31st Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Condor Laucke) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– I inform the Senate that the Minister for Special Trade Representations (Mr Garland) left Australia yesterday to attend the Baghdad International Trade Fair and to undertake further trade negotiations in South East Asia and Europe. He is expected to return on 2 1 October. During his absence the Minister for Trade and Resources (Mr Anthony) is acting as Minister for Special Trade Representations. I also inform the Senate that the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr Peacock) will be leaving Australia tomorrow to attend the Tuvalu independence day celebrations, to attend the United Nations General Assembly in New York, and to have discussions in Europe. He is expected to return on 18 October. During his absence, the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Sinclair) will act as Minister for Foreign Affairs.
– I present the following petition from 97 citizens of Australia:
The Honourable the President and Members of the Senate in Parliament assembled. The petition of the Federation of Parents and Citizens Associations of New South Wales respectfully showeth:
That as citizens of New South Wales and parents of State school children, we are most concerned that the quality of education available in our school be of the highest possible standard.
We believe that this can only be achieved if adequate Federal funds are provided. The recently announced policy of direct cuts to Government schools for 1979 must have an adverse effect on them.
Your petitioners most humbly pray that the Senate, in Parliament assembled, should arrange for:
Withdrawal of the Guidelines to the Schools Commission for 1979 and acceptance of its recommendations for Government schools.
An increase of a minimum of 5 per cent in real terms on base level programs for 1979.
Restoration of the $8m cut from the Capital Grants for Government schools.
Increased recurrent and capital funding to Government schools.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray.
Petition received and read.
Radio Station 3CR, Melbourne
– I present the following petition from 108 citizens of Australia:
To the Honourable the President and Members of the Senate in Parliament assembled. The petition of the undersigned respectfully showeth:
That Radio 3CR Melbourne, be made to adhere to the required standards of broadcasting, as laid down for all other radio stations.
The petitioners request that the Federal Government and Broadcasting Tribunal should enforce the required standard of broadcasting as laid down for all other stations, on community Radio 3CR call on Federal Government to legislate against incitement to racial hatred and violence.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray.
Petition received and read.
– I present the following petition from 26 citizens of Australia:
To the Honourable President and Members of the Senate in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully say that we are concerned about the discrimination which exists against the children of those parents who are in receipt of the Supporting Parents Benefit in comparison with children of Single Parents who receive the Widows Pension. Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that Parliament take immediate steps to ensure that this year’s budget allow for Lone Parents to be given the right to receive a pension with the same benefits as are given with the Widows Pension, and we also request that Parliament take immediate steps to instigate one ( 1 ) category of Lone Parent Pensions to eliminate the discrimination currently experienced.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray.
Petition received and read.
– I present the following petition from 3 citizens of Australia:
The Honourable the President and Members of the Senate in Parliament assembled. The petition of the Victorian Federation of State School Parents’ Clubs respectfully showeth:
That as citizens of Victoria and parents of State school children, we are most concerned that the quality of education available in our school be of the highest possible standard.
We believe that this can only be achieved if adequate Federal funds are provided. The recently announced policy of direct cuts to Government schools for 1 979 must have an adverse effect on them.
Your petitioners most humbly pray that the Senate, in Parliament assembled, should arrange for:
Withdrawal of the Guidelines to the Schools Commission for 1979 and acceptance of its recommendations for Government schools.
An increase of a minimum of 5 per cent in real terms on base level programs for 1979.
Restoration of the $8m cut from the Capital Grants for Government Schools.
Increased recurrent and capital funding to Government schools.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray.
The Acting Clerk- Petitions have been lodged for presentation as follows:
Radio Station 3CR, Melbourne
To the Honourable the President and Members of the Senate in Parliament assembled, the petition of the undersigned respectfully showeth:
That radio 3CR Melbourne, be made to adhere to the required standards of broadcasting, as laid down for all other radio stations.
The petitioners request that the federal government and broadcasting tribunal should enforce the required standard of broadcasting as laid down for all other stations, on community radio 3CR call on federal government to legislate against incitement to racial hatred and violence.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Senator Button.
The Honourable the President and Members of the Senate in Parliament assembled. The petition of the Victorian Federation of State School Parents ‘ Clubs respectfully showeth:
That as citizens of Victoria and parents of State school children, we are most concerned that the quality of education available in our school be of the highest possible standard.
We believe that this can only be achieved if adequate Federal funds are provided. The recently announced policy of direct cuts to Government schools for 1 979 must have an adverse effect on them.
Your Petitioners most humbly pray that the Senate, in Parliament assembled, should arrange for:
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Senator Button and Senator Guilfoyle.
To the Honourable, the President and Members of the Senate in Parliament assembled. The petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth.
That the provision of payments for abortion through items of the Medical Benefits Schedule is an unacceptable endorsement of abortion which has now reached the levels of a national tragedy with at least 60,000 unborn babies being killed in 1977.
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the Government will so amend the Medical Benefits Schedule as to preclude the payment of any benefit for abortion.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Senator Button, Senator Missen, Senator Webster, Senator Guilfoyle and Senator Jessop.
To the Honourable the President and Senators here assembled we the undersigned humbly pray:
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Senator Ryan.
Human Rights in the USSR
To the Honourable the President and Members of the Senate in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of the Commonwealth respectfully showeth:
In the Soviet occupied Lithuania, Viktoras Petkus, a member of the group to monitor Soviet compliance with the Helsinki agreement, was sentenced to a severe punishment at the same time as other Soviet dissidents, Shcharansky and Ginzburg.
Since Viktoras Petkus, and the group he is a member of, conducted their activities openly, believing that the Soviet constitution granted them some rights not only in word but also in fact, this severe punishment is a blatant denial of human rights recognized even by the Soviet constitution.
We ask the Australian Government to make representations to the United Nations to adopt a resolution condemning Soviet violations of human rights, and to request the Soviet Government to release the unjustly incarcerated Viktoras Petkus.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Senator Jessop.
-I give notice that on the next day of sitting I shall move:
That the Senate take note of the statement by the President on 21 September 1978 relating to Parliament House security.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Social Security. Have the representations and protests by various organisations within and outside the Parliament had any effect on the Government’s Budget proposals to income test family allowances and to tax invalid pensions and allowances payable to rehabilitees? If they have had such an effect, how will such changes affect Government revenue and expenditure in the forthcoming year?
Senator GUILFOYLE The Government has reviewed all aspects of the proposed changes that were announced in the Budget and subsequently with regard to family allowances. In view of the administrative complexities and the inequities which could arise between families with regard to the means testing of family allowances, it has been decided that the present arrangement for family allowances will continue. That is, the family allowance scheme will be a universal benefit on behalf of Australian children. Present arrangements will continue with regard to student children, with the exception of those who receive a Tertiary Education Assistance Scheme allowance. As announced in the Budget, there will no longer be dual payments of the TEAS allowance and the family allowance, but the TEAS allowance has been increased to take account of that change.
As regards the matter of the taxing of sheltered employment allowances, it is not strictly within my ministerial responsibility to announce such changes as they are related to the responsibilities of the Treasurer and of the Leader of the Government in the Senate who represents him. However, if the Leader of the Government in the Senate will permit me, I am able to say that the Cabinet has reviewed the taxing of sheltered employment allowances and either the Leader of the Government in the Senate or the Treasurer will be making the appropriate announcement that the Government has decided not to tax such allowances. My understanding of the effect of these changes on the Budget is that it was expected that some $16m would have been saved in the family allowance area and some $3m in the other pension area. I think I should leave the precise figures to the Treasurer to announce.
– Is the Minister representing the Minister for Transport aware of the increase in the prices of liquor on the domestic airlines since the Budget was introduced? Can the Minister offer an explanation as to why the price of wine has been increased by 33W per cent in spite of the fact that wine was unaffected by the Budget provisions?
– Although as a Western Australian I travel on aircraft more than most other honourable senators I am not aware that the price of alcohol on aircraft has been increased. Perhaps that is a tribute to my clean living. I am interested to hear that there has been a movement in wine prices in sympathy with the change in the prices of spirits following the Budget, and I will refer that matter to my colleague the Minister for Transport. However, I must say to the Senate that I do not believe that he is responsible for setting liquor prices on aircraft, although it may be a matter in which he has some interest.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations and relates to the announcement last week by the Liberal Government in Victoria of a grant of $250,000 to assist unemployed youth in the city of Ballarat. I ask the Minister, as the person representing the Minister responsible for the compilation of unemployment statistics as well as for employment in this country, whether there are any special circumstances either in the number or problems of unemployed youth in Ballarat, other than a byelection, which distinguish those youth from any other unemployed youth anywhere else in Australia?
- Senator Button’s question requires some statistical analysis. I will refer it to the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations in an endeavour to obtain an early answer for him.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Treasurer and I ask: Has the Treasurer acknowledged that there is in existence a flourishing tax avoidance system which has increased very substantially in recent years, perhaps even in recent months? Does this mean that there is now a vastly increased work load for the officers of the Australian Taxation Office who are trying to investigate these schemes? Have the staff numbers in the Taxation
Office been increased sufficiently to cope with the extra work load?
- Senator Lewis asked whether there has been a substantial increase in tax avoidance devices. My understanding is that that is so, and that it has emerged over the past five or six years and has accelerated. He also asked whether that meant an extra work load for taxation officers. The answer to that is yes. The Government is concerned that it should put a stop to those tax avoidance schemes and is taking steps to do so. The Government is aware that for years, before it came to office, such tax avoidance was allowed to run without restraint. I am aware that the staff has been increased but whether it has been increased in sufficient numbers I do not know. I will seek that information.
– I ask this question on behalf of my colleague, Senator Robertson, who is otherwise engaged on parliamentary duty in another part of the House. The question, which is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Transport, is: Have plans been finalised for the relocation of the civil airport terminal at Darwin? If so, will the Minister indicate whether these will be made available for public inspection and comment and also when it is proposed that construction should commence? Mr President, you will not mark that down as a question against me, will you?
– I support Senator McAuliffe because he is not even going to get an answer from me. I will refer the matters he has raised to the Minister for Transport and seek an answer for him.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs. I refer to the article which appeared in the Melbourne Age newspaper of 12 September 1978 alleging that the Indonesian Government had refused Mr Adnan Buyung Nasution an exit visa to come to Australia for the International Bar Association conference. Can the Minister confirm that Mr Nasution, who holds the International Legal Aid Association’s Award of Merit, was in fact refused an exit visa? Was the conference thereby debarred from hearing a paper from this foremost Indonesian defender of civil liberties? If so, did the Minister on behalf of the Commonwealth Government protest to the Indonesian authorities about this unfortunate ban? Will the Minister make representations to the Indonesian Government to ensure that Mr
Nasution ‘s right of free movement under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is safeguarded?
– I am aware of Press reports that the Indonesian authorities refused to grant an exit visa to Mr Nasution to attend the International Bar Association conference recently held in Sydney. The Australian Embassy in Jakarta has already been approached to seek confirmation of these reports and to provide further details. As soon as further information becomes available on this matter I will inform the Senate.
– I address a question to the Minister representing the Treasurer. I refer to a report in today’s Australian Financial Review which states that the Treasurer, Mr Howard, said yesterday that the Primary Industry Bank would open today for business. The Minister will recall that last Wednesday I asked him what rate of interest the bank was intending to charge. I now ask the Minister: Has the bank opened for business today without the Government knowing the rate of interest it will charge?
– Before the end of Question Time, if possible, I will give an answer to both questions asked by Senator McLaren. I regret that we have not responded on the question of interest rates before.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Education. In view of the current concern about progress in Aboriginal advancement, particularly in the field of education in the Northern Territory, can the Minister inform the Senate of recent initiatives in education taken by the Government in the Territory?
– Quite a considerable number of significant initiatives have been taken by the Government in the Northern Territory. For example, with regard to the Northern Territory Consultative Group on Aboriginal Education, funds have been provided for 1978-79 to support the operation of such a group which will provide advice on the provision of education for Aborigines in the Territory. One of the issues to be given early attention is Aboriginal teacher training. A second initiative is the Training Resources Co-ordinating Committee of the Northern Territory Further Education Council. The Government has recognised the need to give greater attention to the planning and development of Aboriginal vocational training. Thirdly, there is the development of the Ti-Tree educational complex. This complex north of Alice Springs has been developed as a centre for Aboriginal teacher training and adult education. I hope to visit that area at the weekend. Fourthly, as a result of demand from Aboriginal communities, the concept of providing teacher training for Aboriginal teaching assistants in their home communities, first tried at Yirrkala, is being extended to Elcho Island and Bathurst Island. Fifthly, and interestingly, the first Aboriginal school principal, Mr Kevin Rogers, has been appointed in an acting capacity at Roper River. Sixthly, the Department of Education has assumed responsibility from the Department of Aboriginal Affairs for providing capital assistance to Northern Territory mission schools. The Department is also responsible for assisting the overall development of mission schools activities as an integrated part of their education system.
-Mr President, in view of the fact that there is now a notice of motion on the Notice Paper referring to your statement on House security, will you ask the police to desist from searching people as they enter the gallery until such time as the matter has been debated by the Senate?
– I appreciate the inquiry of the honourable senator but responsibility for security rests with me and with Mr Speaker. We feel that the measures we have instituted are necessary for the protection of staff and members of Parliament. I will not ask for their abolition because I feel that they are necessary in the interests of all who come into this place.
-Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. Whereas I do not in any way question your right under the traditions of the Parliament to be responsible for the security and privileges of this place I put it to you that the method by which you impose such security should be a matter for this House to decide, especially when the welfare and the position of constituents are concerned?
– The consideration Mr Speaker and I give to this whole matter is activated by our best desires to ensure the safety of personnel in this place. We have authority for this matter and we accept it. I trust that the implementation of those measures has been done with the least possible intrusion on the freedom of individuals. I am most conscious of this aspect. It could be that by experience we can improve on the details of the measures which we honestly feel essential and which must be carried out by us. With every respect I say that, because that is how I feel.
-Has the Minister representing the Minister for National Development seen reports of another natural gas find of some 200,000 cubic metres per day in the Cooper Basin which is regarded as a new field of great potential? Is he also aware that it has been officially reported today that Strzelecki well No. 3, some 32 miles southeast of Moomba in South Australia, has flowed oil of 44 degrees specific gravity at the rate of some 2,400 barrels per day and that the exploration companies have also stated that they have not as yet reached basement rock, which is also very important? Will these new and important discoveries not further upgrade the proved and collective reserves of the Cooper Basin? Does not this new find in liquids add weight to the argument in favour of the establishment of a petrochemical plant at Redcliff in South Australia? The latest find of liquids at Strzelecki No. 3 would not require a liquids pipeline, unless other liquids in the various areas of Moomba could also be collected and transmitted to a petrochemical liquids plant. Will these liquids probably lay unutilised for many years unless they are converted to petrochemicals?
– The announcements of new gas and oil discoveries are most welcome and important. These announcements, following the announcement of a further oil discovery in Bass Strait, are particularly heartening. However, I am informed that the companies have cautioned that further drilling tests are needed before the extent of these gas reserves can be fully evaluated. I think that it is too early for me or the Minister I represent to make any definitive statement at this stage in relation to that matter or the other matters which are raised by Senator Young’s question. I will draw the attention of the Minister for National Development to the second part of Senator Young’s question. I am sure that this is a matter which he has very clearly in his mind and these new discoveries clearly have a bearing on it.
– My question is directed to the Attorney-General. In view of the assertions made by Mr Richard Hall in a new publication called The Secret State- specifically those that allege that the KGB and other foreign intelligence organisations have infiltrated Australian intelligence organisations- will the Government consider establishing a confidential joint party parliamentary committee to review the activities and staffing of all Australian intelligence organisations along similar lines to the current practice in the United States of America?
-The question asked by Senator Sibraa concerns the establishment of a parliamentary committee in relation to security matters. The position is that the Labor Government, of which Senator Sibraa was a supporter, established a royal commission into security. It was presided over by Mr Justice Hope, who made a large number of recommendations after a very exhaustive examination of the Australian security system. Last year the Prime Minister announced the acceptance of Mr Justice Hope’s recommendations and foreshadowed the intentions of the Government in regard to implementing the recommendations. I am at the moment and have been for some time in the process of drafting legislation which will give effect to them, and in the decisions the Government has taken in that regard it has not included any question of establishing a parliamentary committee to oversee the security organisations. No doubt there will be ample opportunity later in this session for the Senate and the other place to debate the Government’s proposals and measures in this regard.
– I ask a question of the Minister representing the Minister for Post and Telecommunications. I preface it by saying that I have noted advertisements in certain mainland newspapers today for people to invest in a Telecom loan, for which purpose STD calls to Telecom are free of charge. As it appears technically possible, and as many people live in areas which are away from Government departments, will the Minister request the Minister for Post and Telecommunications to examine the feasibility of allowing persons who live in remote areas to telephone Government departments for the charge of a local call? Does the Minister agree that such a facility may help a great many people?
– I am aware that people in remote areas feel that one of the major burdens that they carry is the additional costs that they suffer in telephoning government departments, not only in capital cities but also often in their own local centres. I know that this matter has received a lot of attention from Telecom Australia and is one which frequently has been brought to the attention of the Government. I will refer the matter raised by the honourable senator to Mr Staley and ask him to seek the views of Telecom on that proposal.
– The Minister representing the Treasurer will recall the social and industrial unrest midway through this year caused by the threat of increased taxation on subsidised housing provided for rural and mining workers and salary earners outside major metropolitan areas. I ask: What is the present status of any direction to the Commissioner of Taxation on this matter? Can the Minister indicate the stage at which the Government inquiry into this matter has reached? Can the decentralised rural and mining communities of Tasmania especially expect a favourable yet equitable Government decision in the near future?
– I will seek the specific information and let the honourable senator know.
– My question is a reiteration of what I asked the Attorney-General last Thursday. How effectively is his Department meshing with the Department of Foreign Affairs to flush out the large number of people in possession of false passports? I am not overlooking Miss Biggs of Melbourne.
-I recall Senator Mulvihill asking a question in relation to this matter and I said I would endeavour to ascertain the procedures. I have not yet been fully briefed in relation to it. I hope to be able to get an answer for him.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Home Affairs. Following the Budget, can the Minister indicate what services are to be provided by the National Library of Australia for handicapped people?
– The background to this matter goes back over a number of years and includes advisory committee work dating back to, I think, 1976. My understanding is that the Library will seek in this year to recruit and apply staff to the performance of the tasks that were identified by a recent national consultative seminar held on library services for the handicapped. The cost is expected to reach about $100,000 in 1978-79. The tasks to be undertaken by the Library will complement the existing services of independent agencies throughout Australia and they will result, I understand, in increased opportunities for co-operation, a greater use of materials and by reducing duplication of effort, a greater number of books becoming available to the handicapped. The Library expects to receive the report of its working party on services for the handicapped by the end of the year. It will then be in a position to review its program in the light of the findings of that group.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs: Given the amount of corruption among the military and others in Indonesia, what guarantee can the Government give the Australian people that the $250,000 donated to Indonesia for the relief of the Timorese people actually will reach those people, many of whom are reported to be in concentration camps?
– I make no comment on the first part of Senator Primmer ‘s question. I assume in the absence of any firm evidence that there is not a great deal of corruption. But having said that -
– How much?
-Well, if Opposition senators think it is sporting to deride the national and individual character of our nearest neighbour, our friendly neighbour, let them do so in their ignorance and to their peril. I prefer an old fashioned view, and that is to assume that our friends hold at least as high a principle as we hold. Perhaps that is the Opposition’s test. But having said that, the Commonwealth Government will be eager to ensure that the money made available for aid to Timor is used for proper purposes. There is no doubt at all that our Ambassador and his staff will ensure that proper supervision is provided in that regard.
– I preface my question by informing the Minister for Education that the newly elected president of the student body at Sydney University is being prevented from carrying out his duties by students who are opposed to him. Will the Minister state the view of the Government as to the desirable standards of operation of democratic procedures and processes on campuses in Australia? Will he indicate to the Senate where the responsibility lies in this country for ensuring that those people who are elected to office in universities can in fact do the jobs which they are elected to do?
– Remember 1975.
– From the interjection of a Labor Party senator, I take it that the Labor Party is in favour of locking out a duly elected representative from his rightful access. Having established that point quite clearly, because the two questions that run together present an interesting moral and ethical viewpoint of the Opposition, I state that I read in the Press a report that the leader of the students’ representative council has been denied his right to access to property and accommodation. Assuming that that report is true, I state that the responsibility for the conduct of student affairs quite apart from academic affairs, that is, for their sporting, recreational and socio-political activities, is wholly that of the senate of the university concerned. The university is an independent body under statute. It is given self-governance for one purpose, not as an end in itself, but as a means to protect academic freedom. That independence does not allow it to disregard the ordinary processes of law; it has a high responsibility to observe those processes. Therefore, I would imagine that the senate of the university concerned, assuming the facts are correct, will be interested to uphold the ordinances and governances concerned. I will look at the question asked by Senator Baume and in fact make some inquiries of the institution concerned.
– My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Treasurer. I seek some enlightenment about statements that have come out at various times from him and other Ministers claiming that the rate of inflation fell considerably last year and will continue to fall throughout this financial year and the statement made by the Deputy Prime Minister in the House of Representatives on 14 September, when he said:
Keeping the Budget deficit down is the only way in which to beat inflation. An increased Budget deficit would inevitably mean a rise in inflation.
I ask the Minister whether he agrees with Mr Anthony on that matter and, if so, whether he can explain why last year’s deficit, which was $ 1,100m above the estimate and $500m above the deficit for the year before, is not pushing inflation up, as Mr Anthony said that it inevitably would?
– Those people who have even an elementary knowledge of economics would know that the increase in last year’s deficit did not arise from an increase in expenditure which would in fact have been an element of inflation; on the contrary, it arose from a reduction in what had been the estimate of collections of revenue. Indeed it arose from a number of matters that were in fact anti-inflationary in themselves. So there can be no such parallel. Those people who understand anything about the economics of inflation will know that it is not only the size but also the management of the deficit which is important and that if a deficit is financed substantially out of ordinary treasury bills, that is, by printing money, it is inflationary.
The capacity of the Government to keep down the deficit so that it is of a size that can be very substantially managed by borrowing, particularly from the non-bank sector, and therefore not by increasing the amount of expenditure in the community, is a major measure of its success. I do not think that one can answer these questions simplistically. The fact is that the management of the deficit is a subject that has been canvassed here many times. I have simply touched upon certain of its elements.
– I wish to ask a supplementary question, Mr President. From the early part of the Minister’s answer, in which he pointed out that the deficit had increased because of shortfalls in revenue and not increases in government expenditure, I assume that he argues that it is the magnitude of government spending which might be inflationary rather than a deficit adding to the money supply. If he was arguing that in the first part of his answer, how does he reconcile that with the second part of his answer, which was based upon the additions to the money supply which might or might not arise from the deficit? Finally, is he telling us that the Deputy Prime Minister does not know what he is talking about and is just behaving in a simplistic and ignorant way?
– By the very confusion of Senator Walsh’s questions, he really does not deserve an answer. The answer to his third question is self-evident. Quite clearly, it is Senator Walsh and nobody else who does not understand the Deputy Prime Minister, but then that is not an unusual state. As to two aspects of his question, yes, I said that the increase in the deficit arose largely from a shortfall in revenue. It arose not only from a shortfall in revenue from income tax- I think by way of the returns of payments of pay-as-you-earn taxation- but also from an over-estimate of customs import duties. I thought that one would have been happy about that because that suggests that more goods are being manufactured in Australia and fewer are being imported. That ought to have been a matter of joy rather than of misery to Senator Walsh.
What I did say was that if one increases the volume of money by simply printing money rather than by backing it by a similar withdrawal of money from the non-bank borrowing sector, one is in danger of creating considerable inflation.
– Is the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Resources aware of the reported successful operation of the technical help to exporters scheme available to New Zealand exporters, which allows exporters to tap research and advisory services in more than 80 countries? Can the Minister advise or ascertain whether the Department of Trade and Resources has investigated the scheme and, if so, whether such a scheme is seen to have advantages for Australian exporters and potential exporters?
– I will refer that question to the Minister for Trade and Resources to ascertain from him whether he is aware of or has investigated this scheme and what benefits might be derived from it. I will hope to receive an early answer from him.
-Is the Leader of the Government in the Senate aware of a letter from the Tasmanian Premier to the Prime Minister concerning the equalisation or possible equalisation payments to Tasmania should the Tasmanian Government introduce a State income tax? I ask the Leader of the Government: Should Tasmania have to take that step of introducing State income tax, how much in the dollar would the Tasmanian Government receive from the Federal Government by way of topping up as agreed under the Stage 2 arrangements of the Federal Government’s federalism policy? If it is only 1 lc in the dollar, as I understand the Premier has said it is, is it not apparent that no Tasmanian Government, regardless of its political colour, could hope to obtain the benefits from the scheme which the scheme allegedly gives to a State government?
– I have not seen the letter from the Tasmanian Premier, presumably to the Prime Minister or the Treasurer, asking questions about equalisation, to which Senator Wriedt referred. Therefore, of course, I do not know the substance of such a letter. Although I am no longer the Minister Assisting the Prime Minister in Federal Affairs, my understanding is that the equalisation would be on a formula that the Commonwealth Grants Commission devises. If that is so and my recollection is right, I take it that Senator Wriedt does not challenge that such a formula would be an equitable formula and would be worth while. I take it that that is so. I am not aware whether the formula would be 1 lc or so in the dollar. I am aware that for virtually every dollar by way of return under tax sharing that, say, Victoria and New South Wales get, Tasmania on a per capita basis gets a bit over $2. So I imagine that Tasmania gets a good bargain in the equalisation.
– I ask a supplementary question. I realise that Senator Carrick is not now the Minister Assisting the Prime Minister in Federal Affairs but he was until very recently and he was certainly so when the arrangements were drawn up with the State Premiers. The question of Commonwealth compensation to the mendicant States or the smaller States in comparison with New South Wales and Victoria is not the issue we are concerned about under Stage 2 of the federalism policy and I think the Minister will recognise that. I am asking whether it is a fact that the Federal Government has enacted legislation which means that any State government is at liberty now to introduce parallel legislation and therefore a State income tax? Is the Minister saying that the Government has neither calculated nor asked the Commonwealth Grants Commission to calculate the equalisation payments that will be made to any State government? Would any State government be completely in the dark at this stage as to what its equalisation payments would be if it proceeded to introduce a State income tax?
– It is a fact that the Commonwealth Government has enacted legislation in respect to Stage 2 of its federalism policy under which a State may, if it wishes, introduce a tax rebate, as the State Opposition in New South Wales has indicated it would do, or impose a tax surcharge, as presumably some Labor government is calculating to do. I am not saying anything as to the second question because I did not say or imply that in my reply to the question. I will seek from the Treasurer information as to whether the calculations as to what the equalisation payments would be have been done precisely. If they are available I will let Senator Wriedt know.
– My question, which is directed to the Minister representing the Prime Minister, concerns Public Service accounting. Will the Government give consideration to classifying costs on a functional basis where practicable in the accounts of the departments under Public Service Board control to conform with modern, accepted accounting standards?
-Senator Watson raises an interesting question. I am not aware whether real consideration is being given to that matter at this moment. In any case, I will direct his suggestion to the attention of the Treasurer and get a response from him.
– My question, which is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Health, refers to the future of Medibank staff. The Minister will be aware that last week the State managers of Medibank met to consider a report from the Health Insurance Commission in respect of the options which would be available in the campaign to influence people to remain with Medibank. She will also be aware that the question of staff retrenchments was considered. I ask the Minister whether any consideration has been given to retaining the staff presently under notice until the results of the campaign to attract extra business are known and so circumvent the need to sack staff.
– I would need to refer that matter to the Minister for Health. The latest information I have from him is a Press release of Tuesday, 19 September, but I hesitate to give that information to Senator Bishop in case further developments have occurred since the Press statement was released. I will refer the question to the Minister for Health for his advice.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Prime Minister. Following publication of the family services report, has the Federal Government, as the largest single employer in the nation, been able to increase opportunity of employment by the use of flexible working hours to enable parents, particularly lone parents, to combine as a choice work and caring for their children?
-My advice is that at the present time staff working under the Public Service Act in all departments may work flexible hours unless the particular nature of their employment requires them to be on duty at set times. While no detailed information is available in regard to non-Public Service Act staff, it is understood that flexible working hours are generally available where circumstances permit. I am advised also that the Public Service Board has concluded from its studies that the benefits both to staff and management of flexible working hours well outweigh the disadvantages. The Government supports, where practicable and without detriment to the public, the extension of flexible working hours. It recognises that such hours can be of particular value to people whose circumstances require them both to work and, in particular, to care for children.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Treasurer in which I seek more clarity of the answer Senator Guilfoyle gave to a question asked earlier by Senator Grimes. The Treasurer today announced at Question Time in the other place that the Government has now decided not to proceed with taxation of the items listed on page 22 of the Budget Speech. Will those items not to be taxed include Commonwealth post-graduate awards, rehabilitation training allowances, rehabilitation living-away-from-home allowances, incentive allowances (rehabilitation), invalid, pensions for persons under age pension age, sheltered employment allowances, repatriation service pensions on account of unemployability or tuberculosis, tuberculosis allowances, tuberculosis housekeeper allowances and the rebate for the maintenance of overseas dependants? Do I understand the position to be, as I gathered from Senator Guilfoyle ‘s reply, that any earnings of school children will not be taken into account in respect of family allowances?
– As I understand the answer given by the Treasurer in another place today, the decision relates to page 22 of the Budget Speech. On that page the following benefits are listed and, as I understand it from the Treasurer, these are now non-taxable: Rehabilitation training allowance, rehabilitation living-away-from-home allowance, incentive allowance (rehabilitation), invalid pension for persons under age pension age, sheltered employment allowance, repatriation service pension on account of unemployability or pulmonary tuberculosis for persons under age pension age, tuberculosis allowance for persons under age pension age and tuberculosis housekeeper allowance. Those are the benefits which are subject to the Treasurer’s statement. Senator Guilfoyle has given an answer with regard to family allowances. My understanding is that in essence she made it clear that the position with regard to the allowances will revert to the preBudget situation. I am not the responsible Minister and I would direct Senator Cavanagh ‘s attention to the answer given by Senator Guilfoyle.
– I direct a supplementary question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Do I understand correctly that the proposal to tax Commonwealth post-graduate awards or to withdraw rebates for the maintenance of overseas dependants which are dealt with on page 22 of the Budget Speech is not to be pursued in the light of this new decision?
– As I understand it, the information that I have given includes the pensions that are subject to the new decision.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for National Development and I refer to the Press statement of 20 September which sets out details of Commonwealth assistance for water resources and which includes a drainage rehabilitation scheme in South Australia. I refer also to the announcement of the South Australian Minister for Works in relation to a South Australian program. Is the Minister aware that salinity of the River Murray is over the World Health Organisation level for some 25 per cent of the time and that this will double within the next few years? Is he also aware that the present management of the river is costing South Australia between $4m and $5m per annum in relation to salinity control and that this amount is expected to double? I ask the Minister: How much longer will Australia’s major river system continue to be looked after in piecemeal fashion by four State governments and other local authorities? Will he refer to the Government for further examination the recommendation of the Senate Select Committee on Water Pollution that there should be a national water authority?
- Senator Davidson has asked a series of questions, some of which require some technical knowledge to answer. Although naturally I have some general knowledge of these matters, I think in wisdom that I should refer them to the Minister for National Development and ask him to provide a detailed answer.
– My question is directed to the Attorney-General and concerns legal aid. Is it the case that the means test requirements now being applied by the Australian Legal Aid Office are so stringent that persons whose only income is a Commonwealth pension or benefit are now regularly being denied ALAO assistance? Is it also the case that, notwithstanding this state of affairs, ALAO offices around the country remain desperately short of funds? In the case of Victoria, for example, the allocation for September in fact ran out by the 14th of the month and by the end of this month the Victorian office will have earmarked, if not actually spent, the whole of its October allocation and a proportion of its November allocation as well. Is it further the case that one of the major drains on funds has proved to be the separate representation of children in Family Court proceedings, as directed by judges of that court in the exercise of their powers under the Family Law Act? If the answer to any of those questions is in the affirmative, I ask: What steps, if any, is the Government proposing to remedy urgently this financial crisis? Will the reduction of lawyers’ fees by a further 5 per cent or 10 per cent, as proposed recently by the Attorney-General, make any significant difference to the overall dimensions of the financial crisis? At the very least, will the Government consider making an urgent separate allocation of funds to cover the Family Law Act cases to which I have referred specifically?
