31st Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Condor Laucke) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– I advise honourable senators that the security of Parliament House will be improved by procedures now being put into operation. A pass system is being introduced to control entry into the building and into the nonpublic areas. The public will continue to be admitted to King’s Hall, the lower floor display area and the public galleries of the chambers. No person other than a senator or member will be permitted to enter the remainder of the building, that is, the non-public areas, without a pass. Persons permanently employed in the building and others who need regularly to come to the building will be issued with photographic identity passes. Visitors granted entry to the non-public areas will be issued with day passes or temporary passes as the need arises. The pass system will not alter the existing freedom of movement, or the existing restrictions upon movement, within the building of persons permitted to enter the non-public areas. Passes are to be worn by the pass holders. When the pass system is in operation, all baggage coming into the building will be checked with the assistance of detection equipment. Senators and members will be asked to check their baggage if it has been out of their control.
Persons entering the public galleries of the chambers will pass through detection equipment similar to that now used at airports. Outside doors on the lower floor of the building other than the regular and manned points of entry are being deadlocked or fitted with alarm systems. The patrol of the building by the nightwatchmen is being upgraded and supplemented by an alarm system. The Commonwealth Police will increase surveillance on the exterior of the building. Existing security measures compatible with the above arrangements, such as the scrutiny of mail by detection machines, will be continued. An officer has been appointed to co-ordinate these activities throughout the building. It is hoped that all honourable senators and members will co-operate with us in the measures which are being taken.
Motion (by Senator Withers)- by leaveproposed:
Thatthe Senate take note of the statement.
– I move:
– I hope it is not to be taken that we acquiesce in what the President has put down.
– I moved that the Senate take note of the statement and the Leader of the Opposition moved that the debate be adjourned. I understand that he wishes to study the statement and consult his colleagues.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– A petition has been lodged for presentation as follows:
Nursing Home Accommodation in Sutherland Area
To the Honourable the President and Members of the Senate, in Parliament assembled. We, the undersigned citizens of the Commonwealth do humbly pray that the Commonwealth Government:
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray, by Senator Douglas McClelland.
– I ask the Minister for Administrative Services: Who directed the Australian Government Stores and Tender Board to request additional information concerning tenders for the Australian Bureau of Statistics computer contract? Why was it necessary for Mr Low, the Chairman of the Board, to send three separate letters to tenderers, each successively widening the specifications of the contract? Why was the additional information necessary, and did this request for additional information come only after receiving a letter from and having subsequent discussions with the Managing Director of IBM Australia Ltd, whose firm was an unsuccessful tenderer for the original contract?
-I wish that people would not talk about an unsuccessful tenderer in relation to this matter. Tenders had been called but no contract had been let. There may well have been a recommendation that the tender be let to a certain company, but that was never finalised. As the honourable senator would well know from the events that occurred, it was at that stage, when a recommendation had been made to the Government that a certain company ought to be given the contract, that a letter was received from IBM. That letter disclosed to the Prime Minister and his Ministers that a person who had sat on the interdepartmental committee that evaluated the tenders had, prior to the recommendation being finalised, left the Public Service and joined the company which appeared likely to be the successful tenderer.
As the honourable senator would also know, this matter was looked at by a group of permanent heads, who said that they could find no impropriety or improper procedures on the part of any of the public servants involved with the IDC which was evaluating the tenders. As a result of the representations that were made, and basically confined to that point, an instruction was issued that the tenders be re-evaluated by basically the same IDC, but with some additions. It was thought that that would be the proper way to deal with the complaint which had been made. However, the more the Government looked at this matter, the more it became convinced that the proper procedure was not to let the tender but to re-call tenders. Honourable senators may say that it is cosmetic, but the Government was determined that there would be no hint of any impropriety attached to the evaluation by the IDC of the four original tenders. To permit only the last four tenderers to tender would be unfair. There may be other people in the community who are interested in submitting a tender. It is a fairly large order, of a value somewhere between $ 1 7m and $20m.
The Government decided, for all of those reasons, that the proper way to proceed was not to finalise the tenders which had been submitted but to go back to the beginning and call for new tenders. The Government wants no hint of any suggestion that any company has been given an unfair advantage. It does not believe that that would have happened but wants no suggestion that one company was preferred over another, merely because one of the members of the IDC had left the Public Service and had joined what appeared to be becoming the successful tenderer. This course has been followed so that there will be no suspicion at all. It is terribly important, particularly in the Public Service area, that there should be no hint or suspicion of any practice that might be looked upon as favouring one tenderer over and above another.
– Is the Attorney-General aware that when senators book transport in Canberra after hours their telephone conversations are taped? Under whose authority is this permitted? What are the legal requirements applying to anyone wishing to tape the conversation of another person? Can the Attorney-General say whether this is a common practice in the Australian Capital Territory?
– I was not aware of any such practice until I received a note from Senator Jessop raising this matter for my consideration and informing me that he was going to ask me a question about it. The relevant Act which I administer is the Telephonic Communications (Interception) Act, which prohibits the interception of communications passing through the telephone system. However, the question is whether the interception is during or after the passage of the call through the system. For instance, if someone having lifted the telephone receiver simply records what is being said, I understand that that would be outside the ambit of the Act to which I have referred. However, I will make some inquiries into the method used by the taxi company. I will ask Senator Jessop to give me details of the matter and then have inquiries made.
– My question to the Minister representing the Minister for Finance follows from the question asked by Senator Gietzelt. In spite of the comforting answer given by the Leader of the Government in the Senate, something odd appears to be emerging about the computer contract. Is it a fact that, as reported this morning in the Melbourne Sun, in January there was a break in at the Bureau of Statistics in Canberra? Is it a fact that a filing cabinet was forced open? If so, what son of information did this cabinet contain? Specifically, did it contain any information relating to the $20m computer tender to provide for a replacement computer for the Bureau of Statistics and the Department of Trade and Resources? Was there any evidence that documents had been disturbed or removed? If this is the case, why has not this been revealed previously?
-Because of my involvement with the Commonwealth Police I have some information on that case. I am advised that there was a report to the Commonwealth Police on 25 January that a filing cabinet in the Bureau of Statistics had been jemmied open. The cabinet contained confidential and secret files relating to Bureau administration. There were no computer tender documents in the cabinet. The incident was investigated by the police but no suspects could be identified. There is nothing to suggest that the person responsible for the break in was interested in the papers on the computer reequipment rather than the other papers contained in the cabinet.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Industry and Commerce. I refer to the present state of the Australian car manufacturing industry and to the current price of Australian cars. In particular, I refer to the continued imposition of sales tax at a rate of 27 per cent on new non-commercial vehicles. Will the Government consider reducing the sales tax rate on new cars which are wholly manufactured in Australia in an attempt to increase the sales volume of Australian cars and to increase the whole market rather than to impose further burdens on imported cars in order to restrict their sales share of a nonincreasing market?
-The Minister for Industry and Commerce, whom I represent, was asked a question in relation to this matter in the other place the day before yesterday. On the same day Senator Wriedt asked me a question to which I obtained a general reply. In the general question asked of the Minister for Industry and Commerce there was a specific question concerning the lifting or alleviation of sales tax. The Minister made it quite clear that the Government did not see that as an option which it would take up to deal with any of the problems in the industry. The honourable senator asked whether sales tax could be lifted on Australian manufactured cars as against imported cars. I shall refer that question to the Minister but I would assume that the Government’s attitude as expressed by him to sales tax on motor cars generally would also cover that point.
– I preface my question, which is directed to the Minister for Education, by saying that whilst I appreciate that the Commonwealth has no constitutional power or formal responsibility regarding educational standards in the state school systems, does the Minister consider that he has any duty, as the Minister responsible for education in the whole country, to see that modern courses such as Man- A course of Study- MACOS- and the Social Education Materials Projects- SEMP- which are professionally designed for and relevant to all Australian schools are used in those schools? Secondly, what action does he propose to take to try to persuade the Queensland Government to reconsider its decision, apparently taken politically and not professionally, to drop those courses. Thirdly, in view of the Government’s oft repeated concern for community involvement and parent choice in education, what action will the Minister take to see that the parent organisations of all those Queensland schools which have sought to retain the MACOS program will not be denied freedom of choice in this matter?
– The answer to the first part of the question is yes, the Commonwealth Government considers that it has a collective responsibility for standards of education in Australia. It is part of the functions of the education commissions in their inquiry and recommending capacity to draw attention to quality and the uplifting of standards. It is the specific function of the Curriculum Development Centre to create curricula and materials of high standard and to offer them to all sections of the community throughout Australia including government schools, non-government schools, parents and educators. That, in fact, is happening.
– Not all the time. Some Curriculum Development Centre projects are not worth reading.
- Mr President, I think it is important to allow the interjection. This points up the fact that in any social science program or other program there will be valid differences of opinion between people as to whether a program is justified and is sustained on a series of levels, including the question of human values. In the case of social science it is a question of whether the program reflects honestly and accurately the norms of society. They are the tests. They are the fundamentals of the situation. As all honourable senators would know, what I have done with regard to SEMP has been this: Each member of this Parliament and members of the Press have been circularised with, I think, some comprehensive data on the nature of SEMP. There is a very representative display of SEMP in committee room No. 6. I invite those honourable senators and members who have not inspected the display to do so. If they have any queries, critical or otherwise, I ask them to give voice to those queries.
I must stress to Senator Button that, as he may know, in the formulation of these programs a wide range of educators, parents, churchmen and churchwomen and people throughout the whole of the community have been involved. For example, the program ‘The Family’ that was the subject of some controversy was in fact developed and supervised by the Headmasters’ Conference of New South Wales. Prominent educators such as the headmaster of Riverview were the final adjudicators of the program. Recently a sample of these programs was set up at the Catholic Education Office in Canberra. I think similar samples have been set up in other States. It is not for me to say that all is well and all is perfect. I have to expose to the public what we are doing and to have it tested for quality, honesty and accuracy in the sense of whether it is reflecting what a curriculum development centre should do. If it is not doing that, let us have the criticism. If it is, let us have a consumption of it by the various people. I think that elements of education in all States will purchase and use these programs.
I think the fundamental is that if we are to venture into this highly sensitive area of curricula development we should not thrust it on anybody in terms of value. It should have the widest public scrutiny. Above all, we should bear in mind that it is not the job of the teachers concerned to brainwash in any way. It is their job to present the facts in as honest and accurate a manner as they can. If the material is not doing the job we should say so, and we should expose it.
-I ask the Minister for Education a supplementary question. I thank him for his answer, but I now ask him, as I asked him originally: What action does he propose to take to persuade the Queensland Government to reconsider its decision on the MACOS program? What attitude does the Minister take to the denial in the State of Queensland of parent choice which has been publicly expressed in favour of the MACOS program?
– Any decision on a state education system is within the sovereignty of the State. The State concerned must make such a decision, whether it is a proper judgment or not. We can expose to public scrutiny throughout Australia the nature of the subject matter and have an evaluation by the public of Australia. If, after such an evaluation elements of the public wish to present a view to any State or to any section of the State- for example, if the nongovernment schools in Queensland wish to take up any or all of the programs they are eligible to do so- it is not for the Commonwealth to force its views upon anyone. That would be quite impertinent and presumptuous on our part, because to believe that our views are better than the views of the next people is to make the fatal judgment that we are all trying to avoid. What we want to do- I think Senator Button acknowledges this- is what I think he is seeking to do and what we are now doing, and that is to open up this matter to public scrutiny and public debate. In the end the true values will be reflected and a true judgment will be made. We are in fact the vendors of these programs. We should make the product so good that we get repeat sales of it.
– I ask the Minister for Education: Does his Department keep statistics on the number of university graduates who are unable to obtain employment in their chosen profession immediately after graduation? If so, can he in general terms indicate the faculties with high rates of graduates unable to find employment in their particular profession? If there are no such statistics, will the Minister have inquiries made at the various universities with a view to reviewing the intake in faculties where a significant number of graduates are unable to be employed in their profession after graduation?
– We do maintain such statistics throughout the education system of Australia. Last year and the year before I saw what were then up-to-date statistics indicating employment rates and the availability of employment for graduates of various faculties. In general terms, there was a relatively healthy sign then that unemployment amongst tertiarily educated people was significantly less than amongst other people.
– What jobs did they finally take?
– The most up-to-date figures are not available to me right at this instant. I shall seek those figures. When I obtain them I shall seek to make them available not only to the honourable senator but also to all interested honourable senators so that we can pursue further this highly significant issue.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Social Security and relates to the funding of projects under the Homeless Persons Assistance Act. The Minister will know of a submission to the Government from the Queensland Homeless Persons Advisory Committee seeking funding for a number of homeless persons projects for Aborigines. Will the Minister acknowledge that a small injection of funds in this area would benefit the program greatly and would also provide employment? Will she admit that the uncertainty brought about by her Government’s indecision on continued funding and its refusal to enter into a three-year commitment in this area is endangering the value of the program? Will she explain why there has been a delay in approving the funding sought by the Committee?
– It is a fact that the homeless persons assistance program is one of the programs of the Department for which I am responsible. Some of the other matters raised by Senator McAuliffe do not quite accurately state the present position with respect to that program. When the program was introduced it was a three-year program to provide assistance for homeless persons, mainly homeless persons in capital cities. Last year the Government extended that three-year period by a further year to enable us to continue the projects which had been approved, to evaluate the program and to make a determination with regard to its continuation or otherwise.
Funding for the program has included funding for approvals which are not yet completed. I am somewhat concerned that funds which have been set aside for approvals this year will not be used this year because, in at least one State which I can recall, the projects have not proceeded as early as was expected. Fairly substantial amounts have been allocated to these projects. During this year and in time for this year’s Budget, decisions will be made with regard to the future of the program. I certainly shall be putting forward a point of view that the program should be continued, that funds should continue to be provided under it to those organisations which are now receiving funds and that many worthwhile projects could be developed under the program in future years.
The question whether we should enter into a further three-year commitment is something which also can be decided this year. As honourable senators would know, we have three-year programs for assistance to handicapped persons, aged persons homes and things of that kind. I would agree that a period of, say, three years does give organisations time to plan and develop. The matter is under consideration for this year’s Budget.
– My question is addressed to the Minister Assisting the Prime Minister in Federal Affairs, who will be aware that talks have taken place between Ministers of the Government and the Northern Territory Executive regarding financial arrangements for the transfer of State-like responsibilities from the Commonwealth to the Northern Territory. The Majority Leader in the Northern Territory Legislative Assembly has stressed the necessity for the Commonwealth Grants Commission to participate in reviewing Northern Territory standards to bring them to parity with those of the larger States. However, critics claim that this will mean exorbitant taxes, double taxation and many commodities such as bread and milk being subject to price increases. Can the Minister inform the Senate of the correct position?
– When the Commonwealth set about its fine policy of giving selfgovernment to the Northern Territory it indicated to the Northern Territory and its Legislative Assembly that the Commonwealth’s aim was that the relationship between finance and functions should develop along the same lines as now appertain under federalism arrangements between the Commonwealth and the six existing States. This means, amongst other things, that the less populous States and the States which have disabilities by comparison with the two more developed States, Victoria and New South Wales are receiving from the Grants Commission a relativities addition to their funding so that their standards can be maintained at a rate comparable with those in Victoria and New South Wales. This can be done without those States resorting to a form of taxation higher than that existing in the other States. That is the very essence of the contract between the Commonwealth and the six existing States and it is inherent in the principle that we now offer to the Northern Territory.
Those who say that any move towards selfgovernment will lead to double taxation and the putting up of all sorts of charges have had the lie given to their claim in recent years when the same argument has been levelled at what would happen under the federalism policy. The reverse to what was predicted has happened. Critics in the Northern Territory should understand that what has happened in the past two years in contrast with the years before is that under the federalism policy of maintaining relativity among the States, all States and the Commonwealth have been able to cut taxes and charges. This achievement should be contrasted with what happens under a centralist system. I am not able to say as yet what will be the final role of the Commonwealth Grants Commission with regard to the Northern Territory. Suffice to say that that it is under close study at the moment. I remind Senator Kilgariff that yesterday in response to a question asked, I think, by Senator Robertson I pointed out that the matter would be one which if pursued would require an amendment of the Commonwealth Grants Commission Act. This is heavily in our minds at the moment. We are aware that we must establish a form of relativities in parallel with the States. We will be looking for the practical instrument by which to bring that about.
-I ask the Minister for Social Security: Is she aware of a story appearing in the Sydney Press today that there has been a sickness benefit racket which has led to the fraudulent misappropriation of $30m from her Department and that invalid pensions have been sold for some $2,000? The report linked these matters with the murder of a Sydney woman recently. Is there any factual basis for this story? If so, how are investigations proceeding?
– I have not seen the story describing all the matters mentioned by the honourable senator, although earlier today I had contact with Sydney Press representatives which led me to believe that a story of that kind would be printed. At this stage I can only say that instances of fraudulent medical certificates have been revealed by departmental investigations and over recent months officers of my Department and the Commonwealth Police have been conducting a major joint investigation of abuses of the Social Services Act relating to fraudulent medical certificates. As I have said, the matter is in the hands of the Commonwealth Police. It is perhaps not appropriate for me to give further details at this stage as it might hinder continuing investigations by the police. But I am prepared to say that this matter is regarded as a substantial abuse of the Act. We were grateful for the cooperation of the Press at an earlier stage of the investigations to enable the Commonwealth Police to take further steps in establishing the abuse and, hopefully, to lay charges and ultimately to obtain convictions. At this stage I am unable to give any further details. I say only that investigations are continuing.
– My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs. In view of the recent spectacular successes of the Australian Narcotics Bureau and the appointment of 50 new narcotics investigation officers, will the Minister consider lifting the overtime limitations which apply to present officers with the object of further increasing the effectiveness of the Bureau?
– I shall refer that question to the Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs and seek to obtain an early answer from him.
– My question also is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs. Has the Government this week made a decision as to the future of the Mount Lyell Mining and Railway Co. Ltd, upon the operations of which on the west coast of Tasmania a lot of people depend? If so, will the Minister give the Senate details of that decision?
– I am not aware of whether a decision has been made in relation to this matter. I know the matter is certainly under consideration. When any decision is made by the Government no doubt it will be announced promptly by the Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs. I shall draw the attention of the Minister to the question and endeavour to ascertain how soon he will be in a position to make any announcement.
– My question is addressed to the Attorney-General. I refer to the Criminal Investigation Bill of 1977 which was a Bill to implement the report of the Australian Law Reform Commission and which, as the AttorneyGeneral knows, was the subject of considerable representations by a wide cross-section of opinion and subsequent investigation and recommendations by the Law and Government Committee of the Government parties. I ask: Has the Government considered the detailed recommendations of that Committee? When can the Senate expect the reintroduction of the Criminal Investigation Bill in the Parliament?
– As Senator Missen says, the Criminal Investigation Bill which was introduced into the Parliament last year by my predecessor has been the subject of an enormous amount of comment and representations to the Government. The Law and Government Committee of the Government parties has also given very detailed consideration to it. There is an enormous amount of material in my Department and, I suppose, on my desk in relation to this Bill. Consideration is certainly being given and will be given to it. But in view of the volume of comment on the Bill and because a number of other Bills introduced last year by my predecessor also have been the subject of a great deal of commentI refer to the freedom of information legislation and the Human Rights Commission Bill- it has not been possible to process the legislation to the stage where I am in a position to make to the Government any further recommendations in regard to the legislation. The officers of my Department who are concerned with this Bill have been particularly concerned with the implementation of the Government’s decisions in relation to Mr Justice Hope’s report on security. As the Senate will be aware from the Governor-General’s Speech, the Government has given high priority to that area, as well as to the re-introduction of the Human Rights Commission Bill. I regret that it has not been possible to give the same priority to consideration of the Criminal Investigation Bill, but I can assure the Senate that the matter has not been and will not be overlooked. I hope to be in a position to make some recommendations to the Government in the near future.
– Will the Minister representing the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs inform the Parliament of the number and locality of Aboriginal communities in Australia where Community Development Employment Projects have been introduced? How many Aborigines currently are employed under the scheme and what is the average weekly wage of those employed?
– I am not aware of the up-to-date figures. I recall mentioning last year some facts relating to the scheme. I will obtain up-to-date figures on the number of communities and the average weekly wage received, and advise the honourable senator.
– I preface my question to the Minister representing the Minister for Post and Telecommunicatons by noting that the recent review of the first year of operation of the Community Youth Support Scheme has shown that the young unemployed people involved do benefit from it. However, the problem is the difficulty in reaching the long-term unemployed. Social workers report that the young unemployed tend to rise late and then watch copious amounts of daytime television. Will the Department investigate an imaginative television advertisement for national daytime screening which would reach the young housebound unemployed and point out to them the benefits on offer under the Community Youth Support Scheme?
– The Community Youth Support Scheme, which is the responsibility of my colleague the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations, has been a successful and imaginative scheme. Whilst it has had inevitable failures, it has had a very wide measure of success. As Senator Walters said, its aim is to help young people. It ought to be considered also in conjunction with other schemes, including the Education Program for Unemployed Youth. The aim of the Government is to bring to the attention of all unemployed youth the ways in which, through various schemes, particularly educational schemes, they can lift their qualifications and therefore make themselves more readily employable.
– You should start in the schools.
– I am grateful for Senator Harradine ‘s interjection because, quite seriously, one of the reasons why I recommended to the Government that EPUY should be established was not simply to find a scheme that was remedial or palliative in itself but was to reveal the defects in the community, the home or the school on the journey through to post-school life. So the interjection was a valuable one indeed and raised a matter that we have constantly in our minds. It is not to be thought that the education system in Australia is or should be defensive about its own role. Indeed, EPUY has revealed that in terms of basic skills, attitudes, and low self-esteem a considerable amount needs to be done. I take note of Senator Walters’ suggestion that my colleague the Minister for Post and Telecommunications might look to suitable media communication with these young people. I will draw the matter to his attention and seek his response.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Construction whether the Government envisages moving the central office of the Department of Construction from Melbourne to Canberra. If so, would that mean that all the divisions now established in Melbourne, such as those of architecture, engineering and management, would be reestablished in Canberra? If these moves are to be made, is a regional office to be established in Melbourne, and what will be its function?
-My understanding is that there is a proposal that the head office of the Department of Construction be moved to Canberra. As to whether there would be a regional office established in Melbourne I am unable to say. Melbourne has been the base for the Department under its various names of Works, and Construction, over many, many years. Indeed, as the honourable senator knows it has very fine headquarters in Hawthorn, Victoria. I would imagine that it would be necessary to have an establishment in Victoria. I am unaware whether that was proposed in the original announcement, but will seek information on it and convey it to the honourable senator.
– I ask the Minister representing the Treasurer: What progress has been made in the preparation of a survey, in cooperation with the Australian Council for Rehabilitation of the Disabled, that is planned to give reliable figures about numbers of disabled people in our population and about particular disability groups? Is it a fact that questions contained in the census give only general information and that a follow-on survey has been planned? When will the survey be carried out, and when should results be available?
– Some time ago Senator Baume indicated his interest in this matter. I therefore do have some information which will be of interest to him and to all honourable senators. It is that information relating to people in the Australian community who suffer from chronic illnesses, injuries or impairments was collected and published by the Australian Bureau of Statistics from surveys conducted in 1968 and 1974. In the 1976 census of population and housing, a question was included seeking information about persons who were handicapped by a serious long-term illness or physical or mental condition. Specifically, such people were asked to indicate whether they were handicapped in education, getting or holding a job, getting about alone, doing housework, sporting and recreational activities, acts of daily living- such as dressing and bathing- or in any other way. The inclusion of this question was supported by the Australian Council for Rehabilitation of Disabled and other organisations concerned with the welfare of disabled people. These census results are expected to become progressively available from late in 1978. No in-depth surveys as direct follow-up surveys to the 1976 census of population and housing were undertaken or are planned.
However, an Australian health survey was developed and is currently being undertaken by the Australian Bureau of Statistics. Interviewing commenced in July 1977 and will continue until June 1978. Interviews will be conducted in some 15,000 dwellings. Information being collected includes the number and characteristics of persons suffering from both chronic and acute illness, disabilities suffered and utilisation of health services. The information that I have is somewhat lengthy and if I may, I will forward the remainder of it to the honourable senator.
– My question to Senator Withers is supplementary to earlier questions that were asked about the computer contract. Is it not a fact that the Prime Minister, when he wrote to IBM in January, indicated to that company that tenders would close on 13 February and that he invited IBM to vary its original tender if it so desired? Is it not a fact that the closure date was brought forward four days to 9 February, the day on which, or immediately after which, IBM submitted an additional tender? Had Facom by that date had an opportunity to make, or had it in fact made, a new tender to the Department?
-I think the answer to the first question is yes. As to the other two, I do not have information immediately available. I will obtain it and send it to the honourable senator.
– My question to the Minister for Education concerns the reference in the Speech of the Governor-General, which I mentioned last night, to the provision of further assistance for the education of children in isolated areas. Is the Minister aware that in the report of the Senate Standing Committee on Education and the Arts on the subject there are a number of recommendations calling for assistance in several areas? Can the Minister indicate the areas so mentioned to which assistance might be given and whether there are any plans for implementation of the provision referred to in the Speech of the Governor-General?
– Pursuant to its announcement, the Government at present is undertaking a further survey in the areas of both isolated children and handicapped children, which are often overlapping in their implications. Detailed discussions on both subjects are taking place with the States and with various organisations at this moment; they have not concluded. I am not in a position to indicate the specific details of programs that will evolve. I can indicate to Senator Davidson that we are very conscious of the report of the Senate Standing Committee on Education and the Arts and the work that was done on isolated children. The government will be happy to study that report further and, if the honourable senator or his Committee has any further suggestions to make in this regard, they will be readily considered.
-Can the Minister for Education advise whether a meeting of the Australian Education Council was held recently in New Zealand? If so, did the Minister attend the meeting? Can he advise whether New Zealand is a member of the Australian Education Council? If it is not, can he explain why the Council met in New Zealand?
-It is a fact that earlier this year a meeting of the Australian Education Council was held in New Zealand and that I, as the Commonwealth Minister for Education, attended that meeting. The six State Ministers of Education, the Commonwealth Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and the appropriate representative from the Northern Territory Legislative Assembly also attended. For the past two years, in eager response to our invitation the New Zealand Government has sent its Minister for Education and its Director-General or Assistant Director-General to all the meetings of the Australian Education Council in Australia. We have found these meetings to be very valuable and the exchange of information to be extremely useful to us all. I do not think any honourable senator would doubt the desirability of our taking an Australasian viewpoint on this subject.
Due to the intervention of the election it was necessary to postpone the meeting of the Australian Education Council which was to have been held in November in Canberra under my chairmanship. At the same time, the New Zealand Government issued an invitation to the Australian Education Council members to come to New Zealand in early 1978 to take part with the New Zealand Government in a commemoration of 100 years of national education in New Zealand and. following that, to spend some four days investigating in detail New Zealand ‘s education systems so that there could be a complete interplay between the two countries. The invitation stated that New Zealand would host that segment. The Commonwealth Government and the six State governments readily agreed that it would be logical to combine the two meetings; to have the Australian Education Council meeting first, followed by the New Zealand Government’s meeting. This was done over a period of 8 days. I say to the honourable senator, on the question of the cost incurred, that the cost of sending representatives of the Commonwealth, the six States and the Northern Territory to a meeting in Auckland and Wellington is no greater than the cost of sending them to Perth, Darwin or anywhere else in Australia. This was one of the most productive meetings of the Australian Education Council that I have attended.
– Is the Minister for Science aware of the operation of a subsidy system in the United States of America which provides a financial inducement for private individuals to install approved solar heating devices for approved purposes as a means of encouraging energy conservation? Does the Minister see such a scheme as providing worthwhile benefits in Australia? If so, will he pursue the matter with the Treasurer?
-There are various schemes throughout the world to encourage individuals to use solar systems within their homes. Whilst I am not fully aware of the scheme that the honourable senator suggests may be used in the United States, there certainly has been discussion in this country on whether encouragement should be given by way of assistance with the capital cost of installing solar heating and cooling systems for domestic use and whether there could be greater industrial usage of some solar heating and cooling systems. The question whether there should be financial encouragement for the use of this type of system has come under discussion. I have not been involved in the discussions as it is not part of my portfolio responsibility. There is a considerable problem in attempting to persuade bodies which at present are producing alternative energy sources. For instance, bodies which produce electricity would be reluctant to agree to a reduction in their charges because an electric unit which has been installed is supplemented by a device using solar energy. There is good argument on both sides and one can well see that the feasibility of supplying electricity to some homes in country areas may be questionable if the incidence of solar heating systems in this country were to become very great. The matter appears to be a paradox, but that is the situation. Consideration of an allowance by way of tax deductibility for the installation cost of solar heating items is a suggestion that could be put to the Treasury. So far as I am aware the matter has not been raised with the Treasury. I will convey the honourable senator’s question to the appropriate quarters.
– My question to the Minister representing the Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs or to the Minister representing the Minister for Transport follows a question about the entry into northern Australia over recent months of unidentified aircraft. The Ministers will be aware that in the last month there have been another two reported sightings of aircraft which were not finally identified. A party of Customs officials went to the western part of Australia, to Broome I think, to check on one alleged sighting. I refer particularly to a statement made in Darwin on about 15 February and reported in the Press on 1 6 February. A transport official in Darwin was reported as having said: We are getting reported sightings of unauthorised aircraft flying into the region every morning and night’. Despite what the Minister for Defence has said about the expense and the economics of increasing surveillance in the area, what can the Senate be told about activities at present? Have searches for unidentified aircraft been successful? Has the relevant Department information which reveals that our surveillance is fairly satisfactory? If not, will the Ministers attempt to obtain a statement which can be made to the Parliament about these serious matters?
-Senator Bishop will know quite well that the massive coastline of Australia, particularly in the north, and the existence of possibly 800 or 900 airstrips in the north of Australia which were built for wartime and peaceful uses makes it very difficult indeed to achieve total surveillance. Nevertheless, the honourable senator’s question is deadly serious. The smuggling of drugs into this country is a lethal, horrible and monstrous practice which we cannot tolerate. My instructions are that steps are being taken towards increasing surveillance of various kinds and the pursuit of various pieces of information. I am not aware of the specific report of the alleged statement of the transport officer. I shall follow it up. The important thing is that I shall ask my colleague, the Minister in another place, to provide whatever unclassified information he can make available. The honourable senator would appreciate that obviously certain pursuit and surveillance methods are necessarily confidential in order to ensure their success. I shall take the question seriously and obtain the information sought.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Health. Because Australia has the unenviable record of the highest incidence of skin cancer in the world, will the Minister advise what action has been taken to reduce or remove the 21Vi per cent sales tax on sun screen lotions? I am particularly concerned that products which contain para-amonibenzoic acid, which it has been proved effectively screens the sun’s rays and therefore prevents skin cancers, are subjected to the same tax as are all sun tanning lotions which do not have any preventive ingredients. Has the Minister made representations to the Treasurer to have the sales tax substantially reduced or even removed? If not, will the Minister make such representations so that people whose skin is susceptible can afford to take preventive action against skin cancer?
– I am not aware whether the Minister for Health has made representations to the Treasurer. This matter was the subject of comment a short time ago. As a consequence, he may have taken such action. If not, I shall draw his attention to the honourable senator’s question to see whether any information is available for her.
– Is the Minister for Administrative Services, bearing in mind the touchingalthough I am sure genuine- concern he expressed yesterday for both the looming energy crisis and the state of the taxpayer’s pocket, aware that Australian Design Rule 27a relating to motor vehicle emission control has had a damaging effect on both these areas far outweighing its environmental value? Is he prepared to take the logical step of recommending to his colleagues that the requirements under ADR 27a be scrapped by the Government forthwith?
– This matter resides in the area of responsibility of my colleague, the Minister for Transport. Therefore, I ought not to intrude into his area. Bitter comments have been made by my electors in Western Australia about why they should have not only to use more energy but also to pay the extra expense of having these devices fitted to their motor cars for the advantage of a small number of people in Sydney and Melbourne.
– Oh, no!
-Oh, yes. I am asked quite often why somebody driving from Marble Bar to Port Hedland needs one of these devices. I do not know whom they are protecting. Perhaps it is the blue-pawed wallaby. I have had a large number of representations from people in my own State who fail to see why people in the western third of this continent- the best third of this continent- should have imposed upon them these controls which give them no benefit. I will certainly take up the honourable senator’s suggestions with my colleague, the Minister for Transport, and inform him of her views.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Adminstrative Services concerning the marathon negotiations which have taken place between the Australian Government and the New South Wales Government on the long delayed transfer to the New South Wales Government of Commonwealth land on the Sydney Harbour foreshores. The matter has been hammered effectively by the dynamic New South Wales Minister for Lands, Mr Crabtree. What stage have the negotiations reached?
– The matter is coming to finality. As in so many of these things, money intrudes its ugly head. But I have great hopes that this matter will shortly come to finality.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs. I refer to several questions I asked last year concerning the application for permanent residence by Timorese leader, Mr Chris Santos, and his family? I ask: Is the Minister aware of the considerable hardship caused to Mr Santos and his family by this inordinate delay? Will the Minister give the Senate an assurance that the application by Mr Santos will be treated with more urgency? Will Mr Santos and his family be granted permanent residence?
– I will refer the matter to the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs and ask that attention be given to the question asked by Senator Primmer.
– I direct my question to the Minister representing the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs. Following a recent visit to New Zealand the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs announced that he had invited the New Zealand Minister for Maori Affairs to ‘see at first hand the programs we are developing for Aboriginal people under our policy of self-sufficiency and self-government’. Can the Minister advise whether the invitation has been accepted? If so, when will it take place, and which Aboriginal communities will be visited?
-I will inquire whether the invitation has been accepted. I certainly expect that some of the communities represented by Senator Robertson would be ideal communities to be visited by the New Zealand Minister. I am unaware of any facts regarding the proposed visit, but I will ensure that the honourable senator is advised about the details of the visit.
– I ask a question of the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs. Would the use of a private plane to bring to Australia a person who had been refused a visa to enter the country be a breach of the immigration laws? Would the owner of the plane, the person who chartered the plane or the pilot of the plane be in breach of the law?
– I will have that question investigated by those who are responsible for policing illegal entry to Australia, and I will have the honourable senator advised of the results.
-My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry. Did the Minister for Primary Industry at a National Press Club luncheon yesterday state amongst other matters that better access for Australian beef to the Japanese market seemed likely, provided
Australia agreed to Japanese access to Australian territorial waters for fishing purposes when the 200-mile limit was declared? Is the Minister aware that whereas the beef industry is in a depressed condition because of the inadequacy of export markets, the Australian fishing industry is very much in the doldrums because of the heavy imports of fish by Australia? Will the Government undertake that in seeking to expand market opportunities for Australian beef producers it will not create further difficulties for Australian fishermen, particularly fishermen from New South Wales, by using their rights to fish in Australian waters as a trade-off arrangement?
– I acknowledge the interest of the honourable senator in this matter. I read with some interest the address of the Minister for Primary Industry to the National Press Club, but I did not put on the words that I read the interpretation that the honourable senator suggests. I may have missed some point, but I did not read into the Minister’s words the suggestion that there would be some trade-off between beef interests and the fishing industry. The honourable senator has raised some interesting questions relating to the fishing industry in Australia. His comment about Australian fishing interests being in the doldrums perhaps could be interpreted to mean that there is a great deal to be done by the Australian authorities if we are to take advantage of the opportunities that we will have when a 200-mile fishing limit around the coast of Australia is declared. Certainly research authorities, including the Australian fishing industry, State government fishing authorities and naturally the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, are attempting to boost interest in this area quite considerably.
The questions which have been raised in the Senate during the past week by honourable senators on both sides of this chamber have indicated the interest that is being taken in what has become known as ‘feasibility fishing’. Perhaps State governments and the Federal Government can enter into some agreements and ascertain what catches might be available in Australian waters. Whether negotiations for a boosting of the Australian fishing industry should take place or whether there should be joint operations with overseas countries are matters for consideration in the future. The matter raised by Senator Douglas McClelland is quite important. I shall refer it to the Minister for Primary Industry.
– Last Thursday evening during the debate on the motion for the adjournment of the Senate, Senator McLaren asked me a question about the reception held to mark the opening of Parliament. In particular, he sought an explanation as to why normal cafeteria services were not available to the staff on that evening. From inquiries made I am satisfied that the arrangements for this function contemplated that the staff cafeteria would remain open for the full range of services until 8 p.m. Due to a misunderstanding, althought the cafeteria stayed open, no hot meal was available. The omission to prepare a hot meal was not discovered until late in the afternoon, but unfortunately it was then too late for the situation to be rectified. The staff of the refreshment rooms did their best in the circumstances. It is regretted that the service did not extend to the full range of hot dishes which are normally available. The honourable senator may be assured that a hot meal will be available on such occasions in the future.
– by leave- On Tuesday last Senator Wriedt asked me the following question:
In view of the substantial losses incurred recently by two American-owned motor vehicle manufacturers, General Motors-Holden’s Ltd and Chrysler Australia Ltd, does the Government propose to review the construction and operation of the Australian motor vehicle manufacturing industry or provide additional short term assistance to the industry?
Earlier today I answered a question relating to assisting the industry by way of sales tax adjustments. In relation to the general question asked by Senator Wriedt, the Ministers whom I represent- the Minister for Industry and Commerce and the Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs- have provided me with the following answer: Although the vehicle market has been somewhat flat in the early weeks of this year, the outlook for 1978 is generally better than it was for 1977. The continuing decline in the rate of inflation and in costs generally, combined with a stimulus to consumption spending flowing from the tax reductions of 1 February, should create a more favourable situation. The prospect is for some expansion in the market in the second half of 1977-78. The Government notes that both companies which recently announced trading losses have expressed confident expectations as to their performance in 1978 and have reaffirmed their substantial investment plans. Whilst the Government would be concerned if the viability of any of the motor vehicle manufacturers were at significant risk, the Government does not see its role as guarantor of the survival of individual companies. Nevertheless, the Government has all sectors of the motor vehicle industry under close scrutiny.
The following action has been taken recently by the Government: Passenger motor vehicle policy involves an 85 per cent local content plan and an 80:20 market sharing arrangement which is designed to ensure that about 80 per cent of the passenger vehicle market is supplied from local production. This 80 per cent policy was in breach in June 1977, so import quotas were introduced for six months. Following the Industries Assistance Commission report in October 1977 the Government decided that quotas should continue until the end of 1979. The future of import quotas and of the 80:20 policy will be reviewed during 1979. A further quota allocation was announced on 23 February 1978 by the Minister for Industry and Commerce, but at this time the Government has withheld final allocation of quotas for passenger motor vehicles for 1978 as present industry estimates suggest that the 1978 market might not reach 470,000 vehicles, the level forecast when the quota of 94,000 vehicles was set last year. The Government will be keeping the overall market position under review and decisions on future quota allocations will be made as soon as the outlook is clearer.
Heavy commercial motor vehicles, over 2.72 tonnes, are the subject of an IAC report which is being considered and a decision on policy is about to be taken once the views of industry on a number of policy options are known. Light commercial vehicles, under 2.72 tonnes or 4 wheel drive vehicles, are the subject of a referral to the IAC made on 24 February by the Government. There are many complex arguments for and against increased protection of light commercial vehicles and the Government will consider these after it has received the IAC’s report which is due by 25 April 1978.
