31st Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Condor Laucke) took the chair at 2.15 p.m., and read prayers.
Aboriginal Land Rights in Queensland
To the Honourable the President and Members of the Senate in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
. That the Federal Government recognise land rights in the States, such as Queensland, in a similar manner to the recognition of land rights in the Northern Territory i.e., enact an Aboriginal Land Rights Act for Queensland;
That the Federal Government support the abolition of the Aborigines Act (Queensland) 1971 and the Torres Strait Islanders Act (Queensland) 1971 and take such action as they may deem necessary to ensure that the provisions of the Queensland Discriminatory Laws Act 1975 and the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 be enforced in so far as they relate to Aborigines and Islanders;
That the Federal Government assume responsibility for Aboriginal Affairs in Queensland under the powers given them by the Referendum of 1 967. The State Department of Aboriginal and Islander Advancement Queensland should be abolished and Aboriginal and Island reserves in Queensland should have the choice to be self-governed with local government status.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray.
Petition received and read.
Aboriginal Land Rights in Queensland
To the Honourable the President and Members of the Senate in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
That the Federal Government recognise land rights in the States, such as Queensland, in a similar manner to the recognition of land rights in the Northern Territory i.e. enact an Aboriginal Land Rights Act for Queensland;
That the Federal Government support the abolition of the Aborigines Act (Queensland) 1971 and the Torres Strait Islanders Act (Queensland) 1971 and take such action as they may deem necessary to ensure that the provisions of the Queensland Discriminatory Laws Act 1975 and the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 be enforced in so far as they relate to Aborigines and Islanders;
That the Federal Government assume responsibility for Aboriginal Affairs in Queensland under the powers given them by the Referendum of 1967. The State Department of Aboriginal and Islander Advancement Queensland should be abolished and Aboriginal and Island reserves in Queensland should have the choice to be self-governed with local government status.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray.
– A petition has been lodged for presentation as follows:
To the Honourable the President and Members of the Senate in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned members and ex members of the Citizens Forces of Australia respectfully sheweth:
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray
Your Honourable House take appropriate action to resume the award of the several distinctive Reserve Forces Decorations and Medals for Long Service and Good Conduct to members of the Royal Australian Naval Reserve, Army Reserve (C.M.F. ) and the R.A.A.F. Citizens Air Force.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray, by Senator Jessop.
– My question is directed to the Minister assisting the Prime Minister in Federal Affairs. I refer to the Prime Minister’s announcement of 10 March concerning Loan Council borrowing arrangements. I ask the Minister What limits, if any, will be placed on amounts borrowed on overseas financial markets by local and semi-government authorities? Does the Government propose to reduce Commonwealth borrowings on behalf of the Loan Council to offset the additional borrowing capacity of local and semi-government authorities? As the Government has repeatedly claimed that local government is getting a better deal at the present time than it has in the past, why is it now necessary to allow local government access to overseas financial markets?
– The background of the development of what I think is best described as infrastructure financing is that discussions took place in recent times at the Premiers Conference on the desirability for the States and semigovernmental authorities to be given the right to borrow overseas for such matters as infrastructure financing. This borrowing is subject to the central provisions of the 1927 Financial Agreement- the gentlemen’s agreement- that there should be a complete co-ordination of all borrowings in Australia. Of course, the borrowing is also subject to a certificate from the Australian Loan Council approving that borrowing. I do not think that the thinking of the Government and of the Premiers on this matter has been spelt out publicly. I do not want to state publicly what may not be strictly accurate. I suggest that the honourable senator put his question on notice and I shall seek an early answer for him. This will ensure that he will get the specific details about the other matters which he has raised.
-Mr President, I wish to ask a supplementary question. There must be an assumption on the part of the Government that local government and semi-government bodies must require additional revenue. The Australian Loan Council and especially the Federal Government are now permitting those bodies to enter into overseas financial markets. Presumably there is some ground on which the Government has made this decision. I ask the Minister whether he is aware of those grounds. If not, then obviously the question will have to go on notice.
– I am aware of the essential grounds for the Government’s decision. I said that the approach by the Premiers in this area was, by its very nature, on the basis of infrastructure financing. It enabled borrowings to be made for special purposes for the infrastructure of developmental projects. This is a new concept of financing infrastructure development. Because I am not sure of how much of the discussion between the Prime Minister and the Premiers has been made public, I ask that the question be put on notice. I shall give the matter early attention.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Resources. I am concerned that the coal mining industry in New South Wales and therefore the jobs of many thousands of workers in that industry are being placed in jeopardy by the refusal of the New South Wales Government to provide coal loading facilities at Botany Bay and to upgrade coal handling and loading facilities in other places. Is there anything that the Commonwealth Government can do to ensure that facilities in New South Wales are upgraded to reduce the present waiting time for ships, so that present contracts can be honoured and so that provision can be made for future expansion of the industry?
– I am advised by my colleague in the other place as follows: I believe that the basic problem in New South Wales is not so much the threat to existing employment in the industry but the threat that the expansion of the industry to meet the burgeoning demands of our overseas markets may be aborted because of the inadequacy of port facilities. At the first Australian Coal Conference in Queensland last week, overseas buyers painted glowing pictures of the prospects for Australian coal exports and in particular steaming coal exports. It will be a tragedy for Australia if we are unable to avail ourselves of this opportunity because of shortsighted policies in planning for future port and other infrastructure developments required to meet this demand. As the honourable senator will be aware the development of port facilities is the responsibility of the State Government. But I believe that it is in the interests of the State, as well as of Australia as a whole, to upgrade these facilities. The Commonwealth can play a role in engendering closer co-operation with all States in joint assessments of future demand and the potential supply sources with a view to facilitating appropriate and adequate infrastructure developments.
-My question, which is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Transport or to the Minister representing the Prime Minister relates to Whyalla. It will be recalled that on a number of occasions representations have been made by the South Australian Government, by honourable senators and by deputations- at one of which I was present- to the Minister for Transport in respect of a South Australian working party proposal to establish some sort of productivity unit involving railway rolling stock at Whyalla. It is now some weeks since those representations were made by all parties concerned. Is the Minister in a position to say whether the representations have been referred to the Prime Minister and whether discussions have been completed between the State Government and the Prime Minister?
– I am well aware of the keen interest of Senator Bishop and indeed of all South Australian senators in this matter and I am also well aware of the desirability of providing alternative work of a specific nature for people in Whyalla, particularly people who have suffered loss as a result of the decline in the shipbuilding industry. The honourable senator will recall that I have mentioned previously that there has been some transitional work, although small in quantity, just to keep the pot boiling until a study is made. Because it is important I would like to get a completely up to date picture of it. I will do that and I will let the honourable senator know either by letter or by intervention during Question Time.
-I direct my question to the Minister representing the Minister for National Development. It was reported in the Weekend Australian of 8 and 9 April that the uranium industry may not have the enormous potential that miners and the Federal Government are predicting. This follows a report that Exxon Nuclear in the United States of America has been carrying out research in the area of laser enrichment which, it is reported, could revolutionise the nuclear industry. Is the Minister in a position to advise us as to whether there is any basis for the report, whether Australia is included in such research and whether it is possible that the speculation as reported could bring about a slump in demand for Australian uranium?
– I do have some information on the matter generally. I am advised that there are a number of theoretically possible processes which might enrich uranium and which are described in the 25th annual report of the Australian Atomic Energy Commission. The laser process is one of those. If I may quote the relevant passage, it says:
The feasibility of the laser enrichment technique has been demonstrated overseas on the milligram scale using atomic uranium vapour, but this approach is complicated by the low efficiency of the required lasers, the high temperatures involved and the corrosive nature of uranium vapour. The use of molecular uranium species volatile at moderate temperatures, e.g., uranium hexafluoride, would circumvent these problems, but the lack of suitable lasers and the small differences in the spectral properties of the uranium isotopes complicate this approach. In the USA, a major program has been mounted to develop suitable lasers.
– Will you explain it?
-No, I cannot. If the honourable senator wants some simplification I would be happy to get it for him because I think it is important; but I acknowledge my sense of ignorance in that matter as in others. It is impossible to predict whether in the very long term this process will become commercially viable. For the foreseeable future, say the next 15 to 20 years, the laser process cannot be considered as a serious rival to the established and large scale commercial processes built or being built. This is evidenced by the recent decision of the United States to increase its enrichment capacity very greatly. This plant will be operating in the middle to late 1 980s and will use centrifuge technology. It is unlikely that the United States would adopt this process if the laser technique would in any way be a competitive process at that time. But laser enrichment is a line of research worth following and it has been under investigation by the Atomic Energy Commission since 1971. Honourable senators can read this in the Commission ‘s reports.
Laser enrichment could affect demand for uranium if it could process the tailings from existing enrichment plants. It is unknown whether laser enrichment is commercially possible, whether it can be demonstrated on a pilot plant scale, and whether it is actually capable of separating uranium 235 from uranium 238 when the Former’s concentration is only 0.2 per cent. It is extremely unlikely that speculation about a process still in the laboratory stage could affect the world-wide demand for Australian uranium.
– My question is addressed to the Leader of the Government in his capacity as Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs. I ask whether he has an answer to a question I asked 10 days ago, about which he undertook to seek advice from his colleague, relating to the amount of territory in East Timor which is under the control of Indonesian forces. I further ask whether the Government has any independent source of information on this question other than the Indonesian Government.
-I apologise to the honourable senator as I do not have the information. I will see whether I can get it for him before the end of Question Time.
-Can the Minister representing the Minister for Transport clarify the position regarding the 50 per cent student concession given by Qantas Airways Ltd to AUS Student Travel Pty Ltd? Is this concession also given in exactly the same way to other travel agencies handling student travel?
-My understanding is that the Government’s existing international charter policy is based on what is known as affinity charters. Under this policy organisations are eligible to enter into affinity charter arrangements with international airlines if the organisations have principal purposes, aims and objectives other than travel. The charter price must not be less than 50 per cent of the approved normal economy fare for each passenger. AUS Student Travel markets travel for the Australian Union of Students itself substantially by making use of the affinity interest in the student organisation. By this means charter flights under the Government’s affinity charter policy can be arranged. On some routes there is also provision for affinity groups to be carried at special group rates on scheduled services. Neither of these arrangements is exclusive to student organisations.
I fully appreciate the particular benefits that young people derive from overseas travel. In this sense- I am speaking here in terms expressed by the Minister for Transport- I am not attracted to special fare arrangements for international travel which discriminate in favour of one group or another. I think that is important. One of the major problems in providing special concessional fares for groups such as students is that other groups- for example, pensioners and migrants- could justifiably claim discrimination if they were not assisted similarly. The Government has therefore pursued a policy of actively encouraging the development of the lowest possible international air fares that would be universally available to the whole of the general public.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Social Security. Given the fact that many of the people who have had their unemployment benefits stopped are actually entitled to them, has the Minister’s Department taken on any more staff to reprocess the claims of those innocent people? If not, what steps have been taken by the Department to reduce the hardship associated with long delays in the payment of benefits? Further, can the Minister guarantee that no hardship will be caused because some people entitled to benefits will not reapply after having their payments cancelled?
– The honourable senator’s question appeared to be in general terms regarding unemployment beneficiaries having their payments stopped. May I inquire if the honourable senator has any specific instance in view concerning which he addressed the question or is he talking in general of unemployment beneficiaries having their benefits terminated?
– I have received notification from some people that the cancellations to which I have referred have actually happened.
– It is the Department’s responsibility to see that those people who are eligible for any pension or benefit receive that pension or benefit. If they were found to be ineligible, they would then have their benefit terminated or, in the case of invalid pensions or others, reviewed. As far as unemployment beneficiaries are concerned, if they have had their benefits terminated while they are still eligible for them this would be a matter for appeal. There is a right of appeal for reinstatement of the unemployment benefit and benefits payable under all other pension schemes. If there are instances of recipients of the unemployment benefit having that benefit terminated while they are eligible to receive it, I would wish to hear about them. If any hardship is caused through the termination of a benefit or the lack of knowledge of the need to reapply, I would want to see as wide a coverage of that information as possible.
I fail to see how a question of this generality would be able to assist the Government to deal with hypothetical numbers of people who have been alleged to have had their benefits terminated while they are still eligible. The Act requires a work test. This is done through the Commonwealth Employment Service. An income test is done in my Department and the Act requires that beneficiaries maintain eligibility for the unemployment benefit. If this is not able to be achieved and the benefit is terminated, there is the right of appeal that I have mentioned.
-My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Transport. Is the Minister aware that the Honourable Peter Cox M.L.A., the New South Wales Minister for Transport, has incorrectly claimed in a number of letters to the New South Wales State member for Corrimal that the reason the northern suburbs distributor in Wollongong is not being commenced is the failure to provide adequate Commonwealth funding for urban arterial roads? Can the Minister state precisely in whose province the blame for the delay in the construction of this road lies? ls the New South Wales Minister for Transport merely prevaricating on this matter in an attempt to hide his own Government’s failure to start this road?
– I have not actually seen the letters to which Senator Baume refers. If he would give me copies of such letters after Question Time, I shall read them with considerable interest. I am very well aware of the general claim made by the New South Wales Minister for Transport that inadequate Commonwealth funding for urban arterial roads is the source of urban road problems in New South Wales. I simply say, as I said yesterday, that nothing could be further from the truth. The hard fact is that the Commonwealth is giving a total of $ 153.8m in road funds to New South Wales this year, an increase of over 12 per cent on the amount provided last year. If there is something wrong, it is the fault of the New South Wales Government.
I repeat what I said yesterday. If one road is built and another road is not, that is the decision of the New South Wales Government. The amount this year for New South Wales reflects a bigger increase in road grants than for any other State and, of this amount, $28.7m is for urban arterial roads. To qualify for these grants the State is required to spend $ 147.7m of its own funds on roads. From the Commonwealth’s point of view, the State is free to spend these funds where it pleases. If something is lacking, that is the State ‘s decision.
In answer to the second part of Senator Baume ‘s question, I should explain the operation of the States Grants (Roads Interim Assistance) Act under which Commonwealth funds are granted to the States for the construction of roads. In the case of urban arterial roads, of which the northern distributor to which the honourable senator referred is one, the New South Wales Minister recommends specific projects for approval as being eligible for Commonwealth funding. Normally the Commonwealth Minister accepts the advice of the State Minister. The initiative as to what project should be put forward, the decision on priority of particular roadworks, the timing of their commencement and who shall carry out the work lie clearly with the State Ministers concerned.
-Will the Minister representing the Minister for National Development make available to the Senate for tabling the 104-page report on nuclear energy prepared by the Environment, Energy and Natural Resources Sub-committee of the United States Congress? Also, has he heard a comment on the Australian Broadcasting Commission ‘s news service that, despite 30 years of federal control in America, government and industry have so far failed to produce a solution to the problem of radioactive waste and that this report will send chills down the backs of nuclear energy executives? Is the Minister aware that the cost of nuclear energy in the United States is climbing astronomically and that this cost spiral, plus the waste problem, are already causing some American States to back away from nuclear power development? Will the Minister draw the attention of the Minister for National Development to these new attitudes in the United States? Finally, will the Minister reconsider his previous statement that he will be the one to enunciate the nuclear power policy of our country?
-I have not seen the 104-page report of the United States Congress to which Senator Justin O ‘Byrne alluded. If he will give me its full title I shall see whether I can obtain it. If the Parliamentary Library has a copy of it then perhaps it can be made available. One of my colleagues tells me that the Committee to which the honourable senator referred has not yet reported. If that is the case, quite clearly one should not seek to refer by inference to something which one has not seen. If and when the report is published I shall make it clear that the Parliamentary Library should seek it out and make it available.
I did not hear any comment on the Australian Broadcasting Commission arising out of this report. Indeed, if it is a fact that the report does not exist in final form any such comment would have a very fragile basis. The Commonwealth Government has provided the most intensive, detailed and stringent sets of nuclear safeguards that any country has provided, for use both within Australia and by countries which will acquire our uranium. We are so determined that the highest safeguards shall be applied that not only shall we observe them here but also- I think this cannot be gainsaid -any country which seeks to import our uranium will be subjected to the most stringent regulations.
I am aware that the cost of nuclear development is becoming higher. The whole of this situation must be seen in the context of a world facing an acute and increasingly acute energy shortage due to the drying up of the sources of fossil fuels. No one so far, even with the maximum conservation of fuel, which is important, has provided a short-term bridging solution to the energy problems of this world other than the use as a primary matter of uranium for ordinary uranium reactors. The dilemma in this world is that to deny the use of energy to the world is to do two things: Firstly, to deny acceptable living standards to the world and, therefore, to impoverish people; and, secondly, to create the very circumstances- the denial of resourceswhich in fact brought World War II to our doorstep. So those people who look at this matter and see in it a simple situation of banning a source of energy should think the matter through.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs and refer to the States Grants (Petroleum Products) Amendment Bill, which was passed last night in this chamber. I ask: When can the recipients of the proposed freight subsidy expect to receive those benefits?
– The Senate has passed the legislation necessary to establish the new scheme, which was one of the election promises made by the Government that has now been implemented. As a result of the passage of that legislation, the Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs is arranging for immediate consultations with the States so that the necessary changes can be made as soon as possible in complementary State legislation. Hopefully, the scheme will be implemented at the State level in the near future, but I cannot give a specific date. How long the States will take to make the necessary changes is a matter for them to decide.
– Is the AttorneyGeneral aware of the devastating contents of the report of the New South Wales Corporate Affairs Commission, which details the high level of corporate crime in New South Wales over many years? Was the matter of corporate crime raised at the recent meeting of Commonwealth and State Attorneys-General and when does the Government intend to legislate federally on the securities and exchange report and its recommendations, which would assist materially to curb corporate criminality?
– The form of company law is not a matter with which I am concerned directly. That is the responsibility of my colleague the Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs. I am sure that the Senate will be aware that discussions have been taking place between the Minister and the State Ministers, most of whom are State Attorneys-General, in relation to the whole question of uniform national corporations and securities industry legislation, which will be complementary legislation in the Commonwealth and the States. Considerable progress has been made in that respect, and I understand that the Minister will be conferring next month with the State Attorneys-General for a period of three days in the expectation that final agreement will be reached on the complementary legislation. The Government is hopeful that such legislation can then be prepared and introduced into the Parliament later in the year, at the earliest, although it may take a little longer. Senator Gietzelt raises the whole question of appropriate powers for the regulation of corporations and the securities industry, and that matter is one to which the Government has given very close attention throughout the time it has been in office.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Prime Minister. Is the Minister aware that last Sunday three clergymen and a number of other Christians were arrested for singing hymns in a park in the city of Brisbane, Queensland? I further ask: Can the Minister inform the Senate whether there is any truth in the rumour that the Premier of Queensland is negotiating with Bullens’ African Lion Safari and Zoo to have the Christians thrown to the lions? If so, what steps can the Commonwealth Government take to prevent that from happening?
-I do not think that the manner in which the laws of Queensland are enforced falls within my area of responsibility or that of the Prime Minister.
– I ask the Minister for Social Security: Is it true that women who are single parents and who lose employment are given a single mother’s allowance rather than unemployment benefit? As women on single mother’s pensions are subject to security officers investigating their premises and their beds to ascertain whether or not they have regular male visitors but those on unemployment benefits are not, will women who are placed on a single mother’s pension in those circumstances be exempt from such supervision?
– If women who lose their employment wish, they are eligible for unemployment benefit. I am unaware of any change in procedure by which a person who is entitled to unemployment benefit would receive a single parent’s pension. However, a person in receipt of a single parent’s pension has advantages in the income that can be received in the free area of income, which advantages are not available to people who are in receipt of unemployment benefit. In other words, if there is any choice to be made in this matter, a single parent may receive greater income as the recipient of a single parent’s pension than as the recipient of unemployment benefit.
The other part of the question concerned investigations by security officers. A requirement for eligibility for a sole parent’s pension is that there is no dependence on any other person. I think the requirements for that pension are understood. If investigations with regard to income that is received need to be made or if other aspects of eligibility need to be checked, the usual procedure of the Department is adopted. The comments that were made with regard to the Department’s switching people from unemployment benefit to the sole parent’s pension are outside my knowledge and, if only for the reasons I have mentioned applying to the greater benefit, I suggest that the information given to the honourable senator, in the way in which it was stated, is probably not accurate.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations. So that the Parliament shall be informed of impending national dislocation to trade, will he state his most recent information on developments in frustrating work on the waterfronts of Australia? Inasmuch as the legislation of this country uniquely confers upon the Waterside Workers Federation of Australia a statutory monopoly to supply labour for waterfront activities, will he consider whether, in the event of the intervention of the Waterside Workers Federation in a dispute that involves the export of commodities beyond Australia not affecting waterside workers’ conditions, that absolute monopoly should be cancelled in the event of the Waterside Workers Federation’s using the power that comes from that monopoly to abuse our trade in exports?
– The Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations has furnished me with some up-to-date information in relation to the situation on the waterfront and the proceedings of the dispute concerning the export of livestock. I shall convey it to the Senate in answer to the question. At 7.30 this morning a national waterfront stoppage commenced. This is of 24 hours’ duration except in some ports- particularly Albany and Fremantle- where it is known that the stoppage is intended to be indefinite. The stoppage is the result of the use of non-union labour in the loading of sheep at Albany and Fremantle and of the arrest of pickets at those ports yesterday. The Meat Industry Employees Union has announced a four-day national stoppage by its members commencing tomorrow. The Federal Court in Adelaide is hearing arguments in the proceedings commenced by Elders G.M. pursuant to section 45d of the Trade Practices Act. I do not have the latest information in relation to those proceedings. The Federal Court in Perth today is hearing an application by Metro Meats for a permanent injunction in respect of the Albany loading. The Australian Council of Trade Unions has called a special interstate executive meeting with affected unions. At Wallaroo in South Australia there is likely to be an attempt today to load sheep owned by Metro Meats and transported to the harbour by road contractors.
That is the position as I have been advised by the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations. I do not know whether that information is up to this moment but it is the latest information that has been given to me on the dispute. Senator Wright also asks about the position of the Waterside Workers Federation in relation to its national stoppage. That will be a matter for immediate attention under the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. Of course, the Government’s policy in that regard is well known. It is to give complete support to the arbitration system in the resolution of disputes of this kind. I will refer the other aspects of the honourable senator’s question which relate to other policies that may be pursued in respect of the Waterside Workers Federation to the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Social Security. Is it a fact that officers of the Department of Social Security have been instructed not to divulge to beneficiaries of the unemployment benefit the reasons why their benefits have been cut off? Is there any truth in the article in yesterday’s Sydney Morning Herald stating that unemployed people soon will have extended rights of appeal against their benefits being terminated, suspended, altered or postponed? What assurance can the Minister give that in future recipients of unemployment benefit will not be denied the reasons for changes to the benefit before lodging an appeal to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal?
– I am not aware that officers of my Department have been instructed not to divulge the reasons for termination of the unemployment benefit. But I will make inquiries to see whether that statement is an accurate one and I will inquire whether any direction was given to officers along those lines. It is perfectly proper for a recipient of the unemployment benefit to be advised of the reason for the termination of that benefit. It is proper also for him to be advised of his right of appeal. It is the instruction in the Department that beneficiaries should be made aware of their rights of appeal. I do not think I have seen the article in the Sydney Morning Herald referred to by the honourable senator. But if it refers to rights of appeal which will become available under the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, I can give information with regard to that matter. It is understood at the moment that the right of appeal is to the Social Security Appeals Tribunal which makes recommendations to the Director-General of Social Services. I have decided that in future when the Director-General does not agree with the recommendation of the Social Security Appeals Tribunal that matter should be referred to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal as an ultimate right of appeal. If that was the reference made in the article, it is a statement of fact. I give an assurance that if I find that there is any reason to suggest that people have not been told of the reason for the termination of their benefits, any such direction will be altered so that full information is given to a beneficiary and that he is advised of the right of appeal that he holds.
-I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs. In a Press statement issued on 3 1 March this year the Foreign Minister announced that recent research had shown that three of the Torres Strait Islands-Kawa, Mata Kawa and Kussawere not among the islands annexed to Queensland at the end of the last century. Accordingly, these islands are to be recognised as part of New Guinea. As all the evidence and maps that I can find show these islands to be part of Queensland, will the Minister publish the research that led to this decision?
– I will certainly pass on that request to my colleague and ask him to see whether he can comply with it.
-My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs. I draw his attention to Article 12 of the recent Commonwealth Heads of Government Regional Meeting, which relates to disarmament. Is the Government yet in a position to announce the composition of the Australian delegation to the United Nations General Assembly Special Session on Disarmament which will be held in May and June this year? Will the Government give consideration to Opposition senators and members, and even concerned members of the Government, participating in the Australian delegation to the Special Session on Disarmament?
-I will obtain the information requested on the first matter. I will certainly pass on to my colleague the second suggestion and ask that he give it his earnest consideration.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Post and Telecommunications. It relates to push button telephones. I preface my question by saying that no doubt the Minister has noted in many of the newspapers throughout Australia the multicoloured advertising inserts for push button telephones and also the black and white display advertisements for the same purpose. Have the sales of push button phones been as rapid as Telecom Australia expected, or has the high extra cost of installation reduced sales below what Telecom expected? Is Telecom considering reducing the charge for touch phones.
-I have in fact seen both the multi-coloured and black and white advertisements for push button telephones. I am not aware how the sales have progressed. I was not aware, for example, that some extra cost was involved in their installation.
– Yes, there is. It is a really big touch-$50
– I am gaining information rapidly. I shall certainly recoup my knowledge in this regard. I will invite my colleague in another place to respond to the two questionswhether the sales have fallen and whether there is any policy on the part of Telecom Australia to lower the cost of installation.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Defence. Are Australian Army mapping operations about to restart in West Irian? What was the reason for their discontinuation? What area of West Irian has still to be mapped by the Army team? Is some of the area a matter of dispute between the Indonesian army and indigenous forces?
-I have none of that information with me, but I will seek it for the honourable senator at the earliest opportunity.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs and Minister representing the Minister for Industry and Commerce. I refer to the increasing level of government and semi-government regulation which is being placed on Australian industry. Is the Minister aware of the address given by the Chairman of Petersville Australia Ltd at the company’s last annual general meeting when he referred to the multiplicity of regulatory authorities often supervising a single factor of production, and to the never-ending stream of new regulations which, in many cases, contradict each other and have an effect quite different from that planned? Is the Minister concerned that there is a generally excessive level of government regulation placed on industry, much of which could be rationalised or modified? Does the Minister believe that, whilst a significant amount of legislation is necessary for the purposes of sound government, there is a need to ensure that regulations are kept to a minimum, that overlapping and regulatory authority is reduced and that uniformity of rules and laws is maintained?
- Senator Missen ‘s question relates to an address given by the Chairman of Petersville Australia Ltd at the company’s annual general meeting. An extract from that address has been drawn by Senator Missen to my attention and that of the Ministers whom I represent. I think it is fair to say that the matters of complaint by the Chairman of Petersville Australia would be most appropriately addressed to State governments and local authorities.
Of course the general thrust of Senator Missen ‘s question should be addressed to all tiers of government in Australia because the regulations affecting the business community emanate from all three levels of government. I think the Commonwealth Government was one of the first governments in Australia and, indeed, one of the first governments in the democratic world for a long time, to endeavour consciously and deliberately to reduce its size and its overall operations. That has been a very conscious and deliberate policy of this Government since it was elected in 1975.
We have carried out a thorough review of the Trade Practices Act which has resulted in a number of amendments which are designed to reduce, as far as possible, areas of control consistent with the public interest. We have also had similar reviews of amendments to the Prices Justification Act. It is certainly the policy of this Government that the regulations to which industry, business and people are subjected should be kept to the minimum necessary in the public interest. Senator Missen asks whether there is a need to endeavour to cut out conflicting regulations and to obtain uniformity. I would certainly agree with that proposition and so would the Government. Indeed, there has been a long standing attempt by Commonwealth and State governments to have the respective ministers meet an endeavour to achieve uniformity as far as possible.
There are large numbers of examples of that which I think it would be wearisome and unnecessary for me to detail here in answer to this question. But a very substantial case would made out for the efforts- successful in many cases- by governments to achieve uniformity. I speak only about the areas with which I am particularly concerned. Only last Friday and Saturday I attended a meeting of the Standing Committee of AttorneysGeneral which meets at least three times a year and probably more. This Committee is particularly concerned with endeavouring to obtain uniformity of laws affecting the business community. We spent a good deal of the time of that meeting going through new and uniform laws with regard to the provisions of consumer credit laws. Those laws are very far advanced. That is just one example of the type of exercise in which governments are constantly engaged. It is certainly the policy of this Government to continue to pursue those efforts.
-I draw the attention of the Leader of the Government in the Senate to an advertisement on page 23 of the Australian Financial Review this morning which states that 100 per cent of people in the Australian Capital Territory earning more than $20,000 a year read the Canberra Times. In view of the Minister’s repeated statement in the Senate that he never reads the newspapers- and we know that as a Minister he would never lie to the Senate- will he draw to the attention of the advertisers the desirability of truth in advertising and that the percentage, at best, is only 99.999 per cent?
-Did the article say whether they were residents, inhabitants or occupants?
