stated that the conference was of historical significance as it was the first occasion since Federation that similar committees from parliaments throughout Australia gathered together to discuss mutual problems.
– A very good example of cooperative federalism.
– Yes, indeed, a very good example of co-operative federalism. Already we have begun to implement some of the initiatives outlined in that report.
Due to the early prorogation of the 30th Parliament the Committee has been unable to report on its inquiry into the former Overseas Property Bureau and the 12th Committee will have to decide whether to continue a major inquiry into the use of automatic data processing in the Commonwealth public sector.
As this is the last statement from the Public Accounts Committee, I would like to place on record the Committee’s appreciation to the Secretary of the Committee and his staff for their devotion to their duties and loyalty to the Committee, as well as the Committee’s appreciation for the support given by the previous Secretary, Mr Tom Devine, who retired at the end of August after four years with the Committee, and his successor, Mr Michael Talberg. I would particularly like to note the loss to the Parliament which will follow the retirement of its vicechairman, the honourable member for Melbourne Ports, Mr Frank Crean. He has made a most significant contribution to the work of the Committee since the Committee’s reestablishment in September 1952, of which he was an original member. We are going to miss his wisdom in the next Parliament but I know that all members of the Committee would wish him well in his retirement.
Mr President, I commend the reports to honourable senators.
-by leave- I move:
That the Senate take note of the report.
In so moving, may I endorse the comments made by Senator Messner concerning the staff of the Committee, also his complimentary remarks concerning the contribution of Mr Crean to the Committee which I consider to be one of the most important of the Parliament.
We consider the report of the Committee to be of such value to the Senate that it would be of assistance to all honourable senators to have access to it when it is tabled. I do not know what the procedures are, but would like the Senate to consider that, because of the very contentious matters which are dealt with therein, honourable senators be given access to the report so they may take it up at once, as I am doing now- not so as to enter into any large-scale debate, but there may be one or two references, comments and recommendations that are of such value that they should be debated when the report is tabled. I believe a tabled document is not circulated, as such, but the work of the Committee is so important and its report is received with such interest that perhaps copies of the report could be made available when it is being brought down. I seek leave to continue my remarks.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
– I present the 59th Report of the Standing Committee on Regulations and Ordinances, relating to certain legislation recently considered by the Committee.
– I move:
That unless otherwise ordered, on Monday, 7 November, the sitting of the Senate be suspended for lunch from 12.30 p.m. until the ringing of the bells.
– I wish to express briefly a concern that has nothing to do with the purpose of the motion but relates to the difficulty experienced by the Transport Office of the Senate and the Opposition Whip in making travel arrangements as a result of the change in program. I believe that whoever is responsible for these matters should approach the airlines to ensure that places on nights are available for members of the Parliament when they wish to depart from Canberra. There seems to be an overload on certain days of the week, as a result of which citizens are placed at a disadvantage. They seem unable to make short-term arrangements for leaving Canberra because insufficient flights are made available on specific days. When the Senate changes its program to include a sitting on Friday, or for that matter Monday or some other time when it normally does not sit, the airlines find themselves in a worse position- to the even greater disadvantage of Canberra ‘s citizens.
Those who have to arrange travel for senators have extreme difficulty in changing bookings. For instance, today the Opposition finds its numbers down because, earlier, arrangements had been made to leave Canberra this morning or this afternoon. We are not in a position to change those arrangements because alternative flights are not available, and the existing numbers of seats are insufficient. I am beginning to believe that this places unnecessary pressure on those officers who serve us so well in the transport field, pressure that we do not indeed wish to put on them. The pressure is intensified by the airlines saying, ‘You cannot change the arrangements.’
Although members of Parliament ought not to be treated differently from other citizens, there are times when parliamentary business must take precedence and thus the travel requirements of members also. It becomes difficult to make arrangements for change when a member finds that this may mean he will be delayed in returning to his home by at least 24 hours. I suggest to the Minister representing the Minister for Transport that the airlines be asked to make special arrangements- if necessary having been previously advised- to ensure that the business of the Parliament is not interfered with and that the convenience of members is given some sort of priority on special and extra sitting days.
– I will take up the honourable senator’s remarks with my colleague the Minister for Transport (Mr Nixon). As I understand it, occasionally the problem of getting in and out of Canberra, following a change of program, can be overcome, but often the on-going flights to home States are difficult to arrange. As one who is a Western Australian, I do not know whether I would rather be stuck in Canberra, Melbourne or Adelaide, but that sort of thing occasionally does happen. When we attempt to get flights to our home State the airlines say, ‘We can get you as far as Melbourne but we cannot get you a flight from Melbourne onwards’.
– You had better pull that VIP plane out.
-No; Senator McLaren would object to our travelling in VIP aircraft. The comments that the honourable senator makes are valid and I will take them up with my colleague in the other place to see what can be done.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Ordered that the Bill may be taken through all its stages without delay.
Bill (on motion by Senator Guilfoyle) read a first time.
– I move:
The purpose of the Bill is to extend for a further period of 12 months those provisions of the
Homeless Persons Assistance Act which are due to expire on 13 December 1977. The Homeless Persons Assistance Act was introduced in December 1974 on the basis of a report by a Working Party on Homeless Men and Women, which recommended, amongst other things, that capital grants totalling up to $5m a year should be made available over a three-year period to voluntary agencies and local and statutory authorities for approved projects- such as night shelters, reception and assessment centres, hostels, flats, day centres, special clinics and detoxification units- in order to upgrade and replace existing inadequate accommodation and to build new facilities for permanently and chronically homeless men and women.
The Act provides for capital grants to be made to eligible organisations, which are defined as non-profit organisations, local governing bodies and charitable or benevolent trusts, towards the full cost of purchasing, constructing or renting buildings, including the purchase of furniture and equipment. It also enables the Commonwealth to pay 50 per cent of the salary of a social welfare worker employed at a homeless persons assistance centre. Approved organisations may also be paid a daily subsidy at prescribed rates for each homeless person to whom both food and accommodation are provided, at a rate of 75c per day, and a subsidy of 25c for each meal supplied to non-resident homeless persons.
In accordance with one of the recommendations of the 1973 Working Party that the program should be reviewed after three years, the major provisions of the Act, relating to capital and rental grants, are operative until 13 December 1977. The salary and accommodation and meal subsidy provisions are not subject to the three-year prescribed period. In his second reading speech the then Minister for Social Security said that the purpose of making the legislation subject to a three-year ‘prescribed period’ was to ensure that the scope, value and standards of the services provided would be monitored and an assessment of the total program made prior to the expiration of the first three years of its operation.
In accordance with this intention, a review of the operation of the Act has been carried out by the Department of Social Security, based on an analysis of a national sample survey of the views expressed by homeless persons and by the agencies caring for them. I have also received submissions from the Advisory Committees on Homeless Persons set up in each State to advise me on matters relating to the administration of the Act. Briefly the conclusions reached by this review were that the operation of the Act should be extended beyond 13 December and that the provisions of the Act should be amended in such ways as to enable it to support a wider range of facilities for homeless people, if and when additional funds are available.
In accordance with our policy of concentrating welfare assistance on people in the greatest need, the Government is in favour of making the Act more effective in meeting the needs of a wider range of homeless people. At this stage, however, the Government has not yet reached a decision on the proposals of the Task Force on Coordination in Welfare and Health, one of which is that the homeless persons assistance program should become part of a wider ‘sheltered accommodation program’, administration of which might be devolved to the State governments. In the circumstances, it would be premature to consider widening the scope of the Act at the present time, but it is necessary to extend its operation beyond 13 December 1977 if only to authorise continuation of subsidies for which funds have already been provided.
For the information of honourable senators, capital grants totalling $8.4m have been approved under the Act to date. Of this amount $2.1m had actually been expended by 30 June 1977, $5.3m has been allocated for expenditure in 1977-78 and the remaining $lm W111 be carried forward to 1978-79. Expenditure on rental and salary subsidies for the period from 13 December 1974 to 30 June 1977 totalled $377,958. The appropriation for these subsidies in 1977-78 is $275,000. Expenditure under the National Welfare Fund on accommodation and meal subsidies for the period from 13 December 1974 to 30 June 1977 amounted to $1.7m. Estimated expenditure on these subsidies in 1977-78 is $800,000.
As at 30 June 1977, financial support was being given towards the running costs of 95 homeless peoples centres, with a total bed capacity of 3,102. Total overnight occupancy of these beds during 1976-77 was 785,484. In addition, 668,548 meals were served to nonresident homeless people. Salary subsidies were paid for 34 social welfare workers. In legislating to extend the operation of the Act in its present form for a further period of one year, the Government has in mind that suggestions for widening the ambit of the Act should receive further consideration in the context of the 1978 Budget. I commend the Bill to the Senate.
Debate (on motion by Senator Douglas McClelland) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Ordered that the Bill may be taken through all its stages without delay.
Bill (on motion by Senator Withers) read a first time.
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this Bill is mainly technical. In terms of the Commonwealth Grants Commission Act 1973, the Grants Commission will have one too few members after 30 November to exercise its functions under the Act. As it is not intended to appoint any further members for the time being, the legislation now proposed will have the effect of removing this impediment. At the same time, the opportunity has been taken of reducing the maximum number of members to four in accordance with the Government’s recent decisions to that effect. I commend the Bill to honourable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator Douglas McClelland) adjourned.
Bills received from the House of Representatives.
Suspension of Standing Orders
Motion (by Senator Withers)- by leaveagreed to:
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the questions with regard to the several stages for the passage through the Senate of the Commonwealth Electoral Amendment Bill (No. 2) 1977 and the Commonwealth Electoral (Redistribution) Bill 1977 being put in one motion at each stage and the consideration of such Bills together in the Committee of the Whole.
Ordered that the Bills may be taken through all their stages without delay.
Bills (on motion by Senator Withers) read a first time.
– I move:
Commonwealth Electoral Amendment Bill (No. 2) 1977
The purpose of this Bill is twofold. In the first place, an amendment is proposed to section 25 of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1 9 1 8 to repeal sub-section 25 (4). The second purpose is to put beyond question the validity of the existing redistribution procedures insofar as they affect the current redistribution of the State of Western Australia.
Honourable senators may recall that section 25 of the Commonwealth Electoral Act provides for a redistribution when the Chief Australian Electoral Officer’s determination has resulted in an alteration in the number of members of the House of Representatives to be chosen for a State. It also authorises a redistribution whenever in one-fourth of the Divisions of a State the number of electors differs from the quota by onetenth more or by one-tenth less and at such other times as the Governor-General thinks fit.
Sub-section 25 (4) provides that after a redistribution has been put into effect in a State a period of seven years must elapse before a further redistribution can be made by virtue of the one-fourth and one-tenth circumstance to which I have just referred. The current redistribution in relation to Western Australia has proceeded on the basis that section 25 (4) would not prevent a redistribution within the sevenyear period if there were other reasons for doing so such as that redistribution were in hand in all other States.
A legal challenge has now been made to the validity of the current redistribution of Western Australia. Broadly, it appears to be claimed that in the factual situation as it applied in Western Australia, where one-fourth of the Divisions differed from the quota by one-tenth or more it was not possible for the Governor-General to direct a redistribution in 1977 because, as there had been a redistribution in Western Australia in 1974, the seven year barrier must apply.
It was made perfectly clear during the debate on the Commonwealth Electoral Amendment Bill in February this year that the intention was that the Governor-General, acting on the advice of the Executive Government, would reserve the option of proclaiming a redistribution at any time he thought fit despite the seven year provision. Nevertheless it does appear that there may be some doubt as to whether the legislation as currently drafted reflects this intention. Our advice is that the most appropriate way to overcome any problem which may exist is to repeal the seven year provision contained in sub-section 25 (4). This would place the issue beyond doubt for the future.
At the same time action also needs to be taken to ensure the validity of the current redistribution process in Western Australia in respect of which the report of the Distribution Commissioners has already been tabled. I commend the Bill to the Senate.
Commonwealth Electoral (Redistribution) Bill 1977
As honourable senators know, one of the steps in the process of re-distributing the electoral boundaries of a State is the determination of the quota of electors for each proposed Division based on the whole number of electors in each State as nearly as can be ascertained, divided by. the number of members of the House of Representatives to be chosen for that State. In respect of the recently approved redistributions the quota was determined as at 24 June 1977. The Government has just been advised that in one of the then Divisions in New South Wales there was a continuing and cumulative error in the procedures for maintaining enrolment statistics. This was not an error in the maintenance of the electoral roll but in the enrolment statistics relating to it.
As a result however, the enrolment statistics for the Division of Berowra were, at the time of the determination of the quota, overstated by some 4,000. Consequently the State quota, on the basis of which the proposed enrolments of all Divisions are fixed, was overstated by approximately 96. This in itself would not have been significant. However, all the overstatement related to the one Division. In essence, the proposed Division of Berowra was, on the basis of the statistics provided, thought by the Commissioners to contain some 71,000 electors. In fact, because of the Divisional Returning Officer’s error, the enrolment in terms of the true June figures, was of the order of 67,000.
The Government, however, believes that, having been apprised of the error, it would be improper for it not to advise the Parliament. At the same time, because the Commissioners acted in good faith in respect of their deliberations and in the application of the required criteria, the Government also believes that the Parliament would want to ensure that its approval of the redistributions could not be ruled invalid because of a clerical error. This is the purpose of the Bill and it will apply to each of the redistributions approved by the Parliament. Honourable senators will note that apart from this special validation the normal procedures required by the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 are being maintained and the electoral Divisions determined for the States remain subject to the provision that they stand until altered in accordance with the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918. I commend the Bill to the Senate.
-The Opposition has not had any opportunity to consider collectively the Commonwealth Electoral (Redistribution) Bill 1977 and the second reading speech which the Minister for Administrative Services (Senator Withers) has just made. We are critical of the Government for the unseemly haste in which it is dealing with its legislative program towards the end of this Parliament. I think my colleague, Mr Scholes, the Manager of Opposition Business in the House of Representatives, went on record as saying that within the last two days some SO pieces of legislation are being introduced into the Parliament. They will be expected to be considered by all members of Parliament and debated and passed by both Houses of Parliament before the Parliament rises early next week for the forthcoming election. I know the Minister told me as the shadow Minister for Administrative Services and the member of the Labor Party responsible for matters relating to electoral affairs that we could have an adjournment of this debate until after lunch. Nonetheless, that would not give us time to put our thoughts together collectively. Therefore, I thought that we may as well debate the two Bills cognately now rather than delay the Senate this afternoon.
We are concerned with these pieces of legislation. It is only because of the immediacy of an election that we do not oppose the Bills. However, in respect of the Commonwealth Electoral Amendment Bill (No. 2) 1977 which concerns Western Australia we will move an amendment in the Committee stage to delete clause 3 (2) containing the retrospectivity provision. We will also oppose clause 4 relating to the validation of the Proclamation. While one Bill relates to Western Australia and the other relates generally to the redistribution arrangements for all other States, nonetheless they are particularly apposite to New South Wales. It is rather ironic that last week when the redistribution proposals went through the Parliament the Labor Opposition expressed its opposition to the proposals for Western Australia and New South Wales. As I have said, they are the principal States affected by these two amending Bills.
I know that my colleagues, Senator Georges and Senator Mulvihill, wish to speak on the Bills.