– For the information of honourable senators I present the report of the Australian delegation to the Third United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea, sixth session, held in New York between 23 May to 15 July 1977.
-by leave- I move:
I seek leave to continue my remarks.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
– For the information of honourable senators I present a report by the Bureau of Transport Economics entitled ‘Cost Recovery in Australian Transport 1 974-75 ‘.
-by leave- I move:
I seek leave to continue my remarks.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Senator GUILFOYLE (Victoria-Minister for
Social Security)- Pursuant to section 34 of the Services Trust Fund Act 1947 I present the annual reports of the Royal Australian Air Force Welfare Trust Fund, the Australian Military Forces Relief Trust Fund and the Royal Australian Navy Relief Trust Fund for the calendar year 1976, together with financial statements and the report of the Auditor-General on those statements.
– Pursuant to section 17 of the Meat Research Act 1960 I present the annual report of the Australian Meat Research Committee 1976-77.
– by leave- I move:
I seek leave to continue my remarks.
Leave granted; debate 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 Carrick) read a first time.
– I move:
I seek leave to have the text of the second reading speech incorporated in Hansard.
The speech read as follows-
The main purpose of this Bill is to provide the legislative framework within which the Commonwealth will be enabled to make agreements with the States on financial assistance for water resource projects. Projects selected under the Government’s $200m national water resources program will be authorised by such agreements. It has been the practice for assistance to the States to be authorised by specific purpose Acts. However, the Government is of the view that standing legislation of this nature is more appropriate to the requirements of a long-term program. Moreover, it will reduce the legislative load in the Parliament without in any way restricting the flow of information or reducing the opportunities for debate. A copy of every agreement with a State must be tabled in the Parliament. In addition, the Parliament will need to consider separately the appropriation of funds for the purpose of the agreements.
Turning to the provisions of the Bill, section 3 defines the range of projects for which assistance will be available to the States. It encompasses all aspects of water resources management for which Commonwealth assistance would be appropriate- conservation and distribution works, water quality management, desalinisation of agricultural land, flood mitigation and floodplain management, and studies or investigations relating to all aspects of the assessment and utilisation of Australia ‘s water resources.
Section 7 includes an appropriation in this financial year out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund of $2. 5m to meet existing commitments to the States for the following water resource development projects: $lm to New South Wales for flood mitigation works on the coastal rivers and $1.5m to Queensland to enable completion of the Gin Gin channel in the Bundaberg irrigation project.
I should point out that the Commonwealth has provided $17m since 1964-65 in grant funds to New South Wales for flood mitigation works on its coastal rivers, generally on a 2:2:1 funding basis- Commonwealth, State and local government authorities respectively. The Commonwealth has always accepted a contingent commitment in respect of flooding disasters, and this particular program has without any doubt considerably reduced the destructive effects of these recurrent natural hazards. It has also contributed significantly to the security of life in flood-prone areas.
The Commonwealth first became involved with Queensland in the Bundaberg irrigation project in 1970 with the provision of a grant of $12. 8m for Monduran Dam, Gin Gin channel and the main pumping station linking the dam through Gin Gin channel to the Burnett River. A further grant of $4.4m was provided in 1 974 to cover cost increases for these works. The current grant, on a dollar for dollar basis with the State, will enable the works with which the Commonwealth has been associated to be completed in this financial year and will enable the water now stored in Monduran Dam to be utilised more effectively.
The administrative arrangements for implementing the national water resources program have been established and the States have been invited to submit their priorities for Commonwealth assistance under the program. The Bill before the Senate is a step in this process, and the continuing nature of the proposed Act lends itself eminently to sustained initiatives by the Commonwealth to ensure the most effective development and utilisation of Australia’s water resources.
I commend the Bill to the Senate.
Debate (on motion by Senator Georges) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 28 February on motion by Senator Durack:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– I think it was to be suggested by the Attorney-General (Senator Durack) that the Australian Capital Territory Supreme Court Amendment Bill and the Northern Territory Supreme Court Amendment Bill be dealt with cognately. Is that correct?
– Yes, I think that would be a good idea.
-I indicate that the Opposition does not oppose either of these Bills. The position regarding the attitude taken by judges of the courts of the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory is set out very fairly in the second reading speech of the AttorneyGeneral. He points out that because of the difference between the position adopted by the Australian Labor Party Government and that adopted by the present Government the judges sought to be absolved from the responsibility of fixing court fees. This, of course, subsequently became the purpose of this legislation. We congratulate the Government’s acceptance of political responsibility for imposing these fees. The Opposition’s position in relation to court fees remains the same.
We believe it is an important social task to make the courts of this country, and in particular of the Territories, more accessible to people. We consider that the amount of revenue obtained from court fees is insignificant in terms of total revenue. Of course, the fees are not insignificant to many litigants involved in court proceedings. From the point of view of social justice, equity and the capacity of citizens, whatever their economic circumstances, to seek redress in the courts, in general we are opposed to the imposition of court fees and, more specifically, to the reintroduction of court fees through legislation of the Parliament. I make the position of the Opposition quite clear in relation to court fees. The Government having decided that there should be court fees, we approve the method by which this legislation seeks to set the scale of those fees.
– in reply- I thank the Opposition for the support it has given these measures. Senator Button has recognised that the matter seems to have become a political issue. Judges should not be involved in fixing court fees. Of course, that is the purpose of the legislation. The decision that court fees should be imposed was part of the Government’s Budget considerations last year. In a sense these are Budget Bills. The Government does not accept the arguments which Senator Button has advanced. We believe that people’s inability to meet court fees is a matter to be taken into account when looking at legal aid generally. Court fees are usually a very minute proportion of the total cost of litigation. If people are within the guidelines for legal aid eligibility, court fees are not charged. In our view it is proper that those litigants who can afford it should make some payment towards the general cost of the administration of justice.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
– Following on the reply of the Attorney-General (Senator Durack) to the second reading debate, do I understand him to be suggesting that, in conjunction with this legislation, the Government is foreshadowing some change in its current legal aid arrangements?
– No, I was not saying that. The fees that have been paid to the Family Court are not paid by those who get legal aid in that Court. I assume that that principle would apply, or at least that the fees charged would be met from legal aid funds if persons were entitled to receive legal aid. That is the principle we have adopted in the Family Court area, and I should imagine it would apply generally.
– If I might have that clarified: I am not clear whether it is a principle or an assumption. Both expressions have been used by the AttorneyGeneral and I should like to be clear what the answer is. Is it a principle or an assumption that fees will not be charged where legal aid applies?
– Perhaps I had better put it no higher than an assumption at the moment. As far as I know, the matter has not come up for decision by the Government.
-May I refer to the terms of clause 4 of the Bill, which introduces proposed new section 29(a). The particular terms of this paragraph have been pointed out to me by a colleague who is not present in the chamber and I shall take up the point for explanation. First of all, the paragraph refers to prescribing fees. In this connection. I recognise ‘fees’ as being equivalent to charges for court services, but the paragraph goes on:
I do not find in my own mind as very apt to the payment of the ordinary fees the expression other payments to be paid to officers’. That would seem to indicate that we are going back to the time of Francis Bacon when officers made their Jiving out of the fees they charged litigants in the courts. I am sure that nothing could be further from the mind of the Parliament. What is the reason for expression ‘ fees or other payments to be paid to officers of the court’? I should have thought that fees were paid to the court.
– I thank Senator Wright for raising this matter. In fact Senator Rae raised it with me, and presumably it was Senator Rae to whom Senator Wright referred. I took up the matter with both the First Parliamentary Counsel and the Second Parliamentary
Counsel, who drafted the proposed section, and in their opinion these words are the proper words to be used to achieve our purpose. The wording cannot refer to fees being paid to the court because the court is the judges of the court and is administered by its officers. The regulations will spell out to whom the fees are to be paid, and fees that are in the nature of Court fees, as lawyers refer to them, will be payable to the registrar of the court on behalf of the court. Other fees, of course, may well be paid to officers who may be personally entitled to them. For example, in execution of warrants bailiffs sometimes are personally entitled to the fees. The actual detail of the fees will be dealt with in the regulations. The reason why the word ‘officers’ appears is that the Parliamentary Counsel has carefully considered the matter and, in his opinion, this is the apt way to provide for the payment of fees.
Bill agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill (on motion by Senator Durack) read a third time.
Consideration resumed from 28 February, on motion by Senator Durack:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Debate resumed from 28 February, on motion by Senator Durack:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
. The Opposition does not oppose the Bill, and I do not propose to explain at length the situation which the legislation is designed to remedy or improve. That has been fully dealt with in the second reading speech of the Attorney-General (Senator Durack). There are, however, some amendments which the Opposition will suggest at the Committee stage. They are not proposed, I might add, in any spirit of hostility to the purposes of the legislation, or the principles contained therein, but merely because in our view they constitute improvements which it would be desirable that the Senate adopt. Otherwise, as I have indicated, we do not oppose the Bill, regarding it as basically sound and necessary legislation. We support the second reading on that basis.
– I accept the principle of the Bill but express my disappointment that the measure, emanating as it does from recommendations of the Law Reform Commission of the Commonwealth, should adopt a particular State Bill- a New South Wales Bill- as its precedent. This is a field in which I should have thought that uniformity both as between States and between States and Commonwealth could reasonably, by a little effort on the part of the Law Reform Commission, be achieved. It is most undesirable that the federal courts sitting in the several States should adopt a body of rules for evidence that is different from those of the State courts. I think it is a great pity, and unless the activities of the law reform commissions of the States and Commonwealth are co-ordinated they will lose much of their utility. This is a field in which I should have thought it was obvious that the Law Reform Commission has a special function, that of obtaining unity in the rules of evidence between federal and State courts, as well as between States. In many cases interstate transactions are involved, and uniformity in this area should be easily achievable.
– in reply- I thank the Opposition for its support of the Bill. I shall, of course, deal at a later stage with the amendments which have just been circulated and which I have not had an opportunity to consider. The purpose of the Bill is to obtain uniformity in all federal courts, particularly in the Federal Court of Australia, in relation to the admissibility of evidence of business records. The actual provisions of the Bill were recommended by the Swanson Committee for the purposes of proceedings in the Federal Court under the Trade Practices Act. Indeed, one of its proposals was for the amendment of that Act. The Government felt it more appropriate to incorporate the provision in a separate Act. In answer to Senator Wright, let me say that that is the reason why this Bill has come forward- as one to provide especially for the admissibility of business records- and that, from a practical point of view, the situation is most likely to arise in the federal courts in the course of litigation under the Trade Practices Act.
I have some sympathy for the honourable senator’s broad proposition that we ought to endeavour to obtain a uniform law of evidence for all Australian courts, both federal and State. However, I do not share his optimism concerning how quickly that could be achieved. If one looks at the history of legislation on this question of the admissibility of statements in documents, which originated in an English Act of 1938 and which has been adopted progressively in the various States one finds that on each occasion changes, often major, have been made by the States in the course of adoption. One could conclude that it may be rather difficult to obtain agreement on this question from all concerned. However, I will consider referring to the Law Reform Commission the question whether a uniform Bill could be obtained. I understand that the Law Reform Commission of New South Wales has done a good deal of further work on the matter. If it is in a position to report upon it. Such a report may be a suitable vehicle for referral to the Standing Committee of Attorneys-General, to ascertain whether, in that way agreement can be reached. However, I do have a good deal of sympathy for Senator Wright’s point and will certainly pursue the matter further.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 and 2- by leave- taken together and agreed to.
After Part HI of the Evidence Act 1905 the following Part is inserted:
PART IIIa-ADMISSIBILITY OF BUSINESS RECORDS 7a. (1) Jn this Part, unless the contrary intention appears- document ‘ includes-
a disc, tape, paper, film or other device from which sounds or images are capable of being reproduced; proceeding’ means a proceeding before the High Court or any court (other than a court of a Territory) created by the Parliament ;
– I move:
At end of proposed definition of ‘document’, insert ‘(c), any record of information’.
The purpose of this amendment is simply to include in the definition of ‘document’ the expression ‘any record of information’ and by so doing to extend the definition to include all things used to record information which have been devised in the past or which may be devised in the future. Whilst the existing definition is quite wide in its scope, it is limited to a number of specifics. By implication, paragraph (b) takes in current technology in terms of ‘a disc, tape, paper, film or other device’; but it does not allow for future technology in this very rapidly expanding and developing area of communications.
The purpose of the amendment is simply to make this definition a little more general in its application and wider in its scope. New technologies for recording information are constantly becoming available. There are other circumstances which may not fall within the existing definition. Records of information kept, for example, by the Aboriginal people in relation to Aboriginal lands may not fall within the definition in the Bill. As I have said, the amendment is not suggested in any spirit of hostility to the legislation. It is suggested simply because we think it is an improvement in technical terms. In addition to that, I should point out that the report of the New South Wales Law Reform Commission on business Records, on which the New South Wales Act was based, had this to say:
We prefer to define ‘document’ in functional terms rather than by including in the definition a list of things used for recording information based on the current or perhaps some past state of technology as is done in section 10 of the English Civil Evidence Act 1968 and adopted by the Victorian Evidence Act 1958, section 3.
The definition in the Bill, in terms of the report of the New South Wales Law Reform Commission, includes a list of things used for recording information. The purpose of this amendment is to widen that definition and to make it more functional, having regard to technological change and the other matters that I have mentioned.
– I cannot see any objection to Senator Button’s suggestion of widening the definition in order to give the broadest definition of ‘document’. I am a little uncertain as to whether that is the firmest way of stating the definition. There would have to be some permaancy about the record of information, equivalent to those records which are set out in detail in paragraphs (a) and (b) and which we understand to fall within the definition of ‘document’. I suppose that in the pre-Caxton age records of information were held in people’s minds or memories. I do not know whether the definition would cover that. It would not be intended to do so. What brought that to my mind was Senator Button’s reference to the way in which Aborigines may have recorded matters; they may have been verbal records. I do not think the phrase should be understood to cover that. That was just a thought that occurred to me. I think we could accept the amendment. We can get the Parliamentary Counsel, if necessary, to look at the amendment and, if he feels that there is a firmer way of stating it, that can be done before the Bill finally passes through the other place. The word ‘and’ would have to be deleted from the end of paragraph (a) and inserted at the end of paragraph (b) as part of the amendment. If the Opposition moves accordingly, we will accept the amendment.
– I am indebted to the Attorney-General for his attitude to the amendment. In relation to his observation about the permanence of records, let me say that some of the records which are dealt with in paragraph (b) are not permanent in the legal sense in which we used to use that expression. I move:
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– This discussion raises in my mind some questions in relation to Aboriginal land rights. Clause 3 deals with the examination of business records; but does the definition of ‘business’ include such organisations as the Aboriginal land council and the trade unions? What is the complete definition of business ‘ in clause 3?
– It is for the purpose of proceedings in which these records are used.
– It deals with the production of business records and gives the definition of ‘business’. I envisage that the definition refers to what we normally would accept as a business and would not include organisations or associations for a particular purpose that is beneficial to a community. The pertinent question is that of the land councils which are now in operation. Are they businesses within this definition? If they are, the question arises as to whether the trade unions fall into this category. I do not know.
– I would like to comment on Senator Cavanagh ‘s remarks. I was a little puzzled also by some of the comments of the Attorney-General as to how wide this amendment could go with regard to records that are held in the mind and so forth. The documents are to be used for the purposes of proceedings, which are defined and which definition Senator Button seeks to make somewhat wider. The Bill states:
Proceeding’ means a proceeding before the High Court or any court (other than a court of a Territory) created by the Parliament.
That is the definition in the Bill at the present time. ‘Business’ also is defined in the Bill. The records of businesses are to be produced and to be proved in the proceedings that take place. I would have thought that trade unions would fall within the definition of ‘business’ as ‘any business, profession, occupation, calling, trade or undertaking’. The whole purpose of the Bill isinstead of people having to produce the makers of the statements who may be dead or may be many different people- to enable them to produce the actual record. I would have thought that the definition did include those circumstances, where the documents were to be proved in a proceeding, and that that inclusion was desirable.
– Before the Attorney-General replies, let me say that another pertinent question arises on the matter of proposed section 7D, with which we are not dealing at the moment. It says: . . In this section, ‘criminal proceeding’ includes a proceeding under section 77 of the Trade Practices Act 1 974.
I understand that section 77 deals with the recovery of any penalty imposed under the Trade Practices Act, including compensation. Last session we included the trade unions within the Jurisdiction of the Trade Practices Act. So, if a penalty was to be collected for a breach of the Trade Practices Act, proceedings would take place in the High Court or, as I understand it, a court other than a court of a Territory.
– I do not think I expressed myself correctly when referring to the only point that concerned me. I mentioned a permanent record. I agree that many records can be erased easily. I was really drawing a distinction between records in a physical or material form and records of information by memory. On reflection, I think there may be a need to add some words to make firm the meaning intended. If the Parliamentary Counsel thinks it is necessary, it can be done.
Amendment agreed to.
– I move:
The effect of this amendment would be that the definition of ‘proceeding’ would then read: proceeding’ means a proceeding before the High Court or any Court (other than a court of a Territory) created by the Parliament or the court of a State when exercising Federal jurisdiction.
This amendment may not be regarded as being absolutely essential. In a sense, the Opposition sees it as a son of safety catch to embrace those situations- there are quite a number of examples of them- where a State court exercises Federal jurisdiction. This may occur in the areas of patent law or taxation law which are relevant areas to businesses. As explained in the Minister’s second reading speech, the basic purpose of this Bill is to provide that businesses records be admitted as evidence of the matters contained in them in proceedings before the court. Also in the Minister’s second reading speech he says specifically that it is desired that those records be provided or admitted as evidence ‘on a uniform basis’. The Opposition believes that the definition of ‘proceeding’ contained in the Bill might be defeated in achieving its real purpose if that uniform basis is not quite clearly spelt out by extending the definition. The purpose of the amendment is to remedy this.
– I am not prepared to agree to this amendment because it introduces the whole problem of mixed jurisdiction, that is, whether a State court is exercising State or Federal jurisdiction in a particular matter. I know there is a difference of opinion between the Government and the Opposition in their attitudes to these matters. The Government takes the view that it should invest State courts pretty widley with Federal jurisdiction and continue to do so. It is only in special areas that there are Federal courts exercising peculiar Federal jurisdictions. Where State courts are exercising a certain jurisdiction they should be, in our view, taken as they are and the procedural law and laws of evidence that they apply should be as uniform as possible and, of course, basically State law. I think there is a philosophical difference between the Government and the Opposition on this matter and I could not agree to this amendment. However, in answer to the point made by Senator Wright in the second reading debate, I repeat that I am sympathetic to the idea of obtaining uniformity of law relating to the admissibility of evidence in all courts, whether they are exercising Federal or State jurisdiction. Insofar as this amendment may be pointing in that direction, I agree broadly with its object. 1 think a better way of tackling the problem would be to try to reach this uniformity rather than to be muddying the waters further where a State court is exercising possibly both State and Federal jurisdiction in the same matter. There could be a case in which a certain law would apply to part of the evidence or issues and not to other parts. I think that would be generally undesirable.
– I wish only to say that I am pleased with what has fallen from the Attorney-General (Senator Durack). I rose only because my name was mentioned. There is nothing in what I said that would imply that I think this amendment should be adopted. When we pass legislation regarding evidence in Federal courts, that is not to trespass upon State courts exercising Federal jurisdiction. All honourable senators would know how vexatious it often is to discern whether or not at one stage the matter is under Federal jurisdiction and perhaps at another stage whether the matter comes purely and simply under State jurisdiction. Therefore, the criterion which is expressed in the Opposition’s amendment to govern the admissibility of evidence would be very difficult to implement and to me, in principle, it is quite obnoxious.
– I would like to make one further point. I refer to what the Attorney-General termed a ‘philosophical difference’. There is more to it than that. Although there is a philosophical difference there are also extreme difficulties for litigants. Until the sort of endeavour which Senator Wright sought to stimulate is carried forward there may be those problems. I want to have put on the record my view that it is not merely a philosophical difference. It is a very practical one in some circumstances.
– I can see the point Senator Button is making, but there would be many practical difficulties also if this amendment were passed. I think the definition in its present form is the best way of tackling the problem. I will pursue the matter and what Senator Wright has suggested.
In proposed sub-section 7d (4), at the end of proposed sub-section, add ‘other than a proceeding in which the defendant is a body corporate ‘.
The proposed sub-section relates to the provisions of section 77 of the Trade Practices Act, as has already been pointed out in the course of the Committee stage. It provides for civil action to be taken by the Attorney-General or the Commission for payments of pecuniary penalties. The circumstances in which those penalties are payable are set out in section 76 of the Trade Practices Act. It is clear that business records may be of major importance in such cases. In the Opposition ‘s view it is wrong to characterise an action against a corporation in relation to those business records as a criminal action. This is the effect of the present clause of the Bill, taken in conjunction with the previous clauses of the Bill, . and particularly clause 7 (b). We suggest this amendment- again it is a technical amendment -because we think it would be wrong in those circumstances to characterise of necessity such an action by the Attorney-General as a criminal action against a corporation. Accordingly, we suggest that the words in the proposed amendment be added to exclude proceedings in which the defendant is a body corporate.
– As I am presently advised I cannot accede to this amendment. The purpose of this clause is to provide that in criminal proceedings if a statement is contained in a document the party tendering the document can be called for cross examination if he is available. This provision is to protect one’s rights more strongly in criminal proceedings than might be thought necessary in civil proceedings. The only question is whether this should apply to proceedings under section 77 of the Trade Practices Act. The mere fact that in that section the defendant is a body corporate should make no difference to its rights in a matter which is analagous to a criminal proceeding. If this is analagous to criminal proceedings, as we feel it ought to be under the relevant section of the Trade Practices Act, it seems to me that bodies corporate have the same rights as individuals in regard to any matters which are considered criminal or semi-criminal. I cannot follow the reasoning that they should be excluded from the benefits given by this clause of the Bill. I shall look at the matter further but I could not agree to the amendment at this stage. If there is any merit in the proposal it can be dealt with in another place.
-In view of the words of the Attorney-General (Senator Durack) I wish to say only that this amendment is completely misconceived. I should have thought that a defendant under section 77 of the Trade Practices Act 1977 would in all cases be a corporate body. As I understand the Trade Practices Act it is based upon the corporation power and applies to corporations only. Therefore, the amendment is wholly misconceived. I express surprise that Senator Button should advance such an amendment. Trade unions would be corporate bodies. Recent legislation extended one section of the Trade Practices Act to trade unions, I think with a certain degree of futility as I stated in the debate. Nevertheless, why a trade union if ever it was subject to section 77 should not have the advantage as a defendant of not being subject to this exceptional rule against hearsay, I do not understand.
Senator Wright described the amendment as misconceived and relied on that description to say that any proceedings brought under section 77 of the Trade Practices Act would be proceedings against a body corporate. That is wrong. Section 77 clearly states that the Attorney-General may institute proceedings for a penalty referred to in section 76 of the Trade Practices Act. That section specifically delineates proceedings in the case of a person not being a body corporate and in the case of a body corporate. In the view of the honourable senator the amendment may be misconceived for all sorts of reasons but that is not one of them.
– I draw the attention of the Committee to four matters in regard to this clause generally. Last year when the Senate Standing Committee on Constitutional and Legal Affairs was considering the Evidence (Australian Capital Territory) Bill the adviser to the Committee, Mr P. Waight, a recognised authority on evidence matters attached to the Law School of the Australian National University, wrote to the Committee on 26 October 1977. He commented on four aspects of this clause of the Bill. I believe that at the time a copy of that letter was made available to the AttorneyGeneral’s Department. I do not think that it has come to the attention of the Attorney-General (Senator Durack). I regret that it was only this morning that I realised that this matter had been raised and ought to be mentioned in debate. I have made copies of the letter available to the Attorney-General and to Senator Button. For convenience I seek leave to incorporate the letter from Mr Waight in Hansard.
The letter read as follows-
Australian National University. A.C.T. 26 October, 1977.
Mr Michael Dixon, Secretary, Senate Standing Committee on Constitutional and Legal Affairs.
Dear Mr Dixon,
The Evidence Amendment Bill 1 977.
I have recently perused the above Bill, and would like to draw your attention to the following matters:
Clause 7 B (2) speaks of the rules against hearsay and secondary evidence: it is generally said that there is only a rule against hearsay or secondary evidence (although in each case there are many exceptions to it);
Clause 7 C (2) (b) does not seem to allow the Court to vary its earlier order if it is found impossible or difficult to comply with it;
the definition of ‘computer’ in the Evidence Ordinance 1971 and the Evidence (Australian Capital Territory) Bill is far wider than the definition of the term contained in clause 7K(5);
Clause 7Q seems to confine the Courts discretion to the case where the probative value of the evidence is low- normally a Court has also got a discretion to exclude evidence where that evidence has been illegally or unfairly obtained, even though that evidence may be of high probative value. Ireland (170) 126 C.L.R. 32 1 . Although I am making this comment I do realise that this second discretion would only rarely be applicable to the admissibility of business records’).
Yours faithfully P. WAIGHT
-I shall refer to the four matters briefly. As I understand the AttorneyGeneral’s remarks this morning, consideration is being given to some of the amendments and other courses may be taken in respect of them. I feel that these four matters ought to be considered, although at this stage I am not moving any amendments. The first is a small matter. Proposed new section 7 B (2) refers to the rules against hearsay and secondary evidence. In his letter to the Senate Standing Committee on Constitutional and Legal Affairs, Mr Waight said: it is generally said that there is only a rule against hearsay or secondary evidence (although in each case there are many exceptions to it)
It is merely a matter of language. Perhaps that should be corrected. He speaks secondly of proposed new section 7C(2)(b) which provides that if a document is not produced in accordance with the requirement the court may reject the statement or, if it has received it, exclude it. The point made by Mr Waight is that this is perhaps too demanding. In fact, it does not allow the court to vary its earlier orders if it is found impossible or difficult to comply with them. Perhaps that is too directive a requirement, limiting the court in what it may do as in certain circumstances it might not want to reject the document.
The third matter raised by Mr Waight relates to the definition of’computer’. This is contained in proposed new section 7K (5). It reads:
For the purposes of this section, ‘computer’ means any device for storing or processing information.
Mr Waight said that the definition in the Australian Capital Territory Evidence Ordinance 1971 and the Evidence (Australian Capital Territory) Bill is far wider than the definition set out in this particular clause. If this is so, perhaps there should be some uniformity between the two sets of legislation, that relating to the Australian Capital Territory and that relating to evidence generally as this Bill does. I merely invite the Attorney’s attention to whether a wider definition of ‘computer’, if there is one, should be included in this Bill.
The last of the four matters raised by Mr Waight relates to proposed new section 7Q, which appears on page 8 and reads:
This Part does not affect the power of a court in a criminal proceeding to reject evidence which, if admitted, would operate unfairly against the defendant.
The point which Mr Waight made was that this is a discretion which the court would exercise when the value of the probative evidence was rather low. Normally a court has a discretion also to exclude evidence illegally or unfairly obtained, even though it may be of very high probative value. This discretion is not covered in proposed new section 7Q. I invite comment on whether this ground for the rejection of evidence should be included in the Bill also. Mr Waight pointed out that it is not very likely that this second discretion would arise very often in cases involving the admissibility of business records, to which this whole Bill relates. Nonetheless, it is a ground which can lead to the rejection of evidence and it is not included in the Bill. I do not know whether the Attorney desires to make any comments on these matters, but I hope that before the legislation is finalised there will be consideration of these matters which have been raised by a person with some interest and experience in the laws of evidence.
– As Senator Missen has indicated, my attention has only just been drawn to the comments of Mr Waight. I have had a quick look through them. Some are fairly technical. And I do not know whether I would accept his interpretation of proposed new section 7Q. To me, it seems to provide a pretty wide discretion embracing the discretion that a court would have in criminal proceedings to reject evidence of whatever character. However, I will have that matter looked at and give it further consideration. As I have said throughout the Committee stage, this is not necessarily the end of any matter raised. The Bill is to be debated in the other place before it is finalised. If necessary, it can come back to this chamber. I adopt the same attitude on these matters as I did on others.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill, as amended, agreed to.
Bill reported with an amendment; report adopted.
Bill (on motion by Senator Durack) read a third time.
Sitting suspended from 12.44 to 2.15 p.m.
Debate resumed from 1 March on motion by Senator Walters:
That the following Address-in-Reply be agreed to:
To His Excellency the Governor-General
MAY IT PLEASE YOUR EXCELLENCY-
We, the Senate of the Commonwealth of Australia in Parliament assembled, desire to express our loyalty to our Most Gracious Sovereign, and to thank Your Excellency for the Speech which you have been pleased to address to Parliament.
Upon which Senator Wriedt had moved by way of an amendment:
At end of motion, add ‘, but the Senate is of the opinion that it-
fails to deal adequately with record levels of unemployment;
fails to stimulate productive output;
leaves serious uncertainty about the progress of the Australian economy;
ignores the serious recession in the international economy;
fails to provide immediate and long-term guidelines for industry; and
f) neglects to provide firm guarantees for the protection of civil liberties by legislative enactment within the powers of the Australian Government’.
– Last night at the adjournment of the Senate I had had the opportunity to say only a few words. I shall repeat them now because I want to emphasise my gratitude to the South Australian Branch of the Australian Labor Party for endorsing me for the fourth time on the South Australian ALP Senate ticket. I want also to thank the Labor Party supporters in South Australia for returning me to this place, along with my colleague for the future, Senator Elect Ron Elstob, who will come into this place for the Budget session. I am sure that he will make his mark as a South Australian senator.
Because of a couple of interjections last night when I mentioned that I had been endorsed on the ALP Senate ticket four times, I said that I would explain how this came about in such a short period. I was first endorsed in 1 970 to contest the 1970 half-Senate election. As was the case with a lot of senators elect, I thought I would be a member of this chamber for six years before I faced an election. But because of the lust for power of the people who now sit on the Government benches, I had to face two more elections before I had even completed my first six years in office.
During this Address-in-Reply debate we have heard many honourable senators on the other side of the chamber praising the functions of this House as a house of review. I repeat what I have said on many occasions: This House is only a party political house; it is a rubber stamp when the Liberal Party has the numbers in this place as well as in the other place; and it is a house of frustration when the Labor Party is in government and has the numbers in the other place but does not have the numbers in this place. I shall have more to say about that later. I did want to explain to people who might read my speech the reason I happened to be endorsed so many times in such a short period. I hope I have adequately done that.
Something strikes me as rather strange in this Address-in-Reply debate. Practically every honourable senator from the Government side of the chamber who has spoken in this debate has engaged in what I would call a ‘ backslapping exercise’. They have praised the GovernorGeneral’s Speech to high heaven and in doing so they have made very little reference to the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser), who wrote the speech for the Governor-General. I do not know whether these honourable senators were purposely setting out to hoodwink the electors into believing that the Governor-General prepared the Speech. I compliment the Governor-General on the way in which he delivered the Speech; it was a magnificent delivery, even though he played no part in preparing the Speech. His Speech was much better delivered than the speeches which were delivered here by the previous occupant of the office of GovernorGeneral.
I had intended to mention the previous incumbent of that office and to refer to the editorial in the Herald of last night. However, there was some delay and I did not have the opportunity to speak this morning. Certain things have happened in the meantime. We know that in the other place a statement has been made which I am sure will be welcomed by the great majority of the Australians who have ever welcomed a speech made in that place. The statement indicated that Kerr had resigned from the job which was given to him by Mr Fraser as a payout for services rendered. Public opinion has had its say. I do not know whether Kerr was gently pushed out of the job or how he was persuaded to resign. However, it has happened and I am very pleased that it has.
I will not say too much more about that because I understand that the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Withers) is to make a statement on the matter when I conclude my remarks. I think that the matter will be taken care of then. However, I should like to compliment my Leader, the honourable member for Oxley, Mr Hayden, on the speech that he made in the other place immediately after the statement was made by Mr Fraser. I think that Mr Hayden excelled himself in replying off the cuff to what the Prime Minister had said. It is well known and has been recorded on many occasions that I vigorously objected to the massive public expenditure incurred by the previous occupant of Government House. I objected to the way in which he used to fly around this country in VIP aircraft with little regard for the expense to the Australian taxpayer. I think it is just reward that now, because of public opinion and public pressure, he has had to resign from a job which he should never have been given in the first place.
It is well known that this job was a payout for the services the previous Governor-General rendered to the now Prime Minister back in 1975 when that clandestine meeting took place at Government House, when the Commonwealth car driver who drove Mr Fraser to Yarralumla was instructed to hide his car around the back of Government House and Mr Fraser was hidden away in a room while Mr Whitlam was called over and told unceremoniously that he had been sacked. There was connivance there. The present Prime Minister deceived the Parliament. He did not tell the government of the day that these negotiations were taking place, nor did he consult with it.
I hope that when history is recorded and the people of Australia are finally fully aware of what took place on that occasion the Fraser Government, those people who sit behind him and those people who supported him in those actions will levy the just punishment on him; namely, that they will vote him out of office. At such a time not only the events which I have cited will be taken into consideration; all the false promises made during the 1975 general election campaign and again during the general election campaign last year will be taken into consideration also. I will refer to some of those false promises in my speech today.
In the speeches made by two of the South Australian senators who have spoken in this debate we have witnessed a furtherance of the old syndrome which now exists in South Australia, that is, Dunstan bashing- ‘Get Dunstan’. We found this in the words which came from Senator Messner, which were elaborated on by Senator Young. I will set out to rebut most of the statements made by those two honourable senators and to prove to the Senate that what they were doing was nothing less than promoting an exercise which endeavours to usurp the authority of and to unseat the present Dunstan Labor Government in South Australia. I issue a word of warning: The further they go along that road the harder they are likely to fall at the end of it. If those who oppose the Dunstan Government have no decent policies to put to the people of South Australia- as is the case- they will not bring down Dunstan either by their behaviour in this Parliament or the behaviour of the State Leader of the Opposition in South Australia.
I am reminded of an article which appeared in the Adelaide Advertiser of Wednesday, 1 1 May 1 977. Mr Peter Ward, a journalist who has risen to some prominence in recent times, quoted what the now Leader of the South Australian Liberal Party had to say in May last year. Mr Tonkin was reported to have said:
I challenge the Premier to publicly debate on television his Government’s record over the past seven years and the massive electoral fraud he has perpetrated.
Later in the year Mr Dunstan accepted the challenge. He went to the people in September. When he went to the people in September the State Labor Government had a majority of one. After the September election and the challenge which was thrown out by Mr Tonkin, the Labor Party in South Australia was returned to office with a record majority of seven. That Government is still in office. That is the answer to Mr
Tonkin. When Mr Dunstan sought the opinion of the electors they quickly gave it. They did not vote in favour of Mr Tonkin; they voted in favour of Mr Dunstan. But now the South Australian Opposition will not accept that decision of the electors. Mr Tonkin is somewhat the same as honourable senators opposite and supporters of the Government in the other place were after the 1972 general election. At no time would they accept the decision of the electors. They forced us to an election 18 months after we were elected into government. In 1 974 we were re-elected, but again they would not accept the decision of the electors and connived with the GovernorGeneral to sack the Whitlam Government. Of course, things have happened since, and the person who will suffer most is the person who had his arm twisted- Kerr. He has had to resign a job in which he thought he was set up for life. I am concerned about whether he received money in advance in respect of this high office he was given in Paris. If he has, I shall be seeking information on the steps which this Government will take to recoup what he has been paid in advance. I will be asking some questions about that matter when we deal with the Estimates, to see whether the taxpayers have been ripped off again by these payouts for services rendered.
This is the same type of action that Mr Tonkin would like to take. He will not accept the verdict of the electors of South Australia in September last year. The South Australian Opposition is engaged in an exercise to denigrate the Dunstan Labor Government, and the Opposition is levelling all its spite and spleen at the Premier. That attitude has carried over into this place, as we found in the speech last week by Senator Messner and in the speech last Tuesday by Senator Young. I will explode some of their myths as I proceed. I refer firstly to Senator Messner ‘s speech. As recorded at page 51 of the Senate Hansard of 22 February 1978, when talking about the theory and dream of Thomas Playford, one time Premier of South Australia, Senator Messner said: the State ought to develop by virtue of the development of manufacturing industry. The only way that it could do so was to employ the skills of the people to a better extent than in other States.
Senator Messner did not tell the Senate that when Playford was able to encourage industry to South Australia it was with the full support of the Chifley Government. It was Chifley who financially assisted Philips Industries Holdings Ltd to set up in South Australia. It was Chifley who financially assisted General Motors-Holden ‘s Ltd to set up its plant in South Australia. The
Federal Labor Government in those days assisted the Government of South Australia in every possible way to industrialise the State. This is the reverse of what we see happening under this Government, through its official policy and the statements by members of Parliament who do their best to denigrate the South Australian Government.
Taking it one step further, let us look at what Playford did to extend the supply of electricity to most parts of South Australia. When he introduced a Bill to take over the Adelaide electricity supply he had so many of his own members opposed to it that he had to rely on members of the Parliamentary Labor Party to get the legislation through Parliament. We now find people here praising the Electricity Trust of South Australia. No mention is made of the part played by the Parliamentary Labor Party in South Australia in helping the Liberal Premier bring that body into being. Honourable senators opposite come in here and criticise and go outside and criticise. They should give credit where credit is due, instead of knocking all the time. The stage has been reached at which the Leader of the Opposition in South Australia has been known for some time as Knocker Tonkin. The Opposition there is doing its best to turn industry away, to discourage industry from setting up shop there. Senator Messner tried to do the same thing on Wednesday of last week, when he talked about workers compensation and other matters not encouraging industry to set up in South Australia. I will cite some figures which will prove that he was wrong and that he was doing a disservice to his State, which he ought to be promoting in this place.
He said that the Playford policy relied very heavily first of all on establishing a basis for cheap housing. Let us look at the housing figures, because Senator Messner was inferring that housing costs in South Australia are too high and that people living in that State are paying more for housing than people in other States. That is wrong. I have some figures which I cite. Adelaide has the highest percentage of home ownership of any Australian capital city. In 1974-75, 74.6 per cent of householders in Adelaide either were purchasing or owned their dwellings outright. The comparable average figure for owner occupancy in the other capital cities was 69.2 per cent. So the home ownership figure for Adelaide is 5 per cent higher than the figure for other capital cities. Adelaide also had the highest home ownership among working families earning less than $200 a week in 1974-75, with 70.8 per cent of such families in Adelaide either owning outright or purchasing their dwellings. The average for all capital cities was 65.3 per cent. There again Adelaide was 5 per cent better off under the South Australian Labor Government. The source of my figures is the Australian Bureau of Statistics in its 1974-75 household expenditure survey, the latest available.
Two factors have contributed significantly to home ownership in South Australia. They are low land prices and low building costs. When the Whitlam Government was in office we were able to make funds available to the South Australian Labor Government to purchase land for the Lands Commission to stop developers and land speculators from crippling financially the people who wanted to buy land on which to build their homes. We on this side of the chamber are proud of that record. Yet at every opportunity people such as Senator Messner claim that we wasted money. In my view there is no better way for the Federal Government to spend money than to buy up land so that there is a land bank available to State governments whenever it wants to make land available for people to build homes upon. Data published by the Commonwealth Savings Bank, the largest institutional lender for housing in Australia, indicates that, with the exception of Perth, building costs per square metre in Adelaide were the lowest in Australia for each type of dwelling construction. Yet Senator Messner said last week that one of the things holding back South Australia was the high cost of housing. Apart from Perth, South Australia has the lowest building costs in the Commonwealth. He will be astounded when I give the figures for Liberal-governed States such as Victoria.