-Perhaps I am not included in that category. After all, senator, I have been described by one of your colleagues as a provincial illiterate, and I assume that those in that category are not people. I am sorry that he is not here; it is a term which I treasure. I do not know how accurate the newspaper’s claims would be. I just say to honourable senators that recently there was a visitor to this Parliament who spent some days here. He was a member of the media, actually. I was talking to some visiting members of the media in my office the other night.
-No, not at all dangerous. It is dangerous to take any notice of them. It is not dangerous to talk to them. He said how fascinated he was at the number of questions which were asked in both places based on newspaper reports. I said, as I have said before in this place, that if the media went on strike for a week we would have to abolish Question Time because in spite of all these high-powered under-paid members of the Senate and the House of Representatives, and in spite of the fact that they all have those brilliant research officers, they still rely on the media to supply ammunition for them to ask questions of Ministers. For that reason senators and members ought to be very grateful to the media which do so much of their work for them.
– Is the Minister for Education aware of recent reports in the Press and elsewhere alleging a drop in the standard of basic skills acquired by Australian children at school? Can the Minister verify these reports or alternatively state the current situation in respect of basic skills?
-Over recent years there has been a continuing stream of reports from people arguing one way or the other as to the present state of basic skills. I think it would be fair to say that there is a strong belief in the general community, particularly amongst parents and indeed amongst employers, that basic skills today have declined and certainly are not good enough. The evidence is not conclusive either way. There was a survey by the Australian Council for Educational Research as a result of a House of Representatives committee inquiry into special learning difficulties. That survey showed a considerable decrease in basic skills in a wide sample group of 10-year-olds and 14-year-olds. The problem was of” course that there was no way to compare the result because there had been no past experience of measuring and in any case the stream of people coming through the education system had varied. The argument now waxes and wanes. Whether or not the standard of basic skills is better or worse than in the past, there is evidence that in many cases it is not good enough. Certainly the evidence on juvenile unemployed is that a wide number of those under the age of 2 1 who are unemployed lack sufficient basic skills even for pre-apprenticeship training. It must be a reflection on the community, on the family and on the schools that such a stream of people has come through the system without achieving the necessary minimum skills. The arguments are fruitless because there are those who argue that a person does not need the basic skills, that a person should innovate or experiment. Let me make the point quite clear that authoritative educators emphasise that basic skills are the building blocks of learning and that without them and without a sound basis there is no way to experiment or to innovate. From the Government’s point of view, through the Curriculum Development Centre, through all of our efforts by way of persuasion and by way of policy making, we are attempting to upgrade basic skills.
– Through the Curriculum Development Centre?
– When we implement the national inquiry into teacher education in the weeks ahead- and this will be a vitally important inquiry- we will invite people to bring before that committee their evidence as to basic skills and Senator Harradine, who interjected, might consider making a submission to that committee.
All persons within the community who are concerned about the teaching of basic skills to children in schools will regard this inquiry into teacher education as vital in this and other respects. In any case the Curriculum Development Centre is making a fundamental effort in this regard and it has my full and unqualified support.
– My question, which is based on a perception of the significance of international finance and economic strategy on Australia’s internal health, is addressed to the Minister representing the Treasurer. Is he aware that a conference of leading industrial states with parliamentary democracies to be attended by President Carter will be held in Bonn on 15 July to work out a strategy to drag the world out of recession, cut down unemployment, reduce trade protectionism and devise plans to reduce severe currency fluctuations? Is the Minister aware that the nations to attend that conference include Britain, France, West Germany, Italy, the United States of America, Canada and Japan? Has Australia been invited to that important conference? If not, will the Minister ascertain from the Treasurer whether diplomatic arrangements can be made for Australia to be at least an observer, or preferably a participant at that conference?
– My understanding is that a major conference relating to the world economy is to be held, I think, in Bonn on 15 July, as Senator Harradine indicated. I believe that President Carter is to attend and that the leading industrial nations of the world are invited. As to whether Australia has been invited or whether it could attend as an observer, I am not advised at the moment. Nevertheless I acknowledge that Australia has a very significant interest in this development and that therefore it would want to have a close association with any such conference. Australia has made a major recovery in terms of opposing inflation and interest rates and indeed in the figures published by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development it is now respectably about average and is likely to improve on that. Australia ‘s future is tied up with world trade and world emergence from recession. I acknowledge the question and will invite the Treasurer to give a reply.
– I ask the Minister for Administrative Services whether he can say what progress has been made by the Commonwealth Police in their investigations into the discovery of a bomb in the vicinity of the Indian High Commission on 25 March.
– I have some information. It is -
– That is a coincidence.
-I have been carrying this around for some days since the bomb was discovered.
– Why did you not make a statement instead of waiting for Question Time?
-As long as I am paid for doing this job I will do it my way and not in the way that the honourable senator suggests. If he would like to do it his way he can come over and sit in this chair. It is as simple as that. I would suggest further that Senator Georges seek from Senator Cavanagh a lecture in industrial relations because I have a certain monopoly on this job at the moment. As we were saying a while ago, the honourable senator should not try to be a scab and take over a job over which some person has a monopoly for the time being.
The Commonwealth Police have been investigating all possible avenues relating to the incident at the Indian High Commission on 25 March last. As a result, the Police have issued a photofit depiction of the male cyclist who was seen riding in the area at 2.30 a.m. on the relevant date. This man was accompanied by a female who had a single strap bag over her shoulder. They were riding in the direction of Red Hill that morning. The photofit has produced a good response from the public and information received as a result is still being processed. The Police are anxious that this photofit receive the widest possible circulation and, on their behalf, I thank the media for their assistance to date and hope that this will continue. The persons involved have not yet been found. On behalf of the Police, I appeal to all members of the public who have any information about this matter to contact the Commonwealth Police as quickly as possible.
-Earlier today Senator Button asked me about a question he had asked some time ago. I have what I imagine is an interim answer because Senator Button asked for further information. It is as follows:
The towns and environs, including all major administrative centres, are controlled directly by the provinicial authorities. Government forces can move into the remaining territory which is a kind of no-man’s land if they wish. Most of the people live in the towns and no-man’s land areas. Small areas in the hills are controlled by Fretilin.
-Yesterday Senator Brown asked me a question about Defence Force Retirement Benefits legislation. I attempted to call on my memory, which practice is often dangerous, but for once I happened to be right. The answer with which I was supplied by the Minister for Defence is as follows:
Yesterday Senator Brown asked me what progress had been made in respect of amendments to the DFRB legislation to bring its reversionary benefits arrangements into line with the relevant Superannuation Act provision. The necessary amendments to the principal DFRB Act were incorporated in the Defence Force (Retirement and Death Benefits Amendments) Act (No. 2) 1977 (Act No. 161 of 1 977 ) which was assented to on 1 0 November 1977.
– Will that information be incorporated?
– Pursuant to section 19(2) of the Anglo-Australian Telescope Agreement Act 1970, I present the annual report of the AngloAustralian Telescope Board for the year ended 30 June 1976, together with the financial statements and the report of the Auditor-General on those statements. I seek leave to make a statement relating to this report.
-Despite the need to effect economies during 1975-76, much was achieved in this, the first year of operation of the telescope. The telescope met all expectations in the excellence of its performance and may be regarded as one of the world’s leading astronomical research instruments. I draw the attention of the Senate to the Auditor-General’s report which at page 3 1 identifies a deficiency in the financial statements of the Board. I am advised that action has been taken by the Board to correct this deficiency.
– For the information of honourable senators, I present the monthly report of the
-I seek leave to move a motion.
– I move:
In doing so, may I make one or two comments. It is good to see that the report is coming through. It will be known that a requirement of the trust deed is to have a report presented to Parliament each month. It is essential that Parliament have this report each month to keep track of the activities of the Trust. It might be recalled that last year the Trust did not present monthly reports and the Minister for Science (Senator Webster) was kind enough, after a question I put to him, to make sure that it was done.
I remind the Senate of a couple of features which are very disturbing. I refer to the fact that there was an attempt to close the Fund in September 1 976. The Trust members decided at that time that they had met all the needs which existed and all the needs which they thought would exist in the future. In other words, they thought that they had satisfied the requirements of the trustee. So they went through the procedures of winding up. The Senate will understand that the deed, being a legal document, has certain requirements. We thought that we had met these.
At that time, in 1976, a local politician, a member of the Legislative Assembly, did not agree with the Trust and criticised the Trust members for what they had done. The Minister for the Northern Territory (Mr Adermann), as Chairman of the Trust, then reopened the Trust. Certain statements were made, applications were called again, and we sought information from the Crown Law Department and later from the Supreme Court on how we should wind up the Fund. That was 15 months ago, and since that time nothing has happened. Honourable senators can imagine what a great embarrassment this was to the trustees, who worked very hard to distribute the money which had been most generously donated by people throughout Australia. At that time it was found that we had to appoint more Trust members because some had retired. I think that if the Trust goes on for much longer we shall have to have another batch come in to fill the positions of a further lot of trustees who will have moved away from the Territory.
It is embarrassing also to the organisation for the spastics, which was given a sum of money as part of the winding up procedures. That organisation went ahead with plans for a spastic centre and then found that it did not have that money. It was put into a very embarrassing situation. It is embarrassing also for the people of Darwin, who are asked questions by people down south about what happened to the money which they gave. I am afraid it could also be very embarrassing for the Minister when on 1 July the Department of the Northern Territory no longer exists and the Minister as Minister for the Northern Territory will not be Chairman of the Trust Fund.
I ask the Minister whether he will take steps to see whether he can hasten a ruling from the Supreme Court. I know that this is a very difficult situation, but I ask him to try to get some information from the Supreme Court so that the Fund can be wound up. The trustees must be called together. Certain procedures must be gone through so that the Fund can be wound up. I ask the Minister to take very positive steps on this matter. I have to be fairly critical and say that nothing has been done for 15 months.
The original intention was to produce a full report of the Trust’s activities which might work as a manual for future disaster organisations. Following what I have said just now, one wonders whether the report would be of great value. It is only fair to say that in the early stages of the Trust Fund a lot of good work was done. It is fair to say also that even if we take note only of some of the deficiencies in the winding up procedures the report could be extremely valuable. I hope that this will be done. It is most important that this matter is finalised in the very near future. I call upon the Minister to take action. I seek leave to continue my remarks.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
– by leave- My colleague, the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr Anthony), put down this statement in the House of Representatives yesterday. I assume it is well known to this chamber. I therefore ask for leave to have it incorporated in Hansard.
The statement read as follows-
At the opening of this Parliament on 21 February the Governor-General stated that the Government would be proceeding with the development and export of Australia’s uranium resources. The six Bills just introduced underline our determination to proceed with uranium development in a carefully-regulated and responsible fashion with full regard for proper environmental control and for ensuring the welfare of the Aboriginal people. Those considerations were central elements of the Government’s policy on uranium development announced on 25 August 1977.
The announcement of that policy was made only after long and careful consideration by the Government of the recommendations of the Ranger Inquiry conducted under Mr Justice Fox as presiding Commissioner. I remind honourable members that the Government’s decisions were substantially consistent with the recommendations of the inquiry. The few variations from the inquiry’s recommendations were agreed to on the basis of achieving the same purposes and satisfying the same principles. The Ranger Inquiry was of course initiated by the Labor Government in 1975. It was a comprehensive and lengthy public inquiry and its findings have been the subject of extensive public debate both in the Parliament and in the community at large. One of the specific undertakings given by the Government last August was that we would establish a Uranium Advisory Council as one of the elements in the administrative arrangements for control and regulation of uranium development. The Government has now agreed that the Uranium Advisory Council be established with the following terms of reference:
The function of the Uranium Advisory Council shall be to advise the Minister for Trade and Resources with regard to the export and use of Australian uranium, having in mind in particular the possible hazards, dangers and problems of and associated with the production of nuclear energy; and the development of the uranium mining industry in Australia, including exploration.
The Council shall, as soon as practicable after each 30 June, prepare and furnish to the Minister for tabling in the Parliament a report on the operations of the Council during the year ended on that date.
The Council shall furnish to the Minister, by such time as the Minister may direct, a report on any other matter referred to the Council by the Minister. The Council may also furnish to the Minister a report on any other matter within its terms of reference.
The advice and assistance of the Council shall be made available as required to the Director of National Parks and Wildlife, the Northern Land Council, the supervising scientist, the co-ordinating committee and other agencies, as well as to the mine operators. ‘
The Government considers that these terms of reference will provide a suitable basis for the operation of the Council. The Terms of Reference have been purposely framed so as to allow the Council to operate with flexibility and in accordance with the recommendations and suggestions of the Ranger Inquiry. The actual individuals to be members of the Uranium Advisory Council have not yet been settled, but the Government has agreed that the Council should include representation from the following groups:
The Australian religious community; the Aboriginal community; a national voluntary environmental organisation; the Northern Territory community; the Australian Council of Trade Unions; a person with experience in energy matters; the Australian uranium industry; a nuclear scientist; a medical practitioner or health physicist; an environmentalist with experience in natural resource development; an economist with experience in natural resource development; an expert in national, and international affairs or law.
In the near future I expect to be inviting various individuals to be members of the Council. The names of those appointed will be announced as soon as possible.
The Government has agreed that the Uranium Advisory Council will be supported initially by a group of three research staff who will be engaged by and will report directly to the Council. These staff, although employed under the Public Service Act, will work independently of my Department in order to preserve the independent status of the Council and its advice. The Government also has agreed that the Council may contract outside consultants as necessary. The Department of Trade and Resources will service the administrative requirements of the Council including the provision of an administrative, as distinct from research, secretariat.
I also wish to advise the House on the stage reached in the implementation of other aspects of the Government’s uranium policy announced on 25 August 1977. As I have mentioned, the Government’s policy is based on an acceptance of the findings of the Ranger Inquiry. In reaching our decisions on uranium development we had special regard to the issues of nuclear nonproliferation and world energy requirements. As regards the former, it is very clear that only by developing our vast uranium resources can Australia play a real role in strengthening nuclear safeguards and preventing any illconsidered rush to plutonium-based energy systems. Only as a major potential exporter of uranium is Australia in a position to command attention and exert influence in the direction of more stringent nuclear safeguards systems. The United States, Canada and other nuclear supplier countries have in recent times taken initiatives to strengthen nuclear safeguards. Australia, in its position as a major potential uranium exporter, strongly supports such nuclear non-proliferation and safeguards initiatives.
Australia’s stringent safeguards policy has received international attention. We have prepared draft bilateral safeguards agreements on the basis of our policy and invited potential customer countries to conclude such agreements with us. Already there has been very significant and gratifying progress in this regard. Australia is at an advanced stage of negotiations of bilateral safeguards agreements with three countriesthe United Kingdom, Finland and the Philippines. We hope shortly to begin negotiating with Japan and other countries. Other countries have expressed interest in negotiating bilateral agreements with us. For Australia to achieve progress in the direction of more stringent nuclear safeguards in such negotiations, it needs to be abundantly clear that we intend to develop our uranium resources and play a positive and active role in international nuclear developments.
Australia’s standing in international nuclear forums also has been enhanced by our decision to proceed with development. The International Nuclear Fuel Cycle Evaluation is a major international initiative in regard to nuclear nonproliferation and the use of nuclear power for peaceful purposes. It was launched by President Carter in October last year. The study is expected to proceed over about two years and involves over 40 developed and developing countries, including Western and Communist countries.
Mr Justice Fox, Australia’s AmbassadoratLarge on Nuclear Non-proliferation and Safeguards, is fully engaged in Australia’s effort at INFCE. Australia has been elected to the very important position of Co-Chairman of Working Group 3 of INFCE dealing with the major questions on fuel supply assurances in the context of nuclear non-proliferation. Australia is also participating in other working groups.
In addition to the contribution Australia is making at INFCE, we also have participated for the first time in a working group under the auspices of the Nuclear Suppliers’ Group on the subject of multi-labelling. The Nuclear Suppliers’ Group brings together 15 of the world’s major nuclear exporting countries. It has developed common guidelines for the safeguards to be applied to nuclear exports, and Australia has accepted these guidelines. The invitation to Australia to join the working group on multilabelling is a further recognition of our increased significance in international nuclear affairs.
The second major consideration in regard to the development of Australia’s uranium resources is our international responsibility as a country rich in energy resources to make those resources available to countries less endowed than ourselves. In the wake of the world energy crisis many countries have no viable alternative energy source other than nuclear power. This is true both of developed and developing countries alike. Already nuclear energy is a fact of life in many countries and there are firm commitments and proposals to install nuclear capacity on an increasingly significant scale so as to provide urgently-needed supplies of electrical energy. There are now 1 94 nuclear power units operating in 2 1 countries with a capacity of over 95,000 megawatts of electricity. There are 213 nuclear power units under construction in 27 countries. An additional 100 units are on firm order in 17 countries. This means that nuclear power units with a total generating capacity of 388,000 megawatts are either in operation, under construction or on firm order in 34 countries throughout the world. There are 307 units at the planning stages with a proposed total generating capacity of over 300,000 megawatts. This is a total of 814 nuclear power units in operation, under construction, on firm order, or planned. This figure is higher than that mentioned last August when the Government’s decisions were announced.
There is a significant potential demand for Australian uranium to fuel existing and planned nuclear energy requirements of other countries. This is underlined in recent reports of the Nuclear Energy Agency of the OECD. The Nuclear Energy Agency estimates that world uranium reserves, including those in Australia, are 2.145 million short tons and that the cumulative demand to 1997 is 2.3 million short tons. In other words, world uranium demand exceeds supply even after counting in Australia’s existing resources. Since the announcement of Australia ‘s decision to proceed with further uranium development, a number of countries, including the United Kingdom, the Philippines, the United States, West Germany, France, Finland, and Japan, have registered their desire to secure uranium from Australia for their nuclear power programs. In view of the energy situation facing the world it is important, and indeed imperative, that Australia’s abundant energy resources are made available.
It must also be recalled that Australia has existing export contracts to about 11,700 short tons approved in the early 1970s and which successive governments, including the Labor
Government when it was in office, have repeatedly stated will be honoured. Australia will not be able to honour those contracts- which are long-term contracts extending to 1986- unless it proceeds with the development of new uranium mines. Australia’s credibility as a stable trading nation on whom other countries can rely is therefore very clearly at stake in relation to the undertakings that have been given to provide other countries with the uranium they must have for the production of electrical energy. I will be very disappointed if development cannot get under way in the forthcoming dry season. I am sure no political party would want to add to Australia ‘s embarrassment by placing in further jeopardy the honouring of existing contracts.
Honourable members will recall that last August the then Minister for Environment, Housing and Community Development stated that strict environmental controls and standards in relation to uranium mining would be adopted. In this regard the Government is presently examining the nature of environmental requirements, consistent with the environmental controls agreed on by the Government last August, that would be included in the grant of a mining authority to the Ranger consortium. These requirements will be designed to meet the very strict controls that the Government believes are necessary. They will carry legal force and will, of course, be subject to supervision by the supervising authorities in the region and subject also to the oversight and co-ordination processes established in the Environment Protection (Alligator Rivers Region) Bill 1 978.
In relation to the Ranger project, the Government also has under consideration proposals made by the Northern Land Council on Aboriginal wishes relating to the development of the Ranger project. I expect that negotiations on this matter, as required by Section 44 of the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act, will be resumed shortly.
In my statement to the House on 25 August 1977, 1 said that, in addition to proceeding with the development of the Ranger project, the Government would take decisions on the development of other uranium deposits, subject to satisfactory completion of necessary requirements.
In accordance with the administrative procedures under the Environment Protection (Impact of Proposals) Act, Pancontinental Mining Limited and Queensland Mines Limited have prepared draft environmental impact statements on the development of the Jabiluka and
Nabarlek deposits respectively. The comments that have been received from the public on these statements are being examined by the companies. I would also mention that Noranda Australia Limited has been designated in terms of the administrative procedures under the Act as proponent of all actions related to the uranium deposits at Koongarra. Western Mining Corporation also made available for public comment a draft environmental impact statement on its research plant at Kalgoorlie proposed in connection with the Yeelirrie deposit in Western Australia.
There are, of course, other elements of our policy announced on 25 August 1977 which also are in the course of implementation and in respect of which further legislation will be required.
With regard to marketing, we said on 25 August 1 977 that we accepted the thrust of the recommendation of the Ranger Inquiry that a uranium marketing authority be established, but that we would not take a final decision until the implications of foreign anti-trust laws had been fully examined. The Government hopes that it will be in a position in the near future to take the action necessary to establish appropriate marketing arrangements.
The Government also said on 25 August 1977 that the information available pointed to substantial economic benefits from the development of the uranium industry and that it would wish to consider the accrual of an appropriate share of uranium profits for the benefit of the public generally. As previously indicated, the Government has initiated discussions with the industry on a possible framework for a secondary or resourcebased tax on future earnings from uranium development.
In its announcement last August the Government said that Stage 2 of the Kakadu National Park would be proclaimed at a later time and that, in the meantime, exploration would be permitted under strictly-controlled conditions to be supervised by responsible departments. As indicated by the Minister for Environment, Housing and Community Development, provision is being made in the Bill to amend the National Parks and Wildlife Conservation Act to protect wildlife and natural features in the Stage 2 area. Provision also is being made to enable regulations to be made that will allow exploration to take place in that area. Subject to meeting Aboriginal interest in the area and the necessary environmental controls, the Government will be proceeding with a tightly-controlled exploration programme so that the resources of the Stage 2 area can be identified and appropriate action taken as quickly as possible to enable the proclamation of the area as a national park.
Development of uranium also will be dependent upon the co-operation of those members of the trade union movement who will be involved in mining, milling and transport activities.
Honourable members will be aware that the ACTU determined that affiliated unions should make labour available to facilitate the honouring of existing contracts from Mary Kathleen and from the Lucas Heights stockpile. ACTU resolutions in the past have identified areas of concern associated with the use of uranium as an energy source. However, the ACTU has not said that there should be a total renunciation of intention to supply from new mines.
The ACTU has called for consultations in relation to the development of new uranium mines. The Government said it would be glad to accede to this request, and talks between Ministers and the ACTU have already taken place. Further talks are planned.
Australia’s decision announced on 25 August 1977 to proceed with further uranium development has received wide acceptance in Australia and abroad. We have set ourselves a policy of carefully-regulated and controlled development, paying due regard for proper environmental control and for ensuring the welfare of the Aboriginal people. The successful and prompt implementation of our policy is a challenge for all sections of the Australian community. I believe this is a challenge and a responsibility, which Australians are well equipped to accept.
-I present the following paper:
Development and Export of Australia ‘s Uranium ResourcesMinisterial statement, 1 1 April 1 978.
So that there can be a debate on this statement at some time, I move:
Debate (on motion by Senator Georges) adjourned.
– by leave- I move:
Honourable senators will know that the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) and the Government are giving a parliamentary luncheon to a distinguished visiting head of state tomorrow.
One does not know how long the speeches will last and at what time the luncheon will adjourn.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I move:
-Is the motion seconded?
– Yes, Mr President.
– Many years ago, when I first started to take an interest in politics, I decided, as an Aborigine, that perhaps it was time a member of my race became involved in parliamentary procedures and endeavoured to become a member of parliament. I had the choice at that time of contesting a seat in the Queensland State Parliament and becoming a member of the Legislative Assembly or contesting a seat for either the House of Representatives or the Senate in the Federal Parliament. After a lot of consideration and discussions with a number of people I decided that I should make an effort to become a senator. One of the reasons that convinced me I should do that is that the Senate is a house of review, a house where legislation introduced by the Government in the House of Representatives is looked at again, providing what might be called a cooling-off period between the introduction of the legislation in the House of Representatives and the time that it becomes law.
As a house of review, the Senate has an opportunity to examine legislation in minute detail, to look at specific clauses and ensure that the Bill carries out the spirit of what the Government is trying to do. Most of all, the Senate has an opportunity to consider whether legislation is in the interests of the people of Australia and, as I am a Queenslander, in the general interests of the
State of Queensland. That is one of the reasons why I became a senator. I believed, and I still believe, in the Senate as a house of review, a place where legislation is examined closely. Another thing that attracted me to this place was the fact that a number of committees had been set up by the Senate whereby legislation, matters of interest and matters of importance to the people of Australia could be debated not only in this chamber and in the Committee of the Whole but also by the committees.
When the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders (Queensland Reserves and Communities Self-Management) Bill was debated in this chamber last week a number of people, particularly my colleague who sits next to me, Senator Wright from Tasmania, raised points that I believe need further and closer examination. It is not possible in this chamber to examine matters as closely and as minutely as can be done by a committee. I suppose there are those who might ask why I seek to have the matter referred to a Senate standing committee rather than a Senate select committee. Since coming to this place I have been a member of a number of committees. The first committee of which I was a member was the Senate Standing Committee on Health and Welfare, and the next was the Senate Standing Committee on the Social Environment, which looked into the environmental conditions of Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders and into the protection of their sacred sites. Mr President, at one time you were the Chairman of that Committee. I congratulate you for the amount of work that you did in relation to the investigations of that Committee. As you will recall, I had the great honour of presenting the Committee’s final report. The next Committee of which I became a member was the Senate Standing Committee on Science and the Environment, under the chairmanship of my colleague Senator Jessop.
So I am aware of the work of a number of committees, and particularly of the Committee to which I have asked that this matter be referred- the Senate Standing Committee on Constitutional and Legal Affairs. Since I have been a member of this Parliament that Committee has looked at a number of issues. I have lists of them here. I suppose that one of the most important issues as far as the people of Australia are concerned was the Family Law Bill. That matter was referred to the Committee, which considered it and heard evidence from quite a lot of people. The result was that it made a number of recommendations. I am quite sure that the members of that Committee are very proud of the fact that nearly all, if not all, of the recommendations of that Committee were adopted by the government of the day. It was not a government of my political persuasion. The Committee brought in a bi-partisan report, and nearly all of its recommendations were adopted by the government of the day.
Another very important matter that was referred to that Committee in 1977, under the present government, was the Crimes (Foreign Incursions and Recruitment) Bill. I say proudly that the recommendations made by the Committee were approved and accepted by the Government on 8 March 1978. The Committee has had a record of examining legislation very carefully and or bringing to the attention of the Government inadequacies in it. It has made recommendations and the Government has accepted those recommendations, having to change its mind on a number of things. What I am doing now is not very different from what has been done previously. I move my motion for a specific reason. This is an important issue. It is important to people. It is important to the Aboriginal people of Queensland, but it will have repercussions throughout the length and breadth of Australia. For the first time a government has looked at the rights of the Aboriginal people to do the things they want to do.
The Government has introduced this legislation to give the Aboriginal people- my people- in Queensland the right to be able to manage, direct and determine their own future and what they desire to do for themselves. By the same token I accept the fact that a number of people, including Senator Cavanagh, were concerned that matters within the legislation needed to be looked at more closely. My colleague Senator Wright was concerned. He raised a couple of matters. I believe that if the legislation is referred to the Committee the members will be able to look at it very closely and perhaps from their investigations will come a better Bill- a better deal for Aboriginal people. I am sure that that is what concerns all of us- a better deal for people, because this Bill is about people. If it can be improved in some way by the Committee having a look at it, surely no one could object to that. I strongly commend my motion and hope that the Senate will see fit to agree to it.
– The Opposition gives its support to the motion that has been moved by Senator Bonner. We do so without equivocation because, as was indicated in the debate at the second reading stage and in the Committee of the Whole on the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders (Queensland Reserves and Communities SelfManagement) Bill last week, we feel that there are sufficient anomalies and ambiguities to warrant further consideration of the perspectives and the strategy that the Commonwealth Government has set itself in dealing with the Aborigines in Queensland.
I think it must be said, however, that in retrospect the motion is a little late in seeking to achieve the objectives that Senator Bonner nas set it. Almost a month ago a debate took place in the Senate from which emerged a degree of consensus about the problems at Aurukun and Mornington Island. Since then a political dogfight has developed between the Queensland Minister for Aboriginal and Islanders Advancement, Mr Porter, particularly the Premier of Queensland, Mr Bjelke-Petersen, and the Commonwealth Government. At some stage it developed into a verbal slanging match between the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) and the Queensland Premier.
Of course, in order to resolve the matter the Commonwealth Government saw fit to introduce at very short notice important legislationit is now an Act- which established a number of important new principles. However, it has to be said that in the process of that debate which concluded at 4.55 p.m. last Friday, the Premier of Queensland carried out his threats and has effectively checkmated the Federal Government and certainly nullified the endeavours that were embodied in the legislation and in the debates that ensued. I think that those honourable senators who refused to examine properly the amendments, which were conceded by the Minister for Social Security (Senator Guilfoyle) to be genuine and designed to prevent the Premier of Queensland from moving in the way that he did, have now contributed towards creating the new crisis.
There is no doubt that at the moment in this conflict of opinion, in the conflict of tactics and in the conflict of play that has occurred over the last several weeks, the initiative has swung back to Queensland. As I was moving the last of the amendments at about 4.45 p.m. last Friday, probably there was a general staff meeting of the Queensland Government. Once the Senate passed the legislation, over the wires came the decision of the Queensland Government to nullify it and to checkmate the decisions that the Senate had ratified.
– Not checkmate; check, perhaps.