Therefore, I will of necessity keep my remarks as brief as possible. The history of amendments to the Commonwealth Electoral Act this year has been amazing to say the least. Firstly, a judgment of the High Court, known as the McKinlay case, was handed down in December 1975 at a time when a general election was being held. The present Government was elected to office. It sat pat on that judgment and did nothing about introducing amending legislation for a period of 14 months. Then another judgment of the High Court, known as the McKellar case, was handed down in February of this year. As a result of that judgment, amendments to the Commonwealth Electoral Act were framed and introduced into the Parliament to overcome legal defects found to exist in the Commonwealth Electoral Act by the High Court in the McKellar and McKinlay cases.
We were told then that the passage of that legislation was urgent. It had to be enacted to enable the Government to take administrative steps to get the redistribution under way. The Government introduced a Bill. As well as writing into the legislation provisions to overcome the legal difficulties enunciated by the High Court in the McKinley and McKellar cases, the Government chose of its own volition to write in two additional clauses. By sheer irony these two amending Bills have been brought about by the two additional clauses that the Government, of its own volition, decided to write in.
One was the seven-year rule insofar as the Western Australian situation is concerned. The seven-year rule, if I may refer to it as such, was not a determination of the High Court. It was a decision of this Government. It is that provision in that Act that has now caused a legal challenge to be issued in the High Court concerning the validity of the Western Australian redistribution. The other provision was the 5,000 square kilometres provision, which basically said that electorates of less than 5,000 square kilometres should not have fewer electors in them than electorates of 5,000 square kilometres or more. It is because of those two provisions being written into that legislation at that time- two provisions that were not as a result of High Court judgmentsthat the Government finds itself in this amazing situation today.
As a result of the February Bill being enacted and the Commonwealth Electoral Act being duly amended, Distribution Commissioners were appointed. In the course of time those Distribution Commissioners came up with their interim proposals. At about that time there were suggestions in the air about the holding of an early election and the Distribution Commissioners were said to be being put under pressure to hurry up their final proposals. The suggestion was that they had to get them done and into this Parliament early because the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) had a whim at that time that he would not go his full three-year term, despite the fact that he had been saying since he came to office that he needed three years in office to get the economy onto its feet, but that he would go to the people a third of the time in advance.
The interim proposals were then published. Objections were lodged to the interim proposals. During the time that the Distribution Commissioners were considering those interim proposals- certainly before the final proposals of the Distribution Commissioners for New South Wales were tabled in this Parliament- there were newspaper reports of leaks about what was happening and what was being proposed. One can see from the final report of the Distribution Commissioners insofar as New South Wales is concerned that those newspaper reports of leaks were right on target. On Monday of last week a challenge was issued in the High Court to the February amendments to the Act. That challenge was issued by an elector of Western Australia, namely, an elector of Kalgoorlie.
Four days after that- on Thursday of last week- motions were moved in both Houses of this Parliament by the Government for approval of the redistribution proposals for all States except Tasmania, which had been dealt with about three weeks before. All of those redistribution proposals were agreed to or approved of by the Parliament notwithstanding the fact that at that time- on Thursday of last week- the Opposition expressed its opposition to approval being given to the redistribution proposals for Western Australia and New South Wales. The redistribution proposals were approved of last Thursday. On Tuesday of this week another amending Bill was introduced to validate the amendments of February last because of the challenge that had been issued in the High Court. The Minister for Administrative Services said in his second reading speech that this Bill has been introduced in order to overcome any problem which may exist. He said:
Our advice is that the most appropriate way to overcome any problem which may exist is to repeal the seven-year provision contained in sub-section 25 (4).
The Commonwealth Electoral Amendment Bill (No. 2) has been introduced to validate anything that has been done insofar as the Western Australian redistribution is concerned. Suddenly another Bill was introduced yesterday to validate the New South Wales redistribution arrangements. We have been told that it has been introduced because of an arithmetical miscalculation that has occurred in relation to the division of Berowra in New South Wales. All told we have had an amending Bill of substance in February; we have had a redistribution being effected as a result of that Bill, being effected in February; we had another Bill introduced last week to validate the redistribution that has been carried out in accordance with the amending Bill of February; and we had this week another amending Bill introduced to validate the redistribution for New South Wales- one that had been carried out in accordance with the amending Bill.
One can see why the Opposition is expressing concern about the haste with which the Government is moving in this regard and why the Opposition is suggesting that more care could well have been taken by the Government in the presentation of these matters to the Parliament. Yet supporters of the Government have the audacity to claim that they and they alone were born to rule and that the Government as a government is expert in management and administrative matters. I think it would be fair to say that the electoral laws of this nation are as uncertain as we were over the last three or four months about whether the Prime Minister would determine to hold an early election. As I have said, all of this last minute panic has been brought about because of the Government’s mad rush for an early election, especially one so soon after a massive redistribution has been carried out by Distribution Commissioners- doubtless with assistance of officers of the Australian Electoral Office- and also because the Government has made a hash of its February amending Bill.
Let me state here and now that I do not blame the officers of the Australian Electoral Office for what has happened insofar as New South Wales is concerned. The officers of the Australian Electoral Office must have been under great strain and stress trying to keep up with the Government’s demands on them over the last eight or nine months. How they have been able to cope with those demands is a matter of amazement. Let me say here and now that, on the advice I have received, the divisional returning officers in the various divisions of the Electoral Office must be the most underpaid officers in the whole of the Australian Public Service, considering the onerous and responsible nature of their duties. I think it is about time that the Public Service Board had a close look at the function of those officers. I think that they should be paid well above the class 6 level that they enjoy at the present time.
I am told- I speak subject to correction- that the assistant to the Chief Electoral Officer in each State is only a class 9 officer and that in the Commonwealth Electoral Office there is a great gap between the position of divisional returning officer and the next step up- from class 6 to class 9. When one bears in mind the great, important and onerous responsibilities of the divisional returning officers at a Federal general election, especially when a ballot is very tight- when a seat or even a government can be determined by a mere handful of votes- one can see that one needs a person whose pay is at a level in accord- .ance with the responsible position he is occupying. I think it is rather scandalous that divisional returning officers are only at the level of class six. Certainly an incoming Labor government will be requesting the Public Service Board to have an early look at this matter.
As I have said, both of these Bills have been necessitated by the introduction by the Government in February this year of an amendment to the Commonwealth Electoral Act. The amendment contained two clauses- clause 7 and clause 10- which are now causing difficulty. As I mentioned earlier, clause 7 introduced the concept of small and large divisions- that is divisions of more than 5,000 square kilometres and divisions of less than 5,000 square kilometres. Clause 10 sets out the seven year rule relating to the making of a proclamation under section 24(1) of the Commonwealth Electoral Act. The Commonwealth Electoral Amendment Bill (No. 2) relates to Western Australia. Only nine months after the introduction of the seven year rule the Government has introduced a Bill to delete the subsection of the Act which establishes that rule. Moreover, the Government proposes to make that amendment retrospective in order to validate the redistribution for Western Australia which was approved in the Parliament only last week.
I have mentioned that the Labor Opposition last week opposed the Western Australian redistribution. We did so for a number of reasons. First, a writ has been filed with the Court of Disputed Returns to assert the invalidity of a section of the Act. Members of the Opposition also opposed the redistribution because it proposed that Kalgoorlie, the largest electorate in the world, was to be further enlarged. We allege and assert that that was done for political reasons. Adoption of those boundaries has increased the chances of the Government obtaining a majority of seats in Western Australia
I point out to honourable senators that according to the 1971 census 22,000 Aborigines are Uving in Western Australia. of whom 15,000 are resident in the Kalgoorlie electorate, the largest electorate in the world. Of course, as we all know, although Aborigines are entitled to enrol it is not compulsory that they do so. The Opposition believes that a great proportion of the 15,000 Australian Aborigines who reside in the Kalgoorlie electorate would not have enrolled. We believe that had a concerted effort been made by the Government to get these people on the roll it would have had a great effect on the ultimate boundaries that were presented to the Parliament. As I have mentioned, a High Court challenge has been commenced in respect of the validity of the Western Australian redistribution in view of the existence of the seven year rule.
The second amending Bill- the Commonwealth Electoral (Redistribution) BUI 1977-has been necessitated by an arithmetical error which occurred in the calculation of the number of electors in the division of Berowra. It was found that there are 67,000 electors in the seat of Berowra rather than 71,000 electors as shown on page 9 of the report of the Distribution Commissioners for New South Wales. The implications of the error are twofold, the first being that clause 7 of the February amendment to the Electoral Act has been contravened. The situation now is that the large divisions in New South Wales wil have a greater number of electors than a smaller division. In other words, the country areas of New South Wales wil have a greater number of electors than the city electorate of Berowra which is the electorate in conflict with the provisions of the Act. For instance, there will be 68,000 electors in Riverina, 67,000 in Berowra, 69,000 in Calare and 69,000 in Richmond. Had the Distribution Commissioners been aware of the arithmetical error the alterations that they made to the division of Berowra, namely the transference of about 2,000 electors from the sub-division of Beecroft to the division of Dundas and the transference of about 3,250 electors from the subdivision of Cheltenham East to the division of Bennelong, probably would not have been made in full. These transfers in turn could well have unnecessarily affected the political complexion of the Dundas and Bennelong divisions.
– They could well have crossed the Parramatta River into Lowe too.
– I doubt whether they would cross the Parramatta River, bearing in mind certain provisions of section 19. But as they moved out they could have had -
– The domino theory.
Senaor DOUGLAS McCLELLAND-
– A discredited domino theory.
-And a discredited electoral redistribution. It is all very well for the Minister for Administrative Services to come in here and say that on the basis of the quota the enrolment was overstated by approximately 96. As I said earlier, electorates and governments can be determined by a mere handful of votes. I well recall that at the last election the seat of St George was determined by about 42 voters.
In addition to the matters I have raised I am concerned that in clause 4 (3) of this Bill the Government also sets out in advance to cover up or to validate any other mistakes that might be found in the future. Of course, in normal circumstances, this would be a piece of legislation that this Parliament would frown upon. We are highly critical of such a provision. But, as the Minister admitted last week, the Government literally has the gun at our head.
-The Minister says ‘Oh! ‘ As he said last week, if the boundaries are not approved the Government can provide for an election at large and the Minister himself could write the rules for such an election. If the Minister thinks we have as much faith in him as do his colleagues he has another think coming. I wonder how many members would make up the Opposition if the present Government and not an independent electoral officer wrote the rules on which an election could be conducted. It is for that reason, and that reason only, that we agree to this redistribution.
Parliament already has approved one distribution that has been found- admittedly found by the Electoral Office and notified by the Government to the Parliament- to be defective. If this legislation is not enacted a challenge could well take place in the High Court. The High Court could injunct the present redistribution or it could hear the matter and rule the existing redistribution to be invalid and then there could well be an election at large.
For all those reasons, and particularly for the reason that we are fearful of this Government and do not have much faith in the rules that the Minister would write, the Opposition will not oppose the legislation but offers strong objection to it. However, during the Committee stage we will move an amendment to clause 3 (2), and oppose clause 4 of the Commonwealth Electoral Amendment Bill (No. 2).
– Briefly, I support the sentiments expressed by Senator Douglas McClelland. I too come from the State where the upset has occurred. One salient point is manifestly obvious. If the Government had waited until May to hold the forthcoming election it would not have had to race around, causing terrible upheaval, because of the time limits imposed by that election. Like Senator Douglas McClelland, I have a very high respect for the efficiency of the Commonwealth Electoral Officer in Canberra and his divisional colleagues, but when tight timetables are set the frequency of errors must increase. I put to the Senate a corollary to what Senator Douglas McClelland has put. My secretary has obtained a nomination form in Sydney. It was my intention to complete it this weekend at a meeting of pam adherents, some of whom are in the old Evans electorate and others in the Lowe electorate. I put my problem to the electoral officer in Sydney and he, with his usual courtesy, conferred with me this morning. I asked him what would be the position if I got ten people to sign my nomination, some of them in Fivedock, Haberfield and Abbotsford subdivisions of Evans, in which case I will have to quote an Evans subdivision electoral number, and the remainder in the old Lowe electorate. I understand that I do not have to submit the nomination form until 10 November. But I think that the Minister for Administrative Services (Senator Withers) will agree that it is no use waiting until a given time between 10 November and 18 November; we must get these essential jobs done now.
I want to be quite clear on this matter. The electoral officer in New South Wales told me that it was all right to get the nomination form and to use the electoral numbers from Evans. He said that if I put them in he would accept them. But if somebody- I will not be disrespectful about him -decided to be difficult, go to court and say that my nomination was invalid, some learned judge might agree with him. I do not know when a new consolidated roll for Lowe will be available so that I can ascertain whether people living in Fivedock and Abbotsford have a different number for Lowe than they had for Evans. I accept what the New South Wales electoral officer has told me, but I deliberately throw up this matter to Senator Withers so that I can get an answer on. record in this Parliament. If anybody tries to be smart and goes to the High Court and says that my nomination is invalid, I will have an answer from Senator Withers stating that I am in order, as I am sure Senator Douglas McClelland will agree.
The message that I am trying to get through loud and clear is that we should not have to have a half-way interpretation. It is obvious that none of the divisional returning officers knows when he is going to get his new rolls, and I would be very interested to know, because of this rigid timetable, when the rolls with the new electoral numbers for all the electors of New South Wales will be available. Election candidates, particularly senators who like to get nominations from a number of areas, will probably have to do what I am doing and risk a High Court challenge to the validity of their nomination because the rolls might not be available before the writs close. That is one interesting aspect of the impossible timetable that the Government has imposed upon the Commonwealth Electoral Officer.
As far as the rest of the Bill is concerned, I make one other comment. When I came into the Senate a former Victorian Democratic Labor Party senator, Senator McManus, had emerged from the political wilderness. He spoke one night on the Electoral Act and dealt with the problem of random sampling and whether it is accurate. I appreciated the frankness of the returning officer for Bennelong when the error was discovered, but I believe that even with random sampling and all the apparatus of computers and adding machines that we have today, we can reduce still further the frequency of errors. I have no doubt that in New South Wales the result will be Mulvihill, Gietzelt and Sibraa, with the other two places being filled from the Government side. I have no axe to grind; I have no fears at all. Having said that, however, I support what Senator McManus said on a previous occasion about human error. In the electoral system, when human error is involved people’s jobs are put on the line. I make the point that nobody will know if such errors do occur. In fact, if the game was being played as it was in the case of the 1974 and 1975 elections it would be a very interesting experience- and I would revel in it- to bring the three electoral commissioners to the bar of the Senate and ask them what the result would have been if another 4,000 votes had been added.
On the matter of electoral boundaries, one can look at the congressional districts in the United States. Whether the system is good or bad, ultimately we follow a lot of their ideas. I have had occasion to read a thesis expounded by the then senator from New York, Senator Robert Kennedy, in which he referred to earlier boundaries around New Jersey, and in that area some of the changes were amazing. However, I will not pursue that point because Senator Withers might lick his lips and decide that it is a beautiful system. I share Senator Douglas McClelland ‘s views that the problem does not lie with the electoral officers. The Government has imposed far too tight a schedule. For all my industrial life I was an opponent of excessive overtime because I believe that that is when inattention and industrial accidents occur, and I have a pretty shrewd idea that some of these calculations were done when people were working excessive hours. When Senator Douglas McClelland was speaking, I made an interjection about Glenrowan, but in view of the protection offered to me by the Chair I do not want anybody to draw an analogy from that. I will simply say that the criticisms made by Senator Douglas McClelland and I are well founded in our attitude of national responsibility. We want the people to speak, and it is for that reason that we have been speaking only at half throttle.