– What sort of house was that based on?
– Homes of brick veneer construction cost up to $2 1 5 per square metre in Adelaide during 1 977, compared with $245 per square metre in Sydney, up to $250 in Melbourne and Hobart and up to $270 in Brisbane. In respect of double brick construction Adelaide is just as competitive as it is in brick veneer construction. The price of land for home building has been kept down by the establishment of the South Australian Land Commission and by the introduction of land price control by the Dunstan Government in 1973. The Commission has created a bank of land to be developed as needed for home building, thus stabilising land prices. The South Australian Labor Government was able to do this because it had assistance from the Federal Labor Government of the day. It did not have frustration such as it is experiencing now at the hands of this Federal Liberal Government.
During 1976-77 the South Australian Land Commission made available 3,056 fully serviced home sites for sale to the public. The estimated total for 1977-78 is in excess of 3,000 home sites. The average price of land sold in each Commission subdivision has been below the price in neighbouring private sector subdivisions. Private sector construction and professional services are employed extensively by the Commission, so it can be seen that the State Government does cooperate with private enterprise, despite the fact that it is said repeatedly that the South Australian Government is not concerned with private enterprise. The average price of serviced residential allotments in the major developing areas of the capital cities at June 1976, the latest date for which interstate figures are available, was: Sydney, $18,670; Melbourne, $13,342; Brisbane, $9,554; Perth, $7,667; Hobart, $8,78 1 ; Adelaide- this will be of interest to Senator Messner, I am sure- $6,722. So Adelaide had the lowest land costs of any capital city. Despite this Senator Messner had the temerity to say here last week that one of the things holding up the development of South Australia was the high cost of building homes there. It costs one third as much to buy a block of land in Adelaide as it does in Sydney.
– In what year was that?
– This was at June 1976, the latest figures available. It is half of what it costs in the Liberal Government State of Victoria. The source of my figures for Senator Messner’s information, is the Indicative Planning Council for the Housing Industry. The cost of rental accommodation is low in Adelaide. According to the Commonwealth Savings Bank, the average weekly rental for a medium standard two-bedroom unfurnished flat in the various capitals during 1977 was: Sydney, $45-$55 per week; Melbourne, $35-$45 per week; Brisbane, $45-$55 per week; Adelaide, $30-$40 per week; Perth, $35-$40 per week; and Hobart, $40-$45 per week. So in South Australia we have the lowest cost of any capital city in Australia for a person who wants to rent a two-bedroom flat. How can Senator Messner get up here and criticise what is being said and done by the Labor Government in South Australia? He cannot prove what he says. But until somebody like myself comes along with the actual figures Senator Messner gets away with his statements. No doubt he goes to places in South Australia and makes these statements. People believe him because they do not get the opposite story. But they will get the facts now. Senator Messner is down in the Hansard record as having said these things. I will be down in the Hansard record as having given the actual figures. I shall take good care that both statements- that is the statements he made and the actual figures I have given in rebuttal- go to the right places so that people can make the comparison themselves.
The South Australian Government recently undertook major initiatives in housing. A $3m program to abolish stamp duty on new homes is one example of these initiatives. The maximum saving per home under the scheme is $ 1 , 1 80. Yet the other day I heard Senator Messner claim that South Australia should reduce its State taxes. Here is evidence that already it has done that. Senator Messner is behind the times again. Bridging finance of $40m has already been made available by the State Government Insurance Commission for borrowers awaiting permanent finance through the State Bank of South Australia. Another $12m has been made available for borrowers awaiting Savings Bank of South Australia mortages. We in the Australian Labor Party have long memories. We remember when we tried to legislate in the South Australian Parliament for a State government insurance office. We remember the diabolical lies which were told in the community by the Liberal Party about what a terrible institution it would be.
- Mr President, I raise a point of order. I must take objection to the assertion that the Liberal Party spoke lies in respect of the State Government Insurance Commission. There were no grounds for Senator McLaren making that point at all. In fact, all matters which were put forward during a debate in the upper House in another place were based on information available from life assurance and other sources.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- Order! The point of order is not upheld.
– I know that is a sore point with the Liberal Party but it is set out correctly in the State Hansard.
- Mr President, I do not believe Senator McLaren withdrew the word ‘lies’.
– No, he was not asked to.
– I ask him to withdraw that word.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- I also ask Senator McLaren to refrain from using that particular word.
- Mr Deputy President, I shall rephrase that statement and say that untruths were told in an endeavour to mislead the public of South Australia. Violent opposition came from the Liberal Party, both outside and inside the Parliament, to the setting up of the State Government Insurance Commission. The Labor Government in South Australia is also experiencing violent opposition now that it proposes to legislate- it is in the Premier’s policy speech and people will be hard put to reject it- to allow the State Government Insurance Commission to enter the life assurance field. We must remember that had it not been for the setting up of the State Government Insurance Commission in South Australia nobody there could drive a motor car today because all the private insurance companies voluntarily opted out of third party insurance. The companies were not forced out of that business. They opted out. One cannot drive a motor car in South Australia unless one is covered by third party insurance. People ought to be reminded of that. Again we have the Liberal Party trying to deter South Australia from going ahead. When we were able to go ahead with the legislation, which the Government had a mandate to do, we were able to prove that it was good legislation and to the benefit of the South Australian community.
Let me go a little further into Senator Messner’s speech and look at some of the statements he made. He talked about the cost of living and State taxes, how these were highest in South Australia. I have some figures here on State taxes. State taxes collected in South Australia are a trivial amount when compared with Commonwealth collections in each State. For every dollar of State tax collected in South Australia the Commonwealth collects $4 to $5. If we look at the amount which the Commonwealth is collecting we will see that it is not going back to South Australia. When the Labor Party was in office here it channelled a lot of that money back to the States. But it is not going back now. The estimated per capita State taxes as compiled by the South Australian Treasury Department for 1976-77 are as follows: New South Wales, $282.47; Victoria, $285.01; Queensland, $234.68; South Australia, $232.57. If my memory serves me correctly, Senator Messner in his speech used the figure of $325m for tax collections in South Australia. That is $10Om more than the State is actually collecting. The honourable senator’s figures are in Hansard. If he wants me to cite them I will. Further figures compiled by the State Treasury Department are: Western Australia, $248.35 and Tasmania $169.15 per head of population. Yet people go around the country and say things to try to bring down the Dunstan Labor Government. The figures for South Australia which I have given include mining royalties which are State taxes which finance the general range of government services. The conservatives in Queensland and Western Australia omit those royalties in order to worsen the relative position of South Australia. In Queensland they also leave out profits on minerals and railways for the same purpose. South Australia spends its State tax receipts well.
I interjected on Senator Messner the other day when he gave some figures showing the amount raised by State taxes. I think the figure was about $57m during the Playford era and he said that amount went up to about $350m during the Dunstan era. But he did not tell us that our schools, hospitals, roads and other public utilities were run down under the Playford Government. He did not tell us what the South Australian Labor Government had to expend for the benefit of the people who live in my State. I shall refer to some matters for the benefit of Senator Messner. The Grants Commission figures show that total South Australian expenditure on education, health, welfare and law and order has risen the fastest of all States in the years up to 1975-76. We have had an increase in spending- Senator Messner ought to be listening to this- of 159 per cent in South Australia, 147 per cent in Tasmania, 142 per cent in Victoria, 137 per cent in Queensland and Western Australia and 1 30 per cent in New South Wales. So again I have been able to prove that what Senator Messner said is wrong. South Australia is spending more per head of population in our State for the benefit of the people who live there than is spent in any of the other States.
– I did not disagree with that.
– You did disagree. You said that that was one of the things that was holding South Australia back. The conservatives continually claim- I put Senator Messner in that category- that South Australia had the highest charges when putting a family car on the road. The honourable senator talked about cars in his speech. Figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics as at June 1976 show that ownership per 100 people for personal transportation is highest in South Australia. If the cost were as astronomical as Senator Messner tried to make out the people would not be buying cars and registering them in South Australia. In South Australia the number of cars per 100 people is 39.7. For Tasmania it is 39.3; 38.6 for Victoria; 37.3 for Western Australia; 35.1 for New South Wales and 34.5 for Queensland. South Australia has the highest ratio of car per 100 people than any State. Everything I have been able to say in answer to Senator Messner proves that the honourable senator is deliberately setting out, as is Mr Tonkin, to denigrate the State, the Labor Government and its Premier. The people of South Australia have to be made aware of these things.
Another matter to which Senator Messner referred was workers compensation and how its cost was driving business away from South Australia and stopping business going to that State. Dr John Cornwall, a colleague of mine in the Legislative Council in South Australia, had incorporated at pages 1 8 1 and 1 82 of the South Australian Hansard of 27 July last year some figures released on 6 June 1977 by the Australian Bureau of Statistics. After citing one or two of the figures, I will seek leave to have the table incorporated in Hansard. I have not shown this table to you, Mr Deputy President, although a couple of documents that I will later seek leave to have incorporated I did show to the President earlier this morning. He said that as far as he was aware there was no reason why they should not be incorporated but that I should consult the Minister in charge of the House now, the Minister for Social Security (Senator Guilfoyle). If the Minister feels, after she has looked at them, that the documents cannot be incorporated then I will use some other method at a later stage to read them into the Hansard.
– On the adjournment.
– Yes, I could do it on the adjournment tonight. I wish to give a few of the figures to rebut Senator Messner’s argument that workers compensation in South Australia is having a detrimental effect on business in the State and is not encouraging new business to come in. In values of claims from 1973-74 to 1975-76, there was a decline in Queensland although no actual figure was given. In Tasmania there was an increase of 6.3 per cent, in South Australia and the Northern Territory an increase of 60.3 per cent, in Victoria an increase of 74.3 per cent, in New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory an increase of 97.8 per cent, and in Western Australia an increase of 156.1 per cent. I should point out that those figures, released on 6 June 1977, were compiled by the Australian Bureau of Statistics. A note at the end of the table indicates that Victoria, New South Wales and to a lesser extent the Australian
Capital Territory were the main competitors for South Australian manufacturing firms. Yet businesses in those States are paying more for workers compensation than is paid in South Australia. The statistics I have given prove that the increases in values of claims have been greater in Victoria and New South Wales. The Australian average increase was 63.3 per cent, indicating that South Australia recorded the third smallest increase and was under the Australian average.
– Over what period?
– Those figures relate to the period from 1973-74 to 1975-76.
– That is right. The Bureau figures do not go as far as those given earlier by honourable senators on the Government side.
– Nonsense. Mr Acting Deputy President, with the concurrence of the Minister, I seek leave to have the table incorporated in Hansard.
The table read as follows-
N.B.- excludes workers’ compensation insurance in coal industry.
The percentage increases in value of claims from 1 973-74, 1 975-76 were (in order):
N.B.- Victoria and New South Wales/Australian Capital Territory main competitors for South Australian manufacturing firms.
The Australian increase was 63.3 per cent, that is South Australia was third best and better than the Australian average.
N.B.- excludes workers’ compensation insurance in coal industry.
The percentage increases in value of premiums from 1973-74 to 1975-76 were (in order):
The Australian increase was 150.1 per cent, that is, South Australia was third best and well below the Australian average.
Claims and Premiums per Worker
I have attempted to calculate a per worker figure since the statistics do not record how many are covered nor do they allow comparisons of rates in each State by occupation. Because of the uncertainty of who is insured, I calculated the numbers in each State in May, 1976, who were: (a) in the labour force, (b) civilian employee, and removed from these the number employed in coal mining.
In both cases, South Australia was third lowest and 22 per cent below the Australian average.
In both cases again, South Australia was third lowest and 25 per cent below the Australian average.
– I think that I have rebutted all of the arguments put by Senator Messner when he tried to build up a case in relation to South Australia. No doubt his colleagues will quote his words, but when they read my speech they might think better of it.
Senator Young’s speech was based on two points. The first was the usual backslapping in acclaiming the Governor-General’s Speech. As I said earlier, it was a well-delivered speech but it was not written by the Governor-General. Two of the most important matters on which Senator Young dwelt were the election results in South Australia, and he made a very interesting comment on that subject, and the question of uranium, about which he misquoted several things. Even though he quoted from the South Australian Hansard, a completely different picture emerges when one reads it properly, and I might refer to that later.
I invite Senator Messner to get hold of a copy of a document printed in South Australia entitled South Australian Development 1977’ to see how the State is progressing and what we are doing there. Bjelke-Petersen, the Premier of Queensland, for years has been putting out documents like this to prove to the people what his State is doing. On the very first occasion that the South Australian Government does a similar thing to acquaint the people with the facts Liberal members ask questions without notice or put questions on notice about how much the publication costs, how much people were paid to do the photography and how many people were on the free list. They have tried to stifle information being made available to the general public in South Australia on how the State is developing at a rapid rate under the Dunstan Labor Government.
I deal now with what Senator Young had to say on the election results. On page 173 of the Senate Hansard of 28 February he is recorded as saying that he was going to indulge in a wee spot of parochialism. He continued:
I wish to refer to the elections results in my State of South Australia. It is interesting to note, when looking at the final figures- I am talking now of the primary votes in South Australiathat in the House of Representatives election the Liberal Party polled 45 per cent of the votes, whilst the Australian Labor Party polled 42.6 per cent of the votes. I emphasise that I am referring specifically to primary votes. In the Senate election the Liberal Party in South Australia polled 49 per cent of the votes and the Labor Party 36.8 per cent. On a two-party preferred basis, in South Australia in the House of Representatives election the Liberal Party polled 5 1.3 per cent of the votes and the Labor Party 48.7 per cent; yet we in the Liberal Party finished up winning only five of the 1 1 seats. Granted, we were only marginally behind in one of those seats, namely, the seat of Grey, in which our candidate was a matter of 60-odd votes short of the number he required to beat the Labor Party candidate.
I can tell Senator Young why two sitting Labor members of the House of Representatives retained their seats in a close contest. In the first place, they are both very active and good representatives of their constituents. Mr Wallis, for instance, really works in his electorate. He is on tap to answer every need of the people and he looks after their interests. He does not go around the country, as some South Australian Liberal members do, making false promises that certain things will happen.
– Would Senator Jessop be one?
– I do not know whether Senator Jessop has read the last issue of the Transcontinental, which is in the Parliamentary Library, but it would do him good to look at it. It has a really good editorial- I am sorry that I did not have time to bring it into the chambertelling Senator Jessop either to put up or shut up. It is a good editorial by a paper which in the past has not been pro-Labor, at least to my way of thinking. On this occasion it has really given Senator Jessop a good send-up and it makes good reading. However, I think I have exploded some of the false statements made by Senator Jessop when the Senate was debating the shipbuilding industry at Whyalla.
– Order! Senator McLaren, you must not say that an honourable senator has made false statements.
– I said misleading statements, and I quoted them from newspaper cuttings which reported Senator Jessop as saying that his Government would look after the shipbuilding industry in Whyalla. Senator Jessop was a member of the delegation which went to Whyalla. The delegation included myself, Senator Bishop, Senator Donald Cameron and other South Australian senators; I have forgotten whether Senator Cavanagh was present. At that time promises were made, but when the interim report of the Senate Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence was debated in this place Government senators voted against things that they had said they would support. The proof of the pudding is in the eating. It is for that reason that I believe Mr Wallis was able to hold his seat. I admit that he held it by only 60 votes, but at least he held it, and that was the closest the Liberals will ever come to winning back the seat. The false promises that were made will not be forgotten by the people. I remind the Senate of a promise that was made during the election campaign that television would be provided for the West Coast area of South Australia within 12 months. The people who made the promise now cannot come up with the goods. I understand that some questions were asked the other day at a meeting and it was proved that that statement had no credibility at all.
It was said frequently in this House that the seat of Hawker would be won by a former South Australian Premier and former senator, Steele Hall. But he was nicely trounced. The whole crux of the matter is that had the Labor Party had the same sort of finances to spend in Hawker as Mr Hall and the Liberal Party spent we would have won by 10,000 votes. The place was flooded by the Liberals with high class literature. Where did the money come from? That is why we want this legislation- I am pleased that the Government parties are now giving it consideration- to ascertain the source of political funds for campaigns. We will be quite happy to divulge where we get ours if the Liberals will divulge where they get theirs. Senator Young might have given us some inkling of where they get their funds when he made his speech on uranium the other day. I suppose that, since the uranium report was tabled yesterday, he might have regrets concerning some of his statements about the money that can be made out of uranium. I intend to refer further to that in a few moments. I am sure that the honourable senator, who now has a grin on his face, is wishing that he had not spoken so soon. What came out of the Atomic Energy Commission report that was tabled yesterday completely refutes, without my having to bother to do it, the remarks that the honourable senator made. He went on to say, referring to election figures:
Nevertheless, I have always believed that if one party gets 50-plus per cent of the votes it should finish up with a majority of seats.
I have lived in South Australia for a little more than 28 years but can never recall Senator Young going public to make the statement that he believed in that philosophy. During all the years when Playford was in office, sometimes with less than 40 per cent of the vote, he did not object. He did not object in, I believe it was, 1954 -
– There was no election in 1954.
– There was a Federal election in 1954 and I will deal with that first.
– I was talking about the State election.
– The honourable senator was also talking about the Federal election. The Labor Party got a majority of the votes- something more than 50 per cent- in the 1954 Federal election. However, we did not win office; it was retained by the Menzies Government. Did the honourable senator then object and say that the Menzies Government was wrongfully elected? Did the honourable senator object in 1961 when his Party retained office with the help of the Communist Party preferences which assisted Mr Killen to maintain his seat of Moreton?
– That was not our fault, was it?
– No, of course, it was not the honourable senator’s fault but he accepted it. He did not go public and complain about those figures. We find that the Liberal Party obtained, at the 1975 Federal election, 38.55 per cent of the vote; and the Country Party 8.52. That gives a total of 47.07 per cent for the two parties. The Labor Party obtained 50.03 per cent in its own right, yet could not form a government. Honourable senators opposite did not then come out and say that we should have been in government. Referring to the 1961 figures, which I am quoting from Australian Government and Politics, by Hughes and Graham, and which I obtained from the Parliamentary Library -
– Which year are you talking about?
– I referred earlier to 1 954. Now I turn to 1961 when the Liberal Party got 33.58 per cent of the vote and the Country Party 8.5 1 per cent, for a total of about 42 per cent. The Labor Party won 47.90 per cent, yet we did not form a government. If the Communist Party had not graciously given its preferences to Mr Killen in that year, Arthur Calwell would have been the Prime Minister of Australia.
– What did the DLP get?
-Of course, the DLP, as has often been said, was the Liberal Party’s B grade, the second string to the fiddle. Also, one cannot take any notice of the votes that the DLP obtained in those years. In nine out of ten seats that it contested it invariably picked someone whose name started with A, so he would automatically be on top of the ballot paper. I might say, for Senator Young’s interest, that that might have been the reason for the difference between the House of Representatives figures and the Senate figures in South Australia during the last election. You people had the donkey vote; you got No. 1 position on the ticket.
– Are you quoting primary votes?
– I am quoting the votes that are set out in this book.
– Yes, primary votes.
– Never mind about the distribution of preferences.
– They count. We have a preferential system.
– They count all right, but in the primary vote a bigger percentage of people supported Labor than supported the other two major parties combined. Nevertheless, now Government supporters say: ‘We would like to have had some from the DLP’. Of course they wanted some from the DLP, because they had done everything they could for that Party; it had kept them in office and it had had to pander to them constantly.
Now let us examine the South Australian election figures. I have quoted them before and wil] do so again, seeking to have them incorporated. Going back to those early days, the ALP got 26. 16 per cent of the vote. The Liberals got 32.83 and formed a government. In 1941 the ALP won 33.25 per cent of the vote and the Liberal Party 37.49 per cent, again a majority which enabled it to form a government. In April 1944 the ALP obtained 42.26 per cent of the vote and the Liberal Party 44.84 per cent. That was the last occasion in any South Australian election that the Liberal Party polled the majority of votes. Yet we go on for a series of years- I shall quote them seriatim- to find that: In 1947 the ALP won 48.64 per cent of the vote and the LCL 40.38. The LCL formed a government under Playford. In March 1950 the figures were 38.09 per cent for the Labor Party and 40.5 1 for the Liberal Party. Again the Liberal Party was in government. In March 1953, the figures were 50.97 per cent for the Labor Party and 36.45 for the Liberal Party. This is where the statement of Senator Young comes in, because he said that where any party gained 50-plus per cent of the vote it should form a government. But in 1953 we got that percentage and, because of a gerrymander, could not form a government.
– That was under a Labor Party redistribution.
– No, it was in 1953, under the Playford Government. In March 1956 we find that the Labor Party obtained 47.37 per cent of the vote and the Liberal Party 36.69, the latter again forming the Government. In 1959 the figures were 49.35 per cent for the Labor Party and 36.95 per cent for the Liberal Party, which again formed a government. In March 1962 the Labor Party obtained 53.97 per cent of the vote, nearly 20 per cent more than the 34.5 1 per cent obtained by the Liberal Party, yet we still could not form a government.
Going on to 1965, we find that we had to obtain 55.04 per cent of the vote to win government in that State. That is the way in which the gerrymander worked, yet the Senator Youngs were completely silent. Turning to 1968, under Steele Hall’s leadership, the figures were 51.98 per cent for the Labor Party and 43.82 per cent for the Liberal Party. The latter formed a government, although we obtained 9 per cent more of the vote. Going on to 1970, we find that Labor obtained 52.14 per cent of the vote. That was the first time since 1965 that the Liberals, though not having a majority of the vote, failed to form a government. From then on, we formed a government in 1970. In 1973 we obtained 5 1.52 percent and the Liberals 39.79. In 1975 we obtained 46.32 per cent and the Liberals obtained 31.53 per cent. In September of last year, that great year when Mr Tonkin challenged Mr Dunstan to go to the people and take account of himself, the result was 5 1.64 per cent for the Labor Party and 4 1 .2 1 per cent for the Liberal Party- again a 10 per cent majority, but this time we won government.
We find hononourable senators coming into this place and criticising the last Senate election figures. They are saying that because they got so close in the overall figure for South Australia at the last election they were robbed of one seat in particular- yet nothing was said in all those years about the times when the Labor Party had a massive majority but could not form a government. I seek leave to incorporate that document in Hansard.
The document read as follows-
– I also seek leave to incorporate in Hansard the statement by Mr Dunstan on industrial relations to which I meant to refer earlier, and concerning which Senator Messner made such great play. He quoted the statement that Mr Dunstan had made in Victoria a week or two ago.
The document read as follows-
SPEECH BY THE PREMIER, MR DUNSTAN, AT MT ELIZA STAFF COLLEGE, MELBOURNE, MONDAY, 20th FEBRUARY 1978-INDUSTRIAL DEMOCRACY
The South Australian Government is committed to the principle that democracy only truly exists when citizens, as nearly as is practicable, are given an effective say in the decisions affecting their lives. At present, however, the vast majority of people have to forego their democratic rights when they clock on at work in the morning- and only resume them when they clock off at night.
Most people spend half their waking hours at work, where many of the important decisions affecting their lives occur.
It is obvious that what happens in the work place affects the material well being of people, the physical circumstances in which they find themselves. But it also affects employees health, their relationships with their fellow human beingsand society at large. Indeed, a recent study undertaken at Flinders University in South Australia shows that the people who are least happy at work are those who suffer more physical and mental illness.
What people do in their jobs can promote satisfaction or dissatisfaction, a feeling of involvement or apathy, a sense of being useful … or a sense of being an unnecessary appendage to a system.
It is because of this pervasive influence that our working environment has on our lives that my Government believes fundamental reforms should be brought about in the employment relationship. An essential aim of industrial democracy is to ensure that an employee can move out of the situation where he is merely the object of economic circumstances decided by someone else.
Like shareholders, employees have a substantial investment in the enterprise organisation in which they work. But instead of capital- to quote British trade union leader Clive Jenkins- ‘They invest their lives, their blood and their nervous energy’. I believe that employees should have a say in the decisions that affect their investment.
This may sound all very altruistic. But industrial democracy is a practical commonsense approach to improving the job satisfaction of employees and the efficiency and effectiveness of organisations in which they work.
Our research in South Australia has revealed that when people’s abilities and aptitudes are not fully tapped it will lead usually to lower levels of efficiency than are possible. This may be reflected in increased labour turnover and absenteeism, and a decrease in productivity. But that research also reveals that the majority of employees wish to contribute in one way or another to the formulation or making decisions that affect them in their workplace.
South Australia’s Tripartite Industrial Democracy Committeecomprised of leading employer, union and Government representatives- maintains that joint consultation, the delegation of responsibilities and employee involvement in the decision-making process will solve many problems because dissatisfied employees are given the opportunity to reduce the sources of dissatisfaction.
Essentially, then, industrial democracy is concerned with providing employees with the opportunity and the right to influence decisions within their work organisation. There are many forms industrial democracy programmes might take. Some of these relate to the workplace level, some to the factory or plant level, and others to the board level or the organisation as a whole.
My Government has not attempted to answer the question which is the appropriate way?’ because it feels the needs of different workplaces and work organisations and the needs of the people who work within them may differ considerably. However, we believe that representative systems like works councils, shop committees, joint consultative councils and joint management committees can be usefully involved in many areas. These would include the selection of new personnel, promotion, training, organisation, the allocation of tasks within branches and departments, the attendance time policy, the administration of safety, health and welfare policies, and the development of the work environment.
However, industrial democracy cannot be viewed in isolation. Account has to be taken of the reality of Australia ‘s industrial relations. As a result my Government believes there is a need to provide people with greater job securitywith accompanying measures such as redundancy payments, retraining and relocation schemes. These are important- for the workers will not see much point in concerning themselves with the quality of the job when that job itself is in jeopardy.
The South Australian Government also believes that employees at all levels should have more access to information concerning the operation and viability of the organisations in which they work. Free flow of information gives employees the opportunity to consider that which is important to them in a thorough and reasonable way.
Obviously there is a need for different approaches for the private and public sectors.
At the moment, as you are well aware, there is a general malaise throughout the manufacturing industry. There is also considerable uncertainty as a result of the structural changes being forced upon Australian industry by technical innovations.
Like the worker concerned about his job security, many firms are focussing their attention on questions of survival. They are often not responsive to initiating industrial democracy programmes during the present economic climate.
However, in South Australia my Government’s Unit for Industrial Democracy has been working closely with several private companies undertaking industrial democracy programmes.
In one, a large Adelaide joinery, semi-autonomous working groups have been established to carry out tasks within the joinery shop. In these groups, employees have control over all the immediate factors covering their work. Targets are set and boundary rules for the group’s activities are agreed to in consultation with management.
Within these limits the employee groups organise and control their work without direction supervision.
The joinery also has a Works Council where employee representatives meet occasionally to discuss and overcome problems.
They have experimented with the election of supervisors. They have become deeply involved with safety issues, with social welfare amenities, job training and factory lay out.
It is a programme where management, unions and employees are involved and satisfied with the results.
There is no hint of worker control. There are no employee directors on the board. But it is a form of industrial democracy that has worked to enhance the efficiency of the organisation in terms of productivity.
For example, in one particular project 500 hours were saved through employee suggestions. At the current labour rate that represents a handsome return.
The development of industrial democracy has also improved the employees lot.
They have a budget that they can spend without reference to management. Their work environment has improved.
Indeed, employees have taken up their new roles with interest and responsibility.
However, because of the current economic climate, there is no pressure being placed upon private sector organisations to undertake industrial democracy programmes. Indeed, my Government has always maintained that such programmes should be based on a consensus of all those involved, management, employee and unions. No major industrial democracy initiatives that involve structural changes will be brought about by legislation in the private sector until the 1980s.
However, during this term of Parliament I hope that some minor amendments will be made to appropriate statutes to facilitate freer access by employees- and shareholders- to company information, as well as provisions for greater job security.
In South Australia our main focus in the industrial democracy area is in the public sector. Unlike private industry, few public enterprises have been faced with redundancy problems. Indeed, several areas- including the State banks and the State Government Insurance Commission- are expanding their services. This creates a much more favourable climate for management, employees and unions to get together to develop meaningful programmes to bring about more democratic principles in the work force.
In South Australia there are 32 Government departments and a sizeable number of statutory authorities. Many employ large work forces compared with private industry.
But within the public sector it is important to distinguish between Government departments and statutory authorities.
As a result of our experiences with industrial democracy programmes in more than half of our departments, the Government is currently looking at the Public Service Act with a view to making some important changes.
In particular, we are examining the questions of the delegation of powers from the Public Service Board to individual departments, delegation from Permanent Heads to employees within departments, and ways of removing opportunities for any discriminatory practises to be taken against employees exercising what should be their democratic rights.
At present, in South Australia, is is not legally possible to have semi-autonomous work groups in the Public Service. Under the Act it is only possible to delegate to an officer, rather than a group of officers. Simply by pluralising the word ‘officer’ we could open up the opportunity for meaningful industrial democracy situations and semi-autonomous work groups to develop. This is one of the several minor- but significant changes we are considering.
We have had varying experiences with our Statutory Authorities in South Australia. In some, both management and employees have to date shown no real interest in or awareness of industrial democracy. In others, like the Fire Brigade and the State Government Insurance Commission, employees have shown considerable interest in being involved in industrial democracy initiatives.
The forms this interest takes varies considerably. In the South Australian Housing Trust employees have opted for involvement at the grass roots or section level.
Each section has devised its own system, suited to its particular needs and circumstances.
There is no overall representative system above the section level, and most staff committees choose to make recommendations to management rather than participate in making decisions.
However, Fire Brigade and Insurance Commission employees are asking for representation at the Board level. It is my Government’s long range policy to provide employees with one third of the representatives of boards of Statutory Authorities. During the term of this Parliament we will do all that we can to facilitate the wishes of employees that seek board representation. We will also be looking at access to information, statutory minimum rights for shop stewards, and the extension of on-the-job facilities for shop stewards.
There are other areas outside the public and private sectors that concern our Government. Last year 400 employees at Adelaide’s Minda Home- a home for the physically and mentally handicapped- elected worker directors to the board. However, it appears that under the Association of Incorporations Act it may not be proper for employees to have elected board representatives. My Government will amend this Act so that all legal impediments to the development of different forms of industrial democracy are removed.
Each of the measures I have mentioned should bring about a much more harmonious environment. I think it is worthwhile adding that South Australia already enjoys a much more favourable industrial relations situation than that of any other State. We have ten per cent of Australia ‘s industrial work force but last year we lost only 1.9 per cent of the days lost through disputes.
Today I have mentioned a number of legislative changes my Government is considering. Yet, we are not legislating for industrial democracy. The South Australian Government recognises that its industrial democracy policy must proceed and develop pragmatically. It must also be flexible- able to adapt to suit the individual needs of different organisations and groups of workers.
Any legislation will not be prescriptive. We will not lay down a blue print for industrial democracy and insist that it will ‘do the job’. Worthwhile changes in this area won’t be brought about by coercive means.
However, the South Australian Government is committed to removing legislative obstacles to industrial democracy. There is also a need for facilitative or ‘enabling’ legislation.
Using worker directors as an example, facilitative legislation would involve amending Statutory Authority Acts so that if a certain number of employees ask for a ballot to be conducted to determine whether or not employees wish to have board representation, then that ballot can legally take place. If a majority vote for representation then the Act would be worded in such a way that workers could proceed to elect a third of board representatives.
This is the sort of legislation that Denmark has used for worker directors and it appeals to my Government because it is facilitative rather than coercive.
At present public and private work organisations are often characterised by low level of trust, by the under utilisation of people’s abilities, and by procedures which neglect the human element and foster employee dissatisfaction.
I believe that industrial democracy programmes will help develop positive attitudes among directors, shareholders, management, employees and trade union officials about the aims and objectives of work organisations.
We recognise, however, that management and employees may be interested in industrial democracy for different reasons, but the absence of a common motive should not be seen as an obstacle.
A sincere and genuine implementation of an industrial democracy programme will improve job satisfaction and the efficiency and effectiveness of organisations.
I thank you for inviting me here today and I look forward to meeting many of you at our International Industrial Democracy Conference, to be held in Adelaide in May.
– I thank the Senate. I now turn to the matter of uranium and the comments made by Senator Young. He spoke, first of all, about Mr Dunstan ‘s change of heart on uranium policy. He did not tell us that last year a vote was taken in the Legislative Assembly and that the Liberal Party voted with the Labor Party for a motion that there should be no mining or export of uranium in South Australia until necessary safeguards were formulated. Of course, they have not yet been formulated. Senator Young omitted to tell us that. That appears in the Hansard.
He went on to talk about the exploration for uranium on Plumbago Station. If he read the South Australian State Hansard he would find that the statement by Mr Viner, which he quoted, was completely erroneous. No mention was made of sacred sites, to use Senator Young’s words. Mr Hudson completely exploded that statement in the State Parliament. If the honourable senator likes to read that State Hansard he will see that he was wrong in saying what he said. There are no sacred sites at all on Plumbago Station. Exploration for minerals has been occurring on Plumbago Station since 1945, when South Australia had a Liberal Government. But Senator Young decided to pick out just one mineral- uranium- and talk about that.
– I was talking about Roxby Downs.
– I will talk about Roxby Downs later.
– I was talking about Roxby Downs in relation to that. Be factual.
– I wiil quote Senator Young. His speech is recorded at page 174 of Hansard. He said:
Uranium exploration also is going on in the Olary province, as it is called, on Plumbago Station.
Then, still talking about Plumbago Station, he went on to say:
Senator Young then quoted the statement and it is in Hansard. Mr Viner ‘s statement contained the words ‘Aboriginal historic and sacred areas’. So I am quite correct. I am referring to Senator Young’s reference to Plumbago Station. I have not yet come to Roxby Downs. Mr Viner was talking about sacred sites in Plumbago Station. Senator Young quoted him.
– That is correct, but the whole speech revolved around Roxby Downs.
– Now we have an admission from Senator Young that his whole speech revolved round Roxby Downs. Yet he is shown in the Senate Hansard as specifically talking about Plumbago and quoting from a statement on Plumbago issued by Mr Viner which is also in Hansard.
– He has forgotten.
– I happened to be listening when Senator Young made that speech. I made some inquiries about it, and the fact is that there are no sacred sites at all on Plumbago Station. If the honourable senator likes to read the State Hansard he will see that Mr Hudson, the State Minister for Mines, has completely exploded Mr Viner ‘s statement. I do not now have the time to go into that. Time seems to run away.
The other matter to which I want to refer is Roxby Downs. Senator Young made great play of the value of the copper and uranium deposits on Roxby Downs; but he did not tell us that at the moment mines in South Australia are closing down because they are not viable; it is not financially viable to mine copper. There is a big copper mine a few miles from where I live, at Kanmantoo. It is on a care and maintenance basis because the price of copper is not right. All that is mined there is copper. The whole thing was set up; it was going. There were 150 people in the work force at Kanmantoo. But because the price is not right the mine has closed down. Yet Senator Young comes in here and says that it would be a great proposition to open the mine on Roxby Downs. He went on to say that it could be as big as Mount Isa, give or take a little. It cannot be. He was basing his whole argument on the fact that we should be mining and exporting uranium; that Roxby Downs would be a viable proposition if both copper and uranium could be mined there.
The Australian Atomic Energy Commission report tabled yesterday explodes that theory also. It is now not viable. The world demand for atomic energy and uranium itself is becoming less and less. Senator Young said, and has repeated, that Roxby Downs could become as big a copper mining venture as Mount Isa. A report on the uranium discoveries in South Australia was tabled in the South Australian Parliament on 6 December last year and appears on page 1191 of the House of Assembly Hansard. Mr Hudson answered a question from Mr Becker about uranium discoveries in South Australia. He had inserted in the Hansard a graph of the places where there have been discoveries. He said:
Current exploration drilling at Roxby Downs has indicated a very large deposit of combined copper-uranium mineralisation. Insufficient drilling has been done to make any meaningful reserve estimates.
Senator Young came in here and stated that Roxby Downs could be a bigger proposition than Mount Isa, which is the largest copper mining enterprise in the Commonwealth; yet the statistics show that sufficient drilling has not been done to ascertain what the reserves are.
– I said that it could be.
– Yes, the honourable senator said that it could be, but when one is dealing with matters such as this one must have specific figures. The same applies to Senator Messner. I was able to prove him wrong because I quoted the exact figures from the Bureau of Statistics. If Senator Young is going to come in here and state that the Roxby Downs enterprise is going to be as big as Mount Isa, give or take a bit, he will have to provide the actual figures. As the South Australian Minister is reported in Hansard as saying, as yet, sufficient drilling has not been carried out to ascertain what is there.
Senator Young’s statement also interests me as to why he is promoting Roxby Downs. Are the people who own it in line for big royalties if we are able to develop that area, or is it to be developed solely in the interests of the South Australian residents? That is what I would like Senator Young to tell us. By how much will the owners of Roxby Downs benefit if the State Government is prepared to go ahead with its development? I would hazard a guess that it was the Mines Department in South Australia, not private enterprise, which in the first place discovered the deposits there. It would be like the situation in respect of the Middleback Ranges, where there are huge iron ore deposits which the Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd utilises. Who found those deposits in the first place? The State Mines Department- not the private companies- found them, financed out of State taxes. I will ask the Minister who first found the traces of this heavy mineralisation on Roxby Downs. I am sure that it would have been the State Mines Department. Yet we find private enterprise then wanting to come in, as Senator Young has expounded, and derive huge benefits from it.
Time has just about run away from me, but in the couple of minutes that I have left I want to make a brief reference to the findings of the Australian Atomic Energy Commission which completely disprove Senator Young’s statement about Roxby Downs uranium being a great money spinner for the taxpayers of South Australia. I hope that when we debate this Atomic Energy Commission report Senator Young will be able to stand up and explain why he now maintains that there is great value there. Senator Young criticised the South Australian Government for not tabling a report of an investigation that it conducted. He said that the report should be tabled. But how long was the report of the Australian Atomic Energy Commission delayed before it was tabled in this Parliament? About nine months. He made no mention of the fact that this very important report should have been tabled in this Parliament last year, before the election, so that people could see that the mining of uranium is not the great money spinner and employer of labour that the present Government told the people of Australia it is. This is a matter into which I think we will have to go further in the ensuing months.
– Order! The honourable senator’s time has expired.
Motion (by Senator Donald Cameron) negatived:
That, under Standing Order 407a, Senator McLaren’s time be extended by 30 minutes.
Debate (on motion by Senator Scott) adjourned.
– by leave- On behalf of the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) I present a speech he made in the other place about three hours ago. I think all honourable senators have read it. I seek leave to have the document incorporated in Hansard.
The document read as follows-
On 14th July 1977, Sir John Kerr announced his intention to relinquish the office of GovernorGeneral. He made his decision because he believed the events of 1975 and the position into which he had been forced while serving as Governor-General of Australia had left some scars on the Australian body politic, which would be more quickly healed if he stepped down. Sir John protected the Australian people and Parliament according to the law, according to the Constitution and according to his duty as Governor-General.