– At this point, the Commonwealth has been checkmated. It must be recognised that the Premier of Queensland has been able to destroy effectively the Commonwealth Government’s position for the time being. As I have pointed out and as has been pointed out by other honourable senators, we are dealing with a rogue elephant. We are dealing with a person who glorifies in confrontation. The whole thrust of his policies over recent years has been to paint Canberra as an evil source of power to portray himself as the protector of the rights of people. The Commonwealth Government has taken a certain view. I refer to what Senator Guilfoyle said in the debate on the Bill last week. During the Committee stage of the Bill on Friday afternoon the Minister said: the Bill aims to prevent the Queensland Government from doing what it has announced it will do and that is to take over the direct administration of the two communities.
Are they the facts? The Minister continued:
If the Queensland Government takes action to change the status of the reserves, the Government will be able to consider the position at that time and decide whatever future action of a legislative kind or any other kind is appropriate.
It must be recognised that, in this power conflict between the rights of the Queensland Premier to determine the lifestyle of Aborigines in Queensland and the determination of this Government and this Parliament to free them from that influence and to give them the rights of self-determination and self-management, the Aborigines have become the meat in the sandwich. There must be tremendous confusion at Aurukun and Mornington Island at this moment. The people must be asking: ‘What are politicians? They have failed us’. I accept the urgency plea that was made by the Government, Senator Bonner and other honourable senators on Friday for the need to respond to the wishes of the people of Aurukun and Mornington Island and to pass the legislation to give them protection and an assurance that their rights were to be protected. I wonder what they have felt when half an hour after we had passed that legislation the Premier abolished the reserves which had been in operation for the whole of this century and then said: ‘The reserves are now Crown land, and I am king of the situation again ‘. These were points that we raised in the debate.
I do not criticise Senator Missen for his reluctance and reticence to accept our amendments in the faith that we presented them to the chamber. He said that he did not think our amendments were reaching the problem. I submit to him that the first four amendments we moved which would have placed the situation beyond any legal challenge in regard to the reserves as designated on 3 1 March would have strengthened our hand. When I say ‘our hand’ I refer to the national authority-the national Parliament. If we had adopted the amendments our position would have been strengthened. It raises in my mind the inabilities of governments- I do not place one government in a different category to the other- to examine seriously amendments put forward by the Opposition. The tendency is to oppose amendments. If governments put forward legislation, oppositions believe they should oppose it. If oppositions put forward amendments, governments believe they should oppose them because they come from the other side of the House.
Of course, it is in that spirit that I feel and my Party feels that the Government dealt with the debate knowing full well that it had the strongest possible bipartisan support not only of members of the Labor Party in this chamber but also the two other senators on this side of the chamber. It was evident during the second reading debate that those two honourable senators were anxious to give their support to the motivation of the Government. Yet such is the spirit and such is the way in which parliamentary processes have developed that I believe sufficient consideration was not given to what the Opposition said. If our amendments were not acceptable it was up to those honourable senators opposite who appreciated what we were trying to do to come forward with amendments that would have strengthened the position. If any honourable senator opposite had moved such amendments he would have been assured of enjoying a great deal of support from my colleagues Senator Cavanagh and Senator Keeffe and from myself to achieve the objectives.
– If the amendments had defeated the Bill, which was suggested by the advice that the Attorney-General had, that would have been unfortunate; but surely the position should be further examined to see whether they do have that effect.
– The Minister submitted that there was some legal doubt and constitutional problems associated with the legislation. We cannot accept that. We cannot accept that it has no validity, bearing in mind that no High Court could give a judgment on a subsequent challenge to the legislation contrary to the overwhelming support of the Australian people given to the Australian Government by the referendum. I refer particularly to the views that were expressed by the Queenslanders themselves.
That was the clearly expressed will of the Australian people. If the honourable senator is suggesting that, in the face of a more than 90 per cent affirmative vote in a referendum in which the issues were clearly espoused and in which the views of the Queenslanders about the areas of responsibility were clearly expressed, the High Court could find some degree of uncertainty or some legal anomaly then it seems to me that there is something wrong with the High Court. After all, part of the process of legal administration is to have regard to the public need. Surely that point should have been and could have been strengthened considerably.
We have a position now in which Queensland Aborigines on two missions are hesitant about their rights and are unable to evaluate them. We find it difficult to do that here, and we are supposed to be the experts. Newspaper editorial writers make similar comments. How much more difficult must it be for those who do not have the means to understand properly the processes that have developed in those two missions? How much more uncertainty must there be in all the other reserves in Queensland? The people on those reserves must be in a very unhappy state of mind. They must be very uncertain about their rights, even with respect to this legislation. I do not have to convince the Senate of this fact. I think we have had much evidence of the fact that Aborigines in Queensland have been persecuted and are still being persecuted by the Queensland Government. Paternalism still operates to the detriment of the rights of the Aborigines. The public servants are the people who speak and act on their behalf. The Aborigines have restricted democratic rights. If it is suggested that the passage of this legislation- as it was during the Committee stage- as an attempt to rectify those things and to establish the equality of opportunities, facilities and services could be put under legal challenge, certainly there must be something wrong in the state of Denmark. It seems to me that we should have no doubts about our moral and legal responsibilities to the people. I think the Senate has to accept the fact that we failed the Aborigines on Friday by passing that legislation and by not giving more consideration to the amendments that were moved.
Of course, the motion moved by Senator Bonner, which is under consideration, states that we should look at the constitutional, comprehensive and consistent effectiveness of this legislation. Of course we support the motion that he has moved. Is it not an indictment upon us and an indictment upon the framers of the notice of motion- I am referring to those who have the responsibility of preparing the notice of motionthat on the same day that we passed it, when it was part of our responsibility to review the legislation and make the essential remedies, if there were defects in it, notice was given of a motion to set up a committee of the Senate to study it, to see whether it is effective, to see whether it is constitutional and to see whether it is comprehensive.
– We are not setting up a committee; the committee is already set up.
– I accept that. But it must surely be within the areas of responsibility of those who prepare the legislation and of those who consider it in the Party room to make sure that it is a watertight piece of legislation considering the role that Mr Bjelke-Petersen, the Premier of Queensland, has consistently followed in his attitude to the Australian Government. It would make no difference if Neville Bonner, Alan Missen or even Senator Withers- I do not want to elevate any honourable senator’s more than he should be- were the Prime Minister of Australia, Mr Bjelke-Petersen would still take the same dog in the manger attitude. But that does not matter. The fact of the matter is that this man has adopted a negative attitude. He will challenge the legislation or take whatever steps are available to him, as he did less than half an hour after we passed the legislation last Friday.
– But, Senator, a number of pieces of legislation has gone to this Committee and come back better as a result.
-Superficially, the honourable senator’s point is valid. That is why we support the motion he has moved. But the fact is that in the course of time the Committee will investigate the matter and hear witnesses. The investigation will have a life of its own. That means, of course, that at a point in time- it may be one, two or three months- the Committee will complete its deliberations but probably not in the present session of Parliament. Then, the Committee having made its deliberations, the Government will have to go through the gamut of deciding whether it will accept those points of view. We have all been members of Parliamentary committees, we have been party to recommendations and we have seen how governmentswhatever their political complexionsreact to such recommendations. In other words, we will have to go through the whole process again of preparing the legislation, getting the Cabinet to make the decision, facing up to the nitty-gritty of responding to the confrontation with the Premier of Queensland and then including matters which, in the opinion of the Committee, should have been included in the original legislation.
– Your do recognise that a committee can make interim recommendations, particularly on a matter which is urgent.
– I think we are confronted with some technical difficulties in that Parliament will rise this week for a fortnight’s break. One imagines that the Committee will try to meet within that fortnight and hear witnesses. Whether in fact we can do that and report during the one week sitting which is scheduled for June, in the last few days of the session, is a matter about which I have considerable doubts. Because of time I do not think the Committee has the capacity to do that. I have been a chairman of committees, as we all have at various times, and we all know the restraint and constraints which exist.
I think the Government has to accept the fact that we are involved in a struggle between the conservatives and the rest. The rest are the Aborigines, the militants, the churches, the Australian Labor Party- to use some of Mr BjelkePetersen’s words- and now the Liberal Party. He might say the rump of the Liberal Party but I hope I can say the majority of the Liberal Party.
– You have forgotten the communists, socialists and radicals on our back benches.
– All the southern socialists, and everybody else. There is no doubt that the States have certain constitutional rights and certain capacities to be difficult. That is exactly the problem with which we are concerned. The criticism, which the Opposition tried to make in the best of faith last week, was that the day of confrontation cannot be put off. We should make the decision at the time it needs to be made. We should take steps to see that it is made. Senator Bonner, in a question today, referred to people singing hymns on the street. The situation in Queensland just goes on and on. I am told that when Mr Bjelke-Petersen was being interviewed in this building today, he said that he had come down to see over Canberra and to take us over. That is the way in which this unusual gentleman from the north seems to regard us in Canberra. He does not see us as part of co-operative federalism, which is supposed to be the policy of this Government. He sees us as playing some sort of a sinister role instead of a role which is responsible and which is designed particularly to help the Aboriginal people in Queensland. The fact that this motion is being moved means, I gather, that it will enjoy the support not only of the 27 members of the Labor Party and of the two Independent members but also of a sufficient number of members of the Government to enable it to be carried. We can perhaps take it for granted today that the motion has overwhelming support. It has sufficient support to show again that within this Parliament there is a determination to pick up the tab and to accept our responsibilities in relation to the Aborigines in Queensland, particularly in the immediate sense, those of Aurukun and Mornington Island.
– I rise to support with some enthusiasm the motion moved by Senator Bonner. We ought to be indebted to the Opposition and to Senator Gietzelt in particular for his enthusiastic support of the motion because of what it will attempt to achieve. However, I think I ought to take issue with a couple of points raised by Senator Gietzelt. One of the first very interesting Bills which was introduced in the Senate after my election in May 1974 was the Family Law Bill 1974. Most of Senator Gietzelt’s contention is centred around the fact that we want to send a Bill off to the Senate Standing Committee on Constitutional and Legal Affairs. He claims that we should have been ready to accept the amendments that were put to us, virtually on the run, last week. Those amendments having been rejected, he now finds some inconsistency in our approach. I hark back to the Family Law Bill and I remind Senator Gietzelt that the Bill which was introduced in 1974 was the third version which was introduced into the Senate by the then Attorney-General, Senator Murphy. The Bill was sent off to the Standing Committee on Constitutional and Legal Affairs which recommended 120 amendments. The Bill had been around for quite some time. I understand it had been changed a little. Nevertheless, with all the time and all the opportunity that Labor Party senators undoubtedly had to look at the Bill, that Committee found it necessary to recommend 120 amendments. I just indicate that no government is perfect in that regard.
We have seen more urgent legislation in the Parliament in recent times which has required additional sitting days of the Senate. I think that honourable senators on the Government side as well as on the Opposition side in the course of debating those pieces of legislation indicated some unhappiness at having to deal with the legislation in that way perforce of circumstances. I certainly said publicly in an interview last weekand others have said so too- that under those circumstances, when legislation comes into the Parliament and must be given passage in just a few days, one can expect to have problems. One can expect that there will be aspects which Parliamentary draftsmen have overlooked or misunderstood and that members of Parliament, looking at the legislation with a fresh perspective, will pick up some of those faults. All honourable senators- both Government and Oppositionwho are present will be aware that when the respective parties were in government those sorts of errors were corrected within Party rooms and in Party committees. When we have emergency legislation the chances are reduced of picking up errors, inconsistencies or undesirable aspects. It is possible that that happened in the case of this legislation.
I do, however, remind the Senate yet again of something that I said in my speech on the Bill last week. For a number of reasons there was enormous pressure on the Government to move quickly. The State Government had long since indicated that it would cease giving funds to the church on 3 1 March for the purpose of financing those missions at Aurukun and Mornington Island. So that was the first point of great pressure and urgency on the Federal Government, to move to legislate to enable it to act on its constitutional responsibility in respect of those people. I also remind the Senate, and particularly Senator Gietzelt, that the week before the Leader of the Opposition, Mr Hayden, was saying that the Parliament ought to be recalled a week earlier than was planned so as to put through legislation immediately. If we had done that I suggest that there would have been even greater cause for complaint amongst those who now say that the Bill may be deficient.
I accept that under the sort of circumstances that prevailed the Senate had to get that legislation through by the end of last week to meet a very difficult situation and to keep faith with the people of Aurukun and Mornington Island who had been promised that by the end of last week the Federal Government would have taken that action. Those people would not have understood any sort of delaying tactics at that stage. I accept that it is quite possible that on a re-examination of some of the Opposition ‘s amendments there may be a case to be made out to amend the Bill, but I do not want to prejudge any suggestions that might be made in relation to amendments to the Bill. It was just unfortunate that the legislation had to be urgent; that the whole situation arose in the way that it did. It was unfortunate that the Government and the Opposition had to take advice on the run in relation to amendments. Nevertheless, I welcome the fact that there really is no disagreement between the Government and the Opposition on the motion now before the Senate and the only complaint apparently is the way in which the amendments were dealt with.
There is some argument, I understand, about whether a select committee ought to be set up to look at the Bill or whether it would be better to send the Bill to a standing committee such as the Senate Standing Committee on Constitutional and Legal Affairs. The Senate of course would encounter some difficulty in manning a committee if we were to set up a select committee. All honourable senators are aware of the considerable pressure on them at present in relation to manning the various committees of the Senate and the various parliamentary committees. I believe that the motion that the Bill should go to this Standing Committee is a wise one. It will of course put additional pressure on that Committee but I understand that its members are prepared to accept it. There is no ideal standing committee to which this matter could go except the Constitutional and Legal Affairs Committee which does have some natural advantages in that it has a secretariat and members who are used to looking at constitutional matters and examining them. We should expect and hope that this committee would be the one with the experience, the background and knowledge of the Constitution at least to feel confident in that area. Just because this matter is referred to that Select Committee it in no way rules out the opportunity for any other honourable senator who is interested to participate in the Committee. Every honourable senator is entitled to attend public meetings of the Committee, indeed to indulge in crossexamination. The week before last the Senate Standing Committee on Education and the Arts met in Sydney and held some public hearings. Senator Janine Haines, who is not a member of that Committee, availed herself of the opportunity, because of her special interest in the subject that the Committee was considering, to cross-examine witnesses. That course is open to any honourable senator. So anybody from the Senate who is not a member of the Constitutional and Legal Affairs Committee but who does have a keen interest in the subject can of course go along and participate in the proceedings of the Committee.
– They would be welcome.
-As Senator Missen who I believe is Chairman of the Committee indicates, they would be welcome. We cannot look at the whole subject on the run. There were some points which I think are now relevant which Senator Gietzelt raised in relation to the Opposition’s amendments. One of the problems in this area is that, as it is now patently clear there are some options of other action open to the State Government which can stymie the intention and content of the Bill that we passed last week. As I understand it, the reserves having been declared national parks are no longer under the administration of the Minister for Aboriginal and Islander Affairs in Queensland and now come under the administration of the Minister for Local Government, Mr Hinze. Heaven only knows, if we move in a patchwork way in trying to fix up this Bill with immediate and possibly hasty amendments, how many more little devices lurk in the whole body of Queensland law. It is clear that the Constitutional and Legal Affairs Committee ought to take a close look at a very wide range of Queensland legislation to ascertain just how many pieces of legislation could possibly affect the welfare of Aborigines.
It is unfortunate that we are arguing about what sort of Crown land the Aborigines are living on, be it Aboriginal reserves or national parks, because our first priority and our first concern ought to be for the people living on the land, whichever Minister happens to be claiming responsibility for them at the moment. I would hate to see a situation in which these sorts of dodges and feints could be used over and over again by a State government hostile to this legislation and hostile to the Federal Government’s policy in relation to Aborigines.
Obviously, a very thorough-going investigation is necessary. The whole idea of referring this matter to a committee, of course, reinforces the Senate’s role as a House of Review. Nevertheless, we had to pass the legislation before we took this step. It might seem a slightly roundabout way of doing things because there have been occasions when we have had legislation before us and referred it to a committee for report before we have proceeded with passage of the legislation. The reference of this matter to a committee will in no way limit the rights of and opportunities for people to put submissions to the Committee and to say whatever they believe is relevant, particularly under paragraph (c) of the motion in respect of the constitutionality, comprehensiveness, consistency and effectiveness of the legislation. Indeed, it is even open to the Queensland Government, if it sees fit, and to any department under that Government, to put in submissions relating to the legislation and to say what they think about the constitutionality and so on of the legislation. It will be interesting to see whether they treat the Senate committee with that son of interest and respect and choose to put to the Parliament and to the Government via the Senate Committee their views on whether or not that legislation is really constitutional and properly consistent with the responsibilities of the Commonwealth. I would hope that they would do so because if their genuine concern is a matter of State rights and if they really believe that the Constitution does not confer on the Commonwealth the power which the Commonwealth has assumed in passing this legislation they really ought to put it publicly and not wait until the next move in this rather unsavory game of chess, or whatever it is that we seem to be engaged in at the moment, in which of course the Aboriginal people are the pawns.
Mr Acting Deputy President, I draw attention to the fact that the Senate has now been sitting for just under two hours since the resumption of the sitting and with some concern I draw to your attention Standing Order 127 which, if I may extract the relevant parts, says:
If all Motions . . . shall not have been disposed of two hours after the time fixed for the meeting of the Senate, the Debate thereon shall be interrupted . . .
If we do not resolve this motion by 4.15 the debate will be interrupted and Senator Bonner’s motion will go to the bottom of the list under General Business initially and then Orders of the Day. I have here today’s Notice Paper for the Senate which shows that on resumption of the sittings of the Senate today there were 35 Orders of the Day. I believe two or three other matters have been added today, which would mean that Senator Bonner’s motion would be about No. 40 on the list. In those circumstances clearly we would not get to settle this question. Senator Gietzelt has indicated the difficulties he sees the Constitutional and Legal Affairs Committee will have in reporting quickly in any event. In those circumstances I appeal to the Opposition to allow this matter to be put now so that we can have it resolved before debate will lapse at 4.15, because we are all in agreement. In that way the matter can proceed to the Committee and this very urgent work can be undertaken.
- Mr Acting Deputy President, I propose to move a motion to suspend the Standing Orders for the purpose of having a full debate. For a start, we are not all in agreement with the motion.
– We will not agree to that.
– I raise another point.
-Do not go past 4.15 though.
-I am not trying to block the debate. I ask that we have the opportunity to adjourn it without killing our time on it.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Young)- The question is that the motion moved by Senator Bonner be agreed to.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
-If this is applying the gag, I think we should divide on it. If it is not, I shall withdraw my comments.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT- With regard to the comment of Senator Georges, I point out that the motion was put as a normal motion and was passed on the voices. It being two hours after the meeting of the Senate the Senate, pursuant to Standing Order 107, will proceed to Orders of the Day.
Debate resumed from 10 April, on motion by Senator Webster:
That the Bill be now read a second rime.
– The Senate has before it a Bill which allows an extension of the borrowing powers of the Australian Apple and Pear Corporation to enable the Corporation to borrow, with provision for the Commonwealth to guarantee repayment, moneys for the purpose of promoting the sale and consumption of apples and pears and apple and pear products. This legislation, although fairly specific in nature, is intended to permit the Corporation to expand its borrowing capacity. The previous position which obtained permitted the Corporation to borrow only on conditions in which the Corporation itself was the trader. Of course that placed a restriction on the activities of the Corporation because, where it was necessary or desirable for it to engage in promotion work in areas which were being handled by persons or firms other than the Corporation, its capacity to borrow was restricted.
Although the essence of this Bill is concerned with the Corporation’s borrowing power, it gives us an opportunity to consider some aspects of the industry that face the growers in Australia, and the general question of marketing. The Apple and Pear Corporation was formed in 1 974 and replaced the Apple and Pear Board which was a body with more restricted powers. It was considered at the time- I think generally agreed by the industry and most people involved in it- that a body with wider powers, particularly in the marketing area, would be to the advantage of the industry. As a result, the Corporation came into operation that year and its structure was altered considerably from that of the Apple and Pear Board. The principal reason behind that was to endeavour to improve the marketing of apples and pears not only in Australia but also overseas. As a result the marketing capacity of the Corporation was improved and the persons appointed to the Corporation were appointed with an emphasis on marketing in mind- much more than had been the case in the past.
Over the years there did not appear to have been any problems associated with the production of apples and pears in Australia. Certainly the manner of presentation and the manner in which we exploited possible markets were important. I think it has become apparent that in the fairly brief time the Corporation has been operating the industry has been revitalised. The industry is smaller now because in the last few years a continual restructuring process has been taking place whereby growers have been able to remove their trees and convert the land into other forms of production. At the same time, consistent with the restructuring, a stabilisation scheme has been operating which has guaranteed certain support to the growers from Federal governments of different political colours. Assistance has also been given by some State governments. All this has led us to the present position in which the prospects for the industry appear to be more hopeful. I think it fair to say that it has been the desire of many persons- probably all people involved in the industry over the years -to get some degree of stability. The most effective way in which that could be done was ensure that markets were made as safe as possible and, particularly, that new markets would be developed. We know the great difficulties that have been brought about as a result of the formation of the European Economic Community and Britain’s entry into it. That has made our penetration of markets in that area all the more difficult. Nevertheless as a Southern Hemisphere producer we are able to penetrate those markets to a limited extent each year and all in all I think we have made some considerable progress.
There is quite a different emphasis in the structure of the industry throughout Australia. The great bulk of the exports come from one StateTasmania. That State is generally the one about which most discussion takes place in respect of the apple industry particularly; not so much with regard to the pear industry. It is with justification that those discussions take place. The emphasis is placed on the difficulties in the Tasmanian industry, primarily because the growers in that State are compelled to export their products either interstate or overseas whereas the bulk of the production in, say, New South Wales or Victoria is marketed locally where there is a big ready market. It has been infinitely easier for those growers to survive over the years than it has been for the Tasmanian growers. In fact over the last five years the number of growers in Tasmania has declined by two-thirds as a result of the restructuring process and also as a result of the sheer economic impossibility for most of those growers to maintain viability.
I direct some of my remarks to the industry in that State not only because I come from Tasmania but also because, as I have indicated, it is there that the most difficult problems have existed for so long. On the initiative of the Tasmanian State Government last year a new marketing authority was formed- the Tasmanian Apple Marketing Authority. It is now operating in its second year. Despite the opposition that was expressed at the time of its formation, its performance so far has been commendable. It does not have great financial resources and has a comparatively small staff, but it has taken the initiative of recognising that if the industry in that State is to remain viable and if those who remain in the industry are to continue to produce apples and pears, the market position has to be secure. This the Authority is doing to an extent which I believe is appreciated by the majority of growers there. Unfortunately some of the larger growers, especially in the Huon Valley in southern Tasmania, are not co-operating with the Authority in the manner one would expect. In the maintenance of markets it is important not only to supply the markets with good fruit but to keep in mind that certain markets require certain varieties of fruit. Unless those varieties are in proper supply, the growers run the risk of losing that market. Unfortunately that is the problem which is currently being experienced in Tasmania. Another comment I make in regard to the Authority concerns the quite excellent communication system it has developed with the industry. It is putting out regular news sheets which advise the growers precisely what they are required to do in considerable detail. This obviously must give confidence to those persons who remain in the industry.
There have been problems in the change from the old system in which growers were selling their fruit through private agents. There was a certain personal link between the growers and the fruit firms which to some degree nas been lost under the present system. The Authority is operating only one representative in the south of the State and one in the north. Some growers feel that there has been a detachment from the activities of the industry because of this action. Nevertheless, it would seem that the newsletter to which I have referred which the Authority is putting out under great difficulty largely fills that gap. There are problems again this year with particular varieties of fruit which are in demand on the European and North American markets being shipped to interstate markets by many of the larger growers simply because there is a very good price to be obtained there at the present time. This, of course, is not helping the industry to stabilise itself. The Authority is obliged to send these particular varieties to these markets- I do not know whether the Apple and Pear Corporation would have any power to act in this matter; I understand the Tasmanian Authority itself has no power- and it is to be regretted that certain sections of the industry are not prepared to co-operate with the Authority in the manner they should be.
There are two specific matters to which I wish to draw the attention of the Senate. One currently is affecting the whole of the industry and the other specifically affects the Tasmanian industry. In the first case, which concerns the insurance of crops, Tasmania is probably more affected than the mainland States. It is, I think, known by most people interested in this area that periodically crops are very severely damaged by hail and frost. The voluntary scheme of insurance is quite inadequate. It does not provide anything like the amounts of assistance Tasmanian growers feel they need if they are wiped out or if a very large section of their crop is destroyed.
It would seem that either the Corporation or perhaps individual State authorities should look at a more disciplined form of insurance for the industry. I would imagine that if a nationwide scheme could be introduced this would be to the benefit of the industry as a whole. Of course, we must realise that some areas are much more at risk than others and, therefore, if that sort of scheme is not possible the Federal Government should at least undertake to discuss with the States, particularly the Tasmanian Authority, the question of the introduction of a wider scheme, one to which all growers would belong and to which growers would be required to make a contribution where the State and the Commonwealth made contributions. I would not know the attitude of, for example, the Tasmanian Government to such a proposal but if it could be introduced on the basis of perhaps a 20 per cent levy per grower, a 20 per cent contribution by the State and a 40 per cent contribution by the Federal Government, we would then have a scheme which could enable a decent reserve fund to be built up so that when growers are hit and their crops are destroyed they can recover through insurance payments which will allow them to prepare for the following season. This is a matter on which the Minister for Science (Senator Webster) might care to comment or on which he might be able to give us further information on any approaches made to his colleague, Mr Sinclair.
The other matter which specifically concerns Tasmania is the great problem of the freight charged on fruit, particularly to the European market. As honourable senators will be aware, the container system of shipping now has been in operation for some years. For reasons which I do not understand it appears that container shipping operating to North America absorbs the additional cost of those containers being shipped to Tasmania to be loaded and then, presumably, trans-shipped in Melbourne or Sydney. But this is not being done in the case of shipments to Europe. In the case of a Tasmanian grower who is trying to compete on the European market in the same way as, say, a Western Australian grower, one would have his fruit shipped by container, which is a better method of shipment and, all things being equal, is cheaper than conventional tonnage, while the other would pay an additional $740 per container from Tasmania. That works out at an extra $1.35. That is an enormous competitive disadvantage to the Tasmanian grower.
– That is $ 1 .35 a case, is it?
– I understand so, yes. I assume that the Minister for Transport (Mr Nixon) would have some explanation for this situation but as I understand it the shipping companies and the Conference people have decided that they are prepared to absorb the cost to the North American market but not to the European market. Bearing in mind that Tasmanian growers depend on that overseas market to absorb almost 75 per cent of their production, one can understand why they complain. Again I put it to the Minister that this matter should be given urgent consideration by the Government. This apparently is the decision which has been applied by the shipping industry. Perhaps the Minister could explain that to us or obtain information on it.
The other matter that specifically affects the Tasmanian exporter is the freight equalisation rebate. Without being critical of the benefits of that scheme it appears that the marketing Authority is not able to claim a blanket rebate for the industry. Every grower has to make a separate application for every shipment that he sends across Bass Strait. Apparently the Authority has discussed this matter with the Federal Government. It is in this area, I understand, that something is contained in the legislation which prevents the Authority from being able to claim on behalf of the industry. Presumably, that would be the ‘end user’ principle. If that is the case, I put it to the Government that it ought to consider whatever amendment might be necessary to the Australian Apple and Pear Corporation Act, or to whatever regulations might be involved, because this involves a great deal of extra work for the growers and presumably involves a great deal of extra work for the Government.
If the matter has been brought to the attention of the Government- I assume it has- I ask the Minister to indicate whether the Government would be prepared to consider amending the legislation m order to ensure that this disadvantage and inconvenience is removed. I know that other honourable senators wish to address themselves to this Bill. I shall close my remarks by indicating that we in the Opposition are not opposing the legislation. We believe that it will be of advantage to the Corporation to have these additional powers. We trust that with these powers the Corporation will be able to continue its work of strengthening generally the marketing position for apples and pears in this country and overseas.
– I support the Australian Apple and Pear Corporation Amendment Bill, which is a very short Bill which is not opposed by the Opposition. I think we are indebted to Senator Wriedt for his contribution to the debate, in which he dealt with the problems of Tasmania in the marketing of apples. He made reference also to the difficulties the industry experiences by reason of the absence of an adequate insurance system against loss if a crop is destroyed by storm, tempest or other act of God; in other words, by natural means. I think that this aspect is worthy of some consideration in this debate. I think the effects are felt on a wide plane throughout the fruit industry.
I recall very vividly the ravages to the dried fruits crop and the grape crop in the Mildura area of Victoria and in adjacent areas in, I think, both South Australia and New South Wales last year. In Victoria there was a voluntary scheme of insurance which proved to be totally inadequate to meet the losses suffered. In fact, it was only a drop in the ocean compared with the losses experienced. I should add that the responsibility for devising an insurance scheme which enables growers to withstand these sorts of losses when the unexpected happens rests with the States. So far as I am aware, to date no compensation of any sort has been forthcoming for these unfortunate growers. I think that this illustrates the insurance problem which does occur with frequency in the industry. Many years ago the canning fruits industry had a system of hail insurance which proved to be very difficult to finance. I think that with the updating of marketing schemes and with the expertise which ought to be available in industry we should be looking for a situation where the sort of disaster which Senator Wriedt mentioned could be covered.