– We hear a great deal of complaint about the length of answers by Ministers, Mr President, but perhaps you and the Opposition should have regard to the length of questions being asked. That question was more a statement than a question, although it did raise a number of important matters. However, it is very difficult to give detailed answers to questions that are couched in that form. I have been concerned for some time about the administration of the means test for legal aid. The provision for legal aid in the present Budget, although a quite notable increase over the previous year in money terms, unfortunately does not provide for any increase in the delivery of legal aid to individuals because we are paying accounts that were incurred in previous years. I have been endeavouring to look at ways and means of making a more equitable distribution of the funds the Government has been able to make available for legal aid in the current year.
It is a fact that under the existing guidelines and the means test applied some pensioners who have no other income and who do not pay something substantial such as rent are not able to bring themselves within the guidelines. That is a matter which concerns me a good deal. There has also been a problem in some States where the commitment level in a particular month has been met before the end of the month. This is not new. I do not know specifically what happened in Victoria this month, as mentioned by Senator Evans, but I will certainly investigate the matter. This is not a new or an unusual problem. It is one with which we have been coping for several months at certain times and in certain places.
I have been investigating this matter. I have proposed to the legal profession one of the ways in which the legal aid dollar could go further. That proposal has not been accepted by the Law Council and the presidents of its constituent bodies. However, that is only one of a number of measures that I am considering. I have not yet made any final determination of the way in which the means test and the guidelines could be altered, but I hope to be able to make a decision in relation to that matter in the near future. Of course, as soon as that decision is made, I will be making a public statement.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Post and Telecommunications whether he is aware of the near impossibility of handicapped people, particularly those confined to wheelchairs, being able to use public telephones because of the width of the doors of the telephone boxes and the height at which the telephones are installed. Will the Minister give serious consideration to increasing the width of the doors and lowering the telephones, particularly those telephones at post offices and other places where there are a number of telephone boxes, so that handicapped people can at least have the use of these public facilities?
- Senator Bonner raises a matter which is important and which I think should receive sympathetic consideration. I think there is growing awareness of the need to ensure that handicapped people have access to public facilities generally. My own experience is that the telephones are often not suitable for use by handicapped people. I shall refer the matter to the Minister with the suggestion that he urge Telecom Australia to take action on it.
– My question, which is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Post and Telecommunications, refers to an announcement by the Minister for Post and Telecommunications that Mr Harold Cottee is to be appointed Commissioner of the Overseas Telecommunications Commission. I ask the Minister: Is this the same Mr Cottee who, as Chairman of Metro West Broadcasters, was twice the unsuccessful applicant for a commercial radio licence for Sydney’s western suburbs last year? Is Mr
Cottee ‘s appointment to the Overseas Telecommunications Commission an attempt by the Government to avoid a second High Court injunction being lodged by Mr Cottee against the granting of this licence to another applicant?
-With respect to the latter part of the question, I can only say that it sounds highly unlikely. However, I will refer the question to the Minister and seek a reply.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Administrative Services. I refer to the responsibilities of the Commonwealth Police in comparison with the responsibilities of State police forces with regard to activities occurring on Commonwealth premises or Commonwealth land in one of the States of Australia. I refer in particular to the railway lines and railway stations of the Commonwealth Railways which interlace many areas of the States. Does the Minister agree that State Police do have responsibility properly to intervene to prevent a public disturbance or a criminal act on Commonwealth land in a State?
– This is a matter on which I do not have detailed knowledge, but I understand that Commonwealth Police certainly do have jurisdiction in the areas that Senator Teague has mentioned. It was not my understanding, however, that that jurisdiction was exclusive. I will have to check that point and take it up again with the honourable senator.
– I direct my question to the Minister representing the Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs. Is he aware that the Food Industry Council of Australia has requested that the draft report of the Industries Assistance Commission on the Australian sugar industry be released for public scrutiny? Can he say why the report is under double wraps? Is this the first occasion that such a report has not been made public? Is the Government suggesting that the guidelines previously adopted for the IAC not to release reports because there might be the prospect of financial gain apply in this instance?
– I answered a question asked by Senator McAuliffe the other day about the draft report of the Industries Assistance Commission on the sugar industry. I gave a detailed answer about that matter. I think it was more or less the same question that Senator Gietzelt has asked. I refer him and the Senate to the answer I gave then. However, if some other aspects of the question asked by Senator Gietzelt have not been included in the previous answer I will certainly have them looked at to see whether I can deal with them as well.
– My question which is directed to the Attorney-General relates to section 260 of the Income Tax Assessment Act and tax avoidance schemes. Does the AttorneyGeneral agree that one of the Government’s problems with tax avoidance schemes is the interpretation by the High Court of Australia of section 260 of the Income Tax Assessment Act? Will the Government consider amending section 260 in an attempt to catch more of the current tax avoidance schemes?
– The Government is making a very wide-ranging and continuing investigation and study of tax avoidance schemes. Already the Treasurer has made a number of announcements. We have already passed legislation about these matters. This is an on-going exercise by the Government. Certainly, in the course of this exercise the question of section 260 and amendments to it is being considered. However, a major problem is presented by the interpretation of that section by the High Court. It is a very technical and very difficult section. I cannot indicate- it is a matter for the Treasurerwhat steps the Government may take in regard to this matter.
– Did the Minister for Social Security approve new arrangements whereby householders and Post Office employees are forbidden to redirect mail and cheques going to the unemployed from the Department of Social Security? Are employees forbidden to hold such mail at post offices for collection? What precedents are there for this infringement of personal rights? Is the Minister not concerned that this will disadvantage unemployed persons moving around the country in search of seasonal work and those, who, through no fault of their own, are without a settled address?
– Any arrangements that may have been made by my Department on this matter have not been referred to me. I will check with the Director-General of Social Security to see whether what has been stated is correct and I will consider the matter that has been raised.
– I direct my question to the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs. The Australian media has drawn considerable attention to the plight of some 1,200 refugees on the ship Southern Cross who have been given temporary refuge by the Indonesian Government on an island within Indonesia. In view of the suffering and continuing poor conditions in which these refugees exist, will the Australian Government take firm action to alleviate their distress and give a lead to other nations to assist their resettlement.
– I am seeking information on this matter from the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs but I have not had any response from him. I am unable to advise the honourable senator on the matters he has raised but I will see that an early answer is given to him.
-Earlier in the day Senator McLaren asked me a question about the Primary Industry Bank. That question was based, I think, on the assumption that the Bank had opened for business today. I am informed that it is not yet open for business. I direct Senator McLaren’s attention to a statement put out by the Treasurer on 2 1 September relating to the issue of a banking authority to the Primary Industry Bank of Australia. That statement set 22 September as the date on which Pan III of the Primary Industry Bank Act will come into operation. In that statement the Treasurer added that an announcement would be made shortly concerning the Primary Industry Bank’s operational arrangements, including the opening date and the interest rates. As soon as I have further information I will let the honourable senator know.
– A few minutes ago Senator Teague asked me a question about the position of Commonwealth police and State police with respect to State railway systems which are owned by the Commonwealth. I am now able to confirm that the position is as I thought it was, namely, that Commonwealth police may enforce all Commonwealth and State-made laws in Commonwealth places. State police also can enforce Commonwealth made laws anywhere in their States, including Commonwealth places. Senator Teague would probably know that the Mark report addressed itself to the problem of competing jurisdictions and that report is at present under study by the Government. No doubt legislation on that will be coming forward if not this year then early next year.
Assent to the following Bills reported:
Nitrogenous Fertilizers Subsidy Amendment Bill 1 978.
States Grants (Home Care) Amendment Bill 1978.
– For the information of honourable senators I present a report by the Australian Science and Technology Council entitled ‘Science and Technology in Australia 1977-78 ‘.volume lA.
– For the information of honourable senators I present the report of the Australian delegation to the third United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea, seventh session, Geneva, 28 March to 19 May 1978.
– For the information of honourable senators I present the report of the Aboriginal Land Commissioner on the Warlpiri and Kartangarurru-Kurintji land claim together with the text of a statement by the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs (Mr Viner) relating to the report.
– For the information of honourable senators I present an interim statement of the activities of the Australian Egg Board for the year ended 30 June 1978.
-by leave- I move:
I want to take a couple of minutes of the time of the Senate to make some remarks on the report. Firstly, I would like the Senate to note that for the first time ever the interim report of the Australian Egg Board has been signed by a Mr Ray Fuge. 1 would like to say a few words about Mr Ray Fuge who is the new Chairman of the Board. Ray Fuge is well respected in the poultry industry in South Australia. I have known Ray for many years. Ray first took up an official position in the poultry industry when he was appointed as a regional poultry adviser at Murray Bridge in South Australia a great number of years ago. He progressed from there to be the Chief Poultry Adviser in South Australia, thence to be Chairman of the South Australian Egg Board. I am very pleased to see from reading this report that Ray is now the Chairman of the Australian Egg Board. I am quite sure that all the commercial poultry farmers in South Australia would join with me in offering congratulations to Ray Fuge on his elevation to this high position.
Ray Fuge is a man of great expertise in the poultry industry. Everybody engaged in the industry in South Australia for a great number of years has been very appreciative of the work that
Ray has put in to bring some stability to it, not only in South Australia but throughout Australia. I am sure that he is going to serve the commercial egg producers throughout this continent very well indeed during his term of office. I would like, on behalf of all South Australians, to offer my congratulations to Ray Fuze on his appointment.
I also would ask the people who have some doubts as to some of the publicity that is given to the egg producers and the industry itself in the Press in recent days to take it upon themselves to get a copy of this report and to read it thoroughly. I am sure that their minds will be put at rest if they read this report and see what happens to the surplus eggs which are produced in this country, the way they are disposed of and the problems that do exist in this regard. I hope that this report will be distributed widely, not only among commercial egg producers but also among many consumers who do have some areas of doubt in their minds as to the capabilities of the people who are appointed to these positions to carry out the job in the best possible manner. I seek leave to continue my remarks.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
– Pursuant to section 24 of the National Capital Development Commission Act 1957 I present the annual report of the National Capital Development Commission for the year ended 30 June 1978.
– For the information of honourable senators I present the annual report of the Commonwealth Fire Board for the year ended 30 June 1 978.
– by leave- Honourable senators will be aware that the seven Heads of State and Heads of Government who attended the Economic Summit Meeting in Bonn in July issued a statement on terrorism on 17 July 1978. The English version of that statement reads as follows:
The Heads of State and Government, concerned about terrorism and the taking of hostages, declare that their Governments will intensify their joint efforts to combat international terrorism. To this end, in cases where a country refuses extradition or prosecution of those who have hijacked an aircraft and/or do not return such aircraft, the Heads of State and Government are jointly resolved that their Governments shall take immediate action to cease all flights to that country. At the same time, their Governments will initiate action to halt all incoming flights from that country, or from any country by the airlines of the country concerned.
They urge other Governments to join them in this commitment.
Australia welcomes this further constructive initiative to enhance the international cooperative efforts required to combat the menacing crime of hijacking- a direct threat to international civil aviation and against the lives and liberties of all air travellers. The Federal Republic of Germany has approached the Australian Government, on behalf of the seven states that participated in the Bonn Summit, seeking its support for the declaration. Similar approaches are being made to other countries on behalf of the Bonn Seven’. The Commonwealth Government strongly supports this constructive action against the threat of terrorism and agrees completely with the objectives of the declaration. We feel that those representatives who attended the Bonn Summit should be commended for taking this positive step.
Australia has a long-standing position of opposition to terrorism in all its manifestations. We have already ratified the three international conventions drawn up to encourage contracting states of the International Civil Aviation Organisation to take action against offenders for crimes committed on international aircraft and we earnestly hope that all contracting states will ultimately ratify or accede to those conventions. We have also supported other initiatives taken in the United Nations to combat all forms of international terrorism. Also, as honourable senators will recall, at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Regional meeting in Sydney last February the twelve Heads of Government present agreed to collaborate more closely to counter terrorism in our region.
Australian support of the Bonn declaration means that we consider ourselves committed to its objectives. Accordingly, we have responded to the request of the Federal Republic of Germany, as the representative of the seven governments which participated in the Bonn Summit, expressing the support of the Australian Government for the objectives of the declaration, and its willingness to co-operate in the attainment of those objectives.
– Very briefly, as one would expect, the Opposition naturally is in sympathy with the statement that has just been put down by the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Carrick). I am sure that all of us would support the Bonn declaration and the sentiments contained in it. I think we have all collectively deplored acts of terrorism wherever they have occurred, particularly as they affect the highjacking of aircraft. Once again, similar to a case last week, I think the Opposition is in complete harmony with the Government in its attitude towards an international matter. I think it can be said that in the implementation of any obligations that Australia may enter into in respect of this agreement, the Government would have the Opposition’s support. I seek leave to continue my remarks.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Motion (by Senator Carrick) agreed to:
That, unless otherwise ordered, Government Business Order of the Day No. 1, Departure Tax Bills, be postponed until after the consideration of Government Business Orders of the Day No. 3, Wheat Tax Amendment Bill 1978 and Wheat Research Amendment Bill 1978, and No. 2, Apple and Pear Stabilisation Bills.
Debate resumed from 20 September, on motion by Senator Webster:
That the Bills be now read a second time.
-The Wheat Tax Amendment Bill 1978 and the Wheat Research Amendment Bill 1978 are closely associated and therefore are being debated cognately. The purpose of the Wheat Research Amendment Bill is to make some minor changes in the administrative procedures under which Commonwealth moneys are provided for wheat research purposes. The purpose of the Wheat Tax Amendment Bill is to increase the maximum levy which might be imposed from the existing 1 5c a tonne to 30c a tonne, although it is anticipated that in at least the first year the actual levy struck will be 20c a tonne. The changes which are embodied in this legislation are in accordance with the requirements ofindeed, I understand they were originally recommended by- the Australian Wheatgrowers Federation. The various wheat research projects on which money is expended cover items such as soil fertility; fertiliser usage; cultural practices; the breeding of superior wheat varieties, which are superior principally in terms of their yield potential but also in terms of their disease resistance, which affects their yield; and the suitability- what is loosely called the quality- of the physical and chemical properties of the grains for the various end uses to which wheat might be put.
According to the second reading speech of the Minister for Science (Senator Webster), the total expenditure on wheat research in this financial year is expected to be some $3. 32m. To put that in some perspective, at current wheat prices that expenditure could be recovered by an increase in wheat yields throughout the country of around only 3 pounds per acre or, for those honourable senators who are metricated in round figures 3 kilos per hectare. The normal wheat yield in Australia is some 1,300 or 1,400 kilos per hectare, so only a miniscule increase in yield would be required to cover the current level of expenditure on wheat industry research.
If we look back at yield changes over the past 30 or 40 years- one cannot use precise figures here because it depends on what base period is claimed to be normal or, indeed, what normal yields are- we see that it is quite clear and unarguable that there has been a significant increase in average wheat yields in Australia from something like 0.9 tonnes per hectare to between 1.3 and 1.4 tonnes per hectare today. So in 30 or 40 years wheat yields have increased by somewhere near 50 per cent. People can argue about whether that is a precise figure as it depends upon what base period is chosen because, in the short term, wheat yields are very heavily affected by seasonal conditions. The figures I have cited demonstrate the increasing technical efficiency of the Australian wheat industry which, at least in part, it is a function of wheat industry research to achieve.
Galbraith noted in what is probaly his best known book- The Affluent Society- which I think was published way back in 1958, that industries which have a high rate of technical progress and a high level of technical efficiency and therefore frequently, but not necessarily always, have a high level of economic efficiency, are those industries in which a good deal of money is devoted to research and development expenditure. He made the further observation that such industries often consist of oligopolistic firms, as is the case in the motor industry in the United States of America, or I suppose anywhere else, where an individual firm, firstly, has a very large income which can fund significant research and development expenditure and, secondly, has a sufficiently large share of the total market to ensure that the firm will be a principal beneficiary of any technical progress which might result. In that situation cost reductions in that firm might result from such expenditure.
The second observation Galbraith made was that where that sort of oligopolistic industry structure does not apply a competitive market situation exists, with a vast number of producers, none of whom produces a significant proportion of the total output. Because the small firms cannot supply the funds and because they do not have the potential benefits that would induce them as individual firms to fund such research anyway it is necessary for a public body to intervene - and ‘public body’ means governments- to ensure that sufficient funds are spent on research and development in these industries which are characterised by a great number of small firms. That obviously fits the Australian wheat industry, which is made up of something like 40,000 commercial producers of whom perhaps only one or two would be able to raise sufficient funds on their own account to finance a significant research program and of whom none would obtain a significant proportion of the total benefit which would be derived from a successful research program.
As Galbraith identified, we have in the Australian wheat industry a situation where public bodies must of necessity intervene to ensure that sufficient money is spent on research and development. For just over 20 years Australian governments have apparently seen the merit of this argument and have funded wheat research firstly by imposing a compulsory levy upon the industry itself and secondly by matching the proceeds of that levy with a like amount of funds drawn from consolidated revenue. Incidentally, the Industries Assistance Commission in its general report on the funding of rural research also recommended that this was one area of government assistance to agriculture which was justified and to which government funding should be continued. If I remember correctly, the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Sinclair)- if not the Minister certainly some other members who spoke in the House of Representatives- noted that the Government was following the general viewpoint expressed by the IAC.
I would like to make one final point. My comment is indirectly related to research insofar as research is aimed at wheat breeding and the production of varieties of wheat with particular milling and baking characteristics. It is true that a variety of wheat which may be highly suitable for a particular end use. such as bread baking, might be quite unsuitable for another end use, such as the manufacture of biscuits. So it is difficult to generalise and to say that a particular wheat variety is very good and some other is very bad. That statement always has to be qualified by an indication of the intended end usage.
It is also true that the market price for various types of wheat is a variable factor. People who make recommendations on suitable varieties of wheat to grow and the manner in which the Australian wheat crop should be marketed are confronted with a somewhat difficult choice in recommending and in some cases virtually decreeing or dictating what particular wheat variety will be grown in different areas. I would like to see, so far as is possible, these recommendations incorporating the realities of the market place rather than the belief of some person, however well meaning he might be, associated with the industry. There are practical difficulties, of course, in pursuing that objective in that there are limitations on the numbers of different wheat grades which the Australian Wheat Board feasibly can market and the degree to which different varieties of wheat can be segregated in particular regions. If we look at the Western Australian experience over about the last 20 years we find that up until the late 1 960s the authorities responsible for recommending- there was no compulsionthe varieties of wheat to be grown in the State were strongly opposed to the production of wheat varieties other than those which, under suitable conditions anyway, were satisfactory for bread making whereas, I would have thought, it was always quite apparent that Western Australia, which consistently produced wheat of the lowest protein level of all the States, had an environment, at least in the southern region of the State, which was suitable for the production of biscuit wheat. Finally, the authorities in Western Australia reversed their thinking on this matter but then discovered that there was no suitable biscuit wheat variety and eventually recommended Glu Club, which was selected from Gluyas Early in, I think, 1914 and which, in terms of yield, was some 20 per cent below the varieties most commonly grown. That change of policy having been made, they could not produce a better wheat variety that Glu Club for that purpose. However, that situation has since changed.
The point I am making is that, so far as is possible, I would prefer the various authorities involved in the determination of policy for the Australian wheat industry- the State departments of agriculture, the Australian Wheat
Board, the research authorities and so on- to allow the growers to grow what variety they like in particular regions, subject to the price discipline of the market place, which in this instance is, I think, likely to be more effective and more rational- in fact, if the market place is working properly in this context it could not be more rational- than the particular beliefs which some people associated with the industry might have. The Opposition is not opposing either of these Bills. Indeed, I think I could safely say that it welcomes them.
– As a member of the Government, I thank the Opposition for supporting these Bills. I did not expect its attitude to be otherwise. I would also congratulate Senator Walsh on a most enlightening address. The honourable senator expressed to the Senate many interesting points of view that I support, but I was quite surprised by some of the points that were expressed by the honourable senator, who is in fact the Opposition spokesman on rural matters.
The Senate is debating cognately the Wheat Tax Amendment Bill and the Wheat Research Amendment Bill. The purpose of this legislation, as Senator Walsh mentioned, is to increase the maximum rate of tax to be paid by wheat growers from 1 5c per tonne to 30c per tonne. The purpose of obtaining this money is to finance research into wheat and relevant matters. The introduction of this legislation follows a request from the Australian Wheatgrowers Federation. The Industries Assistance Commission recommended in 1 976 that government support for research in the wheat industry be on a dollar for dollar basis and this government decision follows that recommendation.
I must make it clear that the Bills are not designed to increase the level of tax to be imposed on wheat growers but to make provision for that tax if it is considered necessary. As Senator Walsh said, the 15c per tonne that is extracted now from the wheat producers possibly will increase to about 20c per tonne fairly soon. This is another example of a very great rural industry in Australia assisting itself. The people responsible are to be congratulated for the attitude they have taken. It is so prevalent these days, and it is becoming increasingly prevalent, for industries to rush to government for assistance. It is terribly encouraging to see that this measure has the full support of the Wheatgrowers Federation. The amount of money that has been deposited by the industry and government since the two principal Acts were introduced in 1957 is worth noting: Wheat growers have contributed $ 16,2 16,000 to the scheme in the 20 years it has operated. The Commonwealth has contributed $14,837,000. The interest derived from the investment of that money has amounted to over $ 1 m. When the old Wheat Acquisition Act 1958 was amended, the residue from the fund amounted to $569,000. The total funding under these two Acts was $32,851,000. That is a considerable amount of money. The wheat industry is an important industry. As Senator Walsh said, the fund provides the money for research into very important matters associated with wheat production- to increase the yields, to increase the quality of wheat, to increase the number of varieties available for different areas to make sure that they are relevant to the type of environment in which wheat is being grown, work on disease control and also work on weed control.
I want to spend a short time discussing what I regard as a terribly significant report. I refer to the report on wheat stabilisation by the Industries Assistance Commission which was released in June 1978. I wish to read out the recommendations- they are not all that longwhich are contained on page 67 of the report. Under the heading of ‘Stabilization’ it is stated:
The Industries Assistance Commission recommends that for seasons after the 1978-79 season Commonwealth Government assistance be provided to wheatgrowers for a limited period when market realizations fall to levels which are low in relation to the recent past.
The Commission recommends that: such assistance be triggered in those years when the Australian Wheat Board pool return falls below 70 per cent of the average of the two lowest returns (expressed in current value terms) in the preceding five years; the Commonwealth Government commitment be the difference between the estimated average pool return and 70 per cent of the average of the two lowest pool returns (expressed in current value terms) in the preceding five years; and such assistance be paid on deliveries of wheat irrespective of grade to the Australian Wheat Board and other licensed traders, and be paid early in the relevant season.
The assistance outlined above is not designed to cope with all general problems or all individual stress. Supplementary assistance may be shown to be warranted, after scrutiny of the particular circumstances of stress prevailing at the time.
The Commission recommends that: the traditional form of stabilization of wheat returns as embodied in the Wheat Industry Stabilization Act 1974 be discontinued; outstanding monies in the Wheat Prices Stabilization Fund be returned to contributing wheatgrowers; and no further contribution from wheatgrowers be required for the duration of the current wheat stabilization plan, nor for arrangements applying after the 1 978-79 season.
Under the heading of ‘marketing’ it is stated:
The Commission recommends that: control over export wheat, flour and sharps be specifically vested in the Australian Wheat Board; private traders be permitted to purchase and sell wheat on domestic markets; domestic prices be not administratively determined; restraints currently imposed on the Australian Wheat Board in respect of grading, pricing and segregation of wheat and of transferring monies between pools be removed; the Australian Wheat Board be free to borrow on the best terms available from commercial and/or government sources in Australia and overseas; a wheatgrowers’ outstanding share in any Australian Wheat Board pool be an asset which can be traded or used as security; where practicable handling, storage and transport charges be not pooled and equalized among wheatgrowers; and if it is Government policy to offset the cost of wheat delivered to Tasmanian consumers, the cost be met by the Commonwealth Government.
The balance of the recommendations were devoted to pests and diseases. I said that I regard these recommendations as among the most farreaching recommendations that have ever been submitted in respect of the wheat industry in Australia. In my opinion, it is a pity that the issues involved in those recommendations have not been widely canvassed in the industry. Very few people have asked for copies of this Industries Assistance Commission report. There was initial resistance to the report by wheat growers but that resistance was based entirely on a lack of knowledge. I am certain in my mind that if the wheat growers of Australia better understood the issues as discussed by the IAC they would be far more amenable to the suggestions made in the report. The first recommendation under the heading ‘stabilisation’ probably is not quite as controversial as the second one. All it really recommends is the establishment of a pot holding system. If the price of wheat falls below a certain calculable level, the Government will step in and assist the industry up to that level. The recommendation envisages the scrapping of the stabilisation plan as we know it. I do not have the latest figure available but it is my understanding that since the War the succession of stabilisation plans has cost the wheat growers of Australia some $500m. The scheme certainly has not benefited wheat growers in the long term, although it has had some sort of stabilising effect on the price of wheat from year to year. However, to offset that, the system under which the Australian Wheat Board pays advances to wheat growers over extended periods has the effect also of stabilising wheat prices.
The second recommondation of the report certainly is controversial. It recommends that the
Australian Wheat Board be given sole power to trade overseas but that the Board be not permitted to be the sole trader within Australia. I am sure that you, Mr President, as a flour miller of some note in South Australia, have a great interest in this matter. I strongly support this recommendation but I feel that I am a little on my own in this regard, certainly in the Senate. I support it because I am a very great believer in the system of private enterprise. It is my belief that if the Australian Wheat Board is efficient, as most people believe it is, it will get all of the business. It will get the support from growers. But if it is not efficient, and it is extremely difficult for anybody even closely associated with the industry to judge whether it is efficient, it is better perhaps that other people do the work that the Board is doing. I think that efficiency and competition should be the criteria by which these sorts of matters are judged. I am afraid that on many occasions when government gets involved in these sorts of matters, it does not necessarily do the job very well.
There is some significant resistance to the report from flour millers in Australia. I think that quite a bit of that resistance is motivated purely by selfish interests. Perhaps over the years the millers have received a fairly good deal from the wheat producers because they have been able to buy wheat at a cheaper price than if they had to purchase wheat at the world market price. Some arguments have been advanced by the flour millers of Australia in favour of a stabilised price or a consistent price. I say that the price of wheat represents only a small proportion of the ultimate price of bread and that if the millers use the fluctuating price of bread as an excuse against the introduction of the scheme, I would not agree with that point of view at all. The advantages of having traders of wheat competing with the Australian Wheat Board are many and varied. This proposed plan will allow free trade between wheat farmers, which under the present arrangements is very difficult to achieve. It takes many days and in some cases weeks for a permit to be obtained from the Wheat Board in each State to allow a farmer-to-farmer trading. The plan would certainly reduce the cost to the purchaser of wheat that is traded from farm to farm, from farm to mill, from farm to feed lot or wherever the wheat is ultimately used. The wheat that does not have to go through the grain handling systems in each State would not attract that quite large cost to the ultimate user and in that regard the plan would increase the efficiency of wheat production and allow the ultimate consumer to pay higher prices directly to the producer.
The plan would also overcome one of the anomalies that presently faces the wheat industry and wheat industry organisations. I refer to the across-the-border trading which occurred some years ago in enormous proportions when we had wheat quotas. Under section 92 of the Constitution, which permits free trade between States, there was an anomaly whereby the people who controlled wheat quotas were powerless to prevent the movement of wheat across borders. A large percentage of the wheat produced in Victoria, South Australia and southern New South Wales was traded in that way and the people who paid for it were the wheat growers in Western Australia, who have the Nullabor Plain between them and the nearest State border, and farmers who themselves were isolated from State borders. Whilst I do not think that the IAC recommendations should be supported solely on that ground, they would certainly remove one of the anomalies faced by the wheat organisations in Australia. The proposed recommendations would also allow bonuses to be paid for quality. Mills which require a certain variety of wheat for a separate purpose would be encouraged to pay a bonus or a premium to local farmers in their own areas who produce that sort of wheat. Under the present arrangements there is very little incentive for farmers, certainly in Western Australia, as Senator Walsh pointed out, to produce higher quality wheat or wheat of a different variety.
As I said before, I sincerely regret that this issue has not met with more debate amongst wheat growers in Australia, and I am afraid that many decisions made by the industry organisations will be reached without sufficient knowledge of the subject. It is my earnest hope that the rural newspapers in particular will take up this issue and debate it widely. Some rural newspapers have done so but most of them have not. I cannot understand the reason for that because it is a vital issue. I feel sure that if the points made in the IAC report were understood better they would have a fair wider acceptance. As usual, the Government will take great heed of what the industry asks of it in this regard, and for that reason I hope that the industry is well informed before it decides its policy in regard to the IAC recommendations.
– in reply- I acknowledge the remarks made by Senator Walsh for the Opposition and Senator Thomas on these two Bills, the Wheat Research Amendment Bill 1978 and the Wheat Tax Amendment Bill 1978. The Bills have been the subject of public debate for some time amongst those involved in the industry. The Australian Wheat Board requested the Government to make the change, and the main thrust of these measures is to maintain a level of scientific research in the industry. There was wisdom in the request, and I think it should be noted, as both honourable senators have said, that the request was received only in May this year and the Government has acted very promptly to bring forward this legislation.
Senator Walsh in his contribution mentioned varietal control of wheat, and I understand that that is being implemented at the request of the Australian Wheatgrowers Federation. It is impractical to determine in advance the exact price differentials of various varieties, but proposals are now being developed which will allow the Wheat Board to make dockages according to the acceptability and/or salability of a particular variety on the basis of its performance in earlier years. Research into varieties and suitability of varieties for export markets is a very important part of the wheat research effort at the present time. Senator Thomas in his speech referred, probably for the first time in this place, to the very important Industries Assistance Commission report. It was certainly a shock to wheat growers when that report was brought down. Wherever I have been around the country wheat growers have raised the problems involved in it and questioned its outcome. The outcome of that report and the decisions of the High Court have made wheat growers a little firmer in their resolution to continue in Australia. Although the High Court was fairly evenly balanced in its decision, I know that the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Sinclair), who has the main carriage of this matter, has indicated that there will be no basic change to the underlying theme of the present stabilisation scheme following the High Court decision.
I have a note here that the IAC report and recommendations have been given wide publicity and that there has been debate on these matters in local branches of the State affiliates of the Australian Wheatgrowers Federation. The Minister for Primary Industry has announced that he will consult fully not only with State Governments but also with the Australian Wheatgrowers Federation and other interested people before decisions are made and a new stabilisation scheme is introduced. He has given an assurance that there will be wide consideration of these matters, which was an important point raised by Senator Thomas. I thank honourable senators for their contributions to this debate.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bills read a second time, and passed through their remaining stages without amendment, requests or debate.
– I inform the Senate that I have received Message No. 135 from the Acting Speaker of the House of Representatives acquainting the Senate that the House has agreed to the resolution of the Senate of 17 August 1978 relating to the proposed appointment of a Joint Select Committee on the Family Law Act 1975, with modifications. A copy of the message has been circulated to honourable senators.
Motion (by Senator Webster) agreed to:
That consideration of House of Representatives Message No. 1 3 5 be an Order of the Day for the next day of sitting.
Debate resumed from 21 September, on motion by Senator Guilfoyle:
That the Bills be now read a first time.
-On 2 1 September, when speaking on the first reading of the Apple and Pear Stabilization Amendment Bill 1978, because it was the first reading of that Bill I took the opportunity of bringing to the attention of the Senate a matter that I felt at that time was, and which I still feel is, of grave importance. It concerned the problems occurring in the Northern Territory as regards the Northern Land Council and the agreement that was to be signed by the Council and the Government to allow the mining and export of uranium from the Ranger uranium mines in the Northern Territory. I was very concerned about what I felt was being done in relation to the Chairman of the Northern Land Council.