The attempt of the Labor Government to stay in power in defiance of Parliament compelled his proper and inevitable dismissal of that Government. An executive governing without the sanction of the Parliament is the hallmark, not of a democracy, but of a dictatorship. His difficult decision gave the people the opportunity to vote and uphold the Parliamentary system. The people of Australia passed their clear judgment on these events and Sir John’s actions in the election of 1975. History will judge them just as clearly. It will support the actions Sir John Kerr was compelled to take in the extraordinary circumstances in which the Government of the day so reprehensibly placed him.
Australia, as a nation of free people, owes as much to the courage of Sir John Kerr as to any man in our history. Had he not acted as he did, had he not prevented the unconstitutional designs of the last Government being consummated, the shape of Australian democracy would have been twisted and distorted. Sir John’s action was opposed by a hostile and bitter minority. Division was caused by the statements of the then Leader of the Opposition, by Senator James McClelland and other members of the Labor Party who sought to make the GovernorGeneral a scapegoat for their own actions. Because of this unjustified bitterness, the office of the Governor-General became a matter of national controversy. Sir John recognised this- we all did.
He believed he could best serve Australia by standing aside, by allowing another to serve as Governor-General. This he did. His action was applauded. I believe his action was right, that it contributed to our nation ‘s healing process- to a return to normalcy.
In this Parliament two days ago, I drew attention to Sir John’s long and notable career of public service, and to the fact that both as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of New South Wales and as Governor-General, he would have been able to devote more of his life to serving Australia had not most unusual events intervened.
At the time of Sir John’s resignation, he said he looked towards new fields of constructive activity. It was clear that he still wished to serve this country in some other capacity where he could serve energetically but out of the public gaze. Recognizing Sir John’s desire to continue serving Australia, I, after consultation with my senior colleagues, offered him on behalf of the Government the opportunity to do so. This became possible after the Minister for Foreign Affairs wrote to me on 1 February, advising that in his judgment the Australian diplomatic posts at Los
Angeles. Bombay and UNESCO should be reopened. As a result of that advice from the Minister for Foreign Affairs and after consultation with my colleagues, the Government decided to offer Sir John the post of Ambassador to UNESCO.
The Government took this step in the firm belief that Sir John Kerr would fill the post with honour and as ably as any man available from within or without the public service. The Government believed that having served this nation honourably, Sir John should not be cast aside, relegated to the shadows, simply because he was forced by the Government of the day to make a difficult decision. The Government believed that he had earned the right to serve the nation quietly, at peace with himself, at peace with the nation- at peace with his family.
There were people in this community who were determined that this should not be so. Since his appointment as Ambassador to UNESCO, the attacks on him in the Parliament and attacks outside it have been renewed. Sir John Kerr, once having discharged his duty to the nation under the most difficult circumstances, has no wish to continue as the centre of public dispute, making it impossible for him and his family to live the normal life to which we are all entitled.
An Ambassador at UNESCO trying to carry out his functions under these conditions would find it impossible to discharge the responsibilities of his office.
Mr Speaker, 1 inform the House that I have today received a message from His Excellency Sir John Kerr who was today to have commenced duty as Australian Ambassador to UNESCO. Sir John has informed me that with great regret he feels he cannot take up this post. I read to the House the message that I have received:
My dear Prime Minister,
I have become aware since arriving in Paris of the attacks that have been made upon me and upon the Government as a result of my appointment as Australian Ambassador to UNESCO. These attacks have been made in the Parliament, under Parliamentary privilege, by members of the Opposition Parties and they have also been made in various branches of the media.
I am bound to say that the virulence of these attacks and their unfairness has shocked me. I have to contemplate serving in this appointment in the face of them, and possiblyperhaps likely- their continuation.
There is no doubt that in these circumstances, my ability successfully to undertake the work of Ambassador to UNESCO would be severely impaired. For most of the time I should be absent from Australia and, holding an Ambassadorial appointment, be unable to reply in the way that I would wish and to overcome them as I believe I did during my term as Governor-General. Beyond this, I have had to consider whether the purpose that led me to leave the Governor-Generalship earlier than the normal term will be defeated if controversy over this new appointment continues.
As you know I felt that by leaving the office of Governor-General when I did there would be an opportunity for remaining wounds to heal and controversy to die down. The importance of the Governor-Generalship and its protection stand high in my objectives. My consideration of all these matters has led me to the conclusion that I should ask to be relieved from taking the post of Australian Ambassador to UNESCO in which I would have begun duty today.
I believe there is too much at risk, greatly as the position would have attracted me personally and much as I feel I would have been able to contribute to Australia’s interests with UNESCO.
There is a further reason which concerns me in the decision I now make. That is the feelings of my wife and family, who with me have had to withstand the vilification and attack for part of my term as Governor-General, and now in prospect through a term as Ambassador to UNESCO. They with many others have stood by me without question through all that has happened. I am not prepared to demand more of them. I am not prepared to subject them to this further trial by innuendo and falsehood, even though my personal instinct is to stand firm and make certain once again that this tactic of persecution fails.
Prime Minister, I trust that you will understand the considerations that have led me to this decision. I appreciate the support I have had from the Government and your desire to allow me to continue to serve Australia in public office.
My decision, however, is made. It is with sadness and regret that I inform you of it.
I can only deplore the actions that led to this decision. The bitterness of the attack, especially in another chamber, since Sir John left the protection of the office of Governor-General, has shown that the Labor Party still blame him when in logic and in justice, they should be blaming themselves.
They are still seeking to find a scapegoat for their own misdeeds. The A.L.P.’s refusal to allow Sir John to serve his country in peace has been despicable; their actions and statements on this matter have served only to discredit themselves.
There have been some who have sought to confuse the high purpose of this man with the remuneration he would have received in his new post. If this is to be a point of principle, then it should equally have been applied to appointments such as that of Senator Murphy to the High Court, Mr Barnard to an ambassadorship.
The principle of taking a full salary while retaining their pension was established by the previous Labor Government. It is plain that this itself is not the major matter of dispute.
If there are others who believe Sir John’s actions in 1 975 to have been proper and necessary, but who now want to pass him by, who want to forget he ever existed and deny him the possibility of service; I only ask them to ask themselves how much justice, how much fairness there is in that view.
By his decision, Sir John Kerr leaves public life. A long and distinguished public career is thus ended. I respect his decision. I cannot argue with it.
To be an ambassador, constantly pilloried, constantly in the public glare, who had his family placed under intolerable stress, was something he did not want; he deserved better.
I feel shame for those events which led to this decision. I expected less meanness, more generosity and more understanding of a person who only wanted to serve his nation. 1 can only hope that all Australians will now show Sir John the decency and respect in his retirement that his great integrity and courage in public office have earned him.
Sir John Kerr can hold his head high as he leaves the public arena he has served so faithfully and well.
– I shall say no more than a few words in respect of the statement referred to by Senator Withers. He advised me of this statement this morning and I have had a chance, as have most honourable senators, to read it. I indicate that the Opposition supports entirely the remarks made by the Leader of the Parliamentary Labor Party, Mr Hayden, in the House of Representatives this morning.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I bring down the first report of the Standing Orders Committee for 1978.
Ordered that the report be printed.
Motion (by Senator Withers) agreed to:
That consideration of the report in Committee of the Whole be made an order of the day for the next day of sitting.
– I have received a message from the House of Representatives acquainting the Senate that, in accordance with the provisions of the Parliamentary Proceedings Broadcasting Act 1 946, in addition to Mr Speaker the following members of the House of Representatives have been appointed members of the Joint Committee on the Broadcasting of Parliamentary Proceedings, namely, Mr Donald Cameron, Mr Corbett, Mr Barry Jones, Mr Jull and Mr Scholes.
– I have received a message from the House of Representatives acquainting the Senate that, in accordance with the provisions of the Public Accounts Committee Act 1951, the following members of the House of Representatives have been appointed members of the Joint Committee on Public Accounts, namely, Mr Armitage, Mr Bradfield, Mr Cadman, Mr Connolly, Mr Barry Jones, Mr Lusher and Mr Martin.
– I have received a message from the House of Representatives acquainting the Senate that, in accordance with the provisions of the Public Works Committee Act 1 969, the following members of the House of Representatives have been appointed members of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works, namely, Mr Bungey, Mr Calder, Mr Humphreys, Mr James, Mr Keith Johnson and Mr Sainsbury.
– I rise to support the Governor-General’s Speech and to oppose the amendment moved by the Opposition to the motion for the AddressinReply. Before I say a few words on this matter I would like to congratulate Senator Haines. Unfortunately I was not able to be in the chamber when she spoke but I believe she spoke well and has successfully overcome her first hurdle in the chamber. We have just been listening to Senator McLaren. I have the feeling that we are somewhat indebted to Senators Messner. Young and Jessop for having engendered such an excited and emotional contribution. As I listened to Senator McLaren my only feeling was that his speech was in the form of a defence of his State Premier. If that is what he was doing, so far as excitement and emotion are concerned, if not with reference to fact, he was quite successful.
I have always regarded the Address-in-Reply debate as an opportunity for members of the Senate to reflect on a number of things, not to confine themselves to specific matters so much as to look around them and to make some general and, hopefully, constructive remarks. It is with that in mind that I propose to speak for a short while this afternoon. This is an opportunity to stir constructive thought. After all, I suppose the opportunity to do this is basically what a democracy is all about. The strength and permanence of the sort of society and political institution under which we live is relevant to the determination of people to reflect on what goes on around them, on their methods of government, and on their contribution and acceptance of the legislation under which they live. Consequently, I believe it is relevant to say that it is on the determination and capacity of people to collect information, sift it and analyse it, that the future of this free enterprise democracy, as of any free enterprise democracy around the world, is largely dependent.
In the course of speeches in the Senate during this debate many senators have been highly critical of what they term the bias of the media in its many forms. One of the best ways that we in a free society can control the media and offset the alleged bias is by a determination to get down to the facts and to analyse them. If we do this we are our own police force and we maintain and develop our own system. With these things in mind, I thought I might make some opening remarks by referring to the free enterprise democratic system, which is the system we have evolved in Australia. It is the system under which we operate and have developed to become a great and significant country in this part of the world and, indeed, in the world in general. I believe it is important that we should analyse the system under which we live, particularly at this stage. After three years of socialist experiment the Australian electorate has quite clearly and quite dramatically thrown overboard the socialist system. It has spoken strongly on two occasions in just over two years and it has endorsed the Australian way, the free enterprise democracy of people living within a legal system of restraint which they have developed themselves and which they impose themselves. Consequently, we must look at this system which we have developed and promote.
More and more Australians I believe are aware that there is no such thing as a socialist Utopia. That is a matter for pages of reading matter. It is a matter which I believe is little more than a figment of the imagination of some people. More and more Australians have become aware in recent years that the great state, portrayed as the great provider, the one to look after everybody, is really incapable of provision beyond the sort of provision that the people themselves make. If the State is to provide, it can do so only by taking from the people. This system has been revealed as unsatisfactory. The more one seeks of the State, the more it has to take from the people who form it. Consequently, one destroys initiative, the capacity of the State to produce and the chances of the people to improve their lot.
Australians have become fully aware of these things. They have also become aware that freedom of choice, freedom of association, freedom of speech and many other freedoms which are sometimes glibly spoken of can be found only in a democratic society. I believe that at long last the great mass of Australians are fully aware of this and of the fact that other systems develop into dictatorships of the Right or the Left.
Because of the clarity with which these attitudes have been revealed by Australians in recent years I feel it is important that we spend a few minutes trying to analyse the meaning of this system, its main facets and the yardsticks by which we measure it. It is an Australian way about which we can build, I am sure, a real measure of pride. Without a real measure of national pride, accompanied by a suitable modesty, this country, like any other, has little place to go. I suggest that the first of the basic facets of a free enterprise democracy may be the diginity and security of the family unit. This matter has been referred to by one or two speakers during the debate. I shall not dwell on it any length. It is within the family unit that a great deal of the character of a nation and the basic strength of a free society are formed. Consequently, it is enormously important that the dignity and security of that unit are assured. Perhaps that should be one of the major objectives of government. I suggest that within that unit there is no more important person than the woman, the mother or whatever she is called. I think it is important that society recognises that of all the provinces in which women are occupied- they vary- she makes no more important contribution to society than she does as the organiser, defender and promoter of the home.
The second basic facet to a free enterprise democracy revolves around equality of opportunity. We are, and have been greatly proud of the circumstance that Australia unquestionably has an equality of opportunity which is the equal, if not the superior, of that of any other country. Having noted the importance of equality of opportunity, let me hasten to say that it is false to assume that all people will therefore remain equal, that they even want to be equal or that they want to follow the same course. They merely need the freedom of choice to follow the course or the dream they choose. That is what equality of opportunity is all about. It is the provision of the freedom and capacity to follow whatever course one seeks to follow.
The third facet of a free enterprise democracy- the Australian system- relates to the profit motive. In some areas of the media and in some of the more radical institutions of this country profit is regarded as a dirty word. Yet without profit no country can survive. Without profit there is no investment, development or productivity, and there are no jobs. All that matters is that profit should be kept within a properly conceived and implemented legal system. Whether we like it or not, the profit motive goes closer than anything yet devised to satisfying that somewhat indefinable thing we call human nature. I believe it is basic to the system in which we operate.
Fourthly, I suggest that we should examine the real meaning of freedom in our society. That is another word which is bandied around. It becomes totally confused and distorted. We do all sorts of things in the name of freedom. Eventually we reach a point where we are confusing freedom with licence. The point I make is that if our sort of democracy is to survive we must recognise that freedom itself is a somewhat meaningless word unless it is freedom within a measure of discipline. It is beholden on us all to see that that measure of discipline is the discipline of the majority.
Fifthly, I think we should look at theory and relate it to our way of life. There is immense importance in pure theory, whether it is economic or social. It is a challenge to us to ensure that we do not become the slaves of ivory tower conceptions and that we do not live in a laboratory-type atmosphere. The real test of the theories under which our system operates will come when they are applied to the people at large. If they do not take account of human nature and all the varieties of human behaviour, they will not contribute to the furtherance of a free democratic society. I mention those few basic yardsticks of a free enterprise democracy, not because they are the only ones, but because I think it is worth while and proper that we should consider the system which we have developed and which has developed us. If we are to promote and improve that system- of course we can, for the simple reason that it is an evolutionary system and not a revolutionary one- we must understand the vehicle of which we talk.
I turn to one or two areas of real achievement referred to in the Governor-General’s Speech. I believe it is beholden on us to be aware of them. Unless we are aware of achievement, unless we are sure that there is evidence that we are moving in the right direction, we will retard the advent of real confidence. No part of the solution to the economic and social problems confronting this country is greater than that part relating to the development of confidence. Let us see whether in fact we have been achieving something in the last two mighty difficult years. Indeed, we have. I shall refer to one or two general areas and then to a few achievements in the area of primary industry itself.
I select the area of primary industry because of its basic nature and its peculiar characteristics in this country. It is basic to the country because it provides well in excess of 50 per cent of our total export earnings. So, it is very basic indeed. It is basic also because it provides, directly or indirectly, a living for some three million Australians. It is basic to this country because of all the commercial enterprises in this country, I suppose primary industry is the one with which wc are most richly endowed from a natural resources point of view. At the same time it has more problems than almost any other enterprise in this country. They include problems related to distance, freight costs, high internal costs, our own small internal markets including the fact that we have to find outside Australia 65 per cent to 95 per cent of the markets for most of our primary products and climate in this, the driest continent on earth. The vagaries of the climate and the vagaries of the market place make primary production a relatively difficult occupation.
The first of the achievements of which I believe all Australians should be proud is the achievement of reducing inflation in this country by more than 5 per cent in the last 12 months to a figure of 9 per cent. This, of course, is not low enough but it is real evidence at long last that we are on the track to bringing inflation to a point where employment once again will start to rise and to a point where confidence will come back into industry across the board because it will then be able to decide its course with relative security in the cost area. Up to this point and for some years now inflation has been at such a level that industry has found it extraordinarily difficult to predict anything cost-wise even in a threemonth to six-month period. In that sort of circumstance there is no hope of confidence, there is no hope of recovery, no hope of employment. So to the whole of Australian industry the control of inflation is a reality and it is an important part of the course back.
I should mention that we have introduced the most dramatic changes in income tax that have ever been introduced into the Australian economy. We have provided what is only a three-tier system and I am sure that many Australians have not yet grasped the significance of that change. It means that on taxable incomes up to $16,000 a year one rate applies. The rate is 32c in the dollar on incomes beyond $3,750 which averages out at 24c in the dollar on incomes up to $16,000. A rate of 46c in the dollar is applied to incomes between $16,000 and $32,000. The minimum tax rate for income above $32,000 has been reduced from 65 per cent to 60 per cent. The great significance of this is not just the cut in taxes- which is significant- but the fact that it enables Australians to use their initiative, drive and determination to do more than one job if they want to, to work harder or more effectively if they want to and if they can, but not be penalised. They can now earn significantly more income over a wide range without paying a higher rate of tax, and this is the sort of initiative that is really needed in this country. The tax reforms that have been introduced are the beginning of the reestablishment of that sort of initiative.
Referable to primary industry, I should mention the importance of the alterations to income tax averaging. The upper limit of $16,000 has been abolished and taxpayers are now able to move in or out of the tax averaging system annually. The significance of this is that no one in primary industry will be paying more tax on a specific income than anybody else in the community on the same income. That has not always been the case. An achievement has been the ultimate abolition of the estate duty and gift duty. The abolition of estate duty will have, I am sure, a greater significance over a period of time than is imagined because this form of tax has in the past caused the dismemberment of economic units, has driven people off the land and out of other commercial enterprises and with their departure generations of knowledge has been lost; and that son of thing Australia and Australians cannot afford. The abolition of this duty will play a considerable pan in maintaining a measure of stability and increasing initiative and productivity across a wide range of economic activity. More than that, it will mean that vast amounts of assets that have had to be kept in a liquid or semi-liquid form because of the threat of this type of taxation can now find their way into long-term developmental investment and with that sort of thing not only will the productive capacity of this country improve but also along with it naturally will come job opportunities. As I am a New South Welshman it is to be hoped that the Premier of our State, Mr Wran, will recognise now, that he is confronted with estate duty abolition to the north and to the south of his State and also in the Federal scene, that to save jobs and to pass on justice to the people of New South Wales he too must see fit to abolish that duty.
I do not intend to stride across the range of primary industry but I draw the attention of the Senate to the achievements of the Government in a short two years- two difficult years in various fields. We have been able to increase by 20 per cent plus the base price of wool. We have increased the first payment on wheat by 20 per cent. We have re-introduced the superphosphate bounty and in spite of the abuse the Government received from certain quarters from time to time there is no Australian primary producer who would say that it was a bad thing to reintroduce the bounty or would say that it was irrelevant to increasing the productive capacity of primary producing Australians because, quite clearly, it does all those things. We have reintroduced an investment allowance which again in spite of criticism from some sources has in fact greatly increased activity in the machinery industry and the service industry and has improved the productive capacity of rural Australia very significantly in the last 12 to 24 months.
After long and difficult negotiations we have introduced the Australian Meat and Livestock Corporation which hopefully will play a significant part in the recovery of the beef industry in this country. Hopefully it will be able to implement a form of reserve or base price in that industry, as has already been implemented in the wool and wheat industries. We are about to introduce a fuel equalisation scheme and a rural bank. 1 could go on listing our accomplishments, which are accomplishments of some real measure and of real importance to the economy across the board.
Let me outline one or two of my hopes for the next two to three years. I believe and hope that we will be able to establish a telephone charge system which will improve the lot of extrametropolitan Australia. This is one of the most significant areas in which cost delays the development of that massive area which ultimately must become the crux of the Australian economy. In the past 10 to 12 years we have seen in my State a significant growth in decentralisation. I believe that that is going to be a continuing and increasing process. The introduction of rural telephone charges which are at least relative to the charges in the capital cities is an essential part of that process. I hope that, difficult though it might be, in the next few years we shall achieve some real success in equalising telephone charges.
Another matter which interests me and which I hope will be successfully legislated for in the coming months is the introduction of total tax deductibility- as once applied- for projects which are directed towards the conservation of water, soil and fodder. I refer again to what I said of Australia’s climatic problems. I refer again also to the fact that primary industry is the greatest natural enterprise that Australians can follow. It probably has the greatest potential of any enterprise in this country. Very relevant to the success of primary industry is the conservation of water, soil and fodder. If we were to encourage such conservation it would encourage Australians to increase their productivity, to increase their capacity to employ people and to increase their capacity to serve a useful purpose in the family of nations.
Might I say as an individual that I am and always have been a supporter of organised marketing of primary produce. I believe that perhaps in the relatively near future it might be necessary to introduce the 1973 recommendations of the Australian Wool Corporation relating to wool marketing, or that it might be necessary to introduce at least a close compromise. I believe that it has been clearly established, ironic though it might be, that the survival of the individual in primary producing Australia is related to his capacity and determination to get behind largescale marketing authorities in which he has a very significant role to play. I trust that the development which has occurred in these organisations and their determination to do just this will continue, along with the control of the tariff situation. There is no doubt that tariffs add very significantly indeed to the cost structure of primary producing Australia. But it is significant that as we adjust tariffs across the board we should seek desperately to get a freer tariff situation among our potential markets. One of the tragedies of the trading world today is the fact that so many parts of it are locked away behind massive tariff walls which make the tariffs imposed in Australia seem relatively small.
I wish to refer just briefly to one or two elements which I believe concern us all. They certainly should concern us all. I refer to unemployment, education and, ultimately, to national pride. Unemployment is still with us and certainly the level is unacceptably high. It has been used as an emotional argument in two general election campaigns but the argument has failed. That does not mean that we must cease to grapple with the basic problem of unemployment. We have to become aware of what that basic problem relates to. It relates to a number of things. For instance, it relates to education. There is a need for us to rekindle what one might call the ‘work ethic’ because around the world, particularly the developing world, the work ethic exists. Around the world today there is a great determination to pursue excellence. Australia will fall behind if Australians do not start to pursue excellence across the whole canvas of activity.
Unemployment is in no small measure the legacy of its creator. I believe and most Australians now believe that basically the creator of unemployment has been the leaden hand of socialism. The refusal to work and to grab opportunity has led a significant number of Australians into a state of mind in which they assume that the state is there merely to provide. As I said earlier in my remarks, the state can only provide what it takes from the people. The more it takes from the people the less is their incentive to get on with their job of production. There is no doubt that a contributor to unemployment has been the constant effort of trade unions, particularly the radical elements of trade unions, to seek higher and higher wages and better and better conditions regardless of productivity and the capacity of an economy to pay. This has disadvantaged the Australian economy. As Government supporters in this place and certainly in the other place have said from time to time, the constant pressure of wages has been one of the most significant causes of the loss of jobs and job opportunities in this country. Without question, it has placed a significant brake on opportunity.
It would be remiss of me to suggest that the pursuit of excellence and attacking the problems which confront us are just challenges to be met by labour and the unions. They are equally challenges to management. I hope that in the next year or two or three management and labour will be seen to come together, in a common cause to get on with the job of making this country reach its potential- a potential which is quite enormous for its citizens as individuals and for the country as a contributor to its neighbours and, indeed, to nations around the world. I conclude my remarks by concentrating on the concept of us all because in Australia we are a closely and finely integrated community. There is a tremendous movement in the Australian community, a freedom of movement, a real integration. Equally there is in Australia an interdependence, and at long last a significant number of Australians is recognising that beyond their organisations, their unions and their associations lies an absolute necessity to recognise that without success across the board there will be no success. It is my hope that in the years which lie ahead of us we will see a recognition of this fact, we will see this country once again establish the national pride which was once typical of it and which is basic to its ultimate development and to reaching its ultimate potential.
– I rise in this Address-in-Reply debate to support the amendment moved by my leader but, as usual, I can see my role as looking at the implications for the Northern Territory of the Governor-General’s Speech. I make no apology for that.. It is very important at this time of critical constitutional development in the Northern Territory that we- my colleague, Senator Kilgariff, and I- should be responsible for putting in front of the Senate and the Government the needs and problems of the Northern Territory. However, before I look at them I would congratulate Senator Haines on her maiden speech and trust that her term in the Senate, though short, will be very satisfying. My colleagues tell me that the sixmonth point in a Senate career is very much like the seventh year of marriage- there are certain problems involved. Senator Haines will only have six months and I will be interested to hear her comments.
The second thing I would like to do is make some general observations before I move on to look at the implications for the Northern Territory of the Speech. I look first at the reactions to the Governor-General’s Speech both in the other place and here, and it is most interesting to me as a comparative newcomer to see how many people in both places have drawn attention to the disenchantment with Parliament both inside and outside the Parliament. Senator Chaney in what I thought to be a brilliant speech drew attention to an article by a columnist headed The Canberra Farce is on Again’. He reminded us that many of us have had the same sort of experience in our own electorates where people have come to us and indicated that they think the whole thing is a bit of a farce. In the latest edition of the Australian Financial Review I noticed this comment:
Doubtless there are some who consider that Parliament should be formally consigned to the scrap heap, where it is at present making its intellectual home.
The article goes on as a second thought:
If that happens we are throwing a lot away. Parliament is, or at least it should be, one of the foundation stones of our society.
It would be fair to say that this feeling that there is a good deal of disenchantment with the Parliament outside the Parliament has been balanced up and I notice that the honourable member for Hindmarsh, Mr Clyde Cameron, made a comment which, one should say, was made in response to an interjection and so was an offthecuff comment. He said in the other place:
It has been the people’s respect for the institution of Parliament that has saved us from the violence of revolution and the law of the street. It has been nothing else.
Many of the people inside the Parliament who have made comments about the Parliament itself- I am speaking of members in the other place and senators here- are critical of the power of the Executive, and much has been said about this. By the ‘Executive’ we mean the group which runs the country at the present time. This in turn means that Parliament itself has lost some of its relevance and that as a further extension of this the back benchers have lost the opportunity to make any contribution to the decision making and government of the country. The honourable member for Hindmarsh in the other place said:
Unless something is done to change the relationship between the Parliament and the Executive arm of government the people will not be entitled to continue to have the faith they now have in the Parliament, because the Parliament will be an expensive rubber stamp that ought to be cast to one side.
Professor Reid, who was quoted at length by Senator Chaney in his contribution to this debate, drew attention to this matter also when he made this statement:
In the wake of Parliament’s diminishing role in government in the last 30 years there has been a dramatic expansion in the role of the Executive Government and with it the status and power of Ministers of State, viz-a-viz nonministerial members of Parliament.
Professor Reid went on to comment on the doctrine of ministerial responsibility and made the suggestion that it was very desirable that Ministers should be accountable for their departments and their portfolios. He saw a definite need for Parliament to be able to hold Ministers responsible, to be able to call them to task for the actions of the departments within their portfoliosnot to see them removed in some way. He spoke at some length on this issue when he addressed a conference in January of this year. At that time in the speech quoted by Senator Chaney he went on to speak about the place of advisers and the Public Service, mentioning in particular the heads of departments and the fact that many heads of departments really feel that they run the show and adopt the attitude: ‘Ministers may come and Ministers may go but I will run my department as I want to’. Some Ministers allow this sort of thing; many do not. Many Ministers take full responsibility for and full charge of their departments, but the point is made that the public generally feels that the Public Service, from its head down to those who meet the people in the street, really runs the show and that the Minister is told what to do by these people behind the scenes. Reid also drew attention to the dangers in the statutory corporation. He pointed out that there are many advantages but one of the dangers in the context of what we are speaking about at the moment is allowing Ministers or governments to dodge their responsibilities by adopting the attitude that if there is something difficult to be done give it to a statutory authority so that if the decision is not a popular one the public will react against the authority rather than against the Minister or government. Reid summed up by saying this:
Australia therefore in the last 30 years has witnessed a national Parliament static in its size but declining in its authority and in its capacity to cope with modern government. However, over the same period the nation has developed an Executive Government vastly expanded in power, personnel, organisational variety and in its capacity to direct the modern state.
Speakers both in the other place and in this chamber have drawn attention to the lack of credibility of members and senators in the public view, and Senator Chaney when commenting on this aspect asked us to think back on our own experience. I remember one experience that I had very early in my political career when after a meeting one of the members of the audience came to me and said: ‘You say this but what do you really believe?’ I felt then as I feel now that this is perhaps the greatest insult that can be directed at anyone who stands in front of the public. Nevertheless, there are some grounds for this attitude. There are people who stand in public and say things which they do not really believe. There are people who stand in public and say things and then come into the chamber and say something else. I am reminded of a tape recording that was presented to the Law Reform Commission by a clan leader from Yirrkala, a man by the name of Burramurra. He made comments along these lines: ‘Politicians come to our place’- he named them but I will not name them- ‘and they say one thing to us here and then they go back into Parliament and say something different. We do not trust these people, we do not want these people’. Towards the end of the tape, and he spoke at great length on this matter because trust appears to have more relevance to an Aboriginal than it does to some Europeans, he stressed his respect for the politicians who said one thing at the mission and the same thing in Parliament.
Various suggestions have been made on the way in which we might improve the situation that has been described by Reid and others, and the first is to restore the power of the House of Representatives. Professor Reid had this comment to make in his speech in January:
It is becoming fashionable to say that representative democracy has failed us. The truth is, we have really not tried to make it work. Our major representative institution under the Constitution- the House of Representativessuffers from three-quarters of a century of neglect. And we, the governed, are the losers. An ailing House of Representatives affects adversely the political education of all of us, and it has restrictive effects upon the capacities of our Ministers of State to keep abreast of the complex problems of government.
A suggestion which has come from this chamber has been to extend the committee system. Honourable senators might recall that Senator Chaney, in his recommendations, suggested that all legislation might be subjected to the same sort of scrutiny as is given to delegated legislation. Incidentally, I notice that in today’s Canberra Times Mr Warden, writing in his Gang Gang column, made this comment:
I am not sure whether those of us who sit around and support the committee system would go along with the full extent of Mr Warden’s suggestion. Honourable senators might recall that Senator Rae, in his discussion on the committee system, said that that was where the real work was done. He said that the real work of the Senate is not done in the chamber but in committees. There was a general feeling, which must be of some disillusionment to the general public, that debating in the Senate is the least important part of our duties. During the years a suggestion has been made that we look at the possibility of producing Green Papers to enable the public to discuss measures before they become legislation. To me, this is an excellent idea but one which has not been given a great deal of support. Although many people claim that they will support Green Papers and that we will have more open government, nothing much seems to happen to that suggestion.
My suggestion as a relative newcomer- it is probably an impertinence- is that our committees ought to discuss subjects before Bills are presented. There are some areas, such as Aboriginal affairs, in which I am particularly interested, which have a great deal of acceptance to both sides of the chamber. We might almost say that there is a bipartisan approach to Aboriginal affairs. Surely it would be much more sensible to use the resources which sit on both sides of the chamber to formulate a Bill. We can sit around and come up with a Bill which is in the best interests of the Aboriginal people. We might think back to the fantastic number of amendments which came from both sides of the chamber when the Northern Territory (Aboriginal Land Rights) Bill was debated. I think the Government had 30-odd amendments and the Opposition had 40-odd amendments. Surely this situation could have been avoided if we had been able to get together beforehand and talk about what would be a desirable Bill in terms of land rights.
Another suggestion I make in a very small way is that we ought to cut out some of the pointless debate. If we all agree that what we contribute by the standard of speaking in this place is of little importance and little value- I hope not of little relevance- surely there is little point in discussing in the chamber Bills on which both parties agree. We ought to be able to say: ‘This is a good Bill. Let it go through’. Then we could get down to discussing Bills which are not good or about which there is some difference of opinion. Many more suggestions could be made, but I mention only these few.
There is a problem in making these suggestions. During the short time I have been a senator I have made such comments to my colleagues. I have suggested to them that there ought to be some modifications and that perhaps some of the things we were doing were not quite right. I was very smartly put back in my place as being very naive and ingenuous. I was told: ‘You should have been here from 1972 to 1975. They’-there will be no prize for guessing who ‘they’ areworked every trick in the book’. Perhaps that situation existed. I can only take their word for it. The suggestion is that every attempt was made to block legislation. Every opportunity was taken to frustrate what the Government of the day was trying to do. One does not have to be a very keen historian to support the general concept of what I was told. The same reaction, I understand, has been put forward to the olive branch suggestion which came in the other place from the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser). He suggested that he would hold out the olive branch, that we ought to stop fighting and get on with the job of government. People in the other place came back and said: ‘What about your actions from 1972 to 1975?’ So I wonder, in my own naivety, whether the situation might be, as Bunyan stated:
I see that saying and doing are two things and hereafter I shall better observe the distinction.
Some men never spake a wise word, yet do wisely; some on the other side do never a wise deed, and yet speak wisely.
I am not challenging the sincerity of honourable senators who have spoken, but I use a colloquialism: If we are really dinkum about what we are saying, then let us see some steps towards positive action. Let us see a change of action. Let us have some thoughts coming forward, some ideas for open government. Let us look at the idea of consensus decision through discussion. The other topic I want to look at is the concept of mandate. I am prompted to do so by this comment in the Governor-General ‘s Speech:
This 31st Parliament assembles following general elections in which Australians have returned my Government with a majority surpassed only once before. My Government ‘s resolve is strengthened by this decisive expression of the people’s conviction that the basic direction of the Government ‘s policies reflects their aspirations and interests.
Senator Haines reminded us in her maiden speech that at the last House of Representatives election 48 per cent of the population supported the Government. I understand that means that 52 per cent did not support the Government’s policies. The figures for the Senate show that 46 per cent of the population supported the Government ‘s policies which, according to my arithmetic, means that 54 per cent did not. I do not wish to talk about figures. It is the principle which I see as important. I maintain that the mandate concept which is used here and which is used in the Northern Territory is particularly dangerous. It means that the Government claims that everybody who voted for the coalition parties in December last year supported Kerr’s action on 11 November 1975; everyone who voted for the coalition parties last year supported every plank of the coalition platform; everyone who voted for the coalition parties in December of last year supported every action of the Government in 1976-77. This is arrant nonsense. Not all members of the coalition support every action taken by the Government in 1976-77. On at least two occasions people crossed the floor in this place, and there have been criticisms in the other place about what the Government has done. So it is nonsense to talk about a mandate because the Government has this wonderful majority.
The fact is that we do not know why people vote as they do. I think that is fair comment. It is very difficult in Australia, more difficult than it is in the United States and the United Kingdom where studies have been done, to find out why people vote in a particular way. We think we know some reasons. We think we know that some Australian Labor Party supporters vote pretty much as a group. We think we know that there are coalition supporters who vote as a group. We think we know that there are traditional swingers- if I can use the word traditionalin the sense that these people oscillate between elections. Then there are two other minor groups. One group will move from a major party to a minor party. We saw the effect of this in the election in December 1 977. Another very much smaller group will move from the major party to the major party.
We do not know why they do this. Certainly there are many factors which affect each of these individual groups. The first has already been mentioned by one honourable senator this afternoon, and that is the influence of the media. I do not mean an influence during the campaign time but throughout the whole time. The Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Withers) indicated to us yesterday that a newspaper called the Australian Financial Review encouraged everyone to vote Labor. I do not see that situation in the Australian Financial Review, but that is his idea. He feels that that newspaper is encouraging people to vote Labor. There is the influence of advertising during the campaign itself. I do not think we need to go into that matter. We know that politicians or parties are sold in very much the same way as soap is sold. The more money one can pour in and the more effective is one ‘s campaign, the more return one will get for one’s expenditure. Another facet which has some effect and some influence is perhaps a small piece of policy announced during the campaign. There is a suggestion that the hip pocket reaction to the tax proposals put forward by Labor in December last year was a critical factor in Labor’s defeat. That was one small part of Labor’s entire policy.
There is the influence of biased reporting, and there are plenty examples of that. During the last five or six years the Australian Journalist Association has said that its members must be careful about this. Their professional standing has been attacked, and rightly so, because of the way in which some of them have acted. Many members rebelled against that situation and left some of the major newspapers because they felt they could not continue in their profession under the restraints that were imposed upon them. Another factor is the influence of personal vendettas against a person, either within parties or from outside parties. No mention is made of broad policy issues, no mention of what Professor Reid calls the means, no evidence to suggest that the policy of either party greatly affects the result of a campaign. The point I am trying to stress is that numbers do not give a mandate to policy, and I think that has to be stressed very strongly. We cannot say simply because the numbers are there that the mandate we have been given allows us to go ahead, believing that everyone out in the field accepts every plank of our policy, supports everything we did in 1976 and 1977, and so on. I believe that that has been recognised by the Government. Senator Missen in his contribution made this comment:
We as a Government have been elected by a very strong majority and that is an important thing. I acknowledge that this does not mean that governments should just make up their own minds and parliaments meekly follow.
In his Speech the Governor-General was made to say:
While the objectives my Government has set itself have been endorsed unequivocally by the majority of the Australian people, my Government is determined to act as a Government of the whole and not a Government for the majority alone.
As I said earlier, we could refer back to the Greeks and say here as Seneca did in those days: Prove your words by your deeds.’ I might say in passing that an interesting observation has been made by Mr MacDonald of the Federation of Australian Commercial Television Stations. When talking about political campaigning he said that he would apply the same principle to politicians and political campaigns as he did to other advertising. He would suggest that policy speeches should be challenged if they were not implemented and that every politician who made a promise on television should be taken to court if that promise was not carried out. That is an interesting thought when we look back on the policy speeches that have been made over the last few years.
- Senator, was Seneca not a Greek but a Roman?
-You would know more about that than I, Senator Baume.
– I do not know. I am asking the question. You are quoting him.
– I am, yes. Seneca said it. If he was a Roman, then I am quite happy to bend to Senator Baume if he feels that that is a relevant and more important part of my speech. I repeat the comment: ‘Prove your words by your deeds.’ It does not matter much who said it. The Government has the majority, we admit that freely, but let us see some Green Papers, let us see more use made of the committee system. Let us see more conference with interested parties. Let us have the open government that both sides talk about. If we can, let us avoid the cynical we’ve got the numbers’ approach and let us see open government.
I move now to a consideration of some of the implications for the Northern Territory of the Governor-General’s Speech. In that speech the Governor-General was made to say:
This Government ‘s economic policies will continue to be based on: Rigorous restraint of Government expenditure so as to provide for longer term expansion in the private sector.
That is a subject on which I have spoken a great deal over the last two years. I speak now of the Northern Territory and what has happened there as a rigorous restraint on government expenditure. Firstly, there has been a complete stagnation of the Northern Territory economy. Businesses have gone broke. There has been the sort of personal hardship that the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) was so eloquent about in 1974, and there has been some of the greatest unemployment since the depression. I can assure Senator Scott that the heavy hand of socialism had nothing to do with the unemployment in the Northern Territory. It was the rigorous cutbacks in government expenditure that caused it. But I have canvassed all of these comments before in open debate and in urgency debates. The Government will not realise that it is a fallacy to suggest that the cutting back of expenditure in the public sector will cause the private sector to take up the slack. The Northern Territory is living proof of this. But the Government will not see that. Most economists that we read about agree with that, although certainly not those who support the Government. I do not want to go into all the arguments again.
I have talked about the multiplier and about how important it is in the community. I was pleased to see that Mr Keith Johnson, the honourable member for Burke in the other place, when talking about the Governor-General’s Speech had this to say:
Is the Government completely unaware that the biggest single purchaser in the Australian community is the Australian Government itself? Is the Government completely unaware that it has a major and significant role in the development and construction of the infrastructure needed to allow for the expansion of our nation? Has the Government overlooked the fact that government purchases are made from private suppliers? Does the Government not know that public works are carried out by private contractors? The Government’s argument is without logic or even common sense.