This Bill is a marketing Bill. It will enable the Australian Apple and Pear Corporation to borrow, with Commonwealth guarantee, moneys to promote the sale and consumption of apples and pears and apple and pear products. The design of the Bill is to widen the financial charter of the Corporation so that it will be in a better position to grapple with the marketing problems which afflict not only this section of primary industry but, indeed, the canning fruits industry, the beef industry and other primary industries in Australia today. I think it is true to say that in the present climate of primary industry the critical factor in the industry is the ability of the producer to get an adequate price for his product. I think it is now realised both by government and private industry-probably above all by the producers in private industry- that expertise in the market place is needed if the fruit is to be disposed of at a satisfactory price.
We are reminded vividly of the marketing problems we face today because of the present attitude of the European Economic Community. The Minister for Special Trade Representations (Mr Garland) recently returned from overseas and presented an excellent detailed paper on the grave economic problems which the attitude of the EEC towards what were our traditional markets is causing not only to Australia but also to a vast number of producing nations, such as Japan and the United States of America. These are grave and novel problems which have not really been experienced before in those areas.
Although this Bill is perhaps a relatively small marketing Bill, I think it is important particularly to apple and pear growers. It is also important in the context of the general problems we face today in marketing our primary products. The new powers which will be vested in the Corporation to give it the necessary ability to cope adequately with the marketing problems are set out in clause 4 of the Bill, which will empower the Corporation to borrow moneys for the purpose of:
exercising its power to engage in trade;
The Bill will adequately arm the Corporation with the necessary powers to promote the sale of the products without waiting for funds to come in from the levies which are imposed on sales. The main promotional period for export apples is from May to July, and for domestic apples it is from March to July. It is essential that the Corporation has the funds to enter into marketing promotion schemes during those periods so that the annual crop will be sold. I think it is interesting to note that apples present a problem primarily to Tasmania, which I think supplies twothirds of the export market and one-third of the domestic market. The Goulburn Valley in Victoria, in which I reside, is the major producer in Australia of export pears.
I think it is worthy of note that some three or four years ago, in the face of the problems facing the apple and pear industry, particularly in regard to export apples and pears but also in regard to canning pears the Government found it necessary to reduce the production to bring it into line with the needs of the depressed market. Something of the order of 40 per cent of the pear trees in the Goulburn Valley area in Victoria, which is the pear production area, were actually removed during that period to reduce the quantity of fruit available to somewhere near the market demand and to ensure that there was not a complete glut on the market and a significant amount of unsalable fruit. I recall that some years ago a prominent member of the industry in the Goulburn Valley said that if a slice of pear could be put into the lunch of each Japanese school child each day the problems of the Australian pear industry would be over because almost the entire crop could be absorbed in that way. Apparently our marketing sophistication and expertise has not yet reached that stage. However, that does illustrate the sort of initiative that has to be excercised in the marketing of fruit. Indeed, the pear export industry is now selling about half of its fruit in the South East Asian region, and good sales to the United States of America have also been reported. The trends indicate that, in the current climate, the apple and pear industry is enjoying better times than it was over the past couple of years. Of course, that is no reason for complacency, but the markets to which I have referred do indicate that the Corporation has not been idle in seeking out and promoting new markets as an alternative to the loss of the EEC.
I wish to mention a couple of other matters relating to the activities of the Corporation in the context of marketing promotion, which I have indicated as being critical and important in almost every primary industry today. I want to refer firstly to the fact that a public relations officer has been appointed recently to co-ordinate the promotion and advertising activities of the Corporation so that the maximum cost benefit will be obtained from the moneys spent. I think that appointment is showing some results. The second matter to which I wish to refer is that of the Corporation, with the Canned Fruits Board and other similar bodies, is assisting financially a three-year project at Monash University in Melbourne to research the importance of fibre in a healthy diet. I am told by the experts that fruit and vegetables in general are essential elements in a fibre diet and, speaking in terms of fibres, apples and pears are pleasant to eat. I am pleased to say that the reports which were referred to in detail in the other place, and I will not repeat them here, indicate an increasing awareness by the public of the importance of fibre in a healthy and balanced diet and that the research project is producing some results. I am confident that the extension of the powers of the Corporation effected by this Bill will be in the best interests of the industry. That extension will enable the Corporation to continue to expand its efforts in the essential area of new markets. With the Corporation exercising those functions, I think better days lie ahead for the apple and pear export industry and for the domestic market for raw fruit.
– I apologise to Senator Wriedt and to anyone else who was inconvenienced by my absence from the Senate when the debate on this Bill was resumed. I had expected that the previous matter would take up more time than it did. I do not think there is very much left to say on the Bill. Senator Wriedt has covered the issue very comprehensively, explaining that, since the Bill is only a bridging finance measure to enable the Apple and Pear Corporation to fund a promotion program for apples and pears prior to its revenue being made available, it cannot be seen in the overall perspective of government as being a crucially important piece of legislation, although of course it is important to the Apple and Pear Corporation and to the apple and pear producers. As I understand it, the Corporation does not have sufficient reserves to finance the promotion program it envisages and therefore the Government has moved in, quite properly, to guarantee borrowings by the Corporation for that program, borrowings that ultimately will be repaid from the levy paid by producers on apples and pears when the crop is marketed.
One must agree with a good deal of Senator Tehan ‘s comments. In the last 12 months the price situation for apple and pear producers has been somewhat more favourable than in recent years. Nevertheless, I think it would be unwise to believe that all the problems of this industry are over because it has been able to secure higher prices on overseas markets in the last year. One would be very optimistic if one were to expect that higher prices, at least in real terms, will prevail in the long term. However, that particular problem of the industry is not really the subject matter of this legislation.
The only other comment I want to make is in relation to the apple crop in Western Australia. Although not as large a producing or exporting State as Tasmania, Western Australia is a quite significant producer and exporter. As I understand it, the apple crop in Western Australia has been destroyed substantially by last week ‘s violent storms and in the Donnybrook area, where production is most heavily concentrated, the crop was virtually ruined. Of course, that is tragic for the producers in the Donnybrook area who are directly affected by it, but I guess that for the Corporation and for producers elsewhere it means that, at the expense of the Donnybrook producers, their marketing problems will be somewhat easier than they otherwise would have been.
I have nothing more to say on the Bill. The Opposition supports the Government ‘s action. It is not an issue of crucial importance for the apple and pear industry. Long term levels of production and markets are covered by other legislation and other factors, but we approve of the Government’s action in making it possible for the Corporation to fund its promotion program.
-Mr Deputy President, I rise to support the Bill. I should like to refer firstly to the second reading speech of the Minister for Science (Senator Webster), which states:
The purpose of this Bill is to extend the borrowing power of the Australian Apple and Pear Corporation to enable it to borrow with provision for the Commonwealth to guarantee repayment, moneys for the purpose of promoting the sale and consumption of apples and pears and apples and pear products.
I underline the fact that the Corporation is funded by the growers. I think that the community at large tends to overlook this fact. People feel that the Corporation is being funded by the Government. The Corporation is being funded by levies paid by the growers on the export of fresh fruit and on fruit used both for processing and for sale on the fresh fruit market. These levies, which provide moneys for the Corporation, come in at the end of the year, when the fruit has been sold and the Corporation is then flush with funds. However to promote the fruit the Corporation needs this money at a different time. The purpose of the Bill is to enable the Corporation to borrow so that just prior to the peak apple season the money will be available to it for promotional activities.
As many of the speakers have said today, the fluctuations of this industry have been quite considerable. I can remember the debate in this chamber three seasons ago. It was a very emotional debate. Senator Wright put forward the view that the pulling of the apple trees was a tragedy for our island. At that time the Industries Assistance Commission report had just been produced, recommending that the apple industry be phased out altogether.
-It did no such thing. Have you ever read it?
– I am talking about the IAC report of three seasons ago.
– It did not recommend that it be phased out altogether.
-That report recommended that, over a three-year period, the Government phase out all support for the apple industry.
– Not the industry.
– If the honourable senator is the shadow Minister for Primary Industry I suggest that he reads the report again and gets the facts straight, otherwise the Opposition may not be fully aware of what is going on. I can remember that debate very clearly. I can remember Senator McLaren, during the course of my speech, asking why the Government did not follow the IAC’s recommendations and phase out government assistance for that industry. He assured us at the time that his party in government would have done so and asked why we should not do so. Now I turn to look at years subsequent to that. As every speaker in this debate has said, last season was a considerable improvement for the apple industry. This was due in a large measure to the failure of the European apple crops. It was due also to the fact that the Tasmanian exporters- honourable senators should bear in mind that Tasmania supplies two-thirds of this country’s apple exportslooked to their laurels, having received bad reports about their apples the previous season from the European market, and supplied better apples and better marketing. Mr Leckie, the Chairman of the Australian Apple and Pear Corporation said that he had been particularly impressed by evidence that the industry was gearing itself to overcome the difficulties facing it, particularly in Tasmania. This is something of which the Apple and Pear Corporation can be justly proud and of which the growers can be justly proud. In the last season we regained some of the old European, including United Kingdom, markets and at higher prices. There was jubilation in Tasmania. People were happy that the apple and pear industry had been saved. They felt that replanting should be considered.
– ‘Saved ‘ in the sense that it is not wholly buried. It existed before.
– I meant saved from the IAC’s recommendation that it be phased out. I was approached then about nurseries in the Huon area bringing forward young stock for replanting: A few moments ago Senator Walsh spoke of the fluctuations of Mother Nature. One day we can have a wonderful crop and the next day it can be struck by storm, tempest and hail. This has occurred in the Huon area. We have had unseasonal frosts and they have badly affected the apple industry. I think that Senator Wriedt ‘s suggestion that we should look into this aspect of insurance would be of great benefit and I ask the Minister for Science to look at those suggestions.
I have referred to last season ‘s apple crop. The Government brought in the freight equalisation scheme, and this was of benefit to apple growers last season. About $20m has been provided for that freight equalisation scheme. Whilst as Senator Wriedt said, these things could be simplified, the local growers were delighted that for the first time they were able to enter the local Australian market. Complaints were received from the other States that their growers were worried because the quality of our apples was so high. This provides very good competition. One of the levies that will be paid to the Corporation will be for the additional fresh fruit sold on the local market.
As I said, we have regained some old markets in Europe, including the United Kingdom, and at better prices. These efforts need promoting. Perhaps more important are the new market opportunities in the Middle East and Asia. I believe that there is great potential in these areas and that we should look to the Japanese market in particular and the Middle East market. The Corporation needs money to promote apples in those areas. I believe that, if things are handled in a satisfactory manner, those markets will be available to us. In private business up to 10 per cent of a company’s budget is spent on advertising. Advertising is the lifeblood of most industries, as it is for all agricultural products and particularly for apples and pears. If we want to sell on overseas markets we have to promote our fruit in the best possible way. Therefore I have great pleasure in supporting this legislation to enable the Australian Apple and Pear Corporation to use its money at the correct time of the year to promote the apple and pear industry.
– I do not wish to delay the Senate on this legislation. As has been said before, it is more in the nature of a machinery Bill. It enables the Australian Apple and Pear Corporation to borrow moneys for promotional purposes to meet costs at peak promotional times. In the past, at these times the Corporation has had liquidity problems because of the uneven nature of its income from the levies to which Senator Walters has been referring. This is a commonsense provision and, of course, we support it. The apple industry, so prominent in my home State, has had considerable difficulties over the years and, as Senator Wright indicated by interjection, is certainly not out of the woods yet and it is certainly not the industry that it was in the past.
I think it is worth while commenting in passing, in view of some of the remarks that are sometimes made and that have been made in this debate, that the apple industry has been in some difficulties, on and off, for a considerable time. When I first worked in an apple growing area in the Huon a little more than 10 years ago, when the large bush fires swept through that area of southern Tasmania in February 1967, it was commonly said by many of the local apple growers that that fire would be a blessing in disguise to many of the small and uneconomical apple growers in the district at the time. It would enable them, with compensation and other assistance, to leave the industry more easily.
For many years we had marketing difficulties in Tasmania. These difficulties were created by bad crops and off years, as we always have had and always will have, by the variability of markets, difficulties created increasingly by protection in other countries and by increased production in many countries. It must be admitted-it is certainly admitted by all reasonable men in the apple industry- that we had difficulties also because of the failure of the industry and the producers themselves to come together in a reasonable marketing scheme with single labelling and uniform preparation of the crop for marketing. This was needed to compete with apples from countries such as South Africa and New Zealand. It always surprised me when I was in England as far back as 1955 and 1956 that one could buy South African apples or New Zealand apples under one label. Yet at that time there was a multiplicity of labels on apples from Tasmania. This was complained about continually in the English market.
The difficulties of the industry are not new. They have been aggravated also by very real transport problems, including the failure to coordinate transport in the way that New Zealand has at times. We also have difficulties on the wharves and in getting ships off at the right time to the right places. The tree pull scheme, which was introduced in 1 97 1 or 1 972, is an example of the methods used to solve the problems of the industry over many years. I do not wish to delay the Senate for a long time. But I wish to mention that it seems to me the Australian Apple and Pear Corporation, despite the considerable criticism of it which was voiced at the time of its establishment in 1974, has done a pretty fair job in the circumstances. Certainly the outlook for pears seems to be all right, as Senator Tehan and other honourable senators from Victoria have said. A few years ago, the outlook for pears was very bad.
One hears reports from the Tasmanian Fruit Marketing Authority this year that the outlook for exports of apples to Scandinavia and at least one of the countries of the European Economic Community, despite its protective policies, is better than it has been. One hears predictions also that the English market will be better than it has been in past years. I hope that the efforts of the Corporation to extend markets, to promote apples and to encourage people to extend markets beyond the traditional markets will be successful. I am glad that by and large the producers who were so critical of the setting up of the Corporation at the time certainly seem to have accepted it as an authority and have accepted the work it has done.
My main reason for rising in the debate this afternoon was to speak on a subject about which Senator Wriedt spoke. I did not realise that he intended to mention the same subject. It could be imagined from listening to people from various regions of Tasmania that we are having a pretty good season for apples in Tasmania. That may apply in some areas. But certainly it does not apply to the area in which I live. In view of the remarks of some honourable members in the other place, it seems that one has to justify one’s ability to speak on apples. I point out that the honourable member for Wilmot, Mr Burr, and I live right in amongst the apple orchards in a very large apple producing area. The harvest in our area this year has been devastated by frost and later again by hail. The second largest producing area of export apples in the north of the State will have no marketable crop. Other producers have had their crop reduced by 15 to 20 per cent below normal. The simple fact is, as Senator Wriedt says, that the voluntary insurance scheme to cope with this situation is inadequate at the moment.
We must look at more adequate and better insurance schemes to cover this industry which is so prone to the elements. Any frost, hail, drought or excessive rain knocks apples around. As the number of apple producers has decreased so greatly in the last 10 years, and particularly in the last seven years, the basic crop does not have much reserve these days. We have a situation this year in which the producers in some areas may not be able to reach anywhere near the export quotas they were expected to reach to make up Tasmania’s export crop. They need to have available to them a compensation insurance scheme which adequately compensates them in times of trouble so that they can keep going and which adequately covers them for their labour in the same way that people in other industries are covered by similar schemes in the case of accidents they cannot avoid.
I would add to the plea of Senator Wriedt and Senator Walters a request to the Government to look at the proposals that have been put forward by apple and pear producers, particularly in Tasmania, so that they can have some protection in unforeseen circumstances like the ones I have mentioned. I hope that the Corporation with its new extended activities- I believe that it is shortly to extend further its activities in promotion and marketing- will bring continued progress in the establishment of an orderly marketing scheme for apples. I hope that we will see a stabilisation of the industry in the future. Along with all other honourable senators present, particularly those from Tasmania, I would like to see an extension of the industry. But from the predictions we have, it seems that no more than a limited expansion will be helpful.
Finally I urge the Minister for Science (Senator Webster), as the Opposition did on the last occasion such a Bill was before the Senate and as I believe Senator Walters implied on this occasion, to resist the efforts of his colleagues in the National Country Party to somehow undo the good that the freight equalisation scheme has done for the export and marketing of Tasmanian apples on the mainland. I notice that again in the debate in the other House some disquiet was expressed by honourable members of the National Country Party. They claimed that the scheme gave an advantage to Tasmanian apples being marketed on the mainland. It is up to all of us to keep reminding the Minister that the industry is worth preserving and looking after. I do not mind being parochial like the honourable member for Franklin (Mr Goodluck) and Senator Walters and saying that we really believe the people on the mainland should have the benefits of our product. ( Quorum formed).
-The Senate is dealing now- it has the minimum number for a quorum and in two minutes that quorum will fade; and, according to practice, you, Madam Deputy President, will preside over an inadequate Senate- with the apple and pear industry. Every aspect of this Bill illustrates the complete shortsightedness and incapacity of government to intervene in an industry. We have heard it said in this debate that the industry has been reduced to about 40 per cent of its previous capacity. The Labor Government established the Australian Apple and Pear Corporation in 1 975 which was supposed to be an improvement upon the previous predominantly grower organisation that presided over the industry. My first point is that the Senate is so vigilant in its consideration of this Bill that the latest report presented to Parliament by this Corporation is a report for the year ended June 1976. Nearly 20 months ago the Corporation designed to report to senators who are avid with interest to know how their interference with the industry is advantaging it or disadvantaging it. I say to the Minister for Science (Senator Webster) that it is a disgrace to him and to the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Sinclair) whom he represents that he should bring in a Bill for consideration by the Senate and, at least, did not require the established instrumentality to report to us on its operations to the end of the last financial year. Although there has been a decision to change the year to end at the end of December instead of at the end of June, as from 31 December 1977, we should have had a report here by February. The Senate is not worth its salt, much less 10 per cent of its salary, if it goes on to debate with that snub and insult offered to it.
The second point is in relation to the gentry on the waterfront who are today promoting, in aid of meat workers who want to control the export policy of commerce and governments in the livestock industry, a national strike with the aid of a monopoly guaranteed by the legislation of this Parliament. We in Tasmania, with the responsibility of two-thirds of the export from the whole of Australia, and therefore taking all the burdens of the export market 12,000 miles away, in the main, are greeted with this statement in the 1976 report of the Corporation:
Hobart, for example, is regarded as the most costly fruit loading port in the world, with loading rates less than half those achieved in compering southern hemisphere countries such as South Africa.
That is to say, the Waterside Workers Federation of Australia, exercising all the untoward damage that accrues from an ordinary monopoly and the special damage that accrues from an industrial monopoly, has made Hobart, the main exporting fruit port for European markets, the centre of the Federation’s activities. It has increased the cost of loading so that Hobart earns the reputation of being the most costly fruit loading port in the world. What governments! I am referring to the Tasmanian and Canberran governments. The situation is a complete reproach to all politicians who claim to represent this industry directly or indirectly. I have striven for 25 years, to the absolute detriment of the Waterside Workers Federation which, in the ports of this country, is damaging our country, with a particular eye to my special concern, Hobart, which is the chief fruit loading port of Tasmania and of Australia. Yet we cannot get a quorum in this chamber for a debate on the apple industry or on the stevedoring industry. Senators attend, but half of those who attend do not listen. So, the unions will take over from the Parliament unless a little more vigilance is exercised. That statement has special reference with regard to fruit.
The next point is that we have gradually awakened to the fact that we will lose out on our trade to Europe. There is a rummaging about, and after a Prime Minister visits Europe a Special
Minister is appointed. We established a profitable trade to Europe 70 years ago when we had to deliver apples, a perishable commodity, in half-refrigerated space. We established a profitable and growing industry. The blighters that came into government started a tree pull scheme, and that was to readjust the production of the industry to the market’s capacity to absorb. In the same way as we have the benighted, befogged, fogged, groping predictions in the softwoods industry at the present time, five or seven years ago we had the predictions of these gropers, in fog, as to the apple production that Europe could absorb. We had an Industries Assistance Commission report two years ago that spoke in most melancholy and dismal terms about the doubtful future of the apple export trade to Britain and Europe. The Labor-created Corporation, in its 1976 report, said that it agreed with the IAC on the doubtful future of the apple export trade to Europe and Britain.
Against my advocacy the narrow-minded Minister and the Government insisted that the guaranteed level in the 1977 season should be $2 whereas every reasonable insight into the figures pertaining to the industry required a level of at least $3 a case. It was to the credit of the Minister that he was not game to bring it down to the melancholy, mildewed level of the IAC which recommended $1 or $1.50, I forget which. All these soothsayers should consider themselves entitled to persuade the whole of Parliament and entitled to guide this industry. In 1976 the payout on the stabilisation scheme was $3.9m but nothing was paid in to offset that amount. In the year following these dismal predictions by the Corporation and by the Industries Assistance Commission, that is in 1976, apple prices in Europe and Britain soared due mainly to a frost in Europe. But with that depressed capacity in Europe and unencouraged by a proper marketing level, our exports were minimal. The Government reduced the pay-out under the guarantee scheme from $3. 9m to $554,000. Many growers of special varieties, whose quality was accepted by the trade without question, did not even come within the description laid down by most government controlled marketing organisations. In relation to the quality of apples the Corporation stated:
Those apples were exported under the aegis of a government corporation. Senator Wriedt in his speech was good enough to say that, in the interests of the whole industry, if the important growers could get a profitable market in London they should avoid sending their fruit to Sydney. They were the people who sent fruit of good quality to Europe in 1977 and boosted the market to practically record prices. If we had had an additional quantity of fruit we would have had Sim, $2m or $3m extra trade with the European Economic Community. People who know nothing of trade are using political argument to try to bash it. The European Economic Community of 220 million people, with all the resources of centuries of invention and what not, is to be appealed to.
What we should do is produce a product and get it there on commercial terms. The Europeans are just as eager to buy a good product on favourable terms as Senator Wriedt would be. If he had something to sell he would be asking for the best market and the best prices. The growers who employ the most labourers in the industry in Tasmania produce the best fruit in the greatest quantity, and they will not willingly be regimented into a blindfold, one-eyed government scheme which is being manipulated through ransom politics by that petty Tasmanian Labor Party Government which is rigging the whole constitution of the fruit marketing authority in the interests of petty little Ministers of agriculture who have no idea whether the pips of the apple grow on the stalk or in the core. We now come to the Bill which asks us to give this Corporation power to expend for promotion.
– To borrow.
– Yes. Because the Corporation has no money of its own it can only spend borrowed money. It says it has a seasonal input but that comes from the growers. In addition, there is the impost of the Waterside Workers Federation of Australia which now demands from the industry more than 50 per cent of the value of the product in order to get the damned stuff loaded. So the Bill asks us to give the Corporation authority to borrow moneys for the purpose of exercising its power to engage in trade. We are blithely told that the Corporation has not engaged in trade nor has it that power. But the Liberal-Country Party Government comes to office and, to encourage the Corporation, it gives it power to borrow, to engage in trade and then to perform its function of promoting. I ask the Minister for Science to search the second reading speech where he will and to show me where any mention is made about this borrowing being to enable the Corporation to engage in trade. I will stand corrected if that is in print. I have had only a short time in which to look into this matter but the purport of the second reading speech, the whole draft of it, has been to give power to borrow for the purpose of promoting the industry. Inasmuch as the Corporation had not engaged in trade and inasmuch as those who did engage in trade needed this assistance for promotion, the purpose was to give power to borrow. But if we look at the Bill we find that clause 4 states:
exercising its power to engage in trade;
Having made that comment upon a unique aspect of what I understand to be the ideas of Liberal-National Country Party policy, I point out that fortunately I am about to quit and go to an arena where I will be more free to bring things into line. But we have a situation where we are asked to give the Corporation authority to borrow moneys for the purpose of engaging in trade and promoting the industry.
– What is wrong with that?
-This industry was built into an expanding, unique and probably the most ingenious industry emanating from Australia. Through the centuries when refrigeration was inadequate and because of the survival risks of a perishable product the industry was built upon the basis that those who marketed the product would finance it, recoup that finance and pay the proceeds to the grower. It is of the very essence of any commercial operation that the merchant who is purposely in the game assists with the finance which he is able to command or owns and he both assists his customer and gets security for his trade. This proposal is but an aping of that ideal on the part of this mildewed government Corporation. It is aping private enterprise methods. So be it. A government corporation does not have the complexity or the capacity, except in commodities that have a world predominance of markets such as wheat and wool, to enter into a trade like this with any degree of efficiency.
The great complaint is against the ordinary commercial merchant who financed the trade, made advances for it and therefore secured the trade, recouped his advances out of the proceeds of the apples which he sold, and charged a commission. Of course in Great Britain and in every State of Australia legislation makes it an offence for any agricultural marketing agent to publish an account or deduct more than is accurately shown in the account. This is in contradistinction to merchants who operate in other fields and in other primary products. But last year, a grandly successful year, despite the depressed production that the governments had enforced upon growers, when record prices were achieved and the payout was minimal, the State Marketing Authority in Tasmania paid a higher rate of commission than ever occurred in all history. Because of the collapse of the market due to depressed conditions there were no guaranteed advances available and the Marketing Authority therefore entered into a joint venture situation with the agents who sold in Europe. Those agents which in previous years advanced the money to get the fruit to overseas markets under a guarantee for a certain price and recouped their costs out of the proceeds, simply said to this Corporation: ‘No business. We are not interested’. So the State Marketing Authority entered into an arrangement with the significant buyers in London to the effect that half the excess above a certain amount was theirs and half came back to the grower. The agents were paid, according to my information, well over $lm. But if the ordinary commission had been paid, that money would have come back to the growers.
So much for proper consideration of the legislation now before the Senate. This is why I drew attention to the state of the House: There were seven members in the House; now there are about eleven. If that is the way that this national Parliament conducts its business in the interests of this industry, then God forbid !
-in reply- Senator Wright finished his speech on an appropriate note. I think it was unfair of him to criticise honourable senators for not being in the chamber. The honourable senator would well know from all the years he has been a member of this place that a great deal of the work done and required to be done by senators cannot be done in the House, such as committee work, and they do it in their own offices where they are listening very attentively to the broadcast. I have no doubt that other honourable senators have been listening very closely to Senator Wright and that probably he would have a listening audience far greater than the audience he had in the chamber. However, Senator Wright’s comments have been most interesting. I thought every senator was hanging on Senator Wright’s words when he got to the point of describing how he would be free to bring things into line when he retires from this place. That is a retirement to which I do not look forward. I wish that he would remain with us. We all have a great vision of him, probably early in the morning, and much earlier than he attends here, giving some address in the Central Castra to some of his white faced colleagues down there in Tasmania. I am sure that they will benefit equally as well as honourable senators have benefitted from his words in this place.
I acknowledge the contribution by honourable senators to this debate. The Australian Apple and Pear Corporation Amendment Bill 1978 seeks, as it indicated in the second reading speech, to extend the authority of the Corporation to borrow money -
– Yes, yes.
– And to use its promotional functions which it already has the authority to carry out under section 6 of the principal Act. As Senator Wright says ‘Yes, yes’, I take it that he realises that is the main thrust of the Bill. The Bill does not authorise the borrowing of money for other purposes. The Bill does not authorise the Corporation to engage in trade but authorises the Corporation to borrow for the purpose of promoting trade. Whilst the Corporation already has the power to engage in trade it has not to this date used used that power. My understanding is that there is a desire to borrow funds not only to promote the products which may be traded under the control of the Corporation but also products which are traded by others, and I think that is a particularly important activity which will be pursued, one would hope, from this point in time. Senator Wriedt made a number of important comments on the Bill. It is interesting that Senator Tehan was the only senator from a State other than Tasmania who contributed to this debate. I think that indicates the importance of this industry to the people who reside in Tasmania. Honourable senators from that State have carried out their proper function by indicating their interest in this Bill.
Comment was made about the annual report and the lateness of its presentation. I think it should be mentioned that originally the Australian Apple and Pear Corporation produced a report on a financial year from 30 June to 30 June. Recently that practice changed, and it is now producing a report on a calendar year basis. Perhaps the criticism would not be so harsh if people realised that the report in respect of the 1977 calendar year, just three months past, can be expected to be presented in this place later this month. I am sure that that point will satisfy Senator Wright who raised this matter.
– The old fashioned technique of getting the Bill through before you inform the Parliament of the facts.
– I note your comment, senator, but I would imagine that if the report had been presented before the Bill you would be asking why the Bill was being delayed and also if the Bill had been introduced before the report was presented you would be asking why the report was being delayed.
Senator Walsh mentioned the matter of crop insurance- My understanding is that if damage to crops by frost, hail or whatever is very extensive it is covered under the rural disaster arrangements between the Commonwealth and the States. But if the damage is not so extensive as to require assistance under those provisions, the matter can be handled by the States which are affected. Incidentally, it is appropriate that growers should ensure they have insurance cover themselves. Mention was made of crop damage in Victoria and the storm damage that occurred in Western Australia about a week ago. It is up to the States firstly to decide on the level of damage that has been done and then to approach the Commonwealth if they feel that the damage is of such magnitude that it is beyond their financial capabilities. Mention was made also by several speakers about the Tasmanian Apple and Pear Marketing Authority. The Tasmanian Government has seen fit to establish the Authority. Basically it is now up to that Authority and to the State Government to ensure that the Authority carries out its responsibilities with a full cooperation of the Tasmanian industry. It appears at the present time that the Authority is having some difficulty in Tasmania relating to the acceptance of it by some growers in some areas of the State. I acknowledge that the matter has been mentioned here but it is a matter for the State Government to review.