I do not intend to canvass all the matters that I raised on 2 1 September, but I want to reiterate my concern about what I still believe could be happening to the Chairman of the Northern Land Council. I indicated that I felt that some persons were endeavouring to discredit this young man, to destroy his credibility in relation to his position as Chairman of the Northern Land Council. I have seen this happen so often when Aboriginal leaders have raised their heads above the crowd. My experience in this regard over the years is that there always seems to be someone ready to discredit them and to prove that Aborigines are not capable of making decisions or of accepting responsibility. I have seen so many young Aboriginal men in particular and women as well who have lifted their heads above the crowd, have taken responsibility and have started to raise their voices on behalf of their own people. We find that because of the kinds of pressures that are brought to bear upon them, with people trying to manipulate them for their own political aims or whatever, they are forced to retreat from the positions they have held. This has also had the effect of preventing from contributing other Aboriginal people within the community who have something to contribute and who want to make a contribution. In other cases it has curtailed the contribution of other Aboriginal people. When they see what has happened to others who have tried to lead their own people, they withdraw from the scene and allow other people to take over. I know that this is what happens because it happened in my own State of Queensland. Hence we have non-Aboriginal people taking over the role of Aboriginal people, telling them what to do and preventing them from making their own decisions. This is what concerns me in relation to the situation in the Northern Territory. In particular, I am concerned about this young man for whom I believe we would all have a great respect and admiration. As I said on Thursday night, this young man has not yet reached the age of 30 years, but he has come forward and accepted responsibility. He has gained the confidence of his own people. He has gained the confidence of the elected members of that Council and he had gained the support and the confidence of the tribal elders, Because of some misunderstanding on this particular occasion, he has now been forced to go back to the elders. I understand from reports that within the next fortnight there will be a meeting of all the tribal elders responsible for the tribal lands which have been granted to them under the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act. Having taken back the agreement in order to allow proper interpretation and proper consultation with the tribal elders, the Council will meet again to discuss the whole matter. Then there will be a getting together of the Chairman of the Northern Land Council, who will speak on behalf of his people, and the representatives of the Government.
It is worth noting that the concern of the
Government, the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) and the Federal Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, the Hon. Ian Viner, was very much highlighted when the Federal Minister for Aboriginal Affairs flew directly to Darwin to consult with the Chairman of the Northern Land Council to get this whole matter cleared up. So there will be another round-table talk, as it were, and then perhaps we will see the signing of this agreement because by then the Aboriginal people, the tribal elders and the Land Council will be satisfied that the agreement will be in their best interests. All these people will make their own contributions. They will be looking at that agreement to make sure that it is in their best interests. The protection of their sacred sites and the protection of their environment and all the other matters that concern them will be agreed to under that agreement.
Once again I give warning to the people in this chamber as well as elsewhere that when Aboriginal leaders do lift their heads above the crowd, it is our responsibility to make sure that they are not cut down by those who have their own particular axe to grind or who have their own particular political beliefs or ideologies or whatever. Let us not allow this to happen. Let us not allow the Aboriginal leaders who come forward to be manipulated by the people who have vested interests in one field or another. Let us ensure that they are making their own decisions. Let us ensure that the things they ask for are the things that they want and that they are not just mouthing someone else’s ideas or ideologies. I close on that note but I issue a warning that we have a responsibility to ensure that Aboriginal leaders are given every assistance, every encouragement to come forward and put their points of view without being manipulated by other people.
– A debate on a money Bill affords to a senator an opportunity to speak on matters which could not otherwise be canvassed within the procedures of the Parliament. Some might say that what I have to say in this debate could have been said during the Budget debate, but there is a specific reason why I would like to make quite a detailed examination of some of the events of recent times and to relate them to what I consider to be the general problems facing the Australian economy. Therefore I utilise a debate on a money Bill for such a purpose.
I think most of us v/ould be very pleased that finally the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) has come clean with the Australian community and has admitted what has been said by the Labor movement for a considerable period about the problems of the economy and about the fact that we have reached a stage in our development where unemployment, particularly amongst young people, has become, and will remain for a considerable period, a permanent pan of our economy. I think the breakthrough in this area came in the very important speech that was made by the Victorian Minister for Social Welfare and Minister for Youth, Sport and Recreation, Brian Dixon, a short while ago in which he predicted that by the year 1990 one-third of our work force could be unemployed.
That highlighted for us on this side of the House an important change in attitude by the conservatives. They had accepted that there were some features that had to be recognised by the Australian community, and particularly by the Government, about the permanency of unemployment. Then we all recall the celebrated about face by the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations, Mr Street, in the House of Representatives a fortnight ago when he set about rectifying the erronerous views, expressed by the Government, that there was to be a decline in the rate of unemployment. He submitted estimates to the Parliament which had been compiled by his Department and which had been available to the Government for a considerable period showing that we had reached a new dimension in the degree of unemployment in this country. Now the Prime Minister has come to the party and admitted that his earlier forecasts and predictions are outdated. I think that is an important step for us.
In this re-evaluation 1 think we have to look at the forces and factors behind the economic difficulties which are facing the world, particularly the industrialised countries. Of course, many people blame many others for this plight. Many people would blame the Government and politicians for the sad state of economic decline. Others would blame the business sector, the private sector, for its inability to take up the challenge which this Government placed before it when it came to office in 1975. Others, particularly the hard-line conservatives and some of the most extreme orthodox economists, would blame the unions and wage and salary earners for the difficulties. Some are even prepared to blame the Press for highlighting things which, they say, create difficulties in the economy and they blame a lack of confidence by those who seek to invest. Others would blame the bureaucracy for bad advice, particularly that given by those who advise the Government about the state of the economy.
It seems to me that in all these areas, whilst there may be some element of truth that there is some share of blame, I think we have to go a little bit deeper to see where the blame really lies. That is what I want to talk about in my contribution today. It seems to me that we should be concerned about the direction the Australian economy has taken in post-war years. It is a new direction which has not been hitherto traversed in this country. It is a direction which I believe takes from the Government the power to control the economy. I know that when we on this side of the House have raised some questions relating to these matters in the past we have had the inevitable reaction from honourable senators on the Government side that we are beating the transnational horse. I think we should be concerned about the influence of transnational companies in Australia. I suggest it is that influence, combined with the era of automated technology, that has drastically and dramatically affected the opportunities for employment in this country. In fact it is not related to the philosophy of the Australian Labor Party or to the philosophy of this Government in any simple terms that these changes have come about.
Transnational corporations have become a major instrument in internationalising capital and revolutionising the relationship between private capital and labour and public power. It is this new phenomenon which has developed which it seems to me ought to be more properly examined by the public at large and by the Parliament without falling back on the simplistic suggestions that this or that sector of the Australian people is responsible for the problems we face. In fact, as I found out on my visits overseas in the last year or so- it matters not whether one goes to Europe, the United Kingdom, the United States or even Japan- that somewhat similar types of problems face the economies of those countries. Of course it is rather strange to be in a country like Japan and to hear people talk about the problems of structural change. It is equally as strange to go to West Germany and to find that. Those two countries have virtually started afresh their whole productive processes following World War II in which their productive capacities were completely destroyed. With the aid of technology and largely American capital they were able to be revitalised and regenerated. In those countries I found people suggesting there was a need for restructuring their industries.
It struck me as odd that that should be suggested when, of course, we have learned since the Vernon report was published almost 20 years ago in Australia and from many other reports that similar suggestions have been made. We have to accept the fact that transnational corporations play a central and dominating role in the international economic scene. This has an impact upon countries such as Australia which is one of the major trading nations of the world. According to a United Nations report of 1973 the value added by each of the major transnational corporations- we can put together about 10 of them- in 1971 exceeded $3 billion per annum which is greater than the gross national product of some 80 countries. The value added by all transnational corporations is roughly estimated to have been $500 billion in 1971 which is about one-fifth of the gross national product of all Western countries.
One thing about which we find a degree of unanimity between the major political parties in this country is the matter of the changing terms of trade. This, of course, has a tremendous effect on countries like Australia. When we recognise that production by transnational corporations has surpassed trade as the main vehicle of international economic exchange that indicates the degree to which they are the principal force in the world scene. It is estimated that sales by transnational companies have reached approximately $330 billion, according to the latest figures taken out in 1971. This is somewhat larger than the total amount of exports of all Western economies. So, the size, geographical spread and the multiplicity of the activities of transnational companies, their command and generation of resources around the world and their use of such resources to furnish their own needs and objectives rival in terms of scope the implications of traditional economic exchange amongst nations.
It has been said by no less an authority than the United States Chamber of Commerce that by the end of this century almost all trade in the Western world will be dominated by about 200 major international corporations. The problems associated with transnational corporations stem from a combination of their sheer size and their ability effectively to ignore national boundaries by transferring their resources from one country to another. In this way various policy instruments are largely taken out of the hands of national governments. No matter what government is in power these corporations are able to make decisions which transgress national boundaries and which interfere with whatever strategy may be followed by individual countries. We have to recognise this because transnational, unlike governments, are not directly accountable for their policies and actions to a broadly based electorate. Yet political parties and governments are. I suggest that this new influence needs a great deal of recognition by the Australian community. This degree of penetration by transnational corporations into national economies means that a large sector of industry has become more or less immune to government intervention and throws into relief the absurd theories of those who claim that there ought to be less government intervention when in fact we are living in a period when international intervention is reducing the limited powers which governments have in the economic scene.
Let us look at the extent of the penetration of transnational corporations into the Australian economy and at the startling dimensions of some of these transnational corporations which have already been set up in Australia. Foreigncontrolled enterprises account now for about one-third of the total production of all Australian manufacturing industry. The latest figures which I have been able to get- those for 1975-76- show that the largest 86 foreign-controlled enterprises accounted for one-quarter of the total turnover of Australian manufacturing industry, and in some sections of manufacturing industry the per-, centages are higher. For example, in basic chemicals the largest 17 corporations control 70 per cent of the industries. Let us look at some of the corporations concerned. When one looks at the economic back-up that these major international corporations have one sees that it is quite considerable. General-Motors has assets exceeding $US2 1,664m and operates in some 30 countries. Amatil Ltd, whose parent company is British American Tobacco Industries, is involved in the retailing, tobacco, food and cosmetic industries in some 5 1 countries and has total assets of £3, 122m sterling. So one could go on and on to cite figures and statistics which show that there is a tremendous change in the international economic order.
In 1976-77 transnational corporations controlled three-fifths of the total value added in the mining industry in Australia. Of course, if one looks at the tertiary sector at first glance one gets an indication that this is not happening in our banking areas. There is only one major bank in Australia which is acknowledged to be foreigncontrolled, and that is the Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Ltd. In the others the existence of extensive nominee shareholdings makes it virtually impossible to identify ownership. But most of the larger banks in the world operate in Australia. These include the Bank of America, which had assets at the end of 1975 of
SUS59 billion and a net income of $US256m, and Barclays, which is the largest branch banking network in the world with 4,700 subsidiaries and representative offices in 70 countries and which has assets of £7.4 billion sterling.
In the finance sector, as we all know, the banks have been declining in relative importance. In economic terms banks in Australia previously held 60 per cent of all money and that figure has declined to 45 per cent. That 15 per cent has been taken up largely by finance companies and money market corporations where foreign control is very significant. In 1976, for example, foreign-controlled corporations held about half of the assets of the finance companies operating in this country. Companies such as IAC Ltd, Lombard Australia Ltd, the FNCB- Waltons corporation and AVCO Financial Services Ltd are all foreign-controlled and the information that I have been able to gather shows that on the shortterm money market the degree of foreign control is estimated at between 25 per cent and 50 per cent. According again to official statistics, 37.8 per cent of our general insurance business is foreign-controlled. Further, 58.6 per cent of the tourist accommodation industry is foreigncontrolled and just over half of all the companies operating in the advertising area are foreignowned.
So I think that it is true to say that transnational corporations have penetrated significantly into all the areas of economic life in Australia and affect every day the lives of all Australians, from the cereal we eat for breakfast to the clothes we wear and the cars we drive. The decisions which are made in respect of these industries, such as what to produce, the price to be charged, how to produce it and the introduction of technology to take advantage of government decisions, flow right down from the board rooms in Detroit, New York or London and affect us every day. Australia’s gross domestic product in 1976-77 was some $82,224m but some of the transnational corporations are larger than this in these terms and combined, of course, they completely dwarf the Australian economy. Investment by foreign-controlled enterprises in Australia, which this Government supports, has reached such an extent that by 1974 one-third of the total company income, after tax, was accounted for by dividend and profits payable abroad and the cost of servicing overseas capital in Australia took up about one-fifth of Australia’s export income. The sheer magnitude and percentage of such key economic aggregates accounted for by the transnational corporations gives some indication of the influence that these corporations’ decisions have with regard to investment and capital movements and what they mean to the Australian economy, to the economic policies of this Government or, for that matter, any other government, to the monetary and fiscal situation, to the exchange rate, to the balance of payments and to the size and direction of investment. I think that it is crucial for the Parliament to recognise and realise that the decisions made by these corporations are guided and determined by their aim to maximise global profits in the long run. There is no guarantee that decisions taken on that basis or based on that criteria will necessarily be in the best interests of the Australian economy and people.
One of the most important influences that we in Australia have to recognise is contained in the ability of these corporations to transfer capital freely from one country to another. Many techniques are available for such corporations to shunt capital into and out of Australia regardless of exchange controls. One such technique, of course, is transfer pricing, which is the arbitrary setting of prices paid for imports or prices received for exports. For example, a company wishing to shift funds out of Australia- we will perhaps talk about that shortly- easily achieves that objective by charging its Australian subsidiary, for its imports from a foreign subsidiary, prices which are higher than the real value of imports. There is some evidence that this has taken place in Australia, particularly with respect to the oil and petroleum industry.
International organisations such as the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and even the United Nations itself, by a recent decision, are investigating transfer pricing specifically for the purpose of seeing what disrupting effect it has on the effectiveness of domestic economies. I give one example. The British Monopolies Commission found that the pharmaceutical transnational company of Hoffman-La Roche was paying many times the normal price for its raw material imports bought from a subsidiary and charging the British health service £370 sterling and £922 sterling a kilo for two drugs of comparable quality which an Italian company was selling at a profit of £9 sterling and £20 sterling. That gives an indication of how the system is being rorted by those who are in a position to apply pricing policies which are detrimental to the consumer, to governments and particularly to government agencies, involved as they are in health schemes.
It is impossible to quantify the impact of overstated transfer prices and service payments on the costs and profitability of transnational corporations in Australia, but there can be little doubt that the practices exist and substantially reduce the profits of the Australian subsidiary. One can only wonder at the extent to which the over-pricing of imports raises the final sale price of commodities and thus generates inflation and reduces the tax base in Australia and the revenue available for public expenditure on housing, health, education and other publicly-provided goods and services. Of course, if this is a widespread practice- and I suggest that it is- it is small wonder that the Government is forced to move into new areas, as it has on this occasion, by taxing disadvantaged and disabled people and introducing taxes on service pensions for exservicemen and on invalid and age pensions. Of course, we on this side of the chamber have lost track as the Government shunts back and forth in the area as public opinion in Australia expresses its disgust at the Government’s new taxing policies which were announced in the Budget and which are changed almost weekly. These sorts of new taxes would not be necessary if in fact there were proper surveillance of the activities of these major international corporations.
Capital transfers are another way that transnational corporations have an effect on the domestic economy. They have a big effect on the exchange rate and the balance of payments. There is no doubt that the 17 per cent devaluation of the Australian dollar in November 1976 was caused by a massive capital outflowspeculation against the value of the Australian dollar- of some $482m in the four months to October 1976. On 30 August the Sydney Morning Herald reported that a former international banker had accused the transnational banks of manipulating the value of the American dollarhitherto the most powerful currency in the world- to earn huge profits. This is what was said by Mr David Edwards, a former employee of Citibank. I noticed in this morning’s issue of the Australian Financial Review that Citibank has just come into Australia. Mr Edwards said:
The dollar is not falling in value: It is being pushed by a handful of people with more power than any one government.
I pose for the consideration of the Senate these questions: Who pays for the profits reaped from such speculation? I submit that we do- the ordinary man in the street; the citizen; the taxpayer. Who pays for the resultant instability of the Australian economy and the international economy?
We do, because whatever accumulation of capital comes about as a result of such speculation somebody has to pay for it, and it is us.
The movement of capital into and out of Australia affects the exchange rate, the balance of payments, the supply of money and, through it, inflation. The Australian Government has lost a not insignificant degree of control over these key economic variables, as it has over monetary and fiscal policy. I suggest that we should not fall for the simplistic notions that so many of our orthodox economists talk about, such as that our problems are due to the overhang in the wages and salaries area, to the work of the unions, to the failure of the business sector that is privately owned in Australia, to the activities of a State government, to too much public spending or, as we have heard so often in this place, to those three years in office of the Labor Government, from 1973 to 1975, that caused all of this. In fact we were the victims, not the sponsors, of this process that has been going on relatively unnoticed and certainly unpublicised in the post-war years.
I want to turn my attention now to a subject that has been taking up a lot of space in the media recently and one which has been the subject of numerous government reports under both a Labor government and a Liberal governmentthe problems confronting the Australian manufacturing industry. I want to relate what I have been saying to the employment problem, to the nature of our industry, the dislocation that has taken place in industry in recent years and the fact that almost 250,000 jobs have virtually disappeared in Australia as a result of the problems facing manufacturing industry. What did the Jackson report of 1975 say? It said there was a deepseated and long-standing malaise’ in Australian manufacturing which ‘is stalled and lacks purpose … It needs to export to grow … is not well suited to the challenges of international competition.’ The Jackson Committee went on to explain the inefficient structure of Australian manufacturing in these terms:
Much of the equipment in factories … is old, inefficient and overdue for replacement; desirable technical innovations have been delayed.
. There are grounds for believing that production costs are excessive in many industries because production, given the nature of the technology and the size of the market, is fragmented over too many producers and plants.
We know that that is true in your State of New South Wales, Mr Deputy President, in South Australia and particularly in Victoria where the economy of the State is dependent upon the efficiency, maintenance and healthiness of a particular industry. The Jackson Committee was concerned with the high costs of production in Australian manufacturing resulting from the use of outdated technology and the fragmentation of production between a large number of underused plants. According to the latest figures that I have been able to obtain, Australian manufacturing is under-capacity by about 30 per cent. In other words, it is operating at about only 70 per cent maximum capacity. Given the importance of transnational, to which I have referred, in the Australian manufacturing sector, and especially in some key sectors, one is entitled to ask: What effect have the investment decisions of the transnationals had on the efficiency and performance of the Australian manufacturing sector and are their actions in any way related to the problems in manufacturing? Especially is this so when, on the one hand, we find the defenders of transnational arguing that they are important vehicles for bringing technology and higher standards of living to Australia. On the other hand, despite the massive penetration of transnational into Australia’s manufacturing industry, there is a widespread belief that Australia is relatively technologically backward. We see the Fraser Government accepting that view by giving incentives for the introduction of technology without realising the flow-on effects that this could have upon the work force.
Throughout the post-war period Australia followed an industrialisation policy of import substitution behind tariff barriers. Many transnational companies, especially those from the United States, entered the Australian economy to maintain their market share when tariff barriers hindered their exports to the Australian domestic market. They did so in order to get behind the tariff wall. When one transnational came into the Australian market it was inevitable that international competitors would follow for fear that they would lose their share of the market. This tended to produce a great proliferation of small scale foreign-owned units with high costs of production. A study of the Australian chemical industry in 1974 indicated that foreign subsidiaries’ unit production costs were typically higher than those of overseas affiliates. The higher costs arose from the installation of plant of a size that was smaller than similar production plants elsewhere. The study suggested that there were only a few production lines where the Australian plant approached ‘rninimum economic size’ let alone ‘world size’. More usually the Australian plants, depending on the industry, were about 10 per cent to 50 per cent of the size required for effective world competition. Thus the transnational chemical corporations had installed in Australia a multitude of plants that could not compete on world markets. If the same were true in other manufacturing industries- and I suggest that it is- it could explain the poor export performance of Australia’s manufacturing industry as well as any notions of higher than economically warranted wages for Australian workers.
It is worth while noting that this lack of export potential was acceptable to the transnationals since they had little ambition to export in any case. Export markets were catered for by their overseas affiliates. Subsidiaries in Australia were often expressly prohibited from exporting to certain areas. Mr Parry, of the University of New South Wales, in a paper on multinational enterprises and what he called imperfect competition, published in April 1977- this is a relatively recent survey and I would ask honourable senators to ponder what he says- said:
The exercise of restrictive practices by parent enterprises with affiliates in Australian manufacturing has been documented in a number of studies . . . such restrictions are commonly directed to regional limitations on exports . . .
If the firms were domestically owned one could expect market forces to bring about consolidation over a period, but when they are owned by extremely large internationally competing corporations this does not take place. The large international firm with global financial resources and a commitment to individual market positions can resist many of the normal market forces. This is especially true when tariffs provide protection from overseas competition. Yet we are told that we must let the market forces be the generator or the determinator upon which changes will come about in Australian industry. But in the absence of such protection, it could be argued that since the same companies operating in Australia also operate the source of potential competition in other countries they would not allow imports from the foreign operation to damage the profitability of their Australian operation as long as it is in their global interests. Some people argue- it has been argued by many people- that Australia’s tariff policy was the cause of the problem while others argue that it was not. Even in the absence of that protection these companies would provide for their own protection if that course was in their own economic interests. So the investment decisions of the transnationals resulted, I suggest, in an industry structure that was not only incapable of competing on world markets but also inefficient in producing for the Australian market. Of course what we have seen is an attempt by many Australian companies to go off-shore in order to compete on international markets.
Although the plants installed in the chemical industry by the transnationals were not of sufficient size to completely and actively compete on world markets, they were still too big to produce effectively for the small Australian market. So under-utilisation of plant capacity also led to higher unit costs. Under-utilisation of plant capacity was found to be a persistent feature by a survey of the chemical industry that was carried out in 1974. The problem arose because the transnationals realised that plants of the size of their overseas subsidiaries were too big for Australia’s small market. But rather than undertake technological adaptation and produce a plant and a process that was dovetailed to the needs and the situation of the Australian economy, in most cases they merely installed a scaled-down version of the existing overseas plants or they took the other step of underutilisation of production.
I find the statements made by the Minister for Productivity, Mr Macphee, about increasing productivity so much hot air because in fact the private sector will not increase productivity when decisions will be made to suit the international needs of the parent companies which are not concerned primarily with the domestic economic position of Australia. A recent study which was conducted by the Melbourne based Economic Research Unit Pty Ltd at the request of the Department of Industry and Commerce found similar reasons for the current problems of Australia’s manufacturing industry. It is interesting that when I wrote to the Department to get a copy of that report- a brief reference has been made to it in journals- it was not made available. It has not been made available to the Parliament because the Department found that some of the points that I have been making to be so as they relate to other sectors of Australia’s manufacturing industry.
Given the high rate of capital formation in Australia, that study conducted by a government department concluded that Australia’s manufacturing industry’s performance in the 1960s and 1970s should have been better than it actually was. The study suggested that one reason for this was that manufacturing activity in Australia did not make efficient use of its fixed assets. In other words, there was under-utilisation of installed capacity. The study also found that there was no significant improvement in capital productivity during most of the 1 960s and 1970s. If the report was freely available to us we would be in a better position to make an evaluation of it. I suggest that if the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) had been studying the reports that have been made available to the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations, Mr Street, over a considerable number of months, if not a year, he would not have made some of his false premises and statements relating to unemployment.
To get back to productivity, the reason for this poor productivity record was partly due to a relatively slow rate of adoption of new technology. The reports states that this was found to have been related to the heavy domination by foreign controlled firms. It is perhaps more than significant that this study was never made public by the Department of Industry and Commerce. So, on entering the Australian market, the transnational companies made no attempt to construct plants that would be internationally competitive and no attempt to construct plants that were technologically adapted to the Australian situation. They have made no attempt since. That is hardly surprising given the fact that research and development is centralised in the parent corporation overseas where the technological needs of smaller economies, such as Australia, are of secondary importance and receive short shrift. Presumably these investment decisions are acceptable to the corporations- that is their estimate- and suit their global strategies. But they are patently not acceptable to us and are not in the best interests of Australia.
We now have a situation where manufacturing is characterised by a proliferation of plants of inefficient scale and high unit cost, as well as excess capacity. I suggest that there is a reason for this. The Minister for Productivity ought to conduct a more thorough research into these areas and not concentrate on repeating statements that an increase in productivity is the solution to the problem. Incidentally he did that this morning on the radio program A.M. when he suggested that if we could restructure our manufacturing industry, industry by industry, and if we could increase productivity, all the ills of our present economic difficulties would vanish. Considerations such as these reveal the shallowness of arguments which say that all of Australia’s economic ills happened just in the years 1972 to 1975.
I think that this Government, the Parliament and honourable senators opposite should put that view out of their thinking- the problems are more fundamental than that and mere repetition of rhetoric goes nowhere towards the solution of the more fundamental problems with which we are confronted- if in fact they are genuinely concerned, and I suggest that many honourable senators opposite are, with the problems concerning the economy, the lack of job opportunities and the permanence that now seems to be part of the unemployment scene in this country. Consideration of these matters clearly reveals the folly of the policy which the Government has been following over the last two or three years, the policy that an export led recovery which the Government has been following over the last two or three years will lead us out of the current recession. That policy is supported by one Minister one day but another day he will say that we will get a consumer-led recovery.
I think I have shown that the policies of these international corporations have hampered the export of manufactured goods from Australia and it is likely that they will continue to do so in the future. The reliance upon that strategy will get us absolutely nowhere. The global strategies of these transnationals appear to have been undergoing some change in the 1970s as they exploit the lower labour cost in the developing nations and then ship components of the finished products back to the developed markets where they can be sold at a massive profit. Of course it has always been suggested that all the problems facing the Third World countries- the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Peacock, has been quite vocal about this in respect of our trade imbalance with the Asian countries- would disappear if Australia were just to drop its barriers and import more goods. To make that suggestion, with a mere 14 million people in this country with a very high standard of living and a limited amount of money to spend on consumer goods, is another simplistic approach.
I believe that we have to determine how we can maintain a viable manufacturing industry with the limitation on exports. We should resist being integrated into the world economy purely as a supplier of agricultural and mineral commodities. I think that that is the role that has been assigned to Australia because we are able to produce agricultural goods in great abundance and we are a very rich country as far as our mineral resources are concerned. But if we are to be shunted into that dead end, if we are to be put into that tunnel, there is no way for manufacturing industry to survive. I believe that Australia must reject being sucked into the global strategy that assigns us to that subordinate position. I do not believe that these processes are remote from us and I do not think they are unrelated to the general problems of unemployment that exist in this country. I can see only one way for us to examine a short term approach to more fundamental problems that need to be examined in respect of how we handle ourselves in this international ball game. Certainly the direction in which this Government is taking us, away from public sector spending, as I see it, removes one of the few avenues in which we can seek a short term solution to the problems. That is to say, we could follow a path somewhat similar to that of the Japanese Government, which is a conservative government, which has suggested that there is some future in developing the public sector.
I do not think that we can continually accept the terms of the transnational companies as they relate to Australia’s development. We should not be pawns in their global strategy. I do not think that we should continue to follow policies which ignore the degree of their influence upon our domestic economy. I make no secret of the fact that I would like to see a reappraisal of the goal of growth for growth ‘s sake. It follows, therefore, that I do not accept Mr Macphee ‘s general thesis or the adoption of new technology for efficiency’s sake. What good is the adoption of more advanced technology if all that does is to produce more and more goods that fewer and fewer people can buy because they have been rendered jobless by that so-called ‘efficient’ technology? It can hardly be called efficient if it wastes a sixth, a third, a half, or a quarter of our work force. Yet that seems to be the direction in which we are travelling.
– That is ridiculous and you know it.
– The honourable senator’s Ministers are now saying that they have under-estimated the degree to which unemployment has become a permanent feature in our economy. When we listen to the speeches that are made by Ministers we find that they vary from Minister to Minister- in fact, they vary from day to day- on the way in which the Government sees its areas of responsibility. All that I am suggesting is that the Government ought to add another dimension to its examination of the factors that are creating the problems of this country. I refer to the extent to which foreign owned companies are able to determine the direction of the economy, are able to determine in what areas investment funds should be placed, are able to determine whether companies will expand and are able to determine whether jobs will disappear for all time from very important sections of the Australian economy.
It has to be recognised that in the past decade the percentage of our work force in manufacturing industry has dropped from something like 29 per cent to 22 per cent; in agriculture it has dropped from something like 9 per cent to 6 per cent; and in the tertiary sector, which now has been highlighted, we have seen the advent of new technology. Surveys and studies that have been carried out by the French and German governments have indicated that something like 33 to 40 per cent of people engaged in the private tertiary sector will be rendered unemployed as a result of the advent of new technology. If this Government persists with its policy of cutbacks in public spending, I just wonder whether the forecast of Mr Brian Dixon that something like one-third of our work force could be unemployed at the end of the next decade will be much closer to reality than this Government has been prepared to accept.
– I am glad that Senator Gietzelt has turned this debate in the direction of the future of the economy and the problems of employment. This is a most important subject, but I must say that I found some of his views simplistic and conspiratorial. In fact, they are quite difficult to discuss because he tended to start from a very dubious statement and then draw the most extreme deductions from it. Nevertheless, it is a subject of great importance, one that I would like to see this chamber debate at some length. We have the material for such a debate. The recent speech on employment by the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations (Mr Street) was as Senator Gietzelt implied, a breath of fresh air. The present Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations is one of the most dedicated, compassionate men- he is also one of the most hard working men- ever to have held that portfolio. It is a tragedy that he has had to preside over the high levels of unemployment that have been endemic in recent years. The Minister has recognised that unemployment will not be polite enough to go away if it is ignored. The recognition of a problem is the first step towards its solution. The Minister’s very clear and frank assessment of future levels of unemployment is very valuable.
It is important to remember, though, that it is only an estimate and necessarily includes some important assumptions. The Minister has been quite open about these. He assumes that young people will continue in full time education at no more than the present rate. This may be right, but it is worth noting that the level of participation in education by our 16 to 25-year-old age group is very low by the standards of other developed countries. We are not investing much education capital in our future. Perhaps the pedagogues have something to answer for there. Mr Street assumes also a return by 1 98 1 to the pre- 1974 trend in female participation rates in the work force. In recent years there has been an explosive increase in these participation rates, although our rates are still below those of other industrial countries. Given these assumptions- I hope that the Minister is wrong in his assumption about education rates- the Minister estimates that the labour force will increase by 1 10,000 people a year between now and 1 985. Creating this number of jobs is not necessarily impossible. After all, we created jobs at the rate of 120,000 a year during the 1960s. Why can we not do it again?
Some people are crying havoc at the prospects of the technological revolution- computer technology and so on- a revolution which undoubtedly already has had a marked impact on the manufacturing sector and is now having the same effect in the information processing area, particularly in the automation of routine clerical and typing operations. But there is nothing new about technological change. We should welcome it, not dread it. After all, we are a rich, reasonably well-educated and politically stable country. We are in an ideal position to exploit new technology if the Government gives the necessary direction and leadership. We would really have to worry if technology were moving in the opposite direction towards more labour intensive industries. If that were happening, with our high standard of living and high wage rates we would really be in trouble. But that is not happening. The trend is going the other way. We should be hopeful, not gloomy.
For the information of Senator Gietzelt, the simple fact about technological progresswhether it be the invention of the steam engine, the spread of automated machine tools, the discovery of electricity, the coming of the silicon chip micro computer or the invention of the wheel- is that it always results in a large increase in the productivity of labour. Gross product per head of population increases dramatically. If wisely directed, a consequent rise in national income must lead to a rise in total employment. Of course, there will be transitional problems. We cannot simply let market forces decide what happens and let the devil take the hindmost. Such a policy would not be politically or socially possible. We must have the advantages of the second industrial revolution without the evil social consequences of the first. There is therefore a need for active national manpower and structural adjustment policies. Two important studies have been commissioned by the Government- one on education and training by Professor Williams and one on structural problems by Sir John Crawford. I hope that they come up with some sensible recommendations. I will reserve my opinions until I see the recommendations. Some government inquiries come up with rather foolish and sometimes selfserving recommendations. If they do come up with wise but difficult recommendations, I hope that the Government will have the courage to implement them.