– I support the comments of my colleagues. The serious problem that we face is that we have not had an opportunity to look at the legislation because it has come through rather suddenly. The legislation is intended to deal with an emergency situation which, as both Senator Douglas McClelland and Senator Mulvihill have said, arose out of the unnecessary haste required to get through a redistribution in time for a December election. All the indicators were there. The Opposition asked the Minister for Administrative Services (Senator Withers) about the time that the Commonwealth Electoral Officer would require following a redistribution to put his organisation into the sort of shape necessary to cope with an election. Those questions were asked as long ago as February of this year, and Senator Withers indicated that the nature of the timetable was such that it would lead to an election early in 1978. It is obvious that even at that time Senator Withers, as the Minister responsible for the Department covering electoral officers, realised that it would take at least until early 1978 for the Chief Electoral Officer to complete the reorganisation necessary to carry out a very complex task, involving changing the rolls, setting up new polling places, all the paraphernalia that is necessary for an election.
When it is realised that we have had four elections in six years, including double dissolutions, one can understand the tremendous responsibility and the enormous amount of work that is placed upon these officers. Senator Douglas McClelland has said that they are underpaid.
Not only are they underpaid but also they are under considerable strain. It is about dme that the Department of Administrative Services conducted a survey covering a number of years to find out how many returning officers have retired early through illness or have died on the job, how many electoral officers have suffered heart attacks, how many have died from heart attacks, and how many have sought early retirement because of stress. Some time ago figures were given to me by an electoral officer in Queensland relating to a very tight election contest that led to counting going on for about a fortnight afterwards. I am not talking about a Senate election but about one of the House of Representatives elections. That man gave me some figures which seemed to indicate that the strain being placed on electoral officers throughout the Commonwealth was excessive, cruel and inhuman. As if to give added weight to that man’s argument, subsequently he had to seek early retirement because of illness. This is not the sort of situation we should allow to continue. These are not the sorts of conditions which we should allow to prevail.
I take the opportunity at this stage of the BUI to ask the Minister for Administrative Services to make a survey or an investigation into what I am saying because he will find support for what I am saying. He should make a determined approach to the Public Service Board about the matter. Electoral officers carry out the most important function in a democratic system in relation to the procedure for an election. For those reasons those who carry out those procedures must be held in high regard. Their conditions and the staffing of their offices must be substantial enough to see that the rolls are kept correctly, that sufficient locality or habitation tests are taken from time to time and it should not be a spare time job as it is now. It should be a continuing process in order to protect the democratic process. I emphasise that.
I believe honourable senators will accept that this work is important. But what has happened as a result of pressure placed upon these officers? An error has occurred because of the pressure placed upon the people concerned. This error has to be quickly corrected in case there be a challenge which could lead to some invalidity of the redistribution in New South Wales. The error is minor but the consequences of it are substantial. As Senator Douglas McClelland has said, if this legislation does not go through today there could be a successful approach to a court to prevent the election taking place in New South Wales on the redistributed electorates. So the consequences are substantial. I now find that I agree with what
Senator Douglas McClelland has said. If the redistribution were to be found to be in doubt and if some injunction were granted against it we would have an election at large in New South Wales. I am told that an election at large would be held under rules brought down -
– They are not provided for in the present Act.
-The rules are not provided for in the present Act and apparently we would be completely at the mercy of the Minister for Administrative Services. I know he is essentially a fair man. I know that irony cannot be recorded in Hansard and that my words will be read as I said them without the inflection in my voice. But accepting that the Minister is essentially a fair man he would find it very difficult to set up a rule for an election in New South Wales without being influenced by his politics and ideological philosophy. We would find ourselves at considerable disadvantage in New South Wales.
– What would he do with the Country Party?
-The National Country Party of Australia ought to be very careful because it could be wiped out with one stroke of the pen and by one simple rule which the quick and rather devious mind of Senator Withers could grasp. He claims he was one of the architects of the various steps taken to obtain the dismissal of an elected government. He is proud of that. He says that his was one of the minds which applied itself to the various steps which led to that infamous deed. If he is capable of doing that to the disadvantage of the citizens of Australia, how much more would he be capable of setting up such rules which would not only disadvantage the Australian Labor Party in New South Wales but also would wipe out the National Country Party of Australia in New South Wales. The second part of that proposition appeals to me somewhat so honourable senators can understand that I could not be trusted either to draw up rules for an election at large. I would be influenced by my political bias and by constant reminders of what was done to the Labor Party in the past. In other words I would do to my political opponents what they successfully did to my party in 1975 when it was the government to which I belonged.
Coming from this legislation there is a need for someone to anticipate the day when an election at large has to be held. Sooner or later that will be bound to happen. Practically everything has happened to us m the past 10 years in this place. We have had a double dissolution. We have had an elected government dismissed. We have had a Governor-General brought under challenge. We have seen all sorts of things occur in this place. It is possible that even in our time there could be an election at large. I suggest to the Minister for Aministrative Services that he should promptly look at this possibility and draw up the necessary rules which he may seek to devise. He should bring them into Parliament for debate. I think he should take that suggestion on board.
As a Queenslander I was attracted to the debate in the other place. I do not necessarily accept what the honourable member for Lilley, Mr Kevin Cairns, said. I was interested because I come from Queensland and I have heard Mr Bjelke-Petersen on various occasions move from position to position. I have been the victim of some of his most oppressive Acts. I do not mean that the Premier of Queensland is oppressive. I merely say that his Acts are oppressive. Anyone who puts both those remarks together and says that I am in conflict with Standing Order 418 is incorrect.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Young)- Senator Georges, I took notice of the language you used. You are in order.
-They are oppressive Acts. He passed through the Parliament within 12 hours an Act which prevented him from appearing in a court of law but he expects everyone else to do so. He makes certain that the incidents which occur lead to that result. He has brought down a redistribution which disadvantages the Liberal Party far more effectively than it does the Labor Party in Queensland. When he can do those sorts of things in Queensland one questions what happens through the various institutions set up by Queensland. We have always considered Australian government institutions to be above reproach. Therefore I look with some alarm at the statement made by Mr Kevin Cairns. He stated:
I have serious doubts as to the honesty of one of the redistributions that has occurred in Australia. As I have indicated before, I am of a mind that the redistribution in Queensland was a dishonest redistribution.
– When did he say that?
-That was said on 3 November 1977- last night. He commenced speaking at 10.17 p.m. He continued: lam certainly of a mind that section 2 1 of the Act was not adhered to in that redistribution. To put it bluntly, I believe that some cheating went on. I am convinced that the Chief Distribution Commissioner in that State, Mr Coleman, should be thoroughly ashamed of what went on in that redistribution. My reason for so believing is quite simple:
Something occurred between the first publication of maps and the second publication of maps which was not even suggested in any objection or submission or proposition put to the commissioners. They got a message from on high, perhaps by way of a telephone call. But they made a significant change in names such as has not occurred before in redistributions that have been conducted under the present system.
I have raised this matter to attract the attention of the responsible Minister to those remarks. What Mr Kevin Cairns is saying is that one of the Distribution Commissioners, Mr Coleman, is dishonest. Mr Coleman is the Australian Electoral Officer for Queensland and the Minister, therefore, has a responsibility here to refute those remarks. What Mr Cairns is saying is that there was a switch in names which benefited Mr Eric Robinson. What Mr Kevin Cairns is saying by inference is that Mr Coleman is a friend of Mr Eric Robinson and something took place which was to the advantage of Mr Eric Robinson.
– How would a change in names advantage a person?
– I did not make the charge; Mr Kevin Cairns made the charge. A change of names did take place. An extra electorate was added in Queensland giving that State 19 electorates in all. The extra electorate announced in the first redistribution was called Gold Coast. Because the electorate of Mcpherson was substantially over quota it was cut in two to create the extra electorate of Gold Coast. As Mr Kevin Cairns said, without any approaches to the Commissioners and without any objections being lodged the name Gold Coast was changed to McPherson. In other words, the name of the safer conservative seat of Gold Coast was changed to McPherson so that Mr Eric Robinson could stand virtually for his own seat of McPherson which had been shifted to the safer conservative area. To facilitate that the name McPherson had to be changed to Fadden. So there was the change of names by some arrangement, suggested by Mr Kevin Cairns as a call from on high, which advantaged Mr Eric Robinson. It was said that an agreement was reached between Mr Eric Robinson and Mr Hinze who is the National Party member for the State seat of South Coast. This is a charge of minor corruption, but it is a charge that a Minister of the Australian Government arranged with a National Party Minister in the State Government to have the names of electorates changed so that Mr Eric Robinson would escape challenge by the National Party. In other words, Mr Eric Robinson, because of a change in name of an electorate, will be the retiring member for the new seat of McPherson.
-That is what Mr Kevin Cairns is saying. I am saying it is a charge of rather minor corruption but what he is accusing Mr Coleman of is dishonesty. I do not doubt that there were consultations between Mr Hinze and Mr Eric Robinson for their own protection because the information that is coming forward suggests that Mr Hinze said*. ‘If you stand for your own seat of McPherson we will not challenge you but if you stand for the Gold Coast certainly you will be challenged by a National Party man. If you agree to go along with that proposition make sure that I am not challenged m the seat of South Coast’. It is all pretty idle chatter but at the bottom of it is an arrangement which Mr Kevin Cairns claims is dishonest, an arrangement which involves the Australian Electoral Officer for Queensland who Mr Kevin Cairns says is dishonest. For that reason I ask the Minister for Administrative Services: Why were the changes made? Why was there the original redistribution which involved the cutting up of the electorate of McPherson in order to create the extra electorate? Why was it named firstly the Gold Coast, the obvious name for it, and the remaining more conservative rural National Party-type part named McPherson? Why should there suddenly be a change? Is there truth in what Mr Kevin Cairns said and, if there is, why is there not an investigation to find out whether Mr Coleman showed bias to Mr Eric Robinson following representations by Mr Eric Robinson?
Let me return to the untidy way in which this redistribution has proceeded in New South Wales and which has led to the amendment. I am concerned about the claim made by Senator Douglas McClelland that certain safeguards which were thought to be of a permanent nature are being removed from the existing legislation. If the Minister responds to requests now it possibly will avoid my participation at the Committee stage. Are the amendments which are proposed by the Government of a nature that may affect the situation in future? The Minister nods his head but it would be far better if he answered my question at the right time so that it is in the record. We go along with this legislation so that the election which has been decided on can proceed. There can be no doubt that we would have some misgivings about an election at large, and those misgivings ought to be removed by the Minister suggesting that he could antici- pate some future problem arising and he will ave his officers look at the situation now. Senator Douglas McClelland has indicated that the
Opposition will be moving an amendment, so I have nothing further to say.
– in reply- I thank the Opposition for its semi-support’ of the two Bills. I do not know why honourable senators opposite should fear me if I were able to write the rules. I assure them that if I did write them they would be fair and just- fair to us and just awful to them. That is the sort of suspicion which they have about me. However, leaving all jokes aside, among the matters raised by Senator Georges was the classification of divisional returning officers and their conditions. As a result of initiatives taken by the Chief Australian Electoral Officer some three or four months ago the Public Service Board is presently conducting a review of the classification of divisional returning officers. The Chief Australian Electoral Officer certainly has my personal and ministerial support -
– He has ours, too.
– Yes, and I trust that the Board will read the honourable senator’s comments. Turning to the matters which the honourable senator raised concerning Mr Coleman, I have met him only once but by reputation he is an experienced officer and I have total confidence in his integrity. I regret that the honourable member for Lilley in the other place said the things he did. I turn now to the naming of electorates. It ought to be understood that submissions which have come in about the naming of electorates are not printed for the simple reason that they are not official submissions because the naming of subdivisions is a matter for this Parliament and no one else. I have never telephoned Mr Coleman about the naming of electorates.
I have been asked, why the names were changed. I do not know. I suggest to honourable senators and particularly to the honourable member for Lilley in another place that he ought to read the report of a Committee of the House of Representatives which was presented in 1968 or 1969. That report was alluded to in the report of the South Australian Distribution Commissioners. That report recommended- it was no more than a recommendation- that when two electorates are shuffled together or put together, the electorate name to be retained ought to be that out of which the greatest number of electors came. In the case of the present electorate of McPherson, all the electors presently in the electorate came from the old electorate of McPherson. But in the new electorate of Fadden only some of the electors came from the old electorate of McPherson and some of them came from other electorates. So under the rules put down by the House of Representatives Committee, the distribution commissioners were correct.
-But they were not correct in the first place. They changed their minds.
-No, that is right. They corrected it in the second place and I think that they are to be congratulated. In any event, it is a matter for the Parliament. After all, as honourable senators know the commissioners recommend these changes and Parliament accepts or rejects the recommendation. Parliament has the right to call the electorates anything it likes. I think that one of the original suggestions for this electorate was the name of Gold Coast. The name of Gold Coast was changed to Fadden. I think that is more in keeping -
-Gold Coast became McPherson.
– Yes. There was a great deal of playing around. One of the recommendations contained in the House of Representatives Committee report was that the electorates ought to be named after distinguished Australians. I would hope that we continue the habit of naming seats in the Federal Parliament after former Prime Ministers of this country. I think this is a good thing. So that nobody has any doubt about the matter, I repeat that Mr Coleman has my total support. I have complete faith in his honesty and integrity and I regret that he should be accused of being other than he is.
I conclude my remarks by making these points fairly quickly. Senator Douglas McClelland again raised the problem of the redistribution in Western Australia and referred to the size of the Kalgoorlie electorate. I have some interesting figures on this matter. When the commissioners commenced their task, the electorate of Kalgoorlie was 14.99 per cent below the quota. The electorate of Moore was 22.8 per cent above the quota. In round figures, there was a variation of 15 per cent and 23 per cent from the quota. I thought it was that sort of variation which the Labor Party had complained about bitterly for the last 10, 20 or 30 years. This was the sort of electorate variation that occurred using the 20 per cent variation rule. We now have a 10 per cent variation provision and the electorate has been redistributed in accordance with that. I thought that honourable senators opposite would prefer the present situation in which the greatest variation in electorates ranges from 6.3 per cent below the quota in Kalgoorlie to 4.56 percentabovethequotaintheelectoratesof Fremantle and Curtin. I thought honourable senators opposite would have said that that comes closer to the principle of one man, one vote, if that is the catchcry -
– No, one vote, one value.
-Is it one vote, one value? I get mixed up with all these slogans. Rather than a variation of plus 23 per cent to minus 15 per cent -
– One man gets one vote in Queensland.
-I see. Some men are more equal than others. I donot think honourable senators believe there ought to be that sort of distortion to which I have referred. I can recall those far off days when I read Hansard. I recall the former honourable member for Grayndler in the other place, Mr Daly, making great powerful speeches about the wickedness of how, if one electorate was 20 per cent below the quota and another electorate was 20 per cent above the quota,therecouldbeavariationof40percentin the number of electors in the two electorates. We were told that that was unjust. What is the position in Western Australia? The electorates varied from plus 23 per cent above the quota to 15 per cent below the quota. I do not know what the total variation adds up to there.
– Thirty-eight per cent, is it not, when you add them together.
-It is getting pretty close to that figure. I thought that was the sort of situation that members of the Australian Labor Party in particular thought was very wicked. If we do the additions now, we find that the greatest variation between electorates is about 1 1 per cent- from minus 6.3 per cent to plus 4.5 per cent. The position is coming moreinto balance. The deviations are very small. It is for that reason that, in accordance with the present Act, the Government believed that Western Australia’s 11 electorates ought to have been redistributed. They have been redistributed. The electorate of Kalgoorlie just had to get bigger. It is now only 6 per cent below the quota instead of being 15 per cent below the quota. I thank honourable senators for their comments on the Bills.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bills read a second time.