Stabilisation was discussed. The Senate will acknowledge that the last five-year stabilisation scheme has been extended to include the 1978 export season and the Government has indicated its intention to extend further the scheme in 1979. Obviously it is a matter now for the Government to consider the prospects of a future scheme if there is to be one. In the normal course of Cabinet discussions on this matter the views of the Department of Primary Industry will be sought. Members and senators will make known in this Parliament their views and the views of their constituents relating to another scheme, should it be required. That will be something to which the Senate should give its attention in future months.
Senator Wright mentioned the tree pull scheme. I well remember his addresses to the Senate on previous occasions when he has been violently opposed to the tree pull scheme that had effect in Tasmania and also in my State of Victoria. The tree pull scheme was funded by the
Commonwealth Government and it must be remembered that it was a purely voluntary scheme. I imagine that no grower entered into it before he had considered what were the benefits or future consequences of accepting the offer that had been made. The funds were merely handled by the State, and the decisions of growers to remove trees under the aegis of the scheme were taken entirely in the light of commercial considerations which applied at the time. The conditions applying in the industry today may have been vastly different if such a scheme, which of course was not proposed by any one person but was a matter for consideration amongst States and industry, had not been introduced. The scheme, while it was free, has had the effect of decreasing the area under trees in Tasmania from some 1 8,000 acres- I should not say ‘acres ‘ but I should divide it by two and and a half to convert it to hectares- in the late 1960s to approximately 6,500 acres at present. Of course the situation relating to the industry if that volume of production still applied can only be contemplated.
I reiterate, as was noted in the second reading speech, that the purpose of the Bill is to extend borrowing powers of the Corporation and enable it to borrow with provision for the Commonwealth to guarantee repayment of moneys for the purpose of promoting the sale and consumption of apples and pears and apple and pear products. I realise that both sides of the Senate are supporting this Bill. I commend it and thank honourable senators for their contributions.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
– During the course of my comments in the second reading debate, I directed four specific questions to the Minister for Science (Senator Webster) who represents the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Sinclair) in this place. I would ask him to request either his officers or his colleague the Minister for Primary Industry to consider them. In particular I mention his reference to a compulsory insurance scheme. I was not the only senator who mentioned that matter. The answer that we received in reply amounted to the fact that it is up to the National Disaster Fund to make provision for claims which may arise from damage to crops by hail, frost or flood. I do not think that is an acceptable answer.
I am not sure of the provisions of the National Disaster Fund and I am not sure that they have even been laid down as yet. The purpose of my reference to an insurance scheme was that there be a joint contributory scheme involving the industry, the States and the Commonwealth. Under a normal program under which the State applies to the Commonwealth for assistance in the event of some natural disaster, the Commonwealth imposes a certain base figure on every State before it will commit itself to any assistance. I cannot remember the individual figures for the States; nevertheless they are significant amounts. For example, a loss to this industry of, say, $ 100,000 or $200,000 would not even reach the base figure required by the Commonwealth to be exceeded before it will pay any compensation. That position has obtained over the years and it is the reason why the protection to the industry is inadequate. I ask the Minister whether he would give consideration to this matter or, if it is not his direct responsibility, would he refer it to the Minister for Primary Industry. Will he at least indicate to the Senate that he will refer the matter to his colleague?
The second point I raise again concerns the reason that the fruit exported from Tasmania is not sent in containers to the European markets. Has this decision been taken by the conference lines and not by the Government? If it has been taken by the conference lines, I think the Parliament is entitled to an explanation as to why the conference lines made this decision. I have learned since speaking earlier that the cost of sending a container from Tasmania to Europe is $2,877 which is over $700 more than would apply if it was shipped from the mainland States.
The third matter I mention concerns the amendment to the Act to which I referred earlier, whereby under the freight equalisation scheme the Tasmanian apple authority is not able to make a blanket claim on behalf of the industry; but each grower must do so. I ask the Minister to comment on that. If he is not able to do so, will he assure the Senate that he will obtain comments from his colleague, the Minister responsible?
– At the outset Senator Wriedt indicated that he wished to raise four points. I regret that I did not take note of those four points but I will look at Hansard to see whether I have missed some point. I take on board Senator Wriedt ‘s point regarding insurance. He wished me to give an undertaking that I would refer the matter to the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Sinclair). He suggested that a joint contributory scheme might be introduced. I believe that the comment I made in reply was not inappropriate. I said that it has been established over some years that where there is a disaster within a State the State is expected to assess the problem. Surely that is a State task. The State is responsible to a certain limit to assist within its own finances and it has the responsibility for assessing and assisting those people who are affected by the disaster. The State can immediately apply to be assisted by the Commonwealth should the problem be beyond its own resources. That policy appears not always to be followed. For instance, immediately the cyclone passed over Western Australia a week or so ago, the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) give an assurance that the Commonwealth would assist in any way possible.
That may mean financial assistance or it may mean advice. I would imagine, as has applied over the last years, that the situation I have described would apply. I do not know whether Senator Wriedt ‘s suggestion is that there should be some scheme whereby the responsibility of an individual or a person in the community, who may be a grower or a fishmonger whose fish shop happens to burn down- which is a national disaster for him- to insure or at least to look after himself should be eliminated by some contributory scheme whereby the State and Federal governments take some responsibility for the problem. I will refer that proposition to the Minister for Primary Industry. I would think that it is still possible and still the business responsibility of every producer, whether he crops wheat, apples or cattle, to insure himself if it is his business judgment that that should be done. I will refer the matter to the Minister.
Senator Wriedt mentioned shipping. I feel that I should perhaps take this point on board and obtain a written answer for him. The 1975-76 report of the Apple and Pear Corporation, dealing with the basic rates for containers, states at page 7:
The ‘module’ for each container is 5 18 cartons of apples and 672 cartons of pears.
The containers are refrigerated.
– There is no container port available to Tasmania. The only three are Perth, Melbourne and Sydney.
– And Adelaide.
– Adelaide sends through Melbourne.
-They have just built a new container port at Outer Harbour.
– I take it, Senator Cavanagh, that you are saying that it was developed by a State instrumentality.
– I will take the point on board. I am not certain whether Senator Wriedt is saying that the State should be prompted, whether the State Government over a period has perhaps not been responsive to the demands that there should be a container port, whether the State needs financial support for a container port -
– Container ships would not come to trade in Tasmania. It is too small.
-. . . or whether there is the particular problem that Senator Wright just mentioned.
– I have asked the question twice. I thought I made it explicit the second time in case the Minister did not understand the question.
-If Senator Wriedt cares to repeat the question I will certainly see that a written reply is prepared. I invite him to state his query and I will refer it to the Minister.
– Obviously we will not finish this discussion before the sitting is suspended. Briefly, the point as I understand it is that export of fruit from Tasmania to the North American market is in containers. As I understand the position the conference lines have determined that they will absorb the additional cost by some means or other into the freight so that the Tasmanian exporter is not required to pay the additional freight. That does not apply in the European trade. If a grower wants to ship fruit in containers, which is the preferable method, he has to pay an additional $750 a container. Otherwise the fruit must go in conventional ships. That, according to all industry reports, puts it at a competitive disadvantage. The question I ask specifically is whether this is a decision of the international conference shipping operators? If it is, we should be told why.
– I imagine that the matter applied particularly while Senator Wriedt was a Minister in the former government. I should have thought that the answer to a question like that would have been researched thoroughly by him. If that is not the case, I will refer it to the present Minister for Primary Industry.
– I was not asking a smart question and I did not expect a smart answer. During Senator Wright’s contribution, irrespective of the fact that I disagreed with him, I think he quite rightly cut across governments of whatever colour. He was expressing his views about the way the industry has been treated by all governments. I am trying to take the same approach. I do not agree with what Senator Wright said, but I object to the Minister standing up on some petty, point-scoring exercise when a question has been asked which is of concern to the industry in that State. I think it would be as well if the people who operate on the fruit industry in Tasmania are aware of the flippant, off-hand way in which the Minister answers questions.
Sitting suspended from 6 to 8 p.m.
– Prior to the suspension of the sitting, Senator Wriedt put the proposition that whilst one rate applied to the use of containers for shipment to northern American ports another rate applies to the use of containers on the UKEurope trade and there is an imbalance of some $700 in those charges, which is a disadvantage to operators shipping out of Hobart in getting their goods to the point where there are refrigerated containers. Senator Wriedt suggested that it would be appropriate for this Government to take some interest in that matter to see whether those costs could be evened out over the whole Australian scene. It is a very appropriate question. I certainly shall see that the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Sinclair) looks at it. I offer to bring back to Senator Wriedt as soon as possible a letter which sets out what the Government may be prepared to do in this respect.
– I am quite happy with that. I think I indicated before the suspension of the sitting that I did not expect a Minister who was representing another Minister to have an answer for all the questions which were raised during the Committee stage. I am concerned only that the Government should ascertain why this is happening and, if need be, ask the conference shipping lines why they can do one thing in one trade and not in another.
Bill agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill (on motion by Senator Webster) read a third time.
Debate resumed from 5 April, on motion by Senator Carrick:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– The Senate has before it the Maritime College Bill 1978, which I suppose it could be said creates history in the Federal Parliament. Although we dealt with a Bill of a similar name last year, in fact it was only an interim measure- a BUI which I think set up the interim council for the establishment of a maritime college in Australia. This Bill is the substantive Bill which sets out the manner in which the council will be constituted and its general structure.
It has been known in marine circles for many years that the training in Australia of seafarers has been most inadequate. The practice has been for persons who wish to qualify for a seagoing career to train actually at sea, in the case of deck officers, or, alternatively, in the case of engineers, to serve their normal time as fitters and then to sit for a preliminary certificate which, of course, is followed by higher grade certificates. There have been no training facilities for personnel who might normally be called unskilled, that is, those people generally called ‘ratings’. Also, a very high proportion of the people who have been recruited to serve on Australian merchant ships over the years have come from overseas, mainly from the United Kingdom.
The purpose of this Bill is to establish a college which will bring together those training facilities somewhere near Launceston in Tasmania. The Labor Government supported the establishment of the College, as does the present Government. It is a significant step forward- one grossly overdue. At least we are now taking the first concrete steps towards the creation of this College. The intention to create the College is based on a report by the Commission of Inquiry into the Maritime Industry which was appointed by the previous Government under the chairmanship of Mr Malcolm Summers, who I think at one time was Secretary of the Department of Transport. Although that report does not constitute a part of the legislation, it is important. Obviously the Government has considered the findings of that inquiry in its deliberations and in drafting the legislation. Therefore, I think it is pertinent that we should direct our minds to some of the points which are raised in that report.
The Bill does not indicate the manner in which the College will operate. Presumably, when the council which will run the College is formed it will need to determine certain aspects of the curriculum for training. As I have indicated, the College will be dealing with the various types of persons who are required to serve on Australian merchant ships. I hope it will mean that there will be a recognition of the outdatedness of much of what has been accepted as training, if it could be called that, over the years. I speak with some considerable personal experience, but I do not wish to bore the Senate with that, other than to say that it is good to know that the training will take place in a proper academic atmosphere where people who wish to train in this type of work and to become qualified do not find themselves on the top of a swaying mast the first night at sea, with all the fears of wondering how they will survive until the next day.
The first aspect of the Summers report of May 1974 which concerns me is the following emphasis which appears in paragraph 68 of the conclusions:
The Department’s main concern and the purpose of the examinations is to ensure that ships operate more safely.
The whole paragraph is almost a criticism of the current methods of training because it implies that too much emphasis is placed upon safety. I find that an astonishing conclusion because all vehicles, even the motor cars in which we drive to and from work, let alone ships and aeroplanes, are potentially dangerous. The first duty of any person who has responsibility for a vessel must be to ensure safety, not just of property but primarily of human life. I hope that paragraph is not indicative of a move away from the emphasis on safety. One has to be involved or experienced in the sort of area with which we are dealing to realise the importance of it. I find that there is a new line of thinking, if I could call it that, which does not impress me one little bit. I hope that in time, as the Council reaches its conclusions on the curriculum to be adopted, the safety aspect remains the No. 1 consideration.
On page 12 of the report there is a paragraph dealing with the nature of training and education. Assuming that the Council intends to follow the recommendations of the Summers report, apparently it is intended that there will be three classes of certificates for deck officers. The report also recommends that the first year of the proposed three-year course should be spent at sea and the remaining period at the College, with some periods of sea-faring interspersed. Again, I think that is putting the can before the horse, and I believe that it would be difficult to substantiate that argument in regard to a training program of this nature. I should have thought that a familiarisation course ashore would be more important during the initial period than having people going to sea in the normal sense without any previous knowledge, even theoretical knowledge.
- Senator, you might be interested to know that, as I understand it, the thinking of those designing the courses is similar to that which you are expressing.
-I am glad to hear that. I hope that it applies particularly in respect of the matter of safety.
– That is also my understanding.
– One can only assume that the Summers report will form the basis of the new curriculum because of the fact that most of the people who were called upon to offer comment are experienced and knowledgeable in this area. If it is intended to introduce a classification system for certificates, I personally think that that will be demonstrated not be successful. Essentially what appears to be suggested is that the higher qualification, the class A certificate, will apply to vessels in excess of 3,000 tons, the class B certificate to vessels over 3,000 tons, and the class C certificate to vessels up to 200 tons. That is somewhat akin to the system that has operated over the years. It is difficult to talk about these things without going into some technical detail, but as we are debating it here I think some of these things ought to be said. One of the myths about qualifications relates to the size of the vessel on which a person is serving, and in fact the report draws attention to this on page 14, where it concedes that this type of grading system introduces a problem. It goes on to instance the Australian Government navigation aid vessels, which are vessels under 3,000 tons and which would operate under a Class B certificate. That is a good illustration, but there are better ones of comparatively small ships involved in trades where a much wider knowledge and expertise is required for a person to be competent on that type of vessel. By comparison, on large vessels engaged in the bulk trade in iron ore and coal, for instance, virtually no knowledge is required of cargo stowage and all the factors that go with it. The proposed system would perpetuate that idea, and as the Minister presumably will have some say in what is done by the Council I put it to the Government that that matter ought to be considered seriously by the Department of Transport officers.
The report also shows quite conclusively that the overwhelming majority of certificates obtained in recent years have been what are termed foreign-going certificates. According to figures that I have worked out, the number of coastal certificates issued from 1963 to 1973 constituted only 5 per cent of the total certificates issued for deck officers. The other 95 per cent were all foreign-going certificates. Because deck officers qualify in a foreign-going capacity they are able to serve in any of the ships that come under the three classifications, and I find it difficult to understand why the report would make that recommendation. I hope that the matter will be looked at again before the curriculum is set.
I think a large degree of hope is involved in the whole project. Paragraph 8 1 refers to the training of engineers and to the fact that a great deal of engine room equipment and examples of modern-style equipment should be provided. As we should all know, marine engine equipment is enormously expensve, and if it is intended that a range of equipment in the form of simulators and so on is to be provided then a very large capital investment program will be required. We are not dealing here with the numbers that are to be found in training colleges in the United Kingdom and Europe, for example, which are long established and have thousands of persons passing through. I doubt whether there is justification for the investment of that amount of money in a college of this size. On the matter of qualifications, it is very important to realise that if a person is able to pass the examination and is given the highest qualification, he is able to serve in vessels of any size in almost any trade, no matter where those vessels go.
I also take the opportunity to draw to the attention of the Parliament another aspect which is touched upon in the report but which is really only peripheral to what we are discussing. I refer to the traditional practice that has obtained in this country over the years of allowing naval officers with the appropriate service and training to qualify for senior positions on merchant ships without having to take the certificate of competency examinations. Quite a number of those certificates were issued in the 10 years to 1973, and that is a practice that I believe the Department of Transport ought to look at quite seriously. It is a bad practice. The type of work involved on naval and merchant ships is quite different, and I believe that practice ought to be dispensed with. No person ought to be given a position of responsibility on any merchant ship if he is not properly qualified and if he has not been examined to establish that he is competent.
Let me make two suggestions concerning matters to which I could not find a reference in the Summers report. If it is intended that the experience and knowledge of persons working on merchant ships- say, deck officers- be extended to include a wider view of the industry and perhaps the economics of the industry, that is good. But it ought to be done during the training period by actually seconding cadets into a shipping office for two or three months. The practical experience gained there would give them the chance to become conversant with the workings of the shipping industry as distinct from the actual ships themselves. If that could be done it would improve the present system considerably.
I suggest also that cadets ought to have a short period of familiarisation on naval vessels. Any serving merchant officer can of course spend 12 months in the Royal Australian Navy- I presume that that situation still applies- and he then becomes a member of the Royal Naval Reserve. Undoubtedly that experience is valuable although many officers do not bother to take advantage of it. If the basic interest could be instilled in cadets during their training period by a short period of service in the Navy, that also would be to the advantage of the industry. They are the only comments I wish to make on the detailed matters of training. I would like to have done more research on some other matters but unfortunately I have not been able to go right through the report. Probably the only other really significant point I would make is that what the report refers to as ‘ratings’- I might add that that term is not used in the merchant navy- or seamen should receive a proper training course. The practice followed over the years of people learning simply by going to sea has not been good enough to turn out the quality that is desirable. In that respect also the College will make a big improvement to the maritime industry.
If Senator Rae is to follow me in this debate he should listen to me because I intend to make the observation that I am glad the College is being situated in Tasmania, but that it is being situated in the wrong part of Tasmania. Governments of both political persuasions erred in their choice. Anyone with a knowledge of the maritime history of Tasmania would realise that Hobart is an infinitely more suitable place for the positioning of this College. The report stressed at the beginning the need to have the College near the sea and near a large city. Launceston is a very nice place but I do not think that it provides the facilities that were envisaged when the report was drawn up. It is probably too late for any change to be made but I believe it is unfortunate that that decision was made in the first place. There seems to be some dispute as to whether it was the Liberal Party or the Australian Labor Party that made that decision. I do not really care. It is unfortunate that that position was chosen. Nevertheless I have no doubt that the people who will serve at this College will receive the utmost hospitality from the people who live in Launceston and I am sure that, as a result of the establishment of the College, the Australian Maritime industry will prove to be a better industry for it.
– I am delighted to have the opportunity to speak to this Bill. So far as I am concerned, it is an extremely important Bill and it is a great day that it comes before this chamber for discussion and consideration. In due course I shall be replying to the comment to which Senator Wriedt invited me to reply. My comments will not be based on parochialism but on fact.
– As always.
– I am glad to hear that I have Senator O ‘Byrne’s support. I think it would help if, in referring to this Bill to provide for a permanent Australian Maritime College, I were to put on record some of the history of the matter. It seems that there is some confusion. Way back in 1972 the then Minister for Transport, who is now again the Minister for Transport, Mr Peter Nixon, gave consideration, arising out of concern which was being expressed in the maritime industry, to the necessity for the creation of some upgraded form of training for people involved in the maritime industry. In fact he spoke of this when he was opening a conference towards the end of 1972. After the present Government parties lost office at the end of 1972 the matter proceeded through the continuation of the Summers inquiry, to which reference has been made by Senator Wriedt. It also continued within the Liberal and National Country parties. In April 1974 they published a policy document entitled ‘The Way Ahead’, containing the total policies of the Liberal and National Country parties. One of the policies to which reference was made at that time was that the Liberal and Country parties in government would confer with shipowners and unions on improvement of careers at sea and the need for a merchant maritime college open to all ranks and providing technical education and qualification courses. So that was a firm policy commitment made in April 1974.
Shortly after that, the Summers report was published. It recommended the creation of a college, which was already part of Liberal and Country Party policy. On 18 March 1975 it was my pleasure and privilege to be able to announce on behalf of the then joint Opposition partiestrie Liberal and National Country parties- and on behalf of the then Leader of those parties, Mr Snedden, now Sir Billy Snedden, that it was the firm policy of the Liberal and Country parties that in government they would site the maritime college in Tasmania adjacent to the northern division college of advanced education; in other words, at Launceston. That is the site which is now envisaged and which is going ahead. That was an announcement that I made on 18 March 1975.
The resignation of Mr Lance Barnard, the honourable member for Bass, had an effect on this matter which had been the subject of some discussion in Tasmania but which had not been the subject of a policy announcement by the then Federal Labor Government, and led to the Bass by-election in June. At that time, the then Prime Minister, Mr Whitlam, announced that his Labor Government would site the college at Launceston adjacent to the college of advanced education, as had already been envisaged by the Liberal and National Country parties. That is the brief history of the events. From June 1975 it has been bipartisan policy- the policy of both the Opposition and the Government notwithstanding any changes that have taken place in the meantime- that the Australian Maritime College be sited at Launceston.
Of course, there was some competition for the site and some misguided people put forward claims such as those put forward by Senator Wriedt. Whilst I acknowledge that Hobart is an excellent city, has a broad harbour and is near to the sea- this was part of the conditions required by Mr Summers in his report- the sorts of advantages that Launceston has are not available anywhere else in Australia. Launceston had particularly strong claims for the siting of the Australian Maritime College, including the fact that it had a College of Advanced Education with room to expand next to it. There was ample room on an excellent site for the Maritime College to be built adjacent to the existing and rapidly expanding College of Advanced Education. That was one of the other matters that Senator Wriedt forgot to mention.
One of the other important points made by Mr Summers was that any Australian maritime college would need to be built adjacent to and in conjunction with a college of advanced education. At no time has it been envisaged that many of the courses would not be run using joint facilities and that students would not attend jointly the facilities of a college of advanced education. Engineering is one example I cite. Another qualification was that the College should be located near adequately sheltered water with ready access to the sea. As someone who has sailed frequently both on the Derwent River and on the Tamar River, I am happy to say that the sheltered water required is far more readily available at Bell Bay than at any other proposed site. Those who might think otherwise obviously have never had a look at the Bell BayBeauty Point area. The College needs to be in a reasonably central position and that is the position in respect to Launceston.
Another point to which I make reference is that the site has some historical significance. It is the birth place of Australian coastal shipping. It was from the Tamar that the genesis of Australia’s coastal shipping came. As those honourable senators who have interested themselves in the history of Australia will know, the early ships sailing around the Australian coast were basically ships on their way to or from the United Kingdom. Ships called at Hobart, which was the second settlement of Australia, the first being at Sydney. Before the discovery of Bass Strait, ships not infrequently called at Hobart on their way to Sydney. Often ships came direct to Hobart and returned to England. Coastal shipping as such arose many years after the discovery of Bass Strait when the settlement of Victoria commenced. Trade started to develop very rapidly with ships plying back and forwards from Launceston, the centre from which the foundation of Victoria took place, to all the other areas of Victoria including the Western districts of Portland and Port Fairy. It was from Launceston that whaling and sealing first commenced operations. It was easy and obvious that the sudden expansion of Victoria, the discovery of Australia Felix by Major Mitchell and the realisation of the wonderful grazing available that a rapid expansion in the settlement of Western Victoria took place. It was from the transporting of people, goods and particularly sheep that Tasmania experienced one of its first booms and one of its first busts. This took place as a result of the expansion of the settlement of Victoria. Sudden inflation took place in the price of sheep being purchased in Tasmania for transport to the huge grazing grounds in Western Victoria. The price of sheep rose to as high as £8 sterling a head which, as honourable senators can imagine, was a remarkably high price at that time. All the shipping eminated from the port of Launceston, out of the Tamar -
– And that is the reason this maritime college is down there.
– I know that Senator Harradine, being a parochial Hobartian cannot bear the thought of any development taking place anywhere except around his own nose. But I will ignore any further comments from Senator Harradine because I wish to put on record some of the aspects of the matter which those honourable senators who are interested may wish to know. The building of ships for the Australian coastal shipping service commenced at the port of Launceston. In Hobart developed the building very largely of ships for the purposes of whaling, sealing and roving the seas. In the port of Launceston and the area around it the building of ships suitable for and used for the interstate trade basically across Bass Strait commenced. The trade developed further to include Adelaide and Sydney as the years went by. It is an area with an extremely strong maritime history. I will answer Senator Harradine ‘s rather inane interjection. Of course, this is not the reason to place the College at Launceston. But it has some relevance when it is an area with a long and a strong maritime history.
I pass on to answer the question: Why have a Maritime College? For quite some years training in the maritime industry was based on a system of in-service training, notwithstanding the changes which have taken place in almost every other industry in the world. The maritime industry, along with some of the trades which still continue apprenticeship virtually only on an inservice basis had not organised itself to the stage of a formalised academic training institution to cover the whole of the necessary training for people engaged in that industry. One of the matters that has created an immense force for change has been the technology explosion as it has affected the maritime industry. This has brought forth the need and demand for an upgraded form of training in this industry.
A number of naval colleges have been established throughout the world but almost no real merchant service colleges covering the whole field of training have been established other than the one in the United States of America which is at Kings Point on Long Island. Training in Australia relied on some technical colleges and training for radio engineers was conducted by the AWA training college in Sydney. There was a clear need for upgrading and for co-ordination of the training and for the provision of a new system of certification of competency. It is interesting to note that the International Labour Organisation conference in 1970 considered the matter of vocational training for seafarers and recommended the universal upgrading of the training programs available to fit people to go to sea. Paragraph 1 6 of that report states:
The various training programs should be realistically based on the work to be performed on board ship. They should be periodically reviewed and kept up to date in order to keep abreast of technical developments.
The report went on to list a significant number of aspects of training all of which I note it is proposed to include in our Maritime College. We will be following a trend which has developed in other parts of the world and which has been referred to at the conference of the International Labour Organisation. What we are doing is not out of sequence with what the rest of the world has indicated it believes should happen. We are doing it in a way which perhaps will mean that we have a national Maritime College before any nation other than the United States of America. In Southampton in the United Kingdom there is a navigation school only, which is now moving towards a development with other sections of training. I understand that it is likely that Southampton will be moving towards a totally rounded maritime industry training system in the near future. In Bremen in Germany, federal funding is being made available to encourage the development of a major training college for the whole of the German maritime industry. At present there exists in a number of parts of Germany various smaller training colleges which do not give any sort of complete training but rather concentrate on certain aspects of training.
We are not moving in any way against the world trend but will, by pursuing this objective, I believe, achieve the generally accepted goal ahead of almost every other country. The proposal has the full support of the major parts of the industry. In particular, the Australian National Line and the Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd, which, between them, represent over 60 per cent of all Austraiian shipping, have indicated that they will use the college for all the training and retraining of their employees. The proposal has the very strong and enthusiastic support of the Port of Launceston Authority and, in particular, of its Port Manager, Chief Engineer Mr Jack
Edwards, who has been a member of the Interim Council and who is also a member of the Council of the College of Advanced Education. I understand from everybody involved that his contribution to the planning of the council has certainly been a major asset to that council in the development of the plans and the facilities for the college.
Both shipping and fishing are no longer the free wheeling, relatively independent operations that they were years ago. There have been dramatic increases in size, in power, in technology, in the carriage of dangerous cargoes, in the introduction of automation and in the overall complexity of operations at sea, both in the merchant services and in the fishing area. I suppose a good example would be if I were to say that a lookout a few years ago needed good eyesight; now he must be able to operate and to read radar. Perhaps it is demonstrated also by the fact that a few years ago he needed to know how to use a sextant. Now he has to know how to use Decca, Loran or Omega. I suppose one of the best recent examples of the dangers and the horrors of sea transport and what it can do is what happened to the Amoco Cadiz, which is the well known disaster which took place in the last few weeks off the coast of Normandy. It is a frightening reminder of what can happen to ships carrying more than 200,000 tons of oil which get into strife. All that happened to Amoco Cadiz was that its steering failed. Its steering having failed, apparently the system of salvage was not such that agreement could be reached between the master of the tug and the master of Amoco Cadiz in time to save that ship from running aground, breaking its back and spilling more than 200,000 tons of oil along hundreds of kilometres of the Normandy coastline, ruining that coastline for all the people who and all the creatures which use it.
Navigation, the operation of ships and” the question of safety in relation to ships are all areas of activity which today need specialist highly trained people. I should like to give one further example of the sort of development which is taking place. If one contemplates the use of jetfoils which already exist in pans of the world and which may well spread to Australia, one can see the sorts of things that are happening. The people who operate these ships are virtually pilots. They are virtually flying ships which can travel over long distances at more than 40 knots. The average speed of jetfoils, I understand, is about 43 or 44 knots. The jetfoils are virtually flying and are able to carry large quantities of people or goods over long distances at very high speeds. They require tremendous knowledge and skill, similar to the sort of knowledge and skill which is involved in flying an aircraft and the sort of knowledge of all the systems which technology has provided to enable such things to exist. To a country such as Australia, which can be regarded either as a big island or as being made up of two main islands with one a bit bigger than the other, perhaps considerably bigger- shipping is its commercial lifeline.