One key element in the transition of our economy will be our tariff policy. I must record that I am very concerned about the way that tariffs have been used in recent years. They seem to be used to preserve the status quo when they should be used to encourage change and development. Tariffs do have legitimate roles- as a revenue source, for instance. It is worth recording that the first Budget introduced into this Parliament was for f 4m, of which 78 per cent was raised by customs and excise. Tariffs have a legitimate role also as a means of encouraging an infant industry, although some of our infants seem to have reached senility without being weaned. Tariffs have a role also in enabling a vital defence industry to survive, and also an industry which, although not itself economic, has spin-offs which enable other industries which are economic to exist. Tariffs might have a role even in the current international war which is graced with the name of ‘resources diplomacy’. Where tariffs are not effective in the long run is in protecting jobs. In this role in the long run they always do more harm than good. Unfortunately this is the way in which very largely they are being used at the moment.
But it is not only in the long term that tariffs are damaging. I will give the Senate an example which came to my notice recently. It concerns a product called vinyl record compound. The problem is this: Australian produced vinyl is inferior in quality and, if used, produces records which discriminating buyers reject in favour of imported records. For the same reason we cannot export locally produced records to what otherwise would be a good market. Only very small quantities of vinyl are produced in Australia and it is not worth while for manufacturers to install new equipment to produce a world class product. There is a substantial tariff on imported vinyl. So it cannot be used economically by local recording companies if they wish to compete with imported records. So we have this crazy situation: In order to protect the handful of jobs of people producing this vinyl we are losing the chance of creating many times that number of jobs in the recording and record making industry with a chance of substantial exports as well. That is only one example.
If we look at the secondary effects of tariffs used solely as a means of protecting jobs I think we will find that they nearly always do more harm than good. We should be using tariffs not to protect the status quo but to encourage technological advance. If we do not do this we will find ourselves, in a generation, lagging badly behind countries such as Japan, South Korea or Singapore while still solemnly using tariffs to protect jobs from the so-called cheap labour of countries which in fact will have a higher standard of living and technology than we have. Tariffs must be an instrument of change. That is their value. Of course, they can only be a part of the transition to this second industrial revolution but I mention them because at the moment they are being used in exactly the wrong way.
But all this is in the longer term. We have a much more immediate crisis on our hands, one which the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations believes will get worse next year. I think people tend to underestimate the damage which unemployment does to a society. We are in danger of embittering an entire generation. Any economic system that cannot provide work of a reasonably suitable nature for those willing and able to work is in need of change. What then are we to do? I agree with the central thrust of the Government’s present economic policy- the reduction of the rate of inflation- and also the means employed, which is a version of the monetarist theory with minor backslidings. I think it probable that without the disciplines of such a policy it would not have been possible to bring our rate of inflation under control. So far so good. But what next? We are restoring the foundations of our economy which was so recklessly destroyed by the Whitlam Government. What we need now is a plan for what we do after the essential pre-condition of reducing, the rate of inflation has been achieved, for the reduction of inflation is not the end of the matter. After all, in the 1 930s we had zero inflation and low interest rates but we also had a great depression. The trouble with the monetarist economic theory is that there is no obvious reason why its stable state should be at the level of full or near full employment unless, of course, wages are assumed to be infinitely depressible. This is possible only in dictatorships such as Brazil and even there it does not seem to work very well in the long run.
It is quite out of the question here. Keynesian theories of full employment through demand management have come in for some heavy criticism recently, although this is aimed quite often not so much at what Keynes said or would have said as at some grossly over simplified versions of his theories. The problem, of course, is how to prevent inflation through wage pressure from over powerful unions as the economy reaches full employment, thus wrecking everything that has been carefully built up.
It is worth noting that we have in our arbitration system an almost unique means of controlling wages in such circumstances provided the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission’s decisions are respected and honoured. This was largely achieved during the 1950s and the 1960s when by and large we managed to balance the three goals of reasonable growth, full employment and low inflation better than any other country. We can do it again if we can restore the position of the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. But, to put it mildly, the Government’s recent attacks on the wisdom and commonsense of the Commission do not help in this process. Employers also have a role to play. Again, to put it mildly, it does not help to ensure union acceptance of wage restraint when employers argue for the economic necessity of such restraint at the same time as they grant their executives salary rises, largely through tax avoiding benefits, which are far in excess of what they say is economically acceptable for their employees. Australians have a keen sense of fair play and they are not damn fools.
Although the restoration and enhancement of the arbitration system is essential if our recovery from the present recession is not to result in another inflationary boom followed by another recession and although we must work to enhance the arbitration system, there are three other pressing problems to which I should like to direct the attention of the Senate. The first problem is that of real wages. Contrary to many statements, the level of real wages, taking into account over award payments, has not fallen in recent years for those who are lucky enough to have jobs. Nearly everyone agrees that present real wages are out of line with the productivity of labour in this country. The evidence is obvious. One example is the way in whch employers, particularly those in manufacturing industry, are shedding labour whenever they can. It is true that our productivity is creeping up- at a pitiful 2 per cent a year- and that in about five years it will have eliminated the wages overhang caused by the disastrous real wage explosion of 1973 and 1974.
But five years! Must we wait so long? Must the unemployed wait so long? We must show clearly and convincingly to all concerned that if those in jobs are prepared to accept restraint in their real wages there will be a more than equivalent increase in the real wages of the unemployed by giving them jobs. This argument is the most vital one we have to put to the community. It is one we certainly have not got across yet.
The second urgent problem is that of providing jobs for young people. As I have said, the work force is expected to grow by 1 10,000 a year. Many of these people will be young, mostly unqualified people and all will be lacking work experience. The tragedy is that our award wage policy is depriving many of them of the chance of a job. The award for young people in their first job is far too close to the adult rate and employers naturally choose experienced people, often middle aged women re-entering the work force, in preference to juniors. One can see the damage caused by such high award rates for young people in a recent case in the Australian Capital Territory. The fast food organisation, McDonald’s, recently closed two of its outlets here, claiming that it pays kids in New York $2.60 an hour, in England $3.00 an hour and in Scandinavia $3.30 an hour, but in the Australian Capital Territory it has to pay them $5.36 an hour, which is the adult rate. When the union secretary involved was asked why his union was destroying jobs for young people he said he was not going to stand by while multi-national profiteers took advantage of the working class. He added that the kids did not know they were being exploited. This was given in justification of having destroyed their jobs. It is all ominously reminiscent of the American major in Vietman who said that in order to liberate a village it had been necessary to destroy it.
One can see the level of overpayment of young teenagers in their first jobs by what the National Employment and Training scheme pays employers to take them on- $45 a week. I ask honourable senators to think about this matter. It is a transfer payment from the average taxpayer, frequently a young married man with a family, to enable an employer to pay a young teenager more than the employer thinks he is worth, and it occurs at a time when that teenager has more money to spend on himself than he will have for most of the rest of his life. The whole system is absurd. The pressure of trade unions to raise the level of junior wages closer and closer to the level of adult wages is an immense disservice to the prospects of employment of teenagers. We must restore some sense of reality to this aspect of wage policy.
The third great immediate problem is that of the whole rickety structure of penalty rates that has been built up over the years. The Full Bench of the South Australian Industrial Commission recently correctly described these penalty rates as a cancerous growth. I am not against all penalty rates. People who are obliged to work more than the standard 40-hour working week should receive some loading for their overtime. That is fair enough. But extra pay for shift work, or for work done on Saturdays or Sundays, is an anachronism. Many people prefer to work on weekends. They can play golf, if that is what they like, during the week when the golf courses are clear. I accept that there are some days- Christmas Day, for instance- which are such strong family days that those people who have to work on them should be compensated. But even in this area things have got out of control.
For instance, last Christmas the aircraft refuellers threatened to disrupt all the Christmas aircraft schedules because they did not think that they were being paid enough. What were they being paid? They were receiving triple pay on Christmas Day. Perhaps that was fair enough in view of the special nature of that day. They also received triple pay on Boxing Day. But they were prepared to go on strike because they were offered double pay rather than triple pay for working on the day after Boxing Day. This is the height of midsummer madness. We must dismantle this whole rickety structure of penalty rates if we want our service industries to expand, as expand they must. To modify a remark made by a previous Labor Treasurer, one man’s penalty rates deprives another person of the chance of a job
The need for reform is particularly urgent in the tourist and catering industries. It is obvious that the increased employment we are seeking will not come in manufacturing industry. There is not really going to be much scope in the mining sector or on the land. If expansion there is to be, it must come in the tertiary sector. Yet we are in the ridiculous situation that manufacturing industry is shedding labour but the service industries, although by any reasonable standards they are short of labour, are not taking up that labour. Why not? The answer is obvious; they cannot afford to do so. For instance, the Australian people once received two mail deliveries a day. Now we have only one because we could not afford the second delivery. If we go to restaurants at weekends we will see that they are ludicrously understaffed. This is because they cannot afford to pay the penalty rates to the extra staff that is required.
One could give innumerable instances to illustrate this point but I will content myself with just one which was quoted in the New South Wales Parliament recently. It was the case of a prominent motel on the north coast which used to employ 25 permanent girls and five barmen as well as a family of four who were the owners. That motel provided three meals a day, seven days a week. But recent awards gave penalty rates of time and a half on Saturday, time and threequarters for Sunday and double time and a half- that is triple pay- for public holidays. What happened? Lunch is now not provided on any day and dinner is not provided on Sunday. The staff was reduced to one-third of what it was. Eighteen people have been laid off, all because of the absurd penalty rates. Of course, this is only one example but it can be multiplied many times to show what is happening.
The problem of penalty rates is reflected in the declining employment in hotels and motels- a decrease of 7.6 per cent last year- at a time when by all rational considerations employment in this field should have been increasing. Penalty rates for shift work also help to make our manufacturing industries uneconomic. One of the most important ways to get out of the present economic morass we are in is to have a major rethink on this anachronistic web of penalty rates that has been built up. It has been estimated that more than 100,000 jobs would be created immediately if we could do away with penalty rates and shift allowances. I repeat that 100,000 jobs could be created.
How are we to tackle these three problemsthe way in which wages have outstripped productivity, the problem of unrealistic wage rates for teenagers in their first jobs and the problem of absurd penalty rates? The first place where we must tackle them is, of course, before the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. I must say that I do not think we are going about this in the right way. Stand-over tactics, criticism and threats of retaliation are not likely to be very rewarding. After all, Conciliation and Arbitration commissioners are human and the normal reaction to bullying is to try to do the opposite of what is demanded. Moreover, the powers of the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission are limited constitutionally to conciliation and arbitration. If commissioners meekly adopt what the Government demands so aggressively, they will tend to lose all credibility with the other parties to the arbitration. The Government’s present approach, I am afraid, is likely to be strongly counterproductive.
I would like to see the Government’s interventions before the Commission less frequent and more closely reasoned. I say ‘less frequent’ because if the Government intervenes in every matter, no matter how minor, a sort of Gresham ‘s law applies and the credibility of the Government on major issues is reduced. But even more important than this is the manner and quality of the Government’s interventions. There has been very severe criticism of the quality of the recent economic submissions by the Government to the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. Perhaps the low light came in a recent case when the Government was arguing for 12-month intervals between wage hearings in the interests of reducing the rate of inflation. An exhibit was tendered which showed quite clearly that at a time of falling inflation quarterly hearings would be more effective at achieving the aim than annual hearings. After questioning from the bench, the exhibit was hastily withdrawn. But the damage was done. We must do better than this.
I think that the Government, as representing the community’s interests and not being a direct party to the dispute, should normally limit itself to putting information on the general economic situation and the economic consequences of the various proposals put to the Commission by the contending parties. It should be the exception rather than the rule that the Government takes a partisan position. But an even more important point, if we wish to improve the quality of the Government’s submissions, is that if the Government is putting economic arguments to the Commission it should be done by economists, in particular by the Government’s principal economic advisers such as the Deputy Secretary of the Treasury, Mr John Stone. They should give evidence to the Commission, they should answer the Commission’s questions and they should be subjected to cross-examination. It is absurd to have complex economic arguments put to the Commission through the filter of the silk and wig of our legal counsel. Certainly, if political arguments have to be advanced, this should not be done by a public servant. That area is appropriate for counsel. But I repeat that the Government should, as far as possible, limit itself to putting forward the economic background clearly and authoritatively and then let the Commission make the deductions. After all, the commissioners are not fools. But I think that they are in danger sometimes of making economic and political judgments which are not really within their competence. For instance, in its June judgment the Commission openly aimed by its indexation decision to alter the distributional effects of the new tax scales. That was a political decision and to alter the scales was beyond the competence and beyond the role of the Commission.
But even if we can persuade the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission to make wise decisions, it is another thing to get them accepted, particularly by the trade union movement. We have not really tried to persuade the unions that the Government’s economic policy is aimed at benefiting the whole community. If we cannot persuade the unions of this, wise Commission decisions may be wasted on the desert air. Moreover, there are many other organisations involved in the problems that I have outlined. For instance, many of the penalty rates are decided not by the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission but by the arbitration systems of the States. The States are also involved in another major way. Employment is dramatically affected by on-costs. Honourable senators may not be aware that our on-costs- that is, the extra cost to employers of each employee- amount to about 150 per cent of the employees wages, the highest in the developed world. Most of these oncostspayroll tax and workers compensation, for instance- are the responsibility of State governments, not the Federal Government.
It seems to me that we need urgently a conference of all interested parties- Federal Government, State governments, unions, employers, Federal and State arbitration systems- to try to find our way out of this morass. In my view, it is an urgent task. I suppose that if we do nothing some of the problems may solve themselves with time. Time may or may not be the great healer, but undoubtedly it inflicts deep suffering, particularly on the unemployed. Surely we owe it to the community to see whether, by discussion, we can work more quickly towards agreed solutions to our problems. Whether we like it or not, all Australians are in the same economic unit and we succeed or fail together. We might be surprised at how much good will and common sense would emerge from a national conference on the economy, provided that the issues were presented clearly and fairly. Of course, such a conference might not succeed, but the alternative of sitting back and waiting for something to turn up is worse. We should at least give such a conference a try. After all, we have nothing to lose but our unemployment.
– I take the opportunity on this first reading of a money Bill to refer to a matter which is of great concern to me, as I am sure it is to other honourable senators in this place, that is, the disbandment of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Housing Panel, due to take effect on 30 September. It is of concern to me, to people in the Northern Territory, and obviously to many people in Canberra. The Canberra Times drew attention to it last week and again this week, although I would like to note the reference this morning to a statement by the Minister for Construction (Mr McLeay). The article states:
The director of an Aboriginal housing panel, which has accused the Government of giving one housing manufacturer preferential treatment, was conducting a wellorchestrated campaign to persuade the Government not to terminate the panel, the Minister for Construction, Mr McLeay, said yesterday.
I do not know the director of the Housing Panel, Dr Heppel, to whom I shall refer later, and since my material was prepared last week, I am certainly not part of an orchestrated plan. There was no mention of the Housing Panel in the Budget, and we know from the Minister’s statement at Alice Springs on 4 September that he intends to disband the Panel. I quote from a statement made by the Minister in answer to a question put to him in which he said, referring to the Panel:
I know that’s of importance to you because of the work the Housing Panel has been doing around Alice Springs. Last year, the government gave the Housing Panel about $ 1 50,000. 1 looked at it this year, and decided it was better to build houses with that money than to spend it on architects and other people who were working with the Housing Panel. I also decided that if any special help was needed about plans for houses, or how to build houses, I can go to the Commonwealth Department of Construction, or in special cases, I can arrange for a community to get advice from an architect. And in that way, the money that is available to me from the government for housing can be put to better use, because it can be actually building houses whilst I ‘m still in a position to get advice from people whose advice I need about the kind of housing that you want.
Apart from the rather generous use of the first person, the answer given by the Minister was quite unrealistic and brought a response from a number of people. It brought a response from Aborigines in the Northern Territory and in other parts of Australia. It brought a response from people who are concerned with Aboriginal advancement and it also brought a response from members of the Panel. One who was particularly concerned was the chairman of the Tangatjira Council, Mr Wemen Rubuntja, who had originally put the question to Mr Viner. He had this to say:
Mr Viner’s answer is highly unsatisfactory to us. It reveals a paternalistic attitude: he is to make the decisions and to decide what is best for people. He displays an unwarranted faith in the ability of the Department of Construction and adhoc architects/consultants to do the Panel’s work. He glosses over the fact that only a small proportion of the $150,000 was spent locally and wrongly assumes that Department of Construction already employs people who have the necessary skills and time to fill the role.
Why then is the Panel being disbanded? When the Minister made his statement he had this to say:
It will be noted that, according to the extract I read earlier, the Minister decided that it would be better ‘to build houses with’ the money. He did not explain where the money would come from to use the Department of Construction or the special architects. That is something that he has left in the dark. Wenten Rubuntja, referring to the Department of Construction officers, said:
They have none of the personal experience or anthropological training possessed by housing panel staff. Nor do they have the proven loyalty, dedication and responsibility to the Aboriginal community which has been demonstrated by the Panel and which has led to its downfall.
So the chairman of the Council believes that the proven loyalty, dedication and responsibility to the Aboriginal community demonstrated by the Panel is one of the reasons why the Panel has been disbanded. Dr Michael Heppell, the chairman of the Panel, has said that it was the independence of the Panel which upset the Department and the Minister. This independence enabled the Panel to criticise the Department and the Minister as well, and Dr Heppell has suggested that this is one of the reasons why it is being disbanded. In the Canberra Times last week and again today he is reported to have said that the failure to enforce rules governing provision of grants, which had resulted in one company getting a monopoly in the Northern Territory and a large section of the New South Wales market, to which the Panel had referred, had caused it to be disbanded. I quote from the article in the Canberra Times on 13 September in regard to Dr Heppell:
He said the housing panel had warned the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Mr Viner, and his staff five times during the past year, in November and December 1977 and February, March and June this year, of what was taking place. He believed the Government’s decision to disband the panel at the end of this month was a direct result of the panel ‘s efforts to have the matter investigated.
What then was this Panel and what did it do? Basically, it was a group of people who had the responsibility of preparing town plans and designs for houses appropriate for Aboriginal communities. The members of this group would sit down with the Aboriginal people and listen to what they wanted in terms of nouses and town plans. It would involve the Aborigines in its discussions and try to meet their needs. This was necessary because the Government has a long history of building inappropriate houses, a hangover from the days when there was a feeling that Aborigines should become like other Australians, have the same lifestyle, the same clothes, the same education, the same work habits and so on. Honourable senators may recall that I have drawn attention in this place to the effect of that sort of attitude, well meaning as it was, on the education system. Of course, it had the same unfortunate effect on the housing situation.
The other view, again very well meaning, was that Aborigines were entitled to the same housing as white Australians, the suggestion being that it must be ‘as good as’. Unfortunately, whilst we all support the proposition that the houses must be ‘as good as’, it came to mean that the houses must be the same. Of course, this would not meet the needs of the Aborigines but simply leave the people who made the decisions with a clear conscience. The houses being referred to met the needs of white Australians but did not meet the needs of black Australians. As I mentioned earlier, I have discussed this approach to education and the effect it had. Inappropriate became ineffective. There is plenty of evidence to suggest that the Government was on the wrong tack when it was building houses which were ‘the same as ‘ those of white Australians, and I refer to the mile of houses at Papunya. There was certainly not a mile of houses but a long row built about 1964 or 1965. They were not good quality houses but they were much better than the leantos that the Aboriginal people were living in. However, they did not meet their needs- their housing needs, their social needs, their cultural needs- and so they were not lived in. It was as simple as that. The people remained in their lean-tos. There are many examples of this at other centres. In the case of houses that were the same as European houses, many were vandalised and people asked: ‘We have carefully built these three-bedroom houses and fitted them out. Why is it that the people have vandalised them?’. We have the answer from Dr Heppell, who has said:
If you are living in the wrong environment, it is a stressful situation and one of the manifestations of stress is aggression which is often redirected at the immediate physical environment, in this case the house . . .
Sitting suspended from 6 to 8 p.m.
-Before the suspension of the sitting for dinner I was dealing with the vandalisation of what I call ‘the same’ houses, that is, houses built for Aboriginal people on the style of those built for European people. I would like now to go on to look at the attitude which has been adopted by some of the States. Peter Goldie in the article which I quoted earlier cites two examples. I would like to read directly from the Canberra Times. Under the Goldie byline, it had this to say:
Attitudes of authorities to Aboriginal housing vary but two slogans used in the building industry which have been attached to two State authorities sum up previous approaches.
The Western Australian State Housing Commission has said it builds by the slogan, ‘Anti-ravage, anti-savage’, prompting it to build sturdy constructions devoid of fittings and with as few movable pans as possible.
This was translated into building reality in the form of virtually indestructible, impact -resistant and featureless houses with crude amenities and a living room which in the tropical north flooded with every rain.
In Queensland, the Department of Aboriginal and Islander Advancement has encapsulated its policy in the statement, ‘We don’t build houses for Aborigines- we build houses for people It reflects Queensland ‘s stated objective of treating Aborigines like any other citizen, but it is similarly a facade.
The attitude has resulted in construction of a standard, European-style house which is designed to look like the average suburban home but lacks most of its services, fittings and amenities, such as water or electricity.
They are built on the assumption that you design the average home and then subtract everything which makes living in a house worthwhile’, an architect on the panel who has worked extensively in Queensland said.
The approach of the Department of Construction is thought by the panel to have strains of both philosophies and certainly little regard for the views of future occupants.
We might then go on to ask why houses and town plans should be different for Aboriginal people. I think the answer, if one can oversimplify, is that people come from different cultural backgrounds and people who come from different cultural backgrounds require different houses and different town plans. We should design houses to meet the wishes of people. Surely that is not too much to ask. We, as Europeans, are usually happy with the simple box-type house. Within that we can modify to meet our special requirements. But these homes have been demonstrated not to suit the Aboriginal people. The homes must meet their needs and of course, preferably their wants, but certainly their needs must be met. I make the point here that of course each group will have different needs. These must be catered for if the houses are to be acceptable.
Over the years the Aboriginal people have adopted the technique of simply rejecting the things that they do not want. For example, they simply did not live in the houses built for them at Papunya.
I also make the point that some Aboriginal people want three-bedroom houses similar to the ones we use, and of course these people must be catered for. But we must also cater for the others. It is not sufficient to train Aboriginal people to live in the houses that we build for them. I have had personal experience in this. Some 15 years ago I looked at the matter when Gemco on Groote Eylandt wanted Aboriginals, along the lines of the philosophy that I discussed earlier, to have ‘the same’ houses, in other words, the same as European houses. The Aboriginal people rejected them. We went into the cultural background of the people, but it was quite clear that the Aboriginal people from Angurugu did not want to move down to Alyangula and live in these beautiful homes. They were much happier living back at the mission where the homes were more suited to their needs. Had Gemco realised the situation and taken more advice, perhaps from the anthropologists, they might have developed homes within the complex at Alyangula which suited the needs of the Aboriginal people. I am not denigrating the attempts of the people involved; as I said before, people had the best of intentions when they wanted Aboriginal people to have homes that were as good as those that were built for Europeans. But as I indicated earlier, the ‘as good as’ became ‘the same’ and of course the Aboriginal people did not want to use them.
Only a few years ago I looked at the situation at Wave Hill. Excellent homes have been built there- excellent in the sense that you or I would like to live in them. The Aboriginal people kept them very clean and tidy so that they were presentable if people wanted to look through them, but they lived outside, they ate outside and they slept outside. Any person who walked into those homes would regard them as beautiful, sterile buildings, but certainly not homes in the sense that we understand the word.
Town planning is important for the Aboriginal people. I do not want to go into this subject in depth; I simply want to say that family groups like to stay together, but they like some space between their group and the next. There are sound, traditional reasons for this and I will not bore the Senate with them at this stage. I simply make the point that town planning for Aboriginal communities must be done by people who understand. It goes without saying that the people who understand have already talked to the Aboriginal people and have asked them what they want. So the panel attempted to design homes to suit Aboriginal people and to meet their needs. The question can be asked: Was it successful in what it was doing? I refer to the Hay report of May 1976 in which Mr Hay, when referring to the housing panel, said: no group other than the panel is presently capable of doing this necessary innovatory and research work on Aboriginal housing’ and ‘The panel has the skills, which probably no one else possesses, to develop designs for general use . . .
I would suggest that that situation still exists, although the comment was made in 1976. 1 put forward the proposition that no other group has the necessary skills to design towns and to plan houses for Aboriginal people. If the panel is not going to do it, if it is to be disbanded, who is to do the job? Honourable senators might recall the reply by the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs when in Alice Springs to the suggestion that the panel would be disbanded. He said:
I also decided that if any special help was needed about plans for houses, or how to build houses, I can go to the Commonwealth Department of Construction, or in special cases, I can arrange for a community to get advice from an architect.
This is completely unrealistic. There is certainly no indication that the Department of Construction has learnt from its mistakes of previous years. It has not learnt from the history of the last 15 years. Yet in today’s Canberra Times the Minister for Construction, Mr McLeay, was reported as saying:
But the demise of the panel will not alter the quality of service provided to all Aborigines.
This, I claim, is clearly nonsense. The Department might build quality houses, but it will certainly not build appropriate houses. Certainly the Department of Construction has a role; no one would deny that. The role is to build to meet the needs of clients; that is, to design, to prepare plans, and to supervise the work, but not to make decisions on what a client needs. That is the situation that is developing with regard to the Department of Construction. Evidence abounds to suggest that the Department has gone well beyond its charter. It tells the client what it wants. Perhaps that is being a little uncharitable. What it probably does is simply subjugate the client’s needs to architectural design. The Department says: ‘It is easier to build this way’, or ‘It is cheaper to build this way’ or ‘We are more used to building this way’.
I remember the situation as regards school buildings. So often buildings in the Northern Territory with its tropical climate were designed in temperate conditions, so we were sent hot boxes with inadequate ventilation, and of poor design with cupboards in the wrong places. They also provided inadequate shade. In other words, they did not meet the needs of the people of the Northern Territory. I have also had complaints made to me about hospitals in the Northern Territory. For example, in the labour ward at the hospital at Warribri there is no running water. Also, there are complaints that in regional hospitals costing millions of dollars the doors are too narrow for trolleys to pass through and the facilities are inappropriate. Such buildings are architecturally sound. They were well planned and well designed except that they did not meet the needs of the client.
Of course the Department of Construction would say that it builds to a brief, but this is not enough. We must have client representation. We must have a clear indication of what people want. I do not want to digress, but if we are going to build a school, it is obvious that a trained teacher, an experienced teacher, ought to be sitting by the architect when the school is being designed so that there will not be costly mistakes. If we are building a hospital, it is fairly obvious that we will need a matron standing by to make sure that the design will be functional when the building is erected. If we are going to build for Aboriginal people, then we certainly must have an Aboriginal group or a representative of an Aboriginal group standing by to advise.
I claim that the Department of Construction has not the expertise to design homes to suit Aboriginals. It needs social anthropologists and others to come in and give it some help. The Minister might say that the Department could prepare a brief and simply hand the matter over to the Department of Construction. I have already mentioned the problem with the preparation of the brief. The Department is not used to building these sorts of buildings. It is conditioned to the European type of construction and so it will churn those out. The Minister for Construction made a suggestion in his statement that perhaps we could get an architect to come in and help. I think it is quite clear that the panel has found it necessary to have not only architects but also social anthropologists and others who have a good training with an anthropological background and who can help design homes for Aboriginal people. It is not enough to say: ‘All right, this one architect can be the man to plan for Aboriginal people’. For a start, it would take him years to learn. Also we are still not sure we will get what we want. After all, there have been experts in designing schools in the Department of Construction for many years. They still make fundamental mistakes if the designs are not submitted to teachers of to other educationists so that they can look at them and modify them. I make the point again that each community is different and therefore there would be differing needs. This expertise of knowing what is needed for the Aboriginal people is available. Why not use it? Last year the Budget was $173,000. Goldie, in his article estimates that the work done would have cost $23 1,000 if carried out by the Department of Construction or by private consultants. I make the point that even if we had used these groups it would not have been as good or as appropriate and it would not have met the need. I call on the Minister for Construction to reconsider his decision in respect of the panel. Wenten Rubuntja, whom I have mentioned before, had this to say about the Minister’s decision:
That is the Minister- implies that specialist architects are no longer needed. It would indeed be cheaper Tor the government to get Construction to reproduce existing designs in the short term: but for satisfactory housing in the long term, the need is for large numbers of good quality houses which are designed to meet the specific requirements of specific communities. Tribal, cultural and social differences between groups are real and important. The Housing Panel was in a position to fully investigate these differences and make designs accordingly. The Department of Construction is not: with the best will in the world it would take them years to attain the Housing Panel’s skills in the area. They would start off with a backlog of mistrust and bureaucratic inertia to be overcome. They have none of the personal experience or anthropological training possessed by the Housing Panel staff. Nor do they have the proven loyalty, dedication and responsibility to the Aboriginal community which has been demonstrated by the Panel and which has led to its downfall.
I claim that the housing panel has been successful. In Alice Springs alone it is in close consultation with 12 housing associations and evidence suggests that they have been given a great deal of assistance by the housing panel. People are moving into the homes, living in them and looking after them. Disbandment may not only affect the situation in the future but also it may cost the Government much more than it would save. I do not think I have to dwell on the point that adequate housing is the first step towards a healthy community. Let us have houses that people want and will live in. Let us see the panel funded so it can carry on its excellent and proven work.
– I wish to raise a matter concerning civil aviation. I am concerned at an apparent campaign against European based airlines aimed at disallowing them landing rights in Australia. Amongst the carriers concerned are KLM Royal
Dutch Airlines, the first international carrier into Australia. As a matter of fact it has been bringing people to Australia for 40 years- as KNILM Royal Netherlands East Indies Airline it operated to Australia as early as 1 938. Other carriers concerned are UTA, Lufthansa, Alitalia and JAT airlines. It seems to me that a rumour has been floated about the closing down of landing rights to test public reaction. As a result in the Senate we have had protests and petitions, especially from groups of former citizens of the countries concerned, asking that the situation be clarified, especially in support of KLM and JAT airlines. Naturally a large number of these people when travelling home to Europe choose to fly with the carrier of their former country. That is why I was surprised when Senator Peter Baume presented a petition which stated:
That the JAT- Yugoslav Airlines service between Australia and Belgrade is a disservice to most airline travellers because:
1 ) Persons seeking a visa to Yugoslavia are subjected to standover tactics by the staff of the Yugoslav consulates in order to induce them to fly by JAT.
) JAT travel agencies are understood to function as an extension of the Yugoslav Secret Service UDBA.
On arrival in Yugoslavia tourists are questioned by authorities as to whether they flew by JAT, and if not they are met with disapproval and severe criticism.
The quality of service as offered by JAT is below international standards in all respects, and particularly as regards to health standards.
– I take it that the substance of the petition surprised you, not that a senator presented a petition given to him by Australian citizens?
– That is certainly the situation. I have presented petitions here with which I have either agreed or disagreed. The reason I am raising this matter is not only because of the petition concerning JAT Airlines but also because in mid-June of this year I represented the Australian Labor Party at a conference in Belgrade. I travelled by JAT and therefore I think I am in a position to deal with some of the points raised in the petition. The preamble to the petition states that the Yugoslav airlines service between Australia and Belgrade is a disservice to most airline travellers. At the time I made the booking I found a quite remarkable situation when I rang Qantas Airways and JAT. Qantas flies one 747 aircraft to Belgrade each week and JAT flies two 707 aircraft. That means a capacity of approximately 700 people travelling between Australia and Belgrade each week. I found out that all the airlines were booked out for two weeks in both first and economy classes. I repeat that that is a quite remarkable situation. I also found that JAT is the only airline that lands in Skopje which is the capital of Macedonia. This is obviously a service to former Macedonians who now live in Australia and who wish to travel home. Therefore they can avoid a trip to Belgrade and a return to Skopje which is what they would have to go through if they travelled by Qantas. Bookings this heavy could certainly not be said to point to a disservice. The petition goes on to state:
This is something that I cannot comment about. In fact this could certainly be true. Paragraph 2 states:
JAT travel agencies are understood to function as an extension of the Yugoslav Secret Service UDBA.