– The Minister for Administrative Services (Senator Withers) may have overlooked the fact that I sought guidance in relation to the proper filling in of Senate nominations, in view of the fact that New South Wales electoral rolls are in a state of flux. Before the Minister answers this matter, I received a telephone call when I left the chamber very briefly. Another problem arises. People must be enrolled on the electoral rolls by 10 November. I point out to the Minister that at the moment there is no electoral office in the new electorate of Dundas. I do not know whether people have to write to the Parramatta electorate or to the Lowe electorate in respect of this matter. But I think this is another example of the confusion that has arisen. People in the new electorate of Dundas should know where to send their enrolment forms. I think this is a fair question to ask: If people are sending their enrolment forms to the Parramatta electorate or to the Lowe electorate, what is the modus operandi for collating them and fitting them into the correct boundaries of the Dundas electorate.
I have made two points: One is about the people in the new Dundas electorate and where they should enrol before 10 November. The second point which is equally important is that I want to know what is a valid Senate nomination in New South Wales. A senator in my position will probably be seeking nomination from people who are now in the old electorate of Evans and who will become part of the new Lowe electorate.
– I will answer those questions fairly quickly. I should not be giving legal opinions and I am not. But as the honourable senator knows, the nomination form is form C in the Schedule to the Act. A copy of the form is shown on page 94 of the Act. I will read section 217 of the Act without attempting to put an interpretation on it. It states:
The Act seeks substantial compliance. Senator Mulvihill will not be the only person in that situation. I am quite certain that, if he cannot put down his present number, he should put down his previous number and there will be substantial compliance. It is mainly a matter of the identification of the person nominating. We would miss Senator Mulvihill if he did not come back.
– I wish to raise another question. I know that Senator Withers is engrossed with the Chief Australian Electoral Officer on these matters. Between now and 10 November, the date for the closure of the rolls, where will these people living in the area that will be covered by the Dundas electorate of the future send their enrolment cards? At the moment these people are residing in the suburb of Ryde which comes within the electorates of Lowe or Parramatta.
– I will answer the points raised by Senator Mulvihill very quickly. These people would send their enrolment cards to the office where they normally send them. As soon as the new electoral division is proclaimed, all these problems will be fixed up for them.
– Insofar as the Bills relate to Western Australia I understand that as a result of the redistribution, a citizen of that State, believing it to be illegal, took an action in the High Court, as he had a citizen’s right to do. I understand further that it was discovered that his action might be successful and the Act is being changed to defeat his attempt to seek redress.
What stage has the action reached in the court? Did the Commonwealth send counsel into court to contest it? Has it yet come to hearing? Since presumably some costs to the litigant have been involved, has provision been made to permit recovery especially since it would appear that he was on valid ground and the Government is amending the Act- during the hearing by the court- in order to forestall his action? Will he have an opportunity to recover the costs involved?
– For the honourable senator’s information, the writ in the case he mentions was actually set down for hearing on Wednesday of this week. However, the action has been settled on terms which, at the request of the plaintiff, are not to be disclosed.
-Is that right? I heard that an application was being made to have the case stood over pending determination.
-That is so, but upon the passageofthisbill,anduponconditionsnotto be disclosed, the action is to be discontinued. It is up to the plaintiff to disclose those conditions if he wishes. I know what they are because, naturally, the Attorney has told me. The Attorney may well disclose them to Senator Cavanagh to allay any fears he may have.
– That only brings up the other questionthe conditions of settlement. I do not know the individual involved and am not that much concerned other than to see that justice is done. However, this brings up the question we debated last night- in which I was supported by Senator Wright- whether, if the settlement resulted in a cost to general revenue the Commonwealth should have entered into an agreement for expenditure of public money that cannot be submitted to public scrutiny.
– Perhaps we need to move quickly on it, but the question that now arises is: Did the Commonwealth come to an arrangement with a plaintiff concerning electoral legislation, arrive at a settlement concerning which we are to have no knowledge- merely to rid itself of an embarrassing case that was then before the court.
– The plaintiff came to the arrangement with us.
– I have an amendment that I wish to move on behalf of the Opposition in connection with the very matter that my colleague, Senator Cavanagh, has raised. As the honourable senator has said, an action was taken in the Court of Disputed Returns, part of the High Court, by a Mr Lalor, a citizen of Kalgoorlie, challenging the validity of sections 25 (2) (b) (i) and 25 (4) of the Commonwealth Electoral Act, as amended in February of this year. Section 25 (2) (b) (i) provides that whenever in one-fourth of the Divisions of the State the number of electors differs from a certain quota- ascertained by the Commonwealth Electoral Officer- to a greater extent than one-tenth more or one-tenth less then a redistribution may be made. But if a redistribution is made on that count, according to section 25 (4) a proclamation shall not be made in relation to a State, by virtue of the sub-paragraph to which I have referred, within a period of seven years after the last making of a proclamation in relation to that State. The situation is that the last redistribution took place in Western Australia in 1974 and the recent redistribution took place in 1977.
Sitting suspended from 1 to 2.15 p.m.
-Before the suspension of the sitting I drew the Committee’s attention to an amendment to clause 3 of the Commonwealth Electoral Amendment
BUI (No. 2), which has been circulated in my name. Clause 3 of that BUI reads: 3. ( 1 ) Section 25 of the Principal Act is amended by omitting sub-section (4).
Leave out sub-clause (2).
That will remove the retrospective provisions contained in the BUI and wil enable Mr Lalor, a litigant who has his writ now before the High Court, to proceed with the action he has taken. Prior to the suspension of the sitting I explained the reason for Mr Lalor taking that action. As I understand it, when the matter was called on for hearing on Wednesday by agreement it was stood over until this legislation had been dealt with in the Parliament. But during the course of the earlier remarks of the Minister for Administrative Services (Senator Withers) the Minister indicated, I think it fair to say, that when this legislation is disposed of the matter before the court will be settled on terms which have been agreed upon already as it were in advance. At this stage those terms of settlement are not to be disclosed. The purpose of the Opposition moving this amendment was to enable the litigant concerned to continue with the prosecution of his writ in the High Court. Under those circumstances, we have proceeded to move the amendment, but we wil not divide the Committee on it.
At the same time, perhaps in respect of the same vote, I indicate that the Labor Party opposes clause 4 of the Commonwealth Electoral Amendment BUI (No. 2), which relates to the proclamation. That clause provides that the proclamation shall be deemed to have effect as if it had been made in pursuance of section 25 of the principal Act as amended by this BUI.
-I ask you to move your motion in respect of that clause later, Senator.
– I was going to suggest, Mr Chairman, that we could have one vote on both these matters, but to suit your convenience I shall deal with clause 4 later.
– I wish to raise one other matter. In a reply I received this morning from the Minister for Administrative Services (Senator Withers) the Minister indicated that a settlement has been reached in the Lalor case on undisclosed terms. If the terms include a payment by the Government, which payment would have to receive the approval of the Parliament, how will that amount be disclosed in the Appropriations? Will it be shown separately in the Appropriations, or will it come under a general heading so that it will not be able to be distinguished?
– I imagine that it will be shown somewhere in the supplementary Estimates. I am calling on memory, but I think that somewhere in the votes for the Attorney-General’s Department an item is shown for the costs of litigation or legal costs paid on behalf of the Commonwealth. When those supplementary Estimates are being considered by the Parliament honourable senators most probably could ask for details of how the amount shown against that item was expended and what the item included.
– This raises another question. I suppose there will be a one line item to cover all the cases where costs of litigation have been paid on behalf of the Commonwealth. When those supplementary Estimates go to the Estimates committees or to the Committee of the Whole for consideration and debate, is one entitled to ask for details of these costs? The Minister just said that details can be requested and will be provided, but this raises the question of whether the details can be given in breach of an agreement made in court.
– I am only surmising what will happen. I think I am correct, but I do not want to give any assurance that I am correct. That would be a matter for the appropriate Estimate committee or for the Committee of the Whole to determine with the Attorney-General (Senator Durack) when dealing with that line item in those Estimates. The honourable senator will know that occasionally these agreements are reached in court and to some extent they form part of the judgment. The order would be that leave be given to discontinue the action in terms which have been disclosed to the court but which are not to be disclosed generally. If that is part of the court order -
– I am querying your right to enter into such an agreement.
-I think litigants have always had that capacity; it is not an unusual arrangement.
– Not between litigants, but it might be unusual when a government seeks it.
-That might be so, but I think this might be a matter for discussion during the debate on another Bill in another place with another Minister. But that is my advice from the Attorney-General at the moment.
-I draw the attention of the Committee to the fact that we are taking two Bills as a whole. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition has indicated that his Party wishes to vote against clause 4 of the Commonwealth Electoral Amendment Bill (No. 2). I suggest that leave of the Committee should be sought to take this clause by itself.
- Mr Chairman, I seek leave to take clause 4 of the Commonwealth Electoral Amendment Bill (No. 2) by itself.
– Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
Senator DOUGLAS McCLELLANDClause 4 of the Bill reads:
I indicate at the outset that we do not object to the removal of the provision contained in subsection (4) of section 25 of the Commonwealth Electoral Amendment Act (No. 2), which is the seven year rule. At the time that legislation was introduced I think we contended that that provision should not be included. We are pleased to see that now, probably only because of action taken in the High Court, the Government has seen its way clear to mend its ways and to delete that sub-section. However, we do object to the retrospective validity of the proclamation. That would take away the rights of the individual who has chosen to exercise his rights in the Court of Disputed Returns.
While I am on my feet, I did mention during the second reading debate on the Commonwealth Electoral (Redistribution) Bill that a provision had been written into that Bill in clause 4 sub-clause (3) whereby in the future if any mistakes were found to have been made those mistakes would be validated. We object to that provision also. But, for the reasons I indicated during the course of my speech on the motion for the second reading of the BUI, the Opposition would not oppose that BUI under the existing circumstances. For the reasons I have given, the Opposition opposes clause 4 of the BUI relating to the redistribution for Western Australia, namely, the Bill relating to proclamations with respect to the Commonwealth Electoral Amendment Bill (No. 2).
Clause agreed to.
Bills agreed to.
Bills reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bills (on motion by Senator Withers) read a third time.
Debate resumed from 3 November on motion by Senator Withers:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
-The Opposition does not oppose this Bill. The Bill authorises the appointment of a person to hold or to act in the office of Secretary to the Department of Overseas Trade and simultaneously to hold or to act in the position of Secretary to the Department of the Special Trade Negotiator. The existing Secretary to the Department of Overseas Trade, Mr McKay, was gazetted to hold the position of Secretary to the Department of the Special Trade Negotiator concurrently with his present position on 17 July last. However, that gazettal was retracted immediately afterwards. On 16 September a correction was published in the Government Gazette stating that no such appointment had been made. I am told that the legislation now before the Senate is necessary to ratify the situation where one man simultaneously holds or acts in two positions of Permanent Head for two separate departments of state. The Governor-General questioned the legality of the dual appointment when it was announced. It is understood that the Commonwealth Public Service Board also had reservations about the appointment when it was first made.
The appointment of a Minister for Special Trade Negotiations has necessitated the creation of a new department of state, with all the attendant costs of establishing an additional government department. The value in establishing such a department must be doubtful. The Minister’s brief is to endeavour to secure increased access to the European Economic Community’s markets for Australian products. However, the European
Economic Community is by no means Australia’s major trading partner. In 1972-73 Australia’s exports to the European Economic Community countries constituted 20 per cent of Australia’s total exports, whereas m the last financial year such exports, expressed in terms of the percentage of the total exports, were 16.8 per cent. One has to go back ten years before one arrives at the situation where exports to European Economic Community countries amounted to one-quarter of the total volume of Australia’s exports.
It seems a strange situation that in 1977 a separate department of state is being established to improve access to the European Economic Community’s markets when the highly protectionist policies of the EEC have been widely known for some time. In fact, the EEC is a market of decreasing relative importance to Australian exporters. The Australian Financial Review of 18 July of this year had the following comment to make about this matter:
If a department of special trade negotiations is required it must surely be for Japan which last year took 36.6 per cent of our exports.
I mention that in the context of the recent trading difficulties that have occurred with Japan concerning beef quotas and long term contracts for the supply of Australian sugar to Japan. One of my colleagues in the other place- the honourable member for Hughes, Mr Les Johnson- suggested that a certain degree of overlap would exist between the functions of the Department of the Special Trade Negotiator and the Department of Overseas Trade. This possibility is recognised. We acknowledge the point made by the honourable member for Hughes, that the creation of the Department of the Special Trade Negotiator may not have been necessary if the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr Anthony) had been able adequately and satisfactorily to administer the responsibilities of one of his portfolios, namely, the Department of Overseas Trade.
It appears that it has become necessary to create a new department of state and thus further burden the Australian taxpayer because the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) either is trying to undermine the influence of the National Country Party of Australia in the area of overseas trade or the Deputy Prime Minister is simply unable to fufil all the responsibilities associated with overseas trade. However, as I have mentioned, the Bill merely authorises the appointment of one person to hold or act in the office of
Secretary to the Department of Overseas Trade and simultaneously to hold or act in the office of Secretary to the Department of the Special Trade Negotiator. Whilst I have taken advantage of this Bill to criticise the Government over some of its administrative problems, for the reasons I have outlined the Opposition will not oppose the legislation.
– in reply-I thank Senator Douglas McClelland, the Opposition and the Senate generally for their support of the Bill.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Debate resumed from 3 November on motion by Senator Withers:
That the Bills be now read a second time.
– My colleague the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Wriedt) was to handle these three Bills on behalf of the Opposition but, because he has had to return to Tasmania, I will now handle them on behalf of the Opposition. We do not oppose the three Bills. They are the three components of the Government’s proposal to fund increased coal research, as announced in the August Budget. The Australian Labor Party favours actions to increase the scope for research into and development of Australia ‘s coal resources as long as that research is optimally directed and co-ordinated within a comprehensive national energy program. It is this aspect of the present Government’s proposal that we criticise. Efforts to fund increased coal research are commendable; but to be truly effective this research must form part of an overall energy plan about which the Government has been talking for some time now.
The energy situation will change dramatically over the course of the next quarter of a century and Australia will not be spared. It has been estimated that by the mid 1980s Australia will be largely dependent on imported crude oil supplies if its current consumption patterns and consumption rate are maintained. Both Australia and th world face an energy crisis within the next 10 to 20 years as supplies of oil and then natural gas are depleted. Countries most vulnerable are those that will not be able to substitute other fuels for oil. Two main steps need to be taken: First, the development of liquid and gaseous hydrocarbon fuels to replace oil, at least in the short term; and secondly, more efficient energy use.
Because of its role as a potential oil substitute, the value of coal as an energy source has escalated greatly in the past four years. Coal is widely seen as the main substitute for oil as a primary energy source in the short term at least. It has long been utilised in traditional solid form in such industries as steel and electricity generation; however its potential use in gaseous or liquefied form makes it a viable substitute for oil in the transport industries and elsewhere.
Australia is particularly fortunate in having plentiful coal resources close to its major centres of population. It is crucial however that we make full and beneficial use of this resource. I draw the attention of honourable senators to the following quote at page 133 of the Joint Coal Board’s annual report 1975-76: this cannot be done unless there is a very significant increase in the various fields of research which are essential elements to the development of coal as Australia’s major energy resource base.
There appears to be wide scope for better organised and increased research into coal in Australia. The 1975-76 Joint Coal Board report put a lot of emphasis on this need. It states that many authorities, universities and companies are involved to some extent in coal research and development. However, much of this work is unco-ordinated and fragmented. Further, despite the number of bodies involved, total expenditure is very small, particularly in view of the increasingly important role coal will have to play in Australia and overseas.