The fishing industry is on the spring board of a massive takeoff. We are looking forward to big ships coming into the Australian fishing industry which, till now, has been relatively a Cinderella industry. With the natural development which has taken place, plus the concentration provided by the extension of the 200-mile economic marine zone, we are looking forward to a very rapidly expanding industry which will grow from what it has been, substantially a cottage industry, into a very large scale big-ships, sophisticated equipment industry, where all of those involved will need a high degree of training and qualification to enable them to operate the type of equipment which will be involved. Not a moment too soon are we taking this step to put Australia to the forefront in maritime training. We should look also to the future of such industries as krill fishing. Australia fortunately is located very close to one of the major areas which are available for the fishing of krill. If one considers the figures which were given quite recently by one of the people associated with the British Antarctic research team, it appears that although the present take from the sea- this relates to all types of fish and other marine life- is about 70 million tons it has been estimated that over 1 50 million tons of krill can be taken from the Antarctic waters without endangering the future of that fishery. When one thinks of propositions such as towing icebergs- it is a totally new water source which is said to be perfectly capable of being put into effect for the drier regions not only of Australia but also of other parts of the worldand thinks of what is involved in the expansion of fisheries protection and management, one can see that there will be an increased demand for people highly qualified in the maritime industry.
In late 1975 the Labor Government introduced a Bill for the establishment of an Interim Council for the Maritime College. That lapsed without being passed when the double dissolution took place in November 1975. The new Government restored the matter and, as a matter of fact, it was as early as 23 January 1 976 that the new Minister for Education, Senator Carrick, announced that the Government had agreed to the establishment of the Maritime College at Launceston. Since it was formally announced policy of the Liberal-National Country parties before they went into formalising in government- it was one of the promises on which they went into government- this was simply the formality of their formalising in Government what was firm policy. Senator Carrick acted promptly to get that through Cabinet and get it under way. In fact, I think it would be fair to say that Senator Carrick has been assiduous in pursuing this matter and in ensuring that it received maximum priority at all times. He has pushed it forward as fast as it could go.
From 1976 we pass into the planning stage with the appointment of an Interim Council to plan the development of the College. Here I think it is appropriate to make some remarks about proper planning. It is not hard to see around Australia some examples of what can happen when we rush ahead with inadequate planning, when we rush ahead with a sense of urgency which overwhelms the sense of the importance of adequate consideration and adequate planning. Planning of the sites, planning of the facilities, planning of the courses, planning of the co-operation with the College of Advanced Education, planning of the co-ordination and the introduction of co-ordination systems with the industry were all important matters which were dealt with during this planning period, as was the ascertaining of the future needs of the industry so that they could be catered for. All this takes time, but it is time well spent. This Bill, in broad terms, creates an autonomous academic training institution for the maritime industry. It will be under the control of a council which, I understand, is expected to be appointed within about two months of the passage of this Bill. The site is declared to be at Launceston. The principal already has been appointed as is provided for in the Bill. Provision is also made in the Bill for the appointment of staff. The College is designed basically along the lines of colleges of advanced education which have been created in other parts of Australia as well as the Tasmanian College of Advanced Education. For instance, it is very similar to the Canberra College of Advanced Education in its autonomous structure.
It is important to refer to the site, even for those who know something about it. Tonight one or two honourable senators have made it perfectly obvious that they do not know anything about it. For others who are interested it is important to record something about the site. Launceston is the centre of Northern Tasmania. It is on the Tamar River which flows into Bass
Strait. It is situated in what I think most people would agree is Australia ‘s most beautiful State. Launceston is a city which is developing into one of the education centres of a decentralised Australia. It is a pleasant city in which to live. It is warmer and more temperate than Canberra, virtually safe from pollution and it enjoys more sunshine hours than many of the cities of Australia. This is one of the things which many people do not realise. On the average over the year it enjoys an hour a day more sunshine than Melbourne and Hobart. I think this is one of the important things to be borne in mind by those who will be on the staff and by those who will be students attending the College. Despite the comments of some of those people who have endeavoured to have the College sited elsewhere, these facts are important and should be known.
Launceston is the centre for a population of approximately 120,000 people. It is large enough to have full city amenities such as hospitals, theatres, professional services, tertiary education for children and all the rest. Any people who may be attracted by the thought of joining the staff of the Australian Maritime College need have no fear that they are going to a cultural or social desert. After all, Time magazine in a published survey rated Tasmania as one of the 10 best places in the world in which to live. I sometimes wonder where that magazine found the other nine places. I mention these matters because although they may be well known to honourable senators they will be of interest to people in other parts of the world who may take the opportunity to read the Hansard report of this debate in order to learn more about what will be one of the world ‘s foremost maritime colleges. People from other countries may consider applying for an appointment to the staff or they may wish to study at the College. In passing I mention that I believe it is very likely that people from a number of other countries will come to this College for the various types of courses which will be provided there.
The site is next door to and immediately to the north of the headquarters of the Tasmanian College of Advanced Education. The College is sited on the banks of the River Tamar. The site is basically level but has an outlook to river, hills and mountains. It is adjacent to a new matriculation college, a high school, as well as to Tasmania’s leading independent school, which has the longest continuous history in Australia- since 1846- the Launceston Grammar School. In the centre of the site is a beautiful old stately home, the historic Newnham Hall. The land was owned by the State Government and is being transferred to the Commonwealth for the purposes of the College. There will be an administration centre, class rooms, accommodation and the like on that site at Newnham. Downstream from Launceston on the western side of a large basin in the River Tamar is Beauty Point which I believe is appropriately named. This area is Tasmania’s major port, with everything from 50,000 ton woodchip ships to overseas container ships, coastal ships of the Australian National Line and others, bulk carriers of Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd, Comalco Ltd and others, tankers and the lot. The basin is in sheltered water and is about three miles wide. The seamanship and fisheries training section of the College will be located at Beauty Point. There will be a jetty, store, workshops, practical training centre with accommodation and lecture rooms sited further up from the waterfront. We hope to have a training ship and a fisheries vessel which will be used for fisheries training.
I mention something which I think will be of interest to all honourable senators. As is well known, the pilot ship Wyuna which has been used in Port Phillip Bay for some years, which contains accommodation for over 40 people and which is peculiarly well suited as a training ship for a maritime college, is to come on the market later this year. It has been decided that the pilot system to be used for ships going into and out of Port Phillip Bay will be changed and that the Wyuna is now surplus to needs, although it is still a good and relatively unused ship. I think the only thing which will govern the availability of the ship to the Australian Maritime College is the provision of the necessary funds, whatever they might be, to the permanent council. It will have to reach an agreement for the purchase of a ship which has virtually no use other than as a pilot station vessel or alternatively as a maritime college training vessel. One hopes that this vessel will be made available to the Australian Maritime College on some sort of reasonable basis.
The Tamar River is the centre for Flinders Island shipping. It also has a dry dock which attracts vessels from various parts of southern Australia for dry dock work. It has a fairly continuous operation and is regarded as a very efficient dry dock. Shipbuilding and boatbuilding is also undertaken on the River Tamar. One of the things which some people would perhaps like to boast about but cannot is that this area constructs without subsidy and in world competition small ships at competitive prices. This is as opposed to the shipbuilding industry in the rest of Australia which is going out of operation and which has been enjoying a huge subsidy. But it still cannot compete with the rest of the world. When we look at the way in which the smaller tug and boatbuilding establishments on the River Tamar have been operating we see what efficiency can do. We have also built some of the best yachts in Australia which have competed very successfully.
– They have done very well this year, have they not?
– Yes, they have. The facilities at Beauty Point should be completed before the end of next year, ready to commence courses in 1980. The Interim Council has decided to use as the store, workshop and practical training area the existing cool stores formerly owned by Jones and Co., which are situated adjacent to the jetty. The Council will construct a slipway adjacent to the cool stores. By using the Jones and Co. building we will save costs and more money will be readily available for the rapid development of the College. This building is being used to expedite that development, even though- I emphasise this- I think everyone will agree that in the relatively near future it will be necessary to build a permanent building to replace the old Jones and Co. building.
I turn now to the courses to be provided at the College. They may be divided into two principal types, that is training courses and re-training courses. Those courses are being designed at the moment. I think the whole of Australia is particularly fortunate to have been able to secure the services of Captain Waters as principal of the College. His appointment was made last October and he has been very fully and busily engaged. He is a highly qualified professional with substantial experience in the maritime industry, both at sea and in training colleges.
The courses will cover a wide range of activities and although the course structures have still to be developed in their final detail, it is considered that they will fall into two main categories: Basic full-time courses or programs for deck engineer and radio officer entrants to the shipping industry and for trainees for the larger and more sophisticated shipping vessels; and ‘open’ programs of short special courses of an updating or refresher nature for serving marine officers in the shipping and fishing industries, the marine and port authorities and associated industries. The Interim Council anticipates that the basic courses for officer entrants will range from three-year degree and diploma courses to two-year associate diploma and certificate of technology courses. Generally the programs will be of the ‘sandwich’ type with periods of service in the industry being integrated with full-time course work at the College. Successful completion of the program, including statutory sea service requirements where applicable, will qualify the trainee for a watchkeeping certificate in addition to an educational qualification and will carry exemption from the theoretical examinations for the higher level certificates of competency. I might just say in passing also that I understand the Navigation Act is in the course of being amended in relation to certificates of competency which are provided for under that Act so that the provisions will complement the Maritime College proposals.
The degree courses at the College will provide basic training for aspirants to senior positions in the industry. They will provide an alternative to the ‘extra’ certificates for which the number of candidates has declined drastically since the introduction of degree courses in the United Kingdom. The basic programs will be designed to meet the needs of deck, engineer and radio officers in the shipping industry and the needs of fishing personnel. The courses will therefore be vocationally oriented at each level and can be expected to: Cover the academic requirements for certificates of competency; lead to a recognised education qualification; include commercial and managerial training in subjects not covered by certificates of competency; and provide practical experience in use of modern equipment and instrumentation.
As well as those basic courses the Interim Council has indicated that it expects that the College will offer ‘open’ programs of short specialist courses in such areas as hydrographic surveying, tanker safety- in fact it has already started a tanker safety course which is going on at the moment- survival, ship handling, pollution control, fire fighting, management, fishing technology and instrumentation. The College will offer a broad range of courses in other areas in which special knowledge and training are necessary. It is desirable that these courses be designed for experienced officers. The courses will range from a few days in length to two or three months. They will involve intensive training of a highly vocational nature, and most will involve a residential requirement.
The Interim Council has indicated also that the College will develop a number of bridging courses for personnel wishing to upgrade their existing qualifications, including bridging courses for seamen wishing to become officers. In the longer term it is considered likely that postgraduate level courses will be offered together with a number of specialist courses in areas such as shipping management and port administration. In order to provide the education and training envisaged the Interim Council considers that the College will need well equipped laboratories, instruments, simulators- including shiphandling, engine-room and cargo-handling simulatorsand training vessels, lifesaving equipment and the like. If we are fortunate enought to secure the ship Wyuna for the College then a lot of those things will be able to be provided readily.
– What about fire fighters?
– Fire fighting is also included among the training courses. The tanker safety courses which are currently being undertaken include fire fighting as part of training.
– But for urban fire fighting?
– Do you mean the fire brigades?
– That is right.
– I do not know that that has been contemplated but from the attitude I have heard expressed from the members of the Interim Council, if this College through its specialisation in relation to maritime safety and particularly in relation to fire fighting training is able to provide a service in other areas for the community then I have not the slightest doubt that it would be keen to do so. I think the suggestion from Senator Harradine is one which may well be taken up by the Council and explored further.
Some people have been curious to know what will happen to existing courses. I understand that radio masters and mates courses for which certificates of competency can be obtained at technical colleges in Sydney, Melbourne and Newcastle will continue so long as there is a need. I understand that there are lower level training courses for which it is expected there will continue to be a need indefinitely, but it is expected that those high level competency courses will phase out the courses at those technical colleges to which I have referred because over a period of time it is expected that most of the people involved will do their training at the Maritime College. I further understand that radio training, which has been undertaken at the AWA training school in Sydney, will be taken over by the College. I understand that AWA is only too happy about the idea of ceasing to provide that training for maritime industry officers and it will not be at all unhappy about handing it over to the Maritime College at Launceston as soon as possible. As I mentioned, it is anticipated that some of the lower level competency requirements under the
Navigation Act will still be provided by the local technical colleges.
In regard to fees, scholarships, travelling expenses and the like, I understand that most of the students at the College will be sponsored by the shipping companies and will be paid by the companies during their period of study at the College. In respect of those who may not be sponsored by shipping companies, it appears that they would no doubt come within the provisions of the Tertiary Education Allowance Scheme and they would be entitled, if they passed the means test, to what is known as the TEAS allowance. The refresher courses are anticipated to be mostly of a short duration and those who participate in them will be on paid leave during the courses. As I have mentioned already, tanker safety courses- 24 students in each- have already started. The Interim Council has brought a lecturer from Southhampton in the United Kingdom to conduct those courses and for the sake of convenience they are being conducted in Melbourne and in Sydney. They will be conducted there until the Launceston site is developed and after that time they will be carried on on the Tamar.
Student numbers are estimated to reach about 500 full-time students by the time the College reaches its full complement by 1984. The College- both the seamanship section at Beauty Point and the Newnham section will commence at the beginning of 1980 and will have to build up to its full complement as students complete the first year and go through the various years of the courses. It is anticipated that by 1 984 there will be about 500 full-time students. There will also be an annual throughput of about 2,000 undergoing short training courses phased in throughout the year. That should provide a substantial number.
Some reference was made by Senator Wriedt to the fact that this will be a relatively small College, but in comparison with the Leith College in the United Kingdom it will have more students than that College, which is one of the better colleges in the United Kingdom and one which has been moving towards this total training concept. There have been developments in a number of the other colleges in the United Kingdom to move, as I indicated earlier, further towards that total training concept.
One of the points in my reading in relation to training maritime industry personnel that I found quite interesting was that apparently in the United Kingdom one of the first female graduates is acting as a third officer on a ship carrying ore. One could anticipate that there may even be some competition between that English girl and the first female to go through the Australian Maritime College to become the world’s first female sea captain. I hope that day will come and I hope that they will be better than some of the traditional women drivers of motor cars, if those women drivers are as bad as they are sometimes alleged to be.
I have referred to a number of aspects of the Maritime College. I believe that other speakers wish to refer to further aspects of the development of the College. In summary, I would like to say that the development of this major institution of world standard- one which will be of a standard which can be regarded as the latest development in this type of training in the world; one which will I think attract world-wide interest -is something of which the whole of Australia will be able to be proud. It is something of which the whole of Tasmania will be able to be proud. When taken in conjunction with the Antarctic base headquarters which is being located at Hobart- which also involved a bipartisan approach put forward first of all by the Labor Party when in government and immediately and totally supported by the Liberal and Country Parties when in opposition and followed through to the stage now when it should not be long before the construction really gets under way- we will see in Tasmania a major development taking place as a maritime centre, a scientific centre and an educational centre. Tasmania has a long maritime history, an extensive seaboard and a very large area of fishing and otherwise exploitable waters. It is near to the rather exciting developments which can take place in the Antarctic, being Australia ‘s nearest habitable land to the Antarctic areas.
I do not think many people enjoy living in large cities, confused by the hustle and bustle of commercial activity when they are trying to undertake study or scientific and other training or development programs. I believe that Tasmania is peculiarly well suited for the Antarctic base headquarters which, as we know, will be located in Hoban. It is peculiarly well suited for a maritime college, which as we know, will be located in Launceston.
– Both of which can liaise too.
– As Senator Young has just interjected, both of which can liaise; both of which can in many ways be complementary to each other. I think that was another important point that was taken into account when the original decision was made by the Liberal and
Country Parties to locate the Australian Maritime College at Launceston in Tasmania.
The College will also provide a major new industry for the northern Tasmanian area and for Tasmania. It will employ over 200 staff directly. As I have said, it will have more than 500 full-time students and an average of perhaps 100 part-time students, and it will increase the staff at the College of Advanced Education as a result of the increased activities at that College. Altogether it is a major new industry for the area and one which I am sure people living in that area are excited to welcome and excited by the prospect of assisting to ensure that it gets under way with a minimum of difficulty and a maximum of efficiency. I understand from those people associated witht the Interim Council that they have been delighted with the co-operation that they have received so far from everyone in the community who is in any way involved in this project. I only wish it well and compliment, as I did earlier, the Minister for Education, Senator Carrick, for the assiduous manner in which he has pursued this matter to ensure that it reaches finality by the time it was originally intended to open for the full intake of students; that is, at the commencement of the 1 980 academic year.
-I wish to make a personal explanation.
– Does the honourable senator claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes. An accusation of parochialism is the ultimate in political invective when directed against a senator from Tasmania. My support for the establishment of the Maritime College in Launceston, my presence in Launceston and the fact that I have located the head office of my union in Launceston belie the accusations made by Senator Rae in his response to my interjection when he was roaming around with sheep. I hope my explanation now shows that he cannot pull the wool over everybody’s eyes.
– I am interested in what was apparently a slip made by Senator Harradine in his personal explanation when he said that he located the office of his union in Launceston. I am interested that the union apparently is Senator Harradine ‘s property and that the other members did not have a say in that issue.
Tonight we are debating a Bill to establish an important national educational institution, that is the Australian Maritime College. I remember that when the original Australian Maritime College Bill was debated, in 1976, the only two speakers in the second reading debate were me and Senator Rae, with Senator Harradine making a short contribution in the Committee stage concerning the unions. I am interested tonight that the number of speakers has increased and I am especially heartened to see that some people from Hobart, the capital of Tasmania, have overcome their difficulties and are now willing to join in the debate on the establishment of the Australian Maritime College even though they apparently cannot avoid the odd crack about where it is to be sited. I welcome this new-found interest because the College will be an important national institution and will remain so. It will develop into an important educational institution in Australia and- I believe Senator Rae was right when he said it- in the world. I had hoped that the debate would not degenerate into a cat and dog fight between senators from the northern part and senators from the southern part of the island.
I do not pretend to have an ability in the nautical sphere, like the two previous speakers, Senator Wriedt and Senator Wright but I have had a considerable interest in this topic since I first was elected to this Parliament and in fact before then. I remember the interesting battles we had, which I think were described in the last speech, on the educational establishment with people from other States and sometimes people from our State as to the best site. Senator Rae ‘s description of the history of the establishment of the Australian Maritime College and its siting was interesting but I think it is worth explaining the time-scale a little more. It is also worth making one minor correction. The potential for such a college has long been suggested and indeed I remember that it was mentioned in speeches by the Honourable Kim Beazley, a former Minister for Education, in about 1955 and by Mr Whitlam in the 1 960s. Of course it was the Labor Government that set up the commission, headed by Mr Summers, into the training requirements of seagoing personnel. Mr Summers brought down his report, which is succinct, very well written and quite clear in its recommendations. As Senator Rae has said, the Liberal Party announced early in 1 975 that it would consider Launceston as the site. One wonders what investigations it conducted in selecting that site. The Labor Party announced the site of Launceston in fact before Mr Barnard resigned and before the Bass by-election; but I believe that is a minor point.
I think it is worth pointing out to Senator Wriedt who made some comment on this aspect that in fact Mr Summers and those people who have considered the report agreed that the site required access to conditions of suitable weather, climatic and tidal changes which included navigational hazards both at sea and in an estuary and close proximity to an active port, the fishing industry, a population centre and a College of Advanced Education. As Senator Rae said, in all regards the Tamar Valley provides an ideal site for such an institution. An added bonus, of course, is the fact that the Valley will gain an industry. The Institute of Advanced Education will gain a nearby specialist school which will help utilise its facilities and assist in expansion. I understood Senator Rae to say in part of his description of the area that it is also free from pollution. I am afraid that even I, as one who lives in the area, can hardly consider the upper reaches of the Tamar free from pollution but then again the Derwent suffers from the same difficulties.
This Bill which will establish the Maritime College as a corporate body will, in fact, establish the Council and its administrative functions. This will fulfil a long time need and provide us with an institution of a standard which we hope will rapidly become of world standard and which will provide our future mariners at all levels with the opportunity to train at home so that in future we will no longer have to import some 50 per cent of the officers in our merchant marine and in excess of 30 per cent of our crews from overseas. I hope that the College will become a centre of further education for mariners which is terribly important in these days of rapid technological advancement and the need to cope with the very real problems of going to sea.
One aspect I wish to mention is the importance of this College and the appropriateness of the establishment of this College at a time when Australia is about to join other countries in this area and around the world in establishing a 200-mile exclusive economic zone. This will put us in partnership with other countries in the South Pacific area. If one looks at the map one will see that we will have, in partnership with these other countries, responsibility for the care and surveillance of the resources of a huge area of ocean and a huge area of seabed in the Southern Pacific. Many of our partners in this region are very small countries with small populations and very small economic resources which will be unable adequately to husband and survey this area, and to maintain a surveillance on activities in this area without assistance from richer nations such as Australia. Co-operation and assistance from Australia will be vital to prevent the resources of this region being devastated as they have been in the Northern Hemisphere. One hopes that we can prevent a recurrence of the extinction of the North Sea herring and the Canadian sardine happening to the pelagic fish in this area. One of the factors that will help us to do this will be our ability to train our own personnel to supervise and to exploit efficiently the resources of the area and to assist other countries in the surveillance of the area to ensure that this over exploitation does not occur.
The declaration of the 200-mile exclusive economic zone has double-barrelled implications. It certainly gives the coastal country involved sovereign rights over the living resources of the seabed but it also confers upon that country an obligation to admit foreign vessels to exploit, in a controlled way, the resources of that area if the home nation cannot or will not utilise those areas. I was interested to note that the report entitled The 200 mile Australian fishing zone, dated November 1977, prepared by the working group established by the Australian Fisheries Council quoted Article 62 of the draft convention- the so-called informal composite negotiating text which emerged from the United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea and which Australia took part in drawing up. It is reported at page 1 1 of the document that the coastal state shall:
Where the coastal State does not have the capacity to harvest the entire allowable catch, it shall . . . give other States access to the surplus of the allowable catch.
This will be an increasing problem in this country. It is a problem in Tasmania, Victoria and other places at the moment in view of the fact that many large foreign shipping nations like Japan, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, Poland- we know that the Taiwanese are very interested at the moment- which have declared a 200-mile exclusive economic zone wish to join in fishing operations in this area. These people have the capacity to exploit and, in fact, denude our fishing zones of their resources. As Senator Rae said, although we have rich resources in these areas they are generally, because of the narrowness of our continental shelf and because of the migratory nature of many of the fish there, they are not, in fact, as rich as many of the Northern Hemisphere areas were and must be carefully husbanded. I hope that the training available at the Maritime College will provide us with a greater ability to husband those resources. If proposals which have been put to this House to develop a coastguard or, as has alternatively been suggested, that the Navy should be used for this sort of surveillance are accepted, the training available at the Maritime College will be able to assist those bodies in looking after this area. As I said, many of the varieties of fish in this area are highly migratory and if we do not exploit them other countries in the world will demand to do so. If we do not assist the small countries like Nauru and the Gilbert and Ellice Islands to protect the areas in the Southern Pacific they will be exploited as will be the rich krill fishing grounds of the Antarctic which are areas close to our shores that we may in future wish to exploit.
But fish are not the only resources of the sea or the seabed itself which are important to us. Offshore oil is important to our future energy resources and the men who crew the ships and the tugs to establish off-shore wells can be trained and further educated at the Maritime College. Mineral mining on the seabed is becoming more frequent and obviously as the world’s resources decrease there will be greater need for minerals. At present the United States and other countries are indulging extensively in the mining of manganese from the seabed and we must be prepared to join in when necessary. The men who man the specialised ships involved with mineral and oil exploration should come from our own country if possible. With regard to the Bill itself, it would seem that it provides the standard corporate structure of similar colleges but there are some minor points which I wish to see clarified and to which I will refer in the Committee stage. I hope that the Government recognises the need to draw from as wide a group as possible or as is feasible in making its decision on the makeup of the Council. Senator Harradine mentioned some unions and associations which he thought could be represented. I noticed that some of them were. I hope that we do not have a Council which merely mouths the government line but which acts as a truly autonomous council. Certainly the Interim Council has done that. It has always been intended that the College would educate all levels of seagoing personnel and I believe that the Council should recognise that representatives of unions and associations of people who will graduate into our maritime service should be represented.
Having said that, I wish the new Council well. I wish Captain Waters well in his development of the College. I congratulate the Interim Council for the work that it has done. I certainly shall retain a watching brief to see that the Government continues to provide the stimulus and necessary funding to facilitate the establishment of this most important institution- an institution,
I might add, which I believe is sited in the right place, is very necessary and will greatly enhance the future of our maritime industry.
– We are discussing the Maritime College Bill 1978. Clause 6 of the Bill states:
The seat of the College shall be at, or in the vicinity of, Launceston in the State of Tasmania.
I suppose some people would say that anywhere in Tasmania would be in the vicinity of Launceston. Maybe that is true. I feel that a great deal of credit must go to Senator Rae for the way in which he has maintained his efforts to have the College sited at the northern end of the State. Whilst senators are responsible for matters anywhere in their State, I think they can be forgiven for showing perhaps a little more devotion for the area in which they live than for any other area; that is only natural. Senator Rae first of all worked to ensure that Tasmania would get the college and then worked to ensure that it would grace the area of the Tamar.
As one flies into Launceston- I did that four times yesterday- one cannot help but be struck by the size and quality of the airport terminal. I have heard that Launceston actually got the terminal which was designed for Canberra and that Canberra got the terminal which was designed for Launceston. I believe that was due to the work of ex-Senator Sir Denham Henty, so the Launceston terminal remains a monument, one could say, although he is still alive, to the time he spent in this place. Now we are to have a maritime college which I think will always remind us of the way Senator Rae fights for Tasmania and for his area of that State. Perhaps I should put that in a different way and say that it will always remind us of the way Senator Rae fights, firstly for his area, which is Tasmania, and, secondly, for the area in which he lives.
The College which is being established is to serve a very wide Australian need. We have heard that it is intended to develop standards of education and training which will be acceptable at the international level. We have heard too that the main site of the College will be at Newnham in Launceston, near the Tasmanian College of Advanced Education. There is to be a small facility, which is planned for practical seamanship and fisheries training, at Beauty Point, about 45 kilometres north of Launceston. The College is to be fully funded by the Commonwealth. I believe that is being done on the advice of the Advanced Education Council of the Tertiary Education Commission. The College will therefore be responsible and accountable for the expenditure of these funds in accordance with the College Act.
Quite a while ago the Minister for Education (Senator Carrick) announced the appointment of Captain D. M. Waters as Principal of the College. I think we are very lucky to have a man of his calibre in Tasmania to look after this College which, of course, will be a very important college. Prior to taking up the position, Captain Waters was acting as Assistant Secretary in charge of the Marine Crews and Services Branch of the Commonwealth Department of Transport. He has served also as Principal Examiner of Masters and Mates for Australia and as a marine surveyor with that Department. He hold a master of science degree and an extra master certificate of competency. Senior academic positions are currently being advertised both in Australia and outside of Australia. It is intended to attract academic and administrative staff of high calibre to ensure a successful future for the College.
Whilst the benefit to Australian shipping and fishing has been mentioned already by previous speakers, the benefits to the area in which the College will be established are immense. It is planned eventually to have some 500 full time students when all courses are fully operational and also to have many other students doing short specialised courses in different areas. As I have said, the Bill envisages the Newham area and the area 45 kilometres north of Launceston being the site of the College. Land at Beauty Point, near the mouth of the Tamar, has already been organised. This seems to be quite a suitable area, for the reasons which have been given already. I have noted that the Tasmanian Minister for Education, Mr Holgate, has said that we are dragging our feet a little with this enterprise. I think that that shows that he knows little about the difficulties involved in planning and staffing a college such as this.
The College is presently expected to be completed by the end of 1979. I feel that the staffing of the College should not be rushed. If we are to get the type of staff which we need I should prefer, if anything, the Council to take an extra 6 months or so rather than to choose people quickly and mess it up. No doubt the Tasmanian College of Advanced Education in the north also is looking forward to the establishment of the Maritime College and most probably at present is assisting in its plans and proposed future developments. I ask the Minister to ensure that empire building does not go on and that duplication of courses and equipment is not allowed to happen. I note from the Minister’s speech that it is planned that there will be co-operation with not only the TCAE but also the Launceston Technical College. I hope that becomes a fact.
The College, because of its range of needs in the maritime and fishing industry, will have a very wide range of courses indeed. There will be three-year degree courses and diploma courses full time for deck engineers, radio operators, officer entrants to the shipping industry and trainees for the larger and more sophisticated fishing vessels. There will also be part time programs of a shorter and more specialised nature for serving maritime officers in the shipping and fishing industries, as well as for those people who may require such training in maritime industries, port authorities and associated industries. Generally, I believe the program for each course will be a sandwich-type program in which one does a certain amount of study and then a certain amount of practical work, these being integrated to present graduates suitable for service anywhere in the world and, indeed, graduates who are acceptable anywhere in the world.
I hope and anticipate that the courses will be vocationally oriented at each level. I believe that they can be expected to cover the academic requirements for certificates of competency; that they will lead to a recognised education qualification; that they will include commercial and managerial training in subjects not covered by certificates of competency; and that they will provide practical experience in the use of modern equipment and instrumentation. Open programs of short specialised courses in areas such as hydrology, hydrographic surveying, tanker safety, survival, ship handling, pollution control, as well as fire fighting- which I think Senator Harradine mentioned- fishing technology and instrumentation will be a part of the plans of the College. Also, refresher courses will be developed to enable persons so interested to upgrade their personal qualifications. Finally, in the long term, postgraduate level courses will be offered, but I suppose that is a few years off.