Again this is something that could also be true but I would think that this would apply to some other airlines and certainly some other travel agencies that exist in Australia at present. Paragraph 3 states:
On arrival in Yugoslavia tourists are questioned by authorities as to whether they flew by JAT, and if not they are met with disapproval and severe criticism.
Again this could be true. However I am sure that this would not apply to Australian citizens who did not formerly come from Yugoslavia. In fact Qantas has informed me that this is not the position with people who travel by Qantas to Belgrade. As far as security generally is concerned I was perturbed recently to receive information that a large Asian carrier that operates out of Sydney and Melbourne was allowing people with diplomatic immunity- that is people with diplomatic passports- to carry weapons, mainly hand guns, on its aircraft. Qantas does not allow that situation. This has led to a number of people from certain embassies and consulates in Australia switching their custom from Qantas to this Asian carrier. I think this is a point which should concern all people who travel out of Australia, especially on the Asian sector. I was concerned about paragraph 4 in the petition which states:
The quality of service as offered by JAT is below international standards in all respects, and particularly as regards to health standards.
I am not saying that JAT is the best airline in the world. It is certainly not. But it is certainly not the worst airline in the world. It uses equipment from the United States of America. At the moment it is flying Boeing 707, 727 and DC 10 aircraft, amongst other equipment. The DC10 aircraft have recently been introduced on the BelgradeNew York route. I believe that this Government at the moment is preventing JAT flying the
DC 10 aircraft on the Sydney route. I believe that the present Government has offered it landing rights for one DC 10 aircraft a week whereas JAT wants landing rights for two planes. This means that if the airline were allowed to fly in one DC10 aircraft as opposed to two 707 aircraft there would certainly be a reduction in the number of seats available on the Sydney to Belgrade route. I am certainly not comparing JAT with Qantas. I believe that Qantas is one of the best airlines in the world. Recently I was talking to a number of people from all over the world who were in Australia on a travel convention. They mentioned SAS, Lufthansa, Singapore Airlines and one of the Brazilian airlines, but in all of the conversations Qantas came up as one of the top three airlines in the world.
I made inquiries about the health standards about which I was concerned and I found that all the meals for JAT when it leaves Australia are prepared by Qantas and that when it leaves Singapore all the meals are prepared by Singapore Airlines. Therefore, as far as the meals are concerned, the health standards would be the same as those which apply to any other airline leaving Australia or Singapore. At the turnabout in Sydney all interior servicing- that is, the cleaning of the toilets and the cleaning out of the aircraft- is done by Qantas. The same sort of thing occurs in Singapore where it is all done by Singapore Airlines. Therefore, I am at a loss to understand why we get a petition which complains about the health standards of this airline.
I am a supporter of Qantas. I have spoken quite a few times in the Senate in support of Qantas. However, I am concerned at the apparent campaign to favour Qantas and British Airways on the Sydney to Europe sector. I believe that the campaign could damage our relations with other countries. I believe also that Australian Government representatives in Yugoslavia would be embarrassed by the sentiments which are expressed in the petition and, therefore, that the Government should make its intention clear, avoid speculation and make a statement as to the future of the European carriers. A number of people who have come from Italy, Greece, Yugoslavia and Holland are seeking, particularly at this point, to bring to this country many of their elderly relatives. It is natural that they should seek to bring these people on the aircraft of the carrier of the country which has looked after them, which speaks their appropriate language and which can give them the relevant service. For this reason again I emphasise the point that the Government should make a statement as to the future of these European carriers.
– The Senate has before it a motion for the first reading of three Bills involving the apple and pear industry and, of course, it is customary for the Senate to use these first reading debates to discuss virtually any matter that anyone cares to raise. I wish to bring the Senate back to the nature of the Bills themselves and to talk about the apple and pear industry, particularly as it affects my State of Tasmania. These Bills are important annual measures for the Australian apple and pear industry. Of course, debate on them is treated with some degree of scorn by some honourable senators who do not understand and do not recognise the importance of the industry to Tasmania.
During 1977, when Tasmania produced 3.6 million boxes of apples representing 2 1 per cent of the total Australian apple production, it maintained the position of Australia’s top apple producing and exporting State. In 1976, for example, Tasmania produced nearly 4 million boxes amounting to 26 per cent of the Australian crop with New South Wales, the next largest apple producing State, producing 3.1 million boxes or 20 per cent of the total production. The decline in Tasmania’s position in 1977 was due largely to severe frosts which substantially reduced the crop. The predominance in exports remains, and, whilst New South Wales is a substantial producer, most of its production is consumed on the domestic market. In 1977 New South Wales exported only 68,000 boxes whereas Tasmania exported 1.5 million boxes. The next largest exporting State was Western Australia, which in 1977 snipped 654,000 cases out of Australia. It is for these reasons that Tasmanians take a particular interest in the Bills which are before the Senate and that I shall move an amendment, which I shall be moving during the course of the second reading debate, to increase the amount provided for apples from $2.20 a box to $3 a box. The amendment which the Opposition proposes is that clause 5 of the Bill be amended by substituting $3 for $2.20.
It has been traditional over the years for all Tasmanian members of the Senate to be involved in these annual debates concerning the fruit industry in that State and I have no doubt that those contributions are made with the intention of helping to resolve the problems of the industry. For that reason it is quite wrong to suggest that the speeches which are made in this place on this subject are necessarily for political reasons only. The debate this year takes place in what may be described as a unique context and a unique position for the industry. They are unique because for the first time in many years the industry has reached a stage of comparative stability. It now has a real chance of becoming viable in its own right. Having been personally involved in the restructuring scheme, I am very conscious of the serious personal problems which were created for many growers in the Huon Valley in southern Tasmania. The tree-pull scheme was a most difficult policy to implement not only for economic reasons but also for personal and social reasons. It meant that many growers left the industry because they were unable to survive in the extremely difficult economic conditions which prevailed over a number of years. That restructuring process was, of course, introduced by the previous Liberal-National Country Party Government prior to 1972 and pursued by the Labor Government on coming to office. However, I believe that those policies, difficult medicine though they were, were justified because we now have an industry composed of efficient producers who can look forward to reasonable prospects of viability in the years ahead.
The important point that we must concede is that it would be wrong to throw the industry on its own resources entirely too soon. It is for that reason that the Opposition will argue that support in real terms for the fruit industry must be maintained at a level- and, if need be, increased- to ensure that the industry does not slide back again into a situation of uncertainty and further decline. It is a difficult task to predict with any accuracy the overseas market position for the industry for 1979 and, in the event of its being a bad year for our fruit exports, it is all the more essential that we back the industry so that the current confidence is not destroyed by one bad season. It would be disastrous if, for the sake of saving a few dollars of federal revenue, all the efforts of the past few years were to be lost by government withdrawal of adequate levels of support. In fact, looking back over those years, I doubt whether either side of politics is able to claim any advantage over the other because essentially there has been a common approach to the industry’s problems. For these reasons I would reject any suggestion of cynicism about the Opposition’s position which was made in the House of Representatives last week by the honourable member for Franklin (Mr Goodluck).
The figures show that the current state of the apple and pear industry belies the traumas of the years when the United Kingdom market was adversely affected by Britain’s entry into the European Economic Community and by the periods of serious overproduction which led to unstable prices and economic and personal uncertainty. Australia’s sale of apples to Britain reached a peak of 4.5 million boxes in 1965 and has been declining ever since. Total shipments were 1.4 million boxes in 1976 and 750,000 boxes in 1977. There is no prospect of the competition from other southern hemisphere producers lessening. There are some advantages in markets such as Singapore and the Middle East for Australian apple exporters because many of these countries maintain a ban against South African products. On the other hand, New Zealand must be regarded as a perpetual threat to our exports. Originally the industry in Australia thought that the export outlook for the forthcoming season might be bleak. In 1977 Europe had a very low apple production with a total EEC apple crop of 5 million tonnes. The main factors contributing to the low production were drought and generally very poor growing conditions. News recently has come to hand that the hopes of a bumper UK crop have been dashed by heavy unexpected losses due to unfavourable weather in July. It now appears that the UK forecast will be reduced from 400,000 tonnes to 330,000 tonnes. There is an indication that the United Kingdom pear production might prove to be disappointing. Whilst none likes to see other people in trouble, another mediocre season could help the Tasmanian apple export industry.
Naturally, the Tasmanian industry does not expect to rely on the misfortunes of others for the marketing of its product. It is attempting to resolve some of the major problems and to devise effective means of expanding exports and increasing domestic consumption. The industry has reached the stage of comparative stability. The effects of the tree pull scheme have become operative and the number of growers in the industry and the annual production seem to be base figures from which the industry can consolidate.
In 1969 there were 815 apple and pear growers in Tasmania producing from 1,108 orchards with 2.2 million apple trees and 178,000 pear trees. The current situation is that there are just over 300 growers producing from about 600 orchards with 1.6 million apple trees and 1 10,000 pear trees. In pure efficiency terms, the tree pull scheme has resulted in increased productivity and this in itself must have contributed to sections of the industry being able to cope with increases in costs which have resulted from increased chemical and fertiliser costs as well as on costs of packing, shipping and marketing. The Tasmanian industry shows a better performance than the apple industry throughout Australia. The yields per bearing tree have been steadily increasing and in 1975 the figure was 3.61 bushels per tree, whereas the national average was 3.3 bushels per bearing tree.
The Industries Assistance Commission report of January 1976 into the industry described the adjustment results accurately when it said:
When adjustment has been in reponse to pressures from urban expansion, changes have taken place with little disruption to growers and others dependent on the industry because of profitable alternative land use and employment opportunities. Elsewhere, however, adjustment in the industry has severely disrupted the well being of many growers concerned. The rapid fall of income of growers dependent on export markets combined with the increasing debt levels often led to situations of serious hardship.
The IAC report pointed out that:
The emergence of a buoyant land market in 1973 assisted some growers to adjust, particularly those in the Huon Valley who were favourably situated near main roads or in the locations suitable for part-time farming.
Regrettably, the policies of the current Government which have contributed to a worsening of the employment position have reduced the chances of further adjustment and employment for part-time employees who are so essential to the fruit industry. The growers cannot be expected to carry the costs of maintaining employees for periods longer than they are required. The Tasmanian Government has encouraged other areas of development but the overall policies of the present Federal Government have created real problems for those who are dependent on the industry for employment.
This brings me to the all important question of the costs of producing, packing, storing, carting and shipping apples both for domestic consumption and export. Some of the problems associated with the production and harvesting of apples are similar to those of other industries but there are some special aspects which create real headaches for apple producers. Some of those costs have been added to by decisions announced in the last Budget. Apparently the present Government has forgotten that the apple growing industry relies heavily on the use of fertiliser and chemical sprays. Many sprays are derived from petrochemicals and as such their prices have sky rocketed over the past five years. The Reserve Bank’s import price index for imported chemicals shows that it has risen from 98.6 points in 1 972 to 2 1 8 points in 1 978 and one would expect that .further increases will occur as Australia moves toward international oil price parity. The Budget announcement to increase the cost of oil products by 3.5c a litre will immediately be reflected in the costs of this year’s apple season as well as in the costs of harvesting and packing when the harvest begins early next year. Contrary to the impression given by the Fraser Government, the costs of apple growing have continued to increase markedly. Between 1975 and 1978, growing costs have risen by an estimated 37.8 per cent, packing costs by 17.71 per cent, cool storage costs by 33.3 per cent and cartage costs by 44 per cent.
There had been hope in the apple industry that the present Government’s promises about reducing inflation might have been fulfilled, but for another 1 8 months at least cost increases will offset the basic stability which has been established by rationalisation of the industry. As the IAC noted:
Considerable benefits have accrued to export dependent regions from the operation of the schemes through their support of labour, material and service inputs.
If the opportunity improvements which the industry in Tasmania has achieved could be sustained and the ocean freight rates stabilised and measures taken by the industry effectively reduce the impact of cost increases, there is a real chance that the national promotion being undertaken by the Apple and Pear Corporation and the changes being contemplated in methods of marketing could help the Tasmanian exporters meet South African and New Zealand competition.
There is some hope that the overseas freight costs will be stabilised and reduced as a proportion of the total cost and freight charges for apples and pears shipped to Europe. In 1963 freight charges represented 40 per cent of the cost and freight value and in 1975 they skyrocketed to 59 per cent. I understand that the Tasmanian Apple and Pear Marketing Authority has been able to negotiate with Refrigerated Express Lines an arrangement under which the freight rates for apples and pears shipped on conventional reefer tonnage will be held constant for three years except for minor adjustments. This may be one case in which an Australian industry is enjoying the results of a declining United States dollar. If that arrangement can be maintained, then there is some chance that the three-year market outlook could be less bleak than originally expected.
There is also good news for the industry in that the loading rates of conventional vessels at the apple outport of Port Huon have substantially improved. However, like many of the people in the apple industry, I am very concerned that the Tasmanian apple industry may have to bear a disproportionate part of the cost of changed redundancy arrangements for Australia waterside labour. I understand that an additional charge of $3 a man hour will be made for the redundancy levy. The apple and pear industry has been unable to utilise container transport effectively. Some trials have taken place and during the last season 80,519 bushels of apples have been shipped in containers. The exercise became a reality only because the Australia to Europe Shipping Conference was prepared to meet part of the cost of bringing empty refrigerated containers to Tasmania for returning loaded to Melbourne and thence for shipment to Europe. The particular problems of apple shipping and the relative small quantity available at certain times makes it impossible to place a large container vessel on a berth at Port Huon or Hobart. It is fortunate that at the moment there are adequate reefer vessels because within the last five years conventional reefer tonnage has been at a price premium. If the Middle East and Far East markets are to be developed, I suspect that the apple and pear industry will have to examine closely the use of reefer containers. All these areas are moving more and more into containerised vessels. In addition, initial shipments such as those which have been made on a trial basis to the Middle East could not be sustained at a level to warrant the use of conventional tonnage.
The overall promotion campaign conducted overseas by the Australian Apple and Pear Corporation which a Labor Party Government established has been attempting to help maintain export demand. Last year $130,590 was spent. Of that amount the Federal Government provided $51,439 and an export market development grant was available which reduced the net cost of the promotion to the Corporation. One of the disturbing features of the Corporation report and advice received from the State marketing authority is the fact that export buyers are becoming more demanding in their quality and size requirements. The Apple and Pear Corporation commented in its latest annual report:
Shipments to the potentially important Indonesian market were also disappointing due largely to a reduction in the availability of the required sizes and varieties.
I am well aware that marketing of apples is a matter of considerable controversy in Tasmania. There are important sections of the industry which would like to see TAMA- that is, the Tasmanian Apple and Pear Marketing Authorityhave absolute control over the shipment of all apples from Tasmania mainly on the grounds that it would then be possible to have a greater degree of control over the sizes and varieties which are available for shipment. On the other hand, equally important sections of the industry have strong objections to such control on the basis that the performance of a statutory body with absolute control over the industry would become complacent and that the best interests of the apple industry in Tasmania would not be served. I am equally concerned by the amount of interstate rivalry over the disposal of the Australian apple crop.
I regard the interests of both the individual growers and the industry as a whole as being too important for much of the time to be wasted by organisational squabbling and interstate rivalries. It would be in the interest of the industry for the parties involved to seek some measure of compromise- to agree to experiments which would have the chance of proving new methods and techniques and ensure that every possible means of improving the markets for apples and the returns to growers are examined. I am certain that if as much time had been devoted to cost reduction methods and marketing improvements as has been devoted to intra industry fighting in Tasmania over the last two years, the industry would be better off.
One of the specific areas in which I believe that the Australian Government could provide specific assistance to the industry, in particular the Tasmanian industry, is to agree to contribute, in the initial stages at least, to frost and hail insurance schemes. Whilst precise figures are unavailable, most apple growers experience frost and hail damage. In Tasmania a voluntary scheme is operated by the marketing authority through the Tasmanian Government Insurance Office. The scheme provides cover for less than one-quarter of the apple growers in the State. On this matter the IAC report commented:
Many growers complained to the Commission that insurance against hail damage was difficult, due mainly to the lack of interest shown by the insurance companies in this type of business. Where the insurance was available, the premiums charged were considered high (up to 20 per cent of the value of the crop) and most growers were reluctant or unable to pay these high premiums.
Recently I gave evidence to the Tasmanian Government committee inquiring into the operations of the apple and pear marketing authority. Specifically, consideration was being given to the establishment of a compulsory hail insurance scheme which was soundly based on insurance principles but into which the Federal and State governments would pay a premium contribution until such time as sufficient funds had been accumulated to allow for any major claims to be met from interest earned by the funds invested from premiums received. My proposal was for a 5c a bushel contribution by growers, 5c by the State Government and 10c by the Federal
Government. This would represent a small increase in payments by growers but it would not be an unreasonable increase.
To get such a scheme operating effectively, it would be necessary to ensure the added input by the two governments in order that a proper reserve could be established over a three-year or four-year period. The contributions by either government could be made on a grant on loan basis, or a mixture of both. Such details would need to be worked out in consultation with the industry. Suggestions of a higher grower contribution of as much as 10c a bushel would tend to place a significant financial load on producers at a time which, as I said earlier, would not be opportune. I note that the IAC report indicated:
All risk and hail insurance schemes, both compulsory and voluntary, have been successfully operated overseas. Some of these schemes involved contributions by governments.
Whilst I am reluctant to canvass a compulsory scheme and whilst I recognise the objections which some growers might have, the IAC’s findings are again applicable when it states:
Compulsory insurance ensures participation in the scheme and generally enables a more comprehensive coverage to be offered in return for lower and more stable rates of premium.
Because of the income problems arising from the readjustment process in the industry, income equalisation deposits are not a reasonable alternative means of ironing out the risks for most apple and pear growers. In my view the Australian Government would contribute positively to the stability of the Tasmanian apple and pear industry if it agreed to contribute 50 per cent of the total premiums in, say, the first five years. It would enable growers to establish a firm basis for future operations. It is on the same basis that the Opposition will be seeking to have the stabilisation payments lifted from $2.20 to $3 a box. This would enable growers to be confident that they can meet likely increased costs arising mainly from the Government’s Budget measures and determine improved marketing methods and procedures.
I went through the industry’s problems of the early 1970s. Whilst some of the decisions were agonising, it appeared that the end result would ensure a measure of stability for an important region of Tasmania. If efficient productive orchards, protected by an efficient and effective hail insurance scheme and supported by moderate levels of government contributions to a commercially-based insurance scheme could be established, I believe the industry would have a firm basis on which to build its viability and achieve what I am sure has been the desire of everyone in the Tasmanian fruit industry for many years, namely, the capacity to survive in its own right without having to fall back on continuing government support.
I regret that the honourable member for Franklin (Mr Goodluck) spoke in the manner that he did in the House of Representatives last week. I do not question his desire to see the Tasmanian fruit industry prosper, but it will not prosper simply because he would like it to prosper. It will prosper only if there is a continuing analysis of the problems that confront it and of the direction in which government support is needed to help the industry stand on its own two feet. The amendment which we in the Labor Party will be moving at the second reading stage is designed to do exactly that. It may be- we would hope this to be the case- that the market conditions in the 1979 season will be such that increased stabilisation payments are unnecessary. However, I emphasise again the point that I made earlier: We must not risk the industry being set back again because of the vagaries of the market. Our proposal, if accepted by the Senate, would remove any chance of that happening.
– I rise to take the opportunity presented by the first reading debate on the Apple and Pear Stabilisation Bills before the Senate this evening to draw attention to a matter of great importance to me and my constituents, the people of the Australian Capital Territory, that is, the state of depression, decline, low morale, high unemployment and general disorganisation of the Capital Territory, the nation’s capital, that has resulted from three years of Fraser Government. There was a time when Canberra was the success story of decentralisation, the success story of growth centres. There was a time when the Australian Capital Territory seemed to represent and to be able to achieve many of the things to which communities in other parts of Australia aspired. There was a time when I suppose we in the A.C.T. could have been fairly criticised for being an advantaged community, advantaged in that it was a planned community, a growing community, a community with excellent educational standards and wide employment opportunities, and a community which was thriving in many ways. It was a place which generally was harmonious in terms of the society that we had created here.
But since the Fraser Government first grabbed power in 1975 and subsequently retained that hold on power, a very different picture has emerged here in the A.C.T. Far from being the thriving growth centre, far from being the developing and flourishing national capital which it had been, it has now become a seriously depressed place, a place where for the youth and the children of the community there is very little hope. This all bears discussion in the national Parliament of Australia because it is really here in the Australian Capital Territory that the policies of the Fraser Government are most clearly manifest. Here in the A.C.T. there is no State government which we can blame or from which we can seek protection from the excesses of the Fraser Government. The A.C.T. has one tier of government only and that is the Federal Government, although we have a locally elected body which many of us had hoped would become a territorial government. That body is still at this stage an advisory body.
So all the policies which are implemented in the A.C.T. emanate from the Fraser Government. All the effects of those policies must be seen as matters for which the Fraser Government is responsible. Here in the Australian Capital Territory the Fraser Government has had a perfect opportunity to develop its ideology- its anti-public sector ideology, its anti-growth ideology. We see the results. I think that what has happened here is really an example of what is happening throughout Australia, but it is happening throughout Australia more slowly or in a less systematic way than it is happening here. The extraordinary growth in the level of unemployment, the decline of the building and construction industry, the decline in the retail industry- the absolute disorganisation of private enterprise generally in the Australian Capital Territory- is a pattern that we will see repeated throughout Australia, but of course it will not progress as rapidly elsewhere as it has progressed here.
Let us consider what the Opposition considers to be the crucial issue of our time, namely, the employment issue. It is the crucial issue of our time because in our society the right to earn a living is a basic right. This is a society in which success in economic terms means success in all sorts of other terms. That is not a situation which the party I represent necessarily supports; nonetheless, it is a situation which we recognise exists. So if in our society a person is denied the right to earn a living that person is denied all sorts of other freedoms, liberties and opportunities which are consequent upon economic independence.
Let us look at the employment situation in the national capital, which is ruled solely by the Fraser Government and has been ruled by it since the end of 1975. Of course, the unemployment situation in the Australian Capital Territory is much worse than the actual statistics indicate. This is because unemployed people leave the Australian Capital Territory as soon as they become unemployed if they can and if they have any prospect of finding employment elsewhere. But of course it is not possible for all unemployed people to leave. So let us take a look at the situation that has developed with respect to employment opportunities in the Australian Capital Territory since the Fraser Government has ruled this city. Since 1975 there has been a 480 per cent increase in the level of unemployment in the Australian Capital Territory. In May 1975 only 1,200 persons were registered as unemployed. In August this year over 5,800 persons were registered as unemployed. We must add to that figure all the unregistered unemployed persons we know to be suffering unemployment in the Australian Capital Territory.
– How many are unemployed now?
– There are 5,800 persons registered as unemployed. During August this year the Commonwealth Employment Service managed to place in jobs only 8 per cent of those people who were seeking employment. The hardest hit are the young people. Last month 65 unemployed youth were seeking every job vacancy. I think that that is a ratio which probably is not worse in any other part of Australia. Since May 1975 there has been a 32 per cent decrease in the number of people working in the building and construction industry.
The building and construction industry was the second largest employer, after the Commonwealth Government, in the Australian Capital Territory. Private industry has lost 4.6 per cent of its jobs but the labour force has grown by 12.4 per cent, that is 1 1 ,000 people. So the number of people in the Australian Capital Territory classified as not being in the labour force has increased by 6,300 or 18 per cent, whilst the number of people in work has increased by only 8 per cent. The most recent annual report of the Department of the Capital Territory shows an actual decrease in the number of Commonwealth Government employees since 1975. That is a decrease from 53,300 to 52,900 people in 1 977. The report shows a decrease in the number of civilian employees from 34,500 in 1975 to 33, 100 in 1977.
That decrease in employment opportunities in the public sector in the Australian Capital Territory is not significant only in terms of” the hardship it imposes on those people who have lost their jobs or who cannot find jobs; it is significant also because it means that the level of public services being made available to Australian Capital Territory citizens has declined quite drastically. As a locally elected senator- a representative of this community- I am very much aware of the long delays in attending to very urgent matters, such as processing housing applications, processing applications for emergency housing for homeless families, processing applications for emergency welfare assistance from women who have been deserted or from homeless youth or any other person in urgent need of assistance. In all these crucial areas, where the Public Service should be offering efficient and effective assistance, that assistance has deteriorated in its quality because of the decline in the number of persons who are working in the relevant areas.
When we turn to the private sector what do we find? Ironically, private sector employees and employers in the Australian Capital Territory have suffered under the Liberal Government in a way which would never have been possible under a Labor government. During the past year we have seen a remorseless decline in the construction industry in Canberra. This decline has had profound effects on many other areas of commercial life and has caused considerable social dislocation and unemployment. Despite the fact that evidence to this effect has been available ever since the Fraser Government came into office, last year the Fraser Government made it almost impossible for anybody to get a Commissioner for Housing loan. By reducing to $232 a week the combined income level for eligibility for this loan the Government virtually cut off government finance for home buyers. It would be quite evident to honourable senators present that there would be many families whose combined income might be slightly in excess of $232 a week but who would in no way be able to qualify for private housing finance.
The introduction of this severe eligibility test for Commissioner for Housing loans has meant a collapse in the demand for government housing and, indeed, a total standstill in the Government’s home building program in the Australian Capital Territory. Last year only 200 government houses were built, compared with 862 houses in 1975. Public works programs have slowed down and planned construction projects show no signs of going ahead. Because skilled builders and trades people cannot get work they are leaving Canberra. Last financial year 50.5 per cent fewer indentured apprentices were taken on in the building and construction industry. The building industry employs 10 per cent of the total Australian Capital Territory work force and it indirectly affects the jobs of many more people. It is vital that the downturn in the industry is arrested, otherwise we will see thousands more people out of work.
It is imperative that immediate action is taken to stimulate the construction industry. Income levels to determine eligibility for government loans for home buyers should be set at a realistic level. A program of public works should be set in train to include, for example, the sealing of rural roads in the Australian Capital Territory, the construction of a bridge at Tharwa, the realignment of the coast road and the construction of the Belconnen Health Centre. These are all projects for which the community has great need and which could usefully be developed at this stage. The development of these projects would create employment opportunities in the most depressed area of employment in the Australian Capital Territory. The underlying cause of the slump in Canberra’s economy and the decline in the building industry is this Government’s obsessive cost cutting. Progress along the road back to recovery is dependent upon raising Public Service staff ceilings and providing proper services for the public. Only in this way can there be a return to the planned development of Canberra which, in turn, will give a revival of confidence to the private sector.
When we turn to consider the Government as an employer in the Australian Capital Territory- indeed, an employer of nearly twothirds of the employees in the Australian Capital Territory- we find that the Fraser Government has a very bad record indeed. There has been a decline in real terms in public sector employment. Whilst taxes have increased and the cost to the taxpayer of services provided by the Government has increased, the services have deteriorated. The Commonwealth Employment Service and the Department of Social Security are doing less to help their clients; they seem more concerned with preventing persons from getting their benefits than they are in assisting them to find employment.
Legal aid was one of the great reforms of the Whitlam era. A few years ago we heard a commitment from the coalition parties that legal aid would be continued, but legal aid has been cut back to a point where almost no one is eligible for assistance. The Government has refused to increase the staff of the Legal Aid Office and in order to save approximately $100,000 the Government has refused to adjust Commonwealth Government employees’ compensation pensions and has thus ensured deprivation for the widows and families of public servants killed in the line of duty and for those invalided out of their work.
An example of how the Government is eroding the opportunities for public sector employment in the Australian Capital Territory is the current uncertainty with regard to the future of Medibank. At the moment approximately 400 officers are employed by Medibank in the Australian Capital Territory- 5,000 officers are employed nationally- and at least half of these officers are faced with retrenchment soon unless the Minister for Health, Mr Hunt, is able to reach some satisfactory arrangement with the private funds whereby Medibank can continue to compete in a realistic way with the private funds by offering a variety of health insurance services to the public. If Mr Hunt is not able to achieve this end at least another 200 public servants in Canberra will be out of work.
The argument against self-government in the Australian Capital Territory has always been that self-government would lead to an increase in charges, but if we look at what has happened in the Territory in the last three years we find that there has been a drastic increase in charges with no increase at all in community participation and decision-making with respect to the setting of those charges or, indeed, the purposes to which revenue so raised is put. At this stage Canberra people have no say at all in how their rates are set, the level of the rates and how those rates are spent. The Government treats the Australian Capital Territory as a fiefdom from which it can raise revenue at will and to which it has no responsibilities.
This year’s Budget levied an overall increase of 14 per cent on Australian Capital Territory costs and charges, and that is twice the current inflation rate. For example, revenue from parking fees has increased 153 per cent, revenue from rates has increased 9 per cent and revenue from motor vehicle registrations has increased 13 per cent. The justification offered by the Minister for the Capital Territory (Mr Ellicott) for these increases is that Canberra must pay its way but there has been no real effort by the Fraser Government to ascertain to what extent Canberra people actually do pay for the services that they get. No proper system of territorial accounts has yet been introduced into the Australian Capital Territory. The system of municipal accounting as present so far is a farce. For example, the
Commonwealth does not pay rates on its properties in the Australian Capital Territory and, of course, it is a very extensive tenant of properties in the Territory. So we have this totally confused debate about the proper course of development for self-government in the Australian Capital Territory which is somehow dependent on the extent to which local charges will be increased, yet we still have from the Fraser Government no clear accounting procedure by which the citizens of the Australian Capital Territory can actually judge what they are paying and what they are getting in return and what any form of selfgovernment would mean in terms of increased charges or perhaps even reduced charges.
When we turn to the education system in the Australian Capital Territory we see a very sorry sight indeed. I believe that one of the great achievements during the period of the Whitlam Government was the establishment of an independent schools authority for the Australian Capital Territory. At the time of its establishment there was a great deal of idealism about the nature of this schools system and about how it would develop into being one which was responsive to community needs, in which there was a very high degree of parent participation and professional participation by the teachers in making decisions and, indeed, in which there was a high degree of student participation in the high schools and secondary colleges. It was hoped that the Australian Capital Territory would be able to develop more options in regard to the education of children from all backgrounds and that it would be able to introduce educational innovations in areas such as assessments, the kind of education offered to senior secondary students, alternatives to traditional academic education and so forth.
The Australian Capital Territory had become a focus for educational innovators and educational thinkers. Many of the fruits of the thoughts of these people were embodied in the early plans for an Australian Capital Territory Schools Authority. Indeed such an authority was established and a system of secondary colleges was introduced. A system of school boards with a high degree of parent and teacher participation was also introduced. We now find that the education system is foundering because of the cutback in funds by the Federal Government and more particularly because of the totally irrational, across the board, rigid, inflexible staff ceilings policy. If we are to have in the Australian Capital Territory the son of education system for which people across the community express support we cannot operate on a rigid staff ceilings basis.
Another element which is of significance in the provision of educational services in the Australian Capital Territory is the high proportion of children in our schools who were not born in Australia or whose parents were not born in Australia and do not speak English in the home. This is one of the factors which makes it very desirable that there be a particularly flexible and community-responsive education system, but again the ideals of providing multi-cultural education for children from different ethnic backgrounds in the Australian Capital Territory has foundered because of the staff ceilings policy. Of course, the Minister for Education, Senator Carrick, has been extremely defensive and perhaps less than frank in his responses to criticism from teachers and parents in the community in the Australian Capital Territory with regard to the staff ceilings policy. The Minister for Education has claimed that the staff ceiling for the next year will be the same as for last year, but if schools are to be run on the same formula and staff-student ratio as has been established in the Australian Capital Territory then currently there is a need for at least an extra 34 staff members. It would appear that the Minister for Education intends to change that formula and to reduce the staff-student ratio. It would also appear that it is the intention of the Minister for Education that there will be cuts in regard to the secondary colleges.