Therefore this move to increase Federal funding of coal research is very important to Australia. It would be best used if it brought some degree of organisation and co-ordination to the research program being conducted throughout the industry. The Government has not clarified the nature of the research advisory committees from which it intends to take advice and recommendations on appropriate research. Hopefully these committees will be directed to taking a broad and co-ordinated approach to research programs.
At the international level coal research has taken on new significance in the past oil-crisis years. In 1973 the International Committee on Coal Research was formed by members of the European Economic Community and the United States of America. Japan joined that organisation in 1976. The potential for Australia to contribute to international research programs is extremely important. It must be borne in mind however that coal research on its own is not enough. Overall energy policies are required to encourage the proper use of available resources and to avoid the allocation of energy resources merely on the basis of short-term commercial advantages.
Australia is urgently in need of a comprehensive energy policy which aims not only to develop our natural resources optimally but also to encouraging efficient use and greatest conservation. The proposed increase in the levy on coal and the direction of funds to coal research is only one small step in this process. Australia has been slow to date to respond to the world energy crisis. This Government has been in power for two years and has done nothing to establish a much needed national energy policy.
As I have said, the three Bills relate to the Government’s proposal to fund increased coal research, as set out in the August Budget. The Labor Party favours action to increase the scope for research and therefore it does not offer opposition to any of the three Bills.
– I rise to support the three Bills and to speak specifically to the Coal Research Assistance Bill. I have had the opportunity on many occasions to mention the part that coal has played in the development of my home State of Queensland. In the 1960s, when primary industries were facing most difficult problems, such as low and falling wool prices and a disastrous drought, it was the establishment of the coal mining industry in Queensland which enabled us to provide jobs and remain viable. However, I do not think that we can keep taking out of an industry without puttingsomethingback,andthereinliesaproblem.Muchmoreresearchneedstobedoneinthe industry. Research work to the value of $9.5m was carried out in 1976-77. Of this amount $3m to $4m was spent by the Commonwealth Government through the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, the rest being spent by the Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd, the State Mines Department, the Queensland State Electricity Commission, the universities and the Joint Coal Board.
Although there may be conflicts of opinion across the chamber in respect of the role of coal exporting companies there is no doubt that these companies provide jobs and expertise as well as earnings for this country. No one would deny that statement. Indeed, the company that comes in for the most criticism has done much research on its own. It is recognised that a recovery rate of about 90 per cent is possible by means of open cut mining, but with underground mining, in extremely good conditions, the recovery rate is from 60 per cent down to 15 per cent. It is ridiculous not to make use of the coal resources that are still available when this country is entering an era when energy resources will be sparse. As the previous speaker, Senator Douglas McClelland, said, coal will have an important role in the future and we should be doing everything possible to recover as much coal as we can. As I said, the recovery rate by means of underground mining can be as low as 15 per cent and that is not good enough.
As a result of the open cut technology at present available in Australia we can recover coal to a depth of 200 feet. Basically, no work is being donein this field except that being done by the Utah Development Corporation, that much maligned organisation that the Opposition seems to see as the most sinful of all companies because of its success. Utah is looking towards extending the depth at which coal can be mined by the open cut method to 300 feet and even 400 feet in the near future by using drag lines and bucket wheels. Development such as this should be encouraged. The Government should play its part and give every assistance.
When speaking on previous legislation I have mentioned the problems associated with underground miningin the Bowen Basin. BHP, almost alone, has borne the brunt of exploratory work there into such problems as outbursts. The Leichhardt colliery comes to mind as a company which probably has never made a profit because of the problems it has to face. The other mining companies, knowing of the problem, are sitting back and hoping that BHP will come up with an answer.
I support this Bill. The coal producers of Australia have no objection to it- indeed, they welcome it- but naturally enough they would like to have some part in saying how the money will be spent. It would be quite objectionable if all this money went to the academics and none was spent on the practical side. I support the Bill and commend it to the Senate.
– In reply- I thank Senator Douglas McClelland,
Senator Collard and other honourable senators for their support.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bills read a second time, and passed through their remaining stages without amendment, requests or debate.
Debate resumed from 3 November on motion by Senator Carrick:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– The main purpose of the Queensland Grant (Special Assistance) Bill 1977, now being debated by the Senate, is to authorise payments to Queensland of $24.8m in special grants. These grants are in accordance with the recommendations set out in the 44th report of the Commonwealth Grants Commission. At this stage I mention that the Grants Commission was appointed on 17 July 1933. It made its first report on 25 July 1934, covering applications made by South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania. Those facts prompt me to recall some words of the Minister for Education (Senator Carrick) in his second reading speech, when he said:
The Commission’s recommendations in relation to the special grants arrangements have been adopted by the Parliament each year since the Commission’s inception and the Government considers that they should be accepted on this occasion.
The fact that the grants have been adopted each year by the Parliament I think is a remarkable achievement and one which we should continue to follow. As a senator for Queensland, certainly I support the payment of this grant, but if I were a senator from any other State or indeed if this grant was for another State I would still support it because of the way in which the grants are determined.
Unfortunately, when the Bill was being discussed in the House of Representatives the debate degenerated into a political slanging match. For instance, at one stage the honourable member for Mackellar (Mr Wentworth) referred to Mr Bjelke-Petersen as a bushranger. I suspect that recent events in politics, especially in Queensland and I suppose in the Federal sphere, because an election is coming up, could goad members into taking a political stance on this BUI, but I do not intend to do that. Some people might say that I am a little cynical in my approach because of the remarks that I made last night, but those remarks were quite separate from this BUI, which is too important to be fettered by party political discussion. I intend to debate the BUI as such and not to be party political about it. Certainly I might differ from some of my colleagues who will speak after me, but I intend to outline the general approach followed by the Commonwealth Grants Commission and the reason why the grant is being made to Queensland.
The existence of the Commonwealth Grants Commission acknowledges the fact that some States suffer financial disabilities by comparison with New South Wales and Victoria, the two standard States. In other words, it acknowledges the fact that there is inequality among the States. The general principle of the Commonwealth Grants Commission is to investigate that financial disability, when a request is made for it to do so, and to ensure that people in one State enjoy similar services to those provided to then* peers in other States. One of the great strengths about our Federation is that we can minimise the inequalities among the States, using the Commonwealth Grants Commission, as well as other measures, as a vehicle. It is fairly easy to see why Queensland is at a disadvantage in relation to the two standard States. May I outline some of the reasons. If one looks at the population of Queensland and the populations of New South Wales and Victoria, one wil see a disadvantage there for a start. The population of Queensland at 30 June 1976 was 2.1 million, the population of Victoria was 3.7 million, and the population of New South Wales was 4.9 million. The disadvantage that accrues from the lower population in Queensland by comparison with Victoria and New South Wales is that less taxation revenue is due to Queensland because of its lower population, and indeed the Grants Commission takes that into account.
In addition, not only does Queensland have a smaller population but also it has a larger area. It is the second largest State in the Commonwealth in terms of area. The area of Queensland is 1.7 million square kilometres, that of Victoria 0.2 million square kilometres and New South Wales 0.8 million square kilometres. In other words, not only does Queensland have a lower population but also it has a much vaster area that the State Government has to service. As well, it is a highly decentralised State. Those who can picture the map of the east coast of Queensland wil know that there are major centres of population extending from Brisbane to Cairns. Indeed, there are some reasonably heavily populated places north of Cairns. But all along the east coast from Brisbane to Cairns there are major centres of population. If one travels by air from Brisbane to Cairns one travels 1,435 kilometres, which is a long distance when compared with those in the standard States of New South Wales and Victoria. One can go from Brisbane to another city in Queensland and travel even further. The distance from Brisbane to Mount Isa by air is 1,580 kilometres. The fact that such vast distances are involved puts Queensland at a disadvantage in terms of providing services equivalent to those provided m the standard States.
When the Commonwealth Grants Commission looks at all these factors it draws attention to the fact that some States must have their income supplemented because of revenue needs and expenditure needs. Part of the forty-fourth report of the Commonwealth Grants Commission brings this fact out. Paragraph 1.5 states:
To enable a claimant State to function at a standard not appreciably below that of other States without having to levy taxation and other charges of greater severity than in those other States, its revenue needs to be supplemented because of:
a) its lower capacity to raise taxes and other revenue; and
its need to incur higher costs in order to provide comparable governmental services.
These are referred to as revenue needs and expenditure needs respectively.
The Commonwealth Grants Commision in determining the revenue needs and expenditure needs has hearings at which it is able to elicit information on these details and also uses statistical data available to it. Then the claimant State has these needs determined by the Grants Commission. In determining these needs the Grants Commission, of course, refers the claimant State to the two standard States. Queensland is now the only claimant State to the Grants Commission. On 30 September 1971 Queensland applied for a special grant for the year 1971-72. It has been a claimant State ever since.
I mention the other non-standard States and indicate when they ceased to be claimant States. South Australia ceased to be a claimant State on 1 July 1975. This was as a result of an agreement between the Commonwealth and South Australian governments in relation to the transfer of the non-metropolitan South Australian railway system. Tasmania made, but later withdrew, applications for special grants for 1974-75 and 1975-76. In reality, Tasmania ceased to be a claimant State in 1974. Tasmania’s withdrawal as a claimant State was the result of other additional finances being made available to Tasmania. The only other non-standard State which
I have not mentioned is Western Australia. It was last a claimant State in 1 968-69.
I mentioned earlier that the Grants Commission determines revenue needs and expenditure needs for the States or, in this case, for the State which is a claimant State. I mentioned that what the Grants Commission assessed to be the revenue needs for Queensland for 1975-76 is shown in its forty-fourth report. Queensland’s revenue needs were grouped under three main headings- firstly, taxation; secondly, land revenue; and thirdly, rnining revenue. Under taxation the Grants Commission assessed the revenue need for Queensland as being $103,251,000. How this sum was determined is set out in the forty-fourth report. What is important to note is that in general this need was because of the lower population in Queensland. There were some other minor factors as well but population was the greatest factor.
With land revenue and mining revenue there are significant differences. The Grants Commission considered that there was a negative need in these two cases. In other words, Queensland had an above standard revenue capacity for land and mining. Its capacity was higher than that of the standard States of New South Wales and Victoria. For land revenue there was a negative need of $9,323,000. For mining revenue the negative need was even greater, namely, $32,113,000. So from the assessed revenue needs for Queensland these two negative needs were subtracted. The assessed revenue need for Queensland thus was a net $61,815,000. The expenditure needs for Queensland were also grouped under a number of headings. These were: Social services, business undertakings, debt charges and another group called other net expenditure. The assessed expenditure needs were all positive. In other words, Queensland was at a disadvantage in each of these cases. The total assessed expenditure needs for Queensland was $84,654,000. The revenue needs and expenditure needs are summed to find out the total needs. But that is not the grant which is recommended by the Grants Commission. From that amount nas to be subtracted the amounts made available for needs which have been met by other Commonwealth grants. This was done in the case of Queensland to determine a total need of $35. 8m. It is on the basis of the $35.8m that this Bill is before the Parliament Of course, advance grants had been paid some time before of $25m. This meant a total completion grant for 1975-76 of $10.8m.
I mentioned earlier that the total amount recommended for payment by the Grants Commission was $24.8m. The difference between the $ 10.8m which I have just mentioned and the $24.8m consists of an advance grant for 1977-78. I am pleased to be able to support the recommendation of the Commonwealth Grants Commission. I am especially pleased that the recommendation is for a grant of $24. 8m to Queensland. I can remember how, as a Queensland public servant, I assisted in preparing part of the case for Queensland. In previous years I had appeared before one of the Grants Commission hearings. I suppose because of my association with helping to prepare a case and because I appeared as a witness before the Grants Commission I had a more than special interest in the Grants Commission and its findings. I urge those honourable senators who are interested in this aspect of CommonwealthState financial relations to study the 44th report. If members of the House of Representatives had studied carefully the 44th report some of the grossly erroneous statements which were made in the debate in that House would not have been made. I refer to statements which indicated that certain people thought that because of certain things which Queensland was doing about taxation policies it should not be entitled to this grant. The 44th report sets out clearly why this grant was recommended and points out that even though some of the taxation policies in Queensland are different they have been taken into account. I support the Bill not only because it recommends a grant to Queensland but also because it is the type of Bill that has always received support in this Parliament. I hope that such Bills will continue to receive this support while we have claimant States. I support the Bill.
– I want to say a few words about this Bill. It is one which makes a grant to Queensland, and honourable senators may wonder why a Victorian senator has the audacity to enter into the debate and express views. On the other hand, I assure honourable senators that if they have patience they will hear why I do so. This is a Bill which provides a special grant to Queensland of $24.8m, as Senator Colston has said, in addition to amounts that will go to Queensland by way of payments which are now made through the federalism policy of this Government. Those payments alone are much more generous to Queensland, along with the other States, than had previously been the case. I refer to the second reading speech made by the Minister for Education (Senator Carrick) because it mentions factors that ought to be taken into account.
I hasten for the comfort of Senator Colston to assure him that I intend to vote for this Bill and not stand in the path of Queensland getting this additional $24.8m. However, I think that other factors ought to be recognised which at the moment are not recognised by Queensland and some of its political leaders. As was said in the second reading speech, this is an additional amount to be paid to Queensland which already is receiving by way of personal income tax entitlements greater amounts per capita than it received before. Of course, it receives greater paymentsthanNewSouthWalesandVictoria.It has been pointed out that Queensland now is the only State applying for special revenue assistance. It is the only claimant State; that is its decision. It chooses to do so and to seek additional money.
It is interesting to look at the financial hardships which are imposed on citizens and taxpayers in other States, particularly New South Wales and Victoria, to enable this additional grant to be made. The second reading speech pointed out that some $776.2m goes to Queensland under the income tax sharing arrangements, which averages out at $361 per head of population compared with an average of $264 per head of population for New South Wales and Victoria. That is the situation under the normal arrangements. Quite apart from the money to be paid under this and other Bills, such as the brigalow scheme Bill, and other payments that may be made to Queensland, there is an allowance to Queensland of $97 per head. That is Queensland’s entitlement. It ought to be recognised, and perhaps recognised a little more often by Queenslanders, that they are requiring from other taxpayers in Australia greater assistance to enable things to be done in Queensland, remembering, as we do, that there are developments in Queensland. Already the size of Queensland has been raised. Nonetheless, the Australian taxpayer makes those provisions for Queensland.
Despite that and the fact that this $24m is over and above the weighted entitlements which Queensland already receives, one reads with some surprise the things which are written in Queensland, which at the moment is subject to an election campaign. I saw in Mr Hugh Lunn’s column in the Australian on 3 November references to statements which apparently are being made by a certain cricket personality, one of the Packer stable who appears in many advertisements on behalf of the State Government. He says some things which I find true. He desires the
Queensland Government to encourage initiative and hard work- they are excellent sentimentsand goes on to say:
The Government’s made sure that we, as Queenslanders, pay the lowest State taxes and charges in Australia; that we, as Queenslanders, don’t pay State death taxes or gift taxes. And because of their firm belief in free enterprise Queensland ‘s payroll tax has also been significantly cut.
Queensland is the wealthiest and fastest-growing State in Australia.
Maybe it is, but we must remember that though the recommendation this year is that these grants should be paid, I do. not read into the second reading speech necessarily that that always will be the case.
– It does not sound like a mendicant State.