Honourable senators will understand that it will take time to find the people to run these courses and to establish them in Tasmania, although if they knew what a pleasant place Tasmania is to live in I am sure that it would not take much time. We must remember that these people will have to come from both national and international sources. In order to provide the education and training envisaged, the Interim Council considers that the College will need well equipped laboratories, instruments, simulatorsincluding ship-handling, engine-room and cargo-handling simulators- and training vessels, lifesaving equipment and so on. Because of the difficulty of getting people to run the courses, it is unlikely that any course requiring major specialist equipment such as the simulators that I mentioned will be available before late 1 979.
I am pleased to see the concept of a maritime college come to fruition. I believe that it will play a major role in stimulating the immediate area around the college seat. It will be at least equivalent to the establishment of a new industry in the north of Australia’s best State. Perhaps as the need for more investigation of maritime activities becomes apparent we will see a section of the Institute of Marine Science established near the Maritime College. In that way we will build towards the education centre that Senator Rae spoke about a little while ago. In cooperation with the Antarctic Division in Hobart, we could have emanating from Tasmania investigations into such things as krill and icebergs, both of which Senator Rae mentioned. I understand that certain difficulties are involved in getting water out of icebergs when they reach the neighbourhood of this continent. Some of the icebergs are up to 250 metres deep, and how the water can be got out of them when they get here I do not know.
-The latest suggestion is that they should be wrapped in plastic, allowed to melt, and the water pumped out of the plastic surround.
-That could work. A suggestion was made that the melting water would rise to the surface and become available, but that has proved to be incorrect, according to my latest readings. I hope that the suggestion Senator Rae has made is more successful. I suppose he is envisaging something like a great big Gladbag. I hope it will work. Certainly as time passes we will find more and more needs for the world to rely upon the sea for food, minerals and chemicals of many kinds. I support the Bill wholeheartedly, Mr Deputy President. I mention in closing that the establishment of the College may encourage another industry in the Launceston area. Clause 5 (2) (b) provides that the College shall have a seal. Whether it is going to have a walrus, a porpoise or a whale I do not know, but at least it might be the start of a maritime zoo in Launceston.
-I welcome the Maritime College Bill 1978, and I rise to speak only briefly but wholeheartedly in support of it. Initially I wish to pay tribute to the great work done by the Interim Council and to the tremendous progress it has made in the time since it was appointed in achieving the standards that it has so far. I feel also that it is appropriate to thank Senator Rae for what he has done and for the way in which he has persisted to ensure that we should reach this stage. The arrangements for the College are now well in hand. With the passing of time it has been shown that the site was extremely well selected and that it is a very suitable site for the operation envisaged. I believe that its association with the northern campus of the Tasmanian College of Advanced Education will provide great benefits to both bodies. In particular, the Maritime College will provide a lot of strength to the College of Advanced Education in areas such as engineering and mathematics.
Australia can well use a college of this type of international standard, and I have no doubt that those responsible for the Maritime College will ensure that it develops in that way. It has already become apparent that the main shipowners in Australia welcome the establishment of the College and the provision of facilities for the training of cadets, and Senator Wriedt and Senator Rae both mentioned that. I do not think many of us have any real idea of how big an operation this is likely to become in the years ahead. Other interests such as fishing will derive great benefit from it, and those who have special interests should ensure that their views are made known to the College. There is no doubt that the College will serve the whole of Australia, and probably New Zealand and many other countries in the region at the same time. I expect that the staff will come from all over the world, and in that regard we are assured that actual seafaring experience will be a prerequisite for all staff members in any of the nautical areas of the course. The Port of Launceston Authority is also entitled to be listed specially amongst those who have done a lot to assist in the early stages, and its encouragement and interest should be recorded and recognised. The success of the venture will depend very largely on co-operation between the PLA and the College. I have met the principal, Captain Waters, and I was most impressed by his infectious enthusiasm, which I believe will be transferred to all those with whom he associates and will ensure the success of the College.
A start in 1980 is envisaged and the full complement of approximately 500 is expected by 1 984 or thereabouts. The Newnham section will provide education for graduates with an associate diploma, a diploma or a degree in nautical science, radio engineering, marine engineering, electronics and matters of that sort. The Beauty
Point area will provide the seamanship course and, hopefully, it will have a ship of approximately 200 feet with accommodation for up to 50 people to cover the practical seamanship area. The existing jetty and adjacent buildings will be utilised as far as possible, and that has worked in very well with the plans put together by the Interim Council. The College will cater for refresher courses for both ships’ officers and fishermen and will provide specialist courses of all types. It is hoped that both evening and external courses in seamanship and boatmanship will be available.
More and more changes in the Australian way of life seem to be making the sea relatively more significant than it was previously. The rights and responsibilities involved in the 320 kilometre territorial waters legislation are going to figure very prominently. Too often only the rights and possible advantages have been taken into account. Vast international responsiblities also have to be considered. At this time fishing shows us many of the responsibilities that we have to face. For instance, our own fishermen are starting to feel their sea legs and are viewing potential new markets for fish around the world. They are starting to look at these added waters, as things have changed in other countries which also have taken on extra territorial waters.
Our own fishermen are planning for an increased utilisation of the area. Until now they have not taken a great interest in the further waters for two main reasons: Firstly, that Australia itself was not a great fish eating country and, secondly, that there were many markets that were not apparent until recently. But with the actions of the other countries all this has changed. The Australian fishermen will need greater skills and better technology in seamanship. The College will be able to assist a great deal in these ways. The Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Sinclair) announced that at present he has on his desk about 48 proposals for joint venture fishing. The responsibilities of the Australian interests in these ventures are very high. I know the details of some of them and I have had the pleasure of meeting some of those people who are seeking joint venture arrangements. I look forward to some joint ventures, providing they are good for Australia, but they must be to our advantage. A couple of propositions have had quite an amount of discussion and are well known but they did not provide the sons of safeguards or of involvement that I believe are desirable at this time. I will support willingly what will be best for Australia and best for the Australian fishermen.
The College will give them the opportunity to capitalise on the new limit by giving them better qualifications and a better education to start with. It can do a lot to see that our own fishermen are better equipped than they have been in the past. For Tasmania it will be a most desirable boost. The number of students involved, plus the staff, their families and all the ancillary services, will lift the economy of the area and the fares, accommodation and general funding will be of some significance. The people are right behind the proposal and it will be successful. I personally appreciate the extent to which the Government has ensured its viability. I support the Bill with enthusiasm and wish all those lucky people who will be associated with the College success and happiness.
– I rise to support the Bill. I do not propose to go into the genesis of the establishment of the Australian Maritime College. That has been dealt with by previous speakers in one way or another. But I think that one point has been missed, and that is the Bass by-election. Although it was mentioned, it was not given the prominence that it deserved. It was very handy for a front bench member of the Liberal and Country Party Opposition at that time to be friendly with the then Leader of the Opposition. This, along with other things, ensured the declaration by the then Opposition of support for the establishment of the Maritime College in Launceston. The proposal would not have taken off if it had not received the blessing of Gough Whitlam- perhaps I should rephrase that and say ‘it had not received the endorsement of Gough Whitlam’- at the time of the Bass byelection.
I am not one to take up in this House or anywhere else the fights of Gough Whitlam since 1968-69. 1 was prepared to do so in 1966-67. But I feel that one must give credit where credit is due. We are talking about politics now. The politics of the Bass by-election were that when Lance Barnard resigned a vacancy was created, and a pre-selection took place for that vacancy. The preferred candidate, Jimmy Brassil, did not get pre-selection, unfortunately.. The candidate that did get pre-selection was, I think, a fellow called McCrostie, who was heavily supported at the time by the socialist left. He was the one who ran for the Australian Labor Party in the Bass byelection, weighted down by the socialist left lead in his saddle. I suppose it could be said that the advent of the Fraser Government was heralded by the Bass by-election.
Of course, Gough Whitlam had to drag something out of the hat. I remember discussions taking place on this very matter. As a member of the executive of the Australian Council of Trade Unions I was privy to information concerning the discussions which took place at that particular time within unions and between unions about the location of the Maritime College. Many of those people were against the establishment of the Maritime College in Launceston. I took the view that practically, because of the situation in Launceston as I said to Senator Rae, anyone who can navigate the Tamar River -
-I will bet that you could not.
– I guarantee that I could not. It is a most difficult waterway. I have been involved in discussions over a number of years with the manager of the Port of Launceston Authority. It is a waterway which lends itself to the establishment of such a college.
– So it would have been better in Victoria?
– No, not at all. I am saying that at that particular time, both practically and politically, it was important that the decision was made that it be established in Launceston.
– Even more so now.
– Yes. I agree with Senator Archer. I just make the point that, being privy to the information at the time, I realised that because of the pressure that was on the Labor Prime Minister at that time he had to drag a rabbit out of the hat. That rabbit was the establishment of an Australian Maritime College in Launceston. I am very pleased that he promised to establish the College in Launceston. I have pursued a decentralist policy both inside and outside the Senate. But I think it is fair to say that he having made that statement, the die was cast. When the Fraser Government was elected, it was to the credit of the present Prime Minister, Mr Malcolm Fraser, that he honoured the undertaking that was given during the Bass by-election and the Maritime College Bill was introduced by the previous Administration. We can see a bipartisan approach to the establishment of the Australian Maritime College in Launceston.
I have long been of the opinion that a State with the geographical features of Tasmania could be in certain specified areas the centre for an education industry, for the want of a better term, for the whole of Australia. This is one area and forestry is another. I suggested on 9 March 1 978 during my speech in support of the motion for the establishment of a Senate Select Committee to investigate off-shore law enforcement that the Maritime College would be ideal for the instruction of personnel in a civilian coastguard. The Opposition should bear that in mind because, if such a coastguard is to be an appendage of the defence forces, it is most unlikely that that instruction role would be performed by the Maritime College. I agree with what Senator Archer said. The Maritime College could have a role for instruction of fishermen and in respect of fisheries in the territorial sea and the extended economic zone.
– That is one of its principal purposes.
– Having said that -
– You have not just discovered that, have you?
– This Government of which Senator Rae is a supporter has issued a visa for Vladimir Kuzin to enter Australia. This man is well known as a KGB agent. He has a well established record as a KGB agent.
- Mr Acting Deputy President, I rise to take a point of order. Is not there a Standing Order which states that the remarks of an honourable senator must be relevant to the subject matter under discussion? Is not this a dissertation which exemplifies the paranoia from which the honourable senator who is speaking appears to suffer? Would it not be better if he were brought to order to debate the Maritime College Bill and not talk about the KGB and secret police in Russia.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Young)- I will rule on the point of order raised by Senator Rae. Senator Harradine, a fair amount of latitude has been allowed in the debate on the Maritime College legislation. But on the other hand I ask you to endeavour to confine your remarks to the subject being debated at the present time.
– That is precisely what I am doing, Mr Acting Deputy President. Senator Archer referred to the fact that a number of propositions were before the Federal Government for foreign fishing vessels to operate in the extended economic zone. This is the matter to which I am referring. It was the matter to which I was referring when I mentioned Vladimir Kuzin
-And the KGB.
– Yes. He is in Australia as part of the trade delegation which is currently having talks with representatives of the Federal Government in an attempt to have the Russian fishing fleet operate in the extended economic zone. If Senator Rae accuses me of paranoia in making these statements, let me ask him: Does he deny that Russian fishing fleets have a well established record of surveillance and defence information gathering? If he does, tomorrow I will read to him in the Senate chamber, if I have a chance to do so, the well documented fact that Russian fishing fleets operate as an arm of the Russian defence force in the case of intelligence gathering. Does the honourable senator deny the fact that Vladimir Kuzin who is in this country as the head of the foreign relations section of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics Committee for Science and Technology has a well documented record as a KGB official and is using this international cover for his operations? Of course the honourable senator cannot deny it because it is a fact. It is suggested that this man is part of the team negotiating with the Australian Government in an attempt to obtain licence for the Russian foreign fishing fleet which has well established connections with the Russian war machine in intelligence gathering to operate in the extended economic zone.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Young)-Order! Senator Harradine, I ask you to relate these remarks to the matter under debate.
- Mr Acting Deputy President, I am relating these remarks to the Bill, and I am coming to the point I wish to make. Senator Archer mentioned that the Government had a number of proposals before it. This is one of them. This is suggesting that the foreign fishing fleet should act as an agent for Australian coastal surveillance. I believe that in lieu of that sort of operation- that is to say, allowing the Russian fishing fleet or any other foreign fishing fleet to be an agent for our inadequate coastal surveillance- we ought to have a coastguard ourselves. The Maritime College ought to provide the training for that coastguard. If that is not relevant to the Bill, I do not know what is. In fact, I first raised that matter on 9 March 1978.
I turn now to the question of fire fighting. This is a matter to which I believe insufficient attention has been given in Tasmania. Tasmania relies on a regular, reliable and adequate shipping service. What would happen if a fire broke out in one of the major ports? Are the urban fire brigades in the major cities and ports in Tasmania sufficiently equipped to deal with outbreaks of fire on vessels which not only could affect the lives and the cargoes on the vessels concerned but also could affect drastically the port facilities, lives and the general environment. As the industrial adviser to the United Firefighters Union in Tasmania, I can say that we are not adequately equipped to deal with a major ship fire in Tasmania. That is the reason I am raising this matter tonight. I believe that the Maritime College would be the appropriate place for the establishment of courses designed to provide experience for the very qualified urban fire-fighters that we have in the fire-fighting services in Tasmania. I believe that that suggestion should be passed on by the Minister to the Interim Council, and I hope he will do so.
Having mentioned the Interim Council, I should also like to associate myself with my colleagues from Tasmania in congratulating the Interim Council for the work that it has done to this stage. I should like to associate myself with the accolades that have been paid to the Manager of the Port of Launceston Authority, Jack Edwards, who is a man of great vision and almost unbounding energy. I should also like to associate myself with the congratulations and best wishes which have been extended to Captain Waters. I hope that he and his Council will be encouraged by the support that the Bill has had in this chamber.
-We have heard some very interesting diversions tonight, but I should like to come back to the Bill- the Maritime College Bill 1978. I support the Bill and congratulate the Government. I congratulate the Government on the introduction of such an institution and on the choice of its site. I say that as a Victorian. I congratulate the Government for choosing a provincial city, not a capital city. Far too often, organisations are established in capital cities, on the recommendations of very sound, sensible men. Quite clearly, if we were to adopt the most economic situation for every institution in Australia, they would be established in the heart of Sydney or Melbourne. I am pleased to support any government proposal for the establishment of an institution outside of those capital cities, because Australia comprises far more than just the metropolises of Melbourne and Sydney. The Government chose Launceston and a site adjoining the Tasmanian College of Advanced Education.
I congratulate Tasmania as the successful applicant State. Across Bass Strait, I may say, we looked with some envy at the choice of Launceston. Certainly Warrnambool, with the Warrnambool Institute of Advanced Education established in that provincial city, would have liked to have had the College. With the adjoining fishing port of Port Fairy, and the large shipping port of Portland very near, I can assure honourable senators that south-western Victoria tried very hard to get this College established in its district. Nevertheless, we congratulate Tasmania.
The purpose of this legislation is to provide maritime-related education and training for people who wish to become, or are, officers on merchant or fishing vessels. This College will be able to award degrees, diplomas and certificates in relation to the passing of examinations and otherwise. With the agreement of the Minister for Transport (Mr Nixon), it will be able to conduct short courses of maritime training and to conduct examinations and assessments for marine competency in accordance with the Navigation Act. I will come back to that in a few moments.
In short, it is a College for practical seamen. There will need to be practical courses. I know that they intend to start that way, because I have spoken with Captain Waters, the Principal, and it is clear that he is well aware of the need to have practical courses. The experience which I have of institutions such as this is that it is very difficult for them to maintain their practicality in the face of academic desires to establish all sorts of peripheral courses. In my view, it depends a great deal on the Council. Certainly, it is important that the Principal of the institution be a practical man. By ‘practical’, I mean a practical seaman. In my view, the Council of the College should also have on it a large number of professional practical seamen. The legislation does not have any prerequisites as to the qualifications of the members of the Council. I think it should have. I think the Government, when establishing bodies such as this, should consider having in the legislation some minimum requirements as to the qualifications of councillors. I seek leave to continue my remarks at a later stage.
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 purpose of the Bill is to authorise the giving of a guarantee, of up to $4.5m, in respect of the repayment of the principal of a commercial borrowing of up to $9m for 3 years by Cooperative Farmers and Graziers Direct Meat Supply Limited (CF&G). The government of Victoria will provide a similar guarantee of up to $4.5m.
Honourable senators may recall that, on 10 March 1978, the Prime Minister and the Premier of Victoria jointly announced that their respective governments had agreed to guarantee repayment of a commercial borrowing by CF&G on a 50/50 basis.
The society has been in the hands of receivers and managers since 1975 and its principal remaining asset, the Brooklyn abbatoir, is in the process of being sold to Protean (Holdings) Limited for $ 10.25m, subject to the approval of the Supreme Court of Victoria, and the Registrar of Co-operative Societies. With the aid of the proposed guarantees from the two governments, the directors of CF&G have asked the court not to sanction the proposed sale to Protean.
At the present time CF&G is insolvent: Creditors for amounts in excess of $14m remain unpaid. Nevertheless, the co-operative is presently trading profitably and neither government thought it desirable that it should be forced to go into liquidation. The guarantees from the commonwealth and Victorian governments would provide CF&G with the opportunity to trade out its past problems under the ownership of the existing shareholders.
The Brooklyn meat works is one of the largest and most modern in Australia. The government is concerned to ensure that it continues to operate in the overall interests of the industry on a profitable basis.
CF&G has arranged a borrowing of $9m for 3 years on satisfactory terms and conditions. The borrowing, together with other funds, will enable the creditors to be paid in full.
The society will be required to enter into agreements with the Treasurer of the Commonwealth and the Treasurer of Victoria and the lender with respect to the proposed borrowing, and the guarantees will be conditional upon approval of both governments of a management restructuring plan to be submitted by the society. These requirements are designed to safeguard the interests of the Commonwealth and Victorian Governments. To that end, there is a requirement in this Bill that officers of the Australian Public Service will have full access at all reasonable times to the financial accounts of the society when authorised in writing by the Commonwealth minister for that purpose.
I commend the Bill to the Senate.
Debate (on motion by Senator Georges) adjourned.
-Before the adjournment of the debate I was saying that in my view the legislation should provide for a certain number of practical professional seamen to be on the Council. That provision is not contained in the Bill but nevertheless there are appointment provisions. I hope that enough professional seamen will be appointed to the Council to ensure that it will not be overwhelmed by well intentioned landlubbers, bureaucrats and academics in its desires to have the College act in a practical manner. Perhaps at least one half of the members of the Council should be people with at least ten years seagoing experience, with appropriate certificates of competency.
I mentioned earlier that the courses available would include examinations and assessments for marine competency. I asked the Government to look at the matter of certificates of competency for seamen and in particular the revalidation of those certificates. At present certificates of competence last a lifetime. I am advised that they can be suspended only on two counts, that is, by marine boards of inquiry where misconduct or the hazarding of a ship has been involved or by the Minister when the question of the holder being medically unfit arises. It seems to me to be unbelievable that in the late 1970s when there are so many rapid advances in matters of navigation and when the size of ships is growing enormously a person can be the captain of a ship when he may have earned his certificate of competency 30-odd years ago and perhaps he has not been to sea for the last 20-odd years.
– Would you apply that rule to a civil engineer or to any other professional?
– I believe that there may be other areas where that principle ought to be applied but at this stage I am not prepared to commit myself without considering it. Certainly, from a practical point of view I do not believe that captains of ships should be able to rely on a certificate of competency which may be many years old and when the captain may not have had recent seagoing experience. In other words, I believe there ought to be some sort of renewal experience. I might add, for Senator Wriedt ‘s consideration, that I also believe that that principle should apply to the drivers of motor vehicles. I understand there is nothing new in this proposal. Certificates of competency which were issued when ships were powered by sail were endorsed for steam at the time of the introduction of steam for captains who had previously had endorsements only for sail. So it is not really a new proposal for the merchant navy.
I turn to the question of the staff of the College. Section 26 of the Bill provides that the principal of the College, in the first instance, may be appointed for five years and that therafter- in other words, after the first term has expired- the appointments may be for seven years. That seems to me to be a proper limitation. It seems to me to be right and proper that the principal of the College ought to have a reasonable term of office. But after a period of years his reappointment comes up for consideration. In relation to the other staff members we find that clause 28 of the Bill states: the staff of the College shall be employed on such terms and conditions as the Council determines.
There are no legislative restrictions, no limitations and no maxima or guidelines suggested. I am not suggesting that this is unusual in relation to the Maritime College. In fact it is similar to the position in other institutions. That is a pity. Let us look at the situation of the Australian National University which has a similar provision in its legislation. I am most disconcerted by at least one paragraph in the 1976 Report of the Australian National University. This paragraph is contained in the Vice-Chancellor’s report and it appears on page 6. Apparently a couple of studies were conducted at the University about certain matters referred to in the report. The Vice-Chancellor states:
A more disconcerting picture emerged from a parallel study of the striking extent to which the academic staff during the next two decades is likely to remain unchanged.
That is just one simple sentence but what the Vice-Chancellor is saying is that the academic staff of the ANU will remain unchanged for the next 20 years. The Vice-Chancellor continued:
The implications of this have begun to be recognised in -
He then lists five points. The fifth point is:
I was intrigued by that statement and I started to apply my mind to what was meant by ‘nontenure appointments ‘. I found out that in the academic world tenure means a permanent appointment. In other words, that is an appointment for life. Non-tenure means an appointment for a specific term. Some inquiries made at the ANU disclosed to me that in its School of General Studies, which is the basic teaching school for undergraduates, only 78 out of 422 staff members are non-tenured. In other words, less than 20 per cent of people in the School of General Studies at the ANU have been appointed for a term of years. All the rest have been appointed for life. There are complicated means for the university to rid itself of any tenured appointee who is unwelcome. That requires those people to be paid all sorts of retiring allowances. There are many difficulties involved in changing staff at an institution where most of the members have been given an appointment for life. In relation to the ANU, one wonders whether it was lack of foresight, bad planning or perhaps a necessary consequence of other factors.
– It is not only the ANU.
– Quite clearly, as the honourable senator says, it is not only the ANU. Most of the academic institutions in Australia at present are suffering from this problem. But the figures for the ANU were readily available to me. I really do not suggest that it has been lack of foresight or bad planning. I suggest it has been a necessary consequence of other factors. In other words, I suggest that in order to get the right staff members the institution has had to offer terms and conditions which were perhaps better than they should have been. I discovered that the issue of tenure as against non-tenure has been argued in academic circles for many years. I think it is about time that our Government had a look at the matter of tenure in post-secondary appointments and perhaps also had a look at the matter of sabbaticals and study leave. When the Government has made the decision on maxima in connection with these matters, it should introduce amending legislation in relation to bodies which are under its control. Quite frankly, these questions are far too important to leave to the academics who after all have a deep financial interest in their own determinations. Finally may I say in relation to the Maritime College that in my view the legislation should contain some minimum requirement for professional people on the staff at the institution.
– 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.
– I rise on the adjournment debate to acquaint the Senate with some of the real facts regarding the Working Women’s Centre in Melbourne. This matter was raised last week by Senator Harradine in what I can only call a mischievous attack, full of inaccuracies and innuendos. It seemed to be an attempt to smear hard-working devoted women with the obvious purpose of denying government funding for the Centre because these people who run the Centre are not identified with Senator Harradine ‘s faction in the trade union movement. At a time when women in the work force are under great pressure, at a time when they need assistance and advice, it is irresponsible in my opinion for a member of Parliament to add to that burden and it is particularly irresponsible for a member of Parliament who pretends to have expertise and experience in the trade union movement to add to that burden on women. At the moment 43.4 per cent of all women 15 years and over are in the Australian work force. That is, 2,204,600 women make up 35.6 per cent of the total labour force in Australia. In May 1977 41.9 per cent of all married women 15 years and over were in the labour force. In February 1977 322,300 unmarried women were heads of families. This survey excluded women who had alcoholic or sick husbands not earning an income and so had to be the bread winners in the family. In May 1977 41.5 per cent of employed married women worked part time on average 14.2 hours a week and 40 per cent of married women were looking for part-time work. That is the situation in which this Women ‘s Centre operates in Melbourne and this is the Centre that Senator Harradine sets out to rubbish and to give all sorts of strange connotations.
Why was the Centre set up? If I may quote from a pamphlet put out by the Centre, it reads:
The ACSPA Committee on Women’s Affairs established the Working Women’s Centre in July 1975 through an International Women’s Year Grant from the Federal Government.
The Centre was set up with the intention of informing unions about specific problems facing women in the work force; to encourage women to join their appropriate union; to educate women about trade unions and to encourage them to participate in union activity and to seek decision-making positions within the unions; to provide information and support for women who have problems which affect their work or ability to get work; to bring a grass-roots woman’s view of the effect of government policies and legislation to the attention of government Ministers and departments.
Several unions have sought the advice of the Centre. Several unions have actually involved the Centre in the preparation of material for arbitration claims and in at least three instances the Centre has actually given evidence in arbitration matters. The most recent example of this type of assistance was in a Full Bench hearing within the Australian Conciliation and Arbitration Commission in regard to a matter concerning the Municipal Officers Association of Australia and Rockhampton Council, which had dismissed a woman because she married. A decision on this matter has still to be given.
Senator Harradine maintained that this Centre was not a part of the union movement and that in fact it was hostile to the trade union movement. This Centre, as I said, was established by the Australian Council of Salaried and Professional Associations in mid- 1975. ACSPA is one of the three major peak union councils in Australia. ACSPA, the Council of Australian Government Employee Organisations and the Australian Council of Trade Unions comprise the three governing bodies of the trade union movement in Australia. ACSPA set up this Centre under its wing. CAGEO has contributed to the support of the Centre. The Centre was represented on the ACTU committee that set up the Federal Union Conference that discussed the ACTU Working Women’s Charter. An employee of the Centre was invited by the ACTU to speak at that Federal Union Conference on child care, yet this is the body that Senator Harradine says has no place and is not recognised in the trade union movement, and in fact is hostile to the movement. At the Federal Union Conference the ACTU Secretary, Peter Nolan, moved this recommendation: (That) the ACTU liaise closely with ACSPA and CAGEO in the implementation of the ACTU W.W. Chaner. Conference recognises that the role of the W.W. Centre in ACSPA and calls upon the ACTU to provide support to ACSPA in its endeavours to ensure the continued operation of the W.W. Centre.
We urge that in the proposed unification between ACSPA and the ACTU that both Peak Councils recognise the role of a Working Women ‘s Centre and the need for its continuity.
The ACTU in conjunction with other Peak Councils and through its affiliated branches and unions should initiate the investigation of the possibility of establishing centres similar in concept to that of the Working Women’s Centre, in other States, which would be accessible to all trade unionists’.
The Centre is financially supported at the moment by more than 70 unions, many of which are affiliated with the ACTU and whose leaders are involved in a wide spectrum of opinion in the trade union movement. Senator Harradine cast doubt on the fact that this was the only working women’s centre in Australia. Nobody has ever claimed that it is the only women ‘s centre but it is the only centre that provides a service for all women who want to work. Other centres provide a service to members of their own unions. The Centre in Melbourne has received recognition from the Victorian State Government, the Federal Government and from other bodies outside government. In fact, the Centre has been invited to join several government committees including the Women’s Welfare Issues Consultative Group in the Department of Social Security, the Victorian Government Department of Labour and Industry’s Ongoing Activities of Safety Convention, the Victorian Premier’s Migrant Advisory Committee and Equal Opportunities in Schools committees. The Centre also represents ACSPA on the Australian Public Service Joint Council Sub-committee on Women. The inquiry into human relationships praised the work of the Centre and recommended that similar centres be established in other States because of the advice, assistance and encouragement that it gave to working women.
Senator Harradine maintained that the Centre had become involved in matters that were not directly related to women. May I just repeat one aim of the Centre. It is to provide information and support for women who have problems which affect their work or their ability to get work. That covers a multitude of problems, including the sorts of problems that this Centre attempts to assist women with. There is nobody else to whom working women can turn, nobody who even attempts to answer the sorts of problems that arise in the everyday working lives of these women. The question of abortion always excites Senator Harradine, but it is just another piece of information for women who work. Under the current economic climate brought about by this Government’s policy and brought about by the pressure these women are under because this Government will do nothing about unemployment, especially unemployment as it affects women, women are not able to have babies which they may want to have. They have to go on working. They are not working for their own enjoyment or fulfilment. They are working to keep their families’ heads above water. They must keep working, and in that context abortion becomes a very real problem and a very real alternative for some of them.
The trade union movement in this country has done precious little about the fact that it now takes two people’s wages to keep a family and the days when one man’s wages were sufficient to keep a wife and family and women did not have to work have gone. No woman in this community takes lightly a decision to have an abortion. We all know that prevention is better than this terrible cure. But what has Senator Harradine done to make sure that in the first place women do not have to go to work to keep their families above the bread line? What has he done to make sure that information on contraception, for instance, is readily available to women who work, to women who do two jobs all their lives? What has he done to make sure that counselling is readily available to women who work at two jobs all their lives? What has he done to make sure that counselling on family planning and information on how to cope with family responsibilities is available? Nothing! Yet when one centre does something to provide some information it is rubbished for its pains.