I point out that at the moment the secondary colleges are not only serving in the traditional way that final school years institutions have served- that is, to prepare students for higher education or subsequent education- but also are serving, because of the wide range of courses they are able to offer students, as a preparation for the work force. They are also serving to provide practical assistance in vocational guidance and counselling for those students who will leave school to seek employment at the end of the school year. At a time of record youth unemployment the role of the secondary colleges in preparing students for the work force cannot be underestimated. Yet it would now appear to be the intention of the Minister for Education to cut back in this very vital area of the last two years of schooling of Australian Capital Territory students- the years which are crucial to them, particularly if they are to leave the education system and seek employment. The Minister talks about setting up a review, but from his point of view he seems to be using this as an excuse for the reduction in the provision of staff in secondary colleges.
The parents of school students in the Australian Capital Territory have not been unaware of the changes in policy during the period of the Fraser Government. There have been many complaints from parent organisations in the Australian Capital Territory. As a locally elected representative of the Australian Capital Territory, I am contacted daily by parents and citizens organisations which are expressing their concern about the disorganisation, the decline in standards and the failure of the Government to respond to the real education needs of the children of the Australian Capital Territory. Some of the major complaints that I have received from parent and teacher organisations are as follows: Firstly, teaching standards or educational standards are under threat because of staff ceilings. As I have just said, staff numbers are not to be increased even at a time when there will be an increase in the school population and an increase in the number of schools and staff numbers to be administered by the Australian Capital Territory Schools Authority.
The conditions of employment of teachers will deteriorate. In fact, they have deteriorated. This leads to a lowering of the morale of teachers and, of course, a decline in professional standards. The allocation announced in the Howard Budget of $2. 8m represents a real cut in expenditure of 3 per cent. The library maintenance scheme for the Australian Capital Territory is not being satisfactorily administered. The amount allocated, $5 per student, is well below the assessed need of $16 per student. Of course, the allocation of $16 per student is more typical of the levels operating outside the Australian Capital Territory than the amount of $5 per student. The Australian Capital Territory Schools Authority is still in its early stages yet its development as an administrative body and as a body developing curriculum and advice for teachers has been cut back by the staff ceilings policy. Serious deficiencies in Australian Capital Territory education can be found also in areas such as the textbook allowance and additional staff for literacy and numeracy, multicultural education, career education and counselling.
One of the things that we hoped for when Mr Ellicott became Minister for the Capital Territory was some progress in the area of law reform. Indeed, Mr Ellicott, on assuming his portfolio, promised that the community could expect reform in several areas. In particular, he undertook to investigate and act quickly in the area of legislation relating to rape laws. He made an immediate commitment, publicly as well as privately, to make progress in this area. Yet here we are in 1 978 and there is still no sign of progress in this area. The local Rape Crisis Centre was not consulted or invited to join in discussions about changes in legislation for the Australian Capital Territory. There has been a failure on the part of officers of the Minister’s Department to consult with the local police and hospital staff on this very urgent issue and no women’s groups have been invited to participate in discussion.
The major failure in the area of law reform has been the failure of the Fraser Government to honour its promise to bring a measure of selfgovernment to the Australian Capital Territory. The objective of some form of self-government for the Australian Capital Territory has been pursued by Australian Capital Territory citizens since 1932. We are still waiting for a degree of self-government in this Territory. After the issuing by the former Minister for the Capital Territory of a number of very confusing proposals we had hoped for a clarification of this situation and for some progress from the current Minister, Mr Ellicott. However, in recent weeks Mr Ellicott has added to the confusion, first of all by putting out a statement saying that there would be held simultaneously a referendum with regard to the wishes of Australian Capital Territory citizens in respect of self-government and an election for some form of legislative body. Of course, the contradictions in this proposal were immediately recognised by the community and there was a great deal of complaint. Now the Minister has changed his mind and has offered a referendum to the community this year on the issue of selfgovernment and an election for some form of self-government next year. However, this backing down does not satisfy the criticisms that have been made.
To sum up the situation, the people in the Australian Capital Territory have been faced in the last three years with increasing charges in every area- the municipal, State and federal-type areas- with increasing unemployment, and with drastic changes in the development and the growth of Canberra. In all this situation the locally elected representatives of the Australian Capital Territory- that is, the members of the Australian Capital Territory Legislative Assembly- have had no say whatsoever. This is a travesty of democracy and the proposals put up by the Minister for the Capital Territory, Mr Ellicott, do not reduce the nature of that travesty. What we have is simply more confusion. It would seem that the Government yet again is retracting one of its major promises, at least here in the Australian Capital Territory- that is, to proceed to some form of Territorial government. I notice that my colleague from the Australian Capital Territory, Senator Knight, is in the chamber at this time. I wonder what comments he will have to make about the failure of the Government of which he is a supporter to honour its promises to introduce some form of self-determination to the Australian Capital Territory. The situation is entirely unsatisfactory.
The situation in regard to the basic services in the Australian Capital Territory- education, health, employment opportunities and employment training opportunities- has become totally chaotic. What we want from the Government is some clear indication of its policy for the future of the Australian Capital Territory. Is the Australian Capital Territory to have any status at all as a national capital? Has it any future as a growth centre or is it simply to become a skeleton of the bureaucracy providing services for bureaucrats in other parts of Australia? These are very serious issues which I raise tonight. Perhaps they are not issues of very great interest to other honourable senators who are naturally enough preoccupied with the States from which they come. But I raise these matters tonight at this stage because, as I have said, there is only one tier of government in the Australian Capital Territory and that is the Federal Government. There is only one forum in which the aspirations and the disappointments of the 200,000 citizens of the Australian Capital Territory can be discussed. I raise these matters tonight in the Senate to bring to the attention of honourable senators from other parts of Australia just what has happened in the Australian Capital Territory and to point out, by this very sorry example, what kind of administration the Fraser Government runs all by itself when it has no other State government to blame or from which to seek assistance.
We have a critical situation in the Australian Capital Territory in terms of the overall development of this nation. Canberra is the nation’s capital. More importantly, from my point of view, we have a critical situation in terms of the future of the hundreds of thousands of families who live and work in the Territory, whose children have been borne here and who would have hoped a few years ago to have their futures here. We do not know what the future of the Australian Capital Territory is. We do not know what the future of our children in the schools will be. We want answers from the Government and we would hope to have them in the course of this parliamentary session.
Debate (on motion by Senator Webster) adjourned.
Bills received from the House of Representatives.
Suspension of Standing Orders
Motion (by Senator Webster) proposed:
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the questions with regard to the several stages of the passage through the Senate of the Bills being put in one motion at each stage and the consideration of such Bills together in the Committee of the Whole.
– One of the Bills to be debated is a money Bill. I take it that we can debate the motion for the first reading of that Bill without separating the Bills. Is that in order?
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Ordered that the Bills be taken through all their stages without delay.
Senator WEBSTER (Victoria-Minister for
Science) (9.20)- I move:
Debate (on motion by Senator Georges) adjourned.
Bills received from the House of Representatives.
Suspension of Standing Orders
Motion (by Senator Webster) agreed to:
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the questions with regard to the several stages for the passage through the Senate of the Dairying Industry Research and Promotion Levy Amendment Bill 1978 and the Dairying Industry Research and Promotion Levy Collection Bill 1978 being put in one motion at each stage and the consideration of the two Bills together in Committee of the Whole.
Ordered that Bills may be taken through all their stages without delay.
Motion (by Senator Webster) proposed:
That the Bills be now read a first time.
– It seems that the Government is obsessed with bringing into this place Bills that impose taxation. I cannot resist the temptation to move:
That the debate be now adjourned.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I take the opportunity to speak on the first readings of these money Bills on topics other than those pertaining to the Bills, and there are four subjects I wish to raise. The first deals with a debate that took place in this chamber last Wednesday on a matter of public importance relating to the export of merino rams. After I had finished my remarks Senator Young spoke, and at page 766 of the Senate Hansard of 20 September he is reported to have said:
Whilst on this subject I challenge Senator McLaren to tell this chamber which major rural organisation went to the trade unions and said that it was opposed to the export of merino rams. Unless he is prepared to state the name of that organisation I will treat it as one to which only Senator McLaren and one or two of his friends belong.
I do not belong to the organisation but I am going to tell Senator Young its name. The name of the organisation is the Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation.
– On a point of order, Mr Acting Deputy President, I suggest that Senator Young ought to be in the chamber. Perhaps the best way to bring him in is to draw your attention to the state of the House. Surely if Senator McLaren has important things to say to Senator Young then Senator Young ought to be present. (Quorum formed).
– I am indebted to Senator Georges, the Opposition Whip, for the action he has taken because we now have Senator Young in the chamber and he will be interested to hear what I have to say. In case he did not hear my opening remarks, I am forced to repeat them. On the matter of public importance last Wednesday relating to the export of merino rams, I said that a leading rural organisation approached the Australian Council of Trade Unions to see that the rams were not exported. In his reply, as reported at page 766 of the Senate Hansard of 20 September, Senator Young said:
Whilst on this subject I challenge Senator McLaren to tell this chamber which major rural organisation went to the trade unions and said that it was opposed to the export of merino rams. Unless he is prepared to state the name of that organisation I will treat it as one to which only Senator McLaren and one or two of his friends belong.
As I was saying, I do not belong to the organisation but a lot of wool growers do. For Senator Young’s information, the name of the organisation is the Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation, and I have checked that out.
– When was that?
– The honourable senator has a very short memory. I think it was the Minister for Science (Senator Webster) who interjected during the course of my remarks and asked me what year it was. I told him, and this is recorded in Hansard, that it was in 1973 that these people approached the ACTU. I have named the organisation so Senator Young ought to be satisfied.
– I rise on a point of order, Mr Acting Deputy President. For the purpose of clarification, I ask Senator McLaren to say what the policy of that organisation is today. He has taken me out of context.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Townley)- Order! There is no point of order.
– On a point of order, that is a matter of personal explanation and it should be given at the end of Senator McLaren ‘s speech.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT-
Senator Georges, there is no point of order.
– I should not think that a point of order could be taken by either side of the House. I have answered Senator Young’s challenge to me and told him the name of the organisation. If Senator Young is not satisfied, I suggest to him that he approach the Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation to ascertain whether it did approach the ACTU in 1973, after the referendum had been held, for support to ensure that merino rams were not exported. Another matter that I want to raise relates to a statement made this afternoon by the President, and I am sorry that he is not in the chamber. Because there is a notice of motion on the Notice Paper I cannot refer to this matter in any detail, but the President expressed some concern about the safety of members of parliament and the staff. He expressed that concern in reply to a question about the scanning apparatus now in use in Kings Hall. Without infringing upon the Standing Orders, I want to ask the President whether he will take action to ensure that every member of this Parliament and every member of the staff who has to leave Parliament House late at night in government transport travels only in a car driven by a Commonwealth driver and not in a taxi.
I am very concerned, as is the President, who alerted me to it, about the safety of members of parliament and the staff. Taxis draw up on the rank at night, and who is to know that the last passenger in a taxi has not got it in for a member of parliament or the staff and has planted a bomb in the taxi. Apparently there is no concern by the Presiding Officers for the safety of members once they step out of the precincts of Parliament House. I am concerned that our safety is ensured and that taxis are not hired to transport members of parliament. I have raised this matter in the Senate on many occasions. I object to Commonwealth cars lying idle in the car pool at night while our drivers, whom we trust completely, sit at home and we get people driving taxis who are called in willy nilly to get behind the wheel. They could not care less about the safety of members of parliament or members of the staff. Having made those remarks, Mr President, and having heard you express your concern for the safety of members of parliament, I am certain you will ensure that in future no taxis are used to transport members of parliament or members of the staff. Safety is a matter of vital importance, and that has been proved in the last few weeks through the actions that have been taken.
Another matter I wish to raise is one of great importance to every person who takes an interest in politics. I refer to the by-election in the Werriwa electorate last Saturday, in which there was a massive swing to the Labor Party, despite the fact that Senator Webster said in this Parliament a few days ago that the Budget had been accepted by every person in the country. Those remarks have been repeated by the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser), who said that there was no adverse commentary in the Press about the Budget. When the Prime Minister was acquainted with some of the results of recent gallup polls, he said that the only poll he was interested in was the poll taken on election day. Well, we had an election on Saturday and what was the result? John Kerin, one of our esteemed colleagues, polled 72.26 per cent of the primary vote. How much did the Liberal candidate poll? He polled 24.28 per cent of the vote. So the Labor Party gained an increase of 1 1.6 per cent on its vote in Werriwa over that of the last election.
It is quite obvious that this Government has at last got the message from the electorate because the Minister for Social Security (Senator Guilfoyle) was in this chamber this afternoon, practically tearing a complete page out of the Budget. The Government is no longer going to put a ceiling on the family allowance as regards the taxation of children who pick up a bit of pin money by working. The Government is no longer going to tax invalids. Why did it make those decisions? It is because of the message it received from that result of the Werriwa byelection. What is more important, the figures for that area of Werriwa which is more closely associated with what might be called the primary producer area or the blue ribbon Liberal area show that John Kerin polled 54.92 per cent of the vote whilst his opposition polled 39.43 per cent of the vote. That is a massive swing to Labor in the blue ribbon Liberal area in the Werriwa electorate.
The message has come through loud and clear to the Liberal Party because of the actions it has taken. Its Budget has been shot to pieces and despite the fact that we have told this Government over and over again since Budget night that the Budget was no good, it took the people of Werriwa on Saturday last to give the Government the message. As I said earlier, the Minister for Social Security came into this chamber today and practically tore a whole page out of the Budget. I think it was yesterday that I said to the Minister by way of interjection: ‘You ought to tear up the whole Budget document and bring in a new one because you are altering it so much’. I want to refer again to an interjection I made today during the Minister’s statement because the Government got the message on Saturday and it will get the message again next week from the people of the Riverland of South Australia regards the brandy excise. My interjection to the Minister was: ‘When are you going to tear out that section of the Budget applicable to the brandy excise?’ I hope that when we come back here the week after next after the people of the Riverland of South Australia, through a series of public meetings, get the message through to the Treasurer (Mr Howard), he in his wisdom will tear out that page of the Budget. I know that if he does not, in view of the statements made outside this Parliament and in this Parliament, he is going to have a revolt on his hands. I know that if the Liberal senators from South Australia are true to their word, they will cross the floor of this House.
– Including Jessop?
– Yes, including Senator Jessop. They will cross the floor and oppose that measure because they have already said- and it is in Hansard and on the public record- that they were amazed that the Government had the gall to increase the excise on brandy by 85 per cent to the detriment, not only of the fruit growers, the wine makers, and the brandy distillers in the Riverland but also of every person who lives in the Riverland. That is the message that the Government will get next week. I am glad that at last the Government is taking some heed of the messages coming through.
The other matter I want to discuss- and this is also on the record- is the statement made by the Prime Minister in regard to unemployment. It is a very enlightening statement. In the Prime Minister’s policy speech of 21 November 1977 the first words he used were:
Our nation is on the move.
He then went on to say:
We have reduced taxes . . .
Of course we all recall the full page advertisements in the daily Press which showed a fist full of $5 notes with the enticement to workers: That’s what’s in it for you if you return Fraser’. The Government also set up a telephone answering service whereby people could ring up the Treasurer’s office and ask what was in it for them if they returned a Liberal Government. But we do not hear anything of a telephone answering service now that this Budget has been brought down for people to ring up and find out how much extra they are going to pay because of this Budget. What did the Prime Minister say further on in his policy speech? He said: . . profits are up . . .
Of course that is the whole core of the problems of this country. The only thing this Government is concerned about is putting more profits into the hands of big business. It tried to lay all the blame for inflation and unemployment on the shoulders of the workers because they wanted to get a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work. The Government says that they are the people to blame, not big business making massive profits or companies like Utah or Esso-BHP. It is none of those people. They are of no concern. Of course the Prime Minister spelt out in his policy speech ‘Profits are up’. We have been saying for years that that is all this Government is concerned about.
Turning to page 2 of the Prime Minister’s policy speech, when talking about unemployment, the Prime Minister said:
It is Labor that is the Party of unemployment.
How untruthful are those words! I am going to throw those words back in the faces of honourable senators opposite. I would say that the Prime Minister, in the speech he made yesterday, was very wide of the truth; he was handling the truth very carelessly.
– Like you.
– No, I am stating facts. Let us look at the speech made by the Prime Minister yesterday at one of those bastions of Liberalism, the Sydney Rotary Club. What did he have to say when talking about unemployment? Practically all his speech dealt with unemployment; that was his grave concern. That was the first occasion since coming to office that the Prime Minister has ever expressed any concern for the unemployed people of this nation. Of course his words are very hollow but he said:
Unemployment can cause great unhappiness and frustration, it is cruelly wasteful of the community’s resources, and in tackling this grave problem, the Government needs the whole-hearted support of all sections of the community.
What do we see on the front page of tonight’s Melbourne Herald? The Prime Minister is asking for co-operation, yet on page 3 of the Melbourne Herald we see the headline: ‘Fraser “No” to Big Job Talks’. Yesterday he told the Sydney Rotary Club that there should be co-operation but what happens when the Prime Minister himself is asked to co-operate? We find, as is headlined in the Melbourne Herald: ‘Fraser “No” to Big Job Talks’. He will not even accept the offer to engage in consultation on this matter. The Prime Minister went on to say:
Before the last election, I said unemployment would fall from February and keep falling.
Of course he said that, because that is in his policy speech. He continued:
This prediction was based on forecasts available to me at that time.
But who gave him the forecasts? Did his Liberal executive leader, Mr Eggleton, because that is where he gets most of his instructions from? He would not take any notice of information given to him by the trade union movement, the employers or the Australian Labor Party. We knew that unemployment would increase. We said so in speeches made throughout the length and breadth of this country by the then Leader of the Labor Party, Mr Gough Whitlam, and by Mr Mick Young, Mr Ralph Willis and any one of our spokesmen. We warned the community then that unemployment would increase and we were said to be liars, that we did not know what we were talking about. Now the Prime Minister turns around and admits in his speech made yesterday that unemployment will increase. He went on to say in his speech.
Unemployment has indeed fallen so far this year but by less than I had hoped.
That is a complete untruth, as the document put out by the Australian Bureau of Statistics and published on 6 September this year proves. Who is the Prime Minister trying to fool? Is he trying to fool some of his back benchers who are certainly yapping at him like fox terriers around a dingo pack? He certainly will not fool the people who read this document. Of course it is on the Government’s own initiative that this document is now used as a basis for compiling the unemployment figures. It will not use the figures of the Commonwealth Employment Service which bases its unemployment figures on fact and on registrations. The Government has to use this document which is based on surveys taken in every household in certain areas. That is why I am going to use this document because it proves conclusively that what the Prime Minister said yesterday at that bastion of Liberal strength, the Sydney Rotary Club, was completely wide of the mark; it was untrue.
Let us look at catalogue No. 620 1 .0 of the Australian Bureau of Statistics, Canberra, noon 8 September 1978. On the front page under the heading ‘Main Features’, it is stated:
Between July and August the estimated number of unemployed persons looking for full-time work increased by 7,400 to 332,800 (6.2 per cent of the full-time labour force).
– What was it in February?
– The honourable senator can just wait and he will be answered. The document goes on:
Unemployed persons looking for part-time work increased by 10,600 to 63,200 (6.3 per cent of the part-time labour force).
Unemployed persons aged between 15-19 years looking for their first full-time job . . . increased by 7,700.
In the year ended August 1 978 the number of unemployed persons looking for full-time work increased by 49,500. The number looking for part-time work decreased by 12,800.
Of course as we of the Australian Labor Party have asked on many occasions: Why is the number of people looking for part time work decreasing? It is because people cannot find a job and they give up the ghost. Let us look at page 3. I know this will not make Senator Messner too happy because he asked: ‘What about February?’ I will cite the February figures. They were given after the policy speech in November.
I will use 12-monthly figures. We find that in August 1977 the number of persons in the 15 to 19 years age bracket, the school leavers, looking for their first job amounted to 12.6 per cent of the work force. In August of this year the figure was 1 8.4 per cent which is an increase of 6 per cent in 12 months. In the group age 20 years and over we find that in August of last year there were 1 1 7,500 looking for work. In August this year the figure was estimated to be 149,900. If honourable senators want the exact figures I point out that in the previous month of July there were 149,500. It is estimated that there will be an increase of 400,000 in the over 20 years age bracket looking for a job this year. In August last year there were 168,500 males looking for jobs. In August this year it is estimated that there were 207,000. Yet the Prime Minister stated yesterday in the document which was circulated to members of parliament today that unemployment had indeed fallen so far this year. Of course it has not fallen. That is completely untrue. He is misleading not only the people at large but also the Parliament.
When looking at the female section we find that in August last year 1 7.5 per cent who wanted a job were unemployed. In August this year that percentage had increased to 21.1 per cent. If we look at the total number of persons unemployed we find that in May last year there were 275,800 people without a job. In August of the same year 283,000 were without a job. In May that figure had increased to 331,000. By June it had decreased by 1,000 to 330,000. In July it was down to 325,400. That is certainly a decrease. But let us look at the August figure. In these documents it is anticipated that we will have 332,800 people out of job. That is the highest number of people out of a job since the last depression. Honourable senators on the Government side cannot blame the Australian Labor Party Government because it is nearly three years since we were in office. I well remember Mr Malcolm Fraser saying at a Press conference here prior to the sacking of the Whitlam Government: ‘Give us 12 months and we will get Australia back to work. Every person who wants a job will get one’. The Government has had three years and what is it doing? More and more people are without work and it is trying to blame the work force. The Government will never get the people in the community back to work while it savagely cuts funds for public works. I have said often enough, and I am quite happy to repeat it, that private enterprise cannot get back on its feet unless public works and public expenditure takes place under the Commonwealth
Government. This Government manufactures nothing. However I point out that this Government, in the time it has been in office, has manufactured a lot of hot air but it does not not manufacture any goods. If the Government does not make money available for the building of roads, bridges, water storages, schools and hospitals, private enterprise has no need to manufacture the materials used. Consequently there is a downturn in the work force. The Government must face up to the fact that it should be prepared to pour money into the public works sector to create jobs. The longer the Government goes on the way it has been going the bigger will be the adverse results for it. I understand there will be a couple of by-elections very shortly because there are a couple of plum jobs in the offing for a couple of gentlemen; one is well known and the Liberal National Country Party Government would be better off and more comfortable if he were out of the country in some ambassador’s job overseas.
– The Treasurer?
– He is an ex-Treasurer and things are being lined up now. When there is a by-election for that seat, because of what has gone on in the Victorian Government, there will be another massive swing to the Labor Party. Then the trouble will start among the back benches on the Government side. Supporters of the Government in borderline seats will start fighting like cats and dogs. They will bring pressure to bear on the Government. My only hope is that they do not bring pressure to bear too quickly so as to unload the present incumbent inside 12 months because we feel that he is the greatest asset we have. Mr Fraser is the greatest asset that the Labor Party has at present. I know that honourable senators on the Government side do not agree to many requests I make but I say: ‘Please keep him as your leader for 12 months because he is doing a good job for the Labor Party even though he is doing a dastardly job for the community’. I hope that when the Government next changes its leader it does not go about it in the surreptitious way it did last time. I hope that Government supporters do not have a midnight party in a penthouse down in Toorak.
– A prawn party.
– No, that party was held in this place. The party I refer to was a midnight supper held in a penthouse in Toorak. I have all the documents. But just using my memory I well recall that Senator Withers just happened to be passing by that meeting. He was asked in for a cup of coffee. I think that another person, Mr Street, just happened to be about the place. Let us analyse what has happened to some of the greatest supporters of Mr Fraser. What has happened to Senator Withers? He has gone by the board. He was one of the greatest champions and one of the people who just happened to be passing by that penthouse. He was invited in by Senator Cormack. Senator Cormack later realised the error of his ways when the person that he helped to install in office brought on a referendum which Senator Cormack did not like. Again, that became the parting of the ways. For some new honourable senators who may not have read Hansard, I ask them to read a speech I made when I was on the other side of the chamber sitting somewhere near where Senator Messner now sits when the operation was put in motion to get rid of Mr Snedden. I put everything in a nutshell in that speech. I explained what the present Prime Minister was doing, how he was going to get rid of Mr Snedden, what he would do after he got rid of him, how he would refuse Supply, and who he would install as Minister for Labour and Industry. It would be his best friend. I predicted it in this Parliament months before the events took place. What has happened now? Mr Fraser got rid of Senator Withers. He used him as the scapegoat. What has Mr Fraser done to his other great friend Mr Tony Street? He has established a committee of five Ministers to look over Mr Street’s shoulder to see that he toes the line and does what he is told. He should not have the audacity to come into the House of Representatives to make a speech telling the public of Australia, and all those people who are now out of a job and who are likely to be out of a job, that unemployment will increase at a massive rate in the next 12 months. That speech was made. We read in the newspapers that Mr Street got into hot water. What do we see in this document which is a copy of the famous speech made yesterday at the Sydney Rotary Club? We find Mr Fraser saying that he and Mr Street talked about that speech before they framed the Budget. That is another untruth.
– Are you saying that the knee-high jackeroo is on the skids?
– I do not say that he is on the skids but I say that the person he has been legging up into the saddle for a long time might find that the girth is a bit loose and that the next time he wants a leg up he might go right over and find himself flat on his back. I do not know whether he knows what a crupper is but he might find that the crupper is not fitting too well either. Be that as it may, I have explained my point. I have warned the people once again of what they are in for under this leader. The people sitting on the back benches know that what I am saying is true. I ask them: ‘Please do not unload the Prime Minister for 12 months because he is too good a friend to us. ‘
– I want to speak tonight about what I suppose could be called the prevailing ethical standards of the Liberal Party of Australia. There is a lot of recent evidence about this matter, of course. We have the actions of a former Treasurer who, it is known on the public record, colluded in land speculation activities with a person, Peter Leake, who controlled the use to which the land in which the former Treasurer was speculating could be put and therefore its price. When this matter was brought out the former Treasurer asked his lawyer and his accountant to prepare a report of his business activities, which report the former Treasurer then produced and said: ‘This report says that I am clean but I am not going to tell anyone what is in it. I am not going to table it in Parliament’. The Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) reappointed that man to the Ministry after he had said that. So we see what is the standard right at the top.
The current so-called crackdown on tax evasion certainly lacks credibility, as the editorial of the Australian Financial Review pointed out again today, when we consider that again it is a matter of public record that several, if not most, of the Ministers of this Government have tax dodging family trusts on which the Government has no intention of cracking down. We have seen, again it is on the public record, that the Victorian Government surreptitiously trades in building purchases with the Victorian Branch of the Liberal Party. One Victorian Minister has been forced to resign; a Premier of Western Australia in 1968 accepted for his family company a private placement of Comalco shares when he was Minister for Industrial Development in the North-west in the State Government; and a Premier of Queensland who did the same thing at the same time, who has done much worse since and who, although he is not a member of the Liberal Party, is kept in power by the Liberal Party. So all round Australia we have a discredited and dispirited political party.
What I want to talk about in particular is the Liberal Party in Western Australia and its President. Last February I spoke in the Senate about Noel Ashley Crichton-Browne, who was then and still is President of the Liberal Party of
Western Australia. It is not disputed- it is a factthat he was the mining registrar at Marble Bar in 1969 and 1970. In May of 1969 he and his relatives and other members of the Liberal Party established a company called Burrill Investments. The principals of this company, the original directors, were Godfrey Burrill and Walter Jones, who were consulting geologists to Poseidon Ltd, who misused the knowledge that they gained as consulting geologists to that company to rig the stock market in Perth and who in fact supplied or were parties to supplying false information to the stock market in Perth. They held one share each in this company when it was first established on 22 May 1969. 1 am quoting from photocopies of documents procured from the Corporate Affairs Commission in Perth.
At that time some 20,252 shares were issued. Of that 20,252, no fewer than 12,250 were held by Crichton-Browne, his brother, the woman who shortly afterwards became his wife and her mother. Specifically Peter John Browne of Merredin, the brother of Noel Ashley CrichtonBrowne, held 3,250 shares; Crichton-Browne himself, then of Marble Bar, held 5,000 shares; Norma Rosa Stevens, who is now his motherinlaw, of Box 15, Marble Bar, held 2,000 shares; Esther Grace Stevens, who is now his wife, then of Flat 3, 57 Swan View Terrace, South Perth, held 2,000 shares and 1,000 shares were allocated to Malcolm Scott Holdings, which is the family investment trust of a former Liberal Party senator. Five thousand shares were allocated to Peter William Taylor, care of the Telephone Exchange, Moora, about whom I know nothing, and 2,000 shares were allocated to Paul Rodney Fletcher of 12 Lancaster Street, Dianella. At the time that this company was established, in which Crichton-Browne had 5,000 shares and in which his relatives had another 7,250, he was the mining registrar at Marble Bar. Section 8 of the Mining Act 1904 provides that any person who, firstly, being a warden, mining registrar or mining surveyor holds directly or indirectly any share of interest in any plan, mining lease or other mining adventure whatsoever or, secondly, being a warden acts or adjudicates in any matter in which he has directly or indirectly any pecuniary interest, should be guilty of a misdemeanour. The Act goes on to state that on conviction that shall be punishable by a penalty not exceeding two years’ imprisonment. Nearly all of this, of course, was known and stated in the Western Australian Parliament in 1 977.
Finally, on 1 1 February Crichton-Browne was charged with a breach of section 8 of the Mining Act. On 6 April 1978 he was discharged from custody. I have in front of me a transcript of the court proceedings, including an extraordinary submission presented by the defence. The defence argued, among other things, that it was ludicrous to suggest that Crichton-Browne, because he had shares in a company which was set up to speculate in Poseidon shares, had breached section 8 of the Mining Act. In pursuing this alleged absurdity, the defence counsel’s submission drew attention to the position of a person who was a policy holder in the Australian Mutual Provident Society. Of course, the AMP has shares in mining companies. The defence counsel said:
The first is the situation which the defendant himself envisaged where an AMP policy holder, a policy holder in AMP, the AMP Society itself for some reason holds a mining claim. Now, if the defendant is guilty of this present charge, then so would he be if he were a mere policy holder in AMP Society. One can take another more immediate case where the defendant, being a Mining Registrar, holds shares in a public company, and that public company holds shares in another company, say CSR, BHP or any other of them. Now the situation is identical with the present one.
It is rather remarkable that the defence counsel could have claimed that holding a policy with the AMP, which holds shares in mining companies, was analogous to a person being an initial shareholder in a company at the time it was incorporated, holding almost 25 per cent of the shares in that company himself and his relatives holding another 37 per cent or 38 per cent of the shares in that company, it being a proprietary company with at the time only eight shareholders in total, and the prosecuting counsel did not even see fit in his closing remarks to draw attention to that fact.
The defence went on to present an alleged genealogy of the Western Australian Mining Act, which the defence counsel said was derived originally from the Mining Act of New South Wales. The defence counsel said:
It is helpful perhaps to have regard to the history of this particular legislation because it is clear that it comes through with many of the other provisions from the earlier legislation of other States and it is to be picked up first I think in New South Wales where in Section 12 of the 1894 Mining Act, which is a provision dealing with the appointment of Wardens and Other Officers, the comparable provision in fact there appears as a proviso, it wasn’t a substantive offence at all.
The defence counsel went on to argue, that although the charge was laid under the Western Australian Mining Act, the New South Wales Mining Act precluded people who were registrars, wardens or surveyors from holding shares in mining tenements but that it was not a substantive offence in itself and was not considered to be a misdemeanour or a crime. The defence went on to argue that a misdemeanour was committed only if the warden adjudicated on a matter within his jurisdiction, that is, in the mining area under his control. Essentially the defence argued that the words in section 8 of the Western Australian Mining Act did not mean what they said or, if they did mean what they said, it was intended that they should mean something else. And again the prosecuting counsel did not see fit to draw attention to that rather absurd assertion by the defence which in effect said that Mr Crichton-Browne was not guilty of any offence under the Mining Act of New South Wales and even though the charge was laid under the Mining Act of Western Australia he should be discharged from custody on the ground that he had not breached the Mining Act of New South Wales. The defence went on to cite Barwick ‘s judgment in the Webster case as a precedent and that, I think, is appropriate because, as the Attorney-General said at the time, if Barwick ‘s precedent was accepted nobody would ever be convicted of anything. The prosecution’s reply to these astounding propositions comprised 1 9 lines in the transcript, less than 200 words.