– It does not sound like a mendicant State, from the propaganda which comes forward. When I look at these statements that Queensland has the lowest taxes and charges in Australia, I am aware that Victorians pay rather heavily in this area and also that Queensland has chosen to cut out such things as State death duties. Queensland is entitled to do that and to attract people from Victoria and elsewhere to go to Queensland, perhaps not to live but to die, in order to gain benefit from the assets of those people. Other States cannot do this. Because they have other commitments they cannot abolish death duties. Likewise we find in Victoria and New South Wales that payroll tax is a heavy burden on industry. It is not attractive and does not depend on the profits which businesses make. Dearly would we like to see the end of payroll tax. On the other hand, Queensland is able to reduce its rate of payroll tax. I am not suggesting that it is for us to tell Queensland what it can do but perhaps Queensland should recognise that commitments and sacrifices are made by other taxpayers in Australia to enable Queensland to have the luxury of abolishing or reducing duties. One reads with some concern day by day what is happening in Queensland. Even this morning we read in the Australian the remarks which the Premier of Queensland, Mr Bjelke-Petersen, has been making. We as Australians are concerned about civil liberties and about the rights which people have in election campaigns -
– Should have.
– I go further. As secretary of Amnesty International in this Parliament, Senator Coleman would agree that it is a right which we have. We demand that right and we have it. Sometimes it is restricted but we should fight against such restrictions wherever they appear so that there is no interference with anyone in Australia speaking about restrictions which appear in other parts of Australia. This lady, Mrs Bonner- I do not think she is any relation of our distinguished Senator Bonner- is a former Miss Australia who describes herself as a former National Party supporter. She said that apparently she had been branded almost a communists because she has criticised the Premier for his attacks on the rights of anti-uranium campaigners. I do not have much sympathy with the viewpoint of those campaigners but I do have sympathy for the right of the people to make their viewpoint known and to demonstrate their viewpoint as Australians. When she tried to criticise the Premier he told her:
If you squawk like a crow, look like a crow and fly like a crow you 11 be shot with the crows.
I deplore any politician in Australia describing not only this beautiful lady who appears to be an intelligent woman who expresses -
– It would be the equivalent of calling an English lady a cow.
– Yes. The expression is most unfortunate, bearing in mind the various meanings. The significance of this matter is that it is unfortunate when one finds people who in political campaigns want to label other people. I think this is deplorable. This has been the subject of some discussion in the Parliament. Reference has been made also in the editorial of the Australian this morning to statements which were made also by the Queensland Premier. This concerns us as Australians and as taxpayers.
I make these remarks because they have relevance to the Queensland Grants (Special Assistance) Bill which the Senate is debating. In Mount Isa assistance has been given for the construction of the Lake Julius Dam. The Premier of Queensland has said, when speaking in support of the National Party candidate, that assistance provided in relation to this dam may not continue and that ‘any other candidate will have no access to me at all. I find it surprising and deplorable that that should be said, particularly when I understand that we as taxpayers provided a grant of $325,000 towards work on that dam last year. Consequently, I believe, as the *Australian newspaper pointed out in its editorial, that any Australian citizen is entitled to elect the candidate of his or her choice as a member of Parliament. Surely any member of Parliament, is entitled to approach a Premier to make representations in regard to matters such as dams. It is unfortunate to find political leaders suggesting that they will not recognise members of opposition parties who seek to make representations to them.
I notice that at least the Liberal Party in Queensland raised some objection to these matters. I notice this morning that Mrs Yvonne McComb, the State President of the Liberal Party in Queensland, in referring to the statements made about Mrs Bonner, said that Mr Bjelke-Petersen must realise that everyone has a democratic right to vote for any political party. I think that that expression shows -
– She is the only one who has the guts. It is a credit to her.
-It is a credit to her, as Senator Georges points out. I know that an election is being heldin Queensland. I know that the members of the public voting in that election do not want to jump out of the frying pan into the fire. They may not want to vote against one party and vote for the Australian Labor Party. But I hope that Liberals and people who have a belief in civil liberties and who are prepared to express that belief and to stand up for them will receive the support of the Queensland people. Queensland is an important part of Australia. It is such an important part of Australia that we recognise it by making grants such as the grant made in this Bill to further the development of Queensland. We in turn have a right to expect that Queenslanders and Queensland leaders will respect the democratic rights of persons in their State. It is for us to raise objection when these things happen. As I said, I will certainly support this Bill. It provides an additional grant to Queensland. I hope it will be put to good purpose. I hope at the same time that the Queensland Government will recognise that we are making this assistance available as Australian citizens and that it will respect the rights of all Australian citizens during this election period.
– I rise to take part in this debate and to use the procedures of the Senate to air one or two matters that are concerning me gravely with respect to conduct in the election campaign in Queensland. Before I say anything at all about those matters, I commend Senator Missen on his contribution to this debate. I wish we had more time available to us this afternoon because I would like to join with him in debating the merits of Queensland continuing to remain as a Commonwealth Grants Commission claimant State, claiming that it is disadvantaged against the standard States of Victoria and New South Wales. At the same time it is coming under severe criticism from the Commonwealth Grants Commission for its inadequate methods in some forms of tax collection and revenue producing fields. One noticeable example is the royalties charged on minerals and the special freight concession rates. However, as time is limited this afternoon, I am afraid that that debate cannot be pursuednow.Iwillfinditveryinterestingtodebate the matter the next time the Grants Commission report comes before this Parliament. I look forward keenly to that debate.
As I said earlier, I am hoping to use the procedures of the Senate this afternoon to speak on one or two matters in Queensland that concern me very much. Mr Acting Deputy President, I shall endeavour to connect my remarks on those matters with the grants that have been made available from the Commonwealth Parliament to the State Parliament. I am gravely concerned about certain events that have occurred during the State general election campaign in Queensland. I refer particularly to the statement made in Mount Isa recently by the Premier of Queensland. The plain fact is that the Premier used his position in order to threaten to pervert the parliamentary process. I have been involved in the political scene for some time now. But never before have I seen an attempt to blackmail the electors like this threat to the electors in Mount Isa. The Commonwealth Parliament had previously appropriated an amount of $325,000 towards the completion of the Lake Julius Dam at Mount Isa. That dam will supply water to industry and the community of Mount Isa.
The Premier of Queensland was given wide newspaper and radio publicity when he was reported to have said State aid for the Lake Julius Dam would not necessarily continue if Mount Isa electors threw out Mr Bertoni who is the sitting National Party member for Mount Isa. In fact, the Premier inferred that any member for Mount Isa who was not a National Party member would be denied his right to make representation to the State Government on behalf of the people who elected him. The position is as simple as that. Surely the right to make representations must be a fundamental right of any member of Parliament. I do not think any honourable senator would doubt that it would be the duty of any member of Parliament to try to do everything possible for his electorate. I believe that the Australian today summed up the situation adequately in its editorial. It stated:
In one sentence, Mr Bjelke-Petersen has injured the rights democrats have fought for centuries to preserve. He has served notice that any Parliament he controls may not recognise any Opposition.
– He may not even recognise the coalition.
- Senator Coleman makes a good point when she says that the Premier may not even recognise his coalition partner, the Liberal Party. The editorial in the Australian continues:
It is a statement-
This refers to the statement made by the Premier of Queensland -which makes all those jokes about Queensland under Mr Bjelke-Petersen being the Deep North very grim jokes indeed.
I believe that I am a proud Queenslander. I am very much attached to my State. But how should I feel when I hear colleagues say that they tell their friends not to holiday in Queensland so that they can keep their money in Australia? It is a grim joke indeed. So serious is this threat not to spend a Commonwealth Grant of $323,000 on the Lake Julius Dam project for which the money was appropriated, that I asked a question in this Parliament, followed by another question this morning. I am indeed grateful to the Leader of the Government in the Senate, Senator Withers, who said quite emphatically, that as far as the Commonwealth Government is concerned money allocated to Queensland for special purposes would be spent in accordance with the guidelines for which that money was given. I am pleased to obtain that assurance from the Leader of the Government in the Senate because I think it will be very comforting and satisfying not only to the electors of Mount Isa but also to all the people of Queensland. No doubt those people might have been intimidated by the Premier in the past although we did not know anything about it. They could be intimidated even in the future by the threat that if they do not vote for the Premier and his candidates they will receive no benefits whatsoever. If this exposure has not achieved anything other than putting an end to this intimidation, the whole exercise has been worth while.
This matter was regarded so seriously by the Leader of the Opposition of that State, Mr Tom Burns, that he has written to the AttorneyGeneral, Mr Lickiss, the official responsible for enforcing the law impartially. The attention of the Attorney-General has been invited to two sections of the Criminal Code, the one that Mr Zaphir was charged with by the Premier of Queensland, and section 102 which applies specifically to elections.
Mr Burns asked that if the statement of the Premier had been correctly reported- and there is ample evidence on tape that the Premier said there was nothing wrong with the statements he had made- he should be charged, as would any other member of the community, and given an opportunity to defend himself in court. If he is found guilty he should vacate his seat in accordance with the Criminal Code of the State. I see nothing wrong with that. If the Premier of Queensland thought it good enough to apply to an officer of the Storemen and Packers Union, it is surely good enough to apply to himself.
It appears that the Premier of Queensland has lost his cool. He is like a fighter on the ropes and buckling at the knees. Let us consider what happened recently at Blackall, the reference to which by Senator Missen I appreciated, and to the statements made there by the Premier regarding Miss Australia of 1968, the former Miss Helen Newton, a very well-respected and highly regarded citizen not only of Blackall but of the State of Queensland.
– A lovely girl.
-As the honourable senator interjects, a lovely girl. Because she had the temerity to ask at a meeting in Blackall whether he regarded all people who are antiuranium mining as communists and socialists, he referred to Mrs Bonner- as she is known now- a married woman, as a crow. What a despicable outburst against the morals and character of a well-respected citizen. One of the most degrading descriptions that can be levelled is to call a woman a crow, meaning a woman of doubtful virtue and easy morals. Nothing short of a public apology will satisfy the residents of Blackall and Mrs Bonner in regard to the statements and the nomenclature that the Premier has applied to her.
As I said earlier, I should have liked to become deeply involved in this debate on the Commonwealth Grants Commission, because Queensland is the only claimant State and was the last to become such. Because of my experiences on, and interest in, the Public Accounts Committee when I was its Chairman, I took a deep interest in the work of that Commission. Time does not permit my discussing it further, but doubtless the Senate will afford other opportunities for us to express our views.
I would merely say in conclusion that I am terribly disappointed in the Premier of Queensland. He has not brought to that high office the prestige and credit that one would expect a Premier to exercise. In referring to the electorates he has said that if people do not vote for his candidates and his Party they will get no help at all. That, in itself, is bad enough. In the political arena, where there is no place for shrinking violets, we can aU stand up and defend ourselves, express ourselves and put forward our points of view. Also, there is machinery to provide redress where necessary. But when a Premier vents his spleen upon a defenceless woman of the character and reputation of this former Miss Australia we are indeed getting to the bottom of the barrel in politics in that State. There is an old saying that those whom the gods would destroy they first make mad. The recent actions and utterances of the Premier of Queensland have certainly put him in that category.
– I rise to speak briefly, appreciating the sort of constraints that exist in the Senate at the moment on debate and time. We have heard some extraordinary speeches here today. I cannot rebut, nor do I wish to rebut, all of the things that have been said, but we heard a speech just a little while ago which, as a Queenslander, I felt in good conscience I could not let pass without comment. The history of Queensland ‘s becoming recently a mendicant State is long and involved, encompassing as it does the whole area of government finance, as I am sure Senator AcAuliffe would appreciate. It is one which he did not attempt to meet but I, along with many other Queenslanders, become very weary of the implication that somehow or other we are being done a great favour when we receive a Commonwealth grant.
The facts and figures show that Queensland, as one of the States of the Commonwealth, more than pays its way, in its own way. The history of its becoming a mendicant State is long and involved and not one that I intend to canvass in the Senate today; it is another subject altogether. But the recent and current history of Queensland’s role and participation in the development of this nation is clear and is one of which we are proud. I resent an honourable senator from another State implying that Queensland should not be a mendicant State because it has produced a State budget that has not increased taxes. In this chamber, on many occasions during this session, Senator Carrick, the Minister who assists the Prime Minister in Federal Affairs, has directed attention to the fact that no State has, in its current budget, increased taxes. That includes aU of the mendicant States, plus the larger States of New South Wales and Victoria.
Senator Carrick has, on a number of occasions, taken credit on behalf of the Commonwealth Government for that fact, and indeed I think that is where the credit does lie in relation to this particular issue. The States have been able to avoid increasing their own taxes because they have enjoyed a very large and ready share of Commonwealth income tax revenue. That has applied to aU States, and not least to Victoria. When the State budget of Victoria came down we had banner headlines certainly in aU of the Victorian newspapers, and large headlines in other newspapers, on the proud boast of the Victorian Government that it did not need to increase taxes. So, in that sense, Queensland was not out of step with any other State.
Certainly the inference that Queensland is some sort of a sponging State just cannot be supported. I would like to place on record just once again the contribution that Queensland makes to this nation, specifically in terms of export earnings. In the last 1 S years Queensland, in common with Western Australia, has seen an enormous expansion of mining industries in particular and primary industries m general. Some of our primary industries have, like those in other States, experienced problems. The problem in the wool industry began some years ago, and in the beef industry more recently because that industry is geared to the export market and was expanded in expectation that a large export market would continue to exist. We are not on our own there, but it is something which has affected us in particular. We have had some worries recently in relation to sugar, but they appear to have been satisfactorily concluded. But without a doubt, what Queensland has contributed to this nation in export earnings, specifically in its mining industries, has been outstanding.
I draw the attention of the Senate to some figures quoted by my colleague Senator Collard in his speech to the Senate on 25 February 1976. It is possible that now there are more up to date figures, but I do not expect that they would differ much in terms of comparative variations as between States. These figures, as I said, were quoted in a speech made in 1976. Since then our sugar export earnings have not declined, although they were recently under threat; our beef export earnings have increased to some small extent; our mining export earnings have not varied very much- there might have been a small variation in copper, which would have been at least offset by the expansion in our coal exports. I put those observations on record as some sort of balancing factor which might account for any discrepancy between the situation now and the figures quoted by Senator Collard which were the most recent figures he was able to obtain last year. I think that the comparative situation has not varied. I entered this debate on short notice. I did so because I am angered by some of the nonsense which has been said in this debate on a Bill in relation to Queensland. Senator Collard stated:
The figures for the year 1972-73-the latest figures that I was able to obtain-show that total Australian exports were $6,2 14m while total imports were $4, 12 1 m, leaving a surplus of $2,093m. Of that Queensland’s exports were $ 1,306m, with imports of $3 lim, leaving a Queensland surplus of $994m, which was 47.5 per cent of the national surplus.
– How much for sugar?
-Senator Georges interjects and asks: ‘How much for sugar’. He knows very well that on about 30 seconds notice I do not have those figures in front of me. He, as a Senator for Queensland, will realise if he casts his mind back to 1972-73 that in that financial year rnining was a major sector, at it remains. In that period beef would have been a considerable sector; it still is a considerable sector in terms of Australia’s total export earnings. That might not give much joy to our beef producers because they are not getting much per head of cattle, but the total value of export earnings has not declined. As I was saying, Queensland’s surplus represented 47.S per cent of the nation’s surplus in that period. Senator Collard continued:
For the same period Victoria’s exports were $l,495m, with imports of $ 1,473m, leaving a surplus of $22m or 1.08 per cent of the national surplus.
I did indeed resent a Victorian senator preaching to me as a Queensland senator about Queensland’s economy and about what we should and should not be doing when our State’s contribution to the nation ‘s economic health is so overwhelmingly far ahead of the contribution of bis State. Senator Collard continued:
New South Wales exports were $ 1,421m, with imports of Sl,810m, leaving a deficit of $389m, which means that New South Wales provided a debit of 1 8.59 per cent in Australia ‘s national surplus.