The Government appears to have recognised what Mr Keith Johnson and I have said when in the printed Speech it is stated:
A thriving and prosperous small business community is an essential part of a well-balanced economy.
We could not agree more. But it is quite obvious that in the Northern Territory, and I am sure in other places but I speak only of the Northern Territory, we cannot have a thriving and prosperous small business community without government expenditure. Cutbacks in staff have also exacerbated the situation in the Northern Territory. People have less money to spend and so there is a further slow down. There has also been a drop in the quality of services offered by the various departments, and the Minister for Social Security (Senator Guilfoyle) has commented before on this when I have drawn it to her attention. These arguments have been canvassed already in this place.
I move now to the employment and training schemes. In the Speech it is stated:
My Government will continue to place a high priority on employment and training schemes, particularly those which increase young people’s skills, and enable them to take job opportunities as they arise.
I could not agree more that we need employment and training schemes as a long-term goal. When the economy does come back to normal we are going to need tradesmen, we are going to need a full balance of tradesmen, and we are going to need apprentices in their first, second, third and perhaps fourth years of training. At this stage we cannot afford to cut off apprenticeships. Senator Wright during the Estimates Committee meetings spoke most eloquently about the need for apprentices and was highly critical of his own Government because it had cut back on the number of apprentices taken into the government service. In the Northern Territory the situation is much the same. I must commend the Department of Construction in the Northern Territory for its activity, but the rest of the departments lag badly in this matter of having a constant supply of apprentices to carry on the training. Those departments have made no real attempt, and in fact the Apprenticeship Board in the Northern Territory has been moved to complain to the government departments that they are not doing their bit to keep young people employed and carrying on training. We have to be very careful that the schemes which are introduced do not simply provide cheap labour for some stores or organisations. There have been reports in the Northern Territory of some organisations which take on people every six months, and I do not think that I need to develop that situation. We know that the training is for a six-month period and that the organisations are paid by the Government to take on those people for six months.
I commend the Commonwealth Employment Service youth employment program, as I have done before, but I again make the point that training is valuable but employment opportunity is the key to the whole problem. I do not see any evidence whatsoever in the Governor-General ‘s Speech of any steps in the direction of creating employment.
I move now to the proclamation of the 200-mile fishing zone. In the GovernorGeneral ‘s Speech these words appear.
Legislation will be introduced to enable the proclamation of the Australian fishing zone covering all living marine resources out to 200 nautical miles.
The question that one must ask at the present time, when there has been so much comment about surveillance, is this: How on earth are we going to patrol our 200-mile limit? It is patently clear that we have no hope of patrolling our present 12-mile limit. I well remember one of the clan leaders from Yirrkala, a man called Daymbalipu Munungurr, speaking to us about the number of foreign vessels coming in around the coast of the Northern Territory to fish illegally. He threw his arms wide and said: ‘At night it looks like a city. There is nothing we can do and the police cannot help’. He went on to describe how they- they being the Aboriginal people of the area and he being the clan leader responsible for the area- would go out in aluminium boats to try to do something about it. They would signal for the police to come but by the time the police arrived the fishermen would have gone. Surveillance is well and truly in the news at the present time, not only in relation to fishing but also in relation to narcotics and the possibility of exotic diseases being brought in. In the chamber this morning reference was made to the comments of a Department of Transport officer that two planes a day are moving into the Northern Territory. There is no doubt in my mind. I differ from Mr Killen on this matter; I see the Department of Defence as having a distinct responsibility in this area. There seems to be no reason why that Department cannot undertake meaningful training, instead of simulated training as at present. I have already made public comment about the value of having Aboriginal assistants who could help with this project. I understand that at present the Northern Territory Legislative Assembly is examining a proposal to provide grassroots level coastal and inland surveillance. According to a newspaper report an organisation to be called the Northern Territory Patrol Service will be designed to provide a relatively unsophisticated surveillance operation, augmenting the more sophisticated surveillance by the other services, particularly the Navy and the Royal Australian Air Force.
It is interesting that, 1 8 years ago, this same project was tried. The operation was begun and certain people were trained. It was highly successful in the first few months but, according to a report, the rangers were eventually allowed to lapse into oblivion, mainly because no money had been made available to pay them and, to a lesser extent, simply because they were not given the sort of work they were meant to do. Mr Killen has made the point that the defence forces are not the police forces. I totally disagree. If we have illegal entry to our land, if we have illegal intrusion, we need our defence forces to protect us from it. This morning, in answer to a question, one Minister spoke of the present dangers in the Northern Territory. I would suggest that it would be economically sound to use the defence forces to carry out this most important task.
I turn now to the question of assistance to beef producers, which comes under the heading assistance in the rural area. There is not much encouragement for Northern Territory producers in what the Governor-General has said. The Government fails to appreciate that the beef producers of the Northern Territory are in a quite different situation from those in the southern
States. Being basically a monoculture, the Northern Territory beef industry involves a different method of operation and needs a different form of assistance. The Australian Rural Bank, being a lender of last resort, will not help the Northern Territory producers one little bit. It is unfair of the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Sinclair), or his representative in this place, to say that the Australian Rural Bank will prove able to offer any support to the people of the Northern Territory when they cannot meet the criteria and the proposed assistance will in fact mean no extra money for them.
The people of the Territory will be disappointed also with the fuel freight subsidy. It is not as beneficial as they were led to believe during the speeches that were made on the campaign trail. They are not happy with the beef subsidy, so those who are in the beef producing industry of the Territory are not going to be very happy. I suggest strongly that a full investigation of that industry be conducted; that we examine its problems, its conditions of work, the social difficulties faced by those who own properties, by those who work on the properties and so on. Perhaps Mr Adermann, now that he has joint responsibility as Minister for the Northern Territory and Minister Assisting the Minister for Primary Industry, will encourage the Minister to examine closely the Northern Territory beef industry. Such action will be most welcome. In the GovernorGeneral ‘s Speech we read:
My Government will work to improve the quality of education at all levels.
I am pleased to comment on this and am sorry that the Minister for Education (Senator Carrick) has left the chamber. This field is, of course, his responsibility and he knows of my interest in it. There is certainly plenty of room for improvement in the Northern Territory. The people of that area feel that it is important; that there is need for improvement. Vast numbers of them send their children away to secondary schools. The Director-General of Education must also think that it is important, that there is room for improvement. He sends three of his own primary school age children to England for their education. There has been no improvement in class sizes since 1973, although in typical fashion- a matter to which I drew attention last year- the dodge will be effected of moving 100 staff positions out of the Guidance and Special Services Section into the schools to make it look as if more staff are being provided. There will in fact be no new staff provided: the people are already there doing the work, but have simply not been counted in the staff-student ratio. They will now be counted because the number of children has risen, so perhaps we can keep the level the same.
The repair and maintenance of Aboriginal schools is another subject on which we have commented previously. It is still a source of complaint. In fact, some of the situations in the Aboriginal communities have to be seen to be believed. The Darwin Community College is not meeting the needs of the community. Classes have had to be cut. There is a shortage of money and staff. Fees have been raised quite dramatically this year; yet leisure classes are still filled within a few minutes of opening. A class will be advertised and all available places filled within five or 10 minutes of the opening of applications. This is a good thing, but it means that those who are behind in the queue are going to miss out. Despite this, no additional classes are proposed.
The situation in the apprentice field is just as bad as it ever was. More than 80 apprentices are still going outside of the Territory for their training. The Minister was apprised of the situation and he asked the Community College to give priority to apprentices but, of course, he did not provide any more money, so nothing could be done. The College sets its priorities. Of course it has a responsibility. Hopefully, some of the $250m that is to be set aside for technical and further education will be applied to improving this situation. There is a glimmer of light, and I am sure that Senators Davidson and Martin, as well as other senators on both sides of the chamber, will be pleased to learn that further assistance will be provided for the education of isolated children. I assure the Minister that already there are available some very good guidelines and that, if these are followed, the situation will improve.
I move now to that passage of the GovernorGeneral’s Speech in which he referred to the Aborigines in these terms:
Emphasis will be given to assisting Aboriginals to become more self-sufficient and acquire the skills to manage their own affairs.
This is a commendable aim, but after the recent Maningrida situation one must ask how this is to be done. There is many a slip ‘twixt the cup and the lip, and certainly between policy and implementation. Honourable senators on both sides of the chamber agree that the rights of the traditional owners must be paramount. We agree that decisions must be community based. We agree that Aboriginal people must be encouraged to accept positions of responsibility.
These are motherhood phrases. The Government does not insist that people who accept positions of authority be culturally significant in their own area.
After the bitter experience that the Minister had in receiving advice from outsiders in the Maningrida situation- and I refer to Aboriginal outsiders, people who did not belong to that area- he will be very aware of the need to have culturally significant people as advisers. As I have said before in this place, many Europeans have a contribution to make, and this is accepted by the Aboriginal people. It is a great pity that at Maningrida, a man who was regarded by researchers, by university staff and by institute staff, as a model for those who work amongst the Aboriginal people in the outstation movement was given the sack by the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs (Mr Viner). I would conclude on this point by cautioning the Minister to be very careful from where he gets his advice. One cannot be more critical than that on the subject because, as I have said, nobody knocks motherhood. The Governor-General’s Speech also states:
Legislation will be introduced to establish a Government of the Northern Territory with its own Ministers responsible to the Northern Territory Legislative Assembly and having responsibility for its own finances.
I notice that, somewhat different from the Speech of a couple of years ago, there has been a movement away from the concept of Statehood. I wonder what information has come forward to suggest that we might stop talking about Statehood and start talking about self-government. I commend the Government on its steps towards Statehood. We have been trying for many years to get this established in the Northern Territory. But why not involve the Opposition in any discussions which go forward; why not involve the people of the towns, the people of Darwin and Katherine, and all of the Northern Territory, in those discussions?
I notice that in the same paragraph of the Governor-General’s Speech there is a reference to public comment and debate on the proposals for reform but that, of course, refers to the Australian Capital Territory. In the Northern Territory we are not to have public comment and debate on the fact that we are being pushed towards self-government when, earlier, we were being pushed towards Statehood. Only two forums have been mounted in the Northern Territory to discuss the whole problem. Both were mounted by the Australian Labor Party.
– They were the days of open government.
-They would appear not to exist now. This is too important an issue to be decided unilaterally. The Opposition has something to offer, as we have those who are out in the field. Let us hope, as honourable senators have suggested, that we will have open discussion, Green Papers and committees on the subject.
The same comments could be applied to finance. Finance is the area about which most people in the Territory are concerned. In fact, if I can play with words, this is the area about which they are most concerned. It is vital to the transfer of powers; yet we have had no discussion on this issue. Despite continual requests that I have made and continued requests that the Leader of the Australian Labor Party in the Assembly has made, no Northern Territory Labor politicians have been involved and no Federal Labor politicians have been involved. It has been a matter for the members of the Executive only. They are like little boys guarding a secret about their favourite fishing ground or something equally ridiculous. They are not prepared to come out and ask the people, to come out and ask the Opposition. I again call for free and open discussion of all the alternatives that are available to us in the area of finance. This is an opportunity that surely is unique in our lifetime. Do not let us spoil it with petty party politics.
There is a good deal more that could be said, but I think I have said enough to show that there are few specific proposals that one can discuss and those proposals that are specific are not at all heartening for the Northern Territory. I make the point that Territorians generally are disappointed with the Governor-General’s Speech and most would support, as I do, the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition.
– Before speaking to the Governor-General’s Speech, I should like to congratulate Senator Haines on her maiden speech and on her entry into the work of the Senate. Having done so, I turn my attention to the Governor-General’s Speech. In the 20 minutes I have given myself to speak I would like to deal with two aspects of the Governor-General’s Speech. They appear on page 2, where he talks about a ‘better society’, and on page 3, where he talks about inflation and unemployment. The Government, through the Governor-General, had this to say on page 2:
Its fundamental belief -
That is, the Government’s fundamental belief- is that a better society can only be realised by giving the men and women of Australia a greater measure of choice, power and freedom.
This process has begun, as may be seen in my Government’s reforms in the areas of taxation, social welfare and its constitutional and legal reforms.
I would have thought that, in talking about its belief that there should be a better society, the Government would have said something about the fundamental unit of society, namely, the family. I note with a great deal of pleasure that many honourable senators who have spoken before me and, indeed, many members of the House of Representatives have used the occasion of the Address-in-Reply debate to talk about the family and the fact that the family is under pressure and the Government is doing very little about it. One need only look at, for example, the pressure on mothers to go out to work, and the discrimination felt by single income families in relation to taxation, et cetera. These matters have been dealt with adequately by other senators and by some members of the House of Representatives. I invite honourable senators, the public and the Government in particular to examine the Hansard record of the speeches.
In relation to unemployment, I read from page 3 of the Governor-General’s statement. He stated:
My Government rejects the notion that there can be a trade-off between inflation and unemployment. It will continue to give the highest priority to reducing inflation, for only in this way can there be a sustained reduction in unemployment.
That is only half the story. The fact is that one of the Government’s own experts in the field- Mr Paul Kirby, the First Assistant Secretary, Manpower and Economic Policy, in the Department of Employment and Industrial Relationswarned as long ago as August 1976 in an address to the first National Conference on Technical and Further Education that it has long been recognised that insufficient resources and attention have been given to the study of the nature of unemployment, particularly youth unemployment, in Australia. This is in contrast to the ministerial ‘beat inflation first’ line. Mr Kirby made the very sobering comment that youth unemployment can be expected to persist, in a greater or lesser degree, irrespective of economic recovery and improved labour demand. What does the Government say about this? All it is saying is: ‘Reduce inflation first and that will solve the unemployment problem’.
With unemployment in Australia exceeding 7 per cent of the work force for the first time in more than 40 years and with half the unemployed under 21 years of age, the Commonwealth Government must now assign a senior Minister to the sole responsibility of analysing the nature and breaking the back of the structural unemployment problems that are besetting Australia. When the unemployment figures have been posted each month, how often have we heard calls for conferences or platitudes by the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations (Mr Street) about reducing inflation first? These calls for conferences and the platitudes by the Minister about reducing inflation first give little hope to the unemployed, who have heard it all before.
That the situation now confronting Australia can lead to long term dangers for Australia is now recognised not only by the trade union movement but also by the employers. The Director-General of the National Employers Consultative Council, Mr George Polites, said the week before last:
If this situation is allowed to continue for any extended period, the economic costs will pale into insignificance compared to the price we will eventually pay in terms of social, economic and political disruption and dislocation.
The fact that half of the unemployed are under 2 1 years of age highlights the gravity and structural nature of the problem of unemployment. The ‘call a conference’ and political points scoring syndrome must be broken. The Commonwealth Government, in recognition of the gravity of the problem, should ensure that a senior Cabinet Minister has the sole responsibility for employment and related matters and for devising, in conjunction with State counterparts, programs to break the back of unemployment.
At present employment and related matters, in the words of the Norgard report on the Commonwealth Employment Service, is the ‘poor relation’ of the Department of Employment and Industrial Relations and does not receive the attention it both deserves and needs. In times of high unemployment and inflation it is too much to expect one Minister to handle the crucial responsibilities of both employment and industrial relations. The current Minister’s dogged but unimpressive performance is witness to that fact. The Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) should relieve the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations, Mr Street, of his responsibilities in the vital area of industrial relations and transfer them to an upgraded ministry of industrial relations, business and consumer affairs. This would enable Mr Street to concentrate solely on the employment aspects of his portfolio and associated manpower development, employment program, labour market research, industrial training and related employment matters. No one doubts that a flood of serious industrial relations problems will arise this year requiring better attention than can be given by a hard pressed and overworked Minister faced with record unemployment. It has long been recognised that insufficient resources and attention have been given to the study of the nature of unemployment, particularly youth unemployment, in Australia. As I have mentioned before, Paul Kirby, the Department’s First Assistant Secretary, Manpower and Economic Policy Division, in stark contrast to the usual ministerial beat inflation first’ attitude, made the sobering comment that youth unemployment can be expected to persist in a greater or lesser degree irrespective of economic recovery and improved labour demand.
I am sorry that the Minister for Education (Senator Carrick) is not in the chamber because, as Senator Haines said, much of the problem can be sheeted home to the education systems and the quality of education in Australia today. This has been pointed out by the House of Representatives Select Committee on Specific Learning Difficulties whose Chairman, Alan Cadman, released the results of a survey which showed that more than half the nation’s illiterates are aged between 15, the minimum age in the literacy test, and 25. Twenty five per cent of 14-year- olds tested could not cope with reading a newspaper. I think they may be lucky there in some respects. Fifty per cent of the 14-year-olds were incapable of writing a job application letter. Four per cent of the 1 4-year-olds could not subtract 9 from 17 or multiply 6 by 7 or divide 56 by 7. Only 18 per cent of 10-year-olds tested were able to transcribe a passage of 48 words without errors of spelling or fact. That is not a political point of view. Race Mathews, the former Federal Labor MP who also chaired that Committee on Specific Learning Difficulties, came to similarly depressing conclusions. He was reported in the Melbourne Age on 18 February 1976 assaying:
Up to 40 per cent of children in Forms 1 and 2 in Australian secondary schools have severe difficulty in reading their own language with any real fluency and comprehension.
He added: up to 20 per cent are, for all practical purposes, unable to read at all. ‘
Yet we are supposed to see youth unemployment reduce if inflation is reduced. Of course it is important to tackle inflation. I do not deny that. I think it is most important. But let us ensure that consideration is given to other aspects. This is why I make an appeal to the Government and the Prime Minister to relieve Mr Street of the industrial relations aspects of his portfolio so that he can concentrate on the employment aspects of this vital time.
It is not without significance that there is a correlation between the increase in juvenile unemployment since the mid- 1 960s and the increase in the number of married women entering the work force during the same period. The problem cannot be solved by discriminating against married women in the work force, as some have suggested; rather, the solution lies in Government financial measures which will recognise the economic worth of the homemaker, contribution to family support programs and thus reverse the economic discrimination now experienced by single income families. If those programs are adopted the majority of married women in the work force who, according to recent surveys such as those conducted by the Brotherhood of St Laurence and the Electrical Trades Union, have been forced to enter the work force through economic pressure will have a true freedom of choice and the option to leave jobs, thus creating employment opportunities for the young. It would give them the option to do the most important job in this world, bringing up future citizens of this country, and would remove the undue discrimination which they experience at present. Furthermore, there are thousands of young married women who want to leave the work force and start a family but cannot do so because of housing finance problems. I note that the Governor-General had something to say about housing. I hope that the Government will ensure the ready supply of finance in some way to young couples for building their own homes.
The call-a-conference syndrome reflects a need for a permanent consultative body consisting of the States, employers and unions to advise a Minister who is solely responsible for employment and related matters. I come back to my previous point that it is about time we had a Minister solely responsible for employment matters. It is too much for the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations in a time of high unemployment and inflation to do the two jobs. It was all right when the Ministry was Labour and National Service. There was no problem there. It was a pushover then, but not now. The Minister should be relieved of the industrial relations aspect of his portfolio and it should be given to an upgraded ministry of industrial relations and business and consumer affairs so as to enable Mr Street to concentrate on the employment aspects of his portfolio.
The reports I mentioned also highlighted the fact that the Government should have a realistic look at the causes of the problem. I am concerned that the advice that is being given to the Government, for example in the area of women’s affairs, comes from people who do not have the home experience, the motherhood experience, that is necessary to give a balanced view to the Government on women’s affairs. From this advice are policies for family support coming forward? No. We have seen the Government appointing as its women’s adviser such people as Sara Dowse, who has latterly departed. Sara Dowse was selected in March 1 976 to head the office of Women’s Affairs in the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. It was a Public Service appointment and the newspapers at the time said that Mr Fraser had nothing to do with it. However, it is interesting to note that the Department obviously considered and gave a great deal of weight to what she said. I will enlighten the Senate by reading a parable by Sara Dowse- it was given to a conference of the Women’s Electoral Lobby in Canberra between 17 and 19 February 1978- so that the Government knows what type of people are advising it. This is a parable about ‘ the witch who came in from the cold’. I seek leave to have it incorporated in Hansard. I am sure it will make most interesting reading.
The document read as follows-
THE WITCH WHO CAME IN FROM THE COLD
A parable by Sara Dowse
Once upon a time, in the court of the ancient but alas short-lived kingdom of Craminalot, there was a ladyinwaiting, who looked after the king’s bride price, and other matters to do with marriage and kinship in the kingdom. The lady-in-waiting was very busy with her work, and impressed the king with her wisdom and sensitivity and knowledge of tribal customs and lore. She was especially skilled in magic, which the demands of her position forced her to call upon a great deal. For otherwise she would not have been able to get her work done at all. After a particularly busy harvest, this lady-in-waiting was sorely in need of a rest from her labours, and the king himself worried for her health. It was at this time that she was able to persuade him that she needed assistance, and he commanded her to fetch several wise women in the kingdom, to help her in her work.
Now it should be explained that there was at this time a very powerful magic in the kingdom. This was the year that the king decreed that all the girl babies born would be allowed to live, rather than insisting mothers abandon every second new-born female child, as was the custom in the kingdom. And just outside the palace walls there grew a tree of magic, and in that year that tree of magic, which was tended well by all the women in the kingdom, grew many leaves and branches, and the branches brought forth a profusion of purple flowers. The king’s lady-in-waiting brought in several wise women to serve with her, but most of the wisest women stayed outside the palace to tend the magic tree.
At the king’s court, things were very busy. The ladyinwaiting and her handmaidens were able to convince the king that many changes needed to be made in the laws of the kingdom, and the king proclaimed that this would be done. There was much rejoicing in the land, among the women who had been for many years unjustly treated, and they thanked the king for his special concern. But inside the palace many of the other courtiers began to be envious of the lady-in-waiting, and of the king’s confidence in her. They began to wonder whether it was right that so much attention should be given to females, and gossiped that such diversion was sapping the lung’s strength.
And it was true that the king was being called upon to perform great and prodigious feats. Throughout the land a famine had begun to spread, and the people had to pay higher and higher prices for their grain. The king ‘s enemies grew stronger, and fed upon the rising discontent. Black knights roamed the countryside, spreading news.of death and disaster, and the people became afraid. The king grew restless and irritable and impatient with those around him. He began to doubt the counsel of his lady-in-waiting, for others in the court would whisper in his ear, telling him that she had tricked him into flouting the gods, for wasn’t it true that females were inferior beings that needed to be checked, and that all those girl babies were bringing plague and pestilence to the land? The king grew angrier and angrier, for he was by now truly afraid, and he was not a man used to fear. He began to believe that lady-in-waiting’s detractors and suspect her of foul dealings and black magic, and finally, in a moment of great anger, banished her from the kingdom. Away she went in the night, and when morning came her handmaidens were puzzled about what to do.
They did not have long to make any plans, for one night after a long siege on the palace by the king’s enemies, a traitor in the palace opened the door to the angry populace, and in their fear and desperation they slaughtered the good king.
The palace was very still and quiet when the leader of the black knights came. Some of the king’s courtiers left, but some stayed on to preserve what they could of the kingdom of Craminalot, and some, it is sad to tell, stayed on to get the black knight’s favours.
The handmaidens were very busy, guarding the secret treasures, and doing what they could to protect the just laws that the king had decreed. They feared for the safety of the girl babies, and drew up elaborate and secret strategies for resistance. Outside the palace, the women mourned the loss of their lady-in-waiting, and worried about their fate under the new regime. They knew that the handmaidens were still in the palace, but knew too that they would be powerless. New ladies-in-waiting would come, more rich and powerful than the old, but perhaps not so wise.
But the handmaidens had the magic, and so were able for a time to ward off the evil spirits spreading through the castle. One night their chief took a small twig from the tree of magic, outside the palace walls, and for months thereafter was able to weave spells that protected parts of the palace and the law. The success of the handmaidens was remarked upon, and soon some of the other courtiers came to them for guidance, and they interpreted their dreams. But it was very dangerous, and the handmaidens knew there would come a time when they might have to quit the palace altogether, and take their magic with them.
In the meantime the women in the land grew more alarmed. There was little news of what was happening in the palace, for the rule of the black knight was very secretive, and the handmaidens did not want to draw attention to what they were doing. Many women feared to leave their houses. Others were busy looking after the girl babies who, it was feared, might all be slaughtered. And outside the palace walls, the tree of magic began to wither, for the women were not coming to care for it. Some women came to break off branches, and these they put across the thresholds of their houses, or over the cradles of girl babies, to ward off evil spirits. Fewer and fewer women came to the tree, and those that did kept breaking off the branches, in the hope that these would guide and protect them wherever they might be.
One day the chief of the handmaidens noticed that someone had broken into the store of secrets they had guarded for many months. Soon after, some of the handmaidens took ill, and went off with friends of the black knight. Soon the castle was filled with bad omens, and the chief of the handmaidens knew that the time was drawing near. The twig of magic drooped in her hand, its leaves curled and withered, and she looked out the palace window and saw that the great tree, too, had begun to drop its leaves. There were no more blooms and it looked as though its very sap was running dry.
Throughout the kingdom the famine continued, but the people grew more fearful still, forgot their sorrow in jousts and tournaments and in the taverns, and turned away from the suffering of their fellows. And tacked to every post and tree were notices villifying the old king, many months after he had gone. The black knight was now the king and the people were resigned, and believed that it was probably best to go back to the old ways.
And then the black knight ordered that the handmaidens be sent to a chamber in a far corner of the palace, away from the throne room and far from the other courtiers. And there they were to be held prisoners, because he was sure that they had lost their magic.
But lo and behold, their chief escaped. For many weeks they had laboured to build a small bridge from the window of the palace across the high walls to the tree outside. And though the tree was weak and dying, it supported her climb to safety.
And soon the word spread that the handmaidens were captive in the palace and that only the women could save them, and save themselves. And they came, from all parts of the kingdom, with their girl babies in their arms, and their new wisdom, and dug trenches around the tree of magic, and brought water, and cow’s dung, and all the old branches they had pulled from its trunk. And they danced round the tree and sang the old ritual incantations, and prayed for strong limbs and green foliage, for they knew that without their tree of magic, they would all surely perish.
Distributed at WEL National Conference Canberra 1 7- 1 9 February, 1978.
– Will the honourable senator attach his glossary so that we can understand the references.
– I do not think it is necessary to attach a glossary but I will try to assist. This is a parable by Sara Dowse about ‘ the witch who came in from the cold ‘. It reads:
Once upon a time, in the court of the ancient but alas short-lived kingdom of Craminalot -
That was the kingdom of Gough Whitlam, no doubt- there was a lady-in-waiting, who looked after the king’s bride price, and other matters to do with marriage and kinship in the kingdom. The lady-in-waiting -
Presumably that is Liz Reid- was very busy with her work, and impressed the king with her wisdom and sensitivity and knowledge of tribal customs and lore. She was especially skilled in magic, which the demands of her position forced her to call upon a great deal. For otherwise she would not have been able to get her work done at all. After a particularly busy harvest this ladyinwaiting was sorely in need of a rest from her labours, and the king himself worried for her health. It was at this time that she was able to persuade him that she needed assistance, and he commanded her to fetch several wise women in the kingdom, to help her in her work.
The parable then tells of a magic tree outside the court- this being the Women’s Electoral Lobby. The parable continues:
At the king’s court, things were very busy. The ladyinwaiting and her handmaidens were able to convince the king that many changes needed to be made in the laws of the kingdom, and the king proclaimed that this would be done . . .
And it was true that the king was being called upon to perform great and prodigious feats -
The king, of course, being Mr Whitlam-
Throughout the land a famine had begun to spread -
I assume that the famine refers to inflation- and the people had to pay higher and higher prices for their grain. The king’s enemies grew stronger, and fed upon the rising discontent. Black knights roamed the countryside, spreading news of death and disaster, and the people became afraid. The king grew restless and irritable and impatient with those around him. He began to doubt the counsel of his lady-in-waiting, for others in the court would whisper in his ear … He began to believe the ladyinwaiting’s detractors and suspect her of foul dealings and black magic, and finally, in a moment of great anger, banished her from the kingdom … a traitor in the palace opened the door to the angry populace, -
I assume that refers to Sir John Kerr-
That, I assume, was the worthy Prime Minister who accepted much of her advice. Honourable senators ought to read the parable. I am wasting my time reading this sort of nonsense but it is most interesting to see how it continues. It reads: . . And then the black knight ordered that the handmaidens be sent to a chamber in a far corner of the palace -
I imagine that refers to the banishment of the Women’s Affairs Office from the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet to the Department of Home Affairs.
– What salary is paid to authoresses such as this?
– I have had the parable incorporated in Hansard. The honourable senator can judge for himself. The point I am making is that the Government must have a balance in the advice that it receives on family matters and women ‘s issues. If I understand correctly what I hear from my constituents they are concerned about what is happening to the family. The advice coming from these sources is destructive of the principles of family life. I wish the Minister for Education was here. I note from an article in the journal entitled ‘What’s Happening in Education’ No. 12 published in December 1977 that an adviser on women’s affairs has begun work in the Department of Education. This is a highly paid job. The adviser is Sue Harlow. The article in the journal states:
Sue Harlow, the new adviser on women’s affairs, began her duties in early November.
Sue says her initial priorities will be to establish contact with the various bodies connected with the Department. Her continuing concern will be to ensure that all management policies take women into account.
Here is the main point. The article continues:
She feels that more could be done to ease the problems facing women who wish to re-enter the work force. Women often have babies between the ages of 25 and 30 when many crucial opportunities for promotion are available.
Sue suggests that society ought to move in the direction of creating more part-time and half-time jobs for women with young children to look after.
She says the process of change should begin at school where girls could be educated to believe they were capable of pursuing a wide variety of challenging careers.
I should have thought that the greatest problem confronting women and girls in the employment area is the fact that young girls cannot get work. It should have been her first priority to ensure that girls leaving school are able to be employed. Certainly, as she realises and as I realise, there are problems for women who have performed their family responsibilities and want to get back into the work force. Those problems need solutions. However, the vital problem is that young people cannot get work, not only in the cities but particularly in the country. The article continues:
Sue was previously in the Community Recreation Section in the Department of Environment, Housing and Community Development.
She has a B.Com. degree from Melbourne University and a Master’s degree in Resource Administration from the University of North Carolina.
As well, Sue says, she has ‘a husband and two cats’.
She can be contacted on 89 7 1 79.
Before I conclude my remarks I shall refer to the matters which have been raised concerning the future of this institution. I shall deal only with the Senate. It is obvious that a parallel government operates outside the Parliament. It behoves the Government to recognise that it should support in a legislative framework and a political atmosphere those in institutions within societies who are the constitutionalists who believe in parliamentary democracy.
It has been suggested by Senator Rae that the Senate committees should work more efficiently. I feel it is the senators who ought to work more efficiently. Honourable senators ought to realise that they represent the States. They should disregard the impositions of their political parties and take their own decisions in the interests of their own States as they reflect the interests of the country as a whole. I do not have to invite Senator Wright, but I invite Senator Rae and anyone on the Government side of the Senate to do that from now on. That will make this place very effective. I note that Senator Grimes feels that this place is only a rubber stamp. He can make it other than a rubber stamp if he chooses. He would not know this, but I recall Bert Cosgrove saying to Nick McKenna when we were discussing a matter that the equality of representation in the Senate is the guarantor that the economic lifeblood of the country will be pumped into its extremities. The fact remains that if those extremities start dying off the whole of the country will slowly die.
I believe the Senate has the power to ensure that the States are protected. I invite Senator Rae and others to consider what I have said and at the appropriate times take action, not in the interests of their own political parties- I extend this invitation to Senator Grimes as well; if he wants to be a rubber stamp that is his business, but I believe this place should be something other than a rubber stamp- and determine the issues on the basis of their merits as they affect their States in the context of the security and development of this great nation of ours.
- Mr Deputy President(Quorum formed). I know that this debate, like the words that are used in that beautiful song, Old Man River’, has just kept rolling along. Therefore I can understand at this late stage of the debate the reason for the attention of the Chair having to be drawn to the state of the Senate, but I assure honourable senators that I will not be detaining them unduly. This has been a long and protracted debate, and in good old Syd.neyside language I think that so far as the Opposition is concerned I am the last cab off the rank. I take advantage at this late stage in the debate on the motion for the adoption of the AddressinReply to make one or two observations on the Speech that was delivered in this chamber by His Excellency the Governor-General on 2 1 February. Let me say at the outset that I do not wish to harp on the events of the past.
The simple fact is that in the 77 years of federation the Labor Party has been in office for about only 14 years, and at each election the conservative forces of this country close their ranks and in unison heap blame on previous Labor governments for the poor state of the nation. That has been the history of conservative governments in the past, and obviously from the address that was given by His Excellency the GovernorGeneral last Tuesday week that pattern is to be followed by the present Government. True it is that the Labor Party was heavily defeated in 1975 and again in 1 977 but, as Senator Haines- I congratulate the honourable senator who recently joined us from South Australia on the making of her maiden speech- said, when one analyses the results that came from the last election this Government need not necessarily crow or gloat about them. It was the sheer weight of media bias principally that won the election in the manner that it was so decisively won by this Government.
The political history of this nation is that when one newspaper group supports the Labor movement, or even when one newspaper group remains neutral in its attitude towards the Labor movement, the Labor Party has a show of winning government. That was the case in 1 943 and again in 1946, when the newspaper proprietors of this nation generally supported the re-election of the Curtin and Chifley Labor governments. It was the case in 1961 when the Labor Party nearly won office, when the Fairfax group of newspapers heavily supported the Labor Party. It was the case in 1 972, when the Murdoch group of newspapers supported the Labor Party. It was the case in 1974, when at least the Murdoch group of newspapers remained neutral in its attitude towards the re-election of the Labor Government. So it was that we lost, and lost heavily, in 1975, when all of the newspaper groups- those privileged groups of peopleviolently opposed the election of the Labor Party. Of course they were all fanatically opposed to us again in 1977.
When the Labor Party presented its policy to the people on 19 November last, according to the gallup polls, the Labor Party was in front. The public was concerned about the financial and business transactions of the then Treasurer. They were concerned about the rate of unemployment in this nation. They were concerned about the way in which the Government was mismanaging this nation’s affairs. The Government itself was concerned. There were hasty Cabinet meetings in Sydney, and the resignation of the then Treasurer was obtained. Matters that subsequently became government policy suddenly were pulled out of pigeonholes to be incorporated in the Government’s policy speech. Even after that policy speech was delivered at the Melbourne Town Hall on 21 November the Labor Party, according to the gallup polls at that time, was in front. Everyone agreed that it was a poor performance by the Prime Minister (Mr
Malcolm Fraser) in the presentation of the Government’s election proposals. Everyone conceded that it was a poor television production. It was at that stage, after the Prime Minister’s policy speech, when the gallup poll results produced by the newspapers themselves showed that the Labor Party was in front, that the media barons got to work. The Fairfax group, with its great diversity of ownership of newspapers, television and radio, loudly barracked for the Liberals. I do not agree with my friend Senator Withers who said here recently that the Australian Financial Review was a Labor journal. I think it is true to say that in the early days of the campaign the Australian Financial Review was about the only newspaper in Australia that appeared to adopt an air of political neutrality.
– Ha, ha!
-My friend Senator Withers laughs. The other day he was saying that it was a Labor journal. I am now saying that it was politically neutral until the last couple of days of the election campaign. I suggest to Senator Withers that he should look at the editorials which appeared in the Australian Financial Review on the Thursday and Friday. That was the attitude of the Fairfax group- the Sydney Morning Herald, the Channel 7 Network, the Australian Financial Review and all of its other media outlets. The whole force of the Fairfax media was brought to bear against the Labor Party.
Mr Murdoch conveniently returned to Australia during the general election campaign. He announced a policy of political neutrality for his fleet, until he realised there was a possibility of the election of a Labor government. All of his newspapers- metropolitan dailies, suburban newspapers and country newspapers- and his radio stations came out with full guns blazing against the Labor Party. One only has to look at the front page editorial of the Sydney Daily Telegraph of the day before the election- the editorial on 9 December headed: ‘We can’t afford a change ‘-to realise this. It was shifted from about page 3 to the front page of the Daily Telegraph. We saw on television Mr Kerry Packer, the Managing Director of the Channel 9 network, meeting the Prime Minister, Mr Malcolm Fraser, at the Bulletin World Champion Golf Tournament, showing Mr Fraser on the Channel 9 television network throughout the nation as a mere mortal who appeared to be vitally interested in the sport of golf. We heard rumours about Sir Reginald Ansett of the Channel 0 network putting up the money for the Sir Henry Bolte advertisements which were shown in Victoria. We heard about the Labor advertisements getting to Channel 10 in Sydney and suddenly ending up in the hands of the Liberal Party Executive.
Doubtless, when one takes into account the country Press it is only axiomatic to say that there was a one-sided election campaign and a onesided election results. The whole weight of media operations throughout the length and breadth of this nation was fanatically directed to ensuring the election of one particular party. I suggest that that situation is not for the good of this nation. It is the direct antithesis of democracy. We need objectivity and balance in this country. That has to be achieved if Australia is to reach political maturity and a state of full democracy. The time has therefore well arrived when the monopoly control of Australian media has to be looked at very seriously, as has been happening in the United States of America.
– Nationalise it.
-No, but there should be a diversity of ownership of media interests throughout Australia, as is occurring in the United States. A publication called Columbia Journalism Review of May /June 1 977 contains an article written by a Mr William T. Gormley, Jr., who investigated the effects of cross-ownership on the American media. In that article he points out:
More than 60 million Americans live in metropolitan areas where at least one newspaper and one television station have the same owner. Currently there are sixty-six such newspaper-television station cross-ownerships, and more than 200 cross-ownerships of newspapers and radio stations.
On March 1 the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington took an important first step toward dissolving most crossownerships. The court struck down a two-year-old FCC rule - that is, a Federal Communications Commission rule- that allowed almost all the companies that already owned a newspaper and a broadcasting outlet in the same city to keep both (such a provision is known as a ‘grandfather clause’), while prohibiting the future formation or transfer of crossownerships. The court agreed with the FCC that no new cross-ownerships should be allowed, but went on to insist that existing ones ought to be dissolved ‘except in those cases where the evidence clearly discloses that a cross-ownership is in the public interest.’
Because newspapers and television stations are particularly important sources of news and opinion, the court characterised newspaper-television cross-ownership as ‘the heart of this case.’ With television stations as profitable as they are, few newspaper executives whose companies own TV stations would disagree.
Whilst in the United States there are some 66 newspaper-television station cross-ownerships, in this nation a mere five or six own and control the whole of the media operations of this country. That is the danger that this country is facing. That is the state of lack of democracy in which this country finds itself. The full weight of the media throughout Australia has been harnessed, used and operated for the benefit of one political organisation.
It is true that there were faults in the Labor movement election campaign. I do not demur from that. I have no doubt that we misread the political thermometer when we proposed the abolition of the proposed tax cuts in order to get men and women back into work. But in denigrating Labor’s proposals our political opponents resorted heavily to an under-the-surface campaign based on the ‘dole bludger’ syndrome. Certainly Senator Rae made some mention of this during the course of his remarks when he said that wherever he went throughout the election campaign he found that a feeling was being engendered or being felt in a lot of industries that people who were out of work need not necessarily have been out of work. It is true that I found that feeling in some areas of New South Wales and, indeed, throughout other parts of Australia. I suggest that it was engendered by an underthesurface campaign based on the ‘dole bludger’ syndrome.