This is in stark contrast to the zeal with which the Western Australian police prosecuted a couple of other notable cases. I refer to Chesterthe so-called woodchip bomber- who was convicted and then, at the instigation of the Western Australian Government, the Crown appealed on the ground that his sentence was not heavy enough. Chester’s sentence was increased. In Western Australia in May, I think it was, a test case involving 34 pickets who were arrested at the Fremantle wharf was dismissed by the judge on the ground that the Fremantle Port Authority did not have lawful authority to lay the charge. The judge dismissed the charge against one of the pickets. The police appealed against that dismissal. The appeal is still pending. The double standard applied to law enforcement or to the prosecution of the law in Western Australia is patently obvious, and surely even Noddy would not believe that the double standard applied by the Western Australian police is not substantially derived from the Court Government.
Mr Crichton-Browne, it is true, escaped conviction under a system which masquerades as justice in Western Australia, but the following facts are not in dispute. He was a mining registrar and was an initial shareholder in a company set up by Burrill and Jones, consulting geologists to Poseidon. Of the 20,252 original shares, 12,250 were held by Crichton-Browne and his relatives- by Crichton-Browne himself, his brother, the woman who is now his wife and that woman’s mother. Burrill and Jones, consulting geologists to Poseidon, used inside knowledge gained in that capacity, firstly, to misinform the public about the assay from the Windarra strike and, secondly, to speculate, to trade in shares before the public was aware of the assay, although those two events took place in reverse chronological order. They then lied to a Senate committee which was ultimately set up after great difficulty, particularly for Senator Murphy. They were stock market swindlers. The company that they, Crichton-Browne and his relatives, set up made more than $1.3m from this stock market swindling- from swindling the public by rigging the share market.
Finally, the shareholding of that company, Burrill Investments Pty Ltd, was expanded from the original seven persons and 20,000 shares to a very much greater number of shareholders and some 100,000 shares in total. Some of the names are worth noting. The first listed is Richard Winston Annear. 86 Kingsway, Nedlands. The second is Rory Edward Stanley Argyle, second floor, 164 St George’s Terrace, Perth. I understand that at that stage both were lawyers employed by, or were partners in, the well known Perth firm of Parker and Parker. Then there is Godfrey Burrill himself. This information comes from the Corporate Affairs Commission return for Burrill Investments dated 27 January 1970, some eight months after the company was initially set up. Godfrey Burrill himself had 3,000 shares. Peter John BrowneNoel Crichton-Browne ‘s brother- still had his original 3,250 shares. Noel Crichton-Browne still had his 5,000. Judith Berryman, 47 Angelo Street, South Perth, had 5,000 shares. Calder and Co., care of the Bank of Nova Scotia Agency, 37 Wall Street, New York, had 10,000 shares. It would be interesting to know who were the principles in that dummy company. Greenshields Incorporated, Toronto Dominion Centre, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, had 4,000 shares. Helen Mabel Henrietta Hynam, 60 Mount Street, Perth, had 5,250 shares, she was the wife of the then chairman of the Perth Stock Exchange. Walter Jones, the consulting geologist to Poseidon, had 4,000 shares. His wife, Judith Merle Jones,’ of 49 McLeod Road, Applecross, had 5,250 shares. Malcolm Scott Holdings Pty Ltd- the family company of Malcolm Scottcare of Lindquist Stacy and Fountain, had 1,000 shares.
When we see the interlocking web which bound these people together we find that the wives of both Stacy and Lindquist both of whom were directors of Burrill Investments in 1970, had shares in the company. They were accountants to Burrill Investments. Lindquist was the secretary of Malcolm Scott Holdings Pty Ltd. So we see that there is no accident in all this; there is an interlocking web which bound all these people, or, if not all of them, certainly a very great number of them. Jean Emma Stacy, as I mentioned, thewife of the director Stacy, had 1,000 shares. Stanley Holdings Pty Ltd care of Ford Rhodes, Foulkes and Co., 214 St George’s Terrace, Perth, had 3,000 shares. I seek leave to incorporate in Hansard the complete list of shareholders in Burrill Investments as at 27 January 1970 as procured from the Western Australian Corporate Affairs Commission.
The list read as follows-
– Knowing all these facts, the Liberal Party of Western Australia a couple of months ago re-elected Noel Crichton-Browne as its President, and he is of course, as is well known, a close associate of the West Australian Premier. Whether he was technically guilty of an offence or not- and I acknowledge that under rather extraordinary circumstances he was discharged from custody by the court- it remains as fact that he, as a mining registrar, was a very substantial initial shareholder in a company that was set up by a couple of crooks to speculate in
Poseidon shares and rob the public by rigging the share market and by misinforming the share market. It is a sordid story and it is one of many sordid stories about a very sordid political party.
– I want to talk briefly about the Ranger problem. I want to go through the matter chronologically, if I may, starting with the statement made by Mr Anthony in another place when he was replying on a discussion of a matter of public importance that was raised by the Opposition shadow Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Dr Everingham. I want to quote Mr Anthony. He said:
But I challenge very greatly the bona fides of the Australian Labor Party in this whole issue of being concerned about the Aboriginal people. The Labor Party is obsessed with this uranium question. It will go to any length to try to stop uranium mining being developed in this country. Honourable members opposite will stir up the trade union movement, the academics and anybody else to try to frustrate the Government’s desire to develop uranium in the interest of this nation and in the interests of people in other parts of the world who are working to proceed with the nuclear age.
The statement made by the Deputy Prime Minister on that occasion is completely at variance with all the general thinking of people of this country and many other countries. He then goes on to say:
I discount completely the allegations that are being made that the Government is applying duress and pressure on the Aboriginal people and not having any consideration for their interests. In fact, I could accept the matter of public importance as it stands. It refers to:
The methods used by the Government to impose its uranium policy on to Aboriginal communities of the Alligator Rivers region.
In a few moments I will proceed to enlarge on that statement but I want to further quote the Deputy Prime Minister. He said:
It is not stated what sorts of methods are being used. I am prepared to say that the methods we have used are absolutely correct and completely honourable.
In a few moments I will go on to elaborate on that matter and to show that not only is the statement made by the Deputy Prime Minister dishonourable in itself but also that his reference to the word ‘honourable’ is a travesty of the word. He then said:
There is nothing wrong with the wording of that matter of public importance. I would think that if the Opposition were greatly concerned, it would have clarified the methods used. But, of course, honourable members opposite do not say that. I want to say that the Government has acted in a way in which the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Bill was originally drafted and proposed to allow the Aborigines to negotiate on the terms and conditions.
That in itself is another point on which I differ with the Deputy Prime Minister because in this chamber and in the other place while the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Bill was receiving passage, the Opposition moved many amendments- almost 30 amendments as a matter of fact- to try to bring the legislation back to the draft 1975 Bill that the Labor Party which was in government at that time lodged in both Houses of the Parliament. The Deputy Prime Minister then attempted to escape from the matter by saying:
This matter is before the Supreme Court of the Northern Territory at the moment. Therefore I believe that in this debate today a great deal of care needs to be taken to see that we do not cut across matters that the Court may address itself to in the course of the next 24 hours. I do not know quite which courses the Court will take. But I want to limit my remarks and I do not want to make the situation of the Court any worse by referring to matters that might come within its jurisdiction.
What we are talking about really is allowing the Ranger project to go ahead.
That is the substance of what the Government wants to do: To allow the uranium mining to go ahead, regardless of the consequences to the Aboriginal people, regardless of the consequences to Australia and totally regardless of the consequences to the countries to which we sell our yellowcake. On 21 September 1978 on an A.M. radio program the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Mr Viner, with his back to the political wall, said that the problems in the Northern Territory were being caused by members of the Australian Labor Party. He then proceeded to name Mr Geoff Eames, a lawyer who was originally with the Central Land Council but is now with the Northern Land Council, Mr Stewart McGill, a former solicitor with the Northern Land Council, Mr Bob Collins a member of the Legislative Assembly, and Mr John Waters, an executive member of the Labor Party in the Northern Territory. I recall very clearly that Mr Viner said on that occasion: ‘These people are all members of the Labor Party’. The interviewer of course asked him whether Mr Galarrwuy Yunupingu was also a member of the Labor Party but he avoided the question. He said: ‘These people are members of the Labor Party and are the people who are applying the pressures’. It is not true. The naming of these people by the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, who today in any case has no credibility amongst the Aboriginal people, was totally wrong.
If we go back to a few days before when Mr Viner was with the President of the Northern Land Council while they pressured the President in a secret meeting behind closed doors to complete the signing cif the agreement, let us see who was present: Mr Malcolm Fraser, a member of the Liberal Party; Mr Doug Anthony, a member of- it is difficult to tell what it is called now- the National Party, the National Country Party or the Country Party; Mr Ian Viner, allegedly a member of the Liberal Party, with their advisers who are supporters of the Liberal Party. So, in the first instance, the pressures on the President of the Northern Land Council came from members of the Liberal Party. When the President decided that he wanted to talk to other people about what was happening in the area, it was a vastly different story. In fact the blame originally lies with those people who bullied that man all the way through that interview. It is no use saying that the bullying did not go on because there is a record of it. On 30 August 1 978 Mr Ian Viner issued a Press statement which read:
Uranium royalties would make no difference to the services which the Commonwealth would continue to see were available to NT Aboriginals, the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Mr Ian Viner, said today.
Mr Viner said he was perturbed by a public statement by Dr Joseph Camilleri reported in the press, suggesting that health and education spending would be deliberately cut to offset royalty payments to Aboriginals.
An explanatory note states that Dr Camilleri is convenor of the Movement Against Uranium Mining. The statement continued:
I am unaware of the identity of the people ‘high up’ in my Department who Dr Camilleri claims told him that education and health spending would be cut, but if this was said then it is untrue.
Let me go back to 1975 when Mr Ellicott said that none of these cuts would take place at all. Yet, because of the activities of this Government, since 1975 the Aboriginal people have suffered as they had not suffered prior to 1967. The Minister went on to say:
Federal funds for Aboriginal programs are provided to overcome a long history of neglect and grinding poverty.
Yet that is precisely what this Government is doing, driving the Aborigines back into that history of neglect and grinding poverty, and laughing all the way to the bank while it reduces the rate of inflation. The statement continued:
Even disregarding the fact that it will be a number of years before substantial amounts of uranium royalties are available, it will also be a long time before the handicaps which Aboriginals suffer in health, education and other areas will be overcome.
Funds under my control are applied on a basis of special need. In time to come, the money flowing to Aboriginals as a result of uranium royalties will lessen the need for special programs of assistance but it will not be for a long time yet . . .
Later this day in the adjournment debate I propose to speak about a couple of other subjects where friends of this Government have been thieving Aboriginal funds in order to fatten their pockets. The details will go into that contribution when I make it. I am disturbed because other people are being carried away by the statements being made by the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser), the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs while he remains so and other members of the Government, including the Deputy Prime Minister. I was disturbed by what Senator Bonner said in this chamber on 21 September 1978. I will not quote the whole of his speech but I will quote relevant sections. On page 853 of the Senate Hansard, Senator Bonner is reported to have said:
Pressure from all quarters has come upon this young man.
That is, Galarrwuy, or James as some of us know him, Yunupingu. He continued:
There has been pressure from the Friends of the Earth, conservationists, anti-uranium groups, the Australian Labor Party, the Northern Territory Government, the Federal Government- from all quarters. How the young man has stood up to all these pressures and accepted his responsibilities are things of which we as Australians, and particularly we in this Senate, should be very proud.
I do not think we will vary from that view; we are proud. I am disturbed that Senator Bonner did not mention the Country Party or the Liberal Party, that is, the coalition to which he belongs. I think that if he is to stand up to be counted publicly he has to criticise members of his own party, as I have done on many occasions, as well as his political opponents. He continued: 1 am very concerned, and I feel that every member of this chamber should be concerned. Who is trying to destroy this young man who has become the leader of Aborigines throughout this Commonwealth?
For the benefit of Senator Bonner and any member of the Liberal Party in government or out of government who would like to know, I am saying here and now that the multinationals, the Country Party and the Liberal Party have set out to destroy the President of the Northern Land Council and the Northern Land Council as well. There is no need for the Minister for Administrative Services (Senator Chaney) who is at the table to shake his head because what I have said is right. He would know what happened in Kimberley when the Liberal Party tried to destroy the credibility of a Labor candidate by using solicitors who were members of the Liberal Party to tell untruths and to stand over people to make sure that they did not vote for a Labor candidate. If that is not political distortion and political corruption I do not know what is. The same approach is now being adopted towards a different area, namely, towards the Northern Land Council and everybody in this country who is opposed to mining uranium. Senator Bonner went on to say:
He is now a figure to whom all Aborigines throughout this nation look.
He could be that. He could be the greatest leader in this country, but he will not be because he is going to be destroyed by Mr Fraser and everybody associated with him in their mad bid to sell uranium to the multinational companies. Senator Bonner stated further:
Aborigines in Queensland, members of the Queensland Northern Council -
That is the Land Council of Queensland- the people at Aurukun and Mornington Island and all the Aboriginal communities in Queensland are looking to young Galarrwuy because he has given leadership to Aborigines throughout this nation.
Senator Bonner went on to discuss the future of Galarrwuy in a similar vein. He continued:
It is the same old tactic that has been applied in this country since 1 788- divide and conquer.
I agree with that particular phrase because it is a case of divide and conquer. The Prime Minister is an expert at dividing and conquering, not only at dividing the Aborigines and conquering them but also at dividing the community and trying to conquer it. Senator Bonner stated further:
The Government introduced into this chamber land rights legislation which was supported by all people.
It was not supported by all people. It was not supported by any Aborigine in this country. It was not supported by the Australian Labor Party and it was not supported by people who believe in civil liberties and the Aboriginal cause of land rights. So I respectfully say that more than half of the people of this country- the people in those groups that I have mentioned- did not support the land rights legislation that came into this chamber. Senator Bonner continued:
I do not want to canvass the rights or the wrongs of the mining and export of uranium, but should he -
He was referring again to Galarrwuy- be someone more pliable to those who want to prevent uranium mining in the Northern Territory and those who want to destroy the credibility of Aboriginal people by saying that we cannot negotiate with the Aboriginal people because we do not understand and therefore we have to take over control and show them what is good for them?
At that famous meeting in Darwin that is precisely what Mr Viner, the Prime Minister and his Deputy did. They decided to take over and to show the Aborigines that was good for them. They did it by getting them into a closed room and bullying them into submission. That is precisely what happened. I do not care if any honourable senator on the other side of the chamber said that did not happen. It did happen because it is on record that it happened. So the anger or the worry of Senator Bonner is ill founded because the threat is not coming from other areas; it is coming from this Government.
Quite recently a group of concerned Aborigines and a group of concerned people of European origin wrote letters to members of the Northern Land Council. I want to quote a few paragraphs from each of those two letters to emphasise my point that there are groups of people in this country who are just as concerned as all the Aborigines in .the Northern Territory and who do not want to proceed with uranium mining or, if uranium mining is going to proceed because of the pressures applied, they want it to be done on their terms. I will indicate first of all the number of people from each of the States of Australia who signed the letter from the group of concerned Aborigines. As the letter was directed to the individual members of the Northern Land Council, it had some significance. In South Australia 8 prominent Aboriginal people signed the letter; in Queensland 35 people; in New South Wales 28 people; in Victoria 8 people; in Tasmania, where allegedly all the Aborigines have been wiped out, one responsible person signed the letter; in Western Australia 5 people; in the Australian Capital Territory 5 people; and the letter was signed also by a member of one of the Aboriginal groups in the Northern Territory. This is what they had to say:
We have heard that the Northern Land Council has initialled an agreement with the Government concerning the Ranger mine site on Aboriginal land at Jabaru. We know that your Council will be meeting shortly in order to discuss whether the Council will sign the Agreement. We understand your problems, especially Government pressure upon the Council to sign. We further strongly support your Council’s efforts to win land rights for Aboriginal peoples in the Northern Territory.
In spite of the report on the Warlpiri and Kartangarurru-Kurintji land claim, that was presented in this chamber today, there are still people in the Northern Territory who have not received justice from the watered down land rights legislation. This group of people went on to say:
But we must write to you because signing and accepting the agreement would cause problems for land rights all over Australia.
A signed agreement will make the Government want to break more promises on Aboriginal land rights in Australia. The Government will think that Aboriginals do not want to fight for their rights, and will want to build other mines in the Northern Territory, particularly Jabiluka.
A signed agreement would make it easier for the Government and newspapers to say that traditional owners want mining on their lands; they will keep on saying that Aboriginals only want money and this would make problems for Aboriginals who are seeking land rights elsewhere in the country.
The 4.25 per cent royalty payment in the agreement is very low, much lower than others in the world. In Canada, the indigenous peoples receive a minimum of 5.75 per cent in royalties. In the United States Indians receive from 13-18 per cent. Even the white racist South African Government has granted black Africans 2 1 per cent. We must remember that IS years ago, the Aboriginal people obtained 3.75 per cent. Surely we deserve more than a low 0.5 per cent extra following all the work on Aboriginal land rights done over the last 15 years.
We are very worried about the intention of the Government to reduce its funding for Aboriginals in the Northern Territory by an amount equal to what Aboriginals receive through royalty payments. This we believe is a monstrous trick. Because the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs has some control over the Benefits Trust, Aborigines gain little selfdetermination. Further no net benefit is gained financially by Aborigines, in exchange for the desecration of traditional lands which will following mining. The Government must be made to give an assurance that there will be no cuts in Commonwealth funds.
I emphasise that particular matter, in spite of the Press statement from the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, which I read earlier, because the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs cannot be trusted any more than Mr Ellicott can be trusted. Mr Ellicott told lies in the 1975 general election campaign -
– Order! You must not accuse an honourable member of another place.
– All right, Mr President, I will say that Mr Ellicott told untruths during the 1975 general election campaign because none of the promises he made has been honoured by this Government since it was elected in December 1975. Mr Viner has told similar untruths around this country in every Aboriginal settlement in every State. Queensland is a first class example of this because Mr Viner has not had the intestinal fortitude to stand up to its great Premier, familiarly known in our country as Holy Joe. I shall quote now a couple of paragraphs of the letter that was signed by a number of concerned white people, including me. The first paragraph states:
We understand that it is the wish of the traditional land owners that the mine pits be refilled to ground level after mining operations have ceased and note that the Commonwealth has not guaranteed that this will be done.
Representatives of my party and other people have been told by engineers that the Government has no intention of filling in these pits. The Government is doing nothing about the situation. The Government is quite prepared to let it go on that basis because it has knuckled under to the trans-nationals on every occasion because it is not game to stand up to them. The paragraph goes on to state:
We also understand that the Commonwealth proposes that tailings will be returned to pit No. 1 and that the supervising authority which will be a Department of the Northern Territory Government will determine what other restoration should be carried out. Under these arrangements two lakes (a deep one in pit No. 3 and a shallow one above the tailings in pit No. 1) and a 100 metre high waste rock pile will remain after mining has ceased.
We will have the situation that existed at Snake Creek all over again. I am saying that the attack now being made by this Government, starting with its Prime Minister and working down to the lowest- spelt with a capital L- member of the Cabinet, namely Mr Viner, on the Chairman of the Northern Land Council has been one of bullying this man and the Northern Land Council by stating that the Government will bring in special legislation if it does not get its way and that it will desecrate the Aboriginal sacred places in the Northern Territory as if they are going out of fashion. I appeal to the Government to have another think about this matter while the Aborigines are doing their extra thinking and come up with the right sort of proposition, as the Government promised to do in 1975, instead of the broken promises it has given the Aborigines from that day to this.
Tax Avoidance Industry- Unemployment Benefit- Aboriginal Housing- Security in Parliament House- Parliament- Court Proceedings
– 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.
-My remarks will be very brief. I wish to refer to one aspect of the growth of the tax avoidance industry in recent times. As with any industry, the tax avoidance industry depends at least partly on advertising to attract new clients or users of its services. I want to look very briefly at the nature of that industry and the advertising which serves it. I am certainly not one of those who regard the tussle between the Treasury and tax avoiders as some sort of sporting contest. I have no hesitation in saying that tax avoidance poses a real threat to our society. I say so because I believe that it threatens that cohesion which can be sustained only if citizens believe that the burdens are shared equitably in the creating of the sort of society that we want.
The greatest burden obviously is taxation, whether it be direct as with income tax or indirect as with sales tax. Fairness and equity both demand that those with like incomes or making like purchases should be treated alike when it comes to paying taxes, to contributing to consolidated revenue. Instead of that, what do we find? We find that promoters of tax avoidance schemes have the gall to advertise in the national Press. On the very day that a prominent national newspaper contained an article about further measures to block tax avoidance schemes it contained an advertisement which promoted such schemes. The Senate will excuse me if I do not name the newspaper but I do not want to give any more credence to this advertisement than is necessary. The main headline on the first page of this national newspaper reads: ‘Howard’s assault on tax avoidance game’. However, on page 3 of that newspaper we find an advertisement with the heading: ‘Total tax wipeout’. The advertisement states that a particular publication:
It can be used by salaried executives, professionals, companies and almost any income situation.
It is one of the neatest and safest tax plans we have seen. It is so good it may possibly outstrip the legendary Curran scheme.
The advertisement goes on to state:
This issue also shows: How to avoid sales tax on cars, et cetera . . .
I said that the promoters had the gall to put that advertisement in the national Press, but it is more than gall or daring. I call it totally immoral. It is an outrage against public morality. It is against the peace, order and good government of Australia. I say that because in my view advertisements in the national media which are concerned with the proliferation of artificial schemes to avoid lawful contributions to revenue offend against the public interest in two senses. Firstly, they offend against it in the very obvious sense that revenue does not flow to government in the way it might reasonably be expected to flow as a result of laws passed by this Parliament, which is responsible to all Australian taxpayers. Perhaps we should coin a new phrase- that is, no representation without taxation because the situation is arising in which people take advantage of this Parliament and the democratic processes set up in this society but make no contribution whatsoever to sustaining the sort of government services that we provide from this Parliament. But, more than that, this activity offends against public morality in the sense to which I alluded earlier in that only a very small segment of the population can take advantage of these taxation avoidance schemes. The advertisement is pitched to salaried executives, professionals, companies and so on. People on ordinary salaries or wages from which income tax contributions are deducted by employers under the payasyouearn scheme normally do not have these sorts of opportunities open to them. I say that the ordinary wage and salary earners of Australia are becoming extremely disturbed and angry at the ways in which people who derive their income by other means are able to afford the right sort of advice and thereby avoid their social responsibilities. The ordinary wage and salary earner in Australia is made to look like a mug. I believe that no Australian will tolerate that status for very long, nor should he.
I remember as a young boy watching my father make out his tax form every year- he normally did so on the dining room table- and worrying himself about the honesty with which he filled in that form. Obviously he was looking to protect the family as far as possible. I remember that he went through all the chemists bills and doctors bills for the previous year to make quite certain that he behaved in a fairly responsible way towards the revenue. Was he a mug? There is certainly no doubt what the answer of the promoters of these tax avoidance schemes would be to that question. They would say he was a mug. I would say that the great majority of Australians should not tolerate a situation in which they are made to contribute an unequal share to consolidated revenue whilst those who are able to afford the best possible advice from accountants and lawyers manage to avoid their social responsibilities.
I do not want to talk tonight about tax avoidance in general. The point I want to make tonight is a rather more narrow one. I say that we should drive the promoters of these schemes underground where they belong. I would like the Attorney-General (Senator Durack) or the Treasurer (Mr Howard)- perhaps the Minister for Social Security (Senator Guilfoyle), who is in the chamber, will pass on my request- to examine ways in which the tax power, the broadcasting power or the interstate trade and commerce power of the Commonwealth might be used to prohibit this antisocial advertising.
– You do not mean to drive them underground, do you?
– They will operate anyway. These sorts of promoters will find clients. I say that they should not use the national media in order to parade their anti-social intentions. In that sense the result will be that they will be driven underground. It is not my intention that they should operate at all.
– You would also give them the spotlight.
– I would prefer the sort of spotlight that I am referring to than that given by an advertisement of page 3 of a newspaper which has a national circulation. The honourable senator would not be supporting the promotion of these schemes in the public media. If necessary, let it be an exercise in federalism. I cannot think of any State government that would refuse to assist in this area if required, but I would much prefer to see the Federal Government dealing with these schemes. I would like to see it use its inherent power to protect itself against internal subversion. I characterise these sorts of tax avoidance industry schemes as no less than a sort of internal subversion that is directed at the necessary revenues of government. The advertising and promoting of these subversive enterprises should be dealt with severely and promptly. I would like the Government to give some indication of possible action in this area.
– The issue I wish to raise tonight probably appears to be minor, yet for one person it is not minor because it affects him directly. I have mentioned before in this place that I have had problems in respect of representations I have made to the Redcliffe office of the Commonwealth Employment Service. I have continued to have problems with that office. To be honest, I do not know how I can remedy the situation. All I hear of are tales that come to me second hand from that office- and by that I mean from people who have been to the office and complained about it. I think the only way I can really find out whether there is truth in the assertions that have been made is to go down to the office of the Commonwealth Employment Service at Redcliffe one day and register myself and see what happens. I have desisted from doing that because if I do I might legally be prosecuted for misrepresentation.
The situation that I refer to tonight does not specifically refer to the Commonwealth Employment Service. However, it does refer to the Service in passing. The matter I wish to raise has something to do with social security. I think that every member of this chamber has had some difficulty when representations have been made to him or her about a social security matter as often two departments are involved, namely, the Department of Social Security and the Department of Employment and Industrial Relations. Again, the same situation probably prevails in this case. I would like to read to the Senate a letter sent to a person who lodged a complaint with my office. This man and his brother, incidentally, spent the great part of today in my office in Brisbane seeking work out of that office, not only in Brisbane but also in certain country areas of
Queensland where it was suggested that employment was available for them. This man and his brother are quite willing to obtain work. In fact, they are quite eager to obtain work but cannot do so. The letter which was sent to one of them is dated 21 September and was written by the Department of Social Security. It states.
On 7 September 1978 you attended the office of the Commonwealth Employment Service and were not suitably dressed for referral to a prospective employer. You were given an opportunity to change into suitable clothing but failed to do so.
By your actions it cannot be accepted that you are taking sufficient steps to obtain employment and therefore your benefit has been rejected.
If you are dissatisfied with the decision you should discuss the matter with the Commonwealth Employment Service at Redcliffe. If after the discussion you are still dissatisfied with the decision you may lodge an appeal with the Social Security Appeals Tribunal.
I am informed that when this man came to my office today his dress was rather unusual but not unacceptable. I think that in the role we play as members of Parliament we too often adopt a middle class base of reference for our thoughts when considering other people. Therefore, if people are dressed somewhat differently, we could tend to think that their dress is somewhat unacceptable. But let me say that this man’s dress was different from normal today but according to the report that was given to me it was not unacceptable. Apparently, this is the type of dress that the man was wearing when he went to the Commonwealth Employment Service at Redcliffe. He informed my staff that when he was given the opportunity to change into suitable clothing he replied that this was the best clothing he had. In other words, he did not have dress which was more acceptable than that which he was wearing.
I would like to comment on a couple of aspects of this letter. Firstly, I assume that where it states that his benefit has been rejected it probably means that his claim for benefit has been rejected. I ask the Minister for Social Security to make inquiries to see whether Mr Smith was to be referred to a position. I have some doubts as to whether he was because he went into the office to lodge a claim at that stage. But if he was to be referred to a position, could we find out to what position he was going to be referred? If he was going to be referred to a position, I will accept that quite willingly. But in view of the difficulties that I have had with this office of the Commonwealth Employment Service, I would like the matter checked.
I would also like to ask whether it is normal to suggest a discussion with somebody before lodging an appeal to the Social Security Appeals Tribunal. The letter states:
If you are dissatisfied with the decision you should discuss the matter with the Commonwealth Employment Service at Redcliffe.
Then it states that if he is still dissatisfied he could raise an appeal with the Social Security Appeals Tribunal. It would appear to me that it would be much better for the person to be told his rights. Then, perhaps, if the writer of the letter thought that a discussion would be in order he should say so after stating the person’s rights. This man has said: ‘Because of what I think of the Commonwealth Employment Service at Redcliffe, I am not going back there to discuss it with him and therefore, seeing I am not going to discuss it with him, I am not going to appeal to the Social Security Appeals Tribunal ‘. My advice to this man will be to appeal to the Social Security Appeals Tribunal, even if he does not want to discuss it with the officer in charge at Redcliffe. I ask the Minister whether it is normal to suggest this type of discussion or whether it is in order to suggest a discussion and then an appeal if the person is still dissatisfied. Even though I shall urge this person to lodge an appeal with the Social Security Appeals Tribunal, I ask the Minister if she would ask her officers to glance cursorily over this file once again before the appeal comes in to see whether an injustice has been done to this person.
– I would like to refer briefly to two matters associated with Aboriginal affairs. They relate to slightly different fields but the principal is the same in both instances. Earlier this financial year I understand that the,Department of Aboriginal Affairs made available a sum of about $220,000 for housing in the Bairnsdale area or in Victoria generally. As I understand it, a preliminary advance of $35,000 was made available to purchase or to build eight houses. On 12 September 1978, a Mr Allan McNeill of Bairnsdale made a first approach to buy the first block of land- lot 4 in Ross Street, Bairnsdale. Ke made an offer of $8,500 for the block, the asking price being $9,000. On 13 September 1978, he received a call from the agent expressing interest in the sale and suggesting that they would split the difference. The price charged for the block would be $8,750. On 14 September 1978 a holding deposit of $200 was paid for lot 4, Ross Street, Bairnsdale. On 15 September 1978. the next day, a request for a copy of the title was refused by the agents. It was suggested that the balance of the deposit should be paid by 15 September 1978. The agents in this case were Messrs Goodman and Donoghue, stock and station and real estate agents. The negotiator for the company was a Mr Perry.
I have talked to the National Aboriginal Conference representative in the area today and tonight and I have talked to the man who did all the negotiating. He is prepared to back up his statements with an affidavit and with three witnesses. The lady who raised the matter with me is prepared also to get the same sort of evidence. The first receipt was made out to the Gippsland and East Gippsland Co-operative Ltd. The full title of the Co-operative is the Gippsland Aboriginal Co-operative Ltd. But the agent for the agents suggested that they had better leave out the word ‘Aboriginal’ as the vendors might not be prepared to sell the land. So that word was left out of the first receipt for the holding deposit of $200. On 22 September 1978 the agent asked for the balance of the 10 per cent deposit. This was a fair enough request. But he then raised the price. Incidentally, even though he verbally agreed at the time of issuing the first receipt that the price of the land would be $8,500, he raised the price to $9,500 when he found out that Government money was involved. It is easy to rob the Government if you can get access to Government funds.
On the second occasion, when the balance of the $750 was paid, Mr McNeill, a Mrs Ward who is the secretary of the Co-operative and a Mr Phillip Moss, an officer of the Department of Aboriginal Affairs, took the cheque to the agent and agreed, under duress, to pay the new price of $9,500. The Aboriginal group anxious to preserve the Commonwealth funds, had a valuation made. The valuation of the land was $9,000. In fact, they had hoped to get the land for $8,500, which was below the valuation. The price demanded was $500 over the valuation. A number of other shady things are involved. It looks as though Mr Jennings and a few other people in Victoria are dead right in what they say. There is land racketeering going on all over the State of Victoria. The balance of the amount was to be paid in this instance within 30 days of the sale. But on 24 September Mr McNeill was advised by telephone, and at a later date, or on approximately the same date, a Mrs Skuta was advised by telephone also, with Mr Perry reading over the telephone the contents of a letter, that the vendor did not want to sell lot 4 unless the Cooperative was prepared to purchase lot 3 adjoining for a total sum of $ 1 8,000.