Senator Harradine does not know the pressures that push women to have abortions. Most humane understanding men who want to understand the pressures and the problems of women who face abortion do not understand because they are not women, and certainly Senator Harradine with his narrow inhibited view would find it impossible to understand the pressures to which women are subjected. He exhibits a great desire to be the keeper of women ‘s consciences but we do not need him as a keeper. Might I remind Senator Harradine that that is exactly how the majority of women in Australia feel about the matter. This Centre cares. It was set up to try to alleviate problems. It gives information on abortion from all points of view. If a woman in distress and under pressure facing abortion rings the Centre for advice, she not only gets information about where to find a counselling service but also she is directed to the Women’s Action Alliance which gives information and assistance in some ways to women who do not want abortions and advises women against abortions. The Centre does not exist to push working women into having abortions. It is there to provide information and to help them make up their minds.
In similar vein, the Centre gives information on other problems such as alcoholism. It directs people to Alcoholics Anonymous and such organisations. It provides a variety of information. For instance, it has information on what the Tenants Union is all about; invalid pensions; Medibank for school leavers; venereal disease; the Clyde Cameron College courses for 1 978; the United Nations Decade for Women; interuterine contraceptive devices; the Working Women’s Charter Campaign Conference; the Working Women’s Centre and why it was set up. It publishes a paper- the one I have is devoted to women and unemployment. It has information on the Resource Centre for Equal Opportunity; what disarmament means and the coming conference by CICD on disarmament; women’s poetry. It has a working women’s charter pamphlet on the number of women who are unemployed and why they are unemployed. It has information from the Wool Corporation on ethnic crafts in wool; information on a film program that was on in Melbourne that week; information on Workers Health Action; and much more at which we could look and which is available for inspection if people would like to see it.
As well as that, the Centre puts out monthly reports and research papers. It distributes them to all unions throughout Australia. They are of such calibre that on the mailing list now are not only unions but also schools, universities, teacher training colleges and libraries. People subscribe to the Centre so that they might receive those reports. Some examples of the sort of material on which these discussion papers are written are: Should Unions be Concerned About Women ‘s Issues?’, ‘Do Women Really Get Equal Pay?’, Should Unions Support a Mother’s Wage?’, Occupational Health’, ‘Women and Shiftwork’, Occupational Health- Hazards for Pregnant Women’ and ‘Outworkers and Homeworkers’ They are examples from a list that covers 25 discussion papers. I seek the indulgence of the Senate to have the full list incorporated in Hansard.
The list read as follows-
No. I- Should Unions Be Concerned About Women’s Issues?
No. 2- Should Unions Be Concerned About Childcare?
No. 3- Should Unions Be Concerned About Migrant Women Workers?
No. 4- Do Women Really Get Equal Pay?
No. 5-Maternity, Paternity and Family Leave.
No. 6- Do Women Have Equal Opportunities in Employment?
No. 7- Should Union Support a Mother’s Wage?
No. 8-Alternative Working Hours.
No. 9- Training and Retraining.
No. 10- Occupational Health.
No. 1 1- Unemployment.
No. 12- Women and Shiftwork.
No. 13- Work Experience.
No. 14- Occupational Health- Hazards for Pregnant Women.
No. 15- Equal Opportunity Bill.
No. 16-Migrant Workers and Their Health.
No. 1 7- Outworkers and Homeworkers.
No. 18 - Women and Retirement - Part 1: Superannuation.
No. 19- Child Care- An Important Industrial Issue?
No. 20- New Patterns of Industrial Democracy for Women.
No. 2 1 -Occupational Health- Part IV. Psychotropic Drug Abuse.
No. 22- Women, Work and Technological Change.
No. 23- Trade Union Training for Women.
No. 24- Is There a Need for Health Services for Women at the Workplace?
No. 25- Married Women Working.
-That is the sort of material on which the Working Women’s Centre concentrates and which the women work very hard to produce and to make sure that it reaches people who need it and who need to be reminded of those sorts of problems. Senator Harradine made the accusation that the personnel at the Centre had rushed around and changed the sort of material available there so that the Minister would get a false view of the sort of material put out. If the people had the time to do that, it calls into account the integrity of the Australian Council of Salaried and Professional Associations which is the governing body that set up the Centre and which looks after it. It calls into account the integrity of the Minister who Senator Harradine evidently thinks is such a fool that he would go along, with no knowledge of the sort of material covered by the Centre and so would be fooled by the Centre being papered up for the occasion of his visit. The Minister must know very well that because of the short notice that was given of his visit and the time he spent in the Centre it would not have been possible, if it had ever been contemplated, to have papered up the Centre in that way. That was just another piece of mischievous nonsense to rubbish the Centre.
The Centre has nothing to hide. It is an information centre. Groups leave material of a very varied nature and whatever is left there for women to read and mull over is not necessarily endorsed by the Centre; nor is it necessarily endorsed by ACSPA. But these people believe that this sort of information has to be made available somewhere to women and this is one way of doing it. Senator Harradine said:
I have been told by a union official in Melbourne that a possible reason for the official trade union hostility is that on several occasions women associated with the Centre have attempted to by-pass the elected officials of unions and enter factories and work places in order to spread their propaganda. They have not even had the courtesy to advise the union officials whose members work in those factories of what they are attempting to do.
In the first place, there is no official trade union hostility to the Working Women’s Centre and, secondly, Senator Harradine gives no information of those instances when the Centre has bypassed the elected officials of unions. In fact the representatives of the Centre assure me that at no time have employees of that Centre entered a union shop without the consent of the union concerned and that on most occasions when they have gone into union shops they have gone with a trade union official to assist the trade union official and to have him assist them in speaking to the women on the shop floor.
What contact has the Working Women’s Centre with the trade union movement? Senator Harradine would have us believe that it had no contact; that it was set up as a front organisation and that it had nothing to do with trade unions. The two hard working and over-worked women who work in the Centre personally visit trade unions for discussions with officials- evidence can be given of that. As I said, they produce monthly reports and research papers which are distributed to all trade unions. Their paper Women at Work’ is distributed through trade unions and in some instances unions have acknowledged that whereas the women tend not to read the official trade union journal, they most certainly read this publication because it includes matters which appeal specifically and immediately to them, and is of some assistance to them. The Working Women’s Centre refers women who approach the Centre to the appropriate union for their jobs and they give information to the organisers to follow up. As a result, they are often invited to address the executives of trade unions and to address and participate in training seminars run by trade unions in Victoria. The Working Women’s Centre is the only centre in Victoria set up solely to support all working women, and those women who want to work. It is providing valuable and worthwhile service to those women and it deserves the utmost support from all thinking people.
– Tonight I bring to the attention of the Senate a clear case of discrimination against some Queensland residents. Those being discriminated against are past or serving members of the Defence Forces. As a Queensland senator, I am obliged to outline the circumstances surrounding this discrimination and urge that steps be taken to rectify what is a definite injustice. The matter to which I refer is associated with the Defence Service Homes scheme. This scheme which was commenced in 1919 assists former and serving members of the Australian Forces and certain other persons who meet the eligibility requirements to acquire a home. The magnitude of the scheme may be gauged by referring to the number of homes purchased under the scheme. From 1919 until December 1975, a total of 359,068 homes was purchased following assistance from the scheme. So the scheme is far from insignificant. The Defence Service Homes scheme now accounts for about 9 per cent of net Commonwealth expenditure on housing programs. Associated with the Defence Service Homes scheme is a special insurance scheme. It is called the Defence Service Homes Insurance scheme. This scheme is a co-operative one and is financed completely by Defence Service Homes purchasers and borrowers. That is, there is no Commonwealth expenditure to assist this insurance scheme. The scheme covers homes against a wide variety of risks. The latest report on the Defence Service Homes scheme outlines the insurance premiums as follows: The premium for the first $2,000 of cover is $18.90 plus $1.30 for each subsequent $2,000 of cover or part thereof. The report does not mention anything about differential rates. As far as I can see from that report the rates throughout Australia are the same.
Before proceeding, I acknowledge that the scheme provides insurance at competitive and usually better rates than those obtainable from other insurers. I refer however to the discrimination against certain Queenslanders which I mentioned earlier. I am informed that a notice is being forwarded to all people in Queensland with insurance under this scheme. The notice concludes:
In view of the co-operative nature of the Scheme, it is desirable that insured persons contribute equitably. Accordingly, when it is apparent that homes in one region are regularly costing more to insure, it is appropriate for that to bear a larger proportion of its excess cost. The cost of insuring homes in Queensland has been regularly exceeding the costs of insurance in the rest of Australia over the last six years. For this reason, effective from 1 September 1977, a loading has been applied to premiums payable for insurance in Queensland amounting to about 20 per cent of the normal premium payable for the average home insured.
My inquiries lead me to believe that Queensland is the only State in which a loading has been applied to insurance premiums under this scheme.
Before this loading was applied, premium rates were the same throughout Australia. Now they are the same everywhere except Queensland. I believe that those who are administering the scheme should remember that defence personnel who qualify for homes under this scheme and subsequently for insurance for the homes that they obtain did not fight just for Queensland. They fought for Australia as a whole. That being the case I think that the people who are administering the scheme should consider that these premiums should be the same throughout Australia. Despite recent comments to the contrary in this House and the other place and outside this Parliament, it is well to remember that Queensland is still part of Australia.
As I outlined earlier, this scheme is a cooperative scheme. If it is a co-operative scheme why cannot we have co-operation throughout Australia. Has there been a loading applied for houses in the Darwin area because of the cyclone devastation there? No, there has not. There is no loading anywhere else. Has there been a loading for places, such as the Blue Mountains, where it has been shown that there have been risks to houses? No, there is no loading there. But for some reason there is a loading in Queensland. Although I have not been able to obtain the information, I suspect that some of this loading probably has been applied because of the flood position in Queensland in recent years, especially the disastrous flood in Brisbane in 1 974. If that is the case, that argument- if the Senate will excuse the fact that there is no pun intended- will not wash because the houses in Brisbane affected by this flood were built on a flood plain area although personnel of the Defence Service Homes scheme knew that this was a flood plain area. If that is the case, what Queenslanders are paying for now is a maladministration of the scheme which allowed houses to be built or purchased in areas which were liable to flood. If houses were built on the flood plain area in Brisbane, it was inevitable that at some time in the future they would be flooded just as it is inevitable now that they will be flooded some time again in the future, although it may be in 20, 50 or 100 years time.
Let me make it plain that I believe that there ought to be equal premiums under this scheme throughout Australia. I ask the Government to discontinue what is a rip off and victimisation of Queensland residents who are insured under this scheme. If the Government will not consider the discontinuation of these extra premiums imposed upon Queensland people, I want to have made available to the Senate details of premiums and claims for all States over the last 10 years on a State by State basis. I would like to see also the sums received by the scheme due to reinsurance. In the report of the Defence Service Homes scheme which I mentioned earlier there is a reference to reinsurance. The report states:
To insulate the Insurance Trust Account from the effect of major catastrophes, reinsurance cover has been taken out to provide excess of loss cover of 95 per cent of $8,500,000 in respect of any loss or series of losses arising out of one event where the loss or losses exceed $ 1 ,500,000.
If the extra premium payable in Queensland is due to the floods of 1 974 1 do not know whether those reinsurance proposals would have covered the scheme. If the Government will not reconsider the removal of this extra premium, I would like to have made available details of all sums received under that reinsurance scheme. I would not be surprised, if we look back over the 10-year period, if at some stage Queensland people were entitled to some discounted premiums. They just do not know. But at this stage they are being told that because of increased costs they, and they alone, will have to pay extra premiums for their insurance. It seems strange to me that this should be decided on a State by State basis. For instance, does a person who has insurance for his home in Roma have to pay additional premiums because of something that may have happened in Brisbane or Innisfail or some other area for which claims are high? Should a person in, say, Toowoomba or Kingaroy who is in an area- I am supposing that this is the case- which does not have the same high number of claims as some other areas of Queensland also have to help out with this extra premium. This seems to me to be the position that is now applying in Queensland, as opposed to the position in the other States. There does not seem to me to be any reason why a scheme which is for the whole of Australia could not accommodate different rates of claim for one State or region. I notify the Government that there is no way that those people under this scheme in Queensland will accept this type of discrimination. I suggest strongly that the new loadings in Queensland be dropped altogether. I look forward to definite advice on this matter from the Government in the near future.
- Mr President- (Quorum formed). I am forced to rise to answer the statements which have been made by Senator Melzer in respect of the Working Women’s Centre. This is a matter which is of significance and importance not only to the women of Australia but also to those people working for the Federal Government who are concerned with ensuring that public moneys are properly accounted for. I make the point that Senator Melzer or anybody else can establish any centre they wish, can have whatever they wish in it and can advance whatever ideologies or policies they wish, but we are dealing with a centre which has received and still does receive public moneys. I think I am quite justified in discussing the matter in this chamber. It is a question of accountability of public funds.
For the record, the Working Women ‘s Centre, which is not recognised by the Australian Council of Trade Unions or by the Victorian Trades Hall Council, has received $40,000 from the International Women’s Year Secretariat, $8,000 in January 1977 from the Department of Social Security for child care study, $6,300 in April 1977 from a Federal Government grant, $200 in July-August 1977 from the Australia Council for arts information for the Working Women’s Centre newsletter, a total of $54,500. It is not the amount that is in question; it is the principle. For the information of the Opposition I shall make two points. Firstly, I rose because I was angered by the statement of the Minister for Home Affairs (Mr Ellicott) that the Working Women’s Centre was the only organisation within the trade union movement providing support for women. I rose in anger after Senator Guilfoyle provided what I believed was an inadequate answer. I do not blame her for that because she only represents the Minister in this place.
I did so because I am President of a trade union, 70 per cent of whose members are women, and I take strong exception to that sort of statement. I went on to make a well-founded comment that the Working Women’s Centre in Melbourne is not the only organisation within the union movement providing support for women. The facts are otherwise. The Working Women’s Centre in Melbourne is unrepresentative, it involves itself in matters not directly relevant to women workers, it is hostile to the official trade union movement and it is a politically motivated organisation favouring the extreme Left and radical feminists.
I repeat that it is significant that neither the Australian Council of Trade Unions nor the Victorian Trades Hall Council has endorsed the Centre. It is simply untrue for Mr Ellicott to say that it is the only organisation within the union movement providing support for women. Senator Melzer referred to the ACTU’s Special Unions Conference on the Working Women’s Chaner. That Conference passed a resolution which purported to support the Working Women’s Centre.
– I thought you said that the ACTU did not recognise it.
-I am coming to that. A little knowledge is a dangerous thing, Senator Melzer. That Conference purported to pass a resolution which purported to give supported to the Working Women’s Centre. As the honourable senator probably does not know, under the rules of the ACTU the decisions made at any conference which is called by the ACTU as a special unions conference must be submitted to the ACTU Executive for endorsement or otherwise. The decisions of that Conference were submitted to the Executive. The resolution purporting to give support to the Working Women ‘s Centre was ruled out of order by President Hawke as being contrary to the decisions of the Biennial Congress of the ACTU in Sydney on 13 September 1977.
That resolution, which was proposed at the ACTU’s Special Unions Conference and second by Mr Ted Bull, the Vice-President of the Communist Party of Australia, Marxist-Leninist, and the Secretary of the Melbourne branch of the Waterside Workers Federation, of which there are no women members, was opposed and rejected by the ACTU Congress. Whom does Senator Melzer represent in this chamber? Does she represent the workers of this country or does she represent the radical feminists? I take exception to an accusation that I have done nothing within the trade union movement to support a wage that is capable of sustaining a family unit. For many years I, along with Albert Monk and others, supported the concept of a basic wage. Senator Bishop and others in this chamber also supported for many years the view that there should be a wage sufficient to provide for the needs of a family unit. Since the unit wage was introduced I have been vocal in my support for increased child endowment and in my support for a mother’s allowance which would entitle and enable women to make a true free choice as to whether or not they will go out to work.
The facts of life are these: Because the Women’s Working Centre and its like oppose a proper mother’s allowance women are forced to go out to work to make ends meet. Let it not be forgotten that these are the radical feminists who are the real enemies of justice for the vast majority of women, women who are working in the home doing the most important job in the world, raising future citizens. I also take strong exception to the accusation that I have no knowledge of the trials and sometimes the psychological distress which confront a woman with an unwanted pregnancy. I take exception to that accusation because for a number of years I have been one of the strongest supporters of the organisation known as Pregnancy Support. I suggest to the Federal Government that, rather than putting taxpayers’ money down the drain, it should look at the organisation named Pregnancy Support and at the Borrie Report to see whether or not it would be money well spent to provide a realistic amount to ensure that Pregnancy Support became well and widely known.
I do not want to go into the argument in relation to abortion, but I for one will not accept a situation in this country where those who stand for the right to life of any person, whether that person be unborn or not, are going to be on the defensive. I refer the Minister to the fact that the Working Women ‘s Centre does in fact promote a profit-oriented abortion clinic in Melbourne, namely, the clinic operated by Dr Bertram Wainer and associates. Here are documents from the Working Women’s Centre. (Quorum formed). I was pointing out that the Working Women’s Centre is a proponent of and an agent for Dr Bertram Wainer’s profit oriented abortion clinic in Melbourne. As I said before, this is a free country, but we are dealing with an organisation which is receiving taxpayers ‘ funds and it is legitimate for the Parliament of this nation to ensure that those taxpayers’ funds are put to the purpose for which they were designed.
– They are.
– We have an admission by Senator Melzer that the Working Women’s Centre is a politically oriented organisation. She admits that it carries out political campaigns for the Congress for International Cooperation and Disarmament. She admits that this is the sort of literature that is available at and distributed and disseminated by the Working Women’s Centre. Apart from the literature, it also provides for those who want them, and those who do not want them, anti-uranium stickers and the like. As I said before, this is a free country, but we are talking about a centre which is not recognised by the Australian Council of Trade Unions or the Victorian Trades Hall Council but which presumably, for some reason, is recognised by the Federal Government.
The purpose of my putting into the Hansard record of the Senate the Sara Dowse parable is as follows: The Sara Dowse parable is certainly not obscure to me and I believe that it ought not to be obscure to anybody else. Sara Dowse was formerly the Assistant Secretary of the Office of Women’s Affairs in the Department of Prime
Minister and Cabinet, which Office was transferred to the Department of Home Affairs. She has since resigned. Put quite simply, the Sara Dowse parable indicates that whilst she was working as an adviser to this Government, her first loyalty was to a non-Public Service organisation, the Women’s Electoral Lobby and that she saw WEL and its attitudes as providing an integrated backdrop for the Women’s Affairs Office of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet. I just wonder who Senator Melzer is representing. I raised this matter not to have a fight with the Opposition but to have a fight with the Government over a statement that one of the Government’s Ministers has made. And here we have Senator Melzer defending an organisation which is also defended by Tas Bull and our friend John Halfpenny, but which is not recognised by the ACTU or the Victorian Trades Hall Council. I deny the statement she made that women have been referred to Women’s Action Alliance -
– How can you?
-Because I have contacted Women’s Action Alliance and it denies that any women have reached it. Of course, it cannot deny what it does not know, but it can say that no women have come to it from the Working Women’s Centre. Now Senator Melzer, in supporting this situation, is supporting those who support also the Union of Australian Women. I think she yesterday, or on Friday, raised a question as to why the Union of Australian Women was not associated with something or other. We all know what the Union of Australian Women is: It is really an arm of the Socialist Party of Australia. It is affiliated with the Women’s International Democratic Federation. Why am I raising that? I am raising it because the Government gets into problems with the Working Women’s Centre because of the advice it gets from its Home Affairs Office. The Government could get into a lot of international trouble if, as has occurred, reports going to international bodies from the Women’s Affairs Bureau of the Department, via the Department of Foreign Affairs, put forward the concept that the Union of Australian Women and the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom are the only organisations in Australia dealing with women’s affairs. I will have a little more to say about that matter if I am tempted, but will leave it at that for the present.
– I think some clarity is needed on this matter because an injustice has been done Senator Melzer. I do not want to be critical of the last speaker, Senator Harradine, because, in fact, he supported much of the claim that Senator Melzer made. The one theme that ran through his whole speech was a political hatred of anyone who disagreed with him. He associated them with Bertram Wainer’s clinic and everything else, including serious crimes, but as to the matter about which he complained, he verified and justified what had been said. Senator Melzer put up a great case and the only thing with which he disagreed concerned some association with the Women’s Action Alliance. If we were to give him credit for being correct in that regard, we would find that he disagreed with nothing else that Senator Melzer had said. This has all been brought about by the unforgivable action of the Minister for Home Affairs (Mr Ellicott) making Senator Harradine irate. I hope to God he never does it again while we are here, because Senator Harradine then wanted to show that there was more than one women’s organisation in Australia; that there were a number. I do not disagree with him on that.
He then went on to suggest that the Working Women’s Centre has received $54,000 of government money for various purposes. He stated the purpose of the allocation of that money, but nowhere did he say that it had not been spent in accordance with that purpose. It may be getting from other sources money which it is spending. It may be getting it from abortion clinics and spending it on something else. Neveretheless, the honourable senator’s only concern was with the expenditure of government money which was allocated as part of a set budget. The Government agreed to the purposes for which the money was to be spent. Not one accusation was made by the honourable senator in the whole of his remarks about this money being spent for some other purpose by the Working Women’s Centre. We are indebted to Senator Harradine because he has verified that the Government was justified in allocating the money to the Centre. He has stated the purpose for which the money was allocated and made no accusation that the Centre has not used the money for that purpose.
The honourable senator has said a great deal on the matter tonight. No one can say that the Working Women’s Centre in Victoria has not done a good job in advising women. We know the necessity for women to be part of the work force, and the assistance which is required to enable them to be part of the work force is justified. This assistance is necessary in view of the difficulties of married women undertaking this new role and their entry into the trade union movement. The honourable senator stated that the organisation is not connected with the trade union movement because the Australian Council of Trade Unions and the Victorian Trades Hall Council did not recognise it. Senator Harradine knows as well as I do that he ACTU and the trades hall councils of most States recognise only affiliated union bodies. They will not accept correspondence from bodies other than their own affiliated bodies. Therefore, in accordance with their rules, they cannot carry a motion of endorsement for this Centre. The honourable senator uses this as an argument to suggest that the Women’s Centre should be ostracised and that the trade union movement has no time for it. We have been told that the Australian Council of Salaried and Professional Associations and the Council of Australian Government Employee Organisations recognise the Centre and that some 70 unions support them.
I do not suppose that there is any justification for continuing this debate. No allegations have been made other than the allegation that the Centre has been carrying on some activity with which Senator Harradine does not agree. I think that anyone who is interested in the working class will have an appreciation of an organisation that carries on activities which do not meet the approval of Senator Harradine. I think that the Senate should be somewhat indebted to Senator Harradine for clarifying this matter and should be greatly indebted to Senator Melzer for the role she has told us that these women play in Victoria. They have justified the support given to them. I hope that the Government continues to give that support and ascertains whether the funds provided have been spent correctly. If the expenditure has been incurred correctly, a higher commitment will be justified in future years in view of the effect of inflation.
– I rise to deal with some comments made by Senator Colston in relation to the premiums charged for the defence service homes insurance scheme in Queensland. The decision to charge a loading on the insurance premium for defence service homes in
Queensland became effective on 1 September 1977. An amount of approximately $8 is added to the premium which otherwise would be charged for each residence. This gives a figure of about $48 for a home insured for the average amount of $30,000. The decision was made upon the advice of the Australian Government Actuary who studied for six years the result of the cost of insurance in Queensland and who established that this cost was substantially higher than in the rest of Australia. He gave as his advice to the scheme that where there is an identifiable risk pertaining to a particular area, which it is established is costing significantly more than other areas covered by the scheme, it is an appropriate and in fact a proper insurance practice to charge a loading of this kind.
The Defence Service Homes insurance scheme has been in operation for nearly 60 years. The fund is contributed to by the people insured under the scheme. It is a self-financing scheme and is operating very successfully. For instance, the premiums I have mentioned for Queensland are, despite the loading, still 40 per cent lower than insurance of a similar kind in Queensland in non-cyclone areas and more than 60 per cent lower than similar insurance schemes for homes in cyclone areas. So it is still a very favourable scheme. It is true that natural disasters may occur anywhere in Australia but the loading is not appropriate simply because a particular natural disaster may occur. Indeed, the scheme has always averaged out the cost of disasters that may occur. However, where you have a situation of consistently higher cost in an area, that is a matter for a loading. That is why this decision was taken.
asked for a great deal of statistical detail about the matter. I will see whether that information can be obtained but I assure the Senate that the decision taken was based on the advice of the Australian Government Actuary after he had made a study of the statistics of the matter.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 11.33 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated:
asked the Minister for Education, upon notice, on 2 1 February 1 978:
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
The change brings the Secondary Allowances Scheme into line with the long established Aboriginal Secondary Grants Scheme.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Environment, Housing and Community Development, upon notice, on 22 February 1978:
What progress has been made in regard to the ratification of the Migrating Bird Treaty with Japan.
– The Minister for Environment, Housing and Community Development has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
Regulations have been drafted under the National Parks and Wildlife Conservation Act 1975 to enable Australia to implement obligations which Australia will assume under the Agreement between the Government of Australia and the Government of Japan for the protection of migratory birds when the Agreement enters into force upon ratification. In the light of new federalism arrangements agreed at the Premiers’ Conference in October 1977 the legislative basis for ratification of the Agreement will be discussed with the States as soon as possible.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Environment, Housing and Community Development, upon notice, on 22 February 1978:
– The Minister for Environment, Housing and Community Development has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice, on 1 March 1978:
– The Minister for Primary Industry has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Resources, upon notice, on 2 March 1978:
– The Minister for Trade and Resources has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
Re-refining of Lubricating Oil (Question No. 172)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Environment, Housing and Community Development, upon notice, on 7 March 1978:
Will the Minister make available to the Parliament copies of reports on the re-refining of lubricating oil in Australia, which have been prepared by officers of his Department, and which have also been received from outside sources, within the last two years.
– The Minister for Environment. Housing and Community Development has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
No reports on the re-refining of lubricating oil in Australia have been prepared by officers of my Department or have been received from outside sources.
I would draw the Senator’s attention to OECD document ENV/WMP/762 prepared by the Waste Management Policy Group of the Environment Directorate entitled ‘Economic Instruments and the Control of Waste Lubricating Oil ‘ which would be available to the Senator through the Parliamentary Library.
On a more general front, the issues of the re-use of waste materials and recycling are under discussion with the States, industry and other concerned Commonwealth ministeries. A report on tyre recycling has been released recently and other related issues are currently under consideration.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice, on 2 March 1 978:
– The Minister for Primary Industry has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question :
asked the Minister for Education, upon notice, on 14 March 1978:
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
Vessel Depicted on $5 Note
-On 28 February 1978 (Hansard, page 141) Senator Devitt asked me, as Minister representing the Treasurer, a question without notice concerning the identity of the ship depicted on the Australian $5 note. The Treasurer has provided the following information for answer to the honourable senator’s question:
Senator Devitt first raised this matter in 1 973 and on that occasion he was informed, on the advice of the Reserve Bank of Australia, which is responsible under the Reserve Bank Act for the Australian note issue, that the vessel depicted on the top right-hand corner on the reverse of the Australian $5 note was the Waverley, a barque of 436 tons built at Whitby in 1 838 (see Hansard of 1 1 October 1 973, page 1 1 85 ).
Following the further question by Senator Devitt on 12 October 1977 the Reserve Bank investigated further the identity of the ship on the note. As a result of additional search of the records of the State library of New South Wales the Bank has now informed me that it appears that there were a number of ships named Waverley in existence at the time. This contributed to some confusion regarding the ship incorporated in the design of the note. The Bank now believes that the ship depicted is the clipper brig Waverley and not the barque Waverley. The brig is understood to have been a tea clipper which it seems was eventually wrecked on the northern coast of Tasmania.
Although there is no evidence of an association with Mrs Chisholm, the brig Waverley was a ship of the period and its incorporation in the design of the $5 note is not considered by the Bank to be inappropriate in the context of showing Mrs Chisholm against a background of women and children of her time and ships and Sydney streets of the period. In these circumstances and in view of the costs involved, I have not requested the Reserve Bank to change the design of the note. The Bank regrets the error of supplying incorrect information in response to Senator Devitt s earlier questions. The Government is grateful to him and others who have helped clarify this matter.
Tax Rebates for Private Rates
-On 14 March 1978 (Hansard, page 523) Senator Davidson addressed a question without notice to me, concerning, inter alia, a request by a number of Lord Mayors that the amount claimable for income tax purposes in respect of private rates be increased beyond the present limit of $300. Responding as Minister representing the Treasurer in the Senate, I undertook to refer this aspect of the question to the Treasurer who has provided the following answer:
Arrangements had already been made for the present limitation on the amount of private rates claimable to be reviewed when the 1978-79 Budget is being prepared. I shall see to it that the honourable senator’s interest in the matter and, of course, that of the Lord Mayors is fully taken into account at that time. I should point out, however, that increasing the ceiling would not necessarily provide additional tax relief for Targe numbers of taxpayers. This is because the concession as it now stands is on a rebatable, rather than a deductible, basis and rebates of tax for concessional expenditure are allowed only in respect of concessional expenditure in excess of $ 1 5 90.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 11 April 1978, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1978/19780411_senate_31_s76/>.