As I said at the outset, I do not wish to harp on the past. For an outline of what happened in the last general election I merely rely upon a report, written by Valerie Lawson, which appeared on page 1 of the Australian Financial Review on 14 December 1977, four days after the general election was held. The article is headed ‘The selling of Malcolm Fraser’. Amongst other things, it states:
The Liberal Party’s $1.6m ‘hip pocket nerve’ advertising campaign was based on a unique appeal of selfishness combined with altruism, according to a booklet to be published next week by the party’s advertising agency.
The article went on to state:
The booklet, written by Masius chairman Mr Len Reason, outlines how the Liberals’ campaign appealed to the ‘hip pocket nerve’ and how the Liberals were ‘merchandised’ through the establishment of an answering service pandering to the electorate ‘s greed for tax concessions.
Mr Reason states in the publication that the Liberals’ campaign offered voters an opportunity to be selfish and altruistic at the same time- altruistic because they could support their financial motivations while giving ‘help to the unemployed by taking money.’
That was the sort of campaign that the Chairman of the advertising agency in charge of the Liberal Party’s campaign said was conducted by the Liberal Party- a unique appeal of selfishness combined with altruism. The article in the Australian Financial Review went on to state:
In the Masius booklet, titled ‘The anatomy of a political merchandising idea,’ Mr Reason says the agency’s major problem was overcoming the boredom of the uncommitted voter faced with yet another election.
This, however, was not a new experience for advertising men who spend a good deal of their lives giving the kiss of life to commercial propositions that often look very blue in the face indeed.
I mention that to indicate that it was the excessive weight of the campaign that was conducted by the media proprietors against the Labor Party, the campaign based on the selfishness and altruism of the Liberal Party, that was primarily responsible for the defeat of the Labor Party at the last election. Therefore, when political parties resort to this type of political advertising one understands how the Australian public has become or is becoming quite cynical about the political affairs of this nation. We have had four elections in five years- one in 1972, one in 1974, one in 1975 and another in 1977- and all of them were called ahead of their time by the Liberal Party. Now we read that within its own party room the Government supporters are putting out a feeler for four-yearly parliaments. I remind honourable senators that it was the Liberal Party which gave the Labor Government two terms in Parliament each lasting one and half years. Now, according to what we read, the Liberal Party is promoting the idea of parliaments lasting four years.
Government supporters propose reforms to the electoral system. I listened with great interest to the remarks of Senator Chaney, Senator Rae and my colleague, Senator Robertson. As I understand what I have read in newspapers, the Liberal and National Country Parties have requested their own party committees to consider reform of the electoral system. However, when the Labor Party has proposed in the House of Representatives and in the Senate the establishment of an all party committee to inquire into and make recommendations concerning electoral reform the Government Parties have opposed it because they, being chosen and born to rule, believe that they are the only ones who can draw up rules or have any idea about electoral reform. Senator Withers said in reply to me last year, as he has said again this week, that the Government is considering proposed reform of the electoral system.
I suggest that if the Government is fair dinkum or if the Government back benchers are fair dinkum in their approach towards the extension of the parliamentary committee system one of the most important all party select committees that they could establish would be one to inquire into electoral reform and to make recommendations to this Parliament on that subject. However, as every time the Labor Party has proposed such a thing by way of motion in this and the other chamber that motion has been opposed by the Government parties. Therefore, one can well understand the cyncism of the electorate. One can understand the concern of those who feel for the future of this great nation. One can understand the frustrations of Government back benchers about their usefulness to Australia in a government which is heavily bloated with numbers and whose Ministers are all appointed on the say-so of the Prime Minister. Senator Chaney and Senator Rae both advocated in what I consider to be very constructive speeches the reform of the parliamentary system and a more effective use of the committee system. I agree with most of what they had to say because this Government, aided by its media proprietor friends and their actions, is turning the public affairs programs on commercial television into the real forums of this nation rather than this Parliament. If this Parliament is to assert its place in the nation as the peoples forum something has to be done to remedy the deteriorating situation. It is the current affairs programs which are getting the ratings and it is the Parliament which is getting the ridicule.
We all know that a couple of years ago an all party parliamentary committee was established by the Labor Government to inquire into the declaration of pecuniary interests by members of Parliament. It was chaired by my colleague and erstwhile Minister, the Hon. Joe Reardon and there were a number of senators on it. I recall that Senator Sir Magnus Cormack was a member of the committee. It reported to the Parliament and made recommendations concerning the laying down of guidelines relating to the pecuniary interests of people who occupy positions in the public life of this nation. The recommendations were made about three weeks before the Labor Government was dismissed by the GovernorGeneral. That report has been in the hands of the Government since November 1975. No action has yet been taken on the recommendations. However, if one reads two successive paragraphs in the Governor-General’s Speech, one must view with cynicism the Government’s proposals about reform of the parliamentary system when one bears in mind that that report was an all party committee report and has been in the Government’s hands since November 1975. The Governor-General’s Speech as recorded on pages 5 and 6 of Hansard of 2 1 February states:
A public inquiry will be held to make recommendations concerning conflicts between public duty and private interest of members of Parliament and others in the public sphere and principles might be adopted to avoid these conflicts.
Already that matter has been inquired into by this Parliament, Already it has been reported upon. Already recommendations have been made. Despite that report having been tendered the Government has appointed Sir Nigel Bowen to conduct another public inquiry. In view of the public cynicism which is in evidence, this is a mockery of this Parliament. The next paragraph in the Governor-General’s Speech states:
Further development of the parliamentary committee system will be promoted and parliamentary scrutiny of the Executive will be enhanced by introducing legislation enabling the Auditor-General to conduct efficiency audits and report to Parliament thereon.
I suggest that it is easy for any committee to report, but it appears to be difficult to get action from the Government.
In this debate much has been said about the civil liberties and rights of Australian citizens, but there is one paramount right that must be restored. It is the right which has been taken away from them by this Government- the right of all Australians to earn an honourable and decent living. It applies to people in their late forties and early fifties who have been discarded by big business for younger executives. On the central coast and south coast of New South Wales there are many people in their late forties or early fifties who have been thrown on to the industrial scrapheap because no longer do their companies consider them useful to them. That right also applies to school leavers, that group of people who are the most highly educated group of unemployed this nation has ever had. It applies to farmers whose incomes on the average, according to the Bureau of Agricultural Economics, will be reduced by 16 per cent this year.
As the descendant of a family which was one of the pioneers in the New England district of New South Wales I have great sympathy for the plight of the rural producers. But their problems have been caused by the inadequate and incompetent marketing arrangements and by Liberal governments wanting to use differing international political philosophies for internal political propaganda purposes. Contrary to the Government’s propaganda, the pressing problems of rural people have been caused by this Government’s inertia, not the previous Labor Government’s ignorance as this Government has suggested. We on this side of the chamber, during the course of the next three years, will be watching closely and scrutinising carefully the legislation which will be presented by this Government. We will set out to ensure that the social and economic rights of the Australian people are preserved and protected from a government which, we suggest, has already shown its ignorance of the problems and its arrogance in relation to the solutions to those problems. Whether it be three years, or four years as apparently Government supporters are proposing in their party room, that we are in Opposition, I assure the Senate and the Australian people that the Labor movement will be strong and effective. We have enlarged, we have underlined and we have framed these words which appear on page 7 of the Hansard record of the Governor-General’s Speech of 2 1 February:
Its trust -
That is the Government’s trust- is to all the people of Australia, and its concern is for all- all sections, all groups, and all interests who care and serve this great country of ours.
Those words are the Government’s own charge. In Australia’s interests we will not let any Minister of the Crown ignore one of those undertakings.
– We who are members of the Australian Senate are honoured to be serving at this time of the Thirty-first Parliament. I only hope that in the Senate we may be able to make a valuable contribution to the conduct of Australia’s well organised society. In supporting the motion in relation to the Address-in-Reply I pay tribute to our new Governor-General, Sir Zelman Cowen. I believe the Commonwealth of Australia is fortunate in having as its new Governor-General a citizen of such outstanding calibre as Sir Zelman. He is a man who has made an outstanding contribution to the law and to academic life in this country. He now comes to this high office. It is the highest office that Australia can bestow. It is well to be reminded that as a Rhodes Scholar and as a Supreme Court prizeman Zelman Cowen gave early evidence of his outstanding abilities. In both war and peace he has served his country well. We have every reason to be very proud of his achievements. I am sure that both the Government and the Opposition will unite in wishing His Excellency well in his term of office and in thanking him for his presence in this place last week. An outstanding politician who shared the same religious beliefs as our present GovernorGeneral, Benjamin Disraeli, the Earl of Beaconsfield, is reported as having said:
Life is not stated merely by years. Events are sometimes the best calendars.
During the time that I have been in this place I have seen many people come and go. Not all of them have known when they came here that their tenure would be of such limited duration as that of our newest senator, Senator Haines from South Australia. I hope the honourable senator will be encouraged by Disraeli’s words and that she will have a pleasant tenure in the Senate. If we are to take note of the date there may be some who will recall that within the next few days we shall be in the Ides of March. It was during the Ides of March in 44BC that a Roman senator, famed as a leader of conspirators, assassinated Julius Caesar. The part which Brutus played in the murder of Caesar has been immortalised by the tradition which Shakespeare dramatised in the dramatic words: ‘You, too, Brutus’. We are led to believe that Caesar died manifesting reproachful surprise that a person who had been his personal friend and confidante had turned against him in such a dastardly way. I am reminded of the treachery of Brutus when I hear some of the bitter things which men who were formerly called his friends have said about the former Governor-General, Sir John Kerr.
Last week in this place and in constant debate during this week, not only Senator James McClelland but also others have taken that stance. Honourable senators may recall that Senator James McClelland also quoted Shakespeare. He said that the present GovernorGeneral ‘s call to the people of Australia to strive towards commendable goals and to realise their hopes and visions for the future had jolted him out of his slumbers. That honourable senator went on to say that the greatest threat confronting Australia was cynicism. Certainly cynicism is a bad thing but perhaps even worse is the treachery of a man against his friend and the verbal assassination of a man’s reputation and his character. Members of the Australian Labor Party who have commented and the legal publicists for them throughout the various States, in their attacks against Sir John, have overlooked two factors which are so obvious to unbiased people. Firstly, Sir John was selected and appointed to the post of Governor-General by the Labor Government. Secondly, it was not Sir John but the people of Australia who at the 1975 elections decisively vindicated Sir John’s actions. I remind those modern day assassins that Sir John has been a living example of the son of person who not only the Labor Party but also all Australians have embraced as being wonderful citizens of this country. Sir John was born the son of a boilermaker from Mort’s Dock in Sydney. He was brought up in Balmain and he relied on a bursary to enable him to study at the Fon Street High School. I quote from a book by Clem Lloyd and Andrew Clark. It is a work hardly designed to enhance Sir John’s reputation. Right at the beginning of the book the authors state:
In a long career Kerr has been at the nub of many networksthe Evatt braintrust of the thirties, the Conlon network of wartime Australia, a regional network based on Pacific and New Guinea administration in the immediate post-war years, the complex admixture of industrial law and industrial politics in the fifties, the academic network and the judicial establishment.
It is now two years and nearly four months since Sir John Kerr determined the commission of the honourable E. G. Whitlam. Criticism of the former Governor-General in scurrilous terms has persisted, and as a result he does not now intend to take up the post in Paris which had been offered to him. It is as well to remind the community and those who have protested so often against Sir John Kerr that he gave good reason for his actions in those days in 1975. 1 know of no persons, particularly those who have criticised Sir John, who have directed their criticism at the written explanation he gave for his actions. Those people have been incapable of criticising logically. Their weakness leads them only to personal abuse of Sir John and to their dishonour. I seek leave to incorporate in Hansard the statement issued from Government House on 11 November 1975 and the contents of the letter written on that day to the then Prime Minister.
The documents read as follows-
STATEMENT BY THE GOVERNOR-GENERAL
I have given careful consideration to the constitutional crisis and have made some decisions which I wish to explain.
It has been necessary for me to find a democratic and constitutional solution to the current crisis which will permit the people of Australia to decide as soon as possible what should be the outcome of the deadlock which developed over the supply between the two Houses of Parliament and between the Government and the Opposition parties. The only solution consistent with the Constitution and with my oath of office and my responsibilities, authority and duty as Governor-General is to terminate the commission as Prime Minister of Mr Whitlam and to arrange for a caretaker government able to secure supply and willing to let the issue go to the people.
I shall summarise the elements of the problem and the reasons for my decision which places the matter before the people of Australia for prompt determination.
Because of the federal nature of our Constitution and because of its provisions the Senate undoubtedly has constitutional power to refuse or defer supply to the Government. Because of the principles of responsible government a Prime Minister who cannot obtain supply, including money for carrying on the ordinary services of government, must either advise a general election or resign. If he refuses to do this I have the authority and indeed the duty under the Constitution to withdraw his Commission as Prime Minister. The position in Australia is quite different from the position in the United Kingdom. Here the confidence of both Houses on supply is necessary to ensure its provision. In the United Kingdom the confidence of the House of Commons alone is necessary. But both here and in the United Kingdom the duty of the Prime Minister is the same in a most important respect- if he cannot get supply he must resign or advise an election.
If a Prime Minister refuses to resign or to advise an election, and this is the case with Mr Whitlam, my constitutional authority and duty require me to do what I have now done- to withdraw his commission- and to invite the Leader of the Opposition to form a caretaker government- that is one that makes no appointments or dismissals and initiates no policies, until a general election is held. It is most desirable that he should guarantee supply. Mr Fraser will be asked to give the necessary undertakings and advise whether he is prepared to recommend a double dissolution. He will also be asked to guarantee supply.
The decisions I have made were made after I was satisfied that Mr Whitlam could not obtain supply. No other decision open to me would enable the Australian people to decide for themselves what should be done.
Once I had made up my mind, for my own part, what I must do if Mr Whitlam persisted in his stated intentions,I contacted the Chief Justice of Australia, Sir Garfield Barwick. I have his permission to say that I consulted him in this way.
The result is that there will be an early general election for both Houses and the people can do what, in a democracy such as ours, is their responsibility and duty and theirs alone. It is for the people now to decide the issue which the two leaders have failed to settle.
Detailed Statements of Decisions
On 16 October the Senate deferred consideration of Appropriation Bills (Nos 1 & 2) 1975-76. In the time which elapsed since then events made it clear that the Senate was determined to refuse to grant supply to the Government. In that time the Senate on no less than two occasions resolved to proceed no further with fresh Appropriation Bills, in identical terms, which had been passed by the House of Representatives. The determination of the Senate to maintain its refusal to grant supply was confirmed by the public statements made by the Leader of the Opposition, the Opposition having control of the Senate.
By virtue of what has in fact happened there therefore came into existence a deadlock between the House of Representatives and the Senate on the central issue of supply without which all the ordinary services of the Government cannot be maintained. I had the benefit of discussions with the Prime Minister and, with his approval, with the Leader of the Opposition and with the Treasurer and the AttorneyGeneral. As a result of those discussions and having regard to the public statements of the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition I have come regretfully to the conclusion that there is no likelihood of a compromise between the House of Representatives and the Senate nor for that matter between the Government and the Opposition.
The deadlock which arose was one which, in the interests of the nation, had to be resolved as promptly as possible and by means which are appropriate in our democratic system. In all the circumstances which have occurred the appropriate means is a dissolution of the Parliament and an election for both Houses. No other course offers a sufficient assurance of resolving the deadlock and resolving it promptly.
Parliamentary control of appropriation and accordingly of expenditure is a fundamental feature of our system of responsible government. In consequence it has been generally accepted that a government which has been denied supply by the Parliament cannot govern. So much at least is clear in cases where a ministry is refused supply by a popularly elected Lower House. In other systems where an Upper House is denied the right to reject a money bill denial of supply can occur only at the instance of the Lower House. When, however, an Upper House possesses the power to reject a money bill including an appropriation bill, and exercises the power by denying supply, the principle that a government which has been denied supply by the Parliament should resign or go to an election must still apply- it is a necessary consequence of Parliamentary control of appropriation and expenditure and of the expectation that the ordinary and necessary services of government will continue to be provided.
The Constitution combines the two elements of responsible government and federalism. The Senate is, like the House, a popularly elected chamber. It was designed to provide representation by States, not by electorates, and was given by Section 53, equal powers with the House with respect to proposed laws, except in the respects mentioned in the section. It was denied power to originate or amend appropriation bills but was left with power to reject them or defer consideration of them. The Senate accordingly has the power and has exercised the power to refuse to grant supply to the Government. The Government stands in the position that it has been denied supply by the Parliament with all the consequences which flow from that fact.
There have been public discussions about whether there is a convention deriving from the principles of responsible government that the Senate must never under any circumstances exercise the power to reject an appropriation bill. The Constitution must prevail over any conventions because in determining the question how far the conventions of responsible government have been grafted on to the federal compact, the Constitution itself must in the end control the situation.
Section 57 of the Constitution provides a means, perhaps the usual means, of resolving a disagreement between the Houses with respect to a proposed law. But the machinery which it provides necessarily entails a considerable time lag which is quite inappropriate to a speedy resolution of the fundamental problems posed by the refusal of supply. Its presence in the Constitution does not cut down the reserve powers of the Governor-General.
I should be surprised if the Law Officers expressed the view that there is no reserve power in the Governor-General to dismiss a Ministry which has been refused supply by the Parliament and to commission a Ministry, as a caretaker ministry which will secure supply and recommend a dissolution, including where appropriate a double dissolution. This is a matter on which my own mind is quite clear and I am acting in accordance with my own clear view of the principles laid down by the Constitution and of the nature, powers and responsibility of my office.
There is one other point. There has been discussion of the possibility that a half-Senate election might be held under circumstances in which the Government has not obtained supply. If such advice were given to me I should feel constrained to reject it because a half-Senate election held whilst supply continues to be denied does not guarantee a prompt or sufficiently clear prospect of the deadlock being resolved in accordance with proper principles. When I refer to rejection of such advice I mean that, as I would find it necessary in the circumstances I have envisaged to determine Mr Whitlam ‘s commission and, as things have turned out have done so, he would not be Prime Minister and not able to give or persist with such advice.
The announced proposals about financing public servants, suppliers, contractors and others do not amount to a satisfactory alternative to supply.
Government House, Canberra 2600. 11 November 1975
Government House, Canberra 2600 11 November 1975
Dear Mr Whitlam,
In accordance with section 64 of the Constitution I hereby determine your appointment as my Chief Adviser and Head of the Government. It follows that I also hereby determine the appointments of all of the Ministers in your Government.
You have previously told me that you would never resign or advise an election of the House of Representatives or a double dissolution and that the only way in which such an election could be obtained would be by my dismissal of you and your ministerial colleagues. As it appeared likely that you would today persist in this attitude I decided that, if you did, I would determine your commission and state my reasons for doing so. You have persisted in your attitude and I have accordingly acted as indicated. I attach a statement of my reasons which I intend to publish immediately.
It is with a great deal of regret that I have taken this step both in respect of yourself and your colleagues.
I propose to send for the Leader of the Opposition and to commission him to form a new caretaker Government until an election can be held.
Yours sincerely, JOHN R. KERR
The Honourable E. G. Whitlam, Q.C., M.P.
-Perhaps I should go on, but I doubt that there is any need to do so. Disraeli reminded us that events speak for themselves. The achievements of the boilermaker’s son from Balmain who became Chief Justice of New South Wales and eventually GovernorGeneral certainly speak for themselves. I regret that Sir John will not be taking up the post which was offered to him, and I will watch carefully the quality of the man who is to fill that important post with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation.
That post has some relevance to my own portfolio, and in that respect it is interesting to note that UNESCO was established in 1945 for the purpose of advancing, through the educational, scientific and cultural relationships of the peoples of the world, the objectives of international peace and the common welfare of man. UNESCO encourages international intellectual co-operation through operational assistance to more than 130 member states. It is dedicated to the promotion of peace, human rights and the mutual understanding of people. I find it very hard to accept that that type of philosophy cannot be embraced by any political party in Australia. We should all be taking steps to ensure that Australian representation in that important place is filled. An important aspect of UNESCO’s program is the holding of international conferences and ministerial meetings, and there can be no objection whatsoever to Australia having the same top level representation at those meetings that it would have had if Sir John Kerr had represented Australia.
I understand that this is the first time, certainly in recent years, that science programs have been mentioned in the Governor-General’s Speech. I am not aware that a previous speech by a Governor-General has outlined science programs, and I am particularly pleased that it has occurred on this occasion. From my handling of the portfolio I know of the activities in Antarctica and of the efforts by this Government to encourage space research and an interest in the earth’s resources and satellite technology. Developments in modern science, both in Antarctica and around the coast of Australia, will be gaining momentum in the foreseeable future. Australia was involved last week in taking the first pictures from the Japanese geostationary meteorological satellite. We are also involved in a world-wide experiment to determine meteorological situations around the world, and the first global atmospheric research program experiment is one which, although expensive, we hope will be productive for Australia. The proposal by my Department to set up a research directory is a very important one for scientists. The directory is intended to provide a detailed listing of research projects, including the names of the principal scientists and an indication of the manpower involved in a particular effort. I think it is something that we have sought for many years in Australia. It will be provided in a coming year or so.
In international scientific activity we are moving rapidly towards obtaining the best available knowledge from other countries throughout the world. Because I mentioned the basis upon which exchange programs will be developed in Australia, I should say that in the coming year Australian science will direct much of its efforts into the fields of energy and the environment, areas which have dominated the headlines of this decade. Research directly attacking these two key problems, or impinging upon them, is being conducted with an urgency and on a scale that reflects their importance to our society. As the reports show, undoubtedly we live in an age of dwindling energy resources and rising energy consumption. We apparently live in a time of increasing awareness in the community of the fact that the environment is not indefinitely resilient in the face of abuse and that the well being of the environment is inextricably linked with our own future good health. Australia is fortunate to have one of the world ‘s most eminent and versatile scientific research bodies. Of course I refer to the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, which comes within my portfolio. CSIRO is dedicated to tackling the problems of energy and the environment. Criticism is sometimes directed at CSIRO because of its size, but that size enables considerable manpower and resources to be directed towards vital research of an inter-disciplinary nature. The multi-disciplinary approach that we are unable to take to many of the problems that are posed today can come about only by bringing scientists from various areas to work on the one problem.
I should like to outline briefly what CSIRO has been doing in the recent past and what it will do in the near future. The Senate will be aware that most research today is long term in nature. There are few instant solutions. However, the Senate may be reassured that research into the pressing problems I mentioned earlier is well organised and has considerable momentum. In spite of financial restraints within the last year or so, important CSIRO research programs were continued and actually expanded in the areas of energy and biological control. This expansion was achieved by the re-deployment of staff and also by good housekeeping on the part of CSIRO. During 1977 the organisation established a new unit to concentrate on research into our fossil fuel resources. The principal functions of that unit are to improve the laboratory methods used by government and private enterprise in the search for new petroleum and natural gas resources, assess the characteristics of Australian coals, and thus enable them to be used to their maximum advantage. The Fuel Geoscience Unit will help to develop new techniques in fossil fuel use, particularly the conversion of coal to oil and other liquid products.
Last year CSIRO produced a device, called Sirotem, which will greatly improve our ability to locate mineral deposits hidden underground. In your State of South Australia I hope tomorrow, Mr President, to take some part in handing over the first piece of such equipment. The CSIRO ‘S Division of Textile Industry has developed a new process for removing pollutants from wool scour effluents. This, while protecting the environment, could save the industry millions of dollars. The CSIRO ‘s Lo-Flo process removes 95 per cent of the impurities in wool, including grease which can be refined to lanolin and sold for cosmetic and pharmaceutical purposes. The process of extraction removes 70 per cent to 80 per cent of wool grease, as against a maximum of 40 per cent obtained by current conventional methods. These are great achievements by that organisation and represent a great return upon the investment in it of the people of Australia.
In other biological control programs, CSIRO has begun a concerted effort to control exotic water weeds such as water hyacinth, salvinia and alligator weed. Many honourable senators will be aware of the problems that those weeds are creating in their own States. Other developments during the year included the opening at Maribyrnong of a new research laboratory, which will play an important role in disease control in the poultry industry. I am sure that Senator McLaren will be pleased to hear of that. Also, a laboratory was opened at Moreton Bay in Queensland to study Australia’s prawn resources, and a 43-metre vessel, the Sprightly, was chartered for oceanographic research work off the east coast. Another development was the addition to CSIRO’s research establishments of the Materials Research Laboratory in South Australia. This was formerly attached to the Department of Defence. Among many projects aimed at strengthening CSIRO’s links with the community were the publication of a series of pamphlets on food preservation- which honourable senators will have seen- by the Division of Food Research, and a series of booklets produced by the Division of Soils, on soil science and related subjects for the use even of home gardeners and students.
A great deal more could be said about CSIRO, and I believe that the coming year will continue to see an even greater awareness of the role played by it in research, as that affects the daily lives of all of us. It is an outstanding organisation, whose status has been elevated to the ranks of the best and most accomplished research organisations in the world. A great deal of credit is due to the scientists and support staff, whose dedication makes it possible for Australia to be rightfully proud- a pride that can also be taken by the executive and the management- of this great organisation. The coming three years of this Government’s term of office will see, under careful management, this organisation, and science in Australia, taking a leading role in providing benefits not only for Australia but also for all mankind.
Sitting suspended from 5.59 to 8 p.m.
– I welcome the opportunity to say a few words tonight on a subject which has been of considerable interest to me over the past 12 months and which I think is of very great interest to the people of Australia; that is the subject of Australia and the Antarctic. Before I address some comments to that subject, I would like to align myself with the comments which have already been made from both sides of this chamber on the recent appointment of the distinguished Australian, Sir Zelman Cowen, to the position of Governor-General of this country. I am sure that he will bring great dignity to that office. I offer whatever help I can give him in the discharge of that office in the interests of this country.
I would also like to congratulate Senator Janine Haines on her maiden speech. It was a very fine contribution. I think we all know the problems of making a maiden speech in this place. It is not an easy task. For her to come in and within a few days launch herself in the Parliament in the way in which she did was a very creditable performance. I hope that during the short time that I understand she will be in the Senate she will at least find it an interesting place in which to be and will have an opportunity, like the rest of us, to make some contribution to the parliamentary life of this country.
I said earlier that I wanted to make some comments arising out of my recent visit to the Antarctic. Perhaps I should say at the outset how pleased I was with the comments made by the Minister for Science, Senator Webster, yesterday when he responded to a question I asked on the subject of the preservation of Mawson ‘s hut. Perhaps I should also acknowledge the fact that when I expressed a keenness just before Christmas to visit the Antarctic, Senator Webster assisted me considerably in enabling me to undertake that journey. He did warn me that it would be a difficult one. I think his words were: ‘It will not be any joy’. In some respects he was right and in other respects it was a particularly interesting visit.
It certainly helped me greatly by broadening my appreciation of what we are trying to do there and certainly of what more- I think there is a great deal more- we can do there. It gave me a wonderful insight into the type of people who offer themselves for that very long year in the isolation and cold of the Antarctic and it offered me a further opportunity to talk to people who had wintered in the Antarctic and who gave me the benefit of their views on it. They expressed very keen interest in what was happening there, helped me to get a broader picture of the whole Antarctic scene and fortified many of the views that I hold. One of them is that there is a great deal more that we can do and I believe we will be doing, in the Antarctic in the future.
I believe that we have gone through four fairly distinct and identifiable periods or stages in the history of the Antarctic and that we are now entering into a fifth stage. The first stage was the discovery in the era of the great navigators. One remembers the incredible journeys of that great navigator, James Cook, and of many othersincluding Bellingshausen- who went into the Antarctic in the very early times. I was interested to note that I was inside the Antarctic Circle 200 years to the day from the date of Captain James Cook’s journey inside the Antarctic Circle. The second stage was the era of heroic exploration; then came the period of consolidation; and stage four was the era of scientific investigation. I believe that since that time we have entered into the fifth stage, the era of resource exploration. I believe it is important to say that this stage may well prove critical for Australia’s stake in the future development of the Antarctic.
I do not want tonight to dwell on the political aspects of our involvement in Antarctica. I propose to respond to the invitation issued to me by the Minister yesterday to make a report to the Senate on my visit to the Antarctic. Fortunately, I kept a pretty comprehensive diary, running to some 70 pages, on what I saw in the course of the trip, my reactions and emotions at various stages of the journey and how I believed that as a result of that visit I would be able to help, certainly this Parliament and perhaps the people of Australia, to a better understanding of what we are doing there and what we might do to consolidate the claims which we make to sovereignty over the quite vast area of the Antarctic continent that Australia presently claims.
As you know, Mr President, as honourable senators in this chamber know, and as is becomingly increasingly apparent to the people of Australia day by day, there is an increasing focus on the whole of the Antarctic scene. In order that we might appreciate what is happening there, I think it is of importance that a member of the Parliament should have taken advantage of the opportunity to go there, taken in the whole scene and experienced the normal reactions which would be the result of that incredible experience. I would like to see- I hope that the Minister will give consideration to this- a greater opportunity provided for members of this Parliament and for other people in the Australian community who can help us greatly in the Antarctic scene- I am referring to people in the area of the various sciences- to make visits to the Antarctic, with increasing frequency thereby allowing us to become a better informed nation.
This matter is particularly important now. Conferences which are taking place right here at this very time clearly indicate to us the need for a better understanding of the earth sciences and the marine sciences and a more comprehensive knowledge of the Antarctic scene than we have at present. We read many books about the heroic exploits of people who have gone to the Antarctic. Many of them gave their lives there in the interests of exploration and in the interests of science. I believe that this country has an ongoing commitment to pursue the work that has already been done there and to afford Australians a better understanding of why we make claims to the Antarctic and how we propose to justify in the forums of the world the claims that we make.
It was a long and rather tedious and wearying journey. It took 35 days, during which time we were privileged to visit Commonwealth Bay, the site of Mawson ‘s hut, and to take in the scene where that incredible person laboured for three years on his last visit. He did not intend to be there for three years, but circumstances caught up with him. I might elaborate on that in a moment or two. From Commonwealth Bay, we paid a brief visit to the French base of Dumont d’Urville, which is 75 miles to the west of Commonwealth Bay. We paid Australia’s respects to the French expeditioners there and then proceeded on about another 800 or 900 miles to the Casey Base.
As I said earlier, I do not want to dwell on the political aspects of our involvement in the Antarctic, but I think the scene at Commonwealth Bay would be a matter of interest to the Parliament. I have become completely and utterly convinced that it would be a criminal act to remove Mawson ‘s hut from its present site. I say that for a number of reasons. Perhaps I can refer to my diary, if the Senate will bear with me. These notes were made on the site at the time and reflect my own personal feelings and reactions to the scene. Before I do that I would like to say that I had the great privilege of travelling south with a number of people who comprised the expedition party that would spend the next year at Casey Base.
I had the privilege of knowing four people who were put ashore at Commonwealth Bay to assess the condition of Mawson ‘s hut. Two of them came in at very short notice. I refer to Mr Rod Ledingham and his wife Jenny, who is a doctor. I believe she is the first woman ever to operate in Australia’s interest in the Antarctic. I congratulate her. She is a very fine person. There were two other people who were capable of making a judgment from their trade qualifications as to the condition of Mawson ‘s hut and what we might do to restore it to something like its former condition. There were three members of the Australian Broadcasting Commission who were from the Four Corners staff. I hope that in due course Australians will have the advantage of seeing the film that they prepared as a consequence of their visit there. There were also four very industrious people from the Army who operated the Larks. As honourable senators would know, there are no port facilities or harbour installations of any kind there and it is necessary to operate from the ship anchored offshore. The Army contingent, with two amphibious vehicles called Larks, were able to transport a tremendous amount of material and personnel from ship to shore and return each day.
Also present was the Deputy Director of the Department, Mr Tom Petrie, and another officer of that Department and myself. I pay a tribute to those people, firstly for making me welcome and assisting me to gain a much better understanding of the whole scene than might have been otherwise possible. Certainly, it was not a Pacific cruise. The ship lacked many of the creature comforts and facilities that one might find elsewhere. The cabins were relatively small and confined and it was quite difficult at times when the scientists got to work. I shared a cabin with three people from the scientific area, all of whom were very great mates and very competent people. Indeed, I threw in my lot with them in some respects and assisted the oceanographer for hours each day so that he could get some rest. He had been operating through a 24-hour period. Another person who had changed from last year’s expedition assisted us on the way back. I did play a hand in the operation. There were other occasions when we volunteered for whale watch and for the echo sounder watch so that we could take continuing echo soundings of those virtually uncharted waters. The ship I was on last year struck an uncharted rock at Dumont D’urville base and of course was badly holed and had to come back to Australia for repairs. This shows that we have a lot to learn about navigation there.
On the same theme- I know I am rambling a bit but I am trying to build it into an appreciation of some of the difficulties- when we came back from Casey to Macquarie Island, a distance of about 1,800 miles, there was a stage when we did not know where we were. We had oversailed the island by about 40 miles. That meant a time factor of about four hours to try to recover our position. Navigation is not easy in those waters. Notwithstanding that, on an occasion when the ship’s automatic steering broke down some of us volunteered to help steer and were taken on as helmsmen. By some means or another we managed to keep the ship pointed in the right direction and, as honourable senators can see, we got home.
I want now to deal with the Commonwealth bay scene. Historically and so far as the public interest in concerned, I think this is a matter of very great importance to Australia. As the Minister knows, there has been much debate about whether we should bring back Mawson’s hut, take it to another part of Antarctica or restore it in situ and preserve it as a national monument. I recall a reference made yesterday about the involvement of Senator Withers. I hope he will take on board the suggestions I will make. I do not ask him, as Senator Chaney did the other night, to take copious notes. I noticed that he did not do so anyway.
I feel quite strongly about this matter because it is important for us in Australia to be aware of our history, especially in the present Antarctic climate- I am not talking about the weather but about the world scene in relation to Antarcticato make sure that what we have done there is recognised. If we have buildings like Mawson’s hut and other installations there we can say: ‘We have been here for 60 or 70 years and there is evidence of it there. ‘ If we take away the building that evidence is gone. If the Senate will bear with me I will indicate some of the feelings I had when I stepped ashore at Commonwealth Bay, which was the first pan of Antarctica we visited. I am very proud of the fact that I am the first member of the Parliament ever to visit our Antarctic territory. As I said earlier, I hope that my visit was a forerunner to other visits by people who are interested in the Antarctic scene. If a member of the Parliament cannot have the opportunity to visit Antarctica it is going to be difficult for us to say to the world at large that we are doing a lot of things but members of the Parliament cannot go there. I know that Senator Withers referred to the fact that I will have to pay some of the cost of the visit. I do not mind that so much, but I do not think it is a good precedent. I hope that the situation might be reviewed. I do not ask this for myself. I am not asking for anything particularly because it was an incredible experience for me. We should be able to say to the people of the world: ‘Yes, we are interested and the Parliament of Australia has had people go down there and come back and make reports to the Parliament.’ On 18 January I wrote in my diary:
Left Thala Dan at 1 600 hours -
That is 4 o ‘clock in the afternoon- for Mawson’s hut in Captain’s brig across Commonwealth Bay and landed to a penguins welcome at 1 6 1 5. What an absolutely incredible experience. The afternoon was clear -
This would surprise some people- sunny, warm and sea calm. As I write this -
This was 7.35 at night- the sun is still shining and described a slight ripple on the water at what is described as the windiest place on earth. Winds have been recorded there at 200 m.p.h. With others in the party I went straight to Mawson’s hut which I will try to describe. The outer timbers are bare pine and badly worn by the elements- the corrugated grain is very pronounced and the hut itself is practically full of ice. I was able to put my head and shoulders in through a missing part of the outer wall and saw tins and boxes which were where Mawson had left them. Outside were tins, boxes, two sleds partly held in the ice, a deck chair similarly trapped, ice picks, a number of wheels in a box which were used on the sleds for distance measuring, wires strewn about from the collapsed radio aerial system, the aluminium sole of a boot with grip spikes still in and even what appeared to be a cake in a box still wrapped and tied- after 60-odd years. The timber on the outer surface and roof of the hut and mag building were yellowed, with the flat-head nails clear of the timber, in places a quarter of an inch.
The weathering had been such that it had worn away at least a quarter of an inch of the outer surface of the timber. Perhaps 1 could interpolate to say that the building was constructed in Sydney. It is a double-skin building. There is an outer vertical board and the inner skin of the building is horizontal board of pine with the normal scantling framing. I return to the diary:
The building is in poor condition.
It was my view then that it may well collapse completely if the ice, which must be supporting it, were totally removed. I wrote a note then immediately in capitals:
To move this building is unthinkable and I hope for two reasons it is never attempted. Firstly, you would no more move Mawson’s hut than you would move the pyramids. This is where it belongs and this is where it must stay. Historically Mawson’s hut belongs where it is- in this uniquely historic area where it has existed for all these years. I am even more convinced than ever that to remove it would be a crime. Mawson’s Hut is a fundamental part of the Antarctic and especially the Australian involvement in the history of Antarctic exploration. Mawson’s experiences are legendary. It is our duty to do our utmost to ensure that this building is preserved notwithstanding that the task will not be easy; but if history means anything to us at all this must be done. Secondly, for some of the reasons I have already stated, the physical condition of the hut is such that it would be almost impossible to dismantle the structure and re-erect it somewhere else. The fragile state of the outer walls and roof would not permit taking it apart and I think that to erect it elsewhere than in an Antarctic environment now would see an accelerated deterioration. From what I could see of the main frame of the structure- and this was limited- the frame seemed to be structurally sound but otherwise the building was showing quite advanced evidence of the ravages of the weather. In fact I believe that restoration and preservation immediately is imperative. From what I saw I would estimate that there could be a major collapse in 2 years and this would be tragic.
I shall qualify that shortly. I made a note then about being the first Australian parliamentarian to set foot on Australian Antarctic territory. In fact, I believe I was the first parliamentarian from any nation to set foot on our territory in the Antarctic.
– Did you say you expected to pay for the trip?
– I will leave that matter aside. I do not want to dwell on it. Perhaps at some other stage I might take it up. I went on to say:
In the warmth and comfort of the Thala Dan and after a good meal I thought of the unbelievable hardships endured by Mawson and his mates and of the fact that Mawson returned to his hut only in time to see the ship ‘Aurora ‘ -
That was the ship he took to the region in 1 9 1 1 - just disappearing from the Bay leaving him in a sick and weakened condition to endure another winter in the Antarctic. What must have been his thoughts after the heartbreaks and privations of his Polar journey to realise that he must remain until the next summer in the remote lonely cold winter of the Antarctic?
He had eaten a sled dog which he and his companions needed to exist on. He and his mate, Dr Menz had also eaten part of the liver of a dog which was high in vitamin content. This poisoned him and he suffered badly from it. The dairy continues:
I am quite satisfied now about the future of Mawson ‘s Hut. It must stay where it is. Every effort must be made to preserve it. How? I don’t know but some means must be found to do it. I want the public to support me in this. I am sure that if they saw what I saw today and sensed the atmosphere in this place there would be no doubt in their minds that what I ask is reasonable.