I appeal for support from Senator Georges on behalf of our State. He knows as well as I do that in debates on tariffs one of the difficulties which he had when he was in government and which I have in government is that of explaining to the people of Queensland the prices that they have to pay for items which would be more cheaply imported, but tariffs protect the jobs of people in Melbourne and Sydney. We might accept that as a national objective- we might accept that as a national requirement- but give credit where it is due. In terms of the overall existence of this country Queensland, as one of the smaller States -something which honourable senators from the larger States are so fond of sneering at- more than makes its contribution. Senator Collard in his speech drew a parallel between Queensland and Western Australia, the other major exporting State in the Commonwealth. He snowed that in the same period the exports for that State were $l,154m, its imports were $227m, leaving a surplus of $927m or 44.29 per cent of the national surplus. I remind the Senate that Queensland’s share of the national surplus was 47.S per cent. So between them those two States- both mendicant States -
– No, Queensland is the only one.
– I am sorry, Western Australia certainly was a mendicant State originally. But I am referring honourable senators to the figures for 1972-73, the most recent available figures in February last year. I find it a little tedious that Senator Georges and Senator McAuliffe should interject on my speech.
– We are only helping you make your speech.
– Thank you, Senator McAuliffe. I always appreciate how you help me to make my speech; you know that. Honourable senators opposite will be aware that the history of the economy of Queensland which led to its becoming a mendicant State largely had its roots in the war years and in the years when the Labor Party was in government. I am not saying that the State Labor government did the wrong thing in those terms in those years. But unfortunately the history of Queensland shows that the decisions which were made then by a State government, believing it was acting in the national interest, brought our State to a point where it was forced to become a mendicant State. One would hope that it will be in the short term. Nevertheless, it is a very involved story and that is only part of it.
I want to move on to the figures for a couple of other States because there are six States in this Commonwealth. The figures quoted by Senator Collard in 1976 demonstrate some other aspects in relation to the export surplus per head of population in 1972-73. He stated:
The average for Australia was $157.73; the average for Victoria was $6.29; New South Wales . . . lost $82.12 per head of population; whereas in Queensland the earnings were $510.71 and in Western Australia they were $854.90 … the figure for South Australia was $265.65, for Tasmania $435.15, and for the Northern Territory $470.08.
Senator Collard continued:
Honourable senators should not forget that that compares, as I said previously, with Victoria’s very low $6.29 and New South Wales ‘ abysmal deficit of $82. 12.
This is not the first time I have been virtually forced, at short notice, to get to my feet in this
Senate and do what I must do as a senator for Queensland, that is, set the record straight. I say just one other thing because we heard some general comment on Queensland. In the past few years Queenslanders have become almost used to the most extraordinary reporting on our State in the southern Press.
– Oh! Who is responsible for giving them the material? Who provided the copy?
- Senator, please for once let me finish a sentence. You might even be interested in what I have to say. Constantly in the southern Press we have seen a most extraordinary portrayal of Queensland. One would wonder why anyone would live there if one believed the picture that was painted. I remember saying, Senator Georges, on a State-wide television program on the subject some 12 months ago: ‘They are all laughing at us south of the border’ I hope Senator Georges watched it-‘The great danger of the sort of nonsense that has been published in the Press about Queensland is that Queenslanders will wipe aside the Press to such an extent that they will never take seriously any criticisms that they read of their State ‘.
I do not claim that the State Government or the State is perfect, but Queensland has a lot of things going for it. That is quite obvious from the fact that people from other States are flocking there to live in their tens of thousands every year and are doing so of their own free choice, regardless of what they have read in the Melbourne Age, the Australian or anything else. They are coming particularly from Victoria and New South Wales. Some interesting things have happened in terms of our domestic politics because of that southern migration. That is another story, but it is an interesting one. The numbers have been so great that they are starting to have an impact on domestic politics in very clearly defined areas of the State.
– We are an hour behind the clock. We do not even know how to save our sunshine.
- Senator Georges, as an honourable senator who travels the State widely and examines these matters, would be aware of that. I am not saying that Queensland is perfect. It is quite obvious that I do not think that the Queensland Government is perfect because there are many occasions when it is criticised in this chamber, and sometimes I rise to my feet to defend it and sometimes I do not.
– It is a long time since you were critical. Why do you not listen to your State President?
-All in good time. What I am saying to Senator Georges now and what I am saying to the people from the other States whom I hope are listening is that there is a great deal of nonsense in the Press about Queensland. The great danger of that, which I think is starting to see fruition in Queensland, is that Queenslanders will stop listening. It is my impression that up until a couple of years ago the more extreme nonsense was treated with amused tolerance by Queenslanders. It is now my impression, as somebody who travels the State and knows its people fairly well, that Queenslanders are starting to lose patience with the nonsense that is talked about them. The great danger is that the justified criticisms- there is quite a number of them- no longer will be heard in Queensland. Unless people talk sensibly about Queensland instead of operating basically on their prejudices, promoting a myth in certain areas, never looking at what is the balance and never looking at why it happens in that way, the great danger is that Queenslanders’ ears will be closed to outside influences. I would deplore that.
Certain things have happened in our domestic politics in recent days that have left me a little bemused. I have to say that. But, in common with my colleagues from Queensland on the other side of the chamber, I have spent most of that time in this city, removed from that city, and it has become a little difficult to weigh up some things. If Senator Georges wants it on record, I will put it on record: I cannot see why people cannot march on a Saturday afternoon in Brisbane if they want to demonstrate a political point of view. That is my point of view. Nobody has ever asked me for it; I have volunteered it. I have been waiting for somebody to ask me for it, but nobody has done so. But that is another issue.
– I have not been game to ask.
-It is a credit to the honourable senator’s good sense that he was not game to ask. I rose to speak, as I said at the beginning, because whilst there are justified criticisms that could be made of Queensland, people should not speak out of ignorance of the State. It was to a speech in ignorance of that State that I rose to reply. I did so to put on record some of the facts. When people speak in this chamber to a grantsBilltheyshouldrelatetheirremarksto factsabouteconomiesandneeds.Whenthey speak out of prejudice on a totally different issue we have come to a very low level of debate indeed.
– Would you identify that speech?
-If the honourable senator is that thick I cannot help him. I rose to try to identify the areas of fact that ought to be put on record in this debate on a Bill in relation to Queensland. I believe that all Queenslanders, regardless of their politics, have much to be proud of in their State. I believe that even the Labor senators take some pride in some aspects of their State. I certainly do in relation to the development and potential of the State and in relation to the people of the State and their attitude of live and let live. I really think that Queenslanders have shown a great deal of tolerance to the nonsense to which they have been subjected in the last three or four years. It was nonsense that was started to try to justify why the Federal Labor Government was unpopular there. It was not in terms of issues and not in terms of its activities but in terms of some vague, deep, sinister sense to which it chose to put down its own failures. The representatives of Queensland in this chamber should get the debate on to facts, even if the facts turn out to be critical of the State, and keep it on facts. We will be then operating in a way that is useful to our State and nation.
– I was extremely pleased to hear Senator Martin speak in this debate. She had a number of things to say. One of the things she said that I felt was most important was her statement that she believed that people should have the right to march. I happened to be in her fair State a couple of weeks ago. I think it is a delightful State. Mind you, I do not necessarily agree with the views of all the people in Queensland; but all the people in Queensland do not agree with my views either. On a particular Saturday morning very rerecently there were at least 4,000 people who agreed with what I had to say. They were on the side which was opposite to that of the PremierJoh Bjelke-Petersen.
Senator Martin seems to think that we on this side of the chamber have some objection to the
Massing of this Bill and to Queensland obtaining 24.8m. I have absolutely no objection at all. I recognise the great wealth of Queensland and the great contribution that that State has made to Australia’s export earnings. The people who have come from there are contributing to the proceedings in this States’ House. But I believe that the international reputation that Australia has at the moment is being damaged by the actions of one man. I think that governments have to act in a responsible way and, in my opinion, the Queensland Government is not doing that at this point in time.
I believe that the incident that apparently occurred there on Wednesday night of this week, as reported in the Australian this morning, is deplorable. It is entirely irrelevant whether the woman involved in that incident was a former Miss Australia. I do not believe that that makes the slightest bit of difference. Whether the woman concerned was Mrs Fred Bloggs from down the corner or someone who lives 150 miles from Brisbane and who is from fairly poor circumstances makes not the slightest bit of difference to the fact that the Queensland Premier had the audacity and temerity to call a woman, irrespective of whether she was an Australian, a crow. We heard a little earlier the definition of the word ‘crow’. That was a most despicable statement on the part of this man and I think that all Queenslanders will be shocked by it. Mrs Helen Bonner, the woman concerned, was certainly shocked by it. She said:
Most of the town is upset that a former Miss Australia should be treated like that I have had phone calls from a lot of people on properties who are so upset that I was almost branded as a communist. I was brought up a Country Party voter, though I suppose you could call me a swinging voter now.
I suggest that come 12 November there will be many swinging voters in Queensland who will, I hope, see the logic of casting their vote in the right direction. Whether they are voters in rural districts or in city electorates, they have now to realise that one man cannot be allowed to get away, as the Premier has been doing, with fooling the people into believing that he is the best thing that ever happened to Queensland. The report in the Australian stated that Mrs Bonner said that the Premier even inferred that she might be living out of wedlock with her husband, Chris.
-That is the report in the newspaper. The honourable senator obviously has not read it. It reads:
Mrs Bonner said yesterday the Premier even inferred she might be living out of wedlock with her husband, Chris.
I think that is deplorable. Even if she is, I do not think that it has anything to do with him.
– Or with the Bill.
– It has nothing to do with the Bill, Senator, but I will come to the Bill in a minute because I want to ask whether some of this money is to be spent. If the honourable senator wants me to turn to the Bill straight away, I will. But I make the point that we have a man in Queensland who has to realise that he can no longer stand over the people who live there without answering to them for the amount of money that he is supposed to spend.
I asked a question about this matter this morning. I asked what had happened to the money that had been paid to the Queensland Government to fund two women’s refuges. When the answer comes from the Minister for Health (Mr Hunt) I hope he will be able to say where the money went because I do not think it has been returned to the Federal Government. I think Joh is probably still sitting on it or he has possibly used it for some other purpose. But we have a right to know what he is going to do with it. Senator Missen said that he hoped the money would be used wisely. I have heard Senator Martin say that there is a lot of nonsense being read about Queensland in the southern Press. This is an example of where the question of segregation comes m. Queenslanders refer to everybody else as being southerners. The Liberal member for the Federal seat of Brisbane, Mr Peter Johnson, told me that I had no right to be at that Brisbane rally which was held only a couple of weekends ago. I do not think he will be the sitting Liberal member for Brisbane very much longer. I told him to make sure that he had a good look around his electorate while I was there.
I think we have a right and a responsibility to ask what money, for instance, was spent and where it came from. I understand that $30,000 was spent to bring an additional 1,000 policemen and policewomen from all over the State to be at the rally on that Saturday morning. Whose money was spent on that exercise? Was that in actual fact the same money that had been given for another purpose? Was this money that was used by the State Government? We have a right to know the answer to that question.
It is a pity that, although this Parliament has the power to appropriate sums of money to the States, it has no way of forcing the States to spend it. We saw what happened in Western Australia when $4.5m was appropriated by this Parliament two years ago to be used for Aboriginal housing. But this money was not spent. Not a cent of it was spent although the Aborigines were crying out for it to be used for the purpose of housing. We have no way of ensuring that State Governments use the money. We can give money to them but this does not mean that they wm spend it. If we have a look at a report which appeared in the Australian today it does not appear that Commonwealth money will be spent in that State. Mr Bjelke-Petersen said that, if people in Mount Isa exercise their democratic right to vote for the individual they want to vote for and that individual just does not happen to be bis candidate, they are not likely to see the money for the Lake Julius Dam. I think that is a disgusting form of oppression. It is the most disgusting degree of politicking that we have seen in Australia and I hope that we would not see it again.
– It is blackmail.
-It is blackmailing the Queensland community. What is even worse, this is blackmailing industries which might be prepared to set up operations in these areas but which would be reliant on water that might be supplied from the dam in question.
– Oh, rubbish. Do we have to listen to this?
- Senator, if you do not like to hear what I am saying, please go outside. You upset me when you almost doze off and then wake up.
– You have invited me and I Will take advantage of the invitation. I have never accepted an invitation with greater grace.
– I do not mind the honourable senator being here. It is just that he looks as though he is asleep. I realise that the honourable senator is not asleep and I find that disturbing. I see that the honourable senator has left the chamber. I am sorry that he has found it necessary to do so.
Mr President, a senator from the Government side of the chamber said that I should get back to the Bill.
– I am concerned most of aU by the fact that $325,000 has been appropriated for the Lake Julius Dam at Mount Isa and that we have no way, as I said a moment ago, if we take the Queensland Premier at his word, of ensuring that that amount of money Will be spent. The Premier is reported in the Australian as saying:
Any other candidate will have no access to me at all.’
He also is reported as saying that unless Mr Angelo Bertoni is returned and unless he has a worker for his Party in Mount Isa he wil not play his part. We can only presume that means that anyone who differs in opinion from the Queensland Premier as reflecting by votes cast may not see any of the funds appropriated by this Parliament That is not quite good enough. When we appropriate moneys for the States we have a right to know that the money will be spent responsibly and that it will be spent to the wellbeing of the people of the State concerned.
The other interesting item I found in the newspaper report this morning was that the Queensland Teachers Union has already made complaints that the State Government has withdrawn education funds from Labor electorates and transferred them to school buildings in Government electorates. I think that is equally deplorable. If in actual fact there is a need for schools, if there is a need for a preschool centre or a day school centre and the need happens to be in a Labor electorate the schools should be built on those electorates on a needs basis and not on the basis of providing facilities to hold an electorate.
– Who made that statement?
– This statement was made by the Queensland Teachers Union. I find the situation it outlined to be rather deplorable. In fact, I find it rather frightening that a responsible body like the Queensland Teachers Union- and I presume that it is just as responsible as its State and Federal counterpartsshould make a statement of that nature.
– A week before the election?
-I do not know when the statement was made because the article does not give this information. But it says that there had been earlier complaints by the Queensland Teachers Union that the State Government had withdrawn education funds from Labor electorates and transferred them to school buildings in government electorates. I am sure that Senator Archer, coming from that beautiful State of Tasmania which I also visited last week but in which I did not have the same trouble as I had in Queensland, would agree that whether an electorate was held by a Liberal Party member, a National Country Party member or an Australian Labor Party member the provisions of buildings such as schools should be based on need. I am sure that there are a number of senators on the other side of the House who would agree with Senator Archer.
I again draw the attention of the Senate to the situation that exists in Queensland and that was certainly evident a couple of weeks ago. I referred earlier to the amount of money that is reported to have been spent on bringing 1,000 additional policemen and women into the centre of the city of Brisbane on a Saturday morning to control a rally. I am given to understand from a policeman who was involved that policemen and policewomen who approached their senior officer and questioned whether this action would result in a confrontation between the police and people who had a difference of opinion in respect of uranium were left behind. I hope that at some later stage this matter will come before a court of law so that we will then be able to make these statements in a much more practical way. I also have to express my concern that at that particular rally I saw one of my colleagues -
– Order! I remind Senator Coleman that we are discussing a financial Bill. I ask her to keep to the subject before the Chair.