They are robbing the Government, just as all those people they have been talking about in Victoria have been doing for years. They are robbing the Government and robbing the little people who own the land. In this case it was not little people because it turned out to be one of those people Mr Jennings was referring to- a bunch of crooks. Mr Perry said he would not give Mrs Skuta a copy of the letter, and I have no doubt that after what I have said tonight the letter will be burned and will not be available. If that was not suitable, they were also prepared to sell lot 7 at the same price, although we are not sure about that because the people were not prepared to come in. But let us see which firm was involved. It is a company known as Third Tostaree Co. Ltd, whose registered office is at 74 Main Street, Bairnsdale. As far as we know, the name of the vendor was Hall, whose name before she was married was Dwyer.
Let me now deal with the companies, because Third Tostaree and many other Tostaree companies have been speculating all over Gippsland and own vast tracts of land. As far as we can ascertain, some of it has been done by very shady methods, in the same way as they tried to ‘knock off’ $1,000 of Commonwealth funds in this case. The people involved in this company are Mr J. Dwyer, M. Dwyer, K. Dwyer, K. J. Abrahamson, who lives in Sale, near Bairnsdale, a Mr Edgar, and a John Hall who apparently is the husband of Mrs Hall, nee Dywer, and who happens to be a solicitor in the local town. It is not said that he was involved at all but he is a member of the selling company, Third Tostaree Co. Ltd, whose registered office is at 74 Main Street, Bairnsdale. There is also a Mr Graham, who comes from the firm of Warren, Graham and Murphy, solicitors, of Bairnsdale, one of the biggest firms of solicitors in the area. They are all in the racket, and perhaps Mr Jennings will be able to do some undercover sleuthing work on this matter too.
The problem I am raising concerns what is happening around this country. Every time the real estate manipulators find out that government money is involved they are prepared to rob left, right and centre. We are supposed to be tightening our belts. Malcolm Fraser, the Prime Minister of this country, said that life was not meant to be easy, but there are people who are battening on the taxpayer and it has got to be stopped. I hope the Minister will do something about it.
The other matter I want to raise, and my colleague Senator Robertson mentioned this earlier today, concerns the closing down of the Aboriginal housing panel. A number of people are going to be deprived by this Government of their just wages through that closure. I will not go into all the details that Senator Robertson dealt with earlier because his was all solid stuff. However, when the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders Housing Panel was first established I was upset about it because I thought that certain people associated with the original panel were not operating in the best interests of the Aboriginal people of this country. Over the years it has been tidied up and has become a worthwhile institution. It has five staff members, all of whom are on contract. One will still have a job as from Friday but the other people will not. They work on a contract basis, and one of the people under contract is to have a job until January 1979. Two are under contract until February 1979 and one is under contract until August 1 979.
A great furore arose at the time of the Budget about the disbandment of the Aboriginal housing panel, and I am told that an assurance was given that the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs (Mr Viner) was a very honourable man and would make sure that people were not deprived of wages. The director was told not to give notice to anybody but they have now been told as from the final date for disbandment there will be no wages for anybody. There will be no honouring of any contracts and all of them, from the director down, will go straight on to unemployment benefits. If that is the way this Government is going to operate then it will bring about a confrontation with the industrial organisations of this country. It is depriving people of wages they expected to get for at least another three or four months, and no attempt has been made to correct the situation. In fact the Government has been very slimy, very slippery. The Department has agreed to take over all the creditors as at the closing down of the Aboriginal housing panel and is going to pay its debts. If the employees who are under contract try to sue the company they will find that it is bankrupt. This is one of the greatest cheat jobs that has ever gone on and is just as crook as the dealings of the company in Bairnsdale that I mentioned.
The Government has put itself into a situation, starting with the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, of becoming totally dishonest so far as the people who work for the organisation are concerned. The chairman of the Aboriginal housing panel, who at that time was Mr Jim Stanley, confirmed in a letter in January 1978 that the director would be kept on until the end of his contract. The director, apparently because he had been given a legal right, told other people that their contracts would not finish until the dates I have mentioned. This Government has thieved from the employees of the Aboriginal housing panel wages and salaries to which they are justly entitled. I understand that the background to this decision is that a company called Stawell Timber Industries was named publicly and the Prime Minister was involved, directly or indirectly, in Stawell Timber Industries getting wrong tenders and contracts for the construction of Aboriginal housing. This is another crook matter and has to be dealt with through the right channels. I do not care whether it goes to a committee or to a royal commission. The people who should be investigated are those I have mentioned tonight who are thieving from a Commonwealth department through the bad things in Victoria that Mr Jennings pointed out. The Prime Minister ought to be investigated by a royal commission because of his direct of indirect support for Stawell Timber Industries. The Minister for Aboriginal Affairs needs two royal commissions to see what he has been doing in the field of depriving employees of wages. I hope that all these things will be taken on board and that something will be done about them.
– May I take this opportunity to say a few words on a couple of matters. Firstly, I congratulate the Minister for Social Security (Senator Guilfoyle), who is in charge of the House, for her recent victory against those who sought to treat her rather shabbily. The announcement today that the Government has retreated from certain decisions it had made, in opposition to a statement she had made in the Senate, is a victory for her and for the Senate as a whole. I congratulate the Minister. I also direct your attention, Mr President, to the state of the galleries over the past hour or so and say to you that if you treat the constituents of this country as thieves and search them when they come into the galleries then they will stay away. Perhaps there is a lesson to be learned. I must admit that there are a couple of ways to ensure that the galleries are empty. One is to treat those present to rather boring speeches and the other is to prevent people from coming into the place. Nevertheless, this matter is on the Notice Paper and I should not refer to it at length. However, I repeat that if we treat constituents as thieves they will stay away. They do not deserve that treatment and I suggest to you, Mr President, that you take that advice for what it is worth.
The matter that inspired me to rise tonight, Mr President, is that today you wore a new wig into this place. I can say to you that I was rather attached to the old wig, which had a sparrowlike look about it. It looked worn, but nevertheless in some way it was cherished and suited you rather well. I think the new one you wore today needs to be treated pretty savagely. I think it ought to be put through a wringer or a washing machine. It ought to be kicked about; it ought to get that worn look about it. It does not suit you well.
– It is the Minister’s birthday, is it?
– No. I was quite surprised to see that today we were presented with something that would have suited Judge Jeffreys very well but which does not suit you, Mr President, one scrap. It is far too new. I know you were uncomfortable with it because you fingered it so often. My advice to you privately and now publicly is that you should treat it with disdain, kick it about a little bit, wear it a little bit like a new lawyer who goes into a new court with a new wig, trying to establish a reputation of some experience. What does he do? He treats his wig in a way -
– Like he treats his wife.
-No, not as he treats his wife. I am serious about this. I did not think that tonight I would be contributing a short speech on the President’s wig. Nevertheless, I think it is necessary that something should be said about it. How does one treat a President’s wig? One ought to consider it to be the trappings of the past. Do away with it, burn it, dispense with it. Mr President, you should do with it what your predecessor did- put it in the wastepaper basket from time to time. Do anything with it, but if you have to wear it, at least wear it in a different way.
– Upside down.
– All I am suggesting, Mr President, is that it would be far easier for you and much better if you did not wear it at all. You look so well in the ruffles that you wear that you have a certain dignity in this place that does not need the wig. For some reason today this new wig sort of offended me. Someone is waving at me in a way that says to me: ‘Finish what you have said because you have said enough.’ It is advice that I have been given by Senator Chaney in the past. I have always followed the signals that Senator Chaney has given me in the past when he was Government Whip. Now that he has taken upon himself the new responsibility of being Minister for Administrative Services, of course I am less likely to heed his advice. Like all politicians who get to their feet on very important occasions like this during the adjournment debate, it is very difficult for me to find a quick ending to what I have to say.
I have covered several things tonight. Firstly, I have said congratulations to you, Mr President. I have also drawn attention to the state of the House. It is tempting for me at this late stage to call a quorum, but I will not. I have also said to you, Mr President, that perhaps it would be better if you came into this place with a wig that was slightly soiled rather than that magnificent adornment you had today which was so clean and so pure that it gave to you an air of inexperience. Perhaps I might suggest to you that it would be better to wear the old one no matter how worn it may be rather than this borrowed one. Perhaps you ought to wait until you get your own wig.
– May I say to Senator Georges that I appreciate his very fraternal advice in this matter. The fact is that the wig I wore today previously graced the head of a very learned gentleman in Australia, who has loaned the wig to me because my Bonnie Prince Charlie wig is almost in pieces. I also appreciate Senator George’s references to that Bonnie Prince Charlie wig. I can assure Senator Georges that the wig I am wearing now has been through the mill to quite a large degree and has kept its line. It has not been kicked around but of course the person wearing that wig may often so experience things. I can assure Senator Georges that it is not a new wig.
- Mr President, I think Senator Georges has shown that he is a raging conservative. He does not like change. He likes to see the old familiar faces in the Gallery and the old familiar wigs on the President. I think he is resistant to change and perhaps resistant to progress. A number of honourable senators have raised matters during the adjournment debate. Senator Tate raised a matter regarding tax avoidance and advertising and made comments in that regard. Senator Carrick, the Leader of the Government in the Senate who represents the Treasurer (Mr Howard) in this place, heard the remarks of Senator Tate and asked me to indicate that he would refer them to the Treasurer for his consideration. Senator Colston advised me of the matter he would be raising in the adjournment debate with regard to the Commonwealth Employment Service and a letter from my Department in Queensland to a person who had been seeking an unemployment benefit.
Senator Colston raised a number of questions and I undertook to seek from the Commonwealth Employment Service at Redcliffe the answers to the question as to whether this constituent was to be referred to a position and if so, to what position. With regard to the matter that Senator Colston asked me to comment upon, that is, whether it is normal to discuss with the Commonwealth Employment Service before making an application to a Social Security Appeals Tribunal, I would say it is not necessary to take that step because every person seeking a benefit who is refused a benefit has that right of access to the Social Security Appeals Tribunal. However, on reading the letter that Senator Colston has given to me, I can only assume that it may be that there is an employment opportunity that has to be considered unless the constituent were to present himself in a way which might enhance the prospects for that. However, I will seek a response on this matter from the Department and through the Department from the Commonwealth Employment Service. I will advise Senator Colston of the details as they are relayed to me.
Senator Keeffe raised some matters regarding Aboriginal Affairs, Aboriginal housing and housing panels. I will see that the matters he has raised and his comments are referred to the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs (Mr Viner). I am unaware of some of the statements that Senator Keeffe has made and whether they are accurate. I certainly do not treat lightly some of the allegations he has made with regard to practices of Ministers, Prime Ministers and others. I have no knowledge of the matters raised by Senator Keeffe but I will refer them to the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and seek a response from him.
– I wish to take a few minutes of the Senate ‘s time simply to comment on some matters which were raised earlier this evening by Senator Walsh in a speech which was of a type not often heard in this chamber. I am pleased to say that it was of a type not often heard in this chamber. It was the sort of speech which I think the Bulletin characterises -
- Mr President, I take a point of order. You know that the Minister is quite out of order by referring in the adjournment debate to a debate which took place earlier in the day. I am certain that you will not allow the Minister to proceed.
– In this case, Senator Georges, I indicate to you that the relevancy of matters which are discussed during the first reading stage of a Bill is somewhat different from the relevancy of a specific matter which is discussed during a debate. So according to the great book of Odgers, the Minister’s remarks are in order and we may carry on.
– With great respect to you, Mr President, it seems that this is the first time that I have heard a ruling of this sort during an adjournment debate. Perhaps we ought to get such a ruling when others are present. Really, if we are going to hand out advice to Senator Walsh, perhaps he ought to be advised. He is not in the chamber at the moment. I did not realise that the Minister could raise this matter in the adjournment debate. I make the point, Mr President, if I may, that if Senator Chaney is going to raise this matter in the adjournment debate and if your ruling is that remarks made during a first reading speech may be referred to in the adjournment debate, then having got your ruling we would be better advised. In my experience, we have never previously heard such a ruling namely, that an honourable senator may refer during the adjournment debate to a speech given in a first reading debate which is part of the normal debate of the day. If the Minister for Administrative Services, Senator Chaney, wishes he can take up this matter tomorrow because the first reading debate is still very much alive. He ought not to take advantage of the adjournment debate to say something critical of Senator Walsh.
– I have ruled on this matter.
- Mr President, the simple reason why I wish to say something tonight is that the speech to which I have referred cast aspersions upon a series of people and I would like to have something in the Hansard record with respect to those aspersions. I do not wish to make a very long speech but as I have said -
- Mr President, I rise to a point of order relating to the same matter. I ask you, Mr President, to rule again on this matter. The first reading debate is still in continuation.
- Mr President, I rise to a point of order. Senator O’Byrne is canvassing a ruling that you have given.
– First of all, let me hear Senator O’Byrne.
– I am canvassing your ruling, Mr President, because it is taking an unfair advantage. If we wanted to call for a quorum and have Senator Walsh present in the chamber we could do so.
– He has probably gone home to bed.
– He has not gone home.
– How would you know? Call for a quorum and see.
– You call for a quorum. Are you drawing attention to the state of the House?
– No. You are the one who wants Senator Walsh in here, not me.
– I want this debate to take place on a proper footing. The debate of earlier today has adjourned and we are in the adjournment debate. The Minister now wants to open up the earlier debate without Senator Walsh being present. There is no Standing Order which allows him to do that.
– Order! Senator O’Byrne, you are canvassing my ruling. I have ruled that it is permissible to refer to irrelevant matters which have been raised in a first reading debate, but it is not good procedure- nor would I allow it- to continue a debate on a specific Bill. But this matter relates to a debate on a money Bill. As to the relevancy of this matter I noticed that when you were President, Senator O’Byrne, you ruled that mention may be made in respect to anything which is near to misrepresentation. I know the Minister has not mentioned misrepresentation.
– Of whom?
– I do not want to make a speech on this matter. I have ruled on it. I stand by my ruling. Having so ruled, the matter is concluded. I call the Minister.
- Mr President–
- Senator Keeffe, are you canvassing my ruling?
– No, Mr President, I am not canvassing your ruling. I want to raise another point of order.
– What is it?
– It is on the same subject.
– You are canvassing his ruling.
– No, I am not canvassing the ruling at all. This matter is between the President and me at this time. The points made by you, Mr President, I think are quite valid, but in my years here I have never seen a situation raised in this way during the adjournment debate. That is the point that I make. With great respect to you, Mr President, I think you have not taken that into consideration. But I am not canvassing the ruling you have made regarding the Minister.
– Of course you are.
– Okay. If you want to argue the point I will call for a quorum and you will find out where you stand.
– Order! I do not want any more points of order or any further comment on this matter. I call the Minister.
-Mr President, as I made -
- Mr President, with respect, let me -
– Are you canvassing my ruling, Senator Georges?
– No, I am not canvassing your ruling. I want to ask a question of you. May I ask a question of you?
– The Minister is about to raise a matter. Some of us have spoken in the adjournment debate. I take it that if the Minister raises a matter which is contentious then those of us who have already spoken during the adjournment debate may come back into the debate.
– You cannot come back into the debate if you have already spoken.
– The question I am asking you now, Mr President, is: If Senator Chaney is going to raise this matter and to claim that there has been misrepresentation- not of himself, but of someone else- are we then in a position to enter the debate to discuss the matter, to question or in some way to rebut any matter which Senator Chaney has raised?
– I indicate further that if a debate is sought to be continued the motion That the Senate do now adjourn’ must be negatived and then the debate can go on on the matter. Otherwise the position is as I have stated, and I do not wish to repeat it. It is permissible in the adjournment debate to refer to irrelevant matters discussed on the first reading of a Bill which the Senate may not amend; but it is not regarded as good procedure, when a debate is in progress and the question ‘That the Senate do now adjourn’ is put, to continue discussing that matter in the adjournment debate. I will say no more. (Quorum formed).
– Before I was interrupted on a number of occasions by points of order, I was trying to explain that the simple reason why I want something to be put on the record tonight is that an attack has been made on a number of people and I would simply like something to be on the daily record of this place in response to that attack. The nature of the attack can best be gauged by the wide range of people it covered. I think it started on Mr Lynch; and then it moved to Mr Crichton-Browne, to the prosecutor in a court case, to the police who were involved in the case and to Sir Charles Court. In fact the range of people attacked in itself says something about the nature of the attack. I do not think I need to discuss in any detail the role of the prosecutor in the prosecution of Mr Crichton-Browne, the role of the police or the role of Sir Charles Court. I do not think any matters raised require any comment.
In respect of Mr Lynch, of course, this is just one of a series of attacks which has been going for some time. I would simply like to put on the record of the Senate that Mr Lynch ‘s affairs were investigated very thoroughly last year and were subjected to independent examination by Mr Stephen Charles, Q.C., who gave an opinion about Mr Lynch ‘s affairs which is well known to this Parliament and to the public namely, that Mr Lynch was guilty of neither illegality nor impropriety. With respect to Mr Crichton-Browne, who was subjected to prosecution, I think the simplest point that can be made is that on my understanding of the case Mr Crichton-Browne admitted the basic facts which were raised by the prosecution and made no attempt to hide them; both before going into court and in court he denied that he had done anything wrong; and he was duly acquitted by the court. Those are the simple facts of that matter.
The last thing I wanted to put on the record in this place is simply this: I think that, if one is looking for an explanation of why this sort of attack is made in this place by Senator Walsh, one should look at the state of the Australian Labor Party in Western Australia. It is represented by four senators and it has been represented by one member out of a possible ten in the House of Representatives over the last two parliaments. I would simply like to say to members of the Opposition that I believe the sort of speech which was made by Senator Walsh tonight is not the sort of speech which the people of
Australia wish to hear from their representatives. I would suggest that one of the reasons that the Labor Party in Western Australia is in the pitiable state that it is in at the moment is that it is not getting on with the job on matters that are of interest to the people of Australia but is engaging in the sort of exercise we have heard tonight. My confident prediciton would be that the Labor Party will stay in the wilderness in Western Australia, both in the State Parliament and federally, if it continues to give the sort of representation which Senator Walsh put forward tonight.
– I do not think Senator Chaney’s remarks should go unchallenged because Senator Walsh today, I thought, made out a case which justifies some reply from the State Government. I do not want to enter into the question of whether the judgment of the court was wrong. Firstly, with regard to the Lynch affair, whilst there was a thorough inquiry and there was a statement from Mr Lynch ‘s accountant which Mr Fraser accepted as exonerating Mr Lynch -
– Quite rightly so.
- Senator Missen may know more than I do. I am not condemning Mr Fraser. What I am saying is that he, on the statement of the accountant, exonerated Mr Lynch and extracts from the statement were made public. In the latest edition of the news sheet entitled Canberra Comments which circulates around this chamber there is reference to a demand to make that accountant’s report public. Mr Lynch says that he would like it to be made public and that he has no opposition to it being made public. Mr Fraser has said that he would want it to be made public. Yet it is not made public. Who is fooling whom in this? (Quorum formed). In view of the comment in Canberra Comments that there should be an inquiry and in view of statements from the parties who have the document that they favour its release, it should be released to allow us to judge it. No one is exonerated when the facts are not publicly known, whatever Senator Missen says.
With regard to the case of Mr CrichtonBrowne, on no occasion did Senator Walsh say that the court was wrong. A court does not find that a person is not guilty; it finds that the case is not proved on the evidence which is presented. In the case of Mr Crichton-Browne the court found that the evidence did not establish a case and, therefore, he was discharged and found ‘not guilty’. Senator Walsh’s complaint was that the State Government employed the prosecutor and that a serious defence was dismissed in some 1 9 lines. He complained that it was a different sort of prosecution from those put up against the woodchip bomber and against those who demonstrated on the wharves. Senator Walsh’s attack was upon the State Government of Western Australia and he alleged that there was prima facie evidence of misdoings with regard to share transactions. The case was not proved because the prosecution made no attempt to prove it. How can anyone come into this chamber and say that Crichton-Browne was not guilty of the offence? No court conviction is recorded against him.
Senator Chaney made a passionate speech about the fact that the Labor Party has only one Western Australian member in the House of Representatives. The Labor Party had five Tasmanian members in that House, but now we have none. Of course, our number of representatives was reduced in every State. Let us look at the result of the by-election held in New South Wales last week and ask how many members from Western Australia we will have in the House of Representatives after the next election. It is not for Senator Chaney to say that we are not interested in the people.
The prestige of the Fraser Government which he supports is today lower than that of any previous government. If an election or a by-election were to be held in the immediate future Senator Chaney would find the results surprising. The votes polled at the various ballot boxes in the Werriwa by-election showed definitely that the biggest swing to Labor occurred in those districts which normally vote Liberal and in the middle class districts. Labor received its smallest increase in the proportion of votes in the working class districts. Perhaps we could not have polled more votes in those districts. Only one ballot box recorded a win for the Liberal Party candidate, and that was the ballot box which in the 1977 election recorded a four to one vote in favour of the Liberals. At this by-election it recorded only a two to one majority. So it appears that all the Liberal Party supporters have vanished. Senator Chaney should not say that the Labor Party has lost prestige by making attacks such as that made by Senator Walsh.
– And we won the Army Camp for the first time in the history of the seat.
– What Senator Sibraa says is true. At the present time only the Labor Party is protecting the interests of the Australian public. Never before has a government or a Prime Minister been discredited so much. As
Senator McLaren pointed out, the Prime Minister today retracted all of the Budget proposals. Whereas previously he intended to persecute everyone, now that the by-election in New South Wales has been held the story is a different one. So the Labor Party is riding on a wave of prestige at the present time. The more corruption that becomes evident in the Liberal Party- there is plenty of it to expose- the better it is for the Labor Party.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 11.28 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated:
asked the Minister for Administrative Services, upon notice, on 1 March 1978:
What amount, if any, did the Commonwealth pay for the hire of the Silver J u bilee train.
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
The Royal Silver Jubilee Exhibition train was specially fitted out by the Public Transport Commission of New South Wales to meet specifications of the Silver Jubilee Commemorative Organisation. The Organisation has paid to the Commission, the sum of $250,000 in respect of the fitting out costs and running costs. Other amounts totalling $146,841 have been paid to the Queensland Railways, Victorian Railways, Australian National Railways and Western Australian Government Railways in respect of running costs incurred on those rail systems.
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice, on 4 April 1978:
– The Prime Minister has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question: (1)I have nothing to add to the statement I made on 24 May 1 977 concerning the alleged activities of the CIA.
asked the Minister for Administrative Services, upon notice, on 6 April 1978:
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
The staff comprised: 1 Executive Director. 1 Director of Information. 1 Administrative Assistant. 1 Project Officer. 2 Steno-secretaries Grade 2. 2 Typists Grade 1 . 1 Clerical Assistant Grade 1 .
These personnel were engaged for varying periods of time.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Transport, upon notice, on 1 June 1978:
– The Minister for Transport has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Transport, upon notice, on 15 August 1978:
– The Minister for Transport has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
asked the Minister for Social Security, upon notice, on 16 August 1978:
Will the Minister provide the text of the Department of Social Security circular in relation to reverse charge telephone calls, as requested in Question No. 486 (Hansard, 9-10June 1978, page 2815).
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
The policy relating to the acceptance by Social Security offices of reverse charge telephone calls was laid down in a memorandum to State Directors from the Director-General in November 1976. This document has been passed on as an instruction to regional offices of the Department and has also formed the basis of answers to several questions in this place since December 1976.
I refer the honourable Senator to Hansard, 6 December 1976, page 2570 and Hansard, 9 November 1977, page 2419 for previous answers to questions on this matter. I believe that they will also satisfactorily answer his question without notice in Hansard, 9 May 1 978, page 1 480.
Sale of Furniture from Official Residences (Question No. 591)
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice, on 15 August 1978:
– The Prime Minister has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
Procedures for the disposal of surplus furniture and other stores arc set out in the Finance Directions issued by the Department of Finance. Under these Directions, my Department declared the items as surplus to requirements, and the Department of Administrative Services approved the sale.
The items sold were offered as 3 1 separate lots at the auction. A description of each lot and the price received are given below:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Environment, Housing and Community Development, upon notice, on 16 August 1978:
What negotiations have occurred between the Australian Government and various State Governments to finalise the ratification of the Migratory Birds Treaty.
– The Minister for Environment, Housing and Community Development has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
The Australia-Japan Migratory Birds Agreement deals mainly with matters for which the States have had traditional responsibility. In accordance with agreements reached at the last two Premier’s Conferences the Prime Minister has written to the State Premiers and the Chief Minister in the Northern Territory to invite each State and the Northern Territory to legislate as appropriate to implement the obligations imposed by the Agreement. To this end it is proposed that discussion take place as soon as possible between Commonwealth and State officers to consider what action needs to be taken to implement the Agreement’s obligations in Australian law.
States Grants (Home Care) Act 1969: Cuts in Subsidies (Question No. 639)
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice, on 16 August 1978:
– The Prime Minister has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Transport, upon notice, on 23 August 1978:
Did a statement in the Sun Herald, 20 August 1978, indicate that ‘domestic airlines have introduced the new standby fares’ to torpedo moves for cheaper fares; if so, can the travelling public expect that cheaper air fares are unlikely to occur in Australia.
– The Minister for Transport has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
The full text of the statement in the Sun Herald of 20 August 1 978 is as follows:
Cynics suggest domestic airlines have introduced the new standby fares to torpedo moves for cheaper air fares. According to some reports from Europe the standby fares scheme is not working there because many travellers have found ways of ensuring seats by taking out full fare tickets and then cancelling. ‘
The standby fares have been implemented for a trial period and their continuation, and extension to other routes, is dependent upon the outcome of the trial.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Transport, upon notice, on 23 August 1978:
Is lime yellow the internationally recognised emergency colour, as mentioned in the Sun Herald, 20 August 1 978; if so, does the Department of Transport intend to paint its new crash tenders lime yellow.
– The Minister for Transport has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
Annex 14 to the Convention of International Civil Aviation specifies, in regard to the marking of objects:
Recommendation- When mobile objects are marked by colour, a single conspicuous colour, preferably yellow for service vehicles and red for emergency vehicles should be used. ‘
Lime yellow is not the internationally recognised emergency colour. Therefore the Department of Transport’s new fire tenders will remain painted red.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Transport, upon notice, on 23 August 1978:
– The Minister for Transport has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
Montreal Olympic Games: Support by Qantas (Question No. 694) Senator Puplick asked the Minister representing the Minister for Transport, upon notice, on 23 August 1978:
What financial or other support did Qantas give to the Australian Olympic Federation or to any individual athletes or officials in connection with the costs of Australia’s participation in the 1976 Olympic Games in Montreal.
– The Minister for Transport has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs the following question, upon notice, on 12 September 1978:
I ) Were claims made in the Parliament of Papua New Guinea by the Deputy Opposition Leader (Sir John Guise) that the Queensland Government is directly involved in blackbirding’ Papua New Guineans for cheap labour, and that ships operated by the Queensland Department of Aboriginal and Islander Advancement in the Torres Strait are luring Papua New Guineans on board with promises of wages and conditions which do not materialise.
- Senator Durack passed the question for my attention as Minister representing the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs, who has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
I understand from available information that in his statement of 7 August 1978 Sir John Guise sought, inter alia, an assurance from Mr Olewale that joint action by Papua New Guinea and Australian authorities would be taken to stamp out an activity which, he said, in many cases resembled the evils of ‘blackbirding’. I am informed also that in his statement in the Papua New Guinea Parliament on 15 August 1978, Sir John Guise mentioned, inter alia, the term ‘blackbirding’ and said that it was being conducted on pearling luggers owned ‘ by the Queensland Government by the Department of Aboriginal and Island Affairs’.
Sir John Guise further said on 1 5 August that he would not reveal any information on these matters coming to him, in his capacity as an elected member, from anyone from Australia or Papua New Guinea.
asked the Minister for Administrative Services, upon notice, on 12 September 1978:
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Capital Territory, upon notice, on 24 August 1978:
Why does the Australian Capital Territory Electricity Authority refuse to accept photocopies of documents in support of a person ‘s application for an electrician ‘s licence.
– The Minister for the Capital Territory has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
I am informed by my Department that:
Applications for the issue of Electrician ‘s Licences in the Territory are dealt with in accordance with the requirements of the Electricity Ordinance 1971.
A person is eligible for the grant of an Electrician ‘s Licence if he has the qualifications and experience denned in that Ordinance.
The ACT Electricity Authority seeks written evidence of qualification and experience from all applicants and, in doing so, requires the submission of original documents. Photocopies are not accepted because it is considered that significant alteration, which is difficult to detect, can be made in the copying process.
With one exception, all other licensing bodies in Australia demand the production of original documents before proceeding to the issue of an Electrician ‘s Licence and it is considered that the present practice should be maintained in the interest of public safety.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice, on 14 September:
– The Minister for Defence has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
(a) The future employment opportunities for ASCO staff who may be retrenched are of primary concern to the Government, and my Department is maintaining close consultation with the Public Service Board and the Department of Employment and Industrial Relations in examining the issues involved.
asked the Attorney-General, upon notice, on 14 September 1978:
When will the Attorney-General table, and make available to the public, the documents presented to the Fifth International Trade Law Seminar held in Canberra at the Academy of Social Sciences on 15 July 1978, and, in particular, the paper by Professor K.. W. Ryan on the international application of United States anti-trust legislation.
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
The volume of Papers and Summary of Discussions of the Fifth International Trade Law Seminar is now being printed. I expect that it will be ready for tabling during the present sittings. I understand that after tabling, copies will be available for purchase through the Australian Government Publishing Service.
Use of Toxic Chemicals in Stockfeed (Question No. 812)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
There is strict legislation covering the marketing, packaging and labelling of pesticides, stock medicines, stock feeds and stock feed additives intended for use in Australia. This however, could not guarantee against a mishap caused by human error as was the case in the USA.
Recognising the possibility of similar unforsecable incidents occurring in Australia the Standing Committee on Agriculture has initiated a study to determine whether legislation and administrative procedures available in Australia would be adequate to deal with such incidents. This study involves consultation with all Commonwealth and State authorities and should be completed in the near future.
A related development is that the Australian Environment Council has established a National Advisory Committee on Chemicals to evaluate all toxic chemicals used in industry with a view to regulating their labelling, distribution, use and disposal.
asked the Minister for Social Security, upon notice, on 19 September 1978:
What are the details for the period January to March 1978 relating to the questions asked in Question No. 642, the answer to which was provided on 13 September 1978 (Senator Hansard, page 589).
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
NSW-141; Vic. -25; Qld-5; SA-8; WA-5; Tas.-5; NT-1; ACT-3; Australia- 193.
NSW-30.45 per cent; Vic.-3.97 per cent; Qld-0.49 per cent; SA- 3.03 per cent; WA- 2.23 per cent; Tas. -6.58 per cent; NT-6.66 per cent; ACT-23.08 per cent; Australia- 7. 1 5 per cent.
NSW-23, 16.31 per cent; Vic.-8, 32.00 per cent; Qld-0 per cent; SA-1, 12.5 per cent; WA-1, 20.0 per cent; Tas.-O per cent; NT-0 per cent; ACT-1, 33.33 per cent; Australia- 34, 17.62 percent.
-On 31 May 1978 (Hansard pages 2115-16) Senator Missen asked the Attorney-General a question without notice concerning the workload and staff levels of the Commonwealth Ombudsman’s Office. The Prime Minister has supplied the following information for answer to the honourable senator’s question:
The Ombudsman has advised that to 3 1 July 1 978 he had received written complaints from 2,952 persons and organisations. He had received and dealt with a comparable number of inquiries made by phone, and in person to that date. At 31 July 1978 he had not completed his investigations into 1 ,287 of the 2,952 written complaints received.
The Ombudsman sought an increase in staff ceiling for 1978-79 and I have authorised an increase on existing levels for his Office for 1978-79.
– On 12 September Senator Robertson asked me, as Minister representing the Prime Minister, a question without notice concerning the Indian floods. The Prime Minister has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
The Government of India has not approached the Australian Government for any form of assistance. However, in my message of sympathy and concern to the Indian Prime Minister on 6 September I said that my Government would be considering how it could help in alleviating the suffering caused by the floods. On 12 September I announced that the Government would provide an immediate cash grant of $100,000 to the Indian Government to help alleviate the suffering caused by the floods. The Government urges Australians to give generously to the various Australian charitable organisations involved in assisting victims of the Indian floods.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 26 September 1978, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1978/19780926_senate_31_s78/>.