I shall leave the diary for a moment.
– How big is the hut?
– It is a fairly substantial building. It is divided into two sections. The honourable senator may care to have a look at a picture. I do not want to start a film gallery but while I am talking on a subject like this it might be of interest to honourable senators to look at a number of pictures which I have. I have mentioned two of the four people who went south this year on the Thala Dan. The party was put ashore at Commonwealth Bay to survey the conditions of Mawson ‘s Hut and in due course to bring back a report on it. All of us on the ship were involved. We were able to transport the materials ashore at Commonwealth Bay and establish a small hut. It looked like a refrigerated container such as those one sees around container terminals. Into it were put four bunks and enough food for two years in the event that conditions were such that when the relief ship arrived the party could not be taken off. That has happened before. Therefore, it was necessary to put ashore two years supply of food and all the necessary equipment. In less than 24 hours the material was transferred from the ship by helicopter. Two helicopters were working from the ship. Holes were drilled in the rocks and rigging bolts were put in. The whole thing was secured and the people bedded down in the first day we were there. That was an incredible performance by the people on the ship, the helicopter crews and the others who were involved. The next day I was able to go ashore with the expedition leader and the captain of the ship to say farewell to the party. Three of us went ashore to say farewell and to wish the people well.
This is an important undertaking. It is quite a dangerous undertaking. That was borne out by the fact that three days after we left we were not able to make contact with the people at Commonwealth Bay, the reason being that weather conditions had broken up. It was very worrying. There were blizzards for two solid days. The people could not get outside. It was only on the third day that they were able to get outside, rig up a radio aerial and eventually make contact with Dumont D’Urville and our base at Casey and thereby reach our ship. I understand that since making these notes in my diary the party has been able to do some survey work on the hut. With chain saws and other equipment it was able to move a substantial amount of ice and establish that the hut was in a reasonably robust condition. The frame was in good order. The internal sheathing and cladding of the building were in quite good order. There was evidence of weathering of the outer surface of the building. I hope that as a consequence it will be possible to remove the badly worn outer cladding and using plans, specifications and details of the building replace fairly soon the complete outer covering so that it is restored to the condition it was in in the days of Mawson.
I do not know whether honourable senators have read the story of Mawson. Three sled teams went out on the traverse across the ice dome. Mawson led and Dr Mertz followed him with another dog team. Lieutenant Ninnis had the third sled. On that was a good deal of the food they needed. They proposed to establish certain bases and try to reach the South Pole.
– In what year was that?
-I think it was in 1912. Mawson carried on across the ice on the track he was taking. Dr Mertz followed him. Lieutenant Ninnis covered exactly the same track but the top of the ice broke and he fell 150 feet into a crevasse and died. Much of the vital food and a great deal of equipment they needed on the trek went with him. That made the rest of the expedition extremely hazardous. Eventually Mawson and Mertz became very short of food. On the return journey to Commonwealth Bay Dr Mertz became ill after resorting to eating dogs, particularly dog’s liver, and eventually died. Similarly, Mawson himself became ill. It must have been a terrible feeling for that man to return alone to Commonwealth Bay alone after his two mates had died out on the ice just in time to see the ship disappearing, knowing that he was there for another 12 months. He was sick and weary from his journey and sad about the loss of his two mates.
But one must understand the Antarctic scene. It depends on the availability of transport and the critical factor of weather. It is a great problem for us in Australia to design programs in the Antarctic on the basis of our present operation. I do not want to go into that subject. I shall come to it at a later stage in the session. But time was critical. The removal of the Commonwealth Bay party which was assessing the condition of Mawson ‘s hut had to be effected by the end of the month. It was being carried out by the Thala Dan, which we sub-leased from the French. At this time of the year the sea starts to ice over. Once that happens a ship cannot get in or out. It is difficult enough as it is. I had no comprehension of the fact that it would take us two solid days to bash our way through pack ice to reach the Antarctic continent. But that is what happened. I do not know how many miles were covered, but at times we were going backwards; the ship just could not make any headway at all. About two years ago, I think, the Thala Dan got stuck in an icepack for 21 days. It had to wait there until weather conditions broke up the ice before it was able to make some progress through it. Honourable senators must understand that timing is terribly critical.
This is what happened to Mawson. He got back to Commonwealth Bay in the condition which I have described to see the boat which had already waited an extra fortnight disappearing. He knew that he had another long, lonely 12 months to spend in the Antarctic. It must have been a dreadful blow to him when he realised that situation. When you are on the site, on the scene, you get a feeling about it and you can appreciate the fact that our history in the Antarctic has been made by very great men. Somebody described them as men of iron in ships of wood, and that described them very well indeed.
I think it is important to preserve, whenever we possibly can, the history of this country, and as there is growing emphasis and focus on the Antarctic I think we should preserve Mawson’s hut. The members of the party that I accompanied were the first people, apart from two members of the Antarctic Division who visited the area last year for a day or so and put a new hatch on top of the hut to try to keep snow out of it and prevent ice from forming, who had visited the scene for some 64 years. It is incredible to believe that that was the situation. The hut has remained there for some 65 to 67 years without any restoration work being done to it. I believe that if we were to restore the outer cladding of the building it would not be a difficult task from time to time in the future, say at 10-yearly or 20- yearly intervals, to look at the building to make sure that it was still in reasonable condition and as near as possible to its original condition.
The suggestion has been made that perhaps the outer cladding of the building as it now is could be removed and brought back to Australia and a replica of the hut itself could be built at some suitable location to be decided on in Australia. Then there would be some authenticity about it because there could be available for viewing by the people a replica of the hut as it now is in the Antarctic. I think that might be a very good compromise. I just offer those suggestions. I make the very strong plea- I am quite sincere about this-that Mawson’s hut must remain in the Antarctic. I hope that that will be the thrust of the report that the Minister for Science gets and that he will accept it.
I have talked to many people. As I have said, there is a growing awareness about the Antarctic; greater emphasis is being placed on it. I had a telephone call yesterday from a gentleman who is now with the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation and who did two winterings in the Antarctic. He is a very able person. In fact, he may be remembered as the man who was engaged to do the commentary on the Boeing flights to the Antarctic, of which there have now been seven. When we were on the way back through the Southern Ocean those Boeing flights passed over us. We did not see them because of atmospheric conditions, but in fact on one day we were talking to the people on the aircraft as it went towards the Antarctic. After having floundered our way down there and plunged our way back again it was very hard to believe that in a period of 12 or 13 hours that aircraft could have left Sydney, gone down to the Antarctic and shown people the area, returned to Australia and landed safe and sound in Sydney while we were still, as I say, slogging away in the Southern Ocean in the sorts of conditions that exist there from time to time.
I hope at a later stage to have the opportunity to respond to the Minister’s invitation to supply a report to the Parliament, and I can do that because, as I have said, I took notes daily of what I saw. I had the very great advantage of talking with the scientific people who went with us. They are tremendously enthusiastic about instituting a program of scientific investigation into the resources of the Antarctic. The trip was organised so that on succeeding days scientists from the various areas of the sciences addressed all those on board the ship about what they were doing there and what they had found. I only wish that we could have had a tape recording of the addresses because they were incredibly interesting. These people are fascinated by the Antarctic scene. They are highly competent people, and I think it was a great idea, a very good decision indeed, to allow them to go into the Antarctic.
I now know from my own experience there that we can achieve a very great deal more than we are doing at the moment if we upgrade our transport systems as other countries have done with their systems, and I think it is possible to do that. For instance, one way this can be done is by using ski-equipped Hercules aircraft which actually can land within 1 7 kilometres of our Casey station. That can be done. I went out with a party of survey people who were competent to assess the situation and we found an area- in fact, it had been surveyed earlier by the officerincharge at Casey- where an aircraft in fact could land, I would suggest, all the year round, provided meteorological reports indicated the absence of blizzard conditions. But in any case, Hercules aircraft with a capability of flying 4,000 miles could visit Casey from McMurdo Sound, the American base, which is some 1,200 miles away, and could fly back. It could fly from McMurdo Sound down to Casey and back again, but if conditions were found to be unsuitable for landing when it got to Casey it could return to McMurdo Sound without any difficulty at all. I think these are the things that Australia has to be doing. They can be done. I understand that it would be possible, with the expenditure of a considerable sum of money, to put an all-year-round air base at our Davis base. It would not need a good deal of equipment to enable flights to go to
Casey. I believe that the first flight contemplated to go into Casey is set down for November this year, and that will be a very great move forward.
I just say this to the Senate: We cannot expect scientists to spend 35 days on a ship wallowing down through the southern ocean, which is not all the time the sort of place in which one would like to be, through the icepack and back again to Australia so that they can do about eight days ‘ effective work, if that. We have to find a better way of doing it. Our hopes for the future lie in the scientific exploration of the resources in that area, as I think I pointed out in the early part of my speech, and consideration must be given to upgrading our communications systems so that we can match other countries which currently, as is the case with the United States of America and the Soviet Union, do not recognise our claims to sovereignty over the areas in the Antarctic which we believe are our possessions. In fact, the Russians have three bases on Australian Antarctic territory, and we will have some problems in the future when the time comes to renegotiate the Antarctic Treaty in, I think, 1991. Australia will have to make some sort of a showing in the intervening period so that the world at large will know that we are there and we are carrying out work of a scientific nature and of a kind which proposes to enhance man’s existence on this earth. Without that showing of course there is no point in being there.
Somebody said to me during the trip: ‘You know, we are not doing very much here’. I think that it is a case of put up or shut up. Australia has got to upgrade its activities in the Antarctic. It can do it in a great many ways at comparatively little extra cost. I suggest at this stage- without going into it deeply again- that in fact Macquarie Island is really no part of the Antarctic scene. Yet the Antarctic Division spends 25 per cent of its budget on Macquarie Island. There is no dispute about our sovereignty over Macquarie Island. It is part of the territorial property of Tasmania. It is in the Esperance Municipality of Tasmania. There is no dispute. It is not a part of the Antarctic; it is sub- Antarctic. It ought not to require a fortnight of the time of ships which are especially built for Antarctic work to be detoured to Macquarie Island to carry out scientific work there when an ordinary ship could do that.
I hope that we establish a fourth base in the Antarctic proper. Remember that at the moment our total strength in the Antarctic is only 66 people; add to that the 19 people on Macquarie Island; and our total Antarctic effort is 85 people.
Would it be easy to justify to the various countries a claim that we are doing all we could be doing in the Antarctic when our total representation there is 66 people, many of whom are service people, logistics people, people doing necessary back-up work such as electricians, carpenters, diesel operators, plant operators and the like? When one subtracts that number from the total number one sees how lamentably little we are doing in the Antarctic.
– Yes, it is laughable. We are all to blame for this. I do not think one can point the finger at any particular person or any particular area. I think we are all responsible for this. I, as a member of this Parliament, have been there and seen these things. I believe that on my return I have an obligation to inform the Parliament of what I saw. I believe I have an obligation to alert the Parliament to the facts. I hope- I have just reason to believe that this hope will not be unfounded- that we will greatly improve our effort in the Antarctic. I know that many people want to help us.
We cannot expect highly trained and highly skilled people to spend a great deal of time- five weeks- to do one week’s work. By upgrading our systems there, with the right people doing the work, we could do as much, perhaps more, in one summer or one year than we are now doing in five years. I have considered this matter deeply. I have talked with the scientific people involved. I had many discussions with them, both in groups and individually. Since my return they have responded to my request that they provide me with information and views which they have formed on our involvement in the Antarctic and what we should be doing there.
These people are highly enthusiastic. They are very competent and highly trained. They want to help. They point out that in our universities we have uncommitted facilities where the follow-up work to their scientific activities could be carried out. They pointed out that work in the universities could be made much more interesting and that people who have been doing studies for years on something that is not terribly relevant now might switch their interest to an Antarctic study and a study of the various areas of the sciences, and so add greatly to their interest. The universities are there, the equipment is there, the laboratories are there, the tutors and people who are competent in the various fields are there. At very little extra cost indeed we could be doing a great deal more than we are doing at the present time. This is becoming more widely known as the days go by. I confidently believe that we will see an upgrading of our activities in the Antarctic.
I feel very honoured to have been the first parliamentarian to go there. I feel under an obligation to inform the Parliament of what I saw. As an Australian citizen interested in our total parliamentary involvement, I believe that we must do a great deal more than we are doing there at the moment. I sincerely hope that we will do more in the future. I know that there are financial stringencies. There are other considerations as well. They must be given very deep consideration when our next Budget is being framed, to ensure that our work in the Antarctic is substantially upgraded at least sufficiently to match the effort being made by many other countries, so that we can with some confidence- if this is what we intend to do- go into the forums of the world and say that we are playing our part in the Antarctic and that we believe we have a just right to our claim of sovereignty over these Territories.
I thank the Senate for its indulgence tonight. I am very pleased to have had the wonderful experience of visiting that historic site at Commonwealth Bay; to have been involved, as I was, with the various activities on the ship; and to have met such a lot of wonderful people on the trip down there and on the way back, when I learned from those who came back with me the sorts of feelings they had had in the isolation.
Before I resume my seat, I think I should say that some of the creature comforts which one can enjoy on the continent of Australia are very noticeably lacking in the Antarctic. For instance, at Casey Base there is no gymnasium. I think that we should at least provide some sort of area for recreation for people who are confined indoors for months. The only room they have there for this purpose- it is part of a conjoint building- is a storeroom which has been cleared out and some very basic physical training equipment put in by the expeditioners. We must do better than that.
The accommodation situation needs to be looked at very closely. The little rooms which they call their ‘dongers’ are very small. The men are very confined in their rooms which lack many facilities. In fact, the walls are paper thin. If a person breathes in one room he can be heard in the next room. That was all right in earlier years, but I think we must adopt a more sophisticated attitude to these things now. I make a plea to the Government to upgrade the structures and the facilities provided in the Antarctic and to ensure that the lives of the expeditioners are made a little easier.
These people do not complain much when one talks to them in a group but when one talks to individuals, as I did, and asks them what they really feel about the situation one finds some areas of genuine complaint. I felt rather sad about that because when I left Casey Bay to head back to Macquarie Island I saw 23 people there who were to spend 12 months, perhaps 13 months, of their lives in that isolated, rather desolate, but at the same time quite beautiful pan of the world. It is a long way from home. Communication is not easy. The life is not easy. Human beings being what they are, with their normal human reactions to things, have to make a very concerted effort indeed to learn to live with their fellow men there.
I admire the spirit of these people who, when they realise that somebody has a problem, come together to help with that problem. Two of the expeditioners who came back with me had serious problems. As in the old days in the Services when somebody was in difficulty, everybody gathered around and helped, shielded and sheltered those people from their problems so that they could come back to Australia and perhaps take up their lives again. I had thought that after 12 months experience in some specialised field of work in the Antarctic it would be easy for these people to get jobs when they came back to Australia. I was amazed to learn that that is not so. Some people, by an arrangement with their former employers, can return to their former occupations, others cannot. I sounded the warning to them all that if they had any prospect at all of getting back into their old jobs in Australia they should take it and then launch off somewhere else later if they felt that the conditions back in this country were such as to warrant that action. It is very difficult.
The people in the Antarctic receive very little information. They were terribly disappointed and terribly unhappy that they received very little information about the recent general election in Australia. They wanted to know- they were asking me- what had happened in various electorates, what the parties had done and so on. I did not ask any of them their political views, but they were deeply disappointed that they were unable to cast a vote in the general election. I told them that I had raised this matter following my visit to Macquarie Island last March. I do not think that it is beyond the bounds of possibility that the Commonwealth Electoral Act could be amended- I know that the Leader of the Government, Senator Withers, has acknowledged that it would be possible- to provide for votes to be cast in a place like the Antarctic.
The officer in charge could be the returning officer, and people could be made scrutineers. Ballot papers could be prepared, and votes cast. The ballot box could be locked, sealed and brought back to Australia at the first opportunity. That would mean that all Australians had an opportunity to vote.
Top level people there- I will not mention names; no names, no pack drill- were all critical of the fact that an election had been held and they were not part of it. They ought to be part of it. They are doing a wonderful job for this country, giving up a substantial part of their lives to go down there to serve this country and the country ought to acknowledge it to the extent of providing them with a vote when the country goes to the polls. That covers what I intended to raise tonight. I now have some information on which I was waiting and I will shortly prepare a report. It will be with very great pleasure that I will provide the Senate with a report of my trip to the Antarctic.
– I rise to support the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply which was moved so ably by Senator Walters and seconded by Senator Collard. In doing so I congratulate Senator Haines on her maiden speech which has been justly praised by many speakers. I join with them. It is significant that this Address-in-Reply is directed to the new Governor-General, Sir Zelman Cowen, who already has had a distinguished career in academic and public life in Australia. I take this opportunity to join others in this chamber who have extended congratulations to Sir Zelman on his appointment. I believe that he will enhance the office which he holds, as will Lady Cowen who will add a special graciousness to the office and particularly to Government House at Yarralumla.
I take this opportunity also to compliment Senator Devitt on the speech he has just made and to which I listened with great interest. He has shown a comprehensive understanding of and sympathy for the Antarctic on matters ranging from exploration and scientific research to voting rights for those serving in the Antarctic. In dealing as he did so sympathetically with the Antarctic, it has been of significance for many of us to listen to what he had to say and to hear what he wrote in his diary because the Antarctic is a very important element in Australia’s history and traditions but one which has too often been obscured by other factors. Nevertheless, it is coming to a new prominence in the affairs of the nation both domestically and, as Senator Devitt pointed out, internationally. It is something to which many of us in this country and certainly in this Parliament will need to address ourselves more comprehensively than we have done in the past.
Earlier in the Address-in-Reply debate Senatory Chaney pointed out that a major theme in much of the public life of the Governor-General, Sir Zelman Cowen, has been a great respect for democracy and its various institutions as well as for the principles of liberal democracy. It is worth noting that those are probably the main themes underlying the Governor-General’s Speech which was delivered to the Parliament at the opening of the 31st Parliament. It is worth stressing that that Speech and the policies enunciated in it were based on principles of modern liberalism. It outlines a program which I believe expresses Liberal ideals and a practical liberal philosophy. It contained policies which are relevant and realistic given the resources at our disposal and the situation which the Government and the nation face. The Speech showed special concern for the welfare of people in need in our community. It referred to the expanded availability of domiciliary nursing facilities in Australia. The funding of the programs of housing for the aged and housing for the handicapped will be extended for a further year.
One of the major fundamental reforms announced first of all in the Prime Minister’s policy speech and referred to in the GovernorGeneral ‘s address is that in future handicapped children will be educated so that the costs to their parents will be no greater than the costs to parents of other children. For too long in our society and in most others handicapped children and adults have faced not only the physical, visual or intellectual handicaps that they may have but also the additional handicaps they encounter within society with problems ranging from the cost of medical care and education to simpler but no less important matters such as access to buildings. The Speech referred appropriately to the expansion of services for migrant welfare, health and education programs and very significantly to the development of an ethnic television service. It referred to innovations in the field of human rights and civil liberties, the establishment of a human rights commission and to freedom of information legislation which I hope will be given priority.
One of the issues to which many speakers have addressed themselves throughout the debate is the relevance of Parliament, the institution in which we all participate. I think we all welcomed the announcement in the Governor-General’s
Speech that there will be an inquiry into questions relating to the public duty and private interests of members of parliament and others in public life. One would hope that out of this inquiry will come clear guidelines on these matters for all people in public life. The GovernorGeneral’s Speech also referred to the development of the parliamentary committee system and there are many aspects of it which deserve careful examination. Many speakers in this debate have referred to them. Senator Chaney and Senator Rae in particular suggested reforms and innovations which are of great significance to the Parliament and to this chamber.
I mention in passing that I have a personal view that the life of the Parliament should be extended to four years and that it ought to be a mandatory term, although I recognise that for it to be made mandatory there are many very substantial constitutional problems to be overcome. It is obviously a matter which, although it is now under examination by a government committee, ought to go to the Constitutional Convention to be examined by it. This is an appropriate time for Australia to be looking to further constitutional reforms. More than three-quarters of a century have elapsed since the establishment of the Federation and we must look at the relevance of our Constitution and the relevance of this Parliament and re-examine them. Where there are appropriate reforms and these can be agreed upon, they ought to be put to the people or if they can be otherwise implemented this should be done. Senator Chaney, as many other speakers in the debate have done, referred to a paper by Professor Reid in which there is a significant quotation which refers to the Parliament:
It is to the Parliament’s disadvantage that its official secretariat is fragmented into even more parts than the Parliament itself.
It does seem that we might all benefit- officers and members- from some consolidation of the parliamentary departments which administer the services and facilities of the Parliament. Of equal significance in Professor Reid’s paper was a statement, as I recall, was also referred to by Senator Chaney and I would like to quote it again. Referring to the outcome of matters referred to earlier in the paper, Professor Reid said:
The outcome has been that the more numerous of the two Houses- the House of Representatives- has become the captive of the Executive Government of the day and is now a sadly repressed and debilitated parliamentary chamber. The Senate, due to a variety of circumstances, has developed the ability to check, to question, even obstruct the government of the day but as a result it has become widely a criticised and frequently maligned and threatened parliamentary body.
Despite that. I think it emphasises the fact that the Senate has an important and perhaps critical role to play in the future of the Parliament as a legislative institution and in the relationship between the legislature and the Executive. It is also worth looking back at the well-known book by Professor Crisp entitled Australian National Government, in which several years ago he wrote:
It is nowadays a commonplace in British countries that Parliament is in eclipse, a pale, even sickly pale, moon reflecting but a little of the shining sunlight of Executive power. Amongst British Parliaments around the world the Australian has perhaps suffered a more substantial eclipse than most.
I do not think many people in the Parliament or in the Australian community seriously question those judgments. But I also think that most would argue that it is essential to uphold the role of Parliament as the source of government and as the voice of the people. That is obviously also a matter for the Parliament itself. I agree with Professor Reid. It seems to me that the Senate is the essential means of achieving this aim. It is within the power of the Senate to reform itself and to ensure that it maintains the critical parliamentary role which it, and thus the Parliament, holds. If we do not we will not have far to look for those responsible. Indeed, we will not have to look far beyond the chamber. The reference in the Governor-General’s Speech to some reform of the committee system in parliament is a sign that the Executive supports the need for reform. I hope, in addition, that the Senate and the House of Representatives will address themselves to the need for parliamentary reform so that parliament will be more relevant and more effective as a legislature.
I wish to deal briefly with some aspects of social policy relating to handicapped and disabled people in the community. In the past two years the Government has done a good deal, for example, by the improvements in the handicapped child’s allowance and the handicapped children’s benefit. Without going into detail on those and the various allowances which have been increased and facilities which have been improved, I shall quickly refer to a few areas where I think the Government might examine further initiatives in accordance with the sorts of proposals and ideals expressed in the GovernorGeneral’s Speech relating to the equality of facilities for handicapped persons with respect to education, for example.
One area in which a good deal has already been achieved in the past two years is in services for the visually handicapped provided by the
National Library. A register of services was prepared by the Library in 1976, if I recall correctly. The Library is now in the process of developing a union catalogue of all taped and Braille material available for the visually and physically handicapped in Australia through libraries. It is now extending the register of services. An announcement earlier this week said that the register which was published in 1976 is to be extended and some 707 organisations and groups are to be contacted so that a more comprehensive register of library services available to the handicapped within Australia will be established.
Recently I was in the United States and I discussed with people at the Library of Congress in its Division for the Blind and Physically Handicapped the network of services throughout the United States for such people. It is a comprehensive service and takes in more than 100 libraries throughout the United States. It is based on the Library of Congress, which is equivalent to our National Library. I believe we ought to be looking at some sort of similar network in Australia for visually and physically handicapped people. It may also be relevant for mildly intellectually handicapped people. That situation ought to be kept in mind. The National Library in Canada and the Library of Congress in the United States concentrate their efforts on the blind and physically handicapped. But I think these services where they are relevant ought to be considered also for the intellectually handicapped.
We might benefit from establishing some branch within the National Library of Australia to develop services for the handicapped. Both the National Library in Canada and the Library of Congress have such a branch. I think the time has come when we ought to have a similar branch within our National Library to coordinate and intensify the very valuable work which has been done already. I know that the National Library is giving great attention to this matter. It has already achieved a good deal. If I recall correctly, 1981 is to be the United Nations Year of the Disabled. This is the sort of initiative we could undertake in preparation for that year. We could take it a step further. Libraries in countries such as the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, are compiling union catalogues and registers of services. The Royal National Institute for the Blind is also doing it in the United Kingdom. This offers scope for the development of international inter-library loan services for the handicapped. This idea has been proposed by a man who lives in Canberra, Mr David Page. He travels extensively, particularly to North America. He is visually handicapped and he is taking a great interest in and spends much time looking at the development of services for visually handicapped people. His idea ought to be looked at sympathetically by the Government to see what can be achieved. I believe a great deal could be achieved fairly readily.
A number of other things might be examined in an attempt to assist more adequately the handicapped within our community. I have spoken before about the concept of an institute on mental retardation. In Toronto recently I visited the Canadian National Institute on Mental Retardation. It has technical and professional resources and co-ordinates those resources and voluntary organisations. It has extensive training and research facilities. It is a major national information centre of facilities, services and research relating to mental retardation. There are already similar institutes in the United States and in the Caribbean. I understand that one is planned for New Zealand. In Australia we have the National Advisory Council for the Handicapped and the Australian Council for the Rehabilitation of the Disabled. They are important co-ordinating bodies. We have the Australian Association for the Mentally Retarded. I believe we could benefit significantly in this country- certainly the intellectually handicapped and mentally retarded could benefit greatly- from the establishment of an institute on mental retardation. I know the Government is looking at that matter. I hope it will continue to do so and that we might continue to develop more effective programs for intellectually handicapped people.
I believe also that we must have more adequate statistics relating to handicapped people in our society. We have never had them. In 1 97 1 the first report of the Senate Standing Committee on Health and Welfare, which dealt with mentally and physically handicapped persons in Australia, had as its second, third, fourth, fifth and sixth recommendations proposals relating to the need for better information and statistics relating to handicapped people within Australia, the degrees of handicapped and the location of handicapped people. That is something on which we should be working as a matter of some priority. To co-ordinate services more effectively, to understand needs and to know where they exist we need better basic statistical information.
Another group whose potential contribution to our society has been too long or too often overlooked is the aged. It is worth noting that in the United States aged persons make an enormous contribution through voluntary programs or through ‘voluntarism’. The United States has a federal agency for voluntary services which is known as Action. Action, which deals with the Peace Corps as an overseas operation, has six goals. Rather than read them out I seek leave to incorporate them in Hansard.
The document read as follows-
THE SIX GOALS OF ACTION
To mobilize volunteers to participate in the innovative efforts of state and local governments, communities and institutions to solve local social and economic problems, particularly by strengthening and supplementing efforts towards helping the poor to overcome the handicaps of poverty.
To support those programs of local governments, communities and institutions which will call upon volunteers to demonstrate new ways of solving community problems, particularly those related to poverty, and will lead to a continuing effort supported by local resources.
To increase the participation in volunteer anti-poverty and other community improvement projects of the full range of community organizations.
To stimulate interest by the local citizenry to join in the efforts to solve local problems, particularly those related to poverty, and to generate such interest by allowing local citizens greater input into the design and operation of programs.
To increase the relevance of volunteer activity to efforts to solve the problems of local communities, particularly those related to poverty, by generating and utilizing greater number of community volunteers in serving in their own communities and drawn from all quarters of the community.
To create and stimulate new approaches to voluntarism which demonstrate the potential of volunteers as a resource for the solution of problems arising out of poverty and other human needs.
These voluntary programs for aged persons in the United States provide the dignity and satisfaction of making a continuing contribution to the community. For example, there is the Retired Senior Volunteers Program in which senior volunteers serve in schools, libraries, correctional institutions, hospitals, nursing homes, telephone reassurance schemes and local government agencies. Their activities include teaching, tutoring, cooking, driving for meals-on-wheels, making visits to patients in nursing homes, and helping out in a variety of ways. They make a significant contribution to people in need in the community and provide a service that otherwise might not exist.
The Foster Grandparents program, which is also for people over 60 years of age, permits older people to act as grandparents to children, frequently handicapped children, and provide care and attention which otherwise might be lacking. It is important for the children but it is also important for the older people. The Senior Companion Program permits older people to act as companions to other older people, particularly the frail aged. Both parties benefit in that. One is able to lead a more satisfactory life and the other also to make a contribution to society at a time when so many people are retired and looking for something more constructive to do in their retirement. As I understand it, some 250,000 aged Americans are involved in these and similar voluntary programs. It would seem to me that that sort of scheme ought to be considered in Australia. I know that the Overseas Service Bureau, which operates Australian Volunteers Abroad, is looking at the possibility of a domestic voluntary program. It is something that deserves close consideration and ought to be encouraged by the Government.
– What is Australian Volunteers Abroad?
– It is a voluntary program organised by the Overseas Service Bureau and based in Melbourne. It sends Australians overseas on minimal remuneration to serve in Asian, Pacific and some African countries.
– About 80 people left recently.
-That is true. They serve in various capacities ranging from carpenters to teachers. I think that is a fair comment on the range of skills that they bring to bear in a voluntary capacity. I believe that the concept of voluntarism is worth considering and one that the Australian Government ought to examine.
I should like to deal finally with one or two questions relating to foreign policy. I believe that it is essential now to examine the many elements of change facing Australia’s foreign policy. Inevitably they affect us, and the GovernorGeneral ‘s Speech made reference to this. Many elements need to be assessed carefully and then reassessed as we develop a foreign policy to take us into the 1980s and the latter years of this century. Many proposals have been made for a new international economic order, and I think it is worth quoting a speech made by the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr Peacock) at the National Press Club on 18 November 1976. He said:
In terms of the established, traditional agenda -
That is the international agenda- framed essentially in terms of political and military power, our problem -
That is Australia ‘s problem- has always been that we do not possess enough of that power. Our broad foreign policy strategy has been to make up for that deficiency by maintaining close alliances with other democratic countries. But to the extent that the ‘new agenda’- with its emphasis on economic questions, North/South issues of redistribution, food, nuclear energy, mineral resources- comes to prevail, our position will be quite different. In most cases, it will be one of being rather richly endowed with the going currency, rather than being short of it. This is likely to increase our international significance and bargaining power in some respects, but it also is likely to result in more demands being made on us, more pressure being brought to bear.
It is in the context of an emerging new agenda that trade and tariffs, questions such as the exchange of technology and the expansion of development assistance to the less affluent countries, become increasingly significant. I think that we have to address ourselves to those questions in a frame of mind rather different from the one in which we addressed major international issues in the 1950s and 1960s. I believe that the foreign policy which the Government is implementing and which was referred to in the GovernorGeneral ‘s Speech does that.
But a number of other elements have to be examined. For example, Senator Devitt referred to the Antarctic. As I mentioned earlier in my remarks, the Antarctic is emerging as a major international issue. As I recall it, we have the largest territory in the Antarctic. We have territory there with New Zealand, the Soviet Union and the United States, and there are real questions as to who has the right to that territory. Many of the Third World countries believe that the resources that are assumed to exist in the Antarctic ought to be shared, and that is a question which Australia must face up to. There are also issues such as that involving the Cocos Island, which may not over many years have been considered to be a major international issue but which is one to which we now have to address ourselves. Many other similar issues have been in the background for a long time but are now emerging. There is the zone of peace, freedom and neutrality that has been proposed by the Association of South East Asian Nations. We have said that we are sympathetic to that concept but we do not necessarily consider that it is achievable. That is something to which we might consider giving more positive support and discuss in greater detail with the ASEAN countries. Perhaps in the future we could lend a little more support to the concept. Certainly a proposal such as that is worth a try. If it does not work not much can be done about it, but it is worth a try. 1 should like to refer particularly to one of the essential elements of our foreign policy and national security policy, alluded to in the opening remarks of the Governor-General on foreign policy. I refer to the pact that we have with the United States and New Zealand which is known as ANZUS. That pact grew out of very different circumstances in the post-war world, and whilst many of its concepts are still valuable I think that the time has come for us to look at ways to bring it up to date and perhaps to expand its relevance. That is already happening, and it relates back to the sorts of points made by the Minister for Foreign Affairs in his speech at the National Press Club on 18 November 1976. The change is occurring because the agenda is changing, and the question then is whether perhaps the treaty ought to change too. The Treaty does refer in its preamble to the prospect of the development of a more comprehensive system of regional security in the Pacific area. Article VIII refers to the Council of ANZUS, which consists of the Foreign Ministers, and states. . . the Council … is authorised to maintain a consultative relationship with States, Regional Organisations, Associations of States or other authorities in the Pacific Area in a position to further the purposes of this Treaty and to contribute to the security of that Area.
I suppose that it depends a little on one’s definition of security, but certainly security now takes in much more than military power, as suggested by the Foreign Minister in the statement that I quoted earlier. It now includes essential elements of economic relationships, trade, tariffs and so on- all the elements of the new agenda. In that context, I think it is worth looking at the communique issued following the last meeting of the ANZUS Council in Wellington in July 1977. The communique states:
The Ministers recognised that the health of the economies of the three partners is of concern to each, for it affects their capacity to play the responsive and responsible role that world and regional circumstances demand of them and which is their common desire. They therefore agreed that they would consider their economic relationships and mutual problems within this larger framework.
It is that emphasis on economic issues and relationship, on the development of the economies of the three ANZUS partners, that is rather different from the context in which the ANZUS Treaty was drawn up following World War II. It emphasises the changing nature of the Treaty relationship and perhaps the need for some reexamination of the Treaty itself. The communique also referred to the Council ‘s review of world developments, which included consideration of the global economic situation. So although the Treaty was focused on the Pacific, the ANZUS partners are now examining the global economic situation. The communique goes on to state:
Ministers reiterated their commitment to maintain and if possible increase effectively and substantially the flow of assistance to the developing world and to play a constructive part in international efforts to bring about a more equitable and soundly based world economic order.
Again, that emphasises that security is now not seen simply in terms of military power, as the Foreign Ministry suggested in November 1 976, but rather in economic terms. The communique also stated :
The council members shared a special interest in the Asia/Pacific region and in contributing towards stability in the area.
Again, that is a significant change, because the ANZUS Treaty refers only, and very specifically, to the Pacific area. The communique refers to the Asia/Pacific area and shows a broadening horizon on the part of the ANZUS partners. Again, I think that begs the question whether the Treaty needs to be re-examined more comprehensively. I read further from the communique:
The Council noted that each of the ANZUS members attaches special importance to its relations with Japan and to the close consultations which they maintain with that country on the many matters of mutual interest.
It is worth recalling in that context that ANZUS grew out of the Japanese Peace Treaty. That emphasises more symbolically than does anything else in the communique the changing circumstances, the changing international environment and the changes which, perhaps, ought to occur in the ANZUS Treaty. The communique refers to the Association of South East Asian Nations, to the South Pacific, to the interests of the three partners in the countries of the South Pacific, and to economic developments in that region. So it would seem that we do need to look at ANZUS which, I think, is perceived as a security, a military pact. Thus, our relationship with the United States is seen as being based on a security-style military pact which was signed and ratified in the early 1950s.
It is important that our relationship with the United States be seen in the context of the more than 100 agreements, conventions and exchanges of letters- we had an example of the latter presented in this chamber today- which form the relationship between us. It is not one based simply on security arrangements, on a military pact. It is a much broader and more mature relationship than that, and I hope that some measures might be taken to ensure that all of us, the Australian community generally would perceive our relationship with the United States in that broader context. We have a treaty of friendship and co-operation with Japan, and perhaps we ought to be looking toward a treaty such as that with the United States, while maintaining the ANZUS Treaty. It is with pleasure that I support the Address-in-Reply motion by Senator Walters, and with many other honourable senators, look forward to the opportunity to join in presenting it to the Governor-General.
– I have nothing provocative to offer tonight. It is a little late in the debate to generate heat in oneself, let alone heat in anyone else. Nevertheless, I take the opportunity firstly to commend the appointment of Sir Zelman Cowen as Governor-General. I do this with some weight, because Sir Zelman Cowen and myself were at variance for a period of time in Queensland, when he was Vice-Chancellor of the University of Queensland and there were some disturbances on the campus. He accused me of being inflammatory, and I retorted that the events were inflammatory and that perhaps he was responsible for them. Nevertheless, the appointment is a good one, and to be highly commended. Sir Zelman Cowen is a man of exceptional talent. We witnessed, at the opening of Parliament, a demonstration of that skill in his presentation, on behalf of the Government, of his Address. The content of that Address was questionable, but the manner of its presentation was excellent. The appointment of Sir Zelman Cowen, I trust, brings to an end a period of dispute which has involved that office, and concerning which much has been said.
– Only because the people have put you in your place.
– The persons responsible for the decision that Sir John Kerr made were the members of your party, Senator. There can be no question of the manoeuvres that took place, manoeuvres which created an impossible situation, in which the Governor-General was forced into wrongly making a decision which dismissed the elected government of the day and appointed another -
– The people elected another government.
-The honourable senator will not accept that fact, and what he says now is an example of the very thing of which I speak, and which I hope has been brought to an end- a division in, a polarisation of, the community that has been brought about by the extraordinary behaviour of Government supporters and the extraordinary decision on November 1975 on the part of the then Governor-General. I hope that is all at an end.
I wish there were some other way to appoint a Governor-General than by decision of a Prime Minister or an Executive. It would be better if we had some other device. My own inclination, and I am indifferent really concerning its acceptance, would be to have an elective office but, since people seem to recoil from the thought of a republic, I am not prepared at this stage to press the point. I think eventually, because of needespecially if there is a repetition of the behaviour of November 1975- Australia as a whole will accept the concept of a republic, the concept of a president; but that is so far in the future that we need not be concerned about it tonight.
Since this debate began we have witnessed some rather extraordinary events in this Parliament, and they cannot be allowed to pass without comment. I need to make that comment now. I know that we are likely to have next week a debate on the matter of security of the nation as a whole. Today there was put down a statement concerning the security of Parliament House, but I do not think I ought to let this occasion pass without making some reference to the events of last week and the extraordinary measures that were taken without consulting those primarily concerned, the members of the Parliament, to secure this place. Their wishes were not canvassed. If they had been it may have been made clear that many of us do not place out safety on such a level that we would demand that we be surrounded by security measures of the type that we witnessed last week.
When has it been accepted that life and limb should be placed above the freedom of movement and association of the individual? Have all of use here accepted as fact that there is a need to be so protected? I very much doubt it, because I believe something basic is involved here; that we should show the necessary courage in the face of external threat of the type such as we faced last week; that we should face that threat without the overprotection of security forces, police forces and the army itself.
- Senator, it may not be we who get hurt; it may be innocent people around us.
– I say only that the risk that innocent people may be hurt is increased by the very measures that we take to protect ourselves. I am of the opinion that during our representation in this place many of us have been under threat from a variety of directions, whether it be from a constituent who is deranged, from a group that is strongly opposed to us or from some fanatic. Some of us merely accept it, make a note of it, perhaps report it, but do not publicise it. Others amongst us feel so outraged that we make it public. My opinion is that we do a disservice if we make it public.