-Well, Mr President, I am doing that in a sense because I am querying whether in actual fact money that had been allocated through the Grants Commission to the States can be used by State governments for other purposes. We know that it is not supposed to be. I am questioning whether in fact that is happening. I am querying how in fact the additional policemen and policewomen who were used at that rally two weeks ago were paid for. I believe that my tax payments are among the highest paid by honourable senators. Some of my tax money goes to Queensland. I want to know whether it is being wisely spent. I want to know- I think I have the right to know- whether it is being spent for such purposes. However, I do not know that I will get an answer in this place. I want a reply to a question I asked during Question Time this morning as to what happened to funds appropriated through this Parliament for two women’s refuges that the Queensland Premier had stated he would not pass on. As I said earlier, when the reply comes, I hope we will be told that either the money has been returned to the Federal Government or that, to use Senator Missen ‘s words, it has been used wisely.
I also hope that something will be done to help people who live in the outback of Queensland. I travelled in the outback of Queensland quite recently and I must comment on the condition of some of the roads that are almost impassable even in good weather. When one says to the Queensland people that the situation is just not good enough and that Federal government money has been expended for national roads, they tend to agree that the roads are bad but say that nothing has been done for quite some time in their area. We have seen a number of disturbing things in Queensland. Perhaps the nonexpenditure of Federal funds is just as bad as the over-expenditure of State money. We have to determine for ourselves in this chamber whether we want to continue to fund at this rate- it is a substantial amount of money- and whether all the money will be used in a comprehensive way. Then we have to determine in this chamber whether the money is adequate or whether it should be increased. There is a lot of responsibility on members of this chamber. There is a lot of responsibility on members of Parliament in general.
We cannot turn our backs on the things that I mentioned earlier. We cannot turn our backs on the expenditure of money at uranium demonstrations. We cannot turn our backs on the fact that money is not being spent on roads in Queensland. Even Mr Nixon had to admit that the roads in Queensland were in a deplorable condition. We cannot turn our backs on the fact that there is a Premier in Queensland who thinks he has the right to rule alone. He does not care about his Liberal Party colleagues. He cares less for his Labor Party colleagues. This is my own point of view but I must stress that this is bringing down politicians in their entirety. It is denigrating them to depths to which I do not like to see politicians denigrated. I believe that we are elected to office because people think that we are responsible. We should act in a responsible way. It is unfortunate that the Premier of Queensland does not agree with me. In my opinion he acts in a most irresponsible way. I commend the Bill to the Senate.
– in reply- Surprisingly enough the Senate will want to know that we are debating the Queensland Grants (Special Assistance) BUI 1977. The Senate would Uke to know that this BUI arises from the fact that Queensland, being a mendicant State, had applied to the Commonwealth Grants Commission for special assistance. The Grants Commission made a recommendation to the Commonwealth that an amount of $24.8m be granted to Queensland. The Commonwealth has accepted that recommendation. The grant comprises a completion grant of $ 10.8m and an advance of $ 14m. That is the subject of the BUI.
One of the very great institutions of our time is the Commonwealth Grants Commission, established by a government of our philosophy in 1933. It is good to know that every recommendation of that Commission has been accepted in a bipartisan way by the Commonwealth. For a length of time I was unable to be sure where the
Labor Party stood on this matter. It has supported the BUI and for that I am grateful but for a time I wondered whether it felt that Queensland ought to be a mendicant State. However, that did not emerge. Honourable senators opposite might make that clear sometime.
- Senator Missen made it clear.
-As Senator Georges intervenes I shan ask him, through you, Mr President, whether he believes that Queensland should be a mendicant State.
– It became necessary for it to do so to bring its economic position into order.
-I am delighted to get agreement. Inevitably, because there is an election in Queensland in eight days time, the debate took the form of a State election campaign. With the best of goodwill may I say that I was reminded strongly of something a fellow named Benjamin Franklin said. I commend it to honourable senators. He said: ‘Cleanse your own finger before you point to my spots’.
– I am not saying a thing. I am just laughing at the analogy.
– The Opposition this afternoon has been directing itself to its firm and fervent belief in freedom of assembly. That was quite clear in Queensland at least but not in Canberra. It was not clear at the University College or at the Lakeside Hotel. It was not clear with Mr Fry and his associates so far as the Williamsburg Conference was concerned. It is not right for the Queensland Government to have policemen in the streets because that is paid from the taxpayers’ money but it is aU right for the Lakeside Hotel to be embattled and surrounded by police It is aU right that there should be no freedom of assembly in the Australian Capital Territory when the Labor Party and its associates do not want freedom of assembly. I repeat: ‘Cleanse your own finger before you point to my spots’. Queensland will stand on its own performance. It is a front runner in progress in Australia
– The people of Queensland should know that that groan of the Jeremiah came from a Queensland Labor Senator, Senator Georges. He does not believe that his State is a front runner. He believes that it is lagging behind. Another Labor senator said he was ashamed about people holidaying in Queensland because they thought they were out of Australia. The Queensland tourist activity is the envy of the rest of Australia. Let the people of
Australia, both inside and outside Queensland, judge for themselves, as they have. They find Queensland a front runner in progress and an extremely attractive place to visit. They also find the Government a very progressive government.
-If it is not a progressive government then Senator Georges is opposed to the abolition of probate, is he not? Listen to the silence that will persist for the next eight days!
-Let me answer the question.
-No. You can speak later in the Committee stage.
– He asked me a question. He put his hand up to his ear. I am prepared to answer it.
– No. I call Senator Carrick.
– He is trying to get an Academy Award. That is what it is all about.
-If Oscars are to be handed out they should go to the Queensland Government for its achievement of rapid development in Australia. I do not think that anybody in the Parliament is opposed to $24.8m going to Queensland. I noted that there were fervent federalists amongst the Labor Party when they talked about the Grants Commission and its attributes. I hope this attitude keeps up for the next five weeks. I commend the Bill to the Parliament.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
– The Minister assisting the Prime Minister in Federal Affairs (Senator Carrick) has goaded me into making a few comments in the Committee stage. I do not know whether he remembers but when I started speaking this afternoon I said that I would speak to the Bill and that I would keep my speech as non-political as I possibly could. I thought I did so. I outlined some of the reasons for Queensland being a claimant State.
– Get to the point.
-I have 15 minutes to get to my point, Senator. I will use it if you goad me like that.
-Order! The honourable senator will address the Chair.
-As I was saying, I outlined what I considered to be some of the major aspects with regard to the Commonwealth Grants Commission, why Queensland is a claimant State and how its needs were assessed. The Minister then stood up and asked whether we thought Queensland should get this money. I made it perfectly clear in my contribution to the debate that I supported the fact that Queensland should receive $24.8m. Not only did I do that; I also said that it is becoming a tradition that when this Bill comes before the Parliament it is accepted by all parties. I said that if I were from another State and if the grant were for Queensland I would support it; alternatively, if the grant were for a State other than Queensland I would still support it. I still believe that a lot of the comment that was made about the Grants Commission was not well informed because some honourable senators had not read the relevant sections of the 44th report. I want to put on record, following the Minister’s statement, that I firmly believe that Queensland should receive this grant of $24.8m, and I also believe that it should be a claimant State. In his remarks the Minister asked whether we thought that Queensland should be what he called a mendicant State. I believe that it should be a claimant State because the Grants Commission has shown quite clearly that Queensland needs this additional revenue. If it were a claimant State and did not need the revenue the Grants Commission would ascertain that it had no need. All I wished to do in this contribution as a Queensland senator was to set the record straight.
Bill agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Motion (by Senator Carrick) proposed:
That the Bill be now read a third time.
– I take the opportunity to speak on the third reading. Because of time constraints and the fact that the Opposition had three speakers listed, I did not take the opportunity to enter into the debate during the second reading stage. However, I want to make quite clear my position on this matter of the need for Queensland to be a mendicant State. It has been my view for quite some time that it is not necessary for Queensland to remain in the position of being a mendicant State, having to come before this Parliament year after year seeking additional money through the Grants Commission. That is not necessary because there are many ways in which Queensland could adjust its financial arrangements, adjust its taxation, in order to remove itself from the position of being a mendicant State. I think it is a disgrace that Queensland should remain in such a position. The royalties that could be raised on mineral resources are substantial, but the Queensland Government, under Mr BjelkePetersen, has not taken advantage of that avenue for the collection of revenue; nor has the Queensland Government resisted the decision of the Commonwealth Government to remove the excise on coal. I thought that a reasonable means by which the Commonwealth as a whole and Queensland in particular could benefit from increased revenue was to place a levy on the production of coal so that no State could sell out another State. That is the only way to put it. There are ways in which money can be raised. In reducing that levy, the Commonwealth Government has removed one way in which moneys could be gathered to dispense with the need for Queensland to be a mendicant State.
Freedom of expression and freedom of association have been put in some doubt in Queensland. It is the responsibility of this Government and the Australian Parliament to see that not one State in the Commonwealth limits in any way freedom of expression and freedom of association. Senator Carrick sought to make a comparison between Labor’s attitude in Queensland and the attitude of people in Canberra whom he says we support. The Williamsburg Conference is a closed conference. It should be an open conference. Its deliberations should be clear and open. There is no place in this country for a closed conference of this sort, which will debate in private the nature of the paper that will subsequently be released. It would be wise for us to frown upon such a conference, and we should not allow ourselves to be placed in a position where young radical protesters have to take a stand on our behalf in the defence of freedom of expression and communication.
I commented by way of interjection to the Minister that the Australian National University had no need to move away from its decision that the conference should be held at the University. In order to remove the criticism, it should have asked that the Conference be open. Even our political parties now hold all their conferences in the open. Having reached that decision, surely we should not allow a conference with participants from a variety of places around the world to be held in Australia behind closed doors. I make those brief remarks on the third reading of this money Bill in order to make my position clear.
Question resolved in the affirmative. Bill read a third time.
Debate resumed from 3 November on motion by Senator Cotton:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
-The Senate is about to debate the Tasmania Grant (The Mount Lyell Mining and Railway Company Limited) Bill 1977, and it is my pleasure to indicate on behalf of the Australian Labor Party in the Senate that we support the proposition. We are about to give legislative authority to an agreement entered into between this Government and the State of Tasmania to provide financial assistance to the Mount Lyell Mining and Railway Company Limited, a very significant Tasmanian industrial organisation which has been in existence for the past 80 years and which virtually gives life to the whole of the western region of Tasmania. The terms of agreement are straightforward and, as I understand it, agreement has been reached on both sides of the Parliament to the passage of the Bill.
I understand that the Senate is to rise at 4.30 this afternoon. We have been actively engaged in the affairs of Parliament for a period of five straight weeks and we are about to become involved for a further week before we rise for the election. In view of the fact that there are implications in relation to this matter that I believe ought to be canvassed- I do not suggest that it is proper for me to take the whole of the time available this afternoon and not give my Tasmanian colleagues on the Government side an opportunity to speak- it seems to me that rather than launching into a debate at this late stage the Government might consider the suggestion that we rise now and initiate the debate when we return on Monday. It will be understood that it is difficult to open up a subject in about five minutes and then come back to it at a later time. I respectfully put that suggestion to the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Withers). I seek leave to continue my remarks.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Senate adjourned at 4.25 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for National Resources, upon notice, on 27 April 1977:
– The Minister for National Resources has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for National Resources, upon notice, on 17 August 1977:
Has the Minister, Government or members of his department studied the national energy strategies of other countries; (a) if so, which countries were studied and what influence did the energy policy of that particular country have on the formulation of Australia’s energy strategy; ( b) if not, why not, and will the Government undertake to review such strategies with the aim of formulating a national energy strategy for Australia.
– The Minister for National Resources has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
In making its energy policy decisions the Government has regard to the energy situation in and the energy strategy of all countries of relevance and interest to Australia. The necessary studies are carried out within my Department, in consultation where appropriate with other departments, and with that assistance of Australia ‘s representatives overseas.
The honourable senator can rest assured that all factors considered relevant to the development of Australia ‘s energy policy are receiving careful consideration from the Government.
See also my answer to question No. 1 1 80.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for National Resources, upon notice, on 17 August 1977:
-The Minister for National Resources had provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
I refer the honourable senator to my statements recorded in Hansard on 16 August 1977, pages 244-7, and on 24 August 1977, pages 658-9.
See also the answer to a question without notice in Senate Hansard, 3 June 1977, page 2098.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for National Resources, upon notice, on 1 9 August 1977:
– The Minister for National Resources has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
The OECD figures should not be applied to the current Australian situation without great caution. Price elasticities are unlikely to be the same for different countries with differing motor spirit prices, different commuting and recreational habits, and different standards of living.
asked the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, upon notice, on 5 October 1977:
– The Minister for Aboriginal Affairs has provided the following reply to the honourable senator’s question:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, upon notice, on 5 October 1977:
– The Minister for Aboriginal Affairs has provided the following reply to the honourable senator’s question:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, upon notice, on 6 October 1 977:
– The Minister for Aboriginal Affairs has provided the following reply to the honourable senator’s question:
(2 )Health 2, Education 1 7, Other 1 .
Wave Hill/Wattie Creek
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, upon notice, on 12 October 1977:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for National Resources, upon notice, on 13 October 1977:
-The Minister for National Resources had provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
Orange, Bathurst, Lithgow, and several other centres in order to enable A.G.L. to supply natural gas to those country cities and towns.
Following an announcement in 1975 by the New South Wales Government that the requirement for construction of the pipelines had been deferred, A.G.L. formally notified The Pipeline Authority that it did not require the Authority to proceed with construction and that the company would not accept responsibility for any further expenditure incurred on the project. I am informed that The Pipeline Authority remains ready to honour its agreement to proceed with the construction upon receipt of a request from A.G.L. to do so but has so far received no such request.
asked the Minister for Social Security, upon notice, on 1 November 1977:
What is the estimated cost for the year 1977-78 of raising the permissible income of unemployment, sickness and special beneficiaries to $20 a week before they suffer any loss of benefit.
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
It is not possible to prepare a cost estimate for increasing the level of permissible income for beneficiaries to $20 a week due to the lack of appropriate statistical data.
Australian Mineral Development Laboratories
-On 7 September 1977 Senator Jessop asked me, as Minister representing the Minister for National Resources, the following question without notice:
I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for National Resources. He will recall that last year I directed to him a question with respect to the future of AMDEL, the Australian Mineral Development Laboratories in South Australia, which since its inception, I think in the mid 1950s, has been supported jointly by the South Australian Government, the Commonwealth Government and private industry both financially and by the provision of work for that institution. The Minister indicated that some consideration was being given by the Commonwealth to this matter. Can he say whether the Cabinet has made a decision concerning Commonwealth funding for that establishment? If not, will he see that this matter is given urgent consideration.
The Minister for National Resources has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
As the honourable senator has indicated, the Commonwealth Government, the South Australian Government and the mineral industry through the Australian Mineral Industries Research Association (AMIRA) have jointly supported the Australian Mineral Development Laboratories (AMDEL) since their establishment. This support has been provided on the basis of minimum guarantees of work.
In the light of financial difficulties being experienced by AMDEL, the Commonwealth Government recently reviewed, in consultation with the other two sponsors, the basis of its support and has decided to increase the level of its minimum work guarantees from $120,000 to $500,000 per annum in each of the five years commencing 1 July 1 976. It is expected that, with increased support from the Commonwealth and from the other sponsors and with some necessary restructuring, AMDEL will be enabled to operate on a commercially viable basis by the end of this five year period, at which time the Commonwealth will withdraw from the work guarantee arrangements.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 4 November 1977, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1977/19771104_senate_30_s75/>.