When we accept public office of this sort we accept a risk, and if we accept the risk we should appear to accept that risk and not expect measures to be taken to protect us, as those measures were taken last week. Where does it end? Whom do we cease to protect? Whom do we protect and whom do we not protect? When the matter is put in the balance, is it a reasonable result to have freedom raised up if on the other side of the balance our security is weighed down by overprotection? That simile, metaphor or analogy is very mixed.
– That is almost the philosophy of the Crimes (Foreign Incursions and Recruitment) Bill.
– If I were to continue in that way I would need to have the skill of Senator Wright in continuing an extremely long sentence, using the verbs in the right place and coming to the correct conclusion. He is a past master at it, and we regret that shortly we will not be able to listen to his long and rambling but concluded sentences.
– I do not live by the apprehension that anybody would think a bullet was worth being expended on me, or you.
– That is exactly right. I take that seriously and I think it is worth considering. I do not think any person’s freedom should be limited for either Senator Wright’s protection or my protection.
– What about the person ‘s protection, though?
-The people’s freedom to move into their Parliament should not be limited. I make only this comment on the statement which will be debated next week: I hope that no expenditure is being incurred which will in any way pre-empt our decision next week when we debate the matter. I am told that already passes are being issued to attendants; yet we have not debated the matter in this place. I hope that no security measures are being taken now and no expenditure is being incurred now on certain devices which will make this place like an airport, without the matter having been debated in this place.
– As the Greek philosophers would tell you, freedom is defended only if you destroy its attackers.
-What affronted me more than anything else was to be sitting in the foyer downstairs and to see Senator Wright come into this place and be asked for a pass. He has been in this place for so long and a servant of this Parliament asked him for a pass before he was permitted to enter. And at the front of this Parliament at 7 a.m., two of us were told that we could not enter without a pass and without being searched.
– You cannot enter my door unless I open it to you.
-It is not your door.
– No; at my home- and this is the nation’s home.
-That is right. That door should be open to everyone who wishes to enter, within certain limits. That is what we have to discuss next week. That is what we have to decide upon. Let me give honourable senators a word of caution: The guns that protected this place and faced outwards faced outwards also in other parliaments- in Athens in particular- but in the end those guns turned back against the Parliament itself and against the people. We cannot set up certain measures of security without placing ourselves at the mercy of those who control security. Schemes which are set up to protect us are schemes which can be used against us. Ask the Greeks. The plan that was used to overthrow democracy in Greece was the plan that was devised by the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation to protect Greece. I just issue a word of warning: Before we do anything foolish in the protection of this Parliament, let us be careful to consider where that protection leads. The limitation of our freedom to move may extend to the limitation of other people’s freedom to move.
One comment made in the course of this debate stirred me more than any other, lt was Senator Walters from Tasmania who first made it. I thought that perhaps Senator Walters did not properly understand what she was saying. But when it was reinforced by a remark made by Senator Withers, the Leader of the Government in the Senate, I began to take notice. After all, as Leader of the Government in the Senate, his opinions carry considerable weight. The remark was this: ‘If you have nothing to hide you have nothing to fear’.
– The man who has no secrets has no fears.
-‘The man who has no secrets has no fears. The man who has nothing to hide has nothing to fear’. That is indefensible when one looks back to Hitler’s Germany and realises that there was a race there that had nothing to hide but plenty to fear. In South Africa, a person who has perhaps a touch of negro blood has nothing to hide but he has plenty to fear if he endeavours to pass for a white man.
– Robbie Burns said: ‘The man who fears that the truth should be heard is the man whom the truth would indict’.
-Well, Robbie Burns and I have just parted company. That is a far better way of putting what Senator Walters and Senator Withers said. But there is much to fear. Many people have little to hide but much to fear. Take the problem that exists in the State of Queensland in relation to the Special Branch.
Honourable senators interjecting-
– I had better not reply to any of the interjections that are being made, because something may go into the record which is not really meant. That happens from time to time. One makes an interjection, somebody responds, and lo and behold it sits there in the record although that was not intended.
In Queensland there is much to fear. A person may have nothing to hide, but because of the existence of a Special Branch record there may be something of which he does not know but which prejudices him. It may lose him a job; it may lose him promotion. Careful consideration ought to be given before the extraordinary statement made by Senator Withers and Senator Walters is made again. I do not doubt that there are several honourable senators on the Government side who belong to Amnesty International, who will know exactly what I mean and who possibly can express it better than I can and perhaps will do so on some future occasion.
– Or have already done so.
– Or senators on this side who belong to councils for civil liberties, perhaps.
-Yes. Perhaps we should have that debate as soon as possible so that we can sort out our thoughts on that. I do not really believe that Senator Withers would go to any great length to support what he said. He said it in a particular way. I notice that he amended it somewhat and the amendment is slightly better than what he said originally. Perhaps on some future occasion he might give us the benefit of his advice.
There is another matter to which I must refer and which arises from the Address-in-Reply debate. I must refer to it because I believe that this is one occasion when an injustice can be exposed. It has already been mentioned but it would do no harm to reiterate the comments of colleagues on my side of the House. Senator Button was one who referred to it. Since Senator Button spoke Senator Maunsell has made some remarks which indicate that there needs to be further reference to it. I wish to make some comments concerning Senator Maunsell ‘s remarks on the sacking from the Queensland Education Department of Mr Bill Wood, who was the Australian Labor Party candidate for the seat of Leichhardt. Amongst other things, Senator Maunsell said that Mr Wood had stood for Parliament on a couple of occasions. He was a member of Parliament for the seat of Cook in Queensland. His brother was the member for a seat in Toowoomba. The brothers are twins and sons of a very prominent member of the Labor Party and member of Parliament. Both these young men suffered defeat in the debacle- that is the only way it can be described- when the Labor Party lost many seats in Queensland. It has subsequently recovered some considerable ground, but in the 1974 election many members were defeated and Bill Wood and Peter Wood, his brother, were two of those people.
Bill Wood has, on a number of occasions, decided to do that which we and most Australians consider to be in the best tradition of citizenship in this country, that is to seek an endorsement to stand for Parliament and perhaps to be elected to Parliament. Forget all the denigration that goes on outside and the statements that are made to pull us down. Most Australians accept that to be elected to Parliament is a great privilege and most Australians respect those who stand for Parliament. Most candidates who stand for Parliament do so in hopeless seats. Nevertheless, they carry out an accepted and commendable exercise in taking part in an election. Even though they may seek to become a member, many times they do not succeed. Bill Wood exercised his right as a citizen to stand for Parliament. Because he was a member of the Public Service he carried out the requirement of the Act.
– The Constitution.
-He resigned from the Public Service in order to stand. As Senator Colston has said, that is a constitutional requirement. In doing so he expected that if he was defeated he would be reinstated.
– In priority to others who were waiting for a position.
– Does the Act say that?
– No, it does not, but justice does. What troubles me is that I do not think the senator’s interjection reveals his true thoughts on this. He merely seeks to stir me and I think he has succeeded in doing so. To get back to the point I am making, Bill Wood is entitled to be reinstated and candidates who are defeated in an election in every other State are, to my knowledge, reinstated. But that is not so in the State of Queensland where the Premier has endorsed the principle that anyone standing for the Labor Party shall not be reinstated without the consent and decision of the Executive. Mr BjelkePetersen has blackballed every person who has stood for the ALP. There is no doubt about it. It happened in the case of Bill Wood and it happened in the case of Peter Wood. It happened in the case of a person called Rockett and it happened also in an indirect way to a person called Sinclair. This erodes the democratic process in Queensland. It is a continuation of a decision made previously by Mr Bjelke-Petersen to prevent people standing for local authorities. He has directed that no one should receive leave of absence from his job to attend a meeting of a local authority if he happens to be a State employee. Consider the consequences of that. It means that if a person is a State employee in Queensland he cannot stand for a council election because he will not be able to attend the meetings which are held during the day. In Queensland there are hundreds of State employees who seek to serve their community and who would like to stand for election for non-paid, voluntary jobs but who are prevented from doing so because they are refused leave of absence to attend council meetings.
– What about those two young men who came down to New South Wales and pinched all that stuff? They were convicted by a jury and are now back in Queensland working in the teaching profession.
– I cannot see the relevance of that and I would not have raised the matter because, personally, I do not want to prejudice those people.
– Surely they must have supported Joh.
– Yes, but those two young men had many friends and strong supporters. They were first class young sportsmen. I am sorry the honourable senator raised the question; I have to refer to it now that it has been raised. Justice was done to them, so why cannot justice be done to people like Bill Wood? If I can drive something home to Senator Bonner, what about Mick Miller? What happened to Mick Miller? He knows what happened to Mick Miller.
– I am only trying to help you.
-You are trying to help me?
– I am surprised. I had the opposite impression. I hope that on some occasion the honourable senator will get up and explain what happened to Mick Miller. The program he worked on is one for which the Queensland Government is to be congratulated. I think it is about the only program I know of in respect of which I can congratulate the Queensland Government. I speak of the program by the medical research team that undertook to test Aboriginal people for trachoma.
– Clarry Grogan and Mick Miller.
-Yes, the two men who were dismissed at the request of Mr BjelkePetersen and who have not been reinstated. I would say that Mick Miller would have less than Buckley’s chance of getting his job back in the Queensland Education Department.
– Peter Moore got his job back.
– I do not know whether he did but he suffered some inconvenience. Senator Maunsell said that Mr Wood should now join the queue and wait his turn. He is saying that anyone who stands for Parliament should be prejudiced if he is defeated. I wonder whether he would stand up to that sort of treatment himself if he happens to be defeated. The ethical position is much better when one is standing for the Federal Parliament. I would say that there has never been an instance when a public servant who resigned to stand for the Federal Parliament has not been reinstated promptly. That is all we ask for Bill Wood. He was not reinstated.
This unusual and unprecedented step- I am now being formal and reading from a speechcontravenes democratically accepted principles. By law public servants are required to resign their positions in order to contest a seat in parliament. Mr Wood complied with this law. However, precedent and the intent of the Crown Employees Act are that if a person fails to be elected he can return to his former position. That is the clear intention of the Act. In fact, it provides for a carryover of superannuation, sick leave and other privileges. The real motive of the Premier of Queensland is not to protect unemployed teachers; it is to discourage teachers and other public servants from standing for the Australian Labor Party at State elections. It gets down to that point. It becomes a question of intimidation against public servants who wish to stand for the
Labor Party. That is the clear intention of Mr Bjelke-Petersen. I lay it hard on the line.
– Why was Mr Wood reinstated twice before? Why has Peter Moore been reinstated twice?
-What is the situation now? Mr Bill Wood is now out of a job. He was appointed to a job by the Department of Education and dismissed from it by that Department. This did not happen to Mr David Byrne a defeated Liberal candidate at the last election. He was employed as a lecturer in the Police Academy. There was no advertising for the position. As far as can be ascertained there was no vacancy prior to the election. Yet he got the job. There is no wasting time for a supporter of the Queensland Government. He can be squeezed into the Public Service somehow.
– He was highly qualified.
-He may have been highly qualified but so was Bill Wood. I have another example of the other side of the coin. On 2 February Mr Bruce Jackson the President of the Barren River Branch of the National Party was at ministerial direction employed in the State Works Department in Cairns. There was no advertising and no vacancy in Cairns for this job. The ministerial briefs outlining his employment say that he is to work mainly in the Cook electorate. I am told that he is the next National Party candidate for Cook. Bill Wood cannot get a job but the next National Party candidate for Cook can get a job which will allow him to move freely around the electorate of Cook. This is an outrageous twist of democracy.
It was necessary to make those comments at the end of my disjointed speech. It is necessary for this Parliament to realise that those who live in Queensland also live in Australia. It is clearly our responsibility that their democratic rights are protected. We are rapidly reaching a stage when cases of this sort may need to be brought before our branches of Amnesty International.
– What about poor old Eric Deeral?
– I do not know what happened to Eric Deeral. Possibly, having been used, he is now being discarded. If Senator Bonner did not have the tenacity he has displayed in this place he also would have been discarded. He has only to go back to the history of his appointment to this place to realise that the same forces which are at work in Queensland to disadvantage people like Bill Wood were at work to disadvantage him. If Senator Bonner had weakened for one moment he would have been gone. If he had not had the support of the Labor Party for his endorsement he would have been gone. He was the number three candidate on the ticket. In most cases number three candidates are gimmick candidates. If it had not been for the resignation of Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin and her vacancy, and if he had not had the guts to stand up for his rights and if he had not had the support of the Labor Party he would not be here at present. He should forget about giving any credit to the National Party in Queensland. He received no support in the past. He receives no support now. If my memory is correct he is at loggerheads with Mr Bjelke-Petersen more often than not. The sort of prejudice that has been directed against him recently in Mount Isa is the sort of latent prejudice that represents the National Party in Queensland. He knows it. One of these days he will say it.
– Senator Georges is a very hard act to follow. I suppose that I also will be making a disjointed speech because I shall refer to a number of matters. Many matters have been raised by honourable senators on both sides concerning not only my own Department and those Ministers whom I represent in this chamber but also those of my colleagues here. I have asked the Departments within my area- I have asked my ministerial colleagues to do the same- to read the Hansard reports of this debate to pick up the points raised by honourable senators concerning those Departments. Part of Senator Chaney ‘s criticism is that so often they do not.
I shall refer to some of the matters raised by particular honourable senators. I start with Senator Georges by saying something briefly about security. One thing I get a bit bored with in this place is people continually talking about their privileges. This is one of the sicknesses of Australian society. Everybody talks about his privileges and rights; nobody talks about his obligations and duties. Although members in this place may have certain privileges which were instituted and have been guaranteed by the Bill of Rights for almost 300 years and for which I will fight as much as anybody, they are the privileges which pertain to the rights of members of this Parliament and not everywhere else. Because we have certain privileges in this chamber conferred by the Bill of Rights we also have obligations to make certain that the employees in this place are not blown up by lunatics. I would have thought that, being a member who claims to be a good unionist and believer in the protection of the rights of employees Senator Georges would have had some sense of obligation to do what he could to ensure that employees are properly protected when they are innocently going about their business. I remind the honourable senator of what happened at the Sydney Hilton Hotel. No Prime Minister was killed. Two garbage collectors and a policeman died; just remember that. If some lunatic wandered down the corridor at the end of which my office is located, one of the girls in my outer office could be shot or blown up, not me in my inner office. I believe that I have a duty to ensure that those girls who work so hard and energetically for me have proper protection while they go about their duties. I ask Senator Georges to put some balance into his speech.
Senator Devitt spoke about Mawson ‘s hut. He asked a question about it the other day. I assure him that I have not overlooked the problem of Mawson’s hut. In fact, tonight I was discussing it with the Minister for Home Affairs (Mr Ellicott) because it is a matter of determining really who has jurisdiction over the matter. As an historic building it would be my responsibility, but it may come within his responsibility for museums. Perhaps it comes under the control of the National Heritage Commission and the Minister for Environment, Housing and Community Development (Mr Groom). I repeat that I have not overlooked this question.
I was more than interested when Senator Devitt said that he had sailed to the Antarctic on the 200th anniversary of the day that Captain Cook on his second expedition to the Pacific was the first known person to cross the Antarctic Circle. I draw Senator Devitt’s attention to a very interesting book which was published by the National Library, I think, last year. It is the Journals of James Burney. Burney was known as Rear Admiral of the Red and was the brother of Fanny Burney, the famous novelist who was on the ship that accompanied Cook’s ship and was in the fleet of two that passed over the Antarctic Circle some 200 years ago. The interesting part is that as far as is known, James Burney was the first European actually to land on the shores of Tasmania. The fact that 200 years later a Tasmanian senator followed the path of James Burney is a matter of great interest. Burney landed on the eastern coast of Tasmania a number of times. I would commend a reading of the book to the honourable senator. I think he would find it very interesting.
– What is Senator Devitt’s position in relation to allowances while he was on his trip? Are you considering that?
-No. If I had the opportunity to sell trips to the Antarctic at the price for which Senator Devitt went, I would have people queued up from here to the Sydney Harbour Bridge. He got a gift. No one else could get trips like that at that same price anywhere else in the world. I would gladly pay twice the money if I had the time to make the trip, and I think any other honourable senator would do the same.
Before I get on to some of the more positive things which were said during the AddressinReply debate, I will just make a few remarks about some of the speeches which I heard or read. I regret that I was not in the chamber on the night Senator James McClelland spoke. I would have been here had I known he was going to say nasty things about me. I do not mind him saying them. After all, ‘Vinegar and Old Lace’ is fairly well known for his embittered tongue. I do not mind if he says rude things about me, but I do object to the attack that he made on Sir John Kerr. Not only was it an intemperate attack but also it did nothing for Senator James McClelland. I regret that a man who came into this place with a great reputation will go out of it with none at all.
I remind honourable senators that they ought to read the Senate Hansard of 12 June 1975, when I asked who did more than Senator James McClelland to lead to the ultimate destruction of the Labor Government. It was on that day when he- I do not know whether he was drunk with power, conceit, vanity or arrogance- sitting approximately in the place now occupied by Senator Drake-Brockman, in response to an interjection, broke his oath or affirmation as an Executive Councillor and made known the secrets of the Executive Council by tabling an Executive Council minute. It was that very act, together with the reading and tabling of a Treasury minute, that really blew the gaff on the whole of the overseas loans affair. That was the trigger mechanism which outraged not only the Opposition and the Parliament but also the whole of the Australian electorate. That was the trigger mechanism which eventually brought the Labor Party to defeat. I just think that ought to be recalled ocassionally
– You started 12 months earlier. Do you remember what you said? It started before we got into power.
-Senator, the job of any opposition worth its salt is to get rid of the government and get into power itself but the Labor Party has neither the leadership nor the will. Not only is it badly led; it is misled.
– You said we would never get Supply.
-Of course I did. If I went into opposition tomorrow my first duty would be to get back into government, but honourable senators who sit opposite could not do that.
– You picked the wrong one in Kerr.
-I did not appoint Sir John Kerr. You picked him, my friends. May I finally just say something in reply to Senator James McClelland. He said here two years ago that he had no objection to repeating confidential conversations which he had had with Sir John Kerr. If I recollect correctly, I said at that time that the only inference that one can draw from that was that nobody should ever again have a confidential conversation with the honourable senator. He said the other night something about what he had done for Sir John as a friend. If that is the sort of friend that Senator James McClelland is, please do not make him a friend of mine because I think that was a most dishonourable and despicable thing to do.
Senator Coleman, for some reason best known to herself, quite obviously is doing her darnedest to achieve the same electoral result which her party achieved in Western Australia some three or four weeks ago. In her speech she not only criticised the Premier of Western Australia, which I suppose is fair for a Labor senator, but also did nothing but knock her own State.
– Just because of some words on.a numberplate.
-Yes. She engaged in cheap jibing about a slogan on a numberplate. I do not know whether some people want to live in a ‘State of Excitement’ or whether one needs hosing down occasionally, but the honourable senator certainly was in a state of excitement. It sits ill in the mouth of people who come here representing their State to knock their State. I try to promote my State. Senator Coleman was a member of that very interesting Senate team that did so disastrously in the election.
As there have been a few words from Senator McLaren and others about redistributions, gerrymanders and the voting system, I have compiled some information on the results for the House of Representatives as at 14.25 hours eastern standard summertime as at 13 January 1978, which I think was about the time of the close of the poll. The results are rather fantastic. There are only 10 electorates in Western Australia but in seven of those the Government parties polled an absolute majority; they did not need the Chippocrats they did not need anybody else. The Labor Party did extraordinarily well! In only one electorate it obtained more than 40 per cent of the vote. That was in the electorate of Fremantle, where it got the magnificent primary vote of 45.1 per cent. If one wants to examine Labor’s performance one can look at the electorate of Canning, where Labor polled 26.9 per cent of the vote. It really did well there! In the electorate of Perth, which Labor once held, and in which the sitting Liberal member got an absolute majority, the Labor Party managed to poll 35.3 per cent of the vote. Of course, in the electorate of Curtin, which reasonably can be regarded as a blue ribbon seat and which encompasses the State electorate represented by Sir Charles Court- that terrible man who wants us all to live in a ‘State of Excitement’, as Senator Coleman would have us believe- the Labor Party polled 24.4 per cent of the vote.
– What was the percentage?
-Labor polled 24.4 per cent. If we turn to the electorate of Kalgoorlie, which contains all of the great mining area of Pilbara and the mines of Kalgoorlie- the heartland of the Labor Party, which I think the Labor Party held from about 1901 until it lost the seat first in 1958- we see that the Labor Party did rather well; it polled 37.4 per cent of the vote. In Stirling it managed to poll 32.1 per cent of the vote. In Forrest, where I once used to live, it won 27.8 per cent of the vote. Then if we turn to the electorate of Moore, in which my colleague Senator Drake-Brockman lived for many years, we find that the Labor Party managed to win 23.8 per cent of the vote.
– They went well there.
-Oh, the Labor Party did well! The electorate of Swan was going to be the safe Labor seat which would fall into its lap. Honourable senators will recall that Labor endorsed some swinging candidate and could not even win 40 per cent of the vote- it won 39.6 per cent. In Tangney, which the Labor Party once held, it managed to win 33.2 per cent of the vote. I say to Senator Coleman: If” she wants to get those numbers up she should stop knocking her State and start to be proud of it. It does not do her much good to knock her State. Hope is born in all the Liberal honourable senators when they note that surprisingly the team of two Labor senators could not even win the fourth place; they had to struggle into the fifth place. If my memory serves me correctly, that is the first
Labor team fielded since proportional voting in 1949 that could not get two quotas. What a great performance! I advise Senator Coleman that if she wishes to improve her position she should stop knocking her own State. Poor Senator McLaren: I do not know what he will do now that Sir John has departed from the political scene.
– He will speak on the adjournment, I bet.
-I suppose he will. But now that there is no more Sir John Kerr what is he going to do? I think he will have to go back to sitting on the nest and trying to hatch an egg- he will have to go back to his perch. Senator Douglas McClelland made a most interesting speech in which he said that the Labor Party lost the election because Rupert Murdoch and Warwick Fairfax wrote a number of editorials in the last week of the election campaign. Well, really! I can well understand his believing that the owners of the mass media in Australia might have had a capacity to write the editorials, but I do not know that anybody, apart from politicians and journalists, reads editorials. Is the honourable senator saying that all the news was so slanted by his co-unionists of the Australian Journalists Association? Is he saying that every member of the AJA was a biased hack of his employer? I think that that is a very unfair commentary on members of the Australian Journalists Association. In fact, as I met members of the AJA when I was campaigning around Australia I found that they all thought that the Leader of the Labor Party was a bit of a giggle and that he had no chance of getting up. They sensed what was going on in the community and I think that they accurately reported what was going on.
I know that the Labor Party is a bit manic about the media. We all on this side of the chamber well recall that back in those dark Labor days the Labor Government even created a Department of the Media because it wished to control the media. I do not think that that is what it is all about. After all, I said here the other day that the Labor Party was a bit like the Bourbons -it never forgets anything and never learns anything. At the moment the Labor Party is indulging in a most interesting examination of itself. Funnily enough, it is being run by all the people who are the cause of all its problems: Mr Hayden, Mr Hawke and Mr Combe. Now they are going to get all these interesting people to help them -
– You should know something about the Labor Party because your father would have told you.
-That is right. He would turn in his grave if he saw what has happened to it. The Party which he worked so hard to establish in the 1 890s to protect the working man has now been taken over by the ‘penthouse pinks’. Perhaps honourable senators opposite ought to read what is alleged to be a report of Mr David Combe, the National Secretary of the Australian Labor Party, which he presented to a meeting of the ALP Federal Executive on 30 July 1975, after the Bass by-election. Mr Combe had some very interesting things to say. I ask honourable senators to listen to this:
The fact is that Barnard should not have been pushed out, and if he insisted on going, it should have been made clear to him that he would go disgraced and unrewarded. It is just not good enough that people like Lionel Murphy and Lance Barnard, who are given the opportunity by party endorsement to reach positions of prominence in the Government and the Parliament of Australia, should be able to jump out into perk jobs without consultation with the party, and in so doing, to disadvantage the party in the Parliament and/or the electorate.
– What jobs did they get?
-Of course, they got jobs and are on full parliamentary pensions. But I suppose Mr David Combe really summed up the problems of the Labor Party in his final paragraph when he said:
We look like a Party of junketeers who don’t expect to be in office often or long.
What a prophet!
– What is Mr David Combe’s position?
-He is the National Secretary of the Australian Labor Party. I think that that is what we ought to be looking at. I turn to some of the more positive speeches made in this chamber.
– It is absolutely extraordinary to hear such a thing going on.
-The honourable senator should not get so excited; he will blow a valve.
– The President of the Liberal Party in Western Australia is in court for being a crook.
– Order !
– I think this is of public interest.
– Order, Senator McAuliffe. I have already called you to order. Do not interject again. I ask every honourable senator from now on to listen in silence to this final speech in the Address-in-Reply debate.
- Mr President, out of respect to you I shall listen in silence -
– Are you raising a point of order?
– Yes. I shall listen in silence if the Leader of the Government in the Senate ceases to use inflammatory language.
– No point of order is involved.
-Mr President, I have no intention of exciting honourable senators.
– Not much!
-Well, it is a long time since I have made a speech. I just say this about the remarks made about the President of the Liberal Party in Western Australia: I thought it was a fundamental principle to which we all subscribe that a man is deemed to be innocent until he is proven to be guilty.
– Then why are you condemning Combe?
-I did not condemn Combe; I was praising him for his capacity to diagnose what is wrong with the Labor Party. I was saying what a first class job he had done. I have great faith in Mr Combe’s capacity to judge his colleagues.
– You should be on the -
– Order! At this stage in the debate I do not wish to have recourse to severe action. I ask Senator Withers to continue his remarks.
-I return to the more positive speeches which were made in the Senate. I refer to the speeches which I read and /or heard, and I apologise to those honourable senators who mentioned a subject in a speech which I did not come across. But Senator Button, Senator Rae, Senator Chaney and Senator Knight raised the matter of parliamentary reform, either with tongue in cheek -
– And Senator Robertson.
– There could have been a number of honourable senators; I cannot recall all of them. Those are the honourable senators whose speeches I recall. I simply say this: The Government and I are not opposed to measures for parliamentary reform. In fact, one of the first committees set up by the present Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) was a Government back benchers committee, chaired by Senator Chaney, to deal with parliamentary reform in this place. I wish to make a few generalised remarks about parliamentary reform. Senator Chaney was good enough to read into the Hansard some remarks made by Professor Gordon Reid of the University of Western Australia. I think that some of the opening remarks are quite correct. I do not think that Parliament has an enormously high standing in the community. In many places broadcast days are referred to as either Kindergarten of the Air or the Goon Show. Parliament is not held in the high repute that a lot of us may think it is, and we fool ourselves if we think otherwise. For those reasons, I believe we need some changes to the parliamentary system.
One of the things that really does stick in me a bit is the current wisdom that somehow or other Parliament is a useless instrument unless it is in continual confrontation and at war with the Executive. Another is that Parliament ‘ ain ‘t what it used to be’. I would be delighted if those who say that would tell me when they think it was as it ought to be. As I remember my history, and I am calling on memory because I did not have sufficient time to do some reading, I think it is fair to say that from about the time Simon de Montfort summoned his first Parliament in 1265 or 1261- the Clerk Assistant is trying to help me, but it was about 700 years ago- until the end of the Tudor period, that is, for 200 or 300 years, Parliament was called together occasionally just to give the King some money. I do not know whether at that stage he was telling the Executive what to do in the great parliamentary sense. A lot of people will say that the Parliament came to its finest hour in the period of the Stuarts. We all know that as a result of an argument between the King and his Parliament in the 1640s a war broke out, culminating in 1648, if my dates are correct, with the Parliament in effect chopping off the King’s head. The interesting thing about that event, when Parliament took on and beat the Executive, was that the leader of the parliamentary rebels promptly became the Executive, called in Colonel Pride and abolished the Parliament. The interesting piece of history is that occasionally the Parliament might not be too certain about doing things.
As I recall the parliaments that came after the Restoration and certainly after the Glorious Revolution of 1688, they passed a number of very great Bills- the Habeas Corpus Act, the Bill of Rights and certain great parliamentary measures- which brought about so many of our freedoms today. However, I dc not think anybody would claim that prior to the Reform Bill of 1832-from 1690 to 1832-the Parliament was other than something which was manipulated by the rotten boroughs, the various wigs and tories. It was a very corrupt Parliament. There was the sale of offices, the corruption which ran riot in the United Kingdom until the exposure and reform by Jeremy Bentham and others. So until the reform era Parliament was not doing too well.
My history tells me that from the time of the Reform Bill to the end of the century people like Peel, Palmerston, Wellington, Disraeli and Gladstone tended to dominate the Parliament. I have always had this sort of impression. So I am still trying to ascertain when this age of the glory of Parliament, which I am generally told went into decay at the beginning of the twentieth century, was. That information is perhaps a throwaway. I really think that rather than indulging in rhetoric about this somebody should sometime do some real work and kindly tell me when Parliament was flowering at its finest. The other idea that is occasionally thrown around is that somehow the Parliament and the Executive ought to be at war with each other. Of course, the Executive is part of the Parliament. We cannot escape from that fact. The only reason that I am a Minister is that I am firstly a senator. If I lose that qualification my qualification to be a member of the Executive disappears. I remind honourable senators that section 1 of the Constitution- I remember quoting it with great glee in the dark days of Labor, without being overprovocativestates that the legislative power of the Commonwealth shall be vested in the Federal Parliament which shall consist of the Queen- the Executivethe Senate and the House of Representatives. So the Executive is very much part of the Parliament, and the Sovereign is part of the legislature. I think that occasionally we ought to remind ourselves of that.
As I see the proper operation of the parliamentary system, each party should play its proper role, not being in confrontation but in cooperation for the good of the nation. I think a large number of reforms are needed in this place. We indulge in a reasonable number of medieval rituals which may have had relevance when people could not read or write, when only the priestly clerks had that capacity and the robber barons sitting in front could not do much else.
– You could not do without them now.
-Yes, we could. We could even do without you, Senator Georges. I often wonder how much of out time we spend in this place just talking up and down on the one spot. I had some interesting figures taken out which indicate that a lot of the work done in this chamber is done with the co-operation and consent of the Opposition. If one looks at the period from 1973 to 1977 one sees that of 963 Bills presented to this chamber only 94, or less than 10 per cent were opposed at the second reading stage. That means that some 90 per cent of the Bills that come into this place are not opposed. Those Bills would have been brought into the place no matter which party had been in power. I sometimes wonder why we spend so much of our time talking on legislation to which we are not opposed. Then we run into a logjam at the end of the session, when there is not sufficient time to have proper debate on those matters on which there are divisions of opinion.
– They are brought in on the last day.
-It is not only that, the Opposition would not be opposed to them anyhow. From 1973 to 1977, 983 Committee amendments were moved and 707 were agreed to. That is not a bad score. People should not spend their time degrading the Parliament so much. The other interesting point is that the Senate can show that it can work on a basis of consensus. The work of the Senate which has most likely earned the Senate its enhanced reputation in recent years has been the work of committees of the Senate. I often wonder whether people realise how many reports have been presented by committees in that same period. In that period Senate committees presented 1 92 reports to this chamber.
– How many have been adopted?
– An amazing number. Of 192 reports presented since 1973, only five have not been unanimous. I have had it put to me that there is too much quarelling in Parliament, that there ought to be more consensus, that politicians ought to stick their stupid party differences and get on with trying to do something useful. To those in the community who say that, I reply that if senators representing six States, with a variety of backgrounds and belonging to different political parties -
– And two Territories.
-And two Territories, covering a mass of various references over a fiveyear period, can bring in 192 reports with only five of those reports containing dissents, and some were not great dissents -
– Of course you will get that result if nothing will happen to the reports, because one lot will agree and the other will not, and conversely. The reports are all pigeon holed.
- Senator, you do yourself less than justice.
– I do not do myself an injustice. I have been able to speak for myself all my life.
– Order! Senator McAuliffe, you will cease interjecting.
– I have never heard such rot.
-I apologise to the honourable senator-
- Mr President, it is an insult to our imagination.
– You are an insult to our intelligence.
– Things are not as dim as they Sim.
- Senator McAuliffe, at this time of the evening and at this stage of the debate I have no desire to use the powers which I have, and I warn you that if you interject again I shall have recourse to sterner measures.
-I have almost completed my speech. I draw these matters to the attention of the Senate because I believe there is a capacity in this place for more useful work to be done on a consensus basis. For that reason I urge all honourable senators to read the report of the Senate Standing Orders Committee which Mr President tabled today. It is my intention to bring that report on for debate next week in Government time. I remind honourable senators that it has been the past practice and it will be the practice on this side of the chamber for a free vote and not a party vote to be taken on the matter.
– Order! It being 10.30 p.m., in conformity with the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate, I formally put the question:
That the Senate do now adjourn.
Question resolved in the negative.
-I will be only a couple of minutes. I urge all honourable senators to read the report of the Standing Orders Committee because I believe it contains useful Senate recommendations. It indicates that that is not the end of our work. A lot more work has to be done in this area. I believe the Standing Orders Committee is the right vehicle. I hope its recommendations result in some reform. Of course, there are some problems if there is too much reform. I came across some startling figures in relation to what is happening in the United States of America. At present 535 congressmen have 10,000 staff to service them. That figure has tripled in five years. They are not too bady off, are they? As a result of that, 20,000 Bills were introduced into Congress in 1976.
-That is 200 staff for a congressman.
-That is right, and 20,000 Bills were introduced. I do not say that they were passed or debated. On some days over 200 committees and sub-committees of Congress met to discuss legislation. The Federal Register, which I understand is their equivalent of Hansard, 20 years ago had a total number of 10,500 pages. In 1976 it had 57,000 pages. So parliamentary reform may not be a very great thing.
– They are better at incorporating material than we are.
-That is right, Senator. I think that parliamentary reform would be welcome around the chamber. I sense that mood both in this chamber and in the other place. There is a new group of members in both chambers. They are prepared to launch out a bit to see whether they cannot make the work of Parliament more effective. I would not like to be thought to be saying that within Parliament there must always be total agreement. In fact, the only Parliaments where there is total agreement operate under dictatorships. On a number of issues there will be fierce division between us, and so there ought to be in a democratic system. But I hope we will reserve time to debate real issues and not spend so much of our time talking about matters on which we are not divided.
On behalf of the Government I say that if any honourable senator has any suggestions for improving the workings of this chamber, I will certainly be very receptive. I am a keen parliamentary reformer. I know that senator Wriedt is of like mind and that he does not mind my saying so. I rather sense from his whimsical remarks that Senator Button is very much one at heart. I think this is something in which we are all united. We wish to make our work more effective. I would certainly welcome the help and advice of all my colleagues within the Parliament. Finally I indicate that the Government does not agree to the amendment moved by Senator Wreidt.
– You should have said that half an hour ago and sat down.
-I thought I should give the honourable senator a lecture on privileges and obligations. It is long overdue. It will be nice to go to Government House with all honourable senators as a Senate for the first time in five years to present an Address-in-Reply.
That the words proposed to be added (Senator Wriedt’s amendment) be added.
The Senate divided. (The President- Senator the Hon. Condor Laucke)
Question so resolved in the negative.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Senator Withers) agreed to:
That the Address-in-Reply be presented to His Excellency the Governor-General by the President and such senators as may desire to accompany him.
– I inform honourable senators that I have ascertained that His Excellency the Governor-General will be pleased to receive the Address-in-Reply to his opening Speech at Government House on Tuesday next at 5.30 p.m. I extend an invitation to all honourable senators to accompany me on the occasion of its presentation.
Motion (by Senator Withers) proposed:
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– I intend to say a few words this evening about the Social Education Materials Project display that has been in this building for the last few days. I took the opportunity both yesterday and today to inspect the display and to look at some of the material exhibited. I must admit that I was impressed not only by the display itself but also by the educational materials. Having an educational background, I am probably more able to be professionally critical of the material than some other members and senators. Indeed, I do have a few mild criticisms of some of the material, but those criticisms are minor by comparison with my approval of what was displayed. I believe that it is important for this material to be available for inspection by members and senators, especially those from Queensland, because of the controversy there surrounding the SEMP material. A controversy has also surrounded material for MACOS- Man: a Course of Study- but that is a different subject altogether. It has been important for Queensland members to view the material to enable us to put into proper context what has been said about it in the Queensland Press. To talk about SEMP and discuss it without actually having seen the material means that we are talking in the abstract about an educational program, not knowing what it involves.
Looking at the material, I formed the opinion that it was important not only for members of Parliament but also for members of the public, and particularly the people of Queensland, to be able to view the material. There has been a great deal of discussion in Queensland about this program, and I am sure that most parents who are interested in the welfare of their children at school, as well as many educationists, are not fully aware of the content of the material or the way that the program has been developed.
Having come to that conclusion. I was interested to see in this morning’s Courier-Mail an advertisement indicating that the program is being displayed at the Queensland Teachers Union building in Brisbane from 1 to 3 March, which means that it will be there only until tomorrow. Apparently the display is at Boundary Street, Spring Hill, in the headquarters of the Teachers Union in Brisbane. However, Boundary Street, Spring Hill, is not a particularly convenient place for people to visit. In fact, people would go to that location only if they were actually seeking out the material. I think it is important for parents and other interested people in Queensland to have the opportunity to view this material, but the majority of people will not have that opportunity when the material is at the Teachers Union building because of its location.
I suggest to the Minister for Education (Senator Carrick) that he might investigate the possibility of having a display similar to the one that has been in Parliament House during the last few days set up at various locations in Queensland. If that were possible, the obvious location for such a display would be the major shopping centres in Queensland. We have a number of them in the suburban areas of Brisbane and there are also some large shopping centres in the provincial cities which have areas where such a display could be set up. I know that this would require a fair amount of organisation by the Department of Education and would probably involve some cost, but I think it is important to investigate the possibility. If people in Queensland are able to see a display such as the one we have seen they will gain a greater understanding of the material.
At Question Time this morning the Minister said something which suggested that we would be able to convince the authorities in Queensland only by a program of education to allow the public to gain an understanding of the nature of the program. I have had letters from teachers’ organisations about the SEMP program as well as about MACOS. It would probably be beyond the authority of this Parliament and the Minister to set up a display on MACOS, but having seen the display in Parliament House, I ask the Minister to consider my suggestion that a SEMP display be set up in some areas of Queensland.
– I will be very brief in my comments. The Curriculum Development Centre, which is the body responsible for the Social Education Materials Project, is a cooperative Federal-State venture, as is SEMP, and it is also a vendor of programs. In the ordinary course of events, its task is to bring to the attention of people throughout Australia the nature of all its materials. On the other hand, MACOS, which stands as an acronym for Man: a Course of Study, is an entirely American production, as I understand it, and is beyond our ordinary responsibility, as the honourable senator has said. I understand that the CDC intends to set up display in the various States. Certainly the display that has been in Parliament House will move to the library in the Woden Plaza next week. I think that it is to be in the Catholic Education Office here, and that it will also be available in the various States, including Queensland. However, I will inquire of the CDC about what action it is taking to publicise this program and, indeed, its other work in all States so that the general intention, which is to allow interested persons to study the programs in some depth, is carried out. That is, after all, the nub of the matter. The aim is to have the community study the material so that we may have value judgments made upon it. Accordingly, I will ask the CDC what can be done.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 10.S1 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 2 March 1978, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1978/19780302_senate_31_s76/>.